Posts tagged: Biology

Dollhouse S2E12: The Hollow Men

Mistah Kurtz- he dead.

The Hollow Men

A penny for the Old Guy

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us – if at all – not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.
Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer -
Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.
Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

All right, so for those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, this post is about the latest (and penultimate) episode of Dollhouse, so: SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. (There are also other Buffyverse spoilers, obviously.)

I watched the episode for the first time with Ian on Sunday night (Monday early morning, I guess), and I couldn’t help but notice similarities to what has happened in Joss Whedon’s other works (as well as other random things), so I thought I’d note them and also ask if other people saw other references or were reminded of other things. Here goes then:

“Caroline, you are definitely interesting. At least on a microscopic level.” This line reminds me of Dark Angel, when they try to pull some bullcrap about how Max’s DNA is special because “there is no junk DNA.” Uh, what? What the heck is considered “junk DNA”? What about telomeres? We don’t even understand the regulatory role that many segments of what was once thought to be “junk DNA” — it’s possible that none of us have any “junk DNA” (which, for this argument, I’m interpreting as “superfluous DNA that does not affect the phenotype”) for all we know. But going back to Dollhouse: I was thinking, there’s not going to be something just amazingly special about Caroline, is there? That would be … special. A stupid plot device. You get the idea.

(I’m sorry, but I need to take a moment to comment that Adelle looks totally badass with that automatic rifle.)

“But if I turn evil, shoot me.” Angelus, anyone? When they remove his soul, he tells them that Connor (if I remember correctly? It’s possible that he says this to multiple people) is in charge of killing him if he gets loose and/or something else goes wrong. And Cordy tells Angel something similar during one of their training sessions as well. I think the dialogue is along the lines of, “So what do I do after [disabling move]?” “Oh, you don’t need to know that. That move will hold the attacker long enough for me to get to you and save you.” “What if you’re the one I’m fighting?”

“What did you do with her?” “I guess I just sort of evicted her.” TOTAL SPOILER FOR ANGEL. This is just like what happened to Fred; Illyria pushed her out of her body.

(I have to take another moment here and say that Ripley (of the Alien series) is awesome. Also, I have a question: did Topher really take the time to reprogram Anthony’s personality with both new fighting skills and new memories so that he knew that he was supposed to come out the other end enhanced with those fighting skills?)

“You’re here ’cause you’re my family. I love you guys.” Barney, I think. “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family….” Yeah, um…this was totally cheesy and Boyd’s line felt so fake.

“Look at you, Topher. Risking your life for the cause, choosing morality over self-preservation.” This vaguely reminds me of Anya, because she ran away at the end of season three, but stayed for the apocalypse at the end of season five, as well as season seven.

(Taking another moment: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. It makes no sense that Mellie is able to override her sleeper protocol.)

“The entire process is designed to extract your spinal fluid without killing you.” That extraction device is definitely similar in design to the device that was used to extract blood from humans in the alternate reality that was in “The Wish” (and “Doppelgangland”).

(Last aside, maybe: Why the heck is there more blood on Ballard’s face when he runs into Boyd than there was immediately after he got splattered with Mellie?)

Overall: This episode was less good than the last few, and I’m really not sure how I feel about the explosive ending (in that I don’t buy it, not that I’m not sure whether it was the “right” thing to do or anything). I am still excited to see what happens in the final episode; I’m hoping that it will connect some of the flashbacks from “Epitaph One” and show us what happens when Echo and Ballard return to the dollhouse to save everyone.

Biology BS Filter and … Why It Sucks To Be A Girl?

From my personal class (-i bio):

Me: I should have something better than a generic BS filter.
Ian: bullshit?
Me: Yes.
Me: I often can tell when people are bullshitting about basic biology, but asking me to spew it and remember terminology off the top of my head is somewhat more difficult. Then again, I learned most of that stuff >9 years ago, and last ~reviewed it >6 years ago, so … can I be forgiven for being rusty?

This seems like a similar problem to how Real Mathematicians tend to lose practice with arithmetic and are slower at it than an elementary school student might expect a person “who does math all day” to be. Over my years in the laboratory, I’ve spent more time dealing with immunology- and cancer-related terminology than the basic terminology taught in general/introductory biology classes, so while I can mostly remember what various terms mean when they’re being used to explain things to me, and thus can detect BS reasonably well, I probably couldn’t actually explain some basic biology terms the way that I feel that I ought to be able to.

