Friday, January 30, 2009

Court Allows Lesbian Expulsion

A California court of appeals has upheld the expulsion of two juniors from California Lutheran High School for "conducting themselves in a manner consistent with being lesbians". In other words, "hugging and kissing and doing all sorts of fun things every other teenager does, only with two vaginae involved". The girls had sued the school for breaking California's anti-discrimination laws, but the court concluded that since the school was a private institution and not a public business, it couldn't be held to the same legal standard. As much as I love lesbians in general and support their civil rights, I have to agree with the court decision in this case. No one has a right to go to a private school. In fact, one of the main reasons people choose to send their children to private schools specifically because of their often draconian religious rules. The government has no place dictating the practices of a private institution in which the terms of entering that private institution are agreed upon beforehand. And when you sign up for a ridiculous Christian school, you can bet those terms include "no diddling your gender-mates". However, it's totally within the rights of these two girls, the citizens of California, every American, and anyone else in the world to personally email the principal of California Lutheran High School, currently Mr. Steven Rosenbaum, to tell him what kind of person you have to be to throw two innocent girls out of your crappy school because you find them icky. His email address, which is available on the California Lutheran High School website, is rosenbaumsj@clhs-chawks.org. More details about the court ruling here.

Sasquatch Sculpture

While Sasquatch (a.k.a. Bigfoot, a.k.a. Ol' Hairy Back) has often been depicted as a vicious, brooding, decidedly male figure in modern myth, Canadian artist Allyson Mitchell is trying to turn that archetype inside out. Her sculpture exhibit at Hamilton, Ontario's McMaster Museum of Art depicts several giant, hairy Sasquatch figures that also happen to be anatomically correct women. Surrounding those figures are smaller, pink sculptures representing more traditional ideas of femininity. But if she's not careful, I'm thinking Mitchell's exhibit may just open a new avenue of highly specialized sexual fetishes. "The creatures are meant to be this sort of imaginary, utopian, dystopic community of lesbian, feminist, half-beast, half-women monsters," she said. Is is misogynist of me to be a little turned on right now? More details here.

Sexy Science

My favorite sci-fi blog io9 has posted a nice feature on the greatest advancements in the scientific study of human sexuality. Bullet points include the first published reports that sex for the fun of it is far more common than sex for the kid of it, the first scientific acknowledgment of bisexuality, the rise of transgender medical procedures, the reluctant acceptance of the female orgasm, the invention of the contraceptive pill, the acceptance of homosexuality as something other than a mental illness, the release of Viagra, and more. It's good reading, and it adds a few more victories to science's rapidly growing success pile. Thanks to science, I can be vaccinated against deadly illnesses, use computers, and not be looked down upon when I use computers to engage in disgusting sexual activities that may lead to me contracting deadly illnesses. Good times. Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cello Scrotum Hoax

While the scientific process of submitting research to journals for peer review results in a pretty good system of discovery, there are bound to be a few holes. Thirty years ago, Dr. Elaine Murphy submitted a letter to the British Medical Journal detailing her experiences with treating what she called “cello scrotum”. That is, an irritation cellists suffer from rubbing their testicles on their instruments. Of course, anyone who watches a cellist perform can tell that it’s difficult to rub your ballsack raw on the back of the instrument unless you have titanic balls. Still, the letter stuck. And when cello scrotum was referenced in a recent BMJ retrospective, Dr. Murphy decided to fess up that the whole thing was a hoax. She says she was inspired by a similar letter about “guitar nipple”. A spokesman for the BMJ says no one will be reprimanded for the fake letter, adding that such hoaxes contribute to the “gaiety of life”. Indeed. More details here.

GM Crops Work Again

The most ridiculous part about rabid opposition to genetically modified crops (other than the sci-fi notion that eating them will somehow cause freakish genetic disorders) is the fact that GM opponents often fight in the name of protecting the developing world. Because the companies that create certain modified strains of plant can patent those strains, people argue that this would create a situation where local farmers are driven out of business and people will starve to death due to high food prices. But the opposite is true. For one thing, farmers who purchase and use GM crops see a much higher yield for much less work. This means more money in their pockets, more money in the GM company’s Caribbean tax shelters, and more food in poor people’s stomachs at a much lower cost. It’s a win-win-win. And you can throw another win on the pile, since scientists at UC Davis have created a new strain of rice that is resistant to flooding. While rice is grown in flooded fields, uncontrollable weather conditions often cause the water levels to rise—submerging and killing the plants. This type of flooding destroys enough rice every year to feed thirty million people. That’s thirty million people who won’t necessarily have to go hungry thanks to the advent of this particular GM crop. Win-win-win-win. More winning here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Magnetic Detox

“Magnetic” and “detox” are two buzzwords that usually indicate quackery is afoot, but scientists at Gyeongsang National University in South Korea have created a magnetic detox system that actually seems to work. Before we get to that, however, it’s probably a good idea to go over why these two terms are usually so suspect. Magnets are often sold as a cure-all in bracelet or mattress pad or necklace form. People who don’t understand science and want to take your money claim that magnetic fields have mystical healing effects on the body. They don’t. Mostly because they only thing in your body even remotely likely to be noticeably affected by magnets is the iron in your blood, and that’s not even a type of iron that’s magnetic. In other words, magnet therapy is crap. “Detox” is also often a scam. People try and scare you into thinking there are all sorts of deadly chemicals swimming around in your body do to living in the modern world. If only you had a colon cleanser or special diet plan to flush that shit out! The only problem is that these chemicals either don’t exist or don’t hurt you. The fact is, people are living longer than ever, despite our toxic diets and processed foods. Which leads us to magnetic detox. While it’s not much of a problem in developed countries, the third world struggles with lead poisoning, whether from fuel or other unregulated sources. But researchers have found a way to attach nickel-containing nanoparticles to a receptor that binds to lead in the body. This effectively magnetizes the lead and allows it to be drawn out of the blood. Pretty damn cool. And theoretically, this same technique could be used to magnetize and filter just about any unwanted toxin from the blood. Great news for nervous folks faced with a pop drug test? Only time will tell. More details here.

