On October 1st, Curb Your Enthusiasm returned to the HBO airwaves after its indefinite hiatus started back in 2011. In celebration of the show’s triumphant return, Larry David, the program’s creator and protagonist, just released a Curb Your Enthusiasm playlist on Spotify that he hand-curated himself. The 27-song playlist contains a mix of tunes, including “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” by Frank Sinatra, “(What A) Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke, “The Godfather Waltz” by Nino Rota, “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin, “I Won’t Dance” by Fred Astaire, and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli.Fred Armisen Leads Larry David, Jason Sudeikis & SNL Cast On Made-Up Folk SongPredictably, Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm playlist opens with the show’s classic theme song “Frolic”, which was originally composed for the Italian film La Bellissima Estate in the 1970s by Luciano Michelini. David has previously talked about how “Frolic” became a part of the program, noting that he heard the song first when it was used in a bank commercial. Since then, it’s become a beloved part of Curb Your Enthusiasm, with David noting in 2009, “It just sort of introduces the idea that you’re in for something pretty idiotic.”You can listen to the new Curb Your Enthusiasm playlist curated by Larry David below.[H/T Consequence of Sound]
Researchers create natural insecticidal proteins to target resistant bugs Following the swarm Locust research leads to insights on human nutrition Debunking old hypotheses A plague of locusts has descended on East Africa, devouring crops, trees, and pasture as they move. The first generation, which emerged at the end of last year, numbered in the hundreds of billions. Left unchecked, locusts multiply by a factor of 20 per generation, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), meaning that the second generation that took flight in March and April numbered in the trillions. Now in July, a third generation is set to take off, paving the way for potentially calamitous food shortages in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Swarms can cover many square miles (sometimes areas as big as cities), move up to 100 miles a day, and eat their weight daily. Recently swarms have also emerged in India and Pakistan. Dino Martins is an entomologist, evolutionary biologist, and executive director of the Mpala Research Centre in northern Kenya, which is working to sequence the locust genome. Martins ’11 is a former doctoral researcher in the Naomi Pierce Lab in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. The Gazette spoke to him about the current situation in East Africa, focusing on his native Kenya, where he currently lives.Q&ADino MartinsGAZETTE: Are swarms like this a regular occurrence in the region?MARTINS: The locusts are a really interesting phenomenon. We haven’t seen swarms of desert locusts in this part of the world for a long period of time. In fact, the last big swarms that we know of were in Kenya about 70 years ago, so it has come as a surprise to many people. It’s extremely alarming because of the devastation they can bring if left unchecked, especially to agricultural production.The first swarm appeared in Kenya on Dec. 30 and then they very, very quickly spread through the country. The reason for that is the wind patterns were helping them. What’s happening now is the winds have turned again. The southeast monsoons are blowing from the Indian Ocean onto Kenya and so the winds are blowing from the south and they’re carrying the locust swarms. Even though locusts can move large distances, they make use of the wind. They can’t fly against it very well, so the locusts are moving with the wind from where they were in the more central parts of Kenya further north into the border regions, with Somalia, Ethiopia, and South Sudan. We expect that to continue for a few months, but they have laid eggs, and the eggs are hatching, and they are breeding, leading to what’s believed to be potential third generation of locusts.Right now, there are bands of hoppers or nymphs — these are locusts in their immature stages — that are being observed in parts of northern Kenya and because the conditions are good, and there are rains going into the Horn of Africa, they will breed in other areas. Now, the question is: Will they be able to breed up enough to form even larger swarms? They might do that, and they might not. Right now, the prediction is that they will continue breeding and continue potentially increase in number.That’s really worrying because large parts of Kenya have very lush, fertile agricultural areas. We have in Kenya this amazing geography of hot-dry areas and then these highlands, which is where most of the population lives and most of our food is produced. Not just for Kenya either. We export food to lots of other parts of the world. Most of the places the locusts have bred right now are not agricultural. They’re either pastoral or have just been natural, wild areas that don’t have a lot of activity other than