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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Toba Catastrophe

What I find is wild is Stephen J. Gould's idea that evolution is like a battlefield: long periods of boredom followed by periods of panic and action. Just 75,000 years ago, homo sapien's breeding pool was knocked down to 1,000 to 10,000 people. This created a genetic bottleneck. Also, all of the race's came from diversification after this event. More interesting: some of the pre-cursor species (H. ergaster, H. erectus, and possibly H. floresiensis., etc.) could have existed upto this time. If the Toba Catastrophe happened just 75,000 years ago, that's really recent. It underlines that evolution is fluid and it can flow fast. With the current environmental stresses, we could be entering into an evolutionary bloom of new species (or die off of the unviable-- I'm looking at your, Mr. Tibetan Suicide Monkey).

My inner geek thinks about the BSG idea of reducing a population to very few survivors. Or the Lord of the Rings idea that Middle Earth existed in our far past. Or the idea that we came to the level of swords and sandals inside of 10,000 of discoveries. Could the populations and species of pre-Toba Earth lived together in a wild dynamic (savage Homo Erectus infested lands vs. Neanderthal and Homo Sapien tribes or villages)? With almost all of the genetic diversity still intact, what did these Homo Sapiens look like after millenia of diversification before their lines were cut short? What social organizations did they form? Our models have been handed down from small pools of survivors-- did these pre-Toba people have something better that was wiped out by a mega-volcano?

I can't believe I didn't hear about this theory until I read this Wikipedia article.

Within the last three to five million years, after human and other ape lineages diverged from the hominid stem-line, the human line produced a variety of species, including Homo habilis, H. ergaster, H. erectus, H. neanderthalensis, H. sapiens, and possibly H. floresiensis.

According to the Toba catastrophe theory, the consequences of a massive volcanic eruption drove the world's human population to the brink of extinction between 70,000–75,000 years ago when the Toba caldera in Indonesia underwent an eruption of category 8 (or "mega-colossal") on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. This released energy equivalent to about 1 gigaton of TNT (4.2 EJ), about three thousand times greater than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens,[5] and forty times greater than the largest human-made explosion, the October 30, 1961 detonation of the Soviet Union's Tsar Bomba thermonuclear device. It is hypothesized that the Toba explosion may have reduced the average global temperature by 3–5 °C (5–9 °F) for several years and triggered an ice age.[5] According to Alan Robock et al.,[4] the Toba incident did not initiate an ice age, but rather exacerbated an ice age that had already been underway. The simulations demonstrated a maximum global cooling down of around 15 °C, approximately 3 years after the eruption (6 Gt SO2/ 300 × 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption). As the saturated adiabatic lapse rate is 4.9 °C/ 1,000 m for temperatures above freezing,[6] this means that the Tree line and the Snow line were around 3,000 m (9,000 ft) lower at this time. Nevertheless, the climate recovered over a few decades.

Ambrose proposes that this massive environmental change created population bottlenecks in the species that existed at the time; this in turn accelerated differentiation of the isolated human populations, eventually leading to the extinction of all the other human species except for the two branches that became Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) and modern humans (Homo sapiens).[2] More recently several geneticists, including Lynn Jorde and Henry Harpending have proposed that the human race was reduced to approximately five to ten thousand people.[7]


Some geological evidence and computed models support the plausibility of the Toba catastrophe theory. Ashes from this eruption of Lake Toba, located near the equator, should have spread all over the world.[citation needed] While the Greenland ice core data displays an abrupt change around this time,[8] changes in the corresponding Antarctic data are not easily discernible.

Genetic evidence suggests that all humans alive today, despite apparent variety, are descended from a very small population, perhaps between 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs about 70,000 years ago.[2][9]

Gene analysis of some genes shows divergence anywhere from 60,000 to 2 million years ago, but this does not contradict the Toba theory, once again because Toba is not conjectured to be an extreme bottleneck event. The complete picture of gene lineages (including present-day levels of human genetic variation) allows the theory of a Toba-induced human population bottleneck.[10]

Recent work by archaeologist Michael Petraglia suggests that in fact modern humans survived relatively unscathed in at least one settlement in India.[11][12]

Analysis of louse genes

Alan Rogers, a co-author of this study and professor of anthropology at the University of Utah, says: “The record of our past is written in our parasites.” Rogers and others have proposed the bottleneck may have occurred because of a mass die-off of early humans due to a globally catastrophic volcanic eruption. The analysis of louse genes confirmed that the population of Homo sapiens mushroomed after a small band of early humans left Africa sometime between 150,000 and 50,000 years ago.[13]

