Monday, October 13, 2008

Bonobos Hunt Other Primates

By LiveScience Staff

Chimpanzees are known to form bands to hunt and kill other primates, including monkeys. But bonobos, another primate closely related to humans and chimps, were thought to be confine their hunting to forest antelopes, squirrels and rodents.

Not so, a new study finds.

In the Oct. 14 issue of the journal Current Biology, researchers report the first direct evidence of wild bonobos hunting and eating the young of other primate species. The finding is part of a five-year study of the creatures in LuiKotale, Salonga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"These findings are particularly relevant for the discussion about male dominance and bonding, aggression and hunting — a domain that was thought to separate chimpanzees and bonobos," said Gottfried Hohmann of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "In chimpanzees, male-dominance is associated with physical violence, hunting and meat consumption. By inference, the lack of male dominance and physical violence is often used to explain the relative absence of hunting and meat-eating in bonobos. Our observations suggest that, in contrast to previous assumptions, these behaviors may persist in societies with different social relations."

Bonobos live only in the lowland forest south of the Congo River, and, along with chimpanzees, they are humans' closest relatives.

Bonobos are perhaps best known for their promiscuity: sexual acts both within and between the sexes are a common means of greeting, resolving conflicts, or reconciling after conflicts.

The researchers have seen three instances of successful hunts in which bonobos captured and ate their primate prey. In two other cases, the bonobo hunting attempts failed. The data from LuiKotale showed that both bonobo sexes play active roles in pursuing and hunting monkeys. The involvement of adult females in the hunts (which is not seen in chimps) may reflect social patterns such as alliance formation and cooperation among adult females, they said.

The discovery challenges the theory that male dominance and aggression must be causally linked to hunting behavior, an idea held by earlier models of the evolution of aggression in human and non-human primates.

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When Taking the Keys to the Car Turns Real

Susan Farley for The New York Times AGING AT THE WHEEL More than 20 percent of Westchester County’s population is older than 60. In a program called Car Fit, experts help older drivers adjust their cars for safety.


EVERYBODY had a story to tell about trying to take the keys from an elderly driver. Paul K. Schwarz, a retired Scarsdale Middle School teacher, described meeting with angry resistance from his father, Herbert, every time he brought up the subject of driving.

“My dad was born in 1907 in White Plains,” Mr. Schwarz said. “He would have been 101 and he might have made it, because he took really good care of himself, but his one real blind spot literally was the car.”

There were small accidents, tickets and excuses — the senior Mr. Schwarz once claimed that a police officer must have been colorblind to ticket him for running a red light. Another time he blamed a faulty brake pedal for an accident. After he exited his driveway in reverse and crashed into a tree, Mr. Schwarz lost his insurance. Undaunted, he looked in the Yellow Pages and got reinsured.

Paul Schwarz and his brother tried unsuccessfully to get their father’s doctor to intervene. They even talked about disabling their father’s car but ran out of time. His last accident, on the Hutchinson River Parkway, landed him for eight weeks in the intensive care unit, where he died in 1997 at the age of 90.

“It was an awful two months,” said Mr. Schwarz, who is involved with several nonprofit groups that work with the elderly. He was speaking at a recent conference here for Westchester police commissioners and chiefs, part of an effort to address the issue of older drivers in the county.

Ken Donato, the police chief in Ossining, recalled reporting a 90-year-old military veteran who worked in his building to the Department of Motor Vehicles, but not until after the elderly man had had three accidents in three weeks, one of which totaled Chief Donato’s car.

Even County Executive Andrew J. Spano shared the story of his father, who called to see if his politically connected son could arrange for the Department of Motor Vehicles to cut him some slack on his eye examination. Mr. Spano refused and then asked his father how he was managing to drive if he had trouble seeing.

“And he says, ‘Your mother tells me what the sign says,’ ” Mr. Spano said. “I went to the house, and I took the keys away. He didn’t speak to me for two months.”

These experiences have a familiar ring to adult children of elderly drivers. They were shared at the conference, developed by the Older Driver Family Assistance Network, which is part of the county’s Department of Senior Programs and Services.

“Westchester County is among the three leading counties in New York State that provide a good and practical action plan for dealing with older drivers,” said Tamar Freund, manager for the State Department of Motor Vehicles’ newly created Office of the Older Driver.

More than 20 percent of Westchester’s population is older than 60, and the fastest growing segment comprises people older than 85. Statewide, one in seven drivers is 65 or older.

Elderly drivers are not inherently unsafe but have a wide range of abilities, Ms. Freund said.

