Thursday, August 22, 2002

Look, Arthur, ICE CREAM!!!

That's what Auntie Minty will buy for you if you hang out with her instead of scary weirdo people....

(God, I never thought I'd get to point in my life when I was anti-weirdo...)

From our friends at CNN:

Wildlife park to add mammoth attraction

(CNN) --In an eerie recreation of Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie "Jurassic Park", scientists are planning to clone an extinct animal to be the central attraction of a wildlife park.

The Times of London reports that Japanese scientists are planning to use tissue from the legs and testicles of a dead mammoth to clone the extinct creature and display it at an Ice Age wildlife park in Siberia.

Mammoths became extinct about 10,000 years ago, but using a technique that involves impregnating an Indian elephant -- its closest genetic relative -- with mammoth sperm and then repeating the procedure with its offspring could produce a creature that is 88 percent mammoth in 50 years, the report said.

An alternative technique would involve cloning the mammoth from DNA found in the soft tissue, but although methods of extraction have improved, complete strands of DNA from mammoths are still hard to come by.

This specimen, believed to have been buried in an avalanche 25,000 to 30,000 years ago, was found in 1994, but it wasn't until this month when an expedition was sent to the site following Japanese interest from universities in Kinki and Tifu.

Ten million buried in permafrost
Those behind the planned park are already populating the site in north-east Siberia with other species from the Ice Age in hopeful anticipation of the mammoth's arrival.

There are currently hundreds of wild horses and musk ox grazing the land by the River Kolyma, and talks to import bison from Canada are already underway.

Mammoths, large herbivorous mammals that resemble modern elephants, first appeared on Earth four million years ago.

Scientists are unsure whether global climate change or hunting by early humans -- or a combination of both -- drove the mammoth to extinction.

There are believed to be ten million mammoths buried in the permafrost in Siberia, but because of the sparse population in the region only around one hundred specimens have been recovered.

However, despite the fact that most mammoths recovered from Siberia are seen as some of the finest museum examples in the world, poor excavation and preservation methods have ruined the chances for any reproduction of the animals by destroying tissue samples.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

The Nobility of Blattidae.

I never really think of myself as a queasy person. I have health problems from time to time, and hanging out in the circles I hang out in, I have no shortage of manic and hygenically challenged friends. But there's something I've found last night that really gets to me.


I dropped in on my friend Arthur to see how he was doing, and to finally get a look at his butterfly collection. He's been getting a little weird lately. I don't know, maybe he's always like this -- I haven't really known him that long, really.

So it's all cool, he's got a little place, bit of a funky smell, but that's the city for you. Clutter is average. Fridge is bachelor empty (what is it with guys and condiment bottles? the sauce is only good if you put it on FOOD, turkeynecks). A bit grimy in the corners. A few bags of something moldy in the drawers at the bottom.

We go into Arthur's room, which is a lot more nest-like than the rest of the place, clothes in heaps everywhere, with papers and stuff in loose piles - a little intimidating, but I'm sure he'd feel the same in my space. He pulls these long boxes out from under his bed - there are brown spots on some of the lids, but nothing too major - and inside are his specimens.

Some of them are really great. I mean really gorgeous insects, wings like rainbows. All very neatly labelled, very anal (unlike the rest of the apartment). Then a couple I notice seem a bit ragged - old, maybe crumbled around the edges in a familiar pattern. (You might see where this is going.) I pointed it out to him and he says, "Yeah, I noticed that a couple weeks ago. I took some measures and made myself some new specimens."

And he brings out this other box, which is *covered* in writing, scribbled, so I can't read it, and he lifts the lid.

And it's all cockroaches. Displayed. On Pins. With their wings spread out like they're flying. Brown - I remember seeing lots of shades of brown - and I remember noticing the funky smell got stronger when he lifted the lid. And I remember looking up and jumping back because I could see Arthur's face with a weird smile, and behind him there was the curtain over the window, and around the edges of the curtain I could see something moving. There were legs and feelers sticking out, and then a lot of bodies moving really quickly. At first I was sure I was making it up, imagining things, but then the curtain blew and the whole window was covered with them. They were all alive, moving, hopping over each other, there was that smell, and some of them, I swear, were like six inches long (OK, maybe four, but still - twice the size of the biggest roach I've ever seen). It only lasted a second, then the curtain blew back or whatever, but I had to get up. I think I screamed, then apologized. I went to the kitchen, splashed some water in my face, and I could swear I saw something moving in the bottom of the drain. That was it. I just ran out.

So one of the coolest guys I've met lives very simply with a bunch of these guys for roomates.

I mean, the curtains were *moving*. I could *hear their legs pattering.*

Arthur, if you're reading this, sorry I left, sorry I got freaked out, but... really. Screaming like that is so unlike me. You have to have to have to do something about the bugs. It's not safe for you to sleep there, I don't think. You should call the health authorities on your landlord, before he calls them on you. Leave town, sleep on my couch, and buy a sixer of bug bombs. Just... do something. I say this because I care.