All entries for October 2005

October 31, 2005

Did you know…

The typical metrosexual is a young man with money to spend, living in or within easy reach of a metropolis – because that's where all the best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are. He might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference.
However the "Metro" in Metropolis comes the Greek word Meter, meaning mother. Hence, as a matter of semantics, "Metrosexual" actually means motherfucker.

It's amazing the information that a little research can trawl up.

M xxx

Awareness week

This is person X
Tick off all the conclusions that you would happily agree with

[ ] their favourite colour is orange
[ ] their favourite tv show is Lost
[ ] they dislike red wine
[ ] they have a serious nut allergy
[ ] they blood type is B rh-
[ ] they are a natural brunette
[ ] they're a fan of horror films
[ ] they had a pizza last friday
[ ] they have artistic flair
[ ] they dislike the sound made by filing nails
[ ] they have mild myopia
[ ] they've read Tolkien's LOTR trilogy
[ ] they know the offside rule
[ ] they are attracted to men

How many did you tick? Any at all? Would you stand by them on pain of death?


During the Pride Awareness Week last week, I was fortunate enough to be one of the few people who attended the discussion given by Kath Lambert on the topic of "Sexism and Homophobia". My summary, as best as I can remember it…

The main focus was on the 'missing link' between to two prejudices. Or in other words how an anti-female and anti-homosexual bias arises from an underlying pro-heterosexual prejudice. Heterosexuality is seen as the normal state of being, everything else is seen as deviant and, crucially, as wrong. When the truth is that it's just different, and no more pertainant to how an individual should be treated than their skin colour or eye colour.

In all truth heterosexuality is one of society's biggest memes. Think about it. I wouldn't go so far as to describe it as a cultural virus, but simply through repetition it becomes the accepted norm rather than something that should be questioned and interpreted on ones own personal grounds just as with so many other things. For something that plays such a huge role in your life it's surprising how sexuality is, on the whole, ignored by the masses.

The rights of the individual to express their own personal taste is played on by every branch of modern media and society. From perfumes to music videos, from the colour of the nappies you are potty-trained in the emphasis is on a heterosexual way of life. Why? Because that is what's seen as normal. Imagine the uproar if the girl in the "fruity yoplait" advert kissed another girl, yet kissing a boy is viewed a cute. Since when do small children feel attraction to anyone regardless of sex? The rules of attraction are already laid out for them before they even know what it is and woe betide those "perverse" individuals that don't adhere to society's self-fulfilling prophesy

When it comes to ethnic origin the 2001 UK National Census gave the options of White British/White Irish/Other White/Mixed/Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Other Asian/Black Caribbean/Black African/Other Black/Chinese/Other Ethnic Group. These are people living in England yet the freedom is there to express not "who you are because of your geographical location" but "who you feel you are and who you identify with".

I am white with blonde hair and blue eyes. I was born in Islington and raised in Hounslow and then near Staines. I've lived in the UK all my life, been through the British schooling system, Am currently attending a British University and yet would never tick the "White British" box. My mother is Spanish, as are the majority of my living relatives and that's a huge part of how I identify myself. I'm not willing to discard it just so I can fit into the box they provide.

But when it comes to the designated standards "male attracted to females" and "female attracted to males" there is this reluctance to even consider the possibility of an "Other" category even though sexuality is no more phenotypically apparant than your favourite breakfast cereal.

The assumption that heterosexuality is the norm and should therefore be priviledged and promoted in society.

But what does it mean? Sexism and homophobia are active prejudices. They essentially state that:

  • men must act in a manner appropriate to men and women in one appropriate to women; This sets up the bias of "men only" and "women only" behavioural patterns, careers, fashion, music, etcetera.
  • Men are attracted to women and women to men all other combinations are therefore inherantly wrong.

Heterosexism combines the two, yet is somewhat passive. Everyone is heterosexist at some point or another, It's not easy to spot and it's not something you tend to think about. Someone shared how they always ask their youger cousin(male) if they have a girlfriend, even though they themselves are gay. A friend of mine recently explained how things were getting tricky because his best mates girlfriend had fallen for him; I asumed the best mate was male – as it turns out she wasn't… this is also known more specifically as heterocentrism.

Maybe a better way to define woulf be on a scale rather than just the two extremes. Some would argue that the same should apply to gender. But Apart from TFS males and those with similar genetic/developmental issues I think that phenotypical gender is on the whole quite descrete; what does change is what gender we identify with the most, however this itself brings with it heterosexist beliefs as identifying with a gender requires you to first define that gender.

