Saturday salmagundi

Saturday salmagundi March 2, 2013

• Joe Hanson posted this video of what he calls the “world’s cutest frog” a while back and I’ve watched it a dozen times since.

I can also confirm, based on a sample of a single Yorkie-poo, that this is true: “Video of tiny, squeaking frog drives dogs crazy.”

This frog sounds like a squeaky dog toy. Willow doesn’t like dog toys that squeak, but she goes nuts over this frog.

• In a desperate bid to save endangered rhinoceros, conservationists are borrowing an idea from Bunny Colvin, calling for a legal trade in rhino horns.

David Barton has admitted that his “historical” story supporting his call for guns in schools actually comes from the old Louis L’Amour novel Bendigo Shafter. This is unacceptable. If we’re going to start treating Louis L’Amour novels as actual history, then we need to start with The Walking Drum — his epic historical novel set in 12th-century Europe. (L’Amour’s protagonist, Kerbouchard, is a bit of a Mary Sue fantasy, but the author did his homework and jams the book full of fascinating detail.)

• Benedict XVI: The Al Mohler of the Catholic Church.

• I am 6’2″. I am therefore grateful to Dan Kois for saying what needs to be said.

• Lima, Peru, is a big city and it’s in the desert, so the lack of drinking water is a big problem. “So the University of Engineering and Technology has rigged up a billboard to suck drinking water out of thin air.”

• Scientists say the creature recently caught in the Raritan River in New Jersey is not a “sea monster” but a lamprey. That’s partially correct. It is a lamprey. But a lamprey is a sea monster.

• The Onion: “Gay Teen Worried He Might Be Christian

At first glance, high school senior Lucas Faber, 18, seems like any ordinary gay teen. He’s a member of his school’s swing choir, enjoys shopping at the mall, and has sex with other males his age. But lately, a growing worry has begun to plague this young gay man. A gnawing feeling that, deep down, he may be a fundamentalist, right-wing Christian.

• Pro-lifers for disease:

In her exemption request to school officials, [Dina] Check described herself as a Bible-reading, church-going Catholic who believes “€œlife is a gift from God and the body is a marvelous work of divine creation to be reverenced as a temple of God.”

• Here is your February 2013 Biblical Studies Blog Carnival. And here is your March 2013 Carnival of Evolution. I’m a curious layperson, not an academic, so they’re both a bit over my head at times, but I enjoy both of these fascinating monthly roundups. If you like stories about unearthing very old things that help us learn about the past, you’ll like both of these too.

 • It’s hard to say anything new about how despicable and predatory “prosperity gospel” preachers tend to be, and perhaps Sarah Posner doesn’t say anything remarkably original here:

How many people believed Steve Munsey, and believed that giving him money — for his family’s salaries, the car, the jet, the other excesses — would “bless” them? How many dollars did he collect by telling people that God would bless them for giving him money, that their own poverty was caused by a lack of faith and a lack of giving to him, and that God would not be merciful to them unless they demonstrated their faithfulness by giving their money to him?

But whether or not those questions are new, they’re certainly good ones.

• “First of all, nothing can be done to your body without your permission. So, it’d be a violation of the constitutional right to privacy if that were to happen.”

That’s Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, reassuring a constituent that preschoolers aren’t going to be injected with a Mark-of-the-Beast microchip, while also accidentally reaffirming that Roe v. Wade is constitutional, necessary and just.




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  • Lima, Peru, is a big city and it’s in the desert, so the lack of
    drinking water is a big problem. “So the University of Engineering and
    Technology has rigged up a billboard to suck drinking water out of thin air.”

    Wait until some genius at Bechtel figures out how to get their mitts on this and charge an arm and a leg for water that by rights should be free since you can breathe it.

  • Carstonio

    For the sake of the dissident theologians, I hope “silenced” doesn’t mean what I fear it means. I imagine visits from Ratzinger’s goons and threats made against families. Imprisonment in Vatican dungeons. Planting of drugs in their homes.

  • I want a pet squeaky frog!

  • connorboone

    In Louis L’Amour, I always end up with The Last of the Breed, and I think of it in meme form.  Much as one does not simply walk into Mordor, one simply does not pole vault into Siberia.  (The protagonist is an American Indian Air Force pilot, with crazy survival training courtesy of his tribe; the antagonists are horribly incompetent Soviet soldiers.)

