Monthly Archives: May 2007

Different mindset

I’ve just re-read my last post and find myself amazed at how differently I feel today.

Another time I would be raving about what a cool, quirky story it was and then promptly write about something tangentally related. But it seems several factors conspired to colour my viewpoint; the fatigue I mentioned several days ago has not totally lifted, although the accompanying melancholy has. And perhaps the latter was what made me piss and moan about the discovery dolphins have dialects (and other studies have show the same is true of whales). There are certainly worse wastes of scientific time.

Or perhaps elements were at play that I am aware of only on a subconscious level.

Dolphins and dialects

From Reuters:

Dolphins living off the coast of Wales whistle, bark and groan in a different dialect from dolphins off the western coast of Ireland, scientists have discovered.

Different physical environments might have contributed to the mammals developing distinctive sets of vocalizations or “dialects,” said Simon Berrow from the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation.

Berrow supervised a master’s thesis by student Ronan Hickey at University of Wales, Bangor, who analyzed 1,882 whistles from the dolphins in the Shannon estuary and bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay in Wales. The study found 32 different sound categories, of which eight were only produced by the Shannon animals.

“The idea that the sounds are different is not a bad notion — you’d expect the information had to be different given the diversity of the areas where they reside,” Berrow told Reuters, adding he would use the data to create a dictionary of sounds and pursue the research further, should time and money allow.

There are times when I just sigh. As much as I love nature and animals of all persuasions — and God knows I hope we can maintain our climate so as to save as many from extinction as possible — there are times when I can’t help but wonder if our scientific focus is fecked beyond belief. Now, I will confess I’m fascinated by this little story, as it’s quirky and unusual. But was it worth the time and money? Could our scientific expertise be used toward better ends? Or am I ignoring the simple joy of research for research’s sake?

Zombified

I’ve been neglecting this blog.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy scribbling away, or that I don’t enjoy exploring various topics. It’s that I’m tired.

It has reached the stage where I am beyond physical tiredness; I am mentally fatigued. And so when I get home from work I no longer have the mental strength to articulate my opinion on a subject, or even write a general overview. Time is slipping inexorably by and I feel I have accomplished nothing.

I’m not saying this because I want sympathy. I’m not saying this because I’m looking for an answer. I’m saying it because I need to admit to myself that I am exhausted.

Taz II

I had great plans to use this blog to take my mind off work, but dangnammit I’m becoming a design addict. Perhaps it’s simply the visual aesthetics. Also, I aim to post more frequently in future.

Die Tageszeitung has made another bold decision for its front page. Where the paper normally has a large, rectangular image it has used a cut out of Herbert Gronemeyer, a musician/actor known for his humanitarian work. Sure, he looks odd, but it’s a strike choice.

The story, which is about G8 promises regarding Africa, isn’t even a story in the traditional sense. There are three large quotations — from Gronemeyer, Bono of U2 and Bob Geldof — and a small link paragraph hugging the singer’s leg. There’s also enough white space to allow the text and image to stand out while not seeming lost.

My best translation for the headline is: “African aid: G8 states do not fulfill their promises. These politics provoke force”. Any native speakers out there who can help me out?

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All hail newseum.

Animals are people too

An orangutan in Malaysia is undergoing cataract surgery, in what is the first such operation on a great ape.

Aman, 19, went under the knife for just over two hours earlier today at a wildlife centre in Borneo. He’s expected to recover quite well but there’s no guarantee he’ll have perfect vision again. According to reports, such surgery has been carried out on animals like dogs but never on an orangutan.

Such a sweet little story.

Picture power

A seasoned sub-editor once told me: “If you’ve got a good pic, go big”. Here are a few newspapers that have designed their front page with a strong image in mind (click the thumbnails for a bigger view):

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I love how the blue motif from the AM New York‘s masthead is continued in the background of the photograph and the strip ad along the bottom. The scale of the man inside the tunnel is great as well; and it’s one of those times when the headline practically writes itself.

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Papa Benny is on tour in Brazil at the moment, bringing the love and talking theology. Here’s how the ValeParaibano in São José dos Campos marked the occasion. Although the pope is just sitting there, he still dominates the page. I also like how they’ve designed the page so Benedict is looking at the copy, which is about a Brazilian friar who has been canonised. I like the colour scheme too. The newspaper has picked out the gold from the pope’s outfit and used the colour for the headline and subhead at the bottom of the text; it’s nicely punctuated by the yellow/bronze headshot of the friar’s statue.

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I have no idea what any of the stories are about on the cover of Dziennik Lódzki but I like the cut-out of the dancing couple. Interesting that they allowed it to cover the masthead, but good for them. It also works as a nice framing device and keeps the stories nice and tight.

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Unsurprisingly, Tony Blair’s announcement he’s calling it quits as PM from June 27 made the front of most of the English papers. The Daily Telegraph has used a pic of the man himself greeting his adoring public in his constituency. It may not have been the strongest Blair photo of the day but it works well above the fold.

(All pics from newseum.com)