Fish Who Pass The Self Aware Test?

I finally had some time to browse one of my old haunts, Science Daily, and this story caught my eye. It appears that a species of a cleaner fish, and I quote: “cleaner wrasse fish (Labroides dimidiatus), responds to its reflection and attempts to remove marks on its body during the mirror test — a method considered the gold standard for determining self-awareness in animals.”

Which for anyone who might be aware of the self aware test, or MSR (Mirror Self Recognition,) you may find this intriguing.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190207142234.htm

For those not familiar with the self aware test referred to, basically you use a mirror that the subject can see themselves with and let them get accustomed to it being there. Then you put a mark on the subject. If they respond with curiosity, or attempt to remove the mark in some manner, or show some signs of stress concerning the mark, or a combination of these behaviors, this would count as a positive result.

Now as with any scientific study, there are always counterpoints to be made, and they had a good writeup here outlining the potential issues with this certain test. As far as I can tell, and no one will mistake me for the smartypants who would know better, I’d call the outcome of this test at the very least, very interesting.

https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000021

I have read about dolphins who responded to the self aware test in a fairly convincing manner. But they are known to be highly intelligent. The cleaner wrasse fish I’m farily certain isn’t as brainy as the bottlenose dolphin, but then again who knows? The biggest issues from that last link amounts pretty much to “we need to tweak the test for better results, and eliminate any false positives by subjects conditioned to these tests.” But it is a solid read, if you are into that sort of thing 🙂

 

Edit: I just saw a writeup at this link that adds another perspective to the mix.

https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-self-aware-fish-raises-doubts-about-a-cognitive-test-20181212/

Old Diver Tales

I was commenting on Jims blog here:

https://jimoeba.wordpress.com/2019/02/11/knots-and-logs-ancient-wisdom-vs-faith/

…and the topic of fog came up. So I commented about a situation I got caught in once. Thought I’d reproduce it here as a post. Just in case there is someone who might find it interesting, and who perhaps may have missed Jims great post. This is pretty much the comment I made at Jims blog, but have modified it a bit for clarity/punctuation and added another lost in the fog entry:

I was working on an overcast, rainy-ish day once. There was some decent current running that morning, I came up from a dive and the rain had stopped but I could see a bit of fog forming. I didn’t think much of it, I was fairly close to an island chain, and the riverbank true wasn’t far behind the islands. I supposed even if a light fog moved in I would still be able to see the islands and from there get back to my truck using the treeline along the river bank. So I made another dive. I came up and was completely socked in with heavy fog. I mean I could barely make out the bow of the boat from the stern. I was like “oh shit.”

I decided I’d try to find the islands, but I needed a waypoint to start, I figured I’d toss out the anchor and let the current pull the boat tight and I’d have S as my starting point. (The Tn. river flows S->N) Welp, they had killed the current at the dam and the anchor did not pull tight after 10 mintues, the dreaded dead friggin water. (As a diver on the bottom, the current is a handy way to know your direction, and most of us learned pretty quick if you pull your boat in the direction of the current, the current pushes most of the silt you stir up, behind you, making for at least some visibility dependent on the depth you were working. Sometimes on a really calm day with little to no wind, and you get a dead current situation, you can get pretty lost on the bottom, an irritating situation to work in.) Anyway… So much for a starting point, the current or lack of it was no help. So I headed off in the direction I thought, might, get me to the islands, and they weren’t more than 250 yards from my location. Let me tell you something, no matter how straight you hold the steering, you will soon be hitting your own wakes, as you are going in a damn circle. There is nothing so disconcerting as being lost in the fog. I should mention the creepy factor is pretty high too 😉

Well I realized this wasn’t going to work, motoring around in circles is a quick way to get nowhere. So I tossed out the anchor and killed the engine. And I pondered my situation, I still had one bottle of water left, and a couple of snacks I hadn’t eaten at lunch. It looked like this could be supper lol. Well as I sat there I began to hear what sounded like a towboat moving slow in the river channel. I waited till it got closer, used the sound of the engines as a waypoint, and I’d crank my engine, run a little way in the direction I thought I remembered hearing the towboat, then I’d stop, kill the engine, get a new waypoint in my head and try again. I worked as a deckhand on towboats in my days prior to becoming a commercial diver, so I knew 2 things. 1: The towboat has radar and he can navigate via the river bouys. And 2: He can tell I’m coming.

By the time the towboat emerged from the fog I was basically right alongside, and the captain apparently had a man there to see what was up, I raised my yelling voice loud enough to be heard over the idling diesels in the towboat, and asked the guy one simple question “which way are you headed?” He replied “South.”

