zustifer: (animalcule)
If you're like me, and I know I am, you will jump at a chance to read a bunch of current and historical scientific journals without having a university-type subscription. As is the norm for academic websites, its interface is not great (no visited-link color change? No unique pdf names, not even numbers? AAGH) but there is a lot of cool stuff in there. (You do have to sign up. Oh, and not everything is publically available, only things marked green.)
I am checking out Biological Sciences and Historical right now.
zustifer: (carla)
Retrospectacle has got Alex's obituary posted. No overt cause of death found.
zustifer: (Rik Mayall)
Some stuff on the internet:

Debbie Harry is putting out a new album. Her voice has changed some, but in sort of a rougher, more interesting way (apart from the fact that it sounds almost like two different vocalists on the track linked). I don't know if I quite approve of the effects, but the song is fairly nice. If you listen to it, spot the part where I expect it to segue into 'Cish Cash.'

Women as carriers of autism. The incidence of autism is three times higher in men, apparently. Good for autism researchers for managing to generate some public awareness and therefore funds for research, of late.

A band that consists of two sisters whose parents seem to have named them after two of Tom Baker's companions. The song whose video is on that page is pretty catchy, as well.

Total burn on the typographical redesign of a dutch newspaper. Good fonts misused in annoying ways.

Useful post by tongodeon about hansei (sort of 'reflective consideration for others, only more active').

Writeup of the case of the fellow with very little brain matter, which probably everyone has already seen, but it's fairly neato.
zustifer: (JFK with psi-rays)

Here's a pretty neat article (though not terribly meaty) about people's ideas of their own 'life narratives'. I'm amused to find that my conscious mind is at about the level of a preadolescent in this regard:
[M]ost people do not begin to see themselves in the midst of a tale with a beginning, middle and eventual end until they are teenagers. “Younger kids see themselves in terms of broad, stable traits: ‘I like baseball but not soccer,’ ” said Kate McLean [.]

Are you guys better at this?
It's also unsettling, later, when it's brought up that people who see their life problems as being outside themselves (even psychological ones) have a better chance of overcoming them.
They described their problem, whether depression or an eating disorder, as coming on suddenly, as if out of nowhere. They characterized their difficulty as if it were an outside enemy, often giving it a name (the black dog, the walk of shame). And eventually they conquered it.
zustifer: (animalcule)
It is sometimes said [...] that patients with Parkinson's disease have a "reptilian" stare. This is not just a picturesque (or pejorative) metaphor; normal access to the motor functions, which give mammals their delicate motor flexibility, is impaired in parkinsonism; this leads to alternations of extreme immobility with sudden, almost explosive motion, which are reminiscent of some reptiles.

(Oliver Sacks, The Island of the Colorblind)
zustifer: (Baby Cakes by night)
I cannot be the only one who parsed this headline as 'child-eating disorders' rather than 'child (eating disorders)'.
zustifer: (elephant shrew)
Here's a fun post about bats in speculative evolution contexts.
Also note that Mr. Tetrapod Zoology is going to write a post on war rhinos! Hoorah!
zustifer: (hedgehog picto)
I was jabbering to my co-teachers the other day about the differences between lions and cheetahs. There's apparently some campaigns underway to save some endangered lions (? if they're not indian or marsupial (heh), then they're not THAT endangered), and I was of the opinion that cheetahs probably needed more help. So, cheetahs.

- Cheetahs are inbred. They're apparently inbred because all the strains of non-current cheetah died off about ten thousand years ago. I don't know what it was that the cheetahs we have now had that they didn't, but whatever it is it's probably not currently relevant. Anyhow, being as inbred as they are, disease can wipe them out with impunity. The inbreeding is only getting worse, too, because of their range requirements (lots) and their hunting/living predilections (mostly solo). If they kept the territory needs but instead lived in prides, more cheetahs could fit into any given area of land. This would presumably give them more opportunity to meet non-family members. A pride kind of setup would also help protect against co-predators and scavengers like leopards and hyenas.

- Cheetahs have an uninterruptible hunting motor pattern sequence. This is super bad. Their motor pattern chain goes like this, roughly: chase, trip, bite, dissect, eat. If this chain is disrupted, say by a hyena trying to steal the cheetah's newly killed prey, or by a human driving by in a jeep, the cheetah will leave. He can't come back and get the food later, even if everything else who might want to eat that kill isn't in the way, because to that cheetah, that dead lump of meat isn't really food. It's just lying there. If he hasn't just gotten finished chasing it, it's not edible (except, sometimes, under threat of complete starvation). This obviously is not great for the cheetah, who's not exactly a powerhouse against lions or hyenas or even vultures.
I can only assume that cheetahs are able to eat inanimate meat while they're cubs, or else they'd be already extinct. They must lose that ability at some point.

