Dinosaurs are what?

Over the years I’ve thought many things about dinosaurs. They’re big (mostly). They’re scary (usually). If I ever ran into one I’d probably simultaneously wonder if physics had been violated in some way and soil myself. And they are definitively cool.

So when some egg-headed scientician tells me that this:

is the same thing as this:

I get a little pissed off.

Over the years even friends have gotten scientists to email them and “prove” that birds are dinosaurs. Maybe cladistics says they are descendants of theropods, but theropods they ain’t.

Dinosaurs are rad. They were mean.

They were huge.

And they were weird.

Birds are barely any of those things. They may have scales. They’re definitely warm-blooded. Of course they have feathers. But they’re missing that crucial hip factor present in our friends the dinos.

Occasionally you get something cool like an eagle.

But most of the time you get something dumb looking.

Any time you get into thinking that the thing you came form it’s the thing you are, you get into trouble. We are not our parents and we’re certainly not squirrel-like animals hunting for insects through the pines. We may be descended from something like plesiadapis, but I have more ruthlessness in my little toe and more brains in my humongous skull.

So, yeah, next time someone tries to tell you birds are dinosaurs, feel free to call them out for being the dunderheaded nincompoop they are.

After all, running into this in the dark:

will never inspire anything near the feelings your amygdala would initiate if you met this at 1 AM:

Commander in Chimp?

According to the Constitution (of America) the president must be a natural born citizen, at least thirty five years old, and have lived in the United States for at least fourteen years. Mind you, these are the only qualifications stated. Nowhere does the Constitution clearly define what a “person” is. Could the government of the people, by the people and for the people include such people as chimpanzees, dolphins or parrots?

If a citizen has to be a person, then how do you define what a person is? The easiest way to describe a person would be that they are a member of homo sapiens sapiens; they have 46 chromosomes, and can breed successfully with other members of the species. We could add that they have the ability to think, reason and communicate. But, is this too narrow a definition of what a person is? There would seem to be beings who meet many of these criteria who cannot vote and beings who fail to meet some or all of these criteria who can vote.

It is known that chimpanzees share 98% of their DNA with us and that humans are just another great ape. But, at no time in history has suffrage crossed species lines (Caligula’s menagerie notwithstanding). Currently, the only voting standards are that one must be a citizen, aged 18 or older and a member of homo sapiens sapiens. This does not take intelligence into account at all and yet we often separate human and non-human animals by the ability to speak, communicate and reason.

America's Commander-in-Chimp

If a parrot, chimpanzee or dolphin can communicate and shows evidence of reasoning at the level of a human child, why should they be denied suffrage while a retarded human adult with a five-year-old’s mind is granted suffrage? Should they be denied personhood on the basis then of species? They do have different numbers of chromosomes, but then again not all humans have 46 chromosomes. Should we deny the vote to those with Klinefelter’s syndrome? After all, they have 48 chromosomes, the same number as a chimpanzee. But, species is not just chromosome number, actually most scientists would describe a species as an isolated breeding population. Yet those who are sterile or use birth control are not denied the vote.

Mind you, there have non-homo sapiens sapiens who did possess intelligence equal to us. Would a living Neanderthal or Cro Magnon be turned away from the voting booth simply because they do not belong in the exact same species as us? We can define “human” or “personhood” across species lines, so why then do we not define citizen status across species lines? If dolphins can be as intelligent as we are, why are they not granted suffrage that an equally intelligent human or perhaps a non-homo sapiens sapiens Neanderthal would likely be?

There are numerous non-human animals at least as intelligent as below-average humans. Many of these animals can communicate with us in abstract ways, they are self-aware, can use tools and think. Perhaps they are not as intelligent as anyone reading this article, but they are certainly more intelligent than many mentally impaired adults and imbeciles.

Now, another question arises; do non-human animals really understand the issues involved in the elections and in government? Well, they may not, but this is not a requirement of human voters. While there were, at times, literacy tests at the voting booths, currently literacy, and understanding of civics are not required of any human who wishes to exercise her right to vote. As governmental decisions affect human and non-human animals alike, we could in fact say that it is cruel to not grant non-human animals the vote, since laws may affect their very lives. Should they not have a voice?

True, non-human animals do not pay taxes, but are also no paid for the work they do. Plenty of non-human animals have jobs for which they are not compensated, so they can’t actually pay taxes. But this is irrelevant. Despite the popular idea of “no taxation without representation,” we rarely hear the converse “no representation without taxation.” But of course, paying taxes in not a requirement for voting.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution reads:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Historically, the Supreme Court has held that the amendment’s protections extend to such ‘persons’ as Exxon, Google or Sony, which now under U.S. law can be considered persons. Granted, a corporation cannot vote, but this does show that the U.S. government is willing to extend the constitutional person-hood to non-human entities.

