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Monday, June 28, 2021

Time to Go (Part 3)

 After the Devonian, some recognizable sauropsids  developed along with a new group, the synapsids (likely precursors to mammals). Then with the Permian-Triassic Extinction 250 million years ago, 96% of all species disappeared in the "Great Dying" of Earth's history......even our friend the dimetrodon. Volcanic activity seems to have led to bacteria getting a boost in methane production, resulting in a toxic environment. No other extinction resulted in so great a species loss.

Some Permian creatures, sauropsids on the left, synapsids on the right.

All life had to rebound and diversify from the remaining 4%, and did...as life always does, leading to the development of mammals in the Triassic/Jurassic. In fact, mammals actually outnumbered archosaurs, and oddly, instead of "inheriting the Earth" as the new chosen species, volcanic activity caused mammals to die off in greater number in the Triassic/Jurassic Extinction which occurred about 200 million years ago than their reptilian counterparts. 

Crocodillian: "Hey ladies, wanna come play in my dungeon?"
Lead archosaur: "Just keep walking, girls. Ignore him."
Last archosaur: "Ummmm, but that sounds like fun."

That extinction then enabled dinosaurs to develop and rule the Earth for the next 135 million years, setting the stage for tremendous film and merchandising opportunities once humans came on the scene.............(but that was still a ways off.) Life was like a blissful Jurassic Park with everybody happily killing and eating everybody else, except it was no longer the Jurassic Period (Hollywood morons) and there were no humans around in safari suits to fuck things up. Everybody went about their business of grazing, or hunting, or mating......right up until a big asteroid landed around the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the wipe-out of 76% of the known species. This was the famous Cretaceous/Paleogene Extinction of 65 million years ago. 

Small dinosaur: "Dominant species, my ass! When I get you home, you're getting one heckuva tail whipping! Embarrassing me like that in front of the Triceratops. Hrumph!"

And that brings us to the Holocene Period which we are in now, the one with people in it. In our last segment we will look at "us" in the context of what the past has taught us and examine....or re-examine.....the significance of our role, our relative importance, and what it means to be the critter who developed the ability to make sugary breakfast cereals and I-Phones. 




Friday, June 25, 2021

Time to Go (Part 2)

Utterly unrelated and gratuitous image of an activity that makes me glad I'm not yet extinct.

The topic I am undertaking with Earth's development, evolution, and extinction events could take a semester or even a lifetime to study depending on the degree of detail one wishes to examine. For our purposes here, I will be as brief as possible. For topics like this, I usually would avoid Wiki" and go to a more established science platform, but since we are being general in our approach I will offer this link which will give a more detailed view than what I will share, but still be brief enough for basic understanding: (Link to Geologic Time Scale with events)

To begin, let's go back 4600 million years to the formation of the Earth from swirling clouds to a tumultuous rock. Eventually things cooled down and meteor and asteroid bombardments bring water to the planet. And not that long after water is introduced, very early proto-life develops in the form of nucleic acids and eventually simple self-replicating cells. But this takes time......a LOT of time. While evidence points to life as early as 4280 million years ago, it isn't until 4000 million years ago that we see fossil evidence of it. Eventually bacteria develop that produce............OXYGEN! 

More complex cells develop with nuclei. And nearly 2000 million years  later we see the Earth with an oxygen atmosphere. This is a game-changer and also important in realizing that evolution is not one-sided. Organisms don't merely adapt to a changing geological environment, but contribute to changing that environment by their mere presence. The development of the non-living characteristics of our planet is just as influenced by the presence of life, as life is influenced by the non-living aspects. Things are what they are because of this complex, often chance-orchestrated dance of circumstances. 

Once cells become complex and begin to form very primitive multicellular organisms, the jump to more complex organisms seems wondrous. And about 540 million years ago life explodes across the seas in the "Cambrian Explosion" (not a destructive explosion like a bomb, but a very rapid diversification of complex life).

