You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2010.

1) Why science research takes so long to find a cure, from Non Sequitur comic strip:

Two scientist in the lab.  #1 – “Woo hoo! I did it! I found a cure!  #2 – “That’s great Ralph.  Now what do we do?’

#1 – “Uh…what do you mean?”  #2 –  “Well, now that you found a cure our funding stops.  It will go to another department.”


#1 – Woo hoo! I just made a major breakthrough that will require lots more research! 

Okay, maybe you have work in a lab to get this.  However it may not be that far from the truth.  The competition for funding money is the same in science as it is in any business sector.

 2) Science picture of the week

Spring Comes To Mars

Spring has sprung on Mars, bringing with it the disappearance of carbon dioxide ice (dry ice) that covers the north polar sand dunes. In spring, the sublimation of the ice (going directly from ice to gas) causes a host of uniquely Martian phenomena.

In this image streaks of dark basaltic sand have been carried from below the ice layer to form fan-shaped deposits on top of the seasonal ice. The similarity in the directions of the fans suggests that they formed at the same time, when the wind direction and speed was the same. They often form along the boundary between the dune and the surface below.

From a slide show on the NASA site:

3) Two stories demonstrating that the promise of stem cell research is beginning to pay off.

a) At University College London scientists and surgeons have led a revolutionary operation to transplant a new trachea into a child, using the child’s own stem cells to rebuild the airway in the body.

The boy, who has not been named, is recovering from surgery but his condition is stable and he is breathing unaided.

He was born with a rare condition called Long Segment Tracheal Stenosis — a tiny windpipe that does not grow and restricts breathing.

Shortly after birth, he underwent a conventional trachea transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH), but his condition deteriorated last November when a metal stent implanted in that operation began to erode into the aorta, a key artery, causing severe bleeding.

Scientists and surgeons at UCL, GOSH, the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, and the Careggi University Hospital in Florence, Italy, developed a new technique to treat the life-threatening condition. They stripped cells from a donated trachea, used it to replace the entire length of the damaged airway, and then used the child’s own bone marrow stem cells to seal the airway in the body.

Dr Mark Lowdell, Director of Cellular Therapy at Royal Free Hospital, received the donor trachea from Italy, and some bone marrow from the patient at the beginning of surgery. He and his colleagues prepared two different types of stem cells from the bone marrow together with some growth signalling chemicals and returned them to GOSH with the donor trachea.

Professor Paolo Macchiarini, from Careggi University Hospital,  applied the cells and the growth factors to the trachea in the operating theatre. Martin Elliot, Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at UCL and Director of the Tracheal Service at GOSH, led the operation to repair the damaged aorta and implant the new trachea.

b) Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, a professor of biomedical engineering at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, become the first to grow a complex, full-size bone from human adult stem cells. Her team grew a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) from stem cells derived from bone marrow.

Because the TMJ is such a complex structure, it is not easily grafted from other bones in a patient’s body. Current methods of treating traumatic injury to the jaw include taking a bone from the patient’s leg or hip to replace the missing bone.

Her team started by analyzing digital images of a patient’s jawbone in order to build a scaffold into the precise shape of a TMJ joint. The scaffold itself was made from human bone stripped of living cells. The team then seeded the scaffold with bone marrow stem cells and placed it into a custom-designed bioreactor. The reactor, filled with culture medium, nourished and physically stimulated the cells to form bone. “Bone tissue is metabolically very active,” she says. Bone tissue develops best when it is bathed in fluid flowing around it. Vunjak-Novakovic and the team looked into the exact flow rates one needs for optimal effects. After five weeks, they had a four-centimeter-high jawbone that was the precise size and shape of a human TMJ.


1) Words – Haiku

Village lights
across the night lake,
his absence next to me

Zofia Barisas

Some much drama packed into just eleven words.

The web site of the Haiku Society of America:

I am interested in any poems, or Haiku, that you wish to share, either your own work or your favorites from other writers.

2) Pictures

The anguished face of a woman crying at Lubyanka station, Moscow, Russia, where thirty-nine more names where added to terrorism’s death toll.

In this season of renew, and resurrection, some spring flowers brighten up a winter landscape.


Indigenous Zoque men carry baskets containing flowers and candles as offerings inside the cave of Villa Luz during a ritual called ‘The Fishing of the Blind Sardine,’ in Tapijualpa, Mexico, on March 28. The ceremony is held as part of Holy Week and is traditionally where people asked deities for permission to fish inside the cave.


