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Jun 17 2010

Spinster aunt beats dead horse

Stinkhorn
This lone stinkhorn mushroom is the only entity anywhere in Cottonmouth County that doesn’t have a katydid stuck to it.

Unsurprisingly, my award-nominated (I personally nominate all my work for awards, to compensate for the fact that, incomprehensibly, I am so often overlooked by committees) vid lampooning the anti-science lifestyle choice, has generated some jaundice.

It occurs to some of us here at Spinster HQ that the only way to avoid hurting anybody’s feelings ever is to shut down the entire obstreperal lobe and become a pillow.

Not that empillowment is without its own controversies, because what do you stuff the pillow with? Not feathers, surely, or wool, or silk, but aren’t synthetics their own special sort of politically incorrect scourge? Which leaves grass clippings, but what with all the katydid poop and raccoon dander lying around, questions of hygiene are raised.

Anyway, you’re all good sports, especially those of you who joked that I drive away my loyal “followers” with elitism. Unless — hey, wait, what? Were you serious? Because that hurts my feelings.

Mang, this science vs intuition “debate” has gotten completely ridic. Awesome! I will speak of nothing else for the foreseeable future!

I think we can all agree that when you define science as a method for acquiring knowledge, and intuition as the spark of intelligence that ignites inquiry (although maybe a better word would be genius), we’re all pretty much on the same page.

Is there a magical form of feminine insta-knowledge what spontaneously erupts on unicorn rays in the unseen 5th dimension of the human metaspirit? Why not? Just show me the data and we’ll be cool.

See? We’re getting along great now.

But oy, elitism. It’s always the way when knowledge becomes specialized. Subcultures bubble out of the general magma, standards and practices become codified, skills get required, expertise becomes venerated, a canon is established, as well as a hierarchy, practitioners become eccentric egomaniacs, gatekeepers show up to protect them from the rabble, and the subculture becomes more and more detached from the teeming throng from which it spranged even as its influence spreads like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter on a frozen toaster waffle. And then someone from the throng says, “Hey, bite me you elitist asswipes, we don’t need you, we’re going back to the way we were before your delusions turned you into a megalomaniac, because those were the good old days.” And then some spinster aunt says, “Hey, yerself! As the world’s leading expert on expertise, I think you’re throwing the baby out with the other babies!”

What am I saying? Just this:

You don’t have to be Martina Navratilova to play a game of tennis.

And I should know, because I’m not Martina Navratilova.

There are other things you don’t have to be in order to do things. You don’t have to be a professional 70′s pop star-cum-tragic figure to crank up “Close To You” and go “wah-ah-ah-ah-ah, close to yew!” after the tacet interlude. You don’t have to have ironed Jean-Paul Sartre’s shirts to nod in vigorous agreement when you read in The Second Sex that all oppression creates a state of war. You don’t have to be the Weatherman to blow up the Pentagon. And you don’t have to be a tenured science knob to appreciate the process of scientific inquiry.

As VinaigretteGirl points out, you can (and should) do experiments in your closet for fun. I’m doing one right now where I’m testing the structural integrity of a typical household wicker laundry basket, primarily by never unloading it into the washing machine. What a gas! More complicated endeavors, like collecting soil samples from Pluto’s surface to analyze for Crystalline Entity droppings, can be admired from afar as a spectator sport.

The purpose of scientifical pursuit, in the pure form most admired by middle-aged spinster aunts, has less to do with being published in Nature, or using jargon on dude science blogs to shut up the people who didn’t go to college, or advancing the megatheocorporatocratic agenda, than it does with simply enbiggening human enlightenment. The enbiggenment of human enlightenment is always conducted on the individual level. Whenever a glob of comprehension supplants a glob of incomprehension in a human brain, the Dark Side (or the Tyranny of Ignorance, if you like, or the Black Thing) gets bent. Whenever that happens, the whole species is collectively that much better off. Consult any 6-year-old for further information; globs of knowledge supplant globs of ignorance in their brains on an hourly basis, and they really seem to dig it.

