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Science Idle

Thousands of Blackbirds Fall From Sky Dead 577

Posted by samzenpus
from the silent-spring dept.
Dan East writes "In a fashion worthy of a King or Hitchcock novel, blackbirds began to fall from the sky dead in Arkansas yesterday. Somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 birds rained down on the small town of Beeb, Arkansas, with no visible trauma. Officials are making wild guesses as to what happened — lightning strike, high-altitude hail, or perhaps trauma from the sound of New Year's fireworks killed them."
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Thousands of Blackbirds Fall From Sky Dead

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  • by NoSig (1919688) on Monday January 03, 2011 @03:04AM (#34741686)
    Quantum mechanics is proof beyond any reasonable criterion that science can be brought around to a good idea no matter how weird it is. It just takes time and evidence, and so it should be.
  • Re:fools (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yeshuawatso (1774190) on Monday January 03, 2011 @03:16AM (#34741714) Journal

    I live close to the area where the Drum Fish were found (Fort Smith) and these two events seem to be rare coincidences and nothing more. Weather definitely isn't on the list as the recent tornado, also relatively close by by car, occurred a half a week ago. Unless the tornado (which occurred no where near the Arkansas river) swept up some diseased Drum fish, threw them in the river 50 40 miles away, which spread the disease to the other fish, that the birds ate and died of food poisoning while in mid-flight, weather is not likely to be the cause. We're in a cold front now with no real warm air around, and we normally don't see snow until February, so lightning, hail and other precipitation can be ruled out too.

    This past week has just been wonky for Arkansas. Our weather is on the fritz and can't decide to be warm or cold yet. We've got a crap load of dead fish along an already smelly river bank that other states dump in, and now the left over dead birds from Angry Birds are being dumped here too. What sucks about the whole thing is that media outlets, with nothing better to do but create conspiracy theories, will be broadcasting the most redneck, hick, uneducated person they can find to provide a take as to what they "think" is happening to represent the entire state and populous, instead of sticking to scientific conclusions.

  • by Galactic Dominator (944134) on Monday January 03, 2011 @04:29AM (#34741916)

    I'm not saying you're wrong, but a link or some further evidence of micro-tornadoes would surely be in order.

    I imagine someone coming across the frozen tundra and the corpse on it could easily reach a similar conclusion, even though the person may have died from some type of sudden onset failure like a brain aneurysm. Having been in northern climates, I'm having a bit of trouble swallowing these invisible micro tornadoes because much of the surface is covered with loose material like powder snow, dust, and exposed dry, decayed vegetation.

  • by Lorens (597774) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:15AM (#34742048) Journal

    Why would someone ever *choose* to live in such an environment? *shivers*

    Nobody said it was a choice. In most of the world, you live and die where you were born.

  • by BeanThere (28381) on Monday January 03, 2011 @05:37AM (#34742118)

    If everyone stopped eating meat today, they would have to immediately slaughter billions of cows, chickens, pigs, sheep etc. as the market as every day keeping them alive would be just sinking money for nothing. Nice short-term outcome, is that what you want? Then rather than saving these animals, the majority would cease to exist, as one of the main reasons we keep them is for their meat. It would also cause the price of products like dairy to skyrocket, it may even become totally uneconomical, in which case rather than saving these animals, you may just drive them extinct. These animals are domesticated, it's not going to be like a Disney movie where they are all freed into the wild to survive happy and free on their own, they don't have survival skills - we keep them alive. The trade is really that they get to exist at all, and we get to eat them.

    I'm all for non-cruel livestock raising methods but ceasing to eat meat is completely illogical, it doesn't do anything to solve that problem at all, in fact it may exacerbate it, since by stressing the market for meat products you directly put pressure on farmers to cut corners price-wise. There are better ways to solve that problem; lobbying for regulation and enforcement, raise public awareness, and selective boycotting - e.g. name and shame the worst farms. These methods have done huge amounts to help improve farming conditions for animals.

