I am getting lots of exercise
shaking those martinis.
Shaken 'till they're icy
cause it's summertime.
Goose and all the gander.
I want it like a kid wants a
I have figured it all out.
I want to be a lawyer.
I'm getting too much exercise.
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DaRK PaRTY: Ants are eusocial insects. Can you describe what that means in layman terms?
Alex: Sure. The term refers to a particular form of society that is even more specialized than that of our own species. Instead of merely living together and interacting in groups, eusocial species have evolved to the point where most individuals have given up reproduction entirely, leaving procreation in the hands of one or a few highly fecund individuals.
Imagine a human city where only a few bloated individuals pop out all
the babies while everyone else keeps their head down and works the factories, tends the fields, and builds the roads. That’s what ants do. They’ve evolved separate reproductive castes and worker castes. Their specialization allows the worker caste to conduct their labor without the distraction of all the time and costs of courtship and reproduction, and allows the reproductive caste to be highly prolific.
Eusocial systems are very efficient. They are also fundamentally
different from social systems like our own, so I’d be cautious about drawing too many parallels.
Eusociality must have some advantages as it has evolved in many
disparate groups of animals. Many people know about the ants, the termites, the bees, and the wasps, but there are also eusocial shrimp, eusocial aphids, and a eusocial mammal, the naked mole rat of
DP: As social insects, ants are excellent communicators. How do ants "talk" to one another and how advanced is there communication?
Alex: That depends on what species of ant you are talking about. No one really knows how many species of ants there are, but we estimate that there might be around 20,000. Spread across that tremendous diversity are a great number of different ways to communicate, and a great variation in the extent to which social behavior and communication ability is developed.
Ants are predominantly chemical, “talking” with each other by what we would consider to be smell and taste. When an ant nest is attacked, for example, some ants will release a volatile chemical that acts as an alarm siren, priming their nestmates to be on the alert and to start acting aggressively.
Different ant species will use different chemicals to do this, produced in glands in different parts of the body. Most ants release their alarm pheromone from a gland in their mouth, but others use glands at the tip of the abdomen. One of my favorites is a group of pudgy little orange ants in the genus Lasius whose alarm pheromone is citronella. If you disturb a nest of these ants the air fills with a thick citronella odor. Some other species smell like blue cheese and others smell like feces.
Chemicals are also used to lay trails to food sources, to mark territories, to attract mates, and to regulate reproduction. Ants use chemical odors to tell if another ant is from their own colony or a different colony, as each ant colony has a specific odor. Some species can even tell what job a particular worker ant does by its odor.
One of the most striking behaviors of ant colonies is called trophallaxis, or liquid food sharing. Ants will feed each other continually, passing food among ants in much greater volumes than the individual ants need to survive. A constant flow of liquid among colony members helps spread chemical messages and helps to maintain the colony as a coherent unit.
Some ants are able to use sound to communicate. If a leafcutter ant is trapped, she will squeak until her nestmates come to her rescue. Ants also push and pull each other around.
DP: Is it true that ant colonies will attack one another and even capture enemy ants to use as slave labor? Please explain.
Alex: Yes, although this so-called “slave-raiding” is limited to a subset of species. The key to understanding this behavior is to grasp that young ants imprint on the colonies where they emerge from their cocoons. They think they belong to the nest where they were born.
Adult ants are rarely taken in raids, and the raiders normally target the immature ants, the larvae and the pupae. The captured pupae metamorphose into adult ants in the raider’s nest and imprint on
it. Once these captives begin working, they carry on as though they
were in the own nest. No one is holding them against their will.
Some species take “slaves” opportunistically and can survive without
them. But there are other species that have developed the behavior to the point where they are incapable of caring for themselves and have to raid other ant nests if their larvae are to be fed and their nests maintained. The genus Polyergus is the best known of these obligate parasites, they are bright red ants and they conduct spectacular raids on summer afternoons. In some respects it’s an easy way to make a living: let other ants expend all the energy working while you can skim off their labor and use it for your reproduction.
