Friday, October 24, 2008

Mr. Green Genes / New York Times endorses Obama

Mr. Green Genes is the first fluorescent cat in the United States, said Betsy Dresser, the center’s director.

The researchers made him so they could learn whether a gene could be introduced harmlessly into the feline’s genetic sequence to create what is formally known as a transgenic cat. If so, it would be the first step in a process that could lead to the development of ways to combat diseases via gene therapy.

The gene, which was added to Mr. Green Genes’ DNA when he was created earlier this year in the Audubon center’s laboratory, has no effect on his health, Dresser said. Cats are ideal for this project because their genetic makeup is similar to that of humans, said Dr. Martha Gomez, a veterinarian and staff scientist at the center.

Why a glowing cat?

To show that the gene went where it was supposed to go, the researchers settled on one that would glow.

The gene “is just a marker,” said Leslie Lyons, an assistant professor of population health and reproduction at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, who is familiar with the Audubon center’s work.

“The glowing part is the fun part,” she said.

Glowing creatures made international news earlier this month when the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to three scientists who had discovered the gene through their work with jellyfish. They used the gene, whose formal name is enhanced green fluorescence protein, to see how things work inside animals and even inside cells.

Mr. Green Genes — his name comes from Mr. Green Jeans, a character on the long-departed “Captain Kangaroo” television show — is deeply suspicious of strangers. He spends most of his days napping, and he doesn’t like being held when he doesn’t want to be cuddled.
In normal light, the 7-pound cat, who lives at the center, looks and acts like any other feline.

But turn out the room lights and switch on some black light, and you can see glowing ears, nostrils, eyes and gums. Those body parts light up because the protein is more likely to express itself in mucous membranes, Lyons said.

“You can’t lose that cat at night,” said C. Earle Pope, the center’s senior scientist.

“The frozen zoo”
In theory, his litter box could glow, too, because cat droppings include epithelial cells, where the gene can be found. But there is entirely too much other stuff around them to allow for readily visible glowing without messy lab work, Gomez said.

The Audubon center started its animal-cloning experiments in 2001. Two years later, Ditteaux, an African wildcat, was born there. He was the world’s first cloned wild carnivore.

Cloning starts with cells — generally skin cells, Gomez said, because retrieval isn’t too invasive — and the cells’ genetic material is stored in a tank of liquid nitrogen where the temperature is 316 degrees below zero. The Audubon center has 12 such tanks of genetic specimens awaiting use;

Dresser calls them “the frozen zoo.”

For work with felines, eggs are collected from a donor cat — usually a domestic cat — and the DNA is removed and replaced. To create Mr. Green Genes, the fresh DNA included the fluorescent gene.

Then the fertilized egg is inserted into a surrogate mother cat for a pregnancy lasting 65 to 70 days.

After Ditteaux’s arrival, Gomez was invited to discuss it before a group of gene-therapy specialists, who, she said, were interested in the prospect of creating a genetic model for fighting diseases.

A tool to spot cystic-fibrosis
The Audubon scientists want to use their technique to develop a gene-therapy treatment for cystic fibrosis, an incurable hereditary disease for which, Gomez said, there are no gene-therapy models.

The fluorescence gene will go alongside the cystic-fibrosis gene and make it easy to spot. The long-term goal of this process, for which there is no timetable, is the production of what Gomez calls a “knockout gene.”

Work on this project is under way, she said. “We are getting some preliminary data, but we don’t have the full funds for it.”

Mr. Green Genes’ next role for the center will combine science and sex. He will become a stud so the Audubon team can determine whether the fluorescence gene can be transmitted. That should take no more than two breeding cycles, Gomez said.

“If he is fertile and if the female is fertile, it should be quick,” she said. “The idea is not to have a lot of green cats around, but to demonstrate that the gene can be passed.”

After that, he will retire to Gomez’s home, where two cats already live.

“I feel that he is my baby,” said Gomez, who led the team that created him.

