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Wouldn't You Rather Talk About Monkeys

Than all this politics crap? Of course you would. Only people with no souls would choose politics over monkeys smashing rocks.


The monkey picks up a potato-sized rock in his tiny hands, raises it above his head and smashes it down with all his might on another stone embedded in the ground. As the creature enthusiastically bashes away, over and over, flakes fly off the rock he is wielding. They are sharp enough to cut meat or plant material. The monkey does not pay much attention to the flakes, save to place one on the embedded rock and attempt to smash it, too. But he has unintentionally produced artifacts that look for all the world like stone tools found at some human archaeological sites.

Uh oh. Was it monkey or was it man?

Now a new study has examined the capuchin-produced stone flakes and compared them to human-made artifacts, and it turns out that the chips meet criteria used to distinguish human tools from naturally broken rocks. The findings, published in the October 20 Nature, could fuel debate over controversial archaeological sites in Brazil that are said to have some of the earliest evidence of humans in the New World. The discovery also raises questions about what differentiates humans from other primates, and how our lineage started fashioning tools from stone.
Yet in other ways the capuchin handiwork throws the divide between nonhuman primates and ourselves into higher relief. Researchers agree that the key difference between the capuchin-made artifacts and human-made ones is that the latter were produced intentionally, with a purpose in mind. For the capuchins, sharp-edged flakes appear to be disposable byproducts of their quest for quartz dust. For early humans, they almost certainly aided survival by facilitating access to food.

Although the capuchin discovery demonstrates that nonhuman species can accidentally produce fragments of rock that look just like human-crafted cutting tools, that does not mean the human-made tools are not special, Harmand cautions. Even if human ancestors started creating flakes by mistake like the capuchins do, there was something that made them realize they could put them to use and even make new tools to suit their purposes.

Mebbe the monkeys are just getting smarter. I've seen lots of Planet of the Apes thanks to fnord12. I know what happens when primates get smart. Now we can have our choice of apocalyptic futures: Dr. Strangelove or The Ape Uprising.

By min | October 21, 2016, 8:27 AM | Science | Link

Mandatory privatized retirement accounts

David Sirota & Avi Asher-Schapiro:

While Hillary Clinton has spent the presidential campaign saying as little as possible about her ties to Wall Street, the executive who some observers say could be her Treasury Secretary has been openly promoting a plan to give financial firms control of hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement savings. The executive is Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group...

The proposal would require workers and employers to put a percentage of payroll into individual retirement accounts "to be invested well in pooled plans run by professional investment managers," as James put it. In other words, individual voluntary 401(k)s would be replaced by a single national system, and much of the mandated savings would flow to Wall Street, where companies like Blackstone could earn big fees off the assets.

More from Yves Smith.

By fnord12 | October 20, 2016, 4:54 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

"Centrist Internationalism"

Here comes the goddamn apocalypse:

In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama's departure from the White House -- and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton -- is being met with quiet relief.

The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy, via a flurry of reports shaped by officials who are likely to play senior roles in a potential Clinton White House.

By fnord12 | October 20, 2016, 4:51 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Wish Twitter was around in the 90s

I don't disagree with any of the criticism of the Campbell Riri Williams cover. But i have to admit that my initial reaction was "People are upset about that?!". Again, it's not that i disagree. I've just become so inured to it all.

By fnord12 | October 20, 2016, 11:59 AM | Comics | Link


While double-checking my bird science for a comics entry, i came across this:

Genetically, birds still retain much of the code needed to make teeth. Some researchers are even trying to reverse-engineer dinosaurs by working backwards from modern birds.

Min will complain about scientists and their penchant for delving into the unknown without the safety of the world being taken into consideration, but i for one will welcome the day when you have to bring a spear out with you when you sit on your patio, just in case.

By fnord12 | October 20, 2016, 9:57 AM | Science | Link

Next: We torture puppies

Not feeling depressed for some reason? Time magazine has you covered:

They did it as a warning to other potential drug users.  Kind of like putting heads on a pike outside the city walls.

