Shared posts

27 Sep 05:41

Fighting to Honor a Father’s Last Wish: To Die at Home

27 Sep 05:41

For Shanghai Jobs, Only ‘Normal Size’ Need Apply

25 Sep 13:46

Everything you need to know about the Shellshock Bash bug

22 Sep 15:06

Can you read a novel in three hours?

by Rob Boffard

Speed-reading a Man-Booker-shortlisted novel with help from an app called Spritz was a thrilling ride that left me in agony

Last week, I decided to perform an experiment. At midday precisely, I sat on my couch to see if I could knock off a Man-Booker-shortlisted novel by teatime.

Thats not as easy as it sounds. The book I picked was To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris at 110,000 words or so, its not particularly lengthy, but given that the average adult reader clocks in at between 250 and 300 words per minute (according to a 2012 study), it would still take around six hours to finish. And thats without considering the weighty subject matter: a Manhattan dentist dealing with a crisis of faith after a religious group steals his identity. Clearly, demolishing it by three or four oclock was somewhat ambitious.

Continue reading...
16 Sep 13:05

09/15/14 PHD comic: 'Statistics!'

Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Statistics!" - originally published 9/15/2014

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

18 Sep 10:39

Our Favorite Cliché: A World Filled with Idiots

19 Sep 19:57

How to Pull Off the Most Complex Taxidermy of All Time

by Nicholas Stango

How to Pull Off the Most Complex Taxidermy of All Time

Yesterday the American Museum of Natural History took the wraps off its newest main attraction: Lonesome George. Lonesome George, the world-famous giant tortoise native to the Galapagos. He passed on in 2012 of natural causes. This set in motion the process to preserve George through the most complex and intricate taxidermy ever attempted—from a species of one.


17 Sep 18:04

Popcorn Time 0.3.3 Released With Support For External Media Players And Chromecast, More

by (Andrew)
Popcorn Time 0.3.3 was released today and it comes with quite a few new features, including support for external players such as VLC, XBMC, MPlayer, mpv and others, Chromecast and Airplay support, 3 new themes and more.

Popcorn Time

As a reminder, Popcorn Time is an open source Netflix-style torrent streaming application for Linux, Windows and Mac. The application allows users to stream movies (with subtitles) and TV series at no cost, and that may be illegal in your country so make sure you read the disclaimer before using Popcorn Time!

The most important change in the latest Popcorn Time 0.3.3 is probably the option to play the videos using your favorite media player such as VLC, XMBC, MPlayer, mpv and more - this can be done from the video page, next to the "Watch Now" button:

Popcorn Time

Another interesting change in the latest Popcorn Time is synchronisation: Trakt will now remember your favorite videos for you so you won't lose your favorites if you use Popcorn Time on multiple computers or you remove its database.

Yet another change is the addition of themes support along with 3 new themes: Black & Yellow, Flat UI and Light - here's a screenshot with the new Light theme:

Popcorn Time

Besides the new features mentioned above, Popcorn Time 0.3.3 also includes the following changes:
  • a huge internal code clean up - unfortunately, because of this you most probably have to reset your DataBase on install;
  • use FontAwesome instead of PNG's: nicer, sharper icons across the UI;
  • get rid of white flash at startup;
  • cleaner settings layout;
  • HTTP Api - can be used to control Popcorn Time from another application;
  • new settings: always on top, start page option, ratings on covers, hide or fade watched items;
  • various UI improvements;
  • resize covers on-the-fly by pressing Ctrl+ and Ctrl- in the cover view;
  • open directly next unseen episode;
  • built-in help;
  • alpha Chromecast and Airplay support (I'm not sure about Airplay but it looks like for now, subtitles aren't supported with Chromecast).

Install Popcorn Time in Ubuntu 14.04 or 14.10, Linux Mint 17 or Debian

Important: before upgrading to Popcorn Time 0.3.3, remove your old Popcorn Time database or else the application won't work:
rm -r ~/.config/Popcorn-Time

To install Popcorn Time in Ubuntu / Linux Mint and derivatives, you can use the Popcorn Time WebUpd8 PPA. The PPA package automatically downloads Popcorn Time from its website and sets everything up for you.

Add the PPA and install Popcorn Time in Ubuntu 14.04 or 14.10 (the latest version does not work with Ubuntu 12.04!) / Linux Mint 17 by using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/popcorntime
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install popcorn-time

To install Popcorn Time from the WebUpd8 PPA repository in Debian, use the following commands:
su -
echo "deb trusty main" | tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/webupd8team-popcorntime.list
echo "deb-src trusty main" | tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/webupd8team-popcorntime.list
apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys EEA14886
apt-get update
apt-get install popcorn-time

Download Popcorn Time

Important: before upgrading to Popcorn Time 0.3.3, remove your old Popcorn Time database or else the application won't work:
rm -r ~/.config/Popcorn-Time

Download Popcorn Time (binaries available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X) | Popcorn Time source

Arch Linux users can install Popcorn Time via AUR: bin | latest stable | git
16 Sep 22:47

Emacs standing alone on a Linux Kernel

16 Sep 20:17

Pipes and Filters

12 Sep 04:00


Old people used to write obnoxious thinkpieces about how people these days always wear watches and are slaves to the clock, but now they've switched to writing thinkpieces about how kids these days don't appreciate the benefits of an old-fashioned watch. My position is: The word 'thinkpiece' sounds like a word made up by someone who didn't know about the word 'brain'.
08 Sep 18:41

How Languages Evolve: Explained in a Winning TED-Ed Animation

by Ayun Halliday

Language. It’s as adaptable as Darwin’s finches.

It’d be interesting to know how the Internet changes the game. Seems like it would go a long way toward democratizing the process by which lingo gets mingled.

Alex Gendler’s TED-Ed lesson, winningly animated by Igor Coric, rolls back the clock to a time when communal groups would subdivide and strike out on their own, usually in order to beef up the food supply.

This sort of geographic and temporal separation was bound to take a toll, linguistically. Evolution is need-based. Vocabulary and pronunciation eventually betray the specifics of the speaker’s surroundings, their circumstances and needs.

It takes some forensics to figure out how, or, even if, various languages relate to each other. A cunning linguist (forgive me) will also have the power to fill in historical gaps, by identifying words that have been borrowed from neighboring cultures, as well as more transient acquaintances.

As a little experiment, look at the way you talk! Those of us without royal blood or a stick up our heinies tend to speak a mongrel patois custom tailored by our own experience. A little bit of regionalism, some professional jargon, a few colorful words gleaned from life’s characters, lines from long ago entertainments deployed as if the references were fresh.

I’ll bet a linguist would have a field day with you, Bub.

Even if you’re the most straightforward conversationalist on the planet, the people who can’t understand a word you say would greatly outnumber those who can.

Maybe we  should all “speak Mandarin,” as per the billboards I saw in Singapore on a post-collegiate trip. (As a Western backpacker in Birkenstocks and a wrap-around hippie skirt, I was exempt, leaving me plenty of time to worry about being caned for spitting gum on the sidewalk, a thing I’d never do, by the way.)

Back to the animated lesson, above. While I agree that political and national interests can be hugely influential with regard to language development, I’m not sure a pig is the wisest choice when depicting this linguistic phenomenon as an animal’s worth of re-zoned primal cuts, labelled a la the former Yugoslavia.

Pork is haraam, and treif, and  ‘pig,’ in and of itself, is hardly a flattering epithet, a situation that’s sort of insulting to a naturally intelligent and fastidious beast.

I digress.

As does language, which explains why there could be as many as 8000 of them in use. A more conservative estimate puts the number at 3000. Not to alarm you, but if the number of people who speak your language is what the foodie hipsters of Brooklyn would refer to as “small batch,” there are linguists who would downgrade your tongue to mere dialect.

In which case, this list of obscene gestures from around the world might well come in handy.

Related Content:

Learn 48 Languages Online for Free: Spanish, Chinese, English & More

Ali G and Noam Chomsky Talk Linguistics

The Ideas of Noam Chomsky: An Introduction to His Theories on Language & Knowledge (1977)

Ayun Halliday’s highly idiosyncratic approach to language can be studied in seven books, a number of anthologies, and her long suffering zine, the East Village Inky. Follow her @AyunHalliday

How Languages Evolve: Explained in a Winning TED-Ed Animation is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post How Languages Evolve: Explained in a Winning TED-Ed Animation appeared first on Open Culture.

