Daily Gnuz

It’s Thurzdaze and here’z the Gnuz…

Senate Confirms Former Mine Executive To Be In Charge Of Mine Safety
H/T HuffPo
Dear Coal Miners, please don’t die on the job. Thank You. Oh, and btw, the cost of cleaning up your carcass will be equal to your last paycheck.

And

The first official Republican “no” on the Senate tax plan is Ron Johnson
H/T Vox
Will McCain, Murkowski, Corker, Flake or Collins join in and shitcan this giveaway to the richest 1%??

Finally,

Trump to allow imports of African elephant trophies
H/T The Hill
Let’s see what the Dept of Fish and Game says…
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said it has determined that hunting African elephants in Zimbabwe and Zambio ‘will enhance the survival of the species in the wild,’ which is the standard by which officials judge wheter to allow imports of parts – known as trophies – of the animals”
Holy F**k. Kill them to save them. It must still be 1984.

Open Thread, get a firm grip, and resist.
RUCerious @ TPZoo

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 17, 2016: Cute Baby Animal Videos

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting some serious overload with trying to keep up with the latest political news, so I’m taking a break from it. No politics from me, just cute baby animals.

I think this beats the dramatic prairie dog hands down.

If only they stayed that small. And didn’t shit.

He was certainly getting into the groove of this haircut.

I know Jane would just love to be able to raise one of these cuties, and I’m sure I’d loved to be mauled by one.

That makes me feel better. I hope it makes you feel better, too.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss cute baby animals, politicians holding cute baby animals, world leaders taking their cute baby animals for a walk, or even cute baby animals seen at the ball games over the weekend.

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 1, 2016: Cute Baby Animal Overload

The conventions are over, and rather than dwell on the hate and negativity of the Republican Convention, or the hate and negativity of the Republican response to the Democratic Convention, let’s just enjoy some cute baby animal pics, courtesy of the Twitter account @CuteBabyAnimals. Enjoy, and discuss anything you want afterwards. This is our daily open thread.

Okay, and one I couldn’t resist…

Hope that put a good start to your week.

Sunday Roast: Stupid stuff that makes me giggle

There’s a site on the vast interwebs called “Sad and Useless, the most depressive humor site on the internet,” and it has a post where people on the internet rename animals — which totally makes sense, if you think about it.

We’ve already enjoyed the brilliantly renamed Stab Rabbit, so here are a few more:

OMG, it’s our Wayne!!  Everybody wave!  *waving*

I mean seriously, who would actually call this thing an ostrich?  Pure silliness!

Finally, my favorite…Run for your lives!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!

If you’d like to giggle up even more of a storm, go the site — they have more!!

This is our daily open thread — Make up names for your favorite animals!

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 1st, 2016: Clouds and Cute Stuff

Let’s start this week with no mention of anyone in the (R) Kandidate Klown Kar, or crazy-assed snackless ‘militias’, or wacky Talibangelists (or Talibanjoists.) I’m going with Mother Nature today.

The Weather Channel has a recent piece about this ‘Hand of God’ cloud that appeared over Madeira, Portugal. To me, it looks more like the ‘Fist of god’, and I wonder at whom it’s being shaken. Is there some satanic evildoer on Madeira who is (using Alan Rickman’s Professor Snape voice) “…UP to something”?

(Photo Credit: Rogerio Pacheco, via TheWeatherChannel)

(Photo Credit: Rogerio Pacheco, via TheWeatherChannel)

Next, Lenticular Clouds ~
lenticular-clouds-andes
I know that we’ve covered lenticular clouds before, but take a look at some spectacular shots from (apparently) dedicated Russian photographer Vladimir Voychuk.

Now for some cuteness: Also from The Weather Channel, penguin chicks cuddling together against the cold.
EmperorPenguinChick

While we’re on the subject of penguins, here’s more wonderful shots of them, this time under the sea. The photos were taken by French photographer/diver Andre Voyer.
Emperor-Penguins-diving

And finally, cuteness that will make you squee.

"Hey, margay kitten, what big eyes for you...TA HAVE!"

“Hey, margay kitten, what big eyes for you…TA HAVE!”

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead, start talking about something.

