Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Hippo Alert Update

Via Charlie Pierce, there are plans for those hippopotami in Colombia.

You probably thought we were finished with the saga of the late Pablo Escobar’s hippos when we discussed how the latest strategy to keep the massive death-dealing invaders from overrunning South America is to arrange to sterilize the beasts to keep them from pullulating all over the landscape. But we did not reckon with the American judicial system. Hippos are people, too, my friend. From the Washington Post:

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, which sought the interested persons designation for the “cocaine hippos,” called the ruling by a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio a “critical milestone” in its larger effort to have the American legal system recognize “enforceable rights” to which animals are entitled.

I think I speak for a great percentage of my fellow citizens when I say, WTF?

Legal experts note that the U.S. court order has no direct impact in Colombia, and it remains to be seen what influence the ruling might have. Gómez, the Colombian lawyer, has praised his country’s jurisprudential attitude toward nonhuman animals. Colombian courts characterize them as “sentient beings” entitled to some rights, legal academic Macarena Montes Franceschini wrote in the Journal of Animal Ethics. In 2018, a Colombia court also granted legal personhood status to part of the Amazon rainforest in a landmark decision that urged the government to put an end to the region’s deforestation crisis.

I’m happy that they’ve hit upon a strategy to control the hippo crisis without wholesale hippo slaughter. And it certainly makes more sense than the United States’ near-death experience with importing these boat-eating behemoths. From Wired:

Hippos imported from Africa and raised in the bayous of Louisiana, proponents argued, would provide a delicious new source of protein for a meat-hungry nation. In the process, the animals would gobble up the invasive water hyacinth that was killing fish and choking off waterways. It would be an epic win-win. A bill was introduced in Congress, and newspaper editorials extolled the culinary virtues of “lake cow bacon.”

Lake Cow Bacon is my favorite Moby Grape bootleg.

To quote the immortal Anna Russell, I’m not making this up, you know.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Hippo Alert

Charlie Pierce:

We here at the shebeen have been keeping an eye on the saga of Pablo Escobar’s hippopotami. The deceased drug lord, who may have been deep in his own product when he decided to do this, smuggled in four hippos for his private zoo. When Escobar got ventilated by the Colombian National Police in 1993, the authorities sold off all the animals in his zoo. Except the hippos. In this, the authorities were incredibly stupid. Hippos are murderous, raging mountains of beast-flesh who fear nothing and can eat boats. (Well, maybe not eat them, but certainly make a large dish of boat hash out of them.) As far as I’m concerned, hippos can stay in their own damn hemisphere, thank you very much.

The four hippos thrived. They were fruitful. They multiplied. There were 80 of them, and then there were 120 of them, and, if the Americas weren’t careful, we’d be overrun by hippo kudzu from Tierra del Fuego to the Yukon. BUILD THE DAMN WALL NOW!

Sorry, I was briefly overcome by inter-species panic there.

Now, however, Colombia thinks it has solved the problem. From the Washington Post:

Authorities this year have intervened, using a chemical contraceptive to sterilize the animals without the blowback that would come from exterminating what has grown to become “the town pet.” Developed by the U.S. Agriculture Department, the drug GonaCon inhibits production of an animal’s sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, putting it in “a nonreproductive state.” The USDA donated 55 doses of the drug to Colombian wildlife officials.

Why not just shoot them, you might ask. After all, when Pablo Escobar found an invasive species taking root in his business, that’s what he did. Unfortunately, the Colombian public would not stand for it.

But officials haven’t sold the public on the argument that hippos are bad. In fact, some Colombians have grown fond of the African transplants over the years, The Washington Post reported earlier this year. They’ve even stoked a budding tourism industry. Residents give visitors safari tours and sell hippo-related souvenirs. Gift shops in a nearby town sell hippo T-shirts and keychains. At the amusement park built on the ruins of Hacienda Nápoles, tourists check out the lake where dozens of hippos now live. “The hippopotamus is the town pet,” one resident, Claudia Patricia Camacho, said in a 2018 piece by the news program Noticias Caracol.

No, no, Claudia, no. The hippo is not a pet. The hippo is two tons of death on four legs. And it’s not like the hippos in Colombia haven’t already started in on their favorite recreational pastime—fcking humans up.

