Friday, February 24, 2012

S. American Entomologists Decide to Quit Cataloguing Newly Discovered Insect Species.

 They are Glasgow mice. They can easily fuck up a scorpion.

Researches from the Chilean Institute of Entomology have given up identifying new species of insects, citing that it's much too time consuming and incredibly boring. "There are so many, and most of them look exactly the same, except for a difference in genitalia or wing structure or something. I hate it!" says Brenda Cobb, a Jr. researcher at the institute. Paulo Reyes added, "the really tiny ones kept breaking in half or getting crushed under the microscope. It's incredibly frustrating."

The Institute issued a statement earlier this week illustrating their reasons for the decision.
I've included the statement from the press conference in its entirety
             We regret to inform the world that the Chilean Institute of Entomology has decided to discontinue our long standing policy of capturing, identifying, and categorizing new  species of insect life. We are not alone in this decision, several of our colleagues working in the field throughout South and Central America have come to the same conclusion; that the work is never ending, and we'll most likely never stop encountering these new forms of life. Some of you may not agree, and we understand your concerns, and are fully aware of the potential benefit that some of these discoveries would hold for mankind. But we're just not up to it. There are so many existing bugs to focus on that we'll have our hands full for the remainder of our lives. We also received word that many Botanists are in the same pickle, and are considering the same action when it comes to new plant life, regardless of the inevitable effect it will have on the global pharmaceutical industry.
My feelings are mixed when it comes to this subject, but it's very understandable considering the work involved. Just naming the new species would be a massive effort, let alone finding enough glass cases, little white labels, and pins to display them.

One source close to the institute did say that the policy didn't restrict researchers from identifying new insect life, and that they're free to do so if they wish; It would be at their own expense, and no overtime or fifteen minute breaks would be included. they would be required to submit the new species name to institute officials for approval, but this would just be a formality. 

 Myrmelachista clavata

Thursday, February 23, 2012

To Them, Everything's a Swear

 Millions of people in the United states are afflicted with a form of Verbophobia, which has only recently been discovered, but not classified or verified by the medical community. it's unofficially labelled, "double-entendrophobia"; the fear of words that may have a second risqué or raunchy meaning. Most people suffer from an expected, mild form of this phobia, while leading perfectly normal lives.
One of my patients suffers from double-entendrophobia, and some of the words she avoids you'd never even suspect of being crude or indecent. Here's a list:

Pole, log, taint, squat, greased, rubber, chub, slot, ding-dong, plop, burgle, wipe, knob, clot, sputum, crack, bush, beaver, taco, snatch, burger, shaft, rod, load, sack, cheese, wind, blown, blew, flaming, fluids, gash, shaved, chowder, yak, pie, hole, peanuts, butter, cream, slide, stuff, pump, push, pound, lick, lap, whopper, massive, hung, limp, bung, beef, power, tool, rode, riding, rapier, pork, sword, milk, lunch, snack, bag, pile, swollen, purple, Pooh-Bah, felt, feel, munch, meat, mighty, monster, niggle, sore, prod, probe, cork, yank, trouser, snake, worm, wiggle, waste and juicy.
Quite a list of words. Words I use every day. Can you imagine having your vocabulary stifled by this affliction? not being able to say things like...

...yearn, dung, flesh, peel, brown, clod, chunk, nugget, twig, spank, burrow, tunnel, slippery, hot, organ, squirting, crammed, nice, inside, caverns, portly, hotdog, franks, buns, sauce, spread, thick, tasty, sausage, burp, spewed, goobers, mound, puddle, shank, nub, bubble, steaming, slit, peppered, coating, stroked, jerked, wrenched, twisted, cupped, wrung, reaped, blubber, loaf, ejected, swallowed, tangy, wretched, splatter, scrubbed, tossed, salad, garbage, junk, jasper, dangle, speared, slobber, bob, fondle, squeeze, torque, eat, grovel, grub, soil, sully, pulsing, throb, hardened, tumescent, wrinkled, pouch, cheeks, oily, slime, yolk, doughy, ramming, plunger, pop, sport, raging, mistake, tuber and too many more to count.

