Sunday, December 31, 2006


I watched The Raconteurs and Cat Power on Austin City limits tonight. Jack White and band were playing a song that reminded me of The Band of Gypsies playing Machine Gun at the Fillmore East on New Years Eve 1969. Not sure the name of their song, but it was darn good. Felt like it was one of those songs best heard live. Jack White is uber-cool and I really started liking him when he did some songs for the Cold Mountain soundtrack.

I found this version of Jimi playing at The Isle of Wight. The Filmore East versions, with Buddy Miles on drums instead of The Experience's Mitch Mitchell, are by far the best (they played more than one show). When I put this song on I am completely transported. I know it sounds cliche, but no other music does this to me. Get the "Live At The Fillmore East" 2CD set and put your headphones on and enjoy.

I hesitate to put this out there as THE song because the Fillmore version is much more powerful, but I still like this.


A fishing ship remains stuck on top of houses in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, two years after a devastating tsunami struck coastal towns along the Indian Ocean.

Thousands of people across the region lit candles, visited graves, and observed moments of silence on Tuesday to commemorate the tragedy. About 230,000 people died and millions more were left homeless when waves traveling as fast as a jet airliner slammed into villages in 11 countries on December 26, 2004.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Moths drink the tears of sleeping birds

Moths drink the tears of sleeping birds news service
Debora MacKenzie

A species of moth drinks tears from the eyes of sleeping birds using a fearsome proboscis shaped like a harpoon, scientists have revealed. The new discovery – spied in Madagascar – is the first time moths have been seen feeding on the tears of birds.

Roland Hilgartner at the German Primate Centre in Göttingen, Germany, and Mamisolo Raoilison Hilgartner at the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar, witnessed the apparently unique sight in the island state’s Kirindy forest.

Tear-feeding moths and butterflies are known to exist elsewhere in Africa, Asia and South America, but they mainly feed on large, placid animals, such as deer, antelope or crocodiles, which cannot readily brush them away. But there are no such large animals on Madagascar. The main mammals – lemurs and mongoose – have paws capable of shooing the moths. Birds can fly away.

But not when they are sleeping. The Madagascan moths were observed on the necks of sleeping magpie robins and Newtonia birds, with the tip of their proboscises inserted under the bird’s eyelid, drinking avidly (scroll down for images). This was during the wet season, so the scientists think the insects wanted salt, as the local soils are low in sodium.

But sleeping birds have two eyelids, both closed. So instead of the soft, straw-like mouthparts found on tear-drinking moths elsewhere, the Madagascan moth has a proboscis with hooks and barbs “shaped like an ancient harpoon”, Hilgartner says.

This can be inserted under the bird’s eyelids, where the barbs anchor it, apparently without disturbing the bird. The team does not yet know whether the insect spits out an anaesthetic to dull the irritation. They also want to investigate whether, like their counterparts elsewhere, the Madagascan tear-drinkers are all males who get most of their nutrition from the tears.

Journal reference: Biology Letters (DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2006.0581)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Persuaders

Check out The Persuaders. I think I'll use it in my class this semester.

Quote of the afternoon

". . . once language exists only to convey information, it is dying."

--Richard Hugo

Friday, December 15, 2006

World's Tallest Man Saves Dolphins, News at 11

December 14, 2006—Who says superheroes don't exist?

Desperate to save two dolphins that had eaten plastic pieces at an aquarium in China's Liaoning Province, veterinarians summoned the world's tallest man—7-foot-9-inch (2.36-meter) shepherd Bao Xishun of the neighboring Inner Mongolia region.

The plastic pieces had caused the marine mammals to lose their appetites and become depressed, Royal Jidi Ocean World officials told the BBC. But the dolphins' contracting stomachs had stymied vets' attempts to use instruments to remove the objects. Instead Bao's extra-long arms were able to extract the offending shards yesterday.

After Bao, 54, "operated" on them—their teeth wrapped with towels for safety, as seen in the bottom photo—the dolphins were in "very good condition," aquarium manager Chen Lujun told the BBC.

Veterinarian Zhu Xiaoling told the state-controlled Xinhua news agency, "Some very small plastic pieces are still left in the dolphins' stomachs.

"However, the dolphins will be able to digest these and are expected to recover soon."

—Ted Chamberlain

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Merry Christmas

So I'm sitting here at Panera with my Mac and books and coffee and feeling sorry for myself because I am poor and wondering how to make some money, blah, blah, blah and outside I see a man asking for change (which is such an odd word) and this kid, who looks like any of my students stops, pulls out his wallet and hands him a twenty. And I'm not looking at this guy thinking he can afford to just hand out twenties. Very unassuming young man. And besides feeling like a tool for worrying about money I am happy and slightly less disparaged about humanity in general.

Saturday, December 02, 2006