Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ahhh, Nature! News From Other Species

If you thought yesterday's earthquake was frightening, here is more from the natural world.

1. “The eggs could be killed before they hatch, maybe with electricity, or suction.”

2. In an alpha male moment, he walks to the side and pounds, ferociously, frighteningly, against the wall, a reminder of who is in charge.

3. Together, they attack wood pilings; the gribbles, which are tiny crustaceans, chew from the outside, while shipworms, larger mollusks, bore tunnels within.

No, these excerpts do not come from:
1. An anti-abortion leaflet
2. Rick Perry's appearance at a Texas Tea Party fundraiser
3. The latest children's book for fragile psyches.

The first quote comes from this story about trout in Yellowstone Lake. It seems that The United States Geological Survery (yes, the same group that told us the earthquake's magnitude) wants to kill the lake trout so that another species, the cutthrout trout, can survive in the lake. Cutthroat trout sustain bears, egrets and eagles by leaving the lake to spawn, but they are getting crowded out by the other trout who stay put, thus resulting in very hungry animals that presumably don't like to miss meals.

The USGS has also produced surgically altered lake trout called "Judas fish" that have transmitters on them so the government can track their whereabouts, find out where they spawn, and kill them more effectively. I'm not sure if I'm more offended by the tax money being spent on this program or the clear violation of church and state in the use of Judas for a public program. Lawsuit?

The second quote is from an article that describes how Disney's Animal Kingdom is taking care of a gorilla named Gino who has heart problems. It seems that even in the dog-eat-gorilla world of fierce competition, 40% of gorillas die of heart-related disease, so Disney has sent doctors to train animals like Gino how to behave so they can receive human-quality medical care at a theme park price. Gino gets ultrasounds (he licks the gel--ewww) and blood pressure checks, and he also gets fruit as a reward when he cooperates.

There is no word on Gino's co-pay.

I think Disney is on to something here. Rewarding humans with fruit when they behave just might save us millions of dollars in health care costs. Better yet, we could make the ultrasound gel out of fat free whatever and have people lick it when the test is over. It has to cost less than the individual mandate.

And the final quote begs that this question be asked: When is clean water a detriment to progress?

The answer comes from this article entitled, Cleaner Harbor Has a Downside: Pests That Plague Park Construction. It seems that the cleaner water in New York Harbor has led to a rise in the number of gribbles and shipworms, tiny creatures that are eating the wooden pylons that are supposed to be holding up waterfront parks in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Repairing the pylons is costing the city many millions of dollars and it's all because of those darned environmental laws that have cleaned up the harbor, which I remember being able to actually walk across when I was a child (OK, just kidding). Law of Unintended Consequences, anyone?

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