Sunday, March 19, 2006

NEW BLOG LOCATION!

By Elaine Meinel Supkis


We now reside at Culture of Life Science News

Culture of Life Space News

Culture of Life Evolution News

See you there!

Elaine
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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Walking On All Four: Genetic Glitch Causes Human Children In Turkey To Do This


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Due to a missing gene on the 17th chromosome, a family in Turkey has children who walk like our lemurian ancestors. This is a very interesting case and proves, yet again, how genes control our bodies and how few genes seperate us from our distant relatives.

From the BBC:
Five siblings from Turkey who can only walk on all fours could provide science with an insight into human evolution, researchers have said.
The three sisters and two brothers could yield clues to why our ancestors made the transition from four-legged to two-legged animals, says a UK expert.
This is most interesting. I have posited in the past that not only was bipedalism a part of humanity's past, it is for a number of the Great Ape families, all of them, I would dare say. Namely, for the last 8 million years, bipedalism is what seperated the orangatang, gorilla, chimpanzee and human family from the get-go. The knuckle-walking of the other families is a recent innovation, I bet, in less than the last 3 million years!

Whenever our ancestors went on all four, they did it the same way these children are walking: flat palmed. The knuckle walking innovation had a very bad downside: it made the fingers inept and unable to make tools or groom well. In other words, it is a net loss. To increase preambulation, the gorilla and chimpanzee lost the ability to use their fingers for delicate tasks, dooming them into an evolutionary cul-de-sac.

Our most distant ancestors were insect eaters who ate some fruits when available abut anyone living in the wild knows, there are always insects whereas fruits are a very iffy thing. To catch bugs, our ancestors needed clever, fast hands that can pluck things swiftly, ever try to catch flies? Heh. Must be where the urge to pull off bug wings comes from, a deep genetic trait.

From Agence France Press:
All five are mentally retarded and have problems with language as a result of a form of underdevelopment of the brain known as cerebellar ataxia.
This is the most exciting part of this case! Are the genes for developing the part of the brain for speech this connected with bipedalism? So many interesting doors beacon to be opened. From a private web page created by a husband who lost his wife to degeneration of this part of the brain.
By definition, "ataxia" is a state of incoordination. The cerebellum is the "microprocessor" which controls and regulates motor-control neuron messages. So when upon consultation the Practitioner has intensively quizzed the patient and ruled out all the routine triggers for incoordination - such as inebriation, inner-ear conditions and countless others, the term "cerebellar" gets added to the "ataxia" label. But this is still not a "diagnosis".

The first move by a Neurologist when confronting an ataxia which defies explanation is to commission an MRI Scan of the cerebellum. He is looking for many things but in particular for a shrinkage / degeneration of the cerebellum which unlike "cerebellar ataxia" (which you will remember is just an incoordination symptoms label) is defined as "cerebellar atrophy". And this "is" a diagnosis .

It is odd to me that the abbreviation "CA" is often wrongly used interchangeably to represent both "Cerebellar Ataxia" and "Cerebellar Atrophy". They are really quite different "animals". One is a symptoms label and the other a diagnosable physiological disorder.

There are many incarnations and degrees of severity and progressivity of cerebellar atrophy. At the present state of medical science there is no reversal path for atrophy of any organ and no panacea medicinal treatment or cure. But it will not always be so - because recent developments in stem-cell regrowth of atrophied cells hold enormous promise for the future.
Apparently, when stricken later in life, one simply becomes increasingly disoriented and can't walk at all whereas these children seem quite mobile and able to do various tasks, they just can't stand up easily nor do they have any inner urge to do so.
From Web MD:
Aniridia-Cerebellar Ataxia-Mental Deficiency, also known as Gillespie Syndrome, is an extremely rare inherited disorder that is characterized by partial absence (aplasia) of the colored portion (iris) of the eye (Partial Aniridia), impaired coordination of voluntary movements due to underdevelopment (hypoplasia) of the brain's cerebellum (cerebellar ataxia), and mental retardation. Many affected individuals also exhibit a delay in the acquisition of skills requiring coordination of muscular and mental activity (psychomotor retardation). Aniridia-Cerebellar Ataxia-Mental Deficiency is believed to be inherited as an autosomal recessive genetic trait.
It seems, the family in Turkey, instead of trying to impose a bipedal regime on their children, let them follow nature's course. The good health and seeming happiness of the children in this case seems to make this a wise choice. I, for example, used to imitate animals such as using the much better otter system of swimming which is both safer and conserves energy in the most amazing way, one can swim effortlessly literally for miles by slithering through the water with small moves of the hands and feet to give more propulsion. It still baffles me why people want to swim the hard way, thrashing violently through the water instead of literally gliding along the surface, rolling over periodically.

I wonder if children suffering from this genetic problem are really being helped by shoving them into the bipedal straight jacket? After all, it isn't the most efficient way of getting around! Ask any four legged creature. They will look at you funny.

I grew up in high mountains with very thin air and I learned at about three years of age, four legs good, two legs, bad. I scrambled about the rocks and thorns on all four, moving along with absolute assurance. You can bet, I never fell down. By the time I was about nine, I could switch from bi to quad effortlessly which is why I could go all over the place as if it were flat ground. Like swimming, the less one thinks as a human, the easier it is.

In ancient chronicles like the Sagas of Iceland, there are tales of people like the children in Turkey. One family in a saga put their two retarded sons out with the sheep each spring and the boys contentedly hung out with them while the normal brothers ran around the oceans, burning people's homes, raping women and stealing stuff. Um. Evolution at work.
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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Scientists Predict Sun Will Be More Active Next Cycle


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

We know not that much about our local star, the Sun. We have many assumptions which often are little more than wishful thinking. Ditto for our galaxy. Anyway, there is great dispute about what is going on with our local star and here is a recent report claiming the sun will spit even more x-rays at us this coming Solar Cycle which is bad news on several fronts.

