In her book, The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Ran says – “No man, neither Negro nor white, has any claim to the property of another man. A man’s rights are not violated by a private individual’s refusal to deal with him”.

The second sentence has to be understood in context. It’s not always the case that someone’s rights are not violated by a private individual’s refusal to trade with him or her.

For instance, let’s say a hurricane hits a small town in South Florida. The town has no power or running water. However, there is one convenience store that has electricity (from a generator) and is selling bottles of water. If the store owner is a racist and refuses to sell to black people, then Rand’s statement is false. Let’s say the only other functional business is four hours away. If it’s impossible to make a trip to and fro on a single tank of gasoline then the survival, and therefore, the rights of these private individuals are being violated. Even if the store itself is a gas station, not all the black customers would have enough gas to make the initial trip and the gas station would run out of gas in a matter of hours. And they would be unable to procure fuel trucks to refill their pumps due to the circumstances.

Another problem with Ayn Rand’s understanding of private property is that she puts it on a pedestal. Private property rights can do no wrong. It’s a zero sum game. She conveniently ignores how some people may have acquired their private property. Some may have worked hard and their property is legitimate, but others may have cheated people out of their labor power. She ignores exploitation and the capitalist’s accumulation of surplus value.

Regardless, Ayn Rand was a good writer. She has some invaluable insight on the subject of mental health. Having read Virtue of Selfishness, I came to the conclusion that her strong suit was not politics, but psychology.

 

 

 

In Africa, lion populations are dwindling. Big cats have been relegated to just 17% of their historical range. This make me sad. I love lions. In fact, my last name is the Spanish word for lion. So I feel like I’m related to lions. When I was young I used to have dreams that I was a lion before I was born. I lived in the wild. I saw myself running through grasslands and playing with a lioness. Then I was reincarnated as a human. A sort of karmic rebirth.

Karmic (theosophy) – the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in one incarnation according to that person’s deeds in the previous incarnation.

I can still remember when the movie Lion King came out. My mom pre-ordered the VHS tape. She got this enormous poster as a promotional gift. She picked me up from school with the poster sticking out of the car window. I remember being so excited to watch the movie as a family.

Despite the downturn, lions seem to be making a resurgence in other parts of Africa. The Serengeti population comes to mind. All other lion populations are in decline. Serengeti lions are mainly concentrated in Southern Africa. Populations are thriving there. Lions live in groups called prides. These consist of 30 lions on average. Three males, 12 females, and their offspring. If resources are scarce the pride becomes smaller.

So why are they thriving in the Southern parts?

A – they live in deserts far away from humans

B – they are fenced in

“Any land we can get under protection can contribute to conservation. So the more the better”, says Peter A. Lindsay, researcher at the conservation organization Panthera.

Proponents of fencing argue that lions act as a buffer against other predators from coming into conflicts with humans (ranchers, poachers), livestock (horses, cattle) and agriculture. But others disagree. Biologists argue that enclosed lions make only “limited contributions to ecosystem functionality”. So is fencing really just a way to attract tourists to Africa?

South Africa’s mostly fenced Krueger National Park is nearly the size of New Jersey. Here, the lions can still perform their roles as apex predators and regulate the ecosystem by controlling populations of antelope, buffalo, and other ungulates, which in turn help to maintain plant communities. But the problem is that preserving the ecosystem and upkeep of such parks is costly. Money has to be spent on buying contraceptives for lionesses in order to avoid overpopulation and on transferring lions to other reserves to prevent inbreeding.

Underfunding is a huge issue!

A study conducted by Packer found that it’s cheaper to manage lions in fenced areas at around $500 per square kilometers than in unfenced areas, where $2,000 is only enough to manage a population at half its potential density. The problem is that lions like to roam in huge swaths of land. They can claim territory as large as 260 sq km. They detest confinement. So this could cost up to $130,000 in fencing projects. On the other hand, researchers at Montana State University found that dollar for dollar spending in unfenced areas helps more individual lions.

However, national and state governments simply don’t have the cash to manage the average unfenced lion population. The money government collects from taxes on trophy hunting and ecotourism barely reaches the pockets of wildlife managers. Most critically, locals need strong economic incentive to coexist with lions. Having apex predators around means risking inventory on livestock and keeping their flocks from grazing on protected lands due to lions chasing them.

Some speculate that if land managers in Africa were as well funded as Yellowstone National Park they could afford to manage more unfenced lions! But these are third world nations. The reality is that all sides of this issue need better funding.

