Cool Stuff Friday.

Bamboo coral. Credit: Rob Zugaro.


Gorgeous red spiny crab. Credit: Rob Zugaro.

Last month, a team of 58 scientists from around the world embarked on 31 day oceanic voyage to research the ethereal life forms living at the bottom of the ocean off the Eastern coast of Australia. On May 15, the Sampling The Abyss team set out from Bell Bay in Launceston, Tasmania. During their month aboard the Marine National Facility research vessel, appropriately named Investigator, the crew visited seven different Commonwealth Marine Reserves, which are essentially National Parks for sea creatures, before returning to port in Brisbane mid-June.

The expedition was initiated by Museums Victoria in partnership with the NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub, and a government research organization called the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). The goal of the trip was not only to document undiscovered sea life, but to research how they have adapted to harsh living conditions two-and-a-half miles below the ocean surface.

Check out a daily blog about the voyage here, and check out more videos on the Marine Biodiversity Hub’s YouTube Channel.

You can read and see more at The Creators Project.

For years Westerners have experimented with wearing traditional Japanese clothing like the kimono and jinbei. The results have, at best, been mixed. Let’s just say that it takes a certain type of non-Japanese man or women to wear a kimono without looking out of place. I for one, have never even felt the urge to try, that is until my recent encounter with the T-Kimono.

Check out the T-Kimono, a truly great alternative to the uptight Western suit.

Anyone who questions baking as an art form should look no further than the cookies made by Okashi no Kobito. Professional cookie artist Nobuyo Toyono began this enterprise creating edible masterpieces out of Osaka after graduating from confectionery vocational school (yes, there is such a thing). Using all-natural ingredients, Toyono designs, bakes, and ices each and every cookie by hand.

According to her website, Toyono pledges to “put her heart and soul into making colorful iced cookies that will make you smile.” Most incredibly, the eye-catching colors she uses in the icing are made from natural pigments: beets (red), spirulina algae (blue), beni imo potatoes (purple), gardenia (yellow & green), and cocoa (brown). Her creations are intricate and whimsical and so beautifully made that it’s almost a shame to eat them.

Check out her Instagram for even more examples of her confectionery handiwork.

Via Spoon & Tamago.

Ribbonesia.

Absolutely check out all the amazing work of Ribbonesia! You can see and read much more at Spoon & Tamago.

Aficionados of Microsoft’s Clippy can now have an enamel pin. The Creators Project has all the info.

Cool Stuff Friday.

Images courtesy the artists.

Take a few moments from your day to get acquainted with Botanica, a blend of music, art, and science.

In 2012, Italian music group Deproducers launched a project of science-related albums, with the first, Planetario, exploring the topic of astrophysics. For their second musical science project, Botanica, Deproducers brought back the design studio Super Symmetry to create a multimedia live performance that highlights the beauty and artistic wonder of plants by merging music and scientific data. All told, there are 30 videos for Botanica, exploring things like plant roots, psychoactivity, and deforestation, amongst other topics, by way of grids, video footage, graphics, information, generative animation, and other visuals. Like Data Garden’s bio-reactive installation, Quartet, Botanica elevates the natural wonder of plants to a plane equal with human creativity.

While Planetario featured a collaboration with astrophysicist Fabio Peri, Botanica includes a collaboration with botanist Stefano Mancuso. During the live show, before the band begins to play, Mancuso gives a brief “science lesson” about the songs, and how each of the topics are interlinked. For each live show, Super Symmetry is tasked with visually integrating the musical and scientific aspects of the project.

There is much, much more at The Creators Project.

We could all use more Mr. Rogers.

Install shot of Topophilia. Image courtesy Wyoming Art Party.

Check out the Wild Wombs of the West!

Martha Wilson performing as Donald Trump in “Art Rising” at Trump Tower.

And don’t miss the art protest performance which took place at Trump Tower.

DAPL Approval Illegal, Judge Finds.