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 5th, 2015: Mixed Bag Monday

Let’s start off with a bang:  According to Foreign Policy magazine, the same idiots in Congress who tried to stop the Iranian Nuclear Agreement now want to ‘make it up to Bibi’ by giving Israel bunker busters.  An excerpt from this excellently-written article by Jeffrey Davis:

Since the battle over the Iran deal was largely fought over the question of whether proponents loved Israel or not, both sides are talking loudly about providing the country with a big arms package. Those who supported the deal are eager to make it up to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, while those opposed have to find ever more extreme proposals to prove they love Israel more.

This absurd competition — which is primarily about political posturing, not Israeli security — has reached an almost perfect level of absurdity. There is now a growing chorus of people arguing that the United States should give Israel the Massive Ordnance Penetrator — a huge conventional bunker-buster bomb — and a fleet of heavy bombers to drop it.

Israel’s air bases don’t even have runways that can accommodate heavy bombers, though apparently one base — Nevatim — could be modified.**

[**Personal note:  the engineer for whom I used to work had earned the money that enabled him to buy a nice house and start his own business from a contract constructing the Negev Air Base runways.]

Next, let’s go back to the Pope’s meeting with Kim Davis.  Although most news reports agree that the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S., Carlo Maria Vigano, arranged the visit, so far none seem to have specifically asked or answered “Why?”  Was it solely Reverend Vigano’s idea?  Or – yeah, I’m the suspicious, cynical type – did someone with a stake in a Papal stamp of approval of Kim Davis and her ilk, someone perhaps running for the Presidency, arrange this very, very quietly?  Yeah, I’m looking at you, Huckabee.

Only the Washington Post appears to be curious about the backstory of this now infamous meeting:

Church leaders in the United States and in Rome have been resolutely tight-lipped about the meeting, perhaps concerned about the prospect of appearing to publicly rebuke or challenge the pope, particularly on such a sensitive issue. At the same time, church-watchers have debated and swapped rumors about who set up the meeting, whether it was at the behest of the pope himself, or whether it was an idea pushed by other bishops or religious freedom advocates or donors.

Among those who declined to comment was the Rev. Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, at whose residence the meeting took place.

Rev. Thomas Rosica, an English-language spokesman for the Vatican, told the Associated Press. “And in the pope’s characteristic kindness and warmth and hospitality, he shook people’s hands and gave them rosaries. We should understand it as that. In terms of why this person was invited, you have to ask those questions of the nunciature.”

A controversial figure both in Rome and in the United States, Viganò has gone further than other church leaders in his campaign against same-sex marriage. Among other things, he appeared at an event this year with the National Organization for Marriage, a group that vocally opposes same-sex marriage and with which U.S. bishops typically don’t publicly ally.

And, of course, Liberty Counsel, and through them Kim Davis, are more or less calling Pope Francis a liar.  According to Christian Today’s article, “Kim Davis denies Vatican account of her meeting with Pope, says she was invited”:

“Disturbed by statements coming from the Vatican, gay marriage nemesis Kim Davis would like to set the records straight that it was the Vatican that extended an “unsolicited invitation” for her to hold a “private meeting” with Pope Francis at the Vatican embassy in Washington D.C. last Sept. 24.

Liberty Counsel, the group representing Davis, said the Kentucky county clerk—who spent six days in jail for defying a court order for her to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples—had spoken with papal representative Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano before she met the Pope.

“This meeting was a private meeting. No other members of the public were present,” Liberty Counsel said.

Davis, accompanied by her husband Joe and lawyer Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, arrived in Washington on the night of Sept. 23, the Liberty Counsel statement said.

The following day, the Davis couple were met by people with “heavy Italian accents” who led them to the Vatican embassy.

“Kim and Joe Davis were placed in a room with no one else present. Later Pope Francis arrived with only Vatican or Embassy personnel and security,” the Liberty Counsel statement said.

“He stretched out his hands. Kim clasped his hands, and he asked her to pray for him. She said she would, and she asked the Pontiff to pray for her, to which he said he would.

“Pope Francis then thanked Kim for her courage. They embraced. The Pope said, ‘Stay strong.’ He then presented Kim and Joe with two rosaries. There was no line of people or other members of the public seen anywhere,” the statement said.

Liberty Counsel said the Vatican requested Davis to keep the meeting a “secret” until the following Tuesday.”

