Humanities

Wolves Hunt Fish

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This is remarkable:

In another stunning revelation of wolf behavior from Voyageurs National Park, researchers Thursday announced they have confirmed park wolves hunting for and eating fish out of streams as a regular part of their diet.

The researchers released the first-ever video of wolves eating freshwater fish, and said GPS data shows one pack spent about half their time during several weeks in April and May "hunting" in creeks for spawning suckers and northern pike.

The revelation comes just one week after the News Tribune first reported the same researchers confirming wolves spent weeks on end in blueberry patches, eating blueberries at peak summer ripeness. The same researchers also are the first to document wolves' consuming large numbers of beaver, when the animals are available in summer months, and that wolves will leave deer and moose alone if they can get beaver as meals.

There's some speculation that the wolves focus on beavers — and maybe now on fish — has helped keep the park's moose population stable at the same time moose numbers have crashed across most of their Minnesota range.

The Voyageurs Wolf Project, a collaboration between the University of Minnesota and Voyageurs National Park, has followed GPS-collared wolves from over seven different packs since 2015. The fish revelations were recently published in the journal Mammalian Biology.

Using GPS collars, the team collects location data from wolves every 20 minutes. That data reveals not just wolf behavior but also pack territory boundaries.

Researcher Tom Gable first noticed the wolf-fish interaction in April, 2017, when he hiked to a creek where GPS data showed one of the collared wolves was spending a lot of time. "As I approached the area, I briefly saw a wolf trying to catch a fish before it ran into the woods," Gable said. He then found fish remains and wolf tracks scattered along the creek.

The image above is a trail camera capturing a wolf in the process of stalking and removing a fish from a creek. This is the first time we have acquired scientific proof that wolves take fish out of the water. Up to this point, no other proof existed.

Given all of the work that has been done to study and conserve habitat for wolves, it is without question a major scientific discovery that, in the context of our current disinterest in preserving our planet, renders it tragic in a way. We are watching the slow-motion destruction of the planet and we are entertained by foolishness and the utterly crass. A handful of people remained dedicated to figuring out how the world works and we owe them a huge debt.

Get On a Bike

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This is a fascinating look at how the Dutch redesigned their cities to accommodate cycling. This casual style you see depicted above looks hilarious at first, but, consider this—these people are off their asses, doing something and they don’t care what you think.

They banished cars and they went with what works—special lanes, ride share opportunities, and they’re well ahead of us in terms of not destroying the planet. When I lived in Europe, I saw this on a large scale in Munich, Germany. There were so many bikes, it just didn’t make sense to think about cars. If you could live your life and only have to drive your car once or twice a week, wouldn’t you do it? Could you convert your thinking to make walking and cycling your primary means of getting around? And don’t forget public transportation. In Europe, you can use all manner of buses and trains. Could you change your mindset about getting from here to there?

I live in Texas now. Unless we’re talking the downtown area of Dallas or San Antonio, I don’t see how this works without ending up in traction because here, cars will just run you over. It’s a sad fact of life. With the advent of the pay-as-you-go scooter business, I suppose it would be possible to see people changing how they do things, but still. It’s really hard to see dramatic change happen without an investment in making it possible to drive less in cars and to get around more on foot or on a bike.

I am very much the kind of person who can’t envision riding a bike with a helmet. I don’t know what it is—a lack of common sense, my own ridiculous ideas, or just plain stupidity. It could be all of those things. The idea of riding a bike with a helmet has never made any sense to me. I would rather just do what these folks are doing and ride around.

Oh, and none of these people are fat, are they? Take that, Americans.