Trump on DAPL. © Marty Two Bulls.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law in its fast-tracked approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a U.S. District Court Judge in Washington D.C. has ruled. Judge James Boasberg said the Corps did not consider key components of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in granting the Lake Oahe easement under the Missouri River when directed to do so by President Donald Trump shortly after his swearing-in.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, with the Cheyenne River Sioux as interveners, had challenged the approval on the grounds that adequate environmental study had not been conducted. Boasberg agreed on many points, though he did not rule on whether the pipeline should remain operational. It has been carrying oil since June 1.

“Although the Corps substantially complied with NEPA in many areas, the Court agrees that it did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial,” Boasberg said in his 91-page decision. “To remedy those violations, the Corps will have to reconsider those sections of its environmental analysis upon remand by the Court. Whether Dakota Access must cease pipeline operations during that remand presents a separate question of the appropriate remedy, which will be the subject of further briefing.”

A status conference will be held next week, according to the environmental law firm EarthJustice, which is representing the tribes in this case. Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline’s builders, did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

“This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II in a statement. “The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests. We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence, and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately. ”

Indian Country Today has the full story.

Where there’s the smallest good news, there’s always bad news, and in this case, it comes in the form of Zinke:

“I think, talking to tribes, they’re very happy,” Zinke said of his proposal, adding that he “talked to all parties, and they’re pretty happy and willing to work with us.”

But this is not so, according to tribal representatives. In a June 12 press call hosted by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), the vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said the tribe’s leaders have “maintained a consistent position that they support the monument designation.

“If there is any happiness,” Branch said,” it’s probably that the monument remains intact as of now.

“I think [the ‘happy’ characterization] is probably just a characterization coming from Trump,” Branch added.

Natalie Landreth, a lawyer with the Native American Rights Fund who represents the Hopi, Zuni and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes on Bears Ears issues, said during the Udall call that the proclamation that set up Bears Ears as a national monument had already formed a structure in which five tribes, known as the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, work together to co-manage the monument.

“It’s unclear exactly what the secretary is suggesting, so until we know more details about what he’s talking about, it’s difficult to have a view on it,” Landreth said. “Our initial reaction on behalf of the three tribes we represent is that this was really a cynical effort to distract Indian country from the devastating blow of reducing the size of the monument.”

Landreth said that some of her impacted tribal clients told her as of June 12 that Zinke had not been in touch with them on this matter.

“We don’t know who he’s talking to and what they may have said,” Landreth said.

Full story here.

Valley Fever and No Healthcare.

Dust storms spike with Valley fever cases. The largest number of dust storms from 1988 to 2011 are concentrated in the SW states reporting the highest numbers of fever cases.

The infection rate of Valley Fever in the Southwest United States has gone up a stunning 800 percent from 2000 to 2011, as dust storms have more than doubled.

New research directly links the rise in Valley Fever to the rise in dust storms, which in turn is driven by climate change. Valley Fever, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “a fungal lung infection that can be devastating,” is caused by inhaling soil-dwelling fungus. When the soil dries out and turns to dust, the wind can make the fungus airborne.

“Dust storms are found to better correlated with the disease than any other known controlling factor,“ a new study led by NOAA scientists concluded.

[…]

But the biggest concern about modern Dust-Bowlification is the tremendous challenge of “feeding some 9 billion people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly worsening climate.” This is why climate action is so urgent and vital.

This all goes along nicely with the rethuglican agenda of making sure a whole lot of people will die from a lack of good nutrition and healthcare. Until the day comes along they are personally threatened, there won’t be minds changing. Unfortunately, money makes a very nice cushion against what always hits the poorer people first. Speaking of the Fuck You Care Plan, the secrecy continues:

Senate Republicans plan to send their health care bill to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for analysis but don’t yet have a plan to release a draft of the bill for public scrutiny, according to Axios.

“We aren’t stupid,” an aide to a Senate Republican told Axios.

It’s perhaps understandable that Senate Republicans would want to shine as little light as possible on an unpopular bill that could cause millions of people to lose their health insurance.

The Senate is reportedly putting the final touches on a health care bill that looks very similar to the so-called American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the House. According to the CBO, the House version would cost 23 million Americans their health insurance while dramatically increasing costs for older Americans and people with pre-existing conditions, in part because of the bill’s $834 billion cut to Medicaid over the next decade.