Really?  In this particular case, I have to say that, since Liberty Counsel and Kim Davis are already proven liars, I tend to doubt their account of the “meeting”, which seems to be just another pathetic attempt to keep Liberty Counsel’s pet martyr for Christianity in the limelight.  But I still want to know, who really arranged this on Davis’s behalf with the Papal Ambassador?

Last, a belated birthday present for our resident Turtle:  from National Geographic, glowing sea turtle!

“The critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle is the first reptile scientists have seen exhibiting biofluorescence—the ability to reflect the blue light hitting a surface and re-emit it as a different color. The most common colors are green, red, and orange.”

This is our daily Open Thread–go on, discuss things!

Sunday Roast: Spider!

L1070488

Photo by Zooey

This beautiful spider has set up an abattoir on a huge web outside my kitchen window.  He’s got about five of these little “packets” in his web at any given time, and just goes from one to another, stabbing in his sippy straw and chugging away.

It’s really rather disgusting, but fascinating at the same time — and as long as he stays on his side of the window, we will remain the best of friends.

This is our daily open thread — Anyone know what kind of spider this is?

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, August 12th, 2015: Chuck Should Listen to George (Bonus: Birds!)

I started this post (a few days ago) thinking that I would rebut Senator Chuck Schumer’s reasoning, as reported in this NY Times article by Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman, for his opposition to the Iran Nuclear Agreement.  But that would have taken too long and wouldn’t have been good for my mental and physical health.  Suffice it to say that Chuck’s ‘arguments’ against the deal are specious and unfounded, and the final quote in the article is, quite literally, nonsensical:  “To me, after 10 years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it.”

Then I got distracted (once again) by President Washington’s Farewell Address, with his  warning against aligning the Nation with any particular nation(s) at the expense and enmity of any other nation(s), and at the expense of our country’s interests.  (If you’re interested, the pertinent discussion starts at “Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.”)  I wanted to scold Schumer with these two sections in particular:

“Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.

~ and ~

“Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

Then, for a bit of crazy, there were a couple of stories on RightWingWatch about Michele Bachman “predictions” and/or supposed validation of previous “predictions.” 

Finally, I ran across something to wash the bad taste out of your minds: a story about birds from DailyKos.

This is our daily open thread, so talk about ‘such and stuff’ (as my mum used to say.)

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, July 29th, 2015: Must-Squeee!

When you need a break from the lunatic asylum from which the Republican – gulp – Presidential hopefuls have escaped, here’s some peace and love amongst various species to ease your minds and soothe your souls.

From “Adorable Animal Friendships: Unlikely Pairings Will Melt Your Heart”, by Michele Berger and Edecio Martinez, courtesy of TheWeatherChannel, a gallery of 81 awwws, eeks, and squeees.  Just one to start:

tiger cub and piglets~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ll just bow out quietly and let you enjoy the calm…

Open Thread – take a deep breath and, um, let go?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 14th, 2015: Intelligence

happy_valentines_day_by_plusonedead cupid

And with that tribute to Saint Valentine out of the way, let’s move on…

Last night on Bill Maher, David Duchovny was the second interview guest, promoting his new novel, “Holy Cow!” The book, according to USA Today, is “…about a talking cow, pig and turkey that go on the lam when they discover they’re destined for the dinner table.” During the interview, Duchovny discussed (in part) animal rights, and briefly mentioned that cases were being brought to court regarding captive chimpanzees.

His mention of the chimpanzee cases coincided with an article from BuzzFeed that I was in the middle of reading just before Real Time started. The article, “People Are Animals, Too” by Peter Aldhous, opens with a couple of paragraphs about the Nonhuman Rights Project’s Steven Wise, who is arguing for “personhood” under New York State law for a chimpanzee called ‘Tommy.’ Here’s an excerpt:

“Central to Wise’s arguments in Tommy’s case, and to similar suits his organization has filed on behalf of other captive chimpanzees, is the assertion that apes are highly intelligent and self-aware beings with complex emotional lives. “The uncontroverted facts demonstrate that chimpanzees possess the autonomy and self-determination that are supreme common law values,” Wise told the five judges hearing the case.”

