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Posted by MPX

Rachel Maddow reports that the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary has sent a letter to the FBI and the White House questioning...

North Cascades National Park

Jun. 24th, 2017 12:00 am
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North Cascades National Park
The diverse landscape in this Washington park includes mountain peaks, glaciers, rivers, lakes, and forests.

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Posted by Steve Benen

Of every Republican senator up for re-election next year, only one represents a state that Clinton won last year -- and he now opposes the GOP health plan.
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Posted by Caperton

Our world is a disaster, and it’s easy to get the feeling that everything is bad and nothing will ever be okay. But that’s not entirely the case, and I know that because here’s an adorable girl in a car…
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Posted by Caperton

New from the "Fox to Hold Town Halls About Henhouse Security" Department: Bill Cosby, recent recipient of a mistrial in the sexual assault case against him (prosecutors intend to retry), plans to host a series of town halls about not committing sexual assault. Hahaha, no, the town halls will be about sexual assault and the legal system, or specifically not being the victim of lying bitches accusing you of sexual assault.
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Posted by Andrew Bleiman

1_Baby lemurs 05312017 B

The Jackson Zoological Society is proud to announce the birth of two critically endangered Red Ruffed Lemurs.

On Saturday, May 27, Jackson Zoo keepers arrived at work in the early morning to discover two newborn males in the Lemur exhibit!

New mother, Nekena, arrived at the Jackson Zoo in December of 2016 from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. She joined the Zoo’s resident father and son, Timmy and Phoenix, respectively, as part of the Red Ruffed Lemur Species Survival Plan.

“The 2017 Breeding and Transfer Plan was published this past February. At that time we had 187 Red Ruffed Lemurs in the Species Survival Plan®(SSP), where we recommended 18 males and 16 females for breeding,” said Christie Eddie, Red Ruffed Lemur SSP Coordinator at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. “We are in the midst of birthing season and these offspring are among birth reports from five SSP institutions. I expect more to come!”

2_Baby 2

3_Lemurs on a pillowPhoto Credits: EJ Rivers/ Jackson Zoo

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Red Ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) as “Critically Endangered”. Found only in a small area of Madagascar, they are the most endangered type of Lemur in the world due to increased cyclones, illegal logging, and the illegal exotic pet trade. According to the IUCN, there are only approximately 35 Lemurs on average per square kilometer in their native habitat and declining rapidly. Less than 65% of newborn young survive to three-months of age in the wild, and there are less than 600 in zoos or refuges in the world.

“We are absolutely delighted to see these two little ones arrive, both for our park and the species as a whole” said Jackson Zoo Executive Director, Beth Poff. “More than a third of the animals at the Jackson Zoo are either endangered or threatened, and although every birth here is special to the staff, adding numbers to an endangered species is that much more precious.”

The Jackson Zoological Society participates in Species Survival Plans for many other animals, including successful births for the Pygmy Hippo and the Sumatran Tiger. The Jackson Zoo also regularly submits information and samples to dozens of ongoing international studies.

Now barely three weeks old, the Red Ruffed Lemur brothers are getting stronger every day. Unfortunately, it was the first pregnancy and birth for their hand-raised mom, Nakena, whose inexperience with newborns was apparent. Vet Tech, Donna Todd, stepped in and has been hand-raising the endangered babies ever since May 27th.

According to the Zoo, the two are like ‘night-and-day’ when it comes to temperament (one decidedly vocal, one much quieter). But both boys are eating well, have bright eyes, are jumping and playing equal amounts, and are more curious about their surroundings every day.

Special public viewings at the Jackson Zoo Vet Hospital are being arranged, and the Zoo hopes to be able to let the public “meet” them (at a distance) within the next month or so.

Visitors and Jackson Zoo members can visit the adult Lemurs during regular zoo hours (seven days a week from 9 am to 4 pm), and follow the Jackson Zookeepers on Instagram (@JacksonZoo) for close-ups and behind-the-scenes photos of all the park residents. People can also “adopt” the baby Lemurs (or their parents) for twelve months by contacting EJ Rivers at: ejrivers@jacksonzoo.org.

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Posted by Guest Reviewer

B-

The Moon in the Palace

by Weina Dai Randel
March 1, 2016 · Sourcebooks Landmark
RomanceHistorical: Other

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Turophile. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance category.

The summary:

There is no easy path for a woman aspiring to power

A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor’s attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the Emperor a gift he can never forget.

Mei’s intelligence and curiosity, the same traits that make her an outcast among the other concubines, impress the Emperor. But just as she is in a position to seduce the most powerful man in China, divided loyalties split the palace in two, culminating in a perilous battle that Mei can only hope to survive.

In the breakthrough first volume in the Empress of Bright Moon duology, Weina Dai Randel paints a vibrant portrait of ancient China—where love, ambition, and loyalty can spell life of death—and the woman who came to rule it all.

Here is Turophile's review:

Our heroine Mei is summoned to the Emperor’s palace after her father’s untimely death. There she quickly discovers the social stratification among the emperor’s many concubines. She also learns the intricate politics among the women, though not as quickly as perhaps she should have to succeed in her overriding goal: attracting the Emperor’s attention quickly so that she could assist her mother.

The most intriguing aspect of this book is the interpersonal dynamics between the women and the elaborate political games in which they engage. In ancient China (and in many other places), external power belongs to the men. At the Emperor’s Court, a woman’s worth and power derives from the interest displayed by the Emperor as well as the success in bearing the Emperor male heirs. Because access to and the favor of the Emperor is a scarce resource, the relationships between the women are fraught with intrigue and power struggles. Mei learns this the hard way when she is betrayed by a woman whom she believed was a friend and almost mentor.