Dr. Cathryn Devons, director of geriatrics at Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, said that aging can affect response time, depth perception, tolerance for alcohol, and, in cases of dementia, judgment. Medications can compound such issues.

A chart distributed at the conference that graphs the driver fatality rate is shaped like a U, with 16-year-olds at one peak and drivers 85 and older at the other. (Elderly drivers are frailer, compounding the mortality rate.)

Police officers described elderly drivers who appeared confused and lost or could not negotiate curves in the road and drove onto lawns or did not notice an officer’s flashing lights for more than a mile or appeared to be drunken drivers, but after being pulled over were found to be simply disoriented.

In a survey of 21 Westchester police officers conducted in 2007 by the Older Driver Network, all of them said they had observed older drivers in their community who they believed were at risk of an accident. More than 90 percent said they had seen accidents caused by older drivers who were unaware of traffic surrounding them, and 76 percent said they had encountered older drivers who could not see signs.

With such obvious risks to themselves and public safety, moving elderly drivers off the road would seem to be an obvious solution. But even police officers can be hesitant to act, particularly if the driver reminds the officer of his or her own grandparent.

“How am I going to tell a guy who fought for this country and has two Purple Hearts that I am going to take away his license and take away his freedom?” one police chief asked at the conference.

New York State does not mandate that elderly drivers be retested. An older driver may be subject to license review, but only after a written report from a police officer, medical professional or concerned citizen. Most requests for reviews come from police officers, said Frank Vega, a license examiner in the Yonkers District Office of the State Department of Motor Vehicles.

Not only do families hesitate to report their loved ones, but doctors and occupational therapists are also torn between their ethical responsibility to protect public safety and their duty to protect patient confidentiality. In short, they worry about liability. “If I make a report to the D.M.V., I’m not protected,” said Kathleen Golisz, an associate professor of occupational therapy at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry. “What I do instead is say, ‘It’s in your medical chart, and it could be summoned in a court of law.’ ”

At the conference for police chiefs, cue cards were distributed to be given to officers throughout the county. They included a checklist on identifying at-risk older drivers, procedures for documenting the encounter and local resources to help elderly drivers.

The county’s Family Caregiver Support Program can help families begin a conversation with older drivers about their abilities and can make referrals to driver evaluation programs. The group also offers transportation to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores and other destinations, said Mary Edgar-Herrera, the program administrator. She noted that in the suburbs, where public transportation is limited, there was a risk of elderly people becoming isolated when they lose access to their cars.

Westchester has also initiated a “Car Fit” program, where experts evaluate whether an elderly driver’s car is properly adjusted and recommend changes and adaptations. For instance, with some couples, the husband may have been the sole driver for 40 years. His wife may then take over the driving, but never readjust the seat or mirrors.

The Older Driver network also plans a series of talks this fall at several senior centers and libraries.

The issue is not an easy one to address, the advocates said.

“Based on voting records, people would rather drive than vote,” said Ms. Freund, of the Motor Vehicle Department. “Driving in America is so much tied up with personal identity. We will take action with elderly drivers, but we would rather all these matters be voluntary.”

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The Worst Tip We Have Ever Received

Yes, our pro-consumer bias has its limits. For instance, when a customer service representative tries to help you, don't respond by telling them to "go back to school," or by mentioning that your fourth-grade class can "spell better." Of the tens of thousands of tips you have sent us, this is one of the worst. Do not be this guy.

Here's the situation: Reader Bryan ordered an item from Adorama's Amazon store. After the item shipped, he decided to change the shipping instructions so he could pick up his package at the UPS store. Amazon's policies kept Adorama from changing the instructions on a shipped item, so, after apologizing, Adorama gave Bryan two options: a full refund, or once the item returned undelivered, they could re-ship the item with the right instructions.

Bryan didn't send us his original request, so we'll start with Adorama's response. The writing isn't the clearest, but the content speaks for itself:


unfurtunaly this is an Amazon order and we wont be able to have you pick it up. I apologized for the inconvenience this may have caused you.

Adorama customer service

Brian responded:

I don't see why it being an amazon order changes anything. It's MY package that I paid for, and paid shipping for. UPS is not able to deliver to my location, all I want is to be able to pick up the package THAT I PAID FOR.

Make it happen, or I'm just returning all of it, and then you'll be refunding my money.

