Monthly Archives: January 2016


The Guardian: Bears get a handle on opening car doors – but could it be their downfall?

“‘Food-conditioning’ and other adaptive behaviors have become common among bear populations – and could lead them into dangerous contact with humans.”

When André and I went to Yosemite in 1999, we were warned not to leave food (or toothpaste etc.) in the car because bears were able to open car doors and saw in a video that the bears would grab the top of the door and fold the window part down and out to get inside. We’ve since learned that this trick was more or less exclusive to bears in that area, and in other National Parks were were advised to lock food in the car overnight because bears couldn’t get it there – they couldn’t open car doors.

Before I read the article I thought that other bears now had caught up and were folding down car doors, but this bear uses the door handle of an unlocked car! The article also states that bear damages to cars has declined in Yosemite during the last 15 years – not because bears have stopped going into cars, but because they have learnt to use the door handle instead.

Link via Garret.

Refugees in Germany

Spiegel online International: The Isolated Chancellor: What Is Driving Angela Merkel? By Markus Feldenkirchen and René Pfister.

“Chancellor Angela Merkel spent a decade amassing political capital. Now, with the refugee crisis showing no signs of abating, she has decided to spend it. With her legacy in the balance, she has finally found an issue to fight for. But why now?”

Discussion about this article on MetaFilter: “And when you let them in, you don’t grimace”.

Science of Gun Violence

Inquiring Minds Podcast: The Science of Gun Violence.

I listened to this podcast episode today (it aired on October 16,2015) and found it had much food for thought. They interviewed Brad J. Bushman, who is a professor of communication and psychology and has studied the causes, consequences, and solutions to the problem of human aggression and violence. He also is a member of President Obama’s committee on gun violence.

Unfortunately I didn’t find a transcript of the podcast, but you can take a quick look at Bushman’s research results in this set of presentation slides: Understanding Potential Linkages of Gun Violence to Media Violence.

Another Favorite Bird

Either spring is near, and the stork I saw today was among the first to migrate back, or it was one of the rare ones that doesn’t migrate and spends the winter here.

In any case, I saw it on my daily walk, and it flew towards our village and seemed to circle above it for a bit before I lost sight of it.

It didn’t look quite as impressive as this photo, but it was almost overhead.

Carlos Delgado White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) in Madrid, Spain.

In flight. White storks fly with their necks outstretched. (By Carlos Delgado, scaled down, CC BY-SA 3.0)