Friday, March 25, 2016

17 New Elephants in the US of A!!

Apparently, these elephants were scheduled to be killed to make room for other animals in their former home of Swaziland, so a few US zoos adopted them.

Conservationists complained that removing them from their natural habitat would be detrimental to their health and wellbeing, but I think killing them would be worse wouldn't it?

Also, apparently there's a drought in the region right now, and let's not forget that elephants are being slayed by the thousands by poachers for their ivory.

CNN reports:
Seventeen elephants flown out of Swaziland on a chartered plane are now in their new home country -- the United States. 
The elephants, from a game reserve run by nonprofit Big Game Parks, landed in Fort Worth, Texas, over the weekend aboard the cargo plane. 
Before their departure from Swaziland, the giant animals were sedated and loaded onto crates for the long flight. 
On arrival, five were transferred to the Dallas Zoo under police escort.
The remaining 12 are the newest residents of the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, and the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.
 The zoos defended the transfer, saying the animals were set to be killed to make room for rhinos at the Swaziland facilities. The country is also undergoing a drought. 
"It escalated to a rescue mission last fall due to this state-of-emergency drought," said Gregg Hudson, president of Dallas Zoo. 
In exchange for the elephants, the three U.S. zoos will donate funds toward the rhino conservation efforts at Big Game Parks.  
Conservationists have scrambled to stop the relocation, saying moving the elephants from the natural setting of the game reserve to zoos half a world away is detrimental to their health. 
The zoos have said the animals faced certain death at home and are better off in the United States. 
"There are those who would rather see elephants die than live in accredited zoos. We strongly disagree with that position," Hudson said. 
He said the Dallas facilities are spacious enough for the giant animals to roam and forage.
I am all for animals living in their natural habitat, but I'm fully on the side of the zoos on this one.

Eric & Peety

Have some tissues handy for this one, peeps:

The Faithful Dindim

A heartwarming story from The Independent on a cute little penguin who regularly goes back to visit the human who saved his life several years ago:
Four years ago, Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, found a South American Magellanic penguin covered in oil and starving on a beach on an island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. A friendship was born.  
Since they met in 2011, the creature, which normally breeds on the Patagonia coasts of Argentina and Chile, three to five thousand miles away, has become a faithful companion, swimming every year from its habitat to spend up to eight months living with the retired fisherman in his house on the island. 
“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,” said Mr Pereira de Souza in an interview with Globo TV, in which the bird honks with delight as he recognises his human friend. “No one else is allowed to touch him. He pecks them if they do. He lays on my lap, lets me give him showers, allows me to feed him sardines and to pick him up,” said Mr Pereira who has named the penguin Dindim. 
Biologist Joao Paulo Krajewski, who interviewed Mr Pereira de Souza for Globo TV, told The Independent: “I have never seen anything like this before. I think the penguin believes Joao is part of his family and probably a penguin as well. When he sees him he wags his tail like a dog and honks with delight.”

Here's a video of the two hanging together:

Such a heartwarming story, it brought tears to my eyes.

Sally Field

The two times Oscar winner shared her views on human sexuality (her son Sam is gay) and her advice for parents:
“Sexuality is a human glorious part of existence. In Sam’s case nature told him what to be…I welcomed him to welcome himself and find that part of his life.
First of all, don’t be frightened. And don’t put your own prejudices or fears about sexuality — your own fears about sexuality – on your children.
What horrifies me is that there are parents who so disapprove, who are so brainwashed to think that this is something out of the Bible or ungodly or against nature. It’s not against nature if nature has actually done this. Sam was always Sam, this wonderful human that he is, from the time he was born. Some people actually shut their children out of the house when they’re young, they’re teenagers – they’re having a hard enough time trying to be teenagers and own any part of sexuality. I’m still trying to figure it out!”

In Memoriam

Garry Shandling (November 29, 1949 - March 24, 2016)

A prolific comedic actor and writer who left his mark with The Larry Sanders Show.

In Memoriam

Ken Howard (March 28, 1944 - March 23, 2016)

A very prolific movie and TV actor I last saw in The Judge, but who also appeared in J. Edgar, Grey Gardens, Michael Clayton, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The West Wing, The Practice, and ages ago in The Thorn Birds and Dynasty.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

The Oldest and Farthest Galaxy, by Hubble

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has been pushed to its limits and has detected the oldest and most distant galaxy to date, 13.4 billion years in the past.

That puts it at only about 400 million years after the Big Bang:

Just another reason why Hubble's upcoming dismissal is so sad.

Sure, the new telescope will be many times more powerful than Hubble, and so it will be able to see even farther in time and better than Hubble ever could, but it will be sad to see such a wondrous instrument burn up in the atmosphere nonetheless.

You can read more technical details here.

Til It Happens To You

Here's Lady Gaga's performance of her (and Diane Warren's) Best Oscar nominated song Til It Happens To You:

She was bewitching. Unforgettable. What a performance.

On a less happy note, I just read that Ryan Murphy invited her back for season six of American Horror Story.

That's not good news, as far as I'm concerned. In season five Gaga took center stage after Jessica Lange vacated the spot and the end result was underwhelming.

I'm sure that she will get top billing again (even though I read elsewhere that she wasn't universally liked), which pretty much means that Lange will not be back, as she had teased, since I'm sure she'd never split leading lady duties with Gaga.

It also means Murphy will have to come up with another character that perfectly suits Gaga, rather than a perfect character that Gaga would have to inhabit.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the measure of a real actress.

Oh well.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The Man in the High Castle

The Gist: The Nazis won World War II by dropping a nuclear warhead on Washington DC. In modern America, the Greater Nazi Reich extends from the east coast almost to the Rockies, the west coast makes up the Japanese Pacific States, and in between lies the Neutral Zone. Germany is the most technologically advanced nation on Earth, while the Japanese have fallen behind and fear that the Germans will soon attack them too. The invaders aren't unopposed, but the resistance keeps getting infiltrated from both sides of the country. Their main task is to retrieve and deliver a series of mysterious films to the highly secretive "Man in the High Castle." The films seem to portray a different reality, one in which the Allies triumphed over the Axis of Evil, but no one seems to understand where they are coming from or what their meaning is.

This Amazon Prime original series is really intriguing and incredibly well made. The production values are top notch, all the way down to the smallest details.

It's really quite incredible to see the world as we know it turned upside down and looking the opposite of what it does. It's humbling to ponder the question, What if they won? And it's definitely shocking to see what America might look like if the Nazis had prevailed.

The Bottom Line: After the amazing work they did with Transparent, Amazon definitely has another winner on its hands with The Man in the High Castle. The show is full of twists and intrigue, is well written and directed, and it showcases very good acting. Watch it.

Grade: 8