Archive for March, 2012

NSFW, important message anyway

March 31, 2012 - 2:35 pm Comments Off on NSFW, important message anyway


Comcast Continues To Suck, Film at 11

March 30, 2012 - 7:43 pm Comments Off on Comcast Continues To Suck, Film at 11

The story thus far: In December of 2010, Qwest was doing line work on the main road behind our house, and cut our phone line. For whatever reason, the tech sent out to fix it couldn’t find the right “RECONNECT HERE” section in the time allotted before moving to the next ticket in the queue, and thus ran just a patch cord out to the main drop. Basically the equivalent of “Our power went out, can we run an extension cord to the neighbors?” We were assured someone would be along to fix it more properly within a week. Fine, if it’s stupid and it works, it isn’t stupid. And on that premise, the relative importance of me calling and nagging them to come fix it right as the months wore on was fairly minimal. If it goes down, it would’ve been damn near a mini-vacation for me given my work setup. Eventually, or more specifically the day before yesterday, the original tech came by to make good. Which apparently was still not possible without MASSIVE INTER-CORPORATE OPERATION which is starting to make storming Normandy look fairly straightforward.

But this isn’t about Qwest, although they do rather suck. This is about the huge, gaping, rancid maw of suck and fail that is Comcast.

Now just by typing that particular company name, I can already hear teeth gnashing in rage at them, but the Los Alamos branch of Comcast is special. Having already experienced their unique take on content delivery (don’t), pricing (hookers & blow), and customer service (answering machine that isn’t hooked up), when we bought this house we naturally dumped them and jumped straight to satelite. Never had them, any of their crap, or anything even remotely to do with them at this address.

A while after we finished building our fence, Kodos (an only-dog at the time) set up a way larger than normal racket while out sniffing around doing dog stuff. LabRat goes out to investigate, and discovers that two comcast workers (truck visible on the main road beyond the fence) have decided that there’s not really much need to ask property owners for access, and simply hopped the fence to access… something. There’s a box back there that’s supposedly phone-related rather than comcast, but the relevant details are out. LabRat, not knowing that our county has a specific law protecting dogs that bite tresspassers, hauls Kodos in and the cops are called, curses muttered. Relevant to today’s story only in establishing pattern.

Fast forward to the great pyramid building operation that is getting our phone line unfucked. Part of this requires locating existing lines for apparently everything from original phone to ley, and the last two days have been a fustercluck of parading workers coming to find these things. Until today, the county, the phone company, gas, electric, druid, and everybody else have been polite, courteous professionals. “Good afternoon, sir. My name is LineFinderGuy and I’m from WeGotLinesHere inc to find the type of line I find for your phone project.” Cool. No problem, let me haul the dogs in, let me know when you’re done, and I’ll stay out of your hair.

Guess who doesn’t follow this pattern! Lunch today rolls around, so all three dogs are busy drooling on LabRat’s feet, when Yet Another White Truck not just parks near the house, but parks in the driveway in such a way that I ain’t getting anything in or out till it leaves. I wander in to the kitchen to tell LR of the arrival so she can distract the dogs with meat while I answer the front door and do the aforementioned “Hi I’m From” dance. As I finish explaining, I turn, and out the window lo but who do I behold? Why it’s some fat fuck waddling around inside the fence! Curiously, the doorbell remains un-rung!

Brimming with inquisitiveness, and considering that anyone stupid enough to enter a yard pretty clearly obvious as containing some quantity of dog at most times he may have means to Deal with said dogs, I inquired as to his name and JUST WHAT THE SWEET BLISTERING SHITBLAST YOU’RE DOING IN MY FUCKING YARD why he is inside my fence. Surprise washed over me as a tsunami when he revealed his affiliation with Comcast, stated in their native surly patois of “I’m with comcast. Who are you?”

It did not go better from there.

After extensive explanation of the complete lack of comcast, or any welcome for them and theirs, said fuck was eventually ejected from the property, though at a much lower velocity than would have suited me.

