How a Wolf Won Hearts in an Alaska Suburb

How a Wolf Named Romeo Won Hearts in an Alaska Suburb

Via National Geographic: ‘It’s one thing to have a tolerant meeting with a wild wolf that goes on for a matter of minutes. But this went on for six years, so we got to know this wolf, whom we came to call Romeo, as an individual. And he got to know us and our dogs.

For want of a better word, the only thing I can say from a human perspective is that it amounted to friendship. If you wanted to be scientifically correct, it would be “social mutual tolerance.” But it was more than that. The wolf would come trotting over to say hi, and give a little bow and a relaxed yawn, and go trotting after us when we went skiing. There was no survival benefit. He obviously just enjoyed our company.’


Physicists Will Test Existence of Alternate Universes

Via Big Think: ‘Scientist running the world’s biggest physics experiment — the Large Hadron Collider located in Geneva, Switzerland — will soon begin trials that will test for the presence of alternate universes existing in different dimensions of hyperspace.Since detecting the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle, which explains how matter originally obtained mass, the collider has been shut down for two years while undergoing renovations. When it reopens, it will be able to reach energy levels higher than ever before: 13 tera electron volts (TeV). The Higgs boson was discovered at levels of 5.3 TeV.


Quentin Tarantino Lists His 20 Favorite Spaghetti Westerns

Sergio Leone

Sergio Leone

Via Open Culture: ‘Trust a genre-loving auteur like Quentin Tarantino (and one who made his very own Django a few years back) to know Spaghetti westerns inside and out. While even those of us who never turn down the chance to enjoy a good Spaghetti western might struggle to name ten of them, Tarantino can easily run down his personal top twenty:

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966)
  • For a Few Dollars More (Sergio Leone, 1965)
  • Django (Sergio Corbucci, 1966)
  • The Mercenary (Sergio Corbucci, 1966)
  • Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)
  • A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 1964)
  • Day of Anger (Tonino Valerii, 1967)
  • Death Rides a Horse (Giulio Petroni, 1967)
  • Navajo Joe (Sergio Corbucci,1966)
  • The Return of Ringo (Duccio Tessar, 1965)
  • The Big Gundown (Sergio Sollima, 1966)
  • A Pistol for Ringo (Duccio Tessari, 1965)
  • The Dirty Outlaws (Franco Rossetti, 1967)
  • The Great Silence (Sergio Corbucci, 1968)
  • The Grand Duel (Giancarlo Santi, 1972)
  • Shoot the Living, Pray for the Dead (Giuseppe Vari, 1971)
  • Tepepa (Giulio Petroni, 1968)
  • The Ugly Ones (Eugenio Martin, 1966)
  • Viva Django! (Ferdinando Baldi, 1967)
  • Machine Gun Killers (Paolo Bianchini, 1968)

You can watch all the trailers of these Spaghetti western masterpieces in the playlist…, created by The Spaghetti Western Database.’

This is a revelation for me. I have always loved Sergio Leone’s films, but I am excited to learn that there is a rich body of work of at least five or six other auteurs of the genre waiting for me out there!


What has neuroscience ever done for us?

English: Şerafeddin Sabuncuoğlu (1385-1468) Po...

Via The Psychologist: ‘Over the past 25 years the pace of progress in neuroscience research has been extraordinary, with advances in both understanding and technology. We might expect that this would stimulate improved understanding and treatment of mental health problems, yet in general this has not been the case. In fact, our standard treatment approaches have barely changed in decades, and still fail many people suffering from mental distress.’


5 Languages That Could Change the Way You See the World

via Nautilus: ‘…The way that different languages convey information has fascinated linguists, anthropologists, and psychologists for decades. In the 1940s, a chemical engineer called Benjamin Lee Whorf published a wildly popular paper in the MIT Technology Review (pdf) that claimed the way languages express different concepts—like gender, time, and space—influenced the way its speakers thought about the world. For example, if a language didn’t have terms to denote specific times, speakers wouldn’t understand the concept of time flowing.

