For decades, people have been getting rid of cockroaches by setting out bait mixed with poison. But in the late 1980s, in an apartment test kitchen in Florida, something went very wrong.
A killer product stopped working. Cockroach populations there kept rising. Mystified researchers tested and discarded theory after theory until they finally hit on the explanation: In a remarkably rapid display of evolution at work, many of the cockroaches had lost their sweet tooth, rejecting the corn syrup meant to attract them.
In as little as five years, the sugar-rejecting trait had become so widespread that the bait had been rendered useless…
In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, entomologist Jules Silverman and other researchers explain the workings of the genetic mutation that gave some roaches a competitive advantage that enabled them to survive and multiply.
The key is certain neurons that signal the brain about foods.
In normal cockroaches, glucose excites neurons that tell the brain “Sweet!” In the mutant insects, glucose activates neurons that say “Sweet!” and ones that say “Yuck!” The “Yuck!” neurons dampen the signal from the others, so the brain gets the message the taste is awful. This unusual nerve activity appeared in glucose-hating cockroaches collected from Puerto Rico as well as descendants of the Florida insects…
The new work is nifty science. But does it explain why you can’t get rid of the little buggers in your kitchen?
Probably not, said Coby Schal, another study author at North Carolina State…
Frankly, if the bait you put out isn’t working, it’s probably because you’re using it incorrectly, suggested Schal, who said he consults to the pesticide industry free of charge…
It’s not clear when the Florida cockroaches first encountered bait with glucose or how quickly they ditched their taste for the sugar, he said. But he said it’s reasonable to estimate that it took maybe only five years for that glucose aversion to spread to so many cockroaches that the bait was no longer effective. That’s about 25 generations of German cockroaches, which can reproduce about one to three months after they’re born, Schal said.
The glucose aversion may have arisen in an individual cockroach in response to bait. Or it may have already been present in just a few individuals when the arrival of the bait suddenly gave them an advantage for surviving and reproducing. Their offspring would inherit the trait and increasingly replace other cockroaches.
Yup. It surely helps that the scientists devising methods to counter cockroach infestation needn’t wait and rely on evolution – even the fast-paced variety – to invent their responses to natural selection.
…Sexual violence in the military is so pervasive, even some of those who have been charged with rooting it out are themselves violent. The military just can’t seem to curb the epidemic on its own. It’s more important to pretend nothing has happened when a complaint is lodged; many are never relayed to military criminal authorities, while others are swept under the rug. It’s the victim’s fault — for upsetting camaraderie and esprit de corps. Get her (or him: the Pentagon estimates that 54 percent of victims are men) to be quiet or charge the complainer with conduct unbecoming an officer or insubordination…
It’s true, as the military is fond of saying, that the great majority of military officers are law-abiding. But when a fellow service member is accused, the law-abiding tend to side with the accused. Reporting a rape is never easy, but it’s much harder when the perpetrator is of higher rank than the victim (50 percent of the time) and when the perpetrator is in the victim’s chain of command (23 percent of the time). Join the military, where you may be more prone to sexual attack and you don’t even get the protections, however flawed, you would get at your local police precinct, because the brass close ranks.
There have been attempts to fix pieces of the problem, such as the indignity of a recruit having to salute the man who attacked her while her complaint is being investigated. In 2011 the Pentagon instituted an expedited transfer policy — but there’s no deadline on providing a move, and it doesn’t track how long a move takes. Victims’ groups say more than 60 percent of victims face continued contact and retaliation from their attackers…
Even the big boss, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, couldn’t fix one problem: the ability of commanding officers to overturn jury verdicts with no explanation whatsoever. After a general overturned a sexual-assault conviction of an airman at Aviano Air Base in Italy, Hagel pledged that no such thing would ever happen again. He found out he didn’t have such authority.
Violence and cover-up are part of the military’s culture. If the numbers are right, there are 26,000 estimated assaults but only a minuscule fraction are prosecuted. That means there are a lot of dangerous predators at large.
