Welcome to the Anthropocene

Scientists are now examining the current epoch in geologic science as the Anthropocene. According to the site Welcome to the Anthropocene:

Our species’ whole recorded history has taken place in the geological period called the Holocene – the brief interval stretching back 10,000 years. But our collective actions have brought us into uncharted territory. A growing number of scientists think we’ve entered a new geological epoch that needs a new name – the Anthropocene.

The Anthropocene period appears to encompass the past 250 years, prompted by the Industrial Revolution. The impact on the planet is noted in urbanization, global warming and diminishing water resources (the video above). Click here to learn more about how human activity has transformed the Earth’s geology.

Transformation: Michael Bay and ‘The Birds’

The nightmare begins:

After successfully remaking several 80s slasher films, Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes banner look ready to remake one of the master of suspense’s classic films alongside Peter Guber’s Mandalay Pictures.

Platinum Dunes, Mandalay Pictures and Universal have tapped Dutch filmmaker Diederik Van Rooijen to direct the remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

As a longtime Hitchcock fan, I am so ready to hate this movie. This is the trailer for “The Birds”:

This is the trailer for the next big Michael Bay extravaganza:

The only thing that could make this worse is Michael Bay decides to cast Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the lead roles for “The Birds.”

More evidence of the mass extinction

There are a number of books out referring to how we’re in the midst of another mass extinction. I’ve recently finished reading “Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction,” and have just picked up “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.”

As the promotional material for “The Sixth Extinction” explains:

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

(First of all, to the creationists: Yes, the Earth is billions of years old.)

That’s the theme of both books. We regularly see stories about disappearing bees, millions of dying bats and regular mysterious deaths of sea creatures.

But let’s look at what this really means. This is a chart of the total weight of land animals on Earth (via XKCD):

land_mammals

There aren’t that many wild animals left. Human behavior is killing everything. Mass extinctions take thousands of years. None of us will be around when the one we’re currently in is over, but more important, the way things are going, the human species may not exist when this mass extinction runs its course.

Was it really that cold, recently?

cold

It used to always be cold, but with global warming, when it gets cold today, we think it’s colder than usual. Which means, were getting used to global warming. Like the frog in boiling water.

Hey, folks. That sudden jolt Al Gore is talking about is our freaking out about cold temperatures that were once something we were used to.

Which means we’re acclimating to warmer weather.

Which means the planet is warming.

Louisville letdown: Drowning the St. James Court Art Show

I traveled from Washington to Louisville to participate in the three-day St. James Court Art Show. Things were pretty odd in Washington the past couple of weeks (A mass shooting, a psychotic driver, a human torch on the Mall, and the Republican shutdown of the government), so I wanted to get away to do something fun.

bilde

The deluge before the flood

And then:

Organizers shut down the St. James Court Art Show an hour early on Saturday and called off today’s final day because of heavy rain and the threat of thundershowers — cutting the popular event short for the first time in 57 years.

“You have to think about safety. Lightning and metal poles don’t mix,” said Bette Kennedy, volunteer coordinator for the show. “It’s just really, really sad.”

The show was one of at least three local events washed out by the rain. Also canceled was the Hosparus Lunar 5K, which had been scheduled to take place Saturday evening starting at the New Albany (Ind.) Riverfront Amphitheater, and the Big Rock Jazz and Blues Fest, which had been scheduled for today in Cherokee Park.

Unbelievable. But it rained all day Sunday. Parts of Louisville were flooded and at least a dozen people had to be rescued from the water. And it was totally soaked around my house, where some of the art show takes place.

And it really sucked for the artists. They came from all over the country because the show draws hundreds of thousands of people during the three-day period. More than 700 booths were set up, and occupied, with all kinds of art: painting, photography, sculpture, textiles, jewelry.

Tile painters, who were set up in front of my house, had driven all the way from New Mexico. Jade sculptors, who were also located in front of my house, were about to break down their tent when a last minute buyer showed up. And hour later, they had sold $5,000 worth of jewelry. Can you imagine how much more they would have made if they had another day to work with?

What a letdown. I wanted to hear the artists’ stories and my door was open to anyone who wanted to come in (and a bunch did). Instead, I was stuck indoors on Sunday, no art show outside.

