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Friday, March 25, 2011

What ended life on Mars?

In a recent address before the people of the world, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela averred that Mars once had life, but lost it due to

A) a massive meteor strike that melted the planet's entire surface
B) the inability of the small planet to hold on to its atmosphere
C) the decline of the planet's magnetic field and consequent inability to avoid dangerous radiation
D) Capitalism

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No, this video is not from Japan (but it is...NSFW. Trust me on that!!)

Okay, after spending the past four posts on the teeth and bones of Archaic humans and writing about theories of modern human/archaic human DNA introgression, I've found myself wanting to induldge in some true, creepy, shuddersome weirdness, something I can assure you this South African music video more than contains. In the unlikely event that any of my readers have young children, please don't let them watch this video. It's not safe for kids (Not safe for bosses either--don't watch it at work!)

So what's happnening here? I'll tell you what's happening--South African Boers, while we were paying them no attention, developed an impressively surreal asthetic in between all those vuvuzeula solos at soccer games. I give you the penis-obsessed Die Antwoord, whose video features the famous South African monster known as the Tokoloshe (the little but well-endowed hairy beast dancing around), a shout-out to the movie District 9, a little albinoid goblinette wearing a coat and hood made from rats (not rat-skins or rat the video) and dicks, dicks, dicks, everywhere (but no former VP Cheney in sight)! Even Casper the Ghost's, for God's sake (Casper's been putting those "male enlargement" e-mails to work, I guess).

There is a serious side to all this penis-madness, related to life experiences of the young Xhosa rapper Wanga featured in the video. The video is at least a partial "up yours" to the ruling social elements of the Xhosa tribe and the practices they hold dear, such as the Xhosa manhood ceremony. This involves having a teenage boy go off into the bush on his own with a kitchen knife, performing his own circumcism, and staunching the blood flow with hot ashes from a campfire. It's easy to see how dangerous this is, and in fact well over 60 boys in 2010 died from ceremony-related shock or infection just around Cape Town alone. Finding the whole thing stupid and dangerous, Wanga decided not to undertake it--a decision that has serious social consequences for a Xhosa youth. In the segment where he raps in Xhosa he says "I don't want to be a man; Evil boy for life." Indeed, without undergoing this rite of passage, he won't be considered a real man by the conservative elements of Xhosa society.

The other humans, and how they relate to you #3: Africa and enigmas

So we've looked at the three human species we know to have been alive when the great migration out of Africa occurred around 50-60,000 B.C. Have we overlooked anyone? Were there other human populations still around? It seems pretty likely.

Just how "fossil" are non-sub-Saharan African humans? The minimum archaic DNA in Europeans and Han Chinese, for instance, seems to be around 1-4%--the equivalent, on the upper end, of a great-great grandparent. Melanesians, who have Neanderthal as well as Denisovan ancestors, range slightly higher: 4-9%. The existence of yet another population of archaic humans might be also be inferred from genetic analysis of sub-Saharan Africans themselves, who average around 13% archaic DNA even when they lack European, Asian, or Melanesian ancestry. In short, while there is evidence that Africans encountered and bred with other human species outside of Africa, they also bred with archaic humans inside of Africa as well.

But wait...if modern humans came from Africa, what the heck were non-modern humans doing in Africa? The simple answer is that modern humans originated within a certain part of Africa--either in the south or the east. Africa is a big continent, big enough to allow multiple types of humans to coexist for long periods of time without much interaction (remember, this was back in caveman times when you couldn't just hop in a car or plane and suddenly be in a different part of the continent a few hours later). When modern African humans and archaic African humans finally did interact, they apparently interacted like human populations did elsewhere in the world--sex, sex, and more sex. The fact that 13% of their DNA is still hanging around in modern Africans just means that the mixing process probably had a longer time to occur in Africa than elsewhere.

But who were these archaic guys? Nobody is really sure.

A guess might be Homo rhodesiensis:

This is a species whose validity as a taxon is somewhat controversial. Based primarily on a fossil known as the Kabwe Skull (discovered in Kabwe, Zambia) and a few other fossils around 125-400,000 years old, H. rhodesiensis has been variously classified as Homo erectus, Homo sapiens (albeit a very old version), Homo heidelbergensis, and as its own species. Whatever his true nature, we can say a few things about these remains with confidence: they looked distinctively different from modern humans--for starters, they had the largest brow ridges known of any member of the human line, and secondarily, they were extremely robust, more so than even Neandethal (now that's robust!). In fact, some researchers have called H. rhodesiensis the "African Neanderthal" because of these features, although he was probably only distantly related to the Neanderthals proper.