Think about it though? where would you define yourself if given the freedom to stray from the set boundaries and to tick outside the box. It's so ingrained I doubt many people even think of it past the "well I'm not gay" knee-jerk reaction. I am intrigued. If people could leave their "time" (eg 4:30) and gender as anonymous comments It would be interesting to see the results

"Heterosexuality is not normal, it's just common" – Derek Jamon

M xxx

I'm only a biochemist so there's probably a lot of basic stuff that I've missed out or got wrong, that would appear in sociology and psychology degrees. Enlighten the world via the comments section.


Results so far…

Updated 09 Nov 2005, 03:55pm

October 29, 2005


Oh goddamnit!!

All of my white items have come out of the wash grey! Nooooo!!!! I'm never going to hear the end of this once my mother finds out. Ever.

Still, I think I would have preferred the stereotypical pink…


Edit: Oooops.... i've just found someone elses white grey sock in with all my stuff.

I can't believe this, of all the things to go wrong it had to be bloody grey. I don't even know who the culprit is. There will be an inquisition...

Developmental Biology Tutorial No. 2 – The Making of a Vertebrate Limb.

"How is the vertebrate limb patterned?"

If you do not wish to read about vertebrate limb development it is advised you scroll straight down to the kittens strategically placed at the bottom of the page to help you overcome the trauma of momentarily being forced to think about work.

Presentation 1

General Introduction

Presentation 2

The formation of the limb bud and the identity of the fore and hind limbs

(For background interest this is one of the many papers on the role of Tbx5 in genetic disease. It causes Holt-Oram syndrome: A dominantly inherited malformation syndrome with short stature, upper limb anomaly, minor craniofacial anomalies, and absence of TBX5 mutations: Report of a Thai family )

Presentation 3

Induction of the apical ectodermal ridge and limb outgrowth

Allocation to the AER

AER induction

D/V patterning of the outgrowth

Presentation 4

AER function, the roles of FGF's in limb outgrowth

Presentation 5

Development of the antero- posterior axis


In the interest of actually making research that bit more interesting i have developed "ScopusWhacking". Woo and yay. Aim for the search to return only one research article when provided with just one surname and one other word. Usually works 1/3 of the time. At least it does in bio. God i'm bored…


As promised…

Caption anybody? No prizes well, no prizes that involve the consumption of vinegar shots

M xxx

If Only I Liked Yellow.

Everyone elses is more green...
Propagate this Meme!

October 27, 2005

Entirely. Work. Related.

Writing about web page

Ok, I lie.

But I was directed to it on the BioSoc Forums. Apparently this is what all the real biochemists are talking about. Honest.

And back to work…
dear god this computer room's cold

M xxx

October 26, 2005

Decision making …

Writing about web page

… Is always a difficult process.

What to do, what to do…

M xxx

(shamelessly stolen from PennyArcade

October 25, 2005

The honest–to–God truth… *ahem*

Unfortunately, and much to Jeff Gothra's disappointment WaterBadger and JamSquirrel never made it off the drawing board and it was Frederic Mozilla's creation that lept to browser fame.

Jeff's unofficially quote on the matter was:

Oh bugger…


Next week; How two students renamed their search engine from BackRub briefly to BottomFondle before finally settling on the equally ridiculous "Google".

M xxx

Ok, so you want a punchline?

Follow-up to Development Essay 1 Resources from Something Random

An Englishman, and Irishman and a half-Spanish blogger all have to hand their development essays by 2pm on tuesday the 25th of october 2005…

The Englishman has his finished and doublechecked by his tutor by the previous wednesday, strolls onto campus tuesday morning, hands it in and then goes for a big cholo breakfast with his mates.

The Irishman just about finishes it the night before, is forced to cycle onto campus in the rain but manages to hand it in 3 minutes and 27 seconds before the deadline.

The half-Spanish blogger screams at her computer than goes to bed, wakes up at 5am and smashes her alarmclock with the heel of a shoe then proceeds to swear at God, herself, her computer monitor and her empty teacup before resorting to half an hour of primal scream therapy. After waking all 5 of her housemates she breaks down into tears and manic depression and throws the keyboard against the wall permanently damaging the F5 key and a small section of desk. With the keyboard now temporarily out of action she resorts to throwing another shoe. The shoe bounces in a wholly unsatisfactory manner and elicits another scream. Housemate #5 makes a noise that indicates irritation, and blogger hits adjoining wall for good measure.

