Shameless Papistry, Fantastical and Paleontological Musings, General Hilarity

Archive for October, 2012

Dinosaur Meal Time

So recently, a friend of mine posted this on my Facebook wall: http://gizmodo.com/5954779/how-t-rex-ate-a-triceratops-in-four-easy-steps

I will do them one better. Today, you are in going to learn about one of the possible ways in which a T-Rex likely hunted.

You know, epic cinematic fights like this are actually an oddity in the animal kingdom.

Yes, that is correct. Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops very rarely duked it out horn to maw during the normal course of Late Cretaceous events. In fact, the above picture is even less accurate, because instinct would probably drive one away from biting the deadly end of an opponent. Especially when that deadly end has a chance to make your killy parts less killy for the duration of the fight.

It is far closer to reality to picture the scene I am about to describe to you.

Picture yourself in the branches of a large tree at the forest’s edge  during a pleasant Mesozoic evening. Before you is a fairly large migration pathway browsed and trampled by massive herbivorous dinosaurs into low-growing plants. Each of these creatures is at least a ton of muscle and sinew lumbering peacefully along, grazing as they go. Their number is mixed, with drastically different dinosaurs mingling together for mutual benefit. You see triceratops, ceratopsians, dangerous horned animals similar to the mammalian rhino is build and demeanor, lowing and grunting as they shuffle around through the ferns. Edmontosaurus, a hadrosaur, is also present, and these duck-bills pause while eating every so often to raise their heads and glance around them for any sign of danger.  The two work well together, with the hadrosaur’s higher profile allowing for a better vantage point to watch for predators, and the ceratopsians providing the serious defense in  a wall of horns and frills if one should show its face.

I hated how inaccurate so much of this film was. Carnotaurus never even got close to that unbelievably huge…

You see something huge move briefly in the shadows below you. A beast as black as night stands there, barely breathing, and nearly silent despite its gratuitous size. You find it hard to believe that a predator so powerful, so lethal, should be hidden in ambush, doing its best not to be seen until that one, final, critical moment. The bull Tyrannosaurus Rex is waiting for something to happen with all the patience of a Zen master.

And then everything does. All at once.

Looking back on the incident after the dust clears and blood and viscera stop going everywhere, you understand that one of the nearby Triceratops turned its body just a little too far, so that its head was not within 180 degrees of the T-Rex. However, what you saw then was a rush of impossibly fast motion and a horrific roar as the eight-ton carnivore barreled through the trees and into the open. The entire herd panics, bolting or desperately trying to close ranks and fend off this threat. They are too spread out and too terrified to do this effectively. The targeted animal tries to spin and face his attacker, but is not quick enough. If he had been angled just a bit differently, his powerful triceps and pectorals could have easily launched him into a rotating slash with his horns that would have disemboweled the T-Rex. Instead he is hit with freight-train force as the predator’s jaws close down hard on his hip joint and bite the whole thing off, completely removing the bone, muscle and tendons as the mighty fangs come together with the precision of a demonic cookie cutter.

An unstoppable force meets a yielding object.

The Triceratops tries to turn again and strike back, but with one of its rear legs out of commission, all it can do is thrash uselessly and try to land a blow. The second bite comes within moments of the first, separated from it only by the time the T-Rex needs to take a step and a half. When it comes crashing home, a man-sized hole in the ceratopsian’s ribcage is the result. The rest of the herd has realized the futility of rushing to help, and now sits angrily in a protective ring, with horns out and lungs bellowing at top volume. In some cases, they might have then charged the predator in shear rage, but not today. The attack is too sudden, and they are too shocked by what has just occurred. Meanwhile, their compatriot bleeds out rapidly and stops moving. The T-Rex then begins to feed, tearing off the head and limbs and stripping the carcass of flesh.

 

 

Advertisements

Idle Hands…..

Right now, you are on the internet, reading a blog. This gives me sufficient reason to believe that you know a bit about the World Wide Web. So I am going to assume that you have probably heard about online trolling, even if that lone word is all you have seen of it.

Unfortunately, internet trolling is not nearly this awesome.

You know, it is interesting, there is a vast body of material that most people throw under the label of “trolling”, but given the general definition I have gleaned from some self-described trolls, most of it does not really apply at all. For example, playing a prank, ribbing someone, and all other varieties of tomfoolery often receive the trolling label, but are not bona fide trolling. In fact, all of these are usually just lighthearted fun and games, and are things most healthy people take part in.

What is it with the strange attraction pet butts have to unsuspecting faces, anyway?

