Several years back, I read about a rhesus monkey being given the gene for green florescence from a jellyfish. I anticipated a series of followup stories — first the monkey escapes from the lab, then nighttime muggings being interrupted by a mysterious, small, green-glowing figure. Sadly, I see that of the three monkeys given the gene for glowing, the one who survived is the one who doesn’t actually glow.
More recently, though, we’ve had news about a macaque monkey with a robot arm, and a frog with extensible claws like Wolverine. Taken together with the genetically-engineered super-mice, we’re clearly seeing the emergence of some modern-day Legion of Super-Pets. For the Batman figure — the hero without powers who gets by on smarts, perseverance, and blatant auctorial favoritism — I nominate the cat-washing chimp.
Element 109 on the Periodic Table is meitnerium, first synthesized by Peter Armbruster and Gottfried Münzenberg in 1982; Mendeleev referred to it as eka-iridium in his predicted periodic table. Although itself uncontested, the element was caught up in the Element Naming Controversy until 1997, and was temporarily designated unnilennium until it was resolved.
Meitner suffered from the double handicap of being both female and Jewish, at a time and place when either one was enough to stunt a researcher’s career. She was acting director at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry in Berlin when Hitler came to power, and held onto her position by being both Austrian and apolitical. The Anschluss stripped her of these protections, and she fled Germany in 1938. She found refuge in Stockholm, where she could continue her research (in an outbuilding, because the head of the research lab would not have a woman on the premises when men were present).
Meanwhile in Germany, her former collaborator Otto Hahn continued their work while she advised him from abroad. Although Meitner is credited with one of the key insights that led to nuclear fission (she realized that neutron bombardment could split a uranium atom into two nearly equal parts), Hahn had the facilities to do the practical investigation. He received the Nobel Prize for chemistry alone in 1944.*
Meitner does not appear to have been bitter about being overlooked by the Nobel Committee, and remained on good terms with Hahn. She remained in research and became a Swedish citizen in 1949. She died at the age of 90 in Britain, and is buried in Bramley, Hampshire.
There is no record of any romantic involvement in her life. She was close to her nephew, Otto Frisch, and corresponded with many of the brightest scientists of her day. She seems to have been married to her work, an unusual fortune in a female scientist of her time. I hope that she was happy.
* History has its own balance sheet: Until 1997, element 105 was unofficially known as hahnium. In 1997, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry adopted the name dubnium for element 105 and the name meitnerium for element 109. The element hahnium no longer exists.
Uh-oh. Scott McClellan has written a book. It’s called What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.
The headline at CNN reads, “White House ‘puzzled’ by ex-spokesman’s book bashing Bush.”
Perhaps those of us in the reality-based community can help them out: Bush is the worst president in US history.
The White House Wednesday said it was “puzzled” by a former spokesman’s memoir in which he accuses the Bush administration of being mired in propaganda and political spin and at times playing loose with the truth.
“At times”? A shorter list might be the times when they weren’t playing loose with the truth.
Fox News contributor and former White House adviser Karl Rove said on that network Tuesday that the excerpts from the book he’s read sound more like they were written by a “left-wing blogger” than his former colleague.There you have it, straight from Karl Rove: The left-wing bloggers had figured out what was happening and were telling people about it years before the rats started jumping ship and writing tell-alls.
The smear campaign against McClellan has already started.
Another former Bush aide-turned-critic says the reaction to McClellan’s book by his former colleagues has a familiar ring to it.
“They’re saying some of the exact same things about McClellan they said about me,” Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism chief, told CNN.
Clarke left government in 2003. The following year, he accused President Bush of ignoring warnings about the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington and of using the attacks to push for war with Iraq.
But Clarke gave McClellan little credit for speaking out now.
“I think the difference with McClellan’s book is he’s now telling us something we all know — that the war with Iraq was a disastrous war [and] was sold with deception. It’s a little different when you say something as I did and a few other people did four or five years ago, when the war was popular and when we were unpopular for saying what we said.”
The reason “we all know” it was because of left-wing bloggers.
Besides his criticism of how the administration handled the run-up to the Iraq war, McClellan also sharply criticizes the administration on its handling of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in the book.
“One of the worst disasters in our nation’s history became one of the biggest disasters in Bush’s presidency,” he wrote. “Katrina and the botched federal response to it would largely come to define Bush’s second term.”
Where did you read about Katrina? How about right here at Making Light? Particularly August and September, 2005, but lots of stuff after that. (Hey! Scott McClellan is mentioned by name, and it’s not a happy mention.)
Here’s Richard Clarke’s book.
And here’s Scott McClellan’s.
From the Planetary Society weblog: a photo of the Phoenix lander descending to Mars, still hanging from its parachute, still protected by backshell and heat shield. Taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as Phoenix zoomed by.
Bad Astronomy writes:
Think on this, and think on it carefully: you are seeing a manmade object falling gracefully and with intent to the surface of an alien world, as seen by another manmade object already circling that world, both of them acting robotically, and both of them hundreds of million of kilometers away.
Never, ever forget: we did this. This is what we can do.
Since the book has been much discussed around here, it seems like a good idea to announce that Cory Doctorow will make a public appearance in New York City today, speaking and signing from 5 to 7 PM at Books of Wonder, 18 West 18th St, (212) 989-3270. We’ll be there.
We’re sitting at the picnic table, J and I, keeping the remains of our lunch from blowing away. J’s wife S is off shepherding the two year old through the adventure playground. The four older kids pop in and out of view in the distance, crossing bridges, climbing structures, running over the sunlit grass. We’re talking about debating evolution with creationists, and about online community dynamics, and he starts telling me about cichlids.
“They’re a kind of fish,” he explains. “If you have enough of ‘em in the tank, they form a nice, happy community. But if the population drops below a certain level, one of the fish declares himself king. Then he picks one of the other fish and starts beating up on it till he kills it. He’ll do this over and over till you have the tank split, with one nasty king on one side and the diminishing population of other fish on the other.”
One of the kids comes running toward us across the grass, and the conversation turns to cooties. She’s never heard of them. Explanations and folklore follow.
Later, we’ve all moved to a blanket on the grass under the trees, with wine, strawberries, madalenas and strong cheese. J and S are leaning into each other with the bone-deep comfort that the really good couples exude. I’m watching all five kids as they sit on a bridge and dip sticks into one of the canals. We sketch out the bones of the previous conversation for S.
“Oh, God, the cichlids!” She laughs. “I hated that! I’d look into the tank and wonder which one was going to get picked off next. It was awful.”
And then J tells the other half of the story, about the seminar he was in with another, slower student. “The guy kept asking questions about really obvious things. He was driving us all crazy. One day I just snapped. I turned to him and took a piece right out of him. And then I realized that I was being just like the king cichlid, pickin’ on the weaker guy. That these patterns of behavior repeat, from the littlest creatures right on up to us humans.”
He is interrupted by howls of outrage from the bridge. The eldest kid has taken a leafy branch and dipped it in the water, then held it to her head like an angler fish’s light. She’s going up to the others and getting their faces wet with this contraption. The four year old does not like this, and is running toward us in tears. I comfort the afflicted while S has a word with the offender.
Robert Rossney explains how the galumphing prog-rock classic “Close to the Edge,” performed to an audience of foot-stomping, fist-pumping parents by the teenagers of New Jersey’s Paul Green School of Rock Omega All-Stars with honest-to-God Jon Anderson singing lead, is in fact just about the most awesome thing you have ever seen.
Now for something completely different:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — A New York congressman who admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock with a woman who bailed him out of jail on a drunk driving charge this month announced Monday that he will not run for re-election.
Not running for re-election? Gee, ya think?
“This choice was an extremely difficult one, balanced between my dedication to service to our great nation and the need to concentrate on healing the wounds that I have caused to my wife and family,” Rep. Vito Fossella, a six-term Republican, said in a written statement.
Difficult? What’s to choose between not running at all, and getting handed a humiliating defeat?
Fossella, who represents Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, is the 30th Republican to announce they would not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Thirty rats and counting as the good ship GOP goes down by the head.