The Fall of Gondolin

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Christopher Tolkien has published what appears to be the final book written by his father, J.R.R. Tolkien. No one expected to see The Fall of Gondolin, so it is quite a surprise:

While this story may be the last Tolkien book to be published, it is actually an early tale and foundational to the author’s entire concept of Middle-earth. It was first written in 1917 while Tolkien was recuperating in a hospital from trench fever after the Battle of the Somme. “It’s a quest story with a reluctant hero who turns into a genuine hero—it’s a template for everything Tolkien wrote afterwards,” John Garth, author of a book about Tolkien’s experience in World War I tells Alison Flood at The Guardian. “It has a dark lord, our first encounter with orcs and balrogs—it’s really Tolkien limbering up for what he would be doing later.”

Christian Holub at Entertainment Weekly explains that the new book tells the tale of Tuor, a man living in an age where the world is dominated by the dark lord Melko—known in other Tolkien books as Morgoth. Only one place, the hidden Elvish city of Gondolin has resisted his reign, and Tuor is sent to find the place. He does, but so do the dark forces of Melko. In the grandest Tolkien battle scene outside of The Lord of the Rings, the author describes a mechanized army, similar to the newly introduced mechanized warfare he’d witnessed during the Great War, falling on the city.

I am not a fan of the Hobbit movies; Tolkien gave us battles, but not of the size and scope that were depicted. I do not believe Peter Jackson was ever the right filmmaker for The Lord of the Rings, either; his movies are beautifully framed junk and everything is a near-miss and, hey, what if we spin the camera around this way and that way? Everyone seemed stiff at times, but you really have to credit what Elijah Wood and Sean Astin did to make it all seem like an actual epic quest. It wasn't all bad, of course.

The best description for Jackson's approach would be to call it expensive fan fiction. Beyond that, everything I actually liked about the books disappeared. If they can make a movie about Han Solo, why the hell can't they make a movie about Elrond?

The Fall of Gondolin explores the history of Middle Earth, and gives you a sense of Tolkien's decision to build the languages, the different inhabitants, their entire, well-imagined back stories, and their place in the story. It's not enough to talk about the tribes of Elves or Men or Dwarves--their foundational epics and their sense of who they were had to be built, painstakingly, one generation at a time.

Aside from George R. R. Martin, who does this anymore? Plenty of writers make the attempt, but Tolkien, being an academic, had the knowledge to create the framework that his son has spent decades trying to organize and preserve for proper release. His achievement as a curator is no less of an accomplishment than his father's as the creator.

If someone else decides to make films of these stories, I'm fine with that. I really don't need to see any more of Jackson's vision. To me, it was always about the history and the relationships, and not so much the sword play and the massed formations of troops. Having seen the horrors of war, I don't think Tolkien wanted it to be fetishized in the manner in which it was, I really don't. There was always a purpose to the violence, and that's where all of the effort went.

Tom Arnold is Full of Shit

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In case you were wondering, no, Tom Arnold does not have any "tapes" where Trump says the N-word:

in December 2016, Arnold said: “I have the outtakes to The Apprentice where he says every bad thing ever, every offensive, racist thing ever. I have that.”

I can’t wait to see those tapes. We all want to see them. Footage of Donald Trump using the N-word would be seismic. It would be Pussygate times 10. It would permanently damage, and maybe even end, his presidency.

I know! So where are the tapes? It’s complicated.

He doesn’t have them, does he? The bad news is no, he doesn’t. According to a new Rolling Stone interview, Tom Arnold says that the N-word tape was just an online link, and the video has since expired.

If anyone produces a file or proof that Trump regularly says the N-word, he will claim that it has been doctored and that it if fake news. His supporters won't care, because they secretly want him to say it so that they can say it and not have to lose their jobs, too.

For Tom Arnold to try to make money off of this is proof that we live in an awful country made worse by the fact that the garbage residing in the White House is probably the worst human being of the 21st Century.

