Ryan: Making of an Ant Queen

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The embattled, Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning author Liu Xiaobo wrote that "Life is priceless even to an ant."

An ant colony can only survive for a few months after the death of its queen. On average, queens live 10 to 15 years. Some, up to 30 years, one of the longest insect lifespans, hidden deep within the colony, protected, unable to use her wings because she's a little bigger than she used to be.

Plus she's very busy.

The majority of ants are female. Wingless, sterile worker ants. They build nests, they forage, they hunt.

Theirs is a far briefer life than the queen's, ranging from a few weeks up to a year. But they see more of the outside world than any other ant.

The bigger they are, the farther they travel. And they release pheromones along the way so that they have a trail home.
Drones — winged male ants whose primary function in life is to mate with the queen — die after mating and rarely make it out of the colony.

Then, there are the soldier ants. They protect the colony and attack.

To quote philosopher Bertrand Russell, "Ants and savages put strangers to death."

They go on raids.

The attacking colony rarely loses, so most colonies flee as soon as an invasion begins. But they sometimes remain and fight.
Ants on both sides of the battle die in droves.

Henry David Thoreau describes an ant battle in Walden: "On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely."

If the attackers succeed in overtaking a colony, they pillage the eggs. Some are eaten, fed to larvae. But others become victims of slave raiding. Meaning that the victors return home with their enemy's unborn, feed them, nurse them. Then, when the eggs hatch, the victors force them into slavery.

Often, the slaves even develop an allegiance to the colony which ransacked their home and enslaved them. They'll even help raid other colonies and either die pointlessly or help with the seizure of the next generation of slaves.

Sometimes, however, the slave ants rebel.

In the words of Persian poet Saadi, "Ants, fighting together, will vanquish the lion."

Flying ants, both male and female, leave the colony to form another colony. Once they find a suitable place, the males's wings fall off and they mate to their death. Then one or more of the females becomes queen.

*

It felt odd, any time I sat with a roomful of media, a few hundred journalists from all over the world, as they simultaneously, silently, decided "Yep, that's newsworthy. We should hammer that."

It wasn't like everyone turned to each other and said, "Let's agree on the narrative."

It was an energy.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Like in Houston, at the third Democratic Debate, after Biden misused the word "record player," you could hear chatter spread through the room, people muttering the words "records" and "record player."

In Houston, the media watched the debate from a gymnasium around the corner from the auditorium. So I could contrast the crowd's reactions with the media's reactions.

Nearly every time, there was a disparity between the two. The media were more relaxed — during the debate at least. The audience enjoyed any mentions of identity issues. There were a lot. But the media barely reacted at all.

This was a good thing, probably.

*

It's impressive to see how politicians force their stump speeches into a new form, depending on the context. How they say it like an epiphany.

That night brought the opposite for the ever-fledgling Kamala Harris. I could not believe it. Was this the same woman who'd made Iowa hers, just a little over a month ago?

All night, she was so loyal to the tactic she'd premeditated that she didn't realize it wasn't working, like she kept putting on a puppet show on some busy sidewalk.

At one point, she declared, proudly, "We're not talking about Donald Trump enough."

The most talked-about man in the world, perhaps in our country's history.

In five weeks, she became an entirely different candidate. Her latest version resembled a Xanax-fueled stepmom. It was like she was transforming into Joe Biden.

She kept laughing at her own jokes. And the entire media room cringed every time.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Amy Klobuchar's pre-formed jokes and half-zany dad jokes fell short every time, too. Most of the media saw Klobuchar's long rants as a chance to chat with a neighbor or jet off to the nearest bathroom, which was likely a locker-room full of plastic flight containers and padded camera cases and journalists who curse like sailors.

During the debate, the press was stoic. So if a candidate got a reaction from them, it carried a certain authenticity.

They laughed at things that the audience ignored or disliked or didn't notice. In part because the audience didn't do a whole lot of laughing. But the media laughed like professionals laugh. In-jokey and staid yet ready for anything unexpected.

They loved it when Booker said the thing about "Let me translate that to Spanish … 'No'." And Yang's opening handclaps. As well as Pete Buttigieg's reaction to Yang's raffle.

The biggest laugh of the night in the media center, surprisingly, was when Yang said, "I am Asian, so I know a lot of doctors."

