"As Somali pirates rain terror along Africa's eastern seaboard, capturing trade ships and holding crews hostage for ransom, a remarkable development is taking place underwater: Tuna and marlin populations are surging," Utne Reader says. "It turns out that the rogue seamen have scared away commercial fishing trawlers as well as tankers dumping toxic waste, both of which formerly devastated the coastal fisheries. The results are so profound, according to the University of California, Berkeley, alumni magazine California … pirates are 'claiming that they are an ad hoc 'coast guard' for Somalia's offshore resources.' "
Distractions for drivers
"As safety officials fret about drivers taking their eyes off the road to play with smartphones, auto makers from Detroit to Japan are rolling out vehicles that are becoming virtual iPads on wheels," says the San Jose Mercury News. "Next-generation vehicles, safety experts warn, could make multitasking motorists even more of a hazard. … What began as perks for luxury cars are becoming standard features of lower-end vehicles, said Carroll Lachnit, an editor at auto-information site Edmunds.com. Motorists can press steering wheel buttons to buy movie tickets and give voice updates for their Facebook pages. Daimler AG … is working on technology that will enable drivers to read information on the windshield by waving their hand. Ford is offering consumers a car system that converts smartphones into routers, giving passengers Internet access while barrelling down the road."
Facebook fingers bigamist
"Facebook's automatic efforts to connect users through 'friends' they may know recently led two Washington [state]women to find out they were married to the same man, at the same time," reports Associated Press. "That led to the man … being slapped with bigamy charges. According to charging documents filed Thursday, [the man]married a woman in 2001, moved out in 2009, changed his name and remarried without divorcing her. The first wife first noticed [he]had moved on to another woman when Facebook suggested the friendship connection to wife No. 2 under the 'People You May Know' feature. 'Wife No. 1 went to wife No. 2's page and saw a picture of her and her husband with a wedding cake,' Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist [said]"
Frugal lottery winner
"State officials say a Detroit-area woman who won a $1-million [U.S.]lottery prize but continued to get food stamps has been removed from the food assistance program," Associated Press reports. "The Michigan Department of Human Services said Wednesday the lottery winner was no longer getting benefits. … [The woman]acknowledged continuing to get $200 in monthly food aid after her September win. Her mother … tells The Detroit News her daughter didn't break any laws."
A tip for innovators
A common barrier to innovation is "functional fixedness" – the tendency to fixate on the common use of an object or its parts, according to an article in Psychological Science by Tony McCaffrey, a psychology PhD from the University of Massachusetts. Psych Central reports: "Imagine that you are given two steel rings and told to make a figure eight out of them. Your tools? A candle and a match. Melted wax is sticky, but the wax isn't strong enough to hold the rings together. What about the other part of the candle? The wick. The word implies a use: Wicks are set afire to give light. 'That tends to hinder people's ability to think of alternative uses for this part,' says McCaffrey. Think of the wick more generically as a piece of string and the string as strands of cotton and you're liberated. Now you can remove the wick and tie the two rings together."
Thought du jour
"All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It's my game. I pitch. I hit. I catch. I run the bases. At sunset, I've won or lost. At sunrise, I'm out again, giving it the old try."
- Ray Bradbury (1920-), American writer