It’s that time of year when families decorate their front porches with whole pumpkins and carved jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween. But they may find that squirrels and other outdoor critters are the ones playing tricks.
Here are a few tips from experts on how to safely squirrel-proof the seasonal decor.
What to put on pumpkins to keep squirrels away
There are some deterrents and repellents that may be helpful in keeping the squirrels at bay.
Capsaicin – the chemical in chili peppers that makes them spicy – will be the most effective, according to David Hillock, a consumer horticulturist with Oklahoma State University’s Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture.
This could be in the form of sprinkling ground cayenne pepper on the pumpkin, or as the Bob Vila website suggests, blending crushed red pepper with water and a drop of dish soap to spritz on the gourds as well.
There are also commercial squirrel repellent sprays sold at nurseries and home improvement stores for use on a pumpkin to keep the critters away. That being said, the active ingredients can be made of putrid smells like rotten eggs and predator urine, according to Willian Baird, a professor of horticulture at Michigan State University.
Experts also recommended frequently reapplying if it rains – or if the pumpkins are in sunlight.
Other tips to squirrel-proof your pumpkins
Hillock said things like human or pet hair, soap and other household products are not likely to be effective in keeping squirrels away.
“If the pumpkins are in a small garden and there are only a handful, they could build cages out of a woven wire mesh and secure it over the pumpkins,” Hillock said. “If they are on the porch, carved or not, taking them indoors (or in a garage) during the day or when no one is around can reduce damage.”
Cleanly removing all seeds and strings from the inside of a jack-o’-lantern could make the pumpkin less tempting for scavengers, according to BobVila.com, the home improvement star’s ideas and advice website. It also suggests placing bowls of strong-smelling vinegar near the pumpkins, but not directly on them since the acetic acid can damage the skin of the fruit.
Slathering petroleum jelly over pumpkins could be a squirrel turnoff, and if all else fails, place a statue of an owl, hawk or some type of squirrel predator near the fall display.
If you own a portable generator, make sure your carbon monoxide alarms are working.
We have seen people survive storms just to die from carbon monoxide poisoning from their portable generator. These deaths are tragic and preventable. Please use your generator safely — outdoors. pic.twitter.com/IxA5DveKJ5
A professor found that a vast majority of his university students were unable to tell the U.S. Constitution from the Russian constitution.
Nicholas Giordano, a professor of Political Science at Suffolk Community College in New York and a Campus Reform Higher Education fellow, gives his students a citizenship exam at the beginning of a new semester.
Giordano asks “very basic questions about our founding and our system of governance.” Some questions include who the Speaker of the House is, who is considered the founder of the Constitution, and how many Supreme Court justices there are.
He also administers a Constitutional exercise, providing student with Chapter 1 of the Russian Constitution, only replacing Russian Federation with the United States, and Duma with Congress to see if they recognize that it is not the U.S. Constitution. He asks his students to write a one-paragraph response sharing their thoughts on this constitution.
Giordano notes the importance that the Russian Constitution, crafted in 1993, begins with “We the multinational people…”
Many students respond confessing how they have never read the U.S. Constitution and how they appreciate the foresight of the founding fathers to implement minimum wage and paternity leave.
Students overwhelmingly fail both parts of the exam. This semester only 11 students out of approximately 175 students passed, Giordano said.
Historically, the results have been similar. Giordano has given the exam for the last twelve years, but only 348 students have passed out of the 2,176 who taken it.
He says it’s, “a shameful indictment of our K-12 education system.”
In order to pass 12th Grade Social Studies, Giordano states that students should be able to pass a basic citizenship exam and identify the U.S. Constitution.
Facimile of The Constitution For The United States of America Dated September 17, 1787. (Fotosearch/Getty Images)
After Giordano reveals that it is actually the Russian constitution, he says that his students have expressions of shock, embarrassment, and shame. But, he uses the exercise as a learning opportunity to help his students and the exercise becomes an “invaluable tool to make my classes more successful, and they dramatically improve student engagement.”
The professor notes how the American education system is obsessed with “introducing complex controversial theories to students who have not developed the brain capacity or critical thinking skills to understand complex issues such as gender fluidity and critical race theory.”
While many schools across America claim to still teach civics, many teach “activism/indoctrination masquerading as civics.”
Giordano argues that K-12 educators should be focused on teaching the basic functions of American government, the institutions within the government, and what makes America unique and links us together as a nation.
According to the Nation’s Report Card, which is issued by the U.S. Department of Education, only 24% of 12th and 8th graders are proficient in Civics. Even worse, only 12% of 12th graders and 15% of 8th graders are proficient in American history.
“Enough with the activism” Giodano says. “We need to rethink our approach to education and get back to basics. How can students formulate opinions on what the government should or should not do regarding the issues, when they don’t even know the roles and responsibilities of our institutions, and who is responsible for what in the government?”
Sarah Rumpf is a Fox News Digital Production Assistant. You can reach her on Twitter at @rumpfsarahc
On a warm August morning in 1880, a coffin containing the body of Christian Herr, borne by eight pallbearers, led a procession of 1,500 mourners to the Old Mennonite Church in Millersville, Pennsylvania. The 68-year-old reverend had been well-liked, and the crowd was filled with relatives, friends, and members of the congregation. But the large group almost certainly contained several “funeral runners,” a type of mourner that often popped up at Pennsylvania German memorials in the 1800s. These attendees weren’t there to pay their respects. They were there for the food.
“Because the Pennsylvania Dutch spent so much money and time on their big funeral dinners, there were fake mourners who showed up just to get free food,” says William Woys Weaver, a culinary historian and the author of As American As Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine. “It was so common that you didn’t even raise an eyebrow.”
Of all the parties to crash, a funeral in the traditionally parsimonious Mennonite community doesn’t seem like an obvious choice. But the funerary feast was a rare opportunity for extravagance among Pennsylvania Germans. Instead of the usual cabbage and dumplings, there was beef, ham, or chicken. Instead of the usual coarse rye bread, there was white or wheat. The fixation on funeral food even made its way into slang: In 1907, a grandmother recounted how “thoughtless youngsters” called funerals weissbrot-frolics, or “white bread frolics.”
But the sweet star of the funeral banquet was raisin pie, a dish so tied to the event that it became a euphemism for death itself. When an ailing member of the community took a turn for the worse, it was not uncommon to hear someone solemnly declare, “There will be raisin pie soon.”
Nancy Schmeichel works in the Landis Valley museum’s tavern, with her finished raisin pie. Sam O’Brien for Gastro Obscura
Raisin pie itself isn’t particularly foreboding. But in 19th-century Pennsylvania German homes, it meant one thing: Death was near. Once it arrived, so too would friends and neighbors, coming to “redd up” the bereaved family’s home for the funeral. This meant cooking, cleaning, and baking raisin pie.
The treat was such a common sight at post-memorial meals, it also became known as funeral pie (or, in Pennsylvania German, leicht-boi).
On a recent Friday afternoon, Nancy Schmeichel had just finished baking her own raisin pie in an open hearth at the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, much the same way the site’s founders would have baked a funeral pie centuries earlier. Schmeichel, a historical reenactor who oversees the Lancaster museum’s foodways program, used a recipe that combined a flaky, lard-based crust with a subtly sweet, inky-black filling of raisins, sugar, lemon, egg, and flour.
Once the home and farmstead of the Landises, a Mennonite family with local roots dating back to the early 1700s, the museum is now an educational center devoted to Pennsylvania German heritage. Also known as the “Pennsylvania Dutch” (an anachronism from when all German speakers were known as “Dutch”), the group consists of German Protestant immigrants who began arriving in Southeastern Pennsylvania in the 1680s. The community today largely consists of people belonging to the Lutheran and German Reformed denominations, but is well-known in popular culture for its “Plain” Anabapist branches, including the Amish and Mennonites. Schmeichel baked her raisin pie over hot coals in one of the museum’s hearths. Sam O’Brien for Gastro Obscura
The Landis Valley Mennonite Church Cemetery is a mere five-minute walk from the museum’s kitchen. Among the graves rests Nettie May Landis, a 34-year-old artist who succumbed to tuberculosis in 1914. When her father, Henry, broke down from grief, the community rallied to support the bereft family.
