Friday Evening Poolside BBQ and Beer Fest

July 11, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Gather round and welcome to the first Friday Evening Poolside BBQ and Beer fest where off topic is on topic. You will want to save this since it will be famous someday and at least 1 million people will say they attended. Make a comment and you will have proof you were here.

Here are some topics to get the conversation up and running until we get the keg tapped and the brats off the grill.

Let’s begin with health which has been in the news this week:

(1) Bad news about HIV. The Utah People’s Post is reporting:

Three years ago there was a huge breakthrough in the treatment of HIV for children born with the HIV virus. A young girl (18 months) infected with the virus was cured by an aggressive drug treatment and was virus-free. The medical news took the world by storm and the doctors involved with her treatment and therapy had hoped that this would be the beginning of a new treatment for those born with the HIV virus. Unfortunately it has been revealed today that the girl who is now 4 years old is again HIV positive.

The Mississippi girl had stopped taking her medicine after the doctors couldn’t find any trace of the HIV virus in her system. During a routine checkup it was discovered that the HIV was back, or more accurately put it was detectable. Also, she had a decreased white blood cell count and HIV antibodies; both of these are the tell-tale signs that HIV is present and replicating inside the human body.

The good news is that her doctors put her back on antiretroviral therapy which appears to be working without any side effects.

She was got the virus from her mother who did not know she was infected.

The research for a cure continues.

(2) Bad news about Ebola. Al Jazeera is reporting,

Ebola continues to spread in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, with a combined 44 new cases and 21 deaths between July 6 and 8, the World Health Organisation has said.

This brought the total in West Africa’s first outbreak of the deadly disease to 888 cases, including 539 deaths since February. It is the largest and deadliest so far, the UN agency said.

“The epidemic trend in Liberia and Sierra Leone remains precarious with high numbers of new cases and deaths being reported,” the WHO said on Friday.

The good news is that only one new case has been reported in Guinea where the outbreak began.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified how it spreads (via contact with blood and other bodily fluids, including sweat and diarrhoea) and the most common circumstances in which it spreads (traditional burial practices including washing a victim’s corpse, dense populations in and around the capitol cities of Guinea and Liberia, and regional trade across porous borders.

Since an infected person can be symptom free for 2-21 days before flu-like symptoms appear, he or she potentially could travel anywhere in the world before experiencing the onset of symptoms.

(3) In the oops-careful-with-that-box-Eugene category we have this report in USA Today,

Following a string of public-safety scares, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be shutting down two research labs, temporarily stopping all transfers of samples from high-level biosafety labs and strengthening its laboratory safety precautions, the CDC announced in a report Friday.

The new precautions came following an internal review of the CDC after three separate incidents of possible exposure to dangerous diseases at CDC labs and an FDA lab at the National Institutes of Health’s Bethesda, Md., campus, all disclosed in the past three months. The latest, reported for the first time on Friday, involved the cross-contamination of an animal flu strain with a highly dangerous strain of bird flu.

(4) With antibiotic use increasing around the world by 36% this year and antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria evolving faster than scientists can develop new vaccines to eradicate them, medical researchers turn their attention to our vanishing tropical rainforests for new cures. Here’s Crane-Station’s article from Wednesday with a great 21-minute video on why they are searching in the rainforests.

Water is fine. Come on in.


What’s on your mind tonight?

This is our 1130th post. If you appreciate what we do, please toss some money into the hat. We need it to keep the lights on.

Thank you,


Science and Technology Friday: Tour the Giza Plateau in 3D

June 15, 2012

After 10 years of careful research, Dassault Systems has recreated the Giza Necropolis as accurately as possible. Working in collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which digitized its collection of documents, it has produced a 3D tour of the plateau entering buildings and seeing restored artwork with links to supporting materials.

Try it. It’s interactive. It’s amazing. It’s fun.

And best of all, it’s free.

Science Friday: Untreatable Gonorrhea Superbug Threatens World Health

June 8, 2012

Bet you thought you had enough problems to worry about. Well, here is another one.

Kate Kelland of Reuters reports that scientists discovered a superbug strain of gonorrhea in Japan in 2008 that is resistant to all antibiotics that have been used to treat gonorrhea in the past, especially the cephalosporin antibiotics that are normally the last treatment option.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the disease has spread to other countries, including Australia, France, Norway, Sweden and Britain.

Kelland writes,

Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease which, if left untreated, can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirths, severe eye infections in babies, and infertility in men and women.

It is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world and is most prevalent in south and southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of cases is estimated at around 700,000 a year.

The clever little pathogen has not only mutated to resist antibiotics, it has mutated to cause less severe symptoms. Doctors used to say if it felt like you were passing razor blades when you urinated, you likely had gonorrhea. That is not true anymore and many people afflicted with the disease do not realize they have it, unless they notice a white discharge in their urine.

The WHO regards this as a very serious health threat.

Prevention is the best cure. Always practice safe sex, unless you are in a long term monogamous relationship and you trust your partner

Science Friday: Why Are You So Damned Smart?

May 11, 2012

Greetings to all of you. Today I am initiating a new topic for my blog, titled Science Friday. Each Friday, I will pick a new scientific topic or experimental result and introduce it with a link to more information.

Today, I am starting with an article about partial cell DNA duplication and the role it may have played in developing Homo sapiens sapiens.

Yes, I know this is not about law and this is a law blog. Well, guess what? Even lawyers need to know some science and besides, it is interesting for its own sake.

First, a little background.

The nucleus of each cell in our bodies contains a complete copy of the human DNA genome. Prior to dividing to create a new cell, each cell creates another complete copy of the human genome. Mistakes happen occasionally during this process and the error becomes a genetic mutation, if the cell does not correct it.

Mutations are not inherently good or bad. Whether they are good, bad or neutral depends on the environment in which the organism exists. Most of the time they are neutral. Sometimes, however, a mutation creates a competitive advantage or disadvantage for an organism that allows it to prosper or struggle in the existing environment relative to other organisms that belong to the same species. Depending on the environment, successive generations that inherit the advantage may expand in number and end up prevailing over organisms that inherit the disadvantage and gradually die out. Sometimes the environment changes radically and suddenly amplifying the importance of the advantage or disadvantage. We call this process natural selection.

Duplication is one type of error that occurs during genome replication. When that happens, a section of the genome is copied twice instead of just once. The extra copy can change over time gaining mutations or losing parts.

In a paper published today in the peer reviewed scientific journal, Cell, genetic researchers have reported that they have discovered that the human gene SRGAP2 has duplicated itself twice, approximately 3.5 and 2.5 million years ago. This corresponds to the period when the brains of our ancestors began to expand, increasing cognitive ability, and the now extinct hominin Australopithecus declined and disappeared in favor of the genus Homo that led to us, Homo sapiens sapiens.

The more recent duplication was an incomplete duplication. Using mouse DNA in the lab, they replicated the incomplete duplication and discovered that it appeared to speed the migration of brain cells during development making brain organization more efficient.

To read more about this study, go here to read an article in Discovery News by Jennifer Welch, reporting for on Sunday, May 6th.

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