Bloody Mammoth Problems


Mammoths may walk among us very soon. Thanks to the efforts of researches from Harvard Medical School, McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and the Swedish Museum of Natural History, DNA from dead woolly mammoths has led to the sequencing of this long-tusked animal’s entire genome. Yes, our long-lost friends the mammoths could very well suffer “de-extinction” and roam free once again.

That’s good news for mammoths, I guess, but not such great news for the female elephants forced to act as mammoth-hybrid surrogates, and perhaps — down the line — human beings as well. The problem is, when people introduce or reintroduce a species to a new environment (environments change over time), havoc is often the result. From cane toads and feral foxes in Australia to mountain goats in Washington State’s Olympic National Park to gray wolves terrorizing farmers, harm to ecosystems often ensue.

Now imagine herds of mammoths running amok. If that’s what’s in store for us, scientists will have to find a predator to keep the mammoth populations in check — or from migrating to warmer, dense-with-human climate zones as creatures that are a mix of mammoth and Asian elephant might prefer hotter locales. So naturally, we’ll have to bring saber-toothed tigers back from extinction to help us cut down on our huge mammoth problem.

But maybe (bear with me here), our saber-toothed predators might experience a massive population explosion, thanks to a plentiful mammoth and human food source. We could hunt them, a sharpshooter’s wet dream, but what if they turn out to be much more elusive and intelligent than we’d anticipated? We’ll simply have to dip back into the gene pool of extinct animals and come up with an even smarter, more fearsome predator to go after all of our saber-toothed cats. And presto! Some genius in an underground lab somewhere figures out how to cross a pterodactyl with a condor, and we’ll end up with a fleet of … well, bloody dragons, roaming the sky, looking for lunch. Game of Thrones fans will rejoice.

Sound ridiculous? Yeah, it probably is. But just remember, it all started with bringing those pesky mammoths back to life. Fun with genetics isn’t always fun for everyone — Homo sapiens and an awful lot of other species included. Sounds like the premise for a good movie, though …

This article was originally published in The Blot Magazine.

Cartoons to Quell the Masses?


If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words can we get for an animated cartoon? In China, the powers that be are hoping for a hell of a lot. An adorable cartoon princess by the name of Ipal Khan, who happens to belong to the Uighur ethnic minority, is set to capture the political hearts (at least that’s the desire) of disenfranchised millions living in a nation dominated by an overwhelming Han majority.

Miss Khan, who also goes by the moniker “the Fragrant Concubine,” has been created with the express intent of quelling the tempers of the predominately Muslim Uighurs living in China’s resistive and conflict prone Xinjiang Autonomous Region. And, as everyone knows, young, angry men with a ton of pent-up frustration often turn to concubines in order to relieve their … Hold on a sec. What kind of wholesome children’s entertainment are we talking about here?

Ideally, by featuring a non-Han Chinese Disney-esque female lead in an animated series, folks living in Xinjiang will realize they haven’t been marginalized to the extent they believe. What are a few human right violations compared to a charming cartoon “concubine” invited to live with the Han emperor in peace and harmony — or maybe, in a darker twist, captured and enslaved instead? The historical accounts for the basis of this story tend to vary, depending on who’s doing the telling. Guess which tale the Uighurs stick to?

It remains to be seen if this animated experiment will have the social impact the creators hope for. If, by some miracle, it does, the model could be exported to other conflict zones around the world. Just imagine …

Fernando, the quirky Mexican cartel kingpin who loves children almost as much as he loves gore and machetes. Ahmed, the Islamic insurgent and his affable cartoon cat Habbab, who — over the course of their bloody career — learn the value of being able to compromise just a smidgen. Vlad the Incubator, a Russian separatist who devotes his time to taking care of war orphans and babies at risk. Whitey Magee, a politician with a questionable record on race relations, who, after being visited by a magical genie, has an epiphany and realizes that we’re all just human under our skin. The possibilities are endless!

This article was originally published in The Blot Magazine.

Raindrop’s New Design

posterRaindrop’s World has a new design. Come and check it out. I’m gearing up for a few new books about leafcutter ants, dung beetles and the Amazon Rainforest. All I have to do now is dust off some of my rusty drawing techniques. The stories are already finished. Hope to catch up with you in the jungle some time soon. Just watch out for the vampire bats, and the giant anacondas.

A Boy and His Horse

Blood Ride

This is a piece of artwork I created some time back. It’s a mixture of the rich and stark topography I caught while riding my horse through the Okavango Delta, which is situated in the northern reaches of Botswana, and a few ideas I had about a fictional character that eventually came to life in the novel Among The Wild. This little drawing, entitled Blood Ride, depicts a boy and his horse lost in a harsh and vivid landscape. The young rider is given a glimpse of hope with the last flickers of light before day’s end.

Graffiti, Tweets and Zombies


Romantic graffiti scribbled across bathroom walls that could lead to true love someday, Hemingway’s rampaging Twitter addiction (not to mention his overuse of hashtags) and the massive rate of objectionable incarceration in the United States, along with a description of the joys derived from a possible zombie apocalypse are just some of the riveting subjects I’ve tackled during the recent course of my philosophical musings.

If you’d like to enter the wandering and speculative mind of someone who should probably focus less on idiosyncratic topics and write more about … well, world peace or organic farming, perhaps, then these Huffington Post articles just might be up your alley. At the very least, they should be good for a few laughs — except the piece about American prisons. Tragic irony is already built into that one.

Talking Insects

CharactersThe stories populating the illustrated children’s book Raindrop’s World take place in a universe where ants and beetles have four limbs rather than six, and sport long eyebrows and full lips. These beautiful and strange insects even know how to talk, which they do every chance they get.

The illustrations and storyline were created with the notion that these tales should appeal to the young and the old alike. It really shouldn’t matter if you’re six or fifty-six. These playful adventures ought to have something in them for just about everyone (unless the poor reader suffers from myrmecophobia – also known as the fear of ants).

The premise of this first book, and the books to come, is fairly simple. A small colony of leafcutter ants, only a few years out living on their own, has founded an ‘alternative’ civilization in the rainforest. They’re trying to mix the old ways with the new, although this won’t happen without some serious conflict with other ants of a different mindset, not to mention wild encounters with some of the most dangerous creatures inhabiting the Amazon River Basin, including anacondas, vampire bats, armadillos, mentally unstable finches and terrifying zombie ants (which really do exist).


Columnist, Writer