Thursday, November 7, 2013

Here come the Elephants !!

[Update 5 March 2015]
[From wire services:] The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will phase out the show’s iconic elephants from its performances by 2018, in the face of growing public concern about how the animals are treated.
[From Dr J.]  Actually, of course, they are treated like kings.  They are the star of the show.  No-one shoots them for their tusks, as regularly happens in Africa.  The "concern" is not that of the informed public, but of those who get their jollies  being holier than thou.

[Update 28 February 2015]

Musaylima imitated the early style of the Koran  with ludicrous effect, if we may judge from the sayings ascribed to him, e.g.  “The elephant, what is the elephant, and who shall tell you what is the elephant?  He has a poor tail, and a long trunk:  and is a trifling part of the creations of thy God.”
-- R.A. Nicholson, A Literary History of the Arabs (1907)

[Update 753 B.C.]

The Romans were terrified by their first encounter in battle  with elephants, which untrained horses  will not face.
-- H.H. Scullard, A History of the Roman World, 753 to 146 BC (1935; 4th edn. 1980), p. 142

[Update 12 May 2014]  You have probably been wondering, "Hmmmmmm .... How do you say 'bell-bottoms' in French?"   Wonder no more!   (From Wikipedia:)

Le pantalon patte d'éléphant, pantalon patte d'eph, ou simplement pantalon à jambes sont un type de réduction importante des genoux vers le bas. Ils sont aussi appelés pantalons à pattes (à partir de leurs anglaise Bell-bottoms), ou pantalons twist.

Alors, mes copains:  portez donc les pattes d'eph en tout bonheur ...

[Update 27 Feb 2014]  Elephant empathy!

Even the big guys  sometimes need a hug ...

[Update 7 Nov 2013]  Right now I'm enjoying a refreshing beverage called Chang beer, a product of Thailand.   Simply as a beer, it's nothing special;  but the elephants in the logo are wonderful.

Even though she does not drink beer, my wife agrees that these are pretty special elephants.   Since we don't know their names, we refer to them simply as "the elephant on the left" and "the elephant on the right".  You can tell they are friends by the way they are looking at each other.

After much discussion, we agreed that I would identify with the elephant on the right, and she with the one on the left.  When we die, it would be nice if we were both reincarnated as elephants:  then I could marry her all over again as an elephant, shyly stroking her gigantic ears with my nice trunk, by way of proposing.
Such thoughts help keep our marriage strong, after all these many years.

[Update 11 January 2014]  Oh noes!  Thai beer mired in controversy !!

Chitpas Bhirombhakdi, 28, the beer heiress, was quoted last month in a widely circulated article saying that many Thais lack a “true understanding” of democracy, “especially in the rural areas.”

Elephants sez:   That Singha Beer, not Chang Beer!  Sound same, but different!  No boycott Chang!

['Nother update]  OK, here's another one, hopefully  less controversial.

~   ~   ~

[Update 28 April 2013]  Welcome to Tupelo, Mississippi,  where the local folkways include popping a cap into elephants:

"Tupelo is a kaleidoscope," said sociologist Mark Franks, who grew up in nearby Booneville. There are true geniuses walking the streets of Tupelo, he said, and incredibly wealthy, generous people. But also, "every wall-eyed uncle and 'yard cousin' — just referencing the local pejorative — makes it into Tupelo, Miss. It creates a peculiar culture."
Tupelo is best known as the hometown of Elvis Presley, after whom it has named streets, waterways and dry cleaners.
Unlike many other Southern towns its size, it boasts several excellent museums, street art and a large public arena. An arena large enough, in fact, to attract the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus this month. That's when someone shot Carol, a circus elephant, in what seems to be the first elephantine drive-by ever. Carol is recovering, but Tupelo Police Capt. Rusty Haynes said his investigation has stalled. "Because, to be honest, there are a lot of possible perpetrators.",0,2510068,print.story

[Update 10 April 2013]  Today's bonus pachydermal political cartoon, from David Horsey of the LATimes:

A propos of not very much, here is this morning’s news about elephants.

(0) In a report that startled the worldwide zoological community, the International Pachydermal Society has released a study proving conclusively that lady elephants experience not the slightest Penis Envy.

(1) Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars and Profits

[Update 9 Feb 2013]
Over the past eight years... 11,000 elephants have been killed by poachers in the western African state of Gabon.

[Update 12 Feb 2013]
Surging demand for ivory in China has been well publicized. But the publicity has overlooked the cause: The same international body that enacted a 1990 global ivory ban allowed China in 2008 to import ivory. This catastrophic reversal can be counted in carcasses — elephant and human.

