Jaguar Shot Dead During Olympic Torch Ceremony

        Well here is one of the most disappointing things that anyone is going to read today. As if the Olympic host country wasn’t already enough of a shit-show (which it most certainly is), today during one of the Olympic torch carrying ceremonies a female jaguar named Juma was shot and killed after escaping from her handlers. First question, what the actual fuck? How do you let the jaguar loose, and why the hell was it even there in the first place? And just to be clear, I am not one of those PETA loving no-animal-should-be-put-on-display-ever dudes. I am just genuinely perplexed at what kind of aesthetically pleasing goal they were shooting for by chaining a jaguar between two guards and taking a picture with it near the torch. Seriously, look at the picture. It looks like someone photoshopped an Olympic torch carrier into a picture of soldiers after they captured some village destroying predator.

 

Whatever image they were going for here, I don’t think this was it

        Now, instead of a doofy picture, Brazil is dealing with yet another Olympic headline showing just how completely inept they are at pulling off an event like this in their country. Pollution, environmental damage, and ZIKA aren’t enough, now they have to add oh and we also shot one of out pet Jaguars to the mix. And on top of it all, again I have to say, how did you let the giant predator animal loose? How does that happen? Oh, also the whole thing was illegal according to the Amazonas government. Not that legality is exactly a hard and fast rule these days when it comes to the Olympics but I guess that’s still relevant. All I know is August can’t get here soon enough, at this point the sooner these Olympics are out of Rio the better. In the meantime if you are in Brazil and are on anything more than two legs consider taking a vacation, I hear Costa Rica is nice.

-CDL

My Wife Has a Crush on a Famous Brit, and I’m Alright With That

        I’m pretty sure every woman has a famous crush. Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Pratt, Benedict Cumberbatch, the list goes on. My wife Amy is no exception. I don’t know if it’s the accent, the fact that he has traveled all over the world and filmed in all sorts of exotic locations, or that he loves to be photographed with cuddly animals all the time. Either way, every time he comes on TV we have to stop whatever we are doing so she can soak up all that suave, animal loving goodness. Did I mention that he loves animals? Cuz the dude loves the shit out of animals. Reptiles, amphibians, mammals, birds, insects, and fish he loves them all. His name is David Attenborough, and he is the guy behind almost every important nature documentary in the last 40 years.

My competition ladies and gentleman

        To say that Mr. Attenborough is a national treasure in the UK is a bit of an understatement. His lists of accolades and accomplishments is staggering to say the least, to try to list them all here would take WAY too long but believe me when I say you would be hard pressed to find a more decorated documentary filmmaker in all of cinematic history. To this day he remains the only person to have won BAFTAs in black and white, color, HD, and 3D. Dude is a straight up stud. The fact that he is pushing 90 and is still getting out there throwing on wet suits and swimming around in the ocean, trudging around in the sahara desert, walking around a frozen arctic tundra. He sees and does more in a month than I do in an entire year. Luckily he is considerate enough to film it all for us so we can learn a damn thing or two. Seriously, I am looking forward to his upcoming 90th birthday celebration more than I am looking forward to Game of Thrones coming back tomorrow night.

I will see your rugged explorer and raise you one kindly old badass

        So yeah, I don’t mind sharing the affections of my wife with you Sir Attenborough. You are the only man that can make two hedgehogs banging in your front yard sound interesting, and keep me feeling like a perv for watching. So here’s to you David! Keep doing your thing, we will keep watching, Amy will keep crushing, and your work will keep influencing the minds of children and adults the world over.

-CDL

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Kills The Dog Companion

        Dogs are awesome. Big dogs, small dogs, fast dogs, lazy dogs, they are all just pretty great. Obviously, I’m a dog guy. I have two of them and although at times they drive me absolutely batshit crazy, at the end of the day I have no regrets. They make me happy by thinking I am just the greatest thing in the world. It caters to the narcissist in me I guess, my future kids are going to have a helluva time living up to the “hey guy I am so pumped you are home from work” precedent that has been set before them.