I feel so bad, so hard and long for these people. My head throbs when I think of their dripping hot tears soaking the sheets as they toss in their beds at night. Coming to the realization they'll never be able to spout these things without deep, penetrating therapy.

I don't have the answer, I just sit and listen, telling them it's all going to be OK. I shouldn't have even taken these patients on. It's really quite interesting, so i keep seeing them.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's Happening to the Cork Tree?

 Nobody is quite sure what's happening to the cork tree, only about eight hundred of them are left in the wild, and nearly fourteen thousand in captivity.This has leading scientists concerned about the effect it will have on the bulletin board industry. Without this precious spongy material, teachers, moms, and organized children would need to rely on an artificial surface to pin their memos. One such replacement is a rubber like material, much like what the wine industry uses for their bungs. Since wine bottles use rubber bungs and screw caps exclusively now, they are obviously not the source of the cork shortage. The rubber bulletin board is very popular as a replacement, and an independent study showed that when replaced with the artificial material, people just stopped using pins and paper memos altogether, choosing refrigerator magnets and dry erase boards to relay messages. "I like dry erase boards better anyway, cork boards always dry out and crumble," a leading mom and amateur archeologist from Los Angeles, CA. says.

As to the disappearance of the cork tree, biologists have several theories: the wild tit may be using the tree as soft bedding once chewed and spat out; it could be a possible food source for apes and beetles; as well as a biological strain of Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome that affects plant life and some species of stone and metal, particularly zinc alloys and many noble gases. None of this is confirmed, just pure speculation and conjecture.  One scientist agreed to speak with us, he wasn't the first choice but we didn't have much to choose from.

"One of the problems is that not a single scientist has conducted any field research on the subject. It's all been word of mouth and rumors," says leading entomologist Michael Kohne of the Catholic Science Institute in Cork, Ireland. "Nobody really has time. It's not that big of a deal," says another source close to the cork industry. We speculate that some cork experts agree, and some Disagree.

Another concern is the durability of the tree itself, cork is very squishy and an entire tree made out of it tends to flop over and rot easily. The tree is also very finicky about water; half the year it needs at least 92 gallons of liquid H20 a day to keep it tumescent, and the other half it requires a great deal of snow and ice buildup that hardens around the trunk to keep it standing. The water isn't always available in those forms or quantities. So the tree will probably disappear within the next year or two according to our best guess.

The global cork industry is tremendously concerned about the depletion of the tree, but says it's production line won't skip a beat because there are plenty of alternatives. Walt Knutson, the CEO of claims that they weren't going to be using it much longer anyway, and their new website name was slated to change to in 2013.

A shame. Cork is a cool looking tree, but it seems to be of very little use to modern day industry.


CGI: Real and Fake

The introduction of CGI into cinema has changed the look of film(as well as television)immensely. For better or worse isn't for me to say; what I will say, though, is how to spot the difference between real CGI and fake CGI.  The abundance of fake CGI in the movies today is overwhelming and, In my opinion, we deserve better.

For the layman It's difficult to tell what's real and what isn't, for a majority of reasons: they either don't care, or don't see enough to make a difference to them, or the bogus stuff looks so close to the real deal they let it slide, even if they know what they're getting. I myself can't stomach fake CGI, I'm not even a fan of most of the real stuff. This is just my opinion, so you'll need to decide for yourself.

Let's look at some examples of real CGI, starting with the trailer for Avatar, the popular film by James Cameron.

 :37 seconds in, notice the floating mountains, they look so real with the misty clouds hovering all around, very difficult to fake. The ship, the camera pan, all too much to deny that we're seeing an example of real CGI.

At 1:17 take a close look at Sully's feet, tell me how to fake that, it's impossible. His hand against the glass, those ears, no disputing the authenticity of the CGI in these scenes. The dragons and the little floating seed things blow me away, this is as real as it gets. There is one fake scene in Avatar that I will let slide, because rumor has it that a subcontracted company slipped it in without the knowledge of Cameron. It went unnoticed until after the premier but I believe it was fixed for the DVD release. It's at 1:53, the floating cinder and ash behind the blue lady is obviously fake.

OK, let's look at the Scrat short film from Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, a film so fake you won't believe your eyes. 

