Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pop-Up Extortion

Several years ago I had a teenage relative come stay with us for a week or so. Forgetting how very horny the average teenage boy is (am I really that old??), I neglected to turn on the parental controls for internet access that came with my internet program. Oops.

Part-way through his visit, I discovered some very interesting pictures on the computer. When I approached him about this, he at first denied he had downloaded them from porn sites, but eventually confessed. He promised not to continue doing that, as long as I didn't report it to his mom, but before I could figure out the parental controls, he did it again. He was barred from further unauthorized computer use, and yes, his mom heard about it.

Once he left, I figured that was the end of it. Oh, no. That was just the beginning. Next came the phone bill. It turns out he had visited porn sites that charged for every download. More than $200, in total! You'd better believe we made his mom pay the bill.

But even that wasn't the end. The real nightmare came when we realized viruses and Trojan horses had been downloaded to our computer with the images. We discovered the problem when we found our computer dialing onto the internet on its own, without us even opening the dial-up window! Turns out it had done so many, many times, because the next phone bill came with even more charges. Lucky for us, my lovely wife was able to talk the phone company into dropping the charges and blocking those phone numbers from our phone system. We invested in some heavy-duty firewall and antivirus programs, and the nightmare finally came to an end.

It left me wondering how many others have these problems and are too embarrassed to raise a fuss about it, unwilling to admit that they've been shaking hands with Mr. Johnson to the pervy sort of stuff on those sites.

Well, with pornography still the number one business on the internet, and given the sleazy nature of that business, it shouldn't surprise anyone that a new form of online extortion is being used by those sites.

As reported today on (HERE), one porn site (which will remain unnamed) is now offering a free, three-day membership to anyone that wants it. After pressing an approval button and not reading the fine print, the customer does indeed get three free days to "tit"-ilate their senses by viewing women's bits and pieces, but when the three days is up, streams of pop-up windows invade their computer, regardless of whether they are online or offline. The pop-ups won't stay minimized, and remain on top of any other windows. The website then tells the customer – get this! – that they can remove those annoying pop-ups if they pay $80 for a 90-day membership. If they pay, they then can remove the pop-ups with a special file. If they don't pay . . . well, I guess they'd better start liking pop-up windows. I hope their sticky little three-day thrill was worth it.

Oh, how cleverly legal and evil of that porn site! I imagine other sites are already catching on. The victims agreed to this deal when the approved. One can argue that they got what they deserved. But I guess I still feel a tiny bit of pity for them and their lusty libidos. After all, men are horny little devils who can barely control themselves (I should know, being a man). Men are such pigs!

But even if they manage to control their slippery little urges, who knows? Maybe they had a teenage relative come visit and they forgot to engage those parental controls on the computer.

It's been known to happen.

Image taken from HERE.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Goodbye, Nimbus

Back in 1996, my wife and I had been married only a year when we moved to the state we currently live in. We immediately went to the animal shelter and adopted a kitty cat, a loving, young, dark gray cat that looked like a little rain cloud. We named him Nimbus.

Two nights ago, after 11 years, our little rain cloud passed away, dying quietly at home.

Within a year of first bringing him home, Nimbus developed a case of irritable bowel syndrome. The vet prescribed him steroid pills, without which he would not be able to keep food down. I gave him a pill every night for 10 years. The steroids kept him alive, but they slowly poisoned him, too, until, a month or so ago, he had kidney failure and stopped making new blood cells. Dialysis wasn’t a reasonable option, so we knew the end was coming. I’m just happy he went without pain, at home, and didn’t have to be taken to the vet to be euthanized. He spared us that.

When we brought him home as a kitten, he was so thankful that he went back and forth between our laps, purring and being loved. He could jump incredibly high while chasing ribbons and strings, doing flips and jumping from a sitting position so high his paws would touch the top of a door. Then one day he landed wrong, hurting his leg. He hardly jumped again after that.

Nimbus was a big cat, comparatively, but very much a lap kitty, and would bug me for attention any time I was sitting, particularly if I wanted to read. And he was very soft. He would sleep by my head every night, whether I wanted him to or not. I’ll miss that.

Though we got three other housecats after Nimbus, Nimbus was like our first baby, through six years of infertility treatments, then the adoption of our two children.

