Thursday, November 28, 2013
Saturday, November 23, 2013
I am for a Single Payer, medicare for all system… But this is a good report.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
from Truth Seeker Daily
The MDI AIRpod is a concept vehicle designed to run solely on compressed air as means of transportation, though no working models had been released to the press. Using hydrogen compression technology, this one could be a game changer.. - See more at: http://truthseekerdaily.com/2013/11/car-that-runs-on-air-wvideo/#sthash.1IKP2URe.dpuf
MDI estimates that the AIRpod would cost around just a penny-per-mile to operate, and it has already begun leasing them for trial to Air France and KLM airlines as people and cargo movers. Further, the $8,340 starting price could be halved by the time tax and green-car incentives are taken into account, making it quite cost effective. There are plans for the AIRpod to begin testing over here in the U.S. as well, though when and where, I don’t know.
Cool stuff, and We certainly hope to hear more about it in the coming months.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Data from Kepler space observatory suggests planets capable of supporting life are far more common than previously thought
from The Guardian
One in five sun-like stars may host planets in their habitable zone where liquid water could sustain life. Illustration: Reuters
from The Guardian
One in five sun-like stars may host planets in their habitable zone where liquid water could sustain life. Illustration: Reuters
Our galaxy probably contains at least two billion planets that, like Earth, have liquid water on their surfaces and orbit around their parent stars in the "habitable zone" for life. The nearest, according to astronomers, could be a mere 12 light years away.
A new study, published on Monday [November 4th] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that Earth-like planets capable of supporting life are far more common than previously thought. Using measurements from Nasa's Kepler space observatory, scientists led by Erik Petigura at the University of California, Berkeley, estimated that 22% of our galaxy's sun-like stars have rocky planets circling them in the zone where they get roughly the same amount of light energy as Earth receives from the sun. There are around 100bn stars in our galaxy, of which 10% are like the sun.
So far Kepler has studied more than 150,000 stars and identified more than 3,000 candidate planets, but many of these are "gas giants", similar to Jupiter, that orbit close to their parent stars. If there is life out there, it is far more likely to have evolved on rocky planets with liquid water on their surfaces, similar to Earth.
To get their results, Petigura's team looked for planets in Kepler data that had a radius up to double that of Earth. They searched for planets that orbited far enough from their star that liquid water would not evaporate, but not so far that the water would all freeze.
Subhanjoy Mohanty, an astrophysicist at Imperial College London who was not involved with the study, said: "This is the first estimate of the frequency of Earth-like planets around sun-like stars, in orbits large enough to lie in the habitable zone of their stars. The finding that roughly one in five sun-like stars may host such planets is an incredibly important one, probably exceeding the expectations of most cautious astronomers."
He added that the latest analysis increased the chances that there might be life somewhere among the stars. "Previous analyses of Kepler data had shown that red dwarfs – the most common type of star in the galaxy, making up about 80% of the stellar population – very frequently harbour Earth-size planets, including in their habitable zones. This new study shows that the same is true around stars more like our own sun. This is certainly an added impetus for planned future missions which will study the atmospheres of these potentially habitable planets, enabling us to investigate whether they are in fact habitable or not, and also whether their atmospheres show actual biosignatures of existing life."
Nasa also announced on Monday that the Kepler probe would be given a new lease of life, following fears that it would have to end its mission after only four years in space. In May 2013, scientists discovered that one of the gyroscopic wheels – known as "reaction wheels" – that kept the probe pointing in the right direction had stopped working and, try as they might, Nasa engineers could not restart it. Unable to point itself at the stars with any accuracy, the probe could no longer be used to collect data about the position of new exoplanets.
But it looks as though there could be a solution that involves reorienting the probe to look along the plane of the galaxy, which will allow it to remain stable with only two of its reaction wheels working. "The old saying 'necessity is the mother of invention' has rung true here, with engineers and scientists from Nasa and the spacecraft manufacturers having figured out this way to – we hope – recover much of the performance we thought we had lost. We are very excited," said Bill Chaplin, an astrophysicist at the University of Birmingham in the UK.
