http://TheConcreteJungleBook.com sticker pasted up on Manhattan's Upper West Side, in a park near W. 71st and West End Ave. Contact me for copies, willing to trade.
28 July 2008
Public release date: 28-Jul-2008
University of Bonn press release:
University of Bonn press release:
Birdsong not just for the birds
Bio-acoustic method also hears nature's cry for help
Switch on the mike, start the recording, the stage is set for the local fauna!
Computer scientists from the University of Bonn, in conjunction with the birdsong archives of Berlin's Humboldt University, have developed a kind of 'Big Brother' for birds. This has nothing to do with entertainment, but a lot to do with the protection of nature. The new type of voice detector involved can reliably recognise the characteristic birdsong of different species of birds, thereby facilitating surveys of the bird population.
Europe's forests are falling silent as countless species of birds go on the red list of endangered species. Yet in fact no-one can say what the exact position is with some species. So as to have a reliable count of the territories of indigenous birds it would practically be necessary to send out a whole horde of spare-time ornithologists to count the birds. What is more, since the birds are often hidden in the undergrowth or the tree tops, ornithologists need to rely on their ears and their specialist knowledge. This means that in many areas it is wellnigh impossible to map the bird population comprehensively and continuously.
In view of such problems environmental protection has to fall back on new technical methods. Some of these are now being provided by Bonn scientists. Computer scientists from the University of Bonn have developed detectors which can recognise birdsong automatically. What this implies is that in the preliminary stage microphones are placed at selected points in the wild; these record all the sounds made, in some cases over a period of months. The new computer software can then sift through the many hundreds of hours of recorded material overnight and say how many birds of which species have been singing and how often they have been doing this.
In his project Daniel Wolff of the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Bonn initially concentrated on the bio-acoustic recognition of the Savi's warbler and the chaffinch. He listened carefully to the various types of birdsong, scrutinised them in a spectrogram and transferred the characteristics to algorithms. As soon as specific parameters are met, the programme kicks in. 'For example, the signal of the Savi's warbler has a mean frequency of 4 kHz, which is very typical. If, in addition, individual elements of the signal are repeated at a frequency of 50 Hz, this is detected as the call of a Savi's warbler,' Daniel explains. The chaffinch detector also analyses periodic repetitions of elements like these. In doing so it reveals more of a typical verse structure than the pitch of the chaffinch's song.
The Savi's warbler detector, particularly, which was subjected to long-term monitoring at Brandenburg's Parsteiner Weiher, is characterised by what researchers call 'robust recognition', i.e. a high degree of reliability. Despite interference from rain, wind and amphibians the programme recognised, with a 92% detection accuracy, the song of a species of bird which is still found on the shores of the Baltic but which has become rare elsewhere in Europe.
The birdsong detectors are as yet only calibrated for the birdsong of individual species. However, in the near future, Daniel Wulff thinks, it will be possible to link them up to a kind of superdetector which can recognise as many species as possible and, in combination with GPS coordinates, will make the mapping of bird populations simpler and more efficient.
The research field of bio-acoustics, he adds, is currently experiencing a boom. Although it was in the 1970s that the first attempts were made 'to detect the chaffinch with much slower computers,' Daniel says, with a nostalgic smile, 'what is decisive is that it's only now that we are in a position to store a large amount of recorded sound and place compact technology in nature which can really run for months, e.g. with solar energy.'
20 July 2008
Scrapbook poem by Morris Armstrong Jr. proudly a.k.a. "Little Mo" w/ B&W & foo-dog illos by San Francisco oldschool graffiti artist, Estria Miyashiro, Samurai Graphix, San Leandro, CA, plus a Flickr.com streetart photo, plus Little Mo meditates by Srayla Tip, plus oldschool kids' book illos from way back, info on file, let me check…
08 July 2008
06 July 2008
05 July 2008
04 July 2008
In The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), in the final section, "The Galaxy Reconfigured of the Plight of Mass Man in an Individualist Society", Marshall McLuhan quotes 19th century critic John Ruskin as he speaks of his desire
to revive the art of illumination…of making writing, simple writing, beautiful to the eye, by investing it with the great chord of perfect colour, blue, purple, scarlet, white, and gold, and in that chord of colour, permitting the continual play of the fancy of the writer in every species of grotesque imagination….