Fat Virus

A study to be presented on an upcoming BBC television special suggests that an adenovirus called AD-36 may contribute to obesity in humans. Of course, your skeptical antennae should be waggling furiously at this news, since we all know that real scientific studies usually appear in peer-reviewed journals before they’re trotted out to television. But the results are compelling, because they seem to back up previous research on the same adenovirus. In 1997, scientists at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana discovered that up to 15% of research subjects carried antibodies to AD-36, which indicated that they had been exposed to the virus in the past. In 2006, it was discovered that a similar adenovirus, AD-37, causes obesity in chickens. When it was later revealed that AD-36 could transform adult stem cells into fat cells, it became pretty clear that this virus could possibly expand the waistlines of people. This new research found that 33% of obese adults had contracted AD-36 sometime in their lives, compared to 11% of skinny bastards. It’s thought that when AD-36 replicates itself in fat cells, it leads to the creation of more fat cells. Of course, none of this negates the fact that the primary cause of obesity is simply eating too damn much. So if you’re bursting out of your jeans, it’s probably best to not blame a viral infection and instead wave off that third cheeseburger. More details here.

Transparent Government

For however many godawful eternities Dick Cheney was vice president, his mansion on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory had been digitally obscured on Google Maps. This kind of dickish, ineffectual (we all know where the vice president’s mansion is, for Christ’s sake) secrecy was just another in a long line of similar moves by Mr. Cheney, and no one was really surprised. However, Google claimed that the government had nothing to do with the blurry blob of pixels that replaced the home. Their map images come from independent third parties, and the mysterious photograph of the Cheney’s house was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey. But in a suspicious “coincidence”, the pixelization seems to have cleared up with the arrival of Vice President Joe Biden. Another promise of transparent government made good on the part of the Obama administration? Or, as Google claims, a simple correction made by the new satellite provider, DigitalGlobe, Inc.? The world may never know. But at least the world may now peer into Biden’s sunroof and laugh at an aerial view of his hair plugs. More details here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Goat in Custody

So, police in the Nigerian state of Kwarma have arrested a goat on suspicion of trying to steal a Mazda. And before you get all up in arms about how this is ridiculous and hilarious and depressing all at the same time, you should know that they don't think the goat tried to steal the Mazda in its current form. That would be absurd, since everyone knows you can't hotwire a car with hooves. No, this goat used to be a person, but when he was being chased by a group of vigilantes, he turned toward a wall and transformed into the goat. See? Now it makes perfect sense. And it's effective law enforcement like this that has Nigeria on the fast track to being a world power player. More details here.

Tom Hanks vs. Mormons

I don't know what it is about Tom Hanks that makes him so damn likable, but it's hard to hate the guy. Even when he stars in hatefully awful movies like Forrest Gump. And apparently, he's hell-bent on remaining the most likable guy in Hollywood, because he's apologizing to Mormons for calling them un-American in their quest to keep gays from marrying. It's a well-known fact by now that the Mormon church funneled millions of dollars into California last fall to push for the passage of Proposition 8, a state-wide ban on gay marriages that had previously been ruled legal by the courts. In his letter of apology to the church, Hanks said, "I believe Proposition 8 is counter to the promise of our Constitution; it is codified discrimination." Hey, that's true! I love that guy! But then he goes on to explain, "But everyone has a right to vote their conscience; nothing could be more American." Hey, that's also true... God, I love that guy. But while the simple act of voting in a democracy couldn't be more American, is that Americanism negated at all when you vote to infringe upon the rights of other citizens? Perhaps Hanks should have chosen his words more carefully. Instead of calling them un-American, he should have been more specific. Mormons are as American as apple pie and monster trucks, but many of them also happen to be ignorant, bigoted, hateful, and obnoxious. Unlike Tom Hanks, who is just swell. More details here.

And the Orders Keep Rollin'

I've been pretty skeptical about Barack Obama's plans for the country over the last few months, but damned if I'm not pleased with what he's been doing since taking (and retaking) the oath of office. Hot on the heels of executive orders to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and shut down illegal CIA rendition sites, the new president has also fired off orders to reverse the Bush era policy of withholding federal funds from charitable organizations that provide information about abortion. Groups like Planned Parenthood could help provide valuable birth control education to poor countries that desperately need it, but they were previous held to a different standard than those who spread abstinence-only nonsense. And in another executive order, Obama was revoked the sweeping allowances made by the Bush administration to keep official executive branch documents secret after a presidential term is up. Under the new rules, an outgoing president may request that certain documents be kept secret, but he or she can't force the National Archives to do so. Yes, this is a move toward more transparent government, and it's a partial fulfillment of one of Obama's campaign promises. I'm no fan of executive orders generally (I'd prefer congressional oversight on sweeping policy issues), but I can't complain about any of these changes. And once again, it feels creepy to say that about a sitting president's decisions. More details here and here.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Scientists from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland and the University of Michigan have successfully teleported quantum information between two separate atoms in unconnected enclosures a meter apart. And unlike in any of Deepak Chopra’s books, this time “quantum” actually means something. Using the principle of entanglement, two atomic or subatomic objects can have their qualities entwined without any sort of physical connection. Teleportation involves transferring quantum qualities such as particle spin and photon polarity between entangled objects instantaneously. Previously, scientists have only been able to teleport information between photons, between photons and atoms, or between two atoms with a third acting as medium. But with the successful teleportation of information between just two atoms, it becomes possible to build a system of quantum computing—literally teleporting information instead of sending it through some sort of physical medium like silicon or copper wire. And you know what that means. Instant porn! More details here.

Seasonal Shift

It’s pretty well accepted that the increase in global temperatures due to human douchebaggery has mucked with the overall climate, but a new study out of UC Berkeley and Harvard suggests a very specific consequence. Namely, the planet’s seasons have shifted forward by roughly two days. At least over land, that is. The oceans don’t seem to be as affected, and that may be because the temperature increases over land have messed with the Northern Annular Mode, a pattern of atmospheric winds that directly relates to the onset and severity of the seasons. In the last fifty years, the coldest days of winter and the warmest days of summer have both shifted forward, effectively moving the rest of the seasons with them. This all might sound a little bit scary, but look on the bright side. Christmas in July might actually become a viable possibility. More details here.

