2-1/2 Cents
   Sunday, December 3, 2017
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Page for Things Right Out of
"The Book of Useless Information"
So there's a pretty thick book I bought with 17 chapters; each chapter filled with the Unexplained, Games, Wild Things, and other weird things, all useless by definition.  We've finally made it to chapter 3. Each week, I'll try to include one item from one of the chapters (in order, if possible).  You'll learn this information as I do...and you're welcome to comment on all or any of the stories.
Chapter 4 - The Wild

Ant-ics: The Doings of an industrious Insect

Considered more of a pest than a pet, getting positive PR is not picnic for an ant.  But despite their perceived lowly status, ants are anything but common.

* * * * *

Ants outnumber humans a million to one.  Their combined weight outweighs the combined weight of all the humans in the world.  Possessing the largest of insect brains, an ant's intellect reportedly rivals the processing power of a Macintosh II computer.  Yet, despite these distinctions, ants are stepped on the world over. Respect is due!

Long Live the Queen

In the ant world, males are superfluous.  During the queen's brief courtship, she mates with serveral "kings," extracting and storing enough sperm to last her 10- to 30-year reign.  No longer necessary, the male ants soon die.  The queen then gives birth to thousands of subjects, populating her empire.  Her fertilized eggs become females; unfertilized eggs become males.  Most females are born sterile, consigned to be workers.

Ants pass through four life stages; egg, larvae, pupae, and adult.  The tiny ant eggs are sticky allowing them to bond together for ease of care.  Since eggs and larvae are susceptible to cold temperatures, worker ants must ferry them from deep within the nest to the nest's surface to control their climate.

Models of Civility

Most ants live in organized, industrious harmony.  Young workers care for their queen mother and larvae, then graduate to nest duties such as engineering, digging, and sanitation.  Finally, when they are older (and closer to death), they advance to the dangerous jobs of foraging and security.  By frequently switching jobs, ants remain cross-trained and ready for emergencies.

Howerver, such civility is not universal.  Members of the barbarous Polyergus rufescens species, or slave-maker ants, raid neighboring nests to steal their young. Sir John Lubbock, an acclaimed chronicler of ant behavior, reported that certain slave-making ants were so dependent on their minions that they would starve to death if the slaves failed to feed them.

Agricultural Innovators

Only four of the world's species engage in agriculture: humans, termites, bark beetles, and ants.  Leaf-cutter ants carefully cultivate subterranean fungus gardens by spraying their crops with self-produced antibiotics to ward off disease, then fertilizing them with their protease-laced anal secretions.  Ants also engage in livestock farming.  They domesticate and raise aphids, which they milk for honey-dew like a farmer would a cow for its milk.  The homeydew provides important nourishment for ants, which are incapable of chewing or swallowing solids.

Some ants are also accomplished hunters.  Marching in long processions while carrying their eggs and larvae on their backs, nomadic South American army ants attack everything in their path.  Though blind, they fearlessly swarm on reptiles, birds, small mammals, and other insects (whch they kill but don't eat).  Up to 700,000 members strong, an army ant colony can make thousands of kills each day.


HOW'S THAT FOR BEING IN THE KNOW?

 
December 3, 2017

"These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" is a hit song written by Lee Hazlewood and recorded by Nancy Sinatra. It charted January 22, 1966 and reached No. 1 in the United States Billboard Hot 100 and in the UK Singles Chart.

Subsequently, many cover versions of the song have been released in a range of styles: metal, pop, rock, punk rock, country, dance, and industrial. Loretta Lynn, Jessica Simpson, Kon Kan, Geri Halliwell, The Residents, Megadeth, Jewel, Operation Ivy, Parquet Courts, and KMFDM also released covers of the song. Leningrad Cowboys titled their version "These Boots", and released a video of the song, directed by Aki Kaurismäki.





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