If all goes well, the new Kepler mission – dubbed "K2" – will look for planets around smaller stars than the sun, and will also study the stars themselves. "There are a wealth of fantastically interesting targets for astrophysics that can be observed in the ecliptic plane, which were not accessible in the original Kepler field, notably brighter clusters of stars – where the common origins and distances to these stars make the clusters excellent laboratories for testing our understanding of stars – and young, star-forming regions," said Chaplin.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
from Jet Propulsion Laboratory NASA
On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA's Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn's shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings -- and, in the background, our home planet, Earth.
With the sun's powerful and potentially damaging rays eclipsed by Saturn itself, Cassini's onboard cameras were able to take advantage of this unique viewing geometry. They acquired a panoramic mosaic of the Saturn system that allows scientists to see details in the rings and throughout the system as they are backlit by the sun. This mosaic is special as it marks the third time our home planet was imaged from the outer solar system; the second time it was imaged by Cassini from Saturn's orbit; and the first time ever that inhabitants of Earth were made aware in advance that their photo would be taken from such a great distance.
With both Cassini's wide-angle and narrow-angle cameras aimed at Saturn, Cassini was able to capture 323 images in just over four hours. This final mosaic uses 141 of those wide-angle images. Images taken using the red, green and blue spectral filters of the wide-angle camera were combined and mosaicked together to create this natural-color view. A brightened version with contrast and color enhanced (Figure 1), a version with just the planets annotated (Figure 2), and an annotated version (Figure 3) are shown above.
This image spans about 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across.
CLICK TO ENLARGE!
The outermost ring shown here is Saturn's E ring, the core of which is situated about 149,000 miles (240,000 kilometers) from Saturn. The geysers erupting from the south polar terrain of the moon Enceladus supply the fine icy particles that comprise the E ring; diffraction by sunlight gives the ring its blue color. Enceladus (313 miles, or 504 kilometers, across) and the extended plume formed by its jets are visible, embedded in the E ring on the left side of the mosaic.
At the 12 o'clock position and a bit inward from the E ring lies the barely discernible ring created by the tiny, Cassini-discovered moon, Pallene (3 miles, or 4 kilometers, across). (For more on structures like Pallene's ring, see PIA08328). The next narrow and easily seen ring inward is the G ring. Interior to the G ring, near the 11 o'clock position, one can barely see the more diffuse ring created by the co-orbital moons, Janus (111 miles, or 179 kilometers, across) and Epimetheus (70 miles, or 113 kilometers, across). Farther inward, we see the very bright F ring closely encircling the main rings of Saturn.
Following the outermost E ring counter-clockwise from Enceladus, the moon Tethys (662 miles, or 1,066 kilometers, across) appears as a large yellow orb just outside of the E ring. Tethys is positioned on the illuminated side of Saturn; its icy surface is shining brightly from yellow sunlight reflected by Saturn. Continuing to about the 2 o'clock position is a dark pixel just outside of the G ring; this dark pixel is Saturn's Death Star moon, Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers, across). Mimas appears, upon close inspection, as a very thin crescent because Cassini is looking mostly at its non-illuminated face.
The moons Prometheus, Pandora, Janus and Epimetheus are also visible in the mosaic near Saturn's bright narrow F ring. Prometheus (53 miles, or 86 kilometers, across) is visible as a faint black dot just inside the F ring and at the 9 o'clock position. On the opposite side of the rings, just outside the F ring, Pandora (50 miles, or 81 kilometers, across) can be seen as a bright white dot. Pandora and Prometheus are shepherd moons and gravitational interactions between the ring and the moons keep the F ring narrowly confined. At the 11 o'clock position in between the F ring and the G ring, Janus (111 miles, or 179 kilometers, across) appears as a faint black dot. Janus and Prometheus are dark for the same reason Mimas is mostly dark: we are looking at their non-illuminated sides in this mosaic. Midway between the F ring and the G ring, at about the 8 o'clock position, is a single bright pixel, Epimetheus. Looking more closely at Enceladus, Mimas and Tethys, especially in the brightened version of the mosaic, one can see these moons casting shadows through the E ring like a telephone pole might cast a shadow through a fog.
