Thoreau Thursday

dipteraThe other day, when I noticed a host of gnat-like flies outside the kitchen window, it was 54 degrees F and overcast. matingNothing to see here, people, move along.

Well, actually, we can see an awful lot here. The top specimen is, I assume, male, because of those moth-like feathery antennae; the better to sense you with, my dear. You can just see, between his middle and hind legs, two barbell-like projections: these are the halteres. Flies are in the order Diptera, which means two-winged. Many insects have four wings; halteres are sort of vestigial hindwing stubs; they help with aerial maneuvering, evidently, like around your ears as they hunger for your blood stream. Yeah, mosquitos are Diptera.

Also, note out much larger the female is. She frankly looks like a member of another species entirely. Is this an egg-carrying adaptation?

*
“It is discouraging to talk with men who will recognize no principles. How little use is made of reason in this world!” HDT, March 4, 1852.

You may have had the experience of attempting to argue with a person who believes, say, that the tiles are showering down in New York City tunnels, or that “welfare queens” use their paltry government checks to buy champagne and other aspects of the high life that good solid working folk do not enjoy. You used all the evidence you could muster to argue, actually, no, neither of these things are happening, or, if indeed there’s evidence of one such incident, it only means there’s one example of it, not the rule at all. But not only are you not believed, the person becomes more convinced that they’re right.

Indeed, limited-information people actually double-down in their belief in their fantasies when presented with evidence that they’re wrong. Social scientists call this the “backfire effect.” (No one, after all, likes discovering that they’re chumps played for suckers.) Blindly following Trump as they blindly believed Obama was a Muslim coming to take away their guns, such willful idiots are the foot-soldiers of Trumpism’s attack on democracy. They are their own willing executioners. To note that, at most, they’re 25% of the population is an understatement of the threat they pose to us all. And besides, there’s definitely some of this conspiratorial thinking across the spectrum.

“…but it sprang back to its former stubborn and unhandsome position like a bit of whalebone.”

3 Responses to “Thoreau Thursday”


  1. 1 Shannon March 2, 2017 at 8:14 am

    It’s refreshing to see that I’m not the only one who photographs and loiters bug sex. I like to think if the size was the other way around — male was bigger — it’d be room for the species. If I was her, I’d be ‘No way YOU’RE climbing on.’ So, it evolved the other way around. Yeah, okay. Probably the egg-carrying thing.

    Some male flies even snap it off inside her to prevent another male from later entry. Ouch.

    There is a book called ‘Hidden Brain’ that explains many of the unconscious things Trumpians do. Interesting stuff, though not excusable.

    • 2 mthew March 2, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      Absolutely not excusable. I have to admit a great sadness, though, for those who refuse to open themselves up to the world, to new ideas, or old ideas they could just be discovering. I live for the excitement of saying “I didn’t know that!” Who knew?” and so forth. The exploration of lifeforms and life strategies is spellbinding; it’s clearly never-ending as well. The study of history, another fascination of mine, continues to open my eyes, challenge old ideas, and make me question.

  2. 3 Shannon March 2, 2017 at 8:15 am

    ‘Doom’ for the species.


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