1. birgerjohansson says

    From The Daily Mash (satire)
    Pseudo-scientific diet fails to stop scientific illness
    …Bradford said: “How can I have a cold when I drink a pint of blueberry and cabbage smoothie every morning with a capsule of geranium oil?” She continued: “I’m sure my diet’s fundamentally sound because it’s about anti-oxidants, micronutrients and amino acids, and those are all definitely science words.”

    New economic metric!

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Finally! “Guatemalan soldiers face civil war sexual slavery charges in historic trial
    — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
    “Sri Lanka’s missing thousands: one woman’s six-year fight to find her husband”

    Funny, neither of these issues have been men tioned at the primaries. It is as if “abroad” does not exist.

  3. chigau (違う) says

    Tabby Lavalamp
    I haven’t fallen yet because I’ve stopped lifting my feet off the ground.
    shuffle shuffle shuffle

  4. says

    Tabby Lavalamp:

    I sprained my wrist slipping and falling on the icy sidewalks of Edmonton.

    Ouch. I’m glad you didn’t break it. We’ve had unusually warm weather the last couple of days (44 F!), and melt is going everywhere, but the temps are supposed to plummet on Sunday, so…ice. Ugh.

  5. says

    So late that it is almost morning again here!

    Healthy enough, just been rather busy, with work and moonlighting and studies and starting a business. Also much travelling in the Zhaos’ country.

    Now with the new year vacations approaching I can find time again to try and pick up the threads. Seeing a rodent orchestra on teh eBil oBerlawd’s timeline was more than I could resist. ;)

  6. redwood says

    I saw recently that they might finally have made a computer program that can beat top-level players at go. It will play the world’s top pro (Lee Sedol) in South Korea soon. If it can beat him, it can beat anyone. Once the program had some basic concepts about how to win, it improved by playing itself over and over, finding better moves and making itself stronger. Go is more complex than chess, so it can’t do a Deep Blue and win by bluntly reading out all possible moves. Here’s the abstract from the article in Nature, which is behind a pay-wall:

    The game of Go has long been viewed as the most challenging of classic games for artificial intelligence owing to its enormous search space and the difficulty of evaluating board positions and moves. Here we introduce a new approach to computer Go that uses ‘value networks’ to evaluate board positions and ‘policy networks’ to select moves. These deep neural networks are trained by a novel combination of supervised learning from human expert games, and reinforcement learning from games of self-play. Without any lookahead search, the neural networks play Go at the level of state-of-the-art Monte Carlo tree search programs that simulate thousands of random games of self-play. We also introduce a new search algorithm that combines Monte Carlo simulation with value and policy networks. Using this search algorithm, our program AlphaGo achieved a 99.8% winning rate against other Go programs, and defeated the human European Go champion by 5 games to 0. This is the first time that a computer program has defeated a human professional player in the full-sized game of Go, a feat previously thought to be at least a decade away.

  7. says

    Chigau @7: The problem was the whole sidewalk was clear, the buildings on that block are really good at keeping them clean. So that made me overconfident when I got to the end of the sidewalk where the ice was (it being 6 degrees outside, I also expected more mush than ice).

    Caine @8: I can’t completely rule out a break yet. It’s likely not, but I have a follow up appointment to go over the x-rays I had taken (I didn’t go to emergency as I didn’t feel like it was broken and emergency rooms should be used for emergencies). And yes, I had to use temperature conversion, dang it. It sounds like you have temperatures around the same levels as we do. And the same problems we’re going to be having when the temperatures go back below freezing. Hopefully you didn’t get any rain like we did (which has been the main source of our messed up sidewalks).

  8. says

    Tabby @ 12:

    I can’t completely rule out a break yet. It’s likely not, but I have a follow up appointment to go over the x-rays I had taken

    It’s good to be cautious – I fractured both my wrists at one time, tiny hairline fractures, which are difficult to spot. No, we haven’t had rain yet, but the clouds have been moving in, and the wind is high.

  9. ledasmom says

    Whenever I get overconfident about the absence of ice and start swinging along the sidewalk at my normal pace, that is when I inevitably find the one patch of ice and do the windmill dance. When we had the first snow/ice/slushy whatever of this winter, the sidewalks were all black ice the next day and I proceeded for a few yards down the hill in a bolt upright position without moving my feet, until I realized that if this continued I would shoot out into the crossroad at some ridiculous speed. So I sat down, soaking my pants in meltwater, and decided I really didn’t have to go anywhere that badly.
    My normal ice locomotion gait is penguinesque. Incidentally I watched a goose walking on ice below the bridge today. They step and then the foot they step onto slides forward a bit. Goose feet slide on ice. I never noticed that before. The goose in question looked quite relieved to reach the water and settle into it; seemed more at home there.
    Tabby Lavalamp, hope it is not a break. The husband once broke a wrist falling on a perfectly dry sidewalk. Not blessed with balance, that man.

  10. says

    Ledasmom @ 14:

    Rats Below, I have a special loathing of black ice. Treacherous, nasty, awful.

    Goose feet slide on ice. I never noticed that before. The goose in question looked quite relieved to reach the water and settle into it; seemed more at home there.

    I’ll have to pay more attention. Goes to show that no one much seems to care for wandering about on ice.

  11. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rats Below, I have a special loathing of black ice. Treacherous, nasty, awful.

    Ugh, I fell on some black ice Tuesday night after getting the garbage bin out to the curb. Nice bruise on my right wrist, and twinges in the right arm muscles. Not pleasant.

  12. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Not sure if this is significant, but hints of a cause for schizophrenia are detected.

    The finding might pertain to “a very substantial fraction of cases, maybe most cases, even,” said senior author Steven McCarroll, of Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    The result links schizophrenia risk to a problem with a normal process that happens in adolescence and early adulthood, when disease symptoms often appear. That age range is when the brain trims back the number of specialized places on brain cells where the cells signal each other, called synapses. The new work suggests a connection to schizophrenia when this process gets out of hand, deleting too many synapses.
    “It’s like you have a gardener who was supposed to prune the bushes and just got overactive,” Cuthbert observed. “You end up with bushes that are pruned way too much.”
    The result doesn’t mean over-pruning causes schizophrenia on its own. It could promote the disease in combination with other factors in the brain, McCarroll said.

    As usual, more research is needed. But it is an interesting correlation.

  13. Ice Swimmer says

    My wishes for speedy recovery and structurally sound bones for Tabby Lavalamp!

    Here geese and ice seem to be mutually exclusive. Yesterday was awful, it had been raining all week, just after a period of snowfall and very cold weather, but on Friday the temperature went back below the freezing point, so there was all kinds of ice (black ice, frozen slush and frozen rain- and meltwater).

    I agree with the goose ledasmom saw, when you go swimming in the winter, the worst things are the slippery conditions and the cold wind and it’s a relief to get into the water; it’s cold but in a much more satisfying way.

    Here in Finland especially old folks use studded or spiked shoes, studded galoshes or ice grips. They aren’t that great on black ice but with good ones you can run on icy surfaces without slipping. I had studded galoshes when I delivered newspapers, but I rarely used them because they couldn’t be used indoors so I would have had to remove the every time I entered a building which would have slowed me down considerably.

  14. says

    Nerd, I hope you heal up okay, and no more falls!

    Ice Swimmer:

    Here geese and ice seem to be mutually exclusive

    I’m with the geese.

  15. says

    I just started Matt Wallace’s latest Sin du Jour novella, Lustlocked, about the wedding of the Goblin Prince to a human. It was fun to read that the Goblin King and his wife are David Bowie and Iman* (“all the pretty people in movies are goblins!). I think if he had lived long enough to read it, Bowie would have been amused.
    *They aren’t named, but it’s more than obvious.

  16. nahuati says

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls @17 – I’m sorry to hear about your fall. I hope your wrist and arm improve soon.

    Are you still able to cook? The meals you used to mention always sounded so good.

  17. nahuati says

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls @18:
    Thanks for sharing the schizophrenia research link. Hopefully the research will lead to a cure or better treatment.

    I recently watched Anderson Cooper’s experiment with a schizophrenia simulator which was a real eye opener.

  18. nahuati says

    Oops. I didn’t mean to embed the video. Is there a way to just give a link to a video? Thanks!

  19. says

    The stupidity and selfishness of some people seems without limit:

    Passengers stuck on Eurostar train for FIVE HOURS with no air conditioning and ‘only mini Twix bars for food’ after e-cigarette sets off fire alarm

    Passengers were stuck on a Eurostar train for five hours after someone smoked an e-cigarette in a toilet setting off alarms.

    The train left London at 3.30pm on Monday afternoon, but not long after entering French soil, it was forced to pull to the side of the track and power was cut.

    The operator has confirmed that a passenger using an e-cigarette on board the train triggered the fire alert.


    ‘Someone had been smoking an e-cigarette so they wanted to turn the alarm off.

    ‘We lost the main power, so we lost electricity, air conditioning, and there was no phone signal so we couldn’t make calls or email.’

    Passengers whose actions force pilots to make emergency landings have to pay the cost of the unplanned landing. At the very least, the smoker should pay for the cost of the train stoppage.

  20. says


    ‘Someone had been smoking an e-cigarette so they wanted to turn the alarm off.

    Oh for fuck’s sake – the idiot should pay for rank stupidity. There’s nothing in an e-cig to set off a smoke alarm, no smoke, just glycerin and water, that dissipates damn near immediately.

  21. says

    Nahuati @ 25:

    Is there a way to just give a link to a video? Thanks!

    Yep. Like so:

    <a href=””>This is a link to an example website</a>

  22. nahuati says

    I was clicking around FTB and found an interesting post and video by Yemisi who is a Nigerian atheist who resides in UK. I thought her life story might be of interest to others here. Her blog is called YEMMYnisting.

  23. chigau (違う) says

    More Evidense™ for global warming.
    January 30 and the fratboys across the street have moved their party outdoors.
    The temperature is just at freezing.

  24. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Interesting experiment happening with the San Francisco Police Department. They are trying to root out bigoted officers.

    San Francisco police officers are being asked to combat racism in the ranks and take a pledge to turn in colleagues displaying intolerant behavior, such as slurs and jokes targeting people of color, gays and women.
    The pledge is part of a broader public relations campaign by the embattled police department to repair frayed relations with minority neighborhoods and community activists….
    “I will not tolerate hate or bigotry in our community or from my fellow officers,” the seven-sentence pledge states in part. “I will confront intolerance and report any such conduct without question or pause.”
    The department has also launched the website which instructs citizens and officers on how to file complaints against the police. The website includes a 10-minute video produced by a former television journalist, showing the chief, several officers and civic leaders reciting and discussing the pledge and the importance of rooting out intolerance in the ranks.

    Hope it works out. If it does, it should become mandatory nationwide.
    [derail]Arm/wrist healing and still cooking[/derail]

  25. applehead says

    I just go ahead and mention this here instead of using the not-immediate way of e-mail.

    A set-up using CRISPR on human embryos by a British research team has been greenlit, and now there’s all sorts of clickbait flying around talking about the spectre of designer babies being right around the corner (like here: ).

    But from what I can discern this is a simple (or not so simple!) experiment in developmental biology, and therefore up your alley PZ. All they try to do is more closely examine the control mechanisms of a gene governing cell differentiation, if I’m not mistaken, rather than breed genetic supermen.

  26. says

    US ‘make rape legal’ group plans worldwide anti-woman event in 43 countries

    Valizadeh argued on his blog last year that rape should be legal on private property.

    “By attempting to teach men not to rape, what we have actually done is teach women not to care about being raped, not to protect themselves from easily preventable acts, and not to take responsibility for their actions,” he wrote at the time. “I thought about this problem and am sure I have the solution: make rape legal if done on private property.”

    “I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds,” Valizadeh said.

  27. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Looks like certain law enforecment leaders are looking at how to reduce the use of deadly force.

    The group’s principles, which will be released officially in an upcoming report, also require officers to respond proportionally to a suspect, imagining the public’s perception of that response, and to communicate effectively instead of, for example, repeatedly telling a suspect to drop the weapon. The principles also recommend departments stop training on what it called “outdated concepts,” such as the “21-foot-rule,” which refers to the distance an armed suspect with a knife can close before an officer can draw their weapon. Instead, officers are encouraged to create more distance and use cover, so that they give themselves more time to respond.
    Researchers traveled with police chiefs to Scotland last year to study how police there, who are nearly all unarmed, use distance, often backing away from suspects with their hands up, for example, to encourage calm. In one video shown Friday, officers in downtown Camden encountered a man high on narcotics who had threatened a man in a restaurant with a knife last November. Video showed officers walking with the man for four city blocks, clearing pedestrians ahead of him and telling other responders to standby, as he wildly waved his knife at them.
    “About a year and a half ago we would’ve shot and killed him, there’s no doubt in my mind,” said Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson. But “we were very happily trying to walk him back to Philadelphia,” he joked. A little over a year ago the department added the sanctity of life to their use-of-force policy.

    Doesn’t seem to include SWAT units where the choices may be less based on tactical situations. But it does seem good for the mentally ill and those high on drugs.

  28. purrs says

    Garden path sentences are cool:

    The raft floated down the river sank.

    The tomcat curled up on the cushion seemed friendly.

    The old man the boat.

  29. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Perhaps good news for diabetics. J&J/ViaCyte are starting human tests on a possible means of controlling insulin levels.

    Johnson & Johnson, continuing its long quest for a Type 1 diabetes cure, is joining forces with biotech company ViaCyte to speed development of the first stem cell treatment that could fix the life-threatening hormonal disorder.
    They’ve already begun testing it in a small number of diabetic patients. If it works as well in patients as it has in animals, it would amount to a cure, ending the need for frequent insulin injections and blood sugar testing.
    ViaCyte and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen BetaLogics group said Thursday they’ve agreed to combine their knowledge and hundreds of patents on their research under ViaCyte, a longtime J&J partner focused on regenerative medicine.
    The therapy involves inducing embryonic stem cells in a lab dish to turn into insulin-producing cells, then putting them inside a small capsule that is implanted under the skin. The capsule protects the cells from the immune system, which otherwise would attack them as invaders — a roadblock that has stymied other research projects.
    Researchers at universities and other drug companies also are working toward a diabetes cure, using various strategies. But according to ViaCyte and others, this treatment is the first tested in patients.

    It will be interesting to see if works, and if it does, for how long.

  30. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A vehemently anti-gay church in Harlem is deeply in debt, and the church is up for a foreclosure auction.
    A group wants to buy it and convert it into a temporary home for gay teenagers kicked out of their parent’s homes.

    The end may be nigh for a Harlem church known for hateful public messages condemning gays and President Barack Obama to eternal damnation, and two groups that serve gay New Yorkers are hoping to get an ironic last word on the matter.
    They want to buy the Atlah World Missionary Church at a foreclosure auction. One wants to turn it into housing for gay homeless youth…
    One nonprofit group, the Ali Forney Center, has raised $175,000 on its website as part of an effort to buy the church and convert the building into transitional housing for homeless gay youths — the very population, its leaders say, that is most harmed by the Atlah church’s message….
    A second effort to buy the four-story brick and terra cotta church building been organized by the Rivers of Living Water Ministries, which serves mainly African-American LGBT worshippers. The church’s GoFundMe drive had raised more than $23,000 as of Friday morning….
    If the sale does take place as scheduled, there’s far from any guarantee that either the Ali Forney Center or the Rivers of Living Water Ministries would have enough for a winning bid. Harlem real estate, like the rest of New York, has been hot in recent years.
    The property could be snapped up by a developer, which might also be seen as an ironic end. Much of Manning’s rhetoric is aimed at white gentrification of historically black Harlem.

