May 19, 2004

Neiwart: Let Lolita Go

David Neiwart of Orcinus has a lengthy but very interesting-to-me discussion about the orca Tokitae (or Lolita, if you prefer her stage name): Freeing Lolita.

Posted by jbc at 03:26 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 29, 2004

(Spontaneously) Exploding Whale

Everybody knows how gross it can be when a whale blows up. But imagine how bad it would be be if it happened all over your car. Actually, don't bother imagining -- this is why you shouldn't drive 60-tons of decomposing flesh through the center of town.

Posted by hossman at 09:49 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 27, 2004

Parrot Has 950-Word Vocabulary

One of my favorite books as a young boy was Vinson Brown's How to Understand Animal Talk. With a little imagination and patience, learning to communicate with another species really isn't all that hard.

Here's an example of that sort of communication going in the opposite direction: Parrot's oratory stuns scientists. The stuff about telepathy, and the generally breathless nature of the story, make me worry that what we've really got here is the Brit equivalent of the Weekly World News, but still, it's fun.

Posted by jbc at 05:12 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

November 20, 2003

Triumph Does Terry Gross

If you're a fan of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog from Conan, or of Terry Gross, or (especially) both, you definitely owe it to yourself to check out the latter's interview of the former from today's show: Fresh Air. It's great... for me to poop on!

Posted by jbc at 04:39 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 25, 2003

Mobile Dog Messaging

Apparently bark translation is the next big thing in Japan. The next logical evolution of this technology is text messaging from your pooch. How exciting, as you sit in you cube and recieve "I have to pee." messages from man's best friend.

Posted by at 07:59 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 22, 2003

The Cats Who Walked Though Walls

(As seen in the Drudge Report) Aparently, a very sweet old lady with a lot cats died a few years ago, and since then her son has come by every few months with some large bags of cat food and just let the 103 cats have the run of the place ... Felines rove in walls as bugs root through filth, building condemned -- I really can't even imagine what kind of person could just walk through feces 3 feet deep to dump some cat food in a kitchen sink.
My favorite quote: "Once the cats breed inside the walls, its economically impossible to clean it up, You can imagine what's inside those walls, and what the house is going to smell like forever."
My friend's favorite quote: "He's also brought out one dog, a beagle. Jacobson said the dog looked well-fed."

Posted by hossman at 09:45 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 21, 2003

The Soldier and the Tiger

Could there be a more apt allegory? From CNN: US soldier kills Baghdad tiger. There's also this piece from the AP: US soldier shoots tiger at Baghdad zoo. From the latter:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.S. soldier shot and killed a tiger at the Baghdad zoo after it bit another soldier who had reached through the bars of its cage to feed it, a zoo security guard said Saturday.

The soldiers had been drinking beer when they entered the zoo Thursday night after it closed, said the guard, Zuhair Abdul-Majeed.

"He was drunk," Abdul-Majeed said of the bitten soldier.

After the man was bit, the other American shot the tiger three times in the head and killed it, Abdul-Majeed told The Associated Press.

Judgement clouded by the effects of alcohol, acting on the basis of a macho impulse without bothering to consider the risk, a soldier decides it would be fun to demonstrate his sense of power and ownership over a predatory beast by feeding it some scraps of meat. The animal is dangerous, to be sure, but it is confined in a cage, and the soldier is armed with the latest high-tech weaponry. It will be fun. And besides, it will demonstrate the soldier's humanitarian side. He's helping the animal, see?

Ignoring all warnings, he places himself in close proximity to the tiger, and discovers too late that telescopic sights and laser-guided bombs aren't a guarantee of safety when you are within arm's length of razor-sharp claws guided by a hostile will. He falls, wounded, and his companion, in a fit of retribution, kills the still-caged beast with three bullets to the head.

Obviously, the soldier is George Bush (or the USA, more generally); the tiger is Saddam Hussein (or Iraq). Both parties come away from the experience having paid a price, the tiger somewhat moreso. And while the soldier would doubtless blame the tiger for the debacle, a more sober observer might view things differently.

