Sunday, April 01, 2007

Bits off the Wires

For almost as long as I can remember, I have been a compulsive reader. Our house had a daily paper and a number of periodicals, and I read many of them. Before my teens I was regularly reading two daily newspapers, as we subscribed to the one major Philadelphia daily and I delivered the other one. In college, I worked shelving periodicals, and so my breaks were often spent browsing magazines.

The Internet has of course expanded the reach of what I can access immensely. There are a number of regular sites I visit, but I also enjoy clicking through to things that look interesting. I use Gmail for my personal mail, and so my incoming mail triggers sidebar ads -- for example, if my mail mentions 'DNA', which isn't uncommon, there is at least one creationist site that routinely shows up. I also spend a lot of time Googling for useful information, which brings up all sorts of sidebar ads. Some are totally silly -- I can apparently buy DNA sequencers (and worn socks) on eBay, and others are varying degrees of odd. A few of the choicer items from recent searches are below.

An obscure English institute of learning convened a press conference in a small village to announce that a research team is close to identifying the gene responsible for the obscure genetic syndrome of 'squibism' -- sufferers apparently lack certain abilities this institution finds appealing. The item mentioned that it may be allelic to being a muggle, but I hadn't heard of that either. The spokesman mentioned that the institute is also investigating a number of unusual creatures capable of generating very high internal body temperatures, with possible applications in energy production or bioremediation. However, when pressed for details the spokesman vanished from the press conference.

A more frightening item concerns a precocious, but sinister, trio of children who are apparently playing around with genetically modifying a deadly fungus known as the Medusoid Mycelium. According to The Daily Punctillo, these Baudelaire siblings have apparently been associated with a series of unfortunate events, including arson and the loss of a research submarine. Luckily for all of us, a very dashing chap named Count Olaf has promised to track them down and separate them from their source of funds for these dastardly experiments. Given the facts presented, we should all have a Very Fervent Desire that this be accomplished as soon as possible.

Finally, I stumbled on a website for Samiam Biotechnology Inc., which is proposing to market foods based on chickens and pigs transgenic for green fluorescent protein. I always meant to try some modern biotech foods, but have never gotten the chance. However, this seems to be just a little too weird for me -- it's one thing to have food that is enhanced for nutrition or shelf life or flavor, but to modify its genes just to have fun eating under a black light? I think that's a bit much. No, I would not eat them on a boat, I would not eat them with a goat...

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