The Prophecy: How prophetic

Sometimes, real life emulates movies, which often emulate real life. Confusing? So are these mutated trout fry, spawned from fish taken from creeks in Idaho, which have been polluted with selenium from the mining operations of the J.R. Simplot Company. Among the fished raised in laboratories, some had deformed tails, deformed faces, or two heads. Some parent fish even laid deformed eggs.

Even more confusing, is that this report was done by the company itself, and it actually concluded that it would be safe to allow selenium, a toxic metal byproduct of mining,  to remain in the streams. The report even stated higher levels of selenium, above what is currently allowed by regulatory law, would be okay too.

You don’t say. I guess dead,  two-headed fish babies are kind of cute.

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Two Cool, but Unrelated Things: AKA; the lazy post.

First off, I’d like to say this: I had no clue who Whitney Houston was. I was pretty sure she was Tina Turner, because every song I thought Houston did was actually done by Tina Turner. What’s the difference anyway, other than one of them is an Iranian spy? They’re both from the same era, both performed some songs, both had abusive men in their life, and both haven’t done anything relevant since the early 90′s.

Onward, to the amphibians, and animation cycles.

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Assholes of the Animal Kingdom: These beetles.

Imagine this; just as you are about to take a bite out of your cheeseburger, it shoots out of your hands, and bites a hole in your neck.

This is pretty much what these beetles do.  Beetles from the Middle East called Epomis circumscriptus and Epomis dejeani. When a frog, other amphibian, or lizard comes to eat them, they jump out of the way, latch on,and go to town. Even the beetle larva, which I can understand, because I know anything that looks like that is bad-ass. Apparently they even entice their prey to try and eat them. Apparently they can get swallowed, sit in a frog-gut for an hour, get regurgitated, and proceed to eat what just ate them.

They remind me of the predaceous diving beetle larva from the seasonal pond down the road I used to keep in jars in my basement. They ate everything they could get their little scyth-like jaws on. It didn’t matter how big it was. I found this out the hard way when I finally found a water scorpion and put it in the same tank as a beetle larva.

Whoops.

The really shocking thing is that the adult beetle does this too. The unassuming looking beetle frickin’ jumps on the would-be predators back and does, something. It is unknown at the time what they do, but the results are always the same. A dead, half-eaten frog.

The Monster is Still in the Closet

Once again we start the year with concerns over nuclear power; this time, the worry is whether or not the Iranians are doing something naughty with their nuclear program. A fresh new batch of economic sanctions on Iran have been imposed, and tensions are rising. Again. People are getting blown up. Threats are being made. Again. There is a a chance the United States may take military action against Iran. Again.

The dangers of nuclear power, as a source of energy, or as a weapon, have haunted us since man found out how to induce nuclear fission. Whether or not the benefits of atomic energy outweigh the dangers have been the subject of endless debate. Most think the majority of the opposition died down in the 80′s. It hasn’t. It never died down. It just got less press coverage as several generations grew up without the constant threat of nuclear war. Even growing up during the final days of the Cold War, it didn’t seem like something real that could really happen. It was movie stuff.

However, as has been demonstrated recently, we’re still scared to death of nuclear power, and who has it. We have good reason to be. It is a thing mankind has created that it cannot overcome.

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2011 Catalog of Colossal Damn Spiders

It is that time of year again; the weather cools, the leaves change, and at night I find giant spiders everywhere.

I can't believe I got this close.

Okay, they aren’t giant, giant. It isn’t as if they’re dropping from the ceiling like the Avondale  spiders (Delena cancerides) in Arachnophobia, either. However, I still have to watch where I’m stepping when I go outside at night and keep an eye on what the dog is messing with.

The dog loves to “fight” them. It is pretty funny, because they “fight” back. The spiders are no more than 1 and 1/2 inches across and he’s 45lbs, yet they can still hold their own against him.

They don’t start showing up slowly, either. The spiders are just suddenly there. The other day, I went outside and saw three of them hanging out on the porch. The other night, there was one in my basement.  Tonight, I found another three.

I don’t know if they’re attracted to the heat, or to the other insects attracted to the heat, but I know what they are. The spiders are some variety of wolf spider. I don’t know which species, specifically, only that they belong to the family Lycosidae. Wolf spiders are ground spiders, and instead of spinning webs, they chase their prey, usually at night. They have good eyesight and are pretty darn fast. Wolf spiders also tend to take care of their young in a way many spiders don’t. The  females carry spiderlings on their back for a period of time after they hatch.

I have seen few things more fascinating and disturbing than a big spider dripping babies waiting for me at the top of the basement staircase.

I also know wolf spiders will attack a pencil if you annoy them long enough, and it will wake you up when one runs across your bare chest at night. It is also extremely funny to see your dog run over to a family member and proudly spit a living, p*ssed off spider into their lap.

Enjoy a few more photos, taken my me.

      

Gone Fishin’

I’m taking the week off to go on the ol’ annual fishing trip. It is probably the best week of the year.

