Shark control and Satchmo
ARE sharks the oafish and vicious creatures so many people make them out to be? Are we misjudging them? Do they have a civilised and cultured side? (And I am not speaking here of rugby).
Australian scientists have discovered that sharks are actually sophisticated creatures with an affinity for music, especially jazz, according to Sky News.
At the Macquarie University Fish Lab they've have found that the sharks are able to associate music with food rewards - and jazz is more their bag than classical.
The researchers trained baby Port Jackson sharks. They learned to go to a feeding station far better when played jazz music than any other kind.
"Sound is really important for aquatic animals; it travels well underwater and fish use it to find food, hiding places and even to communicate," said the study's lead author, Catarina Vila-Pouca, from the university's department of biological sciences.
While the sharks reacted well to jazz, associate professor Culum Brown said they under-performed when confronted with classical music.
"It was obvious that the sharks knew that they had to do something when the classical music was played, but they couldn't figure out that they had to go to a different location," he said.
"The task is harder than it sounds, because the sharks had to learn that different locations were associated with a particular genre of music, which was then paired with a food reward.
"Perhaps with more training they would have figured it out," said Vila-Pouca.
Have we been wasting our time and resources all these years with nets and attempts to set up electrical barriers? Should we rather go for underwater Louis Armstrong and a bit of the classics maybe?
The trick, of course, would be to teach the johnnies that the feeding grounds are way out to sea – not the beaches. That's a challenge, to be sure, but these folk at Macquarie Fish Lab could be pointing the way.
THE current escalation of tensions in the Middle East reminds Rob Nicolai, Howick's resident theoretical physicist, of the Battle of Thermopylae long, long ago when 300 Spartans under King Leonidas, and other Greek allies, held back the Persians (today's Iranians) under King Xerxes.
Rob points out that Iran has 10 times the population of Israel but lacks adjoining territory from which to launch an attack.
If they chose to attack, it would have to be by flying Persian carpet.
"They are risking their carpet and rug distribution network as all flying Persian rugs would have to serve in the invasion.
"How they would handle the counter air strikes remains to be seen."
An intriguing point. Yet again, Howick makes a telling contribution to world affairs and analysis of the strategic balance.
If beer makes you drear but wine makes you shine,
Though lots of sherry makes you too merry;
And if whisky makes you frisky and brandy makes you randy,
Then don't be a Loner,
Join your pals in the pub and drink Coca-Cola!
READER (and poet) Ray Gorven reminds us that it was 132 years ago last week that Coke was first sold at Jacob's Pharmacy, Atlanta, Georgia, in the US, by John "Doc" Pemberton, the pharmacist, who made it by a formula based on coca leaves and kola nuts.
Coca-Cola was first sold as a pick-me-up medicine but soon relaunched as a refreshing drink that has spread world-wide, its formula still a closely guarded secret.
THE owners of a wildlife park in Alberta, Canada, decided it was time their resident bear was given a treat. So Doug Bos and Debbie Rowland put Berkley the bear into their car and drove him to a Dairy Queen ice cream parlour.
There they videoed Berkley being fed a much-appreciated ice cream through the car window, by the owner of the parlour.
But – oops! – they'd forgotten to tell the police they were taking the bear away from the zoo. A wildlife regulation said they should and, as the video circulated on CTV and elsewhere, they incurred a pesky fine.
An expensive ice cream. But at least Berkley enjoyed it.
DESCARTES walks into a bar.
Barman: "Can I get you a drink?"
Decartes: "I think not."
Ping! He disappears.
It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.