This argument was later discredited, as researchers concluded that it overstated language’s constraints on our minds. But researchers later found more nuanced ways that these habits of speech can affect our thinking. Linguist Roman Jakobson described this line of investigation thus: “Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey.” In other words, the primary way language influences our minds is through what it forces us to think about—not what it prevents us from thinking about.

These five languages reveal how information can be expressed in extremely different ways, and how these habits of thinking can affect us:

  • A Language Where You’re Not the Center of the World
  • A Language Where Time Flows East to West
  • A Language Where Colors Are Metaphors
  • A Language That Makes You Provide Evidence
  • A Language That Has No Word for “Two” ‘


The Epidemiology and Statistical Mechanics of Zombies

Screenshot of Safari (03-20-15, 11:03:53 pm)

Via ‘We use a popular fictional disease, zombies, in order to introduce techniques used in modern epidemiology modelling, and ideas and techniques used in the numerical study of critical phenomena. We consider variants of zombie models, from fully connected continuous time dynamics to a full scale exact stochastic dynamic simulation of a zombie outbreak on the continental United States. Along the way, we offer a closed form analytical expression for the fully connected differential equation, and demonstrate that the single person per site two dimensional square lattice version of zombies lies in the percolation universality class. We end with a quantitative study of the full scale US outbreak, including the average susceptibility of different geographical regions.’

Here’s What Could Happen If Antarctica’s Ice Is Melting From Below

Watch For the Aurora Tonight, Even If You’re In the South

“How to Become Gluten Intolerant” from the “How to Be Ultra Spiritual” dude

Screenshot of Safari (03-20-15, 10:58:50 pm)Via Boing Boing: “Being gluten intolerant means you are entitled to tell people about the offensive things that happen to you if you eat gluten. Because they’re not gluten free, they’re obligated by law to listen.”

Disclaimer to my gluten-intolerant readers: I recognize that the verdict is not in on the reality of non-celiac gluten intolerance. 

Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?

Via The Atlantic: ‘For half a century, memories of the Holocaust inoculated the Continent against overt anti-Semitism. That period has ended—the recent fatal attacks in Paris and Copenhagen are merely the latest in a mounting tide. Today, right-wing fascist strains of Jew-hatred are merging with a new threat from radicalized Islamists, confronting Europe with a crisis, and its Jews with an agonizing choice.’


Study: 3 Million Whales Were Killed During 20th Century

Via Big Think: ‘…[T]he question at the heart of this new report is, “Can the remaining whales ever recover?” Populations remain low — they’re whales after all, not rabbits — and other threats, such as changes in climate, unstable food supplies, and noise from military sonar, could stunt efforts to restore the population.’


There Is No Global Jihadist ‘Movement’

There Is No Global Jihadist ‘Movement’ — The Atlantic

Via The Atlantic: ‘What’s sometimes referred to as the global jihadist “movement” is actually extremely fractured. It’s united by a general set of shared ideological beliefs, but divided organizationally and sometimes doctrinally. Whether to fight the “near enemy” (local regimes) or the “far enemy” (such as the United States and the West), for example, has been contentious since the 1990s, when Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States. Rivalry among like-minded militant groups is as common as cooperation. Identities and allegiances shift. Groups align and re-align according to changing expectations about the future of the conflicts they’re involved in, as well as a host of other factors, such as competition for resources, leadership transitions, and the defection of adherents to rival groups that appear to be on the ascendant.’


When the Town Stops Burning

Via The Morning News: ‘I first learned about Centralia from my friend Ali. He told me there was an abandoned town in eastern Pennsylvania’s coal country that had been on fire since 1962. A controlled burn at the dump, he said, had somehow reached a coal seam beneath it, and the fire spread. Now it’s big—400 acres—and hotter than 1,000 degrees, eating away at the ground beneath the ground. He told me about sinkholes that had swallowed people, and huge cracks in the earth, and poisonous gases that seeped into buildings.

…Emory told me there were hundreds of other coal fires in the U.S. and a handful more in Pennsylvania. I nodded and said, “Really?” so he’d keep talking, but I didn’t believe him. Turns out, he’s right. The Office of Surface Mining has identified 100 fires burning beneath nine states. There are 45 just in Pennsylvania, though none are as famous as the one in Centralia.’


