Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Plants That Correct Their Genetic Mistakes!

 (Added on March 20, 2013.)

Uh, about that freaky thing about plant genetics I mentioned before... This is the gist of the article entitled; 'Cress overturns textbook genetics' by Helen Pearson:

In the year 1866, a monk named Gregor Mendel published a Very Important Scientific Paper. It demonstrated the (more or less) correct rhyme and reason for determining from two parents what percentage of offspring would show certain characteristics. Though somewhat obscure in his time, it today serves as a practical reference for breeders and geneticists alike.

Recently, at Purdue University (which was where Phil’s mom had studied plants!), a scientist named Robert Pruitt, with his colleagues, were breeding a line of Arabidopsis (cress) with a certain type of mutation in both copies of a gene called HOTHEAD. In mutated plants, the different parts of the flowers are fused, giving them an appearance similar to melted crayons.

These plants, of course, pass the mutant gene onto their offspring, and so it would be expected that all their offspring would be the same way. Except… they aren’t!
` What Pruitt’s team have been finding is that basically, about ten percent of these offspring have perfectly normal flowers, even though they supposedly have no 'normal' HOTHEAD gene! Not only that, but many other genes were discovered to have been rewritten as well! How is this possible?

It would seem that the cress must have a template of older genes from their grandparents (or further back) stored somewhere from which to revert their mutations. Furthermore, it is speculated that this template is kept on the plants’ RNA rather than their DNA, as some of the mutations cannot be traced to the genome itself.

Pruitt says that such gene correction probably occurs in other strains of Arabidopsis from time to time, but no one really has noticed it yet. Perhaps, he suggests, the plants do this when they become stressed from something - such as this particular HOTHEAD mutation.
` If other organisms possess the same mechanism, this could explain why some children who have disease-causing genes only show mild symptoms: Some of their cells may revert back to a healthier, ‘un-mutated’ state. If this is so, it may someday make a useful new form of gene therapy.

Great Googly-Moogly! More later. I need go sleepy-bye.

Dang. :O

Chris Anna Fullerton | 03/04/2005, 16:26

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Monday, March 28, 2005

The Importance of Recognizing Abuse... An Unbelievable Tale of Insane People In My Life

(Added on March 20, 2013.)
[Note: The bracketed edits are not new. Except this one.]

Ah, my first DadStory. I hope I can encourage you to make fun of my dad's psychotic antics, as well as the Special Education dopes who never found out what was going on. As my childhood was nothing but being confused, used and abused, it's all one really can do....
` And laugh from time to time, will ya?

When I was three or four, I was playing on a wooden swing-set made many years ago by my dad, who was at the time having a bout of logorrhea (lit. 'verbal diarrhea'). He was talking about utter craziness that most people would be trying to escape from, although I, having an Impressionable Young Mind, took everything he said religiously.
` It was all quite disturbing - he was telling me I didn't have rights in this country even though he did; that's why I wasn't allowed to do such-and-such, and I remember quite distinctly this exchange:

` I was saying; "But why don't I have rights?"
` He said; "Because I own you."
` I said; "And so does Mom, right?"
` And he said; "No, see, because I own you and Mom, just like I own the house!"
` So I said; "But I thought Mom owned the house, too!"
` And he said; "She does, in a way, just not the same way as I do."

I never asked what he meant by that exactly, but I know that he did mean that he owned me in some way. The way he talked to me in the third person, calling me 'she' and 'her' instead of 'you', really did seem to mark me as less than human.
` He wouldn't let me do the things I was supposed to do, instead getting in front of me and doing them, or even moving my arms and hands like a marionette so that he could still do what I was doing even if I was technically touching whatever-it-was.

...Yeah. Ha. Well, I guess that is more sad than funny. And this, most of all:
` I remember hating life so much as a small child that it wasn't long before I found myself at the top of the stairs, wondering if I should throw myself down them.
` I kept thinking; "This will hurt. But what if I don't die? But I have to die! I've lived long enough. I know enough. That's good enough for me!"

` Then my dad came up the stairs and I said to him; "Dad, I feel like I want to kill myself."
` And he said; "Well, everyone does, from time to time."
` I said; "No, I mean, all the time."
` He said; "No you don't, quit makin' stuff up!" and continued on.

