Saturday, May 3, 2008

Why Do Cats Hang Around Us? | Weird Facts

weird facts
Your hunch is correct. Your cat decided to live with you, not the other way around. The sad truth is, it may not be a final decision.

But don’t take this feline diffidence personally. It runs in the family. And it goes back a long way — about 12,000 years, actually.

Those are among the inescapable conclusions of a genetic study of the origins of the domestic cat, being published today in the journal Science.

The findings, drawn from an analysis of nearly 1,000 cats around the world, suggest that the ancestors of today’s tabbies, Persians and Siamese wandered into Near Eastern settlements at the dawn of agriculture. They were looking for food, not friendship.

They found what they were seeking in the form of rodents feeding on stored grain. They stayed for 12 millennia, although not without wandering off now and again to consort with their wild cousins.

The story is quite different from that of other domesticated animals: cattle, sheep, goats, horses — and dogs, cats’ main rivals for human affection. It may even provide insight on the behavior of the animal that, if not man’s best friend, is certainly his most inscrutable.

“It is a story about one of the more important biological experiments ever undertaken,” said Stephen J. O’Brien, a molecular geneticist at the National Cancer Institute’s laboratory in Frederick, Md., and one of the supervisors of the project.

“We think what happened is that cats sort of domesticated themselves,” said Carlos A. Driscoll, the University of Oxford graduate student who did the work, which required him, among other things, to befriend feral cats on the Mongolian steppes.

Today, there are 37 species in the family Felidae, ranging from lions through ocelots down to little Mittens. All domestic cats are descended from the species Felis sylvestris (”cat of the woods”), which goes by the common name “wildcat.”

The species is indigenous to Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. The New World, Japan and Oceania lack wildcats. North America’s closest counterpart is the lynx.

There are five subspecies of wildcats, and they look very much like many pet cats, particularly non-pedigree ones. The Scottish wildcat, for example, is indistinguishable from a barn cat with a mackerel tabby coat. These animals, however, are a true wild species. They are not escaped pets that have become feral, or reverted to the wild.

Driscoll and his collaborators, who included Oxford zoologist David Macdonald, took blood samples and ear punch biopsies from all wildcat subspecies as well as from fancy-breed cats, non-pedigree pet cats and feral cats. They analyzed two kinds of genetic fingerprints: nuclear DNA, which carries nearly all of an animal’s genes and reflects inheritance from both parents, and mitochondrial DNA, which exists outside the cell nucleus, carries only a few genes and descends through the generations only from mothers.

Both fingerprints showed that domesticated cats around the world are most closely related to the wildcat subspecies (called lybica) that lives in the Near East. (War prevented the sampling of Iraqi wildcats, but the researchers believe those animals are of the same species as animals they collected samples from in Israel and on the Arabian Peninsula.)

One might think that people in each region would have domesticated their local wildcats. In that case, European pet cats today would genetically most closely resemble European wildcats and Chinese cats would be descended from East Asian wildcats. But that isn’t the case.

Why not?

Genetics can’t answer the question, but history and archaeology can provide a good guess.

Large-scale grain agriculture began in the Near East’s Fertile Crescent. With the storage of surplus grain came mice, which fed on it and contaminated it.

Settled farming communities with dense rodent populations were a new habitat. Wildcats came out of the woods and grasslands to exploit it. They may have lived close to man — but not petting-close — for centuries.

Eventually, though, natural selection favored individual animals whose genetic makeup by chance made them tolerant of human contact. Such behavior provided them with things — a night indoors, the occasional bowl of milk — that allowed them to out-compete their scaredy-cat relatives.

For people, it was a great package — agriculture, food surplus (and all the civilizing effects that came with it), with domesticated cats thrown in to protect the wealth by eating the mice.

“When that technology was transferred to other cultures, so were the cats,” said Robert Wayne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California in Los Angeles. Therein lies the reason other cultures didn’t domesticate local wildcats, he said. “Why reinvent the wheel?”

This is not true with other acts of animal domestication.

Genetic studies have shown that cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and water buffalo were all domesticated at least twice in independent events. With horses, it happened many times.

The consequence of one other feline behavior — the average cat’s uncertainty about whether it wants to be indoors or out — was also written in the genes Driscoll studied.

He found that a significant fraction of wildcats in Europe, southern Africa and central Asia were hybrids. They carried genetic evidence of having tomcatted around from time to time with their domesticated relatives.

[Via - Anxus.Com]

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Credit Card Which Is Right For You ?

Are you a student ? Have you ever thought of getting a credit card which suits you best ? Here are a few tips for you kindly granted by consolidate credit card debt

When comparing student credit cards, ask the following questions:

1. What is the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) charged on the card? Most student credit cards come with great 0% APR introductory offers, but these typically expire in as little as six months. While it’s best to pay your card off in full every month, many students find that they do carry a balance. If that is likely to be the case for you, pick a card with a low annual percentage rate (APR). It’s not uncommon for interest rates to vary from 11.99% to 19.99%, so you will save quite a bit over the long term by going with the card with the lowest interest rate.

2. What is the introductory offer? Some cards offer a 0% APR for balance transfers, some a 0% APR on purchases, and a few offer this rate on purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. If you have a balance on another card you may wish to transfer it to a new card. Think about how you mainly will be using the card—for purchases, or make a balance transfer from another card. Then choose the card that best fits your needs. As always, it’s prudent financial sense to take cash advances only in an emergency.

3. Which other benefits does the card offer? Many credit cards award you additional benefits, such as cash back or reward points on purchases. These can accumulate into additional perks over time. Again, choose the rewards that best match your interests.

4. Is the APR a fixed rate or a variable rate? Many credit cards come with a variable rate APR, which means that the APR is linked to a financial index. The rate will go up or down as this economic indicator changes, raising or lowering the interest rate on your account. A fixed rate will not change with the financial markets.

5. What are the penalty fees? What are the penalty fees for making a late payment or exceeding the credit limit on the card? Read the Terms and Conditions carefully in order to understand the charges and your responsibilities as an accountholder.

6. What is the default rate and what triggers it? If you are late on a payment or miss a payment altogether, credit card issuers reserve the right to convert your standard APR to a higher default rate. Default rates typically are exceptionally high, often in excess of 30%. Some agreements also let card issuers raise the rate if you default on another loan. Read the fine print to find out what would trigger a default on the card agreement and be sure to avoid any actions that would cause you to be in default.

Are you ready to select one now ?
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Friday, May 2, 2008

Man arrested in Texas for trying to cash $360 billion check | Weird Facts

weird facts -- Charles Ray Fuller must have been planning one big record company.

The 21-year-old North Texas man was arrested last week for trying to cash a $360 billion check, saying he wanted to start a record business. Tellers at the Fort Worth bank were immediately suspicious - perhaps the 10 zeros on a personal check tipped them off.

Fuller, of suburban Crowley, was arrested on a forgery charge. He was released after posting $3,750 bail.

Fuller said his girlfriend's mother gave him the check to start a record business. But bank employees who contacted the account's owner said the woman told them she did not give him permission to take or cash the check.

In addition to the forgery count, Fuller was charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon and possessing marijuana. Officers reported finding less than two ounces of marijuana and a .25-caliber handgun and magazine in his pockets.

[Via - SeattlePI.Com]

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mexican bus drivers say they deserve tips | Weird Facts

weird facts
MEXICO CITY — So what if they rage through traffic, cause at least one accident a day and barely stop for passengers. Drivers of Mexico City's rickety old "pesero" buses say they deserve tips for their harrowing rides.

Since the city approved a fare hike only for newer buses, the union representing pesero drivers says passengers will be asked to pay tips of at least 50 Mexican cents ($0.05) on top of their normal fares to cover gasoline, maintenance and driver training.

