We don’t even seem to be aware of the mess we’re in

We have to rely on comedians to tell us the obvious.

And that’s because over the last seven years, because of the incompetence that goes by the name George Bush, we’ve become the most insecure, paranoid superpower ever. We don’t think we can get anything right anymore. We can’t take care of our own citizens after a hurricane, or plan for our wars, or maintain our infrastructure, and our celebrity rehab facilities obviously aren’t working at all.

Feminine complaints and masculine emissions

Tild uncovers a real treasure: a book from the heyday of patent medicines, full of advice specifically for women, and loaded with testimonials for Dr Pierce’s ‘prescription’. When you find out what was in the concoction, you’ll understand why all the accompanying photos show women looking both cheery and glazed.

The results were startling. Richardson’s Concentrated Sherry Wine Bitters had 47.5 percent alcohol; Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters, 44.3 percent; Boker’s Stomach Bitters, 42.6 percent; Parker’s Tonic, “purely vegetable,” 41.6 percent. Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound had relatively little—20.6 percent.

Bok saw a real problem. Women were doctoring themselves and their families with dangerous alcoholic nostrums. Temperance women were turning to “bitters” to cure their sluggishness. Pregnant women used “Doctor Pierce’s Favorite Prescription”, which contained digitalis, opium, oil of anise and alcohol (17 percent).

Ladies, go read it. You’ll get the impression that early 20th century women were all sick and diseased, and also all doped to the gills.

Gentlemen, though, might want to read another link Tild provides. Fellows, do you suffer from Spermatorrhea, or the emission of semen without intercourse? I get the distinct impression from that libertarian thread that there are many here who have not ejaculated healthily into a vagina in quite some time. This is bad news.

[Read more…]

Don’t worry, kids, Curry is just making it all up

Lots of people have been sending me this bad article from the Daily Mail, “Human race will ‘split into two different species'”. I don’t quite get it. This is the very same utter nonsense from Oliver Curry that came out at this same time last year.

Is this to be a yearly occurrence now? Every Halloween some newspaper will dredge up this bilge from the London School of Economics and try to horrify us with abominable pseudoscience masquerading as evolutionary biology?

Fun with Chlorine

Hi guys and gals, it’s been awhile since my last entry. Last week kept me very busy. In the midst of my late nights typing, I learned some fun things about chloride channels (for one of PZ’s exams.) I learned about their job of regulating cell volume and an appropriate cell-membrane charge.

One thing piqued my curiosity. The cell exterior has roughly 5 milliMolar [chloride – ], while the interior has 125 Molar [chloride – ]. The interior also has a negative charge. Despite all of those factors, the articles I read seemed to say that chloride would diffuse inward if the channels were to open. That is very weird, unless I’m missing something. Is there some very high concentration of a similar ion on the outside that is high enough to send chloride scurrying inward? If anyone has experience in this area, please chime in.

10262: the number creationists can’t write

What an amusing find: a grad level course taught by creationists that claims it is impossible to write out 10262 in decimal notation, which prompts Tiny Frog to immediately commit heresy by writing it out. You’ll burn in hell for that, Tiny Frog!

That’s not the only lunacy on the creationist page. Try these:

  • Probability experts point out that if the chances are greater than 1 in 1050, it will never happen.

  • There is absolutely no chance that the creation could have happened by chance (as you point out in your mathematical computations). Although, if there is theoretically a one in 10262 chance that the world could have happened this way, then in the everlasting eternity of time this (the current universe) could be that one in 10262 chance. In order for probability to be put in effect, there needs to be an actor. E.g., in order for a set of dice to come up snake eyes, someone needs to shake and throw them. If I place the dice on a table, what are the chances that I will get snake eyes? None. That is, none until someone acts on the dice. God needed to be present as an actor in the beginning or nothing could have happened.

  • The truth is that God made you and me. One day we will all give an account to Him of our lives. Why is it important to believe in the Creator and not in evolution? What impact will that have on our eternity?

  • Evaluation: Students will be monitored by teacher observation during the classroom discussion, group work and answering the appropriate questions. Reflection paragraphs will be collected. The teacher will try to determine the students’ new courage and ability to defend their belief in the Creator.

Right. This is what creationists consider to be good science.

Familiar joke

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before! Here is the setup:

Police say the 58-year-old Tester was wearing a denim miniskirt and offered to have sex with arresting officers.

Investigators say they found a half-empty bottle of vodka and an empty vial that had held prescription painkillers in Tester’s car.

And here’s the punchline.

Tester served as pastor of a Bristol area church and had worked for a local Christian radio station.

Yeah, I know, it’s getting so predictable it’s not even funny anymore.

Student Post: Neurochemicals’ Role in Gender

Hello again, it’s been a while so I thought I’d drop in a comment or two about what I’ve found recently in the news about neurobio. I’ve lately been reading about neurotransmitters and how they bind to sites in specific neurons, instigating depolarization across the membrane of the neuron and allowing for an action potential to communicate to hundreds of thousands of other neurons. This communication between neurons in the central nervous system is relayed into actions in the peripheral nervous system resulting in behavior. But how is this synchronized? What neuron does what? What must be connected to what and why? These are all questions that may take a while to be answered, but we are finding new developments everyday.

In an article from Cornell News, I read about an experiment by James Goodson and Andrew Bass (2000) in which neurotransmitters’ role in the display of sex characteristics in plainfin midshipman fish were examined. In this particular fish, males will make vocal calls through the water that attract females who will come to the site to lay eggs for the vocalizing male to fertilize. However, a second type of male that is unable to make vocal calls waits nearby so that once the eggs are laid, he can get some free-fertilization-action.

Goodson and Bass anesthetized and stimulated the anterior portion of the hypothalamus in each fish to stimulate either a vocal call, or the female’s short grunt (a response to the male’s call). After stimulating normal calls in each fish, the neurotransmitters isotocin and vasotocin (identical to the mammalian oxytocin and vasopressin) were administered to the anterior hypothalamus of each fish. When administered, fish that normally could make calls lost the ability to do so and developed female like grunts, similar to the type II males that could not call but rather grunted like females. This meant that a trait that was typically thought to be controlled by sex (controlled or linked by the gonads) was actually independent, and regulated completely by the brain.

Who knows how many of our traits are linked to gonad development, probably much fewer than we might originally think. If I was given a good dose of estrogen would I not want to play football or wrestle with my best friends?…doubtful (it might just turn into flag football with the Vikes or a pillow fight). At any rate, we shouldn’t be so quick to make judgment calls on biology’s effects in gender behavior.

In a previous life, I was…

The Bronze Dog got to be a “pirate chick with panache and a heart of gold”, but my past life analysis isn’t quite as interesting.

Your past life diagnosis:

I don’t know how you feel about it, but you were male in your last earthly incarnation.You were born somewhere in the territory of modern South China around the year 1000. Your profession was that of a builder of roads, bridges and docks.

Your brief psychological profile in your past life:
Revolutionary type. You inspired changes in any sphere – politics, business, religion, housekeeping. You could have been a leader.

The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation:
You are bound to solve problems of pollution of environment, recycling, misuse of raw materials, elimination of radioactivity by all means including psychological methods.

Do you remember now?

Wait…so I was a Chinese laborer with dreams of revolution, and therefore I now have the power to eliminate radioactivity with psychology?