Why the Obesity Epidemic is Like Modern Art
PETA: You’re fat because you eat meat. We can cure fat by making meat-eating illegal.
ENVIRONMENTALISTS: You’re fat because you drive everywhere instead of bike. We can cure fat with higher gas prices.
LOCALVORES: You’re fat because you eat fast food and over-processed junk instead of cook with local ingredients. We can cure fat by taxing fast food and processed food, and by subsidizing local farms.
ACADEMICS: You’re fat because you’re not educated enough. We can cure fat with widespread campaigns teaching people what to eat and how much to exercise.
INTERVENTIONISTS: You’re fat because bad food and gas is too cheap and poor neighborhoods are too unregulated. We can cure fat with tougher zoning laws and price regulation.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT FANS: You’re fat because you drive everywhere. If you used public transport you’d burn those extra calories taking stairs from train levels and walking to your train/bus stop. We can cure fat by expanding public transportation options.
WALKING/BIKING/RUNNING FANS: You’re fat because you sit on a bus, then sit at a desk, then sit at home. We can cure fat by building more bike lanes, walking trails, and parks.
LIBERTARIANS: You’re fat because you lack personal responsibility. We can cure fat by engendering a sense of individual pride in people.
RELIGIOUS FOLKS: You’re fat because you display the sin of greed. We can cure fat by teaching our children the correct values.
POLITICIANS: You’re fat because the previous administration didn’t care about the health of the nation and the costs of healthcare. You can cure fat (and save the economy!) by voting for me.
EMPLOYERS: You’re fat because you have a poor work ethic. We can cure fat by refusing to hire fat people, thus forcing them to lose weight in order to get a job.
And that’s funny and all, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that much of the “cause” of the “obesity epidemic” is that they keep moving the goalposts.
Also, brush up on your middle school math for calculating the volume of a rectangular prism, then ask yourself why the almighty BMI chart expects someone 6 feet (72”) tall with shoulders 20” across to have the same weight profile as someone with shoulders 16” across…
[image description: A deep-space telescope image, showing, at the bottom of the image, a cavernous nebula with stars visible inside; the upper half of the image, “above” the nebula from our perspective, contains several very large and very bright stars, surrounded by increasingly smaller and less bright stars, against a backdrop of deep black peppered with the lights of still-smaller and more-distant stars.]
This was NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day on the 18th of November 2012. The text of NASA’s write-up accompanying the image:
NGC 6357: Cathedral to Massive Stars
Image Credit: NASA, ESA and Jesús Maíz Apellániz (IAA, Spain)
Explanation: How massive can a normal star be? Estimates made from distance, brightness and standard solar models had given one star in the open cluster Pismis 24 over 200 times the mass of our Sun, nearly making it the record holder. This star is the brightest object located just above the gas front in the above image. Close inspection of images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, however, has shown that Pismis 24-1 derives its brilliant luminosity not from a single star but from three at least. Component stars would still remain near 100 solar masses, making them among the more massive stars currently on record. Toward the bottom of the image, stars are still forming in the associated emission nebula NGC 6357. Appearing perhaps like a Gothic cathedral, energetic stars near the center appear to be breaking out and illuminating a spectacular cocoon.
ESA is the European Space Agency, a multinational cooperative that has increasingly stepped in to pick up the slack as the U.S. guts NASA’s budget.
Go here for the current day’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APoD homepage) or scroll down to browse the archives or search for a particular kind of image.
purple glossy starling, also known as purple starling
photossecond photo by aj havercamp)
Correction: The first photo, of a starling looking directly at the camera, is by Brian Scott; link to original flickr post is here.
Only the second photo, of a starling in profile facing to our right, is the work of Arjan Haverkamp / A.J. Haverkamp; link to original flickr post is here.
(For those who can’t view the photos: both depict the head, throat / upper chest and shoulder(s) of yellow-eyed birds with sharp, dark-gray beaks, and iridescent purple feathers on their heads shading through iridescent blue to iridescent turquoise on their shoulders and below their throats. The bird in the upper photo has its head tilted off the horizontal, giving it the appearance of a quizzical expression.)
Though both photos depict birds from the same genus, the glossy starlings or Lamprotornis, they might not be the same species within that genus. Brian Scott’s identification of his subject as a purple glossy starling (Lamprotornis purpureus) appears to be correct, or at least consistent with the purple starling’s eye color and as much of its plumage as is visible. M. Haverkamp’s identification of the bird in the bottom photo as a superb glossy starling (Lamprotornis superbus), however, doesn’t seem to match that species’ description as given on Wikipedia, as the bird in the photo has yellow-irised eyes, not white or red. As there are over a dozen species in the glossy starling genus, many of them very similar in appearance to one another, a definitive identification with only the head and neck visible is impossible.