Pope: Careful with the Facebook, There

Because he’s an expert on all forms of technology and social interaction, Joey Ratz (a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI, a.k.a. Ratzo Rizzo) has released a statement outlining his position on Facebook and other we-based social networking tools. He describes these technologies as “gifts”, saying that they fill an innate human need for communication and fellowship. But at the same time, he warned against “obsessive” usage of MySpace and Facebook lest they lead to physical isolation or marginalization. No shit. Look, we all know what Ratzo was really getting at here. As part of his statement in honor of the World Day of Communications, Joey also urged the gatekeepers of social networking technology to respect the “goodness and intimacy of human sexuality”. In other words, no random online hookups. Probably sound advice for those of us unwilling to contract rare and exotic STDs, but where other than Craigslist am I going to fulfill my needs as an SWM i/s/o PBM 4 A2M w/ SM goat? Where, I ask you? More details here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sex and Death

When the Erie Canal was completed in 1825, it finally brought seafaring commerce from New York and the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. It also created a highway for millions of blood-sucking lampreys. The vampiric pests have no predators in the Lakes, so they’re free to latch onto fish with their disgusting circular jaws and carve through their scales with razor sharp tongues, feeding on their blood and juices until the fish die. Ah, nature. Well, scientists from Michigan State University have discovered a way to lure the lampreys to a well-deserved grave. They’ve harnessed the irresistible allure of male lamprey sex pheromones to seduce ovulating females into traps. This is the first time such pheromone-based pest control has worked in anything other than insects. Plus, it will cut down on the $20 million spent annually to control these vicious beasts. And oddly, this is exactly how British spies have been killing foreign terrorists and criminally insane entrepreneurs for years. More details here.

Politician Keeps Promises

On his second full day as president, Barack Obama has signed three executive orders doing away with the Bush administrations draconian and quite possibly illegal detention and interrogation policies. The first order closes all of the so-called “black sites” operated by the CIA in eastern Europe and around the world as secret detention facilities for suspected terrorists. The extreme secrecy surrounding those sites made them prime locations for illegal and inhumane torture practices that the previous administration was known to condone and even request. This executive order will also specifically require any interrogations to follow the codes of the U.S. Army Field Manual, which don’t include torture and are safely within the legal bounds of the Geneva Conventions. The second and third executive orders will dictate the closing of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay within twelve months and see to the relocation of any federal detainees. As much as I’m happy about these decisions, I don’t know if I like all this rational and moral behavior from the president. Maybe I’m just not used to it, but it feels a little creepy. I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop and Obama will be photographed in an extramarital threeway on the Oval Office floor while wiping his ass with the Constitution. At least then I’d feel normal again. More details here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Non-Spontaneous Human Combustion

Police in Knoxville, Tennessee heard someone moaning in an apartment, so of course they busted down the door. And instead of discovering an erotically compromising situation, they found a gentleman with burns on his face and hands. Mysteriously, THERE WAS NO SIGN OF FIRE! Okay, that's not true. There was a candle burning in the bathroom. (Erotic?) But the sketchy details of this barely newsworthy story are being played up as some sort of deep mystery. True, it would be weird if this man suddenly burned himself when he was nowhere near a flame, but the fact is that from what we know so far, there's no reason to think the place he was found burned and moaning was the same place the burns occurred. And if this man's reaction to spontaneously losing layers of precious skin is to sit on the living room floor and moan, I question his ability not to hurt himself with an open flame. More details here. And read my harrowing Ask an Amateur Scientist essay on spontaneous human combustion here.

God Hates Obama

Not everyone attending the inaugural ceremonies was there to witness history and/or throw their shoes at an inflatable George W. Bush effigy. No, some were there to spread the love of God. Wait, did I say "love"? I meant the other thing. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas were on hand to hold signs educating the public that not only does God hate Obama, but He also hates jobs. Or something. Yes, these are the same people who regularly picket the funerals of homosexuals and members of the military. They run GodHatesFags.com, and they're adorably horrible. Here's a video of some of their confrontations with history witnesses on the crowded D.C. streets on inauguration day. And for more fun, check out my interview with Fred Phelps, Jr., the son of this church's pastor, here.

Obama Skepticism

Yes, the inauguration of President Obama was a momentous and historic occasion. Yes, it was inspiring to see so poignant a symbol of America's steady march of civil progress. Yes, we all lost ourselves wondering how many portable toilets were literally overflowing with human waste after being abused by two million looky-loos. But amidst all this optimism for the future of the United States, we shouldn't forget to dust off our skeptics' caps and look at the new administration with a critical eye. To that end, Politico has published an article called "Seven Reasons for Healthy Skepticism", in which a case is made to doubt the positive spin on the Obama presidency. Issues discussed include the fallacy of trusting so-called "genius" experts like those Obama has brought in as economic advisors, the need to question the wisdom of profoundly bipartisan legislation, and the necessity of realizing that the U.S. is in more debt than it's ever been. So why not put down your Barack Obama commemorative vegetable dicer and get to reading? Whole thing here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Any Enemy of Chavez’s…

Between the commemorative plates, the tacky coins, the overblown concerts, and the tearful dedications, I’m getting pretty sick of this freakish cult of Barack Obama that’s been growing up over the last few months. The fact is that we won’t know how good or bad a president he’ll be until after he leaves office. I voted for the guy, and I’m hoping for the best, but maybe people should reel in their worship before it makes them immune to critical thought. That said, Obama has scored a few more points in my book after being insulted by the furry little Venezuelan dictator wannabe Hugo Chavez. Referring to an interview wherein Obama rationally criticized Chavez for hindering his country’s relations with foreign powers and for apparently contributing support to FARC, the Colombian terrorist group, Hugo complained that Obama had “the same stench” as George W. Bush. That stench? Sulfur, apparently, as Chavez claims that Bush is a literal devil. Just the kind of behavior you want to see from a civilized world leader. For all his many problems, Mr. Chavez, at least Bush didn’t try to change his country’s laws so he could be president for life. In other words, you’re a hilarious parody of a human being. More details here.

