Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Can toads predict earthquakes?

Maybe. Consider: In 2009,
Dr Grant was studying toads 74km away in San Ruffino Lake in central Italy, when she recorded the toads behaving oddly.

Five days before the earthquake, the number of male common toads in the breeding colony fell by 96%.

That is highly unusual for male toads: once they have bred, they normally remain active in large numbers at breeding sites until spawning has finished.

Yet spawning had barely begun at the San Ruffino Lake site before the earthquake struck.
Also, no weather event could be linked to the toads' disappearance.

Three days before the earthquake, the number of breeding pairs also suddenly dropped to zero.
Some studies have been done on how domestic animals respond, but measuring the response of wild animals is more difficult.

Even those that have been shown to react, such as fish, rodents and snakes tend to do so shortly before an earthquakes strikes, rather than days ahead of the event.
For more, go here. (“Toads can 'predict earthquakes' and seismic activity”, Matt Walker, Editor, Earth News, BBC News, March 31, 2010)

So the toads have an early warning system, one that would be useful to know.

See also: Animal minds: Our dog’s world is not like ours

Humans project guilt feelings onto their dogs

and, of course, Oscar the Deathcat and “What is it like to be a bat?

Photo: Common toad (bufo bufo). Creative Commons License


Never mind cosmology, cosmetology is a hard science

Friend David Mills muses, in The Cosmopolitan Life (Jan 3, 2011), on Cosmopolitan, relentless marketer of impossible expectations to women (in this case, um, horizontal, not vertical expectations ...):
On the surface, Cosmopolitan portrays in bright zingy prose the exciting adventurous uninhibited life of the sexually-free single woman. This is what their readers must think of themselves, or what they want to think of themselves. That is bad enough.

But below the surface, and not too far below it at that, the magazine deals with their target reader’s anxieties and fears, and her surprising need for male approval. The main impression the magazine gives of its readers is that although they may be liberated from societal expectations for female chastity and from any need to find fulfillment in marriage and family, they are not strong, independent women. They are women out of a fifties television show. That is worse.

In Cosmo girl’s world, a woman needs a man like a fish needs water.
Of course, that puts guys in charge of giving or withholding her happiness. And she is a captive audience for a vast variety of products aimed at helping her make him do that.

In my view, happiness starts with accepting oneself enough to just be alone, spend nothing, and feel good anyway. Then, if someone comes along and wants to join you, you can decide whether that leaves you happy.

Anyway, I replied as follows (slight edits):
It all come of being a brand and seeing life as a market.

Cosmopolitan exists to market goods, and lonely urban singles are lush markets for high-margin products.

The irony is that Cosmo Girl's life (assuming she really exists) features far more constraints than traditional* religions usually impose.

Her hunk, when she hands him, is only confirmation that the huge sacrifice has all been worthwhile. She really has met the expectations of her consumer religion when she consumes a guy.

Talk about a "relationship" is mere social noise.

For most guys, the first requirement for a relationship is that she stop sleeping around. So a relationship probably won't happen, which is just as well.

She doesn't appear to have much practice with that kind of thing, and practice tells.

- cheers, Denyse

* I don't consider Islamic fascism a traditional religion. - d.