Friday, August 8, 2008

My Take On The News...

A lighthearted commentary on the not-so-serious news headlines.....

Children have lost touch with the natural world and are unable to identify common animals and plants, according to a survey.

Half of youngsters aged nine to 11 were unable to identify a daddy-long-legs, oak tree, blue tit or bluebell, in the poll by BBC Wildlife Magazine. The study also found that playing in the countryside was children's least popular way of spending their spare time, and that they would rather see friends or play on their computer than go for a walk or play outdoors.

OK, so first let me say the obvious: I was well past 11 years old before I saw my first blue tit despite all my efforts to the contrary.

Secondly, kids need to get out more, there’s no doubt, and parents need to relax and let their kids roam more too.

Of course, there is the larger question of “what is natural?”

For example, some people are claiming the Montauk Monster is a hoax, some kind of TV promotion or some such. I think that dismissal is premature. confirms

Something really did wash up in Montauk, one sunny day, two weeks ago.

More than four people saw it. More than one person photographed it.

The surf was rough, flipping the thing, over and over, and over again.

Jenna Hewitt, of Montauk, and three friends crept up to examine one side. And Hewitt snapped the camera shot heard 'round the world.

But here's the rub.

Her group was the second on the scene that afternoon.

The first was a quartet of sun-worshipers from western Suffolk and New York City.

"It looked like nothing I'd ever seen before," said Ryan O'Shea, of Brooklyn. "It looked like it died angry."

They were so puzzled by what they saw, they left and came right back, with more friends. The second time around, Christina Pampalone, of East Northport, borrowed O'Shea's camera. She aimed and kept on firing.

The result is lots of - ewwwwww - gross photos of a carcass that looks more domestic than exotic, a bloated dog, not the Hound from Hell.

It shows ears. A big swatch of fur. And its proportions appear to be less distorted -- making the head appear to be a suitable complement to the body.

"I was telling people, all day (Wednesday), that I had better photos," Pampalone said.

"Everybody I showed her pictures to said it looks like a dead dog," O'Shea said.

"But looking at the claws, and at the teeth in the front, it looked like it could be something else, something vicious."

Not long after, a local real estate salesman, grabbed the carcass and put it in the back yard of a friend. BUT, 24-hours ago the body was stolen, allegedly by a Hollywood production company. WTH?!

Well, don’t give up on the proof of the existence of the Yeti yet, either:

This week, claims that Yeti really do exist took a giant step forward.

Scientists have used microscopes to analyze of strands of hair found caught on some rocks in jungle near the India-Bangladesh border.

The tests showed the thick, wiry hairs do not belong to any of the most common wild animals known to live in the area.

Instead, they bear a 'startling resemblance' to some collected half a century ago by Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary.

Researcher Ian Redmond said: 'The hairs are the most positive evidence yet that a yeti might possibly exist. It might be that the region this animal is inhabiting is remote enough for it to remain undiscovered so far. We are very excited.'

The 54-year-old primate expert said that he and his Oxford Brookes University colleagues had ruled out the possibility of the hairs coming from animals known to roam the area, including black bears, macaque monkeys, dogs and wild boar.

'The hairs are complete with the cuticle, and between 3.3cm (1.3in) and 4.4cm (1.7in) long and thick and wiry and curved,' he said.

'We haven't found a match with the most likely contenders,' he said. 'But there is a resemblance with the hairs brought back by Sir Edmund Hillary. There is the exciting prospect that these could turn out to be something very dramatic.'

DNA tests could help solve the yeti mystery. Mr Redmond said: 'Even if the DNA test cannot identify the creature, it should be able to work out what it is related to. It could easily be an unknown primate even if it is not a yeti.' However, he admitted that his excitement at a potential scientific breakthrough was tinged with fear.

How cool would that job be? Yeti hair analyst. Of course, you might not work that often but when you got a call, how cool would that be! Anyway, “yeti hair analyst” wouldn’t be the most unusual job out there these days:


What do badger consultants, dog psychologists, and painting authenticators have in common?

They're some of the unusual and quirky jobs that are becoming more commonplace in modern society, according to a British insurance company.

The company says it has seen a steady rise in the number of non-traditional businesses looking for insurance policies to cover these unusual jobs.

They include badger consultants, who advise people how to keep within the laws protecting the nocturnal animals. Dog psychologists analyze the behavior of troublesome dogs, and saddle consultants help horse riders find the most comfortable ride.

Which reminds me: Can you tell which of the following jobs I made up? (The answer is at the end)

a) Gerbil Whisperer

b) Project Manager of Diarrheal Studies

c) Medical waste biohazard cooker

Speaking of biohazard medical waste:

From the Associated Press comes....

Michigan police are looking to the British Columbia RCMP for help identifying the source of a detached foot found washed up on a Lake Huron beach, around 45 miles from the Canadian border.

But U.S. investigators said yesterday the foot may be from a Detroit lawyer suspected drowned in a mysterious incident from August, 2005, that still puzzles police. Other possibilities include the pilot of a plane that crashed last summer, and a so-far-unidentified torso discovered nearby in May.

The foot was found this week by a resident of Alpena, Mich. It was clad in a sock and size 10 Reebok sandal.

State police investigators said they don't know how long the decomposed foot had been there, but said tests yesterday showed that it belongs to a man 35 years of age or older. There were signs of arthritis in the bone samples, he said.

Dr Brian May confirmed as the new Chancellor for Liverpool John Moores University.

The founder of the legendary rock band Queen had completed his doctoral thesis in astrophysics after taking a 30-year break to play some guitar.

Brian May's thesis examines the mysterious phenomenon known as Zodiacal light, a misty diffuse cone of light that appears in the western sky after sunset and in the eastern sky before sunrise. A Persian astronomer who lived around the 12th century referred to it as "false dawn" in a poem.

May said. "I've been fascinated with astronomy for years, and I was happy to finally complete my Ph.D. last year and record my studies of the Zodiacal Light in this book."

Should anybody be surprised that the guitarist for Queen should be into astronomy. He spent 30 years staring at “Mercury’s moon”!

Oh, and by the way, as far as I know there are no "gerbil whisperers" out there. There are job openings for "Project Manager of Diarrheal Studies" and "Medical waste biohazard cooker."

Let's keep that line for applications orderly and make sure you have an updated resume ready to go.


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