Random Thoughts from Satan, #5

I <3 Scotland. ^u^
 
Wow, how about that Brexit, huh? I don’t know much of the world except for stereotypes gleaned from tourists I’ve met, public personalities of actors, and bits of news, but I kinda like the impression that’s given me of Scotland. Young people dressed like sluts punching each other in the streets, but still with better political heads than the overwhelming majority of Britain. Look at the Grindr poll on the Brexit. They supported Remain.

They’ve given the world so much, including the cutest and sexiest white person ever, Alan Cumming. I hope next time they vote for independence (sounds imminent), things go their way. Also it would be hilarious for Northern Ireland and Scotland to bail, re-join the EU, and have Britain’s racist asses surrounded. Motherfucking excelsior.

The Romantic Tragedy of the Brood Parasite

I’m about to do a lot of talking out my ass on subjects I’m not certified to comment on, but what I’m about to say feels true to me, so … good enough for now.  Just don’t cite me in your term paper.

Today I saw a juvenile brown-headed cowbird being fed by a dark-eyed junco, the first time I have ever witnessed an act of brood parasitism.  I crossed the street to get a better look.  The most famous brood parasite is the cuckoo, whose creepy behavior has been folded into a number of human languages to represent male sexual paranoia derived from the attitude that women and children are more important as property than as people.  This includes the word “cuck,” beloved of internet racists and misogynists, though their memetic use of the word has outstripped any sense of meaning.

I’m not here to talk about that.  I’m talking about birds that destroy the eggs of other birds, leaving their own offspring to be raised by parents of a different species.  Birds that engage in brood parasitism are typically larger than the species they use, meaning that raising the changeling bird is more demanding and potentially dangerous than raising a member of the bird’s own species.  The brown-headed cowbird I saw was larger than its deceitfully adopted parent, a junco that seemed small and skinny as it went about its work.

How is a bird fooled into raising a child that doesn’t even look right?  Depriving itself to feed a monster twice its mass?  It’s like a sheep raising a calf.  A lot of birds just aren’t very smart, have to rely on pure instinct to drive them, and other birds can exploit that.  Even the brood parasites themselves aren’t necessarily clever.  They just happened into that niche a million years ago and it worked, to the point brown-headed cowbirds wouldn’t know how to raise a baby if they were in a position to do so.

Instinct is a weird beast.  People like to say humans have instincts that drive us and take the concept too far.  Yes, we have instincts, but they aren’t necessarily the ones people talk about, certainly the average evopsych tool.  The main instinct I see in people around me is social sorting.  We try to understand and control our relationships with the people around us reductively, drawing in and out groups, choosing arbitrary or socially promulgated ways of discriminating against others.  It can be turned back on ourselves.  When abused as small children or changed by life circumstance to a kind of person we have previously learned to hate, we sometimes socially sort ourselves as “unlovable” and hide away.

Instincts for non-human animals are much more obvious, and without as much ability to teach each other how to act socially, their instincts often have to be wildly specific.  Take cats’ burial of feces.  You do not have to train a cat to use a litter box.  Some cats may have dysfunction that needs to be sorted out, but most kittens will quickly figure out how to use a litter box.  Why?

Here is the instinct, in the cat’s mind:  “I have to relieve myself.  Ugh.  It feels right to do this on a surface that gives beneath my paws.  Ah, this dirt is just right.  Now I can go.  Holy crap!  This smell is terrible!  For some reason, I feel a tinge of mortal fear.  I want to wave my paw next to it.  Oh, that’s moving dirt.  Will scratching the dirt make the smell go away?  If yes, sigh of relief, carry on.  If no, RUN AWAY!”  Some people don’t know about the last part.  It’s hilarious to watch your cats tear ass across the house to get away from their mess, when burying isn’t enough.

Humans have almost nothing like this weird chain of highly specific inborn feelings, because we gained the trait of culture.  We can teach each other to wash our food, to bury our feces, and so on.  Practically anything necessary can be taught instead of relying on instinct alone.  Unfortunately for birds, they aren’t as bright as us.  They have to rely on feelings.

The instinct, in the bird’s mind:  “I got laid.  Woo!  Now I’ve got some other weird feelings setting in.  Better make a nest.  Unggh!  Eggs.  Better sit on these.”  The brood parasite slips in here, knocking eggs out of the nest and laying its own.  The victim of this sheisty move returns to find its eggs different.  (Some birds actually recognize the switch through various means and knock the cuckoo eggs off, try to start over.)  Apparently a lot of birds, even if they recognize the change, don’t know what to do with that, and just carry on.  “Sit on weird eggs.  Baby hatch.  Feed that thing!”

This is the tragic romance.  The finagled parent is operating on the closest thing a bird has to love.  It is selflessly giving up its food, seeking more and more, doing its best to keep this baby alive and well.  A brood parasite baby is even more demanding than its natural child would have been, potentially making the parent wreck itself with hunger and exertion in the process.  But the parent is driven to harm itself like that, for the love of this strange monster.  It’s beautiful and sad, it’s no kind of way to be.  If your human relationships involve giving until you are broken, reevaluate them.  A tragic romance is something to behold, not something to live.

Well, that went around the world, and I have no snappy way to end it.  Have a song.

*the video I’d originally embedded disappeared
    and this was the least worst replacement

Getting to Know Yooou

Getting to know a new computer program, when you’re not a magical tech baby, is no fun. I’ve been meaning to get into learning Blender (a 3d art program) since late last year, let a bunch of life stuff give me permission to put it off, and now I’m finally getting back to it. Getting used to the interface – for me – is like walking through a waterfall made of karo syrup.

Hey, I didn’t own a computer until I was, like, 27. In college I learned 3d Studio Max and some bare minimum of Maya, but haven’t had to use either of those in ten years. Plus I don’t have much of an attention span for tutorials. Though if you’re like me, I’ve found it helpful to turn on some music with the volume low enough to make out the tutorial presenter’s voice. Education!

Now. The title of the post refers to a song from The King and I, which is about a lady who meets the king of Siam, so here’s a Cramps song that mentions the King of Siam, plus general sleaziness. Sleaze on!

Random Thoughts from Satan, #4

The other week I took my cat to the vet. The vet is in the same parking lot as the local Planned Parenthood. In that building there was an alarm going off, some kind of smoke, people standing outside. I wasn’t able to find out what was going on, but it’s a safe guess. Jesus terrorists can fuck off.

Yesterday I took my cat back, but this time had to take a cab. At the vet some people had a large cage which took two to carry. Inside were a dozen pit bull puppies. They didn’t look like bodies for the fight ring – they were clean and no doubt there to get vaccinations and such. But there is not enough dog love in this country to take care of the dogs we have, and the thought of a dozen more pit bulls just bummed my shit out.

On the way back in the taxi, the dude driving switched from his culture’s music to some American pop station. It was playing a Meghan Trainor song. I might not have recognized the Eastern music influence if not for the juxtaposition there in the cab. Still, it was definitely there. Some vocal flourishes and other elements intentionally evoking Bollywood styles. Then the song reached a place in the chorus where she said something about being “untouchable” and dwelled on it for too many seconds.

Now is it just me, or is that hella tacky and fucked up? Taking a serious cultural issue from another country and reducing it to a hook in your song about being independent women or whatever. He wasn’t bothered, but then, he might not understand the lyrics at all. Anyway. Things are things.