Thus, in conclusion, fuck Comcast and their shitdick asshole unprofessional jizzbags that work for them. Feel free to contemplate interesting methods of deterring such behavior in comments. I’m leaning towards electrocution, or “You’re in my yard without permission, sit your ass down keep your hands where I can see them and we’ll let Johnny Law handle introductions since you’re so bad at it yourself.”


March 28, 2012 - 4:24 pm Comments Off on Flagged

Not inspired by anything in particular, other than that I noted I seemed to be building a collection of observations of behaviors that throw up a little red flag for me. Stuff people do, or say, that indicates trouble might be coming later down the line. Mostly centered on ways people act in intimate relationships because intimate relationships tend to be where we find ourselves most vulnerable, but certainly applies to family, friends, bosses… Most of them are relatively innocuous as a one-time thing just because people are human, but as patterns… flag.

– Makes fun of you in public. This doesn’t apply to good-natured ribbing or giving of shit, though goodness knows that can get fairly intense in some groups or dynamic. This is stuff actually designed to get under your skin, to make you a little (or a lot) angry or hurt or embarrassed. Justification, if called on it, is usually some variant of “just a joke”, or “lighten up”, or “you’re too sensitive”. Actual friendly jokes in an actually light atmosphere aren’t designed to wound, even a little bit; the correct response to saying something to give a friend/lover a good-natured ribbing that turns out to be hurtful is contrition, not demands to develop a sense of humor. In general, someone who finds you being upset intrinsically amusing is to be avoided.

– Tells you your experiences are wrong/mistaken. Often this is just the result of being young and inexperienced enough not to have grown out of I Am The World syndrome, but it’s still a flag, especially in someone old enough to know better. In its worst form this is the foundation of gaslighting. Normally when two people’s experiences of the same event don’t line up, the normal reaction is to find out why someone else saw it a different way- not to tell them their perceptions are simply wrong/mistaken/totally out of line. It’s possible to be wrong or to misread situations, but someone who constantly tells you you do, or that you’re incapable of reading situations because of (reason), is waving a flag.

– Hates your friends and family and doesn’t bother to hide it in front of them. Love and friendship aren’t transitive, but the polite thing to do when you can’t stand a friend or family member of your partner/BFF/whoever is to try and avoid being in situations with that person and to let your partner/whatever know your feelings and why, and grin and bear it when it’s simply not avoidable. Actively doing stuff to drive them off is an isolating move as well as just being rude. That, and one’s friends and family are part of what make us who we are; we can’t pick and choose all of them and they won’t all get along, but someone who can’t stand ANY of your friends and family is making a statement that all the people who like you for who you are are awful/unlikable. This also combines with the first point- someone who makes fun of your friends and family in front of them is showing that their own amusement trumps your anger/embarrassment over poor treatment of people you care about.

– Acts entitled to your time/space/movement. This is a fuzzy one as expecting a loved one to spend time with you isn’t unreasonable, but getting upset over any plans you make that don’t include them, or plans you made for yourself without their input, or going places without them/their say-so is a flag.

– Things get really intense, really fast. Being swept off your feet can be a lot of fun, but eventually you need your feet back on the floor. Someone who tries to keep you constantly swept off your feet or bowled over is often someone who’s trying to keep you off your balance, period.

– Values you for your “innocence” and “vulnerability”. Remember that innocence means being innocent of knowledge and experience. Again, it isn’t intrinsically awful to find a lack of cynicism and an enthusiasm for life as though it were new appealing- but someone who doesn’t want their partners/employees/whatever to know what the world is really like is also giving themselves the experiential upper hand. In order to recognize a manipulative asshole when you see one, you generally need to know something about bad things and the people who do them.

– This one really does only apply to lovers- tells you your preferences in bed are wrong/unacceptable. If your major turnon is something the rest of the world broadly agrees is an active turnoff (like poop, or vomit) except for a few fellow fetishists, this doesn’t apply, but someone who tells you all men/women like oral, or don’t like something else you want, or otherwise presents your desires and requirements to get off as you Doing It Wrong is waving a flag. If they’re willing to ignore your boundaries, wishes, and needs in an intimate, private setting and substitute their own preferences and ideas of how Others Work, odds are good that behavior won’t stay completely confined there.