Lily Allen

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I wish someone would prove me wrong, but Lily Allen never really made it in the United States. But, here she is, perfectly explaining why it is impossible to believe anything online anymore because Russia is engaged in a massive attack on Western democracy and Western culture:

Do you think what’s written about you in certain newspapers fuels the Twitter trolls?
“Yeah, I do. Although to what extent, I’m not quite sure. Out of the trolls, I’m not sure what’s automated and Russian, and what’s real. They’re not called Russian bots. They’re called, you know, PaulJames1979 with a Middlesbrough FC emblem.  But I do know that if I get into a tête-à-tête – or tweet-à-tweet – with Piers Morgan, then suddenly I’ll get loads of automated stuff. So there are definitely right-wing triggers that if you converse and interact with, you get a sort of army coming at you. And you know that they’re automated because they have the same key words and they’re talking about exactly the same thing. In all the tweets, there will be four of five key words surrounded by other aggressive words.”

So, if a British pop singer who definitely deserves a global audience can figure this shit out, why can't anyone in America?

 

 

What the Hell is Going On?

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SPOILERS AHEAD (OBVIOUSLY...)


 

The culture has passed me by:

Avengers: Infinity War” can check off yet another record: The second-highest second weekend of all time.

Disney and Marvel’s latest collaboration earned $112.5 million from 4,474 locations in its second frame. The 56% decline was just enough to top the record previously held by fellow Marvel title “Black Panther,” which made $111.6 million in its second weekend. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” holds the prize for biggest second weekend, with a mighty $149 million in 2015. Only five films have ever hit the $100 million-mark in their second weekends.

In just North America, the superhero mashup has made $450.8 million. Among “Infinity War’s” numerous accomplishments is being the fastest film to gross $1 billion, in just 11 days. And the film has yet to open in China.

I enjoy living in the future. I don't advocate a return to the bad old days. I have a smart phone and I love it when people put out new music. But I couldn't be further out of the cultural zeitgeist if I was walking around dressed like it was the 1890s and talking through the severed end of a flugelhorn. 

What do I have here at the end of watching all 18 of these terrible, terrible Marvel movies? Nothing. I have no idea what has happened. I mean, I don't want to pull the sleeve right off your best jacket, but what the hell was all that about? Some people and some magic stones have fought each other and now the universe is in balance? There is no balance in nature. It's just wild and free and shit goes one way, then another. Is Jesus supposed to show up now? I think that was a joke in Infinity War, which I saw a day ago and can't remember anything about.

Why aren't the Jesus freaks angrier about this movie? It's supposed to be the end-all, be-all of everything and all it needed was for Southpark's version of Jesus to show up, put his hand on the shoulder of Thanos, and say, "who hurt you, my son?" That would have ended the whole movie. No need for any more Avengers because Jesus can shoot a lightning bolt through your eyes if you try to make special weapons or steal magic stones.

I'll tell you how the movie will end next year. Something, joke, something, everybody's trapped in the soul stone! fight, joke, joke, fight, and then another fight and then the little girl makes the bad guy put everything back the way it was and someone hides those magic stones and we get to do it all over again in the reboot.

The whole movie runs through the relationship between the young version of Gamora and the big bad evil daddy figure. Conquering figure adopts helpless child, wah wah, okay, what did we learn? Did we learn more about emotional manipulation and allow a figure who has killed untold trillions of children in the universe to have a soft spot for a little kiddy? Genocide never had a better premise in a film. Let's just breeze past the horror--he's got a heart of gold hidden in there, but he's been hurt and Jesus never came around to save him.

Culturally, this is all just junk. It's light, it's fluffy, people eat it up, and then it dissipates. It amuses and distracts, but it doesn't really do anything beyond that. The only thing it really accomplishes is that, for far too many underpaid Americans, a massive amount of discretionary spending has been ripped out of the middle of the economy, causing people to put off buying tangible things while edging out all of the other crap they don't need. Video game makers have tried to cash in by making Avengers games, but it's just not the same. They need a new franchise, obviously, and it's something about killing. 

Is there any point to any of the Marvel crap? It's just another version of Star Wars for people who still spend a lot of money on other stuff. Someone somewhere is busy thinking up another version of all of this, but edgier, man. Everything has to be the same but just a little darker and meaner and cooler. Dude.

