Some plants talk to each other on the genetic level

“So, how do you feel about tendril sex?”

Whether or not plants hear and talk to us, they sure talk among themselves – some of them, at least. This has been established by scientific research in the past: plants communicate to each other via signals in the form of chemicals. Some species of plants, in fact, have sophisticated means of interacting with others of their kinds: while some can share genetic information, others send warning messages of possible insect attacks. The former form of communication entails parasitic plants attaching onto their hosts.

Dodder, which is a parasite, attaches onto the other plant known as Arabidopsis, stealing some of its nutrients in the process via an appendage. However, to have their meal of nutrients, Dodder has to first identify its host. It was previously thought that it uses chemicals to do so. Now, a new study has demonstrated that dodder uses a genetic method: it exchanges RNA with the plant. These two plants thereby ‘talk’ to each other as they exchange pieces of mRNA.

What do they say to each other then? Mystery, mystery. Perhaps, Dodder signals its host to ‘allow’ it to drain its nutrients by tricking it to lower its defenses?

The picture says it all.

Thanks, Mike

Michigan state coppers fight DWI with talking urinal cakes

In an effort to cut down on drunken driving, the state is distributing the totally awesome named Interactive Urinal Communicators to some bars, restaurants and other drinkaterias in Wayne, Bay, Ottawa and Delta counties.

Yup, talking urinal cakes.

Four hundred of the cakes will be distributed to 200 eateries prior to July Fourth, said Anne Readette, spokeswoman for the Office of Highway Safety Planning, a division of the Michigan State Police…”We’re doing this to draw attention to Fourth of July drunk driving enforcement,” Readette said…

Actually the cakes offer a message that is short, sweet and entirely nonjudgmental: “Listen up. That’s right, I’m talking to you. Had a few drinks? Maybe a few too many?

“Then do yourself and everyone else a favor: Call a sober friend or a cab. Oh, and don’t forget to wash your hands.”

The cakes are about $21 each, last for about three months and your federal tax dollars pay for them.

If they do any good, I guess I shouldn’t complain. I still don’t know about having a conversation with a urinal, though.

Combat veterans may be helped by talking about killing

The act of killing is as fundamental to war as oxygen is to fire. Yet it is also the one thing many combat veterans avoid discussing when they return home, whether out of shame, guilt or a deep fear of being misunderstood.

But a new study of Iraq war veterans by researchers in San Francisco suggests that more discussion of killing may help veterans cope with an array of mental health problems stemming from war.

The study, published in The Journal of Traumatic Stress, found that soldiers who reported having killed in combat, or who gave orders that led to killing, were more likely to report the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse, anger and relationship problems…

Shira Maguen…the principal investigator on the study, said the results suggested that mental health professionals need to incorporate killing more explicitly into their assessments and treatment plans for veterans. That would include finding ways to discuss the impact of killing, in public forums and in private treatment, to reduce the stigma and shame, she argued…

Mental health experts said the new study confirmed findings from research on Vietnam veterans and did not break much new ground. But they said it underscored that treating stress disorder among veterans is often very different from treating it in people who, say, have been raped or have been in car accidents.

People don’t understand the moral ambiguity of combat and why it is so hard to get over it,” said Rachel Yehuda, a professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “What makes combat veterans ill is not always about being a victim, but, in some instances, feeling very much both a perpetrator and a victim at the same time…”

Some experts said military law had also complicated therapy by having unclear rules about when a soldier’s conversations with a therapist are protected from legal action. The mere threat that those conversations could be used in war crimes prosecutions discourages many troops and veterans from seeking counseling, those experts say.

My closest friend was our home state’s most decorated soldier in WW2.

He was in parachutes reconnaissance – dropped behind enemy lines to work his way back and record everything of military importance. Still, the toughest memory he tried to excise from those missions was crawling through a field up to a German sentry apparently sleeping against a tree – plunging a knife into his chest to kill him – and discovering that he already was dead from a bullet wound.

Something we revisited time and again.

Darwin Award candidate

A woman may have been distracted by talking on her cellphone when she walked into the side of a truck and was crushed to death under its wheels on Front Street in downtown Toronto, police said.

According to investigators, a delivery truck was making a turn from Blue Jays Way onto Front Street just as the 28-year-old woman started across Front Street. Because she was on her cellphone at the time, police said, she didn’t notice the truck, and walked right into the side of it. She fell to the street and was run over by the truck’s rear wheels, police said.

“There’s no way to say definitively yes or no, but it certainly didn’t help that she was talking on the phone while trying to cross a relatively busy street,” said police Sgt. Steve Burrows.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have not released her name.

Police have not announced any charges against the driver of the truck.

She certainly qualified.