Part of what makes H. rhodesiensis so confusing from a taxonomic standpoint is his apparent close relationship with modern H. sapiens; anthropologist Tim White considers rhodesiensis to have been the immediate ancestor of Homo sapiens idaltu, an East African population that may have given rise to the very people who overtook the great journey out of Africa 50,000+ years ago. So if the anatomically-modern ancestors of today's African interbred with H. rhodesiensis, they were in a sense breeding with grandpa. Before you say ewwww, remember that this really isn't any different than an American WASP having children with someone from England, or a woman from Quebec having children with a Frenchman, but instead of hundreds of years there might be hundreds of thousands of years separating the two populations.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The other humans, and how they relate to you #2: the Denisovans and Hobbits

2. The Denisovans:

Other than their remains were found in a cave in southern Siberia and contributed to the genes of modern-day Melanesians, there isn't much known about the mysterious Denisovans. We don't even have much in the way of remains--the above tooth, plus a broken finger bone; and that's it. However, the DNA inside the remains was still in very good shape and could be examined by scientists. While the remains were originally thought to come from Neanderthals, analysis showed that the DNA was far too divergent to belong to that species of humans; in fact, the Denisovans show nearly as much divergence in time as exists between modern humans and Neanderthals! That is to say, both of these groups were descended from a population that left Africa around one million years ago and split into two groups. The ancestors of the Denisovans went east, and the ancestors of the Neanderthals went west, and while they may have met in the middle overall there was little interaction between the two groups. The Denisovans were, then, a third species, one that was neither modern human nor Neanderthal, but something unique.

Could Denisovans once have ranged all over Asia, in the fashion that Neanderthals did over Europe and the Middle East? Given the existence of admixture with Melanesians, it's certainly possible. What did they look like? Given that we've only got a finger bone and a tooth, its impossible to say, although presumably they didn't range any further outside the human form than the Neanderthals did. Maybe Google Image Search knows what they looked like--I got this picture when I searched for "Denisova":

Great googly-moogly! No wonder modern humans bred with them!

3. The Hobbits:

Homo floresiensis, aka "Hobbits" are the most exotic of the fossil human species, and incidentally the most recent--some of their remains are no more than 13,000 years old, meaning they lived contemporaneously with modern humans for 11,000 years longer than did the Neanderthals (at minimum).

Physically H.floresiensis is the most divergent of any known human species. For starters, they're tiny: about one meter tall, an example of an evolutionary phenomenon known as "island dwarfing." Basically, when animals are isolated on island environments (and in the case of the Hobbits this was the island of Flores in eastern Indonesia) they tend to get smaller than their ancestors back on the mother continent.

Of the three human species that shared the planet with Homo sapiens, H. floresiensis is the most likely to be considered a "species" in the traditional view of the term. The Hobbits were, for instance, very likely to be reproductively isolated from moderns, both due to their size and the peculiar features of their brain development. Hobbits had brains one-quarter the size of modern brains, and yet they appear to have been as intelligent as any other early human, capable of making stone tools and engaging in cooperative hunting. Apparently their tiny-but-smart nature was accomplished by shrinking certain areas of the brain while leaving or enlarging others. Given the very intricate nature of brain development in modern human fetuses, it's hard to imagine human-hobbit interbreeding having any sort of happy ending, but who knows? It's not as if we have any evidence for or against. As for the Hobbits' DNA, we know nothing about it--DNA could not be extracted from their remains.

Although the most recent Hobbit remains are 13,000 years old, we don't know when the species became extinct. According to modern Flores natives, there were still little hairy folk around when the Portuguese arrived on the island (16th century). A few optimistic folk speculate that H.floresiensis isn't extinct even now, but lurking deep in the Indonesian jungles in the form of the Orang Pendek (Indonesian for "Short Man"), a hairy little humanlike creature from the folklore of Java (think of the Orang Pendek as Bigfoot's "Mini-Me," if you will).

The other humans--and how they relate to you #1: the Neanderthals

Okay, so in my last post we established that modern humans, emerging from Africa 50-60000 years ago, interbred with archaic "fossil" forms of humans living in other parts of the world. This interbreeding, if drawn in graph form, looks something like this:

So, as we see here, Han Chinese, Melanesians (a big group of people living on islands in the western Pacific, which includes Papuans and Solomon Islanders), and Frenchmen all have a certain degree of Neanderthal ancestry. Melanesians, however, also have ancestry attributed to the mysterious Denisovans.

