The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Bird brains

This is a cool discovery:

Scientists have found that rooks – a member of the crow family – were able to figure out how to raise the water level in a laboratory container by dropping stones inside to retrieve a tasty worm floating on the surface.

The only other animal shown to be able to perform the same task is the orang-utan, which was able to grasp a floating peanut by spitting water into a tube. Scientists believe the demonstration shows that, in many respects, rooks and crows have comparable intelligence to primates when it comes to the use of tools.

This comes soon after a finding that crows can remember human faces as well as we can.

Smart birds.

Some good, some bad, some wet

First, on the 45th anniversary of President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act into law, Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Second, John Hughes died this afternoon. He was 59.

Third, Britain has had unusually squishy summer, which only matters because I'm spending the entire last half of August there. Oh, it also matters to anyone trying to fly out of the U.K.

Sauce for the gander

Via How We Drive, a Fairfax, Va., man gets off with a warning after helping a gaggle of geese cross a highway:

When Jozsef Vamosi stopped to help a gaggle of geese cross the Fairfax County Parkway, he found himself ticketed for jaywalking. On June 18, Mr. Vamosi sighted three large geese and eight smaller ones attempting to cross four lanes of fast-moving traffic. In a move reminiscent of the children's classic "Make Way for Ducklings," he pulled over, got out of his car and waved the geese across, standing in the path of traffic and shouting "Move, move, move." The geese made it across unscathed, but Mr. Vamosi attracted the attention of a Fairfax police officer, who repeatedly ordered him out of the road and concluded by handing him a ticket.

District Court Judge Thomas E. Gallahue acknowledged that it was difficult to figure out the right thing to do in such a situation. ... Judge Gallahue said he would dismiss the case as long as Mr. Vamosi remained on good behavior for the next six months. He wisely noted that "I think we have to be careful when we do a thing we think is for the greater good that the consequence isn't more dangerous." And it's worth recalling that before Mr. and Mrs. Mallard completed their dangerous (if fictional) journey with little Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack, Officer Michael had arranged for the cooperation of the police department.

Some already know my feelings about Canada geese—"Kitchen Sink" category indeed—so I might have just shooed them back whence they came, but I woulnd't want to see them get run over. Still: it's kind of cute.

Forget about who will bell the cat

Put a camera on him instead:

In the beginning there is one big question and a lot curiosity: that is the cat doing all day long ? The solution and answer is the CatCam. The small digital camera is attached to the collar of the cat. It features a user programmable timer function. Based on the interval time it takes automatically pictures or video clips (based on version). The unit is protected against shock, dirt and humidity in order to survive the cats lifestyle.

Quick hits

Lots to do for the next, oh, 17 months, so I thought I'd get started. My first Duke box arrived today, containing 6 kg of books, course packets, handouts, and more books, all of which have to be read by August 15th. Fortunately I have a few extra hours each day to do all this (I use them to sleep right now, so they're kind of wasted).

Just a couple news stories of note today:

  • President Obama gave an hour-long press conference yesterday in which he spent 50 minutes discussing the single most important domestic-policy issue in the U.S. right now, health care. Since health care policy is complex, full of compromises, difficult to understand, and absolutely imperative to fix, the network talking heads spent all their time today discussing a stupid Cambridge, Mass., police officer who made an ill-advised arrest Monday. This, in turn, is why network talking heads are useless. I can't wait to see Jon Stewart's take.
  • Mark Buehrle, who plays for the other Chicago baseball team, threw a perfect game this afternoon, the 2nd club history and only the 16th time ever in the major leagues. (A perfect game is one in which none of the offensive players gets on base by any means.)
  • Finally, Gidget the Chihuahua, aka the Taco Bell dog, died yesterday at 15.

Back to work...