Thai King: Douchebag

Australian author Harry Nicolaides has been sentenced to three years in a Thai prison for insulting the country’s king, Bhumibol Adulydej. It’s a crime to insult the royal family in any way in Thailand, and officials there describe Nicolaides’ self-published novel Verisimilitude as an attack on the king and crown prince. As much as King Bhumibol Adulydej is indeed a douchebag for being too much of a pussy to handle criticism, CNN also deserves a little of that genital washing attention for refusing to reprint the offending passages from the book, citing their fear that doing so would open their employees to prosecution in Thailand. The very basis of journalism is a respect and unwavering commitment to preserving free speech. Whether that means reprinting cartoons of Muhammad or passages from some vanity press novel, CNN has an obligation to do just that. Just as the governments of every free country have an obligation to see to it Nicolaides is released. This is a distinct possibility, as Adulydej has pardoned foreigners arrested for the same reasons before. But the fact remains that any country with such an oppressive and petty law should suffer the pressure of world governments. I don’t know what Nicolaides wrote about the king, but for the sake of argument, let’s just assume he called Adulydej a pompous, limp-dicked blowhard who’s unfit to rule a country. If you live in Thailand, go ahead and print that out and pass it around. More details here.

Germans Make Good Stuff

If, like me, you’ve seen the commercials for the ShamWow! and wondered why you shouldn’t track down that headset-wearing human cartoon and set him on fire, you might want to take a look at Elyse’s latest article on Skepchick. In it, she lays out the case for Headset Vince, documenting his victimization by the Church of Scientology. Turns out, Vince used his connections through Scientology’s Celebrity Center to make an awful movie. When the cult found out the movie was awful, they banded together to make Headset Vince’s life a living hell. Now, Headset Vince is forced to pimp supertowels and slap-based chopping devices to fund his quest for vengeance against the Scientologists who did him wrong. If you ever needed a reason to buy a freakishly efficient liquid soaking device, this is it. But while Elyse suggests you buy not only ShamWow!s and SlapChops but also Headest Vince’s terrible movie, I can’t go that far. You might be wondering why the cult would come down so hard on this flick while approving of the cinematic partial-birth abortion that is Battlefield Earth, but you haven’t seen Headset Vince’s movie. Trust me, if you did, you might come out on the wrong side of this equation. Read the whole article here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ask, Tell

While answering questions from actual humans during a YouTube Q&A, the Obama administration’s incoming press secretary Robert Gibbs said that they will work to repeal the ridiculous “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the U.S. military. Bill Clinton oversaw the establishment of the rule, which says that gays can serve in the military as long as they don’t tell anyone they’re gay. Of course, this is still a ban on gays serving in the military. It just outlaws any kind of brutal, sweaty, homoerotic interrogation of a soldier about his sexuality. Because his brain works, Obama has long been a critic of the policy, but there’s still been no concrete plan discussed about how his administration will actually get it repealed. As commander in chief, Obama will have direct power over the military, but he probably won’t want to go in like some sort of strong-arming, gay-loving warlord. Most likely, he’ll try to get some brass on his side first. And on a related note, I noticed a subtle bit of ignorance in the linked Fox News story on the matter. (Yes, shocking.) It’s pointed out that the “gay community” is eager for a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, which implies that only gay people care about gay rights. You see this kind of weirdness all the time in any news story about minorities asking for equal treatment, and it’s just absurd. I’m eager for a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” despite the fact that I’m not gay. I just care about treating humans like humans. Of course, if I had a shot at Eric Bana’s sweet ass, I can’t say I’d turn it down. More details here.

Fearless Orgasm

Guess what. If you’re a woman, you can’t be fearful or anxious and still achieve a genuine orgasm. Researchers in the Netherlands squirted a dye that shows changes in brain function into thirteen women and their sexual partners who were asked to diddle each other on a scanning machine bed. Women who faked orgasms showed greater activity in the cortex, the conscious part of the brain, while women who achieved genuine orgasm actually had a decrease in activity in the areas of the brain that govern fear and anxiety. This explains why I never had much luck with women when I lived in that haunted house. And it also provides a fail-proof test for anyone wondering if his or her ladyfriend is really getting off. The moment she starts wailing, wave a rattlesnake in her face. If she grabs it by the neck and bites its head right the fuck off, you know she’s crossed the threshold. Of course, for safety’s sake, you might not want to use a real rattlesnake. Unless that’s what you’re into. More details here.

The Smell of Mars

NASA scientists have detected concentrated regions of atmospheric methane above certain areas of the Martian surface. Methane is a byproduct of either of two processes: geological activity or biological activity. Since methane in the atmosphere is quickly dissipated by sunlight, the fact that there are concentrated regions suggests that something is replenishing the supply. In other words, HOLY SHIT, THERE’S LIFE ON MARS! Or at least, that’s what you might think from reading many of the insanely melodramatic headlines about this new methane report. The fact is that no one knows yet whether this methane is being caused by Martian geology or alien microbes. The most abundant sources of geological methane are active volcanoes, and these regions don’t appear to have any of those. But there’s another process called serpentinisation, in which rocks containing olivine and pyroxene minerals react with water to produce methane. Since temperatures below the Martian permafrost are high enough to melt surface ice, this could be fuel for serpentinisation or for farting microbes. In short, we need more data. Of course, that’s not stopping me from launching an all-out nuclear assault on Mars. They may just be tiny microbes, but I’m just getting over the Earth flu. If it helps, you can just consider my attack a vaccination. More details here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI: Paranormal Investigator

Joey Ratz (a.k.a. “The Pope”, a.k.a. “Ratzo Rizzo”) has had it up to his silly hat with people making false claims about seeing the Virgin Mary, bleeding miraculously from their palms, and having other divine personal relations with God. Before he became pope, he wrote a treatise on how the upswing in these supernatural claims could destroy the church by ruining its credibility. Plus, if so many people have God on speed dial, what’s the role of a bunch of middlemen in dresses? So to help suss out the false claims from the real ones, he’s set up a multi-pronged system of investigation. The first rule of divine apparitions is you don’t talk about divine apparitions. If people refuse to quit blabbing about their bloody Mary statues, the deal’s off. Next, the visionaries will be examined by trained psychiatrists (either atheists or Catholics) to determine if they’re batshit insane. Third, potential miracle victims will have their educational backgrounds checked to see if they have the knowhow to perpetrate a hoax. If they pass all three of these tests, they will then be examined by an exorcist or demonologist to discover if these holy visions aren’t actually the work of Satan trying to lead people astray. Wait a second here… I was fine with the first three, but that last one sounds an awful lot like asking a vacuum cleaner salesman to tell you if your carpet’s dirty. And regardless, why not just let them all slide? There’s millions of dollars in merchandising potential for a single weeping Jesus sculpture. And the church sure could use that cash for their silly hats fund. More details here.

Hitler Taken Into Custody

You may remember a story hitting your local news’ “what the fuck?” section a few weeks ago about a bakery that refused to make a birthday cake sporting the name of a three-year-old named Adolf Hitler Campbell. Maybe they thought it was a stupid joke. Maybe they still feel a little animosity toward that other Adolf Hitler guy. Regardless, it created a stir. And the stir became a little quicker when little Adolf’s parents, Heath and Deborah Campbell of New Jersey, claimed not to be racist neo-Nazis, despite the fact that their other two children are named JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Campbell. Anyway, everything seemed to end well. Walmart agreed to make Adolf Hitler’s birthday cake (bless them), and the media stopped knocking down the door of the Campbells’ (I’m assuming) trailer. But now child protective services has gotten involved and removed Adolf, Aryan Nation, and Hinler from their home. No specific claims of abuse are cited, but I’m thinking it might have something to do with the Nazi connection. If so, this is a little bit insane. There are millions of children raised in clandestinely and even overtly racist homes all the time, but you can’t steal them from their parents just for that. Mostly because being an ignorant racist isn’t illegal. And if the state is now classifying ridiculous and embarrassing names as abuse, then I’m afraid my friend Richard Head should be allowed to sue his parents for all they’re worth. Of course, not all the details are in. For all we know, the cops might have found a stash of bloody baby shoes under the Campbells’ (I’m assuming) trailer. But something smells funny here, and it isn’t Adolf Hitler’s moldy old birthday cake. More details (sort of) here.

Godless Prayer

Most of the religion-based inaugural attention is going to Barack Obama’s pick of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation this Tuesday, not much mind is being paid to the fact that gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson (seen here looking like a million bucks) will be delivering the opening prayer of official inauguration festivities on Sunday. (Seriously? Festivities? This is a presidential inauguration, people. Not a maypole-dancing coronation fair.) And according to an interview with NPR, Robinson won’t be invoking the name of Jesus. “My intention is…to make this a prayer for Christians and non-Christians alike,” he said. He’s taking a cue from his experience in twelve-step programs for alcoholism and making reference only to a “god of our many understandings”. Of course, any such motions toward all-inclusiveness fall short in one key area. Even if you’re talking about some amorphous god blob that means the same thing or nothing to all people of faith, you’re still leaving out people of no faith. This is why Alcoholics Anonymous, even with its adherence to a vague god-thing, it still considered a religious program by the courts. Evangelical nutjobs, of course, are outraged. But that’s really their natural state of being, so it’s nothing to worry about. More details here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Force is in Your Brain

It’s about time we threw away our button-based controllers, our motion-based Wiimotes, and our hipster douchebag-based iPhone touch screens. Mind control is the future, people. No, mad scientists, I’m not talking about controlling other people’s minds (for sex). That’s a ways off, so you just go on ahead with your erotic fantasy fiction. Anyway, it looks like mind/machine interfaces might be making their way to our homes via toys—specifically, the Star Wars Force Trainer. Using a modified version of EEG technology, your snot-nosed kid (or, let’s face it, you) will wear a headset that detects your brain activity and translates it into a command for the toy. But before you get some telekinetic fantasy swirling in your head, you should know that the “toy” consists entirely of a plastic tube with an air-levitated ping pong ball inside. Using your head meat, you control the power of the air flow, thus raising and lowering the ball. Exciting! Also, the things beeps Star Wars noises at you and says stuff. And all this fun can be yours for about $100 later this year. More details here.

Size Matters

Men with longer proportionally longer ring fingers than index fingers have a higher chance at success in risky businesses like rapid stocks trading, though unfortunately there’s no data on how finger length affects other risky businesses such as running a home brothel. This according to a study by the U.K.’s University of Cambridge, which found that over twenty months, a group of male stock traders with a wider ratio between the lengths of their ring and index fingers made eleven times more money than those whose ring and index fingers were closer to the same size. The difference in length between the two fingers is determined during the development of the fetus, when exposure to testosterone can cause the ring finger to grow longer. Increased testosterone can make a man more prone to risk taking and aggression—potentially lucrative traits in a trader. Still, the difference between long-fingered traders and short-fingered traders wasn’t much more than the difference between those with experience and those without. Veteran traders make about nine times more money than less experienced ones, regardless of finger length. Unfortunately for me, the fact that my fingers are separated by a thin, webby flap of skin means that I’ll only be particularly successful in a post-apocalyptic waterworld. More details here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Citizen Obama: The Video

Hey, here's something. Those nutjobs who are hell-bent on barring Barack Obama from being sworn in as president because he's not a natural born citizen have put together a TV ad that all the major networks have refused to air. Luckily, YouTube, the proud home of all filmed entertainments not good enough for broadcast media, comes to the rescue. You might have to watch it a few times to soak in the crazy.

Actually, "crazy" might be a little harsh here. One of the most vocal "Obama is not a citizen" proponents is radio host Ed Hale, who years ago tried to perpetrate a Bigfoot hoax on the world. Maybe he just misses all the attention? And you can read my debunking of the matter here.


It's long been known by people who know such things that there's very little sex going on in an ant colony. The queen collects a reserve of sperm once in her life and eventually uses it to produce thousands of eggs. (The freakish Duggar family on TLC works much the same way.) If any male ants start feeling a little randy and take a female companion behind a dirt mound for a little hot antennae injection, other ants will even attack the both of them. And the colony's queen will mark for death any chicks she deems as floozies. (Usually the ones wearing sexy skirts and dominatrix boots. Or so I've heard.) Now, scientists have finally discovered what tips off the ant sex NARCs that their brothers and/or sisters are about to get it on. Ants that are capable of reproduction produce a chemical called cuticular hydrocarbon, which gives off a distinctive scent. It's this scent that sends prudish ant warriors into a Puritanical rage. So the next time you see a slackjawed kid passing the time by incinerating ants with a magnifying glass and sunlight, why not suggest he torture them by sprinkling a little cuticular hydrocarbon on their mound? It's fun to watch, and he'll learn a valuable lesson about life. More details here.

