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Friday, October 26, 2018

This is a repeat of my post in March, 2011. There is NOTHING MORE VITAL that I have ever published than this. HINT: the kicker is in the last story of this blog and if you don't care about that, then there will be nothing else left to care about for tomorrow.


Things that amaze me most: Part VIII

As I told you before, there are a number of things/events/emotions that absolutely blow-my-mind because they are so introspectively amazing and give me a deeper sense of awe. So I made a list of the things that amaze me most... some big, some small, some acts, some things... but all, in my mind, amazing.  So far:

Part I:    THE PACIFIC OCEAN
Part II:   BIG NUMBERS
Part III: THE YOUNG: Babies, toddlers and teens
Part IV:  LAUGHTER: A peek into the soul
Part V:   NATURE: Her splendor and fury
PART VI: THE POWER OF 1
PART VII: THE NATURAL LAWS OF PHYSICS


PART VIII: US HUMANS


Big, small, short, tall-- from a single cell embryo to Troy Jackson... who just died at 38. Troy was a basketball player... a 'classic' big man who could handle the ball--and look at how he could handle it. He was 6'10" tall and weighed as much as 500 lbs... or Shaq O'Neil who wears a size 23 shoe.

 Or... the World's Tallest man - Bao Xishun (7ft 7") or... the World's smallest adult, He Pingping (2ft 4").  How the heck did that all happen?

Funny thing is, we all started (with few exceptions-- in vitro fertilization, donor sperm or egg, Mary, mother of God, etc.) the same way. And if you don't know what that way is, then you'd better finally have that talk with mom and dad.

In any case, this is what the initial courtship  looks like... and yes, it is worth a few seconds to watch it.


Aww...The new baby. He/she has mom's eyes... and grandpa's sloping forehead, and cousin Ernie's long, tapered, pool-playing fingers... er, no fingers yet... but just you wait.

It is absolutely mind-blowing INCREDIBLE! From a single cell to... you and me, with all of our complexities, foibles and personalities. And the reason Baby Blue... or Pink, will look like us is that he/she has our genetic imprint... the heredity coding that says if your second toe is longer than your big toe, so will your baby's be... and if that big nose comes from grandpa's side of the family, baby's will look Italian too. The hair, the intelligence, the health, both good and bad, will all come from mom and dad and beyond.

As if that isn't enough, just imagine what we have learned to help us through life... all the technical, medical, psychological and social advances (and detractions) that build from generation to generation. Heck, our great-grandparents could have easily died in childbirth, or from appendicitis, or a bad tooth-ache, as many did! We even watched television in black and white, for God's sake. And we have, for better or worse, adapted to it all. 

Whether we are born here of there, of this race or that, big or small, male or female, we have a commonality to our heirs and one another:

If you are an Adam and Eve fan, then hello brother, hello sister.
If you go more for evolution, then shake hands with me, you big ape.
If you feel there is a place for both, I'm your man, just like him, her, it.


OK... are you ready for the moral of this story? We are all linked and dependent on one another... we just all haven't come to the point of accepting that as a human race. We still hate, show envy and prejudice. We still ignore the human rights and needs of others. We still kill and mistreat. The Golden Rule has nothing on us.

We can do better. We have to, because every moment of every day, there are more of us than ever before--5 times more people now than in 1900-- and we are all living in the same house as we always have... the one we call earth.


One last thought about that "house:" A mom tells of the conversation she had with her daughter... and the simple wisdom of a child that we often forget as we age.

Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling.  I chuckled and asked, “Why?”

She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.”
  
I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?”
  
 “Because that’s where I keep all my stuff.”

(Thanks to Marc and Angel Hack Life website.)

Friday, October 19, 2018

YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WIENER!






Did you win the $1 billion lottery yet? Or maybe the consolation $500 million lottery and are feeling cheated because it was only $500 million? Well, congratulations anyhow. $500 million is still enough to keep going until the money runs out.

Were you one of those who stood in line for over 3 hours at some locations just to buy a ticket or two? Hope it was worth it.

Odds are 1 in 300 million (or about one of the people in the United States) to win. Great odds... and somebody has to win, right? Wrong actually, because no one has won this lottery since last summer... that's how it got so lucrative... and so impossible.

Odds of winning both of these jackpots is 1 in 88 quadrillion (population of earth 293333333 times, but good luck.

