A Grimaldi Venus

Palaeolithic Venus figures
A personal opinion by Don Hitchcock

There can be no single reason or purpose for the creation of venus figures, since the figures came from such disparate groups, across many thousands of years, and in any case with mutually incomprehensible languages.

First and foremost, however, they are not meant to enhance fertility.

RTFA. Please. This was a New Year’s discovery for me. Wandering through the interconnected links is going to take days and weeks. Or more – to give Don’s work the careful appreciation it deserves.

This link won’t get you back to the beginning of his adventure. It’s where you get if you click on the “Don’s Maps” link in his work. Enjoy the journey.

Millipede fossil found — whole critter likely 8 1/2 feet long, 110 lbs!

Fossilized exoskeleton fragment

Researchers in the U.K. have found the fossilized exoskeleton of the largest arthropod to have ever lived. These giant millipede-like creatures were the length of a car and likely roamed Earth during the Carboniferous Period, between 359 million and 299 million years ago.

The monstrous millipede ancestors, known as Arthropleura, were already known to scientists, but the discovery of the new fossilized exoskeleton fragment confirms that these ancient invertebrates could grow to be much larger than previously expected.

Researchers discovered the new Arthropleura fossil, which is around 326 million years old, inside a fragmented block of sandstone on a beach in Northumberland in northeast England in 2018. The exoskeleton fragment is 2.5 feet (75 centimeters) long and 1.8 feet (55 cm) wide. This means the individual that molted it would have been around 8.5 feet (2.6 meters) long and weighed around 110 pounds (50 kilograms), according to the researchers.

Must admit I am not a big fan of millipedes.

Is Trump the Chimp at the Top of our Pre-evolution Hierarchy?

❝ Donald Trump’s political stylings…evoke(d) memories of our people’s original civic leader — the large, angry ape.

“In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” the anthropologist Jane Goodall infamously opined in the summer of 2016. “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks. The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.”

❝ Goodall was far from alone in this assessment. In his paper “The Appeal of the Primal Leader: Human Evolution and Donald J Trump,” Northwestern University social psychologist Dan McAdams argued that the mogul embodied “the social dominance form of human leadership” — and likened Trump’s Twitter tantrums to the violent rituals performed by ruling chimps.

❝ Trump intended his shutdown to be a spectacular display of his tribe’s supremacy in America’s dominance hierarchy. It became the opposite. Now, there’s a good chance that, over the next two years, this presidency is “going to go weaker, weaker, and just disintegrate.”…

One can only hope. Though I have no confidence in Trump’s echo of Reagan’s failed supply-side economics producing anything of benefit to working families, the mass of rural and urban Americans, the danger of stupidity overruling anything near unto common sense retains a risk of economic and social disaster. Often the fate of petty pimps and their claque…and innocent bystanders.

Ban circumcision? Why not ear piercing? Or haircuts?

A San Francisco-based advocacy group known as Male Genital Mutilation Bill has collected enough signatures on its petition to ban circumcision that the proposal will appear on the city’s November electoral ballot.

This petition will make circumcision a misdemeanor if performed on boys under age 18, punishable by a fine of $1,000 and up to a year in jail. A similar effort is under way in Santa Monica, supported by the San Diego-based MGM, which has prepared anti-circumcision legislation in 46 states.

Some say you must draw the line on parents’ rights to make decisions for their children at “bodily mutilation.” If that is the case, then they should consider another very common and usually harmless procedure, often performed on infant females: ear-piercing. About 20% of baby girls suffer minor complications from ear piercing; about 3% suffer major ones. Complications include swelling, drainage, infection, bleeding, cyst formation, large scars and trauma. Surely such piercing should be banned before anyone bans circumcision…

The rate of complications resulting from circumcision is lower than ear piercing, between 0.2% and 0.6%, with some bleeding as the most frequent complication. Studies, such as one at the University of Washington, have indicated that circumcision might have health benefits. It helps prevent HIV infection somewhat in heterosexual intercourse (although using condoms results in similar gains)…

And the World Journal of Urology in 2008 reported studies that indicate the procedure can prevent penile cancer, particularly neonatal circumcision.

Claims about psychological harm caused by neonatal circumcision are based mainly on anecdotes and Freudian psychoanalysis. If circumcision had the traumatic effects some opponents maintain it has, roughly two out of every three American males would be in trouble.

A very poorly supported claim that circumcision is harmful, in the face of evidence that it might be of some benefit, is not enough to prevent parents from making decisions for their children on circumcision, ear piercing and much else.

I’m certain I can hear the screams of pain from every follicular cell on my head every time my wife suggests I need a haircut. Mass execution of cells on this scale is only matched by the green holocaust visited upon lawns in the United States every weekend except when the Yankees are playing the Red Sox.

Young Afghan couple stoned to death

Life inside an ideological cave

The young lovers didn’t stand a chance.

In a desolate field on the edge of their village in northern Afghanistan, hundreds of men, stones in hand, closed in to carry out the mullah’s death sentence, handed down after the pair eloped against the wishes of their families.

It was an act of great cruelty,” said Mutasem Khan, an uncle of Abdul Qayuum, the 28-year-old man who was stoned to death this month in Kunduz province along with the village woman he had wooed, identified only as 19-year-old Siddiqa…

Even as hard-line village mullahs loosely aligned with the Taliban seek a return to the harshest forms of physical punishment permitted under Sharia, or Islamic law, the Taliban leadership has been trying to rally public support by painting itself as a defender of civilian lives.

In a highly unusual move, the Taliban this month even offered to create and participate in a joint commission with the Western military, the United Nations and the Afghan government to investigate the deaths and injuries of noncombatants. That offer came soon after the insurgents issued a “code of conduct” that discouraged the killings of civilians…

For countries contributing troops to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization force, such a settlement could set the stage for an exit from what has become an increasingly unpopular war. But the West says, echoed by the government of President Hamid Karzai, that negotiations can take place only with insurgents who promise to renounce violence and respect Afghanistan’s Constitution and legal system, which call at least in theory for due process under the law.

At the village level, however, matters of crime and punishment almost always encompass family honor and deeply held tribal traditions.

Summary justice, governing everything from land disputes to adultery, was a feature of daily life long before the Taliban rose to power in the 1990s and will probably remain part of the landscape regardless of how long the Western military presence lasts.

Someone remind me: Which group of Stone Age ideologues is on “our” side?

Why are we there? And who invited us to stay forever?