For Your Enjoyment #45

More than a year in the making, our new adventure jumpsuit was inspired by one of our customer favorites, the REI Co-op Sahara Convertible pants. They’re comfortable and attractive, with a zip-off design that takes them from pants to shorts. But why stop there? Why not four zippers per leg for even more adjustability? For that matter, why even stop at pants? We asked ourselves: What would the world look like if you could have a single piece of hyperlight, super-breathable and ultra-warm apparel? .... “The cape is my favorite feature. There have been so many times I’ve been snowboarding and going for a big drop, and I thought ‘I left my cape at home,’” Adam said. Plus, the cape doubles as a bib for those messy camp meals.

- REI's April Fools' product is SO GOOD (video above)

Dubbed “Project Sage Hopper” by the WWGD team responsible for evaluating the viability of Wyoming’s habitat for Australian marsupials, it has been in the planning stages for 3 years. The goal is two-fold: Create new and interesting wildlife viewing opportunities for tourists, and in several years, potentially provide additional hunting opportunities. “Antilopine means ‘antelope-like, so we are interested to see how these kangaroos adapt to Wyoming’s wild landscapes,” WMI Director Matt Kauffman said. “If they start migrating, we’ll be tracking their movements, looking to see how they learn to exploit the sage steppe and the mountains, where they ‘hopover,’ those sorts of things.”

- Another great April Fools' story (read a response from the news outlet here)

During a speech on Thursday, President Trump revealed a striking ignorance of one of the pillars of his country’s educational system. In the course of promoting his infrastructure plan, he, a bit perplexingly, dismissed the country’s community colleges, suggesting he doesn’t know what purpose they serve. “We do not know what a ‘community college’ means,” he told the crowd in an Ohio training facility for construction apprentices, moments after expressing nostalgia for the vocational schools that flourished when he was growing up—schools that offered hands-on training in fields such as welding and cosmetology.

- Just stop

“It doesn’t matter what era we live in — visibility is so important because … little queer kids need to see flamey people like me and Jonathan [Van Ness],” Kressley said. “It’s okay to be any kind of person you want to be; it’s okay to be who you are. I think that’s why it’s important that it’s back.”

- The original cast of "Queer Eye" on the new reboot (which I may or may not have binge-watched in one sitting)

"Tomi the bear was forced to live in a cramped concrete enclosure outside a restaurant in Albania where he was fed beer and white bread as an attraction for tourists," Claire LaFrance, communications director for Four Paws, told The Dodo. His rescuers believe that Tomi was in that terrible little cage ever since he was a baby. "We assume that Tomi was caught in the wild as a cub and had been living in the squalid conditions for roughly two years before we rescued him," LaFrance said. Even though he could glimpse that there was a world outside his cage, all poor Tomi could really sense was the cold concrete floor and the bars around him. But people were determined to make sure Tomi got to experience much more than that. For the past few years, people from Four Paws have been working with governments across eastern Europe to coordinate the release of bears like Tomi, who have been stolen from the wild and exploited for entertainment. Gradually, these bear rescuers have been able to bring more and more bears to their sanctuary in Kosovo — Bear Sanctuary Prishtina — which was recently expanded so it could provide a home for even more rescued bears.

- Read more about Tomi and and other rescued bears over here and here (warning: you may shed a few tears of happiness) 

For decade after decade, generation after generation, [National Geographic] reinforced and reflected racial stereotypes that its white American readers were accustomed to and with which they were largely comfortable. Flick through back issues and you see a magazine almost entirely at ease with this colonial mindset. Had that all begun to change in the 1960s, during the era of civil rights and decolonisation, there would be no need for a “race issue” in 2018. But it didn’t. ...The decision to confront its past could, perhaps, be explained away as a strategically savvy attempt by a famous brand to reposition itself for the new America that demographic forecasting tells us is coming, no matter what Trump and the “alt-right” do. But what is happening at Nat Geo feels like more than that. “We are at a moment of some reckoning in our society,” said [editor in chief, Susan] Goldberg in a recent PBS interview. She is right.

- "For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It."

[The Hazelton, PA annual festival] Funfest, in Sally Yale’s eyes, became too scary. Too uncomfortable. To be honest … too brown. “You just know if you go to a public event, you know you are going to be outnumbered,” Sally Yale says. “You know you’re going to be the minority, and do you want to go?” For Yale, the answer was no. “We joke about it and say we are in the minority now,” says Bob Sacco, a bartender at A&L Lounge, a tavern on a street now mainly filled with Latino-owned storefronts. “They took over the city. We joke about it all the time, but it’s more than a joke.”

- (Not-so) White America 

 ‘Two cats + feral toms = 24 kittens in one year, and that is with us ACTIVELY trying to trap/neuter/release. If we hadn’t? CATPOCALYPSE.’

- This couple went from having 0 cats to 24 rescued kittens.

[San Francisco's] Japantown (J-Town) is not as picturesque as the tourist magnet of Chinatown, that’s several big hills east of here – but it has its own story to tell. The Japanese moved to this area after the 1906 earthquake, when the areas where they then lived burned down. J-Town has had to weather two other cataclysms: the internment of its 5,000 inhabitants during the second world war and an urban renewal scheme in the 1960s that saw most of its original buildings bulldozed. “My family was displaced by the scheme,” says Richard Hashimoto, the current head of the Japantown Merchants’ Association. “Many never came back. We went from 36 [city] blocks to nine. And, with the current tech-driven real-estate boom in the city, the mom-and-pop businesses that did make it have another struggle.” ... “Persistence is our story,” Hashimoto says. “The challenge for our small family businesses is both with rising real-estate costs and seeing if the next generation will will carry on the business.”

