"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Invisibility Cloaks 

Malaria is a scary thing. The Plasmodium bacteria invade our red blood cells, and are able to 'cloak' themselves from immune detection by regularly changing their surface proteins (antigens). New research sheds light on how this cloaking occurs, offering not only a deeper understanding of malaria and of gene regulation in general, but also a glimmer of hope for new treatments of the disease. Do read the whole thing, as there's some cool stuff in there.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fat, Coughing, Douchebags 

New research suggests that high fat diets may contribute to Type 2 diabetes by interfering with the enzyme glycosyltransferase (GnT-4a), which helps the pancreas sense (and consequently regulate) blood sugar levels. This could be bad news for many people, particularly on the Atkins Diet and its various descendents, but also a hopeful prospect for future treatments.

The thing is, I don't buy it. If this was the whole story, or even, frankly, a large part of it, the US would not be so far ahead of places like France and Germany and Japan (where they like their fried foods with mayonnaise on top) in diabetes incidence. Yes, our ever-expanding national waistline and general unhealthiness help too, but still. This could just be a small factor.

While getting fatter and diabetic, Americans are also managing to get whooping cough. The disease (against which you ought to have been vaccinated) is resurging around the nation. Is this a new strain, unaffected by vaccine, or is it just that there are that many people who can't/dont get it?

Is there no good news? There is! Educational programs encourage girls to stop douching. No word yet on whether education can stop them from dating douchebags.

Dear Jesus Christ 

This is why I have a camera phone.

Seen in the mens room at the Brickskellar*.

*Please note that I do not wish my boss(es) any harm**.
**If I did, Jesus would not be involved. I'm Jewish, after all.

Geriatric Scum 

Swiss researchers have found a potent cholinesterase inhibitor in cyanobacteria - pond scum - that may be promising as an Alzheimers Disease treatment. Or, at least, that's how ACS is putting it. Other cholinesterase inhibitors are already on the market and used to treat AD, but they are not particularly effective, and I'm not clear why anyone would think a new one would be.

I'm sure there are other uses for this type of drug that I don't know. Also, it is encouraging that more useful things are discovered from various sources, as it may remind people how critical biodiversity remains.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


And you thought Starbucks couldn't get any more expensive: worldwide coffee shortage expected by 2007. I'd have withdrawal migranes already, but I don't actually believe that this will be allowed to occur.

Christmukkah 2: Inappropriate Combinations 

At my family's Christmukkah, my mom had little semi-explosive Hanukkah party favor things, that two people pulled apart to get a loud bang! and prizes. These were a big hit, but the prizes were a little bit...errr...inappropriate. Mine contained the following:

Yes, that's right. My Hanukkah party favor contained a paper crown, and. A. Christmas. Tree. Ornament. Somewhere a bubbie is having a heart attack.

Christmas Present: Sickle Cell Hope 

Sickle Cell Disease is a painful, often lethal, genetic disease affecting a significant portion of the population, particularly African and Indian Americans. The only real cure currently known is marrow transplantation, but that is extremely expensive and risky, even if you can find a donor match.

SCD sufferers got a nice Christmas present this year: researchers announced that they have successfully used gene therapy to correct sickle cell disease in cultured cells, suggesting that patients could grow their own transplant materials. The actual treatment is probably years down the road, but a little hope is a good thing.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmukkah Dinner 

Was very tasty. Had way too much food, wine, pecan pie.

The previous night for Christmukkah eve, we ate steak and drank:

Terra Andina Carmenère, 2004 (Chile):

A gorgeous, very powerful red full of tobacco, chocolate, and cedar with berry undertones.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Deep Throat 

A woman in Missouri knew that the best way to stop her boyfriend from fighting with her was to demonstrate her sexual prowess, making him so horny he couldn't talk. Unfortunately, she decided that the way to do this was to attempt to swallow her cell phone - the argument did stop, because he had to call an ambulance.

Unfortunately for the gene pool, they both survived.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Early Puberty, Harry Potter, and Osteoporosis 

The female of the species, particularly in the US, is under some stress of late. Girls are entering puberty earlier and earlier, data suggest, with the average menarche happening at 12.3 years in 1999-2002, versus 12.75 years in the 1960's. There are millions of (untested) hypotheses as to why this is - hormones in milk, PCBs, increased obesity levels, etc. - but the one thing that's clear is that earlier menarche is a risk factor for breast and uterine cancers later on.