[…]

“We have no idea what’s being proposed,” McCaskill said, addressing chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “There’s a group of guys in a back room somewhere that are making these decisions… Listen, this is hard to take.”

“You couldn’t have a more partisan exercise than what you’re engaged in right now,” she continued. “We’re not even gonna have a hearing on a bill that impacts one-sixth of our economy. We’re not going to have an opportunity to offer a single amendment. It is all being done with an eye to try to get it by with 50 votes and the vice president.”

[…]

McCaskill went on to blast McConnell for his hypocrisy. Before the 2014 election that returned control of the Senate to Republicans, McConnell “pledged to send bills through committees, even if it might upset members of his own conference,” as The Hill reported in May of that year. But last week, McConnell gave the health care bill “fast track” status, meaning it can skip the committee process altogether.

Republican hypocrisy was also evidence during the House process. Before the 2010 election that returned control of the House to Republicans, House Republican leaders unveiled their “Pledge to America.” The pledge contained a “Read the Bill” promise vowing, “We will ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives.” But a number of House Republicans admitted to not even reading the AHCA before they cast a vote for it.

Think Progress has the full stories: Valley Fever and What Healthcare?

My Kind of Study.

It’s long been associated with anger and coarseness but profanity can have another, more positive connotation. Psychologists have learned that people who frequently curse are being more honest. Writing in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science a team of researchers from the Netherlands, the UK, the USA and Hong Kong report that people who use profanity are less likely to be associated with lying and deception.

Anyone who has been reading me for any length of time knows I tend to cuss. A lot. Can’t say I’ve ever considered it to be a possible mark of honesty though.

The international team of researchers set out to gauge people’s views about this sort of language in a series of questionnaires which included interactions with social media users.

In the first questionnaire 276 participants were asked to list their most commonly used and favourite swear words. They were also asked to rate their reasons for using these words and then took part in a lie test to determine whether they were being truthful or simply responding in the way they thought was socially acceptable. Those who wrote down a higher number of curse words were less likely to be lying.

This is interesting, but I have to wonder if the ability to lie was taken into account. Many children in abusive situations learn to lie extremely well. I was one of those, and while I can rarely be arsed to lie in adulthood, I am very good at it. Someone who is a good liar wouldn’t neglect a good intensifier. There’s an obvious tendency for those listening to take someone at their word, too. That would answer for people assuming someone who was cussing to be truthful, because we still have that ‘in polite company’ thing in our heads. We are, well most of us, taught that cussing isn’t polite from a very early age. Our languages are littered with euphemisms in place of cussing, which are considered to be acceptable, golly, darn, geez, etc. A lot of that has to do with so much cussing being religiously based.

A second survey involved collecting data from 75,000 Facebook users to measure their use of swear words in their online social interactions. The research found that those who used more profanity were also more likely to use language patterns that have been shown in previous research to be related to honesty, such as using pronouns like “I” and “me”. The Facebook users were recruited from across the United States and their responses highlight the differing views to profanity that exist between different geographical areas. For example, those in the north-eastern states (such as Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and New York) were more likely to swear whereas people were less likely to in the southern states (South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi).

As a native Californian, cussing was often heard, and often a part of any conversation. Especially if you were in the surfing crowd. Here in nDakota, cussing is not heard much at all, and it’s frowned upon for the most part. That’s changed a bit over the past 20 years, but not a great deal. The more rural you go, the more frowning it gets.

The full story is here.

Jumping Spiders, Galileo, and Twitter.

Kaldari/Wikipedia.

A fascinating story about a rain of jumping spiders, their penchant for hunting laser dots, scientists being brought together on Twitter, and how Jumping Spider eyes are built just like Galilean telescopes – they can see the moon. If you, like me, start following videos from the main one at the site, you’ll find all manner of people who keep these friendly and smart beings as companions.

The Atlantic has the full story.

Another Nail in the Garden of Eden.