From Associated Press:
A new computer model suggests that the next solar cycle will be more active than the previous one, potentially spawning magnetic storms that will be more severe and disruptive to communication systems.

The next sunspot cycle will be between 30 percent to 50 percent more intense than the last one, scientists said Monday.
Global warming has several elements three of which are key: relative distance from the sun, composition of the atmosphere and how much energy the sun is producing.

For example, if the sun shuts down sunspot activity, it gets mighty cold here. The more active the sun, the hotter it gets. Add a lot of fresh CO2 to the atmosphere and you get really serious global warming. The summer of tremendous solar activity we had several years ago knocked out electricity across the planet. It also disrupted communications and it withered the trees, I know my oaks didn't like it one bit.

The causes of the great ice ages are still very sketchy. The more we learn the less we can pin down the exact causes. Since this planet and the sun are both very dynamic systems, this means there are so many variables, it is hard to know what the trigger is, exactly. All we know is, there is a definite rhythm and this pulse is probably triggered by the interaction of the sun and the seas.
The new prediction is at odds with previous forecasts, which suggested that the intensity of the next solar cycle would be measurably smaller.
I don't know about anyone else but my hair was standing on end, the last cycle. Especially the x-ray episodes.

Exploding stars spit out x-rays. Stars turning into black holes spit out x-rays. X-ray events are quite noticable and not "normal" at least, if the object is a "regular" star still. According to my father, examination of recent Greenland core samples suggest the sun spat out some really nasty x-rays back 44,000 years ago, a significant time zone. If you google that number, you get some interesting biological hits. One thing, Homosapiens came pouring out of Africa. One wonders if the extended session dried out that continent to the point, humans had to forage much further and eat many more relatives who had been chased out earlier? We still know so little.

Maybe this session of superheating started the deep melting of the glacial icepacks? This would explain all the icedam lakes that ruptured so violently over the next 10,000 years.

If the sun does become seriously active, this means global warming will shoot up much faster. This will have a host of geological effects that puny dams and buildings won't stand a chance against. Like the sea suddenly rising a dozen feet or so?

We just don't know. Well, it will be very interesting, won't it?

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Humans Ate Neanderthals And Are Eating Bonobos Today


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Bonobos are about to go extinct. Humans are eating them just like we ate all our nearest relatives who weren't hiding in deep jungles. Humans love cannibalism.

From AP:
Scientists are struggling to save the fast-disappearing bonobo, the gentle "hippie chimp" known for resolving squabbles through sex rather than violence.

Unfortunately, bonobos are prized by Congolese for their tasty meat, and many villagers who are illegally hunting the wiry, wizen-faced apes don't realize how close their prey is to extinction.

"Bonobos are an icon for peace and love, the world's 'hippie chimps,"' said Sally Coxe of the Washington-based Bonobo Conservation Initiative. "To let them die off would be a catastrophe."
The average American was taught to hate hippies. I remember because I was a hippie, though a rather violent hippie, thus the name, "The Violent Hippie Chick". Anyway, humans, hardly the paragon of virtues beloved by gods, are actually vicious cannibals that have eaten vast swaths of the planet's lifeforms into extinction. In Darwin's famous book about Evolution, he illustrates a successful bird strategy, the Passenger Pigeon, that adapted to modern farming techniques only by the time his book was published, the last Passenger Pigeon flocks were being decimated and work on annihilating the vast herds of buffalo had begun.

Humans killing bonobos claim the meat tastes yummy. Indeed, even with chimpanzees, it is the same, they go nuts over the delicacy of eating other monkey species and even eating each other's babies is a tasty treat. Humans were successful because we set up various complicated rules governing who to eat. For example, eating one's mate is a no-no and eating mother and sister and brother was bad, too. Indeed, as the ring of "do not eat" grew, the brains figuring this out grew, too. Being able to remember all the many rules, none of which are natural or inherited, meant having a large brain that is large enough to figure out how to teach complex social "do not eat/OK to eat" rules. Part of this system was "how to have sex, have children and not kill each other" rules.

These rules are breaking down rapidly across the board, across the planet. Due to overpopulation, the value of one's siblings, ones clan, ones own children is dropping. In some hard-pressed areas, selling the children into slavery and retaining only one is growing common.

Within "civilized" communities, the value of large families clinging together in the face of outsiders is in steep decline, too. Each generation, it grows less and less, each is sent out on their own and no one gives a hoot what happens next.

Back in the old times when the only way to survive was to protect the children collectively and have as large a clan as possible, humans did keep the genes for cooperation and love intact along with the mental gymnastics for avoiding T-rexing family members. From the BBC:
Scientists have long debated what leads people to "act out of the goodness of their hearts" by helping non-relatives regardless of any benefits for themselves.

Human society depends on people being able to collaborate with others - donating to charity, paying taxes and so on - and many scientists have argued that altruism is a uniquely human function, hard-wired into our brains.

The latest study suggests it is a strong human trait, perhaps present more than six million years ago in the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans.

"This is the first experiment showing altruistic helping towards goals in any non-human primate," said Felix Warneken, a psychologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

"It's been claimed chimpanzees act mainly for their own ends; but in our experiment, there was no reward and they still helped."
Humans and even apes will selflessly help strangers because deep inside us resides this "if you help this person, they might be carrying your genes" which is operational in a small community. As humans killed off all rivals and relatives, the need to recognize "this person has our genes" grew. I suspect one reason why we, unlike any ape or monkey, show a great deal of the white of our eyes is for identifying humans when all our other features looked similar to our nearer relatives. Animals show the white of the eyes only when very angry or very scared. We look like that all the time. We think of this state of being as natural but if any human stares at any animal, it flips them out. This is probably why zoo animals are very stressed at first before they figure the scary white eyed creatures are harmless.

