It’s called “Kook Magnetism”

Oh, boy, another conference: The “They Are Real” Crypto Conference to be held at the Mt Blanco Creation “Museum” in Texas. Everyone ought to go, it’s cheap at $30. I’d go, except I’m on a greatly truncated budget this year — someone tell Aron Ra he ought to attend, he’s right there somewhere in the small state of Texas, too.

I don’t know who any of these speakers are, except Joe Taylor (loony proprietor of the Mt Blanco Creation Museum) and Mothman (I’m impressed that they got it as a speaker). Not even Google knows who they are; there are so many Tom Taylors and Daniel Joneses that they just get lost in a sea of names, and seem to have done nothing to make them stand out. OK, I could find Kloetzke on the basis of her unusual name — she’s a UFO investigator. And Judkins works with Carl Baugh, somehow.

But look at the topics! UFO BIG FOOT MOTHMAN GIANTS PERU NOAH’S ARK CHUPACABRA MAN & DINOSAURS TOGETHER EYE WITNESSES! PERU is a rather large topic that isn’t necessarily nuts, but I think that’s being used as a code word for ANCIENT ASTRONAUTS and BAD ARCHAEOLOGY.

I also like that line, They used to call us nuts kooks and weirdos. Not anymore. Sorry, guy, we still do, and you still are.

You want details? They sent more in an email.

Moth Man, Big Foot, UFOs, Chupacabra, Giants, Peruvian Skulls, Noah’s Ark – “THEY ARE REAL!” These are the speakers’ topics for the October 1-2, 2018 They Are Real Conference, to be held in Crosbyton, Texas at the Pioneer Memorial Museum, 101 W. Main ST. Crosbyton, Texas 79322, 806-675-2421, www.mtblanco.com

MOTH MAN: There will be eye-witnesses. FIVE sightings of the very strange and terrifying Moth Man in Crosbyton alone. A woman hit one and dented her car. It was as tall as a man but had wings. When she approached it, it stood up and flew away. Another one chased a pick up at high speed at Sundown, Texas. News reports of them terrorizing towns in West Virginia and Iowa have surfaced.

BIG FOOT: How many bullets does it take to stop an eight-foot-tall Big Foot? The man who knows will tell you at the conference. What do they eat? Do they leave gifts? The Big Foot Lady and her neighbor will tell all about it. Are they human??

UFOs: Two cowboys saw a UFO in Blanco Canyon. What did it do? What did another cowboy see that convinced him he was not seeing a known aircraft?

CHUPACABRA: This weird vampire dog called the “goat sucker” and the “hell dog” in Mexican folk lore was just what they said it was. It was not a myth. The Mt. Blanco Museum in Crosbyton, had the best specimen of El Chupacabra. The carcass of it and a coyote were both examined in a University lab to see exactly what it is. They’re not a mangy coyote. Tom Taylor will describe the one he encountered in Lubbock, Texas.

NOAH’S ARK: You’re daring death to climb Mt. Ararat searching for Noah’s ark. Aaron Judkins did just that and got a Hollywood film crew to go with him! He will explain how hard the whole ordeal was.

ELONGATED SKULLS OF PERU: No American has spent more time with these very strange, very long skulls from Peru than Joe Taylor, curator of the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum. With their having only one parietal bone, instead of two – (the two halves of the top of the skull) – and then having sometimes two dozen extra bones in the skull, it is easy to see why so many researchers wondered if they were alien instead of human. Taylor says, “Spending weeks with those skulls studying them in order to mold them and having made accurate reproductions of them has given me insights that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.” He was part of the LA Marzulli WATCHERS team and Brien Forester, that recently did a press release on the DNA results of these skulls. Accurate casts of them will be on display at the conference. Heard of the Star Child Skull? Researchers were convinced it was alien. The woman who owns it will be here to talk about it. An exact cast will be on display.

THEY ARE REAL is a conference to educate people, especially those who are reluctant to even discuss these strange phenomena. “The TV series Ancient Aliens talks about a lot of these subjects, but their view is pretty one-sided”, said Joe Taylor who is the organizer of the conference. Taylor continued, “I know some of the people on that show and they don’t give the whole story.” They bring in the Bible, but their take on it is skewed. Several of the skulls and artifacts I have worked on somehow show up in the show and on many websites. It irks me that they throw around fantastic dates on these objects that I know are not true. Thus, our conference.”

YES, THERE’S MORE – The mummified hand will be on display. It’s not human. It’s not a bear… It came from Big Foot country. What is it? Don Monroe is a true living Indiana Jones. He will be here to discuss the hand and so many incredible adventures that your head will spin!

Still, what makes this interesting is how they just smoosh up a wild collection of miscellaneous bad ideas, all unrelated to each other, and toss them all in a sloppy pot of conspiracy theory and bible worship and magic monsters, and each speaker probably has their own ludicrous obsession, but as I’ve seen at other events, no one will disagree with anyone else, regardless of how foolish their hypotheses are. It ought to be called a credulity conference.

