Archive for the ‘Standing on my Soap Box’ Category

Do Astronauts Masturbate in Space?

July 20, 2019

My favorite segment of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO is his New Rules.  A few weeks ago he was critical of the ridiculous aspiration some chumps have that humans should go to Mars.

He’s right.  Wasting money on a manned trip to Mars is really a stupid idea.  Humans can not live in space.  Humans can exist in space for awhile, using very expensive equipment, but I wouldn’t call that living.  Some nerds expressed their outrage toward Bill Maher on Twitter, but I defended him and got into an argument with Max Fagin, an aerospace engineer who works for Madein Space Aerodynamics–a company that manufactures optic fiber and other products in micro-gravity.  On his Facebook page Fagin claims that he is going to be one of the first people to land on Mars.  Yeah, right.  Traveling to Mars is extremely difficult.  Even unmanned missions to Mars have had a high rate of failure.  There have been 28 failed unmanned missions to Mars compared to just 19 successful missions.  And these are unmanned missions.  Just imagine how risky a manned mission could be.  Moreover, being trapped in a space capsule for that long is akin to some kind of cruel and unusual punishment.  It would take about 7 months to get there and 7 months to return–about as long as the longest space station mission ever.  (A Russian cosmonaut once stayed in a space station for 438 days.)  So for over a year, the astronauts would not be able to go for a walk in the woods and hear birds singing.  They wouldn’t be able to do any outdoor activities, and there are many indoor activities they would miss out on as well.  There is no sex in space.  When I suggested to Max Fagin there was no sex in space, he responded by telling me I hadn’t thought this through, and he then ended our discussion.  No, he  hasn’t thought this through.  Sex in microgravity would be difficult and uncomfortable.

It is against NASA’s regulations to have sex in space…even to masturbate.  Bodily fluids might float around inside the capsule and foul their expensive machines.  But let’s say NASA allowed sex as an experiment.  There would still be difficulties.  In microgravity the blood that normally goes to the sex organs rises to the head, making it hard to achieve and maintain an erection, and this can cause an headache during sex as well.  Even if an erection can be established, the partners would float apart.  A suit with Velcro has been designed that would hold the coupling pair together, but really…does that sound sexy? The lack of privacy is also not particularly sexy–I know I wouldn’t want professional colleagues watching me have sex.  Astronauts experience lowered testosterone levels in microgravity, and this too would likely dampen desire.

Nerds dream about establishing colonies in space, but reproduction would be a real problem. A fetus would be exposed to high levels of radiation, resulting in increased rates of mutation, and most mutations are harmful.  NASA has experimented with rats in space.  Rats impregnated in space suffer higher rates of failed pregnancies.  Humans would eventually become extinct, if forced to live in space, even with advanced technology.

I’m all for unmanned missions and super telescopes because scientific knowledge is never a bad thing.  But manned space missions are an expensive boondoggle that humans can’t afford when there are so many unsolved problems on earth that require loads of cash to solve.

Advertisements

Irksome Pundit Speak: That said at the End of the Day he Doubled Down and It is What It Is

May 26, 2019

I watch too many cable news shows.  News networks that strictly report news get killed in the ratings, so most are 50% news and 50% opinion.  News networks hire pundits who comment on the news of the day.  Most pundits are has-been politicians or former aides to has-been politicians.  Almost all use annoying clichés that drive me crazy.  They can use a whole string of clichés to complete a sentence that in essence is completely meaningless.  Pundits can have entire conversations with each other without saying anything.  Here are some of the clichés they use that are the most irksome.

That said. Pundits use “that said” after they make 1 point and want to address a counterpoint.  The phrase is extraneous.  It is unnecessary to say “that said” because they already said something, and the viewers know what they just said.  I’ve even come across this phrase in written editorials.  I want to tell them “you didn’t say it, you wrote it, you idiot.” Whatever happened to the good old fashioned “however” or “on the other hand.”

At the end of the day. Pundits use “at the end of the day” to conclude their point.  Again, this is a completely unnecessary phrase.  When a pundit is finished making their point all they need to do is shut up and let somebody else speak.  Besides there is never an end to a political argument–they go on forever, long past the “end of the day.”

He doubled down. Pundits use this to describe a politician who makes a terrible gaffe, but instead of apologizing or admitting they misspoke, they defend their idiotic statement.  For example a politician could claim there was such a thing as consensual rape. (A Missouri state senator actually said this a few weeks ago.  What is it about Missouri politicians and their absurd views about “legitimate”  and “consensual” rape?) Instead of apologizing or admitting he misspoke the politician might say “there is consensual rape and 15 year old girls should be drafted to serve as sex slaves for our patriotic soldiers.”  Politicians who refuse to admit they said something dumb are not doubling anything.  They are just stupid.

It is what it is. This is perhaps the most meaningless cliché of all.  It means absolutely nothing  I can’t even explain what people are saying when they use this phrase.  It was what it was and could if it could but it would what it would.  What? I suggest to anyone with the urge to say “it is what it is” to just shut the hell up.

