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Sunday, July 31, 2005

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Julien the lemur

Somebody came to this blog looking for "madagascar dolls julian". I understand from my daughter that there is a character called Julien in the recent children's film, "Madagascar". That's "Julien", not "Julian". He is a lemur.

I haven't blogged for two weeks, the longest hiatus just about ever for me.

Tonight, my wife and I watched a video on plans to clone the extinct Tasmanian tiger, a marsupial related to the famed Tasmanian devil. While I admire the audacity of the science, and I wish them luck, if they do produce a cloned tiger using the specimen at the Australian Museum in Sydney, a female foetus in alcohol, all they will have is a sole animal. To reestablish the species, they would need a breeding population, with some normal genetic variety. And I don't see how they can create a population.

Julian

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

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Did horror writer HP Lovecraft have acromegaly?

Here is a picture of him as an adult.

For comparison, here is a picture of him as a child.

More pictures and a biography here.

Acromegaly seems possible. Does anyone know?

Steve Sailer has suggested that John Kerry may have had acromegaly. This article includes a picture of John Kerry from his college days. Other famous cases of acromegaly have been Primo Carnera, the boxer, and the people discussed here.

There is a good chapter on Primo Carnera in this book by Harold Klawans, the neurologist and writer.

Julian

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Friday, July 08, 2005

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London ...

... is a Capital of the Imagination for many people, including me, and I was very affected by the destruction and death. The sight of the broken up red double-decker bus was particularly distressing. The English are an admirable people and they will endure.

Julian

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

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"Surfeited With Dainties"

is a great name for a blog. The blogmaster mentions in a recent post that he accidentally deleted a comment of mine. I think this may have been that I have only literally burned a few books in my life. One was Fr Anthony De Mello SJ's "Awareness". I bought this at a Catholic bookshop in Sydney, read it carefully and took it all in. His approach to life was supposed to lead to contentment: all it ever induced in me was a mild depression. Eventually I realised the book was stupid. De Mello got some negative commentary from the Vatican eventually and I can't say I am surprised. "Awareness" was basically bad advice, so I burned it rather than give it away. I also burned Gregory Corso's book on the Roswell UFO incident, as it was found to have been an unreliable concoction. Most recently I burned a copy of Aleister Crowley's "Magick in Theory and Practice". It is not that I think the book has any real power, but it is just a dated, foolish, unhealthy book.

I am on leave at present, so I have a bit more time to haunt bookshops and drive around Canberra aimlessly. I found the "Village Centre" in the suburb of Downer today. I have never thought much about Downer: to me it was just another nondescript, slightly second-rate suburb in the less fashionable part of old North Canberra. But the 1960's houses and streetscapes are starting to age nicely and the duplexes have a certain unpretentious charm, together with the typical laneways that Canberra's urban designers included as a concession to pedestrians. And the "Village Centre" is quite distinctive, not really resembling a typical suburban shopping centre of the Canberra type. It looks more like something from a country town. There is a "convenience store" with free local deliveries and an Italian restaurant and not much else besides a "community centre". There is a curious sign on the red tile roof of the shopping centre building that advises one that the tiles are fragile but, in an emergency, one can walk on the roof most safely by walking where the nails have been inserted. Also tucked away in Downer is the "Canberra Business Centre", which is mostly professional associations, training centres and small consultancies, including one on Australian aerospace. It is funny what one finds when one goes looking.

Books bought today include an account of St Cyril of Alexandria and his Christological controversies, a history of ideas of the afterlife in Western thought, and a paperback copy of Robert Hughes' book on Goya.

Julian

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Monday, July 04, 2005

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The Lyon hypothesis and the maintenance of pregnancy

The Lyon hypothesisis the suggestion that female mammals, including women, have one of their two X chromosomes randomly inactivated in each cell. I wonder if this is related to the need for female mammals to carry offspring inside their bodies during pregnancy but not reject them as immunologically different. If the female is herself a genetic mosaic, she may be more tolerant of a wider range of immune types in her foetus.

This article may be relevant.

Julian

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Friday, July 01, 2005

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If you had asked me about Canadians ...

when I was a young bloke, I would have thought of Mounties, lumberjacks and trappers; rugged men in funny warm hats, some speaking French; and the women who love them. It really surprises me that the Canadians have taken to homosexual marriage with such alacrity. It is sort of like The Lumberjack Song come true.

So much for that childhood stereotype. But the traditional Australian stereotype seems to retain some of its force. There are no moves to permit homosexual marriage in Australia. It is simply no longer on the agenda, after a brief movement a short while ago that was quashed by both major parties.

Why this extraordinary national difference? Canada and Australia seem to have a lot in common: size of population; frontier societies settled by the British (mostly); federations; difficult environments tamed; bit of a national inferiority complex perhaps. And yet we Australians seem to be much more socially conservative in some areas. Why? One possibility that occurs to me is that Canada has the example of "Blue State America" nearby to give it "progressive" ideas, but does not have many "Red States" as a counterbalance. There is no Canadian equivalent of the American South or the Evangelical Right.

Julian

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Anti-Hispanic article

Here.

Quotes:

"Banish Spanish: It's Classist, Elitist, Sexist and Un-American!"

"I and many self-respecting American will not tolerate being defined by the failures of the Spanish Armada and Conquistadors to conquer and dominate us."

"... my Scottish surname ..."

If the writer's culture were really healthy, she would not feel threatened. And, if she is really worried about "sexism", she should consider that her "surname" came from her forefathers exclusively, not her foremothers. That's what "surname" means.

Julian


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