The Bronx is beautiful

This may be my favorite song about the beauty of this nation, but it’s hard to find on YouTube.

What’s going on chez vous?

SEC Championship Open Thread

I should have made you pay me to do this.

Open Thread: Candles in the Darkness

So I missed wishing everybody a Happy first night of Chanukah, but commentor J. at J-Two-O gives me a chance to rectify my oversight…

As an animist, and a progressive, I believe in celebrating every possible festival of lights. The Neopagan calendar’s four cross-quarter festivals are Imbolc (candles), Beltane (bonfires), Lammas (hearthfires) and Samhain (lanterns). Those of you who follow other traditions are gonna have to send me emails (click my name near the top of the right-hand column) to bring me up to speed, though… I know there must be some wonderful Diwali YTs…


As an alternative for the grinches militant atheists among us, Mozilla is sponsoring a red panda webcam at the Knoxville Zoo (h/t Gawker).

If red panda cubs can’t improve your mood, well… got any suggestions?

Readership capture writ large

I thought I’d do the reader blogs early today, before anyone dips into their Four Loko stockpile.

  • Dolphin Kazoo wonders if the Greeks will become Godless communists like the Cubans.
  • Emily Hauser reports back from the Holy Lands.
  • Cheryl Rofer says meet the arsenic boss, same as the phosphorous boss.
  • Libby Spencer is angry that OFA wants people to write letters in support of the federal worker wage freeze.
  • WeSeeYou unearths a motherlode of live YouTube of the Reverend.  If you don’t enjoy this, you hate America.
  • Raked recommends a Daphne Zuniga Lifetime Christmas movie to enjoy over a cup of General Foods International Coffee.

Arsenic and outer space old lakes

Suck on this, carbon-based life forms:

At its conference today, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe-Simon will announce that NASA has found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today. Instead of using phosphorus, the bacteria uses arsenic. All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, shares the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same.

But not this one. This one is completely different. Discovered in poisonous Mono Lake, California, this bacteria is made of arsenic, something that was thought to be completely impossible. While Wolfe-Simon and other scientists theorized that this could be possible, this is the first discovery. The implications of this discovery are enormous to our understanding of life itself and the possibility of finding beings in other planets that don’t have to be like planet Earth.

Update: h/t Origuy.

Update update. h/t Zandar too.