Saturday, January 10, 2009

Indeed, indeed

A study of Jews of similar demographics and genetics in Britain and Israel found that British kids were 10 times more likely to have peanut allergies than Israelis. That's probably because Israeli kids have other things to be afraid of.

Indeed. They've got real nuts that really are trying to kill them.

From The Corner

Friday, January 09, 2009

Very Important Award

You really, really like me!


Accepted wisdom which isn't true

"You know that it is the MAN which determines the sex of the child", she said. Oh yes, I have heard that many many times. And I am, by the way, a biologist, so am well aware of the whole X,Y thing. But mull this over:

A man contributes a couple of hundred million sperm to the project: There has got to be about a hundred million that have an X and another hundred million which have a Y chromosome.

The man has at this point "done his work" and the rest is out of his hands.

Isn't it just as fair to say that the woman decides which one makes it to the top of the corporate ladder? As the father of three girls, I say there is plenty of evidence that the boys are trying to compete in a hostile working environment.

Interestingly, there is a machine which can sort spermatozoa by sex: The Y chromosome is very small while the X is a normal mid-sized one. This mass difference is enough for a flow cytometer to sort them. Women do not have flow cytometers as part of their normal anatomy...they don't? Heavens! Has the press been made aware of this? From what I understand, there are actually ways of biasing the percentages. It turns out that sperm vary in their speed, endurance and susceptibility to pH.

I. Have. Got. To. Try. This!

Bacon Explosion: The BBQ Sausage Recipe of all Recipes

It looks so good. Click on over and check it out.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Hair Color and Choice

For people who are not blond, you could be blond fairly easily if you wanted to. And yet based on the observation that most people are not blond, I come to the conclusion that most people don't want to be blond. There is an old saying that the only true blonds are bottle blonds. Natural blonds may embrace an attitude they wouldn't otherwise embrace, but they just as likely may compensate by acting extra-serious. Ones who choose the color are probably more on-board with the blond stereotype. This goes double for redheads.

Or maybe they would like it if they naturally had that hair color but either don't want to go to the trouble or think people would find it odd-looking on them. Whatever the reason, I think it is fair to state that all of us who still have hair (mine is thinning) could, if we wanted to, become blond. So, it really is a choice and we mostly choose not to.

This whole line of reasoning emerged from a post on Althouse about the relationship between being fat and being homosexual. One was supposedly a choice and the other not. It is not as clear-cut as that: It is after all, commonly agreed-to that loosing weight is very hard for most people to do. On the other side, it is unclear if all gay people are "born" that way. Most siblings of gay identical twins are heterosexual--though they are more likely to be gay than siblings of gay fraternal twins. This would suggest at least some predisposition. Which seems to be the case in obesity too. Just as a finishing touch, at least a couple of gay commenters indicated that they enjoy being homosexual and would not change even if there was a "cure". To my view, they effectively do have a choice since they can have the option they pick.

Here is another way of thinking about this: People can dye their hair purple. You would expect to get attention (good and bad) by doing this and that is probably the point of it. What if you were a one in a million genetic freak and your hair was naturally a wild shade of purple. You could leave it as is and you would be treated just like people who dye their hair. There are a couple of options: You could try and inform the "world" that it is natural and that you are not deliberately making a spectacle of yourself, or you could just dye your hair a common color and get on with your life. What if you did try and inform the world of this natural odd coloration? Maybe there are a lot more people just like you, who had been hiding their condition by dying their hair. Now they are inspired to let their true color show...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Dishwashing chatter

Me: It would be great to have a last name like, "Link". Just think, you could call your long lost relatives "The Missing Links". Or if you had relatives also related to the 16th President, they would be the "Lincoln Links".

Wife: When people get letters from them they would be, "Link letters".

Me: If the kids drew pictures in their letters they would be, "Art Link letters".

Monday, January 05, 2009

"We're Not Married" with a twist

This weekend our three girls plus two friends who were watching a movie in the living room, so my wife and I watched something else in the study via Netflix' watch instantly service.

We picked We're Not Married (1952) mostly on the strength that Marilyn Monroe is in it. The plot was a fairly simple premise that a judge had married some 5 or 6 couples in the week before his appointment as judge became official. So the film was made up of 5 short episodes showing what hijinks happen when each couple gets their letter saying that they are not married.

The last story has an Army soldier who finds out, just before catching his train to ship-out for a year, that his wife is pregnant. Once on the train, he opens the letter saying he isn't married! He has an Army buddy who he debates with about what to do and there was something really familiar about the guy. Pretty soon I had a theory about who it was, but I couldn't remember his name. I IMDB'ed We're Not Married , but the part was so small it was uncredited. I did remember some other films he was in, so I looked those up in hopes that reading his name would jog my memory. This worked: It was a very young Lee Marvin! Cross checking his IMDB page listed his part in the film.

Aside from the always pleasant occasion of seeing an actor in a film which preceded their stardom, there was another twist. One of the stories was about a gold-digger, played by Zsa Zsa Gabor, who of course sees her plans fall-through when it turns out she isn't married.

The twist? Many years after this film Lee Marvin was involved in a case with some similarities to the film.

Lee Marvin from around 1952. I couln't find a shot of him from the film itself, but he looked a lot like this--except he wore an Army uniform.

That which would destroy, would also create.

As noted in an earlier post--I backed our truck into my little blue hatchback car.

The rear fender was dented-in so far that it looked as if the tire might rub against the sheet metal if driven over a bump. What I did as a temporary fix is to mount a large C-clamp to the fender. Then I attached tow hooks to the clamp and ran the strapping through hooks on the front of the truck. A bit of careful backing-up and the sheet metal was pulled clear of the tire.

Odd that a moment of stupidity requires large amounts of cleverness to set right.

Note: I realize that it is not a particulary new insight that it is easier to destroy than to create. It is just daunting how many times I get reminded of this fact.

Daily reads that are not on your blog list: James Lileks (The Bleat) Daily ephemera written in a way that makes it interesting. Trooper York--you've read his comments here, there is more like it there. JustOneMinute--in depth dissection of complicated political and economic events Iowa Hawk--Parody from a hot-rod type perspective. Some of these don't post every day, but I have my blog list set-up to arrange them by most recent post, so I know when there is something new up.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Jeeze, what happened to me?

After the October race, I determinedly set-about doing a long run once a week to stay in shape for Boston. I ran the same 19 mile course every week and pushed pretty hard the whole way each time.

Now, having run little over the holidays and gained a few pounds, I am out there stinking-up the place. Last week I had to walk the final 4 miles, this week I "ran" the whole thing, but the final 6 miles could have been walked faster than I ran them.