Updates no more

mardi 30 septembre 2014


Reason knows neither Love nor Hate. Society today, with its longing for stable jobs and normal lives, with its targeted advertising, seems to be hell-bent on eliminating randomness, and living a life of reason. But although reason can be a powerful tool, reason knows neither Love nor Hate.
When we live in a world of reason, our fate is set. We have no escape. Only the roads that lay before us. And even if we can choose different roads, we can never step off them. Reason knows neither Hope nor Despair.

dimanche 28 septembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The True Sea Monkey

The true sea monkey, Pan veritas, no to be confused with the commercially sold sea-monkey, Artemia NYOS, is a little-known representative of the chimp-family. Living on the coasts of western Africa, true sea monkeys (hereafter “sea monkeys”) have suffered from pollution and over-fishing, and their numbers have dwindled. Because of their cautious nature, humans seldom saw the sea monkeys. Although this protected the sea monkeys from hunters, it also left us unable to make any conservation efforts, and their situation worsened. Since their recent discovery by Prof. Seoseo of the Bamako Institute for the Study of Almost Extinct Species (BISAES), scientists from all over the world want to study the sea monkeys, and funding has been granted for their conservation by the WWF, the U.N., GreenPeace, the I.M.F., and local governments.
Although his cousins are vegetarians most of the time, the sea monkey eats a diet consisting mainly of fish and crustaceans. Another adaptation to his nautical habitat is the thickness of his fur. To prevent heat-loss, and reduce water resistance, sea monkeys have an extremely thick fur, similar to that found on sea lions. In addition, their hands and feet are webbed, allowing them to move freely in the water.
The sea monkeys seem to live in groups of ten to twenty individuals. One individual, presumed male, shows clear anatomical differences to the others, which identifies him as the leader. As is the case in other groups of primates. In other aspects as well, a group of sea monkeys tends to resemble that of other apes. There is grooming, as well as communal child care. And before going to sleep, they build a nest with algae and driftwood to sleep atop the waves.
After the sea monkeys were discovered, ethnologists working in the region made a connection between the animals and a local legend. The legends tells of a spirit of the sea, who is known to save or attack fishermen, depending on whether or not they behave with respect towards the sea. When comparing the prevalence of that legend against the presence of sea monkeys, the two charts see to match.
It is also believed that before being reduced to a few hundred individuals at the most, the sea monkeys occupied the whole west coast of Africa, and could very well be the origin of some of the folklore surrounding mermaids.

jeudi 25 septembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Dreaming Coral

The dreaming coral, Galaxea otis, native to the Great Barrier Reef, is considered by many the most intriguing species known to man. Although at first, the dreaming coral is indistinguishable from its cousins, it has one characteristic which has captured the imagination of people all over the world. To understand this fascination, we must first explore the phylum of the cnidaria.
The cnidaria, which consists of coral, jellyfish and anemones, are widely believed to be the first phylum to possess nerve cells. Although not yet organized into a complex system, as is the case in vertebrates and insects, the cnidaria have cells whose sole purpose it is to transmit information from one cell to another. The first neuron.
Although most cnidarians live solitary live, some, like those found in corals, aggregate into colonies. They live in close proximity, and are believed to maintain “channels of communication” with each other through chemicals released into the water. In dreaming corals, however, this communication is taken a step further.
Instead of relying solely on chemical signals, the polyps of the dreaming coral extend their nerve cells to come into contact with their neighbors. When several branches intersect, communication “nodes” are formed.
When considering the complex structure of dreaming corals, combined with the number of connections made, the dreaming coral has a neural system as elaborate as that of the human brain. In addition, just as is the case with connections in our brains, the firing rate as well as the threshold of neural activation is dependent on the frequency with which a certain connection is established.
First discovered by Phd. Lebert François in 1998, the existence of another nervous system as complex as ours shook the world. Scientists have struggled since to unravel the workings of this “super-mind”. In 2013, Prof. Mike Rowave spent three months equipping the coral with electromagnetic sensors, in order to record an “electroencephalogram” of the coral's 'mind'. The resulting image showed the same activity pattern as one might expect in the brain of a dreaming human. However, the name of the coral predates this experience by several centuries. It was the Aborigines who told the name of the coral to British explorers when they first came to Australia.

mardi 23 septembre 2014

Autumn City

It's always gray where I live. There is no sun. The best you get is a warm glow diffusing through the clouds. But most of the time it's just mist and rain.

People around here don't mind, though. Why would they mind? They don't know anything else. It's always gray where I live.

The leaves are always falling where I live. You never see them when they're green. You never see them sprout.

