Kitsu’s Afternoon “News”: Politics and Vaccination

Original story from Discovery News posted in their Blog on 21 September 2011.

Politics has a number of victims, particularly right now when things are so savage between parties and the party lines aren’t just drawn in the sand. There are fences up and woe betide he who is on the “wrong” side of it, no matter how good their idea is or isn’t.

Republican Michele Bachmann, for example, attacked her same party competitor Rick Perry of accepting campaign funding from the pharmaceutical company that makes the HPV vaccine when he was working to make it mandatory for 6th grade schoolchildren. Bachmann raised the stakes, however, and made false accusations that the vaccine causes mental retardation. So far, no person has been able to back up the accusations against this vaccine or even get the people who supposedly make these anecdotal connections to step forward and let their situation to studied. Even with money as bait.

HPV is a political victim because we have an STD that can be vaccinated against. and heaven forbid we be able to prevent a cancer from taking root in people. Is this what’s going to happen is an HIV vaccine is developed?

Kitsu’s Afternoon “News”: Grab Bag

Another grab bag to help clear my inboxes.

  • CAN BIRTH CONTROL AFFECT MEMORY? 19 September 2011: Hormones effect memory and studies are showing that oral contraceptives can make retention of details more difficult over time.
  • 18-FOOT ANACONDA CAPTURED ALIVE 19 September 2011: Originally captured in 2009, explorers Niall McCann and Robert Pickles found an 18 foot long Anaconda who had never encountered people before and brought it back from their explorations with them. They have only just decided to release information about the record breaking reptile.
  • THE BIZARRE JAWS OF THE ANGEL FISH 20 September 2011: A discussion of the unusual jaw structure of reed dwelling angelfish and how that effects the niches they fill in the ecosystem.
  • SEA SQUID ARE SAME-SEX SWINGERS 21 September 2011: Monterey Bay Aquarium researchers have found that male wild squid exhibit same-sex mating behaviors, and in what might be an indiscriminate sex strategy, are just as likely to mate with other males as they are with females.
  • WATERCRAFT SWIMS LIKE A KILLER WHALE 21 September 2011: Innerspace Productions has produced a semi-submersible boat modeled on an Orca that can breach, flip, and preform other behaviors made familiar by Shamu. The same company has shark and dolphins inspired models.

Kitsu’s Afternoon “News”: HIV sides with people against Cancer (+ Bonus Stories)

Originally reported by Discovery News in their blog on 14 September 2011.

The normally life threatening Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has been genetically engineered by scientists to reprogram cancer patients own immune systems to attack cancer cells. This process involves removing t-cells and infecting them intuitionally with modified HIV. The T-cells then attack the cancer. Finally, chemotherapy is used to kill off the infected t-cells and prevent the modified ones from interfering with the production of normal ones. The patient then suffers what appears to be the flu as the cancer dies.

The University of Pennsylvania group who created this process plan to continue testing it, and have already had excellent results in the 3 human tests preformed (2 cases in full remission and another in partial, all lymphocytic leukemia sufferers). Future tests are planned to include research with other forms of cancer.



  • SPIKY NEWBORN DINOSAUR FOUND IN D.C. BELTWAY 19 September 2011: The first dinosaur hatchling ever discovered in the Eastern USA is not only the youngest dinosaur ever found, but represents a new species of armored dinosaur!
  • ASTEROID FAMILY NOT GUILTY OF DINOSAUR KILLING 19 September 2011: The Daptistina asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter that has long been considered the source of the dinosaur slaying asteroid has been cleared for xenocide against dinosaur kind after providing an alibi: the asteroid belt didn’t exist at the time for dinosaur extinction!

Kitsu’s Afternoon “News”: Grab Bag

In an effort to work through some of my Discovery News backlog, I’ve decided to do a grab bag where I give a quick overview of a whole bunch of stories that you might want to read, instead of going into a lot of detail about just one. These are ones that are shorter or I have less to say about, or they’re so old they’re risking going out of date.

  • ANCIENT MOSAICS REVEAL CHANGING FISH SIZE 13 September 2011: Using mosaics scientists have been able to infer data about fish sizes from before people kept size records, demonstrating the effects of mass fishing on fish populations.
  • LAUGHTER REALLY IS THE BEST MEDICINE 14 September 2011: Laughter increases pain tolerance, and thus improves overall health. The study does note that just laughing doesn’t work, you have actually feel the laugh and be truly joyful.
  • JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE SAVED? 14 September 2011: The half-finished telescope narrowly avoided cancellation and manages to get its funding back on track. Finally, after fools nearly decided to completely waste the money already spent.
  • BABY RHINO RESCUED FROM TREE 15 September 2011: Yes, a tree. and no, you can’t make this sort of thing up. Poor little thing freaked out after poachers shot momma and got stuck in the fork of a tree after he ran away. Poor little thing.
  • STAR TREK INSPIRATION? MEET THE REAL JEAN PICARD 17 September 2011: The article describes the historical personality that was Gene Roddenberry’s inspiration for Star Trek’s Jean-luc Picard, the 17th century astronomer Jean-Felix Picard.

