Re: Titantalizing!

1

Pace-egging!


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:36 AM
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I'm holding out for evidence of Tralfamadoreans.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:45 AM
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This would put the cat among the pigeons.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:51 AM
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There's not a lot of sunlight on Titan - though there's some.
Chemosynthesis, now, that sounds rather probable.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:17 AM
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There's not a lot of sunlight on Titan
It's the Scotland of moons.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:21 AM
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FREEEDDDDOOOOOM!


Posted by: OPINIONATED XENOAMOEBA | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:24 AM
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Maybe it is the arsenic thing or maybe it has something to do with the men in lab coats who have surrounded my neighbor's house in plastic sheeting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:34 AM
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8: You could offer to kill whatever's in there.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:58 AM
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Nothing on Emily Lakdawalla's blog, which is where I'd expect the information to be if there was any information to be had.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 7:02 AM
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It's the Scotland of moons.

Indeed, washed by a dark ocean rich in hydrocarbons, under a perpetually overcast sky. Where, perhaps, the inhabitants survive in the absence of sunshine by digesting chunks of energy-rich grease.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 7:04 AM
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Where, perhaps, the inhabitants survive in the absence of sunshine by digesting chunks of energy-rich grease.

Arby's for lunch on a rainy day. Perfect idea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 7:09 AM
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"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for coming along today. To start proceedings, I'd like to announce that we have reached the conclusion that there is not, and never will be, the slightest evidence for extraterrestrial life. And with that in mind, we are ready to answer questions about our credentials and experience from anybody who might be able to offer us jobs. The floor is open."


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 7:13 AM
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Pwned by 10.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 7:13 AM
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I was, that is, not chris y.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 7:23 AM
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Five years, what a surprise.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 7:50 AM
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Obama has finally released the long form of his birth certificate, revealing that his mom is actually from Zeta Reticuli.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 8:05 AM
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I really hate embargoed scientific results.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 8:35 AM
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maybe you could turn your international jaunts into high-tech wikileaking opportunities.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 8:48 AM
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Alexis Madrigal: "I'm sad to quell some of the @kottke-induced excitement about possible extraterrestrial life. I've seen the Science paper. It's not that."


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 8:52 AM
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Kottke's update points to a science journalist debunking the hype, which seems to have led to a discussion of whether saying what is not in a paper counts as breaking an embargo that included a link to this post on an earlier case.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 8:56 AM
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whether saying what is not in a paper counts as breaking an embargo

If you gave a complete list of what isn't in the paper, that would be as good as saying what is in the paper.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:04 AM
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I have not read anything surrounding this, or linked in the comments, to keep my bet pure as it is placed: it will revolve around eliminating potential bacterial contamination by the probes themselves, either negating some controversial, circumstantial finding to which people point as potential evidence or stating that they're more certain now, through some advance in design, that in future they won't be open to people accusing them of having sent an instrument that already had life aboard.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:04 AM
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If you gave a complete list of what isn't in the paper, that would be as good as saying what is in the paper.

Not as readable, though.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:07 AM
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23: Somebody hasn't read a journal in a while.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:08 AM
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I bet it isn't about the Wayans brothers.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:10 AM
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You guys are all wrong. I've seen the article, and they've found green-skinned four-armed space babes! They're running with this as the cover of the journal.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:15 AM
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18: I was suggesting something like that on Facebook recently, hoping to turn some of my experimentalist friends into Deep Throats. But it's sort of orthogonal to the embargoes, which as far as I can tell pretty much only exist to generate extra publicity for Science and Nature and often involve some sort of misdirection to drum up excessive interest and speculation.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:22 AM
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Well it's dead misleading then, cos the only space babe in that picture has two arms (unless silverback gorillas are your idea of totty). Knowing what we know now about Martian temperatures, I felt cold just looking at it.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:26 AM
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often involve some sort of misdirection to drum up excessive interest and speculation

Like the Wonder Bra.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:30 AM
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Here's a blog that is apparently all about embargo issues.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:33 AM
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28: They didn't have time to commission a fresh painting from Vallejo and Bell that exactly matches the paper's findings.

