Posts Tagged ‘stimulus

09
Mar
09

Eric Cantor Likens Stem Cell Research To Human Cloning


Oh, Eric Cantor, you are such a fucking idiot.

If I don't understand it, it must be evil/useless/imaginary.

I know hating on stem cell research is what all the cool(?) kids in the GOP are into, but come on.
“Frankly, federal funding of embryonic stem cell research can bring on embryo harvesting, perhaps even human cloning that occurs,” he said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union”.
OK, OK, once and for all, let’s do this:

From the NIH (an agency of the government you work for…when you’re not managing the asshole store, that is):

Studies of human embryonic stem cells may yield information about the complex events that occur during human development. A primary goal of this work is to identify how undifferentiated stem cells become differentiated. Scientists know that turning genes on and off is central to this process. Some of the most serious medical conditions, such as cancer and birth defects, are due to abnormal cell division and differentiation. A better understanding of the genetic and molecular controls of these processes may yield information about how such diseases arise and suggest new strategies for therapy. A significant hurdle to this use and most uses of stem cells is that scientists do not yet fully understand the signals that turn specific genes on and off to influence the differentiation of the stem cell.

Human stem cells could also be used to test new drugs. For example, new medications could be tested for safety on differentiated cells generated from human pluripotent cell lines. Other kinds of cell lines are already used in this way. Cancer cell lines, for example, are used to screen potential anti-tumor drugs. But, the availability of pluripotent stem cells would allow drug testing in a wider range of cell types. However, to screen drugs effectively, the conditions must be identical when comparing different drugs. Therefore, scientists will have to be able to precisely control the differentiation of stem cells into the specific cell type on which drugs will be tested. Current knowledge of the signals controlling differentiation fall well short of being able to mimic these conditions precisely to consistently have identical differentiated cells for each drug being tested.

Perhaps the most important potential application of human stem cells is the generation of cells and tissues that could be used for cell-based therapies. Today, donated organs and tissues are often used to replace ailing or destroyed tissue, but the need for transplantable tissues and organs far outweighs the available supply. Stem cells, directed to differentiate into specific cell types, offer the possibility of a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, spinal cord injury, stroke, burns, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
For example, it may become possible to generate healthy heart muscle cells in the laboratory and then transplant those cells into patients with chronic heart disease. Preliminary research in mice and other animals indicates that bone marrow stem cells, transplanted into a damaged heart, can generate heart muscle cells and successfully repopulate the heart tissue. Other recent studies in cell culture systems indicate that it may be possible to direct the differentiation of embryonic stem cells or adult bone marrow cells into heart muscle cells (Figure 4).


In people who suffer from type I diabetes, the cells of the pancreas that normally produce insulin are destroyed by the patient’s own immune system. New studies indicate that it may be possible to direct the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells in cell culture to form insulin-producing cells that eventually could be used in transplantation therapy for diabetics.

To realize the promise of novel cell-based therapies for such pervasive and debilitating diseases, scientists must be able to easily and reproducibly manipulate stem cells so that they possess the necessary characteristics for successful differentiation, transplantation and engraftment. The following is a list of steps in successful cell-based treatments that scientists will have to learn to precisely control to bring such treatments to the clinic. To be useful for transplant purposes, stem cells must be reproducibly made to:

* Proliferate extensively and generate sufficient quantities of tissue.
* Differentiate into the desired cell type(s).
* Survive in the recipient after transplant.
* Integrate into the surrounding tissue after transplant.
* Function appropriately for the duration of the recipient’s life.
* Avoid harming the recipient in any way.

Also, to avoid the problem of immune rejection, scientists are experimenting with different research strategies to generate tissues that will not be rejected.

‘Kay? Human cloning is NOT THE SAME as cloning human tissue to be used for medical treatments that might otherwise be impossible. I know, it sounds scary and generates lots of knee-jerky “OMG”s amongst the mouth-breathing part of your base (the whole base?), but it’s fucking nonsense and you know it. Here’s where I really got pissed at you, though:

“[L]et’s take care of business first. People are out of jobs.”

I’ve been belaboring this point of late, but it needs belaboring. In the interest of driving it home, allow me to paraphrase one of your party’s heroes, Charlton Heston:

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IS DONE BY PEOPLE!!! IT’S PEOPLE!!!!!

What I mean is, funding scientific research keeps people employed, and gives unemployed scientists jobs. I should know, since I’m a bonafide employed scientist who is looking to continue thusly. Really and truly I am, and I got the fancy schmancy alphabet soup after my name to prove it!