“It’s very similar to what we do today,” says Schmeichel. “You’re going to bring something that goes in the microwave or the freezer, and they brought something that could just be left out on the table.”
In the era before refrigeration, the latter point was essential. Cold meats, stewed or dried fruit, cheese, pies, cakes, and bread were all foods that could survive the journey to the funeral from afar or could simply sit out on a table without spoiling. Raisins were particularly well-suited to the task, as the dried fruit was already preserved and available for funerals year-round.
Like the highly-anticipated white bread, raisins would have been considered a luxury in the 1800s. Prior to deseeding technology, producing raisins meant the painstaking process of removing grape seeds (and usually stems) by hand. Given that the memorial banquet would feature multiple raisin pies and each recipe called for about a pound of the precious dried fruit, Schmeichel says making a funeral pie was “an absolute labor of love.”
Lemon-rice pie (left) was a less-common addition to funeral spreads among Reformed Mennonites. Jessie YuChen for Gastro Obscura
Why such elaborate funerary feasts? Breaking bread after the death of a community member is, of course, an ancient tradition that transcends cultural and geographic boundaries. And Pennsylvania German communities were no different: The meal, as well as the communal effort of preparing it, served to heal and unite after a loss. “It was a way to socialize with the community, to bring everybody together under one roof and feed them, and remind them that we’re all one family and we’re all friends,” Weaver says.
The impressive spread was also tied to the social mores of the era. Providing the meal was part of an unspoken rule of hospitality. Since many guests were making the journey from afar, it was only right to host a mega-sized feast.
Weddings, of course, could also mean guests from afar. But wedding guests lists were typically limited to friends and relatives, whereas funerals could be attended by anyone. Funeral attendance would often number in the hundreds—or, in cases of community leaders like Reverend Herr, the thousands—with lines of buggies that stretched for miles down the road. In her 1872 book Pennsylvania Dutch and Other Essays, Phebe Earle Gibbons observed that “so many partake of the entertainment liberally provided, that I may be excused for calling funerals the great festivals of the Dutch.”
At post-memorial meals, rows of tables inside the family’s wagon-house or barn groaned under the weight of enough food to feed these masses, who often ate in shifts. A grocery list for an 1880 funeral called for eight pounds of beef, one ham, two pounds of cheese, two pounds of coffee, 14 pies, seven cakes, and seven loaves of bread. A 1912 tab went even further, requiring 35 pounds of cheese, 25 pounds of prunes, 15 pounds of dried peaches, 15 pounds of dried apricots, and 11 pounds of honey.
A 19th-century hearse on display at the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum. Sam O’Brien for Gastro Obscura/Collection of Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
“Your funeral dinner would be the best meal you never had,” says Weaver. “There’s a Pennsylvania Dutch joke about the woman who’s cooking a ham, and the husband says, ‘No, you have to save that for my funeral!’”
Generously feeding these large groups wasn’t just being a good host and Christian. It was also a display of status. “If you died in the Pennsylvania Dutch community and you could pull off a dinner like that, that meant you had the cash. You were somebody important,” Weaver says. Even those who didn’t have the means either went into debt or leaned on contributions from neighbors to achieve a respectable spread. “Families were bankrupting themselves on these funerals,” Weaver adds.
By the end of the century, some were calling for the end of lavish funerary feasts. In an 1899 editorial in the Lancaster New Era, a writer railed against the “tired, old custom,” describing the costly and laborious meal as “not only a good deal of nuisance but also as a tax which should be abolished.” They argued that the custom made more sense in an era when “people went many miles to funerals, and when hotels were less numerous than now.” But with increased lodging options and the rise of the railroad, hosts, they wrote, should no longer be obliged to host funeral guests in a grand way.
Despite the critics, funeral feasts continued, albeit with altered menus. By the mid-1900s, mainstays like funeral pie had begun to fade away, replaced by newer, more novel dishes. Yet Weaver says that the ultimate purpose of a funeral dinner—strengthening community, celebrating a life with a special meal—still exists. “But it’s not expressed in specific recipes,” he explains. The dark and subtly sweet pie is rarely made anymore. Jessie YuChen for Gastro Obscura
Some communities, such as the Old Order Mennonites of Lancaster, Weaverland, and Groffdale, have held to traditional spreads of cheese, cold meats, and stewed fruits. But today, most descendants of Pennsylvania Germans have swapped out raisin pies and stewed chicken for more modern options, such as casserole or pizza. Weaver says that some Amish families have embraced the latter as a new special-occasion meal. “You have to realize that they’re not eating pizza every day,” he says. “So the tradition hasn’t changed. It’s just a different treat, that’s all.”
As raisin pie has disappeared from funerary tables, so too has it faded from Pennsylvania’s cultural consciousness. By the 1910s, younger generations no longer associated it with death. This caused at least one memorable incident in Weaver’s family, when his Quaker grandmother thought she’d bake raisin pie to make a good impression with her in-laws in Lancaster.
“She thought she was doing a great thing by bringing this old lady, who was some kind of great-aunt, a raisin pie,” Weaver says. “But she was horrified, like, ‘You think I’m going to die? Do you know something I don’t know?’”
Ominous associations aside, raisin pie is still a sweet and comforting treat that no one should have to wait for a funeral to enjoy. It can be hard to find in bakeries today, even in Pennsylvania Dutch country (you need to special-order it). So make it yourself using the recipe below. Weaver says it’s nice to enjoy a slice without the traditional accompanying sadness.
“It’s great,” he says. “But I don’t want to have to look at a dead body while I’m eating one.”
Store-bought or homemade pie dough, enough for a 9-inch, double-crust pie
4 cups raisins
4 cups water
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Soak the raisins in the water for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C). Pour the raisins and water into a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook for about five minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Add the mixture to the saucepan with the raisins. Cook over medium heat and stir until the mixture has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice, zest, and butter. Set aside to cool.
Line a 9-inch pie pan with one sheet of the prepared pastry, and pour the cooled filling inside.
With a sharp knife, slice the other sheet of pastry into strips, about an inch in width. Carefully lace the strips together into a lattice, and lay atop the pie, pinching the edges of the crust together and discarding any overhang.
Set pie on a cookie sheet, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
An 11-year-old boy on Friday was able to hack into a replica of the Florida state election website and change voting results found there in under 10 minutes during the world’s largest yearly hacking convention, DEFCON 26, organizers of the event said.
Thousands of adult hackers attend the convention annually, while this year a group of children attempted to hack 13 imitation websites linked to voting in presidential battleground states.
The boy, who was identified by DEFCON officials as Emmett Brewer, accessed a replica of the Florida secretary of state’s website. He was one of about 50 children between the ages of 8 and 16 who were taking part in the so-called “DEFCON Voting Machine Hacking Village,” a portion of which allowed kids the chance to manipulate party names, candidate names and vote count totals.
Nico Sell, the co-founder of the the non-profit r00tz Asylum, which teaches children how to become hackers and helped organize the event, said an 11-year-old girl also managed to make changes to the same Florida replica website in about 15 minutes, tripling the number of votes found there.
Sell said more than 30 children hacked a variety of other similar state replica websites in under a half hour.
“These are very accurate replicas of all of the sites,” Sell told the PBS NewsHour on Sunday. “These things should not be easy enough for an 8-year-old kid to hack within 30 minutes, it’s negligent for us as a society.”
Sell said the idea for the event began last year, after adult hackers were able to access similar voting sites in less than five minutes.
“So this year we decided to bring the voting village to the kids as well,” she said.
About 50 children participated in the DEFCON hacking event for children on Friday and Saturday. More than 30 of them were able to hack into replicas of secretaries of states, where vote tallies are posted. Photo courtesy of r00tz Asylum
In a statement regarding the event, the National Association of Secretaries of State said it is “ready to work with civic-minded members of the DEFCON community wanting to become part of a proactive team effort to secure our elections.” But the organization expressed skepticism over the hackers’ abilities to access the actual state websites.
“It would be extremely difficult to replicate these systems since many states utilize unique networks and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols,” it read. “While it is undeniable websites are vulnerable to hackers, election night reporting websites are only used to publish preliminary, unofficial results for the public and the media. The sites are not connected to vote counting equipment and could never change actual election results.”’