But who knew Barsoom was really Titan?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:37 AM
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23, 24: The first installment of a nonconventional Nature article.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 10:28 AM
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I bet it isn't about the Wayans brothers.

Probably not. But maybe they are sending one of the Kardashian sisters into space.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 10:36 AM
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maybe they are sending one of the Kardashian sisters into space.

Kim looks like she could be a model for Boris or Frazzetta, so it's probably her.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 11:20 AM
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This thread should have been titled "Titans! Hooray!".


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 11:27 AM
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||

Nicely grounded DOD report on DADT repeal.

In the course of our assessment, it became apparent to us that, aside from the moral and religious objections to homosexuality, much of the concern about "open" service is driven by misperceptions and stereotypes about what it would mean if gay Service members were allowed to be "open" about their sexual orientation. Repeatedly, we heard Service members express the view that "open" homosexuality would lead to widespread and overt displays of effeminacy among men, homosexual promiscuity, harassment and unwelcome advances within units, invasions of personal privacy, and an overall erosion of standards of conduct, unit cohesion, and morality. Based on our review, however, we conclude that these concerns about gay and lesbian Service members who are permitted to be "open" about their sexual orientation are exaggerated, and not consistent with the reported experiences of many Service members.

Later:

The creation of a third and possibly fourth category of bathroom facilities and living quarters, whether at bases or forward deployed areas, would be a logistical nightmare, expensive, and impossible to administer. And, even if it could be achieved and administered, separate facilities would, in our view, stigmatize gay and lesbian Service members in a manner reminiscent of "separate but equal" facilities for blacks prior to the 1960s. Accordingly, we recommend that the Department of Defense expressly prohibit berthing or billeting assignments or the designation of bathroom facilities based on sexual orientation.

Also, rates of negative views toward DADT-repeal by service (question 74, self-reported hypothetical negative or very negative effect of working with an open gay/lesbian on one's unit's day-to-day effectiveness): Army 21.7%, Marines 31.4%, Navy 16.8%, Air Force 18%, Coast Guard 18.4%.

|>


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 12:37 PM
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Stands to reason the Navy would be most tolerant.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 12:51 PM
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OK, Twitter can fuck off. What one needs here is a properly argued an informative blog post about Titan, arsenic, what is not in the Science paper (hey - there's going to be a paper in Science?), embargoes, etc. What do you get? Kottke and some other linkwhore-of-the-nanosecond fapping away.

Seriously, what's the point of Kottke? I know he was blogging way back when, so was I, but what is the added value?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 12:51 PM
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37: it's really just that the Air Force is in the closet.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 12:52 PM
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36. Based on personal experience a long time ago, even if DADT is repealed there will still be closeted gays in the military. There will probably always be people confused about their sexuality no matter how tolerant the dominant culture becomes.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 1:03 PM
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40: What bearing does that have on any available options?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 1:35 PM
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41: There will have to be a fifth category of bathrooms for closeted homosexuals.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 1:42 PM
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They seriously talked about separate bathrooms for homosexuals? Jesus. Do these people go through their whole lives avoiding public restrooms?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 1:46 PM
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43: Not just separate bathrooms! Separate units!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 1:49 PM
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43: Public restrooms smell bad and have scratchy TP.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 1:51 PM
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44: Separate units, indeed! One should keep one's unit away from the units of one's platoon.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 1:55 PM
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They seriously talked about separate bathrooms for homosexuals?
There's value in taking concerns like that seriously and dispensing with them formally.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 1:58 PM
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47: And then wash your hands.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:00 PM
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What bearing does that have on any available options?

