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Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Great Brain Robbery and the Seattle Pee Patch

Photo courtesy of Darwin Bell via Flickr

The neighborhood dogs use my daughter's vegetable garden as a communal toilet. You can't blame them really. The garden is right next to the sidewalk and they are just dogs. I suppose you could blame the dog owners holding the leash. But, are my dog-walking neighbors really that obtuse or are they victims of the parasite on the end of that leash? ; )

See this article called Ten Fascinating Cases of Mind Control for a fascinating compilation of videos documenting how parasites send their genes into the future (procreate) by controlling the minds of other creatures.

Richard Dawkins describes this behavior as an extended phenotype--the parasite can manipulate its host's behavior to help the parasite reproduce.

One video in that link describes how a parasite alters the behavior of rats to actually seek out the company of cats, which tends to get them eaten, thus sending the parasite into the gut of the cat to complete its life-cycle.

An estimated 60 million Americans are infected by this same parasite, which may explain a few things.

My neighbor's cat--with summer hair cut

For more thoughts on this subject read:

Domesticated Dogs--Mutualists or Parasites?

A Lapdog To Go With Your Laptop

This garden has been a lesson in human nature for my kid. I warned her that people would let their dogs crap on her vegetables. She didn't believe me. All summer we watched from our living room window as one neighbor after the other stood there to let their dogs crap in her vegetable garden. Just today I watched another neighbor let both of her dogs take a dump right in the middle of the freshly tilled soil.

A sign asking them to stop would make some of them feel guilty, which would make some of them angry. Most would probably let their dog crap on the garden anyway, possibly after looking around to make sure nobody is watching.

We decided that the best option is to build a picket fence around the garden and to plant far enough from it to avoid over spray.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nissan Leaf, meet Ford Pinto

There were two interesting cars parked on my street this week. One was a Nissan Leaf (see my test drive video here). The other was a Ford Pinto.

The Pinto was one of the forerunners of today's small hatchbacks. It had bucket seats with a hand brake between them, a back seat that folded down, a small four-cylinder engine, and of course a hatch back. I owned four of them through high school and college because used versions were inexpensive and easy to repair, although thanks to shody manufacturing, they never lasted long.

In high school, I won a gold medal with a painting of a Pinto that was spewing flowers out of its exhaust. It was titled "My rotary-engined, hydrogen-burning, Pinto car." This was in 1974. Turns out that rotary engines don't work so good and neither does hydrogen.

My next car will be electric. I've been waiting my whole life for one. No more oil changes, no more gasoline.

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