Shared posts

15 Jul 15:11

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, James Tiptree Jr

by iansales

hersmokeHer Smoke Rose Up Forever, James Tiptree Jr (1990)
Review by Chris White

Now, I’ve done a bit of research, and apparently when you review a collection of short stories you have to review each individual story – I’m not going to do that. And it’s not only because I’m lazy – I actually don’t want to ruin any of these beautiful stories for you. You should buy this book, I’m not joking.

James Tiptree Jr was probably one of the best science fiction authors to have ever written. Why am I tagging a bloke called James Tiptree Jr in my year of reading women? Because James Tiptree Jr was actually Alice Sheldon, an intelligence agent for both the USAF and the CIA, who wrote as Tiptree to protect her professional career.

“It has been suggested that Tiptree is female, a theory that I find absurd, for there is to me something ineluctably masculine about Tiptree’s writing.” – Robert Silverberg

Tiptree’s work collected here deals with sex, and violence, and arousal, and death. From the tragic xenophobic xenophile of ‘And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side’ to the story that has haunted me since childhood – although I forgot the name of the author, I always remembered ‘Houston, Houston, Do You Read?’ to the sad, haunting victory of ‘With Delicate Mad Hands’. Yes, James Tiptree Jr was a master of titles.

I cannot recommend this collection highly enough, Her Smoke Rose Up Forever is a beautiful, moving exploration of humanity and of real science fiction – our humanity is exposed through our non-humanity, to each other and to the aliens that we conquer and subjugate in her stories. The cold hostility of humanity toward the conquered in ‘We Who Stole the Dream’ and to one another in ‘The Screwfly Solution’ are breath-taking, as is the beauty found in ‘Slow Music’.

What a beautiful collection. Equal parts terrifying, beautiful and tragic. Glorious science fiction.

“Passing in any crowd are secret people whose hidden response to beauty is the desire to tear it into bleeding meat.”

This review originally appeared on Chris White Writes.

15 Jul 00:14

Talcott Mountain Music Festival - The Music of Queen

Date(s): July 18, 2014

Address: Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows, Iron Horse Blvd., Simsbury, CT 06103.


Brody Dolyniuk, guest vocalist.

15 Jul 00:14

Osprey Cruise

Date(s): July 19, 2014

Address: Eagle Landing State Park,, Rte. 82, Haddam, CT 06438.


Observe and learn about the Osprey, a bird of prey also known as the fish hawk. This time of year, the baby Ospreys will be at the edge of the nest, thinking about taking their first flight. Nests are located along the lower Connecticut River, on day marker navigation aides, man-made nesting platforms and in trees. We will get close up views and also educate all on the Osprey and any other birds/wildlife we may see on our journey, including Bald Eagles.

14 Jul 01:13

Mark Your Calendars: In A Year, We'll Arrive At Pluto

It takes a long time to travel 3 billion miles. On July 14, 2015, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will finally get a flyby glimpse of the dwarf planet, as part of a mission launched in 2006.

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04 Jul 03:59

Search for Fireworks Cruise

Date(s): July 4, 2014

Address: Eagle Landing State Park,, Rte. 82, Haddam, CT 06438.


A relaxing evening cruise on the lower Connecticut River. Although there are no scheduled fireworks for this evening, we will “search” for any that may be displayed from homes along the edge of the river. We have had great luck the last couple of years. Bring your picnic basket and favorite beverage. Reservations required.

02 Jul 03:50

"Fiddler on the Roof"

Date(s): June 27-Sept. 7, 2014

Address: Goodspeed Opera House, 6 Main St., East Haddam, CT 06423.


The international musical sensation about love and tradition in the Russian village of Anatevka comes to Goodspeed for the first time in a richly embroidered 50th-anniversary production.

02 Jul 03:49

An Evening of International Fife and Drum

Date(s): July 12, 2014

Address: Rockwell Park, Jacob St. at Dutton Ave., Bristol, CT 06010.


Event features The Rhine River Rebels from Basel, Switzerland and the Swiss Association for Fifers and Drummers (STPV).

27 Jun 11:44

As Pig Virus Spreads, The Price Of Pork Continues To Rise

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has killed more than 7 million piglets in the past year. There's no cure, but a vaccine that may protect piglets has been approved even though it's still being tested.

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26 Jun 01:21

Your Wife

26 Jun 01:21

by Jessa Crispin

MDV_JE_NE_CROIS_PAS_AUX_PAYSAGES_1.jpgImage: Je ne crois pas aux paysages by Melanie Delattre-Vogt

I've been irked a lot lately by a certain conversational line through the Not All Men/Yes All Women stuff, which is that women can get laid any time they want to. (I'm a little behind on reading this stuff, but then no one expects me (I hope) to have any idea what is going on in the world at large. I just recently saw the video for "Pretty Hurts" and had no outlet for my outrage because everyone else watched that eight years ago and already had the conversation, I was going to get frothy and red faced and stompy while everyone else looked away embarrassed. But still! Outraged.)

If we're going to keep talking about spinsters, we should also talk about the ugly girls. The Unfuckable Girls. Two essential books in the ugly girl library: King Kong Theory and Baba Yaga Laid an Egg.

I am going to quote myself, which is obnoxious, but I've written on this subject before.

