Wednesday, May 30, 2018


When a new species evolves, it doesn't just show up fully formed. It takes many, many tiny mutations through many, many generations to gradually change a fin into a leg, for example, or to make a set of gills disappear. Don't believe us? You can find plenty of evidence right on your own body in the form of what are called vestigial traits. Here's a handful of body parts you have that are useless today, but once had a purpose.

The tailbone, or coccyx, is what you have left of the tail your evolutionary ancestors used to help them balance when they lived in the trees. You had a tail once, in fact — we all did. During early development in the womb, the human embryo actually has a tail. The body eventually absorbs it, although in rare cases babies can be born with the tail still intact.

If you've ever wondered why you get goosebumps when you're chilly even though they don't seem to make you any warmer, here's your answer: they're a reflex left over from when your ancestors had fur. Goosebumps are a result of arrector pili, muscles that contract involuntarily when you're cold or experiencing heightened emotions. Those contractions make your body hair stand up straight, and if that body hair was thicker and longer, it could help insulate you or make you look larger to an adversary.

Your ears are plenty useful, sure, but they're also a monument to the many ways our species has changed over the millennia. You know how some people can wiggle their ears? Those people just have slightly more function in the ear muscles we all have, called auricular muscles. Cats, dogs, and primates, to name a few, use theirs to turn their ears like a satellite dish to capture sounds all around them. Humans and chimps just move their heads instead, so they eventually lost the need for these tiny muscles.
Then there are the things that only a handful of human ears have. Some people have a small bump on the rim of their upper ear known as Darwin's tubercle, or sometimes just Darwin's point. It's thought to be a leftover from a joint that helped the top part of the ear swivel down and cover the ear's opening. A minority of people have a tiny hole right where the ear meets the face, too, called the preauricular sinus. Some biologists think that hole could be a vestige from when our ancestors had gills.

Wisdom Teeth

Your first set of molars usually come in when you're about six years old, your second set when you're about 12, and your third molars — what people call wisdom teeth — when you reach your twenties. Wisdom teeth can come in in a lot of strange ways: sometimes they come in just fine, other times they get "impacted" or blocked from coming in all the way, and some never come in at all.
Because there are people who have wisdom teeth that work just fine, this one is technically a gray area when it comes to vestigial structures. But those extra molars were definitely more useful for our primate ancestors than they are for us

The appendix is usually the first trait people point to when they talk about vestigial structures, but we have news for those people: scientists think your appendix probably still has a function. It's evolved many, many times in different mammal species, which suggests it's pretty useful. Because its evolution usually comes with immunity-boosting lymph tissue and people who have their appendix removed are more likely to suffer from bacterial infections, all signs point to the likelihood that the appendix does something for your immune system. Just because we don't know why something exists doesn't mean it's useless!!

Monday, May 28, 2018


(A reworked post from October 2012)

           My friend Bonnie & I were playing golf behind a very slow group of men.  She exasperatedly asked me why it is that men will spend 10 minutes looking for a lost ball, but they won’t take 5 seconds to find your “G spot”!!

    Here’s another of hers: Bonnie & my very prim & proper (appearing) mother-in-law, Audrey, were among our guests at a formal luncheon.  I don’t think they had met before.  They were sitting next to each other.  Something gooey, chocolaty & decadently delicious was served for dessert.  Bonnie tasted it & said without thinking, as she was prone to do, “My God, this is better than sex!!” & was instantly embarrassed because of who her luncheon partner was.  She fell in love with Audrey when she smiled & replied, “Yes, it is--& you don’t have to wash up afterwards, either!!”

            Then there’s my friend, Bernice.  Her husband had Alzheimer’s & had become very argumentative.  He had become nearly impossible to live with.  Shortly after his death she & I were marketing together.  We were at the meat counter.  She told me she was buying a steak for dinner.  She said that she had had steak the previous night, but she felt like having steak again & now that she only had herself to be concerned about, she could have whatever she wanted.  Bernice looked at me & said, “There MUST be a downside to being a widow, but so far I haven’t found what it is!!”

And I certainly can’t forget Barbara!  She & I sometimes used to act like a lesbian couple.  WE ARE BOTH STRAIGHT!!  We were in Walmart & had our purchases in the same cart.  I unloaded mine & then helped her unload hers.  She said, coyly, “You’re so strong & powerful--thank you!!”  I lowered my voice & said, “You’re welcome, Honey.”  I paid for my things, loaded both hers & mine into the cart & told her I was taking it outside to have a cigarette while she paid for her stuff.  Apparently she didn’t hear me because she looked around & asked the cashier where her things were.  The cashier said, “Your--uh, your, uh--your FRIEND took them out!!”

Barbara & I were playing golf when I slipped & broke my left wrist.  After finally convincing her that my wrist really hurt & that it wasn’t that I wanted to quit because I was playing poorly, she drove me to the ER.  She was in the room with me when the doctor told me I’d have to remove my engagement & wedding ring because my hand would swell up.  I took them off & handed them to Barb who tearfully said, “You’ve been promising me these rings forever & you had to break your wrist for me to get them!!”  The look that passed between the doctor & the nurse was priceless!! 

Lots of cartoons today:


Honor our fallen heroes!!

Money can't buy friends, but you can get a better class of enemy----Spike Milligan (& fishducky)


Friday, May 25, 2018


Here's an easy IQ test for you:

People have been stewing over the correct answer to a coffee-themed puzzle. A Twitter user shared the logic quiz, in which coffee is poured into a network of pipes leading to four different cups.
You have to figure out which of the cups will receive coffee first:

Scroll down for the answer:

A closer look at the pipes shows that the coffee will actually end up in only one cup ― number 5. That’s because the pathways to the other three cups are all sealed off.

Here's an IQ test with only three questions:

Here Are the Questions

1. The Ball & Bat Problem:
A bat and a ball together cost $1.10. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

2. The Widget-Making Machine Problem:
If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

3. The Lily Pad Patch Problem:
There is a patch of lily pads in a lake. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half the lake?
Scroll down to read the answers to the questions.

Here Are the Answers

1. The ball costs 5 cents. You probably guessed 10 cents, didn't you? No judgment. A ball that costs 5 cents plus a bat that costs $1.05 will set you back $1.10. And $1.05 is exactly $1 more expensive than 5 cents. A Princeton study found that people who answered 10 cents were significantly less patient than those who got it correct.
2. It would take 100 machines 5 minutes to make 100 widgets. Your gut might tell you the answer is 100 minutes. From the question, we know that it takes 5 minutes for 1 machine to make 1 widget. Thus, it would take 5 minutes for 100 machines to make 100 widgets. (Check out a similar, if not more difficult problem, here.)
3. The lily pads would cover half the lake in 47 days. You might have guessed 24 days. It seems intuitive to halve the number of days because you're halving the size of the lily pad patch. But if the area of the lake covered in lily pads doubles every day, it would only take one day for it to go from being half covered to fully covered. Take one day away from 48 days and you're left with 47.

Were you:

In which case: