The tiger griffon, also known as a bearded griffon or bonebreaker griffon, is a rare sight in mountainous, forested areas in Asia. It both scavenges and hunts prey and is most well known for having a diet very high in bone. Tiger griffons will frighten or herd their prey off of precipitous heights, or with smaller prey will pick it up and drop it, in either case breaking the bones to expose the marrow. Although many assume the orange feathers naturally match the orange fur, in fact the tiger griffon’s feathers are naturally white. The reddish-orange color comes from rolling in dust or mud, and seems to be actively kept up by the griffons as a point of pride. Despite the general popularity of the tiger griffon its population has shrunk in recent years, as its rather specific preferred ecosystem is steadily encroached upon.
This guy is based on a combination of the bearded vulture or lammergeier, a really cool bird, and of course the bengal tiger (also cool). I cheated a bit since, according to Wikipedia*, the two don’t quite have overlapping ranges, but they’re pretty close and I decided to go with it, mostly because I really wanted to.
*Please don’t mistake me for someone who actually knows anything about actual zoology.
I’ve decided to tell you guys a story about piracy.
I didn’t think I had much to add to the piracy commentary I made yesterday, but after seeing some of the replies to it, I decided it’s time for this story.
Here are a few things we should get clear before I go on:
1) This is a U.S. centered discussion. Not because I value my non U.S. readers any less, but because I am published with a U.S. publisher first, who then sells my rights elsewhere. This means that the fate of my books, good or bad, is largely decided on U.S. turf, through U.S. sales to readers and libraries.
2) This is not a conversation about whether or not artists deserve to get money for art, or whether or not you think I in particular, as a flawed human, deserve money. It is only about how piracy affects a book’s fate at the publishing house.
3) It is also not a conversation about book prices, or publishing costs, or what is a fair price for art, though it is worthwhile to remember that every copy of a blockbuster sold means that the publishing house can publish new and niche voices. Publishing can’t afford to publish the new and midlist voices without the James Pattersons selling well.
It is only about two statements that I saw go by:
1) piracy doesn’t hurt publishing.
2) someone who pirates the book was never going to buy it anyway, so it’s not a lost sale.
Now, with those statements in mind, here’s the story.
It’s the story of a novel called The Raven King, the fourth installment in a planned four book series. All three of its predecessors hit the bestseller list. Book three, however, faltered in strange ways. The print copies sold just as well as before, landing it on the list, but the e-copies dropped precipitously.
Now, series are a strange and dangerous thing in publishing. They’re usually games of diminishing returns, for logical reasons: folks buy the first book, like it, maybe buy the second, lose interest. The number of folks who try the first will always be more than the number of folks who make it to the third or fourth. Sometimes this change in numbers is so extreme that publishers cancel the rest of the series, which you may have experienced as a reader — beginning a series only to have the release date of the next book get pushed off and pushed off again before it merely dies quietly in a corner somewhere by the flies.
So I expected to see a sales drop in book three, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, but as my readers are historically evenly split across the formats, I expected it to see the cut balanced across both formats. This was absolutely not true. Where were all the e-readers going? Articles online had headlines like PEOPLE NO LONGER ENJOY READING EBOOKS IT SEEMS.
There was another new phenomenon with Blue Lily, Lily Blue, too — one that started before it was published. Like many novels, it was available to early reviewers and booksellers in advanced form (ARCs: advanced reader copies). Traditionally these have been cheaply printed paperback versions of the book. Recently, e-ARCs have become common, available on locked sites from publishers.
BLLB’s e-arc escaped the site, made it to the internet, and began circulating busily among fans long before the book had even hit shelves. Piracy is a thing authors have been told to live with, it’s not hurting you, it’s like the mites in your pillow, and so I didn’t think too hard about it until I got that royalty statement with BLLB’s e-sales cut in half.
Strange, I thought. Particularly as it seemed on the internet and at my booming real-life book tours that interest in the Raven Cycle in general was growing, not shrinking. Meanwhile, floating about in the forums and on Tumblr as a creator, it was not difficult to see fans sharing the pdfs of the books back and forth. For awhile, I paid for a service that went through piracy sites and took down illegal pdfs, but it was pointless. There were too many. And as long as even one was left up, that was all that was needed for sharing.
I asked my publisher to make sure there were no e-ARCs available of book four, the Raven King, explaining that I felt piracy was a real issue with this series in a way it hadn’t been for any of my others. They replied with the old adage that piracy didn’t really do anything, but yes, they’d make sure there was no e-ARCs if that made me happy.