He’s being cremated, and I imagine we’ll bury his ashes in the flower bed, near the bird feeder.

Goodbye, my Nimbus. We love you.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Name That Critter

When intrepid scientists discover a new species, how the heck do they name it? Everything's gotta have a name. After all, science can't describe a species and the implications of its existence by always referring to it as "that onion fly that Dr. Pocketprotector found in Walla Walla" or "that little brown bug".

Most species you'll hear about have a common name (such as the Great White Shark), but because common names differ by region or language, or multiple critters can be called by the same name, all known and identified species have a scientific name which belongs to no other species (such as Carcharodon carcharias). As with nearly everything in science, scientific names have a particular structure to them. Using what is called binomial nomenclature and latinized spelling and (usually) Greek origin, the name has two parts: the first is called the "genus" (which is capitalized), and the second is called the "specific name" or "specific epithet", and is uncapitalized. Both are italicized. The science of identifying and naming life is called Taxonomy.

The genus is usually reserved for known groupings of creatures, but sometimes something is found that is novel enough for a new genus, too. With the specific name, though, anything goes. Scientists usually name the little bugger after some descriptor. For the Great White Shark, the scientific name is derived from the Greek words for "sharp (or jagged) tooth", but names have been made based on words from local languages, people names, or even puns.

For instance, there are at least three species named after Gary Larson, cartoonist for the Far Side, including a beetle, a butterfly, and (my favorite) an owl louse (Strigiphilus garylarsoni). Another is named after an alcohol (the blue agave plant, named Agave tequilana, is what tequila is made from). The chigger, Trombicula fujigmo, is named after the WWII slang for "fuck you, Jack, I got my orders". If you've ever been "bugged" by this irritating pest, you'll know the name fits. HERE is a neat page of other funny or original scientific names. The taxonomist who makes the discovery of the species gets the right to choose the name, but in modern times does not name it after himself. It is accepted practice to name them after someone else. I have personally known taxonomists who named new species of diatoms after each other, for instance. "Hey, Roger, if you name Species X after me, I'll name Species Y after you."

A new trend, though, is auctioning off the right to name a new species. In this day of ever-reduced funding for academics, universities are getting creative for fundraising. Just the other day, a new species of butterfly was named for the winning bid of $40,000:

HERE and HERE are the announcements from when the contest started.

The Florida Museum of History discovered a rather large and ornate butterfly (see picture) mislabeled in a collection of other Mexican butterflies. After determining that it was previously unidentified, they announced the contest. On November 22, the winner was announced. The winner, from which the butterfly was named, was the late Margery Minerva Blythe Kitzmiller of Malvern, Ohio, on behalf of her grandchildren. The common name will be the Minerva owl butterfly. The scientific name will be Opsiphanes blythekitzmillerae. Doesn't exactly roll of the tongue, in my opinion, but naming a butterfly after her is a fitting tribute to someone who "wrote poetry, played piano, and sang." Since most butterflies of this size and appearance have likely already been named, and this is the first new species in this particular butterfly family to be named in a century, this is an honor not likely to be repeated anytime soon. Proceeds from the auction will go to research on Mexican butterflies.

But this isn't the first time a little beasty's official name has gone on the auction block. A Bolivian monkey was named for $650,000 in 2005 (by the World Conservation Society), after The Golden, an online casino company that won the rights. HERE is a link to the Golden Palace monkey's homepage. I urge you to visit. It's a real "hoot"! And 10 previously unknown fish were named for a total of $2 million just this September, including a shark for $500,000 (article HERE).

What is science coming to? The stuck-up, overeducated scientist in me is appalled, but the snarky lab rat in me is smirking. Before long, academic institutions all over the nation may be opening up Departments of Taxonomy as more of a source of income than for the sake of scientific curiosity.

I wonder if there are any unknown rodents out there that are yet to be identified. Do you think they would name one after me? The common name could be, of course, the Angry Lab Rat, and the scientific name could be Rattus iratuslabus. Kinda rolls off the tongue, if I may say so.

Image taken from HERE.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Day Drowsiness, But Don't Blame The Gobbler

Oh, yes! Pass me a wing and pile on the taters, baby! It's Turkey Day!

