Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

One of the most successful human species to ever walk the planet, longevity-wise, was Homo erectus; they were around for about a million and a half years, with almost no changes in their physical form or toolkit.  And, it may have been that failure to change that resulted in their extinction.  Excerpt:

New archaeological research from The Australian National University (ANU) has found that Homo erectus, an extinct species of primitive humans, went extinct in part because they were ‘lazy’.

An archaeological excavation of ancient human populations in the Arabian Peninsula during the Early Stone Age, found that Homo erectus used ‘least-effort strategies’ for making and collecting resources.

This ‘laziness’ paired with an inability to adapt to a changing climate likely played a role in the species going extinct, according to lead researcher Dr. Ceri Shipton of the ANU School of Culture, History and Language.

“They really don’t seem to have been pushing themselves,” Dr. Shipton said.

“I don’t get the sense they were explorers looking over the horizon. They didn’t have that same sense of wonder that we have.”

Dr. Shipton said this was evident in the way the species made their and collected resources.

“To make their stone tools they would use whatever rocks they could find lying around their camp, which were mostly of comparatively low quality to what later stone tool makers used,” he said.

“At the site we looked at there was a big rocky outcrop of quality stone just a short distance away up a small hill.

“But rather than walk up the hill they would just use whatever bits had rolled down and were lying at the bottom.

“When we looked at the rocky outcrop there were no signs of any activity, no artefacts and no quarrying of the stone.

“They knew it was there, but because they had enough adequate resources they seem to have thought, ‘why bother?'”.

A more adaptable human.

This is in contrast to the stone tool makers of later periods, including early Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, who were climbing mountains to find good quality and transporting it over long distances.

Here’s the catch; it’s not really a good idea to look at primitive humans like H. erectus and evaluate their behavior by our standards.  Most paleoanthropologists agree, due to analysis of skulls and brain cases, that erectus lacked much, if any, capacity for analytical or symbolic reasoning.  As noted, they were around for a million and half years with no real changes to their tool kit; it’s presumed that they made their one real tool, a simple hand-axe, much like a bird builds a nest.  They couldn’t change how they made their basic tool any more than a bird can decide to put a roof on its nest.  Their brains just didn’t work like that.

So, “laziness” isn’t really the term to use here.  H. erectus‘s lack was one of capacity, not motivation.

Animal’s Daily Higher Education News

American Thinker’s David Solway has some interesting observations on the state of higher education in the US.  Excerpt:

I have just been perusing a towering stack of student essays that my wife, a university prof, has been grading over the last week.  The spectacle of ineptitude, ignorance, and tactical evasion of once standard commitment is light-years beyond belief.  According to my reckoning, perhaps four fifths of the students registered in both her arts undergraduate courses and graduate seminars exhibit one or several of the following deficiencies.  To put it in bullet form, they:

  • lack interest in anything apart from their congenial pursuits, a phenomenon demonstrably less evident in precursor generations.
  • lack coping ability with real-world events, against which they seek not engagement, but insulation – the infantile or “snowflake” mentality that has grown so prominent.
  • have little knowledge of English grammar and concinnity.
  • suffer from impoverished vocabularies.
  • cannot follow text or topic directions.
  • are given to outright plagiarism from online sources, which, extrapolating from the submissions I am examining, is a tactic adopted by approximately one fifth of the cohort in question.
  • claim exemptions on grounds of disability where almost anything, from exam anxiety to memory failings to agoraphobia to time management issues, counts as a certified disability in the current permissive and anti-scholarly climate.
  • are incapable of reading text with understanding or of discriminating among narrative planes – i.e., cannot tell the differences among the view of the author, the view of the narrator, and the view of the characters in the novel under discussion.  The almost complete absence of hermeneutic discernment is pervasive.  Reading, as Furedi points out in Power of Reading: From Socrates to Twitter, connotes more than literacy, “involv[ing] interpretation and imagination” in an effort to “gain meaning.”  Of course, reading in Furedi’s terms depends upon literacy, so it is not surprising that these mature students tend to function on a grade eight level.

I can think of a few things that would help reform the existing system of higher education or, if it collapses completely, instituting a new one:

  • Get government out of education.  Government almost never improves anything.  The explosion of government-sponsored financing and loans has (this is Economics 101, folks) been the key factor behind the explosion in education costs.  This will help to…
  • Return higher education to its core purpose, which is producing young adults with marketable skills.  A return to a market-based system would also have the desirable effect of eliminating all the bullshit Underwater Ethnic Dog-Polishing degrees too much in evidence today.
  • Drop all the “every kid should go to college” nonsense.  A good, free-market network of trade schools producing qualified welders, pipe-fitters, carpenters and electricians would be great for young folks looking to get into the job market and in the long term, great for our economy.

