1. says

    I’m reminded of the Mike Peters cartoon in which an unpleasant little boy is mouthing off at his teacher: “My algebra book didn’t mention God, so I burned it!”

    Some students will do anything to get out of homework.

  2. says

    The main difference between “modern” and “classical” cell theory is how the cells form.

    Classical: Cells form by free-cell formation.

    Modern: Cells form by division.


  3. says

    I remember when I was a kid, my grandfather read Doonsebury. I never got it and thought it was insufferably boring… but now I often think its hilarious. Despite the humour of the comic, sometimes I wish I was once again naive enough to not get it…

  4. Richard Harris says

    Being named Harris, I find this offensive. But I’m not quite sure why?

    Is this anything to do with Darwin’s ill considered gemmules? (You can’t blame him – it was the hot topic at the time.)

  5. Mike Fox says

    I digress: I hate, HATE when double helixes are portrayed without a major and minor groove. Our genetic information is not a twisted-up twisty tie!

  6. says

    I like how people are getting so pissy over the rendering of DNA in a cartoon.

    By the way, the prof looks very vaguely like Larry Moran, who’d probably be picky about it, too.

  7. says

    “I like how people are getting so pissy over the rendering of DNA in a cartoon.”

    It’s also backwards (left-handed) in the first panel! But as a medical artist I have the right and duty to notice these things!

  8. Mentat says

    I’m in need of some education here. How is the cartoonist’s depiction not a double-helix? I see 2 helices. What is DNA supposed to look like? Many diagrams of DNA on the web look similar. What am I missing?

  9. Bouncing Bosons says

    Let me see if I understand this major/minor groove thing correctly: the second helix is not out of phase with the first by pi as one might naively expect, but offset by some other phase so that a 2-d projection shows crossings above (major groove) and below (minor groove) the long axis. Is this what is meant by that? Also, by how much are the two helices offset in terms of phase or fraction of a (suitably defined) “wavelength”?

  10. says

    I’ve tried to remember to use Bush administration answers at work whenever possible.

    Boss: “That report done yet? You’ve been working on it for six years.”
    Me: “It’s a success that hasn’t occurred yet.

    Boss: “That project you were in charge of was the biggest cock-up in the history of this company. What do you have to say for yourself?”
    Me: “Mistakes were made.”

    Boss: “Have you been enjoying the company health care plan?”
    Me: “I’m not an astronaut, but I think I know what the challenges of space are.”

  11. Sven DiMilo says

    Alternate answer, slightly more acceptable: “Doggonnit, I’ll go that and bring it back to ya! *wink*”

  12. Epistaxis says

    Is this a history-of-science class, or does Trudeau really think biology consists of memorizing what people thought 150 years ago (like the humanities)?

  13. Q says

    Tony Sidaway (4) This has made Palin and McCain vulnerable to charges of dodging awkward questions by claiming that they’ve been ambushed by the “liberal media” (ie just about anybody with an education level high enough to make them a mainstream journalist).

    Which intestingly includes Sarah Palin herself. Her degree is a BS in communication-journalism from the University of Idaho, and she was also a television reporter in Anchorage. It’s just that she’s of the west coast media, so maybe that excludes her from her own statemetns?

  14. says

    Not only is the DNA model in the first panel the wrong handedness, but check out the nose on the student in the last panel! Is he wearing some kind of weird prosthetic tube on his face?

  15. recovering catholic says

    Thanks for saying you didn’t get it, Matt, and thanks for the explanation, Tony. This is a tough group! Though I’ve taught community college biology for years, I guess there are important holes in my knowledge as I can’t bring myself to watch TV…

  16. Rey Fox says

    Another headline from the MSNBC ticker today quoted a McCain aide saying McCain could still win Virginia because he’s popular in the “real Virginia.” And these assholes call us elitist.

  17. Nerd of Redhead says

    The two different DNA handedness is something Trudeau has often done with his backgrounds. He does it to amuse himself, and maybe the reader.

  18. Kalirren says


    Yes, the cartoonist -has- drawn a double helix. But it’s still inaccurate. The two issues with that cartoon are 1) that the helix turns the wrong way in the first panel (DNA in the form it is most often found in living organisms is “right-handed,” meaning that it turns clockwise as you go up the helix like the one in the second panel) and 2) that the two strands of the helix are spaced equally in both panels (DNA as it is found has the two strands spaced some three-tenths of a turn apart, not half-way.) This means that one of the “grooves” between the two helices is bigger than the other one, hence “major” groove and “minor” groove.

  19. Bob Munck says

    “It’s also backwards (left-handed) in the first panel!”

    Trudeau has trouble telling his left from his other left. Wristwatches often switch from one arm to the other between panels. The problem with getting shoes on wrong is probably the reason he didn’t draw feet for the first 30 years. I’m keeping my eye (right eye) open for BD’s prosthesis to switch from one leg to the other.

  20. Yeti's Pharmacist says

    I don’t “get it”, either, but then I only “get” Doonesbury about 5% of the time.

  21. says

    Liberals- completely missing the point since 1917.

    Its reasons like this the neo-cons and the religeous right do so well. Cartoonist makes a point that the candidate for VP is unable to answer simple questions, with excuses that would not be acceptable in school, and what gets people worked up- the fact someone so ill informed could be a ‘heartbeat way’ from the Oval Office? No, its a minor mistake in a CARTOON. Gah. NO-ONE will ever point to this and say ‘But Doonesbury had the DNA like this’. Meanwhile the Right go ahead without examining every nut and bolt.

  22. truth machine, OM says

    The cartoonist has hardly caught him at his best.

    Moran doesn’t show his best to just anybody.

    Its reasons like this the neo-cons and the religeous right do so well.

    Yeah, they’re doing great; their favorables must be well over 1%.

    What “liberals” are you talking about? The people commenting here about DNA are biologists, and apparently somewhat clueless about current political events (anyone with a clue would at least have gotten the “thanks but no thanks” reference).

  23. says

    their favorables must be well over 1%.

    I wasn’t talking about now- when we are watching the Right pulling up the drawbridge behind McCain like Denethor behind Faramir (oh – how geeky am I!) I’m talking in general. Lets relate it to one of this sites main themes- ID. Time and again biologists win the arguments, and give the Creationists a metaphorical kicking. So how come its on the march on your (US) side of the pond?

    Because if Doonesbury did a cartoon criticising ID, AiG DI etc would go after the main thrust of the cartoon, ignoring any internal differences, while the posters here would be sat writing angry posts how the fossil shown was completely wrong for the Triassic. And guess who would get heard. Trudeau though ‘Biology Class room- I’ll stick one of those helix things in’ He wasn’t trying to write a science book.

    Now I know that this site is Godless UnAmerican Liberals, and so this thread will affect no-one. BUT as you say

    “apparently somewhat clueless about current political events ”

    Which is the problem- AiG etc AREN’T. So instead of discussing how ill informed Palin is, we are arguing about a mistake in a cartoon.

    Remember the scene in Life of Brian about the Judean Popular Front – SPLITTERS. That was a lambasting of the Left and its inability to put up a united front. If I started a Blog thread:

    “In Life of Brian the scene where Brian joins the Judean People’s Front was about the divisions of the liberal and left wing. What could be done to unite against the threat of the Religeous Right?”

    I’d end up with a majority of the posts about how it was the “People’s Front of Judea”, and mistakes about the representation of Jewish resistance to the Romans (plus probably a couple about the graffitti scene Latin).

    Meanwhile, in the absence of opposition, Global overheating deniers would happily be letting Oil companies Drill Baby Drill, and ID would come up at more school boards- “Of course there is controversy- they don’t even agree about evolution among themselves!”

  24. Nemo says

    The basic point of the cartoon is obvious. Yay, good job Trudeau, we get it. That’s no reason people can’t comment on other aspects of it. To jump from that to “liberals missing the point” is absurd.

  25. Colonel Molerat says

    I have to say… I’ve been baffled by this whole ‘major/minor’ groove thing… Luckily, I found a website that explained it through K’nex (great way to make me feel stupid, having to use toys for me)…
    But can someone just explain if I’ve got this right? I’ll say what I think it means, using very lay language.
    Because the side bits of the DNA do not twist around each other on directly ‘opposite’ sides, but actually ‘follow’ each other a little closer than that, then in a full 360-degree twist, there will be a big gap along one or the other side (major groove), followed by a little gap along that side (minor groove) – each 180-degree turn alternates between taking up a long vertical (if DNA is standing on end) distance and a short one. Is that right?
    I’m a drop-out art (well, sociology…) student thinking about taking biology at university, but have no science education since 16 (21 now), so not sure how possible it is…