animals

Fear causes the organism to seek safety and may cause a release of adrenaline, which has the effect of increased strength and heightened senses such as hearing, smell, and sight

In the first study [2010] of its kind, officials scoured the city’s subway system to discover what accounts for the perennial presence of rodents, a scourge since the system opened more than a century ago. […] Rodents, it turns out, reside inside station walls, emerging occasionally from cracks in the tile to rummage for food. The legend of teeming rat cities tucked deep into subway tunnels is, in fact, a myth. The electrified tracks, scientists said, are far too dangerous. […]

“They can fall 40 feet onto a concrete slab and keep running,” said Solomon Peeples, 86, a former director of the city’s Bureau of Pest Control Services. “We’re no match for them, as far as I’m concerned. Man does not stand no chance.” […]

Nothing quite excites a rat like a station’s “refuse room,” a storage space for bags of garbage waiting to be hauled away. For rodents, the room is “a restaurant,” as Dr. Corrigan called it, and he recommended that the transportation authority install poison bait in the rooms for a more surgical strike. (Currently, the authority places poison only on the tracks.) […]

Dr. Corrigan told health officials that while rats were a problem in the subways, the rodents inhabited many other public spaces, particularly parks. “Virtually all of New York,” he said, “is vulnerable to this uncanny mammal.”

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

New York has always been forced to coexist with the four-legged vermin, but the infestation has expanded exponentially in recent years, spreading to just about every corner of the city. […] Rat sightings reported to the city’s 311 hotline have soared nearly 38 percent, to 17,353 last year from 12,617 in 2014. […]

One key reason rats seem to be everywhere? Gentrification. The city’s construction boom is digging up burrows, forcing more rats out into the open, scientists and pest control experts say.

Milder winters — the result of climate change — make it easier for rats to survive and reproduce. And New York’s growing population and thriving tourism have brought more trash for rats to feed on.

Rats once scurried in the shadows but now they frolic brazenly in broad daylight. […] Parents at an Upper West Side playground said rats jumped into the sandbox where their children played, though the vermin have been cleared for now.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Traps. Poison. Birth control. Dry ice. And now, what city officials are touting as a high-tech solution: drowning. […] a bucket that would lure the rodents and send them plunging to their deaths in a mysterious vinegary concoction. The toxic potion, according to its maker, Rat Trap Inc., prevents them from rotting too quickly and emitting a stink. […]

Mr. Adams said he wants to install the newfangled traps, which cost between $300 and $400, in several locations in Brooklyn. If successful, he said he would look to expand the methodology citywide.

The pilot program has already hit one snag. Mr. Adams’s office initially placed five boxes in and around Brooklyn Borough Hall, but one was disabled by a very large rat. “It was so big it broke the spring mechanism in the box so that it was no longer functioning,” said Jonah Allon, Mr. Adams’s spokesman.

{ MSN/NY Times | Continue reading }

Direct Replication of the Predictive Validity of the Suicide-Implicit Association Test

 

Life’s a scream

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{ Chelsea restaurant the Wilson debuts a fancy menu for dogs }

Cocaine coming out my pores in the sauna, I’m serious, man, I’m so sincere

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As we shall see, the story of the great flood and the voyage of the ark contains so many incredible “violations of the laws of nature” that it cannot possibly be accepted by any thinking person. […]

From the moment the impending storm is announced (Genesis 6:7, 13, 17) and Jehovah sets forth the design and dimensions of the ark (Genesis 6:14-16), problems start appearing. […]

The ark is to be made out of gopher wood according to a plan that calls for the ark to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits tall (450×75x45 feet, according to most creationists. See Segraves, p. 11). It is to contain three floors, a large door in the side, and a one cubit square window at the top. The floors are to be divided into rooms, and all the walls, inside and out, are to be pitched with pitch. Since the purpose of the ark is to hold animals and plants, particularly two of “every living thing of all flesh . . . to keep them alive with thee” (Genesis 6:19), it will have to be constructed accordingly.

Before he could even contemplate such a project, Noah would have needed a thorough education in naval architecture and in fields that would not arise for thousands of years such as physics, calculus, mechanics, and structural analysis. There was no shipbuilding tradition behind him, no experienced craftspeople to offer advice. Where did he learn the framing procedure for such a Brobdingnagian structure? How could he anticipate the effects of roll, pitch, yaw, and slamming in a rough sea? How did he solve the differential equations for bending moment, torque, and shear stress? […]

