Sunday, October 6, 2013

Current Events: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Quirky events in the news lately have caught my eye, as quirky things usually do, and I thought I would mention them here on my blog because... well, because I have a fondness for quirky things!

Let's start off with the good news:

From ABC News

I was born and raised in a suburb of Pittsburgh, and while I never spent much time in the city, I found myself wishing I was back in my home state when I read the news that a giant rubber duck was on its way to the three rivers of the Steel City.  Created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, there are actually several of these huge duck sculptures. They have been on an ambitious tour called "Spreading Joy around the World" since 2007.  While the ducks have travelled all over the world, including France, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil, this stop is the first in the United States.  The giant rubber duck arrived in Pittsburgh on September 27th and will be there until October 27th.  I will actually be in Pittsburgh, but not until mid-November, so I will unfortunately miss seeing this towering yellow ambassador of good will, but anyone who does have the chance should go take a look.  I'm hoping my brother and sister-in-law will snap some photos to share, since they live in the area.  I wonder if there is some way to convince the city of Atlanta that it needs a visit from a 40-foot-tall floating avian ambassador?


Now on to the bad news:

From Alexander Wild

In 2002, a new invasive ant species was discovered in Texas.  The tawny or Rasberry crazy ant (Nylanderia fulva) is a native of South America.  They are called "crazy" because of their quick and erratic movements, and they are a dominant species, quickly displacing other ants, even the invasive fire ant, another scourge here in the South.  While tawny ants are not especially aggressive and do not have the painful sting of the fire ant, their sheer numbers and bizarre attraction to electrical equipment make them a major nuisance.  They can cause short circuits by chewing through electrical insulation, and electrocuted ants release a chemical which causes others to come to the defense, leading to huge numbers of dead ants that can also interfere with electrical equipment.  These ants are extremely difficult to eradicate, and have been expanding their range in the South.  Unfortunately for those of us here in the Peach State, tawny ants were discovered in Albany, Georgia, in August of this year.  According to entomologists, it is probably only a matter of time before they spread throughout the state (global climate change won't help the situation).  I am currently fighting an invasion of what I think are Argentine ants in our kitchen.  These persistent pests are bad enough, but from what I've been reading the tawny ants are orders of magnitude worse -- I am not looking forward to their arrival.

Piles of electrocuted tawny ants (ick!)
(from Business Insider Australia)

Finally, we have the ugly news:

"Fish out of water" is not a good look for the blobfish!
(from The Tarboro Times)

In September, the Ugly Animal Preservation Society announced the winner of its annual "World's Ugliest Animal" mascot selection contest -- the blobfish!  Also known as Psychrolutes marcidus, this gelatinous denizen of the deep lives off the coast of Australia and feeds on crabs and lobsters.  It may indeed have a face that only a mother can love, but the species has a good reason to look miserable -- thanks to deep-sea trawling, the sad-faced blobfish may be in danger of extinction.  One can only hope that the dubious distinction of winning the title of "World's Ugliest Animal" will raise awareness of the blobfish's plight and help to prevent the loss of this remarkable creature.

In its proper habitat, the blobfish is actually not such a bad-looking fellow
(from HubPages)

So there you have it -- the good, the bad, and the ugly in recent news.  And I haven't even mentioned politics (although it may have been impossible to find anything good to share if I had!).

From The Points Guy

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