I have a soft spot for Thanksgiving. After all, believe it or not, I had relatives on the Mayflower, on my paternal grandmother's side of the family. Yes, those fairly clueless Plymouth pilgrims who were my family managed to make it in the new world thanks to Native American friends like Squanto and the Wampanoag Tribe, and were so thankful after their first harvest in 1621 that they fed and entertained the natives for three days, after which the Wampanoags went hunting and returned with 5 deer as a return gift (STORY). I doubt the native peoples would have been so giving had they realized the cultural devastation that would eventually be wrought upon them. I wonder what the Wampanoag word for "sucker" was?

But, hey, who am I kidding? I mainly enjoy having time off (I get today and Friday off, plus the weekend, plus a vacation day on Monday – 5 days!). Time to eat heavy, kick up my feet in front of the tube, let the children run free and crazy, and maybe find time in the ensuing days to do some projects around the house and yard. And you'd better believe there will be naps in there somewhere.

You've probably heard the reason why you're so sleepy after eating all that turkey, right? The story goes that turkey meat contains an abnormally large amount of the amino acid tryptophan, which induces sleepiness by producing the "sleepy" brain chemical serotonin. So, if you eat lots of turkey, you'll be drowsy. For some reason this myth comes out only around Thanksgiving time.

Although it's true that our little gobbling friends do possess a lot of tryptophan, the tryptophan is not easily transported from your bulging, overfed gut to your brain, and even if it makes it to your noggin, you would need to "ingest quite a number of turkeys" to get enough tryptophan to cause drowsiness, according to Dr. Carol Ash of Somerset Medical Center's Sleep for Life Center in Hillsborough, N.J.:

More likely, the article says, your post-gluttony sleepiness is the result of overeating, alcohol consumption, and not getting enough sleep in the days before, not to mention sitting on your ass watching people called Jets and Cowboys running up and down a field with an oblong leather ball.

My lovely wife, though, suggested an additional cause for Thanksgiving sleepiness. "Don't forget the poor women who do the cooking have to get up before dawn to start the turkey, prepare all that other food, and finish cleaning the house for all those guests."

But if you still wish to believe those hapless birds are the cause of your snoozing, be my guest. Call it the dinosaurs' revenge (after all, modern birds like the turkey are direct descendants of two-legged dinos like T. rex and velociraptors, as evidenced by the shared "wishbone", or furcula -- STORY).

I'll take a dino wing, please, with my 2000- to 3000-calorie meal. And you'd better warm up the pie. I want it to melt the whipped cream when I eat it.

And if anyone asks, I'm still blaming the gobbler for the naps.

Image taken from HERE.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Science Cartoons!

I couldn’t pass this up. Below is a link to a webpage with galleries of science-themed cartoons created by the famed Sidney Harris. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ever Get That Lost Feeling?

You know that feeling you get when you know you're lost? I'm not talking about the I-wonder-if-that-was-the-turn sort of lost. I'm talking about the sort of lost where you intended to visit a friend in the suburbs but instead find yourself in the bad part of downtown, and the locals are following you. The sort of lost where fear starts creeping in and you wonder if you'll make it out alive.

I had that happen once. I was backpacking in the Rockies of Idaho, doing work for the Forest Service in a wilderness area there, and found myself suffering Acute Mountain Sickness, though we didn't know what it was at the time. Apparently I'm especially sensitive, as the altitude was only about 8000 feet or so. It started with a buildup of fluid in my lungs, then headache, then fatigue, after having been at that altitude for a day or so, and (luckily) we were headed back down the mountains. My crew and I were on a rather long and hurried hike out of the forest to meet a deadline, so most of them had gone on ahead, leaving my miserably stressed and uncompromising crew leader with me, pushing me to go faster. But my condition deteriorated. I was becoming dizzy and disoriented, and hiking very slowly, sometimes needing help. Frustrated by my slowness, and despite the fact that we had seen black bear cubs disturbingly close to our position (and their mom was surely around), she decided to leave me behind to hike at my own speed. Bothered by her, I decided I'd rather agree than continue dealing with her. Big mistake.

Soon I found that I had left the trail, and backtracking, could not find it again. I had shortness of breath, a feeling of lethargy, and difficulty keeping my footing on loose rock with about 50 pounds of gear on my back. Evening was coming, and all around me were big, snow-covered mountains and valleys of thick forest. At one point I threw myself against a boulder and wondered through blurring eyes whether I'd be able to go on. I did, of course, and eventually found the trail again. Alarmed by my absence, one of my crew members came back to look for me and helped me the last several miles. Once we were at a lower altitude, my symptoms quickly dissipated.

Yesterday it was reported that an 18-foot, 12-ton Minke whale had been found beached 1000 miles up the Amazon River in Brazil:

As I write this, intrepid volunteers are trying to keep the whale alive and moist by tossing water on its back and trying to roll it back into the water.

Minke whales live in the ocean, of course, so what the hell is it doing way up in the middle of a jungle? Talk about lost! I wonder what was going through its mind as it swam upstream, its fellow whales long since left behind. Did the fresh water go to its head, the way altitude did to me? Did it beach itself in despair, analogous to how I had thrown myself against that boulder? Or was it just clueless, thinking something like, "Hmm. Did Bob tell me to turn right or left at the coral outcropping? Funny, I don't remember him mentioning anything about piranha. And I'm starving. Bob had better have some krill left for me."

Who knows? But if the big baleen sea mammal makes it back to the ocean alive, won't he feel stupid! I can only imagine the exchange between him and his whale pals:

Bob: "Hey, Minke, where the hell were you? You were supposed to bring the plankton!"

Minke: "Oh, you know, I was passing by Rio de Janiero and decided to stop in and take a closer look at all those thong-wearing human women."

Bob (leaning his blowhole closer for a sniff): "Is that river water I smell on you?"

Update (11/20/07): I'm happy to report our lost little whale in the Amazon is alive and doing well, thanks to the hard work of volunteers (updated news article HERE). Folks have pulled him off the shore and into a penned area in the shallows. Soon, Mr. Minke won't even have to swim back to the ocean – he'll have a ride on a boat, because there are "too many tributaries that could confuse him." Lucky for Mr. Minke, the world's largest river has people with the largest heart, or at least they've got a love for large-ish sea mammals. It's okay, Mr. Minke. Don't blubber. We know you appreciate them….

First image taken from HERE.

Second image taken from HERE and courtesy of AP.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Move Over, Sol, There's A New Kid In The Solar System

The sun is no longer the largest celestial body in our solar system.

That's right, something's bigger than the sun. Is it Saturn? Not even close. Jupiter? Keep dreamin'. The skyrocketing deficit of the United States? Almost.

No, it's a comet.

But not just any comet. This one is an exploding comet, named 17P/Holmes. The comet's nucleus is a mere 2.2 miles in diameter, but explosive outbursting has created a dust cloud coma an amazing 900,000 miles in diameter. It's elementary, Watson. The sun's diameter is only 870,000. As of November 9, as detected by astronomers from the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, comet Holmes became the largest celestial object in our general vicinity, and the comet dust cloud is expanding. (see the bright blue-colored dust cloud compared to the sun in the picture. In the lower right inset is the planet Saturn, for comparison). In October, Holmes had an explosive outburst that created an unprecedented half-million-fold increase in brightness.

Oh, sure, 17P/Holmes will only be around for another five, six years, tops, then the dust cloud will dissipate as the comet moves away from the sun and the sun will return to being the king of the solar system. Numero uno. The burning king of fusion. And what is this comet upstart, anyhow? A big cloud of dust? A flashy upstart? Old Sol laughs in its general direction. Why, if it weren't for the sun's heat, the comet's cloud wouldn't even be there, and 17P/Holmes would be just another tiny snowball hurtling through space.

Enjoy your size while it lasts, Holmes! One day you'll be tiny again, and you will be banished to the depths of space for another 100 years!

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Privy Prop

Go ahead, call me sexist, but one tiny thing that bothers me is the belief that men are indecent for not lowering the frickin' toilet seat when they're done pissing so that the women of the household won't "fall in" or have to lower it for themselves.

Gasp! How could I not be a gentleman?? I'm flushed with embarrassment.

Hey, shake it off, gals. This is supposed to be an enlightened time when the feminist movement has declared men and women to be equal. Oh, sure, women still have to fight the good fight, what with discrepancies in pay and promotions and such, but can't you at least give up the stupid toilet thing? This practice is circling the drain, like opening doors for women or pulling out a chair for them at restaurants.

You know what? How about we reverse the expectations on this one and have men start insisting that women raise the seat after they've gone "wee"?

