odd animals


Given the interest in an earlier picture of me on a tropical throne, I thought I would add a few to fill out the scene. It is not so often that one takes a camera to the toilet, but then this is no ordinary affair.

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My only regret is not having the camera with me on the occasion when I was joined by some others. First, a horse meandered over, became curious, walked towards me and then looked directly at me from about a metre away. We began a conversation about many things (I will not elaborate here). As we were conversing, a chicken came around the corner, stopped and cocked its head while looking at me. Close behind the chicken came another horse, and it too stopped close by and joined the audience.

Are pigeons the answer to internet speed and safety from spying? An intriguing suggestion from the Internet Monitor suggests so. A snippet:

In 2009, a South African marketing company targeted South Africa’s largest Internet Service provider, Telkom, for its slow ADSL speeds by racing a pigeon carrying a 4 GB memory stick against the upload of the same amount of data using Telkom’s service. After six minutes and 57 seconds, the pigeon arrived, easily beating Telkcom, which had only transferred 4 percent of the data in the same amount of time. In 2010, another person hoping to shame their ISP in Yorkshire, England raced a five-minute video on a memory card to a BBC correspondent 75 miles away using a carrier pigeon while simultaneously attempting to upload the same clip to YouTube. The pigeon made it in 90 minutes, well ahead of the YouTube video—which failed once during the race.

Suggesting that pigeons might be faster than Internet connections might seem ridiculous, but as the information density of storage media has increased, and continues to increase, many times faster than the Internet bandwidth available to move it, IPoAC (IP over Avian Carriers) might not be so far-fetched. Over the last 20 years, the available storage space of hard disks of the same physical size has increased roughly 100 percent per year, while the capacity of Internet connections has only increase by 30-40 percent each year. As storage capacity increases—along with our need to fill those capacities—pigeon-powered networks may become a practical alternative to existing networks.

Even if the increasing gap between storage and mobility doesn’t become a problem, Internet censorship or privacy issues might spur the development of a Pigeonet. Earlier this month Anthony Judge, who worked from the 1960s until 2007 for the UN’s Union of International Associations and is known for developing the most extensive databases on global civil society, published a detailed proposal titled “Circumventing Invasive Internet Surveillance with Carrier Pigeons.” In the proposal, Judge discusses the proven competence of carrier pigeons for delivering messages, their non-military and military messaging capacity, and the history of using pigeons to transfer digital data. Judge acknowledges that pigeon networks have their own susceptibilities (such as disease or being lured off course by an attractive decoy), but argues we should not be so quick to dismiss the idea. As governments, and compliant corporations, increasingly block or filter access to the Internet, data capacities and data production increase beyond bandwidth limitations, and we begin to realize the environmental costs of running the Internet, sneakernets and pigeonets may become increasingly attractive options for transmitting data.

The Germans may have their Würste, in all manner of intriguing formations, as I have noted earlier. But on one thing at least the Danes comprehensively beat the Germans – in the grossness of their sausages. To wit:

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They call this a Fransk Hotdog, but it looks more like a dog’s dick. Note the ring of mayonnaise at the base.

Even more inventive is:

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Correct me if I am wrong, but that bun looks remarkably like a pair of bum cheeks.

P.S. Given the popularity of these items and given the obvious fact that they are decidedly bad for you, I am struggling to see how the infamous homo economicus fits into this picture. Isn’t he supposed to determine, rationally, what is to his own benefit?

We have already had the garden variety domestic squabble, in which women regularly crushed their men’s testicles. Some other common features of arguments have also turned. To begin with, there’s biting from the laws of Eshnunna:

If a man bites the nose of another man and thus cuts it off, he shall weigh out and deliver 60 shekels of silver; an eye – 60 shekels; a tooth – 30 shekels; an ear – 30 shekels; a slap to the cheek – he shall weigh out and deliver 10 shekels.

No wonder they wore out their teeth so early. This one is perhaps my favourite, from the Hittite laws:

If anyone steals a door in a quarrel, he shall replace everything that may get lost in the house, and he shall pay 40 shekels of silver.

That is the first thing that comes mind if I’m in a quarrel: I’ll steal his door!

We don’t seem to know, for, as Marc van de Mieroop points out: ‘ Archaeological evidence of latrines in houses is lacking, and public toilets do not seem to hаvе existed either’ (The Ancient Mesopotamian City, p. 159). Out in the village-communes that would not have been a great problem, but in what are often called ‘cities’, it was a different matter entirely. In the rivers and canals? But that was also drinking water.

On a quiet day recently, while the wind and snow blew outside, and while the bicycle stood idle waiting for a clear day, I came across a small chart in the corner. Yoga! It was full of yoga positions. Eager for some new forms of exercise, I peered more closely and decided that most of them are, a) seriously bad for you, and b) impossible. But I was intrigued. And so I began, grunting, puffing, cursing, laughing. Eventually I managed to get one or two of them:

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I have no idea what it’s called:

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And I certainly don’ t chant some weird stuff:

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But it’s actually quite enjoyable and gets most of the creaks and stiffness out of the system.

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Ah yes, it also great for the intestines, since yoga helps one fart wondrously.

(ht cp for the pics)

PS. Come to think of it, this may well be the latest in a series, of which earlier moments include the ‘pleasures of middle age‘ (my post varicose vein treatment stockings), and ‘how to be a tool‘ (my flotation suit collection).

Since the Fall was actually the invention of agriculture and all its evils – such as bread, beer, wine, and wool – I’m joining the palaeo-crowd come new year. It’s the paleao-diet for me: huge hunks of dead animal, fish, a few plants that grow as they will. And just to make sure I go the whole hog, I’ll take up palaeo-exercise as well. I will spend my days pretending I am dodging wild animals, running down prey, lifting heavy things and walking long distances with them, strutting around a fire as my prey roasts.

To make sure it’s authentic, I’m going for the real palaeo-experience. I will ensure that I eat only game animals I have hunted myself. None of this domesticated beef, lamb and pork for me. That will involve a project to bring back the auroch, the predecessor of the domesticated bovine:

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A mean bugger it was, standing more than two metres at the shoulders, aggressive, with long, inwardly curved horns.

Actually, that’s all crap, since the real palaeo-diet involves mostly stuff you can gather from the ground: spiders, cockroaches, grubs, bugs, marsh rats and other scrumptious vermin, odd looking grasses, unidentifiable mushrooms, strange roots. And I will go out for long runs and return dejected and weary, shaking my head at the game we were unable to catch, lamenting my companions skewered on the horns of some wild beast. I will crouch by the fire roasting my ‘catch’ – making sure I burn off the spider legs, retrieve the cockroaches from the fire at just the right moment, turn the field mouse that I grasped in a desperate lunge. For exercise, I will spend my days shuffling about, bent double, looking intently at the ground, and leaping upon whatever crawling thing happens to pass my way, since our hunter-gatherer ancestors spent most of their time doing precisely that. And there will be no alcohol at all, since one of the main reasons human beings settled into agriculture was for the production of beer and wine.

I will ensure that I die at no later than 30 – bugger, I’ll just have to commit suicide, since I’m already older than that.

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