June 8, 2009
Order one here!
Thanks to Andy Watson!
I just found out the computer toaster I found the other day turned out to be a fake. The crazypc website used it as an april fools joke but a lot of weird gadgets site are still saying it's a real gadget though. What I found today is real though. It's a bank made to look like a face except it has no eyes. When you put coins in it smells them and then opens it's mouth and eats them. You can buy one here:
It might be time to update the old adage as, according to a scientist from the Santa Fe Institute, NM, it should be "To war
is human". Dr. Samuel Bowles suggests that continual conflict among our ancient ancestors may have driven the evolution of what he terms "parochial altruism", i.e. group sociality and hostility to outsiders. By combining archaeological data on stone age humans with studies of modern tribes, Bowles has developed a model of ancient population genetics and determined that there would have been much more genetic diversity between competing groups than previously thought. In such a scenario, Bowles' results suggest that groups displaying parochial altruism would benefit by having more aggressive warriors less concerned with self-preservation, at the expense of other groups. PA may even explain the extreme habitual sociality of humans (found elsewhere only in insects), which in another paper in the same issue of Science
is identified as a possible cause of human culture. Paradoxically, we may be social as individuals because we are anti-social as groups (Independent
But if we learnt war early on the path to humanity, we may have learnt laughter even earlier. Researchers from the University of Portsmouth analysed the sounds 22 young apes made when being tickled, and concluded that it is laughter. Dr Davila-Ross and her team looked for similar acoustic characteristics to human laughter in the young of several ape species, and found greater similarity in the sounds made by chimpanzees and bonobos (the species closest to humans genetically) than in that of more distantly related apes such as orangutans. The team concluded that laughter must have evolved some time before the major ape groups split apart, 18 million years ago (BBC News
Finally, this last piece was going to be about gay penguin adoption, but that's already up, so instead I'd like to draw your attention to a
movie by sometime Simpsons
writer, Mike Reiss. Called "Queer Duck", Reiss' film is an animated musical about three gay, animal friends, Openly Gator, Bi-polar Bear and the eponymous Queer Duck himself. When QD suddenly finds himself attracted to women, in the shape of new arrival Lola Buzzard, he begins a voyage of self-discovery that sees him experience quack therapies (from the wonderfully named clinic, "Homo No Mo'!") and kidnap and imprisonment at "Home Depot" (the one place no gay would think of looking for him), before the not-unexpected third-reel epiphany. Hopefully it'll be released on DVD soon, because this one's a keeper! (The News-Times
(Image from SPEC Productions
, who collect and reprint some damn fine comics!)
News of the Weird / Pro Edition
June 8, 2009 (news from May 30-June 6)
The Stites Family Tree
Thomas, 25, was charged with sexual assault in Manitowoc, Wis., becoming the 4th Stites brother, and 6th member of his local family, to be charged with a sex crime (3 convicted so far). Herald Times Reporter
Los Angeles's Feral Homeless
From the Times
: "[The FH] must climb a ladder toward a small, hard-to-notice opening in the all-concrete slab that helps hold up the [Interstate] 10 Freeway [near the interchange with 605]. They must squeeze beneath a rusty metal grating, balance on a ledge and descend a second ladder into thick, dead air and darkness. This is home, a vast, vault-like netherworld, strewn with garbage and syringes." It's about the size of two side-by-side high school gyms; it has an upper loft with toys and rattles and a cat carcass; cops are afraid to go in; and when state officials seal it up every few years, the FH just break it open again. Los Angeles Times
Clichés Come to Life
From the Washington Post
, describing the perils faced by all the mega-construction in western Virginia suburbs just across the river from Washington, D.C.: "This part happens all the time: A construction crew putting up an office building in the heart of Tysons Corner [home of the Nat'l Counterterrorism Center and about four miles from CIA headquarters] a few years ago hit a fiber optic cable no one knew was there. This part doesn't [happen all the time]: Within moments, three black sport-utility vehicles drove up, a half-dozen men in suits jumped out, and one said, 'You just hit our line' Whose line, you may ask," asked the reporter. Apparently, no, you may not ask (or, y'know, have to kill you, etc.). The hilarious part comes when AT&T sends a bill for all the re-routing work, to the front group's drop box, actually believing they may get paid. Washington Post
World's Luckiest Snake
The young copperhead that trespassed into a building near Poolesville, Md., and then bit the hell out of Sam Pettengill was given a total mulligan. Though Pettengill was hospitalized and endured 4 antivenin cycles, his residence is a Buddhist temple, and before he set out for the hospital, with his hand already throbbing, he took the snake, circled a prayer room three times blessing it, then walked into the woods and released the little rascal. Washington Post
French Labor Law Meets Reality TV
The stars of the Survivor
-ish French show Temptation Island
won their lawsuit in the supreme court and were awarded full employee benefits (overtime pay after 35 hours, holidays off, right to sue for wrongful discharge, etc.). It looks like they're getting £11k ($17.5k) each for all being stuffed on that island eating lizards 24/7. No lawsuits . . yet . . over being "unfairly" voted off the île
. The Times
(London) [CORRECTION: The Temptation Island show, itself, is not Survivor-ishly about eating bugs; it involves dropping "committed" couples in the midst of flirtations singles 24/7 to see who's faithful. However, the French court decision seems to cover all "reality TV" programs, and the three Temptation Island plaintiffs were awarded damages for the "unfairness" of the outcome.]