Image result for Chris Matthews

Hardball with Chris Matthews is my favorite cable news show.  He asks the tough questions.  Usually.

Don’t Ever Pray for Me

March 18, 2019

Years ago, I heard a memorable line from a war movie (I think it was Steel Helmet) that goes something like this, “There are only 2 kinds of men who have ever lived on earth: those who have died and those who are going to die.”  An officer was trying to inspire his men to attack with an attitude of we’re all going to die anyway.  I like to believe I’m going to live forever, but I suppose I’m no different from all the other people on earth, and someday I will die.  After I die I want to be buried in a cheap pine box, so future paleontologists can study my bones, if they haven’t decayed to nothing.  I do not want anyone, especially a shithead rabbi or minister to pray for me.  I believe in science, and I have always believed in science ever since I could reason as a small boy.  I consider prayer to be unscientific wishful thinking, and when I see other people offering to pray for something I just feel annoyed at how mindlessly brainwashed people can be.  At best prayer is superficially comforting and at worst it can be detrimental.

TheSteelHelmet.jpg

Steel Helmet was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful movie about the Korean War made by Sam Fuller and released in 1951.  It was made on a shoestring budget, using carboard tanks.

A comprehensive study of prayer determined heart surgery patients had worse outcomes when they knew people were praying for them.  The study looked at 1800 heart bypass surgery patients over a 10 year period.  The researchers divided them into 3 groups–patients who were anonymously prayed for but didn’t know it, patients who were not prayed for, and patients who were prayed for and knew it.  Patients who knew they were being prayed for suffered the most complications.  Scientists think this is because the knowledge they were being prayed for caused anxiety and stress.  The patients feared they were dying when they knew people were praying for them and thus had worse outcomes.  I remember when my father lay comatose and dying 5 years ago, and some idiotic doctor loudly prayed while standing over him in the Emergency Room.  What a jerk.  The doctor was supposed to be a man of science, yet he’s reciting some mumbo jumbo.  It didn’t help, and if my dad could understand anything, it probably caused anxiety.  I’m still pissed off about this incident.

My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer last month.  Her friends have been following her case on Facebook, and they keep praying for her, and their prayers keep failing.  First, when her mammogram presented a suspicious result, they prayed the follow up mammogram would clear her.  It didn’t, and she had to have a needle biopsy, so they prayed for a benign result.  The lab result showed it was an invasive carcinoma.  After an MRI she was scheduled for a lumpectomy 2 weeks ago, and her friends prayed that would turn out ok.  A panel of doctors reviewed her case and determined she needed another needle biopsy, and her friends prayed for that.  After these results the doctors determined she needed a mastectomy.  Her friends keep praying for her, and she keeps getting worse results.  I wish they would stop praying for her before her results spiral any further into the negative.  Maybe her luck would start changing.  Maybe they should start praying to the flying spaghetti monster instead of Jesus.  I know I don’t want any of these people to ever pray for me because their prayers have proven not to work.

Image result for flying spaghetti monster

Maybe my wife’s friends should start praying to the flying spaghetti monster. They might get better results.

My wife needs to see a plastic surgeon before her mastectomy, but he keeps postponing her appointment.  (The plastic surgeon inserts an expander during the mastectomy, so it can later be filled with a saline implant.)  I’m rooting for the Dolly Parton implant, though I’m sure my wife and the plastic surgeon will choose symmetry.  But what if I prayed for a Dolly Parton insert?  Maybe that’s the 1 prayer destined to be answered.

Reference:

Benson, H.; et. al.

“Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in Cardiac Bypass Patients: A Multicenter Randomized Trial of Uncertainty and Certainty of Receiving Intercessory Prayer”

American Heart Journal April 2006

 

Lunch Counter Sit-Ins and Trump Voters

January 21, 2019

Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s, and his strategy was to use the non-violent tactics that Ghandi had successfully employed to propel India’s independence from Great Britain 20 years earlier.  In the southern regions of the United States (and some other parts of the nation) African-Americans were not even allowed to sit in a restaurant next to where white people sat.  As ridiculous as this seems, most white southerners supported this policy.  A century after the Civil War they were still bitter over losing that conflict, and they resented being forced to treat African-Americans as equal citizens.  Whenever a white southerner claims they are against the “tyranny of the federal government” what they really mean is they resent not being allowed to oppress African-Americans.  This hypocrisy has always annoyed me.  Many white southerners believe in oppressing other people, yet they act as if they are the victims of oppression.

56 years ago, Civil Rights protestors dared to sit at the segregated lunch counters of Woolworth’s Department Stores.  Below is a photo of 1 famous incident when a gang of mostly white teenagers harassed them.  The Civil Rights protestors used non-violence, and passively sat there while they were being abused.  The young punks dumped milk shakes on their heads, and threw food on them.  Finally, 1 of them dragged an African-American off his stool and repeatedly kicked him in the face, while a white police officer stood by and did nothing.  The police man eventually arrested both of them, as if the victim was just as guilty as the perpetrator.  The Civil Rights movement was ultimately successful…within the following few years both the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act officially guaranteed the equal status of African-Americans, though white southerners still opposed these federal laws on the grounds of states rights.  And an extremist right wing Supreme Court has gravely weakened the latter.

