Will the BBC ever quit sexing up stories? I mean, it’s one thing to report a death, but it just strikes me as degrading to get into gory, gooey details about exploding body gases and decomposition and stuff. But for the BBC, nothing is too personal. Will they never learn?

Whale explodes in Taiwanese city
A dead sperm whale has exploded while being delivered to a research centre near the southwestern city of Tainan.
Passers-by and cars were soaked in blood and body parts were sprayed over a road after the bursting of the whale, which was being carried on a trailer.
The whale had died earlier on a beach and had been collected so its remains could be used for educational purposes.
A marine biologist blamed the explosion on pressure from gases building up in the mammal as it began to decompose.
The whale attracted a lot of onlookers both before and after it exploded.
Several parked cars and pedestrians got covered in blood when it exploded.
Residents and shop owners wore masks while trying to clean up the spilt blood and entrails.
“What a stinking mess. This blood and other stuff that blew out on the road is disgusting, and the smell is really awful,” said one resident.

The story even features a lurid picture of the disgusting mess — showing the whale carcass on a truck, intestines dangling from the belly, blood and guts all over the street, with a bystander covering his face!
Do we really need to see this?
I remember when only tabloids engaged in such cheap journalism. In the interests of decency and modesty, I refuse to fisk the BBC story.
Hat tip to Justin Case for pointing out this atrocity, which I would just as soon have missed. This blog does try to offer a classical perspective on the news, and occasionally I will analyze omens and portents the way a Roman soothsayer, an augur, or a haruspex might.
What about the entrails? Did they show “favourable indications”?
Lest you think I am kidding, it has been argued that the reading of entrails is at least as effective in determining truth as the modern polygraph!

Entrails reading was a very complex procedure for predicting important future outcomes (like battles), and no self-respecting Roman general made military decisions without consulting the entrails-reading augurs. Nor did other leaders in Roman society hesitate to refer to entrails reading as a way to predict the future. Similarly, in North America, the polygraph is all too readily referred to whether the truth concerns some specific act (like the identity of a killer or rapist) or even some much less clear-cut issue (like whether Clarence Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill over a decade before the date of the Senate investigation).

Might there even be a connection with national security?
Is the BBC now engaged in entrail reading as a search for truth? Or is this report a distraction?
As noted by the Romans, the British have a long history of entrail reading.

The Britons perished in the flames, which they themselves had kindled. The island fell, and a garrison was established to retain it in subjection. The religious groves, dedicated to superstition and barbarous rites, were leveled to the ground. In those recesses, the natives [stained] their altars with the blood of their prisoners, and in the entrails of men explored the will of the gods. While Suetonius was employed in making his arrangements to secure the island, he received intelligence that Britain had revolted, and that the whole province was up in arms.

Yeccchhh!
The story is not over!
At least one blogger has already shared his thoughts on this story, and points out that exploding whales are nothing new. He links to this actual whale explosion on video.
The best pictures I could find of the Taiwanese incident are here and here. (Via Metafilter.)
Here’s a blogger who argues the exploding whale is proof that “those who fail to learn from history being destined to repeat it.” Another commented that the whale had a huge penis.
OK, OK! So it’s a sperm whale!


Now for the REAL thing….
Let’s get serious.
Last night two owls — a barn owl and a barred owl (I know them by their calls) — were fighting quite loudly in my yard. I am deadly serious.
More work is needed.
Whether in ancient or modern times, few animals are as loaded with supernatural significance as the owl.
Details of how to interpret such omens are tough to come by; this discussion by Cicero and others is the best I could find. Nothing on owls fighting, although two owls would have to mean two omens. Both were at night and to my left, which is good.
The owl is associated with Minerva, goddess of wisdom.
Here’s a more modern fix on owls:

The Owl has a dual symbolism of wisdom and darkness, the latter meaning evil and death. They are symbolically associated with clairvoyance, astral projection and magick, and is oftentimes the medicine of sorcerers and witches, you are drawn to magickal practices. Those who have owl medicine will find that these night birds will tend to collect around you, even in daytime, because they recognise a kinship with you.
The two main symbolic characteristics of the Owl, its wisdom and its nocturnal activity– have made it represent perception. Considering perception in a spiritual context, Owl medicine is related to psychism, occult matters, instincts, and clairvoyance– the true ability to see what is happening around you.
The owl can see that which others cannot, which is the essence of true wisdom. Where others are deceived, Owl sees and knows what is there.
Use your power of keen, silent observation to intuit some life situation, Owl is befriending you and aiding you in seeing the whole truth. The Owl also brings its messages in the night through dreams or meditation. Pay attention to the signals and omens. The truth always brings further enlightenment.
The Owl, symbol of the Goddess, represents perfect wisdom. Owls have the ability to see in the dark and fly noiselessly through the skies. They bring messages through dreams. The Owl is the bird of mystical wisdom and ancient knowledge of the powers of the moon. With wide-open, all-seeing eyes, Owl looks upon reality without distortion and acknowledges it, yet is aware that with ancient magickal and spiritual knowledge, he or she can make changes.

But different species of owls fighting?
Try as I might, I can find nothing!
Anyone out there?
UPDATE: Lest anyone think that divining (or predicting the future based on animal behavior) died with the Romans, it was alive and well yesterday.