Transformers: Age of Extinction        

Another fun one to work on. Thanks to my supervisor Rene Garcia and all other artists, supervisors, managers, production people and tech guys for making this possible. Here’s what I did on this one: – Lockdown – the main “bad guy” in the movie. I was responsible for modeling his face/head. Additional helmet armor and […]
          NatGeo magazine issue warns Trump on climate change, then describes artificial human evolution         

The April 2017 issue of National Geographic has two very important items.

One if “7 Climate Facts You Need to Know Now”, especially in view of President Trump’s pulling out of the Paris accords.

NatGeo says that extreme weather events even now are related to climate change, and some animals are already going extinct.

But the feature article is “The Next Human” by D. T. Max, with illustrations by Owen Freeman. The article traces how life in the desert, high altitudes, and later colder climates all affected human evolution. Human behavior may have favored development of starch metabolism.  Environments seemed to encourage a “thrifty gene” which leads to obesity in some native populations when exposed to processed foods, but less so in European populations because of centuries of food preparation technology. Sometimes European men became taller and kept more body hair partly because women regarded them as more sexually attractive, but this did not happen in warmer climates.

There is a section called “Distant Future” regarding human manipulation of genetics, and particularly “Can Humans Adapt to the Red Planet?” On Mars, bodies would become tall and thin in lower gravity and hairless in an indoor controlled environment without dust.

          Tag! You're It        

Biologists catch and tag big sawfish in Florida waters

Food for Thought

Once a common top predator throughout coastal seas around the globe, sawfish have become remarkably rare. Indeed, today most populations are threatened with extinction. So spotting even one of these animals is reason to rejoice, notes Beau Yeiser of Mote Marine Laboratory in southern Florida. And this week, "we are nothing but giddy," he reports.

He and colleague Tonya Wiley just returned from a 2-day sawfish-scouting expedition during which they tagged a 7-foot male on Oct. 16. At that size, the strapping youth may be 5 to 7 years old, Yeiser says. He cautions, however, that estimating age is challenging "as we try and piece together the life history of this species. We don't even know its size at maturity yet."

These animals—essentially flattened sharks with wings—are members of the ray family. Only one species of this fish remains in U.S. waters, mostly off of Florida. Over the first half of the 20th century, this smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) was fished to the brink of extinction—largely by accident.

Although many cultures eat sawfish—the animals' fins are especially prized in Asia as the featured ingredient in a pricey soup—most of the animals in U.S. waters were landed and destroyed as bycatch, that is, nuisance species hauled in by commercial fishing fleets. The dire status of sawfish globally won these animals protection, last month, under a treaty banning international trade in endangered species (see Hammered Saws).

So far this year, Yeiser and Wiley have caught just 14 sawfish, most of them less than 4 feet long. Those would still be little kids, considering that these fish are almost a yard long at birth. Then again, the pair had expected only small ones because they've mainly been cruising coastal shallows this year in hopes of running into newborns and youngsters.

The scientists attach a numbered identification tag to the dorsal fin of every sawfish they catch—and then release the animal.

But last week's catch was so big that it qualified for a second identifier: a pop-up archival tag, or PAT. These recording devices are so heavy that they're reserved for large sawfish—at least 7-footers. To date, only some dozen of these animals have received PATs. Costing at least $4,000 each, these data-storage systems collect information every minute, for months, on the depth at which its host is swimming, the water temperature, and light levels. The latter information gets plugged into a computer program that roughly gauges the animal's geographic coordinates at any moment.

Researchers program a PAT to pop off the fish on a particular date. Once it floats to the surface, it sends its stored information in spurts, twice a day, to a satellite. That orbiting relay station then shoots those data back to Earth and the scientists' email addresses.

Last week's sawfish encounter took place in a southern Florida national wildlife refuge, in very shallow water. Investigated as a possible nursery, Yeiser says "I was expecting any sawfish that I might catch to be perhaps 4 to 5 feet in length." Instead, he found a much older juvenile. "But that's the beauty of this [sawfish] project; you never know what you are going to get when you're scouting a species that has not been studied much!"

Yeiser named the youth that he tagged last week Raloff. Hmmm—I like the sound of that. Its tag is programmed to pop off on March 15. Stay tuned for an update on my namesake's travels.

If all goes well, that is.

A 7- and an 11-foot sawfish each received PATs in May. Although the satellite tags had been programmed to pop off 3 months later, they actually surfaced within just a couple weeks, Yeiser says—and were never recovered.

So, each time biologists deploy the pricey devices, he says, "we just cross our fingers that they won't pop up early—or get lost in the middle of the Gulf."

Don't try this yourself

The sawfish is an endangered species, so federal law forbids its capture—except by researchers who have been granted a waiver. And even they need to release an animal after measuring and tagging it.

It's against the law to even harass the animals. Still, anglers may inadvertently snag one of the toothy marvels. When that happens, this species "should be released by keeping the fish in the water and cutting the line as close to the hook as possible," according to guidelines issued late last year by the National Marine Fisheries Service in St. Petersburg, Fla. "If it can be done safely, untangle the line if it is wrapped around the saw. Do not handle the animal or attempt to remove any hooks on the saw, except for with a long-handled dehooker," NOAA says.

Biologists request that any anglers who sight a sawfish report their encounter to the Mote lab. Its scientists are maintaining a database to help them identify important habitat for these endangered animals.

As interesting as these piscine oddities are, biologists would prefer that the public give the fish a wide berth. The primary reason: Approaching the animals can stress them, chase them from what should be waters safe from predators, or even interfere with their reproduction.

But there's another reason to steer clear, according to Captain Harvey Lee Hamilton, who charters a fishing boat out of Pineland, Fla. "I've caught plenty of sawfish in my life, and I'll tell you: They're dangerous. I'm still scared to death of them." Their saws—which he terms blades—are edged with dozens of razor-sharp "teeth." The muscular animals slash those saws from side to side to kill prey or defend themselves.

Says Hamilton: "Those fish get big, with blades that can go to at least 5 foot." And they slash those blades "so fast," he says, "that they could slice your feet off." Indeed, he told Science News Online: "I'd rather fight a shark than a sawfish."

If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.


Beau Yeiser and Tonya R. Wiley

Center for Shark Research

Mote Marine Laboratory

1600 Ken Thompson Parkway

Sarasota, FL 34236

Smalltooth Sawfish Coordinator

National Marine Fisheries Service

Southeast Regional Office, Protected Resources Division

263 13th Avenue South

St. Petersburg, FL 33071
Further Reading

2006. Mote scientists to help eBay identify species in new sawfish ban. Mote Marine Laboratory news release. Jan. 25. Available at [Go to].

Mote Marine Laboratory. How you can help save the U.S. smalltooth sawfish. Available at [Go to].

Raloff. J. 2007. Hammered saws. Science News 172(Aug. 11):90-92. Available at [Go to].

______. 2002. Clipping the fin trade. Science News 162(Oct. 12):232-234. Available at [Go to].

Sawfish in Peril: Sawfish Education Program. Available at [Go to].

          This is a true story        

Meet the little voices inside your headThe bounty hunter. The Hangman. The Confederate. The Sheriff. The Mexican. The little man. The cow puncher. The prisoner. No one to trust. Everyone to hate. The world's most dangerous times created the world's most dangerous group. Can a great man be a good man?

In a world on the brink the difference between war and peace was one honest man. One who has returned, as if from the dead. The dead are alive. When they tried to silence him, he made the world listen. Winning is the only option. Break the story. Break the silence. Blood lost. Life found. A heartbreaking journey. Bring Him Home. Midnight is just the beginning. Only the mad survive.

No One Comes Up Here Without a Damn Good Reason. Love knows no boundaries. The border is just another line to cross. Two countries, two loves, one heart. Her Story, Her Voice. Some people change your life forever. The girl behind the name.

Their spirit would never be broken. There is nothing more human than the will to survive. Find the courage to be yourself. Have the courage to love. Lose control. Your legacy is more than a name. Every generation has a story. The next generation of revolution. The future belongs to the mad.

What happens to me if I fail your test? Are you curious? Are you now or have you ever been...

We all dream in Gold. What a lovely day.

I wrote this as an experiment and for fun, written solely from tag-lines of the Oscar-nominated movies of 2015. The heading is from The Big Short. For the rest, hover on them to reveal the movie names.

Before this, I have retold Where The Mind Is Without Fear using movie posters, and wrote a story just out of movies' names: Stranger than fiction.

          In the name of development        
The indigenous community of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has been systematically alienated from their land by the colonial and post-colonial policies. A new book chronicles the change.
The forests and the tribal communities of the islands are being decimated. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Pankaj Sekhsaria’s recent book Islands in flux--The Andaman and Nicobar Story is a collection of around 20 years of his writings on the environmental and conservation concerns faced by the indigenous tribal communities of the region. Unlike his previous book, The last wave, a factual fiction adventure story dealing with love, longing and loss, this one is a collection of contemporary developments in the islands. The book is divided into seven parts and several chapters each dealing with the societal and ecological facets of the islands. Issues related to the environment, wildlife conservation and development policies that threaten the island’s indigenous communities have been chronicled by the author who is a long-time member of the NGO, Kalpavriksh.

Alienation of islanders

The book begins with the section, Setting the context, in which he writes about the history of the alienation of the island communities living there for over 40,000 years. The author takes a dig at the history writers of the modern democratic Indian state who have left gaping holes in their writings by not sudying the ancient indigenous communities--the Great Andamanese, the Onge, the Jarawa and the Sentinelese. It is here that the author mentions “if the real and complete history of the islands is ever written, the British would not be more than a page and India could only be a paragraph”.

The indigenous people have been systematically alienated from their resources by the British colonial policies and the post-colonial development-oriented policies of India. The Britishers set up a penal colony in the islands in 1858, the Japanese occupied the islands during the World War II, and during the post colonial period, thousands of settlers from mainland India were brought to the island. Though the islanders put up a fierce fight to defend their territories, the social fabric of the island communities has been violently torn apart and their populations decimated while the settlers outnumbered the original inhabitants. The region is witness to nation building exercises, hinduisation of ‘uncivilized junglees’ and even an attempt to rename the islands. The author calls this as an attempt to “reclaim what was never yours”. No effort has been made by way of scholarship or historical studies to take the islanders’ point of view.

Forestry is the chief source of revenue in cash in the islands but the system of forestry did not suit the region. The author quotes an official report by the Department of Environment, Government of India that argues that “the forestry system was leading to a preponderance of deciduous elements in the evergreen system that would eventually destroy the whole island ecosystem”. The carrying capacity of the islands has been long exceeded, the author says. Ill-conceived schemes like cattle rearing were introduced for a community that does not consume milk. Tourism is a concern in the islands which have been declared as ‘global biodiversity hotspot’.

The pristine forests and the people living in the Jarawa tribal reserve that covers half the island is under threat because of the ill conceived Andaman Trunk Road that separates the reserve land from the rest of the island. The Jarawas for whom the forests have been a home for ages have been reduced to begging around the Trunk Road that runs through the reserve. The road has been controversial due to the negative fallouts on the island’s ecology and the indigenous people. The Supreme Court had in 2002 passed an order to close it; the island administration chose to ignore it. Its closure was absolutely critical to protect the Jarawa community, the author says.

Islands turn colonies

The author chronicles the colonising of the islands in a chapter of the same name and discusses how the settlers look down upon the indigenous communities. Tension continues between the tribal communities especially the ancient tribal community of Jarawas and the settlers over land rights and there is a lack of political will to ease this even as the population of the Jarawas has been reduced to a few hundreds. “There are opinions that the Jarawas should be assimilated into the modern world, but it is clear that it is exactly this contact with the outside world that is rapidly pushing them towards the brink,” the author states.

In the chapter, A brief history of logging, Sekhsaria provides an account of the timber operations in the Andamans. He notes how as a part of India’s colonisation scheme, mainlanders were settled here. This was done to strengthen India’s claim over the islands. Incentives were offered to settlers by way of land and royalty free timber. Timber-based industry was promoted and liberal subsidies offered. Forests were exploited to benefit settlers who had little stake in the islands or its natural resources. Timber offered for millions decreased after the 2002 Supreme Court order. The order was in response to a petition by three NGOs to stop logging. The Supreme Court order that banned the cutting of naturally grown trees in the Andamans and Nicobar islands were welcomed by the environmental rights groups. But logging continued within the tribal reserve.

In the section, Environment, ecology and development, the author stresses the need for evolving sensible conservation policies. The author discusses the consequences of introducing exotic species into the island systems. This has led to irretrievable loss of native species and ecosystems. “The Andaman and Nicobar islands are unsurpassed in their botanical wealth, and the ethnomedical knowledge of the tribals who live here is astounding,” he says.

In the section, December 2004 and its aftermath, the author discusses the turmoil caused by the tsunami of December 26, 2004 which killed around 3500 people in the fragile Andaman and Nicobar islands, the worst hit area in India. The tectonic activity due to the third deadliest earthquake of the world in the last 100 years caused a significant shift in the islands’ geography with a permanent average uplift of four to six feet while parts of Nicobar islands went significantly under, with the southernmost tip, Indira point on Great Nicobar island going 15 ft down. Apart from dealing with how the tsunami destroyed the island, the section also highlights how the people picked up the pieces and started all over again.

Leave them alone

The tsunami waters inundated large areas of the islands causing damage to its coastal and marine ecology. In the aftermath of this turmoil, ecologists have suggested ‘no intervention’ and that ‘leaving areas alone should be the preferred management option’. A disturbing facet of the islands in recent times is its water scarcity. The islands have been facing severe water shortages even during the pre-tsunami period but this got worse after 2004. Fresh water sources got hit by the tsunami.

Talking about the faulty development planning, the author discusses how the former president late Abdul Kalam in 2005 in the aftermath of the tsunami announced a grandiose vision for the development of the Andamans and Nicobar islands. This included ecologically perilous components like deep sea fishing, exploitation of bamboo, value-added coconut products and tourism.

A central thread of Sekhsaria’s book has been the neglect and acculturation of the Jarawas, and their losing scuffle with the outsiders. The book presented in a journalistic manner handles the issue very sensitively and the author exhibits a keen understanding of the history of the indigenous people and its ecology.

Don't Show In All Article: 

          Sept 30: DINO NIGHT an evening with Museum Educator John Hankla        
DINO NIGHT an evening with Museum Educator John Hankla Wed, September 30 6:30-7:30 pm FREE for all ages Now featured at Wild Bear Mountain Ecology Center is Terataphoneus curiei, an extinct Tyrannosaur that lived in Southern Utah 72 million years … Continue reading
          New monkey species in Congo        
Wonderful news from my friends John and Terese Hart, who've been working on the scientific literature behind this announcement for at least two years, with their own funding. As John points out in this Guardian article, this announcement will also hopefully draw attention to the precarity of all small range creatures in DRC, from the White Rhino (now extinct in the wild) to the Okapi.

The bushmeat trade is widespread and the Congolese state lacks the means and will to combat poaching, whose growing militarization and network of international buyers were recently described in the New York Times (for which the Harts served as key sources).

In the area where the Lesula was identified, the Harts are working with local authorities and villagers to demarcate a protected area, with negotiated access rights for specific uses. This work is hands-on, intensive and very political. Popular support is essential to its success. This work is also privately funded -- and your support is needed.

I wrote a profile of the Harts and their work a couple years ago, back when the Lesula was still a zoological unknown. Their lifelong commitment to conservation in Congo, home of the last uncharted forests in Africa, is unmatched. In our cynical era we're expected to forego idols and heroes, but the Harts are doing incredibly important work in a country where conservation efforts and wildlife are constantly under attack.

Please visit their website to learn more and consider donating. 

          Comment on Azusa Street Prophecy – Certainty or Warning? by Sam        
While I agree with you 100%, I think it is also people not spending intimate time alone with God (or here in the USA). When they come together to worship corporately, there is really nothing there. I see some people at the alter that can only pray for a minute or two and that's it. No true relationship with Jesus at all. There is also another part of the Azusa St. Prophecies that the last days Christians will serve a God they will not pray to and will not fast before (not exact wording). Also fasting is something almost extinct in the body of Christ today. Per Jesus' examples, and in the old and new covenant it is something we need to do to keep our flesh under subjection, and afflict our soul as the word teaches. Thanks for your wonderful post I stumbled upon today. May God Richly Bless and Keep You!! Sam
          By: Joy        
Just a little note for those who might not know. Many native ferns are endangered plants. Please check with your local DNR (most states list the plants for that state online) before gathering these precious ferns for cooking. Many varieties of ferns are endangered species in the US and there are hefty fines for disturbing them in any manner, whether cutting for cooking or replanting native species on your property. Some of these ferns are nearing extinction and the growth in the spring is their only method of propagation.
          Playing around with genetic algorithms        
I played around with some genetic algorithms today for the enemies in my next flash game.

Here's a quick overview of the game (without giving away too many spoilers about it):
The player is given a planet which he can grow trees on. Trees which attack against these swarms of space bugs that are coming to do something to the planet. There's a lot of customization and balancing the player needs to do when growing trees, and a lot of options there. It'd be a shame for them to discover a dominant strategy within 5 minutes of starting the game and not try anything different to defend against incoming bugs. That can be prevented by making different kinds of enemies that counter common strategies, but that still leaves open a possibility for a dominant one based on the limitations of having a finite set of enemies or a hand controlled difficulty curve.

There's 2 parts to each "enemy". The "swarm" and the "bugs". A swarm has one behavior. It is invisible, but moves around the world physically and contains data about how it wants to orbit the planet and how fast it can move and how spread out the bugs in it are going to be. Each bug has its own behaviors and variables too, life, speed, how fast it keeps up with its swarm, how often it changes direction etc. With some defaults set it looked very "swarmy" and felt like very much like a swarm of gnats orbiting a planet.

Anyway, the thought came up today to use some genetic algorithms to make the enemies dynamic. I don't like to do too much research on topics before experimenting (rather learn for myself after knowing basic knowledge about it), so I didn't. Some issues that came up, there wouldn't be enough enemy swarms throughout the game to make for interesting adaptation or fast enough for how much control the player will have (although there'd definitely be enough individual bugs), so there had to be some sort of a way to "control" the evolution or speed it up a bit. Secondly, there's more than one type of enemy, each with different classifications for what counts as "success". I haven't actually implemented more than one enemy yet (or made them attack you) so I didn't worry about that one right now, but I have some ideas.

This is the structure I came up with and implemented today.
There's a base class called "Breedable" and a class called "Gene". Breedable contains a basic interface for species, with a mother and father reference, a "score" (ranking on how well it performs), and a function called "Breed" which child classes need to override. Gene is a wrapper around a Number (flash's "double" type) which defines mother and father genes, which breedable owns it, and some constants for how to combine genes during breeding. "Mix" specifies if the parent genes get averaged, or if it just randomly picks one or the other. "Mutation" is a range for how much to randomly mutate the number during breeding. "Inertia" is my solution for "speeding" up evolution. During breeding, it looks at it's parents' scores and their parents' scores to see if the previous mutation made the species "better" or "worse". It will then use that to randomly mutate the number again to lead it in the direction of "most success".

A "GenePool" contains a list of species and the scores they got. It has a maximum size (for how many of an individual species can exist at once in the pool). Before breeding, you refresh it which sorts itself by score and extincts the species which make it go over the limit. You then get species from it by calling "extract", which grabs 2 randomly (weighted by score), breeds them, and returns the new species which you pass on to the bug or swarm to create itself out of. When the bug/swarm is done, it grades it's species and puts it in the gene pool. When a species breeds, it's marked as old and gets sorted near the end of the pool the next time it's refreshed to ensure old species don't hang around forever (as species never get rescored once they're in the pool, just their new children do).

There's 2 species types I have right now. "SwarmSpecies" and "BugSpecies". Each swarm species contains a GenePool of bug species. When breeding swarm species together, it combines the bug genepools together too. The main game controller contains the swarm's GenePool. At each wave, it refreshes the pool and generates new species from it. Since enemies don't have a good metric for how well they performed right now (as I don't have the enemies being dangerous yet), the "score" is just how many ticks they could stay alive for.

Initial results look promising. After killing some basic bugs, I played with it a few times. Enemies realized that when they were close to the planet they were harder to hit (since less bullets could reach them when the planet was in the way), so new generations got progressively closer to the surface of the planet. I didn't like this cause if they were inside it makes them impossible to kill, so I added a minimum orbit distance. Yet again though, they found a way to burrow into the planet by orbiting fast and moving slow (they never had much time to catch up to where they were orbiting, so they lagged behind, conveniently inside the planet). After about 6 waves I had enemy swarms completely inside the planet, unable to be hit, effectively invincible. Trying again, I shot just the swarms who liked to bunch together before clearing out the rest, and sure enough the enemies got smaller and more spread out (= way harder to hit with big powerful shots, but much easier to hit with lots of tiny low power shots). I had to impose some limits on the speed too, enemies found out that if they moved very slowly, it would take them way longer to get in range of being shot in the first place. I even had an enemy just sitting there on the blind side of the planet not orbiting cause I couldn't hit it there. Variables that mattered less for survival tended to stay pretty random throughout the game, as expected too.

I'll probably keep this in the game. It makes it interesting, even though it still needs a lot of tweaking to get right (and of course, I need to make real enemies too).

Enemies have learned to burrow and grow huge
Europeanhoneybee I haven't posted much for a variety of reasons, but mainly I have been doing yard work and gardening. (This post was actually begun in early April.) We had a late frost and very long, cold winter here in socal- for us anyway - which led to a later start than in many previous years. Chores ranged from dead-heading frost damaged plants to prep work and actual planting of seeds and starter plants in the veggie garden, and potting up plants for the local garden club's plant sale. I sadly lost about half of my orchids as a result of a week or 2 with lows in the high teens, which made my yard work less satisfying.

One thing that had me very concerned was the lack of bees in my citrus trees. Years ago we had so many bumblebees that lived on the hillside behind us that collected pollen from our property, until a housing development had to go in. (I plant to attract insects and birds yearlong.) With six assorted citrus in bloom and nary a bee in sight, I was very worried. However, I noticed my apricot and plum trees has baby fruits, so I was hoping the bees would come again. Thankfully, after 2 weeks without seeing a single bee, the bees slowly arrived. It was too late to order bees for my area so I was very relieved! Believe me, when you have millions of heavenly citrus flowers perfuming the air and do not see even one bee, you get worried. Especially this year... (Subject reference books are listed at end of post.)

If you haven't heard about the sudden drastic decline in the honeybee population, it is a real crisis. There are many reasons why bees die ( A few reasons being diseases, pests, pesticides GMO crops, natural disasters, etc.) but in the last year or two colony collapse disorder is at the root of the current crisis. The bees seem to completely disappear from the face of the earth as if they have been abducted by aliens or pulled up to God in an insect version of the rapture. The problem is worldwide and no one seems to know why.

As "smart" as man believes he/she is, we rarely are when we try to improve on Mother Nature. Since the "Better Living Through Chemistry" campaign began, man has made many things worse as well as better.

The "honeybee" is not native to many places in the world, but everywhere with flowering plants has its native bees. We have seen fit to eliminate, or almost decimate, many of the native species through one means or another. These same native species may have to be our saviours if colony collapse disorder continues to near extinction.

An excellent natural remedy to boost native bees can be read in the "San Francisco Chronicle: Time for a new approach to crop pollination by Deborah K. Rich, Special to The Chronicle, Saturday, May 21, 2005

Recognizing the very real threat of crop failure that our dependence upon a single species of bee poses, researchers are coaching pollinator understudies. The blue orchard bee (also known as the orchard mason bee) is proving a cooperative pollinator of some early blooming orchard crops, and the bumble bee is helping to pollinate hot-house tomatoes.

Still, it may be time -- while there still is time -- for another approach entirely. The United States is home to 4,000 bee species, of which 1, 500 are found in California, to say nothing of the many moth, fly, wasp and butterfly species that also assist with pollination."

Everyone who gardens can help. How-tos can be found at The Xerxes Society's Pollinator Conservation Program pages and at the USDA.

For those of you who wish to read more on bees, the following books can be found at your local independent bookstore or on the net from a worldwide indie by searching by author and/or title at Bookfinder or ADDALL.
Honey Bee Pests, Predators and Diseases by Roger A. Morse
Letters from the Hive: An Intimate History of Bees, Honey, and Humankind by Stephen Buchmann
Bees In America: How The Honey Bee Shaped A Nation by Tammy Horn
Bee diseases: Cause and Treatment by Eugene E Killion
The Queen Must Die and Other Affairs of Bees and Men by William Longgood
The Life and Times of the Honeybee by Charles Micucci (children's)
The Honey Makers by Gail Gibbons (children's)
Langstroth's Hive and the Honey-Bee: The Classic Beekeeper's Manual by L. L. Langstroth
The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture: An Encyclopedia of Beekeeping by Roger Morse (a classic!)
Bees & Honey: From Flower to Jar by Michael Weiler
Fifty Years Among the Bees by C. C. Miller (another classic)
The Dance, Language, and Orientation of Bees by Karl von Frisch
          Fukushima hot particle update        
SUBHEAD: New study of hot particles shows full radiation risks from Fukushima meltdowns are not recorded.

By Arne Gundersen on 27 July 2017 for Fairwinds Associates -

Image above: Scientist gathers particle sample along curb in Japan for radioactive analysis. Photo by Mikeo Kawasaki. From (

Today, the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment (STOTEN) published a peer-reviewed article entitled: Radioactively-hot particles detected in dusts and soils from Northern Japan by combination of gamma spectrometry, autoradiography, and SEM/EDS analysis and implications in radiation risk assessment.

Co-authored by Dr. Marco Kaltofen, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education, the article details the analysis of radioactively hot particles collected in Japan following the Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdowns.                          


  • Radioactive particles from Fukushima are tracked via dusts, soils, and sediments.
  • Radioactive dust impacts are tracked in both Japan and the United States/Canada.
  • Atypically-radioactive particles from reactor cores are identified in house dusts.
  • Scanning electron microscopy with X-ray analysis is used for forensic examinations.

Based on 415 samples of radioactive dust from Japan, the USA, and Canada, the study identified a statistically meaningful number of samples that were considerably more radioactive than current radiation models anticipated. If ingested, these more radioactive particles increase the risk of suffering a future health problem.

“Measuring radioactive dust exposures can be like sitting by a fireplace,” Dr. Kaltofen said. “Near the fire you get a little warm, but once in a while the fire throws off a spark that can actually burn you.”
The same level of risk exists in Japan. While most people have an average level of risk, a few people get an extra spark from a hot particle.

According to Dr. Kaltofen, “The average radiation exposures we found in Japan matched-up nicely with other researchers.  We weren’t trying to see just somebody’s theoretical average result.  We looked at how people actually encounter radioactive dust in their real lives.

Combining microanalytical methods with traditional health physics models,” he added, “we found that some people were breathing or ingesting enough radioactive dust to have a real increase in their risk of suffering a future health problem.

This was especially true of children and younger people, who inhale or ingest proportionately more dust than adults.”

Fairewinds’ book Fukushima Dai-ichi: The Truth and the Way Forward was published in Japan by Shueisha Publishing, just prior to the one-year commemoration of the tsunami and meltdowns. “Our book,”

Mr. Gundersen said, “which is a step-by-step factual account of the reactor meltdowns, was a best seller in Japan and enabled us to build amazing relations with people actually living in Japan, who are the source of the samples we analyzed.

We measured things like house dusts, air filters, and even car floor mats.  Collecting such accurate data shows the importance of citizen science, crowd sourcing, and the necessity of open, public domain data for accurate scientific analysis.”

Fairewinds Energy Education founder Maggie Gundersen said, “We are very thankful to the scientists and citizen scientists in Japan, who sought our assistance in collecting and analyzing this data. We will continue to support ongoing scientific projects examining how people in Japan and throughout the world experience radioactive dust in their daily lives."

The complete peer reviewed report and project audio description by Dr. Kaltofen are available here at the Science of the Total Environment website.  

Interactive data and the supporting materials are available here at the Fairewinds Energy Education website.

Also see slide presentation by Dr. Marco Kaltofen (

Video above: Arne Gundersen about hot particles. Tokyo soil samples would be considered nuclear waste in the USA. From (

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: E-Fukushima bosses on trial 6/25/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco plan to dump tainted water 7/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Stop Fukushima as Olympic venue 5/10/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Continuing Fukushima danger 4/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Continuing Fukushima danger 4/14/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than ever 2/5/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation on West Coast 1/13/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup cost to double 12/9/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Tokyo damaged by nuclear pellet rain 9/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Power and Climate Failure 8/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: High radioactivity in Tokyo 8/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Blinders 8/18/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and Chernobyl 5/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation damages Japan 4/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima's Nuclear Nightmare 3/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fifth Fukushima Anniversary 3/11/16
Green Road Jounral: Balls filled with Uranium, Plutonium 2/19/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima impacts are ongoing 11/8/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Petroleum and Nuclear Coverups 10/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Contamination 10/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioactive floods damage Japan 9/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fir trees damaged by Fukushima 8/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan restarts a nuclear plant 8/11/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima disaster will continue 7/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Too many fish in the sea? 6/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima prefecture uninhabitable 6/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: In case you've forgotten Fukushima 5/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radiation damages top predator bird 4/24/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukshima die-offs occurring 4/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Impact Update 4/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of atomic power 3/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuku-Undo 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to kill Pacific Ocean 1/23/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Environmental Catastrophe 8/25/14
ENE News: Nuclear fuel found 15 miles from Tokyo 8/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Daiichi hot particles 5/30/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese radiation denial 5/12/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Entomb Fukushima Daiichi now 4/6/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Disaster 3 Years Old 4/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese contamination 2/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Bill for Fukushima monitoring 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco under reporting of radiation 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout in Alaska 1/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima engineer against nukes 1/17/14
Ea O Ka Aina: California to monitor ocean radiation 1/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Demystifying Fukushima Reactor #3 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US & Japan know criticality brewing 12/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Forever 12/17/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Brief radiation spike on Kauai 12/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Pacific Impact 12/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Berkeley and Fukushima health risks 12/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Madness engulfs Japan 12/4/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioisotopes in the Northern Pacific 11/22/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup in critical phase 11/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fuel removal to start 11/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima, What me worry? 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Remove other Fukushina fuel 10/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End to Japanese Nuclear Power? 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Poisoned Fish 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away 9/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima 9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Cocooning Fukushima Daiichi 8/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima burns on and on 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima 7/7/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to release radioactive water 2/8/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima as Roshoman 1/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushia Radiation Report 10/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout 9/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger 7/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima denial & extinction ethics 5/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl 4/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue 4/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima children condemned 3/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco faking Fukushima fix 12/24/11
Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris nears Midway 10/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 9/28/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima poisons Japanese food 7/25/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Black Rain in Japan 7/22/11
Ea O Ka Aina: UK PR downplays Fukushima 7/1/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan raises nuclear disaster level 4/12/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding 4/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima to be Decommissioned 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Learning from Fukushima 4/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Stick a fork in it - It's done! 4/2/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Non-Containment 3/30/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Meltdown 3/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11 


          Degrading the Amazon harms us        
SUBHEAD: Deforestation of Brazil  and resulting climate change endangers humanity.

By Dahr Jamail on 7 August 2017 for Truth Out -

Image above: In 2014 Brazil refused to join pledge to end deforestation. Photo by Greenpeace. From (

Warwick Manfrinato, the director of Brazil's Department of Protected Areas, has a deep understanding of biological interdependence, as well as its importance.

"If we are of utter service to nature, then we provide the benefits to all other living things on the planet," Manfrinato told Truthout in his office at Brazil's capital city recently. "I have the same value as a human as a jaguar has in nature, and both should be protected, otherwise we all go extinct, no matter what."

Manfrinato, whose department falls within the Secretariat of Biodiversity in Brazil's Ministry of Environment, is working on a variety of projects, including the establishment of a whale sanctuary that will cover the better part of the entire South Atlantic Ocean between Brazil's vast coastal area all the way across to the west coast of Africa. And on June 23, he and his colleagues launched a national "Corridors Program," with the goal of fostering "connectivity and genetic flux."

"We know the flow of genetics in biomes [biological systems] in life is critical," Manfrinato said. "We have to re-establish this, so a jaguar that exists in Mexico should be able to come all the way here without being killed. Physical connectivity allows for genetic connectivity. A monkey should be able to travel from one part of Brazil to another, without having to pass through land that has been cleared, where there is no forest."

Manfrinato's colleague, Everton Lucero, who is Brazil's secretary for Climate Change and Environmental Quality, was blunt with Truthout about what could happen if dramatic action is not taken to address the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD).

"The worst-case IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projection] is 4.5C by 2100, but at local levels here we see very different impacts already, and are already even seeing an 8C increase in places," Lucero told Truthout.

Manfrinato echoes this: The crisis, he says, has already arrived.

"Everything that is bad has already happened," he explained. "We've come to terms with who we are, and we are those who destroy the planet. We've already destroyed it."

Because of this, Manfrinato believes we already know what needs to be done.

"If we're going to look for solutions, we have to look for the solution for the complexity, not one individual thing," he said. "If there is no connectivity, there is nothing. And that is why I'm busy with building corridors of biodiversity."

He has his work cut out for him. But he's not alone: Many people are working toward similar goals in the Amazon.

A Giant Water Pump

The Amazon is one of the most critically important ecosystems on Earth, and certainly the most biodiverse. It is the world's single largest rainforest, as it is larger than the next two largest rainforests -- the Congo Basin and Indonesia -- combined.

The Amazon River is by far the world's largest river by volume, and has more than 1,100 tributaries, 17 of which are each longer than 1,000 miles. The Amazonian water system is so massive and complex that it influences rainfall patterns as far away as the US, and 70 percent of South America's gross domestic product is produced in areas that receive precipitation influenced by the Amazon.

Brazil's role in protecting the Amazon is critical, given that two-thirds of the rainforest is located within Brazil's borders.

In order to get a sense of the connections between Amazon protection and water issues, Truthout met with Fabio Eno, the coordinator for the Natural Sciences Unit of UNESCO in Brazil, in his office in the capital.

Eno thinks it is more than timely that Brazil happens to be hosting the World Water Forum in March 2018.

"Water and drought are critical issues here now, which is so ironic since Brazil is hosting this huge event on water next year, and we are facing water crisis in some of the largest cities here," Eno told Truthout. "What we are seeing in Brazil is that climate change has been and continues to be very clearly visible."

He pointed out that in Brasilia, where there used to be very clearly demarcated dry and rainy seasons, they are now imbalanced: The dry season is starting earlier, and there is less rain during the rainy season. This is a reflection of the progression of climate-related changes in the country.

"In the south, well known for rice production, which has high water consumption, they are facing more droughts and this is affecting local farmers," Eno explained. "States in the northeast are now more intensely affected by the dry season, so we see clearly the effects of climate change in all portions of Brazil."

Eno noted that the impacts have been so intense that Brazil has been caught unprepared, and sees this shift in climate as having contributed to a major international health crisis: Zika virus.

"With the major drought recently in Sao Paolo, people were encouraged to store water in basins in their residence, and even in their toilets," he said. "Then, not coincidentally, we have Zika virus outbreaks that came about the same year Sao Paolo was storing so much more water. People were storing water in every way they could after what happened, but weren't taking necessary care for safeguards. This caused a major international health issue."

Manfrinato sees water-related problems as the biggest climate disruption impacts humans have had.

"What differentiates this planet from every other planet is liquid water," he explained. "It has taken Earth millions of years to find the right balance of liquid water, and people don't understand how important that is and are messing it up with their greed and ambition, of which awareness is far more important."

Manfrinato explains that as humans have "fooled around" with temperature, they have shaken the very foundation of biology.

"Fooling around with water is impossible, as that is the tree of the fruit of life," Manfrinato said. "You mess with it, you mess with everything ... and we've already messed with it."

Lucero also underscored the Amazon's critical role in the watery realms, especially regionally. The rainforest, he said, provides "flying rivers" -- massive amounts of air-borne moisture that develop above the canopy and move with the clouds and rainfall patterns across South America.

"If you remove the forest, you will cause extreme drought in other regions," he told Truthout.

But he says that biodiversity is the Amazon's biggest contribution to the world -- and is the most important reason to care for the rainforest.

"The forest itself is suffering from climate change, as are other biomes," he said. "Variability of climate is affecting the forest from increasing flooding and wildfires, which may, in a doomsday scenario, compromise the entire forest."

Manfrinato sees humans as part of the ecosystem, and an integral part at that, but most assuredly not the apex.

"What is required is a shift of awareness of our being part of nature," he said. "The apex is the complexity. Humans are not the apex, and the awareness that comes from this is how dynamic the system is that allows for all of life on Earth.... It'll do this as long as we allow it to do so."

Manfrinato is deeply passionate about his work, and in the discussion, sounds as much like a philosopher for the planet as Brazil's director of protected areas.

"We need to respect complexity in order to survive as a species," he said. "Everybody and everything wins, or everybody and everything loses if we hold onto this lack of awareness that the complexity is the most important thing. Your apex contribution is to be aware of the complexity, and then to protect it."

Brazil's Forest Code

Many people are acutely aware that there is a massive problem with deforestation in the Amazon. Beginning in 2004, however, deforestation started to decline in the Amazon, primarily because of better protection policies in Brazil. However, the last two years have seen a dramatic increase again. Brazil's government has been in crisis, and monitoring and enforcement have been stymied, allowing for a resurgence.

Fabio Feldmann served in Brazil's parliament for 12 years in the 1980s and 1990s. He is famous for helping to bring positive changes to the forest code -- protections for the Amazon -- into Brazil's constitution in 1988.

"The single most important issue facing Brazil is protecting all of the critical biomes," Feldmann told Truthout during an interview at his home in Sao Paolo. "If you destroy the Amazon region in Peru, you have a great impact in Brazil, and vice versa."

He explained that there is currently only weak collaboration between the countries in South America regarding the Amazon, and this is a problem.

"When I was elected, there was a radical change [in consciousness] about environmental areas," he said. "But this design has not been translated into effective public policies, so now our generation must reflect about what our legacy is to be because right now the deforestation rates in the Amazon are unbelievably high, after so many years."

Feldmann said he is optimistic, and cites heightened public awareness about the land today as compared to 30 years ago. However, he asked, "Do we have time to do what must be done?"

Clayton Lino is president of the Biosphere Reserve Association of Brazil and is a member of the advisory committee for UNESCO's Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve. Truthout interviewed him at his office in the Biosphere Reserve of the Mata Atlantica rainforest in Sao Paolo, a beautifully forested island in the middle of the sprawling polluted city.

"We are under attack daily, because we have laws in the process of being made that destroy other laws that were there to protect the land," Lino said.

This is important to understand, Lino said, because there is so much international pressure on the Brazilian government to continue deforesting. Cattle ranching accounts for roughly 70 percent of the total deforestation in Brazil, and the demand for Brazilian beef in the US and Europe is driving that ranching.

"While local NGOs are working to protect the Amazon and the Mata Atlantica, we do not see any light now," he explained. "There is no international help, and the culture of corruption has infected many Brazilians now because corruption has come from the top down, so more and more people are starting to not respect basic laws."

He is so concerned because his beloved Mata Atlantica, the second biggest rainforest reserve in Brazil, is the most threatened area of rainforest in the world, second only to the Madagascar rainforest.

"We have more biodiversity here than even in the Amazon," he said while pointing out the window. "The Amazon is far bigger, but in the Mata ... we have more endemism [species that live only in one area] than anywhere else in the world."

Lino explained that fragmentation (isolating sections of the forest) is the primary problem in the Mata.

"There is high biodiversity and fragility, because if you destroy something in one place, it cannot come back in another area of the Mata," he said. "So, fragmenting it causes a very big problem."

Today, only 8 percent of the Mata Atlantica remains.

Caring as Protecting

"Without connectivity for evolutionary movement, it cannot proceed," Manfrinato explained of the natural corridors he is striving to create across his country. "This adaptation process needs north/south corridors, because species in the southern hemisphere need to migrate south, and in the north, they'll need to migrate northwards as global temperatures continue to increase."

Image above: Warwick Manfrinato, Director of Brazil's Department of Protected Areas, is working to reconnect all of the biodiversity corridors across the Amazon. Photo by Dahr Jamail. From original article.

Previous to his current job, Manfrinato was a member of the University of Sao Paolo's Amazon research group, which bore the idea of ecological corridors. This is why he was given the position he has in the government: to implement these ideas on the ground.

"Protection is connection, and vice versa; it has to be both," he said.

Claudio Angelo is the head of communications for Climate Observatory, an NGO. A former journalist, he now runs a news website for a vast network of 41 Brazilian NGOs which produces annual estimates of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

Angelo explained to Truthout that observable shifts in rainfall patterns are now becoming common across the country, along with a shifting of the timings of the wet and dry seasons. Plus, like much of the world, Brazil is seeing far higher temperatures than ever before. He points to some farming regions that have already seen 6C increases.

"Brazil has warmed faster than the global average, since we are in the tropics," Angelo said. "Since 1961, it is 1C hotter in Brazil, and it took us half the time to warm the same as the rest of the world."

Angelo noted that the Amazon has seen two 100-year drought events (extreme drought events that only happen every 100 years) in a five-year period -- the first in 2005 and then another in 2010.

"The feedback mechanisms that exist between deforestation and climate change are my biggest concerns," he said. "Deforestation was 46 percent of our emissions last year, so our main focus is on mitigation. Hence, we are advocating for zero deforestation in Brazil."

Like Feldmann, Angelo had grown hopeful that his country was finally getting the deforestation of the Amazon under control, until recently.

"Over the last two years we saw this not to be the case, as we had a 60 percent increase in deforestation in just the last two years," he said. "Because of this, Brazil ranks in the top 10 [countries, in terms of] global greenhouse gas emissions."

When trees are chopped down, all the CO2 they sequestered from the atmosphere is released. Angelo pointed out the window and discussed the obvious changes.