The first shot with that rat thing is ridiculous, totally fake, nothing in the real world of CGI can bounce around like that. They didn't even try to hide it. At 1:21 the ground just opens up? I don't think so. Are those giraffes? You can't even tell what they're doing the scene and camera move is so quick. Terrible. Take a lap, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift: Scrat short film.

At 1:38 the awful Mt. Rushmore scene really pisses me off, it doesn't look anything like the original carvings. It's the same rat thing over and over. Shameless. The planet Earth is fake CGI, the acorn, the sky, everything. Even the sound is fake. You get the idea.

So when you're watching a movie or T.V. show, make sure to choose something authentic, the fake stuff gives the industry a bad name, and if you don't, soon all CGI will be a big fraud and everyone loses.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Defeating the Attacking Dog Part 2: The Bull Dog.

The Bull Dog is probably in the top three when it comes to aggressive attack dogs. I've encountered two, a black one and a white one, both equally fearsome in their unwarranted attack. In each instance both animals performed complicated physical displays before their attack, though they differed significantly. The white dog sneezed repeatedly, coating the ground with a thick, slippery slobber, and proceeded to race around on the coated surface, snapping at its own coiled lump of a tail. As it spun in circles, its ass began to get away from it and slide outward, the beast tried to correct this with a massive burst from its front legs, but it ended up in a wild belly spin that sent it careening into a drinking fountain. I fell upon it immediately, wrapping my shirt around its throat and choking it unconscious. The dog fought wildly, and the thick folds of skin on his face made it difficult to hold on, but it wasn't as strong as you'd expect. It was really weak, actually. I pressed its flat, wrinkly face into the asphalt until it was asleep, bundled it up, and drove it to the Daisy Hill Dog Pound and dropped it off with Curtis Bailey, a buddy of mine from community college. I asked him to make sure the dog wasn't adopted and was put down humanely after it's one week waiting period. I also paid for a round of shots and had its teeth cleaned. It was the least I could do.

 The black bulldog attacked me around eight months later, and his defeat was so easy I contemplated not mentioning it in this entry. I was mailing a letter and the dog popped out from the box where I was dropping my post; it barked, and stared at me with its head cocked to the side. Startled, my heart beating a hundred miles per hour, I dropped to one knee and called to the animal, pretending to be its owner. The dog jumped from the box, trotted over to me, completely fooled, and allowed me to pet it for a minute. I don't have to tell you that I was very nervous, this dog had a look about it that I can't put into words. It kept staring at the front of the post office and then back to me. So, with some trepidation, I led it to my car, coaxed it to jump into the front seat, belted it in, and started driving. I drove east for around an hour and fifteen minutes, one eye on the road and one eye on the bulldog. Luckily he fell asleep about forty minutes in, so I calmed a tad. I stopped just outside the Foreman Dam, grabbed my coat and hopped out. It was winter and I was freezing my ass off, so I hurriedly grabbed the sleeping bulldog and set it on a bed of pine needles. It woke up as I was getting ready to jump back in the car, so I hustled into my seat and slammed the door. I was worried about an attack out this far, medical attention would be hard to come by. The drive home was uneventful.

In part three I'll tell you how to beat a German Sheppard all out blitzkrieg. I almost lost this one, but it extended itself too far, and was stopped cold in its tracks.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Water Treatment

Everyone loves pure, clean, mountain spring water, except, of course, me. Untreated mountain spring water can contain contaminants such as oil, lead, zinc, dirt, lead, salmon eggs, sloughed reptile skin, badger feces and campers refuse.  I prefer my H20 directly from the Vanity Fairland Water Treatment Facility. The plant lies south of our Laboratory, about four miles from the interstate 10. The water that comes out of our tap is the most delicious I’ve ever showered in, and it tastes pretty good, too.

The facility uses a three step process that includes primary treatment, secondary treatment and tertiary treatment, I won't get into detail, it's a very scientific process that works, and that's all that matters.  Before Vanity bought out State Water and took over operations, the plant was a mess. They were still using ponds and lagoons or chemically treating the water (gross).

There were four standing ponds, two were still operating, one was continually under some form of maintenance, and the last was nearly empty, stagnant, and smelled like a defrosted homunculus. These ponds have been drained, excavated, and repurposed as an employee recreational center with a basketball court and an area to fly radio controlled flying machines. Beautiful.

