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Double pregnancies, megatides, dinosaur reconstructions, and other cool science things. November 9, 2017

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“While instances of superfetation in humans are incredibly rare, this case was even more so because it ultimately involved two different sets of genetic parents due to the surrogacy.

About half of people – 85% of women and 25% of men, for an average of 55% of the total population – don’t have spontaneous desire as their dominant desire style. Can this settle, once and for all, the question of whether or not responsive desire is just as normal as spontaneous desire?”

Tides in [the Bay of Fundy area] reach a peak of around 16 m (50′) — the height of a 5-storey building. This is many times higher than typical tides on the rest of the Atlantic coast! The huge tides expose the sea bottom and shape the coastline.”

“Saint Catherine’s Monastery, a sacred Christian site nestled in the shadow of Mount Sinai, is home to one of the world’s oldest continuously used libraries. [Now,] a team of researchers is using new technology to uncover texts that were erased and written over by the monks who lived and worked at the monastery.” Including whole lost languages.

NecroSearch’s members have achieved a level of success unmatched anywhere in the world; they are so respected that even their unsuccessful searches are deemed significant. Or, as the prosecutor explained to me, ‘If you want to search for a body in a certain place, and those people don’t find it, that means a body probably isn’t there.'”

“Most serious paleoart bases itself on the detailed findings of paleontologists, who can work for weeks or even years compiling the most accurate descriptions of ancient life they can, based on fossil remains. But Kosemen says that many dinosaur illustrations should take more cues from animals living today. Our world is full of unique animals that have squat fatty bodies, with all kinds of soft tissue features that are unlikely to have survived in fossils, such as pouches, wattles, or skin flaps.”

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Good things: housing for veterans, scholarship money for good grades, PTSD therapy for parrots, and more February 21, 2016

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Connecticut [is] the second state in the nation to say it’s ended veteran homelessness, after Virginia made its own announcement in November of last year. Nineteen cities have also done the same.”

She instantly picked up a $100 scholarship credit just for having taken her high school pre-algebra class, she said, and an additional $1,500 for getting A’s in more than a dozen courses. She added an additional $250 for having visited a local Penn State campus.”

“The $2.1 million cost of the program was to be offset by $1.1 million in savings from the estimated 1,475 people not qualified for benefits after testing positive for drugs.” How many people did Kansas actually disqualify? 20.

Let’s hear it for unarmed civilians: “According to the FBI’s report on active shooter events between 2000 and 2013, only about 3 percent were stopped by a civilian with a gun. Unarmed civilians actually stopped more incidents — about 13 percent.” Whoa.

“Handling those phone calls made it very real very quick. As the jobs went on, we realized we were potentially saving lives.” A moving company who gets people away from their abusive partners.

“In other words, today’s teens aren’t just more responsible about sex than their parents were when they were their age; in many cases, they’re more responsible about sex than their parents are now.”

‘‘The guys are sitting around, all stoic, arms crossed, not saying anything,’’ she recalled. ‘‘They’d been like that for a number of weeks. So for a change, I took them up to Ojai to help build some new aviaries there. All of the sudden these same tight-lipped guys are cuddling up to the parrots and talking away with them.’’

Science!: particles, politics, & internets July 5, 2013

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“The microparticles can keep an object alive for up to 30 min after respiratory failure. This is accomplished through an injection into the patients’ veins. Once injected, the microparticles can oxygenate the blood to near normal levels.

“Researchers at IBM have created the world’s smallest movie by manipulating single atoms on a copper surface. The stop-motion animation uses a few dozen carbon atoms, moved around with the tiny tip of what is called a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM).”

“Distributed across the entire web, though, are a minority of pages—search engines, indexes and aggregators—that are very highly connected and can be used to move from area of the web to another. These nodes serve as the “Kevin Bacons” of the web, allowing users to navigate from most areas to most others in less than 19 clicks.

Porn search site PornMD has, for the sake of publicity and social science, collected its most-used search terms for the last six months and accounted them by location—not just in the U.S. but across the world. Is your home state into Teen or MILF porn? What are Iranians jerking off to? All these answers—and more!”

Representative Lamar Smith, the guy who brought you SOPA, pushing a bill that would remove the requirement for peer review from National Science Foundation grants. Because apparently he doesn’t understand how science works.

The NYT covers what Bill Nye has been up to these days. My favorite part: Neil Degrasse Tyson confirming that they’re IRL BFFs.

Children, loans, & health care July 13, 2012

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A new round of “the Talk” is becoming a standard: how to react when your kid discovers porn online. Must include “explaining what ‘acting’ is.”