Which was good for me, my truck was in that direction, So I told the guy I was going to follow along for a while. So I followed along with the towboat till we reached a bend in the river that brought us closer to the river bank true, and lo and behold I could make out the trees along the bank through the fog. From there I followed the the treeline, which conveniently rolled right around inside the bay I had launched from, and took me straight to my truck. I ate a hot supper that night after all.

Next day I had a compass in my boat, and have not been without one since. I should mention I had an old diving compass with me for many years, the damn thing got waterlogged, and I never got around to fixing my lack of a compass problem. It’s fixed now 🙂

Fog is a strange animal indeed. It takes away all of your reckoning abilities and leaves you, well, lost in the damn fog. I was lucky that day, more often than not a towboat will tie off and wait out the sort of fog we were in… I know that because there was a time I was the deckhand who had to drag a ladder out to the head of the tow, climb down the ladder to a muddy riverbank, dragging a huge ass lock line (a 2″ rope) or a steel wire rope to a sturdy tree, or group of trees, and tie off the tow. Every once in a while there were man made tie offs out there, but usually not when you need them. But as a deckhand, being tied off in the fog generally was enjoyable, it meant you were getting paid to do diddley 🙂

There was another time I was lost in the fog on the river. This was very early in my diving carreer. I was working for a guy then (George), he had the boat, all of the necessary gear, and all I had to do was show up and go to work. We worked on a 50/50 basis. I could generally average around $200 to $250 a day then (split between us), so it was a convenient arrangement. It should be noted that after almost 2 years of working for this guy, I had saved up enough $ to get my own boat/gear. Anyway…

We set out one morning, I had met up with George at the crack of dawn, his house was just down the road from mine, and we set off to town to gas up and get some breakfast. Our typical daily routine. We got to the river by 7 AM and launched the boat despite the fact that the river was entirely socked in with fog. The decision to head out fell to George, I had seen heavy fog on the water as a deckhand, and knew it wasn’t exactly cupcakes and tea out there in the fog. George was confident he could navigate our way to a place we had been working that was pretty productive with shell, so we set off. Georges plan was to follow the tree line till we got there. Well, after several hours of being completely lost out there in the fog, an eerie, hair on the back of your neck raising eerie, the sort of feeling that makes you wonder if you are even still on the same damn planet, the fog began to lift. We found ourselves deep in the back of a bay we couldn’t even recognize at first, nowhere near where either of us had a notion we might be. We finally got to our spot but had missed most of the morning due to being lost. So it was a slow day for the wallet, and a lesson learned. Well not completely learned because this happened way before the I got lost in the fog, old diver tale above this one.

So, keep a compass in your boats folks, you never know when you will need one. A compass is your only hope in the fog. Otherwise it is a Stephen King -ish kind of freaky out there lost in the mists of the fog. Although I suppose a GPS might still be able to work in fog, for the cost of a compass, I wouldn’t count on it.

 

Picture Day!

Probably could have called this one “Dog Catcher.” As there are a lot of sun dogs I have caught recently. Well three of recent, but several pics because I caught the 22 degree halo and an upper tangent arc in two of the sun dog events.

It has been a fairly mild winter to this point, though we are having a bit of a cold snap at the moment, but we barely dodged a disaster with an icing issue we had recently. Back in 1993 we had a huge ice storm here, power was out for 2 weeks because power lines were down everywhere, it was frigid cold, and the lansdcape looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off because of the many trees felled, or just stripped of branches and what was left of just broken in two trees left standing. It was pretty crazy. These first two pics show the kind of icing that caused the mayhem of ’93. It wasn’t much more ice than this that did the damage. We were lucky this time.

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Being a bit of a cloud fanatic I had to get this shot.

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Another installment of “Tennessee Customs.” The stop sign seems appropriate somehow.

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The first of the sun dog pics. I caught this one on the way home from dropping the wife off at work. I stayed at this location taking several pics as it progressed. Note the slight flare at the 12 o-clock position, above the sun, nearly the top of the photo. This is the beginning of the faint but detectable upper tangent arc. The 22 degree halo is also starting to show. Interesting side note, I did not notice these at all when I was taking the pics, I noticed them later while browsing the pictures 🙂

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You might notice a picture perspective change from here on out. As I was capturing this sun dog, I must have accidentally swiped over to the square picture icon instead of the photo one on my phone. I only caught that little detail this morning. My dumb ass might be slow, but it catches up to me…

Notice the halo is brightening. The upper tangent arc is almost out of the shot. (Remember I didn’t know it was there when taking the pics)

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The halo is getting washed out now, but the upper tangent arc is still trying to hang in there. These phenomena are ever evolving apparitions and when you get a chance to take pics, take several over several minutes. Several minutes is all you will get 🙂

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At this point the spectacle began to dissipate. I decided to head on home. By the time I got home, five minutes later maybe, I took another look, and damn if the sun dog hadn’t rebrightened. The halo and upper tangent arc are gone, but here is the same sun dog event from just down the road a bit from my place.

