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January 21, 2009

Bees on cocaine — They 'danced more frequently and more vigorously'


Long story short: "To learn more about the biochemistry of addiction, scientists in Australia dropped liquified freebase cocaine on bees' backs [above], so it entered the circulatory system and brain."

It's all in Pam Belluck's January 6, 2009 New York Times Science section story, which follows.


Food Dance Gets New Life When Bees Get Cocaine in an Addiction Study

Buzz has a whole new meaning now that scientists are giving bees cocaine.

To learn more about the biochemistry of addiction, scientists in Australia dropped liquefied freebase cocaine on bees’ backs, so it entered the circulatory system and brain.

The scientists found that bees react much like humans do: cocaine alters their judgment, stimulates their behavior and makes them exaggeratedly enthusiastic about things that might not otherwise excite them.

What’s more, bees exhibit withdrawal symptoms. When a coked-up bee has to stop cold turkey, its score on a standard test of bee performance (learning to associate an odor with sugary syrup) plummets.

“What we have in the bee is a wonderfully simple system to see how brains react to a drug of abuse,” said Andrew B. Barron, a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Australia and a co-leader in the bees-on-cocaine studies. “It may be that when we know that, we’ll be able to stop a brain reacting to a drug of abuse, and then we may be able to discover new ways to prevent abuse in humans.”

The research, published in the The Journal of Experimental Biology, advances the knowledge of reward systems in insects, and aims to “use the honeybee as a model to study the molecular basis of addiction,” said Gene E. Robinson, director of the neuroscience program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a co-author with Dr. Barron, and Ryszard Maleszka and Paul G. Helliwell at Australian National University.

The researchers looked at honeybees whose job is finding food — flying to flowers, discovering nectar, and if their discovery is important enough, doing a waggle dance on a special “dance floor” to help hive mates learn the location.

“Many times they don’t dance,” Professor Robinson said. “They only dance if the food is of sufficient quality and if they assess the colony needs the food.”

On cocaine the bees “danced more frequently and more vigorously for the same quality food,” Dr. Barron said. “They were about twice as likely to dance” as undrugged bees, and they circled “about 25 percent faster.”

The bees did not dance at the wrong time or place. Cocaine only made them more excited about the food they found. That’s like “when a human takes cocaine at a low dose,” Dr. Barron said. “They find many stimuli, but particularly, rewarding stimuli, to be more rewarding than they actually are.”

Now, scientists are studying whether bees begin to crave cocaine and need more for the same effect, like humans.

The testing occurred in Australia, and, Dr. Barron said, “my dean got extremely twitchy about holding cocaine on campus. It’s in a safe bolted to a concrete floor within a locked cupboard in a locked room in a locked building with a combination code not known even to me. A technician from the ethics department has to walk across campus to supervise the release of the cocaine.”

That, Dr. Barron said, for a bee-size supply of “one gram, which has lasted me two years. One gram, a human would go through in one night. I’m not like the local drug lord.”


Here's the abstract of the article published December 26, 2008 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.


Effects of cocaine on honey bee behaviour

The role of cocaine as an addictive drug of abuse in human society is hard to reconcile with its ecological role as a natural insecticide and plant-protective compound, preventing herbivory of coca plants (Erythroxylum spp.). This paradox is often explained by proposing a fundamental difference in mammalian and invertebrate responses to cocaine, but here we show effects of cocaine on honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) that parallel human responses. Forager honey bees perform symbolic dances to advertise the location and value of floral resources to their nest mates. Treatment with a low dose of cocaine increased the likelihood and rate of bees dancing after foraging but did not otherwise increase locomotor activity. This is consistent with cocaine causing forager bees to overestimate the value of the floral resources they collected. Further, cessation of chronic cocaine treatment caused a withdrawal-like response. These similarities likely occur because in both insects and mammals the biogenic amine neuromodulator systems disrupted by cocaine perform similar roles as modulators of reward and motor systems. Given these analogous responses to cocaine in insects and mammals, we propose an alternative solution to the paradox of cocaine reinforcement. Ecologically, cocaine is an effective plant defence compound via disruption of herbivore motor control but, because the neurochemical systems targeted by cocaine also modulate reward processing, the reinforcing properties of cocaine occur as a `side effect'.

January 21, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Poo~Pourri — 'Spritz the bowl before you go, and no one else will ever know'


Catchy, what?

Don't blame me — I'm just Milena's messenger.

