— Voting With My Feet

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Nature is terrifying.

So here’s an embarrassing thing I’ve never admitted publicly before: I once had a relationship with a dolphin. Now, in full disclosure, it was in a dream, but it’s still troubling none-the-less and certainly not something I’m proud of. What’s more: I definitely had this dream more than once. You’d be surprised that these sorts of beastiality dreams are in fact more common than you’d think. A few years ago I saw the headline: “Man shares sexual relationship with dolphin” and gasped that my secret was out; you can imagine the sigh of relief when I realized that it was in fact a story from someone else, and of course like the rest of you, I immediately went on to pass judgment on him, with his claims that it was a “consensual” affair and that the female dolphin sexually pursued him first (“I mean, I know…can you believe this guy? A dolphin?! Who does that!!”).

A dolphin, likely trying to get in bed with you, as they are wont to do.

A dolphin, likely trying to get in bed with you, as they are wont to do.

Now to add complexity to my already-troubling dream, I’ll share a few more details with you: the dolphin was also male, our feelings for each other were built off of a connection deeper than physical attraction (and to answer the obvious question: no, there was no sex; we respected each other too much), and like true star-crossed lovers trapped in separate worlds, our relationship was confined to the only place it could exist: in the break of the waves. So if you’re doing the math, yes: it was a homosexual, amphibious, cross-species relationship. And as a forward-thinking elitist liberal, that’s exactly the type of new-age relationship I’ve been known to pursue.

But that’s the thing that’s most interesting about dreams, in my opinion. They are always, of course, strange, but it’s the little flairs that our subconscious mind adds which are the most interesting. A friend of mine recently had a sexy-time dream with Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark. Now, that he was dreaming of Danish royalty, as strange as that sounds, was actually highly predictable for him. But it was this touch that struck me: in the dream, the two were playing tennis, and Crown Prince Frederik’s tennis game was noticeably off, which the Prince later admitted was a result of the sexual tension he felt for my friend.

If you think about it, authors and screenwriters spend months or years perfecting a story to captivate our attention. Yet when we’re fast asleep at night, our brains can create much more lavish stories that are highly specific in terms of the detail we add, and they’re able to do this in real time, as it unfolds. If your brain is a printer, the output it’s able to spew out for a dream is as fast as reality itself. It’s a speed that’s unmatched by our conscious, awake minds.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it. Maybe that’s not as amazing to you as it is to me, but I thought the least I could was salute our brains and our dreams through a poorly-written blog post like this. Moving along…

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If I had to nail down the one key to my heart (gun to the head, you only get to pick one key, go:), it’s poop. Specifically, high-brow conversations about poop (and to be clear, no I absolutely do not mean “poop play”). If we’re friends, you’re probably painfully aware of this–I play-by-play every one of my bowel movements moments after they happen (and they happen quite often). Or I’ll regularly remind coworkers and casual passersby that their pink eye is likely a product of touching feces and then touching their eyes (what? it’s science, and frankly a pretty good reminder from God that you shouldn’t go poking around poop with your finger).

“Well why don’t you write a blog post about it?” Said no one, ever.

“Great idea!”

With more and more stories out about viruses and bacterium (poop’s overachieving cousins, who for reasons unclear to me, are more socially acceptable to talk about) I’d like to do my part to fan the larger feces family’s flames, so to speak, as part of a multi-pronged effort to spread the fascination with poop. And what better way to do that than through a series of vignettes…on viruses, bacteria, and feces:

    • Part 1: Patient Zero. The origins of how AIDS came to the US (spoiler alert: it’s not that flight attendant everyone keeps blaming).
    • Part 2: My Turkish toilet. A story of me learning how to poop again at age 20 while I was studying abroad in Africa, with a Turkish toilet.

Here we go…

PART 1: Patient Zero

When I studied abroad in Africa, one of our field trips was to a witch doctor healing camp™. Now if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: I love when a stereotype goes out of its way not to deviate at all from the mental image you’ve locked away, and the witch doctor healing camp, thankfully, followed through on it’s promises: a tribal dance show, a panel of “healed” patients, thatched huts and a ritualistic offering of a cow.

As a bit of background, Senegal is part of french-speaking Africa, and though I had taken french for nine years at that point, I was barely conversational with my two year old host child (generationally, I refused to call her my host sister, me being 20 at the time). My beautiful, white smile paired together with the other students in my program (who I relied on as translators) got me linguistically through those four months… but as I always say: it takes a village.

So in a nutshell, it’s already hard enough for me to maintain interest in presentations, much less when they’re in French at a crazy ass witch doctor healing camp (I guess it’s worth noting at this point that it’s official name was probably something like a “holistic healing center”). Drifting in and out of consciousness, I suddenly started to hear a few words that caused me to perk up: “SIDA” (which is AIDS in French), “American” and “pharmaceutical companies.” I started paying attention again, and shot my friends a very confused glance:

“Ummm?? Did he just say what I think he said”

“Yeah….”

“Gurrrrrl!” Incidentally, this conversation happened entirely with our eyes.

The presenter/witch doctor had just said that AIDS was brought over to Africa by American pharmaceutical companies who did testing in villages even though they knew the consequences of the virus. I raised my hand:

“Umm, hi. Yes, Christopher Katsaros representing the fine state of California, thanks,” building the brand wherever I go, “everyone knows that AIDS actually came when an African villager had sex with a monkey, duh.” Of course, in my follow-up, I cited dozens of Southpark episodes and the like as evidence. You’re not getting anything passed this Leslie Stahl, Africa.

So, aside from being a colossal waste of time, all of what you just read is a roundabout way of saying that most us have a vague idea where AIDS originated, but not really. There was this flight attendant who was really gay and that sounds like an interesting and semi-plausible story so let’s just go with that.

That story gained ground after a CDC report in the early 80s looked at AIDS victims and their sexual partners, and all pointed back to Gaetan Dugas–that “devastatingly handsome” flight attendant, who sadly is nowhere near as attractive as stories make him out to be. This is actually the first time that the term “Patient 0” was used. However, scientists have since studied the genetic makeup of the virus which has showed that (a) it was in the United States as early as 1966, when Dugas was a youth and before he entered the United States and that (b) it probably transferred to humans from a small village deep in Congo in the early 1900s.

RadioLab looked into the origins of AIDS and I don’t even want to try and summarize it because it’s far and away the most rewarding way you can spend 26 minutes of your life (listen here). If you’re listening to the podcast, it’s part of Season 10 Episode 4, a three-part episode that looks at Patient Zeros including “Typhoid Mary,” a real person who was a cook on Long Island. Do yourself a favor and just listen to it.

PART 2: Learning to poop again, at age 20

(I wrote this when I was studying in Dakar, Senegal during my junior year of college. If you’re keeping track now, this is the second time in this post that I’ve reminded you that I lived in Africa. Being able to tell stories like these was in fact the primary driver for that decision)

My Turkish toilet ran out of water today, making it officially just a hole in the ground. Yay.

turkishtoilet

This is a Turkish toilet, more commonly known as a “hole in the ground.”

This seems like as good an opportunity as any to discuss and dissect the Turkish toilet. Anyone who’s been to a no-name gas station in the middle of the Mojave desert is probably familiar with the concept, but for the rest of you, I’ll elaborate.

It’s a glorified hole in the ground (ha! I almost said glory hole. Which, I can assure you, a Turkish toilet is not). The hole is surrounded by a porcelain base, flanked by two inconveniently placed footpads. I say inconvenient because, when your feet are positioned on their posts, your body is completely out of alignment with the hole. Your pee goes just slightly too far (causing you to create a little watering hole on the ground of your bathroom) and your poop lands slightly north of the hole, and rests there until it’s “dealt with.” This is, of course, no good at all.