Image result for woolworth lunch counter sit in

The famous lunch counter sit-in at a Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina.  I bet every single member of that white mob that is still alive voted for Donald Trump.

It occurred to me when I looked at this photo that most of the white people in that mob (the shmucks who are still alive, at least) were about 69 years old during the 2016 election and that every single 1 of them likely voted for Donald Trump.  People change.  It’s possible 1 or 2 of them has been enlightened, and now has more liberal views, but I doubt it.  Trump directly appealed to racists and xenophobes in the United States during his campaign.  He still frequently appeals to them during his presidency, making him the most divisive president in U.S. history.  (and, no, Obama was not a divisive president.  It wasn’t his fault that racists kept getting more and more pissed off over the years because a black man was president.)  Trump opened up his campaign by scapegoating Mexicans and Muslims.  This alone should have been enough to disqualify him from getting elected, but instead it awoke an ugly part of America that unfortunately was populous enough to get him over the electoral finish line in our archaic election process.  (The electoral college is a throwback to when the framers of the constitution went out of their way to appease the slave-holding states.)  Now, many politicians are copying his tactic, though I’m skeptical it will continue to work.  White racists are outnumbered.

I hate Donald Trump, but he is just 1 sleazy real estate crook.  I hold more hatred for the disgusting ignoramuses who voted for him.  Trump-voters are the same kind of people who put my relatives in concentration camps during WWII.  It infuriates me how they are so easily taken in by a con artist who plays on their unfounded fears of brown-skinned people.   The latest controversy is over Trump’s racist wall.  The government has been shut down for over a month because of this nonsense.  The wall–an impossible boondoggle–would stop no one from coming in this country.  People can tunnel under it, climb over it, fly over it, come here legally and overstay their visa, or go to Canada and walk across the border where there is no call for a wall because Canada is a mostly white country. Racists don’t fear Canadians.  Hispanics are no threat to us.  In fact they can save Social Security by contributing to payroll taxes.

The racist wall is simply a symbolic message that states brown-skinned people are not welcome here.  That is why it is an immoral wall.  I stand with Nancy Pelosi.

The Fear Island Special that Aired on Animal Planet Last Night was Full of Shit

June 4, 2018

The Animal Planet network has a history of airing misleading pseudo-science on many of their specials.  In their fake documentaries, researchers (usually actors posing as scientists) are on the hunt for creatures undiscovered by science.  In the past they have supposedly discovered evidence for mermaids and the continued existence of a long extinct shark species known as Carcharodon megalodon.  Last night, they aired a special culminating Monster Week entitled Fear Island.  A trio including a so-called scientist, a skeptic, and an Indian tracker were following a particularly large specimen of Kodiak bear.  The so-called scientist had a theory that Kodiak bears were either an hybrid between brown bears (Ursus arctos) X polar bears (Ursus maritimus) or an hybrid between brown bears X and an extinct species of bear from the Pleistocene (Arctodus simus).  They used camera traps and collected DNA samples from hair and feces to prove that this bear was an hybrid, and that it was 2600 pounds which would make it more than double the size of an ordinary Kodiak bear.  This gave the show a verisimilitude of real science, but it was not.

Image result for Fear Island on Animal Planet misleading

Don’t believe anything you see on Animal Planet.  They air unscientific bullshit.

There was a big problem with this special–scientists have already conducted many genetic studies of the Kodiak bear population.  Kodiak bears grow to more than double the size of the average mainland brown bear because of their diet…not because they are somehow a different species.  They enjoy an unusual abundance of salmon.  Genetic studies suggest Kodiak bears are the same species as the brown bear, and there is no admixture of polar bear in this population.  Moreover, the genetic studies indicate there is so little genetic difference between mainland brown bears and Kodiak bears that the latter should not even be considered a separate subspecies.  Nevertheless, at the end of the special Animal Planet claimed their genetic tests determined the Kodiak bear the hosts were following was a brown bear X polar bear hybrid, but tests to determine if there was giant short-faced bear DNA were inconclusive.  I promise, this supposed genetic test will never be subject to peer review in a real scientific journal because they were full of shit.  The giant short faced bear belonged to the Tremarctine group indigenous to the Americas, and these bears were separated from the Ursus bears by millions of years of evolution, making it highly unlikely that they ever interbred.  Plus, there is no genetic material of giant short-faced bears available for comparison.  So, of course, that finding would be inconclusive.

No way did the bear they were following weigh 2600 pounds as they estimated.  Any brown bear walking past a camera trap is going to look big, and I’m sure their estimate was badly miscalculated.  To prove it weighed that much, they would actually have to weigh it.

