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Some random antigua pics from 4/20

I didn't take as many pics on the 20th, so I can share all the good ones, even though they are exceptionally random. Here's a big green tree lizard--another species of anole Anolis leachii.

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Very superstitious

Great presentation from the International Rhino Foundation today, long story short: rhinos are still threatened by trade in rhino horn, driven mainly by bunk medicinal uses.

After the talk, a couple zookeepers were in conversation, one expressing befuddlement that someone could believe that a particular form of ground keratin possesses special powers. I butt in, eating a cracker: "could you believe that this simple cracker can transubstatiate into the flesh of a god?"

100 More Species #76: Eastern Milk Snake

Eastern milk snake Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum

It seems calculated to infuriate me, that on the day before a holiday about a mythical purging of snakes (a symbol for the forced conversion of pagans to Christianity), I should find a dead snake in my yard, killed by a predator that couldn't be bothered to eat it. Eastern milk snakes are purportedly quite common in our area, and yet I've personally only encountered one live one, and this dead one. I took care of a couple captive specimens at Drumlin Farm, fairly calm educational animals that eventually died of gout.

Eastern milk snakes are constrictor snakes that prey on mice and other small animals, including other snakes. Sometimes their orange and brown pattern causes the over-cautious to mistake them for copperheads--a venomous species (which enjoys protected status, so don't go chopping them up with your shovel you big bully). Milk snakes are so-called because they were frequently noticed in dairy barns. Hopefully no one actually believed the ludicrous idea they were feeding on milk, since it should be clear that they were feeding on mice in the barns.


Sidewalk art


My neighbors drew this wonderful art on the sidewalk on our block. It's one of my favorite stories from the Old Testament, I guess because it involves animals. The short of it is that the Creator feels the need to start fresh, and gets one human and his family to round up representatives of all the animals onto a giant boat. Then the Creator kills his creation with a massive storm and flood that lasts more than a month. The 40 days and 40 nights on the floating zoo must have been a terrible ordeal. The Creator thought ahead to order Noah to bring more of the animals that were considered clean for eating--have to feed those big cats something!

When it was all over, the Creator produces a gorgeous multicolored band of light across the sky--a rainbow--and declares that it is his sign that the deluge is over, and that it will appear again when ever it rains, as a symbol of the agreement not to destroy the world again.

(Probably this story came up because of all the flooding that happened last week!)
Sometimes I wish that I believed something that could be easily expressed in three small words printed large on an ugly paper sign: Abortion kills Children. Meat is Murder. God Hates Fags. Taxes are Bad.

But I'm an adult, with complex and nuanced beliefs informed by years of experience and the power of reason.

Grow up you stupid children. Black and white beliefs are for fairy tales.

A new word to use

For those of you who like to talk of such things (dirty sex things) you should know now that there is a word for having...untraditional sexual relations as a way to get around God's prohibition against premarital sex. Here it is.

On another note, I should probably retire my Musharraf icon, not to mention the one's referring to a certain other ex-president.

Grapes, part one

Drinky crow
"There is a devil in every berry of the grape."

This is a wonderful quotation or proverb, but where does it come from? If you rely on a quick search of the internet, the loud and clear answer is "The Koran." (Or the Quran or Qu'ran, but most of the time, "The Koran.")

But information and misinformation travel just as widely and as quickly on the internet, and given the sensitive nature of attributing a quotation to this particular text, it deserves a cross-check. I tried to nail down exactly where in the Koran this quote comes from. If you quote Biblical scripture, you follow it with the name of the Book, and the numbers of the chapter and verse. None of the sites I found alleging that this quote was from the Koran specified what chapter it was from.

I checked a searchable Koran site, and could not find the quote. There are some verses that mention grapes, including this nice one: "And of the fruits of the palms and the grapes-- you obtain from them intoxication and goodly provision; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who ponder." (The Bee 16.67) But the full phrase quoted above (even using the two words Iblis and shaitan that may be translated into "devil") doesn't seem to appear.

Deeper in the search results is another possible origin: Thomas A Kempis, medieval German monk, and author of Imitation of Christ, an influential Catholic text (I confess I knew the title only from a Psychedelic Furs song). A sizable minority of lists of quotations attribute the proverb to Kempis. At least one source claims that the phrase "there is a devil in every berry of the grape" comes from Imitation of Christ, but I couldn't prove that by searching a few different online versions of the book.

I did however find the phrase in another book. "...Perhaps everyone has not heard the proverb, 'There is a devil in every berry of the grape.' This proverb is in use in some parts of England, and is said to have strayed hither from Turkey." This is from Flowers and Flower-lore by Hilderic Friend, published in 1884. ("Turkey" in this period referred to the Ottoman Empire, which comprised most of the Islamic world.) This citation lends support to the notion that the quote has an Islamic origin, if not actually that of the Koran itself.

My best guess is that the proverb's origin is lost to history. We may never know the identity of the poetic teetotaller that coined it. I doubt that the saying even comes from the Islamic world; I suspect that it became attributed to the Koran as a way of making it seem more significant and "quotable." If someone reading this has studied the Koran or Imitation of Christ and can say for certain that the origin is in one of these texts, please do. And please provide chapter and verse numbers, so that we can all see it for ourselves.

The Christmas horror begins

All Suffering SOON TO END!

From rss feed bpdnews:


At about 4:04 am, on Saturday, November 8, 2008, officers from Area C-6 (South Boston) responded to a radio call for loud music in the area of 5 Shepton Terrace. On arrival, officers spoke to several residents who stated that one of the tenants was playing his music much too loud. As officers approached the location in question, officers could hear Christmas music being played at an unnecessarily loud level. When the tenant answered the door, officers instructed him to lower the music due to calls made to 9-1-1. Officers further advised the tenant that people were having difficulty sleeping due the loud Christmas music. With the music turned down, officers left the location. However, a short time later, officers were called back to the same address for the same reason (noise complaint). Upon arrival, officers were able to hear the loud Christmas music. When officers knocked on the door, the tenant answered the door and began swearing at the officers.

Officers arrested Kevin Foley, 54, of South Boston and charged him with Disturbing the Peace.


Personally, I believe playing xmas music at any volume, at any time is criminal, but I know that opinion won't make me very popular.

How guilty should I feel over how funny I think this is?  If it makes any difference "sad funny" is one of my favorite kinds of funny.

Inspirational messages

I think one of the things that characterizes liberals is that they question their own assumptions and beliefs. This is a very positive thing, but it leads to uncertainty and insecurity, especially since the other side can sit there so smugly eating shit out of a can of lies. (How can they stand the smell of their own bullshit?) I know I've been really anxious about the election since the conventions and judging from the chatter on my friends list a lot of you are anxious too.

The Obama campaign sends me daily emails, and a couple of days ago they sent this one, this video really made me feel better about the election. The video is in the lower left hand corner of a page asking for donations.

Then I just saw this on my friends list (thanks feathered_frog)
After the first 30 seconds or so, I was sure this was going to be a plea to NOT vote for the Republicans. It might as well be.

This doesn't have anything to do with politics (not directly) but the video reminded me of it, and I think it's hilarious and you might too:
Evolutionists Flock To Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain

And if you can't get enough of how ludicrous Sarah Palin is, and didn't watch the video in my last post (for example because it was friends protected) watch it now. I was laughing so hard at the joke about the copy machine, I had to pause the video to catch my breath. There's some swearing in this, just so you know:

So what else are you guys finding inspiring? How do you fight the sinking feeling that the scumbags are going to lie and cheat their way to the White House?


The Urban Pantheist

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