You see, there’s an art to pooping in a Turkish toilet. You’ve got to have your poop fall just perfectly so that it goes directly down the hole. Otherwise, it’ll land on the porcelain part, which is fine except for the fact that you have to then coax the doobie down the drain. And the last thing anyone wants to do is have a face-to-face conversation with their excrement on why it should move an inch to the South and go down the hole. For any of you that have taken a shower at a friend’s house before–a friend with really long hair–you know how this coaxing goes: you cup some water and splash it at the hair with a trajectory pointed towards the drain (as a “thank you” gift for keeping their shower so clean, I usually pee in the long-haired friend’s shower). Same thing with poop, except rather than a minuscule piece of fiber, you’ve got a somewhat more substantial mass that is perfectly happy to sit and rot on the floor of your bathroom. Nonetheless, the same rules of cupping water apply, but with a little more force on a slightly more angled trajectory.

Where was I? Oh yes, the art of pooping. So you have to align your rectum/bung hole/etc directly over the hole. This is easier said than done. Think about where your butt is. Duh, you know where that is, easy. But now, specifically, think of where your butthole is?

“Well, I thought I knew where that was–it’s somewhere in that crack.” Yeah, but where specifically?

“Oh, I found it!” Great. Now, to make it even more difficult, squat down on your knees and try to line it up over an imaginary hole on the floor behind you. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Especially for you people reading this in a public space; I will absolutely wait for you to do this. Did you find it yet? Still didn’t? Yeah, exactly my point. When crouched in this position, your butthole becomes lost in your blindspot.

It took a little trial and error at first to find exactly where my butthole was in the beginning. And I’m not going to lie, it definitely required squatting down even further and watching the first couple of times to get the trajectory just right. But now I’m at a point where I’m very familiar with my butthole and it’s firing capabilities.

Personally, I don’t mind the Turkish toilet. Would I prefer a regular toilet, with a seat? Of course, I always relish at the opportunity to take a break out of my hectic day and just sit down and relax. In fact, all of the other students have normal toilets at their houses–even the “poor” one. But, I happen to be quite an efficient pooper–it’s what I’m known for (“Hey, there goes Chris. Man he is a quick pooper, that shit just flies out of him.”) And as a result, the squatting toilet doesn’t bother me much.

So here’s another plus to my Turkish toilet: it doubles as a drain for my shower. I know what you’re thinking: how is this a plus? Well, now, when I pee whilst taking a shower, I really don’t have to feel guilty (not that anyone should feel guilty, but there are some in the liberal media that try to demigod this wholly natural act). But, more importantly, it allows me to fulfill one of my life long dreams: pooping in the shower. Ever since the first day that I accidentally peed in the shower (and discovered it to be a shockingly rewarding experience) have I dreamed about the next genesis of this act: pooping in the shower. Now, I finally get to make that dream a reality. And without feeling guilty or disgusting. And let me tell you: truly magical. Everyone should do it once in their life. In fact, I really think you’re onto something here, Senegal…

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Spirit animals–I’m not sure if this is actually a real thing…or one of those fake things that your friend who invented it insists is real while making you feel insignificant for not knowing what it was already. But, without doing any sort of research on the subject, let me posit it as a real thing: “you know, a spirit animal? Like what animal your spirit is.” Again, you’re welcome for using the words in the definition.

Now, let me be the first to say that, like most of America, I don’t believe in this sort of witchcraftery otherworldy shit, unless of course we’re talking about John Edward of Crossing Over fame, who clearly is blessed with the gift of being able to communicate with dead second cousins. But, I’ve always been interested in finding my spirit animal (as the quest gives me a well-deserved opportunity to think about myself for an extended period of time, harping in particular on the qualities that make me great). And last week, incapacitated by a series of television marathons (more on that in a minute), I think I finally found my spirit animal: the Vogelkop Bowerbird. Just watch the clip:

A skilled interior decorator, an excellent communicator versed in many languages, and a somewhat-complicated name with just the right air of pretention…As far as I can tell, this bird has got it all, and it screams Christopher Katsaros IV. Just look at that “nest” it’s built (nest doesn’t do it justice…it’s a masterpiece). I’ve actually had a very similar design in mind for my villa in Cabo, with the open floorplan and inviting veranda he’s crafted. While the integration of funghi is something I hadn’t thought of, you can bet I’ll certainly be considering it. The second Bower, on the other hand, seems to have made a poor choice with the deer dung and charcoal; while I’m traditionally a fan of earth tones, he has taken this a bit too far, though it might just be a cultural difference between he and I (for the time being, I’ll reserve my judgment). I’m particularly enamoured by the courtship between the males and the females (see here): when the female arrives at Mr. Vogelkop’s hacienda, he vacates the premises so that she can inspect it, like some sort of open house. Incidentally, that is exactly how I would like to structure my next few dates–a sort of Room Invaders, but without the slutty blacklights and semen stains.

