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Power Lines and Their Effects on Honeybees

Power lines could be affecting honeybees in a negative way by emitting electromagnetic fields which can alter both the insects’ behavior and ability to learn.

Researchers report on October 10 in PLOS One that after being exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the lab, honeybees (Apis mellifera) became more aggressive toward other bees.

“The reductions in learning are pretty concerning,” says Sebastian Shepherd. The entomologist worked on the new study at the University of Southampton in England before moving to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. “These were bees that were very happy and healthy” before being exposed to EMFs in the study.

This finding may be a clue in explaining the recent and mysterious decline in managed honeybee colonies in the U.S.

More details about the study over at ScienceNews.

(Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos/ Pixabay)


This Florida Woman Hid In A Ceiling In An Attempt To Hide From The Police After Shoplifting

Kristina Perkins was arrested for shoplifting from a Big Lots store in Port Charlotte, Florida. But before she was finally caught in the hands of the law, she kept the police searching, by trying to escape through the ceiling. The police searched for hours, even to the point removing the tiles in the restroom’s ceiling, where the Florida woman was hiding, as Oddee detailed: 

The deputies cleared out the store and started searching for her in the ceiling. They used Charlotte County Fire and EMS ladders and thermal imaging systems. The police searched for hours, slowly removing the tiles. They spotted her a couple of times during the search and suggested that she give up, though Perkins, naturally, kept moving. During the search, they ended up finding Perkins’s bag. The purse contained three syringes and a spoon with a white residue that, when tested, showed up as Morphine.

image credit: Unsplash via Oddee


The 2014 MU69 Has A New Name

The most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft has a new name. Known before as 2014 MU69, the 21-mile-wide (34 kilometers) body visited by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on January 1 is now officially known as Arrokoth, mission team members announced on November 12. The new name means “sky” in the Powhatan/Algonquian language.

"The name 'Arrokoth' reflects the inspiration of looking to the skies and wondering about the stars and worlds beyond our own," New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement. "That desire to learn is at the heart of the New Horizons mission, and we're honored to join with the Powhatan community and people of Maryland in this celebration of discovery."

Know more about Arrokoth over at

(Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/National Optical Astronomy Observatory)


Forgotten Middle Child Mints

Forgotten Middle Child Mints

Are you a middle child who feels overlooked, forgotten, or ignored? Don't let resentment and bitterness leave a bad taste in your mouth. Use the Forgotten Middle Child Mints from the NeatoShop to keep your breath feeling minty fresh at even at the most uncomfortable family functions. 

Your family might think you are a befuddled underachiever, but we know you are really an independent out of the box thinker. The Forgotten Middle Child Mints are for middle children who boldly put the fun into dysfunctional families.    

Be sure to check out the NeatoShop for more great Mints & Candies. New items arriving all the time. 

Don't forget to stop by the NeatoShop to see our large selection of customizable apparel and bags. We specialize in curvy and Big and Tall sizes. We carry baby 6 months all the way to adult 10 XL shirts. We know that fun, fabulous, and middle children come in every size. 


It's Christmastime (Let’s Just Survive)

Kathleen Edwards' new song is bound to become a Christmas classic. It's all about tradition, the things that happen every year, like the same relative who gets drunk, gifts with no thought behind them, and the dog that farts after eating rich holiday food. The "meows" are a nice touch. "It's Christmastime (Let’s Just Survive)" is from the forthcoming album A Dualtone Christmas, featuring music from various artists.  -via Nag on the Lake


This Bride Was Surprised With A Puppy As A Wedding Gift

Kaci Shepard Myers was gifted a pupper named Brody, a ten-week-old corgi who Kaci had been looking at online. Her bridal squad teamed up and asked for her partner, Adam, for help to buy Kaci the perfect fluffy companion and ring bearer on her big day. Metro has the details: 

‘I couldn’t believe what was going on – I was so excited to see my best friends who live far away that I didn’t even notice him at first.’
 ‘My first thought was that they were there to tell me they were bailing out of the wedding or something, not that they’d got me a puppy!’
 Kaci was in a state of shock when she was presented with the puppy, but after that she instantly fell in love. The puppy served as the ring bearer at the wedding on 31 August.

image credit: Caters News Agency via Metro


The World’s Wooliest Sheep Dies At Age 10

Australia’s Chris the sheep made headlines in 2015 for the record-breaking weight of his fleece. In 2019, unfortunately, Chris came back to the headlines for his death. Believed to be aged about 10, the sheep was found dead (of old age) by his minders, as Kate Luke, the co-founder and vice president of the Canberra-based Little Oak Sanctuary where the sheep resided, told the public: 

“We are heartbroken at the loss of this sweet, wise, friendly soul. Chris is known as the world record holder for having grown the heaviest fleece on record,” the sanctuary said in a Facebook post.
“He was so much more than this, so very much more, and we will remember him for all that he was - someone, not something.”

image credit: RSPCA ACT /via REUTERS


A New Technique That Helps Predict Pedestrian Behavior Better

Self-driving vehicles could be a popular means of transportation in the coming years. Before that can happen, however, scientists will have to do a lot of work to ensure that these vehicles will be safe and can efficiently navigate in human-populated places without hurting anyone.

