Re: Ask The Scientists

1

Moreover, why isn't there a cat version of the cold? Why don't my cats spend a week every year, on average, being stuffed up and malaise-y, like I do? Is it just because house cats don't fraternize?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:18 AM
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Also! If I find kittens cute, how come my cats don't find babies cute? I mean, before they'd ever been exposed to a mobile tyrannical baby. Is it just a size thing? We are wary of infants who could stomp us?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:21 AM
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I suppose that veers into much different areas of science.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:21 AM
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If, say, one sneaked into a zoo and fed the tigers or snow leopards several bushels of catnip, would they eventually become safe to play with? I'm asking for a friend.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:27 AM
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Actually, I was at a super empty zoo once abroad, and they let us come back and pet some gigantic baby leopards (iirc). They purred, which was a gorgeous deep rumbling sound.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:28 AM
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But they were dirty and musky in a way that drives me nuts when the smell gets on your hands.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:29 AM
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Why do you hate baby leopards, racist?!

A friend of a friend got to pet a tiger cub at a zoo. I am pretty sure I turned chartreuse with envy.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:34 AM
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That's a figure of speech that you got from Lunchy, admit it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:37 AM
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OT: "Penelope Tree" is one of the best names ever.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:38 AM
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Better than "Penelope Trunk"?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:39 AM
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8: No, but we did talk about chartreuse for some reason.

10: I'm no mathematician, but (i) yes and (ii) one hundred zillion jillion times better.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:40 AM
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Humans have two nostrils because one is always stuffed up, right? Back on the veldt, we just had one big nostril, but the fewer of those people survived to have children, because when they got colds, the suffocated. So the people with two nostrils survived.

In the future we will actually have two separate noses.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:42 AM
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So cats have two nostrils in order to taunt us?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:43 AM
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10: I had wondered if it was hommage.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:43 AM
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Back on the veldt, we just had one big nostril....

Didn't Patton Oswalt say that Robert Evans did "so much blow in the '70s that he had one giant vampire bat disco coke nostril"?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:44 AM
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14: I think Miss Tree (!) preceded the Trunkster by quite a bit.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:45 AM
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Doing some reading on the OP, there seems to be a notion of a "Eurasian ruminant street".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:46 AM
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I assume Oudie wondered about Trunk hommaging Tree.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:46 AM
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16: Yes, exactly. What heebie said.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:49 AM
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Trunk seems incapable of human emotion sufficiently self-involved not to want to reference a relatively obscure London mannequin of the youthquake era.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 7:51 AM
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If she is to be believed, it was originally a pen name that someone at Time-Warner came up with.

My editor said, "Time, Inc. does not negotiate with a no-name like you." So I didn't say anything when the magazine assigned me the name Penelope Trunk.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:04 AM
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Why do you people spell "homage" so weird?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:05 AM
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You think you're so french. We're talking about a homehole.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:08 AM
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Also, I am trying to do science right now! Except: sorta boring to talk about, so I won't.

I'm simultaneously cooking eggs, and could talk about that!


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:11 AM
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Those were tasty eggs! Yum. Fried 'em right up.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:17 AM
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That's what you say now, but how many failed experiments did you discard before you achieved your so-called statistically-significant tastiness?


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:30 AM
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My file drawer is full of nasty eggs, you say?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:33 AM
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THIS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FEED A STONER SCRAMBLED EGGS!


Posted by: OPINIONATED BIG LEBOWSKI CENSORAGE LINK FROM THE OTHER THREAD SO NOT RE-LINKING | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:36 AM
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So linking cat videos is the new resetting your Tivo?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:36 AM
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30

Being twee is the new laid?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:37 AM
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Being obscure is the new clarity and sweet reason?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:44 AM
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Being is the new and time?


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:45 AM
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33

Being is the new there.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:50 AM
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34

Beijing is the new Washington DC.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:55 AM
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Speaking of Washington DC. this NYTimes map of government "dependency" is interesting to play around with.

Two comments:
1) As in all "%" maps, the effects of population size are absolutely obscured, but I worked with enough assholes who had the Bush v. Gore by county map on their walls not to care. (And it is actually more complicated than that in this instance.)

2) It is really too bad that the Washington DC area has to suffer so much of the rest of the country not being able to pull its weight without government help.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:08 AM
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Here! Science!

(That paper is rad.)


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:10 AM
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OP: Your cat is too busy catching sunbeams to catch your cold, obviously.

2: kittens have been selected to look cute to human beings. Babies are not usually so subject to selection pressure exerted by adult cats.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:13 AM
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38

36 is to why poor people live in red states?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:13 AM
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37: but I find baby gorillas and rhinos cute, too. Do their adults find my babies cute? I suppose every now and then you get cross-species adoption stories, which must be cuteness trumping the delicious veal flavor.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:15 AM
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348: not proximally, no.