Gillibrand introduced legislation last week that would essentially remove commanders from the legal process. If passed, complaints would have to go to a parallel system of military prosecutors outside the command structure. No more commanders overturning guilty verdicts…
This bill, though laudable, doesn’t do anything to reduce the violence itself — just the terrible injustice that happens afterward.
Military justice is to justice as military music is to music. One of my favorite slogans from the days of resistance to the VietNam War. The worst bureaucracy in the network of brainless incompetence that is a significant portion of American government – gets to prosecute and judge itself.
I’m not certain if the tradition of Congress leaving governance of our military in the hands of untouchables reflects some guilt over our post-World War 2 policy of Imperial War. More likely, political hacks find it easier to believe their own propaganda about the best in our nation fighting on our behalf, blah, blah. Regardless, leaving corruption and crime to fester does nothing to raise the standards of our several military corps – and even less to protect the victims of crime from the predators our military services seem to attract.
The end of the draft signaled an end to democracy sort of choosing who got to be grunts. Colleges and universities still funneled in a percentage of those who came into military service to learn officer skills. The small number of those devoid of class loyalties, peers of my gangbanger years who were offered enlistment as an alternative to jail time – has become a larger number. Or so I believe. That doesn’t lessen my respect for those proud to serve and especially those who challenge how and where they serve.
OTOH, innocence in perpetuity is a pretty good deal for criminals.
Brooklyn Bridge under construction – picture of the day at the Guardian Unlimited.
A photographic highlight selected by the picture desk. The Brooklyn Bridge opened on this day in 1883 linking the two New York boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Two men stand on a high catwalk, surveying the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, with Manhattan in the background. Large ships and ferries sit in docks in the East River.
Yes, I fiddled with the photo before posting it. I imagine the original photographer might have also done so – given today’s hardware and software.
A certain Jedi Master, species unknown, once said, “size matters not.” But he obviously wasn’t referring to the latest Lego creation from the Lego group. Taking the title of the world’s largest Lego model is a 1:1 scale replica of an X-Wing, complete with R2 unit, made up of 5,335,200 Lego bricks and taking 32 Lego master builders 17,336 hours (around four months) to complete.
As any Rebel engineer worth their salt will know, the full-size replica stands 3.35 m tall and 13.1 m long with a wingspan of 13.44 m. Its weight of almost 20,865 kg means the model will be less than easy to transport, even if you have unlearned what you have learned.
Constructed in Kladno, Czech Republic, to celebrate the upcoming premiere of the Lego Star Wars-based three-part animated series, The Yoda Chronicles, on Cartoon Network, the Lego X-Wing is currently on display in New York’s Times Square. It will be moved to Legoland California Resort in the coming months, where it will remain grounded for the remainder of the year.
Hate to break your heart; but, this is NOT AVAILABLE as a kit for consumers.
Six week-old Kaiba Gionfriddo was out at a restaurant with his family, when he stopped breathing and started turning blue. It turned out that he had a severe form of tracheobronchomalacia, a rare condition in which the trachea collapses due to flaccid supporting cartilage. Although he survived that incident, he proceeded to stop breathing on a regular basis, requiring daily resuscitation. Given the seriousness of the situation, his doctors decided to go for broke and try something new – an implanted 3D-printed tracheal support splint.
The device was already under development by University of Michigan associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology Dr. Glenn Green, and professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering Dr. Scott Hollister. It had never been tried in a human before, so they had to obtain emergency clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration in order to use it on Kaiba.
To make the implant, they first obtained a CT scan of Kaiba’s trachea/broncus, then created a computer model of the splint based on that. They then used a laser-based 3D printer to convert that digital model into a physical object, made from a biopolymer known as polycaprolactone.
In a surgical procedure on February 9th of last year, the ridged tube-shaped splint was sewn around Kaiba’s airway. This opened up his bronchus immediately, plus it also now serves as a skeleton to guide the proper growth of more rigid cartilage as he matures. Most babies with tracheobronchomalacia grow out of the condition as their trachea develops over two to three years, which is about the same amount of time that it should take the biocompatible polymer to be dissolved into his body.