America’s “Ferguson” confusion: Why the problem has been completely misunderstood

Elias Isquith via  ‘Before I had a chance to peruse the Department of Justice’s long-awaited report on the killing of Michael Brown by former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson, I had three predictions. The first was that the DOJ would find the city of Ferguson’s finances to be a house of cards built upon a foundation of anti-tax absolutism and white supremacy…

My second prediction about the DOJ report was that it would find the Ferguson Police Department to be rife with bigotry, which would manifest itself most conspicuously through emails filled with the kind of racist “jokes” that many Americans prefer to call “politically incorrect.” I guessed this not because I had any special insight into the office culture of the Ferguson PD, but because the embarrassing disclosure of racist jokes disseminated among employees by email has become a recurring media story throughout the Obama years…

My third and final prediction, meanwhile, was that the media’s coverage of the DOJ report would devote much more attention to the second prediction (the racist emails) than the first (the systemic dysfunction); and that the response on the part of Ferguson’s civilian leadership would similarly concern itself more with “politically incorrect” jokes than with institutional corruption. I imagined that it would play out this way primarily because that’s how it always does.’


Humans Unconsciously Sniff Their Hands After Handshaking

English: A stylised imaged of the handshaking ...

Via io9: ‘Unlike dogs and other animals, humans — for the most part — don’t sniff each other. Well, at least that’s what we thought. A rather unsettling new study from the Weizmann Institute shows that practically all of us sniff our hands after handshaking — a possible sign of social chemosignaling behavior.

The new study, published in the journal eLife, suggests that humans use handshakes to exchange important chemical information — information that can alter our behavior is subtle ways. The researchers came to this conclusion by covertly filming 271 subjects as they they were being greeted in a structured event, some with a handshake and some without.’


Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts

New York Times Tower ny night
Justin P. McBrayer in the New York Times: ‘What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true that it’s wrong to kill people for fun or cheat on tests? Would you be surprised?

I was. As a philosopher, I already knew that many college-aged students don’t believe in moral facts. While there are no national surveys quantifying this phenomenon, philosophy professors with whom I have spoken suggest that the overwhelming majority of college freshman in their classrooms view moral claims as mere opinions that are not true or are true only relative to a culture.

What I didn’t know was where this attitude came from…’ (via 3quarksdaily)

Be Careful About Downloading Health Apps — They Lack Regulation

Via Big Think: ‘Jesse Singal from NYMag reports that the mobile app market is an under-regulated mess. While the health market has boomed with step, heart rate, and various other personal wellness trackers, Singal warns that there’s no regulation, which means an app’s accuracy can vary from developer to developer. This lack of consistency or regulation standards among applications brings questions of reliability for users that may depend on sound readings.’

New Chinese character threatens to ‘break the internet’

Via Telegraph: ‘The launch of a new word in China is threatening to break the internet, with the character being shared millions of times despite no-one knowing what it means.

The character, known as “duang”, has appeared more than 8m times on China’s leading social media site Weibo since it emerged a week ago, generating hundreds of thousands of online conversations.

Foreign Policy, the magazine, has now dubbed the character as a “break the internet” viral meme in the same ilk as last year’s image of Kim Kardashian and last week’s multi-coloured dress.

The new character has connections to film star Jackie Chan. A fake advert featuring Chan, who sponsors numerous products in China, appeared on video streaming site Youku for herbal shampoo Bawang, which Chan endorses. At the end of advert, Chan appears to say of the product: “It’s just … it’s just … duang!” ‘


Many Animals—Including Your Dog—May Have Horrible Short-Term Memories

Net Neutrality Wins: What Now?

Here’s How A Mob Of Sheep Could One Day Save Your Life

Three Men Receive Bionic Hands Controlled With Their Minds

Via IFLScience:  ‘The outlook used to be pretty bleak for those who had lost movement in their limbs due to severe nerve damage, but over the last year or so, some incredible advances have been made that are restoring shattered hope for many.

