Iraqi Officials to Kill Zoo Animals to Protect Against Swine Flu

250px-wild_boar_habbitat_3In an example of colossal stupidity, Iraqi officials have called for the killing of the three wild boars in the Baghdad zoo to protect the country against swine flu. This comes on the heals of the Egyptian government moving to kill every pig in the country despite the lack of any evidence that it would help prevent the virus, which passes from human to human.


The Iraqis seem to blame the eating of pork, an emerging view among some Muslim clerics. Regional health minister Abdul Rahman Osman said “It is also possible the disease could be spread by eating pork, so we banned hunting wild boars.”

In the meantime, the Egyptian plan to kill every pigs in the country adopts an almost biblical approach to health care. Various groups have ridiculed the measure as unconnected to any scientific basis.
For the full story, click here.

82 thoughts on “Iraqi Officials to Kill Zoo Animals to Protect Against Swine Flu”

  1. CEJ, welcome! May 5 to 8 drinking Margaritas. Even if not full-time your stamina is formidable! Good on you. Considering your posting of that lovely James Taylor song I will arbitrarily designate one of your Margaritas as a toast to my 30-something year wedding anniversary.

    When the better half and I married it was not only on Cinco de Mayo but Kentucky Derby day fell on May 5th that year! The symbolism of being married on a day of massive celebration and gambling was lost on me at the time but I get a giggle out of it now. As if that wasn’t ‘mystical’ enough our birthdays are 8-28-48 and 7-27-47 😉

    “Now the thing about time is that time
    Isn’t really real
    It’s just your point of view…”

    That could be a song lyric or a statement of the (actual) prevailing theory. Hummm, you should have jumped in sooner, don’t wait so long next time 😉

  2. Bron98:

    Not all are tannic tasting but most have the bite. I would suggest you head over to your local wine shop and attend a tasting. Ask lots of questions. The staff at ours here in Richmond love to explain the varieties and have incredible knowledge of the differing tastes. It really is a “to each his own” world. I enjoy some merlots and an occasional cab, but I usually stick to the whites with dinner since they aren’t so heavy. To answer you directly I would try a light-bodied Beaujolais Nouveau from Louis Jadot or some vintner like that.

  3. Mespo:

    from previous posts I know that you like wine and I will assume you to be knowledgable about the subject. So the question is why do all red wines I have ever tried, taste so bitter/tannic? Is it my palet or am I just not picking the right bottle? I have tasted many wines and about 98% are this way. I have had a couple that were not and price does not seem to matter. Can you suggest a couple or am I a hopeless case? [strictly from a wine stand point, no pot shots please.] I am not a fan of whites as I like the robustness of the reds.

  4. You know CEJ I thought you were a lady from the outset. Don’t know why. Probably just the thoughtfulness of your comments and the syntax. Anyway glad you decided to fill us in. Keep posting here at our little lyceum.

  5. Yikes! The moment past; wasted not pasted.
    Oh and I don’t really drink that often but it was a holiday!

  6. Hi All,

    What a profound thread this post has turn into; thank-you for all the recommended reading. When discussions arise about what is reality, time, perception, self and such…I feel a desire to be more open.

    I wonder if I would ever be as comfortable as Mike S. seems to be in revealing his authentic self. Many months ago FFLEO directly asked me my gender and joked how he needed to know as he geared his replies accordingly. I didn’t answer because I did not want a filter applied. Since then I’ve felt that somehow I missed the proper opportunity to introduce myself. The moment pasted and I’m probably the only one who is conscious of the few “facts” I’ve revealed about myself. Having read you all for months before venturing to comment I felt as if I knew you and I have grown fond of many; so it’s no great revelation but I am a woman; and that’s a start anyway.

    Thank-you Mespo, Faith Hill’s “The Secret of Life” was a very apropos pick for JT’s cyber bar and the lyrics “A couple of guys sitting around drinking…” encouraged my opening up.

