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.


Official Ted Lasso