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Category Archives: Bird and Fish Kills

The Valentine’s Day/Venereal Disease Switcharoo

Well, they have the same initials and lots of people hate them both equally, but you’re right – there’s nothing funny about either of those things and it’s in poor taste to joke about them.  But screw it, right?  What is this, a daisy farm?

No, it’s a hard-as-nails, grittily realistic blog and the fact is, both kinds of VD can go hand in hand.  For example, one of them is the perfect day to apologize for giving someone the other one.  You’re welcome, big fella – that one’s on the house.  

Now, what I’m thinking is that I can help you out if you are one of those people who hates Valentine’s Day, with a simple exercise which you might be familiar with from The Brady Bunch or other seventies television shows.  Remember how Marsha Brady was nervous about taking her driver’s test, especially because Greg Brady said boys were better drivers than girls?  And how Mike Brady told her to simply imagine her driving instructor in his underwear?

Well first of all, I don’t recommend that as a good strategy for raising teenage girls.  As you can see, Marsha’s a little bit freaked out by her old, gross, male driving instructor.  I can’t see how that helped her at all. 

But, what do I know?  It worked on countless sitcoms, and what I am proposing is even easier. 

If someone is referencing Valentine’s Day in any way at all, even just by receiving flowers for it and smiling too much, then replace “Valentine’s Day” in your mind with “venereal disease.”

Trust me, synaptic pathways are organized alphabetically, by the initials of the concepts they represent.  It’ll be a snap.

For instance, that smiling girl at the front desk in your office is glowing with joy because her man just sent her Venereal Disease Flowers.  Nothing says Sorry About The Clap quite like flowers, yes?

Especially those people who really show off at Valentine’s Day, like sometimes Lexus commercials will suggest that you buy your wife a freaking Lexus for Valentine’s Day.  If anyone you know gets a Lexus for Valentine’s Day, then the VD Switcharoo will come in especially handy.

“I love Venereal Disease – my husband got me a Lexus this year!”

It’s like, damn – this year?  How often does the guy go to Vegas and don’t you think he should take a little more money – or possibly you – with him from now on?

I’d knock out a VD Switcharoo app for you to download if I knew how to write code at all and if I knew exactly, precisely what an app is.  The app could for instance alter every Facebook and Twitter post in your feed and remove the words “Valentine’s Day” and replace them with the far more hilarious “Venereal Disease.”

Consider the following Facebook post, altered slightly for my purposes, but representative of Super Happy Valentine’s Day Posts everywhere:

“I know that some people have a really negative view of Venereal Disease because they are in the sorts of relationships where all it means are obligations and consumerism.  Or  because they don’t have anyone to share it with.  But I’m wishing you a Happy Venereal Disease anyway, because I’m enjoying mine so much and it makes me think of you.  I am so thankful to my husband for a wonderful Venereal Disease!  Repost if your husband gave you a great Venereal Disease this year!”

See how you’re a LOT less interested in strangling this person now?  That’s because of the app I didn’t write and wouldn’t know how to.  You’ll have to use your mighty imagination to swap the words out yourself, but I know you can do it.  And you can bet your ass that far more than 93% of people will not repost that, either.

Now, as a word of caution – if you’re in a relationship with someone to whom Valentine’s Day actually means something, someone who takes this crazy ass Hallmark Holiday seriously, then you might want to think long and hard about the value you would place on your relationship with them, because not quite everybody in the world is amused by Venereal Disease jokes.  I know, it hardly makes sense, but different strokes for different folks, right?

So anyway, in that case, you’ll have to be extra sneaky.  Just say it correctly, while deep down in your heart meaning the gross one, but go ahead and allow the person to whom you are speaking continue to believe that you are talking about the sacred corporate greeting card holiday.  Heh.  Don’t you feel more hilarious already?

With your pals you can do it more directly, using the abbreviation.  “Whattup, Mitch, Happy VD.”  Then walk away snickering when he says thanks.

Or when someone asks you, say, what do you two normally do for Valentine’s Day?  You can just say, “Well, there are ointments and medications but we try to regulate the outbreaks using diet and exercise.  It’s a more holistic approach and it is what Tom Cruise would say, but it still works.” 

If they haven’t walked away frowning yet, go ahead and start helpfully removing your pants.

By the way, do you remember that commercial for Valtrex, where they warn you that in 70% of cases, herpes is transmitted to a partner even though there were no visible signs of outbreak?  And did you ever think, damn, that means 30% of the time, folks are having sex with their partners even though there is a visible sign of a herpes outbreak?  WTF is wrong with people?

