Archive for February 7th, 2007|Daily archive page

Wolf Warnings

In a move to show that the US government doesn’t just hate polar bears. Wolves are increasingly likely to be targeted as well.

National Geographic is warning that there is a proposal on the table to remove wolves from the endangered species list.

Last week the U.S. government proposed removing the animals from the endangered species list, citing a healthy rebound in numbers since wolves were reintroduced to the area in the mid-1990s.

If the proposal passes, within a year state rather than federal officials will be in charge of managing the gray wolves.

The move has many conservationists howling, because leaders in three of the affected states have said that they will reinstate wolf hunting.

Perhaps Dick Cheney got tired of quail, deer and lawyers.

But this isn’t the only wolf warning being propagated.

In Canada, officials are wondering if little red riding hood school children are safe from the predatory canines

An increase in the number of recent wolf sightings in and around Iqaluit has led school officials to issue a warning to students and parents.

Iqaluit residents have been warned about an increase in the number of wolves seen in the area.

Superintendent of schools Mike Ludike says Nunavut’s Education Department issued the warning because local hunters and trappers believe the wolves are hungry and could be a threat to pets, children and even adults.

Just as long as the wolves don’t start showing up in drag, they may be OK.

And finally, for further Wolf Warning weirdness I’ll just nudge you in this direction.

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Speaking Snake

Harry Potter isn’t the only person who can speak to snakes.

In ancient Egypt, snakes spoke Canaanite and were used to protect dead people from getting bitten – um – to death.

At least that’s what I get from this National Geographic report about a recently translated spell in Egypt.

The passages, inscribed on the subterranean walls of the pyramid of King Unas at Saqqara, reveal that the Egyptians enlisted the magical assistance of Semitic Canaanites from the ancient city of Byblos, located in what is now Lebanon.

The Canaanite spells were invoked to help protect mummified kings against poisonous snakes, one of ancient Egypt’s most dreaded nemeses.

According to the incantations, female snakes—acting as mediators for Canaanite magicians—used their multiple mouths and sexual organs to prevent other snakes from entering the mummified rulers’ remains.

While I don’t quite get the multiple mouth thing and using their sexual organs to prevent other snakes from doing things is just unfair. Maybe that’s just me. Do I look like an ancient Egyptian?

The story goes on to explain that the Canaanite people got along rather well with the serpant folk and describes where the spells were found and a little about the content.

In the inscribed spells, a Canaanite-speaking mother snake cajoles and threatens invading snakes in their own language.

“You need somebody with good connections to the snake. You can’t just come along and say, Get out of here, snake. Why should the snake listen to you?” Steiner said.

“You need to involve someone who commands the snake’s respect, someone who can speak to the snake in its own language and who is related to it in some way—its mother or its lover,” he added.

Oh.

Is that why we have such trouble talking to Dick Cheney? He doesn’t love or respect anyone. No. That can’t be it. What? He also isn’t a poisonous snake? Gee I hadn’t noticed.

But maybe I should go find some Canaanite sourcerers just in case.

Or maybe just I should just hiss for Harry.

Republicans Back Global Cooling

Thank God for Republicans.

Remember all that hype we’ve been hearing about Global Climate Change? Well thanks to a poll released by the National Journal, the political right can relax. According to 84% of the Republicans in the Senate. It. Just Isn’t. Happening.

According to the poll, when asked the question “Do you think it’s been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Earth is warming because of man-made problems?” The overwelming majority of the highly intelligent Republican individuals elected to the highest legislative body in the US just said “no.” This is up from a similar survey from April 2006.

natjournalpoll.jpg

Some of the money quotes,

  • “The only Inconvenient Truth here is that anyone can be a movie star, even someone as boring as Al Gore.”
  • “Check with MIT.”
  • “The Earth is in a warming trend, but the link to man’s activity is weak.”
  • “The key phrase is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ ”
  • “There is the possibility that man’s activity, while certainly part of the problem, is not the sole reason for global warming.”
  • “It’s the carbon dioxide, stupid!”

Wow, I was worried for a minute.

Of course we aren’t trying to convict humans for raping the Earth. (Where would you send them?) No, the Land-Lobster-loving Eco-Terrorists just want them to stop. but whatever.

Oh wait! I lean towards the Democrat Party. What are they saying – the Democrats and those foolish far left wingnuts (like the Hollywood elitists and the UN). Ninety-five percent are saying shit like “All the reputable scientists agree on this in their peer-reviewed studies, but what we don’t know is whether and how our efforts to combat climate change will be effective.” [my bold]

demsnatjournal.jpg

Rats! I guess the Democrats are screwed after all.

But hey, at least the Republicans can pray for Global Cooling. I mean, it worked for Ted Haggard right?

(Hat Tip: Matthew C. Nisbet, Framing Science and yes you should add him to your blog roll)

A Cart Full of Sadness

Forget taxes; Iraq passé.

The most important problem in America today? Forlorn shopping carts!

