austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Headlights turn into the drive then disappear into the night

This Chinese New Year is, to no one's great surprise, the Year of the Rat, and I'm glad when I encounter organizations that want to commemorate that using a rat honestly and openly. The attempts to -- I want to say ``weasel out of'', but that's not really fitting -- get out of the basic rat-ness of rats by using mice instead bothers me. Yes, Rat may have got his position at the head of the Chinese Zodiac by cheating early and often (he may; I'm positive I understand the legend correctly), but one thing he was is a Rat and that deserves some respect.

So along the way while reading for interesting news I noticed that the Underwater World exhibit on Sentosa Island in Singapore, which features a huge lucite cylinder under which a moving sidewalk shuffles off people who are trying to take a picture, above which is a hefty aquarium with all sorts of fish inside, has added a Year of the Rat-theme theme exhibit. Specifically, they've added some spotted ratfish to the place. Also, apparently, there's something called a spotted ratfish, even though from the name it would sound like a cartoon producer riffing off the ideas of the catfish and the dogfish.

The ratfish turns out to have a certain curious charm to its design, with the sort of huge eye that suggests those pictures, dripping with sarcasm, which exaggerate cuteness to the point of becoming annoying. But its forehead and nose worth with that, and the fish is apparently reasonably fond of doing corkscrew turns and barrel rolls, suggesting that they know how to have fun in the way that only fish which are not commercially hunted can know. Says Wikipedia, their taxonomic name, hydrolagus colliei, comes from the Greek for ``water hare'', of course, and the name of Doctor Alexander Collie, surgeon aboard the HMS Blossom from 1825 to 1828 and a naturalist who classified things in Western Australia.

Trivia: Dr Nicholas Venette became the first medical authority to proclaim that eating vegetables was good for humans in 1683. Source: The Essence of Style, Joan DeJean.

Currently Reading: Herman Hollerith, Forgotten Giant of Information Processing, Geoffrey D Austrian.


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