Extreme pumpkin carving

These are some of the best pumpkins ever: extreme pumpkins 2007. There’s construction:

There are shadows:

There are alien bones:

There’s delicate carving:

And there’s carving plus ageing:

All in all, a nice show of talent and imagination.

Hurricane Noel over the Bahamas

This is very impressive: Hurricane Noel over the Bahamas Islands.

Tropical Storm Noel heads for Atlantic Canada

A very strong T.S. Noel, the remains of Hurricane Noel, is heading for Atlantic Canada, including some members of my extended family. I hope everyone has battened down the hatches. It looks pretty breezy under those clouds.

Washoe, the signing chimpanzee, dies

Washoe, the chimpanzee who broke the sign-language barrier has died of natural causes at age 42. She was raised with people who interacted with her as deaf parents with a child, and she was credited with knowing 250 signs. To be said to know a sign, she had to produce it spontaneously, be seen by three different observers on three different instances, and to use it on fifteen consecutive days. She was the only chimpanzee at the Chimpanzee and Human Communications Institute at Central Washington University who was born in Africa. Drs. Allen and Beatrix Gardner, of the University of Nevada, Reno, worked to teach her language starting in 1966, when she was about ten months old. In 1967, they switched to American Sign Language.

Washoe was the first chimpanzee to teach language to others. She taught sign language to three younger chimps without human help.

Some people, such as linguist Noam Chomsky, maintained that only humans can have true language and that Washoe was merely performing for a reward. What the scientific difference is between a chimpanzee asking for a drink and a child asking for a drink, I’m not sure. Washoe created descriptive phrases such as “water bird” for swan, “drink fruit” for watermelon, and “cork nut” for almond. Her greatest champion is perhaps Roger Fouts, who wrote Next of Kin about his interactions with Washoe and other chimpanzees.

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