Twenty-one days after the procedure was complete, Kaiba was taken off of ventilator support. He hasn’t had any breathing problems since, and is now 20 months old.
Bravo! There’s hardly a geek project in recent years which has taken off into every possible direction as have 3D printers. This being one of the best.
We’re willing to bet there are bottles of champagne popping all the way from Washington, DC to Palo Alto, CA…with the announcement that Tesla Motors has, as suspected, paid off the entirety of its $465-million Department of Energy loan.
As far back as July 2012, Tesla began talking about paying the US government back early, but it was apparently the tremendous rise in the company’s stock value recently that prompted CEO Elon Musk to push for the immediate repayment this week. From a price of $33.87 on January 1, TSLA has climbed to $87.24…Last week, Tesla sold enough stock to raise over a billion dollars to repay the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan, with interest. This makes Tesla the first automaker to pay the DOE back, and it did so nine years ahead of schedule…
In a prepared statement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk thanked the DOE and Congress and “particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate. I hope we did you proud.”
The DOE is certainly proud, issuing a release that said the repayment “shows the strength of energy department’s overall loan portfolio.” The DOE has come under fire recently for the loan it gave to Fisker Automotive. Two other ATVM recipients, Nissan and Ford, have not yet paid all theit money back, but there are no apparent worries there, either.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement that, “not every investment will succeed” but that the DOE’s overall $34-Billion loan portfolio of more than 30 loans “is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated…”
The reality is that the DOE investment and loan portfolio performs better than most banks making small business loans. Not that it gets through the lead-based scum encasing the brains of Congressional conservatives and the Tea Party economics school dropouts. Only 2% bad loans is the kind of thing that encourages smiles among the regulatory curmudgeons in our banking industry. Still meaningless to horse-and-buggy populists who haven’t made it beyond lead-based gasoline.
Elon Musk deserves credit for all of his endeavors. He’s doing the health of our nation and the world a favor by setting standards high enough to benefit us all with his electric cars.
Pete Murdock was not amused
Three members of a Michigan city council have abstained from voting on a measure that would have prevented them from abstaining on future votes.
AnnArbor.com reports…that Ypsilanti City Council member Pete Murdock proposed a resolution Tuesday that would have required council members to only vote “yes” or “no” on each issue unless they had a financial or professional conflict.
Mayor Paul Schreiber and council members Susan Moeller and Brian Robb abstained from the vote to show their disapproval of the resolution.
The resolution failed, with Murdock and another City Council member voting “yes” while two other council members voted “no.”
Best political news I read all day.
A Philadelphia couple who believe in faith healing over medicine and who were on probation in their son’s pneumonia death were charged with murder Wednesday after a second young child died under what a prosecutor called ‘‘eerily similar’’ circumstances.
Herbert and Catherine Schaible ignored a court order to seek medical care if their children needed it, prosecutors said Wednesday. The requirement was a condition of the probation sentence they received after the death of their toddler son four years ago.
First Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann says the Schaibles are entitled to their religious beliefs — until it endangers their children.
“How many kids have to die before it becomes extreme indifference to human life?” McCann said in announcing the charges. “They killed one kid already.”
The Schaibles are members and former teachers at the fundamentalist First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia. The church’s website quotes Bible verses purportedly forbidding Christians from visiting doctors or taking medicine and suggests it’s a sin to trust in medicine over faith…
A jury had convicted them of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment after the 2009 death of 2-year-old Kent, who had been sick for about two weeks. Brandon Schaible died of pneumonia in April after suffering from diarrhea and breathing problems for at least a week, and refusing to eat.
“The circumstances are eerily similar,” said Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, who handled the first trial and pushed for prison time because she feared the couple would not follow the court’s order on medical care…
“I am sorry for your loss. Deeply sorry,” Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner told the couple. “But in all honesty, I am more sorry for the fact that this innocent little child will not be able to grow up to be what he wanted to be.”
