Jellyfish: A Natural History
by Lisa-ann Gershwin
University of Chicago Press
2016, 224 pages, 8.2 x 9.5 x 1 inches
$27 Buy a copy on Amazon
Five interesting facts I read in the just-released Jellyfish: A Natural History:
1. The deadly box jellyfish is the world’s most venomous animal, and its sting feels like “a splash of boiling oil, searingly hot and indescribably painful.”
2. The immortal jellyfish is just what it sounds like – its cells keep regenerating so that it forever cycles from baby to adult back to baby again.
3. Recently, jellyfish blooms – or swarms – have become denser, are covering much larger areas than ever before, and are “lasting far longer than normal,” due to climate change.
4. Jellyfish can clone themselves, but the replica is so different from the original that it ends up being classified as a separate animal.
5. The giant heart jelly can grow to 165 feet, longer than a blue whale.
And this is nothing. Every page of text in Jellyfish has facts as fascinating as these, woven into a thorough coverage of jellyfish history, biology and ecology. Author Lisa-ann Gershwin, a marine biologist who has discovered over 200 new species of jellyfish, does an excellent job of combining a compelling narrative of 50 different jellyfish with luscious, I-can’t-believe-they’re-real photos. Put this book on your coffee table with caution – you might lose your guests as they submerge themselves into a book that’s as exotic as it is absorbing.
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Now's your chance to get drunk with Dumb Donald! Chicago-based Spiteful Brewing just introduced Dumb Donald this week. No, not the Republican nominee, but a double IPA beer with a nice and sour Key lime flavor. So why call it Dumb Donald?
According to the beer's label, "Dumb Donald is, well, dumb. So dumb in fact, we named a beer after him. It's like he got caught in a pause halfway through evolution. His brain still functions, at a minimal level with a vocabulary of a second grade student. You might even start to feel sorry for this man-child. Resist that urge, pop open this Key lime DIPPA and pretend you're on a far away island where people like Dumb Donald simply don't exist."
Spiteful Brewing isn't the first brewery to mock the Donald. Last March, Philadelphia's Dock Street Brewery introduced the beer Friends Don't Let Friends Vote Drumpf. (Drumpf was Trump's grandfather's original name.)
Unfortunately right now Dumb Donald is only available in Chicago, but if you happen to be in the city, Spiteful Brewing's website, which opens with "Don't fight it, spite it!" on their homepage, has a hefty list of the city's stores that carry it. Read the rest
Wow! Watch Anderson Cooper grill, er, I mean interview Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who for years has fought tooth and nail to ban same sex marriage and adoption by gay couples, but who is now acting like an LGBT advocate after the Orlando shooting.
Cooper actually calls her a hypocrite, and then goes on to say, "You were arguing that if there was same sex marriage...that would do harm to the people of Florida.”
Bondi squirms. "Of course not. Of course not. I’ve never said that. Those words have never come out of my mouth."
"But that is specifically what you were arguing in court," Cooper counters.
The interview goes on for over five minutes, every bit of it as cringe-worthy as the next. Towards the end Cooper says, "Had there been no gay marriage...you do realize that there would be no spouces, that boyfriends and girlfriends of the dead would not be able to get information and would probably not be able to visit in the hospital here. Isn’t there a sick irony in that?"
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Sixty hikers from Hungary were stranded in the Austrian Alps last weekend when their drunk guide disappeared. Apparently the guide wandered off and found his way back to the bottom of the mountain, leaving his group behind.
The hikers set off at around 3pm local time (2pm BST) on Saturday with an unqualified guide from a Hungarian trekking association to explore the Rax mountain range in eastern Austria, according to local police.
But around an hour later Austrian emergency services received a call from a distressed member of the group, who said he was lost with his daughter in the mountains.
The weather was taking a turn for the worse as 12 rescuers brought the group back down to safety. The group then ran into the irresponsible "guide," who claimed he hadn't touched a drop of alcohol. Read the Telegraph's full story here. Read the rest
With sarcastic undertones, President Obama reacted today to Trump's criticism of him for not using the phrase "radical Islam." Read the rest
Although Minneapolis man Hooman Nikizad arrived at the airport two hours early, as recommended, his hour-and-a-half wait in the security line made him miss his flight. He then had to buy a second ticket on another airline in order to get to his destination on time. Now he's suing the TSA for $506.85 to cover the cost.
"I had to buy a ticket with another airline to be able to make my destination and meet my obligations," Nikizad said in his claim, which noted the TSA had limited staff on duty at the time and "only one body scanner for the regular security line [in operation]"...The money being sought, he said, is to reimburse him for a replacement ticket, additional ground transportation expenses and the $75 court fee to file his claim.
No comment from the TSA. For more, read the full story at the Star Tribune.
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A giant 22-pound hunk of bog butter made 2,000 years ago was just unearthed in Ireland, and although it might not be as tasty as it was in the last millennium or two, you can still eat it. So what the heck is "bog butter?" According to Atlas Obscura:
“Bog butter” is butter that has been buried in a bog. The Irish Times describes it as a “creamy white dairy product, which smells like a strong cheese.” The earliest known examples date back almost 2,000 years, but there are records of people burying butter as recently as the 1800s. This one is estimated to be an early example but will be studied further to date it.
Why would anyone bury butter in a bog? Often, to preserve it: butter made hundreds of years ago, without salt, wouldn’t last long, but the cool, low oxygen environment of the bog could extend its life. Bog butter is sometimes found encased in wooden containers or animal hide, to protect it as well.
