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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Daily Drift

 Fijian sunset by mountaintrekker2001 on Flickr.
Some of our readers today have been in:
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Kuwait, Kuwait
Cape Town, South Africa
Edinburgh, Scotland
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Dubai, United Arab, Emirates
Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
London, England
Cukai, Malaysia
Male, Maldives
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Islamabad, Pakistan
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Sofia, Bulgaria
Cairo, Egypt
Bangkok, Thailand 

We even had readers today in Waxahachie, Texas

And on a great note: as you may remember this site had a 'forced hiatus' of five months due to technical issues but our readership loss during that time is returning  - we have had 12,512 readers so far in July - Thank you.

  Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

326   Emperor Constantine refuses to carry out traditional pagan sacrifices.
1394   Charles VI of France issues a decree for the general expulsion of Jews from France.
1564   Maximillian II becomes emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
1587   Hideyoshi bans Christianity in Japan and orders all Christians to leave.
1759   British forces defeat a French army at Fort Niagara in Canada.
1799   On his way back from Syria, Napoleon Bonaparte defeats the Ottomans at Aboukir, Egypt.
1814   British and American forces fight each other to a standoff at Lundy's Lane, Canada.
1845   China grants Belgium equal trading rights with Britain, France and the United States.
1867   President Andrew Johnson signs an act creating the territory of Wyoming.
1850   Gold is discovered in the Rogue River in Oregon, extending the quest for gold up the Pacific coast.
1861   The Crittenden Resolution, calling for the American Civil War to be fought to preserve the Union and not for slavery, is passed by Congress.
1894   Japanese forces sink the British steamer Kowshing which was bringing Chinese reinforcements to Korea.
1909   French aviator Louis Bleriot becomes the first man to fly across the English Channel in an airplane.
1914   Russia declares that it will act to protect Serbian sovereignty.
1924   Greece announces the deportation of 50,000 Armenians.
1934   Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss is shot and killed by Nazis.
1941   The U.S. government freezes Japanese and Chinese assets.
1943   Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini is overthrown in a coup.
1944   Allied forces begin the breakthrough of German lines in Normandy.
1978   The first test-tube baby, Louis Brown, is born in Oldham, England.

Non Sequitur


The NRA is back in bed with ALEC

From Media Matters:
In April, as corporate sponsors fled their organization in the face of pressure from liberal activists angry with the group's support of "Kill at Will" self-defense laws and voter ID bills, ALEC announced that they were disbanding their Elections and Public Safety Task Force, which worked on those issues. At the time, that task force's chair told Media Matters that such issues were no longer a priority for ALEC.

The NRA was reportedly extremely unhappy with ALEC's reaction to public pressure regarding the "Kill at Will" laws, which spread to dozens of states after ALEC adopted a model bill based on the Florida statute that was cited as an influence in the case of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

An NRA representative reportedly criticized the group for dismantling the task force during a meeting of conservative leaders, warning other participants that ALEC could flee from their issues as well.

But the continuation of the NRA's annual shoot at ALEC's annual meeting suggests that the two conservative groups have patched up their differences and are again working together to promote right-wing legislation.
What annual shoot?
According to [Center for Media and Democracy] "For the past several years, on the Saturday of ALEC's annual meeting, the NRA has regularly hosted an outing for ALEC legislators and lobbyists to go shooting together -- with complimentary guns and ammo plus plenty of food and drink (this time it is a barbeque)."
If the "annual shoot is on" I would guess the divorce is off. Friends forever.

UPDATE: I hope the progressive world realizes what an opportunity this is. The ALEC attack by Color of Change et al worked to create corporate defunding and exit because of the racism. Racism is apparently a bridge too far for corporate America these days. Good to know.

How about a similar move against NRA? They have funders, some very high-dollar.

We could: (1) Publicize that list, the money (if available), and ask the question "Is the NRA a racist organization?" (2) Pick one corporation (one with mainstream family-friendly cred and a neutral "brand" to protect) and target them, like with the ALEC targeting. (3) Publicize any exits we get and continue the drive.

It wouldn't kill the NRA, but it would put them on defense (for a damn change). Time to alter the momentum against those guys, say I.

And I Quote

“Including as many Americans as possible in our electoral process is the spirit of our country. It is why we have expanded rights to women and minorities but never legislated them away, and why we have lowered the voting age but never raised it. Cynical efforts at voter suppression are driven by an un-American desire to exclude as many people and silence as many voices as possible.”
Charlie Crist
The repugicans are eating there own at every turn these days so what do you think they are going to do to poor ol'Charlie now that he has spoken like a sane person?

