... dust blown from as far away as the Sahara desert of Africa can seed rain and snow clouds in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.
Cloud formation depends upon tiny particles such as dust that serve as cloud condensation nuclei or ice nuclei—flecks that act as a surface on which water can condense. Previous studies have found that dust from as far away as the Taklimakan desert in China can be blown around the globe. But temperate deserts such as the Taklimakan and the Gobi are frozen much of the year, while the Sahara never freezes, the researchers noted. Could the Sahara and deserts in the Middle East serve as a significant source of year-round dust which, when lofted high into the atmosphere, seeded storms across the planet?
The answer is yes. Of the six storms the researchers sampled, all showed at least some trace of dust. Then, working backward to determine the origin of each of these air masses and using existing data from previous studies on wind currents across the Pacific, they found strong evidence that the majority of the dust had originated in Africa, the Middle East or Asia and traveled around the globe. Additionally, the observed height of various drafts of dust (as collected by a U.S. Navy program) on the days when the air masses would have moved past the African and Asian regions matched the altitude necessary for the particles to get lifted up into the air currents.
There might be more death out there, but I encountered two squirrels (one just dead and soggy; the other very dead and wasted), and a crow under a tree (no more noise out of you). I also saw a great bird of some kind circling above the Jose Rizal Bridge. It was looking and looking and looking for the right movement, the right size of life, the right moment to strike and kill.
As for this stretch of my walk, which is next to a golf area...
Holy fucking shit. Iran is all worried about getting its hands on some nuclear weapons when its biggest city is dealing with the biggest rats ever seen.
Tehran, the capital of Iran, is battling an invasion of "genetically mutated" giant rats.
Iran has sent in sniper teams to clear Tehran's streets from the massive rodents weighting up to five kilos plaguing 26 district of the Iranian capital, the city's environmental agency said.
"They seem to have had a genetic mutation, probably as a result of radiations and the chemical used on them," Ismail Kahram, Teheran city council environment adviser and university professor Ismail Kahram told Qudsonline.ir.
"They are now bigger and look different. These are changes that normally take millions of years of evolution. They have jumped from 60 grams to five kilos, and cats are now smaller than them."
The "mutated rats" have been running rampant in the capital, as cats are scared off by their giant size and traditional poison appear to have no effect on them.
Don't we get our cats from Persia? These noble and ancient creatures are refusing to fuck with these rats? Get your priorities in order, Iran. You need more than snipers; you need to throw the whole Revolutionary Guard into this war or wars.
This was posted a few weeks ago in the Atlantic's blog Cities:
Last week, on a Seattle winter evening, my dog and I stood at a neighborhood street corner in a spontaneous meeting with an urban coyote who, for several moments, owned my neighborhood pavement with conviction. Upon rounding a corner and coming face-to-face, the coyote cast a long stare (with those "I am not a pet" eyes I once saw in Africa), turned around, and moved on. For this feral, walkable urbanist, the city sidewalk was clearly as customary a migration route as wooded paths or the open plain.
The point the blogger Charles R. Wolfe makes in the post is that cities are being transformed into their opposite, nature, by two mediums: self-domesticated humans and wild animals. Humans are deliberately returning parts of their built environment to nature, and nature in the form wild animals is more and more becoming a part of the urban. (The other day I saw a whole bald eagle in a tree above Magnolia Park.) My only problem with Wolfe's post is the distinction he makes between nature and the urban. The urban is as natural as nature, as a beaver's dam, or the soil of worms. The city is just a niche constructed by and for the human animal. The most amazing thing in the post, then, is not its insight but that a coyote was seen on the sidewalk. This is amazing because sidewalks were made with only humans in mind. Yet they also appear to afford coyotes.
As for the "eyes I once saw in Africa" comment, today I will give it a rest.