Now, listen.  This part’s really important.  A lot of people celebrate Valentine’s Day with their children, and they give them little hearts full of chocolate, etc.  You need to understand that the Hilarity Factor is decreased by approximately seven trillion percent when you are talking to your kids.  Not even a skilled samurai comic expert could elicit humor out of a venereal disease joke directed at children.  That’s how cops and social workers show up at your door.

And no one’s going to give any credence to the theory that Future Tom so effectively blogged about the VD Hilarity System that it rendered you powerless to use it properly.  Take responsibility for yourself, all right?

Go ahead and use the Switcharoo, but like guns and vodka and trips to Vegas, you have to use it responsibly.  Don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

In conclusion, Happy VD, Blogosphere, and I do apologize.  But I’m afraid you already read it – there’s no way you can unread it.

 

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CSI: Arkansas Vs. The Serial Bird Thumper

You know what I expect when I click on an article entitled Report Gives Answers To Bird Deaths In Arkansas?

You guessed it – answers.  But yes, I would agree that not quite everyone’s idea of answers are the same.  Wrong, stupid, or incomplete answers are all kinds of answers, yes?

To illustrate, consider the following exchange:

You:  Say, Tom, why aren’t you wearing pants?

Me:  Well, I woke up at the park and they were gone.  What day is it?

See how my answer was actually just a variation on “I don’t know?”

Well that’s just me being ridiculous.  You wouldn’t expect that from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in their official report following their investigation into the recent bird kills in their state, would you?

But go ahead and look.  You won’t believe what Ace Ventura and the Arkansas Pet Detectives came up with to “explain” the mystery.  (And yes, it’s a mystery, despite CNN’s idiotic claim that Carcass Storms Are Perfectly Normal).

Right from the article:

“Laboratory tests were conducted on 13 of the birds that were part of the group that flew into buildings and died in a neighborhood in Beebe, Arkansas, 40 miles northeast of Little Rock.”

Huh.  I hadn’t realized that the birds had flown into buildings right before they died.  I think that if I had heard such a thing, I and anyone in their right minds would have found their deaths considerably less mysterious.  But oddly, in the initial CNN article about this, they make absolutely no mention of birds flying into buildings. 

That article was called Arkansas Game Officials Probe Mystery of Falling Birds, and it seems to me that if they had all flown into the sides of buildings, it would have been called something more like Why Did This Particular Flock Of Five Thousand Birds Fly Into The Sides Of Buildings?

I mean, we’d know why they fell out of the sky, right?  If they all hit buildings?

In a way, I kind of appreciate the complete lack of a smokescreen or a cover-up.  Just go ahead, and say something else this time, CNN – the past is gone, right? 

See, the first article says they fell out of the sky and were still falling out of the sky when investigators arrived.  So that’s awfully odd, declaring a Birds Falling Out Of The Sky Mystery, then publishing idiotic articles about how in fact normal that is, and then completely recharacterizing the dead birds as birds “that flew into buildings.”

See how that’s not the same mystery all of the sudden?  See how suddenly, it’s pretty easy to solve? 

Next, please investigate the startling mystery of the dead deer showing up every mile or so along county roads, and cue the X-Files music.

So far, I have seen nothing to effectively contradict The Horrifying Bird And Fish Reverse Conspiracy Theory, not anywhere in the news.  And yes, I know it’s just an unproven theory, but check this out, also right from the article:

“The tests ruled out bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, pesticides and avicides (chemicals used to kill birds) as causes of death.”

Cause I mean, that’s weird.  Looks like you guys ruled out a lot of stuff, including some very specific chemicals, and yet you declined to check the birds for evidence of chemical weapons tests from the largest depository of chemical weapons in the United States of America, which is right there in the area. 

If you found a man dead in a pile of his own blood and vomit right outside the chemical weapons storage facility, would it still not occur to you to check him for evidence of chemical weapons exposure? 

Looks like this guy died of a broken heart, boys – let’s wrap him up and go home.

I mean, avicides?  That’s good work, fellas.  “We better check these critters for bird poison.  Oh, awesome, they’re clean, so they must have fallen down!”

Really.  After such a detailed investigation, that’s what they came up with.  These birds died from blunt trauma, almost as if they all hit something.  These birds which we’re suddenly going to describe as having hit buildings, instead of dying mysteriously and falling out of the sky, like we said two weeks ago.