Anyway, am I saying “Yay Big Pharma! Keep inventing cancer drugs and charging $40,000 a year for’em!”? No. Am I saying, “Yay, the Women’s Oppression League has just endowed a foundation for the advancement of evolutionary psychology!”? No. Am I saying “When a thing does a thing and you don’t know why, would it kill you to find out?” Yes. And it doesn’t even matter if somebody has already answered the question you’re asking. Check out this inspirational personal anecdote:

The other day I realized that I’m 50 years old already and I still don’t know how katydids make that deafening racket like unto 876,932 small pulsating dentist drills that keeps me awake all night. So I hoisted my ass up out of the lime green recliner and nabbed a specimen for the lab.

Minuscule katydid

It wasn’t hard. All I had to do was stick my hand out the window, since there is no square inch of El Rancho Deluxe that is not populated by a katydid. Every tree, shrub, cactus, rock, tractor, and blade of grass is literally crawling with katydids. The bunkhouse itself appears to have been dipped in a vat of katydids. A lady from another planet, upon observing the tableau, would conclude that a large, fleshy pink entity is being held captive in a limestone nest by a race of screaming green rattly leaves.

But I digress.

Back in the lab, I inspected my katydid with a magnifying glass and poked it with the eraser of my Ticonderoga #2 pencil, whereupon I was able to determine that my specimen had no intention of making any noise of any kind whatsoever. Several katydids later, I finally figured out how they make the racket. It was pretty satisfying. Now I’m telling everyone I know about the katydids. Nobody cares, unfortunately.

_______________________
Katydid nymph photo [above] taken May 2009. Adult katydids (the ones around here, at least) look like leaves:

Katydid

52 comments

  1. Jodie

    I care — katydids are cool! (but then, I like most insects)

  2. EmilyBites

    “A lady from another planet, upon observing the tableau, would conclude that a large, fleshy pink entity is being held captive in a limestone nest by a race of screaming green rattly leaves.”

    this made me laugh a lot.

  3. marsha calhoun

    I also care, and wish you would tell your readers so I don’t have to try to look it up online instead of doing the work I should be doing. I can’t conduct my own research because we don’t have katydids around here. If we did, I would. Thank you.

  4. Belle

    I’m impressed that you got that close to the blasted mushroom; those things are ripe! I am also impressed that the katydids know enough to leave ‘em alone!

  5. Larkspur

    I cannot believe you would stoop to employing such cruel anti-animal imagery as the pummeling of a deceased equine. I want a divorce.

    In other news, I was in town this morning on an errand. Beautiful summer day, hot sun, cool breeze, birds, bees, no katydids. I came across a group of 7 or 8 year-old girls. One of them was bent over a container with an open lid, and dirt inside. Being scientific, I asked, “Watcha doin? What’s in there?”

    “Worms,” said the girl holding the container.

    “Cool,” I said. “Are you going to put them in your garden? Or maybe you’re going fishing.”

    She smiled and told me they already had plenty of worms in their garden. “It’s an experiment,” she said. “We wanna see how much they can compost in one day.”

    Girls is awesome.

  6. kristinc

    The current scientific experiment (an engineering exercise, as it happens) going on at my place is the construction of a plant stand. The stand I just completed is my control specimen, and the next one I build will be fastened with nails and glue instead of the screws called for in the plans.

    All this is my 101 course for the really big experiment in about a month, which is to test the hypothesis that I can design a simple sideboard for the cats to sleep on in the living room.

    Are the feminist brownie points I get for running a big noisy power saw and buildin’ shit canceled out by my Patriarchal Sciencin’? I need to know for my ledger.

  7. Cthandhs

    Beat that horse! I saw a twitch.

    The idea of “Women’s intuition” is a tool of the oppressor. It’s like some kind of lame consolation prize for not having a brain. Women who say things like “Doctors don’t know anything – I can sense little Johny’s hynoplasticretia disorder” have been mind-washed by the Patriarchy, and feed the belief that women don’t (or can’t) think rationally. Intuition is a great place from which to start an investigation, but it’s a lousy place to finish one.