You can even find self-proclaimed trolls who use harsh pranks or deceptive means to enlighten people to new ways of thinking about subjects that normally are too taboo or too hotly debated to deal with in everyday discussion. While I do not really condone this sort of tactic, as head games feel dishonest and I prefer to be direct and up front, this again is not necessarily harmful or mean-spirited. In many cases, even the more brutal trolls seem to consider themselves some sort of vicious, unforgiving Schoolmaster sent to educate the poorly informed and misguided. Naturally, this can easily lead to some swelled ego and other such problems, but the desire to uplift others, in however rough and unkind a manner, is not in itself a bad thing.
What trolling is, in its purest form, is simply the introduction of chaos and suffering into a situation. It does not matter if the situation was already chaotic and full of suffering. A true troll will find his amusement in this chaos and the negative reactions of others. According to the nigh-omniscient Wikipedia, trolls of the most uncouth sort have gone so far as to send families images of the mutilated corpses of their relatives, children even, who recently died in car wrecks. Others have conducted postmortem smear campaigns against those who have committed suicide, in full view of their grieving friends. Granted, not all trolls are that vicious, and many simply stalk the internet looking only for attention of any kind, but the fact that there are people so depraved as to do the above is a sign of the times.

Internet trolling is actually sadder than this lonely fella here.

It is a sign that people are thoroughly bored and unsatisfied with their lives. To the point where they will deliberately inflict cruelty upon their fellow human beings just for the fun of it, or worse, just because. There has to be something deeply lacking in your existence when you look at a sentient being, made in the image and likeness of God Almighty, and say “You seem like you would be fun to make suffer.” Note how that phrase sounds like a poorly written villain from a child’s cartoon? That is because both things are equally feeble minded and weak. What loneliness brings a person to find comfort in the spite and rage of others? What insecurity allows a person to find pleasure and self-worth in their ability to cause emotional harm to others? What desperate need for control and stability propels a man to incite disorder and confusion, so that at least he pulls the strings of that turmoil, even if his strings are being pulled in every other area of his life?

The answer is simple: nothing good.

Over the years I have gradually come to believe that trolling is a major warning sign of how far our culture has fallen. It is the symptom of the rot of the age. Only when Man forgets that he and all his brothers and sisters are the Children of God, can he truly be cruel for the sake of that cruelty. Only when he loses sight of all Purpose and Meaning because those things have been either ripped from him by force, or taken by sleight of hand and replaced with shallow caricatures of Freedom and Love, can he be so truly bored and unsatisfied that his cruelty can become a welcome distraction from his emptiness.

Like most trolls, Discord initially does not seem that dangerous.

An absolutely perfect example of this decay is illustrated by the character Discord from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Now, you may be asking, why would a grown-ass man know anything about a cartoon for six-year-old girls? Because there is this thing called the Brony Phenomenon, and I was curious as to why so many men my age counted themselves as fans of the program. While the show has many excellent and wonderful qualities as a Tame Aslan (if you do not understand my reference, read more C.S. Lewis), and if I had young daughters they would be watching it for certain, it was, in the end, just a show for young girls, and it could not hold my interest. But, for the record, FLUTTERSHY IS BEST PONY. Anyone who says otherwise receives a fierce jackboot to the neck. Props to John C. Wright for that violent phraseology.

One of the more notable episodes I viewed was the Season 2 pilot. Well, I guess it’s not a pilot if the show got off the ground already, but it was not a finale either. Hmmm…enough digressing. On with the thrust of the matter! Discord makes his appearance, turns out to be voiced by the guy who plays Q in Star Trek: the Next Generation (in some ways, they’re practically the same role), and sets to some relatively harmless but chaotic hijinks until he finds that not everyone wants to play along.

True to troll-form, he ups the stakes because people (or in this case, ponies) had finished with his attention-whoring. He, in full knowledge of what he is doing, and laughing every minute of it, deceives, mind-warps, and generally corrupts the main characters. It works on everyone except Fluttershy, because she is supposed to represent kindness, love, innocence, you know, all those tender things. I will get to why in a minute. He has to practically shatter her mind and rebuild it to his specifications in order to have his way. He breaks  her with extreme prejudice.

Why? Because Fluttershy is the solution to Man’s Modern Decay. The only way we are going to heal the wounds caused by our devouring boredom and our inhumanity to ourselves is through authentic love and kindness. When Discord gets all up in her grill, she simply responds with meekness, respect (despite the fact that he’s an oddly shaped dragon-monster-thing hell-bent on throwing the world out of whack), and compassion, even in the face of his mutterings that her gentleness will one day allow her to be hurt deeply by others. This is Christ-like, honest-to-goodness LOVE we are seeing here. And Discord cannot stand it.

