Sex: A Monotreme’s Four-Headed Monster

This latest news item courtesy of New Scientist a.k.a. the London tabloid of science journalism (1), is worthy of Bora’s (Blog Around the Clock) Friday Weird Sex Blogging but what the heck – there’s nothing more uplifting that a four-headed phallus on a Monday afternoon.

Continue reading “Sex: A Monotreme’s Four-Headed Monster”

Telco Power! An alternative energy source…from your phone!

In the same spirit as OBJECTIVE: Ministries, I give you Telco Powered™ Products.

New Patented Technology allows you to use Power from the Phone Company to operate everyday items that you have to use -even if the power is out.

The product line is truly amazing. I’m torn: should I order the Telco Powered™ Fan Cooler (When the Air Conditioning is out, it gets HOT in the desert. Fill the bottle with cold water, and spray as needed!) or the Telco Powered™ Vibrator:
There’s a lot of stress when the power is out!
Use our soothing Vibrator to relax your muscles after dealing with this serious problem.
Use it as long as you need to… it’s powered by the phone company!
“Last time I was in LA, I had to walk down eight flights of stairs with two big bags to check out of the hotel that had been without power twice during my stay. The vibrator would have really helped my muscles after that stressful hotel stay!”

Late breaking news from the Telco Powered™ Innovations Group: Dr. Drizzlenick (Telco Power’s Chief Scientist from the renowned Chernobyl Electrical Institute in Russia) and Vitaliy Tolstonogov (Director General of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant) have developed alternate versions of all of the items you see on this web page, which run on common depleted uranium!

Friday Flippancy: Son-o-God Comics (NatLamPoo Aug. ’73)

I have a hodge-podge of old National Lampoons stored away in the basement. Periodically, I scan a few selected items (articles by P.J. O’Rourke and Chris Miller, various cartoons) for digital posterity. All are highly irreverent and culturally insensitive, and yes, I hoot raucously at them. Among my favorite bits of the NatLampPoo are Son-o-God Comics. Here’s the cover of the August 1973 edition and its inner leaf.

Continue reading “Friday Flippancy: Son-o-God Comics (NatLamPoo Aug. ’73)”

Pudendolls in Bronze

Last Saturday (09/29) found me ambling around the DeCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln MA. When I lived in Cambridge and indulged in hobbyjogging with a few other women, the sculpture park was a frequent pit (bathroom) stop during our long weekend runs on the Lincoln Conservation Trust trail system. In the summer, these runs were often followed by a cooling plunge into Walden Pond. Sorry about the brief nostalgic reverie, but hey, I’m old. It happens.
The DeCordova highlights contemporary sculpture with some pieces on permanent display and others as temporary installations. Sculptures in all media that refer to natural organic forms are the most appealing to me. Quite a few artists are influenced by the morphology of nature and incorporate such into their pieces to good – and sometimes disconcerting – effect. This is true of a number of pieces at the DeCordova.

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Friday Flippancy: The Verse of the One RNA and Discovery Institute Follies

Gene Expression’s Razib used a catchy little title for the article in which he referenced DNA Unraveled by Colin Nickerson for the Boston Globe. How overarching the role of RNA will be for the regulation of gene expression throughout the genome is still up for grabs, but one can’t deny that there’s fascinating and uncharted territory to be explored.
Predictably, the folks at the Discovery Institute leapt all over Nickerson’s article as further implication that complexity = Intelligent Design, and the old “scientists don’t know everything therefore the theory of evolution is not true” canard.

