We need an Atheist Jonas Brothers?

PZ wants to know where the teeny bopper atheist songs are? Look no further. If I could sing better than Rock Band karaoke I’d make a video. If anyone with talent wants to sing it, be my guest:

To the tune of the Jonas Brother’s SOS (yes I have the song and had to listen to it over and over again to do this, shut up, it’s addictive)

FSM

Told you I made dinner plans
For you and me and someone else
Have you met my noodley friend?
Well I’m done
With pretending to be apart of your
congregation

Oohh this is the FSM.
Please don’t you condemn
Makes as much sense as God
It’s true
He made the mountain for you
And the midgit too

See the decline of pirates on this graph?
Cause global warming – now don’t laugh
Better believe I’ve been
Touched by his appendage

So this is where the story ends
Linking you to talk.origins
Well I’m done with texting
Learn something about evolution

Oohh this is the FSM.
Please don’t you condemn
Makes as much sense as God
It’s true
He made the mountain for you
And the midgit too

See the decline of pirates on this graph?
Cause global warming – now don’t laugh
Better believe I’ve been
Touched by his appendage

Next time I see you
Don’t tell me I’m going to hell
Because I don’t believe in it LOL

Oohh this is the FSM.
Please don’t you condemn
Makes as much sense as God
It’s true
He made the mountain for you
And the midgit too

Oohh this is the FSM.
Please don’t you condemn
Makes as much sense as God
It’s true
He made the mountain for you
And the midgit too

See the decline of pirates on this graph?
Cause global warming – now don’t laugh
Better believe I’ve been
Touched by his appendage

His appendage

His noodley appendage

Swine flu? Kill the piggies!

Whenever you have outbreaks of mysterious, potentially deadly diseases, it’s extremely important to stay rational and not overreact. For example, you can see Egypt’s extremely logical decision to slaughter all 300,000 of its pigs.

Aside from the obvious point that we have human to human transmission now, so new infection from pigs isn’t exactly the problem…but how do they think actively slaughtering all of their pigs is actually going to reduce contact with pigs? Doesn’t the act of slaughtering actually increase contact with pigs? Since you kind of need to touch them in order to chop them up and all?

I feel bad that so many animals are going to die because a government decides to overreact about a situation. Yes, they would have eventually been killed for food anyway. And the government is still allowing the farmers to sell the pork meat…but is anyone going to actually buy it? Look at the economics of the issue – it’s all about supply and demand (the one thing I remember from AP Econ!). Suddenly there’s going to be insane amount of pork in the market, with very low demand. 90% of Egypt is Muslim and can’t eat pork anyway, the other 10% are probably silly enough to think you can get swine flu from eating pork or will probably just be sick of eating pork for every meal of the day. These farmers are going to have to give the stuff away. Not only is it a waste of piggie life, but it’s a waste of money to the farmers.

I wonder if the decision has any direct ties to religion. Maybe an extremely Muslim nation doesn’t care as much about killing a dirty animal they can’t eat and that’s only raised by the non-Muslim minority.

I also wonder if this means bacon will be on sale. That would be about the only perk of this whole swine flu scare. Mmmm bacon.

Yay real life

Just as a warning, blog posts may be a little sparse the next couple of days. I have papers to review and answer questions about for genetics, physics homework, papers to review for extra credit in psychology, and a giant ass programming project that I haven’t really worked on yet. On top of that, I’m getting sick. My throat is sore and my left tonsil has started turning delightful colors, and I pretty much feel like crap. Hooray. I’ll let you know if I start oinking.

I was going to scan some doodles for you, but my scanner has apparently decided to die, so no fun doodles for you. Sorry.

Now if you excuse me, I’m going to go attempt to trudge through my homework. Now I know why they call it “Dead Week.”

Teaching!