The article discusses aspects of various studies on animal intelligence, touching on crows, scrub jays, wolves, even octopi and cuttlefish. And, of course, no article on animal intelligence would be complete without a mention, however brief, of my co-worker’s friends’ son, Josh Plotnik, whose college studies and subsequent career I have been made aware of, and have been jealous of because he gets to study elephants. From the article:

“Some researchers working on vertebrate cognition, meanwhile, are starting to reject the field’s anthropocentric biases. In Thailand’s Golden Triangle, Josh Plotnik of the University of Cambridge works at a luxury resort that is home to a group of elephants, which, when not giving rides to tourists, take part in his research. Plotnik started with the usual roster of experiments tried on young children and chimps, including the mirror test. But he now realizes that he needs to better understand the elephants’ sensory world — dominated by odors and low-frequency sounds — before he can work out how to explore the full scope of their cognitive abilities.

“It would be very unethical of me to take all of the chimp experiments and just run them on the elephants,” Plotnik says. “I’d be publishing all these negative results, saying: ‘Elephants can’t do this. Elephants can’t do that.’ When in fact, they probably could, if we asked the questions the right way.”

Speaking of elephants, it was on a Valentine’s Day, maybe 35 years ago, when an Indian elephant wrapped its trunk around my arm to pull me closer, and a tiger thoroughly washed my hand – certainly the most unusual Valentine’s Day I’ve ever experienced. So I guess this turned out to be a sort of Valentine’s Day thread after all. Oh, well!
Happy Valentines Day Wallpaper

This is our daily Open Thread, so, open up!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 31st, 2015: Dogs and Cats

First, the dogs: From rantpets.com, “25 Uncommon Dog Breeds You Didn’t Know About” (I did know about some of them, as I’m sure many of you do.)

I love some of the (often minimal) breed descriptions:

Number 23, the Berger Picard: “French Shepherds, which date back to 800 AD, are a very rare breed.” [But their bloodline is continued into the 25th century, minus most of the hair, of course.]

Number 11, the Jade Terrier: “The Jade Terrier appeared between the two world wars.” [What, did it come through the Wardrobe from Narnia?]

Number 8, the Mudi: “About 100 years ago in Hungary, a spontaneous breed surfaced called the Mudi dog.” [A “spontaneous” breed? Another Narnian?]

Number 2, the Finnish Spitz: “This adorable breed was originally bred to hunt game like bears and squirrels.” [BEARS and squirrels? BEARS?!]

Number 1, the Otterhound: “These dogs are said to be [the] most intelligent carnivorous mammals in all of Europe.” [I’d have to agree that otterhounds are probably smarter than most human “carnivorous mammals.”]

Otterhounds (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Otterhounds (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Now, the cats: With tomorrow’s Super Bowl in mind, here’s “20 Things Your Cat is Thinking While You’re Watching the Super Bowl”, also from rantpets.com. Not as funny as I had hoped, but some cute cat photos make it worthwhile. And for those who won’t watch football, there’s always Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl for tomorrow’s entertainment.

This is our daily Open Thread, brought to you from the frozen tundra of New York. Brrrr!

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 22nd, 2014: Make Me Smile

Since I’m sick of the current population of humans, in my next life I’d rather come back as a dolphin or porpoise. Even though humans may still top the food chain, I’d like to have a bigger brain and be able to swim the oceans with few natural enemies. It’s no wonder they seem to be smiling all of the time (yes, I realize they can’t help it), I would, too. At least dolphins and porpoises make us useless humans smile, we can’t help it, either. And it seems that they have the same affect on other animals as well.
dolphin-and-baby
dogs and dolphin
dolphin and seal
dolphin face

Hope these pics made you smile, too. Everyone needs it on a Monday.

This is our daily Open Thread–what makes you smile these days?

The Watering Hole, October 27th, 2014: Mutants are Cool

I don’t normally click on any of those groups of six ads that seem to be unavoidable on most websites, but when I saw the following photo, I just HAD to:

Horse or Zebra?

Horse or Zebra?


The website, brainjet.com, didn’t answer the caption’s question, but I’d say it’s a zebra with a cool-looking color mutation…which, of course, was the title of the slideshow: “13 Naturally Color-Mutated Animals.” While there were some that I might call into question (for instance, the quality of the “pink elephant” photo was too poor), many were beautiful and marvelous. Go ahead and check them out, here are some of my favorites:
Brown Striped Zebra (Zebra Erythrism)

Brown Striped Zebra (Zebra Erythrism)


The first two were for Zooey. The next one is for Pachy:
Pink Dragonfly

Pink Dragonfly


This next photo was called a “Piebald Deer”, which is erroneous: “Piebald” (at least in horse terminology) describes a white coat with random irregular black patches; “Skewbald” describes a white coat with random irregular brown patches. So the deer in this pic is actually a skewbald, not a piebald:
piebald deer
This one’s for me, since my ‘toon representation in our header is the majestic tiger (thank you, Paul!):
Four Shades of Tiger

Four Shades of Tiger


And just a few more that were cool:
Half-white Peacock

Half-white Peacock


Pink Grasshopper (sounds like a drink!)