Romney says US Olympic athletes didn't earn their medals

Mitt Romney owes all US Olympics athletes an apology.
AP quotes Romney talking to the 2002 Olympic athletes:
"You Olympians, however, know you didn't get here solely on your own power," Romney said after congratulating the athletes. "For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them."
Oh, so it takes a village, Mitt?

Mitt Romney probably thinks our Olympic athletes bought their way into the Olympics the way he did.

Actually AP's overall story is about how Romney is now outright lying about things the President never said, and AP, to their credit, call Romney out for his lies - here's AP:
"Romney continues to hammer Obama over comments taken wildly out of context."
But that doesn't stop the Romney campaign, or the repugican party, from making the lie their number one talking point.  And, of course, what Romney is lying about is almost the exact same quote that President Obama said.  But when Obama said it, it's a sign that he's a communist or something.  But when Romney said it, then what was it a sign of?

It's really scary. We have an entire political party that believes that lying to the American people in order to win a campaign, or any political issue, is not only fair game, but it's the preferable game.

And while AP is to be credited for calling Romney out on this, the media should be asking the Romney campaign, incessantly, on camera, at every campaign stop: "Governor Romney, why are you knowingly repeating a lie about the President?"  That's how the media is supposed to do it's job.  You don't write one piece and say "okay we covered it" when the other guy is making a lie the entire basis of his campaign.  You get in his face and keep asking him why he's lying, as it is a sign of his character.

And in Romney's case, it's also a strategy sanctioned by the Mormons themselves, called Lying for the Lord. From MormonWiki:
Lying for the Lord refers to the practice of lying to protect the image of and belief in the Mormon religion, a practice which Mormonism itself fosters in various ways. From Joseph Smith's denial of having more than one wife, to polygamous Mormon missionaries telling European investigators that reports about polygamy in Utah were lies put out by "anti-Mormons" and disgruntled ex-members, to Gordon B. Hinckley's dishonest equivocation on national television over Mormon doctrine, Mormonism's history seems replete with examples of lying. Common members see such examples as situations where lying is justified.

Did you know ...

That  child abuse and hospitalization rates increases rises with increased foreclosures

About how Washington is wrecking the economy

That a Greenland glacier loses chunk twice the size of Manhattan

How Low Can You Go, Mississippi?

The mighty Mississippi River is nearing record lows, exposing treacherous sandbanks where river craft can run aground.  
  How Low Can You Go, Mississippi?

How the Dutch Are Facing the Threat of Flooding Due to Global Warming

The Netherlands is being proactive in its response to the threat of flooding due to global warming. Solutions include expensive feats of engineering and simpler measures. More

Can a private business stop you from taking photos on a downtown street?

A fascinating story about a DC suburb leased an entire city street to a private developer who now is trying to control the sidewalks as if they're private property.
From Marc Fisher at the Washington Post:
Chip Py, a longtime resident of Silver Spring, recently returned to an old interest in photography. While wandering through downtown after eating lunch there last week, he took out his camera and started to take shots of the contrast between the tops of the office buildings and the sparkling blue sky.

Within seconds, a private security guard was at Py's side, informing him that picture-taking is not permitted, no explanation given.

"I am on a city street, in a public place," Py replied. "Taking pictures is a right that I have, protected by the First Amendment."

The guard sent Py to the management office of the Peterson Cos., the developer that built the new downtown. There, marketing official Stacy Horan told Py that although Ellsworth Drive -- where many of the downtown's shops and eateries are located -- may look like a public street, it is actually treated as private property, controlled by Peterson.
The contractor added:
Peterson's motives go beyond security. "Like any business, Downtown Silver Spring's management maintains the right to approve any videotaping, filming or photography taking place on the property," Smith's statement reads. "It is in our best interest to understand how footage and photos are going to be used."

The truth be told

Prosecutors announce phone-hacking charges

British prosecutors said Tuesday they will charge eight journalists with illegally eavesdropping on voice mail, a move that could have implications for British Prime Minister David Cameron and media baron Rupert Murdoch.