From the website:



OK, the name of this product may have you laughing, but we are not kidding when we tell you that the creators of Poo~Pourri have come up with one of the coolest products we have ever tried.

Ladies, if you co-habit with male folk then you definitely need this.

Poo~Pourri is a liquid that you shake and then spray directly onto the surface of the water in your toilet bowl.

The all natural essential oil formula creates a film on the surface, effectively encapsulating any waste matter and trapping embarrassing odors.

Once the business is done, flushing releases the odor-neutralizing scent of lemongrass, grapefruit and bergamot into the air, leaving the bathroom citrus-fresh.

The motto on the bottle says it all: "Spritz the bowl before you go, and no one else will ever know."

Yes, it really works.

We are so convinced you will love Poo~Pourri that we are offering a 30-day money-back guarantee.

So go ahead — give it a swirl.

4 oz. bottle.



January 21, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Welcome to Forbes.com


Am I the only person on the planet who encounters the black screen above for about 10 seconds after clicking on forbes.com?

And I've got 15 down so don't say it's my dial-up.

It's been happening for years now, so predictably that I avoid the website whenever there's an alternative source.

Sometimes, though, like last evening, a link takes me there inadvertently, and I stare with wonder, amazed that the web team for Forbes.com is still employed.

I'll bet 95% of people who encounter that black screen of death leave before the site finally opens.

January 21, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Kit Kat Bench


[via interior design room and I believe in advertising]

January 21, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Songwriter Clint Ballard Jr. is dead

Among his many hits was the Hollies' 1965 "I'm Alive" (above), which reached No. 1 in Britain and has always been one of my favorite songs.

Here is Douglas Martin's obituary  from this past Monday's  New York Times.


Clint Ballard Jr., Writer of Hit Songs, Dies at 77

Clint Ballard Jr., a Texas-born songwriter whose songs, heard on 10 million records, included the 1965 hit “The Game of Love” and Linda Ronstadt’s No. 1 single “You’re No Good” from 1975, died on Dec. 23 at his home in Denton, Tex. He was 77.

His friend Jacqueline Martinez said that he had a stroke two and a half years ago and that his health had steadily deteriorated.

Ms. Ronstadt included “You’re No Good” on her “Heart Like a Wheel” album, which was released in 1974 and itself reached the top of the Billboard album chart in 1975. Dee Dee Warwick and Betty Everett had earlier recorded the song, both in 1963. The next year, the Swinging Blue Jeans had a Top 10 hit with it in Britain.

Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders made “The Game of Love” a No. 1 hit in the United States and a No. 2 hit in Britain in 1965. It was one of the songs the disc jockey portrayed by Robin Williams played in the 1987 movie “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

With Fred Tobias, Mr. Ballard wrote “Good Timin’,” which Jimmy Jones took to the top of British charts and to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States in 1960. The Hollies reached No. 1 in Britain with Mr. Ballard’s “I’m Alive” in 1965.

Mr. Ballard also found popular success with songs like “Gingerbread” for Frankie Avalon, “There’s Not a Minute” for Ricky Nelson and “Gotta Get a Hold of Myself” for the Zombies. He wrote “Journey’s End” with Noel Sherman for Frankie Laine.

In 1958 Mr. Ballard’s “Hey Little Baby” was on the B side of “March From the River Kwai” by Mitch Miller and his orchestra.

Clinton Conger Ballard Jr. was born in El Paso, Tex., on May 24, 1931, and was encouraged in music by his mother. At 11 he attended a program for gifted young musical students at what is now the University of North Texas. He attended the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa) and graduated from what is now the University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in radio studies. He served in the Army in Japan as a radio operator.

One of his early steps in the music business was to discover, manage and secure a recording contract with Decca for the Kalin Twins. Their one hit, “When,” was written by Paul Evans and Jack Reardon, not Mr. Ballard.

Mr. Ballard settled in Dallas in 1981 and three years later moved to Denton, 35 miles north of Dallas. He became a real estate investor and manager.

Mr. Ballard left no immediate survivors.

January 21, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Body Boards


"Jose Luengo designed these snowboards for the Salomon Awards 2008 Artwork Contest."

[via Street Anatomy and Behance]

January 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Can you name the most commonly used words in the English language?.


Ready, set, go!

[via Milena]

January 21, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Burger Bed


You made your bed,


now lie in it.







[via my7475]

January 21, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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