Actually, here's my point. If you stood in line for up to 3 hours or more for the opportunity to buy one or more tickets at $2 a pop, would you stand in line for 3 hours to vote this November? Probably most in the lottery line would not, but that's just my guess. Less than half of us vote in almost any election and this is one of the most important.

However, where there is the will, there is a statistical possibility it could be you. Here's my favorite scene from one of my favorite movies, Dumb and Dumber with Jim Carey and Dave Daniels on how hope and a positive attitude actually keep you in play. Odds, schmads, you can do it.

BUT CAN YOU... AND WILL YOU VOTE THIS NOVEMBER? JUST DO IT AND KEEP OUR HOPES UP THAT WE, AS A PEOPLE, WIN!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Where is Jiminy Cricket, our one time national conscience, when we need him most: A dedication to every woman, man or child who has ever been abused in any way.





Crikey!, it's Jiminy Cricket.

This is an interesting story. Jiminy, which is his real-fake first name, sould become a symbol, with a more personal message so appropriate today.



Jiminy first appeared in Carlo Colodi's 1883 children's book, The Adventures of Pinocchio, from which Walt Disney's Pinocchio was born in 1940, and he co-starred with "you know who." He is Pinocchio's friend and conscience, as appointed by The Blue Fairy after she has given Geppetto's puppet life. Jiminy narrates the story, sings,some songs, mentors and guides, clicks his heels and most importantly, whistles. He is admirable. He could/should be President.

Pinocchio lying.
And when Pinocchio lied, his nose grew longer and longer so everyone knew he was lying. I've noticed a a lot of long noses lately.

Jiminy's name came from an old, polite euphemism for Jesus Christ, spoken earlier in film by of the dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. So '"Jiminy Cricket!," can't we all be better than that?

And you can't convince me Australia's Crikey! wasn't just another derivation of the same expression.

But mostly, Jiminy became an 'everybody conscience' as World War II was at our doorstep and the morality of Pinocchio was what we watched as right prevailed over wrong in a satisfying, tearful way.

Here are the memorable songs in the movie (if you're old enough to remember):
  1.  When you Wish Upon a Star
  2. Jiminy Cricket Theme
  3. The Blue Fairy Theme
  4. Give A Little Whistle
  5. Pinocchio Goes To School
  6. Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life For Me)
  7. I've Got No Strings
  8. Coach To Pleasure Island
  9. The Whale Chase
  10. Turn On The Old Music Box
All the songs are listenable if you Google Pinocchio songs and they are fun, but I took Give A Little Whistle to heart:

When you get in trouble
And you don't know right from wrong
Give a little whistle, give a little whistle

When you meet temptation
And the urge is very strong
Give a little whistle, give a little whistle

Not just a little squeak, pucker up and blow
And if you're whistle is weak, yell

(Pinnochio)

Jiminy Cricket!

(Jiminy Cricket)

Right!

Take the strait and narrow path
And if you start to slide
Give a little whistle, give a little whistle
And always let your conscience be your guide

Take the strait and narrow path
And if you start to slide
Give a little whistle (yoo-hoo)
Give a little whistle (yoo-HOO!)
And always let your conscience be your guide
We need you Blue Fairy


(Pinnocchio)

And always let your conscience be your guide!


Jiminy Cricket, can't we be better than we are? 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

AN ELEVATOR TO GOD (ok, to space because we don't actually know where heaven is located) IN OUR LIFETIME! (Not yours though baby boomers)

Blogger note: This original post was published almost 5 years ago... but amazingly, it is now a doable thing to cheaply deliver people, supplies to the International Space Station AND BEYOND! Read this post because it is accurate and good... but then read the addenda at the end which adds a few more truly amazing facts, though some information on Elon Musk has changed to date.
 

SciFi author Arthur C. Clakre wrote about it in his 1979 novel The Fountains of Paradise and it WAS science fiction then... but not any more. There are scientists who think it can be done--and it could be a reality in this century, possibly as early as 2050.

Now that's pretty impressive!

Spoiler alert: much of the technical language is not understood by mere mortals. It is included to impress you so you think I do.)

"It's a phenomenal enabling technology that would open up our Solar System to humankind," says Peter Swan, President of the International Space Elevator Consortium. "I think the first ones will be robotic, and then 10-15 years after that, we'll have six to eight elevators that are safe enough to carry people."

