posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 08:20pm on 12/05/2009 under
Parasitic flies turn fire ants into zombies
McClatchy Newspapers

By Bill Hanna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Bill Hanna, Fort Worth Star-telegram – Tue May 12, 2:09 pm ET

It sounds like something out of science fiction: zombie fire ants. But it's all too real.

Fire ants wander aimlessly away from the mound.

Eventually their heads fall off, and they die.

The strange part is that researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M's AgriLife Extension Service say making "zombies" out of fire ants is a good thing.

"It's a tool — they're not going to completely wipe out the fire ant, but it's a way to control their population," said Scott Ludwig , an integrated pest management specialist with the AgriLife Extension Service in Overton , in East Texas .

The tool is the tiny phorid fly, native to a region of South America where the fire ants in Texas originated. Researchers have learned that there are as many as 23 phorid species along with pathogens that attack fire ants to keep their population and movements under control.

So far, four phorid species have been introduced in Texas .

The flies "dive-bomb" the fire ants and lay eggs. The maggot that hatches inside the ant eats away at the brain, and the ant starts exhibiting what some might say is zombie-like behavior.

"At some point, the ant gets up and starts wandering," said Rob Plowes, a research associate at UT.

The maggot eventually migrates into the ant's head, but Plowes said he "wouldn't use the word 'control' to describe what is happening. There is no brain left in the ant, and the ant just starts wandering aimlessly. This wandering stage goes on for about two weeks."

About a month after the egg is laid, the ant's head falls off and the fly emerges ready to attack any foraging ants away from the mound and lay eggs.

Plowes said fire ants are "very aware" of these tiny flies, and it only takes a few to cause the ants to modify their behavior.

"Just one or two flies can control movement or above-ground activity," Plowes said. "It's kind of like a medieval activity where you're putting a castle under siege."

Researchers began introducing phorid species in Texas in 1999. The first species has traveled all the way from Central and South Texas to the Oklahoma border. This year, UT researchers will add colonies south of the Metroplex at farms and ranches from Stephenville to Overton . It is the fourth species introduced in Texas .

Fire ants cost the Texas economy about $1 billion annually by damaging circuit breakers and other electrical equipment, according to a Texas A&M study. They can also threaten young calves.

Determining whether the phorid flies will work in Texas will take time, perhaps as long as a decade.

"These are very slow acting," Plowes said. "It's more like a cumulative impact measured across a time frame of years. It's not an immediate silver bullet impact."

The flies, which are USDA -approved, do not attack native ants or species and have been introduced in other Gulf Coast states, Plowes said. Despite initial concerns, farmers and ranchers have been willing to let researchers use their property to establish colonies. At the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth in March, Plowes said they found plenty of volunteers.
Mood:: tired
location: me
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 08:38pm on 07/05/2009 under
Heard this today on NPR.

Star Trek enterprise to market 3 new fragrances
Colognes based on Capt. Kirk, Vulcan Amok Time and red shirt officers

—John Lendman
March 17, 2009

The world of fragrance is about to boldly go where few have ventured before: the Trekosphere.

Hoping to profit from the May 8 release of J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek film, chronicling the beginnings of Capt. James T. Kirk and the USS Enterprise, Maryland-based Genki Wear will release three Star Trek-themed scents on April 24.

John McGonigle, president of Genki, said the two men's colognes and one women's perfume will retail for about $30.

Soon, Trekkies will be able to channel their inner Starfleet commander—or inner William Shatner—with "Tiberius," based on Kirk's character. The scent, which carries the tag line "Boldly Go," is described by Genki Wear as having a "warm vanilla, white musk and sandalwood" base.

For those living like the next workday could be their last, there's "Red Shirt." This cologne, with the tag line "Because tomorrow may never come," is in honor of the unnamed Enterprise officers who don't typically survive past the TV show's first scene. It's described as having a "leather and gray musk" aroma.

But it's the "Pon Farr" perfume that may require a double take. That's right, it's for the ladies. Perhaps a great gift for mom for letting you crash in the basement for 50-some-odd years? Maybe not. It actually refers to the Vulcan mating ritual that occurs every seven years. So maybe this one's only for special occasions?

John Tenuto, merchandise editor of, the largest independent Star Trek news site, said fans have responded positively to the fragrances.

But some Trekkies still have doubts.

"I predict incredibly stinky Trek conventions in the near future," one online comment said.

