Showing posts with label weirdness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label weirdness. Show all posts

October 20, 2011

Audubon Society Promotes Indoor Birding without Real Birds

I think that I just lost some respect for the Audubon Society.

I thought that they were about conservation, birds, and stuff like that. But now they have some West Coast  public-relations firm promoting "online birding." And it is competitive, because outdoor recreational experiences should always be competitive, not, y'know, experiential.
While “Birding the Net,” players are challenged to collect dozens of virtual birds on over 100 highly trafficked websites. The game is both educational and fun, helping the next generation learn about the natural world around us. Whether you live in a city or on a farm, you can spot these birds from the comfort of your own home, no binoculars necessary!
No, Liza Nedelman of MPRM Communications, that is not how you "learn about the natural world." As another large corporation's slogan put, "just do it."

Why not tell people that playing Angry Birds on their smart phone is a genuine interaction with nonhuman nature?

I suppose that someone that "kids these days" have to be introduced to an online experience before they can have the real thing. Really? Stay indoors? Look at a screen?

No links. If you think that "birding the net" is a wizard idea, look it up yourself.

October 14, 2011

Various Thoughts on Bigfoot

I am not a Bigfoot hunter. Invisible partridge are challenge enough. So I am about two years late to the party when it comes to the Lumpkin County, Georgia (northeast of Atlanta) alleged Bigfoot sighting, captured by a deputy sheriff's dashboard video camera (YouTube) and witnessed by the deputy and his civilian passenger.

This video has been supplemented by analysis of the creature's apparent speed, reference to the terrain — the embedded GPS reading helps — and so, making for eight interesting minutes. (The Discovery Channel could get a hour-length program out of that, repeating everything six or eight times.)

I read about it in a recent issue of the venerable Fate magazine, "Bigfoot in Georgia," by Daniel Perez. (Georgia has some active hunters of "the Big Guy.")

Hmm, what about Colorado?

Back in the late 1980s, as a newspaper reporter, I interviewed a man who said two "creatures" had walked past his house and left footprints in the snow, which he photographed and showed me. The large tracks just ended abruptly in the fresh powder. Odd.

Having blogged once on the mystery of "Monkey Creek," with some trepidation I now typed "Colorado Bigfoot" into YouTube's search box. Here are the results.

The "Yellow Top Bigfoot" seems to move like a hunched-over human, if you ask me. So does this one. Several others all look like the same gorilla suit. One video's makers frankly call it a "mockumentary."

Meanwhile, in Central Asia

Central Asia and Siberia have a long history of big, shaggy bipeds. In fact, the same May-June 2011 issue of Fate that carried Daniel Perez's article mentioned above also reprinted one from its May 1961 issue, "Russia Seeks the Snowman," about a Dr. Alexander G. Pronin of the "Geographic Scientific Institute of Leningrad University" (no Google hits on that name, but there could be translation issues) seeing a "snowman" while on an International Geophysical Year expedition in the Pamir Mountains.

The hypothesis of a surviving population of Neanderthals, which has been explored in fiction, is brought out again:
Igor Burtsev, head of the International Center of Hominology in Moscow -- which investigates so-called snowmen -- told The Voice of Russia radio that "when Homo sapiens started populating the world, it viciously exterminated its closest relative in the hominid family, Homo neanderthalensis."

"Some of the Neanderthals, however, may have survived to this day in some mountainous wooded habitats that are more or less off limits to their arch foes. No clothing on them, no tools in hands and no fire in the household. Only round-the-clock watchfulness for a Homo sapiens around."
Hitting the Wall
One thing I notice with Bigfoot investigations (as with UFO investigations—and some say they are related) is that people get evidence and think that they are on the verge of the big discovery — and then it all stops. Nothing seems to be repeatable in a scientific way.

I have to say that sometimes I think that Bigfoot exists—but not in our world. Rather he/she/they are in a world that sometimes intersects with ours. Yep, like fairies, etc.

