Crazy Apes and Damaged Bananas (and Pens)

  • Pentrix. I’ve never been able to master the 360 degree normal—that annoyingly absent-minded trick where somebody (we’ll call him “Ace”) spins a pen effortlessly around his thumb. Then again, I’ve never really been good with pen tricks in general. But now there’s a web site that can help. Well, maybe it can’t help me, but it could help you. (via MeFi)
  • Those Crazy Apes. Mischievous apes (well, chimpanzees) at the brand spanking new Regenstein Center for African Apes now have the opportunity to surprise unsuspecting visitors with bursts of air. It’s a neat-sounding place, as ape houses go; it’s designed to be more natural for the apes (airy and spacious and green with a mulch-covered floor), and has fans that the apes themselves can control (to, as the article puts it, “moderate the effects of Chicago’s muggy summers and icy winters”). (AP: “Lincoln Park Zoo Apes Get to Take Revenge” by Lisa Schenker [June 26, 2004])
  • Speaking of Apes… There’s been a rumor going around (maybe you’ve heard it, maybe you haven’t) that that much-loved fruit, the banana, is in mortal danger of extinction. I know I’ve read the terrible rumor in some relatively respectable (or at the very least, glossy and picture-filled) science publication. Well, it turns out the rumor’s a little bit over-the-top; a little too alarmist, if you will. Yes, it’s true that the Cavendish (the variety most familiar to the American consumer) faces potential dangers, and yes, it’s true that bananas are essentially clones, which dramatically cuts down on crop diversity. And yes, it’s true that a once-popular variety, the Gros Michel, was totally wiped out by disease in the space of a decade (paving the way for the Cavendish). But Snopes says bananas are here to stay—for now at least—and I tend to believe them. Until I hear otherwise. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted as the banana saga unpeels. (Snopes: “Banana Peal; Claim: Bananas will be extinct within ten years,” by Barbara Mikkelson [September 23, 2003]; via BoingBoing)