Friday, December 10, 2010

Of Mice & Men

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Bubbles will be arriving in the morning because she got off work a little late & was skittish about driving with the rainy weather we’ve been having… and it might freeze overnight. Frankly, I’m feeling a little better about it too. You know her safety is a top priority of mine. That’s why my buddy Oswald watches over her… unless I end up moving there soon. You guys remember Oswald, right? The one-footed pigeon crime fighter & defender of the innocent (and Bubbles)? Well, I’m sure that you’re not interested in all that. You probably want to know about the interview, don’t you?

So… I don’t want to jinx it… but I had probably better start REALLY checking out apartments this next week. The interview was done via Skype, so my first web cam experience… and I think it went pretty well. I answered the questions (in my humble opinion) splendidly, met a few of the people I would be working with, we answered each other’s questions about the position, expectations, etc, you know… a pretty standard interview. I was my usual charming self with job experience flowing out of every orifice that I’m sure they could tell even with grainy visual footage & a choppy vocal connection. They will probably be contacting me in the next few days… and I guess we’ll see how it goes from there… but of course, I’m optimistic… because seriously, LOOK AT ME!!! I’d get this job on looks alone… and my skills are even more impressive. It’s in the bag like two-for-five… and if you don’t know, now you know… what? Yeah, no big story to tell or anything about it… but I think it went very well… like VERY well. So in the meantime, I guess I’ll share some real news with ya…

Shark Attack - A single female whitetip shark (aka single white female) has been linked to at least three out of five attacks on tourists at a popular Egyptian Red Sea resort, and is still in the area, an expert helping investigators said on Thursday. Three Russians and a Ukrainian were attacked off Sharm el-Sheikh in the space of two days last week, suffering severe injuries (must have a taste for meat marinated in vodka). On Sunday a 70-year-old German woman snorkeler died after a shark tore a piece out of her thigh and severed her forearm. It was the first death from a shark attack in Egypt since 2004. Officials had just lifted a ban on swimming in the area imposed after the first attacks. A whitetip seen minutes before the first attacks on two of the Russians has been identified as the shark photographed when the German woman was attacked five days later, said Elke Bojanowski, an expert on the Red Sea's whitetip sharks. She said the shark still appeared to be in the area. "Instead of briefly grabbing for testing or tasting purposes, this female apparently considers human swimmers as a potential food source," she said. An international team of scientists was interviewing witnesses, studying the environment and gathering data from local divers to understand the shark's behavior. Speculation has centered on the practice of luring sharks with bait, or chum, to film them, causing them to associate humans with food, or a depletion of fish stocks that could force them to seek alternative food sources. Some experts suggest that sheep and cattle that died while being shipped in for last month's Muslim feast of Eid el-Adha might have been thrown overboard in the Red Sea. If they had drifted to shallow waters, this might have encouraged sharks to bite anything unusual floating on the sea surface. There are even rumors that the Israeli Moussad fighters have trained the sharks to attack Egyptians. I am not joking… but then again, it’s pretty much standard practice over there to blame everything on Israel anyway. "There are lots of rumors going around here in Sharm but few facts," said Jochen Van Lysebettens, head of the Red Sea Diving College in Sharm. "My personal view is the behavior of the sharks must have been triggered by their feeding off something unusual in the water -- chum, fish or carcasses." Egypt's government said on Thursday it would pay $50,000 in compensation to each of the Russians who were attacked. By the way, does anybody else find it amusing that this is all occurring in the RED Sea? And some are blaming these “Jaws”-like attacks on Jews? Maybe Steven Spielberg gave them the idea while he was filming “Munich” and the sharks are finally trained & ready. Now if they could just get the Egyptians into the water instead of pasty white tourists… I know, it sounds crazy. That’s why I’m saying it. Hopefully they figure out what the issue is because… I’d really like to visit Sharm el-Sheikh someday. I consider it one of the few places in the Middle East that isn’t completely crazy… but that may soon change.

