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February 28, 2013


Didn't they do monkey head transplants in the 50s?

For Ugh:

That article is aMAZing.


I would, but my rat twin is offline, so I'm only half the man I used to be.

From the link:

"they have developed a brain-to-brain interface that can transmit information from one rat directly to another, enabling the animal on the receiving end to perform behavioural tasks without training."

I'll be bipartisan and say that explains Congress.

But for the rats playing at home, I'll add that what it really explains is how the 27% Republican base keeps its Republican Reps and Senators in line.

I notice, for example, that Lindsay Graham has lately been sporting cheese whiskers and rides the same exercise wheel over and over ad nauseum.

If the research on the rats was done at the National Institute of Mental Health then there is no need to worry...the rats will just go Galt.

So THAT's the secret of NIMH.

If they link up the cats, humanity is doomed.

We are catborg, and you will be assimilated

Sounds rather fishy to me. I was of the opinion that the scholarly consent was that all higher brains are wired individually and thus anything but the most primitive input would run into an insolvable 'wrong file format' problem. I.e. stuff like pain or light/dark info from the eyes could be transmitted (the latter because the input channels are universal and more or less independent of the specific brain wiring)and maybe motoric orders (because the output is at least partially standardized) but no analytical stuff.

I'm not so sure that early conclusion wasn't a result of not understanding the brain's coding scheme, but it's true the brain's detailed connection pattern isn't 100% genetically determined.

However, the brain is, fundamentally, a learning machine, and it seems likely that, despite all individual differences, if you did connect two brains in some fashion, and the individuals so connected interacted for a long while, they'd eventually learn their way into sharing data. Because that's what brains do, learn and adapt.

So much enhancement tech gets tried out first on mice, that I've occasionally suspected we'll be eventually overthrown by transmurines. We really ought to save some of the best tech for ourselves, just to retain an advantage.

We really ought to save some of the best tech for ourselves, just to retain an advantage.

Yup. The day may come when we really need that better mousetrap.

No doubt http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CDIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Ftechnology%2Fpigeonrank.html&ei=58YwUZfsAamuigLSsoGgCw&usg=AFQjCNHM5pUGK6TqSj-TGdjISaAq8Pb-gw&bvm=bv.43148975,d.cGE>Google is already making plans to upgrade from pigeons.

Open thread? I'm getting a vasectomy! (Beat that, suckaaaz....)

Possibly of interest to this community:

A range of mainstream American publications printed paid propaganda for the government of Malaysia, much of it focused on the campaign against a pro-democracy figure there.

The payments to conservative American opinion writers — whose work appeared in outlets from the Huffington Post and San Francisco Examiner to the Washington Times to National Review and RedState — emerged in a filing this week to the Department of Justice. The filing under the Foreign Agent Registration Act outlines a campaign spanning May 2008 to April 2011 and led by Joshua Trevino, a conservative pundit, who received $389,724.70 under the contract and paid smaller sums to a series of conservative writers.

The Government of Malaysia is people too!

Really cool, and ethically scary.

The rats or Treviño?

It doesn't suprise me that a bunch of Republicans would oppose apro-democracy movement, given the party's anti-democracy eforts here.

I used to have pet white rats. They were sweet, affectionate animals, full of curiosity. Wonderful pets. In fact in a miute I will post an essay I wrote about my rats.

Never mind. It's too long and the formatting comes out weird.

Laura, send it to libjpn at gmail and I'll put it up as a guest post if you like. I'll sort the formatting out.

Both, altho Trevino seems more ethically challenged.
and like Laura I had a pet rat - great animal, but I never wrote an essay about him.

Via Balloon Juice, this is what Ben Domenech had to say about his part in the ratf*ck Malaysian-style:

“Of course, Josh (Trevino) picked me knowing what my opinion was."

As with the four-legged variety of pests, just so with the two-legged vermin:

"they have developed a brain-to-brain interface that can transmit information from one rat directly to another, enabling the animal on the receiving end to perform behavioural tasks without training."

Odious knaves they be.

Rats and rabbits will inherit the world anyway, if we believe Dougal Dixon.

Is no-one except, somewhat laconically, geographylady, at all bothered by the ethical aspect of this? The more immediate one, I mean... to do with the animals that are actually having their brains wired together, rather than their putative world-conquering descendants?

I mean, don't wire animals brains together. For f*ck's sake.

The rats or Treviño?

blogging for dollars. with or without disclosure, same-same. it's the red state way.

the ethical aspect of this?

long ago in a galaxy far far away, i had the NYT concession at my campus. part of the gig was going around early in the AM and filling the coin boxes.

one of the boxes was at the building where the clinical psych department had their labs. couple of times a week, there would be a bunch of boxes stacked up, full of rats.

the daily delivery, as it were.

in the front door, then eventually out to the incinerator.

i guess rats are close enough to humans neurologically that they make a really handy critter for f***ing around with. kind of a scratch pad for neurological research.

cheap, too.

I used to deliver photos to doctors. One of the doctors had a row of rats crucified to a board. Some experiement. I told my boss (this was back whe I was a college student) that I would not deliver to that pervert any more.

Yes, I know: people benefit from the research. I probably have. Someone learned to do retinoplasties and cornea transplants on animals before practicing on humans. So I reaped the benefit. That puts me in the position of being unable to argue completely against vivsection.

However I do believe that there should be as little vivsection done as possible and I also believe that most of the experiments doone on animals are cruel acts of torture and unnecessary. This crap with rat brains is an example. I'm sure the scientist could give some rationalization about what learnings about the human brain are expected to result from this, but it looks like hubris to me.

