Breast milk is weirder than you think

If you think about lactation too hard, it starts to seem a little strange — like the biological equivalent of saying the word "that" over and over until it's just a weird sound you're making. But, writes Nicholas Day at Slate, the sort of existential weirdness of breast milk is nothing compared to what's going on in the stuff at a chemical level. For instance, breast milk contains sugars that aren't actually digestible by human infants. That's because they aren't meant for the infant, itself. Rather, your breast milk is helpfully feeding your baby's intestinal bacteria. Freakier still: In monkeys, the chemical composition of breast milk can change, depending on factors like your baby's sex and whether your baby is showing signs of illness. Read the rest

Reasons to love you, Game of Thrones

I became involved with the Game of Thrones TV series and books against all odds. After all, I don’t think of myself as a “geek” or a “nerd”, even if I am a video game journalist.

My interest is in unnatural universes and the potential in interactive fictional worlds, but the traditional wheelhouses of SF and high fantasy—and as terrified as I am of the people who won’t like to hear this, I’ll come out and say it—feel like something I grew out of. When I was adolescent, I ate up entire novel series about thrones and dragons and mages. In my work—where I look at the cultural context of the things we play, and the reasons we’re attracted to playing them—I click, tap and button-mash through countless products that owe everything to Tolkien.

Wandering though these exalted realms, I’m way tired of serving wenches and noble knights; weary of sack-clothed peasants and their thatched-roof cottages; sick to death of bikini armor, sigils, scale helms and sacks of holding. Enough, already.

So I thought it’d be more than safe to overlook Game of Thrones, a niche-bound, overcomplicated slice of knights-and-dragons that, for whatever reason, was becoming an ornately-armored TV show.

People will eat up all kinds of garbage; ‘media criticism’ often means gritting your teeth, convinced of your rightness, through the latest pop culture feeding frenzy until the blood has dissipated into the sea. This is what I was going to do about Game of Thrones, even though all of my friends—all of my people!—were stoked about it. Read the rest