Messing up ocean life
"Increasingly acidic ocean water interferes with the internal body chemistry of many [marine]species," write Marah Hardt and Carl Safina in Scientific American magazine. "Researchers are also finding that acidification may be altering survival in other unusual ways. For example, many marine species use subtle olfactory cues to seek prey, mates or suitable habitat. Certain clownfish differentiate between attractive and repulsive smells to decide which reef and anemone to settle on for the rest of their days. … It's a new kind of LSD: lost smell disorder. … Complex, pH-regulated interactions between molecules in seawater also increase or decrease sound reception. Ocean acidification pumps up the volume; if pH declines by another 0.3 unit (within the scope predicted by 2100), oceans could be 40 per cent louder." The findings raise a warning flag, they add, because marine wildlife, especially marine mammals, depend on sound for navigation, communication, hunting and courtship.
His better half
"Japan's new prime minister has been criticized for his dress sense, described as an intellectual lightweight and accused of being unable to cook, all in a book by his wife," The Sunday Times of London reports. "Nobuko Kan said of her husband Naoto: 'I could not give him even a passing grade for his delivery of a policy speech, or for the question-and-answer sessions after he became prime minister. Nobuko complains that her husband has no interest in fashion and cannot cook 'because of bad education by me and his mother.' "
Don't grin like that
"When the historian Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes arrived in the Caribbean in the 16th century," The Week magazine reports, "he was struck by the decorative motif of a grimacing face that was popular with the native Taino people. It represented, he wrote, an 'abominable figure … with ferocious fangs and teeth.' Yet according to a new analysis of human and primate behaviour by Dutch and British scientists, these icons - carved into chairs and jewellery - more likely portrayed smiling faces of welcome, and were misunderstood by the likes of Valdes. Among rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees, 'exposed and clenched teeth are not common features of aggression,' the researchers note in the journal Current Anthropology. 'Baring teeth is most probably about social bonding.' They add that this type of error damaged interaction between natives and Europeans."
Don't roll your eyes
Last month, a city council meeting in suburban Chicago ended abruptly when a citizen was ejected for rolling her eyes and sighing - and two aldermen walked out to protest the ejection. The chairman of the committee whose plans were being discussed, said: "Making faces behind the mayor's back is disruptive, in my opinion." The city attorney has now been ordered to research the legal definitions of disorderly conduct and disruptive behaviour to allow the council to draft an ordinance surrounding non-verbal disruptions during meetings.
Source: United Press International
Don't rile librarians
A Maryland man has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for swiping a tarantula from the Westminster, Md., public library. Staff had called police as soon as they realized their spider was missing from the information desk. Randy Humple, 27, also received four years for violating his probation in a 2007 assault case, Associated Press reports.
Enough is enough
- A furious German father dumped his 14-year-old son on a highway 300 miles from home to "teach him a lesson," The Daily Telegraph reports. Another motorist witnessed the argument and was told by the father: "I'm leaving him here for his own good. It's to teach him a lesson." Officers took the chastened boy to a police station and rang his father. The man "told us he was already at home," said an officer. "He eventually agreed to come and collect his son, and when he arrived they hugged and both said sorry for shouting at each other. … [W] shall still be informing social services that this child may be at risk."
- Police in Italy have arrested a 51-year-old man whose distaste for vuvuzela horns caused him to attack a nearby bar that was blasting their music. He fired shots in the air; when these had no effect, he rammed his car through the windows of the Coco Bamboo bar at least three times.
Other source: news service
"A serial rapist who pleaded guilty to multiple counts of rape, kidnapping and robbery charges is trying to overturn his conviction by accusing interrogators of using junk food to coerce a confession," reports WMC-TV in Memphis, Tenn. "Bruce Tuck, also known as the Big-Bellied Rapist, filed a 10-page petition on his own behalf. Among other things, the 275-pound man said jailers fed him only lettuce. When they offered him chips and soda, he was quick to confess to 19 felony charges that led to a 60-year sentence."
Thought du jour
"In science you want to say something nobody ever knew before, in words everyone can understand. In poetry, you are bound to say something everyone knows already in words that nobody can understand." - Paul Dirac, theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate