Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Monitor Lizard; Plus, New Google Search

(Cross-posted at the Zoo Torah blog)

I recently acquired a new specimen for my forthcoming "Jewish Museum of Natural History." In the Torah's list of sheratzim - small creatures that transmit ritual impurity when dead - one of the creatures is called koach. According to some scholars, this refers to the monitor lizard. Monitors grow to be very large - the desert monitor in Israel grows to around four feet, while in other parts of the world monitors can reach ten feet or more. Accordingly, koach, which means "power," is a worthy name.

The monitor that I acquired is a Savannah monitor. Fully grown, it can reach 4-5 feet in length, but the one that I purchased is just a baby, no more than six inches long. He's incredibly vicious - when I open the cage, he jumps up with an open mouth and tries to bite - but when I hold him for a while, he calms down, and hopefully he will become tamer in due course.

Anyway, the day after I got him, I saw the following e-mail posted to the local Bet Shemesh mailing list:
Subject: Baby Monitor
Date: Wed May 9, 2012 10:07 am
Hi i am looking to buy or borrow a baby monitor from somebody. If anybody has one available please respond to this email.
Thank You, Yossi 
Wow, I thought, isn't that a strange coincidence? The day after I get a baby monitor, somebody else wants one! And why does he want one, anyway?

Then I realized that he wasn't looking for a baby monitor. He was looking for a baby monitor!

*   *   *

While we're on a light note, you might find the following amusing. Google has made some changes to its search engine; when you search for the name of a person, it now displays a picture, some biographical info, and also some pictures and names of associated people. This is what it displays for "Rabbi Slifkin":


  1. So, how do you feel about the people you are associated with?

  2. Is that a ruffed lemur you're holding in the Google bio pic? There's a picture of one in the current National Geographic.

    /pats self on shoulder

  3. What's with that picture of Leib Tropper - or do I not want to know that. Also, the related searches are based on what else people who searched "Rabbi Slifkin" searched for, so the results make sense if you think about it.

  4. Arie: If you don't know, you don't want to.

  5. I still can't figure out how Google selects which photo to display. The Tropper photo was not in the Wikipedia article or in the the first 10 pages in Google image search. (I searched for "Leib Tropper".)


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