Evening Reads: Night Owls and Great Whites

Good Evening…

I can not believe that Thanksgiving is this week, it has been one of those crazy fast years. You would think that with all the campaign crap we have been through, it would have seen like it was an eternity since those first horrible GOP debates. Can you believe a year has passed us by?

First take a look at these two articles, I want to get these out-of-the-way…Christian attorney indicted on federal child pornography charges

I actually did not want to include it in today’s post, but I could not help and think of the irony that once again a monster hides behind their religion. You should see the comments at the local newspaper that broke the story, it is disgusting.

This other article is from some right-wing Rabbi, and I warn you, it is f’d up. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Jewish Values Are the Salvation of the Republican Party

A ‘malignant weapon.’ That was the phrase used by a friend of mine — a national TV host who inclines toward Republicans but this year voted Democrat — to describe how Republicans use religion. “Why has religion made Republicans harsh. Shouldn’t it give them a soft heart?”

The congressional campaign I ran was based on the idea that the economic malaise in America was due to a values erosion. So long as we obsess over abortion, gay marriage, and contraception to the exclusion of any other values, we cannot fix our problems. I ran to start the process of replacing the austerity of some of the Christian social values, which have defined the GOP for decades, with the positive and life-affirming values of Judaism.

So Rabbi goes on about the problem with the GOP obsession with sex. Fair enough, but then when he gets down to his advice it is the same sexist shit, only warmed over with a bit of kugel and a schmear of cream cheese.

Also, I have two articles on Walmart, one which argues for higher paying salaries and hourly wages for  Walmart and retail employees. Bob Herbert: Why Walmart and Big Retailers Should Pay Their Workers More

The other is from Cannonfire, who feels that we should have a Thanksgiving Day boycott of Walmart and other retail stores who are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. I agree, keep Black Friday on Black Friday.

Now for the fun stuff. Check this out….Great whites ‘not evolved from megashark’

A new fossil discovery has helped quell 150 years of debate over the origin of great white sharks.

Carcharodon hubbelli, which has been described by US scientists, shows intermediate features between the present-day predators and smaller, prehistoric mako sharks.

The find supports the theory that great white sharks did not evolve from huge megatooth sharks.

The research is published this week in the journal Palaeontology.

Look at these teeth:

Shark fossil

The new specimen (examined here by Dana Ehret) links Great Whites to the much smaller mako shark.

[…]

Modern day white sharks show similarities in the structure of their teeth with the extinct megatooth sharks.

As they both sport serrations on the cutting edges, early scientists working on the animals used this as evidence for the sharks being closely related.

Shark graphic

“But we actually see the evolution of serrations occurring many times in different lineages of sharks and if you look at the shape and size of the serrations in the two groups you see that they are actually very different from each other,” Professor Ehret told BBC News.

Are you all thinking what I am thinking? We need a bigger boat?

Megalodon
Megalodon had one of the most formidable bites known from the fossil record
[…]

“White sharks have very large, coarse serrations whereas megalodon had very fine serrations.”

Now, additional evidence from the newly described species shows both white shark-like teeth shape as well other features characteristic of broad-toothed mako sharks that feed on smaller fish rather than primarily seals and other large mammals.

“It looks like a gradation or a transition from broad-toothed makos to the modern white shark. It’s a transitional species, and you don’t see that a whole lot in the fossil record,” Professor Ehret said.

From fins to wings…well metaphorically speaking…Gene distinguishes early birds from night owls and helps predict time of death

Many of the body’s processes follow a natural daily rhythm or so-called circadian clock. There are certain times of the day when a person is most alert, when blood pressure is highest, and when the heart is most efficient. Several rare gene mutations have been found that can adjust this clock in humans, responsible for entire families in which people wake up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and cannot stay up much after 8 at night. Now new research has, for the first time, identified a common gene variant that affects virtually the entire population, and which is responsible for up to an hour a day of your tendency to be an early riser or night owl.

Back in my first year of college I did a thing for my biology class, where I took my temp and blood pressure/pulse rate every hour for 48 hours and what do you think, I had higher temps and heart rates later at night, between 9:30pm and 4am. (But I didn’t need to do that to know that I am a night owl.) I function way better in the evening hours.