It doesn’t look like it in the picture but they are SO psyched to see me.

        The fact that people become way too attached to their pets is something that modern movie and game developers clued in on quite some time ago. Looking back through mainstream media, there is a solid track record of dog companions over the last 10 years. I Am Legend, Fallout, Fable, Metal Gear Solid, and many others have inserted a dog as a protagonist’s steadfast companion through whatever evils may come. A dog doesn’t require any complicated backstory or any step by step relationship building. Everything is already known the second it shows up on screen. Man’s best friend, your ride or die. This guy is going to be at your side, ready to take a bullet for you at a moment’s notice. It is an innate instinctual attachment that comes from owning a dog and having been around them my whole life. Dogs are ride or die. Over the years as AI and tech have gotten better, they are even becoming more realistic in the way that they interact with both the player and with the other characters.

Seriously, they have become so realistic that every time one showed up on screen my Golden was very confused at how that tiny puppy got into the TV. How meta.

        Along with the new advancements in companion interaction comes a side effect that I am still not in any way prepared to handle is the way that companions realistically are injured or even die onscreen these days. There is an unwritten rule when it comes to the audience, especially in cinema, that says “no matter what happens to the human characters, the dog doesn’t die, period. It is a quick and easy way to lose the viewer, real quick. I can sit through anything without batting an eye, murder, torture, rape, abuse, whatever as long as it is happening to a person. Not that it doesn’t affect me, because it certainly does, but it doesn’t push me to my limit or ruin my experience in any way. That probably says something about how twisted my mind has gradually become due to the increased levels of violence and brutality that are thrown in front of it very day but hey, that is another article for another day. The point is that as long as something happens to a human, it doesn’t really register as a disturbing experience. That scene in I Am Legend though, when Will Smith has to kill the German Shepard? Holy Shit. Devastating. Same thing goes for Fallout 4. When I played the previous Fallout games it was always a treat to find Dogmeat and have him roll with me for the rest of the game, taking out Supermutants and scumbags alike. Sure, I had to restart a save about four times a playthrough because that crazy little bastard would get himself killed, but it was worth it to have him at my side.

        That’s one of the big improvements that I was looking forward to when Bethesda announced that in Fallout 4 Dogmeat would be unkillable. What they didn’t say is that if he was injured he would immediately collapse, paralyzed from the hips down, crying and crawling his way to you. What the actual fuck? NO. Every time it happened I would find myself running through a hail of bullets doing everything I could to make certain that I got him healed up and back on his feet as fast as possible. Something about those sound effects and visuals just gets to me. I finally had to just send him back to a settlement and pick a new companion because I just couldn’t handle that shit. Same thing when D-Dog gets killed. This brings me to probably the most traumatic dog experience I’ve ever had in a video game which happened yesterday in The Division. The streets of quarantined Manhattan are populated with terrorists, citizens, and at this point in the story tons of stray dogs.  Seriously they are everywhere. You can even watch them poop!

Really. 

So here I was, walking around on the street when I hear the tell-tale beep beep BEEP that a hidden bomb is about to blow my ass sky high. I immediately do a dive-roll to get out of the way and hear the explosion go off behind me. I turned around and was greeted to the scene of a random stray dog who had happened to be wandering in the area, lying dead and twitching on the ground after having taken the brunt of the blast. I just stood there for a few minutes, feeling the guilt of killing a random NPC canine. I had just mowed through about 200 humans, many of which I enjoyed filling full of as many bullets as possible and yet this one pup’s death totally crushed me. I’m getting depressed just thinking about it again. Maybe that means I’m a softy. Maybe it means I am just too attached to my current dogs. Who knows? Maybe a psychologist. What I know is that as long as I am playing a game with a canine companion one of the first things I am going to do is befriend it, and then have my emotions nut-punched every time something bad happens to it. The cycle repeats!