The late Grover Krantz, a physical anthropologist at Washington State University, published a book arguing for a physical Bigfoot that inhabited an ecological niche sort of like a nocturnal black bear—at least in the Pacific Northwest. Rather than Neanderthal, he suggested a surviving Gigantopithecus as a possibility.

But unless it had learned to hibernate, I do not see how such a creature could live in the Pamirs—or the Rockies. Black bears do not forage for food in the winter, and neither could an ape-man.

October 05, 2011

Convicts of the Corn

Sex offender being transported leaps from a prison van, allegedly upset with the poor quality of his vegetarian meals. (You can't make this up.)

He runs into a cornfield — bad move.

It's harvest time here in North Dakota. Mostly they are cutting soy and pinto beans. But when it's convict-hunting time, you change to your corn "head" and go.
The massive manhunt took a turn around noon today as the combines started to roll in to the Smith farmstead. Law enforcement officers hopped on board, fully armed and took off on a tear to find Megna.

"We decided that at the last minute, that if the corn was ready to take off, that this was the thing to do. We went after it and we did it."
 Watch the video at the 1:10 point.

Better than bloodhounds.

July 31, 2011

BLM Lets Christo Have His Way

As I said two years ago, the fix was in. The Bureau of Land Management sees no reason why ze gran artiste known modestly as Christo should not drape the canyon of the Arkansas River in plastic.

That would improve it, you see. In the words of one breathless High Art fan-girl, "It is thrilling that the BLM has embraced the idea of bringing plastic art into the natural landscape" (statement by Aspen museum director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson).
The preferred alternative identified in the BLM's final environmental impact statement largely matches the vision of the Bulgarian-born Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude. They wanted to suspend 5.9 miles of silvery panels in eight sections above a 42-mile stretch of the river that mostly involves federal land.
What may be worst is that the BLM has agreed to let his construction crews block part of the  already narrow and twisting highway, which could add hours to the travel time of anyone who just wants to go from Point A to Point B.

Part of the canyon—from Parkdale to Texas Creek—could be bypassed via a longer, twistier drive on two state highways, Colorado 96 and 69. But the "preferred alternative" stupidly would let Christo's crews tie up the highway between Texas Creek and Salida, where there is no alternative highway route without going hundreds of miles out of the way—no consolation to the people who actually, y'know, live there.

All so that Christo can make a pile of money. Actually, since he makes his money from the sketches and other "conceptual" stuff, he could stop now and come out ahead. From an artistic standpoint, since he makes artworks "that go away," why not take the next step and make artworks that never existed?

After Interstate 70, which is quite a bit further north, U.S. Highway 50 is the next-busiest east-west route across Colorado. Sure, Christo has promised delays of no more than 15 minutes per work site, but there are a bunch of work sites. They are just the little people, mice nibbling around the ankles of Christo's grand artistic vision.

These rolling road-closures would last for two years during the project's construction and for months during its removal.

All the tourist-industry people licking their chops over the anticipated brief flush of visitors had better get used to some lean times first.

Sociology professor-turned-Cañon City fly shop owner Bill Edrington speaks for many:
"I'm afraid we are going to lose a lot of fisherman support on this river, and many of us here have worked all our lives to build this river into something special, and this project will destroy that work," said Bill Edrington, owner of Cañon City's Royal Gorge Anglers. "We have a law firm standing by waiting to file an injunction."

The battle now heads to the courts and the local jurisdictions, including Fremont and Chaffee counties, which must issue construction permits.
Drag it out. Time is on your side. Christo "is an artist and has courage," but he does not look too healthy.

July 27, 2011

Anti-Christo Residents Sue State Parks-Wildlife Board

Last May, the Colorado Wildlife Commission voted against letting the artist known as Christo drape six miles of fabric panels over the Arkansas River in the narrow canyon followed by U.S. Highway 50 west of Cañon City.

The state parks board, however, liked the idea when it voted in June. (The land involved is managed by state parks as a recreational corridor, although it ultimately is under jurisdiction of the federal Bureau of Land Management.)