*

Early scientists believed that ants adhere to a complicated hierarchy, which biologist E O Wilson compared to the Hindu caste system. The idea was, ants and humans have a lot in common, and ants belong to a society divided by class and determined by labor.

In the Wealth of Nations, father of capitalism Adam Smith wrote: "It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people."

Ants have been organized into colonized societies since the Cretaceous Period, 140 million years ago, when dinosaurs still dominated the Earth. All of that changed 74 million years later. Which was about 66 million years ago. When a comet slammed into what is now the Yucatan Peninsula, resulting in the KT mass extinction.

80 percent of all plants and animals died. The ash and dust and debris polluted the air, blocked the sunlight, transforming the Earth into a dark, frozen wasteland full of asthma.

Insects, carrion-eaters, and omnivores all survived. Any purely carnivorous animals starved to death, while mammals and birds fed on insects and worms until the earth repopulated itself with more animals that could be eaten.

The K-T Mass Extinction ushered in a new era of life. Species that had lived in constant retreat from predators were suddenly able to form more elaborate purposes.

After these lifeforms thrived for tens of millions of years, certain mammals started to become vaguely humanlike.
Early humans popped up about 300,000 years ago.

Meaning, ants have existed for 140 million years, which is 139.7 million years longer than humans.

For reference, if you counted to 300,000, it would take you roughly three-in-a-half days. To get to 140 million would take about four-and-a-half years.

Humans only began developing language about 100,000 years ago.

Yet we're the ones with libraries and governments and ABBA and iPhones. What did ants have? Other people's sugar?

*

Before the debate, I wandered out of the gymnasium and onto bustling sidewalks with makeshift security fencing on each side. And hopped over the massive yellow tubes that belonged in E.T. and pumped cold air into the building. Past dozens of police and security, through an elaborate weave of temporary checkpoints and wires bigger than a fire hose.

On the street, I passed a group of six-or-so teenagers flipping DELANEY signs around like those cardboard "WE BUY GOLD" banners which actual people bob around while dressed as Elvis or Lady Liberty or a Banana.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The sun cast a delightful orange over Houston, glitter in the humid air.

Those kids were having a blast with those signs. Laughing so hard they had to stop occasionally and slap their legs.

On the other side of the fence, some of the most powerful people in the world were readying for battle, and these kids could not have cared less.

*

The protestors had gathered just outside the gates of the campus entrance.

Far as I could tell, it was me and no other journalists present. The rest of the media were in the gymnasium, preparing for the debate or networking or already on-air. Once they got into the media center they stayed put. For many reasons, I assume.
The air collapsed under a wave of heat unique to Houston.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Gnarled blockades served as borders on both sides of the street. Locked into steel fencing, flanked by rows of police cars with their lights on but their sirens off.

Worse than the humidity, and more intense, was the energy bouncing out of the protestors on Cleburne Street. The opposite of suction energy, shoving out with tension and panic and elation.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up" blared from a Bluetooth speaker. I envisioned a slow zoom from above, beginning with the top of my head and rising, up and up and up. Drawing in the greater scene. Up past Trump's message-board plane. A panorama of city, then county, then state, capturing the topography and nuance of each snapshot of nature.

The higher the camera rose, the more I resembled an ant. One more wingless worker or obedient soldier rushing from place to place on a mission.

And when you got far enough above, you saw the colony that each of us belongs to.

Then it shrank like a passing bobsled, and Earth itself resembled an ant.

The scale of it is daunting.

For thousands of years the sky has filled humans with romance and humility and wonder. A restive impulse that strikes when we gaze up at the moon, the stars, the galaxy, the quiet.

But at ground level, I was a man in the throes of a great human drama. And my job was to document it as neutrally as possible.

The 120-odd protestors on the south side of the street spilled onto the sidewalk and into a lawn, and they chanted as the Trump plane groaned overhead.

They were crowded together, and they were all fighting for different causes. Lots of contradictions under the same banner.
Next to a group of Beto supporters with pro-choice t-shirts, several women chanted

We.
Want.
A pro-life.
Dem.

Chaos itself occupied the south side of the street. The protestors weren't sure how to handle it. So they chanted and sang and probed for the problem. Like so many tiny creatures hauling an orange slice.

Across the street, facing that horde of supporters, two men gripped pro-life signs.

They were the counter-protestors. Their barricade was far wider than needed. The grass around them looked sad, like the trail a dog makes along the fence when it wants to escape.