- SF's Japantown: its history, its culture and its future

"Overall very good first impressions. Sturdy built, totally winter-ready and waterproof. Only comes in brown but that’s actually a plus for me."

- The internets' #rateaspecies is really good

Claire’s Stores Inc., the fashion accessories chain where legions of preteens got their ears pierced, is preparing to file for bankruptcy in the coming weeks, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

- NOOOOO, NOT MY CHILDHOOD

The same industry — composed of reality television and gossip blogs — that aided and exploited [Paris] Hilton's rise also eroded her celebrity. The Simple Life was, in fact, remarkably simple, a narrative playing up a caricature of Hilton that operated in a bubble apart from the real world. And while she was able to parlay that reality television persona into a lucrative fragrance and fashion brand (and a forever-iconic pop single, if not a full-fledged pop career), she didn’t keep up with the changes of the reality-celebrity landscape. Instead, a new generation of reality personalities — from Real Housewives and Kardashians to Sur servers — figured out how to turn themselves into brands whose "real” lives were integral to their shows. Gossip blogs and social media feuds became parts of the plot, demanding a constant stream of content and convincing performances of authenticity. But Hilton only got caught being "real" (usually through an arrest, or friend feud) outside of her reality productions, and seemed unwilling to embrace the scandals of her own making as part of her brand or her onscreen narrative. The public soon grew bored. By the time Kim Kardashian appeared on the scene, Hilton had become an emblem of a quaint past where mystery could still work as PR strategy, rather than a part of the media future where nothing is private and everything — if you look at it the right way — is content.

- "Why Paris Hilton Disappeared" - This BuzzFeed article is a surprisingly good read

Similar to the rise of Cardi B, the way [Tiffany] Haddish presents herself is simply too loud, too black and too woman. A potpourri of all three. Or how Mo’Nique “had a point,” but the way she said it wasn’t sitting right with some folks. Haddish is the latest black woman accused of “cooning,” “skinnin’ and grinnin’” and “shuckin’ and jivin’.” So, I have to ask, if Haddish is doing the Nae Nae for the white gaze, who is your respectability politics boogie for? At a time when it is trendy to be “unapologetically black,” there’s something about the way certain “blackness” is excluded that doesn’t quite curl all the way over. You can’t be unapologetic with an asterisk. Blackness encompasses an immeasurable index of idiosyncrasies, and its fluidity is what makes it worthy of endearment. Haddish’s presentation of blackness is just as dope and valid as Angela Rye’s.

- "It's Hot to Be Unapologetically Black...Unless"

Simon would later describe The Wire in different ways: as “Greek tragedy for the new millennium,” with sclerotic institutions playing the role of callous, indifferent gods; as a story about “the triumph of capitalism over human value”; and as a chronicle of “the decline of the American empire”. On Homicide: Life on the Street, NBC executives would repeatedly ask the writers: “Where are the victories?” The Wire avoided victories, preferring to show corruption, failure and decay. In this show, reformers would be thwarted, crooks rewarded and ordinary people ground down by the system. The Wire was as much journalism as entertainment – a form of protest television. The most frequent question asked in this writers’ room was: “What are we saying?”

- The Wire: 10 years later 

Lifestyle vintners have also left their mark on Napa’s landscape. Most refer to themselves with straight faces as “farmers,” even as “environmentalists,” while more trees are cut on surrounding mountainsides for yet more vineyards. They loudly praise the valley’s exemplary past and glorious future while exploiting its present. For instance, a prominent computer-boom beneficiary named Mike Davis has spent more millions on his sprawling new winery than will likely ever be recovered through wine sales. Since the Napa Valley floor is all planted, only the hillsides are available for new vineyards. And Davis is bent on scraping out a vineyard high on Howell Mountain that would adversely affect a precious wildlife preserve, one of the state’s most biologically rich remnants. 

- Rich people are ruining wine

[T]hese efforts to create warriors out of teachers as a means of addressing school shootings are wrongheaded. I used to be in the Marines, and now I'm a classroom teacher. From these experiences, there is one thing I know to be true: Responding effectively to an active-shooter situation is one of the toughest challenges for a marksman out there. To train teachers for this role would be an enormous task—and policymakers who think otherwise aren’t being realistic. ...Over the course of my time in the Marines, I trained on various heavy machine guns for the purpose of convoy operations, and consider myself to be proficient with a firearm. But none of the skills I learned would truly transfer into an active-shooter situation. Furthermore, as a teacher, I know that most of my day is spent alone in a classroom with my students. Efficient communication—the type forged in the military and necessary for neutralizing an active shooter—cannot occur when teachers spend the day cut off from other teachers in separate rooms. Had I wanted to continue carrying a firearm at work, I would’ve stayed in the service or chosen a different profession after my enlistment. Having worked with high-school students for several years now, I understand that my ability to be effective as a teacher is predicated on the existence of an environment conducive to learning and trust building. This environment will not exist in a schoolhouse where teachers double as armed guards.

- Teachers are not soldiers

Once in front of the portraits, most museum goers did one of three things: They held up their mobile phone to take a picture of the painting; they turned around to snap a selfie with the painting as backdrop; or they posed next to the portraits for a companion to take a souvenir shot (making the Obamas’ Smithsonian portraits into the world’s most expensive life-size cardboard cutouts). What hardly anyone did was this: Raise their eyes from their mobile phone and use their allotted time to gaze up at the arresting, symbol-laden canvases.