There are many lies you will hear when you're newly single. Your girlfriends — the ones that have been married since they were in their early 20s and can't have dinner without their husbands, meaning you are forever making reservations for three — will tell you that you'll find someone the minute you stop thinking about it. Of course they don't mean once you give up. The difference is the frequency with which you shave your legs, how long your ''Buy Ten Pedicures & Get One Free!'' card goes unpunched, and whether you allow yourself to be approachable on the subway or just bury your face in a book. Your (loving, well meaning) friends are setting up a Zeno-like paradox in which you are supposed to care enough to "turn on your inner light!" and actually brush your hair every day, and at the same time not care on a conscious level or be aware of the indifference of the male sex. After six months of Not Caring, if you lash out at their bullshit, well, that's is just proof that you do care and are thereby not following the rules. The other lie, which you will hear from your male friends, is that a woman can get laid whenever she wants. This is meant to be comforting, I think. A woman permits and denies access to sex, and all she has to do is want it bad enough. Bad enough to make the effort, of course. One can't just have a line of men appear on your doorstep just by trying to attract them all The Secret-like, although Craigslist can come in handy for that. But it, too, is a lie. There is such a thing as being unfuckable and female, whether because of weight or lack of femininity or age or poverty or that desperation you start to emit in waves after a few years without anyone trying to get into a dark corner. Because if you are unfuckable — and let's use the right word here — if you are a hag, you have no voice.

And speaking of being really out of date, coming soon: an essay I wrote about 50 Shades of Grey, holy shit I am not being sarcastic, that is a thing I did. I'll post here when it is published.

22 Jun 15:48

Do you ask the question that might save your child’s life?

by Tara Haelle

My oldest son recently turned 4 years old, and he’s gone to play several times at neighbors’ homes without my husband or I sticking around. He’s reaching that age when I might drop him off at a friend’s house for a few hours and then return to pick him up, trusting that during that time, he will be appropriately supervised by the friend’s parent. I’m not a naturally paranoid, suspicious or judgmental person, and I generally give others the benefit of the doubt even when they don’t get it as much from others.sample-4-unlocked

That said, I’m going to start asking one question of other parents that may eventually earn me some defensive, even angry, responses. But I’m going to ask it anyway: “Is there an unlocked gun anywhere in your home?”

I already expect to get some “It’s none of your business responses,” which I’ve seen mentioned on social media. But if that’s the response, my child won’t be playing at that home, and I will no longer trust that parent – because it IS my business whether an unlocked gun will be around in the environment where my child plays. It is EVERYONE’S business whether an unlocked gun is around, and it is EVERYONE’S responsibility to start asking this question, lest we continue to see tragic accidental, fatal shootings among children.

Today, June 21, is National ASK Day, sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatricians and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. I know the Brady Center is controversial among those who feel strongly about Second Amendment rights. I have studiously avoided policy and political commentary and topics on this blog, and I will continue to do so. This post does not express any opinion toward the Brady Center one way or another. It is not a political post. It’s a common sense post, and it’s definitely evidence-based.tweet-1-out-3

The ASK campaign reports that NINE children and teens are estimated to be shot each day in gun accidents. That may seem high, but you can run the numbers yourself at the CDC. I just ran a search for unintentional firearm deaths among those aged 19 and younger on the CDC’s Fatal Injury data site and then non-fatal unintentional firearm injuries.

In 2011, there were 140 deaths and 2,886 injuries, just over 8 per day for that particular year – and those are likely underestimates. Not all injuries are reported, and deaths that are first misclassified as homicide before being reclassified as accidents are often not re-reported as such.(Firearm injury tracking is one of the poorest data collections we have in the US, for many reasons, but that’s a post for another day.)

Even if I hadn’t run that report, however, my involvement the past two years with Parents Against Gun Violence (PAGV) has meant that I see news story after news story after news story (after news story after news story) – many more than most see on their Facebook, Twitter or RSS feeds – about children all over the US shot and killed by other children, by folks cleaning their guns, by dropped guns, by various other forms of negligence. It’s depressing. Really, really depressing.80-unintentional

It’s so depressing that PAGV has struggled with finding the manpower to continue updating our specialized “Formerly Responsible Gun Owner” blog, where these and other incidents are recorded. (This blog does not document only incidents involving children, but all the incidents explicitly involve previously (or still) law-abiding citizens who would have been considered “responsible gun owners” until the incident that occurred.) We have all the stories collected, but posting them requires someone to read each one, to read the details of incredibly tragic, preventable deaths.

I am willing to piss off a few fellow parents to reduce the likelihood that my son will become one of those. And that’s why I will ask them about guns in their home.

This campaign is not about shaming gun owners or having a problem with a person who owns guns. In fact, our home is a gun-owning home, and I grew up in a gun-owning (and hunting) home, on a block full of neighbors who owned guns. It’s estimated that one in every three homes contains a gun, but it’s only the ones left loaded and unlocked that are the problem here. This campaign is about ensuring that anyone who does own a gun has that gun securely locked up, preferably unloaded, and completely inaccessible to children and visitors.

The AAP has policy statement regarding firearms, which accurately states that the *most* effective way to reduce firearm-related injuries and deaths is to remove guns from homes and communities. For many reasons, many families will choose to own a gun, and in that case, the AAP recommends that all guns are stored unloaded and locked, preferably in a gun safe, with ammunition locked away separately.

