Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Color these Heifers Green

I've given to Heifer, International on several occasions. I like the idea of giving poor people a way out instead of a handout.

It is pleasing to me, therefore, to see, in a big press release, that the new 94,000-square-foot Heifer, International headquarters showcases a variety of ecologically aware features, such as a 25,000-gallon, rainwater/graywater collecting tank.

That this merely echoes the early work of other, quieter, eco-activists doesn't detract from the pleasure we feel.

As my father once said about another topic, "When you eat at a great restaurant, you're not upset because other people have eaten there before you."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Return of the Puppet Masters.

We have Glenn Reynolds to thank for this link to an article about Toxoplasmosis.

Take-home: the parasite that causes this disease, which you get from changing your cat's litter box, changes your behavior in ways that spread the parasite.

(If you have trouble with that idea, consider rabies, which turns a reclusive fox into an aggressive animal whose bite transmits the disease. Or as a longtime friend, BA, once said, "If you can get close enough to a bat to touch it, that means you don't want to.")

I forwarded the Toxoplasmosis link to Patricia Romans, of the University of Toronto Zoology Department.

Dr. Pat replies,

Toxoplasma gondi is an apicomplexan parasite in the same phylum as Plasmodium (malaria). Toxo is a very good model for some things one might wish to study in malaria intracellular stages.

Malaria parasites are now well documented to manipulate the behaviours of both their human and mosquito hosts: gametocytes (the human stage infectious to mosquitoes) make their human hosts more attractive to female mosquitoes seeking a blood meal, oocysts (an asexual stage in the mosquito not transmissible to humans - they're on the basal side of the midgut) make their mosquito hosts lie low, not fly a lot or seek blood meals avidly, and mature sporozoites (mosquito stages infectious to humans in the salivary glands) make their mosquito hosts take a lot of partial blood meals in quick succession. A lot of this work comes from Jacob Koella and coauthors. I teach my parasitology students these examples, but there are lots of examples from other host/parasite associations too.

For further reading, she suggests this article and this one by Koella, adding,

The study showing gametocyte-enhanced attractiveness of humans to mosquitoes was particularly nicely controlled. The second reference is a review which will get you to all the earlier work on manipulation of mosquito behaviour. [...] There should be no problem with the PLoS Biol article but the other may not be available unless you belong to some institution that has an e-subscription to the journal. You might try getting it yourself by going to www.pubmed.gov, using Koella JC, malaria as the search terms and then clicking on the article you'd like to read. Articles available free will have some kind of coloured journal logo.

Frozen pipes

Reading material for Lyn, who came home to sheets of ice in her toilet and thousands of dollars worth of water damage, from the American Red Cross.

If anyone cares, she's a pretty good house guest, even after a month.

Welfare isn't working -- increase the funding!

The last few Hollywood movies we've seen in have been pretty awful: expensive, depressing, and narcissistic.

Added to that, even the least preachy seems embarrassingly leftist, in that parochial way that the Bernard Goldberg talks about in Bias (He's talking about the MSM, but I suspect the sociology is the same.) Producers and directors and writers make capitalism and America and the military and Republicans are bad guys because ... well, hey, everyone knows that, don't they?

"How about an obscure, foreign comedy?"

We rented Moartea domnului Lazarescu (2005) -- "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu." The movie, from Romania, revolves around the horror-show of socialized medicine. It's amusing, though you'd have to be Romanian to be rolling in the aisles. Or Canadian, I suppose.

Plus, it offers a chance to practice your receptive Romanian.

American DVD's all come with "Extra Features," and this one included an interview with an American doctor -- it gives his name, but no clue why they picked him or what he does for a living -- for American audiences.

His message? "Well, this wouldn't really happen in America and to improve what we have ... we really need nationalized health care."

You don't need to make this stuff up when you can rent it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wakin' with Bacon

Here's an inspired idea, but what will awaken Reb Ron? Perhaps a clock that produces a shmaltz breakfast fritatta.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Introducing the book

Not as much fun as the RMBB was, but maybe still a nice way to start Sunday morning.

Video pointer hanks to Instapundit.

RMBB was thanks to Zombyboy, and everyone else who came. You should come next time, too. After all, a community exists mostly because of the time the people in it take to show up.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Blow your harmonica, son.

Weird Al proves he's the man with the plan, canal or no.

Thanks to Amazon Lori, the only person at dinner who laughed when I confessed I'd given Candy for Valentine's Day: "... the book."

Do you deserve your high school diploma?

Courtesy of Wheels, this quiz.

It appears that I, too, have completely mastered high school. That should take a load off your mind, since I'm the dropout your mother warned you against associating with.

Oh and Wheels -- if you want to know about things like banjo workshops, send me email. There's no contact info on your blog.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Of Arms and the Law: Happiness is a warm gun...

Following links from Glenn Reynolds, I got to Of Arms and the Law: Happiness is a warm gun
...: "Especially in the bands of a 10 year old. This is Nathaniel, my youngest, burning off bursts from my full-auto Thompson.

By the time we put 250 rounds thru it, it was more than warm -- the barrel was quite hot!
Yes, indeedy. Back when I was smoking cigarettes from USMC-supplied C-rations, I remember lighting one off the barrel of an M60. I was delighted.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It Takes an Internet

Before we had the Internet, we had to rely on friends and family to teach us things like this.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


There continues to be much reaction to William Arkin's urging American soldiers just to shut the hell up and mind their betters. Kipling still says it better than anyone.


I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o'beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins,'' when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mr. Atkins,'' when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy how's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

- Rudyard Kipling


This from Jo.

Publicola: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes Again

Publicola says the accent in his name's on the penultimate syllable.

This is now called "hyper-local blogging." As opposed to "local blogging"? Nicely-written, though.

Support Publicola by giving him a pack of cigarettes at the upcoming
Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash.

20 Greatest Guitar Solos Ever, With Videos

I spent some time searching for videos of Jo Haemer at this site
which I got from Jed, at Freedomsight but haven't found her yet.

Next, I'll look for Jay, whom both Jed and I recommend.

Saddam Hussein's Old Timey Musician Joke Radio Hour

This page brought to you courtesy of Jed, at Freedom Sight.

I'm hosting a brunch and clawhammer-banjo workshop on Sunday, Feb 11, with Evi Ladin. from the Stairwell Sisters. If you want to come, drop me a line.