Early Morning Open Thread: Doggies

From commentor MeDrewNotYou:

Although Danny isn’t a rescue, I think he’s adorable enough for the “strict” standards of the BJ community (Does it have 4 legs? Is it furry? We love it!). Danny is 9 1/2yrs old, and was a birthday present for my sister. When she went to pick a dog out, he kept nibbling and untying her shoelaces, forcing her to pick him. When he came home, he took to following me around; sometimes walking into a door I shut behind me. (The yelp made me feel pretty bad.) His hobbies include sleeping (a lot), eating, belly rubs, and most especially ear scratches. In the picture, you can see him with his favorite toy, Little D, a veritable clone. At bed time, he’ll usually pull it out and set it down next to him before he curls up for the night.

Open Thread: Ourselves & “Our” Animals

From the (Boston) Sunday Globe, an article suggesting “How animals made us human”:

What explains this yen to have animals in our lives?
An anthropologist named Pat Shipman believes she’s found the answer: Animals make us human. She means this not in a metaphorical way — that animals teach us about loyalty or nurturing or the fragility of life or anything like that — but that the unique ability to observe and control the behavior of other animals is what allowed one particular set of Pleistocene era primates to evolve into modern man. The hunting of animals and the processing of their corpses drove the creation of tools, and the need to record and relate information about animals was so important that it gave rise to the creation of language and art. Our bond with nonhuman animals has shaped us at the level of our genes, giving us the ability to drink milk into adulthood and even, Shipman argues, promoting the set of finely honed relational antennae that allowed us to create the complex societies most of us live in today. Our love of pets is an artifact of that evolutionary interdependence.
Shipman’s arguments for the importance of “the animal connection,” laid out in an article in the current issue of Current Anthropology and in a book due out next year, draw on evidence from archeological digs and the fossil record, but they are also freely speculative. Some of her colleagues suggest that the story she tells may be just that, a story. Others, however, describe it as a promising new framework for looking at human evolution, one that highlights the extent to which the human story has been a collection of interspecies collaborations — between humans and dogs and horses, goats and cats and cows, and even microbes.
The great value that was gained from these “living tools,” as Shipman calls them, also meant that people with a particular interest in animal behavior, and who were especially acute about observing, predicting, and controlling it, were more likely to thrive in early human societies and to have more offspring. To the extent that there was a genetic component to these skills, Shipman argues, it spread. Just as humans selected for certain traits in domestic animals, those same animals were unconsciously shaping their domesticators right back.
“Domestication was reciprocal,” Shipman writes in her Current Anthropology article. And our weakness for pets, she suggests, may be a vestige of that bilateral domestication.

Football Night in America

I’m going to be tired in the AM, but I love a doubleheader on Monday night. If I had my way, there would be a game every night of the week and the leftovers on Sunday afternoon. If there is football on, it is the best thing on tv, without question.

Also, as a Steeler fan, I am obligated to root for the J… E… T… S… JETS JETS JETS!

Early Morning Open Thread: Sisters (Not Twins)

From commentor William S:

We adopted Gypsy [top] in January of 2009. I was living in Las Vegas, cross country from my girlfriend, at the time and needed someone to keep me company. I was told Gypsy was about 8 months old, but given how much she grew after I brought her home I think they overshot her age by a couple months. She was found in the desert around St. George, Utah living wild, and had been caught and released at least once before the group I adopted her from took her in (she was already spayed and had her ear docked to indicate she had received shots, which is apparently common in the area). She got attached to me pretty quickly, and when my girlfriend came to visit Gypsy would sit possessively on my lap and shoot angry looks at her for the first few hours. Since we moved back east (and as anyone who has done it can attest, moving cross country with a cat is all kinds of fun), they have gotten along much better. She’s a very smart cat (opens doors, drawers, etc.), and has a little bit of a chewing problem (blind cords, my glasses, watch bands, you name it).
We adopted Shallot [bottom] in early July. Shallot is about 2 years old, and had been living in the shelter for a year. She was found dumped and pregnant in West Virginia. After she had her kittens and they were adopted out, Shallot was put up for adoption as well. She’s a real sweetheart, but a bit of an idiot. I know kittens chase their tails sometimes, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a two year old cat that does it with such gusto and conviction. She’s a little bit on the clingy/needy side (not surprisingly, given her back story), but is extremely affectionate, and gets along very well with Gypsy.

This is not a “Mad Men” open thread

I’ve had about enough of Jon Hamm after watching football, and the accompanying commercials, all day, but due to a problem with my RSS reader, I had been missing James Wolcott’s brilliant Mad Men synopses. Wolcott has the silkiest chops in the blogging game and his piece on last week’s show is worth reading for the title of the lead-in alone.

Also, this is a general open thread and also too, I think this is the comment of the day.

Open Thread: Splendid Isolation

My vote for Quote of the Day goes to commentor Beltane:

Remember back in the ‘80s that cult in Oregon that tried to suppress voter turnout by infecting all the salad bars in town with salmonella? That’s what the GOP is doing on a large scale with the teabaggers: spreading disease so everyone stays home on election day hurling into the toilet.


And a big thank-you to… a commentor whose name I’ve misplaced (Steeplejack? AWS?) for this version of Splendid Isolation, theme song for the 2010 elections:

(Not to mention the afterbanter: “You take up the guitar in the first place because you’re an inarticulate person, and then you go out and talk eight hours a day about it.” I miss Warren Zevon… )

ETA: Commentor Calvin Jones & the 13th Apostle gets the credit for the link. Again, thanks!

Open Thread: Generation Envy

Commentor Davis X. Machina posted a comment earlier today, on those members of the Boomer Generation (and IMO the Gen-Xers can be just as guilty) whose entire political philosophies are based on spite, anger, and “punishing” everyone who is not exactly like them:

… [G]enerational envy. The people who survived the Depression and WWII are leaving from our midst.
There are a lot of neo-Crusaders who au fond are really motivated by nothing more than an unwillingness to confront the decided fact that their lives aren’t harnessed to some larger cause, that their sacrifices—of their living standards, their civil rights, their sanity—aren’t made in the course of getting something better, something larger, in return. Say, a Global Titanic Manichean Struggle against Ultimate Evil.
Instead it’s the 9-5, becoming the 7:30-5, and Saturday if the boss asks, owning the oldest car in the cul-de-sac, driving the soccer bus, all the while getting older, grayer, and more worried. And that can’t possibly be all there is. Not for me. I am unique, wonderful, put here for a purpose. I am not meant for a Global Titanic Manichean Struggle against Male Pattern Baldness.
You wanna be Willy Loman, or Audie Murphy?
The Last Good War—now that was a purpose. But that was 70 years ago, and today there’s nothing—except the Pats on the wide-screen. Now you need a grand Crusade, just to avoid looking into the abyss. Sometimes you have to go crazy to keep from going mad.
Voltaire was right—‘Cela est bien dit,’ répondit Candide, ‘mais il faut cultiver notre jardin.’
Not enough, not nearly enough, cultivating of the jardins going on out there in suburbia…