Some ecosystems will benefit from fences, whereas other populations will require “conflict-mitigation” projects.

“If the funding is there…there’s no reason why the existing protected areas couldn’t carry alot more lions”, concluded Peter A Lindsay.

Source:

Goldman, J. (2016, April). Lions on the Edge. Scientific American, 12-14.

So the other day I was at the super market and I found tartar sauce. It was in a corner and kinda hard to spot. I had eaten a fish sandwich at Mcdonalds that had some in it and I actually liked it. I figured I could use it in a recipe. I had some leftover shrimp at home so I decided it was a good time to make shrimp tacos, which I’d been wanting to make for a while now.

I won’t post any pictures of the process but this is pretty much how you do this.

You’ll need:

Onions

Cilantro

Vegetable Oil

Oregano/Basil

Pinto Beans

Soft Taco Shells

Shrimps (no antibiotics, growth hormones, preservatives, etc)

Tartar Sauce

Cut onions and cilantro. Lightly oil a pan with vegetable oil. Add basil and oregano all over it. Add onions. Let it sit in low heat to a few minutes. (I didn’t add any salt or pepper to this recipe)

Put shrimp in water so they can defrost. Preheat oven at 400 degrees for a bout 15 minutes. Spread shrimp on a baking screen. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Open bean can. Pour out ALL of the water. You do this because you’re making mashed beans which need to be dry. Pour pinto beans into the pan. Throw in the chopped cilantro and cover. Cook for 20 minutes on medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally. Lower to low heat if some of the water bubbles up and the beans start to ripe too soon.

When they are done, transfer the beans to a bowl that isn’t too small. Now take a fork or spoon and squash the beans. This will take a few minutes and a bit of patience. Don’t get discouraged! Press down hard and cut. Make sure you’ve thoroughly squashed all of the beans. Everything needs to look smooth.

Remove the shrimp from the oven. Get a plate and open a tortilla. Spread the mashed means onto it. Place a few shrimps. Then top off with tartar sauce. You decide how much you want to put on it. I put a lot = )

 photo tartar_sauce.jpg

So I’m sitting in a low key, hipsterish cafe near my house as I write this. The coffee is not bad at all. A few months back my sister gave me a recipe book for my birthday because she knows I like to cook. Today you will learn how to make the feared, the totally badass: Slamburger!

Things you will need:

2 Poblano Chiles
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 large onion
Salt, Pepper, Basil, Oregano
1 Cup Monterey Cheese
3 tbs Mayo
1 tbs Dijon
1 tbs Ketchup
1 tbs Worcestershire
1 lb ground sirloin
1 lb ground chuck or beef (I used beef)
1 Tomato or lettuce
2 Large brioche rolls or hamburger buns

What I did:

1. Cooked Poblano Chiles on an oiled skillet for 10-11 minutes, turning until charred all over. When they look roasted, move them to a bowl and cover with plastic. Let them cool. Then peel the chiles, remove seeds and thinly slice them.

2. Peel onions (I used habaneros as well but you don’t have to), and throw them in the skillet. Cook on medium-low without stirring, until browned, for about 5 minutes.
Now add the chiles and cook for another 5 minutes stirring until charred and tender.

 

Cook for another 5 minutes on high.

3. Take the cooked onions and chiles and put in a bowl. Add a little bit of pepper (people use way too much pepper nowadays!) Stir in the cheese.

4. Now comes my favorite part. Creating my top secret sauce! Get another bowl, and combine the mayo with the mustard, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk until fully blended. Use secret sauce wisely.

5. Here comes the meat of this recipe (no pun intended). Combine the sirloin and ground beef and form into 4 eight inch patties. Make sure you are gentle while molding the meats into something that resembles a burger.

Put passion into it.

Make a slight indentation in the center of each patty so that the burgers don’t puff up when they cook. Brush with oil and add seasoning.

6. Fry the burgers for about 3 minutes on each side. medium heat.

Flip the burgers and stack the chile-onion-cheese concoction on top. Cook for another 10 minutes on medium-low.

 

7. Heat buns on the skillet.

8. Place burgers on buns. Pour special sauce.

9. Cut tomatoes and lettuce, add to burger.

10. Close burger. Serve.

When I wrote about Rosetta about a year ago I was really coming into my own with the style of this blog. I had a lot of fun with that article – it was quirky and my friend really dug it. So I thought, hey, I think it’s time to write about space again.

