Friday, April 24, 2009

Canadians Not Amused by the Director of Homeland Security.


I’ve sometimes felt we Canadians are too hard on the Americans. We make fun of them for knowing so little of us. That we’re all igloos and Nelson Eddy yodeling-Mounties. Then along comes someone like Janet Napolitano, a former governor, now a major player at the highest levels of the most powerful government in the world, a one-woman storehouse of misconceptions, pseudo-facts, stale rumours and flat-out ignorance.


Who Owns the Rain? It Depends.

Capturing rain may be one of humanity's most ancient methods of acquiring water, but now it's coming back in vogue. Rather than press their luck with drought, conservation-conscious homeowners are setting up rudimentary rain barrels and elaborate rainwater storage systems to catch precipitation for nondrinking purposes, such as watering their lawns.

But while rainwater may seem like a global common, nowadays it depends on where you live: By capturing rainwater, some homeowners are breaking the law. This has put city and state governments in an awkward position—smack in the middle of competing water users and advocates, often from within their own agencies, of conserving water to protect supplies.

Read the whole thing.

How big Jurassic flying reptiles got off ground.


What people think of as "flying dinosaurs" but are technically giant reptiles didn't launch into the air like birds. They leapt into the air off all four legs, said Mike Habib, of the university's Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution. Only vampire bats do something like that.

The flying creatures are called pterosaurs (the "p" is silent). They were a group of flying reptiles that could weigh more than 500 pounds and have bus-sized wingspans. Last year, researchers tried to figure out how they got off the ground by looking at the largest bird now flying, the albatross. They concluded that anything much bigger couldn't get off the ground the same way.

But Habib said pterosaurs shouldn't be compared to birds.

More here.

The Last of the Great Explorers.


In early 1925, British Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, having convinced himself, based on a mix of archival research, deduction and clairvoyance, that a large undiscovered city lay hidden somewhere in the Amazon, entered the jungle to try to find it.
He was never heard from again.
Therein lies the tale.