Friday, June 19, 2009

Surprise: New Yorkers kill more when they're hot

After looking at the statistics and patterns of homicides between 2003 and 2008 the New York Times reports that most murders occur between June and September and to be incredibly specific

September Saturdays around 10 p.m. were the most likely moments for a murder in the city.

The most important trend involving murder in New York has been the enormous decline in killings over the last 15 years, to levels not seen since the early 1960s.

Still, hundreds of people are killed every year in the city, and The Times’s findings provide insights about who is killed in New York, as well as who does the killing, where murders occur and why.

Women are less likely to be victims or attackers

Brooklyn is the most likely place to be killed

More often than not, the weapon of choice is a firearm.

Read the full article --> here <--

So next time you piss someone off in Brooklyn on a hot sat. night-- run.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Subway Stories 1

She sat next to her friend, the one with the ring on her finger, and smiled. She was full of hate and resentment.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Santa Feels Economic Crunch: Elves Get Hungry

Reindeer herds in global decline
Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

Reindeer and caribou numbers are plummeting around the world.

The first global review of their status has found that populations are declining almost everywhere they live, from Alaska and Canada, to Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia.

The iconic deer is vital to indigenous peoples around the circumpolar north.

"When we discovered that many herds of reindeer also were declining we decided to compile a comprehensive survey to see if this indeed was a global pattern," says Vors.

The scientists were shocked to discover that 34 of the herds were declining, while no data existed for 16 more. Only eight herds were increasing in number. Many herds had been declining for a decade or more.

"We were surprised at the ubiquity of the decline," says Vors.

The scale of the problem is shown by a map upon which the researchers plotted their data, which is published in Global Change Biology.

Reindeer and caribou numbers worldwide: red denotes herds in decline, green indicates those on the increase and dark grey means no data is available. Reindeer and caribou do not range in areas coloured light grey

"Seeing that sea of red was a sobering moment," Vors says.

Read full article from BBC NEWS: HERE


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Female baboons exploit chaperones

So it seems that men and women CAN just be friends.... well at least if you're a baboon.

The BBC reports that:

Male and female baboons form platonic friendships, where sex is off the menu.

Having a caring friend around seems to greatly benefit the females and their infants, as both are harassed less by other baboons when in the company of their male pal.

But why the males choose to be platonic friends remains a mystery.

Male and females of a few species of monkey, including baboons, macaques and others are known to form so-called 'friendships', where particular males and females will spend a lot of time in each other's company.

These friendships are often strictly platonic, and don't seem to involve sex. But no-one knows why they occur.

So Nguyen's team investigated whether these chaperone males were actually fathering infants with their female friends. Half of all the male chaperones did turn out to be the father of the infant whose mother they befriended.

That is highly surprising in one respect, because each of the females mated with multiple males around the time they conceived. "But of these potential dads, only the genetic dads became friends," says Nguyen.

"To my knowledge, human males cannot tell their own offspring from unrelated offspring, but somehow baboon dads can tell."

But the study revealed an even bigger surprise.

"Half of the friends were not genetic fathers. But these guys weren't even potential fathers, that is, they didn't even mate with the female when she conceived the infant, and these guys didn't receive mating benefits."

"So we really don't know what these guys got out of the friendship, other than maybe spending time with a mum and a new baby and having other females seeing this."

The suggestion here is that by chaperoning a female in a platonic relationship, a male might advertise his parental skills to other females, who then might consider him a worthy partner. But as yet, there's no evidence for this or any other reason why males become chaperones.

However, for the females, the benefits of having a chaperone are clear.

"We found direct evidence that friendships provided a social benefit to mothers and infants," says Nguyen.

"We found that mother-infant pairs who spent a lot of time with their male friends received a lot less harassment from other females in the group, and the infants cried a lot less too, than pairs who spent less time hanging out with their male friends. This could translate into big gains for infants who may be more likely to survive infancy, as harassment can lead to injury," she says.