Probably nothing. But even if they man the USS Andrew Sullivan (SSBN 747) with nothing but drag queens and bull dykes there will be sailors on board uncomfortable with their situation. Being out won't change that.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:04 PM
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42: Fifth and sixth, by that measure. You could enter the appropriate straight stall, press a hidden button, and proceed to a secret stall, to avoid contaminating your peers.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:04 PM
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Who do you think you're arguing with, TLL?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:05 PM
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nothing but drag queens and bull dykes

Um.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:19 PM
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With whom, please.

The only point I was trying to make, tortured though it may be, is that even though there will soon be openly gay service members there will still be some who prefer to remain closeted, for reasons that are the same in the outside world. I think that is worth five dollars, don't you?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:22 PM
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Wait, we get five dollars per comment now? Awesome!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:23 PM
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But is the point germane, TLL? Presumably very few people are advocating for gender perception and sexual preference being imprinted on service-members dog tags.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:25 PM
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WE'D LIKE A WORD WITH YOU ALL.


Posted by: OPINIONATED IRS | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:25 PM
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54. I think you have to find it somewhere.

Don't mind me, I'm rambling as I watch what I thought was a done deal blow up as we speak. Fun times!


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:25 PM
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Since nobody was ever saying "it's vital for military performance that all closeted gays come out," no. Letting gays be out in the military is a position based on principles of freedom and inclusion, and only ever started touching on cohesion, performance etc. in order to refute Sam Nunn and his ilk.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:29 PM
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gender perception and sexual preference being imprinted on service-members dog tags.

Right under religious preference but above blood type?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:30 PM
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very few people are advocating for gender perception and sexual preference being imprinted on service-members dog tags

It certainly would make things easier at last call, though.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:31 PM
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very few people are advocating for gender perception and sexual preference being imprinted on service-members dog tags
Right. Regarding preference, no one wants man on dog tags.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 2:35 PM
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To the OP: I haven't seen the data under discussion, so it's not clear to me whether the result is the dawn of a new age or trivially debunkable. Since it's being published in Science with extra fanfare, one fears the latter. But if it's real, holy cow.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 3:51 PM
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Does the disposal of the idea of having separate bathrooms for homosexuals extend to having separate bathrooms for men and women? Why or why not?


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 3:56 PM
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I'd say there are modesty issues that don't reduce to possible sexual attraction; women generally prefer not to be in a room with strange men with their cocks out, whereas both straight and gay men are used to it in a urinal situation. I don't think unisex bathrooms would be unworkable, but the traditional avoidance of the idea isn't exactly based on "No one should have to pee in a room where someone who might be attracted to them is allowed to go." It's close, but that's not quite the issue.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:17 PM
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Plus, I'd have trouble shitting if a woman was in the room.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:29 PM
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You know, if DADT is repealed, I bet there will still be gays in the military with commitment and intimacy issues. Some will even seek out dysfunctional relationships that mirror their bad relationship with their parents.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:32 PM
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And to the extent you're not kidding about that, I bet you'd be less bothered by a gay man (who might be attracted to you) in the next stall than you would be by a lesbian (who wouldn't be).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:33 PM
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68

||

Remember my friend who lost her week old baby a month ago? She's trying to get into the local community college again, and is getting a huge runaround (they've constantly hassled her the entire time she's been trying to go there, and because she is working class, she doesn't have a lot of the connections or mannerisms they want to see). It's total bullshit -- they want all this information from her destitute parents, and they're freaking about one F she took because she had an incomplete and then her professor fell off the face of the earth.

I am NOT going to let them slam the door in her face again. I am going to call on every single connection I have. Everybody who said to let them know if there was anything they could do? I'm calling them up and letting them know they'd better come correct.

Any particular advice? I am furious.

||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:37 PM
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having separate bathrooms for men and women? Why or why not?

This is only an issue on base. In the field, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go. Think camping, or backpacking.

