40 years of faulty wiring

Beasts and Breeding and Brazil…oh my!

I read an interesting article on Yahoo today. It was about Ary Borges, a Brazilian man, who owns 7, yes 7, Siberian (orange and black) adorable full-grown tigers. He also has 2 lions.  Yipe.  The federal Brazilian wildlife officials have begun legal methods to remove the animals and neuter them. Ary, a bit of an unconventional sort not only protects his cats, he also breeds them. Ary had no experience handling wild animals when he began to breed his cats. The wildlife feds argue that the animals are dangerous and deserve to live elsewhere than in Ary’s small home in the middle of an industrial area.  He does however have a spacious red-dirt compound. It is surrounded by wooden walls and metal fences.

At first I thought “this guy is nuts. One of these days those tigers will turn on him.”  Then I looked at the slideshow. Cute. And in the pictures I saw the siberian_tiger-1280x1024a highly impressive property. A gorgeous woods with a large, deep blue swimming pool (yes the tigers use it), as well as spacious cages with at least one swimming pool inside. The rest of the day the tigers and lionesses wander around inside his house interacting with his children and spouse. Ary first rescued two abused tigers from a circus and this is what started him on his tiger-breeding hobby so to speak. To be fair, I should call it a sanctuary and it does look that way. It is probably a full-time job to care for so many wild beasts and it is obvious from looking at the impressive photographs that Ary does a darned good job. The cages are clean, as are the animals. They are healthy and active (not to mention beautiful). In one picture Ary is shown bottle feeding an adorable 2-year-old tiger named Dan.  His paw is enormous, far bigger than Ary’s hand.

The 2nd last picture is of one of his 7 tigers standing in his pristine white kitchen across the table from Ary’s family. The animal is enormous. I pictured walking around the corner into the kitchen alone and encountering just one of the enormous tigers or lionesses. It made my heart skip a beat.  As beautiful and serene as they are, tigers, lions (and bears) are wild animals. I hope nothing nasty ever comes of Ary breeding and raising his tigers. I watched a Youtube video of Ary, his tigers and his family and my impression changed somewhat. Kevin Richardson has nothing on Ary Borges, in a manner of speaking.

Another scene showed Ary holding a tiger on a leash and the animal lunged at one of the girls, Uyara, who scurried, frightened, out of its way. Moments later Uyara insists that since the family has been caring for them, the tigers’ instincts are dormant. Not sure I agree with that one. Rafael, Uyara’s husband,doesn’t want her interacting with the tigers. He is terrified of the big cats and keeps his distance. “They can be lethal. I am very afraid. I try to avoid any kind of contact as much as I can.” Not a fun way to live. Uyara however allows their adorably pretty little daughter, Rayara to ride on the backs of the tigers. Ary leans over and strokes one of the cats behind the ears. The animal’s head jerks up and he growls at his “master.” Ary snarls back and wallops him but he looks uncertain.

The compound is impressive. I didn’t picture (pun) this man’s property and animals being anywhere this efficient and clean. Considering that it takes $20,000.00 a year just to feed one full-grown lion or tiger Ary must be loaded. That’s also beneficial to his cats.

Ary-BorgesPersonally I’m on Rafael’s side. The animals are cantankerous, unpredictable and huge in size, Even Ary wouldn’t have a chance should any of his cats turn on him. I picture coming around the corner and walking smack into a huge, grown tiger. I doubt I would maintain my calm. I’m sure I’d scream and run. Of course we know that running away from a carnivore tends to trigger a hunting mechanism. Instinct is the inherent inclination of an organism toward a particular complex behaviour. The simplest example of an instinctive behavior is a fixed action pattern, (chasing) or a very short to medium length sequence of actions which are carried out in response to a clearly defined stimulus (running away).  Running away from Bob or Dan means you might as well be a sitting duck. Chasing is a complex reaction when compared to a simple reflex. It isn’t learned. An animal or person is born with it. In spite of Ary and his family insisting that the tigers’ instincts have become dormant since they have been raised by humans, science says differently. People may be able to modify a stimulated fixed action pattern by recognizing its activation and choosing to simply stop doing it, whereas animals without a sufficiently strong volitional capacity may not be able to disengage from their fixed action patterns, once activated. 

So far, Ary and his family insist there have been no serious injuries. I hope that continues. As impressive as the concept may be I say eventually nature always wins.