1in3This next part is important – REALLY important: hiding guns is not good enough. Kids find stuff. They find things you wouldn’t imagine possible. They find stuff you thought you’d lost years ago. If there is a gun hidden in the home, they’re highly likely to find it, and they’re not likely to leave it alone. I’ve heard many gun owners claim that their children have been appropriately educated and trained to respect guns and not to touch one if they find it. But research – and this hidden camera experiment that is REALLY worth watching – have shown that kids can’t resist picking up and playing with a gun, *even if* they’ve been educated otherwise. Surprisingly, gun awareness and education sessions may actually *increase* a child’s likelihood of handling a gun when they find one. This is even true of teenagers and college students.

So, this blog post is to encourage other parents to ask. I recognize that it can be awkward or unpleasant. This article on Today Parents discusses how to broach the conversation. I’ve also included several infographics and tips below from the ASK campaign’s outstanding toolkit. I’m adding one of their website graphics to my site permanently. They also offer statistics, website banners and other ways parents can get involved. I encourage readers to explore their excellent site. I may periodically post their other resources on this blog. Also take the time to read this outstanding New York Times article on child gun deaths. And please, ask.




09 Jun 11:37

The window in the kitchen is open.

by Georgia Dunn


08 Jun 02:37

Low expectations, so I won’t feel guilty when I accomplish...

Low expectations, so I won’t feel guilty when I accomplish absolutely nothing all summer! :D

06 Jun 14:06

Guest Post: A math lesson in vaccines and infectious disease

by Tara Haelle

Today’s post is a guest post by Craig Egan, fearless fighter of anti-vaccine myths and misinformation. Craig tends to have a bit more bite and snark than I do in these posts, but he does an excellent job here of using math to break down exactly why it’s not ethical to choose not to vaccinate your children while claiming that you’re not putting others at risk.

Anti-vaccine advocates are always asking, “If vaccines work so well, why are you concerned about my unvaccinated kid? Aren’t yours protected?”

Original image by Lusi (Sanja Gjenero).

Original image by Lusi (Sanja Gjenero).

For this discussion, let’s leave out the usual list of people who cannot be vaccinated (such as those who are immuno-compromised or have a medical condition that contraindicates vaccination), the list of people the anti-vaccine advocates will callously consider not their problem. Let’s not get into the idea that maybe it’s okay for me to worry about their kids too, kids who, through no fault of their own, are the poker chips these parents are wagering while they confidently try to call a bluff on virtually every expert on the planet. Let me, for a moment, be as thoughtless and selfish as they are, and answer the question being asked: Is their unvaccinated child putting my child at risk, if the vaccines I believe in work so damn well?

No. Probably not. But they are putting somebody’s vaccinated child at risk.

Let’s do some real simple math here. The variables for infection rates and vaccine effectiveness vary by disease, and the equations get pretty complicated as they interact with each other, so I’m going to round off and keep it as simple as possible. Statistically, if you expose 100 unvaccinated people to measles, 90 of them will catch it. If you expose 100 people who have had one dose of the vaccine, 5 of those partially vaccinated people will still catch measles. If you expose 100 people who have had two doses of the vaccine, 1 of those fully vaccinated people will still catch measles. Those are the numbers, roughly. Different diseases are different. Measles is on the extreme end of both factors: It is extremely contagious, but the vaccine also works extremely well.

Let’s say a child goes on a trip to some exotic place where measles is common due to low vaccination, like India or Southern California. If that child comes in contact with measles, an unvaccinated child will almost certainly (90% chance) catch the disease, where a vaccinated child will almost certainly not (1% chance) catch the disease. The vaccinated child comes back from his vacation with a statue of Vishnu or some Mickey Mouse ears, while the unvaccinated child comes back as Patient Zero.

Let’s assume the kid has become contagious before returning from his trip. He gets on a Boeing 737 with 200 other people. Even if every single person on that flight is vaccinated, 2 of them will contract measles. Anyone who is unvaccinated will almost certainly (90% chance) catch it. You go through the airport, get your luggage, and possibly infect a few more on the way.

Monday comes around, and it’s time to go back to school. Let’s go with the national average, and say 90% of the students are vaccinated, and that child comes in contact with 500 students. Of the 50 students that are unvaccinated, 45 of them will catch measles. Out of the 450 students that are fully vaccinated, 4 of them will still catch measles.

You can adjust these numbers how you see fit: for how infectious the disease is, how effective the vaccine is, or how many people the child will come in contact with, but you will never come to an equation that justifies this kind of reckless endangerment.

I think we can stop there, and not get into shopping malls, taking a subway, visiting our newborn cousin in the hospital, etc. And we still have that list of people who cannot be vaccinated that I generously ignored for this exercise, but sure as anything would not be ignored when one of them died in the real world.

Statistically speaking, my kids are a hundred times more likely to be one of the 446 vaccinated children at that school who were protected than the unlucky 4 the vaccine did not work for. So yeah, I guess you got me there. I’m not worried your unvaccinated child is going to infect mine. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be pissed on behalf of the 49 students your bluff call did infect. I can be concerned about the people on the plane you infected who went off and started their own school outbreaks. And I can do everything possible to hold you accountable for the damage you’ve caused for absolutely no good reason. When you try to call a bluff like that and are wrong, you are expected to pay up.

