Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Monday, 26 March 2012

'Cat-sized' rats invade Florida Keys; Grow Up to 9lbs... -

'Cat-sized' rats invade Florida Keys; Grow Up to 9lbs... - 

The Florida Keys' battle with an invasive species of giant rats isn't over yet.

On Grassy Key, a glut of Gambian giant pouched rats — originally bred and released by a local — have been foiling conservation officials' efforts to eradicate them, KeysNet reported Sunday.

Officials worry that if the hungry cat-sized rats make it to the mainland, they could wipe out some crops and upset delicate ecological balance.

"We thought we had them whipped as of 2009," said Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

About 20 of the creatures, which grow to nine pounds and are often mistaken for possums, were trapped on the island during a trio of commission efforts last year, Hardin said.

"I would not imagine there's more than another couple of dozen at most. We've caught them all within a half-mile of each other," he said.

"We think they have not moved far but they clearly reproduced," he added.

Plans are in place to begin another round of trapping of the vermin in July or August.

The massive rodents first appeared on the island over ten years ago after a local exotic pets breeder let some escape, and they've proved plenty pesky since.


Scientists: Venice sinking five times faster than thought -

Scientists: Venice sinking five times faster than thought - 

Venice appears to have more nicknames than street names. It’s known as the "Queen of the Adriatic," the "City of Water," "City of Masks," "City of Bridges," "The Floating City," and "City of Canals."
But is Venice destined to become "The Divers' Paradise" much faster than we thought? New research by U.S. scientists suggests it is sinking more than five times faster than experts in Venice believe.
Saying that the city is sinking is just about as obvious as saying that the wind will always blow in Chicago. It’s just a thing of nature. And there’s nothing anybody can do to stop it.  

While Venetians and tourists know that Venice's appeal is due to its undeniable beauty, with its Gothic and Byzantine palazzos appearing to float on the canals and lagoon, much of the city's allure comes from the fact that it appears to be disappearing.
So you don’t need a scientist to tell you that Venice is sinking. In fact, sometimes they tell you otherwise. Back in the 1980s Venetians rejoiced at the news that the city had finally stabilized.  But, to use an Italian sailor’s jargon, that theory “loses water from all sides.”
It’s quite obvious to the naked eye (or rather, to the naked ankle when it floods) that parts of Venice are flooding more and more often. To tourists, walking in a flooded St. Mark’s Square might be a unique photo opportunity, but to Venetians it’s a sign of things to come. 


Popcorn Has More Antioxidants Than Fruit and Vegetables, Study Says -

Popcorn Has More Antioxidants Than Fruit and Vegetables, Study Says - 

Popcorn, when it's not slathered in butter and coated in salt, is already known to be a healthy snack food and now a group of scientists say it may even top fruits and vegetables in antioxidant levels.
The researchers said they found great amounts of antioxidants known as polyphenols in popcorn and explained that the substances are more concentrated in the snack, which is made up of about four percent water, while the antioxidants are more diluted in fruits and vegetables, many of which are made of up 90 percent water.
That's the same principle that gives dried fruits an antioxidant edge over their fresh counterparts.

One serving of popcorn has up to 300mg of polyphenols, which is much higher than previously believed and nearly double the 160mg for all fruits per serving, according to the researchers, who presented their findings at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego.
They also found that the crunchy hulls of the popcorn have the highest concentration of polyphenols and fiber.
"Those hulls deserve more respect," said researcher Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. "They are nutritional gold nuggets."
The scientists warned, though, preparation is key to culling popcorn's health benefits.
"Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories, of course," Vinson guided.

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/health/2012/03/26/popcorn-has-more-antioxidants-than-fruit-and-vegetables-study-says/

Easter Egg Hunt Canceled Due To Aggressive Parents - parents can't stay out of their children's lives -

Easter Egg Hunt Canceled Due To Aggressive Parents - parents can't stay out of their children's lives - 

Organizers of an annual Easter egg hunt attended by hundreds of children have canceled this year's event, citing the behavior of aggressive parents who swarmed into the tiny park last year, determined that their kids get an egg.

That hunt was over in seconds, to the consternation of egg-less tots and their own parents. Too many parents had jumped a rope set up to allow only children into Bancroft Park in a historic area of Colorado Springs.

Organizers say the event has outgrown its original intent of being a neighborhood event.

Parenting observers cite the cancellation as a prime example of "helicopter parents" — those who hover over their children and are involved in every aspect of their children's lives — sports, school, and increasingly work — to ensure that they don't fail, even at an Easter egg hunt.

That's the perfect metaphor for millennial children. They (parents) can't stay out of their children's lives. They don't give their children enough chances to learn from hard knocks, mistakes.
- Ron Alsop, author of "The Trophy Kids Grow Up"
"They couldn't resist getting over the rope to help their kids," said Ron Alsop, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and author of The Trophy Kids Grow Up, which examines the "millennial children" generation.

"That's the perfect metaphor for millennial children. They (parents) can't stay out of their children's lives. They don't give their children enough chances to learn from hard knocks, mistakes."

Alsop and others say the parenting phenomenon began in earnest when Baby Boomers who decorated their cars with "Baby on Board" signs in the 1980s began having children. It has prompted at least two New York companies to establish "take your parent to work day" for new recruits as parents remain involved even after their children become adults.

Last April's egg hunt, sponsored by the Old Colorado City Association, attracted hundreds of parents and children and experienced a few technical difficulties, said Mazie Baalman, owner of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and sponsor of the event.

There was no place to hide the plastic eggs, which were filled with donated candy or coupons redeemable at nearby businesses. So thousands of eggs were placed in plain view on the grass. A bullhorn to start the event malfunctioned, so Baalman, master of ceremonies, used a public address system that was hard to hear.

"So everybody thinks you said 'Go,' and everybody goes, and it's over in seconds," Baalman said. "If one parent gets in there, other parents say, 'If one can get in we all can get in,' and everybody goes."

Read more -