"Brazil is still water rationing as we speak, after two record-drought years in a row," he explained. "2015 saw a 45-day heat wave. There is no way you can take off a huge chunk of some part of the planet and think it won't have a major impact on climate change."

As a climate journalist Angelo has reported from the Arctic, Greenland, Antarctica and deep into the Amazon. But right now, he is most struck by what he is seeing in his hometown of Brasilia. When he was a child, he remembers how cold it was in the evenings during the winter, and how summers were not as hot as they are now.

"The number of warm nights, when it is not below 20C, has increased 10 times more than it was 30 years ago," he lamented. "Most of the year here now it's just nasty. It's just hot, and it wasn't like this 20-30 years ago."

Personal experience plays a core role in Manfrinato's motivations, as well. He shared his experience from a recent long hike he'd taken that had a deep effect on his perception of the planet.

"It was in a newly protected area of Brazil and I came out of there feeling part of that place, meaning, that place is mine, and I'm going to protect it," he explained. "And so, we need everyone to start feeling that way about places ... about the planet. You belong to it because it belongs to you. You don't protect it because it belongs to everybody, you protect it because it belongs to you. The land belongs to me, because I belong to the land."

Manfrinato continues his work to reconnect wildlife habitat on the local levels. He aims to move it from local to regional connections, then regional to national, then across borders, then continental.

"We are promoting this internationally," Manfrinato said. "Because without reconnection, we will not survive."

          Eating as an agricultural act        
SUBHEAD: The taste of good food comes from the land and it tells you its tale on your tongue.

By Alicia Miller on 6 August 2017 for Sustainable Food Table -

Image above: A rounf of raw milk farmer's cheese. From (

Wendell Berry’s astute statement that “eating is an agricultural act,” uncontrovertibly connects food back to the land and back to the soil.

As he reminds us elsewhere, the soil is where we begin in the most fundamental way: it is “…the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all… Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”

One of the sessions at the Harmony in Food and Farming conference featured Darina Allen, Bronwen Percival and Illtud Dunsford, and took Berry’s statement as a starting point, going on to explore this most essential relationship between food and the land from which it comes.

Darina Allen, who chaired the session, is one of the early doyennes of the farm to table movement that had its efflorescence in the 70s and 80s.

Having founded Ballymaloe Cookery School in 1983, the school has a long and illustrious history introducing chefs and other students to the ethos of ‘Slow Food’ cooking, using the wonderful organic produce of the Ballymaloe farm.

The session focused on the two very personal journeys from farm to table of the session’s speakers.

Bronwen Percival has for many years been the cheese buyer for Neal’s Yard Dairy.

Her interest in cheese and dairying more generally has roots in her own family history – her grandfather emigrated from Switzerland to California in 1906, starting up a small mixed farm which grew over decades into an intensive dairy enterprise that finally collapsed when, even with 2300 cows milking, it could not compete with ever larger and more intensive farms.

Percival is a purveyor of farmhouse cheeses and she seeks out those for purchase by Neal’s Yard Dairy which still retain the distinctive specificity of place of the farms where they were made.

She spends her time travelling to farms and working with farmers to encourage best practice and the sharing of knowledge between farmers, breaking down the silos in which many of them live and work, to extend learning.

Percival is concerned about the knowledge and expertise lost as dairying and the tradition of farmhouse cheeses changed “so drastically” with the rise of intensification. The industrialisation of cheese has been a serious threat to quality farmhouse cheese, and Percival is most interested in the microbial communities that are specific to a farm and give cheese a distinctiveness that is like no other farm.

She has been researching this over the past few years and is shortly to be publishing a book on the topic Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes and the Fight for Real Cheese.

The root of this specificity goes straight back to soil and the fields and forage that animals graze on a farm. Percival commented that, “Cheesemaking is about ecology and farming…this involves the soil, the land, the plant biodiversity on each farm and the ecology of that entire system. This is where cheese starts.”

While the milk produced by grazing ruminants on very specific fields may not have much variation in flavour, when this milk is processed into cheese, the very diverse array of microbial life particular to that farm becomes vividly apparent. Farmhouse cheese should taste of the farm it comes from and tell the taster about the farming system which produced it.

Cheesemaking on the level of farmhouse cheese is governed by locality and the importance of this is something that has been lost in industrial cheese production. Allen commented on how eating has changed and people eat fewer and fewer local foods. This decline in local diets may also be having an impact on health.

“Each farm has its own ecosystem and flora and the food that comes from it is uniquely from that place and for local people, it’s local food. But nowadays, the reality of most people’s lives…very little of the food that people eat is actually local food.

Years ago, [people] would have had their own milk, their own eggs, their own vegetables; [these] would have come from the local area and would be carrying local antibodies.”

The disappearance of local foods in local diets is notable in British cheese-making. Percival recites a litany of decline among local cheeses – in 1939, there were 333 farmhouse producers of Cheddar, in Somerset, and in 2017 that had declined to 3; similarly, Wensleydale, in the same period went from 176 to 1; and the last farmhouse Stilton ceased production in 1935.

The homogenisation of cheese from industrial production is a threat to farmhouse cheese the world over. Percival commented that, “We are at the end point of a very long decline in the profitability and sustainability of making cheese on farms.”

We need to return to cheesemaking that reflects the flavour of farming and understands the value of small-scale and the particularity it brings to cheese.

The conversation moved to Illtud Dunsford, who comes from a long line of farmers working the same valley near Llanelli in West Wales for over 300 years. Dunsford was a Nuffield scholar and was interested in the harvest of pigs across the globe, looking at how the whole pig was used.

His story is one steeped in history and tradition – his farm dates back to the 12th century and features in the Mabinogion.

He raises Welsh Pigs and feeds them using ‘waste’ co-products – such as brewer’s grains, whey, bread, waste beer – again a very traditional aspect of animal husbandry. Dunsford also sources local feed, mainly barley and wheat as alternatives to soya. ‘Pannage’ – the tradition of taking pigs into the woods to eat acorns and other wind-fall food in the autumn – is also something he does.

Dunsford is raising slow growing pigs in contrast to conventional practice in pig production – he is interested in flavour, not mass.

The Welsh Pig is a rare breed that is coming back from a steep decline and Dunsford has been working with the Pedigree Welsh Pig Society to save the genetic specificity of the breed and also to have these pigs designated as Traditional Speciality Guaranteed, under the European Protected Food Name programme.

This designation is defined not just by the particularity of the pig in a specific place but also by a traditional farm system of raising and harvesting these pigs – it is ‘Traditionally Reared Pedigree Welsh Pork’.

It is important to Dunsford that his products come out of a farming system which privileges slow development, high animal welfare and locality. Dunsford is now seeking a further designation from Slow Food as a ‘Presidia Product’.

This designation “sustains quality production at risk of extinction” and encompasses relationships with the farmers, processors, chefs and all the people linked to that product.

Dunsford and Percival both tell stories that grow out of family history and argue for the importance, and indeed the necessity, of farming systems which make explicit connections with the land and communities they sit within.

That food always links back to its production system – both good and bad – is the essence of the statement ‘Eating is an agricultural act’. The taste of good food comes from the land and it tells you its tale on your tongue.


          Lay a hand on something        
SUBHEAD: Because the Boss Man is right around the corner and coming on fast, and he sounds pissed.

By Brian Miller on 6 August 2017 for Winged Elm Farm -

Image above: A father and son review their work together. From (

The old black man told me, “Lay a hand on something when the Boss Man comes around.” I was spending my summer between seventh and eighth grade stripping and waxing floors at the church my family attended, and it was my first real job.

The boss who was supervising me, had come around a corner and found me idly staring into space.

What may have seemed like cynical advice to offer a 12-year-old boy was actually meant as a well-intended reminder that we should stay focused on our work.

Throughout my high school years, summers were spent working construction jobs in the Louisiana swelter. I can’t say I was a towering example of the ideal worker, but both early jobs helped me build the muscle memory of an ethic that prepared me to enter into and navigate through adulthood.

It is an ethic that seems sadly out of fashion these days. As a culture, we seem to have slid into a pattern of expecting less and less from our children, both physically and intellectually, and allowing them to remain children for longer and longer.

Likewise, if my observations from years in the bookstore business are any indicator, the dominant genre of books read by adults now is the category of Young Adult.

In my career and on the farm, I have worked with many young people embarking on their first job, and it is increasingly hard to find new workers (and I’ll extend that range up into their late 20s) who have ever done any type of work.

Most have zero muscle memory for what is required to be responsible and productive either in the workplace or as citizens.

That undeveloped set of skills carries over into what are supposed to be the “responsible years”: how does a person learn, without having experienced work, to make independent decisions, take orders, discern truth from fiction, stay focused and busy, develop the stamina to play a constructive part in a culture over many decades?

Disciplined work habits established early on affect all aspects of our culture, from school and the workplace to the arts and civic sphere.

That there is a drift backwards into adolescence that pervades our culture — whether it’s reading cartoonish literature designed for an underdeveloped mind or a political sphere that is dominated by…well, let’s not go there — is extremely alarming.

Now, all this fretting may be the special preserve of a man who just this week will reach his mid-fifties, but I do worry what this downward spiral means for our culture, for our species.

I continue to be haunted by a work I read recently, “Ends of the World,” a science history of deep time and the cycles of extinctions on our planet.

For me, the book serves to highlight both our insignificance and the childish hubris of our species that imperils our brief reign here.

While it may not allow us to avert a crisis, it just may be time to return to the practice of “laying a hand on something.” Because the Boss Man is right around the corner and coming on fast, and he sounds pissed.


          Do you feel Capitalism dying?        
SUBHEAD: We need to develop the fortitude and skills needed for the future that is coming at us.

By Joe Brewer on 24 July 2017 for Medium -

Image above: A sign about "Capitalism" in Westminister Square with the Tower of London at British Parlement in the background. From (

Can you feel capitalism dying around you? There is a mental disease of late-stage capitalism causing deep worry and anxiety, prompting feelings of severe isolation and humiliation, combined with a profound sense of powerlessness for millions of people around the world.

The question I ask today is What are YOU going to do about it?

The feeling bubbles up when students graduate from college with mountains of debt and few prospects for meaningful work. It spreads across cities where housing prices are skyrocketing and a giant financial chasm exists between owners and renters of residential property. And it aches in the spiraling decay of exploited ecosystems as they unravel after decades (or centuries) of pillaging industries waging war on nature.

There is a reason only 5 men have the same aggregate wealth as half the human population. And that the Earth’s climate is ramping up for a phase transition that threatens our entire civilization. It is because a Global Architecture of Wealth Extraction has been carefully built up in the last five hundred years to produce exactly these outcomes.

And it is causing millions of people to feel a malaise of loneliness and quiet desperation that tickles at the edge of their tongues — yet they don’t quite know what to call it.

I’ve called it late-stage capitalism and this resonated with hundreds of thousands when I wrote about it last year. The depth and tenor of this resonance revealed that these feelings are truly widespread and the currents run deep within our veins.

So what are we going to do with these feelings? Some tens of millions of Americans decided to elect President Trump last year. They had fallen victim to a sophisticated information war that functions as a kind of political mind control.

Too few among them were able to discern what is really going on and now they are emotionally manipulated pawns in the end game for a small cohort of super-elites.

This is not an acceptable place to direct the feelings we have about the death of capitalism. It will only accelerate us on the path to planetary-scale collapse that we need to reckon with in our lifetimes.

Instead — if we can develop the fortitude and skills — we need to direct these feelings toward the much more productive path of learning how to design cultural change.

You see, it has been our inability to collectively set intentions that enabled elite groups to divide-and-conquer us in these times of mass confusion, hardship, and despair.

We need to recognize that the real state of power is culture and learn how to wield this power the way our ancestors once did.

Anthropologists who study hunter-gatherer societies have long known that they are all egalitarian.

Bullies and dictators were not able to rise up and boss people around because the group sanctioned against it.

They did this through a combination of shaming and ostracism, or in extreme cases they resorted to expulsion or execution. But they were able to keep the bullies in check becaus;
  1. everyone knew everyone else in these small bands of people and
  2. relationships of trust were robust enough to navigate conflicts and cooperate effectively against individuals who might be stronger or more skilled at hunting than any one person on their own.
We now have a vast digital infrastructure — the internet plus cell phones and satellite communication systems — that make it possible for the first time since the birth of civilizations to coordinate with transparency and trust at larger scales of society.

Yet we remain divided into political tribes, fighting amongst each other at the beckoning of those who set the terms of debate.

Are you a Democrat or Republican? Socialist or Capitalist?

A person of color or a beneficiary of white privilege? Categories of division such as these may have important realities embedded within them but none gets at the root issue that defines these times.

We are in a deep crisis that is carrying us all on the path toward extinction. We must learn to rise above our labels of separation and remember that everything is connected. Only then can we be seeds of transformation in a world where most of our stories are breaking down.

So I call upon you to name your feelings of angst and powerlessness.

Recognize that you are living through the death of a capitalist system that has brought our entire civilization to the brink of ruin.

Learn how to design for change in a world where only through a paradigm shift in values and behaviors will it be possible to navigate our way toward planetary resilience in the decades ahead.

We can get to the future we all want but only when we realize that it is our power to create cultural mythologies that has blinded us to our place within a world barreling toward humanity’s end.

This power must now be employed in service of life, compassion, humility, and care for the living world. These are dangerous times and our actions matter more than most of us are ready to realize.

Take hold of your feelings and direct them toward life, healing, and regeneration of our broken world.

We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our children, born and unborn.

And we owe it to the many other species whose very existence are now in jeopardy because an arrogant myth of human superiority has driven us to soil the beds we must sleep in as members of the natural world ourselves.

Time is short and there is much work to be done.

Onward, fellow humans.


amilton arrache la pole à Alonso
Dans le brouillard...
29/09/07 11:43



Conditions difficiles aujourd'hui en qualifications
Lewis Hamilton a subtilisé la pole position du Grand Prix du Japon à Fernando Alonso en toute fin des qualifications courues samedi dans le brouillard du Mont-Fuji et qui ont vu les McLaren confisquer la première ligne, devant les Ferrari, pour la 5e fois de la saison.

Les conditions météorologiques rendaient incertaine la tenue même de ces qualifications. Un épais brouillard avait cloué au sol l'hélicoptère médical dans la matinée, forçant les commissaires de course à avorter l'ultime séance d'essais libres après seulement quatre minutes.

Mais à 15h01 (06h01 GMT), bouclant son ultime tour, Hamilton a surgi du brouillard pour passer la ligne de chronométrage avec moins d'un dixième d'avance sur Alonso qui détenait jusque là le meilleur temps devant Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari).

"En passant la ligne, il y avait un écran géant en face et j'ai vu que j'avais décroché la pole avant même que l'équipe me le dise par radio", raconte Hamilton, ravi de cette quatrième pole. Il s'est également élancé en position de pointe en Hongrie mais seulement après la relégation d'Alonso qui avait signé le meilleur temps des qualifications.

D'accolades en démonstratives poignées de main, la quasi-totalité de l'équipe a été congratulée par le leader du Championnat qui n'a pas manqué de tomber dans les bras de son père Anthony.

Avec à ses côtés son meilleur ennemi, Hamilton -qui a encore eu au Japon des mots durs à l'égard d'Alonso- peut s'attendre à un départ plutôt chaud.

D'autant que l'Espagnol affiche une immense sérénité sans renier son agressivité au volant.

"Normalement, être du côté propre de la piste (où se trouve la pole) est un avantage, mais il est vrai que la pluie de ce samedi l'aura probablement lavée et que, peut-être, dimanche, les deux côtés seront plus similaires que d'habitude en termes d'adhérence", prévient-il. Et d'ajouter: "Je suis en première ligne et c'est le plus important".

Aussi, "la clé sera de passer en tête le premier virage", estime Hamilton.

Après la sévère passe d'armes entre les deux coéquipiers dans les premiers hectomètres du Grand Prix de Belgique quinze jours plus tôt, que se passera-t-il dimanche à l'extinction des feux?

          So what I'm getting from this article is that giant sloths went extinct by being delicious.        

So what I'm getting from this article is that giant sloths went extinct by being delicious.


          What is Social Darwinism?        
A social theory with nagging issues. Those with economic, physical, and/or technological power flourish, while others are destined for extinction.
          (Review) Stand Up That Mountain, by Jay Erskine Leutze        
For the past year or so I’ve struggled with a sense of helplessness about the environmental calamities we face now and in the future. Extinctions. Pollution. Biological invasions. Over hunting. Desertification. Dying rivers. Mountain top removal. Climate destabilization. The list … Continue reading
          The Gaping Holes in the Gap Theory        

Scripture gives us a complete—albeit contested—account of God’s work on the first day of creation.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:1–5)

Verse 1 is a general statement. The rest of Genesis 1 unfolds the sequence of God’s creative work, starting with a “formless and void” earth.

The Barren Planet

As day one emerges from eternity, we find the earth in a dark and barren condition. The construction of the Hebrew phrase that opens verse 2 is significant. The subject comes before the verb, as if to emphasize something remarkable about it. It might be translated, “As to the earth, it was formless and void.” Here is a new planet, the very focus of God’s creative purpose, and it was formless and void. The Hebrew expression is tohu wa bohu. Tohu signifies a wasteland, a desolate place. Bohu means “empty.” The earth was an empty place of utter desolation.

The same expression is used in Jeremiah 4:23. There, Jeremiah is lamenting the doom of Israel. He says in verse 19, “My soul, my soul! I am in anguish! Oh, my heart! My heart is pounding in me; I cannot be silent.” Why? Because the trumpet signaling God’s judgment of Israel had sounded. “Disaster on disaster is proclaimed, for the whole land is devastated” (v. 20). And he borrows the very words from Genesis 1:2: “I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless [tohu] and void [bohu]; and to the heavens, and they had no light” (v. 23). That is how he describes the condition of Judah under the devastating destruction that was brought upon it by the judgment of God. What was once a fruitful land had become a wilderness (v. 26). It was a wasted, devastated place without any inhabitants. It had lost its former beauty. It didn’t have any form. It didn’t have any beauty. It had reverted to a state of barrenness that reminded Jeremiah of the state of the earth in the beginning, before God’s creative work had formed it into something beautiful.

Isaiah borrows the same expression. Prophesying the destruction that would come in the day of the Lord’s vengeance against the Gentiles, he says their land will be turned into desolation. “He will stretch over it the line of desolation [tohu] and the plumb line of emptiness [bohu]” (Isaiah 34:11). That pictures God as the architect of judgment, using a plumb line of tohu, which is kept taut by weights made of bohu.

So these words speak of waste and desolation. They describe the earth as a place devoid of form or inhabitants—a lifeless, barren place. It suggests that the very shape of the earth was unfinished and empty. The raw material was all there, but it had not yet been given form. The features of earth as we know it were undifferentiated, unseparated, unorganized, and uninhabited.

Reading Eons Between the Lines

Some have suggested that an indeterminate interval of many billions of years is hidden between verses 1 and 2. This theory, known as the “gap theory,” was once quite popular, and is featured prominently in the Scofield Reference Bible. According to the gap theory, God created a fully–functional earth in verse 1. That ancient earth ostensibly featured a full spectrum of animal and plant life, including fish and mammals, various species of now–extinct dinosaurs, and other creatures that we know only from the fossil record.

Proponents of the gap theory suggest that verse 2 ought to be translated, “The earth became without form, and void.” They speculate that as a result of Satan’s fall, or for some other reason, the prehistoric earth was laid waste by an untold calamity. (This presupposes, of course, that Satan’s fall or some other evil occurred sometime in the gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.) Then, according to this view, God created all the life forms that we now see and thus remade earth into a paradise in six days of recreation.

Like other old–earth theories, the gap theory is supposed to explain the fossil record and harmonize the biblical account with modern scientific theories about a multiple–billion–year–old earth.

Most who hold to the gap theory suggest that the sun was not created on day four; it was merely made visible on that day by the clarifying of earth’s atmosphere or the receding of a vapor cloud that had encircled the earth. Other than that, the gap theory has one advantage over most other old–earth views: It allows for a straightforward literal interpretation of the creation days of Genesis 1.

The Gaping Holes in the Gap Theory

But the theory is accepted by relatively few today, because the biblical and theological problems it poses are enormous. For example, in Genesis 1:31, after God had completed all His creation, He declared it “very good”—which would not be a fitting description if evil had already entered the universe. Furthermore, if the fossil record is to be explained by an interval in the white space between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, that means death, disease, suffering, and calamity were common many ages before Adam fell. Yet Scripture says Adam’s sin was the event that introduced death and calamity into God’s creation: “By a man came death” (1 Corinthians 15:21); “Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin” (Romans 5:12). The gap theory also flatly contradicts Exodus 20:11: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.”

The plain meaning of the text seems to be that the barrenness described in verse 2 is simply the original state of the universe in the twenty–four hours immediately following its initial creation. It is not a state of desolation into which the earth fell; it is how the universe appeared in situ (in its original condition), before God finished His creative work.

The picture it conjures up is reminiscent of a potter wishing to fashion a beautiful vessel and then fill it to be used. He first takes a lump of unformed clay and places it on the wheel to mold and fit it to his purpose. In a similar way, God began with raw material. He first created a basic mass of elements that contained everything necessary to make a habitat for the life He would later create. And then using that mass of elements, He carefully shaped it and formed it into the perfect finished work He had planned from the beginning. So aside from the life–forms He created, His work throughout those first six days is comparable to the potter’s finishing work. It was mostly a process of perfecting what He had already created in the beginning.

(Adapted from The Battle for the Beginning.)


          Frequently Abused Verses: Does God Condemn Debate? (2 Timothy 2:14)        

Almost twenty years ago, during Moody Bible Institute’s Founder’s Week conference, I heard Jim Cymbala make the following plea for unity:

Think of the division right now in the Body of Christ. We have all these names that don’t exist to God: Baptist, Presbyterian, Nazarene, Pentecostal, Charismatic. God doesn’t have any idea what any of them mean, because He only has one Body. . . . He has one Body—the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ. Evangelical—evangelical doesn’t even exist to God. We’re using words that aren’t in the Bible. We’re thumping the Bible and being unbiblical while we’re thumping it. He only has—there’s one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Body. And He doesn’t like us dividing up His Body. [1] Jim Cymbala, “The Victorious Church,” February 5, 2000.

In the moment, it struck me as nonsense. Of course God knows what our denominational titles mean; of course He understands where the doctrinal lines have been drawn in the sand.

But then again, who is going to argue in favor of division?

The church’s current fascination with the soft ecumenism of identifying and celebrating common ground hinges on a false dichotomy—that all division grieves God. They point to a variety of texts—frequently wrenched out of their original context—to make that point.

Cymbala’s text, for example, was Mark 3:20–26—a passage in which Christ answered the allegations that His power came from Satan. The Lord rightly points out it would be illogical to use Satan’s power to cast out demons—that “a house divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” Cymbala turned that statement into a rebuke to a divided church.

Today another text is frequently floated as a mandate for unity: “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers” (2 Timothy 2:14). Often, that’s taken to mean we should not debate our doctrinal differences—that we shouldn’t let doctrine divide us at all. If we say we’re Christians, we ought to focus on what we agree on, and set aside anything on which we don’t.

Under certain circumstances, that posture might be acceptable. But, as John MacArthur explains, in a world overrun with false gospels and false christs, we cannot afford to simply brush away every doctrinal line in the sand.

Through the centuries, the steady stream of falsehood has become a deeper, wider, and increasingly more destructive sea of ungodliness. False teaching about God, about Christ, about the Bible, and about spiritual reality is pandemic. The father of lies is working relentlessly to pervert and corrupt the saving and sanctifying truth of God’s written Word, the Bible, and of the living Word, His Son, Jesus Christ.

“Christian” cults abound today as never before, as does every type of false religion. Many Protestant denominations that once championed God’s inerrant Word and the saving gospel of Jesus Christ have turned to human philosophy and secular wisdom. In doing so, they have abandoned the central truths of biblical Christianity—including the Trinity, the deity of Christ, His substitutionary atonement, and salvation by grace alone. In rejecting God’s truth, they have come to condone and embrace countless evils—universalism, hedonism, psychology, self-salvation, fornication and adultery, homosexuality, abortion, and a host of other sins. The effects of ungodly teaching have been devastating and damning, not only for the members of those churches but for a countless number of the unsaved who have been confirmed in their ungodliness by false religion. [2] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 2 Timothy (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 68.

As he writes in his book, The Truth War, today we need to be all the more fervent in our defense of the truth.

Jude’s command “to contend earnestly for the faith” is not merely being neglected in the contemporary church; it is often greeted with outright scorn. These days anyone who calls for biblical discernment or speaks out plainly against a popular perversion of sound doctrine is as likely as the false teachers themselves to incur the disapproval of other Christians. That may even be an understatement. Saboteurs and truth vandals often seem to have an easier time doing their work than the conscientious believer who sincerely tries to exercise biblical discernment.

Practically anyone today can advocate the most outlandish ideas or innovations and still be invited to join the evangelical conversation. But let someone seriously question whether an idea that is gaining currency in the evangelical mainstream is really biblically sound, and the person raising the concern is likely to be shouted down by others as a “heresy hunter” or dismissed out of hand as a pesky whistle-blower. That kind of backlash has occurred with such predictable regularity that clear voices of true biblical discernment have nearly become extinct. Contemporary evangelicals have almost completely abandoned the noble practice of the Bereans, who were commended for carefully scrutinizing even the apostle Paul’s teaching. They “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

But in our generation it sometimes seems as if the more aggressively something is marketed to Christians as the latest, greatest novelty, the less likely most evangelicals are to examine it critically. After all, who wants to be constantly derided as a gatekeeper for orthodoxy in a postmodern culture? Defending the faith is a role very few seem to want anymore. [3] John MacArthur, The Truth War (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 9798.

Far from the modern twist on 2 Timothy 2:14, much of what Paul wrote to his apprentice had to do with defending the church and holding fast to sound doctrine. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote:

As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. . . . This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. (1 Timothy 1:3–4, 18–19)

The same kind of exhortations are littered throughout Paul’s writing. In Acts 20:28–30 he warned the Ephesian church,

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

He further exhorted the Thessalonians, “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Paul was clearly not one to shy away from a doctrinal debate. He was a passionate defender of the gospel, and a tireless guardian of the truth.

So what should we make of his exhortation to Timothy “not to quarrel over words” (2 Timothy 2:14, ESV)? Here’s how John MacArthur explains it.

Paul’s purpose was to motivate and encourage Timothy to keep a firm grasp on that truth himself and to pass it on to others who would do likewise (2 Timothy 2:2). It is only with a thorough knowledge of God’s truth that falsehood and deceit can be recognized, resisted, and opposed. . . .

Logomacheō (wrangle about words) carries the idea of waging a war of words, in this instance with false teachers, who are later described as “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Such deceivers use human wisdom and reason to undermine God’s Word, and believers are not to debate with them, especially within the church. [4] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 2 Timothy, 70–72.

He goes on to explain why such a warning is particularly timely for the church today.

The barrage of ungodly ideas and verbiage that today is assaulting society in general, and even the evangelical church, is frightening. More frightening than the false ideas themselves, however, is the indifference to them, and often acceptance of them, by those who name the name of Christ and claim to be born again. Abortion, theistic evolution, homosexuality, no fault divorce, feminism, and many other unbiblical concepts and attitudes have invaded the church at an alarming rate and to an alarming degree. One of the most popular and seductive false teachings is the promotion of high self-esteem as a Christian virtue, when, in reality, it is the very foundation of sin. Such destructive notions are inevitable when Christians listen to the world above the Word, and are more persuaded by men’s wisdom than by God’s. Far too few leaders in the church today can say honestly with Paul that their “exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit” (1 Thessalonians 2:3).

As Christians become less and less familiar with Scripture and sound doctrine on a firsthand, regular basis, they become easy prey for jargon that sounds Christian but strongly mitigates against God’s truth. Such unbiblical and arbitrary ideas as being “slain in the Spirit” and “binding Satan” frequently replace or are valued above the clear teaching of and submission to Scripture. [5] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 2 Timothy, 73.

God’s people should not be combative; we must not walk around with doctrinal chips on our shoulders, looking for a fight. But we must also have a high enough view of God’s Word that we’re willing to stand up in its defense. We should not condemn doctrinal debate or disagreement; we should use them for God’s glory and the good of His church.


          Extinct native plant in Victoria getting second chance at life        
A native legume recently declared extinct in Victoria could soon be thriving again in the state.
           Australian spiny mountain crayfish and their temnocephalan ectosymbionts: an ancient association on the edge of coextinction?         
Cuthill, Jennifer F. Hoyal, Sewell, Kim B., Cannon, Lester R.G., Charleston, Michael A., Lawler, Susan, Littlewood, D. Timothy J., Olson, Peter D., and Blair, David (2016) Australian spiny mountain crayfish and their temnocephalan ectosymbionts: an ancient association on the edge of coextinction? Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 283 (1831). pp. 1-10.
           Coming, going, gone?: Population connectivity and extinction risk in restricted range coral reef fishes on isolated islands         
van der Meer, Martin H. (2013) Coming, going, gone?: Population connectivity and extinction risk in restricted range coral reef fishes on isolated islands. PhD thesis, James Cook University.
           Coral reefs as drivers of cladogenesis: expanding coral reefs, cryptic extinction events, and the development of biodiversity hotspots         
Cowman, P.F., and Bellwood, D.R. (2011) Coral reefs as drivers of cladogenesis: expanding coral reefs, cryptic extinction events, and the development of biodiversity hotspots. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 24 (12). pp. 2543-2562.
           Reef fishes on isolated islands: community structure, endemism and extinction         
Hobbs, Jean-Paul A. (2011) Reef fishes on isolated islands: community structure, endemism and extinction. PhD thesis, James Cook University.
           Decline of a biome: evolution, contraction, fragmentation, extinction and invasion of the Australian mesic zone biota.         
Byrne, Margaret, Steane, Dorothy A., Joseph, Leo, Yeates, David K., Jordan, Greg J., Crayn, Darren, Aplin, Ken, Cantrill, David J., Cook, Lyn G., Crisp, Michael D., Keogh, J. Scott, Melville, Jane, Moritz, Craig, Porch, Nicholas, Sniderman, J.M. Kale, Sunnucks, Paul, and Weston, Peter H. (2011) Decline of a biome: evolution, contraction, fragmentation, extinction and invasion of the Australian mesic zone biota. Journal of Biogeography, 38 (9). pp. 1635-1656.
           Historical rainforest contractions, localized extinctions and patterns of vertebrate endemism in the rainforests of Australia's wet tropics         
Williams, Stephen E., and Pearson, Richard G. (1997) Historical rainforest contractions, localized extinctions and patterns of vertebrate endemism in the rainforests of Australia's wet tropics. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 264 (1382). pp. 709-716.
          Happy Birthday Mr. Cuppy        

Will Cuppy (August 23,1884-September 19,1949)
American Humorist

The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody, one of the funniest books ever written, was penned by Will Cuppy. The fact that he is virtually unknown today goes to show how messed up today is. From Indiana and a graduate of the University of Chicago, Cuppy was a staple of the New Yorker during the 30s and 40s, and wrote his weekly column "Light Reading" for the New York Herald Tribune for 23 years. A wonderfully funny writer, he should be more well known, and of course more often read. Thankfully most of his books are still in print and available. Get some today. Happy Birthday Will Cuppy...

  • Books
    • (1951) How to Get from January to December, New York: Holt. Edited by Fred Feldkamp. Illustrations by John Ruge.
    • (1950) The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody, New York: Holt. Edited by Fred Feldkamp. Illustrations by William Steig.
    • (1949) How to Attract the Wombat, New York: Rinehart.
    • (1944) The Great Bustard and Other People (containing How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes and How to Become Extinct), New York : Murray Hill Books.
    • (1941) How to Become Extinct, New York: Farrar and Rinehart. Illustrations by William Steig.
    • (1931) How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes, New York: Horace Liveright, Inc. Introduction by P. G. Wodehouse. Illustrations by "Jacks."
    • (1929) How to Be a Hermit, New York: Horace Liveright.
    • (1910) Maroon Tales, Chicago: Forbes & Co..
  • Books, edited
    • (1946) Murder Without Tears: An Anthology of Crime, New York: Sheridan House.
    • (1943) World's Great Detective Stories: American and English Masterpieces, New York, Cleveland: World.
    • (1943) World's Great Mystery Stories: American and English Masterpieces, New York, Cleveland: World.

          Have We Learned Anything From the Extinction of the Vaquita?        
Today, on Endangered Species Day, we bid farewell to yet another beautiful species decimated by human activity: the vaquita.  With less than a handful of these small porpoises left in the world, experts have concluded there is no option but to pursue a risky, last-ditch attempt at preserving vaquitas by removing them from the wild and placing them in captivity....… Continue Reading
          River Musamya a victim of drought and encroachment        

River Musamya is famously known as “Gold for Bugerere” by residents and native of Kayunga and Mukono because of its numerous values is on the verge of extinction due to encroachment by area residents.Primate safari rwanda

This river is a tributary of River Ssezibwa, it passes through the districts of Mukono and Kayunga to Lake Kyoga. Until 2006 when the river almost dried up due to the long drought, River Musamya was acting as a water catchment’s area and a source of water for irrigation and domestic use for people who live along it. Gorilla trekking uganda bwindi

According to the Kayunga District environment officer, Mr Patrick Musaazi, River Musamya Wetland was among the few areas where the crested crane is found. It was also a source of medicinal plants and raw materials like papyrus for making crafts. Above all, it was a habitat for many rare birds and animals. gorilla trekking rwanda volcanoes safari

Today, the residents from the near by villages which is a big blow to the tourism industry and the falling crest crane numbers.Queen Elizabeth safari

          Rhinos - Uganda        

By the Uganda safari reporter

Uganda is blessed once again in a row, after the Lions received early this year there is yet another contribution to our rich wildlife from our Kenya Wildlife partners. Kenya is to move some of its Rhinos to 4 countries of Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Rwanda in an effort to conserve the huge creatures. Kenya is blessed with 603 of the 709 rhinos in eastern Africa and Tanzania has almost all the remaining rhinos.gorilla safaris uganda

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Uganda lost a very significant number of its Rhinos to poaching and war in the 1970s and 80s. Like the White Rhino the black Rhino is also almost facing extinction which is the main reason why Kenya is distributing some among 4 neighboring countries to encourage rebreeding so that the Rhino populations can increase.

Uganda has a few black rhinos and only 2 white rhinos at UWEC that were imported from South Africa in the Early 2000. This is a very boosting gesture from Kenya because it will increase chances of the Black Rhino’s survival in Uganda.

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This conservation strategy will help in protecting the Rhinos in case of an epidemic in one country and is also aimed at increasing Rhino number to 3,000 Rhinos by 2039. With such projects coming up there is hope for our wildlife’s survival for many generations to come.

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Useful Links: Forex Bureau in Kampala
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          Google Earth, class is now in session        

So much of what students learn in the classroom—from social studies to history, science and literature—relates to a geographic place on Earth. Recently, we announced a new version of Google Earth, and since then, educators have been telling us what a valuable tool Google Earth is for their students. They use the “I’m feeling lucky” feature to inspire writing exercises, do research exercises with Knowledge Cards, and explore satellite imagery and cloud strata with their students. Now, to make it even easier for teachers to use Google Earth in the classroom, we’ve created a new “Education” category in the Voyager section, which includes new stories—complete with classroom activities—from National Geographic Society, PBS Education, HHMI Biointeractive and Mission Blue.

Just click the new "Education" category on the Voyager homepage for new stories, complete with classroom activities for teachers

The National Geographic Society stories take students on adventures following explorers through the Middle East, India, and coral reefs. To supplement the experience, National Geographic Society created idea for activities that highlight a range of geographical concepts, such as interpreting land forms and comparing map projections.

With PBS Education, classrooms can go back in time and track the paths of famous explorers, from Lewis and Clark to the Vikings. As students follow along, they, in turn, become modern-day explorers.

HHMI Biointeractive and Mission Blue created Voyager stories more geared towards science and math. With HHMI Biointeractive, students join “Scientists at Work” as they investigate important problems, from endangered coral reefs to the Ebola outbreak. And Mission Blue’s story teaches students about the unique oceanographic conditions of Costa Rica thermal dome. Short videos and questions embedded in the stories will help guide students with their own scientific research.

Educators everywhere can find classroom activities (created by teachers, for teachers) at our new Google Earth Education website, and easily share locations and stories directly to Google Classroom. In addition, this week Google Earth will become an Additional Service for Google for Education users, which can be managed by IT administrators through the Google Admin console.

Google Earth was built to inspire curious minds to explore, learn and care about our vast, fragile planet. With these updates, we’re excited to make it easier for the next generation to see the world from a new perspective.

          68-013002 102mm Polarizer Schneider Screw-on Filter for .6X Wide Angles & .7X W/A Converter HDS & 1.6X & 2.0X Tele-Converters        
68-013002 102mm Polarizer Schneider Screw-on Filter for .6X Wide Angles & .7X W/A Converter HDS & 1.6X & 2.0X Tele-Converters

68-013002 102mm Polarizer Schneider Screw-on Filter for .6X Wide Angles & .7X W/A Converter HDS & 1.6X & 2.0X Tele-Converters

This is by far the most effective polarizer for motion picture and television cameras. Having an extinction ratio of ER 374 & the Schneider True-Pol is 12- times more effective than other polarizing filters & and is unmatched in its ability to:    * Reduce glare and unwanted reflections    * Saturate colors    * Deepen blue skies    * Improve contrast    * Penetrate hazeTrue-Pol Polarizing filters enable you to achieve a level of optical performance previously unavailable to cinematographers.The Schneider Optics True-Pol is ideal for cameras such as the RED camera and other 4K cameras.

          Dispatch from the Pumpkin Patch        
It’s not been a great year for pumpkins and squashes – anything close to ground level was munched to extinction by slugs well before it got bigger than a ping pong ball.  A few did escape though because the vines were festooned over fences and the pumpkins were suspended out of harms way.  Whether they […]
          Delectable Delphiniums        
I never grow delphiniums – it’s just too depressing seeing the slugs and snails munch them to extinction, no matter what barriers or control methods I use.  And this year I’m sure that this has been a pretty general problem, so this breathtaking display on the trial grounds at Wisley was  all the more impressive.  […]
          Comment on The Young Turks get the science wrong on GM food by Michael Rosch        
Well, it absolutely is cross-breeded by definition. Hybridization is merely the traditional and far less precise method we've used in the past whereas transgenics optimize the process by leaving far less of the final product up to chance by working with crossing only the gene with the desired trait over into the different species. Whether cross-breeding the same way our ancient ancestors did or doing so in a lab makes little difference beyond the lab method being optimally efficient. I just don't share your superstitions about what happens in a lab. And it's not about trusting "Monsanto funded science" as the vast majority of research on the topic is independently funded at universities and research labs around the world. If it was merely Monsanto that did all the research, I'd agree independent research was needed. But that's not the case. It's like I often say: If Martin Scorsese says his movie is really good, you have good reason to not just take him at his word; but if everyone says Martin Scorsese's movie is good, maybe it's worth your time to check it out. Put another way, this isn't a matter of Monsanto alone telling us 2+2=4; every mathematician in the world shares that conclusion and Monsanto happens to also agree. I don't trust Monsanto; I trust the scientific process with its rigorous vetting protocols to separate the wheat from the chaff. Lastly, biologically, there's no meaningful distinction between "tomato DNA" and "fish DNA." Those are human constructs. It's all just DNA. Animal/plant cross-breeded even occurs in nature. 5-8% of the human genome is endogenous retrovirus. And the idea that you're "playing it safe" by eating "what mother nature has provided for us" is patently ridiculous. First of all, agriculture and hybridization are NOT what mother nature provided; it's just another example of artificial human tampering to turn otherwise mostly inedible plant product into nutrition for us. The mere fact that you've never known a life without this form of human meddling doesn't make it any more natural than the methods you oppose. The fact is, the universe didn't develop fruits and vegetables for our benefit and often what is found in nature is poisonous, diseased, lacking in nutrition, fairly tasteless, and quick to rot. The history of human civilization and agriculture is a history of fighting against mother nature by figuring out ways to alter plants to benefit us. If we had left it up to mother nature, the Hawaiian papaya would have been extinct due to disease. And, as we speak, central African nations whose diets consist mostly of bananas are losing much of their banana crops to Xanthomonas wilt while currently banned GM alternatives that are immune from this disease await government orders to end the ban to save this staple crop of the region. And of course those same banana-diet peoples are also dying of Vitamin A Deficiency, a problem that doesn't exist in first world nations. But GM, again, holds the solution, Bananas just like the ones native to the region except with a single added gene that packs the banana full of beta carotene, which converts to Vitamin A when eaten. This simple replacement would save between 250K and 500K children from going blind each year and half of that number from dying each year. But yeah, sure, let's "play it safe" with the diseased bananas and the Vitamin A Deficiency...because ignorance!
          Ezotersim in lanuri – Capitolul II – PIRAMINDA MASONICA        


Unul din simbolurile reprezentative pentru societatile secrete, oculte, din care fac parte elitele ce trag sforile in aceasta lume, este Piaramida Masonica. Informatii legate de acest simbol abunda pe intreg internetul si nu numai. Nu am sa descriu profund acest simbol deoarece as risca sa ma repet si sa devin monoton, cu o multime de informatii deja arhicunoscute, mai ales fata de pasionatii deconspirarii.


Nu este intamplator faptul ca acest simbol a aparut in lanurile din Hampshire, in lanurile de la Alton Barnes – Wiltshire, sudul Angliei si in multe alte locuri, in diverse ipostaze care mai de care mai stilizate.  Aceste pictograme constituie un argument cu greutate in sustinerea teoriei pe care am expus-o in Capitolul I din seria de articole “Ezoterism in Lanuri” si anume faptul ca autorii acestor pictograme care in nenumarate randuri ne impresioneaza prin spectacolul formelor si dimensiunilor, sunt in stransa legatura cu elitele care ne fac viata asa cum o cunoastem cu totii.


