Daily Archives: May 24, 2009

Fallen Warriors

One of the things that struck me in travels through Scotland and the Canadian Maritimes was the monument in every town. Most of them were tiny, just a handful of names from each war-not because few died, but because the town was that small. The memorial at Edinburgh Castle, on the other hand, is of a scale and a simplistic majesty that imposes awe, a trick more church designers would like to have up their sleeves, I imagine.

Whatever the size, most memorials are central and public and impossible to overlook. That isn’t something we do well here.

Read the rest here at Quiche Moraine

An important role for junk DNA????

Junk DNA is like bigfoot. If a zoologist says something like “Hmmm… it would be cool to find bigfoot” all the other zoologists jump on him or her, drag the poor sap into the alleyway, toss on a blanket, and beat the scientist with rubber hoses until the movement stops. Same with junk DNA. If you mention that junk DNA may have a use or a role or something …. INTO THE ALLY WITH YOU!!!

The difference is, there is no bigfoot, but there may be some interesting stuff happening in the so called junk DNA.

Part of the problem is in what we call “junk.” If it does something, it isn’t junk. So, for instance, there are genes where a string of codons code for a string of amino acids. But in order for that to happen, other parts of the DNA have to be involved … parts that are not the codons coding for the amino acids that will become part of the protein. That is obiovusly not “junk” but back a few years before these bits of DNA were understood, that was “junk.” You cans see the problem.

All of which is a long run-up to a press report from Princeton talking about a possible role for junk DNA. I’ll let the Princeton press report team speak for themselves, and then I’ll enjoy reading your comments:

To comment on this post, please visit this open thread on my old blogs. The commenting system on this blog is currently broken. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Continue reading An important role for junk DNA????

The Chemical Industry: Without it, you would all die of terrorism!!!!

You have noticed, no doubt, that the latest and most common banner ads on Scienceblogs are for Americanchemistry.com, a blogospheric entity representing a handful of Chemistry special interest organizations. (“Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible.” and all that.) Which is fine, who cares? But what I want to draw your attention to is the ubiquitous use of the imagery of first responders in those ads. The message is obvious: Without chemicals, first responding itself would be impossible” which equals “Without the American Chemistry Industry, Osama bin Laden will eat your next born” or words to that effect.

To be fair, the same ad uses other images as well, like the astronaut-looking that I always assume is on his way into a chemical plant to clean up some disaster. In fact, I imagine the first responders as on their way from a chemical fire and cleanup site (they always look haggard like they just got off duty) and I imagine them going home that night, suddenly feeling ill, retching for a while, and dying of exposure to some …. chemical.

So the ads really aren’t working for me.

But that is not why I bring them up. I bring them up because I think the use of first responders as icons that are intended to make us like something is interesting, and part of a post 9/11 trend. Remember right after 911? When the word “first responders” was actually first heard in a lot of communities, and first responders were almost deified, or at least, demi-deified? They were readily allowed to desecrate the American Flag by draping them all over their vehicles and in some cases their own soot covered uniforms, they were on talk shows, they probably even got raises. Well, probably not raises. Anyway you do remember that.

I’ve noticed as well that first responders have taken a different tact in their field operations lately. I do enough highway driving to have a sense of this; I think first responders at accident scenes are taking up more space (closing more lanes) and taking up more time (having their post-disaster cup of coffee, etc. while the barriers are still up) at accident scenes.

I sense that they are strutting. And I find that annoying, if it is true.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Some of my best friends are first responders. And I have tremendous respect for what they do, and I feel that they are worthy of honor in our society. But let’s also remember, on this memorial day weekend, that first responders occasionally gun down innocent people, hog the donuts, and run one of the more misogynist, sexist operations in our society.

So as we remember our first responders — police, fire fighters, EMTs — lets also remember that they really are not demigods. Keep the safety locked and stop excluding women, don’t strut on the highway, and so on. And when you have to go to that great chemical spill down by the tanks next to the river … remember:

Chemistry … is essential to living.

To comment on this post, please visit this open thread on my old blogs. The commenting system on this blog is currently broken. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Yes, my comments are borked

Something is wrong with my site. Comments appear to be totally screwed up. This situation started on Friday, and I informed Scienceblogs Central of this. Since then I’ve been off the internet, wandering through the wilderness in the Great American Southwest. The tech people are aware of this, but I have not heard any details of when it may be fixed.

My posts are still coming out as scheduled, apparently, but comments go into the Twilight Zone. Sorry about that.

I have a few suggestions: Comment over here, on my old blog:



Just don’t comment for a while


Seriously think about never trying to use Movable Type as your blogging platform. I’ve seen far more strange problems like this with Movable Type than I have seen with WordPress. WordPress rules.

Thank you very much