Thursday, April 05, 2007

Best of the Archives

Welcome to the evolgen archives. Here is a list of posts that may be of interest to you:

Sunday, February 12, 2006

evolgen archive

Due to difficulties with blogger, I will no longer be posting at this URL. You can get all of your evolutionary genetics blogging at the new evolgen.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tips for Purchasing a Llama

The Science Creative Quarterly offers up some tips for purchasing a guard llama. Apparently, this is a legitimate concern, as the author cites five related articles (although I'm not sure if they are real publications, and I'm not ambitious enough to find out for myself). Among the concerns is overqualification (yes, llamas come with different skill sets):

There is nothing worse than an overqualified llama. For instance a llama, trained in the delicate arts of diplomacy, will become depressed and distant if it is only given the task of guarding your ’86 Chevy Cavalier from any would-be vandal. Consequently, it will probably let its guard down and you will be left with a llama with very low self-esteem and an antennae-less ’86 Chevy Cavalier with the words “Wash me” scrawled onto the dirt caked rear windshield.

There's the Onion and Sports Pickle; SCQ may be our equivalent source of science humor.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Republican Fear Factor

In this week's cartoon, Tom Tomorrow introduces us to Fear Factor, neo-con style. Among the things Republicans are scared of:

  • They're terrified that their wives could get an abortion without their permission.
  • They're terrified that their religious beliefs might be undermined by secular society.
  • They're terrified that heterosexuality itself will be undermined by gay marriage.

It seems obvious to me that these are irrational fears, but it's not obvious to a large portion of this country. These fears manifest themselves in bigotry and oppression of others. Women are denied the right to any abortion regardless of the conditions. Certain religious beliefs (or religion in general) are endorsed by government, and in situations in which everyone is given fair treatment they claim oppression. A loving couple is denied the right to marry because they don't fit what a small minority has deemed the appropriate union (in my opinion, marriage as an institution should not receive government endorsement, but I'm a bit jaded).

A little background on where I stand on abortion: I think that any first trimester abortion should be allowed regardless of the conditions. There should be no restrictions, and they should be easily accessible. Anything after the first trimester should require the woman to show adverse health risks associated with pregnancy. She should not need to jump through loops to show she is at risk, and these abortions should also be easily accessible. I think I stand in the mainstream on this issue.

The last two Republican fears aren’t so easy to mock. One of them is the fear of terrorists. Terrorism is a legitimate concern, although the threat of terrorisms is often blown out of proportion and used to manipulate the general public. The comic isn’t mocking our fear of terrorism, but how the neo-cons use it for their own benefit. They take advantage of the average American's fear that terrorist will blow up their suburban neighborhood. They then use that fear to strip us of civil liberties in the name of anti-terrorism.

As opposed the first three examples (abortion, religion, and gays), it’s not so much the fear of terrorism that is the problem, but the response to that fear. It’s exaggerated and aimed in the wrong direction. We see the same thing in the final fear: “BIRD FLU”. As Tara so nicely pointed out, there may be a rational fear of a pandemic. The paradox is, if immunologists treat it properly (by vaccinating the public and preventing the virus from entering the country), then it appears that all of their work was for not because there was no epidemic. If they fail to act, then the disease may spread and they look like buffoons for not acting. Either way, they lose (there is the possibility that they do not respond and the disease does not spread, in which case they come out on top).

What concern me most are the rational fears to which the administration provides an inadequate response. Abortion, secularism, and gay marriage are important issues, but not nearly as significant as a bungled response to terrorism and pandemic. Of course, if we can’t adequately respond to regular old influence, what makes us think that the response to bird flu will be any better? Maybe it will be used as a scare tactic with no substantive strategy planned in response (see the government’s response to terrorism).

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

50 People Who Suck

The BEAST give us the 50 Moast Loathsome People in America. Of note to Clash, Culture, and Science:

46. Bruce Chapman

Charges: Founder of the misnamed “Discovery Institute.” Despite its pioneering title, Chapman’s organization seeks to make one of the world’s oldest, dumbest ideas the prevailing ideology. Seems to believe a petition signed by 400 PhDs and professors is convincing proof of Intelligent Design’s widespread acceptance. A lazy dissembler, he blames the lack of actual research and peer-reviewed articles on ID on academic “blackballing.” Right, ‘cause Galileo had it easy. Chapman’s sole trailblazing achievement in the field of academic inquiry has been in proving scientists can be even smugger-when driven by theology.

Exhibit A: Held high-level positions under Reagan and Bush, Sr. Is not a scientist.

Sentence: Infested and colonized by scabies mites: eyeless, brainless parasites unique to humans—perfect evolved to afflict us. Succumbing to the maddening itch, Chapman skins himself alive.