Checking the receipts

Next on the stream-of-conscious train is the clip itself. When I first searched for this clip, I came across this version. Now, if you’re an Oprah Winfrey fan like myself, you would have thrown up your arms in protest after hearing that clip from Life. That’s because you’re presumably well aware of the fact that when Oprah got the text from Gayle that the makers of Planet Earth were filming a follow-up series, she instantly demanded that they let her narrate the whole series, squeezing out poor Sigourney Weaver, who had proven herself perfectly capable of navigating the complexities of bullfrog mating calls. But, as you just noticed, the narrator for that clip is anything but a portly African American hostess with the mostess. I played the clips side-by-side, and realized that while it was visually the same content, the narrations were completely different. The Oprah version seemed lighter on the facts and less bound to the truth. It even had a more playful bed of music beneath it. But, it didn’t seem unreasonable to dumb it down for an American audience. If I were the BBC, I would do exactly the same. Let’s remember, this series aired on a network that would probably sandwich it between classics like Toddlers & Tiaras and I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant (and, embarrassingly, you’re thinking right now–“I love those shows!” So do I, my friend…there’s just something really satisfying about a major dump that turns out to be a baby). We are, how you say, dumber. But as I continued to fact check, I discovered the most shocking thing: the two clips presented different facts (Oprah says the Bower took weeks to build his nest, David Attenborough says it took years).

Gasp. It’s like when a child finds out Santa doesn’t exist…and the cruel reality that his parents will no longer be showering him with gifts. Suddenly, images of a coked up Winfrey, sitting there in her recording booth, willy nilly making shit up as a venus fly trap engulfs an ant on screen. If I can’t take a BBC Documentary at face value anymore, what else in this cruel, cruel world have I been accepting as fact? I quickly took a mental scan of the countless elite European cocktail parties I’m known to frequent, zeroing in on the portions where I’d save the conversation with my brilliant recitals of facts from these documentaries. No doubt the Brits had been looking down on me all the while, sneering at this American with his Oprah Winfrey made-up-isms. I’ll talk the liberty of assuming that you’re not familiar with these upper-crust parties I speak of, so to offer an analogy–while you talk of street cred, we talk of salon cred (pronounced sah-lun). And let’s just say it’s safe to assume my salon cred went down.

Naturally, I did what anybody would do in this situation–I ignored it completely and quickly changed the channel. Did it take the Bowerbirds weeks or years to craft their nests? I don’t know, and just like Oprah Winfrey before me, I will present either as facts at the next opportunity, because luckily for me, TLC was just kicking off a marathon of Dog the Bounty Hunter, and I knew that would be my new focus for the rest of the day.

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Whether it’s giant sink holes unexpectedly deep-throating an entire city block or rogue waves attacking cruise ships, it’s become increasingly clear to me that nature is terrifying (or at least the media’s presentation of it). Every night I make it to bed, I breathe a sigh of relief and count myself a survivor of mother nature’s cruel fury. Hopefully, I can do my part to help you understand the sort of terror that surrounds us and the enormous risk we take with our lives as we step outside.

Armed with ample amounts of couch time and an underwhelming to-do list which was just asking to be put off until next weekend, I found myself in the dangerous underworld of Comcast OnDemand. “An entire season of Life? Don’t mind if I do.”

For those of you that don’t know, Life is the less-interesting follow-up series to Planet Earth (Yeah, it’s narrated by Oprah Winfrey, but I think the jury is still out on that decision—she gets a little too self-righteous: “come on Oprah…it’s a tree owl, not your Angel Network”). And for those of you that don’t know what Planet Earth is, get out of my house.

