Sadie dear… Don’t antagonize the demon clown.
The Brain Scoop:
Year of the Passenger Pigeon
September 2014 marks the 100-year anniversary of the passenger pigeon’s extinction. How is it possible that the number of these pigeons - at once the most numerous species on the planet - could decrease from 3.7 billion individuals to 0 in just forty years?
During the eradication of this species many people assumed the populations would somehow renew themselves. Conservation wasn’t on the minds of most people living in North America in the mid-19th century, and given the destructive potential of a few billion birds roosting in your backyard they weren’t exactly a hallmark species.
Could we bring back the passenger pigeon? Newly developing technologies focused on de-extinction efforts could mean we potentially bring them back… but at what cost, and more importantly, where? Habitat destruction, climate change, and human impact means we’re losing innumerable ecosystems worldwide - it’s reported that by 2050 as many as 20-30% of all life on our planet today will be extinct.
We’re living during this miraculous time of incredible technology where we’re more strongly connected with one another than ever before. We have tools, resources, and access to knowledge unprecedented in human history. It’s about time we tapped into our collective awareness and begin to think critically about our individual impacts. What can we do to live in tandem with our environment? What can you do?
This Brain Scoop video is especially timely considering this recent announcement by the Audubon Society scientists stating that climate change could threaten more than half of all bird species within the next century, thanks to habitat loss and disruption of migration routes.
Human beings have a very real and often very rapid impact on the planet and the other species that call it home. As Elizabeth Kolbert writes in The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History:
“When the world changes faster than species can adapt, many fall out. This is the case whether the agent drops from the sky in a fiery streak or drives to work in a Honda. To argue that the current extinction event could be averted if people just cared more and were willing to make more sacrifices is not wrong, exactly; still, it misses the point. It doesn’t much matter whether people care or don’t care. What matters is that people change the world.”
Let’s not do this again. Isn’t one Martha enough?
L’art du scribe
Why a sword feels right
- by Randy McCall
Many readers will have had the experience of shopping for modern, practical cutting swords, both replicas of ancient swords and modern designs. One of the most common tips given to new sword-shoppers is to pick up and try out many different swords “until you find one that feels right for you”. Rarely is any explanation given for precisely what this means.
Shoppers presume it has something to do with whether the hilt is the right size for their hand, or that it has something to do with the sword’s “balance”… whatever that is.
Some lucky few will have had the chance to handle high quality antique weapons. Those who have are often shocked that these blades — often of the same weight and length as the modern replica blade they use at home — have a completely different “feel”.
Often master blades seem lighter than than their actual weight, with a sense of “liveliness” (easy to rotate in the hand), and with the feeling to make almost effortless cuts or thrusts. This isn’t to criticize the sword makers of today — there are master swordsmiths around the world — but to demonstrate the skill and genius of the weapon makers of old.
The basic question then is why is there a difference between how these swords feel, and how can a sword practitioner use this knowledge to their advantage? There have been a number of papers, articles and discussion threads on this topic, often delving into physics formula to define and explain mathematically how and why a sword feels, moves and strikes as it does.
One of the main resources for this will be “Dynamics of Hand-Held Impact Weapons” by George Turner; a fairly technical exploration of the physics behind why swords handle as they do (and an indispensable resource for those interested in designing good swords). There are also several other articles, plus web forum discussion threads, which explore this area which we’ll draw on.
Never fear though; we’ll leave the calculations behind and focus on the practical applications. Those who wish to see the maths can check the links in the Sources section.
So, let’s start off with a few basics. We’ll presume that the swords you’re looking at are well designed, have properly sized hilt grips, etc., so we can ignore the ergonomic factors.
A sword has several physical characteristics which can affect both its feel in the hand and how it handles. Let’s take a look at these, along with examples of how you would check these while inspecting your blade…
Reblogging one of my favorite photosets for International Literacy Day. Along with this:
Vivian Maier, Untitled, 1962
now playing: Babbus of the Galaxy!
as always, they are childrens, we must treat them with toys and candy and mild booty shaking.