  8. shopstewardess

    Another site which combines aesthetic pleasure with scientific endeavour, although naturally inferior to the savage death island, is http://www.galaxyzoo.org.

    I too have a stinkhorn in my garden, but it is sadly pale in comparison to the one in the picture above. Jill, whatever did you do to get yours flushed that pretty pink?

  9. Notorious Ph.D.

    I’m alarmed, because the last time that you posted a vaguely phallic mushroom, you disappeared for months. I worry.

  10. Comrade Svilova

    Re-installing software today I found that the original installs had all used the same serial number, hence making the software unusable for all but the one fortunate person on the network who opened the program first in the morning. My initial hypothesis was that the software had just been poorly installed, but then I found that we had a whole mass of serial numbers jumbled up with no indication of which was the original program, which the upgrade, and which upgrade went with which original install. Trial and error (judging from what happened what did and didn’t work) and hours later, I finally matched each serial number to the correct machine, and the programs can run simultaneously.

    That’s my bit of scientific method for the day.

  11. yttik

    This discussion has been about so much more then simply science versus intuition. Instead it goes right to the core of some basic feminist ideals that have never been resolved or else the patriarchy would have ceased to exist by now.

    I don’t have hurt feelings and I certainly don’t try to cause them in others. All I have is this nasty burden of understanding why patriarchy continues unabated.

    I do understand the appeal of katydids and science as a way to delight in the universe.

  12. janicen

    Throughout this Science vs. Intuition discussion, I have been under the impression that we have been all been agreeing more than we have been disagreeing. I think everyone agrees that Science is great because it cools our homes and moves our cars and powers our laptops. At the same time, don’t get all pedantic and ask me for my scientific methodology to prove that my Corgi is the smartest, non-human creature on the planet, because I don’t have a methodology, I just know it, so shut up Poindexter. I think that’s what we’ve been saying, is it not? Or am I being too “middle child” here?

  13. ma'am

    I *heart* these science v intuition discussions!

    Cthandhs, yes! As Jodie (I think) said in the earlier discussion, “intuition” does come from a logical train of thought, and if you think back through it, you will find the underlying logic and/or learned behavior/response, and may even be able to express it through verbal communication. Women have been discouraged from believing they can think scientifically and have therefore been marginalized to believing they think intuitively. This is one point I don’t think folks have mentioned here — women have been excluded from science and I’ll be damned if I will support our continued exclusion. Women more than anyone need to learn scientific thought processes.

    Women are keen observers of everything, because, of course, we have to be. Perhaps nails said it best, that it is that that sensory perception and conversion of information seems to lead to intuition — is really a rapid, logical sequence of learned behavioral responses and a high degree of subconscious sensory perception.

  14. Alex

    The other half of sciencey fun is telling us what you found out about the katydids. Don’t make me Google this for myself! This blamer is lazy.

  15. tinfoil hattie

    I dunno. Today I received an e-mail asking me to say a super-special prayer in which I apologize to all the sea-life in the Gulf of Mexico, and then tell them I love them.

    The e-mail opined that if we ALL pray that prayer EVERY DAY, a prayer written by “that Japanese scientist who did all that work with water, showing that it responds to emotion,” the Gulf will miraculously restore itself.

    Now how on earth could anyone object to science like that?

    (I keed, I keed!)

  16. Comrade PhysioProf

    Not that empillowment is without its own controversies, because what do you stuff the pillow with?

    Buckwheat. Most comfortable sleeping pillows known to humanity. This is not a fucking joke.

  17. Pinko Punko

    It is likely that Jill has been pre-criticised for various forms of elitism here.

    Cue PETK five four three

  18. ew_nc

    “The enbiggenment of human enlightenment”

    There’s a bumper sticker in there somewhere.

  19. Saphire

    It’s not about science vs intuition if you ask me, this goes deeper. You’re also using the ‘PC gone mad’ line. ‘… aren’t synthetics their own special sort of politically incorrect scourge?’ Who else would you hear a line like this off? This whole thing sounds like a dude ranting about his right to privilege. The tone, the attitude, the shouting- down.

    Don’t forget, this isn’t about attacks at you, Jill. You were attacking anti-science commenters with a ‘funny’ vortex video (implying we’re loopy? Oh ha ha). Who else always thinks they’re being attacked, when they’re the attackers? Dudes. Who else thinks we should get a sense of humour? The parallels are endless.

    Let’s face it, we know when privileged people get most angry, a topic becomes very heated. No one knows what they’re arguing about except those with privilege have had their toes stepped on. Given the outrage at the ‘science isn’t everything’ posters, i’d say toes were stepped on, nasty jokes and taunts ensued. Privilege was evident. Then we got shouted at. So we anti-science people are definitely not in the wrong.

    I’m not debating anything because it’s not clear what we’re debating for a start. But to get everything this heated, similar to a topic of the patriarchy, maybe anti-science posters have a point. Everything about this debate sounds like dudes defending their privilege. You’re using all of their arguments.

    I mean you’re shouting about your *right* to make fun of anti-science posters and to hold science up as unquestionable. Something should register. Shouting us down doesn’t prove your point.

  20. MPMR

    kristinc: Don’t feel bad, I’m going to have to run my sliding compound miter saw and soldering gun, one in each hand, for the next *month* to balance out my patriarchal debt for defending science as hierarchically better than the unicorn rays of metaspirit.

  21. MPMR

    Also, I womanly intuit that the katydids have tiny little vuvuzelas that they blow in response to invisible katydid soccer matches.

    There, I just saved you all a fortune on microscopes.

  22. Alexa

    No one is defending Women’s Intuition, so you can stop with the snarky jokes. They’re arguing agaist Science Supreme. Time to establish a middle ground without rekindling the damn debate? I think so.

    Some of these comments are disrespectful and unpleasant. Hate to say this but yttik et al, don’t feed the fire waiting to take you up in flames. Don’t contribute to the discussion unless it’s about the patriarchy. Then they’ll give it up.

  23. Helen Huntingdon

    I know I’ve been starting at code too long when I start to scramble what I read — somehow I came up with ‘hierarchical rays of unicorn spit’.

    And I have the urge to chalk ‘Subcultures bubble out of the general magma’ all over the university walls.

  24. tinfoil hattie

    Helen Huntingdon: Time for some matcha, if you ask me!

  25. Helen Huntingdon

    Do unicorns spit matcha? I thought they spit rainbows. Or maybe it was heathrows. Yes, that’s it — their mating call is “bring me a shrubbery”!

  26. elm

    Alexa:

    The last I looked this was Jill’s blog. If she wants to support science above woo, that’s her prerogative. If you don’t like it ’cause it’s not all blaming all the time, then start your own blog.

  27. seasonticket

    I get a bit scared when my female friends tell me that science is “patriarchal”. I guess they mean that the system is patriarchal and I agree with that. The whole academic system is sewn up.

    But sometimes they mean all the scientific knowledge that they do not agree with is “patriarchal”. Like, if women had been permitted to do science in the old days, we would have *different* laws of physics.

    I had no idea there was a creature called a katydid. That’s really cool.

  28. Toxidant

    Actually, my pillow is stuff with buckwheat. I can’t imagine sleeping on anything else.

  29. nails

    I am sick of science vs intuition and the deep questions that it brings forth. I had my fill of that shit on skeptic blogs, long ago. Then I got my fill of anti-feminist shit from many of the dudebros at skeptic sites, and I ended up here. I am glad for blogs like Zuska’s and Jill’s, for having a space for women like me. There are a million places for the feminist woos to frolick. There are very few sciency feminist places to visit.

    So basically, I’m with elm.

  30. Lady K

    No objection to this discourse as long as everyone refrains from insisting that woo woo is essential to, even the very backbone of, feminism.

  31. Summerspeaker

    I love the katydid photos. Especially the middle one, it would look a home in an art gallery.