Some of my friends once commented on the joys of smoking pot and then watching an episode of Planet Earth. If you’ve ever seen the “Arctic Forrest” episode, you can only imagine the calming effect this combination must have (I wouldn’t know, though, as I take a hard-line stance against marijuana. Not because of the health effects; I just think it’s horrifically tacky). But throw on one of the more jarring episodes—like “Shallow Seas”–and you’ll suddenly find yourself in a paranoid panic attack clawing at the arm rests of your sofa. For that reason, I think these DVD box sets should come with some sort of warning: do not watch episode alone or dangerous mental injuries can occur.

I present to you “Creatures of the Deep,” Life’s version of “Shallow Seas.”

First of all, as far as I know, “creature” is not proper scientific nomenclature when it comes to taxonomic hierarchy. No, it’s the Discovery Channel’s cruel joke to present you with a buffet of disgusting and horrifying animals just waiting to meet you in a dark alley; mainly, it’s their way of introducing you to the terrifying Humboldt Squid.

Humboldt Squid. These disgusting “creatures” can grow as long as 6′ feet, all in their short two-year life span. They can swim at speeds of 25 mph. And they have these gross beaks that they use for attacking, and not just their prey, they eat each other, too. But that’s not even the worst of it. On top of all of that, their skin blinks:

When attacking their prey, Humboldt squid are able to make their skin pulsate red and white. WHAT?? How does skin blink?? And of all colors, you picked red? Terrifying. Needless to say, I’ll never approach a glittery strobe light at a gay club the same way again in my life. Scientists don’t know why they blink their skin; they think it confuses their prey. Which brings me to another point: why is it that we keep hearing scientists say they don’t know why something is happening–hello, what are we paying you for??

It used to be the Humboldt Squid were contained to the Sea of Cortez. But, to my chagrin, their numbers have been increasing dramatically lately, and their range now stretches up the west coast and as far north as Alaska. Comforting.

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Lindsay Lohan went to jail. And got out like 25 seconds later. BP splooged all over the Gulf of Mexico. Obama continued to weave his master plan of infecting this country with socialism/communism/fascism/dictator-ism. And the World Cup happened.

Yes, yes, we get it. But there were other stories that happened this summer that I think were just as interesting, if not more. They didn’t really make the headlines, but armed with the tens of readers that follow me on this blog, I know I’ll be able to change that. So, Nation, here they are:

British Man Hoards Chocolate. Drives Prices Up to a 33-Year High

What?!?! I know, right? Anthony Ward, a commodities trader in the UK, has quietly been purchasing futures contracts of Cocoa since last October. Cocoa beans make chocolate—not to be confused with coca (no 2nd “O”) leaves, which make cocaine. Though that would be kind of fun.

When a futures contract expires, most traders choose a cash settlement. However, Mr. Ward made the unusual move to take delivery of the Cocoa, moving the 240,000+ tones to a warehouse in the UK.

This move drove the price of Cocoa to a 33-year-high. Mr. Ward argues that it’s not speculation that’s driving the prices up but a poor crop-yield in the Ivory Coast, one of the main producers of the beans.

But like, ok, what?? I’m not a huge chocolate fan, but still. I’m rulll scured…

But I’m also really intrigued. I eagerly await the AMC Original Movie story of the life and times of this real-life Willy Wonka character.

Sink Holes are the New Rogue Waves…

I love cruising. Call me a Middle American or an elderly Jewish woman from Florida, but I don’t care. All you can eat meals, jackpot-crackpot bingo and nightly entertainment—where do I sign? But one thing I was always scared of was the illusive rogue wave. I’ve watched one too many Discovery Channel documentaries on them to know that A) they exist and B) they’re out to kill happy cruisers like me. In fact, they estimate that at any given moment, there’s one rogue wave lurking out there. Terrifying….

So you can understand my fear when I saw this pop-up on the front page of National Geographic:

Petrified. I didn’t leave the house for three days. And then came this (it’s harder to make out, but it’s a sink hole 100 feet deep, 300 yards wide and almost a third of a mile long):

What in the name of unexplained science is happening here?? Apparently these sink holes just unexpectedly happen, and can be triggered by something as small as a fly. And no one knows why they happen. I’d like to make a resolution for scientists: no more travelling to other planets until we figure out what the fuck is happening on this one. As my Mom once said, you can have your desert once you’ve finished your veggies. So stop pigging out on tiramisu and start focusing on the broccoli that’s turning my life turn into one anxiety-filled infomercial.