Furthermore, this new discovery not only demonstrates this common polymorphism influences the rhythms of people’s day-to-day lives — it also finds this genetic variant helps determine the time of day a person is most likely to die.

The surprising findings, which appear in the November 2012 issue of the Annals of Neurology, could help with scheduling shift work and planning medical treatments, as well as in monitoring the conditions of vulnerable patients.

“The internal ‘biological clock’ regulates many aspects of human biology and behavior, such as preferred sleep times, times of peak cognitive performance, and the timing of many physiological processes. It also influences the timing of acute medical events like stroke and heart attack,” says first author Andrew Lim, MD, who conducted the work as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

Give the rest of that article a read, and have a thought filled night. Me? Well, I am just getting started…this is an open thread.


Ann Romney’s “Revealing” Interview With Good Housekeeping Magazine

Good Housekeeping has published interviews with Michelle Obama and Ann Romney. The editors call the interview with Romney “revealing,” and I’d have to agree–though probably for different reasons than theirs.

The headline revelation has to be that Ann Romney wants to “throw out the” education “system.”

GH: Can you tell me, what campaign issue is closest to your heart?

AR: I’ve been a First Lady of the State. I have seen what happens to people’s lives if they don’t get a proper education. And we know the answers to that. The charter schools have provided the answers. The teachers’ unions are preventing those things from happening, from bringing real change to our educational system. We need to throw out the system.

Romney doesn’t elaborate on what “answers” the charter schools have provided or which improvements teachers unions are preventing. But a number of studies have found problems with charter schools, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that students’ test scores are better overall in charter schools than public schools.

As for the teachers unions, I realize that Ann’s husband would like to eliminate all unions and reduce workers’ pay as much as possible. Certainly privatizing education through charter schools would be a good way to eliminate teachers unions.

Ann Romney was certainly a lot more explicit about the goal of ending public schools in this interview than her husband has been. Perhaps Mitt isn’t worried about the reactions of readers of Good Housekeeping. He probably thinks they’re just a bunch of silly airheads.

Ann gave several other answers that I found pretty stunning. In response to a question on why her husband should be president, Ann said:

I’d say because of his life experience, starting with the example [his father] George Romney set of being successful in his family and business and then serving in a political sphere. [He showed] what a difference being involved in politics makes. The formula from his perspective was, you never get involved in politics unless you’re financially secure and your children are raised. So when our children were older and Mitt had made a bit of money, there was his father’s example that you find ways to serve and give back.

So I guess anyone who isn’t a millionaire shouldn’t run for office? Or does “a bit of money” mean hundreds of millions to Ann? Clearly Obama shouldn’t have run with those two young daughters! Back to Ann’s pontificating:

That’s also what drew us to the Olympics. Mitt gave up everything, walked away from a very lucrative position [to lead the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympics]. It was just a little square inch of light that you walk into saying, “I think this is the right thing to do.” You get that confidence from intuition and prayer…all of those things where no one’s going to give you a blueprint of how life is going to turn out.

“Mitt gave up everything?” WTF?! At this point it should be clear to anyone who is paying attention that Mitt Romney never really left Bain Capital. The Boston Globe reported in July that Romney didn’t resign from Bain in 1999 as he has claimed, but instead took a leave of absence and only negotiated his severance package in 2002 when he decided to run for governor of Massachusetts. The severance package kept him earning money from current Bain investments for ten more years. Romney was even listed as CEO of Bain on the Olympics website and during public appearances at the time. Even now Romney is still profiting from the company he founded.

Ann Romney is every bit as full of shit as her husband is. She says that Mitt would help the economy by “getting rid of regulation,” and “using our natural resources,” (meaning open up national parks to oil drilling) but she acknowledges that in places like China where there is no environmental regulation,

the pollution and the air quality is just abysmal, and people are having to live in that. You understand how important it is, but you also have to recognize that we have to balance those things.

Right. We “have to balance” the rights of the rich to feed their endless greed with the rights of the 99.9% of Americans to clean air and water.