    Looks like the property will be used for something the church hates.

  31. AlexanderZ says

    The “Make Rape Legal” event was cancelled:

    Due to adverse publicity generated by the announcement of the multi-country event, on 3 February 2016 Return of Kings posted that the meetups had been cancelled, citing privacy and safety concerns as the reason

    The reason for the cancellation is ironic when you consider that it comes from people that don’t believe in harassment or on-line bullying:

    I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend on February 6, especially since most of the meetups can not be made private in time. While I can’t stop men who want to continue meeting in private groups, there will be no official Return Of Kings meetups. The listing page has been scrubbed of all locations. I apologize to all the supporters who are let down by my decision.

  32. Saad says

    Riyadh Starbucks temporarily bans women

    One Starbucks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has a sign with the phrase, “Please no entrance for ladies.”

    The sign went up after a wall segregating families and single people when entering the coffee house fell down.

    The temporary solution has been to ban women from entering the Starbucks.


  33. nahuati says

    Happy New Year to you, chigau, and others celebrating! Do you do anything special to celebrate?

  34. says

    O HAI! I had no idea this thread was on the sidebar so I didn’t come in to give a wrist update because I’m too lazy to search for it!

    The x-ray apparently showed a chipped bone. My doctor wants me to go in for a second one after the swelling has gone down (two weeks, but that was over a week ago so I’ll go in next week) just to be completely sure.

  35. blf says

    You are being squeezed, pulled, bent, mutilated, but probably not stapled, probably, Watch this spacetime: gravitational wave discovery expected:

    For decades signs of gravitational waves have been sought without success. On Thursday, scientists believe the first clear evidence will be revealed

    A decades-long search for gravitational waves is expected to end in triumph this week when scientists declare they have discovered ripples in the fabric of spacetime, possibly created by the collision of two massive black holes travelling at close to the speed of light.

    First predicted by Einstein, and generated by the most cataclysmic events in the cosmos, gravitational waves stretch and squeeze space and all within it as they spread out across the universe. […]


    At a press conference in Washington, LIGO [Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory] scientists are anticipated to reveal a clear, unambiguous gravitational wave signal. It may have come from two vast black holes, one 29 times more massive than the sun, the other 36 times more massive, spiralling around each other and finally crashing together to form a new black hole 62 times the mass of the sun. For all its heft, the new body may be no more than 200 miles wide.

    The missing mass — equivalent to that of three suns, or six trillion trillion kilotonnes — was converted into energy and released as the gravitational waves LIGO is believed to have detected.

    “People are hugely excited. The rumour is that it’s a whopping big signal, in other words, it’s unambiguous, and that is fantastic,” said Pedro Ferreira, professor of astrophysics at Oxford University […]

  36. blf says

    Fish heads, fish heads, lovely lovely fish heads, Rotten luck: archaeologists hail ‘unique’ Mesolithic fermented fish find:

    9,000-year-old fish bones discovered in southern Sweden provides earliest evidence of fermentation for food preservation anywhere in the world

    The Scandinavian diet is famously hard going for anyone who doesn’t like pickled fish — and a unique archaeological discovery has proved that it was exactly the same more than 9,000 years ago.

    The find has revealed that freshwater fish were being fermented on an industrial scale in southern Sweden, through a complicated and distinctly unappetising process involving pine bark and seal blubber, which made the region capable of supporting a far larger population than previously thought.

    The discovery was made during the excavation of an early Mesolithic settlement site in Blekinge, on the Baltic sea in southern Sweden. It is the earliest evidence of fermentation being used to preserve food anywhere in the world.

    The fish were preserved without salt or storage jars. Instead they were acidified using pine bark, wrapped up with seal fat in seal or wild boar skins, and buried in a pit. The process required a cold climate to help preserve the fish until the fermentation was complete, when they were dug up for consumption. A similar process is still used to produce the Icelandic delicacy of rotted shark meat.

    Ahem. Rotted. Shark. Delicacy. That is a, uh, interesting, word combination…

    Adam Boethius, an osteologist at Lund University, who publishes his findings this week in the Journal of Archaeological Science (under the title Something Rotten in Scandinavia) said: “The discovery is quite unique as a find like this has never been made before. That is partly because fish bones are so fragile and disappear more easily than, for example, bones of land animals. In this case, the conditions were quite favourable, which helped preserve the remains.”

    The site yielded vast quantities of fish bones, which have been dated to around 9,200 years old: the archaeologists were excavating them at the rate of 30,000 to the square metre, along with scraps of the pine bark. Under the bone layer they found an oblong pit surrounded by stake holes. The scientists calculate that at least 60,000 tons of freshwater fish were processed at the site.

    The article goes on to note this find suggests the population was larger than thought. Also, at the time, the population was thought to be mostly scattered groups of hunter-gatherers, so the vast scale is quite a surprise.

    And there are some great readers’s comments. One I particularly liked, “acidified using pine bark, wrapped up with seal fat … delicacy of rotted shark meat —No wonder the Berserkers were biting their shields, it was probably the dessert course.”

  37. nahuati says

    This news is too kind not to share, even if it is a bit dated. Link

    “Basque athlete Iván Fernández Anaya was competing in a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre. He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai – bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics. As they entered the finishing straight, he saw the Kenyan runner – the certain winner of the race – mistakenly pull up about 10 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line.”

    “Fernández Anaya quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai’s mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind and, using gestures, guided the Kenyan to the line and let him cross first.”

  38. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    blf#53 Gravity waves, very interesting. I run Einstein@Home as part of my distributed computing suite. Hope it helped a little toward the discovery.

  39. Rob Grigjanis says

    Nerd @56: Terminology quibble. Gravity waves are gravity-induced responses of fluids to non-equilibrium configurations. Example: surface waves on the ocean.

    Gravitational waves may not have been observed directly until now, but Hulse-Taylor and other binary pulsars provide compelling indirect evidence via the agreement between observed and GR-predicted energy loss.

  40. Saad says

    Anti-Muslim bigotry? What anti-Muslim bigotry?

    It’s the part starting at 0:35 in the above video. I wonder if there was any reason to get angry at the clerk or if it was completely unprovoked (I’m guessing the latter).

    It was nice to see the guy recording openly confront her (except the gendered insult) though. I guess he would be considered a SJW by the Dawkinsians.

  41. says

    Some people want IBM’s Watson for president:

    The Watson 2016 Foundation is an independent organization formed for the advocacy of the artificial intelligence known as Watson to run for President of The United States of America. It is our belief that Watson’s unique capabilities to assess information and make informed and transparent decisions define it as an ideal candidate for the job responsibilities required by the president.

  42. Gregory Greenwood says

    If anyone is at a loose end and looking for amusement, I offer for your delectation an incredibly silly company trying to create full cyborg prosthetic bodies for people just like those in science fiction. I give you the techno-utopian woo-ists of Humai. For some reason I can’t link to their flashy but largely content-less main site (it even has a weird effect that follows your mouse about the screen that could have been lifted direct from the Dues Ex games), so this link goes to their blog instead, and that page has a link to their main site.

    I must admit that I have already given them a little bit of a poke, leaving a comment on their ‘vision for the world of tomorrow’ mission statement page that goes as far as my limited, layman’s understanding of biology and medical technology allows. If any members of the Horde with the skill and knowledge to do a better job would like to take a little nibble of them (transhumanists taste like synthetic chicken dontchaknow), then I encourage you to do so…

  43. Gregory Greenwood says

    Brian Pansky @ 63;

    I wonder if they are connected to the ‘Global Future 2045’ woo-ists…

    I don’t know, but the founder of the company does like to waffle on about how the 2040s are the point when the singularity is set to happen, it apparently having been delayed yet again. I remember a time when people like Kurzweil were confidently predicting that the singularity would already have happened by now, and if anyone remembers these Humai guys and their fellow travelers in 2045 I don’t doubt that they will have the same tendency to conveniently forget their predicted time frame that all the H+ types demonstrate, and will simply push the scheduling of the singularity back a couple of decades again. The fact that they seem to be asking for donations on their website makes me a little suspicious as to what their true agenda might be, and the knee jerk tendency of the company’s founder to threaten anyone who doubts his intentions with law suits does nothing to mitigate my suspicions.

  44. Gregory Greenwood says

    If anyone is interested in what I posted over the Humai blog about their decidedly questionable claims, here’s a transcript. I have reformatted it a little to get away from the single giant paragraph look the commenting system over there seems to favour:-

    I think you might be hugely underestimating the complexity of achieving this Ghost in the Shell style future you seem to be proposing. Recent research into how the peripheral and central nervous system interact (it even effects things like mood and personality) suggests that you can’t just excise a person’s brain and spinal cord, plug it into a robot body and hope for that person to survive at all, still less operate as a functional human being. We don’t even have the beginnings of the knowledge of how to replicate through technology the interactions between the different parts of the nervous system.

    Then there are bio-mechanical and bio-chemical issues with how you could even remove the very delicate brain mass from the original skull without damaging it, or how you would be able to oxygenate that brain properly when you Humai has no lungs, meaning no easy means of efficiently oxygenating blood, and no bone marrow, meaning no means to replenish spent blood cells.

    You would also need to somehow achieve the incredibly complex and challenging task of creating an entire artificial immune system to protect the Humai’s biological components. You can invoke nanotechnology to hand wave that all away, but that isn’t really an answer, given that we currently have no model or idea how any hypothetical future nanotech could serve these functions. Molecular scale robotics, even if possible, would not be enough on its own to deal with things like the rapid mutation rate of many forms of bacteria and viruses.

    Even as a layman these problems are obvious to me, and I don’t doubt that neurologists, immunologists, psychologists and experts in many other medical disciplines could describe countless more problems with even getting into the general ball park area of getting this technology off the ground. Your group seems to be suggesting that this technology is somehow the inevitable future development of humankind, but like many futurists of earlier ages I think your organization is overestimating their ability to predict future trends. Remember how the futurists of the Fifties were convinced that we would all have flying cars, personal robots and holiday homes on the moon by now (all powered by heinously dangerous nuclear power sources with unresolved issues of nuclear waste disposal, the Fifties being the nuclear age and all) and yet totally failed to predict the extremely important advent of the internet and the information and biotech revolutions?

    What you propose is much like that other perennial shibboleth of the H+ brigade – mind upload – and suffers from the exact same scientific credibility gap. It is not really responsible to allow this kind of rather credulous transhumanist cheer leading to trump a realistic assessment of the state of current technology, and the limitations of our ability to foresee future advances.

  45. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It appears the FBI is upping the pressure on the holdouts at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

    The FBI surrounded the last four occupiers of a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon on Wednesday night as the holdouts argued with a negotiator and yelled at law enforcement officers in armored vehicles to back off.
    The tense standoff between law enforcement officers and the four occupiers was being livestreamed on the Internet by an acquaintance of one of the holdouts, David Fry.
    Fry, 27, sounded increasingly unraveled as he continually yelled, at times hysterically, at what he said was an FBI negotiator.
    “You’re going to hell. Kill me. Get it over with,” he said. “We’re innocent people camping at a public facility, and you’re going to murder us.”
    “The only way we’re leaving here is dead or without charges,” Fry said, who told the FBI to “get the hell out of Oregon.”
    Fry said the group was surrounded by armored vehicles.

    So far, the bungling militants don’t understand the concept of surrendering. Hint, white flag, toss guns.

  46. Saad says

    Cliven Bundy arrested

    Cliven Bundy, the controversial Nevada rancher at the center of an armed standoff with federal officials in 2014, was arrested in Portland Wednesday, according to jail records and news reports.

    He was reportedly on his way to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in isolated southeastern Oregon, where an armed occupation in its 41st day seemed to be coming to an end. The occupation had been organized by Bundy’s sons Ammon and Ryan, who are now in jail facing a felony charge of conspiracy to impede a federal officer.

    The last remaining members of the occupation had said they will turn themselves over on Thursday morning, after the FBI appeared to close in on their encampment.

    The FBI in Portland would not confirm the circumstances of elder Bundy’s arrest. But the Oregonian reported that he was apprehended at Portland International Airport after disembarking from his flight from Las Vegas late Wednesday night. The newspaper said that Bundy, 74, faces the same charge as his son in relation to his standoff with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2014. He also faces weapons charges, it said.

    – – – – – –

    Dozens killed in Boko Haram suicide bombing

    A camp that was supposed to be a shelter from terrorism and violence instead became an instant death zone for dozens in Nigeria this week.

    At least 58 people were killed and another 78 injured when two female bombers detonated their suicide vests, according to emergency relief officials. The victims were in a camp for people who had been displaced by Boko Haram violence in Nigeria’s Borno State.

    As horrendous as the attack was, it could have been worse. One of the bombers backed out at the last minute.

    “There were three female bombers who entered the camp around 6:30 a.m. (local time) disguised as displaced persons. Two of them set off their explosives in the camp while the third refused after realizing her parents and siblings were in the camp,” said Satomi Alhaji Ahmed, head of the Borno State Emergency Management Agency.

    The bombers struck Tuesday at the camp in the town of Dikwa, Ahmed said. Dikwa is in northeastern Nigeria, near the border with Cameroon.

  47. Saad says

    Catholic Church: Bishops have no obligation to report sexual abuse

    The Catholic Church is allegedly telling newly ordained bishops that they have no obligation to report child-sexual-abuse allegations to law-enforcement officials, saying instead that the decision to take such claims to the authorities should be left to victims and their families.

    The policy was first reported by a veteran Vatican journalist at Catholic news website Crux, who cited a presentation given by French Monsignor Tony Anatrella.

    Anatrella, a consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, also authored a training document for new bishops released by Church authorities last week, in which similar guidelines are laid out.

    “According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds,” his document states, according to a citation in the Guardian.

    Victim-support groups have reacted with fury to the revelation, according to news agency UPI.

  48. Ice Swimmer says

    blf @ 54

    It was unclear from the article which part of pine bark was used in fish preservation, was it periderm (the outside surface of the bark, i.e. cork and associated tissues) or phloem or both. However, roasted or boiled phloem and cambium of pine (Pinus sylvestris, i.e. Scots pine) is edible and was a common emergency and famine food in the Nordic countries and one of the main vitamin C sources for the Saami peoples.

    Last time bark bread (called pettuleipä if there’s some grain in it or silkko if it’s made from bark only) was commonly used here in Finland at the time of the civil war in 1918 and before that in the great famine years of the 1860s.

  49. blf says

    Huston, we have a gravity wave! Gravitational waves: breakthrough discovery after two centuries of expectation:

    Scientists announce discovery of clear gravitational wave signal, ripples in spacetime first predicted by Albert Einstein

    Physicists have announced the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in spacetime first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago.

    “We have detected gravitational waves. We did it,” said David Reitze, executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Ligo) […]


    The phenomenon was detected by the collision of two black holes. Using the world’s most sophisticated detector, the scientists listened for 20 thousandths of a second as the two giant black holes, one 35 times the mass of the sun, the other slightly smaller, circled around each other.

    At the beginning of the signal, their calculations told them how stars perish: the two objects had begun by circling each other 30 times a second. By the end of the 20 millisecond snatch of data, the two had accelerated to 250 times a second before the final collision and dark merger.

    […] Prof Alberto Vecchio, of Birmingham University, and one of the researchers at Ligo [said] “This observation is truly incredible science and marks three milestones for physics: the direct detection of gravitational waves, the first detection of a binary black hole, and the most convincing evidence to date that nature’s black holes are the objects predicted by Einstein’s theory.”

