Ross Bennett – why comics can’t do Obama

(Found as a decoration at the end of a great screed by Ace.)

Query : If Absinthe is the “Green Fairy”, what is Chartreuse?

Just as green as absinthe and as distinctive.  Lots of herbs; that might help chose a mythological creature.

The Green Gnome?  The Green Elf?  The Green Dwarf?

green chartreuse

Government-mandated light bulbs cause cancer

For Our Own Good, the government has banned incandescent bulbs.  We should be using “energy saving” CFL bulbs.  Guess what?  According to a German study, the CFL bulbs cause cancer.    It’s already well known (or should be!)  that CFL bulbs contain some nice, toxic mercury.  Good luck making sure that everyone disposes of them properly.

compact fluorescent lightbulbs are bad for children and other living things

… and don’t get me started on the crap light quality from CFLs….

Heh. Remember “No Labels”?

Salon updates us on what they’re doing.  Snicker.


Integrative Complexification

The Obama “Budget”

NRO gives a good summary :

The president’s first budget led to a debt spiral, but he excused it because of the financial and economic crisis. The president’s second budget led to a debt spiral, but he excused it because the Bowles-Simpson commission was going to fix it. The president’s third budget led to a debt spiral, but he whined that he had to do that because Republicans might criticize a real budget.

The comparison to the House budget was so shaming he was compelled to give a speech on a new “plan” to end the greatest threat facing this nation. But there was no plan. Just another speech. And today, more whining.

Moar Integratively Complex Smartitudinousness

Hot Air

Ace of Spades

suuuuuper geeeenius - Integratively Complex

Suuuuper Genius

Quote of the Day : Jay Leno

Donald Trump says he’s President Obama’s worst nightmare. That’s not true. Having to make a decision is Obama’s worst nightmare.

Obama’s *real* Birth Certificate Released!

Obama  Certificacte of Live Birth

Russian Dancing Men

Oh no, not again

Fail whale... again?

nerd humor

Daily Vocabulary – “Integrative Complexity”

Integrative Complexity – a human trait that explains constant screw-ups as a species of advanced intelligence.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4

It’s simple to be a Dr Who fan…

Really, you’re only task is to make Dallek-shaped objects of variours kinds.

Take this guy, for example.

Royal Wedding Dallek

exterminate! exterminate! exterminate!

From digital spy :

Chris Balcombe, 51, has spent one week decorating his Dalek to tie in with the occasion. The Doctor’s nemesis has been painted red, blue and white and is covered with Union Jack flags and photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Furthermore, Chris attached a mechanical grip to the Dalek so it can hold trays of food and drinks.

Real-life “Jackalopes” caused by Human Papillomavirus

(Copied from io9, rather than linked …. because I hate their weird scrolly format and would never want to inflict it on anyone.)

Rabbits with Horns: Meet the Human Papillomavirus

Carl Zimmer — Rabbits with Horns: Meet the Human Papillomavirus The stories about rabbits with horns circulated for centuries. Eventually they crystallized into the myth of the jackalope. If you go to Wyoming and twirl a rack of postcards, chances are you’ll find a picture of a jackalope bounding across the prairie. It looks like a rabbit sprouting a pair of antlers. You may even see jackalopes in the flesh-or at least the head of one mounted on a diner wall.

On one level, it’s all bunk. Most jackalopes are nothing but taxidermic trickery-rabbits with pieces of antelope antler glued to their heads. But like many myths, the tale of the jackalope has a grain of truth buried at its core. Some real rabbits do indeed sprout horn-shaped growths from their heads.

In the early 1930s, Richard Shope, a scientist at Rockefeller University, heard about horned rabbits while on a hunting trip. He had a friend catch one and send him some of the tissue so that he could figure out what it was made of. Shope’s colleague, Francis Rous, had done experiments with chickens that suggested viruses could cause tumors. Many scientists at the time were skeptical, but Shope wondered if rabbit “horns” were also tumors, somehow triggered by an unknown virus. To test his hypothesis, Shope ground up the horns, mixed them in a solution, and then filtered the liquid through porcelain. The fine pores of the porcelain would only let viruses through. Shope then rubbed the filtered solution onto the heads of healthy rabbits. They grew horns as well.

