Smile and Wave Boys, Smile and Wave: Dogs and Penguins Edition

A pair of Maremma Sheepdogs in Australia have become the protectors of a waddle of penguins Down Under.

These two dogs are an Australian penguin’s best friend — with skills that have saved as many as a two thousand birds in the last ten years.

Foxes had nearly decimated the population of ‘little penguins’ on Middle Island — killing nearly 200 a year.

But, since 2006 when Eudy and Tula started guarding the species, which is the smallest type of penguin in the world, there hasn’t been any evidence of a predator attack.

After the dogs started patrolling the island, the flock grew from a low of just 10 birds to more than 150 today.

It was a local chicken farmer, Swampy Marsh, who first suggested using the large, white Maremma sheep dogs as penguin guardians because they were so good at protecting his free range hens.

The community of Warrnambool sponsored the dogs’ training and still provides homes for them through the winter.

During the penguins’ mating season, the dogs patrol the island five days a week, spending their days off at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, where they meet visitors and help educate people about conservation.

(H/T: to a commenter in one of yesterday’s posts at Little Green Footballs)

And because its in the title:



Cloud Cuckoo Land

After revoking the WaPo’s press credentials for accurately reporting that he insinuated President Obama is in league with terrorists, Trump is now doubling down on that very same bat-shit insane accusation and tweet-wanking over his own alleged prescience yet again:

The embedded article from Trump propaganda outlet Breitbart is entitled “Hillary Clinton Received Secret Memo Stating Obama Admin ‘Support’ for ISIS.” Vigorously auditioning for the role of “MiniTruth” in the dystopian hellhole of a Trump administration, the Breitbartians offer proof of nothing but their own disconnection from reality and inability to comprehend an intelligence report. Hillary Clinton is not amused:

Early on in this circus, someone observed that Trump’s success in the GOP primary was based on his willingness to ratchet up the insults and accusations beyond the bounds of rational discourse but that eventually, he would run out of room to escalate without sounding like a drooling psychopath.

Fellow citizens, we’ve arrived at that moment: The primaries officially ended last night, and Trump is already accusing both his opponent and the sitting President of the United States of being traitors who conspire with ISIS. I don’t believe in Peak Trump, but I am having a hard time imagining where he goes from here. The Illuminati? Chem trails? Lizard people? Help me out here…



Late Night/Early Morning Open Thread: Sleep Soundly

For your drifting off to sleep enjoyment this evening you have your choice: 15 foot bull gator toddling about a golf course in Florida, the two female protagonists from The Ring and The Grudge promoting their new movie by throwing out the first pitch at a Japanese baseball game, or both! Pleasant dreams!

 



Open Thread: Ted Cruz Fancies Himself A Machiavel

Because that corgi is still far more attractive to look at than Ted Cruz.

The man just cannot stop alienating people, even those who should be his allies. From Politico, yesterday, “Hannity blows up at Cruz: ‘I’m getting sick of it'”…

… Hours after New York Rep. Peter King said he hated Cruz and would take cyanide if he ever won the nomination, [Sean] Hannity conducted a 14-minute interview with the Texas senator, almost immediately pressing him on his campaign’s delegate selection operation that has obliterated Donald Trump’s.

“You’re hoping to get to a second ballot. In other words, in a second ballot people that support Donald Trump or John Kasich or Marco Rubio, if those delegates are still relevant, can then switch their votes,” Hannity said. “So you’re in a process of talking to delegates, and it seems to be very extensive. Could you explain to people what’s going on?”

“Sean, with all respect, that’s not what people are concerned about,” Cruz responded… “And the media loves to obsess about process. This process and this whining from the Trump campaign is all silly. It’s very, very simple…,” Cruz continued before Hannity interrupted.

“It’s more than a process question,” Hannity said. “It’s an integrity of the election question, and everybody’s asking me this question so I’m giving you an opportunity to explain it.”

A lightly chuckling Cruz said only hardcore Trump supporters would ask such a question.

“Why do you do this?” Hannity said, raising his voice. “Every single time I — no, you gotta stop. Every time I have you on the air and I ask a legitimate question, you try to throw this in my face. I’m getting sick of it. I’ve had you on more than any other candidate on radio and TV. So if I ask you, senator, a legitimate question to explain to the audience, why don’t you just answer it?”…

And then last night…

Today he finally, more or less, answered the question about his cunning plan to win the convention if he can’t win the primaries, per NBC:

Ted Cruz declared definitively on Wednesday that the fight for the Republican presidential nomination is “definitely headed to Cleveland,” where, he said, “the people are going to prevail.”

