Genes and 'Race'

"The mutation that deprives zebra fish of their stripes blocks the creation of a protein whose job is to move charged atoms across cell membranes, an obscure process that is crucial to the accumulation of melanin inside cells.

Humans of European descent, Cheng's team found, bear a slightly different mutation that hobbles the same protein with similar effect. The defect does not affect melanin deposition in other parts of the body, including the hair and eyes, whose tints are under the control of other genes.A few genes have previously been associated with human pigment disorders -- most notably those that, when mutated, lead to albinism, an extreme form of pigment loss. But the newly found glitch is the first found to play a role in the formation of "normal" white skin. The Penn State team calculates that the gene, known as slc24a5, is responsible for about one-third of the pigment loss that made black skin white. A few other as-yet-unidentified mutated genes apparently account for the rest."

It looks like our conceptions of 'race' are very much 'skin deep', as a single corrupted gene leads to the divergence from black skin to white.

Nor does this sound like it will provide racists with much in the way of ammunition. A defective gene for melanin production isn't exactly a rallying cry for racial supremacy.


Genes and Sex

You know how Billy Crystal said in 'When Harry Met Sally' that men and women can't be friends because the sex thing always gets in the way"?

It turns out that the differences between men and women at a genetic level go way, way, way back in our genetic heritage.

One of the more interesting things being researched is how and why genetic diseases are carried onwards. Often the disease seems to offer some protection or other benefit outside of the damage it brings (see: how sickle cell anemia offers protection against Malaria).

Schizophrenia may well turn out to be an example. But what possible reproductive benefit could Schizophrenia bring? It may be as simple as sexiness.

And speaking of sexy, turns out that the male brain really does respond differently to a pretty face.

Tell me something I didn't know!

Cthullu Carols!

Just in time for the holiday season!

Great Old Ones Are Coming to Town

You'd better watch out; you better go hide.
And Elder Sign's needed for this Yuletide
Great Old Ones are comin to town, and shaking it twice.
They're going to hit you, naughty or nice.
Great Old Ones are coming to town.
They're bringing ugly Shuggoths,
And horrid Deep Ones too,
Shub Niggurath is waking up
And so is Cthulhu
So you better watch out, you'd better go 'way,
Before the big guy comes up from R'lyeh.
Great Old Ones are coming to town.


What is your Cyborg designation?

Damn I wish I had this back in the day of 'Champions'!!


5 Questions!

I lifted these from my 2nd favourite podcast, 'Skepticality' (ABC's 'Background Briefing' is my runaway favourite). My own answers are in the comments section.

1. What is your favourite Urban Legend or myth?

2. Does Daylight Savings Time actually save anything?

3. What is the worst revisionist history?

4. If you could know the true truth about any one thing, what would it be?

5. What is the most important thing to teach our children?


How coffee affects your memory

"Caffeine is known to influence adenosine receptors which are found throughout the brain on nerve cells and blood vessels. It is thought that the drug inhibits these receptors and that this excites the nerve cells in the brain. “This may be the mechanism involved,” suggests Koppelst├Ątter"


Happy Holidays!

Project Pterosaur!

Much hilarity to be found at this link!

This ministry is raising money, so they can go to Africa and catch living Pterosaurs!

Now even a relatively slow witted ten year old might point out that 'Dionsaurs are all dead', and that looking for them in Africa would be, well, stupid.

No sireee, to to these people!! Living Pterosaurs would be PROOF that man and dinosaurs lived at the same time - and thus proof that evolution is just propaganda. Or at least, that is how their logic works.

I heartily reccomend that you check out the 'Apatosaur' links - it seems they had a previous expedition and brought back scientific proof that the Apatosaur still roams the earth.

All of this hilarity is brought to us by Dr. Richard Paley, a teacher of Divinity and Theobiology at Fellowship College.

Lastly, how can you not love the proposed aviary - complete with day glow crucifix at the top! Sweet.


Sesquipidalian Obscurantism

If you can't beat them with brilliance, baffle them with a hyperstream of post-linguistic constructs sententially arranged so as to metaphorically and allegorically mimic the gastrointestinal effluvia of a bovine quadraped.

And you can quote me on that one.


Hitchens vs Falwell Stooge on Fox : The War on Christmas!

The link is in the title above (via Crooks and Lias) It really has to be read to be believed.

And I still don't believe it.

At the end of it all, is the absolute money shot:

"HITCHENS: This guy from Lynchburg (Falwell) defines progress as teaching junk science to our children, and leaving us the mockery of the world by pretending that we did not evolve.


SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second.

We are not going to debate intelligent—we are not going to debate intelligent design right here, but, Christopher...

HITCHENS: That's progress to him. And he's a front man—and he's a front man—and he's a front man—and he's a front man for the fat-faced reverend...

SCARBOROUGH: OK, Christopher. Hold on.


STAVER: Joe, I think Christopher is really...

HITCHENS: ... who applauded the destruction of the World Trade Center.

SCARBOROUGH: OK. OK. You know what? You know what?

HITCHENS: Front man Falwell.

SCARBOROUGH: We—this, unfortunately, is—is now moving into intelligent design.

HITCHENS: Falwell said the World Trade Center was brought down by God.

SCARBOROUGH: I want to thank you for being with us, Christopher.

STAVER: Joe, I think Christopher has actually made my point.


SCARBOROUGH: Mat, thank you.

Guys, that's going to have—that's going to have to be it tonight.

Thank both of you for being with us.

HITCHENS: Jerry Falwell...


SCARBOROUGH: Hopefully, we can have this discussion in the future, and we will actually be able to have people on that speak like adults and allow each person to talk one at a time.

I mean, after all, friends, isn't that how adults talk? I don't understand it. I mean, if you have got the facts on your side, then why don't you talk, allow the other person to speak, and be courteous? Why does it have to be this way?

And why is it that a discussion on faith, on something that is very, very important to tens of millions of Americans out there, why does it always seem to degenerate like this? We can talk about—I mean, we ought to be able to talk about this like adults, instead of having this rudeness, which, I got to tell you, I mean, my mom didn't raise me that way. My dad didn't raise me that way.

I can't understand people who behave that way. But I am very sorry it happened tonight. And it doesn't usually happen in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

When I first started this show, it happened once in a while. I didn't control things as well as I should have. And I apologize to you for that. But it's just not going to happen on my show tonight. It's not going to happen in the future. And I'm sorry for what you just saw.

Coming up next, her crimes are going to make your blood run cold, and now she is out of jail. And could she be coming to America? Well, if she wants to, she can. A judge's stunning legal loophole that sparks outrage, tonight, we will tell you about it. "

AR: People were SHOUTING on the FOX Network?!?!? Not allowing each other TIME TO TALK?! Beyond hilarious. How he looks at himself in the morning after that cap speech, and doesn't think he deserves an Oscar, I don't know.

Hitch is his usual surly self, but I mean c'mon, you have an Iraq war Liberal Hawk with a propensity for drunken rants on the show and you engage him in a dialogue on the war on...X-Mas?

I suspect Hitch only agreed so that he could throw the live hand grenades.

Family Cthullu


Blizzard hits Vancouver

Day 2 - Vancouver Blizzard 2005 - Revenge of the Commuters

Chilled Vancouver commuters faced their second day of winter hell today, as an additional ¼ centimeter of the peculiar white stuff fell, bringing the lower mainland to its knees and causing millions of dollars worth of damage to the marijuana crops. Scientists suspect that the substance is some form of frozen water particles and experts from Saskatchewan are being flown in. With temperatures dipping to the almost but not quite near zero mark, Vancouverites were warned to double insulate their lattes before venturing out.

Vancouver police recommended that people stay inside except for emergencies, such as running out of espresso or biscotti to see them through Vancouver's most terrible storm to date.

The local Canadian Tire reported that they had completely sold out of fur-lined sandals.

Drivers were cautioned to put their convertible tops up, and several have been shocked to learn that their SUV's actually have four wheel drive, although most have no idea how to use it.
Weary commuters faced soggy sushi, and the threat of frozen breast implants. Although Dr. John Blatherwick, of the Coastal Health Authority reassured everyone that most breast implants were perfectly safe to 25 below, down-filled bras are flying off the shelves at Mountain Equipment Co-op. "The government has to do something," snarled an angry Trevor Warburton. "I didn't pay $540,000 for my one bedroom condo so I could sit around and be treated like someone from Toronto."

AR: I don't know who composed this parody, but the fact is it is right on target. We had a dusting of snow the last two days and the reaction from residents here was akin to a 'Katrina' level disaster. Geez. Calgary would get a worse dump in APRIL!

But this is Lotusland.


Somewhere Denis Leary is on a Suicide Watch - Joe Thornton has been traded

---> SJ: Joe Thornton-C

---> Bos: Brad Stuart-D, Marco Sturm-L, Wayne Primeau-C

My verdict: Ridiculous.