People around here don't mind, though. You never see them cry. You never hear them laugh.

The leaves are always falling where I live.

dimanche 21 septembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Usugiri Cicada

The usugiri cicada, Tibicen giridesu, is a cicada native to Japan, and not found anywhere else in the world. It follows the same life cycle as its cousin, the annual cicada, Tibicen linnei, emerging from the earth in late spring, and mating during the summer, when the tell-tale sound of cicadas can be heard all over Japan. But, unlike its cousin, the usugiri does not live exclusively from tree sap. Although the larvae, just like those of other cicadas, will bury underground and feed on the roots of plants, the adults have a quite different approach.
Cicada-hunting has always been popular in japan, where kids (and even adults) will follow the sound of cicadas to find them. The same is done by the natural predators of cicadas, and the insect usually stop as soon as they sense movement close by. Not so the usugiri cicada.
Tibicen giridesu emits two sounds, one of which is heard most at the beginning of summer, and one which is mostly heard at the end of the season. The first sound, similar to the one of the annual cicada, is a way to attract mates, and is stopped as soon as potential predators get near. The second one, however, is designed to attract those same predators. Once they are close enough, the usugiri cicada will use its modified wings to jump at its prey, and, thanks to its powerful mandibles and its front claws evolved for digging, burrow into the predator. Once inside, it will eat its fill, and, using the nourishment thus gained, produce a large number of eggs. The eggs are laid in the carcass of the would-be predators, and hatch quickly. They then gorge themselves, before burrowing into the ground and hibernating. The whole process takes between one or two days.
In the Edo period (1603 – 1868) the usugiri cicada where though to be one of the most dangerous creatures in Japan, and the Shogunate invested much effort into their eradication. It is even believed that one of the reasons for the seclusion of Japan during that time where rumors suggesting the insects had been smuggled in by a foreign power in an attempt to destabilize the regime. However, active hunting of the cicadas soon stopped, since it only gave them more prey and made their numbers flourish.
It is still a mystery to this day how this behavior came to evolve, since attempting to burrow into a predator without the specialized morphological features seen today would result in death almost all the time. Even though cicadas are naturally adapted for digging, it would still be impossible for other cicadas to dig into a living animal. As philosopher Oishii Manju put it:

It is one thing to plow the earth. It is quite another to plow life.”

jeudi 18 septembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Feudal Wolf

The feudal wolf, Canis lupus feodalis, is a subspecies of the gray wolf found only on King Island, located in the Behring Straits and claimed by both Russia and the United States of America. Although closely related to the gray wolf, marked behavioral differences warrant the status of sub-species.
When gray wolfs form a pack, the alpha male is also the one to lead the hunt. In addition, the alpha male and female maintain the pack hierarchy, which allows them to coordinate as a group. In feudal wolfs, this is not so.
Although they are at the top of the hierarchy, alpha males and females of feudal wolfs do not participate in the hunt. Like in lion prides, they simply wait in their lair for the others to bring them food. However, as there is only one pack of feudal wolfs living on King Island, they do not need to defend their territory, as the male of a pride of lions would.
It has been observed that the alpha animals patrol the island from time to time. Whenever they encounter another wolf eating, they will attack him without mercy. On several occasion, they killed the offender. This behavior is of course used to deter underlings who try to hoard food. But since it can lead to death, it is also a selection mechanism which will favor more docile traits in the underlings. It is probably due to this that most often, alpha animals are replaced by their descendants.
There have been several theories as to the origin of the feudal wolf's strange behavior. Prof. Ikmar Ketakki, of the Finnish Institute of Wolf Studies (FIWS), believes that it has to do with the fact that the wolfs have arrived on the island at the same time as the last Ice Age ended, about 10'000 years ago. This is the same time-frame in which the genetic drift between the feudal wolf and the gray wolf accelerated, and it is commonly accepted that the feudal wolf was left stranded on King Island during that period. Since food was scarce during that time, wolfs who hoard food would have a higher chance of survival. This increased fitness would allow the hoarders to steal prey from other wolfs they encountered, and this led to the pack-structure seen today.
Dr. Luke Beddington, from the English College of the Good Ol' Chaps (ECGOC), however, has a different opinion. An overall increase in hoarding behavior would hinder the pack-structure seen today, he argues, since the underlings would have a natural tendency to hoard their food. Instead, he believes it is due to the wolfs' intelligence. Unlike their cousins on the mainland, the feudal wolfs do not have any big game to hunt. Their prey is mainly composed of birds and rodents. When the prey is big, it is necessary to be part of the hunt to get a good piece, since it cannot be easily transported. As such, resources are best invested in hunting. But when the average of the prey became much smaller, it became more effective to have others hunt for you and bring you prey one by one. Dr. Beddington believes that, just as humans have tamed wolfs, the alpha wolfs of King Island have tamed their fellows.

