Thursday, March 22, 2007

Penguins have no navels (updated)

I actually stumped Google with this one.

First, please endure a few parenthetical paragraphs to set this up. About a quarter century ago, I used to participate in the annual Lawrence University Trivia Contest, which went on for 50 consecutive hours starting at 10:00:37 p.m. on a winter Friday night, until midnight on Monday morning. The contest consisted of the sometimes addled broadcasters on the campus radio station (WLFM) asking a series of questions concerning matters that most would consider trivial. An example:

Q. What is the state muffin of Minnesota?
A. Blueberry

Things have changed dramatically for the contest now that the internet has made researching the obscure significantly easier, but people continue to play. I personally enjoyed playing trivia so much that I helped to start a similar contest at my alma mater, Beloit College. Other schools in the Midwest (St. Cloud State, UW-Stevens Point) also have similar contests.

One distinctive feature of the LU contest was their longtime propensity to play strange, Dr. Demento-esque songs throughout the contest. One that I particularly remember was titled “Penguins have no navels,” which detailed in song a few points about the physical features and overall morphology of these always amusing seabirds. A sample, quoting from memory:

They have no navels so they can slide on their bellies
At speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, per hour
And that’s pretty fast
Julius Ceasar wearing argyle socks, oh yeah

I have to quote from memory because I was not able to get Google to cough up the lyrics of this song, to say nothing of the performer, writer, etc. But now that I’ve raised the topic, future historians of the phrase will have the opportunity to cite this esteemed online outpost as the “go-to” source.

So, what does this have to do with anything? Believe it or not, my real topic is Amy Klobuchar a/k/a Senator Hotdish. And part two follows below.


Penguins have had a pretty good run lately. The charming documentary film “March of the Penguins” was an unexpected hit in the United States in 2005. Last year the Disney factory coughed up a film called “Happy Feet” featuring a penguin who channels tap dancer Savion Glover and preaches against global warming. And, as always, penguins are favorites of schoolchildren everywhere, including a certain daughter I have.

But are they drowning because of global warming? Amy Klobuchar thinks so. In her remarks on Wednesday prior to meeting the high priest of global warming, Al Gore, she relayed that she encountered a crying 8 year old girl from Roseville who was worried about penguins drowning because of global warming.

Now, we’ve all heard about the drowning polar bears, which are apparently headed for extinction in the next few days because the planet is heating up so fast. But I hadn’t heard about penguins drowning before.

If you Google the topic, you get articles from, a somewhat fanciful lefty website, mentioning that penguins may be migrating from one part of Antarctica to another. Perhaps they are drowning in the move, but I doubt it, since Penguins are among the best swimmers in the animal kingdom. Now I don’t know of too many 8 year old girls who read; good thing, too, because it would be prima facie evidence of child abuse.

So what are to make of this? I can think of a few things. First, for someone who promised to “change the tone” once she reached Washington, it seems that our Amy has succeeded. The former holder of her seat, Mark Dayton, was a wide-eyed loon. She is apparently auditioning for a seat on “The View.” That’s a change, all right.

Second, it’s clear that Amy would rather exploit the ignorance of children rather than instruct them. She could have assured this fretful Roseville girl that the penguins are not drowning, but instead she decided to use the story as a talking point. That’s not changing the tone at all, of course.

Finally, it would be nice if someone, anyone, in the Minnesota news media would have at least mentioned this little exchange. Michele Bachmann, the new 6th District CD representative, recently was skewered repeatedly for some ill-informed statements she made concerning the war. The skewering was entirely justified, since Bachmann was wrong. But there’s no evidence whatsoever that Klobuchar is right. A little digging would be in order, no?


Anonymous said...

If Hotdish is going to cater to the whims of 8 year olds, maybe they could have tea parties and serve juice during sessions. I'm so sick of people who have know scientific background getting more credibility than actual scientists. Just because you have a mouth, doesn't mean you have to speak. Congratulations Minnesota on voting this idiot into office. Trust me the rest of the country will have a good laugh at our expense!!!

Anonymous said...

I also played Lawrence Trivia 25+ years ago... 37 years ago we were ARG ! (American Revolutionary Garbage), later, we morphed into "Armadillos can jump unusually high..." and "Lick Toads", amongst others. I believe the correct lyrics was "They have no navels, and they slide on thier bellies, at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour; And that's pretty fast !" (etc)

Tam said...

BTW, who are you ?

Mark Holm said...

"Penguins have no navels" originated with Jon Zilber LU 1980. There is a refrain, "Hanger, Hanger, Hanger, Hanger". It recieved it's first formal performace by Jim van Buchove's LU 1980 van Buchove Swing Choir. This all occurred during the class of 80's freshman year.

Mark Holm LU 1977

inhock4chineserocks said...

I have a really bad quality MP3 of Penguins Have No Navels on my computer along with Armadillos Come in Pairs. If you can tell me how to send them to you I will. Email me at if you want. My name is Guy and I was on the team My Computer Just Had Puppies