Ann says that as First Lady she would continue to work with at-risk young people. I didn’t realize she had done that, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia,

Ann Romney has been involved in a number of children’s charities, including having been a director of the inner city-oriented Best Friends, which seeks to assist inner-city adolescent girls. She advocated a celibacy-based approach to the prevention of teen pregnancy. She worked extensively with the Ten Point Coalition in Boston and with other groups that promoted better safety and opportunities for urban youths. She was an honorary board member of Families First, a parent education program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was a volunteer instructor of middle-school girls at the multicultural Mother Caroline Academy in Boston.

She has said her interest in helping underprivileged children dates back to when she and her five boys saw a vehicle carrying a group of boys to a Massachusetts Department of Youth Services detention center. She began volunteering for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay soon after that, and by 2002 was serving as one of that organization’s board members. She was on the Faith in Action Committee for the United Way, working with local religious establishments to assist at-risk children and helping to found United Way Faith and Action. Earlier, by 1996, she was a member of the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Stand for Children.

Please note that Stand for Children is an organization that has worked to reduce protections for teachers and undermine the power of teachers unions.

A couple more of Ann’s answers really bugged me. There was the one in which she praises Mitt for saying it was OK if Ann couldn’t cook all his meals for him when she was suffering from MS:

You have to find something that’ll pull you away from those scary places. And it was my husband telling me, “I don’t care if you’re in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. I don’t care whether you make dinner; I can eat cold cereal and toast. As long as we’re together, as long as you’re here, we’re going to be OK.”

Why couldn’t Mitt cook his own damn meals? How hard is it to open a cookbook and learn the basics? If he just couldn’t bring himself to do that, he could hire a cook–and other servants as well–to help his sick wife. They were hardly struggling to make ends meet!

But here’s the most annoying statement Ann made in the interview:

GH: Who are your heroes? Your role models? Don’t say your husband, even if it’s true. (Laughing)

AR: I would say Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa…and Hillary Clinton. She has been through so much; she just kept going. Now she’s doing a great job as Secretary of State.

Mother Theresa was a hypocrite just like Ann, I buy that one. But I don’t believe for one minute that she agrees with Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton on anything.


Wednesday Reads: Do you feel dumb enough? Well, make my day…

Good Morning!

We have lots of links to get to this Wednesday morning, so get that cup of coffee and let’s start the ball rolling.

First up, Chicago Teachers Union has a deal. Chicago teachers vote to return to classroom

Teachers agreed Tuesday to return to the classroom after more than a week on the picket lines in Chicago, ending a combative stalemate with Mayor Rahm Emanuel over evaluations and job security, two issues at the heart of efforts to reform the nation’s public schools.

Union delegates voted overwhelmingly to suspend the strike after discussing a proposed contract settlement that had been on the table for days. Classes were to resume Wednesday.

Jubilant delegates poured out of a South Side union hall singing a song called “Solidarity Forever,” honking horns and yelling, “We’re going back.” Most were eager to get to work and proud of a walkout that yielded results.

From the Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Public Schools teachers’ strike over

There was no need to count.

Inside a raucous union hall packed with people Tuesday night, a thunderous round of “ayes!” and pittance of “nays” halted the first Chicago teachers strike in 25 years.

With exhilaration and relief, delegates from the Chicago Teachers Union voted to return to work Wednesday morning

“It was thunderous applause,” said delegate Adam Martinek of Gage Park High School. “People were blowing whistles and clapping and cheering.”

“And a couple of people started to cry,” said Susan Hickey, an elementary school social worker. “It was very moving. We just all sort of stood up. Very quickly we adjourned the house, and everybody left.”

The hooting and hollering could be heard outside the Operating Engineers Hall, then smiling faces spilled out the doors.

Across town at one of the city’s premiere high schools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel hailed the contract, with its teacher evaluations and his signature longer school day, for giving Chicago’s children a seat at the table.

“This settlement is an honest compromise,” Emanuel said. “It means a new day and new direction for the Chicago Public Schools.

I am glad this strike is over, and that there is an agreement in place the teachers feel comfortable about.