09 Sep 21:27

3 Short Walking Breaks Can Reverse Harm From 3 Hours of Sitting

by Soulskill
An anonymous reader writes: Medical researchers have been steadily building evidence that prolonged sitting is awful for your health. One major problem is that blood can pool in the legs of a seated person, causing arteries to start losing their ability to control the rate of blood flow. A new experimental study (abstract) has discovered it's quite easy to negate these detrimental health effects: all you need to do is take a leisurely, 5-minute walk for every hour you sit. "The researchers were able to demonstrate that during a three-hour period, the flow-mediated dilation, or the expansion of the arteries as a result of increased blood flow, of the main artery in the legs was impaired by as much as 50 percent after just one hour. The study participants who walked for five minutes for each hour of sitting saw their arterial function stay the same — it did not drop throughout the three-hour period. Thosar says it is likely that the increase in muscle activity and blood flow accounts for this."

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Read more of this story at Slashdot.

11 Sep 19:29

Woman of 24 found to have no cerebellum in her brain

11 Sep 18:05

My Day on the Emoji-Only Social Network, Translated (I Think)

by Ashley Feinberg

My Day on the Emoji-Only Social Network, Translated (I Think)

Words are dead. Grammar, syntax, nuance—all pointless when adorable cartoon sea animals can do the dirty work for us. At least, that's the world Emojli, an emoji-only social network, would like to envision. But after spending some time there, I am more than happy with my inanimate letters. For Emojli's future is a dark one, filled with nothing but loneliness and poop.


11 Sep 03:25

How the global banana industry is killing the world’s favorite fruit

09 Sep 17:57

Surprising Result of NYC Bike Lanes: Faster Traffic for Cars

by timothy
A report at says that the implementation of bike lanes in traffic-heavy New York City has one possibly non-intuitive result: car traffic was sped up as a result. The bike lanes have caused the lanes for cars to be narrowed, but as a result of the street redesign to accomodate bikes, one big change has especially helped to keep cars moving forward more steadily: Although narrower streets can slow traffic, that doesn't seem to have happened here — perhaps because traffic in this area was crawling at around 11 miles per hour to begin with. Instead, the narrower lanes were capable of handling just as much traffic, and one major improvement to intersection design helped them handle more, while also letting bikes travel more safely. This improvement was something called a pocket lane for left-hand turns: a devoted turning lane at most intersections that takes the place of the parking lane, which gets cars out of the way of moving traffic when they're making a left.

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Read more of this story at Slashdot.

09 Sep 07:00

The curious case of the cyclist’s unshaven legs

rafael nonato

about the need to replicate experiments

06 Sep 12:00

Música Brega | 35 canções pra se ouvir tomando cachaça

by Breno Airan

“Cara, cê tem uma banda de brega, certo?”.

Foi o que o Jader Pires colocou no meu chat, antes da hora do almoço, dia desses. Bem, tô na Brega Vadio mais por curiosidade musical e amizade que outra coisa. Sempre fui do Rock, então a coisa foi meio brusca pra mim.

Com o tempo, fui aprendendo a ver e entender a música com outros ouvidos. Certa feita, cheguei a ler por aí que “brega é o coração que nunca amou”. Que paulada! Mas é engraçado como este estilo é ainda taxado.

Pra mim, pelo menos, a música brega é o blues do Brasil — fala das coisas da vida e do mundo com uma sensibilidade semelhante àquela dos afroamericanos que colhiam algodão no sol do Mississipi.

Link YouTube | Dê o play e ouça todas as canções, uma seguida da outra

Trago aqui a nata e o que mais lembrei de cabeça. Então vamos à choradeira, porque todo dia é dia:

Bartô Galeno – “No Toca-Fitas do Meu Carro”


Pra começar os trabalhos com franqueza e as viradas de doses, uma canção pra nos fazer lembrar do(a) amado(a).

Link YouTube

Lairton e Seus Teclados – “Morango do Nordeste”

Regravada por vários artistas Brasil adentro, essa música é uma obra-prima do estilo.

