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vendredi 31 juillet 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Bored Badger

The bored badger, Meles meles circumforatus, is a subspecies of the european badger, and the only member of the badger family that is in acute danger of extinction. However, unlike most animals, this is not due to human factors, such as pollution or destruction of the environment. No, the bored badger, as it were, is simply so bored in permanence that he shows little inclination to accomplish even the most basic tasks of survival.
All animals, human or otherwise, have been selected through a long period of evolution, where instincts will push us to accomplish certain basic needs for reproduction (the famous “eat, fuck, sleep”), and our neurons are wired in a way to recompense these behaviors through a release in dopamine, thus teaching us to keep doing them. In the bored badger, however, these mechanisms seem to have broken down.
It is not yet entirely clear what evolutionary road the bored badger took, and even if he can really be consider a subspecies of the european badger, or if he is merely a particular phenotype. What scientists agree on, however, is that he is extremely bored. It is very hard to elicit a response in the bored badger, be it through food, danger, or the opposite sex. Breeding programms, which have been realized mainly in the course of scientific studies, have had very little success, and the lack of specimens makes a detailed study of its behavioral patterns even more challenging.
Dr. Stud Hanson, of the University of Luckyton, has recently suggested that the behavoral oddities of the bored badger are not due to genetics, but to infection by an as-of-yet unknown pathogen, which could potentially infect humans as well. His research was showing promise, but he abandoned it recently, because “what's the point, anyway?”.

mercredi 29 juillet 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

In 2018, as the american economy started to decline, mainly due to less exports, which politicians related to higher minimum wages raising prices, congress decided to reinstate and expand mandatory minimum laws for a number of offences, in order to provide companies with more cheap labour by prisoners.
Today, in 2021, the effect has been drastic, with american exports having almost doubled in the last three years. While politicians from both major parties keep clapping each other on the back for what they describe as "the successful revitalization of the american dream", more than 10% of the american population is now incarcerated, and the number is projected to rise even further.
Answering the question of a journalist, who had aked him what he thought of people saying that the american dream had turned into a nightmare, the president responded: "Not if you sleep in my bed!"

lundi 27 juillet 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"Yes. No. Listen. I know I said I'd help you if you ever needed me. But I'm not a nice guy. So I won't."

    - That guy who said he'd help you out. Yeah, you know the one.

vendredi 24 juillet 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Curry Moth

The curry moth, Samia aromii, is closely related to the Ailanthus silkmoth, Samia cynthia, and commonly found throughout southern India. It's large size, as well as delicately coloured wings, have long made it a species of interest for collectors, but it is only recently that its culinary properties have been discovered. Or, to be more precise, re-discovered.
The curry moth, like most moths and buterflies, only lays its eggs on specific plants that meet the requirement of the soon-to-be hatched larvae. In the case of the curry moth, it looks for plants that have a relatively high concentration of capsaicin, the “spicy” molecule of chili peppers. As a result, they are mostly found on the spice plantations that grow chilis, or on wild plants of the same variety.
When the British East India Company took over India in 1757, they also took control over the spice trade and production. Due to poor communication with locals, which was due as much to arrogance as incompetence, the british failed to see the curry moth as anything but a pest, and ordered farmers to dispose of the insects trying to breed on their crops. Later, as pesticides and herbicides were introduced, the curry moth population suffered an even more drastic fall, and in 2005, the species hit its all-time low, now being found only in the wild. However, recent efforts to introduce biological agriculture in the region have seen a revival of the moth, and local population have kept the memory of the moth, and its uses which eluded the british, alive until today.
In fact, due to its restrictive regime, the curry moth was often used by local s as a seasoning in and of itself. The moth larvae absorbs much of the aromatic molecules of its food, especially the capsaicinoids, and stores them in its body, possibly to deter predators. This, however, did not work well on humans, who quickly discovered that the subtly modified spice produced by the moth was even more enjoyable than that of the plants themselves. But as the moths started disappearing due to the chemicals used in the fields, they disappeared from peoples food, too.
The rediscovery of the curry moth as a seasoning, however, has not only caused a cultural revival in India, but a culinary revolution in the west as well. What was inconceivable to british colonialists (namely, eating insects) is commonplace for the modern “foodie”, and the moths are starting to appear in more and more high-end restaurants in the western hemisphere. This, in turn, encourages indian spice farmers to reduce, or eliminate, the use of chemicals in their fields, allowing them to switch to biological methods of cultivation and increase their profits at the same time, the moths now fetching much higher prices than the spices themselves.

mercredi 22 juillet 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

At the climate conference in Paris, in December 2015, China announced that, in addition to diminishing its CO2 emissions, it would also impose stronger regulations, as well as yearly maximums, on its rare earth industry, to reign in the uncontrolled and massive pollution these industries caused to their immediate environment.
In an official statement, the white house called the commitment "a dick move", accusing China of trying to manipulate prices via the guise of environmental policies. Chinese officials, however, were not impressed, and counseled their american counterparts to "suck it". "As these capitalist pigs should be well aware, the best way to make sure people have less of something is to artificially raise its price", said Hu Jin To, chinese minister for environmental protection. "That goes for pollution as well".
In the years that followed, prices for most technical devices more than doubled, and consumption of said devices decreased significantly. China offset the drop in demand for manufacture with the price increase, and, thanks to lower industrial output, is well on its way to overachieve on its emissions pledge.
The U.S.A., on the other hand, have desperately tried to convince other countries, especially in Africa, to create their own rare earth mining centers, and save the american tech industry, which relies heavily on cheap electric components. But until now, massive popular protests, some of which have turned violent at times, have hindered their efforts.

lundi 20 juillet 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"When the government tells corporations what to do to help the people, you need to support it. When the government tells people what to do to help corporations, you need to change it."

