Toxoplasma Heaven

Those of you who’ve read Peeps will no doubt remember toxoplasma gondii, the cat-borne parasite that can infect humans and change their personality. An old pal of mine, science journalist and blogger Rebecca Skloot, is a bit of an expert on toxoplasma, having written this article on whether the parasite causes “crazy cat-lady syndrome.” Fascinating stuff.

She’s just posted this charming video of a possibly toxoplasma-positive rat who LOVES its little cat friend.

For those of you who haven’t read Peeps, toxoplasma controls its rat host’s brain, making the poor creature seek out cats in hopes of getting eaten. This is because toxoplasma can only reproduce itself in the stomach of a cat. But as Rebecca points out, if the cat takes the pacifist route and simply refuses to eat the rat, it can stay uninfected.

Your move, Mr. Parasite.

In Other News

Justine is blogging writing advice for all of January. Many great posts and lots of good discussion about point-of-view, generating ideas, and how to get unstuck.

Stephenie Meyer fansite Twilight Moms has declared my Midnighters series its Book of the Month. Join the Twilight Moms discussion here. (Well, you have to be a mom, or at least 25, or married to be a Twilight Mom, but you can always read the discussion.)

163 thoughts on “Toxoplasma Heaven

  1. Irene-la: I have a funny Twilight mom story. My mom (who is not a twilight mom, nor am i a twilight girl) was at a basket party (they buy stuff from their friends, don’t ask it’s confusing). Anyway, she told me there was a product survey everyone took. One of the questions was “Something I want more of in my life:” and tons of the moms wrote “EDWARD!” *sigh* My friend’s mom was trying to defend twilight against me. She was all “But he’s so articulate!” No. He uses big words and no contractions. That is not all it takes to be articulate.

    Also, I started reading the series right as Breaking Dawn came out, and everyone told me what happened, so I was like “wtf????” And never read it.

    Eva-la: I don’t like being a follower either, but if I like something that everyone else happens to like, it only mildly annoys me. I tell my friends, you can’t be unique in everything. Oh, and I loved Polly Pockets and Barbies. I had a Polly Pocket Amusement park and a three story Barbie house that was bigger than me. Good times…

    Kate-la: New Moon was my favorite out of the first three books. For a few precious chapters, Bella showed a glimmer a personality. It was fleeting, but I’m pretty sure I saw it.

    An extra for now. 😉

  2. yay for toxoplasma!
    i took Peeps on a trip recently and freaked out my cousins by reading all the even numbered chapters to them. hehehe…

  3. lol I started talking about the one with the snails
    and their eyes and the birds eating them ad so on
    on the way home from school. my friends thought i was nutz

  4. twilight?
    moms reading twilight?


    if you just want a romantic, decent read, fine…

    but if anyone claims it’s brilliant literature >.<

  5. Well i can say this is a relife. I have finally move my best friend from Twilight onto The Midnighters Trilogy and Thank Goodness for that… I went along with the obsession for a while but honestly I’m thinking she took obsessed to a whole new level… I’m just glad she absoloutly LOVED Midnighters… I’m glad because i can finally talk about the books with someone! But this is a really good thing. More and more Twilight fans will move onto Midnighters and that means maybe not a Breaking Dawn Movie! Yay! I swear if they make that movie it may be taking things a little too far….

  6. Aww, that is so CUTE! If I had a rat like that I would force my cat to play with it. Maybe that cat is a vegetarian, and hence cannot eat the mouse. Or maybe it just doesn’t want toxo…

  7. my mom might read Twilight, so that means i might have a twilight mom. i m not reading twilight ever, even though everybody’s like “its soooo good! u would love it” and i always say “how would you know? maybe i will hate it with a passion because i hate it now, so maybe reading it will bring my hate 2a whole new level!!” then they usually leave me alone.=D

  8. I hate Twilight to the moon- wretched cardboard characters, stupid plotlines, brilliaaannnttt messages to teen girls, and sexist. Whoop-de-freakin’-do.

  9. Actually New Moon was my favourite in the series. Maybe it was the Bella-zombie thing that was really really lovely. Or maybe it was because cliff-diving only comes in fifth to hoverboards, nanos, pretty surge, and walking around in blue time with special powers (not in order).