  • AnonymousSam

    Hurray for the Violence Against Women Act being passed, and shame not only on the 159 Republicans who voted against it, but the people around the country insisting that it’s just one more way undeserving tramps will suck off the government teat. Really, folks? Really?

  • TheBrett

    A legal rhino horn trade is probably a bad idea, unless people are allowed to raise and breed them on their own. When a partial ivory trade was legalized, elephant poaching began to skyrocket again – the legal trade just helped to restart demand among the Chinese.

    You’d probably be better off just creating a sanctuary for them in a country with better law enforcement.

  • Worthless Beast

    Itty bitty squishy squeaky froggie!  That creature is just too cute!  I hope it wasn’t squeaking because it was afraid… if so, poor little thing.  Made my day.

    The anti-vaxx thing drives me nuts.  I hope people think it’s not just “religious” people who are against it, because I’m pretty sure Bill Maher is an anti-vaxxer and he hates religion… It’s kind of an equal opportunity idiocy there. I saw a billboard the other day urging people to “Vaccinate your baby! Get the facts!” and was sad that such a thing is apparently needed.  I mean, maybe it’s just my personal idea that when Jesus was talking about people doing greater miracles than he I tend to think “He meant science, didn’t he?”  but, yeah… I like that I grew up without polio. 

    The “gay teen thinks he may be Christian” thing would be funnier if there weren’t real families that actually reacted that way when  their children explore religions different from what the family practices (or the family non-religion).  You may say “they deserve it!” if they’re Fundie like the kid in the fake story, but it happens with all kinds…  It’s meant to be funny because it’s a reverse of “what usually happens in America,” but, sometimes, that kind of thing really does happen, a kid being faced with issues of “coming out” about beliefs they have to the parents.   At my old church, there was a lady orginally from Honduras that faced her mother insulting her, abusing her and throwing her Bible into the goat-pen when she first became a convert, from what she told me. 

  • hidden_urchin

    Well… a lot of pathogens are life so advocating for policies that benefit their development and spread is a techincally “pro-life” position although not a particularly “pro-human life” one.  I’m not so sure about viral disease, though.

  • My cat is looking behind my printer to see where the frog noise is coming from.

  • Alas, one of the Republicans voting against it is my representative, although I have never voted for him. 

    Nothing ever changes with them, does it?  Women must be divided into two categories, those who deserve to be treated like real people, and those who don’t. And they’ll decide which is which, on the basis of ever-shifting criteria.

  • Hilary

    What does YNATKC stand for?

  • You’re not allowed to kill civilians.

  • christopher_y

    Far from the most important point in this post, but be it known that lampreys are totally delicious. I’ve no idea how to prepare them, but if you’re not vegetarian and you ever see them on a menu, you have a treat in store.

  • Müntzer

     It also leaves out some ‘silenced’ theologist.
    For example this nice guy

  • AnonymousSam

    The GOP continues to melt down:

    I seriously want to slap Rubio for calling disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy “a pet project.” To Republican legislators, people really are just their personal ant farm, aren’t they?

  • Carstonio

    Maybe a better reversal on the closet would be this:

  • Lori

    Nothing ever changes with them, does it?  Women must be divided into two categories, those who deserve to be treated like real people, and those who don’t. And they’ll decide which is which, on the basis of ever-shifting criteria.  

    AFAICT these asshats never treat any women as real people. For them the two kinds of women are not “people” and “not people”, they’re something more like “reasonably well cared for pets” and “not people”. The “good” women being those who don’t object to their less-than-human status and who cheerfully take their pregnant selves into the kitchen to make their owner a sammich.

  • Women must be divided into two categories, those who deserve to be treated like real people, and those who don’t.

    It’s not that complicated. They don’t believe any women deserve to be treated like real people. 

  • Jessica_R

    It’s why I when people attack Michele Bachmann in sexist, misogynist ways I want to throw my feminist card out the window. It is so hard, but I know I must, to defend her, knowing she will always do things like vote against the VAWA. I will bake a cake and light sparklers the day she finally loses her seat. 

  • I can confirm that the Squeaky Toad does in fact drive dogs nuts.