I’ve become friends with plant manager Becky Williams; a homely woman in her late forties, divorced with two sons in their teens, and a tendency to ask questions to which she already knows the answers. Despite all of this, she is an excellent facilitator. On several occasions I’ve been given tours of the plant, each one at the expense of her time and money. We've discussed primary treatment, sludge control, secondary treatment, vermicom post, aeration, drying beds, methane, and many other essential steps for producing delicious water for showering, car washing, pools and drinking.

I've kept a small secret from Becky, and I feel a tad guilty, but not enough to tell her about it. She is unaware that we’re skimming water from the facility. Ronnie and I repaired and activated an old pump system and diverted a minor amount of runoff from the plant to our lab. The cost to them is quite insignificant; somewhere in the range of forty to sixty thousand dollars per quarter, depending on whether or not we need to fill our two hundred and seventy thousand gallon elevated water tank. The cost could easily quadruple if that is what’s necessary.

I’m positive Becky is receiving small payoffs from local politicians to look the other way every now and again. She hasn’t said this outright, but hinted as much. She uses this money for her eldest boy’s truck payment, as well as a variety of extras. So if our arrangement should ever be discovered, we have a fair amount of leverage to keep things as they currently stand. We also siphon our electricity from the plant, a minimal amount, I assure you; except during the Fall and Winter months…and much of spring, when an abundance of electrical requirements frequently crop up.

We understand each other, and we receive additional benefits from our arrangement; like an ample supply of food and equipment whenever we like. In exchange, she gets quality company and stimulating conversation from time to time, unless I'm not feeling very talkative, which isn't too  much of a problem since she's quite capable of talking enough for the both of us. I'm supposed to have drinks by the drying beds with her tomorrow afternoon, but the idea of listening to her go on about her pottery course leaves me exhausted.  I may send Ronnie, she hates him.

I put up with it because her water is outstanding, It's free, and she can't do a thing about it. 


Friday, February 10, 2012

The Binocular Deception

Do you remember the last time you looked through a pair of binoculars? Neither did I. Apparently, the last time we did, we weren’t seeing what we thought we were seeing; at least if what we were trying to see was more than 50 yards away. So I bought a pair at the swap meet recently, took them up to the observation deck, picking several targets at various distances on the horizon.

My first target was an old spruce down the slope, about 15 yards away. I took off my glasses and trained the binoculars on the tree, focused, looked again with the naked eye, and back once more through the binoculars. Satisfied with what I’d seen, I went inside the pool room, got dressed, then went back outside and hiked down to the spruce. Everything was as I’d seen it from the deck. There were leaves, bark, branches; everything you’d normally associate with a tree.  After making a few notes, I headed back to the house to make dinner; we were expecting guests, so my experiment would have to wait until morning.

At 7AM.  I resumed the binocular experiment, gathering up my equipment, I went back to the deck. My next target was a parked car on the street about 45-50 yards away. I repeated what I’d done with the tree, and then went inside for a quick shower and some toast. A half hour later I was in the jeep and headed for the parked car.

Upon arrival, I immediately noticed some differences in the car now that I was only a few feet away. There was quite a noticeable difference in color; the car, from the perspective of the binoculars, was clearly dark red. In reality, it was a dark to medium blue. At first I wondered if I was remembering correctly, a quick glance at my field notes told me I was. There were other problems with the picture I thought I’d seen. I also thought the car was a four door sedan, but it was actually a two door hatchback. A few other minor differences aren’t worth mentioning here, but it was all a little unsettling.

Back at the observation deck I took a look at the car again, and then compared them to the photos I’d taken at the scene. The differences were confirmed. I jotted down the data and went inside for a light lunch.

That afternoon I chose a target 150 yards from my deck. It looked to be a group of National Guardsmen running through field maneuvers in a large clearing. I guessed they were from the military base a few miles north. There were two tanks, a Hummer, about six soldiers and a command tent. On second glance, there was also a three foot orange goblin chasing an unidentified red object; at least that’s what it looked like. I chalked it up to exhaustion. I noted everything I saw, showered, packed a snack, and hopped back into the jeep and made for the field.