Continue reading “Friday Flippancy: The Verse of the One RNA and Discovery Institute Follies”

Meet my cousins, the beech trees

I mentioned in my previous entry the sense of transcendence I feel when I observe the green light passing through a tree’s leaves. My neighborhood woods on Princeton Ridge is full of tall trees, including beeches which are my favorite arboreal species. Part of that sense of wonder stems (har) from my knowledge of the inter-relatedness of the tree and myself, my lack of chlorophyll notwithstanding.
John Stiller of East Carolina University contends that we humans are more closely akin to plants than we are to fungi. The following article from ABC Science (that’s the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) outlines some of the reasons that Stiller thinks we need to move beyond molecular sequence-based phylogenetics when comparing plants and animals
As a former botany major and current aficionado of flower pornography, I feel vindicated that someone acknowledges the kissing cousin relationship between the beech trees and me…not that I hug them or anything.

Continue reading “Meet my cousins, the beech trees”

Battling Rainbows! John Keats vs. James Thomson Poetry Smackdown

Richard Dawkin’s Unweaving the Rainbow: Science Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder is on my active reading docket. The book has been around for a while (published in 1998), but it’s proving to be a most enjoyable discovery as I continue to read it. So far, I concur with complete reviews’ take on the book. It is a marvelous paean to the majesty and artistry of science. Dawkins’ sense of wonder very much resonates with my own – that feeling of transcendence when I look at light shining through green leaves or the transformations of calculations that are revealed as a colorful abstract collection of molecules on a computational chemist’s monitor screen.
Dawkins derives the title of the book from John Keats’ poem, Lamia. In the opening paragraph of “Barcodes in the Stars” in Unweaving the Rainbow, Dawkins recounts a gathering in 1817 at the studio of artist Benjamin Haydon:

Continue reading “Battling Rainbows! John Keats vs. James Thomson Poetry Smackdown”

The Scent of a Man…or a Monkey.

I previously confessed that I subscribe to that glossy hardcopy glut of advertising called Vanity Fair. Invariably, the mag contains photo spreads of ripple-ab’ed dudes hawking various men’s cologne. All this to mask delicious or stinky or neutral 5alpha-androst-16-en-3-one (androstenone); based on one’s genetic variation in the olfactory receptor that binds this steroid, it will smell sweet or icky or not at all. Razib at Gene Expression already covered the recent article in Nature – please see a world of sensory difference.

Continue reading “The Scent of a Man…or a Monkey.”

I Get Mail: Arachnoterror!

Found scuttling around in my docbushwell at gmail inbox:
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Needless to say, I was slightly disturbed when greeted with those images. My learned correspondent wrote the accompanying letter:

Dr. Bushwell:

My research has confirmed existence of several genera of the wolf spider Pardosa (Araneae, Lycosidae), such as the rabid wolf spider Rabidosa (Araneae, Lycosidae) and the oriental wolf spider Passiena (Lycosidae, Pardosinae). However, I have found no evidence of the FUCKING WOLF SPIDER! genus documented in Science Blogs. Ahem. Isn’t science supposed to be about facts?

Nevertheless, despite your unsupported claim, I’ve decided that FUCKING WOLF SPIDER! would be an excellent name for a band…probably a really bad, thrash metal hair band. Look for our upcoming CD release, “In Your Fucking Tent” featuring the soon-to-be-hit, head-banging ballad “While You Sleep.”
Sincerely yours,
R.M.

Coincidentally (or not), I had just read Arachnid Serendipity courtesy of The Indigestible, a noteworthy compendium of borborygmi to be found in the Refuge’s “Skepticism and General Agitation” blog roll. Warren’s description (augmented with picturesclose-up pictures) of his encounter with an Arizona brown spider had me writhing in my chair brushing away phantom legs and probing pedipalps.
Pardon me while I turn into a gibbering, quivering lump of phobic protoplasm.