So what has our dear Rosetta been up to lately? A lot, apparently. She’s been a busy girl. In my last post, she was on her way to a date with comet 67P. How did it turn out? Did she excuse herself to go to the bathroom? Nope, it seems she had dinner and sexual intercourse with the thing. What a rouse! My Rosetta all grown up. *weeps*

It’s funny. In the advent of writing my last Rosetta blog the Democrats had just lost a bunch of elections. This time around, I write this a day after the first Democratic debates. Gosh, what a snoozer that was! And well, I’m beginning to think my antidote to a bad Democratic hangover is space travel news. It’s been working pretty good so far!

In the last post I was eager to know what Rosetta’s findings would be. But before we get into that allow me to give you some background deets on the comet itself. Founded by Soviet astronomers Klim Churyomiv and Svetla Gersimenko (whom the comet was named after) in ’69, 67P/C-G has 19 distinct regions. Each region is named after an Egyptian deity. This is why they named the probe Rosetta, because it’s also of Egyptian origin. Some of the names are: Seth, Atum, Babi, and Nut. Each corresponding to a geological distinction in the comet.

How did this comet come about? Scientists estimate the comet was created shortly after the Solar System emerged – more than 4 billions years ago. Scientists say 67P/C-G likely formed when two separate objects collided during the early stages of the Solar System. Matteo Massironi, professor at the University of Padova, Italy, adds, “The fusions should have happened when dust was transmuting and planets were growing in the inner regions”.

Now if this thing is that freakin’ old, it must have definitely played a part in the creation of many of the planets in our galaxy. And these guys more or less agree with me. We know the Solar System had a hand in creating the physical constitution of asteroids and comets, so we can surmise that comets and asteroids did the same with planets.

Rosetta took some pictures. And guess what? The comet looks like a giant rubber ducky. The two lobes connecting the two main bodies are in the shape of a neck. See, I knew 67P would be a suitable playmate for Rosetta! It’s the way love goes.

churyumov-gerasimenko-jan-31-2015

67P was so enamored by Rosetta that he was caught singing in the shower.

Using Rosetta’s Plasma Consortium magnetometer, which sounds like sci-fi technology if you ask me, scientists detected a string of comet sounds inaudible to humans. In case you didn’t know it’s impossible to talk in space, so this was some sort of weird space chatter that only other comets can understand. Similar to how whales communicate underwater. The ESA converted the magnometer data into sounds us Earthlings can comprehend. 67P must have been really horny because the “song” was different from other sounds that have been recorded by other comets in the past. It’s physical properties were different.

Let’s keep in mind that recently 67P reached perihelion. Perihelion is when a comet or planet is at its closest point to the Sun. So there’s a buttload of activity taking place in the comet right now. Scientists wonder whether 67P will change its chanson d’amour as it nears the Sun.

You can listen to the song here: http://www.space.com/30323-mystery-of-comet67p-singing-solved.html

Charles Darwin spoke about the geometrical ratio of increase which posits that every organic being is said to be striving to increase in numbers. Right now comets such as 67P are trying to increase in numbers. This is why it mated with Rosetta which is not a comet but a man made invention – a machine. In this case, we have a trans species ratio of increase. Now, please consider my wild theory or I will have no recourse but to label you transphobic. No wait, transastrophobic. Yeah, I just made that up. Put it in the books because I coined it. Trans-astro-phobic.

On a serious note, let’s move on to the main purpose of this post. Did comets bring organic chemicals to Earth? Not only do I want to know about this, the ESA wants to establish a link between terrestrial and cosmic water. Well, we know that during the early days of the Solar System comets were responsible for bringing water and other ingredients to the inner planets. This is known from the chemical make up of comets. We know meteors had a hand to play as well.

So far Rosetta has detected argon, nitrous, hydrogen and deuteron.

Hydrogen is a positively charged particle, while deuteron is a subatomic particle.

Thanks to Rosetta’s mass spectrometer argon ( a noble gas ) was discovered. This is a key breakthrough in the project because noble gases are hard to find in comets. And scientists see this as an important step in determining the noble gas inventory of terrestrial planets. The argon was found inside the icy nucleus of the comet and was later released into space. In my last post I wondered if ice was brought over by a comet. Well, it looks like that’s a possibility. At some point some of that ice containing argon may have landed on Earth while traveling through space. But people think that argon tells us more about how the comet formed and less about the role comets played in the creation of planet Earth. Argon makes up about 1% of the Earth’s atmosphere, while the comet is full of argon. True, but we should expect the molecular makeup of a planet and a comet, really far away from each other, to be significantly different. However, this difference alone is not the only criteria we can go by if we want to shoot down the hypothesis.

