Crocodiles work as a team to hunt their prey

Recent studies have found that crocodiles and their relatives are highly intelligent animals capable of sophisticated behavior such as advanced parental care, complex communication and use of tools for hunting.

New University of Tennessee, Knoxville, research published in the journal Ethology Ecology and Evolution shows just how sophisticated their hunting techniques can be.

Crocodiles and alligators were observed conducting highly organized game drives. For example, crocodiles would swim in a circle around a shoal of fish, gradually making the circle tighter until the fish were forced into a tight “bait ball.” Then the crocodiles would take turns cutting across the center of the circle, snatching the fish.

Sometimes animals of different size would take up different roles. Larger alligators would drive a fish from the deeper part of a lake into the shallows, where smaller, more agile alligators would block its escape. In one case, a huge saltwater crocodile scared a pig into running off a trail and into a lagoon where two smaller crocodiles were waiting in ambush — the circumstances suggested that the three crocodiles had anticipated each other’s positions and actions without being able to see each other.

Vladimir Dinets. Apparent coordination and collaboration in cooperatively hunting crocodilians. Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/03949370.2014.915432

It’s time to start imagining a society that isn’t dominated by police.

After months of escalating protests and grassroots organizing in response to the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, police reformers have issued many demands. The moderates in this debate typically qualify their rhetoric with “We all know we need police, but…” It’s a familiar refrain to those of us who’ve spent years in the streets and the barrios organizing around police violence, only to be confronted by officers who snarl, “But who’ll help you if you get robbed?” We can put a man on the moon, but we’re still lacking creativity down here on Earth.

But police are not a permanent fixture in society. While law enforcers have existed in one form or another for centuries, the modern police have their roots in the relatively recent rise of modern property relations 200 years ago, and the "disorderly conduct" of the urban poor. Like every structure we’ve known all our lives, it seems that the policing paradigm is inescapable and everlasting, and the only thing keeping us from the precipice of a dystopic Wild West scenario. It’s not. Rather than be scared of our impending Road Warrior future, check out just a few of the practicable, real-world alternatives to the modern system known as policing:

  1. Unarmed mediation and intervention teams

Unarmed but trained people, often formerly violent offenders themselves, patrolling their neighborhoods to curb violence right where it starts. This is real and it exists in cities from Detroit to Los Angeles. Stop believing that police are heroes because they are the only ones willing to get in the way of knives or guns – so are the members of groups like Cure Violence, who were the subject of the 2012 documentary The Interrupters. There are also feminist models that specifically organize patrols of local women, who reduce everything from cat-calling and partner violence to gang murders in places like Brooklyn. While police forces have benefited from military-grade weapons and equipment, some of the most violent neighborhoods have found success through peace rather than war.

  1. The decriminalization of almost every crime

What is considered criminal is something too often debated only in critical criminology seminars, and too rarely in the mainstream. Violent offenses count for a fraction of the 11 to 14 million arrests every year, and yet there is no real conversation about what constitutes a crime and what permits society to put a person in chains and a cage. Decriminalization doesn’t work on its own: The cannabis trade that used to employ poor Blacks, Latinos, indigenous and poor whites in its distribution is now starting to be monopolized by already-rich landowners. That means that wide-scale decriminalization will need to come with economic programs and community projects. To quote investigative journalist Christian Parenti’s remarks on criminal justice reform in his book Lockdown America, what we really need most of all is “less.”

  1. Restorative Justice

Also known as reparative or transformative justice, these models represent an alternative to courts and jails. From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia’s experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process. It has also been used uninterrupted by indigenous and Afro-descendant communities like San Basilio de Palenque in Colombia for centuries, and it remains perhaps the most widespread and far-reaching of the alternatives to the adversarial court system.

  1. Direct democracy at the community level

Reducing crime is not about social control. It’s not about cops, and it’s not a bait-and-switch with another callous institution. It’s giving people a sense of purpose. Communities that have tools to engage with each other about problems and disputes don’t have to consider what to do after anti-social behaviors are exhibited in the first place. A more healthy political culture where people feel more involved is a powerful building block to a less violent world.

  1. Community patrols 

This one is a wildcard. Community patrols can have dangerous racial overtones, from pogroms to the KKK to George Zimmerman. But they can also be an option that replaces police with affected community members when police are very obviously the criminals. In Mexico, where one of the world’s most corrupt police forces only has credibility as a criminal syndicate, there have been armed groups of Policia Comunitaria and Autodefensas organized by local residents for self-defense from narcotraffickers, femicide and police. Obviously these could become police themselves and then be subject to the same abuses, but as a temporary solution they have been making a real impact. Power corrupts, but perhaps in Mexico, withering power won’t have enough time to corrupt.