October 7, 2013 Posted by | Animal Kingdom, Bizarre yet True | , , , | Leave a comment

Tasty Toenia Tapeworms Tighten and Tone the Torso

Have you heard of the Tapeworm Diet? I swear it’s real.  In fact, one of my fave programs, 1000 ways to Die, aired an episode in which a girl swallowed a tapeworm that lodged snugly in her intestines, she lost scads of weight, and died from various complications. That’s the skinidea behind the TD (no, not the dying part – the weight loss part). I first read about swallowing the parasitic tapeworm at least two decades ago. The man who swallowed it didn’t do so for cosmetic reasons. He wanted to prove for scientific research if Fred the Tapeworm (that’s what he named it) could save his life and boost his immune system in the event that he was internally exposed to elements that should have been fatal. For example, this brave (or gross) person drank from the Ganges River, and ate stuff that would turn off a billy-goat. Happily, Fred did his work and absorbed all of the incredibly dangerous viruses and bacteria that came from the exotic diet. Eventually, the scientist had to somehow de-worm himself so he could void it, since Fred was also killing him. via extreme weight loss. Can you imagine having a tapeworm hanging out of you when you go to the bathroom? Gross.  The things people will do in the name of science.

Tyra Banks had a panel of women on one of her silly episodes (stupid show) and a female tapeworm user’s doctor had inserted it inside of her tongue, just beneath the surface. She stuck out her tongue at Tyra and the camera zoomed in so we could all see it, Ick. The woman was still chunky. I guess the tongue doesn’t work as well as the intestine….you know, you could interpret that statement on so many levels. These tapeworms can grow several feet inside the human body  It keeps pace with your intestines. Tapeworms have been known to void from a person’s anus. Seriously. Are you eating just now?  Sorry.  The tapeworm expert on the show presented beef and pig tapeworms. Beef tapeworms are known as taenia saginata. The tapeworm eggs hatch inside the cattle and travel to the muscles becoming inclusions called cysticercus. Pig tapeworms are called taenia solium. Humans become infected from passed eggs or by consuming contaminated meat.

These are normally not ingested by humans. Humans come in contact with them by eating contaminated beef or pork, but in North America that seldom happens.

default-ehow-images-a05-5r-qk-diseases-tapeworms-800x800Women have swallowed tapeworm eggs and larvae (gross) to lose weight and yet many have not. I suppose it doesn’t work for everyone, like any diet and exercise program. At least reasonably normal diets like eating extra veggies and fruits than you usually do, or cutting down on carbs, or some such thing, doesn’t do any damage and doesn’t threaten your life.  I mean, are people that desperate to lose weight that they would put their lives at risk and become a nursery for wriggly worms? Eesh. In other countries in the world, obesity is considered very attractive. Obese women  have far more marriage options than thin women, since the weight suggests the husband is wealthy and can afford to feed her well. However, before you get all excited and think you might move there, these women usually eat all day in order to gain massive amounts of weight. Since food is expensive they are known to eat cattle feed and to die from it. Sheee-it. No matter where we are on the globe, it’s all about the body.

Other opinions about tapeworms state that the TD does no harm to the human body. This article, Null Hypothesis, claims that death is unlikely, but if it occurs it is due to massive infections. So far as I know, the woman who ate a tapeworm on the Tyra Banks show is still alive, so perhaps there is some truth to the Null Hypothesis. Mind you, I wouldn’t accept the article’s information over that of a doctor. Not for a minute.

If you are considering the TD, here are a few facts for you to consider:

  1. tapeworms grow up to 20 yards long (nasty)
  2. tapeworms can eat their way out of the intestines into the abdomen, causing death by internal hemmhoraghing (ouch)
  3. taenia solium, a type of tapeworm, is the leading cause of acquired epilepsy, originating in pigs (th-th-that’s all folks)
  4. you will be swarming with eggs, larvae and tapeworm (gross)

Here’s a great paragraph summing up more reasons to avoid tapeworms as dietary aids:

While a tapeworm might take in some of the food you do, it would at the same time be taking in a lot of vitamins and other nutrients you need to stay healthy. Do you know what ascites are? A big pool of fluid in your tummy caused by an immune response to something in your guts. Something like a tapeworm. It gives you a big potbelly, which runs kind of counter to the look you might be wishing for. And a tapeworm might not necessarily just set up camp in your innards. It can also cause cysts in your muscles, liver and eyes. Your eyes! So don’t you think it might be easier instead to just eat a bit less and exercise a bit more?  Well said.


