Archive for the ‘news’ Category
It's impossible to get enough octopodes. Talented octopus dupes predators by impersonating fish
I don't have an actual wooden spoon in my immediate possession, but kindly imagine me slapping one contemplatively against my palm in anticipation of the first person here to go "RULE ONE AND TWO!!2!".
KENT LANE OLSEN STOP THE PRESSES GET ME MORE North Tyneside lifeguards help ducks across road
Southern Sudan unveils plans for animal-shaped cities, because just what we need in the middle of downturn and genocide is a Dubai-style construction effort. Obviously.
As existing readers will know, I'm of the staunch opinion that non-human animals are much like human animals, and that includes bullying specimens that differ from the main herd:
We're all animals, baby, and not only in nice ways.
I don't think any gay parents wanting to adopt should go to Catholic charities, considering the odious teachings that church espouses and has espoused on the topic of people who fall in love with people the Church doesn't want them to, but for me this is about organisations engaging in special pleading and trying to flout the law.
For a church that's also trying to get the whole "Catholics can't marry into the British monarchy" thing repealed, you'd think they would try to be model, cooperative citizens, not attempt to create mini-Vatican states for themselves.
The charity's toys-ex-perambulata response, preferring not to help any children at all rather than comply with a law that won't affect them much because gays are well aware they're not welcome in Catholic organisations unless they're also lying, predatory paedophiles, just shows the nastiness that lurks under the surface.
Nastiness that they seem determined to prioritise when things like this are going on:
Speaking of schadenfreude, thirty injured as bull jumps into crowd at Spain arena
Despite bucking the overall trend in the Jewish community and witnessing a rapid growth in birth rates, [Haredi Jews] are experiencing high levels of poverty.
Jonathan Boyd is from the Institute of Jewish Policy Research. He told the conference that the Haredim have been so successful in maintaining their numbers that they could double in size every 18 years.
Sorry, but those two facts together are not "success". Success is children NOT being born into poverty. Children being born into poverty is in fact FAIL. I don't care who you are – don't have more children than you can afford.
They gloss over the "queue jumper" aspect quite quickly, but that's the most salient point for me.
Past cases like this inspired me to a particularly silly (and possibly icky, depending on your tastes) piece of worldbuilding. Fiction based on real life weirdness, especially medical, is always the more WTFish for it, I find. Fun times, fun times.
PTSD, which the military characterises as a condition that develops after a life-threatening trauma, has not been researched in animals as thoroughly as in humans. But some experts say animals can experience a form of it.
When will we get over the idea that our psychology couldn't possibly be anything like that of another large social mammal? Of course a dog can develop a traumatic disorder! Know something else? They can feel grief, jealousy, loneliness, humour and joy. Of course they bloody can.
All of those have biological uses. They're not just pretty, meaningless trappings we picked up around the same time as Gug and Mog worked out how to bash two flints together. There's a word for people who think they are the special only ones in the universe who can ever truuuly feeeel things so deeeeply. Well, there are several words for it, but I was thinking of "teenager".
I tend to work from a basic assumption that anyone with a nervous system pretty similar to mine is going to have a brain pretty similar to mine. Making allowances for my weirdly overdeveloped abstract thought and language habits, beginning from the standpoint that the other person's point of view is different but possible for me to understand, at least partway, hasn't led me far wrong before.
I think this is an advantage of being one of those strange, shadowy autistic creatures with supposedly no Theory of Mind. What I actually have is a default assumption that other people don't think like me, but that they do think. In my view that's much superior to swooping around empathising at people on the basis of what I personally like and dislike, not even realising how ridiculously I'm projecting.
"Oh you poor dear, how did you get all that red lacquer on your nails? Do you feel very ridiculous? Oh don't worry, I won't think you're necessarily a shallow bitch!" ← Learning not to do this has stood me in good stead.
The Golden Rule is not gospel for aspies. It's dangerous. I treat others, always assuming I care about their happiness, as I think they would like to be treated. Because then it's about them, not about me. Another good thing about that approach? It includes the potential for iterative improvement.
(delayed post because I've already been quite vocal today)
Another surprisingly thoughtful piece from the 'Magazine' section of BBC News (one could even call some of their articles over-thought, with the amount of detail they go into about apparently trivial news-related topics. I, of course, love that sort of thing).