Behold, the beginnings of my SPIDER ARMY!

One of my secret projects during my sabbatical is the cultivation of spider embryos, and I got my first hint of success today, with the emergence of my very first spider swarm from an egg sac. It is only the beginning — there will be more (and with practice, maybe my photomicrography of these guys will improve).

Coincidentally, this is also Skatje’s birthday, so it’s an auspicious day to spawn the first cohort of my arachnolegion.

So that’s how you deal with lobsters

Christie Wilcox describes a terrible experiment. Investigators were mystified by an area around a Pacific island that was empty of lobsters, so they dumped a bunch of lobsters there to see what happened. And then…

“Visibility was great that day, and virtually the entire sea bottom started to move,” he said.

That movement was countless whelks. They started to climb onto the newcomers, sticking to their legs. “I didn’t know then, but they’d started to suck them alive, basically. It was like a horror movie,” Barkai said. “It actually was a bit frightening to watch.” The lobsters simply didn’t know how to respond. They were outnumbered and overwhelmed.

“To my horror, in about 30, 40 minutes, all the lobsters were killed.”

Barkai managed to bring two whelk-coated lobsters back to the surface to show the crew—which is when the first photo in this piece was shot. The bewilderment on his face says everything. On the ship, they carefully pulled the whelks off—over 300 per lobster. “When we removed the whelks from the lobsters, they were empty shells. There was no meat left at all whatsoever. They were simply empty shells,” he recalled. “Basically the only thing that kept them together was the whelks, so the moment we removed the whelks, the lobsters just fell apart.”

But perhaps the most awful part was seeing up close how the whelks had done the lobsters in. They had penetrated every single soft tissue that they could find with their tubular mouthparts—the lobsters’ eyes, joints, anywhere with even a little give. “You could see these very long pipes coming in from the inside of the lobster,” Barkai explained. The poor lobsters—”they didn’t have a chance.”

So, to oppose the lobsters, one must be a whelk. Which is interesting, because the lobster-devouring whelks don’t seem to exhibit much in the way of hierarchical behavior, and do have some anti-lobsterian social behaviors.

Pity the male of the marine whelk, Solenosteira macrospira. He does all the work of raising the young, from egg-laying to hatching — even though few of the baby snails are his own.

The surprising new finding by researchers at the University of California, Davis, puts S. macrospira in a small club of reproductive outliers characterized by male-only child care. Throw in extensive promiscuity and sibling cannibalism, and the species has one of the most extreme life histories in the animal kingdom.

Now that I’ve stuck the knife in, let’s twist it a bit.

“The promiscuity in the female snails is extraordinary,” Kamel said, noting that some females mate with as many as a dozen different males.

Whelks: the lobster’s worst nightmare. I’ve been saying for years you’ve got to admire a good mollusc.

That’s not how anything works

MGTOWs. They’re what you get if you take an evil MRA and scour out half their brain with ignorance.

A man can be proud of his perfectly lovely testes, which are alive and full of living cells, but it’s just stupid to think a woman’s ovaries are not equivalently full of life. This idea that a “man puts life into the womb” that is otherwise just a dead cave is so Fourth Century BC — the male and female contributions are equally vital. But, you know, even Aristotle thought the woman contributed living matter that was quickened by the organizing principle of the masculine seed, so it isn’t even that sophisticated.

So wrong. But then ol’ @RedBeardHam has to get even more foolish.

Guy. Do you even realize that 50 million sperm die every time you use your fleshlight or blow-up doll or hand?

Dinner at the Petersons’

I think I’d pass. Following the lead of the daughter, Mikhaila Peterson, she and her father, Jordan, eat a diet that consists entirely of “beef, salt, and water”, and they never, ever cheat. Well, not exactly. Mikhaila admits I can also, strangely enough, tolerate vodka and bourbon, which is nice — one does wonder what else she can tolerate.

Jordan Peterson admits to also drinking club soda, which, after being told is just water, he feels compelled to clarify.

“Well, when you’re down to that level, no, it’s not, Joe. There’s club soda, which is really bubbly. There’s Perrier, which is sort of bubbly. There’s flat water, and there’s hot water. Those distinctions start to become important.”

Context! Speaking precisely! It’s all very important! What you eat, not so much.

The author of the article asked an expert about the consequences of an all-beef diet.

“Physiologically, it would just be an immensely bad idea,” Jack Gilbert, the faculty director at the University of Chicago’s Microbiome Center and a professor of surgery, told me during a recent visit to his lab. “A terribly, terribly bad idea.”

Gilbert has done extensive research on how the trillions of microbes in our guts digest food, and the look on his face when I told him about the all-beef diet was unamused. He began rattling off the expected ramifications: “Your body would start to have severe dysregulation, within six months, of the majority of the processes that deal with metabolism; you would have no short-chain fatty acids in your cells; most of the by-products of gastrointestinal polysaccharide fermentation would shut down, so you wouldn’t be able to regulate your hormone levels; you’d enter into cardiac issues due to alterations in cell receptors; your microbiota would just be devastated.”

