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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mamma's House Rules

... And mamma is always right!

One last, important thing my mom taught me about living (and I learned it--a little bit)... in any hardship, richer or poorer, through gout and shingles, broken bones and old age, sad or disappointed... she would always shrug her shoulders, remind herself of what she had to be thankful for and say:

"Into each life, a little rain must fall."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Life Immortal and Death... on the Titanic and Otherwise

It was the biggest ocean liner ever built, at the time... and it was UNSINKABLE! Oh yeah? Well, who's fault was that anyway? The Captain's, of course, because they always get the blame.

May we have a word, Captain Smith?

Glug, glug, glug. (I know... not funny.)

But current science has pointed to God, of all people... or rather the cosmos. (Same difference, yes?)

It has been 100 years, to the month (time flies, doesn't it?) since that tragedy. But just recently, experts have determined a cosmic convergence was actually a co-conspirator. On January 4, 1912, the sun and the moon were in perfect alignment. But what made this even more gravitationally effective is that the moon, in its oscillating orbit, was closer to the earth than any time in the last 1,400 years. As icing on the cake, the earth was at its closest annual proximity to the sun. The tides were exceptional. Ya follow?

The rising sea, it is now theorized, allowed older bergs that had been grounded in the shallow waters off Labrador and Newfoundland, to float loose and enter the busy shipping lanes acting like natural land mines. 1,517 people lost their lives that night.

Now, on to immortality, or, as Buzz Lightyear might say, "To infinity and beyond."  Have you read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot? Here's a review called Eternal Life by Lisa Margonelli that is a great synopsis:

"From the very beginning there was something uncanny about the cancer cells on Henrietta Lacks’s cervix. Even before killing Lacks herself in 1951, they took on a life of their own. Removed during a biopsy and cultured without her permission, the HeLa cells (named from the first two letters of her first and last names) reproduced boisterously in a lab at Johns Hopkins — the first human cells ever to do so. HeLa became an instant biological celebrity, traveling to research labs all over the world. Meanwhile Lacks, a vivacious 31-year-old African-American who had once been a tobacco farmer, tended her five children and endured scarring radiation treatments in the hospital’s “colored” ward.

"After Henrietta Lacks’s death, HeLa went viral, so to speak, becoming the godmother of virology and then biotech, benefiting practically anyone who’s ever taken a pill stronger than aspirin. Scientists have grown some 50 million metric tons of her cells, and you can get some for yourself simply by calling an 800 number. HeLa has helped build thousands of careers, not to mention more than 60,000 scientific studies, with nearly 10 more being published every day, revealing the secrets of everything from aging and cancer to mosquito mating and the cellular effects of working in sewers.

"HeLa is so outrageously robust that if one cell lands in a petri dish, it proceeds to take over. And so, like any good celebrity, HeLa had a scandal: In 1966 it became clear that HeLa had contaminated hundreds of cell lines, destroying research as far away as Russia. By 1973, when Lacks’s children were shocked to learn that their mother’s cells were still alive, HeLa had already been to outer space."

If this sounds interesting to you, it is worth your time. We not only owe Henrietta for much more than we realize, her cells are the closest thing to immortality that we have... so far. 

Yet another example of  the awsome power of one.

And finally, The Supreme Court has the task of determining if a baby, conceived by deposited sperm cells 18 months after the death of the father, would be considered eligible for Social Security.  In other words, is their life after death? Does posthumous conception count ? Uncle Sam will soon tell us.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

There are some things that make sense... then there is the real world

Natural gas is abundant in Colorado... ask anyone who has eaten beans with a friend who just happens to have a lighter. But enough of that. I mean the the natural gas kind that comes from the ground.

There is this woman, says a reporter, "who has so much natural gas in her water supply that she can turn on a faucet, flick a lighter and watch flames shoot up from the sink (so she) tells authorities that she fears for her life. See," says the reporter, "this is the problem with Americans today. All they do is whine, whine, whine. Even more egregious is that the woman is being billed for several cubic feet of natural gas every time she brushes her teeth."