Intraterestrii, sau ma rog, “extraterestrii”, asa cum suntem educati in fiecare zi sa-i numim, urmeaza a ne fi prezentati foarte curand, ca fiind salvatorii de la extinctie a rasei umane. In unul din capitolele urmatoare voi trata in detaliu natura si rolul lor. Ne vor fii prezentati ca o supercivilizatie extraordinar de avansata care pe langa solutiile imediat salvatoare din domeniu energetic si medical, ne vor trasa un set de reguli pe care va trebuii sa le acceptam si respectam cu strictete, daca vrem sa supravietuim ca rasa.


Unele din aceste conditii care ne vor fi impuse ar suna in felul urmator: un singur conducator, o singura religie, marcarea fiecarui individ cu o entitate tehnologica care va cuprinde totul din punct de vedere informational despre respectivul individ, dar nu numai, controlul demografic, declararea unor zone si arii geografice ca interzise din punct de vedere al accesului populatiei, etc.


 Evident, toate acestea nu vor avea loc decat dupa ce in prealabil omenirea va fi tarata prin mocirla existentiala, conflicte armate, revolte, foamete, crize economice, si va fi ulterior  amagita de un veritabil spectacol cu rol inselator, spectacol dupa care oamenii vor accepta bucurosi regulile impuse, dar nu numai ca le vor accepta, le vor cere, primii si aprecia cu bucurie, ca solutii salvatoare. 


Cei ce vor avea cu adevarat ochii mintii deschisi, vor stii ca totul nu este altceva decat inselare. Acestia din urma, putini la numar, vor incerca sa se fofileze in prima faza, dar le va fi din ce in ce mai greu. Vor incerca sa se refugieze in munti, in paduri, in locuri izolate, dar vor fi cautati de catre sistemul din acel moment, cred ca va-ti dat sema si din ce motiv: vor fi considerati teroristi, ostili pacii si securitatii proaspat instalate. Tot ceea ce se va intampla, in acest moment e programat cu meticulozitate intr-o agenda. E programat de foarte multa vreme. Se merge la victorie 100%, nici vorba de esec. Doar ca mai exista o agenda care e mult mai cuprinzatoare si in care e precizat rezultatul final, mai precis esecul  elitelor si al celui ce le dirijeaza.


Revenind la pictogramele din lanuri, asa cum am expus si voi expune in continuare in acest capitol si in cele ce urmeaza, veti vedea ca nu e vorba de un caz izolat care sa fie imediat catalogat ca fiind doar o coincidenta. Simbolurile ezoterice sunt prezente intr-un numar extraordinar de mare in pictogramele din lanuri, in diverse  forme, mai mult sau mai putin stilizate, respectandu-se tematica de fond.


Multi dintre voi, vor aprecia in sens pozitiv aceste cercuri din lanuri, pe buna dreptate, vor fi impresionati atat de dimensiunile colosale ale unor pictograme cat si de complexitatea lor. E clar ca acest fenomen impresioneaza cu atat mai mult cu cat este utilizata o tehnologie necunoscuta oficial. Recomand tuturor celor ce citesc aceste randuri, sa ramana lucizi, sa se abtina in a crede lucruri pe care autorii acestor pictograme impreuna cu elitele, doresc sa le credeti la privirea si admirarea lor.


E usor sa cazi in inselare, e usor sa cazi in Capcana Spirituala ce se pregateste. Nu pierzi absolut nimic daca stai deoparte lucid si ganditor, in calitate de observator. Mai degraba s-ar putea sa pierzi aruncandu-te cu capul inainte, in neantul necunoasterii, legat la ochi si crezand ceva ce iti convine tare mult.  


Cu siguranta unii dintre voi, aveti cunostinte despre care ati auzit sau ati aflat personal de la dansii, ca fac parte din diverse cluburi masonice. Oameni respectabili, apreciati de catre cei din jurul lor, mai ales pentru moralitatea lor, nu se gandesc si nu banuiesc nici macar o secunda in ce anume s-au bagat. Cu siguranta o sa va explice ca, masoneria e ceva benefic si ca are un rol important in evolutia si rularea evenimentelor din destinele noastre. In ceea ce priveste prima parte, asa stiu ei, iar in ceea ce priveste chestiunea din ultima parte, cu rolul important in destinul umanitatii, au dreptate.


Pentru cei mai multi dintre ei, mai ales pentru cei din jumatatea de jos a piramidei, a fi mason e ceva in trend si foarte monden. De altfel jumatatea de jos a piramidei e responsabila de imaginea organizatiei in sine. O multime de trepadusi, dati cu smirghel pe creier, care o sa va explice in soapta la ureche, unele secrete care vezi Doamne au scapat de la nivelurile superioare, si cat de interesant e sa faci parte din aceasta organizatie unde numai lumea buna are acces.


Incercati sa ramaneti simpli, in gandire, in comportament, in imagine, in tot. Nu va consumati energia alergand dupa desertaciuni ca sa va aliniati acestor timpuri. Fiti desavarsiti, caci asa cum a spus si Hristosul, mai bine le-ar fi fost celor ce spun ca fac bine si in fapt fac rau, sa-si fi legat un bolovan de  gat si sa se arunce in mare. 


Priviti aceste imagini, din articolele mele si nu numai, cautati informatia caci este accesibila, e la buricul degetelor si trageti singuri concluzii.

            Vor fi unii intre voi care vor spune: ce e rau in a poseda si manipula cunostinte ezoterice? Sunt informatii atat de interesante si utile. Asa si este, sunt chestiuni interesante si utile. Problema ce se poate naste, e ca intri pe nisipuri miscatoare, si daca nu stapanesti destul de bine sau nu detii informatia in intregime, asa cum se intampla de cele mai multe ori, s-ar putea sa te scufunzi. Recomandarea mea e, sa fiti autodidacti, sa studiati orice informatie va trece prin mana, indiferent de natura ei si de domeniu, sa o treceti prin filtrul logic, sa puneti cap la cap, ceea ce vi se potriveste pastrati iar ce nu, puneti deoparte. Informatia se confirma pe siesi deoarece are aspect holografic. Cu siguranta la un moment dat, va veti da seama de imaginea de ansamblu.

                                           - VA URMA -

          Ezotersim in lanuri – Capitolul I - CAPCANA SPIRITUALA        

“Caci se vor scula hristosi mincinosi si proroci mincinosi; vor face semne mari si minuni, pana acolo incat sa insele, daca va fi cu putinta, chiar si pe cei alesi.”

                                                                             Matei 24:24

             Incep azi un sir de articole, care sper sa deschida ochii cu adevarat  celor ce considera despre sine ca s-au trezit deja. Multi dintre noi avem impresia ca daca am dezvaluit o conspiratie, sau ni s-a parut ca am vazut cu coada ochiului ceva, auzim voci, sau pur si simplu suntem martorii unor fenomene pe care nu le putem explica, cel putin nu in cadrul stiintelor conventionale, consideram ca ne-am trezit spiritual si am devenit foarte speciali, asa peste noapte, iar pe masura ce studiem in stanga si drepata fel si fel de stiinte care mai de care mai paranormale si adoptam diverse religii exotice,  asa ca sa fim in trend, incepem cu timpul sa fim chiar foarte convinsi ca ne-am trezit.



Stiu ca in urma articolelor ce urmeaza a le publica, cei mai multi dintre cei ce se considera cu ochii mintii deschisi ma vor blama, probabil peste 95%, eu totusi nu voi replica si alimenta diverse polemici. In articolele mele pur si simplu voi face niste afirmatii, rezultate in urma unor conexiuni logice. E punctul meu de vedere personal si exista foarte mari sanse sa ma insel. De aceea nu ma voi bate pentru ceea ce afirm. Ceea ce voi scrie e datat si ramane marturie. Timpul va decide daca am gresit sau nu.

04 cropcircles

Marturisesc ca nu am descoperit absolut nimic nou, iar informatia din articolele ce urmeaza a le publica, a fost culeasa  dea lungul timpului, din diverse surse de informare pe care le-am avut la indemana in masura posibilitatilor  din momentul respectiv. Exact asa cum fragmentele dintr-un puzzle sunt asezate pe masa, pentru ca in final sa rezulte un tablou, o imagine, la fel am incercat sa conectez informatiile din diverse domenii pentru a obtine in final o imagine a realitatii. Numai ca spre deosebire de tabloul rezultat din jocul de puzzle, tabloul realitatii obtinut din informatie, are o trasatura diferita si anume faptul ca realitatea sau imaginea realitatii se schimba in permanenta si niciodata nu e 100% clara.


Toata stima pentru cei mai sus amintiti “cei ce s-au trezit”, in general, fiind oameni in mare parte desavarsiti sau cel putin oameni ce incearca pe cat posibil sa mearga pe calea desavarsirii. Multi dintre cei  “cu ochii mintii deschisi” au avut parte de un eveniment neplacut, o rascruce, o cumpana in viata, de pe urma careia au ajuns la concluzia ca exista ceva mai mult si mai important decat teluricul. Atunci a inceput cu adevarat cautarea caii, care de cele mai multe ori s-a indreptat spre taramul spiritualitatii. Pana aici totul e ok. Problema apare in momentul cand facem alegerea. De ce spun asta? Pentru cei cazuti in frunte cu liderul lor, ALESII sunt premiul cel mare, sunt miza cea cu greutate, ultima reduta de cucerit.  Din acest motiv, suntem predispusi sa cadem in CAPCANA SPIRITUALA sau capcana inselarii, gandita strategic de cei cazuti in frunte cu liderul lor cel viclean, cel cu multe nume, care si-a invartosat inima si s-a mandrit, si-a intors fata de la Adevar, devenind ucigas, inselator, chinuitor si distrugator de om. Distrugator al creatiei Divine, maxim subestimat de om care e pacalit in permanenta de prezumtia inexistentei celui cazut, cel viclean gandeste, planifica pervers si construieste de mii de ani masinaria insclavirii fiintei umane, aducand omul in stadiu de parodie la adresa creatiei initiale. 


Stiti cu totii sau cel putin daca ati ajuns pe aceasta pagina in mare majoritate, cunoasteti povestea, legenda sau istoria, intalnita in cartile sfinte, in apocrife, in manuscrisele vechi desecoperite de-a lungul timpului, referitoare la marele eveniment, marele razboi ce a avut loc in ceruri, de pe urma caruia un numar insemnat de rasvratiti au fost aruncati pe pamant in frunte cu liderul lor. De aici a inceput toata tragedia noastra.


In continuare, redau un fragment din textul apocrif “Cartea lui Enoh”, text de pe urma caruia ne vom lumina cat de cat in ceea ce priveste originea cunoasterii ezoterice, a religiilor exotice foarte la moda in occident (miscarile New Age)  si traditiile din Asia unde se presupune ca au cazut cei razvratiti. Dupa caderea lor, au inceput sa “infecteze” specia umana cu cunostintele lor stricatoare de desavarsire umana si inlantuitoare in teluric:

“1. Azayel i-a mai invatat pe oameni sa faca sabii, cutite, scuturi, platose, oglinzi; el le-a aratat cum sa faca bratari si podoabe, cum sa foloseasca vopsele, arta de a-si inegri sprancenele, de a folosi pietrle pretioase si tot soiul de spoieli, astfel incat oamenii s-au stricat.
2. Nelegiuirea s-a intins; depravarea s-a inmultit, creaturile incalcau orice ordin si distrugeau tot ce le iesea in cale.
3. Amazarak i-a invatat to felul de vrajitorii, de farmece si insusirile radacinilor.
4. Armers i-a invatat arta de a dezlega vrajitoriile.
5. Barkayal i-a invatat arta de a urmarii stelele.
6. Akibeel i-a invatat semnele.
7. Tamiel i-a invatat astronomia.
8. Si Asaradel i-a invatat miscarile lunii.
9. Si oamenii, pe punctul de a pieri, au murmurat si glasurile lor s-au ridicat pana la cer.”


Eu cred ca  ne putem da seama destul de usor din acest fragment cam care sunt originile cunostintelor ezoterice, ale magiei, astrologiei, vrajitoriei, nu in ultimul rand arta razboiului si rolul acestuia (vezi originile artelor martiale) etc, din fericire nefiind  un text singular, informatia confirmandu-se intr-o forma sau alta in surse multiple (vezi Geneza in Biblie, etc.). Nu vreau sa ma adancesc prea mult in acest subiect, deoarece nu sunt in masura sa o fac, dar in schimb as putea sa va fac cunoscute in acest articol si in urmatoarele cateva,  unele formatiuni ce au aparut in lanuri in ultimii 30 de ani, formatiuni a caror simbolistica incepe, incet incet, sa dea de banuit si sa dezvaluie partea de care sunt de fapt, autorii acestor pictograme din lanuri.


Am oferit pe blogul meu pana acum informatii suficiente din care sa deducem clar ca originea cercurilor din lanuri nu e de natura umana iar tehnologia de realizare e una necunoscuta oficial. Nu vreau sa mai dezbat acest subiect legat de autori. Eu cred ca e evidenta originea si nu are sens sa mai pierd timpul cu un subiect arhicunoscut si lamurit pentru marea majoritate. Insusi faptul ca acest fenomen real a fost pus pe seama unor farsori denota ca elitele si cei ce-i dirijeaza lucreaza cu psihologie inversa. Efectul a fost cu mult mai potentat. La fel cu evenimentul Roosevelt din 1947, au dezmintit stirea ca ar fi fost o nava extraterestra(intraterestra) spunand ca defapt a fost un balon meteo, minciuna care a potentat efectul mediatic asupra fenomenului OZN.


Faptul ca nu suntem singuri in univers, e un alt subiect care atat  pentru mine cat si pentru foarte multi a fost clar de foarte mult timp. Vad recent in presa tot felul de afirmatii  fara absolut  nici un suport stiintific, culmea, din partea unor oameni de stiinta, cum ar fi: “In univers exista aproximativ 400 de civilizatii”. Ma umfla rasul. Poi atunci vin si eu, un nimeni, fara nici o pregatire si afirm: In univers exista o infinitate de civilizatii, cu conditia ca universul sa fie infinit. Un lucru vreau sa-l subliniez insa: fenomenul extraterestru e un subiect foarte sensibil, foarte delicat, deoarece face parte din CAPCANA SPIRITUALA. Cei cazuti pozeaza si intentioneaza sa ni se prezinte curand, in postura unei civilizatii extraterestre care ne vrea binele si vor sa ne ofere ajutorul, sa ne salveze de la distrugerea finala inspre care tot ei au avut grja sa ne dirijeze, sugerandu-ne un lider care sa ne conduca pe toti, adica scopul final al societatilor secrete.

57-Silbury-Hill-Wiltshire-Wheat-26-08-02-OH-MFA Probabil ati observat in ultima vreme, in mass media, in filmele de la Hollywood, inclusiv in desenele animate si programele pentru cei mici, in declaratiile tot mai dese ale unor lideri politici sau religiosi, cum ni se insufla subtil fenomenul extraterestru. Pe buna dreptate unii autori romani si nu numai (Cristian Negureanu, Tony Victor Moldovan, etc), au numit aceste fiinte, care noua ne sunt prezentate ca fiind extraterestrii, “INTRATERESTRII”, deoarece aceste fiinte sunt aici decand lumea.

53-Sparsholt-nr-Winchester-Hampshire-Wheat-15-08-02-L2-35mm Pasionat si indragostit fiind  inca din frageda copilarie de fenomenul OZN, am fost foarte entuziasmat cand am pasit pentru prima data in viata, intr-o formatiune din lanuri. Studiind mai atent fenomenul, am ajuns sa trag o serie de concluzii in primul rand dezamagitoare si apoi suparatoare, dandu-mi seama ca nu tot OZN-ul ce zboara e de partea buna a lucrurilor.  Probabil veti afirma faptul ca, gandesc foarte primar si ca as fi paranoic, deoarece o civilizatie mult avansata nu ar avea motive sa ne transforme in scalvi. Vreau sa ma fac foarte clar inteles: in articol fac referire si afirm ca acesti “extraterestrii” care ne vor fi noua prezentati de catre elita iluminata, nu sunt altceva decat intraterestrii, intraterestrii ce sunt cel putin la fel de terestrii ca si noi, deoarece impart cu noi de mii de ani aceasta frumoasa planeta albastra, bagandu-si coada in destinele noastre. Adica nu pot sa numesc nicidecum ceva ce salasuieste pe aceasta planeta ca fiind extraterestru, pentru ca as denatura semnificatia cuvantului.

eastfield-2008-crop-circle-air   Cei mai multi dintre voi veti fii foarte dezmagiti citind aceste randuri, cel putin la fel ca mine de dezmagiti, cand mi-am dat seama “din ce parte bate vantul”. Asa cum am mentionat si in prezentarea blogului, e important sa nu ne atasam de o informatie orbeste, mai ales pentru ca ne convine, sa nu ne aruncam in necunoscut fara ca in prealabil sa trecem informatia prin filtrul logic personal. Ma uit cu stupoare de exemplu, la cei ce comunica prin channeling(vezi Bashar), cu cata usurinta afirma ca mesajele primite sunt de la o civilizatie extraterestra care ne doreste binele. O fi asa, dar un lucru e cert: ca fiiinta umana nu ai cum sa verifici nici originea si nici intentia celor ce comunica cu tine de pe alte frecvente. Masuratorile radiestezice sau alte modalitati de genul, sunt iarasi influentate de cei de pe frecventele paralele. Nu ai o modalitate sigura si clara de verificare. Ar trebuii sa fim mai putin naivi, sa nu ne oferim atat de usor si sa incetam o data pentru totdeauna sa mai consideram ca fiind  real sau realitate doar ceea ce ne convine.


Ar trebuii sa incetam sa mai fim la fel de naivi ca si atunci cand mergem voiosi la vot cu speranta ca prin votul nostru vom schimba ceva. De altfel, ca venii vorba de vot, un lucru e cert: acolo alegi ceva din ceea ce ti se ofera si sa nu crezi ca cel pe care-l alegi, iti va reprezenta vreodata opinia. La fel si cu acesti ”extraterestrii” cu care elitele ne vor face cunostinta spre sfarsitul anului probabil sau poate chiar pe 21 Decembrie 2012, data care nu e nicidecum sfarsitul Calendarului Mayas. Si ca veni vorba, data de final a Calendarului Mayas, este exact 28 Octombrie 2011(conform lucrarii lui Carl Johan Calleman  – Calendarul Mayas si Transformarea Constiintei).  Sa fim seriosi, chiar credeti ca de data aceasta elitele vor fi de treaba si nu ne vor mai insela? Au inselarea in sange, au un lider exemplu, nu mai fiti naivi. Cu riscul de a ma repeta, afirm faptul ca, pe cei mai multi, vrajmasul ii va ademenii in Capcana Spirituala, fiind cea  mai cumplita inselare, inselare ce-i vizeaza in special pe cei alesi.


Aveti foarte mare grija la acesti termeni cu care intram zilnic in contact, cum ar fi, constiinta, energia noua, mesaje benefice, energiile benefice ce ne inconjoara, Shambala, Agharta, atentie mare la tot ce ne este prezentat ca fiind luciferic de stralucitor si benefic, la flacarile violet  si de tot felul de culori ale lui Saint Germain sau stiu eu mai care, la simbolurile care va inconjoara etc, deoarece nu aveti cum sa verificati in ce va bagati. Sunteti exact ca si un copil de 7 ani pus sa piloteze un Boeing 747, mai exact puteti sa va asteptati la orice.    


Am observat de asemenea in ultima vreme, tot felul de solutii si sugestii de a unii fel si fel de religii intre ele, ca ideologie, ca filosofie, ca orice vreti voi, il plimba pe Hristos prin Tibet pe la scoli de shaolini, il transforma in yoghin, mediteaza,  il egaleaza cu Buda, Madonna propovaduieste Kabbalah, John Travolta, Tom Cruise  etc, sunt membrii in biserica scientologica, ma rog e la moda. Mare atentie, e ultima carte jucata de catre cei cazuti, e o carte grea, e asul din maneca: SPIRITUALITATEA.


Elita, pregateste cu pasi repezi inscaunarea  imparatului luciferic, in timp ce noua ni se reduc incet incet din libertati si ni se distrage atentia de la ceea ce se intampla defapt prin fel si fel de modalitati. M-am saturat de previziunile false care inunda presa de pe intreg mapamondul, dar si mass-media romaneasca. Cutremurul din toamna lui 2010 care a uitat sa mai aiva loc (reclama mascata cum ca asigurarile de locuinte sunt benefice, dar in acelasi timp si neconstitutionale prin obligativitatea lor), inceputul celui de al treilea razboi mondial care era prevazut de ceva babaciune ratacita(Vanga, Dumnezeu sa o ierte),  sa inceapa prin 11 Noiembrie 2010, cea mai grea iarna din ultima mie de ani prevazuta de servicul meteo polonez (polonezii or fii ceva specialisti meteo de renume mondial doar ca nu am aflat inca asta), iesirea din criza la inceputul lui 2011(prevazuta de tot felul de analisti economici care se bat cu caramida in piept ca au absolvit stiu eu ce univesitati de stiinte economice de renume mondial, unde au tocit, ca de inteles… mai greu), etc.


  A fi treaz nu insemna nicidecum a interpreta realitatea asa cum iti convine, ci inseamna sa stii sa te feresti si sa eviti pe cat posibil latsurile ce ti se astern si  pregatesc la tot pasul, cum ar fi otravirea alimentelor, poluarea intentionata, show-uri TV, politica, hartuirea psihica prin tot felul de aparate birocratice, stresul creat de nesiguranta locului de munca si a zilei de maine, blocajul evolutiei pe toate planurile, in special cel material prin inventarea de noi impozite si cresterea celor anterioare de la un an la altul, si nu in utlimul rand marea inselare, Capcana Spirituala, care suna ceva de genul: toate religiile in una singura. Si daca nu esti de acord, insemana ca nu acorzi liberatate de alegere, nu esti democratic etc.  In ziua de astazi nu ai cum sa nu  fii democratic. Democratia e ceva bun. De exemplu cu ajutorul democratiei poti invada o tara sa ii iei petrolul si alte resurse si in schimb, le oferi libertatea  sa moara de foame. 


Nu judec pe nimeni si nimic, nu sunt in masura sa o fac, doar observ, constat si fac conexiuni logice. Cred ca asta e voie si se incadreaza in principiile democratiei.


Am intercalat in umila mea asertiune, cateva fotografii cu pictograme din lanuri ce au o simbolistica preponderent masonica in majoritatea lor, sau puteti sa o mai numiti si oculta, magica, satanica, vrajitoreasca, iluminata, initiatica, luciferica sau cum vreti voi sa o mai numiti, toate adjectivele laudate de Salvatorul nostru, si pentru a caror practicanti, a promis o petrecere de neuitat, echivalenta cu extinctia.  


In urmatoarele articole, voi lua pe rand cateva pictograme mai reprezentative si am sa le descriu ca insemnatate, lasandu-va pe voi in final sa verificati informatiile si sa trageti singuri concluzii vis-a-vis de buna credinta a autorilor lor. Va rog pe aceasta cale, oricat ati fi de dezamagiti, suparti, revoltati si asa mai departe, sa nu imi adresati mesaje obscene, deoarece le voi sterge.


In rest puteti sa va exprimati opinia in mod liber, promit sa nu cenzurez nimic din ceea ce eventual ar putea sa ma ofenseze, desi nu cred ca  e cazul sa ma mai poata ofensa ceva sau cineva, repet, pastrand totusi decenta in exprimare.  


          No One Wants To Name Their Kid 'Michael' Anymore        

It's the name pretty much every other boy had since the 1950s, but it could soon be gone from maternity wards.

According to the Independent, the name Michael is now trending downwards in the U.S., where it has topped the boy's baby name charts since the 1960s.

It's had a similar run in Canada, as this chart via Behind the Name that illustrates B.C. data shows:

As of 2011, it dropped from the top five names entirely.

But we actually have a Michael to thank for having baby name rankings in the first place.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Michael Shackleford was a worker at the Social Security Administration in the '90s, and his own annoyance with the constant presence of other Michaels drew him to analyze the most common baby names in order to avoid a similar problem for his impending kid. That project turned into the federal baby names rankings now published by the U.S.

Need more baby name ideas? We've got you covered:

So what's replacing Michael as far as popularity goes? Well, that's just the thing. Parents who (like Shackleford) want to find an individual name for their kid have driven down any one name as the leader, although Noah and Jacob have been battling it out for the past few years.

All of this doesn't make much of a difference to the Michaels who have spent their whole lives twisting their heads in public places whenever someone calls their name, but who knows? Maybe in a few years people will return to Michael because it's so unique .. and start the whole cycle all over again.

Also on HuffPost:

          Teaser Tuesday: The Night Before Dead         
I have to hang my head and admit I was shocked to realize that it's almost been a full year since I last posted here. But in a way, I think that was a good thing, too. My career has been so up and down (mostly down) that I needed to step away and get my head clear about things. And I have.

2016 is a new year. A fresh start. I have new things planned for later in the year, but first I feel like it's important to say goodbye to some old friends first. The final Dreg City book starring Evy Stone, The Night Before Dead, releases this month. My planned release date is February 15, but I may have to push it back a few days. No biggie. It's coming!

So to celebrate that, here is the first three chapters from The Night Before Dead (Dreg City #6).




If you'd have told me a week ago that I would be sitting across a conference table from an elf, about to listen to what he had to say, I'd have told you to go to hell. Might have even punched you in the mouth for good measure. Elves had been nothing except trouble in the brief period of time that they'd been a part of my life.
An elf set me up to die. An elf tricked my boyfriend into making a bargain that traded his free will for my life. An elf tried to bring a demon across the Break and into our world, which would have been a complete and utter disaster. I don't trust elves. And vampires, of all similarly untrustworthy creatures, helped us stop that particular elf.
Now our vampire allies have fled the ranks of the Watchtower—the initiative of humans, weres and vampires that try to protect the city from the darker races—leaving us at half-strength. Erratic half-vampires were rising in numbers, the Fey were plotting against us, and there was enough dissention among the thirteen Therian (shapeshifters) clans to keep everyone involved in the Watchtower on their toes.
I used to think my life as a Dreg Hunter was complicated. That old life is a fucking fairy tale compared to life as I know it right now.
The conference room was our War Room in the Watchtower—which isn't really a tower at all, it's more of a metaphor. We'd overtaken the skeleton of a defunct mall and revamped it to provide housing, training rooms, a cafeteria, showers, and a gymnasium. An obstacle course was under construction in one of the old department stores, and I couldn't wait to see that finished.
At the moment, work was at a stand-still while we dealt with the elf on our shelf.
Okay, so we he was sitting in a chair at one end of the conference table, surrounded by three guys with guns.
Like guns can do much against a fucking elf. Tovin plucked a bullet from the sky.
This particular elf was as calm as Tovin had been insane. Brevin, as he called himself, had been brought to us by one of my dearest friends in the world, Phineas el Chimal, an osprey-shifter who'd left us almost six weeks ago to seek out others of his kind. Brevin wasn't what anyone expected him to bring home as a souvenir of his travels.
Phineas towered over Brevin, who was about the size of a middle-schooler, skinny as a rail, with white hair and pointed ears. His sharp eyes didn't seem to miss a thing, and he’d been exceptionally polite about being asked to spend the night in one of our jail cells. Apparently Phin had explained our last encounter with an elf, and Brevin didn't seem to mind the fact that we were terrified of him.
Not that we'd ever say so out loud.
"We have quite a lot to discuss," Astrid Dane said. The co-leader of the Watchtower, she stood at the far end of the conference table with Gina Kismet on her left. Astrid was a spotted jaguar shifter, and had been leading the Watchtower since its inception. Kismet was a human, a kick-ass fighter, and had only stepped into the role when the vampires left and Adrian Baylor (another human ally and co-leader) was killed.
I didn't envy the pair their positions, and I certainly didn't want to be in charge. I was a soldier, not a captain. Point me at something and I'll fight it. Ask me to make a plan of attack, and we're probably going to be in trouble.
"We certainly do," Brevin said. His voice was deeper than expected, considering his frail shape, and carried a kind of authority found in few creatures surrounded by their mortal enemies. "Thank you for hearing me out."
"We trust Phineas's judgment," Kismet said.
I held back a smile, impressed she hadn't sprained something admitting that.
Okay, so most of we humans in the Watchtower still had trouble admitting we trusted the Therians. As Hunters, we'd been trained to distrust nonhumans on principle. Period. They were bad, we were good, end of story. Except our lives had too many shades of gray for that philosophy to stand, and now we were allies with the very creatures we once hunted.
Weird, huh?
I never expected a shifter to be my best friend and confidante, just like I never expected my lover to be half-Lupa. On my left, Wyatt Truman observed the scene without comment. Born completely human, Wyatt had been bitten and infected by a Lupa over a month ago. Lupa were wolf shifters and thought to be completely extinct, killed off by other Therians because their bites could infect a human and cause them to go insane from fever before dying a painful death. Wyatt nearly died from his bite, but in surviving, he was forever changed.
Human, Lupa, or something in between, I still loved him with my whole heart—something I never thought possible until recently.
"Brevin sought me out," Phineas said. "I believe we should give him the benefit of the doubt."
"I know you do, that's why we're here," Astrid said. "Forgive me for being leery of his motivations."
"I am not offended by your lack of trust," Brevin said. "Phineas explained what Tovin did, and I can assure you my intentions are more transparent than my kin."
"And what are your intentions?"
"Preventing Amalie from declaring all-out war on the world."
I glanced at Wyatt, unsurprised by the statement. Wyatt only had eyes for Brevin. On my other side, Marcus Dane watched the production with barely contained impatience. Astrid's brother and a fierce fighter, Marcus held an unofficial second-in-command position to our pair of leaders. He was a brawler and a force to reckon with, skin or beast, and he looked like he'd rather go tear some throats out than sit around and listen to elf stories.
Not that he was in any position to rip anyone's throat out. A few days ago he'd battled to the death with a Bengal tiger shifter named Vail, and he'd come out of it with some pretty serious gashes on his chest. The fight had left its scars on all of us though. One of my very best friends, Tybalt Monahan, had been killed during the ordeal, and we'd only buried him yesterday.
I need a fucking vacation from my life.
"We already know Amalie and the Fey are our enemies," Astrid said. "She's the one who manipulated a madman into raising Lupa pups and unleashing them on us."
"I know." Brevin turned his head to meet Wyatt's gaze. "You are no longer yourself."
Wyatt growled softly. He had a damned good reason for distrusting elves.
"Can we stay on topic, please?" Kismet asked.
"All of the Fey are not your enemies," Brevin said. "The Apothi have retreated from this fight, as have many of the Earth Guardians.” Gnomes and trolls, respectively, and both formerly loyal to Amalie and the Fey Council. “I am one of three elves still alive, and we oppose Amalie."
That was news.
Two more elves in the world made me all kinds of nervous.
Brevin added, "Gargoyles are not Fey, but they oppose Amalie as well, despite leaving the city for the northern mountains."
I beat back a pang of regret at the loss of several allies. Max had been a gargoyle informant I'd used to gather intel on various Dregs, back when I was still a Hunter. He'd left the city with his fellow gargoyles ages ago, because they didn't want to get involved. He'd also saved my life when I was held and tortured by a madman named Walter Thackery. I owed Max.
A gnome named Horzt had saved Wyatt's life months ago with a healing crystal, and he'd given us a magic powder that had saved hundreds of infected vampires from a horrible death. I owed him too.
And Smedge. A bridge troll friend. Part of the earth, he'd often come up in the sandy ground beneath a train bridge. And yes, he'd saved my life once. Wyatt's, too. I owed my continued existence to so many people. I didn't know how to even begin repaying my growing debt.
"We know there are other creatures who oppose Amalie in theory," Astrid said, "but who among them is willing to stand with us openly?"
Brevin shook his head. "Very few, I am afraid. That is why I come to you now."
"You got an army up your sleeve?" I asked, breaking the promise I'd made to myself about joining in the conversation. I hated elves with a fiery rage, and Brevin was no different—not until he proved himself trustworthy. Even then I'd probably still hate him on principle.
"In a manner of speaking, yes."
A silent statue this entire time, Phineas shifted his weight from foot to foot. The were-osprey didn't fidget, so something was majorly up with him. He knew what Brevin was bringing to the table, and he didn't like it. I knew Phin well enough to see it in the blank expression that was working too hard to be remain neutral. It sharpened his already angular features into something fierce and feral.
And scary.
Brevin took a moment to look around the room at the people interrogating him. Astrid and Kismet, me and Wyatt, Marcus. Next to Marcus, Rufus St. James watched with the sharp care of a man used to being tricked. He sat perfectly still in his wheelchair, fingers steepled in front of his face, green eyes fixed on the elf.
No one else knew Brevin was in the Watchtower.
Sneaking him in and keeping him hidden from a mall full of Therian noses hadn't been easy, let me tell you.
Astrid crossed her arms, her long black hair pulled back in a sharp bun that made her look battle-ready. "What kind of army?" she asked.
"The kind that Amalie won't see coming," Brevin replied. "An army led by demons."
The silence in the War room was deafening.
Fuck me sideways.
As much as the idea terrified me, I stood still and listed as Brevin explained.

Chapter One

The warm body blanketing me from above snuffled. The arm around my waist pulled taut, pressing me back into Wyatt's belly. He exhaled hard, breath ruffling the hair on my cheek. Everywhere our naked skin pressed together was hot, damp, and so incredibly perfect. Even after waking up like this for the last two weeks, I still marveled at how wonderful it felt.
I never thought I'd find this kind of love and acceptance, or be so comfortable in bed with a man—especially not Wyatt.
Almost five years ago, I’d joined a secret organization called the Triads. Teams of three Hunters, lead by a Handler, we hunted and fed justice to the darker races that dwelled in the city: half-Blood vampires, goblins, rule-breaking shifters, and various other things that go bump in the night. Seven months ago, I was murdered and brought back to life, and then everything went to hell in a hard cart.
The Triads have since been destroyed, the tattered remains folded into what became the Watchtower. Wyatt had been my Handler for four years, and until my very brutal murder, my feelings for him had been pretty platonic. When I was resurrected into the recently-dead body of Chalice Frost, I found myself entertaining a whole host of attractions and feelings I'd never experienced before.
Our road toward being lovers had been long and rocky, but I'd never been happier than with Wyatt Truman.
Damn it. I dragged a pillow over my head and ignored the sound of Mark's voice outside of our bedroom door.
"What is it?" Wyatt said, his voice one octave below a bellow.
"John and Peter want to go to the gym. Is that all right?"
He tensed. I didn't have to turn or ask to know why he was hesitating. The three boys were the last full-blooded Lupa in existence. Once there had been six, and ever since our discovery of the remaining brothers, Wyatt had become a surrogate father and pack leader to them. They'd also accepted me as his mate and as a quasi-mother figure.
The sudden change from single Hunter to step-mother of three teenagers had been a mind-fuck, let me tell you.
Everyone at the Watchtower knew who John, Peter and Mark were, and they knew the boys were under our protection. It still didn't stop old prejudices against Lupa from affecting the attitudes of the other Therians. Lupa had been all but eradicated because they refused to follow Assembly laws, and they infected humans for sport. While one of their dead brothers had been responsible for Wyatt's infection, neither of us blamed the three red-headed teens that had been thrust into our lives. They were desperate for love and acceptance, and I could relate to that.
Everyone deserved the chance to have a family. Even one as fucked up as ours.
"For an hour," Wyatt finally replied.
I rolled to face Wyatt, unsurprised to see apprehension lining his forehead. I smoothed my hand through his thick black hair, then down his neck to rasp against the near-permanent stubble on his cheeks and chin. He leaned into the touch, eyelids dropping down over black eyes now permanently flecked with silver.
He nuzzled my palm, his free hand tracing gentle circles on my lower back. I nudged my thigh against his groin, unsurprised to find a semi-hard on. Lupa were incredibly sexual creatures, often aroused even when nothing remotely sexy was going on. I was still getting used to it, and Wyatt constantly reminded me that just because he was sporting wood, he didn't expect  to have sex. It was a thing we were still working out, a push-pull battle between his ingrained desires and his unwillingness to accidentally hurt me.
"Morning," he said.
"Good morning, hot stuff."
He rolled me under, settling between my thighs. The gentle weight of his belly pressed close to mine reminded me I was wanted and loved. So much of my past was violence and hatred. Having these moments with Wyatt was worth more than I could ever measure in words or gold. The hot length of him pressed against my core, and I lifted my knees, cradling him there. Arousal curled through me, driving away the last remnants of sleep and leaving me wanting.
"How do you feel?" he asked.
I couldn't lie to him. We'd gone at it for over an hour last night. "A little sore."
The flash of regret was there and gone quickly. He started to pull away, but I locked my ankles behind his back.
"Not that sore," I said.
"You sure?"
Wyatt snagged a condom from the box next to the bed. Because full-blooded Lupa bites were incredibly infectious to humans, we were careful about how we kissed and made love. And since there hadn't been a half-Lupa in centuries, no one knew if the same antigens in his blood would transfer through semen, and our on-staff doctor couldn’t be sure. Wyatt wouldn't take any chances with infecting me with the Lupa virus, so we used protection every time.
I loosened my hold long enough for him to put on the condom, then pulled him inside of me. He swallowed my groan, mouth locking over mine in a searing kiss that made my toes curl and my insides ache for him. For everything we were and could ever be together. He moved in long, hard thrusts that made the bed creak and sent the frame slamming into the wall, and I didn't give a shit if our neighbors heard. We belonged to each other, and I would never be ashamed of that.
In my old life, sex had been a way to blow off steam. I hadn't cared who, as long as I got off, and some days the rougher the better. And then I was kidnapped by goblins and raped to death, and sex became something scary. Something used to hurt me. Wyatt's patience and love had turned a horror into a beautiful thing, and I loved him more every single day for what he'd given back to me.
Pleasure lashed through me, heating my blood, and I thrust up against him. Often times old fears prevented us from making love like this, with Wyatt engulfing me with his bulk, on my back. This morning I was enthralled by it. I took everything he gave me, demanding more. Sweat beaded his forehead and shoulders, and it slicked the skin between us.
I grabbed his ass and urged him on, harder, faster, to end the kind of quickie we rarely indulged in because it never felt like enough. I wanted all of him, to lick and suck and stroke, not a simple wham-bam roll in the hay. But today was the day that our lives changed, and I wanted every moment I could get with my lover.
He hiked my right leg higher, deepening his angle on each stroke. I raked my nails down his back, and he rewarded me by sucking on the hollow spot beneath my collarbone. I cried out something nonsensical. He worked a hand between us and rubbed circles over my clit, and everything went momentarily white. My entire body tightened, then relaxed, as pure pleasure washed over me. My thighs trembled from it, and I couldn't stop shaking. Not even when Wyatt plunged deeply twice more and groaned through his own orgasm. He held us together, our bodies joined by sweat and ecstasy, both of us breathing hard.
He pressed his face into my shoulder and exhaled long, deep breaths. I stroked his back with gentle fingers, enjoying the fine tremors that ran down his spine. The lovely aftershocks of his release. I kissed his temple, reveling in the fleeting perfection of the moment.
"I love you," I said.
"Love you too." He kissed my cheeks, my nose, then my lips. "So much, Evy. I love you so much and for so long."
He dumped the condom, and then pulled me back into his arms. We existed like that for a while, the real world held at bay for a bit longer.
"Are you thinking about the meeting?" I asked.
"Can't stop. You?"
"Trying hard not to think about it."
"Ignoring it won't make it go away this time."
"It never does."
I wasn't the "ignore a problem and hope it goes away" kind of girl. I'm the "kick it in the face or kill it to make it go away" kind of fighter, and I always have been. But kicking and killing wouldn't solve the problem staring us in the face, nor would it do much good at today's scheduled meeting. All I could do was wait and see what everyone else involved had to say.
"What do you think the Assembly will decide?" I asked.
"It's hard to guess at this point. They're still fighting over what Vale tried to do to the Dane family."
Tried to do meaning a coup. Each of the thirteen shifter Clans had an Elder representative on the Assembly, which met and made decisions on behalf of all of the Clans. The Felia (aka the cat shifters) Pride had come under attack by some of their own, a family of Bengals led by a man named Vale, intent on overthrowing Elder Marcellus Dane and replacing him on the Assembly. The entire thing had backfired, the bad guy was dead, and Elder Dane had officially stepped down due to health reasons. An Assembly vote a few days ago placed Astrid and Marcus's cousin Riley into Marcellus’s position of Elder.
Vale's accomplices had been punished by the Assembly, but rumor was a few of the Elders had actually sided with Vale. No one was admitting to it—that I knew about—so it was difficult to determine which Clans were still Watchtower allies.
Of course, the issue went far beyond the Watchtower. If Amalie chose to go to war with the rest of the world, she wouldn't pick and choose her enemies. Every single human, Therian, vampire, and whoever else she hated at that moment would be targeted by her minions.
I had no idea how fairies and sprites went to war, and I had no desire whatsoever to find out.
"We should get up," I said. "The meeting is in three hours."
Wyatt grumbled, but released me from his iron grip.
We were in some of the newest housing in the Watchtower. Most of the single members lived in dormitory style housing built in an old store front. A larger store across the corridor had been turned into something more like multi-room apartments. We had one with two bedrooms that shared a living room type space, but without the traditional kitchen area. We did have a bathroom space to share with all five of us.
Yeah, three teenage boys shared one room.
I'd already declared I was never cleaning that room. Ever.
I'm a warrior, not a maid.
The boys were gone by the time we were showered, dressed, and deemed ourselves presentable to the rest of the our coworkers. Wyatt wore his familiar uniform of black jeans and a black t-shirt. With his black hair, scruff and olive skin, the picture was drool-worthy, and he was all mine. I stuck to jeans and a long-sleeve tee, with a corduroy jacket, now that the fall weather was inching into winter.
The meeting would happen at ten a.m. in the War room, so we had time to hit the cafeteria. My stomach was tight and squirrely with nerves, and it didn't settle at the crowd already filling the spacious eating area. Even those who patrolled at night and slept during the day were up, the air full of anxiety and curiosity.
I grabbed a plain bagel and bottle of water, while Wyatt piled his plate high with food of all kinds. His half-Lupa nature had practically doubled his metabolism, which meant he was hungry almost all of the time. I wasn't complaining about the way his arms and abs were cut to perfection, but the frequent eating made me jealous.
Wyatt nudged my hip, then angled his head. I followed his general direction to a table near the back, farther away from the bulk of the crowd. Gina Kismet, Marcus Dane, and Milo Gant sat there alone, the three of them as serious as I'd ever seen them. Seeing Milo eating in the cafeteria made my heart kick in a happy way.
Not quite two weeks ago, Milo had been nearly beaten to death by Vale in an attempt to make Marcus give up important security information. Milo had held on, never letting Vale break him, but he'd been left with serious injuries to his back and legs—swelling that had taken days to go down, bruises that still painted his skin, and pain that would be a long time fading. Tybalt and Milo had been brothers to me, and I couldn't have stood losing them both. I was barely handling Tybalt's death.
The walker Milo used for long-distance hobbling stood nearby, and he looked up with a bright smile when he saw me and Wyatt heading in his direction. "Hey, guys."
I plunked down across from him. "What's shaking, gimpy?"
"Fuck you," Milo said with a grin.
"Milo's progress has increased tremendously in the last few days," Marcus said. He tended to take my teasing a bit too seriously, but the big werecat was also seriously overprotective of Milo. I still wasn't sure if the pair was technically a couple, but they gave off serious "I want you" vibes when they were together.
Things probably would have progressed a lot faster if Vale hadn't decided to make Milo a human punching bag. I bristled briefly at the memories of Milo's torture, then shoved them down deep where they wouldn't bother me today. No regrets, no past issues. Today was about taking back our future, no matter what.
"I don't have to stay in the infirmary anymore," Milo said. "I can go back to the dorms tonight."
Marcus's expression was difficult to decipher. Something between pleasure and a silent reassurance that he wouldn't be alone, no matter what dorm he went back to. I liked knowing Marcus was around to take care of Milo. They both needed someone.
"That's fabulous news, pal." I reached over the table to ruffle his hair, because it would bother him. He stuck his tongue out, and I laughed.
"Wish I could be at the meeting with you guys today," Milo added.
"It's a pretty tight guest list."
"And for good reason," Marcus added. "Many Elders will be present, as well as other leaders. Security will extra important given the nature of the meeting."
"And they don't need a useless guard hanging around."
"You are far from useless."
"He's always good for a sarcastic comment," I said.
Milo flipped me off.
Wyatt ate in silence, as he often did around any of the Felia. Lupa and Felia were mortal enemies, ingrained in their DNA or something like that. From the moment he was infected and became aware of his surroundings again, Wyatt had snarled and snapped at Marcus specifically. To the other Felia to a lesser degree. Wyatt was learning to control himself, but he too frequently struggled to maintain his humanity.
Some days I wondered if the Lupa blood in his system was going to take away what was left of the man.
I hope not. I love him too much to let him go.
"Gina says the obstacle course will be back on schedule soon," Milo said. "I can't wait to run it and kick your ass."
I snickered. "Dream on, Gant."
"Hey, I told you I'd kick your and Tybalt's asses." His smile faltered, fractured by grief. Tybalt had been Milo's best friend and part of his Triad for almost two years, and the wound was still fresh. He'd lost a brother, too.
"We all miss him," Marcus said.
Milo shrugged and picked at the remnants of his breakfast.
One day we'd be able to talk about our lost friends without feeling such a thick, blanket of grief. I hoped.
My phone chimed with a text. Ops. 911.
Great. Emergency first thing in the morning. No one else at the table had gotten the message, but that didn't stop Wyatt from grabbing a handful of sausage links and following me.
The entire mall was in the shape of a big, square-ish U. The cafeteria sat at one corner of the top of the U, with Operations near the center of the top. It was a short walk down the corridor, which was thick with Watchtower members. Rumors about today's big meet-up had spread, and everyone wanted to see who'd show.
I entered Operations, which was the heart and soul of our organization. Besides the War Room, it also housed a bank of computers and large screens that projected pretty much anything we needed to see. Rufus oversaw most of Ops, because he had the most computer skills among the senior staff. Milo could probably give him a run for his figurative money, but Milo preferred staying in the field to being stuck behind a desk.
Given his wheelchair, Rufus didn't have much choice in the matter.
Rufus looked up from his computer terminal, his expectant look melting into a frown. "Who invited you?"
Wyatt growled. "I invited myself."
I shrugged. "I tried a leash, but he keeps breaking loose."
"You really don't need to shadow her everywhere, Wyatt," Rufus said.
"I know that," Wyatt replied.
"Right." He turned his attention back to me, the one he had summoned. "It's about the Frosts."
"What did they do now?" Lori and Stephen Frost were the biological parents of the body in which I was currently residing. While I'd absorbed some of Chalice's memories and sensory perceptions, I didn't know them as my parents. My parents were an unknown deadbeat and a drunken whore.
For a while, they'd sat by while Chalice didn't contact them for more than six months. Last week they'd finally gone on the news trying to find their missing daughter, and a private detective tricked me into meeting with them. We'd brought them back to the Watchtower for their own good, and neither one of them had taken the news about my true nature well—or the fact that shapeshifters, gremlins, and other assorted creatures actually did exist.
Not well at all.
Astrid had ordered them kept here until further notice, and I'd refused to visit them for the last week. I had too much to do and no patience to deal with them.
"Astrid doesn't want them locked up indefinitely, and I agree that it's cruel," Rufus said. "Their daughter is dead, and they deserve a chance to grieve for her."
I crossed my arms. "And what the hell am I supposed to do about it?"
"Talk to them again."
"And say what? Stephen thinks I'm possessed or something. They want me in therapy."
"I could talk to them," Wyatt said.
"No way," I replied. "You're about as subtle as a two-by-four to the head."
"You're no diplomat yourself, Evy."
Okay, so he had me there. "If I honestly thought anything I had to say would make a difference, I'd go talk to them. I'm not their daughter. All they see when they look at me is Chalice. I'm never going to make them believe I'm Evy Stone."
"We've been holding them prisoner for over a week," Rufus said. "We can't keep them here forever. They have lives to go back to. Sooner or later someone is going to start missing them."
          Fractals, brains, Pi        
A fellow-traveler on SomaSimple found this blogpost, Fractal Thoughts on Fractal Brains by David Pinkus, an interesting sequence of thoughts spurred by an open access article, Broadband Criticality of Human Brain Network Synchronization.