grazing by livestock and whatnot. The real concern is if they move south when the wind changes again and the locusts do move in large numbers into much higher agriculturally productive areas.GAZETTE: What happens then?MARTINS: It could be devastating if the swarms move into those areas. We will see bigger swarms affecting food security and moving through the landscape.,Overall the impact, so far at least, in Kenya has been fairly modest for now, but that doesn’t mean locally it hasn’t been dramatic. Locusts can eat their own weight each day. Grasshoppers and locusts, that’s really what they do, is they sit around and they eat. They can be voracious feeders. As an example, imagine a swarm of a million locusts. Say the weight of these locusts amounts to five million grams, which is like five tons of locusts. If they’re eating their weight every day that’s five tons of vegetation a day.Luckily, there is so much vegetation built across most of these areas that they’ve been in, that the feeding on vegetation hasn’t been as harmful or as damaging as it could have been. But when they land on some of these farms then the impact is very big because, obviously, if you’re growing a crop and it gets eaten up, that’s a big deal. That’s a livelihood possibly ruined.GAZETTE: How big are these swarms?MARTINS: Swarms can vary a lot in size. They could be anywhere from the size of a football field to covering many, many square miles. It is really a remarkable phenomenon when you get to swarms of that size. Historically, one of the largest swarms ever recorded was in Kenya, which covered 10,000 square kilometers. People who were alive back then tell these amazing stories of the sky going dark. At the beginning of this a few months ago, we were seeing some big swarms that were covering a few square miles.GAZETTE: About how many locusts are in those swarms?MARTINS: Trillions. In fact, trillions may even be a conservative figure because there’s no real way of measuring them across some of these landscapes. The air is just filled with them. They land on all the vegetation. When you’re in a swarm, especially if it’s just as they’re getting moving, it’s actually quite an incredible experience. You see, they change color when they’re young — they’re more pinkish and then as they mature they become yellow — so when they are flying around you at that stage, you have all these pink and yellow wings whirring around and a slightly nutty smell of the locusts surrounding you and lots of birds feeding on them.,GAZETTE: It sounds like you’re speaking from experience?MARTINS: I saw them when they came through Mpala a couple of months ago, and I went out and looked at some of the other swarms that passed nearby because this has not happened for so long. From a biologist perspective, this has been an amazing experience to go and see the power of an insect. We normally think of insects as things that we can step on. In this case, these insects are so many that you can really see where their power comes from. We talk about insects running the world. That’s totally true when you see a swarm of locusts.GAZETTE: How do swarms get to this size? Tell us a bit about them.MARTINS: Locusts are a creature that have been around for a long time, and they’re very much associated with the deserts of Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Horn of Africa region. Most of the time, these locusts just hang out in these areas, and they live normal lives. Occasionally, the conditions align that allow them to undergo this remarkable transformation from a solitary, nondescript creature into this amazing swarm with totally different sorts of behaviors, abilities to move over large distances, feed in in large numbers, and breed in large numbers.Basically, what happens is when the breeding conditions improve, they start laying more and more eggs in the sand. They like wet, sandy soil. What happened over the last few months leading up to the first swarms in December and at the beginning of this year was that we had an extraordinary amount of rainfall. Even in what was supposed to be our dry season, we were getting a lot of rain. So, all of these dry, arid areas, desert areas, and semi-desert areas were switched from totally dusty to being full of vegetation and grass so the locusts had a lot of places to lay eggs.Those eggs hatch and as the numbers increase, the density of them together, and the physical contact of them all together triggers an epigenetic switch that actually changes them from solitary animals to this gregarious creature. There’re all sorts of other cues that are involved, as well, but now the numbers start building up. Let’s say, for instance, you have 2,000 locusts. One thousand are males and 1,000 are females. If 1,000 females lay eggs and each female lays 100 eggs then that continues, then very quickly you end up with millions and billions and trillions.GAZETTE: What have been some of the responses to control these swarms?MARTINS: There are really only two forms of control. One is aerial spraying using planes or helicopters, but it’s very challenging logistically. These