"Altuism" in small children is problematic. They love to "help" but they also are in a continuous power struggle with mother in particular, father, if he is around and interacting. The tiniest baby will wail for attention. They will refuse to cooperate for the sheer joy of flexing their tiny wills. Then, at about 2 years of age, the storm breaks and it becomes a battle of wits and blunt strength to reel in the increasingly imperious tots. This is true of all animals dependent upon a parent. And they will compete ruthlessly with siblings until they learn the value of siblings.

The reason why total strangers will die for Bush, for example, is due to people exploiting this hard wiring which assumes human-like creatures must be related, therefore, one benefits if one dies for them. I will note that the Bush clan doesn't practice this at all which means the old Darwinian reciprical grooming genetics steps in. Namely, creatures able to tell if they are being "cheated" in reciprocation retaliate.

Another way of saying, the s**t is going to hit the fan, here.


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Comet Pojmanski Skims Past Earth, Seen At Sunrise


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Another celestial visitor. Comet Pojmanski swung around the sun and turned a stunning bright blue including the tail. Astronomers used to think all comets were the same, mostly water. Turns out they are as individual as different planets. This shouldn't surprise us at all.

From NASA:
Right now, however, a new comet has brightened unexpectedly and is visible as a faint streak to the unaided northern observer in the eastern morning sky just before sunrise. Binoculars may help. Comet Pojmanski, officially designated C/2006 A1 and discovered only in January, now sports a turquoise tail several times longer than the full moon. Comet Pojmanski's ion tail is due to gas particles expelled by the comet being pushed away from the Sun by the solar wind, the same wind that ionizes gas in the tail causing its blue tint. Pictured above as it appeared only last week, Comet Pojmanski has now begun to fade as its orbit around the Sun takes it further from the Earth.
Strictly for early birds. All comets are lovely to look at, they are delicate veils streaming in the cosmic wind. Unlike shooting stars which are items falling into our planetary well. The best place to view these comets remains mountain tops which is why observatories are set up there (except for Yerkes and campus-based observatories, of course!)

The view from my deck is blocked by the Taconic mountains to the east, alas. And my headcold prevents climbing the mountain to see higher up. But the photos are lovely. It is like a saphire ring, a clear, brilliant, sharp blue, the blue one sees in a stained glass window at Chartes sort of blue.

Like so many items whizzing past us, this comet is the first time we noticed it, probably won't be back for a while. It is a sharp reminder that we are very vulerable to being hit by such items and the window of knowledge of their passage is not much longer than half a year.

Not that anyone seems to care? Heck, NASA and our military are too busy spying on us to care, it seems.



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NYC Planetarium Doing Collision Show That Explains Nothing


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

This illustration shows classic cosmic theory, the Big Bang happened and everything flew outwards, evenly. Everything is flowing away and will fly apart faster and faster until it all burns up and dissappears into nothingness or rips apart suddenly because it is flying away faster and faster thanks to mysterious "dark matter." This is just plain silly.

From the NYT:
The show is a $3 million production by NASA and the American Museum of Natural History, where Mr. Emmart is the director of astrovisualization at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. Narrated by Robert Redford, the show provides a bold and colorful look at the universe — with colliding stars, planets and even galaxies — based on theories and data collected from 30 scientists around the world.

"There can't be anything wrong, factually or visually, with anything about this presentation," said Michael Shara, curator of astrophysics at the museum. "It has to be consistent with what is being written in the science journals."
This show includes the future Andromeda/Milky Way (that's us!) merger. Again and again, I wonder how astronomers can swallow the BS about the universe expanding faster and faster. This is pure lunacy. Funny, how the word for crazy uses the image of the moon.
While most of the presentation focuses on the past, the show includes a preview of what scientists predict will happen in two billion years: a collision between Earth's galaxy, the Milky Way, and its nearest neighbor, Andromeda, that will create one vast new galaxy.

"The two galaxies," Mr. Braun said, "are drifting toward each other right now."
According to my diagram, this is impossible. If everything is flying apart, it can't be crashing together. There is no way we can cross paths. Mapping the universe has shown clearly "strings" of matter. Instead of a uniform field, the pesky stellar stuff likes to lump itself along long lines leading to big globular clusters. The question is, are these globular clusters sliding into each other, too?

Any logical system should take a line of reasoning and run it to the logical conclusion and if data doesn't match then the line of reasoning is flawed.

Astronomy is in crisis mode right now. To maintain older theories, reality has to be tormented increasingly to the point of creating stuff out of whole cloth which is fun and stupid. If there is an easy explanation for something then most likely, that is the explanation!

So, if galaxies are falling INTO each other's gravity wells and all smaller galaxies are falling into bigger galactic gravity wells then this means the universe isn't shooting outwards at all, it is FALLING INWARDS. The curve of space-time gives us the illusion of falling outwards just like when one is in freefall going into a planet, one thinks one is weightless even though one is very definitely falling relentlessly. Space if full of such contrary-wise perceptions which is why Einstein's understanding of relativity was such a brilliant revelation.

I am no astronomer, I was born at an observatory and grew up in them, quite literally, my bedroom was in an observatory for a while, even. Not having to ever have to take an exam, I never had to cough up and drill into my head, standard theoretic stuff so I have nothing to loose to examine the facts coming in and the facts are, ALL GALAXIES ARE IN FREE FALL!

And what is attracting all of them, the ultimate planet, so to speak, the thing causing this?

Gravity. Simple gravity. The energy of the Big Bang has been expended and now consolidation is going on as all the Big Bang stellar debrie is being suctioned up by giant black holes. Look at our galaxy, looks like an Electrolux vacuum cleaner, the dirty debrie circling down into the center. Smaller galaxies being ripped apart as they slither down like string or ribbon being devoured by the vacuum cleaner.

I happen to like this diagram. :)

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Dust Bowl/Firestorm Drought Grips Midwest


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Americans don't want to fix the global warming stuff so we get to suffer. The latest news doesn't surprise me. Terrible heat/drought is going to devastate the Midwest this year and for several years to come. This does affect me here on my own mountain. It is way too dry. And it is March. Hurricane Rita couldn't even penetrate Houston but was driven up the Mississippi due to the long term high over the Colorado Rockies.