In short: I exist. I need a job. Funding science gives me a job. That supports my (and my thousands of compatriots’) finances and makes me willing and able to be spending money in the United States. Except at the asshole store. Its manager is a total loon.

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04
Mar
09

John McCain, I Am Here To Take You To School, Motherfucker


That may sound strong, but it was the first thing that came to mind when reading his Twittered list of wasteful spending.

I shouldn’t let it bother me, since I knew it was coming. I even told my husband, when I saw there would be a list, that I would bet all our money on scientific endeavors topping it. Still, seeing that, once again, scientific research and education (like that “infamous” planetarium we heard about ad nauseum during his debates with Obama) gets the shaft from old McNasty just kills me. And so, as is my profession, I will now explain to the old man why he’s active like a fool in opposing governmental funding of science. Here we go.

As an experimental scientist, I am going to illustrate to you how the experiment I work on has revitalized an economy abroad, thereby explaining how experimental science is stimulus for failing economies, m’kay?

I first started with my current experiment about 8 years ago. Remember what was going on in Argentina around that time? Probably not, but, boy howdy, we do. They went bankrupt. Kaput. No mas dinero. Luckily, though, they still came through with the money that had been promised for our project. Was it because they desperately want to know the origins of the highest energy particles in the universe? I doubt it (it is, after all, knowledge that it useless for anything other than sounding smart at parties, practically speaking). Nope, they did it because it was an economically stimulative thing to do. How, you ask?

Scientific field research usually requires a large, untouched area. I could explain why, but it would involve words like “light pollution” and the like, and I don’t want to confuse you. Suffice to say that, for our experiment, we had to go out to the pampas and into a tiny town with no industry in it whatsoever. I don’t mean it had a couple of small businesses; I mean there was nothing. Nada. Zip. An old, abandoned salt mine. The men there had two options: be a goat farmer, or join the gendarme. The women had two options also: marry a goat farmer, or marry a member of the gendarme. While there were schools there, it was impossible to get them to attend past the age of 13 or so, since they began to see there was no point. And then they’d start getting pregnant (the abstinence-only education really is effective, eh?), having children they couldn’t support, and the cycle continued. I knew a teacher there who had to drag her 15-year-olds to class while they were pregnant with their second child. Really, it was rough.

So in we came: 250+ scientists from around the world. And we needed stuff. Like places to stay, places to eat, and people to help us construct an enormous and costly experiment. Over the last 8 years, I have watched the hotel prices go from $8 a night to over $60. I’ve seen multitudes of new restaurants open every year. Curio stores, tour guides, bakeries, and other shops now line the streets. Everyone there has a job, mostly centered around bilking us our per diems (as I suggested to my beloved hotel proprietor). And we happily pay it, because we are academics. Which means we’re activist hippie types at heart.

We show our bleeding hearts, in part by patronizing a ton of local businesses, but also by taking the most talented of the kids in the schools there and sending him, all expenses paid, to a university in the United States. The first such recipient graduated in 3 years with honors, then went on for his doctorate.

That’s how it works, on a practical level. But why focus on increasing the scientific and intellectual curiosity of our youth, with “wasteful” projects like making planetariums up-to-date or promoting astronomy in Hawaii? While I know that Arizona has no interest and/or economic stake in supporting astronomy (sarcasm doesn’t translate to the written word very well; what I mean to say is that YOUR FUCKING STATE houses one of the biggest and most active astronomical communities in the world, one to which I’ll be bringing Irish funds to spend soon). One of the second biggest communities resides in Hawaii, a place that drew $10 million from an old millionaire’s fortune for the express purpose of bettering the astronomical research done there. So, the promotion of astronomy has, historically speaking, brought in a buck or two here and there.

Besides, lack of education and intellectual curiosity is what brought us this:

…and, subsequently, this:

Now, see? Scientific research is stimulative to jobs for people from all walks of life, and education is never a waste of time. Not even for old, bitter men.

23
Feb
09

From “Big Tent” To “Ginormous Tools”


Is the GOP trying to be the party of douchebags, nutjobs, and the deranged? Cause, Jesus God, man, are they ever championing the worst of the worst lately. Now, normally I wouldn’t mention this, since…well, I don’t really care if they implode, and I kind of don’t want to alert them to the fact that they are. Still, in light of a one-party democratic government not working for anybody anytime anywhere, I’m going to let those on the other side of the fence know my thoughts on their presidential hopefuls.

