The Age of Jellyfish

The age of men is over. The time of the jellyfish has come.

From Spain to Uruguay, reports of increases in the number of jellyfish showing up at beaches is commonplace. The effect on tourism in Spain this summer has been widely noted. Some have been calling it "the year of the jellyfish." 

It might be more correct to view this as the dawning of a new age. Say hello to the soon-to-be dominant life-form that replaces us.

Jellyfish are interesting creatures, from the immortal variety, to the lion's mane jellyfish which can reach 36.5 metres (120 ft) in length, to the Nomura's jellyfish that can weigh 200 kilograms (440 lb). 

Jellyfish Lake, located on Eil Malk island in Palau, has a deep water anoxic layer that is poisonous to snorkelers or divers, as the hydrogen sulfide toxin present at about 15 to 20 meters can be absorbed through the skin. Yet the two species of jellyfish that thrive there seem to have found a way to turn this 'zone of death' to their advantage.

The golden jellyfish, for example, rise to the surface of the lake by day, exposing the symbiotic algae that reside within them to sunlight, then descend to the depths by night. Hovering just above the deadly layer, the algae now benefit by absorbing nutrients from the hydrogen sulfide-tolerant bacteria that dwell there.

Hydrogen sulfide is known as a broad-spectrum toxin. It was used by the British as a chemical warfare agent in WWI, and has an effective lethality comparable to carbon monoxide or hydrogen cyanide.

It is an effective killer of plants and animals, and is considered a top contender for the cause of the Permian-Triassic extinction event  that occurred 252 million years ago.  Theoretically, slowing ocean currents and ocean mixing, already triggered by a warming climate, could result in a dynamic very similar to that of jellyfish lake.  In fact, oceanic hydrogen sulfide emissions have already been detected in various regions around the globe, and especially off the coast of Namibia.

The current abundance of jellyfish in the world's oceans may simply be part of a 20-year cycle of blooms and declines. Or, we just might want to ask ourselves what life forms will be likely to dominate the oceans of a dying world.


Spaz Angle: Dark Elf Army

The Greatest Power for Evil

I referenced this short film in an earlier post, but as the owner of a chaos dwarf army, I may have underestimated what I am up against.


Spaz Angle: Taser Update

"and a small Taser"

... because a five-round Taser shotgun just might not be enough.


Spaz Angle: Unofficial Cop Tasering Guidelines

Demeanor of individual –> recommended action

1. An imminent threat to himself or others = tase

2. Liable to turn violent = tase

3. Obviously whacked-out-of-his-mind on something = tase

4. Getting verbally abusive = tase

5. Not complying with orders = tase

6. Moving slowly and suspiciously = tase

7. Saying unintelligible things = tase

8. Being kind of a dick = tase

9. Givin’ ya the evil eye for past 30 seconds = tase

10. Not really sure what creepy thing he’s doing = tase

11. Did not seem to respond to first tasering = tase again

12. Still no? = tase again or ask buddy to tase also

13. Obviously going to commit suicide = tase

14. Walking dog improperly = tase

15. Running around outside naked = tase

16. Other cop who did that thing last month = tase

17. Dude says he’s got heart condition/pacemaker = tase (he’s lyin’)

18. Appears to be older than age six = tase

19. “Uppity” 86 year-old disabled grandmother = tase

20. Garlic Festival volunteer = brandish taser menacingly

21. Has his own taser = shoot

Officer Pleads Not Guilty To Weapon Charge

STAFF REPORTS, January 10, 2003

A Delray Beach police officer accused of improperly aiming his Taser weapon at a Garlic Festival volunteer has filed a plea of not guilty. Matthew Weiner, 25, was charged last month with one misdemeanor count of improper exhibition of a dangerous weapon stemming from an incident in November in which the officer was accused of pointing his department-issued Taser weapon at a volunteer. Weiner's attorney, Scott Richardson, filed a written plea of not guilty on Wednesday, waiving the officer's appearance in court for an arraignment Thursday.

Police review policy after Tasers used on kids...

November 15, 2004


Miami-Dade County Police are reviewing their policy on using Tasers after officers stunned two children with the weapons in the past few weeks.

Miami-Dade police planned to hold a news conference Monday to discuss the incidents and possible disciplinary action stemming from them. The names of both children were being withheld by CNN.

The Taser temporarily immobilizes someone from as far away as 21 feet with 50,000 volts of electricity.

