Friday, January 25, 2013

Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 13

In this Dredd Blog series I have tried to bring up scientific realities that are so radical, new, or mysterious that I have had to use the word "rebel" in the title so as to give readers a heads up.

After reading a few of these posts regular readers know that being a science rebel is not always a bad thing.

That is true, for one reason, because this series also shows that from time to time and often enough, but not always, today's rebel science becomes tomorrow's main stream science, even though at any given moment a new discovery that has surfaced may seem to be anti-scientific, because perhaps it departs from current textbook knowledge (see for example Weekend Rebel Science ExcursionThe Appendix of Vestigial Textbooks - 4 and/or Textbooks Take Another Hit - 2).

An example for illustrating that, as will be seen later in this post, can be seen in a post of this series that will substantially relate to today's post:
In the previous excursion I broached the subject of human-microbe symbiosis, a promising yet unexpected new direction in microbial research and science.

I say "unexpected" because it has the impact of redefining what the nature of our physical being is, redefining what it is "to be human" physically, and, as I will point out in this post, mentally as well.
(Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 10). Today's post, as I said, is akin to that reality because this new rebel science renders substantial libraries of current textbooks obsolete:
Today, we are at the edge of a main turning point in understanding biological processes. The prevailing central dogma of molecular biology of the last 50 years is no more than a subordinate clause, relevant only to a small fraction of reality.
...
Now, the new renaissance of viruses is taking centre stage. Research data from the last decade indicate the important roles of viruses, both in the evolution of all life and as symbionts or co-evolutionary partners of host organisms. There is increasing evidence that all cellular life is colonized by exogenous and/or endogenous viruses in a non-lytic but persistent lifestyle. Viruses and viral parts form the most numerous genetic matter on this planet.
...
To understand their competence in natural genome editing, we have to look not only at their linguistic competence in editing and regulating correct nucleotide sequences, but also at their communicative competence, that is, how they interact with each other, how they compete within host organisms, how they symbiotically interact with host organisms to ward off competing parasites, how they generate de novo sequences and what life strategies they share. Exactly these features are presented in this volume. Persistent infection lifestyles that do not harm hosts, and symbiotic, cooperating viral swarms, may be more successful in evolutionary terms for integrating advantageous phenotypes into host organisms than are “selfish” agents. Increasing empirical data about the abundance of viruses and virus-derived parts in the ecosphere of this planet, and their roles in the evolution and developmental processes of cellular life forms at the level of the microscopic processes of replication, transcription, translation, alternative splicing, RNA-editing, epigenetics and repair, raise a fundamental question concerning a crucial decision about how to define and explain life ...
(Viruses: Essential Agents of Life, at viii-ix; see also this). Uh oh, the big picture we have been textbook taught for the past half century is only attached a tiny bit to reality?

Where have you heard that on Dredd Blog -- perhaps The Ways of Bernays?

Hey gang, how's that for a weekend rebel science excursion?!

Anyway, let's get on with this post:
The agent-based perspective is evident in the observation that every coordination process between cells, tissues, organs and organisms depends on signs that function as signals between signalling agents. Signalling and communication does not occur by signals alone, but by living agents that are competent to use signs. In all cases, the participating agents share a competence to generate signs, to receive appropriate messages and to interpret their content.
(ibid, at x). Oh my, some regular readers are going to be reminded of a recent Dredd Blog post:
The general statement in the quote above ("cancer is caused by damage to DNA that leads to uncontrolled cellular growth and spread throughout the body, either by increasing chemical signals that cause growth or by interrupting chemical signals that control growth") indicates that clear signals are required for healthy cell performance.
...
Regulatory conflicts occur when two signals that individually trigger opposite cellular responses are present simultaneously. Here, we investigate regulatory conflicts in the bacterial response to antibiotic combinations.
...
Quorum sensing bacteria produce and release chemical signal molecules ... bacteria use quorum sensing communication circuits to regulate a diverse array of physiological activities ... Although the nature of the chemical signals, the signal relay mechanisms, and the target genes controlled by bacterial quorum sensing systems differ, in every case the ability to communicate with one another allows bacteria to coordinate the gene expression, and therefore the behavior, of the entire community ... signal integration abilities are critical to survival.
...
We are in constant communication with our microbes, and the messages are broadcast throughout the human body.
(Childhood Leukemia Linked To Government Carelessness, emphasis in original). Oh what science rebels we posters, commenters, and readers of Dredd Blog are!