Two views of a composite reconstruction of the earliest known Homo sapiens fossils from Jebel Irhoud in Morocco, based on micro computed tomographic scans of multiple original fossils, are shown in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters June 7, 2017. Philipp Gunz, MPI EVA Leipzig/Handout via REUTERS.

The understanding of human origins was turned on its head on Wednesday with the announcement of the discovery of fossils unearthed on a Moroccan hillside that are about 100,000 years older than any other known remains of our species, Homo sapiens.

Scientists determined that skulls, limb bones and teeth representing at least five individuals were about 300,000 years old, a blockbuster discovery in the field of anthropology.

The antiquity of the fossils was startling – a “big wow,” as one of the researchers called it. But their discovery in North Africa, not East or even sub-Saharan Africa, also defied expectations. And the skulls, with faces and teeth matching people today but with archaic and elongated braincases, showed our brain needed more time to evolve its current form.

“This material represents the very root of our species,” said paleoanthropologist Jean-Jacques Hublin of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, who helped lead the research published in the journal Nature.

Before the discovery at the site called Jebel Irhoud, located between Marrakech and Morocco’s Atlantic coast, the oldest Homo sapiens fossils were known from an Ethiopian site called Omo Kibish, dated to 195,000 years ago.

“The message we would like to convey is that our species is much older than we thought and that it did not emerge in an Adamic way in a small ‘Garden of Eden’ somewhere in East Africa. It is a pan-African process and more complex scenario than what has been envisioned so far,” Hublin said.

Fascinating! I’m sure as soon as all the creationists hear, they’ll be busy cooking up wild refutations of some sort. Full story here. And, from Nature:

Fossil evidence points to an African origin of Homo sapiens from a group called either H. heidelbergensis or H. rhodesiensis. However, the exact place and time of emergence of H. sapiens remain obscure because the fossil record is scarce and the chronological age of many key specimens remains uncertain. In particular, it is unclear whether the present day ‘modern’ morphology rapidly emerged approximately 200 thousand years ago (ka) among earlier representatives of H. sapiens1 or evolved gradually over the last 400 thousand years2. Here we report newly discovered human fossils from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, and interpret the affinities of the hominins from this site with other archaic and recent human groups. We identified a mosaic of features including facial, mandibular and dental morphology that aligns the Jebel Irhoud material with early or recent anatomically modern humans and more primitive neurocranial and endocranial morphology. In combination with an age of 315 ± 34 thousand years (as determined by thermoluminescence dating)3, this evidence makes Jebel Irhoud the oldest and richest African Middle Stone Age hominin site that documents early stages of the H. sapiens clade in which key features of modern morphology were established. Furthermore, it shows that the evolutionary processes behind the emergence of H. sapiens involved the whole African continent.

The Sex Life of Truffles.

Prices for a black truffle can exceed €1000 a kilogram, especially because this highly-sought after fungus—a gastronomic delicacy—still resists domestication. Researchers are trying to understand its particularly complex sexuality and the differences in lifestyles between a mother, who shelters the spores that we eat and a father who fertilizes her, without ever revealing himself…

I had no idea! Not that I can afford these anyway. Via CNRS News.

Make The Planet Great Again.

Most have probably seen this, but if you haven’t, it’s a must.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a stunning response to the U.S. president, calling his decision “a grave mistake.”

“If we do nothing, our children will know a world of migrations, of wars, of shortage. A dangerous world,” Macron said, referencing the cataclysmic effect of climate change all but completely ignored by the Trump administration.

He also encouraged American scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to come to France where their contributions and innovation would be appreciated. As for Trump’s vague promise to rework the terms of the Paris agreement, Macron issued a staunch warning.

“The Paris agreement [will] remain irreversible and will be implemented not just by France but by all the other nations,” he said, the two exceptions being Syria and Nicaragua.

“We will succeed,” he continued. “Because we are fully committed, because wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility: ‘Make our planet great again.’”

And there you have what a lot of people are going to do here in uStates – leave. Oh, by the way, California has passed single payer healthcare. Even though I’m a native, I won’t go back, the SoCal I know was gone long ago. I’m sure that won’t stop another massive influx of people.