  • 250px-Tapeworm_life_cycleTapeworm eggs hatch in the intestines of the infected animal. This hatched stage of the tapeworm is called an oncosphere.
  • The oncospheres penetrate the intestine wall and move to other organs, such as the brain, liver, tissues and striated muscles.
  • Once the oncospheres have migrated to other organs, they turn into cysts.
  • Cysts found in under cooked meat travel to the intestines in humans. The intestines are where the cysts stop in humans.
  • Cysts turn inside-out, causing the insides of the cysts to protrude in a tubular fashion.
  • These inside-out cysts attach themselves to the small intestine of their human carrier by their scolex, or head-like segment.
  • Adult tapeworm development from the scolex
  • There are 1000 segments of adult tapeworm
  • Each segment carries 50,000 eggs
  • Adult tapeworms lay eggs and the cycle continues

Sounds gorgeous? Hardly. Healthy is a write-off. But if it’s an easy form of weight loss you want, the TD might be the (dangerous, gross, foolhardy) solution. Two internet sites where you can order tapeworm larvae are tapewormeggs.com  and  lieware  See you in the cemetery.  I’ll bring flowers. Oh, and a scale.


September 18, 2013 Posted by | Animal Kingdom, Bizarre yet True, Health and Wellness, Human psychology | , , , | Leave a comment

A Feral Boy Proves Pain, Fear are a Learned Myth

I wrote about feral children in an earlier blog.  Feral children are children who have been abandoned in a natural setting, usually a forest, who somehow manage to survive without adult protection, communication with human beings, or shelter. One of the children I researched was a little boy named Victor who spent the first 12 years of his life abandoned in a woods near Averyon in France. Victor was found wandering the woods near Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance, in 1797 and was captured but he managed to escape until January 8, 1800, when he simply left the woods and returned to the village. His lack of speech, as well as his food preferences and the numerous scars on his body, indicated he had been in the wild for the majority of his life. Of course the child soon became the subject of scientific interest: a philosophy during the Enlightenment Age was of the noble savage. Some believed a person, existing in nature, would be “gentle, innocent, a lover of solitude, ignorant of evil and incapable of causing intentional harm.” watch Victor of Aveyron

Victor didn’t display human emotion, nor did he seem inclined to socialize with anyone. He was unable to bond with other human beings and he appeared oblivious to this fact. While Victor did not learn to speak language, it seems that Victor did make progress in his behavior towards other people, demonstrating familiarity and some empathy. He was also accustomed to cold and when he went outside in the snow, Victor threw off his clothes, and started playing, rolling around in the snow, and running nude. Our perception of cold and warmth is mostly based on the experiences we have and the knowledge we are taught, so it seems that Victor was used to cold weather and spent his life outside.

 Another feral child, an Irish sheep-boy was discovered in 1672. He was described as a  youth of 16 years, who was brought up amongst wild sheep in Ireland. He was (according to “civilized standards“) rude, ignorant of fear, lacking softness and very fierce. He had firm flesh, scorched skin, rigid limbs, and bleated like a sheep. He chewed grass and hay. He lived on rough mountains and in desert places, and showed a preference for caves and dens. His appearance was of a wild beast and a long time passed before the boy began to behave in a more “civilizedmanner.
Caution, sensitivity to temperature, extreme pain, a need for nurturing, all of these behaviours are learned in human society; they are not innate and are not genetically inheritedLanguage, too, is a means of communication that must be taught during a child’s development or it can never be learned.Victor, the sheep-boy and many other feral children discovered in history were living proof that some of our basic human needs are not needs. They are wants, and they are learned wants. Of course needs and wants, as well as social behaviour, are vital to an advanced and intellectual civilization, thus the morality of teaching these experiences to ourselves and to our offspring is entirely justified. The lesson in the scientific research of feral children is a valuable one: just as we teach our children consciously to react to what we believe are adverse situations to ensure our survival, there is much that we assume needs to be learned.
Possibly, many of our “common sense” behaviours are unnecessary. The key words in describing the socialization of human beings is the aforementioned us of “common sense“. Feral children are living proof that the survival skills we acquire are not all vital. Rather, they are a reflection of the common society, a shared belief in the social mores and norms that define us as civilized beings, rather than fulfilling actual needs and offering us needed protection.

