is older than it's ever been and now it's even older


I was listening to NPR on the way in to work this morning, and I heard this story about humpback whales on the east coast of Australia (audio link; but notice the unnecessary apostrophe on the entry page). Turns out that researchers have been studying these whales for years and years and there is a set mating song. Now this isn't a sort of "Louie Louie" two and a half minute single, it's a ten minute "Stairway to Heaven" that has only had minor variations for the last few decades. And then two whales from the west side of Australia showed up with a radically different song. Instead of having the song be drowned out and ignored by the other hundreds of whales with the usual eastern song, the whole mass of the whales changed their songs to be the same as the new whales' song. This is the sort of thing I think about when I hear about how superior we are as humans to the totality of nature. What crap. We're animals too, and we don't give nearly enough credit to how much like the rest of the animals we really are. Take this story, for example (via Follow Me Here). The thrust of the article is that scientists are finding out all kinds of crazy brain structures at work for various animals' feats of memory and cognition, like what a homing pigeon uses to find its way. I find it especially interesting that smell is related to that particular aspect. Consider how your memory works. If you smell something you really, really, remember -- it can cause serious flashbacks. Common smell triggers include baking food (Turkey anyone?), elementary school smell, and perfume. I swear every time I smell Tea Rose perfume I cannot help but think of mom.

On the other hand, scientists also like to use the similarities between us and other animals for research, most of the time for good, but sometimes I wonder. In this article, the author examines a recent study on cannabis use. The study's authors claim that because the monkeys voluntarily injected themselves with THC that means it's addictive. As the link points out, however, if you take a really hyper monkey and tie it down, it will probably want to figure some way to ameliorate its condition. I'll leave the really good points to the article, but suffice it to say it is absolutely hilarious. The other thing I noticed about that article is it was written by a co-writer of When Elephants Weep: the Emotional Lives of Animals, a book I've read that deals with some of the same subjects raised above. While some of the examples in the book will raise an eyebrow, some of the others are absolutely fascinating, such as the way elephants communicate and recognize the carcasses of relative elephants if they come upon them.

Warning!! Blasphemy ahead!! This site is called HeritiCards, which is "fun for the whole damned family." (via Blue Ruin) Pretty funny stuff for the non-easily offended crowd. It kind of reminds me of the Landover Baptist Church spoof site, which is also pretty damned funny.

Re: the ISSN post yesterday, as an official Journalist, I think I'll post special editions from time to time. Saturday is the Big XII championship game and thus should warrant a pregame special. I also am taking the LSAT that day, but I figure I'll find enough time to post a few links.


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