Link YouTube

Amado Batista – “Princesa”

Essa é uma das maiores vozes bregas do Brasil. Amado Batista, tirando o Wando, deve ser o mais “amado” pelas mulheres. Suas letras fazem jus.

Link YouTube

Carlos Alexandre – “Arma de Vingança”

Pra ser sincero, conheci essa música esses dias. Um colega de trabalho só falou: “diga aí, se você fosse usado como arma de vingança para fazer ciúmes?”.

Link YouTube

Paulo Sérgio – “Última Canção”

De primeira, dá pra saber que a coisa é séria. É pra suspirar pelos poros todos.

Link YouTube

Sérgio Reis – “Coração de Papel”

Muita gente conhece o lado sertanejo do cantor Sérgio Reis. Mas ele teve outros bons momentos antes disso. E, sim, há brega na Jovem Guarda!

Link YouTube

Gillard – “Aquela Nuvem”

Essa canção é daquelas de levantar o copo, brindar e ficar quieto, ruminando a vida.

Link YouTube

Edvaldo Braga – “A Cruz Que Carrego”

O chamado “ídolo negro” tinha uma voz com presença e mandava o recado pros apaixonados.

Link YouTube

Falcão – “Ela Me Traiu Com o Resto das Camisinhas”

Essa foi a primeira que me veio à cabeça. Só pelo título, vale estar por aqui.

Link YouTube

Raul Seixas – “Tu És o MDC da Minha Vida”

Raulzito estava 10 mil anos à frente de seu tempo e gostava de misturar ritmos, lá em meados de 1970. Mexeu com rumba, elementos do candomblé, tango, baião, marchinhas de carnaval e, claro, brega.

Link YouTube

Alípio Martins – “Onde Andará Você”

O riff desse começo é marcante. A gente lembra logo do que se trata, mas não por onde anda. Nessa compilação, ainda vem “Festa dos Cornos”. Aproveitem…

Link YouTube

Márcio Greyck – “Impossível Acreditar Que Perdi Você”

Essa é a hora do coração apertar mais uma vez. Sem mais.

Link YouTube

Márcio Greyck – “Vivendo Por Viver”

Chorosa, essa música mostra um existencialismo sem igual.

Link YouTube

Fernando Mendes – “Você Não Me Ensinou a Te Esquecer”

Clássico supremo! É só cantar junto…

Link YouTube

José Augusto – “De Que Vale Ter Tudo na Vida”

Um brega swingado, tentando cingir o amor pelo pescoço.

Link YouTube

Diana – “Foi Tudo Culpa do Amor”

Diana é um baita clássico. Vivia pedindo perdão, sendo a voz de outrem.

Link YouTube

Diana – “Porque Brigamos”

Uma das divas da época, ela cantava os devaneios de se amar alguém e suas consequências.

Link YouTube

Jane & Herondy – “Não Se Vá”

As súplicas de amor num tom brando e musicado. Clássico!

Link YouTube

Vanusa – “Manhãs de Setembro”

Foi ela.

Link YouTube

Paulo Diniz – “Pingos de Amor”

Canção também conhecida pelo arranjo da banda Kid Abelha, eis a chuva que todos querem provar.

Link YouTube

César Sampaio – “Secretária na Beira do Cais”

Essa foi uma das primeiras que me peguei a tocar na banda. Senti a letra e o drama de como é viver tendo a profissão mais antiga do mundo.

Link YouTube

Reginaldo Rossi – “Leviana”

E, então, chega a hora: o Rei do Brega, o pernambucano Reginaldo Rossi.

Façamos então uma sequência. “Leviana” é clássico absoluto. Quem nunca teve uma (ou um devasso)?!

Link YouTube

Reginaldo Rossi – “Mon Amour, Meu Bem, Ma Femme”

Que tipo de veneno é gostoso de provar?

Link YouTube

Reginaldo Rossi – “Raposa e As Uvas”

Recriando a fábula de Esopo em fórmula de amor, Reginaldo tenta conquistar a todo custo um “broto”. Essencial!

Link YouTube

Reginaldo Rossi – “Garçom”

E, claro, a homenagem aos que nos suportam e nos aconselham, com destreza.

Link YouTube

Wando – “Fogo e Paixão”

Sucesso máximo da carreira do garanhão Wando. Quem não acompanha quando ele começa com aquele “Você é luz…”?

Link YouTube

Lindomar Castilho – “Camas Separadas”

O criador de “Você É Doida Demais”, traça aqui o desquite como a solução.

Link YouTube

Adelino Nascimento – “Toca o Telefone”

Fenomenal. “Pega o telefone, diz que me ama, diz que me adora! Não me engana. Você é tudo que eu mais quero, vem me escutar!”

Link YouTube

Odair José – “Cadê Você”


Uma das mais bonitas listadas aqui hoje. Pra chorar.

Link YouTube

Odair José – “Eu Vou Tirar Você Desse Lugar”

Ganhou certo status cult após o grupo Los Hermanos fazer uma versão. Mas essa é a número um de todos os bregas. A letra é muito forte.

Link YouTube

José Orlando – “Pistoleiro do Amor”

Essa me lembra muito a infância. E esse quê de lambada reforça a entrada na lista.

Link YouTube

Borba de Paula – “Eu Vou Pedir à Lua”

Quando alguém recorre ao nosso satélite, é porque a coisa tá braba.

Link YouTube

Carlos André – “Se Meu Amor Não Chegar”

“Hoje eu quebro essa mesa se essa música não tocar”.

Link YouTube

Nelson Ned – “Se as Flores Pudessem Falar”

O pequeno notável tinha jeito pro brega. Essa é uma prova.

Link YouTube

Waldick Soriano – “Dama de Vermelho”

O mestre Waldick canta as dores da separação, relatadas ao psicólogo de sempre.

Link YouTube


De quebra, ainda repasso um documentário lançado em 2011, com direção de Ana Rieper, para que os interessados entendem melhor a dinâmica deste estilo musical, o ótimo Vou Rifar Seu Coração.

Link YouTube

E coloco o espaço abaixo para sugestões, caso eu não tenha contemplado o gosto dos leitores por completo. Por favor, então vocês me emBREAGuem!

por Breno Airan

06 Sep 13:37

Voici pourquoi vos meubles Ikea ont l'air plus beaux en photos que dans votre salon

Vous vous êtes déjà demandé pourquoi les produits Ikea ont l'air beaucoup mieux en photo que dans votre appartement rempli de meubles de la marque suédoise? Un récent article de la revue spécialisée CGSociety révèle que 75% des images des produits Ikea ne sont pas des photographies de ces meubles aussi modiques que durs à monter, mais des images de synthèse. Dans cet article, Martin Enthed, le directeur informatique de l'agence de communication interne de l'entreprise (également responsable des tristement célèbres hiéroglyphes connus sous le nom de plans de montage) explique que Ikea a commencé à discuter de l'idée d'abandonner les photos traditionnelles pour des images de synthèse il y a environ une décennie. Le but initial n'était pas d'améliorer la qualité de l'image, a-t-il expliqué, mais de rationaliser la logistique de la production d'images et d'économiser une partie de l'argent consacré à construire et expédier des prototypes de meubles dans le monde entier pour qu'ils soient photographiés.

  Ikea a produit sa première image de synthèse de la chaise Bertil en 2006. En 2010, l'entreprise a crée une pièce entière en utilisant cette technique. En 2012, 12% de son catalogue et de ses photos en ligne étaient créées de cette façon, selon le Wall Street Journal. À l'époque où Ikea a décidé de prendre ce virage, son catalogue et son site étaient déjà très reconnaissables, explique Enthed, et l'entreprise était ... Lire la suite
04 Sep 17:42

Corporate random bullshit generator (cbsg)

curl -s | grep -Eo '^<li>.*</li>' | sed s,\</\\?li\>,,g | shuf -n 1

— by Genunix on Sept. 4, 2014, 3:44 p.m.


This one-liner will just use and grab one random corporate bullshit.
Good to use when deprecating command line tools in your corporation :-)

04 Sep 14:25

Tribler BitTorrent Client To Become Anonymous, Version 6.3.1 Released

by (Andrew)
A year after the previous release, a new Tribler version was released recently and it includes new features, bug fixes as well as work towards anonymous streaming (using a built-in Tor-like network).