    Well that and the Margaritas I’ve been drinking since Cinco de Mayo! I’m way off topic; which was what again… Oh yes! Flu!
    which makes me think of Mexico; and way down there you need a reason to go; and James Taylor; and…

    “The Secret of Life”

    The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time
    Any fool can do it
    There ain’t nothing to it
    Nobody knows how we got to
    The top of the hill
    But since were on our way down
    We might as well enjoy the ride

    The secret of life is in opening up your heart
    It’s okay to feel afraid
    But don’t let that stand in your way
    Cause anyone knows that love is the only road
    And since were only here for a while
    Might as well show some style
    Give us a smile

    Isn’t it a lovely day
    Sliding down
    Gliding down
    Try not to try to hard
    Its just a lovely ride

    Now the thing about time is that time
    Isn’t really real
    It’s just your point of view
    How does it feel for you
    Einstein said he could never understand it all
    Planets spinning in space
    The smile upon your face
    Welcome to the Human Race….some kind of lovely ride!

  7. Bron & Buddha, wow.

    This is a matter I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately and my thoughts are still unsettled, far too unsettled and ill informed to jump into a detailed discussion beyond a few generalities. I’m in agreement generally with Buddha because I have read enough to know his understanding of the theories is square with the results of the experiments and consistent with the generally accepted theories I’ve read about over the last couple of years. I assume the math is correct and respect the scientific method so the conclusions, no matter how counter-intuitive require my deference.

    I simply don’t have the vocabulary to express my own incipient take on the matter adequately but I don’t see any conflict between the views held by both of you because they are both aspects of the same mechanism. It’s not a stretch for me to see the universe of a self-organized system that evolved ‘parts’ like us (and the probable billions of other sentient critters) to fill some need, self examination possibly the least of it. I love the idea of the universe being a self-organized, intelligent system. Thank you for bring that up Buddha.

    My contention is that if anything, we are limited to only the universe we participate in the formulation of because we are limited to our sensory and intellectual perceptions and can only access 3 dimensions due to our physical configuration. These are physical limitations that blind us to a complete view of what does actually exist. What we call an objective universe may well be those aspects that look the same to a major number of the creature species (scattered across the universe) that examine it and influence it; literally a consensus of what the universe is. Everything else is relegated to dimensions occupied by the specific creatures doing the viewing and influencing or perceived imperfectly due to the limited number of dimensions accessible to those creatures.

    It is not controversial to me (or to the science as I understand it) to think that what we call an objective universe is simply a universe constructed by critters that evolved elsewhere at some other time but that had enough shared physical and intellectual traits with us that we access some of the same dimensions.

    Or something like that. Or not. 😉

  8. Mespo: “I have heard viruses may be the catalyst of life,…”

    That struck a chord and I went searching for where I first heard of the possibility. I heard it in connection with the Gaia theory. Dr. Lynn Margulis did pioneering work on symbiosis and her work was lumped into the same category in the popular literature. The Gaia theory was soundly pummeled but after years of refinement has been distilled into something pretty respectable. This is a reference to Margulis. I think as time goes on her work will be vindicated and the possibility of viruses and bacteria being engines of life and evolution will be recognized as foundational. We’re all just big ol’ bags of simbiotes and bacteria.

    “Theory of symbiotic relationships driving evolution

    …She later formulated a theory to explain how symbiotic relationships between organisms of often different phyla or kingdoms are the driving force of evolution. Genetic variation is proposed to occur mainly as a result of transfer of nuclear information between bacterial cells or viruses and eukaryotic cells. While her organelle genesis ideas are widely accepted, symbiotic relationships as a current method of introducing genetic variation is something of a fringe idea. However, examination of the results from the Human Genome Project lends some credence to an endosymbiotic theory of evolution—or at the very least Margulis’s endosymbiotic theory is the catalyst for current ideas about the composition of the human genome….”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Margulis

  9. my wife went to school at UVA when Marvin Bush was there and she agrees! She had that worthless piss-ant pegged from day one, it took me many years to agree.