    The scientists detected their epoch-making event using an instrument so sensitive it could detect a change in the distance between the solar system and the nearest star four light years away to the thickness of a human hair.

    Prof BS Sathyaprakash, from Cardiff University’s school of physics and astronomy, said: “The shock would have released more energy than the light from all the stars in the universe for that brief instant. The fusion of two black holes which created this event had been predicted but never observed.”

  50. Bill Buckner says

    Huston, we have a gravity wave!

    UNBELIEVABLE. In the span of five years we have seen the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs Boson and now the detection of gravity waves. We are incredibly fortunate. If there are any future physics announcements of this magnitude in my lifetime, I suspect it will be the detection of dark matter. Before 2012 I would have picked the Higgs, gravity waves, and dark matter as the big three–and two of them have fallen in rapid succession! We live in interesting times.

  51. says

    Tabby Lavalamp @ 52:

    The x-ray apparently showed a chipped bone. My doctor wants me to go in for a second one after the swelling has gone down (two weeks, but that was over a week ago so I’ll go in next week) just to be completely sure.

    Ouch! I hope it heals quickly, and easily.

  52. says

    Thanks, Caine. It’s a long weekend here, so I’m going to wait until Tuesday to go in for the x-ray.

    Now for some interesting stuff about Catholic bishops in Alberta getting it wrong over and over again…

    Alberta Catholic bishops want to make life miserable for LGBTQ students:

    To mandate that ‘self-identification is the sole measure of an individual’s sexual orientation’ and in fact, by totally excluding biological fact, contradicts our common day-to-day life experience and also repudiates the goodness of Creation… The Church believes that one’s physiological gender is not arbitrary, but determines the identity that we grow into. This process of growth in identity must be respected…

    Alberta Catholic bishops want to make life miserable for people in pain:

    It’s a step away from alleviating the suffering to elimination of the patient, and that’s a radically, radically different thing…

  53. nahuati says

    Good News:

    Target plans to offer carts for kids with special needs across their stores.

    “When Adam Standiford’s family got to Target recently, they found something that would make their shopping trip a whole lot easier. A shopping cart with a large seat on the front—the perfect size for their daughter, Savannah, a six-year-old with special needs. It was a Caroline’s Cart, specially designed to help parents and caregivers shop with older kids or adults with special needs, without having to maneuver a cart and a wheelchair through the store at the same time.”

  54. nahuati says

    Great News from Chris Clarke:

    New Desert National Monuments Will Help Protect California’s Wildest Landscapes

    “The White House has announced that three new National Monuments will be designated in the California Desert, covering almost two million acres of some of the wildest, most ecologically crucial landscapes remaining in the state. The monuments, which will be formally announced by President Obama on Friday, will fill in the blank spots in what is now a nearly unbroken chain of protected land stretching from the Southern California coast to the Colorado Plateau.”

    “The monuments were originally proposed for protection in legislation written by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein, who has been trying to shepherd the monuments through a recalcitrant Congress since 2009, asked the White House to wield his power under the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect the monuments if Congress wouldn’t act.”

  55. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    For Caine and other rural horde members. Some electrical cooperatives are getting Federal grants and putting up broadband internet connections in rural America.

    When sisters Caroline Clark and Dianne Rissman set up their quilt shop in the house on their family farm in Iowa 2004, vendors they would call about fabric or thread would helpfully tell them it would be easier to order on line.
    “And we’d say, ‘Yeah, it would, if we could get on the Internet,'” Clark said and laughed.
    She remembered when it could take an hour to download a Web page using their old dial-up connection. Or, once they switched to satellite, waiting until the late-night period when service was cheaper to upload photos onto their own site.
    Last fall, they signed up for a new broadband service from their Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative, which serves a region with a population so scattered it has just four customers per mile of electric line.
    Last year, their Forest Mills Quilt Shop shipped kits and materials to 27 states and Canada.
    “And that’s all done through the Internet,” Clark said.
    Cooperatives that have been bringing electricity to rural America since the 1930s are getting into the broadband business, now that it’s communication and information that power the economy.
    Allamakee-Clayton cooperative general manager Paul Foxwell said high speed Internet connections could spur development and stem the flow of young people to the cities.
    His cooperative got a $1.4 million grant under a 2014 federal program to build infrastructure that includes wireless stations and repeaters, and the Forest Mills Quilt Shop is among its first several hundred fixed wireless subscribers.
    “Rural America was being left in the dark with the extension of electricity outside the cities,” said Jasen Bronec, CEO of the Delta-Montrose Electric Association.
    The group last year decided to offer broadband in response to frustrations on farms, ranches and small towns that being unconnected hurts business, hampers access to health care and leaves students behind.
    Farmers in central Missouri were stuffing notes into their electric bills asking whether the 25,000-member Co-Mo could do anything to help with broadband, the cooperative’s General Manager Ken Johnson said.
    Co-Mo started building its broadband network in 2013 and now has 11,000 subscribers.
    Ryan Newlon got his Co-Mo connection just in time, before a Missouri National Guard deployment to Kosovo in 2014. It meant he was able to Skype with his children, then ages 4, 6 and 9.
    Without it, he would have been largely limited to a much more old-fashioned way of staying part of his children’s lives during the nine months he was in Kosovo.

    Be noisy, it just might work.

  56. AlexanderZ says

    Mice watching movies on iPods prefer action to mouse erotica
    Can’t blame them – I don’t watch mouse erotica either.
    Joking aside, that’s an example of a bad article and a bad experiment. 40 mice and just 5-7% deference is not a particularly significant result. It is good that the article published a dissenting opinion, though.


    rural horde members

    Whenever I hear “rural” I think of this.

  57. tbtabby says

    I don’t know if there are any bronies around here aside from me, but even if there aren’t, you still might like Westboro in Equestria.

    Fred Phelps, Shirley Phelps-Roper, and Jack Wu are Westboro Baptist Church members. One day, a magic tornado hits their church in Topeka, whisking them away to the colorful world of Equestria.

    Now, with a highly-irritated Twilight Sparkle to guide them, they must make their way to Canterlot in the hopes that Princess Celestia will be able to send them home. Along the road, ponies try to teach them some valuable lessons about friendship. Will they listen and find hearts and brains, or will even Equestria fail to reform these wicked witches?

    The plot, cover image font, and song parodies are shamelessly stolen from the Wizard of Oz.

  58. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A University of Rhode Island professor has designed a prototype explosives detector that mimics a dogs nose:

    A University of Rhode Island professor has developed a sensor that detects the kind of explosive used in the Paris bombings, to try to stop future attacks.
    Professor Otto Gregory compares his sensor to a dog’s nose, the gold standard in explosives detection. It “sniffs” the air for vapors emitted from explosives.
    Inside his laboratory, Gregory is evaluating how well his sensor detects triacetone triperoxide. The Paris attackers packed TATP into their suicide vests and wielded assault rifles, killing 130 people Nov. 13…
    The sensor measures the energy that’s released as a molecule as an explosive breaks down. Nanowires in the sensor act as a catalyst to cause that decomposition so the explosive can be detected. The system also measures the electrical properties of the catalyst as it interacts with the explosive vapor, as a second check.
    It detects both nitrogen-based and peroxide-based explosives, Gregory said. He envisions it being affixed inside a Jetway or an entrance to a nightclub, stadium, subway or other public space, triggering an alarm if explosives are detected.

    I like that it works with both peroxides and nitro compounds.

  59. nahuati says

    US Police to learn compassion

    “Some 1,200 officers in Louisville, Kentucky, will be trained by staff from the US-based International Center for Compassionate Organizations (ICCO) in practices such as mediation and non-violent communication.”

    ICCO director general Ari Cowan said: “The shift from a ‘warrior mentality’ to a compassionate, competency-driven police culture is essential for efficient, sustainable policing and effective law enforcement. It can result in improved officer efficacy, fewer incidents of enforcement morbidity and mortality, decreased stress levels and increased public support.”

    “If the Louisville pilot is successful, the programme will be rolled out nationally in the US from March. A UK team is developing a similar centre and is already in discussions with British businesses and law enforcement agencies about compassionbased conflict management training programmes.”

    Now that’s interesting!!!

  60. Ice Swimmer says

    Nerd of Redhead @ 84

    If it works with peroxides, is it possible that it also works with chlorates?

  61. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ice Swimmer #86

    If it works with peroxides, is it possible that it also works with chlorates?

    I did a quick Google search for organic chlorates, but didn’t find anything, other than they would be very unstable. If volatile, my guess is that they would be detected.
    Inorganic chlorates are another matter. I suspect from the article that the sensor both decomposes the explosive, and in doing so, measures the heat extra heat being given off. The chlorate salt dust might be detected, but only if the detector is hot enough to decompose the salt dust, and the heat of decomposition is enough to set off the second enthalpy check of the detector.

  62. Ice Swimmer says

    Nerd of Redhead @ 87

    So the sensor would most probably best detect the most unstable and badly made chlorate bombs, if any. However, I’d suspect that if terrorists would make their bombs using chlorate mixtures, there would be a lot of premature explosions anyway.

    The heat-measuring thing sounds ingenious. Instead of looking for specific structures, the sensor looks for a specific behaviour typical for explosives, if your suspicion is correct.

  63. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ah, the Bundy Bungling Militants showed their respect *snicker* for the Native American cultural site at the Wildlife Refuge.
    They dug a road and a latrine in that area.

    The FBI said it has found a trench of human feces and a road excavated on or next to a sensitive cultural site with artifacts at the Oregon wildlife refuge where armed men staged a standoff with authorities, according to court records filed on Tuesday.

    I think they just upped their punishment.

  64. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Cliven Bundy is considered a danger to society, and a scofflaw. So he stays in jail until his trial.

    Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who came to Oregon to support the armed occupation of a national wildlife preserve led by his sons, will remain in jail pending trial after prosecutors called him “lawless and violent.”
    U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart said Tuesday that Bundy should not be released ahead of trial because there is a risk he won’t show up for future court dates. “If he is released and he goes back to his ranch, that is likely the last the government will see of him,” Stewart said.

    This time he won’t miss his appointment for court.

  65. nahuati says

    Now here’s a heartwarming story:
    Ex-Circus Lions Given New African Home

    The Born Free Foundation has released a heart-warming video of two magnificent ex-circus lions who were successfully rescued from Bulgaria and are now thriving in their new South African home.

    Eight-year-old brothers Jora and Black were rescued by Born Free from a beast wagon in Bulgaria just over three months ago. Thanks to generous public support, Born Free transported Jora and Black 10,500 miles via the UK to a new life at the award-winning Shamwari Game Reserve, near Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

  66. nahuati says

    Kindness News:
    To Reach Out to Deaf Boy, Whole Class Learns to Sign

    In impoverished Bosnia, a community comes together for 6-year-old Zejd Coralic.

    (Newser) – When Mirzana Coralic asked the primary school in her Sarajevo neighborhood whether they would enroll her deaf son, teacher Sanela Ljumanovic volunteered. Then September came and 6-year-old Zejd was there, silently sitting on a bench, his eyes wide. No one at the school, not even Zejd, knew sign language. “We have to come up with something here,” Ljumanovic remembers thinking. She tried to develop her own tricks to communicate with Zejd but a parent proposed that the whole class learn sign language with him. Three months later, the first-graders of class 1-2 at Osman Nakas primary school have mastered the basics of sign language to communicate with their classmate. “Zejd,” said Uma Nadarevic, 6, crossing her arms to sign his name. “Please,” she put her palms together. “Can … you …show …me …our …homework …in … math?” Zejd grabbed his notebook and showed her the work he drew at home. Uma signed “Thank you” and Zejd bowed a “you are welcome.”

  67. says

    Does this count as a topic for this thread? I’m proposing something over at We Hunted the Mammoth that I have mentioned previously but did not think I could try to organize until now. I would like it to be a cooperatively constructive resource for information about social conflict. I would be organizing it because it’s something that I am experienced and hyper-analytical about, but the goal is something apolitical that does not neglect anything relevant so would still be useful for social justice purposes.

  68. says


    I was typing up a recipe to send to someone and realized my Freudian slip after already sending it.

    :Laughs: My most common typo in recipes is slat instead of salt.

  69. says


    Robert Pickton wrote a book and Amazon is selling it.

    Jesus Fucke, that is beyond wrong. Makes me glad I refuse to do business with Amazon, but fuck’s sake, whoever okayed that should be shut down. Christ.

  70. blf says

    Oh, this is just soooo true, ‘Stop’ a four-letter word for French drivers, traffic camera’s debut reveals:

    Police installed first traffic camera at a sign south of Paris, and are now chasing 517 drivers who ignored it in just one day

    Maybe it is because “stop” is an Old English word that French drivers have such difficulty understanding the concept.

    There is little excuse, however, for ignoring France’s Code de la Route, which clearly states motorists must come to a complete halt at a stop sign whether or not there is any other vehicle in sight.

    Now police are chasing up 517 drivers who were caught on camera during just one day failing to stop at a sign in Yerres in the Essonne department south of Paris […]


    Parisians and other French city dwellers know how difficult it is to persuade motorists to stop, even at red traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. Unlike in Britain, where drivers are obliged to stop if someone is waiting at a zebra crossing, the Code de la Route states vehicles must halt only if a pedestrian has stepped on to the crossing. In reality, most carry on driving.

    I didn’t know the rule in France was you didn’t have to stop unless the person is actually on the crossing. As the article notes, cars(and perhaps especially locally, mopeds) rarely seem to stop, or even slow down, and the number of times some eejit has actually severed around me is amazing

  71. says


    and the number of times some eejit has actually severed around me is amazing…

    Speaking of interesting slips of the keyboard…


  72. blf says

    Always carry a sharp knife.
    Very useful when swerving through the slats to get at the whining vin.
    (Just make sure the knife has a corkscrew, albeit if you swerve tightly enough, the eventual “unwinding” may do the trick…)

  73. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Latest from the Bungling Bundy Militants fiasco, complaints have been filed against the Grant Country Sheriff who apparently supported the take-over at Malheur.

    The Oregon agency that licenses police officers has asked the state attorney general’s office to investigate complaints about a local sheriff who met with some of the armed occupiers who seized a national wildlife preserve.
    The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training received more than a half-dozen complaints about Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, who was elected to the politically conservative county neighboring Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Most filed complaints on the condition that their identities not be revealed.
    One whose name is public accused Palmer of supporting the occupiers and said law enforcement viewed him as a security leak during the nearly six-week-long standoff over federal land policy that ended Feb. 11.
    Valerie Luttrell, manager of emergency communications for the city of John Day, said that concern became apparent when federal and state authorities kept local officials out of the loop during a Jan. 26 traffic stop that led to the arrests of the standoff’s leaders and the shooting death of Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.
    The group was on its way to a community meeting with supporters in John Day, which Palmer attended in full uniform.
    “Even after the chief of police for John Day made calls attempting to get information on what was unfolding, we could not obtain information,” Luttrell wrote in a complaint dated Jan. 28.
    Once they learned what was going on, a John Day dispatcher wouldn’t provide information to Palmer when he sought an update.
    “Her words were: ‘I felt uncomfortable knowing that I had to relay vital and confidential information to someone who may not be trustworthy,'” Luttrell wrote.

    Finicum, when he broke away from the initial stop, was trying to reach Sheriff Palmer for protection according to his passengers.
    Hope the Sheriff gets decertified.

  74. nahuati says

    Great Environmental News:

    Presumed dead, wild Atlantic salmon return to the Connecticut River

    Biologists discover first salmon spawning since Revolutionary War, drawing new attention to canceled restoration program.

