May 27, 2007


So this hunting family lets the 11-year-old kill a monster wild pig;_ylt=Av9GBIJs0sv3uK78Qyax.bkE1vAI

and check out the photo.

Pigs are intelligent; how intelligent was this one?

And I also question the intelligence of the family: sure, they're getting some hams and 500 pounds of sausages out of it, but didn't they think it might be worth more alive than dead?

"Gee, that's a big one! Let's kill it!" Bet they voted for Bush.

May 19, 2007

Green the Desert

So the Ice Age didn't completely end 12,000 years ago - there has still been a lot of ice left, which isn't all that common in the Earth's history. But it looks like the Ice Age is going to end in the next 100 years or so.

The Arctic ice melts first. This messes with lots of things: the speed of global warming will be increased by the reduced reflection of sunlight back into space; northwestern European climates will become colder when extra fresh water slows the Mid-Atlantic Conveyor; global shipping will become cheaper if you can go across the top of Canada year-round. But sea-levels don't rise when floating ice melts, so that's not a problem.

Greenland loses its ice next. Sea-levels come up 6 m (20 feet). I personally lose half my ocean-side property, but so what? Other people have bigger problems: all seaports and seaside cities have 3 m (10 feet) of water in their streets; most of Florida, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, etc, disappear.

The Antarctic melts. When an ice shelf collapses, it causes a global tsunami. When all the ice is gone, sea levels are up another 60 m (200 feet). Billions of people have lost their homelands and are on the move. Choose your science fiction scenario for what the world will be like. (My hope is for law, not war.)

So rising sea levels will be a massive problem. Maybe we could pump it back into the coldest middle of Antarctica, and start restoring the icecap even as it melts round the edges...

But think what else we could do with all that extra water! If we desalinate it, we could make it a priority to restore water tables where agriculture has pumped water out and depleted them. More interestingly, we could pump it into the middle of the Sahara/Sahel, Texas, Australia, and create agricultural land to feed (and resettle) billions of people.

Sure, global warming's a problem - but any change always brings opportunities - and the opportunities will be enormous, if we have the UN infrastructure to allow us to utilize them.

May 10, 2007

Bodies - the deceptive exhibition

"Bodies - the exhibition" is now on display at Southpoint Mall in the Raleigh-Durham area. People have commented that it is not as artistic, inspired or thought-provoking as the original German vision, being only an Atlanta-based knock-off. They also comment on the overt anti-smoking message, with the bin to drop your cigarettes and lighters next to the diseased lungs on display. All that is OK.
What I found more interesting, however, is the way that the Fetus room uses deliberately mis-labeled displays in order to make anti-abortion propaganda out of it.
When you walk in, the first display is on the right, beginning with "9-week fetus" - the size of a small newborn kitten, leading to the immediate thought "Oh my god! Is that what gets aborted even as early as 8 weeks?!? I thought the first trimester was a lot less significant than that!"
Beside it are a couple more in the series, "11-week fetus", "13-week fetus", whatever.
On a different wall, "Embryos", is another series labelled "4-week", "5-week", "6-week", "7-week", and "8-week". The largest of these is the size of my little fingernail.
The two series are deliberately placed so that it is hard to make a comparison from "8-week" to "9-week", but, if you look, it is readily apparent that there has to be much more than 1 week between the "8-week" and the "9-week" displays.
I asked one of the lab-coated assistants about this; she said she wasn't sure, but she thought that the "embryos" and "fetuses" were dated from different start dates... the "embryos" from conception, the "fetuses" from some weeks later... that the "9-week fetus" was probably a "17-week embryo".
So why is there nothing displayed in the gap from 8-week to 17-week?
Why are the items displayed so as to make sequential viewing impossible?
Why is there no definition of the exhibit's (mis)use of the word "fetus"?
Can there be any other explanation than that it is a deliberate misrepresentation of the timeline of fetal development, with the intent of making people think that a 4-month fetus is what would be destroyed at 2 months of pregnancy?
Who is behind the misrepresentation? The company? The exhibit organizers? The staff?
Someone with as big an ax to grind as the anti-smoking display-maker, but without the honesty to display the facts clearly - presumably because they recognize that terminating a pregnancy in the first trimester is, as the honest display would show, really no big deal.