In the non-brightened version of the mosaic, one can see bright clumps of ring material orbiting within the Encke gap near the outer edge of the main rings and immediately to the lower left of the globe of Saturn. Also, in the dark B ring within the main rings, at the 9 o'clock position, one can see the faint outlines of two spoke features, first sighted by NASA's Voyager spacecraft in the early 1980s and extensively studied by Cassini.
Finally, in the lower right of the mosaic, in between the bright blue E ring and the faint but defined G ring, is the pale blue dot of our planet, Earth. Look closely and you can see the moon protruding from the Earth's lower right. (For a higher resolution view of the Earth and moon taken during this campaign, see PIA14949.) Earth's twin, Venus, appears as a bright white dot in the upper left quadrant of the mosaic, also between the G and E rings. Mars also appears as a faint red dot embedded in the outer edge of the E ring, above and to the left of Venus.
For ease of visibility, Earth, Venus, Mars, Enceladus, Epimetheus and Pandora were all brightened by a factor of eight and a half relative to Saturn. Tethys was brightened by a factor of four. In total, 809 background stars are visible and were brightened by a factor ranging from six, for the brightest stars, to 16, for the faintest. The faint outer rings (from the G ring to the E ring) were also brightened relative to the already bright main rings by factors ranging from two to eight, with the lower-phase-angle (and therefore fainter) regions of these rings brightened the most. The brightened version of the mosaic was further brightened and contrast-enhanced all over to accommodate print applications and a wide range of computer-screen viewing conditions.
Some ring features -- such as full rings traced out by tiny moons -- do not appear in this version of the mosaic because they require extreme computer enhancement, which would adversely affect the rest of the mosaic. This version was processed for balance and beauty.
This view looks toward the unlit side of the rings from about 17 degrees below the ring plane. Cassini was approximately 746,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Saturn when the images in this mosaic were taken. Image scale on Saturn is about 45 miles (72 kilometers) per pixel.
This mosaic was made from pictures taken over a span of more than four hours while the planets, moons and stars were all moving relative to Cassini. Thus, due to spacecraft motion, these objects in the locations shown here were not in these specific places over the entire duration of the imaging campaign. Note also that Venus appears far from Earth, as does Mars, because they were on the opposite side of the sun from Earth.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.
Thanks, Boing Boing
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Saturday, November 16, 2013
here's fifteen minutes from the show I attended back in September… look closely and you can probably spot me on stage acting a fool :-) taking some photos like these two below as well. That was a great evening
from Dangerous Minds
from Dangerous Minds
When you rip away the white noise of controversy over the competing Black Flag reunions what you’re left with is the music and in this case Flag, featuring Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Bill Stevenson, Stephen Egerton and Chuck Dukowski deliver a mighty roar that, with or without a name, is farking awesome. Punk rock’s midlife crisis is an amazing thing to behold.
Here’s 15 minutes of Flag performing at New York City’s Irving Plaza a couple of months ago.
Friday, November 15, 2013
from Boing Boing
Mike sez, "In Mother Jones, Will Potter profiles Ryan Shapiro, a punk rocker-turned-PhD student who wanted to study how the FBI monitors animal-rights activists. Through trial and error, and a lot of digging, he devised a perfectly legal, highly effective strategy to unearth sensitive documents from the bureau's 'byzantine' filing system.dig the Dischord T-shirt!
In short, he got too smart for the feds, so they've cut him off. Now Shapiro has sued the FBI to release some 350,000 documents he's requested under FOIA. If the court buys the FBI's argument here, open-government groups say it could make it harder for scholars and journalists to keep tabs on federal agencies. Potter explains:"Evoking a legal strategy that had its heyday during the Bush administration, the FBI claims that Shapiro's multitudinous requests, taken together, constitute a "mosaic" of information whose release could "significantly and irreparably damage national security" and would have "significant deleterious effects" on the bureau's "ongoing efforts to investigate and combat domestic terrorism."Meet the Punk Rocker Who Can Liberate Your FBI File (Thanks, Mike!)