Pink Grasshopper (sounds like a drink!)

Enjoy the rest of the slide show. I did!

This is our daily open thread – feel free to discuss whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 25th, 2014: Introducing…

…well, he hasn’t got a name yet, but here’s our new little guy. Sorry, the pictures are a tad grainy/blurry because we used Wayne’s computer’s camera.

Our new little orange guy watches over Wayne's shoulder

Our new little orange guy watches over Wayne’s shoulder


The little guy falls asleep anywhere/anytime (like a minute after this shot was taken)

The little guy falls asleep anywhere/anytime (like a minute after this shot was taken)


Such a serious face for such a youngster.

Such a serious face for such a youngster.

Please help us come up with a name for this little guy. So far all I’ve come up with is “Joker”, because he pantsed Wayne the other night, pulling Wayne’s sweats down in his efforts to climb up Wayne’s leg. He’s amazingly self-possessed, and the rebuffs from the other cats don’t seem to faze him for more than a moment. For the most part, the others seem to be starting to accept his presence, if not his friendly/playful overtures. However, our two older boys are usually out most of the time during this nice weather, so their encounters are infrequent. Importantly, though, Troi has gone from hissing/growling anytime the kitten is near, to allowing him to sleep actually touching her on the couch, and to eat from the same plate. The other night he was sleeping with his nose up against one of Troi’s paws. Not bad progress for less than a week.

Name suggestions?

This is our daily open thread–please feel free to comment on cat names or whatever subject is on your mind today.

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 28th, 2014: Bird-Brained

This past week has seen a lot of very odd behavior from some bird-brained bipeds.

First, the human bird-brains, starting with the ongoing and ever-weirder racist stylings of Cliven Bundy. Bundy’s ‘open-beak-insert-claw’ babblings caused even die-hard libertarian Rand Paul, as well as Fox’s knee-jerk-anti-government-reactionary (emphasis on jerk) Sean Hannity, to sidle away from Bundy. Paul’s statement, “His remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him,” seemed a bit weak compared with his fellow Republican Senator Dean Heller’s. From Think Progress: “…[Heller’s]spokesman told the New York Times the senator “completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy’s appalling and racist statements, and condemns them in the most strenuous way.” Much more genuine-sounding, more human, right?

Again with the racism: L.A. Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling‘s blatantly racist – and audiotaped — admonishment to his girlfriend after she posted a photo on Instagram of herself with basketball legend Magic Johnson has been the talk of national news outlets and sports programs alike. Not surprising, since one of Sterling’s quotes from said audiotape is “don’t bring black people to my games

Next, bird-brained Bill O’Reilly still seems to be unaware of his own ignorant inner racist: On Friday, in reaction to Time Magazine’s decision to feature singer Beyoncé on the cover for their “most influential people” edition, O’Reilly aired his delusion that Beyoncé is in charge raising America’s young black girls. In Bill-O’s mind, she’s doing a piss-poor job of it, what with the sexual song lyrics and the “revealing clothing” that she wears in her music videos — into which I presume Bill-O did a LOT of research, checking for ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ and the like.

O’REILLY:

“She knows — this woman knows — that young girls are getting pregnant in the African American community…Now it’s about 70 percent out of wedlock. She knows and doesn’t seem to care…She should be smart enough to know that what’s she doing now is harming some children…”

Sorry, Bill, but Beyoncé isn’t harming anyone; look in your mirror, you’re the one doing harm to the whole country.