Looks like I’m definitely going to be a TA next semester! It’s exciting and a bit frightening at the same time. Both of my parents are retired teachers, so I’ve always been curious to do some teaching of my own. I really enjoy explaining biological concepts to people, and I feel like I’m good at telling what’s confusing people. I figure this will be great experience since I’ll probably have to do it in grad school, and hopefully I’ll love it like I think I would. Otherwise I may have to rethink my life goal of professor-dom. Or I can be one of those jerk professors who are all about research and begrudgingly teach classes, but that’s kind of sad.

The class is the Cell Structure and Function Laboratory. Hell yeah, doesn’t that sound fascinating? It’s the fall sophomore lab everyone is required to take. I didn’t want to teach the little freshmen who knew absolutely nothing, and this class was actually pretty good when I took it. It’s also not too mentally strenuous. Basically you set up your gel, sit around while your gel is running, and then interpret your gel. Oh, and a lot of stuff with hemoglobin and peroxidase isoenzymes. Exciting stuff.

I just hope I’m a good TA. I don’t want to be the jerk or the confused one who comes off as being really stupid. I want to be the cool TA, the one that actually remembers your name and jokes with you and is useful. Oi. And then the fear settles in that I’m being trusted with a new generation of scientists… As long as I don’t spill ethidium bromide all over them, I’m probably okay.

Natural Sexuality

“Alright everybody, quiet down, we’re going to get started,” grumbled Lion. He glared at the menagerie in front of him, squawking and snorting away obliviously. “I SAID QUIET!” he roared. The crowd was silenced and turned wide-eyed to the speaker. “Ahem. Thank you. I’d like to welcome all of you to the second meeting of the Animal Association of Family Values. First off-“

“Wait a second,” piped Bear, “who the heck voted you king of the jungle?”

Tarsier rolled his eyes, which was quite spectacular and frightening to those around him. “Maybe if you weren’t hibernating through our last meeting…”

“Enough, enough,” grumbled Lion. Everything always took ten times longer at inter-species meetings. “Let’s just get down to business, shall we? The topic for today is humans – or Homo sapiens – and their-” he paused to sneer distastefully- “unnatural “heterosexual monogamy” business.”

“Oh come on,” whined Albatross, “are we still going on about that? There are plenty of examples of monogamy across the animal kingdom. 90% of birds are monogamous!”

Bear whispered under his breath, “Only 3% of mammals.”

Albatross huffed. “You mammalists! Really.”

“Oh come on, Albatross,” said Lion. “We all know that’s not entirely true. Only a tiny fraction of birds are actually sexually monogamous. You guys just can’t help getting some on the side. And wasn’t there even a new study that lesbian child rearing pairs are highly prevalent in Albatross?”

“…Maybe,” Albatross blushed, sinking back into the crowd.

“Anyway,” continued Lion, “it has become apparent to the Association that this human deviancy is out of control. It’s simply not natural compared to the mating habits of the rest of the animal kingdom. Well-” he corrected, feeling Albatross’s glare, “it’s not the majority at least. And we all know the most common habits are the best. And even if it is found in other animals, that doesn’t make it right! Look at how quickly they’re out breeding us! The resources they waste on frivolous wedding ceremonies! The anguish they cause themselves feeling like they’re forced to stay with their partner for a lifetime! Why, we’re doing them a favor to point out the error in their ways.”

Bear grumbled. “So what do you suggest we actually do about it?”

Lion stroked his mane proudly. He already saw this question coming. “Well, first we should define what exactly it is we find natural. That way the humans know how to act properly. For example, polygyny is the most common mating system in vertebrates. I have to mate with my many lionesses thousands of times a week, whether they like it or not. Humans? Once a week, maybe if they’re lucky, and with only one female!”

“Woah there,” piped Marmoset. “What about polyandry? Us girls are allowed multiple mates too!”

Please,” huffed Dwarf Mongoose. “Why are we talking like everyone should get the chance to mate, anyway? Only the dominants should reproduce! I don’t even let my subordinate females ovulate!”

