As much snark and sarcasm as I sometimes throw around here, I really do have nothing but respect for the men and women who serve our country. It’s a shame they now serve under a man who uses them for political stunts and has zero respect for their sacrifices. They deserve better. Read this.
That annoying butt-sniffing habit of dogs (mine's a champion) is finally put to good use by training them to sniff out sheep that are infested with intestinal worms. They can also detect bladder cancer by sniffing your urine.
According to this article, we’ve already spent $368 billion dollars on flightsuit boy’s attempt to make the history books as a great wartime leader. Now he and Rumsfeld are asking for ANOTHER $65 billion. I wish Hell existed, although it still would be too good for these criminals.
I’ve added a tip jar just underneath the moonbat image on the right to help with bandwidth costs. Remember, if you don’t tip the terrorists win.
In response to yesterday’s sea spider reference, a friend said he couldn’t sleep after seeing that photo. Sorry about that. In fact, pycnogonids are completely harmless. Here’s a photo gallery. Sleep well.
The Waiter Rule. You can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she treats a waiter. I still wouldn’t be caught dead in an Office Depot anymore than a Walmart, Home Depot or Staples. But good for OD’s CEO. Via Waiterrant.
“The trick is pointing the Mouse Catapult at an open window. That way, the flying rodent will travel out into your yard (or perhaps your neighbor's yard). But please, remember to open the window. We can't stress this enough.”
I've neglected this recently, but this week's recipe is Szechwan Chicken, in the extended post below.
The Comeback Kid. After eight years of a useless and corrupt moron at the helm, it’s gonna be so sweet to have someone who actually possesses a brain in charge. Make no mistake, this guy is a guaranteed shoe-in if he runs. Way, way too many people now see Bush as the very dangerous clown that he is and many of those same folks view Gore as deserving to hold the office he was elected to. This guy is a winner. I’m not posting anything else today. This is long and I’d like you to read the whole thing. Damn. What a wasted eight long years it will have been. (Try diagraming that sentence.)
Markos, founder of the DailyKos site, swung through Providence last night during the last leg of his book tour and I had the pleasure of meeting him. Nice guy. You can buy his book, "Crashing The Gate", here.
Search Results: Someone found the Biomes Blog by googling “fly paper was invented by”. It brought them here.
Trivia (5 Biomes points for each one): Which two countries are America’s largest oil suppliers? (No googling, and by "googling" I mean in the Kleenex way; no searching of any kind. Honor system.) [Update: The list I linked to in comments indicates the top two countries are Canada and Venezuela. However, if you set the site to give the suppliers annually, then the top two appear to be Canada and Mexico. So using Calvinball rules, Shayera gets 10 points but Jim keeps his five.]
U.S. plans a second liberation of Iraq. Apparently all the flowers and candy thrown to our troops the first time have wilted and melted. I wonder how much more this will cost us. I am so pissed at myself for not buying Halliburton and General Electric stock back in 2002. New mantra: Republicans in charge, buy war machine companies.
Movie Rating: Capote. Phillip Seymour Hoffman nails this wonderful rendition of Truman struggling with finishing his novel “In Cold Blood” and doesn’t pull any punches on making his character an unloveable tool of his trade. 4.2 starfish out of 5.
This is the world’s largest ball of paint. This guy took a baseball and applied over 19,100 coats of red paint to it.
The Andy Wahr-Blog. Blogging Andy Warhol’s actual diary entries 29 years after he wrote them.
Carl Bernstein (the one played by Dustin Hoffman) writes this long article for Vanity Fair that you should read at some point.
If you’ve ever visited Greenport, on the north fork of Long Island, you may have had a chance to see one of their several giant metal sculptures of birds, including an egret (right), a forty foot tall heron and a huge osprey that is perched on a beam from the World Trade Center which was donated by the city of New York. These were created by a friend of mine named Roberto Julio Bessin, who’s studio is next door to my education center. He made a movie about his work a while back which is really incredible. The boy (ok, my son Graham; he gets full credit for this job) hacked into the DVD Roberto made and converted the video into a file I was able to upload onto YouTube. It’s nine minutes long and you can view it here. His “Three Harbor Seals”, seen in the opening shot, now stands at the ferry landing in Newport, RI.
“So, what’s wrong with your dog?” I’m getting a little bit tired of that question. Ngazi is a really sweet girl, but she has some issues. She falls down a lot. Bumps into things, like chairs and doorjams, and then yelps as if she’s hurt. She doesn’t really know how to interact with people. She’ll run up to someone new, excited to greet them, and then slinks away when they try to pet her. Ridgebacks are built for speed. After several years at the dog park I’ve yet to see another dog that can match her. Often she prances. Seriously, prances like you wouldn’t believe. Like she’s trying to walk on her tiptoes or imitate those Budweiser clydesdales they used to show on halftime commercials. When she isn’t doing that she’s knocked out like she’s in a coma, as you can see here enjoying a bit of sunlight she found in my office. She’s very attached to me. She huddles against me when other people she doesn’t know are around and sits leaning against my leg. She does this paw thing, where she puts one foot on my leg when I pet her. Now she even does it when she wants to be pet, just waves that one paw around in the air. I was recently accused, in public by an old woman, of beating my dog. She wouldn’t let it go, getting louder and louder and drawing a crowd. “You beat your dog, don’t you?” “That’s what dogs do when they are beaten, they paw your leg.” “You beat your dog!” Over and over again and nothing I could say would appease her. In order to keep her seizures under control she is now up to 800 mg of Phenobarbital (a barbiturate) a day. Her liver most likely won’t hold out for more than a few years. So, here’s what’s wrong with my dog: She is either asleep or high as a kite 24/7. I still love her though. And I don’t beat my dog. She’s got enough problems as it is.