It's just a paper I was in the middle of reading that is neat. And I wanted to be on-topic, because I crave approval.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:17 AM
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When you're pregnant they test you to see if you've had parvo (dog disease!) or toxo (now internet famous mind control cat disease!). I was a yes on parvo and a no on toxo -- which pretty much means I grew up in closer proximity to dog shit than cat shit (true!).


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:18 AM
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38: Their extracellular signal-regulated kinase cascades are totally for shit.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:18 AM
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39: a lot probably depends on how social the parenting style of a given species is; human infants have an extraordinarily long period of dependence, so it makes good sense for human adults to find them cute as shit, because otherwise we'd eat and/or stab them well before laptop-shooting age. So we've probably evolved in some sense to find big-eyed, awkward small things adorable to a greater degree than most other species.

At least that's my vague memory of Gould's take on it.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:20 AM
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I grew up with dog shit from cat-shit-eating dogs, so almost a turducken of crap. Also the cats themselves, though. They didn't tell me my results though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:21 AM
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But come on, 36! They used computational modeling of biochemical processes to improve sea slug pedagogy. Tight!


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:22 AM
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46

45: For those that can read it without paying. Big Academia for the exclusionary knowledge win!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:25 AM
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37.last: Bob is trying to make that happen.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:26 AM
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46: ahh the good stuff is pretty much in the abstract and diagrams.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:27 AM
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I don't know that cats can't get some kind of cold. They can certainly get some kind of flu. My cat when I was a chabbie had to be put down because she was dying of it. Not cool.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:30 AM
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39: Seriously for the moment, I'd guess it has to do with how much "alloparenting" is normal in the species. It certainly happens in other primates including other great apes (ObBook/ObFeministSociobiology: Blaffer Hrdy, Mother Nature), so my guess is that we're primed to respond to helpless younglings, whether or not they're immediately related to us, in ways that Felis silvestris is not. Maybe you'd have better luck getting your baby adopted by lions?


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:32 AM
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When we lived in England in the late '60s, we kinda sorta adopted an alley cat whose previous owner had trained it to shit over the plughole in the bath, which saved on litter. One ran the taps to flush it away.


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:33 AM
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The cat stuff is all well and good, but what does HIV do to vampires?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:35 AM
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IME cats and dogs don't think babies are cute, but they seem to recognise them as the not yet fully responsible infants of the can-opening species, because they tolerate a lot more abuse from tiny kids than they do from adults.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:36 AM
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One ran the taps mashed it down with one's feet to flush it away.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:36 AM
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Why is no one trying to domestic snow leopards? They're gorgeous and they're not that much bigger than a Great Dane or St. Bernard (if at all).


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:36 AM
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51: I keep telling people that should work. Glad to know it has.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:36 AM
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s/domestic/domesticate/


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:38 AM
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53: Yeah, that's what I was going to say too. Cats almost always like to hang out with babies in their cribs or whatever, and dogs are crazy about toddlers, partially I think because their faces are at just the right height for licking (if you are a big dog). My neighbors did send their somewhat violent and racist Alsatian/black Lab mix away for a few weeks after their baby was born, just on the off chance that it would feel threatened I guess. But it's been fine since they brought it home.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:41 AM
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In the bird world, there are many different ways that chicks make adults pay attention to them but it's varied. Partly this is based on whether the chicks are precocious or not. A chicken chick is hatched covered in down and able to walk and forage within a couple days. A warbler chick is hatched naked and ugly and needs to be fed by the parents (i.e. altricial). The 'forces' acting on the parents are different.

So with precocial birds like geese and ducks there is an imprinting time - when the offspring 'bond' with whatever adult is around be it human, dog, or goose. The chicks then follow the adult around but they don't need to be fed or anything.

With semi-precocial colonial birds like terns, gulls, boobies, the chicks don't imprint on adults and the adults don't imprint on their chicks - it's all about the nest site. If a gull is bringing a strange chick back to its nest site for its offspring to eat, and the chick survives its flight to the nest as prey, the gull will adopt it. The reason for the lack of imprinting is that because there are so many nests around, it is an advantage for the chicks to accept whatever parents are feeding it.

With passerines like sparrows and warblers, chicks have evolved to trigger a 'feed the gaping maw' response in the adults. Something about the arrangement of spots on the head just compels feeding. Which can then be taken advantage of by nest parasites like cuckoos that have even better spot arrangement than the natural offspring and so they get fed more and out compete the other chicks (they also push other chicks and eggs out of the nest).

