Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lazy linking

Via Forms Most Beautiful I came to this Edge photo essay on lions.

PLoS Genetics has a paper on a newly developed gene, the hydra gene in a subgroup of Drosophila.

Author Summary

Similar groups of animals have similar numbers of genes, but not all of these genes are the same. While some genes are highly conserved and can be easily and uniquely identified in species ranging from yeast to plants to humans, other genes are sometimes found in only a small number or even in a single species. Such newly evolved genes may help produce traits that make species unique. We describe here a newly evolved gene called hydra that occurs only in a small subgroup of Drosophila species. hydra is expressed in the testes, suggesting that it may have a function in male fertility. hydra has evolved significantly in its structure and protein-coding sequence among species. The authors named the gene hydra after the nine-headed monster slain by Hercules because in one species, Drosophila melanogaster, hydra has nine potential alternative first exons. Perhaps because of this or other structural changes, the level of RNA made by hydra differs significantly between one pair of species. This analysis reveals that newly created genes may evolve rapidly in sequence, structure, and expression level.

I would be lying if I claimed that I understand everything in the article, but it's quite interesting nevertheless.

Ampersand of the excellent Alas, A Blog, has announced that he is retiring from blogging. The blog will still be there (with great content from Ampersand's co-bloggers), and he will be posting his comics, but he won't blog, and he won't participate in the comment section.
Alas,, A Blog was one of the earliest blogs I read, so I am going to miss his posts, but I can understand why he has decided to focus on other stuff.

Via Readerville - The Mystery of Mirages.

At Wikipedia, the article on anti-vaccination conspiracy theorist David Ayoub was deleted, since it was considered a cover for pushing anti-vaccination views, and because David Ayoub isn't considered to live up to the criteria for notability. I take some credit for this development, since it was my clean-up tag that drew attention to the article.

Piny, over at Feministe, writes about a Washington Post article about an Albanian phenomenom "sworn virgins".

Dones, who lives in Rockville, had just met an adherent of an ancient northern Albanian tradition in which women take an oath of lifelong virginity in exchange for the right to live as men. The process is not surgical — in these mountains there is little knowledge that sex-change surgery is even possible. Rather, sworn virgins cut their hair and wear baggy men’s clothes and take up manly livelihoods as shepherds or truck drivers or even political leaders. And those around them — despite knowing the sworn virgins are women — treat them as men

They cannot marry men, and the oath they take is irreversible; at least one of the virgins mentioned in the article said she regretted living without a male partner. The article didn’t bother to mention their options vis-a-vis other women, or bring up the subject of affairs with other women, either accepted or covert. It also didn’t mention an orientation towards women as a reason for rejecting marriage and becoming a sworn virgin. I assume that sworn-virgin status is not a means of attaining social acceptance as a dyke.

Science Tattoos (via Lauren, but only because I read her blog before The Loom today).

Via a comment to this blogpost over at Reappropriate, I came across this useful tool.
A Readability Test for websites.
My blog is a bit on the complex side (Gunning Fog Index 12.15, Flesch Reading Ease 56.54, Flesch-Kincaid Grade 8.71), but that's probably somewhat due to me quoting from studies.



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