Others simply made fun of the idea: "No Worf scent? You know, peaty, with a hint of lilac."
Music:: Star Trek Rhapsody - Parody of Queen
Mood:: amused
location: Georgia... save me
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 06:31am on 06/05/2009 under ,
From KNBC Los Angeles

Dog Tosses Self Between Attacking Mountain Lion and Master


Updated 9:12 PM PDT, Tue, May 5, 2009
Related Topics: Jim Amormino | Big Cats | Mammals | Nature and the Environment | Wildlife

The 5-year-old shepherd mix named Hoagie underwent a four-hour operation and was expected to survive.

A mountain lion Tuesday mauled a dog fending off an attack on his owner, who was walking with his wife on a trail near the Blue Jay campground in the Cleveland National Forest, authorities said.

A dog is mauled. Despite the attack, the dog is expected to survive after defending its owner from a mountain lion.

A later search for the animal by California Fish and Game wardens and others came up empty, said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The black shepherd-mix dog, named Hoagy, was severely injured, but was expected to recover following four hours of surgery at a Riverside County veterinary hospital, Amormino said.

Authorities looked for the cougar, estimated at about 100 pounds, to destroy it because it showed no fear and was trying to attack the man, Amormino said.

"Public safety comes first," Amormino said.

The campground was closed after the attack that took place near the Falcon Crest gate. It was not immediately clear if the search would resume Wednesday and whether the campground would remain closed, Amormino said.

Dog owner William Morse told ABC7 that he, his wife and dog were out for a walk when "out of nowhere a mountain lion just charged us, attacked us, and my dog saved our life, saved me and my wife's life."

Morse and his wife rushed the injured dog to fire station at El Cariso, and from there to the veterinary hospital.

"He just got out of surgery," Morse said. "We got to see him briefly, and he looks like he's going to be OK at this time."

Asked to describe the attack, Morse said the lion "was off to the side."

"I saw him coming in at an angle," Morse said. "He ducked around a restroom. I notice my dog noticed him. At that time he made a charge towards me and my dog met him right there in the middle and saved my life."

The attack was "probably about seven-eight seconds long and it was just a brutal, just a brutal attack," Morse said.

"I'm pretty shooken up still," Morse said. "My dog, Hoagy, is pretty traumatized at this time. And I just don't think I'll ever go back up there to visit the area again, at this time."

Morse said he had visited the area for about 21 years "and I've never ever been attacked."

Morse said he got his dog from an abused animal shelter.

"He's about five years old and just man's best friend," Morse said. "You couldn't ask for a better dog at this time."

While at the animal hospital, Morse said, he got a call from animal advocacy group that will help pay the bill.

"There's going to be a lot of aftercare," he said. "I'm just traumatized. I didn't think he was going to make it. And like I said, I don't think I'll ever re-visit that area again. I'm waiting for the Department of
Fish and Game to meet me and go through the area and they're going to do a little more investigation."

Amormino said that Morse's wife was about 150 yards behind her husband when the mountain lion attacked.
Music:: American Girl - The Relatives
Mood:: awake
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 08:30pm on 19/04/2009 under
"I'm not gonna pull a Norm Coleman and take this to the courts."

-- Larry King, on CNN, telling Ashton Kutcher he concedes he lost their Twitter contest.
Mood:: mischievous
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 08:35pm on 31/03/2009 under ,
From E Online

Andy Hallett, who starred as Lorne ("the Host") on the TV series Angel, died of heart failure last night at age 33, according to his longtime agent and friend Pat Brady. The actor passed away at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles after a five-year battle with heart disease, with his father Dave Hallett by his side.

Hallett, from the Cape Cod village of Osterville, Mass., appeared on more than 70 episodes of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff, Angel, between 2000 and 2004. The accomplished actor was also a musician and sang two songs ("Lady Marmalade" and "It's Not Easy Being Green") on the Angel: Live Fast, Die Never soundtrack, released in 2005.

The actor's character on Angel was Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan, or Lorne for short. Hallett's Lorne was a friendly demon, who, when not assisting Angel and his team in the investigation of various and sundry underworld mysteries, served as the host and headliner at a demon bar.

Back in 2001, Hallett told our own Jen Godwin that despite constant flirtation with David Boreanaz' character Angel, and the occasional sly Elton John reference, "We don't really know if he's gay. I don't really know. It's funny, because sometimes he's right in Angel's face, and that's when I feel it the most. And viewers would probably think, hmm, what's going on here? This guy's pretty curvy."