“Nobody’s getting 1237 [delegates] – Donald knows that. We’re headed to a contested convention,” Cruz told NBC News while shaking hands after his rally here in a state with 71 delegates up for grabs in next Tuesday’s primary.

“The reason why he has so many of his media surrogates repeating the mantra that the race has got to be over now is because he knows he cannot earn a majority of the delegates in Cleveland,” Cruz continued, calling Trump “a fringe and marginal candidate.”

Cruz exited New York’s primary without winning a single delegate, nearly mathematically vanishing his ability to win the nomination before the convention – a standard he often used last month to indirectly suggest John Kasich and, then, Marco Rubio should leave the race…

Read more



Open Thread: The Party Decides… That Ted Cruz Is A Creep

People just don’t like Ted Cruz! It seems that practically everyone who’s spent so much as a long weekend in his company can’t abide him. Even other Republicans…

Whether they first met him decades ago…

…. worked with him, per the NYTimes, as he first entered the DC establishment

… In Mr. Cruz’s time as a Supreme Court clerk, a coveted step in a legal career that he had meticulously plotted out, he showed his now familiar capacity to infuriate colleagues. He also worked hard to please his boss, delved into the nuances of constitutional law for long, grueling hours and sought to smooth over harsh feelings at clerk happy hours. But when he left, he was most remembered by his fellow clerks for his fervor for capital punishment cases, a cause that would define his legal career and help him break into politics…

During his clerkship, he presented his boss with a caricature of him and other clerks pulling a stagecoach driven by the judge. According to someone who saw the illustration, there was a graveyard behind them with headstones representing the number of people executed in their jurisdiction that year…

… Or have more recently been forced to deal with him…

The NYTimes reports, “Bob Dole Warns of ‘Cataclysmic’ Losses With Ted Cruz“:

“I question his allegiance to the party,” Mr. Dole said of Mr. Cruz. “I don’t know how often you’ve heard him say the word ‘Republican’ — not very often.” Instead, Mr. Cruz uses the word “conservative,” Mr. Dole said, before offering up a different word for Mr. Cruz: “extremist.”

“I don’t know how he’s going to deal with Congress,” he said. “Nobody likes him.”…

(CNN)It was no accident that two Iowa GOP icons — Chuck Grassley and Bob Dole — attacked Ted Cruz the day after Iowa’s Republican governor said a vote for the Texas senator would be bad for the lead-off caucus state.

It is part of a fascinating and once unthinkable calculation by leading establishment figures that Donald Trump is the lesser of two evils at the top of the Republican presidential pack — and defeating Cruz in Iowa is now part of this strategy…

One leading GOP strategist involved in the effort put it this way: “If Trump loses we wash our hands of him. Cruz will think we need to be more crazy and be a long-term nightmare.”…

Read more



Dropping the Seventh Veil: Christianists Embrace Trump

Why should the other bigots have all the fun? In case Sarah “Bible Spice” Palin’s endorsement wasn’t enough to make it official, the Grey Lady lifted her soiled skirts and stepped into the morass, to explain how “Evangelicals See Donald Trump as Man of Conviction, if Not Faith”:

Brash, thrice-married, cosseted in a gilded tower high above Fifth Avenue and fond of swearing from the stage at his rallies, Mr. Trump, who has spent his career in pursuit, and praise, of wealth, would seem an odd fit for voters who place greater value on faith, hope and charity.

Yet polls increasingly show Mr. Trump well in front of the crowded Republican field among white evangelical voters, despite competition including Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, whose father is an evangelical pastor; Mr. Huckabee, the 2008 Iowa caucus winner; former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Roman Catholic whose story of raising a daughter with a disability struck a chord with voters and helped push him to victory in the 2012 Iowa caucuses; and Ben Carson, a Seventh-day Adventist who brought prayer into the operating room as a neurosurgeon and has spoken frequently about his Christian beliefs as a candidate.

A New York Times/CBS News poll last week showed Mr. Trump, a Presbyterian, dominating the field with 42 percent of evangelical voters; Mr. Cruz was second with 25 percent.