The green and white peseros are 20 years old on average, causing major pollution and at least one accident a day, officials said.

But drivers say can't afford to replace them: "How can the government demand we give first-class service with third-rate bus fares?" union chief Jose Luis Tenorio said Wednesday.

Via - WRAL.Com

Britain, which has long prided itself on a reputation for good manners, is becoming increasingly rude

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Finding People Made Easy With a Spoke Search

The internet search engines are constantly evolving. The problem with older search engines like Google, is they are based on methodical and robotic algorithms. The future of search engines will include some social or “voting” aspect to it.

I found a search engine called Spock, coined a ”People search engine” that bases search engine results on Tags. Registered Users of spock can vote down a tag if they feel it is notrelated to something. This helps give a better search experience because people are voting on what is related to what based on keyword tags.
When you search for an item or person, you get pictures of your search, related tags and their pictures, and then finally results from Google. It gives you a nice comprehensive addition, over just searching on google.

The result are simultaneously impressive — a complete portrait of your total web presence — and thoroughly creepy. When Spock was first announced earlier this year a number of people snickered that stalk would be a better name.

But the truth is, that’s killing messenger. All the data Spock crawls is already out there, but you may be in for a shock the first time you see it all in one place.

Pulling data from social networks — MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and others — Spock then condenses and extracts what it considers the most important information about you — namely your occupation and age, though depending on what you’ve listed on your various accounts, it may have even more details.

From the search results profiles you can then click through to vote for whether or not the information is correct, visit the relevant profile page or add tags to people. Just about anyone can edit information on just about any entry.

If you sign up for - A Great Place for Search
, you can claim and manage your own entry or create one if Spock doesn’t yet know about you.

Aside from the slow servers, Spock looks as though it might be genuinely useful — if nothing else it might serve as a wake call for those who don’t realize how little privacy they have left themselves.

I tried to find some info about Putin, that's a Russian president, and here are the results. Aren't those amazing ? I mean in just a few minutes I knew everything I ever wanted to know about the exact person.


Britain, which has long prided itself on a reputation for good manners, is becoming increasingly rude, according to a new poll. | Weird Facts

weird facts
Highly-paid footballers and celebrities are setting a bad example, according to the survey, put out today.

It listed spitting and swearing as the most offensive forms of behaviour.

Almost nine out of 10 people - 86.2 per cent - think Britons have become ruder than a decade ago, the poll for the ITV1 Tonight television program found.

"I suppose it's part of the breakdown in society, the fact that we stopped having respect for figures in authority, partly because those in authority didn't command it,'' Diana Mather, an etiquette coach, said.

Britons traditionally liked to think of themselves as superior to foreigners at things like queuing and giving up their seats on public transport to disabled people or pregnant women.

But the rise of football culture - and football hooligans creating mayhem - has long dented this image abroad, and now Britons themselves acknowledge they have a major problem.

More than half of those asked - 56.5 per cent - thought bad manners were the biggest problem in the country, according to the survey based on answers from some 2800 adults.

Spitting caused the most offence for 27.6 per cent, ahead of swearing by 20.2 per cent, followed by queue-jumping, talking loudly on mobile phones, not saying "please'' or "thank you,'' and belching or passing wind in public.

Nearly 75 per cent of Britons think the behaviour of celebrity footballers encourages bad manners in society.

But when asked to name the worst influence on children's manners, 63.8 per cent blamed the behaviour and lack of discipline of parents, with over 90 per cent saying parents are failing to pass on basic manners to their children.

Some 15.9 per cent said celebrities and footballers were the worst influence, followed by 5.4 per cent for television program.

"I think my generation has a lot to answer for because I think the youth culture in the 60s and early 70s threw out every rule book and thought it was really clever to use four letter words and so on,'' Esther Rantzen, patron of Campaign for Courtesy, said.

"But I think things should go back, not to the old deference, not to grovelling, not to any of that, but just to feeling respect, because I think that would make everyone's life pleasanter.''