Hallett has spent his post-Angel years working on his music career, playing shows around the country. He had been admitted to the hospital three or four times in the past few years for his heart condition, according to Pat.

Another Angel castmember, Glenn Quinn, who played Doyle in season one, passed away in 2002.

A private funeral service will be held for family and close friends in Cape Cod, most likely over this weekend.

Above and beyond I am sad that he passed his presence on Angel was always appreciated by me. Seeing that he too had heart failure makes me greateful that I have good luck with mine the last ten years. May you find something to sing about in whatever exists beyond.
Music:: One More Angel In Heaven - Andrew Lloyd Webber
Mood:: melancholy
location: music
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 07:59pm on 23/03/2009 under
Warner Bros launches "made-to-order" DVD service (Reuters)

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Warner Bros on Monday became the first studio to open its film vault to "made-to-order" DVDs, as it sought new revenues in a slumping DVD market by making it possible for fans to buy decades-old films.

Warner Bros, owned by Time Warner Inc, made an initial batch of 150 titles available for purchase online at , including 1943 comedy-romance "Mr. Lucky" starring Cary Grant and the 1962 release "All Fall Down" with Warren Beatty and Eva Marie Saint.

Sales are not expected to approach those of new releases on DVD, but the service gives Warner Bros another way to make money from a film archive it already exploits by selling titles for broadcast in the United States and internationally.

The on-demand service allows Warner Bros. to avoid the risk of manufacturing too many copies of old or obscure titles and shipping them to retailers because customers directly order only the titles they want to buy.

"This way you've completely eliminated the risk of not selling them. You're not going to make them until they're sold," said Tom Adams, president and senior analyst with Adams Media Research.

Warner Bros. said that each month it will make about 20 films and television programs from its archive available for purchase through this DVD-on-demand program.

The new Warner Bros. initiative comes as the movie industry faces declining DVD sales. Last year, amid the ongoing recession DVD sales fell by 7 percent to $21.6 billion, the Digital Entertainment Group said.

Studios are mainly looking to the emerging Blu-ray disc market to counter declining DVD sales, Adams said.

Last year, sales of Blu-ray discs quadrupled to nearly $750 million, the Digital Entertainment Group said.

But with the new DVD-on-demand service, Warner Bros can supplement its sales by appealing to collectors and fans.

The Warner Bros film archive has 6,800 titles. Since it entered the DVD market in 1997, the studio has released only around 1,200 of those titles from the vault. By comparison, the company expects by the end of the year to have more than 300 titles available via the DVD-on-demand service.

"I think ultimately the odds are very good that every film ever made will be available on this kind of basis, because why not?" Adams said.

Warner Bros. is charging customers $19.95 per title, plus shipping, for the new service. Titles also can be downloaded directly to a customer's computer.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Gunna Dickson)
location: home
Mood:: tired
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 07:19pm on 21/03/2009 under
Why would anyone do this?

Toilet torcher' reward offered

The mystery attackers have targeted toilets across San Francisco

A US firm is offering $5,000 (£3,450) for clues leading to the arrest of an arsonist who has been setting portable toilets on fire across San Francisco.

The Clorox Company is also offering a year's supply of toilet cleaning products in exchange for such tips.

More than two dozen toilets on San Francisco construction sites have been set on fire in the city in recent months, the Associated Press reports.

The cost of the damage has been estimated at $50,000.

The Clorox Company is sending out a team to advertise its offer to locals.

The patrol service is "a crappy job, but somebody's got to do it", joked a company spokesman.
Music:: Don't Forget to Dance - The Kinks
Mood:: amused
location: home
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 04:37pm on 15/03/2009 under
Saw this last night poking about the net....

View-Master 3-D travel reels head into the sunset

By DOUG WHITEMAN – Mar 4, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Amber LaPointe's introduction to one of the country's greatest tourist attractions came from small square pictures on a white wheel.

"It was like you could look into a world away," said the 28-year-old from Toledo, Ohio. "My only image of the Grand Canyon was from the View-Master."

The iconic reels of tourist attractions, often packaged with a clunky plastic viewer and first sold to promote 3-D photography, are ending their 70-year run after years of diminishing sales.

Collectors like Mary Ann Sell of Maineville, Ohio, are dismayed.

"The whole summer I was 5 years old, before I went to school, I traveled the world via View-Master. It was great, and now kids won't have the opportunity to do that," said Sell, 57, who owns upwards of 25,000 scenic reels.