I’ll admit it. I’d LOVE to watch Palin run for POTUS in 2012. Seriously, how much fun would it be to see that? Palin answering serious questions about why she skipped the conference on energy hosted by the nation’s governors, even though her state is, shall we say, interested in what happens there? Brilliant. Bringing back up Troopergate? Her husband’s meddling in state affairs? Her hypocrisy and stupidity and willful ignorance of the basic facts of nature (her assertion that we piss away money on fruit fly research while sounding her call to join her in doing that same research was especially priceless) is just darling!

Kathryn-Jean Lopez wants that champion of the working man, Rick Santelli, as her running mate? Better yet. Rocketing to stardom by calling about-to-be-homeless grandmothers “losers” while being cheered on by your stockbroking friends (who, it has to be noted and noted and noted, are on the goddamned gubment cheese themselves) will play awesome in the square states. Go for it!

But I have to say, and it’s probably because I was there for Katrina and its aftermath, I think Jindal’s the one to beat. The notion that Republicans should be so playing to the Christian right as to run a man who’s performed exorcisms is just so good it had to be fattening. I know, I know, they think he’d recreate the whole “Big Tent” mythology, since he’s young and brown and all, but his grandstanding refusal to take stimulus money takes said fattening cake.

Granted, his refusal of government funds is, on its face, infuriating. However, knowing that there’s no way the state legislature is going to let him turn down money when the state is in such need (a fact of which I’m sure he’s more than well aware) has tempered my rage and brought me to the conclusion that he HAS to run! Watching him explain how his claim that Kathleen Blanco’s refusal of federal help, which he says is what led to the poor governmental response (and won him his current spot), is somehow different or worse than this…oh, sweet fancy Jesus, pleasepleaseplease let him run!

Oh, to be a fly on the town hall wall while Jindal explains to the bitters why he would have rather reallocate non-existent funds to help very-existent people…but then, to make that happen, maybe we’d need more of that silly science research.

23
Feb
09

Condit Exonerated: A Bad Week for the GOP


Boy, do you ever have one of those weeks where just nothing seems to be going your way? Like maybe your kid decides she’s going to read only Sylvia Plath for the rest of her life, your boss decides your talent really lies in retail, and you find out your wife’s boning her way through the phone book? Well, then, you can relate to the week our country’s Republicans have just had.  Yup, the GOP’s just gotten through one doozy of a shitter, and are probably all curled up with a hot cup of cocoa, a good book (I’m betting it’s a Reagan memoir), and are just hoping Calgon can take them away from all this:

1. Obama’s stimulus got passed without their support.

2. Total idiot, Chris Buttars, may be coming to the end of his reign of terror.

3. Obama’s popularity tops Jesus in some wacky poll (and we all know how well that worked out for the Beatles).

4. Your own people are trying to vie for the stimulus money they voted against. Worse yet, the hippie media knows about it.

5. Your super-duper BFFs over at the Post finally went too far, and even Big Papa Murdoch’s pissed enough to make them apologize.

6. That apology is so horrible and half-to-no-assed, it incites the world to take notice of their asshattery (and, maybe worse, Spike Lee to call on athletes and celebrities to stop talking to them).

7. And now it’s looking like Chandra Levy really was just the victim of some maniac, and not the Democratic representative of anywhere.

Let’s all just bow our heads for a moment for our fallen brothers-in-nationality-only.

There. Back to evisceration.

19
Feb
09

Un-Fucking-Believable


This is low. Even for Murdoch and his cronies:

The New York Post is in trouble, since they just published the most racist cartoon I’ve seen in my lifetime (and directed at the president, to boot!).

Amazingly enough, I think Sharpton’s tone is quite measured in his response:

Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama … and has become synonymous with him, it is not a reach to wonder: are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?… The Post should at best clarify what point they were trying to make, or in fact reprimand their cartoonist.

That’s it??? Dammit, man, where’s your outrage??? Has Obama already lifted our hopes (and our level of national discourse) so high that blatant and horrifying racism doesn’t bother us as much as it used to??? Call me crazy (the voices in my head sure do), but I think this may be possible.

Take, for example, Michele Bachmann’s latest sermon on the mount, in which she not only claims our nation is run by Socialists (we already know how much she wants to reinstate McCarthyist witch trials within Congress, so this part ain’t news), but complains that, “We’re running out of rich people in this country.”

Normally, I’d go on a rant about this, outraged at her implications that (a) rich people are somehow more important than the filthy proletariat over whose bloated and stinking corpses they’re forced to step each morning, and (b) she herself is not well off. I was surprised, though, to find myself giggle when I read this. I then went to grab some milk and cookies, watch a “Flight of the Conchords” (incredibly enough, about how evil Aussies are…hahaha, Rupert, you’re descended from criminals), and hit the sack. But I honestly felt no anger at the time. No bewildered and horrified fury. Just amusement at the GOP’s staggeringly misguided attempts to find their voice and their way, now that they are confronted with the fact that their majority was neither permanent nor popular.

