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We treat ourselves to another day of ignoring President Trainwreck.
National Review’s Josh Gelernter pens a piece arguing for better treatment for some zoo animals.
… The ballyhooed gorilla Koko, who has a thousand-word sign-language vocabulary, invented a word for ring by combining the signs for “finger” and “bracelet” into “finger-bracelet.” When Koko met a green-winged macaw, she named him “Devil Tooth.” Evidently, the parrot reminded Koko of a red toy dinosaur she owned, named “Red Devil”; green-wings are mostly red, and macaws are famously dinosaur-ey. And as far as Koko knew, the bird’s big beak was a big tooth — a fair assumption; hence: Devil Tooth. …
… A conservationist named Mark Shand wrote a superb book called “Travels on My Elephant,” which recounts his story of buying an elephant and riding it across India. At the end of the book, one of Shand’s companions falls into a bonfire and badly burns his arm. At the beginning of his next book, Shand’s elephant, Tara, sees the burnt fellow for the first time in four years — the first time since the night he was burned. The first thing she does is run her trunk over his once-burnt, now healed arm — just checking up on him.
Elephants recognize themselves in mirrors. They make and use tools, ranging from fly-swatters to corks for watering holes. I once heard a story about a large African elephant who would get drunk on fermented fruit and then go around looking for trees full of baboons. He would grab a tree’s trunk with his trunk, and — to the baboons’ chagrin — shake it empty. There’s nothing funnier to a drunk elephant than an annoyed baboon.
Which is not to say that elephants are jerks; in fact, they’re famously altruistic. An elephant-operator in India couldn’t figure out why his work-phant wouldn’t drop some logs into a hole, per his instructions. The operator found a dog napping in the designated ditch; when the dog was removed, the elephant resumed work. …
The slow growing young of humans and the subsequent intensive care has in many ways been portrayed as a liability. Turns out the altruistic behavior of our species might have grown out of solutions to that problem. The University of Zurich reports on a new study.
Apes hardly ever act selflessly without being solicited by others; humans often do. What has caused this curious divergence, which is arguably the secret to our species’ unparalleled success? A team headed by an anthropologist from the University of Zurich now reveals that cooperative care for the young was the evolutionary precondition for the emergence of spontaneous altruistic behavior.
Scientists have long been searching for the factor that determines why humans often behave so selflessly. It was known that humans share this tendency with species of small Latin American primates of the family Callitrichidae (tamarins and marmosets), leading some to suggest that cooperative care for the young, which is ubiquitous in this family, was responsible for spontaneous helping behavior. But it was not so clear what other primate species do in this regard, because most studies were not comparable.
A group of researchers from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Great Britain, headed by anthropologist Judith Burkart from the University of Zurich, therefore developed a novel approach they systematically applied to a great number of primate species. The results of the study have now been published in Nature Communications. …
We do have comments for one politician – the last GOP governor of Virginia; now on trial for corruption. Bart Hinkle of the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes on the handouts that greet the successful practitioners of public narcissism. He thinks the governor’s economic slush funds are part of the problem.
… The funds come from the state’s coffers, which are filled by Virginia taxpayers, which include businesses that might have done other, better things with the money. But politicians find the political allocation of economic goods irresistible because the benefits are clear and concentrated, while the costs are hidden and dispersed.
Despite his calls for tougher ethics rules, however, just three months ago McAuliffe vetoed one. The bill would have prohibited both him and his political action committee from taking money from companies that seek or get handouts from — you guessed it — the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.
Moreover, McAuliffe speaks about the state’s economy much as McDonnell did. “We need to … build a new entrepreneurial, innovative and dynamic economy,” he told leaders of the General Assembly’s budget committees a few days ago. “If Virginia is going to remain a leader in the global marketplace, we must renew our efforts to diversify our economy.”
The state’s economy does not belong to the state’s politicians. It is not theirs to manage or direct — though clearly they think otherwise.
As long as they think that — as long as they try to direct the state’s economy using slush-fund handouts, special tax favors and product promotions — business interests will continue trying to grab a piece of the action. And the higher the stakes, the harder they’ll try. As Jonnie Williams testified when asked why he made his private jet available to McDonnell: “If you’re a Virginia company, you want to make sure you have access to these people. He’s a politician, I’m a businessman.” Q.E.D.
Did Bob McDonnell surrender to some form of corruption when he took so much swag from Williams? No doubt. But by then he already had committed a form of corruption far graver — the kind that led Williams to assume he could get something for his swag in the first place.
The New Yorker wonders if we’re seeing the twilight of baseball.
If Mike Trout walked into your neighborhood bar, would you recognize him? Let me rephrase: If the baseball player who is widely considered the best in the world—a once-in-a-generation talent, the greatest outfielder since Barry Bonds, the most accomplished twenty-two-year-old that the activity formerly known as the national pastime has ever known—bent elbows over a stool and ordered an I.P.A., would anyone notice? A few weeks ago, Trout, who plays center field for the Angels, hit a ball nearly five hundred feet. At the All-Star Game, he was clocked at twenty miles per hour—rounding the bases, on foot. Yet his Q rating is about on par with that of Jim, the guy in South Jersey whose burgers Trout’s mother sometimes mails, frozen, to her superhuman son in Anaheim, to keep him rooted in the tastes and comforts of home. The pride of Millville: a chubby-cheeked mama’s boy with a haircut certified by the Marine Corps. He strides among us like a colossus, anonymous. …
… the Trout conundrum strikes me as a significant milestone in baseball doomsaying—more problematic, say, than the demise of corporate slow-pitch leagues, which theWall Street Journal recently foretold. When was the last time baseball’s reigning king was a cultural nonentity, someone you can’t even name-drop without a non-fan giving you a patronizing smile?
I’ve been thinking about Trout lately, because of the interminable retirement parade for Derek Jeter, and because of Bud Selig’s planned departure from the commissioner’s office in January. In a few months, Red Sox Nation will toast David Ortiz on the occasion of his thirty-ninth birthday. Soon enough, Big Papi, too, will be gone—and baseball under Commissioner Rob Manfred may be looking at a horizon devoid of personalities who exist beyond the realm of fantasy leagues. …
Downton Abbey has new plot twists in the season 5 which airs Jan. 5th. Huffington Post has a short.
It appears things are heating up at Downton Abbey.
The trailer for Season 5 of the hit series was released on August 30, and it foreshadows some major plot twists and turns. Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) seems to have her sights set on Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen), Tom Branson (Allen Leech) has a new love interest and the Countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern) looks to be making a mysterious connection of her own with newcomer, Simon Bricker (Richard E. Grant).
Plus, it looks like a devastating fire breaks out, which could change everything.