Riddle me this:  If our government had been testing or mishandling the dangerous chemical weapons which they store by the thousands of metric tons right down the street, and if whatever they did released these dangerous chemicals into the environment where it came into contact with five thousand birds, then do you think that maybe the birds could all get sick and then fall out of the sky? 

And then do you think they would experience some blunt trauma when they hit the freaking ground?

Yes, so do I, Watson. 

So, since you officials still don’t have an answer other than “They died from hitting the ground,” or “All of them simultaneously ran into buildings,” then how about if you stop insulting the general population and test the chemical weapons test theory, which fits the facts of the incident like a glove?

Again, this isn’t a report.  It’s propaganda.  It’s old-fashioned horse shit. 

And if you think I’m being paranoid about CNN participating in some kind of cover-up (wouldn’t take much, they don’t have to know what’s going on, just hand them a sack of tacos and they’ll say whatever the hell you want), then please examine the last paragraph of the story:

“This incident came several days before another mass death of animals. In that incident, 450 miles south of Beebe, some 500 red-winged blackbirds, starlings and sparrows were found dead. Also that same week, about 50 dead birds were found on a street in Sweden.”

Ah yes, it did come right around the time of those two relatively unremarkable incidents.  But it also came at around the same time as 2 million dead fish in the Chesapeake Bay, 150 tons of red tilapia floating dead off of Vietnam, 40,000 dead crabs in Britain, and 100,000 dead fish that same week, right there in Arkansas. 

I understand that you guys are all news professionals and I am but a mere blogger, but are you pretty sure that you used the most informative, helpful examples there?  Because it sure looks like you carefully selected normal examples to match your other article about how carcasses rain from the sky all the time, and that this was right after you decided the birds were all simply clumsy and bonked their heads. 

If this is your idea of reporting, CNN, and this is your idea of an “answer,” then there are only three possibilities:  You are incompetent or you are a brothel, or both.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2011 in Bird and Fish Kills, News/Commentary

 

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Carcass Storms Are Perfectly Normal, And Other Reassuring Tidbits

Well, in case you were worried about chemical weapons or the end of the world or even if you were just thinking, “Damn it, that’s a lot of dead fish and birds, I wonder what that’s all about,” then I have good news for you.  It turns out that it’s perfectly normal for large numbers of animals to die at the same time.

Now, so you know, I am not at all concerned that the world is going to end.  I’m not packing up for 2012 and I don’t think we’re trapped in the prologue to The Core. 

Yes, however, I’ve been reading stories about piles of dead critters all over the place, and all I want to know is what happened.  That’s the big mystery to me – not death, not mass death.

Unexplained mass death.  I just do not believe that unexplained mass animal death really occurs all the time, and I can’t seem to work myself up into any kind of shame spiral about it.  I think when it happens, it’s usually clear why, and this time it’s not.

And since it’s not clear why, I’m probably going to remain curious about it, and also skeptical toward the idea that I should go away and ask about something else.

If we were testing chemical weapons, for example, then I’d like to know about it, and I’d like to kindly ask my nice government to pretty please cut it out.  I’m not being sentimental, either – it’s mainly because I eat fish and birds all the time, and I do not want to be a part of mass human death, whether it’s normal and natural and explained or not.

Now, if you were already thinking conspiracy theory, then there’s no AP story in the world that’s going to shut you down.  If a shady government cabal is covering up a chemical weapons test which killed 5000 birds and 100,000 fish, then the normal thing to do is meet up with an AP executive with a briefcase of cash, make sure that nothing conspiracy-like goes out on the wire.

Advanced Conspiracy Execution of course, would then include the production of a nice, whitewashing story about how everything is fine.  That’s really what we have right here – conspiracy or not – in the now heavily-circulated AP story FACT CHECK: Mass bird, fish deaths occur regularly.

The main thing about this story – it’s talking about much smaller animal kills, and most of them are easy to explain. 

When I started scratching my head about all of these recent, massive fish and bird kills, the numbers were only part of what bothered me. Another part was the fact they were clustered together – the birds and the fish in Arkansas were within a day of each other, mass kills showed up in huge numbers elsewhere in the world within a week. 

So they weren’t just mass kills, but a cluster of unusually large mass kills – and again, the most troubling part of all is that no one can tell us why.

I’m reading the article, and it starts off acknowledging the huge numbers of dead animals showing up –  2 million fish in the Chesapeake Bay, 150 tons of red tilapia in Vietnam, 40,000 crabs in Britain – and then it goes on to say, don’t worry, it happens all the time. 