03 Jun 14:28

Presidential Memorandum -- Response to the Influx of Unaccompanied Alien Children Across the Southwest Border

by The White House


SUBJECT: Response to the Influx of Unaccompanied Alien Children Across the Southwest Border

The influx of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) across the southwest border of the United States has resulted in an urgent humanitarian situation requiring a unified and coordinated Federal response. Accordingly, I have directed the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) to establish an interagency Unified Coordination Group to ensure unity of effort across the executive branch in responding to the humanitarian aspects of this situation, consistent with the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5 (Management of Domestic Incidents)(HSPD-5), including coordination with State, local, and other nonfederal entities. The Secretary shall establish and manage this Unified Coordination Group consistent with the authorities in 6 U.S.C. 111(b)(1)(D), 112(a)(3), 112(b)(1), 112(c), and HSPD-5. The Secretary has advised me that he will direct the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Administrator), subject to the oversight, direction, and guidance of the Secretary, to serve as the Federal Coordinating Official who shall lead and coordinate the Unified Coordination Group consistent with the functions of the Administrator pursuant to 6 U.S.C. 313, 314(a)(1) and (10). As the Federal Coordinating Official, the Administrator (or his designee) shall lead and coordinate Federal response efforts to ensure that Federal agency authorities and the resources granted to the departments and agencies under Federal law (including personnel, equipment, supplies, facilities, and managerial, technical, and advisory services) are unified in providing humanitarian relief to the affected children, including housing, care, medical treatment, and transportation. The Administrator shall execute these responsibilities consistent with all applicable laws and regulations, including legal requirements governing the appropriate care and custody of UAC.

Nothing in this memorandum alters, or impedes the ability to carry out, the authorities of Federal departments and agencies to perform their responsibilities under law. All Federal departments and agencies are directed to provide their full and prompt cooperation, resources, and support, as appropriate and consistent with their own responsibilities for addressing this situation, and shall cooperate with the Secretary and the Federal Coordinating Official to ensure a unified Federal response. The Secretary shall lead the coordination of the Federal response to this urgent humanitarian situation and other departments and agencies supporting this effort shall provide support to address this situation as appropriate and to the extent permitted by law.

This memorandum does not obligate any agency to reimburse another agency for the resources used to address the UAC humanitarian situation nor does it limit the use of the Economy Act (31 U.S.C. 1535), as appropriate.


02 Jun 22:41

Women in Chicago being arrested for wearing one piece bathing...

Women in Chicago being arrested for wearing one piece bathing suits, without the required leg coverings. 1922 (x) (x)
29 May 01:35

The non-links involving mental illness, autism and violence

by Tara Haelle

In a bit of a departure from this blog’s usual fare, I feel an obligation to share something I posted to my Facebook feed, along with a list of highly recommended links. A version of this post is also published on the blog of Parents Against Gun Violence, a group I co-founded with six other parents after the Newtown shooting, and on my more personal hodgepodge blog Tara Incognita.

Learn. Repeat. Share.

1) Asperger syndrome is not a mental illness. It is a developmental disorder.

2) Asperger syndrome is not associated with violence. At all. In any way. In fact, someone with Asperger syndrome is far *less* likely to commit a violent crime than someone without it.

3) A person who commits mass murder is not automatically/by default mentally ill (much as some might wish it so).

4) The mentally ill are many times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime than the non-mentally ill, and they are statistically less likely to be a perpetrator.

5) Drawing spurious armchair-diagnosing conclusions about a person’s mental health and his or her violent acts, without evidence, harms the mentally ill.

Added, per edits suggested by Liz Ditz: Persons with developmental disabilities are more likely to be the victim of a crime than those without developmental disabilities. They are also statistically less likely to be a perpetrator than others are. And drawing spurious armchair-diagnosing conclusions about a person’s developmental status and his or her violent acts also harms those with developmental disabilities.

“All features that characterize Asperger’s syndrome can be found in varying degrees in normal population.” – Lorna Wing, 1981, a quote provided by Steve Silberman


In addition to worrying about our children’s health and making the right decisions with regards to ear infections and vaccines and sleep and the such, we parents obviously have a pretty hefty responsibility in teaching our children how to think about the world and other people in it. That includes helping them understand, interact with and think about people who are different from them, including differences in physical health, mental health and developmental disabilities, such as having autism.

When tragedies occur, we must also help children process the event and provide them with the appropriate lenses through which to see the incident, if not understand it since such things are rarely truly “understood.” It is absolutely essential that in doing these two things, we do not allow our children to absorb inaccurate and damaging ideas, propagated by an irresponsible media machine and blogosphere as well as countless Internet comments, about links between those disabilities and such violent acts when no evidence exists for such a link.

Following the Newtown shootings, and now following this most recent shooting in Santa Barbara, the news has been contaminated with bogus connections between the shootings and the mental and/or developmental status of the shooter. The former can certainly be relevant when kept in context and when confirmed (rather than springing from online amateur armchair-diagnosing). The latter – developmental status – is irrelevant.

There were reports that Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, had Asperger syndrome, which actually no longer “officially” exists in the new DSM-5 but is nevertheless considered on the spectrum of autism disorders. That diagnosis has since been legitimately questioned, but even if true, it is not relevant to his committing a crime. Now the Santa Barbara shooter has been supposedly labeled with Asperger syndrome by his family’s attorney, who then retracted the statement and then clarified in an LA Times story: “Astaire said Elliot had not been diagnosed with Asperger’s but the family suspected he was on the spectrum, and had been in therapy for years. He said he knew of no other mental illnesses, but Elliot truly had no friends, as he said in his videos and writings.”

1010592_495724187166238_435361941_nNote that the writer here erroneously wrote “no other mental illnesses,” as though Asperger syndrome were a mental illness. It’s not. Further, any news articles which speculate on Elliot Rodger’s mental health history would be violating the new guidelines issued by the Associated Press following the Newtown shooting. Such speculation, as that link explains, is further stigmatizing and damaging to those with mental illness, who commit only about 4% of all violent crimes. That speculation is also damaging and stigmatizing to those with developmental disabilities, such as autism, when the developmental disorder is inappropriately linked to violent crimes.