I have less informed opinions about cat colds. Something about the need for a certain density of individuals to make it effective to transfer between them using liquids? So like a bunch of people living together can transfer colds with sneezes but cats are too solitary so diseases have to use other methods (poop).


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:42 AM
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"According to a standard handbook, diseases human populations share today with domestic animals number as follows:
Poultry 26
Rats and mice 32
Horse 35
Pig 42
Sheep and goats 46
Cattle 50
Dog 65"

From Plagues and Peoples, by William H. McNeill, 1976. (The "standard handbook" is Diseases Transmitted from Animals to Man, Thomas G. Hull, 1963.) I really enjoyed P&P when I read it, many years ago.

Not on list: cats.
Not explored: Diseases Transmitted from Man to Animals i.e.the question in the OP...
Puzzling: why some animals are referred to in the plural, while others are singular.


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:42 AM
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I don't know that cats can't get some kind of cold. They can certainly get some kind of flu. My cat when I was a chabbie had to be put down because she was dying of it. Not cool.

Sure, but you probably didn't have to worry about catching it. Why are viruses so unable to switch back and forth between mammal respiratory systems?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:42 AM
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Oh, one thing that really separates mammals from like birds, is the sense of smell. So maybe cats don't think babies smell like helpless newborns and they're really not picking up on the visuals that they have big eyes and chub?

And then there is all kind of behavioural triggers. Like if human babies could kneed on the belly of a cat, maybe the cat would love the baby as its own?


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:47 AM
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Why are viruses so unable to switch back and forth between mammal respiratory systems?

Some are, some aren't. If you die of bird flu you can take satisfaction in having succumbed to a virus adapted to infecting an animal which split off from your evolutionary ancestors 350 million years ago. I think the short answer is that viruses mutate like motherfuckers and sometimes this results in their being able to jump species, but not often.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:47 AM
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But what is the barrier between being able to colonize my sinuses but not my cat's? It's got to be some cell mechanism, but it's weird that the functionality is so identical, yet hyper adaptable viruses generally are too specialized to make the leap.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:50 AM
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||

I'm unreasonably pleased to discover that the Welsh rugby team (who are currently murdering Scotland - d^2 will no doubt be moderately drunk) includes a player called Lou Reed. The image is worth retaining.

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:50 AM
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Off to go jogging! (jammies is home!!)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:51 AM
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Shorter 59.5: Cats don't get colds because cats don't have hands.

Now why don't cats have hands?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:53 AM
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60: (The "standard handbook" is Diseases Transmitted from Animals to Man, Thomas G. Hull, 1963.)

THEY'RE NOT ALTRUISTS! IT'S A COOKBOOK!


Posted by: OPINIONATED XENOLINGUIST | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:00 AM
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67: Because they think hand holding is creepy and weird.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:00 AM
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My grandmother used to have a cat with extra toes that were almost opposable. Surely it's just a matter of time.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:03 AM
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Cats are 2.5 degrees warmer, which is going to cause some trouble for species jumping.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:06 AM
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I feel like I heard something, somewhere, about cats having more efficient immune systems due to the tongue-washing business, but perhaps that was apocryphal.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:09 AM
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Hrm, I may actually have been onto something there, rhinovirus likes 89 degrees Fahrenheit (which is why it spreads more in cold weather, your nose is more likely to be the right temperature). Cat noses might just be too warm.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:12 AM
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My cat's nose smells catfood.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:14 AM
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It appears the rhinovirus is mostly just a human thing. There's a few species of pig rv's and one monkey one, but otherwise just human.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:16 AM
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Science! Your explanation sounds pretty plausible to me, Upetgi.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:34 AM
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cats having more efficient immune systems due to the tongue-washing business

I feel like I heard something, somewhere (from a vet?) about cats' saliva containing, erm, some kind of natural, um, something, such that if they lick any wounds they might have, the surface skin heals over more quickly than it otherwise would. This is why, if you have a cat with a wound that's abscessed -- such that the abscess needs to drain and heal from the inside out -- you must keep the cat from licking the wound (as the skin will heal over the abscess and it will not drain as needed). Hence the need, at times, for the wearing of a reverse bucket on the head. Of the cat.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:41 AM
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Wouldn't surprise me if nose shape was a factor, too.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:41 AM
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|| I sure hope Roslyn Carter wasn't Whitney Houston, because that advice to drink some wine, take a Xanax, and get in the tub might not have been the best. |>


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:42 AM
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Huh. I promise I wasn't trying to kill any first ladies with multi-octave singing ranges!