- As someone who struggles with balancing documentation with the act of being present, this was worth a quick read 

In a nostalgic twist, Smashing Pumpkins announced this 2018 [reunion] tour with a video featuring the original "Siamese Dream" album cover stars, Ali Laenger and LySandra Roberts, who are now adults. Besides making any '90s kid feel positively ancient (after all, the women were just tiny kids back then) it was also a stark reminder that time doesn't stand still. The classic rock phenomenon — bands touring with a negligible amount of original members — long ago started trickling down into other, younger genres. That Smashing Pumpkins would be on a victory lap without all original members isn't out of the ordinary. It's just a tough bit of historical revisionism to swallow.

- The Smashing Pumpkins are almost reunited - and that's the problem

A jeweller by trade, [Michel] Birkenwald has become one of London’s most enthusiastic engineers of infrastructure for animals. He founded and self-financed Barnes Hedgehogs around four years ago. The group drills the holes for free and generally advocates for the welfare of wild hedgehogs. Once Birkenwald has crafted a passage, he usually affixes a sign reading “Hedgehog Highway,” with the creature’s spiky silhouette. Even with a diamond drill tip, the work can be slow going. Victorian bricks are tough, and it can take upwards of an hour to carve a shape roughly the size of a CD—the smallest circumference that can comfortably accommodate the girth of “a porky hedgehog,” says Emily Wilson, of another advocacy group, Hedgehog Streets. Whatever Birkenwald lacks in academic credentials—he doesn’t have much background in environmental science or zoology—he makes up for in earnestness. “I am just an average guy who decided to help one of our most adorable mammals,” he says. 

- Hedgehog Highways!

Our most revered institutions hold themselves to an ethical standard that does not allow accepting money from wealthy drug dealers – however tempting the prospect or worthwhile the project. They refuse to become philanthropic money launderers, cleansing dirty reputations by selling prestigious naming rights. There is one notable exception to this institutional honor code: the Sackler family. The Sacklers have made a fortune from OxyContin, the painkiller blamed for sparking the deadly opioid crisis. They are world renowned donors – despite also being world class drug pushers, responsible for almost as many deaths last year as the drug cartels in Mexico.

What do we do about the Sackler family's drug history? Also: this

Park rangers reassured the Ackleys they'd seen a family of bears, an explanation [Claudia] Ackley didn't much care for. She says she filed the lawsuit because people are "totally vulnerable to these things" due to the state's failure to recognize the Bigfoot threat. "The lawsuit alleges the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Natural Resources Agency have been derelict in their duty by not acknowledging the existence of the Sasquatch species, despite a mountain of documented and scientific evidence. It has had a chilling effect on the study of the Sasquatch, considered illegitimate and relegated to the category of 'paranormal research.'"

- Safety first! Also, note to self: go squatchin' one of these days.

Researchers long thought humans were the only critters out there that could see in three dimensions. Known as stereopsis, the trick takes a lot of processing power—and scientists didn’t think many animals had enough brains to do it. But that idea has slowly changed overtime. During the late 20th century, scientists found that macaques, cats, horses, owls and toads have this superpower. And surprisingly, so does the tiny-brained praying mantises. Now, as Ed Yong reports for the Atlantic, researchers equipped praying mantises with tiny goggles to figure out how stereopsis works in a critter with so few neurons. And it’s unlike anything else yet seen in the animal kingdom. They published their work this week in the journal Current Biology.

- Praying mantis goggles!

For Your Enjoyment #44

 
 

Credibly, some have noted that Patagonia and [company CEO Rose] Marcario were, at the end of the day, corporate, capitalist figures and that — despite its messaging — the company's campaign did serve to promote and help the brand (at least in the eyes of left-leaning customers). Yes, both Marcario and her company have been generally consistent and thorough in their support of environmental causes and criticism of the worst parts of the GOP agenda (they've assailed specific politicians, platform planks and bills in the past). There's no denying, however, that Patagonia is a for-profit enterprise and that, for all the good it does, it exists to make money. In its efforts to do so, Patagonia contributes to the industrialization of the environmental tourism trend which, in itself, can pose a threat to some of the very national monuments it seeks to protect.

Patagonia’s “The President Stole Your Land” raises some tough questions (image above)

“I lift up the animal’s tail,” said Joanne Crawford, a wildlife ecologist at Southern Illinois University, “and I’m like, ‘Get down there, and stick your nose near its bum...People think I’m nuts. I tell them, ‘Oh, but it’s beavers; it smells really good.'”

Ever wonder from where vanilla flavoring comes?

In software engineering, rubber duck debugging or rubber ducking is a method of debugging code. The name is a reference to a story in the book "The Pragmatic Programmer" in which a programmer would carry around a rubber duck and debug their code by forcing themselves to explain it, line-by-line, to the duck.

- I'm going to require my students to start carrying around rubber ducks (h/t DM)

The richest way to see “Le Petit Prince” is as an extended parable of the kinds and follies of abstraction—and the special intensity and poignance of the story is that Saint-Exupéry dramatizes the struggle against abstraction not as a philosophical subject but as a life-and-death story. The book moves from asteroid to desert, from fable and comedy to enigmatic tragedy, in order to make one recurrent point: You can’t love roses. You can only love a rose.

- The Strange Triumph of "The Little Prince"

“The images are shortlisted by how funny they are and the technical quality of their photograph,” says contest co-founder and co-judge Paul Joynson-Hicks, “subsequently the [finalists] are judged purely on their humour and content.”

20 Top Photos from the 2017 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards (h/t TheCoolComfort)

Poverty porn, wrote Jorgen Lissner, who first popularised the term in 1981 as an appropriate label for the aid campaigns targeting developing countries, “exposes something in human life that is as delicate and deeply personal as sexuality, that is, suffering ... It puts people’s bodies, their misery, their grief and their fear on display with all the details and all the indiscretion that a telescopic lens will allow.”

- Poverty porn: well-intentioned but harmless nonetheless?

It all started with the muffin top, that telltale spillage of flesh over the top of a tight waistband. Then came the bingo wing, the supposedly shaming droop of flesh beneath middle-aged arms; or maybe it was the cankle (chubby ankle), or the saggy knee. I forget now. It’s hard for women to keep track of which specific body part is currently being shamed to death, when it seems to be open season on all of them. But even by the demented standards of female self-flagellation, the emergence of “arm vagina” – aka the slight fold of flesh created where the average arm meets the average body – is a low point. If you’re reading this in a public place and unable immediately to check whether you have arm vagina, then let me help; you almost certainly do. Everyone does. It’s basically a normal human armpit, which tends to involve some spare capacity in the flesh department, what with it being difficult to raise your arm otherwise.

- These body-shaming fads need to stop. 

Telling the truth about sexual abuse is hard for anyone, but it has particular challenges in the conservative, Mormon community of Utah where Carol [not her real name] was raised for most of her life and where she now lives. Carol, who identifies as a Mormon feminist, sees a parallel with powerful men in Hollywood and those in the Mormon church. “It’s men in power taking advantage of their positions of authority,” she said. “In the LDS church or any patriarchal religious community, it’s even more condensed and insulated, and there’s a lot of pressure to forgive and to not rock the boat.”...According to Uniform Crime Reports, the rape rate in Utah has been consistently higher than the US rate; it’s the only violent crime in Utah that occurs at a higher rate than the rest of the nation. [Tara Tulley, a therapist practicing in the predominantly Mormon community of Utah ] said these reported rapes represent only a small portion of the actual numbers. In Utah, she said, the internalized shame runs deep. “Our [Mormon] culture objectifies women’s bodies. You’re told that if you’re wearing something immodest, you are walking pornography. It’s your responsibility to control how men see you,” Tulley said. This is reflected in Mormon literature: “Central to the command to be modest is an understanding of the sacred power of procreation, the ability to bring children into the world,” reads the official church website at lds.org. “Revealing and sexually suggestive clothing, which includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that do not cover the stomach, can stimulate desires and actions that violate the Lord’s law of chastity.” 

- Mormon women and the #metoo movement

In the fall of 2013, Charlotte Lindqvist got a call from a film company making an Animal Planet documentary about the yeti, the mythical apelike creature that roams the Himalayas. So, not the kind of thing scientists usually like to mess with. “Friends or colleagues were saying, ‘Oh, watch out. Don’t get into this whole area,’” she recalls with a laugh. But she said yes. Lindqvist said yes because she is a geneticist who studies bears, and the rare Himalayan brown bear is one possible origin of the yeti legend. The team from Icon Films wanted to use science to investigate whether the yeti is real; Lindqvist wanted to investigate the enigmatic bears of the Himalayas.

- Is the Yeti actually just a bunch of bears?

I have to be honest: I really don’t understand white people. They’re confusing! I mean, white people are in charge of everything in America, they dominate government, business, finance, tech, real estate—every industry that matters—and yet guess who feels like they’re discriminated against? That’s right, white people, some 55% of whom say whites are discriminated against in America today, according to a new NPR/Robert Wood Johnson/Harvard poll. Now, this is not entirely a surprise—a 2011 Harvard study found a similar conclusion: “Whites see racism as a zero sum game they are now losing.” White people may be consistent but they’re still confusing. I don’t understand how people with such a tight grip on power in America could be so insecure about it. So I decided to ask some white people about it.

- Racial discrimination against white people: real or perceived?  

Jeremy was found dead on Wednesday. But "the sad news comes with a bittersweet twist," writes the University of Nottingham. "Shortly before his death, Jeremy was finally able to produce offspring after mating three times with another 'lefty' snail, ensuring that his legacy will live on through continuing genetic studies into his rare mutation."

- Jeremy: A Snail Love Story

The point is that [Billy] Corgan’s dissociation with truth is hardly headline-worthy news. The question is, has Corgan gone from harmless reality-star-level-insanity to purveyor of toxic ideologies, and what should we do about it?

- What do I do if the frontman of my all-time favorite band is actually kind of toxic?   

“We take a kind of vow of poverty to continue practicing our profession,” Debra Leigh Scott, who is working on a documentary about adjuncts, said in an email. “We do it because we are dedicated to scholarship, to learning, to our students and to our disciplines.” Adjuncting has grown as funding for public universities has fallen by more than a quarter between 1990 and 2009. Private institutions also recognize the allure of part-time professors: generally they are cheaper than full-time staff, don’t receive benefits or support for their personal research, and their hours can be carefully limited so they do not teach enough to qualify for health insurance. This is why adjuncts have been called “the fast-food workers of the academic world”: among labor experts adjuncting is defined as “precarious employment”, a growing category that includes temping and sharing-economy gigs such as driving for Uber. 

- Homelessness, sex work, shame, dedication and outright poverty: the glamorous life of The Adjunct Professor Next Door  

You can find house cats on every continent except Antarctica. But that wasn't always the case. How did cats make it across oceans and into households worldwide? The secret lies in ancient cat DNA, which a team of scientists traced back thousands of years. They report their results in a paper recently published in the journal Nature. Here's how cats spread across the world. 

- An animated map of how cats spread across the world!

