If you enjoy the irony in the fact that the great East Coast blackout of 2003 was largely caused by a few untrimmed trees, then you're going to love Jon Mooallem's account of how America's squirrels are wreaking havoc on America's electricity system.
Using a Google news alert, he's cataloged 50 squirrel-caused power outages in 24 states — and that's just since Memorial Day. These aren't small outages either. Several of them have cut power to thousands of people at a time. Back in 1994, a squirrel took out the Nasdaq. These are kamikaze raids and they've led to an interesting phenomenon — technology developed specifically to protect our infrastructure from furry, tree-hopping rodents.
Pictured: The face of pure evil, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from binaryape's photostream
[Video Link] Matthew says: "Mark Brown, a self-described Tennessee 'Hillbilly' YouTuber, posts videos of himself and his pet raccoon, Rebekah. After Brown racked up over a million views from his YouTube channel, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency visited his home and seized Rebekah. Brown suspects the agency decided to seize his pet after his video went viral, but a representative from the wildlife agency claims a neighbor's complaint led to Rebekah's removal. Brown is now trying to get Rebekah released."
In which Nemo's mother dies, his father switches sex, and Nemo grows up into a male in order to mate with his now-female living parent
. It's the ciiiiirrrrrcle of liiiiffffe! — Maggie
Turns out, it doesn't kill absolutely everybody it infects. A 12-year-old girl in Arkansas is recovering
from her battle with the killer single-celled organism. She's the third known person to survive. Nobody knows yet how she, or the other survivors, made it through. Why? Well, that's more (sort of) good news. There've only been 130 recorded cases of brain-eating amoeba infection since 1962. It's so rare, that it's difficult for doctors to study. — Maggie
The American Quarter Horse Association has been ordered to accept cloned horses into its registry by a jury in the courtoom of U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lou Robinson. They were sued by a pair of Texas breeders, who said the organization's practice of excluding cloned horses was monopolistic. The judge did rule on awarding costs to the breeders, who spent some $900,000 on the case.
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An anonymous Internet fellow had the back of his scalp tattooed with a rather fetching angry monkey. I'm not sure if he had his head shaved and inked, or if this is male-pattern baldness, but I would appreciate any background you could provide in our comments.
Experts from the Danish National History Museum have warned that pacus -- a relative of the piranha -- have been spotted in the Danish/Swedish Øresund channel. The pacu has been known to bite swimmers, and have been known to attack men's testicles, because "testicles sit nicely in their mouth." So men are being cautioned to avoid nude swimming in the channel, though the museum's Henrik Carl stresses that the risk is not very high, in the grand scheme of things: "You're more likely to drown than get your nuts bitten off."
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I don't usually read books about pets, but something about A Street Cat Named Bob intrigued me, and once I started reading it I found I couldn't put it down. It's about a heroin-addicted London street busker named James Bowen who finds an injured stray cat and nurses him back to health. This simple act of kindness to an animal had a profound effect on Bowen's life. Enjoy the following excerpt.
I had to take Bob to a vet. I set my alarm early and got up to give the cat a bowl of mashed biscuits and tuna. It was another grey morning, but I knew I couldn’t use that as an excuse.
Inside the center, it was like stepping into a scene from hell. It was packed, mostly with dogs and their owners, most of whom seemed to be young teenage blokes with skinhead haircuts and aggressive tattoos. Seventy per cent of the dogs were Staffordshire Bull Terriers that had almost certainly been injured in fights with other dogs, probably for people’s amusement.
People always talk about Britain as a ‘nation of animal lovers’. There wasn’t much love on display here, that was for sure. The way some people treat their pets really disgusts me.
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Valérie Choumet at Paris's Institut Pasteur anaesthetized a mouse, stuck a microscope in a flap of its skin, and induced a mosquito to bite it. The result is the best footage yet of the weird, flexible, questing mouth of a mosquito, which can bend and twist and fork as it seeks out blood vessels.
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Letters of Note has a 1952 letter from EB White to his editor, Ursula Nordstrom, occasioned by the impending Harper & Row publication of Charlotte's Web. Asked to explain why he wrote the book, he describes, beautifully, the circumstances of how he came to write it. But when he gets to the end, he says, "I haven't told why I wrote the book, but I haven't told you why I sneeze, either. A book is a sneeze." That guy -- he should think of taking up writing.
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A paper in Royal Society Biology Letter by University of Toronto biologist Lucia Kwan describes the strange, adversarial clawed sex-organs of some guppies. Kwan experimented with shaving the barbs off of the penises of some male guppies to investigate the relative advantages of claws for mating with "unreceptive females." She concluded that the claws were a "sexually antagonistic trait" that evolved to allow males to force females to mate with them.
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If you've paid any attention to the Internet over the last few years you're probably aware that real life ducks are not exactly as friendly and personable as the ones in cartoons.
What if children's television reflected the fact that real duck life has more in common with, say, Oz, than Duck Tales? It would probably look a lot like this.
May be NSFW.
The 3-Bee printing project was a collaboration between a bee-keeper and an artist who created sculptural hives designed to encourage bees to deposit their wax in a specific way, producing a gorgeous "print." It was sponsored by a booze company, and the video makes you wait until the very end to see the cool thing, but that's what the little timeline slider on the bottom is for. Skip to 2:55 for the awesome.
Film: A 3D sculpture built by 80,000 bees? Bee-have yourself!
Artist Alexis Diaz painted this beautiful elephant-headed octopus mural near my flat in East London; I've just got back from Comic-Con and I'm going to make a special detour tomorrow to see it in person. According to Colossal, the mural took a week to paint.