Right off the bat you can tell Bryan is trouble. "Make it happen?" Tell that to a waitress and you'll rightly end up with a drink down your shirt. Let's see how Paola responds:

I apologized for the inconvenience but our contract with Amazon is like that we cant make any changes to the order or have ups hold it for you , if you are unable to be at the address you provide with your order for shipping the order will come back to us and we will give you the money back for the item.

have a nice day!!

Adorama customer service

Paola provided a direct explanation to Bryan's question. Adorama's contract with Amazon prevents them from changing the shipping address. Simple enough, but Bryan kept pushing:

Well, I guess you just lost some money. I have NEVER had any issues with getting UPS to hold a package that I have bought from Amazon.

I'm so sorry for the inconvenience maybe you place the order through Amazon and it was ship by another company. I don't want you to feel like if we don't appreciated your business but unfurtunaly we can not hold the pack. if the order was place directly from us we wouldn't have this problem.

again I apologies.

Adorama customer service

Another fairly direct response from Paola, and a way to avoid the problem in the future. Fine.

How Bryan choose to advance his case?

Please learn proper grammar and english. It would make your messages much easier to understand.

At this point, Paola could have stopped responding. The substantive interaction was over. If we were in Paola's place, we wouldn't have been able to respond with anything approximating a polite response. And as we'll see, advancing the conversation doesn't help anyone, even if the intent is to help an unreasonable customer.

Oh thank you.... For the compliment... am just trying to give you good customer service. at least someone is paying attention to your problem.

Adorama customer service

See, this is what I'm talking about. Re-read your last 2 messages. They are written poorly. "unfurtunaly" is spelled "unfortunately".

All this poor grammar and spelling lets me know is that the employees at this place are incompetent, and that I would never order anything from you again. No one is paying attention to my problem and I am NOT receiving "good customer service". If I was receiving "good customer service", my problem would have already been taken care of when I called yesterday. I can't believe all this hassle is being put into this situation. All I want to do is pick up my package; this should not be an impossible task.

You fail. I will never order anything from adorama again.

Are you a teacher? All I m trying to do is help you and "unfortunately" you don't see that you are just looking for mistakes in the grammar. I hope you have a very nice day!

Adorama customer service

Yes. I am a teacher. I teach 4th grade, and they spell better than you

and can complete sentences using proper punctuation. It reflects poorly on you and the company you work for. If you can't do this, maybe this is the wrong job for you. You are doing NOTHING to help me. If you want to help me, offer to overnight me another camera with no restrictions on the package, so that I can pick it up at the UPS office. Sitting here and arguing with me does nothing to fix the problem.

Today, I will be contacting any management/owners that I can get ahold of and informing them of the awful customer service I've received. If you can't solve the problem and just type gibberish to me, then you are of no use in your current place of employment.

With the respect you deserve let me explain you something. I was trying to assist you since the first time that you call , but you just say that you wanted your money back and started complaining about my grammar instead of telling me that you wanted the item expedited, is very frustrating for me as a customer service representative that is doing her best to assist you, to only get this kind of email in response like if I was one of your students . Am really sorry this is going the way is going, you are the first customer I get that is a "teacher" and act like a student.

If you want the item I will be more than happy to place a new order for you, I will need to charge you for the item again and am supposed to charge you for shipping as well because I don't see where we mess up with your order we send it to the address that you provide Amazon for shipping. if you will like I can ask my manager as a first time courtesy to give you free shipping. And if you want fell free to contact my manager to complaint about my customer service skills her ext# is 2219 her name is Leah, I am sure she will be happy to listen to you and read our emails....thank you and have a nice day!!!!!!

Adorama customer service

Can we all agree this is a reasonable solution? Paola offered to resend the item, possibly even waive the shipping. And she volunteered her manager's number and rightly suggested that any third party might find Bryan's behavior offensive.

So how does Bryan respond to the olive branch?

Wow. I have no clue what any of that says since your sentences are all run-ons and really really long. Go back to school.

The situation deteriorates from there.

I just feel sorry for the kids you teach ... You are very disrespectful, maybe my problem can be solve going back to school but in your case you will have to be born again.. Respect others is easy and make others life easier too. Here at Adorama we treat our customers with respect because that's how they treat us. but that's not you case. Have a good life.