areas are huge, and the locusts could be breeding in places that people haven’t noticed because they aren’t as inhabited. The locusts are also moving into South Sudan and other parts of the Horn of Africa, which are politically unstable, so it’s very hard to go in there and do any control measures or even monitor. Another other option is to spray the hoppers. They can’t fly yet and they get sprayed either by hand or from vehicles or some other form. But as the number goes up, the more unfeasible it is. “We normally think of insects as things that we can step on. In this case, these insects are so many that you can really see where their power comes from.” New weapons against agricultural pests There’s also the natural response. My sense is that there are also a lot of natural things that are catching up with the locusts, whether that be predators, parasites, and things like that. It’s not like they just have a free-for-all; they do get eaten by birds and many other creatures as well. When they came through Mpala, for instance, I saw migrating European storks — the white storks — feeding on the locusts as they came through. That’d been one of the reasons I’ve been saying let’s spray more sensibly. If we do it badly, we could end up killing all this other biodiversity.GAZETTE: Tell us a bit about your own work with locusts?MARTINS: We’re working with a team of scientists from the Smithsonian, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and many others to see if we can sequence the locust genome. It’s never been fully sequenced. One remarkable thing about the locusts is they appear to have a very large genome. It’s more than double the size of the human genome, which is pretty amazing for an insect. There are many different aspects of locusts the genome could help us understand. We could get a better understanding of some of the physiology and biology. For example, it could help us understand the switch that occurs in them from being solitary to gregarious. There’s lots and lots of questions like that.My real interest in looking at the locusts is how are they part of the wider ecology and landscape and that question of how we respond to them. Right now, we use pesticides and chemicals to respond, as I said. We have to do that because there aren’t many other options, but I do have concerns about the chemicals being used. We want to come up with better ways of containing them using a bio-pesticide of pheromones or other substances, which has been very successful in a number of insect pests. That would all be informed by having a good genome available.GAZETTE: Has the pandemic hampered the response?MARTINS: It really is a double-edged, in fact, a triple-edged sword right now for many communities that don’t have a lot of resources, governments that are very stressed, and with the lack of ability to move around. The locusts control groups have been given some exemptions, so they are continuing with their responses despite the restrictions on movement. The government is aware that needs to continue.GAZETTE: Is there any long-term solution for these swarms?MARTINS: I see the locust swarms as a message from nature. As terrifying and as dramatic as they are, there is a deeper message, and the message is that we are changing the environment. There’s no question about this, whether it’s through local environmental degradation, overgrazing, deforestation, or the expansion of deserts. You see, deserts are growing, and degraded land is growing across Africa. It’s huge for many different reasons, but the reasons I listed can combine to create ideal conditions for more and more locusts to breed. Climate change is a big factor because weather patterns change can bring much more rain, for instance. And who gets to win at that game? Well, the locusts. If we don’t address the deeper bigger issues, we are going to face even bigger problems.This interview was edited for clarity and length. Related Creation of big data tool leads to new ideas on form and function of insect eggs
This month we’re handing the reins of our Instagram account over to J Smilanic, a Colorado native living in Asheville, North Carolina. J prefers to spend his time hiking and exploring any mountains but particularly those near his home base in Western North Carolina.“I was born and raised in Palmer Lake, Colorado,” J says, “but I really love it here in Asheville. Mostly it’s the people, followed closely by the mountains, food, beer and the weather.”One look at J’s Instagram reveals a plethora of top notch landscape photography from Western North Carolina and few images from out West.He says his favorite area to explore close to home is the Roan Highlands but hopes to spend some time shooting in the Pacific Northwest as soon as possible. “I feel very drawn to the temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest,” he said. “I have not visited but I would gladly spend the rest of my life exploring out there.”Sunset over Lake Jocassee in upstate SC, as seen from Jump Off Rock.Stay tuned to the Blue Ridge Outdoors Instagram account this week as we share more of J’s stunning photos!