What images from last week are fresh in your mind?

3) Music

In a sign I must be getting old I haven’t found any new songs recently that I enjoyed enough to download.

I am interested in any recommendations you have.

I did find a some interesting thoughts, from the TED Talks series, by Robert Gupta, violinist with the LA Philharmonic, about a violin lesson he once gave to a brilliant, schizophrenic musician — and what he learned.

 Music is medicine, music is sanity

Africa is a continent full of natural resources, it’s people much exploited, too often neglected.  The headlines about Africa today speak of pirates, terrorist and AIDS.  Unemployment, poverty and AIDS is the reality far too many African children are born into, including the Basotho (pronounced “ba-soo-too”) whose homeland is Qwa Qwa, South African. You can read about the Basotho culture here,

The Basotho have very few resources, an unemployment rate of around 88%, and must struggle every day to deal with the impact of AIDS.  In Africa 1 in 4 are HIV positive.  What the children of the Basotho have working for them is Thrive Africa.

The hand Thrive Africa is reaching out to the Basotho isn’t charity.  It’s an investment in the future of Africa’s children.  The Basotho are at a tipping point, one side hopeless despair, the other the promise of faith that a better future is possible.

We all need hope and faith to give us the strength to make our world better.  The Basotho need hope and faith desperately.  Thrive Africa’s programs are designed to empower these people so they can create that better world we all want for our children.

Thrive Africa itself is facing a crisis.  Without an infusion of financial aid, by the end of April they will be forced to start scaling down their AIDS prevention program, and other ministry initiatives.  In the economic environment of today a lot of us need help.  While the rest of us have some level of support system to help us, all the Basothos have is Thrive Africa. 

Thrive Africa has a proven record of success, such as it’s LaunchPad Program

From the Thrive Africa site,

LaunchPad classes are taught in 6 rural villages each week by our team of staff and interns. Each class is an hour-and-a-half long and is set up to be as fun and engaging as possible. Students follow along in their workbooks during the main teaching time and participate in games and activities, a time of worship and prayer, and small group discussions.

Each term ends with a celebration for students who faithfully completed the classes. At each graduation, students share how God’s Word changed their lives and how God has used them to impact others.”

One school averaged 40 pregnancies a year among 7th, 8th and 9th graders. In the four years Thrive’s program has been taught, there has not been one single pregnancy.

Those who know me know I am an Atheist, and might be surprised I support a faith based organization.  While I don’t share the same source of faith as that reflected in the programs of Thrive Africa, I do know from personnel experience the importance of having a source of faith.  It’s what sustains us when the world seems to offer little hope. The Basotho children desperately need the faith that Thrive Africa can instilled in them.

Thrive Africa founder Alece Ronzino with Nkosi


Thrive Africa has opened a store.  I bought a cool hoodie.  I can also recommend their coffee.  Take a look and you will hopefully find something you can use, while helping children gain the faith they desperately need. 

I hope you will consider investing in these children’s future.  Thrive Africa is their hope to build a better tomorrow.  One without the poverty, AIDS, and despair they are now born into. 

To help Thrive Africa bring the faith to these children that they desperately need please click the link below:

Psalm 121 speaks, or I should say sings 🙂 , to the heart of faith.  Whenever, wherever, the Christ Follower is facing a challenge they just need to lift their eyes to Heaven to find the faith they will need to persevere. 

Your Lord never sleeps, never losses sight of you.  In the world we live in people will sometimes fail you, we will at times fail ourselves.  The one constant you have is the protection of your Lord.  “He will watch over your comings and goings, both now and forevermore”.

Psalm 121 (New Internation Version)

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
       where does my help come from?

 2 My help comes from the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.

 3 He will not let your foot slip—
       he who watches over you will not slumber;

 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
       will neither slumber nor sleep.

 5 The LORD watches over you—
       the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

 6 the sun will not harm you by day,
       nor the moon by night.

 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
       he will watch over your life;

 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
       both now and forevermore.

I like to keep things simple, given my limited ability of of brain power I must.  🙂

Faith is as easily understood as the words to Psalm 121.  I think it sums up having faith in God perfectly.

Singing praise to your Lord can’t be a half-hearted endeavor.  The Psalms require a passionate voice, sung with all your heart.

If you can take that message completely into your heart, you will never need further reassurance of the power of faith.

First this my absolute favorite picture of the year, from a slideshow of Photos of the Day on the Christian Science Monitor:


An article in today’s New York Times highlights something I already know from the blogs of my online buddies like Gitzengirl, Sara Frankl, who has Ankylosing Spondylitis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints.  Sorry all my other blog buddies but hers is my favorite online read, go here .