Is this what the GOP has been feeling the last 8 years? No wonder they were always so relaxed…

17
Feb
09

Stimulate Yourself To The Oldies


I’m taking this opportunity, and probably abusing this forum, to propose my own stimulus package. Of course, we all know it won’t happen for a number of reasons (too focused on the long-term, could be seen as encroaching as people’s individual liberties, I’m an not now–nor will i ever be–a public figure). Still, knowing full well this is going to fly in the face of an awesome–but terrifying–article I just read in Slate, here ’tis:

Step 1: Revamp public transportation.

I know this is part and parcel of virtually any (sane) person’s stimulus plan, but my proposal is further reaching than revamping what we have. Make it accessible to everyone everywhere, suburbs and rural places alike.

Step 2: Tax The Holy Hell Out Of Cars.

I was going to propose just taking them, but this way people can still have their cars, so long as they pay for them. Specifically, I’m thinking of the Dutch model, in which people are taxed on the cars according to their weight. Want a Hummer? Fine. Just pay the government what it will cost them to maintain the roads you’re going to savage. (This tax could be built in to the corporate tax companies reliant on the trucking industry already pay.)

Step 3: Watch What Happens.

As I said, this plan just occurred to me the other day, when, while riding the train to work, I noticed that I have somehow or other gotten really defined arms. While not amazing in and of itself, it is worth noting a few things as background:
a) While living in the States, I taught fitness classes. Like, a lot of fitness classes. About 15 per week. Meaning, I was at the gym at least twice daily, doing step, kickboxing, pilates, spinning, and weight training for the masses.
b) As such, I was in pretty goddamned good shape.
c) I have not been back into a gym since moving from the States almost two years ago.
d) In that time, I’ve had a baby.

Given all this, it was a shock to realize that my arms were suddenly much more toned than they had ever been. And the reason why became clear the next day, as I was taking the train home from a brief jaunt to an Indian market, heavy bag and big baby in tow. Walking, carrying my own groceries, clinging to my child like a mama chimp, etc., has made me the incredible shrinking woman, while building up some seriously good musculature.

Why would national weight loss be stimulus?

1. It would stimulate the poor farming industry, since junk food is not so appealing to the chronically active. (I say this as someone who routinely consumes at least 90% of her calories as junk food, if I’m allowed.)

2. It would save literally an assload of money in health costs, thereby helping people pay lower premiums. Extra change in pockets = extra spending.

3. The jobs created by the infrastructure part alone would employ a ton of people (doing manual labor, which would also aid the eventual goal of de-fatting our nation’s populous).

4. Public maintenance would go hand-in-hand with this.  It’s not so bad to drive by a urine-and-shit-stained sidewalk, but walking in it is unacceptable to all but the brave few who live in Times Square.

5. Why’s it got to be about dollars and cents with you people?  The quality and quantity of life would be improved.  What do you have against old people anyhow?  They’re not all Strom Thurmond, fer cryin’ out loud.

And now I’m going to finish my cookie before I take my 20-minute walk to pick up my daughter at daycare 😛

16
Feb
09

Hang On A Sec…

From Ben Smith’s blog on Politico:

Yes, that’s Lindsay Graham, on “This Week with George Stephanopolous” today:

“Yes, this idea of nationalizing banks is not comfortable, but I think we have gotten so many toxic assets spread throughout the banking and financial community throughout the world that we’re going to have to do something that no one ever envisioned a year ago, no one likes, but, to me, banking and housing are the root cause of this problem.

And I’m very much afraid that any program to salvage the bank is going to require the government. …”

Stephanopolous interrupted to ask what he would do now, and Graham replied: “I would not take off the idea of nationalizing the banks.”

Later Chuck Schumer, tacking to Graham’s right, cautioned:

“Let me just say this. George Bush, a very conservative president, had more government intervention in the financial system than any president in history. But I would not be for nationalizing. I think government’s not good at making these decisions as to who gets loans and how this happens.”

And Lindsey Graham is the South Carolina Republican who voted against the stimulus, saying there was too much money for increasing the size of government and pet legislative projects, right? And Schumer’s the hippie socialist-type who, in mid-January, was “very interested” in a Wall Street bailout that would have the US acquire toxic assets from troubled financial firms and sequester them in a government-owned “bad bank.”

Have we argued so much about the stimulus and the TARP that we’ve switched sides?