Shope’s experiment did more than show that the horns contained viruses. He also demonstrated that the viruses created the horns, crafting them out of infected cells. After this discovery, Shope passed on his rabbit tissue collection to Rous, who continued to work on it for decades. Rous injected virus-loaded liquid deep inside rabbits and found that it didn’t produce harmless horns. Instead, the rabbits developed aggressive cancers that killed them. For his research linking viruses and cancer, Rous won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1966.

The discoveries of Shope and Rous led scientists to look at growths on other animals. Cows sometimes develop monstrous lumps of deformed skin as big as grapefruits. Warts grow on mammals, from dolphins to tigers to humans. And on rare occasions, warts can turn people into human jackalopes. In the 1980s, a teenage boy in Indonesia named Dede began to develop warts on his body, and soon they had completely overgrown his hands and feet. Eventually he could no longer work at a regular job and ended up as an exhibit in a freak show, earning the nickname “Tree Man.” Reports of Dede began to appear in the news, and in 2007 doctors removed thirteen pounds of warts from Dede’s body. They’ve had to continue to perform surgeries to remove new growths from his body since then. Dede’s growths, along with all the others on humans and mammals, turned out to be caused by a single virus-the same one that puts horns on rabbits. It’s known as the papillomavirus, named for the papilla (buds in Latin) that cells form when they become infected.

In the 1970s, the German researcher Harald zur Hausen speculated that papillomaviruses might be a far bigger threat to human health than the occasional wart. He wondered whether they might also cause tumors in the cervixes of women. Previous studies on cases of cervical cancer revealed patterns that were similar to sexually transmitted diseases. Nuns, for example, get cervical cancer much less often than other women. Some scientists had speculated cervical cancer was caused by a virus spread during sex. Zur Hausen wondered if cancer-causing papillomaviruses were the culprit.

Zur Hausen reasoned that if this were true, he ought to find virus DNA in cervical tumors. He gathered biopsies to study, and slowly sorted through their DNA for years. In 1983 he discovered genetic material from papillomaviruses in the samples. As he continued to study the biopsies, he found more strains of papillomaviruses. Since zur Hausen first published his discoveries, scientists have identified one hundred different strains of human papillomavirus (or HPV for short). For his efforts, zur Hausen shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2008.

Zur Hausen’s research put human papillomaviruses in medicine’s spotlight, thanks to the huge toll that cervical cancer takes on the women of the world. The tumors caused by HPV grow so large that they sometimes rip the uterus or intestines apart. The bleeding can be fatal. Cervical cancer kills over 270,000 women every year, making it the third leading cause of death in women, surpassed only by breast cancer and lung cancer.

All of those cases got their start when a woman acquired an infection of HPV. The infection begins when the virus injects its DNA into a host cell. HPV specializes in infecting epithelial cells, which make up much of the skin and the body’s mucous membranes. The virus’s genes ends up inside the nucleus of its host cell, the home of the cell’s own DNA. The cell then reads the HPV genes and makes the virus’s proteins. Those proteins begin to alter the cell.

Many other viruses, such as rhinoviruses and influenza viruses, reproduce violently. They make new viruses as fast as possible, until the host cell brims with viral offspring. Ultimately, the cell rips open and dies. HPV uses a radically different strategy. Instead of killing its host cell, it causes the cell to make more copies of itself. The more host cells there are, the more viruses there are.

Speeding up a cell’s division is no small feat, especially for a virus with just eight genes. The normal process of cell division is maddeningly complex. A cell “decides” to divide in response to signals both from the outside and the inside, mobilizing an army of molecules to reorganize its contents. Its internal skeleton of filaments reassembles itself, pulling apart the cell’s contents to two ends. At the same time, the cell makes a new copy of its DNA-3.5 billion “letters” all told, organized into 46 clumps called chromosomes. The cell must drag those chromosomes to either end of the cell and build a wall through its center. During this buzz of activity, supervising molecules monitor the progress. If they sense that the division is going awry-if the cell acquires a defect that might make it cancerous, for example-the monitor molecules trigger the cell to commit suicide. HPV can manipulate this complex dance by producing just a few proteins that intervene at crucial points in the cell cycle, accelerating it without killing the cell.

