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Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:32:11 +0000

#science #weird  

Original Post from Adam Black:

Humans are Horshoe-Crab Vampires
That is so weird  .

We capture them, drain them of some of their smurf-blue blood , and then send them Home. 

Whats even stranger is that this used to take place a few blocks from where I lived. 

The Blood Harvest:
Each year, half a million horseshoe crabs are captured and bled alive to create an unparalleled biomedical technology.
by  ALEXIS C. MADRIGAL     FEB 26 2014

The thing about the blood that everyone notices first: It's blue, baby blue. 

The marvelous thing about horseshoe crab blood, though, isn't the color. It's a chemical found only in the amoebocytes of its blood cells that can detect mere traces of bacterial presence and trap them in inescapable clots. 

To take advantage of this biological idiosyncrasy, pharmaceutical companies burst the cells that contain the chemical, called coagulogen. Then, they can use the coagulogen to detect contamination in any solution that might come into contact with blood. If there are dangerous bacterial endotoxins in the liquid—even at a concentration of one part per trillion—the horseshoe crab blood extract will go to work, turning the solution into what scientist Fred Bang, who co-discovered the substance, called a "gel."

"This gel immobilized the bacteria but did not kill them," Bang wrote in the 1956 paper announcing the substance. "The gel or clot was stable and tough and remained so for several weeks at room temperature."

If there is no bacterial contamination, then the coagulation does not occur, and the solution can be considered free of bacteria. It's a simple, nearly instantaneous test that goes by the name of the LAL, or Limulus amebocyte lysate, test (after the species name of the crab, Limulus polyphemus).

o, now, the horseshoe blood test is a big business. "Every drug certified by the FDA must be tested using LAL," PBS's Nature documentary noted, "as do surgical implants such as pacemakers and prosthetic devices." 

I don't know about you, but the idea that every single person in America who has ever had an injection has been protected because we harvest the blood of a forgettable sea creature with a hidden chemical superpower makes me feel a little bit crazy. This scenario is not even sci-fi, it's postmodern technology. 

The only problem is that the companies need a large supply of the blood of live crabs. Horseshoe crabs live on the seafloor, near the shore. When they want to mate, they swim into very shallow water, and horseshoe crab collectors wade along, snatching the crabs out of their habitat.

After the biomedical horseshoe crab collectors get them back to a lab, they pierce the tissue around the animals' hearts and drain up to 30 percent of the animals' blood. The LAL is extracted from the blood, and can go for $15,000 per quart. Only five companies bleed the crabs: Associates of Cape Cod, Lonza, Wako Chemicals, Charles River Endosafe, and Limuli Labs (which does not have a website).

The horseshoe crabs are returned to the ocean a great distance from where they were initially picked up to avoid rebleeding animals. The whole process takes between 24 and 72 hours.

The industry says that not that many of the animals die. Between 10 and 30 percent of the bled animals, according to varying estimates, actually die. We can imagine that it's like us giving blood. The crabs get some apple juice and animal crackers and are fine soon thereafter. 

#ScienceOnGPlus       #ScienceSunday   

Mon, 27 Oct 2014 02:24:05 +0000

Doctor Who, 8x10: In the Forest of the Night

I've written a post about every other Doctor Who episode this season, so I feel vaguely obligated to comment on the latest even though I don't really have much to say. As in the last couple episodes, Capaldi's Doctor was less of an asshole than earlier in the season, which I speculate may mean the BBC was getting a lot of hate mail. But, yet again, we got an episode that 1) seems to be geared toward children and 2) clearly didn't care in the slightest about telling a story that held together, just teaching some kind of heavy-handed moral lesson (this time around, "save the Earth", which is at least one I can agree with).

I don't know if they ever had Saturday Morning Cartoons in the UK, but this season feels like Moffat's desperate attempt to keep them from dying out entirely by transforming Doctor Who into one. Do they not realize adults still watch this program?

(NOTE: Minor spoilers follow) Though, while I was pretty unimpressed overall, and I don't usually like the interaction between Capaldi's Doctor and Clara, there were a couple great moments this time: "I just informed you the planet is going to be razed by a solar flare and you're concerned about a row with your boyfriend" and the "I don't want to be the last of my kind" scene were probably the episode's only real high points.

#scifi #tv #doctorwho  

Sun, 26 Oct 2014 23:27:05 +0000

Sun, 26 Oct 2014 05:51:41 +0000

Did you know marijuana prohibition laws are racist?


Sun, 26 Oct 2014 05:21:04 +0000

Constantine 1x01: Non Est Asylum

From the premier, Constantine pretty much looks like it's going to be Supernatural Lite. Of course, with Supernatural now telling what must be the 5th or 6th iteration of more or less the same character arcs in its hoary old 9th season, this new take on similar genre territory could turn out to be a welcome breath of fresh air.

