Well, if you can understand a phylogenetic tree then, assuming an average generation time of 10 years since the synapsid/diapside divergence in the late carboniferous period, a snake, or any other reptile for that matter, is indeed a cousin a few million times removed.

A masters degree and turtle pee

Doing a final cleaning before vacating my personal lab following a move, when I came across a product of the final three years of my pursuit of a Master’s degree: a 30 lb box of notes regarding the effects of turtle pee on pond water. A clear reminder of how determining the focus of my thesis research went like this:

“I really think I should build on the my pre-existing work with G. japonicus; I mean I’ve already published more on their ecology than anybody else has in the past century.”

“I’d rather you do something more practical and in a lab so you can be more well-rounded since you’ve focused so much on field work.”

“Okay. Well, then I want to do something with Alligators or crotalids. If I go back into Zoo work, more experience with them in an institutional setting on my resume would be tremendously helpful.”

“I want you to do something with more potential for applied research. I want you to build on this work about the effects of turtles on a freshwater nutrient cycle.”

So here I am today. The owner of a thus-far useless degree, bitter, and probably knowing more about red-eared slider piss than any other being in the cosmos.

No human diet truly has a moral high ground a.k.a. Thanos was half-right.

A friend just posted a photo on fb of a vandalized side-walk that reads “Have compassion. Go vegan.” That really hit a nerve with me, and now I must rant (please read the entire post before reacting):

I don’t care what one chooses to eat, but with all factors considered no diet can truly claim the moral high ground. Actually, vegan diets impart far more animal death, ecological damage, and human-suffering than most of their proponents realize.

Under natural conditions it is almost impossible to acquire enough nutrition from a locally-sourced plant based diet, and many vegan diets in the west rely on internationally imported items. Actually, western vegan demand for much of their typical fare such as avocado and quinoa has driven up prices so much in those items’ source countries, that people who actually depend on them as staples can no longer afford them. Additionally, eating meat from a local farm is less environmentally damaging than international importation to fill nutritional gaps in the vegan diet.

Additionally, veganism demands plenty of animal deaths as well. For example, producing adequate crops is not possible without continuous pest control and preparation of such sites kills animals by the thousand while simultaneously eliminating resources for many of the affected species.

However, with the current state of the environment and the ecological requirements of humans, it is pointless to argue about which diet is the most “compassionate.” If one really cares about reducing misery, death and environmental damage due to human dietary demands, then concern should be directed towards reducing the human population. If it’s not done, we’re eventually going to see some density-dependent limiting factors kick-in (just a few minutes of research regarding ecology, populations and logistic growth will elucidate this), and our children or their children will experience horrors and tragedy dictated by resource unavailability on a scale unlike any humanity has ever experienced. The saddest part is how avoidable it is. No, it does not demand some insane Thanos-endorsed type culling or killing of any sort. People just need to be limited to two children per couple (i.e. every country should enforce mandatory sterilization after the birth of the second kid, Human rights be damned); there’d be a gradual decline in the human population due to stochastic factors. Furthermore, this would avoid the imbalances like we’ve seen in China due to the one-child policy that had been in place, or the situation known as the “graying” of Japan due to their sharp decline in births.

Historical human population growth
There are few things more terrifying than what this represents.