June 28, 2009
The noir (and romance and haiku) of the latest government report on climate change:
Last week, the United States Global Research program released a report on the potential impacts of climate change in the United States. Based on a year and a half of work and a consensus from 13 federal agencies, the 198-page report makes the doom, gloom, and destruction that await us available to all. Still, who reads 198-page government reports? Well, I do.
So in an attempt to bring some amusement to a dark situation, I’ve summarized the main points of the climate change report using five different literary (ok, quasi-literary) styles. Each vignette is set in the year 2100 under the “higher emissions scenario,” which is a conservative estimate that presumes some kind of international reduction in emissions.
Read the rest here!
June 23, 2009
Shiny new science art, with a hint of vintage humanities:
I live in San Diego, so I visit our famous zoo a couple times a year. My favorite part is a lush, leafy canyon lined with tigers and tropical birds and tapirs. It’s a little piece of the Asian forests on which it’s based, an idyll untouched by the downtown skyline or nearby highway. Sure, the path is lined by earnest plaques about poaching and logging and the dire peril of endangered species, but I’m there for a pleasant afternoon stroll and I’ve never read them.
That’s the fate of most earnest attempts to educate zoo-goers about environmental peril. Nobody (except perhaps attendees of environmental film festivals) wants to pay $50 to be depressed and guilt-ridden. But the Vienna Zoo has a different vision. As covered by the landscape architecture blog Pruned, the Vienna Zoo has inserted the nasty side of the human world right into the animals’ enclosures.
June 16, 2009
Latest at Double X:
On Sunday, NPR reported that more than 2,000 coyotes were living in Chicago, many inside the city’s highly developed downtown Loop. That’s not unusual. Since the elimination of wolves and the advent of suburbs teeming with tasty prey, coyotes have made their homes in cities from Los Angeles to Boston. According to the NPR story, urban coyotes are actually faring better than their rural counterparts, free from hunting and able to dine upon a bounty of rats and goose eggs. Though it seems counterintuitive for people with visions of roadrunner-chasing Wile E. Coyote, urban coyotes actually protect city-dwelling birds.
More here. With bonus naughty Coyote stories!
June 10, 2009
Latest Double X post:
Last month, Pat Robertson fretted that hate-crime legislation would lead to the protection of people who “like to have sex with ducks.” His remark resulted in a delightful Robertson-mocking pro-duck-sex song released last week by musical group Garfunkel and Oates. Robertson doesn’t have to worry too much about human-on-duck sex – it’s clearly illegal since quacking doesn’t qualify as consent. But ducks are no innocent victims. Rather, their giant members and coercive sexual practices make them the perfect posterbird for heterosexual sex gone awry.
More hot duck action here.
June 4, 2009
Latest Double X post on the science of Pixar’s new movie Up:
Seeking scientific accuracy in Hollywood is a fool’s game. I’ve frothed at the terrible biology of Bee Movie and gnashed at the poor oceanography of Transformers and muttered at the unfortunate physics of Star Wars. So I wasn’t expecting much from Pixar’s latest offering, Up, what with the house floating along on helium balloons. But I was pleasantly surprised. The biology of Up is reasonably accurate—though Kevin the bird might harbor a dark secret.
Read the rest here.
June 3, 2009
The latest Double X post:
Poor women. While normal intelligence can co-exist with ovaries, our delicate lady-brains can’t contain genius-level intelligence. Men and women might have the same average intelligence, but men have more variation, and thus more idiots AND genuises. At least that’s what former Harvard President and current Obama advisor Larry Summers implied in 2005 when he said that biological differences might explain the lack of female mathematics professors.
If Summers was right and biological differences are to blame, there should be fewer math-genius girls the whole world over. However, a new study that looked at worldwide data found…
Read the rest.
May 28, 2009
The latest from The Oyster’s Garter’s doppelganger:
Don’t you hate it when you accidentally have sex with your sister? This happens to Indian meal moths, a common kitchen pest that feeds on grains and cereals. Being moths, they don’t really care about the moral issues, but offspring of an incestuous moth union are likely to be infertile. And since the moths have only a week get busy before heading off to the Great Pantry in the Sky, they can’t afford too many reproductive dead ends.
Read the rest.
May 26, 2009
The latest salvo in The Oyster’s Garter’s takeover of Double X:
It’s tough to be a fuzzy little mammal. Death can come from the sky or beneath the earth or behind the next tree, so their lives are governed by constant, quivering fear. Prey species live in a dangerous neighborhood, and they must always be alert to their surroundings. That’s why a Middle Eastern plan to control pest populations with predatory birds is brilliant. Instead of pouring toxins on their crops to kill rodents, they are installing nest boxes for day-hunting kestrels and night-hunting barn owls to provide around-the-clock mouse munching.
Read the rest!