…New Hammerhead Species Discovered/Localized in S.C., iPod Trumps Beer in College, Ronald McDonald Returns to Fla. Home, and Much More.
Ron Returns Home; Resumes Civic Duties
Foremost, we wish to celebrate with a McDonalds in Miramar Beach. You see, nearly a week after Ronald McDonald disappeared from a bench outside a McDonald’s restaurant in the Florida town, the fast food icon was found sprawled in front of a house on Matthews Street. (Oh, it’s a statue, folks.)
Duct tape covered his mouth and Mardi Gras beads hung around his neck. A typed note taped to his chest gave few clues as to where he spent the last six days: “I went out for a little vacation, sorry for the fuss,” the note began. “But I’m back now. I didn’t mean to cause such a problem, but maybe you should bolt me down better next time.”
The note asked that whoever found Ronald return him to the nearest McDonald’s so that he could resume his “civic duties.”
It was signed, “Love, Ron.”
Genes May Influence Who Becomes an Entrepreneur
When it comes to being an entrepreneur, said scientists on Monday, forget family influence and upbringing — as genes seem to play an important role.
A study of identical twins by researchers in Britain and the U.S. suggests family environment has little influence because nearly half of a person’s propensity to be self-employed, or entrepreneurial, is due to genes, reports Reuters.
By comparing self-employment in 609 pairs of identical twins, who share all the same genes, and 657 pairs of non-identical twins, scientists at Imperial College, London and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland analyzed the impact of genetics and environment on entrepreneurs. The rate of entrepreneurs among twins was found to be the same as in the general population. Identical twins increased the odds of their twins following the same path more than non-identical twins, which suggests genes are important.
“Evidence has shown that genetic factors influence a variety of business-related areas from job satisfaction to vocational interests and work values,” said Professor Tim Spector of St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
Do Not Anger Your Tech Staff, Pt. 2118
Last week we covered the trend of tech guys joining fight clubs (Item 1). Well, now comes another reason not to make your IT folks angry.
The Independent reports that Roger Duronio, a former computer programmer at investment banking giant UBS, denies planting a so-called “logic bomb” that crippled 2,000 computers across UBS’s stockbroking unit Paine Webber and cost the company $3.1 million to repair in February 2002.
According to testimony on Thursday, on the day Duronio learned his annual bonus had fallen short by about $15,000, he leveled an ultimatum at his boss: give him a written contract for more money or he was quitting. But prosecutors say Duronio had already hatched a plan to plant malicious code on the network that would wipe out critical data across the country and drive down the company’s stock price. Once Duronio was escorted out the building, he headed straight to a broker’s office to buy stock options that would pay out if UBS suffered a setback.
And that, the government contends, put the final stages of Duronio’s plot into action.
Shrunken Liver, Shrunken Heart, Fat Brain
So it’s about that time of the year to hit the beach. And when you do, no doubt you’ll see that person; you know the type…who lies out on a towel for what seems like all day. But this seems unhealthy, as it can get really hot. Sure, you can drink lots of water, use sunscreen or maybe pitch one of those ridiculously massive umbrellas to beat the heat.
Or do as gazelles do: shrink your liver and heart.
In an extreme way to beat the heat, a sand gazelle shrinks its liver and heart to cope with long periods of drought, a new study reveals. This makes the sand gazelle stand apart in dealing with the extremely hot temperatures and unpredictable rain in the arid Arabian Peninsula’s deserts.
Organs such as the liver and heart require significant amounts of oxygen to function. By shrinking these organs, the gazelles don’t have to breathe as much and thus reduce the amount of water lost by respiratory evaporation. Water-deprived sand gazelles also have a higher fat content in their brains. The researchers suggest that these stores might be beneficial for fueling brain metabolism during prolonged food and water deprivation.
‘Course, if you can do that, you’ll have to deal with the stigma that accompanies such a survival technique: being called a “fat brain”…which, come to think of it, may not be such a bad thing.
Ky. Gov.’s Press Secretary Quits After Dropping F-Bomb
Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s director of communications, Brett Hall, has resigned after he “misspoke” last week when he used a profanity while answering reporters’ questions about Fletcher’s desire that Lt. Gov. Steve Pence resign.
According to The Lexington Herald-Leader, when asked if Fletcher planned to resign, Hall said, “F— no, he’s not going to resign.”