Think of the art that didn't get made because all of this talent, money and energy was tied up making 18 Marvel films. There are actors and actresses here who have real talents. I'm not out of line for suggesting that there are far too few female characters and way too many men who are playing characters that are younger than they are in real life. Mark Ruffalo can actually make real movies for adults. Is this a wise use of his time? And do we need slightly less stupid Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation to be the guy who screws up everything? Talk about playing to a cliche. I'll bet when Paul Bettany was doing Richard III, all he could think about was putting a jewel on his forehead and floating about in a robot body while living in Scotland with his girlfriend. Really? You don't think they would have preferred Brighton? Come on. No one lives in Scotland on purpose.

You could have told it all in 3 films that cost a lot less, but no one thinks small like that anymore. It has to be massive! On a scale never before seen! Why sell them three pictures when we can pad this out and make billions off of six different trilogies! Cram it into every nook and cranny! Put it on every product known to man. Well, that's what they did, and that's what they've plopped down in front of everyone. But there are more movies on the way! Here they come! 

Do you know what still has more relevance in the culture? The Beatles, high as kites and out of it, singing Love is All You Need to a world that didn't believe it for a minute. Oh well, this is what you get when you grow old.

Michelle McNamara

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The late Michelle McNamara was a true crime writer who died in 2016 before solving one of the subjects that obsessed her. McNamara was the sort of person who threw herself into a subject and didn't let up. She was also the wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, and today she would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when they caught "The Golden State Killer" decades after eluding the police:

A suspect has been arrested in connection to a decades-old cold case involving more than 10 people who were murdered, known as the Golden State Killer case.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested early Wednesday morning on two counts of murder, according to the Sacramento Bee and Fox40 Sacramento. A spokesperson for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The Golden State Killer was linked by DNA and method to 12 murders, 45 sexual assaults and more than 120 burglaries from Sacramento to Orange County between 1976 and 1986.

This was one of the last things McNamara worked on before her passing:

The Golden State Killer case was also the subject of a true-crime book titled “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” by Michelle McNamara, Patton Oswalt’s late wife. McNamara worked with investigators on the case but died before the book was published. It was finished by co-writer Billy Jensen, researcher Paul Haynes and Oswalt.

In regards to news that an arrest had been made, Oswalt tweeted, “If they’ve really caught the #GoldenStateKiller I hope I get to visit him. Not to gloat or gawk — to ask him the questions that @TrueCrimeDiarywanted answered in her ‘Letter To An Old Man’ at the end of #IllBeGoneInTheDark.”

We can only hope that they got the right man, due in no small part to McNamara's work.

Pay the Lady What She is Worth

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If AMC doesn't pay Lauren Cohan what she is worth, then to hell with that network:

Lauren Cohan is mulling walking away from The Walking Dead.

The actress, who has starred as Maggie since season two of the AMC zombie drama, has booked a lead role in ABC drama pilot Whiskey Cavalier.

Cohan has emerged as one of the most in-demand actresses this pilot season. Sources tell THR that she has been actively looking for her next role as she battles AMC over her season nine salary. With Walking Dead already renewed for a ninth season, Cohan does not have a deal in place to return to the show. Sources say the actress and her agents are not happy with the offers that have been on the table from AMC. Although Cohan is not seeking salary parity with male leads Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, her camp and AMC have been engaged in a months-long negotiation that remains far apart. Insiders suggest that she is actively looking for her next job and not trying to use the pilot casting process to force AMC's hand as the actress's camp remains frustrated by AMC's lowball offers. Other sources note AMC has made "aggressive offers" to re-sign Cohan for season nine.

AMC seems like the chintziest of networks. They are incapable of taking care of talent. I can't believe they are not paying female leads on the show the same as what they are paying males because it is, for all intents and purposes, one of the best ensemble dramas around. And I say this even after the audience collapsed two years ago.

