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Comment: Notable achievement, but hardly revolutionary (Score 2, Interesting) 51

by alleycat0 (#48901909) Attached to: A Call That Made History, 100 Years Ago Today

With all due respect to the accomplishment, recall that transcontinental telegraphs had been operating for over half a century prior to this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Transcontinental_Telegraph), and the transcontinental telephone was strictly a wealthy person's luxury at the time, with a 3-minute call costing USD $20.70 at the time (worth something on the order of USD $400 in today's currency)...

Comment: Wrong word? (Score 1) 105

by alleycat0 (#48850661) Attached to: President Obama Will Kibbitz With YouTube Stars

"Kibbitz" (or "kibitz") is a Yiddish term meaning, "to offer unsolicited advice". Until very recently, this is the only meaning i'd heard for this term, but lately people appear to be using it to simply mean, "converse" (or perhaps more precisely, "engage in small talk"). I understand that language evolves and word meanings change, but if this is indeed the case with "kibbitz" it would be a real shame, because the word in its original sense is useful for conveying a concept concisely that otherwise cannot be conveyed in English using a single word...

Comment: What about the microbiome (Score 1) 187

Recent studies have elucidated the importance of a creature's microbiome (especially gut flora) to its digestive capabilities and overall health. How healthy can an animal whose microbiome is extinct be (unless it inherits a suitable microbiome from its surrogate elephant mother)?

Comment: Re:Temple in the picture is not Noh mul, it's Lami (Score 1) 276

by alleycat0 (#43728251) Attached to: Mayan Pyramid In Belize Leveled By Construction Crew

I spent two seasons in the mid-1980s excavating at Nohmul, and can put a rest to some of the speculation here.

Nobody in this region is unaware of the nature of these ruins, nor their significance. This part of the country is flat limestone plains, and it is generally understood that any small hills are in reality ancient ruins.

The site draws almost no tourists whatsoever (it is almost entirely unrestored), so liability is not a concern. While not amongst the better known sites, it had much historic value nonetheless, which is why it was the subject of numerous investigations by Cambridge and Rutgers Universities, National Geographic, etc. The destruction of one Nohmul's primary structures for road fill is indeed a tragedy. The gentleman who owned the site when I excavated there would never have let this happen, but I suspect that ownership changed hands in the interim.

Comment: What about microfauna? (Score 1) 209

It is estimated that bacteria alone (only one component of our microbiome) far outnumber human cells. I'm not totally up on my modern biology, but i suspect that the situation with birds is comparable; could any species be resurrected successfully in the absence of its associated microfauna?

"The algorithm to do that is extremely nasty. You might want to mug someone with it." -- M. Devine, Computer Science 340