Thursday, November 29, 2012

The three-legged stool of angst

Three- legged stool of angst

                Sometimes I am sitting somewhere and get hit by an awful and unexpected dread that all is not well.  My skeptical side rises up and declares the world absurd yet logical, and how it is all without meaning.  My spiritual side declares stubbornness and says the diversity of experience in the world says we are luminous beings in a physical container and it is all unfolding as it should.  My glimpse of the Divine despairs that we all fall short and are lost.  My skeptic says such a worldview is irrational and that the whole universe is not just a checkerboard between Good and Evil.  My spiritual says we are part of the great purpose and need to be in tune with it. My Divine cannot express itself except to say we must love and pray for our enemies, especially Osama Bin Laden, and no one will ever get that, especially those who claim that they do.  Each side speaks again:

Jesus is in control so there is no need to worry.

We are all One so there is no need to worry.

All we are is all we are so there is no need to worry.

And thus the stool settles again until the next time.  

Friday, November 09, 2012

A Bounty on Bigfoot

I just found out that last week, SpikeTV is offering $10 million for proof of Bigfoot - and I had just worked out the details to posting today. I guess I don't have to use my own moneyh now.  Oh well, here's my X-prize criteria:

A Bounty on Bigfoot
                At times, when science has needed to evolve in a certain direction, incentives have been use to spur imagination and dedication towards a goal.  While possibly not as impactful as calculating longitude, flying the Atlantic, or creating a commercial spaceflight to humanity, I propose the establishment of a prize to solving the biggest question in cryptozoology: whether Sasquatch/Yeti exist.  Despite widespread sightings in North America and the Himalayans, direct physical evidence of an undiscovered, giant primate species is lacking; but perhaps with a public X-prize, evidence may be more actively sought.

                Sadly, species can often only become definitely known to the scientific community by either live capture, or more commonly in the past, dead specimens.  Until there is a specimen on display or submitted to long-term analysis, rumours of any impressive yet undiscovered species are simply rumours.  While one can speculate that sightings of an 8 foot primate walking in the woods is either a delusion or mistaken identity, it seems odd that sightings in different areas and times would have many similarities.  To provoke a search for a settlement  of the issue, I hereby propose a:

                1 million dollar (USD$) prize for a complete Sasquatch body delivered in good shape to the nearest university (or other educational institution) to where the specimen was obtained; 2 million total if the species is alive and in good health upon delivery.  (An additional 10% of the above sum to be given to the institution as a donation in recognition of their assistance.)

                Since I have not won the lottery yet, and my money-making skills are barely sufficient to keep my family going, I propose that a fund for donations be set up, to be held in trust, until such time as someone submits a suitable specimen, at which time, after DNA and other extensive tests prove conclusive, they will be given the $1 million/$2 million alive prize money – the “Bounty.”  Any left-over monies from the “Trust” would be donated to suitable causes to protect habitat in which the creature was living.

                The prize will be given out if ALL of the following criteria are met:

1)      We are looking for a bipedal specimen of a 7 foot tall or more ape-like creature over 500 lbs covered in dark fur with large feet that is not currently known to the scientific community. Although known by various names around the world, it will be hereafter referred to a “Sasquatch” or “Yeti”.

2)      The specimen must be intact and well-preserved enough to be studied and catalogued. 

3)       The specimen is to be brought to a university, lab, zoo, school, museum, or other scientific institution for examination and preservation. 

4)      The above institution will alert the local and world-wide media and present the specimen publicly for the media and scientific community to examine.

5)      The media will alert the `Trust` and inform us of the existence of a suitable specimen.

6)      The `Trust`s representatives (perhaps me) will visit the institution and take custody of the specimen for extensive testing and confirmation.  If the specimen is judged appropriate to the Bounty requirements, the finder will be presented with $1/2 million USD and the institution will be presented with 10% of that amount.

7)      If the specimen is not appropriate, it will be returned to the institution.