My surprise was overwhelming as I pulled into the clearing, which was actually a park. There were two SUV’s parked on the grass, a little boy riding a blue and grey pedal car, two men, two women standing under a foldout awning placed over a picnic bench, and a girl, who looked to be around six, throwing a yellow Frisbee to a huge Irish setter.

I sat down, visibly shaken,  ate the cheese and apples from my backpack, and set my glasses down, scrubbing at my eyes for a moment. I considered asking the families if they’d seen a small military compliment in the park, but I already knew their answer. It was obviously the binoculars.

Throughout the next few weeks I made numerous inquiries with several binocular manufacturers, to no avail. It was one excuse after another, no one would speak with me, and I was at a dead end. I also repeated the experiment with other models I was able to get at a yard sale and an estate sale, all with equally bizarre results.

More reports as I look a little deeper


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why is NASA Sending a Penny to Mars?

Rover Curiosity fires dart at alien life-form (off screen).

Last November NASA launched the Curiosity Rover, It's scheduled for an August 2012 touch down on the red planet. On this latest mission to Mars, there's an unusual passenger, a 1909 VDB one cent coin is attached to a small plaque connected to the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. "Why would they send a hundred year old penny to Mars?", you're asking. Simple. To determine whether or not an alien culture exists.

Most are familiar with the face shape on Mars, discovered in 1909 by Simon Newcomb, An astronomer who died that same year. His discovery was dismissed by the Astrophysics community and was forgotten altogether shortly after Newcomb's death. In 1976 the face was rediscovered by several interns, which led to the face being imaged by Viking 1. Some believe this face is the work of an ancient Martian culture, but no proof of this exists to date.

It's hoped the penny will attract, what is believed to be by some experts, a subterranean Martin society. The face of Abraham Lincoln has been compared to the Marian face for years and is nearly identical, except for the fact that Lincoln's face is in profile. Astronomers believe that if Lincoln was facing forward, his copper image is a dead-ringer for the Martian monument. The coin will be projected onto a cliff wall in hopes of drawing out a curious Martian inhabitant from its underground lair.

NASA hopes the Rover Curiosity will have the opportunity to fire a small, specialized dart into the alien, in hopes of obtaining a sample of its DNA. The brain would be an ideal target, a sample of Martian brain tissue would be an added bonus. The firing mechanism used will be controlled remotely by a NASA weapons specialist, their timing will have to be perfect, since they'll be firing blindly. NASA will rely on the crunch of steps on the sand, light sensitive solar panels, and the heavy breathing of an alien that lives on a planet with a much lighter atmosphere than Earth. They also hope the Martian will call out with details of the its discovery to others waiting curiously at the cave's entrance. The chances of success are slim, and NASA experts are confident. "No problem," boasts Harris Felix, NASA's Rover Curiosity's trigger-man.

August is less than six months away, so NASA has only a few short months for final preparation. Exciting developments indeed.


Video courtesy of NASA.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Physics of the Martial Arts

I've always found the misconception that the martial arts was developed for self defense quite annoying. I Will illustrate to you, on a molecular level, that the martial arts is strictly for preemptively killing and inflicting pain on an unsuspecting target.

Those capable of practicing the martial arts, and not everyone can, has a particular mutated gene known as HACNS1 (also known as CENTG2), that improves ones coordination and dexterity. The gene is responsible for the evolution of the opposable thumb and modifications in the foot and ankle that allow humans to walk upright. When this gene mutates in certain humans, it leaves them with astounding physical abilities. This mutated gene can give one the power to leap up to 9 feet in the air, catch a descending sword blow in the palms of the hands, or tunnel downward at amazing speed to hide from a potential threat.

When mutated HACNS1 is found in humans, particularly males, and is combined with the serotonin 5HT, this can lead to elevated aggression, and elevated aggression is what's needed for the martial arts assassin. So, based on these facts, it makes absolutely no sense that the martial arts would be a self defense discipline.

Consider the popular sport MMA, a sport rife with outright male hostility and aggressive behavior. these individuals who participate in this sport strictly use the martial arts during a match. It's safe to assume that these men fit the parameters described above.

