Earworms and DNA

Earworms and DNA

Social interactions can alter gene expression in the brain, and vice versa. A critical insight came in 1992, in a study of songbirds led by David Clayton. He and his colleagues found that expression of a specific gene increases in the forebrain of a zebra finch or canary just after it hears a new song from a male of the same species. …This may explain, in a very roundabout way, why I began rounding my vowels shortly after moving to…

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Fullmetal Alchemist: Still crazy, after all these years.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Still crazy, after all these years.

In preparation for a chapter on anime fandom and cognitive narratology, I’m re-watching Fullmetal Alchemist. I didn’t much care for FMA upon first viewing a few years ago. I found the character designs too simple, and the plot painted in broad strokes. But I kept up with it on the advice of others, and I’m happy I did. For all its cute moments, the series occasionally dips into moments of disturbing grotesquerie and genuine emotional engagement. These moments increase as…

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Why I'm glad I'm here:

Why I'm glad I'm here:

Last night my old roommate IM’d me with: “Dude! We just elected a black president! You missed out!” I replied that I was still a citizen of the United States of America, and I had voted for him two weeks ago, and that the things he had promised her as a candidate were privileges that I already enjoyed, like socialized medicine.  If I had been thinking clearly, I would have added more to the list: gay marriage, reproductive rights that aren’t…

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indecision 08: the bridge choice

indecision 08: the bridge choice

Tonight a thought blossomed in my head whose seed was planted the Saturday afternoon that I saw The Dark Knight. And if you couldn’t infer it from the title, that thought is this: This whole election is The Bridge Choice. The Bridge Choice has a long history in comics. It starts with Spider-Man and Gwen Stacey, but TDK gave it a new spin: participatory justice. The Joker offers two very different sections of Gothamites the opportunity to eliminate one another,…

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Is it bright where you are? Have the people changed?

Is it bright where you are? Have the people changed?

There have always been many reasons to be proud of reading and writing science fiction. But today we’re reminded of some of the best. Today, Election Day, when so much hangs in the balance and when America has a chance to re-define itself, we can see how that what was once a conservative genre is now looking toward a different future. Some examples: I hope you will do the right thing, the just thing, and the moral thing when you…

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Halloween 08: this story ends with vampires.

Halloween 08: this story ends with vampires.

You know how you’re supposed to eat a lot of food and drink a ton of water before you give blood? Turns out, you’re really supposed to do those things. Otherwise, you might have a moment of complete and epic FAIL after donating, and have to prevail upon the graces of some poor guy who doesn’t even believe in altruism when you collapse to the floor in an unconscious heap. Signs You’re About to Faint: You feel completely fine. Fine…

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My open-source body.

My open-source body.

There’s a moment in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels after the caper is finished when Vinnie Jones’ character bids farewell to the four main characters and says simply: “It’s been emotional.” Which rather sums up how I’ve been feeling, lately. My friend Emru Townsend, co-editor of Frames Per Second Magazine, recently had a bone marrow transplant to help treat a pernicious form of leukemia. However, despite the full engraftment of his new stem cells, Emru is now facing a…

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On "Supernatural"

On "Supernatural"

I should have listened to Henry Jenkins when he talked about Supernatural. (And to everyone who pimped Supernatural to me.) Because then I would have grown accustomed to this level of awesome: This is Jensen Ackles, who plays “Dean” on Supernatural, doing his “Eye of the Tiger” routine as a special feature to the latest episode. After seeing this, it’s impossible to not to imagine John McCain doing the same each time he begins a rally with the song. (And I…

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"The Von Neumann Wives"

"The Von Neumann Wives"

Dear Story Entitled “The Von Neumann Wives,” Thanks for appearing to me last night. That was very nice of you. I like it when you guys show up. Really. I just wish there could have been some notice, first. Otherwise I would have known to get some other things done, beforehand. Like some more Foresters, or a bit more research for my Fullmetal Alchemist-meets-cognitive narratology paper. Or, you know, some baking to fuel said pursuits. Some espresso-infused brownies perhaps. Because…

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