Then they told me that they were cutting the print run of The Raven King to less than half of the print run for Blue Lily, Lily Blue. No hard feelings, understand, they told me, it’s just that the sales for Blue Lily didn’t justify printing any more copies. The series was in decline, they were so proud of me, it had 19 starred reviews from pro journals and was the most starred YA series ever written, but that just didn’t equal sales. They still loved me.
This, my friends, is a real world consequence.
This is also where people usually step in and say, but that’s not piracy’s fault. You just said series naturally declined, and you just were a victim of bad marketing or bad covers or readers just actually don’t like you that much.
Hold that thought.
I was intent on proving that piracy had affected the Raven Cycle, and so I began to work with one of my brothers on a plan. It was impossible to take down every illegal pdf; I’d already seen that. So we were going to do the opposite. We created a pdf of the Raven King. It was the same length as the real book, but it was just the first four chapters over and over again. At the end, my brother wrote a small note about the ways piracy hurt your favorite books. I knew we wouldn’t be able to hold the fort for long — real versions would slowly get passed around by hand through forum messaging — but I told my brother: I want to hold the fort for one week. Enough to prove that a point. Enough to show everyone that this is no longer 2004. This is the smart phone generation, and a pirated book sometimes is a lost sale.
Then, on midnight of my book release, my brother put it up everywhere on every pirate site. He uploaded dozens and dozens and dozens of these pdfs of The Raven King. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting one of his pdfs. We sailed those epub seas with our own flag shredding the sky.
The effects were instant. The forums and sites exploded with bewildered activity. Fans asked if anyone had managed to find a link to a legit pdf. Dozens of posts appeared saying that since they hadn’t been able to find a pdf, they’d been forced to hit up Amazon and buy the book.
And we sold out of the first printing in two days.
I was on tour for it, and the bookstores I went to didn’t have enough copies to sell to people coming, because online orders had emptied the warehouse. My publisher scrambled to print more, and then print more again. Print sales and e-sales became once more evenly matched.
Then the pdfs hit the forums and e-sales sagged and it was business as usual, but it didn’t matter: I’d proven the point. Piracy has consequences.
That’s the end of the story, but there’s an epilogue. I’m now writing three more books set in that world, books that I’m absolutely delighted to be able to write. They’re an absolute blast. My publisher bought this trilogy because the numbers on the previous series supported them buying more books in that world. But the numbers almost didn’t. Because even as I knew I had more readers than ever, on paper, the Raven Cycle was petering out.
The Ronan trilogy nearly didn’t exist because of piracy. And already I can see in the tags how Tumblr users are talking about how they intend to pirate book one of the new trilogy for any number of reasons, because I am terrible or because they would ‘rather die than pay for a book’. As an author, I can’t stop that. But pirating book one means that publishing cancels book two. This ain’t 2004 anymore. A pirated copy isn’t ‘good advertising’ or ‘great word of mouth’ or ‘not really a lost sale.’
“the babadook is gay” as a meme was funny because it had an actual precipitating event (being mistakenly placed in the LGBT section of Netflix). people extracted meaning from that (the babadook represents mental illness in LGBT teens) and… sure, whatever, do what you want with your time
but please for the love of holy god don’t blindly apply that meme to pennywise. pennywise is a child predator in a horror novel with explicit themes of homophobia and pedophilia. both of which are stigmas applied to LGBT people that we are STILL actively fighting
We’re using our unique vantage point in space to provide observations and data of Hurricane Irma and other tropical storms. Hurricanes Irma and Jose are seen here in a 12-hour long infrared loop. Scientists monitor storms in infrared to closely monitor clouds and storm intensity. We continue to provide satellite imagery for these storms, tracking its trajectory, force and precipitation to inform forecasters at the National Hurricane Center.
As these storms continue their westward drive in the coming days, they will be passing over waters that are warmer than 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit)—hot enough to sustain a category 5 storm. Warm oceans, along with low wind shear, are two key ingredients that fuel and sustain hurricanes.
Words: 6,320 (sorry its super long, I got carried away)
Warnings: Unedited, very mild makeout session (;
Paring: Tony Stark’s Daughter x Peter Parker
The Avengers compound was quieter than normal Saturday night. The television flickered in the corner as the men switched flipped back and forth between NFL games. Natasha and Wanda chatted amongst themselves ignoring the sporting event like it was their job. Shouting resulted to a bare minimum much to the surprise of the young teenager propped on the kitchen bar stool. Peter Parker had been apart of the Avengers for a little over three months and never in his time apart of the team had he witnessed them so lifeless. The Avengers slumped around like deflated balloons lacking interest in all activities.