ATM skimmers that fit in the card-slot

Police in an unidentified European nation have retrieved wafer-thin ATM skimmers that are so small that they can be fitted inside the credit-card insertion slot. Brian Krebs describes the finding:
That’s according to two recent reports from the European ATM Security Team (EAST), an organization that collects ATM fraud reports from countries in the region. In both reports, EAST said one country (it isn’t naming which) alerted them about a new form of skimming device that is thin enough to be inserted directly into the card reader slot. These devices record the data stored on the magnetic stripe on the back of the card as it is slid into a compromised ATM.
Another EAST report released this week indicates that these insert skimmers are continuing to evolve. Below are two more such devices. Insert skimmers require some secondary component to record customers entering their PINs, such as a PIN pad overlay or hidden camera.
ATM Skimmers Get Wafer Thin

Woman arrested after driving car for a quarter of a mile down railway tracks

The Floyd County Sheriff’s Department received a phone call from a woman at around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday about a vehicle crash in Floyd County. The caller said her sister was involved in a crash on a set of rail road tracks but was unaware of her exact location. The Indiana State Police Department and officers from the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department began a search for the crash and the driver who was allegedly still near the crash scene, according to a report.

Just after 5 a.m. officers saw a white female climb over a steep embankment onto the roadway near the 4600 block of Corydon Pike in Floyd County. The woman, identified at April N. Hill, 22, of Greenville, was barefoot, bleeding, and covered in mud, officers say. She was disoriented and did not know where she was. It was determined she was the person involved in the crash.

Hill’s vehicle was located on top of the rail road tracks near Corydon Pike by employees of the Norfolk Southern Rail Road Company. A preliminary investigation revealed that Hill allegedly drove onto the rail road tracks at State Road 111 and Corydon Pike and drove a quarter of a mile until her vehicle became stuck in the gravel just before entering the Georgetown/Edwardsville rail road tunnel.

She was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a Class A misdemeanor, operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 1.5 percent or higher, a Class A misdemeanor, and disturbing a train bed, a Class D felony, according to a release. Hill was incarcerated at the Floyd County Jail and sustained a minor injury from the crash. Train service was disrupted for hours because of the crash.

Man who 'went on violent carjacking spree' claims someone spiked his energy supplement

A college student accused of an erratic crime spree in North Dallas has apologized to the victims. Investigators say Eric Keng carjacked someone, tried to rob a business and led police on a chase in a stolen vehicle. "I apologize for anything that I did to anyone. It wasn't intentional. I don't know what happened," Keng said.

Police said Keng went on a wild rampage near the 18000 block of Marsh Lane, where officers said he smashed a driver's windshield with a golf club, tried to carjack two people, successfully carjacked a third and tried to rob a business. Investigators said Keng then led police on a car chase in a stolen vehicle. Officers used spike sticks to get Keng to pull over. Police said he was so erratic, officers had to wrestle him to the ground using pepper spray.

Keng said he took an energy supplement earlier in the day. "I was cleaning my mom's house to make sure she was happy when she got home, and then I took some pre-workout stuff called C4, and then I went completely nuts," he said. Keng said he often takes the energy supplement and thinks someone, possibly a friend, slipped something in it that caused him to act out. "I think I was drugged," he said.

"I sincerely believe someone put something in that C4, because I've taken it many times before, and the one time I took it this time, I wake up in jail and hear about this (expletive), and that's not me," he said. He also apologized to his family. "I just don't want my mom to be mad," he said. "It's not me, but clearly it is. I'm sorry." Keng said he was enrolled to continue classes at Brookhaven Community College in the fall. He said was hoping to join the military or the Air Force but doesn't see any of that happening now.

Woman fights off armed robbers with mangoes

The 80-year-old mother-in-law of a New Bedford, Massachusetts, store owner fearlessly began hurling fruit at a pair of robbers after one of them pistol whipped her in the head. Otilia Martins was shopping at her family's store, Continental Market on Sawyer Street, when two men entered the store at around 1:30 p.m. on Friday and held it up at gunpoint.

The grandmother attempted to thwart the robbery and even ran after the suspects. During the robbery, one of the men hit the 80-year-old Portuguese immigrant with the gun. Martins received a laceration from the blow, but she did not give up without a fight. Instead, she began hurling mangoes at the suspect with the gun.

The suspects were allegedly able to get away with $500 in cash, but were later caught by police after a 15-minute chase. The weapon believed to be used during the robbery was found in a second floor apartment at a building on Belleville Avenue.

Police identify the suspects as Jesse Dossantos, 32, and Eduardo Torres Lopez, Jr., 22. The men face charges that include armed robbery and robbery while masked, carrying a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery on a person over the age of 60. Martins did not need medical attention for her injury.