LOLTHEORISTS

I didn’t shuffle through the digital shoe box of photos for flower porn today, so I’m offering something else.
A few posts back, LOLTHULHU made an appearance. It’s a parody of LOLCATS. With regard to the latter and the former, here’s what the blog formerly known as the Table of Malcontents (now Ectomo) had to say:

Is there anything more loathsome, more indicative of the rife idiot stupidity of the Internet than the LOLCats meme? The endless repetition of the exact same joke (photograph of surprised cat + implausible misspelling) done over and over and over again. Have you ever opened Photoshop, inserted a picture of your cat and then superimposed a sentence beginning with “O HAI” in a bold white Impact font? Congratulations. You are a lowest common denominator idiot and, quite frankly, you’re lucky Stalin ruined that whole gulag idea for everyone.
On the other hand, LOL Cthulhu? Now there’s a meme we can all get behind. How long, though, before someone soils even this fine thing by ‘cleverly’ mating this hilarious, tentacled genre with its retarded feline cousin, unleashing the bastard spawn LOLCathulhus upon the world? God damn you, whoever you are.

Well, there is another unholy meme that has been unleashed as of May 2007:
LOLTHEORISTS.
Some of you may be familiar with this, but it’s new to me. Hat tip to my correspondent in Dublin for passing the link along and also to The Dude in San Diego for the link to Malcontents/Ectomo.
I’d be hard pressed to name a favorite, but I snickered at the following.

Continue reading “LOLTHEORISTS”

Another Lactivist-Scientist-Mom Here – It’s Not Just Facebook.

Speaking as a mother who breastfed both of my kids and was a card-carrying member of LaLeche League (an uneasy relationship since I worked outside the home but valuable all the same for many other reasons), I figured I’d weigh in on this, but not from the Facebook angle. There are plenty of other offerings among my SciBlings on the Facebook debacle, and I am sure you can find them via the main page so I am not linking them here. I can’t say I am surprised at FB’s reactionary response to the photos of the mother in question. Breastfeeding is ridiculously sexualized in the US.
So here I offer you Exhibit B:
Bill Maher made a pig of himself (not surprisingly) when he weighed in recently on public breastfeeding as Katharine Mieszkowski reports in Bill Maher: “Don’t show me your tits!” via Salon’s Broadsheet. Since not all have access to the now gated community of Salon, here’s the text. I hope Ms. Mieszkowski will forgive me for reprinting this rather than just providing a link. There’s also a video of Maher’s idiocy in the Salon piece.

HBO’s Bill Maher is a self-professed libertarian, except when it comes to moms agitating for the right to breast-feed in public. Then he’s all about telling us what to do with our bodies and babies.
In a segment on “Real Time With Bill Maher” on Sept. 14, which inflamed lactivists the Web over, Maher ridiculed a recent nationwide nurse-in to object to Applebee’s treatment of a breast-feeding mom in Kentucky. (As we mentioned last week, you can catch some choice video of the Applebee’s nurse-in here. One highlight: adults brandishing bananas put blankets over their heads to demonstrate that infants might find it challenging to eat that way, too.)
Among Maher’s digs against the lactivists, he compares breast-feeding in public to masturbating in public: “Next thing, women will be wanting to give birth in the waterfall in the mall,” he jokes. He carps that these moms are just “too lazy” to plan ahead or cover up. And what do these mothers really want, according to Maher? To feed their hungry children and avoid crying fits in public, maybe? Nah, says Maher, what they really want is attention! Yep, what they really, really want is guys like Maher looking at their boobs.
But Maher knows one place where food and breasts mix: Hooters! Get it? Hooters. Yuk, yuk! A joke that really only proves the lactivists’ point that breasts are considered 100 percent socially acceptable when they’re intended to sexually titillate lascivious middle-aged men but “Ewww, gross” when they’re used to feed a kid.
I really would have been happy to make it through life without ever writing the words “Bill Maher” and “masturbating” in the same sentence, but as they say on Fox News: “We report. You decide.” Here’s the video; the nursing fuss comes at the end:
Broadsheet prediction: Forget Applebee’s. The next lactivist boobalicious action will take place outside the studios of “Real Time With Bill Maher,” uniting thousands of moms with babies at the breast, in a lactating throng not seen since Manila. Poor Bill Maher. To get to work, he’ll have to stumble by, covering his eyes with both hands to avoid possibly catching a glimpse of — horrors! — a nipple.
Better still, here’s a Broadsheet contest: The first daring lactivist who actually infiltrates the set of “Real Time With Bill Maher” and disrupts the show with a one-woman nurse-in wins my voice on the outgoing message of her home answering machine or voice-mail. I may be no Carl Kasell, but I can promise dulcet tones, too, and I’ll even throw in the lactivist nursing slogan of your choice; pick your favorite here.

