Video: Starlings return to Israel in amazing murmuration »
This formation is called a “murmuration” of starlings, and while we understand why the birds do it—to search for food and defend against predators—per Wired, we don’t understand “what physiological mechanisms allow it to happen almost simultaneously in two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds.”
Until science figures it out, we can certainly appreciate it as part of the magic of nature, which is pretty incredible.
Pig factory farms are really bad for the mostly poor, non-white people who live near them »
Some really depressing news from EHP about how pig factory farms are and how they impacting the lives of the people who live near them. SPOILER ALERT: it’s not giving them magic powers or helping them live really long happy lives!
Wired breaks it down:
… in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, which finds an association between air pollution and odor in the near vicinity of swine farms, and hikes in blood pressure in local residents. When you put the pieces together — most hog confinement operations are in poor, non-white areas; cardiovascular disease is endemic in African Americans; North Carolina lies within the worst US area for cardiovascular disease, known as the “Stroke Belt” — you can see that anything that makes blood pressure chronically worse is bad news for public health.
That study, though, is just the latest in a long string of publications that Wing and team, and the community they have been studying, have brought forward over the past decade. During the meeting, Wing gave a comprehensive overview of the major problems with confinement agriculture, setting it within a context of environmental injustice and worsening public health.
Ugh, this shit is so bad for everyone, especially poor, non-white people, the folks who are shit on by society the most are now being literally shit on.
I get it, bacon tastes great, I’m not denying that, but the fact is, there are lots of fatty, salty, smoky foods that taste just as good (or almost as good, if you’re truly a crazy person for bacon) and the price that we pay for this obsession is ruining lives. Just fucking give it up, please, it’s better for your health, and the health of everyone else.
Rejoice! Looking at cute animal photos is good for you! »
Good news, everyone! Time to go find kittens, puppies, and bunnies online!
Wired Science reports on a new study that suggests looking at cute animal pictures can improve your concentration. The research was done in Japan, where cute overload is basically the national condition.
Cute baby animals help you concentrate, but they don’t help you just generally be smarter, though, so probably better to use kitten flashcards while studying but not while at cocktail parties. Though that would make you popular in other ways, so go for it! Bring kitten flashcards!
[Photo via cute overload]
Meet the newest member of the catshark family! Its name is Bythaelurus giddingsi, and it lives in the waters off the Galapagos islands. Seven of them, including big eyes up there, now live at the Cal Academy, with other, non-Galapagos catsharks.
This little fellow is “roughly the same size as a typical housecat,” and is pretty adorable for a top-level predator whose environment is being cold ruined by fishing.
“Matrix” chicken farms are creepy art, not reality »
Here’s a creepy idea: Given that modern chicken farming causes so much pain, why not just lobotomize the things and turn them into unconscious protein-growing machines, à la Matrix? Wired posted about it last week, a reader told us about it, and we kinda freaked out here in the back room. How is that better than going vegan?! That’s so f-ed up!
Then we chilled out. Because as the savviest (nerdiest) of nerds such as myself might notice, Wired’s post is on the mag’s culture blog, not on any of its science pages. Deep breaths, vegans. This ain’t real; this is an architecture student’s creation for a design show. ART. It’s supposed to make you think, not actually happen. And people thinking about the logical extension of how their food is currently produced? I’d call that good news all around.
Read a whole big long interview with the artist if you’re so inclined. You’ll notice dude’s not a saint—he says he could never go vegan, which is a ridiculous thing to say—but I think he’s clever and provocative and good news in general. Red pills for all!
Factory Farming = Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs. Europe Gets It. »
Some wonky science policy news from “across the pond,” as they say: Last month, European scientists and leaders talked some big talk about how the massive insane horrible quantities of antibiotics used in factory farming are going to kill us all.
The bad news? The massive insane horrible quantities of antibiotics used in factory farming are going to kill us all.
The good news? At least some officials, somewhere, admit it. “Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most serious public health challenges that we face,” says the head of Europe’s version of the CDC. And yup, overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is one of the big culprits.
