V: Crayfish

A tale of the crayfish that no longer needs a crawdaddy.

V: Crayfish
Crawdad chilling on a rock. Photo by Autumn Bradley / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is Quintidi, the 25th of Fructidor CCXXX. On this day in ... negative roman numeral I? Anyway, 11 days before the French Republic was declared, while the revolution was still in full chaos mode, the Hope Diamond and all the other French crown jewels were taken. They were never fully reassembled again (despite Napoleon buying himself quite a haul of bling later).

Today's card: 8 of diamonds

8 of diamonds. From the New Royal Playing Card Astrological Deck, an adaptation of an 1828 Charles Hodges design.
From the New Royal Playing Card Astrological Deck, an adaptation of an 1828 Charles Hodges design.

Following up yesterday's deck with its companion, an astrology-themed one again adapted from an 1828 design, we pull one of the more famous constellations on one of the more auspicious cards.

We typically read diamonds as money, though I do try to expand the reading beyond that of base lucre, but when paired with the 8 – which augurs good fortune, luck, and the unbidden boon – it's hard to see this as anything other than the gambler's favorite card.

What's interesting is this deck's pairing it with cancer, an astrological birth sign that – to be more blunt than most genteel astrologers ever are with it – portends a person who's temperamental, highly emotional, and occasionally even revenge-driven.

I think this is a fair warning that if something good comes your way today, keep it on the down low. Don't go bragging about it, even in a humble way, lest you rouse the spirits of envy in those around you. But more importantly, do try to cultivate that humility, because if good fortune causes you to think you're better or more worthy, you're well on your way to being an ass.

Today's meditation: Crayfish

They're not fish. That's just the bastardization of the French écrivisse that arose in multilingual New Orleans and spread across the United States with variants of 'crawfish' and, where I'm from, 'crawdad'. But they're tiny lobsters who have adapted to fresh water. The French name is itself an evolution of their word for 'crevice', which makes sense if you've ever tried to catch a crawdad in its habitat – the murky and dark nether-regions of a swamp or crick.

The name isn't the only thing that has evolved and spread. In 1995, two variants of the slough crayfish were placed together in an aquarium somewhere in Germany. They mated, and their offspring had a marbled shell and an even more unusual feature – three sets of chromosomes. While considered "female" by the scientists who study it today, the extra chromosome created a third gender of crayfish that could reproduce asexually, fertilizing its own eggs. Which it did, gremlin style, over and over and over...

The marbled crayfish is now considered one of the most remarkable and intractable pests in the world. It has spread throughout the globe, adapting to different temperatures and scavenging on different plant matter in every habitat it invades. This real-life clone army is a sequence of genetically identical mudbugs, reproducing at will with no need to mate, displacing other native species and even spreading to places where crayfish never existed before.

In a short quarter century, the clone army of marbled crayfish has spread from Germany to Madagascar. It has been banned in the EU and identified as its own species (despite being genetically still a slough crayfish, albeit with 50% more of itself inside of itself) for the purposes of labelling as an invasive pest: Procambarus virginalis.

It's an incel decapod only Jordan Peterson could love.

Or cancer researchers. There's been a concerted effort to map the genome of this remarkable evolutionary accident in France, where the hope is that understanding the way this complex organism reproduces will yield insight into how another cloning pest works – cancer.

The crevice lobster may tell us how to rid ourselves of the insidious crab.

Today's video: How to eat crawfish (1min)

Not for the squeamish. I avoided any videos that teach you how to suck the head.

Today's song: "Crawfish" by Elvis Presley (2mins)

This might be the least-Elvis Elvis song I've ever heard.