For Your Enjoyment #43

 
 

If there’s one thing I learned in this odyssey, it’s that automatic cat feeders are the equivalent of giving a piece of dental floss to someone serving life in prison. With infinite time, you can escape anything, and (it turns out) break into almost any robot.

- Cat v. Cat Feeder (images above; h/t DM)

Netflix recently conducted a global survey of more than 30,000 couples who stream and released its findings on Monday. The new data reveals that more than 48 percent of streaming couples in the U.S. are slipping up and watching ahead of their partners. Since 2013 the number of cheaters has tripled as it has become more socially acceptable to commit streaming adultery. What’s worse is that most say they plan to keep on cheating. Indeed, 63 percent of cheaters say they’d gladly do it more if they knew they’d get away with it, and nearly half of those who do the dirty are repeat offenders — once a Netflix cheater always a Netflix cheater.

- I once caught D watching the next episode of Westworld without me, so I watched the next few episodes of Stranger Things without him. So there. (True story) 

Donald Trump had Scott Baio and a “Duck Dynasty” star. Hillary Clinton had Jay-Z and Beyonce, Katy Perry and Bruce Springsteen, Clooney and Leo, Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer, among many, many other A-listers who hosted glittering fundraisers, who raised hundreds of millions of dollars for her. One takeaway: celebrity endorsements in presidential politics don’t matter anymore. Another, more likely and long-term: They hurt. Why? It’s an old saw in conservative circles that Hollywood liberals — and, by extension, the cultural and coastal elite — are out of touch with mainstream America. This unprecedented election proves, now more than ever, how true that is. While celebrities spoke of social issues, of preserving Obama’s legacy, of the first female president, a huge swath of America voted for one reason: rage at being left behind, economically and culturally.

- Apparently even Miley Cyrus couldn't change the outcome of this election

In the pitch black of night on the Colorado River's burly Lava Falls rapid, an aluminum bar had snapped and punctured a 4-inch hole in the inflatable beam of the custom-built craft. The air hissing from the punctured tube wasn’t just the sound of trouble. It signaled the dissipation of a dream to paddle the 277-mile length of the Colorado River’s Grand Canyon in record time.

- You have to read about this valiant but ultimately failed recent attempt at breaking the Grand Canyon speed record 

Sure, coaches had talked about "changing the culture" in Oakland for years, ever since Jon Gruden was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002. From Bill Callahan's "dumbest team in America" rant to Norv Turner's painfully awkward two-year tenure to Art Shell's unfortunate one-year "fox in the hen house" return to Lane Kiffin being eviscerated in Al Davis' awesome overhead projector presser that included an intermission to Tom Cable's sanguine "We're not losers anymore" proclamation after going 8-8 in 2010 to Hue Jackson's epic meltdown to Allen's uninspiring visor and sharpie, it's been quite the chaotic ride. But none actually pulled the culture change off until Del Rio - who grew up in the shadow of the Oakland Coliseum in nearby Hayward and shared the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with the Raiders in college at USC - arrived [in 2015]... Change the culture? You could say Del Rio, who has pictures of the Raiders' Super Bowl-winning coaches, John Madden and Tom Flores, hanging in his office as inspiration, simply dug the team's swashbuckling nature up again as if it was Sparano's football.

- Raider Nation

When are we going to face up to the fact that we have got our priorities all wrong? When are we going to stop the blame game and take the steps that need to be taken to improve conditions in our schools for both teachers and students and, in doing so, inevitably raise standards?

- The state of education. Sigh.

“I think that gnawed at Michael a little bit,” said author Max Byrd, a longtime friend of Crichton’s from their undergraduate days at Harvard, “that if you were popular you can’t be very good . . . . Michael kept talking about Charles Dickens — Dickens was both popular and good. It vexed him when people would just say, ‘Well, a pop writer or a pop scientist.’ He knew the subjects; he knew the subjects he went into better than just ‘pop.’ ” 

- Revisiting Michael Crichton's life and career 

For the Hollywood origin stories we know to be satisfying, the heroine in question must have no idea she is worthy of such attention until she is suddenly rescued from obscurity. Especially if she is to be remade as America’s next great sex symbol — as Anna Nicole Smith was in 1993, when she suddenly saturated American media, appearing on magazine covers, billboards, and screens of all kinds, and found herself touted as her decade’s Marilyn Monroe. If the heroine’s allure is the product of not just blind luck but sustained effort and intent — let alone strategic surgical alteration and courtship of wealthy benefactors, as Anna Nicole Smith’s was — then she is too powerful to remain sympathetic, and becomes an object of jealousy, rather than aspiration. It’s one thing to be chosen as a goddess; it’s quite another to claw your way to the top of Mount Olympus. And when the public finds out a goddess is in fact a striving mortal, this revelation will push her into a very different kind of myth: one whose satisfying conclusion comes not when a woman is exalted, but when she is destroyed.

- A look back on the tragic rise and fall of Anna Nicole Smith

Understand the logic of polarisation and you will understand that Trump wants a violent reaction. He wants to be able to tell white Americans that his opponents are “professional anarchists”, as he said last week. He wants liberals to treat all his supporters as if they are as debased as he is. He can then turn to his base and say liberals hate them because they are white; that they see them as nothing more than stupid, deplorable bigots. Force me from power, he will conclude, and these hate-filled enemies will come for you and give the “tremendous advantages” he was pretending blacks enjoyed in the 1980s to their favoured minorities.The alternative, and not only in America, is to go back to the despised and patronised working-class followers of the right. You should try to win them over in elections rather than march with the already converted at rallies. You should cordon off the true racists and fascists and listen to and argue with the rest with a modicum of respect. If that can happen, then perhaps the world will learn that the best way to end the power of compulsive liars is to break the compulsion of their followers to believe.

