April 17, 2005

Natural selection acting through me

I always find it interesting when people say that the "holy spirit" has "moved" through them. As an atheist, I don't get to enjoy this experience, and sometimes wonder what it must be like (to be crazy). But today, I got as close as I ever will, when a natural force moved through me - natural selection.

I was driving through campus looking for a parking space, when I saw one on a side street. I was forced to stop quickly in the intersection, and I started turning before seeing pedestrians crossing. So, I had to stop in mid-turn, in the oncoming lane of traffic, until they crossed. But as soon as they crossed I quickly accelerated, to get out of the way of oncoming traffic (and avoid being naturally selected myself). As I was going through, I saw a bird land in the crosswalk. It was too late (and dangerous) to stop, and anyways, birds seem to have some miraculous ability to avoid being hit. But not this time. When I got out of my car, I saw the bird, still in the crosswalk, but now less alive than before. Obviously, this bird hadn't perfected it's "miraculous car-avoidance" capability yet.

Posted by mill1991 at 2:25 PM

January 12, 2005

Crows can use tools; proof they are more intelligent than Bill O'Reilly

In experiments with crows (too dangerous to justify whatever scientific gains might result, if you ask me), they were found to be able to use tools. In this case, the tool was a stick used to pick food out of crevices. While the article states that "birds may not be renowned for their intelligence" (an understatement if I've ever heard one), this shows that crows do have some semblance of intelligence.

I've actually heard that the crow is one of the more intelligent bird species, and some even have the ability to talk as well as other intelligent abilities. In fact, in unreported results, a remote control was placed in the bird's environment, and the birds were able to control a television. Two of the crows universally turned the channel off of Fox News, saying they found the commentary "Too loud. Caw! Too loud. Caw! Strawman. Caw! False dichotomy. Caw!" I couldn't agree more, except with the "caw" part, as there is no need to resort to vulgarities. The other two crows spent all their time bowling, driving around in pick-up trucks, and calling poor people lazy.

Posted by mill1991 at 12:52 PM

October 15, 2004

"Cute" birds

Yesterday a colleague pulled me away from my desk with great urgency, saying there was something that was so cute I just had to see it. This brings up the first problem. As a 23 year old, ostensibly straight man, I cannot imagine a single thing that I would describe as "cute" in the sense that she meant it. As she neared the window, I got a sinking feeling in my gut. Just what could be so cute? She pointed to a puddle, with a little bird flapping around stupidly. She said, "Look at how hard he's trying to get a bath." I said, "I think it's just retarded. If it had any sense at all, it would drown itself as soon as it realized that it was a bird."

Later on she showed this to another male, who was similarly not impressed. She said something about men not appreciating things of that nature like women do. I explained that I just have a personal vendetta about birds, as well as a healthy phobia. This started some contention, as she explained herself as a bird lover. Long story short, we have agreed never to be in one another's company again. I cannot even comprehend how someone could utter the sentence "I love birds." To me, that seems as irrational as liking getting punched in the face.

Posted by mill1991 at 11:10 AM

September 14, 2004

Random weekend stuff

Person: What do you like better, cats or dogs?
Me: Thats like asking me if I prefer spousal abuse or child abuse.

Person is waving this toy back and forth as the cat chases the end of it and tries to pounce.
Person: How can the cat be so amused by this? Why does it keep playing with it for so long? What is it thinking?
Answer: You've been playing with it the exact same length of time as the cat. What are you thinking?

As far as I'm concerned, the only thing cats are good for is killing birds.

Linz: If you could kiss your own ass, would you?
Guy 1: I bet I can kiss my own ass!
Linz: Thats not the question. If you could, would you?
Guy 2: Dude, I'll give you $5 if you can get within 6 inches.
(Guy 1 tries to kiss his own ass, by going through the crotch, past the genitals, and doesn't even get close)
To me, the funniest part about this exchange is how the original question is so intentionally silly, yet it turns into something serious.

Posted by mill1991 at 9:56 PM

August 26, 2004

Bird tricks

I'm moving in to my new place tomorrow and I'm very excited about it. As I mentioned before, we still haven't decided who gets the bigger room. What I didn't mention is that there is also a perk to the smaller room.

The smaller room has a small balcony coming off of it. It's tiny, maybe four feet by four feet, but it could be somewhat useful. I was thinking if I had this room it might be nice to put some plants out there, maybe a hanging flower pot, some small potted plants on the ground, and a smidgen of weed. This would give my balcony a touch of class, at the risk of giving evidence to those who already question my sexuality.