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:46 AM
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||
Why did I just waste 15 minutes of my life reading Instapundit and T/om Ma/guire's blog?
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:51 AM
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I thought it was dog saliva that was all full of goodwhatnot and cat saliva that was full of badbadbad such that cat bites needed to be cleaned thoroughly and watched for infection that might kill you? I guess that might be cross-species rather than within species though.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:57 AM
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82: Hm. I think the deal with cat bites is that they tend to be small puncture wounds, and any such thing needs to be cleaned thoroughly, etc., whatever the species of the being who has received it. When a cat him- or herself receives a puncture wound, it may become abscessed, since the skin may have healed over (from the licking), so it needs to be drained, and the cat may need to be kept from continuing to lick it.

I've lived with a couple of cats prone to receiving other cats' bites, and we got fairly used to applying warm compresses to the wound, sometimes gently squeezing it to drain it ... and we had a house cat-head bucket to go around the cat's neck if we really couldn't keep the wound open to drain. I think it was a vet who explained the whole natural-antibiotic-in-saliva thing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:28 AM
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Hrm, I may actually have been onto something there, rhinovirus likes 89 degrees Fahrenheit (which is why it spreads more in cold weather, your nose is more likely to be the right temperature).

I'm pretty sure the parenthetical here is wrong. For one, transmission usually occurs indoors: planes, daycares, hospitals, etc. You're not touching much that's been sneezed on and then rubbing your face when you're outside.

Second, cold and flu viruses have no trouble spreading north-south, and the cold and flu season is the same length in Florida as Wisconsin, despite the fact that it's spanning temperatures from 80 to -15.

Finally, I think it's pretty common for colds and viruses to be cyclical, for reasons that are poorly understood, like they travel through the world in cyclical patterns, and some are summer bugs and some are whatever, but it's not a straight-forward link with temperature.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:29 AM
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I'm not arguing that that's not the barricade with cats, though. There it seems more reasonable, because the bug is actually trying to take up residence.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:31 AM
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If we've learned anything from Contagion, it's that the really bad ones come from bats pooping on pigs.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:33 AM
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I had a pretty nasty infection from a cat bite once. Fever, and everything. [Obligatory Ted Nugent riffing here]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:34 AM
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Me too. Some evangelicals left some leaflets in the door, and the crazy cat was going nuts, and attacked the leaflets, and my hand in the process.

I put neosporin on it, which - cat bite alert - exact wrong thing to do! As Parsi says, the problem is that it's a deep puncture wound, so you don't want to seal the opening and lock bacteria down deep inside.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:41 AM
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88: exact wrong thing to do

So now you have a robotic hand, and you're concerned that you may be turning into your father?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:44 AM
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The temperature of the part of the body that gets infected is definitely a crucial factor. Rhinoviruses tend to infect in the upper respiratory tract (33 degrees Celsius), and not the lower respiratory tract (37 degrees Celsius), because it's too warm in the lower respiratory tract. Cat body temperature is already warmer than human body temperature, and the mouth/nose are probably closer to their core temperature than human mouth/nose are, so it makes sense that they don't get the same rhinoviruses we do.

As for influenza that has more likelihood of cross-species transmission. But how does a virus infect cells? For some of them it just gets taken up during phagocytosis, or it binds to something like heparan sulfate that is on the surface of all cells. For some of them there is a very specific receptor, allowing the virus to bind to one type of cell and not others, e.g. HIV with the CD4 receptor.

Influenza needs to bind specific cell-surface glycoproteins with its own envelope proteins in order to infect the cells. Different types of cells have different surface glycoproteins which are branched off and polymerized in different ways. This is because a particular cell type not only produces a particular set of proteins, it has a particular set of enzymes, for example sialyl transferases, which decorate the proteins with sugars, and link the sugars to other sugars, and so on.

I'm not an expert on this but I think the issue is that in one species you have polymers of something like sialic acid which are linked via the 2,6 carbons, while in another species the polymers might be linked via the 2,4 carbons. Therefore the surface of the cell will have a different ... texture, so to speak, and the virus can't latch on to it. We have seen avian flu which has a moderate affinity for human cells, so that it can infect a human and make us sick. But it still doesn't have as high an affinity for human cells as it does for bird cells.

Here's a little explanation.

The phrase to look for is "Cross-species transmission".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:46 AM
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90: So that makes sense, and fits with other pop-science stuff I've read, but humans and cats have been in contact for a fairly long time. It seems like there would be plenty of opportunity for different proteins to evolve on the viruses. Or is there some barrier like "viruses only get one protein coating" or something? Maybe it says in the link.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:50 AM
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When thinking about where viruses are "happy", it's an issue of where their proteins are most stable (this is affected by temperature, pH, , and where they have access to the cellular molecules that allow them to replicate (this is affected by the type of cell they infect, and even the region of the cell they end up in -- most viruses need to get to the nucleus somehow). Also a lot of viruses have proteins that block the immune system's anti-viral program (basically, interferon attracting an immediate response of natural killer cells -- plus the infected cells detecting that they are infected and aborting all protein production).