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How about a Tennessee sunrise to break up the sun dog monotony?

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Woof! Another sun dog event. Again on the way home from dropping off the wife, and I caught it from the same exact spot as before.

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Quite often when you catch one sun dog, one is all you will get. Sometimes though, you will catch the opposing dog on the other side of the sun. I always look, but seldom get both. This is the left side, a sun dog is barely trying to be perceptible. Follow the tree line from the left, to where it takes a sharp dip down toward the field, then the next rise, a small point in that tree line, look just above it. Hardly worth mentioning it is so faint, but it is there.

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Ok, let’s take a sun dog break for a minute. I know the holiday season is past us, but when you are shopping for that special someone come next December, you know this will be on their wish list 😉 Wait $40?!! Nevermind…

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Church signs, always one of my favorites, We don’t travel as widely as we used to, so I’m not catching as many. This one, maybe it’s just me? But this message seems to clash a bit with the name of the church. Ray of Despair seems more appropriate.

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We had a good dusting of snow a couple of weeks ago, nothing serious, but it is interesting you can sure tell which way the wind was blowing. I’m weird like that…

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Woof! Another sun dog, this one was a lefty. Was on my way to town and lo and behold. I stopped in the middle of the road, turned on the emergency flashers like any good motorist (no one was coming), and got the pic. This one, the 22 degree halo is pretty obvious when you look at it for a minute. This was the pic that got me looking at the sun dog pictures a little more closely.

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I will leave you with another sunrise. May we all get plenty more of these.

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Hope you enjoyed the trip.

Oh, wiki has a good write up on sun dogs and other phenomena. What would we do without Wikipedia?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Religion Is A Special Kind Of Poison

I’m pretty sure most of my followers and friends aren’t MMA fans. That’s ok, I still love  you guys! Thing is, I was just perusing a website devoted to MMA and read a story, and I felt like it might interest you. Put aside your possible disinterest in the sport, and read the story for what it tells us. I had never heard of this particular fellow, but after reading his story it shocked me a bit, it is the last thing I expected really, but once I understood the why, it is something we all are aware of in religion.

Religious cults are a special kind of evil. It’s a faily long writeup, I’ll leave it to you to see what you think. It’s a damn shame, a sad story on the effect of the uber religiosity that dwells among us…

The Scars His Fighters Couldn't See

 

So… Where Is Heaven?

The notion crossed my mind recently and being the curious sort I Googled it. I found many claims of heaven being for sure real. Claims of it being some ethereal place somewhere. Claims of it existing on an astral plane. Bible verses as proof it is there, but the where is never mentioned. Bible claims that it is among the atmosphere of earth (I pity the fools that would be there, right now. Also I do wonder if jets fly through frequently? Boy that would mess up a hair day.)  Claims that Jesus is there as I speak, building mansions for all the good x-ians. Damn good thing he was a carpenter! Put those skills to use Jesus!

All of my life I have heard of heaven. People tend to look up when they mention it. I have looked up too. Didn’t see it there, anywhere. I have a multitude of telescopes that I have looked up with as well. I have seen galaxies thousands of light years away, nebulas in their grand splendor, star clusters of the open and globular varieties, comets, planets, double stars, triple stars, quadruple stars, planetary nebula, and multitudes of stars along one of the spiral arms of our Milky Way. I didn’t see heaven in any of those places. Did I perhaps miss it? The Hubble telescope has been taking pictures out there for a LONG time now, I haven’t seen any pics of heaven yet. I’m sure it’s on the list of things to do… right?

The thing is, if you are going to base an entire freaking religion on the premise that all the good people will go to this heaven when they die, why in the hell can’t you at least point in the general direction that this supposed place exists? Claims of its existence are bountiful, everybody seems to just know it exists, but not a one of them can show me where. I’ve yet to see any gods yet either as a matter of fact. Odd.