The concept is simple. First, you would need a landing station that, let's say, would be the equivalent of floor 12,000,003 (avoiding the 13th floor, of course). That landing station, maybe called God's Little Acre, would be a satellite or space-debris platform in geosynchronous orbit with the earth--a floating anchor, so to speak--and there are lots of possibilities out there.

Earth station would best be about 600 miles west of the Galapagos Islands because of the rarity of hurricanes, tornadoes and typhoons in that area, say those smarter than me.

Then you need a very strong cable--which doesn't yet exist--running between the two. There are now several concepts that would produce a cable with sufficient strength. One is a diamond-like nanothread material. Another is a cable made of carbon nanotubes with a tensile strength of 63 gigapascal--about 13 times stronger than the toughest steel. And that cable would need to be about 60,000 miles long. (Remember, up AND back with a counterweight and/or maglev technology similarly as used on high-speed trains.)

Oh, and we'd have to dig up an extra $100 BILLION or so.

Now here's the kicker... IT IS POSSIBLE, say many involved with the knowledge and desire to do it. But how does one go from concept to reality?

The reason we would do this? It would be incredibly less costly to send stuff to space... and from this platform, the universe would open to us as never before. 

Elon Musk, one of the most fascinating people of today, has offered his say. He is the genius behind SpaceX which develops and launches space vehicles, CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors. He is also the founder of SpaceX and a co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors. He has also envisioned a conceptual high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop.

With Hyperloop, Musk envisions 'shooting' people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a metal tube in just 35 minutes. How's that for a starter? But regarding the space elevator, he says it would be easier to "have a bridge from LA to Tokyo." So what does he know?

Interestingly, as bizarre as this seems, remember that the Wright brothers' first flight was in 1903. Who then would have visualized humans would land on the moon just 66 years later--less than a lifetime!

As Groucho Marx said, "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

Special updated info... this is not only doable but in the planning stage!

Lead from the Wall Street Journal, Sept., 2018

"Gradually you accelerate upward, reaching a cruising speed of several hundred miles per hour. Your elevator car moves up a cable 100 million times as long as it is wide--connected on one end to a platform in the ocean (Ed. comment--See, I told you so) and, on the other end, to a counterweight, a heavy mass orbiting high above the planet--kept taut by centrifugal forces. It takes about two weeks to reach the top of the cabl, some 60,000 miles above the Earth's surface. But the trip is serene, with none of the G-force of a rocket ride."

The elevators would be able to carry people and supplies to space without the need for a space shuttle and the special skills required of its occupants to fly it... and at much less cost! But really, can we do it?

Yep, it is technically possible... and as we do more, we learn more and have the advantage of all the discoveries to follow by the target year, 2050. A Japanese firm is already working on it and says do-ability by 2035 is target.

Well, then all we need is that little bit of competition to do it first. A NASA-backd company won the battle to try.

In a word, WOW! 


Thursday, September 13, 2018

All The News That's Fit to Print: Eulogy for a dying media

The NYTimes and one of its special inserts






It was Benjamin Harris of Boston who, in 1690, published Public Occurrences, the first newspaper in America. While it lasted just one issue, it was the beginning of the most informative media ever.

This is a look at that media in all its glory, the irony being that as it gets better, it still dies in the hearts and minds of today's world, replaced by the internet, that snot-nosed little kid, Social Media and its siblings.

Newspaper readership today is just half the number that read in the mid 1970s. And of those newspapers, less than half are today published daily.

Newspapers, however, still have a unique place. They are overwhelmingly honest and sincere in coverage of all the news, no matter how they are tarred by the President.  They are honest, albiet with an editorial voice that expresses a specific view point at times. There is no made-up news, quite unlike social media where users are allowed to say anything without check.

All newspapers have suffered the loss of readers and advertisers by glitzier competition that does have its place, but nothing covers more local and national news as newspapers,  Today's people just have more options to choose from and more things to do than read a newspaper. That's life.

However, to salute the power to be important, there are few that do it as well as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and others like them, most in major markets where there is the population and are advertisers that help make them go.

Where I live, my very fine local paper is published only twice a week. It covers important local news really well. But I still fork out $6.41 every Sunday for The NY Times. It remains a full-day read of 5 or 6 sections, feature stories as well as news, plus a  highly regarded book review magazine and The NYTimes magazine with a crossword that could last far longer. No comics though.