The episode suffered from several issues common to freshman series: It seems like they don't know quite what tone they're going for yet, and while Constantine's distinctive manner and personality are intriguing, they came across as a bit affected. Plus, a one hour premier is never really long enough to fit both the world building needed for a genre show and a decent plot.

It was an enjoyable episode and had a few cool scenes, but in the end it left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. Still, all the issues are the kind that usually work themselves out over a few episodes, so for now, put me down as cautiously optimistic for this one.

#tv #scifi #constantine  

Sun, 26 Oct 2014 04:03:58 +0000

Yep. This pretty much sums it up. #videogames  

Original Post from Yonatan Zunger:

It's come to my attention that I haven't yet made a public statement specifically about #GamerGate. But as it's come up in a few threads, at this point, I think it's about time that I made my position on this matter absolutely clear.

"GamerGate" is a lie from beginning to end. It has exactly three parts to it: it has its core, which is and has been from the very first day about allowing and preserving a "gamer culture" which is actively hostile to women (among others), and preserving it by means of threats, harassment, and violence towards anyone who ever suggests that it should be otherwise.

It has its bullshit layer, which is that it is about ethics in journalism. If it were about ethics in journalism, then you would see people talking about actual ethical questions in journalism, and you would have seen it from the beginning. But from its first days, its only ties to this notion were the use of bizarre (and provably false) accusations from Zoe Quinn's ex-boyfriend to accuse game journalists of being in a cabal to destroy the "gamer culture" of its core layer, and one listserv thread (as covered on where professional journalists did, indeed, have a serious discussion about journalistic ethics: about whether the newsworthiness of this blog post outweighed the potential harm to its subjects. But rather than portray this as journalists doing what ethical journalists do, Milo Yiannopoulos instead portrayed this as a conspiracy by journalists to support the Secret Feminist Cabal. That is, his article itself was bollocks from beginning to end, as has been the entire argument.

And it has its fellow-travelers, people who either actually believe the bullshit layer or do so vocally and disingenuously in order to confuse others and add a shroud of legitimacy.

How do I know that this is true, and that there is not a legitimate discourse mixed in with the violence and so on? That I am not unfairly tarring all of GamerGate's proponents with the same brush?

It's really simple. I have not once seen a proponent of GamerGate actually distance themselves from the hatred and violence, or excoriate it, or say that it is fundamentally wrong and that they do not agree with either its means or its ends.

What I have seen is lots of people coming up with ways in which they, too, are being harassed, and so claiming a false equivalency. I got to watch an excellent example of this on one of my own threads earlier today; there, one of its proponents argued that the movement being called a bunch of scum (as it had been by someone else) is a form of harassment, and perfect evidence of how “there are trolls on both sides.” Yet he elides the difference between that and people being chased out of their homes, people waking up every day to death threats, to real and meaningful impact on people's lives. This is not a serious argument: it is an attempt to lie and to confuse the issue.

The other argument I have kept hearing is “I never distance myself from acts I have never associated myself with.” That is, people claim that they are under no obligation to distance themselves from the acts of the rest of GamerGate, even while they hoist its banner. Sorry: when a movement is known, first and foremost, for its violence, then to associate yourself with it does associate you with its acts. You cannot say “I support al-Qaeda. They’re really about the US military presence in Saudi Arabia,” or “Hey, the KKK has done a lot of great community service work,” and not thereby associate yourself with everything those organizations are really known for. Sorry; you lie down with pigs, you’ll get covered in mud. You keep doing that, and people will have every reason to assume that you like it.

The fact is that there is no meaningful way to "recapture" the GamerGate tag for anything honest, both because it was never tied to that in the first place, and because it has become far too polluted to do so. If someone actually feels like having a conversation about ethics in journalism, they should by all means do so -- depending on what they say, I may even support them in this. But they should not do so in the company of villains, because that simply obscures any real discussion they might want to have with filth.

This is not behavior worthy of human beings. It is vile, it is violent, and if there is anything legitimate at all inside GamerGate, it needs to get its ass out of there right now and clearly separate itself from the bloodthirsty mob. Because right now, anyone who walks around with that label is painting themselves as being open supporters of it, and anyone who supports that is someone that I wouldn't piss on if they were on fire.

Sat, 25 Oct 2014 01:45:53 +0000

Oh look, the "honesty in journalism" group took some time out of threatening to rape women in order to try and put some actual journalists out of business because... well, the journalists were a little too honest, I guess.

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:38:52 +0000

The International Game Developers Association reports on sexual harassment in the games industry, and asks that game developers share there stories.

#videogames #misogyny  

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:19:19 +0000

Original Post from Michael Allen:

It can't be any clearer...‪#‎Vote‬ 2014   #Rock  the Vote!

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 01:47:25 +0000