Via Alternet.

And, The Idiot Fucks Us All Into The Ground.

President Trump announced Thursday afternoon that he is withdrawing the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement, a move that honors a campaign promise but risks rupturing global alliances and disappointing both environmentalists and corporate titans.

But Trump said he would seek to negotiate a new climate deal that is, in his view, “fair” to America’s interests.

“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers,” Trump said.

“We’re getting out,” he added, “but we will start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. If we can, that’s great. If we can’t, that’s fine.”

Trump argued that the Paris agreement would “punish” the United States and instituted “onerous energy restrictions” that would stymie economic growth, especially in manufacturing industries. The president claimed that meeting the accord’s greenhouse gas emission standards would cost the United States close to $3 trillion in lost gross domestic product and 6.5 million industrial jobs.

I can’t go on. Not right now. Jesus Fuck, the idiot is going to kill us all. Full story is at The Washington Post. Read at your peril. Also, stay the hell away from twitter, it’s infested with fucking idiots, waving their tiny flags, which are considerably bigger than their brains.

There’s also this, but there’s no funny business with Russia, no, no.  And this: Trump’s argument for withdrawing from Paris agreement contains multi-trillion dollar math error: In a cost-benefit analysis, you’re supposed to analyze the costs and the benefits.

Climate Accord: Trump To Pull Out.

“Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, center right, after appearing to be pushed by Donald Trump, center.” CREDIT for caption/photo: AP/Matt Dunham.

There’s been a great deal of anxiety laden speculation over the Paris Climate Accord, as that represents our last, best hope. It seems it’s a last, best hope that the Tiny Tyrant wants no part of, and plans to withdraw from.  This is not yet formal, and the Tiny Tyrant is subject to doing rapid turnabouts on a whim, but he’s never been secretive about his scorn for the climate accord, or his desire to pull out. The damage he has already done here in uStates is tremendous, it won’t be long before we’re back to 1970s levels of pollution, with smog alerts and steeping in trash and toxicity once again. Naturally, this will lead to a much sicker populace, one which will not be able to take care of themselves, thanks to the Fuck You Care Plan. There’s one other country which is also adamantly against the climate accord. Bet you don’t need three guesses, either. It’s Russia.

President Donald Trump has privately told “confidants” he intends to leave the Paris accord on climate change, “according to three sources with direct knowledge,” Axios reported Saturday.

After persuading voters that America isn’t great anymore, Trump apparently intends to make sure of it — by having this country lead the effort to kill humanity’s last, best hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

Quitting a unanimous agreement by 190+ nations after a two-decade negotiating process would make us a rogue nation, a global pariah, like Vladimir Putin’s Russia. And, it could make Putin happy, as we’ll see.

While Trump tweeted out Saturday from Italy that “I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters after the G7 meeting, “The whole discussion about climate has been difficult, or rather very unsatisfactory.” She added, “Here we have the situation that six members, or even seven if you want to add the EU, stand against one.”

Axios notes that “Although Trump made it clear during the campaign and in multiple conversations before his overseas trip that he favored withdrawal, he has been known to abruptly change his mind.” They add, however, top political appointees at EPA “were relieved” when Trump refused to join a consensus G7 statement reaffirming “their strong commitment” to the Paris accord.

While the White House’s attack on domestic climate action already undermines the global effort to avert climate catastrophe, we shouldn’t discount the importance of a U.S. withdrawal from Paris — especially if Trump teams with Russian President Vladimir Putin to undermine the whole global negotiating process.

Think Progress has the full story.

Soothing Silicone.

Can you tell I’m not in the mood for politics today? I’m not. I haven’t even checked the news, and I’m not going to check today. If the world explodes this day, I’d rather not know anyroad. Instead of anxiety, depression, and paranoia, have some soothing silicone:

Silicone Annealing – Cruz Culture.

Mixing Silicone for Rubber Moulding – Butser Rubber Ltd. (Yes, that name made me laugh.)

Life on the line: kneading pigment into silicon – Stephen Woolverton.