29 NHL Gms heard that news and exclaimed one giant 'WTF?' - it is as lopsided a deal as I can remember, and the fact is that it is not about money (the Bruins only save a couple mill), it's about the Sharks landing one of the three most unstoppable offensive forces the world of hockey possesses. He has the full tool-box; 6"4 225lb bulldozer frame, above average speed, wingspan, hockey sense, vision, a rocket slap-shot, elite passing and playmaking skills, intimidating figher (though memorably had his clock cleaned in a tilt with the-even-bigger Lindros), he can log in-human amounts of ice-time, he is defensively responsible, he crushes people on the bodycheck, he plays hurt, he's fearless, and from all accounts - a respectful, responsible person, employee and captain. At the international level, Thornton is already a proven winner. At 26 Thornton is one of the stamped in iron choices for Team Canada's Olympic entry.

Brad Stuart, as good as he is, is still just an average NHL defenseman. He's a classic 'tweener', caught in a neverworld between defensive ace and offensive force. He may still blossom into a full blown #1 d-man, but at 26, he has yet to make an international team since jr., never been an all-star, and for that matter, never warranted consideration as one. He's been good, but it's hardly fair value for Thornton.

Marco Sturm is Martin Rucinksy subtracting 10 years. BFD. Yeah, he'll score 30 goals. Maybe. In a league where top end players will net 50 or more, the fact he might be a 2nd line sill winger isn't encouraging.

Wayne Primeau. Marginal NHL talent, and full blown bust as a #1 pick. I believe he may now be a 20 goal scorer. For his entire career.

To sum up;

Boston gets; a #3-4 defenseman, a 2nd line winger, and a 4th line checking centre.

San Jose gets; monstrous, physical, power pivot, perrenial all-star, and probable hall of famer, #1 centre.

In short its a brutal trade. Horrific.

It's Cam Neely and Glen Wesley for Barry Pederson.

It's a franchise apocalypse.

So far the commentary at ESPN has run towards a 'blame the player' attitude;

Burnside :

"Joe, you remember those playoffs, when the Bruins couldn't hold onto series leads of 2-0 and 3-1 against a woefully undermanned Montreal team? You remember that's the series when you managed to record zero points? That's the same series when it was suggested in the local press that maybe you didn't deserve to wear the captain's "C" anymore.

Sure you remember."

and Melrose:

"The Bruins thought Thornton hasn't done what great players do -- what a Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito or Ray Bourque have done -- which is lead their teams in tough situations, lead their teams to a Cup. Thornton hasn't taken the Bruins past the second round of the postseason since the team drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in 1997. The past three seasons, the B's have been ousted in the first round.

This trade would not have happened if Thornton lived up to expectations."

AR: I say 'Bullshit'. The B's were ousted in the first round for a very simple reason - other than Thornton, the teams were not very good. The last time we saw Joe in the playoffs he was struggling with a rib and back injury, but played through it anyway. He showed heart and guts in abundance, but because he was at something like 30% and didn't score, he's the reason they don't advance according to the il-logic above.

It seems the ESPN writers are no better than Bruins mgt at assessing Joe's game.

While I'm at the incompetence of the B's braintrust - and I use that word ironically - as well as the craven sphincter licking of the ESPN press - and I use that word ironically as well, why hasn't anyone mentioned the obvious?

Patrick Marleau should have been a minimum as far as players coming back in the deal. Minimum. Patrick Marleau + Stuart is a good start. Patrick Marleau + Stuart + Sturm is almost fair, but would still leave the deal tilted in SJ's favour (because you win a trade by getting the best player - period). And why wasn't Calgary contacted about Thornton? Sutter would at least THINK about Iginla, but he would almost certainly cough up Regehr and stuff. An Iginla-Thornton line? Beyond Evil. Sutter would have found a way to pay more than SJ. Philly would have found a way to make Primeau retire, and free the salary room up - and Boston would have been able to get a Pitkanen + Handzus offer for sure. In fact, I submit that even Columbus would have at least considered Nash for Thornton, and that Boston would have been getting at least something close to value for him.

Nope. They called up Doug Wilson the first guy they had on speed dial for a Western conference team and then bent over.

And when the Boston fans squeal about losing Thornton for a bag of pucks, ESPN gets them to direct their rage at the player.

Obviously, Bruin fans deserve better mgt.

And we all deserve better reporting than what is available at ESPN.