Kitsu’s Afternoon “News”: Men wired to nurture

Originally reported by Discovery News in their Blog on 13 September 2011.

The “male” hormone testosterone, known for fueling violence and aggression, has been shown by studies to drop around 30% following the birth of their children. This was shown with a sample group of 600 people who were tracked for almost 5 years. In cases in which men entered stable relationships and then produced offsprings with a steady partner are the ones in which the drop occurred.

Fascinatingly, the most significant drops occurred in men with the highest initial testosterone levels, and these high testosterone men were the most likely to produce offspring. This shows that the pair bond between males and females of our species (backed by a drop that happens following the creation of a partnership) suggests that we evolved in a way to support the pair bond.

No more does the excuse that “i’m a man, and men aren’t supposed to do that” stand. Men are just as wired as women for childcare and childrearing.

Kitsu’s Afternoon “News”: Peta endorses freedom for killer croc

Originally reported by Discovery News in their blog on 14 September 2011.

Lolong, a 21 foot long saltwater crocodile, was captured in the philippines after he was deemed responsible for the consumption of a local man and implicated in the decapitation of a small girl. The world record length crocodile is slated to become the star attraction of a tourist destination due to his record breaking length. This eco-tourism park would be located in Agusan, Mindanao.

Peta, however, is not pleased with this news and wants the animal freed. I, however, don’t understand what they’re whining about. The animal would have been killed by many a villager in many a place. Peta should be thankful that they’re not only planning to turn him into tourist dollars, but they’re planning to do it while keeping him alive. Instead of a death sentence, the people have settled on life in prison. Be happy, Peta, that people aren’t just killing the creature for being a crocodile and are instead planning to celebrate him as a crocodile.

Kitsu’s Afternoon “News”: Quake Kills Belizean Barrier Reef

Originally reported by Discovery News in their blog on 12 September 2011.

The Belizean Barrier Reef has been suffering for decades. El Nino caused massive die outs of the primary two coral species, then in 2009 a magnitude 7.3 quake rattled the Caribbean and scent a large section into deeper waters. Now, about half of the reefs are gone, reduced to sediment and coral skeletons.

This die off has led to consideration of how natural disasters should be addressed in conservation strategies by a team from the Florida Institute of Technology led by Richard Aronson. He urges survival planning for conservation to be not just span 3 generations (200-ish years), but to think instead on a millennial scale.

Kitsu’s Afternoon “News”: Genetically Engineered AIDS Fighting Phosphorescent Felines

Originally reported by Discovery News in their 12 September 2011 Blog post.

Jellyfish genes have been used to “tag” Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV) resistant cats bred in a laboratory. FIV is the feline equivalent of aids and these cats can be used to study FIV resistance and gain insights into fighting HIV and AIDS. The original FIV resistant gene was derived from Rhesus Macaques and inserted into this line of cats along with the Jellyfish gene for luminesense, so that cats carrying the gene would also glow when exposed to black light.

So far the gene has bred true and showed no negative effects on the effected felines. With luck the studies of these cats will result in studies that move AIDS and HIV prevention forward.

And no. You can’t have a glowing cat for a pet. They don’t sell them.

Cats Paw

Kitsu’s Afternoon “News”: First true improvement in smart phones in ages.

Originally reported by Discovery News in their blog on 19 September 2011.

Smartphones have long had abysmal battery lives, but a new development that shuts down bluetooth and wi-fi when the phone is idle stand to change that all. Called “Subconcious Mode”, this development was pioneered by University of Michigan’s Kang Shin and Xinyu Zhang. This “over clocking in reverse” technology might be the took that doubles smartphone lifespans and makes them as reliable as they already should have been.

All right, Mr. Jobs. Call those folks and get this into iPhone 5 and iPad 3 all quick-like!

Kitsu’s Afternoon “News”: Dogs are Telepathic

Originally reported in a Blog Post on 9 June 2011 by Discovery News.

Our furry friends are so tuned to listen to us that they have a hyperawareness towards their human companions that resembles telepathy. That’s right, your dog is telepathic, after a fashion. They have the ability to sense our moods (and react appropriately to them). They can even learn to detect abnormalities that are dangerous to humans like seizers, blood sugar abnormalities and cancer!

Experiments comparing wolves and dogs, which are genetically subspecies of the same species rather than independent species (dogs simply represent the species post-domestication) and their ability to choose which people from which to beg was carried by both species. Dogs, however, tend to do better on such tests, and further tests involving shelter dogs that lack practice (like wolves) demonstrates that the behavior is inborn (they can all do it) but perfected by practice (dogs with long-term, healthy, happy relationships with people were the best at it).

In short, dogs are the ultimate people-readers. Our sidekicks are awesome.

Paul & Billie Belle