So-called mosaic theory has been used in the past to stop the release of specific documents, but it has never been applied so broadly. "It's designed to be retrospective," explains Kel McClanahan, a DC-based lawyer who specializes in national security and FOIAlaw. "You can't say, 'What information, if combined with future information, could paint a mosaic?' because that would include all information!"
(Photo: Stephanie Crumley)
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
One reason sleep is so important: It's the time when your brain "cleans house", collecting and disposing of the waste products that build up in your head during the day.
Thanks Boing Boing
or humans, sleep is an absolute requirement for survival, almost on par with food and water. When we don’t get it, we not only feel terrible, but our cognitive abilities go downhill, and in extreme cases sleeplessness can lead to seizures and contribute to death. And while we share with many other animals this intense commitment to spending much of our lives unconscious, we don’t really know why we do it. A paper published in Science last month suggests that the answer may lie in part with a recently discovered plumbing system that drains waste from the brain. Scientists essentially found that the brain likes to wait till sleep comes before taking out the garbage.
The study follows up on the discovery last year by the same team, based at University of Rochester, that the brain’s waste is removed by a network of channels that run alongside blood vessels. The channels work like the lymphatic system that operates in the rest of the body, collecting and draining what isn’t needed, but they are made of brain cells called glia, instead of the membrane cells that form lymphatic vessels. The channels were effectively invisible to biologists until the development of methods to watch a living brain under the microscope—mouse brains, in these experiments. The discovery of these channels suggested that diseases like Alzheimer’s, in which waste products build up in the brain, might be linked to problems with drainage.
The team wondered whether this system of channels, whose constant pumping action requires a lot of energy, might be responsible for the observation that the sleeping brain uses as much as energy as a wakeful one. To see how the volume of cleaning fluid circulating in the brain changed during sleep, they injected fluorescent molecules into the brains of mice and watched them circulate through waking, sleeping, and anesthetized animals. They even got to see how the flow changed in real-time, as mice emerged from sleep, by gently touching their tails to wake them up.
Remarkably, unconsciousness had a dramatic effect on how much fluid swept through the brain. The sleeping and the anesthetized mice had a 60% increase in the volume of fluid, apparently because brain cells actually shrink to allow more space in the channels. When the researchers woke the mice up, the flow of fluid into the brain abruptly slowed. Further, when the group watched for the removal of beta amyloid, the waste product that gums up the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, they found it left twice as fast in the brains of sleeping mice. The results indicate that the drainage system is particularly active during sleep.
Though things might work differently in human brains, and this waste-management system is not yet well studied, these findings give a tantalizing glimpse of one possible explanation for why sleep is so restorative. Maybe the fresh, new feeling we have when we awake really is a kind of cleanliness, as the byproducts of the previous day’s cogitations have been washed away.
Thanks Boing Boing
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee Has Abolished $13.5 Million in Medical Debt, Owned by 2,693 People, in 45 States & Puerto Rico
via The Sparrow Project
Strike Debt, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, announced this morning that since the launch of the group’s Rolling Jubilee effort one year ago, it has abolished $13.5 million worth of medical debt owed by 2,693 people across 45 states and in Puerto Rico. This is the third announcement by Strike Debt in the last year which to date has abolished over $14.7 million dollars of medical bills through its Rolling Jubilee project.
The Rolling Jubilee campaign relieves debtors (by buying debt for pennies on the dollar) while building a debt resistance movement. This project highlights the injustice of having to go into debt for basic needs that should be publicly provided, like education and healthcare. “We have been honored to facilitate this effort but understand Rolling Jubilee is a spark, not a solution” said Andrew Ross, a fellow Strike Debt organizer. “Being forced into debt for basic social services is a systemic problem that will require a collective response.”“No one should have to go into debt or bankruptcy because they get sick,” said Laura Hanna, an organizer with Strike Debt, noting that 62% of all personal bankruptcies have medical debt as a contributing factor.