A soft sigh fell from Peter’s soft lips while he pushed himself off the metal seat. His warm brown eyes fell to the watch fasten around his wrist. 10:06, Aunt May would expect him home by midnight but with the lack of activity, calling it a night didn’t seem like such a horrible option. Peter was use to hating the time that rolled around when he was forced to take the long haul back to his apartment. The train rides were sketchy, the walk in the cold was gruesome, and the local New York civilians had a tendency to be the most bitter people in the world. But out of all the things Peter hated about having to leaving the tower, Y/n was by far the most.
So I think my favorite war table example of Advisors Being Extra so far has to be the Mourning Halla operation where the Dalish are like “hey so since you found out some of the events precipitating the Exalted March on the Dales were part of a big Romeo and Juliet misunderstanding, we would like to gift this human village our ancestors attacked an Apology Deer but we’re worried they won’t accept it”
and your options are like
Cullen: March it into the village with troops, RED CROSSING WILL TAKE THIS APOLOGY DEER AND THEY’LL FUCKING LIKE IT
Leliana: I can convince them it’s actually a trophy of their victory over the Dalish, it will work JUST FINE as long as the humans never find out the truth and the Dalish never find out what we told them
and I’m like Andraste’s tits you two, Josie please tell me you have some sensible diplomatic solution like you know the mayor of Red Crossing so you can personally explain the situation to him or–
“I can twist the noble who controls red crossing into accepting this, but it will end two marriages and lead to at least one duel.”
With a fleet of spacecraft orbiting our home planet collecting data on everything from the air we breathe to natural disasters that impact our lives, Earth is always in focus. Join us as we celebrate our home with beautiful views from our unique vantage point of space.
On December 17, 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 snapped this iconic image of planet Earth. Dubbed the Blue Marble, this image was taken as Apollo 17 rocketed toward the moon.
On the way to the moon or from the surface of Mars, our spacecraft have photographed the beauty of Earth from many vantage points. In this image, the most powerful telescope orbiting Mars captured this view of Earth and its moon, showing continent-size detail on the planet and the relative size of the moon. The image combines two separate exposures taken on November 20, 2016, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on our Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
In this image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on our Cassini spacecraft captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame.
Our Suomi-NPP satellite also observed the Earth at night. Earth’s “night lights” often have a gee-whiz curiosity for the public , but have also served as a tool for fundamental research for nearly 25 years. They have provided a broad, beautiful picture, showing how humans have shaped the planet and lit up the darkness.
You can be mesmerized by the constant swirls in these visualizations of ocean currents. The swirling flows of tens of thousands of ocean currents were captured using the largest computations of their kind ever undertaken, using high-end computing resources at our Ames Research Center.
We’ve all seen iconic photographs of Earth shot by astronauts. But even satellites and robotic spacecraft often get in on the act. The above image, called “Pale Blue Dot,” was taken Voyager 1 in February 1990 from a distance of 4 billion miles.
Our satellites do more than take pretty pictures of Earth. They do everything from measure rainfall to observe weather patterns. The ten satellites in the Global Precipitation Measurement Constellation have provided unprecedented information about rain and snow fall across the entire Earth. This visualization shows the constellation in action, taking precipitation measurements underneath the satellite orbits.
In an homage to Apollo 17′s “Blue Marble” image, Suomi-NPP, a joint NASA-NOAA Earth-observing satellite, made this composite image, by making a number of swaths of Earth’s surface on January 4, 2012.
What’s your favorite aspect of planet Earth? These kids have their own ideas. You can even “adopt” parts of the planet. Which one of the 64,000 locations will you get?
Our home planet is constantly changing, which is why our fleet of Earth-observing satellites continuously monitor the globe, recording every moment of what they see. Luckily for us, many of the views are not only deeply informative but also awe-inspiring.
An aurora, sometimes referred to as a polar lights or northern lights, is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions. Auroras are produced when the magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the solar wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere / exosphere), where their energy is lost.
From Microscopic to Multicellular: Six Stories of Life that We See from Space
Life. It’s the one thing that, so far, makes Earth unique among the thousands of other planets we’ve discovered. Since the fall of 1997, NASA satellites have continuously and globally observed all plant life at the surface of the land and ocean. During the week of Nov. 13-17, we are sharing stories and videos about how this view of life from space is furthering knowledge of our home planet and the search for life on other worlds.
Earth is the only planet with life, as far as we know. From bacteria in the crevices of the deepest oceans to monkeys swinging between trees, Earth hosts life in all different sizes, shapes and colors. Scientists often study Earth from the ground, but some also look to our satellites to understand how life waxes and wanes on our planet.