  32. tinfoil hattie

    Lady K, who piled up that particular heap of straw?

  33. Tehomet

    I have never had any interest in visiting Texas, having heretofore thought that it was a patch of scorched earth under a sizzling sun, inhabited by Dubya Bush and his kin and ilk. Now, with all this heartwarming nature crap and photos of its varied and frankly fascinating denizens, such as insects that look like leaves and huge beasts with more teeth than a zipper that attack one’s garbage, I’m kinda intrigued, and if I ever am over on Turtle Island again, I may have to visit it. Once factor 3000 sunscreen has been invented, of course.

    The video made me cackle. Regarding the science vs. intuition debate, my two cents are that there’s nothing wrong with science as a method, obviously. I’m not too crazy about the patriarchy’s use of science and Big Pharma to disparage things that can’t be proved by or that isn’t valued in the scientific method, though. And there’s nothing wrong with having intuition, either. Although I’m not too crazy about the use of intuition untempered by intelligence, or any use of faith that dismisses reason.

    I think the patriarchy condemns intuition, or what I would term the intersection of intelligence, observation, and instinct, because patriarchy is infamous for labelling anything it can’t automatically control, or that it wrongly assigns exclusively to the so-called “lesser” beings (i.e. women, people who aren’t from Europe, etc). And then I think women might value things that are (the patriarchy says) exclusively theirs (although I’m sure men have intuition too), and that can’t be ranked higher than the tools more commonly used by the patriarchy, partly because they aren’t subject to the control of the patriarchy, but mainly simply because for a long time, they were all we had.

    One of the major markers of the p. in my humble opinion is dualism. I say, to hell with dualism, and all the hierarchial thinking that the patriarchy, the major hierarchy itself, tries to inflict on us. One can be a scientist and still have intuition. One can be a spiritual or intuitive person and still use the scientific method. One can value only the scientific method or only intuition without denigrating people who use other methods or have different beliefs. There’s no split here. Unless the patriarchy makes us make one.

  34. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    My pillow is filled with rice husks. Consequently, it makes katydid-like noises when my noggin shifts around on it.

  35. Jill

    I have never had any interest in visiting Texas, having heretofore thought that it was a patch of scorched earth under a sizzling sun, inhabited by Dubya Bush and his kin and ilk.

    This is propaganda we put out to keep the state, which is in fact a paradise, from being overrun by furriners. All Texans are ridiculously sentimental about Texas.

    Dubya’s kin do not inhabit Texas. He and his family are from the Northeast. Dubya himself was born in New Haven, Connecticut. Why doesn’t anybody ever blame Connecticut for the Bushes? They’re really not Texas’ fault.

    It does get kind of sunny here, though. Wear a hat.

  36. Mooska

    Well said, Twisteeeaaahhh.

    Also, I like the combination of crapness and efficiency in your own experimental forays. I hereby resolve to do something in a similar spirit of scientific enquiry this week, even if it’s just seeing how much fungus I can grow in my fridge.

  37. Barbara P

    If “science” means “the scientific method” or “pursuit of knowledge by aquiring evidence” or “individuals messing around & discovering things”, who really has a problem with that? (Unless the messing around part has unintended consequences, like poking at a fire-ant hill and getting badly bitten *)

    “Science” meaning “current state of accumulated knowledge” is actually a different thing, though, especially when it comes to its application. Some may say “well, if you have a problem with what we scientific-types think is currently true, then make your own damn study and prove us wrong. That’s what science is about.” Which is all well and good unless you need to act NOW, and you don’t have time/energy/resources/etc. to do your own damn study.

    So, when faced with feeding my baby, should I give her the organic strained peas (that I intuitively think are better), or should I trust the science which says that
    pesticides are OK for human consuption? I suppose I could go through step by step why my intuition led me to this point, but the baby’s crying in my ear!**

    Speaking of baby food, in the past, formula-feeding was “scientifically” considered the better option. Now, “scientifically”, breast-feeding is the better option. What will “science” say next generation? Beats me. Again, baby crying.

