'Tuka' by Wonkette Operative 'Box of Raindrops'

No getting around it: I've been smiling off and on since I heard this old favorite on a streaming service yesterday. It's just such a perfect song.

This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (2005 Remaster) www.youtube.com

In the liner notes to her cover of "This Must Be the Place," Shawn Colvin says she fell for the line "You got a face with a view." I'd quote exactly what she said about that if I could find the "Cover Girl" CD, but let's not get all hung up on completeness, OK?

Shawn Colvin - This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) www.youtube.com

We also like this 2012 assessment from James Verini in the New Yorker: "'This Must Be the Place' is a love song only in spite of itself (it dispenses about as much hope as Joy Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart')" -- but that's exactly why it works, too. (The whole article is good, go read it, you.) I've always loved the very ambivalence of the song; it makes me feel good the way Kurt Vonnegut makes me feel good -- everything's awful, everything's wonderful. And it's OK to just make it up as you go along.

So let's do some Nice Things!


The Taxonomy Of Birbs

Alternate subhed: Wir Fahn Fahn Fahn Auf Der Audubon

Many thanks to Alert Wonkette Operative "SterWonk" for a comment (which we do not allow) calling attention to this fun article at Audubon magazine that brings a birder's enthusiasm for classification and cataloging to a very silly internet thing, the use of the term "birb" to refer to birds on Twitter and elsewhere. Reporter Asher Elbein explains not only the the term's origin, but its appeal:

The word began, as near as anyone can tell, when the absurdist Twitter account BirdsRightsActivist tweeted the single word "Birb," out on November 2012; two years later, it had multiple entries in Urban Dictionary and a dedicated reddit forum. The term is seemingly designed for the internet: one syllable, beginning and ending with "b," connoting a pleasant roundness, a warm mouth-feel. What a good birb, you might say, or I'm so glad we went birb-watching, or I love Alfred Hitchcock's The Birbs.

There are no birbs in the Tom Hanks movie, however. (Are there?)

Elbein goes well beyond such basics, and tries to lay out some general principles of birbness.

  1. Birbs are often (though not conclusively) small.
  2. Birbs are often (though not always) round.
  3. Birbs appear cute.
All this, particularly #3, tends to be subjective, and part of the fun of the essay comes from Elbein's tongue-in-beak wrestling with trying to categorize various birds as birbs or not-birbs. Some are a gimme:

And while cuteness may be hard to define, Elbein notes, the "round and fluffy and smol" criteria help clarify things:

Humans tend to like looking at round and fluffy things. So much so, in fact, that violent or unseemly behavior doesn't disqualify a bird from birbness: the aggression of hummingbirds, the Vlad-the-impaler antics of shrikes, brood parasitism of cuckoos, and brain-eating of Great Tits are immaterial to their round fluffiness. You could post a picture of any of these on reddit under "murder birb" and nobody would blink.

Also, there can be exceptions:

However, silliness or absurdity also come into play: The potoo bird is large and not particularly fluffy, but its general muppety appearance makes it a contender for the title. Even the terrifying Shoebill stork sneaks in with this exemption.

Elbein originally said the Shoebill was too scary to count as a birb, but added an author note revising that judgement based on a reader's tweet. It's a good call.

Yes, please to read the whole thread, in which the tweeter eventually convinces the very serious birb journalist. Also, for this!

Related:

I should note that while I am not a birder, I like birders a lot. One of the nicest times I ever had camping was when my first wife and I drove up to a fairly remote campground in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeast Arizona. An older couple in the neighboring campsite had somehow driven a biggish RV up the decidedly unfriendly road, and in the late afternoon, they read bird books aloud to each other. That was over thirty years ago, but it gave me lifelong good thoughts about birders.

And since I've been enjoying Walter Isaacson's 2003 Benjamin Franklin bio, I'll offer my own Poor Zoom's aphorism: The smallest things can make you an unwitting brand ambassador.

It's 'Best Of Times, Worst Of Times' Time

Here's a longread that could have been depressing as hell, but actually turns out fairly hopeful. Dutch writer Rob Wijnberg (translated by Megan Hershey) looks at the climate crisis and economic inequality, and teases out how right now is arguably the very best life has ever been for most of humanity, but simultaneously the most dangerous period in global history.

And we can thank the fossil fuel economy for both conditions. It is not a happy essay, but I think I'm going to be coming back to it again and again. Particularly because Wijnberg notes that the same human traits that got us into this mess -- creativity, the ability to work in large groups, the cumulative effects of our "knowledge, skills and achievements" -- are the key to getting out of the inequality and existential challenges we've created for ourselves. At the risk of spoilers, here are his concluding paragraphs:

It's not surprising that climate change leaves us, as individuals, feeling powerless. A problem of this magnitude is the result of such a complex web of interactions that is far too complex for any one person to fully grasp – which means that the solutions must be, too. Quite literally, we can't visualise what an effective solution would look like.

But then we can take heart from this fundamental truth about human nature: together we can.

Wijnberg says he'll be digging deeper into those "fundamental reasons for optimism" in future essays, but not "to tell you 'relax, everything will be fine' of course – that would be a lie." Rather, he wants to explore how even our cynicism about the prospects for change are the result of "a number of stubborn myths and misconceptions" that we can also grow out of, just as surely as we've grown into them. So there's a new Google alert I've set up!

Cats And Engineers!

I loved this silly thing when it first went viral in 2008, and Alert Wonkette Operative "Amelia" reminded me of its existence last week. Caution: Trying to make an unhappy cat yodel is for professional engineers only:

An Engineer's Guide to Cats www.youtube.com


Bring On The Twitter Goofiness Already!


The message, as one reply pointed out, is probably "we ordered far too much spinach and need to move it before it spoils."

Also from the replies:

Sam Sykes, the writer who brings us brilliant Twitter threads of horror-comedy, has acquired a new pupper. Her name is Lucille. Behold the cuteness!


As you can see, Lucille is not an Only Dog:



Here is a guy Robyn saw at a karaoke last night whose voice is so ridiculously good that she just screamed "I DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF" in the chat cave. His name is Mario and he is delightful and we would like to buy his Christmas album now, please.


Now, this may not seem like a nice thing at all, because ew, but a lot of the replies certainly are:


Yes, yes, LOTS of people also point out that mayonnaise really is mostly eggs and oil, and you put that in cakes all the time. Which is true, but requires thought and getting past the visceral ickiness of "cake + mayo." Also, the tweet probably woulda been far less problematic if the off-white frosting didn't look quite so much like it came straight out of the Best Foods/Hellmans jar, possibly with bits of veggie or ... salmon? (It's actually peppermint buttercream.)

Anyhoo, back to kitties and puppers!

You guys have seen plenty of pics of my cat Thornton. Fellow Wonker Jamie Lynne Crofts has a great big grey lug named Hamilton, and we share many kitty pics in the secret Cat Chat Cave (Which is still a cat cave, but in Francais). Here's Hammy:


He didn't like a bowtie at all, but he likes a pretty necklace with a flower:

All of which to say is that Jamie spotted another cousin to the two of 'em, on the Twitters:

Historian Kevin Gannon brings us this urgent message from all our pets:


And finally:

Silly parent. Your kid wants some Wonkette merch, obviously! We have shot glasses for all ages!

(Fine, if the recipient is under 21, get 'em a snazzy hat).


Have a fine Sunday! Did I find you or you find me?

[Audubon / The Correspondent / Chowhound]

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Doktor Zoom

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.

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