From that day, I vowed not to kill myself - but not so much because I wanted to live! It was because I wanted him to make sure he knew that I was capable of feeling. I hated it when he didn't believe me - which was several times a day...

And my mom? I never talked to her unless I had to, so she didn't know much about my life, despite living in the same house. My dad didn't trust either of us, so neither did I: He told me practically every day that my mom was schizophrenic and could not be trusted.
` Constantly, he'd bring up examples of how insane she was because; "She doesn't remember that happening, but I do!" or, "She doesn't remember me telling her that! I tol' her and tol' her and tol' her that! And she says; [mocking in an unflattering way] 'Oh, I don't remember!'"
` His conclusion? "She has multiple personalities: She's a schizophrenic!" Not that dissociative identity disorder (a personality disorder) and schizophrenia (a psychotic disorder) have that much in common. But being a kid, I didn't know that.

` In fact, I thought Dear Old Dad was some kind of genius because I never really knew what he was talking about on any subject. (Guess what? Neither did anyone else!!) And as time went on, he got worse.
` He would always be telling me that he remembered things happening that I didn't. What was his explanation? I must be crazy, too! So must everybody else who he had the same problem with, which consisted of about... everybody else!

Ha... Hilarious!

And then, of course, he'd also blame people for things they didn't do, which would necessarily involve being Loud and Anti-Logical. Off the top of my head, I recall an incident from when I was nine: It was an hour after I'd eaten dinner, and I had just remembered that there was still some rainbow sherbet in the freezer. Naturally, I opened up the freezer door -- but... it wasn't in there!
` So, I went upstairs where my parents were, to ask Dad where the sherbet was, only to find him in the hallway/laundry/junk room, talking to my mom. However, he didn't notice me because he was directing Large Quantities of Logorrhea at my mom.

` A little later, I heard this huge roar of anger: "Where's the sherber'?"
` Well, that's what I had wondered!
` He marched me downstairs and showed me the freezer. "Where is it?" he demanded.
I said; "Actually, I wanted some sherbet today and it wasn't there, and I went up to ask you if you ate it or something, but you didn't hear me because you were talking to Mom, so I didn't think it was important enough."
` So here's a really typical example of his logic: "Well, since you didn't tell me before, you must be lying!"
` And I was like; "No! I did, but you weren't listening, because..."
` And he said; "Well, I don't remember, so I must be right!" (I'm not kidding!) Then he had this huge, terrifying grin as I sputtered in disbelief.
` He kept insisting that I confess to eating the sherbert, and I was panicking and crying, squealing like a Really Unhappy Pig; "I really didn't!"

` This dragged on into the night - though apparently oblivious, Dad didn't even turn on the light. He just made me sit at the table, the only light coming from the parking lot of the junior high school, pacing back and forth between the kitchen and dining room (which were by his crappy design, and which he never thought was important enough to finish).` "What did you do with the sherber'?" he kept barking.
` "I don't know what happened to it!" I cried. "I thought I saw you eating some last night! I was going to ask you..."
` "Well, Mahm [Mom] sure as hell didn't eat it! But if you didn't, who did? Huh? How could you not remember eating an entire half-gallon [typical exaggeration] of sherber'? Huh? I know why! It's because you're a damn schizophrenic!
` "Maybe it was one of your other personalities! Was it [E]? Or was it [other E]? [Last name]?"

` "NO!" I shrieked, seriously not remembering having eaten any sherbert for at least a week (considering that I didn't like it very much).

` It was late before the repetitive grilling cycles were too much for Dad, and he finally allowed me to go to bed. Even so, the accusations didn't stop. For over a week, every time he'd walk through a room where I'd be minding my own business, he would stand in the doorway and give me the ugliest look, as if to say; 'You know you did it!'
` And then I would start crying, desperately pleading; "I didn't do it! Why won't you believe me? I'm telling the truth!" (Of course, even if he could see see that someone was telling the truth, that did not generally affect his opinion!)

` It stopped, however, just after I looked up from a TV show to see that he was loudly staring at me. I tearfully tried to protest even louder than this, and he walked off, disgusted, into the hallway/laundry/junk room. My mom also happened to be there, and she asked; "What's that all about?" Immediately, he began complaining about my behavior to her, and then, just as suddenly, he stopped talking.
` Wow!
` Then, he shuffled back into the room extra-slowly, staring at the floor. Most amazingly of all, he said in a barely-audible whisper; "I'm sorry."

