TIME Environment

Crazy Ants Are About to Invade Houston

Crazy Rasberry Ants
Crazy rasberry ants are shown Tuesday, May 13, 2008, in Deer Park, Texas. David J. Phillip—AP

One downside of spring

Houston’s KPRC and CBS Houston are warning residents that “crazy ants” are set to “invade” the area with renewed vigor this week.

Tawny Crazy Ants, nicknamed Rasberry Crazy Ants after a local exterminator Tom Rasberry who discovered them in 2002, live under rocks, lawns, and trees, tend to crawl into electrical equipment, damaging machines. Rasberry told KPRC that they are “much more powerful” than fire ants, one of the world’s worst invasive species.

“There is no way to contain them,” according to a December The New York Times magazine profile. “In the fall, when the temperature drops, the worker ants are subject to magnificent die-offs, but the queens survive, and a new, often larger crop of crazy ants pours back in the following spring.”

Originally believed to come from central South America, the crazy ants have spread throughout Texas to southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida because “they can take up residence in everything from a house plant, to an empty container left outside, to an RV, so they’re easily transported by us,” according to Ed LeBrun, an invasive species researcher at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences.

Pest specialists also told Houston news outlets that residents can help stop the spread of the crazy ants by removing mulch and extra wood in their yards.

MORE: Millipedes Blamed for Australian Train Crash

TIME Books

A Kurt Cobain Comic Book Is Coming

Photo of Kurt COBAIN and NIRVANA
Raffaella Cavalieri / Redferns/ Getty Images

It will chronicle the guitarist's life, career and struggles, 20 years after his death

The story of Kurt Cobain’s rise to fame and his struggles with addiction and depression will be chronicled in a new comic book.

The illustrated story of the Nirvana frontman will be released April 2, the Hollywood Reporter reports. That’s just a few days before the 20th anniversary of his alleged suicide. It will be available in both print and digital form and is part of Blue Water Productions’ “Tribute” series, which has already featured the stories of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Keith Richards.

“Not only is this a great way to understand the importance of his contribution to music, but it is a great tool for kids to read about him in a different medium,” Bluewater publisher Darren G. Davis told the Hollywood Reporter. “Our biography comic books are now taught in schools and libraries for students and reluctant readers.”

You can take a sneak peek at some of the pages of Tribute: Kurt Cobain and pre-order it Comic Flea Market.

TIME selfie

There’s A Scientific Reason for Why You Look Weird In Selfies

It's not just your face

There are many reasons why you look weird in selfies. Sometimes it’s simply because you have a weird-looking face (sorry, guys.) Sometimes it’s because you’re a trend-following New York Times Style Section reader who knows ugly (and preferably monocled) is the new pretty. Sometimes it’s because you posed like this:

But Nolan Feeney at The Atlantic says that there’s a completely separate reason why photo subjects think they look a little off in their selfies. And that reason is science. Specifically, science of the brain.

We are used to identifying with our faces as they would appear in a mirror, but when we take a selfie, the camera captures our faces as strangers would see us from head on rather than we would see ourselves in a reflection. Emotionally unprepared to see our unsymmetrical faces tilting in a slightly different way, we sometimes approach selfies with confusion and disdain.

There’s also the technical issue of our close-range camera phone lenses distorting our faces.

But is this a reason to say no to the selfie for self preservation’s sake? Hogwash. While some say selfies make people narcissistic, others say that they actually make them more comfortable in their own skin. Because the more times you take a selfie, the more comfortable you are seeing your face in all angles.

And as long as your hair looks good, who cares about the other stuff, anyway?

TIME celebrities

Watch Lindsay Lohan and Billy Eichner Destroy a Car Because They’re Upset How I Met Your Mother Is Ending

Bonus points for the Lily Tomlin name-check

How I Met Your Mother is ending its nine-season run next week and a lot of people are pretty upset about it — especially comedian Billy Eichner. First, he enlisted one of the show’s stars, Neil Patrick Harris, to help him scream at strangers about his feelings. Now, he’s roped in Lindsay Lohan to help him destroy a Mother-themed car.

As they hack away at the car with sledgehammers, they let out their aggression and anger, asking important questions like: “WHAT AM I GONNA LIVE-TWEET NOW?”

Watch up top.

TIME Zombies

Survive the Zombie Apocalypse With Corpse Perfume

Use it to fool the undead, or go on a hot zombie date.

How will you prepare for the coming zombie tide? (Don’t kid yourselves, we all know it’s coming.) Axes are usually a good choice for decapitation. Guns don’t seem to work that well. Stakes are for vampires. What about perfume?

This video from Reactions: Everyday Chemistry explores the possibility of creating a scent that would disguise living humans as dead bodies, fooling zombies who always seem so sensitive to the smell of flesh. Now we can smell just like them and safely wander among the enemy!

The key to the cologne is the combination of two chemicals, scientist Raychelle Burks tells us. The aptly-named putrescine and cadaverine, produced by the body just after death, are what make the scent of a rotting corpse so smelly. Add in a little methane, and voila! Smell just like a zombie. Just don’t try to pull this trick before the zombie apocalypse.

TIME Business

Snickers Ad Manages to Be Sexist to Both Men and Women

The ad both breaks and reinforces gender stereotypes

In this ad produced by Snickers in Australia, watch actors as construction workers shout empowering statements to women who are walking down the street. Remarks include, “You want to hear a filthy word? Gender bias!” and “You know what I’d like to see? A society in which the objectification of women makes way for gender-neutral interactions, free from assumptions and expectations. You go girl!”