True fact. When I was in Korea back in the dark ages there was a remote satellite facility that was set up on top of a mountain. Previously it had always been staffed by male Marines, but we had some females on this exercise who were assigned that duty. I was the lucky young 2nd Lt who had to figure out how to get a portable outhouse to the top of the mountain and make sure that it was serviced regularly. All to save those hard charging leathernecks the embarrassment of witnessing what we all must do. As it were.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:37 PM
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Also, the place where I work had unisex, multi-stall bathrooms for 3 and a half years and it worked fine.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:39 PM
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Like George Costanza, I really hate crapping in a bathroom with other people in it. But really, gender or sexual orientation is irrelevant to it. What the military my office really needs are nice single stall bathrooms in isolated parts of the building.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:39 PM
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Yeah, I don't think unisex bathrooms would be a big issue in practice for most people, just that the issue isn't quite about avoiding people whose orientation find you attractive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:40 PM
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68: is the issue just registering, or is it financial aid?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:41 PM
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68: That's horrendous, particularly from a CC, which I think of as supposed to be welcoming to students from varying backgrounds. Is there a concrete issue they're blocking her on -- something to do with loans or financial aid?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:41 PM
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I don't think unisex bathrooms would be a big issue in practice for most people

Toilet equity is the last bastion of sexism? I know that newer stadiums have to include more stalls for women to balance the expedience and time differential of the big trough that they have for the men.


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:44 PM
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67: Yes. Especially when I've been trying to eat healthier.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:45 PM
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68: Actually, let me guess: she is applying for a Pell grant and they won't give her the money because they need proof that she hasn't been registering for courses she has no intention of attending and taking the portion of the grant money that is left over after tuition.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:47 PM
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My dorm (well, my house, which is a subset of a dorm) my first year of college had mostly unisex bathrooms. They set aside one male and one female bathroom for those who were uncomfortable with it. And I don't quite remember what happened, but I think they had to change which one was the female bathroom when one girl literally cried and screamed for fifteen minutes at the house meeting where all this was voted on, because the proposed system would force her to walk down stairs to get to the all-female bathroom, and this was totally unacceptable.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:49 PM
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Other than that everyone was fine with the unisex bathrooms. Less walking down long hallways in bathrobes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:49 PM
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How would you prove your future intent? I suppose that might be what hassling her about the 'F' was -- they're looking at that as evidence that she ditched a prior class?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:50 PM
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77: Does that happen often? I went to school with a few people who did something similar, but they sort of planned to try and then sort of didn't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:51 PM
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I'm bemused by the idea of grant aid with money left over after tuition. That still happens? I thought grants were all tiny and everyone got mostly loans.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:53 PM
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81: Many people believe it happens on our campus, on the grounds that it would explain unusually high no show rates. Also the FBI has been on campus investigating a case of identity theft where the perpetrator used stolen identities to get, among other things, Pell grants.

80: It is incredibly difficult to prove. No one here would think to make that accusation after someone dropped a single class.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:55 PM
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I pocketed a fair amount of grant and scholarship money in college, but none of them were Pell grants or anything like that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 4:58 PM
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Everything old is new again.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:13 PM
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The archives contain everything, but we can amuse ourselves by repeating them in new permutations.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:19 PM
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86: Careful. Don't want to utter the name of G*d.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:21 PM
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Shit, did I just do it?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:30 PM
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Girls don't poop , to paraphrase St. Jerome on the alimentary question w/r/t our Lord, cited by Milan Kundera in something.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 5:47 PM
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86: I have stomach cancer.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:01 PM
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All the bathrooms at the main freshman dorm at my school were big coed multi-toilet and multi shower stall ones. Very institutional, much like the rest of the dorms with crappy never renovated fifties era rooms - linoleum floors, thin, stained mattresses on narrow steel frames, scuffed furniture. I never remember much in the way of serious complaints about either aspect after the first two weeks, though parents would occasionally go through longer freak outs over the bathroom thing. Once in a while, late on a weekend night, couples without an available private room would make us of the shower stalls, or so I'm told. That's about it on the scandalous or salacious front.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:02 PM
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90: I married a fellow commenter, now I'm quittin' the blog!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:12 PM
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If we're trying new permutations, can I be somebody who finished a dissertation?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:12 PM
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Or somebody who didn't start one. I think either would have worked out better.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:14 PM
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Can I be someone contemplating taking a job at a high prestige university in London?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:16 PM
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I recently met a Creole-speaking young person who had artificially curly hair, so I fancy myself quite the expert on permed-youth Haitians.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:17 PM
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96: That one is a stretch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:20 PM
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97: how so? He's the spitting image of (permuted) tweedledopey.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:25 PM
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Can I be like Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, except that I only go after people who make horrible puns?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:26 PM
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99: That air-powered bolt shooting thing seemed pretty satisfying.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:28 PM
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95: Contemplating applying for.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:29 PM
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Chill, Harlford; no pun-free war scolds; zen.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:29 PM
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96: how was his or her youth permed?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 6:38 PM
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Re: 68