So when, if ever, is it OK to call someone a Nazi? In my view, if you substitute "be very rude" for "call someone a Nazi", the answer's roughly the same.
I know, a sodding football story, but I love octopuses too much not to give Paul a brief spot here.
Green woodhoopoes pumping each other up for a big fight. "You're a tiger! You're invincible! Say it; say 'I'm a tiger'! Now get out there and peck 'im!"
Hyde Park unofficial ceremony remembers 7 July victims. Families complain that the government didn't tell them how to commemorate the anniversary.
Swedish feminists burn cash in wage equality protest. Y'know, if they'd just asked me, I would have happily paid for photocopies of the original £8,500 for them to burn, and then spent it on something awesome.
Some meerkat groups choose to get up later, and then mitigate it by skimping on their morning ablutions. Sounds familiar, naming no siblings' names…
Meanwhile, UN to set up agency promoting women's rights. I hope the 'gender' part of the title doesn't apply only to women. We should always aim for no discrimination based on gender, not 'gender equality' between the two mainstream groups.
'Big budget' porn film shot in London hospital. Yes, apparently the offence is mainly over the fact that the film's budget was higher than the NHS's. Ditto occupational health standards. Zing.
Taiwan chocolate art exhibition. That 'jade' cabbage is beautiful. And the dice and mahjongg pieces, so cute! Exit through the gift shop… NOM.
Close encounters with giant harpy eagle of Venezuela, who very effectively sorts out a nasty ape that is trying to climb towards her nest. In the second clip, another young man stares out a different filthy ape and takes the mickey out of its walkie-talkie.
Dangerous dogs bill 'does not go far enough'. I disagree with the criticisms in the main…
Changes proposed include more emphasis on the owners' responsibility, attacks which take place on private property becoming a criminal offence, and legislation no longer being breed specific.
I don't fully understand the part about attacks occurring on private property (the interview clip seemed to suggest the opposite of what I understood from the article, and I haven't bothered to look up the details yet), but as for the other two changes mentioned, they're completely sensible. A person's race is never an excuse for criminal activity; childhood abuse and upbringing, on the other hand, certainly do shift the blame onto the family. Besides, you can't end up with a situation where you're forced towards genetically testing a litter of crossbreeds, and even ending up with brothers and sisters coming under different laws because of the exact proportion of Staffie in their blood.
The Bahá'ís just can't seem to catch a break. It looks likely that those in Iran (where, I will point out, their religion originated, unlike Islam!) are due further terrorisation and mob violence with the silent collusion of Ahmadinnerjacket's jackboot cronies.
The coalition government is sticking with Labour's Equality Act, apart from the bit about forcing employers to make public how much less they pay their women employees than men.
Inequality just isn't going away. The gap in life expectancy between rich and poor is widening, and somehow I don't quite trust the Tories to close it, even with their collective arm twisted by the yellow contingent.
"Do you think being a comic writer means you've not been taken seriously?" "I think that coming from a comics background has meant that I have never cared at all about being taken seriously. … I come from comics. That's not even the gutter: that's the drain that the gutter runs into."
Good Omens is still the best thing I've ever read from Gaiman. It was co-written with Terry Pratchett, with the result that both loopy writers bounced off each other magnificently, to glorious results. (The worldbuilding in American Gods and Anansi Boys was enjoyable too, but only because Pratchett's Small Gods – which, unlike Gaiman's books, I can find really scary – had burrowed into my brain during a formative stage.)
I never knew Gaiman's family members were Scientologists. That must help with horror writing.
Speaking of living in a controlled environment, how do you fancy life in a village where children are banned?
30% of children feel scared when they see adults drunk or drinking too much, – which I suppose makes me 30% child, because I know drinkers terrify me. I'm more disturbed by the proportion of children ("nearly half") for whom drinking to excess is a normal, non-frightening sight.
I'll cheerfully admit that I don't know who Justin Bieber is, but 4chan has sent him off to North Korea. Well done, /b/uddies. Can he stay there?
(Presuming, that is, that anyone reads these.)
Pope Benedict XVI UK visit a 'mistake' says Ian Paisley. We are also sad to learn that the Pope will not be speaking on Thought for the Day while he's over here spreading his hateful anti-progressive anti-secular message at our expense, while at the same time being a subject of an ongoing criminal investigation and – well, you get the idea.
