Friday, May 04, 2007

Who Wants to Read about Duck Genitalia?

Most of you who are avid readers of the New York Times have probably already seen this article prominently featured in the Science section (and carried on several of the "most read/blogged" lists), but for those of you who haven't, I strongly encourage you to check it out now.

I have to admit that I was as surprised as the next casual observer when I first saw this article featured in the Times (particularly after seeing how popular it had become) but, after reading through it, realized where its appeal lay. Obviously, the biggest hook for most readers will come in the title, which features the phrases "war of the sexes" and "evolution of genitalia," two surefire ways of drawing the attention of even the most jaded/demanding news consumer.

But, to be fair, when it comes down to it it's actually a very interesting article, especially for those of us who studied evolution and ecology during our undergraduate years. The basic premise is that male ducks have had to adapt to the growing evolutionary forces driving sexual reproduction by developing ever larger phalluses (i.e. penises) to ensure that their sperm fertilizes the females' eggs. In response, females have had to develop ever more elaborate oviducts (think twisting passageways, random nooks/crannies, etc) to ensure that only the "best" males get to fertilize their precious cargo. This is really a brief synopsis of the piece so I heartily recommend you examine it in its entirety to get the whole picture.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Putting Things into Context

I'm sure you've all heard that tired cliche that goes something like this (my apologies in advance for butchering it): "I feel like just a speck of dust in the universe." Well, I've just stumbled upon a cool picture in a fascinating Discover blog posting that lends credence to this thought, at least in terms of the wider blogosphere (i.e. all the blogs in existence).

The post cites studies that suggest that approximately 60 million blogs are now online and that about 175,000 more are created every day (or, in other words, 2 every second). Now keep in mind that most of these new blogs are, in the words of the blogger, "either abandoned or isolated," so the sheer number doesn't necessarily signify much (yours truly is a case in point). The blogger then ventures into some of the more popular blogs (both by number of links and page views), including Daily Kos and Boing Boing (two of my absolute favorites, one for the politics, the other for the eclectic mix of postings), and provides a nice concise explanation of how some blogs hit the big time while others fade into obscurity.

I believe my blog falls into the latter category.

The blogosphere is the most explosive social network you’ll never see. Recent studies suggest that nearly 60 million blogs exist online, and about 175,000 more crop up daily (that’s about 2 every second). Even though the vast majority of blogs are either abandoned or isolated, many bloggers like to link to other Web sites. These links allow analysts to track trends in blogs and identify the most popular topics of data exchange. Social media expert Matthew Hurst recently collected link data for six weeks and produced this plot of the most active and interconnected parts of the blogosphere.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Eclectic Music Selection

Wow, two posts within the same hour? I apparently have WAY too much time on my hands.

It's been a little while since my last MP3 batch upload so I thought I'd indulge you this week with some choice cuts from my past few weeks' playlist. There's a little bit of everything here so this should (hopefully) appease even the more demanding musical palates out there:

- Battles: Atlas (excellent New York-based electronic/techno indie rock)
- Patrick Wolf: Overture (amazing violin-laced indie/electronic rock, peep the cover art above; scandalous, no?)
- The Apples in Stereo: Energy (just makes you want to grin from ear to ear, it's that infectious)

Time Flies...

It's funny how every time I write a post I tell myself that I'll be up and writing the next one within the next day or, at most, next two days. It's funny because it never actually happens (as I'm sure you've all already noticed). So yes, another week almost done and gone (thankfully) and another midterm under the belt means I can finally return to more "entertaining" activities (at least in my book), such as blogging (duh), reading and catching up on all those delightful Daily Show and Colbert Report episodes I've been missing out on.

Of course this is only a minor reprieve as I'll once again be plunging into midterms galore next week with two test cases (basically pre-clinical lab exams), one midterm and a Powerpoint project. Joy.

On a different note, I'm happy to say that last Friday was a blast and that I really enjoyed listening to and meeting with Assemblyman Mark Leno and interacting with the pharmacy students for their first ever "leg" (short for legislation) day. It didn't hurt that I got a fancy dinner that night free of charge at the Alumni House (a sweet pad, if I do say so myself) and enjoyed a lively discussion with some faculty members and other students. For a recap of Leno's speech, feel free to read my article on it, which will be out in tomorrow's edition of Synapse (another shameless plug, I know).

Friday, April 20, 2007

And Life Goes On...

Has it really already been five days since the last time I posted? Notwithstanding the amount of work I have (and keep on being given), it's always amazing to me how much dental school just seems to sap all my free energy/time (however little remains after classes, that is). As much as I'd like to post more regularly, I am constantly confronted by the realities of "life" as a dental student (particularly its limits) and am thus forced to relinquish all pretentions to having enough leisure time to update the blog on a regular basis.

Having said that, however, I am NOW posting so I thought I'd clue you in on the latest developments in my so-called life. The first item that's been occupying most of my time: I have another midterm coming up this Monday on metabolism/biochemistry (in other words, LOADS of fun).

That's the ugly part.

On a brighter note, today I will have the pleasure of meeting Assemblyman Mark Leno who is running for the State Senate this year (SD-03 to be more specific) and is a great supporter of SB840, a bill that would help institute a universal healthcare system in California. I'm looking forward to picking his brain about this and other critical issues facing the state and can genuinely say, as a devoted politico/current events nerd, that he is one of the "good" politicians.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

In the Lab

So I'm sure some of you have been burning to see WHAT exactly it is I do when I venture into the preclinical lab (or, as I like to call it, the dungeon). While most of my experiences there are too disturbing to share (OK, I'm exaggerating), I thought I'd share two pictures of the before and after process of cutting a "prep" (short for preparation) before placing a composite filling.

Here's the before (you're looking at tooth #7, i.e. the right lateral incisor):

(NOTE: the green tissue-looking thing is a "rubber dam," used to prevent water from getting into the patient's mouth, NOTE #2: and no, I'm not doing this in an ACTUAL patient's mouth)

And here's the after (after having cut two preparations):


Too Good to Pass Up

I promised myself that I would try to keep my politics out of this blog (my columns serve that function effectively enough), but I couldn't bear to not share this hilarious picture with you:

Nothing better than an unintended juxtaposition to create some hilarity...