8)      Presentation of the monies will be in a public and videotaped forum.  Anonymity will not be granted. 

9)      Upon payment of the Bounty, the `Trust` will have the option of permanent custody of the specimen to exhibit as it sees fit.

10)   This offer is void where prohibited.


My hope if that a living specimen could be examined and tested before being returned to the wild.  Comparisons of DNA and skeletal structure are intended to see its evolutionary history and any relation to existing or prehistorical primates.  Although the species might be extremely rare, it is a species and not an individual, so the hope is that the loss of one specimen will actually spur humans to preserve the natural habitat for the specimen`s whole species. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

``Why are you looking for such a tall (over 7 foot) and heavy specimen?  I see little ones all the time``

                Bigfoot is usually described as being very tall, bipedal, and massive; bigger than any known ape species.  It is hoped that asking for an adult specimen will diminish the number of hoaxs and other species being offered.  If you have a 7 foot tall body-builder as a friend who wants to dress up in a fur suit and walk in the woods, you need to warn him that a hunter could shoot first and ask questions later.  (If you do find a smaller but possibly suitable specimen, please bring to a suitable institution ASAP – the Trust may decide to honor the Bounty or a smaller amount.) 

“Why are you offering so much money?”

                If the amount is substantial, there may be more incentive to obtain a specimen and not decide to let it pass by. 

“I think there should be more money, because maybe I could exhibit the specimen for profit.”

                Do what you want, but you will not have any recognition or monies from the Trust.  We just beg that you let the scientific community examine the specimen thoroughly.

“I have a Yeti specimen already, it is hidden in my house and I will let you take a look for $5, but it must be kept private.”

                No, this is to advance scientific knowledge.  If you are not willing to show the specimen publicly as described above, you will get nothing from us.

Why do I have to bring it to a university or educational place?   Maybe they don’t want it.”

                This prevents hoaxers from even attempting to waste our time.  Any suitable institution should have access to a freezer or cooler or access to a lot of ice in exchange for a huge donation.  You and they will be world-famous and will definitely profit from this. If you bring it to an institution that is promised 100,000 to 200,000 USD to just preserve the sample and call the media, and they reject it, go to the next institution.  (A high school science lab or cafeteria cooler would do if you are desperate.)

“Why does the institution call the media?”

                To ensure that you are not wasting the media ‘s time with a hoax.  This will be world-wide news when it gets known.

“Why can’t I or the media call you?”

                To ensure you are not wasting our time with a hoax.  If we see it on the major networks, we will find you.  We’ll look for the institution with a huge crowd of media and scientists and bystanders going “Wow, it’s really true!”

“What if my specimen is not complete?”

                Bring it to the institution anyways.  Any evidence is good evidence.  If you are on the news one day saying you had a complete skeleton of a Yeti in your closet but it was missing a toe so you threw it away, we will spend our remaining years cursing your name.

“So this Bounty is ‘Dead or Alive’  - are you saying I should shoot a Yeti if I see one?”

                We are not saying or suggesting anything.  Our best hope is someone finds a recently deceased specimen lying preserved in a cave.  You have to comply with the laws in your area at all times.  Some areas recognize Sasquatch as indigenous species and are protected there.  Ironically, until proven to exist, most species do not have legal protection.  We are not responsible for any actions you take in pursuit of the Bounty.  If you commit an illegal act, we will notify the legal authorities in your area immediately.  We do not encourage any potentially harmful or illegal activities.  If you start shooting at shadows in the woods, you may fatally injury someone and you will most likely spend years in prison. 

“What if I “accidentally” shoot a bear out of season or my neighbour’s pet orangutang in the woods, thinking it is a Sasquatch?”

                Please turn yourself in to your local law enforcement office.

“Any ideas on how to capture a specimen alive?”

                We have no idea on how one captures and detains a 500+ lb primate with more strength than a football team.  If you are going for the live capture option, please be certain you can keep the specimen alive and healthy at your local institution/zoo until the media arrive. 

“Any hunting ideas?”

                That’s why we are offering the Bounty prize – to get the people who live in areas with sightings to come up with capture options.  Infra-red cameras on drones, food lures, a big butterfly net – you have to do the thinking on this one. 

“I think Bigfoot is a mystical and spiritual being that cannot be harmed or captured... but I plan to disrupt anyone who wants to bother it”.

                If the creature is not of this Earth, then I have faith it is in no danger.  I personally would not want to mess with anyone who seeks to mess with a 500 lb primate.  Perhaps lobby your local government to declare the Sasquatch a protected species. 

“I know where a specimen is but it is hard to get to.”

                This is a case of ‘Habeas corpus’ – you must present the body to get the money. If your friends or local moving company won’t help you for a cut of the money, I question the existence of the sample.  Please present one and prove me wrong.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What doesn't count in elections

What we’ve learned from the 2012 USA Presidential Election... mostly from the Republicans:

As they count the votes, I realize what doesn’t... count that is.

Colour doesn’t count anymore.  At first, people were nervous at having a black President, but in the primaries, the GOP managed to find a rich black man to run.  Nevermind the suitability...

Gender doesn’t count anymore.  See above – substitute ‘rich black man’ with ‘Michelle Bachman’.

Morality doesn’t count anymore.  Democrats pleaded for people to overlook Clinton’s peccadillos, and the GOP clucked their tongues at his moral failings.  Now, they had people with multiple divorces, multiple scandals, multiple mental health issues running for President.  Anyone too sensible didn’t have a chance. 

Religion doesn’t count anymore.  JFK was the first non-Protestant candidate to fight into the Oval Office because before that, Americans felt that the Pope would automatically get in as well.  Dems are never moral enough – I saw a TV minister say that Obama goes to prayer breakfasts “but not the right or biggest prayer breakfasts” at the White House – but they put a Mormon on the slate... because really, the G-O-P’s g-o-d really is Mammon.

Intelligence doesn’t count.  If a Canadian Premier said that women can’t get pregnant from a rape unless they want to, their own party would send them immediately on a long vacation and burn the return ticket. 

The Past doesn’t count anymore.  Only the current crop matters.  George who?  Obama hasn’t magically fixed an economy and bad budget because of his failings... there was nothing before.  It’s like your spouse buys a Jaguar on your VISA card and then wonders why it’s maxed out the next month. 

Numbers and facts don’t count.  If you don’t like the candidate: “they have no clear vision while my guy is big on details”.... except when they don’t.  You can actually lie, and lie openly, and people do not have a fit.  The US budget is 3.5 Trillion, yet you can add 2 Trillion to the military budget, and find it in waste.... if waste is defined as “everything else.”  You should have army medics doing house calls and drill sergeants teaching kindergarten. 

Consistency doesn’t count.  You can be a hawk one month, and a dove the next.  But you still have that clear moral centre.

Counting votes doesn’t count.  If you can’t change that whole ‘every idiot over 18 gets to vote’ problem, just make it hard for people to vote.  The poor ones who aren’t as stupid as the ones who vote for you.  My wife is visually impaired and cannot drive – if she was in the USA, she wouldn’t be able to vote under some state legislations.  Never mind if we can prove she’s lived in our house for 11 years with photos, bills, neighbours, etc...  Obviously, terrorists are unable to fake a driver’s licence while 17 year old kids can. 

Respecting the process doesn’t matter. Playing the game, including cheating does.  If your party hires a company that hires a person who destroys registration cards – they should be in federal prison... and your party should lead the charge.  Pensions and the right to vote are perhaps the two remaining sacred things left in the west, and the pension one is fading.  The only reason people don’t riot constantly is the belief that actually being able to vote every 4 years might matter. 
Hopefully in 4 years we’ll be able to be past all this silliness, otherwise the USA won’t count