While growing up, kids (of all genders) collect injuries, usually traumatizing their parents more than themselves. This means that parents spend lots of energy trying to minimize the risk of their kids getting hurt. It seems that encouraging them to jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon may achieve just that goal: on HP release weekends, significantly fewer kids were admitted to UK hospitals with traumatic injuries. This is a pretty odd study, full of confounds and assumptions and oddities - the most basic of which is, of course, why Harry Potter is any better than the Teen Titans, besides popularity. Still, it's nice to have yet another excuse to get kids to read.

As women age, injuries become more of a problem: bone density drops, leaving them more vulnerable to broken bones. Osteoporosis is more of a problem in white women, again for unknown reasons, but other women should be careful too. The main way to avoid the serious problems is to get plenty of calcium and vitamin D and exercise, but new research suggests that magnesium may also be critical: for every 100mg/day increase in magnesium, bone density increased 1%.

Many Americans don't get enough magnesium, but that's easily corrected by doing things you ought to do anyways. Eat lots of green veggies!

Sexy Dance 

Good dancers are hot; this everyone knows. A new study has been able to relate dancing ability to being an attractive mate in and of itself. They filmed kids dancing and, by measuring their movements, turned them in to animated stick figures, whose skill on the dancefloor were then rated by others. The skill levels were then related to physical attractiveness scores (such as body symmetry, which suggests developmental health). They found that better dancers also tended to have higher body symmetry.

Now, as cool as that is, there are so many potential confounds here. The biggest one that springs to my mind is how people learn to dance: it's entirely social. Ugly kids (i.e., those with asymmetrical bodies, perhaps) don't tend to get asked to dance, and may not learn to do it as well as the attractive ones. On the other hand, they may also try to compensate by practicing every day and getting really good. I'd love to read the whole article, and probably also to see a larger sample.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hot Hockey Player 

Sidney Crosby is sufficiently hot that I may forgive him for playing on the Penguins. If he begs me to, anyways. The thing is, of course, that pretty tends not to last in hockey players - even when they're as talented as Crosby. Oh well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Can Sweet Wormwood and Shitake Save the Day? 

Researchers are working on a way to use shitake mushroom's digestive enzyme, Xyn11A, work for the rest of us as a potential source of biofuel. If it means that more shitakes have to be grown and prices for the delicious little monsters go down, I'll be thrilled. Oh, yeah, that whole renewable energy bit is nice too.

More research has found that artemisinin, the extract of another Asian plant, sweet wormwood, seems to selectively kill cancer cells. It works by reacting with iron, which is more concentrated in fast-growing cancer cells, and causing a free-radical cascade that kills them. Amazingly, the substance does not seem to have any side effects - it's been in use for centuries as an anti-malarial agent.

I think that's pretty cool, and I like the name.

Stillsuits and Reason 

Well, it's incredibly heartening to learn that reason and non-evil can prevail: U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, a Republican appointed by President Bush, slammed the Dover Pennsylvania school board for mandating the sham that is 'Intelligent Design' be taught in science classrooms (pdf of decision...start at page 130 for the short version).

I would like to think that this decision would stem the tide of ID idiocy, but it probably will just lead to dubya looking to appoint only total nutjobs in the future. Also on dubya's agenda is, of course, the free use of all natural resources, which is why I'm glad the Army is beginning to prepare for the Arrakis of our future. They've developed a cooling vest for desert humvee drivers, not unlike an early prototype of the Fremen stillsuit. It'll take some more work to be that good, but it's still a neat-o idea.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Unwanted Babies 

A new study indicates that more babies are being born to mothers who didn't want to get pregnant. Some are crowing that this suggests that our culture has become 'more pro-life,' and others argue it's a testament to increased obstacles to abortion.

It is, as usual, all about nuance and spin. The data show that the proportion of 'unwanted' births is highest among African-American women and younger women - presumtively at the same time. There are many more laws now limiting access to abortions in the under-18 crowd than there were 10 years ago. But, African-Americans and Hispanics do tend to be less likely to have abortions, both for cultural and economic (again, access) reasons. So, the shift towards "more pro-life" may just be a shift in demographics. And, as the gap between haves and have-nots grows ever wider, the poor stop being able to afford contraception too.

At the end of the day, I'm a lot less concerned about the whys than I am about how these 'unwanted' kids get cared for after they get born.

Winter Treat(ment)s 

Agricultural researchers may have developed a technique that will deliver us mid-Atlantic dwellers fresh, local strawberries in mid-winter. I hope this works, because that sounds tasty!

