Next, A Scientific Test Confirming The Fable Of The Ant And The Grasshopper

A rook

A rook

I’m having lunch with Dr. Science tomorrow, so in his honor I thought I would post this interesting story about a scientific test designed to test the veracity of one of Aesop’s Fables. In this case, the test examined whether rooks could use stones to raise the level of water in a container so the rooks could get to a worm floating on the water’s surface. Sure enough, the clever birds figured it out quickly, leading some to hypothesize that the fable was based on an observation of actual birds.

I think there might be some value in testing the truth of other Aesop’s Fables. May I suggest that the scientists turn next to the Fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper, and then report the results to Congress?


Hack Moves

When I was in college, my roommate Graydon and I often referred to someone who behaved inappropriately as a “hack,” or to an ill-advised decision as a “hack move.”  I thought about that phrase when I read the latest story about computer hackers, this time in connection with hacking efforts directed against Twitter and Facebook.  The hackers mounted “denial of service” attacks that were simply designed to disrupt access to those popular websites.

I don’t quite get why hackers engage in such hack behavior.  Some hacking is clearly self-interested criminal activity — like that involved in stealing personal information to accomplish identity theft or credit card fraud — but most hacking seems to be mindless vandalism, akin to spray-painted graffiti on park walls, smashed streetlights, and broken glass bottles on sidewalks.  I suppose every vandal gets some kind of thrill from engaging in petty criminal behavior without being caught.  Maybe there also is a fleeting feeling of power in destroying something, or a sense of revenge against society by an outcast, or the ability to boast of an illicit act to the limited circle the hacker is trying to impress.  In any case, it seems like a computer hacker would have to be an unhappy person.  Why else would anyone want to do something that achieves no purpose other than to prevent people from using a website that they think is a lot of fun?