Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The Diet of Gastornis - Popular TV vs. Peer-Reviewed Literature

The Diet of Gastornis

Popular TV vs. Peer-Reviewed Literature

My introduction to the large flightless bird known as Gastornis occurs in the 2001 BBC documentary Walking with Beasts, a 6-part miniseries that looks at "snapshots" of life, and especially mammal life, during the Cenozoic era (the geological era that begins following the extinction of the dinosaurs). The first episode takes place in the warmer years of the early Eocene epoch, some 49 million years ago.

Walking with Beasts characterised Gastornis as a predator, not unlike the "terror birds" that would later dominate South America. Walking with Beasts represented this belief by featuring a Gastornis chasing several mammals belonging to a progenitor species of modern horses. Video of one of the chase sequences (this one ending in success for Gastornis) below the fold:

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Strange Case of Ashley Madison in Ottawa

The Strange Case of Ashley Madison in Ottawa

Recently, the big news in Ottawa surrounds information pertaining to the website Ashley Madison, a website that facilitates sexual encounters and romantic relationships.

The key distinction between Ashley Madison and other dating/"hook-up" websites is that it is explicitly aimed at people within marriages (or, presumably, other committed relationships) who are seeking to have affairs. If you are looking for some action on the side, Ashley Madison is here to help you.

While the information in question may have been available publicly in the past, it has been thrust into the public eye again following revelations that Ashley Madison was subject to a massive hack, and the hacker (apparently someone with inside access to the site) purloined credit card information for many millions of the site's subscribers.

But the hacking alone is not what's making headlines in Ottawa. Rather, it's the information about Ottawa that has come to the fore.

Ottawa, it seems, is a city full of aspiring adulterers.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

A Quick Peek Under the Covers: These Fragile Bodies

A Quick Peek Under the Covers

Episode 2

These Fragile Bodies

Welcome to another episode of "A Quick Peek Under the Covers", in which we look at cover versions of songs which are as good as or better than their originals. This time out, we are going to look at the song "Lovers in a Dangerous Time", by Bruce Cockburn (pronounced "CO-burn"), and the cover of the song by Barenaked Ladies.

(Image credit True North, MetalGuruMessiah)

Lovers in a Dangerous Time

"Lovers in a Dangerous Time" is a song by Bruce Cockburn, who was born in Ottawa, Canada. The song was recorded in 1984 for Cockburn's album Stealing Fire.

Cockburn reports being inspired to write the song while thinking of the stirrings of romantic feelings in young teenagers, in the face of the potential threats of the day (in 1984, this would include the early stages of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the Cold War).

The song has not been covered often. Indeed, it appears that Barenaked Ladies' version is only the second cover version of the song. Barenaked Ladies recorded their cover of the song for a 1991 Bruce Cockburn tribute album, Kick at the Darkness. The cover, apparently playing a key role in their own rise to prominence, would appear on their first greatest hits album.

New Material!

New Material!

After an overlong hiatus, I'm pleased to say that I've got new material up here at Idiomatic Composition.

With any luck, I'm here to stay.

I feel like perhaps this is appropriate:

Jurassic World Sucked - Here's Why

Jurassic World Sucked.

(Here's Why)

I recently had occasion to Jurassic World, the first new movie in over a decade in the Jurassic Park film franchise, and one that in many ways serves as an homage to the original.

While it was overall an entertaining experience, in many ways the movie, well, sucked. In thist post, I'll explain why.

Because the movie is still relatively new, I should note that this post therefore has a

Spoiler Alert!!

The rest of my explanation, in which I cover why the film sucked, and those things it did well all the same, is below the fold.

(A Note on the "She-ness" of Dinosaurs: So far as I recall, the dinosaurs in Jurassic World, like those of Jurassic Park, were deliberately all engineered to be female. (One hopes that Dr Wu and his team were able to correct the erroneous DNA patching that allowed breeding among the dinosaurs in the first film.) As such, whenever I refer to a dinosaur (or flying/swimming reptile) individually, I shall use female pronouns.)