From the article by Clair Cain Miller:

Online Social Networks Bridge Gaps for Chronically Ill

“A former model who is now chronically ill and struggles just to shower says the people she has met online have become her family. A quadriplegic man uses the Web to share tips on which places have the best wheelchair access, and a woman with multiple sclerosis says her regular Friday night online chats are her lifeline.

For many people, social networks are a place for idle chatter about what they made for dinner or sharing cute pictures of their pets. But for people living with chronic diseases or disabilities, they play a more vital role.

“It’s really literally saved my life, just to be able to connect with other people,” said Sean Fogerty, 50, who has multiple sclerosis, is recovering from brain cancer and spends an hour and a half each night talking with other patients online.

People fighting chronic illnesses are less likely than others to have Internet access, but once online they are more likely to blog or participate in online discussions about health problems, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation.

“If they can break free from the anchors holding them down, people living with chronic disease who go online are finding resources that are more useful than the rest of the population,” said Susannah Fox, associate director of digital strategy at Pew and author of the report.

They are gathering on big patient networking sites like PatientsLikeme, HealthCentral, Inspire, CureTogether and Alliance Health Networks, and on small sites started by patients on networks like Ning and Wetpaint.”

Link to the Pew Center Report “Chronic Disease and the Internet”

I don’t have a debilating diease, unless you count having fewer working brain cells then most people 🙂 .  Still one of the favorite parts of my day is spent with my online friends,  check my blogroll.

The first time I logged on to the Internet I was amazed at this evergrowing online community, which is bringing the world together.  Okay, maybe my first stop was “Hot Babes In Bikinis”.  🙂

I have made friends with people all over the world, from Australia to South Africa.  People I would have never had the opportunity to meet.

How has the Internet help you?

James Taylor – “You’ve Got A Friend”

I have always been drawn to the thrills, mystery and drama found in literature.  I was reading about the Hans Christian Anderson Awards, see 2) below, and thought about some of the stories I got lost in as a child.  I did not have a happy childhood and preferred the fantasy world of books to the reality of the world I lived in.

1) The first story I can remember was a combination record and pull-out book, about the tug boat Little Toot. I found part of the recording, from 1948, on Youtube:

A link to a YouTube video of the Disney cartoon movie about Little Toot:

What was the first book you can remember reading?

My first hero was Tom Swift. 

 Tom Swift and His Outpost In Space

From Wikipedia entry:

“Tom Swift (in some versions Tom Swift, Jr.) is the name of the central character in five series, totaling over 100 volumes, of juvenile science fiction and adventure novels that emphasize science, invention, and technology. The character was created by Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of the Stratemeyer, a book-packaging firm,. His adventures have been written by a number of different ghostwritiers over the years. Most of the books are published under the collective pseudonym Victor Appleton. The 33 volumes of the second series use the pseudonym Victor Appleton II.”

“A number of prominent figures, including Steve Wozniak and Isaac Asimove, have cited “Tom Swift” as an inspiration. Several inventions, including the taser, have been directly inspired by the fictional inventions.”

Who was your first fictional hero/heroine?

2) The Hans Christian Anderson Awards for 2010

First a question.  If you do read to children what is a favorite book?

British author David Almond is the 2010 winner for children’s books.  From an article in the Guardian:

“An international jury of children’s literature experts this afternoon decided to award the world’s most prestigious prize in children’s literature to British author David Almond.

Almond, who won the Carnegie medal and the Whitbread children’s prize with his first children’s book Skellig, the story of a boy who discovers an angel in a derelict garage, was selected as winner from authors around the world, seeing off finalists from Iran, Brazil, Sweden and Denmark to win the medal. Given biennially since 1956 by the International Board on Books for Young People for an author’s complete works, the award comes with no money but much honour: past winners include much-loved British children’s writer Eleanor Farjeon, Pippi Longstocking creator ”

The winner for illustrators was Jutta Bauer:

“Jutta Bauer from Germany was also announced as winner of a parallel medal for illustrators this afternoon. The jury highlighted her “philosophical approach, originality, creativity as well as her ability to communicate with young readers”, and described her as “a powerful narrator who blends real life with legend through her pictures”.

Spring arrived here in Connecticut at the same time as it did on the Calender.  Over the weekend temperatures climbed in to the 70’s.  I celebrated with some friends down at the beach. 