A common situation is a virus that makes animals very sick, but if you take out its one protein that inhibits interferon production by binding to IRF7 or something, suddenly the animals are able to get rid of the virus right away. So imagine the intact version of that virus infects a different species where IRF7 is shaped slightly differently and the virus's protein can't bind it as well. The virus may enter the cells and replicate a few times, but the host gets rid of it right away.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:56 AM
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I had the general impression that we didn't give children non-human dolls until circa 1900 - teddy bears and so forth - and that the transference of the protective instinct to baby animals is similarly recent.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:56 AM
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That first paragraph should be:

When thinking about where viruses are "happy", it's an issue of where their proteins are most stable (this is affected by temperature, pH, salt concentration and other chemistry things I forgot), and where they have access to the cellular molecules that allow them to replicate (this is affected by the type of cell they infect, and even the region of the cell they end up in -- most viruses need to get to the nucleus somehow).


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:58 AM
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Thanks, Ned! That makes sense, or seems like something that I need to read more slowly and digest, at least.

Also 93 is interesting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 11:59 AM
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Cat zoonoses:

http://www.wormsandgermsblog.com/articles/animals/cats/


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 12:06 PM
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or toxo (now internet famous mind control cat disease!).

Boy is it weird.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 12:16 PM
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Although cats and humans have been living together for a long time, it's only recently that you have cats who only come into contact with humans and hardly ever interact with other cats. My cat probably doesn't need any vaccines because where is she going to get FIV or FLV from? But she gets the vaccines anyway.

Most viruses are constrained by very limited genome size. I don't know much about these macro issues, but we usually talk about viruses having to give up one thing in order to acquire the ability to do something else. If they acquire enhanced ability to replicate at a wider range of temperatures, maybe they end up with less replication efficiency. With HIV, they can acquire resistance to various drugs, but each time the virus gets weaker ("attenuated") in some other way. In fact the way we produce vaccines for human viruses is often to "pass" the virus through some cell type that it's not accustomed to, so that it becomes more accustomed to that cell type, and less able to infect people.

Modified vaccine Ankara

Unlike bacteria, which can just add a little antibiotic-resistance plasmid to their repertoire, without being affected in any other way.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 12:22 PM
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The cold I am entertaining right now is so bad, I bet a cat could get it.

I've been offline - what's the current state of play re Flinchy? Airport TV is reminding all of us here in Mpls just how precious life is: this might be the meds talking, but I hope it's more 'How Will I Know' than 'Didn't We Almost Have It All.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 12:53 PM
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99: If you refer to Flip and Lunchy, he's reported that hands were held last night: it looks like a go.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 12:56 PM
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||

In other news, how stupid can you get?

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 1:29 PM
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The Wikipedia article on zoonosis is worth a read.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 1:33 PM
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This seems like a good place for my regular plug of Carl Zimmer's Parasite Rex, which goes into this topic (and internet meme Toxoplasma Gondii) in some detail.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 1:53 PM
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toxo (now internet famous mind control cat disease!)

Am I missing something new about this? Ever since I can remember reading science books, I've been hearing about how we know toxoplasmosis changes rodent behavior to make them more fearless, we know people can get infected by toxoplasmosis from cats and it's dangerous to pregnant women, so hey, maybe it changes human behavior.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 1:55 PM
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Am I missing something new about this?

The big Atlantic article that just came out.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 1:56 PM
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IS THIS FUCKER GOING TO EVEN TRY TO BITE SOMETHING?


Posted by: FRUSTRATED RABIES VIRUS IN A HUMAN | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 1:58 PM
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I read Parasite Rex recently and loved it. I usually don't like science books written by people with a journalism/writing background, but Zimmer is fantastic.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 2:03 PM
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98.last isn't quite right; it's very often the case that bacteria acquiring an antibiotic resistance gene suffer some small decrease in growth rate. Of course if they're in an environment in which the antibiotic is common, it's totally worth the trade-off, but if antibiotic exposure is rare, the resistant bugs will typically be outcompeted over time. So the prevalence of the antibiotic resistance plasmid over time might follow a sawtooth pattern, with sharp increases whenever antibiotic kills the non-resistant bugs and then gradual declines as sporadic loss of the plasmid in the surviving lineages re-creates the faster-growing subpopulation. For what that's worth.


