What this blog isn't

It's not a Leeds-based exploration of the joys and challenges of shaping the mortar between house-bricks so that the rain runs off without undue damage.
Nor is it about looking at, achieving, or maintaining erections of the male variety. That's what the rest of the internet is for.
It's also not about drawing peoples' attention to the beauty of the Aurora Borealis by indicating it with an extended forefinger
It probably isn't SFW[Safe For Work] either (especially if you work in a church) thanks to the liberal sprinkling of profanities, heresies and blasphemies.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

DNA, I hate you - so this is a torch song for Ribonucleic acid

Allow me to introduce to you two people. Except they're not actually people. They are in fact chains of nucleotides, fundamental to life on earth, but let's go back to looking at them as people for a while.

Denny is a fat, lazy bastard who thinks he knows everything but is mostly just full of shit. Renee is his little sister, her light is hidden under a bushel. A bushel that stands in the massive shadow of her torpid brother. She's lithe, clever and secretly the star of the family.

Trouble is, Denny is the media darling. His name is bandied about everywhere from taverns (even though they haven't existed since about the nineteenth fucking century - it's a PUB; if you must do so you can call it an inn or a bar - mention the word tavern around me again and we'll see just how much you love archaic things by allowing me to stick a couple of leeches on your eyeballs, and letting me stuff half a lime up your arse*. Jesus, you might as well call it a taphouse and be done with it) to Parliament to the press to bloody car advertisements.

Everyone is kissing DNA's backside like doing so bestows one with eternal life or something - which of course is promised. I am not, I should point out, one of those who believes that DNA is God's patent, signature and Magnum Opus Dei. I'm just sick of RNA getting the shit end of the stick.

Type DNA into your favourite search engine. Hundreds of millions of hits, spanning the whole range of human experiences.

Now do the same with RNA. Dry, dusty scientific Acrobat documents that read like they fell out of a mad scientist's briefcase on the train. Yet she's the one we should be paying a little overdue attention to.

DNA might have a bloody good memory, but most of what he knows is useless bollocks (including the code for making useless bollocks - all the way back to primitive life-forms). RNA is the cutter and paster, the editor who turns a bloated confused novel into a slim brilliant gem that you just can't put down; the one who prevents DNA from accidentally giving you and your descendants useless bollocks. Probably on your forehead.

Let's hear it for Renee. The day I hear her name on CSI (insert name of city here until about 2052) instead of her shitwit brother's, I'll jump for joy.

*Supposedly a cure for malaria before they discovered quinine. Didn't work. Imagine dying anyway, but with half a lime up your arse.


Do you want to give DNA a well-deserved kick in it's own bollocks? Well, we'll have to find those tiny plums first, somewhere deep inside that twisty bastard's innards. As a welcome side-effect we'll probably be able to find a cure for a lot of nasty shit that happens to us people too - sooner rather than later - and the best part is your computer will do all the work. All you have to do is sit back, grin and take the credit.

Help research PROTEIN FOLDING and maybe we can get shot of horrors such as Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, cystic fibrosis, BSE, CJD, an inherited form of emphysema, and even many cancers - as well as learning enough about that little shit Denny to help those suffering from the DNA of nasty fucking bacteria and viruses to boot. Everybody fucking wins. Find out how you can help and see what progress has been made by clicking the link below. You owe it to Renee, yourself..and everyone you've ever loved, or ever will...

http://folding.stanford.edu/English/Main


[Still trying not to be disheartened by being ranked in the thousand-and-odds on: Humor-blogs.com]

16 comments:

Dik Fufy said...

Thanks, but I'll take my half in a glass, muddled with some fresh mint and sugar, and topped with a little rum and water.

So, about this, the other day, I was standing in front of a class of budding young religious fundamentalists, using the first chapter of Genesis to demonstrate basic narrative structure, and while my mouth was saying, "Blah, blah, blah," my mind was thinking about ways to avoid rupturing their fragile little creationist selves with what is clearly an evolutionary reality. This is important only because these wee, pink freshmen have come to me with their mamas' and preachers' warnings against atheistic, Marxist, Satan-worshipping, wine cooler for breakfast drinking professors fresh in their wee, pink ears, and my purpose is to prove--before December 5th--that everything their mamas and preachers have told them in the last eighteen years is pretty much bullshit.