- In not-at-all groundbreaking news: the real problem lies not necessarily in the liar, but in the believers

"The outdoor industry creates three times the amount of jobs than the fossil fuels industry, yet the Governor has spent most of his time in office trying to rip taxpayer-owned lands out from under us and hand them over to drilling and mining companies. And just a few days ago, the state announced plans to sue the federal government to reverse the recent protection of Bears Ears, a site containing thousands of years of Native American archeological treasures and craggy red rocks beloved by climbers from all over the world. Politicians in the state don’t seem to get that the outdoor industry—and their own state economy—depend on access to public lands for recreation. I say enough is enough. If Governor Herbert doesn’t need us, we can find a more welcoming home. Governor Herbert should direct his Attorney General to halt their plans to sue and support the historic Bears Ears National Monument. He should stop his efforts to transfer public lands to the state, which would spell disaster for Utah’s economy. He should show the outdoor industry he wants our business—and that he supports thousands of his constituents of all political persuasions who work in jobs supported by recreation on public lands.We love Utah, but Patagonia’s choice to return for future shows will depend on the Governor’s actions. I’m sure other states will happily compete for the show by promoting public lands conservation."

- Patagonia (along with Arc'teryx and others) plans to skip this year's Outdoor Retailer show. If nothing positive comes out of the meeting planned this week, perhaps the show can take Denver up on its hosting offer?

[Rogue NPS Twitter] feeds have stepped into a space briefly opened by verifiable public employees who were promptly shut down [last month]. On January 24, the official Badlands feed posted, “Today, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate.” Coming as the Trump administration removed references to climate change from the White House website and froze the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding for research (the freeze was lifted on Friday), this bare factual tweet rang of defiance. Shortly afterward, it was taken down. Soon thereafter, the alternative accounts began to appear. NASA and the EPA have their anti-Trump Twitter doppelgangers. Even an alternative account for the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, in West Branch, Iowa, has been reminding followers of Hoover’s warning that, “Immediately upon attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.” No matter who is running the alt-public feeds, the popularity of their tweets seems to come from their saying and doing things that many of the people who are alarmed by the first days of the Trump administration would love to see from public servants. That the first, actually official Badlands tweets on climate science became a cause célèbre indicates just how subversive and defiant basic science feels to critics who don’t trust the new administration to honor it.

- "The Gentle Anarchy of the Park Ranger"

For Your Enjoyment* #42, POTUS Ed.

* a subjective term

 
 

Donald Trump, a person who will never be president, has nevertheless been the nexus of the American media's coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign season.

- Gawker, September 2015 (image above)

If you're waiting for Donald Trump to pivot to become "presidential" - a candidate who will stay on message and, objectively speaking, not hurt his own campaign - then I have one word for you. Stop. Really. Because it just isn't going to happen.

- CNN, July 2016

First off, Donald Trump is never going to be the president of the United States. Whether you like him, simply find him amusing, or like most Americans, feel something between mild irritation and absolute hatred for the real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star, you probably know that his brand of fiery, accusatory, blowhard rhetoric doesn’t play well with voters.

- Ask Men, August 2016

Under “President Trump,” America would degenerate to its ugliest, darkest days. He would single-handedly destroy its reputation and the 240-year-old principles on which it stands. And that is precisely why Donald Trump cannot, will not, be elected president.

- HuffPo, June 2016

[A] new examination of the demographics and projected voting patterns in some of the key Rust Belt states underscores just how unlikely [Trump's winning the general election] really is. To succeed, this analysis finds, Trump would likely have to improve on Mitt Romney’s advantage over Barack Obama among blue collar whites by double digit margins, which is an astronomically high bar — in almost all of these states.

- The Washington Post, March 2016

So for once in Trump's long, luck-filled life, the game is rigged against him. Because Trump, unlike most of his Republican rivals, has not spent years winning the loyalty of political elites, in an arena where that's essential. The irony, of course, is that Trump has more in common with the elites who will lie down on the tracks to stop his candidacy than with the voters who profess to love him. If this is a game, Trump is not supposed to be on the field—he's supposed to be in the owners' box, deciding who gets to play. National politics is like smashmouth football, and Trump was not built to be a player. There's a reason why you never see the owners on the gridiron.

- Vice, August 2015

Donald Trump’s nomination is a sign of the Republican Party’s absolute failure and weakness, not a commentary on America’s strength. It is to the eternal discredit of the Republican Party’s that they have embarrassed the country by nominating a man like Donald Trump. But he’s not going to win in November, because he doesn’t have the votes. No matter what the angry white GOP primary voters think, America as a whole - this complex, multiracial, Information Age, economically resilient, World’s Greatest Democracy of a country - is not going to elect an angry orange clown. Donald Trump might do a lot of damage to America’s political culture, but he will never be president.

- Paste, May 2016

"What kind of a man does that? Root for people to get thrown out on the street? Root for people to lose their jobs? Root for people to lose their pensions? Root for two little girls in Clark County, Nevada, to end up living in a van? What kind of a man does that? I'll tell you exactly what kind — a man who cares about no one but himself. A small, insecure moneygrubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as he makes some money off it. What kind of man does that? A man who will never be President of the United States."  

- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, May 2016

Issues matter, plans for the country matter, ability to govern matters – and none of those things are strengths of Donald Trump. He is first and foremost a man with a tremendous ego that needs to be fed, not a man of serious ideas or well thought out positions that go beyond sound bites. His bluster and unvarnished rhetoric have gotten him farther than I would have thought but, at the end of the day, the American people will not buy what he is selling.