  • by blue trane (110704) on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:01AM (#34742196) Homepage Journal

    Reduce the harm. Stop buying as much meat, then wean yourself altogether. Maybe the animals as you say are happy to make the trade-off but until we're sure and give each one the choice we shouldn't assume. The same economic arguments were used against freeing slaves but the predictions didn't come true. Technology provided a better way of picking cotton and in the same way technology will give us meat without brains or nerves, let us focus on accelerating progress towards that goal!

  • by pcermomb (1525113) on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:57AM (#34742334)

    If everyone stopped eating meat today, they would have to immediately slaughter billions of cows, chickens, pigs, sheep etc. as the market as every day keeping them alive would be just sinking money for nothing. Nice short-term outcome, is that what you want?

    No. But, if everyone stops eating meat(Not necessarily immediately, may be by gradually reducing the consumption), very soon, there would be no more factory farming.

    Then rather than saving these animals, the majority would cease to exist, as one of the main reasons we keep them is for their meat.

    How are we dealing with the endangered species ? By starting to eat them ? No, right ? We will deal with the currently domesticated species, the same way.

    It would also cause the price of products like dairy to skyrocket, it may even become totally uneconomical,

    Veganism is an option. Even otherwise, the price of dairy products needn't necessarily skyrocket. First of all, if we decide that dependence on/exploitation of animals is NOT an option, then, we CAN find ways.

    The trade is really that they get to exist at all, and we get to eat them.

    A few species going extinct is much better than letting them stay around and suffer for generations to come.

  • Re:Lead Dust? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 03, 2011 @06:57AM (#34742338)

    I think falling hundreds of feet out of the sky would cause trauma.

  • by Schadrach (1042952) on Monday January 03, 2011 @07:36AM (#34742452)

    So, we'll keep a couple of pigs and cows in zoo pens to be gawked at, and the remainder will die off because they can't effectively survive in the wild because we've bred them for thousands of years to be large, tasty, and easy to kill?

    Also, as a side note, you don't see something inherently unnatural about a diet that requires you to take nutritional supplements just to be in something resembling normal health?

  • Re:FlashForward (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThePromenader (878501) on Monday January 03, 2011 @08:09AM (#34742548) Homepage Journal

    What he didn't predict was that, thanks to this 'disaster', we could make one big *$%&*$ blackbird pie.

  • by rainmouse (1784278) on Monday January 03, 2011 @08:25AM (#34742606)

    ... in which case rather than saving these animals, you may just drive them extinct. These animals are domesticated, it's not going to be like a Disney movie where they are all freed into the wild to survive happy and free on their own, they don't have survival skills - we keep them alive. The trade is really that they get to exist at all, and we get to eat them.

    I cannot believe this nonsense gets voted up to 5. Cows and chickens extinct because we stop eating them? Have you never heard of eggs and milk? Why does some peoples personal choice not to eat meat get you so angry? As for exacerbating the market by eating less meat forcing farmers to cut corners? Actually the stress put on farmers currently which forces them already to cut so many corners is supermarket domination forcing them to sell their product for the barest survivable profit. The centre of your argument is that if we eat less meat, less of them would be reared for the slaughter and you somehow manage to imply this would be a bad thing? You seem to imply that a short cramped life waist deep in your own excrement while fed on growth hormones (that cause all kinds of terrible issues) then butchered as early as possible is something they should be thankful for? I am no vegetarian but I can see why some people choose to be, especially considering the long term effects of growth hormone and antibiotic raised meat is largely unknown on humans at this time.

  • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <.almafuerte. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday January 03, 2011 @08:29AM (#34742618)

    Ok, either you are a very successful troll, or a very stupid person. I really can't tell ... and I'm good at this.

    Anyway, if you are a troll, congratulations, you've done an amazing job today. puddi, puddi, puddi.

    Now, if you aren't ... What the hell are you talking about? Giving cows a chance? Are you fucking stupid?

    Look, there is NO GOD, there is just nature. And by the mere fact that we are here, I can tell you for sure 2 things: There's been some fucking and some eating going on here for a LONG TIME. That's something that I never understood. That's an animals life: You are born, you grow and survive as long as you can, try to reproduce, and then die. Most of the time, you get eaten. It's very rare to see in nature animals that die of old age. It just doesn't happen that much outside of humans and human's pets. Long before any animal can die of old age, it becomes older and slower, and gets eaten. Why is it wrong or unnatural for us to just do the same? Do you have any idea of how many animals have lived and died since life evolved on earth?

    But nobody said it better than old good George. I was going to redact this piece a little, but I can't do that to this awesome piece, so here it is, in whole:

    "'My God has a bigger dick than your God!' That's how it is, isn't it? Thousands of years, and all the best wars too, the bloodiest, most brutal wars fought all based on religious hatred, which is fine with me. Anytime a bunch of holy people want to kill each other, I'm a happy guy. But don't be giving me all this shit about the sanctity of life. I mean, even if there were such a thing, I don't think it's something you can blame on God. No, you know where the sanctity of life came from? We made it up! You know why? Cause we're alive! Self-interest. Living people have a strong interest in promoting the idea that somehow life is sacred. You don't see Abbott and Costello running around, talking about this shit, do you? We're not hearing a whole lot from Mussolini on the subject. What's the latest from JFK? Not a god damned thing, cause JFK, Mussolini, and Abbott and Costello are fucking dead. They're fucking dead, and dead people give less than a shit about the sanctity of life. Only living people care about it, so the whole thing grows out of a completely biased point of view. It's a self-serving, man-made bullshit story. It's one of these things we tell ourselves so we'll feel noble. Life is sacred, makes you feel noble.

    Well let me ask you this, if everything that ever lived is dead, and everything alive is going to die, where does the sacred part come in? I'm having trouble with that. Because even with the stuff we preach about the sanctity of life, we don't practice it. Look at what we kill. Mosquitos and flies, because they're pests! Lions and tigers, because it's fun! Chickens and pigs, because we're hungry. Pheasants and quail, because it's fun, and we're hungry. And people! We kill people, because they're pests... and it's fun!

    And you might have noticed something else, the sanctity of life doesn't seem to apply to cancer cells, does it? You never see a bumpersticker that says 'save the tumors' or 'I brake for advanced melanoma.' No, viruses, mold, mildew, maggots, fungus, weeds, e. coli bacteria, the crabs, nothing sacred about those things. So at best, the sanctity of life is kind of a selective thing. We get to choose which forms of life we feel are sacred, and we get to kill the rest. Pretty neat deal, huh? You know how we got it? We made the whole fucking thing up! Made it up, the same way we made up the death penalty. We made them both up, the sanctity of life and the death penalty. Aren't we versatile?".

    Learn something from that magnificent old fuck. Eat a stake tonight, stop trying so hard to be holier than thou.

  • by The End Of Days (1243248) on Monday January 03, 2011 @08:43AM (#34742672)

    It's not the personal choice that annoys me, it's the evangelism. Good for you and how you choose to live. Leave me out of it.

    That also goes for your gods, your software licenses, your sexual proclivities, and everything else you really think I need to do because you like it so much.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Monday January 03, 2011 @08:46AM (#34742686) Homepage Journal

    As long as the animal lives and dies humanely, it's fine to eat it.

    Wot, in bed at a hospital with its loved ones present and offering false encouragement while calculating inheritance? Or in car crashes?

    The natural ways for prey animals to die are from starvation, being caught and butchered by predators, or by disease. I personally prefer that we use unnatural and inhumane methods, like shooting a spike into their brains.

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Monday January 03, 2011 @09:43AM (#34742974) Journal

    There are millions or billions of healthy vegatarians.

    "Billions" would be at least 14% of the earth and really at least 25% since we have almost 7 billion people as of yet on this planet.

    Most people who try veganism get horribly sick and wind up being pescapalian (they eat fish) or they only eat chicken. Almost every vegetarian I know eats things like chicken ceaser salad/wrap/whatever because they need the meat; they won't touch red meat. Me, I can't go without meat for a week without my immune system failing; after a few days I lose my ability to heal (seriously, not only don't wounds heal, but the skin will start to deteriorate and form sores of its own accord).