The only thing stopping MMA participants from killing each other, once one fighter has been subdued, is a referee who carries a small hand- held injector that he applies to an overly aggressive fighter trying to kill his unconscious opponent. The drug soothes the fighter and delivers to his brain a sense of well being and elation, this leads to the victors typical joyous display after he realizes the fight is over and he is the conquering combatant. Arms in the air, the winner stares glassy-eyed to an adoring crowd, unaware he's been manipulated by a mood-altering agent.

note- In the youtube video, notice the referee slyly touch the winning fighter's arm and the  celebration that ensues afterward.

 For more on this subject check out the links below.


Your Shadow: A Trick of Light?

The baffling mystery of the shadow may finally have it's explanation. For countless centuries scientists have puzzled over the question, "what is the dark blob that follows an object at rest, or while in motion?" Primitive cultures believed it to be a spirit guide or an ancestor that remains attached to you at all times, though not always visible. Others believed it was a malevolent ghost waiting for its caster to falter morally, so it could attack.

Though the shadow received its name hundreds of years ago, no one has put forth a reasonable explanation for the phenomenon...until now. Scientists believe a shadow is created when an object blocks a light source, like the sun or a tanning lamp. The light strikes the object, and light particles are prevented from moving past the blockage, leaving a silhouette behind the volume, whatever it may be. Transparent objects like windows or bottles do leave a silhouette, but it's much lighter than one cast by something with a non-translucent mass, and this isn't quite as clear to the scientific world. Dr. Taylor Waters, of the Lomas Regional Institute of Technology and Science, believes he is very close to explaining the transparency problem. "My team has made significant strides when it comes to the lighter shadow phenomenon, and I believe we'll have an answer within the next three to five years," says Dr. Waters.

The shadow mystery has many layers, such as; why does the shadow appear as an outline of the mass that forms it? Why are there no details from the mass visible, like a tie or glasses? Is the shadow two or three dimensional? Does the shadow have weight or texture? What is the shadow's purpose? And the most bewildering question of them all; why, most of the time, does the shadow look elongated or distorted in some cases, or squashed and compact in others?

Also, there a some fringe scientists who believe there exists something called "the Shadow Lag." They believe when a mass casting a shadow moves, there is a half second delay as the shadow follows. Most scientists find this insignificant and have abandoned research of the subject altogether.

Though the scientific community has figured out why the shadow exists, there are many unanswered questions remaining. I, for one, look forward to the exciting new breakthroughs still to come, and will be sure to relay that info to you a.s.a.p.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Defeating the Attacking Dog Part 1: The Collie

Sometimes dogs attack, and I'm going to tell you how to win the battle against an aggressive canine no matter what the breed; and I'm going to tell you how to do it nearly bare-handed.

There are tell-tale signs a canine reveals just before the attack, and you need to know these signs if you have any hope of success in defending against it. When a dog foams at the mouth, it's going to attack; when a dog scratches at the ground, staring menacingly into your eyes, it's going to attack; when a dog howls at the moon, it's going to attack; when a dog barks at you, it's going to attack; and when a dog sniffs the air in your direction, it's going to attack.

First, we're going to look at the attacking Collie and the techniques it implements during the attack. A Collie is a breed covered in a thick coat of down like fur; don't be fooled by this soft, fuzzy facade. A Collie, beneath the cuddly exterior, is an animal quivering with thick muscle and reinforced bone that can be used to savage it's victim in a matter of seconds. The Collie usually foams at the mouth before it attacks, this is due to its diet of mostly milk proteins. the proteins gurgle to the surface when a Collie becomes enraged, producing a milky froth that surrounds the animal's muzzle. If you keep your wits about you, you'll have no problem stopping the animal before it can clamp it's jaws around your throat.

