Polar Bears

Yep…that’s the subject of today’s post…but before I get to that just a few of the idiotic, stupid, ridiculous, moronic, they’re on crack statements I found in the news the past 2 days.

I’m not going to defend any of these morons…just ain’t happening…because they’re…well…morons.

AI (artificial intelligence) has been deemed to be racist. The only evidence provided was that facial recognition software doesn’t do as good a job on brown skin as it does on pink skin. The reality is that despite the best efforts of the programmers…brown skin simply has less contrast than non brown skin and thus is harder to recognize. I’m sure the developers are doing their best to improve things…but much like the demands of some in politics…you just can’t rush or legislate scientific progress.

The tech industry has “put extinction of humanity” on the table. No justification at all for this one.

Hurricane Ian was a deep state government run plot targeted against a Red state. No evidence how the deep state actually figured out how to generate and direct the path of a tropical storm provided…but like I said…morons.

Half of Americans that make over $100,000 salary per year say that they are living “paycheck to paycheck”. While this is probably true…the purchase of $70,000 to $90,000 Teslas and Hummers and other luxury vehicles…combined with sending their kids to private only schools that charge $25,000 a year for tuition and their insistence that every one of their children have $150 Nike sneakers, the latest iPhone 14 Pro, and designer clothes just might…I think…have something to do with that. The real answer is that if you have $100,000 income and are living paycheck to paycheck…you’re simply doing something wrong.

President Biden announced on Thanksgiving (or maybe the day before) that he was going to ban semi-automatic weapons…yeah, that’s what he said. Not content with the gun hater’s usual claim of “military style assault weapons” when really they mean “scary looking weapons that shoot the same ammunition as hunting rifles or target practice rifles”…he’s going to ban semi-automatic weapons. I guess that he really doesn’t understand that with the exception of revolver handguns, pump action shotguns, double barreled shotguns, and bold action rifles…which probably total 10% or 15% of all the legally owned weapons in the US today…every other weapon is a semi-automatic weapon. I guess he also doesn’t understand that the SCOTUS has already made numerous decisions on gun laws…and that he doesn’t understand “shall not be abridged”. Seems like politicians and fringe party supporters on both sides…they want zero restrictions on constitutional rights they like and maximum restrictions on ones they don’t like as much. The left talks about common sense gun laws and the right about common sense voting laws…and I have to admit that some of the suggestions on both sides really do make sense. So…rather than just use their argument as a cudgel at election time…how about the more centrist pols in both parties get together and put some of those common sense gun and voting laws into a single bill…get it passed…and get it signed. Unfortunately…both of our political parties and the vast majority of our politicians aren’t interested in doing their jobs and compromising…their most important wants are to make the other side look bad and to be automatically against whatever the other side wants.

Our former President announced today that due to the “criminal voting operation” in AZ that Ms. Lake should be installed as the governor of the state…despite the fact that she’s behind by 17,000 votes out of 2.5 million cast…and despite the fact that no evidence has been introduced that points to any voting irregularities.

President Biden has announced that he is going to outlaw “resort fees” in the US…these are those fees that hotels use to artificially inflate their prices without raising the price of the rooms that are for parking, the gym, the pool, and assorted other amenities at the hotel. While I…well, Neil and Connie do, bears aren’t allowed in almost all hotels…think resort fees are an abomination…this is another one of those useless announcements and clearly would not be held to be legal…companies selling services like hotels are free to charge whatever they want and that the customers will pay.

And in another stroke of stupidity…especially for a Democratic President because that party *always* defers to union demands and thinks that unions are the best thing since sliced bread (note, I think unions have some uses but they’re not the panacea that his party claims nor the abomination that the other party claims…the truth is a lot more nuanced than that and unions have both good and bad points). Anyways…the White House sat down with the unions and the railroads a few weeks back after the direct negotiations went nowhere…and again both the railroads and the unions have some reasonable asks in their demands…and essentially directed both sides to do what the White House said and sign the contract the White House told them to. Naturally…this did not go well with either side but more so with the union side…and the union refused. So now the President…the great protector of union jobs…is demanding that Congress pass legislation to impose a settlement on the unions and railroads. The real problem here is…well, the same as the overall political problem…neither the unions or the railroads are interested in compromising and seeing what of the other side’s wants they can accommodate but are demanding essentially “my way or the highway”…unfortunately with both sides doing this it’s what ya call an impasse…and it’s really rich that the “pro union” party is demanding that Congress impose a settlement.