But Sell said the exercise the children took part in demonstrates the level of security vulnerabilities found in the U.S. election system.
“To me that statement says that the secretaries of states are not taking this seriously. Although it’s not the real voting results it’s the results that get released to the public. And that could cause complete chaos,” she said. “The site may be a replica but the vulnerabilities that these kids were exploiting were not replicas, they’re the real thing.”
“I think the general public does not understand how large a threat this is, and how serious a situation that we’re in right now with our democracy,” she said.
Matt Blaze, a professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania who helped organize the “hacking village,” said that thousands of adults including voting security experts also tried to access voting machines and other voting software currently being used in U.S. elections today to become “more knowledgeable about voter technology.”
He also noted that the children who participated in their own challenge last week were dealing with replicas that were in many cases created to be even more formidable to access than the actual websites used by secretaries of states across the nation.
“It’s not surprising that these precocious, bright kids would be able to do it because the websites that are on the internet are vulnerable, we know they are vulnerable,” he said. “What was interesting is just how utterly quickly they were able to do it.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin will reportedly undergo a medical operation for cancer, forcing him to temporarily hand over power to a former Federal Security Service (FSB) intelligence chief.
The FSB is considered the modern-day KGB, which was the primary foreign intelligence and domestic security agency of the former Soviet Union.
Nikolai Patrushev, the current Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, will receive temporary control from Putin during his upcoming operation, according to a video posted Saturday on the General SVR Telegram channel, a Russian outlet that claimed to interview a former Kremlin military leader. The New York Post described the source as “mysterious.”
“Putin is unlikely to agree to hand over power for a longer period of time,” the video stated.
“I will say that this is the worst option. Patrushev is an outright villain. He is no better than Vladimir Putin. Moreover, he is a more cunning, and I would say, more insidious person than Vladimir Putin. If he comes to power, Russians’ problems will only multiply,” it added.
Putin’s health condition has been the focus of much speculation recently as videos have shown shaking movements some have suggested could be a sign of Parkinson’s Disease.
While details are sparse, the video hosted on the Telegram account suggested abdominal cancer.
At a church service in Moscow last month, Putin appeared to be unsteady and fidgety, at times biting his lips and making awkward faces.
“Fresh theories surrounding Vladimir Putin’s health are circulating after a recent appearance by the Russian president showed him biting his lips, fidgeting and appearing unsteady,” Sky News reported. “Mr Putin’s appearance at a church service has now sparked rumours that he is unwell after he seemed unable to stand still during the service.”
Putin’s appearance followed another recent episode when the 69-year-old appeared bloated as he firmly gripped a table during a Kremlin meeting with his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, The Daily Wire reported. Both men appeared to be in poor health, with Shoigu slurring his words following a stroke he suffered earlier this year.
Putin is also reportedly delaying surgery until after May 9.
“He has reportedly delayed surgery, which will now not take place before the Victory Day commemoration of Russia’s World War Two victory in Red Square on May 9,” the Daily Mail reported.
“The news comes amid speculation Putin will launch an all-out war across Ukraine and order mass mobilisation of military-age men, a considerable political risk,” the report added.
Explosions in an area of Moldova last week have led to new concerns that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could extend to the nearby former Soviet republic.
“On Monday, explosions rocked the headquarters of Transnistria’s state security ministry in Tiraspol. These were followed by more blasts on Tuesday at a broadcasting facility when two radio masts near the border with Ukraine were knocked out of service, NBC News reported on Friday.
“The region’s authorities also reported an attack on a military unit, but did not say when it took place. On Wednesday, they said shots were fired toward a village that houses a large ammunition depot,” the report added.
After any big night out on the town, it is imperative to grab some grub on the way home. But which are the most frequented establishments to go to late at night in order to quench this craving?
This all depends on where we find ourselves. As great as some late-night hashbrowns and fries could be, few things are better than a nice greasy spoon breakfast, like the one we would find down in the South.
2. Shakin’ All Over
From icy Alaska down to sunny California, one reason for not living on the West Coast of the States could be the very healthy fear of being caught in an earthquake. In reality, no matter where in America you live you run the risk of getting caught in an earthquake.
That being said, there is a dramatic difference between a massive 9.2 magnitude quake and a smaller 4.7 one. Frequency also plays a role, so keep that in mind when picking where to live!
3. With or Without Pulp?
A nice glass of freshly-squeezed OJ is always nice with breakfast. It might be surprising to learn which is the only state increasing its annual orange production.
Even the orange production is bigger in Texas. Out of the three main states that produce oranges each year only Texas has shown an increase in production.
4. Life’s Tough
Depression is a real problem amongst people of all ages and from all walks of life. Let’s have a look at which parts of America are affected the most.
It may be the lack of a winning sports team or maybe it’s the weather, but for some reason, the North-West and the Mid-West seem to have the largest issues with depression.
5. Barking Up The Wrong Tree
It’s not just the diversity of its people that makes America so unique. Whether it’s for building a tree fort or for getting maple syrup there is a tree for everyone.
With over a hundred different species of trees in some parts, the eastern coast of the States sports the most diverse tree population. However, with more than one thousand species of trees scattered across the country there is something for tree enthusiasts everywhere.
6. If A Tree Falls And No One Is Around To Hear It…
To answer the age-old question…yes it still makes a noise. All because no one is around to hear the tree fall that doesn’t mean no one is listening. If Orwell taught us anything, someone is always listening.
Natural loudness is measured in decibels by the noises of the wild. This could be the sound of the wind, the water, the birds, and yes, even the sound of a tree falling in the forest with no one around.
7. Big City Folk
We have just seen that mother nature on the east coast has caused more natural noise pollution than elsewhere in the country. It is now time to see where the majority of all noise pollution in America comes from (not just the natural kind).
It does not come as any surprise that the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas produce a lot of noise, however, they don’t call New York ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ for nothing.
8. Higher Education
Graduating from college is meant to be a celebratory occasion for a new graduate. After all, even though ‘the future is now’ it often starts with crippling debt.
Upon graduating, most graduates owe more in college debts than the average American earns in one year.
9. Moving To The Midwest Then Huh?
It is crazy to think that the average annual salary needed to buy a house in New York City is almost double that of being a homeowner in sunny Tampa Bay. But that’s nothing compared to the prices out west.
For all those who are eventually looking at retiring out west think again. An average annual salary of over $100K is needed in almost every major western city. And don’t even think about the move to San Jose unless the family is bringing in at least a quarter of million dollars annually.
10. Two Creams And One Sugar Please
Over the past few decades, coffee culture is something that has taken the world by storm. For any Canucks heading down the east coast on a road trip, feel free to dunk those donuts but don’t expect to find too many Tim Horton’s around.
Starbucks has not only put itself at almost every major street corner and petrol station across the United States, it has also created its own coffee language. According to the map the majority of Americans do prefer their tall, non-fat, extra hot, no foam, one pump vanilla lattes.
11. Left Out In The Cold
It is a privilege to be able to go home at the end of a long hard day but not everyone is so lucky. This is one of those maps that helps to remind us just how fortunate we all are.
Over 150,000 homeless people live in California and almost 100,000 in New York alone. That is almost a quarter of a million homeless individuals in just two states.
Presidents are constantly attempting to leave their marks and cement their legacies. Some of them are just better at the ‘Art of the Deal’ than others.
Andrew Johnson purchased Alaska for only 7.2 million dollars in the year the first Canada Day was celebrated in 1867, and the Louisiana Purchase cost Thomas Jefferson a whopping 15 million dollars in 1803.
13. That Sure Is Quite The Load
The great American railroad system has been moving supplies across the country for almost two hundred years, but these days it does not deliver the goods quite like it used to.
Out east, the waterways and highways take the majority of the loads down the coast. Out west one can always see a large number of cargo trucks hauling supplies along the national highway. It simply reaches more places these days than the railway does.
14. Mind The Bears
The American landscape is vast and beautiful. No matter where one goes in the country there are spectacular sites to be seen.
Planning an Appalachian trail walk or cross country skiing through the Rockies? Fear not, this map has it all. Just steer clear of Yetis and keep away from those picnic baskets.
15. ‘Isn’t The Speed Limit 55?’
