2.26.2009

Lessons Learned from Masochistic Beetle Sex

Beetle Sex

Beetle Sex:

What doesn't kill you, just plain hurts.

Yes, you read that title correctly, and no, this blog has not been hacked, nor have I taken a strange interest in insect copulation; until yesterday, I didn’t even know that beetles had sex, much less that they were into S&M. What brought my attention to the painful mating habits of beetles was National Geographic’s article “Tortured” Penises Give Beetles Reproductive Edge*, which they were nice enough to post shortly before I was to demonstrate RSS Readers to several staff members in my building, using an RSS reader that I had subscribed to the National Geographic feed, because I assumed it was a safe educational resource. (Yes, I know what happens when I assume…I’m a slow learner.) Imagine the surprise of the staff when the webpage loaded and that was the first item listed; imagine my surprise when we figured out that it was indeed a legitimate blog post and not a virus (my computer has been possessed this week, so malicious forces propagating my RSS Reader with smut was not far-fetched). The teachers had a good laugh, I had a good blush, and we moved on with the lesson.

The beetles, however, were not done with me yet.

As I demonstrated how to utilize NetVibes to aggregate dynamic information for students (ala Joyce Valenza’s 2.0-style text books), we remembered the beetles. What if a sixth grader had opened a teacher’s web page where such an article was listed? I’m sure that would have spawned many interesting conversations - for both parents and school administration – as well as a subsequent eschewing of any new and innovative technology being used in the classroom. After all, the most damage a text book can do is to give a student a paper cut…right?…Anyway, the beetle incident was not without value. It showed that while dynamic content is useful for keeping current in this rapidly changing world, it is also unpredictable…sometimes unpleasantly so.

The other lesson I learned? (Other than to stop assuming, which you’d think I would have learned by now.) Females of all species are indeed getting the short end spiny end of the stick.

*The title has since been changed using the term “phalluses”; I must not have been the only one who encountered this article in an unfortunate situation.

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