01 July 2008
[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 1-Jul-2008
American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
New combination of tests measures child's ability to taste and smell
Alexandria, VA – Researchers have developed a series of tests that for the first time accurately measure the normality of taste (gustatory function) and smell (olfactory function) in young children, according to a new study published in the July 2008 edition of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
The study, authored by researchers in Australia, determined that most children age 5-7 can identify a majority of 16 different test odorants that can measure smell function, along with four common tastes that describe taste function. The identifiable odorants include: floral, orange, strawberry, fish, chocolate, baby powder, paint, cut grass, sour, minty, onion, Vicks Vapo-rub, spicy, Dettol (liquid antiseptic), cheese, and gasoline (petrol). The identifiable tastes represented each section of the tongue palate: salty, bitter, sour, and sweet. As a result, a series of three tests, the Wholemouth Taste Test, the Regional Taste Test, and the Odor Identification Test, are able to offer sufficient information to diagnose the level of function of both taste and smell in young children.
Previously, the ability to measure a child's capacity for smell and taste was neglected across the world because no suitable clinical test existed (many similar tests used for adults are too lengthy for a child, and test for smells and tastes that may not be well known to the majority of children). With the development of such a test, physicians can now consider chemosensory dysfunctions in a diagnosis. The loss of taste and smell can be caused by a number of diseases and medications, along with disorders ranging from nasal and sinus disease to head trauma to middle ear surgery and infections.
Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery is the official scientific journal of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS). The study's authors are David G. Laing, PhD; Carolina Segovia, MSc; Therese Fark; Olga N. Laing; Anthony L. Jinks, PhD; Julia Nikolaus; and Thomas Hummel, MD. They are associated with the University of New South Wales, in Kensington, Australia.
About the AAO-HNS
The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (www.entnet.org), one of the oldest medical associations in the nation, represents nearly 12,000 physicians and allied health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. The Academy serves its members by facilitating the advancement of the science and art of medicine related to otolaryngology and by representing the specialty in governmental and socioeconomic issues. The organization's mission: "Working for the Best Ear, Nose, and Throat Care."
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…from today's New York Times:
Books of The Times
A Night Stalker in the Center of Manhattan, Spying on Owls and Moths
By MICHIKO KAKUTANI
Published: July 1, 2008
In her charming 1998 book, “Red-Tails in Love,” Marie Winn chronicled the story of Pale Male, a red-tailed hawk who made his home in the heart of New York City, romancing a series of mates over the years and siring nearly two dozen offspring from a nest high on the 12th-floor facade of a fancy Fifth Avenue apartment building — a story that would gain worldwide attention in 2004 when the residents of that Fifth Avenue co-op had the nest removed, provoking an outcry from bird lovers and even some hard-core, bird-agnostic New Yorkers.
CENTRAL PARK IN THE DARK
More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife
By Marie Winn.
304 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $25.
In “Red-Tails in Love” Ms. Winn also gave us some enchanting glimpses of Central Park as the place where the wild things are, and her new book, “Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife,” is very much a companion volume to that earlier account. In these pages she gives us a delightful chronicle of the animals that come out to hunt and play in the park at night, while providing, in her operatic account of the ups and downs of a group of screech owls, a gripping narrative that rivals that of Pale Male and his mates.
Ms. Winn, a former nature columnist for The Wall Street Journal, is not only highly knowledgeable about the park and its many inhabitants, but she is also able to communicate her passion for this patch of urban wilderness with grace, humor and élan. She gives us affectionate portraits of the other wildlife aficionados who share her willingness to brave rain, snow, cold and dark to observe the park’s nocturnal critters.
