Republican Sen. Tom Coburn compiles examples of  waste and abuse in his annual “Wastebook.”  

This year’s list is filled with pulse-raising examples of bad  gambles made by the “smart set” using taxpayer dollars.

Cardio for mountain lions – University of California-Santa Cruz

At the University of California-Santa Cruz, professor Terrie Williams was awarded an $856,000 research grant by the National Science Foundation to study mountain lions on treadmills.

Researchers said the study is “likely to greatly inform public knowledge and opinion of large mammal behavior and conservation.” The study, which taught three mountain lions to walk and run on a treadmill, also designed a special collar to measure the “power of the pounce” in the hunting habits of mountain lions in the wild…

Bored Monkeys like to gamble – University of RochesterAn ongoing study at the University of Rochester found that monkeys love to gamble and play video games, Wastebook reports.

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, contributed $171,361 to create a computerized game to woo monkeys attention and explore their addictive chance-taking tendencies. Three games were designed, “two with clear patterns … and a third in which the lucky pick was completely random” where the monkeys were able to pick up on the patterns. “But in the random scenarios, the monkeys continued to make choices as if they expected a ‘streak.’ In other words, even when rewards were random, the monkeys favored one side. The monkeys showed the hot-hand bias consistently over weeks of play,” the study says.

From the study, Rochester researchers were able to conclude monkeys share humans’ belief in winning and loosing streaks. Perhaps the study will even “provide nuance to our understanding of free will” or “inform treatment for gambling addiction,” as the researchers posit.

Synchronized swimming sea monkeys – Cal Tech

Can Sea Monkeys be trained to do loop-the-loop and other tricks by following light? “With the financial support of three government agencies, researchers put these claims to the test and essentially choreographed a laser guided synchronized swim team of Sea Monkeys as part of a study to measure the swirl created by their collective movements,” the Wastebook reports.