Why people have the urge to squeeze cute animals to death


When I was a kid my friend and I caught some little frogs. My friend liked his frog so much he smothered it to death in his hand. Lenny, the mentally challenged giant in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, squeezed living creatures to death because he loved them so much. Why do people do this? Two Yale graduate students, Oriana Aragon and Rebecca Dyer, are conducting experiments to find out.

Dyer's hypothesis:

Some things are so cute that we just can't stand them. We think it’s about high positive-affect, an approach orientation and almost a sense of lost control. It’s so adorable, it drives you crazy. It might be that how we deal with high positive-emotion is to sort of give it a negative pitch somehow. That sort of regulates, keeps us level and releases that energy.

"This aggression may be the brain’s response to the overwhelming joy incurred by such creatures (similar to how some people cry when intensely happy)."

Why Do We Smother Cute Things?

Scarab beetle armoire


Designer Janis Straupe created the BUG armoire for True Latvia. I love the way the neatly fitted boards look like a blown-up grain, making the whole thing seem like a scarab under a magnifying lens. The piece is also extremely beautiful when it is partially opened, each set of doors making it seem more like a fantasy jewel box blown up to a delightful, comic scale. And check out the detail shots for the incredible skill and thoughtfulness that went into the interior compartments!

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Bombs filled with bats carrying incendiary devices


In January of 1942, as the U.S was entering World War II, a Pennsylvania dentist (and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt) named Lytle Adams submitted the design of a new weapon to the White House, suggesting that it could be effective against the Japanese. Adams’ creation was a bomb that would drop over 800 hibernating bats – to each of which was attached a small incendiary device… as the bomb descended from a high-altitude drop, the bats would awaken, disperse, and nest in structures – which in Japan at the time were largely made of bamboo, paper, and other highly-flammable material. Later in the day the incendiaries would go off, starting fires across a wide area. Adams estimated that 100 bombs might start as many a 1,000,000 fires.

The U.S. military developed the “Bat Bomb”; and while the yields were never quite what Adams predicted, they were impressive enough to drive investment of an estimated $2 million. The project was abandoned only when it became clear that the Manhattan Project would finish before the Bat Bomb was ready.

(More about bats and bombs on Boing Boing)

How animals talk in foreign parts


Here's "the world's biggest" list of how animal noises are written in the world's languages, from bees to woodcocks, from Danish to Urdu. Pigs are especially great: "øf-øf; knor knor; oink; nöff; groin groin; grunz; röf-röf (pron: reuf-reuf); oink; boo boo; hrgu-hrgu ; oink; oinc; nöff-nöff."

Animal Sounds (via Dan Hon)

Chimps beat humans at game theory

In Chimpanzee choice rates in competitive games match equilibrium game theory predictions, a paper in Nature by Colin Camerer and colleagues, researchers document the astounding performance of chimpanzees in classic game-theory experiments -- a performance that's substantially superior to humans who play the same games:

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SF woman enjoys breeding rats and releasing them in city parks.


A San Francisco woman with the moniker "Rat Girl" engages in an unusual pastime: "breeding hundreds of rats in her home and then releasing them into public parks." Authorities say they are powerless to stop her.

It could be worse. She could be breeding politicians.

Knitted anatomical dissections: readymade or DIY

We've featured the lovely knitted dissections of Aknitomy before (previously), but its proprietor, Emily Stoneking, keeps on turning out whimisico-scientific knitted fancies that please the eye and tickle the mind. It's not just her classic knitted dissections of frogs, fetal pigs, bats, worms (surprisingly affordable!), and even Easter bunnies -- she's also selling all her patterns, and even kits!

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Snake wiggles tip of tail to attract worm-eating prey

[Video Link] Wikipedia: "Caudal luring is the use of tail movements employed by a predator to attract prey animals." (Via Arbroath)

Nudibranch pancakes


Every week, a new delight from Pancake Master Nathan "Saipancakes" Shields: this week, An assortment of Pacific coast nudibranchs. (previously)

Indianajonesian Monkey brains bowl


Firebox's £35 monkey brains bowl doesn't go in the microwave or dishwasher, but it is, technically, food-safe. I'm thinking expensive, Maharajah of Pankot-themed pen pot (though you'll have to figure out what to do with the lid).

Monkey Brains Bowl (via Cnet)

Custom-made squid body-pillows


Jordan is taking orders for custom-made, fleece-and-felt squid body-pillows, in 8' ($75) and 4' ($40) sizes. He's offering a very wide-range of customization options, including firmness, fabric, color, and patterns.

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Surveillance camera bird-feeder


Thinkgeek's Security Camera Birdfeeder ($15.99) is a bit of gallows humor for the post-Snowden age. Feed animals in your yard while they perch unwittingly into an icon of the corporate-government surveillance apparatus, and try not to think about the CCTVs -- metaphorical and literal -- watching you as you watch them. Then ask yourself: "Who's the birdbrain around here?"

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Slug pancakes


Pancake virtuosos Nathan "Saipancakes" Shields (previously) showcases his latest carbo-parental masterpiece: a set of slugs produced with his kids in tribute to their garden invaders (there's also a bonus Jabba!).

Slugs

Octoploid & Bartholomew the Rhinoceros: Assemblage sculpture/junkbots from Jud Turner


The brilliant found-object/assemblage sculptor Jud Turner (previously) has unveiled two new pieces: Bartholomew the Rhinoceros, a "half-life-size" rhino made from motorcycle and snowmobile parts; and Octoploid, the standout of the two (though it's a close-run thing), which is headed for Reantus's offices.

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Build Your Own Mason Bee House

With raspberries, blueberries and flowering plants in our wooded yard, we need all the friendly pollinators we can get. But Bob Knetzger’s wife is extremely allergic to bee stings, so what to do? Build a Mason bee house!

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