The more recent of the two incidents occurred November 5, when a 12-year-old girl who was skipping school was found drinking and smoking in a swimming pool, Miami-Dade police officer William Nelson stated in an incident report. He said he responded to an anonymous call about the activities.

He said he told the girl he was taking her to school. As they walked to the police car, she ran away.

"I advised her to stop several times," he said in the report. She "continued running even to the point of starting to run into lanes of traffic."

Nelson said he used the Taser for his and the girl's safety, striking her in the base of the neck and lower right back.

The girl was released into her mother's custody and taken to a doctor.

"I couldn't breathe, and I was, like, nervous, and I was scared at the same time," the girl told CNN.

About two weeks earlier, a first-grader was shot with a Taser at school when he threatened to cut his leg with a piece of broken glass, authorities said. The boy's family said he vomited after the jolt.

"If there's three officers, it's nothing to tell a 6-year-old holding a glass, if you feel threatened, 'Hey, here's a piece of candy, hey, here's a toy. Let the glass go,'" the boy's mother told CNN.

Florida cop Tasers female colleague

By nonnie mouse

In December of last year, a Florida county deputy was caught on CCTV after shocking a colleague with a Taser at the Collier County jail in an incident meant to be a joke. A female deputy showed a message on her iPod to Corporal Wilmer A. Arencibia, who then chased the woman and shocked her on the behind with his Taser. The woman, Arencibia, and other colleagues who witnessed the event were shown on the recording as laughing.

Investigators found the incident rather less amusing. Arencibia admitted during an internal investigation that his actions were ‘a spur of the moment thing’ and acknowledged his behaviour was improper. He was reprimanded and given a final warning. Aside from any questions of sexual harassment, is it any wonder so many Taser incidents in the States end up in tragedies when cops are treating Tasers as toys?

Police Said to Taze Grandmother

Thursday, June 24, 2010


(CN) - Police Tasered an 86-year-old disabled grandma in her bed and stepped on her oxygen hose until she couldn't breathe, after her grandson called 911 seeking medical assistance, the woman and her grandson claim in Oklahoma City Federal Court. Though the grandson said, "Don't Taze my granny!" an El Reno police officer told another cop to "Taser her!" and wrote in his police report that he did so because the old woman "took a more aggressive posture in her bed," according to the complaint.
Lonnie Tinsley claims that he called 911 after he went to check on his grandmother, whom he found in her bed, "connected to a portable oxygen concentrator with a long hose." She is "in marginal health, [and] takes several prescribed medications daily," and "was unable to tell him exactly when she had taken her meds," so, Tinsley says, he called 911 "to ask for an emergency medical technician to come to her apartment to evaluate her."
In response, "as many as ten El Reno police" officers "pushed their way through the door," according to the complaint.
The grandma, Lona Varner, "told them to get out of her apartment."
The remarkable complaint continues: "Instead, the apparent leader of the police [defendant Thomas Duran] instructed another policeman to 'Taser her!' He stated in his report that the 86 year-old plaintiff 'took a more aggressive posture in her bed,' and that he was fearful for his safety and the safety of others.
"Lonnie Tinsley told them, 'Don't taze my Granny!' to which they responded that they would Taser him; instead, they pulled him out of her apartment, took him down to the floor, handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a police car.
"The police then proceeded to approach Ms. Varner in her bed and stepped on her oxygen hose until she began to suffer oxygen deprivation.
"The police then fired a Taser at her and only one wire struck her, in the left arm; the police then fired a second Taser, striking her to the right and left of the midline of her upper chest and applied high voltage, causing burns to her chest, extreme pain and to pass out.
"The police then grabbed Ms. Varner by her forearms and jerked hands together, causing her soft flesh to tear and bleed on her bed; they then handcuffed her.
"The police freed Lonnie Tinsley from his incarceration in the back of the police car and permitted him to accompany the ambulance with his grandmother."
Tinsley says the cops capped it all off by having his grandmother "placed in the psychiatric ward at the direction of the El Reno police; she was held there for six days and released."
"As a result of the wrongful arrest and detention, the plaintiff Lona M. Varner suffered the unlawful restraint of her freedom, bodily injury, assault, battery, the trashing of her apartment, humiliation, loss of personal dignity, infliction of emotional distress and medical bills."
They seek punitive damages for constitutional violations, from the City of El Reno, Duran, Officers Frank Tinga and Joseph Sandberg, and 10 Officers Does.
They are represented by Brian Dell of Oklahoma City.