"How would you like ME to spank you with all of my paddly appendages at once?!"
Anomalocaris, an apex predator in the Cambrian sea, going about his business. Trilobites beware!

"Screw all that hitting crap! Needle play anyone?"
The aptly named Hallucigenia, one of the strangest things to not be part of a Tim Burton film. 

The Cambrian Period then led to the Ordovician Period and green plants appeared on land. In the Silurian, jawless fish, and then jawed fish, appeared. And then 443 million years ago, 85% of this abundant life died out. The first mass extinction, likely caused by cooling Earth temperatures and falling sea levels. 

While seemingly a disastrous event, this purge left an open playing field for new life to develop, and in the Devonian Period it did just that. Plants and insects covered the land, and in the sea an abundance of critters flourished. That is until  the end of this Period, where predominantly the sea creatures died out as well. No one is sure why this extinction occurred and theories are plentiful and plausible, but the result was oceanic anoxia that led to a lot of carbon from the dead sea life being locked away as oil. (Your car is running on dead Devonians.)

The reason life died out in the Devonian was the absence of safewords among the kinky. 
"Hey! I said NO BLOOD!"
"Sorry, but you don't have an ass to smack, so I have to hit you somewhere!" 
Dunkleosteous fish testing their armor.

In the next installment we will look at what happened after the Devonian extinction. ( Hint: history tends to repeat itself. )






Thursday, June 24, 2021

Time to Go (Part 1)

STOP!!!!.  MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. If you have not yet taken the short, 5-question quiz in the previous post's Intro portion of this series, please do so before continuing. No need to post your answers....unless you want to, but these posts are about challenging your current beliefs about the Earth and our place in it. Naturally you'd want to see what your current beliefs are before seeing if you were right or not. 

________________________________________________

Welcome back! So how do you think you did? We have a pretty smart bunch of regulars here, so I am confident you nailed it........but let's see. Questions 1, 2, 3, & 5 can be answered in a few simple sentences: There have been 5 generally accepted mass extinction events since life first appeared with each event rendering at least 60% of the known species at the time extinct. 


Some events even eliminated as many as 96% of certain species, which was much more than the 76% loss during the well-known "dinosaur extinction". Each event was the result of a set of circumstances that 'changed the game' for the current organisms and their demise then provided an opportunity for a new wave of lifeforms to fill the void, adapted to the new environment. Life would then exploit every niche...........right up until the next big change that wiped them out. Sometimes these changes in the environment were catastrophic accidents, geological changes, and even the result of the by-products or "emissions" of the predominant life forms themselves. 


This was a shot I took on our recent vacation as we stood beside the Taughannock Falls. I remarked at the time that it was like looking at a calendar of the Earth without the dates or Periods written in. The inspiration for this series of posts was in fact the feeling of standing on that river bed, exposed by a combination of plate tectonics and glacial erosion, that was once the floor of a primeval ocean. 

And here is a rendering with the Periods.

And since there were several Periods between a sterile planet and today, some creatures, like the dimetrodon previously pictured, were able to avoid confrontations with T-Rexes merely by never having lived alongside them, separated not by topography but instead by 200 million years!

Question #4 is a different story and we will get more into our place in this long equation as this piece develops. But before we do that, let's take things as they actually played out............succintly..........but with enough detail to tell a lucid story. Next time: The Pre-Cambrian and beyond- life doesn't begin instantly, but once it gets going.............BOOM!!! (I'll even throw in some kinky captions, LOL)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Time to Go (Intro)

 The art of being a good guest is to know when to leave.

 ~ Prince Philip​.

While some debate whether we are truly in the beginning stages of the next mass extinction, the numbers seem to support the assertion. Species are disappearing fast, and we are accelerating the process. 

I love to build things or take something old and decrepit and make it better than before. My house prior to this one qualified as a true 'fixer-upper'. I spent years turning it into something better than what I walked into. A couple of years ago our neighbor from across our street tried to do the same with his place, only to sink in an ever-deepening hole of frustration with each visible problem hiding worse problems underneath. Eventually he gave up and sold it. The new owner did not try to fix the place but rather razed it to its foundation and started fresh. The new house is a far cry from the previous dwelling. Sometimes you can't fix something and need to start fresh.

On a political level, I currently believe that to be true of our government right now. Nothing seems able to penetrate toxic partisanship, not a pandemic, not global warming, nothing. I have spent hours debating possible solutions with politically-savvy friends to no avail. Sadly, I just think we are at the end of our run. But this post is not about politics. It's about extinctions, because politics aside, everything I have seen in the recent decades of my lifetime indicate that as guests on this planet, we have long worn out our welcome.

Covid 19 shut down human activity enough to result in cleaner water, air, and the return of wildlife to areas previously uninhabited. Carbon emission rates fell 6.4%. That was in less than a year. Imagine if we left for good?

But before I go about discussing extinction events, let's get a feel for where we all are on the facts. (For the sake of being a true indicator of where people's day-to-day awareness falls, please avoid looking up these topics and just answer from your gut instinct.)

KDP's Extinction Quiz 

(sorry, no spanking questions....but really? haven't you answered them all by now, probably more than once?) 

1: We all know about the dinosaurs and the meteor impact that likely caused or accelerated their demise, but was that the only time something like this happened?  How many times do you think life came close to vanishing here?

2: When you think of an extinction event, what do you think is the percentage of lost species?

3: How did this guy avoid being eaten by a T-Rex?


4: What is your personal opinion on the relative significance of humans existing?

a: Very important and divinely ordained

b: Very important as this planet's highest evolutionary achievement 

c: Important only to ourselves

d: A detriment, the most dangerous creature to have ever evolved

e: Neither important nor a detriment, just something that a series of chance events led to

Are you EGO, ECO, or BOGO driven?

5: True or False. "Humans are the only occupants of this planet that have negatively altered the environment for the current life present."

That's it. Just 5 questions to ponder. You can answer them in a comment if you wish or just keep your answers in your head for a bit. In subsequent posts we will explore the ones with actual answers and speculate about the one that is a bit more opinion-driven. 



Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Moustache





Remember when a question like: "Hey, did you ever notice that Charlie Chaplin and Oliver Hardy had the same moustache as Hitler?" might get a response like, "wow, you're right", or "yes I have" or "that's freaky"? That same question now, in our Age of Outrage Over Everything, is more likely to provoke some idiot to say, "how dare you compare Chaplin and Hardy to Hitler? Hitler killed millions of people. The other two were just comedians who only made people laugh!" even when that is not the comparison being made.

The Age of Outrage Over Everything has produced eager disciples ready to find the offense in any situation..........and if there's no offense present, you simply invent one. (The rampant stupidity I have seen flourish recently [last decade] sort of takes the sting out of living in the period of Earth's 6th mass extinction event.* But maybe it's time to wipe the slate almost clean, and start over with perhaps a less dangerous species being the dominant force on the planet?)

*Stay tuned. An entire post on mass extinctions will be coming in a few days or so. Unfortunately there won't be any spanking involved BUT perhaps I'll add spanking captions to the illustrations of the various Periods of the Earth's past? 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Return from vacation

We're back. 

Rosa and I went on a short, 4-day vacation to Ithaca, in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, to see the waterfalls of the area. Here's one:


To be honest, it was a very good trip with very few disappointments, and even those were minor. However, to be honest yet again, I am not in a great mood. The reasons for this are not anything I wish to discuss. At least not yet, and definitely not today, but I find it increasingly wearying to just not have things work out as planned or hoped for. The adult part of my brain knows this is just the way life works, but another part of me, while accepting the inevitability of disappointment, is not immune to resenting it. 

I will post more when my mood changes. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Fox & Geese


If you're into D/s, BDSM, etc., and used to things being unequal, have I got a game for you! Fox & Geese is a game that dates back to the Vikings and is admirable for one very unusual aspect: it is one of the only board games with unequal sides, often with different rules, vying to win in a balanced contest. Unfortunately that impressive distinction is also its biggest downfall. Achieving a balance between unequal sides is elusive at best, and may well be impossible. 