In February, Hall was criticized for using profanity in an interview with Herald-Leader religion reporter Frank Lockwood, who was working on a follow-up story about the governor’s prayer breakfast.
Eh, sometimes ya’ just can’t help it.
We Don’t Like the Sound of This…No, Not At All
A “genetically distinct species” of the hammerhead shark has been discovered and appears to be rare and localized to the South Carolina coast, which means it is at high risk for extinction and makes the state’s coastal waters crucial for conservation efforts. Many shark species in the northwestern Atlantic have declined in recent years.
According to the Florida Museum of Natural History Web site, hammerheads are considered potentially dangerous sharks. The International Shark Attack File documents 21 unprovoked attacks with 2 resulting fatalities for all species of the genus Sphyrna. Scalloped hammerheads have been reported to display threatening postures when closely approached by divers on some occasions while other times they show no aggressive behaviors.
Classified under the genus sphyrna, the new species is the ninth recognized in the hammerhead family and will be called the “cryptic species” until a formal description is pronounced.
How’s this for a formal description: “SWEET HOLY ZISSOU, THAT HELL FISH IS HEADING STRAIGHT TOWARD US!!”
Ugly to the Point of Innovation
Australian researchers have launched a search for the country’s ugliest sheep — “no matter how wrinkled, lumpy, bald or just plain funny looking” — to try to identify genes that produce high-quality wool, reports The Associated Press.
Australia’s merino wool industry is worth about 2.8 billion Australian dollars (US$2.1 billion) each year, and so scientists hope to use the study to produce higher-quality wool to compete with increasingly popular synthetic fibers.
“Through the latest DNA-based technology, it’s the ugly sheep that will help us make quantum leaps to advance the qualities of Australian merino wool to make it more stretchy, less scratchy, shinier and easier to spin,” says Paul Hynd, a researcher from the University of Adelaide, which launched the study with the South Australian Research and Development Institute this week.
Meanwhile, a paperclip caused traffic signals at Ashland, Wisconsin’s busiest intersection to go haywire. Irony ensued.
Collegians Stun Country; Music Trumps Booze
Here at the blog, we really don’t understand young people today. Look, we’re not endorsing or promoting alcoholism in college, but…
In a rare instance, the iPod music player surpassed beer drinking as the most “in” thing among undergraduate college students, according to the latest biannual market research study by Student Monitor. Nearly three quarters, or 73 percent, of 1,200 students surveyed said iPods were “in” — more than any other item in a list that also included text messaging, bar hopping and downloading music, reports AP.
This year, drinking beer and social networking site Facebook.com were tied for second most popular, with 71 percent.
The only other time beer was temporarily dethroned in the 18 years of the survey was in 1997 — by the Internet, said Eric Weil, a managing partner at Student Monitor.
::sigh:: Our nation is losing yet another of its wonderfully questionable traditions.
A Guinness for the New World Kingpin
Forty-year-old Dave Wilson became an unofficial world-record holder last Saturday after bowling for more than 100 consecutive hours, reports Cincinnati’s The Enquirer.
To break the record, he had to bowl non-stop — with witnesses — with only a 15-minute break per eight-hour stretch. Wilson kept an online journal via blog of his efforts. He also set up a Webcam that updated every 15 seconds.
By the end — after hallucinations, sleep deprivation, momentary blackouts and aching muscles — he had bowled 481 games over 102 hours, 1 minute and 25 seconds, raising more than $13,000 for charities.
The first thing he did after he set the ball down was to drink a Guinness Stout to celebrate his world record.
Well played, sir.
Special Forces to Use Strap-On ‘Batwings’
Finally, Britain’s elite special-forces troops being dropped behind enemy lines on covert missions may ditch their traditional parachutes in favor of…strap-on stealth wings.
According to The Daily Mail, lightweight carbon fiber mono-wings will allow troops to jump from high altitudes and then glide 120 miles or more before landing — making them almost impossible to spot, as their aircraft can avoid flying anywhere near the target.
The manufacturers claim German company ESG’s wing is “100 percent silent” and “extremely difficult” to track using radar. Further, weapons, ammunition, food and water can all be stowed inside the wing, although concealing the 6 ft. wings after landing could prove harder than burying a traditional parachute.