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social studies

There’s a reason why you never see a fat cockroach Add to ...

Roaches lay off sweets

“Everyone knows that cockroaches are the ultimate survivors, with enough evolutionary tricks up their [sleeve] to have thrived for 350 million years and to have completely adapted to the human species,” says The New York Times. “But the nature of the adaptation that researchers in North Carolina described … in the journal Science is impressive even for such an ancient, ineradicable lineage, experts say. Some populations of cockroaches evolved a simple, highly effective defence against sweet-tasting poison baits: They switched their internal chemistry around so that glucose, a form of sugar that is a sweet come-hither to countless forms of life, tastes bitter.”

Atlantic storms, 2013

Weather forecasters are predicting another busy Atlantic hurricane season, says Associated Press. The storms will get their names from this list: Andrea, Barry, Chantal, Dorian, Erin, Fernand, Gabrielle, Humberto, Ingrid, Jerry, Karen, Lorenzo, Melissa, Nestor, Olga, Pablo, Rebekah, Sebastien, Tanya, Van and Wendy. There are six lists for the Atlantic, maintained by the World Meteorological Organization, that are used in rotation. This year’s list will be used again in 2019.

Working for a meal

“With Spain hit hard by an economic downturn, a recently opened restaurant in Terrassa, Catalonia, has found a way to offer the unemployed a helping hand,” reports The Huffington Post. “Terrassa’s city council teamed up with local charities to fund a restaurant that hosts a ‘work exchange scheme.’ The program allows those who are unable to afford meals to pay for their food by volunteering for an hour at the restaurant. These customers, who usually have been out of work for two to three years, can serve, clean or help out in the kitchen in exchange for a full-course meal. … Spanish news source El Pais estimates that half of the establishment’s business comes from regular customers and the other half comes from volunteers.”

Thanks, Dad

Finding the perfect partner can be a family affair for many in China, writes Shi Yingying in China Daily, reporting from a matchmaking party in Shanghai. “[W]hen their bashful offspring are too shy to approach a potential partner, eager Chinese parents decide to step in and help in their own way. ‘My daughter is waiting outside the gate. She feels embarrassed because I’m too well-prepared for the event,’ said Lu Fang, 67, referring to the long plastic banner he’d set up in the centre of the venue, which displayed personal information about his daughter, a 40-year-old doctor at Shanghai’s Huashan Hospital. Her ideal prospective groom is a ‘responsible man with stable income’ and who ideally ‘owns an apartment and a car.’”

Thanks, Mom

“Police in Charlotte, N.C., said a woman called authorities and had her juvenile son arrested for stealing her Pop-Tarts,” reports United Press International. “Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said officers responded to the woman’s home Monday and she reported her juvenile son had stolen her breakfast pastries. The boy was placed under arrest on a charge of larceny/misdemeanour. WCNC-TV said the woman, whose name was not reported, refused to comment at her home, choosing instead to shout an obscenity and slam the door.”

Ignoring the obvious

“Those who are more intelligent tend to be slower than average at spotting the movement of large and obtrusive objects in their field of view, a study found,” reports The Daily Telegraph. “In contrast, they are better than average at spotting smaller moving objects which demand closer attention, suggesting that their brains operate in a more ‘selective’ way. The findings suggest that the brains of very intelligent people are more efficient because they can prioritize smaller details while ignoring the obvious, researchers said.” The study is published in the journal Current Biology.

Thought du jour

The amount of genuine leisure available in a society is generally in inverse proportion to the amount of labour-saving machinery it employs.

E.F. Schumacher, German-born economist (1911-77)

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