One classic example of a Fox & Geese gameboard.

Researching the game yields one very consistent result: inconsistency! There are so many variations to this game that it is mindboggling. It seems that each time a set of rules were enacted, either the fox or geese had an advantage. So someone would add a new rule or change something to try to balance the odds only to have the scales tip in the other direction.

The basic game usually involves some number of geese and one (sometimes two) fox(es). The fox moves about wherever  it wishes trying to either kill geese or pass them and get to the opposite end of the board. The geese cannot move backwards nor kill the fox, so their goal is to use strategy and numbers to trap it so it cannot make another move. This game often seems to come down to not making a mistake.....like tic tac toe. If you play well, the geese seem predisposed to winning, but if they make a mistake, then the fox has a good chance of turning the tables. 

Recently my son found a very basic version of the game he got at Colonial Williamsburg many years ago and thought it would be a good addition to either my Federal Period living room, or for our Annual RenFaire. We tried a few different versions and I even modified the board, but we still seem to find the game is never quite balanced. It is however, undeniably quaint. 

My question to all of you is if you've ever played this and found a version that seems balanced, with equal opportunity for either a fox win or geese win, please let me know. 

If you've never played, doing so is as simple as drilling some holes in a board and using something as pegs to move about. It's never going to replace chess as the ultimate board game, but it is historic and unique in its gameplay. So give it a try.....if for no other reason than the novelty of playing something that is not new at all. 




Friday, June 4, 2021

Even worse

 Yesterday I had to pick up some butter, and I've always purchased "Land O Lakes" (unsalted, in half sticks). Now I'm fully aware of the whole package design reboot that coincided with the elimination of Aunt Jemima, et al, but time has not inured me to the change. In fact, yesterday, as I looked at the box, I couldn't help but think that the new design was FAR more insensitive than the old one.

Here is the old design: 

The old package design, which I never thought was offensive. In fact, as someone sympathetic to Native American issues, I felt this was warm and pretty positive....even while admittedly commercial. But 'hey' it's advertising. 

And here is the new one: 

Comparatively stark and seemingly implying that "Hey everybody, we FINALLY got those pesky Indians off our lake!"

As I stared at the cold, empty space of the new package, I couldn't help but think: "so, profit-seeking White folks drove Native Americans from their lands, and NOW, they've driven them off this once-serene label!" Instead of seeing the new design as enlightened, I found it to be symbolic of what has been done to these indigenous people from the time settlers first arrived: pushing them off land, in this case, land bordering a lake. Purging the native element. I am not Native American myself and I don't know what actual Native Americans think of the change, but I sure found it to be cringey. 

To put this in context, let me give you all a little background. Back in the 80's I was a Washington Redskins fan. ( I thought Joe Gibbs was the master of the halftime adjustment, and "the Hogs" were a force to be reckoned with.) But I bristled at their name. I saw no difference between "redskin" and "nigger" in intent. It was and still is a derisive term. It's not the name of a tribe, or of a 'chief' or brave', but clearly a term used as a pejorative.  I didn't think the image was offensive though, and found it a stark contrast to the Cleveland Indians' cartoonish caricature. Had the team been called by a different name, and kept the logo, I would have seen no issue. 

Cleveland's contribution to Native American culture. 

I wrote them. They wrote back. The dismissive response I got back then angered me and prompted me to give them up completely, and for years I didn't have a team, or even watch football. Even now I only occasionally watch a game if someone else has it on, or if it's a Super Bowl I have any interest in. Fast forward several DECADES to 'the new woke era' and the name has finally been eliminated. It sure took long enough.

In contrast, I found the Native American reaction to the debacle encircling Elizabeth Warren, during the primaries to be absurd. Here you have a person who was told by her mother that she was part Native American, and who IDENTIFIED and SYMPATHIZED with Native Americans, and even has an opponent calling her "Pocahontas", but was misled. She was not as Native American as she thought or claimed. BUT SHE WAS ON THEIR SIDE! Nope, no good. "How dare she try to identify with us?!" they jeered.  Nonsense. How about look at who is with you and who is against you for real, and be harder on your opponents and a little more forgiving of those who are trying to help?