-CDL

Counting Sheep

This way: The sheep at the front head in the right direction and influence the other members of the herd

From this perspective it might look like small white fish in a green pond, or a herd of wild lice roaming a green scalp, but these are actually sheep. They are being expertly herded by dogs in an effort to move them from one pasture to another. Sit back and relax and watch the video on this site along with the full article. If you are not a little sleepy by the end then you probably have had too much coffee.

-SMS

 

From Drone Attacking Eagles to Fish Fighting the Zika Virus, Humans Turn to Animals For Help With Modern Probems

        Although it’s easy to get caught up in all of the negative stories of humans messing up the environment these days, if you look hard enough there are some pretty great ones out there as well. It would seem that in this day of modern technology, sometimes it is best to look to the natural world around us to solve some of our increasingly dire problems. Enter the Sambo fish. As seen in this video, scientists are hoping to use baby Sambo’s to fight the ongoing spread of the Zika virus that has been dominating headlines in recent days. They do this by eating the larvae of the mosquitoes preventing them from becoming mature adults and therefore stopping the spread of the virus. This has been very effective in countries such as El Salvador where the introduction of the Sambo fish in restaurants and villages has almost completely wiped out spread of the disease. In Brazil, scientists are using a combination of military manpower and GMO modified mosquitoes to attempt to eradicate the virus carrying insects. Going with the good ole fight fire with fire… and 200,000 soldiers method.

        Another story that was brought to our attention today was  the fact that police in the Netherlands are training eagles to track down and attack drones. Yep, you read that right, trained attack eagles. Sounds like something you would find in a solid heavy metal ballad.

I would try to further elaborate on this but truth be told it is badass enough on it’s own

        Lastly, we also saw this story about soldiers in Northern Russia begin to train with both Reindeer and Huskies in order to better traverse the northern terrain.

In all of the above cases, it really goes to show that these are such obvious solutions to obvious problems that it really is astounding that people haven’t been doing this previously. Hopefully this is a sign of future things to come, where man won’t constantly be trying  to impress it’s technologies on the natural world around it, but will instead find ways to work with the things that are already there. Who knows how many other obvious problems there are out there that can be solved by strapping a grenade launcher on the back of a giant tortoise?

I’m just saying there are possibilities here…

-CDL

Zika Virus is For Real: WHO Declares Global Health Emergency

        Yesterday, Feb 1 2016 the Worldwide Health Organization declared a state of emergency caused by the sudden and explosive spread of the Zika virus throughout Central and South America. This is especially worrying as there is currently no vaccine or treatment available for the Zika virus. What started as a obscure news story a month ago has quickly become a very relevant and very disturbing headline, especially due to the link between the virus and microcephaly. Microcephaly is a neurological condition leading to small heads and underdeveloped brains in newborns. There are many pictures of the effects of microcephaly floating around the net recently due to the virus, and although it isn’t a guarantee that a child will contract the disorder, it does seem to drastically increase the chances of the condition. Although the link between the two hasn’t been scientifically proven yet, there is a strong enough belief that there is a correlation between the two that some countries have even gone so far as to advise their citizens to delay pregnancy until the situation is more under control. That’s some scary shit right there. I feel like this is the first 5 minutes of a zombie movie when they start throwing all the fake news stories on the screen showing the beginnings and initial spread of some crazy virus that wipes out a population.

        Obviously things aren’t all that bad at this time, but it is still enough to really make one stop and think about investing in some industrial strength bug spray/mosquito nets. The good news is now that the WHO is taking the situation seriously, hopefully things will take a turn for the better with regards to prevention and treatment of the virus. Unfortunately for those who have been infected, the truth is that when this story began to develop there weren’t many in the medical world that took the initial threat seriously, something that WHO has since addressed the issue now that the threat has shown such an outrageous and explosive growth.

Either way, I may be delaying any Caribbean vacations for the time being.