    Atlantic salmon migrate from salt water upstream to reach spawning grounds, Exploits River, Newfoundland, Canada.

    By the fall of 2015, the salmon of the Connecticut River were supposed to be doomed. The silvery fish that once swam the Northeast’s longest river, 407 miles from the mountains of New Hampshire to Long Island Sound, went extinct because of dams and industrial pollution in the 1700s that turned the river deadly. In the late 1800s a nascent salmon stocking program failed. Then in 2012, despite nearly a half-century of work and an investment of $25 million, the federal government and three New England states pulled the plug on another attempt to resurrect the prized fish.

    But five Atlantic salmon didn’t get the memo. In November, fisheries biologists found something in the waters of the Farmington River — which pours into the Connecticut River — that historians say had not appeared since the Revolutionary War: three salmon nests full of eggs.

    “It’s a great story,” said John Burrows, of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, a conservation group, “whether it’s the beginning of something great or the beginning of the end.”

  75. nahuati says

    I thought the following article might be of interest to some readers of the thread since it is about rats, even though it is a different type of rat than the pet ones usually discussed.
    Rats who sniff out tuberculosis

    In a small, hot room in a compound located in Tanzania’s lush southern highlands, one day in mid-December, were three white-clad technicians, a glass-and-metal chamber and a large brown rat named Charles.

    After being gently dropped into the chamber, Charles aimed his long snout towards the first of a series of 10 sliding metal plates in the chamber’s base. A technician swiftly opened it, revealing a small hole. Charles sniffed at it … and moved on. The hole was closed, and there was a clink as the next plate was yanked back. This time, Charles was gripped. He sniffed hard, scratching at the metal, the five claws on each of his paws splayed with the pressure. The technician called out: “Two!”

    Over by the window, her colleague held a chart, which he kept raised so the others could not see it. He inserted a tick. I glanced over. The chart was a grid of small boxes, 10 across by 10 down, each marked with a code. Two of the boxes in each line were shaded grey. The tick had been placed in a white box. It is highly possible that Charles had just saved a person’s life.

    Charles is an African giant pouched rat, a species endemic to sub-Saharan Africa. He is also a pioneer, one of 30 of his species that live and work in Morogoro, a few hundred kilometres west of Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam. The rats are engaged in a programme to sniff out tuberculosis, a disease that can destroy the lungs. About nine million new cases of TB are diagnosed worldwide every year, a quarter of them in Africa. Africa also has the highest TB death rate per head of population. Antibiotics can cure the disease, but it is fatal if untreated, and many patients are never diagnosed. This is partly because the 125-year-old microscope-based test used across Tanzania (and in many other cash-strapped countries) picks up only about 60% of cases – and that figure drops as low as 20% for people also infected with HIV.

  76. nahuati says

    This Animal Shelter Hosts A Children’s Reading Program And It’s Changing Everyone’s Lives

    The Shelter Buddies Reading Program at the Humane Society of Missouri is doing wonders for everyone involved.

    The concept is simple: teach kids to read to shelter dogs as a way of preparing them for forever homes, all while instilling a greater sense of empathy in the youngsters, too.

    Kids who sign up for the monthly program are encouraged to sit in front of a shy dog’s kennel with a book and read to them.

    “We wanted to help our shy and fearful dog without forcing physical interaction with them to see the positive effect that could have on them,” program director Jo Klepacki told The Dodo.

    “Ideally that shy and fearful dog will approach and show interest. If so, the kids reinforce that behavior by tossing them a treat. What this is also doing is to bring the animals to the front in case potential adopters come through. They are more likely to get adopted if they are approaching and interacting, rather than hiding in the back or cowering.”

  77. nahuati says

    Excellent News for Environmentalists!

    New Zealand beach crowdfunding bid accepted for incredibly beautiful area.

    A crowdfunding campaign to buy a New Zealand beach has had its bid accepted after reaching its funding target.

    Nearly 40,000 people donated almost NZ$2.3m (£1m, $1.5m) to buy the Awaroa beach in the Abel Tasman National Park, on the north coast of South Island, which went on sale last year.

    Campaigners said the government and another major donor also contributed.

    The project was launched after a group of friends vowed to secure the beach for public use.

  78. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @102:[stop signs]
    Interesting that those traffic cams are being used to enforce the traffic laws so rigorously.
    Not being a lax driver, I still consider Stop signs as indicators of liability more than rigorous directions to the drivers. That is, it indicates which driver entering an intersection is liable, if a collision occurs. Traffic signals do the traffic flow duties at busier intersections. There are many intersections around here where there is visibility to see that all the other roads are clear, so pointless to stop solo.
    But I’m so paranoid of liability that when approaching a stop sign I’m sure to check before even drifting through it. Takes many return visits to then briefly check while barreling through.[mea culpa] I see the reason to rigidly enforce the letter of the law.
    Not trying to justify the “fugitives”, just expressing understanding for how they might have been reacting to those signs.
    pffft, dismounting my hi horse….

  79. nahuati says

    Good environmental news from Canada:

    Canada Just Protected A Rainforest Twice The Size Of Belgium

    Environmentalists are hailing the Canadian government’s landmark deal to protect 85 percent of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia from logging and development — an area more than twice the size of Belgium.

    The agreement, struck in partnership with First Nations and logging companies, permanently protects a vast swath of the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth. Commercial logging will be permitted in 15 percent of the region, but under a sustainable plan that won’t remove more wood from the area than the ecosystem can withstand.

    “This is huge, the fact that this isn’t just a conservation agreement, that we’ve integrated the concept of an economy that can sustain itself within an ecosystem,” said Valerie Langer, a director at ForestEthics, one of the leading environmental groups behind the deal. “Our goal was to [figure out] how we were going to shift our economy so we don’t destroy what we live in.”

    The 26 indigenous groups that live within the area were prime negotiators surrounding the terms of the agreement for the Great Bear Rainforest, which is home to many of Canada’s unique species, including the spirit bear, a rare sub-species of black bear with white fur.

  80. nahuati says

    And good environmental news from Scotland:
    Scottish Wildlife Group Buys Puffin Breeding Ground to Protect Species in Peril

    Puffins and other water birds have a new home at the most northern point of Scotland, after a UK wildlife group purchased a stunning 40-acre site at Dunnet Head.

    Sitting on a rugged peninsula with 300-foot tall cliffs, the site is a natural “seabird city,” drawing tens of thousands of puffins, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and kittiwakes.

    The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has leased the land since 2008, but has finally been able to buy it outright. With the purchase, the historic waterfowl breeding ground will become a permanent bird refuge.

    Previous owner Ben Colson had held onto the site for 25 years, preventing any commercial development. He said selling it to the Scotland group will “ensure it continues as a place of wild beauty.”

  81. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Movies make more money if over half the cast is non-white according to a UCLA study.

    Movies make more money when exactly half their casts are non-white, according to an annual analysis released Thursday that shows an increasing demand for diversity in film.
    In previous years, movies did better at the box office if two or three of the top eight billed actors were non-white. In 2014, four of eight was the magic number, ticket sales show.
    “These aren’t momentary glitches. It’s the handwriting on the wall,” and it points to how profoundly out of touch the motion picture academy is when giving Oscars only to white actors, said Darnell Hunt, who directs the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.
    The Bunche Center has taken a close look at each year’s top-grossing films since 2011, grouping each movie according to how many non-white actors hold the top eight roles, and calculating the median global haul of each level of diversity.
    The best performers, with a median ticket revenue of $122.2 million, turned out to be movies in which half the main cast was non-white. That’s more than double the $52.6 million median haul for films with no non-white actors in the top eight. Films where more than half the principal actors were non-white also did worse, with a median of $52.4 million.
    Casts with non-whites in four of the eight top roles also provided the best return on investment, delivering ticket sales that were 3.4 times the films’ budgets, on average.

    Money talks…

    The City of Chicago is setting up a mental health triage facility to avoid incarceration of the mentally ill.

    One of the nation’s most crowded jails may get relief later this year with the opening of a 24-hour triage center in Chicago where police can take people experiencing psychiatric or substance-abuse crises. The goal is to ease pressure on the county jail, where officials have long complained that about a fifth of the detainees are locked up because of mental health problems.
    Based on successful models in other cities, the initiative comes as the Chicago Police Department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel try to deflect criticism over high-profile police shootings of young black men where mental health may have been a factor.
    Advocates for the plan, which Cook County officials shared with The Associated Press ahead of an official announcement, say it will work only if officers are properly trained.
    “In a perfect world, one would hope officers observing a person with a mental health problem would get them to a treatment center,” said Dr. Jay Shannon, chief of Cook County Health & Hospitals System. “I don’t think it’s as simple as ‘build it and they will come.'”
    Nationally, as mental institutions closed in recent years, jails in large and small cities saw a surge in inmates with serious mental illnesses, most of them arrested for nonviolent crimes. This year, the county will spend $80 million for all health care, including mental health treatment, for adult and juvenile detainees.
    Cities smaller than Chicago with triage centers have reaped savings in jail and hospital costs. San Antonio, Texas, documented annual savings of $2.4 million in jail costs tied to public intoxication, $1.5 million in jail costs for mental health and $1 million in emergency room costs. Minneapolis saved $2.16 for every dollar spent on its triage center. Salt Lake City reported emergency room use by mentally ill people in crisis fell by 90 percent.

  82. nahuati says

    Good news:

    Wynne commits $100M to curb violence against indigenous women

    Queen’s Park will commit $100 million in new funding to tackle violence against First Nations women.

    Premier Kathleen Wynne said the province will not wait until the upcoming national inquiry into the hundreds of murdered and missing indigenous women to move forward.

    “In Ontario, indigenous women are three times more likely to experience violence than other women and three times more likely to be murdered,” Wynne said Tuesday.

    “This is devastating families and entire communities and it’s a problem our entire province needs to face,” she said.

    “We all have a role to play in putting an end to this violence,” she said, adding the initiative builds upon the government’s It’s Never Okay program launched last year to fight sexual violence and harassment.

  83. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A small study, but the name says it all:–Transgender.Children-Well-Being_HFR/

    Young transgender children allowed to live openly as the gender they identify with fared as well psychologically as other kids in a small study that suggests parental support may be the key.
    Rates of depression and anxiety were equal in the study, which compared 73 transgender kids aged 3 to 12 with 73 nontransgender youngsters. The trans kids also fared as well on both measures as a group of their nontransgender siblings.
    Rates of anxiety among trans kids were “a smidge higher” than national averages for children of the same age, but otherwise they matched national norms, said lead author Kristina Olson, an associate psychology professor at the University of Washington.
    She said it’s the largest study to examine the psychological health of transgender youth who have socially transitioned. Parents recruited from support groups, conferences and a special website rated their kids’ well-being on a standard mental health scale.
    The parents weren’t randomly selected and Olson acknowledged that parents of kids who aren’t well-adjusted may have opted not to take part.
    The study “certainly suggests that family support is linked to better mental health,” although that idea wasn’t tested directly and Olson said the results don’t prove that is the explanation for the children’s well-being.
    The results were published Friday in the journal Pediatrics.

    More research is needed, of course.

  84. Saad says

    Hundreds of dead sea lions wash up in Chile

    Marine researchers have found more than 100 dead sea lions — most of them newborns — washed ashore along a relatively small peninsula in northern Chile over the past three months, part of a more widespread die-off being observed elsewhere on South America’s Pacific coast.

    “This is happening along the entire coast of northern Chile and we’re getting reports that it’s also happening in Peru, our neighbor to the north,” researcher Carlos Guerra-Correa told CNN. “We could be talking about hundreds of sea lions washing up ashore dead in the entire region.”

    They’re really annoying, but I would never wish them any harm. :(

  85. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A small convenience store opened in rural Sweden, and it is unstaffed most of the time.

    It was a chaotic, late-night scramble to buy baby food with a screaming toddler in the backseat that gave Robert Ilijason the idea to open Sweden’s first unstaffed convenience store.
    Home alone with his hungry son, Ilijason had dropped the last baby food jar on the floor, and had to drive 20 minutes from the small town of Viken in southern Sweden to find a supermarket that was open.
    Now the 39-year-old IT specialist runs a 24-hour shop with no cashier.
    Customers simply use their cellphones to unlock the door with a swipe of the finger and scan their purchases. All they need to do is to register for the service and download an app. They get charged for their purchases in a monthly invoice.
    The shop has basics like milk, bread, sugar, canned food, diapers and other products that you expect to find in a small convenience store. It doesn’t have tobacco or medical drugs because of the risk of theft. Alcohol cannot be sold in convenience stores in Sweden.
    “My ambition is to spread this idea to other villages and small towns,” said Ilijason. “It is incredible that no one has thought of his before.”
    He hopes the savings of having no staff will help bring back small stores to the countryside. In recent decades, such stores have been replaced by bigger supermarkets often many miles (kilometers) away.
    Ilijason receives deliveries at the shop and stacks products on the shelves. Then he lets the customers do the rest.

    Hope it works out.

  86. Tethys says

    39 year old man drops the last jar of baby food on the floor, has to drive 20 kms late at night? RLY? He thinks the problem is lack of 24 hour convenience stores?

    I wonder if the thought ‘cook food for baby’ ever occurred to him as a solution to that “problem”?

  87. chigau (違う) says

    Tethys #121
    Good question.
    Shirley a much simpler solution than all that screaming chaos.

    I do like the idea of small, unstaffed stores.

  88. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says


    I wonder if the thought ‘cook food for baby’ ever occurred to him as a solution to that “problem”?

    If your total concept of cooking food is pancakes, sausage, steak, hot dogs, and mac & cheese, one could have a problem with “baby food”. Does one just puree canned veggies, or is anything else required?
    Not as easy as you think, depending upon prior experience.

  89. Tethys says

    I don’t understand why dropping the last jar of baby food made it impossible to feed his child. Babies eat the same foods as adults. How hard is it to hand baby a biscuit or some cheerios while you steam and mash some veg? It takes far less work than driving to the store. Would he also be unable to feed his pet dinner if he had no pet food?

    I like his concept of an unstaffed convenience store and the tech that makes it possible is cool, but the real problem is that at 39 year old man and parent lacks some very basic life skills, not that he couldn’t purchase baby food 24/7.

  90. says

    Tethys @125, he had a screaming baby on his hands. The baby might not have been at the hard food stage yet, might have had dietary restrictions, or he might have just panicked when faced with the screaming baby, and done the one thing he knew how to do quickly, gone out for more baby food.

  91. Tethys says

    I get that he had a screaming hungry baby. He is still an idiot for not simply making the baby something else to eat. Oh no, I had to drive 12 miles with my screaming hungry baby because I didn’t have anything else in the house for the baby to eat, and/or I am incapable of cooking, planning ahead, or using the internet if the baby is crying rather screams of male privilege and a complete lack of parenting skills.

    His entire problem was due to his own irresponsibility as a father. 12 whole miles? Pfft what a dumbass.

  92. Tethys says

    I have empathy for the poor baby. I have little for him, and I only said he was irresponsible, not a bad parent.

  93. says

    It is totally possible for a competent parent NOT to have anything at home that you can cook for the baby. This is even possible when you’re in general a granola nut parent who actually does not buy premade baby food*. Maybe it’s because you don’t have much storage space, maybe it’s because you planned for shopping tomorrow, maybe it’s because you were totally sure you still had half a dozen jars of baby food but they turned out to be pickled peperoni, maybe it’s because you’ve fallen victim to the cult of perfect parenthood and are honestly afraid you’ll harm your child by simply handing them some bread, maybe you found moths in the last pack of baby mash.
    Maybe he was just incompetent.
    There’s lots of possibilities and only one of them is the father being an idiot…

    *it is especially possible when you do that.