` Wow! To think that Jerry ever apologized to me occasionally! That didn't keep him from getting angry over these things, though: For many years after the Sherbet Incident, he would gripe to me about how my mom had held this most vital secret in our sherbet status - he even made fun of the way she'd finally 'confessed'; "Well, I guess I'm your culprit."

That was my life, basically. I was blamed for many things, most of which I didn't do, which was especially evident in the accusations requiring me to break the laws of physics (stuff like me giving him physical and mental difficulties), yet I must have done these things, obviously, because I was a bad kid who was plotting against him.
` But again, I didn't know that. I was a kid. And he did a really good job convincing me that he was God.

Needless to say, he always told me to be a 'good person' like him. Well, I succeeded in imitating him exactly, and it wound up getting me into Special Ed.
` But he wasn't the only reason. I also have a severe reaction to hormones in non-organic milk. [Edit: Actually a psychosomatic disorder with symptoms as described below. Oh, and hormones - in general - don't actually leak out into milk anyway, though they are present in meat.]
` This 'milk-drunkenness' is very well-known to anyone who knew me as a kid; my eyelids would swell up and develop almost black circles under them, my judgement would be extremely impaired, my skin would get very itchy and irritated at light (but not heavy) touches, and my anxiety/irritability levels got to the point where I would laugh nervously, plot my next suicide attempt, and scream profanity at my very Special Educators.
` It was an awful feeling, it felt like my head was filled with wool; my thought processes would barely slog along, and I was so irritated and pissed off that I couldn't stand it! It was about the most intense feeling I've ever had, besides the feeling I got when my dad would blame stuff on me, or when some horrible disaster (i.e. torture) has befallen me and someone thinks I'm making up some kind of excuse to get attention!

Anyway... some of my classmates had the same problem with milk and wheat and stuff, so... guess why they were there? [Allergies? Though I will note that two children who were treated for allergies showed remarkable transformations in only days.]
` Even though my teachers knew the problems they would have with us after lunch, we were still ordered to do schoolwork. I don't know about anyone else, but all I could think about was running around, crying and nervously laughing (everyone thought it meant I was 'happy' - even me!).
` When I got so shaky I couldn't stay put, I'd get this huge 'fear grimace-thing' and hide. In third grade, when I went to Garfield Elementary in Medina, there was this pine-green laundry bag filled with sheets for the kids to punch when they were angry, and I'd take the sheets out and hide in it.
` Mr. Peterson, a schoolroom volunteer from the Baptist church next door, would then just pull the drawstring and drag me into the hall, or sometimes down the stairs, as that's where the school time-out room was.


` What did the principal think of this? He would sometimes assist Mr. Peterson in dragging me down the steps when I wasn't in a bag! Once locked in the allergen-filled time-out room (which had been stripped bare, with plaster falling all around my ears), I would sneeze and cough, visibly discolored from all the bruises, hives and rugburns, and Mr. Peterson would tell me that they had called my mom and told her 'eeeeverything' that happened.
` Of course, by 'eeeeverything,' I assumed he'd meant 'eeeeverything', so I didn't think I needed to bother telling her. Which I didn't, since these episodes were way too embarrassing for me to willingly talk about.

` Eventually, this led to me being sent to my room after school every day. Since I wasn't allowed back out of my room, my dad could go in there as long as he wanted and there wasn't anything I could do to escape.
` Did he lecture me for hours? Yes. Did he offer any discipline? No. I suppose he pretended to, but in reality, this was mostly an important chance in his day to vent about how bad his co-workers at the phone company had teased and mocked him.
` Yes, that's right. He'd complain for hours about his personal problems to his kid!
` It went like this: "Bill Grimsley told me I didn't know how to handle this Trouble Ticket, but that's because he doesn't know anything!" or "All day today, they kept saying these nonsense words and then laugh when I asked what they were saying!"
` That sort of thing. He did the same thing to my brother, too, actually.
` By the time it was dark outside, I would be really tired and off my guard. That's when he'd grab me and spank me as hard as he possibly could. I'd say; "Not as hard as last time!" and he'd say; "I won't!" though I didn't think my begging for mercy had any effect (he'd argue otherwise).