E.T. Jerky

I've always wondered what happens to all the cows found with their sex organs and mouths surgically removed by extraterrestrials. I mean, we all know what the aliens are doing with the parts they take. Mancow supersoldiers, of course. But the rest of that carcass seems like wasted meat. Sure, it might be a little rotten, but that doesn't mean you couldn't slap it in a Sonic Drive-In steak and cheese breakfast burrito, for instance. Would anyone really notice? Well, a California company has decided to do the next best thing. They've scraped the flies off all that delicious flesh, dehydrated it, and are churning out Alien Fresh Jerky (Premium). I haven't had the pleasure of tasting any yet, but I can't really tell from the picture if this jerky looks better than any other. Frankly, I don't really know what to look for in a "good" jerky, since I only eat the kind that comes in a snappy tube form. Still, I'm a little concerned about that packaging. It reminds me of the old Ziploc bag commercial where the woman in the phone booth is offered a bag of angry bees inside an official Ziploc brand bag with its yellow and blue make green seal or some off brand. She chose the Ziploc, since color combinations always mean safety. Don't see any yellow and blue making green on this stuff. In fact, is that mold growing in there? Alien mold? More details here. (And thanks to Rebecca for the tip.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Smell of Sex

It's long been debated whether chemical pheromones have the same affect among humans as they do animals. There are plenty of furry, four-footed freaks in the wild who can attract a mate with a spritz from their juice glands, but the same isn't really true of people. And I have first-hand confirmation of this fact. Still, it's hard to test the effectiveness of human pheromones, since the brain's response to these scentless chemicals is subconscious. But with the advent of fMRI, we can now measure even brain activity of which the subject is unaware. So Rice University set up an experiment where men were asked to cut out the deodorant for a few days and wear some sweat-catching pads under their armpits. The sweat they produced while in a state of arousal from watching nasty, nasty porn was collected alongside the sweat they produced when they weren't aroused. Then, women were asked to take whiffs of both pads while (mad) scientists measured their brain responses using fMRI. Turns out sexy sweat lights up a whole different region of the brain than non-sexy sweat. In other words, we're probably slaves to our chemical desires whether we know it or not. But still, I want to personally stress to all of you that this should in no way serve as an excuse to spritz your juices on people. At least not without asking first. More details here.

Boy Birthin'

When they analyzed some of California's birth statistics, a group of economists discovered that Asian women were more likely to have male children than those of other races. Turns out that modern medical technology may be a boon to immigrants from countries such as India and China where male children are more valued than females. While the most common form of sex selection for pregnant women has been and probably still is good old fashioned abortion, some families are spending as much as $18,000 for a procedure called PGD, preimplantation genetic diagnosis. With PGD, fertilized embryos are harvested and analyzed as to their gender after a few cell divisions. Then the male embryos can be implanted into the womb. In many cultures, male children are seen as something of a status symbol, and sex selection has its roots in the concept of the male being the heir of the family name and fortune. Fortunately, there are no reported cases of female infanticide in the U.S., as opposed to other countries where families have been known to simply murder their girls after birth. Personally, I have mixed feelings about this whole thing. On the one hand, I don't think the world needs any more men, since we haven't done the best job with it all these years. But on the other, I have to admit to being tempted by the idea of genetic birth selection. Right now we can choose to have boys or girls, but I'm hoping in the future technology like PGD can be used to give me a sun with fully functional wings and laser-shooting eyes. Because I've always wanted to be the Emperor of the Universe's dear old dad. More details here.

Secret Racism

A new study out of York University in Toronto suggests that people are far more racist than they think they are. Or, more specifically, far more racist than they say they are. Researchers had test subjects wait in a room with two other people (one white and the other black) who were tasked with roleplaying a particular scene. One scene had the black person bump the white person on the knee when leaving the room, prompting the white person to mutter to the test subject something along the lines of "I hate it when black people do that." If that seems pretty bizarre, it's because it is. I've heard lots of odd stereotypes about black people, but being chronic knee bumpers isn't one of them. Anyway, a second, more severe scenario was set up where the white person used the world famous Worst Word for Black People after having his knee jostled. In both scenarios, the responses of the test subjects to this display of racism weren't nearly as emotional or outraged as the subjects predicted they'd be when presented with a hypothetical act of overt racism. In other words, they claimed to be more offended by racism than their reactions to it would suggest. The authors of this study seem to think that this indicates a strain of subconscious racism in people, but I think that might be jumping to a conclusion. It seems just as likely that people are indeed outraged by racism but are just too timid to publicly confront actual racists. Once, when I was in line at the grocery store, some guy whispered a racist comment about a black woman ahead of us in line. I wanted to shove my zucchini down his throat and box his ears, but I'm a pussy. Plus, I had a zucchini salad to make. My inaction didn't mean I secretly agreed with the guy. The only race I hate is the Tour de France. Fucking pedal pumpers... More details here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Scary Jesus

Rev. Ewen Souter has removed a frightening crucifix sculpture from the grounds of his church in West Sussex because the public found it too scary. The ten foot Jesus made of coal dust and resin, Souter said, no longer represents the message of hopefulness the church wants to impart. I agree that the thing is sort of hideous--kind of like something a teenage goth kid would doodle in his spiral notebook. But aren't crucifixes supposed to be scary? How is this one any worse than the millions of other sculptures of a broken, bloody, nearly naked man dangling from nails? This dusty Jesus will be moved to a museum and replaced with a Christ-free stainless steel cross. It's supposed to invoke images of the miraculous resurrection, but I think this is simply a case of aesthetics. No one wants weird, ugly '60s tackiness anymore. Everything has to be sleek and modern and shiny. I blame the Fine Living network. More details here.


