Wednesday, December 07, 2005

taxonomy 101

I need you to think back. Peruse your marbles and think back to when you were last in a biology class. Do you remember the section on taxonomy? I didn't remember the word itself, but I remembered memorizing this: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species. And they say that rote memory won't get you anywhere.

I googled it this morning and found that "taxonomy" is a fancy way of classifying things that we talked about in biology. If you don't believe me, see below. According to Wikipedpedia, taxonomy is:

Initially taxonomy was only the science of classifying living organisms, but later the word was applied in a wider sense, and may also refer to either a classification of things, or the principles underlying the classification. Almost anything, animate objects, inanimate objects, places, and events, may be classified according to some taxonomic scheme.

And, yes, my eager friend, there is a point to jogging your memory. Last night The Hater and I were eating supper with Little Brother and he ordered a pasta shrimp dinner. He's vegetarian. I've tried to argue with him before that shrimp are animals, but never succeeded in convincing him that he's still killing creatures to eat. It never goes anywhere. So last night I make a sly comment about it, again, this time saying if he wanted to argue with me like my coworkers did about fish not being animals we could pretend like I didn't even bring it up.

Apparently I hadn't shared another story about the brilliance of my coworkers:

This happened several weeks ago. There was a hawk outside scaring away the little birds from the feeders. My coworkers were not happy about it; they wanted the hawk to die. I said something about feeding the birds -- and that we shouldn't discriminate against the hawk just because he wanted to eat at the bird feeders, too. I may have said something about the circle of life and Darwin. If I did, it was purely to instigate an argument, but what happened was not the argument I was expecting.

Well, you can imagine how any Darwin comment would go over in Oklahoma...

I continued to a drop-jaw audience, of course All of God's animals need to eat. I don't think Jesus would want us to starve the hawk, do you? God loves all of his animals!

And then? And then I get into a figurative knock-down drag-out with people arguing with me that birds are not animals.

me: Of course birds are animals.
them: No, birds are birds, not animals.
me: But birds are a type of animals. Like horses. Or fish.
them: Fish aren't animals!
me: Yes, fish and birds are both animals. They're different classes of animals, but they both fall under the animal kingdom.
them: People from Tennessee need to go back to science class.
me: Are we really having this conversation? Is there a camera hidden behind that bookcase?
them: Fish are fish. Birds are birds. Animals are animals.
me: Okay, I'm not saying that fish and birds are mammals. That's different. But a mammal is an animal. It's included in the animal family with fish and birds.
them: (and note that them has now become my coworkers and the nice sick people that I take care of) You don't know what you're talking about.
me: I can't believe this.

Keep in mind that now everybody in the treatment room is involved with this conversation. They're all pointing their fingers and laughing at me because I said a bird was an animal, a fish was an animal. They're questioning my educaitonal upbringing. I'm wondering if I have been secretly moved to an alternate dimension.

And then, if that wasn't bad enough, they still occasionally remind me that birds aren't animals. I have chosen not to persue this argument any further, but I would be tempted to take a high school biology textbook to work with me if I had one available.

This was the story that I told to The Hater and Little Brother while we were waiting on supper to come. And their response? They emphatically agreed that birds and fish were both animals. The Hater mused that they'd probably think that people weren't animals, either.

That is my story. And the only proper ending is the lyrics to this song. If you don't like the idea of humans being animals, you probably won't like that link, either. That's fine, but don't try to argue with me that a fish isn't an animal.

If you've not heard stories about my coworkers before, you can go here, here, or here.


Syrgo de Enefaso said...

hello , my english is poor, but i find your blog and tell you is interesting

stay free

salutationes from Chili

genderist said...

Stay free. That's great advice!

nicole said...

Wow, after spending the entire day complaining about some people I have to work with, I now feel like the luckiest employee in the world!!!

Oh and just so you know, birds aren't animals.

Angry Dissenter said...

That is absolutely hilarious. It's also stunning that people are so amazingly stupid. And it's rock bottom jaw-dropping idiocy that they were making fun of you.

Good story. Your work stories always make me glad that I don't live in Uglyhoma.

HypnoKitten said...

Birds are animals until you roll 'em in batter and deep fry 'em - then they become MEAT.

Your co-workers would drive me to drink.

Tor said...

At least they understood what you were saying, and just didn't agree with you. I told a bunch of coworkers once that when it's a foggy day in winter, you want to fill your gas tank up so the moisture in the air won't freeze in your tank when it gets cold at night. They took this to mean that I had said that fog somehow siphons gas out of your tank. Sheesh.