- US News, August 2015

Before one more straight-faced political story is written about the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, the obvious begs to be stated: The man has absolutely no chance of winning. Zero. Nada. Write it down. Take it to the bank. Bet the farm. This preening self-parody of an egomaniac will never, ever be elected president of the United States. 

- Miami Herald, July 2015

And here's the bedrock obstacle to Trump's success: There are simply not enough struggling, resentful, xenophobic white people in the US to constitute a national majority sufficient to win a presidential election... Bottom line: The strongman approach is inherently self-limiting. It flourishes in the bizarro environs of a modern Republican primary, but there is no evidence at all, and much to the contrary, that it could be used to assemble a national majority. Yet it is the only approach in Trump's toolbox. That is why he will never be president.

- Vox, January 2016

So, could Trump win? We confront two stubborn facts: first, that nobody remotely like Trump has won a major-party nomination in the modern era. And second, as is always a problem in analysis of presidential campaigns, we don’t have all that many data points, so unprecedented events can occur with some regularity. For my money, that adds up to Trump’s chances being higher than 0 but (considerably) less than 20 percent. / There are lots of undecideds, and Clinton's polling leads are somewhat thin in swing states. Nonetheless, Clinton is probably going to win, and she could win by a big margin. 

- Nate Silver, November 2015 / November 2016

Americans have never chosen someone like [Donald Trump] to lead one of their two major parties. And now that he’s the presumptive nominee, Americans will - for the first time in their history - have a choice of whether they’ll put him in the Oval Office, to lead the country for four years. They almost certainly won’t. 

- Slate, April 2016

"I continue to believe that Mr Trump will not be president. And the reason is because I have a lot of faith in the American people."

President Barack Obama

For Your Enjoyment #41, The Animal Ed.

“Government wildlife agencies are charged with managing species to achieve positive outcomes at the population level but there’s no doubt that most people relate to animals on an individual level,” [Yellowstone superintendent Dan] Wenk said recently as he was taking that message to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis. “I believe individual bears like 399 can solidify the sense of connection citizens feel to public lands and public wildlife they own.”

Grizzy 399 is alive and well! (image above)

Sam Steingard of Germantown, Maryland, didn’t have a date to his senior prom last year, so he looked around and found an adorable companion right in his own home: his cat, Ruby.

- This guy is my hero.

A previous winner of the ‘World’s Ugliest Dog’ title for his “natural ugliness in both pedigree and mutt classes” has redeemed himself by taking out a ‘Most Heroic Hound’ award this week. Mugly, a twelve-year-old Chinese Crested dog, won the National Pet Show award in London for his work with British Organisation, Therapy Dogs Nationwide. 

- Looks really DON'T matter.

What you don't hear amid all the noise surrounding the Bison Legacy Act is anything about the continued mismanagement of the last truly wild bison. These herds have existed on the American landscape since prehistoric times but are now found only in in Yellowstone National Park, where they survive under a management program defined by round-up, quarantine, and slaughter conducted in the interest of a far more powerful icon of the American West: the livestock rancher. Ranchers fear the invasion of bison into grazing areas where cows are considered the only deserving users of the public domain. (Ranchers also believe, without any scientific basis, that bison pose a disease threat to cattle.)

- National Mammal or not, we continue to slaughter bison left and right

In a recent post on social media, an officer working for West Midland Police's Central Motorway department shared an image of three sheep that had been rescued from suspected poachers. Confusingly, though, the sheep's faces had been blurred.

- Sheep need to have their identity protected, too

“Cats Meok Bang,” a mash-up of the Korean words for broadcasting and eating, began by accident. While visiting his mother-in-law in a mountainous village in southwestern Korea, Koo Eun-je saw a cat outside, wondered how it survived and put out leftover fish for it. The next day, the cat was back so Koo kept feeding him, and the others who followed. Finally, he set up a surveillance camera and livestreamed the scene online. “We started the channel simply for me and my wife to watch, but other viewers also started watching it,” the 35-year-old who previously worked as a web designer said in an interview near the lake where he goes bass fishing for the cats. “We guessed that there would be one or two cats, but now it turns out that 17 cats are coming to eat food.” Four months on, 110,000 South Koreans watched the show on a monthly average and more than 10,000 of them have bookmarked the show. Some viewers sent him virtual cash items, which help cover his living expenses and cat food. Others send food and donations to Koo. As his cat TV got popular, at least one copycat show emerged. 

- South Korea: Where watching stray cats eating is the newest online fad

Pierre, despite his three-year featherless period, lived a full life, tending to the nest he shared with his longtime lady friend Homey, enjoying a spot of herring here and there and fathering more than a dozen offspring. It was 2005 when the plucky African penguin lost his feathers for reasons that remain a mystery. He began to feel insecure, as many of us would without our normal coverings, and lost interest in eating and hanging out with Homey. The other penguins rudely ostracized Pierre. “It made him look different. The bird that stands out is drawing attention, which isn't good. You don't want to draw attention to yourself when you are potentially prey,” Brenda Melton, curator for the aquarium, told The Chronicle in 2014. “Pierre became a liability.” Pam Schaller, an aquatic biologist, swooped in to restore Pierre’s confidence with a custom wetsuit that got him back in the water and, more importantly, back in the good graces of Homey. He returned to their nest around 2008 when his feathers reappeared. Once his feathers returned, Pierre came to dominate the academy’s penguin exhibit as the alpha bird, said Vikki McCloskey, assistant aquarium curator. African penguins usually live to age 20. So at 33, Pierre was an elder statesman at the academy’s Steinhart Aquarium. His waddle slowed in recent years and he developed cataracts, but he remained active and continued to enjoy the company of Homey in “every way possible,” McCloskey said.