“You have to realize that this is our first transgenic cat,” she said. “I don’t want him to go to just anybody. I feel he is mine.”

Barack Obama for President

NY Times editorial. some excerpts:

The United States is battered and drifting after eight years of President Bush’s failed leadership. He is saddling his successor with two wars, a scarred global image and a government systematically stripped of its ability to protect and help its citizens — whether they are fleeing a hurricane’s floodwaters, searching for affordable health care or struggling to hold on to their homes, jobs, savings and pensions in the midst of a financial crisis that was foretold and preventable. ...

Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change. He has shown a cool head and sound judgment. We believe he has the will and the ability to forge the broad political consensus that is essential to finding solutions to this nation’s problems....

In the same time, Senator John McCain of Arizona has retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past. His choice of a running mate so evidently unfit for the office was a final act of opportunism and bad judgment that eclipsed the
accomplishments of 26 years in Congress.

Given the particularly ugly nature of Mr. McCain’s campaign, the urge to choose on the basis of raw emotion is strong. But there is a greater value in looking closely at the facts of life in America today and at the prescriptions the candidates offer. The differences are profound....

The Candidates

It will be an enormous challenge just to get the nation back to where it was before Mr. Bush, to begin to mend its image in the world and to restore its self-confidence and its self-respect. Doing all of that, and leading America forward, will require strength of will, character and intellect, sober judgment and a cool, steady hand.

Mr. Obama has those qualities in abundance. Watching him being tested in the campaign has long since erased the reservations that led us to endorse Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries. He has drawn in legions of new voters with powerful messages of hope and possibility and calls for shared sacrifice and social responsibility.

Mr. McCain, whom we chose as the best Republican nominee in the primaries, has spent the last coins of his reputation for principle and sound judgment to placate the limitless demands and narrow vision of the far-right wing. His righteous fury at being driven out of the 2000 primaries on a racist tide aimed at his adopted daughter has been replaced by a zealous embrace of those same win-at-all-costs tactics and tacticians.

He surrendered his standing as an independent thinker in his rush to embrace Mr. Bush’s misbegotten tax policies and to abandon his leadership position on climate change and immigration reform.

Mr. McCain could have seized the high ground on energy and the environment. Earlier in his career, he offered the first plausible bill to control America’s emissions of greenhouse gases. Now his positions are a caricature of that record: think Ms. Palin leading chants of “drill, baby, drill.”

Mr. Obama has endorsed some offshore drilling, but as part of a comprehensive strategy including big investments in new, clean technologies.


Mr. Obama has withstood some of the toughest campaign attacks ever mounted against a candidate. He’s been called un-American and accused of hiding a secret Islamic faith. The Republicans have linked him to domestic terrorists and questioned his wife’s love of her country. Ms. Palin has also questioned millions of Americans’ patriotism, calling Republican-leaning states “pro-America.”

This politics of fear, division and character assassination helped Mr. Bush drive Mr. McCain from the 2000 Republican primaries and defeat Senator John Kerry in 2004. It has been the dominant theme of his failed presidency.

The nation’s problems are simply too grave to be reduced to slashing “robo-calls” and negative ads. This country needs sensible leadership, compassionate leadership, honest leadership and strong leadership. Barack Obama has shown that he has all of those qualities.


Anonymous said...

In the very same issue of the NYT, burried deep within one of the back sections is the announcement that Bono, yes, THAT Bono, will be the newest columnist added to the august roster of the NYT op/ed page. This is not a joke. And that should tell you everything you need to know about the integrity of The Times' editorials.

Anonymous said...

Can has glo-in-the-dark John Federowicz plz?

Anonymous said...

Hints of Racism? It is amazing the NY Times whored themself out again. How is John McCain a racist? Please explain that.

Palin has more experience than Obama. What experience does Obama have? Just incredible.

Anonymous said...