mardi 16 septembre 2014

I Can See For Miles

Time can pass by faster than you know. You keep doing your thing, and suddenly you look up, and months have gone by without notice. Suddenly, there is this brief moment of clarity.
Without knowing why, time stands still. Everything seems to stop, and you find yourself standing at a crossroad. No, actually, you find yourself standing just after the crossroad. You've already made your choice.
You can look back at where you came from, at the choices you made. And you can see ahead, down the path you choose, and the days to come.
It only last for a couple of hours, maybe less. But in that moment of clarity, it feels like you emerged from the water, and during the time it takes you to breath, you have an unobstructed view of the world around you.

And then you dive back in.

dimanche 14 septembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Fire-Starter

The fire-starter, Pheropsophus prodigium, is a species of bombardier beetles. Like its cousins, it can mix together hydroquinones and hydrogen peroxide to create a flammable substance. However, unlike its cousins, which only use this mechanism defensively, the fire-starter pro-actively makes use of its pyrolitic capabilities.
The fire-starter lives mainly off of smaller insects, hunting them around the small, newly-sprouted leaves that they eat. Given that the fire-starter lives near the deserts of Australia, most plants quickly harden to avoid dessication, and thus, the amount of prey diminishes, since the smaller insects cannot chew through the hardened outer layer of plants.
When prey density is low, fire-starters tend to aggregate. Once a critical population size is reached, the beetles will spread out in every direction, all the while using their abdomen to shoot out the flaming compound contained within their abdominal glands, and effectively setting their habitat on fire. One they have gone a certain distance, they dig holes in the ground, where they hide until the fire has past.
The ashes left by the fire fertilize the soil, and as the new boughs of young plants start to appear, the fire-starter's prey find themselves with an abundance of food. As the population of their prey increases, so do the fire-starters, until the cycle starts again.
When the fire-starter was first discovered in the late nineteen-hundreds, it was considered a pest, and a highly dangerous insect. As such, it was killed on sight by settlers. But given their remote habitat, this did little to affect their population.
More damaging to the fire-starters, and the Australian ecosystem as a whole, was the increase of fires due to humans. This perturbed the cycle of growth and destruction that had been installed by the fire-starter, and the fragile equilibrium that had been established between prey, predator and feed. In response, the population of fire-starters declined rapidly during the whole of the XXth century, and in the last ten years, no sightings of the insect have been reported.
In an unrelated discovery, it has recently been understand that the fire-starters are an important part of aboriginal culture, where the insects where considered to be the keepers of the land, destroying the old to make room for the new.

jeudi 11 septembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Ever-Sleeping Shark

The ever-sleeping shark, Carcharhinus dormansis, is closely related to the Galapagos shark, and only found in the waters of the Galapagos Islands. It is a relatively small species of shark, and feeds mainly on small fish and mollusks. However, the truly distinctive feature of the ever-sleeping shark is the way it “hunts”.
The ever-sleeping shark does not hunt. Instead, it sleeps. As all sharks, the ever-sleeping shark needs to keep moving in order to make water flow through its gills, since, unlike most fish, it cannot pump the water through muscular action. Its ancestors, whenever they wanted to take a break, would chose a place with a strong current. Thus facing the current, they only needed to stay still, and the water would flow through their gills on its own. The ever-sleeping shark has expanded on this principle, and uses it to feed, too.
As the Galapagos archipelago abounds in tricky shorelines with complicated currents, it is the ideal habitat for the ever-sleeping shark. All the shark needs to do is find a good spot, with a strong current and narrow enough so that it can fill it up from rock to rock. Once it is fixed in to place, it simply keeps its mouth open and goes to sleep, waiting for prey to float in. Twice a day it has to reposition itself to adapt to the tide. Other than that, the ever-sleeping shark barely moves.
Only once every two years do the ever-sleeping sharks leave their “bed” for the mating season, which lasts about two weeks. During that time, all the sharks release a strong hormone into the water, and the mating frenzy begins. Jack Requin, of the Galapagos Center for Non-Existing Research (GSNR), who has written the most comprehensive study of the animal yet (“Putain de bordel, regards-moi ces trucs!”, 2006, éd. Gallipain), says that the mating sharks look as if they are trying to squeeze a whole two years of activity into those two weeks. The death toll can rise up to 20% of the entire population.
Due to its inconspicuous nature, the ever-sleeping shark has only been discovered during the second half of the XXth century. However, since then, it has gathered a cult following in the occident, and it is not rare to see people advertising “the way of the shark”.

mardi 9 septembre 2014

A Night In The Bijlmer

Sitting at my desk, I can hear the voices coming up from the parking lot. In one of the last days of summer, there's a party going on.