The only problem I can think of with this plan is those damned birds. My parents hang potted plants out on their front porch, and every year some mangy flying rodents settle in them. Instead of seeing this as a negative though, I could use it as an opportunity for scientific discovery and an outlet for my bird hating. Here is the plan: I'll set up some potted plants with bright bird-attracting colors. Then I wait for a bird to nest. Once it has nested, I wait for it to pop out some eggs. Next, I wait for the bird to fly off and get food, leaving its unprotected eggs. Okay, so far I know the plan mainly involves waiting, but its about to get interesting.

When the bird is gone, I will go outside to its nest, dump the eggs out (or take them inside and scramble them), and replace them with giant plastic easter eggs. You may think there is no way even a stupid bird could fall for this, but as I've mentioned previously, the cuckoo bird does something very similar to this already.

There are precautions I must take, however. When I am going outside to do the dirty deed, I will wear a tuxedo and a motorcycle helmet, in case the bird returns. There are two reasons for this. First, if the bird sees me stealing its eggs, it might get angry. I don't want the bird to be able to recognize me if it sees me sometime later, say in the grocery store or at the club. The tuxedo and helmet is sufficiently different from my usual outfit of pink hotpants and Gap Kids tank top so that the bird will consider the outfits as two distinct people. The second reason for the outfit is protection. Birds have sharp beaks, and they will peck you in the eyes with them on a whim, leaving you blind, especially if you are stealing their offspring. A motorcycle helmet protects me from birds attacking my eyes, and also makes me look cool for once. Why does it have to be a tuxedo? Well, I own one, and I don't really have any other opportunities to wear it.

Back to the plan. Once the plastic eggs are in the nest, the bird will try sitting on them. First it will be uncomfortable, because the fake eggs will be so much bigger than real ones. More importantly, plastic eggs will never hatch! I can't help but wonder, if the bird really was fooled, how long would it sit on eggs that are lifeless? Would the bird sit on them well past the expected birthdate, say well into winter? That would be astounding. If I get the small room, and I get this plan in motion, I will set up a webcam pointed at the nest so everybody can check it out. This is going to be amazing. The only thing that would be better is if I took the birds eggs inside, kept them warm, and then hatched them myself. I would raise them as children, then when they got old enough I would take them to my window and show the parent (still sitting on a plastic easter egg, mind you) what I've done with its offspring. Finally, they would be trained to seek out and kill other birds in my neighborhood. Okay, sorry, I guess that's getting a little crazy.

Posted by mill1991 at 4:18 PM

August 20, 2004

Bad news about birds

My friends, I have some bad news to report. I've been doing some fieldwork in my secondary area of study, ornithology, and the results are not pretty. It's like this - usually, when humans encroach on the habitat of a species, the species dies out or becomes rare and weak. With birds, the opposite is happening. They are becoming stronger and more numerous, until they eventually overtake us and their brains develop telepathic powers. Thus begins our downfall.

The problem is our lack of aggression. Birds are quite fearful of us, even though most birds go an entire lifetime without ever being attacked by humans. This morning, I saw about 50 birds on the grass in between the sidewalk and the road, pecking at something. I'm not sure what it was, but I have a guess. As I approached, they scattered of course. Some of them are quite young, and can only escape a little ways ahead of me. But of course I will reach them again soon, forcing them to fly away again. My point is that if those birds had been attacked by a real aggressor, they would have been dead, and the weak would have been weeded out as natural selection says. But since I didn't have any violent motives, I was basically just giving them a chance to exercise! Our passiveness towards birds is turning them into ultra-strong killing machines. It makes me sick to say this, but I'm pretty much the John Basedow of birds. Except I don't have disgustingly ripped abs.

I have done some computer modeling, and simulated how our current course of actions will result. This is a picture of what a typical sparrow looks like. This is what it's simulated to look like in 100 years. In short, it's not going to be pretty. I recommend not having children, as they will inevitably be eaten by giant telepathic sparrows in the year 2090.

Posted by mill1991 at 10:08 AM

July 20, 2004

Birds still suck

Apparently the wildfires out in California were caused by a bird. I'm not really surprised. Just wait until it comes out that birds were responsible for McCarthyism and also the Bolshevik Revolution.