Leopards can cache food in trees (and they eat in trees, keeping their food away from other creatures). Lions eat whatever, and hunt in groups. Hyenas especially eat whatever, including cubs of predators and whatever the hell they find lying around. Everyone's so much better off than cheetahs that I wonder that we still have any of them.

- Oh, also: people hunt cheetahs. They hunt other animals too, but they probably hunt cheetahs specifically because they'll go after livestock fairly readily (since they likely end up desperate more often than other predators). They also have such range that they get near livestock more often, as well. (There's a guard dog project (Ray Coppinger's involved!) in place, so that, since a cheetah will never voluntarily go near a large dog, the cheetahs don't have to be shot by jittery ranchers. At least someone's trying.)
zustifer: (meary inhaler)
Don't look at this unless you've got a mellow that needs harshing, or if you enjoy weird (possibly genetic) bodily mishaps. If you cringed when Homer Simpson got laser eye surgery and his eyes crusted over (shudder), you may not want to look at this one.
It's a pretty interesting condition, though. Onset at age 14 could imply puberty, but it could also be a coincidence.

(via typefiend)
zustifer: (Scientific)
I'm pretty sure I already linked to a sum-up of this study, but here's another writeup. It's the study wherein it was determined that kids will work harder and do better in school if praised for effort rather than intelligence. Like probably half of the people who read this, I completely have the illustration example problem, wherein I give up really easily if a new skill doesn't jump into my waiting hands. It's not even for fear of failure anymore, it's more that I don't know how to proceed. I mean, I'm getting better at this, but it's still weird.
Regardless, I've been trying, while teaching, to follow this rule. I have no idea if it's working or anything, and I'm teaching adults, but oh well. Might be helpful, who knows.
I was somewhat annoyed at that mom the article interviewed who said that it was too goofy to talk that way. Duh, there's a reason you do it the way you do it. Culture is strong.
zustifer: (Philippe's Mouth)
This is sort of weird: I was just eating some corn chips with flaxseeds in them, and I noticed after a while of eating them in front of my monitor that the seeds generally seemed to align their long axes in the same direction. See? Isn't that odd? I can't think how the seeds could be deployed in a way that would keep them directionally uniform, or how cornmeal could have a property that would hold them there.
Anyone know?
zustifer: (Default)
Look at these totally lovely pictograms made for a czech zoo.
(Here's how they're used: what it eats, what eats it, habitat, gestation period (?), etc.)
zustifer: (elephant shrew)
The six venomous mammals, apparently.
Most venomous things are diapsids! Well, and arthropods.
zustifer: (SUX dino)
Excellent! Fossilized bicephalous prehistoric reptile! Say it until you turn into Zippy the Pinhead!

(Via the DML)
zustifer: (Nivlem says See Here)
One try, suckers!
I guess all those dog cognition classes have FINALLY PAID OFF.

(actually, this is true, although it is way more convenient to refer to dogs by breed than to be all 'my dog is a floppy-eared long-muzzled type with piebald coat, standing about two feet high. He has herding tendencies, but no retrieving tendencies.')

I will also go on record saying that this new posting format is not that great. Arial is too narrow, and LJ, like so many others, has failed to specify font color for the subject input field where they've specified the background color, leaving me with a fun cream-on-white experience (my color scheme is light on dark).
zustifer: (Scientific)
Evo vs. devo! (Um, sort of.) Thread at retrospectacle in which no one (until my intrusion) brings up that the old Attractive/Smart slider is in large part cultural. People don't seem to realise that they're creating the stupid hot people and smart ugly people with their strong preference for hotness. People who are hot do not have to do anything else, since they're rewarded so much for just being hot. Therefore they often don't do anything else, regardless of intelligence level. And more unattractive people feel they have to compensate.
zustifer: (Beetlejuice: flamefingers)
Interview with Irene Pepperberg over at the blog of a nice grad student lady who plugs the Alex Foundation store.
Irene Pepperberg is currently the only scientist I've made a Mii of. (Speaking of not having grammar.)


zustifer: (Default)
Karla Z

February 2012

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