Friday, January 27, 2012

Blog Crawl Gems

This Week's Treasures

SOPA, PIPA  An email message arrived from Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi -- he is dropping his cosponsorship of PIPA.  He thinks PIPA would have been fine of course, but is listening to the public.  Also, he’s glad that Senator Reid did what Senator McConnell told him to do (amazing how easy it is to spin things into one’s preferred view of the world).

The Atavism shared a poem by Brian Turner about the joy of biking, the start of a very nice post about the joy of natural history.  A watchful naturalist has the opportunity for all kinds of wonderful surprises when out and about, like a tiger beetle that requires halting a brutal hill-climb.  TA made mention of Beetles in the Bush, a blog with beautiful photos of beetles, other insects, arachnids and miscellaneous creatures of interest.  BiB features a recent well-illustrated post by Chris Brown about a beetle that mimics caterpillar poop! BiB author Ted C. MacRae shares his favorite photos from 2011 with anyone who wants to download them (I did ... nice batch of new wallpaper).  


Hopefully one of these days I will have learned enough about bugs to admire them for more than their beauty.  To right: unknown beetle on unknown Tertiary basaltic/volcanic rock, Wild Rivers Recreation Area, New Mexico (roughly 2 cm long).



At Small Things Considered, Merry writes about another amazing weblet of life -- Green Flypaper.  The nodes of this weblet are flies, spiders, yeasts and bacteria ... and maybe even an antimicrobial-producing microbe.  Can you connect the nodes?  Hint -- these are social spiders that produce huge complex sweet-smelling webs.

Babbage of the Economist blogs about digital textbooks.  This seems such a no-brainer, but some folks still think the expensive paper ones are better:  “To compare passages in a text, for instance, students often skip back and forth between them. And sometimes they need to have several books open at once.”  uhhh ... these folks need to try some online resources.  The most obvious advantage of digital textbooks that I see (beyond price) wasn’t mentioned in the post -- ease of updating as new information becomes available.  UPDATE -- Babbage put up a new post on technology in education -- digital textbooks and beyond, including gaming.

Twinkle twinkle little star ... have you wondered what they are?  Earth Picture of the Day provides a dazzling time-lapse “jiggled” photo of Sirius twinkling -- actually it’s “seeing cells” that cause the twinkle.  For more on twinkling, go here.  String players and parents of string players -- is Suzuki's “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” playing in your head?  I found a classic example, complete with tape marking midpoint of bow and positions on fingerboard, and student very glad when the whole experience is over.
You might prefer “Twinkle Little Star”, a fine old-time fiddle tune played here by the great West Texas fiddler Homer Logan.

This week's Tip for Aging Baby Boomers comes from a paper published last week in Nature (article preview), and summarized in this week’s Economist.  Autophagy -- intracellular recycling -- is super important, so ramp up autophagy and get rid of those old mitochondria rife with free radicals.  The investigators found that autophagy increases with ... exercise!  How about that, here’s one of the mechanisms underlying the clear benefits of exercise.
GR courtesy FBNY.




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