Posts Tagged ‘biology’

Girls of Summer: Heather Ryan, Miss July 1967

October 21, 2011


Photographed by Bill Figge and Ed de Long.

So, it’s still in the 80’s in my little pocket of the universe— that’s around 30 to you metric friendohs — and I say that calls for one last Girl of Summer. (Don’t call it an Indian Summer; call it Global Warming’s Brief and Only Benefit.)

The lovely and talented Heather Ryan was Playboy‘s Miss July 1967. She is an all-around smashing girl and I’m super-psyched to finally finish the write-up on her. Whatch’all know about unusal pets? Cause this strawberry blonde here’s ’bout to change the game.


Says Heather, I don’t think there’s anything unusual about owning an ocelot, but people always stare when we go walking together.”

(“Call of the Wild.” Playboy, July 1967.)

Not so sure it’s the ocelot they’re double-taking on.

[Heather] currently resides at her family’s Glendale home, on the brink of the canyon: “It’s pretty desolate out there, but we’re lucky that we have no close neighbors, because the ocelot often screams at night.”

(Ibid.)

No couch potatoes looking for a BJ and a Blockbuster night need apply:

“I am,” she says, “fascinated by adventure, and I suppose it pervades most of my tastes. I like actors like Paul Newman, Charlton Heston and Steve McQueen, because they usually portray men who are as untamed as my ocelot.”

(Ibid.)


Speed-loving Heather admits to driving her 1966 Mustang faster on occasion than the law prescribes.

(Ibid.)

Attagirl. Speaking of which, the most terrible Mustang experience befell me this week.

I was running a bit late on my way to work. I headed on to the freeway with a newish Mustang ahead of me. The guy crawled down the ramp and inched his way through the merge, then continued to torture me by poking around in the middle lane, keeping me from getting in to the leftmost, fastest lane.

I was totally shocked. You’re in a Mustang, man! You do not drive a Mustang in the middle lane! Somewhere in Germany, the Cappy just felt a pang in his heart and shook his head, and he didn’t know why: now you know, brother. A guy was driving a Mustang in the middle lane at about 60 mph. I know. It was a scandal.


Though she hasn’t had much exposure to the psychedelics-freedom-love movement currently the kick among West Coast youth, Heather recently witnessed a mass “love-in” at Elysian Park.

(Ibid.)


“I’d never seen such a crew — everybody walking about and presenting the most unlikely gifts, like fruits and flowers, to each other.”

(Ibid.)

But she was not much in to the hippie scene, particularly the men —


TURN-OFFS: Men with long hair, and the unnaturalness of women today.

(“Playmate Data Sheet.” Playboy. July 1967.)

Totally agree. I don’t like long hair on men … sorry long-haired friends, it’s just a personal preference. No long hair, no skinny jeans. Spread the word.

As for Ms. Ryan’s dislike of the “unnaturalness” of women, who can argue with that? Besides girdles and foam butts, there was already plastic surgery and ubiquitous hairpieces. Of course, the problem has only gotten worse. I can only imagine what Ms. Ryan thinks of some of today’s Playboy centerfolds.


Number one favorite shot with a bullet.

AMBITIONS: A legal secretary or model, or perhaps I’ll enter a biological institute and become a laboratory assistant and transcriber.

(Ibid.)

Ms. Ryan did not fulfill those ambitions …

…Because she totally exceeded them. Get it, girl! A wildlife biologist, Ms. Ryan is a published author and has lead all-female eco-tours. Taxidermy is her hobby. In the Playboy article, she mentions enjoying hunting quail and rabbit, so it’s kind of a natural progression.

Ms. Ryan also mentions, when asked what she thinks is a great read, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury’s little masterpiece is one of my top favoritest books of all time, too. I just re-read it last weekend, as I like to read it every year around Halloween. Synchronicity! One of these years when I’ve sufficiently expiated my sins of ignorance to Mr. Auden, I will have to have a “Something Wicked” October.

There are many books I read at special times of year, but Something Wicked is one which I never fail to get toe-curling excited about in my anticipation. The descriptions are gorgeous, the writing crackles and terrifies and moves you — I adore all Bradbury, but I put Something Wicked in the most special, highest place.


Click above to scope the original Playboy article scans; there are pictures included in the spread that are not in this post, so give those a spin!

Cover model Venita Wolfe was photographed by Mario Casilli, who shot the following month’s centerfold: the lovely and talented sweetheart DeDe Lind.