Connie’s birthday is Friday……and it seems that the Air Force and Northrup Grumman have decided to give her a nice present…because that’s the day for the public rollout of the first B-21 Raider bomber…this is the next generation of the bat wing B2 stealth bomber that we currently hav in service. It looks pretty much the same but apparently it’s more stealthy and all that…and it gives the Air Force a nice new toy to spend billions of dollars per copy on. They’re planning to buy at least 100 of them and are planning for up to 250…but this is the same Air Force that originally wanted to buy the same number of B-1 bombers and stopped at 23 (I think) and at least 750 of the F-22 tRaptors before cancelling the program at 187…both of these were cancelled based on costs. The Navy doesn’t do much better…they originally wanted 32 of those and stopped at 3…and the Army has had similar grandiose plans that eventually became too expensive to accomplish. And it isn’t just the Defense department…NASA has so far spent over $23 billion to develop the Space Launch System that costs over $2 billion per copy and has essentially no reusable parts while SpaceX has launched the Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy close to 200 times with reusable boosters and capsules at a cost of about $50 million for a reused booster launch. Granted…the SLS does have a larger payload than a Falcon 9 but it’s only about 50% more and it seems like using 2 SpaceX launches and docking the parts once in orbit is way, way cheaper. Anyway…the B-21 rollout is a nice thing for them to do on her birthday…I guess.

Ok…polar bears…and yes, the reason for this topic will…eventually…become clear.

Way back in Neil’s Navy days…heck, it was actually so long ago (1984) that not only was it in the last century but it was actually in the last millennium…he worked at the office that bought heavyweight torpedoes that submarines shoot at enemy vessels and they were in the process of operational testing of the latest version…something called the Mk 48 ADCAP or advanced capabilities version…essentially an upgrade of the 1960s designed torpedo that used the same engine, fuel tank section and warhead but replaced the antiquated sonar and homing algorithms section with advanced computer controlled software and added some more sophisticated warhead detonation techniques to make it more lethal. As part of this testing…he supervised shooting a lot of these test torpedoes at an acoustic range down in the Bahamas…but because some other Cold War adversary countries operated submarines in the Arctic they needed to do some testing up under the ice in the Arctic Ocean. The Navy does an Ice Camp every other year and for the year he was involved one sub each from the Atlantic and Pacific fleets were sent up to the area about 300 miles north of the Alaska-Canada border where the camp was setup and a temporary acoustic range was constructed to track the subs and the torpedoes. I’ll have to dig through his archived photos and see if I can find some from his trip there.

Now naturally…once you get out on the ice pack north of Alaska…there are polar bears and that required that people going to the ice camp get some polar bear training.

You’ve probably heard of polar bears…they’re those white bears that eat seals up in the Arctic…but there are probably a bunch of facts about the that you’ve never really heard of.

  • Despite polar bears being white, Alaskan brown bears being brown, and grizzly bears being either black, brown or blonde depending on the individual…they’re actually pretty much the same animal genetically…but the 3 populations essentially developed in separate geographic areas so they’re basically sub-species of the same bear species…and they can all successfully mate and produce viable offspring that can reproduce with the other sub-species.
  • You probably think that polar bears are white…and I gotta admit that they do look like they’re white…but actually their skin is black and their fur is translucent like a frosted light bulb…the black skin helps them absorb the maximum amount of energy/heat from the sun and the fur color helps hide them from the seals as well as being a really good insulator.
  • You probably also think that polar bears can’t move very fast…but I gotta tell you they really do.
  • They’re also really good swimmers and can easily swim long distances…best guess is that they can do 100 kilometers or 62 miles in 4 days easily and at least one female is known to have swum 400 miles in 9 days at a pretty much constant 2 miles an hour speed since it was being tracked by a radio collar…this was a swim in open water during the summer from the coast of Alaska out to the sea ice.

As part of Neil’s polar bear training…he learned that up in the Arctic you never, never, never go anywhere unarmed…and usually you carry two weapons. The weapons of choice are .44 Magnum pistols (what Clint Eastwood used in the Dirty Harry movie series…the most powerful handgun in the world although the .50 Desert Eagle is actually more powerful) and 12 gauge pump shotguns using these special $40 apiece sabot rounds like an M1 Abrams tank shoots.

He also learned that a polar bear outside of 20 yards is not going to charge you…one inside 10 is…and one between 10 and 20 might…and that firing a warning shot for those in the 10-20 range might precipitate a charge and might scare it off. However…the training emphasized that your .44 Magnum (which Neil carried up there) only has 5 shots in it…and the shotgun only has 5 shots in it…and that if you fired a warning shot you only have 4 left…so the instruction said that whether you fired a warning shot or not was a personal decision…but he personally recommended against it.

He also learned that if you shoot at the polar bear…killing the bear is NOT the object of opening fire. The object of opening fire is to stop the charge…because if he/she gets to you…well, you lose and die. To wit…the recommendation was not to shoot the head at all…the way the bear’s skull is built means that any round will just bounce off of it. So…instead you shoot at the shoulder because if you hit there it can’t run and will fall down…thus stopping the charge which is the goal of the exercise. If you knock the bear down…you should walk around the back side and empty the rest of your rounds into the back of the head to try and kill it…then go back to camp and get more ammo. Under no circumstances should you closely approach the bear…because…many people have been killed by dead polar bears.

To emphasize the suggestion above…the instructors then played a video of some biologists from New Zealand that had been up in the Arctic back in the 1960s. They flew in via helicopter and landed on the ice to do whatever New Zealand biologists do up there…the pilot stayed in the chopper (smart man) while the 3 biologists each armed with a 6 round fully loaded .44 Magnum pistol got out to do their work…and then discovered a polar bear…who eventually charged the 3 scientists. To stop the charge…they fired all 18 rounds at the bear…and it successfully stopped the charge…but did not put the bear down. It got to within 15 feet or so (guessing based on Neil’s recollection of the video) before turning to run away because I guess those rounds hurt. 