And here's one more thought to ponder. About a year ago, on our way to Niagara Falls, we drove through "Indian land". Signs were posted along the road stating we were in a section of our country owned by the Seneca nation. And here's the kicker: periodically one could see establishments open for business, owned and operated by the Seneca people, each sporting images of Native Americans that make the Land O Lakes woman seem like an ideal to be strived for in advertising! I was stunned. With all this concern over stereotypic imagery, here were images as bad or worse than anything I've seen any White ad agency come up with, and yet they're on Indian land and under Native American sponsorship.

So as you can see, my view is not all one side or the other, but is based on what I always try to do and take each case as it comes. The treatment of Native Americans in this country is historically abysmal and gets far less attention than it warrants.  But they are people too, and not always angelic, or right, or perfect. Still, for whatever issue one wishes to focus on, the legitimate problems facing Native Americans are not going to be assuaged by the changing of a football team's name, or by the redesign of a butter box. 










Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Mother Teresa

Sometimes you just can't predict how a post is going to go. Take this one for example. I had intended to take another sarcastic shot deriding the kinky captioning of 'innocent' and ad/stock photos to add my voice to Tomy's recent post. (See Tomy's blog "Tomy's Wife")

I intended to again see if the advocates of captioning as "fair game", and "perfectly OK" could condone some of my suggestions. My first offering was this stock photo, still sporting its watermark as an example of just what kinds of pictures are out there. 

Yeah, I mean, OBVIOUSLY this kid is just asking for it right? I mean, hell, she agreed to be a stock model, so whatever happens, happens. Serves her parents right for exploiting her for profit at such a young age. The bastards. 

So I thought, "hmmmm, what could be a good caption for this?" How about: "It's a nice cake, but I'd rather be blowing my Mom's boyfriend's BBC instead of these stupid candles." ? I mean who could object to that? And to make caption-lovers even more comfortable with the sentiment, I could even use the incorrect but meme-popular "it be", misspell 'rather' and write it like this: "It be a nice cake, but I rathur be blowin' some BBC." Perfect. Hell, even the girl's parents couldn't object to something like that......after all, they encouraged her to be a stock model.

Then I thought: what next? What female celebrity could I exploit to further my point? Whose image would contrast nicely with some spank-porn trope? Well, obviously Mother Teresa! So I found this shot and came up with the proposed caption below:

"I can't cure you, but I can give you a good spanking."

And that's when the unexpected happened. Alongside the standard stuff on Mother Teresa was this opinion/review of  HBO's "The Turning: The Sisters Who Left"ARTICLE ) which described scenes of torment and self-flagellation being advocated by Mother Teresa. The irony was too funny. In the past, an argument I had heard defending captions on non-kinky models was "how do you know the person ISN'T kinky?" And here was that argument playing out in real life! 

I can't say the coincidence changed my mind. I STILL think captioning (or worse, Photoshopping) non-kinky stock, personal, or ad photos with spank or kink captions is wrong. Except now I can't shake the unsettling thought of that little blonde finishing up her shoot and going home to some BBC. (Someone should pray to Saint Mother Teresa on her behalf.)

At least my other objection to kink-captions is unshaken: and that is that regardless of the original photo's subject, whether presumed innocent or clearly kinky, whether lifted from a porn site or from Facebook, the overwhelming majority are like a McDonald's burger: technically legal to serve and procure, but essentially boring and tasteless shit that a lot of people are still eager to consume. 

As a free speech advocate, I am loathe to make captioning illegal, but I also think a certain amount of regulation is reasonable as it is for all things. (wearing a seat belt when driving). So I propose that those who wish to caption do so responsibly, and that those who wish to Photoshop beach photos or whatever to look like the person was spanked to have to do so while sitting in this chair.