Political Issue: Ask A Beaver

They're surprisingly well organized.

They're surprisingly well organized.

Oh, that day I was plotting. Plotting AND planning, and I knew that I was going to need some help to get this chunk of the River back into prime shape for my favorite things in life (riversides and healthy ecosystems).

I'd need a prime mover and shaker. Well, I'd also need to keep people from fucking it up, but to do this whole thing right - I was going to need the aid of the mighty beavers.

Beavers aren't eusocial. I would say that no mammals are, but then I'd be lying, and I only lie when it's humorous or gets me out of trouble or serves to get me some personal gain. So, a lot of reasons, really. But - beavers aren't eusocial. They are mammals, though for Catholicism reasons you can totally eat them on lent! (All my readers are 17th Century Quebecois Catholics, by the way) There's a eusocial mammal - the grotesque and biologically amazing Naked Mole Rat.

Naked Mole Rats, by the way, don't get cancer. You hear people - people who are repeating a dangerous lie - say that sharks don't get cancer. This is not true. Sharks do. Naked mole rats don't. Yet people eat shark cartilage and pay good money for the privilege to endanger a species while gaining absolutely no benefit!

So am I suggesting that you go out there and start chewing on Naked Mole Rats? Yes. Chewing on them live is the only way to get the anti-cancer skin chemicals out of them. This is the only good advice Dr. Oz has ever given anyone.

But, back to beavers. By trapping water in slow-moving shallow pools, beavers prevent all the water from flowing quickly and picking up silt, which is deposited into rivers - on top of the poor mussels, including our prominent local mollusc theologians. The same water-slowing techniques decrease erosion - the process that carries valuable food-growing soil and throws it into the river like so much trash. The deposits laid down by beaver ponds are just the sort of topsoil the world needs.

These rapidly flowing waters also carry loads of biological material - nutrients for bacteria and algae, the true lords and masters of our planet. While I'm almost always in favor of more non-primate scum on the Earth, in a river or ocean or lake they'll take this explosion of nutrition and promptly explode their population. Exploding populations of this sort suck all the oxygen out of the water and kill all the fish, molluscs, and everything else. 

Beaver ponds, on the other hand, barricade these nutrients into shallow ponds, marshlands, and vernal pools, allowing water and nutrients to seep deep into the soil.

They live near the Pearl River, so I followed their trail of chewed sticks like some sort of gluten-free Hansel and Gretel until I found a beaver willing to be interviewed.

PRF: "Hi, and thanks for being interviewed. I understand you're secretive about your plans and dams."

Beaver: "The deal was we wouldn't talk about the plans. You know that."

PRF: "I know. We're not. Anyway. So, on the subject of politics."

B: "Yeah, now that I can discuss. One of the things I find most fascinating about human politics is how rarely you all make dams. You get all together, get big groups with tools, and then instead of blockading waterways - you kill each other."

PRF: "I mean, sometimes, we build dams. We've built some damn big dams. Big ones! Change-of-Earth's rotation big!"

B: "Yeah, but where's the art? The improvisation? Sometimes when we can't get enough wood, we use stones! Stones, man. You can't chew stones!"

PRF: "I will chew anything you allow close enough to my teeth."

B: "That's my line! I'm the chewing one, you son of a bitch! I'm the chewer. I chew bark, I pull bark off of trees with my teeth and I eat that shit! That is what I eat! I eat it with my teeth! Tree bark! Do you have any idea what kind of digestive system you need to digest bark? You don't, do you?"

PRF: "I will admit that beaver digestive tract anatomy is not something I know a great deal about."

B: "This is just like your primary system in Mississippi. You try and pick the guy that might not be the worst to run against the guy that probably is, and nobody's on watch, nobody's sounding the alarm when the dam gets topped, and then all the water runs out, and now you're left with the water level lower than the entrance to your lodge. Then what do you have, Jerome? You've got goddamn coyotes in the house, eating your pups!"