The Indian tracker told of an incident when 6 bears carried a dead bear to an hole they dug and buried it in a funeral like ceremony.  He told it with a straight face, but obviously he was pulling their leg.  Nevertheless, the so-called skeptic believed his story.  Don’t believe anything you see on Animal Planet.  This network lost its credibility a long time ago.

Sadistic American Safari Hunters are Contributing to the Extinction of Africa’s Megafauna

April 2, 2018

Until well into the 20th century tropical diseases and tribal warfare left large areas of Africa uninhabited, and megafauna flourished.  An estimated 10 million elephants lived on the continent in 1900 and populations of rhinos, giraffes, zebras, lions, and other species were much higher than they are today.  Now, there are just 430,000 elephants living in Africa, and all of Africa’s megafauna are in danger of extinction.  The biggest threats are from overpopulation of people and loss of habitat.  Farmers convert wild lands into agricultural plots, and pastoralists with their increasing herds of cattle will not tolerate ungulates competing for grazing range or predator attacks on their livestock.  Illegal poaching is another major threat.  Trophy hunters from America claim they are helping to protect the last remaining populations of megafauna by supporting local groups that protect hunting preserves from poachers.  Instead, these sadistic safari hunters are contributing to the ongoing extinction of Africa’s most iconic animals.

For a price hunters can still go on a safari and kill rare mammals.  Here are some of the prices on the internet I found for guided safari hunts: elephant ($38,000), endangered white rhino ($66,790), lion-leopard-buffalo ($32,500 for a 26 day safari), zebra ($3500), baboon or jackal ($300).  Giraffes are pretty cheap too–$3450.  Incidentally, giraffe populations are in severe decline.  1 hunter paid $350,000 to kill an extremely rare black rhino.  By contrast a 4 day photographic safari costs just $2500. I am not against sustainable hunting for food, but the idea that rich people would spend this much money to slaughter rare animals in poor countries disgusts me.  This is what they do with their recreational budget?  Travel across the world to wipe out the last remaining populations of iconic animals with high powered rifles? These people are sick.  They make me think of the Nazis who killed my relatives during the Holocaust.

Image result for Donald trump jr safari photos

Here is an example of a Richie Rich douchebag on a safari hunt.  This is 1 of Donald Trump’s sons. He paid a fortune to murder a leopard.  He and his brother went on a safari and killed a leopard, civet cat, antelope, and buffalo. Why the hell would anyone kill a civet cat? He bragged about giving the antelope meat to the locals…the people who can’t afford to hunt these animals themselves.  What a jerk.  Trump’s entire family are a bunch of crooks who are using the White House to personally enrich themselves.  The U.S. is a disgrace for electing such a racist sexist pig to be president.

The claim that these safari hunts help conservation efforts is dubious at best and downright false in most cases.  First of all, there is a moral disconnect between letting rich American hunters slaughter wildlife for trophies,while local poor people are forbidden from hunting for bush meat to help feed their families.  This system stokes the kind of anti-colonial resentment that would foster sympathy for the poachers.  Then, there is the corruption.  Most of these African countries are so corrupt that money spent on safari hunts is pocketed by a few local gangster autocrats, and it does not go toward conserving the wildlife.  For example the $350,000 the hunter spent on killing that black rhino that I mentioned above went to an organization that doesn’t even help conserve black rhinos.  The money is supposed to go to guards that protect the big game animals, but instead it invariably ends up in the hands of some corrupt local politician who doesn’t give a shit about wildlife.  The safari hunters themselves are frequently corrupt.  They often bribe guides to let them get extra trophies above their limit.  Safari hunters claim they only shoot animals past their breeding age.  This demonstrates ignorance about basic biology, and it a ridiculous lie anyway.  None of the big game species they hunt ever live long enough to become infertile with age.  Moreover, they purposefully shoot the best looking trophies–the individuals with the largest horns and the lions with the most luxurious manes–and these animals are the strongest most fertile specimens within the population.  A noted wildlife photographer saw entire lion prides in Botswana wiped out by trophy hunters.  The safari hunters killed all the adult males, so the only male lions left in the area were the cubs that grew up and mated with their mothers, causing inbreeding that led to local extirpation of the pride.  A recent scientific study determined that trophy hunting so weakens the gene pool that it could eventually lead to the extinction of African megafauna.

I think African countries should promote photographic safaris instead of hunting safaris.  Money brought in by safari hunting amounts to less than 1% of tourism dollars brought into Africa by foreigners.  An increase in photographic safaris could easily replace this revenue.  Nevertheless, African megafauna is in big trouble.  As long as a certain percentage of the billion Chinese who live on earth are dumb enough to believe rhino horn is an aphrodisiac, I just don’t see how poaching can be stopped in corrupt African countries.  “Conservation” by safari hunters is a colossal lie that is only contributing to the extinction of these magnificent mammals.

