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   Undertoad  Tuesday Aug 28 01:48 PM

8/28: Dead Indian elephant



A sad one, this elephant was hit and killed by a bus in eastern India, and now here they are trying to remove it with a crane. The bus driver was also killed.



dave  Tuesday Aug 28 01:51 PM

feel bad for the elephant... how the hell do you hit one though? having never done it, i can't fathom actually hitting something that big. yeah, they can move fast, but you can SEE them from a quarter mile away. you'd think steps could be taken to not hit it. and the fact that the driver was going fast enough to kill himself AND the elephant... looks like tragic wreckless driving...



sapienza  Tuesday Aug 28 03:21 PM

It's hard to tell where the bus hit the elephant, though. Maybe he got rear-ended, though from this view it's hard to discern any trunk damage ...



Slight  Tuesday Aug 28 03:35 PM

Why are dead elephants more interesting than living ones? This dead elephant drew a big crowd and so did that one that was executed.



sapienza  Tuesday Aug 28 03:37 PM

Well, big animals are kinda interesting, and so are dead animals .... so big animal + dead animal == fascinating roadkill.

Plus, it's not something you see every day.



ndetroit  Tuesday Aug 28 04:35 PM

tony...

was the elephant wild, or domesticated? (forgive my ignorance of the way things are in india..)

How in god's name would a wild elephant find its way onto a bridge without causing quite a bit of ruckus?

Conversely, if it *were* domesticated, it looks as though the bus driver rear-ended it, as (and again my ignorance shows through) they drive on the left-hand side of the road in india, and so both the elephant and bus were going forward on the left-hand side.

That is some pretty brutal driving.



Undertoad  Tuesday Aug 28 04:44 PM

There was no other info from the source, which was the Yahoo! news services, so I don't really know what exactly happened.

Another amazing thing is the crowd of mostly children, watching the next step from 10 feet away. (Won't someone please think of the children!) In the US, the only way to watch would be to drive past at 15 mph, your head turned 130 degrees around, totally ignoring the driver in front of you.



Undertoad  Tuesday Aug 28 04:52 PM

Scratch that.



I did a search at Yahoo! News and here's another, sadder picture of the same thing. Along with more details: the accident, which also injured 20 passengers, happened at 4:30 am. There were actually TWO elephants killed, not just one, and their keepers were thrown off the bridge into the river. The elephants are used to carry logs across the bridge. The bridge is 2 miles long and the entire bus trip was 250 miles.



CyclopONE  Wednesday Aug 29 04:10 AM

I tell you, having grown up reading Babar stories, these pictures make me feel genuine grief. Somehow I think that elephants are the wisest of all land mammals (including monkeys/gorillas/chimps). To have one perish this way is like having a great person die under absurd circumstances.

Time for me to dig around for old Babar stories.

-Cyc



kisrael  Wednesday Aug 29 10:08 AM

Yeah, from what I've heard Elephants have a pretty advanced social life.

Sometimes I wonder... are we fooling ourselves in thinking these animals come near us on a cultural level, or is there a richness we're just too dense to get? On the one hand, humans are undeniabely unique on this planet, we have no evidence of any kind of meme transmission via artifacts in any other kind of animal, and while there seems to be some level of culture in some other mammals (esp. some primates) at best they are millennia behind us. On the other hand, well, who knows.

The idea of mammals that returned to the water is really amazing as well, like dolphins and whales. And to a certain extent, us; that might well be why we're the furless ape.



dave  Wednesday Aug 29 10:17 AM

"hey, dad, i, uh... i wrecked the bus."

"what? how the hell did you do that?"

"well, i, uh... i hit an elephant."

"you hit an ELEPHANT?!?"

"well... two actually."

even more absurd than i originally thought. they must have been going really fast... or the elephants had some serious osteoporosis...



Undertoad  Wednesday Aug 29 12:09 PM

k, I like to try to figure out how the social structure operates in my dogs. The two of them definitely have a vast unspoken (unbarked?) language, and one we're not privy to most of the time. Little things like glances mean a lot to them.

And then there's the humping. At night the humping begins. I have one boy dog and one girl dog, but it does't really matter; they're both "fixed", and humping amongst dogs is really showing domination.

But how sophisticated is it, really - because sometimes we play a game where I put my hand under a blanket and attack them, the hidden threat under the blankets. They love the game, but one of the things they try to do with the hidden threat is to hump it. Now, if there really was a hidden threat, of course you wouldn't want to hump it, you'd want to disable it at least.

To me this says that their pack behavior is instinctive and their urge to attack to disable or kill has been bred out of them. (Which is sorta what you want in a pet.)

On the other hand, the other question it brings up is how much of OUR behavior is biologically built-in. Like the handshake. Certainly the act of shaking a hand is learned, and cultural. But I wouldn't be surprised if there is an instinct to touch someone physically when you greet them - and the handshake is how we've culturally adapted.



dave  Wednesday Aug 29 12:29 PM

i spend a lot of time thinking about things like this. another good example - female breasts. some how, they turn men on. is it a cultural thing? is it instinct? there's a quote, "the only intuitive interface is the nipple - everything else is learned." so obviously the need to feed (on a nipple, as children) is instinct. but what about our fascination with breasts? why do they turn us on? what's different about touching a woman's chest instead of her hand or shoulder? is it learned, or instinct?



kisrael  Wednesday Aug 29 12:29 PM

It's damn near impossible to find out what behaviors are truely innate and which ones are just really strong cultural memes.

Wasn't there one of the Roman Emperors who was so convinced of the "it"ness of Latin he had some kids kept in total cultural isolation, punishment of death for speaking to them, because he wanted to hear them start speaking Latin... at least we're not THAT bad.



kisrael  Wednesday Aug 29 12:37 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by dhamsaic
i spend a lot of time thinking about things like this. another good example - female breasts. some how, they turn men on. is it a cultural thing? is it instinct?
Well, a bit of a counterpoint... when I was young, I remember hearing "oh yeah, the europeans have these nude/topless beaches, but you know, it's not sexual at all" and I assumed that was the case. Then I got a bit more informed about European culture in general, and it hit me that it's not that it's asexual per se, it's just that what sexual element is there is OK. Like, take are non-topless beaches, fine young nubile things in small swimsuits-- is *that* asexual for *us*? No, of course not (well, at least not for many of us), but it's generally culturally acceptable.

So in our USA culture, I'd guess it's a mismash of instictual sexual charge (breasts being signifiers of childbearingness and the like) and cultural constructs (they're usually hidden...which is part of my rabid fascination with nipples, I find myself justifying my breast interest with saying "I'm just curious what the nipples are like, since nipples have such variety".)

The weird "insinctual" theory I've heard is that breasts resemble, on some level, asses, and this helped make missionary style postion (which has certain other advantages) a little more natural. Or something.


ndetroit  Wednesday Aug 29 01:09 PM

Tony, (toady?)

I don't think that the handshake thing is an adaptation from wanting to touch. It originally started out because your right hand was where you held your sword, and your left hand your shield, and if you wanted to greet someone peacefully, you would sheath your sword and greet them. Incidently, right/lefthandedness is one of the reasons why we started to drive on the right side of the road. The problem was that people would be driving on the left, going on carriage or oxencart or whatever, and when they would go to whip the animals, it was with their right hand, which is difficult to do when there is someone quite close to you on the road, coming towards you on your right...

Anyways... case in point against touching being a built in greeting: bowing. Most asian cultures do it, and I'm sure there are other countries that have non-contactive greetings...




kisrael  Wednesday Aug 29 01:20 PM

Good point about the bowing. But about the left side / right side, ok, what about the UK and Japan? (wonder if some contrived explanation would be based on both of them being island countries.)



ndetroit  Thursday Aug 30 02:28 PM

According to an internet post that I found, all british countries drive on the left, and all french countries drive on the right.. The reason is that Napolean was left-handed, and thus, his armies marched on the right-hand side of him... (?)

http://www.ourworld.rapid.co.uk/goodluck.htm


Who knows... there's probably a million reasons..



alphageek31337  Saturday Sep 1 02:46 PM

More on left/right

Does anyone here remember a book called "Sideways Stories from Wayside School" by Louis Sachar? The one with the 30 story school where the principal decreed that you must walk up the steps on the right side, and down the steps on the left side?



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