-CDL

Water Bear Revived After Being FROZEN SOLID For 30 Years!

        They aren’t called extremophiles for nothing. Scientists have recently revived a  specimin of Tardigrade after 30 years of being frozen at a temperature of -20 C (-4 F) in a lab in Japan. The  two Tardigrade (also known as a water bear to some) was originally recovered on a frozen moss sample along with an egg in Antarctica in 1983. The Tardigrade was already known throughout the world as an organism that could withstand extreme conditions, although the previous world record for the longest a specimen had been frozen was 9 years. Out of curiosity the team of researchers decided to warm up one of the specimens to see if it would come back to life. Much to their surprise, after 13 days it was not only almost completely back to normal, it even laid eggs which then proceeded to hatch. Although this is the world record for the revival of a Tardigrade, it is not the record for the longest an organism was able to revive after being frozen, that honor is currently being held by Tylenchus polyhypnus, a nematode worm that was successfully revived after being frozen for 39 years. Still it’s a damn impressive feat and just goes to show how incredible the natural world can be.

-CDL

When Good Bees go Bad

Bees are essential to plant and animal life on this wonderful planet of ours. However the small flying honey producers we all love (or hate depending) are in grave danger as they are surrounded by a myriad of threats that are causing their populations to rapidly decline. Why should we care though, I mean these little bastards just fly around all smug, stealing pollen from those plants in your garden. And if those black and yellow stripes aren’t gang colors I don’t know what are. Do you really want your children out there playing with these thugs. What if they get stung, what if they are allergic! Dear God wont someone think of the children!

The truth is, as I said in my first sentence before you got all hysterical on me, honey bees are essential to our environment. There are many different plants and foods that they help pollinate, such as almonds. Once Albert Einstein said “Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years.” Now that may not be literally true as honey bees are not true natives to North America and there are other pollinators that existed before and after their arrival on our continent. And after all the Native Americans did live quite healthy lives before the palefaces showed up and through a wrench in their health care system, but that’s a topic for a different time. But Einstein did have a point a lot of the foods we all know and love require honey bees to do their pollination, and certainly the resulting necessary shift in agriculture that would be caused by the world wide death of the honey bee, would cause food shortages and starvation. So if you want those previously discussed children to be able to eat almonds we should care.

One of the many problems effecting the every day bee on the go is sexual rebellion. No these are not teenage bees, nor are the bees taking to the streets and burning their bras and protesting. In fact almost every honey be you will ever see is female, the males are kicked out of the nest to die shortly after they mate with the queen. I can hear the angry mutterings of the men’s rights activist already, but no that is not what I am talking about either. The queen is normally the only bee that lays eggs and this is the right and proper way of things (for bees anyways I am not sure Elizabeth II would be up to populating the whole world). But recently it has been discovered that when certain chemical changes occur in the wax it can cause the everyday workers to begin competing and laying eggs of their own. This is the sexual rebellion I was talking about. Why is this a problem you ask, surely this will just mean more bees and weren’t you just telling us we needed more bees. Wrong! Unfortunately these workers only lay eggs of male bees which are for all intensive purposes useless to bee society (sorry guys). Not only that but the competition I mentioned is more of a murder orgy, than a friendly game. This behavior can quickly destroy a colony. So far the whys and the hows of this problem, not to mention what to do to fix this have not been discovered.

In the mean time you can do a few things to help bees if you so desire. You can become a beekeeper this way you can bring bees back to your local area and you get to reap the benefits of all that extra honey. If that doesn’t float your boat you can plant foliage that bees like here is a list. This way your yard can be pretty and you can help out our little stripped friends. Lastly if you ever have bees that take up residence in an unwanted location, such as the walls of your house, then use a bee removal specialist who will safely remove the hive without killing it instead of using poison to kill the critters. So go get out there and hug a bee and let them know how much you appreciate their hard work (note: do not literally hug a bee it will most likely sting you).

-SMS