Before we get to the Romney 47% links, I have to share this quote from Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood: Obama Sleeper Agent by Ta-Nehisi Coates  from The Atlantic

Via Gawker, Access Hollywood asked Clint Eastwood about his now-infamous speech. His response:

“If somebody’s dumb enough to ask me to go to a political convention and say something, they’re gonna have to take what they get,” the veteran actor told an Extra correspondent during a one-on-one interview about his upcoming film Trouble with the Curve…
Asked if Mitt Romney was that “somebody,” Eastwood initially said “yeah,” before adding, “actually, he had some of his people ask.”

The Islamo-fascist, radical atheist, communist bail-out, secular sharia wizard is cunning. And Hussein has many spies.

Bwaahahahaaaa!

That is one hell of a sound bite there Clint, it fits in with that other comment from Rick Frothy Dick about the GOP not being “smart.”

No, they are not. Take this example from Rep. Schilling: Lots of Latinos don’t even know proper Spanish

Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL) on Tuesday faced criticism for claiming that many Latinos had trouble learning the English language because they had not fully learned Spanish.

“One of the biggest problems is — you know, I’ve got some Hispanic friends — is that a lot of those folks that don’t know English, is primarily because they don’t even know Spanish,” he said in April at a town hall event. “They don’t even know their own language. So that’s why you’ve got these teachers coming in helping them to try and get them better with their own language and then kind of teach them. It’s a pretty tough battle.”

A recording of his remarks was posted online and promoted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to Quad Cities Online.

They are not just stupid, they are blatantly stupid.

Which leads me to the Romney Remarks of the 47%…

I have been curious about what Jon Stewart would do with this, here is my answer:  Jon Stewart Tears Apart Romney’s Assertions About The ‘Dependent’ 47 Percent

On Tuesday night, Jon Stewart took on the current campaign controversy: Mitt Romney‘s hidden video about those “47 percent” of voters. Noting Romney’s damage control, he mocked the GOP presidential hopeful’s brushing off the incident while clearly being rattled by it.

Stewart began by noting that before this whole debacle, the Romney campaign had hit the reset button, which he likened to goading a girl to go on a seventh date…because this time, she’ll like him.

Video at the link.

I won’t quote this next link, cause it is from one loony right-wingnut extraordinaire: Time for an Intervention – Peggy Noonan’s Blog – WSJ

An intervention? Why bother?  Hey, watch that Stewart clip again….

By his own logic, Romney’s dad wouldn’t vote for him…

But is all cool, the Romney campaign has a plan. /Snark  Via Little Green Footballs – Romney Campaign Releases Video Titled “Mitt Doesn’t Disdain the Poor,” Then Deletes It

Tonight the Romney campaign released a video featuring Ann Romney, titled “Mitt Doesn’t Disdain the Poor.”

Then they deleted it.

Damn! I bet she was wearing a $1000 t-shirt and said the words “those people” at least once during the interview. Wait a moment! Buzzfeed has an update if you go to this link you can see the entire bit.  Take a look at the comments below the interview, funny stuff.

Anyway…Obama went on Letterman and the Guardian had this little post about it:  Obama rebukes Mitt Romney over his 47% remarks

President Barack Obama declared that the occupant of the White House must “work for everyone, not just for some,” hitting back at Mitt Romney‘s jarring statement that as a candidate, he doesn’t worry about the 47% of the country that pays no income taxes.

In the secretly recorded video published on Monday by the liberal Mother Jones magazine, Romney told donors that 47% of Americans would back Obama no matter what and “my job is not to worry about those people.”

The Republican presidential challenger neither disavowed nor apologised for his remarks. Instead, Romney cast his comment as evidence of a fundamental difference with Obama over the economy, adding the federal government should not “take from some to give to the others.”

Obama responded during an appearance on the late-night David Letterman television show.

“One thing I’ve learned as president is that you represent the entire country,” he said. “My expectation is if you want to be president, you’ve got to work for everybody, not just for some,” he said to applause from the studio audience.

And one more thing about these leaked videos, if you host an asshole running for president, be ready for some prodding and probing, cause you are going to get it.  After all those reports of sex parties and flaming torch baton twirlers, we have this “Exclusive” from Fortune. Exclusive: Marc Leder, Romney fundraiser, speaks out

I don’t know just what kind of “exclusive” this statement can be, sounds like the same shit we here from “these people” on a regular basis.

In a statement first given to Fortune, Leder says: “I hosted a fundraiser for an old friend in May. I believe all Americans should have the opportunity to succeed, to improve their lives, and to build even better lives for their children.”

Okay…I won’t even bother commenting on that.

As for the videos that Mojo released today, Emptywheel had this to say:  Mitt: Hostage Situations Are Electoral “Opportunities”

MoJo has released the full Romney donor video. And like Josh Marshall, I was immediately struck by this passage (after 3 minutes in–this is my transcription). This is in response to a donor suggesting that if Mitt could get the Iranians to agree to drop their pursuit of a nuclear bomb.

And the American people are not concentrated at all on China, on Russia, Iran, Iraq. This President’s failure to put in a place a Status of Forces Agreement allowing 10-20,000 troops to stay in Iraq–unthinkable. And yet in that election–in the Jimmy Carter election–the fact that we had hostages in Iran, I mean that was all we talked about then. And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert, that was the focus and so him solving that made all the difference in the world.

I’m afraid today if you simply got Iran to agree to stand down a nuclear weapon they’d go, “hold on.”

By the way, if something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity. [my emphasis]

Now, like Marshall, I think this explains why Mitt jumped on the Libyan attack so quickly.

Hmmmm…interesting.

So, what are y’all thinking about today?


Sunday Reads: Don’t like spiders or snakes, you fool…

Good Morning…

Yesterday was a crazy day for me, our car broke down, and it cost more to fix it than it was worth…so we ended spending most of Saturday in a dealer showroom. It was excruciating.

Then last night we had a candlelight vigil for my friend Derrick, who was killed last year. That was both upsetting and emotional…

So I’m writing this post blind, and hope that these links are not repeats for ya.

The latest news out of Chicago: Thousands Gather in Support of Chicago Teachers

the first teacher strike this city has seen in 25 years, a rally — not quite victory party, not quite vitriolic protest — was roaring just miles away.

Thousands of people, the largest celebration of union force since the strike began nearly a week ago, shook homemade protest signs in the air and wore the signature red T-shirts of the Chicago Teachers Union as they descended on Union Park, just west of downtown. The city skyline rose behind a stage from which a lineup of politicians, teachers, students and activists spoke about union strength and the need for better school conditions in the city.

They may be close to an agreement, or at least getting down to the nitty gritty, according to the Chicago Tribune:  Teacher rally as lawyers labor over details

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis becomes emotional Saturday as she greets supporters at a rally at Union Park. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune / September 15, 2012)

Thousands of teachers from Chicago and beyond rallied at a Near West Side park Saturday as lawyers labored into the night at a Loop office to turn a framework for a new contract into finer points that can become a deal.

Parents can expect to wait until Sunday afternoon or later to find out whether their children will return to class Monday morning after missing a week of school because of the Chicago Teachers Union strike. Hundreds of union leaders are supposed to meet Sunday for a potential vote that could end the walkout.

While attorneys talked terms in private, the Saturday afternoon rally was filled with very public symbolism. Out-of-state teachers traveled to Union Park in solidarity with a city teachers union that has attracted national attention as organized labor looks for lessons in a fight with cash-strapped government.

After last night’s vigil, we went to eat at one of the local chicken joints…and Fox news was blazing away on the big screens. By the looks of all those “Fox News alerts” something big was going on.  Via HuffPo US orders some diplomats out of Sudan, Tunisia

The State Department on Saturday ordered the departure of all family members and non-essential U.S. government personnel from its embassies in Sudan and Tunisia and warned U.S. citizens against any travel to the two countries due to security concerns over rising anti-American violence.