Anyway, if you can take one thing away from this today, it’s this: sink holes—they’re real, and they’re coming to an area of land near you.

The Tour de France – It Happened

The famous bike race, which takes place during the month of July and winds through France and it’s neighboring countries, happened. And no one seemed to care. Probably because the beginning of the Tour started just at the height of the World Cup. And, as difficult as it is to believe that anything can be even MORE boring than watching a soccer game, watching a 20-day bike race actually takes the cake.

In case you were wondering, Lance Armstrong didn’t win. He came in 23rd place. It kind of sucks that we force athletes to leave at the top of their game; I enjoyed the fact that Lance was basically just like “eff it. I like biking so I’m going to do this.” Yeah yeah yeah, he did it for cancer and yada yada. Mainly, I’m just happy that we got to see a lot of Lance advertising. God, he’s just such a winner. Even if he did use performance enhancing drugs.

Here are some good/cute ones; Lance–you have such wise observations:

[Disclaimer: I feel the same way about performance enhancing drugs as I do about artists lip syncing at a concert: if it’s going to help you create a more interesting spectacle for me to watch, than go right ahead.]

The Sea Lions @ Pier 39: They Came Back

In the 1970s, a large group of sea lions plopped themselves down on some docks at Pier 39. No one knew why they randomly showed up and what made them choose that spot. And, in the spirit of American capitalism, we turned this into a tourist attraction.

But around Thanksgiving time last year, they mysteriously vanished. A couple weeks later, it was reported that they had showed up on the coast of Oregon. Why had they left? And were they coming back? No one knew.

A few began to trickle back in late February, and by May most had returned. Anyway, case closed. Collective sigh of relief…

All in all, a pretty successful summer thus far. I would say the only thing that fell short of expectations, aside from BP, was Miley Cyrus’ summer single. Umm, excuse me Miley, I was depending on you for a light-hearted pick-me-up, a perfectly executed follow-up to Party in the USA and See You Again. Wtf is this Can’t Be Tamed crap!–Bullshit if you ask me.

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Where’s the largest war being waged in the world right now? The answer might surprise you.

On NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday (the best interview show out there), Dave Davies spoke with entomologist Mark Moffett, who has been studying ants for the past 30 years. He just came out with a new book, Adventures with Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions.

The interview is definitely worth listening to! But since you probably won’t, I transcribed the most fascinating part of it for you to read, where he details a battle being waged in your backyard of epic proportions:

Only ants and humans have full-scale impersonal warfare where masses of individuals go after each other and that’s because ants and humans have larger societies than anything else, up to millions of individuals….

The Argentine ants, having the largest societies, have the most amazing warfare of all. Unfortunately they’re an invasive species and they’ve escaped Argentina. They’re now in California and have been for a century, expanding their realm.

But what’s been recently discovered is that there are in fact different colonies there. It was thought that they didn’t fight until someone accidentally took some of them and mixed them up with what turned out to be a different society and they started killing each other.

These societies turn out to be enormous, there are four of them throughout California. The largest of the four is called the Very Large Colony and it extends from San Francisco down to the Mexican border and contains maybe hundreds of billions to maybe a trillion individuals.

This is a single nationality with a single scent so you can carry an individual with you from San Francisco down to Mexico if you’re so inclined and drop it off and it will merge seamlessly with the society there and you can carry that same ant a quarter inch across the border to the next society in Escondido and it will be dead within a minute. And these huge colonies have borders that are miles long and millions of ants are dying each month in people’s backyards out of view at the base of the grasses; basically it’s the largest battle ever waged…

The same colonies are taking over places like Northern New Zealand. There’s a single colony that occupies a thousand kilometers of coastline in Europe. South Africa has a huge colony and so on.

