On the etiquette of eating placentas

June 19th, 2018

The author of the Murrmurrs blog discusses placenta-eating:

The very day I first heard about placenta-eating, I mentioned it to a man and woman who joined us for beer-thirty, and scored a hit right away. It was the man who had eaten the placenta. It wasn’t his wife’s, either. It was at some sort of hippie community event. Sauteed placenta canapes with toothpicks in them, or something. He explained that he ate the placenta because he was polite. “You don’t get offered someone’s placenta and say ‘yuck,'” he said. “That would be rude.”

(Thanks to Jennifer Oeullette for indirectly bringing this to our attention.)

Good appreciation of the best appreciators of bad art

June 18th, 2018

There’s a good new appreciation [in Portuguese], published in Folha de S.Paulo, of our collaborators at the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA). Translated into English, the headline is “Get to know the masterpieces of the Museum of Bad ArtInstitution in the Boston area brings together two physical galleries and almost 800 works of dubious taste.”

The appreciation reproduces quite a few of the masterful pieces from the MOBA collection, of which we reproduce, in tiny form, this one:

The inconsistencies of animal-based insults in German and English

June 18th, 2018

If you call an English person ‘a mole’ will it carry the same weight as if you call a German person ‘ein Maulwurf’? The power of insults that are based on the names of animal species can vary quite dramatically across different languages and cultures. Prof. Dr. Dagmar Schmauks who is a supernumerary professor at the Technical University of Berlin (and whose research interests include pragmatics, man-animal-relationship, and orientation in space) writes of such things in the scholarly journal Semiotica 2014; 198: 93 – 120. ‘Curs, crabs, and cranky cows: Ethological and linguistic aspects of animal-based insults’

The professor lists many animal-based insults that can have similar and yet in some cases significantly different weights and meaning(s) in German and English. For example :

● smelly: billy-goat [Ziegenbock], fox [Fuchs], skunk [Stinktier]
● slimy: jellyfish [Qualle], snail [Schnecke], snake [Schlange]
● cruel or ruthless: hyena, vulture [Geier], wolf
● sly: fox [Fuchs], rat [Ratte], snake [Schlange], weasel [Wiesel]
● dishonest: magpie, steal like a magpie [Elster, stehlen wie eine Elster]
● deceitful, deceptive: snake (in the grass) [Schlange]
● evasive: weasel [Wiesel]
● wretched: cur [Köter], worm [Wurm]
● subversive: mole [Maulwurf]

Photo credit: The photograph of Scalopus aquaticus linnacus (a mole) is courtesy of Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University, US.

Note: The paper is dedicated to Professor Reinhold Aman, a prominent figure in the field of Maledictology, and editor of the much missed journal Maledicta.

Bonus Assignment [optional] :  Speciesism : is the human use of insults based on animal names insulting to animals?

Proper credit for penguins: credit cards and poo

June 17th, 2018

Here are two drawing of penguins.

One drawing is part of an ad for a credit card offered by CIBC, with the slogan “Unleash your sense of adventure. Aventura. The Traveller’s Travel Card.™”

The other drawing is from the Ig Nobel Prize-winning biology research study “Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh — Calculations on Avian Defaecation,” published in the journal Polar Biology, vol. 27, 2003, pp. 56-8.

Can you tell which drawing is which?

(Thanks to Jillian Buriak for bringing this to our attention.)

Bongo music and the dance of Slime Mold Andi

June 17th, 2018

Behold the slime mold known (to its human friends) as “Andi.” Andi’s friends arranged for Andi’s slinky movements to be set to bongo music. This is explained, all too briefly, on Medium.