From the Morris Daily Herald:
Accu-Weather.com meteorologists have warned oceanic conditions similar to those that triggered the ruinous "Dust Bowl" drought again appear to be in place.

The exceptionally warm Atlantic waters that played a major role in the record-breaking 2005 hurricane season, coupled with cooler-than-normal Pacific waters, are weakening and changing the course of a low-level jet stream that normally channels moisture into the Great Plains.

Effects are starting to be felt in "America's breadbasket," as the southern Great Plains region is already suffering from higher temperatures and a prolonged lack of precipitation.
Never in my life did I see firestorms sweeping the plains in the middle of winter. Absolutely never.

The fantasy that we can grow stuff like switchgrass and continue to tool around in big SUVs forever is plainly silly. The reason the dust bowl happened was because the harvest failed. Cows were turned loose to graze on the stubs of the wheat fields because there was no more grass to graze, the land was plowed up and dust storms started.

Today, there isn't dust storms. There are firestorms! Is this an improvement? When the fire sweeps through, usually in nature, this happens ONLY during thunderstorms, it rains and the grass regenerates only these fires are manmade and happen when it is bone dry and no rain on the horizon.

Already, shipping on the tributaries of the Mississippi valley system are drying up so badly, farmers are being told they can't irrigate using these waters. Even so, boats are grounding. The Mississippi itself is still going strong thanks to the snow and rain that has pulled us out of the summer drought last year, barely. Thanks to some pretty big hurricanes. We got over 7" of rain in one day, here, an amazing amount, so the stats look OK for the year but it was definitely a bone dry/soaking wet year, not a good thing, not at all.

The ideal is rain or snow at least once a week!
The Dust Bowl, which lasted from 1931-1939, was a severe drought that struck a wide swath of the Great Plains.

It was a catastrophic blow to the U.S. economy, which was already staggering under the weight of the Great Depression.

The Dust Bowl was the worst drought in U.S. history, eventually covering more than 75 percent of the country.
And some of the worst hurricanes, thanks to the warm water! And many people forget, our country's problems began when the Mississippi had the Great Flood. That and hurricanes flattening Florida hammered the economy of "the little people" and despite the housing/stock bubbles, regular people couldn't pay their mortgages and loans in the Midwest and the drought finished off the survivors who weren't hit by the floods and voila, total bank failures compounded, coast to coast.

Already, the Midwest reels from the blows from Mother Nature. The coast isn't nearly so bad off thanks to huge infusions of futile government funds but this isn't working since Mother Nature's belly already swells with the embryoes of a whole lot of hurricanes. Eventually the government program of encouraging and lavishing funds on futile pleasure housing in places Nature intends to put under water will fail, after bankrupting the government, of course.
"The agricultural practices at the time, combined with a long period of drought, caused severe damage to farmland in the region. Eventually the topsoil dried up to the point where it was swept away as great clouds of choking dust that stretched for miles."

Continued Mohler, "Today's agricultural practices, such as crop rotation and improved irrigation, as well as drought-resistant hybrid crops, would likely prevent the landscape from being as ruined as it was during the 1930s.

For example, Illinois endured a terrible drought in 2005, but the state's corn yield was close to normal. However, a multiyear drought in the Great Plains would still be devastating for the nation."
The first two years of a drought, the soil still has moisture. It is when year three and four come into play that the drying out means reduction of harvests. And crop rotation? What is that? I see little of that, most simply use fertilizer to keep the money flowing, if you let fields go fallow, the money drops off and no one wants that, it used to be, the government paid farmers to rotate crops thanks to the Dust Bowl lessons but hark, what happened?

OH! The GOP ended this program and said, "Freedom to farm as you wish!" and so of course, there is no crop rotation anymore.

Meanwhile, New Orleans has an obvious problem, termites. From Reuters:
An emptied New Orleans is seeing the return of one long-time resident it could do without: the termite.

Scientists had predicted the dirty salt water that flooded New Orleans in the weeks after Hurricane Katrina would spell the demise of the voracious Formosan subterranean termites that have plagued the city for more than 50 years.

But Formosans, unlike native termites, can establish colonies in trees or buildings and probably fled to higher ground when Katrina's rains started, insect experts said.
I was told by the Tohono O'odham at Kitt Peak that if you suddenly notice all the ants running around frantically, this means the Thunder Gods are near. Ants and termites can sense barometric changes with esquisite ease. And they act, frantically, on the information. They are very vulnerable to flooding.

Anyone who thinks floods will eliminate them is nuts. They are the Elder Ones, been around since...land was colonized and they survived the disaster of the Permian extinction, too! Something that killed of 90% of all living things couldn't kill them, nor cockroaches. If we nuke the world these three insect families will do just fine, thank you!

Termites love wet wood that dries out. They don't like wet wood that is wet, makes for a nasty home, the best is wood that is weak which they can chew up and digest easily and tunnel inside. This is why you only see them when they fly off to mate. I see them when people ask why a beam is weak and I poke a hole in it and see the buggers crawling around, inside.

New Orleans' flooded houses are doomed. Even if one strips the walls, the wood has been wet for some time and is now sauteed to the delight of these little bugs. Poisoning the wood might keep them temporarily at bay but they evolve rapidly, remember, they survived the Permian extinction! All the trees were poisoned by the salt water and the oil pollution. The salt didn't penetrate the deep wood of the trees, just the roots. So these trees are now totally yummy for the bugs and they will turn the entire ecosystem into pulp. Sort of human in their industry, no?

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Peculiar Story Of Dolphins Fleeing Florida Coastal Waters


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

I look for odd stories like this one. Last year we witnessed a number of strange water events when all the sea creatures would suddenly migrate out of deadly water territory. This is always a bad sign. Just this winter, we see bottom feeding fish in North Carolina rush to the shore because the water was unihabitable lower down.