[Update 2 March 2013]
Chinese investors have anointed it “white gold.” Carvers and collectors prefer the term “organic gemstone.” Smugglers, however, use a gruesomely straightforward name for the recently harvested African elephant tusks that find their way to this remote trading outpost on the Vietnamese border.
“We call them bloody teeth,”

[Update 17 March 2013]  Boy, this is becoming a regular NYTimes obsession!  Here's the latest:

[Update 19 March 2013]  Alright, New York Times, we get the idea !

[Update 31 March 2013]  OK, this is just weird:
Un homme a été interpellé après avoir tenté de sectionner la défense de l'animal, au Muséum d'Histoire naturelle de Paris.

(2)  Jevver notice how, in editorial cartoons, elephants appear around fifty times more frequently than do donkeys?  The following is a rare exception:
[Cartoon by Tom Toles]
It's not that the Republican Party is so much more interesting than the Democrats;  it's that elephants are so much fun to draw.

(3)  Bonus statue:
Ganesha, the wise

*     *     *
~ Commercial break ~
Relief for beleaguered Nook lovers!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled essay.

*     *     *

(4)  Charles Cotton (1630-1687), on a summer evening:

The shadows now so long do grow
that brambles  like tall cedars  show;
molehills seem mountains, and the ant
appears a splendid elephant.

Bibliographical scholium:   The published versions of this familiar poem  are based upon a corrupted manuscript, and contain the line “appears a monstrous elephant” -- an obvious absurdity.   We have restored the corrected reading, printed here for the first time.
(5) [Update 7 Nov 2012]
Woolly mammoth discovered in the area of Paris:
Un mammouth laineux ? Un mammouth à moumoute, alors.

(6)  [Update 30 Dec 2012] Nepal's Elephant Festival
Buff pachyderms play an exhibition soccer match

(7) A quotation from one of the world's best books:

It is by reason of dynamical  rather than of statical relations
that an elephant  is of graver deportment  than a mouse.
-- D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, On Growth and Form (1917)

(8) [Update 4 Jan 2013]
Brigitte Bardot : «Je ne supporte plus la France»
l'ancienne actrice jusitife son désir d'obtenir la nationalité russe, pour protester contre le sort de deux éléphantes bientôt euthanasiées.

(9)  A Moral Tale

Historians relate, that in the year of the Hegira such-and-so, a Berber student Yahya ben Yahya, then but twenty-eight, traveled from Spain to Damascus, to study under the celebrated Malik ben Anas, author of that classic of Islamic jurisprudence al-Muwatta`.  It was the year in which the domestic tranquility was disturbed by an unprecedented visit of those land-leviathans   known elsewhere as the Elephant  but not previously seen in those quarters.  The students were sitting within, at Malik's feet, when the cry went up, "Here comes the elephant!"  A pounding of feet and an outrush; but when the dust had settled, there sat Yahya still.
            "Why," asked the legist, "didst thou not go out with thy fellows, to see the prodigy?  Such animals are not to be seen in Spain."
            To this the youth replied:  "I left my country that I might learn from you and find guidance.  I did not come here to see the elephant."

Haec fabula docet:
            Little did Yahya know that the prodigy which there passed, was none other than the lord Ganesha, Elephant-headed god of wisdom; nor would the god pass that way again until many centuries, under the incarnation of Babar.   Those who that day witnessed the great beast raising dust from the road, his ears like sails, his trunk like the scroll of the Judgment, were forever transformed, and led lives of wonderful strangeness; while Yahya dug ever more fruitlessly, mole-like, in the dust of dry legalisms, until at length his life crumbled like a dry parchment.

Chesterton liked to imagine that God has a sense of humor…. jokes like the pelican, the hornbill, the elephant.
-- Martin Gardner, Are Universes Thicker than Blackberries? (2003), p. 128

The pelican, the platypus, are very good jests indeed.  But the elephant -- ahh, the elephant! ! !

(11)  Elephant eyeballs !!

(12) For a (linguistically quite erudite) essay, that touches upon the matter of Piglet and the Heffalump, click here:

(13) [Update 3 Jan 2014]  Re Charlemagne:

When home from is foreign wars, he spent most of his time traveling… He was accompanied, after 802, by an elephant, presented to him by Caliph Harun al-Rashid.
-- Morris Bishop, The Middle Ages (1968)

(14) [Update Aug 2014]   Sad facts from Africa ... and a squeee image of a baby elephant nursing on a bottle.

(15)  Bertolt Brech, “Herrn K’s Lieblingstier”:

Als Herr K. gefragt wurde, welches Tier er vor allen schätze, nannte er den Elefanten, und begründete dies so:  Der Elefant vereint List mit Stärke.

     Over the breast   of her dark dress
     five small elephants   were marching
     towards an unknown destination.

[Source:  Michael Arlen, The Green Hat (1924); edited slightly metri causâ]


For a logicopolitical essay starring Babar, the Elephant King, click here:

For more swell stuff about our bulky friends the elephants, click here

For more from our well-dipped pen:

No comments:

Post a Comment