Vaccinations for apes?
“Diseases – often transmitted by humans – are decimating great ape populations, to the point that some [experts]are now calling for vaccinating gorillas and chimpanzees,” reports Discovery News. “Over the last two decades, the Zaire strain of Ebola has killed roughly one-third of the world’s gorilla population and only a slightly smaller proportion of the world’s chimpanzees, according to a new study in the journal PLoS ONE. That means that infectious disease is now a major threat to the survival of African great apes, along with poaching and habitat loss. … Resilience of the population is key, since gorillas and chimps reproduce more slowly than most other animals, including humans. Concern is mounting because many of the diseases are spilling over from humans. On the other hand, tourism is now essential for great ape conservation, so preventing human access to wilderness areas is not a viable option.”
Dumbbells for dinner
“Brits will now be able to tone up as they eat thanks to the launch of a bizarre new cutlery set,” says Orange News U.K. “The Eat Fit Cutlery set attaches dumbbells to knife, fork and spoon, reports Metro. The hefty chrome knife and fork weigh 1 kilogram each – the equivalent of a bag of sugar. And the spoon weighs twice as much at 2 kilograms – heavier than a complete 32-piece set of stainless steel cutlery. Eat Fit Cutlery … is said to be aimed at ‘gluttons in need of a workout.’”
Luxury is a necessity
“Despite the nationwide belt-tightening that’s resulted from a four-year Great Recession and its crawling recovery, Americans continue to indulge in small luxuries, with working Americans reportedly spending around $1,100 [U.S.]a year at the corner coffee shop,” reports The Denver Post. “… American consumer spending fell only slightly on beer, wine and booze from 2006 to 2010. … Spending on cigarettes, brewed coffee, sweets and junk food actually went up over that period. … The assumption that spending on unnecessary indulgences falls simply because income goes down is false, according to Colorado State University economics professor Stephen Weiler. ‘It’s not as straightforward as people think,’ Weiler says. ‘When people are hurting, sometimes it’s those little luxuries that carry them through. They may not be able to have them quite as often, or they may have to trade down in terms of quality, but it’s the little luxuries that make living enjoyable. That becomes particularly important during times of crisis.’”
Memorials for bad guys
“Evildoers can exert power even after death,” says The Wilson Quarterly. “Followers may turn a gravesite into a shrine where they gather to stoke their fury and plot their vengeance. Fearing that possibility, the U.S. military buried Osama bin Laden at sea in May, and the Libyan governing council interred Moammar Gadhafi in an unmarked grave in October. … But it’s not just supporters who can rally round the tombstone. In Appleton, Wisc., according to the Chicago Tribune, detractors of Senator Joseph McCarthy periodically stop by St. Mary’s Cemetery, find his grave and urinate on it.”
Do you deserve a pet?
“People who rescue animals can be reluctant to believe anyone deserves the furry creatures,” says Slate.com. “Some rescue groups think potential owners shouldn’t have full-time jobs. Others reject families with children. Some rescuers think apartment dwelling is okay for humans but not for dogs, or object to a cat’s litter box being placed in a basement. Some say no to people who would let a dog run around the fenced backyard ‘unsupervised,’ or allow a cat outside, ever. It used to be that people who wanted to get an abandoned or abused animal went to the local pound, saw one they liked, paid a small fee and drove home with a new pet. Since the 1990s, however, the movement to reduce animal euthanasia and the arrival of the Internet have given rise to a new breed of rescuer. These are private groups, or even individuals, who create networks of volunteers to care for needy animals.”
Hornets, we see you
“Asian honeybees signal to their enemies – bee-eating hornets – to let them know they have been spotted,” BBC News reports. “An international team of scientists watched the bees as they guarded the entrance to their hive. The researchers described how the bees shook their abdomens when a hornet approached, a signal that triggered the hornet to retreat. They published their findings in the journal Animal Behaviour. Researchers already knew of this ‘characteristic shaking signal,’ in which all the guard bees simultaneously vibrate their abdomens from side-to-side for a few seconds when a hornet approaches the colony. In the wild, this produces a spectacular ‘Mexican wave’ of vibrating bees. This study, carried out on a small beehive, revealed the hornets ( Vespa velutina) responded directly to the bees’ shaking signal.”
Thought du jour
“Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.”
Benjamin Franklin (1706-90)
U.S. founding father, polymath