See, Discord is a wonderful way to teach kids about Satan. He is proud. He is arrogant. He is cruel.

And he is absolutely lonely.

To paraphrase Lewis, only in Heaven and Hell are you shielded from the vulnerability that comes with Love.

Note well how this also sounds like the average serious troll. Have you ever noticed how trolls, or any truly hurting people, tend to lash out at those who try and help them? They cannot withstand the goodness, for the healing it brings puts them in a place where they feel they have less power. The Devil removed himself from God in Pride and in a desire to control. He feared being beholden to another. Accepting kindness leaves you at the mercy of the one giving it to you. Love is practically synonymous with vulnerability. The Devil, Discord, and trolls hate the weakness that comes with Love, the lack of control, the lack of power it entails.

Therein lies the rub. In order to end the rot of the Modern Age, and in so doing the symptom of trolling, we must end two things, our boredom and our objectification of ourselves. We must remind Man that he is Man again. We must remind him that he is made in the image and likeness of God, the Creator of the Universe. We must get him to think and feel and leap with joy and cry out in despair and all those other beautiful things that Man was made to do by his Creator. We must regain our Humanity. No one can truly see another as human and view them as private pawns for self-amusement.

The beautiful thing is that the boredom will fade after that. Man is capable of choosing to follow his Purpose, is capable of finding Meaning, by the very nature of being Man in the truest sense of the word.  The lifeless Turing machines so many see themselves as these days, however, are not. They might have functions, oh yes, and some of those functions might be pleasurable, but when life is just lived because it is there, because we can, it becomes dull. With no end game, with no real soul, we lapse into the deathly boredom we have now. No matter what we invent, our souls will cry out for still more, and eventually we will all come to the realization that running in a hamster wheel is pointless.

The even-more-beautiful thing about this situation is that we can accomplish both by unselfishly loving. It is truly that simple.

I mean, we’re talking 6-year old girl simple. Ponies and puppies simple.

Now get out there and save the world.

 


How to Crush Your Enemies, See Them Fleeing Before You, and Hear the Lamentations of Their Women

I’m going to do something new, dear readers. I am aware that you are small in number, and because of this, I have a favor to ask. I think what I am about to say is critical to the state our great country  is in. Therefore, I will ask that you share this in every way possible, by Facebook, e-mail, Twitter, and Tumblr. I am asking you to do your best to make this next post viral. So many are unaware of what exactly is being done by certain men and women that their ignorance has become as a powder keg ready to ignite.

Now, to the alarum bell!

The HHS Mandate is a very foul and dangerous thing. Say what you wish about the overall Obamacare Plan; it is not the issue here. Many on either side of the political spectrum will attempt to make it seem as if it were. Some have even accused the U.S. Council of Bishops of despising Universal Healthcare. This is blatantly not so, they have been for the welfare and care of all peoples, however disadvantaged, for quite some time now, if there was ever even a time they were not. In fact, many are like myself, who oppose the Mandate, but not the idea that all men should be cared for and looked after when ill or injured. We oppose this loathsome  Mandate because of one reason: it forces people to act against their religious beliefs in a drastic and harmful way. Namely, it threatens any institution that holds Christian (and Islamic and Jewish and occasionally Buddhist and Hindu) pro-life values and is not exclusively run for and by members of that same religion. It hammers them with large financial penalties  if they do not grievously violate their own religious tenets. Basically, it forces the organization to pay for sterilizations, birth control pills (abortifacient), morning-after pills (distinctly abortifacient) and other such things. It forces the Catholic Church, among others, to pay for the murder of children and the degradation of human beings made in the image and likeness of God.

Naturally, this is intolerable to many in this country. “I’m sorry, you have deeply held religious beliefs about the sanctity of sexuality and human life? Violate them or we run you into the ground with fines.” This applies to every school (pre-school through University level), hospital, and social work organization that is part of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. And, as I have said, many other churches besides. This act is an abomination, and devastates Religious Liberty by financially threatening us unless we violate our beliefs. To look at it from another angle, imagine if the Freedom from Religion Foundation were forced to pay for Religious Counseling as part of its insurance plans. This is madness enough, but our Dear and Doting President Barack Obama has taken advantage of this time and place in History to do something far more vile than what first appears, methinks.

Note well that the following is theory and hypothesis alone, and that I have no secret documents nor overheard conversations to fill out more than the framework of my discovery.