When the first modern humans exited Africa, they encountered several other species of living humans. These "fossil" humans can no longer be considered mere extinct side branches of the human family tree; if you are not sub-Saharan African, then they are your ancestors.

We know based on the dating of remains that there were three non-African human species alive at the time of the great migration from Africa. Up first is:

1. The Neanderthals

The best-known of the archaic humans, Neanderthal man inhabited Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia (perhaps as far east as the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia) between 350,000 and 30,000 years ago. The Neanderthals, or at least their traits, co-existed with modern humans for at least 25,000 years. The oldest accepted Neanderthal site is found in Croatia (dated between 32-30,000 years ago) with a more controversial site located in Lagar Velho, southern Portugal (estimated at 24,500 years old).

Neanderthal man was the classic "caveman," with a somewhat flattened, elongated skull, beetling brow, and chinless jaw. These early humans were quite short, with the males maxing out at a height of around five feet, six inches. According to the most recent scientific findings I just made up, Neanderthals were highly insecure about their height, making them very hard to put up with. This created a social distance that allowed the Neanderthals to co-exist with modern humans for 25,000 years. What they lacked in height they made up in might, for Neanderthals were much stronger than modern humans, especially in their arms and hands.

Neanderthals hunted with spears, could make fire, could speak as well or nearly as well as moderns, buried their dead, and wore clothing. They apparently lacked a couple of inventions we moderns take for granted: missile weapons and needles. Without missile weapons, such as bows, Neanderthals were forced to kill the animals they hunted at close range, the danger of which is obvious; and without needles, the types of clothing they could make was limited to skins held together with small bone awls. While in many ways Neanderthals were very much like modern-day primitive peoples, there is evidence that their mental processes may have been very different from our own: there is no evidence that Neanderthals created representational art, or in fact art of any kind--a trait they actually shared with early modern Homo sapiens. This implications of this are not clear: were Neanderthals (and early modern humans) capable of less abstract thought than we are? Could they grasp metaphors? Did they possess a sense of beauty, of the numinous? In any case, the earliest known representational art is about 35,000 years old, and in all known cases linked to modern human populations. Is the ability to create and appreciate art the result of a genes or genes that arose after Neanderthal-human admixture?

It's also not known if Neanderthals could appreciate or create music, although there is the famous find of the Divje Babe flute from Slovenia. A hollowed-out bear femur from a Neanderthal site, the object has been variously interpreted as either a musical instrument and the result of another bear chewing on the dead bear's remains. In his book The Singing Neanderthals (2006) Steven Mithen hypothesized that Neanderthal communication was not purely linguistic, but a sort of hybrid language-music, with the separation of the two not occurring until later in human development. It may be that, like art, an appreciation and comprehension of music is an almost exclusive development of later humans--almost exclusive, that is, because at least one group of animals has also been shown to understand music: the Psittaciformes Order of birds (better known as parrots).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Okay, sapiens--time to meet the rest of the family

In my previous post on Solomon Island blonds, I brought up the unexpected relationship between New Guineans/Solomon Islanders and a fossil group of humans, the Denisovans. The evidence of Denisovans in the family tree of Oceania was the second such proof of modern human-fossil human mixing during prehistoric times, with the first study showing admixture between Neanderthals and pretty much everybody who isn't sub-Saharan African. Since Oceanians are definitely not sub-Saharan Africans, that means they've got both Denisovan AND Neanderthal ancestors, with the bulk of their genes being from a group that left Africa 50-60,000 years or so ago.

So, you might be asking, this is all well and good, but what the hell does it mean, exactly? First off...what's the difference between a fossil and a modern human? gods, how do I brew this down into a few sentences? "Modern humans"--meaning people who look more or less like the sort of people you see wandering around now--originated in Eastern Africa 200,000 years or so ago. At the time of these earliest "modern humans" there were older populations of humans who'd left Africa a million or so years ago to inhabit Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Since there was no little or no mixing between Africans and the people in Europe, Asia, etc. over the intervening 800,000+ years, the people on these continents had developed greater physical differences than Africans, Europeans, Asians, etc. possess now. These physical differences were sufficient enough that these regional human variations are usually considered to be not just different races, but different species altogether. Just as there are different species of parrots or dogs (domestic dogs, coyotes, wolves, etc.), two hundred thousand years ago there were several different species of humans.

