Tuesday, July 26, 2005
It looks like Garfield, the cartoon cat, will have to stick to lasagna from now on. In case he, or you, missed it, here is the synopsis of the article in the debut issue of the Public Library of Science online journal.
Although sweet sugars are ubiquitous in human foods, they are seldom added to cat food, and owners usually do not feed sweets to their cats.
This is because, in contrast to most other mammals, both domestic cats and their wild cousins, the big cats, do not show a preference for and, most likely, cannot detect sweet-tasting compounds. Other than this sweet blindness, the cats sense of taste is normal.
The molecular mechanism for this unique behavior towards sweets was not known, until now. Sweet compounds, including sugars and artificial sweeteners, are recognized by a special taste bud receptor composed of the products of two genes. The authors found that in cats, one of these genes is not functional and is not expressed. (It is called a pseudogene.)
Because the sweet receptor cannot be formed, the cat cannot taste sweet stimuli. During the evolution of the cats strictly carnivorous behavior, selection to maintain a functional receptor was apparently relaxed. This research provides a molecular explanation for the common observation that the cat lives in a different sensory world than the cat owner.
[Pseudogenization of a Sweet-Receptor Gene Accounts for Cats' Indifference toward Sugar, Public Library of Science, Vol. 1, No. 1, July, 2005, citing Li X, Li W, Wang H, Cao J, Maehashi K, et al. (2005) Pseudogenization of a Sweet-Receptor Gene Accounts for Cats' Indifference toward Sugar. PLoS Genet 1(1): e3]
Monday, July 25, 2005
Texan Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France for the seventh year in a row, and secured his sports superhero status. July 24, 2005 began the post-Armstrong era of bicycle racing, and the long wait for his record to be bested, if ever. To signify Armstrongs accomplishment, the millions who own one of his yellow Livestrong wristbands could twist it into a helix, the symbol for infinity.
It has been noted that were it not for Lance Armstrong, Jan Ulrich, Germanys cycling phenom, would now have five consecutive Tour de France victories. Armstrong gave Ulrich a tip for winning the top spot. No, he didnt suggest performance enhancing drugs. Noting that Ulrich gets better in the latter stages, Armstrong suggested that he show up in better shape at the beginning of the race. Duh.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Actor James Doohan died of pneumonia and Alzheimers disease on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 the 36th anniversary of the first landing on the Moon. He played Montgomery (Scotty) Scott, Chief Engineer of the USS Enterpirse in the original Star Trek TV series, and when the show was resurrected as a movie series. It is his character that was immortalized in the household phrase, Beam me up, Scotty.
Doohan, 85, was preceded in death by the shows creator, Texan Gene Roddenberry in 1998, and actor DeForest Kelly in 2000. Kelly played Dr. Leonard (Bones) McCoy, Chief Medical Officer.
If you have ever been a Trecker, you have some inkling, at least, of the enormous cultural, literary, economic, and philosophical impact of Gene Roddenberrys space adventure stories. For as long as we place relevance in Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon, there will be a place of literary honor for Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek, its characters, and the many theatrical professionals, like Doohan, who gave it a long and prosperous life. If any of this strikes you as trivial, perhaps it is time you got up to warp speed.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Saturday, July 16, 2005
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, the most influencial presidential confidant since Texas kingmaker Edward Mandel House, began his career as an admirer of Richard Nixon. His career may end in a similar fashion to Nixons. Rove is at the center of questions and serious criminal investigations regarding the disclosure of a CIA operatives name. Democrats, of course, have been all over this, salivating at the the impending fall of George Bushs Brain. Rove deserves to be in jail for many reasons. This is not one of them. There is a larger trap being set here for liberals, progressives and people of good will. How? Why?
The law Rove is being accused of violating came into existence as a result of the exposure of criminal CIA agents in Philip Agees book of revelations about his own nefarious role in the CIAs evil history. Having discovered his conscience, Agee did a good thing. The Nazi, neo-con, nutty, right-wing, police staters went ballistic. Those renegade, CIA criminal cowboys wanted and got this law making it a federal crime to knowingly reveal the identity of an undercover CIA operative. In their glee over Karl Rove having been caught violating a law he helped father, Democrats are falling into a trap of being hypocrits should they ever come to their senses again and oppose this fascist law.
On the heels of the announced resignation of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day OConnor, and amid rampant rumors that Supreme Chief Justice William Rehnquists resignation from the high court was imminent, Rehnquist actually did issue a statement on Bastille Day, 2005.
What he said, despite his apparently agressive thyroid cancer, was that he was not going anywhere. Rehnquists press release reminded us of the famous line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Im not dead yet! It also reiminded us of the old schtick for removing someone from the stage - the hook.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Monday, July 11, 2005
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
London was chosen as the site for the 2012 Olympics. New York claims not to be able to figure out why they lost the bid. The world was behind them after September 11, 2001. NYC wanted to use the Olympics to show that the terrorists didnt win. But the world has become wary of the U.S.'s foreign policy goals since then. Why? The U.S. is widely viewed around the globe as slouching toward fascism. If you are one of many sheltered U.S. citizens who is unaware of this, do your homework. The world apparently does not wish a repeat of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Not that London would be that much better especially if Tony Quisling Blair is still around.