The word "fractal" always conjures up in my mind an image of the Norwegian coastline, then another little tidbit that always has stuck with me, about pi,
"Pi also appears as the average ratio of the actual length and the direct distance between source and mouth in a meandering river (Stølum 1996, Singh 1997)."

From the blogpost:
"The design, results and context for this study are very sophisticated, and the implications are quite abstract. So I’m going to do my best to be clear. First the context: Many natural systems exhibit fractal organization and behavior. A fractal is a branchlike structure. Think of a tree: (1) Trees have many more small branches than large ones. This characteristic is also sometimes called a “power-law” or “inverse power law” or a “1/f” organization. Each of these terms means that there are exponentially more small branches compared to big ones. (2) Trees are “self-similar,” meaning that small branching patterns resemble larger ones. This characteristic is also sometimes called “scale invariance” or “scale free” because no matter the size you are looking at, the general branching shape is the same. (3) The complexity of tree branching patterns can be quantified. Fractals are called “fractals” because they exist in fractional dimensions. A line fits perfectly in one-dimension. A plane (like a piece of paper) fits in two-dimensions. Fractals fit in between a line and a plane (or in the real world between two and three dimensions). More simply, because they are so complex, with huge numbers of tini tiny branches, trees never quite reach three dimensions. If you put them in a box, there will always be some space left over.

You may quickly recognize that many other natural structures besides trees are fractals: Neurons, rivers, the respiratory system, the circulatory system, geological fault lines, snow-flakes, and so on."

As if fractal form doesn't sound complex enough, there is fractal behaviour, apparently:

"Natural systems also produce fractal behavior over time or in dynamics. Earthquakes are a common example. There are many more small earthquakes than large ones (which is nice by the way). Other examples include the size of extinction events in animal species, numbers of academic publications (a few researchers do huge amounts of work and the rest of us do just a little), numbers of hits to web-sites, wait times in stop-and-go traffic, and word usage in literature (i.e., zipf’s law)."

Fractals as verbs as well as nouns. I've often thought of the brain as more verb than noun.
          Modi government is finally making moves to pull engineering back from brink of extinction        
AICTE, the body that regulates tech education in India, has now made it compulsory for engineering students to complete 2 internships during their course.
          Honoring Our National Mammal        

On May 9, 2016, President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act into law making the bison our National Mammal, a designation that has been a long time goal of coalition member, the Texas Bison Association (TBA) as well as their many supporters.  It was refreshing to see, in this day and age, bipartisan congressional support for the bill.  Of course, the bison is the perfect choice for such an illustrious title as National Mammal.

Has any other mammal had the impact on this country’s cultural and natural history as the bison?  From sustaining our indigenous peoples for untold generations to being a vital economic driver, the bison formed the foundation for much of the nation’s early history.  As a keystone species, the historic herds of millions of bison roaming the prairies and plains of the country worked to actually create those habitats.  Bison grazing stimulated plant growth.  Bison hooves by the millions trampled invading brush and scored the soil surface increasing water infiltration.  And of course, tons of bison manure helped to build the famously fertile prairie soils which today provide so much of our food.

It is only fitting that our National Mammal be a species that has benefited from the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.  The bison was one of the country’s first conservation success stories as ranchers, hunters, conservationists, and bison enthusiasts of all kinds worked individually and collectively to save the species from impending extinction in the late 1800s/early 1900s.  Granted, habitat fragmentation prevents bison from freely roaming the nation’s grasslands leading to the species’ current status as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need here in Texas but thanks to the concerted efforts of groups like the TBA in Texas and around the country, the species will survive and the U.S. will always be home to an icon.

Rob Denkhaus


NOTE: As I wrote this another Coalition member, the Friends of the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, announced the birth of the first bison calf of the year for their herd.  Visit for more information on this public bison herd.

          Jennifer Hecht on Suicide        

In the United States over the past decade, the rate of suicide has risen sharply. Although it rose among all age groups during this period, it shot up dramatically in two groups:

  • in the 35-64 age group, suicide increased 30 percent, and
  • among men in their fifties, it increased 50 percent.

Today, suicide deaths per year (38,364) exceed deaths per year due to auto accidents (33,687). (1)

These sobering facts have prompted poet, historian, and philosopher, Jennifer Hecht, to call for a national conversation on suicide in a recent book entitled Stay.(2) She also proposes that the conversation focus on two key arguments against suicide, one based on hope, the other on community. Let’s consider each. (3)

On hope, Hecht cites studies of near-suicide cases which show a clear pattern. Most of those who nearly took their own lives find that their later lives are "full and rich beyond expectation." (4) She sees three lessons in this:

  • a suicidal mood is often temporary,
  • one’s situation is likely to improve as time passes, and
  • suicide is a mistake because it closes off the possibility of improvement.

We must learn, Hecht argues, that moments of happiness in our past are likely to return if we show the patience and courage to endure the sorrow-filled moments of the present. (5) Once we grasp this, she reasons, we will not allow ourselves to be victims of the mood of the moment. (6)

On community, Hecht argues that we have a duty to others, near and far, to stay alive. This is because humanity is "profoundly interconnected." (7) Each of us matters. Each of us contributes in some way to helping others, and when we help others, we promote their happiness and our own.

For Hecht, the choice to live says that you care about yourself, your family and friends, and others while the choice to die says that you don’t. For Hecht, the choice to live is an acceptance of responsibility and a commitment to help others while the choice to die is a rejection of responsibility and a commitment to harm them.

The harm which suicide causes has been the subject of scientific studies for decades. Hecht addresses two types of harm. 

  • The first is the sense of loss among those who value or depend on the deceased. A sudden and unexpected death results in sorrow for the survivors in virtually all cases. When the death is self-inflicted, though, the sorrow is much deeper. In most suicides the one who takes his or her life is not the only victim. (8)
  • The second is the ripple effect. The evidence is strong that one suicide invites others. The reason is that it legitimates suicide as a response to the shocks, troubles, disappointments, and setbacks that are part of the human condition. It serves as a disincentive to endure a storm. (9)

I applaud Hecht for her attempt to bring suicide out of the shadows. Since anti-suicide programs currently offered by government are not well known and haven’t had much impact, I hope that Stay will be a catalyst for a fuller understanding of suicide among all age groups and for initiatives to reduce suicide across our culture by schools and colleges, religious groups, the private sector, the media, entertainment, sports, and others.

  1. New York Times, May 2, 2013. Also, many sources report that suicides in the military now exceed combat deaths.
  2. Yale University Press, 2013. Hecht is prudent in calling for nation-wide attention to suicide. Here’s why:
    1. The U.S. Government already has a multi-agency program aimed at stemming the trend toward more suicides and that doesn’t seem to be working;
    2. Most other nations with much higher suicide rates than the U.S. also have anti-suicide government programs which don’t seem to be working. Examples are Greenland, which leads the world with 108.1 suicides per 100,000 population, and South Korea, which is second in the world with 31.7 suicides per 100,000 population. In Greenland, estimates are that one out of four or one out of five people attempts suicide. In South Korea, suicide is the most common form of death for those under 40. The suicide rate in the U.S., which ranks 33rd among the 107 nations for which data are available, is 12.0 per 100,000 population.
  3. While Hecht aims to reduce the suicide rate among the general population, she seems to approve of suicide in most cases of dying people who wish to hasten death.
  4. Stay, p. 175.
  5. Hecht quotes talk-show host Phil Donahue as follows: "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." See Stay, p. 192.
  6. On this point, Hecht quotes Voltaire: "The man who in a fit of melancholy, kills himself to-day, would have wished to live had he waited a week." Stay, p. 176. Here, Voltaire is overly optimistic. While many suicidal moods may pass in a week, many don’t. On extricating oneself from a suicidal mood, Hecht opines that most of us can do this on our own or by talking with a close friend; she concedes, however, that some of us may require professional help. See Stay, p. 213.
  7. Here Hecht quotes the poet John Donne: "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main...(A)ny man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." -- Meditation XVII, 1623, quoted in Stay, p. 121.
  8. On the harm caused by suicide, Hecht quotes the 17th Century French Enlightenment philosopher Julien Offray de La Mettrie: "What sort of monster is someone who, afflicted with a momentary pain, tears himself away from his family, his friends, and his homeland, and has no other aim but to deliver himself from his most sacred duties." The quote is from de La Mettrie’s "Epicurean System," and it appears in Stay, p. 132. The realization that one’s voluntary, premature death can cause significant harm to others can dissuade a person from suicide. For instance, one man whom I know was deterred from an imminent suicide by a friend who convinced him that his death would be a cruel and hateful legacy to his young daughter who loved him dearly. Incidentally, as time passed, the man’s situation improved markedly so that today he is a different person from the one on the verge of suicide. This anecdote illustrates the wisdom of both of Hecht’s arguments against suicide.
  9. Hecht uses this reasoning to argue that suicide is immoral: as a social being, you may perform an act provided that it is covered by a maxim (rule) that you can wish to universalize (endorse for everyone to follow). The maxim covering suicide is "I may take my life when it becomes too heavy a burden." According to Hecht, you cannot universalize this maxim. Since all humans sooner or later confront heavy burdens in life, doing so would result in the extinction of the human race, an outcome that no rational person could support. This, of course, originated with Immanuel Kant in the 18th Century. See Stay, p. 138.

          Downtown Dinner Show        

[caption id="attachment_92532" align="aligncenter" width="630"] Frankie Moreno[/caption]

Some things that used to be common in casinos are all but nonexistent today. For example, when’s the last time you heard someone being paged over a P.A.? Everyone has cellphones now, so pages aren’t necessary. Or what about tipping the “captain” for a better seat in the showroom? These days ushers direct you to your assigned seats. Another Vegas tradition that’s all but extinct is the dinner show.

Catching a dinner show used to be an entertainment go-to, and there were lots of choices. Today there’s Tournament of Kings at Excalibur and Marriage Can Be Murder at The D. That’s it. Every so often a casino combines a show with a dinner option, but they never click—with one recent exception. The Golden Nugget has managed to crack the code by bundling the Frankie Moreno show and the property’s buffet (called The Buffet). It’s not a traditional arrangement, but the two go together seamlessly to create a show-and-dinner experience that really works. I’ll break it into three components: the buffet, the show and the deal.

The show starts at 8 p.m. but you have to eat first, so getting there around 6:30 is the play. Moreno is on Thursdays and Saturdays, both specialty nights in The Buffet, themed Italian and BBQ, respectively. If you have a preference, choose that day. This isn’t a Bellagio-level buffet, but it’s only one level down, featuring an excellent salad selection and decent charcuterie board, plus medium peel-and-eat shrimp. One trait of the Nugget buffet has always been impressive desserts, and that’s still the case with crème brulee, delicate cream puffs and the famous Golden Nugget bread pudding that’s been Vegas’ best since Steve Wynn owned the joint.

Frankie Moreno isn’t exactly the most electrifying name for a show, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a throwback to the croon-and-banter style, where a big part of the act is talking to, joking with and generally revving up the audience—and, as an A-level showman, Moreno is brilliant at it. He and his 10-piece band perform on the same stage that’s said to be the last in Vegas to host Sinatra. The whole thing comes together to create that dinner-show feeling I’ve been talking about.
Now for the deal. Given the city’s average ticket price of $90-plus, Moreno’s $36 is a steal. The package is $47, so you’re getting The Buffet for just $11. Purchased separately, the combo would cost $62, so this deal saves almost $16 per person. Drinks in the showroom are a bargain, too, with beers starting at $5.

The only negative is the show’s short two-days-per-week schedule, but even though it’s not being advertised, the same deal is now available for the new Clint Holmes show, playing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. That’s four nights to choose from. Just pick one!

Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and

The post Downtown Dinner Show appeared first on Vegas Seven.

          Story from the Earthquake Zone        

It was Saturday morning at 4.35am. I was half awake, since the beginning of Ramadan, it has been my almost daily routine to wake up early at least half an hour before dawn. Normally I would wake at that time, to eat my breakfast before dawn, sahur and then perform solat tahajud before fajr or after dawn prayer. That morning was a bit different; I was contemplating of getting another wink of sleep.
Then the shaking start, and I knew then it was earthquake. I thought it was just a small one, but it goes on and on for almost a minute, the house swayed, and the swing of the pendulum, if you put pendulum on a string, getting longer. The light bulb above the bed swayed violently, and my wife yell earthquake and starts finding her way to the kitchen. The children also got up; they cowered under the bed for safety. We walked in the dark to the kitchen during the earthquake, my wife insisted on protecting her crystals and china in the display cabinet in the lounge. By the time we made our way to the lounge, the crystals and china were falling from the shelves...and then it stops.
We turned on the light, plates, glasses were all over the floor, broken. Our TV was face down on the floor too. I turned on the kettle to make tea and breakfast. Fifteen minutes later the light was out. Then there is an aftershock, another earthquake, strong enough but not as big as the first one. We told the children to go back to sleep. No point staying awake, we are not badly affected and our house is still standing in one piece.
People in our neighbourhood start to get out of their houses and start their cars, some were driving around surveying the damages and came back. A few walked around in our street. I sent a sms to Husin, and called Kak Julie checking if they are okay. Alhamdulillah they are okay. Husin sent a sms saying that he tried to call me but couldn’t get through. After fajr prayer, I went back to sleep.
Sulaiman, a friend from Malaysia who arrived the previous night were staying at a motel in Riccarton. I rang him up that morning and he was okay, he told me that was a surreal experience. He said that he drove around the city that early morning, and told me that a few old buildings have collapsed. One new building near Victoria Square has visible crack on it.
We got our electricity back about 10am, and sent a message to my sister telling her that about the earthquake and we were okay. Then we found out it was a 7.1 earthquake on the Richter scale.

Our water was still cut off until after 1pm, and that late morning I got on my bike and went to the city. Most part of the city was blocked off. Central business district was cordoned off, the police were guarding at every intersection. I cycled around and took some pictures, which I posted on facebook.
That night I went to tarawih prayer with Sulaiman at Masjid An Nur, we were reminded that Allah has the power of over our lives, that we were on the jaws of death less than 24 hour ago.
The aftershock kept on coming. There was another big one that Monday morning, registering at 5.4, but life has to go on as usual. Snippets of reports from delivery drivers that I met range from the closure of Lyttelton Tunnel, Westfield Mall Riccarton and pungent smell of sulphur around Lyttelton.
What worries me is that recent epicentres of the earthquake are closer to Lyttelton Harbour. We all know that Lyttelton Harbour is an extinct volcano. We also know that New Zealand was formed by the meeting of Pacific Plate and Indo-Australian Plate, where the boundaries make up the Southern Alps in the South Island. What if these recent earthquake activity open up old fissures that was an extinct volcano Lyttelton Harbour and its sister Akaroa Harbour? I read this Tectonic Plates theory in Geology class more than 20 years ago. Little did I know that it is written in the Quran. Thanks to Uztadz Asraff Ayob ( in his article about the earthquake.

And you see the mountains, thinking them rigid, while they will pass as the passing of clouds. [It is] the work of Allah, who perfected all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do.
Muhsin Khan
And you will see the mountains and think them solid, but they shall pass away as the passing away of the clouds. The Work of Allah, Who perfected all things, verily! He is Well-Acquainted with what you do.

On Wednesday I was invited to attend a function at CIC Lincoln Road. Datuk Hasnudin Hamzah, the Malaysian High Commissioner to New Zealand, and Mark Stewart, Honorary Malaysian Consul in Christchurch was there answering questions from those who attended. What shocked me was the level of trauma among Christchurch Malaysian community.
I went home after the first two questions. I was disappointed and embarrassed at the same time
          Megalodon teeth found along North Carolina beaches        
Really huge shark teeth are washing up along North Carolina beaches in large amounts since the beginning of October from Surf City to North Topsail Beach. Beach-goers found the teeth that were washed free from offshore sediments after recent coastal storms and higher than normal tides. The teeth of the extinct shark Megalodon (which means “big tooth”)…
          Re: a quiz on star wars characters        

If it helps anyone else all i know about vuffi raa, is that he resembled the extinct species that created him, and he turned into a ball or something...

          Cause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter - No. 83        

Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community, covering the wide range of work that you help make possible. Become a member today!

The Main Events

kpope.pngPoint of Inquiry Returns with Guests Elizabeth Kolbert and Carl Pope 

Point of Inquiry, the flagship podcast of the Center for Inquiry, returned this month with a new host and two new episodes both confronting the realities of humanity’s responsibility for the warming of our planet.

On June 1, President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, focusing energy and attention on the issue of climate change like never before. (See CFI’s official response here, in which we condemn the president for turning the U.S. into a “rogue state.”) So the very next day, Point of Inquiry’s new host Paul Fidalgo spoke to leading environmental activist Carl Pope about what happens next. Formerly the executive director of the Sierra Club, Pope is the coauthor of the optimistic new book Climate of Hope, written with Michael Bloomberg, which makes the case that the window for stopping climate change has not yet closed, and that cities, states, and businesses can make enormous (and economically beneficial) strides toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving the planet.

poipf.jpgThen, on the latest episode, Paul welcomes New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert to provide a very different perspective. As the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sixth Extinction, Kolbert has a deep understanding of what humans have wrought upon the Earth and its ecosystem, and the equally ugly politics that enable and obstruct meaningful action. Paul and Kolbert consider the ways we talk and think about climate change and how our society must come to grips with the inevitable disruptions in a world that will definitely get warmer. The question now is, can we stop it from getting worse?

As a special bonus, this episode also features a sort of “exit interview” with outgoing Point of Inquiry producer Nora Hurley. She and Paul chat about what the show has meant to them and what’s coming next for Nora, who, as she put it, is “packin’ my bags and movin’ to the Big City!”

After a busy start, the new Point of Inquiry plans for episodes to be released on a monthly basis. So, look forward to more, coming in July!


Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 4.05.21 PM copy.pngAttack of the Fire-Breathing Dinosaurs in Skeptical Inquirer 

The latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer takes on the hot-button topic of fire-breathing dinosaurs. No, really!

For a young-Earth creationist, it’s very difficult to explain how the world could be a mere 6,000 years old when literally all evidence tells us for a fact that the world is about 4.5 billion years old. So creationists take the ample evidence of prehistoric beasts such as dinosaurs and claim that these creatures lived alongside human beings just before Noah’s flood. To lend credence to this absurd idea, some have speculated that myths and legends about dragons, which appear in cultures all around the world, are inspired by humans’ direct contact with dinosaurs. In fact, say some creationist thinkers, it may very well be that, like the dragons of stories, some dinosaurs were able to breathe fire. You see?

In Skeptical Inquirer’s cover feature, Fayetteville University paleontologist Philip J. Senter takes the creationists’ arguments on their merits to see if there is any physiological plausibility to the idea that fire-breathing dinosaurs could have ever existed. Maybe the dinosaurs ignited methane, emitted “pyrophoric gas,” or even had electrical organs like eels! Alas, simple scientific realities make it clear that any of these ideas only end very badly for the flame-throwing beast in question. But as ridiculous as it is, the exploration of how it might be done is both amusing and enlightening.

Also in the July/August issue, James Randi exposes the sham autism therapy of “facilitated communication”; Sébastian Point reveals the dangers of pseudoscientific “chromotherapy”; Matthew Nisbet critiques the politicization of the March for Science; and a whole lot more. Subscribe to Skeptical Inquirer today, in print or on your favorite mobile platform.


trumpbiblepage.pngReligious Exemptions Go Too Far, from Walgreens to the White House 

This month, the Center for Inquiry responded to two instances of women’s health and the rule of law being superseded by the religious beliefs of someone in a position in authority: one national, one local, and both unacceptable.

Two weeks ago, a draft regulation from the Trump administration was leaked, a regulation granting unreasonably broad exemptions to the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act, allowing any corporation—religious or not—to claim a religious exemption to providing contraception under employer-sponsored health insurance plans. This goes far beyond even the religious allowances granted by the poorly decided Hobby Lobby case, which was at least limited to “closely held” religious businesses and nonprofits. Now, any employer can claim this exemption from the law.

CFI Legal Director Nick Little said in our statement, “If this draft regulation goes into effect, the rights of women to receive much needed zero cost preventive care would depend on the religious whims of their employer.” And our President and CEO Robyn Blumner called out Trump for his blatant coddling of the extreme religious conservatives who helped elect him. “Allowing employers to impose their religious dogma through workplace rules is one way to payback the religious right.”

Last week, the ACLU took up the case of a mother and daughter who were discriminated against by a Walgreen’s pharmacist. Looking to have a valid birth control prescription filled, the pharmacist refused service, claiming that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. “A pharmacist’s job is to protect a patient’s health, not to concern themselves with a patient’s soul,” said Nick in our official response. “A community places its trust in the scientific integrity of a pharmacist’s counsel, but this pharmacist chose to reject their vital medical role and arrogantly assume the authority of clergy.”


News from the CFI Community

intvwonpfmc.jpgEmployment Opportunity: Web Content Coordinator 

CFI is looking to hire a Web Content Coordinator to develop, maintain, organize, and add content to its websites and migrate content to Wordpress. You may also be asked to work on web-based marketing campaigns. This is an entry-level, full-time position located at CFI–Transnational in Amherst, NY. (No remote workers or freelancers need apply.)

If you or someone you know is interested, visit the complete listing on our employment page for full details and how to apply!


5244058689_40035996f2.jpgGet Away from It All with a Secular Summer Retreat in Michigan 

If there has ever been a time to blow off some steam, it’s the summer of 2017, and CFI Michigan has just the thing. (And you don’t have to be from Michigan to take part!) Enjoy group activities, great food, and the beautiful outdoors, all in the company of a lot of great people with the 2017 CFI Michigan Secular Summer Retreat, July 14–16!

Fun activities will include games, bonfires by the lake, a giant Slip-n-Slide, hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, and a whole lot more, all at the beautiful historic campground at the Long Lake Outdoor Center near Hastings, Michigan. Registration ends June 30, so sign up now! 


csicon17lvsq.jpgGet Psyched for CSICon!

CSICon 2017, the biggest skeptics’ event of the year, is coming October 26–29 in the City of Illusions, Las Vegas! Have you registered yet?

The lineup of speakers is simply astounding, with luminaries such as James Randi, Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, Cara Santa Maria, Michael Mann, Richard Wiseman, Lawrence Krauss, Massimo Polidoro, Carrie Poppy, and once again serving as master of ceremonies, the hilarious George Hrab.

All the action takes place at the fantastical Excalibur Hotel and Casino, where you’ll also experience a Tournament of Kings Joust Dinner, a magic show by Banachek, special lunch events with skeptic stars, a Halloween 70’s Disco Party, a Sunday Papers session, and more.

Now is the time for a conference dedicated to science and reason…one that will also be incredibly fun. Get registered now, and we’ll see you in Vegas.


CFI Highlights on the Web

  • hannityisawful.pngRobert Blaskiewicz examines the tangled web of rumors and lies that make up the conspiracy theories surrounding the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. Robert says, “It seems clear that the right wing media would rather talk about anything other than the unfolding extinction event at the White House.”
  • Benjamin Radford evaluates the claim that the mythical chupacabra monster has its roots in the real bird species of the same name, also known as the European nightjar...and it all revolves around the term goat-sucker.
  • Is there any merit to the spinal manipulation therapy of chiropractors? “Skepdoc” Harriet Hall considers the question and offers sound, skeptical advice as to what to look for when seeking a professional to crack your back.
  • Joe Nickell shows off another part of his collection of classic snake oil: Yet another cure-all called florida water, which was neither water nor a product of Florida. You can probably guess what it was: alcohol. 
  • Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia has an important dimension to their mission, collecting audio from skeptic events. Susan Gerbic explains the project and puts out the call for transcribers. 

And of course, you can keep up with news relevant to skeptics and seculars every weekday with The Morning Heresy.


Upcoming CFI Events

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June 17:

June 18:

June 19:

June 28:

July 14–16:

July 29:


Thank you!

Everything we do at CFI is made possible by you and your support. Let’s keep working together for science, reason, and secular values.  Donate today!

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Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter is edited by Paul Fidalgo, Center for Inquiry communications director.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at 


          Cause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter - No. 82        

Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community, covering the wide range of work that you help make possible. Become a member today!

The Main Events

schedule-joust logo.jpgAll Evidence Points to an Amazing CSICon 2017 

Have you registered for CSICon 2017 in Las Vegas, taking place October 26–29? It’s shaping up to be the biggest and best skeptics’ event of the year. That’s a pretty bold prediction, but the evidence is overwhelming.

First, there’s the incredible lineup of speakers. Rarely have so many leading lights of science and reason been part of the same event. A veritable constellation of skeptic luminaries will be presenting at CSICon 2017, representing the sciences, grassroots activism, journalism and media, the arts, and more. James Randi, Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, Richard Wiseman, Cara Santa Maria, Lawrence Krauss, and Lindsay Beyerstein are just a small sampling of the dozens of skeptic leaders coming to CSICon.

Then there’s the entertainment and social events, because it wouldn’t be CSICon Las Vegas without plenty of fun. Taking place in the fantastical Excalibur Hotel, get ready for the Tournament of Kings Joust Dinner, a magic show by Banachek, special lunch events with skeptic stars, a Halloween 70’s Disco Party, and more. Plus, all of CSICon’s ceremonies will be mastered by comic-musician George Hrab. The full schedule has now been posted online.

aacarousel-konnikova.jpgThat’s not all. It was just announced that New Yorker writer Maria Konnikova will receive the 2016 Balles Prize in Critical Thinking for her book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It…Every Time, a book that exposes the tricks of the con artists’ trade and explains why all of us are vulnerable to being taken in, including skeptics. Konnikova will be at CSICon to accept her prize and to deliver yet another fascinating presentation.

Need more? To give you an idea of what’s in store for CSICon 2017, take a look back at CSICon 2016 on CFI’s web series Reasonable Talk. The current season is featuring some of the best presentations from CSICon 2016, with Maria Konnikova’s talk and Jamy Ian Swiss’s conversation with Richard Dawkins available to watch right now, with more on the way.

We think we’ve made our case. But to make it all come together, we need you! Register now, come together with the skeptic community, get inspired, and have a blast at CSICon 2017. See you in Vegas.


20170524191212-Dawkins-Coyne.jpgThousands Inspired by Richard Dawkins and Friends 

Richard Dawkins has just completed a successful tour of four U.S. cities, delighting, challenging, and inspiring the minds of the thousands who came out to see him in conversation with truly special guests—and all to support the work that you help make possible with the Center for Inquiry.

In Los Angeles, Dawkins took the stage with satirist Adam Felber, best known for appearances on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and as a writer for shows such as Real Time with Bill Maher. Nearly 900 people filled the Alex Theatre, aided by the great team at CFI Los Angeles.

DAm59iFWAAAkCpW.jpgNext up was Boulder, Colorado, where the audience was charmed by the conversation between Dawkins and special guest Annabelle Gurwitch, a bestselling author, TV personality, and the latest celebrity to tell her story for the Openly Secular campaign. You can see from the picture on the right, there was one young lady who was particularly excited to see Richard Dawkins in person. Gurwitch took the picture and tweeted, “Hope for the future!”

Then it was off to the nation’s capital, where CFI DC hosted Dawkins and fellow evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, bestselling author of Why Evolution Is True. CFI board member Brian Engler performed his valuable service, taking a set of excellent photos of this meeting of two great scientific minds.

While in Washington, DC, Dawkins was invited to have a conversation on NPR’s Weekend Edition with host Scott Simon, in which the two discussed recent news, perceptions of atheism, and even CFI’s crucial Secular Rescue program, which works to bring secular writers and activists to safety when their lives are threatened in countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The last stop was Miami, where attendees were presented with a pairing that almost no one could have predicted: Richard Dawkins and the Pulitzer Prize–winning humorist Dave Barry. What a treat it must have been to be in the room for this exchange of insights and observations.

Thanks so much to all who came out to see Richard Dawkins this fall. He’ll be back for CSICon 2017 in Las Vegas.


News from HQ and the CFI Community

1a495722305699-IMG_2016-Winter-close-up.jpgAmanda Knox, Nick Little, and Religious Privilege 

You probably know Amanda Knox as the woman imprisoned for years in Italy for murder, for which she was exonerated by the Italian Supreme Court. Today, she is a journalist and activist for the wrongfully convicted, and she recently wrote a major report for VICE in which she exposes the use of religion in prisons as the only available path to rehabilitation, which manipulates inmates into indoctrination.

For a legal perspective, Knox sought the insight of CFI’s General Counsel Nick Little. Nick describes how prisons are predisposed to allow access to prisoners by all manner of faith-based figures but frequently put up barriers when it comes to secular influences. “[Prison officials] know that they have to allow all prisoners access to a Bible and to the Quran. But they never consider that prisoners who aren’t religious may want access to a non-religious book in the same way,” Nick tells her. “It’s a problem that a Catholic who wants someone to talk to never faces. They always have access to somebody of their faith background. And that’s not available to humanist prisoners.”

nicholaslittlelittleheadshot2.jpgMeanwhile, wholly by coincidence, Nick’s commentary was also featured by another writer at VICE, Gabby Bess, who reports on a case in which doctors in Michigan who performed female genital mutilation procedures on seven-year-olds are using religious liberty as a defense.

Nick explains that there exists no constitutional right to be exempt from generally applicable laws because of one’s religious beliefs, but that the Hobby Lobby case and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act have blurred the lines. “However,” adds Nick, “this would be a major step further, to allow direct harm to a child.”


Michigan Secular Celebrant Class--May 2017 (1).JPGSecular Celebrants Trained in Michigan

A group of nine enthusiastic and community-minded freethinkers successfully completed their training as Secular Celebrants on May 13, when CFI Michigan hosted Reba Boyd Wooden, director of CFI Indiana and head of the CFI Secular Celebrant program.

The trainees will now be expected to complete some additional requirements, and once they do, they will be officially certified to represent the Center for Inquiry as Secular Celebrants, authorized to perform marriages and officiate at many other milestone events in which it is desired that the secular humanist life stance be represented.

After two recent groundbreaking court victories, CFI Secular Celebrants are now able to solemnize marriages in Indiana and Illinois, and earlier this month, the state of Oregon enacted a new law authorizing the same. You can listen to CFI Portland’s Dani Tofte discuss this issue on Jefferson Public Radio.

CFI continues to seek out opportunities to change state laws that prevent those who wish to be married by an officiant who shares their secular worldview from having that opportunity. For example, CFI Northeast Ohio is supporting legislation in that state, introduced by State Sen. Michael Skindell.

Eight of the class were Michigan natives, and one came all the way from Ohio. Congratulations to all. Click here if you’re interested in becoming a CFI Secular Celebrant yourself!


CFI Highlights on the Web and in the Media

  • whale whale.jpgIn a special report for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Benjamin Radford looks into the “moral panic” over what seems to be a wholly fictional phenomenon: The “Blue Whale Game,” which is alleged to instruct teenagers to commit suicide.
  • Major advancements in life-enhancing and life-extending biotechnology bring with them difficult ethical questions we are obligated to address. In a new essay at HuffPost, CFI’s Ronald Lindsay says religious morality is not equipped for this task.
  • In the Sun-Sentinel, Rabbi Barry Silver discusses his opposition to the National Day of Prayer and support of the National Day of Reason as an alternative, noting CFI’s role in its creation.
  • What the heck is a “globster”? Joe Nickell explains what’s behind “great decaying masses” that wash up on shores and seem to be horrible sea monsters.
  • Joe also discusses his investigations about sightings of moa, an extinct New Zealand creature that resembles a kind of monster-ostrich.
  • Bertha Vazquez updates us on the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) program, with new workshops coming in Nebraska and North Carolina, new teacher corps members, and more.
  • For Skeptical Briefs, Ben Radford provides a rumination on the desire to unearth something truly paranormal in a piece about his investigation of an old “haunted” hotel.
  • Ben is also the guest on The Folklore Podcast, discussing the mythical chupacabra.
  • Mick West looks at the usefulness and pitfalls of crowdsourced UFO investigation.

And of course, you can keep up with news relevant to skeptics and seculars every weekday with The Morning Heresy.


Upcoming CFI Events

happypride.jpgJune 10:

June 11:

June 13:

June 17:

June 18:

524405aaaa8689_40035996f2.jpgJune 19:

July 14–16:


Thank you!

Everything we do at CFI is made possible by you and your support. Let’s keep working together for science, reason, and secular values.  Donate today!

CFI Logo MarkFortnightly updates not enough? Of course they’re not.

       •  Follow CFI on Twitter.

       •  Like us on Facebook

       •  Encircle us on Google+

       •  Subscribe to us on YouTube.


Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter is edited by Paul Fidalgo, Center for Inquiry communications director.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at 


          Is New Brunswick Ready for the Shift?        
For years provincial and municipal governments have invested millions of dollars to maintain an industrial age economy based on natural resources like timber. Through these investments, our province has seen its rural regions especially the northern areas face an exodus of workers to southern cities and western provinces. Because we have decided to place greater emphasis on maintaining the norm, our provincial landscape is shifting. It is inevitable that our province needs to address key issues or New Brunswick faces certain extinction in the 21st century economy and national stage.

New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham has gone on record
to suggest that workers in communities reeling from the closure of mills will likely have to leave their homes to pursue employment opportunities. While honesty is appreciated, we asked ourselves three questions related to the article:

1. How did we get here?
2. What have we learned?
3. Where are we headed?

How did
we get here?
It is easy to criticize, condemn and complain about the challenges our province faces, but it is important to show leadership and acknowledge that decisions we have made in the direction of our province have led us to economic collapse in Northern NB. Our continued investment in outdated and inefficient manufacturing facilities, transportation, illiteracy and an education model that supports dying sectors has us heading in a dangerous territory.

What have we learned?
You might not know it but you are seeing a clash between the transformation from the industrial age society to the Internet age community. This clash is not unique to New Brunswick. Many of our traditional manufacturing sector jobs are being moved to other regions of the globe because we are no longer as competitive as other regions of the planet in regards to manual labor. This "problem" is caused by innovative technologies and efficient exporting which makes offshoring a more feasible option. While we might be reluctant to let go of our proud past, we need to accept that the world is in the midst of a shift in which New Brunswick can write a new chapter in its history. What you are witnessing is not a problem, but an opportunity to move New Brunswick forward!

Where are we headed?
The Premier raises an interesting point in relation to transit. His suggestion that workers might have to relocate for employment has led me to question if we are investing in the right kind of infrastructure? Instead of investment into more roads, which are a burden on the taxpayer in relation to construction, maintenance and the environment, why are we not investing in smart transportation and telecommuting as an alternative through building a knowledge enabled workforce?

Roads are a popular topic with the electorate, but if we were to invest the millions we put into expansion and maintenance of our highways and put that same investment into a light rail system, then workers from across this province could easily commute between work and home more easily like they do in Europe. Imagine workers from Miramichi being able to live there, but take the 7:30 AM train to Saint John to be at work by 8:30 AM then leave at 5PM to make it home by supper. While more inconvenient then our current circumstance, this option would help communities across this province thrive while also increasing the labor pool for larger economic centers and vice-versa. I would go even further and suggest that we built a rail system which links Atlantic Canada to the New England states, much like the London to Paris train. This would increase the fluidity of trade between our nations and give us access to a large workforce which is needed to prevent this area of the world to become the next 3rd world state.

The only question that I have not been able to answer is whether the people of New Brunswick are ready to shift towards the Internet age or do we have to reach rock bottom first?

Submitted by Trevor Macausland
          Crypto-Entomology Art Print by Brian Giberson - The Foglighter Fly by indigolights        

20.00 USD

8 x 10 photo print of the Foglighter Fly 1845

- The Foglighter Fly was native to the back alley's and riverfronts of London.