Why are we even having this discussion? Of course you should pay women the same as men, especially when they demonstrate that they are more than equal to the task of storytelling. In the case of the Walking Dead, which is more of an ensemble show, I think that is definitely the case. 

I understand that there can be exceptions, but there can also be times when women should be paid more. It's hard to argue that Anna Gunn should have been paid the same as Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad, but it's not outside the realm of possibility that she should have been brought to a level very close to him in terms of compensation. He was the overall lead of the show and she had less screen time. I always thought Stana Katic should have been paid more than Nathan Fillion and given top billing for Castle. She was clearly the better of the two characters and had more depth.

Samantha Fox Remembers David Cassidy

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People hate to be told this, but so-and-so was a huge star at one point.

Well, here's the deal. Samantha Fox was a huge, huge star at one point. Here, she remembers what it was like to deal with perennial loser David Cassidy, who recently died of several different things:

Speaking to the Daily Star, Fox has alleged that Cassidy groped her in a restaurant bathroom in 1985 during a video shoot for his single ‘Romance’.

Fox said that she was washing her hands when Cassidy allegedly “came storming in” and “pushed me up against the wall”.

Former glamour model-turned-pop star Fox added: “His hands were all over me. I shouted: ‘Get off me, David!’ in an attempt to stop him. But instead, he just stuck his tongue into my mouth and shoved a hand under my skirt, while the other kept a firm grip on one of my breasts.”

“I reacted quickly and instinctively by bringing my knee upwards, striking him right in the balls… then I elbowed him in the face.”

Fox also claimed that Cassidy “had an erection” as she posed semi-nude for a photoshoot. “Whenever he pressed himself against me, I could clearly feel his dick,” she said.

In other words, Fox was the Britney Spears of her era, only with talent and the ability to defend herself against horrible, horrible men.

Apropos of nothing, here she is with Freddie Mercury because why not?

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Melania Trump's Personal War on Christmas

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I get the sense that Melania is not happy. Not happy at all.

She has gone from jolly decorations and old-timey traditions and familiar themes to something straight out of the world of European cinema. It's a jarring hellscape. It reminds me of an Ingmar Bergman film:

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And, remember--it's not Christmas in Slovenia without Krampus!

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The War on Christmas may have lost General Bill O'Reilly, but Melania Trump is finding a way to horrify everyone with her interior Christmas decor ideas. I can just imagine how she instructed the White House staff to decorate:

"Lots of dead branches, pointing up to heaven, lit with cold, indifferent light, creating a maelstrom of claustrophobia, trapping the soul in every corner of every nook and cranny of this putrid construct of reality."


Armie Hammer Does Not Owe You an Active Twitter Account

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I agree that it is insane, but it is also a symbol of how we expect people to make themselves available and turn themselves inside out for entertainment purposes. Each and every person is entitled to their own version of privacy. You ought to be allowed to choose what you want people to see and to know and to read from you. 

If Armie Hammer doesn't want to be on Twitter, go pound sand.


Dick Gregory 1932-2017

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Dick Gregory was one of the greatest civil rights advocates in American history, full stop. His legacy is that of activist and entertainer, but his impact was felt everywhere in popular culture. If you are sad about Bill Cosby, then be grateful for Dick Gregory, who did more than virtually every entertainer of his era to advocate for Civil Rights.

Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, who broke barriers in the 1960s and became one of the first African-Americans to perform at white clubs, died Saturday.

He was 84. 

Gregory recently rescheduled an event in Atlanta because he was hospitalized. He died in Washington, his son posted on social media without giving details. 

    "The family appreciates the outpouring of support and love, and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time," Christian Gregory said. "More details will be released over the next few days."

    Gregory satirized segregation and racial injustice in his acts, and was arrested several times in the 1960s for joining civil rights rallies.