As self-driving vehicles are ultimately designed to move around both static and moving obstacles, they should be able to detect objects quickly and avoid them. One way to achieve this could be to develop models that can predict the future behavior of objects or people on the street, in order to estimate where they will be located when the vehicle approaches them.

Predicting future behavior in urban environments, however, can be a difficult task. It is even more difficult to predict human behavior, such as unexpected actions of pedestrians.

In Arizona last year, a 49-year-old woman named Elaine Herzberg was killed by one of Uber’s self-driving cars. This and other accidents sparked lots of debates about the safety of self-driving vehicles and about whether to test these vehicles in populated environments.

About a week ago, new documents released by the U.S. National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) revealed that Uber's autonomous vehicle involved in last year's fatal crash did not identify Herzberg as a pedestrian until it was much too late. The same reports suggests that the autonomous vehicle involved in the crash was never trained to detect pedestrians anywhere outside of a crosswalk.
Herzberg was jaywalking at the time of the accident, so the software flaws revealed by the NTSB report would explain why Uber's self-driving vehicle failed to spot her, which ultimately caused her death. The new analyses released by NTSB could put a halt to the company's self-driving vehicle program, which had started testing again in December 2018 after being put on hold for several months.

These recent findings show the need for a more advanced AI to be developed, as well as more reliable software before self-driving vehicles can be tested on actual roads. 

Interestingly, some days before NTSB released these documents, a paper by researchers at Uber's Advanced Technologies Group, the University of Toronto and UC Berkeley was pre-published on arXiv, introducing a new technique to predict pedestrian behavior called discrete residual flow network (DRF-NET). According to the researchers, this neural network can make predictions about future pedestrian behavior while capturing the inherent uncertainty in forecasting long-range motion.

More details about this neural network over at TechXplore.

(Image Credit: Jain et. al/ TechXplore)


The Kind Of Noise That Can Improve Hearing

Researchers from the University of Basel, in a study in Cell Reports, found out that with a background of white noise (which refer to sounds that mask other sounds), hearing pure sounds becomes more precise.

We know that hearing is important when it comes to human communication. However, despite this knowledge that we have, we still don’t know much about how we perceive and process acoustic signals which allows us to make sense of them. One thing is for sure, though: the more precisely we can recognize sound patterns, the better our hearing is. But in an environment with background noise, how does the brain manage to identify the relevant information from the less relevant?

Researchers led by Prof. Dr. Tania Rinaldi Barkat from the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel have investigated the neuronal foundation of sound perception and sound discrimination in a challenging sound environment. The focus was on research into the auditory cortex - the "auditory brain," that is, the area of the brain that processes acoustic stimuli. The resulting activity patterns stem from measurements in a mouse brain.
As is well known, the distinction between sounds becomes more difficult the closer they are in the frequency spectrum. Initially, the researchers assumed that additional noise could make such a hearing task even more difficult. However, the opposite was observed: The team was able to demonstrate that the brain's ability to distinguish subtle tone differences improved when white noise was added to the background. Compared to a quiet environment, the noise thus facilitated auditory perception.

More details about this over at EurekAlert.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)


Man Tries To Guess Which Of His 8 Corgis Is He Holding While Blindfolded

Blindfolded guessing games have been made cuter with a dog owner trying to identify all of his dogs correctly, all eight of his Corgis, to be exact. Watch as the “dog dad” tries his best to get the names of all of his corgis right, by doing everything he could. The interaction alone of him with his dogs is enough, but him trying to play the game as well? It’s an added bonus. Find out if he guesses correctly!  


Gin Infused with Elephant Poop

The premise is simple, yet brilliant: elephants eat a vast variety of plants, but digest only about a third of them. So why not pass on those flavors to drinkers by mixing the essence of that poop into alcohol?

Put your hand down. That's a rhetorical question.

Les and Paula Ansley of Mossel Bay, South Africa believe that the value of Indlovu Gin lies in its close ties to nature. That's surely the reason why, when they collect elephant poop for their distillery, they use bare hands. The Associated Press tells their story:

They described the gin’s flavor as “lovely, wooded, almost spicy, earthy” and one that changes subtly with the seasons and location.
The gin bottles are marked with the date and coordinates of where the elephant dung was collected. “So, you’re able to compare almost different vintages of the gin,” Ansley said.
After about five sizeable bags of dung are collected for a batch of 3,000 to 4,000 bottles of the gin, the droppings are dried and crumbled, then washed to remove dirt and sand. Eventually only the remains of the fruits, flowers, leaves and bark eaten by the elephants are left behind.

Nature is amazing.

-via Dave Barry | Photo: Ibhu


Dano Brown's Action Figures

George Lucas proved that no matter how much you make in movies, the real money is in action figures. Kids play with them, fans collect them, and others just want to have a souvenir of a movie franchise  they really like. Now we have action figures of politicians, scientists, and historical figures, too. But what about pop culture that doesn't rise to the level of Star Wars? Artist Dano Brown takes a stab at filling the gap with his action figures of lesser characters from memorable movies that you'd never think of as action figure material.

