Saturday, March 20, 2004

Why "The Bonassus?" 

According to Jay's Journal of Anomalies, advertisements went up in London in March 1821 offering the curious a chance to see The Bonassus: "A Newly Discovered Animal Comprising the head and eye of the elephant; the horns of the antelope; a long black beard; the hind parts of the lion; the fore-parts of the bison; is cloven footed; has a flowing mane from the shoulder to the fetlock joint; and chews the cud."

This fantastic beast, was of course nothing but an American bison, at the time "the most numerous hoofed quadraped on the face of the earth." Furthermore, bison were hardly unknown to the English populace at this point: in fact, a buffalo had been displayed as a curiosity on the same street 70 years earlier. Nonetheless, the Bonassus made a big splash, drawing audiences from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Jay notes that "The Bonassus, by all accounts, was presented to a public that had already viewed a buffalo but could be lured into parting with hard-earned coin to see a remarkable amalgam of animal parts designated by an unfamiliar name."

This blog aims to take the jargon-filled, academic-niche-oriented scholarship generated by economists and political scientists (surely a remarkable amalgam of parts designated by unfamilar names) and translate it into useful insights on current events. Hopefully this will lead to a better understanding of the political beasts we are all so familiar with already.

Also, "Bonassus" is a hilarious, slightly obscene-sounding word. Ultimately, that's probably a better explanation for why I chose it as the title of my blog.

UPDATE: This site has the lyrics to a nearly-incomprehensible (to me) traditional Northumbrian song called "The Bonassus." It also appears to have some political content, but the metaphor is lost on me. Let me know if you can help.

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