A Couple of Important Nature Links

Links an important petition and an important thunderclap. A couple of other nature related links, a classic nature related meme and some of my own photographs.

INTRODUCTION

A couple of big things to do with nature came to my attention today and I have decided to share them with you. In addition to the two major links there will be some of my own thoughts, a nod in the direction of New Zealand and some appropriate photographs of my own. As you will have noticed by now, the text in this post is green, and that is because it is a post entirely dedicated to nature. Links in the text will in bold and underlined, while images relating to other posts will also be formatted as links.

THOUGHTS ON NATURE

My own interest in the natural world and concern for nature are both lifelong. I literally cannot remember a time when these attributes were not part of me. Although I grew up in London I had a common practically on my doorstep, lots of natural history books, and of course being in London meant I was within easy travelling distance of the museums at South Kensington. In my childhood the Geological and Natural History museums were two separate entities, though they have long since been amalgamated into one museum, the Natural History Museum. Therefore you can imagine my reaction when I saw something on twitter about…

A GCSE IN NATURAL HISTORY

A petition on the official site created for petitions addressed to the UK parliament to create a Natural History GCSE has been launched. This means that it is only open to those among my readers who are UK citizens to sign, which I regret, but you can still view this petition (there is a screenshot below to whet the appetite) even if you are not a UK citizens. UK citizens please sign and share.
NH GCSE

My next major link is to a…

THUNDERCLAP

To be part of a thunderclap you have to be on some form of social media (facebook, twitter or tumblr to be precise). This particular thunderclap is about the importance of pollinators and the fact that scientists have established that birds as well as bees are pesticide victims. If you are able to add your voice to this thunderclap please do so. Below is a screenshot for further clarification.

BJBthunderclap

Yes, this thunderclap is well ahead of target, as it should be, but just as the importance of pollinators cannot be overstated, so this thunderclap cannot ever be said to be over-supported. 

A COUPLE OF FURTHER LINKS

Miles King over at anewnatureblog has today produced a splendid piece titled “Time to rename Defra the Ministry of Agriculture and Fieldsports” in which he reveals the extent to which our government is failing in its duties as regards the environment. Below is a screenshot of the section of the post dealing with the downright dishonourable Andrea Leadsom by way of introduction.

ALfail

Now it is time for…

A NOD TO NEW ZEALAND

Jerry Coyne, author of the books “Why Evolution Is True” and “Faith Versus Fact”, and who also runs a blog named after the first of those books is currently in New Zealand, and it is from there that this wonderful picture (click on it to view it in its original econiche) comes:

It is nearly time for some of my own photos, taken yesterday and today, but for the penultimate section of the post I share once again…

ANNA’S NATURE MEME

This wonderful creation was formed around words that were originally submitted by me as a comment on one of her blog posts.
Nature Meme

PHOTOGRAPHS

birdmootcorvidscysbbirdmootDSCN5745DSCN5746DSCN5750DSCN5751DSCN5756DSCN5759DSCN5763DSCN5771Goose1ducklngs x 5Goose2gull on jettyHGSquirrelStarling in grassbirdmootcorvidscysbDSCN5745DSCN5746DSCN5750DSCN5751DSCN5756DSCN5759DSCN5762DSCN5763DSCN5771DSCN5772ducklngs x 5Goose1Goose2gull on jettySquirrelHGStarling in grass

Autism, Work and Links

The launch of a new facebook page with NAS West Norfolk connections, a bit about yesterday at work and some very interesting links.

INTRODUCTION

For the benefit of new readers it is worth reminding people that I am both NAS West Norfolk branch secretary and #actuallyautistic. Although the the National Autistic Society (NAS) has some paid staff at its London HQ branches are run by volunteers and branch money comes exclusively from fund-raising. This post therefore starts with some news from NAS West Norfolk that I consider worth sharing before continuing with a bit about yesterday at work which will include pictures and ending with some interesting links.