Driving along an empty highway road with music blaring and the wind blowing through our hair can be quite a freeing experience, as long as it is done within the confines of the laws of course.
Most states do have a similar maximum speed limit but it is always better to check first before going on a road trip. Being pulled over by a state trooper is a great way to ruin a vacation.
16. Route 66 Anyone?
Now that we know where the national parks are and how fast we can go, let us have a look how to get to them.
Connecting Americans with each other far and wide, the National Highway Services helps to unite all parts of America, with over 164,000 miles of roads that stretch all across the country.
17. Soy Latte Please
Over the past few decades, we have seen an increase in alternative eating habits and soybeans have been the base of a lot of these products.
Thanks to the American prairies’ production of soybeans for her soy latte, ‘Starbucks Karen’ will have one less thing to complain about.
18. Healthy Eating
Continuing along the lines of healthy eating, a lot of people seem to have grown tired of eating foods covered in pesticides and other chemicals for some reason.
Organic foods could cost an arm and a leg but it sure is nice to know that there’s nothing toxic being sprayed onto our food.
19. Everyone’s Guilty Of Something
We all have that one vice that is just so hard to ignore sometimes. Let’s take a look at which states are the most angelic as well as the most sinful.
If the movie ‘Seven’ taught us anything, it’s that giving in to temptation could get us into a lot of trouble. The bottom corners of the country sure do look like a lot of fun though.
20. Did You Want Fries With That?
We have already seen that McDonald’s is the most popular place for people to go for some late-night drunk food, but we all have our own favorite burger place to go to if given the opportunity.
Here we see that McDonald’s may be everywhere but it is not the only option. Burger King and the Queen of Dairy remain towards the top of the charts and Texans have made Sonic burger their choice.
21. And He’s In For The Touchdown
It is absolutely no surprise that the highest-paid public employees in America are connected to sports. The success of a college or high school sports team is paramount to a town’s happiness and it shows in how much they are willing to pay their coaches.
A high school football coach makes an average of around $45K a year which is not too bad at all, but it’s no wonder the end game is to coach college. The average salary for a college football coach is 2.7 million dollars a year. Talk about scoring.
22. A Different View Point
The map that is used in Alaskan schools has Alaska in the center and North America to the East. This is just a fun one for a bit of a different perspective.
With how secluded it is from the rest of the country it’s no wonder Alaska sees the rest of America as ‘that place down there’.
23. Poached Or Fried?
As long as people are eating breakfast there will be a demand for eggs. More than fifty billion eggs are laid in America each year and Iowa unexpectedly leads the way in production.
Fun uneggspected fact: brown eggs come from hens with red feathers and red ear lobes while white eggs come from hens with white feathers and white ear lobes.
24. Tis The Season
It is Christmas tradition for many families to pack themselves into the family car and head out looking for the perfect tree. Even the desert states have at least a couple of Christmas tree farms
Considering the enormous fines one would get for cutting a tree down off the side of the highway for Christmas, it’s probably for the best to know where the local farm is for the holidays.
25. ‘I’ll Get A Litre O’ Cola’
Some people call them chips and others call them crisps. Some call them cookies while others call them biscuits. But what happens when the chips and biscuits make us thirsty. What do we ask for?
Depending on where we find ourselves on this cross country road trip of ours, the answer may vary. Just don’t walk into a place on either coast and ask for some pop or the locals will be able to spot the tourists.
26. Need A Roommate?
New York and California maybe two of the more desirable places to live in America but that may change once learning the cost of any apartment bigger than a shoebox.
Better start looking for a roommate. With an hourly wage of under $25 an hour don’t even bother looking for a place with more than one room.
27. A Job’s Job
When immigrating to a new country an individual knows that they may need to work a job that they are not too fond of. It is a sacrifice that is made with the ‘American Dream’ in mind.
It is no big surprise to see here that most immigrants start off in a more subservient occupation, as these are the less desired jobs. A job is a job though.
28. Locked And Loaded
It is amazing to see the percentage of Americans who have decided to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
For all those who are against guns, maybe just steer clear of the entire center of the country.
29. ‘Wanna Play A Game?’
Here’s a fun one for the horror buffs out there. From the Texas Chainsaw Masacre’ to ’30 Days of Night’, horror films have taken place in every state right across the country.
It’s time to use that map of the interstate highways to get us the heck away from the midwest. And no summer camps either!
30. Cold War Era
Because of the fears that they would defect, it was very difficult in the times of the Soviet Union for Russians to gain permission to leave their own country. Even when they were able to leave there were limits on where they would be allowed to go once in the other countries.
From the late 50s until the end of the cold war the places in red on this map were actually the places where Soviets were not allowed to go. Kind of takes the fun out of an American vacation doesn’t it.
31. Don’t Forget The Stuffing
About a month before Christmas every year Americans all over the country tell their loved ones about all the things they are thankful for. Without these next farms a lot of people would be a lot less thankful every November.
Turkey farmers right across the middle eastern part of the United States work hard every year to ensure that every little pilgrim out there has the thanksgiving they deserve.
32. Locked Up
Almost every state in the country has at least one federal prison. Whatever happened to those maximum security prisons in the middle of the mountains that we see in the movies?
After seeing how many federal prisons there are in America just imagine if the funding for even a third of those prisons would go into rehabilitation instead of imprisonment.
Sometimes where we come from defines who we are, alternatively, it sometimes defines who we don’t want to be. One either has pride for their own state or they do not.
That pride runs in their veins otherwise they usually have an escape plan. Maybe it’s because of all the noise pollution out East that’s causing the lack of state pride and desire to pack up.
As we know, hundreds of years ago the United States of America was built by the hard work of immigrants from all over the world who were trying to find a better life for themselves and their families.
In the hundred years between 1820 and 1930 more than 6 million germans and 4.5 million Irish made the long journey by boat from Europe to the New World. That makes up almost 10% of the entire population of America in 1930.
35. Where’s That Name From?
Now that we know where the majority of Americans’ ancestry lies let’s have a look at where the individual states’ names originated.
It is no big shock to see that the majority of the States’ names are derived from Native words. What is a little amazing to learn however, is that the number of states with names of English origin is less than a dozen.
36. 3D Map of Population Density
This map is another of those which gives a bit of a different perspective on the country.
Much like the numerous tall buildings that reside there, New York’s population density also towers over that of the other states.
37. Time To Head To The Coast
We are very lucky to be living in such a scientific age. As science and medicine progress, life expectancy has been on the rise.
With all the nice weather and oranges around for vitamins, it is no wonder why California and Florida are sporting two of the higher life expectancies in America.
38. Land Distribution
We’ve now seen where in the States the soybeans are grown and even where the majority of eggs and turkeys come from, but ever wonder how much of America is protected federal wilderness or used to make maple syrup? Well, it’s definitely not as much there should be.
Believe it or not, there is more land dedicated to cow farming and their pastures than any other industry in the United States.
39. Final Resting Places
Some presidents have been put to rest in the Arlington National Cemetary while others have been laid to rest in their own hometowns. Let’s take a brief look at the distribution of the burial plots for the Commander in Chiefs who are no longer with us.
Scattered across eighteen different states in addition to the District of Columbia, the deceased former presidents of the United States may be gone but they are surely not forgotten.
40. Family Matters
We have now seen where all the highways and national parks are across the country and we know how fast we are allowed to drive in each state. We even know where most people go for food after a big night out. Now let’s have a look at whose family road trip will have the most cramped car.
As we can see by this map even the family sizes are bigger in Texas. Families right across the southern part of America will have to jam pack themselves into the family car with not much leg room to spare.
I am very knowledgeable on the S.W.I.F.T. financial system. I worked in the international department of a major U.S. bank for nearly 15 years, using the SWIFT system daily……..pretty much all day long.
Expelling Russian banks from the SWIFT system could/would have a huge impact on Russia’s ability to conduct business, government and private. However, expelling some banks………does not cut it. All Russian banks with SWIFT access need to be expelled. Russia can dance around the banks expelled……use ones that have not been. Too, Russia could use other foreign banks in China who are sympathetic to them; while some banks in Russia still have SWIFT access. Those Russian banks still with access can merely send messages/transactions to China and ask them to forward to their desired bank (foreign banks) destinations. Yes it complicates Russia’s ability to communicate with foreign banks, but to be really effective ………ALL THE RUSSIAN BANKS SHOULD…
That’s right, the woke crowd is yet again thinking they are making a difference and stopping Vlad the Impaler Putin himself by boycotting Russian vodka. You can’t make up this level off stupid, it only happens in America.