PRF: "Sir, that is an adept metaphor for the situation, I feel. You are as astute as you are hardworking."

B: "You know, I don't even work that hard. Way to stereotype all of us. Speciesist. I bet we all look alike to you, don't we?"

PRF: "I mean, humans have the ability to recognize other human faces, but beavers, well..."

B: "That's what I thought. I bet you don't mix up your precious little dogs. Or those evil little fur-ball things with the claws...."

PRF: "Cats."

B: "There you go again."

PRF: "Well I do know plenty about your anal glands. They contain a..."

B: "I know what my anal glands contain, buddy. Weren't you coming here to talk about politics?"

PRF: "Oh, right. Yeah. Look, so I've talked about some of the challenges our local swamp here faces. Some rich assholes want to turn it into a lake, others want to ruin part of it with a marina that hooks to a lake, because you know - we always need a place for yammering uppercrust twits to park their goddamn boats."

B: "Are the boats made out of wood?"

PRF: "No, not usually. And there's no bark, anyway."

B: "Shame. But yeah, we should get organized. Maybe if you were on that Twitter thing everyone's talking about?"

PRF: "Oh man, you should totally follow us on Twitter!"

B: "We're doomed, aren't we?"

PRF: "I think that beavers may actually outlast humans this time. Maybe you'll be the next species to go sentient."

B: "Hrm. Any tips?"

PRF: "Nah, we'll have used up all the fossil fuels at that point, so, uh, just dig down and get plastic out of the ground, I guess? It'll be like a natural resource for you guys."

B: "Well, just keep throwing it in the goddamn river, then."

Interview With Mollusk Theologian

Several preeminent mollusk theologians. They're the best because they remove bullshit from their environment.

This morning while I was bathing in the filthy river, I got some news from a local source, the oft-estimated (and sometimes measured) Tom Head, regarding one of the chief asshats of our time: Ken Ham.

Ken is a Young Earth Creationist, the President of the surprisingly unrecursive “Answers in Genesis” organization. They publish a website, have billboards, mobile apps, and a museum in Kentucky, all despite the fact that the only worthwhile questions for them that I could derive were “Sega (Blank)?” and “Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins.?”

And while the concept of a Universe only 6 thousand years old is so mind-blowingly ignorant (don't tell the Natufians) that racoons don't even believe it, somehow people – even smart people – bother with this daft twit.

Of his concern now is the religion of aliens we have not found. Ole Kenster asks the question: “If there were Vulcans or Klingons out there, how would they be saved?” which is precisely the sort of question humanity invented theologians to answer.

However, why limit oneself to human theologians? Or even bipedal Vulcan and Klingon philosophers? The Klingons rather famously murdered their gods, and therefore don't have much to add. If there is alien life out there, it's bound to be more foreign to us than apes or chimpanzees or dolphins, and the sermons of Reverend Bobo never involve space aliens.

That leaves us with few options to get to the bottom of this entirely unimportant question.

Fortunately, dear reader, you have me. I know a bank of the wisest mollusk theologian-philosophers that the Southeast can host. While few humans can translate their language of scents, gurgles, and water sprays, I can bravely go and soak my head to learn their secrets. Here I will baselessly assert that mollusks are different enough than humans, therefore their finest and most learned minds are alien enough to allow us wild assumptions on the nature of extraterrestrial spirituality,

Here, then, is my interview with Bertrand Mussel, the bivalve theologian.

PRF: "So, you're a freshwater bivalve mollusk who delves into the deep and abiding mysteries of spirituality and religion as it pertains to mollusks?"

BM: "Sorry, I was just filtering some phytoplankton there. You humans keep dumping fertilizer into the river, so it goes nuts. It's a good thing we're down here, or else the Gulf of Mexico would be a huge mess, right? Ah, good times, good times. Anyway, yes, that's me. That's what I do."

PRF: "Yeah... anyway. What are your views on salvation and redemption of non-mussels?"