It has many special sections like the impressive one shown here, Sunday In the Park, a 16-pager pulled together by 10 photographers and reporters to feature all 117 people enjoying the Sheep Meadow section of Central Park in the heart of Manhattan on a warm summer Sunday. It is filled with special interest and people personality... and the tiny stories that wouldn't see the light of day if it weren't for newspapers. It is a treat to enjoy. Take that Facebook. Newspapers have staff to do that stuff... and be held responsible.

Here's how the pros do it

The overview of A Sunday in the Park, 4 feet wide unfolded
The other side... the people close up with comments
Another take on newspapers: Today's Riddle: What is black and white and red all over?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Is it all in the music? Hope not!









Take it from a guy who can't carry a tune, these one hit wonders had this take on where we are headed as a people way back in 1969. In the Year 2525 topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts for six weeks, maybe because it had that perfect melody and mood for the time but more because it was a haunting look at a future that can't be fully imagined until we are half-way there, almost 500 years early according to the song.

"Its overriding theme of a world doomed by its passive acquiescence and overdependence on its own overdone technologies struck a resonant chord in millions of people in the world in the late 1960s, " says Wikipedia.

Imagine... in the 1960s there was evidence, even years before personal computers were sold, let alone the cell phone which now puts 1,000 time more computer power in your hand than the units first used to send man into space. Of course we did have Popular Science Magazine, (founded in 1872) and the like, which became outlets for ideas and writings of Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur, Thomas Henry Huxley, Henry Ward Beecher and other brilliant minds. We were dreamers than and now.

And look at how far we have come: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the name of the game. Robots doing everything imaginable, Cars, trucks and plane driving and flying themselves, The capability to print body parts ... and guns too, Social media and the capability to know everything about everybody, Global warming... and we are still a long way away from a full roll-out of what might, could, or will be done for good... and the not so good alike. I think that is called unintended consequences.

Wanna see? Here are the lyrics:

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may find
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do, and say
Is in the pill you took today

In the year 4545
Ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you

In the year 5555
Your arms are hanging limp at your sides
Your legs got nothing to do
Some machine is doing that for you

In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube' Whoooa

In the year 7510
If God's a-comin' he ought to make it by then
Maybe he'll look around himself and say
Guess it's time for the Judgement day

In the year 8510

Judgement Day by Willirm de Kooning in the National Gallery

God is gonna shake his mighty head then
He'll either say I'm pleased where man has been
Or tear it down and start again

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wondering if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing

Now it's been 10, 000 years
Man has cried a billion tears
For what he never knew
Now man's reign is through
But through eternal night
The twinkling of starlight
So very far away
Maybe it's only yesterday

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive
They may thrive
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do or say
Is in the pill you took today....(fading...)

And the song as sung by Zager and Evans.

Yep, sometimes songs tell a story that rings too true to enjoy. 

Blog note: I'm hardly ever this dark but when reminded of this song, I couldn't help myself but to draw an eerie parallel. However, as a glass half-full person, this is only an observation in time. But it does feel we are moving ever faster down that path.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

John McCain, SNL host and star








It's not often we see a politician turn comedian and be really good. This is not one of those times... but it it a view into the SNL life of a great man with a healthy sense of humor.

This clip has a few of his skits when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 2002. He wasn't the best host ever, but what he was, is plenty good enough. He not only hosted  SNL but he had numerous other cameos that were seriously funny. See the clip below for when he sings Streisand and other bits of gold.

There has been an outpouring of love and affection for McCain because he has truly earned the honor and respect of most people... unless you are somewhat in the dark or President of the United States.

A current documentary of his life includes rare footage of the 5 1/2 years he spent in "Hanoi Hilton," perhaps the harshest and most dreaded prisoner of war compound known during the Vietnam War. How anyone could have sustained through what McCain and all the other brave men to suffer such a plight is unimaginable for most of us. I actually met and heard a speech given by the next P.O.W. to arrive after McClain and he spoke of those times and the will and spirit to sustain with honor. Two full years of solitary confinement and torture... and then 3 1/2 more. Really!

Then, as a public servant of highest regard for the rest of his life. Who could ask for more?

McCain believed in cooperation and compromise with others for the better good of all. Sadly, there are few like him remaining.
  
"Ameria didn't invent human rights. Those rights are common to all people: nations, cultures, and religions cannot choose to simply opt out of them. John McCain

And talk about McCain singing Streisand and more, you really should watch this.

We will miss you, John McCain... both Republicans and Democrats, Independents and almost everyone else, save one, we shall miss you.

