• Our Nuclear Inheritance

    File under "That's Freaky": It was a dispute over whether the cortex ever makes any new cells that got Dr. Frisen looking for a new way of figuring out how old human cells really are. Existing techniques depend on tagging DNA with chemicals but are far from perfect. Wondering if some natural tag might already be in place, Dr. Frisen recalled that the nuclear weapons tested above ground until 1963 had injected a pulse of radioactive carbon 14 into the atmosphere. Breathed in by plants worldwide and eaten by animals and people, the carbon 14 gets incorporated into the DNA of cells each time the cell divides and the DNA is duplicated. So a variety of nuclear tests 40-some years ago blasted enough radioactive carbon into the atmosphere that we all carry bits of it in our DNA. It's really a wonder that humanity hasn't destroyed itself yet.
  • Check Those Goalposts!

    Am I the only one unimpressed by the Dove ads? I mean, I'm all for curvy women getting their media due, but this doesn't quite seem the vehicle. Dove is not saying Big is Beautfiul, Real is Beautiful, or anything similar. They're not putting everyday bodies on billboards for their soap or commercials for their lotion. These are husky girls on billboards promoting a product for husky girls. It's firming cream, the sort of thing most thin people don't need. What's fascinating is that Dove's got all this good press for doing the only thing, in a rational world, that makes sense: putting heavy people on ad for a product aimed at heavy people. That's not to say we have a rational advertising industry or that there's no imaginable world in which Kate Moss would be posing in front on this product she'd never need, but it's fairly pathetic that they get all this good press for something so small. More to the point, Dove is doing exactly what's always done: creating an impossible standard. The...
  • Regulating the Regulator's Regulating

    From an article on Barry Goldwater's nephew's gubernatorial campaign: "Goldwater, the recently retired director of special events at the state Department of Administration, has never before held elective office and has been (to put it charitably) a low-profile presence on the political stage." How excellent is that? Department of Administration. It's like bureaucracy squared! And a relative of Barry Goldwater worked at it! It gives me chills. Brings me back, too. UC Santa Cruz's student government had an arm called the Student Committee on Committees. What all that time spent discussing themselves amounted to, I don't know, but the idea of it certainly amused me.
  • Hackett

    You know the situation: Hackett vs. Schmidt, Hackett good and Schmitt bad, Hackett sane and Schmitt not, Schmitt favored and Hackett fighting uphill. This is the final push, and a couple bucks will help him push harder. Plus, you were just going to blow it on beer and hookers or something. For those of you not particularly interested in Ohio 02, though, there's a second reason you should think about whipping out the wallet. The networks love electoral news. Love it. And, right now, there's none of it. If Hackett wins, a military vet, a Democrat in a solid-red district, it's going to be the story for awhile. And that means the story will feature a tough-talking Democrat who looks like a soldier, just returned from the war, and loudly, loudly stands up for our party and loves lashing out at Republican incompetence. Hackett strikes at their strongest issue and shields our weakest. If Rove were a Democrat, this is the guy he'd run. And his win could, in fact, become one of those...
  • I Am a Building Block

    It's always nice to see someone take a piece you wrote and spin it into something much grander, more profound, and important. Pay attention to the last line, too: Lance is right .
  • Wave to Ideology

    Angelica asks : Why do libertarians and other free-trade cheerleaders feel the need to give CAFTA their (infinitely reluctant) backing when it is nothing more than a trojan horse bearing monopoly-extending intellectual property rules ignominiously rushed pass a dracula session in congress by bribing reluctant congressmen with porktastic protectionist measures that favor their home states? I wish someone would write a book on the total abdication of ideological responsibility on all sides of the spectrum. Welcome to 2005, politics is tone, partisanship is volume, extremism is aggressiveness. 2004's liberal hero was an ardent free trader who blocked gay marriage in his home state, wanted to add 40,000 troops to Iraq, had little patience for liberal social programs when they blew the deficit, who rejected public financing in Vermont, and had been a DLC golden child only years before. But Howard Dean stood up, spoke out, and became the great hope for progressives, the feared demon of the...
  • On Bolton, On Blitzer, On Cheney and Condi

    Bolton, as you no doubt know , just got himself a recess appointment. I tend to think this is excellent news for our effectiveness at the UN: not only will other countries look at our deranged ambassador with the loathing and hostility his comments so richly deserve, but they'll know he was such an extremist that our own Senate, nutty though it may be, never approved him. I'm sure he'll be plenty listened to. You know, or ignored, patronized, and sabotaged. Over on the right, James Joyner doesn't think this is such a hot idea either: This strikes me as a big mistake. For one thing, U.N. Ambassador is hardly of sufficient importance to justify thumbing Senate Democrats in the eye this way. For another, John Bolton is hardly Robert Bork. Indeed, Bolton may be a case that epitimizes why the filibuster is sometimes a good thing. One undertold story about Bush is that he sports a profound lack of respect for the autonomy and judgment of the institutions that comprise our government. Other...
  • Shit? Meet Fan.

    John Garang died yesterday in a helicopter crash. Mark Leon Goldberg has the implications : Grinnell College alumnus, University of Iowa–educated doctor of agricultural economics, and most recently vice president of Sudan’s National Unity Government John Garang died in a helicopter crash in southern Sudan over the weekend. The timing of his death could not have been worse. In January, Garang -- the long-time leader of the Christian and Animist rebels in South Sudan -- singed a peace deal with the Islamist government in Khartoum, effectively ending a 20-year civil war. Just a month ago the peace accord entered into force and Garang was installed as vice president of Sudan. ... Helicopters do crash, but when there’s a price on the head of a passenger reasonable people ought to ask whether there was any foul play at work. The most important task for the international community right now -- and especially for the United States, which has invested a great deal in the success of the peace...
  • Used Bookstores in LA

    Question for Los Angeles folk: anyone know a good, fairly large used bookstore in the city? I've got to sell a few tomes in advance of the DC move, and I;d like to do it somewhere with a decent selection. I've been kinda stymied in the search for a decent story, but there's gotta be at least one. Help on this would be much appreciated.
  • The Peculiar Institution

    The Claremont Review of Books , conservative though it is, is an interesting journal, particularly if you want a window into what Republican intellectuals are thinking and rationalizing. But this is a bit odd. Here's the last paragraph of Victor Davis Hanson's (sadly lame) essay on politicized universities: The signs of erosion on our campuses are undeniable, whether we examine declining test scores, spiraling costs, or college graduates' ignorance of basic facts and ideas. In response, or academic leadership is not talking about a more comprehensive curriculum, higher standards of academic accomplishment, or the critical need freely to debate important issues. Instead, it remains obsessed with the racial, ideological, and sexual spoils system called "diversity". Even as the airline industry was deregulated in the 1970s, and Wall Street now has come under long-overdue scrutiny, it is time for Americans, if we are to ensure our privileged future, to reexamine our era's politicized...