Here kitty, kitty

The tiger lunged at me and roared in astonishing fury, roaring and roaring, his giant incisors ready to crush my skull, his enormous claws slashing through the space between us, six feet and a thick steel mesh. It was an incredible display of violence, just marvelous. He lunged at me again, louder and angrier. But for the steel mesh, that big cat could kill me in seconds, I thought, crush my skull with one chomp, scoop out my insides with a swipe of that paw. A docent came up and drew me to the side, in front of another pen and another tiger, a tigress lolling lazily in the sun and paying me no heed whatsoever. Rajah doesn’t like great big men, she said. Your size is threatening. I’m threatening him? It’s a territorial thing, she said. Rajah got another glimpse of me and snarled viciously. Slash. The docent pulled me back into a corner, out of view. Rajah settled down, but I couldn’t stay hidden in there. Maybe it’s the blazer, I said. It was sandy brown and perhaps in it I somehow looked like a tiger’s worst enemy back in the jungles of Malaya. Maybe, she said, so I took off the coat and walked past the cage in a bright Kelly green shirt. It fooled Rajah for a minute. But just for a minute, and as I walked away he let out an absolutely blood curdling murderous roar and lunged one last time, all huge teeth and gigantic claws and rippling tiger muscularity. The children watching screeched and scattered, their mothers running after them. Wow. That was the coolest thing, and I felt strangely pleased with myself, a week shy of 62 and intimidating a man-eating tiger.

Painted ladies

Dusk is nigh and the vast diurnal herds of butterflies have bedded down for the night, a billion butterflies clinging to the undersides of a billion leaves, and just in time too, as bats by the millions are stirring in their bat houses and oh what a bat butterfly massacre that would be, fading light and frantic fluttering and no sound at all.

Coprolite

Today is National Poop Day, apparently, and here is my fossilized poop collection. It didn’t used to be a collection but a stoner asked me what it was and I said it’s a coprolite, and he said what’s that and I said fossilized feces and he dropped it. He apologized profusely but I said don’t worry it only cost me a buck and he laughed and sniffed his fingers and went to wash his hands.

I was told by the fossil poop dealer that it was probably from an amphibian and is probably from the Permian. Which means, if true, that whatever species laid down this shit probably went extinct with 90% of all species on Earth at the end of the Permian a little over a quarter billion years ago. Sad.

Phonology

Turns out that the word helicopter is made from the the classic Greek stems helico, meaning spiral, and pter, meaning winged, as in pterodactyl or pterosaur or pterpaulanmerisaur. Which means that helicopter should be pronounced helicoter, long o, silent p, which will make you even more irritating to your friends. Try it next time one is noisily circling the neighborhood while you are all trying to watch your favorite show. Fucking helicopters they shout. That’s pronounced heliCOter you shout back. They stare at you. The P is silent, you shout. Or scream, really, so they can understand the important phonological distinction in all that noise. But no one has ever screamed that a P is silent before, not ever. It’s not something one would ordinarily scream, not like screaming fire or watch out or Stella. So now everyone is staring at you, the helicopter is gone, and you wished you’d never read this post.

Parthenogenesis

“Female termites in Japan are reproducing without males” – Newsweek

Parthenogenesis. Fairly common among the social insects. It’s cloning. Upside is that it avoids sexual reproduction, which takes up considerable resources and requires otherwise useless males like yours truly. Downside is that eventually something comes up that your hardwired DNA can’t handle. You’ve parthogenetically opted your DNA out of natural selection. Extinction looms. Which is what happens when selfish genes are way too selfish. Hence most species have sex instead of cloning around.

Rabies

[2017–unfinished but whatever….]
Two rabid foxes enter a couple of tents and bite a number of Israeli soldiers. Just to be sure all twenty soldiers are being tested. The foxes were killed immediately of course. They probably made little effort to hide. This makes no sense, if course, to the soldiers and definitely not to the foxes. But it make perfect sense to the rabies virus, which needs to be transferred to a new body by saliva. So the virus, as unthinking as something infecting your computer, infects the brain which alters behavior and makes the fox extremely agressive and fearless and perhaps even compels it to seek out and bite any warm body it can find. Thus these tiny desert foxes enter the tents and bite soldiers. Virus transmitted, the viral host’s role is completed and the host’s body can be destroyed. It is all so bloody logical, free will tossed thrown out the window. Of course, these are just foxes, not people. But there is no reason we can’t be working on behalf on viruses (or bacteria, parasites, organizations, ideologies) the same way. Sometimes we blow ourselves up in a bus full of people. Sometimes we live in a house with fifty cats.