As I wrote above and on my Facebook timeline, Asperger syndrome and/or autism spectrum disorders are NOT mental illnesses. They are also NOT linked to violence. Mental illness is NOT linked to violent crime in and of itself. That does not mean we should ignore the mental health status of mass shooters, nor does it mean we do not need better mental health services in this country (we do), but we should also pay attention to the only common denominator that IS evident in these incidents – that they are carried out with the same instruments. For example, the presence of a gun in the home greatly increases the risk of a violent death in that home. Hence my involvement with Parents Against Gun Violence.

Folks with much more knowledge and information that I have on this topic have already written about it at length, so I’ve provided below some essential reading when it comes to the intersection (or lack thereof) of mental illness, autism and violence. Emily Willingham, in particular, has written some of the best pieces on this, including this, just days before the Santa Barbara shooting:

“Evidence-based studies examining established commonalities among people who commit crimes like this can be enlightening, but wild speculation and retrospective diagnosing do nothing useful and can cause considerable harm to law-abiding people who carry any of these labels, whether autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or others that have been suggested. Autistic people are people, and like other people, some tiny percentage of them can engage in violent behaviors, although overall, they “almost never” target anyone outside their families, plan the violence, or use weapons. There is no single or even group of diagnoses that explains or predicts the horrific behavior of mass murderers. And some unsupported assumptions about autism–such as the continued canard that autistic people lack empathy (they do not) – help no one and certainly don’t guide us to way to prevent such tragedies.”

A similar piece about the same irresponsible study was written by an autistic disability rights activist.

The same activist also discussed the inappropriateness of linking the Santa Barbara shooting with Asperger syndrome or autism.

Dr. Willingham discusses the inaccurate beliefs that autistics do not have empathy and that they are dangerous.

An excellent piece from a father about many of the misunderstandings about Asperger’s.



The disabled, including autistics, are more likely to be the victim of sexual assault than the non-disabled.

This study shows that those with autism spectrum disorders and/or obsessive compulsive disorder are less likely to commit a violent crime than typically developing individuals.

A statement from the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee at the US Department of Health and Human Services: “There is no scientific evidence linking ASD with homicides or other violent crimes. In fact, studies of court records suggest that people with autism are less likely to engage in criminal behavior of any kind compared with the general population, and people with Asperger syndrome, specifically, are not convicted of crimes at higher rates than the general population (Ghaziuddin et al., 1991, Mouridsen et al., 2008, Mouridsen, 2012).”

This excellent fact sheet provides the evidence for the following statements:

  • The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent.
  • The public is misinformed about the link between mental illness and violence.
  • Inaccurate beliefs about mental illness and violence lead to widespread stigma and discrimination
  • The link between mental illness and violence is promoted by the entertainment and news media.

Other facts available at the Twitter hashtag #autismfacts.

29 May 01:33

The Joys of Motherhood

by tga


26 May 13:55

Bobbins for May 26rd 2014


Bobbins fills in this week while I move house. Apologies for the interruption!

25 May 02:35

Happy (belated) World Turtle Day! Here’s a comic I made a...

Happy (belated) World Turtle Day! Here’s a comic I made a few years ago after a herpetology class. It’s the season for turtles crossing the road for amorous and familial reasons. Here’s what to do if you find one. Key points: don’t grab them by the tail, don’t turn them back from whence they came, exercise caution with snappers, and resist the urge to scritch them under their adorable little turtly chins. (Ok, that last one is mine.)

24 May 03:10

1 Hour of Sunlight Gives This Solar-Powered Watch 3 Months of Battery Life

by Sara Barnes

Q&Q SmileSolar watches allow you to harness the power of the sun on your wrist while looking good at the same time. These bright and fashionable accessories are solar-powered and now available to the worldwide market with a price tag that won’t make you cringe. For only $40, you can own one of these eco-friendly watches and feel good knowing that a portion of the proceeds are donated to Table for Two, an organization that delivers school meals to children in Africa and Asia.

Technically, the watch transform the sun’s rays into energy using a razor-thin solar panel hidden around the inside rim of the casing. An hour of sunlight gives the SmileSolar about three months of battery life, so it’s easy to keep it properly charged. They come in a variety of color and pattern combinations that are sure to accent any outfit. Katy Perry seemed to think so - a SmileSolar watch was recently featured in her music video, Birthday.

Q&Q SmileSolar website
via [Inhabitat]

24 May 03:09

Sushi's Secret: Why We Get Hooked On Raw Fish

We love raw seafood but can't stand uncooked fowl or pork. Why? A big part of it is the effective lack of gravity in water, a scientist says. Weightlessness gives fish muscles a smooth, soft texture.

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24 May 03:07

Organic Cat Litter Chief Suspect In Nuclear Waste Accident

The release of plutonium at a New Mexico nuclear dump may have been caused by a bad purchase at the pet shop.

» E-Mail This

16 May 11:42

Medicine Needs More Research On Female Animals, NIH Says

A bias toward using male lab animals and tissue samples from males may be limiting the effectiveness of medical research, according to top officials at NIH. They'll roll out new guidelines this fall.

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14 May 03:42

Bad Machinery for May 13th 2014


A lot of readers have asked about THE WHOM.