Note also, another Dredd Blog System post about the importance of one particular virus symbiont:
If not for a virus, none of us would ever be born.
(Are Toxins of Power Machines or Organisms?). Another virologist asked "Can Viruses Make Us Human?":
"THIS QUESTION WILL SEEM preposterous to most. Viruses are molecular genetic parasites and are mostly recognized for their ability to induce disease in their host. Their effect on host evolution has long been thought to be like that of a predator on its prey, eliminating the host with weakened defenses. How can we propose any constructive role for viruses? Many viruses, however, can infect their host in a stable and persisting manner, generally with no disease, often for the life of the host. Such viruses can bring to bear onto their host the viral seeds of genetic creation.
...
Based on this premise, this essay will examine the possible role of viruses in the evolution of complexity, including the evolution of human-specific attributes. This view of human evolution is part of a larger idea, that stable persisting viruses (genetic parasites) can allow the host to acquire complicated functions (complex phenotype) in one punctuated event of colonization. Such a process can now be considered as a possible explanation for several major dilemmas in evolutionary biology. All these dilemmas involve the origin of various host lineages that have acquired a complex and interacting set of functions in a relatively short time frame. Such acquisitions of complexity have always been difficult to explain by a simple Darwinian process."
(Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 148, NO. 3, Sept. 2004, by Luis P. Villarreal, p. 296). Dr. Villarreal was Director (2000-2010) of the Center for Virus Research, University of California, at Irvine (cf. Have We Solved Darwin’s Dilemma?American Scientist).

I further encourage you to read a "less rebellious" review of the book quoted from above at one of my favorite wee little people blogs, Small Things Considered.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post is here.

The great rock group ... Amygdaloids:



Thursday, January 24, 2013

North to Davos Country

Global Warming Divides U.S.eh?
In a 2009 Dredd Blog post about the inequalities afforded to Cavemen, I made a comment about the participants taking part in Davos 2009 in Switzerland.

I was not making any snide remarks, I was quoting a noted news service that was quoting those who were casting some stones:
“Nobody in Davos wants to get near a negative like redemption,” said Robert Dilenschneider, chief executive officer of the Dilenschneider Group, a public relations firm in New York. “But the truth is that everyone here is part of the problem, and the public will soon begin demanding a pound of flesh.”

“No banker or businessman wants to take responsibility,” said Dilenschneider, who counts 40 Davos delegates as clients, their identities shielded by confidentiality agreements. “It’s their view that everybody else did something wrong.”

Questions about responsibility, blame and contrition hang in the cold mountain air at the glitzy Alpine resort this week like so much exhaled breath. With $1 trillion of bank losses and $25 trillion of market value gone missing since the start of the financial crisis, there’s much to account for.
(Davos Delegates in ‘Denial’, Bloomberg, emphasis added). In a nutshell, denialism is the fundamental essence of the ideology of the exceptionalists.

This year's World Economic Forum conference at Davos, Switzerland entertains the mega-denialists once again, however, it seems to be that the denial business is getting a bit more difficult to pull off:
There is also increasing recognition of the worrying trend that multi-year emissions from greenhouse gasses have not lessened due to the ongoing economic crisis. Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), will be in Davos to explain UNEP estimates that about 49bn tonnes of CO₂eq were emitted in 2011, roughly 20% more than the global emissions in 2000.

More disturbing still is UNEP's assessment that under current targets the world is on course for 4°C warming. The new head of the World Bank, president Jim Kim has said that a 4°C world would be "devastating", and so different from our current climate that it will come with high uncertainty and new risks that threaten our very ability to anticipate and plan.

On Saturday 26 January at 11.15 Europe time, an interview with president Jim Kim will be live streamed from the World Economic Forum, in which he will talk about the extreme economic risks of a 4°C world.