Spring also means baseball time for me.  My favorite team, the New York Mets are already having injury problems that plague them last year, however when their first game arrives on April 5th they will be tied for 1st place.  🙂

What activities do you begin Spring with?  I will have to deduct points if you say house cleaning.  🙂

My good friend Brandy (Brandy is raising a family of three kids and one husband, who is in the Air Force. You can read her blog here) sent me the story of Reed Sandridge, 36, who was laid off from his job at a non-profit group, and has been spreading smiles by giving $10 to random strangers.  That isn’t much money, but anyone who is spreading smiles gets my vote.

“His mom, the daughter of a coal miner whom he remembers most for her kindness, always told him that when you’re going through tough times, that’s when you most need to give back.

He’s been using his savings and a few hundred a week in unemployment benefits to pay the mortgage on his home.  But he hopes he will network his way to a salary again long before he runs out of cash.

By Day 94, he had given away almost $1,000, handing out money in blizzards, in rainstorms, on the sunniest of days. He gave $10 to a guy playing the trumpet outside Verizon Center, the president of a brewery, someone dressed up as the Statue of Liberty, a hard-drinking PhD, a man who held up a basketball to block helicopters overhead from eavesdropping on their conversation, the curator of a small museum and a whole lot of homeless people.”

You can read the story of his year of giving on his blog:

Having seen a few changes in my life since I passed 60 I can visualize how some rock starts might age, as Tim Hawkins does in his performance of “Old Rock Star Songs”

Galatians is one in a series of letters (Epistles) written by Paul the Apostle to churches, and individuals, to deal with problems at these Churches, or with religious leaders.  This letter is written to the churches of Galatia.

Galatians is referred to as “Paul’s Manifesto of Justification by Faith” and as “the charter of Christian Liberty.”

It stands against the teachings of “legalism” by the “Judaizers”.  Paul writes to refute their false gospel of works, and demonstrate the superiority of justification by faith alone 

Question – If Paul wrote a letter today to the Christian churches in America what do you think it’s tone would be?

Galatians 2:16-21 (New International Version)

16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

 17“If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Instead of looking up on google what Christian ministers say about these verses I will give you my own thoughts.

“Observing the law” refers to the laws of the of the Old Testament.  Jesus, as the son of God, brings you divine guidance, a new way.  To be “justified by Christ” means to be acquitted of your sins by Christ.  Christ has already paid the penalty for your sins.

You should observe the laws of the society you live in, at least those that don’t conflict with the guidance of God, because you should try to be a good citizen.  This has nothing to do with redemption, Jesus is your redeemer.

Paul is his letter is rebuking the churches of Galatia for continuing to teach that you must follow the “law”(Old Testament) to be “justified”.

It was over the doctrine that you could pay for your sins by performing “good works” that lead to Martin Luther’s revolution against the Catholic Church. 

What are your thoughts?

Casting Crows – All Because of Jesus

Apologizes for the delay in posting my Bible Study as I have given in to the temptation of March madness.  🙂

I have selected the Book of Galatians and trying to decide between Book 2:17-21 and Book 6:12-16.  I am reading some commentaries on, with one eye on the bouncing round ball.  I expect to post the study Friday.

As my University of Connecticut Huskies had an off year, at least the Men’s team did, my rooting interest will be in blog buddies Gitzengirl’s Northern Iowa Panthers, and Papa’s Michigan State Spartans.

When the Women’s tournament gets under way I get to cheer on the most dominate team in any sport, the UCONN Lady Huskies, the defending national champs, and winners of 72 games in a row, by an average of around 30 points per game.

Men’s Final Four

Kansas (sorry Gitz’s & Papa)






Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh (Happy St. Patrick’s Day)! 

I hope your are having as much fun this day as the Irish in the St. Patrick’s parade in Dublin, Ireland:

St. Patrick’s Day toast:

Here’s to a long life and a merry one.
A quick death and an easy one
A pretty girl and an honest one
A cold beer – and another one!

My favorite Traditional Irish Group is the Chieftains.  The performance includes some step-dancing by my favorite collen Jean Butler, even if she was born in Mineola, Long Island.

Perhaps the greatest Irish tenor was John McCormick, born in Athlone, Ireland, 14 June 1884 – 16 September 1945.  Here he sings the popular Irish song “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”, written in 1912 by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr.

One of the great “modern” Irish groups is Altan, founded by Frankie Kennedy and Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh.

Here they perform the John Doherty’s reels:

Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers—
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours—
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!

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