Addendum:
Here’s the New Rules clip.

The (NP)Y’s and Wherefores of Stress and Obesity

When I find myself in times of trouble
Ben and Jerry’s comes to me
Snarfing Chunky Monkey so sweetly, so sweetly.

When stressed, some folks barely eat and consequently lose weight. Others, including myself, reach for high-fat-high-sugar (HFS) foods in an attempt to ameliorate the angst. Although the connection between stress and overeating is not fully understood, the evidence until recently focused on centrally acting (brain & spinal cord) mechanisms, e.g., hypothalamic control of food consumption and metabolism.
However, Lydia Kuo et al. (1) reported recently in Nature Medicine that stress-triggered release of neuropeptide Y (NPY) can stimulate angiogeneis (formation of new blood vessels) in the periphery, i.e., other places in the body than the brain and spinal cord. The researchers also demonstrated that NPY stimulates creation and differentiation of new fat cells (adipogenesis). NPY evidently binds to its receptor (or one of its receptors), NYP2R – a G-protein coupled receptor, and gets the big fat ball rolling.
More below the corpulent fold…

Continue reading “The (NP)Y’s and Wherefores of Stress and Obesity”

The (NP)Y’s and Wherefores of Stress and Obesity

When I find myself in times of trouble
Ben and Jerry’s comes to me
Snarfing Chunky Monkey so sweetly, so sweetly.

When stressed, some folks barely eat and consequently lose weight. Others, including myself, reach for high-fat-high-sugar (HFS) foods in an attempt to ameliorate the angst. Although the connection between stress and overeating is not fully understood, the evidence until recently focused on centrally acting (brain & spinal cord) mechanisms, e.g., hypothalamic control of food consumption and metabolism.
However, Lydia Kuo et al. (1) reported recently in Nature Medicine that stress-triggered release of neuropeptide Y (NPY) can stimulate angiogeneis (formation of new blood vessels) in the periphery, i.e., other places in the body than the brain and spinal cord. The researchers also demonstrated that NPY stimulates creation and differentiation of new fat cells (adipogenesis). NPY evidently binds to its receptor (or one of its receptors), NYP2R – a G-protein coupled receptor, and gets the big fat ball rolling.
More below the corpulent fold…

Continue reading “The (NP)Y’s and Wherefores of Stress and Obesity”

Cthulhu Fhtagn Peruvian Meteorite

Steinn (Dynamics of Cats) reports that Mars Invades Peru.
This must be smack-dab in the middle of physical-type scientists’ radar screen since my Rocket Scientist(tm) friend sent a similar blurb from Yahoo News.
I expect Scully and Mulder have been called in to investigate. Rocket Scientist(tm) mysteriously alluded to the Colour Out of Space in his e-mail, signing off with the baffling words:
Ph-nglui mglw’nath Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.
The Thing From Beyond the Stars is either a meteorite that released volatiles or a man-made object containing similar gaseous substances as Steinn rationally suggests. Rocket Scientist ™, who has experience in these matters, likewise remarked that a man-made object was a possibility. Now my friend is also usually quite measured, but on occasion, he claims that he is the reincarnation of Abdul Alhazred. So I’m worried. Maybe – just maybe – Cthulhu Fhtagn Cheezburger.
My hat’s off to Steinn for that masterful alliteration and to gwyn for directing me to the LOLTHULHU site.
—————–
Footnote:
Purchasing that collection of Lovecraft short stories the weekend before last wasn’t such a great idea. I blame Warren for spinning me off on a Lovecraftian trajectory
Note added in proof.
LOLTHULHU was previously cited on Pharyngula. I should have known.

