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What (other) animal would you be if you had to choose? This is my choice. My favorite. Here’s it’s Wikipedia entry.
Anglerfishes are members of the teleost order Lophiiformes /ˌlɒfiːəˈfɔrmiːz/. They are bony fishes named for their characteristic mode of predation, in which a fleshy growth from the fish’s head (the esca or illicium) acts as a lure.
Anglerfish are also notable for extreme sexual dimorphism seen in the suborder Ceratioidei, and sexual parasitism of male anglerfish. In these species, males may be hundreds to thousands of times smaller than females.
Anglerfish occur worldwide. Some are pelagic while others are benthic; some live in the deep sea (e.g., Ceratiidae) while others on the continental shelf (e.g., the frogfishes Antennariidae and the monkfish/goosefish Lophiidae). Pelagic forms are most laterally compressed whereas the benthic forms are often extremely dorsoventrally compressed (depressed) often with large upward pointing mouths.
How great is that? Sexual parasitism? Lures fish with a funky tumor doohickey dangling from his noggin’. Sign me up, Sparky. This is the greatest animal on the planet. Period.
I’ve got no beef with animals. They’re just as important and special and unique and majestic as I am. And yet I’ve eaten my share of some, worn their hide. Yet oddly respect them. The collective group of they I respect and admire. As I consumed them in a variety of ways. And therein begins the first problem I have in trying to explicate my thoughts on animals, especially as to their cruelty. I, the consummate consuming hypocrite. There’s the anthropomorphic insinuation of what we think animals think. How do we even know that they “think.” How we know what they feel and experience and sense. With the exception of the howling, bleating, screaming yelp of a weasel caught in a trap, we have no idea what they think. Or if they think. Or what level of cognition they enjoy. And let’s leave out the great apes and dolphins and pachyderms and pigs – those animals we’ve dubbed smart through some kind of collective barnyard folklore and mythology. We swear puppies love us because their tails wag. Or that a kitten’s sad because . . . it looks sad. This critter with no expression we see as sad. Paging, Dr. Freud. And we then meet the various incarnations of human on the concern scale. The callous carnivore who snorts and spits and burps and growls and drops “bacon” into any conversation. The Ted Nugent character. Now, Ted’s right in many respects. He eats all of his kill: even offal. The awful offal at that. Sinew, cartilage, jowls, cheeks, trotters, snouts. And that’s supposed to justify the killing of the animal. But I’m not one to quarrel. On a tangential, perhaps desultory note – Have you wondered how Ted’s incisors over the years have through attrition or filing makes the most annoying whistle? Anyhoo. Then there’s the animal nut and loon. The freak. The cat lady. And don’t bring PETA into the equation. I kind of like those folks. But you know exactly of whom I speak. The Bible of course sanctions not only the killing and consumption of varmints but almost directs it. Genesis 9:3 – “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” Well, that settles that. I’ve mentioned this innumerably, I’m a vegan and consume not even an egg or drop of milk. Not a pat of butter or even the occult egg in pasta. Why? Because that makes me superior to you. Ha! How many vegans does it take to change a light bulb? I’m better than you. How do you tell if someone’s a vegan? Don’t worry they’ll tell you. I hate circuses, amusement parks. I hate capturing animals for my amusement. Now, domestication’s another story. Don’t you love exceptions? Cats and dogs are OK. But a giant walrus playing a cardboard banjo with a straw hat is demeaning. Demeaning?! See, now I’m doing it. It violates my own sensibilities. The rules that I just create out of the ether and state emphatically. So here’s to Mayor BDB and Liam Neeson and everyone who this week ads to the paradigm and algorithm and matrix of animal politics.
Prolegomenon: Mayor BDB suffered a few missteps during the initial weeks of his term. Errors that caused perception problems. To be fair, everything he said he’d try to accomplish he’s forged ahead with and I’m dumbfounded at why approval polls are indicating dissatisfaction. What did people think he’d do? But what he needs to do first is appoint a perception czar.
WANTED: PERCEPTION CZAR
Mayor Bill de Blasio would do well to consider enlisting the services of a perception czar, someone appointed to step out of the more historically administrative role of stewarding an aspect of urban governance and direct the mayor’s actions accordingly in order to craft and steer the public’s perception of Hizzoner. Perception (as is oft-quoted) is reality. Perception takes into account memes, themes, sentiment and the temperamental mood swings of a constituency hardwired to and in sync with the erratic pulse of social media. And you know when it comes to social media, everything’s magnified and exaggerated by the self-absorbed. Remember: Twitter’s for the exhibitionist; Facebook’s for the narcissist.
The mistakes made in Mr. de Blasio’s initial weeks of mayordom weren’t that of a corrupt administration or even an incompetent one, far from it. But rather one nescient as to perception and image. He seemed clueless, tone deaf, detached and disconnected – he went from one gaffe to another at incredible speed. And this from a man who played image and perception so deftly in his campaign. Indelible memes were deftly bounced to and (Dante’s) fro.
Two of the mayor’s more interesting errata are analyzed herein.
Snowcompetence. (After all, what would any piece be without a pithy neologism and portmanteau?) Even the historian tyro knows full well that if there’s one thing that will incite the pitchfork and torch brigade it’s a mayor who fails to possess minimum standards for snowcompetence, loosely translated as the ability to appear to know what you’re doing especially and particularly after major snow falls. It’s not so much that you actually do anything or have the slightest clue as to what you purport to do, just look like you know. Remember: It’s perception. Two great examples come to mind to counter the Lindsay reference.
First, a word on John Lindsay. There’s nothing worse than having your name word-associated with a less than favorable image. Try it. What comes to mind when I say Betty Ford, Tommy John, Shinola? I think rehab, surgery and an inability to recognize the difference between said bootblack and … well, you know. Now, think John Lindsay. I think of a dearth of snowcompetence. And what the newly minted mayor de Blasio should have done had his perception commissioner been on board and on duty was at the first sign of a snowflake to don an appropriately badged and brightly lettered sanitation jersey (perhaps a Christie fleece) with MAYOR emblazoned prominently and channel Rudy Giuliani and owned it. Look also to the dashing exploits of Newark’s caped crusader Cory Booker, who while mayor braved the snow, charged into a burning building to save its helpless and hapless occupant, all the while Tweeting of his valor nonstop. That’s perception perfection.
Mayor de Blasio missed that one. And what was worse was to have a -gate appended to your controversy. And while Plowgate might be dwarfed by Bridgegate, the perception that postelection retribution might have inspired targeting the Upper East Side would and could have been avoided by a perception czar who would have carefully noted snowplowing targeting and anticipated that complaint head-on.
It’s a beautiful day. February 13, 2014. Snow like we haven’t seen in a long time. Ice Station Zebra snow. Bad. Real bad. For whatever reason, Mayor BDB decides to keep schools open. Incurring the wrath of teachers, parents, students and of all people, Al Roker. Al Roker! And as no one actually said but many thought à la LBJ, when you’ve lost Al Roker, you’ve lost America. Roker’s made a career out of being universally agreeable and jolly but you, Mayor de Blasio, pushed this lovable weatherman over the edge.
And then, it happened. And as they say, you can’t write this stuff. Chancellor Carmen Fariña weighs in with this beaut. “It is absolutely a beautiful day out there right now.” It falls in the category of “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,” as Dubya remarked to (soon to be ex-) FEMA Administrator Michael Brown after Katrina’s devsatation in 2005.
“It is absolutely a beautiful day out there right now.” Amazing. I remember seeing kids on TV trudging and schlepping and slogging through the ice, slush and frozen road custard, disappearing into ice and snow mounds. And, if you thought it couldn’t get any better, Chancellor Fariña after declaring the beauty of the day cancelled a townhall meeting in Brooklyn . . . due to inclement weather. You can’t make this up. Had the perception commissioner been on board, the good Chancellor would have been ordered to make that meeting even if she had to enlist a team of Iditarod sled dogs.
Now to be fair His Honor never said it was a beautiful day just as he was never the driver during (his other “gate”) Speedgate, but he absorbed and inherited the remark’s fallout. You take credit and fault for your subordinates. Natch. In agency law it’s called respondeat superior. In politics it’s called politics.
Plato said that science was nothing but perception. Let me add: political science.