– Constantly mixed messages. In fiction this is grist for the plot and fodder for comedy. In reality this is sometimes someone who likes you better when you are confused. Again, this can be innocuous and can come from someone who is maybe a little unskilled at communicating; as a pattern, and especially as a pattern that persists after you make efforts at establishing crystal clear communication, it’s a flag. Relationships that have “suspense” as a norm after the getting-to-know-you period are not fun.

– Tells you you’re not like other (category of people you belong to), with the implication that you are awesome and somehow all the rest are not. This is not a behavior that deserves a lot of benefit of the doubt; someone who holds your gender/race/class/salsa dancing hobby categorically against you (and they will, as soon as you displease them) has not just waved a flag, they’ve waved a starter’s flag for you to sprint over the horizon. This behavior can be the result of inexperience/some other flavor of recoverable dumbassery, but it’s not your job to recover it if so. If it happens it’s probably going to be their own gender/race/class/merengue dancing group that does the bulk of the work on the perspective change.

– Frequently creates cognitive dissonance in how you feel about/after spending time with them. If you find yourself frequently having to justify to yourself why X was actually being friendly/well-meaning/innocuous when you felt crappy or nervous in their presence? They’re not really friendly and well-meaning. It’s theoretically possible it’s you and not them, but unless you know you have a PTSD history strongly triggered by white-bearded men and they happen to be a white-bearded man, if you find yourself frequently rationalizing the way someone makes you feel, that’s a flag. People that like and support us and make us feel good with that generally don’t have to do it by code.

– Here’s a REALLY fuzzy one: seems to be in a relationship with a script and not with you. Some people run their interactions with other people through a script or template of How This Goes and pay more attention to it than to other people. Everyone plans to a certain extent how to deal with others based on their expectations and what they have previously experienced; but everyone healthy is ready to throw the script out the window when contact with the other person reveals a flawed assumption or guess. For the people that are REALLY attached to the script, there’s going to be confusion at best and punishment at worst when serious deviations occur. And they will.

– To paraphrase Maya Angelou: When someone tells you who they are, believe them. Someone says they’ll hurt you? They almost certainly will. Someone says they can’t handle a relationship/relationships in general and always sabotages them? They’re telling the truth. Feel sorry for them if you will, but from a distance, because this isn’t even a flag, it’s a hand-written signed and damn near notarized declaration. You’re not going to fix them; maybe a therapist, who is not you, can fix them if and when they decide they need it. Do take into intent context; someone sobbing they’re so stupid and they always screw everything up is definitely sad and upset and feeling helpless, but that’s qualitatively different from telling you that they are destructive to people close to them. This is also different coming from someone you’ve known for ages and know has depressive episodes, as opposed to someone you’re eight weeks into a relationship with who is not actively melting down. Especially if this is coming from a Mixed Message Master.

– In converse to the above: is on a mission to “fix” you. Everyone has flaws, and part of intimacy is dealing with your partner’s flaws and supporting them in their own efforts to deal with their flaws, but even a relationship between two completely normal flaw-having people will run into unhealthy waters when one partner sets themselves up as there to improve and repair the other. Taken to further extremes this is a well-trodden path for gaslighters and abusers- convince the other person they’re so broken they are nothing without their fixer.

– Turning the above around again: believes it is your job to fix THEM and makes it clear you are being interviewed/maintained as Chief Emotional Support. Everyone has problems, and friends do help with problems, but the job of fixing so and so is always primarily on so and so, even if they have to hire some trained staff to facilitate it. And not even a paid therapist can help someone who isn’t working at it.