The insect image is from the files of a long defunct gentleman's scientific organization - The Society of Crypto-Entomology


The Society of Crypto-Entomology was founded in 1788 by
Hyperion Wells, the grand father of noted author H. G. Wells. The institute was created to study the life cycle and habitant of elusive insects previously thought to be the stuff of myth and legend.

After the first few specimens were found, the leading intellectual lights of the gilded age would meet monthly for lectures in the King's Head Public House in East London. Honorary members and lecturers included explorer Sir Richard Burton , authors Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alister Crowley, and even a young Charles Darwin. Many other noted naturalists, mystics, spiritualists, and explorers of the time, often frequented these lectures.

As the industrialization of modern society advanced, some insects were found to have a decidedly technological flair. It was uncovered that many were man-made imitations made for wealthy patrons by watchmakers and jewelers. However, in a few rare examples these techno insects actually existed in unusual and rarified habitats.

Much of the debate surrounding these specimens were regarding the origin and purpose of such creatures. Several schools of thought were advanced. Some held that this was spontaneous divine creation. Others felt they were from the future, technology merged with insect biology, that somehow was scattered back through time. Mr. Darwin advanced the theory that these were examples of adaption to environmental forces. The more mystic minded thought they were reflections of the collective unconscious, spontaneously springing forth as man marched forward into the age of invention.

The Society was disbanded in 1925 after the “Cottingley fairy” scandal brought the entire field of Crypto-Entomology into disrepute. Many of the specimens presented here are now thought to be extinct, these prints being the last remaining evidence of their existence.

          The Pseudoscientists Episode 111: I am Emotionally Turbulent, Sir        

Podcast Feature Image 2 scale

Jack, Rachael and Liz discuss why 432Hz isn't a better reference pitch for your music, how an anti-epilepsy drug might let adults learn perfect pitch, and whether or not we should bring extinct animals back from the dead, while Jargonauts wades into the weird world of "magnetic fields".
pic courtesy MamaMandolin

An alarming sign has popped up at the entrance of my local gym. At first read, I broke into cold sweat. People - from boxers, rowers to weight lifters - are refused entry if they don't carry a sweat towel. Heh. So it is no longer appropriate to leave sweat in a place where you go to, well, raise a sweat. I would've shared my piece of mind with the burly receptionist if I hadn't been mopping my sweaty face with a kerchief for the fear of being marched out of the gym. Be gone, you sweaty man!
This isn't to say I am a gym junkie. I am not. This was my first visit in the last 3 weeks. I usually visit the gym to do a few laps in the swimming pool or if it's not very humid, maybe a few kms on the treadmill. I usually prefer to hit the pool. You can't dog paddle on the running machine, you see :)

Coming back to the towel issue, I feel slighted on behalf of my fellow blokes. We are fast becoming extinct, allowing the actions of over-zealous sanitary types to erode our natural environment. If we don't act soon, real men will be wiped off the planet by 2030, replaced by gormless, porcelain-like Robin Pattinson-types. Is that the kind of a 'man' the world wants? Some chicks may scream Yessss. But you see, less is not always more. I agree, sweat can be disgusting. No one would wants to see Miranda Kerr walking down the catwalk with a wet underarm patch. No one wants to have their bowl of soup dripped on or have their sandwich sogged up by a sweaty waiter. No one wants to be leaked on by a overheated commuter. On a hot humid day, our Kashkam can pose lots of kashtam for us.

But people and perspiration can live together. In harmony. In some case, it's a privilege. Try telling a ball kid that they are not to hold Rafeal Nadal's towel during a particularly tight 5-setter. I am sure they don't wanna be rushed off to be disinfected in a chemical bath. They wouldn't want to be washed for a week! I've always dreamed of being an Australian Open ball boy.

Take cinema. Sweat is an icon. Who else would pan slowly and purposefully on a worried actor's furrowed brow in a tense scene. Ask Ethan Hunt - sweat contributed to the suspense in that scene in Mission Impossible-1 where he dangled from the ceiling. Rocky, John McLain, why even our own Padayappa owes part of his good fortune to sweat. Thamizh makkal have paid him oru poun thanga kaasu for every thuli of his vervai. So why ban it from gyms? A wise man once said, If you cant handle the heat, you should get out of the kitchen. That may explain why there are many women-only gyms. Hm. Fair enough.

But now, the situation is dire. A species is at risk. Sweaty blokes belong to the gym. It's their jungle. If you don't like it, head to the swimming pool. One request: Make sure you take a leak before you take the plunge. Thank you :)

          Is Trump really like Andrew Jackson?        
Andrew Jackson is getting a lot of attention lately, none of it favorable.  Meanwhile, President Trump, while rather vague on certain details of American history, has expressed admiration for him.  And many commentators have argued that they are, in fact, similar in important ways.  All this is hard for me to assimilate, because when I was growing up, Andrew Jackson was something of a liberal hero, if not quite of the stature of Jefferson or Lincoln or FDR.  He believed in more direct democracy, he hated financial privilege, he was supported by a coalition of workers and farmers, and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. had specifically painted him as a kind of prototype for FDR.  Now, of course, we are paying more attention to Jackson's status as a slave owner, and his involvement in the removal of Indian tribes to the west of the Missisippi.  I decided to spend a few minutes to try to rediscover who Jackson actually was--with particular reference to the question of whether he in fact had anythng in common with Donald Trump.

Neither time nor space permits an exhaustive examination of this question, but it didn't take long to find some interesting excerpts in his lengthy, careful annual messages to Congress.  This one comes from his first, in December 1829--and calls for direct popular election of the President! Here are Jackson's words.

"To the people belongs the right of electing their Chief Magistrate; it was never designed that their choice should in any case be defeated, either by the intervention of electoral colleges or by the agency confided, under certain contingencies, to the House of Representatives. Experience proves that in proportion as agents to execute the will of the people are multiplied there is danger of their wishes being frustrated. Some may be unfaithful; all are liable to err. So far, therefore, as the people can with convenience speak, it is safer for them to express their own will.

"The number of aspirants to the Presidency and the diversity of the interests which may influence their claims leave little reason to expect a choice in the first instance, and in that event the election must devolve on the House of Representatives, where it is obvious the will of the people may not be always ascertained, or, if ascertained, may not be regarded. From the mode of voting by States the choice is to be made by 24 votes, and it may often occur that one of these will be controlled by an individual Representative. Honors and offices are at the disposal of the successful candidate. Repeated ballotings may make it apparent that a single individual holds the cast in his hand. May he not be tempted to name his reward? , , ,

" I would therefore recommend such an amendment of the Constitution as may remove all intermediate agency in the election of the President and Vice-President. The mode may be so regulated as to preserve to each State its present relative weight in the election, and a failure in the first attempt may be provided for by confining the second to a choice between the two highest candidates. In connection with such an amendment it would seem advisable to limit the service of the Chief Magistrate to a single term of either 4 or 6 years. If, however, it should not be adopted, it is worthy of consideration whether a provision disqualifying for office the Representatives in Congress on whom such an election may have devolved would not be proper."

The abolition of the electoral college has become a favorite liberal demand, all the more so because Jackson's proposal, had it been embodied in the Constitution, would have kept both George W. Bush and Donald Trump out of the White House.  I don't have time to find out exactly how and why Jackson's proposal failed of adoption, but it appears to mark him as a genuine champion of the people's rule, albeit, of course, within the framework of his time, in which women were not allowed to vote and slavery still existed in 15 states.  There is, however, another aspect to this proposal, which casts it in a different light.

Jackson was in effect complaining that he was only in his first year in the White House instead of his fifth.  The party system had broken down in 1824 and he had run for President against three other candidates from the Democratic Party: William Crawford, John Quincy Adams, and Henry Clay.  Jackson had won the popular vote handily, but he had not won a majority in the electoral college and the election had gone to the House of Representatives.  There he had been bested by Adams, to whom Clay had thrown his support.  Then Adams made the great political blunder of his career by naming Clay Secretary of States, and cries of "corrupt bargain!" rang through the land.  Rather than tweeting that he had been the real winner, Jackson was more discreetly referring to these events in his address.  He may have been a sincere Democrat--but he could also hold a grudge.  Many years later, in retirement, he reportedly said that he had only two regrets--that he had never been able to shoot Henry Clay, or to hang John C. Calhoun.

A year later, in December 1829, Jackson commented on the quick, nearly bloodless revolution that had replaced the conservative Bourbon monarchy in France with the more liberal and constitutional rule of Louis Philippe.  He put this development in the context of world history, in which the United States was now playing a key role,

"The important modifications of their Government, effected with so much courage and wisdom by the people of France, afford a happy presage of their future course, and have naturally elicited from the kindred feelings of this nation that spontaneous and universal burst of applause in which you have participated. In congratulating you, my fellow citizens, upon an event so auspicious to the dearest interests of man- kind I do no more than respond to the voice of my country, without transcending in the slightest degree that salutary maxim of the illustrious Washington which enjoins an abstinence from all interference with the internal affairs of other nations. From a people exercising in the most unlimited degree the right of self-government, and enjoying, as derived from this proud characteristic, under the favor of Heaven, much of the happiness with which they are blessed; a people who can point in triumph to their free institutions and challenge comparison with the fruits they bear, as well as with the moderation, intelligence, and energy with which they are administered -- from such a people the deepest sympathy was to be expected in a struggle for the sacred principles of liberty, conducted in a spirit every way worthy of the cause, and crowned by a heroic moderation which has disarmed revolution of its terrors. Not withstanding the strong assurances which the man whom we so sincerely love and justly admire [I do not know to whom this referred] has given to the world of the high character of the present King of the French, and which if sustained to the end will secure to him the proud appellation of Patriot King, it is not in his success, but in that of the great principle which has borne him to the throne -- the paramount authority of the public will -- that the American people rejoice."

On the eve of his death only four years earlier, Jefferson had reiterated the hope that liberty, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, would come to the whole world.  Jackson's remarks, praising the French step down this path, were in this tradition.  Two years later Britain also took a small step towards popular rule, when the Reform Act of 1832 became law.  Today our President is also praising a worldwide political trend--but this time the trend is towards authoritarianism, not towards democracy.  The President's long-standing admiration for Vladimir Putin is well known, but in recent weeks he has congratulated the Turkish President Erdogan on a vote that gave him even more power, invited the murderous President Duterte of the Philippines to Washington, and offered to meet with Kim Jong Un.  His Administration shows signs of becoming the first American administration specifically to endorse a trend towards authoritarianism--the opposite of what Jackson and other 19th century Presidents did

In the same message Jackson mentioned that the government had had to put down a rebellion, or independence movement, among the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes in Alabama and Mississippi, and endorsed their removal to Indian territory in what is now Oklahoma.  But he made no attempt to conceal the hardship involved in these measures, while trying to put them in historical context.

"Humanity has often wept over the fate of the aborigines of this country, and Philanthropy has been long busily employed in devising means to avert it, but its progress has never for a moment been arrested, and one by one have many powerful tribes disappeared from the earth. To follow to the tomb the last of his race and to tread on the graves of extinct nations excite melancholy reflections. But true philanthropy reconciles the mind to these vicissitudes as it does to the extinction of one generation to make room for another. In the monuments and fortifications of an unknown people, spread over the extensive regions of the West, we behold the memorials of a once powerful race, which was exterminated or has disappeared to make room for the existing savage tribes. [He appears to be referring here to the Mound Builders.] Nor is there any thing in this which, upon a comprehensive view of the general interests of the human race, is to be regretted. Philanthropy could not wish to see this continent restored to the condition in which it was found by our forefathers. What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms, embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion?

"The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the westward, and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them to a land where their existence may be prolonged and perhaps made perpetual.
Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are now doing? To better their condition in an unknown land our forefathers left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children by thousands yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distant regions. Does Humanity weep at these painful separations from every thing, animate and inanimate, with which the young heart has become entwined? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy that our country affords scope where our young population may range unconstrained in body or in mind, developing the power and faculties of man in their highest perfection."

Today, our universities have for decades been preoccupied with the faults of western civilization and the injuries that has inflicted upon other regions of the world, with the implication that history's course should certainly be held in place, if not reversed.  And a great many Americans have come to regard their nation's founding and growth as a crime.  I would suggest that it was almost impossible for an American of Jackson's age (born in 1767) to hold that view. They had experienced the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Louisiana Purchase, and the formation of many new states.  They saw all this as a great human experiment in which they were the leading actors. And when Jackson pointed out that Indian civilizations had warred against one another even to the point of extinction before the arrival of the Europeans, he was only speaking the truth. I shall let my readers make their own judgments about Jackson's words and actions, and how they fit into the whole history of the United States.  But I do think today's US citizens might ask themselves if they truly repudiate what our ancestors did in creating the United States as it now is--keeping in mind that so many of us, white, black, brown and yellow, would never have existed had they not done so, since our ancestors would have been so unlikely to have met elsewhere.

I turn now to Jackson's most famous state paper, his veto of the renewal of the charter of the Bank of the United States in July 1832.  The Bank enjoyed special privileges under the law that created it which turned it into the equivalent of a European central bank, and Jackson complained that it had used those privileges to accumulate enormous power over the banking system, and enormous wealth at the expense of ordinary Americans.  He continued:

"It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society--the farmers, mechanics, and laborers--who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles."

It was this message, more than anything else, that established Jackson as the heir to the tradition of both political and economic democracy that was begun by Jefferson and elaborated upon by Wilson,  Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson in the twentieth century.  Today that tradition survives in Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren--but they represent only one wing of the Democratic Party.  Donald Trump, needless to say, is completely outside that tradition and he and the Republicans in Congress want to destroy it.

It will not have escaped the reader's attention, meanwhile, that Andrew Jackson possessed a command of the English language of which Donald Trump never dreamed, and that he took his duties as President of the world's leading republic with a seriousness of which Trump would never be capable.  It has become fashionable to judge historical figures according to simple, binary moral standards, in which acts that even recognize, much less further, racism or sexism automatically mark men as evil.  I have attempted to suggest that Andrew Jackson is one of many figures from our history to whom these rules do less than justice.  And I have attempted to show clearly that any similarities between Trump and Andrew Jackson are far outweighed by enormous differences of political outlook and goals.

          100 Days        
Friday will mark the 100th day of the presidency of Donald Trump, and commentators up to and including the President himself are busily marking that milestone.  The idea that a President should accomplish great things during his first 100 days in office goes back, of course, to Franklin Roosevelt, who was sworn in on March 4, 1933, and whose first hundred days therefore extended into the month of June.  To review exactly what FDR did during that extraordinary spring, I turned to one of my favorite childhood books, The American Past, by Roger Butterfield, a beautifully illustrated survey of the nation's history from the Declaration of Independence through Hiroshima--that is, from the first great crisis of our national life through the third one.  Rather than waste time paraphrasing, I shall simply quote.

"On March 9 Congress met in special session and passed Roosevelt's Emergency Banking Act [declaring a bank holiday to stop a financial collapse] in four hours.  On March 10 he sent up an economy bill to cut federal salaries and veterans' benefits; Congress passed it March 11.  On March 13 Roosevelt asked for legal beer [preliminary to repealing the 18th Amendment], and Congress quickly complied.

"On March 16 Roosevelt proposed the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), to end farm surpluses [and a catastrophic fall in farm prices] by paying farmers to produce less.  On March 21 he offered his relief program, including the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), to give $500 million to the states for direct relief; the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), to put 250,000 jobless young men to work in the forests at $1 day; and the Public Works Administration (PWA), to lend and spend $3,300 million [sic-$3 billion] for building projects. . . .

"On March 29 he recommended a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to protect investors against dishonest stock fluctuations.  On April 10 he proposed the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  On April 13 he called for the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) to slow down mortgage foreclosures.  On April 20 he took the United States off the gold standard [effectively devaluing the dollar, as the French franc and British pound had already been devalued.]  On May 17 he asked Congress for the biggest New Deal agency of all--the National Recovery Administration (NRA)--to put industry under self-imposed 'codes of fair competition' [and recognize the right of labor to organize for the first time.\ In June he accepted a Congressional plan for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to insure all bank deposits up to $5,000 [the Glass-Steagall Act.] On June 16, exactly 100 days after Congress convened, all of these measures (and many more) had been enacted."


The GI generation ranged in age from 8 to 29 during this frenzy of activity, much of which was designed either to give them immediate help in the form of a job or public assistance (the PWA, the CCC, and the FERA), or to protect them against the financial catastrophes that had struck their parents (the FDIC, the AAA, and the SEC.)  This was only the beginning of the most extraordinary period in the history of American government, which extended all the way through the Second World War.  By the time that war was over the GIs ranged in age from 21 to 41, and it is no accident, obviously, that for the rest of their lives they respected what the federal government could do and looked to it for security and, when necessary, assistance.  Today, the GIs range in age from 92 on up, and their influence, sadly, is at an end.

This unbelievable flurry of activity had short- and long-term roots. In the short run, the economic catastrophe of the Great Depression had left 25% of the population unemployed and was now collapsing the entire banking system.  As a result, Roosevelt had won the 1932 election by a landslide and disposed of majorities of  313 to 117 in the House and 60-36 in the Senate.  Moreover, more than a few of the Republican members belonged to that now-extinct species, Republicanus Liberalis, and voted for much of the New Deal legislation.  But one reason so much far-reaching legislation could pass so quickly was that the ideas behind it had been percolating among progressives for decades.  Roosevelt's own Missionary Generation (born 1863-1883) deeply believed in the idea that reason and science could moderate economic injustice, help to plan the economy, and secure a better world.  This was their chance and they took it.  Another reason, as I discovered writing No End Save Victory, was that the Missionary generation had been educated (and educated their juniors) in the economical use of the English language, and these laws were, by contemporary standards, extraordinarily short, simple, and clear.

Turning to the present, I suspect that many other readers will not have been able to read that list of legislation without noticing how much of it has become a dead letter.  The most notable casualty of our time was the Glass-Steagall Act, which unleashed financial institutions and allowed them to create a new financial catastrophe in 2008.  It has not been restored.  No effective mortgage relief was passed for those who lost their homes in that crisis.  Labor's right to organize has been under attack for decades and the percentage of unionized workers has been cut more than in half.  The family farmers whom the AAA was passed to help have become a politically insignificant fragment of the population.  We no longer seem to want more of the public power that the TVA provided.  We have nothing like the PWA, and eight years ago, at the height of the new economic crisis, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey blocked  a third rail tunnel under the Hudson River--a decision that is now having catastrophic consequences for New York commuters.  Nor do we have any national service program comparable to the CCC--instead we force young people to mortgage their futures by taking out student loans.   (My GI parents, by the way, received superb educations at the University of Wisconsin  during the 1930s for about $1000 a year in today's dollars.)

These changes are not accidental.  The Republican Party has been eagerly unwinding the New Deal since the Reagan era, and the Democratic Party has done very little to stand in the way.  The question before Donald Trump, in fact, is how quickly and exactly how he can finish the job and return us to the free-market economy and concentration of wealth that the nation experienced in the late 19th century.  (Just this morning, a professor at Claremont McKenna University praised the President for trying to take the Republican Party down this path on the op-ed page of the New York Times.)   What has held him back, it seems to me, are two things.  The first is a debate within the Republican Party about how far to go in that direction, which is in turn related to a debate on fiscal responsibility.  A significant number of House Republicans really do not want to increase the federal deficit, which has been a check on plans for new tax cuts.  But yesterday, the Administration marked its first hundred days by unveiling sweeping new tax cuts will balloon the deficit again (as under Nixon, Reagan, and Bush II), claiming that economic growth will provide the lost revenue (as it never does.)  Several prominent Re[publicans immediately fell into line, and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform--one of the architechts of our new gilded age--went into ecstasy.

The second obstacle is a different debate about how much crueler it is possible to be to the lower half of the population, much of which voted for Trump.  Because the Administration was unwilling to deprive as many Americans of health care as the Freedom Caucus wanted, they could not repeal the ACA at all.  But the momentum for repeal is far from halted, and that caucus has now produced a version of repeal that they can accept.  This will in any case be less important to our future than the tax plan.

We live in a destructive rather than a creative period in the history of American government.  Among my own Boom generation who grew up in the world the New Deal created, right wingers have eagerly dismantled it while left wingers, with very rare exceptions, haven't cared.  We have lost the belief in a national mission to plan and create a fair and robust economy.  We have not been able to reach a consensus on immigration, which had already been achieved by essentially blocking itt 1924.  Income inequality has reached the levels of the1920s and our political campaigns are now so expensive that it is easier for the wealthy to control our politicians. The question before us is not whether we can reverse course, but whether the situation can stabilize before even greater inequality and another economic crash make things much worse.  The damage has been done, our legacy has been squandered.  As I argued back in July 2010, Barack Obama lost the last chance to reverse course in the first year of his Administration.  (As if to ram the point home, the press is now reporting that ex-President Obama is about to accept a $400,000 fee for an address on Wall Street.)  A conservative majority now controls the Supreme Court, and is likely to get bigger during the next four years.

Donald Trump still faces the nation with a crisis because of his manifest incapacity for the biggest job on earth.  The interview he did last week with the Associated Press has gotten remarkably little attention, perhaps because no one wants to face the implications of his incoherent ramblings and unprecedented grandiosity.  He and his team are also threatening us with major wars.  But there have been no 100 days comparable to those of the New Deal because he is not reversing course on economic issues, but rather continuing down the path the country has been on for most of the last 40 years.  Our politics aredominated by corporate power, while the lower economic half of the population has no confidence in the leadership class and has been divided on racial lines.  Yet history suggests that it may still last, in broad lines at least, for many years to come.
          Wildlife Disease Journal Digest        
Browse complete Digest publication library here.

J Wildl Dis. 2014 May 7. [Epub ahead of print]
Stephen C.

White-nose syndrome fungus: a generalist pathogen of hibernating bats
PLoS One. 2014 May 12;9(5):e97224. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097224. eCollection 2014.
Zukal J et al.

Surveillance for emerging biodiversity diseases of wildlife
PLoS Pathog. 2014 May 29;10(5):e1004015. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004015. eCollection 2014.
Grogan LF et al.

Ticks of the Hyalomma marginatum complex transported by migratory birds into Central Europe
Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2014 Apr 29. pii: S1877-959X(14)00061-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2014.03.002. [Epub ahead of print]
Capek M et al.

Identification and characterization of Highlands J virus from a Mississippi sandhill crane using unbiased next-generation sequencing
J Virol Methods. 2014 May 29. pii: S0166-0934(14)00210-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2014.05.018. [Epub ahead of print]
Ip HS et al.

A 5-year Chlamydia vaccination programme could reverse disease-related koala population decline: Predictions from a mathematical model using field data

Vaccine. 2014 May 27. pii: S0264-410X(14)00725-7. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.05.049. [Epub ahead of print]
Craig AP et al.

Wetland characteristics influence disease risk for a threatened amphibian
Ecological Applications. 2014; 24:650–662. doi: 10.1890/13-0389.1
Geoffrey W. Heard et al.

Anthropogenic Land Use Change and Infectious Diseases: A Review of the Evidence
Ecohealth. 2014 May 23. [Epub ahead of print]
Gottdenker NL et al.

The effect of seasonal birth pulses on pathogen persistence in wild mammal populations
Proc Biol Sci. 2014 Jul 7;281(1786). pii: 20132962. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2962.
Peel AJ et al.

The potential impact of native Australian trypanosome infections on the health of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)
Parasitology. 2011 Jun;138(7):873-83. doi: 10.1017/S0031182011000369. Epub 2011 Apr 27.
McInnes LM et al.

Prevalence, diversity, and interaction patterns of avian haemosporidians in a four-year study of blackcaps in a migratory divide
Parasitology. 2011 Jun;138(7):824-35. doi: 10.1017/S0031182011000515. Epub 2011 Apr 26.
Santiago-Alarcon D et al.

A novel siadenovirus detected in the kidneys and liver of Gouldian finches (Erythura gouldiae)
Vet Microbiol. 2014 Apr 21. pii: S0378-1135(14)00206-5. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2014.04.006. [Epub ahead of print]
Joseph HM et al.

Assessing host extinction risk following exposure to Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis
Proc Biol Sci. 2014 May 7;281(1785):20132783. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2783. Print 2014.
Louca S et al.

Antimicrobial resistant bacteria in wild mammals and birds: a coincidence or cause for concern?
Ir Vet J. 2014 Apr 25;67(1):8. doi: 10.1186/2046-0481-67-8. eCollection 2014.
Smith S et al.

Career Attitudes of First-Year Veterinary Students Before and After a Required Course on Veterinary Careers
J Vet Med Educ. 2014 May 2:1-10. [Epub ahead of print]
Fish RE and Griffith EH.
          Start the Harmony        
(Credit:  Unknown.  Image found on Facebook.)

Thanks to Blackfish, 2013 saw the rise in public awareness on the issue of cetacean captivity.  This article gives a pretty good summary of this past year's milestones:  Best Achievements in Cetacean Advocacy for 2013.

James McWilliams recently wrote an article for Forbes about how Blackfish seems to have rattled Sea World and other marine parks and gotten people to reconsider buying tickets or supporting such parks.  Forbes asked him to modify his article and he refused, standing by what he wrote.  He ended up quitting rather than give in to their pressure tactics.  Forbes removed the article from their website but James McWilliams re posted it on his site here:   James McWilliams

Kudos and respect to this guy for having the courage of his principles.

Good video here on a guy who took his niece to Sea World and tried to see it from a child's perspective, but just couldn't get past what a prison it seemed for these animals:  Fellow Prisoners

Beautiful, magical, stunning video of underwater footage of humpbacks:  Leviathan

We've come a long way, individually and collectively, in our efforts to bring more awareness to our friends in the sea.  Unfortunately, the fight is far from over.  With only about 3% of the whale population left from previous numbers, the sense of urgency couldn't be stronger.

To everyone who continues to speak up, participate, volunteer, write, dance, or sing, my heartfelt thanks for your compassion, time, love, and energy devoted to this issue.  Even if you're simply an armchair activist raising hell from your home office, you matter and you make a difference!

As JFK has said, "Every person can make a difference and every one should try."

Send out daily mojo and good energy to the dedicated people fighting in Taiji and on Sea Shepherd's ships in the Southern Ocean.

Send out frequent vibes of love and peace to our whale and dolphin brothers and sisters and let them know we are not only never going to give up being their voices, but we ask for their forgiveness as well for the cruelty far too many humans display towards them.

Despite too many still dying, I try to remember this wonderful Native American quote:

 (Credit:  Google Images)

I remain hopeful we'll halt all of these atrocities and end the slavery of captivity before we reach the point of no return (extinction.)

          Vermont bats begin white nose recovery and other wildlife health related news stories        

Crisis biology: Can bacteria save bats and frogs from deadly diseases?

As populations plummet, biologists race for a solution.

In 2007, Valerie McKenzie volunteered for a large study of human body bacteria. It was the dawn of the golden age of the microbe. Researchers were just beginning to understand how bacteria and other microbes in human intestines influence everything from obesity to allergies and infections. McKenzie, a University of Colorado-Boulder biologist, was mildly curious about her "microbiome." But she was more interested in the bacteria living on the skin of frogs and toads.

Amphibian populations worldwide are plummeting, and entire species are going extinct. The West's struggling species include boreal toads and mountain yellow-legged frogs. Invasive species and habitat degradation play a major role, but amphibians are dying even in places with good habitat. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, an aggressive fungus commonly known as chytrid, is often to blame.

McKenzie, who was studying the role of farmland conversion and suburbanization in the decline of leopard frogs in Colorado, suspected chytrid was also a factor. When she read a paper about a strain of bacteria found on red-backed salamanders that inhibited chytrid's growth, she began to wonder: What microbes lived on the skin of her frogs and toads? And could any of them fight chytrid?

High Country News
26 Feb 2014
Emily Guerin


Other Frog Health News 
>>> Does your pond host killer frog disease? Scientist at uni's Penryn campus wants to know [Cornwall, United Kingdom]

Infected Tasmanian devils reveal how cancer cells evolve in response to humans

Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) has ravaged the world's largest carnivorous marsupial since it emerged in 1996, resulting in a population decline of over 90%. Conservation work to defeat the disease has including removing infected individuals from the population and new research explains how this gives us a unique opportunity to understand how human selection alters the evolution of cancerous cells.

DFTD is an asexually reproducing clonal cell line, which during the last 16 years has been exposed to negative effects as infected devils, approximately 33% of the population, have been removed from one site, the Forestier Peninsula, in Tasmania between 2006 and 2010.

Science Daily
18 Feb 2014


Cited Journal Article
Beata Ujvari, Anne-Maree Pearse, Kate Swift, Pamela Hodson, Bobby Hua, Stephen Pyecroft, Robyn Taylor, Rodrigo Hamede, Menna Jones, Katherine Belov, Thomas Madsen. Anthropogenic selection enhances cancer evolution in Tasmanian devil tumours. Evolutionary Applications, 2014; 7 (2): 260 DOI: 10.1111/eva.12117

Other Wildlife Health Related News
White-Nose Syndrome
One Health News Corner
Huh?! That's Interesting!

          The Case for Emotional Whaling        

This is one of the other things I wanted to write about today.  Japan states that people need to take "the emotion out of whaling." 

Does anyone else see the blatant hypocrisy of everything the Japan government is stating in this article? Maybe it's just me, but here I go stepping back on my personal opinionated soapbox: 

(1)  "Mr Nakano said only through accepting that Japan is conducting scientific research on whales in the Southern Ocean can the debate move forward."

Scientific research?  Please explain to me why you need to cull thousands of whales annually just to do research?  For what?  Are your scientists so inept that after years of killing thousands upon thousands you still don't know what you're researching?  Where are the peer to peer review articles?  What epiphanies have blown your mind thus far that would also blow the rest of humanity's mind that we are supposedly in the dark about?  Please educate us poor ignorant souls. 

(2)  "But Mr Nakano said Japanese people were not emotional about the debate and most were not even aware of the details of the issue."

I'm just taking a wild wild WILD guess here.  But is it possible that your citizens are unaware of these issues because there is censorship in your country's media on this matter?  Perhaps I'm blind, but I'm not seeing much transparency on your part here.  It seems that much information is withheld from the population and the only way they seem to find out anything is via outside media and organizations.  Examples:  The movie The Cove.  Many were unaware of what goes on in Taiji until this movie.  Organizations such as Sea Shepherd and Save Japan Dolphins have certainly worked their asses off to bring world wide attention to these matters.  They deserve credit for this.  If you want to tell your side of the story, then do so and back it up with full transparency.

(3)  'We have to try to understand what are the differences and what is the problem,'' he said.

''And we have to try to find a way based on a calm environment and based on the scientific."

You guys KNOW what the differences are and what the problems are.  Many people are anti whaling and anti cetacean captivity because of several reasons.  Among them are that cetaceans are becoming endangered and in some species are now extinct due to you hunting them to this point.  Another is that you guys blame the whales and dolphins for the fish depletion in the seas without taking any responsibility for the fact that you guys are the problem with the overfishing.  Blaming the cetaceans is a cop out and speaks glaringly of your own character, ego, and greed.

Calm environment based on the scientific?  Ok.  Since you love the scientific so much, why don't your scientists peruse all the scientific evidence that has been out there for quite some time now and is becoming so commonly well known now that more and more people are currently on board to protect the whales and dolphins and to give them rights.  There is strong irrefutable scientific evidence that cetaceans are of a higher intelligence, with strong social and cultural associations, and are self aware.  Various scientists from various countries back up these claims and research studies.  Are the Japanese scientists so special as to believe that their research is the correct one and no one else's studies are worthy of your attention and acknowledgement?

(4) "Mr Nakano insisted that vigorous anti-whaling campaigner Sea Shepherd must be treated as separate from the wider whaling debate.    He said the environment group's tactics are violent and unacceptable.  Diplomacy will not work with the group."

Violent and unacceptable?  So killing whales and dolphins violently and inhumanely or capturing them in violent ways to sell off to the highest aquarium bidder is acceptable?  How is this not hypocritical on your part?   You can't say that the SSCS is violent when you guys are violent as well.  Does the Ady Gil boat come to mind?  How about the fact that in last year's Southern Ocean trip and again in this year's trip, there were at least two incidents that I'm aware of where none of your ships offered to help any of the SSCS crew that were endangered out in the waters.  
And lest we forget, allegations have been coming out for years that representatives from Japan that attend the IWC meetings are forking out millions of dollars to blackmail and bribe certain countries and/or people to vote their way.  And we're supposed to be calm, unemotional, and diplomatic with you?

Diplomacy goes both ways bucko. 

You're not in this for your pride or culture.  You're in it for the money.  You seem to not care that the increasingly higher levels of mercury found in cetacean meat that you are feeding to your citizens is either making many people violently ill or killing them.  Where's your scientific research on that?  Why does it take outside scientists to present this evidence to you as proof and you still ignore it?

You can't pick and choose certain scientific evidence to suit your agenda to kill off more whales and dolphins.  To do so shouldn't surprise you in knowing your government has earned the well deserved reputation as cetacean killers and as a country that appears to only care about themselves without any regard to the rest of the world that shares this planet and her oceans with you.

Fewer and fewer people are buying into your lies.  Either change with the times and accept all the scientific evidence out there supporting the movement that cetaceans deserve rights and deserve to be a protected species, or start proving your own scientific evidence for all the killing and selling to the highest bidders you do.

          The Web of Life        

Given all the discussion of late about cetacean rights and captivity, it brings to mind the hotly debated issue of whether this is really such a black and white matter.  On one hand, some animal rights activists hold the view that you are either completely for animal rights (complete autonomy and anti captive for all species) or you can't truly claim to be for animal rights if you support places like zoos, safaris, and places like Sea World.

Personally, I think a lot of people are somewhere in the middle of this wide spectrum.  Some, like me, hold the belief that there are certain species that simply do not belong in captivity. For example, whales, dolphins, sharks, lions, tigers, bears, elephants, etc.   I'm also not a vegetarian.  While I mostly avoid red meat and am not a big fan of sea food, I do eat turkey, chicken, ham, and enjoy hamburger now and then.  Does this make me a hypocrite?  I don't think so.

I don't personally judge those who are 100% or semi-vegetarian, and I certainly hope they don't judge me.  But we're all human.  We're all passionate about our beliefs and some of us view things in black and white and don't consider that so much of life, what we do, and who we are is constantly venturing into shades of gray or other colors.  Some people are constantly evolving on these particular beliefs and some remain steadfast throughout their lives.

For me, what matters is akin to one of the greatest things about some Native American tribes that I have always respected.  And that is to treat all living beings with respect, humanely, and sustainably.  When they would, for example, kill buffalo or bears. they first thanked their spirits and the animal spirits for this gift.  Then they would use 100% of the animal for their needs.  Every piece of meat was used.  Bones were used for tools, jewelry, etc.  The fur was used for clothing, blankets, housing, etc.  This, to me, is the greatest example of humans taking what they need, maximizing the hell out of it, and always always giving thanks for each and every single gift it bestows upon them individually and as a tribe. And when they didn't need anything, they left the animals alone, even communed and/or worked with them, and again always treated them with respect.

In modern times, sustainability seems to be a dirty word when it relates to the wildlife.  Certain countries have zero qualms about killing, killing, and killing some more without regard for the increasing possibility that these very species are becoming endangered.  Certain people refuse to take responsibility for causing the extinction of so many species.  Certain people have the gall to blame the wildlife for their lack of food (IE: overfishing.)  And certain people see wildlife as cash cows to satisfy their own greed.

We've got to get these laws changed.  Education on sustainable practices, finding a balance, and living together in mutual harmony is paramount to just blindly killing thousands of sharks for their fins, slaughtering thousands of dolphins when fewer and fewer demand warrants it, and culling thousands of whales annually all in the name of so-called research.  The hypocrisy is so obvious.  Hardly anyone is buying it any more that it is necessary to engage in so much destruction against these species.

And more than that, we need to get past our egos and sense of superiority that humans are numero uno and to hell with everything else.  Humans alone do not make this world go 'round.  Every plant and every animal has a role in our large and diversified eco-system.  Some are so highly crucial that to lose them would be catastrophic. We need the mentality that everything here is necessary for every one's survival, including the animals. I don't know why it's so hard for certain people to not understand that if we just practice sustainability and balance, Mother Earth's gifts would remain infinite.

What brought the topic of today's post to my mind was coming across this link:  Irwin Family Plays at Dolphin Habitat.    The late Steve Irwin was a big Sea Shepherd supporter.  Frankly, it simply surprised me to read this because I figured this family was against captivity for cetaceans.  Goes to show how much I know.  I never followed Steven's Crocodile Hunters show nor really followed the news on this family much.  So my ignorance here is showing.  And I guess because they own a Zoo, then it really shouldn't shock me that they'd go see dolphins in captivity.   Are they hypocrites?   I don't know enough about the Irwin family to say.  My knee jerk reaction without all the facts is to say yes, they are.  They are profiting from their zoo, they spend money to see dolphins being held captive in the middle of the desert and seem to have no problem with that, and yet at the same time Terri Irwin claims to be a supporter of Sea Shepherd.   I just don't see how this can go both ways at the same time.  Maybe I'm being thick in the head.  I welcome feedback and comments on this.

Steve's father moved on to focus on his own environmental endeavors.  Currently, he's actively involved in saving the dugongs and turtles.  I've been hearing remarkable things about this man and I get the sense he doesn't like the spotlight on him, only on his cause.  Here's his link if you'd like to know more and would like to donate to his organization:  Bob Irwin Wildlife Fund

I had a bunch of other things to say and share today, but I think I've gotten carried away enough for this post :-)

Let's all work on instilling and sharing some of these wise Native American sayings that to me, are even more profound in today's times:

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

~ Cree Prophecy ~

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.

~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~

          Necropsies on beached striped dolphins leave more questions than answers and other wildlife health related news stories        

Partnership fights for ban on hunting with lead ammo

California bill A.B. 711 requires the use of non-lead ammunition in all hunting of mammals, birds, and other wildlife. Audubon California, The Humane Society of the United Sates, and Defenders of Wildlife joined forces to get the bill passed.

“Our three organizations worked together on a 2008 bill that limited use of lead ammunition in about 20% of California,” says Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director of The Humane Society of the United States. “A.B. 711 would extend this requirement to the rest of the state.”

Garrison Frost, director of marketing and communications for Audubon California, says lead poisoning is a leading cause of death among wildlife that feeds on animals killed by lead ammunition. In addition, lead ammunition that seeps into the food chain, watershed, and overall environment poses a broader treat to human health.

PR Week
21 Feb 2014
Tanya Lewis



The black-footed ferret is one of the most endangered mammals in North America, but new research suggests that these charismatic critters can persist if conservationists think big enough.

Decades of human persecution (e.g., poisoning) of the ferret’s favorite prey, prairie dogs, and severe outbreaks of plague and distemper led to its extinction in the wild in 1987.

Since then, thousands of captive-raised ferrets have been released across North America, and at least four wild populations have been successfully reestablished.

However, a new factor threatens to undermine these hard-fought conservation gains: the continued eastward spread of the exotic bacterial disease plague, which is a quick and efficient killer of prairie dogs, and is caused by the same microbe that is implicated in the Black Death pandemics of the Middle Ages.

Using a new multi-species computer modeling approach, researchers have linked models of plague, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets to explore the consequences of ecological interactions in ways not possible using standard methods.
The results of this study, published in Journal of Applied Ecology, suggest that the continued survival of black-footed ferret populations requires landscapes larger than conservationists previously thought, and intensive management actions to reduce plague transmission.

21 Feb 2014


One Health News Corner
Huh?! That's Interesting!

          Madness Reigns        
(Artist credit:  Data2link @ Deviant Art)

As if killing whales and dolphins isn't enough, Japan has plans to begin seal hunting.  Never mind that Japan fishermen have hunted many species of fish to the point of extinction. Many species are already at or near 90% depletion.  Never mind that humans have options on what to eat, the animals do not.

Japan's method of killing seals?  Shoot 'em.   82% of seals who are shot do not die from that first bullet.  Humane?  Hell no!

Japan wails on and on about how they feel many people are racist against them.  I don't give a crap what nationality, ethnicity, color, etc you are. If you're seriously going to be a narcissistic greedy egoistical asshole and think YOU are entitled to deplete all the resources on this planet, then it's pretty damn simple- you SUCK!  What the hell are you going to do once you've hunted down every last animal or mammal?  How will you deal once there's NOTHING left?  I simply can not believe the idiocy, the lack of foresight, and the appalling lack of compassion and empathy people and countries like this have.  Sustainability and peacefully co-existing means squat to these folks. 

Link:  Japan to Start Seal Hunting

Ok now that I've gotten my little tantrum there out of my system ...

Some drama between Surfing Life and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

First, Surfing Life posted an article before last weekend:  Fuzzy Wuzzy Whales  which resulted in hundreds of varying comments.  Captain Paul Watson then wrote a lengthy response to Surfing Life, which is published here:  Sea Shepherd Responds

If you like to participate in discussions like this online, there are comments sections after both articles.   Personally, all I care about is that the SSCS gets results and have played a huge hand in messing with Japan's ability to kill whales.

I am currently reading this book:  The Dolphin in the Mirror    I highly recommend it :-)

Another book I believe I have mentioned previously is Dolphin Way.  I have not yet read it but have heard a lot of rave reviews on it.  Mark Caney also has a group discussion forum on Facebook that is very active about news and issues related to our cetacean friends.

Still on the subject of books, two others I have also mentioned before, have read and highly recommend:

Rekindling the Waters: The Truth About Swimming with Dolphins - Leah Lemieux

The Aquarians: 2012 - A New Era Begins - Eric Rankin

I'm sure by now you've heard of the famous PETA lawsuit against Sea World that has been dismissed by the Judge hearing the case.  I'm not surprised.  I don't think the world is ready (yet) to accept certain species as being equal to humans.   Personally, I think this lawsuit didn't have a chance in hell.  But the good thing is that it certainly got people talking and raised a lot of awareness about the plight of the orcas and dolphins being held captive in marine parks.