And what goes best with strawberries? That's right - champagne! However, the killjoys at el WaPo warn us to drink less this Holiday SeasonTM for fear of consuming too many extra calories and gaining weight. Now, I don't know about you, but for me the stress of packing on a couple pounds is significantly less than the stress of dealing with my family without the protective barrier of a drink or sixteen. For each of us.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sarah's Song Meme 

Sarah did this on her blog, and I am meme-ing it. Copy and do your own.

1. First song you put on in the morning:
"Broder Kung" by Bertrand Burgalat

2. Last song you listen to before going to sleep:
"Lebanese Blonde" by Thievery Corp.

3. Song you can sing tolerably well:
"London Calling" by the Clash

4. Song you can't sing to save your life:
Anything that requires actual singing. Like, say, "Fever" by Peggy Lee

5. Song you'd sing if you could sing really well:
"Under Pressure" by Bowie and Queen

6. Best breakup song:
"Le coeur hypothéqué by April March

7. Best make up song:
"What a Fool Believes" by Self

8. Best song someone has ever put on a mixed tape for you:
"Papa Was a Rodeo" by the Magnetic Fields

9. Song you've always wanted someone to put on a mixed tape for you:
<> A song I've never heard before.

10. Best slow dance song:
"Come On" by Moloko

11. Best jump-up-and-down song:
"Maggie Mae" by the Pietasters

12. Best protest song:
"Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down" by the Toasters

13. Best hangover song:
"Daybreaker" by Beth Orton

14. Song that makes you homesick:
"Sympathique" by Pink Martini

15. Favorite Christmas song:
"Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" by Less Than Jake.

Prosthetic Foreskin 

John posted last week about circumcision's decline in popularity in American today. Well, if you're cut, and for whatever reason this bothers you, but not enough to spend thousands of dollars on probably-not-effective and definitely-risky cosmetic surgery, then I have the device for you.

The Senslip (possibly NSFW) is designed to, um, do whatever it is you feel you needed it for. Bear in mind that using this device may or may not reverse the reduction in STI risk circumcision grants.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A TomCat December 

A very good time was had by all! Thanks so much to our lovely hosts.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

My Type... 

I hate it when these things seem so accurate. Except for the Elijah Wood bit - ew, hobbits.

You're into the geeky guys. a.k.a~ the sweet,
sensitive, quiet and smart ones. This type can
be broken down further: he's either perfect, or a serial killer...*

What's Your Type?

*That pretty well sums up most everyone I've ever dated. Hmph.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Playing Hooky 

I didn't go to work today; I had other things to do. I want to go play outside, but I can't, so this old photo will have to suffice. Meet Sofia, and her mom, Monica:

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Blood for Oil. 

NM, we have found irony, and it is not a pretty sight.


Drink More Green Tea 

A new (very small) study suggests that green tea extract containing epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) may help chronic leukemia patients. The study is a follow-up on in vitro findings in 2004 where the same group found that EGCG kills leukemia cells by interrupting survival signaling.

The n of four is so small as to be nearly meaningless, but it offers a small hope and will hopefully inspire a larger, longer-term trial, leading to good results.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Cocaine and Glutamate 

New research suggests that N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a common (and over-the-counter) cystic fibrosis treatment, may be an effective treatment for cocaine withdrawal. Cocaine interferes with glutamate antiporters, reducing the amount of extracellular glutamate in the brain, which seems to be at the root of withdrawal symptoms. NAC raises these levels, and prevents symptoms.

The release does not note that the antiporter blockage must also alter (raise, I presume) intracellular glutamate levels - which must have some effect. I wonder what?

Glutamate is the most common neurotransmitter in the brain, and is implicated not only in drug addiction and withdrawal, but also in alcoholism, schizophrenia, and depression. These findings could have major implications on all of those conditions.

Cut The Mullet 

I have to express my now undying love for Pandora. It just played, on my list based on the music of April March, BT, Joy Division, and St. Etienne, Wesley Willis' "Cut The Mullet." I am back in sophomore year, and loving it!

Herbal Derivatives 

It's always good to see new treatments for things I tend to get. A recent trial of an extract of Pelargonium sidoides, the South African geranium, indicates its effectiveness against bronchitis. I get bronchitis at least twice a year, so something besides the marginally effective antibiotics would be nice.

Another study has found that URB597, which blocks degradation of endocannabinoids, may be a safe and effective depression and pain treatment. I'm a bit confused about the side effect profiles, though. I mean, wouldn't people taking it for depression get the painkiller effects too, and be a bit numb?

Also, Harvard researchers have discovered that the norwhal's signature tusk is actually more like an antenna - a finely tunes sensory organ, unlike anything they had expected or ever seen anywhere else. Which I think is pretty cool.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Duh of the Day: Limit Stress for Better Health 

As far as the Washington Post seems to be able to tell, the MacArthur Foundation gave Robert Sapolsky one of its Genius grants to discover that being rich and popular and well-adjusted makes it easier to deal with stress.

I presume that what he's done is take that obvious conclusion and look at the endocrine and immunological reasons behind it - like how prolactin and adrenaline, for instance, can modulate immune response - but the article only hints at this. It mainly proclaims stress-induced doom for those prone to anxiety and/or without strong social support systems, and suggests meditation and "taking stock of things" in passing as ways to help deal. If I was interviewing a prominent expert in the field, I would ask him to suggest a few specifics on how to deal while I was at it. Just saying 'meditation helps' is not useful, since most people don't likely have any idea what that actually means.

Chlamydia and Fat 

The Chlamydia bacteria seems to use lipid droplets in host cells not only to reproduce, but also to 'hide' themselves from immune detection. This is a pretty cool trick for a bacteria, and is something researchers hadn't seen before, so it's cool. It offers the potential of new treatments.

Also, it could explain (in a retrospective, illogical and completely sarcastic way) why the slutty boys at Cobalt are all so damn skinny: they're trying to avoid Chlamydia!

Monday, December 12, 2005

This Is Where I Grew Up 

Taken circa 1996, using IR film, from my parents' driveway.

Dining for the Worst 

As if children of ... uhm ... underskilled ... parents weren't enough of a nuisance in restaurants and other public places, Disney is fixing to make them even worse, by replacing Happy Meal toys with digital media players that allow downloads of things for the kids to watch/listen to (presumably at audible volume) while in the restaurant. Because sitting and interacting with others at the table - including the parents who bought the food - is so 1920th century.

Miss Manners surrenders.

All About Balance 

Nutritional experts are getting noisier about something that they (and I) have been saying for years: being healthy is all about balance. Eating a variety of foods (the mix should skew towards the healthy, which is different for everyone), doing a variety of exercises, drinking a variety of vodkas.

The latest 'superfood' - Low! In! Fat! - High! In! Antioxidants! - is probably not bad for you, but also isn't going to make you healthier than if you just ate a normal diet; it's all marketing.

100th Anniversary Concert 

My synagogue, Washington Hebrew Congregation, puts on a periodic concert series. Last night, in celebration of the congregation Sisterhood's 100th anniversary, they had Itzhak Perlman perform, so of course I had to go. I was busy listening, so I didn't take many notes, but here were my impressions.

Note: there was no program - he just announced what he was going to play as he went along - so I'm not entirely sure the names I heard were actually what he played.

He began with a sonata in four movements, composed by Gabriel Fauré. The first and fourth movements were pretty, but I must admit they didn't grab me. The second movement, andante, is gorgeous, with lingering notes and all kinds of detail. The third, allegro, is playful and sweet, with played with real flourish. Perlman seemed to enjoy these two most, which may be why I did too.

Next, he played "3 American Pieces," by Lukas Foss, a fun series laced with Americana and folk sounds.

He then played one of his signature pieces, the theme from Schindler's List. Now, this is a beautiful piece to begin with, and Perlman played with a such passion that it shined immensely.

For his encore, Perlman played three pieces by Fritz Kreisler - Liebesfreud, Glouck(?), and Tambuichi-wa(?), each of which was warm and delicious.

Perlman is a fantastic performer. Aside from his gorgeous playing, he is clearly having fun, and his little jokes between pieces added immensely to the show.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Digging My Way to China... 

....From Argentina. That seems to be the only dry-land spot from whence you could dig your way to China. Trying to dig your way out of anywhere in the continental U.S. will bring you up in the middle of the Indian Ocean, but should you attempt your escape from Kona, HI, you'll pop up in Botswana. Not sure why you'd do that, though.

(via Making Light)


Last night at St. Ex with NM and Kyle, we witnessed a tragedy: the ensemble sported by a member of the nearby loud, obnoxious, prepster-trash (the group's leader, a guy whose appearance and voice just screamed 'douchebag,' especially after he loudly announced that he was going to tip the bartender $1, due to some slight that seemed to involve waiting more than 15 seconds at the packed bar.) party standing next to us.

She was wearing a pouffy dress that looked like something Kelly Osborne might wear to a Halloween party as an Elvyra clone, with an amazing hefty fur shawl over it, which she kept flaunting and making sure everyone kept on noticing*. This is what I get for forgetting to bring my camera.