The amazing breakthroughs include spinal cord stimulation that allowed paralyzed men to regain some voluntary control of their legs, a brain implant that enabled a quadriplegic man to move his fingers, and a system that allowed a paralyzed woman to control a robotic arm using her thoughts. Science has definitely been on a roll, but this winning streak isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Now, the world’s first “bionic reconstructions” have been performed on three Austrian men to help them regain hand function. This technique enabled the newly amputated patients to control prosthetic hands using their minds, allowing them to perform various tasks that most people take for granted.’


The Story Behind Earth’s “Other” Moon And Its Completely Whacked Orbit

Via io9:  ‘As recently as 1997, we discovered that another body, 3753 Cruithne, is a quasi-orbital satellite of Earth.

This simply means that Cruithne doesn’t loop around the Earth in a nice ellipse in the same way as the moon, or indeed the artificial satellites we loft into orbit. Instead, Cruithne scuttles around the inner solar system in what’s called a “horseshoe” orbit.’


Rats remember acts of kindness, and then reciprocate

This Neuroscientist Says He’ll Do a Human Head Transplant Very Soon

Chicago police are running a horrifying CIA-style black site out of a warehouse

Why You Should Find This Plant Absolutely Terrifying

Via io9:  ‘…it look(s) as if it could be in anyone’s garden. A closer picture shows it to be not quite garden friendly. The thing is covered in spikes, especially on the outer edge of those long, thin, dense leaves that crowd around its base. What do you suppose it does with those? Here’s a hint: Puya chilensis has been informally given the name “the sheep-eating plant.” It’s not unusual to find hairy mammals or small birds trapped in the plant’s leaves.

The plant doesn’t eat them directly. It’s not carnivorous. It just lets them die. Their corpses rot (perhaps attracting more animals with their scent) and fertilize the dirt around the plant. Puya chilensis can then absorb the nutrients from the animals it trapped and slowly starved to death, and go on with its happy life.’


“People are really getting angry”

We are all dick-measurers now

We must offend religion more

Annals of Emerging Diseases

Via CDC:  ‘What is Bourbon virus?

Bourbon virus belongs to a group of viruses called thogotoviruses. Viruses in this group are found all over the world. A few of these viruses can cause people to get sick.

How do people get infected with Bourbon virus?

We do not yet fully know how people become infected with Bourbon virus. However, based on what we know about similar viruses, it is likely that Bourbon virus is spread through tick or other insect bites.

Where have cases of Bourbon virus disease occurred?

As of February 12, 2015, only one case of Bourbon virus disease had been identified in eastern Kansas in late spring 2014. The man who was infected later died. At this time, we do not know if the virus might be found in other areas of the United States.

What are the symptoms of Bourbon virus?

Because there has been only one case identified thus far, scientists are still learning about possible symptoms caused by this new virus. In the one person who was diagnosed with Bourbon virus disease, symptoms included fever, tiredness, rash, headache, other body aches, nausea, and vomiting. The person also had low blood counts for cells that fight infection and help prevent bleeding.’


Marriage Proposal by Physics Paper

R.I.P. Sam Houston Andrew

Guitarist for Big Brother and the Holding Company Dies at 73 ( ‘His death was announced on the band’s website, which said Mr. Andrew had a heart attack 10 weeks ago and underwent open-heart surgery.

Big Brother and the Holding Company was among the first and most successful exponents of the so-called San Francisco sound, an adventurous mix of folk, blues and rock influences fueled by psychedelic drugs. (Others included Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.)

Mr. Andrew, who founded Big Brother in 1965 with the bassist Peter Albin and shared lead guitar duties with James Gurley, referred to the band’s sound as a “progressive-regressive hurricane blues style.”

…Critics, even while praising Ms. Joplin’s singing, often dismissed Big Brother and the Holding Company in its late-1960s heyday as undisciplined and lacking technique. Mr. Andrew, not surprisingly, saw things differently.

“Big Brother and the Holding Company,” he once said, “was a prime example of a band where the chemistry was right, where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. You cannot buy or manufacture the natural feeling that was in that band.” ‘

Cheap Thrills (Big Brother and the Holding Com...