- Rest in peace, dear wetsuitted Pierre

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey last month delivered a sobering update on the white-nose syndrome (WNS) epidemic in North America. WNS has been confirmed in a little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) near North Bend, Washington, over 1,300 miles west of the previously identified western edge of the disease front, Nebraska. ... In the worst-case scenario, a complementary strain has been introduced into North America and will eventually find its way to locations where the East Coast strain exists, facilitating a more recalcitrant and adaptable pathogen. In the best-case scenario, this case represents a loss of containment within North America, reducing the value of efforts to slow the westward spread of WNS while treatments can be developed and western bat hibernacula can be identified. Either way, the news of a WNS-positive bat in Washington state represents another disaster for bats that are already experiencing unprecedented declines.

- Oh no. (Related: read more about WNS over here)

In the video, the humpback whale is seen breaching twice. Minus a few curse words as they are surprised to see it, the dialogue as they watch it breach is funny. One of the men aboard the boat can be heard saying, “Oh ****! Did you see that?” One of his buddies responds, “I got him,” as he tries to get video. Another adds, “We’re whale watching.” Another person says, “Look at there.” And one, seemingly in awe, said, “Unbelievable.” But scientists said seeing a humpback in the bay isn’t all that rare. James G. Mead, a curator emeritus of marine mammals at the Smithsonian, said the fishermen likely did see a humpback whale. But it isn’t all that unusual. He said a recent survey found that in May there was a “gathering of humpback whales off the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.” “It’s probably one of those,” Mead said.

- ...There are humpback whales in the Chesapeake??! 

"Ah-choo." 

- This guy

Here’s what most American birdwatchers are, according to a 2013 government study: White, older than 45, fairly well-off and pretty highly educated. Here’s what many people think birdwatchers are: Creepy. That’s according to a recent study that says it is the first “empirical study of  ‘creepiness.’ ” Led by psychology professor Frank McAndrew at Illinois’s Knox College, the study set out to introduce “a theoretical perspective on the common psychological experience of feeling “creeped out,” and to figure out what makes us think other people are creepy. David. J. Ringer, the National Audubon Society’s chief network officer, took the study’s conclusions in stride. “If you’re already a birder, maybe don’t point your binoculars at other people’s houses, stop your car in the middle of the road, or yell “Bushtit!” during an otherwise civil dinner conversation,” Ringer told the Post in an e-mail. “And if you’re not a birder yet, take a good long look at a cardinal, a hummingbird, or an eagle cam and see what happens. You might get hooked — just remember to keep it family- and bird-friendly.”

- Sorry, birdwatchers: People think you're creepy

Whether you love or hate your job, here's a position you might be happier in: Chief Wombat Cuddler. Tourism Tasmania is holding a contest for Australian residents to meet 8-month-old Derek, a sweet little guy who is melting the Internet's collective heart. "Not only will you and a friend be flown from your nearest Australian capital city to Tasmania's Flinders Island to smother our little friend with cuddles, you'll get to spend three nights exploring Derek's island home," the contest's website says.

- Justin Johnston, winner of the Chief Wombat Cuddler Competition, landed the World's Best Job

The Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park in Bristol, England, says it received an anonymous package filled with eight hand-knit jumpers for the park’s eight 2-week-old lambs. “The jumpers were left outside the park with a note to say they were for the baby lambs,” the park’s marketing manager, Kim Pounsberry, told ABC News. The lambs needed the extra warmth from the jumpers because they are orphans and it helps their survival, according to Pounsberry. Before the sweaters, the lambs had been wearing plastic “lambing jackets.” Pounsberry said park officials believe the knitted jumpers came from someone locally but do not have any leads. When asked what she would want to tell the donor, Pounsberry said, “A big thank you.” 

- There are some wonderful people out there

In 2005, when Mr. Goynes first met [wheaten terrier] Sonja, he was living in a refrigerator box in the entranceway of a building down the block, in the West 50s. He’d been homeless since the 1970s, spent years freebasing cocaine. But he had gotten clean in 2000, and he was scraping along doing odd jobs on the block. “After I got Sonja, he saw various people walking her when I was at work,” said [Sonja's owner] Ms. Kilty, who was studying to be an epidemiologist. “He said to me, ‘I can walk your dog.’ He said this to me several times and eventually I thought why not give it a try, because he clearly needed some income and support.” “It helped me get myself together,” Mr. Goynes said. “It keeps you from messing around, doing other things bad. ‘I got a dog-walking job, I’ve got to maintain.’” “Sonja,” he said. “Man. I was on the street when I met Sonja. Now look at me. I’m 67 years old. I came through the ranks, sir. She helped me, I helped her.” Mr. Goynes found a permanent home in 2007: spartan quarters in a building on East 28th Street run by the nonprofit supportive-housing provider now known as Breaking Ground. One room, a chair, a bed, a little fridge, a television, a bathroom. He walked Sonja most weekends. Sometimes he would house-sit the dog in Ms. Kilty’s penthouse, sometimes for weeks at a time. “He was so reliable and so good, and she loved him so much,” she said. Mr. Goynes liked to watch sports on Ms. Kilty’s big TV. Last spring, Sonja fell ill with inoperable cancer...Mr. Goynes asked Ms. Kilty for Sonja’s tags so he can put them on a necklace. On Thursday, she gave them to him.

- Sometimes pets help us more than we help them