New York's rat population has genetically diverged into "uptown" and "downtown" subpopulation

Matthew Combs, a Fordham University Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station grad student worked with colleagues from Fordham and the Providence College Department of Biology to sequence the genomes of brown rats in Manhattan, and made a surprising discovery: the geography of rats has a genetic correlation, so a geneticist can tell where a rat was born and raised by analyzing its DNA. Read the rest

An update from the War on Rats

I cut back the vegetation around my home, as it had grown up too high over the wild rainy season and hot summer. Rats had taken over the brush and ivy. My landscaping left them nowhere to go. Nowhere but my woodshed... Read the rest

How musician Dan Deacon collaborated with real rats for the Rat Film soundtrack

Today, Dan Deacon, composer of avant-EDM, freaky electro, and contemporary classical works, released his score for Theo Anthony's new documentary Rat Film, about the history of Baltimore told through its rodent population. Deacon's collaborators for the score? Actual rats. From NPR's All Things Considered, Deacon's explanation of how the rats worked with him on the track above, titled "Redlining":

At the onset of the project, [director] Theo [Anthony] asked me if I could make music with rats. After some thought, my brain landed on the concept of an enclosure made out of theremins (one of the first electronic instruments ever invented and played by hand gestures). As the rats moved from one corner to another, the pitch and volume would change and create these odd harmonies. I was able to record not just the sound, but a digital conversion of the voltage, which proved the most useful. 'Redlining,' a piece for a Disklavier player piano (a self-playing piano that takes incoming MIDI data from a computer), is one of the products of that rat theremin performance/experiment. Using the rat movements as rhythmic data and a rough pitch contour, I began the process of editing together my favorite sections and conforming the note data to a scale. I wanted the tone to be emotionally ambivalent, in parallel with the narration. I wanted the viewer/listener to project their own feeling from their reactions to the content Theo was presenting. The music couldn't be too steering or it would take away from the experience.

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Malware sucks: crappy code makes it easy to hack hackers

Common Remote Access Trojan (RAT) tools -- which allow hackers to remotely control hijacked computers, from the cameras and mics to the hard-drive and keyboard -- are very badly written and it's easy to hijack computers running the "command and control" components that malicious hackers use to control RATted systems. Read the rest

Watch gibbons freak out about a rat scurrying through their enclosure

At Keswick, UK's Lake District Wildlife Park, someone caught footage of what happened when a rat snuck into the gibbon enclosure. I bet the rat won't be back anytime soon.

(via DIGG)

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Count the number of rats climbing this pole when the light is turned on

Is this a restaurant? Bonus points for the unintentional Minecraft mobs sound effects. Read the rest

Watch out for the remote-controlled Pizza Rat!

PrankvsPrank turned a remote-controlled car into the infamous pizza-loving rat to terrorize unwitting passers-by. How-To video below:

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NYC rats walking upright, holding rodent Burning Man

Pizza Rat was just the most brazen example of the rats that are apparently ravaging New York City this year. Apparently it's a record year for the number of rodent complaint calls that citizens have made to the city of New York.

Manhattan Upper West Side resident Nora Prentice says this about an infestation of hundreds of rats in her neighborhood park:

"It's like the Burning Man of rats," she told the Associated Press. "They're just sitting there in a lawn chair waiting for you."

Meanwhile city comptroller Scott Stringer has noticed that rodent evolution has apparently gone awry: "I've seen rats walking upright, saying, 'Good morning, Mr. Comptroller,'" he said. "It's unsightly to see rats running through neighborhoods like they actually bought a co-op somewhere."

I suggest that the city issue every brave soul a copy of Ike Matthews' 1898 classic book "Full Revelations of a Professional Rat-Catcher After 25 Years' Experience." Read the rest

How rats can swim up your toilet to terrorize you

Rats can tread water for up to three days, and hold their breath under water for three minutes. Read the rest

UK schools' "anti-radicalisation" software lets hackers spy on kids

The spyware that Impero supplies to UK schools -- which searches kids' Internet use for "jihadi" terms -- uses "password" as its default password, and the company has threatened brutal legal reprisals against the researcher who repeatedly demonstrated their total security negligence. Read the rest

Malware authors use Gmail drafts as dead-drops to talk to bots

Once you've successfully infected your victim's computer with malware, you want to be able to send it orders -- so you spawn an invisible Internet Explorer window, login to an anonymous Gmail account, and check in the Drafts folder for secret orders. Read the rest

Mobile malware infections race through Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution

The protesters are dependent on mobile apps to coordinate their huge, seemingly unstoppable uprising, and someone -- maybe the Politburo, maybe a contractor -- has released virulent Ios and Android malware into their cohort, and the pathogens are blazing through their electronic ecosystem. Read the rest

Hundreds of US police forces have distributed malware as "Internet safety software"

Law enforcement agencies have been buying and distributing Computercop, advising citizens that the software is the "first step" for protecting their kids; one sheriff bought copies for every family in the county. Read the rest

CEO of stalkerware company arrested

Hammad Akbar, a Pakistani national and CEO of Invocode, marketers of Stealthgenie, was arrested in LA on Saturday and charged with a variety of offenses related to making, marketing and selling "interception devices." Read the rest

The Rat King: On the Fascinations (and Revulsions) of Rattus

In what he calls "an Experiment in Controlled Digression," Mark Dery touches on xenogastronomy, ortolan, Edible Dormouse, Victor Hugo's fondness for rat pâté, rat-baiting as a betting sport in Victorian times, the rat as New York's unofficial mascot, Luis Buñuel's pet rat, scientific research into such pressing questions as whether rats laugh, and whether rats will inherit the Earth as a result of climate change, Dracula's dominion over rats, and of course the (cryptozoological myth? well-documented phenomenon?) of the Rat King.

Who wants a cruise ship that might be filled with possibly diseased rats?

Perhaps you've heard of the Russian cruise ship that was abandoned in the North Atlantic and is now, possibly, floating towards a landfall in England? (Or, it might have sunk a while ago. Nobody is really sure.) Anyway, here's a fun fact: According to maritime law, if you can find the thing and take control of her (which may, or may not, involve fighting off armies of cannibal rats) then you own her. Read the rest

Michael Jackson loved rodents

Here is Michael Jackson, age 14, singing "Ben" at the Oscars in 1973. Of course, "Ben" was the theme song of a horror film with the same name. This clip was shown in court on Friday during the trial in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Michael Jackson's three children and his mother Katherine against AEG Live. From CNN:

"He liked that song because he liked the rats," his mother said.

She then told a story about discovering her son had a mouse in his pocket during dinner at a Beverly Hills restaurant. "I was very upset with him."

"Michael Jackson's mom faces cross examination in death trial" Read the rest

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