THE LAUNCH OF A NEW FACEBOOK PAGE

NAS West Norfolk’s Sports Co-ordinator, Grant Cotton, creator of the Autism Awareness Cup, has created a new facebook page to link all his activities. It can be viewed by clicking the image below:

YESTERDAY AT JAMES AND SONS

Yesterday was devoted to imaging as many of those lots for the March auction that were not yet images as possible (a catalogue for this auction, taking place on the 27th, 28th and 29th of March, can be viewed here). Most of the imaging I was doing yesterday was of coin lots. Here some pictures…

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This is lot 248 – a seven image gallery for you to look at

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This is lot 249 – a four image gallery.

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From here until lot 124 we are looking at hi-res scans. Although I produced my usual three-image galleries for these coins with on exception I am sharing only the main image.

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The exception – this New Zealand florin from 1934, where I choose to show the close-ups as well.

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Lot 124 – the last of the scans
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Lot 108 – the packaging indicated that three of these coins were special, so I did close ups as well as the main images

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The close ups

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Lot 107 – this time the packaging suggested that two of the coins deserved special attention, so they got it.

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The close ups.

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Lot 222
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Lot 223. This horrible plastic tub did not have a lid, so I rehoused the lot in a nice wooden box with a fully functioning lid (I did a ‘meringue’ style test on it, turning it upside down with the coins inside, making sure that it was not too high above a flat, clear surface when I did so).
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Lot 224.

LINKS

Most of these links are science related, so to clear the decks I shall start with the exception. This comes courtesy of Skwawkbox, and is a devastating indictment of Theresa May and her ‘sweetheart deal’ with Surrey County Council. I agree with the Skwawkbox assessment that this should be considered as resignation matter. As another blogger, Mike Sivier, put it when commenting on this same issue: “a turd by any other name would smell as faecal and this one sgtinks of big fat lie”. To read the Skwawbox piece click here.

SCIENCE 1: FROM LIVESCIENCE

Two very different pieces from the same source here. The first deals with small things (specifically spiders), the second with something very large (a nebula).

  1. Wolf spiders having threesomes (yes, you read that right). Female wolf spiders are noted for eating their mates after copulation, and it may be that if two males tackle the same female there is more chance of one of them not being cannibalised. For the full story please click on the image below:
  2. This piece is about the discovery of a huge new nebula and the attendant mystery of what its light source might be. For the full story click on the image below:

SCIENCE 2: WEIT (WITH AN ASSIST FROM YOU TUBE)

It is no great secret that I am a huge fan both of Jerry Coyne’s books (Why Evolution is True and Faith Versus Fact) and of the associated blog, whyevolutionistrueThus I am delighted to share with you the fact that a video series on  chapter one of Why Evolution Is True is now being created. Episodes 1-3 are available to watch (and highly recommended by this blogger!), and according to WEIT’s own piece about the series there are two more episodes to come (yay!). I have embedded the videos below (they run in sequence) – enjoy!

Feathered dinosaur tail in amber!

A spectacular find as detailed on Why Evolution is True. To comment please visit original.

 

Why Evolution Is True

In a market in Myanmar, the Chinese scientist Xing Lida, shown in the picture below, found a piece of amber about the size of a dried apricot, and it had an inclusion. The seller, thinking the inclusion was a piece of plant, raised the price, for biological items in amber dramatically increase its value. Still, Xing bought the piece at a relatively low price, for the seller didn’t realize that the inclusion was not a plant, but part of a theropod dinosaur! And so it was: part of the theropod’s tail, which was sprinkled with feathers. The specimen turned out to be from the mid-Cretaceous, about 99 million years old. It’s a remarkable piece:

161208121636-dinosaur-amber-2-exlarge-169 The specimen: a bit of theropod dinosaur tail with very clear feathers

161208123535-dinosaur-amber-5-exlarge-169 Ryan McKellar and Xing Lida (discoverer of the specimen) with some amber from the site. Photo from CNN.

That specimen tells us something about the nature and evolution…

View original post 1,035 more words

A Varied Day at James and Sons

An account of today at James and Sons, featuring the construction of a press release, a bonus explanation of the origin of the phrase ‘bent as a nine-bob note’, and at the end a couple of important links.

