Bird gets lost — spawns a new species on a remote island

❝ If you get lost at sea and find yourself on an island you’d probably try to build a fire, pile some sticks and stones into a makeshift home and maybe even try to signal for help. When one misguided bird found himself in the same situation, he didn’t wallow in his own self pity; he created his own entirely new species.

RTFA. I’ve been hanging on to this one for a spell – and it’s fascinating.

The million puppet march – fighting for public broadcasting

It might have been the friendliest rally to ever come to the Mall — especially three days before the election. Puppets and toddlers danced. Grown-ups in furry costumes sang. A girl dressed as Cookie Monster handed out Chips Ahoys to passersby. There was even a puppet-themed wedding.

The Million Puppet March — a political rally against Mitt Romney’s debate remarks about Big Bird and cutting funding to public television — may not have actually been a million puppets strong, but furry monsters came from far and near in a post-Halloween parade of support for PBS on Saturday…

“I am the way I am — I’m an artist — because of ‘Sesame Street’ and PBS,” said Michael Montgomery, who came up from Orlando, Fla., with puppet Eddie. “To even think that that could go away is sad, and I want to raise my support for it in any way that I can.”

“I used to work for Sesame Street, and not only did it change my life as a kid, it changed my life as an adult,” said Michael Schupbach, who came in from New York City with his puppet Malcolm. “I can speak for the people who work there, everyone there knows how important their job is, they know they’re reaching 17 million kids every day.”

Malcolm described himself as a distant cousin of Oscar the Grouch. “We’re friends on Facebook,” the furry green puppet said. “I believe we’ve endorsed each other on LinkedIn.”

Schupbach also brought an “Oven Mitt Romney” puppet — a green oven mitt with stern-looking eyes…

…Charlie Anderson and Lisa, who declined to give her last name, met on five years ago and came from North Kingstown, R.I., to get married in Lincoln Park before the rally. The groom dressed as Big Bird in a yellow tuxedo. The bride, in a green gown, dressed as Kermit…

Other fans and puppeteers, from Vermont’s professional Bread and Puppet Theater to amateur PBS enthusiasts with sock puppets, came from afar — even braving transportation obstacles caused by the hurricane…

Dana Cook brought her daughter, Emma, from Wilmington, N.C., for the rally, along with their puppets: Frederick, a sheepdog, and a penguin named Lucy. “I just made that up,” said Emma, who agreed that her mom was probably the coolest ever for letting her miss school Friday to travel to Washington to play with puppets.

It’s the perfect protest to teach my daughter about protests,” said Dana, who is a fan of NPR. “There wouldn’t be angry people — there would be puppets.”

If I had been there – it would have been out of anger. How dare these papier mache conservatives try to shut down nationwide educational TV? I’m too old to have ever watched the kiddies’ shows; but, the myriad of documentaries, Masterpiece theatre variants, history delivered to a public that hardly knows the realities of our Civil War – all have served to educate folks like me who don’t intend to stop learning. Especially since the worst political hacks in this land are the ones telling me to shut up and stop watching PBS.

Scumbags of the worst kind. Their hatred of education and the educated is characteristic of their breed throughout history.

Romney will save Wall Street and Big Oil from Big Bird – WTF?

This particular campaign video points out the stupidity of the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican.

They count on American voters being gullible enough to equate money spent on military waste, subsidies to corrupt corporations – with money spent on educational TV. The intellectual dishonesty and fiscal corruption they represent is almost without peer in history – yet they persist in lies and deceit.

It’s always worth laughing at them and their patent leather candidate. But, sometimes it’s difficult to generate a chuckle over a crowd that also would destroy a national asset like PBS.

Bloodless erections for big birds, say researchers — Hmmm?

Kiss, kiss!

Ostriches have bloodless erections, according to researchers.

The large birds were previously thought to have blood-based erection mechanisms similar to humans. But scientists from Yale University have now confirmed that the birds actually enlarge their penises with lymph fluid. All other birds with a penis achieve erections in this way, leading scientists to believe the mechanism evolved in their ancient ancestors…

The majority of birds reproduce with a ‘cloacal kiss’ – touching together their cloaca for long enough for sperm to transfer from the males to the females. The cloaca is a single opening through which urine and faeces are excreted but certain species, including ducks, geese, swans and flamingos also possess a penis. In birds, this reproductive organ is unusual as it is enlarged by lymph: the fluid found in bodily tissues.

But the ratite family, from large ostriches to small kiwis, were thought to be the exception to this rule. “Earlier reports form the late 19th Century had suggested that the ostrich had a blood vascular erection mechanism, while no data existed for the emu or rhea,” said Dr Patricia Brennan who co-authored the study.

“Since all other birds with penises have lymphatic erection mechanisms, I always thought that it was strange that the ostrich would be blood vascular.”

To solve the puzzle, Dr Brennan and her team closely examined the penis of a male ostrich and three male emus and found some key differences. “The penis of the ostrich is fundamentally very different from emu and rhea because it is made out of a dense collagen matrix, but the lymphatic machinery is all there,” she told BBC Nature.

“Ostriches do have blood vessels near the surface of the penis, that makes it look pink, but the inside of the penis fills up with lymph, not blood…The reason why the change between blood vascular and lymphatic took place remains a mystery,” said Dr Brennan.

At first look, this might have had special meaning for male humans, a sex group which seems to be consumed with questions about erections. Poisonally, I’d suggest research be devoted to the study of raccoon and bear penises. They are perpetually stiffened by a bone running the length of the interior. A little weightlifting might help out with the rest of the process.