Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mumble the hen who thinks she's a penguin

The discovery of Mumble's unusual manner has also saved her life, with the family which owns her sparing her from the cooking pot.

The bird's identity crisis has made her a celebrity in Jiangsu, a province in eastern China where she is owned by farmer Lu Xi.

Local media outlets dubbed the chicken Mumble after the main character in the animated film Happy Feet, about a penguin that can't sing so dances instead.


In case you didn't know, chickens can swim just fine.


Dog Training and the Myth of Alpha-Male Dominance

Evan Kafka / Getty Images
Dogs are descended from wolves. Wolves live in hierarchical packs in which the aggressive alpha male rules over everyone else. Therefore, humans need to dominate their pet dogs to get them to behave.
This logic has dominated the canine-rearing conversation for more than five years, thanks mostly to National Geographic's award-winning show, Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.
But many experts say Millan's philosophy is based on now-debunked animal studies and that some of his techniques — most famously the alpha roll, in which he pins a dog on its back and holds it by the throat — are downright cruel. Rival trainer Victoria Stilwell has launched a competitive assault on Dog Whisperer by starring on Animal Planet's It's Me or the Dog and by spreading her system of positive-reinforcement training virtually and with troops on the ground: this June she launched a podcast (available on and iTunes) and franchised her methods to a first batch of 20 dog trainers in the U.S., the U.K., Italy and Greece. She uses positivity as a counterpoint to dominance theory and reserves her aggression for the poorly behaving humans.

via Time By JENINNE LEE-ST. JOHN/continue reading


Friday, July 30, 2010

Obi in a semi dream


Who are you calling ugly?

Cruella might look scary, but she is a highly vulnerable baby long eared bat being cared for at a wildlife rescue service.

Van Halen’s “Eruption” on electric cello


Clive Thompson on the Death of the Phone Call

My phone bills are shrinking. Not, unfortunately, in cost. I mean they’re getting shorter. I recently found an old bill from a decade ago; it was fully 15 pages long, because back then I was making a ton of calls—about 20 long-distance ones a day. Today my bills are a meager two or three pages, at most.

Odds are this has happened to you, too. According to Nielsen, the average number of mobile phone calls we make is dropping every year, after hitting a peak in 2007. And our calls are getting shorter: In 2005 they averaged three minutes in length; now they’re almost half that.

We’re moving, in other words, toward a fascinating cultural transition: the death of the telephone call. This shift is particularly stark among the young. Some college students I know go days without talking into their smartphones at all. I was recently hanging out with a twentysomething entrepreneur who fumbled around for 30 seconds trying to find the option that actually let him dial someone.

This generation doesn’t make phone calls, because everyone is in constant, lightweight contact in so many other ways: texting, chatting, and social-network messaging. And we don’t just have more options than we used to. We have better ones: These new forms of communication have exposed the fact that the voice call is badly designed. It deserves to die.

Consider: If I suddenly decide I want to dial you up, I have no way of knowing whether you’re busy, and you have no idea why I’m calling. We have to open Schrödinger’s box every time, having a conversation to figure out whether it’s OK to have a conversation. Plus, voice calls are emotionally high-bandwidth, which is why it’s so weirdly exhausting to be interrupted by one. (We apparently find voicemail even more excruciating: Studies show that more than a fifth of all voice messages are never listened to.)
Wired/Magazine /read more


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Parrot scares off burglars with piercing screech

Thieves who prised open the front door of a house in London's Docklands were shocked to be met by the owner's pet bird.

Have you seen my family?

He looks perfectly happy playing in the sand and relaxing in a rowing boat.
But you can almost guarantee that somewhere, the small child who owns him is far from content.
For Meare Kat, named after the tea shop outside which he was found, is lost - and he needs your help to get him home.


Giant mammals take a diver by the hands for an amazing tour under Arctic ice

It is not the most welcoming place on Earth. But even in the Arctic you can find a friendly face willing to show you around.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

St Michael's Fortress (Sibenik)


Water on the Moon


Traveling through Holland

Groups of Americans were traveling by tour bus through Holland...

As they stopped at a cheese farm, a young guide led them through the process of cheese making, explaining that goat's milk was used.

She showed the group a lovely hillside where many goats were grazing.

'These' she explained, 'Are the older goats put out to pasture when they no longer produce.'

She then asked, 'What do you do in America with your old goats?'

A spry old gentleman answered, 'They send us on bus tours!


Hoomins: Goggie’s best friend

This might not be worthy of a lolz, but it’s definitely worthy of an aaaaaawww.