“For the past 10 years, Waschbusch has been studying “callous-unemotional” children — those who exhibit a distinctive lack of affect, remorse or empathy — and who are considered at risk of becoming psychopaths as adults.” Creepy, heartbreaking reading about one family’s struggle with their 9-year-old.

“”As a father, you’ll do anything for your child,’ Reynoso, an American citizen originally from Mexico, said through a translator. Now, he’s suffering a Kafkaesque ordeal in which he’s hounded to repay loans that funded an education his son will never get to use — loans that he has little hope of ever paying off.”

Another borrower spends $23,449.65 to pay off less than $1200 of her student loan debt, and concludes that this whole thing is a scam.

“Yes, apparently when you shove through legislation that allows religious organizations to receive state funding, Christians aren’t the only ones who want it — an Islamic school was one of 38 institutions approved for the voucher program, which is a huge problem for people who believe religion helps children so long as it is the religion of the swamp people they are representing.”

What exactly is Obamacare and what does it change?” via Reddit’s board with a most excellent title, Explain It Like I’m Five.

Jen Sorensen, the cartoonist behind Slowpoke, breaks down the dilemma of self-employed people and health insurance.

A chart of who gets quoted about abortion, birth control, planned parenthood, and women’s rights, broken up by gender.

Actual biblical views on abortion. Mostly in the vein of “this pregnant woman committed a crime whose penalty is death, so she will be put to death,” where the notion of “the unborn fetus is an independent life” never even comes up.

In Other News, Science Is Awesome September 17, 2011

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Gene-sequencing the microbe that caused the Black Death. I can hear the mad scientists cackling now.

A historical view on the subject provides some much-needed perspective on whether women’s sexuality is “more fluid” than men’s.

Koalas begging for water. Adorable :D

Dinosaur feathers! Well-preserved ones, even!

Shinto shrines, often built on historically tsunami-safe areas, preserve a startlingly accurate record of where the recent floodwaters broke.

A planet with two suns has been discovered! It’s a Saturn-size giant orbiting a binary star system.

Light-up kittens! Seriously, it’s part of a program of genetic modification with the ultimate goal of fighting feline AIDS, but…light-up kittens!

As long as it’s still January, so this isn’t too ridiculously late… January 31, 2011

Posted by Erin Ptah in Meta.
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Who else is making fandom New Year’s resolutions?

I have two. First, to post general-type meta questions in my actual journal. My first impulse when I started turning over this post was to ask at fail_fandomanon, because that’s what’s been feeding my need for general panfandom discussion lately. Then it hit that, oh right, there’s no reason people would avoid talking about this kind of thing logged-in, and this is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been griping about Metafandom lacking these days. Be the change, if you’re not part of the solution, etcetera.

Second, to make every chapter of this fic I’m working on pass (a) the Bechdel Test and (b) the race!Bechdel Test. It has seven core characters (eight if you count the talking cat) and four of them are female, so the standard Bechdel pass was kinda going to happen whether I paid attention or not. On the other hand, they’re all white except for one. (Not counting the cat either way. Although it does have white fur.) So far there are enough POC secondary characters that it hasn’t needed any shoehorning, just a little extra planning.

(To forestall the usual Bechdel complaints: yes, it’s a simplistic mechanical test; no, it isn’t a guarantee of non-failyness; no, it isn’t going to strike a blow For Great Social Justice. I’m mostly just doing it to see if I can.)

Haven’t broken either resolution yet — but then, it is still January. (It is, right? Good. *hits post, quick*)

Gender and sexuality: inevitably weirder than you think. October 25, 2010

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Pulling apart theories about inherent gender differences. Every time you think there’s something simplistic and generic enough to be plausible, apparently, it falls apart under study.

Speaking of gender: Stu Rasmussen is male-bodied, male-identified, and still down with breast implants.

The practice of raising daughters as boys in son-prizing Afghanistan, and the social implications that follow.

The 150-year-long history of the failure of English to come up with a serviceable gender-neutral pronoun.

OKCupid, on the ball as ever, takes the initiative to crunch some actual data on the interests, personality traits, and promiscuousness of their gay users versus their straight ones.

An awesome French commercial. (Transcript/translation in English here.)

A satire of the could-have-been late, great Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, as rendered by puppets.

Five ways of looking at “Sarah Palin feminism”, a post I’ve been meaning to link for a while because it is, y’know, interesting. Doesn’t stop at “WTF”, though I’m sure it could.

Good to read in conjunction with that one: Dirty Girls and Bad Feminists: A Few Thoughts on “I Love Dick”, which, honestly, just plain makes me feel good to read.

