Longtime National Symphony cellist David Teie announced in November that his crowdfunding project was hugely successful, freeing him to produce an album of music meaningful to cats. (Cats, for example, relax in response to the earliest sound of their mother’s purring, which Teie clocked at 23 harp notes a second.) Teie’s work, according to an October Washington Post feature, includes examining waveforms of real-time purrs and creating an organ sound to mimic the opening and closing of a cat’s vocal chords. His KickStarter pitch raised so much money that he might also try creating music for bored zoo elephants or stressed-out whales. In tests, cats responded well to Teie’s music, according to a 2015 journal article (but with less curiosity at the Washington cat cafe Crumbs & Whiskers).
Leading Economic Indicators
— Amazon.com has riled up Buddhist temples in Japan, according to a January Associated Press dispatch, by offering traveling monks rentable online to conduct funerals and other rituals. The monk would go to a home, grave or funeral home, at fees and upgrades ranging from the equivalent of $300 to about $8,500. (Many of Japan’s 75,000 Buddhist temples are struggling financially and destined to close. Complained a spokesman for the Japan Buddhist Association, what Amazon is facilitating “is allowed in no other country in the world.”)
— In February, Gawker.com introduced the semi-serious Lube Crude Index as a poignant indicator of how far the price of oil has fallen. Comparing the world price of a standard 42-gallon barrel of crude (about $31) with that of a 55-gallon barrel of Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant (retailing as, when packaged in smaller quantities, a sexual aid) shows that “sex lube” is more valuable than crude oil by a factor of 28 — a barrel’s worth of the lube recently priced at $1,175 versus crude’s barrel-adjusted $41. As recently as June 2014, the Lube Crude Index was near 1. (Gawker reported that only two actual barrels of Passion Natural could be found and that the price would likely rise further if one of them were sold.)
Unclear on the Concept
(1) Angel Rivera, 49, was arrested in December in Orlando, Florida, on allegations that he punched a child in the face because the boy was not getting dressed for church fast enough. (The boy was wearing an ankle brace, which slowed him down.) (2) Ryan Dailey, 28, was arrested in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in February on several charges after, police said, he beat his mother by pounding her with a Bible. His explanation, police said, was that when he asked her who her soul belonged to, she repeatedly declined to answer.
The much-maligned pigeon was recently found by researchers to be as skilled as humans at distinguishing between slides of benign versus malignant human breast tissue. Writing in the journal PLOS ONE, specialists from the University of Iowa and University of California, Davis lauded the birds’ processing of color, contrast, brightness and image compression, marveling that pigeons see more wavelengths of light than humans, even though their brains are one-thousandth the size. (Birds are already known to distinguish “hostile” humans in celebrated dive-pecking incidents.)
The Classic Middle Name
Arrested recently and awaiting trial for murder: Jerald Wayne Boozer-Brown Jr., Macomb Township, Michigan (February); Matthew Wayne Long, Hico, Texas (January); Joseph Wayne Goswick, Graham, North Carolina (January); John Wayne Strawser Jr., Belington, West Virginia (September); Jesse Wayne Gunderson, Wayne, Michigan (September); Curtis Wayne Wright, Bonita Springs, Florida (September); John Wayne Noonkester, Cottonwood, California (July). Indicted for murder: Derrick Wayne Gamble, Belton, Texas (December). Convicted of murder: Carl Wayne Wiley, Del Rio, Texas (February). Shot themselves to death while suspected by police of murder: Ricky Wayne Cook, Melbourne, Florida (February); Lloyd Wayne Franklin, Davidson County, North Carolina (October).