"It was especially exciting when I looked and saw what a huge difference having a friend around means for the mother and infant. We've long suspected that mother-infant pairs got some social benefit from the male friends, but this benefit had never before been documented."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/06/16 09:11:23 GMT


Monday, June 15, 2009

Mona Lisa ... er. smile?

Nude, Mona Lisa-like painting surfaces
Documents suggest work at least based on similar work by da Vinci
By Rossella Lorenzi
Discovery Channel
updated 12:52 p.m. ET, Fri., June 12, 2009

Leonardo da Vinci, in a Renaissance version of Mad Magazine, may have painted his famous Mona Lisa in a number of ways, including nude. Now, a painting has surfaced that looks much like the original, sparking debate over just how far the master took his iconic painting.

The newly revealed painting, hidden for almost a century within the wood wall of a private library, shows a portrait of a half-naked woman with clear links to the famous (and clothed) Mona Lisa.

The work, which documents suggest was at least based on never-seen similar work by da Vinci, is now on exhibit at the Museo Ideale in the Tuscan town of Vinci, where da Vinci was born in 1452.

The lady in the portrait does not exactly resemble the original Mona Lisa, but there is little doubt it has parallels with the painting hanging at the Louvre museum in Paris.

"The frontal look, the position of the hands, the spatial conception of the landscape, with columns at the sides, show a clear link with the Mona Lisa's iconographic theme," Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the museum, told Discovery News.

The naked portrait once belonged to Napoleon's uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch (1763-1839) and was ensconced within the wood walls of Fesch's private library for nearly a century, before trading more hands within the Napoleon family.

An art lover, the Cardinal owned an impressive collection of artworks, including da Vinci's "St. Jerome" (now in the Vatican gallery), which he discovered in pieces in the Roman shops of a second-hand dealer.

A note dating to 1845 records that the Cardinal bought "the portrait of the Mona Lisa, mistress of Francis I, by Leonardo da Vinci," from the Rospigliosis, a rich aristocratic Roman family.

After changing hands at the death of the Cardinal, the portrait was possibly bought by Napoleon III, and finally landed in the private collection of Count Giuseppe Primoli, a descendant of Luciano Bonaparte, Napoleon's brother.

The documentation from the painting's original purchase is not enough to verify the work is by da Vinci, himself. The nude portrait will now undergo scientific and artistic investigations in an attempt to date the work and determine its author. Even if it is not by da Vinci (and it likely isn't, experts say), it may be based on a lost original by the artist himself.

"I think it is very likely that Leonardo da Vinci conceived a naked Mona Lisa," leading da Vinci scholar Carlo Pedretti, director of the Armand Hammer Center for Leonardo Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, told Discovery News.

Indeed, several other claims of unclothed Mona Lisa's have been made over the years, pointing to the theory that da Vinci might have had fun with the famous image he had created around 1503-1506.

"There are at least six nude versions which are very close to da Vinci's hand. All are attributed to the da Vinci school. The most likely scenario is that his followers got inspired by a now-lost original," Vezzosi said.

According to Vezzosi, the original naked Mona might have been part of a series of erotic portraits by da Vinci and his pupils, which were never really shown because they were considered inappropriate.

Called "Monna Vanna," the topless versions of the Mona Lisa are indeed often considered the portraits of a court mistress or prostitute.

Nevertheless, these paintings inspired nudes by other artists, including Raphaello's 1518 portrait of his mistress, "The Baker Girl."

"Our quest for naked Mona Lisa's continues. We are now on the tracks of another interesting version in Las Vegas," Vezzosi said.
© 2009 Discovery Channel


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Sunday, June 14, 2009

New York Observation 1

The guy who works selling fruit at the fruit stand on the corner is overly smug. He sells me green bananas. Smug bastard.

" "The difference between a madman and a professional is that a pro does as well as he can within what he has set out to do and a madman does exceptionally well at what he can't help doing.” ― Charles Bukowski