- Hundreds of parrots in a Surrey sanctuary are still waiting for permanent homes. Global News reports.
- NPR reports on how many Uighurs in China find success through their racially mixed appearances, as models.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer explains the rationale behind the Jones Act, with its stiff shipping charges for Puerto Rico.
- The Chinese Buddhist fangsheng ritual, involving the release of captured animals into the wild, has issues. The Guardian reports.
- Tyson Yunkaporta's essay takes a look at the appeal of SF/F, and post-apocalyptic fiction, for indigenous peoples.
- GW170814, detected by VIRGO and LIGO, marks the collision of two black holes, 31 and 25 solar masses, 1.8 billion light-years away. Ars Technica reports.
- The American Museum of Natural History in New York has a new exhibition linking birds and dinosaurs. National Geographic notes.
- This new asteroid belt model suggesting it began empty, then filled from the inner and outer system, is interesting. Universe Today goes into more detail.
- New studies are suggesting that the oceans are starting to warm up. The Guardian reports.
- Offshore wind farms are apparently serving as platforms for flourishing marine ecologies, starting with mussels. Technology Review examines preliminary findings here.
- Hydroelectric development in the highlands of Georgia is disrupting already fragile human communities there. Open Democracy reports.
- Australian scientists may have found the genes causing the small wings of emus. Could they get bigger wings now? The Herald-Sun describes the finding and its import.
- At Antipope, Charlie Stross bets that barring catastrophe, the US under Trump will dispatch crewed circumlunar flights.
- D-Brief takes a look at the evolution of birds, through speculation on how the beak formed.
- Language Log looks at the ways Trump is represented, and mocked, in the languages of East Asia.
- Noting the death toll in a Mexico City sweatshop, Lawyers, Guns and Money reiterates that sweatshops are dangerous places to work.
- The NYR Daily notes the many structural issues likely to prevent foreign-imposed fixes in Afghanistan.
- Roads and Kingdoms reports from a seemingly unlikely date festival held in the depths of the Saudi desert.
- Rocky Planet reports that Mount Agung, a volcano in Indonesia, is at risk of imminent eruption.
- Drew Rowsome notes a new stage adaptation in Toronto of the Hitchcock classic, North by Northwest.
- Strange Company reports on how the Lonergans disappeared in 1998 in a dive off the Great Barrier Reef. What happened to them?
- Towleroad notes how Chelsea Manning was just banned from entering Canada.
- Window on Eurasia claims that the Russian language is disappearing from Armenia.
- Arnold Zwicky maps the usage of "faggot" as an obscenity in the United States.
Yesterday, I went on a great walk southwest of Keele station, through High Park and west along the shore of Humber Bay. I was particularly impressed by this emu I saw, safely contained behind a fence, in the High Park Zoo. This is surely a bird that would be recognized by the dinosaurs of the pre-Cretaceous era as kin.
- Centauri Dreams celebrates the science behind Cassini.
- Crooked Timber's Henry Farrell is breaking from Harvard's Kennedy Centre over its revocation of an invitation to Chelsea Manning.
- The Crux points to the ways in which the legacy of Cassini will still be active.
- D-Brief notes that some tool-using macaques of Thailand are overfishing their environment.
- Hornet Stories notes the eulogy given by Hillary Clinton at the funeral of Edie Windsor.
- Inkfish notes one way to define separate bird species: ask the birds what they think. (Literally.)
- The LRB Blog notes the recent passing of Margot Hielscher, veteran German star and one-time crush of Goebbels.
- The NYR Daily notes the chilling effects on discourse in India of a string of murders of Indian journalists and writers.
- At the Planetary Science Blog, Emily Lakdawalla bids farewell to the noble Cassini probe.
- Roads and Kingdoms notes a breakfast in Bangladesh complicated by child marriage.
- Towleroad notes an Australian church cancelled an opposite-sex couple's wedding because the bride supports equality.
- Arnold Zwicky notes the marmots of, among other places, cosmopolitan and multilingual Swiss canton of Graubünden.
- Anthrodendum's Alex Golub talks about anthropologists of the 20th century who resisted fascism.
- Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes a study suggesting the TRAPPIST-1 system might be substantially older than our own solar system.
