The new Internet kittens
"Cats of the Internet, move aside – but take your time, because your replacement is moving very slowly," writes Maura Judkis of The Washington Post. "Baby sloths are the new Internet darling, thanks to a sloth sanctuary recently featured on Animal Planet. A video of its occupants went viral and now online denizens can't get enough of the Central and South American mammal. The Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica kicked off the craze when, last year, Lucy Cooke posted video of baby sloths sleeping, scratching and slowly chewing veggies. According to Popular Science, Ms. Cooke was contacted by the Discovery Channel shortly afterwards, and a sloth documentary was in the works. Too Cute! Baby Sloths aired … on Dec. 17, and Ms. Cooke plans to write a book called The Little Book of Sloth."
Sounds and the city
"According to new research, nine out of 10 city-dwellers are exposed to enough loud noise that it puts them in danger of hearing loss," says The Huffington Post. "But where does the damaging noise come from? Surprisingly, it comes more from MP3 players and stereos than it does from the rattling, rumbling subways or loud, booming workplaces, researchers found." Scientists, from the University of Michigan school of public health, conducted their study on 4,500 New York residents.
Butting out gets harder
"A new study of twins led by the University of Colorado Boulder, shows that today's smokers are more strongly influenced by genetic factors than in the past and that the influence makes it more difficult for them to quit," says the university. "'In the past, when smoking rates were higher, people smoked for a variety of reasons,' said sociology professor Fred Pampel, a study co-author. 'Today, the composition of the smoking population has changed. Smokers are more likely to be hard-core users who are most strongly influenced by genetic factors.'"
– Young workaholics in Russia are sometimes referred to as "office plankton," reports The New York Times.
– Smidsy ("sorry mate, I didn't see you") road accidents occur when a driver hits a bicyclist he hasn't noticed, says BBC News.
Don't drink and rob
"Authorities say a Tampa Bay, Fla., area man ordered a beer at a bar, left to rob a nearby bank then came back to finish his beer," reports Associated Press. "The Pasco County Sheriff's Office says John Robin Whittle was arrested at the Hayloft Bar in Port Richey on Thursday afternoon. Deputies say he's the man who robbed a Wells-Fargo bank branch earlier, but not before stopping off at the Hayloft for a brew. A bartender there says Mr. Whittle ordered a beer, disappeared for about 30 minutes and then returned to his beer. Deputies say they arrested him at the bar about 10 minutes after he left the bank."
A diagnostic bullet
"At first, getting shot by an assault rifle in an Orange Blossom Trail motel room seemed like a bad thing," says The Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel. "Now, Dan D'Amato says it likely saved his life. That's because, were it not for the bullet wound, doctors may not have found the massive tumour that was festering in his lung. Mr. D'Amato, 45, says he views the shooting as a catalyst to change his life by shedding bad habits and improving his health. However, the gunman who opened fire at the Knights Inn last month remains at large … Surveillance video of the incident shows Mr. D'Amato's assailant, a man with what appears to be an AK-47 standing outside the room [where there was a '24-hour party' going on]and firing numerous rounds into the walls and windows. It's not clear who was targeted in the shooting."
Extreme child support
"The unkind act of butchering and eating your mate after sex, typified by the black widow spider and praying mantis, may make for healthier babies, new research suggests," reports Jennifer Welsh for LiveScience. "The researchers found that a male orb-web spider makes the ultimate evolutionary sacrifice: giving his life for the health of his offspring. … In the orb-web spider Argiope bruennichi, the female tries to grab and wrap up the male at the onset of mating so she can snack on him during the sex. In the lab, only about 30 per cent of the males survive their first mating, but by letting the female gnaw on them, the males prolong the sex act, making it more likely they will inseminate their partner. Of these survivors, half go on to find a second mate, while the others try again for the same female."
Thought du jour
"Never drink black coffee at lunch; it will keep you awake all afternoon." – Jilly Cooper (1937- ), British journalist and author