Jun 232017

It was just a week ago that the month-long Sampling the Abyss marine biology expedition ended.  While they found thousands of rare deep sea creatures, about a third of which are new to science, they created a major internet sensation and got the most attention when they revealed just one – the Peanut Worm:

And that is NOT a typo – it is Peanut Worm (Sipuncula) – so you should not confuse it with the already discovered Penis Worm (Priapulida).

And of course as a physician, I took it right in stride with an ever so mature reaction:

The Sampling the Abyss mission was comprised of 40 scientists under the auspices of Australia’s Museums Victoria and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation).  It set out on the ship Investigator to explore Australia’s Abyss off its eastern coast down to a depth of 4km (2.5 miles) – some of the most remote and unexplored area on earth in some of its most treacherous waters.

The lead scientist on the mission, Dr. Tim O’Hara, said, “Australia’s deep-sea environment is larger in size than the mainland, and until now, almost nothing was known about life on the abyssal plain.”

He added: “The abyss is the largest and deepest habitat on the planet, covering half the world’s oceans and one third of Australia’s territory, but it remains the most unexplored environment on Earth. We know that abyssal animals have been around for at least 40 million years, but until recently only a handful of samples had been collected from Australia’s abyss.”

To corral new creatures, the team lowered nets to a depth so deep that it took seven hours to reach the ocean floor.  And in addition to looking for new life-forms, the team also used “high-tech multi-beam sonar” for mapping purposes to the previously unexplored area.

One can imagine the environment of the Abyss: crushing pressures, no light, little food and close to freezing temperatures.  So the creatures that call this home have developed extraordinary attributes to survive – from having no eyes, to producing their own light through bioluminescence.  Many are jelly-like, most likely to endure the pressures, while others have partially calcified skeletons and spines.  But they all have one thing in common: they are without a doubt some of the strangest creatures ever discovered.

So let’s meet a few of these new finds, and I’ll try to do them alphabetically.

Bamboo Coral

The delicate bamboo coral skeleton is made up of calcium carbonate with joint like nodes giving them the appearance of bamboo. They are incredibly long-lived with some having been recorded as old as 4,000 years.  And they have growth rings like trees, so it’s hoped they’ll be able to provide a past history of major oceanic events.

Blind Cusk Eel – or Faceless Fish

It has no eyes, and its mouth is underneath.  It’s actually a cusk eel with the scientific name Typhlonus nasus, which is derived from Greek, meaning “blind hake.”



The blob fish was collected at a depth of 2.5km and has soft watery flesh.  It nestles in on the ocean floor, lies very still and then ambushes unsuspecting prey as they pass by.

It’s a close cousin to Mr. Blobby, the social media phenom we’ve all probably seen that was collected in the Tasman Sea in 2003 and was voted the World’s Ugliest Fish in 2013.

Brittle Star – Game of Thrones

This was a new find, so Dr. O’Hara named it the Game of Thrones Brittle Star, Ophiohamus georgemartini, because of its sharp thorns similar to those depicted on the Game of Thrones crown.  It has no eyes and no brain – so I’m sure it’s a republican.  It’s just a protoplasm of pure nerves.

Cookie-cutter Shark

It has perfectly aligned serrated teeth and strange eyes that glow in the dark.  It preys on preys on pretty much anything including dolphins, whales and the occasional unfortunate human, latching onto them before gouging out cookie-sized chunks of flesh.

Dumbo Octopus

Dumbo Octopus flaps its ear-like fins to “fly” or glide through the deep abyss – just like the Disney movie Dumbo elephant.

Lizard Fish

The lizard fish (Bathysaurus ferox) is pretty much just a mouth with sharp hinged teeth.  They live at depths of 1,000-2,500 metres (3,280-8,202 feet) where there is very little food, so they tend to be sparse in number.

At that depth, it tends to be even harder to find a mate than a meal, so they have evolved to become hermaphrodites: they have male and female reproductive organs.  So when they do come across another one they’ll be able to mate – and have cute little baby lizard fishes.

Peanut Worm

They actually do look like a peanut – but it only happens when they are threatened and then assume a defensive posture.  The worm retracts its head inside itself, and so really does look similar to a peanut.