Okay, enough of the human bird-brains, now let’s enjoy some feathered ones…

Several times last week, outside our office, I noticed various birds engaged in springtime mating behavior. The male birds were chasing females either in fast-paced displays of aerodynamics and maneuverability, or in a more slow-motion – and more amusing – “chase” within a tree, with the male hopping from branch to branch after the female. While the birds that I observed were entertaining, the mating behavior of blue jays, chickadees, English sparrows, and our other local birds pales in comparison to these guys:

Japanese Red-Crowned Cranes

Japanese Red-Crowned Cranes


Great Egret aka Great White Heron

Great Egret aka Great White Heron


Great Frigatebird

Great Frigatebird


Male Peacock

Male Peacock


Royal Terns

Royal Terns

Yes, that was much more enjoyable!

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 24th, 2014: Mixed Emotions

This past weekend’s reading brought an odd range of emotions:

HUMILITY: Geography is not my strong suit. When I was growing up, the continent of Africa was nearly always referred to as “the dark continent”, or “darkest Africa.” However, the amazing maps in “8 Maps That Will Change The Way You Look at Africa” help to shed light on “the dark continent” and its place in the modern world. Some of the maps are truly mind-boggling.

INCREDULITY: Why is David Vitter still a Senator? How was he not so shamed in his constituents’ eyes that not only did they not demand his immediate resignation when his diapered-DC Madam sexual habits were made public, they reelected him? And why is Vitter showing his face in public claiming that “…the Koch brothers are two of the most patriotic Americans in the history of the Earth…God bless the Koch brothers. They’re fighting for our freedoms.”? Steve Benen on The Maddow Blog can at least answer the the last question.

BETRAYAL: This one’s personal. My love-hate relationship with my beloved/cursed New York Jets is finally tipping over toward the ‘hate’ side. This weekend, the Jets announced their acquisition of former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, and their release of hapless quarterback Matt Sanchez. My sense of betrayal has nothing to do with Sanchez–he sucked most of the time, but I wish him well. On the other hand, I wish that Michael Vick, of dog-fighting-ring/dog killer fame, would have his throwing arm mangled by a pit bull. Just enough to keep that scum out of football forever. In the meantime (well, when football season starts), I will boycott the Jets until that inhumane piece of shit is gone.

Damn, it's just a toy

Damn, it’s just a toy

Finally, to take that nasty taste out of your mouth:

CONTENTMENT: Although the story is five years old, it’s still heartwarming, and reinforces my opinion that animals are far better than humans. Mankind should really try to emulate Mother Nature.

In 2009, a fire in the Santa Barbara area had firefighters rescuing wildlife, including young animals separated from their mothers. The unlikely pair shown ended up together after their rescuers ran out of crates.
Rescued Fawn and Bobcat kittenfawn and bobcat kitten

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 3rd, 2014: Who Are You Gonna Believe?

On Saturday morning, I was visited again by my (in my opinion as one who had barely woken up) way-too-perky Jehovah’s Witness ‘friend’ from previous visits. (I’m sincerely sorry that I cannot remember her name.) After a fairly brief chat, I was given some new leaflets. The Witness had picked these out particularly for me, based on our last discussion during which I had professed my belief in science vs religion. The leaflet that I decided to start with is entitled “Was Life Created?” An excerpt from the introductory page, prefaced by the question “What do you believe?”:

“Many religious fundamentalists believe that the earth and everything on it was created in six 24-hour days, just a few thousand years ago. Some atheists would have you believe that God does not exist, that the Bible is a book of myths, and that all life is the product of random undirected events.”

Now, right there, I have issues with the statement about atheists: first, note the difference in the wording between the two sentences, i.e., “Many religious fundamentalists believe…” as opposed to “Some atheists would have you believe…” The implications that a) the beliefs of religious fundamentalists/literal Creationists are somehow more valid and earn more respect than the beliefs/non-beliefs of atheists, and b) that atheists want to force people to abandon their religion (whatever flavor it is) seem pretty obvious to me. This inference is made again a little further down the intro page, under the heading, “What is the purpose of this brochure?”:

“It is not the purpose of this material to ridicule the views either of fundamentalists or of those who choose not to believe in God.”

Again, carefully worded, “those who choose not to believe in God”, as if we picked the wrong side, or refused to join their club. They won’t “ridicule the views…of fundamentalists” (even though elsewhere in the introduction it states that religious fundamentalism and atheism are considered to be “opposing ideas”) simply because the fundamentalists believe in a god and his bible. And obviously, by “God” they mean only the god of the Old or New Testament, not the Muslim’s Prophet or any of the other major non-Christian religions of the world.

