Why Yes, We CAN Have Nice Things!
It's Sunday morning, the government is going to reopen, That Man In the White House is probably tweeting something we're paying absolutely no attention to (no! don't look!), and it's time for some Nice Things! No, we're not going to start including a Sunday puzzle, because we don't want Will Shortz threatening to break our kneecaps again. Note that instead of a random Cute Aminal from the interwebs, this week's header pic is a reader's pet dorg, Molly, who owns Special Wonkette Operative "capnkrunch." If you'd like your critter to maybe be in a featured Nice Things photo, what the hey, post in the comments, which we don't allow. Or send a critter pic to doktorzoom at-sign wonkette dot com, and I might even remember to look at my email for once. You could even include your critter's name and, if necessary, species.
Trucks + Cats = TruckerCats!
Turns out there are lots of things on Reddit that are not crazy conspiracy theories or MAGA crap. Like for instance r/TruckerCats, which is really simple in concept: photos and videos of cats belonging to truckers. In trucks, mostly. Most of the videos come from a single user, "CaliRose," but there are a fair number of photos from other truckers with cats, too. The videos mostly star Maverick, who sometimes watches the road, and sometimes ignores it all and plays with a crinkly toy. These videos are strangely relaxing; I could just watch a whole string of 'em. And yes, there is also a YouTube channel for CaliRose's videos, though of course that misses out on the photos from all the other trucker cats.
Here is Maverick keeping an eye on things on a recent snowy day in Washington. Kitty may or may not have helped with the chains.
Another regular poster, OurLadyofThe18Wheels, addresses a comment we suspect she might be tired of hearing in a post titled "It's cruel to have a pet on the truck I mean, look how miserable he is":
The poor dear.
Here's a longer video starring Scarlett for a change. Just driving and a kitty.
And of course, there are the mandatory embarrassing videos to show your cat's prom date just to mortify the poor thing. Like the time Maverick's foot got stuck. In his ear.
It's not all just Maverick, Maverick, Maverick, though. There are other kitties, like this smol fuzzball in Tacoma.
Including one of Bender Etc. and an explanatory sign in the cab window, which probably reassures people in parking lots
A few posts even discuss the practical aspects of trucking with cats, like reminders to cover up the window/door buttons, Q&A about litterbox placement, and the truck driving bidniss in general.
What we are getting at here is, cats good. Also, Fuzzy Headrest. An option on the more well-appointed trucks.
Here Is A Silly Mike Pence 'Rapping' Video
Dominic found this. It is amusing!
Historian Stuff? Yes, Please!
Awesome piece in the New Yorker this week by Robert A. Caro, with several cool anecdotes about how he went about understanding Lyndon B. Johnson. The section on how Caro pieced together a mystery from early on in Johnson's career in the House is simply amazing. No spoilers, but here's the setup: Caro noticed a surprising and sudden shift in the tone and emphasis of Johnson's correspondence with other members of the House of Representatives:
For some time after Johnson's arrival in Congress, in May, 1937, his letters to committee chairmen and other senior congressmen had been in a tone befitting a new congressman with no power—the tone of a junior beseeching a favor from a senior, or asking, perhaps, for a few minutes of his time. But there were also letters and memos in the same boxes from senior congressmen in which they were doing the beseeching, asking for a few minutes of his time. What was the reason for the change? Was there a particular time at which it had occurred?
Getting to the answer merely required Caro to dig through box after box of not-terribly-well-organized papers in Johnson's archives. This is research-nerd catnip. Give it a read! Or a listen -- the story is also available in streaming audio form for you podcast wonks. (For downloads and a wider range of magazine stories, the New Yorker. Wired, the Atlantic, and others offer content on the Audm app, which is currently only available for iPhones. The Audm website says an Android version is on the way.)
Science: It's Snot For The Faint-Hearted
Nature is disgusting, as Ed Yong vividly explains at the Atlantic. You may want to set your breakfast aside for a moment. Hagfish are literally spineless bottom-dwellers that, like Ted Cruz. evolved an amazing defense to keep from getting eaten: they emit a tiny amount of super-slippery slime that expands rapidly, making them nigh-impossible to eat:
Typically, a hagfish will release less than a teaspoon of gunk from the 100 or so slime glands that line its flanks. And in less than half a second, that little amount will expand by 10,000 times—enough to fill a sizable bucket. Reach in, and every move of your hand will drag the water with it. "It doesn't feel like much at first, as if a spider has built a web underwater," says Douglas Fudge of Chapman University. But try to lift your hand out, and it's as if the bucket's contents are now attached to you.