Reference:

Knell, R.; and Carlos Marinez-Ruiz

“Selective Harvest Focused on Sexual Signal Traits can lead to Extinction Under Directional Environmental Change”

Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Science November 2017

The Korean Demilitarized Zone is an Amazing Wilderness

August 26, 2017

North Korea is not going to attack the U.S., no matter what Donald Trump says or doesn’t say.  The little fat turd who controls North Korea knows it would mean the end for him because even China wouldn’t back him, if he was the aggressor.  And the U.S. isn’t going to attack North Korea.  Trump will listen to his generals when they tell him an attack on North Korea would draw China into the war, and China has hundreds of nuclear weapons and enough surface-to-surface missiles to sink our entire Pacific fleet.

I feel sorry for the North Korean people because they are forced to live under the little fat turd’s rule.  But the U.S. voluntarily elected a giant fat turd as president.  Actually, referring to Donald Trump as a turd is an insult to turds.  A turd in a punchbowl would make a better president than Trump.

Image result for turd in a punchbowl

A turd in a punch bowl would make a better president than Donald Trump.

Trump opened up his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans “drug dealers and rapists”–words that sounded like they came straight out of Archie Bunker’s mouth.  Ironically, Trump must think rape is only bad if a Mexican is the rapist because Trump brags about how he can rape women and get away with it. Trump is so dumb he equates peaceful protestors with neo-Nazis, and he thinks Jefferson Davis and other Confederate figures are comparable to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  They are not the same–they are the opposite.  George Washington helped found this country, while the Confederacy tried to tear it apart.  The Confederacy was an enemy of the U.S..  Enemies of the U.S. should not be venerated.  Trump has no credibility because he rarely tells the truth about anything.  He makes up absurd conspiracies and tweets them out in the middle of the night.  This is the symptom of a man who doesn’t have all his marbles.  Trump is also highly unethical, but I’m not going  to delve into this here because just the details of his crooked business interests could fill volumes.

Trump disgusts me, but I am even more disgusted with the stupid uneducated fools who voted for him.  They all look like a bunch of angry, shriveled-up losers.  They are so dumb they actually think this billionaire prick gives a shit about them.  Trump’s economic policies, if he ever is able to enact them, would greatly aid ultra rich plutocrats, like himself, while steamrolling the working class chumps who voted for him.  Trump proved this when he said he would actively work to make Obamacare fail.  This means he cares more about a legislative victory than the well being of the American people.  The election of Trump is an insult to the intelligence and integrity of the American people.  I think many people voted for him because of name recognition.  They were familiar with this dumb bigoted celebrity from his brainless TV show.  Other people are attracted to his xenophobic racism.  It is disturbing to realize there are millions of pro-rape racists living in this country.  I hate Trump voters.

Image result for geriatric Trump supporters

Trump supporters are shriveled up old losers.  His rallies are a sea of white faces, though occasionally there will be a token black guy carrying an awkward sign saying “Blacks for Trump.”  The Trump campaign undoubtedly paid for the token black guy to stand there.  Trump was elected by pissed off racists.  It is alarming to realize there are tens of millions of brain dead racists in this country.

The Korean Demilitarized Zone divides North and South Korea.  People haven’t lived in this zone for 64 years, and the land has reverted to wilderness.  The KDZ is 400 square miles of mountains, forests, prairies, wetlands, and tidal marshes.  At least 52 species of mammals live in the KDZ including 5 kinds of deer, wild boar, Asiatic black bears, leopards, leopard cats, and raccoon dogs.  Many of the species that live here are rare or extinct in the rest of Asia.  Critically endangered long-tailed gorals (a kind of goat), musk deer, red-crowned cranes, white-naped cranes, and black-faced spoonbills make the KDZ their home.  There are even rumors of Siberian tigers roaming the KDZ.  It seems impossible that so much wildlife can exist here.  Reportedly, there are 2500 landmines per square mile, and animals occasionally do trigger them.  Animals can thrive in minefields but can’t tolerate the presence of man–another example of how detrimental people are for wildlife.  Maybe some day, if Korea is ever unified, the KDZ will become a park.  In the rest of China and Korea wildlife has been obliterated, and pollution is a disaster.  Asia badly needs a park like this.

Image result for red crowned crane

The critically endangered red-crowned crane finds refuge in the KDZ.

Image result for ruddy kingfisher

Ruddy kingfisher.

Image result for Korean water deer

Korean water deer.

Naemorhedus caudatus

Long-tailed goral.