[Via - News Not Wanted]

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Rats From Infested House Offered Up for Adoption As Pets | Weird Facts

weird facts
ROCHESTER, Wash. — Rats from a heavily infested house here are being trapped to be offered for adoption as pets.

After being alerted by neighbors, Thurston County animal control officials served a search warrant on April 9 at the residence of Michele Diller, 64. They found that pet rats had ruined the house, chewing through walls, cupboards, drawers and wires, soaking carpets with urine and covering floors with feces. The officials removed a cat, four severely malnourished snakes, five mice and two rats.

Since then, county health officials have said the house will be condemned and Diller has moved to an apartment in neighboring Lewis County to await assisted-living housing.

Poisoned traps were set for a time to eliminate the rats, apparently the offspring of a few Diller purchased as food for the snakes, and more than 100 dead rats have been removed, said Hilary Price of RatsPacNW in Seattle.

Poison was used before her volunteer group got involved, and the rest of the rats are being trapped live to be offered for adoption, said Price, the sister of former Seattle Mariners pitching coach Bryan Price.

Rodent enthusiasts around the state constitute "a huge rat community," Price said.

As of Thursday the group had captured 29 live rats, including 10 babies.

"They're very smart, they're very clean, they can do tricks," Price said. "They're like little miniature dogs."

Before agreeing to move, Diller was saying, `You can't hurt them, they're my friends,'" said Susanne Beauregard, director of Animal Services.

The rats could not survive in the wild because Diller fed them cat food, so they have no scavenging skills, and poor eyesight would also make them easy prey, Price said.

Diller has been promised her cat, Cheyenne, will be returned once she has long-term accommodations, which could happen as early as May 1, Beauregard said. Two snakes have been adopted by new owners and two red-tailed boa constrictors are recovering under veterinary care.

[Via - WRAL]

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Joined the 3gb Community Already ?

Recently found this website, called 3gb. I am pretty sure that you're familiar with a lot of social networking sites. So do I, but somehow i prefer this one.

After a registration you get 2 gb of storage space, not only it allows you to get in touch with old friends, make new friends, post pictures and videos but it even lets you listen to MP3 tracks and radio as well.

But what i really like about this site is that it's simple, easy to use and it's so much fun :)

Now remember this is a new community so it’s not like Hurox, Harley Social, AllSmackTalk, MySpace, or even Facebook which means there aren’t a lot of people using it yet but that also means that there isn’t a bunch of crazy people on the network either. It’s really a great way to meet new people. I personally am all about networking so I am going to use the site to network with others around the world.

I'm not a fan of writing a long reviews. Just go on and check it out for yourself. If you like it, than you like it :) Try it here: 3gb

Don't forget to come back and leave some comments. What's perfect already? What needs to be changed ?


Weird Facts: US prisoner sues over weight loss

weird facts
An overweight prisoner in the United States is suing the authorities for not feeding him enough after he lost about seven stone (45kg) in jail.

Broderick Lloyd Laswell, who is awaiting trial for murder, dropped to 22 stone (140kg) after eight months inside the Arkansas prison.

He claims his vision has gone blurry while trying to exercise.

The prison says the meals average 3,000 calories a day - more than the US recommended daily intake for adults.

Laswell has filed a federal law suit complaining Benton County jail does not provide inmates with enough food.

Hungry again

According to the suit, Laswell weighed 29 stone (187kg) when he was jailed in September.

Police say he has been charged with fatally beating and stabbing a man, the Associated Press news agency reported.

"On several occasions I have started to do some exercising and my vision went blurry and I felt like I was going to pass out," he wrote in his complaint.

"About an hour after each meal my stomach starts to hurt and growl. I feel hungry again."

He then goes on to complain about the lack of physical exercise, adding: "The only reason we lost weight in here is because we are literally being starved to death."

The suit also asks that the county be ordered to serve hot meals instead of cold food.

[Via - BBC]

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