Open thread

Grand Rounds 3.18 is available now.  The presentation this time ’round is clean, easy to follow, and written as a scientific paper.  Cool.  The medical posts included cover a great deal of territory, so don’t miss it.

Remember the two virgin Komodo dragons who wound up pregnant?  Well, one of them has given birth to five babies.  “A British zoo announced Wednesday the virgin birth of five Komodo dragons, giving scientists new hope for the captive breeding of the endangered species. In an evolutionary twist, the newborns’ eight-year-old mother Flora shocked staff at Chester Zoo in northern England when she became pregnant without ever having a male partner or even being exposed to the opposite sex.”

Japan marine park captures rare shark on film: “A species of shark rarely seen alive because its natural habitat is 2,000 feet or more under the sea was captured on film by staff at a Japanese marine park this week. The Awashima Marine Park in Shizuoka, south of Tokyo, was alerted by a fisherman at a nearby port on Sunday that he had spotted an odd-looking eel-like creature with a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth. Marine park staff caught the 5-foot long creature, which they identified as a female frilled shark, sometimes referred to as a ‘living fossil’ because it is a primitive species that has changed little since prehistoric times.”  Unfortunately, the shark was quite ill when it moved into shallow waters, and it died a few hours after park officials captured it and moved it to a seawater tank for observation and care.

Ed Brayton sums up nicely the reasons I did not watch the SOTU last night—and why I never watch them.  To quote him via blatant, wholesale “borrowing”:

Tonight is the state of the union address, one of the dumbest and most ridiculous rituals of modern political discourse. It doesn’t matter who is in the White House, this event is so mind-bogglingly inane that I can’t imagine why anyone would willingly subject themselves to it. The President will deliver a 20 minute speech full of idiotic platitudes that will take an hour to deliver because the audience of legislators will interrupt him 1457 times to mindlessly applaud some absurd proposal that neither he nor they has the slightest intention of actually making a reality. By the end of the speech, the president will have promised to put a chicken in every pot as well as to heal the sick, comfort the downtrodden, free the oppressed, win the war, bring peace to the world, paint the house and do the laundry. No one in the audience actually believes any of that, of course, which makes the spectacle afterward, wherein a couple dozen talking heads gather together on the cable news shows to parse every frame of the speech like the Zapruder film, all the more ridiculous. The whole event couldn’t be any more pointless if the president stood at the podium and read from My Pet Goat like he does to schoolchildren; that is precisely the level of discourse in the speech anyway and deserves to be taken about as seriously.

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