  94. chigau (違う) says

    People have been known to chew food a bit, then pass it on to the baby.

  95. says

    Oh for fuck’s sake, Tethys, stop being such a fucking asshole. Someone didn’t meet your standard of superhero parent perfection, christ, the fuckin’ world will end now.

    The idea of unstaffed convenience stores is a *great* one, especially as a lot of them, here in the States, are staffed at night by a single person, and subject to damn near constant robberies, and the staff at them ends up murdered all too often. I’d say that’s worth more discussion than your impossible standard of what makes a competent parent.


    Since I would’ve reacted the same way 26 years ago, I guess that makes me a dumbass and a bad parent too? I’m done here, you have no empathy.

    I’m with you, Anne. When I was young, if I had decided to be a parent, I would have done the same damn thing. It’s not like all the instant knowledge and wisdom of the ages gets dumped into your brain when you breed.

  96. says


    People have been known to chew food a bit, then pass it on to the baby.

    And a whole fucktonne more people have rushed to the store in a near panic when they’ve discovered they are out of baby food. So what?

  97. says

    South Dakota governor vetoes law on transgender bathrooms

    PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s governor vetoed a bill that would have made the state the first in the U.S. to approve a law requiring transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex at birth.

    Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who initially reacted positively to the proposal but said he needed to research the issue, rejected the bill Tuesday after groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign insisted it was discriminatory.

    In his veto message, Daugaard said the bill “does not address any pressing issue” and that such decisions were best left to local school officials. He also noted that signing the bill could create costly liability issues for schools and the state. The ACLU had promised to encourage legal action if the bill became law.

    Daugaard initially offered a positive reaction to South Dakota’s proposal, but said he wanted to listen to testimony before making a decision. Last week, he met with three transgender individuals and heard their personal stories; before the meeting, the governor said he had never knowingly met a transgender person.

    Opponents said the legislation was an attack on vulnerable transgender students that would further marginalize them at school. They also criticized comments made by some lawmakers, including Republican Sen. David Omdahl.

    “I’m sorry if you’re so twisted you don’t know who you are,” Omdahl said when asked about the bill last month. “I’m telling you right now, it’s about protecting the kids, and I don’t even understand where our society is these days.”

  98. blf says

    Last known American who fought fascists in 1930s Spain dies in California:

    Delmer Berg, the last known American survivor who fought fascists in 1930s Spain, has died in northern California. He was 100 years old.


    Berg was among about 2,800 members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade who sought to defend an elected government from a military rebellion led by General Francisco Franco. […]

    [… H]e lived in Modesto [California] and was the only white member of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

    Berg worked on housing discrimination and other issues and was a communist most of his life, drawing inquiries from the FBI […]


    He later worked as a landscaper and a stonemason. He and his wife, June […], built a home of stone and reused lumber.

    During his retirement, Berg was an activist against nuclear weapons and US involvement in Central America, and monitored an election in Namibia.

  99. blf says

    Sometimes the Martians do get a bit overexcited, Mars volcanoes spewed billion billion tonnes of lava, causing surface to swivel around:

    ‘If a similar shift happened on Earth, Paris would be in the polar circle,’ says researcher, explaining unusual location of dry riverbeds and frozen reservoirs

    A volcano-dotted region on Mars half the size of France spewed so much lava 3.5 billion years ago that the weight of it displaced the red planet’s outer layers, according to a study released on Wednesday.

    The findings mean the original north and south poles have moved, and explain the unexpected location of dry river beds and underground reservoirs of water ice, as well as other Martian mysteries, lead researcher Sylvain Bouley said.

    “If a similar shift happened on Earth, Paris would be in the polar circle,” said Bouley, a geomorphologist at Université Paris-Sud. “We’d see northern lights in France, and wine grapes would be grown in Sudan.”

    The volcanic upheaval, which lasted a couple of hundred million years, tilted the surface of Mars 20 to 25 degrees, according to the study.

    The lava flow created a plateau called the Tharsis dome more than 5,000 square kilometres (2,000 square miles) wide and 12km (7.5m) thick on a planet half the diameter of Earth.

    “The Tharsis dome is enormous, especially in relation to the size of Mars. It’s an aberration,” Bouley said.

    This outcropping — upward of a billion billion tonnes in weight — was so huge it caused Mars’ top two layers, the crust and the mantle, to swivel around, like the skin and flesh of a peach shifting in relation to its pit.

    Already in 2010, a theoretical study showed that if the Tharsis dome were removed from Mars, the planet would shift on its axis.

    The mildly deranged penguin remembers the incident. It started with the guitarist complaining the drummer was coming in too loud, and too early, and quickly escalated into the usual Martian argument: Should the olive in the Martini be gently slid into the drink with your left tentacle, or plopped in with the upper right tentacle? (There is the heretical position than the Martini should be held with the left tentacle, not the lower right tentacle, during the olive-adding ceremony, but those Martians tend to scuttle away, probably a learned response to having megatonnes of boiling lava dumped on you.)

  100. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Amusing note showing the effects of AGW. A train full of snow was needed to start the Iditarod.

    Alaska’s largest city is so hungry for snow, organizers of the famous Iditarod sled dog race were forced to ship tons of it by train Thursday and dramatically shorten the event’s ceremonial start this weekend…
    Persistent above-freezing temperatures over the last few weeks have melted much of the snow in town, including stockpiles the city tried to set aside for the ceremonial start. The competitive part of the 1,000-mile race kicks off Sunday, 50 miles to the north.
    There have been other low-snow years affecting parts of the race, but this marks the first time snow was sent hundreds of miles by train to supplement the meager local supply.
    Persistent above-freezing temperatures over the last few weeks have melted much of the snow in town, including stockpiles the city tried to set aside for the ceremonial start. The competitive part of the 1,000-mile race kicks off Sunday, 50 miles to the north.
    The prettier snow traveled 360 miles. In Anchorage, railroad workers unloaded each rail car individually, pushing it into piles in a shadow-covered section of railroad property near the downtown depot.
    From there, it will be distributed along the ceremonial start route, which has been shortened to 3 miles from the usual 11 miles.

  101. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    In related news to the Bundy Bungling Militants, arrests were made for the Nevada stand-off of Cliven Bundy.

    Federal authorities rounded up 12 people in five states on Thursday, bringing to 19 the number of defendants facing conspiracy, assault and threats charges in a 2014 armed standoff over grazing cattle on U.S. land near renegade cattleman Cliven Bundy’s ranch in southern Nevada.
    Arrests of alleged co-conspirators in Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma and New Hampshire came after a federal grand jury in Las Vegas expanded an indictment already filed against Bundy. It also names two adult Bundy sons and five other men already in federal custody following the end of a nearly six-week armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon.
    Court documents accuse the men of leading more than 200 followers into an armed confrontation that forced federal Bureau of Land Management agents and contract cowboys to abandon an effort to corral and remove Bundy cattle from federal lands where he was accused of letting them graze for decades without paying federal fees….
    Documents submitted following the Thursday arrest of Gerald “Jerry” DeLemus in Rochester, New Hampshire, said that DeLemus “organized and led armed patrols and security checkpoints” for several following weeks around the Bundy ranch in southern Nevada.
    DeLemus was running for Strafford County sheriff in New Hampshire when he was arrested. He appeared in custody in federal court in Concord, New Hampshire, for a detention hearing that was postponed until Monday. His wife, Republican state Rep. Susan DeLemus, said she planned to hire a lawyer for his defense.

    I hope DeLumus isn’t elected. It would be hard to serve as sheriff in federal jail.

  102. nahuati says

    Kindness News:

    Groomer changes the lives of neglected dogs with free haircuts

    A professional groomer in the US is transforming neglected hounds into posh pooches, one swipe of the clipper at a time.

    Mark Imhof, 45, makes weekly trips to Animal Care Centres across New York, to give free haircuts to shelter dogs.

    “These shelter dogs are afraid and just want to be accepted,” Mr Imhof told The Huffington Post.

    “I’m trying to give some of their self-respect back.”

    Mr Imhof said he often witnessed a complete personality change in the dogs once they had been freed of their matted, dirty fur.

    “They are so much freer and happier. Their sense of smell is stronger, so they like when the matted, dirty fur is off of them.”

  103. nahuati says

    Heartwarming story from Australia:

    Truffle hunting offers new life for rescue dogs in Canberra

    A Canberra truffle farmer is rescuing dogs and training them to hunt for the prized black gold.

    Jayson Mesman has trained law enforcement dogs for 12 years but a decade ago he stumbled across truffle farming while working for Customs in Western Australia.

    He now owns the ACT’s only truffle farm in the foothills of Mount Majura. His “farm hands” are dogs rescued from pounds over the past decade.

    “I actually go into the pound and look for the dogs that people quite often can’t maintain,” Mr Mesman said.

    Kudos to Mr. Mesman for being so kind!

  104. nahuati says

    Another heartwarming dog story, this time from the United States:

    Groomer changes the lives of neglected dogs with free haircuts

    A professional groomer in the US is transforming neglected hounds into posh pooches, one swipe of the clipper at a time.

    Mark Imhof, 45, makes weekly trips to Animal Care Centres across New York, to give free haircuts to shelter dogs.

    “These shelter dogs are afraid and just want to be accepted,” Mr Imhof told The Huffington Post.

    “I’m trying to give some of their self-respect back.”

    Mr Imhof said he often witnessed a complete personality change in the dogs once they had been freed of their matted, dirty fur.

    “They are so much freer and happier. Their sense of smell is stronger, so they like when the matted, dirty fur is off of them.”

    Kudos to Mr. Imhof for being so kind!

  105. nahuati says

    Good Environmental News from Alaska:

    Court upholds federal plan to protect vast polar bear habitat in Alaska

    A federal government plan to protect a vast area of the US Arctic as habitat for polar bears has been upheld by an appeals court, overturning a previous victory by the state of Alaska and fossil fuel lobbyists against the designation.

    The US court of appeals for the ninth circuit reversed a lower-court decision that the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s protection of 187,000 square miles of Alaska’s northern coast – an area larger than California – was too extensive and arbitrary.

    The verdict has been hailed by conservationists as vital for the survival of a species suffering because “their habitat is melting from beneath their feet”. Scientists have forecast that the world’s polar bear population will slump by a third by 2050, primarily due to global warming.

    The FWS’s conservation plan involves safeguarding a mostly offshore area of Alaska’s North Slope for polar bears, which require sea ice for hunting, breeding and migrating. Shrinking ice mass in the Arctic has meant that in 2008, the polar bear became the first species deemed threatened under the Endangered Species Act for climate change reasons.

  106. nahuati says

    Can you guess the world’s longest distance flyer?

    A dragonfly barely an inch and a half long appears to be animal world’s most prolific long distance traveler – flying thousands of miles over oceans as it migrates from continent to continent – according to newly published research.

    Biologists at Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) who led the study – which appears in the journal PLOS ONE – say the evidence is in the genes. They found that populations of this dragonfly, called Pantala flavescens, in locations as far apart as Texas, eastern Canada, Japan, Korea, India, and South America, have genetic profiles so similar that there is only one likely explanation. Apparently – somehow – these insects are traveling distances that are extraordinarily long for their small size, breeding with each other, and creating a common worldwide gene pool that would be impossible if they did not intermingle.

  107. nahuati says

    Interesting News:

    Breeding birds use alligators to protect nests from raccoons, opossums

    Breeding birds that nest above alligators for protection from mammalian predators may also provide a source of food for the alligators living in the Everglades, Florida, according to a study published March 2, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Lucas Nell from the University of Florida and colleagues.

    For many bird species, nest predation is the greatest threat to raising chicks. Long-legged wading birds, like herons, egrets, ibises, storks, and spoonbills may choose nesting sites above resident American alligators, likely to take advantage of protection from nest predators such as raccoons and opossums. While the benefits to the bird species of having alligators nearby are well-documented, few studies have explored the effect on the protector, the alligator. Specifically, some previous research has shown that wading bird nesting colonies could provide substantial food for alligators in the form of dropped chicks, which are chicks ejected from the nest when a bird lays more eggs than they can raise. In this study, the authors compared the body condition of ~40 female alligators living with and without long-legged wading bird nesting colonies in similar habitat in the Everglades, Florida. To measure body condition, they took blood samples and measured the mass and length of the alligators.

  108. nahuati says

    Good Environmental News:

    Puerto Rico Community Land Trust Awarded UN World Habitat Award

    A world organization has recognized and awarded a group in Puerto Rico’s metropolitan region for their work ensuring that a dangerously polluted and highly populated area can be made safe and thrive.

    A community land trust created to tackle the highly polluted Martín Peña Channel – the ‘Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña’ – has been awarded the 2015-16 UN World Habitat Award.

    More than 25,000 people live in settlements around a channel that has long been singled out for its contamination and for flooding. The grassroots group has undertaken an ambitious plan to create safe, permanent and affordable housing around the 200 acres of land near the channel. This is a ground-breaking model for improving such communities without adding financial pressure onto the residents.

    The award honors innovative and replicable initiatives that tackle issues that affect human settlements.

    “The project tackles a number of core elements for the right to housing such as ensuring security of tenure for those living in informal settlements, community participation and protection of land,” stated UN Special Rapporteur Leilani Fahra. “It recognizes housing is a human right rather than a commodity. Women are community leaders, and the project ensures them title to properties.”

  109. nahuati says

    Positive News:

    This Soup Kitchen Is Disguised As A Restaurant So The Homeless Can Dine With Dignity

    The Kansas City Community Kitchen is changing the way soup kitchens serve food. The process includes greeters and servers just like a typical sit-down restaurant, which makes the homeless feel like part of the community.

    “We are trying to flip the photo of what a soup kitchen looks like,” Mandy Caruso-Yahne, director of community engagement at Episcopal Community Services, which runs the kitchen, they said.

    The Kansas City Community Kitchen has been serving the community for 30 years, but on Feb. 5, it re-opened with its new restaurant-style initiative that allows the homeless to “dine with dignity.”

    “It’s different,” Brian Oglesby, a homeless man who dined at Kansas City Community Kitchen told The Kansas City Star. “They’re treating me good, like they don’t know I’m homeless.”

    The menu was created by executive chef Michael Curry, the owner of the Kansas City restaurant, Lil’ Bubba, who once lived in poverty and ate at soup kitchens himself.

  110. nahuati says

    Good Science News:

    Peanut Mush In Infancy Cuts Allergy Risk. New Study Adds To Evidence

    The concern is real. Between 1997 and 2008, the incidence of peanut and tree nut allergies nearly tripled, according to one published study.

    Now, there’s a growing consensus about how to prevent peanut allergies in kids who are at high risk. This includes children with a strong family history of food allergies and those with eczema.

    Last year, a landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that high-risk babies who were fed a soupy, peanut-butter mush (starting between 4 and 11 months of age) were about 80 percent less likely to develop a peanut allergy by age 5, compared with kids who were not exposed.


    Now, a new follow-up study involving the same group of children adds to the evidence that, contrary to previous advice, early exposure can be beneficial.

    Researchers followed the kids for one additional year. The kids were between 5 and 6 years old during this follow-up period. It turned out, these high-risk kids’ tolerance to peanuts held up even if they stopped eating peanuts.

  111. Ice Swimmer says

    nahuati @ 143

    Interesting, I would guessed that the arctic tern would be the longest-distance migrant, flying between subarctic and arctic regions and the Antarctic Ocean. While arctic terns are certainly larger than the dragonflies, they aren’t a huge birds either, about same size as Eurasian common blackbird or American common grackle.