Taxing the Oldest Profession - Challenged with a 100 million Euro ($133 million) deficit, one western German city has introduced a day tax on prostitutes to help fill its budget gap (pun certainly intended). The new "pleasure tax" requires prostitutes in Dortmund to purchase a 6 Euro "day ticket" for each day they work… or face a potential fine. The city estimates that the new tax will add some 750,000 Euros to its coffers each year (that’s about 350 sex workers per day on average). "Dortmund has financial problems like many cities in Germany," city spokesman Michael Meinders told Reuters. "We considered several sex taxes but this was the most practical proposal." Really? Okay. The new tax went into effect in August but the day tickets have not been available until this week. An alternative proposal was to charge a 1 or 2 Euro fee to anyone entering Dortmund's red-light district, but this idea got little political support, Meinders said. You know… to protect people that just go there for the pastries and souvenir shopping, I’m sure. Such taxes are not unusual in Germany where prostitution is legal and sex workers must pay tax on their income (hint hint). Cologne (the muskiest smelling city in the world) introduced a 150 Euro "pleasure tax" on sex workers in 2004 and later added a 6 Euro day tax option for part-time prostitutes. So basically, the German government has realized that they need a pimp’s cut on this game. Is it a perfect solution? Of course not. We’re estimating that this tax will only cover less than one percent of the deficit (unless business is-a boomin’ over the next few months). Is it a start? Certainly. Just thought you all might like to know about it. Do I approve of prostitution? Not particularly… but the way I see it, we’re all doing it for the money. No matter what your job is… unless you’re one of the lucky few who genuinely enjoy what you do… you’re basically a corporate prostitute… but obviously a title with a better connotation.

Of Mice & Men - US scientists have used stem cell technology to create mice from two fathers, an advance that they say could help preserve endangered species (pandas) and even help same-sex couples have their own genetic children one day (speaking of San Francisco…). According to the study published Wednesday in the journal Biology of Reproduction, reproductive scientists in Texas were able to manipulate cells from a male (XY) mouse fetus to produce an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell line. These iPS cells are adult cells that have undergone some genetic reprogramming in order to enter an embryonic stem cell-like state. Still with me? Okay. Some of the cells that were grown from this new line spontaneously lost their Y chromosome, turning them into XO cells. Those XO cells were injected into embryos from donor female mice and transplanted into surrogate mouse moms who gave birth to babies with one X chromosome from the original male mouse. Those babies grew and later mated with normal male mice. Their offspring, both male and female, showed genetic contributions from two fathers (daddy and… the guy whose goo was processed through a centrifuge, filtered, injected into random chick’s embryo, transplanted into mommy and you bear his genetic information). The study was led by Richard R. Berhringer at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Researchers said that with a variation of their technique, "it may also be possible to generate sperm from a female donor and produce viable male and female progeny with two mothers." However, the study cautioned that the ability to replicate the findings in humans was a long way off. The "generation of human iPS cells still requires significant refinements prior to their use for therapeutic purposes," the study said. Previous research has found ways to create mice without any fathers at all, as well as ways to create mice with two mothers. It’s the future, ladies & gentlemen. The only question that I have is… where’s the stork during all of this? And the diamonds? And the cabbage patch? This is an abomination!!! Sigh… you know I’m just playing, right? Children are the future (whether we like them or not). Call me old fashioned… but I kinda prefer the ways of making babies the way that nature intended… not these fancy birth control methods like… pulling out. (Tehehe… watch “Dirty Work”) But yeah, I know that Love, Marriage, Children and all that other stuff sometimes doesn’t line up perfectly… and I’m glad that scientists are finding a ways for us & other species to reproduce. Say what you will about stem cell research and all that… but I approve of it.

As you know, with recent developments included, I would like to start a family someday. Sure, I’m a few dozen MAJOR steps from even considering stuff like that (i.e. finding a stable home & job situation, a woman who I enjoy spending my time with, care for deeply, is willing to have sex with me, can stand living with, convinces me that I can see spending my life without her, she feels the same way, marriage, deciding to have children, etc) but you know me, I’m insanely optimistic. All I have to do is get out there, be around people, let them realize what a true wonder of nature I am (and humble), and then the ladies will flock to me, literally flock to me. I’m an amazing human being… but I’m also terribly shy sometimes & rarely make the first move. Living in the city though, may change all of that. Hopefully it won’t turn me into a douche… but please be sure to keep me in check if it appears that I’m turning that way. Well, I guess this weekend there will be a lot of decisions made. Do I take the job? Do I move yet again? Is it really a better situation? Is the juice worth the squeeze? Will the job even be offered to me? What would the timetable be? What’s the next step down the road? Why am I so ambitious? Why do I never seem to be content with a good situation & want great? What to get everybody for Christmas? What’s for dinner? Do I really need another drink? This is free, right? How am I going to get home? Where are my pants? So many decisions to make & questions to answer. Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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