Now every body thinks that the ice out in the ocean up there is flat…but nah, it’s not. There are these things called pressure ridges that might be 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide with almost vertical sides. The bear in the video turned and ran away from the scientists…and in the video it bounded up a nearby pressure ridge in 2 bounds with the third landing over the top in 2 or 3 seconds before it ran off. The video reported that the scientists climbed up the ridge to look for the bear and it took them 5 minutes or so to climb up and over (as compared to the 2-3 s seconds it took the bear). They did not sight the bear…but because leaving a wounded animal to suffer is a Bad Thing© as they say…they got back on the helo and followed the blood trail on the ice to find and dispatch the bear. They found it…dead…5 miles away…with somewhere between a dozen and 15 gunshot wounds…the scientists were pretty good shots as it turned out.

This is why your only goal in the charge is to stop the charge. If the bear had enough time and health that despite being wounded seriously enough that it eventually died to bound over the pressure ridge and run 5 miles before it collapsed means just one simple thing…if the charge is not stopped and the bear gets to you…then you’re dead and the fact that the bear might bleed to death later doesn’t really change that fact.

In short…polar bears are bad asses…much like grizzly bears and brown bears…Neil’s seen 2 of the 3 in person and Connie’s seen grizzlies and they hope to eventually get up to Churchill in Manitoba to see polar bears…but I digress.

I thought about pulling up some old shots from their Alaska trip of brown and grizzly bears but decided not to…call me lazy I guess.

Interesting things found on the net.

StopThatDoris

So…looking up at night…assuming you’re in a dark area of the world without light pollution and no moon…just how many cars can you see. Well…if you discount the Andromeda galaxy (our closest neighbor galaxy) because you really can’t see it with the naked eye…you can see a maximum of about 9.100 stars…all of which are in the Milky Way galaxy in which we reside…but how many is this actually. Well…it’s about 0.0004% of all the stars in the Milky Way…and you can see zero stars (with the naked eye) in any other galaxy. To illustrate how few this actually is…these are all the stars you can see…most of the stars in the Milky Way are in the central core and you can’t see any of them.

TheStarsWeCanSee

Out in Arizona just outside the city of Page there’s a place called the Horseshoe Bend in the Colorado River…you’ve seen plenty of pictures it and Neil/Connie were there back in their RVing days…but this shot sorta shows you how tall it really is. The river is about 1,000 feet below the rim which is reached by about a 1.5 mile round trip hike from the parking lot. Neil’s actually stood right at the edge just about where this shot was taken from and there is no fence at all…nothing except common sense preventing you from walking right off the edge (note, he stayed a few feet back because he’s got plenty of common sense). In the main shot…you can see the little white dot the arrow is point to and the inset shot shows the about 18 or 20 foot both that the little white dot actually is. And it’s pretty much a straight down drop…if you fell off you would bounce off the cliff about halfway (500 feet) down before hitting the river. It’s a pretty cool place and if you’re ever in Page AZ…I highly recommend stopping by.

HorseshoeBendBoat

They need to give the subtitle person a pay raise here…

SubtitlePersonPayRaise

And finally…I did promise you I would get back to why the polar bear was the subject of this post…so saving the best for last.

The largest polar bear ever recorded…was shot at Kotzebue Sound in Alaska in 1960. They didn’t weight it at the time but later calculations estimated it’s weight at 1,002 kilograms or 2,204 pounds and once it was mounted in a standing position it was 3.39 meters or 11 foot 1 inch tall. Now I’ll grant you that it’s mounted on a pedestal for display…but looking at the right side of the image the pedestal is only about knee high on the man standing there…so that’s one big dadgum bear…heck, he even puts me to shame. Back when Neil flew through the Anchorage airport on the way to Deadhorse where he got on the flight out to the ice pack (Deadhorse is the actual name of the town that most people think of as Prudhoe Bay…it’s on the northern coast about 2/3 of the way from west to east)…there was a different mounted polar bear in the terminal except that one’s arms were raised over it’s head rather than being down like this one…and standing on the floor he was not tall enough to reach the forward paws…and that one is smaller than this one is.

By contrast…the world record grizzly bear was shot near Fairbanks and was about 1,200 pounds and 9 feet tall and the world record brown bear is about 1,500 pounds but height wasn’t specified…and the brown was taken by a bow hunter which is pretty darned amazing as well.

UntitledImage

Pro tip…don’t mess with no polar bear…because he’s the meanest SOB in the valley.

Cyas.

About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
This entry was posted in Blast From The Past, Learn Something New, Ya Can't Fix Stupid. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Polar Bears

  1. Cat White says:

    Thanks, always enjoy your blogs and really enjoyed the info about polar bears. Several of my classmates in college did survey and sonar work in Alaskan arctic and one taught at a college up there for a couple of years. Hands down, polar bears were the most frightening animal ever including the other bear species and mountain lions. And possibly some denizens of NY city.

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