Anywhom. Technology now has an answer to your fugly-shawl woes: an electronic scarf that senses your outfit and changes colour to match! What could possibly go wrong?

* Not that I would do differently, if I was wearing a dead polyester weasel on my shoulders, but still.

Stick it in Your Mouth 

A recent study indicates that babies who sleep with a pacifier may be less likely to die in their sleep. It's a retrospective study - mothers were asked about their kids' last night of sleep - which makes me wonder about the response bias: moms of dead babies might be nervous about saying the 'wrong thing,' and there may be a bias against pacifier use. Or for it, I don't know.

After not dying as an infant, kids are bombarded with advertisements enticing them to eat junk food. The Kellogg Company has announced that it will begin making its food 'healthier' by replacing trans-fats with low linolenic soybean oil. This is, of course, just more marketing to parents. Parents, that is, who think that they are health-conscious, but really have no idea what they're talking about. Less trans fat is nice, but if you're really that concerned, give them an apple instead.

The thing is, while apples are fine, they don't have Tony the Tiger pimping them to kids every day during SpongeBob, and kids are still gonna want Frosted Flakes. And Pop-tarts. Et cetera. So, they need to burn those extra calories, so they don't get fat. The thing is, that doesn't seem to be the motivator that it is for teenagers and adults: a new study indicates that kids exercise for fun, plain and simple. Me too...if only the gym was as much fun as freeze-tag!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


More evidence that pot is a source of good medicine: a 12-month study found small but significant reductions in muscle spacicity of MS patients treated with extracted {Delta}9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active compound in marijuana.

Puppyblogging, Science Edition 

Today's issue of Nature brings the first complete sequencing of the dog (Canis familiaris) genome. Dogs are not only cute and cuddly, but share many genetic similarities to humans and, more interestingly, are a great example of within-species diversity.

Boxers, Chihuahuas and Malamutes are very different characters, but they are the same species. You could, theoretically (or by artificial insemination) interbreed them to get ... a horror. Genome analysis can help us understand how they can be so different without speciating. That's pretty cool.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Leaves are Tasty

I have nothing interesting to say today, so here.

This is Winston. He was heard to bark for the first time last night (we've had him since July). He likes to eat leaves and newspapers, but is mostly unimpressed by actual food. He is very cute.

Big Head, Little Head 

The joke stereotype saying goes that men can only think with one head at a time. It seems that, for male bats anyways, this may be intrinsically true: big brained bats have smaller testes and big balled bats have smaller brains. The proposed reasoning is that since both brains and balls take lots of energy to grow, evolution reacted to whether the females of a given species are monogamous or not, thus determining whether higher sperm production or better ... conversational skills ... would increase the male's reproductive success. I find this bloody hilarious.

In humans, however, big headed babies seem to be at increased risk for brain cancer. No word on how they will fill out their jockstraps later on. Also on the human side, the IOM has stated, to the shock of no one who has any brains at all, that the food industry is using TV ads to convince kids to overeat, and that TV watching is associated with obesity. Duuuuhhh.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Generic Non-Denominational Holiday Kickoff 

I don't have or want a Virgin Mobile account, but this is fabulous. The first bit, 'Hindu Santa' is kinda weak, but 'The Jews' is fabulous.

Happy (merry?) Chrismahanukwanzakah!

(lifted from Ryan + Marisa)

Blazing Onions 

Yesterday night I decided to be uncharacteristically organized, and prepare my lunch salad fixings ahead of time, so I could sleep a bit longer this week. Washing spinach and chopping broccoli, carrots, and celery went as usual, but then came time to chop the big pretty red onion. Chopping onions is not usually a problem for me...until now. By the time I'd cut it in eighths, my eyes were watering and my nose burning. I began chopping.

When it was nicely diced, I put it in a glass tub and sealed the lid on top, crying like an infant. I washed my hands, knife, and cutting board with hot soapy water, but noticed as I returned to my desk that I still reeked of onion, and my entire respiratory tract was still burning.

This morning, I opened the tub, and the aroma it released was overwhelming. I added just a few bits to my salad - maybe a half cup's worth - and went on my way.

I finished my salad 5 minutes or so ago, and can still feel the onion burning in my throat. I love onions. Good thing I don't have a date tonight!

Mystery Mammal! 

The WWF (the World Wildlife Fund, not the World Wrestling Federation) may or may not have discovered a new species of mammal in Borneo. It looks like a lemur to me, but apparently it's something entirely new. But is it tasty?

