No one ever expects an immaculate conception.

A friend of mine recently confessed to me that he preferred to think of himself as a virgin birth.  When I asked why, he said he likes to think that his parents never had sex.  I have no idea where he thinks he got his Y chromosome from, as his mother has only the two Xs, but I suppose invoking miracles to do away with inconvenient thoughts is hardly something he invented.  Much like industrial meat production and the effectiveness of sneeze guards at salad bars, the topic of parental sex is one item we would probably rather leave unexamined.

Some organisms don’t need to avoid this topic, Continue reading

Try to stay still for your bone portrait.

I was recently at the dentist for a check-up and they had a chart on the wall, kind of like this one here.  In short it tells you how much radiation you’re exposed to when you engage in different activities.  For example flying from New York to Los Angeles exposes you to about the same amount of radiation as eight dental X-rays.  Believe it or not, flying exposes you to an increased amount of radiation coming from space.  A single flight across the ocean is no big deal but long-term elevated radiation exposure can increase your risk of some kinds of cancer, and it’s why workers that are exposed to elevated levels of things like X-rays are monitored to make sure exposure is kept to a minimum.

It got me thinking, while I listened to the slow and steady suction of spit from my oral cavity, “I wonder if Lois Lane, would have to wear a radiation safety badge?”  I am totally unsure about the radiation output Continue reading

Wasting away on a full stomach.

There are some things humans do better than bacteria.  We, generally, are better at writing novels and constructing screenplays. That said some individuals are only marginally better at communicating their needs to others.  Some bacteria communicate quite effectively chemically, while some people may not have such a record for clarity.

There is one area bacteria, such as E. coli and Bacillus subtilis, indisputably have us beat and that is in metabolism.  These organisms can take a few simple salts, a carbon source (sugar), and just a few trace metals on the glass wear and readily grow.  You or I … not so much.  Though I’m sure if you carbonate that mixture and ad caffeine it would probably make a simply disgusting energy drink Continue reading

Et tu Brute? Stories of betrayal and why you shouldn’t lose sleep over them.

I can remember the first time I felt deeply betrayed.  It wasn’t by a friend or a family member, but instead by a toy company.  The early 1990s  was a heady time for me.  I was fully immersed in the cartoon masterpiece that was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT).  I have not bothered to rewatch this show for fear that I would not currently share the opinions of my 5-year old self.  Being a prepubescent boy living in the suburbs of New Jersey, I considered this high art.  In a bid to further monetize the show, Playmates Toys released a line of TMNT action figures and accessories, which they advertised relentlessly on television at the time.  My obsession for the summer of 1990 became the “Mutant Module.”  Commercials showed a massive drill bit smashing through a nondescript countertop to break into a supposed gold vault.  In rewatching this tv spot, I’m not exactly clear on why I figured this thing could actually drill through table tops.  Nor am I certain about why I would want to destroy the various surfaces in my home, but at the time this seemed like a really desirable activity.  I was deeply disappointed to open the box though and find a collection of plastic and stickers, which wouldn’t drill through a paper bag let alone a countertop.

I further lost faith in corporate America when I begged my parents, for a straight month, to buy me a pair of sneakers known as LA lights.  It was my desire to “own the night,” as the ad campaign used to say.  I felt like every kid in third grade had them and I needed shoes that spit red hot LED fire, Continue reading

My elephant’s drug dealer.

I’ve never done LSD.  It’s not that I haven’t had the time, it’s just I’ve never really had a desire to have hallucinations.  I have enough trouble keeping track of what size bed sheets I need to buy.  I am pretty sure auditory and visual hallucinations would just induce me to buy extra king sized sheets for my queen sized bed.

Despite my reluctance, there is definitely a market for psychedelic drugs.  There is even a recent trend to write articles about how taking low doses of LSD might enhance work performancemake you more creative, and save your marriage.  To be perfectly honest Continue reading

Looking for life in all the wrong places.

Being boiled alive has never seemed like an exciting activity to me.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good cup of boiled water (tea leaves preferably included) I would just rather not be immersed in it.  It has a remarkably negative impact on human life expectancy, because we just aren’t built to withstand temperatures of 212ºF (100ºC).  I’ve also got to believe, that awareness of the safety hazard of very hot substances, is far from a recent development.  One has to imagine that shortly after fire was discovered, some one to two million years ago, that it was followed by the discovery of stop, drop, and roll.

Boiling bacteria on the other hand, was a largely unconsidered endeavour until much later.  Antonie von Leeuwenhoek learned that such things existed back in the late 1600’s when he was busy Continue reading