Friday, July 25, 2014

The Circle of Life

SAMBBITU and her Nana
A few days back TOF was recruited into a rescue expedition. The TOFish granddaughter formerly known as the SAMBBITU* had obtained discount tickets to Great Adventures park and was taking her boyfriend and her two young brothers to the park. Alas, she had gotten only a few miles into the wilds of New Jersey -- just past Exit 6 on I-78 -- when her car stopped running. This is always a bad sign, and worse when you are already driving it. She was able to pull over to the shoulder and coast to a stop. She sent up the bat-signal, and The Incomparable Marge immediately did her Thing -- i.e., helping people. She hopped into the TOFmobile, with TOF in the right hand seat, and headed for the scene. TOF was along because someone might need to stay with the car and wait for the tow while she drove everyone else to the theme park.
(*) SAMBBITU: Smartest and Most Beautiful Baby in the Universe.

But when the grisly scene was approached, the flatbed tow truck was already mise-en-scène and ready to haul car. TOF at this point proved superfluous and was seconded to ride back with the truck on detached duty. To get home from the auto repair shop, he would have to call Pere for a pick up.

TOF climbed into the cab -- Those steps are steep! -- and the driver, disinclined to go to the next exit when he was just past this one, pulled the truck up and over the curbs and down onto the exit ramp.

As we entered the curve, the circle of life -- the part they don't show you on The Lion King -- played itself out before us.

Raptor en rapport
© Will J. Sooter Sharpeyesonline, CA, January 2009
The streetlamps along the interstate are the goose-neck sort that arch out over the road. They provide a superb view of the terrain below and have become a favored stalking site for the local red-tail hawks. As we drove down the ramp, an aforesaid red-tail hawk swooped down across the ramp and into the grass on the left side of the road. It paused a moment, then with a beat of its mighty wings it soared once more into the air with something in its claws. Raptors-1, Vermin-0.

The ones TOF sees are always atop the
lamp itself, looking forward to a meal.
TOF has often seen these sentinels of pest control, perching statuesquely atop the ends of the lamp arms, but this is the first time he has seen one on the job, as it were.

The driver was a fan of the hawk, despite Disney-conditioning to root for the vermin. TOF suggested that he was much like the hawk, swooping in to pluck cars from the roadside. Except that the mice seldom called upon the hawks to come and get 'em.

The driver then ruminated on time travel (sic!) and opined that he would like to go back to a time when life was simpler and more hassle-free. The late 1970s or early 1980s! He settled on the Reagan years.

TOF, having spent time there himself, was grieved to inform him that the 70s and the 80s were not so simple and hassle-free. For one thing, there was disco. The driver accepted this philosophically, and allowed as there was no golden age. TOF thought silently that neither was there time travel. So among the many things that life does, it does not circle.


  1. But did the hawk disembowel and begin to consume its still-living prey? It's just not 100% circle of life compliant if not...

    Once caught a nature video of a wolf attempting to run down a baby caribou. The voice-over said that, so long as it kept its feet and kept moving, the caribou would most likely succeed in escaping, having more endurance than the wolf. The wolf, having evidently seen similar nature programs, proceeded, as far as it could, in making the caribou constantly change directions, the better to cause a slip.

    It succeeded. The little caribou fell. What happened next was somewhat unexpected: the wolf lay down with the caribou, lion and lamb style, one supposes. The pursuit had gone on for some time, and the terrified and exhausted caribou did not try to leap to its feet to escape - so the equally exhausted wolf decided to rest for a moment, too.

    And then the camera cut away. It's that disembowel your still-living (and small and cuddly-looking) prey that isn't so camera friendly. The only solution - I don't if they did this or not - is to show darling wolf pups, whose survival for another day had been secured by the caribou kill.

    So why, again, did Roseau and that crowd decide the state of nature was *better*?

    1. It was easier to romanticize because they were living at one remove from it.

  2. Joseph, hawks usually kill their prey by the force of their strike, so it's usually dead but nice & fresh when the hawk eats it. But hey, go wolves. Too bad it's Friday, or I'd be celebrating my own apex predator status at the moment.

    But speaking of being eaten alive and/or cute wolf pups, my copy of Brennan's "Thomistic Psychology" has arrived.....

    1. An old used copy? Or is it still in print?

    2. It's a printing of 1967. My library borrowed it via Interlibrary Loan. Copyright was last renewed in '68, so maybe Project Gutenberg will do it in a few yrs.

      It's pristine, borrowed from a Dutch Reform college in NW Iowa.

    3. Mine is a second printing, 1967. New when bought in the college book store. The teacher announced a the start that only God could achieve perfection and only Aquinas could score a 99, so the best we could hope for was a 98.

  3. I've noticed a distinct concentration of "Circle of Life" talk among apex predators and not so much among prey. It's always the lions, Mad Scientists, and eugenics types who give the grand speeches about it and never the zebra, experimental victims slated to be chopped up to make The Creature, or the members of the third world tribe slated for the next UN culling. I wonder why.

  4. I suppose that some species have indeed gone extinct in our lifetime, but I don't doubt that your experience is similar to mine. Did you see hawks perched along the highway when you were a kid? Last summer, driving home from a family reunion, we passed a doe nursing her fawn right along the shoulder of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Sandhill cranes and elk have re-established themselves here in Michigan, and coyotes and deer live inside the Lansing city limits. Somehow, the cleverer elements of nature are adapting themselves to man's presence. Although I think the ancient Greeks and Romans were onto something when they drove lions to extinction in Europe.

    1. I lived in south Texas for a time & it's a status symbol among monied ranchers to have rhinos. We drove past giraffes regularly and blackbuck antelope, which are quite attractive. Those were privately owned, not wild, but pretty happy in the climate. Emus went wild in Texas several decades ago--a major driving hazard for a while. But while I was down in S. Tx, a large, unidentified carnivore was loose for several months, killing cattle, dogs, and coyotes--very Hound of Horror, 'though no humans were attacked. The predator turned out to be an African lioness. It was eventually determined that a smallish travelling zoo/circus had "misplaced" a lioness while passing through the county and failed to report it. It was extremely not amusing--the Greeks and Romans were definitely on the ball, with great big dogs but no lions.

  5. Dear TOF,
    I know that is completely unrelated, but may you kindly indicate me a Catholic (or Christian, at least) blog (or something similar) on early Christianity? I can' find anything on the web. I already know Quodlibeta, which is however focused on medieval history , and Armarum Magnum, which is not Christian (not a bad thing itself of course, I'd just love a comparison).
    By the way, I am a 24 years Italian Economics student, who is deeply in love with your blog both for its philosophy and for its statistics and check it multiple times daily. We don't have many interesting Catholic blog in Italian (well, not only catholic)
    Thank you very much.

    1. Sorry. I don't know of any such blogs. Maybe someone else does? Anyone? Bueller?

  6. Well, I asked you as you seem pretty active in the field of "Catholic knowledge" ( I often read you also in dr. Feser blog). Any other source, of any kind, would be appreciated, as, as I can see, most early Christianity historian I managed to find on the web are more or less non-Christian at all, and I have a couple of questions. In any case, thank you for your attention, you have a tenacious reader also in Italy. Please write in your blog whenever you'll be around here, if ever.

  7. Jimmy Akin ( Various topics including early Christianity and the Fathers. Good on language issues.

    Mike Aquilina ( Not very active but good introductory information and books on the Fathers.

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf ( Various topics including the Fathers.

    Roger Pearse (, Evangelical Christian from the UK, good solid info, likes making public domain Fathers books widely available and having things translated into English.



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