The Collie will first dart away from you after it produces it's froth, giving you the sense that the animal is retreating. It will circle around the house after you've relaxed, hoping to take you from behind, unaware. Simply turn around and wait for it to emerge from the other side. You should have time to procure a branch or garden tool. When the Collie shows itself, only to find you facing it, it will become alarmed and hesitate for a second or two, that's the moment you need to strike. Raise the shovel (or the tool you've chosen), and rush the animal, shouting as loud as you can; or scream, either will do as long as it's extremely loud. The Collie will raise up on its hind legs as though it wants to lick your face or give you a doggie hug, If you falter at this deception, you're doomed. Feint low and let the dog descend toward your exposed head, when the beast opens its maw, immediately drop and roll into the hind legs. the Collie has weak rear legs and will be knocked for a loop, landing on its side or back. Twist up as quickly as possible and bring your weapon down onto the Collie's head. That's it, you've won. If the Animal has survived the initial blow, give it a second, or even a third whack; however many times it takes to finish it off.  You'll have plenty of time to do this as the dog will be rendered senseless from your first assault. so don't overdo it, take a few breaths and access the situation, then finish the job once you feel refreshed.

After the job is done call Animal Control to help dispose of the carcass. If you feel up to the task, you can always dump the corpse in a river or leave it the woods to let nature take its course. This is the green option if you're into conservation. A bonfire is another method of animal disposal, but this tends to be only for someone living in a rural setting.

I've included a youtube video to familiarize you with the Collie so you'll be able to recognize the animal once encountered.

Good luck.

Luther Ranes

Next time we'll discuss how to dispatch the attacking bulldog. This is a unique attack pattern I think you'll find very interesting.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dr. R. Ranes interview

An excerpt from the upcoming interview with Dr. Ronnie Ranes in the rigorous, widely respected Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:

JPSP: I notice you have the same "I Want to Believe" poster in your office as Fox Mulder from the X-Men.  

RR: X-Files, actually. But who's counting? (laughs)

JPSP: (laughs) Now you've got me laughing. Your laugh is infectious.

RR: Not literally, I hope.

RR/JPSP: (combined laughter)

RR: I'm just going to come out and say it, I love Bigfoot!  I love the idea of Bigfoot, the movies, commercials, blogs, books and board games -- I love it all! 

JPSP: (laughs) What? You're kidding right?

RR: Not exactly. Bigfoot is a passion of mine, albeit a dangerous one in my line of work.

JSPS: Because you're an anthropologist?

RR: Yes.

JPSP: Bigfoot must go over like gangbusters in the lab. 

RR: As you can imagine I get a tremendous amount of teasing from my colleagues because, in the world of real science, Bigfoot has as much place as leprechauns. In the world of real science there are no leprechauns and there is no Bigfoot.  

JSPS: I would expect so.

RR: And even though I love Bigfoot, I am not a believer. Even in my Bigfoot lovin' world Bigfoot is nonsense. Fun nonsense but nonsense nonetheless.

JSPS: Thank goodness. I thought I was going to have to call my editor.

RR/JPSP: (combined laughter)

RR: Like most people I learned at a very early age that there is no evidence that Bigfoot exists. None. Not now, not ever. No proof today and no evidence in the fossil record. 

JSPS: No smoke, no fire.

RR: Exactly. It doesn't matter to me though, I still love the big hairy guy. 

JSPS: So I noticed. Is that a Bigfoot doll on your bookcase?

RR: It's the Bionic Bigfoot action figure from the Six Million Dollar Man. I never liked that they gave him a mustache.

JSPS: (laughs)

RR: Don't get me laughing again, please.

JSPS: Forgive me. You were talking about your love of Bigfoot.

RR: I love Batman too, but I don't spend one moment of my time trying to find the Batcave. Don't get me wrong I would love to visit the Batcave to see the Dark Knight's refrigerator-sized computers, stuffed Tyrannosaur and giant penny, but I know the Batcave isn't real because I can separate fact from fiction, and I can separate what I want to be real from what is real.

JSPS: Thank goodness for that.

RR: Now it seems like you're teasing me.

JSPS: I'm not. I just can't believe we're sitting here talking about Bigfoot.

RR: I guess my point is you can be interested in something without believing in it.

JSPS: Do you think your interest in Bigfoot hurts your reputation with the scientific community?

RR: Not at all. My colleagues can tease me all they want but at the end of the day they know I'm a scientist, not a lunatic. What science measures is quantitative. There is no quantifiable data to substantiate the existence of Bigfoot because Bigfoot is a legend. And there isn't a single solitary scientist on planet Earth who believes in Bigfoot. Not one.

JSPN: (gesturing to Bigfoot memorabilia) Not even you?