I don't know about you, but I cringe every time I have to grab the seat and raise it. What kind of poo kooties are lurking there on the porcelain where my thumb and fingers touch it? Ew! Oh, sure, I wash my hands every time when I've finished. Still – yuck! Let's let women do some of that nasty touching for a change.

So I've had my heart set on one day getting one of those fancy toilets you hear about now and then with automated seat-raising and lowering buttons (along with stupid stuff like built-in radios and such). But those are out of my price range. I've heard about little handles you can glue onto the seat, but in my paranoid little mind I still imagine poo-contaminated flush-air wafting over it with each flush, and those aren't exactly available at the local department store.

Now, through the imaginative mind of a 9-year old boy named Jake Wulf, we have a solution: the "Privy Prop."


Tired of being hounded by his mother to lower the toilet seat, this innovative little boy saw one of those step-lever trash cans and decided to design a similar device for toilet seats. With a little help from his dad (an equipment designer) and using a school "Invention Convention", he successfully built a working prototype. Just step on a lever and the seat raises. Step off, and it lowers. His prototype won the contest and went on to a regional competition, then was featured at the Iowa State Fair. After word got out about it, the Ellen Degeneres Show called and had him on air today.

Not bad, little Jake! One small squirt for Man-kind. Unfortunately, the family apparently has no intention to patent or mass-produce the device. We'll see.

Personally, I'd love to have one. No more poo-kooties on my delicate digits.

Oh, by the way, our family's "default" toilet position is with both the seat and the lid lowered. Sigh.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Now China Is Giving Date-Rape Drugs To Children

I'm shaking my head right now. How many Chinese products need to be recalled because of lead poisoning, dangerous swallowable magnets, or faulty construction before our industry leaders and government officials realize they are slowly turning our children into mindless lead-poisoned vegetables one drooling lick of an Elmo doll at a time? The recalls just keep on comin'.

Yes, you have likely heard the most recent deadly Chinese toys to come to our Dollar Store and Wal-Mart shelves.

First, there are the Aqua Dots (CNN article). These lovely, candy-colored beads are an arts and crafts dream and oh-so-edible-looking. Your trusting, naïve small child can arrange them in whatever colored patterns they like on a nifty grid then spray them with water, and the glue coatings on them instantly glue them together into a semi-permanent craft project to be treasured by proud parents everywhere. Why, it's so novel, it was named Toy Of The Year in Australia. The only problem is that the supposedly inert glue is actually a chemical which, when ingested, gets metabolized into the date-rape drug gamma-hydroxy butyrate, commonly called GHB. That's right, a few of these beads, when ingested, become the equivalent of a rapist's dream. But overdosing, which happened to a number of children here and in Australia, leads to vomiting and coma. Luckily, no children have yet died. Apparently the manufacturer had not intended this chemical be used; it was the bright idea of the Hong Kong manufacturer to use it and save themselves some cash. And where, exactly, could one purchase these beads, prior to the recall of all 4.2 million units of them? One outlet is, you guessed it, Wal-Mart, lover of all things Chinese, cheap, and plastic.

Oh, it doesn't stop there! Today, two more recalls were announced. Dangerously high levels of lead were found in the faces of 175,000 Curious George dolls and in some 51,000 Dollar Store children's sunglasses. Lead poisoning in Chinese children's products? It's becoming such a skipping record hardly anyone is noticing anymore. Hell, I'm actually so wary now that I'm refusing to buy Chinese-made products for my kids. Of course, Chinese products are so commonplace now it's almost impossible to avoid them.

But wait! Don't we have a Consumer Product Safety Commission to oversee that these things don't happen to our lovely little nearly-toxin-free children? Why, yes we do! The only problem (and here's another skipping record!) is that the commission that is supposed to oversee our safety is headed by someone who comes from the very industries they are supposed to regulate (ARTICLE). Acting chairperson Nancy Nord, appointed by President Bush, is a former lobbyist for Eastman-Kodak and the leader of a consumer lawyer organization. Her predecessor, Hal Stratton, was also accused of unbecoming ties to Industry. She has opposed extending more protections to whistleblowers as well as better reporting of faulty products to the public. Prominent Congressional Democrats are calling for her resignation, in part for failing to stop these waves of faulty and toxic Chinese products, and in part for scandals on her part for conflicts of interest with Industry, including 30 trips paid for in part or in full by consumer industries to such locations as China, Spain, and a golf resort at Hilton Head, S.C. The fox is running the henhouse, folks.