Many types of cells grow quickly in childhood and then slow down or stop altogether. Epithelial cells, the cells that HPV infects, continue to grow through our whole life. They start out in a layer buried below the skin’s surface. As they divide, they produce a layer of new cells that pushes up on the cells above them. As the cells divide and rise, they become different than their progenitors. They begin to make more of a hard protein called keratin (the same stuff that makes up fingernails and horse hooves). Loaded with keratin, the top layer of skin can better withstand the damage from the sun, chemicals, and extreme temperatures. But eventually the top layer of epithelial cells dies off, and the next rising layers of epithelial cells take its place.

This arrangement means that HPV has to try to live on a conveyor belt. As HPV-infected cells reproduce, they move upward, closer and closer to their death. The viruses sense when their host cells are getting close to the surface and shift their strategy. Instead of speeding up cell division, it issues commands to for its host cell to make many new viruses. When the cell reaches the surface, it burst open with a big supply of HPV that can seek out new hosts to infect.

For most people infected with HPV, a peaceful balance emerges between virus and host. Fast-growing infected cells don’t cause people harm, because they get sloughed off. The virus, meanwhile, gets to use epithelial cells as factories for new viruses, which can then infect new hosts through skin-to-skin contact and sex. The immune system helps maintain the balance by clearing away some of the infected cells. (Dede’s tree-like growths were the result of a genetic defect that left his body unable to rein in the virus.)

This balance between host and virus has existed for hundreds of millions of years. To reconstruct the history of papillomaviruses, scientists compare the genetic sequence of different strains and note which animals they infect. It turns out that papillomaviruses infect not just mammals, such as humans, rabbits, and cows, but other vertebrates as well, such as birds and reptiles. Each strain of virus typically only infects one or a few related species. Based on their relationships, Marc Gottschling of the University of Munich has argued that the first egg-laying land vertebrates-the ancestor of mammals, reptiles, and birds-was already a host to papillomaviruses three hundred million years ago.

As the descendants of that ancient animal evolved into different lineages, their papillomaviruses evolved as well. Some research suggests that these viruses began to specialize on different kinds of lining in their hosts. The viruses that cause warts, for example, adapted to infect skin cells. Another lineage adapted to the mucosal linings of the mouth and other orifices. For the most part, these new papillomaviruses coexisted peacefully with their hosts. Two-thirds of healthy horses carry strains of papillomavirus called BPV1 and BPV2. Some strains evolved to be more prone to turn cancerous than others, but researchers can’t say why.

For thousands of generations, papillomaviruses would specialize on certain hosts, but from time to time, they’ve leaped to new species. A number of human papillomaviruses are most closely related to papillomaviruses that infect distantly related animals, like horses, instead of our closest ape relatives. Nothing more than skin contact may have been enough to allow viruses to make the jump.

When our own species first evolved in Africa about two hundred thousand years ago, our ancestors probably carried several different strains of papillomaviruses. Representatives of those strains can be found all over the world. But as humans expanded across the planet-leaving Africa about fifty thousand years ago and reaching the New World by about fifteen thousand years ago-their papillomaviruses were continuing to evolve. We know this because the genealogy of some HPV strains reflect the genealogy of our species. The viruses that infect living Africans belong to the oldest lineages of HPV, for example, while Europeans, Asians, and Native Americans carry their own distinct strains.

Each time a new species has split off from an old one, its papillomaviruses have diverged as well. The closest relatives of human papillomaviruses are the papillomaviruses that infect chimpanzees, our closest living relatives. And the next closest relatives of human papillomaviruses infect our next closest relatives, the gorillas. It is therefore likely that the common ancestor of humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas-an ape that lived some eight million years ago-carried its own strain of papillomavirus. Neanderthals probably had a strain of papillomavirus very much like our own.

