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"Hint: It's not about the kids."

In 2002, now-disgraced stock analyst Jack Grubman (previously) was the central figure in a preschool-placement scandal in New York's famously Wall Street connected 92nd Street Y.
The Price Of Perfection
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 16, 2013 - 34 comments

The players in a mutualistic symbiosis: insects, bacteria, viruses, and virulence genes.

One of the many problems farmers of various kinds of legumes need to deal with is the pea aphid. They reproduce incredibly fast and live by sucking the sap out of the plants, an electron micrograph of one in action. However, while they are terrifying parasites of legumes, they have their own yet more horrific parasites, a parasitoid wasp. Here is a really nice close up picture of one doing its thing, a video of the act, and here is a brain meltingly horrific video of a dissection of the mummified aftermath 8 days later. Essentially, these wasps deposit their eggs in a pea aphid and the growing larva feeds on it, developing there for about a week, and then consuming the host from the inside out like a Xenomorph. When it’s done, the wasp larva dries the aphid’s cuticle into a papery brittle shell and an adult wasp emerges from the aphid mummy. Legume farmers love them, and you can even order their mummies online these days. However, farmers noticed that the wasps didn't work as effectively on all of the aphids, and so researchers went to work figuring out why. It turns out that all aphids have a primary bacterial endosymbiont living inside their cells, in addition to and just like a mitochondria, and that many have some combination of five other secondary endosymbionts. Interestingly, two of those other five, Hamiltonella defensa and Serratia symbiotica have been shown to confer varying levels of resistance to the parasitoid wasp, allowing the aphid to survive infection. However, it turns out that there is yet one more layer to this story, [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 22, 2012 - 50 comments

Nightmare fuel for wasps

Researchers at Oregon State University have uncovered a unprecedented find: a spider attacking a wasp, both captured in amber (larger image here). The story, published in the journal Historical Biology, details that the attack occurred some 100 million years ago, during the early Cretaceous, in what is now Myanmar. Both the spider and the wasp belong to now-extinct species. The amber fragment also contained the body of another spider in the same web, which may be the oldest evidence yet for social behaviour in spiders.
posted by ricochet biscuit on Oct 10, 2012 - 41 comments

Plum tastes yum.

Willy Bum Bum. Not safe for anything, really (cartoon willies and bums).
posted by cmoj on Sep 16, 2012 - 52 comments

buzz buzz buzz

In 1978 a tiny English company called Electronic Dream Plant produced their first product, the EDP Wasp synthesizer, the first of a short-lived range of creepy-crawly-named devices. In the golden age of big wooden and metal synths the wasp was made of plastic, battery-powered, with a built-in speaker, a keyboard with no moving parts, and used a brilliantly minimalist CMOS circuit design (in fact, people are still copying the Wasp filter circuit). It was the first analog synth to be truly affordable. The Wasp's accessibility, unique sound and portability saw it quickly used by musicians ranging from buskers to rock stars. [more inside]
posted by w0mbat on Nov 24, 2011 - 22 comments

The Guy Who Collected the Hornet's Nest

Wasps' nests: nuisance, a source of tasty treats, or just a tongue twister? If you are a Social Wasp Enthusiast check out the Collection of Monster Nests (video tour). [via]
posted by benzenedream on Jan 14, 2011 - 20 comments

The gall of it all

Galls or plant galls are abnormal outgrowths of plant tissues. Some are hideous and some strangely beautiful, and some can even be mistaken for an actual crop of the tree. Galls often form due to insects or fungi, but the plant is an unwilling and helpless partner.
posted by rosswald on Mar 7, 2010 - 23 comments

"The cat... quickly got bored of it and meowed to be let out."

From Matthias Wandel, the inventor of the wooden marble calculator and the non-wooden eyeballing game, now comes the wooden Jenga pistol and its successor, as well as the wooden geodesic cat storage device and wooden wasp sucker.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 20, 2009 - 18 comments

Wasp performs roach-brain-surgery to make zombie slave-roaches

Wasp performs roach-brain-surgery to make zombie slave-roaches "Ampulex compressa is a wasp that has evolved to tackle roaches, insert a stinger into their brains and disable their escape reflexes. This lets the wasp use the roach's antennae to steer the roach to its lair, where it can lay its egg in it. ... Seeing a full-grown wasp crawl out of a roach suddenly makes those Alien movies look pretty derivative. " Via Boing Boing
posted by badlydubbedboy on Feb 3, 2006 - 49 comments

When I first saw this

When I first saw this in the Indiana Living section of the Indianapolis Star, I nearly did a spit take on my morning coffee.

These "educational" dolls have names like Starlet Stephanie, N.Y. Sammy, San Juan Carmen, Windy City Girl, East L.A. Lupe, Beantown Cynthia, and Confederate Tammy, and seem to be the worst sort of stereotyping (as well as relying on overly simplistic moralizing backstories).

What... no Waspy Wendy? Apparently they're working on a "Black-American" (from the article, I assume they mean "African-American"). Shouldn't children, by definition, be innocent, and not be subjected to these badly designed, poorly plotted, crypto-racist, "Ghetto-Patch kids?"
posted by jpburns on Jan 9, 2002 - 24 comments

Zeldman responds

Zeldman responds to the the many concerns people have expressed over the WaSP's recent Browser Upgrade Campaign. Read it if you love the web.
posted by ericost on Mar 7, 2001 - 6 comments

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