By the time I was seventeen, I hadn't significantly matured or developed beyond this sorry state. I was in my fifth year of staying at home all day while my parents were at work; my main way of learning about the outside world was through television.
` It was in the fall of this year (1999?) when I found out that my mom had no idea I'd been regularly abused in school. She was just beginning to say that she thought my dad was 'ill', and I would tell her things that she said confirmed it.
` For once, we had a reason to talk, and one of these times, I'd made a joke about bags and me being in them, but to my surprise, she didn't understand what I was referencing. When I told her, she said; "If I had known that, I'd have pulled you out of that school right away!"
` I was surprised because I could have sworn my dad used to tell me how stupid and wrong people were for doing stuff like that to me - yet apparently, he didn't think it was worth discussing with my mom.

` It was because of his 'Yer teachers are wrong!' logorrheic spiel that I had no respect for teachers or their assistants. They were 'stupid', after all, so apparently being dragged down stairs and such was not grounds for getting them in trouble for any reason.
` Criminal? Stupid? Same thing!

Meanwhile, my dad upped three of his logorrhea topics. The first concerned how 'stupid' I was because I 'sassed back' - read; was frequently in a panic because I was unable to correct some misinformation he had created, whether intellectual or 'myfaultal'.
` The second was how 'smart' I was, because I had an IQ of 160 in first grade, not that he cared unless there was someone else around to brag to.
` The third was about how 'crazy' I was supposed to be, seeing that I wasn't telepathically tapped into his delusions and so could not anticipate what to avoid saying around him. (He probably came up with new ones all the time, too, for the sake of starting an argument.)

` I never understood these lectures of his. The only message I could derive was that I was 'bad' and there wasn't a thing I could do in order to change, unless I had his help. Except, his help turned out to be a series of traps designed to destroy my sense of self-worth. They were very effective.
` Basically, they went like this: "Come try this, it's easy! Hey, what are you doing, you stupid bitch? You're not capable of doing that!" or, "What do you think you're doing? No, of course I don't remember ever letting you do that - why don't you ask one of your other personalities?"

` Worst of all, he'd constantly be groaning that he was unable to break my spirit. Literally. I specifically remember this happening a lot over the years:

` "You're fight'n and fight'n wit' me, all the time!" he'd say. "You're just so stubborn and belligerant. Horses..."
` Here would be one of those maddening pauses of his, before finally continuing: "People break their spirits so that the horse just gives up and will do anything they tell it to. Nau, I've been try'na break your spirit for such a long time, so you'll behave, so I can control you, but all you do is rebel! You just think I'm being mean, but I'm try'na help you!"

` I really had believed that was true, because whenever I told a Special Ed teacher or counselor about how he yelled at me all the time, they repeatedly assured me that he only did it because he loved me.
` Yeah... he must have loved me more than anyone in the world! Which of course, is why I believed him when he said; "I love you more than anyone else, even Mahm! More than anyone ever, ever will, because no one will ever be able to stand you. You actually think you're gonna get married? If by some miracle you do, your husband will wind up being a wife-beater, because no one can stand you! No one!"

` Holy frell!

This was bad news for me, because in fifth grade, Ms. Kauffman (who later married Mr. Porter from the next room and had a baby girl), taught me, as 50% of the classroom's female student body, that I shouldn't learn with the boys because the only thing girls were good for is being uneducated housewives. (I wonder if she's the same way with her daughter?)
` I was kind of glad the first time I walked through the door of my sixth-grade class in Garfield, and found her sitting at the teacher's desk... and she told me in no uncertain terms to get out! What did I think I was doing? Going to school?
` Apparently, I wasn't enrolled in Garfield anymore, little did I know. Neither did my mom. So she found this little crappy 'retard school' on Remsen Road called C-FIT to send me to. Mr. Galbraith and his assistant, Mike Swanson, were two characters which greatly aggravated us kids to the point where people would have to sit on us!