As if the rough construction of the ship weren’t headache enough, the internal organization had to be honed to perfection. With space at a premium every cubit had to be utilized to the maximum; there was no room for oversized cages and wasted space. The various requirements of the myriads of animals had to be taken into account in the design of their quarters, especially considering the length of the voyage. The problems are legion: feeding and watering troughs need to be the correct height for easy access but not on the floor where they will get filthy; the cages for horned animals must have bars spaced properly to prevent their horns from getting stuck, while rhinos require round “bomas” for the same reason; a heavy leather body sling is “indispensable” for transporting giraffes; primates require tamper-proof locks on their doors; perches must be the correct diameter for each particular bird’s foot (Hirst; Vincent). Even the flooring is important, for, if it is too hard, hooves may be injured, if too soft, they may grow too quickly and permanently damage ankles (Klos); rats will suffer decubitus (ulcers) with improper floors (Orlans), and ungulates must have a cleated surface or they will slip and fall (Fowler). These and countless other technical problems all had to be resolved before the first termite crawled aboard, but there were no wildlife management experts available for consultation. Even today the transport requirements of many species are not fully known, and it would be physically impossible to design a single carrier to meet them all. […]

Genetic problems […]

Marine animals […]

Having drawn up a passenger list, the next order of business is to gather them all at dockside. At this point, the creationists themselves are unable to propound any sort of scenario in which Noah and his sons could perform such a feat, so they resort to the convenient dumping ground of the inexplicable: miracles. God himself intervened by implanting in the chosen pair from each species the instinct of migration, and by this mechanism they gathered from the four corners of the world and headed for the Plains of Shinar […] However accurate their suddenly acquired instinct, for many animals it could not have been enough to overcome the geographical barriers between them and the ark. The endemic fauna of the New World, Australia, and other remote regions, as well as animals unable to survive the Near Eastern environment, would find the journey too difficult no matter how desperately they yearned to go. Flood theorists are unperturbed by such obstacles, however, for they simply gerrymander the map to give us an antediluvian world of undivided continents and a uniform, semitropical, spring-like climate.

{ Creation/Evolution Journal | Continue reading }

art { Nobuhiko Yoshida, from JCA Annual 4, 1982 }

There’s a gentleman that’s going round, turning the joint upside down

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There are 290 species of pigeon in the world, but only one has adapted to live in cities. Feral pigeons are synanthropes: they thrive in human environments where they can skim a living off our excess, nesting in the nooks and crannies of tall buildings that mimic the cliff faces on which their genetic ancestors – Columba livia, the rock dove – once lived. We think of pigeons as grey but they are composed of an oceanic palette: deep blues and greens flecked with white, like the crest of a wave. […]

In the 1970s and 1980s, the US Coastguard trained pigeons to recognise people lost at sea as part of Project Sea Hunt. The birds were placed in observation bubbles mounted on the bottom of helicopters and trained to peck at buttons when they spotted a scrap of coloured fabric floating in the sea. Pigeons were able to find the fabric 93 per cent of the time. Human subjects managed the same task 38 per cent of the time.

Pigeons are more intelligent than we give them credit for, one of the few animals – along with great apes, dolphins and elephants – able to pass the mirror self-recognition test. If you mark a pigeon’s wing and let it look in a mirror it will try to remove the mark, realising that what it sees is a reflected image of its own body. Pigeons can recognise video footage of themselves shown with a five-second delay (three-year-old children find it difficult to comprehend a two-second delay). They are able to recognise individuals from photographs, and a neuroscientist at Keio University in Japan has trained them to distinguish between the paintings of Matisse and Picasso. […]

The first experimental pigeon drops of Operation Columba took place at the end of 1940, and from early 1941 until September 1944 the service dropped 16,000 pigeons on small parachutes over occupied Europe, in an arc running from Copenhagen to Bordeaux. Attached to the pigeons was a questionnaire asking whoever found them to provide intelligence – on troop movements, the position of guns or radar arrays and ‘the extent to which people could hear BBC radio clearly and their views of the service it provided’ – by return of pigeon. […] Over the course of the war the Germans became, as MI6 put it, ‘pigeon minded’. Rewards were offered for pigeons turned in, and booby-trapped birds were placed in fields to injure anyone who might be tempted to send information back to Britain. […] he British, too, were worried that German spies were using birds to communicate, and a team of British falconers was established to try to intercept them, but they only managed to catch friendly birds, probably because, despite the hysteria, there were no German pigeons in Britain.

{ London Review of Books | Continue reading }

photo { Bridget Riley, Untitled (Winged Curve), 1966 }

A word now against Kant as a moralist

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If a rat sees another rat drowning, for example, it will forgo a chunk of chocolate to save its imperiled friend. […]

Scientists at the University of Chicago […] found that a white rat raised among only white rats will do nothing to save a black rat from a trap. Rats, like humans, can be biased in how they act on, or don’t act on, their empathy.