Then Gov. Hickenlooper rammed through the ill-conceived merger of the Division of Wildlife and the Division of Parks.

Now the new, combined board is being sued as an attempt by the anti-Christo forces (local residents, some rafting outfitters, and fly-fishing outfitters) to stop the project.
“We basically filed this lawsuit saying of they are not following their own rules,” [Rags Over The River] president Dan Ainsworth said. “They’re basically going against all of their duties and their rules and their regulations to protect the river, and they’re a big part of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area.”

Ainsworth said a tax- and fee-supported public area should not be turned over to one individual and his own private profit or gain, and the board “sold out” to Christo. . . .

Ainsworth said if OTR [Over the River]gets the green light from the BLM to proceed with the project, Christo will have complete control of the river for the next five years.

“Parks is basically giving up their control of the river and their overseeing of the activities on the river to Christo to do with as he pleases,” he said. “We think that’s shirking their duties to protect the river, protect the wildlife and protect the impacts on the residents and they’ve just totally handed it over to Christo.”

May 21, 2011

Suddenly, New York City is Full of (Pretend) Big-Game Hunters

"Hunting" at the Black Bear Lodge in Manhattan, a "theme-dive bar"
It's that sick, tired, old "drunk hunter" meme again.

But these are hipsters, so the New York TImes likes them.

Pretend-hunting is big at "the Black Bear Lodge, a hunting-themed bar in Gramercy Park."

May 14, 2011

Wildlife Commission Says No to Christo

In a unanimous vote, the Colorado Wildlife Commission recommended against covering parts of the Arkansas River with fabric panels, a vision of the artist Christo, who likes to "wrap" things, reports the Denver Post.
"This is an inappropriate action that we cannot support," commissioner Dorothea Farris said before initiating the decree at the commission's monthly workshop in Salida last Thursday. "We have a responsibility to protect the wildlife."
About 13 years into the artist's $50 million plan to temporarily suspend 5.9 miles of translucent fabric above the Arkansas River between Salida and Cañon City, the opposition of the Wildlife Commission represents the largest stumbling block for the project to date.

While approval or denial of the project falls outside of the commission's jurisdiction, its interpretation of detrimental consequences to abundant wildlife throughout the 42-mile corridor carries significant weight as the BLM decides whether to issue necessary permits based upon environmental impacts.
Salida writer Ed Quillan remains agnostic—at least he was last year—but one of his commenters summed up the view of many of those local residents who are not in the tourism business: "CDOT projects that a minor accident will cause a back up of thousands of cars. For what? The ego of a man who occasionally visits to say how good he is to us and how lucky we are to have his vision." I have noticed that aspect of his personality too.

March 08, 2011

Blog Stew at These Prices

• Snarky people like to call Boulder, Colorado, "twenty-five square miles surrounded by reality." So what do you call Aspen? "Disneyland for adults" has been suggested.

• In my corner of Colorado, my rural DNS service got a grade of D, "slower than 72% of US." (Why we do not watch streaming movies—not at download speeds of 1.29 megabytes/second. Hurray for Qwest "Heavy Duty Internet/Broadband Service.")

• You can compare your broadband-connection speed to the rest of the country too.

• On the other hand, our friend the Sun could easily make the whole question irrelevant, destroying online connectivity overnight.

• Corson County, South Dakota, sheriff has more buffalo than people in his county.

• And what's this "singing sheriff" stuff? Custer County's Fred Jobe is "the singing sheriff." Do we need a Singing Sheriff Showdown?

January 05, 2011

It's a Bird ... It's a Plane ... It's a Zionist Plot!

Israeli university researchers band a vulture and attach a GPS transmitter to it to see where vultures go.

Ignorant of national boundaries, the bird flies into Saudi Arabia — where it is arrested as a spy.

Sharks can be spies too, say the Saudis. Spies! Spies!

November 01, 2010

Vote Thomas Jefferson for President . . .

. . . and see your dwellings in flames.

Anyway, I hope you voted.