Hagfish predatory behaviour and slime defence mechanism
In related news, hagfish have just been declared the official mascot of all 12-year-olds who love snot jokes. Seriously, every middle school science curriculum needs to include a lot more, the first week, about how wonderfully gross science can be.
In related Gross Piscatorial Science, the Atlantic also brought us a story about why swallowing live goldfish is one thing, but swallowing live catfish is quite another, far more dangerous matter. Jesus, people. Fish are friends, not drunken stunts.
A Deep Dive Into The High Plains Grifters
Oregon Public Broadcasting and Longreads.com have a podcast and series of articles about Nevada's Bundy family, their weird beliefs, and the two armed standoffs in 2014 and 2016 that made them infamous as "Y'all Qaeda," "Vanilla ISIS," and so on. You may be asking, "Dok, how are a bunch of gun-humping dildo militia loons who threatened to get into a shooting match over their weird Sovereign Citizen ideas any kind of 'NICE'?" And we will answer, "It's incredibly interesting journamalism, and the Bundy story is at a nexus of several strains of weirdass rightwing politics and media that help explain at least part of how we got to this bizarre pass in modern America of America today, is how." Go check it out in text or audio form. We were particularly amazed by the explication of the freaky fringe Mormon-heresy beliefs (melded with "sovereign citizen" pseudolegal thinking) at the core of the Bundy worldview.
Fiona The Hippo Is TWO!
Fiona the pygmy hippo is two years old, and just tipped the scales at over 1000 pounds. The Cincinnati Zoo made a video of the smol river horse's greatest moments.
Baby Hippo Fiona's 2 Year Highlights - Cincinnati Zoo
Mom Was A Business Genius. The Business Was The Detroit Numbers Game
NPR did an amazing story on "Weekend Edition" about Fannie Drumwright Davis Robinson, who during the 1970s provided a solid living for her family by running the illegal numbers game in Detroit. Her daughter, novelist and filmmaker Bridgett M. Davis, has written a memoir about her mother, The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers. Mom may have been breaking the law but was also widely respected for running a completely honest illegal gambling operation. Looks like we'll have to buy that! Buy using the linky and Yr Wonkette gets a kickback!
Bridgett Davis says the numbers game was simply "my normal":
And in fact, I found great comfort in the recitation of numbers that she would actually, basically be saying over the telephone as she took her customers' bets. I liked the sound of it.
Give the interview a listen!
Sadly, while Ms. Robinson's numbers game never got her in trouble with the law, the state took an even more final action that put her out of business: it started its own legal lottery.
Hey, Wonkers: What would you think of like doing a book club again? If we did, what should it look like? We could give you a purchase link and then discuss the book in a single post, like after a month... or we could do a week-by-week read of one to three chapters at a time. Feedback in the comments much appreciated!
Autistic Teen Shares Lifetime Supply Of Peanut Butter With Furloughed Govt Workers
Here's your We're Not Crying, YOU'RE Crying story for the week: 15-year-old Eric McKay, who is autistic, really likes the store-brand peanut butter from Lidl stores in Virginia. So when he tweeted that his mom, Tracy, had bought him 72 jars of the stuff on sale and asked when it would be discounted again, the store offered him another 72 jars.
The grocery chain then gave him a challenge: get 72,000 retweets, and we'll give you a lifetime supply. Viral tweeting ensued (yes, I retweeted it), and Eric met the goal after a couple of Big Names got involved:
At first, his mom thought this "is never going to happen." Eric had just five Twitter followers. But then she said it "just grew organically," with friends and family retweeting it. He now has more than 2,200 followers.
By Christmas, he reached 40,000 retweets. Then his message really took off, when British author Neil Gaiman and former White House intern Monica Lewinsky retweeted it. Tracy McKay said she thinks Eric's goal took off when Gaiman "didn't just retweet it, but he engaged and talked about autism and people having food sensitivities."
Parents of kids with autism also the Twitter thread a good opportunity to talk about autism, food preferences and nutrition, and how no, eating mostly peanut butter is not necessarily bad for you.
Also too, Eric's dad works for the federal government, and was furloughed so Donald Trump could have a temper tantrum over WALL. Things were tight, although the family definitely had one steady supply of protein. So Eric, who goes by the nickname "Bean," decided to share the creamy-style wealth.
Good christ, maybe someone told Trump about this and that's why he thought grocery stores were giving furloughed government employees free food? Just guessing -- he's dumb enough to take the absolute wrong message from a feel-good story. If he says Cincinnati is distributing free baby hippos, you'll know.
And now that the shutdown is over, Eric's dad can go back to work and Eric can keep having peanut butter on English muffins for most meals, the way he likes it, hurrah!
You people have a terrific Sunday, OK?
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.