Posted by: Gabardine Bathyscaphe | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 2:39 PM
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Antibiotics, fiddlesticks! Get to the real issues that America's hard-working middle class care about: none of you nerds geeks scientasticists has answered my question in 4.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 2:55 PM
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I don't think even domestic cats become MORE safe to play with under the influence of catnip. They seem to get more jumpy and become fixated on certain objects, not necessarily more happy to interact with humans.

It looks like most wild cats are affected by catnip in the same way as Mittens or Mr. Purr Puff. Maybe not all wild cats.

Here Chris Poole answers your question. With an actual leopard, in fact.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:01 PM
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Enviable chartreuse.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:01 PM
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I'm just going to assume that "Mittens" and "Mr. Purr Puff" are the names of Ned's own cats.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:02 PM
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109: How do you imagine this could be rigorously determined? Great video though.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:03 PM
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4 to 110.3.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:03 PM
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I do like the idea that a large, dangerous animal would get more predictable and friendler if it was super high.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:04 PM
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Oh, it occurs to me - if sneezing is important to cold transmission, maybe the comparatively weak sneezes of cats are what make them inhospitable to such viruses.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:06 PM
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I liked the video even better as part of comment 4.

On the safety question, I think the only way to find out is experiment. A simple wirecutters and a bushel of catnip should be all you need to find out if catnip-lulled leopards would enjoy having their ears scratched.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:07 PM
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They would probably resist anyone who tried to pull them away from their catnip-covered object of choice.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:09 PM
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You have to admit those cats in the video are super adorable when they loll around.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:09 PM
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We can call the leopard "Munchy".


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:09 PM
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115: What if we gave them MDMA?
And why don't humans have drugs that are effective just by smell.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:09 PM
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||

How long does it take professional educators before they can see the word "Curricula" and not be reminded of "Bunnicula"?

|>


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:12 PM
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And why don't humans have drugs that are effective just by smell.

I understand that a snootful of cocaine is pretty effective.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:14 PM
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117-119: Sterling Mallory Archer, the world's most dangerous secret agent, speaks for me on this, as so many matters.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:21 PM
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Is it weird of me to feel deeply uncomfortable with how posh a place I'm staying at? Like now I want to put myself up against the wall when the revolution comes, or something.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:37 PM
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125

Is it weird of me to feel deeply uncomfortable with how posh a place I'm staying at? ...

If you are paying for it and can't really afford it no, otherwise probably yes.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:47 PM
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125: That's just McManus/Emerson/Stockholm Syndrome. It will fade, don't worry about it. Do remember to tip the cleaning people, some of them might be on the panel deciding on executions.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:49 PM
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Datura perfume is a euphoriant.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:52 PM
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||
Visuals various:
1) Font matters.
2) I suspect the haters will outnumber the lovers of these (the first with Harry Dean Stanton is pretty cool).
3) US Interstates done in the style of the London Underground map.
4) "Morphing" version of the Underground map (to the original and/or the "real" gegraphy.)
5) Just discovered that the Strange Maps guy has been doing a feature called "Borderlines" in the NYTimes since about October of last year.
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:54 PM
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126 If you are paying for it and can't really afford it no, otherwise probably yes.

What if it's your tax dollars paying for it?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:55 PM
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123: let alone amyl nitrate.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:58 PM
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Has any of the Unfoggedetariat actually smoked catnip? Mentioned in several of the articles I looked at as having noticeable effects--I'd always assumed that was BS.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:58 PM
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129.~2: Excellent, thanks so much.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 3:59 PM
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123, 131: With catnip, no chemicals need enter the cat's bloodstream.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:01 PM
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Los Angeles is apparently flooded with fake catnip. I keep trying the bags that come with toys and scratching pads but the cats ignore it completely.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:05 PM
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Some cats have no response.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:07 PM
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not">http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=experts-how-does-catnip-work-on-cats">not all cats are sensitive.

Eggplant is right; catnip doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier. Why didn't this turn up in _Snow Crash_?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:09 PM
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132: I've got some really strong (the cat flips out) organic catnip from Maine upstairs, should I smoke some and report back?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:12 PM
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130

What if it's your tax dollars paying for it?

I would take that as evidence that the program in question gets too much money and should have their budget cut.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:13 PM
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When Shearer's President all scientific conferences will be held at the bottom of wells.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:14 PM
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134, 137: wild. It's basically olfactory Spanish Fly for cats!