So what happened is that she had the incomplete, couldn't get the paper done for the professor before the prof moved on, had to take the F, started taking classes the next semester, only to find out that since she had gotten the F, she was on academic probation, and all her loans were cancelled. This happened to coincide with a lot of other bad things happening in her life -- sexual harassment at work, an ill-fated love triangle that ruined some friendships for awhile, bad housing situations -- so she just kinda gave up on school. Also, as above, she doesn't deal well with bureaucratic requirements. When people tell her "No", with the underlying sentiment of "you're not smart enough, or middle-class enough, or good enough", she unfortunately tends to internalize it and stop trying. So now she's in this situation where there's a lot of water under the bridge, the financial aid people don't want to help her, she can't really get off academic probation, and thus can't figure out how to get back to school. If she could have a stable place to live and enough money for tuition & expenses for a semester, she could probably ace some gut courses and get off probation just fine. (Also, she's only 23, so all of this is compounded by the fact that she needs to get all her ducks in a row for FAFSA stuff with her broke mom, step-dad, and father, and of course they are not much better at dealing with bureaucracy than she is.)

I dunno. I'm going to hang out with her soon and try to get things all straightened out in my mind so I can figure out a good plan of attack, but it is demoralizing, that's for sure.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 7:35 PM
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104: If I'm reading you correctly, she's caught in a trap where she cannot get her student loan processed because she's on academic probation, and the only way to get off probation is to take more courses and pass them, which she cannot afford to do without the loan? My suspicion is that the loan office will be of no assistance, unless she can enlist the aid of some other administrative unit: e.g., the dean of students or similar. She needs someone from within the college to intervene or intercede on her behalf. I think your friend (perhaps with the help of someone else, someone who's not afraid to be politely pushy?) needs to speak with someone directly, in person, face-to-face, explain her situation, and find out what her options are. At this point, she's probably dealing with people who have no real power to bend the rules, which is why they're giving her the runaround. So the first step is find out who she needs to speak to.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 7:57 PM
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Yeah, that's basically my reading of the situation at this point. I'm hoping she will accept some help along those lines. She can be kinda stubborn, which really doesn't help in this type of situation.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 8:05 PM
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I just had a useful consumer service interaction with Comcast. My problem was fixed and it took five minutes. If it weren't raining, I'd go buy a Powerball ticket.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 8:15 PM
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She can be kinda stubborn, which really doesn't help in this type of situation.

Giving up easily would be so much more helpful?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 8:16 PM
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109

108: Well, sometimes she gives up too easily, sometimes she's stubborn. I like her a lot, but sometimes I have to shake my head.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 8:17 PM
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110

105 seems right.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 8:28 PM
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111

If a real estate listing says "3% BAC," then "BAC" has a meaning I haven't heard before, right? Because I think .3% is fatal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:09 PM
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112

||

This pisses me off. What next, demanding that the National Gallery devote a whole wing to Thomas Kinkade?

