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.

Advertisements

Etymology

I suspect that most verbs began as nouns verbed and an ungodly number of nouns were once verbs nouned and not once but sometimes many times this renouning and reverbing takes place, leaving dictionaries a record of wanton anarchy and the decline of values over and over again.

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.

UFOs

(2015)

Whatever happened to UFOs?  A sad victim of ubiquitous cell phone cameras. I mean there should have been thousands of images and video–with audio and pop ups–by now. But there aren’t. Just cheesy Roswell videos and ancient aliens and the occasional creepy inexplicable account like John McPhee’s that still makes us wonder, even if just a little bit.

Perhaps UFO’s have fallen victim to this, the internet, the digital universe. We stare into screens now looking for mysteries and visitations and fantasies and myths to swallow whole, like Athena, fearful of dull, inexorable, science. We stare so hard that even if there were lights flitting about above us we wouldn’t see them. We wouldn’t even believe them unless they appeared on Facebook with a zillion likes. Reality is virtual now, and even analog fantasies are not to believed unless digitized.

Huge hands

Huge hands with huge fingers are not an evolutionary advantage on a smart phone. I see my kind becoming extinct, like some sort of vastly fingered megafauna. I go to the La Brea tar pits and look at the skeletons of megatheriums with their huge clumsy claws and envision me thudding at a tiny digital keyboard with ridiculous fingers, tormented by GIFs.

Losing it in the tabloids

Brick Wahl losing it in the comments section of a British tabloid:

There is almost nothing correct in this article. Aegirocassis benmoulae was not a lobster. It was not even kind of like a lobster. Not even sorta kinda vaguely like a lobster. Indeed, there is virtually no connection whatsoever between Aegirocassis benmoulae and lobsters. Had you printed the actual artist’s rendering of Aegirocassis benmoulae your readers would have noticed, after tearing themselves away from Kim Kardashian’s ass, that the lobster comparison was a bit of a stretch. Indeed we human beings are more closely related to frogs, flamingos and lungfish than Aegirocassis benmoulae was to a lobster. Which makes me a six and half foot lungfish and you a hopefully soon to be extinct failure of a science editor.

Somebody had to say it, if David Attenborough won’t.

Alas, this comment was deleted by The Express. I knew I shouldn’t have said Kim Kardashian’s ass. Arse maybe.

express_logo 

Lobsters the size of HUMANS swam the seas 480 million years ago, new fossil reveals
A Caribbean lobster

A GIGANTIC lobster bigger than a human once populated the oceans, a new fossil find has revealed.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/563304/Lobsters-size-HUMANS-swam-seas-480million-years-ago