My mom didn't know any of this for years either, until I told her that I ran into Dave Fowler from Mr G's class, and that he told me that they shut the school down for abusing the students. She was very shocked. She said; "No wonder you said you hated the teachers!"
` Yeah... all I'd told her about was how we weren't allowed outside for recess or anything all day, and that they'd make us sing along with a tape about stuff like 'And that's why there are no unicorns!' and... 'Kickin' down the cobblestones. (Da-da-da-dum!) Lookin' for fun, feelin' groovy! Hey there lamp-post, not so fast! (Da-da-da-dum!) Try to make the morning last!'
` Not to mention... my LEAST FAVORITE OF ALL:

You are my special friend, (Special friend!)
And when I think about what knowing you has meant,
I thank my lucky star (Wa-oo!)
That you are who you are! (Wa-oo!)
You are my...RRRRRGGGGHHH!!!

That kind of crap. Which is pretty aggravating in its own right.
` Anyway, even though my mom didn't know about the abuse at C-FIT, I was "home-schooled" after that.
` Good things: No more abusive teachers, just nice people - and some really annoying ones as well.
` Bad things: Dad, and Dad-related bull$&!# such as him saying there was a show on TV about me... myself... and how I thought there were cameras set up all around the house so he could watch me.

` (Well, I had
been on a hidden camera before and lied to about it, which Mr. G and Mike had laughed in my face about; plus, it is the kind of thing Jerry would have done if he didn't have to 'gettarountuit.')
` So for six years, I sat around all day while my parents were at work, thinking that they were somehow able to watch me from work or somewhere. I'd just sit there at my desk, screaming at the room, thinking I was getting through to them and then being disappointed when they'd 'ignore my pleas'.
` I'd be like; 'Well, that's just because they don't want me to know that I'm right about the cameras. Jerks!' The only time I ever left the house was when my mom would drive me to go 'socialize' in meetings like H.E.A.R.T.S. group, a homeschooler's book club, some other stupid thing that I guess was a book club at some time, and later, 4-H.
` Luckily, this boy named Phil went to all of those meetings, so I got to know him pretty well.
` I started going out with him when I was seventeen, when the roof was coming off my world and I needed a sane person to talk to about the level of insanity exhibited by PsychoDad.
` Phil had several stories of his own to share, mostly incidences where my dad would be spouting off utter insanity with a straight face. For example:

"So, Phil, you have sinus congestion? Maybe you have allergies... I have something you might try... See, before, I couldn't go outside and get things done because I was too stuffed up. But now, I take this; [places product on the table in front of him] Nasal-Crom: It changed my life!"

...Uh, yeah. Now do a Raisin Bran commercial!

Anyway, I have to go to a therapist in about six hours, no thanks to Jerry the Rat.

Just read everything above.
May I suggest that you have hardcopy of what you wrote. It needs a 'tad' organization, (re: which happened at which school)
Great reading. And, I can relate really well. I do know what it's like to be accused over and over and not be guilty. It's one of the reasons I am a recluse.
Hugs, ( and you know how many miles it is from here to there?) Geez. four days travel at break-neck speed-o.
Mucho' hugs

Dory | 04/04/2005, 02:03

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Unwholesome Extremists - Gotta Love 'em!

(Added March 20, 2013.)

I found out something strange today, just before I was about to call a friend of mine - we'll call him... 'Jonathan' for no particular reason - Phil received a phone call from a mutual friend who told us that I won't be allowed to call him anymore.
` At least, not until he moves out of his mom's house, which won't be in too long. Why? Because his mom just found out he's Agnostic - this is the first time I've ever heard about it explicitly myself, as I have never asked him his position on That Kind of Thing before, nor had we ever really talked about It. (Partly because of the danger of her picking up the phone.)
` But she's so certain that I had Something To Do With It (even though she doesn't even know me) that he's not allowed to answer the phone anymore.

` That's too bad, because he always looked forward so much to my calls.... he'd just wait by the phone. I don't blame him. I suppose he could call me, but only when his mom isn't home.

Well, it's not like she's mean - she's just Afraid.

Fear of Others Not Like You is a very sad thing when one is Unwholesomely Extreme. It's called Intolerance.

` Intolerance tends to spring from Ignorance.

For example; she once asked Phil, who at the time was in college; "Why does anyone study 'other' planets like Mars? They're just science fiction!" Okay... so that pink dot in the sky is a tiny little thing meant for Decorating the Sky?
` I could potentially see through this (thing that looks like a big hot water tank in a friend's hallway but is really a) huge telescope that Mars not only is spherical, but Saturn has rings and Jupiter has stripes, etc.
` If she had looked through this telescope, though, it would not have amounted to anything, really, as I would still have to be able to show her that the Earth is Round and Orbits a Gigantic Nuclear Reacter called The Sun. Not an easy task.

