Warren swings (like a gecko tail do)

What I heard from an MSNBC announcer, about Elizabeth Warren at the 2/19/20 Democratic candidates’ debate:

She came out swinging from the gecko.

I had this moment of visualizing Warren, her hands firmly grasping the gecko’s tail above her, swinging vigorously from side to side, like a fiercely determined pendulum.

Then of course I realized that what the announcer had said was

She came out swinging from the get-go.

I’ve generally stopped recording mishearings (and misreadings) — there are just too many of them, every day, all the time — but occasionally one produces a notable sense of puzzled derangement. As here.

Swing like a gecko tail. Geckos’ tails turn out to be capable of swinging on their own, at least for half an hour or so after being detached from the body. From the New Scientist, “Zoologger: Gecko’s amputated tail has life of its own” by Michael Marshall on 1/19/12, about the species Eublepharis macularius:


(#1) A leopard gecko

Shedding appendages to escape predators may sound extreme, but autotomy, as it’s known, is actually rather common. Many lizards and snakes do it, as do octopuses, spiders and even a few mammals: threatened Cuvier’s spiny rats sometimes shed their tails. Sea cucumbers are the true champions, though: when predators attack they literally spill their guts.

When a limb or organ gets separated from the body it normally stops working pretty quickly. People who have their heads chopped off, for instance, retain consciousness for seconds at most.

Not so the tails of leopard geckos: they can stay active for 30 minutes after their owners have abandoned them. Timothy Higham of the University of California, Riverside, and Anthony Russell of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, showed in 2009 that the geckos’ detached tails can pull off two different manoeuvres.

They rhythmically swing from side to side, and for the first few minutes after amputation they also flip and jump up to 3 centimetres into the air.

Warren swings. My title, a play on this song title, from Wikipedia:

“England Swings (Like a Pendulum Do)” is a 1965 country music song written and performed by Roger Miller. … Petula Clark (from the Colour My World album) and Pat Boone both released cover versions in 1967.

You can listen to the Miller original here (#2).

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