By fnord12 | October 17, 2016, 6:46 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Peak Television

Following up on some older posts about the state of Netflix, here's Atrios, and it's worth following through to the Guardian article.

By fnord12 | October 17, 2016, 10:01 AM | TeeVee | Link

Your lying eyes, etc.

I hear we are not at war in Yemen. Which is good. Because even if we have been supporting a country that is at war in Yemen both financially and logistically, and even though we may have had a ship fired at, and even though we've bombed Yemen and may "have to" do so again, it would be terrible if we were at war.

We'd also like you to know that what we're doing in Yemen is very different than what Russia is doing in Syria. And as soon as the State Department official can figure out why it's different, he'll let you know.

By fnord12 | October 14, 2016, 11:00 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Maybe not forever after all

Found on Naked Capitalism:

Over the past few days, the Diamond Producers Association launched its first new ad campaign in five years after watching retail sales of diamond jewelry slow down, as Millennials built on the habit pioneered by prior generations of delaying or not even thinking about marriage, and thus not being sufficiently enthusiastic about buying diamond engagement rings.

The campaign, according to Adweek, is designed to motivate Millennials "to commemorate their 'real,' honest relationships with diamonds, even if marriage isn't part of the equation."

Would an honest relationship with diamonds include talking about slithering into a recession. Good thing we have such promising choices in this next election.

By fnord12 | October 12, 2016, 2:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Bumblebees seem to have a "positive emotionlike state," according to a study published this week in Science. In other words, they may experience something akin to happiness.

The study consisted of hepping the bees up on sugar water and seeing how fast they fly towards flowers they were trained to associate with having sugar water.

He and his colleagues trained bumblebees to distinguish between a blue flower placed on the left side of a container and a green one on the right. When the bees explored the blue flower, they found a 30 percent sugar solution. But when they explored the green one, they slurped up plain, unsweetened water. Eventually, the bees learned to associate the blue flower with a tasty reward.

Then the researchers tested the bees on ambiguously colored flowers at intermediate locations. Half of the insects were given a 60 percent sugar solution prior to the test, and those bees flew faster toward the ambiguous blue-green flower. The remaining bees that were not given the sugar flew more slowly.

The assumption that an ambiguous stimulus contains a reward despite the lack of evidence is called an optimism bias. Perry's experiment suggests that a bit of sugar amped up the bees into a positive emotional state, making them more optimistic that the flower would contain a sugary treat.


By min | October 12, 2016, 8:50 AM | Science | Link

Not that it'll mean much

I'm unsure if the things being revealed about Hillary Clinton in the latest Wikileaks drop (here, here, and elsewhere) are new awful, confirmation of old awful, or if i'm just suffering from confirmation bias, but, regardless, i love the response from Bernie Sanders (from the second link):

Her former Democratic presidential rival, Bernie Sanders responded in a statement, "Whatever Secretary Clinton may or may not have said behind closed doors on Wall Street, I am determined to implement the agenda of the Democratic Party platform which was agreed upon by her campaign," and which "calls for breaking up the largest financial institutions in this country, re-establishing Glass-Steagall and prosecuting those many Wall Street CEOs who engaged in illegal behavior."

Sounds like he's acting like he has a contract and he's all ready to turn against her if she drops the ball on the things that (he thinks) she's agreed to.

By fnord12 | October 12, 2016, 7:23 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Return of the Commies

Everything is a plot by the Kremlin.

I hope we're at least gonna get some Super Apes out of this.

By fnord12 | October 11, 2016, 9:38 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

I Love Zhang Yimou, But

I'm not seeing this white savior movie. Sorry, Matt Damon.

New York Comic Con has brought us some new information about Matt Damon's upcoming star turn in a creature feature set in ancient China called The Great Wall. As soon as early news about this movie emerged, so too did concerns that the movie would revolve around a classic "white savior" narrative involving Matt Damon's character coming to fight with the Chinese armies against the monsters and save them from the threat. Why do the Chinese characters in this movie need a Western outsider to show up and save them?
It's a very common trope in fiction to see a "white savior" showing up, joining an Asian organization or army, then proving that he is actually "the best" of them all. This is a concern that has been raised already about Iron Fist, as well as Doctor Strange, since both of those stories revolve around Western characters traveling to the East and learning how to be "the best" at whatever techniques they learn there. This is even a story that's been used in Wolverine comics and in the new Wolverine movies (with Wolverine traveling to Japan on a quest for self-discovery), and it also famously appeared in the 2003 action movie The Last Samurai. This "white savior" trope has been written about in media analysis texts for decades. It runs the gamut from a white character learning martial arts and eventually surpassing his Asian teachers, to a white character saving an entire Asian society from a threat using skills that apparently the Asian characters lack, for whatever reason.

Damon addressed the controversy himself on his panel about the movie at NYCC, but it doesn't seem as though he fully understands the problem at hand, let alone how prevalent it actually is. According to Coming Soon's transcript of Damon's words at the panel, he said:

"Yeah, it was a f*ckin' bummer. I had a few reactions. I was surprised, I guess because it was based on a teaser, it wasn't even a full trailer let alone a movie. To get those charges levied against you... What bummed me out is I read The Atlantic religiously and there was an article in The Atlantic. I was like, 'Really, guys?' To me whitewashing was when Chuck Connors played Geronimo. (laughs) There are far more nuanced versions of it and I do try to be sensitive to that, but Pedro Pascal called me and goes, 'Yeah, we are guilty of whitewashing. We all know only the Chinese defended the wall against the monster attack.'"

To point out the white savior problem that seems to be exactly what they're marketing is apparently undermining our credibility because we've only seen the teaser and trailer and not the entire film. Well, if it's not a white savior movie, then mebbe you should try not marketing it that way and then we wouldn't have to have this discussion.

And to add salt to that wound,

The Great Wall won't be passing the Bechdel-Wallace Test. There appears to be only one woman in the movie's main cast, to be played by Jing Tian. In this trailer, she appears to be the only woman fighting on the battlefield, but for some reason, the movie isn't about her experiences becoming a warrior woman in ancient supernatural-universe China... even though that sounds way more interesting than whatever Matt Damon's character does, which is show up, steal stuff, and shoot arrows. In this trailer, Jing Tian's character looks like a by-the-books "Action Girl", the only woman on the team. I'm willing to stake money that she'll end up as someone's love interest and, also, end up getting captured by baddies and rescued at least once.

Oh, she's totally going to end up a love interest. Most likely Damon's. Blech.

By min | October 11, 2016, 9:26 AM | Liberal Outrage & Movies | Link

Where's My Juice?

During the study, bonobos, chimpanzees and orangutans were "invited" one at a time to sit in a room and drink juice while watching a sequence of scenarios on a video monitor.


To capture the apes' attention, the researchers made each experimental scenario into a high stakes television drama starring a mysterious apelike character (a researcher in a gorilla suit), whom they dubbed King Kong.
In one scenario the King Kong figure pretended to attack a researcher, then hid in one of two hay bales, moving to the other bale while the researcher watched. Then the researcher left for awhile before returning with a stick to look for King Kong, who had left the scene while the researcher was away. In another scenario the costumed figure moved to the other hay bale after the researcher left and then departed entirely. The researchers also set up the same two scenarios in a slightly different setting--instead of hiding himself, King Kong hid a stolen rock under one of two boxes before removing it completely.

Apes from all three species consistently passed the test; even though the animals knew King Kong or the rock was gone, when the researcher returned to search for it, they consistently looked at the hay bale or box where the person had last seen the object and presumably still thought it was hidden.

I think i could pass this test. It's way easier than the one fnord12 gave me during our last D&D session.

fnord12: I'm going to name something and you have to say what beats it. You have to answer immediately. Ready? Sheep.

min: ...Axe!

fnord12: O...K...I guess that's right, too.

min: What? What were you thinking?

fnord12: Wolf?

min: Ohhh....that makes sense...

By min | October 7, 2016, 9:02 AM | Science | Link

NJ Poll

Link (PDF).

Seems pretty safe to vote third party, if one were inclined to do so.

By fnord12 | October 6, 2016, 7:22 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Dynamite trolls Min

Hopefully they do more than clean a house together.

Sometimes i feel like Dynamite's publishing model is to put out a comic series for each individual on the planet. This time it's Min's turn. I'm still holding out for the Smurf/Snork Wars.

Found via Mike Sterling's latest End of Civilization post, which has plenty more fun.

OOH OOH OOH OOH OOH! There's no way this can be good, is there?

By fnord12 | October 3, 2016, 1:00 PM | Comics & TeeVee | Link

Boba Fett: Double Bass Champion

This has been brought to my attention. For those not interested in the (really great) cover, there's a funny bit in the middle.

By fnord12 | October 3, 2016, 10:31 AM | Star Wars | Link

No one will be seated during the thrilling Luke Cage preach-off

So this latest Marvel Netflix series is a little... slower and talk-ier than i would have expected.

The writers of this show have an amazing ability to strip out all tension and any sense of urgency from every scene. I've never seen a more prolonged and boring "dying from a gunshot wound" setup.

By fnord12 | October 2, 2016, 7:12 PM | Comics & TeeVee | Link

Lion Coffee Man

I didn't want to bother anyone by turning my flash on.

By fnord12 | September 29, 2016, 5:28 PM | My stupid life | Link

Recap 74

Something about the Underdark always causes my campaigns to nearly break up. Big Trouble In Little Underdark.

By fnord12 | September 29, 2016, 3:51 PM | D&D | Link

The code tweaking rabbit hole

This is basically a corollary to this (which i've linked to before), and both hit disturbingly close to home (especially the alt text on the newer/first one).

By fnord12 | September 28, 2016, 11:11 AM | Comics & My stupid life | Link

More posts about buildings and food

Today is National Pancake Day. As you can see from the comment on that article, there is also a Pancake Day in the spring, but unlike that guy we don't find the idea of a second Pancake Day to be "ridiculous". In the SuperMegaHousehold*, we are willing to celebrate Pancake Day as often as is required.

*This is the "buildings" part of the post, to justify the title. Loved ones, loved ones, visit the building. We'll be eating pancakes, but if you come visit we'll... keep eating pancakes. And you can't have any.

By fnord12 | September 26, 2016, 11:33 AM | My stupid life & Vegan Vittles | Link

Movies that are not sequels to Watership Down

...but maybe should be:

  • Blackhawk Down, Falling Down, etc.
  • Look Who's Terrifying Children With Violent Rabbit Cartoons Too
  • Night of the Lepus
  • Big Vater: The Kehaar Story
  • Peter Jackson's Nine Hour Adaptation Of Something Richard Adams Wrote In A Notebook Once

By fnord12 | September 22, 2016, 7:38 AM | Movies | Link

Public Service Announcement

For you non-vegans, just a reminder to tie down your eggs today to keep them from floating away.

You apparently have to watch your brooms, too.

By fnord12 | September 22, 2016, 7:35 AM | Science | Link

Wheel of Pie

This chart comes up in conversations in the SuperMegaHousehold more often than you'd think, and we always spend a little time trying to re-find it. So we're putting it here with a link to the original website for reference.

Modern Farmer Pie Chart

We don't agree with all the decisions, and of course everything needs to be veganized, but it's a good starting point. And a reminder that if you're not eating a pie every month, You're Doing It Wrong.

min: At least a pie a month. You know what's awesome? Freezing unbaked fruit pies so you can have peach pie in January!

I dunno where this person who created the Pie Wheel lives, but where am i supposed to get cherries in September? And what's this apricot pie business? No. We're going to do blueberry pie in May, strawberry (sans rhubarb) in June, and cherry in July. Not sure what i'm supposed to make in September if i have to wait until October for apple. Banana cream? Coconut custard? Cheesecake?

By fnord12 | September 21, 2016, 7:40 AM | My stupid life & Vegan Vittles | Link

Disabling comments

This blog started off as a way for me and Min to share links and such amongst ourselves and with some friends. As my comics blog grew bigger, people from there started drifting over here (my fault for linking between them) and with that has come an increase in people missing the point, being sea lions, using our posts as platforms to air their own tangentially related grievances, etc.. Which happens on the comics blog too, but it always gets taken more personally when it's about politics. We've considered just taking this blog down entirely, but for now we've decided to just disable comments.

