vegetarian spider, shadows, dairies aren’t all that wholesome

Herbivory discovered in a spider

There are approximately 40,000 species of spiders in the world, all of which have been thought to be strict predators that feed on insects or other animals. Now, scientists have found that a small Central American jumping spider has a uniquely different diet: the species Bagheera kiplingi feeds predominantly on plant food.

Spiders are ripe fuel for horror stories since many of them inject their prey with kind of digestive enzyme so they can literally suck out the predigested remains of their victim. Then sometimes they have two to six eyes on top of their head ( catch a common wolf in a petri dish and observe under a microscope to truly appreciate the multiple eyes). This herbivorous spider is weird enough in the looks department, but feeds off the plant nectar produced by the acacia plant. A neat trick since acacias have a symbiotic relationship with ants which guard the plant and also feed on its nectar.

The Bagheera spiders are “cheaters” in the ant-acacia system, stealing and eating both nectar and—most remarkably—Beltian bodies without helping to defend the plant. The spiders get the job done through active avoidance of patrolling acacia-ants, relying on excellent eyesight, agility, and cognitive skills.


The dark side of dairies

Milk may have a wholesome commercial image, but the dairies that produce most of the nation’s supply aren’t always healthy places to work. Dairy workers are injured at a much higher rate than other workers in the U.S.: Between 2004 and 2007, nearly seven of every 100 dairy workers were hurt annually on average, compared to 4.5 out of 100 for all private industries.

[  ]….The majority of the West’s nearly 50,000 dairy workers are immigrants, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture sociologist William Kandel. Many of them are undocumented, monolingual Spanish speakers like Gustavo. Such workers are unlikely to report injuries or file claims with the state for money to recover medical bills and missed pay for fear of getting fired or deported.

The workers are not treated much better then the cows. There are diary farms that let their cows out to pasture part of the day and probably treat their workers better – though these small farms are generally family operated. Family diary farms are quickly becoming a thing of the past.


classic autumn wallpaper, the right’s polanski hypocrisy

classic autumn wallpaper

Its strange and unfortunate that someone who committed such a loathsome crime also directed one of the best films ever made, Polanski’s “Chinatown”

I am not claiming that a work of art has nothing to do with the person who made it, since that’s a stupid idea, and I’m certainly not claiming that the work of art is somehow co-guilty of its creator’s crimes, since that’s an even stupider idea. (Wagner’s music will always be identified with fascism; it can’t be reduced to fascism.) I am certainly not speaking out in defense of Roman Polanski, who apparently did something that was both heinous and illegal, and should long ago have faced the consequences. I guess I’m saying that it’s hypothetically possible to learn something from a movie, and totally impossible to learn anything from the sordid private lives of celebrities.

According to Census data I’ve lived several places in the south that can be described as average. Sordidness is not particularly an attribute of geography or profession. Just last year a nearby Baptist minister was arrested for molesting children at their day school. He’s probably getting a little payback in his current residence, the state penitentiary.  Is Hollywood really a hotbed of support for Roman Polanski? – The short answer is no. The Right’s issues with Hollywood are strange. Based in part on the assumption that all Americans are as morally soft and intellectually pliable as play-dough. You know, the same stuff of which conservatives are generally made. Since conservatives are such easy prey to their basest inclinations, its somehow incumbent on the rest of us to save them from temptations that might be aroused by pretend plays on the silver screen. Judging from their history its difficult if not impossible to believe their outrage over Polanski comes from genuine conviction. Most Republicans in the Senate recently voted to protect military contractors from liability in cases where an employee is raped. To drug and rape a young girl is certainly a form of torture yet Conservatives have spared no amount of twisted logic to defend torture – hell, torture is even patriotic. Rush Limbaugh looked at the photos of torture at Abu Ghraib – which involved sexual humiliation and declared the acts no worse then frat house pranks. Bill O’Reilly clearly implied that a woman dressed a certain way in a certain part town was just asking to be raped.