The Virtues of Vultures


Do you find vultures “revulting”? In a Slate essay titled “Vulture World,” Constance Casey tallies up the virtues of vultures:

vulture-in-profile1What would happen without them? The major vulture news of the last decade gives a clue. A mysterious die-off of Asian white-backed vultures has led to a pileup of domestic animal carcasses and an increase in the population of rodents and feral dogs. It turned out that an anti-inflammatory drug—diclofenac—used on sick livestock kills vultures even in low doses. Though the Indian government is phasing out the veterinary use of the drug, the vulture population hasn’t rebounded. One social consequence has been that members of the Zoroastrian Parsi community, who have used vultures to dispose of human corpses, now have to cremate their dead. But that doesn’t solve the problem of animal carcasses in a vulture-free world. Let’s be grateful the turkey vultures are keeping us from being awash in dead raccoons.

Click here for the complete story. The bottom line is, these birds not-of-prey perform a vital service in the economy of living and no-longer-living things.

The instincts and capacities of vultures should invite questions about how the mechanism of natural selection explains their evolutionary emergence. Did they evolve out of a need for there to be garbage disposals that would spare the animal kingdom from life-threatening disease?

A brief list of sources on vultures:

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Reasons to Like “The Pink Panther 2”


posterpink-panther-2There are reasons to like The Pink Panther 2:

  1. John Cleese plays Chief Inspector Dreyfus.
  2. Steve Martin does onscreen physical comedy better than anyone else around.
  3. The film pokes fun at political correctness, in the form of uptight, and ultimately hypocritical, Lily Tomlin as Mrs. Berenger.
  4. The Andy Garcia character, Vicenzo, actually says, in dumbfounded awe, that Jacques Clouseau really is the greatest detective in the world. This is a positive step away from typecasting for Garcia.
  5. You can’t help laughing at a goodly number of the gags.

On the downside:

  1. This is slapstick comedy, hardly fashionable among today’s movieviewers, known for their refined taste.
  2. John Cleese doesn’t do paranoia as well you as would expect.
  3. Steve Martin is a greater talent than these films can demonstrate.
  4. Casting Yuki Matsuzaki as Kenji, Aishwarya Rai as Sonia, and Alfred Molina as Pepperidge is half of what’s wrong with this movie. John Cleese would have been a better Pepperidge (a virtual reprisal of his role as “Peasant 3” in Monty Python and the Holy Grail). Lily Tomlin would do as a Dreyfus stand-in. I mean that. Let Aishwarya play Mrs. Berenger (if there has to be a Mrs. Berenger). Maybe someone who looks more like Angelina Jolie than Aiswarya should be cast for the Sonia part (pretty crucial to the film, in more ways than one). Who then? How about Angelina Jolie? Jackie Chan, however old he is, makes better sense as Kenji.
  5. You can’t even make yourself laugh at a goodly number of the gags.

What did you think of The Pink Panther 2?

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