The “Science” of Nature, or Life on the Fringe

Dear readers, I’ve just entered a time warp – and it occurred to me to take you along for the ride. Our little library doesn’t have a great selection of books – you could certainly fail utterly in researching almost any thesis imaginable if you were dependent upon it. But what it does have is a shiny new building with complete reliance on solar energy (Hawaii’s first!) and a great magazine exchange cart, where one can either drop off or pick up free magazines. From time to time when my brain is completely baked, I like to read these slick mini-manuscripts. They usually don’t require much effort, as I can easily peruse tapas of thought or ogle at ad composition, then recycle them back as easily as they were obtained.

It is in this free-flowing spirit that I gathered my latest harvest of mastheads, chucking them into my chartreuse-green bicycle basket and pedaling the five mile journey home. Health, Nature, Audubon, Green Home. (Should be stuff in there Chris will like as well, I think with satisfaction.)

A couple of weeks go by. I’m busy reworking my website’s design, blogging, catching up on phone calls, social networking, taking long bike rides to clear October’s cobwebs from my head, walking the dogs, doing laundry and husband’s gofer errands – in short: not much downtime. Today, I rest. Today, after three hours of telephone time, I give myself permission to hit the sofa and kick back. Glass of cold filtered water in hand, I cycle through the big basket on the floor. Books, magazines, the odd copies of online articles printed for Chris to catch up on. Nature, I think, and Nature it is – or so it would appear …

Here’s what I encounter, and I haven’t even gotten to page seventeen. I don’t know that I’ll ever get past page seventeen, quite frankly – though the intrigue is further piqued by why on earth that particular page is numbered 158. Then again, it’s all part of the alternate universe bubble I have penetrated on this day …

Inside cover ad: BioAccess. Permanently knockout any human, house or rat gene with CompoZr Knockout Zinc Finger Nucleases. You cannot imagine how many times I read and re-read this short bit of text in the futile attempt to gain some sort of ground on which to prop my faltering intellect.

Next page: Ubiquitination. (See! I knew Word wouldn’t recognize it! It isn’t even in the dictionary!) And the image presented therein, well, let’s just say I thought it was a lot of colorful jewelry. I still don’t know what it is, quite – though I suspect it has something to do with cells. Innovative products from Cell Signaling Technology offer unsurpassed sensitivity, specificity, reproducibility, and performance. (Seriously Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore. Nowhere near a wheat field, a corn field, a mountain or the sea. Nowhere in nature, darling doggie, can we be …) Yes, it was at this point that I harkened back to the cover to cash my reality check: Nature (and then the subtitle in a much, much smaller font underneath): The International Weekly Journal of Science. Ah, suddenly consciousness dawns like the parting of the Red Sea or weighted maroon velvet theatre curtains, and it all begins to makes sense – or so it seems ….


I tried to leaf through a couple more pages, now curious as to how the publisher came up with the title Nature (being a writer myself and somewhat obsessed with the care and feeding of words in the English language). I discovered: RabMAbs. (PETA people look away – you don’t even want to know. That cute picture of the bunny may not be what you would hope.) Shakily, I turn – one. more. page: DNA Ligases from New England Biolabs. (Okay, I know DNA is the coding for living things, i.e. nature. And I lived in New England, and yes, I have heard of that place – blessed familiarity! Plus there’s a nice photo image of a yellow, white and black shiny caterpillar on a nice leafy green page…)


I summon all my courage to thumb through to page fifteen, just in case you’ve understandably lost count. And under the heading World View appears a genuine article: Marine protection in the Arctic cannot wait. Just as I begin to recover a little sanity, I turn one final leaf to discover a rare cancer eating the faces of Tasmanian devils – threatening their extinction.

I’ve got to say – Health magazine appeared a bit fluffy at first, but it sure looks pretty darned good, just now.

8 thoughts on “The “Science” of Nature, or Life on the Fringe

    1. Yes, it was so funny – here I was, lying on the sofa, little snackie in my lap, glasses propped on my nose – ready for a veg-out adventure in “light” reading. Oh my gods, it was funny – of course then I had to scramble for my laptop and write down what you now see – as it was too unreal not to share. And of all people Cecilia, you would no doubt understand! 😉

      Have a great day on the farm!

  1. Oh, but I loved ‘tapas of thought’! I read this last night on my Blackberry, and had to come here to see the pics…and to laugh again.

    To change the subject slightly, I read this as I was heading for bed and lay there musing about the great magazines I used to read as a child/teenager, and that no longer exist. Canada is so large geographically, but one-tenth the size of the US in population – magazines have always had a tough go of it here, and many are just gone.In thinking about it, that idea of the tapas, the appetizer, the teaser of a taste – that is what I loved about magazines, and the visual feast, of course. There is just something about those slick pages…So I envy your library exchange: along with being scarce, magazines are way too expensive for a casual purchase.

    1. Isn’t that interesting, Vivian – I worked for a Canadian for years when I was young – even flew back and forth from Maine to set up his office in Nova Scotia. Spent time in his home, in his world. Never occurred to me the differences between countries, save for the provincial aspect of NS and a slightly different way of speaking 😉
      We Americans take so much for granted – as would anybody in any circumstance, I’d imagine – human nature, more than anything. I did not realize the lack of magazines in Canada – how strange the complaint of paper mills closing in Maine was that all the papermaking in those parts was being relegated to, you guessed it – Canada!
      Of course now with tablets and readers like the Kindle, everybody has equal rights to magazines formerly hoarded by the US market – though the feel and smell of the pages cannot be transferred through an LCD screen.
      Have a good weekend Vivian, and thanks for taking the time to express your thoughts in a comment!

      1. Well, I’m not sure the US hoarded their magazines…but the cultural ambience is different, especially in politics! And as a kid, I knew that what I saw advertised (and coveted) was often not available in Canada. In fact, “Not Available in Canada” has become a cultural catchphrase, of sorts. I hope for a great weekend, Bela 🙂

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