Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

I’m not sure how science-y we are as a group, though I do know FairlingonBlade is a big science nerd :-). But I thought my first post would be about the Nobel Prizes. A couple of very worthy discoveries regarding our immune systems. Beutler and Hoffman won for describing a new receptor (Toll-like receptor 4) involved in innate immunity, one that is important for our bodies’ initial response to gram-negative bacteria like E. coli. Steinman won for identifying a new type of cell (dendritic cells) that turns out to be the hub for inducing adaptive immunity, which is responsible for getting rid of pathogens and vaccination.

Here’s the Nobel Committee’s summary:

This year’s Nobel Laureates have revolutionized our understanding of the immune system by discovering key principles for its activation.

Scientists have long been searching for the gatekeepers of the immune response by which man and other animals defend themselves against attack by bacteria and other microorganisms. Bruce Beutler and Jules Hoffmann discovered receptor proteins that can recognize such microorganisms and activate innate immunity, the first step in the body’s immune response. Ralph Steinman discovered the dendritic cells of the immune system and their unique capacity to activate and regulate adaptive immunity, the later stage of the immune response during which microorganisms are cleared from the body.

The discoveries of the three Nobel Laureates have revealed how the innate and adaptive phases of the immune response are activated and thereby provided novel insights into disease mechanisms. Their work has opened up new avenues for the development of prevention and therapy against infections, cancer, and inflammatory diseases.


2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

"E.J." Dionne Keeps knocking Them Out of the Park

My first question for “E.J.” is, are you asking the left to finance a bogus “astroturfed” TeaBagger movement, since the leftist meme from the get-go is that it is all fake? If so, what’s the value in that? Or, are you arguing for a real, populist lefty TeaBagger movement? If so, how is one created? Our only example out there is the fake kind. Unless you think it was real?

These paragraphs are interesting in that he doesn’t say what prompted the right’s “ferocious backlash.” What motivated the rights ferocious backlash against Clinton in ’94? Or Against Truman in ’46? Or FDR in ’38?

“The administration was complicit in this, viewing the left’s primary role as supporting whatever the president believed needed to be done. Dissent was discouraged as counterproductive.

This was not entirely foolish. Facing ferocious resistance from the right, Obama needed all the friends he could get. He feared that left-wing criticism would meld in the public mind with right-wing criticism and weaken him overall.”

I love “E.J.’s” framing of LBJ’s civil rights victories Of using outside groups to help him. Yes, they did help him, it’s just that “E.J.” can’t quite bring himself to mentioned which party was causing him the problems in regards to civil rights. Anybody remember? Paging Al Gore Sr., please pick up the whites-only courtesy phone.

“What’s been missing in the Obama presidency is the productive interaction with outside groups that Franklin Roosevelt enjoyed with the labor movement and Lyndon B. Johnson with the civil rights movement. Both pushed FDR and LBJ in more progressive directions while also lending them support against their conservative adversaries.”

Anyway, I normally think “E.J.” is silly, this proves he can be funny as well.

E.J. In Full Bloom.

Wanting a Re-Do on the 2008 Primary?

A recent CNN.com article (yes, for people paying attention, I went there from our own sidebar, “All News in Moderation”) article speculates that, knowing what they know now, Democrats might opt for Hillary over Obama, and in essence attributes Obama’s primary victory to his camp’s ability to game the system, as it were:

With the nation’s economy — and arguably its politics — in shambles, it is not very surprising to find in a recent Bloomberg poll that 34% of respondents think it would have been better for the country if Hillary Clinton hadn’t lost the battle for the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama. A CNN poll released last week put Clinton’s favorability rating at a tremendous 69%.

Perhaps no one is questioning the 2008 results more than Democratic politicians who must face the voters next year. Right now, it looks like President Obama, rather than offering coattails to those below him on the ticket, may instead be serving up an anchor. This is ironic, when you look back at what actually happened during the Democrats’ 2008 primary, and at who made Obama the party’s nominee.

Monday Morning Linky-Dinks

Looks like the Koch brothers may have a little trouble on their hands. This Bloomberg News piece is a little long for my taste and so it loses some of it’s explosive value but it does give us an inside view of their corporate business culture. Does anyone else find it odd that so many large corporations are just allowed to pay their penalties and fines and then just go on about their merry way as if they’ve been absolved of their crimes and misdemeanors?

Internal company documents show that the company made those sales through foreign subsidiaries, thwarting a U.S. trade ban. Koch Industries units have also rigged prices with competitors, lied to regulators and repeatedly run afoul of environmental regulations, resulting in five criminal convictions since 1999 in the U.S. and Canada.

From 1999 through 2003, Koch Industries was assessed more than $400 million in fines, penalties and judgments. In December 1999, a civil jury found that Koch Industries had taken oil it didn’t pay for from federal land by mismeasuring the amount of crude it was extracting. Koch paid a $25 million settlement to the U.S.

Phil Dubose, a Koch employee who testified against the company said he and his colleagues were shown by their managers how to steal and cheat — using techniques they called the Koch Method.


The New York Times had a piece up yesterday dealing with the new voter ID laws being passed in so many states. My favorite line in the piece calls them a solution in search of a problem.

Five states passed laws this year scaling back programs allowing voters to cast their ballots before Election Day, the Brennan Center found. Ohio passed a law eliminating early voting on Sundays, and Florida eliminated it on the Sunday before Election Day — days when some African-American churches organized “souls to the polls” drives for members of their congregations. Maine voted to stop allowing people to register to vote on Election Day — a practice that had been credited with enrolling some 60,000 new voters in 2008. Voters in Maine and Ohio are now seeking to overturn the new laws with referendums.

The biggest impact, the Brennan Center said, will be from laws requiring people to show government-issued photo identification to vote. This year, 34 states introduced legislation to require it — a flurry of activity that Jennie Bowser, a senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, called “pretty unusual.” Before this year, only two states, Indiana and Georgia, had “strict” photo identification requirements for voters, according to the conference. This year, five more states — Wisconsin, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — passed laws to join their ranks.

Under the Texas law, licenses to carry concealed handguns would be an acceptable form of identification to vote, but not student ID cards.


A new immigration law in Alabama has parents withdrawing their children from school in fear.

McKendrick said he understands the pressures that the families are under and the fear that the new law has created.

“You may hear information and not be sure how valid it is,” he said. “I can understand why parents would be leery of anything that they hear and just try to protect their children and stay in this country.”

Lost class time isn’t the only thing worrying school officials. Funding for Alabama schools is dependent on the number of students it has, and Thompson said a mass exodus would dry up funds, which would hurt all students. She estimated that the district would lose $2 million if the 231 students who were absent on Thursday decided to stay away for good.

“When one student drops out, it affects the funding for the entire system,” she said.


And from the Left Coast Bureau:

The protests are spreading.


For the foodies: Cleaning Garlic a Head at a Time!

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