Should you wear long johns? There's a map for that
Mapping your daily long john needs since 2011 (Canada only)
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
Long johns are popular in Canada, as in other cold countries. If you have to brave deep-freeze temperatures, you'll be glad you're wearing them. But when exactly do the benefits of long johns outweigh the trouble and discomfort of getting them on? Only Canada has a daily forecast on whether and where they should be worn.
Every weekday since 2011, an index rating and weather map has been produced by the 'Long John Index Service of Canada' – despite the official-sounding name, not an official government agency.
Nor is the Long John Index itself at all scientific. “It is used for entertainment and gambling purposes, and should not be confused with your preferred weather service”, the LJI website disclaims.
Yet there is method to the index, which runs on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being the lowest point (at the freezing point of 0°C/32°F). Basically, for every 10°C the temperature drops, the index goes up by one point. And the time spent outside without long johns decreases.
So what does the Long John Index for Canada look like? Each day, two LJIs are forecast for 38 Canadian cities, one for the morning, the other for the afternoon. On 31 January – no need get your long johns out in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, Penticton or St. John's. Perfect zero scores in all five cities.
On the other end of the scale: Yellowknife, Inuvik and Alert. All three places score 5/4. No need to take them off. Fort St. John, Whitehorse, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Portage La Prairie and Iqaluit are barely doing better (4/4). Compared to that, things sound pretty balmy in Kamloops, Toronto (both 1/0), Thunder Bay and Halifax (both 1/1).
The map helpfully adds that “everything above this line is frozen”, referring to the border that separates the Yukon and Northwest Territories from points south. Just to the east, Nunavut is “shut”. In the northernmost bit of Canada, it's currently so cold that “I think my breath just froze”. By comparison, temperatures are verging on the pleasant in British Columbia (“snow schmow”) and Newfoundland (“noop!”).
The prairie provinces are coping: Alberta is having a “winter dance party”, and Saskatchewan and Manitoba are finding it “cold, but less cold than cold”. If you're in Ontario, “you should probably wear a hat”, while your dogn in Québec “should wear those weird boot things”. What, don't dogs get to wear long johns?
Strange Maps #884
Got a strange map? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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