Throughout the book, she faces dilemmas about whom to trust and to align with. Making these choices becomes even more difficult when she develops a friendship with and later an attraction to a young man whom she learns is the Emperor’s son. As this book progresses, she learns from each mistake and further cements her own power base though the book ends before that power is fully realized. Thankfully, there’s another book in the series and I plan to read it. If you enjoy novels about relationships between women and women finding their own inner strength through those relationships, you will enjoy this book.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the book for me was that the language felt too contemporary. It’s a challenge writing of an ancient time in a vernacular that modern readers will enjoy, but in general I found the dialogue too simplistic.

Reviewing this book has been a challenge for me because I wanted to like it more. Historical Chinese novels are a favorite genre for me, but the downside is that I can’t help but compare one book to another. Compared to other novels I’ve read set in similar time periods or of young women who find themselves in an Emperor’s court forced to survive on their wit, I didn’t enjoy this book as much. It doesn’t feel fair to even raise that comparison, however, when I’ve read and continue to read umpteen books set it in the Regency period. Thus, I’d still recommend this book but urge readers to follow-up to it by exploring other Chinese or Chinese American authors who write historical fiction and/or historical romance set in China, including but not limited to Anchee Min, Jung Chang, Jeannie Lin and more.

[syndicated profile] badastronomy_feed

Posted by Phil Plait

Chad Cowan is a storm chaser, and takes astonishing photographs and video of the magnificent weather systems we get here in the middle of the United States.

In late June of 2016, he took time-lapse footage of a supercell forming and growing over Nebraska. It's stunning. Watch:

 

Storm chaser Chad Cowan shot this time-lapse video of a supercell forming and merging with another huge storm system behind it.

 

So what's going on here? The details can be quite complicated — we're talking fluid hydrodynamics here, which is fiendishly complex— but conditions have to be just right for this sort of storm to form.

The video starts with cumulonimbus clouds, the big, puffy, cauliflower clouds that occur when warm, water-laden air rises (called convection). As it does the water condenses to form the visible cloud, and the various updrafts punch upward to form the numerous bumps and bulges.

Then an important event occurs: Underneath the cloud base, the wind shears. This is when a layer of air is moving faster or slower than a layer next to or beneath it. If a layer of air above another is moving faster, it can start a slow horizontal roll or cylinder of air, like a barrel rolling on the ground. But there are also strong updrafts, air moving upward. This can lift one end of the horizontal roll and make it vertical, generating a huge, rotating wall cloud. You can see that under the main part of the cloud.

That's called a mesocyclone, and the whole system is called a supercell. In this case, it's what's called a "low precipitation" or "dry" supercell, because there's not much rainfall from it. Sometimes these dissipate, but not this time: In Cowan's video it merged with another line of storms you can see behind it and to the left, and strengthened.

The intense aquamarine color is not uncommon in these storms, and the exact cause is still unknown. It's likely due to the presence of hail, with red light getting absorbed by the ice so that more green and blue lights gets to us. But it's not clear that's all that's going on.

I've seen a few big systems similar to this, though a very well-organized rotating mesocyclonic wall cloud is still on my "to see" list. They tend to form farther east of where I live; it helps to have wide plains so the wind shear can get picked up by those updrafts. In a sense I'm glad; while weather like this is mind-blowing to see, it's also extremely dangerous to be in.

I asked my friend Marshall Shepherd —who happens to be a meteorologist and in fact was president of the American Meteorological Society in 2013 — about the video, and his thoughts mirrored my own:

The beauty of this storm merger masks the inherent danger it also brings. One of our biggest challenges in meteorology is to developing an observational and modeling understanding of all the physical processes happening at this scale. Such understanding will move the needle further in possibly predicting tornadoes ...

It's sometimes easy to forget, while watching the spellbinding beauty of these systems, how dangerous they can be. This one was reported to spawn a tornado after the merger, but all by themselves the high winds, lightning and torrential rain are threatening enough. Understanding these storms is critical to life in the U.S. Midwest, and I'm glad scientists like Marshall dedicate their careers to doing so.

Tip o' the lens cap to Maksim Kakitsev. You can follow Chad's work on Vimeo, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Posted by Steve Benen

Asked if his party's bill bettered the state of health care, a Republican senator replied, "It depends on how you define 'better.'" Well, yes, it does.

Cool Stuff Friday

Jun. 23rd, 2017 11:18 am
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Friday is almost finished with this first draft…

 

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Merci!

Jun. 23rd, 2017 01:00 pm
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Posted by Jen

Have you heard of the Croquembouche [CROCK-you-EAM-butchy]? It's a French thing.

Well, if not, here's what it's supposed to look like:

So kinda like old, cobweb-wrapped monkey bread. But in a yummy way.

 

Well, a certain anonymous person - who shall remain unnamed to protect her anonymity - found this gem at a wedding which she may or may not have anonymously attended:

I believe her exact words were, "it looks like some kind of primitive jungle cake being attacked by a swarm of lactating spider-wasps."

Mmmm, lactating spider-wasps...

Well, uh, Jane D. [wink wink], thanks for putting a new spin on these things.

 

Note: I think it's important to ask yourself a couple of questions before commenting here on Cake Wrecks:
Question: Did Jen and john really intend to give us the pronunciation of a word?
Answer: No.
Question: Are Jen and john complete and total idiots?
Answer: No.
Question: Do they...
Answer: No.
Question: Would they...
Answer: No.
Question: What about...
Answer: No.
That is all.

 

*****

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