This is what I mean by Unwholesomely Extreme.

How did she get that way, you ask? Well, the above mutual friend has kindly explained to me the reason for this: When she was about two, her father, who was insane, took the wife and gaggle of kids out back to shoot them all. Luckily, a neighbor saw what was going on and stopped him.
` Needless to say, after that, her mother was all alone and had to adopt several of the kids out to Poor Amish People Who Abused Children. She was among those kids.

` Long Story Short, when she came back to Technology Land, she began going to high school. Since she could scarcely read or write - at the time, anyway - she was quickly laughed out and presumably never tried to Learn Anything again.
` Instead, her education seems to come from What the Bible Literally Says. This probably means that she would consider Phil (who, by the way, became a council member at his church just last Sunday) to be some type of Heathen. Jus' like 'Jonathan'!

What? We're all going to Hell, and she's not invited?

Seriously, though, that's just... Unwholesome. And... well, Extreme. Caging the poor boy.
` Not taking him to the doctor when he was too sick to walk that one time, insisting on praying for him... (Thank goodness it was just some kind of non-lethal food poisoning!) That type of thing.

` No wonder he got frustrated with religion, whenever that happened, but I'm fairly sure that's not the only reason... As for me, I have a completely different story. Maybe later.

Anyway, I feel the urge to go make a smoothie. Whee!

P.S. Sorry if I pissed anyone off, but any type of Unwholesome Extremism is Not My Thing, religious or not.

(At the end of this post I got a lot of spam, as usual... I hope I can keep it away on this blog!)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Tyrannosaurus Cells and Elephant Mimicry

(Added March 20, 2013.)

Since I barely know anyone who actually uses or even has e-mail, most of my e-mail comes from Nature Publishing Group. (You know, as in Nature, that major scientific journal that’s been publishing scientific papers for over 150 years?).
` Unsurprisingly, as I was going through my mail, which I never really finished doing because something about plant genetics was so weird I had to take a break, I found some stuff I hope you find interesting!

Cells of the Tyrant Lizard King!

Tyrannosaurus Stretch!

A Very Special Fossil from Montana has come to my attention: it's called MOR 1125! Also known as B-rex, a team led by Mary Schweitzer found that this Tyrannosaurus is more than just dead stone! After soaking its femur in a mineral-dissolving fluid, the material remaining was… stretchy! (Kinda like what happens when you pickle a chicken bone in vinegar.) Not only that, but antibodies which recognize collagen reacted to its chemical extracts!

When the team turned a microscope on this tissue - which had once lined the marrow cavity - they discovered that there are blood veins in it which branch in a similar manner to an ostrich’s. Also ostrich-like are its osteocytes, which had flexible waste-exchange extensions on the on the cell membranes and (suspected) oval-shaped nuclei.

There are also protein fragments; if these can be sequenced, it would shed some light onto what T. rex was like and how it was related to extant species. In addition, there are reddish-brown dots – possibly the remains of endothelial cell nuclei.

Even counting specimens like ‘Sue’ and the hunk of scaly skin impressions, this is about the most impressively-preserved T. rex specimen I’ve ever heard about!

[Update: These supposed remains of T. rex collagen and other cellular remains may be nothing more than bacterial biofilms lining the microstructure of the fossil.]

Dammit! Butter Cookies just Summoned Clippy again! I don’t even know how to do that! (Perhaps the trick is to stand on the keyboard, meowing…)

Parroting Elephants?

First, Elephants Wielding Paintbrushes – Now This!

It was just discovered that, like parrots and other birds, our Proboscidean Friends can think to mimic what they hear! For example, a male African Elephant named Calimero, who lives in Switzerland with two female Asian elephants, mimics his companions’ calls!
` Asian Elephants have a certain characteristic ‘chirp’ in their vocabulary, which is not heard in African Elephants – except him. (And probably others like him!) In other words; he has adopted some kind of Inter-Species Communications.

Meanwhile in Tsavo, Kenya, a female African Elephant named Mlaika imitates the sounds of trucks, which she grew up within earshot of.