 

U.S. Government Will Allow Religious Nuts to Bury a 1 of a Kind Scientific Specimen

February 13, 2017

Democrats like to paint Republicans as being anti-science and of course this is true.  Republicans dispute scientific facts about everything from the harmful effects of pollution to the fundamental basis of biological science.  But when it is politically expedient, democrats can be just as anti-science.  On September 28, 2016 democrats caved-in to religious nuts who want to bury an extremely rare specimen where it will be lost forever to science.  The specimen is known as Kennewick man, first discovered 20 years ago.  It’s a nearly complete skeleton of a man who lived 9,000 years BP.  Skeletal remains of humans from this age in North America are so rare that only a few have ever been discovered.  The Army Corps of Engineers was going to let Native American tribes bury this precious specimen shortly after its discovery, but some scientists banded together and sued for the right to study it.  They won in court and luckily we now have increased our knowledge about the life of early archaic man in the Pacific northwest.  In 2015 a genetic study of this specimen determined Kennewick man shared a common ancestry with modern Native-Americans.  Unfortunately, this gave new legal momentum to the religious nuts who want to perform a ceremonial burial with the specimen, even though the study did not show any direct relationship with the tribes that inhabit the region today.  An amendment introduced by a democratic congresswoman was attached to a bill signed by then President Obama that will let these idiotic Indians throw away any more potential scientific knowledge we can learn about Kennewick man.  Future advancements in science could give us the opportunity to glean further knowledge from the specimen, but alas, unless there is another successful lawsuit, this rare specimen will be lost.  And it’s all because of the unnecessary deference given to stupid superstitions.

This clay facial reconstruction of Kennewick Man or "the Ancient One" was carefully sculpted around the morphological features of his skull, and lends a deeper understanding of what he may have looked like nearly 9,000 years ago. The remains will be repatriated to Columbia Basin tribes for traditional burial under legislation passed by Congress. Photo: Brittney Tatchell, Smithsonian Institution

The government is going to let ignorant Native-Americans bury this 9000 year old skull. A nearly 1 of a kind scientific specimen will be lost to science forever.

Image result for Obama is a shithead

I didn’t realize that Obama and the democrats were just as anti-science as the republicans.

In my opinion all religion is brainwashing for simple-minded people, and scientists know this, though they are often reluctant to say so.  If this dispute involved Christian fundamentalists, many scientists would be loudly protesting this amendment.  I’m sure they would call them “bible thumpers.”  But they seem unusually quiet about this because they are afraid of being called racist or politically incorrect for getting in a conflict with an indigenous belief system.  Well, I won’t be silenced.  I have no tolerance for ignorant beliefs no matter what group spouts them.  These Native-Americans are pushing their religion on us, and I think it is an outrage.  This specimen doesn’t belong to them.  They did not personally know Kennewick man.  None of their great-great-great-great-great grandparents knew Kennewick man.  In fact the ancestors of some of these tribes may have even fed upon Kennewick man’s kin.  (See: https://markgelbart.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/native-american-cannibalism-and-dog-eating/ ) Their claim on this specimen is based on phony political correctness. They can’t demonstrate to which tribe Kennewick man belonged, probably because none of the tribes existed yet when he lived.  So all the 5 tribes of the Pacific northwest (Umatilla, Nez Pierce, Colville, Yakama, and Wanapum) are going to share the burial ceremony, and the specimen is going to be buried in a secret location to prevent disinterment. How ridiculous.  What politically correct bullshit.  When Europeans discover thousand year old human specimens in Europe, no group ever comes forward to claim they have the right to the remains because they are relatives.  Human remains are not sacred…they are just bones.

Image result for Stupid Native american ceremony

Native Americans on their way to bury scientific knowledge.

After I die I do not want to be cremated.  I want to be buried, so there is a chance my remains could be discovered by scientists 30,000 years in the future.  They can study or do whatever they want with my skeleton, and I’m pretty sure I won’t care.

Irrational Admiration and Hatred

May 10, 2016

I recently read and enjoyed Dispatches from Pluto by Richard Grant, a British writer who details his experience moving from an apartment in New York City to a dilapidated big house in rural Mississippi.  The book is interesting in its description of the many eccentric characters Grant encountered and in its examination of backward race relations in Mississippi.  I’ve lived in Georgia since 1976.  Grant’s description of current racial interactions in Mississippi reminds me of the Georgia I moved to then.  But Georgia has progressed.  Mississippi seems to be 40 years behind Georgia.

IMG_3961

This book is the entertaining true story of a British writer who moves into an old house in rural Mississippi.

Of course, I was interested in Grant’s experiences with the nature of Mississippi, a region mostly consisting of farmland, swamp, forest, and fallow field.  His house is located on an oxbow lake, and the entire region is right in the middle of the Mississippi flyway–an important migratory route for birds.  I expected a fish out of water story, but Grant readily adapted to hunting, despite his supposed reluctance. Note this passage about a dove hunting “party:”

I missed the first three doves that came my way, and hit the fourth.  It fell to the ground still fluttering its wings in a wounded death panic.  I swallowed my horror, and following Mike’s example, I picked it up by the head and twirled it around to break its neck.  Its feathers were so soft, its beauty so ruined by blood and death.

I felt sad, upset, shaky, and proud all at the same time…The doves made such small, fast-moving unpredictable targets, a smudge of gray darting and veering, but I managed to bring down two more, and I started to feel the excitement of it, the quickening of the blood, the total adsorption in which I was trying to do.”