“Debt is the tie that binds the 99 percent,” says Strike Debt member Ann Larson. “Whether you are a student who is delinquent on your student loans, a parent struggling to pay healthcare bills, or living in a community that is cutting vital social services because your city is bankrupt, debt affects everyone.”
Strike Debt chapters in New York, the Bay Area, Austin, Portland and elsewhere are planning celebrations and debtors’ assemblies on Nov 15th.
Strike Debt is working towards building a new kind of collective power in order to challenge exploitation by the financial industry. “Debt is the way we cooperate with Wall Street,” said Thomas Gokey an organizer with Strike Debt, “With the Rolling Jubilee, we’ve demonstrated how little your debts are actually worth. Now that you know this, it’s time to use it as leverage. It’s time to fight back. The Rolling Jubilee needs to roll into larger forms of resistance and outright non-cooperation with Wall Street’s unjust debts.” Looking forward, Strike Debt is laying the groundwork for a debtors’ union capable of collective debt refusal.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader questions the national security aspect of having nuclear power plants. Watch how nuclear energy supporter Michael Shellenberger, who was featured in the film, Pandora's Promise, responds.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
They may have been ahead of their time in some ways, no doubt…. But production like this made sure it was doomed to fail. This program never actually made it past the test stages. How sad it was… Could have been real, that's how it goes sometimes…
Saturday, November 9, 2013
THE GHOSTS IN OUR MACHINE illuminates the lives of individual animals living within and rescued from the machine of our modern world. Through the heart and lens of acclaimed animal photographer Jo-Anne McArthur we become intimately familiar with a cast of animal subjects. Each story and photograph is a window into global animal industries: Food, Fashion, Entertainment and Research. All part of an epic photo project called We Animals, McArthur has documented the lives of animals around the world with heart-breaking empathic vividness. THE GHOSTS IN OUR MACHINE charts McArthur’s efforts to bring wider attention to a topic that most of humankind strives hard to avoid. Are non-human animals property to be owned and used, or are they sentient beings deserving of rights?
With the exception of our companion animals and a few wild and stray species within our urban environments, we experience animals daily as the food, clothing, animal tested goods and entertainment we make of them.U.S. SCREENINGS and Events
This moral dilemma is often hidden from our view.
Thanks Sparrow Media
Friday, November 8, 2013
from our friend Xeni at Boing Boing
Dennis Overbye, in the New York Times: "Astronomers reported that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable Earth-size planets in the galaxy, based on a new analysis of data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft."
Thursday, November 7, 2013
"The Uukhai Documentary," dir. Odmandakh Bataa]
THE UUKHAI DOCUMENTARY travels time to bring you the past, present and future of skateboarding in Mongolia. As it is a brand new sport and lifestyle, success is inevitable. Original and local skaters of the city of Ulaanbaatar, explain their perceptions of skateboarding on how it changed their lives and what it could do for the young guns to come follow in their footsteps. Step into their lives and get a firsthand look of what it takes to be an upcoming skateboarder in the dusty, rugged and cold streets of the historic country that is Mongolia.thanks to Boing Boing check out the original story for more information.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
UPDATED WATCH ENTIRE PROGRAM HERE NOW!
CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS - SHOWING NOW!
Hear My Train A Comin’ unveils previously unseen performance footage and home movies taken by Hendrix and drummer Mitch Mitchell while sourcing an extensive archive of photographs, drawings, family letters and more to provide new insight into the musician’s personality and genius.
A pioneering electric guitarist, Hendrix (Nov. 27, 1942 — Sept. 18, 1970) had only four years of mainstream exposure and recognition, but his influential music and riveting stage presence left an enduring legacy. Hear My Train A Comin’ traces the guitarist’s remarkable journey from his hardscrabble beginnings in Seattle, through his stint as a US Army paratrooper, unknown sideman to R&B stars such as Little Richard, Joey Dee and the Isley Brothers and his discovery and ultimate international stardom.
Presented as part of a year-long celebration around his 70th birthday year, the two-hour Hear My Train A Comin’ uses Hendrix’s own words to tell his story, illustrated through archival interviews and illuminated with commentary from family, well-known friends and musicians including Paul McCartney, band members Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, long-time sound engineer Eddie Kramer; Steve Winwood, Vernon Reid, Billy Gibbons, Dweezil Zappa and Dave Mason.