Tribler 6.3.1 Ubuntu

For those not familiar with Tribler, this is an open source, decentralized peer-to-peer client based on the BitTorrent protocol, supported by EU and Dutch research funding. The application includes features such as wiki-style channels, video-on-demand (watch videos while you download them) and more and is available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.

Like other BitTorrent clients, Tribler features a search box you can use to find content however, the search results come directly from other peers, without using a central server and this makes it immune to government anti-piracy attacks (the application will continue to work if the torrent trackers are pulled offline), claims an article from

Anonymous BitTorrent

The Tribler team wants their application to use truly anonymous streaming with the help of a built-in Tor-like network which routes all data through a series of peers - "Tribler users then become their own Tor network helping each other to hide their IP-addresses through three encrypted proxies", notes TorrentFreak.

"Adding three layers of proxies gives you more privacy. Three layers of protection make it difficult to trace you. Proxies no longer need to be fully trusted. A single bad proxy can not see exactly what is going on.

The first proxy layer encrypts the data for you and each next proxy adds another layer of encryption. You are the only one who can decrypt these three layers correctly. Tribler uses three proxy layers to make sure bad proxies that are spying on people can do little damage."

Tribler Anonymous downloading
Automatic anonymous 50MByte test download using new Tor-like protocol / Tribler 6.3.1

Tribler doesn't anonymize streaming yet (except the 50mb test download included in this release). The plan is to achieve anonymous streaming with version 6.4 and anonymous seeding starting with version 6.5. Check out the Tribler roadmap and the "towards anonymity" page for details.

Tribler 6.3.1

The latest Tribler 6.3.1 includes various bits which should eventually lead to anonymous streaming in a future release:
  • Tor-like anonymous tunnel building, based on UDP;
  • Support for Cell,Create,Extend, and Ping Tor protocol messages;
  • Diffie-Hellman session key exchange;
  • Real-time crawler for bandwidth performance (inspired by;
  • decentralized directory service for Tor-like routers;
  • automatic anonymous 50MByte test download using new Tor-like protocol;
  • no general anonymous downloads yet, trial-only.

Besides this, the latest Tribler 6.3.1 includes the following changes:
  • A year of bug fixing, polishing and performance tweaking;
  • thumbnail navigation:
    • single-click streaming from main screen;
    • channels can now optionally be browsed by thumbnails;
    • Youtube-like GUI composed of user-generated images;
    • Prepares the way for remote control navigation & operation.
  • complete rewrite of the elastic database engine (the dispersy overlay):
    • use of Twisted frameworks instead of our custom event-handlers;
    • less reliance on master bootstrap servers (new discovery community);
    • improvements in NAT puncturing efficiency;
    • faster data synchronization between Tribler peers.

Install Tribler in Ubuntu / Linux Mint

The Tribler downloads page (see below) offers Ubuntu deb downloads however, to get automatic updates, I recommend using the WebUpd8 Tribler PPA. To add the PPA and install Tribler in Ubuntu 14.04 or 14.10 / Linux Mint 17 and derivatives, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/tribler
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tribler

Tribler is also available in the official Ubuntu (14.04+) repositories, but it's an older version.

Download Tribler

Download Tribler - binaries available for Ubuntu, Windows and Mac OS X (source files are also available)

Arch Linux users can install Tribler via AUR.
31 Aug 06:27 – Share files from your terminal or ssh

29 Aug 05:29

What People Cured of Blindness See

22 Aug 19:56

Istanbul Is Demolishing 3 New Skyscrapers to Preserve Its Iconic Skyline

by Sarah Zhang

Istanbul Is Demolishing 3 New Skyscrapers to Preserve Its Iconic Skyline

Behind the Blue Mosque in Istanbul rise three stumpy luxury apartment buildings, recently completed and sold—only to be ordered demolished. The ruling from Turkey's highest administrative court to tear down the skyscrapers to protect the city's iconic views is remarkable, if a bit ill-timed.


