Cuckoo calls on video

This 1 May 2019 video is about a cuckoo calling.

Theo de Wild in the Netherlands made this video.


Real Neat Blog Award, congratulations, awardees!

Real neat blog award

Late in 2014, I made this Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I wanted to try to do something about that.

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty. So, I made the award with this logo then.

It is good to see that this award, which later came back to me, since then has gone to many places of the blogosphere. And that some people have made new logos for it; like the one at the top of this blog post.

The rules of this award are:

  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer the 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog.
  • Nominate any number of people linking to their blogs and let them know you nominated them by commenting on their blogs.
  • Come up with 7 questions for the people you nominated.

My seven questions for my nominees are:

1. Who is your favourite visual artist?

2. Which is your favourite bird species?

3. Which is your favourite mammal species?

4. What is your favourite insect?

5. What is your favourite plant?

6. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

7. If you would be invited to make a space journey, then to which solar system planet would you like to go?

My nominees are:

1. WISE Up Action – A Solidarity Network for Manning and Assange

2. Govt Newspeak

3. Clarise’s Blog

4. Xuân

5. The Write Hat

6. The Tired Undergrad

7. Swift Science

8. q17jfkeuropa

9. Britt Skrabanek

10. Blogs by Roshna

11. Petesteph1’s Blog

12. Monty guidon

13. Naija Talk News

14. 256millenialwanderer

15. I’m Supposed to Title My Blog?

16. Think Tank

17. Fisher of Men

18. simply11

‘Comparisons to Hitler no taboo’, Mike Godwin says

This 17 April 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Yale professor: Why it’s useful to compare Trump to Hitler

Timothy Snyder is the author of “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” and the Levin professor of history at Yale University. Snyder explains how comparing Trump to Hitler can be useful despite the differences.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant, 3 May 2019 (re-translation from Dutch into English, so maybe different from English original):

Godwin’s Law was never intended to ban comparisons with Hitler and the Nazis, writes the inventor, Mike Godwin. However, be careful, do not equate lightly. …

Part of the reason why discussions about Hitler, Godwin’s Law etc. go wrong is people not differentiating between equating and comparing. In a comparison, one may find both differences and similarities.

As the man who came up with Godwin;s Law almost thirty years ago – I can say with certainty that my Law was never intended to prevent anyone from making meaningful comparisons between current events and events of the last century associated with Hitler, the Nazis or the Holocaust. …

In the US, Godwin’s Law has been referred, not entirely unjustifiably, in response to the Trump government immigration policy, which has led to the traumatic separation of prospective immigrants from their children. The unnecessary cruelty of this policy is not only crystal clear, but it also clearly serves a purpose – our government acts so cruelly to discourage refugees. It came as no surprise that the CIA and NSA former director, Michael Hayden, made the comparison on Twitter in June last year between this policy and how the Nazis treated children in German concentration camps (also an example of intentional cruelty as a policy). …

Some on the right are accusing me of political correctness because I said on Twitter that it is OK to compare the white nationalists who rampaged in Charlottesville in 2017 with Nazis. …

Take the argument that the treatment of asylum seekers, including children, on the US American border is not as monstrous as institutionalized genocide. That may be true, but it is not exactly a strong argument. The (insincere) argument that the government only enforces immigration laws also looks suspiciously like “Befehl ist Befehl“. That is a defense that did not apply in the 1940s, and still does not today. …

Feel free to call in the Law if you think that some comparison with the Nazis is unfounded, unnecessarily inflammatory or highly exaggerated. But the Godwin’s Law has never been intended to prevent us from protesting against policies of cruelty, and against heartlessness of officials who claim that they are merely implementing the law. And certainly not to protect our leaders against strong criticism when they try to sell untruths as facts. Such disturbing behavior – seen with figures such as Trump, Putin, Duterte, Orbán, Salvini and Bolsonaro – may not be a prelude to a new Reich, but I am still concerned that it could be the “embryonic form” of a horror that we hoped was behind us. …

I think the best way to avoid a future Holocaust is not to avoid Holocaust comparisons. We had better ensure that such comparisons are meaningful and make sense.

Giant pandas, vegetarians of carnivorous ancestry

This video from China is called Giant Panda SHU LAN eating bamboo (04/2017).

From ScienceDaily:

Giant panda‘s bamboo diet still looks surprisingly carnivorous

May 2, 2019

Giant pandas are unusual in being extremely specialized herbivores that feed almost exclusively on highly fibrous bamboo, despite belonging to a clade (Carnivora) of primarily flesh-eating carnivores. But a study reported in Current Biology on May 2 suggests that the switch to a restricted vegetarian diet wasn’t, in some respects, as big an evolutionary leap as it seems.

The study finds that the protein and carbohydrate content of the panda’s plant diet looks surprisingly like that of a hypercarnivore, animals that obtain more than 70 percent of their diet from other animals, they report. About 50 percent of the panda’s energy intake comes in the form of protein, placing them right alongside feral cats and wolves.

“As we know, the giant panda is a Carnivora species, yet extremely specialized on a plant food, the bamboo,” said Fuwen Wei of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing. “Based on what they eat, they absolutely belong to the herbivores, but considering the macronutrient composition of the ingested and absorbed diets, they belong to the carnivores.”

The pandas do have traits in common with herbivores, including a skull, jaw musculature, and dentition that are adapted for fibrous diets, and a specialized “pseudo-thumb” used for handling bamboo. They’ve also lost the ability to taste umami, which is often associated with meat eating. On the other hand, giant pandas have a digestive tract, digestive enzymes, and gut microbes that resemble that of carnivores and not herbivores.

In the new study, Wei teamed up with nutritional ecologist David Raubenheimer from the University of Sydney and colleagues to explore the macronutrient composition of their diet, including what the pandas ingest and what they absorb. Using an approach called nutritional geometry, the team showed that the macronutrient mix that giant pandas both eat and absorb is similar to carnivores, and unlike herbivores. The macronutrient composition of the panda’s milk also places it squarely among other carnivores.

The researchers say the findings can help resolve long-standing questions concerning the evolution of the giant panda, including the unusual transition to extreme specialized herbivory by a member of a carnivorous clade. “In fact”, they write, “the transition was likely more superficial than assumed, combining substantial adaptation to new food types with relatively smaller changes in macronutrient handling.”

The herbivorous diet led to evolutionary adaptations in their teeth, skull, and pseudo-thumb needed to process bamboo. But their gut and digestive system changed little, suggesting minimal evolutionary modification from their ancestral state was needed to deal with the macronutritional properties of bamboo. Their short gut, together with the abundance of bamboo, allows the panda to consume and process large amounts of bamboo, compensating for the low digestive efficiency of such a fibrous diet.

“There is also a broader message from this study,” says Raubenheimer. “It demonstrates the importance of considering both foods and nutrients in understanding the evolutionary ecology of animals. This is what nutritional geometry is designed to do.”

Wei says they will continue to study the evolution and adaptation of the giant panda. They’ll also apply that work to the panda’s conservation management as an endangered species.