    Andrea-la: Good to see that you have sorted stuff out. =D

    Oh yeah, I’m reading Nana now. It’s a manga by Yazawa Ai, and as those who have read Bogus to Bubbly will know, it is manga that Scott reads. One of my best friends have already read it, and was such a fan that she went and bought the Ren locket from a cosplay shop. So I was totally convinced to read it. And it was good. Really really good.

  10. I like Twilight. I’m one of the people who read it when it first came out, so I wasn’t just in to it cuz it was popular. I don’t like it nearly as much as I did then. But I still think its alright. But I think breaking dawn ruined the series, it SUCKED. Terrible horrible awful suckage. Twilight was my favourite, then Eclipse, then New Moon. Cuz I HATE jacob. Hatehatehate him. So yeah. But I’m not an Edward obsessed fangirl either. Jasper Whitlock Hale Cullen all the way peeps.

  11. My teacher gave us an assinment that we had to pick a topic and one of then topics was “write about your favorite book character” so i did. Guess who wrote about? ZANE! My beloved (i say that while wearing my Team Edward T-shirt. What a disgrace.) Anywho, im tired on the outside but my brain is running 200 mph. I need to slow my roll.

  12. Audrey-Sensei: It’s cool to see other people’s opinions on the books (and other books,) because you think it’s really great. Until everyone rips it to shreds. New Moon probably was the best, and at the time I was freakishly obsessed with Twilight but afterwords it was like ‘Oh. Vampires aren’t real.’ Then you kinda feel crappy.
    Just like when I found out Specials and Hoverboards are far far away. (or not…)

    Trish-la: My friend loves mangas. Just the ones with parental advisories on them..but YAY! I’m happy it was good, I want it now! (Nana) Cosplay sounds so fawesome.

    Ash-la: A breaking dawn movie would be a wreck. Mostly because Stephenie said it herself. With the you-know-what. (incase anyone wants to read it after you guys dissed it.)

    Julie-wa: Definitely NOT a good piece of literature! Amen.

    Andrea-la: Nice post..

    Kenzie-la: Nice rants!

    Bran-la: It’s Ironic that you brought up time machines! For english we had a prompt (what would you do if you had three wishes[and you can’t wish for more wishes]) I wished for hoverboards, a sneak suit and a time machine. However, everyone was like ‘it’d be cool to go back in time!’ and I was like WHY would you want to go BACK in time. The Future is where its at!’
    And it does make sense why you couldn’t go back But whats to stop you from going forward? You may not exist in the future, but hey maybe they’re’ll be jet lag.

    Dahlia-wa: It makes sense in a confusing way. 😀

    Peace everybody.

  13. Aaaaaaaw, poor kitty! XD
    I liked the Twilight series (although Breaking Dawn was a bit anticlimatic), but I’ve liked it a bit less since it became so popular…. Plus, Twilight MOMS?! I’m sorry, it scares me a little bit. Like my English teacher who insist on lecturing us about reading appropriate level books while she goes on reading young adult novels so she can “relate” to us or something *shudders*. But now I guess no one can deny that at the very least, Stephanie Meyer has good taste in trilogies :wink:.

  14. i agree with you, have you read the host by steph? its better that the twilight series. i really didnt like breaking dawn… everything felt too rushed! it was like first she’s pregnant, then the baby’s born, then it’s all of a sudden christmas?
    i know how you feel… my english teach does the exact same thing!
    and the twilight moms freak me out a little…they should read books meant for their age…ADULTS not young adults!

  15. Jay-wa:it would b fun 2 go 2 the future. if i had a choice 2either go 2 the future or the past i would most definitely go 2the future.
    since we r still kinda disgussing Twilight i must say that i’ve pretty much heard all the stuff that goes on in Breaking Dawn and i also hear its boring. i went bowling on Saturday and this lady came up&asked me what happens@the end of breaking dawn because she didn’t feel like finishing it.i said i haven’t read it yet. she probably asked me because i was reading.=D

  16. haha! i woke up at 5:30AM this morning for NO REASON!!!!!! i am SO over-tired in a hyper way!!! well, i guess i did need to wake up KINDA early cuz i need to be at school by 7:00….because of MUSIC CAMP! i’m excited. for school, i get to go on a weekend music camp. tee hee! i’m excited.

