Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rich Sunday

What a great day. I LOVE the Arts & Letters Daily website. It's an aggregate site of annotated long-form articles. It's a rich source of superbly interesting diversions. Today my big learns were:
  1. About "ostraca." They were pieces of broken pottery readily available to Greek citizens. If the Athenian Assembly voted to have an ostracism, several months later Greek citizens could put the name of a person they wanted banned from the city onto an ostraca and then they could deposit the ostraca into an urn in the Agora. Anyone receiving an estimated 6,000 votes would be banned from Athens for ten years. Hence, our word "ostracism." Neat eh?
  2. Oh my God: "Siphonophorea."Siphonophores (si-fon-o-fores) are disgusting/amazing. I love biology, so I find them amazing. Phylum: Cnidaria. Class: (2) Anthomedusae (obvious reference when you see one) or Leptomedusae. Order: Hydroza. Family: There are sixteen.

    Siphonorea look like the weirdest animals you have ever seen but they are not an animal, they are a colony of many individual animals called transparent pelagic floaters. The most famous is the Portugese Man 'O War. (Family: Physalia. Genus: Physalis.) One component animal part specializes in the acquisition of food and to do that they develop dangling streams of cell-like creatures that contain incredibly strong neurotoxins with which to sting and stun prey.

    Amaze yourself and see below (thanks to the Monterey Bay Research Institute).
3.  John, Bunny and I went to the Blodel Conservatory today and I saw for the first time a Gouldian Finch, one of the cutest and most beautiful birds you have ever seen. See below. Peacocks and Birds of Paradise get all the press but the avian world is a wonder.

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