People of Faith are notoriously hard to deal with. Especially those of the Abrahamic variety, it would seem. The more you push us around, the more we fight back, and sometimes we fight in the most dangerous way possible. We Forgive and Love. We cling to the Lord, and even when slain we grow in number, for the Blood of Martyrs is truly the Seed of the Church, both Theologically and Sociologically. In truth, the only way to really beat us is through defamation, and that takes time and a great deal of exaggeration or lying, because it is hard to hate the nun feeding the armless leper soup. One has to focus entirely on the Evil done by members of the Faith, and ignore anything to the contrary. To beat Holy Men, you must make them look like demons.

The Catholic Church is currently a great thorn in the side of men like our President, and women like Nancy Pelosi or Kathleen Sebelius. How strange it is indeed that all three of them are members of Christian and Catholic Churches. Yes, you heard me right. We are under attack from within our own flocks. Yet, if you think about it, this really is not so strange…Peter denied Christ, Judas betrayed Him…we have a long and sinful history of not sticking to our guns or turning them on our brothers and sisters. But I digress. We of the Faith are a stumbling block on the road to their political goals. They are for gay marriage, abortion, and numerous other things that most of us are dramatically against. The number of people against these things comprise a vast portion of the votes that put men like Obama in power, and allow him to do as he sees fit.

So it comes down to this: WE are in the way, and they don’t like it. It would be far easier on them if all they tried to restructure or tear down with legislation was approved at lightning speed because America had suddenly become a mass of heads nodding politely in their direction.

You see, when this mess first broke, naturally the Church was outraged. When many of our members, including Bishops, came out in support of the Healthcare Bill, they did so thinking that our right to follow our conscience would be protected. So we complained. And the President told us to calm down and that we would forge a compromise that did not trample our Freedom. Cardinal Timothy Dolan met with him and was assured that this would be the case. Then, the compromise was unveiled for the press, and we found that we had been betrayed yet again. This compromise, was to protect our rights. Instead, it went as thus: as opposed to paying the cost of the procedures and pills we reject as sinful, we would pay the insurance companies, who would then pay the costs. “It’s okay. You don’t have to pay for murder. You just have to pay for someone else to pay for murder.” Of course, this is both insulting and laughable.
I would wager that the real point of this “compromise” was simply to make us look bad and crush any serious opposition to the Mandate. From that point on, our President got to look like he had tried to make peace, but those darned stodgy Bishops just refused to listen. This, of course, effectively hamstrings us in regards to public opinion. And, after all, that was never truly with us anyway, thanks to folks who spread around the lie that 98% of Catholic Women use contraception (skewed polls aside, it’s kind of common sense that more than 2% of Catholic women probably are too old to even need it), and others who shrieked like stuck pigs that we were attacking women’s health. I cannot tell you the number of sob stories I have seen involving endometriosis or some other disorder treatable by the Pill. Well, to clear the air, the Church is completely okay with you taking care of serious illnesses when the side effect mucks with your fertility. Because if we weren’t we would have to be against a fair number of cancer treatments as well.

Remember how I said there are certain things our leaders want done that the Church stands in the way of? This is where it gets ugly. We have three options now with the HHS Mandate

1) Comply. Act against our own beliefs in a horrendous manner.

2) Refuse to comply and continue to hold open our charities. We are then fined slowly to death or crippled to the point where we can do nothing.

3) Shut down.  Which leaves us at the bleak point of #2.
Now, if we shut down or are forced to close, this is what will happen: all the people we served, all the needy, the children who need schooling, the sick who need healing, all of them are suddenly cut adrift in the economy. What better people to use as fodder for supporting Obamacare? Or any other expansion of Government aid our dear President might want to ram through the legislature? “See, America, I told you we needed my solutions to these problems! Look at all those who need what I propose!” And of course, few will think to ask where all these poor folk suddenly came from. America will simply panic under the further financial stress.

And if that is not devious enough for you, consider this. If Catholic Schools are closed, it will drastically reduce the number of children educated properly in the Faith. In a generation or two, the functional Catholic population will have dropped to near zero. And that stumbling block in the way of so many things that so many of our leaders desperately want to accomplish will have been effectively removed from the voting population. See, while we are not the largest Christian group in America, we are the most structured and organized. We are the most resistant to attack. And with us removed, the others will come crashing down like dominoes.

So there you have it. The HHS Mandate is doom to Religious Freedom. And it, I fear, is intended as a death blow to the enemies of those currently in power. Vote well this November. Remove this devious and underhanded man from office.