  17. Ashely-wa: Future is so much cooler than Past. You learn about the past in history, so yeah. At first Breaking Dawn isn’t boring, and the ending is kind of good (someone should have died) but it goes extremely fast.

    PrettyxMindedxRusty, Becca-la: My teacher doesn’t try at all to relate to us. Which is good, because we all laugh at her anyway. Old people should be able to read YA, but only if it’s not something extremely ‘teen’. Like Uglies, everyone should read it. Twilight is okay for the hormone-crazed teens.

    Andrea-la: Music Camp kind of sounds fun. What do you do there? (besides play instruments, I mean)

  18. After a fierce lobbying effort, Chicago’s Wm Wrigley Jr Co began selling Orbit in Singapore on May 20, 12 years after this famously fastidious nation of four million outlawed the sale of gum. The ban came after someone stuck a wad in the door of a high-speed commuter train, causing a rare delay in scheduled service.

    I found this on the internet (^^^) and according to that, thats why gum is illegal in Singapore. (it also had 999,886 hits. Weird)
    And only pharmasists can sell it.

  19. yay!!!!weekend starts now!!!!=D i m not doing anything this weekend, so it may b boring, but i wil try 2 make it fun.

  20. Ashley-wa: Amen to that! I didn’t think I would make it through the week! Though you know how we’re supposed to get super chilled air from Canada and stuff? My debate teacher thinks we MIGHT not have school because some people have died of exposure! That’d be cool not to have school…
    P.S. Sorry I spelled your name wrong on the 73rd post! I’ve been anti-spelling all day.

  21. Gum is banned in Singapore…?


    Sounds like orthodonist country.


  22. guess what?? we had some australians come to our school for today!! us californians were totally fascinated by their accents…
    Also, i saw that symbol of medicine on a documentary we just watched, and it actually looked like a guinea worm, it had a snake face. I pointed and yelled “IT’S A STICK ON A WORM!! I MEAN A WORM ON A STICK!!! YAY!!” and my parents didn’t get it cause they didn’t remember my gruesome tale of parasites…or maybe they just didn’t want to.

  23. Jay-wa:thats okay that u didn’t spell my name right. 2tell the truth i didn’t even notice.tehe! this sucks! i would have had a snow day 2day if i had school. there is like 9inches. @least its saturday=D

  24. One of my best guy friends asked me out last night and I told him I’d think about it. I like someone else, but I’m almost sure he doesn’t like me so I think I’ll tell him yes. He is kinda sweet…

    I like the parasite chapters, but I don’treally talk about them a school.

    A worm on a stick? Yum.

    I need braces. 🙁

  25. Haley: That’s awesome Australians came to your school! Are they exchange students? I thought the guinea worm was extremely cool.

    Ashley-wa: I KNOW!! (about the snow day thing) The cars in front of my house are moving vastly slow! Grr. I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it to saturday!

    Amanda-wa: Once you get the braces off people will notice your smile more! Thats what happened to my friend! And it’ll be really nice to have popcorn and gum afterwords. Ant Quaker makes popcorn-flavoured rice cakes, which are good, if you really really NEED pop corn.
    I always find it nervous-making when people ask me out…I hope it goes well!

  26. Jay-wa: I think they’re exchange students, there’s like a whole class who are touring america or something like that. They’re from…don’t remember the name of it…starts with an M…grr can’t remember but it’s near Sydney.
    Amanda-wa: I don’t like braces…but i like headgear even less. >.<
    exactly, i find it nervous-making when people ask me out too (which has only happened once…i gaped at him like an idiot for like a straight minute while my brain exploded… :-P) but yeah, good luck with your predicament.