The intro wraps up with:

“Will you trust the claims of those who say that there is no intelligent Creator and that the Bible is unreliable? [YES!] Or will you examine what the Bible actually says? Which teachings are worthy of your trust, your faith: those of the Bible or those of evolutionists? Why not review the facts?”

The “facts” that are subsequently presented to advance the “intelligent Creator” argument are, oddly enough, all discovered through scientific research: how the planet Earth is in the ideal location to sustain life [sure, life as WE carbon-based oxygen-breathing life forms know it]; how the Earth’s tilt is just right, along with the planet’s speeds of rotation and orbit, to create the ‘ideal’ for human habitation: four seasons and 24-hour days. Also presented as “evidence” of an intelligent Creator are the size of our moon and its distance from the Earth [and here the JWs make Bill O’Reilly look like the idiot that he is, by mentioning that the planet’s tides are affected by the moon); along with the laws of nature and science, i.e., the cycle of precipitation, photosynthesis, your basic Earth Science curriculum, and the multitude of species of animals. All of these scientific laws are indication to the JW’s that a divine hand was involved.

If, as believers such as the JWs think, humans were made in god’s image, I think that that god has a lot of explaining to do. Humans are the only species that is capable of completely ruining the beauty and wonder of our planet’s unique ecosystems, as well as our own sources of food and water. What god would make a species such as ours?

Instead of (and possibly in answer to) the question being “What do you believe?”, I believe that the question should be “What do you KNOW?”

This is our daily open thread–feel free to air your thoughts on, well, anything, including but not limited to Jehovah’s Witnesses (or any other religious group), etc.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 25th, 2014: Animals, Birds and Kites – Oh My!

As always, The Weather Channel is great for more than just checking the forecast. Since I’m suddenly standing in for Wayne, today’s thread is going to explore a few recent articles from TWC:

First, from “A Race Against Time: Photos Capture Animals Before They Disappear”, by Michele Berger:

“Joel Sartore has ambitious plans: To photograph all 10,000 or so animals currently in captivity before they go extinct. Over the course of nine years, this National Geographic photographer has made great progress, capturing some 3,300 animals to date. Still, he thinks getting the remaining creatures will take the rest of his life — and he’s ok with that because he believes in this project.

It’s called Photo Ark, and Sartore sees it as both a snapshot of our time and as a call to action.” … “We really need to show people that this is a tragedy and it is the issue of our time,” he said. “It is folly to think that we can doom half of all species to extinction and think it won’t harm humanity.”

Among the animals included in the 15-photo slide show is the adorable Coquerel’s sifaka:

Coquerels sifaka (from the Bronx Zoo Gallery)

Coquerels sifaka (from the Bronx Zoo Gallery)

Next, we’re going to the birds with “Stunning Bird Portaits from Around the World”, also by Michele Berger. The 41 photos by Andrew Zuckerman include representations of such oddities as:

~ The Silkie Bantam Chicken, “…one of the few breeds with five toes instead of four.”

Silkie Bantam Chickens (photo courtesy keepingchickens.com)

Silkie Bantam Chickens (photo courtesy keepingchickens.com)


~ The Wattled Curassow:
Wattled Curassow (source psms29-com)

Wattled Curassow (source psms29-com)


~ The Lilac-Breasted Roller
Lilac-Breasted Roller

Lilac-Breasted Roller


~ And the Twelve-Wired Bird of Paradise
Twelve-Wired Bird of Paradise

Twelve-Wired Bird of Paradise

Finally, apparently I was unaware of the recent week-long international kite festival in parts of India, but there’s a photo gallery of 40 pics to prove it. (Some Bollywood actor is the subject of too many of the photos, but the kites are unusual.)

This is our daily open thread–if you’re somewhere freezing like Wayne and I, stay warm today!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 18th, 2014: Warning: Cuteness Ahead

I’m substituting for Wayne, as he has to go to work today and went to bed early last night. So, be warned: today is going to be a “Way Too Much Cuteness” day. Consider it a palate cleanser to start off your Saturday (or end it, if you show up late.) I’d be interested to know which is your favorite, and why? Plus, since I only included very brief descriptions under each photo, please feel free to make up a caption (or captions) for any or all of the following photos (all of which were downloaded free through bing images):

Ducklings

Ducklings


Lemurs

Lemurs


More Lemurs (Is it me, or does the one on the bottom of the pile have an opposable thumb?)

