Archive for stem cell research

Have Zombies Eaten Fox News TV Doctor's Brain?


walking dead

Dr. Manny Alvarez, Fox News in-house physician and frequent medical expert for the gab fest called Fox News, thinks that Walking Dead, the AMC hit series, is actually bad for you. Yup, those deteriorated, puss-festering, voracious flesh eating walkers are hurting culture right now. Hey, if some undead creature was coming to eat me, I'd be alarmed too. But doctor, doctor...

Oh, please. For years, Zombies and undead have been part of literature, films and folklore. It goes back hundreds of years, and I think it's safe to say, the number of sightings of real undead creatures is limited. And the number of attacks on humans is even less. Maybe even zero.

So why the alarm? Well, the good -- or sell-out Dr. Manny Alvarez -- wrote in a Fox News column that with American society's obsession with "The Walking Dead" and the inevitable zombie apocalypse, our focus is being pulled  away from "music, education, science or the classics."

I see. Music, education, science and the classics are imperiled. That's a worthy alarm bell to ring. But where's the nexus between Zombies and the imminent harm our American society is facing?

Music: The Zombies are an English rock band, formed in 1962. The group scored British and American hits in 1964 with "She's Not There." Hmm. 1962 is only 50 years ago. We didn't seem to be harmed by them or their song. And just two years ago, Creepshow gave us this music classic:

Education: Dr. Mayim Biyali, (yes Blossom on TV but now a real life PhD in neuroscience) works with a group called STEM:  science, technology, engineering, and math. They teach middle school and high school students. WIRED reports:


The program uses models of zombie outbreaks loaded onto TI graphing calculators, computers, or iPads to demonstrate everything from brain damage (natch) to the patterns in which disease spreads. It’s brilliant, really. Students, inundated by walkers from World War Z to The Walking Dead, already understand the basics of zombie behavior, which provides a gruesome yet entertaining mnemonic device for understanding much more complex ideas.

Science: "Zombie science is a reality. Huffpo reported on it back in February of this year:

zombie cell

Researchers in New Mexico say they've created zombie cells -- near-perfect replicas of mammalian cells that can perform many of the same functions despite the fact that they're not actually alive. But instead of pursuing and eating people as sci-fi zombies often do, these experimental cells may someday do our bidding -- finding use in commercial applications ranging from sensors to catalysts to fuel cells.

The Classics: Well, we have so many to chose from. Authors through the years including Mary Shelly, H.P. Lovecraft, S.D. Perry, Stephen King. Where would we be without film classics like Dawn of the Dead or the shining jewel, Night of the Living Dead.

night of the living dead

Bottom line, Dr. Outoftouch Alvarez, the undead have been with us for centuries and they will be for many more to come. Their "existance" whether real or imagined is not hurting society. If anything, it's giving us and our imaginations ways to imagine how we can make a better life for those of us who are still living. Care to join us?


Supreme Court allows stem-cell research to proceed over objections of abortion-rights opponents

stem cell research cartoon via myspew dot com



Thank you for this one, Supremes. My mother died from Alzheimer's, as did my grandmother and great grandmother, so this one hits home. Aside from a promising compound that restores memory loss and reverses symptoms of Alzheimer's in mice, we still need to explore every option and avenue available to us.

Via The Hill:

The Supreme Court will not review a challenge to federal funding of human embryonic stem-cell research, allowing the controversial studies to proceed.

The justices on Monday rejected an appeal from two scientists who said stem-cell research violates federal law banning the creation and destruction of human embryos for scientific purposes.

The decision is a boon to supporters of stem-cell research, who believe it will yield treatments and cures for diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. [...]

In their ruling, appellate judges acknowledged ambiguity in laws governing stem-cell research, but ultimately deferred to the National Institutes of Health, which supports the studies.

Of course, the same people who equate stem cell research with murder are also the same people who are against legal abortions that save the lives of women whose suffer from life-threatening pregnancy complications. Those who equate blastocysts (cell clusters) and zygotes (single cells) with the already-born, living, and breathing might want to review this:

abortion rights choice

They also might want to remember that the in vitro fertilization process helps couples struggling with fertility to conceive. Unused embryos are eventually discarded, which, of course, they oppose. What would they propose doing with them? Isn't providing the opportunity to bring a life into the world their whole raison d'etre?

And how ironic that their candidate, Willard Mitt Romney, invested in a company that disposed of aborted fetuses from family planning clinics. But I digress.

Stem cells will be used to save, improve, and prolong lives. When will the so-called "pro lifers" finally figure out that stem cell research is one of the most pro-life endeavors there is?


Investments in Iran, China, "morning after pill" continued for years after Romney promised trust would sell off holdings


Another hour, more GOP hypocrisy. This time it's about broken promises over investments that were supposed to have been discontinued due to conflicts with Republican policies. But then this is Etch A Sketch Mitt we're talking about.

Willard Romney's spokesgaffer is using the old "But he has no control over a blind trust!" excuse again. Except that yeah, Willard says he kinda does. (video here)

Romney: The blind trust is an age old ruse, if you will, which is to say, you can always tell a blind trust what it can and can not do. You give a blind trust rules.


WASHINGTON — Presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised in 2007 he would shed any investments that conflicted with Republican positions on hot-button domestic and foreign policy issues. But Romney's family trusts kept some of those holdings and repeatedly bought new ones until 2010, when they were finally sold off for more than $3 million, according to a detailed review of Romney's financial records by The Associated Press.

Recently disclosed tax returns for three family trust funds for Romney, his wife, Ann, and their adult children show scores of trades in companies whose business operations are inconsistent with Republican Party stances that Romney favors on Iran, China, stem cell research, abortion and other issues. [...]

The continual trading between 2006 and 2010 raises questions about why the investments continued for three years, even after Romney said in 2007 that the trust would sell off any conflicted holdings. Those trades came during a period when Romney has sought to convince voters of his conservative Republican values. The trades also raise questions about whether any of the transactions were vetted for possible conflicts or political perception before they were made. [...] 

Romney's tax returns, which he released under pressure on Jan. 24, also described numerous recent stock trades in companies tied to the Chinese government or to its censorship and crackdown on free speech. ... Some of the largest stock trades made by the Romney trust involved companies that have operated in Iran.

About those tax returns, Mitt... See why they could be helpful now? To America, not you necessarily.

Sniff, sniff, detect an unpleasant odor? That would be the smell test that Team Romney is failing.

Much more at the link.


US scientists create mice from two fathers


After reading that AFP headline again, it sounds as if two human fathers created a mouse. That would mean that the fake mouse in my imaginary scenario could have a functioning human brain. Someone alert Christine O'Donnell:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US scientists have used stem cell technology to create mice from two fathers, an advance that they say could help preserve endangered species and even help same-sex couples have their own genetic children one day. [...]

However, the study cautioned that the ability to replicate the findings in humans was a long way off.