Sunday, September 06, 2015

Coffee and Provocation

Texas Closing Its Last Greyhound Track
Greyhound racing at tracks is going the way of buggy whips and slide rules, replaced by slot machines, Facebook, and Indian Casinos.  The last greyhound track in Texas will close January 1st, with business sliding 85 percent since its opening in 1992.

Hummingbirds Use Hawks for Defense
Hummingbirds use hawks as bodyguards for their nests, setting up their own nests near hawk nests

American Bad Ass
Eugene Jacques Bullard lived a life worthy of movie. Born in Columbus Georgia on October 9, 1895, Bullard was one of 10 children. As a teenager, he stowed away on a ship bound for Scotland, and arrived at Aberdeen before making his way south to Glasgow. He later became a boxer in Paris and at the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he enlisted on in the 1st Regiment of the Foreign Legion. He was a machine gunner in 1915 on the Somme front and he fought at Artois and in the second Champagne offensive along the Meuse river. Bullard was seriously wounded in March 1916 during the Battle of Verdun, and after recovering from his wounds, he joined the French Air Service as an air gunner. He later went through flight training at Châteauroux and Avord and received his pilot's license in May of 1917. Bullard joined 269 American volunteer aviators at the Lafayette Flying Corps of the French Air Service. When the United States entered the war, the United States Army Air Service recruited Americans serving in the Lafayette Flying Corps, but Bullard was was not called because only white pilots were allowed to serve. The French, of course, were less bigoted and they awarded Bullard the Croix de Guerre, Médaille militaire, Croix ducombattant volontaire1914–1918, and the Médaille de Verdun, among others. In 1954, the French government invited Bullardto Paris to help rekindle the everlasting flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc Triomphe. In 1959 he was made a chevalier (knight) of the Légion d'honneur. More here. Sadly, he spent the last years of his life as an elevator operator, largely unknown in his home country.

A 108-Year Old Message in a Bottle

Beginning in 1904, 111 years ago, marine biologist George Parker Bidder, released 1,020 bottles in the ocean in order to better understand how the deep currents of the sea worked. The bottles were designed so that they'd bob close to the sea floor rather than on the surface. Most of the bottles were found  months after their release by fisherman trawling in deep water, but not all of them. Earlier this year Marianne Winkler and her husband, Horst, found one of the bottles while on vacation on Amrum, a German island in the North Sea. Inside was a postcard with instructions to send it back to the Marine Biological Association of the U.K., which they did. The bottle they found appears to have been released in 1906, which means it has been afloat for 108 years.

The Economic History of a Single Block
I have been on this block in New York City, and this web site is fabulous.  Check it out.

The RSPCA is a Predator on Old People

The RSPCA's hires private firms to research people which they can put the tap on for donations when they die. It's an ugly business designed to find the old, the infirm, the addled, and the emotionally vulnerable.  This is how the RSPCA makes its big money.

A New Species:  The Snowden Crayfish
"Having travelled across the world from its so far only known locality, West Papua, New Guinea, the new freshwater crustacean was given the name of the controversial former CIA employee and government contractor Edward Snowden. Thanks to Lucsa M. for this and several others of this week's bits!

Three Trillion Trees?
There are roughly 3 trillion trees on Earth — more than seven times the number previously estimated,  according to a tally by an international team of scientists.

Will a Starfish-Killing Robot Save the Great Barrier Reef?
Scientists have designed a robot that kills Crown of Thorns Starfish which destroy coral.

A Very Specialized Leech
There's a very specialized species of leech that burrows into the anus of a hippopotamus and feeds on the blood vessels along the wall of their rectum. Some life!


jeff hays said...

Ok ,I REALLY wanted to see the starfish robot but you linked the tree story to the starfish story.
As a bonus, I clicked on every link on the page, and saw my first hippo butt leech.

PBurns said...

Fixed it! Thanks for the note -- running out of the house before 8 to hit the fields and pasted it in wrong, apparently. Should work now.