Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On the difference between a sealion

So, the thing about being a bureaucrat is that sometimes you are forced to work for the system even if you don't agree with it. Historically, the problem has been that the bureaucrats are too eager to please their political bosses. Would Nazi-Germany been able to function without the worker ants keeping the machinery gong? Not a chance. If enough of them had looked up from their papers, given it a second thought what it was they were taking part in, and drawn the conclusions history by now has drawn for them, there is a possibility the Holocaust would not have happened. Bureaucrats have power. They just don't use it very often.

My current assignment isn't quite as serious as that, and thus I'm not worried I am committing genocide by proxy. But I am in the capacity of my work defending a political position I disagree with personally. It certainly does nothing to help my motivation...

Maybe that is why I've been distracted all day? My research hasn't really brought me much that is useful for the job I have to do, but it brought me lots of random information I found much more interesting than what I was supposed to work on. Digressionism en diplomacy, I guess.

First of all, I've learned a lot about various species today. Extinct and otherwise. Did you know that the 18th century botanist, zoologist, physician and explorer, Georg Wilhelm Steller, had several species named after him - most of which are now either extinct or endangered? The Steller sea cow, for instance, disappeared only 25 years after he discovered it. The Steller sea lion is still around, but especially the western stock of this mammal is threatened, partly as a result of over-hunting in the past, and partly as a result of changes in their habitat (climatic and otherwise).

I have also learned a little something about different species of sea mammals: "There are sea lions on the ears, ear seals are just a hole." Or maybe the lesson learned there was that Google Translate cannot be trusted?

I have discovered the story about the adorable Tama-chan. This was a seal who for some time lived in a Tokyo river (or two, actually), and consequently it became a national celebrity in Japan. Because, you know, that's what happens in Japan when you're cute.

Tama-chan was also attempted seal-napped by a doomsday cult. Because, you know, that also happens in Japan... This cult believed that Tama-chan had been led astray by electromagnetic waves, and that returning him to the sea would save the world. They didn't succeed. This might explain the current state of the world...

And finally, if you're wondering about the title of this post? Another Google Translate glitch. It reminds me of a joke, though. I've modified it slightly to fit today's theme:

"What's the difference between a sealion?"
"It can neither ride a bike."


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Kiddnapped by a doomsday cult? Figures.

Michael Offutt said...

It sounds like being a bureaucrat is fun.

M.J. Nicholls said...

Have you noticed how people's interest in blogging and blogs dips from May-September? You could blame the sun, but we haven't seen it yet this year in Scotland.

I envy your enquiring mind. In fact, if you're renting, I'd like to use one cerebral hemisphere to do some of my own research. I won't leave crumbs on it, but I might make ink smudges on the cerebellum.

Kelly said...

..and sometimes your brain can tell you one thing while your heart tells you another. Does that make sense or is it as confusing as a google translation?!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Wonderful read with equally wonderful videos.


Boonie S said...

Fascinating post. Thanks for this.

All the best, Boonie

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