  •  You’ve hit fairly close to the Jainist perspective on antibiotics.  Though my understanding is that the Jain arguments would not apply to vaccines (at least not live-virus ones. Not sure about dead-virus ones), since you’re not killing those pathogens, just discouraging them from coming to live in your delicious tissue.

  • P J Evans

    You seem to have forgotten your sarcasm tag.

  • Fusina

     It also intrigues cats, mine sniffed all around the external speaker–I’m pretty sure he was thinking, “I can hear the kitten, but I don’t see it or smell it”.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Reporting another cat confounded by the adorable squeaky frog. Coaxed the roommate’s cat, Naboo, in here and turned it on…She went nuts. Sniffed the entirety of the bed in about 10 seconds, and then realized it was coming from over here. She then jumped from the bed to my lap and tried to paw the computer screen. 

  • Stone_Monkey

    Is there some weird mutant strain of Catholicism going around in the US? I haven’t kept up with the thinking (if you want to call it that) of the Catholic Church all that much since it and I parted ways 30-some years ago, back in my early teens, but I’m pretty sure that they weren’t against vaccinations back then. 

    Apart from the HPV vaccine, which I’m under the (possibly mistaken) impression that they currently have a pretty dumb objection to iirc, I didn’t think the current doctrine was anti-vax. Of course, things might have changed in the decades I’ve been studiously ignoring them.

  • P J Evans

     As far as I know, there’s no general prejudice against vaccines in the Catholic church, or in most others. It’s mostly not an actual religious thing, but more a pushed-by-TV thing.

    As for that woman, I’d recommend that she move into a hermitage, and let her children be raised by others who actually care about them.

  • Another thing that drives dogs wild: this recording of a dog barking

    I don’t know why, but every dog I’ve known will run all over looking for that dog and bark at it. Other dog barking recordings don’t have the same effect.

  • Amaryllis

     A sea monster? Probably not. For Doug Cutler, a New Jersey fisherman who speared the creature in the Raritan River
    nearly two years ago, it is nothing he hasn’t seen before in New Jersey

    ‘Twas Bergen and the Erie road
    Did Mahwah into Paterson;
    All Jersey were the Ocean Groves
    And the Red Bank Bayonne.

    “Beware the Hopatcong, my son!
    The teeth that bite! The nails that claw!
    Beware the Bound Brook bird, and shun
    The Kearney Communipaw!”

    He took his Belmar blade in hand,
    Long time the Folsom foe he sought,
    Till rested he by a Bayway tree
    And stood awhile in thought.

    And as in Nutley thought he stood,
    The Hopatcong, with eyes of flame,
    Came Whippany through the Englewood
    And Garfield as it came.

    One two! one two! and through and through
    The Belmar blade went Hackensack!
    He left it dead, and with its head
    He went Weehawken back.

    “And hast though slain the Hopatcong?
    Come to my arms, my Perth Amboy!
    Hohokus day! Soho! Rahway!”
    He Caldwell in his joy.

    ‘Twas Bergen and the Erie road
    Did Mahwah into Paterson;
    All Jersey were the Ocean Groves
    And the Red Bank Bayonne.

    “Jerseywocky,” by Paul Kiefer

  • I’ll second the book rec for The Walking Drum; that is a fun story.  Loved the bit where Kerbouchard sold the pirate’s ship out from under them.

    It’s a pity L’Amour died before writing the sequel. (There’s a very obvious sequel hook in the last chapter or so, and the novel is a picaresque in the first place–like the Doctor, Kerbouchard never really stops traveling).

    Why do they keep saying that fish “appears” to be a lamprey? No “appears” about it; it’s a lamprey. The jawless mouth with rotary teeth and the row of gill holes is quite distinctive–there’s nothing quite like it. (Hagfish don’t look like that).

    I agree with Fred; lampreys are sea monsters–they drill into fish and suck the blood and internal organs out. Vampire fish from the primordial epochs…

  • I’m so disappointed that “Jerseywocky” didn’t mention Piscataway or Cheesequake.

  • B

    We actually did read “The Walking Drum” in my world history class in high school.  My only recollection of it now is that it seemed like the hero repeatedly got washed up in a new city with nothing but the clothes he stood up in, then improbably managed to both find treasure and get laid, then left to get washed up in a new city again, lather rinse repeat.

