Brains or Thumbs?

This article is not about texting.

Most anthropologists agree, at least, this is my understanding of that which I learned in school, that despite weak defenses, humans evolved to dominate the world because of big brains; more sophisticated might be a better term, or it might not.

Many animals have bigger brains than we.

It has been shown that animals are capable of language and that their math skills are far superior to ours. Dolphins and gorillas especially, but who knows how many animals can outwit us? IQ tests are said to be unfair because it is difficult to design them without some cultural bias. How different, then, must an animal’s IQ environment be? Street-smarts over book-smarts, one might say. Who’s to say how many species are more cleverer than us?

The problem, perhaps, isn’t one of intelligence but simply communication.

Some would say that the reason we took over was our thumbs (opposable digits.) Thumbs allowed for tool-making which quickly devolved into an arms-race that goes on to this day.

But, other animals have thumbs, too. So, why not them? Maybe they know love.

Maybe they had the good sense to know that ‘less is more.’ They traveled light. They had the power to defend themselves, but they lacked the desire to dominate, to take everything over. They saw that growth (1 of 8 – 09:17) would only lead to their eventual demise. They had the courage to face the world and its dangers, to do things the hard way, without seeking to insulate themselves more and more from the hardships which make life interesting. Are they foolish or wise? Asian cultures consider that animals kept in captivity are ultimately happy, like they won the lottery of life. The western view differs, thinking it cruel to deprive animals of their freedom (to face danger,) although western culture, strangely enough, reflects this way of thinking by isolating itself from the ‘dangerous’ natural world. Is it in our very essence to imprison ourselves and to weaken ourselves to the point of total dependence? Desmond Morris thinks so.

Instead of spending hours growing food we can eat, we now spend hours growing grass which we throw away. That’s a big red flag.

So maybe there is something else which allows us to dominate, another quality which permits us to lord over all we see, to the point of writing it into our gospels. Maybe it’s a moral quality or a primal arrogance, maybe we are just so physically weak that we have become a paranoid species. “Humanity No# 1 !” Discipline through fear seems pretty natural to humans on many levels.

As Gunnery Sergeant Hartman said, “It is a hard heart that kills.” I would distinguish that it is either a hard heart, or an empty stomach. Killing everyday to eat makes one a pacifist by nature. You don’t want to have to kill during your breaks, too. Killing is hard and it’s dangerous. You only do it when absolutely necessary. Does never killing anything besides a mosquito or a spider cause a buildup of whatever it is that got us here, in the first place? Does not killing result in us not being able to control the urge to kill? Do we need to kill? That would explain a lot. Maybe it isn’t the killing we need, maybe it’s the risk of being killed. That would explain extreme sports.

Maybe it was the combination of language, technology, and hubris that got us here. Maybe it was dumb luck. I wonder what animals must think of our stewardship. After seeing an interesting episode of the CBC’s “The Nature of Things,” I thought about [when a translation device is invented] what kind of questions animals will want to ask us. I also wonder about the answers we will have for them. I also wonder if the government will be involved to put the proper ‘spin’ on the first official inter-species communication. Government, industry, the military, and religion will probably all be represented and involved.

It might be good practice for when the aliens arrive. Come to think of it, it’s probably just hubris… and it’s all down-hill from here.

The Grass Farmers

People tend to build next to rivers in order to facilitate trade. The best agricultural land tends to be near rivers. For decades, suburban centres have been making the switch from zoning for agricultural land to zoning for residential. Some residents are even being fined for growing food on their property because some municipal bylaws prohibit it.

We’ve replaced our farmland with lawns. We’ve gone from planting seed for food to planting grass for nothing. We’ve gone from tending our crops to watering our lawns. We’ve gone from harvesting our own winter stores and declaring our independence to cutting the grass on one of our two days off just to keep up appearances. Tending a well-landscaped lawn, flower beds, shrubs and hedges, non-fruit-bearing trees, can be as much work as farming, but the yield is zero. In fact, it turns out to be an enormous time sink, much like entertainment, socializing, and child-rearing. It also turns out be be a circular exercise in recycling compost for no benefit outside the aesthetic.

As a response to this long-term trend, big-agri is developing GMO’s in order to feed the ever growing population. They’re actually making quite a big deal of it, too. There is such a shortage of good farmland, we now need to engineer our food like we should have engineered our spaces.

Even a fruit tree every so often would make an impact on the ever-growing problem of ‘food islands.’ Why should I drive past unused farmland to go buy synthetic vegetables trucked into the tiled mall?

So with the scare-mongering of over-population and the fear-porn of climate change, the two things we can do to increase global yield in food supplies and prevent starvation are: home gardens; and increased atmospheric levels of CO2, but both have fallen into dis-favour. (A solar panel on some rooftops here and there wouldn’t hurt either.) The point is that population is controlled by the availability or scarcity of resources, and it is not the majority poor who control that.

Is there a systemic problem looming? Sterility has needlessly become a very large industry. A very large and damaging industry. See Morgan Spurlock’s “The Truth Behind Toxins“. CNN doesn’t even mention that it is about chemicals, addressing only ‘food’ in the introduction. The common thread throughout most of the show is sterility and cancer. The show starts off with what is probably the most persistent danger, flame-retardants. An honest examination, dis-honestly portrayed. There are many earlier examples of journalism on the topic; most were not widely viewed.