Brown's action figures are on display at the "Pop-Culture Sculptures" exhibit at Gallery1988 in Los Angeles, and most are sold out. See many more of them at Instagram.


Three Communists Weigh in on Red Dawn

The 1984 movie Red Dawn was an action-packed speculative war movie designed to appeal to teenagers. Communist forces from the USSR, Cuba, and Nicaragua parachute into a small town in Colorado and a group of high school students form a band of guerrillas to fight back. It had an all-star cast, high production values, and extreme violence that made it an exhilarating ride, while the character development was nonexistent and the plot was altogether ridiculous. Mel magazine asked three movie buffs who are self-identified communists to share their thoughts on Red Dawn.   

Skylar: The movie barely addresses communism. It took communism to mean the authoritarian enforcement of social uniformity, rather than resource distribution and emancipation of the working class, as it had to show communism as irredeemably evil and lacking in any humanity. Communism and Slavic, authoritarian militarism are so linked in peoples’ minds that we don’t actually have a way of thinking about communism without Russian authoritarianism. I certainly can’t speak for all communists — many saw the Soviet Union as going away from the ideals of communism long before it fell — but communism and Soviet authoritarianism is still intertwined in people’s minds, and most Americans remain confused about it.

In fact, what became clear over the course of the Cold War was that it wasn’t an ideological struggle at all. Instead, it was just about these two large countries jockeying for geopolitical power and the ideological stuff was just a veneer. Which is kind of true of this movie, too.

Robinson: Oh, it portrays communism badly, but in a way, it doesn’t really convey it as an ideology at all. There’s that re-education camp, and at one point, I heard someone say, “America is a whorehouse,” but that’s about it. It’s full of anti-communist propaganda, but like most propaganda, it’s devoid of the substance of what they’re actually portraying.

There's a lot more, but it's not all about political ideology. The three agree that Red Dawn, with all its faults, was a memorable experience -possibly because they were all young when it premiered. Read their analysis at Mel magazine.


The Last Victim of Smallpox

In 1977, a hospital cook named Ali Maow Maalin came down with smallpox in Somalia. It was a rare outbreak after a global vaccination program restricted the disease to the Horn of Africa, but Maalin recuperated, and 50,000 people were vaccinated in the immediate area. Doctors saw no more cases of smallpox, yet wanted to wait two years to declare the disease defeated, just to make sure. But then the next year, it struck again.

The victim was Janet Parker, a 40-year-old medical photographer, who worked in the anatomy department at Birmingham Medical School, in Birmingham, England. On August 11, Parker developed a fever accompanied by headache and pains in her muscles. Within days her body was covered with rashes and ugly red spots. Her doctor told Parker that she had chickenpox and there was nothing to be worried about. But as the days passed, the blistering pustules became larger and her conditions worsened until she could no longer stand unaided. On 20 August she was admitted to Catherine-de-Barnes Isolation Hospital in Solihull where the dreaded diagnosis was made—she had Variola major, the most serious type of smallpox.

When word leaked out panic descended upon the city, and it wasn’t just the public, there was panic in the government and within the WHO as well. Of all places, the United Kingdom was the last anybody expected a smallpox outbreak, especially so late into the inoculation program. But the source of the infection was no mystery.

A month later, Parker was dead, her mother recovered from a mild case of smallpox, and two men were dead- not from smallpox, but their deaths were related to Parker's illness. Read about the last victim of smallpox and the ensuing scandal at Amusing Planet. -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: Roger Rössing and Renate Rössing)


Quilty the Jailbreaker

Quilty is a cat who lives at Friends For Life animal shelter in Houston. He has a wonderful personality and gets along well with both the humans and the animals he lives with. But the shelter has a little problem with him. Quilty is skilled at opening doors, and got into the habit of letting the other cats out of their enclosures at night. While this makes him very popular with the cats, the staff is suffering.

We have since Quilty-proofed the cat room, while he took a brief hiatus in the lobby. His roommates missed him while he was banished to the lobby. They enjoyed their nighttime escapades around the shelter. The staff, however, did not miss the morning cat wrangling, so we’ll just have to agree to disagree there.

Apparently this is not a new skill he learned here at the shelter; he used to let his dog sibling in the house at his old home.

If someone out there is looking for a clever cat that gets along with dogs but does not get along with closed doors, we have someone they really need to come and meet.

Please. Come meet him. And take him home. Please...

Quilty was confined, but his time-out didn't last long. After all, his specialty is opening doors.  

Update: Quilty's review with the parole board was denied, so he released himself of his own recognizance today. He felt that confinement had nothing more to offer him.

He has been returned to solitary.

The review board will take up his case again tomorrow.

(Y'all. This cat released himself FROM THE INTEGRATION KENNEL IN THE ROOM...)

The long comment thread updated again and again, as the cat managed to escape using different schemes, including once when he just snuck out behind the person watching him. These shenanigans led to Quilty the escape artist becoming a social media star. Fans launched Quilty his own Instagram account, called Free Quilty. You can even buy Free Quilty merchandise. The good news is that lots of people have now applied to adopt Quilty. They may not know what they are getting into. -via 22 Words

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