INTRODUCTION

I have some old images to share, some new images to share, and a press release to talk about. Additionally I have a couple of important links that I will be sharing at the end of this post.

THE CREATION OF A PRESS RELEASE

There are several stages involved in creating press releases/ bulk emails. Stage 1 is working out what to cover, which in this case involved two aspects:

  1. The success of the March 30th and 31st auction, with large numbers of internet bidders, and…
  2. Advertising the April auction, complete with a link to the online catalogue listing.

Each of the foregoing for maximum effect needed to be accompanied by an appropriate image. Hence:

IMAGE SELECTION

For the March image I was looking for something that had sold for well above estimate, and would look good in an email. Thus my attention focussed on lot 720, which I recalled as being both interesting visually and spectacularly successful in the auction room. Thus I needed to view the full image gallery and select from within that…

I decided, given the shape of image I was looking for to combine the shot of the four coins and the ingot and the close-up of the ingot into a composite image (I considered the four reverses on their own, but wanted both parts of the image to have the same colour background).

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The composite I created for the occasion.

For the image to accompany the text advertising the April auction the task was easier – I went for the front cover item for very obvious reasons.

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Incidentally the above denomination of banknote provides the origin for the phrase “bent as a nine-bob note” – ‘bob’ was a colloquialism for a shilling, and as shown above, a ‘ten-bob’ note was kosher while a ‘nine-bob note’ would absolutely not have been.

ASSEMBLING A MAILING LIST

Coming up with the text for the press release is a straight-forward task, and assembling a mailing list is a simple matter of noting which categories of items are prominent in the upcoming auction, selecting the appropriate lists from the database and combining them into one big list. In this instance there were almost 400 names on the final list. As a security measure (and a guard against people hitting the ‘reply to all’ button) I am the designated recipient of the emails (my James and Sons email address, not my personal one) and the true recipients are bcc’d. Thus, given that our system can handle approximately 100 people being bcc’d at a time, this one involved sending the email four times.

THE FINAL PRESS RELEASE

I have a jpg of the final press release, and also a link that will enable you to view the document in its original word format.

INTERNET INTEREST SPARKS JAMES AUCTION SUCCESSpr

SOME LATE ARRIVALS

In addition to the above, some work on the database and some fetching and carrying there were also a few items that had been catalogued but had not previously been in our possession so still needed imaging…

A COUPLE OF LINKS

First up, courtesy of WEIT comes a horror story about a secular blogger being hacked to death in Bangladesh.

Finally, to end this post on an upbeat note, a story from the New Statesman by way of Prides Purge about how badly the Tory campaign for London Mayor has come off the rails (attentive followers of this blog  and my London transport themed website, www.londontu.be, will know that if I had a vote in that election I would be using it on Sian Berry’s behalf, but whoever ends up benefitting – most likely Sadiq Khan – bad news for Tories is good news for me!)

 

Auctions, Auctions, Auctions

Mainly concerned with today at work, this post also mentiuons the test match just concluded in South Africa’s favour and a piece by Why Evolution is True about a white giraffe.

INTRODUCTION

I will be mentioning stuff opther than auctions, but it is the auctions that form the basis of this post.

A TRIFECTA

Today’s work at James and Sons featured three different auctions, hence the title both of the post and of this section thereof.

TOMORROW’S AUCTION
(MAIDS HEAD HOTEL, NORWICH)

This played a comparatively minor role, everything having been done save for actually holding the auction. However, it was necessary to get the stuff loaded on to the van ready for being transported to Norwich tomorrow morning and I had to remember to disconnect the mouse from my work computer.

FEBRUARY 24TH (FAKENHAM RACECOURSE)

There were still a few items to be imaged for this auction, and one lot that needed special treatment so that it could feature on the front cover. Thus two photo galleries for this section…

These are some of the highlights from the unimaged lots.

The second photo gallery in this subsection deals exclusively with lot 450, which I was reimaging specifically for use on the front cover…

The photograph was fairly straightforward – although you will note that I edited it a number of different ways. The set of medals was more difficult because I had to prevent external light from intervening and they are attached to a display case that is about an inch thick.