Adorama customer service

Spend less time telling me to be 'born again' and more time studying an English book. Religion is just a crutch for the weak.
Sent from my BlackBerry(r) smartphone with SprintSpeed

Be happy!! Have a nice day!! "teacher"

Adorama customer service

I was happy today until I had to deal with you. And for some reason you decide to bring religion into this. I'm making phone calls right now, doing my best to make sure that you don't have a job by the end of the day.
Sent from my BlackBerry(r) smartphone with SprintSpeed

Ok she is waiting for your call ext#2219 leah .. bye

Adorama customer service

If you were Bryan, how would you characterize this interaction when you sent it to our tipline? What one point might you seize upon to sensationalize your story?
Okay.... Here's an awesome email exchange between an camera customer service rep and myself. Yeah, I'm an asshole, but this ignorant woman actually suggested that I become "born again".

All this because they put all kinds of restrictions on MY package which won't allow me to pick up my package at the UPS office.


You sure got one thing right, Bryan.

Clearly the exchange could have been handled better by everyone. The telecoms and other large companies use rigid customer service manuals to limit similar debacles. Their customer service is like Plinko: your complaint's destiny is governed by its fall down a maddening decision tree. Bryan would have been dismissed with a simple: "We cannot accommodate your request at this time. Please be assured, your business is important to us." We prefer companies where employees can treat us not just as consumers, but as people.

When dealing with any company, always treat customer service representatives as you would want to be treated yourself. The whole Golden Rule thing and all. Not only is it common decency, but it's the single best way to get exactly you want.

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Did Sarah Palin's 'predator control' slaughter 14 wolf cubs?

Warning, this video isn't pretty and its' pretty hard to watch.

But the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund claims that this is the result of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's predator control program in Alaska, the one that allows wolves to be tracked and shot by hunters in helicopters.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game press release survival numbers in the Southern Alaska Peninsula (SAP) caribou herd are encouraging following the removal of 28 wolves from the calving grounds near Cold Bay.

The release reads: "Wolves from three packs were shot from a helicopter by Alaska Department of Fish & Game staff. Because many of the wolves were killed early in the calving season, wolves killed only seven, or 10.8 percent, of the radio-collared calves in the study area."

It goes on: "Biologists estimate 63% of the calves born this year survived their first two weeks of life. Typically, calf survival ranges from 50-60 percent during this period in other Alaska caribou herds that are stable or increasing." Click here to read more on the positive outcome of the incident.

But according to the DWAF, Alaskan state law prohibits the targeting of pups -- a practice known as denning. They say that's probably why Palin's officials tried to cover it up, making no mention of the brutal pup executions in the state's June 30 press release on the killings.

To date, none of the officials involved in the incident has been held accountable. The incident remains controversial but here's a news report about the pup killings.

"Gov. Palin could be just a heartbeat from the presidency," says Rodger Schlickeisen, president of the DWAF. "Do we want a vice president who champions savagery towards animals?"

Do you?

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Man trips and throws bride and parson into pool.

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PMSBuddy: A Denver entrepreneur's idea to make your girlfriend hate you a little more

Continue at your own risk.

A Denver entrepreneur's new web site is threatening to overtake Yahoo! Fantasy Sports and YouPorn as the site most likely to inspire women to hurl hot irons at their boyfriends.

Jordan Eisenberg, whose previous endeavor was the much safer Collar Card, recently launched, which helps men track the menstrual cycles of wives, girlfriends, mistresses, bosses, sisters, daughters – anyone, really, whose body is capable of mass-producing that monthly, much-feared cocktail of terror and inconsolable tear-spewing.

Here's how it works, gents, in case you're stupid enough to let this thing linger in your web history:

Simply enter the date of your woman's last cycle and PMSBuddy will send you an e-mail reminding you of your impending doom. You can receive as little or as much notice as you'd like -- anything from one day (if you just want to stay a little late at the office) to five (if you need a little more time to fake your death).

The site also recommends steps you can take to mitigate the damage (and bolster its corporate partnerships) –- like buying flowers from 1-800-Flowers or chocolate from Godiva. Neither of which will do any good at all, by the way.

Eisenberg -- if you're wondering who's behind such a genius/suicidal idea -- is 27 and lives with his wife in LoDo. He says the idea sprung from a night at the bar, where some undisclosed amount of liquor made him and some friends believe it was okay to broach the topic of PMS with some female friends, despite that gender's time-honored refusal to acknowledge PMS's existence. As it turned out, two of Eisenberg's male friends, who apparently are really organized, had been logging their partners' Cycles of Irrationality in their datebooks and Blackberries.

Thus, PMSBuddy was born.

The site has attracted thousands of visitors worldwide, Eisenberg says, and is expected to be shut down when his wife destroys the servers in a sudden fit of rage sometime in the next 28 days. -- Joe "I Swear I'm Not a Member, Babe!" Tone

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