People who dismiss the unemployed and dependent as ‘parasites’ fail to understand economics and parasitism. A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society.
—  Jason Read
One thing you notice very early on is that conversation is how we become human. The word “infant” literally means “without the possibility of phatic expression.” We begin our lives by being spoken to and then slowly by responding. It’s what makes us come together as a kindred species. Without this dialogue, without this possibility of exchange, part of our humanity — that which makes us truly human — is lost. So for me conversation is a way of going back to that initial moment. Conversation is a giving and a taking, back and forth.
— 

Paul Holdengräber, The New York Public Library’s interviewer extraordinaire, on the secrets of great conversation.

Couple with this timeless 1866 guide to the art of conversation

For Makoto who doesn’t talk about his fears,

Haru who doesn’t talk about his dreams,

Rin who doesn’t talk about his failures,

and Sousuke who doesn’t talk about his pain,

my heart is in a perpetual state of agony.

i told him i wasn’t worth it;
he told me it was a once in a lifetime chance
to chase a hurricane.
—  i’ve been compared to natural disasters; does that mean i’m damaging? (kml)

Canid Scent-Marking (or, Why Dogs Pee on Things)

I took a lot of pictures of dogs peeing on things for this article.

If you own a dog, have walked a dog, or just have seen a dog on TV, you have probably seen a dog peeing. Particularly that stereotyped male raised-leg posture that Luke is demonstrating above. (In this case, stereotyped refers to a fixed and repetitive set of movements, not a form of doggie-profiling.)

Dogs have a better sense of smell than we do. Heck, most mammals do; we just happen to be in a group- the simians- that ended up using vision a lot more than scent. At some point we more or less lost a means of communication that is absolutely fundamental to the lives of our hairy, warm-blooded cousins.

I’ve talked a bit before about how basic biological behaviors- such as sex or grooming or eating- can be co-opted by evolution to have a social meaning. For canids, urination has become a huge part of how they exchange information with one another.

We have a hard time studying this behavior because of our own limited sense of smell, and I think we are only beginning to grasp just how complex this scent-based communication can be.

I am about to tell you more than you ever wanted to know about dog pee.

Read more…

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