So, what is preventing us from extending suffrage to non-human animals? Science recognizes that a human being is a member of genus homo, has 46 chromosomes, thinks, communicates and forms a reproductively capable population with others like it. And yet, voting privileges extend to beings or constructs that violate each and every one of these criteria while conversely denying the vote to beings who do meet quite a few of the criteria.

Why does suffrage work this logically inconsistent and unfair way? It is easy to see that it is our own human bias and species centrism and that discrimination against intelligent non-human animals has no real logical, biological or legal basis. Perhaps one day soon wise up and then we will have a Commander in Chimp.

You Can Become President!

How to become President.

1. Reinforce your message of change by throwing quarters in the audience at the end of every speech. Everyone loves a gimmick.
2. Be “folksy.”
3. Wear a blue sweater, it brings out your eyes.
4. Use your thirty seconds of debate time to do an interpretive dance about health care. Hey, it worked for Reagan.
5. When you go to a campaign stop, inform people that voting for you is an option they can take. Maybe even explain why taking that option would be in everyone’s best interest. In the long run, you know?
6. For some added flair, cover your face and bill yourself as the “Masked Candidate.” Offer to reveal your true identity only when elected.
7. Create colorful mobiles as a way to illustrate the importance of balancing the budget.
8. Remember that kissing babies is expected, but licking them just crosses the line into creepy.
9. Carry around a brightly colored noose to show that you’re tough on crime, but in a fun way.
10. While voters do tend to like a candidate who they perceive as tough and determined, it’s probably not a good idea to point out how many enemies you had murdered on your way to the governorship.
11. Wild claims such as “I can regenerate failing organs” or “Helium was my idea” can actually gain quite a few votes.
12. Leverage the possibility of hope. What we mean by that is make sure to throw the word hope into your speaking a few times. You might consider mentioning the future, too.
13. Try wearing a tank top. Well, everyone else is doing that oxford without a tie and the top button open look. Couldn’t hurt.
14. Make sure to have a crew of short-shorts-wearing Filipino cabana boys follow you around.
15. Encourage reading. Mention that your opponents haven’t done so yet. You were the first to encourage literacy. Being able to read is a good thing. That sort of stuff. Tell voters you have a secret reading program waiting to roll out. Folks like secrets.
16. Ensure all of your delegates arrive at the convention first. When a quorum is reached, start taking votes. By the time everyone else’s delegates show up, you’re the winner.
17. Have a pop-punk band compose a theme song for you. Nothing corny, but definitely catchy. If you’re of a religious persuasion, make sure it mentions “Him” and that the capitalization is obvious by the way the band sings. Everyone loves pop-punk.
18. Spend ten years adopting children of various ethnicities. Okay, we’re not sure about this one, but it just might work.
19. Promise anything. They won’t really remember later.
20. Try really hard.

Volume 456-BR8: Issue 12: Clauduary 2008


Axes & Alleys: The Twelth Branch of Government!


If you’ve ever noticed that instructions involving tabs always tell you to insert Tab A into Slot B, then you’ll know we’ve noticed that, too. How couldn’t we? Instructions, directions, edicts, proscriptions, prescriptions, directives, or whatever you choose to call them are of great interest to Axes & Alleys.
In fact, there’s an entire manual saved to a special folder on our office server detailing exactly how to write this page. This instruction set (or “procedure file”) was last opened on Vespril 29th, 1999. The IT department can’t tell us exactly who it was who opened it, but it was probably our intern Myra Levins since it was opened from the intern computer station.
Myra has been an intern at the magazine for over 15 years and, as is the usual process for such an occasion, we would like to dedicate this issue to her past and continued unpaid and, before now, unappreciated service. At 30 Myra can still collate with the best of ‘em and is certainly one of the hottest women to ever grace the Axes & Alleys offices.

Levins, here’s to you!


Delores R. Grunion

The Clauduary Cover Girl: Cassie Hack

cassie hack
Cassie Hack is the protagonist of the indie comic Hack/Slash.
As she is a fictional character, she has no real existence
and thus has no soul and only eight toes.

Volume 456-BR8: Issue 11: Maine 2007


Axes & Alleys: We Did What We Could!


Dear Readers,

What you are reading now is not the original month of Maine issue. No, unfortunately the editorial staff spent a wild evening out at the local watering hole and by the end of the evening we were so trashed that we accidentally left the galley proof at the bar. We thought about calling the next day to see if it were still there, or if someone had turned it into the lost and found, but we couldn’t do that because we were too embarrassed about what DJ Trickyfingers did to the dartboard. They’ll probably have to buy a new dartboard.

Instead, we just threw this new version of the issue together at the last moment before the deadline. It’s not as good as the issue should have been, but it’s okay, because we all had a really great time that night.

xxx ooo

Delores R. Grunion

The Maine Cover Girl: Aimee Echo

Azura Skye
Aimee Echo, of theSTART and
the unfortunately-named Human Waste
Project, is a Los Angeles-based person
who has noted the politeness of the
A&A Editorial staff.