Animal of the Week: Red Flying Squid. The captain of the trawler that caught the jumbo squid we dissected (Entry #880) emailed a couple of photos his crew took when they landed it. It may even still be alive in this one. As incredible as this experience was, it's really kind of sad to think of this creature swimming free and then trapped in a net as by-catch. I'm still waiting for my staff's photos to finish the final photo essay. Watch this National Geographic video of the similar size Humboldt Squid, from the Pacific.
Although I have always been a Democrat, from the time I was 18 I have voted for your father John, and when he passed away, for you, as my Senator for Rhode Island. I believe you were both great representatives of this state and served with honor and integrity.
However, it is increasingly obvious that you belong to a now criminally corrupt and dangerous political party. I do not believe you are taking part in your party’s destruction of this country, but as long as you have that “R” after your name you are at least an abettor of this regime. I urge you to change your party’s affiliation or step aside and let Mr. Whitehouse represent what is clearly the majority of our citizens' best interests. I will no longer support your candidacy for the U.S. senate, nor will I support any Republican so long as the diseased ideology of your party persists.
And yes, I realize that if the majority of this state’s voters best interests lie with a democratic congress, they will vote this way. But people aren’t always so bright, know what I mean?
Fascism update, via Atrios. This administration has got to go. And I’m not sure which is creepier, the story itself or the comments posted by semi-literate wingnuts. Reading through them, it is obviously an astroturfing campaign.
Trivia (or whatever. 10 Biomes points): In the post below this one, guess the age of my brother Kurt (he’s the one on the left). Relatives are not allowed to take part in this one.
Once I get all the photos my staff took I'll post part two of the squid dissection, hopefully by early next week. Turns out my new employee is a professional photographer in addition to being a marine biologist. I really should read those resumes more carefully. Yesterday's post, thanks in part to PZ Myers, was a record day here with over 1,700 hits. Also, we've identified the species as Ommastrephes bartramii, the Red Flying Squid. Apparently they are known to leap out of the water and sail through the air to avoid predators. (Could this thing get any cooler?)
Movie Rating: Poseidon. Now that this is out there is no reason for anyone to ever have to endure Titanic again since the only redeeming feature of that film was the special effects during the sinking. Wolfgang Petersen makes James Cameron look like a rank amateur with this movie's effects. For a remake where we pretty much know how the story both progresses and ends, I was impressed. 3.8 starfish out of 5.
A local trawler called and said they caught a huge squid and are keeping it in their onboard freezer if I was interested. I was.
So we thawed it out and then dissected it yesterday with our high school intern and a photographer from the Providence Journal present. We haven't figured out the exact species yet, but it is related to the Pacific Humboldt Squid. It was caught off the New England coast in a trawl taken at about 1300 feet in depth. I missed the first part of the dissection because I was dealing with a school group but I'll link to the whole photo essay once my staff gets all the pics to me. Below are some shots I managed to take myself.
The squid weighed in at 36 pounds and was six feet one inch including tentacles. Here's a shot well into the dissection. Note the common Loligo squid next to it. This little one would be classified as "large" if purchased in a seafood shop.
When we first opened it up we discovered right away that it was a female. The body cavity at the tail end was packed with eggs. (The big sac on the right is the stomach, which we'll get to in a moment.) The "pen" of a squid is a thin plastic-like structure that runs along the dorsal side of the body. It is a remnant of the molluscan shell and helps to keep the soft body rigid. In the small squid the pen would be about five inches long. Rebecca is holding the pen we pulled out of this baby during the early part of the dissection:
The eight main tentacles were a bit over a foot long each, but the two feeding arms were at least double this length. All the arms were, of course, covered with suction cups, and these were largest on the ends of the feeding arms.
Looking closely at the suction cups revealed dozens of razor-sharp teeth studding the entire diameter of the cups. These were very sharp and caused us to go through a lot of rubber gloves.
The eyes of this thing impressed me the most. Unfortunately they were deflated due to either water pressure changes as it was pulled up or the weight of all the other "regular" squid in the net. The lenses were the size of large marbles and we lost one of them during the procedure (I blame the cat).
Like all cephalopods, squid have a powerful beak which looks like that of a parrot's (only upside down). This one could easily take off a finger.
After we removed the gills, eggs, ink sac (still intact and full of ink), the huge liver and the rest of the organs, we decided to play with the stomach. We saved this for last guessing that once we opened it up the smell was going to be nasty. By the way, the organs were in perfect condition as the fishermen flash-froze it literally minutes after it was brought on board. Here's me (freshly shaven), holding up the unopened stomach:
The squid was frozen grasping a large mackerel with it's head missing, so we assumed it was feeding on fish. The mackerel must have been mixed in with the catch and grabbed at random in the net because there was no fish in the stomach. All of the stomach contents were chopped up pieces of Ilex squid, a smaller species that grows to about a foot in length. That beak really does its job at slicing and dicing and we guessed the stomach contained at least two or three dozen squid. Aren't the little squid eyes mixed in cute?
I should note that the above picture has an approval rating slightly higher than 29%.