I just ate a supreme burrito at Bimbo's. I am a meat eater but I ordered it with "vegan chipotle chicken." After the first bite, I knew it had joined Ballet's fake-meat pho on my short list of lunchtime food cravings. I love how fake meat is persistently chewy, like savory chewing gum. I love its different "flavors," which remind me of dry sucking on bouillon cubes. (My one complaint is that they could all use a teaspoon more cruelty.)
How has fake meat hypnotized my palate like this? (I started researching on the internet but quit after the phrase "meat analogue.") Was it specifically designed by vegetarians to get global meat eaters like me to give up our beef burgers and horse steaks? Because if so, it won't work. I mainly eat animals to absorb their cuteness.
Nevertheless, my food cravings are becoming more fake-meat-centric by the day. I am dangerously close to buying that meat-flavored toothpaste designed for house pets.
If there are other restaurants in town that do fake meat well (and I'm not talking about any of that oat-flavored field roast bullshit), please let me know.
It reminded me of this passage from Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle, which describes an earthquake in Chile...
The first shock was very sudden. The mayor-domo at Quiriquina told me, that the first notice he received of it, was finding both the horse he rode and himself, rolling together on the ground. Rising up, he was again thrown down. He also told me that some cows which were standing on the steep side of the island were rolled into the sea.
Cornell University arachnologist Linda Rayor and Aviles also agree that what’s probably being filmed is a massive P. bistriata colony. That species lives in South American savannas and spins colonial webs. A bit of good news is that their venom is not believed to be harmful to humans, Uetz said.
Basically, they're hunting, and they do this in large-ass groups on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure that's why I've been having the same dream for the last 467 nights in a row. Only in my dream, these plump little gobbets of terror are coming down from my bedroom ceiling and then crawling under my covers and then under my skin. And then I realize I'm actually awake and on a public transit bus. Is that normal?
After my post about why cats are so useful to us, a related post about why rats sometimes don't fear the smell of our cats. The idea is explained by, again, the great thinker and researcher of mammalian emotions Jaak Panksepp, but this time he is interviewed on Ginger Brown's other podcast, Brain Science Podcast. (I highly recommend it to those who are interested in the new developments in neuroscience.) The thing is this: Rats can become fearless if they are infected by a particular parasite.
Dr. Campbell: Is that toxoplasmosis?
Dr. Panksepp: Toxoplasma gondii... which is very prevalent in the world; many people are infected with it. France seems to have the highest level of infection. We get it from our cats. That's why mothers should not be cleaning cat poop out of a litter box.
It turns out that Toxoplasma gondii, in order to reproduce, the only place it reproduces is the stomach of a cat. So, how does Toxoplasma get into the stomach of a cat? Obviously by things cats eat. Cats like to prey on little rodents. Little rodents get exposed to Toxoplasma gondii. The cat eats it. And when the cat eats it, it eats rodents that aren't too scared of it. It turns out that Toxoplasma makes rats less fearful of cat smell.
Toxoplasma actually gets into the brain, as Sapolsky has shown, and blocks the cat smell from activating fear. Wow! That means these rats are more liable to end up in the stomach of a cat. So, that makes a wonderful evolutionary story: how a little bug outwitted the rat emotional system to get into the cat's stomach.
When reading passages like this, one has to wonder if lots of the things that we do as animals (things that are good or bad for us) have their roots in pathogens? Dawkins called us robots for the genes, but what if we are more robots (or better yet zombies) for parasites?
Asshat Gun-Nut Representative Steve Stockman (R-NRA/Texas) is inviting Ted Nugent. Wonder if he'll surrender his freedom to tyranny by putting up with the well-regulated security checks that will prevent him from bringing any of his beloved guns into Congress.
But this is really confusing: didn't Nugent say that if Romney lost, he (Nugent) "would be dead or in jail" after the election? This was interpreted as a threat on the President's life. But Nugent,like most gun-waving assholes, is a coward at heart and so didn't follow through. Kind of a shame.
But wait: Nugent actually said he'd be dead or in jail within a year, and he was speaking in April of 2012. So he still has a couple of months to man up and carry through with his threat. Maybe Stockman is a co-conspirator? One can only hope.
