Saturday, January 05, 2008

New Links Plus

Sorry-- my latest excuse is back problems. Sitting down for the better part of a year writing a difficult book is bad for your back-- duh! But I have been accumulating links and going out with the hounds and taming the Gos (he is actually very nice) so....

"I tell you, Watson, the Giant Rat of Sumatra actually exists!"

Private nuclear power plants?! (From Toshiba). HT Clayton Cramer, who says "I do cringe a little bit at nuclear power reactors aimed at a market that hasn't quite mastered the art of setting their VCRs to record programs at a particular time."

Eric at Classical Values has kept abreast of the San Francisco tiger controversy. For what it's worth, everybody I know who has worked in zoos suspects provocation. As I wrote to a friend:

"Everyone who has ever worked for a zoo comes to see the public as cruel and/ or stupid. Examples: people telling their kids that the dingos are "female deer" (more common and sensible, I'll grant: "Why do you have those dogs in there?") People trying to put their kids in the leopard cage for a photo op. People waiting for a tapir escape to get the opportunity to hold their kid up to the chimp cage, an opportunity previously denied; then, the kid having been bitten, trying to sue the zoo because a "vet" sewed the kid up, only to find the vet that treated the chimps was among Boston's finest pediatricians."

Also, you might Google up lawyer Geragos to see what fine citizens make up the bulk of his clients....

More sad tiger news: Brian at Laelaps reports on the death of three more tigers due to the insatiable desire for "medicine" in the Han Empire.

More from Laelaps: bad behavior by wolves in Alaska. I am more sympathetic to wolf control (not eradication) than Brian, but his is an honest report. Still, when a wolf is bold enough to attack a leashed dog, it is too late to control your dog! Nor do I recommend Farley Mowat's utterly fictional Never Cry Wolf, with its muscivorous lupines. HT reader Nightmare.

Some reading? Reid sent me this NYT book review of a new release of Wilfrid Thesiger's most popular books. I'm glad Thesiger is getting a revival, but I also think Reid sent it because he knew this sentence would make me furious: "They don’t make Englishmen like Wilfred Thesiger anymore, and perhaps that’s for the best." Harrumph! Ignore that and buy his good books.

Biology? The Guardian reports on a creature close to the ancestral root of whales. Some creationists or at least anti- evolutionists are apparently railing at it because they can't get their mind around a small creature with hooves eventually becoming a whale. Who is it that called this "argument from personal disbelief"? The indispensable Carl Zimmer has more on the beast, with nice pix, here and here.

More biology (or in this case paleontology): Paleoblog covers this year's Mongolian expedition. All pix of Mongolia make me weirdly homesick, even if they are of places I haven't been.

Anne Marie at Pondering Pikaia has a rueful poem by the late field biologist George Folkerts. A sample:

Clear birch-edged stream with fauna rank,
With iris blue upon your bank,
Your poisoned pools I now scan,
My seine haul yields one Falstaff can.
Everything I love is gone,
Whatever will become of me

The fields are being, with great precision
Transformed into a subdivision,
The eagle falls, the lily dies,
And on the road a 'possum lies.
No doubt what will become of me,
Molecular Biology

RTWT, of course.

And Darren is educating us about caecilians, surely the oddest "podless" tetrapods, here and here. Think I am exaggerating? Here is his description of the critters in part one: "If I told you that there was a group of living tetrapods that have sensory tentacles, sometimes sport protrusible eyes, sometimes lack eyes entirely, often exhibit sophisticated parental care and may even feed their babies on a specially grown layer of nutritious epidermal skin, are incredibly long-bodied yet often lack tails, and sometimes possess large, anatomically complex, eversible male sexual organs, you might wonder which recreational drugs I was taking."

Now please, Darren: monster pigeons and raptors from islands!

I'm saving two more sets of links, dogs and food, for later. Can't resist one more bit of snark: though this blog is resolutely un- political, and I'm not sure I'd necessarily want either for president, my unruly soul is gladdened by the defeat by Huck- O- Bama of the Hillarudy machine and those who assume that New York (which I love, but..) has the right to govern us all....

Update: Patrick (and a New Yorker!) have noted the same thing.

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