Thursday, January 21, 2010

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CAN ANIMALS BE MORE INTERESTING THAN PEOPLE? According to a study published in the journal "BMC Evolutionary Biology", some spiders cooperate more with relatives. German researchers divided Stegodyphus tentoriicola spiders into 2 groups - siblings and non-siblings - while studying their food collecting behavior. Siblings worked better together when looking for food and were more likely to share digestive enzymes for quicker eating of prey. Even in large groups, where fracturing interferes with productivity, sibling spiders avoided destructive patterns and were more productive. It seems cooperation among relatives is common in the animal kingdom. For humans with the ability to reason, this should be reasonable. According to researchers at The Australian National University, male fiddler crabs defend neighboring females from invaders in return for sex. Both males and females are territorial and live in burrows; but males have a large, defensive claw and females have 2 small, feeding claws. When out-of-the-area fiddler crabs were brought in, males fought off male invaders on neighboring females' territory 95% of the time. However, when the invaders were female, the males fought them off only 15% of the time. Sex for protection is a "defense coalition" - something wives should remember when invaded by things like leaking faucets and peeling paint. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the brown pelican was off the endangered list as of November 11, 2009. The brown pelican was declared an endangered species in 1970. For almost 40 years these birds had to struggle to survive being hunted for their feathers and being exposed to widespread habitat loss. However, the recovery of the species is largely due to the 1972 ban on the pesticide DDT, which devastated their population. Brown pelicans are again prevalent across Florida, the Gulf and Pacific coasts and the Caribbean due to the 1973 Endangered Species Act in action. Animals listed as being critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature are presumed to be extinct. Not so, however, with the Beck's petrel. The Beck's petrel is a dark brown seabird with a pale belly and a tube-like nose. Although this species hadn't been seen since the 1920's, an Israeli ornithologist photographed 30 of them in flight over islands northeast of Papua, New Guinea in March 2008. Because the exact location of their breeding grounds isn't known, conservationists plan to search the area. Obviously, they hope the saying "birds of a feather flock together" is scientific fact.
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WHY ISN'T COMMON SENSE COMMON? Costco, the nationwide warehouse club, decided to use common sense and accept food stamps. Under political pressure Costco accepted food stamps in Brooklyn and Queens and soon expanded to all New York stores. Costco hoped to accept food stamps at half its 407 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico by Thanksgiving 2009 and the rest when it got regulatory approval from the states. Although Costco didn't think there would be much response from food stamp recipients, new members said they joined because food stamps were accepted. With 36 million Americans receiving food stamps, Costco will profit from its mistake. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the number of overweight children ages 6-19 tripled between 1970 and 2007. The study suggested these children are much likelier to develop heart disease between ages 35-50. A study released at a 2007 Heart Association conference found that the neck arteries in overweight children were similar to 45-year-olds. That plus abnormal cholesterol levels put them at high risk for heart disease. The solution is more exercise and less junk food. However, with Time magazine reporting 32% of children were overweight in 2008, common sense isn't common enough. A common sense study by the Stress Research Institute of Stockholm University found that men who hold their anger at work increased their risk of heart attack up to fivefold. From 1992 to 2003 the study followed 2,755 employed men without histories of heart attacks. After adjustments for age, socioeconomic factors, risk behaviors, job strain and biological risk factors, it was determined most of the 47 participants who had heart attacks or died from heart disease covertly coped with problems at work . By letting things pass without saying anything, they didn't have a say in their health. Finally, instead of using common sense, a 2009 study by New Zealand's University of Otago used World Health Organization surveys of 34,493 people in 15 countries to discover getting married is good for the mental health of both genders. However, women are more likely than men to be depressed in their first marriage. Not surprisingly, the study also discovered ending a marriage by separation, divorce or death can be bad for the mental health of both genders. Supposedly, women are more likely to have substance abuse problems and men are more likely to be depressed. Obviously, the "for better or worse" gets even worse.

Knight Pierce Hirst

I may be the only writer who has moved to Los Angeles for the weather.

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