After he'd been stung by almost everything, entomologist Justin O. Schmidt created the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, a four-point scale comparing the overall pain of insect stings:
* 1.0 - Sweat bee: "Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm."
* 1.2 - Fire ant: "Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch."
* 1.8 - Bullhorn acacia ant: "A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek."
* 2.0 - Bald-faced hornet: "Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door."
* 2.0 - Yellowjacket: "Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue."
* 3.0 - Red harvester ant: "Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail."
* 3.0 - Paper wasp: "Caustic and burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut."
* 4.0 - Pepsis wasp: "Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream)."
* 4.0+ - Bullet ant: "Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel."
One morning not long ago, an American entomologist named Justin Schmidt was making his way up the winding road to the Monteverde cloud forest in Costa Rica when he spotted Parachartergus fraternus, social wasps known both for the sculptured architecture of their hives and the ferocity with which they defend them. This hive was 10 feet up a tree, and the tree angled out from an eroded bank over a gorge. Schmidt, who specializes in the study of stinging insects, got out a plastic garbage bag and shinnied up to bag the hive.
"There's always a few that get out," he says, so he took the precaution of putting on his beekeeper's veil. Undeterred, the angry wasps charged his face, scootched their hind ends underneath their bodies in midair, and, from a range of four inches, squirted venom through the veil straight into his eyes. "There I was, 10 feet up a tree, holding a bag of live wasps in one hand, basically blinded with pain."
Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have asked Eric Holder to make a commitment, before he is even confirmed, that he will not prosecute any Bush Administration officials for their involvement in acts of torture during the last administration.
WASHINGTON—A team of nine specially trained handlers have successfully lured outgoing vice president Dick Cheney into a reinforced steel traveling crate in order to transport him back to his permanent enclosure in Casper, WY, official sources reported Monday. "He's a smart one. Once he sees the crate, he gets pretty nippy, but we've learned a few tricks over the years," chief VP wrangler Ted Irving breathlessly said while applying pressure to a deep gash on his forearm. "If we break a rabbit's legs and throw it in there, he will eventually go in to finish it off. Doesn't work with dead rabbits, though. Cheney only eats what he kills." Irving said that the latest vice presidential relocation went much more smoothly than September's diplomatic trip to Georgia, which was delayed for several hours after Cheney mauled three secret service agents and escaped inside the White House walls.
Of course, of course, of course, it was a ridiculous speech. Preposterous. The worst one of all, and boy howdy, that is saying something. This, after all, was the man who gave us "Bring it on" and "Mission Accomplished," and who once was unable to think of any mistakes he might have made. Each of these was a legitimate phenomenon in every respect, to be sure, but the spectacle on Thursday night bent the definition of "absurd" into bold new shapes.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- A giant lobster named George escaped a dinner-table fate and was released Saturday into the Atlantic Ocean after a New York seafood restaurant granted him his freedom, according to a statement from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The lobster, which PETA said was 140 years old and weighed 20 pounds, had been confined to a tank at City Crab and Seafood restaurant in Manhattan when two customers alerted the animal group.
The PETA statement did not say how the extraordinary age estimate was determined, but restaurant manager Keith Valenti told CNN that lobsters can grow a pound every seven to 10 years, and he put George's weight at 18 to 20 pounds.
"I've been here for 12 years, and that's the biggest lobster I've ever seen," Valenti said.
He said the lobster had been "sitting in the restaurant's tank and acting as a sort of mascot," but when PETA got involved and requested the release, it "seemed like the right thing to do."
As health costs shoot into the stratosphere, the U.S. has turned to Canada for a steady supply of low-cost drugs and medical care. Overall, medical tourism -- in which U.S. citizens travel to other countries simply for cheap care -- doubled over the course of one year (from 2006-2007).
The Key Issue? Cost.
The key issue was cost. And the perfect illustration is a comparison with Canada. Our neighbors to the north have been able to spend the same amount of money administering free, universal coverage to its 27 million citizens as the single region of New England in the U.S. (which has a meager population of 2.5 million).
Obviously, costs have gone haywire. Have the added costs provided more quality in health care? Or are these costs simply attributable to mismanagement and inefficiencies. Expect this issue to come up more during this year's election coverage.