The film also features revealing glimpses into Jimi and his era from the three women closest to him: Linda Keith (the girlfriend who introduced Jimi to future manager Chas Chandler), Faye Pridgon (who befriended Hendrix in Harlem in the early 1960s) and Colette Mimram (one of the era’s most influential fashion trendsetters who provided inspiration for Hendrix’s signature look and created such memorable stage costumes as the beaded jacket Hendrix famously wore at Woodstock). The film details the meteoric rise of the Experience, the creation of his groundbreaking music, the building of Electric Lady Studios, his state-of-the-art recording facility in Greenwich Village and concludes with poignant footage from his final performance in Germany in September 1970, just 12 days before his death at age 27.
Among the previously unseen treasures in Hear My Train A Comin’ is recently uncovered film footage of Hendrix at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival. The first-ever major rock festival staged on the East Coast, the May 1968 Miami Pop Festival at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., was the first event promoted by Woodstock organizer Michael Lang and Ric O’Barry (dolphin trainer for Flipper TV series), who were inspired by the June 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, where Hendrix made his U.S. debut and famously set fire to his guitar.
Two-time Grammy-winning director Bob Smeaton, whose credits include Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child, Hendrix: Band of Gypsys, Hendrix 70: Live at Woodstock, Festival Express and The Beatles Anthology, shows a side of Hendrix less frequently explored in Hear My Train A Comin’. Smeaton explains, “Jimi loved two things: women and playing guitar and that’s what Linda, Faye and Colette all told us. These women shed a totally different light on him than the guys who saw him onstage.”
On the same day as the film’s premiere, Experience Hendrix LLC and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release the expanded home video edition of the American Masters documentary, with never-before-released special performance features, on DVD and Blu-ray.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
from The Atlantic
Since the beginning of this year, the levels of air pollution in Beijing have been dangerously high, with thick clouds of smog chasing people indoors, disrupting air travel, and affecting the health of millions. The past two weeks have been especially bad -- at one point the pollution level measured 40 times recommended safety levels. Authorities are taking short-term measures to combat the current crisis, shutting down some factories and limiting government auto usage. However, long-term solutions seem distant, as China's use of coal continues to rise, and the government remains slow to acknowledge and address the problems. * Starting with photo #2, a four-part set of these images is interactive, allowing you to click the photo and 'clear the air', viewing a difference over time. (31 Photos here)
Monday, November 4, 2013
from The New York Times
An isolated forest in the Chiew Larn reservoir. A Thai government project to supply hydroelectric power to the area transformed 150 forested hilltops into islands.
An isolated forest in the Chiew Larn reservoir. A Thai government project to supply hydroelectric power to the area transformed 150 forested hilltops into islands.
In 1987, the government of Thailand launched a huge, unplanned experiment. They built a dam across the Khlong Saeng river, creating a 60-square-mile reservoir. As the Chiew Larn reservoir rose, it drowned the river valley, transforming 150 forested hilltops into islands, each with its own isolated menagerie of wildlife.>>> check out Isolated Forrest MAP HERE
Conservation biologists have long known that fragmenting wilderness can put species at risk of extinction. But it’s been hard to gauge how long it takes for those species to disappear. Chiew Larn has given biologists the opportunity to measure the speed of mammal extinctions. “It’s a rare thing to come by in ecological studies,” said Luke Gibson, a biologist at the National University of Singapore.
Over two decades, Dr. Gibson and his colleagues have tracked the diversity of mammals on the islands. In Friday’s issue of the journal Science, they report that the extinctions have turned out to be distressingly fast.
“Our results should be a warning,” said Dr. Gibson. “This is the trend that the world is going in.”
Tropical forests are regularly cleared for logging, farming and cities. In most cases, the only original tree cover is reduced to isolated patches. Many of the original species of plants and animals may still survive in those fragments, but they experience new stresses. The edges of the fragments are no longer dim and humid, for example.