In a variant of the experiment, a white rat raised among only black rats would save a black rat from a trap — but would fail to save other white rats.

And a white rat raised among black and white rats rescued rats of both colors. The researchers found that it is not the rat’s color that determines which type of rat it will show empathy for, but the social context in which it was raised.

{ Henry James Garrett/NY Times | Continue reading }

related { when given a choice, do people avoid empathy? And if so, why? }

linocut on transfer paper { Christian Waller, The spirit of light, 1932 }

bellissima gente, musica spettacolare, emozioni indelebili

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The Beast of Gévaudan is the historical name associated with the man-eating gray wolf, dog or wolfdog that terrorized the former province of Gévaudan, in south-central France between 1764 and 1767.

The attacks, which covered an area stretching 90 by 80 kilometres (56 by 50 mi), were said to have been committed by a beast or beasts that had formidable teeth and immense tails according to contemporary eyewitnesses.

Victims were often killed by having their throats torn out. The Kingdom of France used a considerable amount of manpower and money to hunt the animals, including the resources of several nobles, soldiers, civilians, and a number of royal huntsmen.

The number of victims differs according to sources. In 1987, one study estimated there had been 210 attacks; resulting in 113 deaths and 49 injuries; 98 of the victims killed were partly eaten. However, other sources claim it killed between 60 and 100 adults and children, as well as injuring more than 30.

According to modern scholars, public hysteria at the time of the attacks contributed to widespread myths that supernatural beasts roamed Gévaudan, but deaths attributed to a beast were more likely the work of a number of wolves or packs of wolves.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

The Beast preyed almost entirely on women and children living in isolated cottages and hamlets, often as they tended animals or gathered crops in open fields. Men and cattle were not to its liking. Nor, it seemed, were sheep and goats. […]

Sometimes La Bête attacked several times in one day or on successive days, often leaving the victim uneaten. Some witnesses said that it wore an armoured hide, perhaps that of a boar. One surviving victim claimed the beast walked on two legs. Several witnesses saw a man with La Bête.

{ History Today | Continue reading }

The king sent his own gun-bearer and bodyguard, François Antoine. Along with his son and a detachment of men, Antoine traipsed around the forested countryside in search of the beast. In September 1765, he shot and killed a large wolf. He had the body sent to the court at Versailles, received a reward from Louis XV, and accepted the villagers’ gratitude

Two brief months later the attacks recommenced.

For another 18 months, something continued to stalk the villagers of Gévaudan, with a reported 30 to 35 fatalities in that period. […]

Jean Chastel was a local farmer involved in a previous hunt, and thrown in prison [with his son Antoine Chastel] by François Antoine for misleading his men into a bog.

{ Smithsonian | Continue reading }

There were no killings when Jean and Antoine Chastel were in prison. The attacks resumed when they were liberated, and stopped only when Jean Chastel killed the animal.

{ Loren Coleman/FATE | Continue reading }

A 2009 investigation uncovered a potential culprit, Jean Chastel, the man said to have killed the second beast in June 1767. The investigators wondered how Chastel, a farmer, shot La Bête dead when the region’s finest wolf hunters could not. They concluded that La Bête must have been still for sometime, when Chastel shot it. It did not run from, or at, Chastel. Was La Bête tethered? Was this man its keeper?

As for motive, some have suggested that Chastel, or one of his sons, was a serial killer, and La Bête their way of covering up the crimes. Others claim that Chastel’s son had a hyena in his menagerie and a huge red mastiff that sired the monstrous offspring with a female wolf. […]

The body of the animal Chastel shot was taken to Versailles. By the time it reached the king the carcass had rotted and was ordered to be destroyed.

{ History Today | Continue reading }

Jean Chastel’s son Antoine was said to have lived as a hermit on Mount Mouchet, with a menagerie of beasts, including a hyena. Cryptozoologists have speculated that Antoine Chastel might have used this animal to attack the young boys and girls.

{ Loren Coleman/FATE | Continue reading | Note: “Fate is a U.S. magazine about paranormal phenomena” }

acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on canvas { Jean-Michel Basquia, Peter and the Wolf, 1985 }

‘It takes two people to make you, and one people to die. That’s how the world is going to end.’ —Faulkner

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For the past three months, a team of 150 people using 100 trap cameras, drones, hang-gliders, sniffer dogs, elephants, sharp shooters, and expert trackers struggled through a forested area in central India’s Maharashtra state to hunt down a man-eating tigress. On Friday night, after an alleged attempt to tranquilize the animal, a bullet from the gun of a controversial hunter killed the big cat. 

The 6-year-old tigress, officially named T1 but dubbed “Avni” (which means Earth in Hindi) by conservationists, was linked to at least 13 human deaths over the last two years.