The other night we had a number of students come through the newsroom as part of a field trip, I suppose. They were most polite and inquisitive and optimistic and it took everything in my power not to ask them the hard questions. Like what constitutes news and is there anything called bias? Bias both in slant but also in terms of underreporting so as to not alarm or inflame the people. Think the soft soap. I hadn’t the heart. That’s why I’d probably make a lousy teacher because before I explained the rudiments of anything I’d be going for the exceptions and conditions and the throat. And I love the idea of the news and of being informed and being sentient and connected to the world as an active participant. But there’s so much news and data and information that should be disregarded altogether much like one would discard a nutritionless, tasteless mound of fried carbohydrate. It may seem filling but after the glycemic spike hits, you feel the bottomless drop of attention and concentration. And don’t get me started with their hi-tech gadgetry that they were tethered to. And that I am as well. They hadn’t the foggiest notion of what surveillance meant, especially that of voluntary surveillance. Subjecting yourself to Orwellian dystopic jewelry and not even having the vaguest, faintest, slightest idea of what being thrust on the 24/7 real-time panopticon. They would have thought me the loon. And why not? Because the more you know, the crazier you look.
The Kill Switch
One of the most important stories bar none is the internet kill switch. And what inspired that reference and thought was Ellen and her record-breaking Oscar selfie. Instantaneously, it was all over the world. That’s why Twitter is the most dangerous instrument on the plant today and furthermore why it’ll be the first thing shut down during upheaval, uprising and tumult.
This is what’s referred to in the biz as a reel. An anachronism. Like album or tin foil. It’s a pastiche and mosaic. ‘Tis I.
Mr. Watson, I need you. After a series of frustrating conversion problems with Mac OS X 10.9 and an FTP conversion system that could only accommodate 10.7, that frustrating beach ball from hell, hours of reconfiguring and finally finding a system that could accommodate these new strictures and requirements, VOILA! I’ve the following.
Conspiracy? No fact. This has indeed been a most interesting times what with the semicentennial of JFK’s public murder, the insanity of Thanksgiving and the attendant Black Friday (supported if not caused in toto by the Ted Baxter sockpuppet media), here we are and here I sit. The JFK 50th was spectacular in in its unspectacular coverage by a feckless, impuissant and invertebrate MSM who found new ways to regurgitate the old. I watched amazed at how the official story was replayed and rehashed without missing a beat. Not one anchor or reporter of note (except one brave commentator) dared to address alternative theories to the spectacular and fantastic official story. Theories that have been studied and analyzed by a host of respectable and learned folks. Remember Pilger’s Law: Never believe anything until it’s officially denied. Not for a second did any of these folks even consider the fact that the official story that was presented by those with the most to lose was replete with holes and logical inconsistencies. ‘Twas amazing truly. In fact, I was sitting with a young colleague who had miraculously never seen the Zapruder film, especially the frames that show the bloodied mist of the President’s brains and dura mater and shards of skull. He was aghast at the brutality. So, this is what they’ve been talking about. I asked him afterwards which direction he thought the bullet(s) was/were coming from. Why, he said almost shocked at the seeming idiocy of the question, from the front, of course. No, I said, the official story was that it was a rear shot. You should have seen the look on his face. For at that moment, the entire lunacy of the certitude by anti-conspiracists was clear. He finally got it, saw it and marveled.
Remember, they’re happy. And then we went through the pre- and postprandial Thanksgiving frenzy along with the sheer and absolute insanity of Black Friday. Just imagine those folks who are ready to kill others were happy. Happy! They weren’t breaking into stores looking for food; they weren’t rioting over bank runs, no! They were happy. It was Xmas and they were ready to kill each other. What’s more amazing is that they weren’t paying with cash but were invariably charging their insanity, diving and burrowing deeper in debt. And the media watched. And laughed. Watched as these loons fought on the ground, pulling hair. Watching and recording how some were Tasered and arrested. Watching in fake and faux shock. Pretending to be aghast but loving the real time video. We’ve become savages. And, I repeat, we’re happy!
So where are the podcasts? Great question. Here’s the answer. I use Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks. My FTP software is good up until 10.7. And what that means is that I’m basically hosed for the moment. I’m talking to my trusty web warden who’s hot on the issue. Stay tuned.