This Week in WTF, July 17, 2015

– Everyone does romance in their own way: Cats purr to indicate happiness and contentment—or whatever passes for those in the warped mind of a cat, anyway. Humans purr, for the most part, to imitate cats in a semi-sarcastic manner. Now we know that some species of spider make purring noises as a form of seduction—except not ironically, the way humans might (indirect h/t Alice). Spiders don’t have ears, though, so they actually do it for the vibrations. You can make your own joke about that last bit.

Personally, I like to think that spiders are learning all of our best movie quotes from the tactile impact of sound waves coming from televisions, and repeating them to each other in spider code.

"Adult female Phidippus audax jumping spider in Nashville, Tennessee" by Kaldari (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons, modified by me (dialogue from "Say Anything")

– Today in “not a scene from a Japanese horror film”: A mom is seen pushing her son in a swing. For a rather long period of time. Possibly since the previous evening. Turns out her son is dead. She didn’t seem fully aware of this, though. I’m not going to make any jokes here.

– “Is your iPhone on fire, or are you just happy to see me?”: A man in New York claims that he suffered severe leg burns after his iPhone 5c exploded in his pocket. I’m glad I skipped the 5 and went straight from 4s to 6. Continue reading


What this Place Needs Is a Crystal Shard

During an enjoyable bit of geography geekdom on Facebook today, the discussion turned to the Kerguelen Islands, which are located in the southern Indian Ocean—or the Southern Ocean, depending on which map you use.. The remote islands are part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, and the permanent human population consists exclusively of scientific researchers. I had a kind of odd fascination with the Kerguelen Islands as a kid, perhaps because they are a rather large land mass (2,786 square miles) in an exceedingly remote location (2,051 miles from the nearest land), so they are a fertile field for the imagination.

By Varp (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Most of the islands’ population appears to consist of seals, so I could envision myself raising an army there and proclaiming myself King of the Dog Mermaids. The islands might have a more Hensonian destiny, though. This is a picture of the Rallier du Baty peninsula on the main island: Continue reading