Sunday Reads: It’s a Fluff Piece!Posted: October 16, 2011
As the title suggests, today’s morning reads are going to be mostly fluff…
Late last night I was sitting in our local Banjoville Mickey D’s, it was around midnight and the only people in the joint were a group of cheerleaders from the night’s football game and my family. What a scene…On the TV screen was Fox News, which is no surprise given the conservative “Christian” clientele…the TV was on mute, the CC subtitles were on, but the sound system was playing a medieval Gregorian chant. And they had that music turned way up!
They must have it going for a reason…perhaps to make sure the good ol boy country folks won’t linger after they eat their burgers. So here we sit in this empty fast food restaurant, and my mother begins to talk about the book she is reading, The Brothers Karamazov. Only she called it The Brothers Kamikaze, and she didn’t catch the slip.
It was like a surreal episode from an early Twilight Zone…I felt completely detached, as if I was watching the scene like a spectator. And all the while, the monks are singing in Latin, Fox news has this guy with way too much Botox in his brow and forehead…jabbering on about the difference between Mormons and the real Jesus loving Christians, and my mother going on about the cruel nihilist characteristics of the Kamikaze brothers…
That is a perfect description of how I feel about this morning’s post, it is going to be a mix of links that don’t really add up to anything substantial.
First let’s get the soundtrack started, no not monks… but piranhas. New Study Finds Piranhas Talk To Each Other via Barking | Geekosystem
Red-bellied piranhas are already scary enough, but it turns out that these hyper-aggressive carnivorous fish are also quite the talkers. Using hydrophones to record the fish in captivity, Eric Parmentier from Belgium’s Université de Liège recorded a series of sounds that suggest the fish have a lexicon of audio signals produced in a rather unique way. The study has recently been published in The Journal of Experimental Biology.
The researchers were able to identify three distinct sounds, or “barks,” produced by the fish. In their research, they found that these barks were repeated in similar situations, suggesting that the sounds carry some kind of meaning. For instance, a low grunting sound seemed to signal other piranhas to keep their distance from the barking fish. A rhythmic thud bark, the researchers found, was associated with circling and fighting other fish. Lastly, chasing and nipping fish seemed to be the final level of signaling with a soft creating sound produced by their gnashing their teeth.
But here is the kicker, the fish are using their swim bladders to produce sound…for some reason when I read this I immediately thought of a beginning bag pipe player.
Previous piranha projects had revealed that the fish’s swim bladder — the organ that allows fish to adjust their boyancy in the water — was used to produce sound.
Using the swim bladder as a starting point, Parmentier’s team found that stimulating the muscles around the organ produced sound. Once the stimulation ceased, so did the sound. This is significant since it showed that the muscles were creating the sound and the bladder was not resonating, in which case the sound would have continued after the muscles ceased moving. It also showed that the frequency and pitch of the barks were determined entirely on the muscle contractions.
There is a link to a National Geographic video of the fish making the sounds…neat stuff. I especially like the subtitles…Get away…Let’s Fight… I’m gonna kick your ass…and Hey Baby, let’s get it on.
On to the latest study that asked the question: Did Columbus Cause Europe’s Little Ice Age? | Informed Comment
This story is irresistible for a world historian interested in climate change. Richard Nevle, a geochemist at Stanford, argues that the European advent in the New World, which killed 90% of the 80 million native Americans, caused the Little Ice Age.
The native peoples of the New World burned a lot of wood. When they largely didn’t exist anymore, because they suffered high mortality from a host of European diseases to which they had no immunity, they stopped putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Instead, forests grew rapidly since they weren’t being chopped down anymore, and land wasn’t being cleared for agriculture. Forests take in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, plus they fix some carbon dioxide in the soil. They are what is called a “carbon sink,” though not a really efficient one, since much of the carbon they take out of the atmosphere eventually finds its way back there. I suspect the dramatic fall-off in the burning of fossil fuels was the much more important cause here.
Less carbon dioxide reduces the “greenhouse effect” making the earth cooler.
An alternative theory is that reduced solar activity contributed to the cooling in the 1600s and 1700s. And the warming period of 900-1300 may have already been reversed in part by the Black Death in Europe and the Middle East, which wiped out one third of the population and would have reduced carbon emissions. Of course all these causes could have operated together.
And when you think of what the little ice age caused, it is clear that climate does affect out history and our future.
During the Little Ice age in Britain, people used to go ice skating on the Thames in the winter. Agriculture was badly hurt by shorter growing seasons, causing famines and violent competition over resources– i.e. wars and revolutions. Scandinavia, which had been a major player in world affairs during the warm centuries 900-1300– ruling Ireland and Sicily (where Vikings fought Arabs) and discovering North America– rapidly declined in significance as it froze over. Famously, there were bread famines in France in the 1780s that likely contributed to the outbreak of the French Revolution.