2012 was one of the 10th warmest years on record and the 36th consecutive year since 1976 that the yearly global temperature was above the 1960-1990 average, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the US drought in 2012 was another record breaker, with about 45% of the continent in severe to extreme drought by November. The Midwest had the hottest, driest summer since 1936.
(Guardian, emphasis in original). Those are global figures, because 2012 was the warmest year in recorded history for the contiguous U.S., where one whole degree of temperature increase was experienced (the old world of the U.S. took ten years to increase a mere 0.13 degrees).

One tends to wonder what this has to do with the big bucks of the likes of Oil-Qaeda who are the sponsors of global warming induced climate change:
In discussion with US Senators earlier in 2012, leading insurers expressed their concerns about national economic vulnerability to these trends. They estimated that average weather-related insurance industry losses in the US were about $3bn (£1.9bn) a year in the 1980s compared to about $20bn (£13bn) annually by the end of the last decade.

Top executives from many insurance industry giants like Swiss Re, Zurich Financial, Marsh & McLennan and others will also be in Davos to discuss this worrying climate damage forecast.

They will share their concerns with energy chief executives [Oil-Qaeda], economic and finance officials, leading climate negotiators and senior officials and experts from key economies such as China, Europe and the United States.
(ibid, Guardian, emphasis in original). Isn't that special: "In discussion with US Senators earlier in 2012, leading insurers expressed their concerns", which means: "we will not support the crazy candidates who say global warming is a hoax, because it is costing us an arm and a leg."

Well, now you know why Oil-Qaeda is trying, through their right-wing lackeys in government, to plunder more money from your Social Security Insurance, Medicare Insurance, and Medicaid Insurance.

They call those three "good insurance" when they are trying to sell you on it and taking a percentage of every paycheck you earn, but then they call it "bad entitlements" when they want to take it back.

They want to take it back because their pollution of the Earth is killing the private insurance industry and government insurance efforts.

Killing those efforts with climate change catastrophes Oil-Qaeda themselves have caused through their fossil fuel pollution (which they adamantly deny and refuse to acknowledge):
Box also provided a large-scale perspective on how much sea level rise humanity has already probably set in motion from the burning of fossil fuels. The answer is staggering: 69 feet, including water from both Greenland and Antarctica, as well as other glaciers based on land from around the world.

Scientists like Box aren't sure precisely when, or how fast, all that water will flow into the seas. They only know that in past periods of Earth's history, levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases and sea levels have followed one another closely, allowing an inference about where sea level is headed as it, in effect, catches up with the greenhouse gases we've unleashed. To be sure, the process will play out over vast time periods — but it has already begun, and sea level is starting to show a curve upward that looks a lot like…well, the semi-notorious "hockey stick."
(Mother Jones, emphasis added). Thus, a song about death-by-civilization:

Lyrics to the following song can be view here.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Who Is "The Enemy"? - 2

Once upon a time ...
While the inauguration is fresh on our minds, let's reflect on a Dredd Blog post of this date in 2009 (1/23/09).

It may help us to remember that some things do not change whether they should or not.

 Should the use of the word "the enemy" be one of the things that should change, because it has no practical usage, but instead is a tool of propaganda?

For our flashback into history, here is the post from 1/23/09:

The US Constitution requires that every president take "the oath of office". That oath is:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
(Article II, Section 1). The words "enemy", whether domestic or foreign, do not appear in the oath.

Job one then, the only thing a president swears or affirms he or she will do, is "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States".

It would seem then that the enemy is anyone who would damage the US Constitution. An "enemy combatant", by extension, would be anyone who would damage the US Constitution by combat.

The federal court in Washington is giving the new Obama administration an opportunity to define the term.

The Bush regime defined it as anyone the president says is an "enemy combatant" whether they did combat against the US Constitution or not. Not so clear.

What is clear is that a person can obviously be an enemy or an enemy combatant, depending on whether or not combat is involved.

I have a hunch that the new Obama administration will say "enemy combatant" is any non-citizen who seeks to harm the US Constitution by combat.

There is another part of constitutional law that deals with citizens who would take up arms against the US Constitution. It is called treason.