Doctors write a prescription for fresh produce

Bad cholesterol, depression, high blood pressure; these are all conditions that often prompt a trip to the pharmacy.


The Sushruta Samhita recommends pouring clarified butter into the infected wound and then drinking it; Pliny the Elder suggests a linen tourniquet soaked with the menstrual fluid of a dog.
From a review of Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus, by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy.
Wasik is an editor at Wired and Murphy, his wife, a veterinarian. Together they have coauthored a sprawling chronicle of rabies ... It’s a rare pleasure to read a nonfiction book by authors who research like academics but write like journalists. They have mined centuries’ worth of primary sources and come bearing only the gems.

The State of Mental Health

Serious Mental Illness Tied to Higher Cancer Rate

People with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have a 2.6 times increased risk of developing cancer ...
Continue Reading

Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Loneliness in Older Adults

For older adults, loneliness is a major risk factor for health problems — such as cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s ...
Continue Reading


Boosting New Memories With Wakeful Resting

Too often our memory starts acting like a particularly porous sieve: all the important fragments that should be caught and ...
Continue Reading

Unlocking Aging

DNA race to unlock aging secrets104-year-old woman

A race to unlock genetic clues behind living to 100 will begin next year, with a US team announcing its intention to compete for the $10m genetics X Prize.

Random Photo

Water in space

When I was growing up, everyone knew that life was unique on earth because there was no water in "outer space."  That sure has changed, as explained at Fast Company:
Researchers found [an amount] of water so large that it could provide each person on Earth an entire planet’s worth of water--20,000 times over...

The water is in a cloud around a huge black hole... and the waves of energy the black hole releases make water by literally knocking hydrogen and oxygen atoms together.

That one cloud of newly discovered space water vapor could supply 140 trillion planets that are just as wet as Earth is... The new cloud of water is enough to supply 28 galaxies with water...

...a distance of 12 billion light years. That means they were also looking back in time 12 billion years, to when the universe itself was just 1.6 billion years old. They were watching water being formed at the very start of the known universe, which is to say, water was one of the first substances formed, created in galactic volumes from the earliest time.

Bizarre Beauty Products

Ah, the things we endure to be beautiful! This perm machine from 1934 looks as if it belongs in a science-fiction story, but it was actually installed in some beauty salons. This is just one of a collection of strange gadgets and gizmos marketed to women (and men, too) in the pursuit of beauty between 1889 and today. See them all at Collector's Weekly.

Titanic Survivor to NatGeo Writer

Helen Churchill Candee had an extraordinary life. She was a divorced mother of two and a prolific writer before she ever stepped on the deck of the Titanic. And she made the papers when the ship sank.
Given Candee’s prominent social status and her career as a prolific writer, information about her experience on the night the Titanic sank is surprisingly scant. She did not give interviews, she did not write about it herself. What details there are have been a source of romantic conjecture, due, in large part, to a piece Candee published just three weeks later on May 4, 1912 in Collier’s Weekly entitled “Sealed Orders”. It is not a firsthand account, but a third-person story about an unnamed man and an unnamed woman who keep one another company during the voyage until they are parted by tragedy.
Readers have speculated on the identities of the couple. Many believe Candee to be the woman, while some think that the “Sealed Orders” gentleman is an amalgam of Edward Kent and Hugh Woolner. Both men were friends with Candee. Kent was one of the more than 1,500 passengers who died in the disaster. A cameo of Candee’s mother, which Candee apparently gave to Kent for safekeeping when the boat began sinking, was later found on his body. Woolner survived and went on to testify in a Senate hearing about the accident the following year. Some readers of the piece have gone even further, hypothesizing that the characters of Jack and Rose in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic, may have been inspired by Candee’s story, although there is little evidence for this theory. Candee does, however, appear as a character in James Cameron’s 2003 documentary, Ghosts of the Abyss.
But Candee’s adventures continued. She traveled the world, worked for women’s suffrage, and kept writing into old age -including articles for National Geographic, where you’ll enjoy more of her story. More

Entire Historic U.S. Town for Sale

garryowenThe town where the Battle of Bighorn started is up for sale.

Spectacular Lesser-Known Waterfalls

Photos of 21 spectacular waterfalls, many of them in locations that are hard to get to and/or aren't well known.