    She wasn’t surprised by anything he did, she used to tell me his mother raised him to believe his stuff didn’t stink and that he was a superior being compared to all us “commoners”. I should have listened in 2004. As my uncle used to say “to soon old too late smart”.

  10. Mespo,

    I’m sorry, I was under the impression Bron wanted to discuss conscious, intelligent life. While Bush’s lack of intelligence is and should never be questioned based on the evidence, I’m not really sure he’s conscious. More like a slime mold with the ability to maul English by chaining words together but unable to formulate actual sentences containing useful information. Perhaps it’s a defense mechanism. To make himself look smarter than he is kinda like the puffer fish strategy to appear larger to scare off predators.

    It just goes to show you, not all mutations are beneficial.

  11. Buddha:

    Interesting thoughts, especially about fundamentalism and free will and the nature of a fundamentalist.

    Do you know any very smart or brilliant fundamentalists?

    I don’t think snakes have any self awareness, they are just eating and reproducing machines same as crabs. Although most crabs don’t get a chance to learn from their mistakes, especially Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs.

    I tend to agree that there are a good many species of animals that probably are self aware, I am sure my dog Toby is and I think pigs may be, dolphins-I’ll go along with that assumption. I am almost a vegetarian because of just those types of thoughts, although I suppose that is the same as being almost pregnant.

    The nature of evil is either bad mental health or a choice or both. Sometimes though I think a good number of people could be evil if societal restraints were removed.
    That is one good thing religion is for, to keep our darker natures in check. Although the man as rational animal is good to but I think that takes a little more sophistication of thought. It also goes to what you were saying about levels of complexity.

    Food for thought as always.

  12. Buddha:

    “How do you know a snake has no sense of self? Let alone self awareness?”

    ****************

    Come now Buddha, after 8 years of listening to him speak, do you really think our former Snake in Chief has any sense of anything?

  13. Bron,

    How do you know a snake has no sense of self? Let alone self awareness?

    There is a difference between sense of self and self awareness. To instantly say snakes are not self aware is again anthropomorphic thinking, but to say they have no sense of self simply defies scientific observation by your own admission.

    Any being that can take input and adjust by definition must have some sense of self. Take the sensation of pain. Pavlov worked on dogs. Snakes, while not as sophisticated as dogs, sense pain and can adjust. Recently, it was proven that crabs feel and remember pain and they are far more primitive that a snake much less a dog. While a snake may not be able to contemplate complex thoughts about the nature of its existence, a smart dog has the cognition and language skills of a human four year old and is ergo capable of more sophisticated thought than a snake. Four year olds recognize themselves as do smart dogs. Both snakes and dogs have a sense of self, but only the dog has self awareness. You’re implying that the threshold for consciousness is self awareness as ego. Looking in a mirror and saying “I am I”. I posit that a better threshold is the modification of behavior to enhance self-preservation, often degraded as “instinct”, is actually the kernel of self awareness and that the threshold is not a clear line, but fuzzy. After all, you can’t have self awareness without sense of self. What is sense of self but the foundation for survival? They are essentially the same thing but at differing levels of complexity. If one cannot feel pain, one doesn’t know they are being damaged and possibly face extinction/termination. As evolution moves on, who is to say a dog won’t gain the neural complexity to achieve “higher thought” or abstraction beyond self-preservation. Or that a snake or other reptile may not gain self awareness in addition to sense of self. In the case of snakes, some would say they already have. Birds are direct lineal descendants of dinosaurs and have a lot in common with reptiles, yet Grey Parrots exhibit not only sophisticated language skills, but basic math and most certainly self awareness. Dolphins have been proven complex thinkers and self aware as well if you want to stick with mammals, albeit cetaceans.