Absolutely fascinating. Who knew ants could be so fiercely nationalistic. The whole interview is worth listening to; other points that piqued my interest:

  1. These are societies built of females; mostly all the ants you see are female, the males are small with wings and die very quickly
  2. They communicate entirely through scent and these scents can be carried throughout societies at an extremely fast pace, more efficient than the way we communicate with each other
  3. Ants have specialized roles, everything from worker to soldier to carrier ant, which is a larger ant that brings her

    Just carrying some friends to war.

    carries dozens of her smaller comrades to the front lines of a battle

  4. Towards the end of their lives, when ants are weak or sick, they march out to the battle lines and guard the borders, serving as martyrs for the greater good of the society
  5. Some ants are capable of killing animals as large as cattle by overwhelming them with sheer force. This is why farmers in Africa never tie up their cattle, lest they be attacked by ants
  6. Ants are farmers; when you see them carrying leaves back to their nests, it’s so they can use them to grow a certain type of fungus they eat.

Wow. Do yourself a favor, and listen to it.

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Last week, Beau Biden (son of Vice President Joe Biden, but more importantly: step-son of Jill Biden) was taken the hospital. No one seemed to care. But I did. You see, I pick somewhat obscure people (I like to set my sights a bit lower and pick people I have a realistic chance of friending in real-life) and become obsessed with them: develop imaginary friendships with them in my mind and think about what I’ll bring to their house if they ever hosted a potluck (tri-tip, FYI)—you know, the usual. Beau Biden is one of those people. Meredith Vierra is another. So are you, Rachel Maddow. Gavin Newsom? Yep, you’re on that list, too.

Luckily, Beau was released yesterday with a healthy prognosis from his doctor. And, all together now: exhale…

In celebration of his safe recovery, it seems only fitting that we revisit probably the best example of campaign propaganda I’ve ever seen (and Beau: I mean that in the best way possible; I’m a sucker for a beautifully choreographed video montage followed by a gut-wrenching speech). Here’s why I love Beau:

[Thanks DemConvention for not letting me embed this, assholes...]

I laughed, I cried. And lucky for you, I documented those emotions and everything in-between; won’t you follow this emotional roller-coaster with me?

Time Stamp What’s on-screen My reaction My inner-dialogue
0:26 Barack: “Joe is the salt of the earth” Playful smirk Oh, Obama
0:35 Joe: “People in my neighborhood don’t like the term working class” Eye roll (and when I roll my eyes, I roll my eyes) Joe, we get it. You were poor. I think there’s only so many times you can say that before I stop believing you, though. Plus, every time you mention your home town of Scranton, we’re all thinking of Michael Scott, which probably isn’t the image you’d like to evoke.
0:46 Beau: “My Dad…” Baited eyes who’s this?? Oh hi, Beau! Nice of you to join me in my living room on this fine August night.
0:55 Beau: “…to a young man that gets elected to the Senate at the age of 29 years old” Alerted inquisitiveness Note to self: fact-check this later. If true, figure out how to replicate success. Consider moving to fake-states like Delaware.
1:13 Enter Jill Biden Slight stomach pains, intense smile Is this what love feels like?
3:05 Dramatic Celine Dion music in the background; Jill in the foreground Eyes wandering up and to the right (i.e. the general direction of the future) Mmm, this Hope/Change kool-aide tastes really good.
3:10 Picture of Joe and Barack, close to locking lips Eye-brow tilt Are Barack and Joe about to make out? This picture intrigues me. Will dig up later and possibly photo shop to make even more incriminating.
3:52 Another near-makeout photo of the presidential duo Continued eye-brow tilt This is getting suspicious. Although, they are both decently attractive, so I guess on some level it makes sense.
5:10 Beau: “the truth is, he almost wasn’t a senator at all” Confused; scared What?!?! Go on, Beau, tell me more…
5:55 Beau: “He said then, ‘Delaware can get another Senator, but my boys cannot get another father” One solitary tear begins to well up in my eye Here they come…
6:38 Beau: “Five years later, WE—my brother, Dad and I—decided to marry my mother, Jill” Tears. Lots and lots of tears. Gushing down my face. They…are…so…perfect.
8:55 Beau: “So I have something to ask of you: be there for my Dad, like he’s been there for me.” Exuberance Where do I sign, Beau Biden?
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