At the same time, she conveys the magic and enduring mysteries of Central Park, a place, as she noted in her earlier book, that was created “as an improvement on the wild” where “city dwellers could come and enjoy the illusion of wilderness without any of its inconveniences or dangers” but that through nature’s alchemy has begun to turn from facsimile into the real thing.
Here, in an oasis of green sandwiched between apartment buildings of steel and concrete, live raccoons, squirrels, woodchucks, frogs, butterflies, mice, rats, bats, catfish, bass, carp, Canada geese, mallards, woodpeckers, vultures, kestrels, hawks and owls: a free-range menagerie rivaling the captive collection at the Central Park Zoo. Here, former pets — goldfish, turtles and rabbits, abandoned by their owners — have made new lives for themselves. Here, some 275 bird species have garnered the park accolades as one of the nation’s top birding sites, right up there with Yosemite and the Everglades.
Here, on the north side of the Great Lawn, Ms. Winn tells us, is a tree where hundreds of robins, mainly males in need of a bachelor pad while their mates sit on their eggs at home, gather to spend the night. Here, on the East Drive, a little south of the Boathouse Restaurant, is what Ms. Winn and her friends call the Moth Tree, a tree that used to ooze sap that attracted an astonishing variety of moths. (More recently, she reports, the ailing tree recovered, stopped leaking sap and hence became less of a moth magnet.)
The one problem with “Central Park in the Dark” is that Ms. Winn rarely records the year something happened, only the day and month, arguing that “exact dates aren’t particularly significant in natural history,” an observation that, even if true, still makes for irritation on the part of the lay reader. A smaller quibble is that she has also elected not to provide any pictures of the many species of birds, animals and insects that she discusses in these pages, even though she points out that she took hundreds of photographs that “helped me get the details right.”
So what exactly did Ms. Winn and her fellow night stalkers find in Central Park in the dark? They found more than 100 species of moths. They observed the weirdly complex and (to some) exuberant spectacle of slug sex. They witnessed the last stage of cicada metamorphosis, by which the dull, brown nymph is transformed into a gauzy green creature of fairy-tale beauty. They experienced the “quasi-religious exhilaration” of seeing owls make their evening fly-outs to hunt for food. And they used bat detectors — devices that translate “ultrasonic bat songs into frequencies people can hear” — to look for bats in the Ramble and the North Woods.
Ms. Winn tells us that one winter more than 1,000 grackles and starlings crowded into 3 of the 10 trees surrounding the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel, suggesting that some atavistic memory caused the birds to pick a well-lighted, public place where nighttime predators might be less likely to attack. She tells us that a pheasant family with five chicks used to graze in the little meadow below the stairs to Belvedere Castle, where human fans worried that the birds were at risk from dogs let off their leashes at night. And she tells us that a great horned owl, a huge bird that reaches a height of 22 inches, once came to stay in Central Park for an unprecedented 40 days.
The most compelling story in this volume, however, is the saga of the little screech owls that were released as part of the parks department’s efforts to reintroduce 10 plant and 10 animal species into the city’s parks. Several were casualties of car collisions, an increasingly dire hazard given the birds’ flight patterns and increased auto traffic in the park. One seemed to have been eaten by the great horned owl. And another appeared to have been murdered by a different screech owl, which perhaps coveted its territory.
Ms. Winn’s accounts of the owls she and her friends came to know best — Little Red and her mate, known as the Riviera gray, and another pair known as Spiffy and Unmade — possess all the anthropomorphic charm of her telling of the ballad of Pale Male and his mates, and they leave the reader eager, upon finishing this book, to rush to Central Park in search of a glimpse of Harry Potter’s favorite birds.
“As I write these last words at the last possible moment before my book goes to press,” Ms. Winn says at the end, “the owl scene is hopping in Central Park. Three pairs of screech owls are nesting in various parts of the park — owl etiquette prevents me from telling you the exact location, I’m sorry to say, but someone will show you the way. Wear binoculars — that’s the key. And beware — owl-watching is addictive.”