From Ecoenquirer:
Marine researchers who have been observing the same pod of dolphins off Florida's eastern coast for three years have now, for the first time, photographed the dolphins swimming directly northward.

"These bottlenose dolphins, possibly the smartest creatures on Earth, were observed swimming directly northward", said Prof. Bonita Krillman. "Given the recently observed warming of the tropical oceans, we theorize that this pod is heading poleward in search of cooler waters".

Underwater listening devices, used to pick up the normal playful squeals of the fun-loving dolphins, recorded squeals with a noticably different timbre, the researchers reported. "They sounded more terrified than playful", claimed Crystal Dearing, a graduate student working toward a degree in Anthropogenic Environmental Disasters at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. "They sounded distressed and fearful".
The article goes on to suggest hyper warm waters caused the flight. Thre are no water temperature measurements within the article. But what struck me was the story is similar to quite a few other stories this last year all of which features sea animals very suddenly stopping normal foraging behavior and just taking off as fast as possible.

The "dead zones" were a serious problem last August, the Gulf in particular. That body of water rapidly becomes a hot tub and resembles more and more the way the ocean was at the beginning of the great Permian extinction.
It's not clear why the various kinds of sea turtles are washing ashore.

"It may or may not be associated with red tide," said Cianciolo. "They tend to show symptoms of what's called a red tide intoxication, but you have to take a lot of samples and they must go through testing to actually determine that."

Dive instructor Michael Miller took underwater video to try to figure out the mystery.

"Right now, anywhere we go from shore to 20 miles offshore, from Sarasota to Tarpon Springs, we can't find a single creature alive on the bottom right now," said Miller.

Miller says he's never seen such death and devastation under water in his 20 years of diving.
Here is yet another, earlier posting about die-offs.
The marine and land and air worlds seem embroiled in changes due to global warming. So many odd things in just a few days!

Just the other day, I wrote about the dead sea on the coast of Florida. Nothing, absolutely nothing above the single cell creatures, is alive there. Now there is more news from that area. From the Sun Herald:
A bizarre freeway of fish swimming by the thousands along the shore of Englewood Beach Thursday morning left crowds of beach-goers agog and marine biologists bewildered.

"I've lived her for 10 years, and I've never seen anything like this. It's incredible," said Bob Ricci of Englewood.

Beach-goers reported that a wide variety of sea creatures came swimming south in a narrow band close to the beach at mid-morning.
It is a lot scarier than mere warm water. These mass diasporas are a warning sign. Humans can avoid thinking about or doing things about the messes we are making because we live in energy bubbles.

Each summer, the ozone alert areas have grown. I remember in my youth, one had to do to the LA valleys to find unbreathable air or visit Pittsburgh when it was an industrial giant. The pollution was mostly local. Over my lifetime, the number of powerplants and cars have multiplied hugely and it is quite noticable. Each summer, now, we get ozone alerts that cover the entire eastern half of the continent!

I stagger around my forest, watching the trees literally struggle to filter the carbon dioxide. Most humans here simply shut themselves off from the bad air they are creating. Their cool, pleasant environments let them laugh at the hazy brown muck outside. As this process accelerates global warming the need to use more energy to create bigger bubbles makes things worse and worse.

I have noticed the sea life alarms are starting at a ridiculously early time this year, it isn't even springtime yet! I expect many stories of suffering wildlife fleeing this summer.

Then there are the arctic lifeforms. From Reuters:


The Antarctic ice sheet shrank significantly during the past three years, according to the findings of a NASA study released on Thursday.

Using data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), scientists concluded that Antarctica's ice sheet decreased by about 152 cubic kilometers annually from April 2002 to August 2005.

The estimated loss was enough to raise global sea level about 1.2 millimeters (0.04724 inch) during the study period or about 13 percent of the overall observed sea level rise for the same period, according to the study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

That is about how much water the United States consumes in three months and represents a change of about 0.4 millimeter (0.01575 inch) per year to global sea level rise, the study concluded.
Like watching the water flow into the hull of the Titanic. The meltoff of the Antarctic and Greenland land masses won't be slow and steady but rather, as it reaches a tipping state, sudden.

We already know the glacial melt that started our latest interglacial was extremely swift. The coastlines changed very rapidly and rainfall patterns shifted swiftly, too, human ability to migrate mitigated the difficulties of dealing with these rapid changes but this is certainly not true today.

We are as vulnerable as the polar bears, in this regard, for the greater mass of humanity has chosen to live on the edge of the sea or on flat places easily flooded by rising oceans.

We know that vast floods relandscaped the Pacific Northwest when the glaciers melted rapidly forming huge lakes that suddenly gave way. If we think this won't happen in Antarctica we are nuts. Already we know there are lakes of ancient water under the glaciers there. This could rapidly become a problem if they grow and grow.

Meanwhile, Africa is going dry. From the BBC:
Africa could be faced with 25% less water by the end of the century because of global warming, scientists have warned in a new report.

The research, published in the journal Science, shows geographical factors will amplify changes in rainfall patterns resulting from climate change.

Semi-arid areas such as southern Africa would be the most vulnerable.
Africa has no body of water like the Great Lakes. And even here, we have increasing problems in the desert communities where many people are moving in. The Colorado river is a mere stream by the time it reaches Mexico. As the Rockies heat up, there is less and less year round snow to feed the streams feeding into the Colorado River, for example.

In Africa, it is even worse. The larger, none-rift zone lakes are rapidly drying up like Lake Chad, for example. The Indian Ocean on the east side of Africa is becoming nearly as hot as the Gulf of Mexico. Between overfishing and die-offs, life forms are suffering more and more.

Many years ago when the UN decided to drill lots of wells in Africa, I was against this because it would cause overgrazing. I knew what would happen next because this was happening back then, in America. The government made water available and then cattle ranchers would then beef up their herds to infinity and destroy the land causing desertfication. The spread of cholla cacti is a vicious reminder of what happens next. Namely, inedible, thorny, harsh plants colonize the former grasslands.