Posted by jbc at 09:42 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

June 11, 2003

HumanDescent's Photoshop Bestiary

Here's one of those things that you come across during random surfing (apologies for having lost track of where I came across the link) that just makes you lean back in your chair and say, "whoa." Anyway: HumanDescent's page at Update: Oh; the real site of the user in question, with even more wackiness, is here: HumanDescent.

Posted by jbc at 01:54 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

May 28, 2003

Gwynne Dyer 3/3: Chimp Lib

Yet another Gwynne Dyer column I came across this morning, this one on the subject of recent efforts to expand the legal definition of "human" to include closely related species, like chimpanzees: We should grant 'human rights' to our closest living relatives.

Posted by jbc at 07:49 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 09, 2003

Monkey Authors Making (Slow) Progress

From AP, via Janus, comes word of this nifty experiment/performance art: Typing monkeys don't write Shakespeare. And though it may make no sense to you whatsoever, I really liked Lucy's comment when Janus mentioned the URL (which included the string 'britain_monkey_authors') in the mud: "Even without looking at that article I want it to be about Tommy." See, it's funny because Tommy is me in the mud, and I wrote this book with a monkey on the cover and... Oh, never mind. You had to be there.

Posted by jbc at 01:14 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

March 29, 2003

The AWOL Dolphin Story

People keep submitting this story, and I guess it does seem like the sort of thing I would run, even though I chose to pass over it initially. Anyway, by popular demand, here you go: Takoma the dolphin is AWOL. Reader immy2g also helpfully supplied a link to the earlier story: U.S. enlists dolphins to aid war effort.

Posted by jbc at 08:49 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 17, 2003

Carp Warns of Impending Apocalypse

These are the days of miracles and wonders. What else to conclude after reading the story of the talking carp that began shouting dire predictions - in Hebrew - about the coming end of the world . My favorite part is how the shocked fishsellers who heard the fish went on to butcher and sell it.

Posted by jbc at 10:13 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 28, 2003

PETA Pulls Jewish Chain with Holocaust Comparison

From Hiro comes word of, where the good folks at PETA compare the plight of animals on factory farms to Jews in WWII-era concentration camps. Needless to say, this has certain folks in an uproar.

Posted by jbc at 11:07 AM | view/comment (5) | TrackBack (0)

November 27, 2002

Boy Eaten by Python

From a_stupid_box comes this link: Children Terrified As Python Eats Boy. Nasty stuff.

Posted by jbc at 02:44 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 10, 2002

Looking at Meat

Michael Pollan has a cool piece in the latest New York Times Magazine, called An Animal's Place (stupid mandatory login required, cypherpunk98/cypherpunk works for now). In it he talks about factory farming, the animal rights movement, and the various ways in which one can try to combine meat-eating with a moral existence in early twenty-first century America. Cool followup reading I stumbled upon while Googling for the author's name includes Power Steer, an earlier NYT Magazine piece where the author follows the life of a particular bovine, and, where you can arm yourself to take on the CAFOs of the world (that's "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation"). Bon appetit.

Posted by jbc at 07:11 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 25, 2002

Dog Shoots Man

Adding still more weight to the argument that our culture's obsession with gun violence is causing a self-perpetuating cycle, an otherwise-normal year-old English setter shot his owner last Saturday. When will the madness end?

Posted by jbc at 09:33 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 15, 2002

Iceland Rejoins IWC, Announces Resumption of Whaling

A day after squeaking back into official membership at the International Whaling Commission, Iceland has announced that it will resume whaling. Fisheries Minister Arni Mathiesen was quoted as saying, "We will only whale in accordance with solid scientific information, and to ensure sustainable development in the oceans surrounding us," which I was going to doctor up into something more ludicrous-sounding, until I realized his original statement was already there.

Posted by jbc at 10:22 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 09, 2002

Tool-Making Crow Shocks Scientists

from the I-could-while-away-the-hours dept.

From CNN comes the story of a crow that makes tools, specifically, bending a piece of wire into a hook in order to reach a small bucket of food. Okay; fine. Maybe she can make a tool. Let's see her make an H-bomb, and threaten the entire biome with instant annihilation. That's one area of intelligence where good ol' Homo sapiens is still #1, thank you very much.

