Ladybugs, North Korea, Murderers Paroled and Twinkies


The official New York State insect is the nine-spotted ladybug. Unfortunately, the last one seen was in 1982. At a session of the New York State Assembly in 2006, a bill was put forward releasing the nine spotted from its exalted position, thus freeing the state to designate a new official bug. The bill went to committee and never came out. So the bug which had left (fled? Been forced out?), the  nine-spotted ladybug, remained the official state bug.

As it happens, since the year 2000, a group of entomologists, without much else to do, have banded together to form a group called the Lost Ladybug Project, continuously combing the state in the hopes of finding a nine spotted ladybug somewhere. Last fall, they hit pay dirt—so to speak.

One of the volunteers, a man named Peter Priolo, found one of these creatures in a patch of sunflowers on a 10,000-acre Amagansett farm under preservation by the Peconic Land Trust.

“I didn’t realize it was a nine spotted when I found it,” he told a reporter from The New York Times. “I just put it in my jar and hurried back to meet with everybody.”

Other members of the Lost Ladybug Project soon began swarming through Amagansett after that and pretty soon collected enough of them to establish a colony of nine-spotteds, which are now being bred in a lab in Ithaca, not far from the State Capital in Albany.

What if that 2006 bill had become law and, for example, the big black fly was designated the official state insect? Would the legislators rescind the new law? This thought boggles the mind.



One of the biggest businesses in South Korea is playing video games. Over half of the country plays them—“Dungeon and Fighter” and “Lineage” are two popular online gaming sites—and it’s a $2.4 billion business, not only from the selling of the video games, but from the selling of various cyberspace guns, spears, semi-automatics, rockets, lightning bolts, spells, dreams, bazookas and other weapons that enable the players of these games to come through the levels to victory. Some particularly sophisticated pretend weapons can cost, in actual cash, close to $1,000.

Turns out that North Korea, which is hard strapped for cash because of all the embargoes placed on it, has figured out a way to make big bucks from this situation.

The government commissioned some of its top university students in Pyongyang to play the games and then develop rogue programs that could robotically play the game for you automatically. South Korean enthusiasts could, if they bought this program, start up the game, walk off for a bit, then return to find themselves already at the third level with all sorts of flame throwers and grenades and other weapons of mass destruction already in your backpack. These points were convertible to actual cash.

The key to this was, of course, finding a way to purchase this robot program. It wouldn’t be cheap of course. And selling the program is how North Korea figured to make money.

According to South Korea anti-terrorist chiefs, four South Korean businessmen have been arrested for organizing the hacking, which is believed to be affiliated with North Korea’s Bureau 39, the organization in North Korea that handles all international transactions such as illegal arms, counterfeiting, narcotics and ginseng sales to arrange for the purchase of this software. The scam had earned them $6 million, according to the report (in The New York Times) and North Korea a much larger amount of cash.

It has, however, saved various South Korean gaming enthusiasts a whole lot of time.



Big shocking news the other day was that Haley Barbour, the outgoing governor of Mississippi had, as his last order, granted clemency to 215 dangerous criminals, some of whom were murderers. The thought of them roaming around that state sent many people into a panic.

Not to worry, though. It was just some thing by the media designed to sell newspapers or get you to watch something. One hundred and eighty-nine had already completed their prison terms and were out in the general population anyway, and the clemency was just given so they wouldn’t be encumbered by such rules as not being able to vote, get professional licenses or restrict other forms of gainful employment. Thirteen others were given clemency because of health reasons and five inmates were released because they had worked at the Governor’s mansion. Surely if they could work at Governor Barbour’s house without murdering anybody else, they’d be fine on the outside.



Hostess Brands, which makes Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Wonder Bread and Drake’s Cakes, declared bankruptcy the other day, as well they should. They have an $850 million debt load they can’t pay off, largely because of the generous pay contracts they had negotiated with the trade unions in better times. The workers there had pensions and medical insurance that would follow them and their families for the rest of their lives. This in addition to all the Ding Dongs, Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Drake’s Cake they could eat. The hell with obesity.

A fellow named Jimmy Dewar created the Twinkie when he figured out a way to use a syringe on an assembly line to inject a cream inside a cake. This was in the 1930s.

“Twinkies was the best darn-tootin’ idea I ever had,” he famously said.

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