Archive for the ‘Language and animals’ Category

The egg patrol: plastic to porcelain

May 20, 2018

It started on cable tv (in a commercial) and ended in England’s industrial Midlands (with birds — wrens and a finch — and a museum). All to cook eggs.


Land of Encroachment: the lizards

May 7, 2018

From Emily Rizzo, in South Florida, on Facebook:

They may look like anoles but they are two feet long and moving north. Let’s hope bobcats like to eat them.

The bobcats and the alligators come with the territory, but there are plenty of introduced pests, both animal and vegetable.



April 25, 2018

My morning name a couple of days ago, but it came with a (mental) video that presented itself as offering ground-breaking insights into the structure of language but turned out to be a series of professional-grade photos of the feet (well, the right foot in each case) of former graduate students of mine. Not in any way erotic — I’m not especially given to podophilia — but, once I came to full consciousness and was no longer in the grip of my vivid dream, decidedly creepy.

One of the feet was that of a serious dancer; most were, oh let me say it anyway, pedestrian; but one was a sturdy male foot (belonging to a man I’ll refer to as PD) with extreme polydactyly: two perfect small toes between the big toe and the second toe, and one equally perfect small toe between each of the three remaining pairs. So ten toes in all, making a double-dactylic foot. (Cue: poetic meter.)

Apparently an extremely rare form of polydactyly (whether pedal or manual), not illustrated in anything I could find on the net.

(I don’t recall having seen PD’s feet, but I suspect that his toes are unremarkable)


Pestilences in Pa. Dutch country

April 22, 2018

For Earth Day…

On 9/24/17 in “A sapsucking planthopper”, an account of the disgusting and destructive insect pest Lycorma deliculata, the spotted lanternfly, first recognized in Berks County PA (the Pa. Dutch land of my childhood). And now, in the 3/12/18 issue of The New Yorker, a horrifying, funny, deeply disgusting piece by Kathryn Schulz about Halyomorpha halys, the brown marmorated stink bug / stinkbug, the first specimens of which were collected in Allentown PA, also in Pa. Dutch country.

Fresh entries in the carnival of godawful insect pest invasions: among them, the Japanese beetle (Popilia japonica) onslaught of my childhood; the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) incursions here in California; and the RIFA, red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta), pestilence in the south and southwest.


Gayupid’s Arrow: We are everywhere, and now you are too

March 23, 2018

Passed on by Billy Green last June, this hot news story from the website Only In American: For America, By Americans: a 6/26/17 posting by Marion Uncmeier, “Gays Invent Mini-Crossbow To Shoot Straight Men With Homosexual Chemtrail Tipped Toothpicks and Turn Them Gay”:

(#1) The gay crossbow


Pi Day 2018

March 14, 2018

March 14 — 3.14 — is Pi Day, a day to celebrate the irrational number 𝜋. The usual pun for Pi Day is as Pie Day — restaurants have specials on pies — or some play on the adjective irrational — but the Mental Floss site has gone further afield:



Mistakes in avian medicine

March 13, 2018

Brought to my attention on Facebook by Chris Hansen, this grotesque Bizarro from 2013:


A real test in cartoon understanding, this one. Some readers on Facebook never got it, many (including me) took a few moments to figure it out.


On the Slugwatch

March 9, 2018

That’s Sammy the Slug, the UC Santa Cruz mascot, as appreciated by anthropologist Jerry Zee, who writes on Facebook (text lightly edited):

I made a website and love letter to my first two quarters at this magical place, Santa Cruz. For Santa Cruz folks, if you see more Sammys – and they are hidden in plain sight all through Santa Cruz and beyond – please send to them to me so I can feature them on the SlugWatch!

SlugWatch: A multispecies anthropological archive of Santa Cruz’s favorite anthropomorphic slug

At the top, the university’s official version:


(Note the snarky nod to the canon of dead white guys (Plato) and the mocking Latin motto Fiat Slug ‘Let there be a slug’.)


Puns and portmanteaus, polar bears and hippos

November 1, 2017

Or: zoology, geometry, geography, and medicine. In three visual + verbal jokes that have been floating around the internet. Starting, A, with a punning coordinate bears composition — playing geometrically with polar bear — that came to me from Mike Reaser (who got it from an aggregation source), and a buildup to a portmantriple, C, that came to me from Kim Darnell (who got it from the Exploding Fish Shitposting and Senseless Drivel, Inc. Facebook page) — a combo of geometry, medicine, and animals (hippos rather than polar bears). The first led to more geometric play, B, on polar bear, taking us into medical (specifically psychiatric) territory. And then, bonus, there’s some simple geographic play, D, with polar bear.


Black bread and pickled herring

September 26, 2017

Kim Darnell, on a grocery shopping run for me, came across a line of very thinly sliced, dark, dense, intensely-flavored rye breads from the German company Mestemacher — one variety marketed as “Natural Fitness Bread”:


She was tickled by the name, and also remembered bread like this with pleasure. As did I: the black bread (Schwarzbrot, sometimes called Bauernbrot ‘peasant bread’) of my childhood. A platform for cheese, sliced smoked meat, and (especially) pickled herring (herring in sour cream was a great favorite of mine).