Archive for August, 2010
stem cell research standing

The judge also finds that the two adult stem cell researchers who brought the case would suffer imminent and irreparable harm without the injunction because they would have to compete with embryonic stem cell researchers for research funds. That is absurd. Adult stem cell research is funded far more generously than work with embryonic stem cells. And there is no firm limit on the amount of money that can be spent on each. NYT editorial

How did this case not get knocked out on standing? Competing for funding? In two different fields ??? Absurd.

But for this absurdity we have to blame the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, not Judge Lamberth; it was the D.C. Circuit Ct. which granted the researchers “competitor standing”.

The Guidelines, by allowing federal funding of [embryonic stem cell] research, increases competition for NIH’s limited resources. This increased competition for limited funds is an actual, imminent injury. See Sherely, 2010 WL 2540358 at *5 (explaining that the increased competition that plaintiffs face is “substantial enough to deem the injury to them imminent”). There is no after-the-fact remedy for this injury because the Court cannot compensate plaintiffs for their lost opportunity to receive funds. Sherley v. Sebelius, D.D.C. 2010

Stacking the D.C. Circuit for years with pro-life Republicans has finally paid off!

The mind boggles: Any agency that funds more than one thing is open, now, to scrutiny by the possible fund-ees for potential legal suit. I suddenly see a future for all those laid-off New York law firm associates.

And, a fine example of how Congress works: Default BS caving in to lobbyists. In this instance, the “Dickey-Wicker amendment, that has been attached to annual appropriations bills for the Department of Health and Human Services since 1996″ — i.e., more absurd religious BS around abortion and fetal rights, affecting science and medicine.

And did the Obama administration tackle this problem directly? No, they avoided the problem the same way the other administrations have.

Disgraceful all around.

cite: quotes from NYT Editorial 8/25. opinion available at uscourts.gov (PDF).

and, this week in the destruction of our children’s future world
  • The Petermann ice shelf in Greenland (the northern-most glacier in the world) has lost a quarter of its mass, calving a 100 square mile iceberg now known as the “Petermann Ice Island (2010)”. Note that there is a “2010″ designation to distinguish this one from a smaller iceberg calved in 2008. Ed Markey had a good idea.

    Relevance to the pending apocalypse: Sign of global warming; loss of Arctic / sub-Arctic environments and habitats; influx of fresh water into the North Atlantic currents; Greenland is smaller.

    sources: AFP, wikipedia.

  • The drought and related fires in Russia continue, threatening, among other things, wheat prices and harvests. Relevance to environmental and social DOOM: Farmlands diverted from other crops to wheat; wheat prices increasing; and, of course, smoke from the fires may contribute to global warming as well as causing shorter-term respiratory problems.
  • Rising temperatures diminish rice harvests. It’s getting too hot at night for rice to grow. Yields have already diminished by 10-20% in some parts of the world, over the last 25 years. Need I mention that rice is the #3 staple food crop? And the primary staple food crop in Asia and Africa?
  • Rising food costs. Related to both the wheat & rice fiascos, the FAO has predicted that staple food prices will rise significantly, between 15 to 45%, over the next decade.
  • Genetically engineered pesticide-resistant strains of canola growing wild on roadsides. “Roundup Ready” and “Liberty Link” varieties have been found, and varieties resistant to both pesticides — indicating cross-breeding of the varieties. Why is this a problem? To the extent these are pest plants — weeds — they will have to be controlled with other, more toxic, pesticides, or controlled through agricultural methods (e.g., plowing) that adversely affect soil erosion. Plus, of course, once those now-wild genes start jumping, the problems will just multiply. As my partner has pointed out, one-in-a-million events happen millions of times with plant propagation.
Google just cries out for Tom Lehrer

Or rather, the phenomenon that is Google cries out for Tom Lehrer. Come out of retirement, Tom! Political satire is not obsolete, notwithstanding Kissinger’s Nobel ….

A colleague posted on a listserv a brief note about an article on “Google’s planes”. I thought, no, really? Google is buying planes? for streetview, I imagine — holy cow, what’s next?

Then I clicked on the link and was relieved to see it was about Google’s plans; the colleague had merely made a typo.

Or so I thought.

Cue ominous music: dunh dunh dunh.

Because, as that same colleague informed me, Google actually IS buying unmanned drones for aerial surveillance for Street View ! ! ! ! ! (I think screeching violins a la “Psycho” would be good here.)

Well, no, not really. A Google executive is buying it “for personal use”. Google categorically denies Street View applications, which shows that its PR department definitely is on the ball.

Sometimes reality is not nearly as weird as it should be.

my two-year-old, on copyright

Grabbing a couple of my paperback books, my two-year-old pages through them and engages in a lengthy monologue.

A: “This is about Mamiche’s copyright car. I’m just going to read this page and then go back to the cat page. Okay! Let’s go back to the cat page. This book is your book and it is about copyright. This is your book.”

me: “Thank you,” I say, accepting the book she hands me.

A: “Read it, and then it is my copyright. This is called Mamiche’s copyright. This is MY copyright, and this is YOUR copyright, and this is MY copyright. Here it is.” She shifts into a downward dog pose and holds the book below her. “I need my copyright. When I get my copyright I tell Mamala [ed.: that's me], ‘I need my copyright now!’”

I am speechless.