    I remember not liking it and the impression that it was sexist, but dunno, that’s really it.  That would have been… good grief, 20 years ago.  Now I feel old.

    We also read The Crystal Cave, which I liked, and an abridged version of Les Miz, which I recall still finding rather tedious despite being abridged down to ~300 pages. Can’t recall if there were any others.

  • Lampreys are one of Poseidon’s warnings that only terror awaits us in the briny depths.

  • reynard61

    “Joe Hanson posted this video of what he calls the “world’s cutest frog” a while back and I’ve watched it a dozen times since.”

    That’s still not as cute as the Fluttershy squee.

  • Regarding that list of ‘silenced theologists’, were I the only one expecting a list of things Ratzinger/Benedict had done as pope, or had a direct hand in? What, exactly, was his involvement with a damming conclave in Rome, 20 years before he became pope?

  • Taneli Huuskonen

    That video is toadly adorable!

  • vsm

    Before becoming the pope, Ratzinger was the head of The Organization Formerly Known As The Inquisition and worked hard to suppress liberation theology.

  • GuestPoster

    I hate to say it (sort of), but in my experience, how somebody acts on a plane actually correlates very closely with the conservative/liberal divide.  Conservatives, after all, value property rights far, far above personal being rights, and act just like the Hawai’ian lady in the article: “I paid for this seat, and that includes the reclining room that your gut/knees/face just happen to occupy!  Get out of my space!”  They can’t imagine a single valid reason for somebody to ‘infringe’ upon their paid-for space.

    The liberal, on the other hand, thinks that those body parts, and the space they occupy, are part of what was paid for, and that to infringe upon that personal space is a far greater sin than to infringe upon reclining space.  After all, one is necessary, the other is literally a luxury that not all seats have anyways (check out emergency row seating, and what’s right in front of it, for instance.  The seats right in front won’t recline.)  And since we KNOW that both can’t happen at the same time, the liberal tends to err on the side of what is required (whether the reclinee or, just as often, the hopeful recliner who gets shut down).

    It’s sad, but seems to be true so far.  Granted that the plural of anecdote isn’t fact, but still, after you come across a lot of examples and no counterevidence, even the best scientist starts forming a hypothesis to fit the data.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    It’s time for a major effort to flood the markets with counterfeit rhino horn and elephant tusk.

  • Lawguy

    I’ve been meaning to thank you for turning me on to “The Walking Drum” a couple of years ago. A lot of fun.  

    As far a the kids with the guns at school thing.  Barton admits he got it from a L’Amour novel, but insists that it really was true and apparently that is what L’Amour said to.  Although, once again their is no link to L’Amour’s actual interviews with the person (people?) who told him about it.  

    Oral history is fascinating, but not necessarily reliable then any other eye witness testimony(it isn’t)  and this testimony would have to be more then half a century old, if it exists.

  • I’m actually surprised nobody’s hit on the idea of popularizing purchasing the fake stuff to begin with.

  • Amaryllis

    “Hohokus day! Piscataway!”
    He Caldwell in his joy.

    There, fixed one of those for you, with humble apologies to Mr. Kiefer.

    I went to high school in Piscataway. And who would not wish to vacation in a place called Cheesequake Park?

  • Hilary

    Thanks, I couldn’t figure that one out and googling got . . . interesting. 

  • Hilary

    What a minute, you mean I’m *not* allowed to kill civilians?  Well that’s a bummer, there goes my plans for the rest of the weekend./snark

     Since I have just been officially informed I can’t go out and hunt some homo sapiens without a liscence, I guess I’m back to plan B – pick up frontroom, take out trash, clean dishes, clean kitty litter, carpool to mosque to hear an Israeli and Palestinian talk about how the most important thing in this world is saving lives by not killing and hating each other, then do my taxes, make dinner, and get ready to go to work tomorrow.

    Seriously, no snark, that *is* what I’m doing today.


  • I see. Thank you.

    …Eisenhorn for pope!

  • Foreigner

    You do not, however, want a surfeit of them.

  • stardreamer42

    Agreed. There are so many legitimate things to slam her about, why should anyone waste their time on the sexist ones? I will absolutely call my fellow progressives on that kind of shit.