Sunday, April 28, 2019

Politician And Insects -- Nothing About The Bakken -- April 28, 2019

Wow, wow, wow, -- I didn't want to blog this morning. But Don sent me this story and it blows me away on so many levels.

It was on ABC News this Sunday morning which I didn't watch but it's on the net at this post.

First of all, finally, a pollster is adding Hillary and Michelle Obama to the slate.

I follow polling here.

So, let's look at the ABC News polling story:
  • expanding the slate to include Hillary and Michelle, and asking one simple open-ended question, Biden gets 17% and BS gets 11% 
  • if that's even close to accurate, it is an incredible turn of events: both JB and BS were each getting upwards of 30% of the vote just a week ago
  • the mayor of a little town in Indiana gets 5% -- I still think it speaks volumes that anyone seriously thinks a mayor of a little town in the midwest could be our next president; it would be interesting to see his inaugural ball partner
  • Kamala the chameleon, Beto the Irishman, and Pocahontas each get about 4%
  • all the rest: 1% or not mentioned at all
  • most surprising: Michelle and Hillary -- neither could get to 2%; I am absolutely convinced if given the right question, Michelle would poll 50%+ among Democrats; not sure about Hillary
  • if these numbers are even remotely close, President Obama is very correct: we are seeing a circular firing squad
  • more than ever, I really think that supporters of BS will not budge
  • supporters of the other 19 will go with anyone but BS, but unlikely they would agree to give the vote to Biden in the early rounds of a brokered DNC convention
  • more and more, it's hard to imagine this won't be a brokered convention
  • it really appears that BS has maxed out at 30% and he will never go higher, not even in a head-to-head, mano-a-mano with JB; his supporters won't budge, but he won't get any more
  • Biden? Hubert Humphrey; George McGovern; Michael Dukakis
  • whatever happened to Bloomberg, Howard Schultz, Terry McAuliffe?
  • if anyone actually steps back for a moment and thinks about 80-ish year-old Biden leading the Democrat Party -- it just seems beyond the pale
It would be interesting to hear a "serious" discussion among respected analysts regarding the state of the Democrat slate.

The Book Page

Anyone interested in natural history, run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore or surf over to Amazon and buy Natural Histories Innumerable Insects: The Story of the Most Diverse and Myriad Animals on Earth, Michael S. Engel, c. 2018.

The first thing that jumps out at me: anyone who uses insects as a barometer of global warming has no credibility. From page xv:
Estimates of the total current diversity of insects range from 1.5 to 30 million species. A conservative and likely realistic value is somewhere around 5 million species. At 5 million, it means we are still far short of understanding the variety of insect life surrounding us.
But look at that. Biologists have identified about a million species of insects, and there could be as many as 30 million species. That's mind-boggling.

How does a million species of insects compare with other animals?
  • insects:
    • weevils: 60,000 species
    • bees: 20,000 species
    • butterflies: 18,700 species
  • non-insects:
    • fish: 30,000 species
    • birds: 10,000 species
    • mammals: 5,400 species
  • But look at this:
    • As presently known, weevils alone are 6 times the diversity of birds, and unlike birds, new species of weevils are discovered at such a high rate that some entomologists estimate there may be over 200,000 species of this one insect group alone.
    • Termites: one of the smaller lineages, and there are 3,100 species; they come close to rivaling all mammalian diversity
  • Phylum: arthorpoda
    • Two sub-phyla/clades: chelicerata and mandibulata
      • chelicerata: spiders, scorpions, mites, ticks
      • mandibulata: mandibles
    • Three sub-phya of the mandibulata:
  • crustacea (memo to self: crawfish season; crawfish boil Monday night)
  • myriapoda (millipedes, centipedes)
  • hexapoda (six legs)
    • Two sub-phyla of hexapoda:
  • insecta: winged (true insects)
  • entognatha: wingless (not considered true insects -- so six legs not the defining characteristic of insects)
The four main arthropod fauna:
  • chelicerata: spiders, mites, ticks; includes horseshoe crabs (which are not crabs at all)
    • Chelicerates have fangs, but all the rest have mandibles.
  • crustacea: on the menu
  • myriapoda: millipedes, centipedes
  • hexapoda: winged and wingless
One last note: flies. True flies.
  • 155,000 species identified so far
  • this may be only a quarter or less of their global diversity
  • flies are more ecologically varied than any other group of insects
  • Quick: name the number one pollinator. Yup, bees.
  • Quick: what is the number two pollinator? Flies.
  • Quick: other pollinators? Butterflies, moths, beetles. 
Oh, one last way to classify insects. Sorry, once started I can't quit.

The holometabolous insects.
  • holometabolous: full metamorphsosis
    • account for 85% of all insects
    • four groups of holometabolous insects account for 100,000 species each
    • the other groups include 10,000 species or less  in all
  • the groups (orders) -- it looks like there are seven groups or eleven orders
    • megaloptera, raphidioptera, neuroptera: dobsonflies, snakeflies, lacewings
    • coleoptera: the beetles, order coleoptera
      • the behemothsof insect diversity: 360,000 species
    • strepsiptera: twisted-wings; only 600 species
    • hymenoptera, the order of wasps: ants, bees, and wasps
      • 155,000 species
      • ants and bees are merely modified wasps
    • mecoptera, siphonaptera: scorpionflies; scarcely more than 750 species
    • diptera: true flies as well as midge and mosquitoes
      • flies: 155,000 species
    • trichoptera, lepidoptera: caddisflies, butterlies, and moths
The big takeaway from this page: we may run out of honey, but it looks like we won't run out of pollinators. Of course, the real problem is whether the other pollinator in toto would be able to fill the gap if all honeybees died off. 

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