In dozens of interviews with evangelical voters in 16 states, from every region of the country outside the Northeast, those supporting Mr. Trump sounded a familiar refrain: that his heart was in the right place, that his intentions for the country were pure, that he alone was capable of delivering to a troubled country salvation in the here and now

And on Monday, Mr. Trump spoke at Liberty University, the Lynchburg, Va., institution founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. Mr. Trump has been wooing Jerry Falwell Jr., and Mr. Falwell lavished praise on him, comparing Mr. Trump to Jesus and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for voicing unpopular thoughts…

Rev. Hucksterbee and Rick Sanctorum — let’s face it! — are luzers, and nobody likes that guy Cruz. Their god is a strong god, a winning god, one never hesitant to rain down destruction or crush another horde of unbelievers. Their god is YOOOOOGE.

And the Trumpenfuhrer is ready to lead them to glory, per NYMag:

“Christianity, it’s under siege,” the GOP front-runner said at the Evangelical college’s morning convocation. “We don’t band together. Other religions, frankly, they’re banding together … we have to unify. We have to band together, we have to do really, in a really large version, what they’ve done at Liberty.”…

The mogul further argued that “the Bible is the best,” though he had some difficulty in trying to quote it.

“Two Corinthians 3:17, that’s the whole ballgame. ‘Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,’” Trump said, inspiring chuckles from an audience that knows that chapter of Scripture by its god-given name of “Second Corinthians.”…

“In my opinion, Mr. Trump lives a life of loving and helping others … as Jesus taught in the New Testament,” Falwell said on Monday…

Second-gen religious hustler knows: Hustler Trump got serious game.

Our own Siubhan Duinne linked to Daniel Danger‘s amazing Storify post, “I went to a Donald Trump rally and saw a man wearing a plastic bag as a shirt”:

… I picked seats on the floor, partially to commit to simply being a bit more “in the shit”. I chose an aisle seat that had a clear open line of sight to the podium, and also offered a moderate amount of “phone privacy” by having an empty space to my right. Which turned out to be useful because the people behind me were actively trying to read my phone all night…

I missed who the speaker was, but he went on a whole bit about how there were Democrats hiding in the audience, and they probably wouldn’t/shouldn’t identify themselves due to “past incidents”, and because they were basically outnumbered in the room. And this was said in a joking manner to get a laugh from the room. Perhaps “past incidents” referred to Trump supporters beating and kicking a Latino man at a rally in Miami, The Black Lives Matter protester kicked and beaten at a Trump rally in Alabama, or the Trump supporters beating and peeing on a homeless Latino man because “Donald Trump was right.”… Read more



I Sing The Body Electric: Program Notes — this afternoon at 5 EST 2 PST

It is once more that time of the month:  I’ll be doing another of my interviews on Virtually Speaking Science, live from the Exploratorium’s hall in Second Life!

My guest this month is Cynthia Graber.  Cynthia is a double-threat science journalist, working in both print and radio; she’s currently at MIT, as it happens, as a Knight Science Journalism Fellow.

Most recently, Cynthia’s been blazing trail in what is rapidly becoming a new genre for nonfiction — what I’ve been calling in my head the non-fiction novella, stories that explode the seams of even length-happy magazines like The New Yorker or The Atlantic, but that do not require a full book’s level of engagement.  These e-book shorts appear now as Kindle Singles, TED books, Byliner projects and more. Perhaps the most discussed in the community I hang with has been the approach pioneered by The Atavist, which adds a fair amount of computing to the text in books sold both as e-texts and as apps.  The other eye-catcher in this domain recently has been the Matter project — a Kickstarter-funded start-up dedicated to original reported and investigative stories centered on science.

Cynthia wrote what became Matter’s second publication, Electric Shock: How Electricity Could Be The Key To Human RegenerationIt’s a story of a Tufts University researcher named Michael Levin, who believes he is on track to work out pathways through which humans could emulate the salamander and regenerate damaged or lost body parts0.

Hans_Canon_Der_Salamander

His approach is out of the mainstream for what begins as a kind of out-there body of research, as he focuses not on genetics or stem cell research, but on the electrical signalling functions of our biology.

It’s a wild subject, meticulously and carefully handled.  We’ll be talking about that — and about the perils of reporting on science when the line between the daring and the too-far-out-there isn’t always that easy to discern. That’ll cover most of the hour, but we will also save some time to talk about this brave new world of forms and genres emerging in the context of the new media ecosystem.  Should be fun; stop by if you have a chance.

Listen here.  The program will be available later as a podcast at that link to Blog Talk Radio and on iTunes — look for us under Virtually Speaking Science.

If you’re a virtual world type, you can join the live Second Life audience here.

Again timing:  5 p.m. today Eastern time; 10 p.m. in London; 2 p.m. in the land of my youth over there on the left coast.

Image: Hans Canon,  The Salamander, 1863.