Friday, January 15, 2016

What are People For?

If you take it down with spears, you're allowed to think of it as a trophy.
What does it mean to be human?  To boldly go where no Sapien has gone before.

Russian scientists said the male mammoth excavated from a bluff on Yenisei Bay on the Arctic Ocean was killed by hunters 45,000 years ago, providing the earliest indication of the presence of humans in the Arctic. 
Until now, the oldest evidence of humans in Arctic regions dated to "more or less 30,000 years ago," according to Dr Vladimir Pitulko, senior research scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute for the History of Material Culture in St. Petersburg. 
The people who endured the harsh Arctic conditions likely lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, Dr Pitulko said. 
Mammoths, the close elephant relatives that were the largest land creatures in the region, represented an important resource for them."Indeed, these animals provide an endless source of different goods: food with meat, fat and marrow; fuel with dung, fat and bones; and raw material with long bones and ivory," Dr Pitulko said

Does your dog understand and accept you?  Maybe, but we still think you need to get out more.
In the study, published Wednesday in Biology Letters, the researchers showed 17 domesticated dogs of various breeds a screen showing two faces: one happy and one angry. At the same time, the dogs heard a human speaking in an unfamiliar language and voicing either a positive or negative emotion. The experiment was then repeated with dog expressions and happy and angry barks. In both cases, the dogs looked significantly longer at the facial expressions that matched the emotional content of the sound they heard. 
That dogs paid more attention to an image corresponding to an emotional sound from both humans and dogs suggests that dogs have an intuitive understanding of our emotions and what they mean. Furthermore, when the dogs were presented with the same emotion expressed two different ways, they understood the connection between them. This means that the dogs were able to pull relevant information from two different sources and recognize that they were similar.
This, however, would be filed under "trying too hard."

While you're heading out, take the dog.  He can be a great wingman.
So why are women more likely to swoon over a partner with a dog? "Put in terms of evolutionary and life history theory, females allocate a higher proportion of their reproductive effort to parenting while males expend more energy on mating," the researchers said. Basically: Women are more likely to want a guy who seems like he would be a responsible, caring parent; guys are more likely to want a girl who seems like she would look good in a bikini. 
The study (which has some notable limitations — the survey sample comes exclusively from the online dating pool, and includes only heterosexual, gender-normative people — pointed out that because pets are increasingly treated like members of the family, their role as a stand-in for potential future kids is all the more significant. 
Hence the "Hot Dudes with Dogs" account on Instagram, and those Purina Puppy Chow "Puppyhood" video ads featuring that floppy-haired guy and his floppy-eared puppy: All just a shameless ploy to win over the ladies by using our evolutionary instincts against us. (That guy and that puppy, though ...)
What does it mean to be human?  It means you're prone to mis-under-estimate the world around you and then blame the world for not meeting your expectations.
There’s a fun game I like to play in a group of trusted friends called “Controversial Opinion.” The rules are simple: Don’t talk about what was shared during Controversial Opinion afterward and you aren’t allowed to “argue” — only to ask questions about why that person feels that way. Opinions can range from “I think James Bond movies are overrated” to “I think Donald Trump would make a excellent president.” 
Usually, someone responds to an opinion with, “Oh my god! I had no idea you were one of those people!” Which is really another way of saying “I thought you were on my team!”In psychology, the idea that everyone is like us is called the “false-consensus bias.” This bias often manifests itself when we see TV ratings (“Who the hell are all these people that watch NCIS?”) or in politics (“Everyone I know is for stricter gun control! Who are these backwards rubes that disagree?!”) or polls (“Who are these people voting for Ben Carson?”). 
Online it means we can be blindsided by the opinions of our friends or, more broadly, America. Over time, this morphs into a subconscious belief that we and our friends are the sane ones and that there’s a crazy “Other Side” that must be laughed at — an Other Side that just doesn’t “get it,” and is clearly not as intelligent as “us.” But this holier-than-thou social media behavior is counterproductive, it’s self-aggrandizement at the cost of actual nuanced discourse and if we want to consider online discourse productive, we need to move past this.
What does it mean to be human?  It means we are surprised when we a force we empower for good begins to waste our time.  It was true the first time a chief was allowed to pass off his authority to his son.  It is true when the US Department of Agriculture which seems to have nothing better to do than worry about Groundhog Day celebrations.
SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. -While a business group has offered to pay up to $1,000 to get a “stand-in” Jimmy the Groundhog for Sun Prairie's annual celebration from an animal breeder, an agreement to do so has not been reached.The Business Improvement District is still in negotiations with an animal breeder and is hopeful a live groundhog will be present for this year’s event, which is scheduled for Feb. 2.The Jimmy the Groundhog used for last year’s event garnered international attention when it bit then-mayor Jon Freund’s ear.“It was the bite heard around the world,” said Freund, who issued a mayor’s pardon of Jimmy the day after last year’s event. “We went as far as Australia. We were on the BBC, the Weather Channel and several talk shows.”Problems arose when Jimmy also got the attention of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. A license is required to exhibit an animal, like a groundhog.Because Sun Prairie did not have a license, Jimmy was released into a field near Sun Prairie last June.

I mean, who can blame Jimmy for that nip.  If you shove that ear in my face, I'm gonna get irritable too.

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