Is #Ivory Worth The #Extinction Of A Species? #Elephants


(Photo “Elephant Tries To Awaken Its Dead…” From

“Ivory is one of the endangered species products most commonly seized from tourists. In the last 30 years, African elephant populations in the wild have decreased from an estimated 1.2 million to only an estimated 500,00.” –

(The following excerpt from Yao Ming Says No To Ivory And Rhino Horn originally appeared on on April 13, 2013. To view it in its entirety and sign the Wildaid Pledge against poaching, please click on the link below.)

Yao Ming Says No to Ivory and Rhino Horn

Former NBA star and Chinese icon, Yao Ming, launched a major public awareness campaign targeting consumption of ivory and rhino horn in China in partnership with WildAid, Save the Elephants, African Wildlife Foundation, and the Yao Ming Foundation.

In August 2012, Yao spent 12 days on a fact-finding mission in Kenya and South Africa filming a documentary to be aired in partnership with NHNZ later this year. Yao met wild elephants before encountering the bodies of five poached elephants in Kenya and a poached rhino in South Africa. He also visited local school children, whose education is funded through wildlife tourism revenue, and conservationists and government officials working to protect elephants and rhinos. Footage and stills from his trip were released together with a series of public service announcements informing consumers, “When the buying stops, the killing can too.” WildAid thanks Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Virgin Atlantic for their support of Yao’s Africa trip.

Poaching for ivory kills more than 25,000 elephants annually and has reached levels only seen before the 1989 international trade ban. In 2012, 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone. These are precipitous increases from just a few years ago and, if not stemmed, could lead to the extinction of African rhinos and elephants in our lifetime.

A survey conducted in November of 2012 in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou by the Chinese research company, HorizonKey, found that:

  •  More than half of the nearly 1,000 participants (over 50%) do not think elephant poaching is common;
  • 34%, or one in three respondents, believe ivory is obtained from natural elephant mortality;
  • Only 33% of all participants believe elephants are poached for their tusks; and
  • 94% of residents agree the “Chinese government should impose a ban on the ivory trade

Although the international trade in ivory is banned, a one-off sale in 2008 perpetuated a legal market for ivory in China and Japan. Reports show widespread abuse of the system to launder illegal ivory in China, and seizure and intelligence reports indicate China is the world’s largest market for ivory.

Meanwhile, a similar survey conducted by HorzionKey in the same three major Chinese cities on rhino horn perceptions found that:

  • 66% of all participants, that is two out of every three respondents, are not aware that rhino horn comes from poached rhinos;
  • Nearly 50% believed rhino horn can be legally purchased from official stores; and
  • 95% of residents agree the “Chinese government should take stricter action to prevent use of rhino horns.”

WildAid’s Executive Director, Peter Knights, stated, “Elephants and rhinos are conservation flagships, national icons, goodwill ambassadors, and generate hundreds of millions of tourist dollars for African economies funding education and development; they are the pandas of Africa. We have seen illegal markets collapse in the face of strong clear laws, enforcement efforts, and consumer awareness campaigns in the past. By strongly implementing these proven measures, China could become a world leader in wildlife conservation and help save elephants and rhinos.”

Yao’s previous WildAid campaign with shark fin, backed extensively by Chinese media, is credited with a reduction of 50 – 70% in consumption of shark fin in China in 2012 according to shark fin traders, media, and Hong Kong import statistics. Yao’s campaign contributed to a Chinese government decision to remove shark fin soup from all state banquets over the next three years

Yao stated, ”Poaching threatens livelihoods, education, and development in parts of Africa due to the insecurity it brings and loss of tourism revenue. No one who sees the results firsthand, as I did, would buy ivory or rhino horn. I believe when people in China know what’s happening they will do the right thing and say no to these products.”


The Sweet Smell Of #Failure


“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

We live in a competitive society that has big winners and big losers. Educators, motivation experts, life coaches, sport psychologists and other mentors mainly teach us how to approach success, how to be winners. Few teach us a much more valuable lesson – how to cope with failure.

The Benefits of Failure

People who fail repeatedly develop persistence in the face of difficulties. President Harry Truman was perceived as a flop during his own life but stuck to his guns when it really mattered, such as firing the popular, but insubordinate, General MacArthur. Thomas Edison is remembered for the incandescent light bulb among many other key inventions in the Age of Electricity. He is said to have failed with a thousand different filaments before hitting on a material that worked.

With success, people keep on doing the same thing. When they fail, they are forced to adapt and change. That is not just a human characteristic but constitutes a basic feature of how the mammalian brain works.

If a lab rat no longer gets rewarded for pressing a lever that had yielded food pellets before, it gets visibly upset. As its frantic efforts fail, it resorts to all manner of strange, or novel, reactions from grooming itself to biting the lever, or leaping into the air. It is learning that the world has changed and its brain is getting rewired, so to speak.

When one combines emotionalism with originality, that is fairly close to what most people think of as artistic creativity. Artists are not necessarily frustrated people but tend to be dissatisfied with what they have accomplished previously and try to do something better, or something new.