Behind the two counter-protestors, a mini-bus covered with photos of aborted babies, tangled fetuses, severed and indistinguishable chunks.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Photo by Kevin Ryan

I squinted and gasped and felt downright unwell.

Two days earlier, my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with our first child.

At the very moment I stared at images of tiny human shapes contorted and grey, our baby was the size of a pea.
A few weeks later, we'd see its heartbeat pulsing like a strobe.

I'm not making a statement on abortion. That's not my job as a journalist.

It's more my admiration for the impeccable depth of life. The timing. How messages and symbols confront us all the time, with unmatchable creativity.

Because there I was, literally in the middle of two opposing factions. Again. In the divide. Tangled into so many dichotomies. Life and death. Freedom and oppression. Order and chaos. Activity and stagnation. Creation and loss. Art and nature.

And I had once again remained in the middle.

This brought me tremendous satisfaction. It signified personal and journalistic success.

It was also a bit ridiculous.

As a reporter, I never wanted to pick a side. I already had a side. My side was America, and Ireland. My side was humanity.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. Check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

THESE TOP 10 Founding Fathers' quotes help us remember America's original vision

traveler1116, wynnter, GeorgiosArt | Getty Images

Independence Day is one of the few days when Americans come together to celebrate our country and the continued vision that our Founding Fathers crafted in 1776. But what is that vision? It seems with every passing July 4th, Americans lose even more of a sense of what the original intent of our nation was supposed to be. It's becoming increasingly important to read the Founding Fathers in their own words and to remember the vision that they cast for our nation. Here are our TOP 10 favorite Founding Fathers' quotes to help us remember their original views of government, freedom, and the American vision.

"The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty." —James Madison

GraphicaArtis / Contributor | Getty Images

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

GraphicaArtis / Contributor | Getty Images

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light." —George Washington

Stock Montage / Contributor | Getty Images

"The people are the only legitimate fountain of power." —James Madison

Hulton Archive / Stringer | Getty Images

"I agree with you that it is the duty of every good citizen to use all the opportunities, which occur to him, for preserving documents relating to the history of our country." —Thomas Jefferson

GraphicaArtis / Contributor | Getty Images

“Human passions unbridled by morality and religion… would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.” —John Adams

Stock Montage / Contributor | Getty Images

"Those who stand for nothing will fall for everything." —Alexander Hamilton

Stock Montage / Contributor | Getty Images

“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.” —James Madison

UniversalImagesGroup / Contributor | Getty Images

"I fear that in every elected office, members will obtain an influence by noise, not by sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance, not learning. By contracted hearts, not large souls. There must be decency and respect." —John Adams

National Archives / Handout | Getty Images

“We must go home to be happy, and our home is not in this world. Here we have nothing to do but our duty.” —John Jay

Fine Art / Contributor | Getty Images

We live in a dark time, so it is more important now than ever to make sure you are anchored to the truth.

Glenn was recently on the “Chicks on the Right” podcast for a follow-up interview after Amy Jo Clark and Miriam Weaver joined Glenn on his podcast back in March. The three dove into a lively discussion that touched on several things happening in Glenn's personal life, and Glenn delved into the importance of truth in our increasingly Orwellian society.

Glenn told the “Chicks” about his upcoming first novel for young adults, Chasing Embers, which is set in a dystopian world where the wildest WEF fantasies have come true and history has been completely rewritten. Glenn revealed that he was inspired to write the book while reading Karl Marx. He reflected on how Karl Marx was, and still is in many cases, considered this articulate revolutionary, but when compared to the words of the Founding Fathers, his articulation and arguments pale in comparison. He wanted to explore the idea, "What if Jefferson was the revolutionary again, not Marx?" Chasing Embers asks how we preserve the philosophies of the founders and the values of the Constitution so that our children have a chance to discover it if the world turns completely upside down.

Glenn also discussed how important it is to learn history, to anchor yourself in truth, God, and the Constitution, and our responsibility to preserve them in the face of the dystopian movement that is increasingly encroaching on Western civilization. Glenn described the country as "suicidal" and posited whether we can rein in a nation that is hurdling itself towards the brink. He said we can do our part to help, but unless the country decides it wants to live, it will die. We have to be prepared to endure such a scenario with our morals intact and the necessary knowledge to rebuild on hand.