Birth rates are down almost everywhere in the western-world, as cancer rates skyrocket. GMOs are said to have negative effects on fertility and also may ‘transform cells.’ Cleaning products and beauty products also, as it turns out.

Deranged monarchs re-incarnated as merciful diseases do not a sensible solution make.

With food independence comes a better use of our time, money, resources, and health. Perhaps, we should rather think about saving a buck than making one.

 

ZIKARIO is not a Brazilian Footballer

Is it snobbery, is it paranoia, is it legitimate fear, or is it all nonsense?

Seventeen athletes have, so far, declined the invitation to got o the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil citing the danger of zika. Even the USOC has said it ‘would understand’.

The United States Olympic Committee told U.S. sports federations that athletes and staff concerned for their health over the Zika virus should consider not going to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.

A few athletes from Britain have chosen to remain at home, as well. Greg Rutherford froze some sperm before leaving.

Australian athletes have been issued thicker, coated, zika-proof condoms, and will attend. (It’s Rio, after all; who’s kidding whom?)*

The Koreans have developed a zika-proof uniform. (Presumably, a larger version of the Australian solution.)

The Chinese athletes got some health advice.

Some have  gone very far out of their way to find a necessarily convoluted reason to slip the word ‘zika’ into their article, obviously trying to capitalize on the click-bait nature of the modern wwweb. It goes to show to what lengths some will go to in order to hype a story. Stories that are broadly good for the media raise all their boats and so see the most attention. It has precious little to do with what’s really going on. Besides, the press are not under any obligation to tell you everything. They don’t have the resources to cover everything, after all. The following article is a good example of click-bait.

Rio 2016 Olympics: Zika threat bugging Chinese shuttler Wang Yihan

“The threat of Zika at the Rio Olympics is on the mind of many athletes but few more so than China’s former badminton world champion Wang Yihan, who was attacked mercilessly by insects while competing in Indonesia last week.”

“They’re itchy,” she told Reuters…

Itchy?!? Is that all? That seems pretty weak. So what?

“I’m really not sure what kind of bugs they were. I don’t think they were mosquitoes. Maybe it was on the bed that I was sleeping on.”

Oh, bedbugs. Indonesian bedbugs, no less.

“I bought some cream for them, but they’re still itchy.”

Great setup for the zika scare story. By the way, ‘Zika’ is always capitalized.

When asked about zika:

“Yes, I think everyone’s been thinking about (Zika),” Wang said. “But obviously we’ve been told about how to be safe, wearing repellent and staying indoors and so on.”

She doesn’t seem too concerned, does she?

What’s with all the hype?

Thankfully there is some truth out there, if you read Portuguese.

“I don’t know where it comes from this information that children up to seven years would be the most susceptible, but it is not so,” he says. -trans. (Yandex)

There is a lot of evidence (and common sense) which indicate that zika should not be a significant threat, not to mention the fact that many tourists would be going to Rio, Olympics or no Olympics.

Anyhow, as Vox reports, August isn’t mosquito season in Rio.

“It’s going to be winter [during the Olympics], so the risk is going to be low in terms of mosquito transmission,” said Duane Gubler, a leading researcher on mosquito-borne diseases at Duke-NUS Medical School.

But if you like your fear even more ‘porny’, here’s a scary story from China, which rebuts the ‘winter’ claim. It hasn’t deterred Chinese athletes from attending, though. I suppose, when one grows up with dragons, a little mosquito isn’t really  that bad.

*There’s also a more disturbing plot affot. Remember those Australian condoms? Reuter’s, CNN, RT, the Guardian (and several other British papers) have all pushed the story, but it turns out to have been a marketing gimmick. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Here’s the thing: all condoms protect against Zika infection when used correctly.

So is this a case of snobbery? Do certain athletes from certain countries not want to participate because of Brazil’s third-world status? It didn’t keep them out of the world cup, did it? Or is this a political move aimed at the scandalous behaviour of the government? Maybe it’s just good old-fashion fear-mongering. Should we all be afraid all the time? Or is this something else?

Are mosquitos (humanity’s natural vaccinators – they hold disease in check by exposing everyone’s immune system to very small doses of it) to be the new ‘boogey-man’? Whatever could be the reason? Is a vaccine in the works? You bet!

The discovery “could lead to the development of a universal vaccine” against both diseases, they hoped.

Much of South America suffers from pollution, economic strife (which causes shortages in medicine,) and food shortages, and  and the CDC states that microcephaly is caused primarily by toxins, infections, and malnutrition. Is it any wonder Brazil is a ‘hot-spot’ for zika, mosquitos or not?

A bit of advice for those going to Brazil: Don’t lose your pretty little heads over it.

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*Update*

Q: “Who Owns the Zika Virus?

A: “Of significance, the Zika virus is a commodity which can be purchased online from the ATCC-LGC for 599 euros, with royalties accruing to the Rockefeller Foundation.”