Anon wrote:"Palin has more experience than Obama. What experience does Obama have? Just incredible"

What drugs are you on? Or maybe the question is why you're off your meds.

Rich in Brooklyn said...

The Times didn't say McCain was personally a racist, they said that he is "running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism." . How else would you characterize the robocalls, the insinuations by Sarah Palin that Obama isn't "like us", that he isn't patriotic, etc. etc.?
I think these tactics, openly embraced by the Republican campaign, all get traction only because some Americans are predisposed to hate and fear a person of color. McCain is willing to use these passions to his own advantage, albeit possibly against his own better judgement. So the charge the Times makes is, in my opinion, completely fair.

Rich in Brooklyn said...

By the way, why isn't Bono a good choice for a columnist? It seems to me that he is a very thoughtful, knowledgeable, and committed person who has a lot to say. If I had to choose, I'd rather read him than David Brooks any day. As it is, I'm glad if there's room for both of them at the Times.

Anonymous said...

As people have seen more of Obama in action, more have become comfortable with his readiness to be president ... including many of those who disagree with his policies and therefore will not vote for him.

As people have seen more of Palin in action, more have become convinced that she is not ready to be one heartbeat away from assuming the Presidency ... including many of those who like her political ideas and initially planned to vote for McCain/Palin.

Anonymous said...

rich: "By the way, why isn't Bono a good choice for a columnist? It seems to me that he is a very thoughtful, knowledgeable, and committed person who has a lot to say."

And besides, Madonna was unavailable.

Anonymous said...

By voting you endorse the evil that is democracy. don't do it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

And that should tell you everything you need to know about the integrity of The Times' editorials.

Drawing conclusions about editorials based on whose articles run on the op-ed page (short for "opposite the editorials," not "opinion and editorials") shows only that one doesn't understand how newspapers work.

Editorials are the voice of the newspaper -- more accurately, of the newspaper's publisher.

Op-ed columnists and guest articles are chosen to add range and diversity to the opinions expressed in the newspaper's pages. They are not meant to represent the paper's point of view -- just the opposite.

Palin has more experience than Obama. What experience does Obama have?

1983-1984 Writer/Researcher for Business International Corporation. Helped companies understand overseas markets in the “Financing Foreign Operations” service and wrote for the “Business International Money Report”

1984-1985 Community Organizer for New York Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), promoting personal, community, and government reform at City College in Harlem.

1985-1988 Director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland on Chicago's South Side. While director grew the DCP staff from 1 to 13 and their budget from $70,000 to $400,000.

1992 Led Chicago's Project Vote! push. This effort resulted in a record number of voter registrations, over 600,000 in Chicago.

1993-2004 Visiting Law and Government Fellow, then Senior Lecturer, in Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School. Taught courses on the due process and equal protection areas of constitutional law, on voting rights, and on racism and law. Helped develop a casebook on voting rights.

1993-2002 Associate attorney with Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland. Represented non-profits and private individuals in urban development projects, voting rights cases, and wrongful firings. Filed major suit that forced the state of Illinois to enforce the Motor Voter Law and successfully argued a wrongful firing case before the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

1996-2004 Chairman, Health and Human Services Committee, Illinois Senate. Spearheaded a successful bipartisan effort in Illinois to pass the broadest ethics-reform legislation in 25 years, and gained bipartisan support for his successful bills reforming death penalty interrogations and ending racial profiling by police. Worked with the Republican-led effort to reform welfare. Also sponsored successful bills expanding tax credits and child-care subsidies for low-income working families, protecting overtime pay for workers, expanding health care for children, and providing job skills training for juveniles.

New York Times chart on Obama's legislative record in the Illinois Senate:

2004-present U.S. Senator for Illinois. Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs. Member, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Member, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Member, Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Shares responsibility for the bipartisan Coburn-Obama Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, requiring full online disclosure of all entities receiving federal funds, and the bipartisan Lugar-Obama Cooperative Proliferation Detection, Interdiction Assistance, and Conventional Threat Reduction Act of 2006, deepening non-proliferation work with WMD and including surface-to-air missiles, land mines, and other weapons that may be used by terrorists. Also worked with Coburn to end the abuse of no-bid contracts in the wake of disasters.

