Friday, May 16, 2008
- Crazy Rasberry ants [Paratrechina sp. near pubens] have invaded Houston, and they're eating the electronics. "Crazy" refers to their erratic swarming movements, unlike many species' neat linear lockstep; and "Rasberry" comes from Tom Rasberry, the Texas exterminator first credited with noticing them on a job:
"I think they go into everything, and they don't follow any kind of structured line. If you open a computer, you would find a cluster of ants on the motherboard and all over. You'd get 3,000 or 4,000 ants inside, and they create arcs. They'll wipe out any computer." [Rasberry in Computerworld, via iTWire]Patsy Morphew of Pearland, Texas told the Houston Chronicle,
"They crawl through the eaves of the house and go into the bathroom. You know what it's like to sit down on the commode with crazy ants running everywhere?"They're also chewing up wiring at NASA's Johnson Space Center, they're poison-resistant, and they eat fire ants for lunch. [Image from Super Toy Archive Collectible Store, "Blue Army Ants"]
- "Cupcakes" made of meatloaf, with mashed potato icing. Mmm. [via Slashfood]
- Ancient Geeks [like moi] can get detailed pinout schemata for thousands of obsolete audio, video and computer connectors at Pinouts.ru.
- Want to improve the subtle flavors of Two, Three, Four Buck Chuck? You may not have to splurge on plonk, just your MP3 collection: according to a Heriot Watt University study, the type of music played to accompany wine can influence taste perceptions by almost 60% [BBC]:
The researchers said cabernet sauvignon was most affected by "powerful and heavy" music, and chardonnay by "zingy and refreshing" sounds. ...According to the story, Montes Wines recommends you listen to Blondie's "Atomic" when sipping Chardonnay, Vangelis' "Chariots of Fire" alongside Syrah, and "Sitting On The Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding to put some soul in your Merlot. [via Clusterflock]
The white wine was rated 40% more zingy and refreshing when that music was played, but only 26% more mellow and soft when music in that category was heard. The red was altered 25% by mellow and fresh music, yet 60% by powerful and heavy music. The results were put down to "cognitive priming theory", where the music sets up the brain to respond to the wine in a certain way.
...[Previously] Prof. North [of Heriot Watt] conducted supermarket research which suggested people were five times more likely to buy French wine than German wine if accordion music was played in the background. If an oompah band was played, the German product outsold the French by two to one [Emphasis mine - LR].
- Smithsonian Magazine's Joan Acocella contemplates why New Yorkers are perceived as being so rude:
In my experience, many people believe that New Yorkers are smarter than other Americans, and this may actually be true. The majority of people who live in New York City were not born here. Indeed, more than a third were not born in the United States. New Yorkers, then, are people who left another place and came here, looking for something, which suggests that the population is preselected for higher energy and ambition. ...Full disclosure: I myself am a former New Yorker.
But I think it's also possible that New Yorkers just appear smarter, because they make less separation between private and public life. That is, they act on the street as they do in private. In the United States today, public behavior is ruled by a kind of compulsory cheer that people probably picked up from television and advertising and that coats their transactions in a smooth, shiny glaze, making them seem empty-headed. New Yorkers have not yet gotten the knack of this. That may be because so many of them grew up outside the United States, and also because they live so much of their lives in public, eating their lunches in parks, riding to work in subways. It's hard to keep up the smiley face for that many hours a day.
It is said that New Yorkers are rude, but I think what people mean by that is that New Yorkers are more familiar. [read full article]
Labels: links du jour