Bonobo grabbed Marmoset and Mongoose in a big hug. “Can’t we all just get along? I mean, we have sex regardless of gender to solve disputes! Doesn’t that sound great?”

Tarsier sneered. “Maybe if you hippies would have watched your cousin a little closer we wouldn’t be having this discussion!”

“Now, now,” muttered Lion, trying to regain order as it looked like Bonobo was about to burst into tears. “Maybe we shouldn’t just focus on mating systems. Like, what’s with all this step parenting business? They should kill all the previous cubs – er, children – when they start a relationship!”

“Ha!” laughed Praying Mantis. “Just kill the children? Why, the women should kill the male! What a good meal they’re missing out on, letting all that meat go to waste. They only need him for his sperm anyway! So illogical.”

Lion frowned nervously. “Well, I don’t know about that-“

“Pshh, why need men at all?” said Whiptail Lizard. “Parthenogenesis works perfectly fine for us!”

Tarsier rolled his eyes again. “Who invited the feminists?”

“Why is it always about females anyway?” piped Seahorse, floating in a small pool for the aquatic animals. The Animal Association of Family Values didn’t discriminate across taxa. “Males should be the ones who give birth! Female birth is just weird.”

“Yeah, but only if they keep their young on their back,” said Giant Water Bug.

“Or in their stomach,” croaked Platypus Frog, burping up a tadpole.

Fig Wasp buzzed excitedly around Lion’s head. “And why do humans have an age of consent? My sons will mate with my daughters before they’re even born!”

“Consent?” Mallard Duck looked around confused. “What’s that? You mean you don’t just go around raping your females?”

Beg Bug giggled excitedly. “I do. I’ll stab my junk through their abdomen if I have to! They call it “traumatic insemination,” but you know they’re just asking for it.”

“Hell, I don’t even care if they’re dead, I’ll still do ‘em,” croaked Cane Toad. Many of the animals blanched.

“You’re all nuts!” cried Fungus in the back. “Why do you only have two sexes anyway? Why, some of my cousins have hundreds!”

“What the hell are you doing here, Fungus? You’re not even an animal!” snarled Lion.

“Animalists!” cried Fungus, and slowly oozed away.

“Look,” sighed Lion, exasperated at the animals’ squabbling. “Maybe we should put this off until next month’s meeting, when we’ve had more time to think about it. We can still agree that heterosexual monogamy is unnatural, right?”

“Right!”

“Alright. Let’s just leave it at that for now and move on to our next topic. So our boycott of Papa John’s is going well…”

The evolution of penises

Or whangs, if you’d prefer.

There’s a scientifically interesting and delightfully anti-arousing article over at Scientific American with an overview of why human penises are how they are. Even if you think evolutionary psychology is a load of arm chair philosophizing bunk (which it sometimes is), you can at least extract some immature giggles from this one. And honestly, he does a decent job at pointing out some of the drawbacks and limitations of evo psych. But wait, these researchers actually did an experiment on the “semen displacement hypothesis” instead of just sitting around and thinking!

“The researchers selected several sets of prosthetic genitals from erotic novelty stores, including a realistic latex vagina sold as a masturbation pal for lonely straight men and tied off at one end to prevent leakage, and three artificial phalluses. The first latex phallus was 6.1 inches long and 1.3 inches in diameter with a coronal ridge extending approximately .20 inches from the shaft. The second phallus was the same length, but its coronal ridge extended only .12 inches from the shaft. Finally, the third phallus matched the other two in length, but lacked a coronal ridge entirely. In other words, whereas the first two phalluses closely resembled an actual human penis, varying only in the coronal ridge properties, the third (the control phallus) was the bland and headless horseman of the bunch.”

“Hey honey, how is grad school going? Research okay?” “Uh…yeah, it’s great, Mom.” “Do anything interesting today? What exactly are you studying again?” “Um…human…behavior. Yeah.” “That’s nice sweetie. So when you’re a doctor you can write us prescriptions, right?” “…I’m not going to be that kind of doctor, Mom.”