Scenic discs are no longer a good fit

for the Fisher-Price division of toy maker Mattel Inc., a spokeswoman said, and the company stopped making them in December. Fisher-Price, based in East Aurora, N.Y., will keep making better-selling reels of Shrek, Dora the Explorer and other animated characters, spokeswoman Juliette Reashor said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Peering at images shot from the top of the CN Tower in Toronto or the rim of the Grand Canyon could induce vertigo, they were so vivid. Elvis Presley's "jungle room" at Graceland is on a reel, and Mary Tyler Moore used the toy to check out vacation spots on her eponymous TV show.

Mark Finley, general manager of View-Master scenic reels distributor Finley-Holiday Films, insisted the souvenirs — which inventor William Gruber debuted with backing from a postcard company in 1939 — still can appeal to children.

But Clinton Brown of Columbus, who will turn 4 on Sunday, gave the View-Master that his mother, Karina, bought him a clear thumbs down.

"It's boring," he said, his mother's fond childhood memories notwithstanding.

Toy industry analyst Sean McGowan with Needham & Co. said View-Master has been in decline since its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.

"That's not what the kids are looking for in the back seat of the car," he said. "They're looking for a DVD that plays on the back of Daddy's seat."

Based on its limited shelf space in stores, McGowan estimated View-Master brings in less than $10 million a year, compared with overall revenue of $5.92 billion for El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel in 2008. Finley said the shops at Yellowstone National Park typically sell 8,000 View-Master sets each year for up to about $13 each.

McGowan found the scenic discs' cancellation sad but not surprising.

"When I was a kid, everybody I knew had a View-Master, so you could sell (the reels) everywhere," said McGowan, 48. "Hardly anybody has it anymore."

Associated Press writer John Seewer contributed to this report from Toledo, Ohio.

I have great memories of this when I was a kid. BUt then its hard to compete with TV, DVDs, & the internet to entertain kids. And I had a bunch of ones about the places I visited with my family. The viewmaster kept those memories alive.

Visit if you are young enough to have no idea what I am talking about.
Mood:: nostalgic
location: home
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 03:18pm on 13/03/2009 under
Let's tax caffeine, legislator argues
New revenues » Cigarettes are taxed, why not soda pop?

By Robert Gehrke

Updated:03/12/2009 03:04:40 PM MDT

Have a Coke and a tax.

That's what Rep. Craig Frank wants his colleagues in the Legislature to consider.

Frank, R-American Fork, has asked lawmakers over the next year to study the potential for taxing caffeine, a response to proposals this session to hike the tax on cigarettes - all of which failed.

Frank said his intent initially was just to target caffeinated sodas and other cold beverages, but he has decided to look at the substance more broadly.

"Some feel [the cigarette tax is] a tax on those who are addicted to a substance that frankly they enjoy [but] we say that's a harmful thing to do.

At the same time, the government is addicted to the fee revenues," said Frank. "So in light of that, if we're really going to find a revenue stream on something addictive, why not cold caffeine?"

His proposal is contained in a master study resolution approved unanimously Thursday by lawmakers.

Frank said he has seen research that caffeine can cause spontaneous abortion, psychological abnormalities and other disorders.

"We're going after people who have problems with addiction for a revenue stream, only caffeine would be one that is more broad-based," said Frank, who calls himself a "social caffeine drinker."

Most of Utah's population and more than 80 percent of the Utah Legislature belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which discourages its members from drinking "hot drinks." Some Mormons have interpreted that to extend beyond coffee and tea to caffeinated beverages.
location: home
Mood:: recumbent
Music:: Coffee And Cigarettes - Lovebugs
posted by [personal profile] dadiceguy at 10:54pm on 27/02/2009 under
GOP States Buy More Porn
(Newser) – Church-going Republicans are more likely than liberals to buy pornography online, New Scientist reports. In a nationwide study of purchases at an adult entertainment company, researchers found that eight in 10 of the most porno-consuming states voted for John McCain last year. "One natural hypothesis is something like repression: if you're told you can't have this, then you want it more," one researcher said.

The range between the most and least porno-loving states was slim but noticeable: Utah topped the list with 5.47 adult subscriptions per 1,000 users of broadband at home; Montana came up last with 1.92 per 1,000. But church-goers knew when to lay off, purchasing less porn on Sundays, and making up for it with buys during the rest of the week.

Source: New Scientist
Mood:: sick
location: home


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