– Everyone in their life they no longer have a relationship with is EVIL. You can be friends with exes, or not, and it’s okay to be friends with none of your exes, but someone who only has EVIL, CRAZY exes/ex-friends is waving a flag around. Taken literally it means they only associate with crazy evil people and that therefore you two are probably not compatible- but more likely, it means either they see people as all-good or all-bad, or that their own contributions to conflicts are absent in their own minds. Often both. This doesn’t apply as much to family, given crazy and evil tend to spread through family and it’s entirely rational to want to get away from a crazy/evil family, but you still might want to pay attention to *why* the family is described as evil and crazy.

– Tries to argue you into or out of entirely subjective feelings. Argues you should have had a good time when you didn’t; a bad time when you had a great time; tries to make a rational argument why you should date them or hang out with them. This is a pretty common phase of immaturity, especially with people whose interests or field largely rely on everything being objective, but again, it is not your job to help someone out of a destructive idea or phase unless you are a trained therapist and they are giving you money.

– Believes boundaries are unnecessary, cold, or mean in an intimate/family relationship or “true friendship”. This is another starter’s flag: RUN.

– Treats relationships as transactional. Obviously this does not apply to employers and employees, who explicitly ARE in a transactional relationship, but someone who extends this attitude outside of work is waving a flag. While it is true that relationships shouldn’t be all give or all take, keeping an accounting ledger in your head- this favor for that favor, this gift for this act, this uninvited gesture for this demand for quid pro quo- shouldn’t be a normal thing.

– All of your decisions need to be justified to them. If you are a minor child this is one thing, but otherwise? You can do things solely for the reason that you want to do them. Someone who constantly makes you prove that something is justified before you do it without taking a large ration of grief from them is waving a flag. This has some realms of the reasonable- a partner might have legitimate concerns about your health or losing you or whatever- but again, there are limits. “I don’t want you to ride a motor cycle without a helmet” is a different thing from “I don’t want you to eat that donut”. This is another flag that is defined more by the pattern than by the single incident; someone who is really hung up about one small thing has a hangup, someone who makes you justify your food, friends, drinks, career path, and choice in cars is a controlling asshole.

– You find yourself constantly in conflicts you were not actually aware of. It is at least polite to send a declaration of war before the siege starts. This is another pattern-makes-it flag; sometimes we think we’ve been really clear about a feeling or priority or whatever and we haven’t and the other person is oblivious nonetheless. However, someone who is constantly initiating the silent treatment or passive-aggressive note or whatever else based on slights you had NO IDEA about until they are, grudgingly and resentfully, explained later, is flagging.

– Conversely: someone who is constantly obtuse and treats your feelings like some sort of chaotic force of nature they have no relationship or influence over. Someone who will not acknowledge your needs, feelings, or opinions until you scream, then treats you as all VOLATILE, jeez, is likewise flagging. Sometimes there can be other issues behind that problem, like being on the less neurotypical side of the autistic spectrum, but reasons aren’t excuses, they’re reasons for additional measures to minimize problems. Like really clear communication.

– Deliberately tries to scare you. Punches the wall next to your head, throws things when angry with you, threatens your pets, makes self-harm gestures in front of you when upset with you. This is another starter’s flag- run away, run now, run as fast as you can.

– Nothing is EVER agree to disagree. It is very important that you hash out every single issue logically and with passionate argument. Bonus flag points if it has to be done RIGHT NOW, DON’T GO AWAY ANGRY, LISTEN TO ME WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU. Everyone wants to be right and prefers winning arguments to losing them; normal people know not everything should be an argument and not every argument represents a hill that someone must die on, and also that sometimes differences of opinion or preference aren’t that important.

– You don’t do stuff independently, everything is done at each other somehow. Everything you wear is a message! Every choice you make somehow relates back to them! Why are you not receiving my food and clothing related messages! Is it OK if I wear the purple top today?

Easter Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

March 27, 2012 - 11:21 am Comments Off on Easter Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

You there, step right up! Are you a parent upset at the cancellation of the easter egg hunt because that peroxide cunt with the Ford Suburban Subdivision kneecapped you before you could shank that snobby fuck from up the road and get your precious little Johnny Fuckaccident an egg rather than risk him doing it on his own and not finding one?