The ‘World War Z Survival Challenge’

Don’t know how long this link is going to be active, but the Web site for the movie “World War Z” has a Survival Challenge to help you plan for the event of a zombie apocalypse. And the information is extremely useful for your run of the mill disaster situations. Like this:

21A

Take the challenge here.

Groucho Marx and the Sylvers lining

Let’s dig into the vault of old television.

From 1950 to 1960, Groucho Marx had a game show on NBC-TV called “You Bet Your Life.” It was a simple show. Groucho would have a couple of people come out. They’d talk for a while, then he’d ask them four questions to get to a $500 prize. If they answered correctly, they’d come on again at the end of the show and spin the “Wheel of Fortune” for a chance at $10,000, which was a ton of money back then.

I was looking at some Marx Brothers clips (I don’t have to explain to you who the Marx Brothers were, do I? If so, go rent the movie “Horsefeathers.” That’s all you need to know.) and saw a link to this episode of “You Bet Your Life.”

Now consider the context. This is a nationally broadcast game show in the 1950s, and Groucho has a black couple on. Today, that’s no big deal. But back then, it had to be scandalous. Black people were rarely seen on television. If you read Jet magazine well into the 1970s, one of the highlights was the last page before the back cover. That gave a listing of all the black people scheduled to be on national television that week. The appearances were so rare, the listings didn’t even take up a half page of a mini-magazine.

The entertainment industry shied away from showing black people because of concerns over offending white viewers in the South. But here’s Groucho with a black couple and a boatload of kids. No mention of race. No uncomfortable jokes. Just a straightforward back and forth with a nice family. Though I did think bringing the kids on was a bit much.

Anyway, the husband and wife leave the show with $2,500. The family is happy, six kids in tow and number seven in mom. And Groucho invites them back for another appearance.

And I’m left to wonder: Whatever happened to that family?

No way!!! Really??!!!

Yep. The couple on “You Bet Your Life” was the Sylvers. And the little kids grew up to be The Sylvers.

Now I’m thinking, no that can’t be possible. I’m jumping from point A to point Z without going through the rest of the alphabet. Until I found this clip:

It’s really them. The couple ended up with 10 kids. Dad left mom to hang out with Ike Turner. Mom and kids moved to crime-ridden Watts. And then the kids formed a megahit disco group that later fell apart because of drug abuse.

All this new knowledge because I saw a clip with Chico Marx that made me laugh. (Yeah, I was looking at the “swordfish” routine from “Horsefeathers” with Groucho and his brother Chico and then stumbled on this history of the Sylvers.)

Louisiana Republicans blame Obama for … Katrina

You can never overestimate where the level of stupidity of an uninformed population will take you:

According to a Public Policy Polling survey, 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans say President Obama is more to blame for the botched executive branch response to Hurricane Katrina while just 28 percent blamed George W. Bush. A plurality of 44 percent said they were unsure who was more responsible, even though Hurricane Katrina occurred over three years before Obama entered the presidency when he was still a freshman Senator.

Here’s the poll:

louisiana

So, 73 percent of Louisiana Republicans don’t know that George Bush (the Dumber) was president when Hurricane Katrina wiped out their state but either “know or suspect” President Obama didn’t respond fast enough to the disaster.

This really isn’t a multiple choice question.

And as we dig deeper into the numbers, we see that 8 percent of Louisiana Republicans want Sen. Ted Cruz (R – O, Canada) as their presidential nominee, but the plurality is pushing for Kentucky’s Rand Paul to take the White House. Good luck with that.

It’s almost unfair to throw a trick question like “Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?” into a political poll, but, given the response here, it is essential for people to see the total disconnection from reality of the followers of one of the major political parties and understand whom they want to run the country after 2016.

Tsunami: A deadly force of nature

This is what it’s like to be caught up in a horrific natural disaster. The period of calm when people mill about on their routines. The sudden warning where people know something bad is about to happen but don’t fully understand the enormity of the impending doom. It’s interesting to see how people wandered down to the river to see what was happening.

And then, all hell breaks loose, and people are running for their lives.

That’s what these people experienced when the 2011 tsunami barreled through Japan, left countless dead and crippled a nuclear power plant.