Officials have tried to make the case over the years that hippos are bad for the country. Ecologists say they wreak havoc on the environment. Nutrients in the hippos’ feces fuel algae blooms, which reduce oxygen levels in the water. That can kill fish, kneecapping local industry. Hippos can also hurt people. Last year, one bit a rancher’s leg, breaking his leg, hip and several ribs.

The hippo bit this dude’s leg, Claudia, and broke just about every bone south of his sternum. I’m sincerely hoping the hippo contraceptive plan works. This weekend is the Head of the Charles Regatta, one of my favorite local events. I don’t want to read some day in the future that a hippo came rampaging upriver toward Memorial Bridge and ate an eight-man shell with all hands.

I bring this story to you for two reasons. The first is that I know my dad would have loved to hear about hippos on the rampage, like something gone horribly awry in a vengeful “Fantasia” segment.

And second, my good friend Franky Gonzalez has written a play about just such an occurrence: “Escobar’s Hippo.” I recommend it highly.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Murder In Boulder

Here is a link to the Boulder Daily Camera.

Ten people, one of them a Boulder police officer, are dead following a shooting at a King Soopers in south Boulder on Monday.

After police earlier in the day did not confirm the number of fatalities, Boulder police Chief Maris Herold said at an evening news conference there were 10 dead, including Boulder police Officer Eric Talley.

“My heart goes out to the victims of this incident and I’m grateful for the police officers that responded, and I am so sorry about the loss of Officer Talley.”

Herold said police received a call at about 2:30 p.m. of a man with a rifle at the King Soopers at 3600 Table Mesa. Herold said Talley was the first on scene and was fatally shot.

Herold said Talley’s actions were “heroic,” and also praised the officers who followed him in responding to the active scene.

“Police officers’ actions fell nothing short of being heroic,” she said.

The other nine victims have not yet been publicly identified by the Boulder County Coroner’s Office, but Herold said they were working to notify families as soon as possible.

“I know there are people out there waiting for an answer, and I’m sympathetic to that,” Herold said.

Police said the shooting and possible motive were still under investigation, but police do have one suspect in custody and do not believe there is any threat to the public.

I lived and worked in the Boulder area from 1982 to 1988 when I was in grad school, and from 1983 to 1984 I lived about a mile from the store where the shootings took place. That was my local supermarket, and judging from the aerial footage, it still looks much the same as it did when I shopped there. It’s a nice residential neighborhood on the south side of town with an amazing view of the Flatirons Mountains that dominate the western skyline.

This is madness, and nothing is being done to stop it.  We will see the images, including the bodies, on TV, we will shake our head and offer thoughts and prayers, and then move on.  It doesn’t matter whether there’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House or whoever is in the majority in the House and the Senate.

It’s not a matter of courage.  It’s a matter of persistence.  We can defeat the gun lobby and have meaningful gun control without overturning the Second Amendment.  But we really have to want to.  Apparently we don’t yet.  So when?

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Attacking Dog

President Biden’s dog Major apparently was involved in an incident where he nipped the hand of a Secret Service agent.  It wasn’t a serious injury; no skin was broken, and the agent remained on duty.  Major was sent back to the Biden home in Delaware.

Major and the first family’s older German shepherd, Champ, were sent to the Bidens’ Wilmington, Delaware, home and are being watched by family friends, which Psaki said was planned because first lady Jill Biden is traveling this week.

“It had been previously planned already for the dogs to be cared for by family friends in Delaware during Dr. Biden’s travels to military bases this week,” she said at the White House briefing. “She has a three-day trip this week, and the dogs will return to the White House soon.”

Psaki noted that the dogs “are still getting acclimated and accustomed to their new surroundings and new people.”

Anyone who has spent any time with dogs know that they are protective of their space and don’t like to be surprised; especially German Shepherds, who were bred to be guard dogs. But even little dogs will nip if you startle them when they’re still acclimating to new surroundings. But that was enough to send the punditry into twitterpations about putting him down — the dog, not the agent.


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Better Angels

According to a poll from NBC, 35% of Americans do not believe Joe Biden won the election fairly.

On the other hand, 80% of Americans believe angels are real.

Make of that what you will.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

“My God… It’s Full Of Stars”

From the New York Times:

At the base of a barren slot canyon in Utah’s Red Rock Country, a team that was counting bighorn sheep by helicopter spotted something odd and landed to take a closer look.

It was not a sheep.

It was a three-sided metal monolith, about 10 to 12 feet tall, planted firmly in the ground with no clear sign of where it came from or why it was there. The Utah Department of Public Safety, revealing its existence to the wider world on Monday, said the team found the “unusual object” last week in southeastern Utah, during a survey with the state wildlife agency.

“While on this mission, they spotted an unusual object and landed nearby to investigate further,” the department said in a statement. “The crew said there was no obvious indication of who might have put the monolith there.”

The object was found in a remote area that Aaron Bott, a spokesman for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, described as rugged and very rocky, with many canyons and potential hazards. “It’s a tough place to get to on vehicle and on foot,” he said.

“We fly pretty low for these surveys so we can identify the gender of the sheep, and while we were doing this we found this strange metallic monolith out in the middle of the desert,” he said. He described the object as an “anomaly,” but added that it was “not too uncommon to find weird things that people have been doing out in the desert.”

In photos and videos taken by a team member and released by the department, the survey crew can be seen descending into the alcove toward the object. “OK, the intrepid explorers go down to investigate the alien life form,” a crew member jokes in one of the videos. “Who does this kind of stuff?”

“It’s pointed right at the only crack,” another crew member says, gesturing at a narrow slot canyon in the red rock formation. “Yeah,” the first man replies. “That is just wild.”

The helicopter pilot, Bret Hutchings, told the local news station KSL-TV that as the crew approached, “we were kind of joking around that if one of us suddenly disappears, then I guess the rest of us make a run for it.”

But Mr. Hutchings said it was probably an art installation. “I’m assuming it is, you know, some new wave artist or something, or somebody that was just a big ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ fan,” he said, referring to the Stanley Kubrick film in which a matte black slab is discovered by curious, increasingly agitated primates.

“I have to admit, that’s been about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all the years of flying,” he added.

If it sends out a high-pitched tone directed at Jupiter, brace yourself.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Losing It

From Peter Baker in the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — In theory, President Trump summoned television cameras to the heat-baked Rose Garden early Tuesday evening to announce new measures against China to punish it for its oppression of Hong Kong. But that did not last long.

What followed instead was an hour of presidential stream of consciousness as Mr. Trump drifted seemingly at random from one topic to another, often in the same run-on sentence. Even for a president who rarely sticks to the script and wanders from thought to thought, it was one of the most rambling performances of his presidency.

He weighed in on China and the coronavirus and the Paris climate change accord and crumbling highways. And then China again and military spending and then China again and then the coronavirus again. And the economy and energy taxes and trade with Europe and illegal immigration and his friendship with Mexico’s president. And the coronavirus again and then immigration again and crime in Chicago and the death penalty and back to climate change and education and historical statues. And more.

“We could go on for days,” he said at one point, and it sounded plausible.

At times, it was hard to understand what he meant. He seemed to suggest that his presumptive Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., would get rid of windows if elected and later said that Mr. Biden would “abolish the suburbs.” He complained that Mr. Biden had “gone so far right.” (He meant left.)

Even for those who follow Mr. Trump regularly and understand his shorthand, it became challenging to follow his train of thought.

For instance, in discussing cooperation agreements with Central American countries to stop illegal immigration, he had this to say: “We have great agreements where when Biden and Obama used to bring killers out, they would say don’t bring them back to our country, we don’t want them. Well, we have to, we don’t want them. They wouldn’t take them. Now with us, they take them. Someday, I’ll tell you why. Someday, I’ll tell you why. But they take them and they take them very gladly. They used to bring them out and they wouldn’t even let the airplanes land if they brought them back by airplanes. They wouldn’t let the buses into their country. They said we don’t want them. Said no, but they entered our country illegally and they’re murderers, they’re killers in some cases.”

But wait, there’s more.

Mr. Trump added to his long record of racially inflammatory comments during an interview with CBS News, in which he brushed off a question about Black people killed by police officers, saying that white people are killed in greater numbers.

Mr. Trump reacted angrily when asked about the issue, which has led to nationwide protests calling for major law enforcement changes.

“Why are African-Americans still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country?” the interviewer, Catherine Herridge of CBS News, asked the president.

“What a terrible question to ask,” Mr. Trump responded. “So are white people. More white people, by the way.”

Statistics show that while more white Americans are killed by the police over all, people of color are killed at higher rates. A federal study that examined lethal force used by the police from 2009 to 2012 found that a majority of victims were white, but the victims were disproportionately Black. Black people had a fatality rate at the hands of police officers that was 2.8 times as high as that of white people.