No Gloopy Pirates Govoreeting Here, O My Droogs!

Once again, my brothers and sisters, it is that grazhny Talk Like a Pirate Day. What hound-and-horny chepooka is this, I ask you? That PZ chelloveck and other SciBling lewdies Corpus Callosum, Grrl Scientist, and Dr. Free-Ride guff away when they slooshy Pirate. I say “Yarbles!” to that. There should be a “Govoreet Like a Droog Day.” I think that would be real horrorshow.
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Nadsat Dictionary

Psychotropic Walls

Via Technovelgy – Where Science Meets Fiction, here’s an article on a wild display surface upon which small panels move with precision and “ripple,” creating strange, almost biologically protoplasmic motion:
HypoSurface Walls Are Full of Life.
Bill Christensen, the author of the Technovelgy article on HypoSurface notes that this technology is a close approximation of science fiction writer J.G. Ballard’s warped domiciles:

HypoSurface is a pretty good implementation of the plastex walls in J.G. Ballard’s psychotropic houses from his 1960’s Vermillion Sands stories:
It was a beautiful room all right, with opaque plastex walls and white fluo-glass ceiling, but something terrible had happened there. As it responded to me, the ceiling lifting slightly and the walls growing less opaque, reflecting my perspective-seeking eye, I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily. Deep hidden rifts began to distort the sphere, ballooning out one of the alcoves like a bubble of overextended gum.

Here’s a clip:


More examples may be found on the HypoSurface web site. This company is based in Cambridge MA. Perhaps its location explained why the surface of Spring Street was so pocked and wavy.

Hitchens’ Supreme Sense of Humor

I concede. As self-deprecatory as I can be, I am left in the dust, gasping and quivering, by the mighty Christopher Hitchens who aptly displays the gloriously superior sense of humor that is characteristic of the human male. I am humbled, Mr. Hitchens. My hat’s off to you.
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In the latest Vanity Fair, Hitchens writes about his experience at the spa of the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Santa Barbara, CA: On the Limits of Self-Improvement, Part I.
It’s an entertaining – and funny – article on the micro-economy of self-improvement. Be sure to check out the slide show!

Friday Flower Porn: Purple Gaping Maw

The deck plantings looked innocent enough. Trite flowers and greenery were stuffed into cheap plastic containers, crammed together like so many commuters in a suburban horticultural subway car. Those frilly purple dames though. If he could only get a closer gander at them. They were so coy. Were they as virtuous as they seemed? He buzzed in for a closer look.
Then it hit him. These were not chaste flowers. Not at all. These were turgid violet temptresses. He knew he was taking his chances. If he flew too close, he would be sucked into the gaping purple…gaaaah!
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I’m not sure of the genus & species of this plant, but close-up, it’s a little more exciting that at a distance.

We interrupt this program…

…to reassure the Kevin-o-philes and the Kevin-o-phobes, for that matter, that the raucous young bonobo will be back on the blog in the future. Exactly when that will be is to be determined at this point, but he will be back!
In the meantime, I am sure that Jim “I-am-the-god-of-drums-and-circuits-worship-me-you-fools” Fiore will continue to keep you entertained, e.g., the comments in response to Kevin’s A-kickin’ the Fannie (or a’dyin’ tryin’) post. As a last resort, I, The World’s Most Boring Woman&#0153, will offer my garbled, geriatric mutterings. You will note that I do no take on or seek out the same, um, clientele that Kev does. As a soft* atheist and a practicing scientist/manager of private industry, I direct my time and energy toward more immediate battles off the blog’s radar. That does not mean I do not harbor contempt for the troglodytes that Kevin so eagerly skewers.
*”soft” does not imply any wavering in my conviction, but rather that I know and respect plenty of the reasonable faithful, and that I prefer to avoid catching them in the crossfire when I rail against fundagelicals. I’m a more of a “can’t we all -or most of us – get along” atheist.