RR: (laughs) No, not even me.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Archery: the Failed Experiment

 When archery appeared nearly twelve thousand years ago, it seemed to be the natural successor to the atlatl, a weapon discarded by every culture save the Australian Aborigines. The bow and arrow was obviously superior, but not by much. Not to say that archery doesn't have its place; games of skill and organized competitions are immensely enhanced by those proficient with a bow. Hunting is a different story; a sling, spear, or even the classic snare will yield the best results, depending on the game one is after. 

 Here are three main reasons why archery is impractical.

 First, the bow and arrow is difficult to make. Fashioning the bow itself can take up to a year to treat and shape the wood properly, and it doesn't always work. A year could be lost on just one bow if the correct steps aren't taken. I know what you're thinking, the craftsman could make several bows at once, so at the end of the year he'd have a better chance at a properly made weapon. This doesn't make sense when you take into account that the person making the bow would most likely repeat the mistake on each bow, leaving him with who knows how many unusable weapons at the end of the year.

 The string for a bow was nearly impossible to make in the ancient world. Catgut or sinew were incredibly difficult to obtain if you weren't in close proximity to the Mediterranean. Hair, hemp, and linens were terrible substitutes, and were very susceptible to moisture and heat. The beeswax needed to guard against the elements was also a very rare item, it could only be purchased or traded for during certain times of year, and at exorbitant cost. 

 The arrows are an entirely different problem. You need your wood, you need your metal/stone, you need your fletching, all of these things took ungodly amounts of time to collect, make, and assemble. The shaft had to be harvested from a tree that grew very straight branches, shaping one with crooked wood was futile. carving or forging a proper arrowhead took days, and capturing a live bird for the fletching was a task envied by no one. All for one arrow, I might add; If you wanted more, you'd better clear your schedule, because you're in for a long work week.

 Second, the bow and arrow is difficult to use (trust me, I've tried.) Pulling back the string alone is nearly impossible if you lack natural core-strength, which most people do, especially in the ancient world. This means years of physical training to build up the necessary muscles to do the job properly, and that means a trainer, as well. Physical training means a proper diet for the best results, the best results means expensive, high quality food. I don't need to tell you that most ancient men weren't rich millionaires who could afford the  things needed to become an archer. 

 Shooting the arrow straight was very difficult, probably more difficult than the fitness regimen required to even have the opportunity to shoot one straight. Shooting an arrow straight required practice, and practice takes time, and time is money, folks. It is possible to self-teach the skills you need to shoot straight, but a trainer would definitely speed up the process. Again, trainers are expensive, unless the trainer was also the one employed to build up your physical strength, then I'm sure something could be worked out. But this is highly unlikely.

 Hitting a target is the next step, and it ain't easy. Even if you shoot straight, you have to account for wind and slight body tremors and a million other little factors that will send your shaft reeling. Don't get me started on a moving target. Very few people will accomplish something like hitting a target in motion. Or if you're in motion shooting at a target that's moving. Nearly impossible. Ask the Mongols. And you'd better hope you worked on your stamina with that trainer if you hope to shoot more than one arrow an hour. More time that we can't afford to lose.

 Third, archery in warfare just isn't all that practical. Training one man to use a bow and arrow is a tremendous job by itself, training thousands was a joke, and we can't be asked to believe that it was in any way effective when it came to actually hitting and killing an enemy assailant. I know archery was used in ancient warfare, I'm not disputing that, I'm disputing the fact that it was used in any other way than a diversionary tactic. I'll admit It had to be annoying for an advancing army to be bombarded with tiny projectiles constantly while trying to engage the enemy. Most of the shafts probably clattered harmlessly to the ground after deflecting off a soldier's armor. The real danger was slipping on a rolling shaft and losing your footing, and I'm convinced this was the real purpose of the archer in  battle.

 If both armies had regimens of archers that fired simultaneously, then no doubt at least half of the arrows collided head-on in mid-air, shattering the shafts into splinters. This would lessen the chance of a soldier slipping, but it still most likely came into play to buy a short amount of time.

 Archery just didn't make sense, and still doesn't, in my opinion. If you want dinner or to win a war, buy yourself a sling or a spear or a snare. Even a Colt King cobra with a six inch barrel would do the trick. Just don't buy a bow and arrow.