WootBot


quality posts: 16 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

Ah, June. The bees are buzzing, the crickets are chirping, the fireflies are glowing, and the June bugs are—doing whatever June bugs do, I guess? It's their month. In the United Kingdom, the connection between summer and the insect kingdom has been formalized by turning the last week of June into National Insect Week. We're also celebrating our six-legged friends all month, and we've called in Ken Jennings (not an insect, but at least a WASP) as a guest expert. He tells us that our insect knowledge has a few bugs.

The Debunker: Are Ants Hard Workers?

Every time you see an ant, it always looks like it has someplace to be, right? Ants are the head-down, earbuds-in-ear, man-on-a-mission fast-walkers of the insect kingdom. Ants are in a hurry. When Aesop wanted an industrious animal for his fable about provident hard work, he chose the ant as his protagonist, the one who tells off the hungry, lazy grasshopper. Get a job, grasshopper!

work hard

Natural historians have observed for millennia that ants divide up the work of their colonies with an almost military sense of duty and organization. "In their labors, what ardor they display, what wondrous carefulness!" wrote Pliny the Elder almost two thousand years ago. "We see ever the very stones worn away by their footsteps. . . . Let no one be in doubt, then, how much assiduity and application, even in the very humblest of objects, can upon every occasion effect!" Maybe he got a bit carried away with his ant-kissing-up, but modern science has confirmed the fact that ant colonies are incredibly complex and well-ordered systems, with different worker ants specializing in tasks from food-gathering to tunnel-building to care of young.

But #NotAllAnts! A 2015 study by entomologists at the University of Arizona tracked five colonies' worth of ants individually, by marking them with tiny dots of paint. Just 2.6 percent of the ants were working every single time they were observed. The majority, almost 72 percent, were inactive more than half the time, and fully 25 percent of the colony was never seen working! This challenges the old assumption that all ants work in diligent shifts, and suggests that some ants stay out of the workforce entirely. Are they being held in reserve for emergency tasks? Too young? Too old? Constantly promising the queen that they'll look for a job tomorrow, jeeeez Mom? We ant-icipate further discoveries.

Quick Quiz: What Trojan War hero led a troop of ant-men called Myrmidons?

Ken Jennings is the author of eleven books, most recently his Junior Genius Guides, Because I Said So!, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

shrdlu


quality posts: 6 Private Messages shrdlu

I think you may find the answer here.

http://www.woot.com/forums/viewpost.aspx?postid=7157235&pageindex=1#post7166428

Everything changes. Everything.

kenney9226


quality posts: 7 Private Messages kenney9226

Please go and do something with a very long necktie you may find on a heap of expired deli meat in a dumpster.

You bring disgrace and shame to our shared name.

olperfesser


quality posts: 2 Private Messages olperfesser

Achilles

rwuest


quality posts: 0 Private Messages rwuest

He's a child abuser in my book. Bleh!

olcubmaster


quality posts: 33 Private Messages olcubmaster

He turned me into a newt!

Sugar 'em up and send 'em home

ThunderThighs


quality posts: 1006 Private Messages ThunderThighs

Staff

I don't have an opinion one way or another but I do want the complete story out there.

This is what Ken Jennings has pinned on his twitter feed:


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peaceetc


quality posts: 62 Private Messages peaceetc
rwuest wrote:He's a child abuser in my book. Bleh!


While I do wish Jennings had left Barron out of the things (and that his father had, as well), I would ask that you refrain from calling what Jennings did child abuse. Real child abuse is a very serious issue, and to me, it seems that casting a tweet in this light devalues what children who have been physically, verbally, and sexually abused have been through.

I don't know if your comment was politically motivated or simply well intended, but please consider this before you use that term in a similar way in the future.

I'm thinking things over. My brain kind of hurts. So does my heart. Help us say goodbye to Scott, Amy, John, and Laura (Woot writers).

rwuest


quality posts: 0 Private Messages rwuest

He attacked an 11 YO child on twitter. You can call it what you want and I'll call it what I want. It's not political, I think what Jennings did is disgusting and abusive. I'd say the same thing if he'd attacked one of the Obama girls like that. He can down play it all he wants, but I have screen shots of the tweets in case he decides to take 'em down. He may think he's cute or something, but shame on Ken Jennings. He should be let go to avoid disgracing Woot and Amazon.

mikefisk


quality posts: 0 Private Messages mikefisk
rwuest wrote:He attacked an 11 YO child on twitter. You can call it what you want and I'll call it what I want. It's not political, I think what Jennings did is disgusting and abusive. I'd say the same thing if he'd attacked one of the Obama girls like that. He can down play it all he wants, but I have screen shots of the tweets in case he decides to take 'em down. He may think he's cute or something, but shame on Ken Jennings. He should be let go to avoid disgracing Woot and Amazon.



If one remark is sufficient to bar you from polite society, then few if any within the human race are fit for "polite society". It was thoughtless, and really not particularly artfully presented... but that, in a nutshell, is Twitter (if our President has taught us anything, it's that). I'd rather engage with speech I disagree with than try to banish them to the hinterlands, lest somebody try banishing me next.

rwuest


quality posts: 0 Private Messages rwuest

Sure we all make mistakes, I've made loads of them, but not all mistakes are equal. When was the last time you, as an adult, assuming you're an adult, chose to beat up on a little boy. Or to berate him when he thought his father was dead (that's where things were when this happened!!!). I didn't think so. I see you all don't agree with me, and I'm fine with that, but in my eyes, as one who worked for years with young boys in scouting, this really gets me. I find it disgusting.

And furthermore, when Jennings saw that many people thought his words were terrible, did he apologize? No, he tried to justify it. How lame is that? Yuck on him.