    Terns (arctic and common terns breed and nest in the coast and archipelagos of the Baltic sea) are pretty looking birds and fun to watch when they’re plunge-diving for fish in the summer.

  112. nahuati says

    Good Environmental News:

    Sumatran Orangutan Population More Than Double Previous Estimate

    After a detailed survey, experts now estimate there are 14,600 Sumatran orangutans living in the wild—8,000 more than previously thought.

    “Given that most news about this species and their situation tend to be negative, this is very good news,” says Hjalmar Kühl, a researcher at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

    The new estimate, described in a study published March 4 in the journal Science Advances, is the result of a detailed survey conducted by Kühl and his colleagues, in which they counted nests of the great apes along a vast transect in northern Sumatra, where the animals live.

  113. nahuati says

    And More Good Environmental News:

    Thriving Yellowstone Grizzlies to Leave the Endangered Species List

    In response to the successful recovery of one of the nation’s most iconic animals, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to remove the grizzly bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

    The restoration of the grizzly bear in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho during the last three decades stands as one of America’s great conservation successes—a testament to the value of the Endangered Species Act and the strong partnerships it drives. The Yellowstone grizzly bear population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 or more today.

  114. blf says

    A loosely-related follow-up to @148, Italian Cuisine Worth Going to Prison For:

    MILAN — The waiters glided through the crowded dining room of InGalera, a restaurant that opened recently to rave reviews. Dinner reservations are almost fully booked for March, and the Milanese elite have taken note. A former bank president came a few weeks ago. So did a former Miss Italy. Families come on weekends.

    For Silvia Polleri, the restaurant’s manager and visionary, InGalera is a dizzying triumph, if more because of the locale than because of the food.

    It is inside the Bollate penitentiary, a medium-security prison with 1,100 inmates on the outskirts of Milan. The waiters, dishwashers and cooks have been convicted of homicide, armed robbery, drug trafficking and other crimes.

    “May I take your plate, sir?” asked a waiter, Carlos, an inmate dressed in a tie, white shirt and black vest as he cleared a table on a recent night.

    It is hard to imagine a less likely culinary success story than InGalera, or a more intriguing experiment in rehabilitating inmates — and confronting public attitudes about them.


    Ms. Polleri decided that the best way to reassure patrons was to take a wink-wink approach. The name, InGalera, is Italian slang for “In Prison.”

    The restaurant’s design is sleek, airy and modern, but the walls are decorated with posters from famous prison movies, including “Escape From Alcatraz” with Clint Eastwood.


    [… Even with a series of ECHR (European Court for Human Rights) mandated reforms] the issue of how best to rehabilitate offenders — and lower the recidivism rate — remained difficult. Italy has long allowed inmates in medium-security prisons to move around the facilities during the day.

    “The main problem has been that they do little during the day, which doesn’t help them at the present, nor for their future outside prisons,” said Alessio Scandurra, who works for Antigone, a nonprofit group focused on the rights of detainees.

    The Bollate prison was at the vanguard of experimentation even before opening the restaurant. Under the director, Massimo Parisi, the prison offers an array of programs. Companies have work programs on prison grounds. Volunteers teach theater and painting. Carpentry skills are taught in workshops equipped with power drills and saws. Inmates maintain a stable of horses in the prison yard.


    In the kitchen, inmates were busily preparing dishes as one, Mirko, was showing another how to make tarts. Inmates are paid up to 1,000 euros a month to work in the restaurant, and share tips.

    “It is a matter of pride, a way to make people happy and show them that even inmates can change and evolve,” said Mirko, who like the other inmates wanted to be identified only by his first name.

    Ms. Polleri says that she realizes the restaurant may bother some people and that she does not want to offend victims of crime. But she argued that prisons must train inmates to become responsible citizens capable of re-entering society, and noted that the recidivism rate of inmates in similar programs is far lower than average.

    […] Her most nerve-racking moment came in early December when she learned that a food critic for one of the country’s most important newspapers, Corriere della Sera, had secretly come for dinner one night and was preparing a review.

    “I couldn’t sleep for a week,” Ms. Polleri said. The critic praised the food, the waiters and the “convivial atmosphere.” He even praised the prices, which are more reasonable than most Milanese restaurants. “To have honest prices,” he wrote, “you have to come to jail.”

  115. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    First ransomware virus hits Mac OSX.

    Apple Inc customers were targeted by hackers over the weekend in the first campaign against Macintosh computers using a pernicious type of software known as ransomware, researchers with Palo Alto Networks Inc told Reuters on Sunday.
    Ransomware, one of the fastest-growing types of cyber threats, encrypts data on infected machines, then typically asks users to pay ransoms in hard-to-trace digital currencies to get an electronic key so they can retrieve their data.
    Security experts estimate that ransoms total hundreds of millions of dollars a year from such cyber criminals, who typically target users of Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system.
    Palo Alto Threat Intelligence Director Ryan Olson said the “KeRanger” malware, which appeared on Friday, was the first functioning ransomware attacking Apple’s Mac computers.
    “This is the first one in the wild that is definitely functional, encrypts your files and seeks a ransom,” Olson said in a telephone interview.
    Hackers infected Macs through a tainted copy of a popular program known as Transmission, which is used to transfer data through the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing network, Palo Alto said on a blog posted on Sunday afternoon.
    When users downloaded version 2.90 of Transmission, which was released on Friday, their Macs were infected with the ransomware, the blog said.
    An Apple representative said the company had taken steps over the weekend to prevent further infections by revoking a digital certificate that enabled the rogue software to install on Macs. The representative declined to provide other details.
    Transmission responded by removing the malicious version of its software from its website, On Sunday it released a version that its website said automatically removes the ransomware from infected Macs.
    The website advised Transmission users to immediately install the new update, version 2.92, if they suspected they might be infected.

  116. nahuati says

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls @155:

    That was interesting news about the nasty ransomware virus.

    Now I’m off to find some good news after that announcement.
    Therapy dogs at an airport! Now that sounds like a wonderful idea.

    These 3 Golden Retrievers Are Employees at Mumbai T2. For a Reason That’ll Make Your Heart Soar!

    A few days ago, a German tourist was travelling back to her country after visiting India. She reached Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport’s terminal T2, only to find that she had missed her flight and would have to wait for almost 15 hours to catch the next one. She was travelling alone and the airport seemed to be the best place to wait. But the entire ordeal took a toll on her – she was exhausted, stressed, worried, and frustrated after some time.

    Fortunately, her anguish wasn’t meant to last long. Just when she counted that there were nine more hours left before her flight took off, something unique happened – a meeting of a lifetime that helped her get rid of her mental and physical fatigue in an instant – a meeting with an adorable Golden Retriever she found roaming around the airport. A comforting hug and a long heart-to-heart conversation later, the tourist found herself in tears. Her hands kept combing the dog’s hair – she said she couldn’t describe the feeling of finding a charming friend amidst the endless chaos. “Truly an angel,” she said, looking at the dog. After spending an hour with it, she was all set to wait and board her flight – happy and stress free.

    After all, who wants the final memory of any tour to be that of a gloomy airport and missed flight!

    All this happened thanks to the latest initiative by the airport authorities in Mumbai, who have employed three trained therapy dogs to spend time at the airport and soothe, comfort and de-stress passengers waiting at the departure terminal.

  117. nahuati says

    Ahhhhhhh. The following story is heartwarming!

    ‘I’ll take you home’: Vet reunites with his military dog

    On Saturday, Army veteran Julio Muñoz finally found the dog he has been missing for three years — Ben, the canine who fought alongside him in Afghanistan.

    Muñoz, 32, of The Bronx, was supposed to have been given the chance to adopt the dog after deployment. But as The Post revealed, at least two Pentagon employees, along with contractor K2 Solutions, have been secretly dumping military dogs out to civilians instead of offering them to their handlers.

    Kim Scarborough, 52, was one of those civilians. She found Muñoz’s name on Ben’s deployment papers. She had told The Post after reaching out to the soldier, “If the handler wants Ben, it belongs to him. Period, the end.”

    Though Muñoz missed Ben fiercely, the ex-soldier said if the dog was happy in his new home, he’d let him be. “I wouldn’t want to ruin that for him,” Muñoz said. “He’s already been through so much.”

    As you might expect, there was a very happy ending for the vet and dog, thanks to Kim Scarborough!

  118. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The Bungling Bundy Militants face additional charges from the damages the did to the Wildlife Refuge and Native American Artifacts on the site.

    The federal government on Wednesday leveled additional charges against Ammon Bundy and dozens of other armed activists who took over a national wildlife refuge in Oregon, including a weapons allegation that carries the possibility of life in prison.
    A grand jury indicted Bundy and most of his co-defendants on a new charge of firearms possession in a federal facility after the group seized the nature preserve in January to oppose U.S. land restrictions. Others face a second firearms allegation, theft or damaging an archaeological site considered sacred to the Burns Paiute Tribe.
    The new charges come as the government cracks down on the Bundy family and others for leading armed standoffs in a long-running dispute over management of public lands in the Western U.S. Federal authorities have charged Bundy’s father, Cliven Bundy, and several others in recent months with conspiracy, assault and threats in a 2014 armed standoff over grazing rights near the patriarch’s Nevada ranch.
    In a packed courtroom in Portland, the younger Bundy and others pleaded not guilty to the new allegations Wednesday. All 26 defendants were previously charged with conspiracy to impede officers of the United States…
    He and eight others, including his brother Ryan, were charged with carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, which has a maximum penalty of life in prison.
    Sean Anderson and a defendant whose name was redacted from the indictment were charged with damaging the tribal site “by means of excavation and the use of heavy equipment,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight said.
    Three other occupiers were charged with theft of government property. Kenneth Medenbach took a Ford pickup, while Ryan Bundy and Jon Ritzheimer stole cameras valued at more than $1,000, the indictment says.

    This shows what clueless asshole Bundy is:

    Ammon Bundy’s attorneys told the judge that he wanted to be advised of his rights. U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown denied the request, noting that they were read at three prior court appearances.
    “I know I have no rights, so thank you,” Bundy said.

    Sorry Bundy, who gives a shit if you can’t/won’t remember your rights after thrice being clued in, and you don’t get coddled for your own stupidity…

  119. nahuati says

    A heart-warming story: This penguin swims 8,000km every year to meet his human friend.

    Dindim — a South American Magellanic penguin — swims over 8,000km every year to meet his human friend Joao Pereira de Souza — a 71-year-old retired bricklayer and part-time fisherman living on an island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Pereira de Souza rescued Dindim when he washed up on the shore in 2011, starving and covered in oil.

    Pereira de Souza cleaned Dindim’s tarred feathers for over a week and nursed him back to health by feeding him fish to help him regain his strength. He then took him to the sea to release him so that the penguin could migrate back to his habitat. “But he wouldn’t leave. He stayed with me for 11 months and then just after he changed his coat with new feathers, he disappeared,” Pereira de Souza told Globo TV. “Everyone said he wouldn’t return but he has been coming back to visit me for the past four years. He arrives in June and leaves to go home in February,” he explains. South American Magellanic penguins usually breed in the Patagonia coasts of Argentina and Chile — 4,000-8,000km away.

  120. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Daylight Savings Timeses, we hates them.

    I really hated it in Dah YooPee. We were on Eastern Time, to match with Lansing. I calculated once we were already 1:45 off solar time before the DST took effect, which made it worse.

  121. blf says

    Teh raping children cult being beastly again, and told to grow up by adults, yet again, Córdoba [Spain] rejects Catholic church’s claim to own mosque-cathedral (my emboldening):

    Building does not belong to any individual or organisation, according to council report on long-running row

    Local authorities in Córdoba have dealt a blow to the Catholic church’s claim of legal ownership of the Spanish city’s mosque-cathedral, declaring that “religious consecration is not the way to acquire property”.

    The report, written by the city council’s secretary general, Valeriano Lavela, marks a significant intervention in a long-running row over the building, which lies on the site of a Visigothic Christian church built in the early 9th century and was given to the local bishop by Fernando III in 1236 when the city fell to Christian forces.

    In 2006 the diocese of Córdoba paid €30 to register ownership of what it calls the cathedral-mosque or sometimes just the cathedral. The council’s approved name is the mosque-cathedral of Córdoba.

    But the council’s report says the building does not belong to the church nor to any other organisation or individual. Lavela writes that the church’s acquisition has no legal basis and cannot confer ownership. This, he adds, is not just because the site has since 1984 been a Unesco world heritage site “of exceptional universal value” and therefore cannot be owned by anyone.

    Citing Roman law, Lavela argues that the site’s true owners “are each and every citizen of the world from whatever epoch and regardless of people, nation, culture or race”.


    In 2013, hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition for the building to be managed by the local authority rather than the church in order to conserve its cultural heritage. It was in response to an inquiry into whether the city of Córdoba could ever claim ownership that the report was published.

    While mass is held in the building, the local bishop has banned Muslims from praying there. In 2010 fighting broke out when a group of Muslim visitors knelt to pray.

    The cult should just add a TRUMP sign in poorly-done faux gold lettering to their mosque-cathedral.

  122. blf says

    Palestinian teacher wins global prize worth $1m:

    Hanan al-Hroub, who works with children exposed to violence, wins prize at ceremony […]
    Hanan al-Hroub, who works with children who have grown up exposed to violence, was given the second annual Global Teacher prize at a star-studded ceremony in Dubai.


    In her acceptance speech, given in Arabic, she said: “I am proud to be a Palestinian female teacher standing on this stage. I accept this as a win for all teachers in general and Palestinian teachers in particular.

    “Each day, the role of the teacher is reinforced and its importance confirmed as the world questions what future we want for our children.”


    Hroub grew up in the Bethlehem refugee camp, and was regularly exposed to violence. She went into primary education after her own children were left traumatised from witnessing a shooting on their way home from school.

    Hroub promotes the slogan “no to violence” and uses a specialist approach with children that she developed herself, and has written about in her book, We Play We Learn. It involves developing trusting, respectful and affectionate relationships, encouraging youngsters to work together and rewarding positive behaviour.

    She is planning to spend the money on helping students and teachers around the world to help them progress in their education and careers.

  123. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Speaking of Palestinian teachers, I recommend the documentary:
    Teaching Ignorance

    This powerful film follows several Israeli and Palestinian teachers over the course of an academic year. It asks: How do the Palestinian, Israeli Arab, and Israeli Jewish educational systems teach the history of their peoples? By observing teachers, the film shows us their exchanges and confrontations with students as they transmit the values of religion, politics, and nationalism in the classroom. In Teaching Ignorance, educators from all sides of the conflict debate their peoples’ official curriculum, wrestling with is restrictions. This film offers an intimate glimpse into the profound and long-lasting effect that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict transmits to the next generation.

    I do find it a bit strange that in this excerpt I’m seeing some scenes I did not see in the movie. It looks like they were cut, I’d like to know why.

  124. blf says

    Discovery of brainy T rex ancestor sheds light on dinosaur’s dominance:

    Skull found in Uzbekistan belonging to Timurlengia euotica, a horse-sized forerunner of Tyrannosaurus rex, reveals advanced brain and hearing ability that may have helped it become ‘king of the Cretaceous’ over larger rivals

    The dusty remains of a horse-sized tyrannosaur have shed light on an evolutionary mystery that eventually resulted in the most fearsome predators to walk the Earth, not to mention nightmares for countless four-year-olds.

    While Tyrannosaurus rex topped the food chain 70m years ago, the earliest known tyrannosaurs were far less impressive beasts. Skeletons dating back 165m years reveal the ancestors of T rex were not much larger than a human. Quite how they rose to dominance has long been obscured by a 20m-year gap in the fossil record.