More Lemurs (Notice the opposable thumb/big toe?)


Loon mom and downy chick

Loon mom and downy chick


Panda mom and baby

Panda mom and baby


Pudu deer and fawn (world's smallest deer)

Pudu deer and fawn (world’s smallest deer)


Wombat baby

Wombat baby


Cheetah mom and cub

Cheetah mom and cub


I just called this one "Party Mice"

I just call this one “Party Mice”

This is our daily open thread–enjoy yourselves today!

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 19th, 2013: From Baseball to “Cracker”

It’s a good thing I was paying attention during the Mets game today, otherwise I’d have had to think of something else to write about.

The Mets were playing the San Diego Padres, and Keith Hernandez, announcer for the Mets and California native, was talking about the California state flag with, as Keith said, the grizzly bear as the state’s official animal. I wasn’t quite sure if it was a grizzly, so I decided to look up the official state animals and, sure enough, Keith was right…
Flag-of-California

…and here we are.

On the “State Mammals” list from statesymbolsusa.org, poor Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and Rhode Island don’t even have their own state animals (mammal or otherwise); a couple of states didn’t have photos/videos of their state mammals, so I have provided them.

New Hampshire's official State Dog, the Chinook

New Hampshire’s official State Dog, the Chinook

 

Washington's official "State Endemic Mammal", the Olympic Marmot

Washington’s official “State Endemic Mammal”, the Olympic Marmot

The list is fun to delve into for us animal lovers, and for history buffs, too – after all, a state wouldn’t pick an official animal that wasn’t integral to the history and development of that state.

I noticed that several states have horses as either the official state animal, or in a separate official ‘State Horse’ category. When I was little, horses were my first love, then dogs – it took a while for me to get to cats. I have yet to pore through some of more intriguing and unusual official state dogs. But I digress.

Zooey, whatever you say about Idaho, they’ve got the best State Horse, the Appaloosa. I always found them fascinating, not only because no two are alike, but because the foals are born dark brown/black and develop their spots later.

Appaloosa mare and foal

Appaloosa mare and foal

Appaloosa colt

Appaloosa colt

What suddenly caught my eye among the state horses was the “Florida State Heritage Horse” – the “Florida Cracker Horse.”
According to the website, “Florida designated the Florida cracker horse (or Marshtackie) as the official state heritage horse in 2008 (expires July 1, 2018 unless renewed).”

A handy video explains the history of the Florida Cracker Horse: as with many early American horses, their ancestors came over with Spanish explorers, including Ponce de Leon. After roaming wild for generations after the Spanish left, the horses were utilized as part of Florida’s overall agricultural development, and were essential to their cattle ranching industry. According to the video, the Florida Cracker Horse was named after:

“Florida cowboys, nicknamed ‘Crackers’ because of the sound of their whips cracking in the air.”

Hmmm…”Florida”…”Cracker“…where have we heard a kerfuffle over the word ‘cracker‘ recently? Oh, yeah, that travesty of justice in which the murder of an unarmed 17-year-old black teen was turned into a distracting and disgusting game of ‘Who’s the Real Racist?’ (Sigh)

This is our daily open thread — Sorry for the rant. Enjoy the animals!

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 1st, 2013: Creatures Great and Small

First, a look at some strange underwater life, including such oddities as the “Christmas Tree Worm”, which comes in a wide array of colors.

Assorted Christmas Tree Worms (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Assorted Christmas Tree Worms (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Next, although the title of the article is “What the Heck Is That? Animals You Didn’t Know Existed”, I believe that most of us nature-lovers will recognize at least some of these unusual animals, such as the Aye-Aye from Madagascar or the Proboscis Monkey.

Aye-Aye foraging at night (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Aye-Aye foraging at night (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Proboscis Monkey (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Proboscis Monkey (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Once you finish checking out the “What the Heck Is That?” article, directly below it (under the heading “More on Weather.com: Meerkats and other Baby Animals) is a photo gallery of baby animals, from meerkats (loads of them) to baby rhinos, various primates, tapirs, capybaras, coatis, and tons more.

Baby Brazilian Tapir (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Baby Brazilian Tapir (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Last, here’s a happy-ending story about an unusual trio of formerly-abused animal friends.

This is our Open Thread. Enjoy Nature’s wonders at The Zoo!