    Another example: When “science” tells me that I don’t need a mammogram before age 50, and I decide to go along with that, it won’t help me much if/when “science” decides 20 years from now that it was wrong.

    Yet another example: “Science” said that drilling in the gulf was relatively safe. While patriarchy played an important role in that conclusion, I really don’t think that it was the only factor. There’s a hubris element to science (as a cultural phenomenon) which says “we KNOW and therefore we can ACT”. It may be true that current knowledge is based on the best method that we have to aquire it, but that doesn’t mean the knowledge is RIGHT. We are still human and very, very small.

    Finally, while science can lead to many truths, there is more to Truth ™ than what science can discover. After all, from where comes the “truth” that oppression is a bad thing, or that enlightenment is a good thing? You can’t discover this kind of truth through any method; there are things we “just know”, and must act upon.

    * Even worse, a spinster-aunt hill
    ** Not really, this is just a metaphor

  38. octopod

    Well, sheeeeeit, ma’am! Aren’t you going to tell us how they make the noise?

  39. octopod

    Also, “You don’t have to be Martina Navratilova to play a game of tennis. And I should know, because I’m not Martina Navratilova.” is Super #1 Science for real.

  40. Comrade PhysioProf

    “Science” said that drilling in the gulf was relatively safe.

    My understanding is that geologists and engineers have always concluded that relief wells should be predrilled in deepwater, so that if there is a blowout, they can plug the fucker toot sweet. This is why Norway and the UK and other deepwater drilling jurisdictions have consistently required pre-drilled relief wells. It is a matter of corporate regulatory capture that this is not the case in the US, and has nothing to do with science or engineering.

  41. Barbara P

    Point well taken about the scientists and engineers advocating pre-drilling, though I imagine there are at least a few scientists who think (thought?) it’s unnecessary. How does one determine who’s correct?

    Plus, there is no clear guarantee that pre-drilling makes it completely safe either. I would be disinclined to simply accept that “scientists have figured it out and I should trust them because if I don’t it shows my ignorance and indifference to human progress”. And when a scientist claims something stupid, well, that’s not a “real” scientist.

    My life experience has given me the distinct impression that humans make a lot of mistakes and can be very biased, foolish creatures (certainly among the anti-science crowd, but among the pro-science crowd too). It’s a common-sense, intuitive conclusion. Maybe there are studies to back it up?

  42. Comrade PhysioProf

    My life experience has given me the distinct impression that humans make a lot of mistakes and can be very biased, foolish creatures (certainly among the anti-science crowd, but among the pro-science crowd too).

    Mine, too. I view science as a mechanism for trying to limit the influence of our own flawed humanity on the conclusions we draw about the nature of reality.

  43. wiggles

    Comrade PhysioProf and Toxidant

    And when you run your buckwheat pillows through the laundry, do you end up with pillowcases full of porridge?

    Mine’s stuffed with synthetic something or other.

  44. Comrade PhysioProf

    Make sure you put in some fucking varnishkes just before the rinse cycle.

  45. Morag

    “Am I saying “When a thing does a thing and you don’t know why, would it kill you to find out?” Yes.”

    From my 4 year experience as a biology major the question seemed to be “When a thing (living being) does a thing (biological process) and you don’t know how, will you kill it to find out?” And the answer in most cases, sadly, was “Yes.”

    And that’s why the traditional scientific method is patriarchal and oppressive.

  46. tinfoil hattie

    I was all set to move to Texas, but then today I FINALLY FOUND the spray-can waffle batter over which this very blog author has waxed rhapsodic in the past. So I’m staying in Virginia and eating it all up.

  47. Mau de Katt

    Katydids are neato-nifty. We have a variety up here called either an angular-winged katydid or a false katydid (I think they are the same kind, based on pictures I pulled up). They are a katydid, but are called “false katydids” because they make a rapidly-escalating tic-tic-tic sound instead of the eponymous “katy-did” call. They come out in late August, and are everywhere through most of September. They aren’t as loud as the cicadas I remember from my childhood, but they can get pretty noisy at night all the same. However, they stay in the treetops, only rarely venturing out onto the occasional apartment wall or car window; no danger of being held hostage by hordes of the things, here.