Also of note, yet another bit of research indicates that industrial additive bisphenol A (BPA) is bad for you. The compound seems to disrupt estrogen's activities and harm brain development. Does this explain why kids keep getting stupider?

Monday, December 05, 2005


The Washington Post has a story today about Baltimore's current efforts at 'branding' itself, to attract conventions and tourist dollars. It's interesting, I guess, but misses the point of what people are saying entirely and fails to have a point of its own as well.

The author doesn't seem to have taken the time to actually talk to anyone - he just has these 'self-deprecating' one-liners from people, and they come off as fatalistic and dreary. Which I doubt they really are. I mean, there's no real reason for retirees who've just sold their houses at massive profit to care if Baltimore is the 'greatest city in America.' It's home, they like it, and hey, now there's some extra cash involved.

I think it's interesting to me how everything is a marketing campaign, to such a degree that anyone not immediately drawn in is looked upon as quaint or cynical. Because that's what you're calling them when you title an article "The City of Self-Deprecation." And really, did anyone else notice that the article has no conclusion at all*?

* Your metal's all black,
said the pot to the kettle,
with polish we'll shine.

Irish Coffees All Around! 

Today brings more evidence that the Irish coffee (or, as is my preference, the Jamaican coffee) may be the perfect drink. The results of an almost 10,000 participant, 19-year US study indicate that people who drink a good amount of caffeine - more than two cups of coffee or tea a day - had nearly half the risk of developing chronic liver disease.

Another thing that's good for your liver is not being obese, and new research suggests that drinking one or two drinks per day can reduce the risk of that too! This study is just correlational, but it's a correlation I like, so there you go.

Now, maybe these articles will convince my boss to lift the ban on putting rum in my morning coffee at the office?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Metro Opens Doors 

But not...very...often...

Friday, December 02, 2005


Via Dave Barry, we learn about someone who may in fact be the best con-man ever. Kyle MacDonald started with a red paper clip. Seven trades later, he is the (pending) owner of a Quebecios celebrity's snowmobile. So, essentially, he traded a red paper clip for a snowmobile.

Just like everyone else, I say: I have many paperclips, and even some paper. Give me a new computer.


Via BoingBoing, uploaded by Sockeyed.

Any heterosexual English speaking men might be doomed upon reading this sign, which seems to suggest that there is an empress in need of rescue at the bottom of the sea.

Wine and Wig 

For all three of those who might care, the following is why I was so dead tired yesterday.

Jim probably would hate to know that this picture really makes him kind of look like if the BBC had made Zaphod gay in the H2G2 miniseries. But it does.

It was pointed out at the time that Joe + Wig = Kurt + Courtney, and that light fixtures make fun toys.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Awkward Holiday Dinner Conversations 

You thought you were safe. This Thanksgiving, you managed to avoid talking about your lack of a girlfriend and your failure to go to medical school, you distracted your disapproving grandmother long enough for your sister to cover her low-cut top with a shawl, you even successfully steered the discussion away from the report your great aunt saw last night about teenagers and oral sex. You suffered through a six hour argumentlively discussion about local politics and how Big Bill Thompson at least kept things in order.

So, you figure, that's one family dinner down, if you can just get through Christmukkah, you're in the clear. You may have even plotted a safe conversation starter, and what could be safer than economics? Well, be warned: Cyprus has started using condoms and Viagra sales to measure inflation. If you feel comfortable explaining that to your grandmother, particularly when she is at close range and holding poultry shears, you come from a very different family than mine.

Not All Bad 

I'm a mess this morning. Last night I hit send on my first grad school application (Berkeley), and went out with a couple of friends to celebrate. Pics will be forthcoming, once my brain reconstitutes itself and I can connect my camera to a computer.

Things are looking up, however, thanks to my B.F.F., coffee. Apparently, and despite the contrary evidence of every scientist I know, science was not aware that coffee wakes you up. A new study's preliminary results suggest that the drink may in fact help wake you up and jump-start short-term memory. I may need more jump-starting before I think this is particularly exciting, but it's still kinda cool.

Yesterday, we were warned about the bad effects of too much acetaminophen. Today, a study indicates that regular doses of the pain killer may help dementia patients be more active. In that the effect seems due to the drug's pain killing effect - many elderly patients suffer from chronic, low-grade pain, which makes them avoid activity - I suspect that, say, ibuprophen or aspirin might have the same effects (doctors can pick which drug's side effects are most acceptable, etc.).

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