Heaven. That paradise we are all told of. That place where all of lifes miseries and aggravations no longer exist. A place where we are simply content to be because we are with our gods. That place where grandma and grandpa are waiting for us, still very much alive and happy to be. The place where Fido and Guppy went when they died. The place where margaritas, good bourbon, and medical quality weed flow like water along the Danube (hey you pick your heaven, I’ll pick mine.)

A place no one apparently really knows where in the hell it actually is… 🙂  Which makes me think someone is full of shit. Every religion across the globe has a heaven to promise its adherents. They line the pews every Wednesday and twice on Sunday, dropping their afterlife insurance payment in the collection plate, but none of them have a clue where the fuck this final payoff, heaven, is. Pardon me while I… Lol!

The moral of the story folks, is do not just be content with what the preachers tell you, or what the people you may know heard from their preacher, and are now convinced it is factual. Do a little research of your own, ask questions until you are satisfied with the answer.

There are those in religion who would lie to you, and gladly take your money. You know why? Because they never have to actually deliver on their con, and they are pretty damn sure you aren’t going to ask for your money back once you are dead! Next time someone tells you heaven is real, ask them where the heck it is! For me, okay? 😉

FWIW, heaven or hell is IMO what we tend to make for ourselves in this life. Here is hoping you all have a slice of whatever you perceive as heaven. I couldn’t imagine life without a smile, a laugh, and good time with friends/family. At least every once in a while.

The Power Of Shungite

So I’m channel surfing and see The Power of Shungite as a title of something, I wondered if it was perhaps some sort of fantasy sci-fi thing at first, and I hit the remote button to see what it was. I was sure surprised when two air headed women popped up on my TV, hawking some cheap jewelry with very uninspiring stones, set in some questionable looking silver, and they were spouting out more idiotic claims in one minute than an army of debunkers could shred in 3 days. “It’s like having an invisible electro magnetic radiation shield.” “When you wear it you can feel its energy.” “Healers use it.” “It slows the effects of AIDS.” and on and on and on…

My skeptical brain quickly went into self destruct mode, I had to get away from the TV, so I retreated to the safety of the computer. And I Googled Shungite, boy one bad idea after another!

I will leave you with a couple of links to peruse, please wear your tinfoil hats on this escapade, and don’t take any wooden nickels while you are out there 😉

https://crystalbenefits.com/shungite-stone-with-healing-powers

https://www.healing-crystals-for-you.com/shungite.html

P.S. Someone please let me know when the hard scientific data shows up so I can then reconsider my position. “The Power of Shungite” indeed. I’m much more inclined to believe in the “Power of Bullshit!”

 

Election Fraud

The news is in North Carolina, I’m sure we have all heard about it by now. Where the R candidate managed to steal an election by hiring contractors, who hired a felon, to hire individuals, to bang on doors, and convince residents they were there to help them cast their votes early. Only to then take those ballots and dispose of them, or change them to suit their purposes, which was to see to it that the R got elected.

Now wasn’t it the R’s of late using election fraud as an excuse to enact their voter suppression tactics? The true irony here isn’t that the R’s got caught cheating, the irony is that they seem to think it’s only a bad thing when they think, or accuse D’s of doing it… As the R political spectrum is oddly quiet about the situation.

You can bet your last nickel that if the D’s had got caught up in a huge election fraud fiasco, the R’s would be screaming bloody murder right about now. I’ve yet to hear a peep, wonder why that is?

In another vein of thought here, it is my opinion that every election is fradulent on the basis of all of the R gerrymandering across the country. There are elections where the vast majority of votes were cast for D’s, and the R’s hardly noticed any loss of seats, and they still hold the majority. If the election districting was fair, and it is not, the D’s would have taken the majority in several states. Why in the hell isn’t their an enormous outcry here? Oh..that’s right, the fucking R’s still hold the majority in these states! Even if there was an outcry it wouldn’t matter, because they have stolen control by being low down dirty, cheating, conscience deficient dogs.

What we the people need to do, and get it done A.S.A.P. is challenge every gerrymandered district and get this in the courts. You would think state legislatures could handle this on their own, but since the playing field has been significantly slanted in favor of the R’s, there is little hope a very strong turnout by D’s could gain enough seats for a majority, where that legislature could, on its own, change things to a proper and fair districting process.

Somehow, some way, we need this fixed.

Oh, and the states attempting to undermine new D’s coming into office by re-legislating the power of office, because they cannot abide the D’s having the same sort of power they had… Every R in those legislatures participating in this theft of power, needs to be dragged away in handcuffs. Let them stand in line at the prison lunch counter with tRump and co.

I swear the more I know the madder I get.