The Drone, the Bug & the Beat

Bottle-Loving Beetle, a Non-Stop
Beatle & the Beetle’s Real Father

What’s in a name? Much before early rock bands named themselves after insects, or what sounded like it, someone imagined a bug-shaped ‘people’s car,’ and even earlier in Australia, a certain beetle species was already wrongly accused of hitting the beer bottle too often.
But as Volkswagen ended this month production of the beloved ‘Fuca,’ as it was known in Brazil, some thought of crying, while others brought up that it’d outlived even the Nazis (well, at least, those Nazis). Thank goodness then that beetles, and the Beatle, are still going strong.
It’ll be a quick tour through completely different universes, where dreams get crushed by dictators, nature is forced to adapt, and human creativity is bounded only by prejudice. In the end, though, all three stories have something for everyone, for this is, after all, Thursday, and we’re not about to spoil your carefully laid out plans for the weekend.

THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT
For a long time, most people who saw the Julodimorpha saudersii, known as the Buprestid (jewel) beetle infesting empty brown beer bottles, thought it was all about booze, the alcohol, or at least, the sugar left inside. Few noticed then that it wasn’t just any bottle, but only those with an indentation at the bottom that caused the buzz.
But it took Australian entomologists David Rentz and Daryll Gwynne to find out the truth about the misguided love story. It turns out that the males would ‘love long time’ the bottles, thinking they were mating and preserving their species, because the glass resembles the females’ shiny wings.
For that 1983 research, Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbies (the particular kind of beer bottle) For Females, they received the 2011 Ig Noble award for Biology. It made a lot of sense, as it fulfills the Improbable Research premise of entertaining and educate. There was fear that such silly drive would harm the species, but so far, they’re doing just fine.
You may say that love knows no barriers, and all that. But the most appropriate cliche, if there was ever one, would be the old, not everything that shines, etc. They will learn it. At least, be grateful Professors Rentz and Gwynne have cleared the species’ good name, lest not think that just because they’re Australians, well, you know.

THE JEWISH BEETLE
In the early 1930s, Josef Ganz, a Jewish engineer from Frankfurt, changed the history of the automobile by creating the first small family-car, the Maikäfer (May Bug in German). Its design was a triumph of ingenuity and anticipated in years the many Sedans that started getting mass-produced after WWII.
It was, though, a personal disaster for Ganz. He became a target for the Nazis and had to flee Germany, only to see his original concept stolen and given to Ferdinand Porsche to develop into what Hitler called, seven years later, the ‘people’s car,’ an effective piece of propaganda for the mass murderer’s regime.
According to Paul Schilperoord‘s The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz – The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen, while Ganz was being hunted down, arrested and almost assassinated by the Gestapo, his (more)
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Read Also:
* Newspaper Taxis
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That Can’t Be Right

A World Out of Whack in
Four Easy & Weird Stories

Ah, it’s a wonderful world out there. But it may be a matter of perception whose wonders are out there, and how much reality has to be bent to fully appreciate them. After all, as this year’s Ig Noble Award winning Psychology study has so thoroughly proven, ‘Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller.’
If that sounds like nonsense, boy do we have a post for you. From what dads are saying about their kids these days, and that includes those who shouldn’t even be called fathers, to how much arsenic your bowl of rice may be holding, to a completely off the left field study about ugly fonts and car crashes, the list is long.
And it’s all true. Or rather, if this is true, than how much of it you currently have in your life? Better get some, friend; if the world’s going to hell in a handbasket, you may still need to find your own seat. Or you may just want to forget it all and enjoy your football game, but wait, there’s something weird about that too.
It’s likely that from this season on, your favorite sport may no longer be as enjoyable as it used to be. First, research proved that the game itself has been causing brain damage to a lot of still able bodies. Then a dispute within the league, has unleashed onto the fields a platoon of unprepared referees that have so far wreak havoc on the season.
On top of that, you may still not be aware of the NFL’s best-kept secret: Continue reading

Take me There

Fair Fares & New  
York Taxi Drivers 

Being a vertical city, everything goes up in New York. Including cab fares. So if you’re coming over in September, bring extra change (or charge) to pay for your rides. They’ll cost more, even though they still won’t buy you a silent ride, or a clean backseat, or the fastest way to get to you wherever. Just pay up, tip well, and get out.
Such bluntness is the essence of what’s expected from this city, even though few still exercise it. Not much else reflects its gritty character as yellow cabs do, however. London motormen may have an encyclopedic brain; San Francisco drivers have their own app. But with one hand on the wheel while screaming in a foreign language at the Blue Tooth, New York cabbies can beat them all up.
We’re not about to give away the secrets for a pleasant ride for we still care for our own necks. Or as the locals say, spill the beans and you may sleep with the fishes. But even if there were anything pleasant about shaking from side to side in the backseat of a Medallion cab (if you have to ask, forget about it), we wouldn’t recommend you to dwell too much on it.
That’s because you may need to keep an eye on the driver at all times, lest he talks to you, during a break on his endless exchange on the phone, and you may not be paying attention. Besides, if you know what’s good for you, you’d better interject a few trajectory tips Continue reading

The Heavenly & the Disturbing

Venus’s Last Trip Across the Sun (in a
Century) & the Annual Dead Duck Day

It’s not unusual for two scientifically relevant events to happen in the same day. But while the transit of Venus in front of the Sun is the rarest of the two, the anniversary of Dead Duck Day packs a surprisingly, chock-full-of-meanings punch.
Venus won’t be seen in this neck of the Solar System before everybody alive today, and probably their immediate children, will be long dead. But what happened to a dead duck, 17 years ago, has became the holy grail to a whole branch of animal behavior research.
Beyond sharing the same date, though, these events have little else in common. But as astronomers and biologists expect to learn a bit more about the orbits of heavenly bodies and the life of mallard ducks, we should all benefit from their insights.
Before we too learn something about what’s happening today in the sky, where thousands will be tracking the rendezvous of Venus with the Sun, and at least in the Netherlands, where those fateful ducks met, a few words of caution.
First, about the Sun. The tragic Greek hero Icarus perished because his feather and wax wings melted as he flew too close to it. Well, for us, flightless mortals, we can’t even look at the Sun. So protect your eyes if Continue reading

The Drone, the Car & the Beat

Bottle-Loving Beetle, a Beatle in
Brazil & the Beetle’s Real Father

What’s in a name? Much before early rock bands named themselves after insects, or what sounded like it, someone imagined a bug-shaped ‘people’s car,’ and even earlier in Australia, a certain beetle species was already wrongly accused of hitting the beer bottle too often.
It’ll be a quick tour through completely different universes, where dreams get crushed by dictators, nature is forced to adapt, and human creativity is bounded only by prejudice. In the end, though, all three stories have something for everyone, for this is, after all, Friday, and we’re not about to spoil your carefully laid out plans for the weekend.

THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT
For a long time, most people who saw the Julodimorpha saudersii, known as the Buprestid (jewel) beetle infesting empty brown beer bottles, thought it was all about the alcohol attraction, or at least, the sugar left inside. Few noticed then that it wasn’t just any bottle, but only those with an indentation at the bottom that caused the buzz.
But it took Australian entomologists David Rentz and Daryll Gwynne to find out the truth about the misguided love story. It turns out that the males would ‘love long time’ the bottles, thinking they were mating and Continue reading