UPDATE! I just went to the news@nature website to check out the weird thing with plant genetics, and I found that they also had an article on these elephants. (Elephants do impressions by Michael Hopkin.) Not only that, but it actually has a recording of Mlaika making a 'truck-call' - If I didn't know better, I'd say it was just a truck starting up!

But I doubt they'll have it up for long. The article also mentioned why this might be: Elephants, like many other species (most of them birds), may not have a fixed set of calls, but learn their calls from their parents, or even humans or trucks. (Parrots, after all, learn human speech in order to bond with their owners, just as they would learn other parrot calls to bond with other parrots.)

It is also well-known that family groups of some animals, like cetaceans, can be identified by their distinctive dialects - a type of cultural trait.
` Orcas, for example, have many cultural traits: Some pods stay put in one territory, mostly hunting fish. Others travel around the world as ocean nomads and specialize on prey like sea lions and seals. Some of these beach-going mammals have in turn learned to tell the difference between the distinctive calls of nomad pods (orcas which will actually slide up on the beach after them!) and the fish-eating locals.
` Orcas apparently teach each other to use their echolocation to stun fish, as well as how to pop a penguin out of its skin, depending on their particular lifestyle!

` Frankly, it would not surprise me if elephants, which seem to have a good understanding of friendship, social order, and even death, could learn vocalizations from one another. [After all, they are capable of learning various ways of finding food and water.]

In other, older news, Kanzi the Bonobo taught himself to verbally communicate, though no one took notice until they played back videos of him making odd grunting sounds... He is also getting better at making flint blades. I will probably write about him in the future. Now, I need to go to bed.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Introduction (To my SEO-blog, 'Land of the Big Wingy-Dingy')

[Added to Mad Science Writer on March 18, 2013.]

Hi, this is S E E Quine, the self-appointed Big Wingy-Dingy.

Of course, I have no idea what the Ramifications of This are, as I have no idea of what the office of Big Wingy-Dingy is.
` I’m Not a Very Happy Wingy-Dingy right now, though. I just worked for five hours Figuring Out a First Post here. And then Something Bad happened when I clicked on the Blog This! button; the post went Out of the Land of The Big Wingy-Dingy, so you see, it’s Sadly Gone.

I can tell you that it started with me stating that my name is known only to Those Who Are Brave Enough to Enter My Presence. One of Those was actually licking my fingers as I typed and saying; ‘Prrrrowww! Miaow! Yeauuurrrrr!’ and Similarly Carrying On.
` I explained that this was My New Pouncing, Pinkish Bundle of Allergens, Butter Cookies.
` I said that I would like to be a Good Sci-Fi author one day, one that has lots of Observations about the State of the World, without any Pseudoscience or Campiness.
` Then I announced that I would post many things of Pure Intellect which if I was Wrong About, one could Lambaste Me. 

` I often get them from the famous scientific journal, Nature, because they send me several E-Mails every day! (By the way, Butter Cookies thinks my fingers are absolutely delicious right now.)
Examples of Weird Things I would like to Talk About:

MEART: Besides being one of those deals where a bunch of brain cells is hooked up to a computer, it specifically has a camera and an arm by which it draws pictures of what it ‘sees.’ Disturbing!

Plasmonic covers: They’re really cool, but as large-scale invisibility shields, these things are Rather Disappointing in Visible Light.

VIRGOHI21: The Dark Matter Galaxy. Well something has to be hauling that nebula around!

Homo floresiensis: Bizarre mutant? No. Pygmy Homo erectus? No. Hobbit? Not really. Ebu Gogo? Somewhat plausible… [But only slightly more than 'Hobbit'.]

Also: What do I Think about Things? (Possibly much more interesting than it sounds.)

That’s what I like to share with people (and rarely ever do)!
` Then, after that, I went on to mention that my Laptop with my Sci-Fi novel on it was stolen one day, along with my diaries and all other imaginable personal belongings – underwear, photo album, bicycle – by a psychotic nut.
` He took them all the way across the country (from Ohio) to Las Vegas. The novel was the only thing I ever got back. Well, that was my only Future Resource Anyway, so I guess that turned out As Well as it Could Have.
` Then, I said that the obsessive lunatic who did it used to live with me in Medina, Ohio. Why? Because he was my dad!

I had written; ‘It explains why I rode the short bus to school.’