The two photographers didn’t both capture portraits of the same individual bird, in any case; their two photos were actually taken in different countries, England and the Netherlands, respectively, even though all the glossy starling species are native to Africa. Their vibrant coloring makes them popular with aviaries, botanical gardens and zoos on other continents, as these two photos demonstrate.
Most importantly, starlings are pretty to look at. ;)
WHY is this tagged Indian? Just WHY??
Because the ignorant girl who tagged it that way (it’s neither her in the photo nor her who took it, judging from the Google search-by-image results which show it’s been extensively posted and reposted all over the world with no credit that I could find) probably thinks anything that looks like turquoise jewelry — such as that tacky hunk of what’s more likely blue-dyed howlite on the pictured woman’s hand — is “Indian.”
And while actual Native-made silver-and-turquoise jewelry does exist, albeit much rarer than mass-produced crap that’s sold for a fraction of what silversmiths’ work (whether Native or otherwise) commands? I’m sure at least some of that mass-produced crap is made with either stone mined out of land that was stolen from indigenous* people, designs stolen from Native artists, or both.
So sure, those chunky rings on display in this hopelessly tacky photo might come from Native sources… pretty sure that isn’t what the fan of “boho” “hipster” “fashion” meant.
* A lot of the real turquoise, real-stone-that-isn’t-turquoise, and real-stone-dyed-to-look-like-turquoise comes from places other than the Americas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the land it’s mined from wasn’t stolen from indigenous people from somewhere else in the world, such as has been happening in Tibet for decades.
Not far from Tibet, there’s also some turquoise mined in north India, though as I understand it those mines aren’t commercially profitable and most of what comes out stays in the south- to central-Asia region; but it is possible that the stone is thus Indian, if in fact it’s turquoise at all.
A purple mix of Elbaite, Lepidolite, Albite.
Elbaite is the long, rosy-plum crystal through the middle of the cluster. It’s a form of tourmaline, which is recognizable by the vertical grooves virtually always present on natural tourmaline crystals. Some forms of tourmaline are considered “gemstone quality” when the piece is transparent and free of inclusions or other internal flaws, but it remains relatively uncommon in fine jewelry.
Albite is the white stone surroounding the elbaite, and seems to have formed very fine crystals in this example.
Lepidolite is the purple crusted over both the other minerals in this specimen. It’s one of my favorite stones, but unfortunately rarely photographs well (even this photo isn’t doing it any justice) and is uncommon outside of specialist venues — either mineral collectors’ or those catering to customers interested in the healing properties ascribed to some crystals. Not only is lepidolite fairly uncommon, it’s also both soft and brittle, making it very difficult to cut, carve or polish, and very susceptible to chipping, scratches and even cracking apart once processed. Part of the mica family, it gains its sparkle from leaf-thin-cleaved reflective surfaces; but the source of its most attractive feature is also what makes lepidolite so fragile.
The typical hue of lepidolite ranges from orchid-pink through lilac to soft violet; deep violet specimens are rare, and in all honesty I’ve never seen an example so purple (closer to blue than to red) as Mr. Mauthner’s above.
This spherical specimen, carved and polished by Rob Lavinsky of irocks.com, is similar to one I own, and the piece of rough beside it demonstrates what’s usually the darkest color seen in lepidolite, a plummish, medium-dark violet:
And the hue and crystal size of this next specimen — also owned and photographed by Rob Lavinsky — are closer to what’s seen in the average lepidolite formation, pale lilac that approaches pink in places. (The presence of blue-green tourmaline is not so common, however, nor is the size of the piece.) Light reflecting off some of the many small faces of individual lepidolite crystals, which are aligned randomly with respect to one another, produces the sparkle effect:
Talented lapidary artists can transform a rough hunk of lepidolite into a gleaming stone that seems to be made entirely of lilac and/or lavender glitter. The experience of seeing it in person, being able to watch the shifting shimmer as the piece is turned and light catches on ts myriad facets, can only be hinted at by still photographs.
الصورة تعتبر لـ كائن بحري ..
يمكن البعض ينخدع ويظن ان زرع.. مثل ماحصل
معاي في بداية الأمر ..
ويعتبر من الكائنات البحرية النادرة ويشابه بصورة كبيرة ..حصان البحر..
الي حاب يعرف معلومات عنة على هذا الرابط ..
(From what Google Translate yielded, the Arabic seems to mean something along the lines of, ‘the appearance of this marine organism can be deceiving, it is rare and closely related to the seahorse, click on the link to learn more about them.’)
Click either image (same credit) to see the full-size photo.
Leafy seadragons are incredibly rare in aquaria even in their country of origin (they’re native to the southern coast of Australia, and nowhere else in the world) because — thus far, at least — efforts to breed them in captivity have been almost universally unsuccessful, and also because they require very specific and difficult-to-maintain conditions, and live prey which are themselves tricky to source or breed. All of which is a shame, since leafy sea dragons are surely some of the most beautiful creatures in our seas.