As the ant “slaves” do not recognize their condition, ant slavery is
not really comparable to human slavery and there has been recent discussion among myrmecologists (ant biologists) about adopting a different terminology less burdened with anthropocentric meaning.
DP: Other than humans and primates, ants seem to be the only creatures on earth that learn and teach. How do they do this?
Alex: Well, that’s still a contentious issue among researchers. Whether ants can teach each other is partly a function of the semantics of the word “teaching.” A study done in the
Is that teaching? Maybe. But I’m happy to leave this one for the
philosophers. I suspect the story that only ants and primates can
teach does a disservice to all those other species out there that have not yet been studied.
Alex: I’ve been paying attention to ants since a young age- my mother still tells the story of a 5-year old me, on a family vacation, trying to collect carpenter ants into a Styrofoam cup. Myrmecology appears to have been something I was born with. I can’t give a rational answer, as there was no logical progression that led me to it. I just think ants are really amazing, a fascinating alien civilization that is always around us but that few people notice.
DP: Why did you begin to study ants and why do you think you're so fascinated by myrmecology?
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Everyone knows the horrible cliché: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Far be it from us to argue with bad platitudes. Pictures – especially photographs – have the uncanny ability to evoke powerful emotions – so powerful that some photographs have changed the world.
Or at least our perceptions of the world.
It’s difficult to determine what makes up the composition of a good photograph never mind a great one. But one element is the ability to capture humanity. All the photographs we have chosen for our list strike a deep, emotional chord. They show us our own humanity reflecting back at us.
Millions of words were written about the Vietnam War during the turbulence of the late 60s and early 70s, yet none of those words captured
The photograph, taken in 1968 during the Tet Offensive, has become one of the most famous – and gut-wrenchingly violent – photographs ever taken. The scene – Bay Lop being shot in the head – is utterly striking. So much so that it is difficult to tear your eyes off of it.
Another photograph taken during the Vietnam War also makes our list. Kim Phuc was a 9-year-old girl living in the
Many of the villagers were killed, including members of Phuc’s family. The photograph of her running naked down the street as napalm scorched her back and fires raged behind her was captured by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut. It won him the Pulitzer Prize and helped turn the American public against the war.
Phuc’s wounds were so severe that doctors didn’t think she’d survive. But after 17 surgeries and more than 14 months in the hospital – she recovered. She’s still alive today.
The photograph, which echoes Edward Munch’s “The Scream,” is absolutely chilling.
The image of Florence Owens Thompson with hand at her chin and furrowed brow and her children, faces hidden, huddled around her has become an iconic image of the Great Depression. This one image speaks to the hardship of the 1930s almost as much as John Steinbeck’s classic “The Grapes of Wrath.”
The photograph was taken by Dorothea Lange as she drove down U.S. Highway 101. Mrs. Thompson was camped at the side of the road next to broken down truck, waiting for her husband and two sons to return from a garage with equipment to fix the truck.
The photograph – known as Migrant Mother – captured the essence of a woman’s strength when faced with great despair. Mrs. Thompson wasn’t identified as the subject of the photograph until the late 1970s when she wrote a letter to a local newspaper complaining that she never got any money for being the subject of a famous image.
This photograph adorned the cover of “National Geographic” in 1985. It depicts a 12-year-old Afghan refugee with striking green eyes. It was taken at the Nasir Bagh refugee camp by Steve McCurry.
The photograph became a symbol of the war in
Gula lost her mother and father in the war and was sent to the refugee camp in
Raising the Flag on
Taken on February, 23, 1945 by photographer Joe Rosenthal. The photograph, which became the subject of the Clint Eastwood movie “Flags of Our Fathers,” shows five U.S. Marines and a Navy corpsman raising an American flag over a rocky slope on the
It has become one of the most recognizable photographs in the world and has come to symbolize American gumption during World War II. Many people think it the photograph depicts a victory, but it was simply a staged event to show
Man on the Moon
The photograph of Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking toward a camera on the lunar surface is one of the most visually stunning – and one of the most famous ever taken.
Aldrin, a member of the Apollo 11 team, is also famous for punching in the face a “documentary” film maker named Bart Sibrel, who stalked Aldrin and tried to force him to swear on a Bible that the moon landing weren’t faked.
The photograph of Aldrin made the cover of “Life” magazine and has become an iconic image of space exploration, NASA, and the space race against the
It might be hard to find a photograph as visually emotional as John Filo’s photograph of a 14-year-old runaway girl screaming over the dead body after the 1970
The girl was Mary Ann Vecchio who was at the university to protest the Vietnam War when Ohio National Guardsman opened fire on the protesters – mostly students. The body in the photograph is that of Jeffrey Miller, who was shot in the face.
The photograph appeared on the cover of “Newsweek” and won Filo a Pulitzer Prize. The expression on Vecchio’s face is one of raw emotion that is difficult to ignore and become a symbol of the U.S. anti-war movement.
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My silver car streaked down the highway. Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” pounded out the car speakers. With the windows rolled down, the warm twilight rushed through the interior, whipping my hair. I was speeding, but the sensation of freedom was too great and the music too loud to slow down.
But then a red light and I was forced to hit the brakes. At the side of the road was a beggar; young guy with a scruffy beard, bleary red-rimmed eyes, and a baggy navy-blue sweatshirt marred by several stains. He held a sign, but I couldn’t make it out.
On impulse, I pulled out my wallet and handed him a five-dollar bill. He smiled and with a nod said: “God bless you.”
I wanted to tell him there is no god, but we both understood that he wasn’t being literal. He was being gracious – and a bit disingenuous, but he was playing his role and I was playing mine.
The light flicked green and I roared off. But I was already contemplating Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, the two protagonists of Jack Kerouac’s 1957 classic “On the Road,” which turns half-a-century old this year. I wondered if my beggar was grooving on his freedom – silently laughing at me as I returned to the chains of my own conventional life.
It was that thought that finally slowed me down. I began to ponder on the mysterious power of freedom and how “On the Road” may have captured that spirit better than any other novel in the last 100 years.
“On the Road” might be turning middle aged, but the novel remains as energetic and vibrant as a 21-year-old hitchhiking across the
Many critics have belatedly praised the book fro its influence on modern writers, rock music, and even movies, but they seem to do so begrudgingly. They like to point out the flaws of the novel – its jerky narrative and uneven flow; its revolving door of minor and insignificant characters. But to do so is to miss the point of “On the Road.”
The novel is a subversive classic – a work fiction that shattered the conventions of post-World War II America and read like a fast-paced jazz tune played in a smoky roadhouse. While the government and mass media were busy praising our unprecedented war victory and urging Americans to get back to work, settle down in a nice little bungalow, and raise law-abiding children, Kerouac was there to remind us that not everyone wanted to be part of that program. He boldly told us that victory over
Kerouac screamed that messages to the heavens. He flipped his middle fingers at traditional American values and reminded us that there was more to life than a dreary 9 to 5 existence with church on Sunday. “On the Road” is about the search for independence – a quest for free will. It is about following emotions – letting the little demons of our souls loose every once in a while.
The New York Times Book Review called “On the Road” the “Huckleberry Finn” of the 20th century – but even that lofty comparison misses the mark. “On the Road” isn’t following in the footsteps of “Huckleberry Finn” – it blazed its own way to become something completely different.
The novel is stunningly iconoclastic. It is men speeding across the desert in the nude to feel the hot wind whipping across their sweaty chests. It is threesomes having sex together to experiment and explore. It is dive bars filled with jazz musicians and spectators smoking pot and grooving to the music. It is educated men turning their backs on respectability and living like bums.
