They’re like knitters, wrapping skeins, and bearing poisoned knitting needles

It was another morning in the lab, and as usual, I implemented my new feeding regimen. Previously, I was feeding the juveniles two flies, twice a week. I am now feeding them two flies, every day, and they are still avid and greedy and leaping right onto their prey. I feel guilty, like I must have been starving them. This also means more work for me in the future, but hey, it’s hardly working, and the customers at my restaurant are so appreciative.

I include a photo of one of the feeding spiders. There’s a lot of motion blur in the hind limbs because that’s what they use to draw out silk and wrap around the fly. She was whirring away pretty fiercely there!

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Don’t slack off now!

I know, we’ve got vaccines now, and over 90 million people, about 35% of the US population, have been vaccinated. The rates of infection and death have been generally declining, so people are getting cocky and dropping their guard. But it’s not over yet.

A year after becoming a global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, New York and New Jersey are back atop the list of U.S. states with the highest rates of infection.

Even as the vaccination campaign has ramped up, the number of new infections in New Jersey has crept up by 37% in a little more than a month, to about 23,600 every seven days. About 50,000 people per week in New York are testing positive for the virus, a number that hasn’t much changed since mid-February.

The current infection rates are higher than they were in March of last year, when we were so worried that we went into lockdown. Well, some of us, anyway — too many people ignored the warnings and we had a massive spike in December/January. I guess we’re forgetting that, too, and just getting used to the ongoing risk.

Hey, state governors: when the infections decline, that’s a sign that your current policies are working. It doesn’t mean it’s time to open up all the bars and slow dance with strangers. When you go golfing, do you stop the club the instant you hit the ball, or do you follow through? Stay the course, everyone, for at least a few months more.

Experts worry the public is getting the message that increased vaccination means the state is in the clear, even though only a fraction of the public has completed a full course. Vaccines lessen the risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19, but scientists are still studying how well they prevent the spread of the virus.

“To allow larger groups to gather, to give the message to the public that we’re over the worst and that we can go back to normal is a mistake,” Farber said.

Stony Brook University professor and neuroepidemiologist Sean Clouston said growth in new cases is concentrated in younger people, who can’t get vaccinated in New York unless they have specific health conditions or certain jobs. He said their infection rates could drop once they’re eligible, too.

My grandkids are not vaccinated yet, so I’m going to take it personally if you won’t act responsibly. Also, you just know there are a significant number of demented dingleberries who are going to refuse the vaccination no matter what, and they’re going to lurk among our citizenry as a reservoir of disease.

We live on Stupid World

I never got the appeal of that Jeopardy game show. The questions were mostly shallow trivia — you didn’t have to be particularly smart to answer most of them, and the gimmick of having to answer in the form of a question was the most superficial of contrivances, leading to tortured language in generating both the answers and the questions. I was unimpressed, the few times I saw it.

The game host died a while back, so they’ve added a new level of gimmickry: guest hosts! And who do they pick?

“Dr.” Oz. That quack.

To their credit, maybe, past contestants have petitioned the show’s producers to not do that, because Oz is just a bad human being. It might also be because they’ve been under the illusion that appearing on Jeopardy meant you were a clever dick, and this decision might actually expose the scam.

In other news about the decline of intellectual life in the world, Jordan Peterson and Elon Musk have been twittering back and forth about appearing on a podcast together to massage each others’ egos. I’m cringing already. Never forget, this is what Peterson thought was worth publishing in his book, Maps of Meaning.

Fine. You had a weird dream, Peterson. What kind of narcissist thinks that constitutes an academic discussion, let alone that it has “meaning”? People actually think Jordan Peterson is a brilliant guy!

Conspiracy theorists are getting desperate

The conspiracy theories are never going to end. Here’s a new one:

Right. The big ship snarling up the Suez Canal right now is the Evergreen; Jen Psaki founded a company called Evergreen Consulting; therefore…? They don’t say. The feeble connection is enough. Here, let me help you out, loons. Washington is also nicknamed the Evergreen State; it’s liberal and voted for Biden. Evergreen State College is the hyper-liberal college that drove beloved IDW professors Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying away. “Revenger” is an anagram of “Evergreen”, with only one “e” left over. Green is the color of envy, and everyone knows the Demonrats are jealous of Trump. Therefore, Joe Biden owns a container ship that he’s using to confound global trade.

How about another one? The QAnon kooks are very excited about a video artifact that seems to show Joe Biden’s hand passing through a reporter’s microphone, which they say means he was a green screen projection (“green” makes another appearance!). It was just a common glitch, a trick of perspective, but Jack Posobiec, that fucking loon, and Nick Fuentes, that evil racist clown, have declared that it means Biden wasn’t actually there: he was a deepfake or projected digital avatar…which sounds like an awful lot of work to go through to record a guy talking to a group of reporters, who also recorded the “incident” from multiple camera angles.

Now these deranged fanatics are endlessly rewatching a 10-second clip of Biden, dissecting it frame by frame, and breathlessly noting things like a mole appearing on Biden’s right hand that wasn’t there before. They’re declaring now that it was either a digital model or recorded body double of Joe Biden, which means that Biden is actually dead, or never existed, but is definitely not the president, and he’s a puppet controlled by the New World Order, or maybe by Trump, they really aren’t sure.

I want you to know I sure turned up a lot of bizarre websites, which I will not be linking to, in order to find out if there actually are people promoting such patent nonsense. There are. Also, I have now wrecked my search engines and am getting a lot of extremely strange ads, so that was all a big mistake on my part. I should have gone incognito to scout these things out.

By the way, another peculiarity: the majority of the conspiracy theory sites I saw are also packed full of Bible quotes. Religion sure is the mother of bad, lazy thinking.

Tekporn, and a spider

Something for everyone! In the last spider zen thread, I showed off my collection of junk optics, and someone mentioned Tektronix oscilloscopes. I have those, too! Two of them!

These are relics of my old days, when I spent my day punching teeny-tiny electrodes into teeny-tiny neurons. I wasn’t a hard core electrophysiologist, I was mainly interested in delicately poking in without killing the cells so I could fill them up with interesting probes that glowed all kinds of garish colors. I brought them here with me with the idea of using them in neuroscience classes, but it turns out that you need all kinds of other infrastructure to do neurobiology of that sort right, which a small liberal arts college lacks (unless you’ve got a core of several faculty who were interested in building that infrastructure, which we didn’t have — I was alone.)

Anyway, these almost certainly don’t work anymore. They were old and finicky when I was using them, and they’ve been neglected for 20 years.

But who cares? Here’s a spider.

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