    So the problem now appears one of definition. And if you insist that ego is the threshold for self awareness, that the complexity required to develop ego is what separates man from animal, what does that mean for the many discussions we’ve had here about the nature of evil being rooted in ego? That would imply that self awareness is intrinsically evil unless tempered by free will. Is free will the next level of complexity over ego? I think so. lol Now there’s a thought that’ll keep the theologians up at night! I know from personal experience that being evil is a choice just like being good is, so perhaps maybe your definition of self aware must include a free will component, e.g. the ability to act on reason over instinct. Perhaps this is what differentiates man into free thinkers and followers. Take fundamentalism. Under this model is it not possible that some if not many fundies abdicate free will so easily and readily because many of them don’t have the sufficient neural complexity to have free will in addition to ego? It’s a valid question and relates directly to consciousness. But does the impairment of free will make them less human? Do more evolved beings have an obligation to lesser evolved beings? I think you’re getting a sense now of how deep this rabbit hole goes.

    It’s all in the varying degrees of complexity, my friend. The question is where to draw the line.

  14. Buddha:

    Thinking the earth is flat or that liberals are misguided is an error in fact not a part of consciousness. Our ability to learn and correct errors are not an indication of consciousness but are higher functions of the brain. It is doubtful a snake understands it is an individual or has self knowledge, but it can obviously adapt due to the fact that snakes are successful critters.

    Can you recall the first time you looked in the mirror and knew that you were you? That is consciousness, and thinking is a secondary aspect of consciousness. I think therefor I am should actually be I am therefor I think.

    It is actually rather hard to describe consciousness let alone how it occurs.

  15. Bron,

    Consciousness, IMHO, is a result of complexity in a neural or other energy exchanging matrix. The “nature” of that consciousness, however, would naturally be influenced by any sensory input. For example: how would you convey the beauty of a Van Gogh to an alien that only sees in infrared? Consciousness is a function of self-organization in energetic systems. So, yes, it does just spontaneously occur. Scale can be a factor as well as density of interactive components. Consider the planet Solaris from the book of the same name by Stanislaw Lem. The entire planet is alive. It’s base transactions are low energy, but they are spread out on such as huge scale that at some point in the evolution of the planet, the complexity reached a point where Solaris became self-aware. And the scale so large that it became very intelligent, almost god-like in comparison to a human. This type of consciousness is a perfect reflection of complexity/chaos theory. When a system reaches a certain level of complexity, it starts to self organize, but as complexity increases, so does the potential for error. Too much error leads to instability. Is not consciousness as we humans experience a form of error correction? We form internalized models of reality and are constantly having to modify them based on new data. People used to think the Earth was not only flat but the center of the universe. I also point to your own experience here with political thought as an example of error correction by consciousness as complexity increases. This is also reflected in Darwinism as adaptation and survival of the fittest. Those that can error correct have a survival advantage.

  16. Buddha:

    how does one become conscious? It dosent just spontaneously occur at some point in time. And in my opinion this is caused by external stimuli through our senses.

    But I suppose this gets into the tabula rasa arguments.

    Mespo, any thoughts to the ones Buddha and I have put forth?

  17. Bron,

    In re: the child. There is only one problem with that and that is the assumption that sensory input and consciousness are interdependent. That is anthropomorphic thinking.

    In re: grandfather. He did indeed exist independent from me, but you have not disabled my contention, but rather reinforced that the observer has a role in the nature of reality. If I had never known my grandfather, it would not change that my father did, just the totality of universal knowledge as I would not be an observer had I not existed. The knowledge “set” would be different if you want to use number and/or information theory. My grandfather would have existed, just in a different state than this universe set down by including me in it.

    And yes, QM is not “fully understood” but it should be clear from Gödel’s work that full understanding, or complete knowledge if you will, of any system is not mathematically possible. I should also point out that certain aspects of classical Newtonian physics are not known yet either. For example, the math that indicates that during the universe’s rapid expansion phase that space/time grew at a rate that had to exceed the speed of light. That’s a hard one to reconcile.