Treason is mentioned in Art. I, Sec. 6, Art. II, Sec. 4, and is defined as:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted
(Article III, Section 3). Since Article III is the one that deals with the Judicial Branch, the courts, it would seem that such behaviour is for the courts to handle, not for military commissions or tribunals to mumbo jumbo through.

The military is for military matters, and the courts are for judicial matters.

Stay focused.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

He helped to open the way
Yesterday was very busy with the second inauguration of our first African American president, Barack Obama.

It was also Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dredd Blog has commented on Dr. King in a couple of posts (e.g. Happy Birthday Dr. King and Dr. King Is Remembered).

In one of those posts it was pointed out:
The only national holiday for an American who did not hold "public office" belongs to the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Lets face it, many great Americans did not hold public office, and in fact, the Dredd Blog philosophy is that those who hold office too long will suffer the toxins of power, unless they have the immunity of a saint.

Dr. King was a force for moving from the right to the left, or to a kinder, gentler nation, as Bush I was fond of saying.

From slavery to citizenship is a long haul, but we did it, with a lot of help from Abe Lincoln and Martin King.
(ibid, Happy Birthday Dr. King). He was a public figure that had healing words that would still work for our nation today:
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it ...

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends ...

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true ...

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity ...

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
(ibid, Happy Birthday Dr. King). Today Dr. King might have said "we have guided drones and misguided men."

According to the verdict of a U.S. court, it was a conspiracy of misguided government officials who assassinated him (see Dr. King Is Remembered, linked above).


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Childhood Leukemia Linked To Government Carelessness

California has the worst Nuke Plant
California has its share of nuclear power plants: Bodega Bay Nuclear Power Plant, Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant, Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Stanislaus Nuclear Power Plant, Sundesert Nuclear Power Plant, and Vallecitos Nuclear Center (proposed, not built).

The one with the worst safety record, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, had to be shut down in January of last year due to "improvements and upgrades" (of all things a plant could be shut down for):
The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant has the worst safety complaint record of all U.S. nuclear reactors according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) safety allegation data.
...
The reactors at the plant have been shut down since 1/31/2012 due to radiation leaks and decades of premature tube wear in newly replaced steam generators – the worst in the nation.
(San Onofre Safety). Recently Dredd Blog pointed out that expert whistle blower scientists working at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission indicate that nuclear reactor regulation is a joke (When You Are Governed By Psychopaths - 4).

That agency's propaganda covers up significant dangers and thereby exposes the public to dangerous risks of various sorts (ibid).

Of course the nuclear regulators do not come out and say "we could care less", because they have a long standing aversion to truth as well as a long standing affection for propaganda ("radiation levels are not dangerous").

"Why are leaks of various sorts a concern," you may be wondering:
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia [ALL] is a form of leukemia, or cancer of the white blood cells characterized by excess lymphoblasts. Malignant, immature white blood cells continuously multiply and are overproduced in the bone marrow.
...
Acute refers to the relatively short time course of the disease (being fatal in as little as a few weeks if left untreated) to differentiate it from the very different disease of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which has a potential time course of many years. It is interchangeably referred to as Lymphocytic or Lymphoblastic. This refers to the cells that are involved, which if they were normal would be referred to as lymphocytes but are seen in this disease in a relatively immature (also termed 'blast') state.
...
In general, cancer is caused by damage to DNA that leads to uncontrolled cellular growth and spread throughout the body, either by increasing chemical signals that cause growth or by interrupting chemical signals that control growth.
...
ALL is associated with exposure to radiation and chemicals in animals and humans. The association of radiation and leukemia in humans has been clearly established in studies of victims of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
(Acute lymphoblastic leukemia,Wikipedia). The threshold for initiation of ALL is low because it only requires one damaged cell:
The development of ALL, like other malignancies of hematologic origin, is believed to involve a transformation event that occurs in a single progenitor cell that has the capability for indefinite clonal expansion. The leukemogenic event may occur in committed lymphoid cells of B- or T-cell lineages or in early precursors, which gives rise to the different subtypes of ALL based on the stage of lymphoid differentiation of the cell in which the event occurred.
(Topics in Pediatric Leukemia, emphasis added). A research project involving the study of infant teeth is still ongoing:
Are tiny Amounts of Strontium-90 Dangerous to Human Health?
Sr-90 is a known carcinogen. When it lodges near the bone marrow, where stem cells form blood and immune cells, there is an increased risk of leukemia and other cancers. Our initial research found that a minute amount of Sr-90 in baby teeth is associated with nearly a doubled risk of childhood cancer and a high incidence of breast cancer.
...
Can the Radiation in Baby Teeth be from Past Bomb Tests?
No, because the observed vs. expected levels of Sr-90 in baby teeth have been increasing during the 1970-1990s, after U.S. bomb testing ended in 1963 and soon after commercial nuclear reactors were built throughout the United States. Most Sr-90 in teeth now comes from nuclear reactor emissions, not past bomb tests. Our initial results show significantly higher Sr-90 levels in western Long Island, New York (which is surrounded by three nuclear reactors) that in eastern Long Island (which is not downwind from nuclear reactors). Bomb test fallout would have deposited Sr-90 evenly over a small geographical area, such as Long Island, New York.
(The Baby Teeth Study, emphasis added). Radiation is more powerful than antibiotics in terms of signal disruptions that can result in ALL and other maladies.