I feel guilty about this, but it really is a matter of practice and common usage, I think. Most of that basic biology is stored in my implicit memory, so recalling it from no particular starting point is difficult. So while I feel guilty for not knowing basic terms/principles as well as I could, the only real solution is to use them more often, or else spend time reviewing them (which, in my opinion, setting aside chunks of time for is silly, since the time could probably be more effectively used and/or the material could be more efficiently reviewed).

I vaguely wonder if this is related to language usage. There is this common phenomenon that one remembers a foreign language much more quickly than might be expected when immersed in the environment, and I feel that it is similar (for me, at least, and probably for many/most other people as well) both with languages and different kinds of jargon. For example, I’m reasonably confident that it would take me some time rambling/thinking about immunology before I could just spew about it and use the jargon as fluently as I did when I was actually doing immunology work, but it would come back to me faster if I were inserted into an environment where other people were throwing around jargon (although it would take considerably less time in both cases for cancer terminology, I imagine).

Of course, this is just a specific area of general knowledge recall, I suppose, although I am inclined to say that knowledge recall is slightly more explicit than implicit. Then again, the split between explicit and implicit memory is probably not that distinct for specific topics (e.g. some of my biology knowledge is probably explicit, and some of it is probably implicit), and implicit memory can be analyzed to make it explicit, which is what teachers who are “experts” in a field but relatively new to teaching (e.g. me) do in order to be able to convey it to their students; for that matter, it is how people communicate ideas in general, to some extent.

Speaking of which, I’ve been asked to enumerate/expound upon the reasons “Why It Sucks To Be A Girl.” (Feel free to contribute additional reasons/comments or ask for clarification in the comments.) Having at it, then (disclaimer: I do not guarantee the veracity of the statements below, nor even that they accurately represent my opinions; spending time trying to figure out how to address every edge case or wording ambiguity is not part of the exercise here, nor is it something I’m willing to spend time on right now, and besides, these are very much intended to be broad, sweeping generalizations that don’t hold water in the face of anecdata) ….

Girls are generally expected to dress “better” than guys, or have a better fashion sense, or something. For guys, it seems more acceptable to dress casually, because they have more of a need for functionality, while girls are here just to look pretty. For example, guys can claim to need to carry tools around on their belts, whereas if a girl wants to, she meets more resistance. Another observation that has been made time and time again is that while wallets made for girls/women are at least the same size, if not larger than, wallets that are made for guys, the pockets in girls’/womens’ clothing are considerably smaller than the pockets of guys’ clothing. What does this mean? Essentially, girls are forced to carry purses (or backpacks). I don’t know about the rest of you, but personally, I rather dislike purses. What else…oh yeah, what’s with this whole high heel thing? There’s so much suggestion in the media that this/that is more attractive/feminine, but how it is practical AT ALL? Moving on to makeup…it really just gets everywhere. Do I really want lipstick smeared everywhere after kissing, or foundation smeared everywhere if I want to rest my head on someone’s shoulder? And eye makeup? Gets into your eyes and dries them out. Very irritating, both physically and otherwise. And how does this all play out in a work environment? I’ve been told that more attractive women get paid more and promoted more. While this is probably true for both men and women, it feels more excusable for men to be slightly more unkempt/disorganized. And don’t even get me started on things that are actually biologically-related…(although here I go anyway:) when women moved into the workforce and we finally got to the point where men stopped freaking out about it, society basically seemed to say, “Fine, you want to work and all that? You still have to deal with all of this childbearing/child-rearing crap.” (Yes, “crap” is probably not the word I want, or maybe I am using it to refer to the negative aspects of pregnancy and “womanhood” and such.) So prime time for reproduction for women falls somewhere in the twenties, which is also the point at which careers are supposed to be worked on heavily and possibly take off. What happens if you wait on one or the other? Waiting to work on one’s career generally works less well than in theory, because going back to school/work is *very* hard after children. Waiting to have kids is also less-than-ideal because of the increased risk of things going wrong in the pregnancy. And doing both at the same time…I think the solution of most women in such a position is to hire a (live-in) nanny, which, some of those mothers say, gives them less contact with their children than they might like. The other solution, of course, is heavier involvement from the father, but that depends heavily on the relationship. Anyway, this basically segues to the whole double-standard in society that so many people have remarked upon between men and women. Sure, sexism is much less prominent these days as compared to some number of decades ago, but the double standard is still there, and it sucks.

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