Hobson’s Choice

NewImageSam Hobson is a wildlife photographer with a twist. His focus is on the ‘invasive’ species that are colonizing urban spaces, e.g. red foxes (I have a family living on my street outside of Boston) and parakeets (whose populations are burgeoning in the air over cities like London, some say thanks to Jimi Hendrix releasing a mating pair sometime around 50 years ago to make the city more colorful!). Such arresting images often require painstaking groundwork.

Via Sam Hobson Photography

US fertility is dropping. Here’s why some experts saw it coming

 

NewImageThe recent drop in fertility brings the U.S. more in line with peer countries:

‘However, this recent decline fits with global trends and isn’t unprecedented in U.S. history. As a demographer who studies fertility trends, what strikes me as anomalous is not the recent drop, but the previous high fertility “bubble.”

The U.S. maintained surprisingly high fertility rates for a long time. After the baby boom of the 1950s and 1960s, fertility in the U.S. and other wealthy countries fell during the 1970s. However, the U.S. steadily rebounded, even as rates in most other wealthy countries stayed low or fell even lower….’

Via The Conversation

Bob Mueller’s White Hot Summer

NewImageFormer federal prosecutor Nelson Cunningham in Politico:

‘Special Counsel Robert Mueller may well be in the final stages of wrapping up his principal investigation. Last week, I argued here in Politico that Mueller will want to avoid interfering with the November midterms, and so will try to conclude by July or August. On this one we can believe Trump’s new lawyer, former prosecutor and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who claims Mueller’s target is September 1….’

It seems to me that wrapping up before the midterm elections stands a good chance of doing precisely the opposite, especially if the scenario is as he predicts in the article:

Mueller will not indict the president, but will issue a comprehensive and detailed report… Rod Rosenstein will decide to release the report to Congress and the public… Rosenstein’s move to release the Mueller report will lead to his firing and perhaps another Saturday Night Massacre… And this is when the Senate and the Congress might finally engage.

As for the political impact? All of this – the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation, the issuing of his report, the fight over its release and the fallout from a firing of Rosenstein – will play out loudly in public before November.

Quickly, “release the report” will become the central political axis of this political year. In these crowded months before November 6, we may see political tumult unseen since 1974. And just as then, the fate of a presidency may hang in the balance.

Massive Neutron Star Is the Definition of Extreme

NewImage‘New research published this week in the Astrophysical Journal describes one of the most massive neutron stars ever detected, an object containing 2.3 solar masses. Only one known neutron star tops it: a behemoth discovered seven years ago that weighed in at 2.4 solar masses. In total, out of the approximately 2,000 neutron stars known to astronomers, only four are more than two solar masses. Super-massive neutron stars are thus relatively rare, and they exist at the limits of what’s physically possible—making them exceptionally important objects of inquiry, both for astronomers and for particle physicists….’

Via Gizmodo

Are Plants Conscious?

NewImage‘Animal rights activists have done stellar work in foregrounding the question of creature-consciousness: no meat-eater is now ignorant of the fact that their food once lived, breathed, maybe nuzzled its kin in a blood-soaked slaughterhouse. Environmentalists have a harder go of it. Fracking footage will always be less upsetting than your average fast food expose: Plants, after all, can’t wail frantically as they’re mowed down by the millions. But does that mean they’re not conscious? Is it sensible, or desirable, to start anthropomorphizing crabgrass and dandelions, or are plants really as insensitive as we all instinctively assume?…’

Via Gizmodo