Republican John McCain accused Democrat Barack Obama of inexperience and reckless judgment for saying Iran does not pose the same serious threat to the United States as the Soviet Union did in its day. The likely GOP presidential nominee made the criticism yesterday in Chicago, Obama’s home turf. “Such a statement betrays the depth of Senator Obama’s inexperience and reckless judgment,” McCain said.McCain has proved beyond the shadow of doubt that he’s delusional. It’s intuitively obvious that Iran does not pose the same serious threat to the US as the USSR did in its day. By several orders of magnitude.
T: What’s that playing on the speakers in your office? It sounds great.
P: Crooked Timber has a MySpace page, with four songs from their forthcoming next album.
T: Crooked Timber has an album coming out?
P: Crooked Timber! I meant Crooked Still.
T: You had me going there.
P: “And looking very relaxed, Michael Bérubé on vibes.”
I’ve been meaning to write a post about Strokes and Head Injuries (sometime after the long-delayed Trauma And You, Part IV), and this isn’t going to be it. It’ll just be a few quick notes.
You have two basic causes for strokes. One is an occlusive stroke: A blood clot gets loose and blocks an artery in the brain. This is very similar to a heart attack, where a blood clot gets loose and blocks a coronary artery (or a pulmonary embolism, where a blood clot breaks loose and blocks one of the pulmonary arteries). The other is a hemorrhagic stroke, where a blood vessel bursts, causing bleeding into the brain, your classic apoplexy. This is similar (in some ways) to a ruptured aortic aneurysm.
When you have someone come down with signs and symptoms of stroke (and these vary depending on how big the stroke is and what part of the brain is affected), you have three hours from the time of onset of symptoms to the start of therapy if you’re going to treat it with anything other than time.
Here are the rock-bottom signs and symptoms of stroke:
What to do: Do not waste time. You don’t have it. Note down the exact time the symptoms started. Call your friends from 9-1-1. You do not need to have all of these signs or symptoms. Any of them should initiate an immediate call to EMS. This is a true medical emergency.
I’m sure you’ve seen those e-mails about How To Tell if Someone Is Having a Stroke. The three tests (arm drift, smile, repeat a phrase). That’s called the Cincinnati Stroke Scale, and while it’s a wonderful tool, and we use it ourselves, it isn’t diagnostic (and lots of things that have stroke-like symptoms, that aren’t strokes, are plenty serious all on their own).
What happens when the nice EMTs take the person away:
1) We give him oxygen, and establish an IV. We ask him (or you) all kinds of questions about his medical history, allergies, medications, and particularly what time it started. The clock is running.
2) Once at the ED, the emergency physician will order a no-contrast CAT scan or MRI, and at the same time run down the checklist for why not to give thrombolytics. This checklist is about three pages long (“Any recent surgeries? Any recent tooth extractions?”) where any “yes” means the thrombolytic path is closed. The first item on the list is “Has it been more than three hours since the first symptoms?” If yes … well. Make the patient comfortable and see how things go.
Now that MRI: The brain scan has to be normal. In the early stages of an occlusive stroke, there are no visible changes. Free blood in the brain shows up as a lighter area, and bleeding in the brain means we don’t want to break up any clots. Dead tissue shows up as a darker area, and if the tissue has already died, well, no point in going on. Or you could see a tumor, and thrombolytics won’t help with that.
3) If the MRI comes back normal, and the patient said “No” to all the questions on the checklist, then comes the big question: “This therapy could kill you. Do you want to go ahead with it?” Being put on thrombolytics is essentially the same as getting an instant case of hemophilia. If you can’t answer the question because you can’t talk (or can’t hear or can’t read), because of the stroke, better hope you have a Living Will that spells out what you want done, or have someone with a Power of Attorney for Healthcare standing by to answer for you.
4) If you say, “Yes” to going forward … the first drops of thrombolytic have to hit your veins inside that three-hour window. That’s why helicopters get involved. To get you to an MRI machine, to get you to a center where they have the guys who’ve done this more than once a year. Then, you have about a 70% chance of getting All Better.
Of course, if you have a hemorrhagic stroke, what you need is a neurosurgeon to tie off the bleeder and relieve pressure in your skull. Different ball game.