Reporting in the journal Nature, Toshiyuki Nakagaki from the Bio-Mimetic Control Research Centre in Nagoya showed that a slime mould negotiated the shortest route between two exits in a maze, avoiding three longer paths.
"This remarkable process of cellular computation implies that cellular materials can show a primitive intelligence," Dr Nakagaki said.
You hear a lot of talk about rebuilding the U.S. economy, and it obviously needs some help. But I wonder if we ought to make some changes as we rebuild. The old structure doesn't seem that desirable anymore. When we rebuild, how about some renovations at the same time?
For example, the old U.S. economy wasn't very environmentally sustainable. The good news about our current predicament is that the U.S. generally emits substantially less carbon into the atmosphere when it's in recession. So maybe we shouldn't come out of it until we figure out how to stop this pattern.
Our old economy was based heavily on consumption by—of course—consumers. Economists are saying that consumer spending is all that has saved our economic bacon over the past couple of decades, and now we've cut
back. The good news about this is that consumers have been spending their way into severe hock, so stopping that overspending is positive. Consumers have even resisted spending their economic stimulus checks. We need to save more to pay off our credit balances, finance our retirements, and send our kids to college. The bad news, of course, if that consumers don't spend we don't reinvigorate economic growth. So how can we stoke a consumer-driven economy and save at the same time?
We can't. It's no accident that China and Japan, for example, have been both producer-driven economies and nations of savers. We have to slowly shift back to being a producer-driven economy. It will be difficult and painful, but we have to spend less and produce more goods and services that other economies around the world want to buy. We also need to replace these other economies as investors in our own economy.
This probably means that the U.S. government needs to identify some key industries that it will nurture as the potential big exporters of the future. There used to be many objections to this sort of "industrial policy," but perhaps now that much of our financial system has been nationalized, such interventions will seem relatively mild. We're already investing in the automobile industry, for example, although I'm not sure that's our best bet for future exports. Tom Friedman is probably correct in saying (in Hot, Flat, and Crowded) that environmental technologies would be one of the best possible industrial policy investments for the U.S.
Another attribute of the consumer-driven economy we've built is that we have generally taken the proceeds of our productivity in—you guessed it—increased consumption. This is unlike our European cousins, who have cashed in productivity for leisure. Americans work some of the longest hours in the world, and we don't even have enough time to watch the cool flat-screen TVs we've bought. My guess is that we'd all be happier and more relaxed if we started trading increased productivity for increased time on the beach.
There are many other aspects of our new economic house that need to be renovated, but that would take a book, not a blog post. There need to be more regulation, greater investment in human capital, increased transparency and understandability, better health care at a lower price to the society, and so forth. None of these transitions will be easy. I don't envy the members of the new Council of Economic Advisers!
Provided by Harvard Business—Where Leaders Get Their Edge
I just finished re-reading an excellent book - Oak: the frame of civilization. Here's a review of the section that got me going.
Chapter Three, "Balanoculture," (defined as societies whose diet staple is the oak acorn) discusses evidence the oak tree's earliest contribution to civilization was to feed people. Recent research suggests not all early humans were big game hunters who eventually converted to farming. Some of our human ancestors were balanophagists. As an example, the archaeological site at Catal Huyuk, a settlement 8,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent (modern-day Turkey), offers clues its residents ground and ate acorns as their diet staple. Once its tannin is leached out, the acorn is highly nutritious and surprisingly filling. (Logan personally sought out Korean acorn jelly and thought it even an appetite suppressant--Slim*Fast(TM) buyers might soon be trekking to their neighborhood Korean food stores.) The crucial fact for theories about what our ancient ancestors ate is acorns are much easier to harvest and store, for calories spent, than chasing animals.
Interestingly, California is home to some of the finest remnants of balanoculture. As an example, if one travels two and a half hours northeast of, say, the Bay Area, one crosses Highway 49 to reach the town of Volcano, where the Indian Grinding Rock State Historical Park preserves a legacy of those early Californians, the Miwoks: some 1,185 mortar holes, the largest collection of bedrock mortars anywhere in North America. Miwoks used pestles in these mortars to grind acorns and did so for five thousand years until early in the twentieth century.
"Nature is the art of God" - Dante
"No amount of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted" - Aesop
"Technology is of no use to us if it is used without respect for the earth and its processes" - Aldo Leopold