How to Boil a Frog


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Glass Frog

Occasionally you meet someone on a lily pad who pretends to be Mr. Cool or Miss Thing, but you can see right through them. Well Japanese researchers have taken care of any need for social insight by developing an amphibian with actual transparent skin:

Do these eggs make me look fat?

You might think this is just part of the popular wave of see-through deodorants, dishwashing liquids, and justifications for invasions of foreign countries, but it's all in the interest of advancing science. Specifically, the transparent skin lets them watch organs grown, see how toxins affect tissues, and watch "how cancer starts and develops", without the need to dissect the patient. And except for the part about injecting us with toxins so we get cancer, we appreciate it. But the experiments don't stop at the lab door.

If we got depressed they'd call us bi-polar bears!

Researchers have known for a while that seals, whales and especially polar bears were getting massive doses of DDT, PCBs, flame-retardants and other endocrine disruptors that get carried to the Arctic by winds and rivers, but, hey, Shanghai is no day at the beach either. What they didn't figure on was that the people who eat these animals were in for a little surprise.

Global warming has really helped the weather here in Nuuk!

Turns out the chemicals concentrated in those seal souffles and polar bear pot pies can actually change the sex of human fetuses before birth. This explains why the ratio of girls to boys being born in the Arctic Circle is 2 to 1 -- in many villages in the North of Greenland, only girls are being born. And the effect isn't just being felt around Santa's Workshop (where a lot of elves will be getting lucky about 18 years from now); in Japan and the US, 250,000 more girls have been born than the 1970 girl/boy ratio would have predicted. You can see where this is leading:

In the future, all movies will be directed by Peter Bogdonavich.

Of course, if you really want to rev up the engine of evolution, candy is dandy but radiation makes mutuation. This was undoubtedly the thinking behind the collapse of a cooling tower at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant a few weeks ago. After all, it's well known that nuclear energy is completely safe ("D'oh!"), so it follows that Entergy, the company that runs the plant, must have gotten a research grant to see what would happen if they spilled a few hunded million gallons of overheated water into the surrounding area.

New honeymoon spot to rival Niagara Falls will make your bride glow (in the dark).

Resourceful New Englanders are already using the water to boil Maine lobsters, after being told that even a tiny bit of plutonium will keep the leftovers warm for 24,000 years! Just kidding -- scientists know better than anyone that proper safeguards ensure that what happens in the lab, stays in the lab. That's especially true of our friends developing the glass frog -- just look where they work!

Friday, September 7, 2007


I generally avoid all-you-can-eat buffets (don't want to end up a "toad belly"), but look at what they've got goin' on down in Texas!

My kind of cotton candy

Lake Tawokoni State Park is apparently host to several million from the Tetragnatha guatemalensis O. P.-Cambridge clan, also known as the Guatemalan Long-jawed Spider, as well as ten other species, who may possibly be acting as waiters at a massive GLJS family reunion. Other theories include the spiders being hired by Santa to gift-wrap Texas, so W can give it to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia...

No, please, no more southern states. But can I have Canada?

...or possibly the spiders have gotten tired of mosquitoes and moved on to bigger game.

Excellent with thai peanut sauce.

But I have my own theory on what made a Central American spider, who generally holidays in Cuba and Jamaica, cross the Rio Grande to find a better life in America. No, it's not the promise of amnesty -- spiders are too small to carry green cards anyway, and spider names are notoriously hard to spell -- it's our old friend global warming.

Further info on your melting planet at solcomhouse!

As you read this, the weather we used to call tropical is moving toward Santa's workshop at 3 and a half miles per year. Birds and animals are migrating -- even the trees are on the march -- so why not spiders? After all, we're seeing all sorts of once-in-a-lifetime events nowadays: the ice storm in Omaha...

Popular Nebraska cowsicle

...two Category 5 hurricanes in one season...

Dean and Felix rampaged through South America, but Felix cleaned up afterwards.

...and of course the Spice Girls reunion. (Well, we can only HOPE it's once in a lifetime.) In fact, Lloyd's of London, who famously insured Betty Grable's legs and Britney Spears' pudenda, are predicting a $100 billion "mega-catastrophe" along the Atlantic seaboard in the near future, due to global warming (Richard Ward, CEO of Lloyd's, vehemently denies this is due to "that time I got wasted with Paris and watched 'The Day After Tomorrow' six times in the bathtub").

Which leads me to wonder: Why aren't we all pooping our pants? (Those species among us who wear pants.) Given all the scary news, you'd think we'd all be cowering on our lily pads instead of lining up for a second iPhone (now $200 off!) then rushing home to watch CSI re-runs. If we aren't feeling all that fear and anxiety, who is??? Could it be...our kids?

Baby goats are excellent with a light bernaise sauce, but that isn't what I meant.

The CDC just reported that suicide rates among 10- to 24-year-olds were up 8% in 2004 (they're a little slow at updating their figures over there, but what the heck, it isn't like the dead kids are going anywhere). The number of American children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder increased 400% from 1994 to 2003. Antidepressant use on schoolchildren in the UK is up 300% in the last decade. Yet not once -- not once -- in any of the articles about this does anyone say: "Why is our children so sad?" (Well, that's how W would ask, bless his simple soul over there at the OPEC conference. APEC. Whatever.)

So here's one last theory on the spiders: at a time when it feels like things are falling apart, maybe they're spinning that giant web to try to hold us all together...