If this was a movie, at this point a couple of well-muscled guys in white jackets would slowly approach him, talk soothingly, and then gently but strongly take him by the arms and escort him off the stage.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Happy Friday

We’re experiencing technical difficulties somewhere deep within the chasms of the internet; it’s not you, it’s not me, it’s the dark magic that makes things happen that no mortal can understand.  Thanks for your patience.

This picture sort of sums up how my week went.

How was yours?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Just Plain Weird

What is it with Trump and his fixation on bodily fluids and functions?

Trump on Friday had a lot to say about toilets, sinks and showers.

The President claimed Americans are flushing their toilets “10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once” and argued that they are having difficulty with washing their hands in what appeared to be a tangent about low-flow sinks and toilets.

“We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms where you turn the faucet on — and in areas where there’s tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to sea because you could never handle it, and you don’t get any water,” the President said during a roundtable with small business leaders about deregulatory actions.

“You turn on the faucet and you don’t get any water. They take a shower and water comes dripping out. Just dripping out, very quietly dripping out,” the President continued, lowering his voice as he spoke about the drips. “People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once.”

Don’t get me started on his obsession with LED lights and his make-up.  Norma Desmond wasn’t as finicky.

This is not a well person.  At all.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Back To Reality

It’s especially harsh to come back from nearly two weeks of not really paying attention to the news and land with a thud: Trump holding yet again a rally in Florida (although Karma sent in torrential rain to prove that his supporters are not smart enough to know when to come in out of it) and touting the various and sundry stupidities and cruelties foisted upon us by this cretinous vulgarian.  Living on the shore of a fjord in Alaska with no internet connection and eating reindeer pizza suddenly doesn’t sound so nutty.

Of course, I didn’t watch any of this kinderspiel in Orlando, and apparently those who did heard nothing new so they didn’t bother to broadcast it (except Fox News, which has announced that it will soon sell time to broadcast his potty-time).  But reports are that he spent most of the time re-running his 2016 campaign themes: attacking a retired grandmother from Chappaqua, New York, for imagined crimes that his own children have committed, and giving evidence out loud that will be used in some future hearing on mental competency (“I’m going to read you a series of numbers and I want you to repeat them back to me…”).  But as Dana Milbank pointed out, it’s all he’s got since he can’t run on his own record of incompetence, fraudulence, criminality, vulgarity, isolationism, greed, racism, and buffoonery.

On top of that, the regime is on the verge of announcing plans for immigration arrests and deportation.  You don’t need to be a historian to see that this reeks of another regime’s method of dealing with their political scapegoat; you can download “Schindler’s List” from Netflix.

It’s no wonder that two dozen Democrats want to run against him in 2020.  I’m surprised there aren’t more; this should be an easy target for them.  Yes, of course I know that Democrats could lose an ice-skating race to a snake, but if the polls are anywhere near accurate this far out and with this short-term memory-challenged electorate, Trump would lose to any one of the top ten Democrats.  And judging by Trump’s reaction to the reality of his falling numbers, he’s killing off the messengers who are delivering the news.  (Meanwhile, he’s got more people working in “acting” positions in his administration than the cattle-call audition for a revival of “Cats.”)

Today will be my first full day back at work, back to reading what’s going on, and wondering why I came back to this harsh dose of reality when there are otters to watch frolicking in Prince William Sound and reindeer pizza to be ordered in.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Florida Man Meets Darwin

Via Buzzfeed (HT Faithful Correspondent):

A Florida man has died after being attacked by either one or two cassowary birds, which have often been called “living dinosaurs” and are considered one of the most dangerous birds in the world.

The victim, identified as 75-year-old Marvin Hajos, owned the farm where the incident occurred.

“It appears that the gentleman who was killed raised the birds and was injured after falling in a path near the Cassowary enclosure,” Jeff Taylor, the Fire Rescue Deputy Chief for Alachua County, told BuzzFeed News.

Taylor said that there were two cassowaries on the site, but it’s “unclear whether one or both birds took part in the attack.”

Hajos was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital where he later died, a spokesperson said.

“Our crews worked very hard to give the victim the best chance possible at survival,” Taylor said.

Cassowaries are large feathered birds that resemble the emu, according to the San Diego Zoo.

They can run as fast as 30 miles per hour and can grow as large as 6 feet tall.