Nitrogen was also found. Nitrogen is present in Saturn’s moon, Titan, and is present in the atmospheric ices on Pluto and Neptune’s moon Triton. Nitrogen is abundant in these planets. Earth is also dominated by nitrogen. So here we see that Earth has more in common with other planets. And while this makes sense, it doesn’t exclude the possibility that comets may have also played a role in Earth’s creation. Plus, it is in these cold outer reaches that other comets, including 67P, are believed to have formed. Nitrogen would have been part of the building blocks of life when Earth was in its initial developmental stages.

1-cometprobero

In the first hundred million years of Earth’s history hydrogen cyanide rained down steadily. This compound was part of chemical reactions that created early organisms on Earth. Nitrogen was found wound up in compounds such as HCN in 67P’s nucleus. So we have more proof. And while we know that the dissemination of HCN was due to meteors crashing on young Earth, it could be said that comets and meteors were both responsible for the creation of Earth; to varying degrees. And Tansu Daylan, from Science in the News (a Harvard endorsed website) agrees with me. Since comets are old and contain significant reservoirs of ice, it is plausible that comets may be responsible for bringing water to Earth through an extended episode of comet bombardment. He concludes that knowing more about comets will lead to a better understanding of our origins as well.

Now onto the last two findings. Comets can hold large reservoirs of water. Most are leftovers from the formation of the Solar System. Both the water on Earth and 67P have a mix of hydrogen and deuteron water molecules. The comets’ water molecules are “heavier”. This is because the chemical makeup of comets is different due to the melting process that takes place. And Rosetta observed frozen material on the surface turn into sprays of vapor and boulder sized chunks of ice and rocks were ejected into space. Which, incidentally, almost knocked over Rosetta.

There’s a lot that points to the claim that comets played a role in the creation of Earth. As I have shown, several key ingredients found on Earth were also found on 67P. We’ll have to wait until all the data has been gathered from Rosetta to really come to a solid conclusion.

Sources:

http://www.hometownstations.com/story/30131051/rosetta-comet-likely-formed-from-2-separate-objects

http://blogs.esa.int/rosetta/2015/09/25/rosina-detects-argon-at-comet-67pc-g/

http://phys.org/news/2015-03-comet-probe-rosetta-molecule.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2837866/World-awaits-Rosetta-probe-s-results-Esa-reveal-Philae-discovered-comet-reveal-origins-life-Earth.html

http://www.space.com/30666-nasa-mars-discovery-webcast-monday.html

http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2015/03/researchers-may-have-solved-origin-life-conundrum

http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/closing-in-on-the-origin-of-terrestrial-water-philae-calls-back-home/

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/hydrogen_sulfide.html

Just thought I’d do a follow up to my last post. It’s important to eat non-GMO foods. Next time you’re at the super market buy non-GMO eggs. A good brand is NatureFed. NatureFed is a farm out of Texas. Well they produce their eggs at several small farms that use natural farming methods that protect animals and the soil. Their hens are fed a vegetarian diet and they are free to roam around in the field. The hens are never treated with hormones or antibiotics or fed any pernicious animals by-products. According to health standards, the GMO in the chicken feed is kept to minimum of 0.9%.

I can definitely taste the difference between non-GMO and regular eggs. Non-GMO eggs may cost a little bit more but it’s worth it. Your breakfast will taste better while supporting ecologically sustainable farm businesses.

NatureFed

power_eggs

When your tummy grumbles in the morning make this.

Quick and Easy

Power Eggs

Ingredients:

2 eggs

2 slices of ham

cilantro

tomato sauce

chipotle sea salt

Directions:

Heat skillet on medium, drop 1 tbs of butter onto pan. In a bowl, whisk 2 eggs. Cut slices of ham into pieces. Add to battered eggs or whisk simultaneously. Pour mix into skillet ( I use a special kind of saute pan := ) and keep heat on medium. Sprinkles chipotle salt.

After a minute or two, bring down heat to medium-low, cleaving the eggs apart and moving them around.

Wash cilantro with filtered water and slice into pieces.

Add to eggs.

Pour 2 tbs of tomato sauce. Bring heat back up to medium and whisk eggs again. Spread tomato sauce evenly across eggs. Once the eggs look golden brown turn off heat and let stand for a few minutes so that the ham cooks thoroughly.

Serve with side of toast with jelly or by itself. Cup of tea or orange juice.