February 16th, 2006


Snow, Clones, and the New York Times

Did that title get your attention?

Over the past few days, I've read two snippets in the New York Times that I wanted to share.

First of all, on Tuesday the Times ran an article As Monsters Go, This Storm Had a Lighter Tread by Andy Newman. The article was about how even though the weekend snowstorm broke the record of the 1947 storm, it didn't have as much of an impact. But what I found even more interesting was this explanation of where New York City's official snowfall tally comes from:

One more thing. Not to cast doubt on a record — or on the hard-working people who keep it — but do you know who measures the snow at Central Park? The security guards at the zoo. They read the numbers off a stick set in a flat, tree-ringed clearing near the sea lion pool.

Therefore, the words, "According to the National Weather Service, the snowfall in Central Park..." actually mean, "According to the security guards at the Central Park Zoo."

I have this image of the sea lions measuring the snowfall now...

The other snippet came from an Op-Ed piece I read this morning, All Clones Are Not the Same by Michael Gazzaniga. The point of the piece is to remind people that there are two different types of cloning, reproductive cloning and biomedical cloning, and that a ban on the first shouldn't be a ban on the second. But most scientists aren't actively attempting reproductive cloning, so the ban on it, says Gazzaniga, is irrelevant:

The volatile issue has been debated again and again, and the president's own largely conservative Bioethics Council (of which I am a member) in 2002 made a big distinction between the two forms of cloning. We voted unanimously to ban reproductive cloning — the kind of cloning that seeks to replicate a human being. We cited many reasons, from biomedical risk to religious concerns to the flat-out weirdness of the idea. But in fact human cloning has not been attempted, nor is it in the works; so it's a theoretical ban in the first place, like banning marriage between robots.

So now I have this image of pairs of robots storming all our City Halls and Town Halls, demanding the right to marry.

Hm. Perhaps I should have titled this post "Sea Lions and Robots."

Recommendation: Alan Kistler's Comic Book Profiles List

This will probably be mostly of interest to comic book fans.

Back in October, when I was first speculating about Infinite Crisis, I posted a list of links about the first issue of that series. In that same post, I gave a bunch of links to essays by a fellow named Alan Kistler, who is one of the people blogging at Monitor Duty. Mr. Kistler had written a bunch of excellent essays about the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, which I recommended for people who needed to be brought up to speed.

Mr. Kistler has also written quite a few essays detailing the histories of various DC comics characters. I am delighted to see that thanks to my recommendation, he's created a webpage, Alan Kistler's List, which links to all of his essays. His essays include profiles of Aquaman, Braniac, Donna Troy, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Power Girl, Superman, and General Zod, and he plans to add other profiles soon.

The essays are great for people who want to be reminded about their favorite characters. They're also great for people who are less intense about comic books but whose husbands keep badgering them to learn more. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything. :-)

I cannot recommend the essays highly enough. Go read.

(And nag him about getting that Firestorm essay done. I want to read it.)