Thursday Evening Open Thread: Comets and Miracles

774783f09f75f7bb446ec0c45979e76bGood Evening

The heat is unbearable, so I hope that you are keeping as cool as you can.

I will only put up a couple of links for you tonight, remember that comet which is making a quick trip around the sun? Comet ISON: A Timeline of This Year’s Sungrazing Spectacle | Space.com

The sungrazing Comet ISON could put on a dazzling display when it slingshots around Earth’s star this November.

If the icy dust ball doesn’t get ripped apart by extreme solar forces, some astronomers have said it could be the “comet of the century,” possibly shining brightly enough to be seen during the daytime.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this view of Comet ISON, C/2012 S1 (ISON), on May 8, 2013. This annotated view shows the comet's scale and direction of movement.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this view of Comet ISON, C/2012 S1 (ISON), on May 8, 2013 as it streaked between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars at 48,000 mph. This annotated view shows the comet’s scale and direction of motion.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
ISON began its dangerous journey toward the inner solar system about 10,000 years ago, when it left a distant band of icy space rocks in the Oort cloud. But scientists and skywatchers only became aware of ISON last year. Here’s a look at what scientists have learned about the comet since then, and what to expect in the months and days ahead. [Photos of Comet ISON: A Potentially Great Comet]

There is a video explaining the comet’s trip and why it is expected to shine so brightly in the sky if it does survive its slingshot around our sun.  So please be sure to go to that Space.com link and look at the time line and the other video that discusses the comet’s journey through our solar system.

There was another scientific news story I wanted to share with you, Down’s syndrome cells ‘fixed’ in first step towards chromosome therapy | Science | The Guardian

Scientists have corrected the genetic fault that causes Down’s syndrome – albeit in isolated cells – raising the prospect of a radical therapy for the disorder.

In an elegant series of experiments, US researchers took cells from people with DS and silenced the extra chromosome that causes the condition. A treatment based on the work remains a distant hope, but scientists in the field said the feat was the first major step towards a “chromosome therapy” for Down’s syndrome.

“This is a real technical breakthrough. It opens up whole new avenues of research,” said Elizabeth Fisher, professor of neurogenetics at UCL, who was not involved in the study. “This is really the first sniff we’ve had of anything to do with gene therapy for Down’s syndrome.”

Around 750 babies are born with DS in Britain each year while globally between one in a 1000 and one in 1100 births are DS babies. Most experience learning difficulties.

Despite advances in medical care that allow most to live well into middle age, those who have the disorder are at risk of heart defects, bowel and blood disorders, and thyroid problems.

Though a full treatment is still many years off, the work will drive the search for therapies that improve common symptoms of DS, from immune and gastrointestinal problems, to childhood leukaemia and early-onset dementia.

“This will accelerate our understanding of the cellular defects in Down’s syndrome and whether they can be treated with certain drugs,” said Jeanne Lawrence, who led the team at the University of Massachusetts.

“The long-range possibility – and it’s an uncertain possibility – is a chromosome therapy for Down’s syndrome. But that is 10 years or more away. I don’t want to get people’s hopes up.”

This certainly is something that would be a “miracle” for many people…I know it is something that my mother still talks about, in fact she was the one that mentioned this article to me earlier today, and when she told me about it, it was in terms of…”you know how I always wondered if there was a way to fix the gene that causes Down syndrome.”  Isn’t it nice to think that one day we may be able to do just that?

This is an open thread.


Sunday Reads Funky Link Dump, James Brown Style

130534089169830531_A8rt5YUL_cGood Morning

Still feeling down in the dumps today, so forgive the sparse content. Hopefully these links are not repeats…

I have not had a chance to read this first link…yet. Kurt Eichenwald: Let’s Repeal the Second Amendment | Vanity Fair

Haven’t read this one either:  6 Biggest Religious Right Threats to America | Alternet

Something on gun control: Muhlberger’s World History: The Bonfire of the Vanities

Check out these official pictures from the White House 2012:

From the silly to the somber, White House photos show 2012 highlights – TODAY News

White House photos 2012; candid snapshots of President, first family released | GlobalPost

A few science articles:

This first link needs a bit of funk to make it right:

How Corn Syrup Might Be Making Us Hungry-and Fat

If you have what James Brown likes…then you may also suffer from Fatty Liver.

One thing that can help with this next link about Fatty Liver, is to get a little more active:

Scientists develop new compound that reverses fatty liver disease

Muscle weakness in Down syndrome: New study offers insights

‘Black Beauty’ meteorite could yield Martian secrets

Which spiral arm of the Milky Way contains our sun?