Goethe Month: Theory of Colours, Day 5 — Goethe vs. Newton and a whole lot of Heisenberg with bonus Fermi hotness

July 20, 2010


A famously uncertain doc.

Goethe’s colour theory has in many ways borne fruit in art, physiology, and aesthetics. But victory — and hence, influence on the research of the following century — has been Newton’s. (60)

(Werner Heisenberg, “Bermerkungen zur Theorie der Vielfacherzeugung von Mesonen.” Die Naturwissen-schaften Vol. 39. 1952)
.

Heisenberg was deeply interested in Goethe’s Farbenlehre. He delivered a lecture in 1941 on the differences between Goethe’s and Newton’s color theories, in which he essentially argued that both were right but that what Goethe had done was outline very specifically and accurately the phenomenon of human perception of the spectrum, while Newton’s thrust was more toward definition and demonstration of the spectrum’s essence and proveable existence itself.


Fermi, Heisenberg, and Pauli. Fermi was such a tragic hottie. Do you think he killed himself? I kind of do.

The views Heisenberg espoused of Goethe’s experiments being valid insomuchas they are observably repeatable and scientifically sound have fortunately come to be the modern perception of Goethe’s color theory research — that Goethe was accurately exploring the definition of a physiological, human sense of color and drew credible conclusions about colors and the human eye.

Prior to a re-surge of interest in Goethe’s color theory that began in the 1930’s and was legitimized largely by Heisenberg’s lecture and writing, Goethe’s work had been suffering for most of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century under something of a cloud of suspicion due to his theory’s eclipse by Newton’s with popular physicists. In his book Goethe Contra Newton, British physicist and scholar Dr. Dennis Sepper beautifully describes the shadow of early, dichotomous criticism which hung over Goethe’s Farbenlehre and was part of a larger debate in science:


A characterological or typological trait of the poet prevents him from grasping the real essence of science. On the other hand, the scientist must, to some extent, be open to the demands of spirit, and science is fundamentally part of a grand ethical quest. Goethe’s apparent inability to grasp the essence of Newton’s science reveals the chief differences between those who cultivate imagination and human truth and those who pursue objective truth in nature.

(Sepper, Dennis L. “The Critical Dilemma.” Goethe Contra Newton: Polemics and the Project for a New Science of Color. Cambridge: University Press, 1988. 6.)


via.

I feel like these different thrusts of firstly poetry and science, and secondly the science of physiology and psychology, faith and beauty-based, rather than a perception of a more “hard” science are completely exemplified in the above shot.

A flock of pigeons takes off from the steps of the Hagia Sophia cathedral in Istanbul.

Here is hard, natural science, pure biology, that is also poetry — a bird in flight — and all against the backdrop of human faith as symbolized by the cathedral, which is furthermore situated in one of the oldest cities in modern existence, through which millions of human feet have passed. That is one fucking deep picture of pigeons. Am I right?

That was fun. I think I’ll suss out and post up some other famous critical responses a different day.

Anticipation: Red Queens edition

November 22, 2009

I meant to gather quotes from the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts, but instead I ran across this intriguing wikipedia entry so I pasted that almost in its entirety instead. The entry describes the Red Queen Hypothesis and talks about evolution, sex, genetic arms races, and the “cost” of males.


I have lost the credit for this picture.

The Red Queen’s Hypothesis, or “Red Queen Effect” is an evolutionary hypothesis. The term is taken from the Red Queen’s race in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass.


Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen in the forthcoming Tim Burton movie

The Red Queen said, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” The Red Queen Principle can be stated thus:

“For an evolutionary system, continuing development is needed just in order to maintain its fitness relative to the systems it is co-evolving with.”

The hypothesis is intended to explain two different phenomena: the advantage of sexual reproduction at the level of individuals, and the constant evolutionary arms race between competing species.


“The Queen of Hearts” by Simon Sherry on redbubble

Science writer Matt Ridley popularized the term “the red queen” in connection with sexual selection in his book The Red Queen. In the book, Ridley discussed the debate in theoretical biology over the adaptive benefit of sexual reproduction to those species in which it appears. The connection of the Red Queen to this debate arises from the fact that the traditionally accepted theory (Vicar of Bray) only showed adaptive benefit at the level of the species or group, not at the level of the gene (although, it must be added here that the protean ‘Vicar of Bray’ adaptation is very useful to some species that belong to the lower levels of the food chain).


