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SPECTACLE

[noun]

1. anything presented to the sight or view, especially something of a striking or impressive kind.

2. a public show or display, especially on a large scale.

3. spectacles: eyeglasses, especially with pieces passing over or around the ears for holding them in place.

4. often, spectacles: a) something resembling spectacles in shape or function. b) any of various devices suggesting spectacles, as one attached to a semaphore to display lights or different colours by coloured glass.

5. Obsolete: a spyglass.

[idiom]

6. make a spectacle of oneself:  to call attention to one’s unseemly behaviour; behave foolishly or badly in public.

Etymology: Middle English < Latin spectāculum - a sight, spectacle, derivative of spectāre, frequentative of specere  - to look, regard.

[John Pitre]

The US and the UK governments go around the world threatening people all the time. It’s their modus operandi. They imprison whistleblowers. They try to criminalize journalism. They threatened the Guardian with prior restraint and then forced the paper to physically smash their hard drives in a basement. They detained my partner under a terrorism law, repeatedly threatened to arrest him, and forced him to give them his passwords to all sorts of invasive personal information - behavior that even one of the authors of that terrorism law says is illegal, which the Committee for the Protection of Journalists said yesterday is just “the latest example in a disturbing record of official harassment of the Guardian over its coverage of the Snowden leaks”, and which Human Rights Watch says was “intended to intimidate Greenwald and other journalists who report on surveillance abuses.” And that’s just their recent behavior with regard to press freedoms: it’s to say nothing of all the invasions, bombings, renderings, torture and secrecy abuses for which that bullying, vengeful duo is responsible over the last decade.

But the minute anyone refuses to meekly submit to that, or stands up to it, hordes of authoritarians - led by state-loyal journalists - immediately start objecting: how dare you raise your voice to the empire? How dare you not politely curtsey to the Queen and thank the UK government for what they have done. The US and UK governments are apparently entitled to run around and try to bully and intimidate anyone, including journalists - “to send a message to recipients of Snowden’s materials, including the Guardian”, as Reuters put it - but nobody is allowed to send a message back to them. That’s not a double standard that anyone should accept.

Snakes Control Blood Flow to Aid Vision

A new study from the University of Waterloo shows that snakes can optimize their vision by controlling the blood flow in their eyes when they perceive a threat.

Kevin van Doorn, PhD, and Professor Jacob Sivak, from the Faculty of Science, discovered that the coachwhip snake’s visual blood flow patterns change depending on what’s in its environment. The findings appear in the most recent issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Instead of eyelids, snakes have a clear scale called a spectacle. It works like a window, covering and protecting their eyes. When presented with a threat, the fight-or-flight response changes the spectacle’s blood flow pattern, reducing blood flow for longer periods than at rest, up to several minutes. (Credit: Kevin van Doorn)

K. van Doorn, J. G. Sivak. Blood flow dynamics in the snake spectacle. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2013; 216 (22): 4190 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.093658

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