Holy shit are you in luck, Sparkles!

That’s right, this Easter Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! it’s Uncle Stingray’s all-adult egg hunt! Just sign this pain waiver that I totally did not rip off because Offdenson could kick my ass in his sleep and makes Ken at Popehat cry in the courtroom on a regular basis and step right up.

Here’s the rules, skippy. You wear eye protection, you wear a mouth guard, you find eggs. There’s 200 of them hidden about this field which may or may not also contain explosives, mines, booby traps, venomous snakes, and Justin Bieber. You want more pads? Well hey, maybe you’re not quite as dumb as Sally from the tennis club after all. Good thinking but that’s on you and I don’t really give a shit if you go in dressed in full medieval plate armor, but you get 30 minutes and at the end the top three people who can make it back to the entrance with the most eggs will win Fabulous Prizes(TM).

No, dipshit, I did not say whoever collects the most. Clean the Just For Men out of your fuckin’ ears and try using them for something other than your mistress to hold on to while your frigid wife cooks the books on her etsy shop. I said whoever makes it back with the most wins. Bonus prize if anybody finds and can craft a more lifelike puppet out of Bieber, and points are available for artistic style.

For the low low low entrance fee of $25 plus a small (large) surcharge to cover legal fees for the pain waver, you can get in there and get your spoiled little uterine dumpling all the Easter eggs they were denied by those uppity fucks who canceled the big egg hunt saying you over-obsessive pussyslimes were ruining things for people who have more personality and parental skill than a dead aardvark with gonorrhea! No kids in this, so when you grab that egg you can do so with the self-righteous justification that it’s FOR MY CHILD and shove that golf club so far up Dave’s ass if he even makes a move to that purple-speckled ovoid by the trip wire he’ll have to putt out before he can say good morning!

Break out the fire hoses and party hats folks, it’s Uncle Stingray’s First Annual Easter Egg Helicopter Hunt!

(h/t Salamander)

Sex, Gender, Biology, Society

March 26, 2012 - 3:11 pm Comments Off on Sex, Gender, Biology, Society

A post over at Quizzical Pussy (NSFW, good for discussion) on… I’m not even sure what I’d nutshell it as, maybe transphobia, maybe gender issues in general, maybe I-don’t-even seems to have provoked minor kerfluffle, as for some reasons such subjects often do. I’d actually go over there and read it if you want to talk about it*.

Couple of comments:

1) On “YOU CAN’T DENY BIOLOGY YOU CRAZY SOCIAL CONSTRUCT LIBERAL BIOLOGY DENIER”. My instinctive response is “bitch, you don’t even know how weird biology gets, and this is tame as hell by comparison”.

My constructive response is that sex, as in male vs. female has a very straightforward definition in biology, and gender has a separate, much less straightforward definition, and even outside of we’re-just-talking-about-mating-fish it gets much weirder in human society.

Sex goes like this: If you belong to a species in which gametes are differently sized, and almost all species are anisogamous (the fancy word for “gametes differently sized”) because the numbers seem to work out a lot better for both participants that way, then the individual with the big gametes is female and the individual with the small gametes is male. Every other detail is elaboration, and the elaboration is not even remotely uniform. Some species pack both in one, to have gametes for every occasion, and they are hermaphroditic. Some species change sex depending on circumstance or age, which is much easier when the hardware for your gametes remains similar between sexes. (Many fish handle sex this way.)

Gender goes like this in biology, which really isn’t the same thing as in human society: It’s still complicated as hell and currently the subject of a genteel firefight. The thing is that, in anthropology and until relatively recently the rest of biology agreed, animals don’t have gender, just sex, because animals don’t have culture and gender is culturally constructed. However, some animals seem to have more than one concrete and consistent way to be male or female, and these animals definitely don’t have culture. How you will see this described in the literature varies a great deal; sometimes it’s referred to as “alternate mating strategies” (although lots of other animals have multiple mating strategies that are chosen on the fly as seems advantageous rather than having their mating strategy and life history linked to obvious physical forms), sometimes they’re referred to as “morphs” (even though most physical variations we refer to as morphs in other species aren’t linked to behavior and life history), sometimes it’s both at once. Some biologists have suggested that maybe “gender” is a pretty useful concept to describe critters that have more than one physically distinct mating strategy and life history per sex, but this is far from broadly accepted- but then, no single way to frame such problems really has broad acceptance.