Analysis of Helicobacter pylori genes

Recent research states that genetic diversity in the pathogenic bacterium Helicobacter pylori decreases with geographic distance from East Africa, the birthplace of modern humans. Using the genetic diversity data, the researchers have created simulations that indicate the bacteria seems to have spread from East Africa around 58,000 years ago. Their results indicate modern humans were already infected by H. pylori before their migrations out of Africa, and H. pylori remained associated with human hosts since that time.[14]

Migration after Toba

It is currently not known where human populations were living at the time of the eruption. The simplest scenario would be that all the survivors were populations living in Africa, whose descendants would go on to populate the world. However, recent archeological finds, mentioned above, have suggested that a human population may have survived in India. Dating of early human migrations cannot yet give a conclusive answer to this question. Recent analyses of mitochondrial DNA have set the estimate for the major migration from Africa to 60–70,000 years ago,[15] whereas the Toba eruption has been dated to 67,500–75,500 years ago. Either from Africa or from South Asia, during the next tens of thousands of years the surviving populations would populate Australia, East Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's not a Schwa-- it's a monorail for bikes

This from

I'm still waiting for the day when humans navigate cities by being sucked through pneumatic tubes. But in the meantime, New Zealand's bicycle-monorail mash-up, known as the Shweeb, might be the next best thing.

The Shweeb is a human-powered transit system that employs a recumbent cycle to move a clear passenger tube along a rail. Currently, the only operating Shweeb is located Agroventures Adventure Park in Rotura, New Zealand, where for $45, you and your friends can engage in Shweeb racing. But the inventors believe the Shweeb has possibilities beyond being an amusement park ride, and that it might just revolutionize your daily commute:

Our proposal to get you safely and quickly from one point in the city to another would be to elevate you onto a network of interconnected monorails where you never have to stop at traffic lights. The ideal vehicle for such a system already exists. Fully faired recumbent cycles, because of their low aerodynamic resistance, are breaking all bicycle speed records and currently reaching speeds of 90 kph (56 mph) in sprints. Suspending these comfortable and highly efficient machines from monorail tracks has the added advantage of taking away the rolling resistance of pneumatic tyres. Trains of Shweebs can further reduce the aero drag – ten people travelling at 40 kph will each have a lot less work to do than a single rider at the same speed. A single rider requires only a fraction of the energy to achieve the same speed as a normal cyclist – thanks to the significant reductions in both aero drag and tire friction. The vehicle is completely weatherproof, you can't derail or fall out while on the cellphone or blackberry!

I continue think that New Zealand is AWESOME.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Monday! - NSFW videos

A collection of ads from Europe. Combine non-English with cleverness and voila! NSFW ads on European TV:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Conserve Water If You're Not In The Government

Are you curious who has to shoulder the burden of water conservation in the CRD? If you're a home owner, you're limited to a small amount for lawn care. If you're a public authority or considered as such, you don't have to be so thrifty:

The Capital Regional District Water Conservation Bylaw No. 1, 2003 (Bylaw 3061), allows operations classified as a Public Authority "may water lawns and Boulevards on any day, but no more than two days per week". Due to the extensive grounds they have a multitude of zones and so it may appear to the public that they are watering all of the time. As with any large facility, it can be difficult to water the entire grounds in one cycle and keep exclusively between the schedules hours of 4-10 am and 7-10 pm, as described in the Stage 1 Watering Schedule.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vennison En Route

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
It looks like the neighbour has some vennison bait... mmmm...

Zombie Lawn Ornaments

Have your very own Zombie Lawn Ornament! Worry neighbours, scare off rabbits, twist children and most of all, decorate your lawn!
Get yours today!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Craigslist Culling

So I wonder if this post: is for these guys: (secondary link -- psst, guys: if you're IT, you need a website or some SEO).
If so, I have to think that this is what Equity gets you.

It could be for these guys: ("website"). Again: same rule as above. Step one of a web company: have a web site-- something, anything-- even a "coming soon". Step two: get office space.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quick Thought on Tanning Beds

On the same day they ban trans-fats can they roll in legislation to ban tanning beds? Hit both sides of the bell curve and prevent both segments from hurting themselves.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cross this Hotel Off Of Your Olympic Trip Planner

Below is a moment from Vancouver's Eastside. What I like is how chaotic this scene must have been -- people bleeding and fighting. A woman takes off down the stairs on a bicycle only to get it jammed in a door frame.

On our last trip into Vancouver we accidentally went through the Downtown Eastside. It wasn't surprising, but it was amazing. Wifey's favorite was a guy at a bus stop who had pieces of bread in front of him as he spoke tenderly to one special bun in his hands:

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Vancouver police say a woman is in serious condition after being attacked by a man wielding a machete.