So, anyway, I'm thinking of, you know, the standard, "Perhaps 'day'
is just an abstract representation of time, and this sequence is really happening over thousands or millions of years," when it suddenly occured to me how very rib like the DNA and RNA structures are, and how, lacking words like "double helix" one might opt for, say, "rib."

And now you've reminded me that I really must Google this to see if someone else has previously expressed this concept, or if it's simply further confirmation of my genius.

(Please note that, henceforth, my user name will not be Pam, but a new name comprised of the letters in your word verification security software!)UPADATE--So it was "wtity"--hence the "Witty Twity"--but,for the first time,it rejects me and throws up "yfufdki"! Do I SOUND eastern European???

magnetite said...

Okay, Pam who will henceforth not be Pam (until another Pam turns up, and then I hope I don't have to to play referee to a game of comment tennis - looking back and forth between each with a slack jaw). Excellent concept of 'strand as rib' though. Run with it into the abstract. Which is a pretty nice place to be - I like the scenery here and shall probably retire to the abstract when I'm in my dotage. I haven't had any dealings with creationists fortunately. Just Anglicans (who generally laugh at the very concept of 'Intelligent Design' and Roman Catholics (who tend to say 'I'm alright with the idea of dinosaurs and evolution mate, we're all going to hell anyway so it's not as if it makes a bite of difference.'

I don't know how I'd cope with a fundy ID creationist except to enlighten them to the fact that a great deal of scientific knowledge came to us from devout clergymen, long before their crazed ideas swam out of a committee somewhere. I wish you good luck though. I'm equally prepared to believe (and disbelieve) that God is dark matter; a coder who programmed the whole shebang in seven 'days' and a caucasian bloke in a white toga - all simultaneously. I've had a lifetime of accidental and devastating blows to the head though, so a pinch of salt is recommended - with or without lime.

Jock Tulq said...

Salt/lime/tequila/marguerita.
SUGAR/lime/rum/mojito.

I'm sorry, but I thought you were in England. "Mate?" "Bloke?" Explain, Dundee!

Your security software is smoking dope.

magnetite said...

I am in England, though where exactly is something that even I don't know. All I know is the manse, the village, the mines, Cornwall, Nuneaton and Preston. I live, it would seem, in a text adventure written by the Tourist Board of England and Wales and won't get to see a new location until I get past this damn snake.

Flo Hetup said...

I've only been as far from London as Southampton, so feel free to make up anything you like. I imagine the whole place as a bucolic mix of Bronte and Calendar Girls, with Gordon Ramsey and David Dickinson stomping about.

magnetite said...

My apologies, my fellow Anorakee(er?)(oid??) with the mutable name. I have been hoist by my own petard to some degree by my fervent desire to maintain my almost-zero spam rate - in twelve years of intertubeweb usage, I have only once received an enquiry as to whether my penis is big enough and have never been offered cheap medicine, or the opportunity to reap rich reward from the coffers of a Nigerian prince.

I suspect that this, and the way I have approached the magnetite identity - as a cathartic physic that lets me release the intercranial pressure of all the claptrap building up in my noggin - may have its downside. The schizophrenic nature of our conversation here across two comment threads at the same time is one example. Serves me right for the blatant self-aggrandizement of making my Anorak username clickable.

No, I haven't seen Lars and the real girl, though I undersatand it is a touchingly funny story. I have seen a documentary on the real-life folks who love Realdolls though -and even an imaginary character like me who can spout bile and whimsy equally as a fictional wealthy recluse (or sleep on a pile of bones in a warren of twisty passages like my Anorak identity) was backing away from the concept, trying not to make eye contact.

I should however, have the courage of my convictions (and the mettle to stand by my frothing (spam risk notwithstanding), and to this end I will proudly display a human-readable obfuscated e-mail contact below the non-existent Google Adsense links on the Pointing North site itself.

I can geolocate myself to the frozen North of Engerland if that helps you and others to understand and appreciate any musings or mumblings on the blog. Feel free to continue corresponding via the comments (rather than use this e-mail adress which will shortly appear)though if you wish, your approach to Goggle/Blogger's security/anti-spam system is refreshing and appeals to my love of anagrams. Though it is a pain in the keister for you - I hate it myself when posting outrside of Google/Blogger. If you choose to correspond via the Pointing North site's e-mail, I will lose the pathetic ego boost of seeing the number next to 'comments' at the end of my posts go up (but then seeing as at least half of them are mine, I probably shouldn't derive any pleasure from those numbers anyway), but I suspect I will gain a valued correspondent as a compensation. And the Nigerian 401 sam-spam I have naively hidden myself away from.