22 Aug 20:25

Functional mechanical gear discovered in nature (2013)

27 Aug 04:23

Show HN: Monitorbook – Easily track anything on the web

26 Aug 04:03

Marijuana Law Mayhem Splits U.S. In Two as Travelers Get Busted

23 Aug 10:10

Whale vaginas are amazing

by Cory Doctorow

Mammal penises, including those of cetaceans, are pretty easy to find, while vaginas are more difficult to examine; historically, accounts of animal reproduction have emphasized the features of penises and theories of sperm competition, but a burgeoning scientific emphasis on whale vaginas is revealing structures and strategies that are amazing and wonderful. Read the rest

19 Aug 19:18

Manul – the Cat that Time Forgot

by RJ Evans
Have you ever wanted to take a trip through time to see what animals looked like millions of years ago? When it comes to cats there is little or no need.  This beautiful specimen is a Manul, otherwise known as Pallas’s Cat.  About twelve million years ago it was one of the first two modern cats to evolve and it hasn’t changed since. The other species, Martelli’s Cat, is extinct so what you are looking at here is a unique window in to the past of modern cats.

Although the Manul is only the size of the domestic cat, reaching about 26 inches in length its appearance makes it appear somewhat larger.  It is stocky and has very lengthy, thick fur, which gives it, perhaps to human eyes, an unintentional appearance of feline rotundity.  Yet although it appears stout and somewhat ungainly it has a natural elegance and poise – exactly what you would expect from the genus Felis in other words.  Plus it can certainly look after itself in a fight!

The main reason for its survival throughout the ages has been its isolation. In the wild it lives on the Asian steppes at substantial heights – up to 13,000 feet.  Based in India, Pakistan, western China and Mongolia as well as Afghanistan and Turkemistan, it has even been discovered recently in the wilds of the Sayan region of Siberia. In these places it prefers rocky areas, semidesert and barren hillsides.  In other words places where we are less likely to live – but even having said that you will no doubt be able to hazard a guess which species is the Manul’s greatest enemy.

Take a close look at the eyes of the Manul.  Do you see a difference between it and the domestic cat? That’s right, the pupils of the Manul are round, not slit-like.  Proportionally too, the legs are smaller than cats we know and they can’t run anywhere near as quickly.  As for the ears, well, when you actually can catch sight of them they are very low and much further apart than you would see in a domestic cat.

It also has a much shorter face than other cats, which makes its face look flattened.  Some people, when they see their first Manus mistakenly believe that it is a monkey because of its facial appearance and bulky looking frame.  It is easier to see why, from some angles.

The Manus has not been studied a great deal in the wild, where it is classified as near threatened.  This is because it is distributed very patchily throughout its territory, not to mention the fact it is still hunted despite protection orders made by the various governments who create human law in its range. Before it was legally protected tens of thousands of Manuls were hunted and killed each year, mostly for their fur.

It is thought that the cat hunts mostly at dawn and dusk where it will feed on small rodents and birds. Ambush and stalking are their favorite methods of conducting a hunt and although they tend to shelter in abandoned burrows in the day they have been seen basking in the sun. In other words, behaviorally they are much like the domesticated moggy that we know and love.

The Manul is a solitary creature and individuals do not tend to meet purposefully when it is outside the breeding season and will avoid the company of others of its kind where possible. When it is threatened it raises and quivers the upper lip, Elvis like, revealing a large canine tooth.

When breeding does happen the male has to get in quickly as oestrus usually only lasts just under two days. It usually births up to six kittens, very rarely a single one, and it is believed that the size of its litters reflect the high rate of mortality the infant cats can expect. Yet they are expected to be able to hunt at sixteen weeks and are very much on their own and independent by six months. Although their life expectancy in the wild is unknown in captivity they have lived to over eleven years.

Don’t rush to your local pet store, however.  The Manul does not domesticate and even if it did they are incredibly hard to breed in captivity with many kittens dying.  This is thought to be because in the wild, due to its isolation, the cat’s immune system did not have a need to develop and so when they come in contact with us and other species, this under-developed immune system lets them down.

Yet as a living, breathing glimpse in to twelve million years of feline history these amazing animals are irreplaceable. Unique is a word which, in this day and age, is mightily overused. Yet these cats are quite simply just that – unique.