I’m not buying it.  How does an human being go from being “sad and upset” to excited in the space of a few paragraphs?  And why would someone feel proud over killing a small bird with a shotgun?  I think Grant is full of shit here because he was prepared to enjoy killing animals.  I also suspect he wanted to act like an hick in order to shock his pretentious city slicker friends. I’m not against hunting for food, and Grant chose to hunt deer in Mississippi for economic reasons–to put food on the table.  I’m not buying this either.  Deer hunting is not an economical way to put meat on the table.  Rifles cost hundreds of dollars and ammo adds interest to this bad “investment.”  Luckily for Grant, a neighbor loaned him a firearm.  But he still paid over $100 to have his deer processed.  Moreover, the time he spent hunting could have been spent working and making money.

I am opposed to killing animals for the hell of it.  Grant adapted the “killing animals for the hell of it” attitude rather too readily as well.  He slaughters armadillos, mistakenly thinking they are invasive pests.  Some people complain because armadillos dig holes in their yards.  But dogs dig holes in yards, and these same assholes would never think of shooting their dog because it dug an hole in their yard.  I hypothesize 9-banded armadillos are not invasive, but instead are the same species that lived in North America during the Pleistocene.  (See: https://markgelbart.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/is-the-9-banded-armadillo-dasypus-novemcinctus-a-dwarf-mutation-of-the-pleistocene-species-dasypus-bellus/ )  Armadillos are merely recolonizing lost territory.  A study published in the Southeastern Naturalist determined killing armadillos is futile because other armadillos quickly replace the ones that are killed.  So the killing of armadillos serves no purpose.

Another animal that Grant kills for the hell of it is the cottonmouth water moccasin.  He also admits to accidentally killing nonvenomous snakes, an illegal act in most states.  He kills cottonmouths because he believes they are dangerous.  Yet, he allows his large German shepherd to roam the countryside at will where it could potentially encounter and kill a small child.  (Allowing his big dog to run loose is evidence that Grant is an hick at heart.)  This illustrates a common irrationality shared by many people.  (I also had a former neighbor who freaked out about a rattlesnake on one occasion, but he often allowed his pit bull terrier to run loose. What a shmuck.)  People hate and fear snakes, often killing them on sight.  People admire and love dogs.  But fatal dog attacks are more than 10 times as common as fatal snake bites in the U.S.  Dogs have killed an average of 32 people per year over the past 10 years, and 2/3rds of the victims have been children.  By contrast snakes have killed less than 3 people per year over the past decade in this country, and some of these cases were people who unnecessarily handled the snake, including nutty Pentecostals.  (And those religious snake bite victims might have survived if they would have put their faith in doctors instead of God.  They refused medical treatment.)  A number of years ago, a dog ripped off a 10 year old girl’s arm at the shoulder.  The case received national attention.  A few dozen people sent the girl sympathetic get well cards, while she was in the hospital.  Thousands of people sent letters to the dog shelter where the dog was being held, begging the authorities not to euthanize the animal and many offered to retrain it.  Not only do people love dogs and hate snakes, they love dogs more than they care about the well being of other people.  Anybody who lets their big dog run loose is an inconsiderate jerk and should spend time in jail.

Here’s a link to some photos of people who were attacked by dogs.  I don’t want to post them directly on my blog because they are disturbing. http://www.ambrosekane.com/2013/10/25/cops-and-dog-attacks-warning-extremely-graphic/ Note how dogs attack the face.  One photo shows a man with half his face literally torn off.

Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus).  Venomous snakes are much less dangerous than dogs.

Statistics reveal another example of irrational admiration and hate.   Drunk drivers are reviled, and doctors are greatly admired.  Drunk drivers were responsible for 9,967 deaths in 2014 in the U.S.  But a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates medical malpractice causes the premature deaths of 225,000 people per year in this country, making it the 3rd leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.  Another study, this 1 published in the Journal of Patient Safety, estimates medical malpractice is responsible for 440,000 annual deaths in the U.S., and millions more are severely injured each year.  Doctors and hospitals are far more dangerous than drunk drivers.  My wife has been disabled for 21 years because of a medical mistake.  My late father, a physician, always said, “stay away from doctors.”  So when you turn 50 and get that letter from the government urging you to get a colonoscopy, think twice about it.  I will never have that invasive procedure done.  Doctors are scarier than drunk drivers.  The volume of death and suffering they bestow is horrifying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sign my White House Petition to Create a Pleistocene Park

April 4, 2016

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/transformation-great-smoky-mountains-national-park-pleistocene-park

I visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a few years ago and left greatly disappointed.  I had hoped to see an abundance of wildlife.  Instead, I saw a grand total of 1 squirrel, 4 Canadian geese, and 6 crows.  My daily constitutional in my neighborhood yields a greater variety of wildlife than that.  It was depressing to discover suburban Augusta, Georgia offers better wildlife viewing opportunities than a famous national park.  There are 2 areas of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where wildlife watching is recommended–Cades Cove and the Cataloochee.  However, when I visited, the road to Cades Cove was closed.  The access road to the Cataloochee is a single-lane unpaved path winding up a steep mountain without guard rails.  I judged it far too dangerous to continue up this life-threatening hazard.  The National Park service should be ashamed of the sorry infrastructure here.  It’s like something one would expect in a Third World country.

