Donnerstag, 17. Juli 2008


What's with all that nonsense on sharing the blood and body of Christ in the form of wine and a tasteless wafer?

You no longer need to share!

Get your own cup'o'Jesus.
(Though this is more or less Je-juice!)

Isn't it great forgetting the whole point of a ceremony and just making money off the sheep-like believers?

Samstag, 12. Juli 2008

Scientific American!

Scientific American posted a wonderful article on Bisexual Animals.

Find it here: Bisexual Species: Unorthodox Sex in the Animal Kingdom

You might have heard about two male penguins or flamingos breeding in captivity and maybe even raising a young of another couple most successfully.

[The penguins] entwined necks, called to each other and mated. They then built a nest together to prepare for an egg. But no egg was forthcoming: Roy and Silo were both male.

[...]Gramzay found an egg from another pair of penguins that was having difficulty hatching it and slipped it into Roy and Silo's nest. Roy and Silo took turns warming the egg with their blubbery underbellies until, after 34 days, a female chick pecked her way into the world. Roy and Silo kept the gray, fuzzy chick warm and regurgitated food into her tiny black beak.

[...]Roy and Silo belong to one of as many as 1,500 species of wild and captive animals that have been observed engaging in homosexual activity. Researchers have seen such same-sex goings-on in both male and female, old and young, and social and solitary creatures and on branches of the evolutionary tree ranging from insects to mammals.

I'm not emphasizing "homosexual behavior" for nothing. Succinctly put:

"Animals don't do sexual identity. They just do sex.

(Eric Anderson, sociologist)

Some knwoledgable people already know this, but homosexual behavior in animals doesn't only appear in captivity where stress might be high or individuals of the opposite gender scarce (though there it is more common). Many-a-times it's social behavior, helping with social tension, protecting the young or keeping fertile when there's no matching partner - or, because sex just feels too nice (the article has some nice elaborations on these reasons).

"[In humans] the categories of gay and straight are socially constructed," Anderson says.

... and I would ass 'artificially'. (I generally dislike having to identify politically, religiously, sexually, etc... as belong to one of a few socially constructed group for which we happen to have made up a word yet - though in communication, this does have some merit.)

Ah yes, that 'unnatural' stuff again...

Back [in the first half of the 1900s], scientists generally considered homosexual acts among animals to be abnormal. In some cases, they "treated" the animals by, say, castrating them or giving them lobotomies.

... until they figured that Japanese macaques and baboons (monkeys), as wells as bonobos (apes) like homosexual acts, as well (bonobos engage do same-sex half the time they have sex at all, including hand- and blowjobs!) - and not because they're sexually deprived, but for social reasons:

[Same sex behavior] in 20 Japanese macaques and two baboons occurred largely as a way of making peace with would-be foes. [...] Hamilton observed [...]: "homosexual behavior is of relatively frequent occurrence in the female when she is threatened by another female, but it is rarely manifested in response to sexual hunger." And in males, he penned, "homosexual alliances between mature and immature males may possess a defensive value for immature males, since they insure the assistance of an adult defender in the event of an attack."

Moreover, they made an interesting observation

"The more homosexuality, the more peaceful the species," asserts Petter Böckman, an academic adviser at the University of Oslo's Museum of Natural History in Norway. "Bonobos are peaceful."

(emphasis added)

They also add that two male swans beat any het couple at making nests, some birds form polygameous trios because of a lack of males, occassionally while sharing a nest, which increases their offsprings' chances of survival, and switching of a certain fruit fly gene makes them gender-confused. That is, they show that homosexual behavior has benefits and that it's probably genetically established.

But of course there are other reasons, too:

Many animals do it simply "because they want to," Böckman says. "People view animals as robots who behave as their genes say, but animals have feelings, and they react to those feelings."

Here's one for the LOL

Stress and the greater availability of same-sex partners may similarly contribute to the practice of homosexual acts among self-described heterosexual humans in environments such as the military, jails and sports teams.

(and they offer proof of this, too)

As for humans...

[S]ome experts argue that humans, like some other animals, are naturally bisexual. "We should be calling humans bisexual because this idea of exclusive homosexuality is not accurate of people," Roughgarden says. "Homosexuality is mixed in with heterosexuality across cultures and history."

:) All clear?

Mittwoch, 9. Juli 2008


As I am writing my thesis in LaTex, I wish to give a little humor to all those suffering and squealing with me:


usepackage[babel]{nEnglish} %
usepackage{lolcat} %lolcat automatic translation
usepackage{awesome} %great


Isn't it awesome so far? Awesome, I tell you!

\Large{AWESOME!} \\

Thank you!! \\

... awesome! %YA RLY \\ [0.0004pt]


Also, this had me laughing a lot (thanks to my colleague for sending this)


Half a page of experimental description can boggle your mind for an hour. No, wait... not yours - that of three biologists, two of them just starting on their PhD.

I'm talking about Nature Genetics' "Generalized lacZ expression with the ROSA26 Cre reporter strain" by P. Soriano

In short:

We have previously described a gene-trap strain, ROSA ß-geo 26, in which expression of the ß-geo reporter appears to be constitutive during embryonic development. I report here successful targeting at the ROSA26 locus and the derivation of a reporter line for monitoring Cre expression. To target the locus, a 5-kb genomic fragment was subcloned in a plasmid vector along with a diphtheria toxin (DTA) expression cassette for negative selection to produce the vector pROSA26-1. A splice acceptor sequence (SA) identical to the one used in the original gene-trap allele, a neo expression cassette flanked by loxP sites, a lacZ gene and a polyadenylation (bpA) sequence were inserted at a unique XbaI site approximately 300-bp 5´ of the original gene-trap integration site. A triple polyadenylation sequence was added to the 3´ end of the neo expression cassette to prevent transcriptional read-through. [...] Heterozygous R26R mice were bred with R26Cre mice, a general deletor mouse line made by targeting Cre to the ROSA26 locus, and embryos were collected at various stages between embryonic day (E) 8 and E16 and stained with X-Gal for lacZ activity. Embryos heterozygous for both R26Cre and R26R alleles displayed ubiquitous blue staining, whereas wild-type or heterozygous R26R embryos did not show any staining.

What is he trying to tell us? In the still-complicated-but-less-complicated words of a biologist -to-be:

Sorriano's lab generated a mouse strain in which you can monitor in which cells you successfully "knocked out" a gene.

How do you knock out a gene? Roughly, you frame the gene by a DNA-sequence called loxP. In the cells where you want to knock out the genes, you activate the gene "Cre" that will find the loxP and cut them out along with everything that's inbetween them. Tada, gene no longer there = knocked out.

Leaves the question unanswered how you activate "Cre" in only the cells where you want to knock out the genes. For that, other genes come in handy - genes that themselves, by nature, are only active in certain cells. Each of these genes will have at least one "promotor" (a sequence that starts the gene transcription) that naturally is only activated, where the gene is expressed. If you put the DNA Sequence for "Cre" behind the promotor of a gene that is expressed in only certain cells (nerve cells, for example), you can activate Cre specifically in those (nerve) cells.

So far so good. Now what did Sorriano do?

Well, he did two things. First, he put a gene (LacZ) behind a promotor that is expressed everywhere in the mouse embryo. With some help (by giving it a substance called X-Gal), LacZ can turn cells blue. So if you put LacZ behind a promotor that is activated in every embryonic cell, you can turn the entire mouse embryo blue. However, Sorriano also put in a sequence BEFORE the LacZ gene that contains a "stop" signal. So, while the promotor is activated, the transcription is terminated before LacZ is even produced.
He then flanked the STOP sequence by loxP sites, so that we have this:

[Promotor] [LoxP] [Stop] [LoxP] [LacZ].

The gene is transcribed until it reaches the stop sequence, where the transcription is terminated - before LacZ. So normally, mice with this construct don't express LacZ to help the biologist turn cells blue. These mice embryos aren't blue.