After a brief pause to catch her breath she fashions a voodoo doll out of socks and declares it to be "Täald"(1), the god of 293-word-essays which she then proceeds to stab. Flashlight interrogation and water torture however, also prove unsuccessful and the essay remains uncompleted. The decorative sheepskin rug on her floor is pulled aside and a rudimentary bonfire is prepared over the pre-existing iron shaped scorch mark with the remenants of wine soaked essay notes. Täald is staked to a biro and told to contemplate the mysteries of life in the few seconds left to him while the cojones curse(2) is recited. A little shoulder devil reminds the half-Spanish blogger that notes although made of wood are unlikely to be too flammable when soaked in wine. She goes through half a dozen matches then is forced to agree. Strapping Täald to her hip with a bandana, she grabs a sharpened bic biro and wades out into the dark hallway to hunt down her furtive essay. Meanwhile her shoulder devil props up the shoulder angel on a chair in some dark recess of her mind, there is a faint odour of chloroform in the air.

She has to be careful, the essay could take almost any form and it has had weeks of practice evading her. Ten minutes later and after much deliberation, she decides that it is not the pot plant, the doorknob or the sofa; nor is it the kettle or the small bag of sugar on the worktop; her analysis of a punnet of cherry tomatoes is inconclusive.

Suddenly there is a knock at the front door. She answers and is faced by a tall thin man. He has very watery eyes and a thin moustache that hovers above slightly skewed lips. She asks if he is her essay. He replies that doesn't recall ever being an essay. The shoulder devil prompts her to poke him. She does, and also throws a teabag at him for good measure lest he be an evil spirit. The strange man takes her to a strange room where they give her tea and mozart. The tea tastes a little funny. She thinks the pictures she draws make the man look a little worried – especially the black one; he doesn't like the black one. This tea is rather strange. All the voices are far away now, they are sinking deep into the soft walls. She falls asleep and thus starts her 20 year journey through mental institutions and the subsequent rehab for dependance on "crazy pills" and a lifelong struggle with mind altering drugs.


Yeah I don't really get the joke either. But I'm pretty sure I've heard it somewhere before…

Oh christwaggons this isn't good...

M xxx


1) It should be mentioned that Täald is also the patron saint of all that shit that creeps into your Ikea shopping trolley when you aren't paying attention only to be discovered as you recover from your Ikea-coma and load everything into the car "WTF?! a shoehorn shaped like a snake and a set of eight novelty placemats shaped like a fornicating octopus?! surely i didn't just pay for all this..."

2) A fearsome spanish curse that involves tying a gods cojones in a knot until a certain offending object is returned to you. In this case it also involves large amounts of warpaint


p.s. the F5 key doesn't control anything vital does it?

October 24, 2005

Development Essay 1 Resources

links to all the research papers

(you may need your athens account details to access them)

Talk 1

Talk 2
Setting up the initial asymmetries in the embryo.

  1. Early patterning of the C. elegans embryo.

  2. Axis determination in _C. elegans: initiating and transducing polarity.

  3. Heads or tails: Cell polarity and axis formation in the early _Caenorhabditis elegans embryo.

  4. Polarization of the C. elegans zygote proceeds via distinct establishment and maintainance phases. (for pictures of localisation)

Talk 3
Skn-1 and EMS development.

  1. Skn-1 a maternally expressed gene required to specify the fate of ventral blastomeres in the early _C. elegans embryos.

  2. Formation of a monomeric DNA binding domain by Skn-1 bZIP and homeodomain elements.

  3. The maternal gene skn-1 encodes a protein that is distributed unequally in early _C. elegans embryos.

Talk 4
Germline development pie-1 and mex-1 genes; transcriptional silencing.

  1. The pie-1 and mex-1 genes and maternal control of blastomere identity in early _C. elegans embryos.

  2. The PIE-1 protein and germline specification in C. elegans embryos.

  3. Repression of gene expression in the embryonic germ lineage of C. elegans.

  4. The C. elegans MEX-1 protein is present in germline blastomeres and is a P granule component. (only need abstract)

  5. Launching the germline in Caenorhabditis elegans: regulation of gene expression in early germ cells.

  6. PIE-1 is a bifunctional protein that regilates maternal and zygotic gene expression in the embryonic germ line of Caenorhabditis elegans.

  7. Germ plasm: protein degradation in the soma.

Talk 5
The C. elegans maternal Notch system.

  1. The maternal genes apx-1 and glp-1 and establishement of dorsal-ventral polarity in the early _C. elegans embryo.

  2. Translational control of maternal glp-1 mRNA establishes asymmetry in the _C. elegans embryo.

  3. Translational control of maternal glp-1 mRNA by POS-1 and its interacting protein SPN-4 in Caenorhabditis elegans.

  4. An inductive interaction in 4-cell stage embryos involves APX-1 expression in the signalling cell

  5. Time dependant responses to glp-1 mediated inductions in early C. elegans embryos.


It's taken me just over 2 (goddamn) hours to find these links.

They make me hurt all over.

I think my eyes may be bleeding
I may never smile again…

oooh a rabbit!!

M xxx

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