Const. Jana McGuinness said Thursday that the 39-year-old woman had major surgery after the machete sliced through her shoulder and into her collarbone.

McGuinness said the attacker went after the woman after he'd been slashed in the forehead in an altercation with someone else in The Arco, a hotel near the Downtown Eastside on Monday night. The Arco is a single-room-occupancy hotel purchased by B.C. Housing to house for the homeless.

The man was bleeding heavily when he picked up a machete and began chasing two women through the hallway, McGuinness said.

When a third woman heard the commotion, she grabbed a bicycle and tried to flee down a staircase.

"The bicycle became lodged in a door frame between the second and first floor and that's when the man raised the machete for an overhead strike," McGuinness said in a news release.

"The attacker continued down to the first floor in pursuit of the other women but soon returned to his room when they could not be found."

The injured woman made her way down to the front desk and called 911.

Melvin Lee Carothers, the 58-year-old man, who is known to police, was treated in hospital before being taken to jail, McGuinness said.

He has been charged with one count of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon.

McGuiness said several witnesses have refused to co-operate with police.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Michael Jackson Stages Getaway!


America prepares to get flavor saved

These are amusing videos because of how much rancor they've drawn in their comments sections. Is America preparing for a plague? Are they ready for The End in 2012? I have a different thought: these are LARGE containers. I think after Labour Day, FEMA is going to twist their legislation and then have all of the really fat people in America killed then stuff their chubby carcasses into these big Rubbermaid bins and bury them. I applaud FEMA for its forward thinking: in 60 million years these former fatsos will be fossil fuels for the insectoid overlords who will have overtaken the world by then. This is also long term planning on the part of the Republicans. No? What party do you think insectoids would vote for?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Live Tweets from Michael Jackson Funeral

12:33PM PST: OMG: MJ is rising from his casket!
12:41PM PST: HOLY: The troops are trying to keep MJ at bay with flamethrowers. He's unstoppable!
12:45PM PST:
Thank God! Obama has just dropped in from Marine-1 with a 50-cal firing silver tipped bullets!
12:46PM PST: Obama just shot LaToya! The crowd is cheering!

Now that's a funeral!

Funny Connect-The-Dots Moment

I like to cruise around the local Craigslist. I saw this post:

When was the last time you were genuinely excited about the HIGH ENERGY and GROWTH POTENTIAL of your workplace?

Web Designer (In House)

Start Date: July, 2009

Detail: Full Time Position, 40 hours per week

Career opportunity now available as in-house Web Designer in extremely successful, growing support services company in the fast-paced internet marketing industry, based in Victoria. The successful candidate must have prior success in standards based HTML and CSS. You must have solid graphic design skills, which include active experience with Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Exceptional organizational and interpersonal skills, and a working knowledge of Internet trends and technologies are helpful.


1) This position is 100% web media - if your talent/experience is with print media please do not apply for this position;

2) This is an in-house position - if you are interested in telecommuting or contract work please do not apply for this position;

3) Our web designers must complete their own front end coding of their websites - if you are not experienced and confident in performing your own CSS coding please do not apply for this position;

4) You must have prior experience and a portfolio of previous web design work to present to us - if you are a recent graduate and do not have prior experience and a portfolio of previous web design work to present to us please do not apply for this position;

Competitive initial Base Salary (DOE) plus Bonus Plan and Solid Benefits Plan, including Medical, Dental and Paid Vacation.

**Please do not submit a resume. Please call Andrew MacKay at 250-412-8455 between 10:00 am to 2:00 pm Monday to Friday if you are interested in this employment opportunity.

The whole "please do not sumbit a resume" seemed a little odd. So I Googled the phone number. The number is behind a whole host of Hair Loss and Marketing sites.

According to the "legitimate" records, the business empire who wants you to work for them, but doesn't want your resume, is at:
Tel: (250) 412-8455.
Fax: (250) 383-0896.
Suite 100 - 645 Tyee Road
Victoria, British Columbia Canada
V9A 6X5

- or -

could they be behind a mail drop and a porn company connected to "Geoff MacKay"?

Box 2114
Sidney, BC
V8L 3S6

I quote it because I doubt it. Some companies will invent staffers and bloat the size of their business. Pete will be the salesperson you talk to. If Pete makes an agressive/illegal offer and you call him on it, Pete may be fired and then Brad will work out a deal that colors inside the lines. If Brad can't live-up to the deal, his manager, David, will fire him. Then, you're onto Steve. I know: one pack of weasels did this dance until I threatened to subpoena the staffer in question should things go to court. Another place I worked at advertised their offices and their 20+ staff. Somehow their 20 staff filled nine desks. Go figure.

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