DNA Lounge: Wherein the hearing video is discovered.

Apparently the video of the hearing is, in fact, online, but it's a complete pain in the ass to get to it unless you run Windows. It's here, via the City Operations & Neighborhood Services Committee page on SFGTV. Unfortunately, their embedded video doesn't play on MacOS or Linux, because apparently the San Francisco city government thinks that it is OK to require you to tithe money to Microsoft before you are able to watch video of your government in action. Why don't they just upload all this crap to Youtube so that it would work on any operating system? Who knows.

Anyway, if you want to watch this video on a Mac, you have to install VLC and open this URL in it. The Entertainment Commission part of the hearing starts quite far in, at around 3:24:00. Public testimony begins at 3:44:00.

If anyone manages to download this thing and upload it to Youtube, please let me know.

The transcript of the closed captioning is here, but it's full of hilarious errors that make it largely incomprehensible. Search for "Recess until 1:00 P.M." for the beginning of the EC hearing.


I demand the blattarian anti-urination gene-mod. STAT.

Cockroach Superpower No. 42: They Don't Need to Pee

To survive in hostile environments, cockroaches rely on their own vermin: Blattabacterium, a microbe that hitched a ride inside roaches 140 million years ago, and hasn't left since. "Blattabacterium can produce all of the essential amino acids, various vitamins, and other required compounds from a limited palette of metabolic substrates," write entomologists in a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers have known that cockroaches need the microbes to survive: Kill Blattabacterium with antibiotics, and the insects die. They also knew that roaches store excess nitrogen -- one of life's essential elements, needed to make proteins, amino acids and DNA -- inside their bodies, in tiny deposits of uric acid. But researchers didn't know exactly what became of the uric acid after it was stored, or precisely what Blattabacterium did.

Sequencing the microbe's genome made the links clear. The microbe contains genes that code for enzymes that break down urea and ammonia, the components of uric acid. Other genes instruct the microbe to take the resulting molecules and use them to make amino acids, repair cell walls and membranes, and perform other metabolic tasks.

Blattabacterium also helps free cockroaches from the need to urinate. In humans and other terrestrial animals, otherwise toxic uric acid is diluted with water, then flushed from the body as urine. Cockroaches save that water. Compared to them, the iconic stillsuits worn by the fictional Fremen of Dune would be wasteful.

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