I believe changes need to be made in the laws.  And those of us that are against cetaceans being held captive still have a lot of work ahead of us in continuing to educate and help make more people aware of this.  Change is slow, but I do see it happening.  Hopefully we won't be too late.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

- Martin Luther King Jr



          What's killing all the starfish on the West Coast? and other wildlife health news stories        

White-nose syndrome confirmed in bats in Arkansas

White-nose syndrome, a fatal disease to several bat species, has been confirmed in Arkansas, the state Game and Fish Commission said Wednesday. The disease was documented in two northern long-eared bats found at a cave on a natural area managed by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission in Marion County, according to a news release.

... Five bats were found to have the disease during a survey of the Marion County cave on Jan. 11. The fungus was confirmed by tests on two of the bats by the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center, according to an AGFC news release. The bats had damage to wing, ear and tail membranes consistent with white-nose syndrome.

Arkansas News Bureau
29 Jan 2014
Arkansas, USA


More White-Nose Syndrome News
>>> Bat fungus continues to concern biologists
>>> Winter cave surveys track bat numbers, health [Kentucky, USA]
>>> White Nose Syndrome May Be Unstoppable: Deadly Bat Disease Can Thrive in Caves Without Bats

What's killing all the starfish on the West Coast?

Starfish have been mysteriously dying by the millions in recent months along the West Coast, worrying biologists who say the sea creatures are key to the marine ecosystem.

Scientists first started noticing the mass deaths in June 2013. Different types of starfish, also known as sea stars, were affected, from wild ones along the coast to those in captivity, according to Jonathan Sleeman, director of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center.

... The most commonly observed symptoms are white lesions on the arms of the sea star. The lesions spread rapidly, resulting in the loss of the arm. Within days, the infection consumes the creature's entire body, and it dies.

Entire populations have been wiped out in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington state, in the Salish Sea off Canada's British Columbia as well as along the coast of California. The mortality rate is estimated at 95 percent.

... “What we currently think is likely happening is that there is a pathogen, like a parasite or a virus or a bacteria, that is infecting the sea stars and that compromises in some way their immune system,” Pete Raimondi, chair of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told AFP.

San Jose Mercury News
2014 Feb 02
Jean-Louis Santini
Washington, and California, USA, and British Columbia, Cananda 


Assorted South West parasites favour cleaner habitat

BIOLOGISTS investigating parasites on freshwater fish in the South West believe they have discovered at least 42 native parasite species that were previously undescribed...Murdoch University Associate Professor Alan Lymbery, who presented the research at the WA Freshwater Fish Symposium, says two known introduced parasite species were found.

In addition to the introduced species, 42 morphologically different native parasites appeared to be different species.... Dr Lymbery says 30–40 per cent of the parasites were only found in a single species of fish, which had serious implications for the parasite’s conservation risk if the fish was endangered.

“[Parasites] are probably at more risk than the fish host species because although some of the parasites we found have a direct life cycle, which means that the fish is their only host, a large number of them also had an indirect life cycle, which means they rely on other hosts as well,” he says.

... Dr Lymbery says the finding most fish biologists found interesting was that parasitism generally increased with improving water quality. He says parasites, particularly those with complex life cycles, are quite sensitive indicators of environmental quality....“Contrary to what most people think, which is that the worse the conditions are, the more disease or parasitism you have, you actually don’t find that,” Dr Lymbery says.

“What we found was that the better the quality of the habitat, the more fish were parasitised and the greater number of species of parasites you found.”

ScienceNetwork Western Australia
2014 Jan 13
M Wheeler


Some Good News Amid Bad News, for Hawai`i’s Endangered Honeycreepers

Warming temperatures due to climate change are exposing endangered Hawaiian forest birds to greater risk of avian malaria. But new research led by the U.S. Geological Survey holds out some hope that the birds may be able to adapt.

For decades, scientists have documented declines and extinctions among species of Hawaiian honeycreepers due to the spread of avian malaria and other diseases. At one time, the Hawaiian Islands had no mosquitoes—and no mosquito-borne diseases. But, by the late 1800s, mosquitoes were firmly established in the islands. Another invasive species—feral pigs—helped the mosquito population boom by creating larval habitat as they rooted through forests. The honeycreepers had no natural defense against a disease they had never before experienced.

"Honeycreepers are exquisitely sensitive to avian malaria," said Dr. Carter Atkinson, a USGS microbiologist based at the USGS Pacific Islands Ecosystems Research Center in Hawai’i. Atkinson is the lead author of two new research papers examining how climate change is increasing the honeycreepers’ risk of infection.

USGS Newsroom
31 Jan 2014


Cited Journal Article
Carter T. Atkinson et al. (2014). Changing Climate and the Altitudinal Range of Avian Malaria in the Hawaiian Islands - an Ongoing Conservation Crisis on the Island of Kaua'i. Global Change Biology; [Epub ahead of print]. doi:10.1111/gcb.12535

Carter T. Atkinson et al. (2014). Experimental Evidence for Evolved Tolerance to Avian Malaria in a Wild Population of Low Elevation Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi (Hemignathus virens). EcoHealth. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1007/s10393-013-0899-2

One Health News Corner
It Ain't All Bad News

          Fukushima Radioactive Fallout in Alaska. Wildlife Health Implications and more wildlife health news stories        

UA researchers trace bat killer's path

White-Nose Syndrome poses threat of extinction; potential impact on agriculture

... The UA research identifies cold-loving, cave-dwelling fungi closely related to WNS, and where and how they spread, and how they survive. These findings help predict the future of North American bats —among them — the common Little Brown Bat, first seen with WSN in Ohio in March 2011.

Led by Hazel Barton, UA associate professor of biology and recognized as having one of the world's preeminent cave microbiology labs, the research points to a group of fungi related to WSN, which appears as a white, powdery substance on the muzzles, ears and wings of infected bats and gives them the appearance they've been dunked in powdered sugar. Since it was first discovered in hibernating bats in New York in winter 2006-07, WNS has spread across 22 states, including Ohio. In Vermont's Aeolus Cave, which once housed 800,000 bats, WSN wiped out the hibernation den's entire population.

In their research paper, "Comparison of the White-Nose Syndrome agent Pseudogymnoascus destructans to cave-dwelling relatives suggests reduced saprotrophic enzyme activity," published Jan. 22, 2014 by the PLOS ONE, Barton and UA post-doctoral fellow Hannah Reynolds compare two closely related fungi species and reveal common threads, including the discovery that the related fungi share the same nutritional needs.

Originally satisfied by cave soil, the fungus' nutritional source has now transferred to bats. Barton and her colleagues are zeroing in on when the fungus transferred from environment to bat and the consequences of the fungus' relentless ability to survive solely in caves, uninhabited by bats.

29 Jan 2014


Cited Journal Article
Reynolds HT, Barton HA (2014) Comparison of the White-Nose Syndrome Agent Pseudogymnoascus destructans to Cave-Dwelling Relatives Suggests Reduced Saprotrophic Enzyme Activity. PLoS ONE 9(1): e86437. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086437

Three new feline viruses raise questions about transmission and disease

Pathogen researchers at Colorado State University have discovered a family of cancer-causing viruses in several U.S. populations of bobcats, mountain lions and domestic cats, raising questions about whether the previously undetected viruses could be transmitted between cat species – and whether they might be the root cause of some cancers found in housecats.

...Wildlife ecologists collected blood samples from the bobcats and mountain lions in the course of separate studies related to the wild cats; they shared samples for the CSU study. Likewise, animal shelters across the United States collected and shared blood samples from domestic cats.

... In analyzing blood collected from wild and domestic cat populations in these regions, researchers identified the novel gamma herpes viruses in three species – and further discovered the bobcat virus in some mountain lions. The route of transmission remains unknown, but could occur when the animals fight in the wild, Troyer said.

Medical Xpress
01 Feb 2014
J Dimas


Fukushima Radioactive Fallout in Alaska. Wildlife Health Implications

Scientists present links between unusual Alaska seal deaths and Fukushima fallout — Skin lesions, hair loss, lethargy — ‘Pulsed release’ when built-up radionuclides were set free as ice melted — “Wildlife health implications” due to radiation exposure discussed

...During summer 2011 it became evident to coastal communities and wildlife management agencies that there was a novel disease outbreak occurring in several species of Arctic ice-associated seals. Gross symptoms associated with the disease included lethargy, no new hair growth, and skin lesions, with the majority of the outbreak reports occurring between the Nome and Barrow region. NOAA and USFWS declared an Alaska Northern Pinnipeds Usual Mortality Event (UME) in late winter of 2011.

The ongoing Alaska 2011 Northern Pinnipeds UME investigation continues to explore a mix of potential etiologies (infectious, endocrine, toxins, nutritious etc.), including radioactivity. Currently, the underlying etiology remains undetermined. We present results on gamma analysis (cesium 134 and 137) of muscle tissue from control and diseased seals, and discuss wildlife health implications from different possible routes of exposure to Fukushima fallout to ice seals.

Global Research News
27 Jan 2014


Other Wildlife Health Related News
One Health News Corner
Huh?! That's Interesting!

          Big Miracle        
(Artist credit:  Christian Lassen)

A couple of movies to share here that I have not yet seen, but am hearing rave reviews.

Dolphin Tale

Leaving aside the whole captivity issue, it's amazing what a coming-together of people can accomplish and the magic of compassion for another species.  I've got this movie on my Netflix list :-)

Big Miracle

This movie comes out next month on Feb 3rd, so check your local theaters.  It truly looks amazing and the synopsis of the plot is:

Based on the inspiring true story that captured the hearts of people across the world, the rescue adventure Big Miracle tells the amazing tale of a small town news reporter (John Krasinski) and a Greenpeace volunteer (Drew Barrymore) who are joined by rival world superpowers to save a family of majestic gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. 

Here's the trailer (for email subscribers that may not see the image, please click on the link that will take you directly to the site.)  Link to trailer:  Big Miracle

In "Dream," a beautiful animation video for the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, four animals facing extinction tell their stories through the words of "I Dreamed a Dream"—a song you'll recognize if you're a Les Misérables fan. 

Cast: Zombie Studio

          The Batons of Christopher Hitchens; The natural underpinnings of social conservatism; Jordan Peterson's work        
Recently I engaged in a debate with a muckety muck in the Church of Sam Harris regarding Jordan Peterson. The man is highly upset at my 'slander' regarding Harris.

Some people fancy themselves as the quintessential sons-of-Christopher-Hitchens. They have their profile photos permanently set as a cartoon of a cigarette smoking Hitch, and they never change that photo to something else, ever.

From my perspective the batons of Hitch have passed to several people, and several of those people are on the current right-side of the political spectrum, much the chagrin of fervent Church of Harris believers.

Partial list of people who've been the recipients of a Hitchian baton: Andrew Breitbart, Douglas Murray, Mark Steyn, Gad Saad, and even Dinesh D'Souza.

List of people who're traitors to the legacy of Hitch: Sam Harris; Church of Sam Harris priests who get upset at 'slander' against Harris; and all atheists who voted for Her.

One person interviewed by Saad is Jordan Peterson. Peterson recently engaged in a discussion with Harris, and Harris could not wrap his brain around what Peterson was saying. Understandable for more reasons than one.

Peterson speaks valuably against social constructivism and Marxism (as does Saad). He also speaks valuably regarding the nuclear bomb level impact of artificial birth control upon the human animal. And even before I heard of Peterson, I wrote the exact same type of thing.

Regarding Peterson's religiospeak, it's important (and mostly required) to interpret the totality of it within an enlightened naturalistic framework.

Dennett's 'dangerous' idea regarding religion being natural cuts several ways. One way it cuts is that fully evolved human moral codes are couched within religious contexts. Another is that every single syllable emitted from the vocal orifice of Jordan Peterson needs to be interpreted within context.

A highly valuable project: more accurately (and without leftist SJW prejudice) describing the inherent, evolved, and high value to enlightened social conservatism, and naturalistically articulate evolutionary psychology.

Peterson approaches such a merging more than Gad Saad, in his own way Petersonian way.

Thus a great thanks to Peterson for opposing Marxism and social constructivism, on campus and off. And thanks to him for revolutionarily speaking the truth regarding one specific concern of social conservatives (widely available artificial birth control).

Valuable and fully natural scientific work.


The Harrisian (Sam Harris and his aficionados) brain has problems grasping many things. For example:

1.) That free will fully exists within the human animal, in a natural, reasonably adequate, and compatiblist sense. Dennett is right. Harris is a myopic hack on this front.

2.) That consciousness is not an ineffable humming glow.

3.) That male circumcision is highly abhorrent.

4.) That there was high utilitarian value to voting for Trump.

5.) That voting for Hillary was a huge betrayal to the legacy of Hitch. The crooked racketeering Team Rape versus a pro-American and thus pro-Enlightenment good-hearted businessman who used His Own Money to block the raping racketeering Clintons.

Also Harris engaged in malpractice regarding his psychological diagnosis of Trump, one which was petty, shallow, moronic, analy retentive, boring, stupid, and obtuse - and fully on par with most Harrisian projects and pronouncements.

So thanks to Peterson, Gad Saad, and others.

Saad is a social liberal. Peterson seems to be a moderate. When more scientists get some balls and brain cells, and finally see value to fully evolved social conservatism, then there'll be progress. But until then, the pro-eugenics pro-death nihilistic hacks aren't scientists but rather they're just worse than worthless nihilists.

At least Saad is willing to entertain conservative ideas without becoming an utter nutter. And Peterson is closer to the truth of the evolved situation, in his own Petersonian way.

What evolutionary process is involved when decidedly childfree denialist abusively permissive SJW leftists just want want want to import admittedly also abusive Muslims to breed on their behalf?

The SJW children of let-it-all-hang-out 60s hippies love forcibly-hijabbed women and abusive Islamic Puritanism and Islamic large families.


Yes Islam warps natural evolved processes in highly wrong headed ways.

A better course would be for children of the Enlightenment to wake up, reject baby killing and artificial birth control, and breed themselves rather than to import rapey barbarian savages to breed on their behalf.

In any case Harrisian logic is rather like a weak cog in a half baked pie, to mix a metaphor. Krausian logic isn't any better by the way.


Excerpts from an exchange with a Church of Harris priest (COHP) on all the above:

"Peterson's ideas are only valuable inasmuch as one is willing to take his epistemologically foolhardy presuppositions for granted."

My response:

Hardly. No more than one must assume the god believer does everything in his life >because< his god is a 100% actual fact, as opposed to a perceived fact - one which exists within the required/knowledge support structure of the meme-gene system in which he exists.

Why do people do the things they do? A combination of biology, biological history, genes and memes, which all inseparably play off each other.

Biology, evolution, life, and ideas which are rooted in various aspects of being alive, and a processing machine which can (by happenstance and not) be used for other purposes also. But even those other purposes tie into the fundamentals of existence.

For example the mathematician and physicist usually want humanity to survive, and they can be driven to use their realms of knowledge for fully biological-imperative type purposes.

How does the world work, and thus by extension how do humans work.

Peterson is concerned about what happens when humans toss the baby of morality with the bath water of religion.

Since religion is a fully natural memetic-encasement of evolved morality, it's reasonable to add 'evolved' as a preface word to the terms 'religion' and 'morality.'

COHP: "Again, his epistemology is predicated on an exceptionally precarious conceptual foundation"


It's a fundamental fallacy and also myopic to assume that expressed-views are only valid if the person expressing them can articulately state a reasonable fully-scoped foundation for those views.

Peterson uses religiospeak which must be taken within a naturalistic context. There's no other context which is reasonable. And a lack of understanding on the part of the naturalistic evaluator can lead to fundamentally flawed conclusions.

Aside from the terms he uses, Peterson has concerns about the state of humanity, concerns which do directly relate to Dennett's dangerous idea regarding religion being natural, Peterson's concerns are highly relevant, telling, and apparently factual.

The baby of evolved human morality tossed with the bath water of evolved and fully natural mysticism.

There's big costs and impacts.

COHP: "His entire philosophy collapses beneath the weight of its own incoherence."


He seems pretty coherent to me. His concerns are highly valid and valuable to make note of.

The memetic bathtub he's in is interesting and nuanced, and must and can only be understood within an enlightened naturalistic context.

COHP: "an epistemology anchored to an ontological fact is conceptually unsustainable."


How does the world work.

How do humans work.

What is human nature.

Why do humans do what they do.

Why are we here.

How can we survive.

The noob atheist, the rebellious leftist and weed smoking libertarian, all assume that without (the concept of) a god everything is permitted. Such people, and their abusively permissive and denialist meme sets, simply do not understand how the world and humans work.

COHP: "It's based on essentially circular logic"

You're stuck in the weeds of philosophical word games and forced paths which fully fail to understand what's going on, with Peterson and with religious believers in general.

Idea sets which are inadequately contextualized need not be 100% self consistent nor 100% 'reasonable' to be 'valid.' 'Valid' meaning having naturalistic causes, and meme sets which can result in reasonable naturalistically-rephrased ideas and natural material useful facts.

As for circularity, humans are evolved animals, and many aspects of human nature circle back to this fact and the general facts of how the human animal works.

COHP: "any truth claim he makes atop that foundation instantly fails."


...only for those who lack a fully contextualized and enlightened materialistic understanding of what's going on.

COHP: "It's important that one's conception of truth can at least sustain itself."


Religions do sustain themselves via and for natural reasons.

COHP: "Peterson's truth eats its own tail in a million different ways."


Not that I've seen. And the truths within religions need to, and can only be, properly understood within natural contexts.

COHP: "If his definition of truth ultimately leads to the extinction of the human race..."


He wants us to survive, and rightly so.

COHP: "...does that mean that it was never true?"


Properly contextualized truth, yes.

COHP: "It makes absolutely no sense."


He makes sense to me.

Marxism: Peterson observed highly negative impacts. He doesn't like what he saw. He doesn't want a repeat.

One of Peterson's points is that rejecting traditional religion can lead to errors in thinking, and to incredibly high levels of abusiveness, denialisms, and moronity, as was and is the case with Marxism. The utter stupidity continues on campus today.

COHP: "The soviet union"


...was an anti-human-nature identitarian leftist utopian totalitarian evil corrosive human spirit destroying dead-end endeavor. Peterson knows this.

COHP: "It was the result of disillusionment in the church..."


...which led to something far worse. And the Soviet Union was a de facto religion, as is Marxism.

Visit most any atheist (or humanist or Unitarian Universalist) group in America.

State to them that you enjoy Duck Dynasty, and that you're a pro-life anti-gay-"marriage" atheist. See how long it takes for them to boot you: faster than a Mormon Bishop. A de facto religion with dogma, doctrines, heresy trials, and excommunication.

COHP: "Most Nazis were devout Christians."


Fascism is a left spectrum endeavor. National Socialism.

There is identitarianism in both Marxism and fascism. Group rights and group blames. Utopianism. De facto eugenics. Racism. Dogmas. Doctrines. Heresy trials.

Yes I see that Communism/Marxism and fascism all have corrosive tribalistic elements and religious ones too. Peterson rightly points out negative impacts.

COHP: "You've COMPLETELY misconstrued Dennett..."


Many hours listening to Dennett.

COHP: "Sam's positions."



Harris is a myopic hack.

...on many fronts.

No Hitch-honoring Hitch-appreciator could or ever would vote for a Clinton.

The micro differentiations between spandrels and other effects are weedy sticky mud, regarding arguing about differences between what's one and what another. False choices based on myopathy. Why? Because here's the situation as previously noted:

Religion is a natural phenomenon which couches evolved traits.

There's synergies between memes and genes.

Not all religions are equal regarding positive and negative impacts.

Harrisian woo (Chamlers and Harris):

Harris didn't learn from:

Gad Saad.
Jordan Peterson.
Me, whom he censored.

------------------------------------------------------------ end of quote of direct exchange

Am I a quintessential 'son of Hitch?' Hitch isn't more important than my family & I don't claim he was correct on all issues. During his tenure I was partially swayed to the pro-Iraq-war side, but now I'm much more skeptical regarding the value of it. Moron Bush and even-worse moron Obama screwed up the place big time.

Time for Trumpian pragmatism now. But Hitch did free many brains from dogma, especially from leftist dogma.
          Extinction or habitat management - the stark choice.        
The extinction of small and large, plant and animal is a daily event now, as climate change increasingly joins the other anthropogenic influences on the species of our planet. Mapping the possibilities and modelling the effects is now finally helping out with the problems, but we still have to conserve, and quickly.
          Big Deal: Save $25 on ALL Ticket Network Orders        
The 4th of July weekend is coming quickly upon us and our friends at Ticket Network are running a special promotion to celebrate our Independence Day! Use promo code USA25OFF to take $25 on all orders over $150.00*. If you can’t save the world from an alien extinction this 4th of July, at least you can save some […]
          Commentaires sur Visas pour la Russie : comment les obtenir ? par Sophie Frinking        
en réalité il ma faut deux visas, car je plannifie de voyager à cheval et de traverser l'allemagne et la pologne avant d'arriver en Russie, ce avec un cheval Kabarde, cheval Russe en voie d'extinction, cheval de cosaque capable de voyager rapidement, porteur et ce sans mors et pieds nus. Je suis au début de ce projet, avec trois objectifs, réaliser un rêve, faire hommage au prix payé par ce pays dans les guerres aujourd'hui honteusement ignoré par l'Europe, et enfin découvrir ce pays et son église (Je suis orthodoxe depuis ma naissance) Pour le moment j'ai trouvé une jument Kabarde sur le sol Français, ayant l'age et la capacité de ce voyage, (en négociation d'achat) j'ai la selle et la quasi totalité du matériel, mais il reste beaucoup à faire. J'ai un diplome ATE et 6 ans d'espérience en randonnée long court à cheval. Vos conseils-aide sont bienvenues Cordialement Sophie

盯著任意一個黑點,你的餘光還能看到幾個其他的黑點?很多人只能看到視野中央正在注視的那個黑點而已。這個錯視現象,叫做「尼紐消失錯視」( Ninio’s extinction illusion,由 Jacques Ninio 發現),應該是赫曼方格( Hermann's grid)的一種變形。


(receptive field),就是一個神經細胞所能「看見」的視野位置與大小,也就是上圖中的紅圈(圖片來源:MichaelBach)。有一類型的視網膜神經節細胞,其接受域呈現出一種「內正外負」的形態。就是當接受域中央有光線時,該細胞就會活躍,當接受域的邊緣區有光線時,該細胞就會被抑制。



1. 原始論文: Ninio and Stevens (2000). Variations on the Hermann grid: an extinction illusion.

2. 謝伯讓(2016)。 《大腦簡史》(趁機打書 XD)。貓頭鷹出版社出版。

3. 謝伯讓(2015)。《都是大腦搞的鬼》。時報出版。

4. 〈「旋轉蛇」的錯覺原理破解〉

5. 〈斜塔錯覺〉

6. 〈「旋轉舞者」視錯覺大破解〉

7. 〈色彩恆常性:你看到什麼顏色的洋裝〉

           Anita finished reading 'Extinction Machine'         
Extinction Machine by Jonathan Maberry Anita finished reading Extinction Machine by Jonathan Maberry

          ØªØ¹Ù„يق على بالفيديو من زاوية مختلفة : احتراق سيارة دفاعية بالقرب من بنك المغرب بفاس بسبب انفجار بميكانيزم المحرك بواسطة NAOUFAL        
ou est l'extincteur qui devrait être dans la voiture; c'était possible de sauver la voiture s'il y avait un extincteur; nous sommes loin de respecter le code de la route; on devrait verbaliser ce conducteur pour non porte de l'extincteur dans sa voiture
          Net Loss: New Abundance Estimate Reveals That Mexico’s Vaquita Faces Imminent Extinction Due to Illegal Fishing        
          Comment on 60 Years Ago Aldous Huxley Predicted How Global Freedom Would Perish by Rachel Thompson        
I largely agree. I figured out long ago,with other studies aside the ones you note, how and why psychopaths/sociopaths rise to power. The term sociopath may be off but I don't keep up with what's new in the DSM nomenclature anymore. One of the things that helped me see what the ruling elite monster class is up to was Kennedy's assassination, yeah our own people did it--Turman saw it coming too. The evidence is there so I thought what kind of person or group of people is capable of that? I studied comparative religions, anthropology,history and psychology to put together the blue print of what makes people and leaders tick. It's always been this way, as it is now, just different tools and inhuman tricks applied but always done and for the same psychologically dynamic reasons. It's in the wiring. I'm always after the core reasons for things. Extrapolating forward, and knowing the past well, I've come to the conclusion that our psychopath class will, in fact, lead us over a cliff as a species--they can't stop themselves and neither can we stop them. We are on a rail to our own extinction. It's inevitable as human nature has never changed, but out capacity for self harm and harm of others has increases dramatically and is now overrunning our own capability for species survival.Only universal critical thinking can save us and that has never happened before nor will it now.The big picture is bleak. As an anthropology geek I find it interesting.hard to say when civilizations will collapse again,but we my not be far off.
          Comment on Respect Nature – Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds by David Fiske        
I have read that If humans became extinct the earth would recover in some 150 years. If ants became extinct the earth would be devastated so you see where we humans stand. I have always believed and taught my sons and post on my webpage that every year I live where I do the earth here is the better for me. Living in balance, enjoying lunch salads picked right from the garden, composting. Paradise!
          Genetic study dates horse domestication back 6,000 years        
A team of geneticists studying horses have determined that they animals were first domesticated 6,000 years ago. Throughout their history, horses have been interbred, traded between populations of people, and moved across continents. All of this makes their genetic history hard to follow. Moreover, the wild ancestor of horses, Equus ferus, is extinct, complicating researchers’ [&hellip
          Comment on The Pseudoscientists – Problems with Skepticism: A Discussion with Eleanor Robertson by sushisnake        
I've only just discovered you ever existed and you've gone extinct. I'm guessing it was no funding or way to self finance and that sucks.
          Activism: funds needed to replant forest for nearly-extinct loris        
Note: as a news organization does not endorse the action below, but believes its readers may be interested in taking action or discussing the issue in comments. Horton Plains slender loris. Photo courtesy of EDGE. Researchers estimate that only 80 Horton Plains slender loris (Loris tardigradus nycticeboides) survive in the world. After believed to […]
Auckland - The dinosaurs were probably heading for extinction even before an asteroid strike wiped them out 65 million years ago, New Zealand scientists said on Monday. Palaeontologist Chris Hollis and a team of scientists from the government-owned Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS) have uncovered evidence of significant global climate change even before the meteor strike. "An unknown number of species may have been in sharp decline when the asteroid struck and the impact winter probably finished them off quite quickly," Hollis said in a statement. He added: "There's no scientific agreement on what caused this climatic instability, but it's...
          Reply #6572        
The $10 GRD had another top prize hit, so that's a game I wouldn't advise playing as it won't be due for a while. The $10 Monopoly game, and the $10 5k a Week for Life game should both be due soon.

Any other Super Millions updates? None of the major retailers are able to get additional supply at this point. It is approaching extinction swiftly.

I'm driving to Atlanta and will be in Georgia for a few days. Should I try my luck at some of their scratchoffs? I just checked most of t... [ More ]
          The crafting of chocolate: Paul A Young        

Thought you were getting a recipe for sea salted caramel truffles there didn't you?

Or perhaps some tips on decorating truffles?

Marzipan: the way to a Scandi's heart

After an extended hiatus from posting recipes a mea culpa is due: I've hardly baked since the reine de saba featured here last month. But if you're a regular reader you might have spotted I have something of a predilection for all things theobroma cacao. This post is inspired in part by a recent tasting at Paul A Young - virtuoso chocolatier and impassioned defender of orangutans - and by the imminent arrival of Chocolate Week Britain's biggest celebration of real chocolate

I love chocolate so don't expect any high-minded objectivity here. The smell of it renders me giddy and grinning dementedly like a Cheshire cat - who needs opium when you can have chocolate I say. Having written features on tea and chocolate pairing and wine pairings for a chocolate-themed dinner party it's safe to assume I would be happy if every week were a celebration of chocolate and since Paul opened his chocolate shop in 2006 I would occasionally pop in whenever I happened to be in Angel, which sadly wasn't that often. His marmite chocolate truffles are manna from heaven for a marmite fan, and you don't need me telling you his salted butter caramels (pictured above) are so moreish that all you really have to do is close your eyes and purr

My musings on matters theobromine boil down to the profound dichotomy of "yum" and "yuck", hence this is really a cursory introduction to one of the great fermented foodstuffs in existence besides my other favourites gravadlax, sourdough bread, Riesling, anchovies, and of course cheese...

Imagine my excitement when I saw this on display at Paul's tasting two weeks ago:

Chocolate and cheese may sound bonkers, but it's an umami bombshell of a combination, think of Ella Fitzgerald singing a fine romance when you pair chocolate and cheese and you know what I'm on about. Paul isn't the only advocate of unusual pairings with chocolate, food scientist and "curious cook" Harold McGee has a killer recipe for chocolate and cheese truffles Try it, you'd be surprised what a natural affinity good dark chocolate has with Stilton and indeed unpasteurised Stichelton

As a Scandinavian I grew up with good chocolate. It's our vitamin shot during long, dark winters and Norway's biggest chocolate company Freia is still my favourite source of milky chocolate confection that hits a certain blisspoint. Pangs of nostalgia occur whenever I eat a Kvikk-Lunsj, Freia's answer to the Kit-Kat and nothing really says weekends spent Nordic skiing, frolicking in the snow and steamy saunas like a bar of the stuff

So when American Kraft bought Norwegian Freia back in the mid 1990's there was a national outcry. Sound familiar? Kraft of course now have their eye on Cadbury's, that beloved British institution whose source of popularity has always eluded me. Cadbury's isn't real chocolate. They may have highly commendable Quaker ideals and social programs but they produce what should be more accurately called vegelate that masquerades as chocolate, replete with startling amounts of bleached sugar and some vague notion of cocoa. Yuck. Nothing, we discovered, makes Paul quite as hopping mad as people who claim chocolate is fattening. Cheap mass-produced chocolate is full of sugar, and that's what is so addictive, not to mention fatal to one's waistline

The heady aroma of real chocolate suffuses Paul's shop when you enter, and this is deliberate. He wants chocolate to be a sensory experience, and since all his chocolate is hand-crafted on site there is no other escape for the intoxicating aromas unleashed by tempering chocolate and freshly baked brownies. Automation is strictly verboten. Instead marble slabs are used downstairs in the kitchen for tempering, and there is no outsourcing at any stage in the chocolate production

Paul and his business partner James Cronin's enthusiasm for teaching us about real chocolate is clear as soon as we arrive. A tasting programme is planned for the evening in which we methodically work our way from bean to bar. Everything from malty Valrhona milk chocolate to silky 75% Amedei 9 and fiendishly tart and bitter 100% Valrhona manjari pate is sampled, the latter resolutely my favourite. Akin to a wine tasting, we diligently take notes and compare thoughts on what each chocolate evinces in terms of nuance, texture and aroma. Ultimately whether we like it or not is to some extent irrelevant. Real chocolate is an education in taste, not an exercise in expressing opinions of "yum" or "yuck' as I normally do

James Cronin talking to us about the business of chocolate

True chocolate lovers will already know the three main cocoa beans are Criollo, Trinitario and Forastero, Criollo being the elite bean and Forastero being the banal bean used in Cadbury's, Nestle, Kraft, et al. or as part of a blend. Being a fermentation nerd with an acidic palate I was intrigued to learn fermentation determines the acidity of cocoa beans, and if done properly releases all the inherent aromas of the bean. As Paul told us, it can be tricky discerning which bean is used for which chocolate with the Big Three Amadei, Valrhona and Michel Cluizel diverging in the way they reveal the bean's provenance, or what blend of beans they use

What struck me about Paul and James is how passionately they believe chocolate is a craft. Craftsmanship is not really part of the noughties' vernacular - we live in an age of instant gratification and mastering a craft requires a singular attention to detail, not to mention years of training, experience and embodied knowledge. Paul told us he had trained under Marco Pierre White, a chef who certainly does not suffer fools lightly. I can only imagine how character-forming it was to work for Marco, and as Paul told us the most salient lesson he learnt from him was that the product is king. To some extent I agree and I appreciate that Paul and James are running a business so the product is key, but the anthropologist in me would of course argue the product is nothing without the people. Cooks, chefs, chocolatiers, cheesemakers, winemakers, brewers all practice a form of craftsmanship, and you can't divest what they make from who they are. I suspect we'll be hearing more about this subject in the coming years as artisanal food producers hit their stride. At any rate, if you're a craft nerd then have a look at Richard Sennett's inspiring book 'The Craftsman' for more profound observations on the matter

Paul and James wrap up the tasting by introducing us to San Francisco-based chocolate brand Tcho, a company channelling the terroir of beans into their chocolate. By breaking down each variety to their flavour profiles of nutty, fruity, chocolatey, earthy, citrus or floral, you have a clear choice depending on your own taste in chocolate. It's a fascinating concept, and certainly the first of its kind amongst the elite chocolate brands. With Paul being the first retailer to stock them in Britain, Tcho are a brand to watch

To complete the evening we're given a tour of the kitchen downstairs, as spotless and spatious as they come. In the photo above is Paul clutching a delicious block of pure cocoa butter, chocolate's most prized ingredient. Remember that. As Paul explained, cocoa butter is the key to real chocolate, and ersatz ingredients such as palm oil are to be avoided at all costs - not merely for fiscal reasons but for conservation ones. The demand for cheap palm oil leads to serious deforestation of rainforests, the natural habitat of both cocoa bean trees and the mighty orangutan. Eat cheap, mass-produced chocolate and not only will you get fat but you'll be contributing to the decline of rainforests and orangutans

If you love proper chocolate, start reading the ingredients on the back of the label. Go to tastings, masterclasses, be a nerd and start swotting up on the subject. There is a Chocolate Unwrapped event in London on the weekend of October 10/11 where you can sample a whole range of brands, beans and varieties of chocolate.

Honestly, if you like eating chocolate it is worth investing a bit of time and effort in learning the whole ecology of chocolate-making from bean to bar, and I can't recommend Paul's tasting highly enough

On that note, I leave you with a word of advice: theobromine is a stimulant so as tempting as it is to make hot chocolate before bedtime you'll find yourself rather more wound-up than wound-down

Doesn't stop me from dreaming about that fiendish Valrhona 100% manjari pate though...

Paul A Young
33 Camden Passage
London N1 8EA

'Adventures with Chocolate' by Paul A Young published by Kyle Cathie 2009

          Reply #6504        
Perhaps it is less logical than we thought, and the reasoning behind ending 2MJ was to keep the number of $10 games for sale at 6? There's still exactly 8 $20 games, so perhaps SM would have ended up on that list if there were 1 more newer game? It may be another 3-6 months before we get another Ending games list so Super Millions may stick around for quite a while longer even though there won't be any books available for sale.

At any rate, SM is practically extinct at this point. Here
          Reply #6389        
For anyone playing SM, the total numbers remaining look like:

20 books activated across the state

106 books listed as received across the state

0 in transit

Most of those stores listed as received don't actually have it in stock. At this point, we could see this game go extinct easily by the end of March.

@ Jasefan - Glad to see you found winners on the $2, and $5 ticket. That's pretty cool there's a 20X on a $2 ticket.

Has anyone played any of the new $25
          Global carbon dioxide in atmosphere touches milestone level        

London: For the first time in human history, the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere has passed the milestone level of 400 parts per million (ppm).

Two CO2 monitoring stations high on the Hawaiian volcano of Mauna Loa run by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, provide the global benchmark measurement., the data released on Friday shows that the daily average has passed 400ppm for the first time in its 50 years of recording, the Guardian reported.

Analysis of fossil air trapped in ancient ice and other data indicated that the level has not been seen on Earth for 3-5 million years, Pliocene period.

At that time, global average temperatures were 3 - 4C higher and up to 8C warmer at the poles.

At that time reef corals suffered a major extinction while forests grew up to the northern edge of the Arctic Ocean, a region which is today bare tundra, Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher.

These conditions could return in time, with bad consequences for civilisation, unless emissions of the gas from the burning of coal, gas and oil are curbed rapidly.

But despite warnings from scientists and a major economic recession, global emissions of CO2 have continued to soar unchecked.

Professor Ralph Keeling, who oversees the measurements on Mauna Loa, which were begun by his father in 1958, said that the landmark level is symbolic, it`s like turning 50: it`s a wake up call to what has been building up in front of people all along.

Prof Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which serves as science adviser to the world`s governments, said that the passing of this milestone is a significant reminder of the rapid rate and the extent to which people have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

He said that at the beginning of industrialisation the concentration of CO2 was just 280 ppm .


Image Caption: 
News Source: 

          Total wipe out: Mass Extinction        
Mass Extinction! 250 million years ago nearly all life on Earth ended. Back from the brink, history then repeated itself with the disappearance of the dinosaurs 60 million years ago. So are we next? Plus news of how a comet smash could have kick-started life on Earth, whether e-cigarettes are safe, and why science and medical reporting in the media might be untrustworthy...
          Does nature do it better?        
This week we're looking to nature to solve some of today's biggest problems - from climate change to water shortages. We hear how spiders hold the key to making the strongest material known to man and how insect ears have inspired the world's smallest microphone. Plus, why Bruce Willis might be making you fat, the Arctic ice sheets that are melting despite headlines to the contrary, and why thousands of languages are on the brink of extinction...
          The End of Extinction?        
Will wooly mammoths roam the tundra once more? This week we ask whether improvements in genetic technologies mean extinction is no longer the end, as well as meeting moss that came back to life after 2000 years buried in permafrost, and the million-year-old microbes lurking in the ice of Antarctica. Plus, news that our genes control who we make friends with, how fossil sea urchins hold the key to finding your lost car keys, and what ancient tooth plaque is revealing about the diets of our ancestors...
          Getting Inside your Genes        
This week, we're introducing the new Naked Genetics podcast - This time, Kat Arney takes a look at the world of top models - not the kind that won't get out of bed for less than ten grand, but the model organisms used by researchers all over the world to answer some of the most challenging questions in biology. We'll also be hearing about the origins of polar bears, the extinction of Tasmanian tigers, fitter frogs with faster-changing genomes and promiscuous bees. And move over Beyonce, because our gene of the month is the curvaceous Callipyge - Greek for beautiful buttocks.
          Naked in Norway        
This week we get Naked in Norway as we visit the University of Oslo to reveal the remains of ancient plesiosaurs and investigate their migration into water, discuss a new concept for more efficient solar cells and discover the fatal effects of climate change on lemming population cycles. We then scour more Scandinavian science to unearth the causes of mass extinction, find out a new way to overcome resistance to radiotherapy, tool around with chimps in the Savannah and round up with a scientific climax in bird masturbation!
          Apple and Exxon May Not Be So Different After All        

Apple and Exxon Mobil may not be so different, after all. The two seemingly disparate companies share more than nearly identical U.S. market-leading values of about $400 billion. Both are threatened by shrinking margins and the struggle to replace their precious wares. Exxon in various iterations has survived four times longer than Apple, but is just as vulnerable.

The mortality rate in technology is high. Rapid advances in hardware and software regularly buffet the sector. Firms rarely survive more than one wave of technology, leaving their intellectual property with a short shelf life. Energy companies are more durable. Exxon’s roots stretch back to 1870. Oil explorers in particular sit on supplies of a commodity that is hard to replace.

Investors are starting to worry that Apple will succumb to the industry’s life-cycle squeeze. After soaring past $650 billion, its market capitalization has tumbled by more than a third in the past five months. Rival smartphones are gaining ground on the iPhone, which accounts for more than half of Apple’s sales and an even greater slug of profit. Operating margins slipped five percentage points to 32 percent in the last full quarter. If price becomes the next battleground, they may slide further still. Apple will have to innovate anew to reverse the trend.

Exxon faces a similar dilemma. The Texas-based company must be increasingly creative to extract oil from rocks, ocean depths and frigid arctic wastes. That explains a 90 percent surge in capital spending since 2007, to about $40 billion annually. Even so, Exxon has barely replaced its reserves. It also must contend with an additional pressure that Apple doesn’t: government actions discouraging the use of oil and fostering more competitive substitutes. It’s a recipe for slimmer margins or, in an extreme case, extinction.

In that sense, Apple’s problems may be easier to solve. If it can develop a new blockbuster, like a TV that already is anticipated, investors could rediscover their enthusiasm for the company, valued at 10 times estimated 2013 earnings. Exxon trades at a similar multiple, though its problems are arguably less tractable, with easily available oil already tapped. Either way, Apple and Exxon find themselves strangely in the same boat. 

Read more at Reuters Breakingviews.

          Burning Science Questions        
This week we hear how lasers might replace X-rays as a way to see inside the body, we delve into the genetic code of the extinct woolly mammoth and hear about a government competition to exploit the power of the web to help people to find public toilets and post boxes. We also tackle your science questions including finding out why mosquiotoes don't transmit diseases like dirty needles, how animals cut their umbilical cords, whether it's better to drink red wine or grape juice and why cold tea tastes strange! Plus, Dave creates a ghostly one-way window effect in Kitchen science.
          Chinese Medicine and the Healing Power of Plants        
Unlocking Natures medicine chest are doctors orders this week as Monique Simmonds reveals the research behind old herbal remedies, Tai-Ping Fan describes how Chinese medicine is being used for illnesses from gout to endometriosis, Jack Cuzick talks about clinical trials for a new drug for breast cancer, and Dr Chris is in St. Louis with details on a potato that fights back... In Kitchen Science, Derek unleashes the explosive power of flour, and Anna Lacey asks Peter Austin why thousands of languages are threatened with extinction.
          Gale Science in Context        

Gale Science in Context buttonDo you feel lost when others discuss the latest scientific developments in global warming, extinction, or green engineering? Or are you the weakest link on your trivia team when it comes to the Science and Technology category?  Does your school-age child need help coming up with an idea and researching a science-fair experiment?

Authoritative, informative and up to date, UAPL’s research database, Gale Science in Context is easy to use and accessible to all age groups and reading levels.