    The fact remains that spiders kill bugs, eagles tear animals apart while they're alive, etc. World isn't a happy place with Obama riding a flying unicorn with a rainbow coming out of its ass.

  • by rainmouse (1784278) on Monday January 03, 2011 @10:28AM (#34743288)

    Good for you and how you choose to live. Leave me out of it.

    That also goes for your gods, your software licenses, your sexual proclivities, and everything else you really think I need to do because you like it so much.

    Is it really evangelising when your replying to an over-rated and factually incorrect rant? Or did you just glance at it without reading, take what I said out of context and slap on a ready baked crowd pleaser quote that could have been straight from any random day time talk show.

  • by Veggiesama (1203068) on Monday January 03, 2011 @12:20PM (#34744356)

    I think you missed the GP's point. Plenty of atheists/agnostics are vegetarians/vegans. You don't have to believe in God or the supernatural to believe that unnecessary suffering, to humans or animals, is wrong.

    "But animals eat other animals, so it's natural!"

    If eating meat is natural because animals do it (and if something that's "natural" is also "good"), then rape, incest, and shitting in the same river that you drink from would be just as tolerable. However, our highly evolved brains allow us to circumvent Nature's cruel impulses with reason and empathy. We can use science to figure out that shitting in the river is a great way to spread disease, and we can use empathy to understand that raping your co-worker after the Christmas party wouldn't be quite as fun for the co-worker as it would be for you.

    Nature, "red in tooth and claw", is both cruel and amoral. However, there is no reason why we have to be like Nature.

    To paraphrase Richard Dawkins: our genes gave us our brains, but our brains have the power to subvert the will of our genes.

    "Why care about chickens and pigs when we don't give a shit about mosquitos, fungi, and cancer cells?"

    While I adore George Carlin, I think he's slightly off the mark here. We care about chickens, pigs, cows, dolphins, etc. because they are mammals and birds. They possess complex nervous systems that can sense pain, adapt to their surroundings, and protect their kin. Most can learn, socialize, and even dream. In other words, they're a lot like us.

    If I cut the limb off a tree, I know it won't scream. It doesn't feel pain, because it's not equipped with an apparatus to sense pain. Why should it? Pain is a response to external threats, designed by evolution to rescue a creature from something that could destroy it. Pain teaches me not to touch the hot stove again, and the simple idea of pain is powerful enough to make me flee from hungry wolves, even if they haven't nipped me yet. A tree has already prepared its defenses: a thick coat of armor against predators, and waxy, water-resistant leaves for storms. If a tree is in danger, it can't fight or run away. It just sits there. A tree that could sense pain would be the product of cruel and wasteful design, indeed.

    Do mosquitos and flesh-eating bacteria sense pain? I don't know, but I'd guess they experience some limited form. Even so, I do know that, as parasites, they are quite a nuisance. The amount of suffering/pain/disease they inflict on more complex life forms far outweighs the amount of suffering I might inflict by killing them.

    Keep in mind, death != suffering. The Humane Society puts stray dogs and cats to sleep because letting them run free or starve is more hazardous and painful than allowing them a peaceful release.

    --

    Anyway, I'm starting to ramble, so I'll be quick with my final point: the GP asked to limit your meat consumption gradually because it is impractical and uneconomical for society to stop all at once. Buy meat from animals that have had their suffering reduced to minimal levels. Only you can create the demand for such products, because you have the choice. Eventually, forgoing all meat would make the vegetarian groups happy, but they are willing to compromise with reduced levels.

    One day the technology may exist for us to "grow" our own meat without a brain or nervous system that has to sense pain and suffer. We might design our meat without gristle and bone, concentrating on the most tender and delicious cuts. It might even be cheaper than growing real meat the old-fashioned way. At that point, many will finally consider it unequivocally immoral to kill animals for food (barring famine). Much like how we see slavery today, they will look back at our ancestors and ask how an entire civilization could exist that engaged in the wholesale slaughter of innocent life, pumped through factory farms and made to sleep in its own filth at night.

    Because meat tasted good? What the fuck?

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