That’s right, 1.2% of vodka on American shelves comes from Russia, so the woke brigade of liberals and conservatives have taken to social media to let you know they won’t allow it on their shelves or in their bars any longer. That should totally stop the Russians in their tracks, just like those pesky sanctions did.
Not to be outdone, Canada who’s still arresting their own citizens for protesting has joined the United States on the Russian vodka ban. We have no clue how much vodka Canada gets from Russia, and for the sake of this article we didn’t research it because we’ve already cared too much about this nonsensical woke story.
In Ontario, Canada, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy directed the provincial Liquor Control Board to have stores remove Russian vodka and other alcoholic products, according to the Canadian Press.
“Ontario joins Canada’s allies in condemning the Russian government’s act of aggression against the Ukrainian people and we strongly support the federal government’s efforts to sanction the Russian government,” Bethlenfalvy said. “We will continue to be there for the Ukrainian people during this extremely difficult time.”
The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation removed Russian products from its shelves and website because of the “terrible events taking place.”
In the U.S., the Jacob Liquor Exchange in Wichita, Kansas, decided to remove its more than 100 bottles of Russian vodka from the shelves and poured some of it on the ground.
“I think the whole world knows by now that Russia’s at war with Ukraine for no apparent reason,” Jamie Stratton, wine director and partner of the store, told KSNW-TV in Wichita. “I guess this is our sanction … and this may be small, but every small thing makes a difference.”
That’ll stop the Rooskies… Pouring out Vodka you’ve already paid for in a nation that already has empty shelves in most places because of supply chain and Covid mandates. Good Call!
In Oregon, the owner of a bar in Bend filmed himself pouring out all of his Russian vodka, according to FOX 12 of Portland.
“Russia is acting as though it’s 1939 and going into Europe with a full force that they have in the Ukraine,” Bill McCormick, owner of Pine Tavern, told the station. “I am so concerned about it metastasizing into other countries.”
With a foreword by the world-renowned chimpanzee conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall (DBE), Gods in Shackles: What Elephants Can Teach Us About Empathy, Resilience, and Freedom is a moving memoir that follows a biologist, journalist, and award-winning wildlife filmmaker Sangita Iyer, who finds her purpose in advocacy for the Asian Elephants in her childhood hometown of Kerala, India. Gods in Shackles book touches on themes ranging from conservation and climate change to religion, philosophy and emotional well-being and how Elephants relate to each of these. The book is slated for release on February 8, 2022, and will be available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and everywhere books are sold.
Elephants are self-aware, conscious beings. They can feel and grieve the loss of both Elephants and humans. Elephants are supremely intelligent, with a…
One of my followers asked about walls being installed around the White House, I knew they were temporary walls and discovered they are refurbishing the fountains, they worked on one this pass summer and now they’re working on the other one this winter. They have been doing extensive work on the streets surrounding the White House, they’re digging up the street and laying pipes, etc.
But… I’ve been wondering why Biden has been using a fake White House setting for his press briefings, so I did some digging to find out what else is going on. I found this interesting video…
This is not a wooden structure, the White House was totally gutted in 1953 during the Truman administration and a huge framework of large and strong skyscraper-type I-beams were erected on the inside from two basement levels below all the way to the top. This was extensively documented with black and white photography and an excellent book: “The Hidden White House” by Robert Klara.
This will take quite a bit of work to demolish. One iconic photograph is an inside shot of the gutted interior (no floors remaining, just a huge 85ft by 165 ft space) with a huge bulldozer on the ground floor. Yes, it’s true the exterior walls are the same as when it was first built, but they are only a facade. If it’s true that we are seeing explosions inside the White house, then they must be placed to cut through the steel beams just like any building demolition.
TANUGGYI, Myanmar — A hot air balloon packed with pyrotechnics exploded over a crowd during a popular festival in Myanmar, sending revelers running for cover.
The frightening scene unfolded Nov. 14 during the Tazaungdaing Festival of Lights, an annual celebration that marks the end of the wet season in Myanmar. According to local media reports, festival organizers invite participants to launch unmanned balloons full of fireworks to usher in a new season.
One of those balloons burst into flames during Wednesday’s festival. Video shot by a spectator showed the balloon slowly ascending while fireworks shoot from its sides. In an instant, the balloon exploded, sending fireworks shooting toward the ground as the balloon came crashing down toward the crowd.
At least nine people were injured in the incident, festival organizers told the BBC. Though this particular explosion was not a fatal accident, similar incidents in years past have reportedly resulted in multiple fatalities.
A girl reported missing in Asheville, North Carolina, is now safe at home after a motorist saw her flashing a hand gesture from a car that signals she’s at risk of abuse and needed help. The minor and her abductor were traveling through Kentucky when the girl recalled a hand signal for abuse that she saw on TikTok.
The distressed 16-year-old appeared to be waving through the window to passing cars, but one person in a nearby vehicle recognized the signal and knew it wasn’t just an ordinary wave.
The girl was tucking her thumb into her palm before closing her fingers over it, said the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office.Canadian Women’s Foundation
The hand gesture, called the “Signal for Help,” was created by the Canadian Women’s Foundation at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic for people to silently show that they need help. It became viral on TikTok in the past year.
The person who saw the signal called 911 and expressed suspicion that the girl was using the gesture to communicate she was in trouble. The motorist then drove behind the vehicle the teen was in for seven miles while on the phone with authorities.
Although the dispatcher and the officers were unaware of the signal, sheriff’s deputies responded to the call and pulled over the car to investigate.YouTube
The concerned driver was right—the girl was in danger and had been reported missing two days earlier by her parents.
Authorities arrested the 61-year-old suspect from Cherokee, North Carolina, and charged him with unlawful imprisonment. The police also discovered pornographic images of a child on his phone, so he was charged with possession of material showing a sexual performance by a minor.
The girl and the man are “acquaintances” but are not related, according to Gilbert Acciardo, public affairs officer for the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office. She initially went with him voluntarily but eventually got scared.
The teen informed investigators that she had traveled with the suspect through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, where he had relatives. They left after the family discovered she was a minor and had been reported missing by her parents. She said she had been trying to get the attention of other motorists as they traveled from Ohio until one driver actually noticed.
It was not clear how many people saw the girl’s hand signal. When deputies pulled the car over, she showed them the gesture. They didn’t realize what it meant then, but now they do.
Investigators believe the perpetrator thought she was simply waving at other cars, so he paid her no mind. Officer Acciardo commended the girl for using the signal.
“This is probably the best thing I’ve seen come along in the 48 years I’ve been a patrol officer,” he said.
Videos featuring the signal had gone viral on TikTok and YouTube, while groups including the Women’s Funding Network and the World Bank have promoted it since April 2020.
It started as the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s response to the COVID-19 crisis when social isolation made it harder for those at risk of violence or abuse to reach out for help.Pexels
The hand gesture was intended to be used on video calls as a subtle way of asking someone to check in on them.
Anyone who sees the signal shouldn’t necessarily immediately report it to the authorities but should reach out safely, if possible, to the individual who used it.
While the signal is becoming more widely known, there’s still a lot of public education to be done.
“We’re very aware that as many as these situations that you might hear about in the news, there’s going to be thousands more that will never make the news that will be shrouded in silence because they happen behind closed doors,” Andrea Gunraj, the Canadian Women’s Foundation’s vice president of public engagement, said in an interview.
Here’s an example of how an individual can use the signal during a video call.
Please share this story to make the “Signal for Help” more known.
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If humans were to disappear from the face of the Earth, what would dogs become? And would they be better off without us?
If you share your home with a dog, you may have found yourself rolling your eyes or clicking your tongue at your furry friend in response to some outrageously un-wild behaviour. Your dog might daintily tiptoe around puddles, run away from squirrels, or refuse to go outside in the snow without a coat and booties. ‘You’d never survive without me,’ you might have gently chided her.