For Dakinikat…it isn’t about old grave discoveries, but it still has a touch of death to it: Dried squash holds headless French king’s blood, study finds

Another one for Dak, Maya Funerary Vessel Represents “Tremor 8” – Archaeology Magazine

For Boston Boomer, you may find this interesting: Language Acquisition Could Begin In The Womb | Geekosystem

Is it a man’s world? Now for some mood music, for the next few links about Women’s Rights and Women in History:

Annie Lennox has a blog she writes at: Annie Lennox Calls For Action On Women’s Rights In 2013 – Starpulse.com

Here is direct link to it: Annie Lennox – Official Website

Maybe  Women’s Rights will have a louder voice now: 101 Facts About 100 Women of the House and Senate

History looks at Viking Women: Don’t underestimate Viking women | Medieval News

Another one on religion, and women’s influence in culture: Research uncovers how single and widowed women shaped the religious culture of colonial Latin America

Strange news: 15-year-old girl with missing moniker set to sue Icelandic government in fight to legally use her name

Sick twisted doctors…10 Derailed Doctors Who Creatively Abused Their Patients

An iconic song turns 30: ‘Billie Jean’: Michael Jackson’s landmark single turns 30 | theGrio

A very cool picture of Mt. Everest…and a very cool idea:  Toys inspire giant ‘dandelion’ anti-mine device

Video of a big ass plane landing at a tiny airport.

Video of the same big ass plane taking off from a tiny airport.

Video of a cartoon we have all seen before, but should watch again.

A few movie reviews:

Richard Schickel: Seven Movies I Liked in 2012 (and One I Didn’t)

This Amanda Marcotte review of Django Unchained is good, she gets it:  Django Unchained: A Movie About Other Movies About the 19th Century

And…another review…about Django…only this one asks the wrong question: How Accurate Is Quentin Tarantino’s Portrayal of Slavery in Django Unchained? : The New Yorker

And one more:  Wagner with Guns by Christopher Benfey | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Sticking with the movie topic a bit more: alicublog: I LOST IT AT THE MOVIES.

Now for an actor who is Super Bad, and one of my favorites, bet you can guess who that is?

An interview with my man: Samuel L. Jackson is right about bad Hollywood endings, but then real life isn’t much better

I wonder if this film will be made in time for the 2016 campaign season: Tennessee Guerilla Women: Hillary Clinton’s Life, Soon to Be a Hollywood Movie

And…its a squatch! One of those elusive Georgia Redneck Big Foots! Yup, a few of them are getting together to talk about another kind of Bigfoot…Inaugural Southeastern Bigfoot Conference being held in Dahlonega

More fantastic Bigfoot reads:

Top 10 Reasons Bigfoot Probably Doesn’t Exist

Bigfoot or Good Foot you decide:

Have a fantastic Sunday…and hope everyone is feeling good!


Sunday Reads: Cold Temps, Cold Tea and Warm Bed

Good Morning!

It is cold in Banjoville, we are talking low 20’s, and living near the river makes the air feel damp and harsh.  I’ve avoided the news this weekend, there is something going around…like when you have a hunch that you are coming down with a cold…but instead of dreading it, you are actually welcoming it. Why? Because it gives you a reason to sleep all day and not have to explain your crappy attitude to your family and friends.

Actually, the yesterday started very well and exciting, but when I opened the fridge and was hit with the leftover turkey fumes, it just drained all the energy out of me.

Anyway, here are some links to get you started this morning. You got your cup of Joe? Mug of tea? (My tea is already cold.) Flask of Southern Comfort? (Some may prefer whiskey or vodka, but I love me some SoCo.)

Juan Cole had an interesting post this past week, If You are 27 or younger, you’ve never lived through a colder than average month (Bump)

Paul Bump at Grist points out that The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on global temperatures in October 2012 as follows:

“The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63°C (58.23°F). This is 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. The record warmest October occurred in 2003 and the record coldest October occurred in 1912. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature.”

He then did a quick calculation, and concluded that if you were born after April, 1985, i.e. if you are 27 or younger, you have never experienced a month with a global average temperature colder than the 20th-century average. (Obviously, you may have experienced a month at lower than local averages, though that would be rare, too; the point is about world averages.)

Cole links to a video from NASA:

One thing that is not cold, is the tension in Egypt. I have a few updates that you may not have read about yet:

Egypt braces for more protests

If Sunday is anything like the last several days in Egypt, it will not be quiet.

