Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cavalcade Glasses

Because a nice set of these costs too much money at $5-$14 each, I am picking them up one at a time at the Goodwill store.  So far I have... two.

 Libbey Glass Company
Cavalcade pattern (1953-?)
"Cooler" size
Design by Hazel Marie Weatherman

Technically the minimum authentic set is the 8 piece "Hostess" set.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Sacrifice and Semantics

Many years ago the term of choice when killing laboratory animal at the end of a study was "sacrifice".  It was a word choice that got dropped not only for being euphemistic but also just ridiculous; conjuring up images of robed men and chanting as the rats were laid on top of the granite altar of some kind.

But the word has reappeared strangely in some reports of apparent murderer Vester Lee Flanagan's previous killing of his pet cats.

"There were arguments and confrontations at work, periodic eruptions, including a road rage episode captured on video and a sacrifice of his two pet cats, killings that Mr. Flanagan said he carried out because of anger at his firing."

At least in the case of scientific research there is some amorphous idea of what the animals' lives have been sacrificed to or for.  But in the case of violent, rage-fueled animal abuse, I struggle to see how this word applies at all.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Effect of Human-Animal Interaction on Human Cardiovascular Health

Now available online (full text, pdf): The Effect of Human-Animal Interaction on Human Cardiovascular Health

"More than 2,150 Americans die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) daily, an average of 1 death every 40 seconds (Go et al., 2014 ). In any given year, approximately 620,000 Americans suffer their first coronary attack, and 295,000 have a repeat attack. Even though rates of CVD declined between 2000 and 2010 ( Go et al., 2014), its impact on healthcare costs and the lives of affected individuals, their families, and the community is substantial. In an attempt to further reduce rates of CVD and improve myocardial infarction (MI) survival rates, researchers extensively studied the effects of various medical and social variables on cardiovascular health, including human-animal contact."

A lit of the other HABRI Central Briefs (peer-reviewed summaries of research on the benefits pf the human-animal bond) can be found here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Give a bat a bad name....

This very rare Bolivian nectar bat has a pretty impressive tongue. But I am wondering where the name Anoura fistulata came from? I guess the meaning of "fistula" in English has become more specific than just referring to the tube-shaped lips of this bat.

You can follow along with the expedition that found this unusual animal here or on their Facebook page.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dead piglet posed in a Walmart: cult or gross joke? I know where I would bet my money.

Sometimes a pig is just a pig--USFWS/Southeast
There seems to be a real "cult" culture in the American police forces.  Anything even slightly weird starts getting referred to cult activity and strange messages.

So, what is the most likely explanation for dead feral pigs being posed outside a Walmart in the middle of the night?  Well, picture this.  I mean, someone shoots some pest pigs that are tearing up some farm land.  Then they think: what will I do with these pigs?

Some (probably drunk) dudes think this is funny. And the way the police are reacting will probably just make is seem more funny to them, and more people will in fact start doing this.  And then the media will report it as a spreading plague of animal-sacrifice-Satanism-who-will-think-of-the-children?!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Denver Museum of Natural History Plate

I just had to rescue this plate from the 50c pile at Goodwill.  But I have not been able to find out much about it from the usually-helpful archives of Google. Maybe someone out there in internet land will know more?

My best guess is that it is from the 60s or so.  I am not sure when the museum name changed from "natural history" to "nature and science".

The back is marked "Fine Staffordshire Ware by E[?]ce National New York NY. Made in England. Underglaze detergent proof".

Edited to add: It had the name "Denver Museum of Natural History" from 1948 to 2000.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Was there ever a Milwaukee lion?

Nothing is certain in life, but I for one an willing to bet there is no African lion loose in Milkwaukee.  And no mountain lion either. The human brain is fallible, suggestible, and in some people, attention seeking.  Psychologically it is most like;y that a case of mistaken identity based on distorted sense of scale that snowballed into a lion panic. More and more people claim to have seen the beast, but only one image exists and it is anatomically more consistent with a domesticated animal than a lion or cougar.

Neither academics nor police helped people keep this in perspective as they elaborated on how such an animal might end up in Milkwaukee, as if this was actually very likely.  And making statements like " was a 100% confirmation that it was a lion-like animal" as if eye witnesses are never incorrect and people don't mistake domestic animals for lions. Meanwhile the media continue to illustrate Milwaukee lion stories with stock photographs of real lions, because... well, it looks cool I guess and who cares how misleading it is?

A somewhat credulous belief in unusual beasts seems to be just part of human nature, with the United States being home to many mythical large cats and media flare ups about alleged sightings.  However in this age of cell phones, even low quality pictures remain a rarity. Like any good scientist I am ready to be proven wrong if the evidence comes along.  But until then this one just goes into the bulging file of Charismatic Megafauna That Never Were.

This is now being added as a label on this blog; expect to see more.  I will keep a tally of how many of these creatures are ever demonstrated to exist.

Edited to Add: On a related note, no these murders are not "witchcraft" and have nothing to do with the blue moon.