   - Che Guevera, 3 April 1963

vendredi 17 juillet 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Sun Snake

The sun snake, Crotalus solis, is a close cousin of the rattlesnake, and is found all around the southern U.S.A., as well as northern Mexico. The well-versed snake-admirer will recognize its three distinctive horns, which it uses to pinpoint temperature fluctuations in its surroundings.
Like all snakes, and reptiles in general, the sun snake is cold-blooded, meaning that it has no means to autonomously regulates its body-temperature. Unlike other reptiles, however, the sun snake does not go from sun to shadows in order to maintain an optimal temperature. Instead, it will always seek out the hottest places it can find, and use the increased temperature to drastically accelerate its metabolism. Hence its name.
This peculiar behavior has puzzled researchers for some time, since the uncontrolled increase in temperature can lead to internal damage, and, in some cases, death. It was only recently that doctor Edward Visper, of the California Institute of Slithering Stuff (CISS), has found the biological reason behind this strange habit.
Contrary to what we thought, it is only female snakes that seek to drastically increase their temperature, and only once they carry fertilized eggs. The increase in temperature allows them to speed up to development of the embryos drastically, and thus provide their offspring with a jump-start into life, which greatly improves their chances of survival. The occasional death, or internal damage, is offset by the evolutionary advantage to their descendants.
The sun snake has always fascinated the native people of its habitat, and a number of indian tribes in the region reference it in both their customs and believes. Due to its extreme aggressivness when it is heating up, as well as the increased potency of its poison, most people have seen it as an emissary of the sun, representing the anger of the star. A few tribes have gone further, and see the taming of a heated up sun snake as a rite of passage for their shamans, who thus demonstrate that they can quell nature's fury with their powers.
In recent years, due mainly to the higher fluctuation in temperatures, sun snake populations have become instable, rising rapidly after hot summers, and falling drastically during cold ones. In addition, recent heat-waves have driven the animals into a frenzy, making them extremely dangerous. We all remember the horrible tragedy of Clarkson Elementary School, where a class came across a sun snake during a hiking trip on a particularly hot summer day, and fourteen students where bitten by the frenzied animal, nine of whom later died from the poison.

mercredi 15 juillet 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

In the summer of 2015, Greece, being forced once again into an unreasonable bailout program by the IMF, the EU and ECB, had had enough. With the support of the people, the government decided to leave the union, and default on all its debts.
In response, the troika yelled foul, and decided to suspend all lending to the ancestral home of democracy. Markets fell sharply around the world, and it seemed that a new financial crisis was beginning. The greeks, however, seemed unconcerned by the panic around them, and, with the help of Russia and China, as well as Brazil, managed to secure enough funds to avoid a complete collapse of their economy. The economic miracle that happened afterwards, however, can only be explained by the solidarity and determination of the once-again free greek people to make it on their own.
As the european union fell into disarray, Greece soon found a steady stream of revenue through increased tourism by its new partners, and was well on the way to recovery. Meanwhile, Spain, hit hardest by the new crisis, decided to exit the EU as well, and was quick to form economic alliances with Greece and its creditors.
Today, almost five years later, half a dozen countries have defected from the EU, and joined the ever-growing number of countries in the asia-focused economic alliance centering on China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa. The USA, afraid by the rapid decline of their allies, have called for reinforced sanction against countries whose government defaulted on their debts. In retaliation, China has asked the US to repay half of the 1'200'000'000'000$ (1.2 trillion $) debt it owes. The U.S. treasury has yet to respond to the demand.

lundi 13 juillet 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"Even though we live in a concrete jungle, I still don't get why everybody is trying so hard to be the monkey king..."