When New York City firefighter Jim Lanigan and his crew from NYC’s Ladder 5 responded to an apartment fire in SoHo Thursday, they managed to put out the blaze before anyone got hurt. But more amazingly, Lanigan managed to save the life of a tiny terrier pup… by performing conventional CPR! And by the looks of it, both Lanigan and the puppy are happy the procedure worked.


Dogs Automatically Imitate People

New research has just determined dogs automatically imitate us, even when it is not in their best interest to do so.

The study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B, provides the first evidence that dogs copy at least some of our body movements and behaviors in ways that are spontaneous and voluntary.

In other words, they can't really help themselves when it comes to copying people.

"This suggests that, like humans, dogs are subject to 'automatic imitation;' they cannot inhibit online, the tendency to imitate head use and/or paw use," lead author Friederike Range and her colleagues conclude.

It's long been known that humans do this, even when the tendency to copy interferes with efficiency.

"For example," according to the researchers, "if people are instructed to open their mouths as soon as they see the letters 'OM' appear on a screen, responses are slower when the letters are accompanied by an image of an opening hand than when they are accompanied by an image of an opening mouth."
via Discovery News by Jennifer Viegas/read more

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Fatter, and happier: the yellow-bellied marmot of the Rockies.

Warmer temperatures in the Colorado Rockies have produced a population boom of yellow-bellied marmots, at least in one well-studied valley.
In an unusual, long-term study, scientists have been tracking marmots there since 1962. A new paper compares marmots from 1976 through 2008 to look for the effects of global warming on the animals.

Over that time, the winter thaws have been arriving sooner, and the marmots have been emerging out of hibernation earlier — the first sighting of a marmot now comes around April 20, a month earlier than in 1976.

That gives them more time to eat and grow, and the result is that a female marmot was on average about 7.6 poundsduring the second half of the observational period, about three-quarters of a pound more than the average in earlier years, researchers reported in the current issue of the journal Nature.

Until 2000, the population remained steady at about 100. But as the marmots got heavier and the winters shorter the percentage surviving winter hibernation rose to 80 percent from 70 percent. The population has since tripled.
By KENNETH CHANG via The New York Times

"One cat just leads to another."

These two cats I met yesterday in Sibenik.

We humans can mind-meld too

There's now scientific backing for the old adage that when two people "click" in conversation, they have a meeting of minds. The evidence comes from fMRI scans of 11 people's brains as they listened to a woman recounting a story.

The scans showed that the listeners' brain patterns tracked those of the storyteller almost exactly, though trailed 1 to 3 seconds behind. But in some listeners, brain patterns even preceded those of the storyteller.

"We found that the participants' brains became intimately coupled during the course of the 'conversation', with the responses in the listener's brain mirroring those in the speaker's," says Uri Hasson of Princeton University.
NewScientist by Andy Coghlan/continue reading


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Clock for Night Owl



Bob, a 70-year-old, extremely wealthy widower, shows up at the Country Club with a breathtakingly beautiful and very sexy 25-year-old blonde-haired woman who knocks everyone's socks off with her youthful sex appeal and charm and who hangs over Bob's arm and listens intently to his every word.

His buddies at the club are all aghast.

At the very first chance, they corner him and ask, 'Bob, how'd you get the trophy girlfriend?'

Bob replies, 'Girlfriend? She's my wife!'

They are knocked over, but continue to ask.

'So, how'd you persuade her to marry you?'

'I lied about my age', Bob replies.

'What, did you tell her you were only 50?'

Bob smiles and says, 'No, I told her I was 90.'



Sneaky dogs take food quietly to avoid getting caught

LIKE children with their hands in the cookie jar, dogs steal food quietly to make sure they don't get caught. The finding adds to evidence that dogs can work out what others are thinking.

Shannon Kundey of Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and colleagues, gave 40 dogs, which had previously been trained not to eat food left on a plate, a chance to take food from inside two containers. Both containers were fitted with bells, but on one container the bells were muted.

When someone was watching, the dogs took food from both containers equally. But if the watcher looked away, for instance by putting their head between their legs, the dogs went for the silent container. This suggests they knew they could get a meal without the watcher hearing them (Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol 126, p 45).

Kundey says her results back up other evidence that dogs can represent for themselves how others perceive their actions. For example, previous studies had found that dogs are more likely to take food when people are not watching them.

Marc Bekoff at the University of Colorado at Boulder says the findings are more proof that humans' mental abilities are not unique. "Great apes do amazing things, but so do other animals," he says.
via New Scientist
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