All scientific fields are covered, with topic pages that pull together easy-to-understand overviews as well as information from books, journals, newspapers, websites, and more. Also included are dictionaries, biographies, and experiments.

Check it out today, and if you’re in the Summer Library Club, mark this as one of your activities, and log any time you spend reading articles about science!

Click here for a full list of our science and technology databases.

          Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia: Extinction        

Explores major extinctions and extinct life from the perspective of multiple fields, including zoology, paleontology, and environmental science.

Resources Type: 


Database URL:

          Displaying taxonomic classifications from Wikidata using d3js and SPARQL        

Sahelanthropus tchadensis TM 266 01 060 1Following on from previous posts The Semantic Web made fun: d3sparql and The Biodiversity Heritage Library meets Wikidata via Wikispecies: adding author identifiers to BioStor I've put together an example query that can be used to extract a taxonomic classification from Wikidata. The query is inspired by the example, and uses the wikidata property P171 ("parent taxon") which is subproperty of rdfs:subClassOf (the property used in the d3sparql example which queries the Uniprot taxonomy).

The following SPARQL query generates a list of nodes in the tree representing the classification of Hominini (humans, chimps, and their extinct relatives):

PREFIX wdt: <>
PREFIX wd: <>
SELECT ?root_name ?parent_name ?child_name WHERE
VALUES ?root_name {"Hominini"}
?root wdt:P225 ?root_name .
?child wdt:P171+ ?root .
?child wdt:P171 ?parent .
?child wdt:P225 ?child_name .
?parent wdt:P225 ?parent_name .

Using as the endpoint, in this generates the following diagram:

Screenshot 2017 01 14 11 41 55

There are some obvious issues with this classification, such as genera that lack descendant species (e.g., Cyphanthropus). Indeed, we could imagine developing SPARQL queries to flag up such errors (see A use case for RDF in taxonomy). But the availability and accessibility of Wikidata and its SPARQL interface makes it a great playground to explore the utility of SPARQL for exploring taxonomic data.

          EOL Traitbank JSON-LD is broken        

Follow eol on twitterOne of the most interesting aspects of EOL is "TraitBank", which has been described in a recent paper:

Cynthia S. Parr, Katja S. Schulz, Jennifer Hammock, Nathan Wilson, Patrick Leary, Jeremy Rice, & Robert J. Corrigan. (2016). TraitBank: Practical semantics for organism attribute data. Semantic Web, 7(6), 577–588.

TraitBank is available in JSON-LD, and so is potentially part of the Semantic Web. Unfortunately, the JSON-LD provided by TraitBank is broken, to the point that it's hard to believe that anyone's actually consuming the JSON-LD. I know that Google is using EOL data for their knowledge panels, but anyone using TraitBank JSON-LD in a semantic web client is going to run into problems.

First off, let's look at the example provided in the above paper, which returns data for Potos flavus.

{ "@context": { "@vocab": "", "dwc:taxonID": { "@type": "@id" }, "dwc:resourceID": { "@type": "@id" }, "dwc:relatedResourceID": { "@type": "@id" }, "dwc:relationshipOfResource": { "@type": "@id" }, "dwc:vernacularName": { "@container": "@language" }, "eol:associationType": { "@type": "@id" }, "rdfs:label": { "@container": "@language" }, "dc": "", "dwc": "", "eolterms": "", "eol": "", "rdfs": "", "gbif": "", "foaf": "" }, "@type": "DataFeedItem", "dateModified": "2016-09-30", "item": { "@id": 328067, "@type": "dwc:Taxon", "scientificName": "Potos flavus (Schreber, 1774)", "dwc:taxonRank": "species", "dwc:parentNameUsageID": "", "potentialAction": { "@type": "EntryPoint", "target": { "@type": "Related", "url": "", "actionPlatform": [ "", "", "" ] } }, "sameAs": [ "", "", "", "", "", "", " flavus", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "" ], "vernacularNames": [ { "@language": "af", "@value": "rolbeer", "gbif:isPreferredName": true }, { "@language": "af", "@value": "rolstaartbeer" }, { "@language": "de", "@value": "wickelbär", "gbif:isPreferredName": true }, { "@language": "en", "@value": "Kinkajou", "gbif:isPreferredName": true }, { "@language": "en", "@value": "honey bear" }, { "@language": "es", "@value": "Ak' a' mash", "gbif:isPreferredName": true }, { "@language": "es", "@value": "Chosna" }, { "@language": "es", "@value": "Cusu" }, { "@language": "es", "@value": "Martilla" }, { "@language": "es", "@value": "Martucha" }, { "@language": "es", "@value": "Mico de noche" }, { "@language": "es", "@value": "Mico león" }, { "@language": "es", "@value": "Mono michi" }, { "@language": "es", "@value": "Perro de monte" }, { "@language": "fi", "@value": "Kinkaju", "gbif:isPreferredName": true }, { "@language": "fr", "@value": "Kinkajou, Singe de nuit", "gbif:isPreferredName": true }, { "@language": "nl", "@value": "rolstaartbeer", "gbif:isPreferredName": true }, { "@language": "nl", "@value": "nachtaap" }, { "@language": "pt-BR", "@value": "Jupará", "gbif:isPreferredName": true } ], "traits": [ { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "metabolic rate", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "731.33", "units": "mL/hr O2", "eol:dataPointId": 949469, "": "", "dc:source": "Data set supplied by Kate E. Jones. The data can also be accessed at Ecological Archives E090-184-D1,,", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "Kate E. Jones, Jon Bielby, Marcel Cardillo, Susanne A. Fritz, Justin O'Dell, C. David L. Orme, Kamran Safi, Wes Sechrest, Elizabeth H. Boakes, Chris Carbone, Christina Connolly, Michael J. Cutts, Janine K. Foster, Richard Grenyer, Michael Habib, Christopher A. Plaster, Samantha A. Price, Elizabeth A. Rigby, Janna Rist, Amber Teacher, Olaf R. P. Bininda-Emonds, John L. Gittleman, Georgina M. Mace, and Andy Purvis. 2009. PanTHERIA: a species-level database of life history, ecology, and geography of extant and recently extinct mammals. Ecology 90:2648.", "dwc:measurementMethod": "Basal metabolic rate was measured when individual(s) were experiencing neither heat nor cold stress (i.e. are in their thermoneutral zone); are resting and calm; and are post–absorptive (are not digesting or absorbing a meal) and data were only accepted where there was also a measure of body mass for the same individual(s). Based on information from primary and secondary literature sources. This value represents a single measure of central tendency for this species. See source for details.", "eolterms:statisticalMethod": "", "dwc:measurementValue": "731.33", "dwc:measurementUnit": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "population trend", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Decreasing", "eol:dataPointId": 46140963, "dc:source": "", "dwc:measurementValue": "Decreasing", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus (Schreber, 1774)", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "habitat", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "terrestrial habitat", "eol:dataPointId": 46140962, "dc:source": "", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus (Schreber, 1774)", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "total life span", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "348", "units": "months", "eol:dataPointId": 949459, "dc:source": "Data set supplied by Kate E. Jones. The data can also be accessed at Ecological Archives E090-184-D1,,", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "Kate E. Jones, Jon Bielby, Marcel Cardillo, Susanne A. Fritz, Justin O'Dell, C. David L. Orme, Kamran Safi, Wes Sechrest, Elizabeth H. Boakes, Chris Carbone, Christina Connolly, Michael J. Cutts, Janine K. Foster, Richard Grenyer, Michael Habib, Christopher A. Plaster, Samantha A. Price, Elizabeth A. Rigby, Janna Rist, Amber Teacher, Olaf R. P. Bininda-Emonds, John L. Gittleman, Georgina M. Mace, and Andy Purvis. 2009. PanTHERIA: a species-level database of life history, ecology, and geography of extant and recently extinct mammals. Ecology 90:2648.", "dwc:measurementMethod": "Maximum adult age measured either through direct observation, capture-recapture estimates, projected from physical wear or unspecified, using captive, wild, provisioned, or unspecified populations; male, female, or sex unspecified individuals; primary, secondary, or extrapolated sources; in all localities. See source for details.", "eolterms:statisticalMethod": "", "dwc:measurementValue": "348", "dwc:measurementUnit": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "litters per year", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "1", "eol:dataPointId": 949460, "dc:source": "Data set supplied by Kate E. Jones. The data can also be accessed at Ecological Archives E090-184-D1,,", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "Kate E. Jones, Jon Bielby, Marcel Cardillo, Susanne A. Fritz, Justin O'Dell, C. David L. Orme, Kamran Safi, Wes Sechrest, Elizabeth H. Boakes, Chris Carbone, Christina Connolly, Michael J. Cutts, Janine K. Foster, Richard Grenyer, Michael Habib, Christopher A. Plaster, Samantha A. Price, Elizabeth A. Rigby, Janna Rist, Amber Teacher, Olaf R. P. Bininda-Emonds, John L. Gittleman, Georgina M. Mace, and Andy Purvis. 2009. PanTHERIA: a species-level database of life history, ecology, and geography of extant and recently extinct mammals. Ecology 90:2648.", "dwc:measurementMethod": "Number of litters per female per year using non-captive, wild, provisioned, or unspecified populations; male, female, or sex unspecified individuals; primary, secondary, or extrapolated sources; all measures of central tendency; in all localities. See source for details.", "eolterms:statisticalMethod": "", "dwc:measurementValue": "1", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dwc:sex": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "clutch/brood/litter size", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "1.11", "eol:dataPointId": 949461, "dc:source": "Data set supplied by Kate E. Jones. The data can also be accessed at Ecological Archives E090-184-D1,,", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "Kate E. Jones, Jon Bielby, Marcel Cardillo, Susanne A. Fritz, Justin O'Dell, C. David L. Orme, Kamran Safi, Wes Sechrest, Elizabeth H. Boakes, Chris Carbone, Christina Connolly, Michael J. Cutts, Janine K. Foster, Richard Grenyer, Michael Habib, Christopher A. Plaster, Samantha A. Price, Elizabeth A. Rigby, Janna Rist, Amber Teacher, Olaf R. P. Bininda-Emonds, John L. Gittleman, Georgina M. Mace, and Andy Purvis. 2009. PanTHERIA: a species-level database of life history, ecology, and geography of extant and recently extinct mammals. Ecology 90:2648.", "dwc:measurementMethod": "Number of offspring born per litter per female, either counted before birth, at birth or after birth, using captive, wild, provisioned, or unspecified populations; male, female, or sex unspecified individuals; primary, secondary, or extrapolated sources; all measures of central tendency; in all localities. 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Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Sinú Valley dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346785, "dc:source": "", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "World Wildlife Fund. 2006. WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. Jan-06.", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dc:contributor": "Compiler: Sarah Miller", "dwc:measurementRemarks": "Biome: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Patía Valley dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346784, "dc:source": "", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "World Wildlife Fund. 2006. WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. Jan-06.", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dc:contributor": "Compiler: Sarah Miller", "dwc:measurementRemarks": "Biome: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Panamanian dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346783, "dc:source": "", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "World Wildlife Fund. 2006. WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. Jan-06.", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dc:contributor": "Compiler: Sarah Miller", "dwc:measurementRemarks": "Biome: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Maracaibo dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346782, "dc:source": "", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "World Wildlife Fund. 2006. WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. Jan-06.", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dc:contributor": "Compiler: Sarah Miller", "dwc:measurementRemarks": "Biome: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Magdalena Valley dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346781, "dc:source": "", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "World Wildlife Fund. 2006. WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. Jan-06.", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dc:contributor": "Compiler: Sarah Miller", "dwc:measurementRemarks": "Biome: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Lara-Falcón dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346780, "dc:source": "", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "World Wildlife Fund. 2006. WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. Jan-06.", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dc:contributor": "Compiler: Sarah Miller", "dwc:measurementRemarks": "Biome: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Ecuadorian dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346779, "dc:source": "", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "World Wildlife Fund. 2006. WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. Jan-06.", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dc:contributor": "Compiler: Sarah Miller", "dwc:measurementRemarks": "Biome: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Chiquitano dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346778, "dc:source": "", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "World Wildlife Fund. 2006. WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. Jan-06.", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dc:contributor": "Compiler: Sarah Miller", "dwc:measurementRemarks": "Biome: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Chiapas Depression dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346777, "dc:source": "", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "World Wildlife Fund. 2006. WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. Jan-06.", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dc:contributor": "Compiler: Sarah Miller", "dwc:measurementRemarks": "Biome: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Central American dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346776, "dc:source": "", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "World Wildlife Fund. 2006. WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. Jan-06.", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dc:contributor": "Compiler: Sarah Miller", "dwc:measurementRemarks": "Biome: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Cauca Valley dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346775, "dc:source": "", "dc:bibliographicCitation": "World Wildlife Fund. 2006. WildFinder: Online database of species distributions, ver. Jan-06.", "dwc:measurementValue": "", "dwc:scientificName": "Potos flavus", "dc:contributor": "Compiler: Sarah Miller", "dwc:measurementRemarks": "Biome: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Realm: Neotropical", "eolterms:resource": "" }, { "@id": "", "eol:traitUri": "", "@type": "dwc:MeasurementOrFact", "predicate": "geographic distribution includes", "dwc:measurementType": "", "value": "Balsas dry forests", "eol:dataPointId": 45346774, "dc:source": "http://www.worldwildlife.

          Guest post: Absorbing task or deranged quest: an attempt to track all genus names ever published        

YtNkVT2U This guest post by Tony Rees describes his quest to track all genus names ever published (plus a subset of the species…).

A “holy grail” for biodiversity informatics is a suitably quality controlled, human- and machine-queryable list of all the world’s species, preferably arranged in a suitable taxonomic hierarchy such as kingdom-phylum-class-order-family-genus or other. To make it truly comprehensive we need fossils as well as extant taxa (dinosaurs as well as dinoflagellates) and to cover all groups from viruses to vertebrates (possibly prions as well, which are, well, virus-like). Linnaeus had some pretty good attempts in his day, and in the internet age the challenge has been taken up by a succession of projects such as the “NODC Taxonomic Code” (a precursor to ITIS, the Integrated Taxonomic Information System - currently 722,000 scientific names), the Species 2000 consortium, and the combined ITIS+SP2000 product “Catalogue of Life”, now in its 16th annual edition, with current holdings of 1,635,250 living and 5,719 extinct valid (“accepted”) species, plus an additional 1,460,644 synonyms (information from This looks pretty good until one realises that as well as the estimated “target” of 1.9 million valid extant species there are probably a further 200,000-300,000 described fossils, all with maybe as many synonyms again, making a grand total of at least 5 million published species names to acquire into a central “quality assured” system, a task which will take some time yet.

Ten years ago, in 2006, the author participated in a regular meeting of the steering committee for OBIS, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System which, like GBIF, aggregates species distribution data (for marine species in this context) from multiple providers into a single central search point. OBIS was using the Catalogue of Life (CoL) as its “taxonomic backbone” (method for organising its data holdings) and, again like GBIF, had come up against the problem of what to do with names not recognised in the then-latest edition of CoL, which was at the time less than 50% complete (information on 884,552 species). A solution occurred to me that since genus names are maybe only 10% as numerous as species names, and every species name includes its containing genus as the first portion of its binomial name (thanks, Linnaeus!), an all-genera index might be a tractable task (within a reasonable time frame) where an all-species index was not, and still be useful for allocating incoming “not previously seen” species names to an appropriate position in the taxonomic hierarchy. OBIS, in particular, also wished to know if species (or more exactly, their parent genera) were marine (to be displayed) or nonmarine (hide), similar with extant versus fossil taxa. Sensing a challenge, I offered to produce such a list, in my mind estimating that it might require 3 months full-time, or the equivalent 6 months in part time effort to complete and supply back to OBIS for their use.

To cut a long story short… the project, which I christened the Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera or IRMNG (originally at CSIRO in Australia, now hosted on its own domain “” and located at VLIZ in Belgium) has successfully acquired over 480,000 published genus names, including valid names, synonyms and a subset of published misspellings, all allocated to families (most) or higher ranks (remainder) in an internally coherent taxonomic structure, most with marine/nonmarine and extant/fossil flags, all with the source from which I acquired them, sources for the flags, and more; also for perhaps 50% of genera, lists of associated species from wherever it has been convenient to acquire them (Catalogue of Life 2006 being a major source, but many others also used). My estimated 6 months has turned into 10 years and counting, but I do figure that the bulk of the basic “names acquisition” has been done for all groups (my estimate: over 95% complete) and it is rare (although not completely unknown) for me to come across genus names not yet held, at least for the period 1753-2014 which is the present coverage of IRMNG; present effort is therefore concentrated on correcting internal errors and inconsistencies, and upgrading the taxonomic placement (to family) for the around 100,000 names where this is not yet held (also establishing the valid name/synonym status of a similar number of presently “unresolved” generic names).

With the move of the system from Australia to VLIZ, completed within the last couple of months, there is the facility to utilise all of the software and features presently developed at VLIZ that currently runs WoRMS, the World Register of Marine Species and its many associated subsidiary databases, as well as (potentially) look at forming a distributed editing network for IRMNG in the future, as already is the case for WoRMS, presuming that others are see a value in maintaining IRMNG as a useful resource e.g. for taxonomic name resolution, detection of potential homonyms both within and across kingdoms, and generally acting as a hierarchical view of “all life” to at least genus level. A recently implemented addition to IRMNG is to hold ION identifiers (also used in BioNames), for the subset of names where ION holds the original publication details, enabling “deep links” to both ION and BioNames wherein the original publication can often be displayed, as previously described elsewhere in this Blog. Similar identifiers for plants are not yet held in the system but could be, (for example Index Fungorum identifiers for fungi), for cases where the potential linked system adds value in giving, for example, original publication details and onward links to the primary literature.

All in all I feel that the exercise has been of value not only to OBIS (the original “client”) but also to other informatics systems such as GBIF, Encyclopedia of Life, Atlas of Living Australia, Open Tree of Life and others who have all taken advantage of IRMNG data to add to their systems, either for the marine/nonmarine and extant/fossil flags or as an addition to their primary taxonomic backbones, or both. In addition it has allowed myself, the founding IRMNG compiler, to “scratch the taxonomic itch” and finally flesh out what is meant by statements that a certain group contains x families or y genera, and what these actually might be. Finally, many users of the system via its web interface have commented over time on how useful it is to be able to input “any” name, known or unknown, with a good chance that IRMNG can tell them something about the genus (or genus possible options, in the case of homonyms) as well as the species, in many cases, as well as discriminate extant from fossil taxon names, something not yet offered to any significant extent by the current Catalogue of Life.

Readers of iPhylo are encouraged to try IRMNG as a “taxonomic name resolution service” by visiting and of course, welcome to contact me with suggestions of missed names (concentrating at genus level at the present time) or any other ideas for improvement (which I can then submit for consideration to the team at VLIZ who now provide the technical support for the system).

          Comment on Will We Cause Our Own Extinction? – Dr Toby Ord by CSER Seminar April 24th: Will We Cause Our Own Extinction? | CSER        
[…] CSER’s April seminar will be on Friday 24th April, 4.00-5.30pm.  Dr Toby Ord (Oxford) will present on the topic “Will we cause our own extinction? Natural versus anthropogenic extinction risks” […]
          The heartbreaking reason Jane Goodall stopped doing what she loved most        

jane goodall

Jane Goodall's groundbreaking work with chimpanzees in Tanzania, Africa, was the achievement of a childhood dream and the time she often looks back on as the happiest in her life.

But after spending decades observing primates on the ground, she finally got a glimpse of their habitat from afar, in a plane, and was immediately struck with panic.

The area she'd been working in was fast disappearing. People were cutting down trees, encroaching on the chimps' habitat from all sides.

"It was absolutely horrifying to see," Goodall said on Wednesday at an event in New York.

Goodall quickly realized that if she really wanted to help the chimpanzees she'd studied, she'd have to protect their home first.

This meant she'd have to shift her career in a big way. Instead of working mainly with primates in the field, she'd need to find ways to protect their habitats. For this, she'd need to work more with people than animals.

She took action quickly, first turning the area where she'd worked, around the Gombe Stream on the northwest border of Tanzania, into a recognized national park.

That distinction kept tourists and people from coming into the area and using its resources whenever they please. As one of Tanzania's official national parks, the area began to have limited public access. Anyone entering could do so only with permission; tourist groups had to be licensed and register with the park before they went into it.

Soon after, Goodall created the Jane Goodall Institute, a global nonprofit that aims to increase people's knowledge of great apes and their habitats and support primate research and conservation projects throughout the world.

Are her efforts working?

gombe national forest chimpanzee Deforestation is an ongoing problem across the globe, but recent evidence indicates that the trend has been slowing a bit.

A March report from the UN Food and Agriculture organization, for example, found that we'd lost 25% fewer trees between 2011 and 2015 than we had during the previous 10-year period.

Experts say the slowing trend owes at least some credit to the work of organizations like the Jane Goodall Institute.

By helping increase local communities' access to education and basic resources like clean water, these groups aim to help reduce poverty and empower people in the areas near wildlife to help conserve it. And it seems to be working.

NOW READ: Jane Goodall: Man's closest animal relatives face extinction

SEE ALSO: One chart sums up the real problem in the California drought — and it isn't almonds

Join the conversation about this story »

          A Staggering Number Of Chimps And Gorillas Have Died From Ebola        

Young chimpanzees Congo

There is a side to the Ebola crisis that, perhaps understandably, has received little media attention: the threat it poses to our nearest cousins, the great apes of Africa. At this moment in time Ebola is the single greatest threat to the survival of gorillas and chimpanzees.

The virus is even more deadly for other great apes as it is for humans, with mortality rates approximately 95% for gorillas and 77% for chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Current estimates suggest a third of the world’s gorillas and chimpanzees have died from Ebola since the 1990s.

As with humans, these deaths tend to come in epidemics. In 1995, an outbreak is reported to have killed more than 90% of the gorillas in Minkébé Park in northern Gabon. In 2002-2003 a single outbreak of ZEBOV (the Zaire strain of Ebola) in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed an estimated 5,000 Western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla). It’s hard to accurately count such elusive creatures but the WWF estimates there are up to 100,000left in the wild – so a single Ebola outbreak wiped out a considerable chunk of the world’s gorilla population.

There are of course additional factors behind the declining numbers of Africa’s great apes: illegal trading in wildlife and bushmeat, war, deforestation and other infectious diseases. The world’s remaining wild apes are being increasingly forced into isolated pockets of forest, which impedes their ability to forage, breed and to hide from hunters. There is also a growing body of evidence linking deforestation and subsequent changes in climate to the spread of Ebola and other infectious diseases.


Back in 2003 an article on the decline of great apes, written by a team led by primatologist Peter Walsh, predicted that:

Without aggressive investments in law enforcement, protected area management and Ebola prevention, the next decade will see our closest relatives pushed to the brink of extinction.

Sadly, this prediction appears to have come true. Since 2008, the IUCN has listed the Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei) as endangered and the Western Gorillas as critically endangered. If we do not act fast, these may prove to be the last decades in which apes can continue to live in their natural habitat. Unfortunately, there appears to be a lack of political will to implement policies which would bring viable solutions into effect.

We need both short-term solutions to halting the spread of Ebola and long-term ones to prevent future outbreaks. As a short-term strategy, vaccination could prove enormously useful in tackling the Ebola crisis in apes. Unlike for humans, a vaccine for gorillas and apes has been developed which thus far has been proven both safe and effective.

To date though, these trials have not involved “challenging” the vaccinated chimps with the live virus. Across much of Europe, medical research on great apes is either banned or highly restricted because of their cognitive similarity to humans. The question is whether or not we should make an exception in this case.

In the long term, conservation efforts aimed at restoring forest habitat could also help curb the spread of the virus, as larger forested areas would reduce the chances of infected animals coming into contact with one another. In tandem with forest regeneration, greater protection for apes from hunters and strict laws to control bushmeat consumptionwould also be hugely beneficial, both for apes and for humans.

Join the conversation about this story »

          Why Human Population is an Animal Rights Issue essay.        
This post is a summarised, written version of a talk which we have presented at many vegan festivals in the UK. We have the video version on Youtube that was shot at London Vegfest 2015 and can be watched HERE. 

Read it HERE
          The Species Barrier #35 Podcast & Show Notes         
Episode #35 of The Species Barrier... South African Professor of Philosophy David Benatar, writer of Better To Have Never Been, The Harm of Coming Into Existence joins us to discuss his work. Mistro, musical artist from Norway has a new album out called The Tragedy of Birth and author Jan Smitovicz from America is the writer of revenge novel Orange Rain.

Also in the news discussion, we attended the Premiere of Unity (Long awaited followup to Earthlings) and give our thoughts, World Overshoot Day passes, water and food predicted to run out, The Pope's encyclical covers environmentalism and animal ethics, Beyonce's "veganism",  techno fixes can't save the oceans, Cecil The Lion and it's been made official that humans are driving The Sixth Great Extinction event in geological history.

Before serving, always make sure the Earth is fully cooked.

Listen to The Species Barrier 35 Antinatal Here

Download/Listen to the MP3 (Save As): Here

Subscribe to The Species Barrier on Itunes: Here

Adopt Don't Breed: Jan has a vasectomy so rest assured his son here is a rescue.
The Species Barrier #35 Show Notes:

Review of Unity The Film:

David Benatar:


Jan Smitowicz:

          The Species Barrier #30 Podcast & Show Notes        

Episode 30... we continue our series of critiques of civilization with journalist and co-founder of the Dark Mountain project Paul Kingsnorth and prominent anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan.

Also the imminent collapse of civilization is in the media, contrary to earlier predictions the human population is set to hit 11 billion and beyond if left unchecked and George Monbiot, reflects on both the impossibility of growth and experts stating that humans drove ice age animal extinctions.

Paul Kingsnorth: Back against the wall but not apathetic

Listen to The Species Barrier 30 Uncivilised Here

Download/Listen to the MP3 (Save As): Here

Subscribe to The Species Barrier on Itunes: Here

John Zerzan: Going down fighting
 The Species Barrier 30 Show Notes:

 Lincoln's Environmental film schedule:

Roxy and her 11 puppies:

Bird Walks at Hartsholme:

Population to hit 11 billion with 70% chance of rising:

We're nearing collapse:

Collapse is inevitable now 2015-2020:

Noam Chomsky on the end of history: 

George Monbiot on the impossibility of growth: 

Paul Kingsnorth:

The Dark Mountain Project:

Should we seek to save industrial civilisation:

Extinctions 1000-10,000 the standard rate:

Humans have long history of causing extinctions:

Diminuitive monsters of destruction, is this all we are?

John Zerzan:

Anarchy Radio:

Fact Of The Day:

          The Species Barrier #28 Podcast & Show Notes        
Coming up today... Author and environmental activist Derrick Jensen joins us to discuss his thoughts on the urgent need to dismantle industrialised society. Guy McPherson Professor emeritus at The University of Arizona says it's too late for humans and that imminent extinction is assured, perhaps as soon as 2030. John Stewart who was ranked as the UK's #1 environmental activist in the Independent newspaper is back on the show. Last time he discussed the aviation industry, this time it is rapidly sprawling road networks.

Also NASA suggest industrial-civilisation may only have a few decades left, US scientists intervene on the urgent need to tackle human caused climate change, as the south-east braces itself for the construction of two new cities Jonathan Porrit warns that environmental groups have a problem with population, and as environmentalist Al Gore confirms he plans to eat "vegan" for life, meat and dairy are suggested to be as dangerous for human health as cigarettes. Fact of the day investigates how much soya is actually grown for human consumption.

Derrick and his Deep Green Sweater
Listen to The Species Barrier 28 Endgame: Here

Download/Listen to the MP3 (Save As): Here

Subscribe to The Species Barrier on Itunes: Here

Near-Term Extinction: Nothing to smile about?

The Species Barrier 28 Show Notes:

CALF Sanctuary/Cafe Scarborough:

Chris Packham's Wild Night Out:

Al Gore "vegan for life" 
Meat, dairy and cigarettes:
NASA Report of Civilisation Collapse: 
Scientists Intervene on Climate Change: 
Guy McPherson's Nature Bats Last blog:

Jonathan Porritt on the population problem in environmental groups:
New city in Ebbsfleet
Derrick Jensen website:
Soya Fact of the day:


          Plusieurs espèces de vulnérabilités en voie d’extinction : 05/11/2012 - Ludovic Blin - secuobs : Plusieurs espèces de vulnérabilités en voie d’extinction
          Politics - USA        
 TheMeanDM wrote:
Actually Sebster, if you take a step back and look at does make sense.

But you have to understand how a caucus works....

Lets say Oregon is a caucus state.
--every person gathers in a group at a caucus site
-- the groups are counted and compared and the results are reported as # of delegates awarded (not as # of voters or caucus goers). It is strictly by delegate count.

Lets say Missouri is a voting state.
--you go vote, your vote is recorded, and it is tallied with everybody else that votes

Lets say each state has 100 delegates to award.

If 10 million in people CAUCUS in Oregon, and 7 million CAUCUS for Sanders, that means he gets 70 delegates.

If 50 million people in Oregon CAUCUSED (I know there arent that many in the state) and 70% CAUCUS for Sanders....he still only gets 70 delegates.

Now in Missouri....its is different obviously because every vote is tracked and counted and reported.

So if 1 million people vote and 40% vote for Sanders, he is recorded as having won 40 Delegates and 400,000 votes.

If 10 million vote and Sanders gets 40%, he gets 40 delegates and 4 million votes.


You cannot arbitrarily dismiss the fact that caucus state results *could* skew the popular vote, because there is no accounting of how many peple actually showed up to caucus for any given candidate.

the idea of one person, one vote has long been extinct.
          Kam on Film: ‘The Dark Tower,’ ‘Kidnap’ and What’s New In Theaters        

The Dark Tower

Sony Pictures

Rated PG-13 for action, gun violence and mature themes

Gunslinger Defends Planet From Extinction In Adaptation Of Stephen King’s Sci-Fi Epic

Laurie Chambers (Katheryn Winnick) is understandably worried about her 11-year-old son’s recurrent nightmares. After all, Jake’s (Tom Taylor) becoming increasingly convinced of Earth’s imminent demise.

So, she takes him to a shrink who misdiagnoses the visions as delusional and has the kid committed to a mental health facility. Truth be told, Jake is indeed psychic and has accurately forecast an impending extinction level event.

The planet’s only hope of averting an apocalypse rests on …

          Politics - USA        
Asterios wrote:
 jasper76 wrote:
@Asterios: To follow your logic why even identify as an American? After all, you'reca member of the human species before you're an American. Why not just identify as a "citizen of Earth"?

because Earth is not unified or even close to it and until then I will still strive to push for a unified America, once done, then I'll push for a unified Earth. one step at a time.

But Earth is plenty unified. We don't have the capability to divide it, and it will still be here after the human race is extinct.

But I know you're talking about politics here 9
          THE OUTLAWS IS COMING        
Adam West and the Stooges: DeRitas, Howard and Fine
THE OUTLAWS IS COMING (1965). Director: Norman Maurer.

In 1871 a group of outlaws want to slaughter the buffalo to send the Indians on the warpath for their own nefarious purposes. Kenneth Cabot (Adam West of Batman) is sent out to Wyoming with three associates (Larry Fine, Moe Howard, and Joe DeRita) to save the Buffalo from extinction. There they run into Annie Oakley (Nancy Kovack of Diary of a Madman), who actually does the shootin' attributed to Kenneth, as well as bad guys Rance Rodan (Don Lamond) and Trigger Mortis (Mort Mills of The Name of the Game is Kill), who make Kenneth the sheriff and the Stooges his deputies -- with the average life expectancy of about a day. The Outlaws is Coming is pretty silly stuff, geared primarily to children despite its violence and gun play, but it does have some inspired moments. There's the bit when the Stooges are forced to drink a Tarantula Fizz (Tiny Brauer is amusing as their bartender), and a clever business when the boys pour glue into the guns and holsters of all of the outlaws as they sleep, hoping to head off their own slaughter. DeRita and Fine make comical drag queens when they accidentally enter the room of some show gals instead of the outlaws. Annie Oakley has a cat fight with Calamity Jane, and Henry Gibson plays an Indian, but he isn't especially funny, no surprise there. Emil Sitka is also not funny as an Indian chief. At 88 minutes the picture is too long.

Verdict: Elvis the skunk is in this too! **.

          Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur: Forget the Premise, Enjoy the Show        
What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely, and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? That is the question posed in the promotions for The Good Dinosaur, by Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios, which is being released in 3D on November 25. The question is an intriguing idea, but had less […]
          Heather Spoonheim posted a blog post        
Heather Spoonheim posted a blog post

Non-Cognitive Survival

A narrative essay by – Heather SpoonheimWar stories often relate extraordinary tales of soldiers who have survived the grimmest of odds. As we zoom in on a soldier hanging on for dear life in the belly of a landing craft headed for Omaha Beach we can hear the screams of those being blown to bits in the landing crafts around his. As the front wall of the craft drops to reveal hell on a beach, our soldier rushes out through a hail storm of high caliber machine gun fire that shreds the bodies of his comrades. Amazingly, he presses forth with the survivors of the other landings only to watch unknown soldiers around him being blasted into oblivion by landmines.Death lays in wait for our heroic soldier at every turn. With every move he makes he narrowly evades the horrific obliteration of yet another comrade. And so the story continues, with morbid destruction looming over every step, all the way to Berlin. How can our soldier have possibly survived such a journey of death and destruction? The explanation is purely mathematical: fatalities did not amount to one hundred percent on any of the battlefields that he crossed.Our soldier could not possibly have known which turn was fatal and which was not. Many of his fallen comrades may have actually met literal dead ends without a survivable option being left available to them. Like many soldiers, however, our soldier was presented with non-fatal options at every step. Like a select few soldiers, as it turned out, our soldier selected the non-fatal path in every instance.It boggles the mind to consider the odds of our soldier having not only had non-fatal options at every turn but also having made non-fatal selections all the way through. The fact of the matter is, however, that if he hadn’t had non-fatal options and made non-fatal selections all the way through then he wouldn’t have been the soldier we zoomed in on at the beginning of this story. Stories of anonymous soldiers who died three minutes into the battle are simply not very interesting. The interesting stories are those of the soldiers who survived, or at least those who survived long enough for the narrative to develop.The selection of the soldier for this story began not in the landing craft but in Berlin. Had no soldiers survived to reach Berlin then the selection would have begun not in Berlin but in London, and the soldier would have been German. Soldiers did survive to reach Berlin, however, and it is from this pool that the selection was made. In point of fact, it is not entirely extraordinary that there were soldiers who survived to the end of the war. In point of fact, it is extraordinarily extraordinary just how many did not.Consider if you will just how many stories had to exist in order to generate the pool of soldiers in Berlin from whom we made our selection. How many stories ended in the landing crafts, on the beaches, in the trenches, or in catatonic states of terror? How many stories never got past the first page? How many never got past the first chapter? How many stories ended in obscurity? War does not generate heroic stories, it cuts stories short and heroic stories are simply those that remain where war has failed.This is a useful analogy for evolution. Abiogenesis is the landing craft that delivers little self-replicating soldiers to hostile environments that make Omaha Beach seem like a children’s carnival. Natural selection takes the form of fortified machine gun turrets that fire automatically in the ever-changing, mindless patterns of environmental factors. In the absence of generals to call the shots, our little self-replicating soldiers can do no more than run back and forth across the beach; there is no map to Berlin; Berlin does not even exist. This process, therefore, is entirely non-cognitive.In 99.9% of the cosmos, abiogenesis hasn’t even come close to the beach. On earth, abiogenesis hit the beach about 4 billion years ago. The earliest soldiers didn’t even have legs; the only option for mobility was self-replication. Soldiers that didn’t self-replicate died before exiting the landing craft. Soldiers that self-replicated perfectly only moved in straight lines and, as such, were cut to shreds. Soldiers that self-replicated terribly lost all course information and, as such, just circled about until they hit land mines. Only those soldiers that replicated with slight imperfections could retain course information while also changing course from time to time, and although they were mowed down without mercy, the odd one managed to survive for a few pages worth of narrative. It was an entirely non-cognitive process.Environmental factors that are not harsh enough to destroy a particular organism today will change sufficiently to destroy it tomorrow. The errors that occur in self-replication may very well terminate the self-replicating process altogether - or might, against significant odds, result in attributes that facilitate survival through tomorrow’s genocidal environment. It is important to realize that every genetic change is the result of a mistake in the self-replication process: an error, not an adaptation. In this regard, every detail of every living organism represents an error in the self-replication process. It is an entirely non-cognitive process.Every aspect of the environment represents an obstacle to survival: life continues in spite of the environment, not because of it – hospitality does not exist. Almost every line of self-replication has hit a dead end, run out of non-fatal options, and gone extinct. Because of all of this, it is inaccurate to say that evolution ‘solves problems’, ‘favours an adaptation’, or ‘reuses’ anything. Evolution is the filter through which imperfect self-replications pass or fail. The filter changes properties as the environmental factors change, but it is an entirely non-cognitive process.The proof of the carnage lies in the fossil record and other, as yet undiscovered, genetic dead ends. Further proof lies in the vestigial genes that signify self-replication errors long past. The map back to our evolutionary Omaha Beach lies in our DNA, and binds every living thing together by virtue of having survived an horrific war that shredded almost all of our comrades.It boggles the mind to consider the odds of us having not only had non-fatal options at every turn but also having made non-fatal replication errors all the way through – over a span of 4 billion years. The explanation, however, is purely mathematical: fatalities simply did not amount to one hundred percent on any of the battlefields that we happened to cross. The fact of the matter is that if we hadn’t had non-fatal options and made non-fatal replications errors all the way through then this story wouldn’t be the one being written. Consider if you will just how many stories had to exist in order to generate this one. Evolution does not generate survival stories, it cuts stories short at every turn and survival stories are simply those that remain where natural selection has failed. It is an entirely non-cognitive process.See More

          Sequencing the DNA of New Zealand’s first dog        
Researchers have sequenced the entire genome of the kur?, a now-extinctdog whose remains were recovered from Wairau Bar, an ancient Polynesian site in New Zealand. Kur? were smallish dogs about the size of cocker spaniels and were brought to New Zealand from East Polynesia in the colonising canoes that arrived in the early fourteenth century [&hellip
          We saw a Kakapo!!!!        
I have to admit that up until this weekend I did not have a clue what a Kakapo was, and for the benefit of anybody else as ignorant as me I'll tell you.
The Kakapo is a bird, but it is not like any bird you have ever seen, it is so amazing, it just looks like some made up mythical creature. The Kakapo only lives in New Zealand and long ago they could be found all over the country. For millions of years NZ was only inhabited by bird and reptiles so the Kakapo did not learn the defense mechanisms to escape or combat mammalian predators. The arrival of Polynesian peoples thousands of years ago, of Europeans in the 1800's, and ultimately the pets and livestock they brought with them resulted in the massive decline of Kakapo populations from hundreds of thousands to a mere handful of birds.

Back in the 1970s the Kakapo was believed to be extinct, then some were discovered living on remote islands off the shore of NZ. These islands are the only place in the world where the Kakapo has no predators and can live safely.

Thanks to the Kakapo recovery programme there are now 91 Kakapos alive and thriving.
Back in April seven chicks hatched on one of the islands, these were transferred to a sanctuary here in Nelson to ensure their survival. Sadly one of the chicks died but the remaining six thrived. Now at 10 weeks old they are about to be taken back to their island. Last weekend the sanctuary had a big open day so everyone could go and say goodbye to them. The girls really wanted to go, so we took them up on Sunday. Honestly nothing could have prepared us for the sight of them, they have to be one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. If you could imagine a cross between an owl and a parrot, the size of a rooster with zero coordination you'd be somewhere near! They were truly beautiful and I feel so privileged to have actually seen them up close - And guess what? I didn't take my camera :(

The Kakapo is so rare that all of the 91 living birds have names, check them out here, and this is a link to the Kakapo Recovery Programme, it is a really interesting site, go have a look.

          the art and culture of uncivilisation        
This week The Dark Mountain Project publishes its ninth journal of writing and art. It's the fifth book I've designed and produced as Art Editor with Christian Brett of Bracketpress, aiming to find work that expresses the look and feel of a culture undergoing collapse and transformation.

This volume's visual pages reflect the loose theme of 'The Humbling' and contain some luminous artworks, including Rogan Brown's 'time fossil' paper sculpture, cover artist Rebecca Clark's plant and animal studies and (above) Kate Williamson's visionary New Zealand seascapes. There are also several texts by artists too: Brett Bloom on his immersive practice of Deep Listening, Monique Besten's paper trail walk to Paris summit and  DM regular Robert Leaver's poignant and challenging Hole Earth project. The book's 'Cabinet of Curiosities' begins with the photographic work of Nicholas Hahn & Richard Selesnick in their extraordinary 100 Views of The Drowning World.  

Over these years the aesthetic content of Dark Mountain has changed, but the original purpose I had for the books remains, which is to uncover and celebrate uncivilised art of all genres. In a way of looking back and looking forwards here is a (slightly amended) archive post I wrote when I worked on the first (Issue 5) book. If you would like to hear more about the artists represented in the volumes, some will be joining us at Base Camp this September, so do come along!

seeing through a glass darkly

Those people were some kind of solution ('Waiting for the Barbarians', CF Cavafy)
I'm exploring a territory I have not stepped into before. Maybe none of us have yet. I am not sure if aesthetic is the right word for it, but it's the one that comes to me as I begin a new role as the arts editor for the next Dark Mountain collection, as the editorial crew sift through the material for a fifth volume in a fifth uncivilised year.

 Images form an intrinsic part of the Dark Mountain anthologies - photographs, paintings, drawing and illustration appear in all of them. The books themselves are beautifully and deliberately constructed; handsome hardbacks with covers the colour of damsons and field maple leaves. A physical thing you wouldn't want to throw away. But what about the look and feel of the Dark Mountain Project that extends beyond its text? Is there an aesthetic we share as writers and artists, makers and thinkers? And if so how can we best showcase it within the pages of a book?

