Octopus eats shark

The Lancelet: Octopus eats shark

I've never felt affinity with sharks before now. We vertebrates have got to stick together!

(again via Circus of the Spineless)

Stranger Than Fiction

Robot moved by a slime mould's fears

via Circus of the Spineless #6

The Debt-for-Diploma Crunch

Someone's finally writing about how starting their worklives with $20,000 in debt really screws with young people. The Debt-for-Diploma Crunch


21 Ports, not 6.

United Press International:
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A United Arab Emirates government-owned company is
poised to take over port terminal operations in 21 American ports, far more than
the six widely reported.

Via Daily Kos.


Growling at South Dakota

You know, I've had it with Planned Parenthood. The state next door criminalized abortion today (well, almost—there's the formality of a signature from the governor) and PP has said nothing. This from the organization that sends me a solicitation of funds every time a congressman scratches his nose.

I'm really mad at the South Dakota bill. My mental processes have been odd—it was somehow necessary to analyze the religious and cultural tendencies of South Dakotans as a step toward digesting this bit of news. I came up emptyhanded. My contact with South Dakotans has revealed them to be about the same as other folk from the prairie/plains. Average Joe is semi-educated, vaguely christian, and has never been outside of his home state except on vacation to Colorado. I imagine that, just like where I live, for every hundred Joes and Joannes there are a few bible-thumpers, some doe-eyed homeschool moms, a whole bunch of teenagers thinking about sex, a few college professors, aging hippies, and grandmas who used to be nurses and know just what illegal abortion looks like.

About that last bit: it should've had a link, but I think informed consent is necessary in this case. A link to the horrific and sad photograph of Gerri Santoro's body, abandoned in a motel room in 1964; A link to my state senator's homepage (a pro-choice ex-nurse grandma). Every time I see a graphic pro-life billboard (and there are lots around here) I think of Gerri Santoro and think Never Again.

I'm angry to the point of incoherence. I was watching this afternoon for PZ to weigh in from his homebase fifty miles from South Dakota, and he did, declaring the "Eastern Repressive State of South Dakota." I'm incredibly grateful to Twisty for fighting the good fight, every day. Also, Digby had good stuff this week about innocence and punishment.

Oh, and I was ranting about Planned Parenthood. I think they're losing ground. They are in denial about the changes taking place in the way that people relate to fetuses in the US. An ultrasound at 18-20 weeks has become standard prenatal care; parents see fingers and toes and faces, and the distinction between potential baby and actual baby fades. Take-home images are shared with friends and family, who coo appreciatively.

The sonogram snapshots from my sister-in-law's pregnancy last year prompted my dad (who is a little left of center) to tell me his support for choice was getting shaken to the roots by the images he sees on Nova and the Discovery Channell shows about developmental biology. I'm sure he's not alone. The right is preying on this cultural change and the left is ignoring it, which may prove to be perilous for choice.

About the UAE deal -

Tara Smith (Aetiology) hits the nail on the head: "I find it highly, highly ironic that an administration who's spent so much time telling us how *not* safe we are (wasn't electing Kerry going to bring on another terrorist attack?) are now reassuring us that there's nothing to worry about."

From Daily Kos

Daily Kos: I Didn't Have an Abortion Yesterday
But I had the same medical procedure--a D&C, or "Dilation and Curettage," that is often used to perform an abortion. . . .

Here's what I didn't have to do: Take a mandatory pregnancy test. Drive an incredible distance from my home. Get signed consent from my husband. Receive mandatory counseling that showed me various pictures of my uterus. Pass through protestors. Get any kind of "looks" or negative feedback from passersby, staff, or fellow patients. Be subjected to any kind of patronizing comments or derogatory remarks. Have to tolerate any kind of pain or nausea because all I could receive was local anesthetic. Have my "choice" of surgery questioned, and questioned again.
mrsdbrown1's diary on Daily Kos

Norville examines his feet

Norville examines his feet
Originally uploaded by BigFatRat.

"Norville reminds me of a living rat in this picture. Rats are always examining their toes. They probably use them for arithmetic."

Socar is my hero!

Norville, I read, was purchased on eBay. Er, what category is that? Dessicated mammals? Rogue Taximermy/other?


Winged Police

Banksy "police"
Originally uploaded by akira_kev.

Winged Policemen, as promised

You can see more of the installation here.

More Banksy: Rats

banksy 007
Originally uploaded by sean-b.

Never mind me, I just have a thing for rats. And for making fun of "you're not on the list" red carpet situations.

Unfortunate Animal of the Month Club

unfortunate animal of the month

This is the kind of handicraft I can really get excited about.

And speaking of mutant bunnies, have you seen this guy?
twenty pound rabbit (courtesy of BBC Kids)

He's been saved by fame, just like Wilbur the Pig.

Banksy on the West Bank

Originally uploaded by Patient Boy.

Banksy the London graffiti master went to Palestine last summer and beautified the big ugly frustrating bifurcating concrete wall, a little bit. You can browse the rest of his Palestine project here.

If you click on the "indoor" tab you get to see an installation of nice winged policemen. I misremembered. I'll look for the winged policemen installation on my next studybreak; it must be somewhere in the Flickr Banksy Pool.


I will be thirty in seven days.

And it won't be February any more. I hate February.

Maybe I'll get less grumpy once I'm past the gd milestone. Certainly exing out February will help.

More for the "who cares?" file: I went to the DMV this morning and got my new plates seven days early so I don't have to go on my birthday like last year (and the year before, and the year before that). Guess I'm learning a little as I go.



