Monthly Archives: October 2018

A new paper confirms six subspecies of tigers, promoting conservation of the species (with some curmudgeonly comments on conservation genetics by Professor Ceiling Cat)

Why Evolution Is True

It’s a sad situation that the tiger (Panthera tigris), the world’s largest and arguably most magnificent wild cat, is heading towards extinction in nature. Fewer than 4,000 of them remain in the wild, and there are more in captivity than are roaming free in nature. Their current range is only 7% of the territory they occupied before humans killed them and destroyed their territory. Here, from Wikipedia, is a map of their present versus historical ranges. Sad, isn’t it?

One strategy for saving the tiger is to recognize subspecies, which are populations of the species that are recognizably different, either genetically (usually through inspection of DNA sequences) or through morphology (morphological differences, of course, often reflect genetic differences). Subspecies used to be called “races,” and still are by some people, but the term “race” is now in bad odor because of its past misapplication to our own…

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Bill Maher Responds to UC Berkeley Petition

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Author Event: Sara Vidal, Bella and Chaim, and some thoughts about the Pittsburg shooting

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Sometimes we in Australia wake up from untroubled dreams to news of awful events on the other side of the globe. So it is today with news of the anti-Seminitic massacre of worshippers in a synagogue in Pittsburg. There is no point in saying anything here about America and its obsession with guns, and even less point in saying anything about That Dreadful Man who fosters hate all around his country. Either America will deal with its evils or it won’t, and there is nothing any of us in The Rest of The World can do to change that, awful though it is.

But we can and should respond to anti-Semitic events like this by reminding ourselves that these atrocities begin in small ways, with words and actions that pass unremarked by people who fail to notice or who turn a blind eye.  By coincidence, I went yesterday to an…

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Peter Jackson on his new WW1 documentary film

I’m looking forward to seeing this film.

Utopia - you are standing in it!

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Apollo 11 lift-off

Why Evolution Is True

Here’s a high-speed film the Apollo 11 rocket, the Saturn 5, taking off on its way to the Moon on July 16, 1969.  We see 30 seconds of actual time, but it’s slowed down to last nearly 9 minutes by the filming, done at 500 frames per second. The lunar module landed on in the (British) evening four days later and then, six hours thereafter—roughly 3 a.m. UTC (formerly GMT)—Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the Moon. If you were alive then, as I was, you were watching it live.

I’m still amazed that humans could do this, but this bit, the launch, is new to me. The narration is really good.

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Edward Burne-Jones @ Tate Britain

Books & Boots

One aspect of being a successful artist is establishing a look, a style, a brand. This exhibition, the first devoted to Burne-Jones at Tate Britain since 1933, brings together over 150 objects including some of his greatest paintings, a roomful of drawings, wall-sized tapestries, even a grand piano he decorated – and they all go to prove that he established the ‘Burne-Jones look’ early on, and then stuck to it.

The Briar Wood (1874-8) by Edward Burne-Jones. The Faringdon Collection TrustThe Briar Wood (1874-8) Picture one in the Briar Rose series, by Edward Burne-Jones. The Faringdon Collection Trust

People sleeping and dreaming are his subjects. Even when supposedly awake, all his figures look as if they’re sleep-walking through the situations he places them in.

The figures are tall, statuesque, rather elongated. If nude, they have beautifully defined musculature, if clothed the men, in particular, are often wearing fascinatingly detailed armour, while the women wear long gowns whose convoluted folds are…

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Readers’ wildlife photos

Why Evolution Is True

Jacques Hausser of Switzerland sent some photos of puffins, noting “I would have had time to select additional photos, but I preferred to hear Svante Pââbo’s lecture. Interesting !” So be it! His notes are below:

Earlier this summer I sent you several photos of sea birds and waders from the Shetland. Probably because of my chronic distraction, I just forgot the really iconic (and really cute) species of these islands: the Atlantic Puffin, Fratercula arctica. “Fratercula” means little brother, or little monk. Probably due to changes in the abundance and distribution of their main food, the sand eels, the species has recently strongly plummeted, but not as dramatically as shown by some papers.

Proudly sitting in front of its burrow. They mostly use abandoned rabbit holes, (somebody told me they can actually expel the real owner), but can dig it themselves if necessary. Their curious and colorful…

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Shell, by Kristina Olsson #BookReview

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

As I wrote when I posted a Sensational Snippet from Kristina Olsson’s new novel Shell, I have fallen in love with this book so it’s not going to be easy to write an objective review.  I have mulled over the book for two days since I finished reading it, and I still feel a frisson of pleasure when I set eyes on it. It’s my Book of the Year, and it might even be the Book of the Decade, in the same way that Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance turned out to be a Book of the Decade, for me.

For starters, it is beautifully published.  Designed by Christabella Designs to mark the first book published by Scribner Australia (an imprint of Simon and Schuster), the hardback edition has creamy pale-pink textured boards imprinted with the same glorious image as the dustcover—it’s a photograph called Red Storm Day by Jean-Pierre…

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Rawls’s Distributive Justice | Political Philosophy with Jason Brennan

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Bill Clinton speaks out on Palestinian rejection of peace

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