Posted by jbc at 12:55 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 18, 2002

Baywatch Star Wears Lettuce to Protest Animal Cruelty

from the better-publicity-through-silicone dept.

Ex-Baywatch actress Tracy Bingham is putting her augmentation on the line to help animals and promote vegetarianism. Specifically, she wore a bikini made of lettuce at a Paris protest yesterday, then attempted to enter a restaurant to inquire about their vegetarian dining options, only to be turned away at the door for her "inappropriate attire."

Posted by jbc at 04:46 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 04, 2002

Goat Born With Dale Earnhardt's Number

from the endtimes-are-upon-us dept.

jonw writes "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that: A 4-month-old goat with a curious birthmark has fans of the late NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt flocking to a north Florida farm. The brown Nubian goat, named Lil' Dale, was born with a distinctive white three -- Earnhardt's number -- on her right side. "It's weird," owner Jerry Pierson said. "I've seen people take pictures and get tears in their eyes.""

Posted by jbc at 08:18 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

June 21, 2002

70 year old woman steels sheep for sexual plesure

from the badly-spelled-user-submissions dept.

Yeah, I know. Not many updates lately. Sorry. Working on it. In the meantime, we've got another user submission. This one is fairly typical: bad spelling and doesn't make much sense at all. But it's something other than nothing, and the "1 Submissions" thing in the Slash admin bar kept staring at me and making me feel guilty. So follow the link, or scroll down, for the submission. Woo!


Posted by jbc at 06:28 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 14, 2002

Mysterious Noises Emanate From Ocean

from the things-that-go-bloop-in-the-deep dept.

CNN has a story about a super-powerful undersea noise that has scientists baffled. It bears the hallmarks of a biological origin, but matches no known noise pattern, and is extremely loud. Giant squid, maybe, goes one of the guesses.

Posted by jbc at 10:58 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

June 06, 2002

Beware the Candiru Menace

from the very-scary-fish dept.

Not exactly news, maybe, but news to me. I was reading a cool book about the schizophrenic doctor who helped create the Oxford English Dictionary (The Professor and the Madman, by Simon Winchester), and there's this wacky digression about the candiru, a South American fish that allegedly will follow a stream of urine through the waters of the Amazon to embed itself, via backward-pointing spines, in your urethra (ouch!). So I'm describing this to my wife, and she starts making fun of me for being such a sap as to believe such an obviously mythical story. So I turn to Google, and low and behold, the story is true. Or at least, true enough to take in the editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica and the normally quite skeptical folks at alt.folklore.urban. The candiru has inspired any number of web sites, including some with detailed descriptions and actual photos of the little monster. And the deeper I dug into the Google links, the wackier it got: there's candiru poetry, more candiru poetry, and a metal band named after the fish. So what was it, exactly, that we used to do for fun before we had the Web?

Posted by jbc at 04:02 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

June 04, 2002

Horny Dolphin Scares Swimmers

from the intra-species-love dept.

So, what are we going to do about Georges, the overly amorous bottlenose dolphin who has been trying to mate with swimmers at the British resort of Weymouth? Ric O'Barry, a dolphin expert whose credentials include a stint as trainer on the Flipper T.V. show, has been brought in to lend his expertise, but to no avail. Personally, I think they need to fly in that guy who runs the web site. Let him and Georges go at it for a while, and I'll bet the dolphin will swear off humans for life.

Posted by jbc at 01:09 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

June 02, 2002

Monkey Spanking and a Shark Attack

from the abuse-of-and-by-animals dept.

a_stupid_box writes "Irony of ironies. After the little piece about PETA, I start to find all this animal news. First off is the story about a French rapper fined for spanking his monkey which is a rather short but nontheless funny article. Secondly I find that another fellow Gen-X'er is going to be laid up for a while due to a little disagreement he had with a shark. Important lesson to be learned here, folks, but I'm sure that if you're on this site you can figure it out on your own." Hmm. I've got no idea what lesson he's referring to. Don't spank your monkey, or someone on the other side of the world will be bitten by a great white?