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:14 PM
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Also, I had never heard of Schizonepeta tenuifolia until recently I saw it mentioned in The Cat Returns and researched it. Did we talk about it here recently too?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:16 PM
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Like shiny feathers on male birds, there's an aspect of interviewing where they're trying to prove to you that the school has money and resources, and one way of credibly showing that is to spend money on you. The best part of this is that if you interview at a private school they really want to buy you expensive alcohol, just to show that they can and state schools can't.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:19 PM
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137: It's a kitty Langford Basilisk.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:23 PM
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143: I'm at a conference, not an interview. And I'm kind of with Shearer on this one; conferences in nice places are all well and good, but this is kind of absurdly extravagant and I'm sure I could have put the same grant dollars to better use....


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:26 PM
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It's for the good of the universe, essear.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:33 PM
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I had a nice cocktail at a state school a few weeks ago. The private schools have all ordered wine at dinner, usually without asking me what I preferred.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:33 PM
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You know, the faculty wining and dining you are also probably reasonably happy to be able to expense a dinner with booze.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:35 PM
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Yes. In retrospect, one aspect of an interview last year that probably didn't go so well was the one that took me to a place with a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings, by the end of which I was quite a bit drunker than one wants to be on an interview. But I guess it was their only chance to get such a meal for free.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:40 PM
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And then they didn't hire anyone and they're interviewing five new people this year. I guess the nice meals give them an incentive to never actually fill the position.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:41 PM
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I guess the nice meals give them an incentive to never actually fill the position.

Just when you think the perversity of the incentive structure in academia couldn't get any weirder...


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:42 PM
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141: Interesting, Mine were spayed early as kittens and perhaps that's why they never developed the pheromone response.They don't react at all to a spray that's supposedly concentrated catnip oils either.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:58 PM
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I object to using "expense" as a verb and to perverse incentive structures.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 4:59 PM
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152: From my experience with numerous cats over time, spaying/neutering early has nothing to do with it: I can't tell you why, but some cats don't respond to catnip, some actively drool, with glazed eyes, and become obsessed with the catnip object (these are potential junkies), some get manic and playful, etc. It's so easy to suppose it's a reflection of a feline's personality, but that would be unscientific.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 5:18 PM
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I object to using "expense" as a verb

I felt like repeating that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 5:22 PM
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Is it weird of me to feel deeply uncomfortable with how posh a place I'm staying at?

A bit of good fortune oughtn't to make one uncomfortable. Asceticism has its time and place, typed the New Englander who wears shorts when it's snowing, but not every time or everywhere.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 5:23 PM
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I object to using "object" as an object.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 5:55 PM
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Well, I guess we could just grammar the thread.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 5:58 PM
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Better than subjecting your subjects to subjects.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 5:59 PM
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Anyway, I'm reading about Barry Goldwater.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:04 PM
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Someone said on one of the Sunday talk shows today that some polls have shown, this early on, that 20% of registered Republicans expect to either stay home in November, or just vote for Obama. This was reported as a consternating thing. I have not before heard of these polls, and cannot vouch for them. I figure 20% of registered Republicans have never voted anyway (it's not like we have 100% turnout ever).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:09 PM
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Careful Parsi. That's an awfully "bob" sort of comment.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:17 PM
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Huh? I can explain what I mean by it, but I'd like to know what you mean. About Bob.

What I mean is that Santorum could wind up being a Goldwater candidate.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:21 PM
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160: Very interesting guy. No college degree, born in Arizona before it was a state, half-Jewish*, half-WASP by birth.

*Never an issue in the'64 campaign as far as I know--he was raised an Episcopalian.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:30 PM
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I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.'


Posted by: Opinionated Barry Goldwater | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:31 PM
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Santorum could wind up being a Goldwater candidate

From your lips to God's ears. But I think he's more likely to be a Reagan-like candidate. As in, Reagan '76.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:31 PM
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Santorum could wind up being a Goldwater candidate

From your lips to God's ears. But I think he's more likely to be a Reagan-like candidate. As in, Reagan '76.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:31 PM
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I fully support conferences in interesting locations, even if it's more expensive than somewhere boring. But there's no reason to spend money on staying somewhere posh rather than just somewhere acceptable in a given location.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:33 PM
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My cat doesn't respond to catnip at all either. Everyone tells me it's not at all uncommon.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:36 PM
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It appears that 20-30% do not.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:43 PM
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Conference I was at last week was quite excessive, but most of that was sponsored by private companies so no grant dollars were spent on the open bar, Beatles cover band, or dinner at Morton's.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:46 PM
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164: I'm pretty sure that's right. But when I've made the point to political historians of my acquaintance, they've not been very impressed. Come to think of it, maybe I was talking to Halford and didn't know it.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:49 PM
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166/167: Thanks. I honestly haven't looked at Republican primaries historically before. I'll mention again that the increasing influence of libertarian sentiments in the country is more striking to me than anything else.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 6:52 PM
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GI viruses are happy inside many different hosts.

