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Monday, November 19, 2012

Crocoduck, Bigfoot, and church as a punishment?


Hey everyone, how's it going?  Now that the elections are over, I've decided to emerge from my bunker in an undisclosed state in a hidden location.  I'm assuming that because we aren't at war with Iran and the industries haven't been de-regulated, Obama must have won.  Things have been hectic and interesting here at the Skeptical Okie secret base.  To those that are from Oklahoma, this will make sense.  To everyone else, I'll try and explain.  Recently, I was at my local Wal Mart (yes I know, evil big corporation shutting out mom and pop stores, bad practices, etc, but it's the cheapest place for miles around, and the closest.) and I ran into someone that remembered my grandpa.  My grandpa used to make a bit of extra pocket money by witching for water wells.  Witching wells is called dousing by the rest of the world.  I used to go with him on a few of these jobs, and he "taught" me how to do it.  Basically, he put 2 willow rods (because willow is attracted to water) in my hands and told me to feel for the water.  I watched what he did and noticed he was tensing his arms, so I did the same thing.  He thought I had the gift.  Remember, his daughter, my mother, thinks she can heal sunburns by touching them.  Anyway, this gentleman at Wal Mart remembered me (I haven't changed much in appearance) and told me he had just bought a quarter section and needed to put in a well.  He wanted to know if I would come out and witch it for him.  As we are living on a single paycheck right now, there was a lot of temptation.  I looked at him and told him no, I couldn't.  I didn't go into an explanation of why, mostly because he would just tell me I'm wasting my "gift", and yes, I've heard it before.  The major issue I really wanted to point out is that most of the state sits on top of the Ogallala aquifer, and if you drill down enough, you'll hit water.  I've had a few run ins with our local ghost hunters too, but that story is for another day.

Okay, this story is one that can make you facepalm and hurt a rib at the same time.  Basically, a 14 year old girl in New Zealand (to my NZ readers, is this attitude normal?)  states that homosexuality will bring human development to a standstill, but she doesn't believe in evolution.  Because ducks nest in pairs, they will be more evolved than humans.  Quick, someone get her a biology book, STAT!!!!!!!!!!  I guess someone forgot to tell her that often ducks do take a same sex partner.  Sometimes, they'll try and breed an animal that's a different species. (Crocoduck anyone?  Kirk Cameron may be trying this, though I don't imagine the coupling will be pleasant for either animal, unless a lot of alcohol is involved.  Could you imagine the walk of shame the next morning after that?)  The whole article is found at
http://now.msn.com/homosexuality-will-put-ducks-in-charge-of-world-teen-says


I loved this one!!!  In the state of Georgia, Charles Darwin, who has been dead for about 130 years at this point, received over 4000 write in votes against Sen.Paul "evolution is from hell" Broun.  Just goes to show that anyone can run for office in this country.  Granted, Broun still got 209,000, but it was a valid protest that got his attention.  I've been hearing a lot of people saying that they wasted their votes, and a few people ask who Darwin is.  This is one the the rare times that a write in vote like this wasn't a waste.  Broun was running unopposed, so basically either you voted for him, or you didn't vote.  A version of the story can be read at
Charles Darwin was the natural selection for 4,000 Georgia voters


I've heard of cruel and unusual punishment, but this one is a little odd.   Judge sentences teen to 10 years of church   Here in Oklahoma, we've got a long history of strange laws (such as you can go to jail for taking a bite out of someone elses hamburger or that sex is only legal in the missionary position.  Who the hell enforces these?)  There is a district court judge who has a habit of sentencing people to church.  Basically it's deferred sentence where they have to attend a religious service instead of A.A.  A 17 year old kid had a few drinks (legal age in the U.S. is 21) got into a wreck that killed his passenger and was charged with manslaughter.  Judge Mike Norman in Muskogee sentenced him to church.  When I was a kid, I know church felt like a punishment, by I always felt like I'd done something wrong BY going.  As I am writing this, I found out that this isn't exactly legal, though the judge is defending his decision.


Okay, this one ties into the main thought of this post.  I know I've brought up a lot of topics already, and I hope I've given everyone some fodder for conversations.  I'll admit I do watch "Finding Bigfoot" on Animal Planet.  It does spike the old blood pressure, but I like to make it into a poor mans version of MST 3000 ( I like to think I'm Tom Crow).  Keep in mind I found this article first, then saw the fella on Finding Bigfoot.  In Idaho, gold miner William Barnes and scientist Jeff Meldrum are launching a remote control blimp to try and track Bigfoot from the air.  The article is at
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/49424363
 I saw Meldrum on a recently aired episode of Finding Bigfoot (from here on referred to as FB to save my poor tired fingers and brain) and I realized that I had read an article about him a day or two before.  The reason I'm bringing up FB is because watching the show, I have come to realize a few things, outside of that odds are bigfoot is highly unlikely to exist.  The first is that the 3 guys, who are believers are always shooting down the solitary female whenever she puts her opinion out there.  Keep in mind, 1 of the men has always been a bigfoot hunter (Bobo, gotta love that nickname), 1 was a computer programmer (goatee guy), I think, and the third guy is Matt Moneymaker.  You would figure if you were running a "non-profit" organization, you would change your last name.  The female is actually a biologist that specializes in wildlife.  I once heard Moneymaker make the comment to her that "She doesn't know what it's like to be in the field".  To earn her degree, she had to spend time in the field tracking and observing animals in their native environment.  Another thought that occurred to me was the locations that they go for their research, and I'm not going to use quotes around the questionable designations for the rest of the article because I'm kinda afraid of wearing the key out.  If you would be so kind as to look at the 2 maps below,