12 May 11:41

Bird Banding Demonstration

Date(s): May 17, 2014

Address: Indian Rock Nature Preserve, 501 Wolcott Rd. (Rte. 69), Bristol, CT 06010.


Bird banding is a research technique that helps scientists keep track of the health of bird populations and learn more about their movements and habitat preferences.  Data is recorded, bird fitted with a numbered band, and then let go back in the wild.  Laurie Fortin has over 20 years experience from the United States and Central America.

10 May 11:42

Bobbins for May 10th 2014


And this is why I don't have coworkers over for dinner. Or anything.

08 May 14:20

Things I Learned as a Field Biologist #726


Being in the field for an extended period of time may give one a slightly lower threshold of disgust than is typical. This will often run afoul of the local standards and decorum upon your return home.

There may come a time, for example, when - freshly back from the field (five months in the Amazon, to be precise) and having moved into a new apartment in Brooklyn with your ex-boyfriend’s best friend’s soon-to-be ex-husband (because that’s the way you used to roll) - you receive a panicked phone call from your new roommate.

Far-fetched as it may sound, he is having a mild anxiety attack because he has inadvertently clogged your toilet… and he doesn’t know what do.

Pay attention now… this is the only way to respond:

Tell him to hold on.

Take the subway back down to Brooklyn.

Climb the four flights of stairs up to your apartment.

Walk in the door (authoritatively; you are making a point).

Find your roommate.

Escort him to the bathroom.

Put on your best “this-is-how-we-do-it face”, and then reach directly into the urine-filled, feces-encrusted bowl and pull out the offending clog with your bare fist.

Perhaps your ex-boyfriend’s best friend’s soon-to-be ex-husband will be impressed. Perhaps he will just be horrified. Either way, he will thank you profusely.

And never again will he call you home early from Manhattan. For anything.

So yeah, germophobes… I’m ok with them.

I’ve even lived with them.

I’m just not one of them.

06 May 14:56

FACT SHEET: What Climate Change Means for Regions across America and Major Sectors of the Economy

by The White House

…Science, accumulated and reviewed over decades, tells us that our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind…those who are already feeling the effects of climate change don’t have time to deny it—they’re busy dealing with it.”

-- President Barack Obama, Remarks at Georgetown University, June 25, 2013.

Today, delivering on a major commitment in the President’s Climate Action Plan, the Obama Administration is unveiling the third U.S. National Climate Assessment—the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever generated of climate change and its impacts across every region of America and major sectors of the U.S. economy.

The findings in this National Climate Assessment underscore the need for urgent action to combat the threats from climate change, protect American citizens and communities today, and build a sustainable future for our kids and grandkids.

Developed over four years by hundreds of the Nation’s top climate scientists and technical experts—and informed by thousands of inputs from the public and outside organizations gathered through town hall meetings, public-comment opportunities, and technical workshops across the country, the third National Climate Assessment represents the most authoritative and comprehensive knowledge base about how climate change is affecting America now, and what’s likely to come over the next century.

And, for the first time, to ensure that American citizens, communities, businesses, and decision makers have easy access to scientific information about climate change impacts that are most relevant to them, the U.S. National Climate Assessment is being released in an interactive, mobile-device-friendly, digital format on

Today’s announcement is a key deliverable of the Climate Action Plan launched by President Obama last June—which lays out concrete steps to cut carbon pollution, prepare America’s communities for climate-change impacts, and lead international efforts to address this global challenge. The Plan acknowledges that even as we act to reduce the greenhouse-gas pollution that is driving climate change, we must also empower the Nation’s communities, businesses, and individual citizens with the information they need to cope with the changes in climate that are already underway.

Climate-Change Impacts in Regions across America:

Northeast – Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and District of Columbia: Sixty-four million people are concentrated in the Northeast. The high-density urban coastal corridor from Washington, DC, north to Boston is one of the most developed environments in the world, containing a massive, complex, and long-standing network of supporting infrastructure. The Northeast also has a vital rural component.” Communities in the Northeast “are affected by heat waves, more extreme precipitation events, and coastal flooding due to sea level rise and storm surge.” (NCA Highlights: Northeast; NCA Highlights: Overview)

Southeast and Caribbean –Virginia, W. Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, S. Carolina, N. Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and the Caribbean Islands: The Southeast and Caribbean region “is home to more than 80 million people and some of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas… The Gulf and Atlantic coasts are major producers of seafood and home to seven major ports that are also vulnerable. The Southeast is a major energy producer of coal, crude oil, and natural gas.” “Decreased water availability, exacerbated by population growth and land-use change, causes increased competition for water in this region. There are also increased risks associated with extreme events such as hurricanes.” (NCA Highlights: Southeast & Caribbean; NCA Highlights: Overview)

Midwest – Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin: “The Midwest’s agricultural lands, forests, Great Lakes, industrial activities, and cities are all vulnerable to climate variability and climate change.” “Longer growing seasons and rising carbon dioxide levels increase yields of some crops, although these benefits have already been offset in some instances by occurrence of extreme events such as heat waves, droughts, and floods.” (NCA Highlights: Midwest; NCA Highlights: Overview

Great Plains – Wyoming, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas: The Great Plains region “experiences multiple climate and weather hazards, including floods, droughts, severe storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and winter storms. In much of the Great Plains, too little precipitation falls to replace that needed by humans, plants, and animals. These variable conditions already stress communities and cause billions of dollars in damage. Climate change will add to both stress and costs.” “Rising temperatures lead to increased demand for water and energy and impacts on agricultural practices.” (NCA Highlights: Great Plains; NCA Highlights: Overview)