40. Tom Cruise

Charges: Criminal narcissism. After mega-lawyer Bert Fields threatened to sue The BEAST over Cruise’s inclusion in last year’s Loathsome List, we responded by giving him the editorial finger, and bracing ourselves for the legal spanking of our lives. Instead, the episode seemed to trigger a cascading ego crisis, culminating in a rapid and irrecoverable image downgrade from exalted idol to ridiculous buffoon. From his laughable claim of psychological expertise to his worst acting performance ever—as a man in love—Cruise simply cracked up on camera in 2005, and a public hitherto willing to overlook his obsessively inauthentic personality and comical religious affiliation had finally had enough. Cruise is a perfect example of a person who is simultaneously in love with and completely unfamiliar with himself, living in perpetual fear of self-actualization, and asserting a legal right to live free of criticism. A guy who can do whatever the hell he wants, yet chooses to devote his life to maintaining the public perception that he is somebody else.

Exhibit A: “I care man, I care. I care about you. I care about your children. I care about these people here in this room. Every one of you. And I...I mean it. That is not just some words to me. That is a promise.” Seriously, can’t even act like a human being.

Sentence: A lifetime of forced, joyless sex with famously beautiful women, only to have his colossal gay porn library posthumously bequeathed to the Smithsonian by bitter, unloved offspring.

39. Dr. David Hager

Charges: A Bush appointee to the FDA who was the key figure in its rejection of emergency oral contraceptive Plan B as an over the counter drug, which Hager bragged was the second time in fifty years the FDA has ruled against the overwhelming approval of its own advisory committee. The author of books like Stress and the Woman’s Body and As Jesus Cared for Women, Hager repeatedly sodomized his ex-wife for years against her will, alternately apologizing for or denying it when confronted by her, offering excuses like “You asked me to do that” and “Oh, I didn’t mean to have anal sex with you; I can’t feel the difference,” she told The Nation. Seems a bit fishy, a supposed authority on women’s health who can’t detect such a significant distinction with his most sensitive instrument.

Exhibit A: “My official comment is that I decline to comment.”

Sentence: A three-day group ramming by the multi-dildoed Oregon chapter of NOW, after which Hager will walk with a pronounced limp, never to regain control of his sphincter, and discover himself to be inexplicably pregnant.

37. Donovan McNabb

Charges: Played so poorly that his demoralized and alienated teammates yearned for the return of ego-vampire Terrell Owens. A chocolate commodity so inoffensive he makes Hershey bars look militant. Responded indignantly to loopy criticism from the head of the Philly NAACP, but laughed off Rush Limbaugh’s racist broadsides. Choked in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl; this year he enjoyed the worst fourth quarter passer rating in the league. Made over $11,000,000 in 2004.

Exhibit A: Logged only significant playing time this season with his mom in soup commercials.

Sentence: Peon at a Campbell’s Soup cannery in China. Flogged routinely for underperformance.

33. Johnny Damon

Charges: Any baseball player with highlights in his hair should be faced with the same penalty system applied to those using performance-enhancing steroids. It’s ruining the game. And if a ball player is going to grow a beard, it should be a Charlie Manson/Thurman Munson scraggle of bushy whiskers, not a neatly manicured and softly conditioned frame for your pretty face. The only thing that got Damon to step into line and quit hair-farming was a 52 million dollar check from the New York Yankees. Boston prayed for the multi-bladed Gillette that officially made him a Yankee to slip while gliding over his Adam’s apple and spill his lifeblood into the bathroom sink.

Exhibit A: Going from the Red Sox to the Yankees is like fucking the guy that murdered your husband.

Sentence: Killed by barrage of hurled D cell batteries when he takes the field at Fenway next season.

16. R Kelly

Charges: As if videotaping himself urinating on an underage girl wasn’t bad enough, Kelly decided to follow up by inflicting the worst piece of music in American history upon the public consciousness. Kelly claims he is a genius for squeezing out what are so far 12 installments of his “hip hopera,” “Trapped in the Closet” like so many virtually identical turds, with no variation in musical content and a story line so patently terrible that it soon became the subject of a parody-frenzy involving Saturday Night Live, South Park, Mad TV, Jimmy Kimmel, and the Upright Citizens brigade, among many others. Even his good songs all seem to be about fucking underage girls.

Exhibit A: Seriously—pissing on an underage girl.

Sentence: Trapped in a closet. Eventually dies of thirst.

There are also some good "bend over and fuck me" Democrats, like Hillary Clinton and Joe Loserman, and your usual stable of Republican colostomy bags. Don't miss the surprise at #4.

(via Pale Blue Dot)

Does Being a Horse Count as an Ethnicity

A high school teacher who happens to be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan (or is he a Steelers fan who happens to be a teacher?) made one of his students take a midterm exam on the floor last Friday because that student was wearing a Denver Broncos John Elway jersey. The kid didn't get the memo: if you're gonna wear a John Elway jersey, go with the Orange Crush look, not the ugly ass angry horsey jersey.

Kid wearing new Broncos jersey (left) and John Elway wearing orange crush jersey (right).

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Is Everyone On Earth Named Steve Smith?

In honor of our favorite punt returner who's quarterback can't get him the ball, here is list of all of the Steve Smith's I know of. Feel free to add more in the comments.

Here's the Carolina Panthers wide receiver (the guy who's quarterback can't get him the ball) and Chad Johnson's junior college teammate that inspired this list. This dude's got a pretty bad-ass tattoo on his upper arm; that distinguishes from the other Steve Smiths. He's the only Steve Smith playing in the NFL (for now), but not the only football playing Steve Smith.

Steve Smith is also the #2 receiver on the USC Trojans. This Steve Smith will be playing in the NFL in two years, only adding to the confusion of players playing the same position with the same name (see here for another example). It doesn't help that USC's Steve Smith is an undersized receiver, meaning not only do Steve Smith and Steve Smith play the same position, they play the same position in the same way.

At least this Steve Smith plays a different sport than the previous two Steve Smiths. Well, technically he no longer plays his sport professionally. Looking at him in the USA Basketball uniform reminds me of how Steve Smith never quite lived up to expectations. This is the opposite of Steve Smith the Panther, who was never supposed to amount to anything, but ended up a pro-bowl quality receiver.

This Steve Smith (actually, Stephen A. Smith) used to be a respectable sports writer. Now he's become a sports talking head and D-list celebrity. Oh, and he writes his columns on a Blackberry. And he's really annoying when he opens his mouth and tries to talk -- not a good quality for a TV personality (but, surprisingly, one that a lot of TV personalities share).

Ok, so Steve Smith is not a real person, but what is "real" anyway? He's a character on American Dad . . . you know, that show that comes on after Family Guy. Never mind.

Weekly Random Ten (22 January 2006)

New Rules Edition

Alright, we're gonna try something new with the evolgen Weekly Random Ten. Here's the new rule: I get 10 songs worth of time to write an entry. I've used this as a rough guideline for the random ten in the past, but I never put it in writing. Once the last note in the last song is played, I must stop writing -- even if it's in mid sentence.

So, I'm sitting in front of the TV in between playoff games. I blew my pick in the first game. Looks like I went with the wrong road underdog to win. I still think the Panthers can win, but it will be quite a feat if both road dogs win in the conference championship. At least neither Delhomme nor Hasselbeck have a goofy beard -- of course, Hasselbeck's got that bald thing going against him.

I'm gonna do that stupid sports commentator thing and stand by my pick in the second game despite how things have changed. Does that piss anyone else off? An expert analyst will pick a team to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season. Then, halfway through the season, the team falls to 4-4, and they're still saying, "I picked them at the start of the season and I'm standing by my pick." That just shows you're too stupid to realize you were wrong and don't know how to reevaluate your position with further evidence. It's bullheaded; it's stupid. At least they're only talking heads (talking about sports, even), and not politicians responsible for making important decisions about the country. It would really suck if politicians were so stubborn and refused to change their stance on an important issue like war in light of new information . . . oh, wait, nevermind. Asshats.

Ok, I've got a couple more songs to kill. How about the size of the American flag that they busted out for the national anthem at the start of the Seahawks game. They love America a lot more than I do. Shit. All that's missing is an F-14 flyover and a huge fireworks display. That would really show those terrorist bastards. Why does the beginning of a sporting event turn into a caricature of patriotism, or even a celebration of a military state. By the way, the Seahawks have the fugliest uniforms ever.

That's enough from me for now. Here are the ten songs I listened to while writing this crappy entry:
  1. Sublime - Get Out!
  2. Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
  3. Living End - So What
  4. 311 - Light Years
  5. Tilt - Bad Seed
  6. The Hives - A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T
  7. NOFX - Eat the Meek
  8. Jurassic 5 - React
  9. The Ataris - Neilhouse
  10. Pete Townshend - Let My Love Open the Door

Last Second Picks

It's a few hours before the games begin and here are my picks (see the last edition for how it works):

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
Who I want to win: I'm a Raiders fan, so I hate the Broncos. There is no way I can pull for them. That means that I'm rooting for the Steelers by default. Plus, how can you not be for Troy Polamalu and his hair. And I live in Steelers country, so it's hard to not get sucked into the black and gold fever.

Who I think will win: On a neutral field, the Steelers would win. Too bad this game is being played at Mile High Invesco Field. Broncos will win . . . as long as Plummer doesn't blow it.

Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks
Who I want to win: Ever wonder what a seahawk is? Of course, the Panther is one of the archetypes of conservation genetics. I would be happy to see either of these teams go to the Superbowl. I'm kinda sick of Sean Alexander, though. If Alexander plays well, I wanna see the Panthers win. If Alexander sucks it up big time, go Seahawks.

Who I think will win: The Panthers have won their last five road games (including two playoff road wins). There is no way they can win another road game. There is no way they make it to the Super Bowl. There is no way I'm not picking the Panthers. Yes, the Panthers will win. Plus, when I see someone as tall as I am excelling at receiver in the NFL, I can't help but pull for him.

Enjoy the games.

Sports Reporters

What the hell was going on with the Sports Reporters this morning? It was like the editor was playing a practical joke on all of us.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Prove It!

The Quote of the Day goes to Brent Rasmussen of Unscrewing the Inscrutable:
"Proof" is a word that only applies to mathematics and liquor.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled podcast . . .