At least that the feeling at the US Census Bureau,

We’ve all seen them and wondered how they got there — a supermarket shopping cart, sitting forlornly along a residential street, far from the nearest grocery store. Was it a prank, or someone who walked to the store and bought more than they could carry? Either way, this is Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month — including milk crates and bread trays. The idea is for consumers to avoid the increased food prices that result when store owners have to replace stolen equipment. And supermarkets play a big role in everyday life. There are more than 6,600 supermarkets across the nation, selling $395 billion of groceries each year. You can find these and more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau on the Web at www.census.gov. [my emphasis, WTF! Who thinks these things up?]

So forget all those trickle down theories we learned during Reagonmics. Forget taxbreaks for the rich. All problems will be solved in America by returning those kidnapped shopping carts to the stores that sooo miss them.

Just to help this cause, I would recommend a Pixar film featuring a shopping cart forlornly trying to return to it’s home – the great Wal-Mart in the sky. Forlorn Shopping Cart would have to avoid cart enslaving homeless and thrill seeking drunken teenagers. It’s quest would be aided by a brave menu and a hotel towel. I am shedding tears as I type this.pfandschloss_l.jpg

Then you create something like an Amber alert system for missing shopping carts. APBs and cable news tickers.

Of course, simply adding a coin deposit lock to the shopping cart so people bring them back would be too Nazi anal retentive clever?

Stupid Europeans. Just don’t understand this American liberty thing.

(Hat Tip: Wonkette)

Reheating the Cold War?

According to Jane Vaynman at ArmsControlWonk, the Russians have no more pressing problems than who the next Miss Atom will be…

Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the hottest Russian woman working in the nuclear industry of them all?

Nuclear.ru and Rosatom are set to crown this year’s . . . MISS ATOM!

While ACW seems more concerned that Russia seems to be stuck in a 1980’s fashion paradise hell, I might point out that there could be worse things.

The new Miss Atom won’t just have to avoid the Eco-Terrorists and the Peace Activists. No – She will also have to avoid the PETAns. You got it.

First prize is a Mink Coat.

And that should keep things nice and warm … in Siberia.

Stereotyping

The Washington Post has an article today about the latest trend in Chinese business books – making money the ‘Jewish’ way,

Showcased in bookstores between biographies of Andrew Carnegie and the newest treatise by China’s president are stacks of works built on a stereotype.

One promises “The Eight Most Valuable Business Secrets of the Jewish.”

Another title teases readers with “The Legend of Jewish Wealth.” A third provides a look at “Jewish People and Business: The Bible of How to Live Their Lives.”

In the United States, where making broad generalizations about races, cultures or religions has become unacceptable in most circles, the titles of some of these books might make people cringe. Throughout history and around the world, even outwardly innocuous and broadly accepted characterizations of Jews have sometimes formed the basis for eventual campaigns of violent anti-Semitism.

One really has to wonder if this is anti-Semitic propaganda from some global neo-Nazi plot to reproduce the next group of concentration camps.

Somehow I doubt it. Not because neo-Nazis wouldn’t think the idea was a good one. No. I just doubt they are clever enough to go there.

Thus I have a slightly different take. I can imagine a slightly more ‘benign’ background.

Imagine a gullible Chinese university student in America. She get’s a flaming anti-Semite-but-otherwise-weirdly-likeable-guy as a roommate, think Mel Gibson at twenty. The roommate goes on to explain that Jewish bankers and businessmen are controlling the world and absorbing all the wealth. Having absolutely no reference to Jewish culture (10,000 in a country of 1.3 Billion = not often found in the wild), the Chinese student just buys into the propaganda. And since she just thinks this is ‘normal – everybody knows this in the west,’ she never gets a chance to ‘recalibrate’ the weirdness.

Next, gullible-but-likable Chinese student goes back to China where controlling the world and absorbing all the wealth is ‘in’ and student tries to find a job. At some point the job search ends less then successfully. The student remembers likeable scumbucket roommate and produces a bullshit book. The book sells well and all the publishers jump on the bandwagon with sillyness and woo. *sigh*

Sound feasible? Yes. Sad, Despicable? Yes.

The WP article is an excellent read and well worth the time. It also points out that the books describe those famous Jewish capitalists “J.P. Morgan (an influential Episcopalian leader) and John D. Rockefeller (a devout Baptist) .”  I wonder when they’ll get around to calling Henry Ford Jewish?

But most of all I find this developement worrying.

Stereotypes spread faster than knowledge. Stereotypes are designed to fit the evolutionary pattern matching skills so useful to our ancestors. Indeed, I seem to remember a devastating learning disability caused by a loss of pattern matching skills.

I think China is going to have major problems in a few years. Workers are increasingly moving from the country into cities in the hope of improving their lot. Working for a while and increasing education or returning to the country with wealth and able to ‘enjoy’ a comfortable retirement. This calculation is being made with out thinking about inflation. As more and more Chinese earn more and more, it will become profitable to sell products at higher prices. The dream of education, of a comfortable retirement, of a modicum of wealth will slip through the fingers of the Chinese, just as the dream of a strong middle class is slowly slipping out of the American grasp. Thus a large segement of the Chinese population will end up being discontented.

But having billions of discontented Chinese who also buy into anti-Semitic propaganda?

Oy Vey!