What, July already? Happy Canada Day everyone! And happy Independence Day on Monday! I hope everyone’s got fun plans for the weekend. Since it’s supposed to hit 103 F here on Sunday, mine include “finding a cold lake above 10,000 ft and staying there”. Enjoy the linkfest as you run out the clock before the holiday weekend.
1: This is what we get for decades of fire suppression. The mega-fires now raging in the southwestern U.S. are so large and intense they may cause permanent damage to the ecosystem, despite it normally being considered a fire-adapted system. Small fires rejuvenate, but ones like these only devastate (Wired Science).
2: Crows, already one of the animals strongly in the running to take over the planet from us (along with octopi, dolphins, and ants), not only have great memories but they can transfer their knowledge of danger to other crows who haven’t experienced them. Bird telepathy? Let’s hope not, but however they do it, it’s wicked cool (Global Animal).
3: Let’s hear it for the owls! The National Fish and Wildlife Service this week, after years of waiting, finally published recovery plans for both the Northern Spotted Owl and the Mexican Spotted Owl. That is, if the Mexican Spotted Owl can survive in the smoldering wreckage that is now much of its territory (NY Times).
4: Sing me home! A detailed explanation of population structure and fluctuations of southern right whales over the past few centuries. No one knows for sure how many there are now, but the good news is they seem to be doing fairly well (Deep Blue Home).
5: Scientists are putting together an advertising campaign aimed at monkeys. No, it’s not to get them to volunteer for lab experiments. Having taught them to use money, they now hope associating a product with sex (female monkeybits) and dominance (alpha males) will make them chose that product over others. My question is, will female and male monkeys be equally susceptible to the same ads? (io9)
General Science Links:
1: More casualties of on-going budget crises – public health. Due to a government shutdown, Minnesota will lose many services, including it’s incredible public health unit which does a Swedish-quality job of stopping foodborne illnesses before they spread. Because people getting sick from MN food products will help the economy… (Superbug).
2: Remember kids, there’s no such thing as “chemical-free”. Period. If you are chemical-free, see your doctor as you may have become a ghost (Speakeasy Science).
3: As a culture and as a species we are obsessed with things we can’t explain, often lumped together under the banner of the “paranormal”. But why? Do our brains hold an answer? Salon presents an interesting and vaguely science-y discussion (Salon).
4: Autism, ever more common in this country, is often spoken of synonymously with an inability to empathize. But is that really true, or are are we confusing an inability to understand signals with a lack of feeling? (Thinking Autism Guide)
5: Matter is so awesome! Japanese researchers have developed a new alloy that can return to its original shape at a very wide range of temperatures. Apparently we already had ones that could do at a narrower range. Kinda puts some of those Roswell reports in perspective (PhysOrg).
1: A statistical exercise of dubious value/accuracy but limitless fun calculates the number of things you are more likely to do than intentionally click on a banner ad. Better not tell that to the advertiser, though, or our whole internet economy could come crashing down (The Atlantic).
2: Misdirection – sometimes it’s the only way (xkcd).
3: Stephen Colbert makes mockery of campaign finance laws even more realer by forming his own Super PAC ostensibly to use Viacom money to run campaign ads in this election. Funny joke or brilliantly sneaky political plot? I guess we’re find out in 2012 (AV Club).
4: Dan Savage and others make a case for (some) non-monogamy. Can’t say I totally agree with him, but I can’t really judge other peoples relationships, and its a fascinating article nonetheless. Plus I adore the guy (NY Times).
5: An Anabaptist makes a compelling case for not celebrating Independence Day if you’re a Christian or a pacifist. Or both. Uncomfortably thought provoking (Pangea Blog).
And a new section wherein I tell you what to do with your weekend:
Make: An easy and impressive no-bake raspberry cheesecake. Follow this recipe, but use chocolate wafers for the crust instead of regular grahams, then top with fresh raspberries. Or a mix of raspberries and blueberries for a patriotic theme. Great to bring to cookouts this weekend.
Drink: Polygamy Porter, a Utah favorite. With a smooth taste and the tagline “Why have just one?”, it’s hard to resist. If you can’t buy it in your area, you can probably order it online (depending on your state) or pester your local store to stock it. Got wives? Get beer.
View: The night sky holds a lot of excitement in July. Mercury will be the first planet out, but we should also be able to see Venus, Saturn, and Titan with the naked eye.
See: Nothing! No good movies are coming out this weekend unless you’re in the vicinity of a showing of the limited release comedy “Terri“. If not and if you’ve already seen the brilliant Super 8, then go read Slate’s review of Transformers 3, realize you’ve dodged a bullet, and then rent the extremely underrated and frighteningly fitting cult comedy Idiocracy and reflect upon how the former relates to the latter…
Go: Somewhere cool! It’s gonna be varying degrees of scorching across the country this weekend, and all the major lakeshores and beaches are likely to be packed. I recommend backpacking Utah’s Highline Trail, which only just finished melting out after an insane amount of snowfall this winter. Rolling terrain keeps you at a cool 10,500-13,000 feet with plenty of coyotes and mountain goats for company.