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About twenty minutes from idea to post — I’m seriously behind today — but I couldn’t let this one go without giving it a, errrr…stab. Where would we be without the obvious ones?

May 31, 2017 — 9:55 pm
Comments: 12

Good News – Barbie is clinically depressed!


Another stupid clickbait non-story from the Metro (note: browse their sidebar links at your own risk). Not even be worth a mention.

Except…I had only two seconds earlier shut down the kitchen radio in the middle of a feature about how it’s finally okay to talk to the straights about your mental illnesses.

Where do they coordinate these things? Starbucks? Journolist? Down grubby back alleys in urban London? It’s hard to escape the feeling you’re constantly being played by dumb people with a broad agenda.


Manuel Noriega, he dead. And with that, the commenter Formerly known as Skeptic wins dick in Dead Pool 96! And we know what that means — Dead Pool Round 97 comes on little cat feet Friday, June 2, 6pm WBT!

Be here or don’t be here. I’m not the boss of you.

May 30, 2017 — 9:28 pm
Comments: 7



This from the country show on Saturday. Whenever it’s on offer, I always pay a couple quid to hold a raptor (that’s me on the left). Homeboy settled down eventually and let Uncle B snap some better pics.

Hope you had a nice long weekend, full of all the red-tailed hawks you could possibly desire.

May 29, 2017 — 8:38 pm
Comments: 20

Walt Disney shits up beach in Eastbourne


They snuck in under cover of darkness and planted these ugly statues at low tide at Eastbourne this morning. I gather it’s to promote the new Pirates film, which is out today. I’m about twelve or fifty films behind in that series, frankly.

Anyhoo! Rejoice! I have finished my work (including my guts homework), a long weekend stretches before us and tomorrow is the first of the big country fairs. It is time to par-tay.

Wait, do people still par-tay? Well, I’m going to par-tay like it’s 1837. Good weekend, y’all!

May 26, 2017 — 9:00 pm
Comments: 13

We’re Number 1! We’re Number 1!


w00t! I just finished Week 2 of my course with a 100% on the quiz (eh, it was seven multiple choice questions and I take cracking good notes). After which, they shared some extra reading…all of which looks to be in the public domain, so I share it with you.

Animated Life: Seeing the Invisible’ – a short animated biography of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. I am a huge fan of Leeuwenhoek so I expected to like this, but it was produced by the New York Times so it was an insultingly puerile puppet show with paper cutouts on sticks and strings. Yes really.

This was more fun: The Chemistry of Body Odours – Sweat, Halitosis, Flatulence & Cheesy Feet. Money quote:

As part of the research, 16 subjects were fed 200g of pinto beans, then had their ‘samples’ collected via the use of a ‘rectal tube’. It gets better. These rectal tubes were then handed over to two judges, who had previously ‘proved their ability to identify’ the different sulfur-containing gases. The study relates how these judges ‘3cm from their noses, slowly ejected the gas, taking several sniffs’. They then rated the odour on a scale from 1 (no odour), to 8 (very offensive). Pleasant work…

An interesting observation of this study was the difference between the farts of men and women. Though the small sample size means it isn’t possible to draw definite conclusions, they noted that the women in the study emitted a significantly higher concentration of hydrogen sulfide, and the judges both ascribed to them a significantly worse odour. They also noted that men tended to generate ‘a greater volume of gas per passage’. Now we know.

Bolding mine. WE’RE NUMBER 1! WE’RE NUMBER 1!

Erm. That’s as far as I’ve read tonight. The other articles are:

The Human Microbiome: A True Story about You and Trillions of Your Closest (Microscopic) Friends

Learn.Genetic’s The Human Microbiome

Integrating ‘-omics’ and natural product discovery platforms to investigate metabolic exchange in microbiomes

‘Omics’ of the mammalian gut – new insights into function

“Omics” refers to four branches of the study of microbes: genomics (the genes of microbes), transcriptomics (which ones are replicated to make useful proteins), proteomics (what proteins are they making) and metabolomics (what metabolites are left over when they’re done). Oh, and one more I found reading the discussion forums: What Does a Three Day Cleanse Do to your Gut Microbiome?

Onward to Week Three!

May 25, 2017 — 8:50 pm
Comments: 13

Cat vs Mole


This ended in a way I did not expect. The video came across my FaceBook feed this evening and FB means it’s nigh impossible to share outside of FB itself. Meaning I had to go digging around YouTube to find it for you.

Turns out, this isn’t the only cat versus mole battle that ends in exactly this way.

I am doing invoices tonight. I haven’t been paid in almost three months because I freaking hate doing invoices. This is at least in part because I set myself up with an oh-so-clever spreadsheet that does all the arithmetic automagically for me. It’s such a monumental pain in the ass to work with, I’d be ever so much better off doing my own freaking sums on the back of a brown paper bag.

Technology, eh?

May 24, 2017 — 9:03 pm
Comments: 9

More guts.