September 2, 2012 Posted by | Animal Kingdom, Bizarre yet True, Education, Human Biology, Human psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Driving Animals to Extinction is a 10,000 Year Old Practice…but the Joke’s on Us

Of course it’s frequently human fault when animals are hunted to extinction….who else’s could it be?  Animals generally don’t hunt or kill one another until they are endangered although that has been known to happen.  For instance, introducing a particularly aggressive species of fish into new territory where smaller, vulnerable fish exist can actually wipe out that population.  Mind you, it’s still us nasty humans who tend to have the honour of introducing weaker fish to predators.

To be sure, there were a number of factors that went into the extinction of the magnificent woolly mammoth. Climate change, shifting habitats, and probably a plethora of other factors plotted against the poor mammoth. However it all began with humanoids, rather than humans, about 10,000 years before homosapiens of our breed even set foot on the earth.  I blogged once about the existence of approximately 1 –  4% Neanderthal DNA  still existing in many cultures worldwide, specifically descendents of early humans who migrated out of Africa, except non-Indigenous Africans, and beginning in the Middle East (I swear I don’t make up this stuff).  watch all non-Africans are Neanderthal hybrids. ‘Twould appear that many more cultures seem to have inherited their tendency to pursue animals in very large numbers to satisfy needs (and wants). watch new evidence that Neanderthals interbred humansBuffalo were hunted nearly to extinction and in fact their remaining numbers are pitiful (hundreds) compared to their original count (millions) …(thank you, Yankees).  Mammoths it would seem, were their predecessors.  And it was those pesky Neanderthals (and maybe Cro Magnon Man) who preceded the Yanks in this type of egocentric behaviour.  watch evolution – from ape man to neanderthal

Bothersome meteors are another culprit, it would seem.  Oh, how researchers love to pull out that ace up their sleeve: first the dinosaur extinction caused by a particularly errant meteor, now the mammoth tragedy.  This one is known as the Younger Drias Impact Hypothesis. ‘Tis also suggested that the onset of warmer climates, wet tundra and coniferous forests were poorly suited for the doomed mammoth  This hypothesis states the areas most inhabited by woolly mammoths became too barren to provide their food source and naturally no animal can sustain itself on air and good intentions (unless you’re a Breatharian of course, but that’s another blog – and a hoot and a holler – entirely). However humanoids may have  played a definite factor in wiping out the hairy beasts. Human hunting, climate change and landscape changes coalesced to force the noble beast into extinction.

Never you mind. Mother Nature had a little vengeance of her own.  Cro Magnon Man gave Neanderthals a run for their mammoths and eventually they contributed (also among many factors) to the Neanderthal extinction.  I believe that’s known as karma. watch neanderthal vs Cro Magnon. Mind, it is highly doubtful that Neanderthals had the wherewithal to grasp the implications of their enthusiastic hunting sprees. Meh. Seems to me that if Neanderthals hadn’t assisted the earth’s many changes in obliterating the mammoth, modern day humans certainly would: those ivory tusks are extremely valuable to poachers.  Ask the elephants.  watch LAGA ivory operation 12 tusk

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Animal Kingdom, Bizarre yet True | , , , , | Leave a comment

Adaptation + Problem-Solving = Survival of the Fittest


Speaking of the caveman diet….did you know that in prehistoric history (post-dinosaurs of course) different species of humans co-existed?  Neither did I. I assumed that Neanderthals existed alone during their era but they co-existed with early homo sapiens… us.  watch evolution homo sapiens vs Neanderthals. Remains of Neanderthals found in France overlap with the earliest remains of modern humans from the same area. The fossils of early humans and Neanderthals have been found in the same vicinity and time indicating that two intelligent beings coexisted.

Neanderthals were very successful. They survived for about 150,000 years. They were almost exclusively carnivorous and they were great predators. They were hunters and gatherers so they had a reasonably balanced diet. They cooked vegetables and used tools. watch neanderthal: simple minded or intelligent? Neanderthals were probably not really human. Research has found that the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of early modern humans and  Neanderthals were quite different.