Give the article a read, Cole goes on to discuss other historical wars and famine and exploration that may find its sources in climate changes. I remember when the Egypt rising was taking place, there were articles talking about how the age of a population relates to various uprisings, wars and revolutions throughout history. It makes me think of this young group of people who have started a global occupation protest against austerity and big banksters. Interesting isn’t it?
Moving on from global warming and cooling, to salt. Decadent Meal Made Entirely From Salt | Geekosystem
This monochromatic tableau is part of a new exhibition featuring the work of Ken and Julia Yonetani called Sense of Taste, currently on display at the GV Art gallery in London. Modeled after a traditional still life painting, this sculpture presents a decadent meal of cheese, fruit, wine, fresh fish, and lobster. However, it is made entirely out of salt.
Beautiful…what a picture. Click that link for some more cool images of sculptures made of salt and a quick description of how they do it.
I have more gorgeous images for you, this time pictures of movie legend Carole Lombard. She Blogged By Night: Carole Lombard
Lombard really was beautiful and compelling, wasn’t she?
Oh yes, she sure was. More pictures at the link above.
From Minx’s Missing Link File: Sticking with the movie theme, some of you may have seen The Ides of March this weekend, here is a review that I thought many of you would appreciate. The Ides of March Has A Woman Problem | Mediaite
I went in to The Ides of March wanting to like it. I really wanted to! It has West Wing-esque political drama, following a candidate and his campaign for the Democratic nomination for President. It boasts a stellar cast including George Clooney and (feminist!) Ryan Gosling. It has already garnered significant Oscar buzz and is seen as a potential Best Picture contender. But five minutes in, it became glaringly obvious that even the combined star power of Clooney and Gosling couldn’t save this film from its major problem: the women.
In a cast full of all-star talent, there are two women in this movie and both characters are vapid, one-dimensional, and function only to prop up the male characters. As the film opens, the first female character (Evan Rachel Wood) is bringing coffee to a team entirely of men – she’s an intern. From what I can see in the film she is the only woman working on the entire campaign – was it really necessary to make her an intern?
Comparing this movie to The Social Network, which I thought showed women in a negative light, this movie is about a subject that is definitely a mans world, but the ceiling has received a few cracks in the last election…
And while American politics is still largely dominated by men – it has come a long way in the last several years, farther than the all-dude environment in Ides would lead you to believe. There have been dozens of prominent women running for office and even more working on campaigns in the last few election cycles: there have been Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Sarah Palin, and countless others. Patti Solis Doyle ran the Clinton campaign in 2007 and Donna Brazile ran the Gore campaign in 2000, to name just a couple. Yet nowhere in do the writers even consider the possibility that women may have had something worthwhile to contribute to politics.
Yes, wasn’t there a female president on West Wing? Maybe I am just thinking about something else. Even this election cycle, it seems plain to me that the US still isn’t ready for a female president. And if the war against women escalates, it will only make it harder for us to have that Madame President in the White House.
Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: This article in Salon really spoke to me, and since we’ve been talking about moving pictures…it is the perfect way to end this fluff post. R.I.P., the movie camera: 1888-2011 – Salon.com
Cecil B. DeMille (Credit: doctormacro.com)
Major manufacturers have ceased production of new motion picture film cameras; cinema as we once knew it is dead
We might as well call it: Cinema as we knew it is dead.
An article at the moviemaking technology website Creative Cow reports that the three major manufacturers of motion picture film cameras — Aaton, ARRI and Panavision — have all ceased production of new cameras within the last year, and will only make digital movie cameras from now on. As the article’s author, Debra Kaufman, poignantly puts it, “Someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”
This is heartbreaking, and makes me think of the time when vinyl records went with the wind…
…Cinema is not just a medium. It is a language. Its essence — storytelling with shots and cuts, with or without sound — will survive the death of the physical material, celluloid, that many believed was inseparably linked to it. The physical essence of analog cinema won’t survive the death of film (except at museums and repertory houses that insist on showing 16mm and 35mm prints).
But digital cinema will become so adept at mimicking the look of film that within a couple of decades, even cinematographers may not be able to tell the difference. The painterly colors, supple gray scale, hard sharpness and enticing flicker of motion picture film were always important (if mostly unacknowledged) parts of cinema’s mass appeal. The makers of digital moviemaking equipment got hip to that in the late ’90s, and channeled their research and development money accordingly; it’s surely no coincidence that celluloid-chauvinist moviegoers and moviemakers stopped resisting the digital transition once they realized that the new, electronically-created movies could be made to look somewhat like the analog kind, with dense images, a flickery frame rate, and starkly defined planes of depth.
But let’s not kid ourselves: Now that analog filmmaking is dead, an ineffable beauty has died with it. Let’s raise two toasts, then — one to the glorious past, and one to the future, whatever it may hold.
Well, that is all I can do this early morning. (It is almost 3 am here in Banjoland and I am barely keeping my eyes open.) So what are you reading about today? I bet there is some real hard news in this cycle, let’s hear about some articles you have found this morning…