High Daylight Walkers unite! June 16, 2010

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Do female mangaka draw the perviest series? Or is it just that people are more shocked when they find out that women are not all delicate blushing flowers who cannot possibly think about such naughty subjects without fainting?

The outlawing of possession of certain types of fiction in the UK. The seventh volume of Hellsing qualifies.

Meanwhile, the iTunes store is refusing to sell manga with “inappropriate content” – which includes “people taking baths.”

A Japanese mangaka reflects on the American scene, including surprise at the moral standards and advice for young would-be artists.

A professor doing research into manga fandom talks about some of her research. One of my favorite tidbits: most fans read online scanlations, but most of these same people will still buy the books when they’re commercially available. “The folks at Viz Media admitted to me that they follow what is popular on the scanlation sites as part of their strategies to decide what to translate and publish.”

Reflections on how (and whether) to translate increasingly complex terms. They’re right: “leaf veil” sounds incredibly cool.

Silence being golden, and all April 15, 2010

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup, Personal.
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The Day of Silence is tomorrow, which, as usual, means that I stop posting, commenting, emailing, etc. for the duration. So this is the traditional post where I get all my GLBT-related ramblings out beforehand.

I just finished Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics, by Jennifer Baumgardener, which I read on a rec, and am glad I did. It definitely went places I don’t usually explore.

See, here’s the thing. For everyone I know who’s talked about their bisexuality, the calculation went something like this: “Am I attracted to people from more than one gender? Yes? Hm. I guess I’m bi, then.” (Sometimes with later refinement, along the lines of “Come to think of it, I’m mostly attracted to men, so maybe I’m something like 75% bi.”)

Whereas Baumgardener’s sense of her sexuality is heavily tied up with her involvement in feminist politics of the day. (“Can I truly have an egalitarian heterosexual relationship? Do I have to identify as lesbian rather than bi in order to support women? Did Ani DiFranco betray all her female fans by hooking up with a dude?”)

The weirder ideas about sexuality (“liking sex with men is antifeminst!”) get pretty thoroughly interrogated. Unfortunately, the book also brushes against some very traditionally-gendered stuff that sometimes doesn’t. From the author’s thought processes when she started reconsidering whether she would end up with a man:

I want someone who knows how to make a bed and who agrees with me that even though it will just get messed up that night, it makes sense to straighten it anyway.

For the record, here is what my bed (and some of the floor) looked like while I was typing that:

I don’t even know what half that stuff is.

Still, there’s plenty of nice crunchy writing in the book. One particularly quotable line:

For me, a more appropriate phrase may be that I came in rather than out, as in ‘came into my own’.

Bringing this into the present day…

Closeted Politicians and Bi Invisibility is a lovely interrogation of the “he cheated on his wife with a man, therefore he must be gay!” phenomenon. (As if men who are attracted to women never cheat on their wives!)

Favorite line:

Everyone defines these terms — gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, bi-curious, heteroflexible (that was a new one on me!), questioning, queer, “basically straight but wouldn’t kick Jon Stewart out of bed,” whatever — in subtly different ways.

And I really appreciate how it tries to negotiate a balance between “ideally everyone gets to define their own sexuality” and “…but some folks are patently in denial”:

Larry Craig, for instance, is not saying, “According to the standard tropes of sexual identity, most people would identify me as a gay man — but I’m not an essentialist, I’m a constructionist, and I’m constructing a sexual identity that frames me as a culturally heterosexual man who sometimes has sex with other men.” Larry Craig is sticking his fingers in his ears and saying, “La la la la la, I’m not a faggot.”

I love these terms. (I love new terms in general. I like words, is what I’m saying.)

I like the sound of “essentialism”, but I think I’m essentially (lol) a utilitarian. Which is to say that my perception of sexuality runs something like this:


I’m a lesbian, butch, dyke-
by *nana-51

Good times.

And, to wrap this up on an even cuter note:

The Love That Dare Not Squawk Its Name. (Lookit the fluffy same-sex-relation-having bunnies! :D)

Who else is excited for post-Valentine’s Day chocolate sales? February 13, 2010

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It turns out the news stories that get emailed most are the optimistic, the scientific, and the intellectually challenging. Go humanity!

…and on that note, have a mostly-serious linkspam.

This is why we don’t allow international adoptions out of disaster areas.

Twilight tempts tourists to trample tribal territory. How the actual Quileute should be getting a cut.

Race play as kink. The second time I’ve ever found the idea discussed in anything other than a horribly negative light. (The first time was an early Dan Savage podcast.)

Science Channel Refuses To Dumb Down Science Any Further. Aww, science.

The early stages of the next revision of the DSM. Shiny.