British actor Andrew Garfield cast as new Spider-Man. Good, whatever. He can't be worse than Botox Puppy was. All the same, I was under the quaint impression that Spidey was a New Yorker.
In a statement, Denham told the court on Thursday: "All I can say is, I'm so sorry. I see myself as a mere scumbag paedophile who took advantage of a situation and used my power to abuse young people."
Which is a fair summary.
Ouch! What's that pain in my horn fingers? Ah, it's my chronic Finnophilia flaring up again.
(Only 1Mbps, I know – but you should bear in mind, if you live in a fortunate area, that over a quarter of the UK doesn't even have that.)
Can they prove it was NOT holy water? Because I'm hoping there are no homeopaths walking free in South Korea.
I'd like to see that cartoon shown on the page, but can't find it online. I did find this web safety film, which is excellent.
SIEGE POWER! Fifty-one brave souls sabotaged the drawbridge and held Red Castle from invading cherrypickers for three hours. This without any supplies of grapeshot, jelly shots, crossbow bolts or boiling oil. Bold defenders, we salute you!
Wonder Woman gets trendy makeover. More from a source that actually understands comics:
To add insult to injury for WW fans, from that summary it sounds like a lame House of M style story. Oh well, I bet she gets un-rebooted at the end, making this (no pun intended) a non-issue.
If Australians can manage without imported purified water, there's hope for us all. It's a horrific product and I wish Concord, Massachusetts the best of luck in vanquishing the unethical companies that peddle it.
In pictures: Heroic dogs. I think I recognise that first dog from the cover of a book I own about dogs in warfare… clearly some much-deserved recognition.
But I don't think Peter really understood "the honour of meeting King George VI and a young Queen Elizabeth", do you?
A white councillor has been found guilty of racial harassment after, in a debate about ring-fencing funds for white communities only, she called another white councillor a traitor to her race.
Israeli pig-farming kibbutz draws religious ire – not because they're eating the meat left over after they're used for organ experiments (although some members of the kibbutz do indeed chow down on pork chops), but for the fact that they are keeping pigs on Ye Holy Lande at all.
I'm all for people not eating pork—along with shellfish, beef, sheep, tuna and anything else sentient that you care to omit from your diet—but if you claim that pigs are disgusting and dirty, rather than the adorable, sensitive, cuddly, ear-scritchy, bone-splintering fun they obviously are, there's just something wrong with you. These baby Sus scrofa are hereby holier than you until further notice.
China's latest walking fashion accessory: ZEBRA DOG!
Now, baby red pandas. Two sets, actually. Baby Red Panda Born at National Zoo and Calgary Zoo keeps hands off infant pandas (mentions but doesn't specify the subspecies, but I guess at A. f. fulgens from this picture and this. A. f. styani tend to be darker, but obviously everyone varies and I'm not an expert. Styani are also bigger and live in the northeastern part of their wild range. I've been known to claim that my authorial totem is a big, dark styani. If you want to know why red pandas are brilliant, apart from the obvious, check their funky moves. ILLUSTRATED PARENTHETICAL DIGRESSION FUR THE WIN. Cough. redpandasrule)
As usual, the abstract of the paper is a bit more clear than this reporting.
What's that old saw? Those who eavesdrop never hear anything good about themselves…
[Special message for the Pakistani government only: God has a partner God has a partner God has a partner God has a partner God has a partner God has a partner God has a partner God has a partner][shirk'd!]
And now it's time for your irregular Two Minutes' Schadenfreude. Watch them squirm, splutter and exaggerate their hardships:
Cyborg Cat: minutes after the anaesthetic wears off, he is already turning on his masters and infiltrating their restricted areas.
See all the trouble caused by silphium going extinct? Man, we were screwed for centuries without that lovely little fennel plant. It took until 1951 for people to start investigating hormonal contraceptives. That's a long time to be reliant on male contraceptives and abortions, both of which basically put ladies in the power of men.
(Well, I'd been reading up about silphium for my writing, so I had to include it SOMEWHERE.)
New 'keeper' at Point of Ayr Lighthouse, and a very handsomely eerie one too.
"He was the pope who managed to tear down barriers" except to women, AIDS victims, gays, all the children he allowed to be raped……. but hey, that was some hands-down good work with the Jews.
