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Monday, January 15, 2007

Science Monday: Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

It's Monday and the markets are closed to honor Martin Luther King. It gives me more time to work on my next uranium report, which probably isn't in the spirit of the day. But hey, the wife and kids are joining friends at the South Florida Fair, and I don't think MLK Day has much to do with seeing giant rabbits, eating fried Snickers on a stick and riding whirly-rides until you puke.

It's either work on my new report or go to the gym. My gut is getting so big that it's developing its own gravitational field and I'm being orbited by a small moon (on closer inspection, that might be my four-year-old).

Anyway, my morning surfing brought up some disturbing news -- bird die-offs. Do these happen ALL the time, or are they the canaries in the global coalmine?


Bird Deaths Shut Down Downtown Austin

AUSTIN, Texas - Police shut down 10 blocks in downtown Austin for several hours Monday after 63 birds were found dead in the street, but officials said preliminary tests found no threat to people.

Birds fall from sky over town (near Perth, Australia)

THOUSANDS of birds have fallen from the skies over Esperance and no one knows why.

2,000 Ducks Found Dead

BOISE - More than 2,000 dead mallard ducks have been found in the Magic Valley.

XX Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching the X-Files back-to-back recently (I received Season 3 on DVD for Christmas), but I’m not comforted by official assurance that these deaths probably don't signify any threat to humans.

And there is the fact that “scientists calculate that we are losing species at a rate of somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural ‘background’ rate of extinction. This means that technically we are going through a period of ‘mass extinction’, the sixth that we know about over the hundreds of millions of years of the fossil record.”

Mass extinction – well, we know what happens to the top of the food chain during those kind of events. The local fieldmice use our skulls for condos, then they evolve into the Next Big Thing. At least, that’s what I learned on the amazing Before The Dinosaurs series on the Discovery Channel. My kids became instant experts, dividing the animals between “good monsters” and “bad monsters.”

Mass extinctions, bird deaths, strange subterranean gas leaks not only in New York, but all over the world – what the heck is going on? Or maybe just a sign that news “travels in packs.” When the media finds that the public is interested in some kind of story (gas leak, bird deaths), they start throwing out every gas leak and bird death story they can find.

But then there’s the fact that the White House is set to do a U-Turn on Climate Change, according to British newspapers. I’m not holding my breath -- we’ll see if that happens.

XX Update: Nope! U.S. denies British rumors on Bush climate change

However, The Washington Post reports that the White House has actually made an about-face on Iraq – it’s rehiring the same competent people that it fired for telling the truth four years ago. I kid you not. Read this…

Desperate for new approaches to stifle the persistent Sunni insurgency and Shiite death squads that are jointly pushing the country toward an all-out civil war, the White House made a striking about-face last week, embracing strategies and people it once opposed or cast aside.

Read the rest HERE. I find this news simply stunning. I mean, the folks in the White House are the same people who sent unqualified kids with no experience over to Iraq to get the economy on its feet by driving around with bags of cash in the trunks of their cars, handing it out – losing AT LEAST $9 BILLION of US taxpayer money in the process. After long years of placing ideology over competence, NOW they decide to change course and get serious?

General Petraeus was another dissenter, too; now they throw the whole mess in his lap. Good luck, General. I really, really hope you succeed. Otherwise, well, maybe those bird deaths, bizarre natural phenomena, and “snowball-in-hell” behavior in Washington are signs of something else.

And in that case … so, what are you wearing to the Apocalypse?


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