Links, Apologia…

If I can ever finish the saga of my completed but yet…unfulfilled?.. book, it will be a good one, or at least a lesson in the vagaries of contemporary publishing that would fulfill every cynical belief of Michael Blowhard. It has been that kind of month.

Meanwhile, links and various photos.

Science and nature: Paleoblog has a new model for the evolution of flight in birds, with pictures. HT Walter Hingley.

Julie Zickefoose sends this Flikr photo set of coyotes in Mt.Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass., where we both have birded. This is a park in the heart of a city; I might guess they came down the Charles river corridor?

Annie D sends this amazing link to a U- Tube video of scientists sing a song about the PCR test! She also has the lyrics, below– but you really need to see and hear it:

“There was a time when to amplify DNA,
You had to grow tons and tons of tiny cells.
Then along came a guy named Dr. Kary Mullis,
Said you can amplify in vitro just as well.

“Just mix your template with a buffer and some primers,
Nucleotides and polymerases, too.
Denaturing, annealing, and extending.
Well it’s amazing what heating and cooling and heating will do.

“PCR, when you need to detect mutations.
PCR, when you need to recombine.
PCR, when you need to find out who the daddy is.
PCR, when you need to solve a crime.”
(repeat chorus)

Cave bears were not the gentle vegetarians they were thought to be. The old Russian idea that they occupied a similar niche to Neanderthals looks more likely…

Culture, lack thereof, Doom, general weirdness… the first is all of the above: Hello Kitty bondage rooms in a Japanese hotel. HT Bruce Douglas– uuhh, thanks, I guess.

Doom: amateur drama groups must lock up fake weapons, including “guns” that produce flags that say “BANG!” Money quote: “Even the climactic fight has not escaped. A university academic joined a rehearsal to ensure that it was safe.” HT Patrick.

The inventor of the Hula Hoop was a falconer, and got his idea for his first invention playing with his hawks. HT Derb.

Plagiarism: a romance novelist inserts passages about the habits of the black- footed ferret (including the theory that their ancestors came over the Bering land bridge!) into a scene of passion between a white woman and her Indian lover in the 1870’s. She takes it wholesale from a journalist’s essay. I don’t know what’s funnier– the sheer wretched awfulness of her prose or the fact the she didn’t realize stealing material was wrong. “According to an interview she did with the Associated Press, she did not know she was supposed to quote source materials.”

I believe it. This poor creature is dumber than a plant. HT the always productive Annie D and Marilyn Taylor. Great minds…

Finally: THE most redneck song ever, with lyrics. BRILLIANT, hilarious, more vivid than most of his father’s novels, and certainly more concise. He even get the guns right! (A few lines decidedly NSFW.)


  1. Saw McMurtry last year over in Santa Fe. “Choctaw Bingo” was the big penultimate rocker of the set and filled the dance floor. That was the first time I’d heard it and I just about died laughing when he sang about the Berdan primers and the bad-ass Hebrews. McMurtry’s first album, “Too Long in the Wasteland” is really good, too.

  2. I recognized the McMurty immediately but couldn’t place it, until….. realized it was on the soundtrack of a hawking video some friends of mine shot and made a nice production of.

    Imagine Choctaw Bingo playing over scenes of 10 Harris hawks chasing jackrabbits around a train yard and you know what its like. Cooooool.

  3. “caught from that big mcdonalds
    you know that one thats built up on that
    big old bridge across the will rogers turnpike”

    We stopped there on one of our cross-country moves when I was but a lad. Not a McDonald’s back then, IIRC – but – a restaurant on a bridge! Over a highway! To make it even more exclamation point worthy, Art Arfons stopped at the same time we did. I didn’t see him, but the big trailer w/ “Green Monster” painted all over it (I could only imagine the amazingness inside)? Doesn’t get any better when you’re 8 yrs old.

  4. Matt, not the same video but the same hawking crew. They film their annual jackrabbit trip every year and compile a “highlights film” for posterity, usually with a good bootleg sountrack.

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