A common dicho I hear all the time is that “some parent don’t deserve children”. Well, this is one of those cases where “the children couldn’t possibly deserve their parents”. Or they’d be alive.
In one of their most dramatic choices in a century, local leaders of the Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to ease a divisive ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted into the nation’s leading youth organization.
Gay adults will remain barred from serving as Scout leaders.
Of the local Scout leaders voting at their annual meeting in Texas, more than 60 percent supported the proposal.
Casting ballots were about 1,400 voting members of BSA’s National Council who were attending their annual meeting at a conference center not far from BSA headquarters in suburban Dallas.
The vote will not end the wrenching debate over the Scouts’ membership policy, and it could trigger defections among those on the losing side…
Of course. Would you expect bigots to accept democracy – along with civil rights?
The BSA’s overall “traditional youth membership” – Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers – is now about 2.6 million, compared with more than 4 million in peak years of the past. It also has about 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.
Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions.
Those include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, but some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban – notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in April that it was satisfied with new proposal, and the National Catholic Committee on Scouting did not oppose it.
The frustration felt by those who oppose full civil rights for all Americans is nothing new. The nation listened to their whine and breast-beating over accepting non-whites, witnessed the transformation of local chapters of one or another organization or institution into something designed to maintain racial purity. Some of the same will take place over sexual orientation, now.
And, then, time and tide will continue to roll forward over the reactionaries who always think half-measures are all they can bear.
Farmer Fincher – in Congress – has collected million$ in subsidies – wants cuts in the food stamps program
A Tennessee congressman who supports billion of dollars in cuts to the food stamp program is one of the largest recipients of federal farm subsidies, according to new annual data released by a Washington environmental group.
Using Agriculture Department data, researchers at the Environmental Working Group found that Representative Stephen Fincher, a Republican and a farmer from Frog Jump, Tenn., collected nearly $3.5 million in subsidies from 1999 to 2012. The data is part of the research group’s online farm subsidy database from which the group issues a report each year.
In 2012 alone, the data shows, Mr. Fincher received about $70,000 in direct payments, money that is given to farmers and farmland owners, even if they do not grow crops. It is unclear how much Mr. Fincher received in crop insurance subsidies because the names of people receiving the subsidies are not public. The group said most of the agriculture subsidies go to the largest, most profitable farm operations in the country. These farmers have received $265 billion in direct payments and farm insurance subsidies since 1995, federal records show.
During debate on the farm bill in the House Agriculture Committee last week, Mr. Fincher was one of the biggest proponents of $20 billion in cuts to food stamps in the legislation. At times he quoted passages from the Bible in defending the cuts…
Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said that Mr. Fincher was being hypocritical. “Not only is he advocating deep cuts to other people’s money while he is getting subsidies, he also voted to increase the subsidies that he benefits from,” Mr. Faber said…
The most significant change in both the House and Senate bills is the end of direct payments, which cost taxpayers about $5 billion a year.
Both the House and Senate bills would use the savings from eliminating direct payments to increase financing for crop insurance, a federally subsidized program that pays 62 percent of the premiums for farmers and covers decreases in crop yields or revenue. About $1.3 billion a year is paid to 15 insurance companies to sell and process the policies…
Food stamps would receive a $4.1 billion cut in the Senate farm bill. An amendment by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, to reverse the cuts by using money from the crop insurance program was soundly defeated after a passionate plea by Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, who called crop insurance vital to farmers.
Someone in Washington, DC, please mail me a penny postcard when Congress decides to subsidize premiums to insure how I make my living.
Meanwhile, the sight, sound and smell of a hypocrite like Congressman Fincher is more than any American should have to bear. The aroma of fermenting pig manure is easier to take than a con artist who hustles the American taxpayer for subsidies – then whines about families trying to get by on food stamps like they’re some kind of danger to national freedom.
He should get an honest job.