Posted by jbc at 09:15 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 01, 2002

PETA Nonprofit Status Jeopardized By Payments To 'Terrorist' Organization

from the one-smear-fits-all dept.

a_stupid_box writes "I came across this story saying how PETA (yes, THAT PETA) is in danger of losing their nonprofit status. Why? Oh, they were just supporting eco-terrorism. PETA donations may no longer be tax-deductible pending a federal investigation. I'm all for treating animals humanely, but if hooking a monkey's brain up to a car battery is going to let me live 50 years longer, I've got two things to say; red is positive, black is negative. PETA seems to value human rights less than animal rights in my honest opinion, so they're getting no sympathy from me." It's actually a pretty interesting article, if slanted fairly heavily in the anti-PETA direction. Worth a read.

Posted by jbc at 05:07 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

May 24, 2002

Tool-Using Chimps

from the so,-exactly-what-is-it-that-makes-us-so-special? dept.

Reported today in the journal Science is the story of a band of West African chimpanzees that use stone hammers to open a coconut-like nut. The chimps have apparently been using the tools for up to a century, teaching their offspring to carry on the practice.

Posted by jbc at 12:44 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

May 20, 2002

IWC Meeting Commences in Japan

from the people-eating-tasty-animals dept.

The annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission has gotten underway in Japan, and the Miami Herald has an interesting article on the early results. IWC meetings have always been a colossal lie-fest, and this year's is shaping up nicely in that regard, with much of the fun centering on Japan's (so far failed) efforts to get the organization's ban on commercial whaling overturned. (Not that that stops anyone from engaging in commercial whaling; it just requires that the offending country claim the killing is for aboriginal subsistence or for scientific research, as is done by Russia and Japan, respectively.) I like Japan's denial that they are using promises of foreign aid to get poor countries to join the IWC and vote as part of the pro-whaling bloc; the latest countries to jump on that particular bandwagon are Benin, Gabon, Palau and Mongolia, traditionally uninterested nations that have all joined the IWC in the last few months and are voting in lockstep with Japan.

Posted by jbc at 02:54 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 13, 2002

Lion Bites Off Zookeeper's Arm

from the nice-kitty.-nice,-BIG-kitty. dept.

A twenty-one-year-old zookeeper had her arm bitten off by a 350-pound male lion at Tampa's Busch Gardens yesterday, leaving the woman in serious condition, with doctors unsure of whether the severed limb could be reattached. Scary story, with mental visuals conveniently available via my recollection of that gruesome scene in the Nastassja Kinski/Malcom McDowell remake of Cat People.

Posted by jbc at 01:52 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 08, 2002

Giraffe's Medical Records Sealed to Protect Its Privacy

from the um,-okay dept.

Lucy Spelman, director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo in Washington, has rejected a reporter's request for the medical records of a recently deceased giraffe, Ryma, saying that to release the records would violate the dead animal's right to privacy. Legal experts want to know what she's been smoking, though it seems likely, given the circumstances, that she'd view that information as private, too.

Posted by jbc at 01:26 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 26, 2002

Man Bites Dog

from the well,-slamms-him dept.

It's basically just a sad story about someone with poor self-control taking his frustrations out on his pet, but I'm passing on this link for another reason: It's an object lesson in my own stupidity. See, I saw the headline Fort Lauderdale man jailed in puppy slammming death, and immediately had to follow it to find out what this weird new verb ("slammming") referred to; obviously it was some new street argot I hadn't picked up on before this. It didn't occur to me that a mainstream news site like the Miami Herald's, with a fancy serifed type treatment on their logo and everything, would let a simple typo like that propagate to the four corners of the Web.

Posted by jbc at 09:44 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Squirrel Intifada at Stanford

from the cute,-furry...-and-deadly dept.