While much of the internet has been following this story in a somewhat snide way, Gilbert appeared genuinely concerned and saddened: “If she does not die of colon cancer or some other severe cardiometabolic disease, the life—I can’t imagine.”

I’m also thinking of the consequences of a lack of fiber, and the strain on your kidneys, and of a 26 year old with severe gout. Beef and alcohol, that’s what you’re going to get. Unless, of course, you’re just like the Breatharians, who claim to live on air and sunlight, yet have regularly been caught cheating.

But he says he never ever cheats! Well, that’s exactly what a cheater would say, and isn’t it odd that he asserted that when no one had accused him of doing so?

I thought this was the meat of the article, the real conflict in what they’re promoting:

The popularity of Peterson’s narrative is explained by more than its timeless tropes; it has also been amplified by the fact that her father has occasionally cast his spotlight onto her story. Jordan Peterson’s recent book, Twelve Rules for Life, includes the story of his daughter’s health trials. The elder Peterson, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, could at first seem an unlikely face for acceptance of personal, subjective truth, as he regularly professes the importance of acting as purely as possible according to rigorous analysis of data. He argued in a recent video that American universities are the home to ideologues who claim that all truth is subjective, that all sex differences are socially constructed, and that Western imperialism is the sole source of all Third World problems. In his book, he writes that academic institutions are teaching children to be brainwashed victims, and that the rigorous critical theoretician is morally obligated to set them straight.

He demands adherence to an objective truth, but happily wanders off into the weeds on the basis of anecdotes. Actually, if you ever listen to his lectures, all he’s got are subjective opinions that spring out of the twisty morass of his brain, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s endorsing dietary quackery. What he says has an extraordinarily tenuous connection to what he does.

My daughter is roughly the same age as Mikhaila Peterson. I’m proud of how Skatje turned out sensible and reasonable and living a well-balanced life, although she’s probably not going to get as rich off bunkum with as little work as Mikhaila.

Also, my daughter is a vegetarian, which kind of makes her the anti-Mikhaila.

The movie this week is…The Spy Who Dumped Me

My wife and I visited the Morris theatre to see The Spy Who Dumped Me. I have mixed feelings about this one — it’s got actors I generally like, it whizzed along at a good clip, and there were a few laughs in it, but the story. Jeez, the story.

I can sort of imagine how this thing was pitched, as a mish-mash of common tropes. It’s a fish out of water story, and it’s a spy story, and it’s a buddy movie, and the two buddies are women. There’s a mcguffin! Also, it’s got John Wickian moments of ultra-violence! Plus, clever moments of subtle comedy, where female spies have the advantage of a special place where they can hide the mcguffin. It’ll be great!

On the positive side, Mila Kunis is good, and Kate McKinnon is…antic. I like McKinnon, but the eye-bulging mugging is more appropriate for impersonating Giuliani, and got to be a bit much (a phrase used within the movie to describe her character). She’s not really acting here, but is going over the top ala Jim Carrey. I’m looking forward to the day she calms down and tries to build a character on a serious foundation.

This is supposed to be a comedy, but it is also set in what looks like a very dark universe, populated with mostly evil characters. Kunis meets the spy (the one who will dump her) in a bar, and later it turns out that the bar is full of other spies watching her. They later have to try to exchange the mcguffin in a Vienna cafe, and everyone there, patrons, waitstaff, bartender, everyone, is armed to the teeth and trying to get their hands on the mcguffin, and it erupts into a fierce gun battle in which everyone is shooting at everyone else, there’s no sense of who is on what side, and you don’t really care who wins. But it’s an excuse to double-tap people in the head, knife them, break necks, and leave a bloody tableau of corpses sprawled all over the floor and furniture. It’s a bit much, and doesn’t mesh well with any sense of comedy.

While it moves along from moment to moment, with fragments of entertainment no matter how discordant with each other, the overall plot is a mess. The ending feels like something that was cobbled together without regard for prior events, just to bring it to a conclusion, and there’s no sense of continuity in the story. Mild plot spoilers below — but trust me, they don’t really matter, because it’s not as if knowing them affects the flow of the story, or that there is a story that needs to be resolved.

[Read more…]

Praying for a resurrection

I don’t want Jesus to come back, I’d much prefer to see Mars Rover Opportunity rise from the dead. It’s been silent for almost 3 months as a massive dust storm prevented its solar panels from charging, but that storm is finally subsiding, so there’s hope it will recharge and start transmitting again.

It’s been working for 14 years, which is amazing. I’ve had cars that lasted that long, but we brought them in for tune-ups every year. It’s sister robot, Spirit, went dead in 2010. Mars Rover Curiosity landed in 2012 and is still cruising around. These robots are a pretty good deal — I don’t think an astronaut would last anywhere near as long, and he’d be too busy growing poop potatoes to get much science done.