4.Back to the Jets. Darrelle Revis, who now calls New England home, was perhaps the best defensive player in the league during his time with the Jets as the sole proprietor of “Revis Island” until he tore his ACL. But the well-compensated All-Pro cornerback and the organization always seemed to be in a contract dispute. After six years with Gang Green, Revis was traded to Tampa Bay, where he spent one season before joining the Patriots and getting his wish to play in the ultimate NFL game. Just another reason for Jets fans to scrap Super Bowl plans and hide under a blanket with a bottle of scotch.5.Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington is the last member of Hofstra’s now-defunct college football program to make the NFL. Arrington went un-drafted in 2009 but was later picked up by the Patriots. The Maryland native often bemoans not having a college team to boast about when his fellow teammates celebrate their respective alma maters’ accomplishments.Long Islanders may not have a team—or a Long Islander—to root for, but Arrington’s story of hard work and determination despite the odds is one that we can all appreciate—even if he is a Patriot. View image | gettyimages.com 6.There may not be a more interesting character in the NFL than Marshawn Lynch, he of the media allergy. Lynch is an old-school running back who seems to get stronger with each and every hit. He may be the hardest back to take down in the game today, and is embarking on a Hall of Fame career.But it’s hard for fans outside Seattle to appreciate him because he refuses to speak with the media. And when he does, he offers pre-determined, one-line responses, like he did at Media Day. Here’s to hoping the Seahawks win so that poor on-field reporter can shove a microphone right in Lynch’s face after a Seattle victory. Word! View image | gettyimages.com 3.The biggest scandal this country has probably seen since Watergate has dominated the headlines the last week, and that’s the discovery that the Patriots played the first half of the AFC Championship Game against the hapless Indianapolis Colts with 11 of 12 balls that were deflated—a headline writer’s dream (just ask the New York Daily News). Apparently, deflated balls are easier to throw in crummy weather conditions just like those in Foxborough on Jan. 18. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is nonetheless against the rules to leak air out of the balls, which are inspected by referees before the game. So, if the Patriots are found to have intentionally deflated footballs, then it’s only fair to label them cheaters. Again.Football air pressure should have no bearing on the Super Bowl, since the NFL provides all of the pigskins for the big game. Whatever the NFL’s investigation uncovers, at least we got to hear Tom Brady talk in great length about how he likes to handle his balls. Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York [dropcap]T[/dropcap]om Brady’s preference of footballs, the New England Patriots’ oft-criticized coach (who happened to spend one day as coach of the NY Jets), a Seattle Seahawks running back who’s allergic to the media, another ex-Jets coach at the helm of a Super Bowl squad and the last Hofstra University player to make the NFL are just some of the headlines we’ll be interested in come kickoff Sunday.New York may not have a dog in this fight, but there are story lines aplenty worth following this Super Bowl, especially if you’re a Jets fans.1.Let’s start with those tortured Gang Green fans, a devoted group that hasn’t seen their favorite team raise the Lombardi Trophy in 46 years. The Giants have won four since then and the hated Patriots could equal that mark with a win over the Seahawks. And, if the Pats do halt Seattle’s quest for a repeat, they’ll do so with one of the Jets’ all-time great players on their roster: Darrelle Revis.Not only are Jets fans still reeling from a disastrous 4-12 season that prompted the firing of coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik, but they may also have to witness another Pats Super Bowl victory celebration, replete with Bill Belichick—and his hoodie—soaked in Gatorade and confetti and whatever magic potion he conjures up to put his New England team in contention year after year. View image | gettyimages.com Belichick famously resigned as Jets head coach on the very day the organization was about to announce his hiring. Even more shocking was the way he quit, penning a note on a napkin with the words that he had resigned “as HC of NYJ.” By comparison, he’s spent 15 years with the Patriots, winning three Super Bowls and advancing to the title game six times, racking up 174 regular season wins along the way. During that same period, the Jets have had only eight winning seasons and zero Super Bowl appearances, despite blistery proclamations from the team’s former blowhard coach.Here’s a taste of what Belichick’s introductory press conference-turned-resignation statement sounded like:2.Then there’s Pete Carroll, who was fired after just one season with the Jets, in which the team went 6-10. Carroll is seeking back-to-back Super Bowl titles, a feat not accomplished since the Patriots won consecutive titles in 2003 and 2004. Carroll was a successful college coach before the Seahawks offered him a chance to rewrite his NFL career.Win or lose, Carroll has cemented his place alongside Belichick atop the hierarchy of great NFL coaches. What else do Sunday’s coaching rivals share? Remarkable success since leaving the Jets.
