7 Quick Takes (11/8/13)

— 1 —

This week, I got to make a donation to Against Malaria in honor of the Unequally Yoked readership.  Back when I got my flu shot, I asked any of you who were contributing to herd immunity to sign the flu shot honor roll, and I’d donate $5 per immunized reader, up to $100.    You guys made quota, and I’m delighted to have made the donation today.  And, if you didn’t sign up in round one, but have since gotten your flu shot, I’ll donate up to an additional $50 if you brag about your virtuous public health ways in the comments for today’s post.  I’ll make that donation on Monday.

And if you’re wondering why I picked Against Malaria, it’s because it’s GiveWell’s number one recommended charity.  GiveWell doesn’t just screen charities based on overhead versus money spent on the actual intervention.  They try to figure out the potency of the intervention.  I’d rather donate to an organization that spends 10% on overhead, and the rest on immunizations, for example, than one that only spends 1% on overhead, but whose intervention is giving poor children stuffed animals.  GiveWell helps me be confident that my money is doing good efficiently.

— 2 —

The previous take was my wordy, analytical thank you to blog readers, but I feel like you deserve something a little more visceral (and not in the medical photos sense).  Luckily, Tom and Lorenzo are doing their annual blogging of the Miss Universe national costumes.  They are more than a little sweary, but glorious.

Because today, noble, immunized blogreaders, you resemble Miss Argentina:

I <3 you guys.

— 3 —

According to Google Analytics, readers from the USA make three-quarters of the audience at Unequally Yoked, so it seems germane to also share the national costume of Miss USA.  It’s always challenging for our melting pot nation to choose a tasteful, glamorous outfit that represents the diversity of culture in our fair nation.  But that still doesn’t quite explain…

 Um, let me just defer to Tom and Lorenzo’s commentary here:

“AMERICA! Due to the decimation of our manufacturing base and the destruction of our middle class, we don’t make cars anymore! We make movies about cars that turn into robots. BOOYAH, MOTHERFUCKERS! Forefathers! Constitution! FUCKING FREEDOM, AMIRITE?”

You can read part 1, part 2, and part 3 of their evaluations of the costumes on their site.

— 4 —

I, for one, am hoping that, next year, Miss United Arab Emirates takes her inspiration from a fruit fly recently discovered in her country.  Goniurellia tridens has delicate silhouettes of ants on its wings, and it can confuse predators by flapping its wings and making the ants appear to walk.  It’s quite lovely:

I’d be satisfied if she just did wings like this, but I’d be delighted if she went out with decoy other contestants, or, maybe to make the analogy work better, stagehand-spots on her train, to distract the other beauty queens.

— 5 —

I think that’s enough of a transition to get us from Miss Universe to interesting animals of any type.  More Intelligent Life has an excellent article on coelacanths.  In addition to learning how to pronounce that word at last (see-la-kanth), I got to read things like this:

Coelacanths are the size of humans. They are slate-blue when alive, with white flecks on the thick scales that cover their bodies. They live in the gloaming, around 200-400 metres below the surface, where light barely penetrates and few creatures venture. They spend their days sheltering in rocky caves in small groups, coming up to feed at night as the water above them cools. Unlike most fish, they give birth to live young—small, perfectly formed baby coelacanths—and when disturbed they lift themselves into headstands, apparently using an electro-sensory organ in their snout to detect the presence of predators or prey.

The handful of people who have seen them in their natural habitat talk of their glowing eyes and their gentle demeanour. They describe coelacanths moving with surprising grace, deploying their fanned fins in a diagonal formation—right fin in front, left trailing behind—that is similar to a lizard walking.

(P.S. I had been pronouncing it KO-el-lanth, because I am terribly lazy about thinking about what words sound like when I read).

— 6 —

If any blog readers out there are participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, where you commit to writing 50,000 words in a month), perhaps you should try updating Chandler’s Law.  It usually reads “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand” but I’d be awfully interested in seeing coelacanths appearing in any way, shape, or form.  Too bad it’s word count and not character count, though.

— 7 —

Finally, apropos of nothing but its own beauty and via Wesley Hill, here’s one of Jian Guo’s beautiful Lord of the Rings illustrations.  (Of course, I picked the one with Eowyn).

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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