Discovering Tim Krieger's comics has made my mind a better place to live this week. Please understand that I'm a bit twisted from reading lots and lots of Gahan Wilson and Hunter S. Thomson when I was thirteen, and I never know if we will find laughs in the same places, and then go look! You might belly-laugh!

Website archives aren't good for depressives like me looking for ways to avoid their to do lists. Guess what I did this week? That's right, I read four years worth of comics. I am a champion among time wasters.

From October 2001:

I'm a little hesitant to reprint a picture that contains the word "Fagistan" so here's the disclaimer: I am not and have never been anti-gay. The comics artist that coined this stupid, stupid term isn't anti-gay either, to the best of my knowlege, but seems to get a thrill from being mild to moderately offensive anytime it's funny. And note, the offensiveness is spread around: Tackystan, anyone? Blandistan?



C.O.M.B.A.T.4CHRIST.com: "Weapons Course: This course challenges the Christian Soldier to engage and eliminate his greatest enemies."

via Brian Flemming

God is for Suckers! � Bad God!

God is for Suckers! � Bad God!: "God goes back in time, and keeps himself from inventing limbo?"


Alabama wants Georgia's creationists

Alabama wants Georgia's creationists
Originally uploaded by cpurrin1.

I wonder if any of my Alabama cousins are creationists.

Iowa had an anti-brain drain campaign five or six years ago. They sent me (and presumably all Grinnell College Alumni living out of state) a nice letter and a brochure explaining what a wonderful place Iowa is to live, and what the state government is doing to encourage high tech industry into the state (including doing a mailing to educated people connected to the state). Made me feel all warm and fuzzy to be addressed as a brain.



An article on toxoplasmosis and mental health


For years I've had a creeping suspicion about a toxoplasmosis/mood disorder connection and I can't remember where I got the idea from. Here's a medline abstract, I'm glad other folks are pursuing the theory.

Lost Robert Hooke papers found

For all you Neal Stephenson fans: Eureka!

(If you haven't read Quicksilver yet, what are you waiting for?)

(With apologies to those who have studied the history of science directly, without assistance from fantasy authors).



Ken Ham teaches first graders how to argue with their teachers about science (seeing as how Genesis is true to the letter). Guess what? He doesn't like "Evolution Sunday." Their Own Version of a Big Bang - Los Angeles Times: "When pastors dismiss the creation account as a fable, he says, they give their flock license to disregard the Bible's moral teachings as well."

Oh good.


A calm response to the Muhammad cartoons

From Omar Sacirbey of the Religion News Service
Clearly, those Muslims who threatened the cartoonists with murder, and those who set fire to embassies, have betrayed these injunctions and abandoned the prophet's example.

To me, that is a greater insult to the prophet they claim to follow than a few offensive drawings, especially as people who know little of the prophet's true character and history attribute their violence to him.

I found this in the Jackson Sun, Jackson, TN via google news.
The feed's own page is here, probably it's only viewable for a week.


Lawrence in Damascus, George in Bagdad

Cool thinking in today's Guardian.

almost speechless

Well, isn't this just the stupidest thing I've seen this year? The Treadmill Bike

(thanks Shameless!)


Neil Gaiman is

Neil Gaiman is (least of all, but truly) heir to O.Henry. This poem made me smile.

Today's word is


How can it be? I am 29 and a voracious reader, and I am still discovering English words that are entirely new to me.

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iran and Syria 'incited violence'

BBC NEWS | World : ". . . one of the clerics, Ahmed Akari, told the BBC the imams carried three extra caricatures of Muhammad that were far more inflammatory than the original 12, and were believed to have been drawn by extremists as part of a hatemail campaign."


It's worse than I imagined. Details here.


Finally, analysis I can read without screaming

Digby quotes: "why has the derogatory term 'pander' been pinned on politicians who respond to public opinion?" and discusses why dem senators are weenies (Digby is more appropriate than me).

(From Making Light)

"How to use two mobile phones to cook an egg"

Er, Wymsey Weekend: A Guide to Mobile Cooking. From Schmutzie.


Angry angry public health angry

Twisty wrote yesterday about the goddamned HPV vaccine controversy. I thought about it today and read up a bit and now I'm boiling about the stupidity of the situation.

Right now HPV is endemic -- about three-quarters of US adults have been exposed to it. 95% of cases of cervical cancer are linked to the virus. It would be a really good thing if all the people with cervixes could get a vaccine and have antibodies on hand to fight off the infection quickly and not give it a chance to linger and make their cervical cells go all weird. Lo! We have a vaccine ready to go and this should be so simple.

But. The morality police are squawking and going all hysterical on the opinion page saying if we vaccinate girls, they will have free license to be sexual and will grow up to be harlots. Trust me, I'm screaming inside that a breakthrough in basic health is being held up by madonna/whore thinking.

Hopefully we will get a paradigm shift soon and the bible-thumping fetus worshippers will go back to the fringe where they belong, allowing us to take a rational approach to public health. Hopefully.

But just in case, I wonder if a program of boy-only vaccination would make a dent in the rate of infection. HPV infection can linger for years; if all the males had antibodies, a male who picked it up would have hours or days instead of years to transmit it to somebody else. That would make some significant difference in a population, right? Nobody would squawk about the purity of teenaged girls because they wouldn't be directly involved. And nobody would squawk about the purity of teenaged boys because, hey, nobody ever has.

It would be a frustrating half-measure but it might be a whole lot better than nothing. Thoughts?


You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll feel relieved because you're not be on a blind date with Godly Josh. (via I Blame The Patriarchy)

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