With humans, everything gets much more complicated. Not even sex is completely and totally straightforward, given that there are enough of us for just about every biological intersex condition under the sun to have appeared, been documented, and caused some kind of legal problem. Gender goes along culturally constructed lines depending on the culture born into- but consider that for humans, very nearly everything, no matter how biological, has some degree of cultural construction; the way we eat and what we eat has a huge cultural component, and even the way we poop does as well. How many genders, and how gender is defined or assigned, varies from culture to culture.

What fascinates me on a personal level is how close to the bone gender seems to be for most people, and how entitled they seem to feel in a fish-have-no-words-for-water sort of way to other people’s. If you choose not to advertise your religious or political affiliation no one will make an issue of it, but if you choose not to advertise your gender identity very clearly some people get aggressive about it. Nature has taken care of secondary sex characteristics for me with no ambiguity unless I catch a cold and wear a camping tent for clothing, but when I wore my hair very short I’d get the occasional “Are you a BOY or a GIRL?” from total strangers, and the occasional outright hostile “Sir“. The latter fascinated me more than insulting me, mostly by the clear intent to insult that was always behind it.

What makes it yet more interesting to me the longer I think about it is that typically the same factions I hear “male and female are ironclad biological constructs anyone is foolish to deny” from are the ones that also believe in enforcing the boundaries thereof with a great deal of applied cultural force. Nobody has to be taught to poop (although they do have to be taught where it’s appropriate to do so and how to clean themselves afterward in their own cultural fashion), but the training and rules for properly expressing one’s gender start at birth and have been a subject of obsession for parents since the beginning of written history. Schools have been founded around it, entire fields of study have been founded around it, religions usually have a great deal to say about it; learning how to be a man/woman, as well as NOT to be a man/woman, is one of the most intense acculturation experiences on Earth. It’s also a pretty big source of culture clash.

I’m not trying to say that gender is pure and entire social construction either, because I don’t think it is; if so social constructs for additional genders per sex would probably not be necessary, nor would the existence of a diagnosed “gender dysphoria” in societies where gender is very strictly binary, even after permissible roles for women and men have loosened to the point where you can be a man or a woman with some pleasures and behaviors from the opposite gender, and have that be unremarkable. Most of human life is things from our biology mediated and shaped by culture, not a nature-nurture dichotomy.

I AM trying to say that neither the biology nor the sociology is crystal clear here, and that if there’s a whole lot more going on for animals that are no brighter than a lizard or fish and have no culture whatsoever… who are we to assume that “biology” makes gender simple?

*This took me all damn weekend plus a big chunk of today to write. It was one of those “one sentence requires twenty minutes of research, revision, and mind-changing” things. After I hit post I’m going back to searching YouTube for Beyonslay highlights.

Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!

March 20, 2012 - 4:36 pm Comments Off on Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!

On Tam, who is responding to this on the subject of “the gun culture”.

OK, the long and the short of “the gun culture” as it exists on the internet and at conventions and in magazines and little groups of rednecks shooting cans in a quarry is this: We’re geeks.

That’s it. That’s all. Geeks will act like geeks around their favorite subjects of geekiness. Not everyone who owns a tool or does an activity is a geek, and they tend to be a bit weirded out by geeks. It’s okay not to be geeky, but please leave us geeks to our geeking without painting sinister motives on us. (I’d also ask you please not to shove our heads in toilets, but being as we are gun geeks, this is not so much a problem.)

