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Archive: May, 2013

POSTED: Friday, May 31, 2013, 2:34 PM
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Mother orca and calf

Marine mammals are better off in the bug bite department than we are, spending most of their time underwater, but they do have to come up to the surface to breathe. If they're captive animals at aquariums, they might be near the surface most of the time because of the little space they have, too. Even at the water's edge, mosquitoes are there to be annoying and, in some cases, deadly. 

 In 1990, Kanduke, a 25-year-old male orca died suddenly at SeaWorld Orlando, the victim of encephalitis virus carried by a mosquito. And in 2007, Taku, a 14-yar-old male orca, died at SeaWorld San Antonio; unknown to his trainers, he'd been infected with West Nile Virus, the disease's tell-tale lesions spotted during a necropsy of his brain tissue. Captive orcas are particularly susceptible to these mosquito-borne diseases, scientists reported last month in the Journal of Marine Animals and Their Ecology, because of the shallow pools they're kept in. Two researchers observed seven captive orcas at SeaWorld in Florida for thousands of hours from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., noting their behaviors. Most of the time, the whales stayed in a "logging" position, basically resting close to the surface. In the early evening hours, the scientists also observed mosquitoes landing on the animals' exposed dorsal fins for a meal. Captive orcas may also be more susceptible to these diseases, the scientists say, because they suffer from sunburn and broken, damaged teeth (as can be seen in the photo above of Keto), which weaken their immune systems. [ScienceNow]

POSTED: Friday, May 31, 2013, 1:25 PM
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The Wellington areas geologic fault lines

Normally, when an earthquake happens, it's quick and disastrous. Around New Zealand's capital Wellington, though, there's a slow that's been going on for months and doesn't seem to be bothering anyone. 

It’s the strongest earthquake to hit the region in 150 years says The New Zealand Herald, “but none of the locals are diving under desks or sheltering in doorways.”

In a normal earthquake, the Earth lurches, releasing in some cases multiple atomic bombs-worth of energy in seconds. The shaking and rolling felt at the surface makes buildings tumble and gas lines rupture—an unpredictable disaster that seems to strike out of nowhere.

POSTED: Friday, May 31, 2013, 12:37 PM

The ancient, frozen remains of a wooly mammoth have been discovered in Russia and its blood, amazingly, is still liquid.

"The fragments of muscle tissues, which we've found out of the body, have a natural red color of fresh meat," said Semyon Grigoriev, chairman of the university's Museum of Mammoths and head of the expedition. "The reason for such preservation is that the lower part of the body was underlying (sic) in pure ice, and the upper part was found in the middle of tundra. We found a trunk separately from the body, which is the worst-preserved part."

The temperature was 10 degrees Celsius below zero when the mammoth was found, so the discovery of liquid blood was a shock. "It can be assumed that the blood of mammoths had some cryo-protective properties," Grigoriev said. "The blood is very dark, it was found in ice cavities below the belly and when we broke these cavities with a pick, the blood came running out."

POSTED: Friday, May 31, 2013, 11:25 AM
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Heath Ledger turned in a truly incredible performance as Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight. So much so that The Academy honored him with a posthumous Oscar after his accidental prescription drug overdose.

Ledger, a method actor, locked himself in a hotel room for weeks, pouring himself into his character in preparation for filming. During this time, he kept a diary.

"It’s a combination of reading all the comic books I could that were relevant to the script and then just closing my eyes and meditating on it," he says. "I sat around in a hotel room in London for about a month, locked myself away, formed a little diary and experimented with voices — it was important to try to find a somewhat iconic voice and laugh. I ended up landing more in the realm of a psychopath — someone with very little to no conscience towards his acts." [Empire]

POSTED: Friday, May 31, 2013, 10:07 AM
(Screenshot via YouTube)

Prancercise: Everyone's doing it. Well, they're not prancercising as much as they're, say, giggling at the instructional video and itching to find out more about its creator, Joanna Rohrback.

For those of you behind the ball, this is prancercising:

POSTED: Friday, May 31, 2013, 9:46 AM
(Image via Pixar)

Finding Nemo hit theaters on March 30, 2003. Throughout the past decade, the story and its characters have risen to the upper echelon of Pixar Gods, along with Toy Story, Woody and Buzz. Hell, Pixar's announcement of plans for a Finding Nemo sequel nearly broke the Internet.

But, this wasn't always the case. Way back when it first came out, Finding Nemo represented, for many, a minor blemish on Pixar's immaculate record. It was the black sheep of the Pixar family. The Atlantic has more:

Yes, that's right: Ten years ago, Finding Nemo was the subpar Pixar movie.

POSTED: Friday, May 31, 2013, 8:10 AM
(Image via ShareTV.org)

If you're on the Internet, chances are you love discussing '90s nostaglia (sorry, but the Internet was invented for people who know all the words to LFO's "Summer Girls" and watched TRL after school). This means that you'll probably be interested in an essay on the racial implications of Nickelodeon's Doug.

See, Doug Funnie was a walking, talking Caucasian stereotype, closet full of sweater vests and all. But, Doug was the only person of real world skin color in the Bluffington universe. Everyone else was purple or green or some other outlandish color. A new book, Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon's Golden Age—due out in September—explains why Doug's universe was so... diverse.

In Slimed, the show's executive producer Doug Campbell explains the unique coloring decision: “Look, we’re not black people, we’re not Mexican, but we want the cartoon to speak to all groups. How do we get past the barrier or ethnicity? And Jim said, ‘Let’s try coloring them all different colors.’”that Doug was white because Nickelodeon's founders wanted to cater to kids with cable and, to them, that meant white kids.

POSTED: Thursday, May 30, 2013, 3:27 PM
Will Smith with son Jaden Smith in the sci-fi yarn “After Earth.” (Columbia Pictures)

M. Night Shyamalan's father/son, sci-fi, action drama opens with a shot of Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) helplessly curling into the fetal position. A flashback then takes us back to three days prior, when Kitai is busy being an angsty, over-zealous, disobedient space cadet (in the literal sense of the term) with daddy issues.

We learn that humans destroyed Earth, forcing a mandatory evacuation of the planet. Everyone now lives on some other rock in space that remarkably resembles the set of old science fiction films with cheesy backdrops of orange mountains. Additionally, we learn that Kitai's father, Cypher (Will Smith) is some sort of heroic space commander who fights aliens that were genetically engineered to kill humans. These aliens cannot see humans, but instead track them by picking up on the pheremones excreted when people experience fear. Cypher is invisible to the aliens, though, because, obviously, Will Smith is fearless. This phenomenon is known as "ghosting."

On the eve of his father's long-awaited return, Kitai learns that he will not graduate to become a Ranger thanks, in large part, to all of that angst. Cypher yells at his son about the Ranger situation because he's basically a pageant mother, further perpetuating Kitai's problem with authority. As a result, Kitai's mother urges Cypher to take the boy along on a routine trip to ditch one of those people-killing aliens that their people trapped.

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