Towards the end of the conversation, Glenn revealed some of the lessons he's learned in his decades on radio. He said that you have to know yourself--both the good and bad--be ready to defend your beliefs, and admit when you are wrong.

This is a podcast you won't want to miss. Click here to listen to the FULL discussion.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

For the past four years, the mainstream media has been covering for Biden, claiming that he is "fit for duty," despite the strong evidence to the contrary. But after the whole world saw just how "fit" Biden truly is during last night's disastrous debate, the illusion was completely shattered, and the media is scrambling to save face.

Glenn pointed out in his post-debate reaction on his radio show this morning that the mainstream media is in a panic. Biden's performance was so catastrophic that it seems like the Democrats might have to jump ship and find a new candidate. Meanwhile, the question is what to do with Biden between now and the election. Glenn pointed out that as commander-in-chief, Biden has the sole ability to respond to a nuclear threat to America, yet he can hardly complete a sentence.

People from across the political spectrum are reeling from this absolute disaster, weighing in on just how bad it was and making suggestions on how to move forward. We highlighted 10 of these responses below:

1. The Democratic Party is panicking 

2. Undecided voters lean away from Biden

3. Chip Roy calls on Kamala Harris to invoke the 25th Amendment

4. The Democrats look for a replacement 

5. The White House is called out on lies about Biden's health

6. Politico calls out Biden's "uneven" performance 

7. Joy Reid and Obama's crew panic over Biden's display of feebleness 

8. BU historian calls Biden debate 'worst performance by a candidate'

9. Van Jones calls Biden's debate performance 'painful'

10. Biden looked exactly like how conservatives claimed he looks 

​YOU made Target​ choose between profit and 'progress'

Scott Olson / Staff | Getty Images

Have you seen Target's newest pride month collection? Don't worry, you don't have to break your hard-won boycott streak to satisfy your morbid curiosity. Glenn took a look during a recent radio show. If you remember last year's display, you might be expecting horrors such as tuck-friendly bathing suits, chest binders for girls, and apparel made by a transgender Satan apologist. Fortunately, that's not what Glenn found. Instead, the collection was very tame, with one item being a charcuterie board with the phrase, "It's giving charcuterie" printed on it. So what happened? Did Target have a come-to-Jesus moment over the last year?

You. You are what happened.

The Target boycotts did exactly what they were supposed to do, they punched Target right in the wallet. According to the New York Post, Target lost a whopping TEN BILLION dollars in just ten days. You stood up for what you believed and Target had no choice but to listen. And this year's pride collection is proof that they heard you loud and clear.

"The inmates are now in charge of the asylum."

Now, this doesn't represent some change in the ethos of the company, but rather a desperate step back to protect their financial interests. The problem Target is now facing is that they don't have a whole lot of room to step back, as they have spent years cultivating a left-wing, progressive culture that really wants Target to take two steps forward instead. As Glenn said, "The inmates are now in charge of the asylum." These progressive activists within their company that they have pandered to for years don't take being told "no" very well. So when Target rolled back its pride collection, the internal backlash was immense.

Glenn's team was given access to leaked internal messaging within Target's Slack channel. The messages show the outcry of Target employees after Target announced they would be reducing the pride collection. Based on their reactions you would think they had just witnessed a national tragedy unfold. Some employees questioned if they could still work for Target after what had happened (remember, Target is still a VERY progressive company), and other employees discussed submitting ethics complaints. About a month after the internal firestorm, Target employees sent the following list of demands to leadership so that Target could atone:

  • An acknowledgment in writing, of the harm Target caused to the LGBTQ+ community.
  • A sincere apology.
  • To partner with prominent LGBTQ advocacy groups.
  • To immediately reinstate the Pride collection in full.
  • To donate to LGBTQ causes.
  • To implement sensitivity training for employees.
  • To cease all contributions to politicians and organizations that do not support the LGBTQ community.

Target has made a mistake.

By cultivating such a radical progressive community, they have placed themselves in a precarious position. On one side, there's the progressive monster they cultivated, with its ever-growing, ever-changing list of demands. On the other side, there are people like you—people who just want to shop without having to walk by transgender children's underwear. The more Target gives to the woke monster, the more they alienate their customers. Now Target is trapped—if they give in further to the woke mob, they'll lose billions of dollars, but if they don't, they'll be attacked from the inside.

So let Target serve as an example to other companies. Customers have a voice too, and when you stand up and use it, a great many things can happen.