I tend to agree with Sam. Big Brother was not merely a backing band for Janis, as clear in the extended back and forth riffing between him and her on numbers such as ‘Ball and Chain’ or ‘Combination of the Two,’ both captured well on Cheap Thrills. Sam, I’m cueing up the LP now. You will be missed.

Our Greatest President-Poet

The Poetry of Richard Milhous Nixon, a slim volume compiled by Jack S. Margolis and published in 1974, stands as a seminal work in verse. Comprising direct excerpts from the Watergate tapes—arguably the most fecund stage of Nixon’s career—it fuses the rugged rhetoric of statesmanship to the lithe contours of song, all rendered in assured, supple, poignant free verse. Below, to celebrate Presidents’ Day, are four selections from this historic chapbook, which has, lamentably, slipped out of print.




The position is

To withhold


And to cover up

This is

Totally true.

You could say

This is

Totally untrue.



We are all

In it


We take

A few shots


It will be over.

Don’t worry.

I wouldn’t

Want to be

On the other side

Right now.



In the end

We are going

To be bled

To death.

And in the end,

It is all going

To come out anyway.

Then you get the worst

Of both worlds.

(via Paris Review)

Should We Be Trying to Make Contact with Extraterrestrials?

Via io9:  ‘Another debate popped again this week, one that’s been talked about and argued over for years now—whether we should be actively seeking out and sending messages to habitable planets in the search for life beyond Earth.

Known as Active Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), some researchers and scientists want to continually broadcast messages to known habitable planets in an effort to reach a new alien species. But many disagree. People like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk think a more measured and thought out approach makes more sense, and that historically, races of people who have happily greeted newcomers quickly found them to be conquerors.

The idea of Active Seti is to encode messages in powerful radio signals and send endlessly for centuries to solar systems with habitable planets. According to The Guardian, Seth Shostak, the director of the Seti Institute, wants to just beam the entire contents of the internet, porn and all, to other star systems.’


Join the Battle for Net Neutrality

Join the Battle for Net Neutrality. The most important FCC vote of our lifetime is about to happen.On Feb 26 the FCC will vote to save net neutrality or let Comcast and other ISPs create Internet slow lanes. Some members of Congress, on behalf of their Cable donors, are trying to stop the FCC from protecting the Internet we love. There isn’t much time to stop them, contact them now.


Why it’s brave to think like a coward

via Aeon: ‘The stigma attached to cowardice has caused terrible harm, most obviously to those who have been made to pay for the alleged ‘crime’. Less obvious, but more pervasive, is the damage done by people who, fearing the shame of cowardice, have acted in reckless, often violent ways. Remembering this should make us less ready to use the label of ‘coward’, especially in the case of someone refusing to use violence…’  – Chris Walsh

Australia’s Oldest Man Knits Tiny Sweaters For Penguins Injured In Oil Spills

Via Huffington Post: ‘When disaster strikes, the wildlife clinic at the Phillip Island Nature Park will be ready, equipped to deploy hundreds of tiny wool sweaters at a moment’s notice.

Not tiny sweaters for people, but penguins — knit by a group of volunteers that includes Alfred “Alfie” Date, who at 109 years of age is Australia’s oldest man.’


Amazing Photo Of An Intoxicated Gorilla About To Punch A Photographer

People Are Stamping Rising Sea Levels onto Dollar Bills for Climate Change

People Are Stamping Rising Sea Levels onto Dollar Bills for Climate Change | Motherboard

Via Motherboard:  ‘Starting this week, dozens of people will pull out $20 bills to find the White House on the back submerged in water: a striking image that comes as part of a new call to action over climate change.

The project is the last of three “currency interventions” by San Francisco-based artist Joseph DeLappe. In the past, he has call​ed attention to drone warfare and police brutality with similar projects.’