This is why zombie apocalypse is so ridiculously popular as a fiction scenario among gunnies*; it allows geeks to do all sorts of hella geeky things like game out scenarios and fiddle with fun equipment and come up with strategies and inventions and mods without, y’know, actually involving real people that we’d feel bad about even fantasizing about shooting, because we’re not psychopaths. If we were sports geeks we’d be playing fantasy football; if we were fantasy geeks we’d be LARPing. We’re gun geeks, so we’re gonna argue about what gun for zombie and how to make lightweight biteproof armor.

Yes, we know about the guys those scary training videos are aimed at that buy crappy martial arts and survival stuff from the back of catalogues and whose entire wardrobe is in coyote brown, flat black, forest green, and desert tan. If he were playing Dungeons and Dragons he’d be a Munchkin. We can’t drop a rock on him, so we call him Tommy Tactical or Mall Ninja and try not to invite him to our parties. Hyper-competitive, self-hating** geeks who take everything way too seriously suck.

I say all this as someone who isn’t even that much of a gun geek- I like shooting but mostly guns are just tools to me- but who damn well knows a tribe of geeks when she’s playing with them, from all the other tribes I definitely belong to.

*Use in pretty much the same tone and spirit as you’d say “Trekkie”. Not every gun owner is a gunnie by a long chalk.

**As in “cannot admit they are basically just geeks and feel comfortable with that”.

Just Exactly Like We Planned?

March 19, 2012 - 4:17 pm Comments Off on Just Exactly Like We Planned?

By now most of you who pay attention to such things have probably already heard of the planned collaboration to resurrect the mammoth by injecting an elephant egg nucleus with mammoth DNA and incubating the result in a female Indian elephant.

The linked article mentions the background of many of the involved scientists with cloning, and indeed something like that has been done before in the Audubon exercise of having a domestic cat incubate black-footed cat embryos and successfully birth and raise the kits.

What I’m really wondering about is the impact genomic imprinting is going to have on this experiment. Imprinting is not well understood, but it’s something mammals do and other groups of animals don’t, and it seems to be most heavily involved in embryonic development. It’s why there aren’t any parthenogenetic species of mammal; in order to develop normally, mammals need input from both parents on various developmental epigenetic tags. This wasn’t a problem with the black-footed cats because that was in vitro fertilization with an already-made embryo using frozen sperm, and presumably researchers who clone have found at least a partial workaround in order to deal with eggs that technically only have one parent… but that’s dealing with a living species whose toolkit you can study and maybe borrow. We have no mammoths, and both the egg and the incubation environment will be elephant, not mammoth.

The article linked ends as is typical of these things with a crack about the sci-fi possibilities of Resurrected Mammoths Gone Rampage, but I would worry less about that and more about getting what amounts to another Asian elephant with a bizarre pedigree, which developed as its available epigenetic switch-thrower instructed. Presumably researchers with a heavy cloning background know a lot more about the pitfalls and how to avoid them than I do, but a great deal of the idea seems to head straight through “here be dragons” developmental biology territory.

Red and White

March 17, 2012 - 8:01 pm Comments Off on Red and White

I think I have maybe one Irish ancestor. The rest are overwhelmingly English (before they were American, anyway), with a few Scots and a small phalanx of German.

I stayed in and had some Oppressor’s Ale.

Horrors of Robotics

March 16, 2012 - 8:43 pm Comments Off on Horrors of Robotics

Use headphones if you need to but watch this with the sound ON, not off. Without sound the video is merely weird. With sound it dropped me screaming into the deepest, most hellish trench of the uncanny valley.

A sensible voice from my intellect informs me this thing has a good training reason to exist and certainly beats going from printed page to real screaming bloody life with no difficulty slider. It’s drowned out by the gibbering from the rest of me that occasionally manages to babble that the noises the thing makes really do sound like it’s howling in pain, and occasionally almost like it’s trying Lamaze breathing.

Glasgow v. Siri

March 16, 2012 - 1:44 pm Comments Off on Glasgow v. Siri

And explanation.

Interestingly I understood almost all of it, which is a change from the time I actually attempted to speak to a native in Glasgow.