Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Great Hunter

The Great Hunter If you love cats you will love this




Beware the Hunter........ 

  This must have been pure joy for the photographer!   
















Posted at 06:45 PM | Permalink

The surreal treehoppers

Last week’s Nature highlighted the sculptures of Alfred Keller (1902-1955), and the example, a model of the Brazilian treehopper Bocydium globulare, struck me as one of the weirdest animals I’ve ever seen:

Martin Kemp describes Keller’s work:

Keller was trained as a kunstschmied, an ‘art blacksmith’. From 1930 until his early death he was employed by the Berlin Museum für Naturkunde (Museum of Natural History), painstakingly labouring over his recreations of insects and their larvae. Each took a year to complete. Keller worked first in plasticine, from which he cast a model in plaster. This plaster reference model he then recast in papier maché. Some details he added, cast in wax, with wings and bristles in celluloid and galalith (an early plastic material used in jewellery). Finally he coloured the surfaces, sometimes with additional gilding. The levels of patience and manual control Keller exercised were incredible. His fly, for example, boasts 2,653 bristles.

. . . Keller was a sculptor of monumental one-off portraits. Each model is a masterpiece, with no effort spared. It is difficult to see how such a skilled artisan could survive in today’s museums, with their emphasis on cost analysis. Keller’s exacting models may be things of the past, yet they are far from obsolete. Like the great habitat dioramas, they exercise a magnetic attraction.

The first thing a biologist does on seeing a model like this is think, “This can’t be real,” and resorts to some Googling. Sure enough, it’s a real insect.  Here are two photos:

The second thing one asks is, “What the bloody hell is all that ornamentation on the thorax?” (Note that the “balls” on the antenna-like structure aren’t eyes, but simply spheres of chitin.)  A first guess is that it’s a sexually-selected trait, but those are often limited to males, and these creatures (and the ones below) show the ornaments in both sexes.  Kemp hypothesizes—and this seems quite reasonable—that “the hollow globes, like the remarkable excrescences exhibited by other treehoppers, probably deter predators.”  It would be hard to grab, much less chow down on, a beast with all those spines and excrescences.

Note, though, that the ornament sports many bristles.  If these are sensory bristles, and not just deterrents to predation or irritating spines, then the ornament may have an unknown tactile function.

Membracids, related to cicadas, are in the class Insecta (insects, of course), the order Hemiptera (“true bugs”) and the family Membracidae.  Like aphids, which are also “true bugs,” adult and immature treehoppers feed on plant sap.

For a wonderful panoply of membracid photos, download this pdf file.Here are some of the images, showing that, as Kipling said, “The wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Khatmandu.” If Dali invented insects, they’d look like these.

The color and shape of this last one makes me suspect that it’s mimicking a wasp:

h/t: Matthew Cobb

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted at 05:53 AM | Permalink

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tomorrow's collectibles

Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
Base price: $62,165
Mileage: 14 City / 19 Hwy

Honda CR-Z
Honda CR-Z

Base price: $19,200 - $20,760
Mileage: 31 City / 37 Hwy
Base price: $50,150
Mileage: 18 City / 26 Hwy
Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible
Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible
Base price: $36,650 - $39,650
Mileage: 16 City / 24 Hwy


Fiat 500

Fiat 500

Base price: $15,500


2011 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

2011 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Base price: $85,512
Ford Mustang Boss 302R
Ford Mustang Boss 302R
Base price: $79,000

2011 Infiniti IPL G37
2011 Infiniti IPL G37
Base price: $47,950 - $49,850
Mileage: 17 city / 25 hwy

Mini Cooper S Countryman All4
Mini Cooper S Countryman All4

Base price: $27,650
Mileage: 25 city / 31 hwy

Porsche Boxster Spyder
Porsche Boxster Spyder
Base price: $61,200
Mileage: 19 City / 27 Hwy

Posted at 11:10 AM | Permalink

Miss TSA 2011 Pinup Calendar

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Have you seen him ?

Posted at 07:11 PM | Permalink

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day, from the angriest, most savage toddler in the world

Posted at 05:47 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Politics in America


Posted at 11:46 AM | Permalink

Vintage Seed Packs

Salon Hack Thirty

Salon has a terrific takedown of some of the worst right wing hacks polluting the airwaves:

We're listing the worst columnists and cable news commentators America has to offer. Think of this as our all-star team -- of the most predictable, dishonest and just plain stupid pundits in the media.