- Centauri Dreams considers tidal locking as a factor relevant to Earth-like planetary environments.
- The Crux shows efforts to help the piping plover in its home on the dunes of the Great Lakes coast of Pennsylvania.
- Dead Things considers the evidence for the presence of modern humans in Sumatra 73 thousand years ago.
- Bruce Dorminey makes the case for placing a lunar base not on the poles, but rather in the material-rich nearside highlands.
- Far Outliers shares some evocative placenames from Japan, like Togakushi (‘door-hiding’) from ninja training spaces.
- Language Hat notes the exceptionally stylistically uneven Spanish translation of the Harry Potter series.
- Language Log thinks, among other things, modern technologies make language learning easier than ever before.
- The LRB Blog notes how claims to trace modern Greece directly to the Mycenaean era are used to justify ultranationalism.
- Marginal Revolution considers which countries are surrounded by enemies. (India rates poorly by this metric.)
- The Numerati's Stephen Baker considers how Confederate statues are products of recycling, like so much in our lives.
- The NYR Daily considers the unique importance of Thomas Jefferson, a man at once statesman and slaver.
- The Planetary Society Blog celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2 Sunday.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, for a country fighting a drug war, Mexico spends astonishingly little on its police force.
- Drew Rowsome takes a look at classic John Wayne Western, The Train Robbers.
- Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel considers the critical role of NASA's Planetary Protection Officer.
- Strange Company notes the many legends surrounding the early 19th century US' Theodosia Burr.
- The Volokh Conspiracy hosts Ilya Somin' argument against world government, as something limiting of freedom. Thoughts?
- Window on Eurasia notes how Ukrainians are turning from Russia, becoming more foreign to their one-time partner.
- Charley Ross reports on an unexpected personal involvement in the disappearance of Kori Gossett. Did an informant know?
- Citizen Science Salon reports, in the time of #sharkweek, on the sevengill sharks.
- The Dragon's Tales links to an article on the Chinese base in Sudan.
- Inkfish has a fascinating article describing how New Zealand's giant black swans went extinct, and were replaced.
- Language Hat notes two obscure words of Senegalese French, "laptot" and "signare". What do they mean? Go see.
- Language Log argues that the influx of English loanwords in Chinese is remarkable. Does it signal future changes in language?
- Lawyers, Guns Money notes how Los Angeles and southern California were, during the American Civil War, a stronghold of secessionist sentiment, and runs down some of the problems of Mexico, including the militarization of crime.
- Marginal Revolution reports on what books by which authors tend to get stolen from British bookstores.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests that Donald Trump is not likely to be able to substantially reshape NAFTA.
- Roads and Kingdoms reports from the recent protests in Poland against changes to the Supreme Court.
- Understanding Society takes a look at the structure of the cities of medieval Europe, which apparently were dynamic and flexible.
- Unicorn Booty shares some classic gay board games.
- Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is going to try to wage a repeat of the Winter War on Ukraine.
- The New York Times is but one news source to observe the findings of archeologists and geneticists that the Canaanites were not slaughtered. Was the claimed Biblical genocide a matter of thwarted wish-fulfillment?
- At Wired, David Pierce mourns the standalone iPod, an innovative music-changing technology in its time now being phased out.
- Catherine McIntyre at MacLean's describes how birding is becoming hip among young urbanites, in Toronto and across Canada.
- Open Democracy looks at how Estonia is pioneering e-residency and virtual citizenship schemes.
- The Big Picture shares shocking photos of the Portuguese forest fires.
- blogTO notes that, happily, Seaton Village's Fiesta Farms is apparently not at risk of being turned into a condo development site.
- Centauri Dreams notes a new starship discussion group in Delft. Shades of the British Interplanetary Society and the Daedalus?
- D-Brief considers a new theory explaining why different birds' eggs have different shapes.
- The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas commits himself to a new regimen of blogging about technology and its imports. (There is a Patreon.)
- Language Hat notes the current Turkish government's interest in purging Turkish of Western loanwords.
- Language Log's Victor Mair sums up the evidence for the diffusion of Indo-European languages, and their speakers, into India.
- The LRB Blog notes the Theresa May government's inability post-Grenfell to communicate with any sense of emotion.
- Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen wonders if the alt-right more prominent in the Anglophone world because it is more prone to the appeal of the new.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw wonders if Brexit will result in a stronger European Union and a weaker United Kingdom.
- Seriously Science reports a study suggesting that shiny new headphones are not better than less flashy brands.
- Torontoist reports on the anti-Muslim hate groups set to march in Toronto Pride.
- Understanding Society considers the subject of critical realism in sociological analyses.
- Window on Eurasia notes how Russia's call to promote Cyrillic across the former Soviet Union has gone badly in Armenia, with its own script.
- Crooked Timber responds to The Intercept's release of data regarding Russian interference with American elections.
- Dangerous Minds reports on how Melanie Gaydos overcame a rare genetic disorder to become a model.
- Dead Things seems unduly happy that it does see as if Tyrannosaurus rex had feathers. (I like the idea.)
- The Dragon's Gaze reports on our ability to detect the effects of a planet-shattering Nicoll-Dyson beam.
- The Frailest Thing considers being a parent in the digital age.
- Language Hat notes the African writing systems of nsibidi and bamum.
- Marginal Revolution notes that Trump-supporting states are moving to green energy quite quickly.
- Window on Eurasia notes how Russian guarantees of traditional rights to the peoples of the Russian North do not take their current identities into account.
The Crow Agenda, as described by its Indiegogo fundraising page, is a recent documentary a half-hour long that takes a look at Charlottetown's crow population and the whole complex mixture of thoughts about them. Apparently these feathered apes are common here.
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island is known as the birth place of Canadian Confederation. The city also plays a lesser known historic role as a roosting site for over 15,000 crows who have been sharing the city space since the 1800s. The crows affect the residents both positively and negatively, and this dichotomy gives rise to an important question – is this murder of crows a persistent problem that needs to be permanently eliminated or a gift of nature from which to draw inspiration?
For some residents an emotional and spiritual connection has developed with the crows. Stories emerge about grandfathers thought to be reincarnated as crows, crows that talk, residents with pet crows, and people who claim to have been feeding the same crows for over ten years. They are in support of leaving them alone and allowing the birds to be uninhibited in Victoria Park. They draw inspiration from the beauty of the birds daily commute in and out of the city. Local artists, dating back to world-renowned poet and Charlottetown native Milton Acorn, have developed a strong stance on the crows. They are in support of leaving them alone and allowing the birds to be uninhibited in Victoria Park. They draw inspiration from the beauty of the birds daily commute in and out of the city.
Other residents have had their lives turned upside down by what they see as an unwanted invasion. Farmers have had their crops ruined, residents have had the paint jobs on their cars destroyed from crow droppings, children and the elderly are afraid to leave their homes due to the overwhelming number of loud birds in the area. The response from these residents has not been one of acceptance. Instead, they have waged a small-scale war upon the birds: a weapon-like sound cannon has been purchased by the city; some residents fire off cap guns, bang pots and pans and garbage lids together in order to scare the birds away. A crow complaint hot-line and bureaucracy has been established to help deal with complaints and local politicians have made getting rid of the crows a key component of their political platforms in the last local election.
The Crow Agenda is an entertaining short documentary film that examines the people of a small East Coast Canadian city who have a unique relationship with these birds. Love them or hate them, the intelligent and mysterious crows have deeply influenced local art, politics and the relationships between family, friends, and neighbours.
- Centauri Dreams looks at signs of advanced technologies detectable by SETI searches.
- D-Brief notes evidence of the domestication of turkeys in eth and 5th century Mexico.
- Dangerous Minds discusses a legendary 1985 concert by Einstürzende Neubauten.
- Joe. My. God. notes the banning of Tila Tequila from Twitter.
- Language Log looks about a Hebrew advertisement that makes use of apostrophes.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money bids farewell to one of its bloggers, Scott Eric Kauffman.
- The LRB Blog notes that Israel is fine with anti-Semites so long as they are Zionists.
- Marginal Revolution notes that Hillary Clinton won the most economically productive areas of the United States.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests anti-sprawl legislation helped lose the recent election.
- The Russian Demographics Blog notes Russia's banning of LinkedIn.
- Towleroad notes Ellen Degeneres' winning of a Presidential honor medal.