    The discovery of a partial skull belonging to a 90m-year-old tyrannosaur has now given dinosaur hunters their best clue yet. While the animal was still small, at only 250kg and 3 metres long, its brain had evolved an impressive sensory system. The more advanced brain may have helped secure the tyrannosaurs’ rise to dominance.

    Named Timurlengia euotica, the newly found species had an elongated inner ear, which would have made it good at hearing low frequency sounds: all the better for hunting prey. The name comes from Timur Leng (also known as Timur or Tamerlane), a 14th-century Central Asian warlord, and euotica, meaning “well-eared”, a reference to the animal’s large cochlea. Other parts of the skull are missing though, making it impossible to know how good its hearing and vision were.

    The discovery suggests that T rex and its closest relatives did not develop their heightened senses after reaching gigantic proportions […]

  125. nahuati says

    More Than 6,000 Manatees Spotted in Florida—A Record

    There may be good news for Florida’s favorite sea cows.

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently reported a record minimum count of 6,250 manatees in its annual aerial survey of the state’s waters, which includes sites with large manatee gatherings. This breaks the last record of 5,077 manatees in 2010.

    Though this is just a minimum count and not necessarily a trend, the discovery seems to support growing data that suggests the endangered marine mammal may be bouncing back.

  126. chigau (違う) says

    The New FtB is going to take a while for me to get used to.
    My bookmarks are … not well sorted.

  127. nahuati says

    ‘Bad Dog’ Does Good:

    ‘Bad Dog’ Destined to Spend Life in Shelter Catches 150 Poachers in Two Years

    This so-called “bad dog” is doing good in Africa, saving wildlife from poachers and putting illegal hunters behind bars.

    Ruger, a Labrador retriever and German shepherd mix, was unloved as a puppy, angry and aggressive in later years, and is going blind today. But as Zambia’s first anti-poaching canine, he’s become a very good dog — catching more than 150 poachers since going to work in 2014.

    Conservation biologist Megan Parker found Ruger in a Montana shelter. He’d snap at people and was hard to handle — qualities that make him unlikely to ever be adopted, but perfect for going after poachers.

    Trained by Parker and others at Working Dogs for Conservation (WD4C), Ruger will signal when he’s spotted weapons or ivory by staring at the place the contraband is hidden.

  128. blf says

    Marine archaeologists discover rare artefacts at 1503 shipwreck site:

    British-led team off coast of Oman find the Esmeralda, the earliest wreck ever found from the European ‘Age of Discovery’

    A British-led archaeological expedition has uncovered the 500-year-old wreck site of what it claims is the earliest ship ever found from Europe’s “Age of Discovery”, a Portuguese vessel that was captained by an uncle of the legendary explorer Vasco da Gama.

    The Esmerelda was one of two ships that sank in a storm off the coast of Oman in 1503, only five years after da Gama discovered the first sea route from Europe to India.

    After three years of excavation and historical and scientific research, the archaeologists, who included teams from Bournemouth University and Oman’s ministry of culture, announced that they had found the site of the wreck, and with it a collection of artefacts including one of the rarest coins in the world and what may be part of a previously unknown maritime astrolabe.

    David Mearns, director of West Sussex-based Blue Water Recoveries which led the expedition, told the Guardian the major significance of the find was the date of its sinking, very early in the period when a handful of European maritime powers were racing to discover and exploit new routes to the east.

    “This is the earliest ship {from the period of European maritime exploration of Asia} that has been found by a long stretch,” he said. “If you consider that that pre-colonial period started on a major basis with Columbus, in 1492, this is just a decade after that.”


    Because it broke up in shallow waters, very little of the ship itself has survived, but thousands of artefacts were uncovered from the sand in the shallow bay. Among them was an incredibly rare silver coin called an indio, of which only one other is known to exist. The coins were forged in 1499 after da Gama’s first voyage to India, which helps date the wreckage […]

    However Mearns said the most exciting discovery was a metal disc bearing the Portuguese coat of arms and an image of an armillary sphere, a model of celestial globe, which was the personal emblem of the then King of Portugal. The archaeologists have speculated that it may be a component part of a type of astrolabe, a navigational device, but are not certain, he said.


    He said the dig had been a “dream job” for the archaeologists. “These are people who work in England in dry suits in freezing cold water, sometimes they can see no further than their nose. So to come to this really beautiful island, completely remote, you have nothing there{…} this lovely bay, warm waters and you are visited every day by dolphins coming to play with you.

    “These are the sort of exotic holidays that people would pay tens of thousands of pounds to go on.”


    Ayoub al-Busaidi, the supervisor of marine archaeology at the Oman ministry of heritage and culture, said the dig marked the first underwater excavation carried out by his country. He said it had inspired officials to continue to explore the waters around the sultanate for other finds. […]

  129. nahuati says

    Interesting Combination:

    The Florida jail that is also an animal shelter

    Usually the word “jail” brings some harsh imagery to mind: barbed wire fences, orange jumpsuits and tall concrete walls. That’s not the case in the Key West, though. Ask a local about the jail, and the most likely image is Mo, an adorable and charismatic sloth who’s become the unofficial mascot of the Stock Island Detention Center, which doubles as a sanctuary for unwanted animals.

    “All the animals here are either abandoned, abused, confiscated or donated,” Jeanne Selander, the caretaker for the facility, explains to Care2. “The animals are here because they need a forever home and we give them one.”

    Among the facility’s residents are: Boots, a small alligator whose original owner didn’t want to pay for his vet bills after he ate the silicone lining in his tank; Fat Albert, an African spurred tortoise who escaped his owners’ home and was found wandering around town; and Bam Bam, an abandoned miniature horse. In total, the prison holds 150 animals and up to 596 prisoners. Five of the latter get to work with the animals as volunteers.

  130. CJO, egregious by any standard says

    Pharyngula-meta, for the old-timers

    Was “teal deer” for “tl;dr” coined here, or was it already a thing? Because it’s apparently a thing now. Check out the Firefox start page.

    Next to a message saying “We take the tl;dr out of email newsletters. Sign up for short, sweet messages about getting the most out of your Firefox.”

    there’s a teal deer

  131. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    As a follow up to a previous report about the possibility of rooms beyond King Tut’s tomb, radar scans indicate that there are rooms.

    Scans of King Tut’s burial chamber have revealed two hidden rooms, Egypt’s antiquities minister said Thursday — a discovery that could intensify speculation that the chambers contain the remains of the famed Queen Nefertiti.
    Mamdouh el-Damaty told reporters that the secret chambers may contain metal or organic material, but he declined to comment on whether royal treasure or mummies could be inside. Analysis of the scans made by a Japanese team showed chambers that would be scanned again at the end of the month to get a better idea of what may lay inside, he said.
    “It means a rediscovery of Tutankhamun … for Egypt it is a very big discovery, it could be the discovery of the century,” el-Damaty said. “It is very important for Egyptian history and for all of the world.”

    Very interesting.

  132. nahuati says

    Good Environmental News:

    Surge in renewable energy stalls world greenhouse gas emissions

    Falling coal use in China and the US and a worldwide shift towards renewable energy have kept greenhouse gas emissions level for a second year running, one of the world’s leading energy analysts has said.

    Preliminary data for 2015 from the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector have levelled off at 32.1bn tonnes even as the global economy grew over 3% .

    Electricity generated by renewable sources played a critical role, having accounted for around 90% of new electricity generation in 2015. Wind power produced more than half of all new electricity generation, said the IEA

  133. says

    For some reason the Racism thread doesn’t allow comments any more?

    Anyways, I ‘m looking for a specific article I saw a few years ago. I’m wondering if anyone knows what it was.

    It was a criticism of some meetings of some sort where people would sit around in a circle and confess their privilege or something. The writer said this was a bad strategy or something, I don’t really remember.

    Anyone have that article or blog post or whatever it was?

  134. chigau (違う) says

    Brian Pansky #186
    If the Racism thread commenting is off, that just means it has reached a software time limit.
    If you want it revived send PZ an email.
    otherwise, this is as good a place as any for your query

  135. chigau (違う) says

    the time is now
    and I just checked my auto-internets-time-update-thingy
    what is going on with Pharyngula Time?
    this had been going on and getting worse for some time now
    I should complain
    or have another wee dram

  136. Rowan vet-tech says

    This was a rather conflicted day for me. I had to euthanize one of my new foster kittens for a failure to thrive (she was 9 days old today ) but I’m currently at a Loreena Mckennitt concert that should start shortly and I’m very happy about it. At least it’s ending on a positive, I guess, and Cypress’ brothers are both doing really well so far.

  137. John Morales says

    In Australian news:
    Some supermarket cat food brands may cause ‘severe illness’, study finds

    Key points:

    * Study finds some supermarket and pet shop cat food brands may cause lameness, diabetes, obesity or anaemia
    * Out of 20 products tested eight products did not meet Australian nutritional standards
    * The authors of the study will not release the names of the brands


    Anne Jackson, editor of the Australian Veterinary Journal, told the ABC the study was only “preliminary” and “cannot be relied upon until confirmed by large, formal trials”.

    She said that was why “it would be inappropriate for the authors to include the names of the companies”.

    Fear of litigation, presumably.

    Sydney veterinarian Tom Lonsdale, a fierce critic of the pet food industry, does not agree with the University’s reasoning.

    “That’s absurd. If they were going to stand by what they wrote then they would be prepared to publish the names,” Dr Lonsdale said

    I think so, too — with due caveats.

  138. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Researchers have deleted about half the genes from a bacteria, and it still lives and multiplies.

    Scientists have deleted nearly half the genes of a microbe, creating a stripped-down version that still functions, an achievement that might reveal secrets of how life works.
    It may also help researchers create new bacteria tailored for pumping out medicines and other valuable substances.
    The newly created bacterium has a smaller genetic code than does any natural free-living counterpart, with 531,000 DNA building blocks containing 473 genes. (Humans have more than 3 billion building blocks and more than 20,000 genes).
    But even this stripped-down organism is full of mystery. Scientists say they have little to no idea what a third of its genes actually do.
    “We’re showing how complex life is, even in the simplest of organisms,” researcher J. Craig Venter told reporters. “These findings are very humbling.”
    Some of the mystery genes may be clues to discovering unknown fundamental processes of life, his colleague Clyde Hutchison III said in an interview. Both researchers, from the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, California, are among the authors of a paper on the project released Thursday by the journal Science.
    The DNA code, or genome, is contained in a brand-new bacterium dubbed JCVI-syn3.0.

    Now, to identify what the remaining third of the genes do.

  139. blf says

    Bark to the future: ice age puppies may reveal canine evolution:

    Studies on pair discovered perfectly preserved in the Yakutia region in Russia five years ago may provide clues about when dogs were domesticated

    [… A] pair of puppies perfectly preserved in Russia’s far north-east region of Yakutia and dating back 12,460 years has mobilised scientists across the world.

    “To find a carnivorous mammal intact with skin, fur and internal organs — this has never happened before in history,” said Sergei Fyodorov, head of exhibitions at the Mammoth Museum of the North-Eastern Federal University in the regional capital of Yakutsk.

    The discovery could contribute to the scientific debate over the origin of domesticated dogs.

    When the hunters stumbled on the first frozen pup in 2011, they alerted Fyodorov who flew out to the remote Arctic tundra, about 2,900 miles (4,700km) from Moscow and only 80 miles from the Laptev Sea, which borders the Arctic Ocean.

    Last year he returned for a more thorough look and found the second puppy close to the same spot, farther down the slope. Both had died when they were about three months old.

    It is likely they were both from the same litter, said Fyodorov.

    Last week he oversaw the removal of the second puppy’s remarkably well-preserved brain — “the first in the world”, he said.

    “Puppies are very rare, because they have thin bones and delicate skulls,” he said.

    The duo have been named the Tumat dogs, after the nearest village to the site.

    Fyodorov said a preliminary look at the mammoth remains also found at the dig suggested some had been butchered and burned, hinting at the presence of humans. It remains to be seen, however, whether the puppies were domesticated or wild.


    “Thus far, the lineages of wolves that likely gave rise to dogs have not yet been discovered and it’s possible that these puppies could be on that lineage, which would be very exciting,” said evolutionary biologist Greger Larson, of the University of Oxford, one of the scientists behind a collaborative project aimed at finding out when and where dogs became the first domesticated animals.

    What makes the dog particularly intriguing is that it managed to become “man’s best friend” even before humans became settled farmers. […]

  140. blf says

    This seems very encouraging, Dresses to degrees: university opens its doors to Bangladesh garment workers:

    A new scheme offers free degree courses at the Asian University for Women to improve the prospects for workers in Bangladesh’s clothing factories
    The AUW opened in 2008 in Chittagong to educate the brightest young women with the greatest potential, and create a new generation of female leaders. The AUW is a regional university, attracting students from 15 countries in Asia and the Middle East.

    It is funded by donors including the Ikea Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its founder, Bangladeshi-American Kamal Ahmad, says that, unlike most Asian universities, which admit only those able to pay fees, “our cardinal principle is to recruit the most talented people, irrespective of background”.

    Sonia Akter is in her fourth year at the AUW. She grew up in the village of Mushuria, Tangail district, “where no girl had ever attended university before”, she says.

    She took advantage of an earlier initiative to recruit poorer students to the AUW via the Grameen Bank, Bangladesh’s Nobel prize-winning microfinance institution.

    An exceptionally bright student, according to her teachers, she has completed internships in Cambodia and India. During the latter spell she worked on a project with Kiran Bedi, India’s first female police officer, to encourage women to start businesses. Last summer, she won a scholarship to attend the Lucerne Academy for Human Rights Implementation in Switzerland.

    “When I left my village, members of the community criticised my mother for allowing me to go, but their attitudes are changing because they have seen what I’ve achieved,” she says. “To visit home, I have to walk from the bus station to the village. It used to take 30 minutes. Now it takes at least two hours because so many people come to talk to me. The same people who used to believe that educating girls was pointless are starting to want the same for their daughters. If I can make female education popular in my village, then I can do it for the whole of Bangladesh.”

    The garment factory workers’ university fees are covered by charitable donations, but the AUW requires factory owners to continue to pay wages while the women study. Their families rely on the income and would not let them attend otherwise. Mowmita Basak, one of the AUW’s first graduates, was given the task of convincing factory owners to agree to these terms and send their employees. She recently returned to her native Bangladesh, having completed a master’s degree at the UK’s University of Bradford.

    “I didn’t get a very positive response at first,” says Basak. But her impassioned argument that this was a golden opportunity for them to support their workforce and improve their reputation, countering the storm of negative publicity triggered by the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013, and the widespread perception of garment factories as sweatshops, won out. Five owners signed up.

    “Next, I visited factories and gave presentations to the workers,” says Basak. “Only girls who had completed high school were eligible to apply, and the selection process was competitive.” Candidates took exams in mathematics, Bengali and English, and those who passed were interviewed.

    Of 653 applicants, 22 were offered a place in the first intake this year. […]

  141. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Can I just say fuck this country and its stupid fucking regressive drug laws (in some states, at least). Is it really such a crime for a college freshman to get caught smoking a joint?

  142. says

    What a Maroon @ 196:

    Can I just say fuck this country and its stupid fucking regressive drug laws (in some states, at least).

    Sure, I’ll join you. Fuck this country and its stupid fucking regressive drug laws and the even stupider fucking “war” on drugs.

    Is it really such a crime for a college freshman to get caught smoking a joint?