“Given the security situation in Tunis and Khartoum, the State Department has ordered the departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel from both posts, and issued parallel travel warnings to American citizens,” said department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

In Tunisia, the warning advised Americans that the international airport in Tunis is open and encouraged all U.S. citizens to depart on commercial flights. It said Americans who chose to remain in Tunisia should use extreme caution and avoid demonstrations. On Friday, protesters climbed the walls into the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, torching cars in the parking lot, trashing the entrance building and setting fire to a gym and a neighboring American school that is now unusable.

In Sudan, the warning said that while the Sudanese government has taken steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, some remain and have threatened to attack Western interests. The terrorist threat level remains “critical” throughout Sudan, the department said. It noted that U.S. officials are already required to travel in armored vehicles and to get permission to travel outside Khartoum, where crowds torched part of the German Embassy and tried to storm the U.S. Embassy on Friday.

They are reporting some holdup in deploying the Marines because of the Sudan Government.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton worked the phones on Saturday, calling top officials from seven countries to discuss the situation following a wave of protest and violence over an anti-Muslim film that has swept across the Middle East and elsewhere in recent days. An obscure, amateurish movie called “Innocence of Muslims” that depicts Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a pedophile sparked the outrage.

I will post some updates in the comments below, it seems things are not cooling off any time soon.

The rest of today’s links will be on the human interest side.  Mars has been in the news a lot this week, check it out, from Geekosystem:

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Shows It Snows Dry Ice on Mars

While Curiosity has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention lately, it’s worth remembering that everyone’s favorite rover isn’t the only one doing cool stuff with Mars. When it’s not getting some glamour shots of its ground-based cousin, the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter (MRO) is still finding out all sorts of neat things about our nearest sibling in the solar system, like confirming the suspicion that Mars has instances in which it snows dry ice — carbon dioxide that has frozen at temperatures below -193 degrees Fahrenheit.

The super-cold snowfall takes place at the Martian poles, where solid dry ice has been known to exist for some time. It has never been observed as falling snow, though, so its origins, though suspected, remained uncertain. Not anymore, though. Analysis of clouds of CO2 imaged by the MRO in the Martian winter of 2006-2007 demonstrates that in addition to familiar, hydrogen dioxide snow, which was seen on the planet in 2008 by the Phoenix lander, the red planet gets snowstorms of frozen carbon dioxide.

Cool innit?

Also, from Mars, this time from the Opportunity Rover:

The above picture may not look like much, but it could be a huge deal. The photograph, taken by the Opportunity Rover at Mars’ Cape York site, shows iron spherules that researchers commonly refer to as “blueberries.” Similar formations are found here on Earth. The catch is that, here, they are formed with help from microbial organisms, suggesting that these unassuming iron marbles could be a telltale sign of ancient life on the red planet.

Typically just a couple millimeters across, iron blueberries are a pretty standard part of the Martian landscape, found on the ground of the Cape York site where Opportunity is doing its research or embedded in rock. They bear a distinct resemblance to the “Moqui marbles” found around the American southwest. Ranging in size rom BB pellets to cannonballs, Moqui marbles are not unlike geological M&Ms, consisting of a thin iron shell filled will sand.

A study published earlier this month in the journal Geology found strong evidence that the marbles are not a purely geological oddity, but were formed with an assist from microbes. That finding is a strong suggestion that the Moqui marbles’ Martian cousins may be a good candidate for indicators that Mars once sustained microbial life.

It looks like coral to me. 😉

This next history, archeology, science link is really interesting…King Tut Death: Epilepsy Killed Boy King Tutankhamun, New Theory Suggests Wow, as someone who suffers from epilepsy, it is strange to see how they have developed this new theory.

A British surgeon is touting a new theory regarding what killed King Tut, the Egyptian pharaoh who died at 19 and whose life and death have fascinated the public since his tomb was discovered in 1922.

[…]

People have attributed the cause of death to murder, a fall from a chariot that led to a fractured leg and even a hippopotamus attack. But according to Hutan Ashrafian, a surgeon at Imperial College London, Tut suffered from a hereditary form of epilepsy, the Washington Post reports.

Ashrafian said Tut’s supposed feminine features — the king has been depicted in statues and renderings as having had breasts and wide hips — are signs that he had a form of epilepsy that affects the temporal lobe, which is known to be involved with hormone release. The disease might be to blame for Tut’s death in addition to the deaths of several of his predecessors who died at young ages, Ashrafian claims.