Here is a typical example:

George Will is a sanctimonious moralist, a pretentious hypocrite, a congenital liar and a boring pundit, to boot. In these days of red-faced screaming weirdos like Glenn Beck and obvious dolts like Sean Hannity, Will can seem like a harmless throwback to a calmer era in political discourse, but don't let his demeanor fool you: The guy's as utterly amoral as the loudest talk radio shouter, and he's a living example of the truth that there's never any punishment for bad behavior in punditland.

Ever since he stole Jimmy Carter's briefing book, used it to coach Ronald Reagan before a debate, and then appeared on ABC to pronounce Reagan the winner of the debate, Will's been a consummate hack.

Salon Hack 30

Posted at 06:52 AM | Permalink

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another confirmation of a major stock market top continuing the "irrational complacency" bust

For those who believe (hope) the advance/decline line paints a less bearish picture as has been

reported by some investment newsletters and advisors, note that the following indicator, which

even includes the bullish distortion of some 2,000 non-common stock issues traded on the NYSE

(since they are portfolio combinations of already counted common stocks and bond funds) and

incorporates both the number of traded issues and their share trading volume (in the lower two

chart panels above), shows strong negative, or bearish, divergence with the NYSE Composite,

(it’s not readily available for the S&P 500).  See the parallel down-sloping red dashed lines. 

The indicator is essentially a ratio of three ratios, where the numerator ratio is a 10-day moving

average of NYSE down volume divided by a 10-day moving average of up volume.  The first

denominator ratio is 10-day moving average of advancing stocks divided by declining stocks. 

The second denominator ratio is a 10-day moving average of advancing share volume divided

by a 10-day moving average of declining share volume.  The ratio of the two denominators are

also known as the TRIN or ARMS index.

Notice the huge negative divergence (upper versus lower red dashed lines) between the

S&P 500 (SPX) and one of the most important stock market timing indicators, which is an

effective timing indicator over several time horizons: advancing-decline share volume. 

The SPX is an excellent proxy for more than 5,000 exchange-traded common stocks). 

This negative divergence has now confirmed the recently failed double top “breakout” above

SPX 1220 (Apr 26) to 1227 (Nov 5), widely heralded by unsophisticated investors, but over

whelmingly-challenged by corporate insiders’ net selling to the extent of making an all-time

record stock market sell signal, especially in the market-leading technology sector! 

Advancing-declining volume also completes a near-perfect, and virtually unnoticed, H&S

pattern formed over the past 13 months whose downside-volatility target, using our Growth

Cycle Trend Projector (described at the bottom), is a return to the previous low at SPX 667.

If dollar volume rather than share volume is considered, the results are even more bearishly

divergent because the share volume of low-priced stocks, such as extremely actively traded

Citigroup (at only about $4), creates bullish distortions.

                             Growth Cycle Trend Projector

Our GCTP is a set of algorithms taking advantage of we call the statistical science of small,

including extremely small, dataset inference.  We have developed it is an extremely important

subset of the well-known statistical science of large numbers to reconcile, or project the most

likely outcome of, all possible technical price patterns and for logical decision-making with

very limited data, particularly with only one through five data points

The logic tests used in the development of the GCTP’s set of algorithms include: consistency

with classical technical price chart analysis, including many improvements thereof; devolution

of our idealized Growth Cycle, which corrects for what we call the Fibonacci Approximation

of Elliott Wave Theory; combinatorial mathematics and singularity calculus; and even the

Efficient Market Hypothesis, especially the semi-weak case thereof.

                                        GCTP Allows Trend Anticipation

One of the great advantages of our GCTP is that – before the next turning point - it suggests

whether the next trend (n the opposite direction) will be bigger or smaller than the current one. 

That is, even before the current trend, or swing, is finished, you can continuously query GCTP

to see if it indicates the next retracement move will more likely be only partial or more, perhaps

much than 100% of the magnitude of the current trend, in addition to consequently providing

a rough gauge of its likely duration.

                     Partial Positioning in Rebalancing and Reallocations

We use this advance projection aspect of GCTP in combination with our forecasting models

to assess the importance of the end of the current trend and start of the follow-on countertrend

– over all time horizons ranging from hours and days to decades and Supercycle Periods. 

Such assessments allow us to determine both the optimal number of partial positions, and

the timing of each one –scaling in and out - in periodic rebalancing for realizing (taking) profits,

as well as in establishing and closing out of the individual investments in portfolio (re)allocations.

GCTP will soon be available on an individual-use basis.

Posted at 02:24 PM | Permalink