In Africa, all the tribes wanted as many livestock as possible because this represents wealth and power so they overwhelmed all the wells which went dry, anyway. Around the wellheads, deserts bloomed as animals stripped the landscape of all plant life.

The desire to preserve elephants in parks had the same effect. Elephants are like my ox team; they can uproot or pull down fairly big trees, they can strip the bark or tear off the tree's branches to eat the leaves. Elephants are very destructive if they are confined. Like us humans.

The balance of nature means no species should be allowed to dominate.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Earthquake and Volcanic Activity in the Caribbean


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

As the earth flexes and shivers after the Great Boxing Day Quake, various parts are now responding to the rapid changes over in Asia and the Pacific Plate.

I got this email the other day from Marty Salo:
HUH? What's going on here? Seems like alot of activity recently, and at different depths.

MAG UTC DATE-TIMy/m/d h:m:s LAT
deg LON
deg DEPTH
km LOCATION
MAP 3.6 2006/03/03 14:36:36 19.113 -63.991 5.0 55 km ( 34 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 4.4 2006/03/03 13:09:31 19.060 -63.681 39.3 77 km ( 48 mi) ENE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.8 2006/03/03 10:07:34 19.160 -63.900 15.5 65 km ( 40 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.8 2006/03/03 09:53:32 19.257 -63.597 21.7 96 km ( 60 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.4 2006/03/03 09:02:06 19.007 -64.184 3.5 34 km ( 21 mi) NNE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 2.2 2006/03/03 08:37:00 18.352 -64.966 41.1 4 km ( 2 mi) W of CHARLOTTE AMALIE, US Virgin Islands
MAP 3.2 2006/03/03 08:30:41 19.032 -63.947 6.6 52 km ( 32 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 2.8 2006/03/03 08:16:58 19.127 -65.602 24.6 82 km ( 51 mi) NNE of Vieques, PR
MAP 3.2 2006/03/03 07:18:38 19.242 -63.813 24.8 78 km ( 48 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.3 2006/03/03 07:05:13 18.985 -63.826 7.8 59 km ( 37 mi) ENE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.5 2006/03/03 03:53:41 19.177 -63.549 6.0 95 km ( 59 mi) ENE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.3 2006/03/03 03:51:43 19.357 -63.644 20.3 100 km ( 62 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.7 2006/03/03 03:39:31 19.122 -63.931 8.3 60 km ( 37 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.6 2006/03/03 02:32:15 19.182 -63.828 20.0 72 km ( 45 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.4 2006/03/03 02:23:45 18.740 -63.560 11.1 75 km ( 47 mi) ENE of West End, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.6 2006/03/03 02:21:29 19.452 -63.946 60.1 89 km ( 56 mi) NNE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.7 2006/03/03 02:13:46 19.011 -63.823 10.0 61 km ( 38 mi) ENE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.5 2006/03/03 01:32:46 19.090 -63.724 23.9 74 km ( 46 mi) ENE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.8 2006/03/03 01:20:45 19.137 -63.883 5.0 65 km ( 40 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.3 2006/03/03 01:18:52 19.125 -63.795 13.4 71 km ( 44 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 2.2 2006/03/03 00:50:44 18.163 -67.322 30.0 17 km ( 11 mi) WNW of Puerto Real, PR
MAP 3.2 2006/03/03 00:50:13 19.087 -63.539 24.8 91 km ( 57 mi) ENE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.4 2006/03/03 00:42:28 18.970 -63.752 31.5 65 km ( 41 mi) ENE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.7 2006/03/03 00:25:37 19.137 -63.971 5.0 58 km ( 36 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 2.3 2006/03/03 00:22:31 19.089 -64.076 16.8 47 km ( 29 mi) NNE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.2 2006/03/03 00:21:17 19.053 -64.044 2.9 46 km ( 29 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.3 2006/03/03 00:19:55 19.056 -63.892 15.0 58 km ( 36 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.2 2006/03/03 00:19:53 19.073 -63.774 20.2 69 km ( 43 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.5 2006/03/03 00:18:12 19.104 -63.916 8.1 59 km ( 37 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.1 2006/03/03 00:16:27 19.115 -63.797 15.0 70 km ( 43 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.4 2006/03/03 00:04:44 18.757 -63.617 30.1 71 km ( 44 mi) NE of West End, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.7 2006/03/02 23:59:12 19.282 -63.582 50.5 99 km ( 61 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 2.3 2006/03/02 23:58:46 18.441 -63.639 29.3 57 km ( 36 mi) E of West End, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.5 2006/03/02 23:57:11 19.291 -63.687 30.1 91 km ( 57 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 2.8 2006/03/02 23:56:34 19.069 -63.963 42.8 53 km ( 33 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.6 2006/03/02 23:53:57 19.061 -63.907 31.3 57 km ( 35 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.8 2006/03/02 23:51:35 19.147 -63.803 5.0 71 km ( 44 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.7 2006/03/02 23:45:36 19.139 -63.791 15.1 72 km ( 45 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 5.3 2006/03/02 23:35:44 19.358 -63.787 24.8 89 km ( 56 mi) NE of Settlement, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.1 2006/03/02 21:25:08 18.610 -67.584 5.0 46 km ( 29 mi) NW of Rincón, PR
MAP 3.3 2006/03/02 08:25:53 19.427 -68.082 43.7 111 km ( 69 mi) NE of Higüey, Dominican Republic
MAP 3.4 2006/03/01 12:38:24 18.855 -68.701 58.2 26 km ( 16 mi) N of Higüey, Dominican Republic
MAP 3.2 2006/03/01 06:44:57 18.084 -67.878 101.2 72 km ( 45 mi) WSW of Stella, PR
MAP 3.2 2006/03/01 01:35:28 18.135 -64.249 5.0 30 km ( 19 mi) SSW of West End, British Virgin Islands
MAP 3.4 2006/02/28 15:14:00 18.040 -67.915 72.6 77 km ( 48 mi) W of Puerto Real, PR
MAP 2.6 2006/02/28 14:12:39 18.507 -66.266 119.8 5 km ( 3 mi) N of Dorado, PR
MAP 2.8 2006/02/28 12:25:27 19.113 -67.121 10.0 69 km ( 43 mi) N of Isabela, PR
MAP 3.2 2006/02/28 11:12:13 19.084 -67.144 10.0 66 km ( 41 mi) N of Isabela, PR
MAP 2.8 2006/02/28 06:11:18 18.466 -66.082 108.8 6 km ( 4 mi) NNW of San Juan, PR
MAP 3.2 2006/02/28 01:32:34 18.754 -67.401 16.0 44 km ( 27 mi) NW of Aguadilla, PR
MAP 3.5 2006/02/27 23:06:41 17.452 -68.299 118.2 130 km ( 81 mi) SSE of La Romana, Dominican Republic
MAP 2.8 2006/02/27 10:15:07 18.221 -67.197 87.1 6 km ( 4 mi) WNW of Mayagüez, PR
MAP 3.0 2006/02/27 04:09:11 18.231 -67.194 123.8 6 km ( 4 mi) S of La Playa, PR
MAP 3.6 2006/02/27 02:08:45 19.471 -68.882 47.1 55 km ( 34 mi) ENE of Samaná, Dominican Republic
MAP 2.7 2006/02/26 19:12:44 18.172 -67.390 49.9 23 km ( 14 mi) SW of Stella, PR
MAP 2.5 2006/02/26 10:26:00 18.114 -66.075 23.5 3 km ( 2 mi) ESE of G. L. García, PR
MAP 2.3 2006/02/26 09:54:51 18.170 -66.701 20.4 3 km ( 2 mi) ENE of Adjuntas, PR
MAP 2.5 2006/02/26 07:41:01 18.699 -66.457 58.2 27 km ( 17 mi) N of Tierras Nuevas Poniente, PR
MAP 3.1 2006/02/26 00:32:59 19.438 -65.469 4.3 119 km ( 74 mi) NNE of Vieques, PR
MAP 2.9 2006/02/25 09:21:43 18.979 -65.038 20.9 70 km ( 44 mi) NNW of Little Harbour, British Virgin Islands
MAP 4.4 2006/02/25 06:43:34 18.264 -68.433 160.4 49 km ( 31 mi) SE of Higüey, Dominican Republic
I have been looking at the greater quakes in this area. The recent quake in the Gulf of Mexico startled me a bit.
I have noticed over the last year or so, many earthquakes like to happen at 10.0 km. Whether under water or on land. It is like the earth's crust has this blanket on top that operates independent of the lower layers. Some of our nastiest quakes occur at this depth, the earth's blanket being shaken and tugged like Mother Nature is straightening out the bed.