As Kerouac writes: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a common place thing, but burn burn burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
Perhaps one of the most overlooked and amazing characters in the book in Dean Moriarty’s girlfriend (and sometime wife) Marylou. Can you imagine the courage of this woman? In a time when women were often considered indentured servants – she was whizzing across the
How terrifying for
“On the Road” continues to rage. It continues to push convention even 50 years later.
It’s much more effective capturing the essence of freedom than speeding down a highway listening to rock music.
How is that for lasting power?
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DaRK PaRTY: For DaRK PaRTY readers unfamiliar with Get the Led Out can you give us an origin story? How did you get together in the first place and why Led Zeppelin music?
Paul: My guitarist Paul Hammond and I have been performing in and around the
In the fall of 2003, I was contacted by bassist Paul Piccari who along with another guitarist was putting together a Zeppelin show that he wanted to take to theaters, festivals and other national venues. He had heard of me and proceeded to track me down. Like most Led Zeppelin tribute shows out there, they wanted to do a version of the movie "The Song Remains the Same." Playing the extended live versions and impersonating the members.
I was never really interested in doing a "cover" project and certainly not an impersonator show. I also had no interest in performing the live versions of Led Zeppelin's songs. The album versions are what hooked me with Zep. Needless to say, we didn't get off to a great start, but in time it would become a dream project!
Long story short, I brought Paul Hammond in, we went through some line-up changes and eventually found all the right guys, we decided on the "studio version" approach, agreed NOT to go the "impersonator route" and hooked up with Frank Kielb of Frank Kielb Entertainment who has helped us to take this thing to the national level. Going onstage as ourselves, putting on a big rock concert performing the studio versions of the Zep catalog has turned out to be what separates us from the other Led Zeppelin shows and I attribute a lot of our success to this. I'd like to tell you that it was a calculated, savvy business move, but in reality it was just the only way I could see doing it.
DP: Why do you think Led Zeppelin remains such a popular rock band even today?
Paul: It seems to me that if you follow the progression of rock from Elvis on, it got heavier with The Beatles, heavier with The Stones, heavier with Hendrix and even heavier with Led Zeppelin. However from Zeppelin on, I don't think rock got any heavier. Maybe louder, faster with more distorted guitars, but not heavier.
There is a depth of musicality with Zeppelin that hasn't been reached since. They are sort of the classical composers of the rock era. I believe 100 years from now Led Zeppelin will be looked at as the Beethoven or Bach of our time (along with The Beatles, The Stones and Hendrix). As cliché as it sounds, their music is timeless. A kid today hearing “Led Zeppelin II” for the first time gets the same feeling I did when I was 15. I KNOW because I talk to these kids at our shows!
DP: Get the Led Out captures the essence of the mystical side of Led Zeppelin -- that mesh of fantasy with rock and roll. How important is that to your performance and what Zeppelin songs go over best with fans in concert?
Paul: Led Zeppelin did all the work. It's the songs themselves that create that mystical vibe. As long as we deliver them with accuracy and passion we should be able to maintain it. It obviously changes with the night and the audience, but generally speaking the big crowd pleasers are "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," "No Quarter," "Heartbreaker," "Moby Dick," "Kashmir," "Whole Lotta Love" and of course "Stairway To Heaven!"
DP: Have you ever met anyone from Led Zeppelin (band, management, record label, etc.) and, if so, what has their reaction been?
Paul: Last year we were contacted by a representative of the ABC Trust, a charity to help feed the children of
JR then attended one of our shows and he and guitarist Paul Hammond really hit it off. JR mentioned that he was going to visit Jimmy around his birthday and wanted to bring him a Martin acoustic guitar as a gift. Next thing you know, JR, Paul Hammond and myself are at the Martin factory helping to design a special birthday gift for Jimmy Page.
Again, long story short, when the guitar was completed JR, Paul Hammond and the guitar flew to
Paul and JR were then invited to the Page home where they spent some time with the family. Paul proceeded to play Christmas songs on the guitar for the kids. All in all, a pretty amazing trip! Jimmy was very appreciative for the guitar and when he finally returned and was able to play it, he expressed how he absolutely loved it!