The team (that's Em Strang, Nick Hunt, Cate Chapman and myself) are now looking for new visual work for Dark Mountain 10 so this post is an invitation to contribute as well as an exploration. I wanted to talk about aesthetics in a wider context, because, even though I have long rejected the words that once earned me a good living in the city - style, design, fashion, taste - I know the look of things, their shape and form, are as important a part of a new narrative as words. The fact that civilisation holds us so tightly in its unkind embrace is not only because it controls what some call 'industrialised storytelling', but also because it manufactures the images that powerfully and unconsciously distract and misinform us, keep us endlessly looking at the shiny surfaces of what we feel is our cultural reality.

I want to ask: what are the arts of uncivilisation? What happens outside the gallery and the multiplex, what are the barbarian images that might liberate our vision, that bring us home? If we live in a culture that is separated from and in control of what is seen, how can we make an unofficial art created within experience to include dimensions our ordinary attention might miss?

 Behavioural scientists observe that change happens slowly and deliberately over time but artists know it happens in a split second: a chink in the door, a wild unexpected moment that appears before you and for no reason you change lanes. A flash of quicksilver that can transform the dark materials of a whole culture.

When I walked through the trees at the Uncivilisation Festival past sticks arranged in a circle on the ground, people in animal masks, slates hanging from the boughs of a tree, I recognised something that made sense of a long journey I had once made.

A coyote on a television looking across a valley, a hare leaping inside a poem, Rima Staines' Weed Wife covered in flowers on a sheet of oak, Dougie Strang's Charnel House for Roadkill, like an archaic Tardis on the steps of the Glasgow Art Gallery.

Charnel House by Dougie Strang

uncivilising the eye

 I have to tell you a story about the journey. Because that's where this exploration begins. Late '80s,walking down Bond Street, my eye is caught by a room full of vast chunks of stone and a pale suit hanging on the wall - an Anthony D'Offay exhibition of Joseph Beuys' The End of the Twentieth Century. The stones are hewn from basalt, a stone that will form Beuys' perhaps most famous work, the planting of 7,000 oaks in the city of Kassel in Germany.

The suit is made of felt, the material the artist was wrapped in by nomads when his Luftwaffe plane crashed in the snowy wastes of Crimea. Felt and fat saved his life, but they also transformed his life. They became the materials that defined his art. On a video Beuys is telling the world: in the future everyman will be king.

 I could say this was the moment I walked out of galleries and stopped writing copy about Bond Street. Because shortly afterwards I left the city whose high culture I had been steeped in for 35 years. The change happens quickly but it sometimes takes years to thrive in the world without those beautiful clever things that shielded and once defined you.

Cairn 1
Roland Barthes in his elegant deconstruction of the bourgeois mindset, Mythologies, laments how hard it is to forge a culture unbound from a market economy. He points to a painting of a Dutch interior where a wealthy burgher sits surrounded by his possessions. His library, bolts of cloths, furniture. Shipped from all round the world, the goods set a pattern for material desire that has become the stuff of Sunday colour supplements ever since.

This is the art of civilisation. Globalised goods, fetishisation, possession. This is mine, all mine! Houses, horses, naked women, rich and poor, the painter who paints the canvas and the canvas itself. And even when art has rebelled against the pattern in a hundred dexterous and avant-garde moves the painting (or sculpture, or drawing) is still possessed. It is still property, a commodity in the minds and hands of those who could buy it - once the Church and then the collector and the State museum.

Amy Shelton image 2
 What do art and aesthetics look like within the frame of collapse? What does photography look like that is not alienated from its subject? How do we love the world in a time of extinction? I look at my own collapse in order to see what that might mean. Because although I was educated in the dominant culture, there were strains of an uncivilised aesthetic that ran counter to everything I was taught, flowing dangerously beneath the surface like the river Styx. I wrote about the one perfect gleaming designer chair but my eye was always caught by rougher stuff that felt it had content and not just form. Like a linguist in search of a lost language, I would sometimes stumble upon its broken vocabulary.

A circle of driftwood in Derek Jarman's garden, a spiral of stones on a table at Kettle's Yard, a path that led through the tundra, walked by Richard Long.

These were the creative salvage years in London where makers like Tom Binns conjured 'unjewelry' from keys he found in the Thames foreshore or seaglass from his native Donegal; where welders like Tom Dixon made furniture from scrap metal. Post-punk warehouse years before corporate style had taken hold, when the original cut of your coat, or tribal marking distinguished you. There were chinks everywhere if you looked.

One of those chinks I went through in Bond Street and found myself in Mexico. To liberate yourself from the mindset, you sometimes have to leave the city that bore you, or crash into another territory entirely.

In Mexico I did not go to museums or churches. I watched market squares and mountains, the colours and the vernacular of places. Later I looked at plants and at dreams. For six years I stopped writing and taking photographs, took out a notebook and studied living forms and the shapes of my imagination. I was uncivilising my eyes: shifting my attention, away from an aesthetic moulded by the hard lines of Balenciaga and Mondrian and Diane Arbus. I learned not to be enticed by the siren images, the fairy world of haute couture and Hollywood.

I learned to wait in the long American afternoons, for the slow and deep and resonant thing to appear.  

Architectural details in Karl Blossfeld studies of seeds and leaf; Eliot Porter's portraits of the boojams and elephant gums in the desert landscape of Baja California.

It was as if I had never paid attention before to the world. These glimpses became the main track: images that were archaic and aboriginal, that spoke of trees and elements and beasts and weather, that linked the people to the dreaming of the planet. The rough beauty of the woodcut, the mythic fairytale, rock and cave painting, the shapes that follow the contours of the earth. The art that invites us to engage and remember, rather than possess and to forget. To ask questions rather than feel superior with our great knowledge of paintings and history.

Although I did not go to exhbitions in these years, I met artists. I met scultors and painters who lived in Bogota and the Arizona desert. I met the Slovenian peformance artist, Marko Modic, on his way back north from Tierra del Fuego where he had travelled alone with a dog and a camera. Marko was an extreme caver and mountaineer and he brought that wildness and strangeness into every room he entered. And that's when I realised that the buying and showing was not the true function of art. It was the practice of the artist themselves: their capacity to live against the grain, the shape they made, the line they took.

corn dolly

  From them I learned that the ancestors do not look like the gods. That barbarians do not speak in perfect prose. All artists wait for Prometheus to arrive with his firebrand to lighten a darkened world. The best of them know that time is a gift, not a curse, and that waiting is part of the art. That all paths lead inevitably away from Rome.

The artist is the one who can find the chink in the door and allow us to push it open. In a fixed and atrophied world they act as strange attractors bringing chaos and freedom and new life. Their work and their practice break dimensions in time and space, throw wild seeds into monocultures. In a disconnected world they bring connection. And sometimes they bring us back.

Following the track of the coyote

There is a moment of return and that too comes as a surprise. I am in the Museum of East Anglian Life, at an event called What if . . . . the seas keep rising? As the director of nef and a woman advisor from Natural England talk about climate change and what this might mean to the marshlands and coastline of Suffolk, there is a photograph on the wall that has transfixed me. It's by the sculptor, Laurence Edwards. Two men with long poles are taking clay giants on a raft down the river Ore. These are the Creek Men, the beings of these waterlands that have emerged from the landscape, from the artist's imagination and from his hands. I can't stop looking at that image. Like an anchor among a babble of voices that I will not remember, it was an image of belonging that made sense of everything.

I realise now what grabbed me was something that Mexico taught me years ago. At some point the ancestors return and reclaim the earth. All civilisations which ignore their original blueprint live out the consequences of that defection. And whether you understand 'the ancestors' as the primordial forces that govern this planet, or a part of yourself that makes sense of everything, to which you are loyal in spite of your upbringing, they are always here: we just have to see and feel them. Make space for them in paper and stone, in a corner of our tidy lives. In that journey I understood that artists are the ones that remember the tracks those ancestors made in the beginning. Those shapes and colours appear in dreams and on canvas, and artists follow them, in the cities and on the seashore, walking across the land, reminding all of us who watch them of the way back. And when the rational world seems to make less and less sense, becomes more and more incoherent, so it is that the artists come with their intelligence and their wit, their delicate brushstrokes, the rivermud under their fingernails, their mask and their surprise to push the door.

It is my hope as the new 'curator' of the Dark Mountain pages dedicated to visual content, that we will be able to publish some of those uncivilised shapes and colours, lines and images. We are now open for submsissions for original work (paintings, drawing, photography) for the next volume (Dark Mountain 10). Please look at the submission guidelines for details and send your work to Deadline is 31st May.

Images and artists: A Soft Rain by Kate Williamson; Hole Earth (Montana) by Robert Leaver; Laurence Edwards with Creek Man, Butley Creek, Suffolk; The Visitors by Rima Staines; Cayton Bay, Scarbourough by Phlegm; Honeyscribe by Amy Shelton; Corn mask 1 by Anne-Marie Culhane; Cairn for Lost Species by Andreas Kornevall (Book 4); Walk of Seven Cairns by Richard Long; High Water Mark by Laurence Lord (Book 2);cover for Dark Mountain 9, The Family Tree by Rebecca Clark

Article originally published by Dark Mountain Project

          Blog Post: Insomniac Games Is Home From War        

For the better part of a decade, Insomniac entrenched itself in war stories for its new console universes, taking players to the brink of extinction in Resistance, and to the race for resources in Fuse. Prior to creating these gritty experiences, Insomniac’s fingerprint was colorful, cheerful, and used to forge Spyro the Dragon, a coming-of-age tale set in a magical kingdom, and Ratchet & Clank, a journey into deep space that puts as much focus on the bond of friendship as it does blowing the living crap out of every evildoer in the galaxy. [Excerpt]

Insomniac comes full circle with Sunset Overdrive. It’s vibrant, fun, and though it occasionally waves a stern finger at corporations and pressing issues of the day, jokes always come first. I don’t think one story moment is free of a punchline or sight gag.

The humor is entertaining, but the unconventional concoction of gameplay is the heart of Sunset Overdrive. On the one hand, it plays out like your typical super hero game, where city traversal is the backbone of most of the action. On the other hand, it’s a shooter, placing heavy emphasis on skillful running and gunning. On an unexpected third mutant hand, it’s a sprawling collect-a-thon, pushing players to hunt for hundreds and hundreds of hidden goodies spread across Sunset City’s colorful architecture.

Although Sunset City is mostly painted in bright tones – almost looking like a set from Sesame Street – the atmosphere that hangs over it is that of death. You won’t see people driving to work or mingling on the sidewalks; most of them are dead or worse. But it wasn’t always this way.

Set in the year 2027, the story kicks off with a different vision of the city – alive, noisy, and showing people congregating in floods for the outdoor launch party of a new energy drink called Overcharge Delirium XT. With the music pumping and the dance floor swimming, we see people downing this vibrant orange drink, clearly loving its taste and the festivities surrounding it. The fun doesn’t last long, however. Fizzco, the company behind Overcharge, didn’t test its beverage on humans before rushing it to market. Within seconds, every person who consumes a drop of this carbonated fluid mutates into a vile beast – kicking off a world-ending apocalypse. These mutants (called ODs) are obsessed with Overcharge, much like zombies hungering for human brains. They’ll do anything to get more of it.

The player-created character, a down-on-their-luck nobody, becomes the unlikely ray of hope that can bring humanity back to prosperity. Much like Marvel’s loudmouth mercenary, Deadpool, this character (who you create as a male or female in whatever image you can dream up) is a nonstop joke generator – and a pretty damn good one. The hero occasionally leans a little too heavily on profanity for emphasis, but is mostly successful in upping the humor and ridiculousness of a particular moment. Time and time again, Insomniac shows us that nothing is off limits for a joke. The death of a loved one, politics, focus testing – the fourth wall is even broken to poke fun at video games.

The humor and gameplay coalesce in a workable way that makes cruising across Sunset City one of the most approachable and enjoyable experiences I’ve had in an open-world game.

City traversal delivers an addictive, Zen-like quality that harks back to the glory days of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and the thrill of chaining together the biggest combos possible. The protagonist isn’t super-powered, but just happens to be one of the most aggressively nimble characters to step foot in an open-world environment. Possessing the gift of a 10-foot vertical and the ability to free-run along any building exterior and grind on any rail, exploration is almost effortless for this oddball lead.

I rarely used fast travel to navigate the city’s three boroughs. I immersed myself in creating massive chains linking together rail grinds, wall runs, pole swings, air dashes, and bounce maneuvers. The game rewards the time commitment well; every action accumulates experience through use, eventually culminating in badges that enhance the character’s passive skills.

The controls, while sounding complicated, are surprisingly simple in design, linking most of these actions with one button press. However, skill is required to nail the timing, and plot combo paths. It’s easy to create miles worth of combos without ever touching the ground.

Sunset City itself is the key to making this work, as almost every object – be it a bush, awning, power line, air vent, or car – can lead to a grind, bounce, or combo-extending maneuver. The city is teeming with beautiful details, but its most impressive quality is the strategic cluttering of interactive objects that feed into combo strings.

Chains aren’t compromised solely of free-running techniques; combat is beautifully woven into them, making precision gunplay while zipping along a high wire easy to execute. From the silly weapon designs to melee strikes cracking open boxes, the influence of Ratchet & Clank is undeniable in battle, and that’s okay. Ratchet’s gunplay has always worked well, and its inspiration feels right at home in Sunset Overdrive.


Most of the armaments are designed for close-range mayhem and against large hordes of OD, but a few firearms open up strategies or have a high risk-reward tied to their usage. One gun, Captain Ahab, creates a pool of Overcharge that lures ODs away from your location. Another arm, Fizzco’s Charge Beam, deals plenty of damage, but takes a few seconds to fire up. The weapons selection is diverse, and all of them are fun to use in their own right. And again, players are rewarded well for putting in time, as all firearms gain levels through use and can be modified with a wide variety of amps (devastating modifiers that are unleashed when the combo meter rises). This is where you see Insomniac’s gift for inventive death-dealing; you turn downed foes into explosive teddy bears, summon a reaper, and electrify nearby rails.

Amps are tied directly to the third activity: collecting. For whatever reason, the store owners in Sunset Overdrive trade these powerful mods for stinky shoes, toilet paper, neon signs, surveillance cameras, and inflatable Fizzco balloons. Here’s the kicker: There are 150 of each of these collectibles, and all of them act as independent forms of currency. An amp that generates fire area effects costs 55 pieces of toilet paper.
If this lot of junk isn’t enough to find, the city contains 40 tagging opportunities, nine eavesdropping locations, 20 scenic binocular views, 40 collectible smart phones, 25 emergency supply drops, and 25 blimps. The hunt for collectibles may sound daunting, but I was stumbling over them left and right, and had a blast scaling skyscrapers and scouring the city to nab them.

Some amps, weapons, and collectible pieces of clothing (of which there are hundreds) are rewarded at the end of missions. Humor plays a large role in making most of these tasks fun, but Sunset Overdrive’s biggest problem (which it even harps on) is its reliance on fetch quests. All too often, the assignment is to find three or five objects in a set location. While I like that I had to look high and low to find them, it starts to get tedious. The best missions veer away from this crutch and focus on one-off instances such as battling a Fizzco balloon, helping a LARPing community seize control of a kingdom, or becoming a part of an RPG quest. The Night Defense and ring-based challenges are also excellent.

Cooperative multiplayer is integrated directly into the campaign. Stepping into a photo-booth matches your character with seven others for Chaos Squad, a series of missions that culminate in a Night Defense battle. The more chaos caused in the missions translates into increased difficulty of the Night Defense encounter, in turn producing greater rewards (like currency and clothing). Cooperatively battling the OD can be a bit overwhelming given the insanity erupting onscreen, but it is satisfying to lock down the perimeter with a group. I enjoyed my time with Chaos Squad, but it didn’t have the deep hooks to keep me engaged. I’d much rather spend my time cruising across the city collecting goodies.

Outside of the mission monotony, Sunset Overdrive is an immensely rewarding experience that has a look and style all its own and a great gameplay package to complement it. It’s a colorful return to form for Insomniac games, and a hell of an exclusive for Xbox One.

          Sci-Fi Romance Alert: PANDORA’S PROMISE by Kathryn Lance        

Via the SFWA New Release newsletter, I learned about a science fiction romance called PANDORA’S PROMISE by Kathryn Lance. It’s the final installment of a trilogy. Here’s the cover and blurb so you can learn more:

Pandora’s Promise, the long-awaited conclusion to the trilogy that began with the award-winning novel Pandora’s Genes, takes place in a world 100 years after a recombinant-DNA disaster destroyed all oil-based technology and caused widespread mutations. Due to an inherited genetic disease, the human race seems doomed to extinction. In this dangerous setting, Evvy, the brilliant young scientist trying to save humanity, sets out on a perilous quest, while Zach, the poet-warrior and Evvy’s self-exiled soul mate, encounters deadly challenges and surprising allies among disparate human and animal societies, including empathic elephants who roam the Great Plains. Unknowingly, both Zach and Evvy follow clues to the mysterious Eye–a source of hope? Of oblivion? Or merely a myth? Will time run out before they find the Eye--and each other?

You can follow Kathryn Lance on Twitter: @AZFREELANCE

Happy reading!
Joyfully yours,

          Reply #1785        
The $500 wins on the $20 Tickets have become endangered of extinction .I personally haven't seen a $500 win in months. Just checking in. Congrats to all the recent winners.

BTW I heard in the news the Florida lottery Chief Stepped down - It looks like she was spending our $500 wins on Vacations and Travel.

Search Google for the news article.
          The Sun Herald's Review of Paddling the Pascagoula        
Posted in the Biloxi Sun Herald on Sun, Jan. 15, 2006

Unfettered, a river flows... Canoe, kayak and characters


Paddling The Pascagoula; By Ernest Herndon and Scott B. Williams; University Press of Mississippi; ISBN 1-57806-714-6; $20

When I mentioned I was reviewing this book to a representative of the publisher, she commented that release of the book was untimely considering all that has happened on the Coast. I told her I disagreed completely.

As we all work to reclaim and protect what we had pre-Katrina, it is easy to overlook our natural resources. They, too, were altered, as was the Pascagoula River basin. Our man-made structures, roads, buildings, bridges and casinos, as important as they are, have almost exclusive claim to the spotlight.

In "Paddling The Pascagoula," Herndon and Williams traveled the entire length of the Pascagoula River in canoe and kayak. Herndon began on the Leaf tributary, Williams on the Chickasawhay, and they met where the tributaries join the Pascagoula River and floated together to the Gulf of Mexico. Each authored separate sections of the book.

Many characters were encountered along the way, occasionally the two-legged variety. Williams ran across a Cottonmouth snake 5- to 6-feet long and "as big around as a man's leg." Soon afterward, a huge alligator snapping turtle was spotted, a "loggerhead" to the locals, and then a wild turkey, "a bearded gobbler."

Herndon comes across an ancient fishweir on the Leaf River. A fishweir, illegal in Mississippi as of 1922, is "a V-shaped dam with an opening for a trap at the downstream apex of the V." The Fishtrap Bluff Fishweir is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Though both writers floated days without seeing another human, Herndon did face questioning over why he chose a particular sandbar for overnight camp from a man with "a gentleman-farmer look: straw derby hat, white hair, spectacles, pale blue shirt buttoned to the throat and tucked into pleated khaki pants, brown loafers... He launched into a string of polite but unrelenting questions."

This was Federal Judge Charles Pickering, owner of the sandbar and the land surrounding. Satisfied the overnight stay was legitimate, Pickering warmed into an explanation of "grabbing, hand grabbing, and noodling." He was not referring to the antics of plaintiff attorneys in his courtroom, but rather the trapping and retrieving of fish from hollow logs or holes in the bank. Pickering recounted how as a child he "retrieved a 48-pound catfish out of that hollow log." He is a principled federal judge, and we must believe him about the weight of the fish.

Herndon, a journalist, writes in a style close to his profession. He declaims early on, "If you see an adjective, kill it!" His description of flora and fauna are undoubtedly accurate, but at times I wanted to ask, "but how did all of this untouched beauty make you feel?"

Williams, on the other hand, is more conversational and anecdotal.
Neither writing style is more appropriate than the other. It is simply a matter of personal preference.

In their separate reports, a good-natured ribbing brings a few smiles to the tale of this journey, unusual for a travelogue in nature, but a pleasant addition to this narrative. Herndon on Williams' choice of a kayak: "why would anyone would bring an Eskimo hunting vessel to float a Deep South river, unless Southern customs aren't good enough for them maybe?" Williams on Herndon's use of a canoe: "Ernest, on the other hand, like some less-adaptable and long-extinct offshoot branch of early man, has shown no reason to change or evolve in his boating pursuits."

The Pascagoula River is the last major river in the continental United States essentially unaltered by humans. It belongs to us here in Mississippi. In December 2005, Governor Barbour recognized the need to protect our marine resources on the Coast, including the Pascagoula River, with the introduction of a $7.5 billion Mississippi Coast Environmental Restoration Initiative. "Paddling The Pascagoula" is a strong argument for the legislation and an enjoyable and enlightening read.

Scott Naugle is a free-lance writer living in Pass Christian. He is also owner of Pass Christian Books.
          The Colourful World of Lambanis        
Mangyamma - Lost in her kangura work
Bent over a red cloth, the old lady moved her fingers with precision. When I started to click her, she burrowed herself deeper into the cloth, not looking up even once. A smile from her seemed unattainable. Her fingers moved meticulously twisting a bright white thread around a mirror and fixing the duo on the cloth. Finally, after a persisting few minutes, she looked up and grinned, flashing her once white teeth. For the next hour, I sat and asked her about the craft, her unique jewellery and the journey fro
m Marwar in Rajasthan to Sandur, 40 km from Hampi.

Mangyamma had arrived here with a small troupe of other banjaras (Lambanis) as a young girl – so young that her memory fails to recollect the exact events of the trip. All she remembers is stopping in various villages, by the road, setting up their tents and thick grey smoke rising up from makeshift stoves fed with firewood. Her grandmother and mother took turns to the house (well, temporary tent) chores and embellish bits of cloth with mirror shapes and colourful threads. Bits of hair on each side of their head were held together by an elaborate silver clip – something she loved and has continued to fashion it herself till date. The design language was passed on for generations and new motifs and styles were added as the nomadic group moved from town to town. Darned and stitched with a dash of mirrors and applique work, this ‘Kangura’ piece was then sold to tourists or shops along the way. , Finally, it was Karnataka where the family came and settled down, abandoning the nomadic lifestyle. Others from Marwar were already settled here and in the Northern parts of the new state.

Growing up, Mangyamma and her sisters continued with the art of Kangura, producing a number of goods like bags, belts and skirts. The foreign tourists who visited Hampi seemed to love them. Many years later, when the Sandur Manganese and Iron Ores Ltd (SIMORE) owners started the Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra, many women from the village urged the husbands to move closer to the establishment for employment. Initially a handful of women were asked to produce the colourful patterns. Now, Mangyamma is one of the many who sit against the rust wall of the Kendra and create magical designs; these reach not only stores in India but all around the world.

Awestruck by the speed and aesthetics of the design that has taken shape over the last hour, I ask her if she has passed on the knowledge to her kin. That’s the only time she lifts her tattooed chin to tell me that the young women have taken to new ways of making money. There is no admonishment in her voice – just a sombre reality that if the younger generation does not pick it up soon, the wonderful craft of the Lambani will soon be on its way to extinction.

Access the Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra from Shivavilas Palace. 070220 13180;

          FSM NEWS        

FSM video  picks + 2012 site


· Has the White House been caught in a web of Benghazi (Libya) lies? Plot thickens over edited talking points and what was in President's daily briefings.


· FOX News reporter runs for cover at Israeli school targeted by Hamas rocket


· MEDIA WATCH: CBS - Bob Schieffer: Not Sure Benghazi, Libya Was Terrorism

greg gutfeld _FOX the five

· FOX's Greg Gutfeld: Obama Admin Suffering From 'Wordaphobia' regarding Libya

benghazi cover-up_LARGE

· Gov't agencies trying to hide controversial communications? Obama administration's transparency called into question

breaking news light

· AP Reporter Slams State Department For Silence On Israel


· Israel's 'Iron Dome' missile defense system working? Terror analyst Erick Stakelbeck weighs in


· IL Gov. Employs Cartoon Python, 'Squeezy,' to Explain Public Pension Crisis


· Rep. Allen West: It's About Getting Votes Counted Correctly

In Case You Missed It

· MSNBC Anchor Tells Israeli Ambassador Hamas Rockets ‘Rarely Do Damage'

· Congressman: Obama Can't Utter the Words 'Muslim Terrorist Attack' (Libya)

· Students welcome soldier back through song - Special assembly for classmate's father

· Israel and Hamas exchange rocket fire for fifth straight day

· Bill Maher Tells Sean Hannity to Commit Suicide (Warning:Vulgar Language)

· Thousands to Video TSA Pat Downs in Protest

· Based on the classic essay by Leonard Read, a beautiful production from the Competitive Enterprise Institute explaining how the market works to create a simple pencil

· How Campus Censorship Is Ending the American Debate

· BREAKING: Petraeus Said CIA's Talking Points on Libya Were Play Down Terrorism

paper doll cut outs - your contribution means alot


What+the+(Bleep)+Just+Happened crowley

Read Contributing Editor J. Christian Adams' SHOCKING new book! Buy it here


FSM Must Reads + 2012 site

Obama hides terror truth - Benghazi (LIBYA)

breaking news light
Until Friday, there were two possible explanations for why the White House failed to immediately call the Benghazi attack an act of terrorism. One was incompetence, the other was worse.
diplomomats-murdered_libya 2012

How's That Obamacare Waiver Workin' Out for Ya?

The Obamacare waiver winner's club now totals 2,000. Where are they now?

Obama's Benghazi blues

We don't have all the details of former CIA Director Petraeus' testimony to congressional Intelligence Committees, but it looks like the American people were grossly misled about the Benghazi attack.

must read

8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education

Almost all of our Founding Fathers, the most brilliant authors and orators of all time, were home-schooled.

NOT the Little Mosque on the Prairie

When Islamic advocate Ahmed Bedier traveled to Santa Clara County a few months ago to lend support for a proposed Islamic center, he declared that opposition to the mosque was "Islamophobic" in nature.

California Parole Violators Get a Pass

The California Dept. of Corrections announced it planned to begin a review of more than 9,200 outstanding arrest warrants of parole violators to determine if pursuing these convicted felons would be in the "interest of justice."

A Moment of Truth in Israel

Seven years ago the Israeli government decided to forcibly evict the Jewish residents of Gaza and withdraw all bases and forces from the area.

Ambassador Rice, Designated Non-Expert on Benghazi

Finally, President Obama has confirmed it was specifically "at the request of the White House" that on the Sunday after the Sept. 11 terrorist onslaught in Benghazi, Susan Rice, appeared as the face of his administration on five TV news talk shows to discuss this debacle.

Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?

Having the American Ambassador in Benghazi with no American security guards, poorly-trained, largely unarmed, and possibly Islamist-if not-al-Qaeda supportive Libyan security personnel, and no real secure consulate, is nothing short of scandalous.

Tehran, the Terror Capitol of the World

The attacks on Israel were ordered by Khamenei and the support for Syria's dictator Bashar Assad come from Khamenei.

Rep. Allen West Fights On amid Vote-Recount Mayhem

Florida's election procedures are - still - a disaster in the making.


Rockets? What Hamas Rockets?

Violence between Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian terrorist organizations in Gaza this week is prompting the usual outcry from Islamist groups in America and abroad.

Did you know that if everyone who visited our FSM website this year donated just $1, we would easily exceed our annual budget?

Your gift will be an investment in freedom.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, The Family Security Foundation relies upon the thoughtfulness and (tax-deductible!) generosity of visitors like you.

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          READER LETTER: Stick and flick is bad idea - dog owners should take care of mess        
A recent report tells us of the need to prevent nitrogen compounds from vehicle exhausts and agricultural run-off from encouraging the growth of nettles and other ‘thug-like weeds’ that will lead to the extinction of rarer types of wild flowers.
          33 Fun Activities in Singapore for Families on Last Weekend of June Holidays        
WHAT? Is the last weekend of the June School Holidays really upon us???

Time truly flies, huh? Fortunately, it is also the Hari Raya Puasa long weekend which softens the blow... somewhat. At least school (and work) starts on Tuesday! So what are you waiting for? Make the best use of this weekend for one last round of fun with the kiddos!


Dreamworks Day
24 Jun 2017; 4pm - 8pm
Gardens by the Bay, Bay East Gardens
$25 Carnival Ticket | $45 800M Kids Dash | $55 5KM Fun Run

For the first time in Singapore, be part of the first ever DreamWorks Run! Come meet the colourful cast of Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon and Madagascar at DreamWorks Day. There will be a DreamWorks themed carnival filled with games, activities, food and beverages, and also a Fun Run which will see participants cover a 800 meters (Kids Dash) or 5 kilometers route along some of Singapore’s iconic landmarks. For more information, visit

MEGA FUN at Sentosa 2017
Now until 25 Jun 2017
Island admission applies

Fun at Palawan Beach
22 – 25 Jun 2017; 10am – 7pm 
Palawan Beach 

Take a plunge down the Mega Ball Pool, dip into a pool of overflowing foam, or simply relax and bond with your loved ones by the beach. Also check out the iconic Palawan Pirate Ship play area, which has gushing fountains, slides and a pirate-head which sends huge bucket of water down.

Mega play area includes, Discovery Box, Bounce House, Ultimate Slide, Ninja Run, Horizontal Slide, Kids Maze, Balancing Beam, Cliff Jump, Traversing Wall, Foam Pool, Mega Ball Pool and more!

Bubble Performance
22 – 25 Jun 2017; 3pm & 5pm
Palawan Beach

Delight in a bubble performance made up of lights, colours and bubble art. Be wowed as the bubbleologist brings you into the wonderful world of bubbles!

Movies by the Beach
22 - 25 Jun 2017; 7.30pm
Palawan Green

22 June – Star Trek Beyond
23 June – Fast and Furious 6
24 June – Transformers: Age of Extinction
25 June - Everest


Children's Season Singapore 2017
Now until 25 Jun 2017
Various Dates & Various Timings
Various National Heritage Board and Museum Roundtable museums

The National Heritage Board’s annual Children’s Season Singapore returns in 2017, presenting cultural and educational experiences that will inspire, engage and educate our young audience. This year’s edition goes beyond museums and will encompass all aspects of art, culture, heritage and education. With a wide range of programmes, exhibitions and engaging family activities for children of all ages, Singapore will be the place to be for children and families to create special memories together this June! For more details, visit

Children's Biennale 2017
Now until 8 Oct 2017
National Gallery Singapore
FREE for Singaporeans & PRs

Themed “Dreams & Stories,” the first edition of Gallery Children’s Biennale invites the inner child in each of us to embark on a creative journey. Explore the world through the eyes of nine artists from Singapore and beyond: Chng Seok Tin, Mark Justiniani, Yayoi Kusama, Vincent Leow, Lynn Lu, teamLab, Tran Trong Vu, Ian Woo and Robert Zhao. For more details, visit HERE.


Geylang Serai Hari Raya Bazaar 2017
Now until 24 Jun 2017; 3pm to late
Geylang Serai market, Joo Chiat Complex and along Haig Road

Flock to the annual food market to binge on Ramly burgers, otah-otah and other sinful street snacks like colourful concoctions of rainbow ice cream and drinks! There are also plenty of activities held in conjunction with the market, such as free movie screenings, gigs, a pop-up museum and kiddy rides.

Weekends in the Park @ Parkland Green
24 Jun 2017; 8am - 8pm
East Coast Park, Parkland Green

Chalk & Win Contest on 24 June 2017
Time: 8am- 8pm 
Ready to unleash your creativity? Grab some free chalk from any Parkland Green outlet and doodle on any of the corridor pavements. The most creative or original chalk art pieces can stand to win a HvperSport Scooter (worth $229) and a Kebab Station Voucher (worth $50)!

- Grab some chalk from any Parkland Green outlets
- Draw on any of the corridor pavements
- Share a photo of your chalk art piece on Facebook or Instagram between 8am to 8 pm on 24 June (Remember to make your account public)
- Hashtag #ParklandGreen

Active Games (By PlaystreetsSg)
Time: 4pm - 7pm 
Calling all families! For three hours only, try your hand at many interactive and unique games at Parkland Green.

Outdoor Movie Drive-in
24 Jun 2017
2pm onwards; Movie starts after 7pm
Field outside White Sands
$10 per vehicle
Picnic area: $6 per adult & $4 per child

Always wished you could live the old, nostalgic days of movie drive-ins? Wish no more, and join in for an evening with Kong: Skull Island displayed on windscreen in the fresh air at Whire Sands, with free-flow popcorn and candy floss. Pets are welcome too!

Go earlier for a series of sporting fun - bouncy castles, inflatable rock climbing stations and mini games before the movie starts.

Istana Open House
25 Jun 2017; 8.30am - 6pm
Istana (Entrance to the Istana grounds is via the main gate at Orchard Road)
FREE for Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents. 
Other visitors are required to pay an entrance fee of $2 per person.

There will be a variety of performances on the grounds during the Open House. For an entrance fee of $2, visitors could tour selected function rooms in the Istana building and view a special display of gifts presented to the President and the Prime Minister. There are also guided tours of the Istana building, conducted by the Preservation of Sites and Monuments (PSM) volunteers. Istana souvenirs are also sold at the Open House. All proceeds from the sale of the souvenirs and the entrance fees collected are donated to charity.

Uncle Ringo Carnival
Now until 25 Jun 2017; 6pm - 10.30pm daily
Punggol MRT Exit D (Opposite Waterway Point)

RepTopia 2017
Now until 26 Jun 2017; Various Timings
Singapore Zoo
Admission charges apply

An array of remarkable reptiles is set to make their debut at Singapore Zoo this June, with the launch of the aptly-named new reptile exhibit – RepTopia. Over the weekends of 27 May – 26 June, guests are in for a reptile revolution with a spectrum of engaging activities. Discover and appreciate reptiles through a diverse range of activities, including enlightening animal enrichment sessions, reptile-inspired craft activities and costumed charm-eleon meet and greet sessions. For details on activities, visit

So Wow Time Flies!
Now until 26 Jun 2017 (Weekends & 26 Jun only)
Various Timings
Jurong Bird Park
Admission charges apply

Time: 9am – 12pm (3 hours per session)
Venue: Around the Park

Step into the role of a keeper: prepare food for the lories, make enrichment toys, and set up brooders for our baby parrots! This activity is exclusive to Friends of Bird Park and Friends of Wildlife members. Activity fee applies and only for children aged 5 – 8 years old. *Registration is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here for more details.

Time: 10am – 4pm
Venue: Penguin Coast

Kids, get creative and make your own bird-themed crafts to bring home as mementos.

Time: 9am, 11.30am & 1pm
Venue: Penguin Coast

Meet-and-greet with Sunny the mascot and his friends, and pose for pictures with them.

Time: 10.30am & 12.30pm 
Venue: Birdz of Play

Be entertained as you let your imagination fly at our bird-themed puppet show.

Let’s Blaze! Carnival 
Now until 26 June 2017, daily
1pm - 10pm
City Square Mall, Level 1 City Green (Outdoor Park)

Get up to blazing speed with carnival fun and games with Blaze & The Monster Machines! Look out for super fun Truck Rides, Blaze Bouncer, Tyre Playground and more! Let’s blaaaze! Also, don’t miss the special Shimmer & Shine photo area!

Singapore Street Festival 2017
Now until 2 Jul 2017
Various events & timings

The annual Singapore Street Festival (SSF) returns on the 4th of June with an exciting bonanza of activities lined up till the 2nd of July. Themed ‘UNCHARTED But Known’, its 16th anniversary boasts exhilarating acts and impressive art that celebrate the talents of Singapore youth. For more information, visit HERE.


FREE Admission to National Orchid Garden
Now until 25 Jun 2017; 8.30am - 7pm
National Orchid Garden

Enjoy free admission to National Orchid Garden from 21 May to 26 June 2016 for students, local residents and work permit holders.

Blue Beauties @ Gardens by the Bay
Now until 30 Jun 2017; 9am - 9pm
Gardens by the Bay
Admission charges apply

In the year that Gardens by the Bay celebrates its 5th anniversary, a special colour in the Plant Kingdom takes centrestage in Flower Dome. Blue may seem ubiquitous in everyday life, but true spectrum blue is one of the most uncommon colours in plants.

In the “Blue Beauties” floral display, the special quality of blue blooms is celebrated as the flower field is awash in the splendour of this well-loved shade. Flowers cherished for their vivid blue hues like agapanthus, hydrangeas and delphiniums flourish in a French-inspired garden. Set amidst a landscape dotted with a wall trellis, topiaries, a fountain and gazebo, these blue blooms will be complemented by the purple and pink tones of gladiolus, lupins and foxgloves.

Pesta Ubin 2017
Now until 16 July 2017, Various  Dates & Timings
Pulau Ubin

Pesta Ubin is Ubin Open House! Once a year, people who love Ubin step up to share with the public their special slice of Pulau Ubin. Pesta Ubin activities are heartfelt, organic and led by the community. Passionately highlighting Ubin's unique charms, get a taste of the kinder, gentler way of life on Ubin during Pesta Ubin. Many Pesta Ubin activities are free of charge. Some do NOT require registration. Simply come to Pulau Ubin and join the fun! Find a Pesta Ubin activity that suits your schedule and interest at

For this weekend's activities, visit


Meet Pororo
23 & 24 Jun 2017
Fri: 1pm | Sat & Sun: 1pm, 3pm & 5pm
Marina Square, Central Atrium

Get your cameras ready for that long-awaited selfie with Pororo! Limited to the first 50 families per session. Meet & Greet passes will be distributed 20 minutes prior to each session at the atrium.

Minions Meet & Greet
McDonald's Restaurants

23 Jun 2017: 5.30pm - 7pm - Bedok Mall
24 Jun 2017: 10am - 11.3oam - Jurong Central Park
24 Jun 2017: 2pm - 3.30pm - iFly Sentosa
25 Jun 2017: 10am - 11.30am - Causeway Point

Pac-Man Meet & Greet
Now until 25 June 2017; 6pm to 6.30pm
YewTee Point, Level 1 Atrium

Nordic Adventures with Sanrio Characters
Now until 26 Jun 2017
Changi Aiport, T3 Public Area

Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 will be filled with extreme kawaii-ness this June holidays as supercute life-sized Hello Kitty & Friends will be the stars in the month-long showcase, which will feature games, activities, shopping and great prizes to be won.

Fans can also enjoy a taste of the Nordic lifestyle at Terminal 3, where a specially curated showcase will feature famous highlights such as: the Northern Lights in a video display, a Viking ship-inspired gallery and even an indoor snow luge at the Snow Funhouse by Snow City. The Snow Funhouse will be the very first indoor snow experience in the east of Singapore!

Nordic Snow Funhouse by Snow City
Dates: 26 May – 26 June 2017
Opening Times: 12pm – 10pm daily (approx. 30 min timeslots; last admission at 9.30pm)
Location: Opposite Check-in Row 11
Entry Requirements: $60 in max 2 sameday receipts (S$80 for supermarket purchases) entitles 1 pass admitting two ticket-holders to Snow Fun House

Sanrio Weekend Meet & Greet Sessions
Dates: Every weekend (Sat and Sun) from 26 May to 26 June 2017
Opening Times: 2pm and 7pm
Location: Terminal 3, Public, Departure Hall Level 2 (Near Skytrain platform to Terminal 1)
Entry Requirements: spend a total of $60 at Changi Airport on the same day (with a maximum of 2 receipts), or spend $80 at the supermarket to redeem a Meet & Greet pass. Each Meet & Greet pass admits up to 4 persons for 1 photography shoot. Limited to first 40 redemptions per session.

Meet & Greet Schedule:
24-25 Jun: Hello Kitty

Meet & Greet Spider-Man
23 - 26 Jun 2017: 1pm & 3pm (Timings updated!)
NEX Mall, Atrium L1


Play-Doh Adventure Trails
Now until 25 Jun 2017
Tanglin Mall

School's Out! Go Wild! Unleash your imagination as you get creative with your favourite animal friends and Play-Doh this June Holiday at  Tanglin Mall! Highlights of the event include the wilderness inflatable, Play-Doh animal sculptures workshops, Dohs-Dohs meet & greet, storytelling by award-winning storyteller Roger Jenkins as well as fringe activities like balloon sculpting workshops. Bring your family down for a day of fun and shopping!

Meet the Doh-Dohs
Tanglin Mall: 17, 18, 24 & 25 Jun 2017 - 3pm

KidZPop PlayFest
United Square Shopping Mall: 23-25 Jun 2017; 11am - 9pm

Paddle Pop, KidZania Singapore and the Health Promotion Board will be hosting KidZPop PlayFest, a three-week long series of roadshows for parents and kids to learn about healthier snacking habits through fun games and activities.

Take part in larger-than-life games such as ‘Snacks and Ladder’, ‘Calorie Tag’ and make your own Paddle Pop ice-cream at the KidZania Singapore booth. There will also be stage games to win limited edition merchandise, Meet & Greet opportunities with the Paddle Pop lion and KidZania RightZKeeper Urbano, song-and-dance segments, and sampling of Paddle Pop’s latest Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) certified Twister Fruity ice cream so there’s something for everyone!

Play Mania!
19 - 25 Jun 2017: Sembawang Shopping Centre, Atrium L1
11am - 9pm

With a variety of virtual reality and old school carnival games, there is definitely something for everyone!

Westgate Summer Camp 2017
23, 24, 25, 26 Jun 2017
12pm - 8pm
Westgate Mall

Put on your safari hat and get ready for an outdoor adventure at The Courtyard where exciting activities like a mini obstacle course, arcade games and craft workshops await you. Complete all stations to collect our limited edition badges. Spend a min. of $80 (or $60 for American Express CapitaCard) to redeem a Westgate Summer Camp ticket. For more details, visit HERE.

Double Up the Fun