Funny Pictures

Lets go shopping she said

Pharaoh Snefru's Playground In the Desert

Researchers have uncovered how the first king of the 4th dynasty developed his building skills.  
  Pharaoh Snefru's Playground In the Desert

Temple of the Night Sun

Photo: Edwin Román, Brown University
Archaeologists have discovered a Maya temple, lost for 1,600 years, deep in the Guatemalan jungle. Read more about the Temple of the Night Sun over at National Geographic:
Some 1,600 years ago, the Temple of the Night Sun was a blood-red beacon visible for miles and adorned with giant masks of the Maya sun god as a shark, blood drinker, and jaguar. [...]
The sides of the temple are decorated with 5-foot-tall (1.5-meter-tall) stucco masks showing the face of the sun god changing as he traverses the sky over the course of a day.
One mask is sharklike, likely a reference to the sun rising from the Caribbean in the east, Houston said.
The noonday sun is depicted as an ancient being with crossed eyes who drank blood, and a final series of masks resemble the local jaguars, which awake from their jungle slumbers at dusk.

El Zotz masks yield insights into Maya beliefs

A team of archaeologists led by Brown University’s Stephen Houston has uncovered a pyramid, part of the Maya archaeological site ...
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Victory for evolution in Texas

Pop the champagne corks. The Texas Board of Education has unanimously come down on the side of evolution. In a 14-0 vote, the board today approved scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers — and did not approve the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC.
"This is a huge victory for Texas students and teachers," said Josh Rosenau, NCSE programs and policy director, who testified at the hearings this week. In his testimony, Rosenau urged the board to approve the supplements — recommended by a review panel largely composed of scientists and science educators — without amendments, and to reject International Databases' creationist submission. The board did just that, and asked for only minimal changes to the approved supplements.
In hearings yesterday, NCSE members and allies showed up in force. At least four times as many people testified in favor of the supplements as written, versus those opposing the supplements or demanding significant changes.
One hot button: the supplement from Holt McDougal. A creationist member of the review panel released a list of Holt's supposed errors involving evolution and common descent. But in today's hearing, the Texas Education Agency pointed out that the full membership of the review panel had not signed off on the list.
Ultimately, the board approved the Holt supplement, and directed Commissioner of Education Robert Scott to review the list of supposed errors, and to develop amended language for Holt to incorporate. NCSE and Texas education groups are confident Scott's revisions will reflect the current state of evolutionary biology, and not any creationist alternatives.
Dr. Eugenie Scott, NCSE's Executive Director, is celebrating the decision. "These supplements reflect the overwhelming scientific consensus that evolution is the core of modern biology, and is a central and vital concept in any biology class. That these supplements were adopted unanimously reflects a long overdue change in the board. I commend the board for its refusal to politicize science education."

A new look at forgotten or overlooked science

by Marc Abrahams
(Image credit Flickr user Shannan Muskopf)
In the early 1960s, a fellow named Sonneborn discovered a big peculiarity in a tiny animal, the paramecium. Sonneborn would take a paramecium, and disfigure it. Later, after the paramecium reproduced itself, its children (and their descendants, too!) inherited that same disfiguration. That inheritance raises a question that should disturb and intrigue every living biologist: How was the information — the location and shape of the disfiguration — passed from one generation to the next?

About Paramecia, and About Inheritance

First, a little background about paramecia.
A paramecium is a one-celled creature. It has a distinctive shape, rather like that of a slipper; it’s the shape you see repeated on a paisley tie. The paramecium is a ciliate, which is to say that its surface has lots of little, whip-like projections called cilia. The cilia are generally arranged in parallel rows, and within the rows, each cilium has pretty much the same orientation. (This is analogous to the hairs on a patch of your skin — on a small patch the hairs all point in the same direction). The cilia wag back and forth rather like floppy oars. This concerted wagging is how the animal moves itself about.
Second, a little background about how shape and other information is passed on from generation to generation. Every living thing has received from its parent (or parents) the set of instructions necessary to physically live and grow. Those instructions are carried, in tickertape fashion, in the genes. The genes are made entirely of deoxyribonucleic acid (the famous DNA), arranged as long, long, astoundingly thin, twisty, scrunched-up tickertape-like molecules. All of modern biology is based on this idea — that virtually all the physical information that’s passed from parent to child is contained in the DNA. In a paramecium, the most famous chunks of DNA are contained in the nucleus. Some other parts of the cell also contain their own little chunks of DNA.