Barack Obama has a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School. Sarah Palin attended six different colleges before getting her B.A. in journalism and worked as a TV reporter before getting elected as the figurehead mayor in a suburb of fewer than 10,000 residents, then serving half a term as governor of a state with fewer residents (640,000) than Chicago's South Side (1.1 million).

Any questions?

Anonymous said...

Correction: Alaska has 670,000 residents, not 640,000. And Palin actually attended only five colleges -- she attended the University of Idaho twice.

Anonymous said...

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read 'Vote Obama, I need the money.'

I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a 'Obama 08' tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference -- just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy
was grateful. At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but
the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application...

Anonymous said...


We will see.
~Pounding the pavement in NM

Anonymous said...

*sigh* new york isn't the center of the world. neither is D.C. so far i'm still waiting for something useful from either of the aforementioned cities.

--from the midwest, where your food comes from

Anonymous said...

Obama supporters are going to look back after he is elected and ask, what real world experience does Obama have? Experience with Constitutional law is actually quite relevant, but what about balancing the budget, working with the other party, etc.

Why did the Media give him a free pass this entire time? His past is never questioned except by Republicans. His background is highly questionable, he is secretive on his past (again this is probably nothing, but why hide it?)

Obama will blame his soon to be failure on Bush, since he ran the Anti-Bush campaign - again never touting what he intends to do, just saying how bad Bush is. The Democrats and Kerry lost doing the Anti-Bush campaign in 2004.

Anonymous said...

There's a nice balance and symmetry to the fact that the same folks who believe Obama is qualified to be president believe that Bono is qualified to be a columnist in the New York Times.

The only difference is that with fewer and fewer people reading The Times and The Times' ad revenue falling faster than the Dow Jones Bono will not be in a position to do any actual damage to people's lives.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect, Liberal Press endorses Liberal Candidate, Duh !!!

Anonymous said...

How can you say the guy is "secretive about his past" when he's written two best-selling books about it?

How can you say he has no experience working with the other party when his ability to do exactly that won him the endorsement of the Republican-owned Chicago Tribune -- which has never before endorsed a Democrat for president?

And how can you pretend to give a rat's ass about balancing the budget when George W. Bush has spent the last eight years pouring the Clinton-era budget surplus down a hole in the Middle East?

You guys are rationalizing so hard, you could turn π into 22/7.

Anonymous said...

P.S. to "redistribution of wealth" guy: To extend your analogy, the Bush years have been all about giving nothing at all to the homeless guy, while having the waitress tip you.

Anonymous said...

About the fluroscent gene insertion:

There was a piece on NPR - while the three scientists who did a lot with creating the application of such a maneuver won the Nobel prize, the guy who isolated the gene sequence and who actually handed it over to the main researchers is now driving a courtesy shuttle for an Alabama car dealership.

Anonymous said...

anjiaoshi, you are apparently confused. George Bush is running for President this time around.

Anonymous said...

"redistribution of wealth" guy: Interesting. You know, I saw the exact same comment, word for word, a week ago on the blog. You wouldn't happen to be cutting and pasting from some viral e-mail, would you?

Nah, I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

Anonymous said...

VOR, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you meant to say George W. Bush is not running this time around.

But it hardly matters. McCain can claim he's not Bush: The Sequel till the cows come home. But he still pitches trickle-down economics and tax cuts for the luxury class; he's evidently unconcerned about what debt-financed war is doing to the dollar, never mind soldiers, their families, the political stability of the Middle East and Central Asia, and the reputation of the United States abroad; and he expects American families to pay for $12,000 worth of health insurance each year with a $5,000 tax credit.

Next to that kind of obstinate cluelessness, socialism starts to look really good.