Random weirdness for the week of Feb. 19, 2019

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The first sunlight of the year is back and so are the first polar bears at the Polish Polar Station at Hornsund (unless the predators were lurking in the dark waiting for some hapless person without a headlamp). But it’s not entirely a happy sight for staffers and not because of what some outsiders might presume is the possibility of becoming polar prey.

Two bears observed at the station last Friday were the first seen in about three months, a long gap at odds with the frequent presence of the creatures during winter months in the not-too-long-ago days before climate change melted the sea ice that typically formed offshore each year. “The previous visit we had was Nov. 11,” Piotr Zagórski, the station’s leader and person who took photo/video seen here, told The Official Local Mainstream Predatory Press. “Last year we registered about 20 bears here. But 20 years ago we had over 200 visits in one winter season.” A similar disappearance of sea ice throughout western Spitsbergen severely disrupted the traditional hunting habits of the bears, including seeking out new land-based food sources on that side and altering their migration habits so that more of them are on the east coast. To what degree those habits have been altered is now causing a bit of uproar associated with a debate about whether a mass invasion of polar bears in a Russian island village not too far to the east is due to climate change or not. But at Hornsund the relatively tiny intrusion is also just a relatively minor annoyance, with scientists ultimately having to fire a signal pistol shot at the bears to chase them off, after which thee humans retreated safely indoors to grumble on Facebook about visitors who fail to schedule appointments…

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Talent On Loan From Cod: Somebody spent a few minutes creating this and posted it on the web. It doesn’t appear to be copyrighted. So what the hell. Meme by “Professor Smartass.”

Speaking of annoyances (yeah, we overuse this phrase as a transition, but try coming up with several new ones every week), radio talk show demigod Rush Limbaugh manages to elbow his way into Svalbard news this week with one of his infinite rants about climate change. Specifically, as PolitiFact puts it, he “dismissed climate change as the work of agenda-driven computer models spitting out threats that loom just beyond the horizon, where scientists can elude accountability for their dubious predictions.” Thus, he exhumed on his Sunday show, climate scientists are reaping riches for scaring us about “what’s going to happen in 50 years, or 30…when none of us are going to be around or alive to know whether or not they were true.” But the fact-checking website – which to-date has found of the 40 statements examined by him completely true (33 of them mostly, outright or pants-on-fire false) – declared he is full of hot air on this one since, first of all, those agenda-driven scientists have overwhelmingly shown the many ways climate change is happening now. “Last summer, the Arctic ice cover in the Svalbard area of Norway was found to be 40 percent below average for that time of year, according to the Norwegian Ice Service, which tracks data going back to 1981,” PolitiFact notes, along with other minor items like the past four years being Earth’s hottest ever in recorded history. The site also notes climate change predictions from past decades have largely been accurate, and models show both trends over long periods as well as short-term projections. For that he earns an outright false rating. Interestingly, it seems Mr. Weapon of Mass Instruction has forgotten some of his recent short-term research, as he asserted when a hurricane was about to hit his Florida hometown in late 2017 that “there is a desire to advance this climate change agenda, and hurricanes are one of the fastest and best ways to do it.” Which meant plenty of dittoheads felt fine ignoring evacuation orders from those liberal government stormtroopers who obviously had something other than the safety of Real Americans in mind. So there was a certain amount of glee in the Liberal Lamestream Media a couple days later when, as many headlines put it, “Limbaugh evacuates.” Literally speaking that means a planned/unplanned discharge of digested stuff, but we won’t pile on and suggest that happened while he was getting the hell away from the fake storm…

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Bears of a color: “All Christians believe that polar bears are made by God but the question is how did God bring about the origin of the physical bear we identify as the polar bear species today?” Apparently this picture/cartoon episode holds the answers. Screenshot from Cartoon Network.

Speaking of Truthtellers About Junk Science, here’s a tidbit that in addition to disproving evolution can sort of be  interpreted to mean that criticism of his theory about why polar bears are white is basically racist. Basically, it all comes down to the difference between  “damaged” and “broken” genes. The scientist, touted for “launch(ing) the intelligent design movement onto the national stage, states “possibly” damaged genes in dark-colored bears from long ago account for today’s white-bred bears – which to him is proof Darwin’s mechanism “devolves” and therefore modern evolutionary theory is bunk. A critic’s response uses the word “broken” which, according to the scientist, is a “bizarre absolute” by an “incompetent” deliberately out to destroy him. Or, in pseudo-street language, don’t you dare be declaring them white creatures broken versions of those of color. Granted, damaged isn’t that much more flattering, but since it’s only “possibly”…

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Down syndrome: Not seeing the similarities to the Doomsday Vault in this picture? Maybe it’s you. Or maybe it just needs more feathers. Illustration by Eva Absher-Schantz.

Speaking of gene science (yup, we’re yielding to absurdity and making the phrase a running theme, much like we bury Monty Python references and other “Easter eggs” in each item in previous diatribes that nobody ever notices), the fine folks at National Geographic who’ve brought us Svalbard classics such as its Sea Monsters of the North series about fossil digs are about to expose a 12-year-old boy experiencing the enhancements of “augmented-reality” upon us. While that (intentionally) sounds like kiddie porn about a yuuuuge adolescence, it’s in real-reality a seven-book “Explorer Academy” series about protagonist Cruz Coronado and 23 academy peers globetrotting “to become the next generation of great explorers.” However, “in the midst of code-breaking and cool classes, new friends and amazing augmented-reality expeditions, Cruz discovers a mysterious past that could jeopardize his future.” The first tale involves setting sail aboard the Orion for places including the Doomsday Vault, which somehow shares a link with a real-life “laughing dragon” cave in Iceland lined with feathers. While we’ve heard a lot of strange rumors about what the costly upgrade to the vault entrance might include, feathers is certainly a new one. But Eva Absher-Schantz, who’s doing the design work for the book, assures us her picture of the vault bears great similarity to the cave on the book’s cover and “the building is so incredible…that you would almost never guess it wasn’t an illustration.” Still, given how that’s less weird than the “true” stories about the vault currently making the rounds, we’ll be keeping an eye out for fowl play whenever the reopening ceremony actually happens.

 

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