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In the United Kingdom, overfilled kettles were wasting £68 million per year; the rich refused to stop clearing their peat bogs for grouse shooting; a penis-shaped Kentish strawberry was not made by snails; arson threatened live-born Belfastian lizards; and 86 percent of gang members were found to suffer from antisocial-personality disorders, 59 percent from anxiety disorders, and 25 percent from psychosis. Hundreds of bird-watchers saw the first white-throated needletail spotted in Britain since 1991 fly into a wind turbine on the Isle of Harris and die. The Australian night parrot was sighted alive for the first time in a century at Lake Eyre, but none were to be found at Lake Disappointment. An angry gyrfalcon covered in baby-fulmar vomit traveled by bus from Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður to Reykjavík. Hawk moths that have been harnessed with fishing line and played the sound of attacking bats make clicking noises with their genitals. Discs of store-bought cabbage better resist attacks by looper caterpillar moths if the cabbage discs are first trained to match the moths’ circadian rhythms. Blue sea stars whose arm tips were severed by scientists scuttled senselessly in seeking their reefs, thereby proving that their arm tips were their eyes.

Mississippian Indians of the Cumberland Plateau believed that fish and birds can permeate the barriers separating the three layers of the universe. Flowers were used at Natufians’ funerals as early as the twelfth millennium b.c. Egyptians adorned their dead with meteorites in the fourth millennium b.c. Park rangers asked that visitors to Death Valley stop attempting to fry eggs on the sidewalk. An Indiana sand dune swallowed a boy. Geologists listened to the screams of volcanoes. Physicists proved that tea leaves can flow up through pouring water and into the pot. Plants perform accurate arithmetic to avoid starving at night. Electrode patches alleviate the intractable constipation of children. Neurologists taught a computer to daydream and threatened to give it a stroke. Doctors proposed redistricting organ donors. Among registered U.S. voters, 18 percent prefer dinosaurs as pets. Because the penguin swims so well, it cannot fly. Live-born lizards who fend for themselves after birth may take more risks in adulthood than those who had their first meal given to them. Yogurt tastes more expensive when eaten with a silver spoon.

Breast-feeding increases Britons’ odds of upward social mobility by 24 percent and decreases their risk of downward social mobility by 20 percent. A British baby was transferred off the Berlin Heart, whose capacity is one tablespoonful of blood. Researchers inspired by cri du chat built a new baby-cry analyzer. “Cry,” explained the director of Brown University’s Center for the Study of Children at Risk, “is an early warning sign that can be used in the context of looking at the whole baby.” The hearts of a Swedish church choir were found to beat in synchrony. The goals of depressed people tend to be too general. Impulsive murderers are substantially less intelligent than premeditative murderers. U.S. intelligence agents behave less rationally than average college-educated adults. The tweets of Christians contain more instances of “friend” and “brother” than do those of atheists, whose tweets contain more “because”s and “think”s. The medial prefrontal cortex is highly activated by the self-consciousness of adolescents. Beachgoing Frenchmen are more likely to approach women with butterfly tattoos on their lower backs. Cars with uncramped driver’s seats are more likely to be parked illegally in New York City. Gender bias was identified in the vowel sounds of given names. Old black people smell less well than old white people. Unattractive people are treated more cruelly by their co-workers. “Frankly,” said the lead author of the study, “it’s an ugly finding.”

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February 2014

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