Southwest – California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado: “The Southwest is the hottest and driest region in the United States. Climate changes pose challenges for an already parched region that is expected to get hotter and, in its southern half, significantly drier. Increased heat and changes to rain and snowpack will send ripple effects throughout the region… and its critical agriculture sector.” “Drought and increased warming foster wildfires and increased competition for scarce water resources for people and ecosystems.” (NCA Highlights: Southwest; NCA Highlights: Overview)

Northwest – Idaho, Oregon, and Washington: “The Northwest’s economy, infrastructure, natural systems, public health, and agriculture sectors all face important climate change related risks. Impacts on infrastructure, natural systems, human health, and economic sectors, combined with issues of social and ecological vulnerability, will unfold quite differently in largely natural areas, like the Cascade Range, than in urban areas like Seattle and Portland or among the region’s many Native American Tribes.” “Changes in the timing of streamflow related to earlier snowmelt reduce the supply of water in summer, causing far-reaching ecological and socioeconomic consequences.” (NCA Highlights: Northwest; NCA Highlights: Overview)

Alaska: “Over the past 60 years, Alaska has warmed more than twice as rapidly as the rest of the United States…The state’s largest industries, energy production, mining, and fishing—are all affected by climate change.” “Rapidly receding summer sea ice, shrinking glaciers, and thawing permafrost cause damage to infrastructure and major changes to ecosystems. Impacts on Alaska Native communities increase.” (NCA Highlights: Alaska; NCA Highlights: Overview)

Hawaii and Pacific Islands: The U.S. Pacific Islands region “includes more than 2,000 islands spanning millions of square miles of ocean. Rising air and ocean temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, changing frequencies and intensities of storms and drought, decreasing streamflows, rising sea levels, and changing ocean chemistry will threaten the sustainability of globally important and diverse ecosystems…as well as local communities, livelihoods, and cultures.” “Increasingly constrained freshwater supplies, coupled with increased temperatures, stress both people and ecosystems and decrease food and water security.” (NCA Highlights: Hawaii and the Pacific Islands; NCA Highlights: Overview)

Coasts: “More than 50% of Americans – 164 million people – live in coastal counties, with 1.2 million added each year... Humans have heavily altered the coastal environment through development, changes in land use, and overexploitation of resources. Now, the changing climate is imposing additional stresses...” “Coastal lifelines, such as water supply infrastructure and evacuation routes are increasingly vulnerable to higher sea levels and storm surges, inland flooding, and other climate-related changes.” (NCA Highlights: Coasts; NCA Highlights: Overview)

Climate-Change Impacts on Key Sectors of Society and the U.S. Economy

Health: “Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including through impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, decreased air quality, threats to mental health, and illnesses transmitted by food, water, and disease carriers such as mosquitoes and ticks. Some of these health impacts are already underway in the United States. Climate change will, absent other changes, amplify some of the existing health threats the Nation now faces. Certain people and communities are especially vulnerable, including children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, and some communities of color. Public health actions, especially preparedness and prevention, can do much to protect people from some of the impacts of climate change. Early action provides the largest health benefits.” (NCA Highlights: Human Health)

Transportation: “The impacts from sea level rise and storm surge, extreme weather events, higher temperatures and heat waves, precipitation changes, Arctic warming, and other climatic conditions are affecting the reliability and capacity of the U.S. transportation system in many ways. Sea level rise, coupled with storm surge, will continue to increase the risk of major coastal impacts on transportation infrastructure, including both temporary and permanent flooding of airports, ports and harbors, roads, rail lines, tunnels, and bridges. Extreme weather events currently disrupt transportation networks in all areas of the country; projections indicate that such disruptions will increase. Climate change impacts will increase the total costs to the Nation’s transportation systems and their users, but these impacts can be reduced through rerouting, mode change, and a wide range of adaptive actions.” (NCA Highlights: Transportation)

Energy: “Extreme weather events are affecting energy production and delivery facilities, causing supply disruptions of varying lengths and magnitudes and affecting other infrastructure that depends on energy supply. The frequency and intensity of certain types of extreme weather events are expected to change. Higher summer temperatures will increase electricity use, causing higher summer peak loads, while warmer winters will decrease energy demands for heating. Net electricity use is projected to increase. Changes in water availability, both episodic and long-lasting, will constrain different forms of energy production. In the longer term, sea level rise, extreme storm surge events, and high tides will affect coastal facilities and infrastructure on which many energy systems, markets, and consumers depend. As new investments in energy technologies occur, future energy systems will differ from today’s in uncertain ways. Depending on the character of changes in the energy mix, climate change will introduce new risks as well as new opportunities.” (NCA Highlights: Energy Supply and Use)

Water: “Climate change affects water demand and the ways water is used within and across regions and economic sectors. The Southwest, Great Plains, and Southeast are particularly vulnerable to changes in water supply and demand. Changes in precipitation and runoff, combined with changes in consumption and withdrawal, have reduced surface and groundwater supplies in many areas. These trends are expected to continue, increasing the likelihood of water shortages for many uses. Increasing flooding risk affects human safety and health, property, infrastructure, economies, and ecology in many basins across the United States… Increasing resilience and enhancing adaptive capacity provide opportunities to strengthen water resources management and plan for climate-change impacts.” (NCA Highlights: Water)