The small size of the surviving populations also creates problems. Over the course of a few generations, a small population can accumulate harmful mutations that make them less fertile or more vulnerable to diseases.
Scientists have hypothesized that many species will gradually decline in forest fragments until they become extinct. Reducing a vast carpet of jungle to isolated patches thus creates a so-called “extinction debt” that nature will sooner or later collect.
After the Khlong Saeng river was dammed, David Woodruff of the University of California at San Diego recognized that the islands in the reservoir would be good places to study how quickly nature calls in that debt. The islands were all formed at the same time, they were all isolated by water and they were surrounded by a vast forest preserve that was still brimming with biological diversity.
Between 1992 and 1994, Woodruff’s team visited a dozen islands, setting a 150-yard line of traps on each one. Each day for a week they visited the traps, tagged any mammals they found and released the animals. The researchers also set the same traps in the forests surrounding the reservoir.
Just five years after the dam was built, they could see a difference. Several species were more rare on the islands than on the mainland.
Dr. Gibson returned to the same 12 islands in 2012 and repeated the survey. He started on a 25-acre island. The first survey had found seven species of mammals. Dr. Gibson spent a week checking traps on the island and found only a single species: the Malayan field rat.
This was a startling find for two reasons. One was the drastic crash in diversity. The other was that the Malayan field rat wasn’t on the islands when they first formed. Malayan field rats thrive around villages and farms and other disturbed habitats. The rats Dr. Gibson trapped must have come from the surrounding rain forests, where they still remain scarce. When they swam to the islands, they found fragmented forests that they could dominate.
“I thought, ‘Wow, what if this trend holds?'” said Dr. Gibson. “And it did.”
On most of the islands, all the native species were gone, replaced by the rats. Only on a few islands did some species still cling to existence. Dr. Gibson surveyed an additional four islands and found they also had just one or two species, suggesting that all the islands were suffering massive extinctions in about 20 years.
“No one expected to see such rapid extinctions,” said Dr. Gibson.
Dr. Gibson suspects that the small size of the island forests makes them particularly vulnerable to invasion by the rats. The diversity of mammals he trapped in the mainland forests was the same as in the first surveys in the 1990s.
“This study confirms for mammals what we’ve long known for birds,” said Stuart L. Pimm, the president of Saving Species and a professor at Duke. In 2003, Dr. Pimm and his colleagues studied records of birds from forest fragments in the Amazon and found species going extinct at a comparable rate.
Dr. Pimm and Dr. Gibson agreed that the fast pace of extinction in forest fragments gives an urgency to conserving the large swaths of tropical forest that still remain. “Our study shows we may need to do that very quickly,” said Dr. Gibson.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
from Boing Boing
YouTube has been an existence-proof of forms of video that were lurking in potentia, unable to come into existence due to limitations of the distribution channel. The two-to-three-minute video has now been firmly established as a genre (with the six-second video hot on its heels), but there's plenty of room at the long end of the scale. Case in point: subculture of YouTubers who post full-length train journeys, hours and hours' worth -- and if that's not long-form enough, how about 134-hour sea crossings?
Given the modern vogue/panic about short-reads being mere "linkblogging" and the practice of spinning out a few hundred words into a "serious, long-form journalism" wheeze that is split across eight or more screens, this may just be the video form for our age (and please let it be a short one!).
I was thrilled to learn, via an excellent Metafilter post, about a small online subculture of resistence to the attention-frittering trend: the existence of scores of YouTube videos documenting entire train journeys, some many hours long, from the perspective of the driver in the cab. The video above is nine hours and 53 minutes long – it's available in spring, autumn and winter versions too – and while I won't claim to have watched it all, I've spent some pleasant work breaks in Brooklyn watching Scandinavian scenery go by. But perhaps you'd prefer Glasgow to Fort William and Mallaig in Scotland? It's every bit as rainswept – and bleakly beautiful, especially in its latter stages – as you'd imagine:Life too exciting? Enter the calming world of full-length train journey videos [Oliver Burkeman/The Guardian]
Saturday, November 2, 2013
from Scientific American
How a belief in “pure evil” shapes people’s thinking
By Piercarlo Valdesolo
Justice Antonin Scalia [scumbag] and Keyser Soze agree: the greatest trick the devil could ever pull is convincing the world he didn’t exist. Fortunately for them, the devil does not seem to be effectively executing this plan. Some 70 percent of Americans, according to a 2007 Gallup Poll, believe in his existence. This personification of evil has implications beyond the supernatural, influencing how we think about what it means for people to be “pure evil.” And as we prepare to playfully celebrate the wicked and depraved on Halloween night, it’s worth pausing to reflect on some of the psychological and behavioral consequences of these beliefs.