For more, here's a brief history of bog butter
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Trump's new relationship with the teleprompter didn't last long. Yesterday he gave a free-form speech at a rally in Richmond, Virginia where he repeatedly referred to Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas," an attempted jab at her for saying she has Native American ancestry.
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A thief stole a bicycle from a bike rack at a Walmart parking lot in Eagle Point, Oregon. 9-1-1 was called and the woman who owned the bike along with a few others chased after him on foot, but couldn't catch him. Luckily, a rancher named Robert Borba happened to be there. He went to his trailer, jumped on his horse, and captured the guy with his lasso.
Read the full story here.
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“When we arrived, there was a large crowd standing around a younger gentleman who was on the ground, the rope around his ankle, hanging on to a tree,” Adams said. Victorino Arellano-Sanchez was arrested and charged with theft, the police said.
THIS IS A HOAX.
Because of the one-child-only law in China, combined with the practice of abandoning baby girls to make room for a boy, the country now has a gross gender imbalance of three boys for every girl under the age of 18. So to make sure at least one-third of the men still have a chance of marrying a Chinese woman, the Supreme People's Court of China just passed a law that will forbid Chinese women from marrying a non-Chinese man. But Chinese men will still be able to marry anyone they choose, regardless of race.
Business owners seem to be more concerned with how this new law will affect their businesses than the fairness of it. One owner of a matchmaking business says that allowing men more freedom with marriage is "common sense."
“I had feared that they might also ban men from interracial marriage,” commented the owner of a successful matchmaking business in China’s Fujian Province. “Thankfully common sense has prevailed, although by banning Chinese women from marrying foreigners, my business will have more competition.”
Those in charge of English-speaking schools, on the other hand, are worried the law will prevent them from getting good teachers.
“The majority of teachers are male, and most end up wedding local women,” said a spokesperson for a chain of English-teaching cram schools in Shanghai. “If our teachers are banned from marrying Chinese girls, they may not stay in the country as long, and we risk losing talented staff.”
The law will go into effect by early 2018. Read the rest
Think twice before you honk! Here's a video of a motorcyclist who honks at an unmarked SUV that turns out to be a cop car. The cop is stopped at a yield sign, talking on his cell phone. The biker stuck behind him gives a quick honk, but when the SUV doesn't budge, he honks a bit longer. Nothing too rude, but the cop in the car doesn't take kindly to it. Read the rest
Today Uber rolled out their new Scheduled Rides option, allowing you to schedule a ride 30 minutes to 30 days in advance. This could be especially handy for people needing an early morning lift to the airport. One hitch is that for now, it's only in Seattle, although it'll be "followed by other top business travel cities."
Here's how it works, according to Uber:
Select uberX and tap “Schedule a Ride.”
Set your pickup date, time, location, and destination.
Confirm the details of your upcoming trip and tap “Schedule uberX.” You can cancel at anytime before your ride is on the way.
We’ll send you reminders both 24 hours and 30 minutes in advance of your pickup. You’ll be notified after your ride is on the way, as well as whether surge pricing applies.
Just make sure you're on time for your scheduled ride – otherwise you'll be fined. And if you're not in Seattle, you can still sign up to be the first in your city to try it. For more details on Uber's Scheduled Rides click here. Read the rest
In the 2008 book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the theory that it took 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything. If you wanted to be the best violinist, painter, tennis player, or anything else that took talent, 10,000 was the magic number. But now the authors of the original 1993 study say that Gladwell's simple assertion just isn't accurate.
One of the authors of the study, Anders Ericsson, just co-authored a new book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise (with co-author Robert Pool) to clarify what the study actually meant. According to Inc.com:
Problem 1: The number 10,000 was chosen arbitrarily
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First, there is nothing special or magical about ten thousand hours. Gladwell could just as easily have mentioned the average amount of time the best violin students had practiced by the time they were eighteen (approximately seventy-four hundred hours) but he chose to refer to the total practice time they had accumulated by the time they were twenty, because it was a nice round number.
And, either way, at eighteen or twenty, these students were nowhere near masters of the violin. They were very good, promising students who were likely headed to the top of their field, but they still had a long way to go when at the time of the study. Pianists who win international piano competitions tend to do so when they're around thirty years old, and thus they've probably put in about 20,000 to 25,000 hours of practice by then; ten thousand hours is only halfway down that path.
In 1969, Hillary Rodham, at age 21, was the first student ever to give a commencement speech at Wellesley College, and the college has just released excerpts of it. I would not have recognized her voice, which was higher-pitched and had a faster rhythm, but she had the same intensity and self-assuredness then as she does now.
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Before Trump became the Republican nominee, BuzzFeed and the Republican National Committee had struck a $1.3-million deal to run ads in the fall before the general election. But then came Trump, and it looks like his racist comments of the last week were the last straws. According to Politico:
In an email to staff on Monday, BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti explained that in April, the RNC and BuzzFeed signed an agreement to "spend a significant amount on political advertisements slated to run during the Fall election cycle." But since Trump became the nominee his campaign has proven themselves to be "directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States," because of proposed bans on Muslim immigration and comments about descendants of immigrants, among other policies.
Read the full story here
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Here is one couple's trip around the world, one second per day. What took them six months to experience takes us armchair travelers only three minutes! Read the rest