Crabs, close encounters and miles per gallon

This horseshoe crab was photographed November 2010 at Hilton Head. It's soon to be the poster crab for a German biotech company's crab-friendly invention.
This horseshoe crab was photographed November 2010 at Hilton Head. It’s soon to be the poster crab for a German biotech company’s crab-friendly invention.

This email from Hyglos, a German biotech company: … we are interested in the picture of the horseshoe crab on your homepage. We invented an alternative for a popular pharmacological test kit, where the blood of horseshoe crabs was used and where these animals had to suffer by this treatment. With our invention for this test no horseshoe crab blood is needed any more. We would like to use your picture in our company movie to promote our new test where the horseshoe crab population can be conserved. May we ask for the permission to use this picture?

Yes, Hyglos, by all means. Stop the madness. God speed.


This email from a friend about a conversation he had recently with his father: (We) were out walking, ambling down a country road, when he casually mentioned that at this exact spot (“right THERE!”), some sixty-six or sixty-seven years or so prior, he and my uncle were walking back home from a fishing hole when they saw a bright orb about the size of a softball zinging along across a beanfield, shoot across the road  a few dozen yards in front of them, spin around, then head toward them within just a few feet and then zip on out back across the field and out of sight. It was towards evening, not yet dark, and they could clearly see that it was nothing they had ever yet encountered nor had ever conceived of … yet somehow this was something he never shared with me or my brother. He also told me about a neighbor of theirs, a sharecropper, who had taken his coon hounds out one evening and claimed he came upon some sort of craft deep in the woods … it terrified his animals and him so much that he literally never went hunting again.  

“Crap, Dad!!!” sez I….”how come I gotta wait until I am in my fifties before I hear about this stuff?”

So it goes.


Would somebody please explain to me what’s so exciting about the 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid’s 44 mpg highway rating? That’s exactly what my 2008 Honda Civic non-hybrid gets. No, not in the city, but very reliably on the highway. Two things come to mind …


Thing one: Washington Post blogger Brad Plumer’s January 5 entry claims that fuel economy “has barely budged since 1980″ because advances in engine design have been offset by increases in weight, horsepower and torque. He then passes along MIT economist Christopher Knittel’s cheery prediction that ” a fleetwide average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 should be technically achievable.” Really? It’s going to take us thirteen years to do that? (Why does the prospect of a moon base in my lifetime seem so dim all of a sudden?)

Thing two: The fact that my four-year-old gas-powered vehicle gets the same mileage as its latest, greatest hybrid descendent and that said mileage is touted straight-facedly as progress … Well, the Ministry of Truth never rests, does it?