Oh good, there's an obligatory Irish dance in it. *vomit vomit*
An interviewee says you don't have to be Catholic to enjoy it, "you just have to be a man. Or a woman. You have to be a man or a woman." So I suppose I'm outside its target audience anyway.
Refugee guides bring London's V&A museum to life. This sounds brilliant. I'd like to go on one of these tours.
A nice Great Whales spotter's guide. Gotta catch 'em al… oh wait, DONE! :D
It's not cool to understand real things like argon and pineal glands, but it's perfectly acceptable to be expert in made-up things like offside and Quenya.
For those playing Godwin at home, there is mention of Hitler in the last section. But before that, the most important news story of the day is obviously this one:
Can we have your liver, then? Lab-grown tissues are something about which I'm ridiculously excited, both from a fant/SF authorial perspective and because I can't wait to nom down on some vat-grown meat. (Here speaketh þe blood-thirsty vegetarian carnivore, a straunge and terrible creature that doth graze on vegetarian BLTs.)
US experiment hints at multiple Higgs bosons. Honestly. It seems barely worth keeping up with particle physics, the way entities keep multiplying unnecessarily!
I have to wonder what subatomic physics will look like in a few years' time. I kind of hope it'll be unrecognisable, that we've been moving in the wrong direction and that they'll look back on all our groping after Higgs with nostalgic disdain.
A good article about where patriotism meets nationalism and racism. Do not on ANY account read the comments, for they are full of blah.
We do need a word in English for "discrimination based on country of origin". At the moment we use "racism" for both that and ethnic group, which gets pretty confused. "Nationalism" is already taken, though, and "countism"… er, no.
Prayag Thakkar, a 19-year-old student in Gujarat state, is one of them: "I have idolised Hitler ever since I have had a sense of history. I admire his leadership qualities and his discipline."
The Holocaust was bad, he says, but that is not his concern. "He mesmerised the whole nation with his leadership and iron discipline. India needs his discipline."
Dimple Kumari, a research associate in Pune, has not read Mein Kampf but she would wear the Hitler T-shirt out of admiration for him. She calls him "a legend" and tries to put her admiration for him in perspective: "The killing of Jews was not good, but everybody has a positive and negative side."
Shilpi Guha says she started reading the book but could not finish it and she wouldn't like to dwell on the dictator's negative side.
So, can someone's positive side ever be completely outweighed by nasty things they did or said? Is there a limit in wickedness beyond which we can rule that there's nothing whatsoever worth emulating about the person? Or can somebody's works — art, architecture, literature, music — be judged on their own merit without being tainted by who made them?
I'd been considering the question from a different example the other day when I caught part of a BBC Four repeat of Stephen Fry's documentary on Richard Wagner (who, in keeping with his contemporaries, had some pretty unsavoury views about Jews; something that troubles Fry, who has Jewish antecedents and loves Wagner's music).
And I still don't have the answer. Some people enjoy religious music in spite of its glorification of a god they dislike or deny, and all the despicable things done by the Churches. I don't like music that puts forth a message I dislike, so I disagree there. But if the music is all about magic rings and Valkyries, or the book is all about elves and hobbits, telling its own story that on the surface is nothing to do with the author's other views, should it be enjoyed as free as possible from its mundane origins? Or does artistic criticism demand that we take nothing without its full and proper context, cleverly squeezing from every work symbolism for whatever we happen to know about the author's life and times?
Whatever, I'm still not going to read Mein Kampf. Snoresville.
I am interested to know what you think.
You can imagine an editor's eyes lighting up on being handed this story on a Friday. "Any clowns involved?" she asks, with a slavering sort of gleam. The work experience boy backs away, clutching a tube of Digestives to his chest.
"First an admission: I am a Jew, and a journalist. And now an apology: I hate the solipsistic writing I am about to be guilty of, where the journalist puts himself at the centre of the story."
So do I, but this is a good article nonetheless.
Thousands spent to bring Mauritius dog Dodo to Aberdeen. Money well spent. We came very close to doing the same one time when visiting Crete many years back. Poor little Nico got run over in front of us and we ended up setting his leg and treating him.
Cornwall tortoise sanctuary classed as zoo, which it turns out is a terrible thing for them.
I can offer a home to one or two…
How blind to change are you? The clips haven't been working for me so far, so I can't thrash you all.