(winking smiley face made from punctuation marks)

L.H. Bambi said...

Dear, dear friend. My name Ngobo Jesus Grace, and I represent a millionaire investment consortium.

Pablo Von Stoat said...

A more entertaining thought on the whole 'creation' process is that the world was created in seven days. Just that each day in question is actually a billion Earth years long (who says that an Earth year is actually one 'year'?), and 'God' is a bio-engineer who 'grew' the cases from left-overs.

DNA is just the database that RNA references that nobody deletes all the old entries out of (a bit like the internet, except possibly with less President Bush jokes).

Of course, the downside with this theory is that we're unlikely to be the finished article, in fact we're more like protozoa than perfectly evolved crerations when you look at things on a decent timescale.

Keep up the good work.

Was going to go with an anagram too but all I had was freddibnah. Now what the smeg was I going to make with that?

magnetite said...

Ola, pablo! 'Tis good to see you! Once again, you are right - DNA as archive (like The Wayback Machine) sounds to me not only plausible, but likely were God a cosmic bio-engineer living at a rate that would make the lifespan of galaxies (let alone solar systems and we tiny dots moving around them) like the blink of an eye.

Also, I miss old Fred. [sheds a sooty, steam-driven tear]. Though I love a good explosion (and intend to die in one - not like a zealot - in a still explosion, when the illegal whiskey I'm distilling has decided that I've had enough of life and haven't the elderly balls to end it myself) his skills at burning away the base of smokestacks then running like blazes lifted my childhood (and now mature, but no less childish) heart. Forelocks are tugged in your direction.

magnetite said...

Of course, it's quite terrifying - the concept that we dots think we can frig about with it to our heart's content - but then when have we ever known our limts?

Anonymous said...

I think that perhaps you have a hugely over-glamourised notion of just how far we have got in sorting out Death, Science and the Cosmos.

You're carrying the torch for RNA, when Mitochondrial DNA is the one which is ignored. I might even argue that there are gender based reasons for what that is all about...

But the reality is that we do not understand even the bare essentials. I have a hyper-mutating, multi-resistant lung infection which breaks all the rules; it shouldn't be able to do that in neo-darwinist theory. The hyper-mutation should kill it since the central dogma says mutations are almosts always damaging.

it's turned the microbiologists into people who are radically challenging the dogma, since they have to deal with what is, not what it ought to be if you believe the dogma. If it's multi-resistant to drugs, as a result of that hyper mutation, then it breaks the rules.

The whole plan overturned by the point that it is not scientifically sound.

Admittedly I am biased; I'm the person with the infection who has to deal with it as it is, not the way the theorists would like it to be.

Try looking up hyper mutating multi-resistant mucoid pseudomonas aureginosa. It explains rather well just how far from reality the Neo-Darwinists are...

magnetite said...

My apologies and my sympathies both go out to you anonymous, sincere and without reservation. When capering, tumbling and pratfalling (for others, and to fill whatever void exists within him) the jester can often accidentally injure those whom he seeks to please and entertain. My issue was with society's attitude toward DNA as much as it is with the twisty, complicated, often unhelpful bastard itself. Research into your affliction (and others, some close to home) should be paramount but instead we are fixated with using it to catch criminals who ought to be caught by good-old-fashioned coppering (harming civil liberties and innocents along the way), to save insurance companies piles of money so that they may lie on it like Tolkeinesque dragons and as McGuffins on lazy TV dramas. The tyro's grasp of many subjects (that the jester must have to best raise a laugh) will often make him master of none; and sometimes the pratfall isn't cleanly executed, and the jester falls on his face. I hope breakthroughs are made that can help you (and those others I mentioned) before too long.

Anonymous said...