This story gets really wonky really fast, so if you want details I’ll refer you to Wired.com’s coverage. But I just thought you should know, so you can be saving up for your plane ticket and your villa in France. Budget option: Stay in the U.S. and buy a hazmat suit. Hipster budget option: Buy a hazmat suit on Etsy.
[photo modified from an image by friendsoffamilyfarmers on Flickr]
The amazing math whizzes at OK Cupid have spoken, and now we have definitive proof of yet another way in which the veggie-set is a superior class of humanity: we’re way more into giving oral sex. SO GENEROUS! [And yes, dumbass, it’s vegan—no suffering involved!]
If you find this a silly chart, you probably need to go read the whole archive* of OK Cupid’s OKTrends blog, in which the free dating site’s founders make epic good use of their huge data pool to reveal hidden wonders about our species (at least the part of it which uses online dating sites). They use real math and everything! It’s hilarious!
Questions I still have (are you listening, math whizzes?):
- How does the vegan sub-class stack up? Perhaps they didn’t have enough data to answer that. Go sign up for an OK Cupid profile and answer all the questions about oral sex. No, I don’t care that you’re married, make your vegan husband sign up too. We need to REPRESENT!
- What happens if you cross-analyze this info and the vegan sub-class info with how people respond to the classic silly question, “Which would you rather give up for the rest of your life, oral sex or cheese?”
Math world, I await answers. In the meantime, I leave you with this generous list of veggie-friendly sex terms, compiled by OK Cupid staff:
Vegetarian-Friendly Sex Slang
Peeling the banana
Tossing the salad
Squeezing the melons
Zeroing in on a grown man’s nuts and nutsack
Putting Monsanto in yoursanto
Ordering the split pea soup
Sorry, that’s got ham
Bonus points for coming up with more in the comments.
*[For a fun, quick hit of it, check out the story I did for Wired applying their findings to Optimus Prime, leader of the Transformers. Yeah, I’m a nerd, but I’m a nationally published nerd so it’s all good.]
Industrial farming is killing the oceans »
Remember how the ocean’s fucked? It’s still fucked, especially in France, where the beaches are unfit for human presence because of “Up-stream releases of manure from intensive farming that overload the near-shore waters with nitrates.” It causes growth of a seaweed that releases a toxic gas!
Farm effluent is so amazing. It creates dead zones in places like the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay, which now covers 83 miles of that body of water. Back in December of 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a plan “to dramatically reduce the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that states can allow in the bay from municipalities and farms,” but guess whose opposition is blocking the EPA from implementing it: the American Farm Bureau Federation’s! Of course! Because dead zones are caused by runoff from those giant places food comes from, farms and feedlots.
In Brittany, 31 wild boars were found dead last week; the animals “‘were not [otherwise] sick and they did not drown.’” People can’t visit the beaches there because they could release pockets of the toxic gas the algae produces and die. How would this happen? By, you know, slipping and falling in the algae, or running, or walking. Not that anyone wants to play on a beach covered in horrible slime.
Industrial farming! It feeds most of the world while it kills the oceans! The best part of history is always when you realize no one’s planned more than like 10 minutes into the future.
Vegan Black Metal Chef is back with a second video! This time he’s making a few different dishes. To be honest, I haven’t watched it yet (I’ve got this thing called WORK, people!), so you tell me what you think!
Also Wired* has an interview with him! I guess we know what it takes to get some mainstream attention for being vegan now. Way to go, Brian Manowitz. Well-played.
*Disclosure: I work at Wired but had nothing to do with this, I swear.
Happy Easter from Vegansaurus and the teeny tiny Washington pygmy rabbit! These little guys were totally almost extinct when conservation groups and the Oregon Zoo took in the remaining buns and started a breeding program. Normally I hate zoos but if they save bunnies, I like that. Now they are going to start reintroducing them into the wild! Go little buns! Get your freak on!
I like these bunnies because they are totally punk rock. Just kidding; their ears are colored to tell them apart. Yeah, don’t try to get to know them or anything! Those damn impersonal scientists and their proclivity for hair [Ed.: HARE] dye.