Weird Shorts – 4

Talk about a mammoth appetite, when most of the world’s large mammals went extinct roughly 10,000 years ago, the vast majority of the vanished species were herbivores. This of course meant that they were no longer around to eat the plants they otherwise would have, and - according to Christophers Doughty and Field from Oxford and Stanford Universities respectively – this freed up an extra 1.4 trillion kilos of food, roughly 2.5% of the net product of all Earth’s dry land. However, the researchers add, this excess had been ‘used up’ by burgeoning human numbers by around 1700 and today we consume six times as much as the Pleistocene critters ever did while simultaneously driving down land productivity by 10% (Nature)(PDF).

That’s not to say that our massive consumption doesn’t have it’s upside, As Vangelis Kapatos of Manhattan discovered when he attempted suicide by jumping from his ninth floor flat, only to survive when his fall was broken by a pile of uncollected garbage. Mr. Kapatos’ timing, from his perspective, couldn’t have been worse, the unusually large garbage pile was due to collections being suspended because of snow. They were due to resume the day after his impromptu dumpster dive (Today Online).

Mind you, we’re not the only animals prone to excess. After finding the bodies of dozens of starlings near the city of Constanta in Romania, locals were concerned that the cause might be bird flu, instead post-mortems of the birds have revealed that they in fact died of alcohol poisoning, having ‘drunk’ themselves to death on the discarded leftovers of the local winemaking industry. A least they died happy (BBC News).

Better than dying happy, though, is living happy, and the secret of that, says the UK’s Office for National Statistics, is having a job. But it’s not the pay but the job security that counts, say the government statisticians, which ironically are facing staff cuts themselves due to the economic downturn. Other key happiness factors, according to the preliminary report, are good personal health and a decent family life. What will we do without these people (Telegraph)?

And men, if you’re happy it pays to keep your partners happy too. That’s because a team of scientists from Israel have discovered that the smell of women’s tears dampens men’s ardour and reduces their testosterone. Female participants in the study had their tears collected, men then sniffed either the tears or a saline control fluid before rating the sex appeal of a selection of women’s faces. The scientists then went on to imaging the activity of the brain when the tears were sniffed, confirming reduced activity in areas associated with the sex urge. Team leader Noam Sobel of the Weizmann Institute stopped short of calling the chemical a pheromone, but said that the advantages to the women in producing a chemical signal that reduces aggression were obvious. “Basically you are protecting yourself when you are vulnerable.” He explained (Mail & Guardian).

Still should your ardour be undamped and your union be blessed, the pope would like you to give a little thought to what you’re going to call the little darling. According to Pope Benedict, a Christian name should be literally that, a name from the bible or Christian tradition, so signifying “that the Holy Spirit gives a rebirth to people in the womb of the Church,” claiming that every child’s character starts with their name. It’s good that there’s nothing in church needing his attention that he has time to dwell on these things (Reuters).

Staying in Italy, Darco Sangermano of Naples will probably direct a few thank-yous towards Benny’s boss after being accidentally shot in the head during the town’s New year’s Eve celebrations, only to sneeze the bullet out while waiting in to be treated. Doctors say the bullet hit him just behind the right eye, but fortunately his skull slowed the slug enough to deflect it away from both his brain and his eyes, and into his nasal cavity. Though Mr. Sangermano will need laser surgery to repair some damage to the retina of his right eye, his is expected to make a full recovery (BBC News).

Not so fortunate was Manila councilman Reynaldo Dagsa, who was shot and killed while taking a family picture outside his home in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Unfortunately for the gunman, Mr Dagsa’s family portrait clearly showed the killer stood behind the family aiming his gun. Police instantly identified him as Michael Gonzales, who had previously been arrested in part due to Dagsa, and who was out on bail (Sky News).

(Image Source: Wikipedia)
     Posted By: Dumbfounded - Thu Jan 13, 2011
     Category: Animals | Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Creatures | Armageddon and Apocalypses | Babies | Crime | Death | Human Marvels | Inebriation and Intoxicants | Religion | Sexuality | Weird Names | Body Fluids | Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents

Whew! I added tags to this piece and inadvertently managed to wipe half the text! Fortunately, I could go back through my browser history and copy/paste the text and links from the cache.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to point out that despite my mean dig above, I think statisticians are valuable people who perform a useful role and are completely at variance with the boredom inducing stereotype.

In fact I'm sure they are all quite normal apart from the standard deviation or two.
Posted by Dumbfounded on 01/13/11 at 06:26 PM
Although I am not a statistician, I assure you, I am no more than standardly deviate. Except in some areas.

So, I can call my kid Judas? I mean, c'mon, your Holiness, he was a disciple! How Christian do you want?
Posted by TheCannyScot in Atlanta, GA on 01/13/11 at 08:21 PM
dinos- come on now, we produce more food on less land due to agricultural advances. getting food to all those in need is more the problem.

birds- is that why they are called swallows?

scent of a woman(s tears)- finally! the cure for testosterone poisoning!

pope-cloud the issue, evade, deny, and the best defense is a good offence.

sneeze- the luckiest guy in the world!

family portrait assasination- good, glad they got the dumbass.

great post dumbfounded! 💋
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 01/13/11 at 10:06 PM
The profusion of plant life after the Great Die Off was mostly made possible by left over dino-doo.

I guess my nice Sydney ain't going to heaven no matter what! Or, do you think if I made a large enough donation to the church the Pose would give here a <strike>GOLDEN TICKET</strike> Papal Dispensation?

Fluffy, you need to watch more Mythbusters; sneezing into your hand is very ineffectual. You need to rip one off into the crook of your arm.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 01/14/11 at 01:05 AM
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