People claim to be superior, created int he image of God. What makes us superior? The ability to rationalize endlessly to fool ourselves into justifying our own egotism? No animal does that. Lots of animals are pretty focused on themsleves and their own survival but they don't rationalize it!

I don't think sentient beings should be treated as disposible.

LJ, yu did me the honor of inviting me to send th eessay to you. I did that. I appreciate your iterest. However, upon reading it you might decide that it isn't the sort of thing that will generate much of a discussion and therefore not appropriate.

Ethics? I assure you that there are lots of scientists that would instantly switch to humans as 'guinea pigs' if possible (volunteers preferred but not as a necessary condition) and quite a number of politicians that would love to make it possible (starting with but not stopping at prison inmates and minorities). I have no illusions about that not being the case.
[clarification: not limited to the US or totalitarian regimes]

"One of the doctors had a row of rats crucified to a board. Some experiement."

They died for your sins. Perhaps you should start worshiping them.

You'll have to anyway, once the GlobalBorgRat takes over.

When I was in the Philippines years ago, the prevalence of rats and the low protein content of the Filipino diet in some areas of the country led a meat packer/manufacturer to begin canning something called STAR Meat.

STAR spells r-a-t-s backwards. It is also a partial anagram of m-a-r-t-y-r-s, for those skittish about rat crucifixion in that mostly Catholic country. When I say "skittish", I mean about crucifying rodents. The Son of God is a whole nother matter for whom exceptions were granted.

Meanwhile, today, the horse meat scandal has morphed into a no meat scandal:

"Icelandic meat inspector Kjartan Hreinsson says his team did not find any horse meat, but one brand of locally produced beef pie left it stumped. It contained no meat at all. "That was the peculiar thing," Hreinsson said in a telephone interview Friday. "It was labeled as beef pie, so it should be beef pie."

It's like Sweeney Todd with neither the Sweeney nor the Todd.

Apparently, the company hired Harvard and Yale MBA graduates to direct their marketing program, mortgage lending being a little too dicey these days.

One wonders if STAR meat is still being canned in the Philippines and if the manufacturer is substituting horse meat on the sly to maximize profits and keep the shareholders happy.

So, if the rat meat is replaced with nothing, or with sawdust or other cellulosic material, would that be a scandal, or a relief, except for the lack of transparency?

It says "rats" on the can and I'm not tasting rat! Class action and someone get my Congressman on the shouter.

I hope the U.S. government furloughs all meat inspectors in this country so we can proceed with the prolonged nationwide taste test libertarians (r-a-t-s spelled backwards) have longed for these many elections.

The inspectors can get lost, along with the horses they rode in on, unless someone else (probably that odious, knavish ratf*cker, Trevino) got to the horses first.

Some years ago, a number of brands of high fiber bread contained tree fiber.

And tasted like it, as I recall; They didn't even grind it fine enough, there were splinters on occasion. Though from a dietary standpoint, your gut doesn't care whether the insoluble fiber came from a tree, or a head of broccoli. So they weren't being irrational about it.

STAR is a national conglomerate in the Philippines, if I recall right. They've got a TV network, too. I wouldn't read anything into the initials.

"I wouldn't read anything into the initials."

This was the late 1970s.

I saw the cans (like a can of tuna) stacked in a market.

There was press coverage of the effort to increase Filipino consumption of animal protein via STAR meat.

I don't know the success of the marketing effort.

Now, if you said SPAM did not really consist of ground-up m-a-p-s, I would have to reluctantly concede your point.

Tree fiber is in lots of foods:


Wasn't there a famous fiber/health food guru from the 1960s-70s who was the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit (maybe Dan Aykroyd) and it ended up with him eating part of a wooden picnic table?

Rats plague the rice fields of Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, and are eaten in some areas of the country.

STAR meat was meant to make something useful and commercial from a useless pest.

Maybe it was one of Imelda's practical jokes.

I've eaten un-purged goat intestine, a bug or two, a bowl of pig's blood, and other comestibles in the Philippines.

I may have eaten a few things unwittingly too, because the bars in the provinces are many times poorly lit. I can remember a few San Miguel cerveza bouts late at night in which food was introduced and a big cheer went up when I tried whatever it was.

I had good street cred for this sort of thing, despite my rather delicate lower intestinal tract. When Woody Allen merged the Commentary and Dissent periodicals, he ended up with Dissentary, and so did I.

I once came home from work and the neighbors had Fido, their rheumy-eyed, emaciated watchdog, roasting on a spit.

He'd nipped one of the kids, so there was nothing for it but to have a party.

Very greasy, that dog, but after several 8% San Miguels, one is in the mood for any sort of pulutan (snack), aso (dog), being very common.

We shan't speak of the adobong pusa, but I watched a guy eat a bat one time (in adobo) and come to think of it the STAR meat was adobo-style too.

Cries of "Balut, Balut!" at every stop of the bus signaled fertilized and nearly hatched duck eggs.

Very crunchy, that.

Last of all, there was "jumping salad", which was the freshest seafood I've ever choked down.

How I avoided hepatitis is beyond me.

I'm three pages into Steven Brill's 35-page Time magazine article on American healthcare and I may have papers drawn up that if I ever lose or can no longer afford my private health insurance, I'll eat a couple of rats, go on a shooting spree, and ask that instead of the cat being buried with me, I want to be buried with the cat in a backyard with a piece of memorabilia or two.

I'll be fully incentivized to use less or no healthcare, but the doctor and staff who keep me cooling my heels in the waiting room until my $48,000 check clears may need some expensive emergency care.

THEY can shop for it.

I may have eaten a few things unwittingly too,

When I was in Tanzania I was told by a local that the definition of "beef" in that country was somewhat broader than in many other places. Still, the stew was quite tasty, and I suffered no after-effects.

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