Thursday, November 20, 2008


The mammoth genome has been sequenced from hair (I have some!) Real Pleistocene Park stuff. Actually you should scroll down Paleoblog for all manner of good things, from a Mongolian fiesta at Bozeman to new finds at the Deinocheirus site in Mongolia to the evolution--!-- of minerals.

At least some frogs are able to learn about predators when they are still in the egg. HT Annie D.

Also from Annie: Camel dressage. I have seen horses dancing (to rather inappropriate music) in Central Asia, but this is more than I... dreamed.

The Peculiars visit Taos and find crystals on the pillows and offers to trade massages for firewood. Mr P says that Taos is where bad New Mexicans and good Texans (sorry Henry!) go when they die.

Falconry's legendary innovator Frank Beebe has died at 96. He has a memorial website here. I have a lifelike crow lure he made for me, and a raft of correspondence I will have to read again.

The elegant anarchist Crispin Sartwell at Eye of the Storm is being driven mad the same damn earworm as I am. What he said.

Obama may READ Michael Pollan. But will he appoint a secretary of agriculture who is a creature of Big Corn?

Is Peter Matthiessen right to call Shadow Country, the revision of his "Watson" trilogy, a new book? Actually, I think yes-- it is a better book overall, and an author who is lucky enough to get to revise is lucky indeed.

Safe mini- nukes cheap enough to power, say, Socorro County. THe Guardian took a few corrections to get the story right-- innumeracy is apparently even commoner than illiteracy.

From little nukes to tiny strange guns; HT David Zincavage at Never Yet Melted. Make sure you follow the link on the first to "Curios & Antik", where you will see among other oddities a crucifix gun. And also see the "Apache gun" (Parisian version) at Diary of a Mad Natural Historian.

Finally, a melancholy and wonderful essay on bibliophilia by Ted Dalrymple. I too am fond of "association copies" and have quite a few-- must scan and run more through here.


LabRat said...

Venture Brothers actually managed to turn Space Oddity into... well, it was *something*. Part poignant, part funny/cheesy, all weird.

dr. hypercube said...

LabRat - all weird and all great - LOVED that episode.

On old DNA - the NYT article on the topic also has an implicit question - how close is too close? Are Neanderthals people?

"But the process of genetically engineering a human genome into the Neanderthal version would probably raise many objections, as would several other aspects of such a project. “Catholic teaching opposes all human cloning, and all production of human beings in the laboratory, so I do not see how any of this could be ethically acceptable in humans,” said Richard Doerflinger, an official with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Dr. Church said there might be an alternative approach that would “alarm a minimal number of people.” The workaround would be to modify not a human genome but that of the chimpanzee, which is some 98 percent similar to that of people. The chimp’s genome would be progressively modified until close enough to that of Neanderthals, and the embryo brought to term in a chimpanzee."

I don't agree with either the Bishops or with Dr. Church on this - not sure what I do agree with, though. Maybe just because we can isn't sufficient...

dr. hypercube said...

oops - NYT here.

mdmnm said...

One of the best Venture Bros. episodes by far! Started strong w/ space oddity and also had some of the best of Brock Samson.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about frogs recognizing danger while in the egg, but has anyone else ever noticed how frogs will jump OUT of the water when they hear a vehicle approaching a puddle on a dirt road or track? How do they learn THAT? I have also seen frogs jump out of the water around approaching, swimming alligators, so perhaps it is an old instinct readapted for modern circumstances. And spend millions reproducing Neanderthals, which will probably have to be caged like animals at great expense and discomfort to peoples' sensibilities? We already have PLENTY of them in all our prisons--we should start charging admission to THEM to help defray their cost to the taxpayers--a little plaque in front of each cage describing the inmates' offenses(sensationalizing them as much as possible, of course); it should prove quite a popular attraction....L.B.