One of the disadvantages of nanotechnology is that the smaller the objects you're working with, the more you have to consider the crazy properties of quantum physics. For instance, metal objects on a molecular scale can fall prey to the Casimir force, which causes them to stick together. But scientists at Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health have successfully demonstrated the opposite quantum effect. They dipped a gold-coated sphere in liquid and measured the force of its attraction to a metallic plate. But they were also able to measure the force as it repelled a plate made from silica. This confirms previous research that suggested some materials repel each other on a quantum scale. By taking advantage of this force, nanomachines could be made to have frictionless moving parts, which would have applications in medicine, computing, and my eventually conquest of the Earth and moon. Wait, did I say I was going to conquer the Earth and moon? I must have been mistaken. I have no plans at this moment to infiltrate the U.S. government's secret frictionless nanoweapons factory and steal its merchandise. And implication to the contrary is simply silly. More details here. But not about my plan. Assuming I have one.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Shaking Money Maker Won't Make it Smaller

Every time I look at myself naked in the mirror (which seems to be more and more often since I moved into Versailles), I think about how I should maybe start jogging. But then I look out the window and see all those flabby thighs in nylon shorts and all those dangling iPod headphone cords and ridiculous flapping arms, and I just pop open another can of Pringles. But according to a new study from Loyola University, it's the Pringles much more than the not jogging that has contributed to my succulent new set of breasts. Researchers compared the weights of women in urban Chicago to those of women in rural Nigeria. Not surprisingly, the Nigerian women were thinner. Not not surprisingly, however, the Nigerian women also didn't do much more physical activity than their counterparts overseas. Turns out that diet has much more of a role in the junkiness of your trunkiness than climbing on a sweaty old Stairmaster. The Nigerian diet is high in fiber and carbohydrates but low in fat and animal protein, while the American diet is nothing much more than spoonfuls of lard and processed cheese. Of course, exercise has all sorts of health benefits other than weight control, but I'm not concerned with those. I'll trade a little high blood pressure and mild depression for never having to buy an iPod Shuffle. More details here.

I Agree With Rick Warren

In a video address to the members of his Jesus resort/shopping mall/church, purpose-driven pastor Rick Warren has explained that gay marriage is a "humanitarian and human issue". For once, Rick Warren is right! At least when it comes to the words he used. Not so right is his intended meaning, which is that because gay people are a minority, they shouldn't be allowed to infringe upon the rights of the majority to change the definition of marriage. What Warren doesn't seem to understand is that the definition of marriage has changed many times throughout history. It's been a property arrangement, a business transaction, and a union only between people of the opposite sex and the same race. The only constant in the many varied definitions of the term is the idea that it is a contract entered into by two people. In which case, what's the problem with letting the gays in on some of that hot legal action? Obviously, it boils down to the fact that Warren and people like him believe that God thinks being gay is icky, so we shouldn't allow those people the same human rights as everyone else. So yeah, Rick. It is a humanitarian issue. You're just on the wrong side. More details here.


If this is a sign of things to come after CNN killed off its science reporting division, America's most trusted name in news may soon be worth watching only for the Anderson Cooper/Kathy Griffin New Year's comedy team-up. The network's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen posted an article today with the headline "The best alternative medicine for children". It's just another in a long line of useless stories about "western" doctors being unable to treat illnesses better understood by "alternative" medicine. Some of the suggestions aren't too bad. Giving your child probiotics for diarrhea, for example, could actually be effective under a doctor's supervision. And there is evidence to suggest that the herb St. John's wort can help depression. But the problem with these "alternative" treatments is that they often aren't subjected to the rigorous standards of testing that real medicine is. Yes, St. John's wort may be an effective herb, but you'll often find different dosages from brand to brand or even from pill to pill. More egregious is this article's endorsement of using fish oil as an alternative to real asthma medication. Even if fish oil is an effective treatment for such a potentially life threatening illness, no parent should ever try and make an end run around a trained medical doctor. Cohen relates stories of parents who couldn't receive adequate treatment from their family pediatrician and had to turn to other sources, but she fails to mention the huge numbers of children whose lives are literally saved every passing minute by "western" medicine. This portrayal of trained doctors as stodgy know-nothings is dangerous and absurd. No homeopath or herbalist has ever made a medical contribution even approaching the benefits of real, evidence-based advancements like vaccinations, antibiotics, or any of the myriad contributions of "western" medicine that have created the quality of life we enjoy today.

In other words, Elizabeth Cohen (and by extension CNN) is bad at her job. Read all the misguided nonsense here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Not All Black People Hate Gays

One of the most common sounds heard after the passage of California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage (aside from the dying screams of rationality) was a hysterical whining about how black people tipped the scales in favor of the ban. Exit polling at the time showed something like 70% of black voters approved of the ban, which was well above the just over half of non-black voters who supported it. Black people, it was concluded, hate the gays. But a new study of actual voting records shows that gay marriage opposition had much less to do with race than it did with religious affiliation. It turns out only about 58% of black voters supported the ban. Still higher than the average among other races, but not at all surprising when you consider that 57% of black voters in California also attend church once a week. This is opposed to the 42% of non-black Californians who worship weekly. The obvious conclusion here is that bigotry and contempt for equal rights isn't born of genetics but is instead an export of the church. Not much of a surprise to anyone with a functioning brain, but now there are at least some hard numbers to back it up. Someone should get to work on a pie chart right away. More details here.

Schadenfreude: The Return

Sure, we all got plenty of giggles out of the professional demise of former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard. It's fun to watch someone fall from egotistical self-proclaimed spiritual leader to disgraced homosexual prostitute patron and meth head. But the fact that Haggard was a lying asshole aside, you don't have much of a heart if your joy didn't eventually turn into pity. At least a little bit. Here's a guy working under a system that not only won't let him admit who he is sexually but actually pretends that his natural biology is some sort of disease. Plus, who doesn't like man whores and a little bit of meth every now and then? Aside from most of us. Anyway, Haggard has finally been released from the gag order (easy now...) placed on him by his former church. While it may sound a little extreme that he wasn't allowed to publicly talk about his personal problems, the church actually gave Haggard a pretty fair deal: one year's salary (about $130,000) in exchange for not running to the media and giving them any more of a bad name. But now Haggard has slipped on his trainers and is running to HBO, where a documentary called The Trials of Ted Haggard will air later this month. In lieu of a new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, this documentary might not be too bad a replacement. At the very least it'll offer some hilariously awkward social situations. More details here. And you can watch Haggard's confrontation with Richard Dawkins over the absurdity of creationism below:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Irish Ghost Jam

A ghost sighting has clogged up both the traffic lanes and the imaginations of the people of Coalisland in Northern Ireland. After several nights of sightings, people from all around descended on the area to catch a glimpse of the phantom. At one point, the traffic jam reached sixty cars deep. At least one local official believes the "ghost" is nothing more than a reflection of the moon in a local river, though many are claiming that it took the shape of a person. Warren Coates of the Northern Ireland Paranormal Research Association believes the ghost may be that of a phantom hitchhiker famously spotted around the area. I can't say either way, but I do know that this is less a job for paranormal researchers than it is for the transportation authorities. Someone should really go and jackhammer that ghost out of existence, if only so people can make it home from work in peace. More details here.