In related news, one of the three readers of this blog sent in a personal experience that serves as a cautionary tale:

Yesterday I had a meeting before I cam into the office. When I got into the office my desk was covered with dirt and dust. The lady I share an office with told me how a bird had gotten into the ceiling tiles and then was flying around in the office before someone finally chased it out. I told her that if I would have been here that I would have screamed like a girl with that thing dive bombing me in the office. Needless to say I was happy I had a meeting before I cam in yesterday.
The lesson here is, don't come in to work early because that is when birds usually try to attack humans. Also, a fear of birds can induce so much fear that a person will repeatedly forget to type the 'e' at the end of the word "came." I hope I didn't just offend a third of my readership.

Update: The only good bird is a... (from the New York Times)

Posted by mill1991 at 11:36 AM

July 7, 2004

More 4th of July

I know many readers agree with me on my violently anti-bird stance. I've always thought this was a learned behavior, but now I have some evidence that it might be hereditary. Not that any genetic justification is necessary for disliking birds, but I digress. I was golfing with some relatives from my mom's side of the family, and I was getting really pissed at these birds that swoop all over the golf course, protecting their nest, about 2 inches off the ground. These things will come within a few inches of people, and sometimes you have to dodge them so that they don't fly into your leg and die. Not that I would mind the 'them dying' part, but their beaks are very sharp and they could put a hole in my pants, not to mention the bloody carcass smeared all over my khakis. I was literally thinking about the vitriol I could lob at them in this very space, when I looked over at my cousin and his dad. My cousin says, "You're not going to hit any, Dad." His dad is holding one of his clubs out the side of the cart as they're driving and swatting at these birds trying to hit them. And this was not just any uncle. This was my Godfather. Genetics has just taken its righteous place in the pantheon of bird-hating. I have never been so proud to be part of the Vogel family in my whole life.
Posted by mill1991 at 9:20 AM

June 18, 2004

Bird dies

In my_hatred_of_birds news, we have a vulture that died by diving into a van while stupidly trying to protect its nest. Further proof that birds are stupid and useless. I could start a whole website based on my dislike of birds. Some of you bird-likers and bird-lovers (if thats possible) might be thinking, "He only dislikes birds because he's afraid of them." Well, you're goddam right. I'm scared to death of birds. The bird in this article is so stupid it DIED by trying to attack a moving VAN. Think about what something that irrational could do to a human. Bikers in a race were also attacked, but luckily they were wearing helmets. If you're not afraid of birds, you're not paying attention. Incidentally, this happens near my parents house, which is close to a bunch of farms and general countryside. While running or biking on back roads, birds will follow you because you are near their nest. But, they will follow you for like a mile! How far away from a nest does one have to run before he or she is no longer a threat? Believe me, birds, if I was trying to get to your nest, I'd be eating omelets by now. Did you know that these same stupid birds, which will attack any moving object within a mile of their nest, cannot tell if another bird puts its eggs in the nest? The cuckoo does just that to other birds, and the other birds raise the baby cuckoo for it! Not only that, but when the cuckoo chick hatches, it pushes the other eggs out of the nest to have more resources to itself. Okay, so maybe the cuckoo bird is smart enough to justify not killing, but to hell with the rest of them.
Posted by mill1991 at 1:27 PM

May 7, 2004

Eating until I puke

So, my mom sent me a package with chex mix and cookies in it, and I saw that it was good, and it was pleasing to me. But once I tear the lid off those Chex mix, I don't stop until its gone. I'm like a puppy that doesn't know to stop eating when it is full and eventually pukes on your sweater. Speaking of puke, I saw a bird pecking at the sidewalk today and I was wondering why they always do that. How much food can there really be on the sidewalk? Well, this particular time, the birds were pecking at the food remnants of some dried puke on the sidewalk (there were 4 major puke areas). This is so disgusting, I just wanted to punch the crap out of these birds. Birds are so stupid. Stupid animal behavior like this is what makes me a vegetarian. I'd like to be able to tell people I'm vegetarian because I'm against killing animals, but really animals are just too gross to eat. Have you ever been inside a barn? I have. Its disgusting. There is shit everywhere. You want to eat the flesh of an animal that feeds on the remains of its fallen brethren, spends its entire life covered in feces, spends its childhood suckling at the shit-covered teat of its disgusting mother, and doesn't have the mental capacity to wipe its ass? Good luck with all that. I'm sticking with plants. It works out well because the "waste" that they produce is actually pretty good for breathing, which I've grown quite fond of.
Posted by mill1991 at 6:40 AM