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June 7, 2009
This looks like a joke at first, but if you click on the link below and look for the underlined CraziestGadgets link, you'll see this USB port is also available as a stone.
Here's the link with a view of the potato with the 4 ports being used.
If you can't be a couch potato, maybe a computer potato is for you.
To answer the question, a jerboa is a Mongolian rodent. This strange looking animal is the size of a mouse, has kangaroo like legs, and huge ears. It is an endangered species and London Zoological Society is hoping a little publicity will help with the little guys preservation. Link- http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=79047&in_page_id=34
A pair of mated male penguins at a zoo in Germany took over the care of an egg abandoned by it's biological parents. The gay pair hatched the egg and are doing a good job of caring for their adopted baby according to zoo staff. The zoo has also stated that homosexuality is not uncommon in nature. Find the story here- http://www.metro.co.uk/news/world/article.html?Gay_penguins_hatch_chick&in_article_id=678862&in_page_id=64
Have you ever wanted to see a collection of Mario fan art that ranged from cartoonish to realist? You can find it at Deviant Art
. It even has some interesting Mario cosplay & Mario as a girl art. (This website has a very lenghty and detailed copyright notice, so I didn't feel safe posting any examples here.)
Here's a quick round-up of a few things that I couldn't quite crow-bar into the "Weird Wildlife" category.
If you've any particular aversion to rats, and quite a lot of people have, then Deshnok in India is probably a place best avoided, for there stands the Karni Mata Temple, built a century ago and devoted to the Hindu matriarch Karni Mata. Worshipped as a 14th century incarnation of the goddess Durga, Karni Mata is said to have struck a deal with Yama, the god of death, that all members of her clan would reincarnate as rats so that the clan would remain united. Hence rats in Deshnok are sacred animals, venerated as ancestors, and fed and protected by the locals, so than now thousands of rats scamper over the feet of visitors to the temple (National Geographic
And it's not only in India that people have built havens for rats, one was once built in British Columbia, though for quite a different reason. Bruce Alexander was studying addiction, and he had a problem. He knew that rats kept in cramped cages or strapped to apparatus that allowed them to dose themselves with drugs, would often do so to the point of self-destruction, but, he thought, could you really blame them? What if the addiction to the drugs was a product of their environment, rather than a reaction to the drug itself? Hence, in the 1970s, Alexander decided to give his rats the best living conditions he could, so he build "Rat Park". It was 95 square-feet in area, and well stocked with food, toys and "private areas" where the rats - who would be of both sexes - could go to mate or give birth. It was then filled with rats who had been forced to consume morphine for 8 weeks prior to the experiment, quite long enough to cause hopeless addiction in standard experiments, who were now offered a choice of pure water, or more morphine. All of them chose water. Nothing Alexander could do would entice them to take the drug, even sweetening it had no effect, only when he added naloxone (a drug that blocks the action of opiates) or diluted the morphine to the point of near impotency, could park rats be tempted to take it (Absolute Astronomy
Yet another piece of rodent research now, as scientists (sadly not from NIMH) have found that transplanting a human 'language gene' into mice affects the way they communicate with one another. The gene, called foxp2
is one of a small family of genes known to be markedly different in humans compared to apes and other animals, hence may be the genes that are the very core of our humanity
, so would putting a humanized gene in a mouse create a talking mouse? Well, no, there's a lot more to our use of language than a single gene, however while the transgenic mice were
significantly less curious, they also showed increased growth and plasticity in the speech centres of their brains, and a tendency to use a greater range of frequencies in their calls (NY Times
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.