Bats Suffer a Mysterious Plague

Some of the most popular stories on the Web.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Okay, a lady and I at Old Navy, the lady behind the counter and I shared our love of this song.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

You did?

STEWART: Yeah. I was buying something. She was buying something. We both started doing a dance. And she just goes, I love Mary J. I was like, I love Mary J., too. Welcome back THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. We're always available online at npr.org. I'm Alison Stewart, along with Rachel Martin, and we are not alone any longer.

MARTIN: We are not.

STEWART: Joining us in the studio are the BPP staff. That means one thing: it's time for the most emailed, most blogged, most commented and most popular stories on the Web. Here's the Most.

(Soundbite of music)

STEWART: Dan Pashman…

MARTIN: Who's first?

STEWART: …is going first.

DAN PASHMAN: (unintelligible)

STEWART: Turn on Pashman's mic.

PASHMAN: …microphone going there? Yo.

STEWART: We're happy to know Pashman is back on the food beat.

PASHMAN: That's right. I'm back on food. Football season's over, we're back to food. I've got a most emailed here from the Seattle Post Intelligencer: "Free Pancakes at IHOP Next Tuesday." I know - I'm sure a lot of BPP listeners were camped out at IHOP two days ago.

MARTIN: At all IHOPs around the country?

PASHMAN: Yes. But ordinarily, it's Mardi Gras day that they do this, and I'll explain why in a sec. But it's next Tuesday because of Super Tuesday and everything going on, and they thought that it would be too much of a distraction, so they postponed it one week - 7 AM to 10 PM. But they do it on Shrove Tuesday, which is a day celebrated in the UK, Canada, parts of Australia on the same day as Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday. And it's a tradition - it's also known in England as Pancake Day, or Pancake Tuesday.

They're supposed to eat - in much the same way that they eat doughnuts and fried, fatty food in New Orleans on Mardi Gras, they eat pancakes, another kind of fatty food, in England for the same kind of reason the day before Ash Wednesday. And that's Shrove Tuesday, so that's normally when the free pancakes happen at IHOP. But instead, it'll be next Tuesday, 7 AM to 10 PM - free short stack, but you will be asked to make a donation to Children's Miracle Network. So last year…

MARTIN: I think that's very nice.

PASHMAN: It is. Last year, they raised over $625,000.

STEWART: Ah.

MARTIN: Very cool.

STEWART: See, it's good to try IHOP.

MARTIN: Miss Caitlin?

CAITLIN KENNEY: My story's a little bit sad. It is the number one most emailed at the Boston Globe. It's about a mystery illness that's killing off bats in Vermont and New York. The disease has been dubbed the White Nose Syndrome because of a flaky white fungus that grows on the nose of many sick and dead bats. They're not really sure what's causing it. They discovered it last march, and they found about 11,000 dead bats, and they'd thought it gone. And now it sort of resurfaced. So they're really concerned. They're asking people to stay out of caves in case humans are spreading it, and they're just desperately trying to figure out what's killing these bats. And here at the BPP, you remember - may remember our own little Batmitzvah.

MARTIN: We love bats at the BPP. (unintelligible)

STEWART: I know, but this is like, why do we love bats and we don't love rats? Like, what is it about bats that we somehow kind of…

KENNEY: We…

PASHMAN: Because bats can fly. I mean, that's why pigeons get ranked above rats, also. Because things that can fly are much prettier.

MARTIN: Are higher. There's a superhero called Batman. There's no Ratman.

PASHMAN: Yeah.

KENNEY: It's true.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KENNEY: And if saw the picture of our little Batmitzvah on our blog, it was the cutest little silver-haired bat.

MARTIN: I saw that bat in real life.

KENNEY: Well, you know it's adorable.

MARTIN: I used to (unintelligible) so I could see it. Mm, kind of.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: I don't know. I not big on bats.

KENNEY: (unintelligible) bat bandwagon.

PASHMAN: (unintelligible)

MARTIN: Yeah.

KENNEY: Well, anyway, it could be bad news for farmers, because bats kill of mosquitoes and bugs and other things that affect. So, if they're missing bats, the crops might be in danger.

STEWART: My most is one of the most viewed videos at MSNBC.com. Here's the headline: "Woman Buckles Up Beer, but not Baby." I'm just going to let this police officer from St. John's County in Florida explain the incident.

Unidentified Man: At that point an time, he also observed that there was a case of beer which was seat belted in the car for its safety, I guess. And however, there was a one-year-old child in the rear seat with another adult who was not seat belted.

STEWART: Yes, it happened in Super Bowl Sunday. This woman in Florida, arrested on drunk driving charges because the beer was buckled up, but the baby was not. She told police she didn't know why the baby was in the back seat without a seat belt or a car seat. I don't know why. She was charged with driving under the influence, child endangerment, driving without a valid license, and not having a seat belt or child restraint.

MARTIN: No comment.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Hello, Florida.

MARTIN: That's all I'm going to say. Okay, I have a cool story. It's the number two most searched thing on Google Trends. It's called Blooter. And Blooter is - yeah, thanks. Blooter is a new music site. It's this place where just kind of any old Joe Schmo - I don't really think they have standards. You can just - if you think you have musical, you can upload your file of whatever file you've made onto this site, and then other people can listen to it or actually download it for a small fee. So that's how the site makes money. And I guess everyone's trying to figure out what in the world Blooter means, so they were Googling it. It apparently comes from Scottish slang. It means a hearty and full-blooded strike. And this is an example of how a Scottish person would say it, and I'm - you do a better Scottish accent than I do.

STEWART: Blooter.

MARTIN: I'm going to try it. Blooter the ball like - I can't - blooter the ball like that, and you're not playing.

PASHMAN: That's rubbish.

MARTIN: Basically, that meant if you kick the ball as hard and as terribly as that again, you're not going to play football with us. So blooter means kick, and they named it after - and this Web site is named after it, and that's where you can upload your music if you think you have particular musical talents.

STEWART: Matt Martinez.

MATT MARTINEZ: Yes, I am…

STEWART: You're rounding it up.

MARTINEZ: I am rounding it up with some of the most emailed at npr.org. There are two that I think are quite interesting. They're in the top five. They kind of go back and forth from three and four, and four and five. One is a report from John Neilsen that aired on MORNING EDITION. It's "Americans Spending Less Time in Nature." This university professor, University of Illinois in Chicago calculated that since the late '80s, attendance at national parks has been declining by about one percent of the year. He actually looked across national parks, state and local parks, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and commercial polling firms and just found out that participation outside is down 18 percent to 25 percent from peak levels. So people just aren't going outside anymore.

STEWART: Going - that's sad.

MARTINEZ: They're just not going outside anymore. And that leads to another on the NPR most emailed, which is "High School Teaches Thoreau in Woods" - literally.

STEWART: They're making people go outside.

MARTINEZ: They're making people so outside.

STEWART: They're brave.

MARTIN: Very Thoreau-ian.

MARTINEZ: One program is offered all year long, outdoors, at Walden Pond.

MARTIN: Oh, I think that sounds pretty good.

STEWART: There's actually a Walden. That is cool.

MARTINEZ: Isn't that pretty cool? It's actually at Walden Pond.

STEWART: It think that sounds neat.

MARTINEZ: And we - actually, it's called the Walden Project, and it's this guy called Matt Schlein. And we're going to hear the piece that was reported by Larry Abramson on MORNING EDITION, and it's all about this guy who runs this alternative program focused on environmental studies and the teachings of Henry David Thoreau. And the opening line of this piece - brilliant. Let's hit it.

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