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Did some good proofreading today, all about parasites who affect the host's behavior. Mostly not about humans. Mostly rats, mice, and crabs. There's a parasite (Toxoplasma gondii) that needs to be in a rat/mouse's body for part of its life cycle, then in a cat's body for another. It affects the rat/mouse's brain so that the rodent doesn't react to the smell or presence of a cat -- it's instinct to flee or hide doesn't trigger. It just goes about its business, making it easy prey. I think it's cool that a parasite can do something to a rat's brains to cause it to get caught by a cat, in order to continue the parasite's life. Funky!

It absolutely poured rain much of today. It was sunny for a brief while in the afternoon, so Shannon and I went for a walk to the library. We missed the rain entirely. We were also getting some pretty impressive thunder and slightly less impressive lightning much of the day. Poor Lucy was terribly scared of the thunder. We haven't experienced much of it in her lifetime.

I started listening to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on audiobook today, and I think I may be too much of a Jane Austen purist to appreciate it fully. Some favorite lines of dialogue have been altered, much to my dismay. I'm okay with stuff straight from P&P, and I'm okay with stuff that's new, but when they summarize events/opinions/impressions in a different order than the original (like saying that Darcy is really just misunderstood and isn't really a bad guy ... right at the beginning of the book!), or when they mess with the dialogue, I don't much like it. Also, all ll I know about zombies is that they dance with Michael Jackson, they eat brains, Anita Blake can control them with chicken blood, and they bring about an apocalypse, so I may not be appreciating all the zombie stuff. Well, I'm not giving up on it yet.

Oh, also, at a ball, Elizabeth Bennett beheaded several zombies with a dagger she'd taken from its sheath at her ankle. I couldn't really imagine beheading anyone with a knife small enough to not impede dancing. Maybe zombies are easy to behead? Or am I doing my not-suspending-disbelief thing again? Shannon hates when I point out problems like these. He says I should just relax and go with the story, rather than always looking for problems. But I think it's the proofreader in me. I'm trained to notice problems.

Tomorrow morning is therapy. I hope it isn't pouring rain!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
I got a chapter or two into P&P&Z, and just gave up and re-read the Austen. I like the idea of it, but the book itself just didn't work for me.

I'm in no sense a Jane Austen purist -- but, well, I think you need to be a MUCH better writer to put your writing right next to Austen's writing and have it mesh. Average writing is usually just fine by me, but when you put average writing next to Austen's writing, the "average writing" just becomes unreadable by comparison.
Jan. 20th, 2010 03:17 am (UTC)
Also, about toxoplasmosis: toxoplasma gondii can also live quite happily in human brains. The vast majority of the time, it's, apparently, completely asymptomatic. It CAN, in some cases, interfere with pregnancy, which is why pregnant women are supposed to avoid changing litterboxes.

However . . . there is some evidence that toxoplasma gondii causes personality changes in HUMANS, too.

It causes a bunch of small changes that, in aggregate, generally could be summed up as "it makes us nicer."

Also, people who are toxoplasmosis-positive are more likely to like cats. But the causation is quite probably the other way around: if you like cats, you're likely to have more of them around, and therefore have more opportunity to be exposed to toxoplasmosis.

I generally assume that I'm toxoplasmosis-positive, myself. And, frankly, that most of my friends are, too.
Jan. 20th, 2010 06:37 am (UTC)
Our mutual friend Janet thinks P&P&Z is completely worthless, which is enough nonrecommendation for me.
Jan. 21st, 2010 08:37 am (UTC)
That bit about Toxoplasmosis is really neat. I think as we look more for them, we'll find more instances in nature where a parasite spends part of its life in a predator & its prey in the wild. A friend of mine researches one that starts in crickets and completes its life in field mice and chipmunks. The whole idea of a parasite or microorganism hijacking my brain to make me do something it wants me to do (I experienced this with a UTI years ago) is rather creepy. Fascinating, but creepy. :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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