    :Snort: No. No, it isn’t any crime whatsoever. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

    I’ve been thinking about this lately, because I’ll be at the pain clinic this week for a spinal shot, and scrip renewal. Thing is, I can’t just go get my shot and scrips. I have to ‘interview’ first, then go piss in a cup for a drug test, because you can’t have people doing something to actually alleviate pain, no, that would be bad. So yes, fuck ’em all.

  143. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    That sucks, Caine, far more than the mess our daughter landed in. She’ll get through it, as long as she remembers to go to the silly classes they sentenced her to.

    Hope things change for your sake.

  144. purrs says

    There was a Sumerian deity, Nanshe (also Nance or Nazi), who was among other things the goddess of social justice. Helping orphans and widows, advising those in debt, protecting refugees, making things fair…
    Granted, deities of any form are eh. But it would have at least been harder to use her as justification for screwing over the disadvantaged.

  145. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Arctic ice cap at all time record low for wintertime.

    The growth of Arctic sea ice this winter peaked at the lowest maximum level on record, thanks to extraordinarily warm temperatures, federal scientists said Monday.
    The National Snow and Ice Data Center says ice covered a maximum of 5.607 million square miles of the Arctic Ocean in 2016. That’s 5,000 square miles less than the old record set in 2015 — a difference slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut.
    It’s also some 431,000 miles less than the 30-year average. That difference is the size of Texas and California combined.
    Records go back to 1979 when satellites started measuring sea ice, which forms when Arctic Ocean water freezes.
    This year’s ice didn’t break the record by much, but it’s “an exclamation point” on a longer-term trend, said NASA scientist Walt Meier, who helped calculate the data.
    The sub-par showing doesn’t necessarily mean that the minimum extent this summer will also break a record, scientists said. The summer minimum is more important for affecting Earth’s climate and weather.

    Bad news for the AGW denialists.

  146. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Bad news for the AGW denialists.

    And many other living beings.

  147. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A couple more items.
    The age of the human Hobbits has been revised.

    It was a spectacular discovery: Fossil remains in an Indonesian cave revealed a recent relative of modern humans that stood about 3 feet tall. The creatures were quickly nicknamed “hobbits.”
    With evidence that they had survived to just 12,000 years ago, the hobbits appeared to have been the last of our companions on the human branch of the evolutionary tree to go extinct.
    Now, a decade after they made headlines, they’ve lost that distinction. New investigations indicate they evidently disappeared much earlier — about 50,000 years ago, before Neanderthals did, for example…
    The hobbits are formally known as Homo floresiensis, reflecting their home on the Indonesian island of Flores. With small, chimp-sized brains, the hobbits had skulls that resembled Homo erectus, which lived in Africa and Asia. But they also had long arms and short legs that harkened back to the much older evolutionary forerunners best known for the skeleton dubbed Lucy.
    It’s not clear where they fit in the human family tree. They may have descended from taller ancestors who shrank because of their isolation on the island. Some scientists have argued they were diseased modern humans rather than a separate species, but experts called that a minority view and several said the new dates make it less likely.
    Hobbits evidently made the stone tools that were found along with skeletal remains in the Liang Bua cave. The new analysis says the remains are 100,000 to 60,000 years old, while the artifacts range in age from about 190,000 to 50,000 years.

    The second is relabeling of an abortion drug mifepristone, which negates some state laws banning its use in abortions as “off label”.

    A federal agency approved a new label for a common abortion-inducing drug that will undermine restrictions on medication abortions passed by several states, allowing women to take the drug later in a pregnancy and with fewer required office visits.
    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified the manufacturer of the drug Mifeprex in a letter on Tuesday that the drug is safe and effective for terminating a pregnancy in accordance with the new label. Also known as mifepristone, the drug is used in combination with another drug, misoprostol, to end a pregnancy.
    While abortion providers in most states already are using the protocol outlined in the new label, laws in effect in Ohio, North Dakota and Texas prohibited “off-label” uses of the drug and mandated abortion providers adhere to the older protocol approved in 2000. Similar laws in Arizona, Arkansas and Oklahoma have been on hold pending legal challenges.
    Under the new label, a smaller dose of mifepristone can be used up to 70 days after the beginning of the last menstrual period instead of the 49-day limit in effect under the old label. Also, the second drug can be taken by a woman at home and not be required to be administered at a clinic.
    “The FDA’s approval of a label reflecting a more updated, evidence-based protocol for medication abortion has the potential to expand women’s options for safely ending a pregnancy in the earliest weeks,” said Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “This label change underscores just how medically unnecessary and politically motivated restrictions on medication abortion in states like Texas and Oklahoma truly are, and demonstrates the lengths politicians will go to single out reproductive health care to restrict women’s rights.”

  148. blf says

    Good vaccination news, Pakistan and Afghanistan join forces to wipe out polio (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Islamic scholars have been countering the Taliban’s anti-vaccine campaign, accompanying health workers to urge parents to inoculate their children

    Pakistan and Afghanistan, the two remaining countries where polio is endemic, have joined forces to eradicate polio by vaccinating their children in synchronised campaigns.

    The countries […] have been bracketed as the major stumbling block in the drive for the global eradication of polio. These countries have been tackling the Taliban’s opposition to the administration of oral polio vaccine (OPV) to children.

    Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), along with the adjacent Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), as well as the adjoining Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, have been declared a polio-endemic geographical block by the World Health Organisation.

    “We have started synchronised immunisation campaigns in KP, Fata and Afghanistan with a view to ensure vaccination of all children on both sides of the border,” said KP’s health minister, Shahram Tarakai.

    “There are about 100,000 children {whose parents} refuse vaccination on both sides of the border. They pose a threat to the polio eradication campaign. Each child should get vaccinated,” he said.

    The government has enlisted the support of Islamic scholars to combat refusals against OPV, said KP’s top polio officer, Dr Ayub Roz.


    Maulana Samiul Haq, chief of Pakistan’s Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Haqqani in Akora Khattak, has been given the task of countering the Taliban’s anti-vaccine campaign. He said the scholars have been engaged to accompany health workers and urge parents that OPV is important for their kids to safeguard them against disabilities.

    “It is the responsibility of the parents to protect their children against diseases and provide them with safe and healthy environments. We have convinced 10,000 parents since January on vaccination of their children,” he said.


    The KP police chief, Nasir Khan Durrani, said they have been deploying more than 10,000 policemen for the security of health workers.

    “Militants have killed 70 health workers during the polio campaign from 2012 to 2015 but there {have been} no such incidents in 2016,” he said.

    A [polio] case in February in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, bordering Fata and KP, has triggered alarm bells, prompting both countries to speed up the immunisation drive in border areas.

    More than 60 polio cases reported last year were in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Peshawar registered 10 polio cases of KP’s total 18 in 2015 mainly because of free and unchecked movements of children from Afghanistan and Fata. Two of these cases had links to the virus in Afghanistan.

    Dr Ikhtiar Ali, Fata’s polio officer, said synchronised campaigns that began in Pakistan and Afghanistan in January have paid off: as of 16 March, the number of cases in Pakistan were six, and in Afghanistan one. The focus is on strengthening border vaccination, with 14 vaccination points set up on the border.

  149. says

    Quite the accident close to where I live this morning. An idiot crashed his minivan into an apartment building at the T intersection of Saskatoon’s 14th Street and Acadia Drive. Somehow he managed to run away from the accident, and made it to the nearby The Centre shopping mall before being caught by mall security. That’s not the first time that building has been hit.

  150. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    For those space flight fans, SpaceX just successfully launched the Falcon9 carrying a Dragon capsule to the ISS. As a side bar, they successfully landed the booster on their drone ship downrange.
    Video here, low res only at the time of this post.

  151. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My link in #209 is to the full webcast (HD now up), but those who only want to see the landing, there is a short video here.

  152. blf says

    Melting ice sheets changing the way the Earth wobbles on its axis, says Nasa:

    ‘Dramatic’ shift in polar motion attributed to effects of global warming and the impact humans are having on the planet
    Melting ice sheets, especially in Greenland, are changing the distribution of weight on Earth. And that has caused both the North Pole and the wobble, which is called polar motion, to change course, according to a study published on Friday in the journal Science Advances.

    Scientists and navigators have been accurately measuring the true pole and polar motion since 1899, and for almost the entire 20th century they migrated a bit toward Canada. But that has changed with this century, and now it’s moving toward England [sic — the report gets this right and says “British Isles” –blf], according to study lead author Surendra Adhikari at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab.

    “The recent shift from the 20th-century direction is very dramatic,” Adhikari said.


    Since 2003, Greenland has lost on average more than 272 trillion kilograms of ice a year, and that affects the way the Earth wobbles in a manner similar to a figure skater lifting one leg while spinning, said Nasa scientist Eirk Ivins, the study’s co-author.

    On top of that, West Antarctica loses 124 trillion kgs of ice and East Antarctica gains about 74 trillion kgs of ice yearly, helping tilt the wobble further, Ivins said.

    They all combine to pull polar motion toward the east, Adhikari said.

    Jianli Chen, a senior research scientist at the University of Texas’ Center for Space Research, first attributed the pole shift to climate change in 2013, and he said this new study takes his work a step further.

    “There is nothing to worry about,” said Chen, who wasn’t part of the Nasa study. “It is just another interesting effect of climate change.”

    The readers’s comments section seems full of AGW deniers completely misinterpreting Dr Chen’s “There is nothing to worry about” remark, plus some similar statements omitted from the above excerpt.

  153. blf says

    Nasa re-establishes solid contact with Kepler spacecraft:

    Probe unexpectedly entered emergency mode last week but scientists now hope next phase of mission will go ahead
    The planet-hunting [Kepler] observatory unexpectedly entered “emergency mode” last week, days before it was due to begin a new phase of its hunt for Earth-like planets.


    The Kepler observatory was launched in March 2009 and completed its primary mission objectives in 2012 after detecting nearly 5,000 exo-planets. Its discoveries include a Tatooine-like planet with two suns (Kepler 16b), a so-called Styrofoam planet one-tenth the density of Jupiter and the first confirmation of a rocky planet outside our solar system. Last year Kepler scientists announced the discovery of the Earth’s “closest twin” beyond the solar system.

    In recent years the mission has been blighted by mechanical problems, including failure of two of the craft’s four guiding wheels that control the direction in which the orbiting observatory faces. [reaction wheels –blf]

    […] Nasa repurposed the craft in a mission called K2, which is searching for planets and making observations linked to supernovae, the formation of stars, asteroids and comets. To get around the steering issue, the craft is held steady using the pressure of radiation from sunlight.

    The latest planet survey, which was to have run from 7 April to 1 July, required the spacecraft to be re-oriented, but when mission scientists attempted to initiate the manoeuvre on Thursday they found that the craft had been in its “lowest operational mode” for the previous 36 hours.


    If Nasa succeeds in recovering the spacecraft, the Kepler mission could run for a further two years, at which point it is likely to run out of fuel.

  154. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Twilight Zone addendum to #209-211.
    Truthers have found SpaceX. They don’t launch or land rockets. A few choice unsupported assertions:

    SpaceX video is too pixelated to be real….
    When this supposed rocket landed it left no charring on the ground, this space x company is marketing bullshit, fake it all, shit they could have drooped this pos rocket from above from a tether, no one can verify because on lookers are too far away to get decent footage…
    SpaceX launch was footage that was reversed…
    NatureHacker is the most complete SpaceX truther out there in that he has many many theories about what is going on here. He suggests that rockets “don’t work in space,” says that all SpaceX videos are faked, suggests the footage is reversed, and has theories for why SpaceX is faking the landing with the help of NASA…
    SpaceX faked this video but didn’t fake the failed ones. This was video of a rocket launch, reversed…
    SpaceX employees are paid actors, everything about the company is a fake…
    SpaceX does not have real rockets but has a lot of video editors who edit video in real time to fake “live” launches. Meanwhile, these editors forgot to edit out a flat horizon in the “live” video, therefore proving Earth is flat.

  155. blf says

    Sq-sq-sq-squ-squee-sq-squeak! Stuttering mouse experiment sheds light on common human speech disorder:

    Genetic mutation given to squeaky rodents found halting patterns in early life squeaks, investigating causes of the human stammer

    The closest thing to a stuttering mouse has been created by scientists who gave rodents a genetic mutation that causes the speech disorder in humans.

    Mouse pups recorded in the first week of life squeaked with more pauses and displayed more repetitive, halting patterns in the noises they produced when they carried the mutation.

    But the mutated mice had no other obvious language problems and squeaked out the same rich repertoire of ultrasonic syllables — defined by abrupt changes in pitch — as normal mice.

    Researchers at Washington University in St Louis worked on the mice to see whether some of the characteristics of human stuttering, or stammering, can be reproduced in rodents. The research aims to help scientists unpick the biological pathways that underpin stammering, and give them a ready way to test drugs and other potential treatments.


    [In c.2010], a team led by Dennis Drayna at the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders in Maryland, found mutations in a gene called Gnptab that appeared to cause stuttering in some people. The discovery was a surprise, because the gene is only considered important for general housekeeping duties, such as digesting waste inside the bodies’ cells.

    To find out whether rodents can be made to stutter, or at least display some aspects of the condition, Barnes, Drayna and other colleagues created mice that carried the Gnptab mutations. They then recorded the noises the mice made until they were eight days old. Mouse pups make spontaneous sounds when they are taken from their mothers, but also when they are in pain, meet another mouse, or want to attract a mate.

    Each recording session lasted 3.5 minutes. The mutated mice produced nearly a third fewer sounds, with longer pauses between the noises they made. Within bouts of vocal activity, the mutated mice squeaked out more single syllables than their natural littermates. The pauses are similar to the hesitations that can break up the smooth flow of speech in people who stutter, while the repetition of syllables also mirrors human stammering.


  156. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A non-serious item. A wedding in New Zealand had a pastafarian theme.

    AKAROA, New Zealand (AP) — The wedding rings were made of pasta, the ceremony was held on a pirate boat, and when it came time for the kiss, the bride and groom slurped up either end of a noodle until their lips met.
    New Zealand on Saturday hosted the world’s first Pastafarian wedding, conducted by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The group, which began in the U.S. as a protest against religion encroaching into public schools, has gained legitimacy in New Zealand, where authorities recently decided it can officiate weddings.
    Saturday’s ceremony was all about having fun. The guests came dressed as pirates and shouted plenty of hearty “Aaarrrhs.” The groom, Toby Ricketts, vowed to always add salt before boiling his pasta, while bride Marianna Fenn donned a colander on her head.
    The church claims that global warming is caused by pirates vanishing from the high seas, and that there is a beer volcano in heaven.
    “The Flying Spaghetti Monster created the world. We know that,” said marriage celebrant Karen Martyn, aka the Ministeroni. “We weren’t around then and we didn’t see it, but no other religion was around to see it either, and our deity is as plausible as any other.”

    I’ll toss some grated Parmesan their way.

  157. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Poll showing women and youth are leading the way on transgender issues.

    Transgender Americans may find greater acceptance in the future, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll that shows young adults and women more open to people using public bathrooms matching their gender identity.
    The issue is polarizing much of the United States, notably in North Carolina, where big businesses and rock stars are boycotting the state over a new law requiring people to use the public restroom matching their birth certificate.
    Americans aged 18 to 29 favor letting transgender people use the restroom of their identity by a 2-to-1 ratio. Among Americans aged 60 or more, the ratio was 2-to-1 in reverse with people saying restroom use should be mandated by the gender on one’s birth certificate.
    Forty-four percent of women favor letting a man who is in transition from male to female into their public toilets, compared to 39 percent who say they must use the facilities matching their gender assigned at birth.