Category Archives: Uncategorized

Headline of the day III: Coulrophobia in the U.S.A.


The creepy clown mania that’s swept from the U.S. to Europe [see our previous Headline of the day] has come home again.

And while Germany is officially banning creepy clown costumes, it’s parents who are doing in in the U.S.

From Deutsche Welle:

Are Trump and Clinton costumes too scary for Halloween?

The US presidential race and its unpopular candidates don’t just turn off a lot of voters. Even as Halloween costumes, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are unacceptable to many.

Heavens above!: The death of a distant sun-like star


Another glorious image from the Hubble Space Telescope from NASA:

This image of NGC 2440 shows the colourful "last hurrah" of a star like our Sun. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star's remaining core. Ultraviolet light from the dying star makes the material glow. The burned-out star, called a white dwarf, is the white dot in the centre.

This image of NGC 2440 shows the colourful “last hurrah” of a star like our Sun. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star’s remaining core. Ultraviolet light from the dying star makes the material glow. The burned-out star, called a white dwarf, is the white dot in the centre.

And the explanation:

This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the colorful “last hurrah” of a star like our sun. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star’s remaining core. Ultraviolet light from the dying star makes the material glow. The burned-out star, called a white dwarf, is the white dot in the center. Our sun will eventually burn out and shroud itself with stellar debris, but not for another 5 billion years.

Our Milky Way Galaxy is littered with these stellar relics, called planetary nebulae. The objects have nothing to do with planets. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century astronomers called them the name because through small telescopes they resembled the disks of the distant planets Uranus and Neptune. The planetary nebula in this image is called NGC 2440. The white dwarf at the center of NGC 2440 is one of the hottest known, with a surface temperature of more than 360,000 degrees Fahrenheit (200,000 degrees Celsius). The nebula’s chaotic structure suggests that the star shed its mass episodically. During each outburst, the star expelled material in a different direction. This can be seen in the two bowtie-shaped lobes. The nebula also is rich in clouds of dust, some of which form long, dark streaks pointing away from the star. NGC 2440 lies about 4,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Puppis.

The material expelled by the star glows with different colors depending on its composition, its density and how close it is to the hot central star. Blue samples helium; blue-green oxygen, and red nitrogen and hydrogen.

Credits: NASA, ESA, and K. Noll (STScI), Acknowledgment: The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Chart of the day: What Americans do/don’t recycle


From the Pew Research Center:

blog-recycle

World’s largest animals headed to extinction


A richness map of (a) the number of megafaunal species, (b) the number of declining megafauna species, and (c) the number of threatened megafaunal species in their native ranges. Megafauna are defined as terrestrial large carnivores (more than 15 kilograms) and large herbivores (more than 100 kilograms). Threatened includes all species categorized as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. From "    "." Saving the World's Terrestrial Megafauna."

A richness map of (a) the number of megafaunal species, (b) the number of declining megafauna species, and (c) the number of threatened megafaunal species in their native ranges. Megafauna are defined as terrestrial large carnivores (more than 15 kilograms) and large herbivores (more than 100 kilograms). Threatened includes all species categorized as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. From “Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna.”

Driven by fear of predators, the quest for valuable animal parts [many consumed by older men in Asia in search of restoring their erections, ad appetites for exotic foods, Homo sapiens is killing off his fellow large creatures.

And without immediate action, many and perhaps most of some of nature’s most magnificent creature will only survive as stuffed museum specimens.

That action, and the money to fund it, is needed now, declares a global coalition of life scientists.

From the University of California, Los Angeles:

Preventing the extinction of gorillas, rhinoceroses, elephants, lions, tigers, wolves, bears and the world’s other largest mammals will require bold political action and financial commitments from nations worldwide. In an article in the journal BioScience, 43 wildlife experts write [open access] that without immediate changes, many of the Earth’s most iconic species will be lost.

“The loss of these magnificent animals would be a tremendous tragedy,” said Blaire Van Valkenburgh, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and one of the article’s co-authors. “They are all that is left of a once much more diverse megafauna that populated the planet only 12,000 years ago. And more importantly, we have only just begun to understand the important roles they play in maintaining healthy ecosystems.”

Among the most serious threats to endangered animals are illegal hunting, deforestation, habitat loss, expansion of livestock and agriculture into wildlife areas, and human population growth, they write.

The scientists, who represent six continents, write that humans have “an abiding moral obligation to protect the Earth’s megafauna,” or large mammals. “We must not go quietly into this impoverished future.”

In addition to their significance to ecosystems, animals such as tigers and elephants attract tourists and their money to parts of the world that have few alternative sources of income, said Van Valkenburgh, who holds the Donald R. Dickey chair in vertebrate biology in the UCLA College.

“This paper is a call for action at all levels, local to global, to halt the rapid decline of the megafauna,” she said.

The paper reports that 59 percent of the largest carnivores and 60 percent of the largest herbivores have been classified as threatened with extinction, and that the situation is especially severe in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, where the greatest diversity of extant megafauna live.

William Ripple, the paper’s lead author, a distinguished professor of ecology in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, said the animals’ declines are occurring rapidly.

“The more I look at the trends facing the world’s largest terrestrial mammals, the more concerned I am we could lose these animals just as science is discovering how important they are to ecosystems and to the services they provide to people,” he said.

The scientists call for comprehensive action, including expanding habitats for the animals and changing conservation policy. The paper notes that some conservation initiatives have been successful and that, if measures are taken now, it may still be possible to rescue these animals from extinction.

The article is published in seven languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Malay, Portuguese and Thai.

Mr. Fish: Straight from the Horse’s Ass


From Clowncrack, his blog of hippomanic haruspication:

BLOG Fish

 

Mr. Fish: Thirst


From Clowncrack, his blog of dapatical dehydration:

BLOG Fish 2

Chart of the day II: Scraping the barrel’s bottom


From Gallup:

BLOG Nominees