And for the sake of clarity, my little thought experiment here assumes that Nugent's abilities as an assassin are about equal to his musical talent, so the death in question would be his, as the Secret Service continues to do its job.
Seeing all the bad press cats are getting lately, it's important to remember why we keep them around in the first place. To help us in this remembering, let's turn to a recent interview of the brilliant scientist and thinker of the roots of mammalian emotions Jaak Pankseep on Ginger Brown's podcast Books and Ideas.
Dr. Campbell: So, what about your laboratory rats and mice? Hasn't your research shown that they are born afraid of the smell of cats?
Dr. Panksepp: Yes, that seems to be a very well replicated phenomenon; many, many people are using it now. It does seem like the smell of a cat has been evolutionarily built into a rat's brain; that there are receptors in the olfactory apparatus...
Dr. Campbell: Jaak, what happens if you put a rat in a box that has cat hair in one corner? I guess it starts out exploring, and it finds the cat hair, and it has a fear response.
Dr. Panksepp: Yes.
Dr. Campbell: The next day, if you put it in that same box, does it remember that the cat smell was in the box?
Dr. Panksepp: It remembers it very well. We did this with our favorite behavior, which is happy, rough-and-tumble play. And when we had animals playing in a box, and then one day we just put 20 mg of cat hair into the box, the play went to zero; no animal showed any play.
Now, some animals freeze and just stay as far away from it as possible; other animals seem more courageous, and they actually approach it. And they might actually manipulate, and say what is this? But it certainly shifts their desire to socially engage playfully. There's some kind of worry that prevents play...
I know what you are thinking, you hater of cats: Just use their hair and smell and that will be all. But this is the kind of thinking that misses the all-too-important Darwinian component of evolution. And nothing in biology makes sense outside of the light of Darwinian evolution. Remember, some, not many (but not many is more than enough in the evolution game), are courageous. These ones would prosper if there were no consequences to boldness.
Check out these terrific/informative videos from Burt's Bees, where founder Burt Shavitz talks to a queen bee, a drone bee, and some worker bees (all played by Isabella Rossellini). Full of interesting bee facts and cool bee costumes!
Elle magazine has an article about Burt Shavitz and the beauty industry's new interest in bee products:
Shavitz was a trailblazer, not only in his pre-artisanal-Brooklyn-era decision to ditch his media job and live off the land, but also in his instinctual understanding of the value of bees, both for his own and the greater good. Shavitz has been a sort of custodian and de facto publicist for the species. The company has worked tirelessly to call attention to Colony Collapse Disorder, creating the Honeybee Health Improvement Project to fund research grants, taking a stand against pesticide use, and giving every employee a stipend to take beekeeping classes.
Things you can do to help bees: Plant wildflowers Buy local honey Support organic farms.
Definition of quixotic: This man is trying to convince his fellow New Zealanders to give up their house cats, because they have ravaged native bird populations. The problem is, New Zealand is the cat-lovingest country in the whole world, with one of every two households owning at least one cat. Here's an infographic from the same site explaining the problem with cats and the problem with giving up cats. I have no doubt that the right thing for New Zealanders to do would be to give up their cats, but I also have no doubt that that will never happen.
I don't want to use a cloth bag. I don't want to carry the bag to the store, and I don't want to limit my shopping to the capacity of my bag.
What if I want to buy more? I can pay the 20 cents, but it is a punishment tax, a city-wagging-its-finger-at-me tax: bad, bad, bad.
I don't want the disapproval and I don't want the people in Shoreline, Edmonds, Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Renton, Kent and Burien laughing at me for being a sap for the greener-than-thou progressives in Seattle. And I don't want the people who did this to have my 20 cents.
...to a city that has successfully banned bags for a half-year, I feel pretty good about us. The narrative is that Seattle gets so bogged down in process that nothing ever happens. But there is progress. There's pretty much always some small amount of progress in Seattle, no matter how the conservatives on the editorial pages whine about it. That's pretty impressive.