The magical power of failure is not restricted to the arts, or to political leadership. It applies to all fields of human endeavor, including the crass activity of financial money grubbing. Anyone who bought Apple stock over most of the past decade made wads of money but learned nothing. Those who bought at the peak and lost 40 percent of their stake are still scratching their heads. Like the rat in the experiment, they are learning something.

Never underestimate the magical properties of failure. It rewires the brain and gets the creative juices flowing.

(The above excerpt from The Sweet Smell Of Failure by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., originally appeared on October 5, 2010. To view it in its entirety please click on the link below.)

Who Invented The Little Black Dress? #Fashion

136019767The “little black dress,” quintessential staple of any woman’s wardrobe, isn’t as timeless as most people think. An LBD is a classic in that it’s neither a trend nor is it ever out of fashion, but its history is a surprisingly short one, dating back only about a century to the early 1900s. While history tends to credit French designer Coco Chanel with popularizing the design, the question of who came up with the little black dress first is a little more complicated than that.

As hard as it is to believe today—when black clothing is the neutral, flattering norm, and the latest fashion is credited as “the new black”—dark-colored garments were hardly a stylish society woman’s first choice years ago. Through the 1800s, black clothing was associated with mourning dress; in previous centuries, it was a symbol of luxury, as only the wealthy could afford costly black dye for their garments. Public perception gradually changed as history’s fashionistas realized that black was not only a practical choice that did not show stains or spills, but also a stylish one that offset their expensive accessories to good advantage. By the time Coco Chanel came into the equation in the 1920s, black dresses of all shapes and sizes were already quite popular all on their own.

The specific little black dress so famously associated with Chanel appeared in a 1926 issue of Vogue, a simple, calf-length design shown with a plain string of pearls that was distinct in its contrast to the heavily embellished flapper styles that were popular at the time. The magazine called it “Chanel’s Ford”—referring to Henry Ford’s Model T car, the standard for all automobiles to come—and predicted its role as “a sort of uniform for all women of taste.” A 1930 issue of Vogue later featured another black Chanel dress, made of sheer black lace with a matching capelet, which served to double down on the public perception of Coco Chanel having invented the fashion. However, designers like Edward Molyneux were simultaneously promoting their own, similar fashions, just without Vogue’s endorsement.

Perhaps the most iconic little black dress of all is a work of the 1960s: Audrey Hepburn famously wore a little black Givenchy dress as Holly Golightly in the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the movie that spawned a million Halloween costumes. That level of exposure may have truly cemented the little black dress as a cultural touchstone, so much so that we’ve turned it into an acronym: LBD, which has been included in the official Oxford Dictionary of English since 2010.

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Are #Dogs Now Just Furry Kids?


“”Humans constantly attribute certain qualities and emotions to other living things. We know that our own dog is clever or sensitive, but that’s us thinking, not them.The results of these tests suggest that dogs are deciding it’s safer to steal the food when the room is dark because they understand something of the human’s perspective.”

In dogs we trust

Here are other recent studies on the dog-human connection:

  • Beware of southpaws: According to researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia, dogs that show a preference for using their left paws are more aggressive toward strangers than dogs that are right-pawed or show no preference. But they also found that left-pawed dogs were no more excitable or attention-seeking than other dogs. Only about 10 percent of humans are left-handed, but there’s an even split between left-pawed, right-pawed, and ambilateral canines.
  • Fortunately, humans have refrained from chasing their butts: It turns out that Doberman pinschers with canine compulsive disorder (CCD) have similar abnormalities in their brain structure as humans with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). That makes scientists more hopeful that further research in CCD–exhibited in dogs by blanket-sucking, tail-chasing, and chewing–could help lead to new therapies for OCD in humans.
  • Thanks for sharing: If you have a dog, you no doubt realize that it brings a lot of bacteria into your home. What you may not realize is that’s not a bad thing. For instance, skin microbes, note scientists at North Carolina State University, can help you fight off diseases. Particularly high levels of microbes related to dogs were found on pillowcases and, strangely enough, TV screens.
  • Except when they pee on the rug: No source less than the American Heart Association says that owning a dog can be good for your heart. The organization issued a statement to that effect last month following a scientific review of research showing that dog owners not only get more exercise, but also can have their stress levels and heart rates lowered by the presence of their pets.
  • If dogs were on Facebook, they’d like everything: And finally, a survey by the research firm Mintel found that almost half of those who participated said that their pets are better for their social lives than being on Facebook or Twitter. Also, according to the survey, almost one out of five Millenials who own a dog or cat have a pet-related app on their smartphones.

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Are Our Kids Too Fragile? #Parenting

art-kids-620x349Chill out: children need to be resilient to cope with life’s challenges. Photo: Think Stock

We advocate the use of mindfulness in schools. There is a great benefit in practising mindfulness. The thing about building resilience is that if you can be a little bit more centred within yourself and more purpose driven in what you’re trying to do, rather than reactive, then you’re probably going to be achieving your goals and be a little bit calmer and, as a result, you’re probably going to be more resilient.”