September 21, 2010

First, Let's Kill All the Carnivores

"But if suffering is bad for animals when we cause it, it is also bad for them when other animals cause it," argues Rutgers philosophy professor Jeff McMahan in a recent New York Times opinion piece, "The Meat Eaters."

In other words, for the lion truly to lie down with the lamb, as Isaiah prophesied, we have to kill the lion. I say "we have to," because the lions are not going to do it themselves voluntarily.

Only then will we have a truly moral world.

Bang bang. No more lions.

"I am therefore inclined to embrace the heretical conclusion that we have reason to desire the extinction of all carnivorous species," the professional ethicist writes.

 Once rid of wolves and weasels, however, Professor McMahan's work is not done.

Got to hurry the seals and orcas to extinction. Bang. And all the toothed whales. Kaboom!

After the mammals, the birds are next. No more eagles, hawks, owls, shrikes. Rat-tat-tat-tat. Bang bang. Same with the carrion-eaters. No carrion, no vultures, condors, ravens, and other species who might upset the desired moral equilibrium.

And then the bugs. Ladybugs—kill them all. Praying mantises. Predatory wasps. Spritz 'em.

So now we have a world of (compulsorily) vegan humans, rats, cockroaches, and crows.

But wait. Are white blood cells carnivores? They eat the bacteria, right? They're not a "species," but they are still eating living organisms.

Kill everything! Ah, what purity. What a clear understanding and acceptance of the natural world.

What cruelty in the name of ethics!

July 30, 2010

What is it about Zombies Anyway?

I don't normally cover the zombie beat, but you can download a podcast about preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

We are happy to be able to have Michael Culver, a member of Zombie Squad on the show to talk about disaster preparedness and give a few tips on how to survive a disaster short- and long-term. "If you can survive the Zombie Apocalypse, then a hurricane is just a breeze!"

In Wilmington, Vermont, it appears to have already started.

June 23, 2010

A Quick Bigfoot Retrospective

I could be blogging about the latest fire--started by the Royal Gorge tourist train, we are told--but it is thirty-plus miles away, and the smoke is going a different direction. (And my little fire department has not been been summoned and probably will not be.)

So let's have a Bigfoot round-up.

What prompted this was a recent piece about a North Carolina man who said that a bigfoot responded to his predator call.

The real question, however, is why J.R. Absher wrote, "Self-proclaimed North Carolina mountain man."

Back in my newspapering days, I was told by an editor that we used "self-proclaimed" to distance ourselves from a descriptor that might otherwise be considered libelous. (The example was "self-proclaimed witch" for a follower of the Wiccan religion.)

So "mountain man" is libelous? Or is the writer just questioning Peeler's credibility?

During the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Colorado rendezvous two weeks ago, the topic of Bigfoot came up again, as it might when you're walking through a thick stand of lodgepole pine amid wisps of fog.

Here is one originally from the Denver Post  seven years ago: "Legitimate scientific study of legend gains backing of top primate experts."

Another piece from 2001 by the same writer, Denver Post environmental reporter Theo Stein, mentions huge footprints along Colorado's Eagle River. (Stein is now communications director for the Colorado Dept. of Natural Resources, which is officially mum on Bigfoot.)

This Bigfoot site has quite a list of articles.

When it comes to giant hairy primates, I am firmly agnostic. People who spend more time in the woods than I do have "seen stuff."

The late Grover Krantz, a physical anthropologist, made the case for a creature occupying somewhat the same ecological niche as a bear--but more nocturnal--in his 1992 book Big Foot Prints.

Krantz taught at Washington State University, and his evidence and arguments pertained mainly to the rainy Pacific Northwest  forest.

But I cannot imagine a flesh-and-blood giant primate living in the harsher climate of the Rockies without the ability to enter a state of near-hibernation like a bear, because there is not much for an omnivore to eat in the winter time. No other primate does that.

June 04, 2010

If Conversation Lags while Duck Hunting . . .

... as you are gazing at the horizon, mention the first recorded incident of homosexual necrophilia among mallard ducks.