The light in my room is bright, and it feels as if the voices are coming out of the darkness. Creedence is playing on my shitty laptop speakers, and sounding good.

I was high as fuck, and there was work in the morning. But no matter. It was still early. There was still time.

dimanche 7 septembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Millennium Falcon

The millennium falcon, Schistocerca millenia, is a member of the Acrididae family, and a close relative of the desert locust. Due to its incredible size (a wingspan of thirty centimeters (~11 inches), and a body length of twenty centimeters (~8 inches)), it is one of the largest insect species of modern times. When it is in full flight, it can easily be mistaken for a bird of prey.
Contrary to most species of locusts, the millennium falcon has an extended larval stage. Indeed, most individuals spend their entire life in a larval state, even for reproduction. For reasons that are as of yet unknown, the millennium falcon only pupates once every one thousand years. During that event, its population explodes dramatically, and during one month, there is an accelerated cycle of reproduction and migration, which allows the millennium falcon to spread to new territories. After that rapid population growth, it then goes back to living as larvae for the next one thousand years. The millennium falcon is believe to be the cause of the plague of locusts mentioned in the old testament, since the time-frame corresponds more or less to the population cycle of this uncommon insect.
Scientists who have been studying the millennium falcon believe that its extreme life-cycle is a way to avoid predation of its adult state, and increases overall fitness, since the larval state live exclusively underground, and thus have less predators than the flying adult form. In addition, due to the extremely long cycle it takes before the adult stage appears, no predators are able to adapt to it and anticipate the explosive population growth that occurs at that time.
Although it has been considered a plague by many in the past, precise analysis of the ecosystems in which the millennium falcon lives has shown that the “plague” of locusts that appears every one thousand years is actually highly beneficial to species diversity and overall biomass, since it represents a bountiful harvest for a number of predators. In addition, the harsh reduction of plant biomass creates an opportunity for underrepresented species, since it level the playing-field and creates new niches.
In western culture in particular, the millennium falcon has been largely ignored, mainly due to its sporadic apparition. However, it has, in some uncanny ways, influenced some people, who thought that it was a mythical cousin of the falcon (bird). One of the most well-known admires of the insect is, of course, George Lucas.

jeudi 4 septembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Dickhead

The dickhead, Capita penis, is one of the more obscure life-forms found on our planet today. Of unknown origin, it is the sole representative of its family known to date.
As its name suggests, the dickhead is tube-shaped, its “head” having the form of a chestnut. It has several nerve ganglions along the ventral part of its body, which suggests it might be distantly related to insects and the Annelida, although genetic analysis put it closer to the Chordata. As of today, its evolutionary history remains shrouded in mystery, and there is some speculation that the dickhead might well be the missing link between vertebrates and arthropodes.
As its form suggests, the dickhead moves like an earthworm, wiggling forward or backward by contracting its muscles, and then relaxing them. It preys mainly on small specimens of the Annelida, such as young earthworms or nematodes. It eats by ingesting prey through its frontal opening. Its digestive tube runs in a U-shape through its body, and the same opening is later used for excretion. However, the most interesting aspect of the dickhead is its reproductive mechanism.
When encountering a mate, dickheads cover their whole body in a slimy, whitish secretion. This secretion contains not only the sperm cells, but egg cells as well. The two dickheads will then rub against each other. If the genes of their immune system (the immune system is one of the aspects of genetic code which shows the most variability) are differentiated enough, the antibodies found in both secretion will lock onto each other, and the dickheads will be able to shed off the secretion, which will serve as nutrition for the fecundated eggs. If not, the eggs will still be fecundated, but without the nutritious secretion, their chances of survival are extremely low.
Dickheads have historically been ignored in most cultures where they were present, b it only because their semi-aquatic, subterranean lifestyle made them a rare sight. However, in recent times, the animal has become rather prominent in western countries, and it seems that it now has a cult following that sees it as the pinnacle of modern evolution. In evolutionary terms, of course, this statement is not valid, since the dickhead has been found in the fossil record for more than 300 million years.

mardi 2 septembre 2014

Good Times

There's really not much of a point, when you think about it. You get born, you live, you die. That's all there is to it. It happens millions of times a day. Gazillions, if you include the other species. Animals and plants live and die without even thinking about it. For four billion years its been happening. And there's never been much of a point.

But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it.