In small packs of mammals there’s an alpha male who gets all the females by fighting off the other males, who have to go off and live by themselves and get stronger before the next rutting season. This is a pattern for instance among sea lions, and elephant seals, and horned beasts like elk.
But nature is funny. At the Tule Elk State Natural Reserve in Buttonwillow they have an interesting piece of taxidermy. It’s two elks that got in a fight, the alpha I guess and a challenger. The one elk’s horn went in the other elk’s eye, and killed him. Which would seem like a win, except with his horn caught on a dead elk, unable to get it off, the surviving elk ended up getting weighed down and dying himself.
The rangers swore that’s what happened, anyway.
There’s all this talk about alpha and beta in advice to young men, which overlooks that our society is quite a bit more complex, there are lots of ways to distinguish yourself and make yourself attractive, and our females are not as simpleminded and docile as cow-elks.
When it comes to alpha and beta, maybe sometimes what you want is to let them two kill each other and be the Gamma Guy left standing.
Gerald Ford’s puppies.
from Collection GRF-WHPO:
White House Photographic Office Collection (Ford Administration)
in our National Archives.
Samuel Sidney [The Book of the Horse, 1875, repr. ed. Bonanza Books, 1985] stated Skewball “…won a great number of plates and prizes in England, and one famous match in Ireland.” The Irish turf callendar says he won six races worth £508 in 1752, when he was eleven years old, and was the top earning runner of that year in Ireland. The match became the subject of a ballad, Skewball, which has endured, in varying forms, to the present day.
The match celebrated by the ballad is listed in Pond’s Racing Calendar of 1752. It was held at the Curragh in Kildare, Ireland, on Saturday, March 28, with each participant putting up 300 guineas. Arthur Marvin (also Marvyn, or Mervin) owned Skewball, who carried 8st. 7lb. His opponent was “Sir Ralph Gore’s grey mare,” carrying the heavier weight of 9 st. Skewball was a gelding, which explains why he was still running at age eleven; although it was not uncommon for horses to run to ages 9 or 10 during that period, successful stallions were usually retired from the turf to commence their stud careers. He won the 4 mile race in 7 minutes and 51 seconds.
Whatever just noting that it’s the 266nd anniversary of a run by a horse in a race that people are still singing about.
They don’t seem to run many four mile horse races anymore. Some history on these “real stayers.”
Sir Ralph Gore, owner of the grey mare, was born at Belle Isle castle.
During the Battle of Lauffeld on 2 July 1747 all his superior officers were killed or severely wounded, so command of the battalion fell to Gore, who performed so well, that on the following day he received the thanks of the British commander Prince William, Duke of Cumberland.
(Remembering now that I stopped there once to visit the Irish National Stud)
and one more from Leadbelly:
Check out the bowties on The Hollies:
Learned this the other day reading The Economist.
Are you ready?
Mate that’s nearly two roos per person!
The source of that photo is Tasmanian sheep farmer Charlie Mackinnon, who said of the dog:
She was an absolute legend, worked all day.
Funny story told in Jay McInerney Paris Review interview:
I felt like I had really arrived because—well, it was The New Yorker. But it was the fact-checking department. I wanted to be in the fiction pages, but still. It actually paid pretty well, and I was seeing great writers like John McPhee and John Updike coming to visit William Shawn. J. D. Salinger was still calling on the phone. There was a terrific buzz about the place. But it was also a little depressing. There were all these unwritten rules. Like, for instance, if you were a fact-checker, you didn’t speak to an editor or writer in the hall—it just wasn’t done. Also, it turned out I wasn’t very good at it. And ten months after I got there, I was fired, and left ingloriously with my tail between my legs.
How bad were you?
My biggest mistake was to have lied on my résumé and said that I was fluent in French, which I wasn’t. So when the time came to check a Jane Kramer piece on the French elections, it was assigned to me, and I had to call France and talk to a lot of people who didn’t speak English. That was really my downfall. And of course I couldn’t admit to anyone that I had this problem. Jane Kramer discovered factual errors just before publication. Nothing earth shattering, but you would think that I had . . .
reprinting this 2013 classic because can’t find my copy of this book, wondering if I loaned it to one of you.
Nice work boys.
Wilson got his start doing a survey of all the ants in Alabama.
There’s the question of, why did I pick ants, you know? Why not butterflies or whatever? And the answer is that they’re so abundant, they’re easy to find, and they’re easy to study, and they’re so interesting. They have social habits that differ from one kind of ant to the next. You know, each kind of ant has almost the equivalent of a different human culture. So each species is a wonderful object to study in itself. In fact, I honestly can’t…cannot understand why most people don’t study ants.
Somewhere else I think I heard Wilson say something like “once you start to study ants it’s hard to be interested in anything else.”
Look at the wild coolness on Bert Hölldobler:
Important to remember some things such as nature documentaries are better than ever!