After the inevitable wisecracks, mention that it's now an unofficial holiday in the Netherlands: Dead Duck Day, June 5.

Perhaps the Chinese restaurants are promoting it, as the end of this Boing Boing post might suggest.

February 16, 2010

The Humane Society's Bogus Dog-Food Caper

The Humane Society of the United States, which has nothing to do with actual shelter animals, is now putting its name on a brand of dog food.

It is shipped all the way from Uruguay (carbon footprint, anyone?), perhaps because no American dog-food maker wants to be associated with HSUS.

It is promoted as vegetarian, but actually is not, if you read the fine print. (And what dog was ever voluntarily a vegetarian?)

Oh yes, and it's expensive. HSUS is all about the fund-raising.

Patrick Burns digs deeper here. More at the Smartdogs' blog as well.

February 06, 2010

More Weirdness in Lost Creek Wilderness

In a comment to my post on the strange sounds in the San Juans, Peculiar mentions something recent and sort of similar from the Lost Creek Wilderness Area, in the Pike National Forest southwest of Denver.

Yep. From my own Bigfoot-hunting (done only on the Web), I was aware of stories told and photos taken that center on a stream called, curiously, Monkey Creek, on the west side of the wilderness area.

I don't know that country--all of my modest hiking and backpacking into Lost Creek has been from the east side. Nothing out of the ordinary ever happened to me.

(Note that the poster was coming into the Lost Creek area from the northeast.)

My father's Forest Service career took him in and out of the Pike NF, from his late-1930s forestry school days when he planted trees there in the summer to his final position on the forest supervisor's staff in the 1960s.

So I asked him once if he knew how Monkey Creek got its name. He had no idea.

I'm still wondering.

Who is Calling in the San Juans?

Snow has been falling heavily in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Bigfoot (Bigfeet? Bigfoots?) must be hibernating.

In the summer and fall, however, their haunting calls are heard.

OK, smart guy, what is it?

January 20, 2010

Theorizing the Yowie

Darren Naish reviews a recent book on the Yowie, Australia's Bigfoot.

While it's all very well saying that any and all reports of an ape-like creature in the Australian bush are nonsense and that the phenomenon can hence be rejected without question, the problem is that at least some Yowie accounts really do sound extremely intriguing at the very least. Maybe all the reports represent misidentifications, hoaxes and the manifestations of cultural stereotypes or something, but even if this is so, there's still an interesting phenomenon here that's worthy of investigation. Those of us predominantly interested in zoology sometimes forget that cryptozoological reports might tell us more about folklore, psychology, witness perception and/or cultural transmission than anything else. As a result I still think that investigation of subjects like the Yowie is worthwhile, and within the remit of science.

January 11, 2010

Renaissance Scuba Gear

I am not a scuba diver, and I live a long way from the ocean, but I had to post this.

How do you suppose he swings that polearm underwater?

December 20, 2009

Cattle Mutilations Return? Part 4

(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

How do cattle die? Lots of ways. Lightning kills hundreds on the Colorado prairie every year, I learned when I was a reporter. Add in various infections, "hardware disease," rattlesnake bites on the nose—and, yes, four-footed predators.

Back then, I was exposed to all the wildly elaborate explanations of the mutilations, each one requiring more secrecy, more advanced technology, and a bigger cover-up than the last. Occam's razor was nowhere in sight.

Then one day in the early 1980s I was deer hunting in eastern Washington with my father. On our lunch break we crossed the border to visit the ranching cousins on the British Columbia side.

Somehow the conversation turned to predators. My cousin Wendell was saying how right after a cow dies of natural causes, coyotes will approach the carcass but not chew on it right away.  Dad (hunter, forest ranger) nodded in agreement.

"Aha!" I thought. How many times had I been told that it was spooky and weird how coyotes, in particular, would approach a "mutilated" (eyes, rectum gone) cow but not eat from it right away!  Yet here were Dad and Wendell treating that as normal behavior. (more after the jump)