Between the mid-1980s and last year, the majority of scientists considered these various human species unlikely to have successfully interbred. The modern humans who lived in East Africa finally decided to get off their caveman arses around 50-60,000 years ago and go check out the rest of the planet, and when they did they were so superior to the older human forms that they simply wiped them completely out.

This hypothesis, called "Out of Africa" received a bit of a serious blow in early 2010, however, when it was shown by scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany and UC Santa Cruz that modern human DNA could be shown to have Neanderthal ancestry. The older idea of us moderns tromping out of Africa and hunting down the hapless, stupid, and hairy Neanderthals was out. Our ancestors had made love, not war, and the evidence could still be shown in Europeans, Chinese, and Papuans.

The picture of human prehistory got even messier in December 2010, when researchers sequenced the DNA from a fossil finger bone and a tooth. They were able to show that the owners of the finger and tooth were not Neanderthals, as they expected, but a second group of humans that had been isolated from the Neanderthals for 500,000 years or more. Since the relics came from a came in southern Siberia known as Denisova Cave, these people have come to be known as the Denisova Hominids--and their DNA was still apparent among the living people of Oceania.

So, got all that?

Next up, we'll get to actually meet the fossil humans whose neighbourhoods our thoughtless, boorish ancestors blundered into all those years ago.

More on unexpected human phenotypes

The children below are from the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. They aren't mixed; despite their dark complexions children are very often born with blond hair:

Normally as the children age, though, their hair darkens, turning a dark brown or black. In some cases, such as this woman, it remains a sort of dark reddish-brown:

As far as I know, the genetics of this hasn't been investigated, but this phenomenon is also seen among the Aboriginals of nearby Australia, where blond children and teenagers have been noted, especially among the desert tribes, for a long time.

Incidentally, the people of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (or at least Bougainville Island, which is close to the Solomon Islands) were recently found to possess some truly exotic ancestry--they still retain genes that appear to be from a newly-discovered prehistoric species of humans called the Denisovans. Since the only known fossil remains of the Denisovans have been found in Siberia, that either suggests the ancestors of the New Guineans/Bougainvilliers took the scenic route when they left Africa (and weren't adverse to getting they freak on with the nearest cavemen), that the Denisovans were much more widespread throughout than just Siberia, or the ancestors of the Islanders absorbed some group that had already bred with the Denisovans.

Oh good grief, Malaysia

This appeared in a Malaysian newspaper covering the Japanese tsunami; massive lulz were not had by all.

In case you don't get it, that's Japanese superhero Ultraman running from the wave...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Unexpected human phenotypes

A "phenotype" is what you look like--the physical expression of your genes, and here are three people whose phenotypes aren't what you'd necessarily expect:

I haven't been able to locate the ultimate origin of these images, so I can only speculate on the parts of the world where these people originate and on their ancestry. The two Asians could easily be from Hong Kong, and thus their appearance could be the result of having very recent British ancestors. But there's at least one other option: they could come from western China or western Mongolia.

There is a large "belt" of mixed-race people stretching across what used to be called "Turania" and is now called "Turkestan"; the easternmost part of Turkestan is the land of the Uighur people. They call it either Uighurstan or East Turkestan; the Chinese call it "Xinjiang," meaning "eastern frontier." Here are a few pictures of Uighurs:

While not all Uighurs look like this, these individuals clearly have Caucasian ancestry, as do most people from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and so forth. But while the Turkmen and Uzbek primarily get their Caucasian genes from Iranian peoples, the Uighurs appear to be at least partially European in their makeup...which might explain the occasional blue eyes and red hair found in Uighurstan. Four thousand years ago, Uighurstan was inhabited by a people known today as the Tocharians, whose mummies are well-known to anyone versed in the history of China:

The above is probably the best known of the Tarim Basin mummies: a 5'9" blond man with the partial remnants of a moustache. Below we have the brown-haired "Beauty of Xiaohe," sometimes called the "Witch of Xiaohe" because of the pointy hat she was buried in:

And here is the auburn-haired "Beauty of Loulan," a hyper-petite (4'9" tall), 4000-year old female who is considered by many Uighurs to be "the Mother of the Uighur Nation":

Where did the Tocharians come from? With modern DNA testing, we've managed to narrow down their origins in the approximate area of the Ukraine, and textile and other archaeological remains suggest the same thing.

Where did they go? Well, judging from the living individuals above, it wouldn't be wrong to say "the Tocharians didn't go anywhere!" Except that it would be wrong. There's strong evidence to suggest the Tocharians were pushed out of the lands they'd occupied for 3000 or more years by the invading Xiongnu--a people who'd gain infamy a century or so later when they invaded Europe: those implacable foes of Rome, the Huns. The Tocharians initially settled in Afghanistan, but further westward invasions forced subsequent migrations. There is some evidence that they were pushed all the way back into the land they'd left 5000 years or so before--the Ukraine!

Regardless of where they wound up, the genetic legacy of the Tocharians still lives on among the Uighurs.

As for that blond dude up there in the first three, I'm not sure what's up with that. I'm going to do some digging around the 'net to see if I can determine where he might have come from.

Rebecca Black's "Friday"

The perfect storm of autotune, horrifically inane and inappropriate visuals (watch for the appearance of the "bus"), and brainless American teen-agery. Sheesh, people, this stuff makes Ke$ha and Bieber look like Duke Ellington.

On the other hand...if she's doing this ironically, she's more of a brilliant troll than Sasha Baron Cohen...

EDIT: As it turns out, this is actually a cover of one of Bob Dylan's more obscure works:

Monday, March 14, 2011

World-class dialect coaching in Estus Pirkle films

Say what you will about crazy Anti-Communist Fundamentalist Estus Pirkle, but the movies he made were stirling examples of cinema verite. It was always the little things, the tiny attention to detail that gave Pirkle's films their uncanny punch--watching them, you simply believed what was occurring onscreen was an event unfolding before your eyes in real time. In this clip, we see perhaps the best example of a Cuban Communist ever committed to film. Listen to the dialogue, and remind yourself that this is not an actual Cuban Marxist, but an amateur actor from Tennessee or Mississippi whose experience was limited to church plays. Hard to believe, but that's the cinematic magic of Estus Pirkle.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Burt Reynolds turns god-fearing children into atheists

From Estus Pirkle's wondrous 1971 anti-Communist film, If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do*?

Jesus can't perform miracles, but luckily Fidel Castro can (because miracle = guy walking in through the door with a big sack of candy)!

*What will the horses do, anyway?

Satan's traveling along with a song that he's singing...

Ah, now this clip from Estus Pirkle's magnum opus The Burning Hell is truly a cinematic gift from the 1970s. In it we learn that the Devil was highly plugged into the pop culture of the era. Why else would Satan have his face painted like the Partridge Family bus? It's nice to know that Old Scratch is as big a fan of David Cassidy as the rest of us.

Hello world heres a song that Satan's singing
damn you to Hades
a whole lot of damning is what he'll be bringing
damn you to Hades

Satan has a dream you'll go traveling together
You'll spread a hellfire and you'll keep burning on
Something always happens whenever you're together
Satan gets a happy feeling when he's burning your schlong

traveling along theres a song that Lucifer's singing
Damn you to Hades
A whole lot of damning is what he'll be bringing
You'll burn in Hades
You'll burn in Hades
You'll burn in Haaaadddddes

The Burning Hell was released in 1974; thankfully the movie wasn't made in 1976, or else we might have to watch the Great Deceiver's embarrassing forays into disco and the CB radio fad. The year after that the Devil bought himself a leather jacket and went around with his thumbs up saying "AAAAAY." When Fonzie-mania finally played out, the Tempter spent nearly a decade and a half as the dignified force of evil in the universe, only to become a laughingstock once again in the early 1990s when he got into grunge and "the Seattle Sound," and in the mid-90s when he went "hip-hop."

And maybe it's just me, but I don't think Satan is really all that concerned about Cain staring guiltily at his hands. Also, John the Baptist's executioner speaks like a cast member from Hee-Haw (and I didn't hear that cornpone accent even once in Mel Gibson's The Passion! I'm calling shenanigans!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Frogs with tails? Oh wait, that's not a tail...

As it turned out, the froggie was just happy to see the scientists.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"There's shrimp in my eyes! I can't see!"

And from the same production company as Mutant Girl Squad, we have...the Cast-Iron Courtesan herself, Robogeisha (What? You idiots thought Green Lantern and Iron Man were cutting-edge superheroes?)!

Protip: Geishas do not like sticky and gross hands.

Protip 2: Do not leave fried shrimp laying within reach of a geisha.

That is all.

The Japanese version of X-Men

Jesus Christ. I don't even want to know what's happening at 0:29 and 1:12.

More preversely creative than adamantium claws, that's for sure!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Because college girls are where it's at...

Back to my continuing look at the composite faces of college girls across the USA. Clockwise below are Idaho, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Louisiana.

Hmm. The main reason I began the composite face project was to see if I could detect any significant facial differences across different states in the U.S. I figured that these differences, if they existed, would exist because of varying migration patterns between one state and another, and would be most apparent among black and white Americans. Basically, I was trying to determine (for instance) if I could detect any differences between black college girls from Conneticut and Florida, or between white college girls from Alabama and Minnesota.

What do we see here? Well, aside from the obviously different Hawaii face (Hawii is majority Asian/Pacific Islander, but the hair dye still shows up in the composite!) the Idaho girl is showing a rather broader face than I've seen in the Southeast. Frankly, I was expecting the same thing from Minnesota, but that's not what I got. The Lousiana face isn't really any different from other Southeastern states I've done, except the Lousiana girls tended to be...ah, more zaftig, shall we say. She looks a bit odd, as if like she has a unibrow, due to many girls wearing long bangs in the photos I used for the composite. I decided not to use photoshop to alter the image and simply posted it here as-is.

Looking at the demographic data, Idaho turns out to be not as German as I thought; instead, it's primarily Anglo-English. The south of Idaho is also very Mormon, but I wasn't able to check the religious background of the girls whose pics I used for the composite. Mormons don't have a slightly different phenotype from they? I know the late 19th-century Mormons absorbed a lot of Scandinavian and German immigrants, but that's the only thing I can think of to account for the Idaho girl's look.

As for MN, I guess that's a sort of Nordic look--long, narrow face. Minnesota's white background is very diverse, including virtually every nationality from northern and eastern Europe. The state also has the largest concentration of French-Canadians outside of New England, and I wonder if the composite is showing their influence a bit.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sexually assaulted by a parrot

Um, what more commentary can you add to this? 'Nuff said!

Hairy, nasty, and mean?

Not that I get many comments around here, but will any visitor dare to guess what this thing might be?

This is the face of a real animal, not a photoshop. Is that a hatred for all life you see in its eyes? Will it devour your children? Suck out your soul? Should you sleep soundly tonight despite knowing that this thing is roaming out there somewhere in the world?

C'mon, what is it? Guess (no tineye, dammit).

"And I said to myself, what a wonderful world it is..."

From the "Grim Look at Reality" Department:

All together now: "EEEEEWWWW!"

The spider is an Australian orb-weaver, while the bird is some kind of pseudo-finch or sparrow they have Down Under (if you're really squeemish, just imagine the spider is just tenderly kissing the bird on the head. Spider and bird: BFFs!)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Saviors Day, everybody!

No, no, not that one!

This one:

Anyway, some highlights of the fantabulous Savior's Day celebration in Allah-enchanted Chicago, Illinois:

Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan predicted on Sunday that America faces imminent uprisings that mirror those in the Middle East.

“What you are looking at in Tunisia, in Egypt … Libya, in Bahrain … what you see happening there … you’d better prepare because it will be coming to your door,” Farrakhan said in a booming voice, thousands of followers cheering in his wake.

Okay, so Farrakhan predicts Mideast-style uprisings will soon come to the USA, a prediction I could care less about. Let's go on.

The keynote address, titled “God will send saviours,” capped a weekend of workshops focused on health, preparing for natural disasters and unidentified flying objects.

Saviors, workshops, health, disaster prep, UFO prep, blah blah blah...wait. Back up. What was that last one?

For about four hours, Farrakhan spoke and jumped from topic to topic, citing religious texts.
He praised Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Farrakhan extolled the virtues of Scientology and its auditing process, which is considered spiritual counseling by its members.

“L. Ron Hubbard is so exceedingly valuable to every Caucasian person on this earth,” Farrakhan said.

“… L. Ron Hubbard himself was and is trying to civilize white people and make them better human beings and take away from them their reactive minds … Mr. Hubbard recognized that his people have to be civilized,” Farrakhan said to a cheering crowd.

It's hard to wrap my mind around this. Farrakhan singing the praises of Scientology?

I guess...leaders of crazy cults tend to like and admire other leaders of crazy cults? Either that, or you've been wearing that bowtie waaaaay too tight for too long, Calypso Louie.

Drunken Queens say the darndest things

What do you get when you combine alcohol, fashion design, and the nastiness of Truman Capote without any of the Tru-Man's legendary word-smithery?