The oldest fossils belonging to our own species, found in Ethiopia, date back about two hundred thousand years. Comparisons of DNA from people around the world indicate that Homo sapiens first evolved in East Africa and then spread out across the continent. Only about fifty thousand years ago did a wave of migrants successfully expand out of Africa and populate the rest of the planet. And as they migrated, they took HPV with them. We know this because the genealogy of HPV reflects the genealogy of our species. The oldest lineage of the virus is most common in living Africans, for example. Native Americans descend from East Asians, and their viruses share the same kinship.

For about 199,950 of the past 200,000 years, our species had no idea that we were carrying HPV. That’s not because HPV was a rare virus-far from it: a 2008 study on 1,797 men and women found 60 percent of them had antibodies to HPV, indicating they had been infected with the virus at some point in their life. For the overwhelming majority of those people, the experience was harmless. Of the estimated 30 million American women who carry HPV, only 13,000 a year develop cervical cancer.

In this cancer-stricken minority, the peaceful balance between host and virus is thrown off. Each time an infected cell divides, there’s a small chance it will mutate one of the genes that helps regulate the cell cycle. In an uninfected cell, the mutation would not do much harm. But a cell that’s already being pushed by HPV to grow faster is in a precarious state. What might otherwise be a harmless mutation transforms an infected cell into a precancerous one. The cell multiplies much faster than before. Its descendants grow so fast that the shedding of the top layer of epithelial cells is not enough to get rid of them. They form a tumor, which pushes out and down into the surrounding tissue.

The best way to prevent most cancers is to reduce the odds that our cells will pick up dangerous mutations: quitting smoking, avoiding cancer-promoting chemicals, and eating well. But cervical cancer can be blocked another way: with a vaccine. In 2006, the first HPV vaccines were approved for use in the United States and Europe. They all contain proteins from the outer shell of HPV, which the immune system can learn to recognize. If people are later infected with HPV, their immune system can mount a rapid attack and wipe it out.

The introduction of the vaccines has brought controversies of many flavors. The developers recommend the vaccines for girls in their early teens. Some parents have protested that such a policy promotes sex before marriage. In 2008, medical experts raised a different set of concerns in editorials in the New England Journal of Medicine. It takes many years for HPV to give rise to cancers, they pointed out, and so we don’t yet know how effective the vaccines will prove to be.

Another potential problem is the fact that current HPV vaccines only target two strains of the virus. The choice makes a certain amount of sense for vaccine makers who have to balance costs and benefits, since those two strains cause about 70 percent of all cases of cervical cancer. But we humans are host to over a hundred different strains of HPV, which are constantly acquiring new mutations and swapping genes between one another. If vaccines decimate the two most successful strains, natural selection might well favor the evolution of other strains to take their place. Never underestimate the evolutionary creativity of a virus that can transform rabbits into jackalopes or men into trees. This is an excerpt from award-winning science journalist Carl Zimmer‘s new book, A Planet of Viruses (University of Chicago Press). You can get the whole book, in e-book or hardback, via University of Chicago Press or Amazon.

Five Truths about Planned Parenthood

A corrective to the current media campaign, from the folks at NRO.  See article for the details of each item –

  1. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider, performing (and profiting from) one out of every four abortions in the United States.
  2. Planned Parenthood increases its abortion numbers with each passing year, bucking the nearly 20-year national trend of a decreasing abortion rate.
  3. Planned Parenthood affiliates have failed to be good stewards of taxpayer funds.
  4. Planned Parenthood fights reasonable laws to protect women and girls because such laws might undermine its ability to make money.
  5. Planned Parenthood partners with those who sexually abuse and exploit women and girls.

Quote of the Day

“Levi Johnston To Affix Name To Book To Be Written By Author To Be Unnamed Later” – Ace

(Actually, “title of the day”.)

Disturbing Cake of the Day

Nothing says "festive" like a stormtrooper taking a dump

College Course in Violence


The Professors are Judy Ancel, Director of Labor Studies at UMKC and  Don Giljum, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers at Ameren UE in St. Louis. (Bonus: he is a member of the Communist Party.)

In the class, the Professors not only advocate the occasional need for violence and industrial sabotage, they outline specific tactics that can be used. As one of our colleagues pointed out, its the matter-of-factness of it all that is so disturbing.

And yes, the schools, and the professors’ salaries, are funded by taxpayers.