That said, the ad still depicts the stereotype of construction workers shouting at women:

As Policy Mic writes:

“On the one hand, the women in the advertisement are naive props shocked that men would ever treat them with respect. On the other, the men are portrayed as presumably idiotic, disgusting and flat-out predatorial in their natural state. In the world that Snickers Australia envisions, it seems like whether you’re a man or a woman, it pretty much sucks to be you.”

In addition, the “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry” tagline at the end of the commercial has an offensive message about class, Ad Week argues: “By saying blue-collar guys ‘aren’t themselves’ when they’re being polite, it pretty clearly implies they’re otherwise a bunch of misogynistic boors.”

As one YouTube commenter jokingly summed up the spot, “If this is the way men act when they’re hungry I will never feed them again.”

 

 

TIME celebrity

Zac Efron Got Punched In the Face During a Brawl on Skid Row

Zac Efron
Roger Kisby / Getty Images

Guess he wasn't "The Lucky One" in this fight (zing)

This weekend, actor Zac Efron was for some reason hanging out in the notoriously dangerous Skid Row area of Los Angeles and ended up getting socked in the mouth after an altercation with a group of homeless people.

Police say they saw Efron and his bodyguard “in a full-blown melee with at least 3 other people,” according to TMZ. Apparently his car had run out of gas and while waiting for a tow truck, he threw a bottle out the window and it smashed on the ground near “a group of transients.” They apparently attacked Efron and his bodyguard, and the actor ended up getting punched hard in the mouth.

Law enforcement officials told TMZ that nobody was arrested because they viewed it as “mutual combat.”

TIME technology

Apple Is Finally Working on Racially Diverse Emojis That Aren’t Complete Stereotypes

This has taken way too long

Apple’s emoji language has left a lot to be desired. Namely, racially diverse depictions of people who aren’t complete stereotypes:

emoji

 

There are 63 different animals but zero black emojis. Other than salsa dancing Latinas and turban wearing South East Asians, faces, families and even hand gestures have always, well, looked like this:

emoji

And that’s just a rough sampling.

Emojis have infiltrated our modern lexicon. Some advertisers have even exclusively used the language to reach a millennial audience in commercials. And now, finally, after years of people petitioning, tweeting, and begging for a racially diverse representation, Apple is making an “effort to update the standard.” An Apple VP emailed an MTV blogger who asked Tim Cook what the deal was:

“Tim forwarded your email to me. We agree with you. Our emoji characters are based on the Unicode standard, which is necessary for them to be displayed properly across many platforms. There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”

Finally!

Diverse emojis were indisputably the most egregious absence in the the pictorial language. But as long as Apple is updating selection, here are a few other things we’d like to see:

  • A menorah. Or really any religious symbol outside of Christianity. (No offense Santa.)
  • Men dancing. They like to salsa, too!
  • More food. Tacos, bacon, for the love of God some CHEESE.
  • Beyonce’s face with a crown on top
  • A mustache. Or if the hipsters petition effectively, a monocle .
  • A big middle finger, because come on Apple. It really shouldn’t have taken this long.
TIME Environment

This Edible Water Blob Could Replace Plastic Water Bottles

A winner of the 2014 Lexus Design Awards, it is cheap and biodegradable, the designers claim

Fast Company recently profiled an edible, inexpensive packaging for water that is supposed to be a more environmentally friendly and biodegradable alternative to plastic bottles.

This blob-like container called Ooho! is made through a process called spherification, which shapes liquids into spheres. As Fast Company describes it: “A compound made from brown algae and calcium chloride creates a gel around the water…While the package is being formed, the water is frozen as ice, making it possible to create a bigger sphere and keeping the ingredients in the membrane and out of the water.” And it reportedly only costs two cents to make.

Ooho! was one of 12 winners at the second annual Lexus Design Awards 2014, developed by Skipping Rocks Lab designers Rodrigo García Gonzalez, Pierre Pasalier, and Guillaume Couche.

There are edible containers on the market. Wikipearl, sold in a few Whole Foods locations, contains yogurt and ice cream creations in packaging made from calcium ions and particles of nuts, chocolate, and seeds that is supposed to be part of the “culinary experience,” its developer and biomedical engineer David Edwards told Wired in August 2013.

TIME Bizarre

This Teenager Got a McDonald’s Receipt Tattooed On His Forearm

We can only assume he yelled YOLO right before he got inked

We now live in a world where a human being has a McDonald’s receipt tattooed, rather prominently, on his arm.

Eighteen-year-old Stian Ytterdahl of Lorenskog, Norway, decided to get the ink because his friends wanted a way to punish him for “being a little too active with the ladies,” according to local media outlet Romereskes Blad. We’re not really sure what that means, exactly, or how this tattoo serves as punishment, but you know how teenagers are.

Apparently Ytterdahl’s friends gave him the following tattoo options: a drawing of his own butt, a Barbie, or their lunch receipt. We imagine it was a pretty tough call, but the receipt option prevailed. Tattoo parlor Sabelink Tattoo posted the final result on Facebook:

“Now I’m a living billboard,” Ytterdahl told the local paper. “But I think all this is just fun. Maybe it won’t be as fun when I’m 50 or 60 years, but it’s my choice.”

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