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Today I Learned

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Although I seem to know less as I learn more, I can't help myself from seeking new information.  This Topic is best utilized for older stories of historic and scientific nature, or they'd be in the "Random News Section".

Mods can kill this if they don't see a need, but I imagine at least some of us are learning something new almost every day that's worth sharing.  Maybe instead of arguing about the same old things, we might want to figure out why we're arguing and how we got here.

 

Today I learned (from a 2012 news article) that humans almost became extinct 72,000 years ago.

How Human Beings Almost Vanished From Earth In 70,000 B.C.

October 22, 201212:33 PM ET

Add all of us up, all 7 billion human beings on earth, and clumped together we weigh roughly 750 billion pounds. That, says Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, is more than 100 times the biomass of any large animal that's ever walked the Earth. And we're still multiplying. Most demographers say we will hit 9 billion before we peak, and what happens then?

Well, we've waxed. So we can wane. Let's just hope we wane gently. Because once in our history, the world-wide population of human beings skidded so sharply we were down to roughly a thousand reproductive adults. One study says we hit as low as 40.

https://www.npr.org/sections/krulwich/2012/10/22/163397584/how-human-beings-almost-vanished-from-earth-in-70-000-b-c

 

 

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12 minutes ago, blue_gold_84 said:

An excellent read, to be sure.

Thinking about this, it really makes one wonder how the human race would deal with such an event in the modern age, if/when it were to happen.

Intelligent people would hunker down and survive.  Trump supporters would believe it didnt happen and the sun is still shining brightly.  

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Today I learned exactly how and why the anti-Soros nonsense was developed:

"It began in 2008, when Orbán decided to seek reelection. His old friend Bibi — as Netanyahu is known — introduced him to the two people who would guide his success. Before long, Finkelstein and Birnbaum were applying their formula to Orbán’s election campaign — and then turbocharging it.

Enemies were easy to find in Hungary. The country was an economic basket case and had to be bailed out in 2008. Austerity measures were demanded by their creditors at the World Bank, the EU, and the IMF. Finkelstein and Birnbaum told Orbán to target “the bureaucrats” and “foreign capital.”

Orbán won the 2010 election with a two-thirds majority as the country shifted to the right. Birnbaum is still amazed today how easy it was: “We blew the Socialist party off the table even before the election.”

Birnbaum and Finkelstein, now part of Orbán’s inner circle, found themselves with a problem. While the satisfied winner of the election started rewriting the constitution, they were now lacking an opponent. “There was no real political enemy … there was no one to have a fight with,” Birnbaum remembered. The ultra-right Jobbik party and the Socialist party were beaten, the rest in splinters. “We had had an incumbent with a historic majority, something that had never happened in Hungary before.” To maintain that, they needed a “high energy level,” said Birnbaum. “You need to keep the base energized, make sure that on Election Day they have a reason to go out and vote,” he said. They needed something powerful, like Trump’s “Build the Wall!”

“It always helps rally the troops and rally a population” when the enemy has a face, Birnbaum explained. “Arthur always said that you did not fight against the Nazis but against Adolf Hitler. Not against al-Qaeda, but against Osama bin Laden.” Who could become that enemy in Hungary now that Orbán was in power — and wanted to stay there?

Orbán was busy creating a new, more dramatic story of the nation. Hungary, which had collaborated with the Nazis, was painted as a victim, surrounded by external enemies, under perpetual siege, first from the Ottomans, then the Nazis, and later the Communists. Hungary’s mission was clear: to defend against its enemies, and to preserve Christianity against encroaching Islam and secular forces.

Against this backdrop, Finkelstein had an epiphany. What if the veil of the conspiracy were to be lifted and a shadowy figure appear, controlling everything? The puppet master. Someone who not only controlled the “big capital” but embodied it. A real person. A Hungarian. Strange, yet familiar.

That person was Soros, Finkelstein told Birnbaum.

Birnbaum was mesmerized: Soros was the perfect enemy.

At the beginning, it almost didn’t make sense. Why campaign against a nonpolitician? Although he was born in Hungary, Soros hadn’t lived there in years. He was an old man, known all over the country as a patron of civil society. He had supported the opposition against the Communists before the fall of the Iron Curtain, and financed school meals for kids afterward. In Budapest, he had built one of the best universities in Eastern Europe.

 

Orbán had even received money from Soros: During his time in the opposition, his small underground foundation Századvég published critical newspapers, created on a copy machine that was paid for by Soros. Orbán was also one of the more than 15,000 students who received scholarships from Soros’s Open Society Foundations. Thanks to Soros, Orbán studied philosophy in Oxford. The two men only met once: when Soros came to Hungary in 2010 after a toxic spill to provide $1 million in emergency funds.

There didn’t really seem to be a reason to turn against him in Hungary.

But Finkelstein and Birnbaum saw something in Soros that would make him the perfect enemy. There’s a long history of criticism of Soros, dating back to 1992, when Soros earned $1 billion overnight betting against the British pound. For many on the left, Soros was a vulture. But Soros used his sudden prominence to push for liberal ideas. He supported everything the right was against: climate protection, equality, the Clintons. He opposed the second Iraq War in 2003, even comparing George W. Bush to the Nazis, and became a major donor for the Democrats. He was soon a hate figure for the Republicans.

But there was more. Finkelstein and Birnbaum had expanded their work into exactly those countries where the Open Society Foundations was trying to build liberal local elites and civil rights movements: Ukraine, Romania, the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Albania. Birnbaum believed Soros stood for “a socialism that is wrong for these areas.” According to Birnbaum, Finkelstein was more practical about his opposition to Soros, whom he saw as simply a means to an end: “It wasn’t an emotional thing.”

Read the whole story at this link:

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hnsgrassegger/george-soros-conspiracy-finkelstein-birnbaum-orban-netanyahu

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Today, I learned that Honey Bees actually hack nature if they are hungry...

When bumble bee queens emerge from hibernation, they need to gather pollen and nectar to start their new colonies. If they wake up too soon, there may not be enough flowers in bloom. Now, researchers have discovered the bees have a way to order some fast food: They nibble holes in leaves, spurring plants to blossom weeks ahead of schedule. Many questions remain about the details of this strategy and how it evolved.

“It’s certainly surprising,” says Lars Chittka, a behavioral ecologist at the Queen Mary University of London, who was not involved. “We’re only at the beginning of exploring this phenomenon.”

Researchers at ETH Zürich chanced upon the discovery when they noticed curious bite marks on leaves while studying how bees respond to plant odors. They had added bumble bees to a research greenhouse and observed them cutting holes in the shape of half-moons. What was going on? At first, the researchers thought the insects might be feeding on fluid from the leaves, but the bees didn’t stay long enough to get much. Nor did they appear to be taking any part of the leaves back to their colonies.

A key observation—that bumble bees from colonies with less food were more avidly damaging the leaves—suggested another goal. The researchers wondered whether the damage triggered the plants to flower sooner, providing pollen to the hungry pollinators. After all, some plants speed up their flowering when they are stressed by disease or drought because these threats provide an incentive to reproduce sooner. But no one had ever shown that a pollinator can stimulate flowering. “I thought it was a long shot,” recalls Mark Mescher, an evolutionary biologist at ETH Zürich who co-led the research.

 

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/hungry-bumblebees-make-plants-flower-early-cutting-holes-their-leaves

http://www.indefenseofplants.com/blog/2020/5/25/bees-bite-leaves-to-induce-flowering

 

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