bigfoot




black bear



Not the best comparative maps, but they were the best I could find.  When I can find better, I'll put them in.  The majority of bigfoot sightings are clustered in areas that are also black bear habitat.  I can see how a person could mistake a bear walking upright for a hairy humanoid creature.  Another problem I have with their research techniques is how they actually look for these creatures.  They have a variety of ways that they do this.  One of the most common is sound blasting.  I do have a friend that is a believer, and have discussed some of these with him to find out what the concept behind this was.  Sound blasting, which is basically a boom box (o.k., I'm old, it's a large sound system) playing various animal calls including gorillas, chimps, and large N. American predators like wolves and coyotes.  The idea is that bigfoot, being a primate, will respond to the ape calls, and bigfoot follows wolves and coyotes. (More on that in a minute)  Bigfoot, anecdotally, according to my friend, is also very territorial and can be violent, so it's a good idea to let them know you're there.  Another technique I've seen is the Rave, which is what it sounds like.  Laser lights, loud music.  It's supposed to make the animal curious, and draw them in to investigate. (Yep, you want to have a large, territorial, possibly violent humanoid come to you)  There is also the, what I'm calling, "Damsel in distress".  The female sits alone while the men go off and watch the terrain.  She talks, calls out, and generally tries to entice one in.  Poor gal if it ever happens.  They also play recorded children's voices, claiming that bigfoot are curious about human children. (Is the plural bigfoot, bigfeet, bigfoots?)  They have also basically had a large camp out, complete with a bonfire, people playing music, and singing.  Another method that they've used is where they ran through the woods with torches (for my British readers, I don't mean an electric torch, I mean a flaming pitch type of torch) yelling and screaming.  Who the fuck runs through the woods, at night, with a flaming torch?  Have they never seen the Smokey the Bear commercials?  They normal method is to wear large camera rigs, divide up into 2 teams, go a distance apart and "call" back and forth.  These rigs have lights, and a lot of electronics on them, but they say that bigfoot is sensitive to electronics and avoid them.  They also banter a lot back and forth and over the radios. 
Another issue with these bigfoot hunters is the tracks.  A lot of the time when they point out tracks, I don't see them, and the biologist doesn't seem to see them as tracks either.  I think this may be more of a case of Pareidolia,  which is when the brain finds patterns that don't actually exist.  Some good examples are seeing a Philly cheese steak in the clouds.  Some other examples are 
            
Another problem I have with the tracks is that generally a biped will put most weight on the balls of its feet, making that part of the track slightly deeper.  Every time the biologist says she doesn't see what the others do, they jump down her throat. 
And my major peeve with the show.  Every episode, they will cut in to one of the 3 men describing perfect bigfoot territory, foods, and body types.  I like it when Bobo says "If I like it than a squatch will like it."  I've begun to think he's actually a shaved bigfoot that is sent out into the human population to keep us away, or if he can't, warn the local bigfoot.  I know, it's goofy, but it makes the show a little more entertaining.  What I want to know, HOW THE HELL DO THEY KNOW THIS???  Without a living population, or at least several samples for observation and testing ,there is no way, except for anecdotes, to have this information.  They say that bigfoot are apex predators and follow wolf packs.  They have shown stick structures, kinds like a lean-to, and stated bigfoot must have made it.  Thing is, I've built a lot of those when I've been camping and caught out in a storm.  For the life of me, I can't understand how they can make these claims without proof and documentation. 

The main reason that this bugs the shite out of me is watching these folks bumble through the woods.  Don't get me wrong, I would love it if someone would actually bring in a live one, or at least a corpse that isn't a frozen costume.  I have spent a lot of my life tracking animals, everything from lost pets and livestock to predators that have killed pets and livestock.  You can't run through the woods making noise, talking on the radio, waving a torch, playing loud music, using laser lights, etc.   When stalking an animal, firstly you need to understand their behavior, even if it is acting abnormally.  Then you either find tracks or spoor, and follow the trail, or you find likely spots, and sit there quietly and see what comes along.  There are a lot of other things about the show I want to talk about, but this post has gotten longer than I intended, and if your still reading it, your eyes are probably getting tired. Until next time, be good, be skeptical, and have fun.

The Skeptical Okie

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