What Sonneborn Found

With that background in mind, consider what Sonneborn found, and how puzzling his discovery is.
Tracy M. Sonneborn was an Indiana University biologist, known and much respected for doing careful research. His paramecia experiments, in particular, are carefully documented. In these experiments, Sonneborn would slice off a little chunk of a paramecium’s surface, then rotate the slice and plop it back on. It was easy to see where the grafted slice now lay. Its rows didn’t line up with the neighboring rows, and the individual cilia were oriented in the “wrong direction” compared to cilia in the neighboring, undisturbed rows. And because its cilia in the altered patch were wagging in a different direction from that of their neighbors, the altered paramecium would, typically, move in some mildly eccentric way.
The startling thing is what happened after the paramecium reproduced. For a paramecium, reproduction is usually a lonely, mitotic affair. The thing just splits itself in two.
Each offspring of a maimed paramecium turned out to have the same graft pattern as its parent, with the rotated patch of cilia in the same, odd orientation. This flipping of the paramecium’s wig makes biologists flip their own wigs, those few who have heard about it.
It’s hard, very hard, to see how this could possibly be inherited via the genes. Yet somehow the information is passed on from the paramecium that got the disfiguration to its children, and on to subsequent generations. How? How?

Where Might This Lead?

Sonneborn died in 1981. Nary a soul has picked up on his work and tried to see where the big question might lead. Maybe it leads nowhere, maybe it leads somewhere very, very interesting. Perhaps you, or someone you know, will be the person who discovers the answer to this question.

Where to Start

If you want to dig into Sonneborn’s work, a good place to start is one of his reports: “Cytoplasmic Inheritance of the Organization of the Cell Cortex in Paramecium Aurelia,” Janine Beisson and T.M. Sonneborn, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 53, no. 2, February 1965, pp. 275-82. Good luck. If you do some experiments and find an answer, please let us know.

A 500 Million-Year-Old 'Mistake' Led to Humans

Over 500 million years ago a spineless creature experienced two doublings in DNA, triggering the evolution of humans and other animals.  
  evolution mistake

The Ethereal Beauty of Mealybugs

These garden pests are not only alien looking but also strangely beautiful. And yet there's also more to mealybugs than meats the eye ... More

Animal News

Gopher Lives Under Launchpad

This gopher has a great view, but the noise is unbearable. Read more
Gopher Lives Under Launchpad: Gotta-See Videos

Shark Paradise Found

There's one place where sharks rule, living out their lives in tropical splendor in a shallow, blue bay. Read more

Zombie Bees

Poor bees. First, there's the honeybee colonies collapse disorder, then there's this: a parasite that turns bees into zombies.
Honeybees (Apis mellifera) in California and South Dakota have been observed acting zombielike, wandering away from their hives at night and crawling around blindly in circles.
These insects have been rendered insensate by a parasitizing fly that lays eggs in the bees’ bodies. After the bee dies a lonesome death, pupae crawl out and grow to adult flies that seek new bodies to infect.

How to Deal with Bees and Other Stinging Insects

Get the scoop on those winged stingers around your home-and learn how to get them to buzz off!  
-Keith Pandolfi
HoneybeeHoneybee Honeybees: What They Do Docile honeybees are essential pollinators in gardens. They nest in protected areas, like tree cavities, or within attics or walls. If aggravated, they'll sting just once; their barbed stingers rip off, killing them. (Their fatter, fuzzier bumblebee cousins can repeatedly inflict a painful sting.)

Carpenter Bees: What They Do Known for their ability to bore perfectly round holes into wood, they're often found Carpenter BeeCarpenter Beein eaves and beneath decks. As females build the nest, males flit about looking menacing, but, surprisingly, they can't sting. And while females can, they rarely do.

Yellow Jackets: What They Do
These territorial, aggressive predators feed on caterpillars, spiders, and even other bees, plus sugary carbs, which is why you see them around trash cans and backyard barbecues. They tend to build nests in small crevices in the ground. Yellow JacketsYellow Jackets

Hornets: What They Do Like yellow jackets, hornets are in the wasp family and survive on other insects and food scraps. Their large papery nests are often found in trees and under eaves. They're extremely aggressive but are more likely to sting you when you're feasting on a food they like.

See more information on stinging insects on thisoldhouse.com

Ten Species Named After Famous People

Within the space of a few days, a bloodsucking crustacean parasite has been named after reggae legend Bob Marley, and a genus of tropical fish has been given the name of British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. What is going on here?

The scientists who identify the new species get to choose a name. Often they pick one that alludes to distinguishing features of the animal, or the place it is found. Some choose the name of someone they respect, as with the Dawkinsia fish, and the parasite named after Marley.

Animal Pictures