104. last: Yes, toxo affects human behavior, effects discernable when comparing groups. Not a virus.

No idea about colds.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 8:50 PM
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Hotel economics are so weird that I wouldn't make assumptions about the costs based on the poshness of your room. The conference might have gotten a good deal on lower-end rooms and then you got luckily bumped into a nicer room, for random availability reasons, or something.
(And as discussed before, they're probably making the real money on the midmorning muffin platter that's part of the conference-hosting package deal).
I do kind of like the way the IETF tries to keep 'tourists' away from their meetings by hosting them in inhospitable locations at inconvenient times., though.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:12 PM
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Oh, I know what it costs, since I have to pay for such things out of pocket and then get reimbursed. It's definitely on the expensive side of what I ever pay for hotel rooms, but well below the $800/night rate posted on the door.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:40 PM
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If you eat the mint on your pillow, you agree to pay the rate on the door.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:45 PM
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No mint. And no turn-down service here. Unlike the place where I was startled a few weeks ago to come back from dinner and find my door ajar and someone hovering over my laptop. Putting chocolates next to it, apparently.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 9:50 PM
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175: in inhospitable locations at inconvenient times

Paris in March? Vancouver in August? Doesn't sound that bad to me.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-12-12 10:10 PM
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175 is definitely right.

The last big international martial arts thing I was at, the competitors and coaches were all charged a rate for 3 days full-board that was less than I've paid for a single night in a mid-level UK hotel. And this was in a 4-star businessy place -- Sheraton, Hilton, that sort of thing. Nothing super luxury, but big rooms, decent facilities, etc. But I'd have expected to pay 4 or 5 times what we actually paid.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 2:54 AM
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born in Arizona before it was a state, half-Jewish

Doesn't that disqualify him? Nobody raised it at the time.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 5:54 AM
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The not being a state, I mean. Half Jewish would be OK. Lieberman probably won a majority of votes for VP.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 5:56 AM
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Statist.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 5:59 AM
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Well everybody was making a big deal out of how Hawaii was a state before BHO was born.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 6:04 AM
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Well, sure, he's not half Jewish.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 6:08 AM
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181: I forget what the specifics of eligibility were. I learned about Goldwater in conjunction with some discussion of McCain's having been born in the Canal Zone and the issues that raised. Probably this article in the Times.

But Goldwater did not win, and the view at the time was that since he was born in a continental territory that later became a state, he probably met the standard.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 6:27 AM
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Also, presumably at last one Goldwater's parents was an American citizen (as was Obama's mother) making the whole question of where they were born moot.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 6:34 AM
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||
Follow-up to neb's Yelle video post.

Here's Nathan Barnatt giving a talk at a Phoenix TED event on his Yelle videos. (Not the venue I would expect to find him at.)
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 7:26 AM
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104:

There are claims in the article that were new to me. Yes, we knew that T. Gondii causes behaviour changes in rats and we have homologous structures that the parasite might well affect and there were some statistical studies. But that amounted to correlation and handwaving. Plausible handwaving, but handwaving. New in the article was a mechanism and experimental evidence for the mechanism. Which is a lot better than vague appeals to homology.

The alleged link to schizophrenia is new (at least to me). I'm not sure I believe the historical statistics that are alleged in support of the correlation, but it's an additional plausible hypothesis, which needs to be more thoroughly checked out.


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 7:32 AM
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The alleged link to schizophrenia is new (at least to me)

It was discussed in the FA at some length a couple of years ago.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 7:35 AM
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Almost exactly a year ago, as it turns out.


Posted by: Beefo Meaty | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 7:37 AM
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We'll revisit next February. Somebody should have it solved by then.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 7:45 AM
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Imagine a blog talking about toxoplasmosis once a year ... forever.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-12 7:48 AM
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my GP has suggested I be tested for toxoplasmosis in case it has been causing my prolonged migraine attack. I am seeing narnia's only pain specialist tomorrow, due to having good connections--I only called him on monday. he's apparently deluged with calls even from fellow MDs whose parents are suffering agonies before death by bone cancer or whatever. because the narnian government is terrified that someone might get high, ever. except my GP who has, as mentioned, come across with the morphine sulfate, even though he knows the DEA-equivalent is likely to be paying him a visit this year. dr. so/h is a prince among men. but it doesn't even work as well as it ought! I should have appreciated heroin more when we still had a good relationship. they gave me synthetic heroin in the hospital, but intramuscular injections only (quite painful, actually.) I was a little...I got veins, here, you know? phlebotomists often compliment me on them. really. wev. guess I will turn out the light and pray for death sleep.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 02-14-12 6:40 AM
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