Remember the Alamo!

Antonio Vazquez proclaimed himself the "Grand Warlock" of Mexico, and with a beard like that, who could argue? Using his warlock powers and a deck of tarot cards, Vazquez has predicted that in the coming year, the U.S. will pull its troops out of Iraq and relocate them to the Mexican border to prepare for a conquest of our neighbors to the south. Unless this is Barack Obama's plan to cut down on illegal immigration, I don't think it's going to happen. Partly because it's absurd, but mostly because Vazquez has a record of being terribly wrong about things. Last year, he predicted that oil prices would remain stable and that both Fidel Castro and Britney Spears would die. In an erotic suicide pact? He didn't say. Regardless, both Castro and Spears are alive and well.


Yes, they are. More details here.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lasers Dragons & Lies

If you're not reading our favorite girly geektainment site PinkRaygun.com, you should be.  It's where you can read my weekly column Ask an Amateur Scientist, and it's also slickly designed by the one and only John Dallaire.  Now, the incomparable Mr. Dallaire has teamed up with sci-fi novelist John Zakour to create Lasers Dragons & Lies, a webcomic in competition at Zuda.com.  Please, go here, read it, sign up for a free account, and add your vote.  The winners have a chance to be published by DC Comics, which, I'm assuming, will make them the first DC Comics in over a decade to be written by someone other than Grant Morrison and to not be a part of a 138-volume crossover event.

Roland Burris: Devine

Just to bring you up to speed, Barack Obama is leaving the U.S. senate to spend more time with his family in a big white house somewhere, so Illinois governor Rod Blegojevich was tasked with appointing a replacement.  Because Blegojevich is a moron and a douchebag, he decided to sell off the senate seat to the highest bidder and to do so while he knew the FBI was tapping his phone.  Now, Blegojevich has appointed a man named Roland Burris, though congress is refusing to seat him due to the fact that Blegojevich is barely governor and no one knows how much of Burris' money he's currently using on his hair care products.  Not one to lie back and just take this abuse, Burris has dragged God into the situation, claiming that his appointment is "what the Lord has ordained".  You might be wondering how Burris has any direct line communication with the supreme deity, but what you don't understand is that by "Lord", he actually means "Gov. Rod Blegojevich".  As part of the terms of his bribe, you see, he must refer to the governor either as Lord, His Highness, or Padishah Emperor until the end of his days.  More details here.

True Love Lasts Forever (Occasionally)

Researchers at New York's Stony Brook University have compared the brain scans of couples who have been together over twenty years to those in a new relationship, and have found that some people can maintain the same spark for their significant others for a good long while.  The experiments involved showing people pictures of their loved ones and looking at the chemical response in the brain.  In 10% of those in relationships lasting over twenty years, researchers observed the same reactions as younger people shown pictures of their new loves.  Yes, 10%.  That may sound like a depressing statistic, but who's to say the torrid emotions of early romance should be the baseline for love?  Maybe we're no longer groping our partners' privatge parts at every opportunity ten years on, but at least we're getting things done.  At least, that's what my wife tells me whenever I ask for sex.  Bada-zing!  More details here.

Africans, Bitterness

I guess it's no surprise to learn that Africans are a bitter people.  What with all the conquest and subjugation and worldwide apathy and...  What's that?  Oh, I misunderstood.  Turns out Africans are more sensitive to bitter tastes.  Sarah Tishkoff, a geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, presented a study showing that Africans have a more developed palate for bitter tastes than Europeans.  This was discovered by measuring the variety of a taste-controlling gene called TAS2R38 in African populations.  Also, both African and European test subjects were forced to drink solutions with progressively higher concentrations of bitter flavoring.  The African subjects were quicker to make a "yucky" face and spit the liquid out.  Yes, I put the word "yucky" in quotes because that's what a real-live scientist said.  More details here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Michael Flatley: Lord of the Quacks

Remember Michael Flatley?  No, I didn't either.  But do you remember the obnoxious Irish jigging craze known as Riverdance?  I'll take your involuntary gag reflex as a yes.  Flatley, the self-proclaimed "lord" of said dance craze, has been out of the spotlight for a while, mostly because like they did with the Macarena, Paris Hilton, and foam fubber shoes, the world wizened up.  But apparently he still tours, most likely for people who have been in comas and/or frozen in giant blocks of ice since the mid '90s.  But recently he's been out of commission due to a body-wide "mystery" virus that exhausted him and gave him muscle pains.  Supposedly, doctors were unable to identify the virus.  And according to Flatley, the only cure came from Michael O'Doherty, who runs the Plexus Bio-Energy Clinic.  For those of you playing the pseudoscience drinking game, any time the word "energy" is mentioned, you must remember to take a shot of Jack.  The clinic's website describes its procedure as "rebalancing the life-force energy within and without the body".  In other words, Flatley was "cured" by bullshit.  Which really shouldn't come as any surprise, considering bullshit has been his primary source of income for at least the last fifteen years.  More details here.

Mosquito Murder

Where I live, there's a yearly summer scare about mosquitoes spreading West Nile virus, a form of encephalitis.  This is understandable since, for one thing, mosquitoes around here do test positive for West Nile, and for another, they tend to grow to roughly six feet tall and carry bladed weapons.  Consequently, hot summer nights are often choked with insecticide sprayed from roving trucks that look suspiciously like the same vans where our kids buy ice cream during the day.  Anyway, Australian scientists have figured out a better way to stop mosquitoes from spreading disease.  They've successfully bred the species of mosquito that carry dengue fever and malaria to be born with a certain bacteria that significantly shortens their lifespan.  Since these diseases take a while to incubate before they can be spread by the mosquitoes, it's the older bugs that are the most dangerous.  And with this genetic mosquito plague, there will be no older bugs.  Genius.  Still, there's no mention of whether this will work in the mosquitoes that carry West Nile, so I guess I'm still going to have to barbecue in a full set of armor this year.  More details here.

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