Over the years, scientists have used this aerial view to study changes in animal habitats, track disease outbreaks, monitor forests and even help discover a new species. While this list is far from comprehensive, these visual stories of bacteria, plants, land animals, sea creatures and birds show what a view from space can reveal.
1. Monitoring the single-celled powerhouses of the sea
Known as the grass of the ocean, phytoplankton are one of the most abundant types of life in the ocean. Usually single-celled, these plant-like organisms are the base of the marine food chain. They are also responsible for the only long-term transfer of carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere to the ocean.
Even small changes in phytoplankton populations can affect carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, which could ultimately affect Earth’s global surface temperatures. Scientists have been observing global phytoplankton populations continuously since 1997 starting with the Sea-Viewing Wide Field-of View Sensor (SeaWiFS). They continue to study the small life-forms by satellite, ships and aircrafts.
2. Predicting cholera bacteria outbreaks
Found on the surface of zooplankton and in contaminated water, the bacteria that cause the infectious disease cholera — Vibrio cholerae — affect millions of people every year with severe diarrhea, sometimes leading to death. While our satellite sensors can’t detect the actual bacteria, scientists use various satellite data to look for the environmental conditions that the bacteria thrive in.
Specifically, microbiologist Rita Colwell at the University of Maryland, College Park, and West Virginia University hydrologist Antar Jutla studied data showing air and ocean temperature, salinity, precipitation, and chlorophyllconcentrations, the latter a marker for zooplankton. Anticipating where the bacteria will bloom helps researchers to mitigate outbreaks.
Recently, Colwell and Jutla have been able to estimate cholera risk after major events, such as severe storms, by looking at satellite precipitation data, air temperature, and population maps. The two maps above show the team’s predicted cholera risk in Haiti two weeks after Hurricane Matthew hit over October 1-2, 2016 and the actual reported cholera cases in October 2016.
3. Viewing life on land
From helping preserve forests for chimpanzees to predicting deer population patterns, scientists use our satellites to study wildlife across the world. Satellites can also see the impacts of perhaps the most relatable animal to us: humans. Every day, we impact our planet in many ways including driving cars, constructing buildings and farming – all of which we can see with satellites.
Our Black Marble image provides a unique view of human activity. Looking at trends in our lights at night, scientists can study how cities develop over time, how lighting and activity changes during certain seasons and holidays, and even aid emergency responders during power outages caused by natural disasters.
4. Tracking bird populations
Scientists use our satellite data to study birds in a variety of ways, from understanding their migratory patterns, to spotting potential nests, to tracking populations. In a rather creative application, scientists used satellite imagery to track Antarctica’s emperor penguin populations by looking for their guano – or excrement.
Counting emperor penguins from the ground perspective is challenging because they breed in some of the most remote and cold places in the world, and in colonies too large to easily count manually. With their black and white coats, emperor penguins are also difficult to count from an aerial view as they sometimes blend in with shadows on the ice. Instead, Phil Trathan and his colleagues at the British Antarctic Survey looked through Landsat imagery for brown stains on the sea ice. By looking for penguin droppings, Trathan said his team identified 54 emperor penguin colonies along the Antarctic coast.
5. Parsing out plant life
Just as we see plants grow and wilt on the ground, satellites observe the changes from space. Flourishing vegetation can indicate a lively ecosystem while changes in greenery can sometimes reveal natural disasters, droughts or even agricultural practices. While satellites can observe plant life in our backyards, scientists can also use them to provide a global picture.
Using data from satellites including SeaWiFS, and instruments including the NASA/NOAA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, scientists have the most complete view of global biology to date, covering all of the plant life on land and at the surface of the ocean.
They may look like rocks or plants on the seafloor, but corals are very much living animals. Receiving sustenance from photosynthetic plankton living within their calcium carbonate structures, coral reefs provide food and shelter for many kinds of marine life, protect shorelines from storms and waves, serve as a source for potential medicines, and operate as some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.
However, coral reefs are vulnerable to the warming of the ocean and human activity. Our satellites measure the surface temperature of ocean waters. These measurements have revealed rising water temperatures surrounding coral reef systems around the world, which causes a phenomenon known as “coral bleaching.” To add to the satellite data, scientists use measurements gathered by scuba divers as well as instruments flown on planes.
During the week of Nov. 13-17, check out our stories and videos about how this view of life from space is furthering knowledge of our home planet and the search for life on other worlds. Follow at www.nasa.gov/Earth.