Out for a Jog

News reports say that even a little jogging can make your life longer. Except if you do it on a street in Saudi Arabia, as this bird found out:

I don’t know precisely where in Saudi Arabia this video was taken. Google Translate appears to say it was on King Fahd Street in Abha Abha(?). Since I’m not a Muslim, I guess I’ll never have the opportunity to check it out first hand, but actually it looks like a pretty squalid place. The streets are paved, but only just barely, and the buildings all look like they should say “Checks Cashed Here” or (ironically) “Liquor.”

(The video link comes from JWZ, who titles it “buzzard bait.” Judging from how careful the drivers are to avoid the ostrich, he may be right. But it’s fun to watch the bird just trotting along. Wikipedia says they can run up to 43 mph. Based on that, I’d guess the bird in the video isn’t even breaking a sweat.)

Nature’s Bounty

We’re about 80% of the way done with the extreme pruning project for the oleanders that ring our backyard.

Oleanders (Still Fighting)

We never did find a store that sells Ladybugs’n’Stuff, but we did find one that sells Aphid-Be-Dead in great quantities.

That only leaves one thing: the bees under the shed. They don’t want us messing with any of the oleander bushes on the east side of the property line. The good news is that a properly-treated bee sting hurts less than a scratch inflicted by an oleander bush. The bad news is that I have one sting and Mrs. Jones has two, so we’re knocking off…for the time bee-ing.

This Stinks

About half the houses in my neighborhood are empty. Well, it’s actually more like 20%, but it seems like half. So what could make owning a home in Yucca Valley even less appealing?

A zombie apocalypse? No, that’s so 2010.

Roving packs of bloodthirsty hyenas? Nah!

I know! How about a nice dose of Xylella fastidiosa? That’s the ticket!

You start with oleander shrubbery that looks like this:
Oleanders - Healthy

Then you give them the infection. That will give you bushes that look like this:
Oleanders - Sickly

Now repeat about 30 or 40 times, all around your backyard:
Oleanders - Looking Bad

Salt Science

This was interesting, in the NY Times science blog:

Dr. McCarron and his colleagues analyzed surveys from 33 countries around the world and reported that, despite wide differences in diet and culture, people generally consumed about the same amount of salt. … The results were so similar in so many places that Dr. McCarron hypothesized that networks in the brain regulate sodium appetite so that people consume a set daily level of salt.

The rest of the article is about efforts to regulate salt in foods. What if that finding were correct? Imagine trying to set up a regulatory environment to achieve “safe” salt levels if there was a neurological trigger in the brain to get a different amount. When we prohibit alcohol and drugs, it doesn’t work, but at least it fails differently for different people.

(RT Instapundit.)

The science of faith

Here are two articles I should look at more closely, both in the New Scientist. (I forget where I came across them, sorry.)

Born believers: How your brain creates God

The credit crunch could be a boon for irrational belief

The second title is a game attempt to make something arcane and abstract timely and relevant. The first title is better. Imagine if, instead, it said, “Born seers: how your brain creates a visual representation of the universe.”

(Updated; I forgot to give this a title.)

Busy Birds

We had snow this morning, so it took me a bit longer to get going. (I had to phone people who might have come to a meeting and tell them not to.) When I got outside, I saw the quails had already run every which way:

Quail Tracks

Note that my Canon Powershot A620 seems to have gone missing — I had it Saturday. Monday morning I couldn’t find it. — so these photos are taken with my venerable A60. Sigh.