And then he proceeds to jump off a bridge.

Anyway, it gets better:

“Next, the authors borrowed a recipe for simulated semen from another evolutionary psychologist, Todd Shackleford from Florida Atlantic University, and created several batches of seminal fluid. The recipe “consisted of .08 cups of sifted, white, unbleached flour mixed with 1.06 cups of water. This mixture was brought to a boil, simmered for 15 minutes while being stirred, and allowed to cool.””

What did I learn during my PhD? How to make fake semen! Comes in handy more often than you’d think!

“In a controlled series of “displacement trials,” the vagina was then loaded with semen, the phalluses were inserted at varying depths (to simulate thrusting) and removed, whereupon the latex orifice was examined to determine how much semen had been displaced from it. As predicted, the two phalluses with the coronal ridges displaced significantly more semen from the vagina (each removed 91 percent) than the “headless” control (35.3 percent). Additionally, the further that the phalluses were inserted—that is to say, the deeper the thrust—the more semen was displaced. When the phallus with the more impressive coronal ridge was inserted three fourths of the way into the vagina, it removed only a third of the semen, whereas it removed nearly all of the semen when inserted completely. Shallow thrusting, simulated by the researchers inserting the artificial phallus halfway or less into the artificial vagina, failed to displace any semen at all. So if you want advice that’ll give you a leg up in the evolutionary arms race, don’t go West, young man—go deep.”

Indeed, sir. Indeed.

Seriously, the idea of a bunch of grad students pumping together two sex toys filled with flour semen paste is the most ridiculous image in my mind. There’s no way any human being could have done this with a straight face. I would like to see a psychological study on just how fucking awkward and hilarious that situation must have been.

I’m not sure if I would be overjoyed or mortified if my job as a grad student was to pick out suitable sex toys and then see which scoop out fake semen best. It would sure make a good bar story, at least. I’d have all the guys.

Welcome to my home, under a rock

Oi. It’s probably a bad thing that I hadn’t even hear of the whole “swine flu” thing until I read xkcd this morning. “Wtf is swine flu?” I asked, but had to run to class. And then the blogosphere exploded about it.

Yeaaahh, I admit it, I’m a bad college student sometimes. I was much more up on current events when I was in high school, because we’d watch the news at dinner. Now I kind of live in my little bubble. At least I know I’ll eventually find out important things through my blogs, albeit a little late. Hopefully there’s never a 24 hour evacuation notice for West Lafayette, or I’m doomed.

I'm just made of cooking failure lately

Last night I decided to cook one of my favorite dishes that actually has vegetables in it make up for all of the horrible things I’ve been eating lately. My dad’s tomato asparagus pasta is delicious and really simple to make. Well, in theory. I’ve made it plenty of times before, but this time I accidentally added 1 Tbsp parsley and 1/4 cup oregano…instead of 1 Tbsp oregano and 1/4 cup parsley.

That is way too much fucking oregano.

It was so disgusting to attempt to eat, like munching on pure oregano, that I had to throw my pasta, veggies and all, back in the strainer and rinse it off. I know I was probably rinsing away all other sorts of seasonings and delicious juices, but it was better than oregano mulch. It’s decent now, but not as delicious as usual. Sigh.

Though as a perk, it seems my original terrifying run in with the pie was mostly a fluke. I took one for the team and ate most of the pie in the name of science, and I’ve yet to have a similar reaction. See, this is why it’s good to test your hypotheses! Otherwise I would have thrown away a perfectly good pie.