Evil has been defined as taking pleasure in the intentional inflicting of harm on innocent others, and ever since World War II social psychologists have been fascinated by the topic. Many of the formative thinkers in the field — Kurt Lewin, Stanley Milgram , Solomon Asch — were inspired by their experiences with, and observations of, what appeared to most people at the time to be the indisputable incarnation of pure evil. But what many saw as a clear demonstration of unredeemable and deep-seated malice, these researchers interpreted as more, in the words of Hannah Arendt, banal. From Milgram’s famous studies of obedience to Zimbardo’s prison study, psychologists have argued for the roots of evil actions in quite ordinary psychological causes. This grounding of evil in ordinary, as opposed to extraordinary, phenomena have led some to describe the notion of “pure evil” as a myth. A misguided understanding of human nature deriving both from specific socio-cultural traditions as well as a general tendency to understand others’ behavior as a product solely of their essence, their soul, as opposed to a more complicated combination of environmental and individual forces.
The issue of whether “pure evil” exists, however, is separate from what happens to our judgments and our behavior when we believe in its existence. It is this question to which several researchers have recently begun to turn. How can we measure people’s belief in pure evil (BPE) and what consequences does such a belief have on our responses to wrong-doers?
According to this research, one of the central features of BPE is evil’s perceived immutability. Evil people are born evil – they cannot change. Two judgments follow from this perspective: 1) evil people cannot be rehabilitated, and 2) the eradication of evil requires only the eradication of all the evil people. Following this logic, the researchers tested the hypothesis that there would be a relationship between BPE and the desire to aggress towards and punish wrong-doers.
Researchers have found support for this hypothesis across several papers containing multiple studies, and employing diverse methodologies. BPE predicts such effects as: harsher punishments for crimes (e.g. murder, assault, theft), stronger reported support for the death penalty, and decreased support for criminal rehabilitation. Follow-up studies corroborate these findings, showing that BPE also predicts the degree to which participants perceive the world to be dangerous and vile, the perceived need for preemptive military aggression to solve conflicts, and reported support for torture.
Regardless of whether the devil actually exists, belief in the power of human evil seems to have significant and important consequences for how we approach solving problems of real-world wrongdoing. When we see people’s antisocial behavior as the product of an enduring and powerful malice, we see few options beyond a comprehensive and immediate assault on the perpetrators. They cannot be helped, and any attempts to do so would be a waste of time and resources.
But if we accept the message from decades of social psychological research, that at least some instances of violence and malice are not the result of “pure evil” — that otherwise decent individuals can, under certain circumstances, be compelled to commit horrible acts, even atrocities — then the results of these studies serve as an important cautionary tale. The longer we cling to strong beliefs about the existence of pure evil, the more aggressive and antisocial we become. And we may be aggressing towards individuals who are, in fact, “redeemable.” Individuals who are not intrinsically and immutably motivated by the desire to intentionally cause harm to others. That may be the greatest trick the devil has ever pulled.
Friday, November 1, 2013
The Broadway Bomb brings together more than 2,500 longboard skaters each year in New York City to push eight miles through Manhattan, from West 116th Street to the Charging Bull in the Financial District. Since it’s inception in 2000, the NYPD has tried to hamper the event by hassling skaters, blocking roads, and even handing out tickets. This year the NYPD busted out the orange netting to try and corrall the skaters. They failed miserably. It was so bad that someone set the folly to the music from Benny Hill and it couldn’t be more appropriate.