for October 1969.]
You know, even in 1969, despite the prevalence of hype connected with "flower power," I don't think anyone was going to believe that automobiles were pro-nature. And aren't flowers kind of a sissy image for a muscle car anyhow?
It's a real product
. Buy yours today!
Looking for an unusual vacation spot? Then you might consider one of eight strange destinations as listed in this article
on the Matador Network. There's Mount Thor (pictured), in Nunavut, Canada which has the highest (4101ft) vertical drop, if you're into rock climbing... or falling, as the case may be. Or you can swing by the Principality of Sealand which is nothing more than several gun platforms in the English Channel that were abandoned by the British after World War II. It was declared an independent nation in 1967 and has its own currency and can issue passports and visas. Sealand is also for sale, if you ever dreamt of owning your own country, and let's face it, all of us here at WU have had that dream I'm sure. But no matter where you might want to go in the world, this list
could be a great starting point.
They say news travels fast, but in the speed stakes it can’t hold a candle to dumb. Circling the blogosphere like an angry Superman is news that security guard Jason Cooke has managed to sight the Loch Ness monster on Google Earth. The object, which Cooke claims exactly matches the descriptions of Nessie, is clearly visible as a quadrupedal, long-necked plesiosaur-like creature, and in no way could be the wake behind a boat or anything mundane like that. This latest find comes as a relief to many cryptozoologists, who had expressed concerns that the dearth of recent sightings might mean Nessie had fallen victim to Global Warming (Telegraph
Or perhaps this is simply proof that Scottish universities have got the jump on their transatlantic counterparts? In a move nearly, but not quite, totally unlike Jurassic Park, Professor Hans Larsson of McGill University in Montreal has announced that he hopes to de-evolve chickens back into their dinosaur ancestors. Larsson stressed that he is not aiming to recreate whole
dinosaurs at this time, but by switching on or off certain genes in chick embryos he hopes to induce atavistic dinosaur anatomy in the full grown animals (AFP
Naked people in trees: two great things that go great together...?
Visit here for more shots.
It's hard enough to catch a bite to eat when your prey consists of relatively quick moving land animals. But when you're dealing with tiny, lightning fast fish, what can you do to improve your odds that you'll get a meal? Turn yourself into a tentacled water snake. Scientists at Vanderbilt University used high-speed video to capture images of the snake performing an unusual trick in order to force prey to swim directly into its mouth. The snake will lie motionless, its body in a "J" shape, and wait for prey to swim close. When a fish swims by the curve of the "J", the snake flexes the lower part of its body. The fish senses the movement and turns to swim away from the perceived threat... only to end up directly in the snake's mouth. You can see the slow motion video here.
And you can read all about the study here.
Time to point our telescopes of weirdness at "the old country", methinks.
Speaking of old, recent research carried out by the University of Michigan has revealed that US seniors are smarter than their UK counterparts. The study, lead in the US by Kenneth Langa, measured the recall abilities of over 8000 elderly Americans and over 5000 elderly Brits, and found that the yanks scored 1.4 more on the memory tests, out of a possible 24. Langa suggests that part of the difference was due to higher average levels of education and income in the US group, and higher levels of depression in the UK sample, but points out that nothing is certain at the moment. "It's like a view from 30,000 feet" said Langa (New Scientist
And it's not just British brains that are shrinking, the UK's sheep are getting smaller as well. Because of a trend towards milder weather believed to be due to climate change, Sheep on the Outer Hebridean island of Soay are getting smaller at the rate of 100g/year, say researchers from Imperial College, London. Though it might seem that warmer winters and a greater abundance of food might make for bigger sheep, Tim Coulson, the professor leading the study, points out that fewer weaker and smaller lambs will die over winter, bringing down the average size (Telegraph
Now, in some good news, UK campaigners have won a second victory in a three-year battle... to bring back a chocolate bar. The "Wispa Bar", made by European confectioners Cadbury, was introduced in 1995 along with a caramel laced version called the "Wispa Gold", only for both to be discontinued in 2003. This prompted some die-hard fans of the bubbly chocolate bar to start a petition to have it go into production again, resulting in a "limited edition" run of the original Wispa last year. When the 40 million bars produced sold out in just 18 weeks, Cadbury decided to relaunch the brand. Not satisfied with just one bar, campaigners have kept up the pressure, causing Cadbury to start producing Wispa Golds "for a limited period," as before. However to some commentators, this latest move looks more like slick PR than grassroots victory (Sky News
[From The Saturday Evening Post
for April 29 1950. Two scans, top and bottom.]
This campaign uses what I like to call "the artificial linkage" method. You take something natural and inevitable and try to tie your product to it. In this case, the entire grand eternal season of Spring means nothing more than digging out your paintbrush and ladders and tackling your peeling house.
You gotta love the name of the paint, though: "Barreled Sunlight."
It's amazing what food sellers will put into a can these days. What's even more amazing is that people will buy it. I am reminded of a quotation from a children's movie, where one of the kids asks another, "What wouldn't you eat for a million dollars?" I think just about everything in this article
from the Food Network would make that list. (And what's with the Russian Herring? Do they really have teeth like that? Were these grown in a body of water near Chernobyl?)
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
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.