- Window on Eurasia suggests Trump could be much less easy to handle than the Kremlin thinks, and looks at claims that small northern peoples are conspiring with foreigners.
The Toronto Star's Azzura Lalani explains why the gray jay, Canada's new national bird, does not have the Canadian "grey" in its name.
Canadians haven’t wasted much time since the gray jay was named Canada’s national bird on Wednesday asking why its name is spelled the American way.
“We wholeheartedly agree that the Canadian/British spelling of “grey” would be preferable, but this is the species’ official name,” said Nick Walker, managing editor of Canadian Geographic magazine in an email to the Star. “As a journalistic publication, we must honour proper names of birds and other animals even when they conflict with Canadian spellings.”
What Walker would most like to see, he added, is for “gray jay” to be changed to “Canada jay,” which is what the bird was known as for about 200 years until the label was changed in 1957.
“Grey,” the British spelling of the colour, is the more common spelling in Canada, but it wasn’t always that way, said University of Toronto linguistics professor J.K. Chambers in an email.
“Until the 1700s, spelling was flexible. In Canada, we have a long history of accepting either British or American standards . . . . Because we are Canadian, we also accept ‘gray’ for ‘grey.’ ”
- blgoTO notes how the Guild Inn was once a popular resort.
- Centauri Dreams notes the import of real scientists in Arrival.
- Crooked Timber notes that anti-Trump Republicans did not seem to matter in the election.
- The Dragon's Gaze looks at cutting-edge options for studying exoplanets.
- False Steps notes a proposed American spacecraft that would have landed on water.
- Far Outliers notes the pointless internment of foreign domestics in Second World War Britain.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the potential impact of a Michael Bloomberg presidential run.
- Marginal Revolution looks at the development of apps which aim to find out the preferred songs of birds.
- Steve Munro and Transit Toronto look at ongoing controversy over the 514 Cherry streetcar line's noise, including upcoming public meetings.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests the election of Trump could lead to the election of a similar populist to the presidency of Mexico.
- The Volokh Conspiracy deals with the odd and seemingly meaningless distinction made by Americans between "republic" and "democracy".
- Window on Eurasia wonders if Trump's negotiating style might lead to worse Russian-American relations and looks at his business history in Russia.
Via 3 Quarks Daily I found Grigori Guitchounts' article in Nautilus making the case for research into the mechanisms of corvid intelligence.
The animals of neuroscience research are an eclectic bunch, and for good reason. Different model organisms—like zebra fish larvae, C. elegans worms, fruit flies, and mice—give researchers the opportunity to answer specific questions. The first two, for example, have transparent bodies, which let scientists easily peer into their brains; the last two have eminently tweakable genomes, which allow scientists to isolate the effects of specific genes. For cognition studies, researchers have relied largely on primates and, more recently, rats, which I use in my own work. But the time is ripe for this exclusive club of research animals to accept a new, avian member: the corvid family.
Corvids, such as crows, ravens, and magpies, are among the most intelligent birds on the planet—the list of their cognitive achievements goes on and on—yet neuroscientists have not scrutinized their brains for one simple reason: They don’t have a neocortex. The obsession with the neocortex in neuroscience research is not unwarranted; what’s unwarranted is the notion that the neocortex alone is responsible for sophisticated cognition. Because birds lack this structure—the most recently evolved portion of the mammalian brain, crucial to human intelligence—neuroscientists have largely and unfortunately neglected the neural basis of corvid intelligence.
This makes them miss an opportunity for an important insight. Having diverged from mammals more than 300 million years ago, avian brains have had plenty of time to develop along remarkably different lines (instead of a cortex with its six layers of neatly arranged neurons, birds evolved groups of neurons densely packed into clusters called nuclei). So, any computational similarities between corvid and primate brains—which are so different neurally—would indicate the development of common solutions to shared evolutionary problems, like creating and storing memories, or learning from experience. If neuroscientists want to know how brains produce intelligence, looking solely at the neocortex won’t cut it; they must study how corvid brains achieve the same clever behaviors that we see in ourselves and other mammals.
- Beyond the Beyond links to an interview with Darran Anderson, a writer of cartographic fiction.