Egypt’s ElBaradei Calls on President to Rescind Near Absolute Powers

Prominent Egyptian democracy advocate Mohammed ElBaradei has called on Egypt’s president to rescind the near absolute powers he has granted himself.

ElBaradei says President Mohamed Morsi must take the action to avoid the possibility of increased turmoil in the country that has recently shed its longtime repressive government.

Nobel laureate ElBaradei addressed crowds that gathered Saturday in Cairo’s central square to protest President Morsi’s decrees that put him above judicial oversight and protect his Islamist supporters in parliament.

Egypt’s highest body of judges, the Supreme Judicial Council, also condemned President Morsi’s decree. The judges Saturday called the move “an unprecedented attack” on the independence of the judiciary. Judges in Alexandria have gone on strike, saying they will not return to work until the decree is withdrawn.

Egypt rights groups and ElBaradei denounce Mursi decree

Anti-Mursi protesters chant slogans in front of the Supreme Judicial Council building in Cairo, 24 November 2012
Critics and supporters of Mr Mursi have staged rallies since the decree was announced

More than 20 Egyptian rights groups have called on President Mohammed Mursi to withdraw the decree granting himself extensive new powers.

The 22 groups signed an open letter saying the president “has dealt a lethal blow to the Egyptian judiciary”.

Meanwhile, in another part of the Middle East:

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Middle East crisis social media

Middle East crisis social media © Peter Broelman,Australia,Middle East,Israel,Hamas,Palestine,Palestinians,war,Gaza, gaza fighting

Here is an op/ed from Robert Fisk: Netanyahu leads Israel into isolation Go ahead and give that a read.

I’ve got more news that involves two sides fighting…this time in Japan, between the right-wing Nationalist and the environmentalist: Dueling protests in Tokyo over dolphin and whale hunts

Environmentalists and nationalists held opposing rallies over the issue of Japan’s dolphin and whale hunts in a rare showdown in central Tokyo on Saturday, leading to angry scenes.

About 50 anti-whaling activists gathered at a park in the Shibuya shopping district with banners bearing slogans such as “Stop the cruel dolphin hunt!” while across the street about 30 nationalists shouted “Get out of Japan!”

The nationalists accused the environmentalists of undermining Japanese culture and traditions, saying “environmental terrorists” should be sent to slaughter houses.

I can only think of that episode of South Park…Whale Whores:

Stan and his family are spending his birthday at the Denver Aquarium where they will get to swim with the dolphins. Things turn bloody when the Japanese attack, kill all the dolphins and ruin Stan’s big day. There seems to be no end to the senseless killing. Stan takes on the cause to save the dolphins from the Japanese.

Down in Cuba, there is quite a stir about a recently elected official: Cuban transsexual elected to public office

Adela Hernandez

Adela Hernandez hailed election triumph as another milestone in gradual shift away from macho attitudes in Caribbean country. Photograph: Ramon Espinosa/AP

A Cuban transsexual has become the first known transgender person to hold public office in the country, winning election as a delegate to the municipal government of Caibarien in the central province of Villa Clara.

Adela Hernandez, 48, hailed her election in a country where gays were persecuted for decades and sent to rural work camps as another milestone in the gradual shift away from macho attitudes in the years since Fidel Castro himself expressed regret over the treatment of people perceived to be different.

Hernandez, who has lived as a female since childhood, served two years in prison in the 1980s for “dangerousness” after her own family denounced her sexuality.

“As time evolves, homophobic people – although they will always exist – are the minority,” Hernandez said by phone from her home town. Becoming a delegate “is a great triumph”, she added.

This is a big deal in Cuba:

For years after the 1959 Cuban revolution, authorities hounded people of differing sexual orientation and others considered threatening, such as priests, long-haired youths and rock ‘n’ roll enthusiasts. But there have been notable changes in attitudes toward sexuality.

“I would like to think that discrimination against homosexuals is a problem that is being overcome,” Castro told an interviewer some years ago.

Read the rest of Hernandez story at the link.

I’ve got another transgender, I guess it is more of a cross-dressing story for you. This one is about The 72-year-old Chinese grandfather who models teen-girl clothes I will just post a picture…you can click to see the rest.

18 November 2012 01:09 PM

offbeatchina.com

…and, what is more, looks pretty good doing it. Kate Moss, eat your heart out, the world’s newest superpower has a new supermodel to match. But Liu Xianping is not your average clothes horse.

Why does that image remind me of Andy Warhol?

More newsy articles after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »