Saturday, June 28, 2008

How Big is Big: The Blue Whale

The The Blue Whale (balaenoptera musculus) is generally considered the largest animal that ever lived. It can reach lengths of over 110 feet long and weights of over 200 tons.

It's hard to imagine what that is in real terms. 110 feet is over 1/3 the length of a football field. To give an even better conception of how big that is, I've included a photograph of the life-size blue whale model from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The Blue Whale is a carnivore. He hunts large shoals of tiny shrimp called krill. The whale will swim through the krill with his cavernous mouth open taking in as much water and krill as he can, then he closes his mouth and uses his tongue to push the water back out letting his feather-like teeth called baleen strain out the shrimp which he then swallows.

The throat of the Blue whale is pleated so it can expand like an accordion when he takes in water. The image above shows his throat about half expanded. For a long time, scientists thought the whales throat was always partially expanded because they only time anyone go to see the underside of the whale was when one beached itself or was harvested by whalers.

Compare the images below of a free swimming blue whale with his throat deflated and another image of the whale with his throat full of water and krill.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Michael Jackson Rule

When it comes to Frank Melton and his summer jobs program for teens, I'm afraid it's time to invoke the Michael Jackson Rule.

The Michael Jackson Rule is this: Michael might be innocent of all the terrible things people say about him, but a prudent person won't let their children anywhere near him, just in case.

I don't know what's the deal with Frank Melton and teenage boys. Some people say he's running his own private, Boys Town. Some people say he's more like Oliver Twist's Fagin or worse.

It's disturbing when the police go looking for someone in connection with violent crime and we find out they are or were living at the Mayor's house and it's even more disturbing when he takes them out for a night of vigilante crack house demolition.

Melton might be on the Up and Up, I hope he is, but this summer jobs program is completely under planned and under funded and pushing it through by raising a mob of kids and parents looking for a summer paycheck is just irresponsible enough to make a reasonable parent think twice about wanting to have anything to do with it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Disgusting Orangutan Story

People have written wanting to know about the Disgusting Orangutan story so here it is:

Ethel and Etta are two spinster ladies, living out in the country who decide to come to Jackson and visit the Zoo one afternoon.

They see the lions and the tigers and the elephants and the zebras and finally they come to a cage with a giant male wild orangutan from Borneo.

Ethel wants a snapshot with Etta and the brute, so she pulls the pocket Instamatic out of her purse and takes a few steps back while Etta stands in front of the cage.

All of a sudden, the orangutan snatches Etta by the hair, drags her inside the cage, rips her clothes off and proceeds to rape the crap out of her.

Ethel runs around frantically trying to get help. Finally, after forty-five minutes, zoo keepers are able to tranquilize the ape and rescue Etta.

They take Etta to the University Medical Center where she spends the next three weeks in and out of a coma with wires and tubes coming out everywhere.

Finally, the doctor calls Ethel and tells her Etta is coming out of her coma and she should come visit.

Ethel quietly steps into Etta's hospital room:

"Etta, honey, are you OK?" asks Ethel.

"...okay..." says Etta.

"Okay? You have the nerve to ask to if I'm Okay?

"Hell, NO I'm not okay. I've been here for three weeks and he don't call, he don't write, he don't send flowers and he ain't been to visit me even once!"

Turning 45

Here is how I responded to a recent birthday well wisher:

Hiya Tess!

Thanks for the birthday wishes. Have you seen my glasses?

I really don't feel a day older. Ugh! My knees are killing me.

Age really is a state of mind. Can you turn the TV up? I can't hear a thing.

I try to stay young by keeping up with what young people are thinking. Hey! You Kids, Get Off My Damn Lawn Would Ya?

Besides, I can't really be that old. When I was twenty-five, John McCain ran for president. Now he's running again. See, it hasn't been all that long.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day

Although he's gone now, it's hard for me not to think of my dad this time of year. I was born on father's day.

My dad accomplished a lot in life so it was always true that most people were a lot more interested in him than they were in me. It never bothered me though, I was a fan too.

For a long time after my dad died, it was like living for years at the base of a mountain and then waking up one day to discover it gone.

My dad could always make me laugh and I could always make him laugh. Sometimes, he would get me to try and make his friends laugh.

I remember one Saturday, a man came to visit my dad at his office. He was something like my dad's mentor and a good friend.

Life had been really unfair to this man recently. His wife was kidnapped and murdered just two months earlier. Although her killer went to prison, her body was never found. This was a big cigar chomping, love of life, baron of business, kind of guy.

My dad asked me to tell a really dirty joke about two country spinster ladies and an orangutan. It was a funny joke. I still remember it and it made his friend laugh.

That's probably a strange thing to remember, but it's how my dad taught me what was really important in life. If I could make a guy laugh, who had just lost his wife in that horrible way, then that's a pretty worth while thing to do.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Is Locke Really Dead?

Since all my Lost friends have commented on the season finale, I thought I'd throw in my two cents plus inflation.

Last year's season finale opened several questions and we had to wait until this year's season finale to get any answers. The biggest of these was "who the hell is in the coffin?"

"I've looked into the heart of this island
and what I saw was beautiful"

If you watched this years season finale, then you know it was John Locke in the coffin. John, knife-wielding, pig hunting, button pushing, Obi-Wan, faithful believer in the island's mysteries, man of faith not science, Locke.

If you can't tell I'm a big fan of Locke.

Like a lot of people, I was pretty sure it was Ben in the coffin. Now that we know it's Locke, fans all want to know if it means he's off the show.

The thing you have to remember is that on Lost, death doesn't mean what it normally means. Dead people come back all the time. Hurley was playing chess with the beaten to death by the smoke monster Mr. Eko in the nut house and Jack's dead dad appears to people who never met him in life.

In the real world, as in the show, the difference between life and death is just a matter of time, literally.

"I hope you're happy now, Jacob."

Marcus Aurelius spoke of great gulf of time before we're born and after we're dead and the brief moment of time in-between when we're alive. Jesus spoke of an eternal life, unbound by time, constituted only of faith. The Lost island operates independently of time. By turning the frozen donkey wheel, the island hops from spot to spot on the (what is to the rest of us) unbreakable sequential progression of time.

"When I said you had to go back to the island,
I meant all of you... Him too."

Clearly, Benjamin Linus intends for drunken, bearded, Jack to steal Locke's dead body and take it back to the island. Why? Because, in a place like the island, where time doesn't matter, then life and death is really only a matter of perspective and dead-in-Los-Angeles Locke will be alive again.

Locke to Jack: Why is so hard for you to believe?
Jack to Locke: Why is it so easy for you?

Wait. Have we seen this scenario before? An innocent man gives his life for his friends, only to have his dead body seemingly stolen from its grave but appears to his friends again, very much alive.

Imagine this: Jin (who also is not dead) is fishing off the now re-located in time island, when a stranger appears on the beach. "Have any luck?" the stranger asks. "No" says Jin, in improving English. "Cast your net on the other side." says the stranger.

Official Ted Lasso