The general statement in the quote above ("cancer is caused by damage to DNA that leads to uncontrolled cellular growth and spread throughout the body, either by increasing chemical signals that cause growth or by interrupting chemical signals that control growth") indicates that clear signals are required for healthy cell performance.

Other Dredd Blog System posts have focused on the reasoning and scientific basis for considering potential serious damage that can be caused in cells when they are confused by conflicting, or otherwise improper, signals:
Regulatory conflicts occur when two signals that individually trigger opposite cellular responses are present simultaneously. Here, we investigate regulatory conflicts in the bacterial response to antibiotic combinations.
...
Quorum sensing bacteria produce and release chemical signal molecules ... bacteria use quorum sensing communication circuits to regulate a diverse array of physiological activities ... Although the nature of the chemical signals, the signal relay mechanisms, and the target genes controlled by bacterial quorum sensing systems differ, in every case the ability to communicate with one another allows bacteria to coordinate the gene expression, and therefore the behavior, of the entire community ... signal integration abilities are critical to survival.
(Microbial Hermeneutics, bold in original; cf. Microbial Hermeneutics - 3). The body's constant internal communication is critical to both human cell and microbial cell behavior:
We are in constant communication with our microbes, and the messages are broadcast throughout the human body.
(On The New Meaning of "Human", bold in original). The reference to "our microbes" concerns the microbial cells within us that are symbionts to us, without which we could not properly function.

In fact, there are 10 times more microbe cells than human cells which compose each of us, there are 100 times more microbial genes than human genes in us, microbes are 99% of our genetic make-up, therefore, microbes and their ability to communicate within us are vital for keeping us alive and healthy (Microbial Hermeneutics - 2).

Thus, signal disruption between or among cells is very dangerous, because defective signals are known to be a cause of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) "either by increasing chemical signals that cause growth or by interrupting chemical signals that control [excessive] growth".

Proper signaling requires the ability to select then send the right signal, to receive the right signal, and to interpret the signal properly once received.

One cause of signal disruption is known to be nuclear radiation ("ALL is associated with exposure to radiation ... The association of radiation and leukemia in humans has been clearly established").

Other studies have linked the Fukushima radiation leaks to increased dangers in California, which add to the dangers that are already coming from The San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant (~22,000 deaths in U.S. due only to Fukushima).

So, people on the west coast in general and southern California in particular need to take precautions to protect the children and the elderly, because those are the two groups who are most at risk (Radiation and Public Health Project).

See also French ALL Near Nuke Plants and Childhood Leukemia Spikes Near Nuclear Power Plants

"It doesn't take an accident for a nuclear power plant to release radioactivity into our air, water, and soil. All it takes is the plant's everyday routine operation, and federal regulators permit these radioactive releases." (Routine Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants in the United States: What Are the Dangers?).

Routine operation of San Onofre means routine sickness and death (Report PDF).

Remember Bikini Atoll (Bikini Atoll nuclear test: 60 years later and islands still unliveable).