All the members of Get The Led Out have been in the music business for a lot of years. As a result of this, each of us has had some pretty cool experiences meeting and/or working with people in the biz that we admire. As it relates to Zeppelin, Jimmy Marchiano worked with Kevin Shirley (mixing engineer on "How The West Was Won" and the "Led Zeppelin DVD"). Paul Hammond worked with Steve Albini (producer of Page/Plant "Walking Into Clarksdale"). These were both pre-Get The Led Out experiences so there were no reactions to be had.
DP: What are your three favorite Led Zeppelin songs and why?
Paul: 1. “Babe I'm Gonna Leave You” - It's probably the most moving vocal performance I have ever heard.
2. “Heartbreaker” - Jimmy Page is the king of the rock riff and it just doesn't get better than this one! You can't feel any cooler than being onstage with this song... period!
3. “Whole Lotta Love” - This song IS Led Zeppelin. With all of the musical journeys they have taken us on, one thing remains constant... the groove. It doesn't get groovier. “Whole Lotta Love” is drenched in sex and bombastic in its delivery! It's the very essence of what makes them the mighty Zep!(Photos by Scott Weiner and courtesy of Get the Led Out)
Read about the 12 Coolest Women in Rock History here
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We’re fighting a war.
It’s difficult to comprehend because most of us don’t think about the fact forget that more than 120,000
It is strange how the war has failed to impact our daily lives.
All it takes is a look back to figure out why. During World War II, President Roosevelt tried to impose a 100 percent tax on incomes of more than $25,000 in order to foot the military cost of the war. Congress voted it down, but by 1944 almost every working person in the
Back then, the
The civilian population mobilized in response to the Second World War. Communities started Civil Air Patrols to monitor for enemy U-boat activity off the coasts and set-up spotters on mountains and hillsides to search for enemy aircraft. We also had a draft, which kept soldiers – of all races and socioeconomic classes – on the battlefield.
Flash forward to the Iraq War.
Despite mounting expenses and a price tag so far of more than $400 billion, President Bush has yet to ask the American people to pay for it. In fact, Bush has cut taxes – mainly on the wealthy. American workers have not been asked to defray the cost of the conflict – instead we’re paying for it with debt – basically passing on the cost to future generations.
There has been no price controls placed on goods and services – not even gasoline. The draft has been eliminated and the war is now being fought by our professional fighting class – mostly people in the lower income brackets with few opportunities for advancement outside of military service.
Americans without relatives in the military have not been asked to sacrifice anything.
And that’s the problem with the Iraq War. While the conflict continues to escalate (3,583 dead and 26,350 wounded as of this posting), Americans don’t seem to remember (or care) that we’re at war. People are planning their vacations (I have friends flying to
For the last few days the iPhone hype got more media attention than the war in
The only reminders that we’re at war are the news stories which have been pushed off the front pages of newspapers and the occasional Doonesbury cartoon. This might be why only 29 percent of Americans believing we aren’t winning the war against terrorism, according to a recent Gallop Poll.
Does anyone even talk about the war anymore? I’ve been to numerous cook-outs and birthday parties in the last several months and the war is rarely even mentioned. This is because the war has been politicized and talking about it is akin to bring up abortion at a cocktail party. The media fuels this by positioning the war as a political battle between Republicans and Democrats rather than… well, a war.
This is also compounded by the fact that most Americans know little of the details about the Iraq War. The mainstream press gives us nebulous terms like “insurgents” to describe our enemies (a bad catch-all phrase for the different Sunni and Shai militias and Al-Qaeda terrorists in
Which leads to a very trouble question: Has the Iraq War already been forgotten even though we’re still fighting it?
The answer seems to be a resounding: “Yes.”
Think about that while you’re watching fireworks at your local Fourth of July celebration.