    That is not to say that we cannot increase the “resolution” of our data to gain a greater understanding of the universe than we currently have, but only that said knowledge is not “perfectable”. To be perfect, it would require both omniscience and omnipresence, qualities that are not only by definition God-like, but would require that We the Observers be outside the physical universe in order to make said observations because they would REQUIRE we not be constrained by the physical universe and its rules we do know to be “both of the omni’s”.

  18. Buddha:

    consider a child born with no sense of smell, taste, sight, touch, hearing or any other way to perceive the external world. Can that child grow to become a being that knows it is an individual and can he/she become conscious?

    “The natural world does exist outside of our perceptions and we use our senses to understand the world/universe.” Your grandfather exists outside of you that is what I am saying. You only became aware of him when you became aware of yourself.

    Also my son is taking physics at university and I was talking to him about your post. What I am getting out of it is that we have yet to fully understand QM and that there are possibly things going on that we cannot at this point measure.

  19. Bron,

    You really need to read Heisenberg. You’re thinking like a Newtonian and an Objectivist. This is a quantum mechanics issue.

    http://www.thebigview.com/spacetime/uncertainty.html

    Observation does indeed impact outcome.

    This in no way degrades the strange wonder of consciousness, but rather tells us that the universe is a much stranger and less anthropomorphic place than we imagine. But your assertions “The natural world does exist outside of our perceptions and we use our senses to understand the world/universe.
    The fact that life exists is either the result of a creator or it is the result of the fact that it exists because it has to based on the natural order of things. Life is a result of the physical laws of the universe, not the other way around. Life exists because of the way our universe functions. We are able to understand our universe because of the way it functions. Granted there are some things we do not understand but the Greeks reached some conclusions about the natural world that took 2 or 3 thousand years to set right.” are flawed.

    1) The natural world exists whether or not our consciousness exists to define it. Example: My grandfather is dead. The natural world no longer exists for him in the sense of consciousness. But I know he lived in the natural world. I saw him when he was alive. But what about before I was alive? Your implication is that he could not have existed without me to observe him in the natural world. This is patently untrue. I have evidence. If the existence of my father isn’t enough evidence nor my personal observation of the man, I’ve been to Hiroshima. I’ve seen what the bomb my grandfather helped deliver did to the city. He most certainly existed in the natural world before I could observe him. The question is did my observation of him (and the inverse relation) change reality. The answer is yes. Neither of us would have been the same without the others influence (and I mean that in the barest observational terms, much less direct interaction).

    You’re an engineer, which by training means you have a very clear cut view of cause and effect. That’s all well and good until you look at the totality of the universe, the atomic and the subatomic, and you’ll find that the lines between cause and effect are not so clear cut in the quantum. That they appear so to us in the atomic, or rather marco-atomic, world is a function of our psychology. We humans like completeness and linear logics by nature. It’s what kept us banging the rocks together until we figured out how to make tools and consequently civilization as we know it. But since the randomness you rebel against is built into the very nature of the quantum and the macro-atomic world is built upon the quantum, does it not follow that cause and effect’s blurring under Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle translates “up” in scale? It is not inconsistent that if it does. You are stuck in Schrödinger’s trap. He and Heisenberg were competitors and not really friendly ones. To understand why, you need to know how science got the wave/particle dichotomy. It comes from the competition between Heisenberg’s matrix mechanics and Schrödinger’s wave mechanics to determine the best model for explaining electron behavior. Schrödinger thought that his wave interpretation was best because it relied upon established equations and accepted concepts of energy as a wave and was essentially a visual standard working from the basis of traditional Newtonian optics and particle theory. Heisenberg relied upon more complex math, but considered electrons as particles with quantum properties, essentially a causal standard based in the “new” math of relativity. This conflict eventually resulted in what was called the Copenhagen Interpretation when Heisenberg and Niels Bohr reconciled the two models to create modern quantum mechanics. The models, they said, were mutually exclusive yet complimentary and jointly required to explain the quantum. The link I provided will give you a good primer on this topic