- Centauri Dreams notes that 2028 will be a time when microlensing can b used to study the area of Alpha Centauri A.
- The Crux engages with the question of whether or not an astronaut's corpse could seed life on another planet.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a study that gathers together signals for planetary companions orbiting nearby stars.
- Joe. My. God. notes that the only gay bar in Portland, Maine, is set to close.
- Language Log notes the proliferation of Chinese characters and notes that a parrot could not be called to the stand in Kuwait.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the last time the Chicago Cubs won, Germany was an empire.
- The Map Room Blog notes the discovery of an ancient stone map on the Danish island of Bornholm.
- The Planetary Society Blog examines some of the New Horizons findings of Pluto.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer argues that Venezuela is now a dictatorship.
- Towleroad notes
- Window on Eurasia notes a Russian cleric's call for the children of ethnically mixed marriages in Tatarstan to be legally identified as Russians.
- Bloomberg talks about Poland's problems with economic growth, notes that McMansions are poor investments, considers what to do about the Olympics post-Rio, looks at new Japanese tax incentives for working women, looks at a French war museum that put its stock up for sale, examines the power of the New Zealand dairy, looks at the Yasukuni controversies, and notes Huawei's progress in China.
- Bloomberg View is hopeful for Brazil, argues demographics are dooming Abenomics, suggests ways for the US to pit Russia versus Iran, looks at Chinese fisheries and the survival of the ocean, notes that high American population growth makes the post-2008 economic recovery relatively less notable, looks at Emperor Akihito's opposition to Japanese remilitarization, and argues that Europe's soft response to terrorism is not a weakness.
- CBC notes that Russian doping whistleblowers fear for their lives, looks at how New Brunswick farmers are adapting to climate change, and looks at how Neanderthals' lack of facility with tools may have doomed them.
- The Globe and Mail argues Ontario should imitate Michigan instead of Québec, notes the new Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix, and predicts good things for Tim Horton's in the Philippines.
- The Guardian notes that Canada's impending deal with the European Union is not any model for the United Kingdom.
- The Inter Press Service looks at child executions in Iran.
- MacLean's notes that Great Lakes mayors have joined to challenge a diversion of water from their shared basin.
- National Geographic looks at the elephant ivory trade, considers the abstract intelligence of birds, considers the Mayan calendar's complexities, and looks at how the young generation treats Pluto's dwarf planet status.
- The National Post notes that VIA Rail is interested in offering a low-cost bus route along the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia.
- Open Democracy notes that the last Russian prisoner in Guantanamo does not want to go home, and wonders why the West ignores the Rwandan dictatorship.
- TVO considers how rural communities can attract immigrants.
- Universe Today suggests sending our digital selves to the stars, looks at how cirrus clouds kept early Mars warm and wet, and notes the discovery of an early-forming direct-collapse black hole.
- Variance Explained looks at how Donald Trump's tweets clearly show two authors at work.
- The Washignton Post considers what happens when a gay bar becomes a bar with more general appeal.
- Wired notes that the World Wide Web still is far from achieving its founders' dreams, looks at how news apps are dying off, and reports on the Univision purchase of Gawker.
Torontoist's Mark Mann describes how Toronto's skyscrapers are starting to heighten their toll in birds killed.
It’s hard to know what to care about. Our terrible world offers plenty of options, and, considered all together, they are overwhelming and exhausting, which is maybe why most of us refuse to pay much attention to anything that isn’t directly in front of our faces getting in the way.
This sad fact of human limitation—our wilful confinement to the immediate and obvious—is bad news for animals, whose main skill sets are sneakiness and hiding (swaggering city raccoons not included). Among the all-time great hiders are the millions of birds that pass through the GTA twice annually, who fly by night to avoid detection.
Toronto lies at the confluence of two major flyways, making it a “bird super-highway,” according to Bridget Stutchbury, author of Silence of the Songbirds. Migrating birds should simply slip past us in the dark. But because they suffer from a condition called “fatal light attraction,” they get stuck on our street lamps and spotlights.
It’s not clear why birds can’t resist light bulbs, but one study suggests that artificial lighting interferes with their internal magnetic compass. So, technically, nocturnal birds aren’t attracted to light, but they reflexively switch to daytime travel mode and then can’t switch back.