This year, I am going all out to record the crazy shit that usually happens. I’m taking the Flip Video and everything. This will ensure the trip is boring as hell, but it is worth a try.

After all, here’s what happened the first time I want fishing this year.

 

Bodies Human

If you take a cadaver, extract all of the bodily fluids, replace them with plastics and give it a nifty pose, is it art,  science or a sideshow?

Last weekend I visited the Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion exhibit at the Denno’s Museum in Traverse City; one of the many controversial exhibits featuring real human bodies preserved through a process called plastination. The exhibit featured an assortment of full bodies set in different poses, skin removed as to show the muscles beneath. Bodies Human also featured several cross-section “body slices”, as well as individual limbs, organs and other meaty bits.

There were also fetuses in jars; from  0 to 9 months.

We look like frogs.

The brochure for Bodies Human said “The main goal of Bodies Human is to educate the public about the inner workings of the human body, as well as to show the effects of poor health, good health and how various lifestyle choices can affect our health.”. I’m not so sure if it met that goal. I did see a diseased heart and a few sets of lungs I suspected of sneaking off to the boys room for a smoke, but that was it.

The exhibit was pretty interesting from a scientific standpoint anyway. Not many people outside of the medical community get to see actual human parts.  I learned in biology dissecting little animals that the pictures in the books don’t necessarily depict the reality of somethings innards. Bodies Human does a good job of pointing this out. I thought I knew the male reproductive system pretty well, but I was surprised to learn the seminal vesicles, along with the testes, are sheathed in body fat growing seamlessly from belly blubber.

The resin casts of vascular systems floating bodiless in space were pretty neat too.

From what I’ve seen, Bodies Human is one of the more tame of the “bodies” exhibits. Aside from a few odd specimens, the “plastinates” were simply posed as they might have been found in life. Many of the other exhibits, including Body Worlds and Bodies: The Exhibition, feature highly modified “plastinates” of all levels of human anatomy hell, from barely skinned to nearly skeletal and everything in between. Here, it seems like the exhibits are more of a freak show than anything that could be very instructive.

When I first went to see the exhibit, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about looking at actual human bodies, which once housed actual people with actual lives. However, I found it surprisingly easy to forget about that. Maybe it was because people don’t normally walk around without skin or faces. The best analogy I can give is the “plastinates” look like the preserved bread used in bakery displays; it is real bread, but it doesn’t seem real.

The other part of the actual human thing is the origin of the bodies has always been a bit suspect in these exhibits. The original “body” exhibit, Body Worlds, is the only one I know that can actually verify the bodies were donated willingly. The rest of the exhibits, including Bodies Human, get theirs from suppliers somewhere in China or Taiwan. Many a article or investigative news show have looked into the Asian cadaver trade and their links to these types of exhibits. Many people find the exhibits appalling for this reason alone, not to mention religious or social taboos.

I honestly would probably still visit the exhibits, even if they were not made from actual people. Maybe it’s sideshow appeal, or maybe I’ve got a serious case of morbid curiosity. I would love to see the “three headed” camel, or a guy’s body separating while riding a skinless  horse.

Stupid Ideas IN SPACE!

I have a great idea; lets enshroud the Earth with a fine metallic dust!

The folks at the Navel Research Laboratory think it is a good idea too, as a way of cleaning up the smaller particles of space junk accumulating around the planet that cant be shot down with lasers or pushed into a decaying orbit like dead satellites, ejected telescope lenses, spaceship parts and the occasional space whale carcass  can.

Humans; the gross neighbors of the cosmos.

The concept is pretty simple, release about 20 tons of tungsten dust into the orbit at about 680 miles up. Over several decades, the super-dense metal will drag these smaller particles down.

Easy!

Of course, there are some objections. People worry what the magic dust cloud will do to functioning equipment or spacecraft passing through. The geniuses behind the idea say telescopes and satellites can be positioned to avoid the dust and the 30 micrometer particles wouldn’t be able to penetrate thermal blanketing. Who knows what else the tungsten might do to communications or the view of space from earth.

I’m sure there would be other un-intended side-effects too, like enshrouding the earth in f*cking tungsten dust.

If we put tungsten IN SPACE, I would much rather see it used to blow the bejesus out of things using kinetic energy. A while back, somebody at Boeing realized tungsten rods, ranging from the size of a crowbar to a telephone pole, would make great weapons if launched at a target FROM SPACE. Called kinetic bombardment (nicknamed “Rods from God”), the largest of the projectiles would have the impact of a small tactical nuke, minus the annoying radiation.

The upside; these weapons are not covered in any sort of treaty or convention, so we could do whatever the heck we want with them. The downside;  getting just one poles-sized rod into orbit would take about six of our most powerful rockets.

Some already claim this cleaning project is just a back door way of getting clearance for tungsten weapons testing. Great. I love the idea of being able to destroy a whole city, but I hate radiation. It makes conquering the native women less appealing.

In the meantime, I’m not so hot on the idea of putting the sh*t in our orbit to neutralize the sh*t in our orbit.

Lets stick with lasers, for now.