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Monday, March 09, 2009

The Giant Rat of Sumatra

is not endangered "Sundamys infraluteus is classified as lower risk-least concern by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources."

One reason that the news is so depressing, is that good news is no news. I mean hear is this fairly rare species with an important role in literature which, if it were threatened with extinction, you would read about often. There is no problem, hence no news.

Another issue is that this perfectly normal animal has a bit of a sinister reputation. Absurdly it has been presented as a possible plague bearer, even though, of course, only the brown or roof rat bears plague. I think this is related to "on being the right size" and "Uncanny valley."

To our prejudiced and blinkered minds rodents are supposed to be small and investment banks are supposed to be huge. So we end up with banks that our too big to fail and avoid rodents which are too big to kill with traps which won't hurt us. All I can say is that I would rather share the world with a billion giant rats of Sumatra than one Citibank. The rats would consume a lot, but nothing compared to the value destroyed by giant mutant banks.

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