The casual buzzwords being thrown around are creepy and worth a listen.

He is Risen!

He is not here, for  He is risen

Öbama’s Döllardämmerung

Mark Steyn says some interesting, and depressing things today –

The president’s plan is to balance the budget by climbing into his Little Orphan Obammie costume and singing: “The sun’ll come out tomorrow / Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun.” We’ve already bet our bottom dollar and it’s looking like total eclipse. But Obammie figures if we can only bet Daddy Warbucks’s bottom dollar, the sun will shine. The “rich” don’t have enough money to plug the gap: As a general principle, whatever the tax rates, the Treasury can never take in more than about 19 percent. Since Obama took office, the government’s spent on average 24.4 percent of GDP. That five-point gap cannot be closed, and it’s the difference between the possibility of a future and the certainty of utter ruin. Hence, outlook “negative.”

By the way, if you were borrowing (as the United States government does) 188 million dollars every hour, would your bank be reassured by a 12-year plan?

That’s 2023. Go back 12 years. That’s 1999. Which, if any, politicians in that year correctly identified the prevailing conditions in the America of 2011? Most of our problems arise from the political class’s blithe assumptions about the future. European welfare systems assumed a mid-20th-century fertility rate to sustain them. They failed to foresee that welfare would become a substitute for family and that Continentals would simply cease breeding. Bismarckian-Rooseveltian pension plans assumed you’d be living off them for the last couple of years of your life. Instead, citizens of developed nations expect to spend the final third of their adult lives enjoying a prolonged taxpayer-funded holiday weekend.

What plans have you made for 2023? The average individual attempts to insure against future uncertainty in a relatively small number of ways: You buy a house because that’s the surest way to preserve and increase wealth. “Safe as houses,” right? But Fannie/Freddie subprime mumbo-jumbo and other government interventions clobbered the housing market. You get an education because that way you’ll always have “something to fall back on.” But massive government-encouraged expansion of “college” led Americans to run up a trillion dollars’ worth of student debt to acquire ever more devalued ersatz sheepskin in worthless pseudo-disciplines. We’re not talking about the wilder shores of the stock market — Internet start-ups and South Sea bubbles and tulip mania — but two of the safest, dullest investments a modestly prudent person might make to protect himself against the vicissitudes of an unknown future. And we profoundly damaged both of them in pursuit of fictions.

Yet Moar Jackalope Art

As typical, click on image for source…

Portrait With Jackalope 11"x14"x1" Acrylic on canvas

Jackalope and friends by Marisa Haedike

Ace the Jackalope attends a ballgame without stigmas

Jackalope masque

Unions == Roach Motels

according to the National Labor Relations Board under Obama :

So Boeing management did what it judged to be best for its shareholders and customers and looked elsewhere. In October 2009, the company settled on South Carolina, which, like the 21 other right-to-work states, has friendlier labor laws than Washington. As Boeing chief Jim McNerney noted on a conference call at the time, the company couldn’t have “strikes happening every three to four years.” The union has shut down Boeing’s commercial aircraft production line four times since 1989, and a 58-day strike in 2008 cost the company $1.8 billion.

This reasonable business decision created more than 1,000 jobs and has brought around $2 billion of investment to South Carolina. The aerospace workers in Puget Sound remain among the best paid in America, but the union nonetheless asked the NLRB to stop Boeing’s plans before the company starts to assemble planes in North Charleston this July.

The NLRB obliged with its complaint yesterday asking an administrative law judge to stop Boeing’s South Carolina production because its executives had cited the risk of strikes as a reason for the move. Boeing acted out of “anti-union animus,” says the complaint by acting general counsel Lafe Solomon, and its decision to move had the effect of “discouraging membership in a labor organization” and thus violates federal law.

roach motel of uncertain union status

I made lots of typos lately

in my tags.

Worst caption I’ve read in a while…

obama sitting in a dark room with a couple of minions

Says the Atlantic Monthly : “Americans are quite pessimistic these days, and this gloomy photo of President Obama sitting with advisers in a dark room probably won’t cheer them up.”

Steven Crowder’s take on Wonkette Überswine, and similar

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