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You call that a moose?
January 16, 2014 10:39 PM   Subscribe


 
I really enjoyed this. USA! USA! USA!
posted by crazy with stars at 11:21 PM on January 16


They've got some new science writer or something.

This one is good too, Who's Got A Pregnant Brain?
posted by saber_taylor at 11:24 PM on January 16


Thomas Jefferson Needs a Dead Moose Right Now to Defend America!

I was born to click on that link.
posted by LarryC at 11:27 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


I remember this being a topic in my "History of Human and Animal Relations" class in college, which was (I'm not kidding) the capstone class for my history degree.

Although at the time, I remember this also being framed in concerns about "size" and masculine endowment.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:43 PM on January 16


OK, now that I have read the article...

Good Lord, how can the author have missed the best part of the story?

Aware of the controversy and a man of science himself, Franklin invited the Abbe Raynal (a follower of Buffon), and an equal measure of Frenchmen and Americans to dinner. At some point in the evening Raynal (surely egged on by Franklin) laid out the theory of American degeneracy. Franklin sprang the trap. "Come, M. L' Abbe," he said, "let us try the question by the fact before us," and he invited the dinner party to stand. They did so. All of the Americans were strapping fellows, while the French were quite small, and Raynal himself "a mere shrimp." One observer noted "There was not one American present who could not have tost out of the Windows any one of perhaps two of the rest of the company."

Franklin was awesome.
posted by LarryC at 11:46 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]


Come, M. L' Abbe," he said, "let us try the question by the fact before us,"

I was expecting him to drop his pants after that...
posted by empath at 11:53 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


The next time some tea party twit starts going on about the Founding Fathers I am going to picture them measuring weasel taints and I will cackle wildly.
posted by elizardbits at 12:18 AM on January 17 [6 favorites]


Everytime I cross the border I get so confused by the lack of the metric system, but it makes sense now - you guys use the wave (weasel anus - vulva examination) system!
posted by mannequito at 12:47 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


"All of the Americans were strapping fellows, while the French were quite small..."

That's also the case today, although perhaps no longer a source of national pride.

The article touches on an American inferiority complex which has always been evident in the culture of overcompensation (biggest, best, first, greatest, free-est, etc.) which is part of the national identity.
posted by three blind mice at 2:02 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


If this isn't an Assassin's Creed mission, it should be.
posted by gingerest at 4:05 AM on January 17 [5 favorites]


Jefferson's moose campaign, Mooallem says, may seem like the story of a guy who doesn't know when to stop, who pushes too hard, like "an early American George Costanza" (from Seinfeld) who never quite convinces and can never calm down.

I read that and wept, realizing now that most of the internet population below the age of 16 has never had the enjoyment of watching Seinfeld on non-syndicated television. Those that were below the age of 16 that did get to watch it were probably pooping themselves - not just because they were 4 months old, but because it was so funny that even a four month old would routinely crap their pants laughing at Seinfeld.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:35 AM on January 17


> I was expecting him to drop his pants after that...

Knowing Franklin's proclivities and his social connections in France, he probably already had enough information to know whether that would be a successful backup strategy.
posted by ardgedee at 5:07 AM on January 17


American inferiority complex? I can see that, but isn't this also a story about a French superiority complex?
posted by Area Man at 5:10 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


This story would trickle down through the American consciousness until finally Hemingway would render it in aquatic form as The Old Man and the Sea.
posted by Naberius at 5:45 AM on January 17


Raise your hand if you thought this was going to be about Sleepy Hollow.

I seem to recall Buffon also took the relative lack of body hair on Native Americans as a sign that the continent produces nothing but weak, effeminate versions of things.
posted by The Whelk at 6:34 AM on January 17


Madison sent Jefferson a precise description of a local Virginian weasel, measuring all the parts — down to the "distance between the anus and the vulva."

And yet Weasel Taint Day isn't a federal holiday.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:25 AM on January 17


I already knew about this feud between Jefferson and Buffon from reading the awesome book, Founding Gardeners, by Andrea Wulf. If you have an interest in American history, ecology, or gardening, you should definitely read it.
posted by BlueJae at 9:06 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Madison sent Jefferson a precise description of a local Virginian weasel, measuring all the parts — down to the "distance between the anus and the vulva."

This is exactly the kind of ridiculous thing I'm always getting involved in. Jump into some bullshit argument on the internet and the next thing you know you're measuring a weasel's crotch.
posted by medusa at 10:03 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


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