    Aha — here comes the “scientific experiment” part of the comment: these bugs are suicidal. Actively suicidal. I have caught a few on occasion, just by random chance, and have kept them for a bit because they are so big and freaky. (I am massively bug-phobic, and so have a bizzare compulsion to keep large bugs in containers. I don’t understand it either….) Also, the clicking sound really excited my cats.

    Anyway, I had no intention of harming the wee beasties; I merely was keeping them for observation for a few days. I’d stick celery stalks in there for them, which they seemed to love. Then I’d let them go.

    But the third one I caught, I put into a much larger container with the intention of keeping it for a longer period of time. So, I put in a small dish of water (hamster-sized dish, very easy for it to climb out of if it fell in) in addition to the ubiquitous celery. Alas, next morning I beheld the sad sight of a soggy insect sticking out of the dish.

    So, for the next one I caught, I put the stalk of celery into the water dish. That way there was no way the bug could get stuck in the water dish — right? Nope. Next morning, there was the katydid, headfirst in the water dish, drowned. Right next to the nibbled-upon celery stalk. (Indeed, there was barely room for both insect and celery in the dish.)

    So, final time (I don’t know why I was so obsessed with keeping one of the dang things as a pet, but I was…), I covered the water dish with plastic wrap, and stuck the celery in through a hole in the wrap. (This way the celery wouldn’t wilt overnight, and the bug would still get plenty of fluids through the plant stalk.) What did I see next morning? The dang thing had stuck its head into the water through the hole in the plastic wrap. It had actually and actively forced the hole larger in order to do this. In other words, this was no accident, this was deliberate intent. And mind you, only the bug’s head was in the water; the rest of it was hanging onto the celery and the plastic wrap.

    Even though I was massively baffled and keenly interested in the phenomenon of Large Insect Suicidal Despondency, I didn’t want to deliberately inflict depression and fatal emo-hood upon any more of them, so I gave up on the idea of keeping a pet katydid. Now I just keep them for only a day or two, to “bug” my cat (heh), and then let them go again.

    But if I catch one this summer, I may feed it to my tarantula instead.

  48. Mau de Katt

    By the way, did you know katydids come in pink? And a flourescent hot pink at that???

    Even though pink is a repressive tool of the patriarchy, I find the thought of hot pink katydids to be absolutely, mind-blowingly awesome.

  49. Ruby Lou

    OK, here it is: the noise-making katydids have patches of taut skin on their sides. They have muscles that pop the tight skin over and over again real fast. So basically these things are drumming their own torso. It’s personal percussion you’re hearing. And ain’t it amazin how LOUD those lil thangs are. Props to Twisty for her clever made-you-look on katydid personal percussion.

  50. CrowMeris

    Empillowment can be achieved with the silky contents of the pods of the common milkweed plant; as soft, fluffy, and punch-able as goose down without the sad (read “terminal”) side-effects of obtaining said down from said goose.

  51. Jezebella

    Bah. Pink is not a repressive tool of the patriarchy. It is a *color*. And you know what? It’s kind of a nice color, all on its own, without the stupid patriarchal scripts attached to it. Don’t harsh on the pink, mang. Blame the patriarchy instead.

  52. arfeuse

    Love love love this post. “Subcultures bubbling up from the magma” – I’m thinking of tattoing this on the next academic I meet who is a total tool (of the P). Fabulo. And so now I also know just wtf a katydid is. Awesome. Further – “don’t harsh on the pink” – seconded. It’s not pink’s fault it’s been used by the P. Everything has been and is, all the time. Including science AND intuition. Pink used to be for boys anyway – in Georgian times. It was thought to represent the manly virtues, being the colour of vim, vigour and the life-force generally. [When I can remember the source for this wholly outrageous assertion that colours are culturally loaded with meaning, you'll all be the firsts to know]. Blame!

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