But what if you were to phrase this as a serious question for your dog: ‘Do you really think you would be able to survive on your own without my help?’ If your dog says: ‘Sure, why wouldn’t I?’ you might press her for some details: how would you stay warm? What would you do when it rains? What would you eat? And most importantly, wouldn’t you be lonely without me?
Your dog might tell you that she would simply go next door and live with your neighbour, who would likely provide the basics of food and shelter and even, probably, love. Annoyed by the apparent lack of loyalty, you might press your dog further and ask what she would do if there were no next-door neighbour. If, in fact, there were no humans whatsoever. Then how would she manage?
In our new book, A Dog’s World (2021), Marc Bekoff and I invite readers into an imaginary world in which humans have suddenly disappeared and dogs must survive on their own. We consider two key questions. First, could dogs survive without their human counterparts – are they still capable of living on their own, as wild animals, without help from and relationships with humans? Second, and perhaps even more intriguing, what are some of the possible evolutionary trajectories of posthuman dogs, as ‘artificial’ selection is replaced by natural selection? Would dogs look or behave anything like the animals we now call our best friends? This is a serious thought-experiment in speculative biology and one that can ultimately help us better understand who dogs really are. Thinking about dogs without us can help us understand who dogs are with us, and what they need from us, right now, to flourish and be happy.
If humans disappeared tomorrow, about 1 billion dogs would be left on their own. The first clue to whether dogs would survive is here, in the basic demographics of current dog populations. These billion dogs occupy all corners of the globe, exploit diverse ecological niches, and live in a wide range of relationships with humans. Although many people, when asked to picture a dog, will think of a furry companion curled up on the couch by a human’s side or walking on the end of a leash, research suggests that roughly 20 per cent of the world’s dogs live as pets, or what we call ‘intensively homed dogs’. The other 80 per cent of the world’s dogs are free-ranging, an umbrella term that includes village, street, unconfined, community, and feral dogs. In other words, most dogs on the planet are already living on their own, without direct human support within a homed environment.
Although the world’s 800 million free-ranging dogs have far more independence of movement and behaviour than the 200 million intensively homed dogs, and have developed a range of survival skills, almost all dogs on the planet rely on human presence for one key resource: food subsidies, either in the form of direct feeding and handouts or in the form of garbage and waste. The loss of human food resources would present the most significant survival challenge to dogs during the immediate aftermath of human disappearance and in the transition years into a fully posthuman future.
After some rough years, dogs would adapt to life on their own
If humans disappeared – along with their garbage, waste and stores full of bagged dog kibble – dogs would quickly have to find other sources of food. Because dogs are behaviourally flexible – and because they are dietary generalists – they could likely survive on a wide range of edibles, from plants, berries and insects to small mammals and birds, and perhaps even some larger prey. Their meal plans would depend on where they live, their size and their body shape.
The first few years after human disappearance would be challenging because of the abrupt loss of human support, and there would likely be significant canine die-offs. Dogs who had been living as pets might have a particularly hard time surviving because they lack the experience of being on their own, and might not have developed the skills they need for finding food and dealing with varied and unexpected encounters with dogs and other animals. After some rough years, dogs would adapt to life on their own. Dogs retain many of the traits and behaviours of their wild relatives such as wolves, coyotes and jackals; they have not ‘forgotten’ how to forage, hunt, find mates, raise young, get along in groups, and defend themselves. These skills would be put back to work.
The answer to our first question – would dogs survive the abrupt loss of human beings – is almost certainly yes, assuming dogs are left with a planet that hasn’t become completely uninhabitable because of the climate crisis. A more intriguing question is who dogs might become, once decoupled from humans.
The origin of modern dogs is still hotly contested among biologists, palaeontologists and anthropologists. But the general contours are in place. Dogs and humans have lived in close association for at least 15,000 years, and perhaps as many as 40,000 years or longer. The only canid species to have undergone domestication, dogs were also the first animals to be domesticated, and were likely the only animal to have been domesticated by hunter-gatherers, with other animals being domesticated after the development of agriculture. Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are descended from wolves (Canis lupus). And although dogs are genetically extremely close to wolves, sharing all but 0.2 per cent of mitochondrial DNA, they are most certainly quite different in both appearance and behaviour. One species can happily share your living room couch; the other will likely refuse such an invitation and be distinctly uncomfortable in your presence, and you in theirs.
This domestication process has strongly shaped the evolutionary trajectory of dogs up to this point. (It has also shaped the evolutionary trajectory of humans.) The phenotypic profile of dogs – their morphology, physiology, behaviour – has been deliberately shaped by humans through purposeful breeding. Alongside deliberate selection by humans for particular traits such as friendliness and attraction to novelty, there has also been indirect selection of other unintended traits, or what geneticists call ‘hitchhikers’. Direct selection for hypersociality, for example, introduced other traits, such as changes in pigmentation (spotted fur or white patches), floppy ears and curly tails, none of which are seen in the wild relatives of dogs. In other words, the idea that humans have created dogs is an illusion. We have splashed around in the dog gene pool, but the broader ripples from our splashes extend well beyond our conscious control or even our understanding. Indeed, the ethologist Per Jensen and his colleagues describe dog domestication as ‘the largest (albeit unconscious) biological and genetic experiment in history’.
In a posthuman future, this dramatic experiment would continue, but the parameters would change. Dogs would begin to drift in the currents of natural selection, and where these currents would take them is one of the great unknowns.
Still, we can make some educated guesses. As dogs become whoever they are going to become, they won’t go back to being wolves. The disappearance of humans would not result in a kind of reverse-engineering, where the domestication process rewinds and dogs de-evolve back to where they were before the first wolves tentatively reached out to human beings and vice versa. When dogs lose contact with humans, they will first go through a process of feralisation as they adapt to life on their own. Feralisation refers to changes in individual dogs, rather than to changes at the population or species level. Domestication, on the other hand, refers to changes that affect all individuals in a population. Individual dogs do not ‘de-domesticate’ when they are out of touch with humans – they feralise. Once all dogs have been free of human-directed selection for long enough that natural selection is acting on all the individuals in the group, they will become secondarily wild. (‘Secondarily’ here indicates that the population was once domesticated.) How many generations of human-free reproduction are necessary for the re-wilding of dogs to occur? Since we won’t be around, we’ll never know the answer to this facet of the biological experiment.
Dogs will need to find mates, engage in courtship, and bear and raise their young.
What we can confidently predict is that posthuman dogs are going to become something entirely, or at least largely, new. The ecological niches that posthuman dogs inhabit will be vastly different from the niches that their progenitors filled. The most consequential difference is that they will no longer have human food resources. Within that vacuum, many factors could influence posthuman dogs’ feeding strategies, including anatomical and physical constraints on what or who dogs can eat, the type of prey available in each location, the distribution of food resources within dogs’ home ranges or territories, seasonal variation in food resources, and competition with other animals. For example, small dogs would be able to hunt and feed on insects or berries, while such a diet wouldn’t provide adequate caloric intake for a large dog. Different feeding strategies might evolve over time depending on ecological niche, local food availability, and competition with other animals. Dogs’ diets would, in turn, influence how they evolve over time. Eventually, different populations of dogs might even become distinct species, using different feeding strategies to fill a range of ecological niches.
Reproductive strategies will also need to evolve quickly. Dogs will need to find mates, engage in courtship, and bear and raise their young. The mating and reproductive strategies of posthuman dogs would likely not need to shift as dramatically as their feeding ecology. Nevertheless, there could be some interesting changes as natural selection favours strategies leading to greater breeding success in the absence of humans. These might include more prolonged and ritualised flirting, a reversion to one heat cycle per year rather than two, and greater involvement of mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles and other alloparents in the rearing and protection of youngsters.
Many different forms of social organisation could emerge and work in a world without humans, including the formation of bonded pairs, small groups and larger packs. Alternatively, some dogs may live mainly solitary lives, coming together with other dogs only when necessary. Whatever kind of social life they have, dogs will need to sharpen their social skills, including communicating intentions and resolving conflicts, and will need to learn from one another. Skills developed during puppies’ early socialisation period and adolescence will be particularly important. The inner lives of posthuman dogs will also change as they evolve the cognitive skills and emotional intelligence required to interact with other animals and make them successful members of wild communities.
What might a posthuman dog look like? It’s hard to say, because morphological features will evolve in response to ecological pressures, feeding ecologies, and distinct features of the ecological niche that a given population of dogs might fill. Dogs are already the most morphologically diverse mammalian species on the planet. Think of the huge size difference between, for example, the teacup Maltipoo and the Irish wolfhound. One possibility is that dogs will eventually all become of medium size – say 35 lbs (15 kg), give or take. An equally viable possibility is that dogs of the future will speciate over time into smaller and larger types. The shape and size of physical characteristics such as ears, tails and noses will similarly evolve in response to unique demands of ecological niche, feeding ecology, mating strategies and social structure. To take just one example, the shape and size of ears will represent a set of tradeoffs reflective of the competing demands of climate, geography and feeding ecology, among other things. Bigger ears may pick up sounds better than smaller ears, and would aid dogs in locating prey, but they might also be problematic in very cold temperatures because there is more surface area for heat loss. In cold climates, smaller ears and slightly less acute hearing might be worth the tradeoff for protection against the cold.
Natural selection will quickly weed out physical traits that are maladaptive, such as extremely foreshortened snouts, excessive skin folds, and extremely long or short limbs. Floppy ears and curly tails would also likely disappear because they inhibit dog-to-dog communication and serve no functional purpose; so, too, would spotted and bi- and tricoloured coats.
Dogs have been selectively bred by humans for certain behavioural traits, including a general propensity for friendliness and malleability, and breed-specific functional skills such as pointing, fetching, herding and guarding. Selection for these traits has been driven by an interest in the physical characteristics of dogs, by the usefulness of these traits in relation to human pursuits, and, over the past century or two, by human aesthetic whims and fancies. Taken outside the context of human-canine relations, some of these physical and behavioural traits may serve dogs well. Others not so much.
It is hard to know how some of the behavioural traits that have resulted from domestication, such as hypersociability and attention to human gestural cues, might be repurposed by posthuman dogs, and whether these traits will be useful or maladaptive. Who knows, for example, whether the facial muscles that allow dogs to make ‘puppy dog eyes’ to solicit food or attention from people – musculature that is absent in wolves and other canids – will have any use in a posthuman world.
Would dogs actually be better off without us? This could be a difficult question to entertain if you live with dogs, love dogs and stand in awe of the enduring friendships humans and dogs can form. But it is worth trying to imagine, for a few moments, not only what your individual dog might lose and what she might gain, but also what all the dogs who currently share the planet with us might lose or gain if they had the world to themselves. And what about the posthuman dogs of the future who never knew life with humans? Maybe dogs as a species would have a better go of things if the 20,000-year-long domestication experiment were called off once and for all. Dogs would face challenges living on their own, but a posthuman world is also full of what you might call ‘dog possibilities’.
As part of our thought-experiment, therefore, we made a tally of all the possible gains and losses dogs might experience if humans were to disappear tomorrow. Here is a condensed list:
What dogs have to gain from human disappearance:
Freedom of physical movement (no human constraints, such as collars, leashes, fences, cages)
No more intensive captivity, such as in puppy mills, laboratories or dog-meat farms
No more experimentation
No more forced breeding
No more artificial selection for maladaptive traits
Ability to act independently and make free choices
Freedom to socialise with other dogs
Freedom to mate with whom they choose and when they choose
No fear of or stress from human punishments, violence, confinement, unpredictability and inconsistency
Ability to engage their full range of natural species-specific behaviours
Lower levels of obesity
Potentially better nutrition
Greater range of sensory experiences (eg, can more fully use olfactory sense)
Natural level of hormones and development
Physical activity budgets would be chosen by dogs themselves, not by humans
No surgical mutilations, such as tail docking, debarking and ear cropping
Reduction in breed-specific genetic disorders
What dogs have to lose from human disappearance:
No veterinary care
No pain management (medicines, massage, acupuncture, palliative care, pain medications, etc)
No human-provided control of parasites
Potential exposure to diseases
Loss of physical comfort
No regular meals
Potential for nutritional deficiencies
Greater exposure to predation
Greater exposure to the elements
No human-provided safe zones
No human food resources
One of the big surprises for us was that the gains column was significantly longer and more robust than the losses column. And this got us to thinking: if dogs really have more to gain than lose, are there some ways in which we might alter, in the real world, the parameters of human-canine interactions that address some of the problems highlighted in the gains column? Indeed, the gains column can help bring into focus some of the ways humans make life hard for dogs, particularly pet dogs who live within our homes. Our pet dogs generally do not get to pick their friends or their family and do not get to decide when or how to interact with others; they don’t have the opportunity to choose a mate and raise a family, unless we label them ‘breeding stock’, in which case they have no choice; they don’t get to move about freely, work to find their own food and shelter, or respond to varied stimuli from the environment. Moreover, humans breed and buy dogs with maladaptive traits that not only make posthuman survival unlikely but diminish their lives right now. The most obvious example here is the breeding of dogs with extremely foreshortened skulls, such as French bulldogs, who suffer from breathing difficulties and high rates of respiratory disease.
Imagining a future for dogs without their human counterparts is an interesting exercise in biology, but the real value of the thought-experiment is that it can help us think more clearly about who dogs are in the present and this, in turn, can clarify the moral contours of human-canine relationships.
The most important effect of thinking about posthuman dogs, and how they might flourish in the absence of us, is to decentre the human. We tend to think of dogs through the lens of what they mean to us (they are good companions, beneficial for our health, a salve for our loneliness, useful for work, sport and entertainment). But often the lives we ask them to live in our presence are a pale reflection of what they might be.
So, how can we help dogs live experientially rich and interesting lives now, within our midst? Those who live with homed dogs ought to consider allowing their dogs to engage in a wide range of species-typical behaviours. Humans can be more thoughtful in their approach to living with dogs if we use the best canine science to understand who they are. People who live with a companion dog often benefit from reading one of the many excellent and accessible books on the science of dog emotion and cognition, often based on research conducted within canine cognition labs. They learn about how their dog experiences the world – how, for example, dogs ‘see’ the world primarily through their noses. Knowing this, we can do our best to provide opportunities for our dog to use her incredible olfactory capacities, for example by letting her linger over smells when out for a walk or letting her have plenty of time off-leash to follow her own olfactory agenda.
Perhaps even more useful for the average dog guardian would be an exploration of the growing body of research by scientists who study feral and free-ranging dogs. Indeed, one of our central aims in A Dog’s World was to bring this research to a general audience. Here, in studies of free-ranging dogs, we can begin to see dogs not as domesticated playthings but rather as animals. Moreover, we see them as animals situated within ecological communities, where the centre of their world is not necessarily us. Learning about the lives of dogs on their own, we begin to grasp the entire range of canine possibilities and can understand how limited the four walls of a human home really are.
Obsessively helicopter-parented dogs have their ability to engage in normal behaviours seriously compromised
As one small example of this, consider how dogs use space. Biologists use the concept of home range, which was defined in a 1943 paper by William Henry Burt as ‘that area traversed by the individual in its normal activities of food gathering, mating, and caring for young’. Research on the home range of free-ranging dogs shows wide variation, with some dogs having a home range as small as half an acre while others have a home range as large as 7,000 acres. In contrast to free-ranging dogs, intensively homed dogs are highly constrained in the ways they are allowed to use space: they don’t generally have anything that approximates a home range, are rarely allowed to roam at all, and are considered very lucky if they have a half-acre backyard.
Another example is the role of male dogs in parenting young. Among intensively homed dogs, males are rarely observed playing a role in parenting. But is this because male dogs don’t naturally parent their young? Or is it because the ways humans breed dogs typically don’t allow male dogs the opportunity to be fathers? Although research on fathering by free-ranging dogs is mixed and male dogs don’t always appear to be involved, several observational studies found male dogs playing a role in feeding, protecting and teaching youngsters. If parental care is part of the suite of natural behaviours for male dogs, should we reconsider the ways we orchestrate the breeding and raising of pups to allow male dogs the chance to be fathers?