Living humans have on average eight differences in the 378-unit DNA strand investigated during a particular study, while the Neanderthal differed in 27 places. Perhaps while they co-existed differences prevented interbreeding or resulted in sterile hybrids.  Another study suggests that any human whose ancestral group developed outside Africa has a little Neanderthal in them – between 1 and 4 per cent of their genome. In other words, humans and Neanderthals had sex and had hybrid offspring who survived but probably not for long and weren’t a successful species. watch neanderthal man

Neanderthals didn’t stand the test of time since they were unable to adapt to the environment biologically or intellectually. Neanderthals were built for the Ice Age. They were broad and stout, had a heavy step, they got up close to their prey and speared it. Then during the passing of the IA, the land changed and with it so did prey.  Prey got faster but Neanderthals couldn’t run: they weren’t built for it. watch can neanderthal run? Neanderthals didn’t adapt to open spaces and that was where the big game lived. Neanderthals retreated to forests as their population dwindled. Homo sapiens on the other hand figured they would catch more food if they lived on hilltops where they could survey the landscape. Then they made a plan of attack to isolate an animal from its herd. Homo sapiens weren’t just intelligent (as were Neanderthals) they were problem-solvers and that was key to their survival. watch neanderthal: recreating the face

It was in problem-solving that humans had an edge over Neanderthals and were able to exploit food sources and habitat.  Neanderthals lived in valleys and didn’t have this advantage. Over thousands of years, Neanderthals competed with homo sapiens for food and natural resources until finally Neanderthals became extinct. watch animated reconstruction of evolution In the end survival of the fittest came down to problem-solving and biological adaptation.

June 5, 2011 Posted by | Animal Kingdom, Human Biology | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fat Pants / Skinny Pants

Have you still got those hidden, shameful fat pants in your closet, along with a fat skirt, fat dress, fat jeans and what have you?  Think you’re bad?  Think you’re weak.  Wrong.  You are a cyclical human being who has moments in life when s/he can devote more time to fitness and focusing on yourself than others. It’s not likely that your eating changes greatly.  I doubt you are going from eating a well-balanced diet of about 2,500 calories or so a day to eating 4 times a day at McDonald’s and sucking back 8,000 calories when you have to pull on your fat pants.  Am I right?  Thought so. Did you know that a woman’s weight can fluctuate daily up to 8 pounds?

You might notice that you are seasonally fat.  In the summer time when you and the kids are outside exercising (hiking, swimming, biking, running) obviously you shed a few pounds and it feels effortless because it’s fun.  It’s not a gym. It’s a natural, family centered thing to do for your body. Now you need your skinny pants. Winter rolls around.  If you’re the outdoor in the freezing weather type you may not have to wear fat pants ever, but like many of us if you freeze at the thought of freezing, you stay inside a lot and hit the gym maybe twice a week (stop lying).  Out come the fat pants.  So what? No bigee (pun).

It’s natural to gain and lose weight. It’s natural to live your life in cycles (you do anyway, Mother Nature is in charge of that). Ever thought about animal and plant life cycles? Talk about cyclical and circular.  And most of them need fat pants.  Look at bears.  They eat as much as they can stand before hibernation then settle down for a 5 – 7 month pseudo-hibernation (they don’t go into complete dormancy but that’s another blog entirely).  When they wake up they’ve lost zoodles of weight because their bodies have burn it all winter (wouldn’t you love that?) and they’ve given birth (wouldn’t you love that even more?) Now they need their skinny pants.

A woman’s hormonal cycle onto menopause works the same way. For some females 28 days makes a full menstrual cycle, for others it’s a week or so longer. You certainly go through fat pants when nature calls, dontcha? The circadian cycle, or the number of hours we humans have squeezed into what we call a “day” (24) leaving approximately 8 hours for sleep is all about cycles. So is getting hungry, getting sleepy, feeling fatigued depending on your food intake and lots of other stuff. Your body lives through cycles and unless you are training for a marathon it’s likely you wear skinny pants and fat pants. So what? You’re human, and a cyclical human at that. Now go have a slice of that scrumptious apple crumble (a slice) and remember to burn it off some time this week….tomorrow is another day.

May 25, 2011 Posted by | Animal Kingdom, Health and Wellness, Human Biology | , , , , , , | 2 Comments