    - Bob Marley, 1973

vendredi 10 juillet 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Sky Fly

The sky fly, Muscus caelum, also called the blue fly, is commonly seen as the most beautiful species of fly in the world. Its intense azure coloration, a result of both pigments, as well as light refraction caused by nanostructure in the fly's cuticule (exoskeleton), regularly takes one of the top spots in the yearly publication of the most striking colors. Sky flies, contrary to what their name might lead you to believe, do not live in the air. In fact, they are the only species of fly to live in the water.
Blue flies survive mostly off of fish excrement, much as their airborn cousins are attracted to animal excrements. Sky flies most often either follow schools of fish, or lurk around rich habitats, such as coral reefs, where many marine animals pass to breed or feed. Their irridescent color is an adaptation to their aquatic environment, and, seen from the water, their sparkling passes for just another reflection of sunlight.
In recent years, sky fly populations have suffered from the rapid degradation of the oceans. Both the decline in fish populations, as well as the destruction of marine habitats, through increased acidity of the seas as well as direct human intervention, has seen their numbers dwindle, and in many places where it was common to see the sparkling flashes of brightest blue when one went diving, the sea has gone dark. In addition, sky flies have become a popular centerpiece for jewels, which has further accelerated their decline. But their dissappearance does not only affect the animal world.
The sky flies have long been used by a number of people to ascertain the state fo the sea. When to go fishing, which were the best spots, when and how the weather might change, the sky flies have been a useful indicator of the state of the seas, and intense scientific studies by Dr. Rupert Seastone's group at the Institute for Aquatic Insects of Melbourne (IAI) has shown that they were indeed an accurate proxy for these events. Their dwindling numbers have made it hard for the people to judge the waters, and there has been an increase in shipwrecks, as well as victims of storms, in many native populations that are dependant on the sea. Some even go so far as to say that the decline of the sky fly will lead to the death of the seas themselves. Western science sees things the other way around, but there is no denying that both events are connected.

mercredi 8 juillet 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

In the summer of 2015, the WHO, anticipating degrading conditions on world food production due to the effects of climate change, decided to appeal to the UN to anull all patents on organisms related to food production, and to allow farmers to choose their crops freely. Surprisingly enough, the UN agreed.
The decision was hailed as a victory not only by farmers, who would now once more be in control of their crops, but also by scientists, who had long argued that putting patents on life was not only stupid, but also unfair, since it was not something that had been invented by humans.
In the following months, stock prices for Monsanto & Co. crashed, but food production the world over, and especially in developing countries, rose rapidly, and the diversity of crops planted as well. This raise in agricultural biodiversity acted as a natural defence against diseases, and allowed farmers to obtain similar harvests as before while using only half as much chemical helpers. This provoked an increase in biodiversity in general, and contributed to a wider, healthier array of polinizers, which, in turn, increased production even more.
Now, more than twenty years after the fact, 26 July, which is the day the UN passed the motion, has become an international holiday, the World Farmer's Day, and is seens around he world as the day where the first step in the right direction had been taken.

lundi 6 juillet 2015

Citations that weren't Made

"It's getting hot in here. But not nearly as hot as it is out there..."

   - Nelly, 06.07.2015

vendredi 3 juillet 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Burning Frog

The burning frog, Bombina torrens, is native to central Europe, and, to this day, the only known social species of the Anura order. Living in familial groups, the frogs generally occupy a territory with at least one watersource used for breeding (some territories have been observed to contain more than ten such breeding ponds). Females will remain with their family, and lay there eggs in the territorial ponds. Males, once they exit the water, will disperse, and mate with females from other families. This alone makes the bruning frog a uniquely fascinating species, since such organised social behavior is virtually non-existent in other amphibians, But the burning frog has more to offer than family fun.
The mucus of the burning frogs' skin is rich in hydroquinine, and, through a mechanism well-known from the bombardier beetles, when stressed, it can release hydrogen peroxide from vesicles in its skin cells, causing a chemical reaction that raises the temperature of the mucus on its skin to almost 100 ºC, causing it to evaporate. The reaction can be so fast, it almost seems as if the frog explodes in a cloud of steam. In addition, the frogs' mucus is toxic, and, when evaporated, will cause irritation to the skin, watering eyes, and a burning sensation in the throat and nose. The process is, of course, extremely demanding of the frogs themselves, and can lead to their death. It is used most often during the period when the new tadpoles grow, and is though to be mainly a way of protecting the young. Once the offspring has grown out of the water, it is very rare to see burning frogs use the defence mechanism.
Tim Rats, of the University of Europeville's history department, has recently found texts that suggest that the frogs were effectively used as crowd control devices durin the middle ages. Lords would keep the frogs in captivity, in small basins of water, artifically maintaining them in a state of constant reproduction through artifical light and warmth. When there was a riot, or the castle was attacked by enemies, they would dump the basins full of frogs on the offenders, causing the frogs to burst into steam, and intoxicating the assailants.
In popular culture, “throw the frog” is a game played by many young adults to this day. A group of young people will take a burning frog in their hands as gently as possible, and then throw it to each other. The goal is to catch the frog as gently as possible, to avoid it bursting into steam. Whoever sets it off looses.

mercredi 1 juillet 2015

Politics that didn't Happen

At the beginning of 2015, against recomendations from the IMF, and despite an American veto, the UN decided to abolish the debts of all African nations.
In the years that followed, Africa went through a renaissance. Infrastructure, education and healthcare made amazing progress in very little time, and the economy quickly became independant from western powers. Under chinese influence, the African countries made sure to incorporate low-emissions and overall ecoogical considerations into their growth, and managed to quadruple GDP without significantly raising their emission levels.
In the meantime, the west suffered a heavy crisis, not so much because of the lost income from the abolished debts, but because of the increasing price of ressources that could before be bought for cheap from Africa. Western economies all but collapsed, and even now, they are still struggling with the aftermath of Africa rising.