In a National Park, good wildlife viewing shouldn’t be confined to just a couple small areas.  Wildlife should be abundant throughout the park.  The problem with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the hands-off management policy of the park service.  A dense old growth forest covers most of the park.  This is poor habitat for most large mammal species, and it supports very low wildlife populations.  An attempt to re-establish red wolves in the park some years ago failed because there was nothing in the park for them to eat, showing just how low wildlife populations are here.  Red wolves can live off rabbits-the park doesn’t even have many of those.  Moreover, this park, wrongly thought to be natural, is like nothing that ever existed in nature prior to ~1900.  Native Americans, beginning about 14,000 years ago, set fire to the woods every year.  This created a mosaic of habitats including open woodlands and grassy prairies.  Large centuries-old oaks and chestnut trees were widely spaced with luxurious grasses and flowers growing in between.  Before man colonized the region, large herds of megafauna maintained a similar landscape.

I propose that the National Park service transform Great Smoky Mountains National Park into a Pleistocene park by actively managing it to improve habitat for wildlife.  After a detailed study they could install a management plan that would recreate an environment more similar to that of the Pleistocene than that of today’s aberrant abomination.  Some old growth forest would remain standing, especially along creeks and rivers that serve as natural fire breaks.  But most upland areas would need to be clear cut in some places and thinned out in others.  Pasture grasses and native flowers could be planted and large mammal species such as bison, horses, and llamas could be introduced, so that the open environment could be maintained by their foraging and trampling.  A fire management plan would also maintain this environment.  Eventually, Siberian tigers could be introduced to control the population of large ungulates.  Tigers would also cull wild boar and bears.  A functioning Pleistocene-like ecosystem would be far more interesting and worthwhile than the park as it currently exists.

Accordingly, I ask that you sign my White House petition, requesting the Obama administration to order the Park Service to create a Pleistocene Park.  You can do so in the following link:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/transformation-great-smoky-mountains-national-park-pleistocene-park

If the petition gets 100,000 signatures by May 2, 2016, the White House will write a response.  President Obama has shown little interest in the environment, since he’s been in office.  He has not called for the establishment of more protected wilderness lands, and he’s thrown wolves under the bus by taking them off the endangered species list.  I am curious how he would respond to this.  I’m sure he will defer to the Park Service party line.

The National Park Service won’t like my proposal.  I believe their policy, though they would never admit it, is to keep wildlife populations as low as possible, so they don’t have to bother with problematic human-animal interactions.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife recently chose to delist grizzly bears as a threatened species.  This will allow redneck states, such as Wyoming, to reduce the overall population of grizzly bears.  (See: http://www.grizzlypeople.com/topten.php ) These jerks want to maintain a population of 500 grizzly bears by killing 50 per year.  If there were only 500 humans left on earth, and 50 were killed every year, humans would rapidly become extinct.

A non-profit organization in Russia has already established a Pleistocene Park located in Yakutia, Siberia.  Surgey Zimov hypothesized the extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna caused the transformation of a steppe grass environment in northern Asia to willow shrub tundra.  Twenty years ago, he spear-headed an experiment to reverse this transformation.  His organization bought tundra land and introduced horses to an enclosed area.  They helped the horses along by converting this land into pasture.  At first many horses were killed by wolves or died because they ingested poisonous plants.  But the horses have learned not to eat the harmful plants, and they have proved capable of surviving the deep snows that some thought would doom the whole herd.  The experiment supports Zimov’s hypothesis because the horses (with a little initial help) have transformed willow shrub tundra to grassland in their enclosed living space.  The grassland is similar to what existed during the Pleistocene.

Pleistocene Park, Russia

Pleistocene Park in Siberia.  The introduction of horses led to the transformation of tundra shrub to grassland habitat in areas where the horses are enclosed.

Caribou, bison, moose, elk, and musk-oxen have also been introduced.  (A small population of the former already occurred here.)  Caribou are now the most abundant ungulate in the park. Researchers hope the moose browse down the willow shrub, so that more grazers can be introduced on a larger scale.  Introduced elk escaped from an enclosure, but some found there way to the park without human help.  The list of potential future introductions includes Bactrian camels, saiga antelopes, yaks, asses, Siberian tigers, and cloned woolly mammoths.

A secondary discovery of this experiment determined the conversion of willow-shrub habitat to grassland mitigates the effects of climate change.  The hard compacted surface resulting from horse trampling keeps the permafrost intact.

Siberia is too far to travel.  I want to see a Pleistocene Park established within driving distance of my house.  Please sign my petition.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/transformation-great-smoky-mountains-national-park-pleistocene-park