LAST BIT OF HIS WISDOM: "If you want to persevere--and I am very serious now--if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started." John McCain

Monday, August 20, 2018

This and that... and 76 ducklings

Every good blog needs a "grabber" to pique your interest. So how are 76 ducklings all in a row? "Aww... " you say?

It's good to say "Aww" once in a while, but with no adorable cat pictures handy, how is that possible? That's where76 ducklings with one mama duck comes in. I'll tell you all about the ducklings in a minute. 

Newspapers use to do this all the time... catch your broader interest, I mean. I remember newspapers. Big and bulky pages with ink that sometimes gets on your hands or clothes, lots of words, lots of stories big and small, (and a comics section in most) almost always reported in greater depth than in social media and television (if they even made the cut).

Some of the tid-bits I read in newspapers lately:

  • Almost one in five teachers quit teaching within their first five years. And it's not because they made so much money that they could retire. Sadly, few teachers are, in this vital full time profession, able to support a family on that salary. As a people, we value education highly, but almost never vote to fund for the value it is.
  • The common border we share with Canada is the longest international boundary in the world... and as a P.S., Canada also has a Muslim population of more than one million. 
  • Sharks can turn their stomachs inside-out.
  • Venezuela's inflation rate is expected to exceed one million percent by year's end.
  • An impressive home in the west just went on the market for $14,999,999.99. I'll bet people will be jumping on a chance to buy this place for less than $15 million, because who can afford a $15 million house? And like that, a home in 'The Hamptons' sold a while back for $137 million--the highest price so far for a U.S. home. And I hear it was bought as a tear-down.
  • Mary Ellis died at 101... she flew 400 Spitfire fighter planes and 76 other aircraft to the front lines in World War II."Everyone was flabbergasted that a little girl like me could fly these big airplanes."  and Doris Arndt, who was a well known circus animal trainer commanding tigers and lions and bears, (Oh, my...), died at 88. Wonder Women have always been with us but it seems so many still have not noticed.
  • And you get the most interesting classified ads:



 See what you can learn in newspapers that you might miss elsewhere

Oh, about the mama duck and ducklings.... they are common mergansers and females lay their eggs in multiple nests to be incubated and cared for. It's like a day care system called a creche where a few matriarchal females watch after things while newer mama's molt... or celebrate with a big party, I guess. To have 76 ducklings under one care is, however, quite unusual. Ostriches also creche.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

NO YOU CAN'T! Yes you can! Yes you can! Yes you can! yes you can! Yes you can! Yes you can!

Debbie Downer played by SNL's Rachel Dracht




Studies over the years have shown that it takes six to nine positive affirmations to counter one negative thought or expression to our equilibrium.

... and it might take more than that! Just ask Debbie Downer.

Debbie Downer is a Saturday Night Live character acted by comedian Rachel Dracht over the years... a classic negative affirmation speaker. She can bring a house down faster than an earthquake.Take a look at what I mean in this SNL clip.

It is amazing that the influence of the negative is so powerful. It's like watching the news and wondering if there are any decent people left. Good doesn't often make headlines because it more represents us as we normally are. Negative affirmations feed a distorted imprint that can be depressing and even habit-forming in the way we see ourselves.

Cynics love Debbie Downers. Modern cynicism has been defined as an attitude of distrust toward claimed ethical and social values. It is pessimistic and damaging to the good of our hearts and minds and calls for a greater positive effort to get back to middle ground.

In today's world, being positive sometimes is hard, but being negative is a slippery slope than that creates a misguided mindset and takes us down. While I love hearing the raspy, soft voice of classic songstress Peggy Lee singing "Is that all there is." I think the Beetles had it more right with "Here comes the sun."

We all deserve more than anything a Debbie Downer has to say. 


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Best Quote Ever... EVER!




A few years back, an Italian journalist asked Pope Francis how he might act as a confessor to a gay person. He responded, "Who am I to judge."

He further said, "I am glad we are talking about homosexual people because before all else comes the individual person in his wholeness and dignity... people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive His infinite love."

Now about this being the best quote ever, it is not because it was said by Pope Francis, though that certainly adds emphasis, it is because it is true to all, even if it is not espoused. Kings judge, dictators and tyrants judge, religions judge and wars are fought because of judgements, but we are humans with flaws and frailties. We have been known, however, to strive to be above the worst of us.

 If you do read the bible or other religious texts, you will see wording and expressions saying, in effect, "Judge not lest you be judged."