Ashrafian also points to King Tut’s broken thigh bone, which he argues may have come from a fall during a seizure. The religious hallucinations Tut and his predecessors reportedly experienced were further evidence of the disease, Ashrafian told the Post, citing that seizures starting in the temporal lobe can result in such visions after sunlight exposure. The doctor reportedly came to these conclusions after reviewing family history of the king.

DNA studies have show that Tut suffered from malaria and a bone disorder that comes from inbreeding. (I could make a comment out Banjoville, but I won’t.)

Since the chests of both Tut and his father were missing, the researchers couldn’t definitively say whether or not Tut and his father had feminine features, which could suggest the presence of a genetic disorder.

However, the scientists noted that the mummies didn’t have signs of gynecomastia or Marfan syndrome, conditions that would result in the development of breasts in males. Some researchers theorized that representations of Tut and his father with breasts could reflect the belief that gods were androgynous.

According to Discovery News, however, German researchers later disputed the conclusions, instead suggesting that abnormalities in Tut’s foot were indicative of sickle-cell disease.

In 2005, researchers ruled out the murder theory after conducting CAT scans. They concluded that a bone fragment found Tut’s skull was from the mummification process rather than a blow to the head.

With the conclusion of that article I have to post this:

King Tut

Yes, it is a link to Steve Martin’s performance on SNL back in the seventies….

On to another cool dude, this time he is not wearing “jammies” he is sporting a bow tie, I am talking of course about Dr. Who…this American Prospect article by Amanda Marcotte discusses women on the new Dr. Who series: Bowties Are Cool, but So Are Kickass Female Characters

(AP Photo/ Donald Traill)

Actors Matt Smith and Karen Gillian are seen on location filming “Doctor Who” in New York on Wednesday, April 11, 2012.

For fans of the BBC’s reboot of the long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who, the beginning of season seven this September has a lot on offer so far: The Doctor in full badass hero form, a new potential sexy genius Companion, dinosaurs on spaceships, and Daleks, the villains that have been fan favorites since nearly the beginning of the series.

I wasn’t so crazy about the last remake, that doctor was too good looking and not “geeky” enough. I guess that is why I like the BBC’s latest version.  But as Marcotte points out, the role of women on the show is stereotypical female. The show is getting pushed into a new direction from Steven Moffat who took over the show this season.

has doubled down on tinkering with the show to make it more appealing to mainstream audiences. To do so, he decided to turn down the volume on sci-fi cheese and inject more story lines about love, family, and romance. While this idea appeals in the abstract to many feminists who want the world of sci-fi and fantasy to stop being so decidedly dudely, many feminists have strong objections to how Moffat went about it. His strategy was to take the Doctor’s new companion, a character role on the show that is traditionally all about wide-eyed curiosity and boundless courage, and turn her story line into one about getting married and having babies.

Ever since Amy Pond first set foot onscreen, feminist fans have complained that Moffat created a fun character, gave the role to off-the-charts charming actress Karen Gillan, and then turned her into a passive object whose main job is to be married off to her simpering boyfriend Rory Williams. To make it worse, the relationship fits neatly into what feminists have deemed the “nice guy” narrative: That if a man hangs in long enough and shows enough devotion, a woman is pretty much obliged to be with him, even if her heart isn’t in it. Last year, Sady Doyle wrote the definitive piece detailing feminist objections to any and all stories about the Pond marriage:

The moment the Doctor found out about Rory, the importance of time-traveling adventures decreased radically. Instead, the Doctor became a matchmaker and alien fairy godmother, single-mindedly devoted to making sure that Amy overcame her ambivalence about Rory and married him straight away. He referred to this process as “getting [Amy] sorted out.” From henceforth, both the Doctor and the show have been cramming every bony, whiny inch of Rory down our throats, in a doomed attempt to convince us that he is awesome.

Read the rest if you are a Dr. fan…or not. There needs to be some more kickass roles out there for women, obviously…no question about that, but I think you may find Marcotte’s take on the new female character interesting.