 In a small Italian village near Naples, the mayor has decreed that, because his village has no cemetery--and is feuding with a neighboring village that does, it is against the law to die in Falciano del Massico. "Unfortunately," said the mayor, "two elderly citizens disobeyed." Put your troubled mind at ease, the city won't prosecute. Those law-breakers however, still have to answer to 'a Higher Power.' However, if this thing works, just think of the tourism implications. Take that Lourdes.

Today's puzzler: Tell me the 10-letter name that includes the letters zkzkwrys. No, it really is a name. Hint: the two missing letters are vowels... and the y does not go at the end. Another hint: be 'un'hooked on phonics. Final hint: the name is pronounced shashefski. Yep. Duke Basketball coach Mike Kryzewski is the one that even the best spell-checker programs always underline in red. Some call him "Coach K," even though the "K"sounds like a "shu." (Is that what they teach at Duke?) UNC and NCState fans, in their moments of disgust, refer to him as 'The Mole." I wonder where they get that?

Meanwhile, the mayor of Buford, Wyo. has decided to sell the town between Cheyenne and Laramie  to the highest bidder. How do the Bufordians feel about that? Well, it is unanimously okay. The town only has a population of one... His Honor.

And finally, all it takes is a little gall and you can (try) to get away with anything:
  • An accused murderer is suing the couple he held hostage while hiding in their home. He wants his victims to pay him $235,000. He says they breached their oral contract to stay put by escaping as he slept, "resulting in my being shot in the back by authorities."
  • The two thieves who stole an Oregon man's car and later crashed it while driving drunk, are suing the owner. They say they wouldn't have been injured if they weren't driving his car. Well, they are right, you know.
  • A New York City convict is asking $1 million from prison officials because they had no green jumpsuits to fit his size 7X, 400-pound body. Says he suffered emotional damage by spending eight months in jail wearing the same T-shirt and sweat pants--washed occasionally, I presume. Otherwise, give him the money. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Here's what I think about that:

Thinking... thinking... thinking. Hmm: 

 I think records are made to be broken... but come on now! A recent scientific study seemed to show the speed of light--186,000 miles per second-- a physical absolute proven in 1905 by Albert E (=mc2) Einstein, is a wrong! Like the four-minute-mile, Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak or Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game, some records seem made to stand, forever out of reach... until proven they aren't.

Well, take that Einstein... the speed of light record is no more... or is it? Tests did show an atom-like particle called a neutrino was a few feet per second faster than what was believed to be the physical speed limit. Was Einstein disgraced? Absolutely not! When the test figures were checked, it seems the geniuses who thought they were smarter than Einstein had forgotten to carry the 2 in their addition of data. So the winner and still champ is... ta dah... Albert "the incredible" Einstein. Nice goin' Al.

I also think...

... that slavery is a terrible scar on mankind. But when a group seeking to free the whales at Sea World filed suit on the whale's behalf, claiming constitutional protection against slavery, a mean-spirited judge said the 13th amendment applies only to humans. (Can Sea World be so bad when it has a playground for children called Shamu’s Happy Harbor?)

Still thinking...

I think that it is incredible that we have finally reached Lake Vostok, a never-before seen freshwater lake that lies 2.2 miles below the glacial surface of Antarctica. This treasure is expected to provide many clues about long ago life on earth. I think it is even more incredible that it took a the scientists 10 years of continual drilling to reach the lake. Sounds exactly like my dentist when I was a kid.


I think is is amazing that a Masai warrior with a smartphone on Google has access to more information than the president of the United States did just 15 years ago. What does that tell us about Bill Clinton?

But then...

I think the Florida senate is crazy. By a 37-1 margin, it voted to legalize no-hands bike riding. Don't they realize how dangerous that could be? (Oh, hey... I get it now.)

 And finally...

I think congratulations are in order to us, the world. We are making real progress in better ways to kill more people. The pros at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico have invented a bullet that directs itself to a target like a tiny guided missile. While flying through the air, it can make as many as 30 corrections a second to kill someone more than a mile away. Now that's progress!