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:13 PM
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113

90: Hey apo, have you heard Michelle Shocked?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:25 PM
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114

109: It may just be too soon. I don't think I'd be functional in her case.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:46 PM
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115

Shocked. Not.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 9:49 PM
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116

111

If a real estate listing says "3% BAC," then "BAC" has a meaning I haven't heard before, right? Because I think .3% is fatal.

Probably BAC is buyer's agent commission.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 10:14 PM
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Because I think .3% is fatal

Hardcore drinkers can go way higher. We had a guy blow a .29 the other day and he was walking and talking.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 10:38 PM
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118

The opinion linked in 115 is long, but the stuff at the end is good: art IV, sec. 4!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 10:40 PM
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119

114 to 113.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-30-10 10:45 PM
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120

89. Celia does.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 1-10 2:07 AM
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121

how was his or her youth permed?

In the manner of your mother.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 1-10 6:15 AM
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122

117: Did he get a prize?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-10 6:29 AM
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123

Not that exciting. Still interesting, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 1-10 3:39 PM
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124

I hope they put this in context (and don't sensationalize it). So far it just sounds like "more extremophiles exist; film at 11".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 1-10 7:10 PM
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125

Is there a bacteria that can survive in Old Lace, too? Because I smell a sequel!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 1-10 7:13 PM
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126

I could believe Peter Lorre was an alien.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 1-10 7:18 PM
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127

This obviously reveals my deep ignorance of all things extra-terrestrial, but I don't understand the difference between the titantalizing possibility you'd hoped for and the not that exciting actual news. I thought the actual news was more or less the titantalizing possiblity. But clearly I'm confused.

Anyway, I guess they're stop regulating arsenic levels in the drinking water any day now, since NASA's proven arsenic to be life-sustaining.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 4:01 PM
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128

Stanley, is C-ville and its environs awesome around Christmastime?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 4:06 PM
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129

I always get a little confused when my uncle talks about working with NASA at L/assen Vo/lcanic National Park (he's a ranger there), but it is interesting to realize how much money they pump into terrestrial projects meant to look at habitable environments. They're up there all the time.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 4:11 PM
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128: It's quiet, because the students are mostly gone. I can't think of what qualifying as awesome would require with regard to Christmas. There are a lot of cute shops and good restaurants downtown. Probably some of the surrounding historic places and ski joints and vineyards and orchards do some holiday things I don't know about. Oh, and I'll be around, and I'm certainly awesome for expansive definitions of the word.

Sorry that's not more helpful. (Also: did you ask that same question in another recent thread? I thought I recalled reading it and intended to circle back around to answer it but still haven't had the chance.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 4:18 PM
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131

I can't think of what qualifying as awesome would require with regard to Christmas

The Rapture?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 4:29 PM
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132

Pumping money into volcanos is dangerous.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 4:29 PM
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133

I did! Thanks. I am taking the week between Christmas and new years off, and we're looking for stuff to do.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 5:09 PM
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134

urple, email me if you're interested in the titantalizing result. I can expound at some length, but I suspect I'd bore everyone else to tears.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 5:37 PM
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135

I'm interested!

In the meantime, this is funny.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 5:40 PM
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136

You should just expound here. I'd be interested.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 5:44 PM
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137

Me three.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 5:45 PM
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138

Yes, talking about math problems or the goddamned Senate is way more interesting than learning about FUCKING EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE from someone who is really knowledgeable about it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 5:51 PM
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139

It was E.T. they found. It was a fucked-up microbe from California.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 6:10 PM
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140

Like Jack in the Box, but intentionally made.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 6:12 PM
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141

139 s/b "It wasn't E.T."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 6:13 PM
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142

Well, it has implications for extraterrestrial life, right? Anyhow, more interesting than the Senate.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 6:19 PM
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143

Ah, I just now read the damn articles past all the breathless fucking headlines, and I see that 139 (+141) is right. I thought they found this sonuvabitch somewhere in outer space. Now I feel cheated--anyone can make bacteria out of arsenic in a laboratory.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 6:51 PM
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144

So, next question: in light of 143, could someone explain to me how exactly this is "an astrobiology finding"? Seems like boring old biology to me. Can't have no astro if there aren't any asteroids.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 6:54 PM
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Well okay then. Don't say I didn't warn you.