Then there are TIAs—Transient Ischemic Attacks. These are so-called “mini-strokes.” The difference between them and a full-bore stroke is that the TIAs spontaneously resolve within twenty-four hours. Don’t ignore them for that reason: They’re a red flag that a major stroke will hit (60% chance) within twelve months.
So what I think is going on with Kennedy: The helicopter was to get him to a good MRI and a major hospital within that three-hour window. The fact that he’s calling people on the phone and talking to them means that he’s (probably) sitting somewhere watching thrombolytics drip into his veins, bored out of his gourd. Chance of recovery? About 70%.
For all of y’all: If you have, or someone around you has, stroke-like symptoms, Don’t Screw Around. Call 9-1-1.
As always, I am not a physician. I can neither diagnose nor prescribe. This post is presented for amusement purposes only, and is not medical advice for your particular situation or condition.
Quoth Xopher, when willed to speak where what is willed may or may not be:
108 is the sacred number of Hinduism. A Hindu mala is a string of 108 beads (usually with a flag bead, not used in counting) for counting recitations of a mantra; Hindu deities have 108 names; the dance of Shiva Nataraja contains 108 poses. The number is also significant in Tibetan Buddhism, Zen, and Shinto.
Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth for 1 hour, 48 minutes: that’s 108 minutes to you and me. I doubt he was doing Japa though, because that would mean each name was a whole minute long! Besides, he was busy.
108 is two squared times three cubed. 108° is the interior measurement of the angles in a regular pentagon. The only regular convex polyhedron with pentagonal faces is the dodecahedron, which has twelve of them. Twelve is also a factor of 108, and a significant number in its own right; twelve Olympian gods, twelve Apostles, twelve hours on an analog clock. 108 hours is about 4.5 days.
Here’s Shakespeare’s Sonnet 108:
What’s in the brain that ink may character
Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit?
What’s new to speak, what new to register,
That may express my love or thy dear merit?
Nothing sweet boy; but yet, like prayers divine,
I must, each day say o’er the very same,
Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,
Even as when first I hallow’d thy fair name.
So that eternal love in love’s fresh case
Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
But makes antiquity for aye his page,
Finding the first conceit of love there bred
Where time and outward form would show it dead.
Thank you, Xopher.
The House Republicans have a new slogan:
In a memo to be sent to Republican members today, the leadership hints at a new slogan building on the change message that has already been shown to have political resonance with a public unhappy with the nation’s direction.I don’t think anyone, least of all the Republican caucus of the United States House of Representatives, really wants a serious discussion of what we “deserve.”
It looks like Republicans will counter the Democratic push for change from the years of the Bush administration with their own pledge to deliver, drum roll please, “the change you deserve.”
Or as another well-known Southern politician once observed, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”
My name is Carl Lau
On the web, on the web,
My name is Carl Lau
On the web
My name is Carl Lau
And a-spamming I did go
To gull writers of their dough
On the web, on the web
To gull writers of their dough
On the web.
(Tune: Captain Kidd)
Long-time readers of Making Light will remember The Uselessness of Airleaf Publishing. Longer-time readers will remember the discussion of Airleaf (called “Bookman Marketing” at the time), in the Follow the Money comment thread.
Now, from Publishers Weekly:
Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter is suing book publisher Airleaf, formerly known as Bookman Marketing, for accepting payment from authors and not following through on its promises to provide book publishing, royalty reimbursement and promotional services. The suit is seeking restitution for more than 120 people who claim to have lost money to fraudulent promises made by Airleaf.
Carter is seeking reimbursement for the affected customers and civil penalties of up to $5,500 per violation of the state’s Deceptive Consumer Sales Act. Owner Carl Lau apparently promised his clients in-person participation at book fairs, presentations to movie producers and advertising.
Carter said that in addition to the 120 people named in the suit, “Hundreds more may have lost money. They paid for services. Airleaf did not deliver, and now those consumers deserve refunds.” Carter said the scheme has been going on since at least early 2006 and that owner Carl Lau used company assets to cover expenses unrelated to his business.
Since at least 2006? I’d say so: they were already notorious in 2003.
