All entries for April 2006

April 30, 2006

Three Awesomenesses for Today

Awesomeness No.1

Awesomeness No.2
How Google became a rude word in China from the Guardian

Awesomeness No.3
China ignores Vatican over bishop from the BBC

April 15, 2006

The Trolley Bus Subculture

I have a romance with trolley buses: they are cute, they are comfy and they electrocute people from time to time. I bought a monthly trolley pass to explore all the trolleys in town. Not willing to get lost, I went on the net, searching for the itineraries. There I discovered a whole subculture of trolley bus lover: there were unofficial websites devoted to the trolleys and their counterparts – buses and trams; there were archive photos of the retired machines I used to ride when I was little; there was information on each type of trolley bus with detailed description; there was help for the fans on how to take care of the trolleys; there were external links to other unofficial websites, devoted to the same creatures; there were even poem and songs dedicated to that species of public transport. Now I regret going on the net, because if I were ignorant of all the trolley-bus subculture, my romance with trolleys would have been an exclusive and intimate one.

April 05, 2006

The Sex Life of the Ladybirds: Perversities

Yep, even ladybirds have perversities. On the Petri dishes on display in the labs one can often witness scenes of necrophilia, whereby the male individuals copulate with dead females (sometimes even dead males). Male individuals approach such copulation with grave seriousness, spending as much time on it as they would with a living partner.

Cases of sodomy can also be found, although relatively rarely, among ladybirds living in the wild. The males of one breed attempt to copulate with females of another breed. In some cases, due to the mismatch of reproductive organs, the partners have a hard time detaching from each other, consequently suffering extensive injuries from the intercourse. Crossbreed copulation is believed to be counter-productive as it does not produce offspring and is thus pointless.

Ladybirds, the seemingly cute and innocent creatures with a pretty name, have a propensity to cannibalism. The most violent cannibals are the larvae. However the adults can also indulge in devouring the eggs of the same kind. Pressed by the lack of food the female ladybirds can be found eating the eggs they’ve laid themselves. Such behaviour can be justified: if the environment holds no resources for the female, then it will hardly be able to supply the necessary food for her offspring. By eating the eggs, the females keep themselves alive and boost their ability to lay eggs for when the better times come. Thus, maternal cannibalism has more biological reason than the male’s disposition to sodomy and necrophilia.

Sexual promiscuity, it turns out, is punishable not only for humans, but for ladybirds as well. Adalias have been found to carry an extremely rare STD for the invertebrate animals. Half of the Adalis monitored during their autumn migration were found to have been infected with ticks. There can be up to 20 mature ticks parasites residing on one ladybird. Such parasites were previously found in tropical breeds of ladybirds and named coccipolipus.

Studies at Cambridge have come across two important facts about the relationship of the ticks with the ladybirds. Firstly, the ticks living under the wings of the ladybirds spread during long hours of their copulation. Secondly, although the ticks do not affect the ladybirds themselves significantly, they can radically change the physiology of the female ladybirds, causing them to produce eggs that are incapable of growing into baby ladybirds. These facts suffice for us to label the ticks as an STD.

Some readers may find the private life of the ladybirds resembling human sex life. This has a fairly simple explanation. Sexual reproduction, typical for animals, seeks the same goal and takes similar forms of collaborative work of functionally different partners.

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April 2006

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