Witnesses: Dog-walker tased by park ranger in Montara

Posted: Monday, January 30, 2012 1:00 pm | Updated: 9:48 pm, Mon Jan 30, 2012.

A National Parks ranger subdued a Montara resident with a Taser Sunday afternoon, arresting the man after an argument unfolded about walking his dog without a leash at the Rancho Corral de Tierra open space.

The incident occurred around 4:45 p.m. when the man was walking two dogs near the southern edge of McNee Ranch State Park. A ranger working for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area stopped the man for having one of his dogs off-leash, which is restricted in certain areas of the Rancho Corral property.

An escalating argument ensued, according to John Barlett, a nearby resident who was walking in the area. The dog-walker was "defiant," Barlett said, daring the ranger as he began walking away, "Are you going to arrest me?"

That's when the ranger pulled out her Taser, according to Barlett.

"Next thing I heard was what I thought was a pistol shot," Barlett said. "He let out a cry of agony as he fell on his back."

The man collapsed on the ground, and the ranger began shouting at him to turn over face down so she could handcuff him. It took "several" minutes before he could move, Barlett said.

By this time, a few witnesses had gathered around to watch. The man began shouting out his home address so that someone could take his dogs back there.

San Mateo County Sheriff's deputies and paramedics were called out to the scene, and the man was ultimately delivered to jail on unspecified charges.


Making Contact

In Twelve Years or Less

Just for a moment, imagine that all along the SETI researchers and astronomers were right. For years, signals of extra-terrestrial origin have been streaming through space, just waiting for us to discover them. The ET’s version of I Love Lucy has really been out there all along. Then, finally, after constructing an improved listening array, the SETI team at last proved its skeptics wrong, and the world now stands in awe of of perhaps the greatest discovery of all time: that we are not alone.

According to SETI lead astronomer Seth Shostak, we are likely on the verge of just such a moment. SETI has in fact been constructing a vastly imporved radio telescope, called the Allen Array (largely funded by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen.) The project is located in Hat Creek, California, 290 miles northeast of San Francisco, and is in the early stages of operation.

Thanks to the Allen Array, along with the unrelenting pace of development in computer processing power, SETI believes it is now embarking on an entirely new phase of its mission.

“I will bet all of you a cup of Starbucks that we will discover ET within ten to twelve years,” Shostak boldly proclaimed during a recent lecture at the Rochester Planetarium and Science Center.

Until now, the search has largely relied on data gathered at the Arecibo Observatory, the giant dish collector familiar to SETI@home users. Operated by Cornell University, in cooperation with the National Science Foundation, the observatory was designed as a general science instrument, not an alien detector, and SETI has only been able to “borrow” it when it isn’t being used for other studies. In recent years, the observatory has struggled to secure sufficient funding to remain operational.

Funding is always an issue for a project like SETI, which receives no government support. There is an argument to be made that Shostak’s “twelve years or less” claim is really an attention ploy meant to garner funding for the new listening array — but the presentation he makes to back up this claim is persuasive.

Shostak likens the task of finding ET to searching for a particular grain of sand hidden somewhere amongst all the grains of sand contained in all the beaches on Earth. Now imagine trying to carry out that task using a tool that was never designed for that purpose – say, a special sand shovel – but the shovel is getting old, there isn’t money to repair it, and you have to share it with other groups who are mainly focused on tasks unrelated to yours.

That time is over, Shostak believes, and the new tools at SETI’s disposal now move the project into a vastly different phase of it operation. “It’s really quite remarkable that only one hundred years after the development of radio we can do an experiment like this. And it is an experiment. Up till now we haven’t found anything. We haven’t found pond scum.”

And Shostak points out that another extraordinary instrument is coming on line to aid in the search, namely the Kepler Observatory. Kepler is a spacecraft specifically designed by NASA to find small planets (Earth-sized worlds, for example, rather than Jupiter-sized ones) which up until recently had been a virtually impossible task.

During his lecture, Shostak rightly predicted that NASA would soon be making an announcement about Kepler's discovery of any number of small planets over the coming months.

To date, Kepler has in fact recorded the discovery of 1,235 planets, 54 of which may be in "habitable zone" of their star systems. It is a tantalizing prospect that just one of those 54 could be a life-bearing world.

Sometime within the next decade or so, just maybe one of these new discoveries will be giving us all something to listen to.