MARCH 30TH (FAKENHAM – POSSIBLY TWO DAY SALE CONTINUING ON MARCH 31ST)

Towards the end of the day I made a start on imaging items that will go under the hammer on March 30th. Thus, here is another picture gallery…

While this gallery brings today at work to a close I have one last James and Sons item to share…

JAMES AND SONS ON ANTIQUES ROAD TRIP

Regular followers of this blog may recall that James and Sons feature in an episode of Antiques Road Trip. I can now inform you that this particular episode will be shown on February 1st at 4:30PM (meaning that it will be available for watching on i-player by 6PM that day for those like me who refuse to pay for the ‘privelege’ of watching live TV)

ODDS AND ENDS

In a post I put up yesterday I expressed the opinion that England were headed for defeat in the final test match of their series against South Africa. This became reality reamrakably quickly – by the time I left for work at 8:30 this morning our time England had plunged from three down to six down, with Kagiso Rabada picking up his 10th wicket of the match just before I left (Bairstow, morally out twice – saved first time round one the TV replay umpire picked up a no-ball and then done in precisely the same way by the very next delivery). A discreet check while eating my sandwiches confirmed that end had come swiflty thereafter, with Rabada taking a further three wickets to give him 13 in thge match and, of course, the player of the match award. For full details on events please visit the official cricinfo report.

Also from the continent of Africa but otherwise utterly unrelated to the above, the good folks at Why Evolution is True have come up with this offering about a rare white giraffe which is now fifteen months old.

 

Faith vs. Fact – Book Review

A review of Jerry Coyne’s Faith vs. Fact. This is an educated layperson’s view of the book.

INTRODUCTION

One of the things I was fortunate enough to receive this Christmas was a copy of Jerry Coyne’s latest offering, Faith Versus Fact. One recent review came to the author’s attention and was featured in this post on the blog Why Evolution is True, which takes its title from a previous book by the same author. I hope that my review is received more favourably in that quarter!

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A LONG EXPECTED GIFT

This book was one of two that I had indicated a desire to receive, the other being Robert Harris’ Imperator (watch this space…) but the fact that I had been at least part expecting to get it did not lessen the delight when that expectation was realised.

As someone who read and enjoyed Why Evolution is True (I refuse to even attempt to compare the merits of this book and Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth – suffice to say that I heartily recommend both books to give you a thorough grounding in the evidence for evolution) I had some initial expectations – copious evidence well laid out prominent among them.

Suffice to say that Faith Vs. Fact is a quite superb read. I particularly recommend to your attention chapter five “Why Does it Matter?”, which deals with a variety of important situations in which placing faith above reason has disastrous consequences (this chapter is not for the squeamish – ti contains some strong meat).

I will conclude this piece by suggesting that reading Faith vs. Fact should have a prominent place on your “to do” list.

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A Reading List

Some important/ interesting reading matter for today.

INTRODUCTION

This is going to be a very brief piece, consisting only of a handful of important links.

LINKS

These links come in four categories, starting with…

#JUSTICEFORKAYLEB

Two links relating to this shocking case:

  1. The petition, now with in excess of 150,000 signatures, that Morenike Giwa Onaiwu had been running via change.org since the start of the case.
  2. publicintegrity have produced an excellent and very thoughtful article about this case.

CELEBRATE SUFFRAGETTES NOT SERIAL KILLERS

Just a quick reminder of the latest development re the East End Womens Museum: a link via which you can contact the mayor of Tower Hamlets to give him your views.

WHY EVOLUTION IS TRUE

Two splendid pieces from the blog named in honour of Jerry A Coyne’s master work:

JEREMY CORBYN

According to comments on social media and Sky TVs own polling the number of contenders who emerged from last night’s Labour Leadership Debate with any credit totals one: Jeremy Corbyn. To mark his apparently crushing victory of last night I offer you, courtesy of beginpolitics this view of Mr Corbyn.