{ CBS | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Peter Paul Rubens, The Tiger Hunt, 1615—1616 | Jeff Koons for Louis Vuitton, 2017 }

(conatus)

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There is no robust evidence of nonhuman suicides, notwithstanding countless opportunities for such self-killings, if they occurred, to be documented by the world’s farmers, animal breeders, naturalists, and scientists. We are left with anecdote and fable, including the scorpion’s self-sting, proffered by Peña-Guzmán as an example of animal suicide despite clear evidence that scorpions cannot sting themselves to death.

Scorpions are immune to their own venom, presumably because selection has eliminated the germ lines of scorpions that were not so protected. The ubiquity of such specific, self-preserving adaptations connects to a third, theoretical, problem with animal suicide: the absence of a coherent explanation as to how selection could favour and maintain such a capability. […]

Suicide is not observed in nonhumans for a straightforward evolutionary reason: any genes that permitted suicide would have been eliminated along with the suicides’ bodies. Any animal that, in the absence of restraints, was capable of escaping its pain and suffering by self- killing would be expected to seize the opportunity, because some pain is unavoidable in the Malthusian theatre in which selection plays out, and because pain is designed to motivate action to escape. A suicidal animal, if it appeared, would face a predictable and severe adaptive problem – the kind of problem that selection would expectably and powerfully have addressed in the evolutionary past.

The most parsimonious explanation for the apparent absence of suicide among younger children, the severely cognitively impaired, and nonhuman animals, is that these populations lack the cognitive wherewithal to conceive and enact it.

{ Animal Sentience | PDF }

acrylic on canvas { Olivier Mosset, Untitled, 1970 }

‘We are all put to the test, but it never comes in the form we would prefer.’ –David Mamet

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Frank Hayes (1888–1923) was a jockey who, on June 4, 1923, suffered a fatal heart attack in the midst of a steeplechase at Belmont Park in New York State, USA.

The thirty-five-year-old Hayes had never won a race before and in fact by profession was not actually a jockey but a horse trainer and longtime stableman. The horse, a 20-1 outsider called Sweet Kiss, was owned by Miss A.M. Frayling. Hayes apparently died somewhere in the middle of the race, but his body remained in the saddle throughout. Sweet Kiss eventually crossed the finish line, winning by a head with Hayes technically still atop her back, making him the first, and thus far only, jockey known to have won a race after death.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

photo { Elena Dorfman }

if it moves fuck it

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In a mossy forest in the western Andes of Ecuador, a small, cocoa-brown bird with a red crown sings from a slim perch. […] Three rival birds call back in rapid response. […] They are singing with their wings, and their potential mates seem to find the sound very alluring. […]

This is an evolutionary innovation — a whole new way to sing. But the evolutionary mechanism behind this novelty is not adaptation by natural selection, in which only those who survive pass on their genes, allowing the species to become better adapted to its environment over time. Rather, it is sexual selection by mate choice, in which individuals pass on their genes only if they’re chosen as mates. From the peacock’s tail to the haunting melodies of the wood thrush, mate choice is responsible for much of the beauty in the natural world.

Most biologists believe that these mechanisms always work in concert — that sex appeal is the sign of an objectively better mate, one with better genes or in better condition. But the wing songs of the club-winged manakin provide new insights that contradict this conventional wisdom. Instead of ensuring that organisms are on an inexorable path to self-improvement, mate choice can drive a species into what I call maladaptive decadence — a decline in survival and fecundity of the entire species. It may even lead to extinction.

{ NYT | Continue reading }

art { Cy Twombly, Achilles Mourning the Death of Patroclus, 1962 }

By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world

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In “Rat Ethics” I am primarily concerned with moral arguments about the rat, in particular, Rattus norvegicus. I argue that there is a complex bias against the animal which reduces it to ‘a pest, vermin, or mischievous’. This predominant bias against rats is a product of cultural stereotyping rather than objective reasoning. A cultural and philosophical examination of the rat can expose and provide grounds for rejecting this bias. I argue that the three main types of rats we encounter (i.e., liminal, research, companion) should be given full moral consideration and determine certain basic moral rights which are distinct to each encounter. I examine the Norway rat from a historical, cultural, philosophical, and practical perspective. I conclude that we must re-evaluate our moral relations with this animal and democratically support the basic rights its moral liberation demands. The fundamental rights of all rats are: 1) the moral right to have reasonable consideration, and 2) the moral right to freedom from unnecessary suffering. Further, contract-based rights are suggested for companion rats, which take the form of additional regulation regarding breeders, retailers, and consumers.

{ Joshua Duffy | Continue reading }

images { ad for The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!, 1972 | Rat Fink by Adam Cruz }