Sea Pigs

They found a herd of sea pigs on the ocean floor.  They act like little vacuum cleaners by using their tube-like feet to move across the floor, hoovering up microorganisms.  They are the only type of sea cucumber with ‘feet’ and tend to gather in large numbers where food is abundant.

Zombie Worm

Zombie worms are 1 to 3 inches long and were first discovered in the bones of a rotting gray whale on the ocean floor.  They have no functioning mouth, digestive tract or anus, but have bacteria that digest whale bone marrow.

They burrow into bones to feed, and according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, they secrete an acid from their skin that dissolves that bone, freeing up the fat and protein.  They then use the symbiotic bacteria living inside the worms to digest the fat and protein.

You can find lots more information at a number of sites – or just Google “Peanut Worm” in the last month, and you’ll find lots more!  But you may want to start w/ the expedition’s own blog site:


Jun 092017

Hot off the presses from the pixels, the Internet definitely enjoyed James Comey testimony yesterday calling Trump a LIAR, “plain and simple.”  So without further ado, let’s enjoy a few Tweets covering the big day.

Hope You Had A Ticket For The Hearing

And If Not, Hope You Found a Comfy Spot to Watch Because …

We Can Agree the GOP Had NO Idea What Was About to Hit Them

Pres. Obama & I had the same reaction to my senator’s (Blunt) stupid opening question:

Me hearing Marco Rubio is up next

Me waiting for Sen. McCain epic incoherent blathering to end

But How McCain Saw His Performance – If He Were Honest

My reaction to Sen. Kamala Harris superb questioning laying a great foundation for follow-ups (maybe this is where I can use the legit medical abbreviation of F/U – as in “You need to come back in a week for a recheck”)

Me reacting to republicans trying to claim Trump did nothing inappropriate

Me Reacting To Twitler Personal Lawyer Claiming Trump Is Vindicated And Comey Is A Liar

And a Shot of White House Aides Working to Keep Trump from His Phone

And Rep. Maxine Waters Cloes with a Good Take On the Day's Testimony

Jun 022017

It’s a profoundly sad comment on a president when the highlight of his (hopefully truncated term) is having made up a nonsensical word.  But it looks like Twitler reached the Zenith of his presidency (probably accidentally) when he Tweeted out the neologism “Covfefe” – which he or someone deleted a few hours later, so all we have are screen captures.

So to mark this solemn occasion, I thought we should revisit some of the better takes on “Covfefe” – the “Meme of the Week” – because it’s all downhill from here on out.  (Not that he reached any peaks prior to this – but “Covfefe” is probably going to be as good as it gets … *sigh*.)

I realize that you've probably seen a number of them already, so I doubt you’ll laugh your covfefe off.  But I do hope some of them will provide a chuckle, or at least a smile.

From the “Obama-Biden Bromance Meme”, I think Joe actually followed through on this one

And the reaon is because this was the most popular definition:

And right away, there was Spicey defending it by doing his normal bang-up job of lying:

And Kellyanne Conway joined in circling the wagons by explaining where the word came from

Leave it to the Trump clan (?Klan?)  to try and make a buck off of it …

Well, RC Cola decided that they weren’t going to be left out of the entrepreneurial effort

And just when I was about to head out the door to buy some RC Cola, we learned that it was a rogue account and is now suspended. 

But this Big Boy restaurant had more success


And even “Wheel of Fortune” got in on the act

But “Covfefe” does have a couple of serious medical issues to be concerned about

And an even bigger concern for all of us was this …

But the one we all hope and pray is true is this translation:



May 262017

It’s been months since Twitler has had to share center stage with anyone.  But on his foreign trip this week, Melania and Pope Francis were also there – and it didn’t go all that well for Donnie.  And if you don’t think Twitler lusts for demands the starring role at center stage, take a look at his thuggish behavior that he showed to Montenegrin prime minister, Dusko Markovic yesterday.

On their arrival in Israel, Melania took matters into her own hand, so to speak.  There is absolutely no doubt that when Twitler tried to hold her hand walking down the red carpet on the tarmac, she swatted it away.

But you have to wonder if Donnie didn’t say something to her, because at the next attempt at hand-holding when arriving in Rome, she was much subtler in her avoidance by instead quickly fixing her hair.

Melania has clearly learned that Donnie requires constant adoration and affirmation.  That was sadly evident by keeping an eye on her during his inauguration.

But his inauguration was filled with episodes documenting his disdain for women in general – even including his wife.  But the Obamas came to Melania's rescue. 