“Future Queen of Hearts” by Micklyn on redbubble

By contrast, a Red-Queen-type theory that organisms are running cyclic arms races with their parasites can explain the utility of sexual reproduction at the level of the gene by positing that the role of sex is to preserve genes that are currently disadvantageous, but that will become advantageous against the background of a likely future population of parasites.


I don’t know where I got this

Sex is an evolutionary puzzle. In most sexual species, males make up half the population, yet they bear no offspring directly and generally contribute little to the survival of offspring. In fact, in some species, such as lions, males pose a positive threat to live young fathered by other males (although this could be viewed as a manifestation of Richard Dawkins’ so-called selfish gene, whose ‘goal’ is to reproduce itself, which may as a consequence suppress the reproduction of other genes). In addition, males and females must spend resources to attract and compete for mates. Sexual selection also can favor traits that reduce the fitness of an organism, such as brightly colored plumage in birds of paradise that increases the likelihood for an individual to be noticed by both predators and potential mates (see the handicap principle for more on this). Thus, sexual reproduction can be highly inefficient.


This came from an online auction; the crown sold 8-25-09. Not to me.

One possible explanation for the fact that nearly all vertebrates are sexual is that sex increases the rate at which adaptation can occur. This is for two reasons. Firstly, if an advantageous mutation occurs in an asexual line, it is impossible for that mutation to spread without wiping out all other lines, which may have different advantageous mutations of their own. Secondly, it mixes up alleles. Some instances of genetic variation might be advantageous only when paired with other mutations, and sex increases the likelihood that such pairings will occur.


“Princess of Hearts” by Basia McAuley on redbubble

For sex to be advantageous for these reasons requires constant selection for changing conditions. One factor that might cause this is the constant arms race between parasites and their hosts. Parasites generally evolve quickly, due to their short lifespans. As they evolve, they attack their hosts in a variety of ways. Two consecutive generations might be faced with very different selective pressures. If this change is rapid enough, it might explain the persistence of sex.


“Opposite attract” by Jenni Holmada on flickr

Interesting shit, am I right?

A confession: drunken notes on eggs (NSFW)

September 21, 2009

A confession: I often talk to myself and make little notes if I’ve been drinking and am now winding down the night alone. Sometimes I do this with pen and paper, which is always fun, as in the morning I woke up and I had on my nightstand next to me a note on the back of a receipt, which said merely two words: “METRIC HOUR.”

Not my most genius moment, I suspect.

Anyway, I found the following file saved on my computer last night. I had apparently written it Saturday night, when I had done some soul-cleansing and rebaptized myself in the name of Pacifico (for which I paid dearly through the first half of Sunday). I guess I must have been thinking about eggs. I cleaned up the typos, and here is what I think of eggs when I’ve been drinking:

egg–>head with your brain inside–>this recurrent shape and system of structure constistently holds true even at atomic level–>seen not just in biology but also in manmade objects like a lightbulb and its filament–>evolution favors certain shapes which recur all throughout nature and even in our infantile attempts to create artifacts in our lives which we call technology we still mimic these consistent symbols all around us of our own creation (?) and evolution, these insistent reminders of the favored shapes and paradigms

qualities of eggshellness cross applied

the protectiveness of it, the containment, like being a baby in a stomach, weird.
but so illusory
only purpose is to keep safe the object within
the way you can stick your thumb through one
the way they are so fragile, it is the only word, fragile

not sure i can eat them anymore

is it a paradigm, is there a better way? like if cars had not come from the paradigm of horse and buggy, we’d have better designed where the engine is commonly found and solved the bug of rear end collision/fire so that with this one concern addressed there would be propulsion and auto travel would be more rapid and efficient? we still say horsepower because of the power of this paradigm, it grips us so anciently, Jungian and atavistic and engrammed

remember the manicurist and the dentist, the quadripedal machines which predated the chiefly handheld (besides cars which also date from this older and first era of design where people walked and ran and kicked more) tech devices which dominate the present landscape, sewing machines are of course another example!!! need to think about this.

The sad part is I actually know what most of that meant. In fact, that last paragraph is something I’ve been kicking around awhile and will eventually write about. I hope you’re thrilled to be in on the ground level of this.

Oh, and just in case you were thinking that my opinions are all well and good but there’s nothing about breasts or anything particularly cute and oldtimey in this entry, why is that?, here:

Need: met!