One of the first rules of living is that you are the person most responsible to yourself... the only one who can directly affect your moral outcome. So why is it our job to judge anyone as worse or different than us as being less than us. We are all more alike than different.

If you can make even one small gesture of that understanding today, you will have made the world--and your moral self--better. What power is that!  

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Koko died! But here's what you don't know.

Koko: July 4, 1971 - June 19, 2018
Koko was no ordinary gorilla... or maybe she was. She and a female chimpanzee named Washoe (who died in 2007) changed the way we think about "creatures" who are near our genetic make-up but really, not like us. We teach our pets to sit, stay, lie down and more and we give them credit for understanding us, communicating in all manners of obeying and knowing what we think, but we have given them less credit for being as much like us as Koko and Washoe have done.

Koko with caretaker Penny Patterson
From the Los Angeles Times: "Koko's instructor and caregiver, Francine (Penny) Patterson,  reported that Koko was able to understand more than 1,000 signs of what Patterson calls "Gorilla Sign Language (GSL) in contrast to other experiments attempting to teach sign language to non-human primates. Patterson simultaneously exposed Koko to spoken English from an early age. It was reported that Koko understood approximately 2,000 words of spoken English, in addition to the signs.

"I knew the two great apes when I was young and they were young," says Patterson, "and I've closely followed the scientific, philosophical and moral upheavals they precipitated over the last five decades. In the 1960 and "70s, they learned to use American sign language, and they came to understand that words could be combined to convey new meanings. It threw the scientific world into a tizzy, implying that sentience and language were not ours alone, that there was a continuum in higher mental abilities that linked animals and humans."

There are some scientific disbelievers but Patterson makes a strong case. And so do the many who have seen, interacted and conversed with Koko. First it was Washoe who noted a bird on the water and signed "bird" and "water." The schentific question was: Is Washoe simply noting bird and water separately or, not knowing the term, putting the two together to say water bird?

Not being a scientist, I vote for Washoe noting "water bird," and thus, cognitively, thinking like a human might. Then there was Koko who noted a ring on the finger of a visitor. Not knowing the word for ring, Koko signed "finger" and then "bracelet." Pretty good, huh?

This, from Wikipedia, was pretty convincing: 
Researchers at The Gorilla Foundation said that Koko asked for a cat for Christmas in 1983. Ron Cohn, a biologist with the foundation, explained to the Los Angeles Times that when she was given a lifelike stuffed animal, she was less than satisfied. She did not play with it and continued to sign "sad". So on her birthday in July 1984, she was able to choose a kitten from a litter of abandoned kittens
Koko selected a gray male Manx and named him "All Ball". Penny Patterson, who had custody of Koko and who had organized The Gorilla Foundation, wrote that Koko cared for the kitten as if it were a baby gorilla. Researchers said that she tried to nurse All Ball and was very gentle and loving. They believed that Koko's nurturing of the kitten and the skills she gained through playing with dolls would be helpful in Koko's learning how to nurture an offspring. 
In December 1984, All Ball escaped from Koko's cage and was hit and killed by a car. Later, Patterson said that when she signed to Koko that All Ball had been killed, Koko signed "Bad, sad, bad" and "Frown, cry, frown, sad". Patterson also reported later hearing Koko making a sound similar to human weeping. 
 In 1985, Koko was allowed to pick out two new kittens from a litter to be her companions. The animals she chose, she named "Lipstick" and "Smoky", were also Manxes. Koko picked the name after seeing the tiny orange Manx for the first time. When her trainer asked the meaning of the name, Koko answered, Lips lipstick.To celebrate her birthday in July 2015, Koko was presented another litter of kittens. Picking two, she named them Miss Black and Miss Grey.

In her lifetime Koko was visited by many notables. You'd have a hard time convincing Robin Williams, Fred Rgers, Betty White, William Shatner, Fle, Leonardo DiCaprio, Peter Gabriel and Sting that Koko was not reasonably fluent, understanding, charming, gentle and more.
Another indication that Koko and others before her are like us in many ways... they have been know to lie and cuss... but in a very modest and admitting way. 
And then who could deny that Jane Goodall didn't understand this potential many years earlier. "You cannot share your life with with a dog, as I have done in Bournemouth, or a cat, and not know perfectly well that animals have personalities and minds and feelings."
There are a number of other bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans that have shown advancing skills but it is Koko that has been the star of them all. She will be missed.

Here's a documentary on Koko and her amazing life... and the people around her.