To illustrate, it gives me a list of considerably smaller kills, including:

 –  900 some turkey vultures that seemed to drown and starve in the Florida Keys

–   4,300 ducks killed by parasites in Minnesota

–   1,500 salamanders done in by a virus in Idaho

–   2,000 bats that died of rabies in Texas

–   the still mysterious death of 2,750 sea birds in California

Nothing on that list even approaches the scale of the recent kills.  We’re talking 40,000 crabs, millions of fish, compared to a couple thousand animals here and there, on the See It’s Normal List.

Furthermore, in all cases but the last, they know the exact reasons the animals died.  So they aren’t “mysterious” kills, either.  They’re natural.  They’re smaller.  And they’re explained.

If the article is trying to reassure me, then it would tell me how often these kills happen on such a huge scale.  In clusters. Without explanation.

Unless of course, those particular numbers turn out to be less reassuring.

Right from the article:

“On average, 163 such events are reported to the federal government each year, according to USGS records. And there have been much larger die-offs than the 3,000 blackbirds in Arkansas. Twice in the summer of 1996, more than 100,000 ducks died of botulism in Canada.”

Okay, that’s great – although according to this CNN article here, the number of blackbirds was actually between four and five thousand.  You know, not a big deal, you’re just telling me there’s nothing to worry about, then you’re lowballing the numbers on my end.  Makes me nervous, like you’re trying to sell me something. 

And if they had to go back to 1996 to find 100,000 dead ducks (again not a mystery, it was botulism), then it would seem that’s the best they have. 

In other words, they could more effectively make their point with more recent, comparable numbers, and they don’t – which leads me to believe that there aren’t any more recent, comparable numbers. 

And not just comparable numbers.  Comparable numbers which are unexplained.

So what we have is an article telling us that this happens all the time, and then failing to illustrate that this happens all the time.  On this scale, this happens rarely, and if there was a point in time when we had a half dozen five-digit kills in the same week, you’d think they’d mention it in the Everything’s Fine Article, wouldn’t they?

Here’s the thing.  I’m not saying it’s the end of the world.  I just think it’s worthy of interest, scrutiny, and when it comes to getting to the bottom of it, persistence.  If giant animal kills are so normal, then what the hell is wrong with wanting an explanation?  Even the freaking salamanders got an explanation, and there were about one or two Hefty bags full of them.

You might think that I’m some sort of crazy conspiracy nut, but the fact is it’s raining carcasses out there, and you’re the one telling me that’s normal and fine.

After all, we did just pump a trillion gallons of oil or so into the Gulf of Mexico, which is connected to the oceans the way the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone.  Seems like that’s the sort of thing that could ripple on up the food chain and hey – I just think we ought to look into it.  See if it’s, you know, not normal at all this time, since it’s so much bigger and widespread.

There are many degrees between blithely disregarding this phenomenon and ascribing it to the end of the world.  I would agree that it’s not time to panic, but it doesn’t feel like it’s time to underestimate exactly how much of a toilet we’re turning the world into.  From my perspective, folks who are gearing up for the zombie apocalypse are freaking me out about exactly as much as the folks who are totally positive that nothing’s going on at all.
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Earlier: The Horrifying Bird And Fish Reverse Conspiracy Theory
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And: Modern Freedom And Big Brother’s Lens
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And speaking of lizards: Our Weird Perception Of What’s New

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 7, 2011 in Bird and Fish Kills, News/Commentary

 

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The Horrifying Bird And Fish Reverse Conspiracy Theory

Usually, here’s how conspiracy theories work.  You take something that happened right out in public, and then you take the official story that everyone gets on the news.

Then you say, maaaaaan, that’s not what happened.  And then you provide an alternative story to the official one, usually more convoluted and sinister, and you sort of tailor it to the known facts.

You find a few problems with the official story, and then you show how your version addresses those problems.  And then you explain the lack of proof or evidence to back up your version, with the sneaky, conspiratorial antics of someone with enough clout to fabricate a cover story and make it official (usually Bush).

For example.  The World Trade Center.  Official version:  Terrorists take advantage of our lax airport security policies and crash planes into the Pentagon and the WTC.  Conspiracy version:  The WTC was already wrapped with explosives, placed there by members of the Bush cabal, and for a variety of sinister reasons, the WTC was destroyed on purpose – to march us off to war, pave the way for the Patriot Act, destroy all the evidence for a bunch of legal cases against billionaire criminals (Building 7), and to generally be really evil dicks.