Solway concludes:  Academia is by this time too radically compromised and too extensively diseased to be revived.  Clearly, this is not a happy scenario.  Some few exceptions to the general rout will survive – a Hillsdale College, for example, and perhaps a university here and there will manage to halt or at least delay its subsidence into irrelevance and desuetude.  But the university system as we know it has signed its death warrant.  The sooner it disappears, the sooner we can begin rebuilding from the foundations – assuming the culture has not stagnated beyond salvage.  Sometimes collapse is the only remedy.

Well, I have an answer:  Disconnect government from education.  At all levels.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links, and to blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator for the linkback!  Also, a programming note; finally we have a start date for our project in (ugh) New Jersey, so the 21-24 of August we’ll put up some placeholder totty while Mrs. Animal and I are on the road.  Now, moving on…  National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson asks us if our current climate could result in a second civil war.  Excerpt:

How, when, and why has the United States now arrived at the brink of a veritable civil war?

Almost every cultural and social institution — universities, the public schools, the NFL, the Oscars, the Tonys, the Grammys, late-night television, public restaurants, coffee shops, movies, TV, stand-up comedy — has been not just politicized but also weaponized.

Donald Trump’s election was not so much a catalyst for the divide as a manifestation and amplification of the existing schism.

We are now nearing a point comparable to 1860, and perhaps past 1968. Left–Right factionalism is increasingly fueled by geography — always history’s force multiplier of civil strife. Red and blue states ensure that locale magnifies differences that were mostly manageable during the administrations of Ford, Carter, Reagan, the Bushes, and Clinton.

What has caused the United States to split apart so rapidly?

We’ve discussed the possibility of civil war in these virtual pages before.  In fact one could argue that this possibility would be, in actuality, our first civil war; the 1861-1865 conflict was not a civil war as per the usual definition of two factions fighting for control of one nation, but rather a war of secession, with one faction trying to break away from the nation.  But that’s a discussion for another day.

I won’t present Dr. Hanson’s argument detail; True Believers are encouraged to go read the entire article, as I couldn’t possibly present the line of reasoning therein as well as Dr. Hanson does.  But it’s important to note, unlikely as I think open, armed conflict between left and right is, that if it were to happen it would not develop anything like the fascist “antifa” and other violent protest-class statists think it would.

The whole idea is still unlikely.  Most Americans are too complacent, too attached to their comforts, too soft and saggy to engage in an armed conflict of this sort.  But if things start to develop as some folks are predicting they will, it would behoove the statists to remember which side has all the guns.

Dr. Hanson concludes with a very good point:  Whether we all take a deep breath, and understand our present dangerous trajectory, will determine whether 2019 becomes 1861.

The social equivalent of “measure twice, cut once” applies here.

Rule Five Field-Dressing Whales Friday

On my last foray in Japan, I was able to partake in one of the Sendai area’s culinary specialties – whale.  Now I didn’t have to harvest and process the whale myself, and while eating whale was on my Japan bucket list, I have no interest in obtaining whale meat for myself.

However, I have had occasion over the last forty-odd years to field-dress a bunch of big-game critters, from javelina and antelope to elk.  It’s a messy process.  So, imagine doing the same with a whale.  Ugh.  Excerpt:

“First, we opened the whale to expose the lungs, intestines, and liver,” (marine biologist Aymara) Zegers explains. Fluids gushed from the incisions, forced out by the immense weight of overlying flesh. The team sampled the fluids, as well as tissues and stomach contents. “These can help determine the possible cause of death, for example as a result of heavy metals or microplastics or red tide organisms,” says Zegers.

The team also took skin for DNA testing and examined the whale’s ovaries. Although the ovaries were small, another indication that the whale was not yet fully mature, she was starting to ovulate—a sign that the young whale was moving into her reproductive phase and therefore of generally good health.

Now, with the necropsy complete, the defleshing team can get to work. Whale strandings are unpredictable events that cannot be programmed into schedules or budgets. Most of the workers are friends of the museum crew, volunteering time and muscle to this stinkiest of tasks in exchange for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The museum does not have access to flensing knives, the best tools for the job, so instead the volunteers use cheap kitchen knives that Zegers purchased on her way out of town.

The goal over the coming days is to remove as much of the flesh as possible. Then they will carve the skeleton into parcels of manageable size for transport to the museum. Some bones, such as the jawbones, parts of the skull, and the ribs, will separate from one another naturally. Other sections, such as the vertebrae, will be cut up by hand.

Have a read, examine the photos and video, and imagine that.  Now bear in mind that this is a reasonably fresh carcass; imagine one that has been fermenting a while, which I suppose cetacean biologists probably also have to deal with from time to time.  I imagine “ew” just doesn’t quite cover it.

I sure don’t envy these folks.

Now the whale I ate in Japan (OK, I didn’t eat the whole thing) was caught and processed by a “research” vessel that had, I feel certain, powered hoists, power tools and experienced staff.  Also the whales taken by Japanese fisheries are minkes, which are unlike blue whales in being smaller and much, much more plentiful.  I wouldn’t be have eaten blue whale; my personal preference is to eschew endangered species.  Minkes aren’t.  They are basically the cows of the sea.