Alert Attorneys-General might like to look at the posts by “Herman Gold” and “Dwayne,” posting from the same IP address in Indiana (126.96.36.199) in our comment threads (here and following). “Dwayne” and “Herman” look like they’re posting from Bookman Marketing (per WHOIS), using false identities on the internet for the purpose of deception. Who associated with Airleaf lived on Wilbur Road (39.4615N x 86.4578W)?
Here’s Writer Beware on Airleaf (with links to earlier posts about Airleaf/Bookman), from November, 2007. One of the funniest is the one where Brien Jones (of Airleaf/Bookman) takes on the watchdog sites by revealing that SFWA is owned and operated by a jealous rival POD publisher.
If you are, or think you might be, or know someone who is, a victim of Bookman/Airleaf, you might want to get in touch with Bonnie Kaye. And definitely get in touch with Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter. He’s waiting to hear from you!
If you haven’t been scammed, you can sit back and enjoy the spectacle of Evil’s Just Reward. (More stanzas for “Carl Lau” appreciated.)
Today is Mother’s Day1. Due to the complex interaction of the sun, the moon, and history, it also happens to be Pentecost2. This conjunction can only happen when Easter is as early as possible in the calendar.
It is proposed, therefore, that the common theme of these two holidays be combined and generalized, so that those who do not celebrate one or both of them have some reason to make whoopie today.
Happy Voice of Command Day, in honor of all of those people in our lives who were irrefutably right. Parents, teachers, counsellors and eminences, priests and priestesses, even good books whose words vibrated our very breastbones and set us on the path of whatever righteousness was needed at the time.3
You will celebrate it.
Discuss it here. Keep the rest of the threads safe for people who haven’t read it yet.
Hey, look—it’s an open thread that’s guaranteed to have all its comments.
Overnight, Michael Roberts has restored the missing posts. As he says, restoring the comments will be a more challenging job, albeit one helped considerably by the work of Chris Sullins, who converted the missing threads into a form that will be easier to inject back into the database. Both Michael and Chris are hereby awarded the Hero of the Revolution Medal with matching epaulets, bandolier, cape, toga, sombrero, flippers, and other accoutrements of the well-dressed Making Light regular. More awards will be given before our recovery is complete.
I’ve gone over the restored posts and fixed the glitches I noticed. Apostrophes in headlines had turned into underscores: fixed. A few random words were colorfully highlighted, reflecting the fact that the HTML came from search-engine caches: fixed. The Little Brother cover had gone missing: fixed. Etc.
Lots still to do. The blogroll and commonplaces need to be updated to reflect various small changes over the last couple of months. We need to re-create the “all comments in all threads” RSS feed and put the link to it back underneath the “recent comments” sidebar. The missing Particles and Sidelights need to be restored. The nielsenhayden.com page needs to be brought back up to date. I need to restore the unedited version of Teresa’s recent Observer piece and the recently-posted HTML version of her 1983 essay “The Big Z.”
What else? Use this thread to point out what we’re forgetting and what still doesn’t work.
Short version: Our server fell over hard. Smoke came out. Disks and motherboard did what all hardware eventually does. Which was a great time to discover that the backups I’d been making were, ahem, flawed. The last good backup—home directory and MySQL database—was made on March 1; thus the antiquity of the posts below.
With amazing help from Abi Sutherland, who hosted emergency discussions on her own blog—and with an enormous amount of help from dozens of Making Light readers who scoured Google, MSN Search, Yahoo Search, their own browser caches, and in some cases even their own open tabs—we appear to have collected almost the entire two months’ worth of lost posts and comments. What remains is to get it all wedged back into the MySQL database so that it shows up properly on the site. Plus a miscellany of small tasks, like figuring out why the particles, sidelights, blogroll, commonplaces, etc., aren’t appearing in our sidebars. And setting up a proper cron-based regular backup strategy like we should have done years ago. And, quite possibly, moving to WordPress. We’re going to need a bunch of help with all of this.
Our thanks also to Annette and the other helpful people at Hosting Matters, who have been everything one could want from a hosting service at a moment like this.
More after we’ve had a bite to eat. Simply sorting through and processing the torrent of stuff we’ve been emailed in the last 36 hours has us pretty much exhausted. But thank you. And you can probably take a break at this point—we’ll let everyone know when (and if) we find we’re still missing some piece of the Lost Months.