Then I noted that his incident fortunately marked the end of my childhood - as I was only eighteen at the time - and then, Things Got Better. After a few years, They Got Worse Again because I was tortured once and while imprisoned in a Place of Horrors afterwards, wondered if I would bleed to death, since being Cut to the Bone and then Not Being Allowed to see a doctor afterward makes one think that.
` It was a Very Grisly Episode, though, and I had written; you don’t need (and probably don’t want) to know any more right now, though I will mention that I have lots of Annoying Symptoms of Sorts such as moderate numbness all over my body (including places like my tongue, meaning I can’t taste very well), not to mention One Long Constant Headache.

Now I'm recovering from that, on top of Everything Else. Then in the post I described how - exactly a year after the Very Grisly Episode - my Katie-Kitty, my Happy-Cat, my Tabby-ssinian, took a road trip across the country with me. We toured several states, and she didn’t even flinch when she saw Old Faithful. My mom and her friend Rosie came along, too, because it was a Very Long Way for me to go just with my cat.
` I joked that my dad would be furious if he knew about this because he believes that they are two of several Evil Witches who cast Spells of Death on him. That’s probably why he sent Very Obvious Police Spies after my mom after she kicked him out.
` At the end of the trip, I'd said, I moved into a place in Everett, Washington. Why? Because there is a Great Guy Named Phil who also got a Great Job at Boeing just after he graduated from Ohio State. He had also been my boyfriend* for four years, so I followed him out there.
` What the heck?
` It’s been six months and we still haven’t killed each other, or really even gotten into a fight. From the first day I moved in, it was like we’d been married for several years - without the sex and everything! Not too long ago, we got an opportunity to Move Early Without Paying Fees because the Management had Screwed Up.
` We now live downtown, and in our backyard is Possession Sound. I was describing how I could see the beautiful sunset behind the Olympic Mountains, and the giant, glowing 72 of the USS Abraham Lincoln (which, not too long ago, had an F-18 on deck). Out front, above the seagull-teeming city, the moon was shining and Largely Full.

(Prior to this, however, Katie-Kitty had unfortunately Died Suddenly, being the sort of thing many fifteen-year-old cats do, just as we were about to pack up and move. She would have loved the seagulls! That’s why we have Butter Cookies now, who was just in here licking my hands again.)

I had also been wondering when Phil was going to come back from kite-flying at the beach when he came in the door and shortly made dinner. He said; ‘You won’t believe this, but I ruined Mexican!’ and I said; ‘I’ve still done it more times than you!’ and then we dug in, just the same. And no, I really don’t think he ruined it. I Ate it All!

If anyone can find something to Comment About, though probably not on this post, I will receive a sound-effect from my e-mail system every time that happens. So I will be Keeping an Ear out if Anyone Cares.
Solar Radiation and Narcissus sp.!

*under my definition, not his.
Indeed, the SEO Blog post received several comments:

Hey! Sa-ra, Sa-ra
Darn, I miss you mucho' bunches. And, I can't wait to read your out-of-this-world BLOG! (Guess I'd better hurry up before it takes me six months to follow the thread) Huh?
Putting your BLOG in "My Favorite Place" ( does that rate at Portnoy talk?) And, where IS my favorite place, you ask? . . .Tune in for more or less of the oldest vestial virgin's nonsensical nonsense regarding her harried,and ubiquitous thoughts of meanness and revenge. In the meantime, I hereby officially LAUNCH "THE LAND OF THE WINGY DINGY BLOG" (Gee, I wish I had a cookie)XO

D | 27/03/2005, 02:07

YOU DARE SPEAK MY NAME, Head Honcho of Writers Club! (It is only because you have an Impressive Title, like myself!) I shall speak YOUR NAME - DORY! Now everyone knows who you are! HA HA HA! And if you EVER CROSS ME, I shall refer to you as Dori - with an 'i'! Mua ha ha!
Seriously, though! How ya been? :D How's everybody? How's the property? How's the dogs? How's the festering? Thanks very much for the launch! I suppose you could have used a bottle of champagne, or at least cheap vodka to smash against it, but your way is better!
(And if you wish for cookies, at least you have Chrissy there.)
Keep being Cool and Weird! XO - Q

seequine | 27/03/2005, 10:02

The rest of the comments, however, consist of spam. And no crackers, either!