Category: Technology

Great white surprise: the well-travelled shark

In March, 2013, the non-profit, open-source research organization, OCEARCH, caught a four-metre, 900 kg, female great white shark off the Atlantic coast of Florida near Jacksonville, then released it after attaching monitoring and tracking devices. In the year since, the shark has travelled 31,000 kilometres, visiting Cape Hatteras, Bermuda, George’s Bank, Placentia Bay, and the Grand Banks, before crossing the mid-Atlantic ridge to a point 1200 kilometres off the coast of Ireland.

Shark's year of travel

In late October, Lydia, as the researchers nicknamed her. spent three days exploring Newfoundland’s Placentia Bay and Merasheen Island:

Shark in Placentia

You can follow Lydia’s travels on OCEARCH’s interactive, live-tracking map. You can follow OCEARCH on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Here’s a video of Lydia’s capture and tagging.

The UK Telegraph has more on the story. H/T: Alexis Madrigal.

Ever from the sparkles of ideas sprouts… found poetry!

To make sport of bad English translations by non-English speakers is to flirt with, nay dive headfirst into, unbecoming condescension. But sometimes, it’s irresistible.

“Please use it referring to as equipped,” has been an all-purpose mantra in my house ever since those words arrived on the wrapper of a Honda Civic air filter sometime in the 1980s.

Last weekend, my son Silas received a set of Chinese-made Edifier speakers he had ordered on line. Among the packaging, he found this poetic brand testimonial:

edifier-mod

I believe this can only be fully appreciated as blank verse:

Big surprise, astonishment, and enjoyment.

Ever from the sparkles of ideas sprouts
out of designer’s sketch.
Every piece of edifier’s works
breathes with a vivid life,
palpitating with the spirit of music.
For music is a spiritual thing,
and youth hood is creed.

In the domain of music,
we promenade hand in hand.
Edifier is not only a product,
but also a harmonious attitude to life.

Silas gave the speakers three stars out of five. Please use it referring to as equipped.

Which of Truro’s 79 restaurants shall we eat at?

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 9.20.08 PMA friend called tonight, en route from Halifax to Cape Breton, wondering if I could recommend a restaurant in Truro where he and his partner could eat supper.

A quick Google search turned up TripAdvisor.ca‘s listing of 79 Truro eateries. That’s right: 79 restaurants in Truro, one for every 159 residents. Moreover, 60 of the 79 had user reviews. Those that did not were mostly predictable chain outlets like McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s, and Subway.

In seconds, I was able to call up the dozen or so with the highest user rankings, eliminate those whose cuisine did not interest my friends, click through to the most promising restaurants’ own websites, and read some dinner menus to my friends over the phone. They settled on Bistro 22.* The whole process took less than five minutes.

OK, before this becomes so commonplace we don’t even notice it, can we just say the internet is an amazing tool?

* No offence to any of the others. It’s just what my friends felt like.

 

 

 

Post-Christmas book suggestion

This is a must-have for anyone living along the Strait of Canso superport, and for 14 residents of Goldboro, soon to be the site of an LNG terminal. Denizens of HRM may also want to bone up in anticipation of warships soon to be flying off the assembly line at the Irving Shipyard.

HowToAvoidHugeShips

Be sure to read the reviews, especially the third one down.

H/T: Sue, via Jane Kansas

Edward Snowden’s Christmas message: asking is cheaper than spying.

Every Christmas since 1993, British Television’s Channel 4 asks a noteworthy figure to record an “alternative” to starchy pieties of Her Majesty’s annual Christmas message to her subjects.

This year, Channel 4 tapped whistleblower Edward Snowden. From his temporary asylum in Russia, Snowden sounded a pithy, 1 minute, 43 second, warning about the dangers of government spying:

A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves — an unrecorded, unanalysed thought….

Remind the government that if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always cheaper than spying.

H/T: A.C.H. Noskwith

Apollo 8 revisited: How “Moonrise” was taken

Forty-five years ago, the astronauts aboard Apollo 8 snapped one of the most momentous photos in human history. Here’s how they got the shot:

H/T: Bethany Horne

Emus down vs. Emu Downs

HillsideTurbineBase

On Monday, Contrarian voiced skepticism about a Digby couple’s claim that wind turbines had decimated their their emu flock.

Andy MacCallum, vice president of developments for Natural Forces Technologies Inc., a company that helps develop small wind projects in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and British Columbia, responds:

I worked on a wind farm in Western Australia a few years ago called Emu Downs Wind Farm. An emu farmer was the major landowner for the project. The emus loved the turbines, and would gather at the turbine bases as they provided shelter from the wind.

This is, of course, merely an anecdote, just as the failure of the Ocean Breeze Emu Farm is merely an anecdote. By themselves, neither proves anything. But the Emu Downs story presents stronger evidence against the turbines-harm-emus hypothesis, than the Ocean Breeze story presents in its favor.

  • If turbines kill emus, then gathering around the Emu Downs turbines should have hurt the Aussie birds, but apparently it did not. The site remains a tourist attraction.
  • A thousand factors could have caused the Ocean Breeze emus’ failure to thrive. Owners Debi and David Van Tassell simply picked the explanation they preferred, with no supporting evidence.

Without considering possible alternatives, the CBC swallowed the Van Tassell’s sad story, whole. Not to be outdone, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald committed the same journalistic malpractice a day later.

The impulse to accept at face value any argument against any development, no matter how far fetched or specious, simply because those advancing it are deemed, “sincere,” is a recipe for basing decisions on ignorance, prejudice, and magical beliefs.

Where are the editors?

[Photo: Workers construct the base of a wind turbine going up at Hillside Boularderie, about 30 km from Contrarian’s Kempt Head base station. Courtesy of Natural Forces.]

Remember this?

If you’re under 30, probably not.

It’s a sonogram of a dialup modem connecting to an internet server, courtesy of Scotty Hull on Youtube. Quite beautiful, actually, as long as you don’t have to listen to it to get on line.

For your further edification, Oona Räisänen has diagrammed the component sounds and explained what’s happening each step of the way.

H/T: Flowing Data

Out of sight, out of mind: 175 dead children

Drones

Pitch Interactive, a data visualization shop in Berkeley, California, has produced an interactive infographic illustrating the results of US drone attacks in Pakistan. I can’t embed it, but clicking on the link will take you to a 90-seconds chronological overview.

Clicking on the ATTACKS, VICTIMS, NEWS, and INFO links in the upper left corner of the infographic adds background information and sources.

Less than 2% of the victims are high-profile targets.
The rest are civilians, children and alleged combatants.
This is the story of every known drone strike and victim in Pakistan.

Since 2004, the US has been practicing in a new kind of clandestine military operation. The justification for using drones to take out enemy targets is appealing because it removes the risk of losing American military, it’s much cheaper than deploying soldiers, it’s politically much easier to maneuver (i.e. flying a drone within Pakistan vs. sending troops) and it keeps the world in the dark about what is actually happening. It takes the conflict out of sight, out of mind. The success rate is extremely low and the cost on civilian lives and the general well-being of the population is very high. This project helps to bring light on the topic of drones. Not to speak for or against, but to inform and to allow you to see for yourself whether you can support drone usage or not.

H/T: Himalaya

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