We're mostly built of six elements: C, H, N, O, P, and S. All three domains of life (bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes) use these elements to build proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and carbohydrates, as well as the small molecules that get shuffled around the cell in the course of normal metabolism. These six have useful chemistry; their particular properties shape just about everything* about how cells do business. But they're not unique; they have features (chemical reactivity, etc.) in common with other elements. So the choice of these six elements could just be contingent: maybe we all use them because our last universal common ancestor** did, but it only used them because they were readiest to hand. So what would have happened if one of these elements had been harder to get hold of than one of its chemical congeners? Would an entirely separate ancestry have arisen, using the congener in place of the usual element? Would there be a facultative hybrid, using the usual element wherever possible but swapping in the congener when supplies were limited? Or are CHNOPS really special?

The authors of the new study were particularly interested in arsenic (As) as a possible replacement for phosphorus. (Other people who know stuff about other planets/moons can probably say whether this makes sense in astrobiology terms—I have no idea whether As or P is harder to come by on Titan.) And phosphorus is a particularly interesting target for replacement because it comes up in so many interesting places in the cell: phosphate is in the backbone of DNA and RNA; phosphoesters form the bonds that give ATP its kick, and in general are used to activate all sorts of metabolites for essential chemical reactions; phospholipids are integral to the cell membrane*** and to some signalling pathways; phosphoryl groups get transferred on and off of a bunch of enzymes to modulate their activity in essential ways; and the phosphate groups of GTP allow a bunch of other enzymes to tell time, which is what makes it possible for cells to (among other things) perform error-checking in DNA and protein synthesis. So if there were an organism that didn't need P at all, that would be a huge, huge deal.

What the authors did was collect sediment samples from Mono Lake, which (as an endorrheic lake) has ridiculously high As levels: if you're going to find an As-using organism anywhere, that's where you'd start. (Their paper doesn't say what the lake's P level is, which is annoying. Obviously you've got the best hope of finding an As alien where As is high and P is very low.) In the lab, they made up medium that chemically resembled Mono Lake water but had very little P, and they used their sediment samples to inoculate that medium. Once the cultures had grown, they were used to inoculate a new batch of medium, and so on. Every time, the inoculum (and thus all of the background sediment goo, including any P) was diluted 10X, and every time they made the As concentration of the medium a little higher than in the previous round. Eventually they did some standard microbiology to isolate a single bacterial strain from this culture.

Okay, so that's the first result: the strain they isolated is a bacterium, not a totally new form of life. It's evolved, fairly recently, from known halophiles—not surprisingly, since Mono Lake is super salty. Boring. Still, there's a big question: can this strain just tolerate the As, or is it actually using As to fill in for P?

The paper isn't very satisfactory on this point. The authors use several different methods to try to claim that, yes, As is filling in for P in lots of different contexts, but I'm not convinced. For one thing, if I understand their supplemental data correctly, even in the most As-rich cells (grown with ~1000X more As than P in the medium), there's still 50X as much P as there is As in the cell. They ran an elemental analysis on some DNA isolated from +As/-P bugs and some from -As/+P bugs, and sure, there's more As in the former, but still very very little. They perform a coarse chemical separation of different classes of biomolecules and find As in each pool, but they don't identify the particular molecules it's actually in, so we don't know that it's actually in any; it could just be hitching a ride. They run a spectral analysis that's consistent with most of the cells' As atoms being bound to 4 O atoms each, as you'd expect if As is present as phosphate-mimicking arsenate (AsO4(3-)), and they do rule out the possible sequestered forms As-Fe and As-S (and thank god for that), but they don't show that the AsO4(3-) is actually incorporated into biomolecules rather than sequestered in that form. They note that the P content of these cells is unusually low, but as far as I can tell they haven't let the cultures run for enough generations to exhaust their P reserves. (Though they do find that the cultures fail to grow when given neither As nor P, which is certainly something.) Etc.