The geology where this happened is interesting because it isn't all that prone to earthquakes. Just last week, I noted there was a much gentler earthquake right in New Orleans just when tornadoes were hitting that poor city! The New Madrid Fault has been shaking a bit, lately. As if it were trembling, waiting for something.
Indeed, many things will happen now. About 100 years ago, there was a rash of activity in the Caribbean. One volcano belched poison fumes
On 8th May 1902, Mt Pelée, in Martinique erupted. A glowing avalanche (pyroclastic flow) from the eruption destroyed the town of St Pierre and its 28,000 inhabitants. Only one person, a prisoner, survived.

In 1902, the Soufriere volcano in St Vincent erupted. The eruption began on 6th May, 1902 and continued until 30th March, 1903. 1,565 people were killed and extensive damage was done to agriculture in the areas around the volcano. The Soufriere volcano erupted again in 1979.Between 2001,Kick'em Jenny also showed signs of activity which placed the suronding islands on yellow alert.
The poor prisoner was rescued. He made his living thereafter, appearing at theaters and carnivals.

I was once cleaning out a theater's back rooms, back when I used to go on stage, and I found a huge banner which was tattered and very old. "The ONLY surivor of Mt. Pele! See him reenact historic event!" I used to dance the works of the trio of famous American modern dancers, the three women who created modern dance, Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller and Ruth St. Denis. St. Denis did this wonderful dance with 100 yds of silk, called "Mt. Pele Erupts" which I drew above based on a very old photo of this dance.

Since the volcanoes haven't killed thousands in recent memory, we tend to forget this daisy chain along the Caribbean/Atlantic subjunction zone.


In the last three days, the earthquakes have been not only greater in intensity but the ones along Central America have been very active, too. This leads into the San Andreas rift zone quakes. This rift has been onimously quiet the last year, a bad sign.

Obviously, the Pacific Plate is shoving against Central America which is, in turn, pinching the Caribbean Plate since the Atlanic, moving slower but just as relentlessly, has been having quite a few 5+ earthquake events this last six months. One can almost feel the earth bulging.

The Super Volcano is in the news today, too. This is the mega monster that heaves and sighs barely under the surface of the earth in Yellowstone. It has been slithering around just under the surface a lot lately. From National Geographic:
Molten rock flowing beneath Yellowstone has been causing the national park to rise and fall, scientists say.

Periodic uplifting and settling has occurred here over the last 15,000 years.

A new model helps explain the latest episode of rapid surface rise and increased geyser activity—from 1997 to 2003—in the volcanically active region in the western United States.
A number of gysers have either returned into action or new ones have appeared. The fact that the lava just under the surface has sighed back down except the caldera walls are still heaving upwards, only means it is alive, not safe at all. We can only guess at what is going on downstairs. The latest images show the caldera's many rings quite clearly and one can sense how the entire region breathes up and down with the lava's movement, it is stunningly huge. Perhaps one can say, it is directly affected by the California rift zone's own activities?