From Yahoo News comes the story of suicidal squirrels that have taken to leaping out into the path of oncoming cyclists at Stanford University. Students are reportedly suffering mental trauma over the attacks, causing some to question the morality of their own presence on the 8,180-acre campus. "The squirrels were here first, I know, but I need an education, don't I?" sobbed Katie Founds, distraught after nearly biking over the body of a dead squirrel. Meanwhile, the school's administration says it will not be intimidated by the rodent onslaught. "We will never give in to terror," vowed University President John Hennessy.

Posted by jbc at 03:07 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 25, 2002

Bull Semen Collection 101

from the animal-husbandry-(or-maybe-wifery) dept.

My weather-obsessed acquaintance Imagery slid this one my way:'s interview with Dr. Steve Wickler, a Cal Poly prof who teaches courses in collecting semen from bulls. It's a big, freaky world out there, people.

Posted by jbc at 04:09 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

IWC Meeting Opens in Japan

from the would-you-like-blubber-with-that? dept.

Japan is reportedly pushing hard for a resumption of commercial whaling at the just-opened annual conference of the International Whaling Commission. This would allow an expansion of Japan's "harvesting" of whales beyond the 400 to 500 they currently kill each year for "scientific research" purposes. Japan's IWC representatives claim that whales are becoming so numerous that they pose a threat to the world's fish populations. I was going to invent an absurd quotation on that, but then decided there wouldn't be any point. The whole thing is thoroughly depressing, anyway.

Posted by jbc at 02:11 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 20, 2002

Military Seeks Exemption from Environmental Rules

versicherungsvergleich und private krankenversicherung

Posted by jbc at 03:12 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

April 19, 2002

The Cats Landing on Feet Google Answer

from the I-(heart)-google dept.

Yet another use for everyone's favorite search engine: asking (and receiving expert answers to) obscure questions about animals. Like, at what height will a cat NOT land on its feet?. My favorite part of this answer is the bit about the rumored "buttered-toast-cat antigravity device": "Buttered toast always lands buttered side down; cats always land feet first; tie a piece of buttered toast onto the back of a cat and it can never hit the floor!"

Posted by jbc at 12:57 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 16, 2002

Argentine Ant Supercolony in Europe

from the ants-go-marching-one-by-one-hurrah dept.

CNN is one of several outlets carrying an AP story about a supercolony of Argentine ants that stretches for 3,600 miles along the European coastline from the Italian Riviera to northwest Spain. The ants, which were accidentally introduced to Europe in the 1920s, cooperate with neighboring colonies, rather than competing with them.

Posted by jbc at 01:25 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 05, 2002

Mourning Our Pets

from the ashes-to-ashes,-kitty-litter-to-kitty-litter dept.

CNN is running this story of the explosive growth in the "pet-death industry". Among the things mentioned are the rise in pet cemeteries, pet sympathy cards, and support groups for grieving pet-death survivors. "Yet even as the options for mourning a pet multiply, many owners still fear their grief might be mocked or misunderstood," the article says. Oops. Look, for the record, I'm not the sort of choom who would mock somebody for their grief. Death is death, sorrow is sorrow, and people who can find it in their hearts to love and mourn for other living creatures, be they ape-descended tool-using hominids or otherwise, are okay in my book. Shame on me.

Posted by jbc at 12:31 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 04, 2002

Crocodiles Warn of Earthquake, Are Ignored

from the if-only-they'd-use-English dept.

In the wake of the recent 6.8-magnitude earthquake in Taiwan, officials at a wildlife park are reporting that 1,000 crocodiles started making strange grunting noises and scrambling for higher ground about 20 minutes before the quake struck. As is typical in such cases, human observers failed to make the connection between the animals' unusual behavior and the impending catastrophe until it was too late. One crocodile, speaking on condition that he remain anonymous, likened the scaly beasts' predicament to that of the character Legolas in the recent Lord of the Rings movie. "We say, 'Hey. There's some bad juju coming. We can feel it.' But does anyone pay any attention to us? Of course not. We're just dumb animals to you." The creature went on to point out that his species has survived essentially unchanged since before the age of the dinosaurs. "T. Rex never paid any attention to us either."

Posted by jbc at 08:15 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)