South Georgia Island (population 20), due east off the tip of South America, had no rodents until 18th-century sailing ships accidentally introduced them. After seven years of work, the island is now rodent-free, allowing native birds to recover. Read the rest
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.
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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
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":
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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.
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
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.
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Is this a restaurant? Bonus points for the unintentional Minecraft mobs sound effects. Read the rest
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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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
Rats can tread water for up to three days, and hold their breath under water for three minutes. Read the rest
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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