The directors,most of them first-time filmmakers, created the flicks based on the mappedheritage and cultural properties of Sagay. Entries to theSine Margaha will be judged by Sagaynon artist Ronnie Lazaro, Cebuana actor andsinger Chai Fonacier, film critic Tito Valiente, filmmaker MassahGonzales-Gamboa, and Sine Negrense Festival director Adrian Torres. “We encouragehomegrown writers and directors to create a film depicting the Sagaynonheritage, culture, and lifestyle,” Mayor Alfredo Marañon III said on Friday. The City ofSagay has partnered with the Film Development Council of the Philippines underthe Office of the President to organize the event. The filmsinclude “Ang Inangtan” directed by Junmarl Alconga; “Bucket List,” by Syrha P.Soniega; “Damgo Ni Meme,” by Jeyannah Mae Ceferiano; “Gugmang Kinaadman,” byJessa M. Arnado; “Paabot,” by Trini Archie Garcia; “Palapak,” by Marc AllanPaglinawan; “Paon,” by Seb Valdez; “Pinta” by Maureen D. Martin; “Sorhuano,” byDarren Joy Giganan; and “Tukar,” by Rayne Barong. Behind the scenes of the film ‘Bucket List’ directed by Syra Soniega. It is one of the 10 entries in the first-ever Margaha Film Festival in Sagay City, Negros Occidental slated to open on Feb. 17. SAGAY CITY INFORMATION AND TOURISM OFFICE The three-dayfestival will feature 10 films, which were all written and directed bySagaynons. Other partnersinclude artist group Syano Artlink, Office of 2nd District Rep. Leo RafaelCueva, BG Connexxion and Moving Bridges Foundation, Northern Negros StateCollege of Science and Technology, Department of Education Division of Sagay,and Kayab Films. During theclosing ceremony on Feb. 19, a total of 20 special awards will be given.Winners of the first, second, and third best pictures will receive cash prizesworth PHP10,000, PHP8,000, and PHP5,000, respectively, while finalists will getPHP3,000 each.(With a report from PNA/PN) The MargahaFilm Festival or Sine Margaha is the first-of-its-kind in the province is slatedto open on Feb. 17. It is set along the kilometer-long shoreline of Margaha(black sand) beach of Sagay, where the home of the famed visual artistNunelucio Alvarado is also situated. They received smallseed funds from the city government to start their production last month. Theparticipating teams also attended a workshop on cinematography, acting anddirecting last December. Marañon notedthat Margaha Film Festival is an event that inspires collaboration, ingenuity,and artistry of the Negrenses. BACOLOD City –The City of Sagay is poised to become the filmmaking hub of Negros Occidentalas it showcases the North’s picturesque seascape with rich local arts andculture in the first-ever Margaha Film Festival. “After thefestival, the city government will form an organization of filmmakers in Sagayto continually hone their skills,” he added.