Saturday, November 22, 2014

A whale of an argument remains unresolved

Have you ever been involved in an argument that ended unsatisfactorily and then lingered in your mind, maybe for years, unresolved? This post is an attempt to resolve one of those. It came up as a memory after seeing this item about sei whales on Facebook the other day.

Sei whale photo by Christin Khan on the Mission Blue FB page.
The Sei Whale is the THIRD LARGEST baleen whale and one of the FASTEST of all cetaceans: it can sprint up to 50 kilometers per hour! They're also ENDANGERED, having been hunted to near extinction during humanity's whaling days. (Japan still hunts them, by the way.) – From the Mission Blue Facebook page.

It began off the coast of California a couple of days out from San Francisco Bay. On a dark gray afternoon we spotted a whale resting on the surface several hundred feet from the boat. The visual silhouette indicated one of the larger baleen whales, the long back with an unnaturally small dorsal fin in the rear third of the body. From experience, looking at it, I guessed a fin whale or a sei whale while others on the boat said it was a blue whale, one outside my experience.

In time and very authoritatively two people decided it was a blue whale and that was that. At the time to a younger person I suggested it could be a fin whale or a sei whale. One of these two authorities overheard me and said it could not be sei whale and I was dead wrong.  Now I hadn’t said it was definitely a sei whale, the way this former friend had decided it was a blue whale.  I just said it could have been and just as easily could have been a blue or a fin whale. No, it cannot be a sei whale, he said.  Why not, I asked. To that he said this wasn't sei whale habitat.

Sei whale range from the American Cetacean Society
Now, I knew better than that. Years earlier a friend and I had had almost the same discussion. We saw a similar whale from a boat I was operating in Alaska waters and most people identified it as a fin whale, but this one fellow suggested it could be a sei whale. I had never heard of sei whales, so I looked them up. What I learned was they have the same shape and almost the same size as a fin whale, averaging only about five feet shorter.  According to my source book, they are very difficult to differentiate from fin whales and the only way is in how they hold their tail flukes when they dive. Also according to that book, A Sea Guide to the Whales of the World by Lyall Watson, sei whales are found throughout all the world's oceans except the extreme Arctic and Antarctic waters.

None of that mattered to this guy who in front of a whole bunch of people told me I was wrong and to boot, stupid for thinking what I was thinking. At one point he said he didn't think sei whales went into Prince William Sound, a place we both had sailed in, but was about 2,000 miles north of us at the time. But then in frustration to my not bending down in homage and agreement he said very authoritatively that he had spent years in the Antarctic and there were no sei whales there. What that had to do with whales in the mid latitudes I don't know, but by that time I was embarrassed and fed up. I told him I didn't care if he had spent years on the moon, sei whales certainly could be where we were and this could have been a sei whale, and walked away. There comes a time when you just have to cash in your chips and get out any way you can.

Still that argument has lingered in my mind for the four or so years since it happened and every time I see the mention of a sei whale it comes up. I guess what bothers me is that this person who has since lost my friendship, had so little disregard for me or my knowledge or intellect that he could tell me in front of a bunch of people we barely knew that I was ignorant and stupid. I did eventually tell him he was wrong about sei whales but I never said absolutely that this whale was one, only that it could have been one and that he and others had identified it as a blue whale because they wanted it to be blue whale. They had wished it so.

In the long run it is silly and immature to let oneself be dragged into such an argument and to let that argument linger as anger in the psyche for so long. Perhaps just venting here will help let it go. And by the way, I will brook no arguments over this post; as they say on Facebook, LOL.

And perhaps for those who have read this far, you are now aware of yet another species of great whales endangered on the high seas.

I guess the southern tip of Chile doesn't count as being near Antarctica

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Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve