A Tale of Two Kitties, an animated short by Robert Clampett, 1942

A Tale of Two Kitties, an animated short by Robert Clampett, 1942

A Tale of Two Kitties, 1942

An animated short by Robert Clampett

“Babbit and Catstello, take-offs on Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, try to catch the little Tweety bird, using everything from stilts to dynamite. Trouble is, the tiny bird has a vicious streak in him.” (IMDB)

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Woman hunts and fishes for her food for one year and writes book

Woman hunts and fishes for her food for one year and writes book

Louise Gray left her job as an environmental reporter to stalk and kill prey. And to fish, and gather mollusks. Concerned about the environmental impact of the commercial meat industry, and repelled by visits to slaughter houses, she vowed to eat only what she kills herself for one year, and write a book about her experiences.

The result, The Ethical Carnivore, My Year Killing to Eat, is a 320 page chronicle of her journey, and a study of the meat and fishing industries, and the state of our society. Unlike those who kill for sport, Gray only killed for food, preparing dinners for her friends with the meat she harvested herself, from wild sources. Her journey began with the difficult task of killing a beautiful white rabbit, which took uncomfortably long to die, and over which she was wracked with guilt and doubt. However, she quickly adapted to the hunter’s life, pursuing wild game all over England and Scotland for the next year. She harvested 21 distinct species of prey, culminating in the slaying of a magnificent stag in Scotland, which was her final hunt.

Along the way, in addition to acquiring and practicing the skills relevant to hunting animals, including shooting, stalking, field dressing, skinning and butchering, she met with and discussed the fishing and meat industries, and the environment, with a wide array of professionals, from farmers and slaughter house people to fishermen. She developed respect for fishermen and hunters, many of whom live close to nature, with a great love for the natural order of things. And she rejects the notion of holding slaughter house workers in contempt, but stresses the need to reform the meat industry, recommending higher standards for animal welfare, and the use of closed circuit televisions in slaughter houses. She’s also critical of commercial fishing, calling for reforms to lessen environmental impact.

After her year pursuing fish and wild game, Gray stopped hunting, and now eats a mostly vegetarian diet. She supports consumer responsibility, and recommends a big reduction in the amount of meat people eat, in addition to reforms to the industries that provide meat and fish to consumers.

Learn about Louise Gray’s book and experiences with subsistence hunting (CNN)



Photo: The ethical carnivore / CNN


Warning From Space, a film by Koji Shima, 1956

Warning From Space, a film by Koji Shima, 1956

Warning From Space, 1956

A film by Koji Shima

“UFO’s are seen around Tokyo. Because they look like giant starfish the aliens cannot approach us without creating panic. Hence one of them sacrifices itself and takes the form of a popular female singer. It/she warns mankind that a meteor will crash on Earth. While the approaching meteor causes hotter and hotter weather, mankind runs and builds a last-chance anti-meteor weapon.” (IMDB)

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Sky Diving Dogs to Stop Poaching in South Africa

Sky Diving Dogs to Stop Poaching in South Africa

Poaching is a multi-billion dollar industry with tragic consequences for African Wildlife: over the last seven years populations of endangered African animals have been reduced by one third—-a shocking number of great concern to naturalists, and all lovers of wildlife.

The park rangers need to identify poachers, get to them quickly and arrest them before they do damage and escape into the bush, a wilderness many thousands of square miles in area. Locating these criminals quickly is key to stopping them, which would shut down the supply of ivory and other illicit commodities that fuels the black market. Park rangers have tried drones, cameras mounted on the horns of animals, DNA testing, and more, but have struggled to solve this critical problem.

And now they may have found a solution, and it’s incredible. Teams of dogs and men have been trained to parachute from helicopters when a poaching alert is raised. The fast helicopters fly them to the approximate scene quickly, and the dogs get to work doing what they do best, tracking the poachers down before they have a chance to escape. Dogs have been trained to track the smell of ivory, ammunition, and explosives. A South African School is currently training 200 dogs, along with their human handlers.

This is a bold, innovative approach, and it sounds a bit crazy. It just might work. Anything that stems the tide of poaching in this region will be a welcome change. The endangered animals of Southern Africa need all the relief they can get.