Oh well. At least all these toxic products make us belatedly realize the benefits of governmental checks and balances and good, old fashioned, high quality American-made products. I just fear how many more children will be poisoned before our industries finally pull out of China.

Creep at Nightclub: "Hey, Baby! What ya drinkin'?"

Attractive and Tipsy Lady: (covering her drink) "I'm watching you, Buddy. I don't trust you any more than I'd trust a Bush appointee."

Creep: (acting hurt) "What? I'm just asking! Really, you can trust me. Here, I've brought this nifty arts and crafts project we can do together…."

Update (11/9/07): (LINK) Today China announced that it had suspended export of AquaDots and had started a thorough investigation. This comes as seven other children in the United States have fallen ill. The dots were supposed to have been coated with the nontoxic compound 1,5-pentanediol but had instead been coated with 1,4-butanediol, which metabolizes to GHB when ingested. 1,4-butanediol is 4- to 5-times less expensive.

Update (11/10/07): HERE is a news video where a mom tells what happened when her toddler swallowed just a few of these AquaDots.

Image taken from HERE.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Goodbye To A Language Pioneer

I love it when the natural world thumbs its nose at Mankind's egotism. Consider, for instance, the belief that out of all the animal kingdom only humans are advanced enough to communicate beyond random grunts, territorial chirping, and mating calls. The more science studies animal communication, the more we realize how very complex their languages are. Dolphins and whales are a common example. But even there we like to believe that their language is restricted only to communicating that they're hungry, or horny, or found a good patch of krill. How could we possibly know they aren't waxing poetic about the place of dolphin-kind in the universe? Are we prepared to believe they may have complex thought? Could they even be more advanced than we are in some manner? Sacrilege!

In fact, I'm willing to believe that some animals consider us as being below them. If you don’t agree, ask any cat owner.

A week ago, the world lost the first non-human animal to prove us wrong.


Washoe was a chimpanzee who, in 1966, became the first primate to be taught American Sign Language. Previous attempts to teach chimps how to verbally communicate all ended in failure. But chimps communicate with gestures in the wild. Why not train them as if they were a deaf human baby? What would be the result? The little chimpanzee immediately began picking up our language, signing the word "toothbrush" when she saw the implement in a bathroom, for instance.

By the time she died on October 30 after a short illness, at the long-lived age of 42, Washoe had a vocabulary of 250 words and had taught sign language to each of her four children (who are 29 to 31 years of age now). She has been housed at the University of Washington's Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, where a memorial service will be held on November 12.

Here is a website for the organization that oversaw Washoe and continues to study and take care of her offspring, "Friends of Washoe":

Washoe was only the first. Likely you have heard of Koko, the signing gorilla (HERE), who, like Washoe, regularly communicates complex thoughts and emotions and has been the continuing source of fascinating studies, documentaries, and articles.

But, hey, Mankind is still God's chosen children. Right? Right??

Sometimes I wonder if the world might be better run by chimps. Sure, they fight each other now and then, but when I read the headlines on any given day I really wonder which is the higher primate. Besides, chimps have sex just to say "hi". That can't be a bad sign.

So what is Washoe's legacy? Simply put, she put us in our place. For the first time one species learned to communicate with another species using their own language. That's monumental! After a year of French in high school and another year of German in college, I still couldn't hold a conversation in either language, and that was with members of my own species.

And what were Washoe's last words? I'd love to find out, but I'm willing to guess it was something to the effect of, "Humans so dumb. Can't learn single word in Chimpanzee!"

Yep, I'm A Loser, But You Still Read Me

God damn! Where the hell have I been for over a month??

After my long hiatus, during which I have settled into a far less stressful and time-consuming job at the same evil global biotech company and divested myself from a increasingly distracting non-profit volunteerism, I am now able to turn my attention back to -- well -- YOU! And the wonderful world of science news, of course.

Yet, despite having been gone from the bloggosphere, my site actually is still getting hits. 230 yesterday, for instance! Go figure. You guys will read anything, I suppose!

Anyhow, I've been amassing lots of good stuff for you, so here goes . . . .