Work of a Researcher
“Field work is always challenging,” explained Courtney Marneweck of South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal in a recent journal article, but studying the sociology of a white rhino’s dung meant developing a “pattern-recognition algorithm” to figure out “smell profiles” of 150 animals’ feces — after tracking them to observe them in the act. Wrote Marneweck, “I think my record for waiting for a rhino to poo was 7 1/2 hours.” Conclusion: Rhinos use feces to send distinct social signals on genetically compatible herds, mating access and predator dangers.
The Way the World Works
“Retiring” the Herd: Settlement of a class-action lawsuit against a group of dairy co-ops was announced in January with milk producers agreeing to pay $52 million on charges they had conspired to fix the dairy supply for years to get top-dollar prices. Among the producers’ primary tactics, allegedly, was using what the industry calls “herd retirement,” which is “retirement” only in the sense that 500,000 healthy young cows were slaughtered – just to drive up prices by eliminating otherwise-available milk. The $52 million will be for consumers in 15 states and Washington, D.C.
Leading Economic Indicator
Doughnut lovers have legitimately mused for years how U.S. law could condemn, say, marijuana, yet permit Krispy Kreme to openly sell its seemingly addictive sugary delights on America’s streets. Sonia Garcia, 51, realized a while back that residents of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, needed Krispy Kreme fixes so much that she earns a handsome living running a black market from El Paso, Texas, bringing in 40 boxes at a time and re-selling from the trunk of her car at a 60 percent markup, pointing out to a Los Angeles Times reporter in January that her trafficking has already put one son through engineering school. (Mexico City now has Krispy Kremes, but apparently the company’s distribution system cannot yet vanquish Sonia Garcia’s car.)
The neonatal intensive care unit of Texas Health Fort Worth disclosed in January that the secret to keeping the most fragile prematurely born babies alive is to quickly stick them into Ziploc freezer bags to create, according to a clinician, a “hot house effect.” (It turns out that merely raising the temperature in the delivery room had only marginal effect.)
A News of the Weird Classic (April 2013)
Undocumented immigrant Jose Munoz, 25, believed himself an ideal candidate for President Obama’s 2012 initiative for children, in that he had been brought to the United States by his undocumented parents before age 16, had no criminal record, and had graduated from high school (with honors, even). Since graduation, however, he had stayed at his parents’ home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, jobless, unenterprisingly “vegging,” making it difficult to prove the final requirement of the law: that he had lived continuously in the U.S. since graduation (since just lying around the house leaves no paper trail). After initial frustrations, Munoz finally proved his residency by submitting his Xbox Live records documenting that his computer’s Wisconsin location had been accessing video games, daily, year after year.