Agriculture: “Climate disruptions to agriculture have been increasing and are projected to become more severe over this century. Some areas are already experiencing climate-related disruptions, particularly due to extreme weather events. While some U.S. regions and some types of agricultural production will be relatively resilient to climate change over the next 25 years or so, others will increasingly suffer from stresses due to extreme heat, drought, disease, and heavy downpours. From mid-century on, climate change is projected to have more negative impacts on crops and livestock across the country – a trend that could diminish the security of our food supply… Climate change effects on agriculture will have consequences for food security, both in the U.S. and globally, through changes in crop yields and food prices and effects on food processing, storage, transportation, and retailing. Adaptation measures can help delay and reduce some of these impacts.” (NCA Highlights: Agriculture)

Ecosystems: “Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being affected by climate change. The capacity of ecosystems to buffer the impacts of extreme events like fires, floods, and severe storms is being overwhelmed. Climate change impacts on biodiversity are already being observed in alteration of the timing of critical biological events such as spring bud burst, and substantial range shifts of many species. In the longer term, there is an increased risk of species extinction. Events such as droughts, floods, wildfires, and pest outbreaks associated with climate change (for example, bark beetles in the West) are already disrupting ecosystems. These changes limit the capacity of ecosystems, such as forests, barrier beaches, and wetlands, to continue to play important roles in reducing the impacts of extreme events on infrastructure, human communities, and other valued resources… Whole-system management is often more effective than focusing on one species at a time, and can help reduce the harm to wildlife, natural assets, and human well-being that climate disruption might cause.” (NCA Highlights: Ecosystems)

Oceans: “Ocean waters are becoming warmer and more acidic, broadly affecting ocean circulation, chemistry, ecosystems, and marine life. More acidic waters inhibit the formation of shells, skeletons, and coral reefs. Warmer waters harm coral reefs and alter the distribution, abundance, and productivity of many marine species. The rising temperature and changing chemistry of ocean water combine with other stresses, such as overfishing and coastal and marine pollution, to alter marine-based food production and harm fishing communities… In response to observed and projected climate impacts, some existing ocean policies, practices, and management efforts are incorporating climate change impacts. These initiatives can serve as models for other efforts and ultimately enable people and communities to adapt to changing ocean conditions.” (NCA Highlights: Oceans)

Climate Trends in America

Temperature: “U.S. average temperature has increased by 1.3°F to 1.9°F since record keeping began in 1895; most of this increase has occurred since about 1970. The most recent decade was the Nation’s warmest on record. Temperatures in the United States are expected to continue to rise. Because human-induced warming is superimposed on a naturally varying climate, the temperature rise has not been, and will not be, uniform or smooth across the country or over time.” (NCA Highlights: Climate Trends)

Extreme Weather: There have been changes in some types of extreme weather events over the last several decades. Heat waves have become more frequent and intense, especially in the West. Cold waves have become less frequent and intense across the Nation. There have been regional trends in floods and droughts. Droughts in the Southwest and heat waves everywhere are projected to become more intense, and cold waves less intense everywhere.” (NCA Highlights: Climate Trends)

Hurricanes: “The intensity, frequency, and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the frequency of the strongest (Category 4 and 5) hurricanes, have all increased since the early 1980s. The relative contributions of human and natural causes to these increases are still uncertain. Hurricane-associated storm intensity and rainfall rates are projected to increase as the climate continues to warm.” (NCA Highlights: Climate Trends)

Severe Storms: “Winter storms have increased in frequency and intensity since the 1950s, and their tracks have shifted northward over the United States. Other trends in severe storms, including the intensity and frequency of tornadoes, hail, and damaging thunderstorm winds, are uncertain and are being studied intensively.” (NCA Highlights: Climate Trends)

Precipitation: “Average U.S. precipitation has increased since 1900, but some areas have had increases greater than the national average, and some areas have had decreases. More winter and spring precipitation is projected for the northern United States, and less for the Southwest, over this century.” (NCA Highlights: Climate Trends)

Heavy Downpours: “Heavy downpours are increasing nationally, especially over the last three to five decades. Largest increases are in the Midwest and Northeast. Increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected for all U.S. regions.” (NCA Highlights: Climate Trends)

Frost-free Season: “The length of the frost-free season (and the corresponding growing season) has been increasing nationally since the 1980s, with the largest increases occurring in the western United States, affecting ecosystems and agriculture. Across the United States, the growing season is projected to continue to lengthen.” (NCA Highlights: Climate Trends)

Ice Melt: “Rising temperatures are reducing ice volume and surface extent on land, lakes, and sea. This loss of ice is expected to continue. The Arctic Ocean is expected to become essentially ice free in summer before mid-century.” (NCA Highlights: Climate Trends)

Sea Level: “Global sea level has risen by about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began in 1880. It is projected to rise another 1 to 4 feet by 2100.” (NCA Highlights: Climate Trends)

Ocean Acidification: “The oceans are currently absorbing about a quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere annually and are becoming more acidic as a result, leading to concerns about intensifying impacts on marine ecosystems.” (NCA Highlights: Climate Trends)

05 May 03:20

fuckyeahhistorycrushes: This is Anna “Vesse” Dahl and she is...


This is Anna “Vesse” Dahl and she is super duper adorable - I mean, just look at her. She’s a self-educated Norwegian adventurer and made contributions to nuclear physics. Here’s her Smithsonian Institute Profile.

(But damn, those boots.)