Month: January 2012

Your Weekly Dose of Coolness

Maggie Koerth-Baker brings us “good news” about whales and dolphins that is at once sugary-cute and enlightening.

Mammals at play.It’s hard to talk about animal behavior without getting too anthropomorphizing, but think about it this way: In both instances, the whale and dolphins did not appear to be competing with other, they did not appear to be fighting, nor were they cooperating in a goal-oriented way. When scientists say “animals are playing” they don’t necessarily mean “play” the way human children play, but they do mean behaviors that go beyond simple eat/sleep/defend/breed necessities. Play might be learning. Play might be about forming social bonds that help an individual later on. And however you interpret it, spotting examples of spontaneous, inter-species play in the wild is kind of a big deal.

Take that, LOLcats!

The Great Brazilian Beer Conundrum

Oh, the problems you’ll find ….

The next FIFA World Cup is not until 2014, but early battles off the field are already drawing attention. Host nation Brazil banned the sale of beer at fútbol matches since 2003, but FIFA officials insist that alcohol sales are a must at World Cup events. Via BBC:

HopsBeer must be sold at all venues hosting matches in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, football’s world governing body, Fifa, has insisted.

Fifa General Secretary, Jerome Valcke, said the right to sell beer must be enshrined in a World Cup law the Brazilian Congress is considering.

Alcoholic drinks are currently banned at Brazilian stadiums and the country’s health minister has urged Congress to maintain the ban in the new law.

Brewer Budweiser is a big Fifa sponsor ….

…. Fifa has become frustrated, because voting on the legislation has been held up in Congress by the dispute over alcohol sales ….

…. “Alcoholic drinks are part of the Fifa World Cup, so we’re going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that’s something we won’t negotiate,” he said.

Valcke criticised the pace of construction at Brazil’s world cup venues
“The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law.”

There are, of course, other issues dragging down World Cup ’14. Discount ticket issues are still up in the air, as are trademark protections for World Cup sonsors. Valcke noted that negotiations have gone slowly, asserting that this is the first time FIFA and a host nation had failed to resolve such issues five years after assigning the tournament location.

Something I Never Wanted to Know

I’m with Homer Simpson: “I’ll take a crab juice.”

No, really. In truth, I haven’t consumed Mountain Dew for … er … um … years. Couldn’t tell you when I last did the Dew.

Meanwhile, ABC News’ Chris Bury makes the point of why I never will again.

Mountain Dew logoIn 2009, oil company worker Ronald Ball said he opened a Mountain Dew from his firm’s vending machine only to gag on a dead mouse inside. His attorney told ABC News that Ball stuck the mouse in a Styrofoam cup and displayed it to his co-workers. “He immediately called Pepsi,” said attorney Samantha Unsell, so the company could stop production on the assembly line that allegedly snagged a mouse. She said a Pepsi representative came to collect the dead mouse. But the evidence had apparently since been destroyed.

Later, Ball sued the soft drink company, seeking damages in excess of $50,000. Now as it seeks to dismiss the lawsuit, Pepsi argued Ball couldn’t possibly have gagged on a mouse because Mountain Dew’s powerful ingredients would have dissolved the rodent’s body before the can ever reached the vending machine. By then, Pepsi’s experts insisted, it would have become “a jelly-like substance.” In other words, mouse jam in a can. Yum! (If you bought six, would that be a “rat-pack?”)

Seriously. I mean, if the taste wasn’t bad enough …?

I recall an occasion in my more laddish years when claims emerged that people were finding syringes in their Pepsi cans. The company responded that there was no danger, as the soft drink was so acidic that it would kill any possible pathogen. To the one, that actually sounds reasonable. To the other, well, okay, I do, in fact, still drink Pepsi. (What? I can’t drink beer all the time.)

And then, of course, there is talk of polishing chrome with Coca Cola. I once heard something or another about using the stuff to clean stains out of one’s toilet. Whatever.

The bottom line, of course, is that people are already wary of these sorts of soft drinks. But dissolving a mouse to jelly is, so far as I can tell, the crown jewel of things I simply did not expect to ever hear about a food product intended for human consumption.

An Answer to a Question I Keep Forgetting to Ask

Male jawfishThe Christian Science Monitor offers up a gallery of the strangest fish in the oceans, including the male jawfish, pictured at right. The caption accompanying this photo answers a question I always forget to ask:

A male jawfish is seen with eggs in his mouth in the Philippines. After mating, the female jawfish gives the eggs to the male. The fish are known as mouthbreeders.

And now I know what a mouthbreeder is.

No, really. I suppose I always thought it was an insult referring to poor oral hygiene among British folks, or maybe American backwaters. You know, tooth decay, microbial growth, and all that?

More fool me, I guess. Until today.