It’s clearly a bit of a stretch.  Since Health Care, for instance, passed without knocking any buildings down at all, it seems like there was probably an easier route to those goals.  And I’m not here to debate the WTC story.  If you ask me, I’ll tell you I don’t know, because I don’t.

But one thing is glaringly certain:  The conspiracy theory is a lot more complicated than the official story.  The WTC conspiracy theory requires incredibly efficient and amoral coordination, absolutely secrecy, and a level of horrifying treason never seen or approached before throughout history, all at the highest levels of our government.

So people usually jump up and start shouting “Occam’s Razor!”  every time a conspiracy pops up.  Occam’s Razor is usually summed up with the phrase, “The simplest explanation is the best explanation.” 

Now, I keep saying, that’s a guideline, not a rule, so nothing centuries-dead philospher Occam ever said is going to make the conspiracy impossible – just generally less likely.

The mass killings of birds and fish.  That’s a little different.  The official story appears to be, well, hell, we don’t know.  Then they sort of trot out as many stories as they can find in which a bunch of fish or birds were killed, and shrug.  Sometimes huge numbers of animals drop dead without reason, they explain, and that’s not very simple at all.

Certainly it’s not as simple as the conspiracy theory, which would be something like, it was the willful or accidental release of chemical or biological weapons.  That’s about as simple as it gets.  A bunch of dead animals, dead because of poison, poison which we know we make, poison which we keep huge quantities of, stockpiled where?

Stockpiled in Arkansas, at Pine Bluff, not far from the kills.  Stockpiled in the tens of thousands of metric tons.

Hmmm.  I wonder if there’s any evidence suggesting that the massive chemical and biological weapons stockpiled nearby, which would do exactly what was done to the birds and fish, had anything to do with what mysteriously happened to the birds and fish?

Well, John P. Wheeler III thought so, according to this article by Sorcha Faal, in the EU Times, entitled Top US Official Murdered After Weapons Test Causes Mass Death:

“A shocking report prepared for Prime Minister Putin by the Foreign Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU) states that one of the United States top experts in biological and chemical weapons was brutally murdered after he threatened to expose a US Military test of poison gas that killed hundreds of thousands of animals in Arkansas this past week.”

Well, son of a bitch, that’s pretty shocking, isn’t it? 

Notice how that’s not a long-haired dope smoker at the end of the bar, going, “Maaaaaaan.  The govamint’s killin’ birds!”

No, in fact, John P. Wheeler III was the former Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. from 2005-2008, and then he became the Special Assistant to the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Logistics and Environment.  He wrote a book on chemical and biological weapons, and worked as a consultant for the Mitre Corporation, which  according to the article, created “the computer command and control systems used by the US Air Force in their fleet of aerial spraying planes.”

Wheeler was also a Vietnam veteran – he was against the deployment of weapons like this, and the report cited in the article indicates that we are currently shipping this stuff – which can not just kill birds and fish, but humans, too, horrifically, as in it makes your lungs “explode” – over to Afghanistan.

So instead of a knucklehead in his basement, speculating about complicated alternative theories to a situation that’s already explained, we have an expert on chemical and biological weapons, a patriot, a veteran, explaining something that the official version can’t. 

And he’s got a pretty simple conspiracy theory to combat the vague We-Don’t-Know version on the news.  And now, he’s dead, as if you needed an extra reason to think that maybe he knew what he was talking about.

His body was spotted tumbling out of a garbage truck before anyone even reported him missing, that’s how quickly and neatly he was taken out, right here on our soil, within days of threatening to go public.  I guess it could have been a random crime, right?  Not connected to the whistleblowing?

Sure, but who’s holding Occam’s razor now – the newspaper or the conspiracy guy?

My thinking is, you don’t usually get killed for having no idea what you are talking about, or for threatening to go public with false or harmless information.  This guy doesn’t look like a conspiracy theorist to me – he looks like a martyr.

Seriously, you should read the article.  It’s sourced, and it needs passed around.  You might get turned off by the end, when the author accuses us of being a nation full of intentionally undereducated, religious imbeciles, and I don’t blame you.

I guess the question is, are we going to sit around acting like it or what?

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Earlier:  Modern Freedom and Big Brother’s Lens

And: Occam’s Razor Is Not A Law Of Physics

Then later:  Carcass Storms Are Perfectly Normal, And Other Reassuring Tidbits

 
7 Comments

Posted by on January 6, 2011 in Bird and Fish Kills, News/Commentary

 

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