Check out the following article, with a spectacular video showing a dog team in action:

Learn more about sky diving dogs catching poachers (Science Alert)



Photo: Science Alert / BBC News (screen capture)

Trump makes two big errors in tonight’s debate


Once again, Donald Trump starts out strong, sticking to his most favorable talking points, but ultimately manages to derail himself, demonstrating his worst behavioral tendencies. In contrast, Hillary Clinton’s steady, disciplined style, like the proverbial tortoise in the Aesop fable, triumphs over Trumps more dynamic, but erratic, hare.

Though Trump made some headway bringing up valid Clinton weaknesses, like her sticky e-mail  scandal that just won’t wash off, and her husband Bill Clinton’s infidelities (a surprisingly effective counter strike to claims about Trump’s obvious issues with women, considering that Hillary Clinton, the wronged wife, is actually the candidate) but he still made two critical missteps, both potentially huge.

When asked if he would stand by the election results, and concede defeat if it should come to that in November, Trump refused to answer. He said he would “Keep you in suspense.” But the effect was to imply he wouldn’t accept the election results, in the event of a loss. This shocked and outraged political pundits and journalists across the media, who stressed the importance of the nation’s continuity of government principle.

One of the greatest features of American democracy, unlike political systems in many nations around the world, is that, on November 9, the nation is whole again, and citizens can confidently expect power to transition smoothly over the next few months to the newly elected leader, even a new President, no matter what passions simmer, or boil, across the land. We don’t have coups. Powerful leaders step down. Always.

But Trump’s hesitance, interpreted as profound arrogance by many, is a slap in the face to this important principle of government. And to make matters worse, this not only contravened a great American tradition, but it directly contradicted statements by his running mate, former Governor Mike Pence, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. This looks bad, and won’t sit well with thinking voters.

If that wasn’t enough, Trump leaned into his microphone dramatically to call Clinton a “nasty woman.” This is not good news for the Trump campaign, which has scrambled in recent weeks to combat accusations of sexism and predatory behavior towards women, following the release of a scandalous video tape, and actual accusations of sexual harassment and assault by several women. Trump appeals well to his very conservative, poorly educated base, but he needs to win over college educated voters, men and women alike, who don’t respond well to this kind of undignified behavior—-it smacks of sexism and boorishness, to many.

To be sure, Hillary Clinton has some leaks in her game. But her slow, steady, studied approach in each debate, and her ability to keep her cool and stay on message, regardless of circumstances, and ignoring at times withering insults and interruptions by her opponent (particularly in previous debates) has proven to be the superior strategy in the long run. The only question is, with three weeks to go until election day, can Donald Trump make up for his poor debate performances out on the campaign trail, and will his outrageous off the cuff rhetoric be enough to pull him out of his recent slump in the polls? As the end game approaches, the current polls favor Clinton, and that’ s a difficult fact for Donald Trump.

Watch the Last Presidential Debate, Tonight Live! – 9 pm ET

Watch Tonight's Presidential Debate Streaming Live - Trump, Clinton - 9:00 pm ET

Watch Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Debate

9 pm ET – Streaming Live from Las Vegas, Nevada

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Amidst roiling controversies on both sides of the aisle, the Candidates, and the nation, gear up for the final Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. By all accounts, it should be quite a show. Though sadly, Presidential Debates need to be more than spectacles for our amusement: they need to deal thoroughly with substantive issues challenging the nation, and affecting the American People.

However, that’s unlikely to happen tomorrow night. But spectacle and controversy will undoubtedly abound. Trump is still reeling from a sex scandal, of sorts, in which he was recorded on video making demeaning, and even threatening, comments about women, while Clinton is struggling with recent releases of campaign e-mails hacked by Wikileaks, which don’t portray her campaign in a favorable light. In fact, according to some, they seem to support claims that she’s a two-faced, self-serving hypocrite. Of course, interpretation varies widely on this matter.

Trump continues his “scorched earth policy,” demeaning Clinton and challenging her competence and integrity at every opportunity. And recognizing he’s trailing in the polls, he’s now claiming the election is rigged in favor of the Democrats, pointing fingers at the media and high ranking political officials. In response, President Obama has suggested the Republican Candidate should “quit his whining,” while high ranking Republicans, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, scoff at the accusation of a rigged election. To paraphrase President Obama today, if you can’t take responsibility for your own situation, you can’t handle this job (The Presidency.)

Nation Readies for Last Presidential DebateSo, campaign hijinks continue unabated, and will likely explode upon that stage in Las Vegas, while all the while, in the real world, there’s no shortage of problems. There’s a final push underway to eradicate ISIS in the city of Mosul. Scientists tell us that the carbon dioxide content of our atmosphere that’s largely responsible for dangerous anthropogenic climate change has reached an irrevocable tipping point. And the American economic recovery remains marginal, while health care costs for the middle class continue to sky rocket, despite the Affordable Care Act.

And what about the question of foreign policy expertise? Though Hillary Clinton is clearly the winner, in terms of hours served in public office (Trump has accumulated exactly zero) including terms as U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, for many Americans questions still remain. Many feel she’s been deceptive regarding her handling of the tragic fall of the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi during a terrorist attack, despite numerous government inquiries, which cleared her obvious wrongdoing. And others make note of her particularly collegial and cozy relationship with Israel and certain European nations, which she may maintain, in their opinion, at the expense of the welfare of middle eastern nations, and the Palestinian people.

To be sure, the 2016 Presidential Election has turned into one of the greatest mud-slinging competitions of American History, and the American People, in the long run, will suffer for any short-term gains in tawdry entertainment they may get. But make no mistake, those who aren’t thoroughly disgusted by now, and there are many in that camp, will tune in by the millions to watch the fireworks.



Photo:  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

This caricature of Hillary Clinton was adapted from a photo in the public domain from the East Asia and Pacific Media’s Flickr photostream. The body was adapted from a photo in the public domain from the U.S. Department of State’s Flickr photostream. This caricature of Donald Trump was adapted from Creative Commons licensed images from Max Goldberg’s flickr photostream.


Carbon Capture Breakthrough? Nano Tech catalyzed CO2 to Ethanol

Carbon Capture Breakthrough? Nano Tech catalyzed CO2 to Ethanol

There’s a potentially monumental breakthrough in energy technology in the news. In a surprising development, researchers at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have turned carbon dioxide, the green house gas driving climate change, into ethanol, a useful fuel and chemical compound. What’s most exciting of all, the room temperature process appears to be quick, efficient, and economical, with yields of ethanol between 63 and 70 per cent.

The researchers used a wafer adapted with nanotechnology, using otherwise ordinary materials, to catalyze the reaction, to produce pure ethanol from CO2. They originally planned to make a catalyst based on graphene, which is a very interesting material made from a single layer of carbon just one atom thick. But they ended up making, for practical reasons, a wafer studded with tiny “nano spikes” culminating in points just a few atoms wide. The tips of these spikes can concentrate an electrical charge, where the desired chemical reaction, which includes a tiny droplet of nitrogen, takes place. They originally expected to produce methanol, but their wafer yielded its even more useful chemical cousin, ethanol.

So how might this help humanity? This technology could remove extra carbon dioxide from the air, where its excessive build-up is causing climate change due to the well-documented green house effect. In addition, and even more exciting, this method could be used as a storage mechanism for a completely renewable energy system, supplying the grid with power even when the sun doesn’t shine on solar panels, and the wind doesn’t blow across wind turbines.

During up times, when there’s ample renewable energy available, the system would generate extra electricity, above and beyond the needs of the electrical grid, and use this catalytic process to create ethanol. Then during down times, like at night, or when the winds aren’t blowing, the ethanol could fuel old-fashioned generators producing electricity to dump back into the grid.

This storage issue has been a major problem with scaling up alternative energy resources, so a cheap, efficient ethanol solution would be very workable. And creating ethanol in this manner, right from existing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, would be a carbon neutral solution, unlike burning fossil fuels, which dumps enormous quantities of new carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And let’s not forget that the internal combustion engines used in cars and trucks can also run on ethanol, so the possibilities are wide open for inserting this method into the energy economy.

Learn about this nanotech method to create ethanol from CO2 (engadget)



Photo: By Tony Webster from San Francisco, California (J.D. Irving Smoke Stacks) CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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