Magnetite, there is certainly no need to apologise to me; my interest lay in noting that dogma is dangerous, whether it's Creationism or Neo-Darwinism. Those two things are, incidentally, two sides of the same coin; their adherents may argue about how we got here, but they are in complete agreement that we are the top of the pile.
And that is a view of the world which is not supportable on the data, however much it strokes our egos.
We are symbiotes; remove the bacteria from your gut and you are very dead, very quickly.
And it is unlikely that there is going to be any progress in 'fixing the code' at any time in the foreseeable future. If you look at the example of cystic fibrosis, which has had billions poured into the attempt to do just that, you will see that they have abandoned all hope of anything more than better treatments. The discovery of a cure is now off the agenda, apart from at fund raising events.
The worrying thing, from a bystander's perspective, is that the attempts failed for wholly predictable reasons; the scientists involved have been decent and honourable people who blinded themselves to what they already knew because they wanted to believe that they could fix the code.
I'm sure the people at CERN are far more sensible...

Pablo Von Stoat said...

Anonymous don't give up hope yet. We can be a very resourceful species when we stop trying to frig each other over. Whilst I might be a tad cynical sometimes I still have hope.

If you need a spark of hope, think about the things mankind has achieved so far in such a short time; art (and I don't mean pickled cows), music (not including reality tv's offerings), the lunar landings (unless it's a conspiracy, Mag?).

Back to the (sort of) topic at hand, Darwinism. I think Darwin grasped some basics, but there's still a lot to explain there. I've never worked out why stopping to compose a poem about daffodils, whilst being chased by a large predator, is supposed to be a good survival strategy. Maybe you could interview Darwin in a future posting for us, Mag. it would be interesting to see what the bearded one would have to say about his most famous theory.

magnetite said...

Curse of empathy anonymous, possibly a hindrance to one who wishes to make a life of spewing invective in as many directions as he can but I'm trying to work around it instead of denying it. When the specifics are there in front of you, it's hard to remain aloof. Someone, somewhere must be one of the members of the staple comedy troika of Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman; and no doubt enjoys a night out in a bar with his two friends. No doubt also there are those out there who enjoy a racist joke or two, but only those with problems approaching the schizoid or sociopathic would start or continue a racist joke when the 'subject' is within earshot.

PROTEIN FOLDING may be the key to helping both you and someone about whom I care very, very deeply; who will before long die - probably within five or six years - but not until after a horrible, slow disintegration of both their mind and body takes place - ending up with what is left of their brain simply forgetting what lungs are for, or how important homeostasis is to continuing to be alive. This final, fatal forgetting will occur long after they have lost the ability to recall or recognise their family, children, friends and even themselves. That is why I began my reply to your first post with an apology, as you too are at the mercy of something that is no fault of your own - and, doubtless, for you the specifics are just not funny.

There is some hope however in the form of the research in capitals above. The folding@home (not an e-mail address by the way - I will give the link in a second and also amend the original post with a serious footnote , more information and links too) project is a way for all us little individual dots to use our internet connections for something more noble and worthy than faster, bigger porn and chuckles at fools like myself in cap and bells. The knowledge gleaned from this project may help understand, control and hopefully even cure what your mutating infection (as I hope it does in the case of the person I know). On a PC or a playstation3 we can connect our machines together to make a huge distributed super-super-computer to simulate how proteins fold, and why they misfold. Details, software and even some progress at http://folding.stanford.edu/

I'm sorry it took so long to reply to your second comment. That second paragraph above kept defeating me over and over as I tried to find the right words without crying my eyes out like a fucking softshite (I think I managed the first, but still not the second and cannot now re-read it - so I hope the spelling is right.) I also hope you return to see this reply, as I hope everyone I can inform of the FAH project will join in.

Now I'm going to have to say something funny just to lighten the mood (for myself just as much as any reader - voids to be filled, and all that, you know). Hey, pablo! I think that the moon landings WERE faked, but they were filmed in a soundstage on the moon itself because the real McCoy just outside the moon-studio's thick windows just wasn't pretty enough for the producers. That's why the Apollo program cost so much, and why the Rooskies didn't win. They weren't happy with the winnebago they were offered and stormed off the set in the early days.

I'll leave with this too: Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes. By then, you see, you'll be a mile away AND you've got his shoes. Then you can judge him a stupid cunt for giving them to you in the first place.

magnetite said...

...and Pablo, I think probably that Darwin would say the same thing that the Bishop of Durham said when I met him.

"Out of the fucking way, son. Are you the one who makes the tea? I'm dying for a cup."

Famous people, eh? They're never how you'd imagine them.