"everybody happy as the dead come home"

'Virgin birth' method promises ethical stem cells

In parthenogenesis, an unfertilised egg keeps two sets of chromosomes and begins developing as if it had been fertilised. Some insects and reptiles can reproduce this way but even though an electric or chemical stimulus can induce parthenogenesis in mammals, the resulting embryos die after a few days.

And that, according to its proponents, is the beauty of the technique as far as stem cells are concerned: it produces embryos that could never become human beings. So destroying these embryos to obtain stem cells would avoid the ethical concerns that have led to restrictions or bans on embryonic stem cell research in many countries.

[...] A team led by fertility specialist David Wininger at biotech firm Stemron of Maryland has grown parthenogenetic human embryos to the blastocyst stage, at which stem cells can be obtained. Cells taken from one of the embryos survived for a few days.

[...] Since eggs are needed to make parthenogenetic stem cells, one potential problem is that the technique could not be used to make matching stem cells for men or for women after menopause. Therapeutic cloning, by contrast, could provide matching stem cells for any individual.

However, because cells made by parthenogenesis have two identical sets of chromosomes, rather than one set each from the father and the mother, they have less variation in the surface proteins on cells that can trigger immune reactions. Wininger thinks it will possible to establish a bank of parthenogenetic stem cells that could provide cells to suit most individuals. And such banks would be much cheaper than creating stem cells from scratch for each individual.

Man, the scifi satire just writes itself these days, doesn't it? Thanks to the Religious Right, we end up with effective biological immortality for young women only, with the ageing Falwells going to back-alley baby-in-the-woodchipper Y-chromosome organ farms.

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prepare the Matrix Vats!

Physicists investigate brain power:

Researchers at the University of Tel-Aviv have shown that neurons can self-organize themselves into electrically active clusters of cells in the laboratory. [...] They found that the network, which is initially uniform, separates by the creation of 'borders' that break it into separate 'basins'. Each basin then collapses into a cluster, which remains intact until it degrades. [...] It found that the neural networks were able to self-control the strength of their interconnections, and their shape, to maintain the required level of electrical activity.

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Current Music: Pig -- Volcano ♬

Hello Jesus!

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McWar

War Between Democracies:

"Although there is no undisputed case of two democracies at war, the evidence certainly casts doubt on the thesis. In fact, the thesis is not nearly as strong as the statement that no two countries with a MacDonald's Restaurant have ever gone to war with one another."

Fast food comes to Iraq:

"Fastfood giants Pizza Hut and Burger King have set up their first franchises inside war-torn Iraq, even as many aid convoys waited on the borders for the war to officially end. The arrival of the two restaurants - sited inside giant trailers on a British military base near Basra - won a rapturous welcome from soldiers, whose limited range of rations lost their appeal many weeks ago."

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24 versus La Femme Nikita

So last night on 24, when Robert Glazer ("Operations" from La Femme Nikita) showed up as the latest pseudo-governmental conspirator, it finally clicked for me that "CTU" and "Section One" are the same damned thing. We've got:

  • The Undisclosed Location, with its faux-industrial 80s music video decor;
  • "George from Oversight" versus "Chapelle from Central", the vague parent organization trying to take over and/or looking for a scapegoat;
  • The l33t hax0rs on staff, spending all day sitting at their Max Headroom terminals intercepting phone calls and speaking nonsense tech-babble about cryptography;
  • The vaguely sinister and self-serving boss has a glass office that looks down on the minions;
  • And terrorists, terrorists, terrorists, always from Undisclosed Countries.

Then while writing this I find out that Robert Cochran wrote both shows. Doh! No wonder!

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dnalounge update

DNA Lounge update, wherein the Plumber Conspiracy is revealed.
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beware the disembodied nun head

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Current Music: Ogre -- Borderline ♬

some sarcophagus!

The concrete shield thrown up to block radiation escaping the Chernobyl nuclear power station after it exploded in 1986 is collapsing and needs urgent reinforcement, Russia's atomic energy minister said April 22, 2003. A radiation level check is shown being taken outside the concrete sarcophagus housing the nuclear power plant's fourth reactor, April 21, 2001. (Gleb Garanich / Reuters)

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Madonnarama

Last week, the Madonna Corporation flooded the Kazaa with MP3 files purporting to be tracks from her new album that consisted only of her saying "What the fuck do you think you're doing?" (There was immediately an uninspired gag techno remix of that, which I didn't save the link to: it wasn't very good.)

Yesterday, madonna.com was hacked to say "This is what the fuck I think I'm doing", along with downloadable MP3s of the real versions of the songs in question! Screenshot.

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dnalounge update

DNA Lounge update.
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