    2) “[T]hat life exists is either the result of a creator or it is the result of the fact that it exists because it has to based on the natural order of things. Life is a result of the physical laws of the universe, not the other way around. Life exists because of the way our universe functions. We are able to understand our universe because of the way it functions.” That’s close, but not quite right. I’ll refer you to the Anthropic Principle for more insight and pay particular attention to the difference between the strong and weak versions of the principle. That “[l]ife exists because of the way our universe functions” is irrefutable . . . based upon a observation made within the physical universe. We are back to the observer.

    From the link provided (as I could not write a better summary myself), consider again the role of the observer. “The notion of the observer becoming a part of the observed system is fundamentally new in physics. In quantum physics, the observer is no longer external and neutral, but through the act of measurement he becomes himself a part of observed reality. This marks the end of the neutrality of the experimenter. It also has huge implications on the epistemology of science: certain facts are no longer objectifiable in quantum theory. If in an exact science, such as physics, the outcome of an experiment depends on the view of the observer, then what does this imply for other fields of human knowledge? It would seem that in any faculty of science, there are different interpretations of the same phenomena. More often than occasionally, these interpretations are in conflict with each other. Does this mean that ultimate truth is unknowable?” Well based on the work of Kurt Gödel, I’d have to say yes. Gödel proved that in any given system there must be something accepted as true although unprovable – and his math checks. This is a “reflection” (I won’t say corollary as that is not quite right) of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle in action.

    3) Your views on causality in the physical universe are not flawed as they are constrained by the Ghost of Newton. Causation and the nature of reality to the observer are related in a tangential fashion. It was this very relationship discovered by Einstein in his writings on Doppler shift that I feel led to Heisenberg’s work. Relativity isn’t just about the energy/mass equivalence. It’s about the relationship between observer and observed. That being said, even Einstein had problems accepting the full implications of his discovery as evidenced by his refusal to accept Heisenberg’s later derivative work.

    4) “[W]e are conscious of self because of the natural world and the stimulus from our senses. The natural world creates the individual, the individual does not create the natural world.” This is incorrect because you assume sensory input of humans as the final arbiter of reality when science has proven time and again sensory input is unreliable. Law and psychology does this as well. Ask any lawyer about the value of eyewitness testimony vs. forensic examination. We cannot “see” electron flow, but we understand electricity.

    Aside from the error regarding human perception, there is little scientific wrong with your statement, although “the individual does not create the natural world” is a question better left to philosophy and psychology. I’m not the first person to say “reality is a state of mind” but writing that phrase hundreds of times on a window sill in the third grade is how I got into G&T programs. You, as an engineer, tend to view perception as a constant when quantum mechanics, psychology and philosophy clearly tells us this is not the case. Does this mean there is no “objective” reality? Perhaps. But I’d prefer to think we collectively make our “objective” reality as a species. To quote Carl Sagan from “Contact” (I’m relying on memory of the film it’s been so long since I read the book) . . .

    David Drumlin: I know you must think this is all very unfair. Maybe that’s an understatement. What you don’t know is I agree. I wish the world was a place where fair was the bottom line, where the kind of idealism you showed at the hearing was rewarded, not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world.
    Ellie Arroway: Funny, I’ve always believed that the world is what we make of it.

    I’m in the Arroway camp for a fact.

    And I’m not saying you are wrong so much as I am saying your base of knowledge is incomplete (as is mine and every other human on this ball of rock). Don’t let that limit you when considering concepts like a holographic universe. The universe is not only stranger than you imagine, dear Horatio, but stranger than you CAN imagine. But in the end, everything is

    one.

  20. “but we do NOT cause it (unless of course we accelerate them for experimental purposes) and we do not cause the release of energy from these collisions by our observations.”

    proof read malfunction.

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