    Gregory died a day before Jerry Lewis, and their coincidental demise is a reminder that most celebrities stay the hell away from controversy and charity.  Gregory didn't shy away from the violence of the 1960s--he was a victim of it, numerous times. Never once did he bow out and take the easy route to fame and fortune. He lived his entire life trying to make this country a better place. Lewis spent many, many years raising money for Muscular Dystrophy victims and trying to make this country better.

    We will not see their like ever again.

    Jerry Lewis 1926-2017

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    Jerry Lewis was one of the most famous men of the 20th Century, and history has never been kind to his legacy as an entertainer or public figure:

    Love or hate Jerry Lewis, you knew he was in the room.

    Lewis, who died Sunday at age of 91, turned himself into an American entertainment institution, first as a maniacal slapstick comedian and then as the 45-year host of tear-jerking annual TV telethons that raised a staggering $2.6 billion for muscular dystrophy research.

    His death was confirmed in a statement tweeted by a reporter for the Las Vegas Review Journal.

    "Legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis passed away peacefully today of natural causes at 91 at his home w/ family by his side,” the statement read.

    Inside the comedy world, Lewis was revered as a genius. The 2011 Lewis documentary "Method to the Madness" featured comedians from Billy Crystal to Eddie Murphy to Chevy Chase praising his singular style of comic lunacy and pathos.

    "I get paid," Lewis once said, "for what most kids get punished for."

    Is there anyone who raised more money for charity? Is there anyone who was up and down so many times? 

    Settled

    Well, this is a relief:

    Warner Bros. and the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien announced Monday that they amicably resolved an $80 million lawsuit over the alleged digital exploitation of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The Tolkien estate and book publisher HarperCollins filed the lawsuit against Warner Bros. in 2012 alleging that the company had breached contract by marketing online games, slot machines, and other gambling-related merchandise based on Tolkien's books. The estate claimed the 1969 rights agreement entitled the studio to create only “tangible” merchandise associated with the books.

    I was worried that the Tolkien estate was going broke. Hopefully, they ended up with somewhere close to half of the $80 million they were suing for. If you're like me, and I know I am, then you prefer your Tolkien on the printed page and not on the silver screen or some Blu-Ray player.  I mean, the movies were good, and they really exceeded expectations, but aren't you wondering when they'll just reboot the whole thing and cash in again?

    Daniel Day-Lewis is the Greatest Actor of All Time

     Daniel Day Lewis, photographed by New York celebrity photographer Dale May.

    Daniel Day-Lewis has earned a chance to retire and do other things:

    Daniel Day-Lewis’s upcoming collaborationwith his There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson will be his final role. The actor is retiring, according to Variety. “Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor,” Day-Lewis’s spokeswoman, Leslee Dart, told Variety. “He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years. This is a private decision and neither he nor his representatives will make any further comment on this subject.” Day-Lewis has won three Academy Awards for Best Actor: for playing Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln, for playing the depraved, wolfish oilman Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, and for playing the Irish writer Christy Brown in My Left Foot. His filmography is peppered with other notable collaborations: He’s worked with Martin Scorsese in The Age of Innocence and Gangs of New York, and sang and danced in Rob Marshall’s Nine.

    Day-Lewis is currently at work on a period drama set in 1950s London. The Paul Thomas Anderson movie is being filmed under the working title Phantom Thread, and focuses on a highly sought-after dressmaker. (Vulture guesses the movie is about Charles James.) What’s next for Day-Lewis? Maybe he’ll start sculpting with Brad Pitt, or hanging out with Charlie Hunnam, who told us he’s a huge fan. In the words of his Bloodcharacter Daniel Plainview, “I’m finished.”

    I don't think this is marketing hype for a new movie; I think this is the last thing he's interested in doing. Why can't people who are really good at something retire? I was sad when Gene Hackman quit acting, too, but that's just the way it is. To go out on top is rare, but to retire when you're the greatest living actor and probably the best actor of all time, well--who are we to judge?