  1. Here’s a crazy one: mental health care

In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed up the last trauma clinics in some of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods. In New York, Rikers Island jails as many people with mental illnesses "as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined," which is reportedly 40% of the people jailed at Rikers. We have created a tremendous amount of mental illness, and in the real debt and austerity dystopia we’re living in, we have refused to treat each other for our physical and mental wounds. Mental health has often been a trapdoor for other forms of institutionalized social control as bad as any prison, but shifting toward preventative, supportive and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street.

He (Darwin) pointed at how in numberless animal societies, the struggle between separate individuals for the means of existence disappears, how struggle is replaced by cooperation, and how that substitution results in the development of intellectual and moral faculties which secure to the species the best conditions for survival. He intimated that in such cases the fittest are not the physically strongest, nor the cunningest, but those who learn to combine so as to mutually support each other, strong and weak alike, for the welfare of the community.
—  Mutual Aid; A Factor of Evolution : Peter Kropotkin
Paraphrasing ‘The Descent of Man’ Charles Darwin

The Perfect Tie for Every Outfit

The piece:

Most guys don’t wear ties every day so when you get a chance to look a little bit spiffy, I think it’s important to make the best of it. How I judge a tie is by the number of compliments I get on it. Average ties blend with your look. Great ties create your look.

This past week, I was lucky enough to stumble across a fantastic piece from an independent Canadian brand, Tartan Grand. They call it the Kensington Handmade Tie and it’s a 100% wool skinny tie that I love to wear with white and neutral coloured shirts. The first thing that caught my attention was the subtle details of the design. It’s a salt and pepper-ish light grey with little specks of colour that make the tie really stand out.

And I was extremely impressed with the quality of the wool construction. With a lot of the wool ties I come across, the wool is either too soft or too tough and often a little too thick. This one is a balanced piece. What’s more important in fashion than balance?

It’s a versatile piece that works well with casual and formal outfits. I’ve worn it to both with excellent results.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with what I got. You can buy it here for a $34: and you can use my exclusive promo code “MENSTYLE1” for 15% off. Watch out for a contest for a free tie next week!  


D.Gray-man Week

Day 7: Holism/Romanticism (OTP/bias prompt!)
Dependence. Cooperation. Trust. Positive change. Learning. Inspiration.

Where is the hope in a world so cold?
Looking for a distant light
Someone who could save a life
You’re living in fear that no one will hear your cries…
Can you save me now?

I am with you
I will carry you through it all
I won’t leave you,
I will catch you
When you feel like letting go
'Cause you're not, you're not alone

And I’ll be your hope,
when you feel like it’s over
And I will pick you up,
when your whole world shatters
And when you’re finally in my arms
Look up and see love has a face…

You’re not alone!

"On the battle field, all I see are the face of the Order and my Friends."

Helen Keller, "On Competition," 1918

People who think about such matters realize that the competitive system by which the affairs of the world are conducted today has not proved satisfactory. Growing numbers perceive that there may be a better plan, a better social order. It is self-evident that our institutions should make us all reasonably happy. That the majority of human beings upon this planet are not happy is obvious. People more and more are recognizing that some fundamental changes in the method of conducting the world’s business must take place before all departments of human endeavor coordinate, and that until coordination is secured, there will be injustice, exploitation, waste and wars. Now competition is one of the primary obstacles in the way of coordinating man’s efforts to secure justice, freedom, efficiency and lasting peace.

We have been taught that competition is healthy, necessary, that to destroy it would be to sap the springs of energy and individualism. It is insisted, without it life would be harder and more unpleasant even than it is. No more work would be done than was absolutely necessary. The business man would not rise early. He would not spend the whole day in his office. Industry and trade would stagnate. No new markets would be opened; there would be no fluctuation of prices; there would be no excitement, no incentive. Life would become dull, monotonous. Life would not be worth while without the keen edge of competition. Men would lost ambition, and the race would sink into dull sameness, compared with which peas in a pod would present a pleasing variety.

This whole argument is a fallacy. Whatever is worth while in our civilization has survived in spite of competition. Under the competitive system the work of the world is badly done. The result is waste and ruin. Things will never be better until cooperative production is substituted for competitive production.

Primarily; industrial life is rent by competition. Profit is the aim, and the public good is a secondary consideration. Competition sins against its own pet god efficiency. In spite of all the struggle, toil and fierce effort the result is a depressing state of destitution for the majority of mankind. Competition diverts man’s energies into useless channels and degrades his character. It is immoral as well as inefficient, since its commandment is, “Thou shalt compete against thy neighbor.” Truthfulness, honesty, consideration for others, such a rule does not foster. But it does foster selfishness, want of sympathy, cheating, adulteration of goods and the making  of worthless cheap wares. Competitors are indifferent to each other’s welfare. Indeed, they are glad of each others’ failure because they find their advantage in it. Compassion is deadened in them by the necessity they are under of nullifying the efforts of their fellow-competitors.

This order is founded upon injustice and supported by force. It gives the land on which all must live into the hands of a few; it squanders vast sums on war, and meets the demands of working-men for higher wages and better conditions with indifference or resistance. Under such a system unhappiness is the rule, and happiness the exception. Disease is common; sound health is rare. The majority are in want while the minority live in luxury.