Finally, I hate spiders and snakes: Alien Snakes Help Spiders Overrun Guam

Yuk, this island is full of both!

he jungles of Guam have up to 40 times more spiders than do the forested areas of nearby Pacific islands thanks in part to the brown tree snake, according to a study published this week in the journal PLoS One.

The bird-devouring snake from northern Australia and nearby islands was introduced to Guam in the 1940s. The ravenous reptile became the dominant predator; bird numbers plummeted. By the 1980s, 10 of 12 native bird species had been wiped out, and the last two survive only in small areas, protected by intense snake-trapping.

Small-scale experiments show that areas without birds have more spiders – which makes sense, because birds eat spiders and the insects upon which spiders feed. But the sheer numbers of spiders found in Guam’s jungles were much greater than predicted by these small studies, suggesting the removal of birds from an entire forest can have unforeseen — and creepy — effects.

You can guess what those are, yes?

Study author Haldre Rogers, a researcher at Rice University in Houston, counted spiders throughout Guam’s jungles by counting spider webs (which correlate with spider population and are commonly used as a stand-in measurement).

The difference between the number of spiders Rogers and her colleagues counted on Guam and three nearby islands that still have birds “was far more dramatic than what any small-scale experiments had previously found,” she said in a statement from Rice.

“Anytime you have a reduction in insectivorous birds, the system will probably respond with an increase in spiders,” Rogers said. And she thinks this may be true elsewhere. “With insectivorous birds in decline in many places in the world, I suspect there has been a concurrent increase in spiders.”

That creeps me out, but it does lead me to the title of today’s post.

So y’all have a wonderful day, and please share what you are reading and thinking about this morning.


Sunday Reads: It being Labor Day and all…

Good Morning

After spending most of the night at the ER with my son, I honestly don’t have the energy to post many links today. So please bear with me…First a few articles to share with you and then a couple of cool links for Labor Day.

I know it has been a few days from the empty chair incident, but this from Juan Cole was good: Top Ten Clint Eastwood Empty-Chair Falsehoods | Informed Comment

From the Maddow blog, halleluiah, praying sent Isaac away from the RNC: This Week in God

Hillary is showing the world how classy she can be: HIllary Clinton Travels to the Cook Islands

And now for the Labor Day links…these are from the website BibliOdyssey. This first one has images from Japanese tradesmen and women. I guess I am partial to these few prints because they deal with weaving.

BibliOdyssey: Japanese Folk Trades

Japanese Folk Craft (NDL) b

Japanese Folk Craft (NDL) h

Japanese Folk Craft (NDL) d

And this one, from a children’s book. BibliOdyssey: Jack of All Trades

This rather rare children’s book of poetry and lithographic illustrations relating to various kinds of employment – some quite unusual – was first published in Fleet St in London in 1900. Text by JJ Bell. Illustrations by C Robinson.

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (rotated + cropped) a

Jack of All Trades – Title Page

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (phrenologist) (cropped)

The Phrenologist

Little Johannes jumped over his bed,
Little Johannes arrived on his head.
Oh, what a thump!
Oh, what a bump!
Big as a plum, and nearly as red!

“Call the phrenologist!” somebody said.

The great man came! Oh, wasn’t he wise,
With a pair of blue spectacles over his eyes?

He felt the boy’s head with finger and thumb:
he stopped at the bump, and remarked, “Ha, Hum!”
Oh, wasn’t he wise?
He said that Johannes -if nothing went wrong-
Would likely do something before very long!

And this is the end of my beautiful song.
But, wasn’t he wise?

bitonal lithographic caricature of crying bookseller

The Bookseller

Bookseller, Bookseller, why do you weep?
Because I must sell my books far too cheap.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why do you grin?
Because an old lady is just coming in.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why all this joy?
Because she requires a nice book for a boy.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why do you cough?
Ahem! Well, the discount forgot to come off.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why are you gay?
Beause it’s my best of business to-day.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why are you mad?
Because the half-sovereign I changed her is bad.

Take a look at the rest of those pictures at the links above and have a wonderful Sunday.