By fnord12 | September 17, 2016, 3:16 PM | My stupid life | Link

Dutter & Parker's cry for help?

I am sure that Tom DeFalco wasn't involved in kickback schemes, but it's weird how many Bull's Eye cartoons imply otherwise.


Double Eh!

By fnord12 | September 16, 2016, 9:26 AM | Comics | Link

Post Politics Platypus

It didn't work.  Gonna have to disable comments.

I hope this serves as a sufficient lo siento.

By fnord12 | September 16, 2016, 9:23 AM | Cute Things & Science | Link

I knew it wasn't safe to go looking at political stuff

From Politico: A Clinton administration will be full of Republicans.

From messaging help delivered by Clinton's communications team to direct and regular access to senior staffers and in-person meetings to discuss policy and strategy, Republicans who have abandoned Trump say the Democrat has given every indication that the GOP view will be reflected in her administration.

After she is sworn in, these Republicans say, they expect positions in a Clinton administration that go beyond the one or two seats that are typically reserved for opposition party experts in any White House...

...By embracing Clinton, these Republicans say they've also gained an easy entry point to communicate with the campaign's senior brass on both policy and political tactics. Come 2017, they hope their campaign access translates to a new Clinton administration.

From WaPo: Hillary's first inclination is always war, war, war.

For years, Clinton has blamed Bush for misleading her into voting for the resolution. But an examination by The Washington Post found that her decision was based as much on advice from her husband's advisers as from Bush administration officials. There were also significant gaps in her fact-gathering, most notably her apparent failure to read a classified analysis that other senators cited in voting against the resolution.

Meanwhile, from NYT, the Clinton campaign can't figure out why Millenials and former Bernie supporters are drifting to third parties, and they hilariously think the answer is MOOOOAAAAR SUPERPACS (the rejection of which was the cornerstone of Bernie's campaign):

...leading Democrats have been alarmed by the drift of young voters toward the third-party candidates.

The principal "super PAC" supporting Mrs. Clinton's candidacy, Priorities USA Action, has concluded from its polling and other research that the reluctance to embrace the Democratic nominee among those who intensely dislike Mr. Trump is not going away and must be confronted.

"We'll be launching a multimillion-dollar digital campaign that talks about what's at stake and how a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump, who is against everything these voters stand for," said Justin Barasky, a strategist for Priorities USA.

By fnord12 | September 16, 2016, 7:55 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (5) | Link

Never too late for terrifying Baby DeFalco

I meant to put this up here when i started 1993, but i had trouble re-finding it until now.

Besides, after all this time, i'm still working on January.

I assume there's no special significance in Mark Gruenwald representing 1992.

By fnord12 | September 8, 2016, 1:50 PM | Comics | Link

Love that Collectors Note

Will. Not. Be. Compromised!

Their value will not be compromised. What does that even mean?

Also: Ha ha, John Kruk is fat! (Did i do it right?)

By fnord12 | September 7, 2016, 2:25 PM | Comics | Link


A *Bionic Space* Bigfoot!

Although i have to be the continuity geek and point out that Steve Austin never wore the track suit in the episodes where he met Bigfoot.

By fnord12 | September 6, 2016, 11:08 AM | TeeVee | Comments (1) | Link

DMCA Takedown notices out of control

This would be pretty hilarious if it didn't also mean that lots of legit websites are also getting targeted.

By fnord12 | September 6, 2016, 11:06 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Asking for a friend

It's legal to murder your neighbor if they hang wind chimes on their patio, right?

By fnord12 | September 4, 2016, 1:17 PM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link

Wikipedia of Congress

I love the idea of the Library of Congress hosting a copy of all online-only copyrighted media for public review.

By fnord12 | August 30, 2016, 2:31 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

How *did* Vikings evolve into modern Scandinavians?

