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Animals

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Berkday 17.


A very happy 17th birthday to the Berk-man. GitM’s original ombudsdog — three years gone but still in our hearts. I bet even Murf misses you sometime, li’l buddy, and I hope they have ham and cheese croissants on the rainbow bridge.

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Catching Up: Lady and the Murf.

Alright, June 1st. So, before posts start up here with any regularity again, I should probably catch y’all up on recent events. (Consider the next few posts the recap in front of the comic and/or the “Previously On” for the seasons you missed.)

First, up above is me and Amy — whom I’ve mentioned a few times over the years — at my sister‘s wedding last October. And below is us at the Trianon in Versailles (Wilson’s base during the Conference) last summer, a day or two after I proposed.

Amy is a criminologist at George Mason, and while I won’t sing her praises too much here, suffice to say we get along swimmingly (perhaps in part because, yes, we do have the same last name. Good enough for Franklin and Eleanor, good enough for Jaime and Cersei.) We moved in together on Capitol Hill a year and a half ago, around the same time I left Congress and started at the Trust. Our wedding is this September in Maui.

And this is Murf. Formerly Amy’s, now our seven-and-a-half-year-old bichon frise, Murf is completely blind after several bouts with canine glaucoma — in fact, both of his eyes have now been eviscerated. But he gets around surprisingly well by smell, hearing, and memory, almost as easily as Berk did after he went deaf. (Maybe one day, we’ll get a basenji and complete the triptych.)

Speaking of the old man, and as I said here, he and Murf shared this realm for a year or so, during which they went from antipathy to generally ignoring each other before Berk’s end. They had different interests anyway. Berk was into watching, circling, and barking, while Murf is more of a sit-in-your-lap, incessant licking man. To each his own.

Berkday 16.


Pour some bacon, haribo cherries, and sundry other treats out for those who are no longer with us. Today would have been Berk’s sixteenth birthday. RIP old friend.

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Berkday 15.


Today would have been Berk’s fifteenth birthday. Rest easy, old friend.
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Also, the Cheese is a Trap.

“The researchers had mice run through a maze to get a reward of chocolate milk. The animals could figure out the location of the reward either through sensory cues such as rough or smooth floors, which corresponds to declarative learning. Or, they could discover the reward was always linked to either a left or right turn, which corresponds to procedural learning. The investigators discovered the mice with the human form of FOXP2 learned profoundly faster than regular mice when both declarative and procedural forms of learning were involved.”

Scared and smarter: In an experiment right out of the The Secret of NIMH, researchers discover that mice learn faster after being given a gene linked to human speech. ‘What surprised me most was that the humanized gene actually improved the animal’s behavior rather than messing up the system.'” Remember…Dubya did try to warn us.

The Last Dog Scout.

“You’d see firefighters sitting there, unanimated, stone-faced, no emotion, and then they’d see a dog and break out into a smile,” Otto recalled. “Those dogs brought the power of hope. They removed the gloom for just an instant — and that was huge because it was a pretty dismal place to be.”

Thirteen years after a dark day, 15-year-old Bretagne, one of the last surviving 9/11 search dogs, returns to Ground Zero. “In the years that followed 9/11, Bretagne and Corliss deployed together to numerous disaster sites, including Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ivan. Bretagne retired from formal search work at age 9 — but today, even though she’s roughly 93 in human years, she still loves to work.”

Of Mice and Men.

“‘People have not paid attention to this in the entire history of scientific research of animals,’ says Jeffrey Mogil, a pain researcher at McGill University and lead author of the study. ‘I think that it may have confounded, to whatever degree, some very large subset of existing research.'”

Sorry, Lenny: A new study finds a potentially problematic issue for decades of research: Mice are scared of men (or males of any species). ‘If you’re doing a liver cell study, the cells came from a rat that was sacrificed either by a man or a woman,’ Mogil says. As a result, ‘its stress levels would be in very different states.’ This, he says, could have an effect on the functioning of the liver cell in that later experiment.”

Arkham Aquarium.

“Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot. I must be a creature. I must be a creature of the night…I shall become a shark.” Iconic Batman villains reconceived as cartoon sharks, by artist Jeff Victor. Mr. Freeze’s goldfish is a nice touch.

Time is a Flat Circle, Filled with Milk.


The True Detective credit sequence, now reimagined with kittehs. Because the Internet. As I said on Twitter, this is cute and all, but Watership Down remains my go-to for cute and depressing existential animals.

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