Geology is not only a very exciting field, there is so little we know and of course, understanding how the entire eco-interplanetary/interstellar systems coexist and interact is life and death for us humans! Which takes me back to all the cut backs in science that the GOP is increasingly imposing upon us. This is beyond stupid, it can be fatal!

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Homo Sapiens Killed Off Neanderthalers Very Quickly According To New Information


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Homo Sapiens, rather than being the pinnacle of greatness probably should be renamed "Homocidaliens". Evidently, no sooner than our ancestors flooded into Europe, we killed all the Neanderthalers very quickly. This is probably due to better weapons and a ruthless disregard for other species.

From Associated Press:
Neanderthals in Europe were killed off by the advance of modern humans thousands of years earlier than previously believed, losing a competition for food and shelter, according to a scientific study published Wednesday.

The research uses advances in radiocarbon dating to revise understanding of early humans, suggesting they colonized Europe more rapidly and coexisted for a much shorter period with genetic ancestors.

Paul Mellars, professor of prehistory and human evolution at the University of Cambridge and author of the study, said Neanderthals — the species of the Homo genus that lived in Europe and western Asia from around 230,000 years ago to around 29,000 years ago — succumbed much more readily to competition.
Since even today, we kill with only slight cause or no cause at all like Cheney nailing his hunting buddy, what killed off every single Neanderthal wasn't "competition" but "murder." Our invasion of Europe should read like an Agatha Christie murder mystery.

Homo sapiens used their cleverness to outwit the Neanderthalers and we systematically butchered them, man, woman and child. This happened during the Ice Ages when life was difficult for everyone but humans who haven't evolved much except in a regressive way because we figured out how to exploit the Ice Age for ourselves, especially the "skin those you hunt and wear it as an extra covering" part.

Thanks to research in places like Russia, we know our ancestors lived often in tents, they even used mastadon tusks for the arches of these skin tents as well as using reeds to build shelters. The idea that we were cave dwellers is probably due to summer hunting grounds when a cave was OK. In winter, a cave is very cold and unpleasant but in summer, the real difficulty is the various biting insects which anyone hunting in Alaska knows all too well, ha, here in New York, the "no-see-um" season is so annoying, those tiny biting bugs like to fly into eyeballs and noses which is why, when they are spawning which they do three times in summer starting with June, I wear a veil.

Mosquitos and gnats don't go into caves so retreating to them during the summer is probably a survival tactic.

The ability to make structures that were pretty durable for winter shelter meant more babies of the homo sapiens survived the long, dark night of winter back then. Heating a tent is pretty easy, the more the merrier, the bodies warm it up and throw a few mastadon pelts on the sandy floor and it can be quite luxurious for the toddlers to climb around on.

Most likely winter quarters were along the Mediterranean Sea which was much lower so looking for evidence of this is difficult, it being under water, but I suppose the French Riviera was a popular hang out back then, in winter, it gets much balmier the closer to the Med one gets.
"The two sides were competing for the same territories, the same animals and fuel supplies and occupying the same cave spaces. With that kind of competition, the Neanderthals were always going to come out as the losers," said Mellars, whose paper was published in the journal Nature.
Since time immemorial, homo sapiens likes to hunt other humans starting in spring time. It just isn't a winter activity. When humans invaded Europe, they probably brought their buddies, the early dogs, with them. The dogs helped hunt down the remaining Neanderthalers and since they had no dogs, they didn't know when hunting parties were sneaking up on them but when they sought to retaliate, I suppose the dogs did what they do now: bark like crazy and then attack.

The timeline for eradicating the Neanderthalers coincides with one of several possible timelines for the dog/human bond forming. Since the people who reached Australia had dingo dogs already, I am assuming the much later invaders of Europe had them, too. Europe was very dangerous with huge lions hunting in packs, cave bears, giant elephantine trunked and tusked animals, it was a very dangerous environment. I suspect homo sapiens saved it for the last colonization effort because of this and because of the extremes in weather between summer and winter. Developing an ice culture took a lot longer than say, developing social systems to cope with the balmy climate of Australia or India much less, Africa.

Unlike those places, the humans became herd followers and traveled huge distances between summer and winter. Also, due to the lack of fruits and nuts in the summer zone, they were like many far norther tribes were up until this century like the Inuit, for example, total meat/fat/fish eaters.

It looks like homo sapiens didn't co-exist with Neanderthalers from much longer than it took to hunt them down and eradicate them, this took less than 1,000 years. Here is an interesting article about the genetics of human migrations during the last Ice Age. From DNA Heritage Class:
The Neanderthals would have died out around 14,000 years ago leaving the nomadic hunter-gatherer Cro-Magnon (modern man) to pursue the animals of the time. Due to the cold and the need for food, the populations of the day waited the ice age out in the three locations shown on the map. These were the Iberian Peninsula, the Balkans and the Ukraine.

These people were skilled in flint-knapping techniques and various tools such as end-scrapers for animal skins and burins for working wood and engraving were common. Cave painting using charcoal had been around for a couple of thousand years although at this time they were now more subtle than mere outline drawings. These artistic expressions are significant as it shows that people are able to obtain some leisure time. Whether this is ‘art for art’s sake’ or objects of ritual is not known.
*snip*
The three groups of humans had taken refuge for so long that their DNA had naturally picked up mutations, and consequently can be defined into different haplogroups. As they spread from these refuges, Haplogroups R1b, I and R1a propagated across Europe.

- Haplogroup R1b is common on the western Atlantic coast as far as Scotland.
- Haplogroup I is common across central Europe and up into Scandinavia.
- Haplogroup R1a is common in eastern Europe and has also spread across into central Asia and as far as India and Pakistan.

These three major haplogroups account for approx 80% of Europe's present-day population.
Despite many later invasions, it seems that the origional ice age colonizers have multiplied and occupy all of Europe. The Laplanders being the most unchanged from their Ice Age culture, following the reindeer and ice to the far north.

It is really amazing, how little populations have changed after we killed off all competitors.
And these are my ancestors.
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