In which I lose my mind. Also, carnivals!

May 5, 2009

Like unto the great Pacific Ocean, the Oyster’s Garter appears peaceful and empty. Yet it filled with treacherous riptides and unexpected stingrays as I slip ever deeper into the twilight midwater of huge piles of work. Does that analogy even make sense? What with 2 hours of sleep, I can’t tell. BEHOLD THE GLAMOUR OF MARINE BIOLOGY!

While I toil and moil, please enjoy two fine carnivals. Frankly, I haven’t read anything in them, but I’m sure many delights await. The Carnival of the Blue is up at Sea Notes, and the Carnival of Evolution is up at Oh, for the Love of Science!


Make your own zombie! (using common household ocean creatures)

April 3, 2009

Miriam invited me to guestblog while she is creeping along the stormy coast of California. So here is my first foray into blogospace, a handy do-it-yourself guide for how to turn your enemies into the walking dead.

VOODOO ZOMBI (makes 1)

  • 1 mortal enemy
  • 1 puffer fish liver
  • gloves, paint brush
  • easy-to-open coffin

Take puffer fish. Wearing gloves, extract liver. With paintbrush, apply liver liberally to enemy. Let sit for a few seconds. Place paralyzed enemy in coffin. Bury. In 12-48 hours, zombified enemy should emerge. If not, don’t get discouraged, just use a little less liver next time.

The secret ingredient in this recepie is tetrodotoxin (TTX to those in the know). The poison is named for the fish in the order Tetraodontiformes (puffers and relatives) where it was first discovered, although it is also made by many other kinds of fish (including lionfish), bacteria, the blue-ring octopus, rough-skinned newts, chaetognaths (yay!), and various other nasty denizens of the damp. For any rabid sushi-eaters out there, this is the substance responsible for Fugu poisoning, which nearly killed Homer Simpson in season 2.

Read the rest of this entry »


“It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

February 3, 2009

There’s not one, but TWO Jane Austen-inspired zombie novels coming out. How will I choose between “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and “Jane Bites Back?” While the first includes the original text of the Regency classic, juiced up with ‘all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem,'” the second features “an undead Jane Austen who, after 200 years of writer’s block, takes revenge on everyone making money off of her.”

In other zombie-related news, Texas has suffered a zombie infestation that the authorities cleverly passed off as “hackers from changing messages on digital road signs.” But we know better, oh  yes.

Thanks, Kevin Z and Mary!


Have a vintage apocalypse for Halloween

October 31, 2008

Zombie movies are on the rise, clearly indicating a time of war and social unrest. I09 has a handy chart:

Clearly, the only way to fight the zombies is to go back to an earlier, purer time, untainted by the smell of rotting undead flesh and the moans of the encroaching hordes. Bring on the alien invaders from Mars! Orson Welles’ 1938 radio play, The War of the Worlds, is available as a free streaming broadcast!

I heard a bit of it last night, and I promise you that 70 years has not made it one little bit less terrifying. Had I been around for the original broadcast, there is a reasonable chance that I would have packed the car full of bread and fled.

Fortunately, the Grovers Mill Martian Landing Site Monument provides needed closure to any traumatized by the Martian invasion. How comforting. Until the zombies get you.

Links via Metafilter, chart via Boing Boing


I’m going to call a group of sexy zombies a “slouch.”

October 22, 2008

It’s midterm time, which means that instead of actual science, The Oyster’s Garter brings you the very latest in sexy zombie paraphernalia. No, I can’t believe that four different sexy-zombie-related links came my way in a single week, either.

  • Feeling unprepared for the zombie apocalypse? Zombie Tools is selling actual sharp weapons designed to slay the undead. And anyone still pining for Faith will find comfort in an entire photo gallery of hot goth girls slaying zombies. (Via Chaos Theory)
  • You, too, can be zombie cheesecake with this sexy zombie nurse costume. Or perhaps you’d prefer to be a sexy zombie fairy? I need to stop now or my brain will explode, and then the zombies will eat it.

“She knows. She’s programmed. And she’s ready.”

October 13, 2008

Another entry for Karen’s Scientist Pin-Up contest. Though this 1967 ad for cigarettes features a lab technician, not a scientist (everyone knows that being a PI leads to a wandering womb), she is wearing glasses and a white coat. But with that blank stare, she doesn’t look brainy, she looks like she wants BRAAIIIIINS.

Text:

Underneath that pocket of pencils there beats the heart of a digital computer. This girl has already catalogued and cross-indexed the Tiparillo slim, elegant shape. And the neat, white tip. She knows that there are two Tiparillos. Regular, for a mild smoke. Or new Tiparillo M with menthol, for a cold smoke. She knows. She’s programmed. And she’s ready. But how about you? Which Tiparillo are you going to offer? Or are you just going to stand there and stare at her pencils?

AIEEE! She’s programmed…TO EAT YOUR BRAINS AND DECORATE HER LAB WITH YOUR VISCERA!

Via Sociological Images.


THIS will get those damn kids off your lawn.

August 11, 2008

Zombies are the new garden gnome. Although this one does not recite haiku.


Oceanographers fight crime!

June 3, 2008

Four severed sneaker-clad right feet have washed up in British Columbia just this year, and Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer is on the case. He’s an expert in marine debris, most famous for his work with the wandering rubber duckies. But Dr. Ebbesmeyer also knows how bodies come apart! Is the mild mannered scientist really just a cover for the crime fighter within?

Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer based in Seattle, Wash., said when a human body submerged in the ocean, the main parts like arms, legs, hands, feet and the head are usually what come off the body.

But he’s still baffled by how the exact same part — a right foot — could wash up repeatedly.

“It’s not unusual for body parts to wash up along the United States or Canada,” he said. “There’s so many accidents, like boating. That’s not unusual. It is unusual to find four bodies over the course of the year and just right feet.”

He said his theory is that the feet came along as a result of an accident that might have happened up along the Fraser River, that washed down and spread out along the Straight of Georgia.

Ebbesmeyer said he would urge the police to trace the shoes back to the store they were purchased.

“There’s a lot you can do with the serial number of a shoe and I’m assuming the RCMP are doing that,” he said.


Totally hot rhizocephalan pics

February 23, 2008

Parasite fans (and I know you’re out there) NEED to check out Deep Sea News’ excellent rhizocephalan pics. You might remember rhizocephalans from this post (they’re the crab-bot zombie barnacles), but never before have you seen them this up close and personal. Maybe I Can Haz Cheezburger needs some of that LOLRhizocephalan?


Insect parasites are like a box of chocolates…

January 22, 2008

Insects are among the most abundant lifeforms on earth, so it’s not very surprising that their parasites are equally abundant. And those parasites take many, many forms – most awesomely disgusting and terrifying.

First in today’s parasite buffet, courtesy of my most excellent friend Sam, is a tasty red berry! Oh, wait, that’s actually an ant. A newly discovered nematode alters the color of its host-ant’s abdomen, making it look like a ripe, delicious berry. As if that isn’t enough, the nematode also makes the ant wave its tasty abdomen in the air (normally a defense posture) and makes the ant taste better by suppressing the ant’s defensive chemicals. Birds eat the ant and poop out the parasite, the ants collect the bird poop & feed it to their larvae, and the cycle begins anew.

Next is Cordyceps, a fungus that can control bugs’ brains. Insects infected with Cordyceps have an uncontrollable urge to climb high up a plant and clamp their jaws tight. The fungus then eats their brain and sporulates out of their head. You really MUST watch this video for the time-lapse zombie-fungus-brain-eating sequences.

Finally, please enjoy hipsters driven mad by the natural world. Cracked.com features The 5 Most Horrifying Insects in the World. It’s the most hysterical (insane, not funny) article I think I’ve ever read – the entire piece reads like one primal scream. I don’t know why they’re so frightening – after all, they left out the bat-eating Amazonian Giant Centipede (video, with Davd Attenborough to soothe you).

Don’t worry. At least it’s not like you’ve got any mind-controlling parasites.

Photo from Neurophilosphy, some links from Metafilter.


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