Monday, August 24, 2009

Cunning Corvids

They can tell us apart, but we can't tell them apart.

And now, it seems, adaptive thinking is not solely relegated to the higher mammals. Rooks can make tools as well as crows, a finding that reduces the likelihood of a strange evolutionary pressure resulting in the earlier Caledonian crow findings.

Increasingly we understand that myths about ravens are not far at all from the truth. They truly can lead large predators to prey. They will hitch a ride on a boar's back, and the young grow up learning how to test wolves' limits. Indeed, ravens and wolves have been seen playing.

At some point we will learn that intelligence has evolved into its own family tree, and that our brain size does not necessarily indicate a monopoly upon certain kinds of intelligent thought. In fact, our brain size may well be getting in the way of certain types of thought - the premise for Kurt Vonnegut's wonderful Galapagos. Hopefully, however, increased understanding and respect for the intelligence evidenced by our fellow inhabitants will save us from our own big-brained extinction.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bitch Kitty

Numerous readers (in my mind) have inquired regarding the fate of Bitch Kitty.

The first rule of the fate of Bitch Kitty is. . .

Follow the Palahniuk narrative here, folks.

The second rule. . .

Or, if that's too recent a read, you can always step backward into T.S. Elliot's money-maker. Every cat has three names. The first is its secret name, the second known only to itself, the third the name given. . .

No pic exists for Bitch Kitty.

Bitch Kitty is the extremely over-compensated CEO of MICEnterprise, Inc., one of the world's best mousetrap inventors. Build a better mousetrap. . .

Bitch Kitty is a protagonist in a William Gibson novel, and she is suing him for libel.

Bitch Kitty is an aerial acrobat nonpareil. The silk butcher of an airy button.

Bitch Kitty makes her entrance stage right and her exit stage left. In Greek tragedy she would be Medea.

In Willy Shakes, Lady M. Paws must be cleaned of damned spots.

Bitch Kitty knows no fear of the internal workings of the jiko.

If you give Bitch Kitty milk, she will not be full of the milk of human kindness. She'll only be full of milk.

Bitch Kitty vs. Safari Ants=Safari Ants + food

She was not always welcomed. She was not always turned away.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Dog With No Name

It's a catchy title, but it doesn't stick.

Likely Needlenose had numerous names. He was, as the pic indicates, a charmer. He wouldn't have been much more than a snack for a leopard. His survival skill set was based on his social graces, and these he had in abundance.

He was consistent. He had his appointments and he kept them. We were just a stop along the route that ended with a safe bed somewhere, but not with us. Like any semi-feral dog, Needlenose had his share of fellow travelers, bloodsuckers all. Unlike Bitch Kitty, whose favorite entrance was the unannounced flying leap through an open window onto a crowded table, Needlenose was not as presumptuous. He didn't shove his way in, having too much game for that.

Having a village dog is a good thing, if you can't have your own, and subsistence isn't exactly welcoming to pets. One more mouth to feed is, well, one more mouth to feed. Sometimes the margin is too slim for anything but family.

It's hard to know the average lifespan of a village dog. It likely varies wildly from dog to dog, village to village. We were only in Kenya for a year, and Needlenose was part of it. He didn't seem to want to be a big part of it.

He sure had a knack for choosing his spots, though.