BM: "The Bivalve Bible teaches us that all who are born in the gills of fish are capable of redemption, so long as their siphons are longer than the sediment in which they dwell."

PRF: "Well, that doesn't sound so good for us humans."

BM: "You did murder most of us in the river by covering us in silt."

PRF: "Well... hang on, let me see if I can make sense of what Ken Ham's getting at here."

BM: "You can't."

PRF: "No, wait, okay... So, oh, wait he's saying that if you're not a descendant of Adam, you can't get saved by Jesus."

BM: "Why would I need that? I was born from the gills of a fish."

PRF: "So if aliens were born from fish-gills?"

BM: "Then they're in! I have it on word from Clam-Pope. "

PRF: "What about the ability of clams to read the human bible and come to their own conclusions?"

BM: "We lack the detailed light-sensing organs. However, I did let an intern read it to me aloud."

PRF: "You have interns?"

BM: "That's not the point. The point is, according to what she read me, you humans consider us ...unclean."

PRF: "And are we unclean according to the Bivalve Bible?"

BM: "Yes. You and racoons are the worst. We've even gone and made sure that if you were born of the gills of a fish, and had long siphons, you couldn't get into Bivalve Heaven."

PRF: "Well, I guess we'll get back to you when someone finds god or aliens and gets some straight answers on this whole 'creation' kerfluffle. Until then, readers..."


Election Interview: Blue Heron, Jackson, MS

"We" interviewed this blue heron, asking her about the upcoming Senate race between Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel

This is an interview between the staff of Pearl River Flow and an adult female blue heron we found fishing in the bayou between the levee and 1-20, at the end of Pearl Street. Names have not been changed to protect the Ardeidae, which is not an endangered species, and is quite common.

PRF: "So, you're a large bird with a long neck and legs that makes her living fishing in shallow water with a harpoon-like beak. Do you think that your ambush style of predation really fits in with either candidate?"

Blue Heron:  "Well, I have to say that in a lot of ways I'm quite conservative. The first heron-like birds showed up in the fossil record about 45 million years ago - it was after the dinosaurs got real small, like I think government should be. But it wasn't until the Miocene era that we really got our "feet in the water," if you get the joke there."

PRF: "I didn't realize you were joking. I'm so sorry. So, which candidate takes up issues most important to you?"

Blue Heron: "Well, I'm pretty big on the issue of crustaceans and small fish in shallow, evaporating pools. That's kind of my thing. I hear that McDaniel sometimes goes to shallow pools and thrusts his face into the mud, opening his outsized beak at the last moment to grasp his prey, before tossing it down his throat whole."

PRF: "I'm pretty sure Chris McDaniel doesn't do that."

Blue Heron: "Are you?"

PRF: "...no. But I'm sure he doesn't have a beak."

Blue Heron: "Well, on the other hand, Senator Cochran was in the navy. I'm a navy woman myself."

PRF: "I didn't know that. How do you feel about military spending?"

Blue Heron: "I'm sure it's a reflection of some sort of insecurity. Both candidates seem dead set on it. For McDaniel, it probably has to do something with his immense age."

PRF: "For the record, Heron, Mr. McDaniel is almost half the age of Senator Cochran."

Blue Heron: "Oh. Well. You all live too long anyway. He's what, 90?"

PRF: "Mr. Cochran is 76."

Blue Heron: "No, the other guy! Sweet mother of egrets, can people live to be 76? How old is McDaniel? 75?"

PRF: "According to our records, he was birthed in a nightmarish conglomeration of blood and ichor a mere 41 years ago."

Blue Heron: "I'm so glad I lay eggs."

PRF: "So, who will you be voting for in the runoff?"

Blue Heron: "Oh, I can't vote."

PRF: "On account of you being a bird? Why, that's speciesist, specious, and outrageous! I won't stand for it! None of evolution's beautiful creations deserves to be left out of the decision-making process in the most powerful nation on Earth!"

Blue Heron: "Oh, no, it's because I don't have a valid ID."