Welcome to Slog's newest series "Now I've Seen Everything" in which I see something I've never seen before, proclaim "Now I've seen everything!" and then kill myself. Today in things I've never seen (but now that I have, I've seen everything), are two dogs arguing with each other over Skype. Not over the concept of Skype, but actually Skyping each other and arguing! And what's even more infuriating is that the argument that the two dogs are having isn't even all that interesting. Something about someone being promised a bone, and not receiving it? WHO CARES, DOGS?? You are the first two dogs to ever Skype!! Can't you fucking get along for two fucking seconds and make some fucking history by talking about something that fucking MATTERS? Like, I don't know... gun control... or the fiscal cliff... or how it's wrong to make fun of people with dreadlocks? GAHH! Well, on the upside I don't have to kill myself because until two dogs actually say something of merit to each other on Skype, I truly have not "seen everything." (I'll keep looking though!)
If you want more celebrity bullshit posts, post 'em. And please note that the two Seahawks posts were by regular actual employees of The Stranger, and one of them was so disdainful as to actually constitute a Golden Globes post.
If Charlie can be put in a sanctuary for troubled dogs, that would be fine. But he's a dangerous dog. That's not one opinion, it is several. He viciously attacked a Park Service horse on Crissy Field on Aug. 6. He slashed the horse on the flank and latched onto a leg. When the horse threw his rider and broke free, Charlie chased him for a mile and a half and was frightened off only when a motorcycle patrolman cut him off and blasted an air horn. Taking the injuries into account and the persistence of the attacks, a Police Department review determined that Charlie was vicious and dangerous and should be put down. Gizzarelli protested, and an evaluation was held with the eminent veterinarian a month later. That evaluation seconded the diagnosis of a dangerous dog with predatory instincts.
The owner of a pit bull named Charlie who is facing a state-court euthanasia order after reportedly chasing a police horse a mile and a half in a San Francisco park last year has filed suit in federal court to get a restraining order.... An independent veterinary behaviorist reportedly has found the dog to have a severe predatory behavior issue. However, many observers have rallied to support Charlie, arguing that the police horse wasn't properly trained to deal with dogs.
I propose that SF train its police horses not to run from pit bulls that have slashed their flanks and are chewing on their legs—that could trigger a pit bull's predatory instincts—but to turn and stomp to the fucking dog to death.
Feisty then: You wouldn't hit a man with puppy, would you?
A few days after adopting our dog Feisty as an eight-week-old pup, I had to drive up to Bellingham to participate in a panel discussion. Feisty was too young to be left alone for the half-day I'd be gone, so I brought her along for the ride. But I didn't trust leaving her alone in the car for the hour-long panel. So I grabbed the baby sling I'd kept as a cherished memento from my daughter's babyhood, and conducted the panel with a puppy strapped to my chest.
If there's anything more adorable than a baby in a baby sling, it's a puppy.
As expected, an audience member eventually asked about the puppy sling, to which I claimed self defense: "My blog generates a lot of threatening comments and emails," I quipped, "so I make it a point never to go out in public without a puppy." I mean, what better way to diffuse a potential hate crime, I imagined:
Crazed wing-nut attacker: "I'm going to kill you, you dirty commie Jewish scu.... oooh look, a puppy!"
Goldy: "She's only eight weeks old."
Crazed wing-nut attacker: "Can I pet her?"
Of course, that scenario never actually played out, as none of these threatening emails and harassing phone calls ever culminated in more than some minor vandalism of the "I know where you live" variety. Still, I have to admit that the adult Feisty has provided a welcome sense of security over the past seven years, in addition to the companionship and affection my daughter and I sought.
Goldy | The Stranger
Feisty now: Protecting her territory from foreign aggression.
Feisty grew to a modest but formidable stature, with a disposition that's... well... let's just say that she's not particularly eager to meet new people. Feisty is unfailingly gentle, affectionate, and submissive—to us—and apart from a handful of half-hearted ankle nips, she's never actually attacked anybody. But I can't blame strangers for fearing the worst.