  27. CLICK MY NAME!!! The Live Blog has officially started. The story, if I do say so myself, is quite hilarious. You will be laughing the whole time, and scratching your head at the end wondering what you’re laughing about. 😀

  28. oh my gosh. i just got back from weekend music camp! it was so…..amazing. sorry, but there’s no other word to discribe it. well, actually there is. God. we felt God. it was just so amazing. we had a church service like thing at the camp and….wow. God was there. It was amazing. We started with just a regular camp-church thing. It ended as much more than that. We sang praises to God, just like any church service, and I didn’t totally believe in God when we started…..or at all, really, but by the end… the end, i decided screw logic, screw science, i believe in God. It was just so amazing. I’m word-missing. “Here I am, at a loss for words, but the funny thing is, it’s okay.” so anyways, what happened was….well, i don’t really know what happened. We started by singing, then the teacher read us a devotional….and then…..we just started crying. Everyone. Even the boys. We were just all crying, and hugging. None of us really knew what was going on. We just felt something so powerful….wow. Just thinking of it makes me start crying again, because it’s so amazing. We all clustered together, and prayed. For about an hour, we prayed. Two girls kinda were “in charge” (okay, not really, but they were “leading”)….they started the prayers, then we did popcorn prayer. haha. I’ve never been involved in a popcorn prayer when some of our prayers are twenty minutes long. Then we just hugged and hugged and hugged. Then we got all happy and sang about ten more songs. Somewhere in there we all ran outside (not bothering to put on winter jakets even though it was cold…very cold) and rolled around in the snow. We went outside and shouting God’s praise! We then went inside and sang MORE. Then cried some more. Then I wrote a song about it. It was cool. Here are the song lyrics:

    Here we are,
    Pouring out our hearts to God,
    Crying in the process.
    Here we are,
    Singing to God,
    Giving Him our loses.

    Nothing can destroy our faith,
    No one can destroy us,
    Nothing can hurt us now,
    No one will harm us because,

    God is making us strong,
    Putting us together,
    Now it will not be long,
    Cuz we’re crying together,
    That we love the Lord.

    Here we cry,
    Praising God,
    Learning to trust eachother.
    Here we cry,
    Feeling a thought,
    Learning to trust the Father.

    Nothing can destroy our fatih,
    No one can destroy us.
    Nothing can hurt us now,
    No one will harm us because,

    God is making us strong,
    Putting us together,
    Now it will not be long,
    Cuz we’re crying together,
    That we love the Lord.

    Hear us now,
    Answering the Soft Voice,
    All as one.
    Hear us now,
    Sharing out faith,
    About God’s Son.

    Nothing can destroy our faith,
    No one can destroy us.
    Nothing can harm us now,
    No one can hurt us because,

    God is making us strong,
    Putting us together,
    Now it will not be long,
    Cuz we’re crying together,
    That we love the Lord.

    This change is real,
    This change is real,
    This change is God is us.

    This love is real,
    This love is real,
    This love is God in us.

    God is making us strong,
    Bringing us together,
    Now we are one,
    In the name of the Son,
    Because we love the Lord,
    Because we love the Lord.

    anyways. it was really cool. we were all just shouting praise to God, and hugging eachother. wow. i’ve never had an experience like that in my life. i’m holding onto this forever.

  29. About the travelling to the past or the future thing, I think I would rather travel to the past. Alot of what we know about the past is guesswork, based on facts. Some distorted by propaganda and others happened when nobody was there to watch and take it down. Going back would help solve of some of the mysteries. Actually, I it’s more of watching back into the past, rather than actually go there. Kind of like in ‘Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Colombus’ by Orson Scott Card.

    Dahlia-wa: I only read the live blog like after everything was posted, but it was still quite hilarious. I think it would have been better if I had been reading it ‘live’ though.

  30. Andrea-la:wow……that was an awesome story. glad u r back in faith. great song 2!!!!

    hope u all have a good sunday!!!!!=D i get 2 go 2my brother’s hockey party(he’s 6) at a bowling alley.

  31. T&Z: OMG!!! those pictures on that website were so good. did u draw them? i can barely draw stick people and when i try 2 draw anything else, it just comes out looking retarded.=D

  32. that chinese building was awesome, serallena!
    and great artwork, Tally&Zane! i wish i could draw like that…
    I love bowling, but i have to have bumpers 😛

  33. hey!!! i m back from bowling now. i think my highest score was like 105 w/bumpers. i suck at bowling,but so does my sister Brianna who i bowled w/. i beat her by like 7 points. i also had a like 10 pound bowling ball which felt like a million pounds. it was a lucky ball tho, i got 2strikes w/it. anyways…..i gots 2go do homework(or not) =D

  34. I have many rats and that would be so cool if they could get along with each other like in the video.

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