However, in cells where Cre is activated, [LoxP] [Stop] [LoxP] will be cut out and what is left is:

[Promotor] [LacZ]

Meaning, only where CRE is active, cells can be turned blue.

So far so good. Now Sorriano had to test whether this even works. For that, he put a sequence for Cre into the mouse. Smartly, he put that Cre Sequence exactly where the Promotor-loxp-stop-loxp-LacZ sequence is. That location on the mouse genome is called ROSA26.
You see, every mouse (like every human) has two copies of each gene - that is: Two ROSA26 locations (one on each sister chromosome). So, Sorriano generated mice with one ROSA26 location that held the LacZ plus stop sequence, and one that held the Cre recombinase. Since the promotor at the ROSA26 location is expressed in every embryonic cell, Cre was activated in every mouse embryo with this genetic make-up. That means every single cell expressed CRE, which then cut out the loxp-Stop-loxp from every second ROSA26 location, therefore allowing LacZ to be expressed. This means that the entire embryo could be turned blue.

Mice with two promotor-loxp-stop-loxp-LacZ sequences were lacking any active CRE and therefore could not be turned blue: There was no CRE to remove the STOP sequence before the LacZ gene, therefore no LacZ was expressed.

Mice with two Cre-sequences at the ROSA26 locations lacked the LacZ to be activated, therefore also couldn't express LacZ.

What does this serve anyone in science? Well, there are three things.

Easiest, if you want to know in which cells a certain promotor is activated, you can have Cre controlled by this promotor to simply stain all the cells where the promotor is active. You'll be learning about its genetic function, and the genetic expression of the gene that is usually controlled by this promotor.

Second, you can put your Cre behind any promotor you want (for example, a promotor only activated in liver cells). If your Cre-construction works, all liver-cells can be colored blue. Now you now know for certain that your liver-cell-only Cre works very nicely.

Third, if you then put some other genes between "loxp" sites to knock it out, cre will busily activate LacZ, but also busily knock out the gene that you want to be knocked out (a certain horomone or protein, maybe). And as a convenience, all the cells where this worked can be colored blue. And all the cells where you DIDN'T knock out your hormone or protein cannot be colored.

This system is utterly cool, though only relevant for mouse embryos.

All clear now?

Considering Sorriano had to put all this into half a page of scientific writing, it's no longer surprising that it was hard to understand.

And as a side note - the whole knock-out thing in mice deservingly lead to the inventors receiving a Nobel Prize.

Btw. Please comment and tell me where exactly I lost your attention.


So, I took a moment to cruise this morning to retrieve some headlines. If you think the world wasn't insane, THINK AGAIN.

Atheist soldier sues Army for 'unconstitutional' discrimination Yes, you may not be atheist in the American army (in case you forgot: The country that separates church and state). Why? Because your fellow American troops will offer you some sweet death threats and you'll need 24 hour protection from your own countrymen. Screw your perfect military record - atheists have no place in the Christian army!

And maybe, just MAYBE, McDonald's is a terrorist organisation now? After all: McDonald's makes Jesus Cry! Why? Because "McDonald's has chosen not to remain neutral but to give the full weight of their corporation to promoting the homosexual agenda." Oh, HOW did McDonald's give "full weight"? By "They donated $20,000 to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce".
This just goes to show that AFA actutally stands for "Anti-Family Association" - they'd rather see a family not come into existence at all or split over their children's sexual orientation, than see them happy.)

So, you think that's bad? Watch this: Student Who Took Religious Icon Getting Death Threats Yes. Someone did not swallow the last-supper-cookie, but took it home. Taking it home outside of your stomach or intestines appears to be very, very wrong. So wrong, that you have to give it back (even if it has been in your mouth? Ew.) The church now compares this event to "kidnapping", calls it a "hate crime" and Catholics worldwide are "furious". Because taking A COOKIE is SRZ BZNS.
In reality, this infantile uproar an insult to all victims of real kidnapping and real hate crimes.

It's great when peoples lives are so worry-free, they can devote their time to making other people's lives bad.

Now, finally there's a reason to go get McDonald's - at least once.