Indeed, Feisty has earned a reputation for being ferociously protective of her territory, as anybody who has had the gall to walk too close to her yard or her car can attest. A year ago last summer our neighborhood was plagued by a string of daytime break-ins; the house across the street from ours was burglarized twice. But our house—the house with that crazy white dog—was never touched. Likewise, a few years back, I returned to my car late at night on a darkened Seattle street to find the windows smashed on the vehicles to either side of mine. But my car was intact, Feisty wagging her tail in the back seat. I can only imagine the start Feisty gave the car prowler, as she viciously lunged at the window, teeth bared, ears pinned back, a snarling archetype of canine terror.
by Dan Savage
on Mon, Dec 24, 2012 at 10:54 AM
"No, not undersexed and overweight hairy gay men," says John at Americablog. "But rather, cute and fuzzy little white teddy bears that a girl can hug and cuddle with when she feels that special urge to kiss the hot stud down the street."
There's a special pocket in the neck of "Boyfriend Bear" where a girl can tuck letters, photos, and momentos. (And maybe something she wants to hide from her parents? Condoms? Birth control pills? Vibrators? Or is her Boyfriend Bear's neck the first place a chaste girl's parents would go snooping?) Girls are encouraged to "hug and cuddle" their bears while waiting for "future husbands" to come along. Boyfriend Bears:
The purpose of our Boyfriend Bear is to hold love, kisses, prayers, and a special letter! He is a visual and huggable reminder to stay pure, not just another stuffed bear to toss in the corner... We wrote a letters to our future husbands and tucked them away in our Boyfriend Bear’s secret pocket. It is our hope that you will do the same when you are ready. Some things we included in our letters were our current interests, a school picture, favorite Bible verses, and promises to Him. We can’t wait to give our Boyfriend Bears to our husbands on our wedding day and read these special letters with him.
A 52-year-old woman told officers she was walking her boyfriend’s pit bull about 6 p.m. Tuesday on the beach near 76th Avenue North when a man armed with a knife approached her and demanded her cell phone and anything else she had with her, police said.
The woman said the man wore dark clothing and a ski mask covered his face as he pointed the knife at her throat, according to the report. The woman said the pit bull became aggressive and bit at the suspect.
An Oshkosh woman needed stitches after a dog bit her in the head Monday afternoon.
The 18-year-old woman had been in a verbal argument with another person at her residence in the 1500 block of Hazel Street, but had gone upstairs about 2:35 p.m. A 3-year-old pit bull then ran upstairs and attacked the woman. The dog bit the woman in the head, causing two lacerations that required stitches
Researchers have discovered a new slow loris species in the jungles of Borneo, according to findings published this week in the American Journal of Primatology.
Known for its toxic bite, the slow loris — a nocturnal primate found across Southeast Asia — is closely related to a lemur and is characterized by unique fur coloration on its face and body.
An international team of scientists pinpointed the new species, found in Borneo's central-east highland area, by studying the distinctive colorings of the faces of the animals.
"Differences among these facemasks resulted in recognition of four species of Borneaon and Philippine lorises," the statement said. "Of these, Nycticebus kayan is a new group unrecognized before as distinct."
The team's analysis also recognized two other species, previously considered as possible sub-species, as unique.
Some female animals are known to show a preference for mating with males they had observed coupling with other females in a phenomenon known as "mate choice copying." This allows them to evaluate the quality of a potential mate from a distance. For this study, the researchers set out to show that homosexual behaviour in the tropical freshwater fish Poecilia mexicana would similarly boost a drabber male's chances of heterosexual coupling.
"P. mexicana females increase their preference for initially non-preferred males not only after observing those males interacting sexually with females, but also when having observed them initiating homosexual behaviour.... As homosexual behaviour is regularly seen in small P.mexicana males, we speculate that it might represent an alternative mating tactic used by subordinate, and thus, less attractive males," the University of Frankfurt researchers wrote.