Robert Reich: America is headed full speed back to the 19th century

Shirley Manson perfectly nails what’s wrong with Kanye

Via  ‘…[W]hat has been largely missing so far from the whole Kayne vs. Beck conversation has been someone to call West out on his apparent need to take umbrage on Beyonce’s behalf. That, however, was taken care of Monday, when Garbage front woman posted an open letter on Facebook. “It is YOU who is so busy disrespecting artistry,” she wrote, adding, “You disrespect your own remarkable talents and more importantly you disrespect the talent, hard work and tenacity of all artists when you go so rudely and savagely after such an accomplished and humble artist like BECK. You make yourself look small and petty and spoilt. In attempting to reduce the importance of one great talent over another, you make a mockery of all musicians and music from every genre, including your own. Grow up and stop throwing your toys around. You are making yourself look like a complete twat.” But where she really nailed it was in her PS, when she observed, “I am pretty certain Beyonce doesn’t need you fighting any battles on her account. Seems like she’s got everything covered perfectly well on her own.”’



Here’s A Way To Stop Drones Flying Over Your House, Without A Shotgun

Parrot AR.Drone prototype flyingVia io9:  ‘The ambition of NoFlyZone, a consortium of (small) drone manufacturers, is to create a nationwide database of homeowners and flight permissions. If you don’t want drones to be able to overfly your residence, the solution is simple: enter your house in the online database, and after the next round of firmware updates, drones will be incapable of overflying your property, in the same way that they’re currently banned from the airspace around airports and, uh, the White House.’

Climate Change Threatens to Halt Alaska’s Sled Dog Races

Via Big Think:  ‘NPR’s Emily Schwing reports on some recent climate-change developments that are affecting Alaska’s Yukon Quest and Iditarod sled dog races. Officials and mushers are beginning to wonder how long the state sport will be able to survive these drastic changes with warm temperatures threatening food supplies and the landscape of the race.’


The slow, painful death of America’s antiwar movement

Giving Tea The Blue Bottle Treatment

Giving Tea The Blue Bottle Treatment | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Via Fast Company:  ‘To understand third-wave tea, it’s helpful to understand third wave coffee, which you could characterize as an obsession with tiny, granular details. First wave coffee meant Folgers. At a second-wave establishment like Starbucks, a patron might request non-coffee additives like soy milk, two pumps of sugar-free vanilla, and their name spelled correctly. Third-wave coffee drinkers are more concerned with process, and the coffee beans themselves: What’s the best extraction method? A pour-over? A vacuum pump? What’s the ideal water temperature? Oh! And if you aren’t using a conical Burr grinder, what are you even doing with your life?

If first-wave tea was Lipton coming to the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century, and the second wave was the spread of mall emporiums like Teavana, third-wave tea in the U.S. is, like its coffee predecessor, a return to form, with an emphasis on purity and accessibility. It’s simply tea, unadulterated and directly sourced from farmers, usually from Asia.’


Prewar Japanese beer posters: the most beautiful ads ever made?

Via Boing Boing:  ‘Japanese beer culture has exploded over the past twenty years… But if we’ve entered the golden age of Japanese beer, we’ve missed the golden age of Japanese beer advertising. That came before the Second World War, a time when, if the advertising industry needed drawing, painting, or lettering, it was done by hand.

Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo were not known for their richly flavorful product, but could command richly evocative imagery for the posters and postcards that promoted it.

A robust market now exists for these antique pieces of advertising and their suitable-for-framing reproductions. Spend enough time hunting for them, and you’ll start to notice that different brands often used the same pictures: what you’d thought of as “the Asahi girl” might well turn up on a Sapporo poster, and so on.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I seem to have developed a sudden thirst for an ice-cold beverage of some kind.’


Americans Are Fleeing Religion and Republicans Are to Blame

Hospitals: Stop Suing Poor Patients

What a beheading feels like: The science, the gruesome spectacle — and why we can’t look away

Via ‘Decapitation may be one of the least tor­turous ways to die, but nonetheless it is thought to be painful. Many scientists believe that, however swiftly it is performed, decapitation must cause acute pain for a second or two.

Decapitation in one single motion draws its cultural power from its sheer velocity, and the force of the physical feat challenges that elusive moment of death, because death is presented as instantaneous even though beheadings are still largely inscrutable to science…

Beheading is an extremely bloody business, which is one of the reasons it is no longer used for state executions in the West, even though it is one of the most humane techniques available. Decapitation is faster and more predictable than death by hanging, lethal injection, electric shock or gassing, but the spectacle is too grim for our sensibilities.’