In the thread below, Feymangroupie asks “Wait, if everyone has pretty much the same baseline gut bacteria…” I’m’a stop you right there, FMG. Because everyone doesn’t have the same baseline gut bacteria, apparently, AT ALL. According to the intro video to this course, you likely only share 10% of your gut microbiome with the person sitting next to you. I have to assume “sitting next to you” includes people who live with you and share a large part of your diet.

It’s not just antibiotics that mess with your get critters, it’s everything you put in your mouth – every aspirin and ice cream and habanero pepper. But also, I assume, your own genetics, the microbes in your environment, the ambient temperature. I think. I guess. I’m only at Week 2.

The diagram above is from a very interesting video about childbirth. Turns out, there’s a good reason for those hours of labor: once the amniotic sac breaks, contractions swish babies around in mama’s vaginal biome until they get a proper dose. In European women, this includes a heaping helping of Lactobacillus which, among other things, helps baby digest milk.

Babies born by C-section don’t get this; their initial gut microbes appear to be derived (unhelpfully) from mama’s skin. They think (it’s still early days) that may account for some of the health problems C-section babies have for the first few years. They’re doing a huge study of this in Puerto Rico, where cesarean births outnumber natural births “for cultural reasons” (they didn’t go into it, but we can imagine what those are).

Uncle B sent me this timely link from the Daily Mail: a common diabetes drug apparently works not by affecting you, but by affecting your gut microbes.

He also sent me this link to OH MY GOD ADORABLE ERMINE IN A LOG!!!

And no. Nobody had Roger Moore in the DeadPool. He was 89?? Really???

May 23, 2017 — 8:44 pm
Comments: 18

Oh. That explains it.


Have you ever wondered why gut bacteria is such a hot topic at the moment? I know I have!

Wellll…in olden times, you studied bacteria by making a culture. You’d sterilize a needle, drag it across a toilet seat, wobble it across a petri dish full of nutrient agar or some shit, and a week later you’d have — several streaks of fuzz!

Then you could take a sample of that fuzz, put it under a pretty high-powered microscope, and you’d see — something that looked like a corkscrew, something that looked like a hotdog or something that looked like a basketball. Because that’s it; that’s all the different shapes that microbes come in.

And that’s about all you could do. You could try feeding some to a mouse, but that’s not very sporting.

A majority of important microbes — particularly gut microbes — won’t grow in a culture at all. We’ve been studying the ones that will. Turns out, e.coli isn’t a very numerous or important gut bacterium at all, it just LOVES to grow in a petri dish. Huh.

Easy DNA analysis is what changed all that. They can grind up poop samples and get a pretty good idea of what your intestinal rainforest consists of. Even better, they can look at the genes and tell what some of them do.

They can even culture more of the buggers, now that they can isolate strands and work out what they live on. Turns out, gut bacteria are madly picky eaters — which is why certain meals affect your guts fast and hard.

Week Two of my microbiome studies continues apace.

May 22, 2017 — 9:47 pm
Comments: 15

And then everybody lost their damn minds


“Quite literally gobsmacked and raging to see this in Asda Huntly”

“This is so damaging and we cannot possibly still be spouting this nonsense to our children”

“In my opinion, this particular phrase perpetuates rape culture.”

Ah, don’t worry ladies. It’s not for sale any more. They sold out of them.

I’m generally pretty optimistic about human history. I believe the long arc of the species bends toward common sense, with a few unfortunate detours. But, just lately, I’ve been nagged by a disturbing thought: we are old. The people who believe this shit are young. When we are gone, they will still be alive.

Is this just cheap clickbait, or the shape of things to come? Please, if you have grandchildren, do everything in your power to corrupt them to the Old Ways. Our precious t-shirt slogans depend on it.

Good weekend, all!

May 19, 2017 — 9:15 pm
Comments: 8

Got a haircut today. And it’s raining.


Pic unrelated. That’s from somebody’s Pinterest page of Poland hens.

Go on, click. Nothing’s as cheer-you-up as a whole page of chickens with afros.

We needed the rain. We haven’t had a proper soaking literally for months. That may seem improbable, given England’s reputation for raining all the damn time, but we do get periods of draught.

When that happens, the irrigation ditches run low and the foxes and badgers(!) use them as super highways. Our neighbor across the way shot a fox with his (the neighbor’s) big Buff Orpington cockerel in his (the fox’s) mouth. Given that shotguns are all they’re allowed here, I didn’t like to ask after the rooster.

One of these days, I’m going to open a Twitter trolling account in the name Buff Orpington.

Oh, and I found the identity of Jack’s nemesis, the big ginger-and-white cat who’s been beating him up and stealing his lunch money. He’s a feral unfixed male who was deliberately introduced to the farm two farms over as a rat catcher. I wonder if they’d notice if his balls turned up missing…?

May 18, 2017 — 7:42 pm
Comments: 24