Then again, we always knew the Obamas were gracious and loving people as evident in this clip.  And please note the caring squeeze Michelle gives her Marine escort’s hand as he departs.

So is it any wonder the Tiffany-wrapped giftbox that Melania gave to the Obamas on the White House porch steps actually held an urgent plea?

Then later this week there was the meeting with Pope Francis which also didn’t go well …

And the remarkable thing is that Pope Francis is quite a jovial, fun-loving guy … usually

But I swear the expressions in this photo …

Show that three out of four people are filled with abject fear that God’s “Smiting Lightning Bolt” might go wide!  (Feel free to add you own Caption in the comments.)

However, there is a very simple explanation as to why the Pope is not happy having Donnie around …

Sadly, Twitler’s travels will be coming to an end soon, and I guess we’ll have to take him back.  *sigh*

You think we can book him for another foreign junket … SOON?  I’d vote to send him to Somalia – but I’m open for suggestions.


May 212017

We’ve all enjoyed the Bribe & Emoluments Light Show that artist Robin Bell projected onto the Trump Hotel in Washington, DC this past week.  But in case you missed it, a quick review

While it's great to know where to send the Bribes – the Bigger Question we have is: Where do we send all the upcoming subpoenas?

And Mr. Bell's own Tweet of it as a video:

This is not the first time Artist Bell has entertained the public with a creative political light show message for the masses.  In fact Bell is so dedicated that he has designed a specially-equipped van from which he projects his light shows, after creating them with Photoshop and his projection-mapping software.

And so happens there actually was a more recent one involving Attorney General Sessions – “Sessions Must Go” – at DOJ)


NOTE:  You have to click on the little movie projector icon, and then click to run the video below]

The Bribe-Emoluments light show at the Trump Hotel lasted just about 10 minutes before security personnel from the hotel asked him to quit.  And when he didn’t, they physically moved to stand in front of the projection, blocking it.  But I was wondering if Bell’s provocative and creative light shows are legal.  Could he be charged with criminal trespassing?

You may remember it was just a week ago that reporter Dan Heyman was arrest for “willful disruption of government processes.”  Heyman tried to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question about how the GOP AHCA would impact victims of domestic violence.  The criminal complaint accused him of a misdemeanor — “willful disruption of governmental processes” — and said he was “aggressively breaching the secret service agents.”

So there is clearly a legitimate concern by the media if Trump thugs trying to shut down the press’ First Amendment rights. 

Fortunately for Mr. Bell to the question of criminal trespassing charges, the answer is “Probably not.”

Looking into it, there actually is case law addressing this issue: Int'l Union of Painters & Allied Trades Dist. Council 15 Local 159 v. Great Wash Park, LLC.

The court ruled that while the union had no First Amendment right or labor law right to project a message onto an employer’s wall, it also held that the projection itself is not against the law.

Trespassing cases generally revolve around if there were “invasion of land through a physical, tangible object” – or torts “when intangible matter, such as particles emanating from a manufacturing plant, cause actual and/or substantial damage to the [property].”

But virtually all “light trespass” cases involved ambient light “leaking or diffusing” onto private property – like from construction lighting or drive-in movie theater.

But a projected light show is designed to send a specific message, so it could not be considered “ambient”.  But the court ruled that unless a light show lasted an excessively long time, or happened to shine into the room of a paying guest – it would not meet the criteria of criminal trespassing.

However, it would most likely reach the standards for a tort of nuisance. 

But Mr. Bell proudly has announced that other light shows will continue to follow.

Seems appropriate to end with a message from our own creative Light Brigade last winter in Madison, WI:



Friday Fun In Absentia

 Posted by at 6:58 am  Politics
May 122017


I’m going to have to take a pass on posting today.  While getting ready for bed, my Mom tripped on the bedcover and fell the other evening.  I got called and she was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

So I’ve been tied up w/ medical things the past couple of days.  They didn’t find anything major, and she’s back in her Assisted Living apartment.  But she “just doesn’t feel well.”

They did find signs of a UTI and she’s on a broad-spectrum antibiotic – so I’m not sure if it’s that, or if she picked up a bug while in the ER.  Lord knows they’re plenty of them in an ER.

Hopefully things will settle down, and I’ll be “back in the saddle” next Friday.