a virus bag of tricks, exploit that barge, acoustic pinch me

Scientists Discover New Surprise in a Virus’ Bag of Tricks

Yale University researchers have discovered a novel viral survival strategy, an insight that could help scientists better understand how viruses contribute to diseases such as cancer and AIDS.

Viruses have developed a substantial bag of molecular tricks that help them hijack a cell’s own internal machinery and reproduce in huge quantities. Many of these tricks help the virus insert genetic instructions coded by DNA or RNA into the host cell and fool the cell into mass-producing copies of the virus.

However, the newly discovered trick, reported in the June 18 edition of the journal Science, involves tiny snippets of genetic material called microRNAs that do not code for gene products. Instead, these non-coding RNAs regulate the activity of other genes.

The Yale team found that Herpesvirus saimiri, a virus that infects monkeys and can cause cancers, seems to have copied other non-coding bits of RNA from the host cell. One of these non-coding RNAs adopted by the virus interferes with the ability of microRNAs made by the host cell to regulate its own genes.

One of the arguments in favor of predetermination is that genes are destiny. The big picture remains even if the minute details are changeable. That would main viruses are destiny. Making new copies of itself via hijacking one’s genes is your destiny caught up with the destiny of a virus. An organism that occupies a peculiar place in how one defines what life actually is. Or maybe this alien-like invasion of our bodies is part one organism’s free will at the expense of another. While we do not conscientiously encode our RNA and the subsequent proteins, that process is something that we would think of as a unique function required for survival of the animal body, controlled by a code that has evolved over millions of years to make a human a human or a cactus a cactus. A literally mindless – in the sense that we think of a brain and consciousness – virus seems to be capable of taking over control of something that we rely on nature’s programming for. Yet, many viruses do not kill the host and the host can function with a virus wreaking havoc – the common cold. Makes you wonder how much viruses have been entangled with the evolution of complex life forms.

planned chaos

Bill O’Reilly Spins and Distorts Gulf Spill Barge Story

Brassel said the barges are now “back in operating order.”

On Thursday night, the Incident Commander in Houma, Roger Laferriere, decided with the captain of the port in New Orleans to inspect the barges when they realized the ships did not have a certificate of inspection to demonstrate safety equipment on board. Thursday morning, the ships were inspected and grounded because they did not have the proper fire-fighting and life-saving equipment. There were also concerns about the stability of the barges. During the day Thursday, the problems were fixed, and the barges are back out on the water today.

As Media Matters notes 11 people have been killed so far because of the Gulf spill. It was O’Reilly’s considered judgment that spinning the barge story as a political ax against the White House was more important than considering more lives might be lost because of flouting yet more safety regulations. Life does appear to be cheap. It is worth exactly the amount of exploitation the right-wing media can milk from distortions and a lot of twisted opinions.

If only the world could hear you sing with the acoustics of your bathroom. Real life test – Barenaked Ladies – Pinch Me (The Bathroom Sessions)


fish with a green fin, seashell summer wallpaper, marc thiessen slimy morals

Damselfish, Damselfish, How Does Your Garden Grow?

Some damselfish have sensitive stomachs, but they certainly aren’t in distress. They can hold their own, researchers have recently determined, by diligently farming their preferred algae crops.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Stegastes nigricans–otherwise known as the “dusky farmer fish”–has a bit of a green fin, but researchers rarely see such dedication to farming chores in a marine animal. They watched as this fish yanked out less digestible types of algae from their crops and threw them aside to make room for their preferred varieties, like the delicious red Polysiphonia.

I read the headline and thought – green thumb/green fin – and then on further reading find my clever introduction already taken. Anyway biologists also believe the relationship that has evolved between the damsel fish and the algae may be mutualistic since the algae also benefits by having its competitors removed.

seashell summer wallpaper

As we all tell small lies many of us also use a common debate tactic that involves telling others what your ideological opponent did or stands for in false terms, too broad strokes and lacking in details. In everyday conversation it can even be funny. Not so much when the story presented as fact is woven out of fantasy further erodes the moral standing of the United States. Thiessen’s Heroes

A recent post at the AEI website gives us another glimpse into the mind of Marc Thiessen, the Cheney family publicist. He notes a story running in the Washington Post concerning Jennifer Lynne Matthews, the CIA chief at the forward base that was tragically struck by a double-agent suicide bomber, leaving seven Americans dead. Then comes this rhetorical twist:

in the eyes of the American Civil Liberties Union and the United Nations, this makes Matthews not a hero, but a murderer. According to the ACLU, Matthews was engaged in a “program of long-premeditated and bureaucratized killing” and that “violates international law.” According to the UN special rapporteur, her actions “constitute extrajudicial executions.” In fact, neither is true. Matthews was not a war criminal; she was a patriot who gave her life so that the rest of us can live safe from terror. She deserves better.

I agree with the last comment. She deserves better. In fact she and her family deserve an apology from the craven Marc Thiessen, who is trying to exploit their memory for his own cheap political purposes.

I just conducted a lengthy interview with the UN rapporteur, Philip Alston, after reviewing his report. Has he ever said that Jennifer Matthews was a “war criminal”? Of course not. His criticism was not targeted at CIA agents operating under difficult conditions in the field. In fact, he had some compliments for the work they were doing—noting that the targeting in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area seemed to be improving, and agreeing that the United States had legitimate targets in this area. His argument seems far too subtle for a mind like Thiessen’s—it is that the drones, when deployed as lethal weapons in a theater of war, should be operated by the uniformed military, applying the law of armed conflict rules that they train to. He is not saying that the use of drones is per se unlawful, and he is agreeing that drones may be used in a war setting against an enemy that embraces terrorist tactics.

In AEI’s( American Enterprise Institute) and the infamous torture apologist Marc Thiessen’s view there are little, if any rules of war. Dead children are mere collateral damage. yes, that is going to happen with the best of intentions with the best technology and the best trained personnel, but it’s not a slippery slope to be utterly dismissive of such tragedies. Thiessen is at the bottom of the slope well into the gutter. While at the bottom of the moral gutter Thiessen uses a false narrative about Matthews as a shield. Thiessen is racking up quite the scorecard – torture is legal, moral and produces valuable intel, don’t let some innocent civilians get in the way of nihilistic warfare ( that the enemy has killed innocents is not a logical rationale for imitating that behavior), paint your critics as terrorist sympathizers and use someone who actually works to keep weasels like Marc safe as a deflector. Scientists might want to study Thiessen to see if he has a mutualistic relationship with slime.