When they say the average income of Taos N.M. is $17k, you're inclined to imagine a small populace (perhaps even a pueblo) of people all toiling along at around $17k. A second thought and you know you're wrong: there are some rich, rich people living in Taos N.M., and therefore there must be some very large number of people (sadly not united and who therefore can be defeated) living on snowmelt, deermeat, and pinon nuts.

I point this out because when I say human beings obviously have far too much power compared to their puny brains, I am not referring to Stephen Hawking, Al Gore, Margaret Atwood, or Don Cheadle. I'm talking about these chimps:

a city councilwoman and her husband are under investigation for performing an exorcism on their 18 year old daughter.Police have recommended the State Attorney's Office file charges of battery and false imprisonment against Edgewater city councilwoman Debra Rogers and her husband, Daniel Rogers.Investigators said the couple admitted they tried to exorcise the demons out of their daughter by pouring olive oil on her while they held her hands behind her back on June 27."I don’t think any person should have to endure what occurred that night," said Edgewater Police Detective Heather Brady.Detectives said it all started when the 18-year-old got into a yelling match with her twin sister.Her father told police he was trying to anoint his daughter with olive oil to "cast the demons out of her.”
Or how about these chimps:
Varsha Mahender Sabhnani, 35, and her husband, Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani, 51, have been held without bail since they were arrested in May on federal charges of forced labor and harboring undocumented immigrants. Prosecutors have said the couple held the housekeepers from 2002 to 2007 as virtual slaves, denying them freedom of movement, subjecting them to serious physical abuse and paying them no wages except for $100 a month sent to relatives abroad. Through lawyers, the Sabhnanis have denied the charges.
Do you still have some sympathy for the human race? If so, consider these stories, just from the last week:
---Viloria said the Reno couple were too distracted by online video games, mainly the fantasy role-playing Dungeons & Dragons series, to give their children proper care

---A customer at a Denny's restaurant found a newborn baby girl in a trash can inside the women's restroom this afternoon, police said

---An investigation is under way involving a nude woman in the middle of a busy road claiming she was taking her 7-week-old baby to meet Satan

---A woman in Orlando, Fla., is accused of throwing her 2-month-old baby into a moving car during an argument with the child's father, according to police.Witnesses said Eva Jean Platt was arguing with her son's father when she tossed the baby as he was preparing to leave in his car.The 2-month-old hit the window and fell to the ground, according to witnesses. The infant is being treated for a fractured skull and bleeding in the brain.

---A DuPage County judge on Saturday set bond at $2 million for a suburban Chicago woman accused of first-degree murder in the death of her daughter....authorities allege Evelyn Beltran had been beaten several times by her mother, and on the evening of July 6, was thrown to the ground after Christina Beltran was angered by her disobedience.That action caused the girl's head to hit the floor, after which the mother is alleged to have jump on the girl and struck her several times about the head and face and repeatedly slammed her head against the floor
And those are just the "parents harming/killing their children" stories. I didn't even include the mutilation of animals, murders of lovers/spouses, political shenanigans, and rapes. Now I know that these people are not representative humans just like I know that the millionaire in Taos N.M. is not representative. But they're still there.

Some people object to the idea of our having evolved from other, lower, primates. (These people are blind idealists who would name poop "grandma's fudge" to preserve their worldview, and they'd eat it too.) Others counter with examples of those primates' intelligence and social cohesion. I'd like to add to that argument their violence.

Chimpanzees are indeed our closest living relatives. But there's more than one kind of chimp. You're probably familiar with bonobo chimps, who are smaller than the "common chimp," and mainly known for being sex-y. They like orgies, the sexes are more or less equal in power, and don't fight much (tiffs lead quickly to more sex, which calms everything down). Common chimps on the other hand are male-dominated, heirarchical, and are known for sexual violence like gang-rape (to the point of death), and the murder of infants of their "new" mates (ie: the baby wasn't his).

Until this year, there were known only these two kinds of chimps. Common and Bonobo.

There is now a third: Bili chimps. These are as violent as bonobos are peaceful. Add another "missing link."

The most interesting thing to me about these chimps is that they seem to be comfortable sleeping on the forest floor. This is strange because most chimps are scared of being eaten by big cats. But these chimps eat big cats. The big cats have learned (just like they've learned about humans) that when you see these bastards you run the other way.

Bili chimps are much, much larger than common chimps (they call them "giant chimps" in the article), are not afraid of humans (duh - they eat leopards!), and their tool use is more advanced than other known apes. They also apparently like to smash things, from termite mounds to live turtles.
Mr Hicks said the animals also have what he calls a "smashing culture" - a blunt but effective way of solving problems. He has found hundreds of snails and hard-shelled fruits smashed for food, seen chimps carrying termite mounds to rocks to break them open and also found a turtle that was almost certainly smashed apart by chimps.
A "smashing culture"! We've found our ancestors! Got a problem? Destroy it with a rock! Got a small child? Hurl it at a moving car!

These chimps are also, like us, doing a little better at the survival game than the average chimp. As the fact that they weren't discovered until 2007 might indicate, they've evaded us for a long time.
The most exciting thing about this population of chimps though is that it is much bigger than anyone realised and may be one of the largest remaining continuous populations of the species left in Africa. Mr Hicks and his colleague Jeroen Swinkels surveyed an area of 7,000 square kilometres and found chimps everywhere. Their unique culture was uniform throughout.
Which means, on second thought, that they're probably smart enough not to kill their own children.

I wonder if they're smart enough to keep from trying to "anoint" them with olive oil?

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