Finally, to every nation comes a moment when “a good war” is the only remedy for internal disorder. “A good war” is the comfort of despair. That is the sort of war [World War I]that is rending the world today. “Each for himself” is a selfish, soulless rule. “Each for all” is much more stimulative and effective. Cooperation, or combined control, achieves a far greater result not only for the whole, but also for the individual.

Competition is wasteful of labor and laborers. It exploits the workers to such an extent that they are too poor to buy what they themselves produce. In a fever of production competition piles up masses of goods for which there is no market at home. As a consequence of over-production we have armed competition of governments, and the world is periodically plunged into war with the object of opening foreign markets for the surplus. The present world war is a monstrous example of the warfare of competition. Look at all the commercial countries at this moment. What is the supreme aim of their governments? Markets. All over the world they are hunting for undeveloped countries to “shoot” their commodities into, while millions of their own people are hungry, cold and naked. Thus we have the amazing spectacle of great armies and navies composed of the exploited workers competing with each other, enduring terrific hardships and unimaginable sacrifice, in order to dispose of the fruits of their own labor for the benefit of a privileged few in their respective countries! What an outrageous, unthinkable state of affairs! For these reasons competition is a great sin, the cause of incalculable misery, waste and ruin. None of the evils enumerated in this indictment is accidental or temporary. They are an inevitable result of the present social order. Away with this order then — this competitive, capitalistic order with its ruling of class by class, its courts of injustice, its hypocrisies, its clashing interests, its shocking contrasts, its  wars and its uncertain peace. I say, this competitive system has been a long, costly experiment, and has failed.

I really, really dislike...

…the way that people discourage any solidarity between oppressed groups for fear that someone somewhere might make the mistake of thinking that our oppression is too similar.  I understand where the fear comes from, because I’ve seen the same train wrecks passing for advocacy that everyone else has.  But I seriously believe that losing the potential for solidarity between oppressed groups is a far more serious problem.

And I think that this discouragement is a symptom of a larger problem.  Where basically, people are going so much on their feelings, that they don’t think through a situation.  They don’t think through which situation is worse.  They just think through that one situation feels bad (and I know it’s more than that it feels bad, but the bad feeling is what people go on to make these decisions), so then it becomes a situation that must be avoided at all costs.  Even if the costs are so high that they could destroy a lot of important possibilities for solidarity, cooperation, mutual understanding, and helping each other in general.


An Earth Day Thought: Cooperation Is A Survival Tool

by Michael Keller

Every sunrise is a new breath of life. The morning comes and our star once again bathes us in the energy upon which the whole machinery of being runs. And life responds with every day’s beginning—plants grow; animals graze, browse and hunt; fungi, bacteria and insects slowly bring all of us back into the soil. When the night comes, much of life becomes quiet. Even then, though, many organisms remain at work, taking advantage of the darkness to give birth, take prey, and otherwise make their way in a crammed world. The Earth is beautiful and brutal—such is the nature of life.

Creatures breathe from almost every place on our planet, from the hydrothermal vent communities in the crushing pressure and pitch black abyss of the ocean’s floor to the microbes catching rides through the stratosphere on Sahara Desert dust storms. It’s a constant competition among individuals and species. Yet an exquisite adaptation to succeed in the bloodsport of survival has arisen over evolutionary time—cooperation. Many of us come equipped to work together so that we may individually and collectively live a little better.

"Organisms are inherently competitive, yet cooperation is widespread," wrote Columbia University’s Dustin Rubenstein and James Kealey in a 2010 paper in the journal Nature. ”Genes cooperate in genomes; cells cooperate in tissues; individuals cooperate in societies.”

Read More

The motivation does not seem to be, ‘Let’s do this together,’ ” says Melis, now an assistant professor of behavioral science at Warwick Business School in the U.K. “It’s, ‘Let me try to do this alone, and if I can’t, we’ll do it together.’ ” Tomasello has discovered that young children, by contrast, find that working together can be a reward all its own. When adults deliberately drop objects in his experiments, babies of 14 months will crawl over to pick them up and hand them back. Toddlers open doors for experimenters whose hands are full. They do it without being asked and without being rewarded. Once they get the idea that they are partnering, they commit to joint intentionality. If a partner is having trouble, they stop and help. They share the spoils equally. “They really understand that we’re doing this together, and we have to divide it together,” Tomasello says.
Russia-US Space Cooperation May Fall Victim to Politics

Moscow, Russia (Sputnik) Jan 22, 2015

Tensions between power-brokers in Washington and Moscow could discourage cooperation between the two nations in space exploration and the development of new technologies, member of the Russian Cosmonautics Academy Aleksandr Zheleznyakov said Wednesday. “If a political situation is such that difficulties between our countries will continue, political factors will dominate [the Russia-US spa
Full article