Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The bucktoothed Pharoah, Republican stem cells and something simply unspeakable--05.11.05

How'd you get so funky?--He had buckteeth, a face that was unusually elongated, pronounced lips and perhaps a receding chin. We don’t know about his complexion. But CT scans of the mummy of the 19-year-old King Tutankhamen show a lad who was not especially handsome. But, as they used to say in burlesque, it’s good to be king and presumably his love life was not affected. Using the CT scans, three teams of scientists and artists reconstructed what he probably looked like—and the mask that covered his mummified face, wasn’t too far off. Buckteeth appear to be a family trait. He had a small cleft in the roof of his mouth, but nothing that interfered with speech. He was about 5-6 and slim. He had great teeth except for an impacted wisdom tooth that must have hurt like hell. The researchers made 1,700 three-dimensional images, more detailed than ever before. Fortunately, the face was the best preserved. The teams—one each in France, Egypt and the U.S.—agreed on most of the details; the Egyptians gave him a stronger chin than did the other two. The French and Egyptians knew which mummy it was while the Americans did not, so the reconstruction would appear to have merit. What killed him? No clue. He had a hole in his skull but that was likely put there long after he died by someone trying to pry the mask off the face. He may have died of infection from a broken leg. The Egyptian antiquities ministry released the pictures, and as John Wilford points out in the New York Times, probably motivated by a tour of artifacts associated with Tut that just happens to open in June in Los Angeles and then goes to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Chicago and Philadelphia

I want three Anne Coulters and a Randall Terry to go--While conservatives love to call us liberals out of touch with America, evidence constantly emerges they got it backwards. Take stem cell research, something of a campaign issue last year. While whopping majorities of Republicans, approve of President Bush’s actions in general (90 percent, believe it or not), they part ways on a number of issues, including stem cell research. The Washington Post reported that a poll of Republicans for Republicans showed that 57 percent of those surveyed favor embryonic stem cell research while only 40 percent opposed it. Fifty-four percent said it was a medical issue, not an abortion issue. Embryonic stem cell research has been a controversial issue for several years. Supporters say it holds the potential to find treatment or even cures for a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. But abortion opponents argue it involves the taking of a nascent human life. Even most Republicans, apparently, don’t agree. Delaware Republican Mike Castle, a supporter of the research, has introduced legislation allowing federal funding for the research on lines created after Aug. 9, 2001, when President Bush banned the creation of further lines, as long as they used the same ethical standards. Since Congresspersons read polls, attention may be paid.


I'll clone my heart in San Francisco--
While the Feds dithered, the good folks of California, of course, voted to spend state funds on stem cell research and this week the announcement came that the headquarters of California’s efforts would be San Francisco. With UC San Francisco (mostly a medical school and hospital) in town, Stanford and Silicon Valley down the road and Berkeley over the bridge, it seemed logical. The City By the Bay beat out San Diego (boring but at least near a UC campus and the Salk establishment) and Sacramento (boooring, and near almost nothing). Except for the housing prices, it is more likely to draw top-notch scientists to that area than say, the central valley. It’s also good news for the area, where the boom decimated the workforce. Californians authorized $3 billion worth of state bonds to fund the research and the offices of the new center, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, already has a home just the UCSF mission Bay campus, and more importantly, the ball park.


A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just sigh--And finally, in the category of animal husbandry... And I’m not making this up. A blog called News Hounds (“We watch FOX so you don’t have to”), posted part of a conversation between Alan Colmes and Neal Horsley, an anti-abortion “extremist,” on Fox Radio. Colmes asked him to explain a statement that he once admitted to bestiality sex. The entry goes like this:
At first, Horsley laughed and said, "Just because it's printed in the media, people jump to believe it."
"Is it true?" Colmes asked.
"Hey, Alan, if you want to accuse me of having sex when I was a fool, I did everything that crossed my mind that looked like I..."
AC: "You had sex with animals?"
NH: "Absolutely. I was a fool. When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule."
AC: "I'm not so sure that that is so."
NH: "You didn't grow up on a farm in Georgia, did you?"
AC: "Are you suggesting that everybody who grows up on a farm in Georgia has a mule as a girlfriend?"
NH: It has historically been the case. You people are so far removed from the reality... Welcome to domestic life on the farm..."
I didn't know that.

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