Source: Flickr / xzisht
A recent study recruited almost 12,000 people of varying BMIs and followed them for 170 months as they adopted healthier habits. Their conclusion? Healthy lifestyle habits are associated with a significant decrease in mortality regardless of baseline body mass index.
Unplug yourself from the notion that ‘too’ fat is bad or unhealthy. BMI is bullshit. Health ≠ the number on the scale!
Per the abstract, the healthy habits tracked were
- eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables daily
- exercising regularly
- consuming alcohol in moderation
- not smoking
Also note that 170 months is fourteen years (plus two months).
The fact that the BMI is completely unscientific should be obvious to anyone who got far enough in school to learn how the volume of three-dimensional objects is calculated… or even two-dimensional ones! Humans are not lines with only a single (height) measurement.
Photograph from The Writing of Stones by Roger Caillois
Hey look, the original post identified where this wonderful photo is from!
Let’s leave that on there instead of deleting credits, okay Tumblrers?
This is picture jasper, and a piece which makes it very easy to see how the stone got that name.
A mountain rises against a dark sky, skirted by a band of vegetation that separates it from the river below, flowing over stones mostly-hidden in its bed, while on the near bank, stones of all sizes, pushed there by the flowing water, wait, dry for now, until the time when the river will rise to cover and shove at them again.
Pareidolia is fascinating, isn’t it? ;·)
This is the starling species I’m most familiar with, since I live in North America; the common or European starling (Sturnus vulgarus) is native to Europe and western Asia, but was deliberately introduced into Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States, and has become a nuisance or pest species everywhere it was introduced. Starling populations in Australia are the most problematic, as they compete with many endemic (found nowhere else) birds, and also eat, damage, or contaminate (with their feces) many crops including feed meant for livestock. Only Western Australia has managed to keep starlings out, partly because they were recognized as a threat to agriculture and biodiversity in the late 1800s, shortly after starlings had been introduced to other parts of Australia.
Happily, here in the northeast U.S., the European starling is merely a nuisance (and even that is a matter of opinion) found primarily in urban areas. Along with the smaller English sparrow (another introduced species) and the larger pigeon and crow, they feed largely on food waste. The window ledges of our apartment building are wide enough that one or more starlings will occasionally land there, giving us an excellent, close-up view of their lovely plumage — not as showy as that of many starling species found elsewhere in the world, it’s true, but I find that makes their plumage’s often-subtle iridescence feel like more of a reward for taking the time to observe them. In some individuals, the usually-black feathers are instead a dull brown, which is more translucent and creates an interestingly different effect when the iridescence manifests. And there’s a fair amount of variation in the size and number of white “star” speckles, and in which colors an individual’s iridescence displays, between individuals even in the same population.
Sometimes starlings visiting our windowsill vocalize, which is a special treat, as they are talented mimics and often incorporate sounds they’ve heard into their own song; we’ve heard them imitate the cries of seagulls; various electronic noises made by cars, buses (especially the beeping that accompanies deployment of accessibility ramps or lifts), alarm clocks and cellphones; and even the sound of a balloon squeaking as it’s rubbed!
In urban settings, these starlings have been observed to form highly complex communities, with some researchers even going so far as to describe groups of juvenile birds as organizing themselves similarly to the human street gangs they often share territory with.
Herr Radloff’s photo above looks like it was taken on a cold day, since the starling’s feathers are fluffed out the way birds do to trap insulating layers of air between the outside air and their skin.
A male amethyst starling. Beautiful, indeed!
Cinnyricinclus leucogaster, meaning white-bellied starling, is the species name, but they’re also known by the common names plum-coloured starling or violet-backed starling. In most starling species, the male and female have identical (or at least highly similar) coloring; the amethyst starling is an exception. Female amethyst starlings have light-brown plumage where the males are iridescent purple, white underneath, and flecked all over with dark brown, so that they resemble a sparrow more than a typical starling. As with most birds sporting a metallic sheen and/or a play-of-color effect in their feathers, the apparent iridescence is actually created by the microscopic structure of the feathers reflecting light in multiple wavelengths, the precise variance being strongly affected by the angle of view and/or the angle of the light striking the bird.
This striking species is native to sub-Saharan Africa, and is fairly common in wooded and forested areas of the continent. Like other starlings, they are omnivorous, both feeding on plants and preying on animals, mainly insects, as the amethyst starling pictured above is demonstrating.
The name “amethyst starling” of course refers to the gemstone amethyst, a member of the quartz family. Amethyst is more commonly found in pale lavender shades (sometimes nearer to pink) to medium purple, but in especially sought-after, gemstone-quality specimens, a deep, vivid color occasionally occurs, and may even display red-violet/blue-violet dichroism — much like the iridescent feathers of the amethyst starling.
(Hi, I’m a giant geek.)