I guess someone finally translated the gibberish and felt bad about it.

By fnord12 | August 25, 2016, 11:54 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Profile raised

If nothing else, at least Bernie's run for president means that he now makes headlines (granted, in The Hill) when he says the same sort of thing he's been saying for years prior.

By fnord12 | August 17, 2016, 1:05 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Copyright means you can't have nice things

This remake/remastering of Metroid looks pretty cool. And i'm not a Pokemon guy, but as a fan of the SNES Zelda, i think the look and feel of this game is pretty nice. Unfortunately, both fan-made, distributed-for-free games have been made unavailable because Nintendo is enforcing their copyrights.

By fnord12 | August 16, 2016, 12:02 PM | Liberal Outrage & Video Games | Link


If it was a band, i'm sure it would suck.

By fnord12 | August 12, 2016, 4:03 PM | Comics | Link

The Sub-Mariner's Not Going to Like This

Canadian mining firm Nautilus Minerals says it plans to lead the way with the world's first commercial deep-sea mining project, scheduled to get underway within the next few years off the coast of Papua New Guinea.
Only recently has deep-sea mining become technologically and financially feasible, thanks to using remotely operated subs and other technologies developed for deepwater oil and gas production. Proponents say higher ore grades mean deep-sea mining would be more cost-effective than land-based operations, with a smaller ecological footprint that would be less visible.

But these are uncharted waters, says Cindy van Dover, director of the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C. "We do not know where the tipping points are with regard to how much damage deep-sea systems can sustain and still maintain the health of the ocean," she says.


One likely test case is Nautilus's Solwara 1 Project, which will target a massive sulfide deposit 1,500 meters deep in the Bismarck Sea northeast of New Guinea. Nautilus estimates the site could produce more than 72,500 metric tons of copper and more than 4.5 metric tons of gold. The copper ore grade--the concentration of a valuable mineral within an ore--averages nearly 8 percent, compared with 0.6 percent on land in 2015, says Nautilus chief executive Mike Johnston.

To collect this treasure Nautilus has designed a trio of huge, remote-controlled underwater machines that would not look out of place in a Terminator movie. Two "cutters"--weighing 308 and 250 metric tons, respectively--will crawl across the seafloor on tank treads and grind the ore into slurry using spinning toothed wheels. A 2,200-metric-ton collecting machine will feed the slurry into an enclosed pumping system to the surface. Operators in a support vessel control the cutters and collecting machine using joysticks, sonar and live streaming video. Onboard the support vessel the slurry will be drained and transferred to another ship for processing in China. The wastewater will be filtered of impurities and pumped back down to the seafloor.


Richard Steiner, a conservation biologist and former University of Alaska professor who is not involved in the Solwara project, is unconvinced. "There's no question this will pose massive environmental impacts," he says--from bright lights, noise and potential toxic leaks to sediment plumes that could clog the filters many kinds of sea life use for feeding. The deep ocean is the largest and least understood biological habitat on Earth and deep-sea vents--discovered as recently as 1977--may be one of the rarest of all ecosystems, says Steiner, who heads up the conservation consultancy Oasis Earth. Only about 300 vent sites are known and estimates of the total number that exists range between 500 and 5,000.

Impact reports that use land-based mines as a benchmark are comparing apples and oranges, Steiner says--and our environmental track record in deepwater oil and gas recovery is not exactly inspiring. The deep ocean is unforgiving, even to experts; in 2014 Woods Hole's Nereus robotic sub imploded in the Kermadec Trench, a 10-kilometer-deep rut in the Pacific Ocean floor where two tectonic plates meet northeast of New Zealand. "There's a dangerous combination of ignorance, arrogance, greed and very poor scientific understanding," Steiner says. "Humans are terrestrial primates; we just don't get underwater."


As seen with fracking, we are experts at pulling things out of the ground and then pumping water back into the holes without incurring horrible consequences. And it's all totally contained. No worries. What are the chances anything could leak out?

By min | August 11, 2016, 8:43 AM | Science | Link

No need to stop here. There's plenty more SuperMegaMonkey where that came from.