Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 21st, 2006

The first 100 hours of a Democratic House/Congress

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AmericaBlog points out that Nancy Pelosi has a plan:

Franklin Roosevelt had his first hundred days.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is thinking 100 hours, time enough, she says, to begin to “drain the swamp” after more than a decade of Republican rule.

As in the first 100 hours the House meets after Democrats—in her fondest wish—win control in the Nov. 7 midterm elections and Pelosi takes the gavel as the first Madam Speaker in history.

Day One: Put new rules in place to “break the link between lobbyists and legislation.”

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds _ “I hope with a veto-proof majority,” she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.

All the days after that: “Pay as you go,” meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2006 at 6:32 pm

Best 25 license-free fonts

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Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2006 at 5:24 pm

Posted in Software

Interesting new Web app: Scrybe

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Take a look. Includes a brief video describing Scrybe.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2006 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software

Cleaning, organizing, and the like

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I bit the bullet last week and acknowledged (to myself, everyone else already knew) that I had a problem: not only messy, but not really gifted at cleaning. I recall well when I had cleaned up the kitchen, especially the range, before a couple I knew came to visit. The first thing the woman said on going into the kitchen was, “Can I clean your stove?” I hated to tell her that it was already clean (from my point of view, which turns out to be quite limited in this arena).

At any rate, two cleaning women showed up last week and spent four hours cleaning kitchen and bathroom. Man, even I can tell that a transformation to a higher plane has taken place. Everything is clean and polished—even the electric kettle, even the knobs on the stove. Everything.

So next time the bedroom and the living room will get the attention, and today I took the contents of a bookcase to the library, and the bookcase out of the apartment to give away. This is one of the bedroom bookcases, and its removal allows for a better placement of the chest of drawers and more room in the bedroom.

It’s sort of fun, actually…

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2006 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Daily life

Guided tours of virtual worlds

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It may strike you as odd, but when I was a child we never thought of such things as this: guided tours of virtual worlds.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2006 at 9:56 am

Posted in Software, Technology

GOP stoops lower and lower

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This, via Josh Marshall, shows how very low the GOP is willing to go. We’ve already seen them running ads that are simply lies. Now an ad that is a scurrilous lie:

Three Central New York television stations have chosen not to run an advertisement from the National Republican Congressional Committee that alleges Michael Arcuri made calls to a sex hotline while at a conference in New York City.

Local television station WKTV and Syracuse’s WSTQ and WSTM are not running the ad.

“We rejected the ad,” said WKTV Vice President and General Manager Vic Vetters. “This is based on several reviews and discussions with our legal council.”

Democratic Oneida County District Attorney Michael Arcuri is in a highly competitive race for the 24th District Congressional District seat against Republican state Sen. Ray Meier.

Documents provided by both the NRCC and the Arcuri campaign show a call lasting less than a minute to an 800 number that is now a sex line.

Arcuri said that number was dialed by accident by Sean Byrne, the executive director of the New York Prosecutor Training Institute, who was meeting with him and others in the hotel room. Byrne also said that was the case, and records show immediately following the call to the sex line, he called the same seven digits, but with a 518 area code, not an 800 prefix.

A Meier spokeswoman said Meier had called the NRCC and demanded that they not run the ad. NRCC spokesman Ed Patru said his organization is not allowed to coordinate with candidates.

To view the ad, click here.

GOP, Party of Scum.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2006 at 9:52 am

Posted in Election, GOP, Government

Creating insulin-producing cells from stem cells

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This is a good sign—except, of course, Bush and the GOP would have fertility clinics throw the blastocysts into the trash rather than use them for research: throwing away blastocysts = good; using blastocysts for research to help millions with currently incurable diseases = evil. Got it?

Mimicking the series of steps by which an embryo develops has led to a significantly more efficient way of creating insulin-secreting cells. A team of researchers reports that by applying a sequence of chemicals to human embryonic stem cells in a culture dish, it has grown layers of cells similar to pancreatic tissue in a young embryo. Such cells may eventually be suitable for treating diabetes.

Embryonic stem cells are a gold mine for medical research because they could potentially replace nearly any type of failed or damaged tissue. In a prime example, research groups have shown that embryonic stem cells can morph into the pancreatic cells that produce insulin, called beta cells. In people with diabetes these cells have stopped working properly. Prior instances of the transformation were sporadic and inefficient, though, appearing in cells transplanted into animals or in embryolike jumbles of cells, says Emmanuel Baetge, chief scientific officer at Novocell, a San Diego biotech company. The key to making pancreatic cells at will, Baetge says, is going to the source—so-called definitive endoderm, the layer of embryonic tissue that gives rise to all the organs of the gut, including the pancreas. “You cannot make pancreatic cells without it,” he says.

Novocell researchers had already published a method for growing endoderm from cultured embryonic stem cells by applying a chemical that is known to stimulate endodermal development in growing embryos. In a paper published online October 19 in Nature Biotechnology, the group describes taking the next steps: They added four more sets of growth factors to the endoderm they had created, still following the pathway deciphered in growing embryos. An average of 7 percent of the resulting cells produced all five pancreatic hormones, including insulin, and contained nearly as much insulin as adult beta cells, the researchers report. “What we’ve really done is taken developmental biology and applied it to stem cell biology,” says Baetge. “These cells really can do it; you just have to have to understand how to work with them.”

The cells are still immature, however. So unlike adult cells, they do not make insulin in response to glucose, and they would need further prodding to reach the mature state. Nevertheless, “a lot of people are excited about this paper,” says beta cell biologist Ole Madsen of the Hagedorn Research Institute in Gentofte, Denmark. “The big novelty is that everything is controlled. It’s sort of a defined procedure.” Novocell’s method for making endoderm has been reproduced in other labs, Madsen notes. Assuming the same holds for the new work, he says, “it has given people hope for much quicker progress than was anticipated.”

In this connection, watch this Michael J. Fox video campaign ad.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 October 2006 at 9:32 am

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