All in all, not that exciting yet. But if they can nail down the biochemistry, it could still be really cool.

*ignore the metalloenzymes and metal cofactors
**if there was one
***although, interestingly, it's well established that in some P-starved parts of the ocean, microbes largely replace their phospholipids with sulfolipids, so there's precedent for this sort of thing


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 7:03 PM
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146

144: The dog from the Jetsons was lead author on the research paper.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 7:04 PM
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147

I have no idea whether As or P is harder to come by...

Probably depends on where you look and all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 7:11 PM
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143/144: the bugs did at least make themselves; they're not some sort of wacky artificial life. The astro part was the wild hope that maybe they'd be As-only bugs, which could (depending on a lot of other features) be suggestive of a second origin of life, which could have happened IN SPACE.

Also, can I just say, why the hell didn't the authors assay for sulfolipids? Because duh.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 7:11 PM
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Also thank you for the detailed explanation. I was very interested.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 7:12 PM
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We're mostly built of six elements: C, H, N, O, P, and S.

We're all made of SCHNOP.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 7:21 PM
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151

First reference I found says phosphorus levels are high in Mono Lake, actually.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 7:24 PM
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152

Excellent, thanks.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 7:29 PM
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153

De nada.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 7:32 PM
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Thanks, clew. So yeah, chances of CHNOAsS life from Mono Lake are not that hot.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 7:55 PM
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155

We're all made of SCHNOP.

See, my instinct was to go with SPONCH for pronouncability reasons.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:19 PM
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156

Most of that oxygen is in the form of O2, so really we're all made of PONCHOS.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:21 PM
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156: I think most of the O in people would be found combined with H.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:25 PM
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155: Was playing Balderdash/Dictionary over the holiday and one word was "spong". Twelve people playing and no one got the real definition.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:26 PM
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Also, SPONCH is more fun to say than SCHNOP.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:26 PM
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157: don't be a PONCS, HOH.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:28 PM
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159: schn-ist


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:37 PM
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156: I think most of the O in people would be found combined with H.

Mmm, alcohol.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:47 PM
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145 is very nice.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:48 PM
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164

I'm feeling slightly better about scientists after a dinner in which no one was a contrarian and the main point of debate was whether we should be totally sure we're right in our moral and political opinions like "gay marriage should be allowed" and "abortion should be legal", or just pretty damn sure?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:51 PM
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164: Yes, but did you get drunk?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:52 PM
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No, just mildly tipsy. The wine was purchased in advance. I think someone decided we've been spending too much.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:54 PM
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145: Yay! Thanks!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 8:57 PM
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Also, can I just say, why the hell didn't the authors assay for sulfolipids? Because duh.

Hovertext!


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 2-10 9:09 PM
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169

We're mostly built of six elements: C, H, N, O, P, and S

Carbs, Hardee's, Nicotine, Olive Oil, Peanut Butter, and Sugar?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 3-10 1:07 PM
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170

Caffeine, surely.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12- 3-10 1:14 PM
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171

Jokes on unfogged are mostly built of three elements: Carbon, Oxygen, and Potassium.


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 12- 3-10 2:45 PM
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172

Cocks, oxycontin and puns?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-10 2:47 PM
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173

But the most relevant combination isn't chemically possible, is it? We'll have to settle for ionic cock.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-10 2:48 PM
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174

Positively!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-10 2:50 PM
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Jokes on unfogged are mostly built of three elements: Carbon, Oxygen, and Potassium.

COPshow!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 3-10 2:52 PM
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176

173: The H's are silent.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 3-10 3:23 PM
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177

Because it is topical and Teo hasn't posted this yet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-10 7:15 PM
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