But no matter what tools you have to hand, this is a huge, bloody job.  I admire the dedication of these cetacean biologists who undertook this enormous task.  My Stetson’s off to them.

Animal’s Daily Screwball News

In my tenure producing these virtual pages, I’ve often (and, I think, justifiably) referred to Senator Sanders as the loony old socialist from Vermont.  And his protege from New York City, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, can also be presumed to be a bit daffy, at least on economic matters.

But there’s a difference between loony and absolutely, barking batshit nuts.  This guy is the latter.  Excerpt:

A Green Party candidate for Congress in Ohio’s nail-biter contest who won nearly enough votes to throw the race into an automatic recount – gave a speech-slurred interview this year in which he couldn’t remember his own website address.

Joe Manchik also says he’s descended from aliens and hails from the town of Hell, Michigan.

In Tuesday’s closely watched special election, 1,127 Ohioans chose him over Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor.

Balderson’s apparent margin of victory was just 1,754 votes. Presuming Manchik’s base would otherwise have been O’Connor supporters, the result without him would have been a hair’s-width away from triggering an automatic recount.

And:

The native of Hell, Michigan says he traces his lineage back to a more far-off place.

‘My distant relatives originally came to planet Earth from a planet orbiting a star in the Pleiades star cluster located in the constellation of Taurus,’ Manchick writes, boasting that he was ‘voted “Class Musician” by my High School graduating class.’

He did not respond to a message left Wednesday at his personal phone number, which he posted on Facebook.

Wow.  Wow.

I suppose the GOP should be happy to take their spoilers where they find them; Pols are hardly the most stable folks in general, after all, a certain level of narcissism seems to be a minimum requirement.  But the candidates in both parties should be pretty embarrassed to have lost even a single vote to this nutbar.

Maybe, though, there’s a little campaign strategy possible here.  Finding candidates crazy enough to stand out like this guy does is a challenge, sure, especially given the amount of crazy to be found in both major parties.  But think about it – obviously, at least in swing-state Ohio, there are enough bugnuts voters to make this guy a spoiler.

Worth a try?

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Today let’s expand a little bit on yesterday’s post.  Why?  Because now there’s this asshole.  Excerpt:

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., is calling on other tech companies to ban more sites like InfoWars, and says the survival of American democracy depends on it.

“Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it,” Murphy tweeted Monday.

In an earlier tweet, Murphy reasoned that private companies “shouldn’t knowingly spread lies and hate.”

To all of this, I can only add, “Fuck off, slaver.”  But actor James Woods may have had the best reply:

As I stated yesterday, Twitter, Apple, Derpbook and the like are private companies and may do as they please.  We may not like or agree with their decisions, but they may do as they please, and we may take our business elsewhere.

But assholes like Murphy never met a proposed regulation they didn’t like.   Anyone with enough smarts to pound sand can see where Murphy’s line of reasoning ends:  With the government stepping in, and if you think it won’t stop with kooks like Alex Jones, then you probably aren’t smart enough to pound sand.

As a Senator, Murphy should maintain a higher ground and keep his damn pie-hole shut.  “Survival of democracy,” my middle-aged ass.

Animal’s Daily Schedule Change News

OK, change in plans; we’ll be traveling next week, not this week.  So our totty dumps have been postponed, for now.  Up side; another week before we have to acclimate ourselves to (ugh) New Jersey.  Moving on, thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Meanwhile, notorious kook and nutbar Alex Jones and his InfoWars horseshit is just getting banned all over the place.  Relevant opening lines from each story:

  1. Facebook unpublished four pages run by Jones for “repeated violations of community standards”, the company said on Monday. YouTube terminated Jones’s account over him repeatedly appearing in videos despite being subject to a 90-day ban from the website, and Spotify removed the entirety of one of Jones’s podcasts for “hate content”.
  2. Apple Inc, YouTube, Facebook Inc and Spotify all took down podcasts and channels from U.S. conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, saying on Monday that the Infowars author had broken community standards.  The sweeping moves are the broadest actions yet by internet companies that have suspended or removed some of the conspiracy-driven content.
  3. YouTube has removed Alex Jones’ page, following bans earlier Monday from Apple and Facebook.

Now, I honestly can’t say I give an ounce of rat’s pee about Alex Jones and his nitwittery.  But there are a couple of larger, competing principles at stake here.

First:  It’s important to note that all of the banning organizations are private companies.  There are no First Amendment issues here.  These are private companies, and can set guidelines/ban people as they see fit.

Second:  These organizations, yes, are showing a bias; they selectively crack down, not just on overt loonies like Jones, but more mainstream folks with conservative/libertarian thoughts.

Not every problem has a solution; in this case, I’d say not every problem has a government solution.  The only thing worse than companies like Facebook and YouTube cracking down on right-of-center speech on their servers, is the Imperial government stepping in to mandate what is and is not allowed online.  That way lays madness.

There are already alternatives opening up.  Let the market work.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.