The animal is native to tropical forests in New Guinea and can be found in Australia as well.

It possess a claw on each foot, which can grow as long as 4 inches, and can “slice open any predator or potential threat with a single swift kick.”

Lt. Brett Rhodenizer, a spokesperson for the Alachua Police, told the Gainesville Sun that “initial information indicates that this was a tragic accident for Mr. Hajos and his family.”

Rhodenizer added that the birds involved are “secured on private property at this time.”

The incident is currently being investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the local sheriff’s department.

Representatives for the Alachua Police Department were not immediately available for comment.

On second thought, peacocks are just annoying.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Going Cuckoo

This antique German cuckoo clock has been in my family for generations. It was in my dad’s bedroom when he was a boy and then it came to our house. I had it repaired and restored in 1974 and I’ve had it in every house I’ve lived in ever since. But here’s the thing: I rarely run it. It’s tick-tock is loud and so is the cuckoo, and it needs to be wound every day. So for the last ten years it has hung silently in my house. Until last Saturday afternoon.

I was sitting in the living room watching TV when I was startled to hear the cuckoo strike five o’clock. I went into my office where it hangs, and there it was, ticking away, the pine-branch pendulum swinging, the hands moving. I was alone in the house and haven’t been near my office all afternoon. I have heard of clocks stopping. But I have never heard of one starting spontaneously. I stared at it for a good minute.

The only thing I can think of is that somehow the air conditioning made the pendulum move and then it took off on its own. Or…

Allen loved the clock. Maybe it was his German ancestry, maybe because it was kitschy, whatever. And maybe… Well, I don’t believe in ghosts or poltergeists, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist and maybe this is his way of saying, “Hi honey, I’m home!”

Monday, October 15, 2018

Oh, Mitt, You’re A Hoot

I’m very glad Mitt Romney didn’t win the election in 2012 for all the possible reasons you can think of, but I do miss his wacky sense of humor.

Mitt Romney, running as the Republican candidate for Senate in Utah, doesn’t think it makes sense to talk about impeaching President Donald Trump — because Trump is a “sitting president.”

“I don’t think it makes sense to be talking about impeachment, not for a sitting president,” Romney said at a debate with Democratic Senate candidate Jenny Wilson, a former US congressional aide who is on the Salt Lake County Council, this week.

Get it?  You’re only supposed to impeach a former president — or maybe one that hasn’t won yet — but not a sitting president because it would be unconstitutional, right?

Think of how much fun we would have had if he’d been elected.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Watch Out, Kim Jong Un

Via Newsweek:

Trump again described his warm relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at a rally in Wheeling, West Virginia, Saturday, saying: “We fell in love.”

Trump began by talking of the massive threat that North Korea posed before he took office in January 2017. But, he said, his ability to develop a warm relationship with Kim during a summit in Singapore in June has been key to easing tensions.

“That was a big big problem,” Trump said of North Korea in front of a typically raucous pro-Trump crowd. “And, you know, when I did it, and I was really being tough, and so was he. And we were going back and forth, and then we fell in love, OK. No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. And then we fell in love.”

And the world screamed, “Ewww, gross!”

Just a word of caution to the dictator of North Korea: watch out for your goodies; we have Trump on tape indicating how he treats objects of his affection.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


I did not need to know that Brett Kavanaugh was — or claimed to be — a virgin long after high school and beyond.  That’s information I don’t need to hear from anyone; not the guy at the deli counter, not the guy driving the Super Shuttle, not even the hunky guy with the bulging biceps and killer smile who sits across from me at Starbucks, and certainly not the guy holding out for a seat on the Supreme Court.

I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but there are some things best kept to yourself.  I would think that he would know that since he comes from the upper class and went to a classy prep school and Yale.  So I’m hard-pressed to understand why he’d go on Fox News (well, that I get) with his wife (that must have been an interesting ride home) and give America the mental image of someone holding back their virginity.

Setting aside all the accusations and drama; does this revelation on national TV demonstrate the judgment we’re looking for in a Supreme Court justice?  Who talks about that sort of thing in a job interview, much less on cable unless it’s the Jerry Springer Christmas special?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Monday, February 5, 2018

Random Thought

Which did you think was more likely: the Eagles winning a Super Bowl, or a Holocaust denier being the only Republican candidate for Congress in a Chicago suburban district?

After electing Trump, anything’s possible.

We live in very strange times.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018