Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Soap boxing



During the 1960s, a Free Speech Movement was initiated on the Berkeley, California Campus over fund-raising at an intersection and other political freedoms, and the fight eventually spread to other college campuses across the United States.

In the 1992 UK General Election the Conservative Party were widely expected to be defeated by Neil Kinnock's Labour Party. Tory leader John Major took his campaign onto the streets, delivering many addresses from an upturned soapbox.

This approach stood in contrast to the Labour Party's seemingly slicker campaign and it chimed with the electorate, along with hard-hitting negative campaign advertising focusing on the issue of Labour's approach to taxation. Major won in excess of 14 million votes, the highest popular vote recorded by a British political party in a general election at the time.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Soapbox

A soapbox is a raised platform on which one stands to make an impromptu speech, often about a political subject. The term originates from the days when speakers would elevate themselves by standing on a wooden crate originally used for shipment of soap or other dry goods from a manufacturer to a retail store.

The term is also used metaphorically to describe a person engaging in often flamboyant impromptu or unofficial public speaking, as in the phrases "He's on his soapbox", or "Get off your soapbox." Hyde Park, London is known for its Sunday soapbox orators, who have assembled at Speakers' Corner since 1872 to discuss religion, politics and other topics. A modern form of the soapbox is a blog: a website on which a user publishes one's thoughts to whoever reads them.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Mexican Duck

The Mexican Duck (Anas diazi, and see below) is a dabbling duck in the genus Anas which breeds in Mexico and the southern USA. Most of the population is resident, but some northern birds migrate south to Mexico in winter.

It is a bird of most wetlands, including ponds and rivers, and usually feeds by dabbling for plant food or grazing. It nests usually on a river bank, but not always particularly near water.

Both sexes of this 51–56 cm length bird resemble a female Mallard, but with a slightly darker body. The Mexican Duck is mainly brown, with a blue speculum edged with white, obvious in flight or at rest. The male has a brighter yellow bill than the female.

The male has a nasal call, whereas the female has the very familiar "quack" commonly associated with ducks.
This species was formerly - and sometimes still is - considered a subspecies of the Mallard, as Anas platyrhynchos diazi (AOU 1983). This may not be correct, however, as careful analysis of mtDNA control region sequence data - taking into account hybridization events - indicates it is the southwestern relative of the American Black Duck and shares a fairly recent common ancestry with this species (McCracken et al. 2001).
Including the Mexican Duck in the Mallard is a relict from the usual practice of much of the mid-late 20th century, when all North American "mallardines" as well as the Hawaiian and Laysan Ducks were included in the Mallard proper as subspecies. This was based on the assumption that hybridization, producing fertile offsprings, is an indicator of lack of speciation.

Rather, in these birds it indicates a fairly recent allopatric radiation, which has not yet established solid barriers against gene flow on the molecular level; mate choice is conferred by cues of behavior and plumage in the mallardine ducks, and this, under natural conditions, has precluded a strong selective pressure towards establishment of genetic incompatibility.