In case any of you are brave enough to try to pie yourself, here’s the recipe. I promise it won’t induce stomach aches as a long as you actually use unspoiled ingredients:

Jen’s Dangerous Peanut Butter Pie

1 prepared chocolate cookie pie crust
About 6 heaping spoonfuls of creamy peanut butter
8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
½ cup sugar
12 oz. container of Cool Whip
1 11.75 oz jar Smucker’s Hot Fudge Ice Cream Topping

In a medium bowl, mix together the peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar. Gently fold in 3 cups whipped topping. Spoon mixture into the pie shell. Using a spatula, smooth mixture to edges of pie. Place hot fudge into microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup. Microwave for 20 seconds (or maybe longer, depending on your microwave). Spread hot fudge over pie to cover the peanut butter layer. Place in freezer for about an hour, then refrigerate afterwards. If you want to make it look fancy, just before serving, spread the remaining whipped topping over hot fudge layer, being careful not to mix the two layers, and drizzle a design with left over hot fudge.

Note: I always tend to make too much filling, so then my hot fudge wants to overflow, so either make a little less filling or pour the hot fudge in first and then the peanut butter filling on top. Or create a delicious mess like me.

I’m just made of cooking failure lately

Last night I decided to cook one of my favorite dishes that actually has vegetables in it make up for all of the horrible things I’ve been eating lately. My dad’s tomato asparagus pasta is delicious and really simple to make. Well, in theory. I’ve made it plenty of times before, but this time I accidentally added 1 Tbsp parsley and 1/4 cup oregano…instead of 1 Tbsp oregano and 1/4 cup parsley.

That is way too much fucking oregano.

It was so disgusting to attempt to eat, like munching on pure oregano, that I had to throw my pasta, veggies and all, back in the strainer and rinse it off. I know I was probably rinsing away all other sorts of seasonings and delicious juices, but it was better than oregano mulch. It’s decent now, but not as delicious as usual. Sigh.

Though as a perk, it seems my original terrifying run in with the pie was mostly a fluke. I took one for the team and ate most of the pie in the name of science, and I’ve yet to have a similar reaction. See, this is why it’s good to test your hypotheses! Otherwise I would have thrown away a perfectly good pie.

In case any of you are brave enough to try to pie yourself, here’s the recipe. I promise it won’t induce stomach aches as a long as you actually use unspoiled ingredients:

Jen’s Dangerous Peanut Butter Pie

1 prepared chocolate cookie pie crust
About 6 heaping spoonfuls of creamy peanut butter
8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
½ cup sugar
12 oz. container of Cool Whip
1 11.75 oz jar Smucker’s Hot Fudge Ice Cream Topping

In a medium bowl, mix together the peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar. Gently fold in 3 cups whipped topping. Spoon mixture into the pie shell. Using a spatula, smooth mixture to edges of pie. Place hot fudge into microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup. Microwave for 20 seconds (or maybe longer, depending on your microwave). Spread hot fudge over pie to cover the peanut butter layer. Place in freezer for about an hour, then refrigerate afterwards. If you want to make it look fancy, just before serving, spread the remaining whipped topping over hot fudge layer, being careful not to mix the two layers, and drizzle a design with left over hot fudge.

Note: I always tend to make too much filling, so then my hot fudge wants to overflow, so either make a little less filling or pour the hot fudge in first and then the peanut butter filling on top. Or create a delicious mess like me.

As if Wikipedia wasn't addictive enough…

Micek’s Tumblelog points out the fun and addictive nature of playing 6 degrees of separation using Wikipedia. The object of the game is to pick two random articles and see who can connect them using the fewest links. The game makes sense, since the nature of Wikipedia is to start looking up avacados and ending up reading about the bubonic plague. My friend and I have been playing against each other. For example:

Robert Hawkins > Pennsylvania > Lehigh University > Anthropology > Paleoanthropology > GHR von koenigswald > NG 6

For shits and giggles, let’s see who can get from Avacado to Bubonic Plague in the shortest amount of steps.

EDIT: Holy crap you guys are too good. That’s what happens when I don’t pick truly random articles. Ok, have a challenge:

Battle of Montreal to Barangay Health Volunteers, Phillippines