The research on free-ranging and feral dogs, as well as other species of canid, sheds light on the remarkably interesting, full, exciting lives of dogs on their own. Dogs have a wide range of natural habitats and live alongside humans in diverse ways. But some habitats are decidedly more captive and constricting and do not allow dogs to be dogs in any meaningful way, such as laboratories, dog-meat farms and puppy mills. Some habitats are less obviously captive, but nonetheless may greatly limit a dog’s ability to live an interesting life. Little dogs who are bought as fashion accessories, and who have their nails painted and are taught to ‘go’ inside on fake turf, are not really allowed to behave like dogs. Dogs who are obsessively helicopter-parented by their human guardian also have their ability to engage in normal dog behaviours seriously compromised.
It isn’t all that pleasant to think of a world in which we’re no longer here, but there are many reasons to believe that, when we’re gone, dogs will survive and life will go on. And it is healthy for us to begin decentring the human now. When we decentre, then real, fruitful non-anthropocentric thinking can begin. In imagining who dogs might become without us we may gain fresh insight into who they are now and how our relationships with them can best benefit us both.
We may ask our dogs, jokingly: ‘What would you do without me?’ They may indulge us with a wag and bark, all the while imagining the possibilities.
The Build Back Better Act pushed by President Biden and his Democratic Party has a provision that bans religious schools from using infrastructure grants to improve their facilities.
In a section dealing with child care headed, “Facilities Grants,” the bill states:
From a portion of the quality child care amount, a State shall provide support, including through awarding facilities grants, for remodeling, renovation, or repair of a building or facility to the extent permitted under section 658F(b) of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 9858).
For fiscal years 2022 through 2024, and in subsequent years with approval from the Secretary, a State may provide such facilities grants for construction, permanent improvement, or major renovation of a building or facility primarily used for providing child care services, in accordance with the following:
(AA) Federal interest provisions will not apply to the renovation or rebuilding of privately-owned family child care homes under this subclause.
(BB) Eligible child care providers may not use funds for buildings or facilities that are used primarily for sectarian instruction or religious worship.
“Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., offered an amendment to strike the provision called the Religious Freedom Amendment, but it failed during the Ways and Means Committee’s markup in September,” Fox News noted.
Kelly’s press secretary, Matt Knoedler, stated to Fox News, “The congressman was disappointed that Democrats wouldn’t grant such a simple request to help our children during previous negotiations. His Religious Freedom Amendment was an inclusive bill that would have given parents greater choice and allow them to pick a child care service that was best for them.”
Biden’s apparent hostility to religious organizations follows in the footsteps of his former boss, former President Barack Obama. As The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board recalled in January 2019:
One of the sorriest episodes of the Obama Presidency was the assault on the Little Sisters of the Poor for resisting ObamaCare’s contraception mandate. The sisters had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to protect their religious liberty. But anyone who thinks they are home-free underestimates the cultural imperialism of today’s American left.
The Obama Administration tried to force the Catholic nuns and other religious groups to provide their employees with contraceptives, including abortifacients, in violation of their beliefs. In 2016 the Supreme Court removed the millions of dollars in fines the Obama Administration had threatened to impose on the nuns and kicked the issue back to the courts. The Trump Administration has since expanded the religious exemption to include the sisters and like-minded groups.
That should have been it. But progressives can’t abide that someone somewhere might not be following their cultural orders, so in December Democratic attorneys general in 13 states plus the District of Columbia sued to block the Trump exemption. On Sunday, the day before the rule was to take effect, federal Judge Haywood Gilliam of California issued an injunction to stop the exemption in the 13 states and D.C. On Monday federal Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Pennsylvania issued a nationwide injunction. … Most of this is blue-state political grandstanding designed to frustrate the Trump Administration until the next Democratic President comes to town.
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Comedian and actor Ricky Gervais this week doled out a message to the youngsters in Generation Z: you can never be “woke” enough, and there will come a day when you get eaten by your increasingly strict and bizarre standards.
Joining Sam Harris on his podcast “Absolutely Mental,” Gervais mocked Gen Z, “I want to live long enough to see the younger generation not be woke enough for the next generation.”
“It’s going to happen,” the “After Life” star promised. “Don’t they realize that it’s like, they’re next? That’s what’s funny.”
“We kicked out the old guard. We did it,” Gervais said. “There’s only so woke and liberal you can get and then you start going the other way. But it’s inevitable.”
Fox News noted that Gervais in December similarly took a swing at progressivism and cancel culture.
“The scary thing is being canceled if you say the wrong thing and suddenly Netflix can take you off their platform,” he told the “SmartLess” podcast.
“You could be the most woke, politically correct stand-up in the world at the moment, but you don’t know what it’s going to be like in 10 years time,” the 60-year-old argued. “You can get canceled for things you said ten years ago.”
“The misunderstanding about cancel culture is some people think you should be able to say anything you want without consequences, and that’s not true because we’re members of society and people are allowed to criticize you,” Gervais continued. “They’re allowed to not buy your things, they’re allowed to burn your DVDs, and they’re allowed to turn the telly off. What they’re not allowed to do is to bully other people into not going to see you.”
Notably, there have been increasing calls from some on the Left to de-platform comedian Dave Chappelle from Netflix. His crime is telling jokes concerning transgenderism and, ironically, the hateful backlash people get for daring to disagree with the leftist ideology.
Gervais, again, made politically incorrect noise in 2020 when he hosted the Golden Globes and took Hollywood leftists to task. The Daily Wire reported at the time:
Gervais [roasted] the liberal Hollywood elite for their woke posturing while living degenerate lives, highlighting friendships with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein to shady business deals with communist China.
“If you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a political platform to make a political speech,” Gervais told Hollywood. “You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything, you know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So, if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your God — and f*** off, okay?”
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Buying a car and taking it to the auto shop for repairs and maintenance can be a nightmare for many women.
Sadly, many of them don’t get the same treatment as men, a situation that continues to frustrate females everywhere to no end. They feel misunderstood and taken advantage of, and there really isn’t much out there that they can rely on to ease their concerns.
This unfortunate truth prompted materials engineer and mechanic Patrice Banks to open up a ladies-only auto shop in Philadelphia called “Girls Auto Clinic” or GAC, for short.Instagram
Banks wanted to change the conversation around women and their vehicles, so she founded GAC in 2015. The goal is to empower females and provide them with the know-how of managing their own cars, so they can become confident “sheCANics.”
“I was afraid I was going to be taken advantage of,” Banks said. “I was tired of feeling helpless and having to go talk to a guy.”
Banks also hopes to increase the presence of women in the male-dominated automotive industry.
At 31, Banks enrolled in night classes at a technical school. She was the only woman in the class and was older than the average student by about 12 years.Instagram
She eventually quit her job as a materials engineer and started her apprenticeships in garages around Philadelphia. Finally, she gained enough knowledge and experience to open up GAC in 2015.
GAC is fully owned and operated by women, meaning it has an all-female workforce. The business offers a place where women can take care of their cars without all the stress that typically comes with it.
Each GAC mechanic’s objective is to give women the auto experience they deserve and equip them with the information they need about their cars.Facebook
“People are coming in, especially women, with that guard up. In order to get them to trust you, you have to let that guard down,” Banks explained.
“Mechanics do a lot of diagnosing from hearing, seeing, feeling and smelling. So if we can hear, see, feel and smell it, so can you. So I’m going to show you what I’m looking for, what I’m feeling for, so you can feel comfortable and you know this is what’s going on with [your] car. … It’s just about transparency and communication.”
Banks admits that she was once an “auto airhead,” someone who doesn’t know a thing about cars. But when she realized that women spend billions of dollars every year on buying and maintaining cars, she recognized that females are the most influential vehicle customer segment. So, she built a business model that supports a need in the lives of many women drivers.Instagram
GAC became more than just an auto shop for women when Banks added a beauty salon to it. Here, women can pamper themselves while they wait for their cars to be serviced.
They have the option of availing of a manicure, pedicure, and even a blow-out! The “Clutch Beauty Bar” really elevates customer experience and provides them with the kind of service that is hard to find anywhere else.
GAC is focused on educating females about cars, a mission they fulfill by providing car care memberships, videos, workshops, and a friendly Shecanic Facebook community where members can ask car-related questions and have them answered by mechanics.Facebook
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