Could A Rat Come Through The Toilet?

The internet is peppered with stories of nature invading urban spaces, much to the mortification and terror of unsuspecting modern people. And there’s no place we’re more vulnerable than the bathroom. From spiders to rats to even sewer crocodiles, I think we’re all paranoid about an unwanted creepy crawly ending up in the porcelain palace. However spiders are mostly harmless and as for the other two, well they’re just myths, right?

Wrong. While crocodiles may be too large to fit in your pipes, a rat certainly isn’t. Though they look super sturdy and thick sometimes, rats actually have a hinged rib cage, which allows them to compress their bodies to get into really tight places. They are also excellent swimmers, and can hold their breaths for up to three minutes. Which means – you guessed it – they can end up in your toilet at any moment.

And this isn’t just limited to New York City, where the rats are basically a hallmark of the city. All urban areas have some degree of a rat problem, and that means that there is always the possibility of a “city rat problem” becoming your rat problem.

So what can you do? Short of swearing off modern plumbing for the rest of your life, There’s not much. The best we can offer is to keep your toilet lids closed and pray you’re not one of the minority groups of people to whom this happens. Rats have evolved to live off human excess and waste, and that means that sometimes, being human means having to call animal control to fish a rat out of your toilet. Weird world, right?

Give Up This Plastic Product


It can be overwhelming to think about the amount of plastic waste that we humans contribute to the world’s oceans and wildlife preserves on a daily basis – so overwhelming in fact that many of us don’t make changes in our personal lives to combat it. This is totally understandable, but of course it isn’t any way to live a purposeful life. To get started, cut out one item that is bad for the environment completely. We suggest cotton swabs.

That’s right, those little plastic sticks with cotton on the ends; you know, the ones you aren’t supposed to use in your ears but totally do. The cotton is biodegradable, of course, because it comes from a plant, but the plastic sticks are just one of many little household items that end up in our oceans, adding up to a huge amount of plastic every year.


This photo says it all. When we put plastic into the oceans, it doesn’t break down, so animals and plant life have to adapt or die, and sometimes attempting the former leads to the latter. This little seahorse would usually be attached to seagrass or kelp, but now he may be drifting aimlessly away from food sources and familiar habitats.

Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Q-Tips, have realized the crisis and changed the sticks of their cotton swabs to paper, but this is only available in some countries. Until each person worldwide decides to make small changes in their lives and stop consuming so much plastic, large companies such as this one will be hard pressed to modify their products across the board.

Death Of An Icon

A light will soon go out of the world, but only people who were young in the late 1990s to early 2000s will mourn it. After 20 years, AOL has announced that it will be taking it’s classic Instant Messenger offline in two months time. Instant Messenger was, for many, the first interaction they had with the internet, and their first attempts at shorthand language. A precursor to texting, Instant Messenger was one of the first real time text based popular communication methods, and paved the way for many different iterations.

AOL knew what it had in Instant Messenger was special, and for years after its 1997 launch, it fiercely protected the rights to its intellectual property. It stalled launches of similar programs from Microsoft and others, until they formed a coalition to complain to the FCC. But with the door open, it seemed like every social media site and computer system had it’s own form of instant messaging, and popularity of the original Instant Messenger has been declining steadily ever since.

The program will continue to function normally until December 15, at which time login will not be possible. AOL will delete all data and usernames / passwords. Michael Albers, the vice president of communications at Oath, said of the shutdown, “AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed.” Still, the program (and it’s iconic yellow man) will be missed.

New Incoming Hardware From Google

Google recently announced a whole slew of new products coming down the pipeline very soon, and we couldn’t be more excited about them! There are the new smartphones – second generations of Google’s Pixel, which is only a year old.

Pixel 2 comes in regular and XL sizes (just like the iPhone!) and, just like that other infamous tech giant, have cut out the headphone jack entirely. Sigh: change is never easy. However, the real showstopper on these phones is the camera, which has superb low-light capabilities and works directly with Google Lens to provide you with realtime info about your surroundings. They also happen to be waterproof.

Google is also releasing a PixelBook, a new Chromebook version that can come with a stylus. Looks like they’re diving into Apple territory again with the cost: it starts at a whopping $1,199! It tethers with the Pixel 2 (of course) and converts easily from tablet to laptop and back again. However, the stylus isn’t included and for the price, why not just get a mac?

Finally, Google announced the launch of their mini speaker (in response to the smaller Echo Dot, no doubt). And just like Amazon’s Echo Dot, this one isn’t made to be a sound system. Sure it’s smart, and can provide answers and info on the go, but you’ll regret trying to play music on them. That’s not really what they’re for anyways, however, and if you want an affordable device that you can use to control other ones throughout, we couldn’t recommend it more!

Scientists Have New Classification For Earth

Earth’s scientists have long fantasized about alien lifeforms, and how their civilizations would function. They’ve even classified these hypothetical civilizations into three categories: Type 1 would harness all the energy of their home planet, Type 2 would do so for their whole solar system, and Type 3 could use all the energy their whole galaxy produces. Note that Earth does not even fit into the Type 1 category yet.

Recently scientists have come up with a new classification system, based on “nonequilibrium thermodynamics” – or rather, how much out of sync a planet’s energy flow is. The thought is that life, intelligent life even, promotes this disorder. There are many more categories than the previous scale – no atmosphere, agency-dominated biosphere, or even a technosphere – but the point is to get the field thinking about sustainability on a huge, even planetary scale.

On this new scale, Earth is in a moment of transition, due no doubt to the profound effect that humans are having on the planet. We’re currently a Class IV, with a heavy biosphere and with lifeforms (us)  affecting the planet a little, but we’re moving towards the final Class V, where Earth is very much affected by humans as an energy-intensive species.

The authors of the new classification study said, “Our thesis is that the development of long-term sustainable, versions of an energy-intensive civilization must be seen on a continuum of interactions between life and its host planet.” In other words, for Earth and humanity survive, we need to recognize that we’re dependant upon each other and act accordingly. Some would call those high hopes.