Showing posts from April, 2016

Zika research: Science in a hurry

Recently headlines have declared that Zika has been confirmed to cause microcephaly.  If you haven't been following, Zika is a viral infection similar to Yellow Fever or Denguy Fever that has broken out in Brazil over the last year.  At the same time, Brazil has witnessed an epidemic of a severe birth defect called microcephaly.  It's alarming both for it's consequence and it's mystery.  Microcephaly is a terrible birth defect in which babies are born with small, malformed brains.  But although it seems likely that the microcephaly epidemic is the result of an outbreak of another virus occurring at the same time, we don't actually know how Zika causes microcephaly or how often microcephaly occurs in women with Zika.  This is a huge question. In order to firmly establish that Zika is actually CAUSING birth defects that are occurring, researchers in Brazil grew neruons in a dish and then infected them with Zika.  When they did, the neurons died. What's funny a

Why you should vote for Sanders: possibly not the reason you thought

If you're one of my friends then statistically speaking you're already voting for Bernie Sanders.  But if you happen to be an outlier, then I'd like to offer a reason why you really should vote for Bernie Sanders in your state's primary.  It's because his candidacy has a forced attention on to critical issues going on in our country and we all are benefiting more the longer this discussion goes.  I think that even if you don't actually agree with Bernie Sanders, you still might agree that the attention being paid to things like income inequality and the roles that our political parties play in modern politics is long overdue. Right now I'm assuming that if you aren't already voting for Sanders it's because you've considered his strengths and weaknesses against those of Hillary Clinton and you've concluded one or more of the following: either he's too liberal for you or he's too liberal to get elected. Although I disagree, I won

I saw Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

On Tuesday I went to see the new Batman Superman movie with Ryan and Jack.  It was truly abysmal.  I knew going in that the movie wasn't made for me, and so I tried to go in and watch it for what it was trying to be.  But boy did it stink. There are lots of movies that don't quite work.  2006's "Superman Returns" for example was another Superman film that flopped.  At the time, I was an apologist, because I could see what director Bryan Singer was trying to accomplish.  He failed, but I could appreciate that he had picked his version of the character and made his creative decisions, even if the pieces never quite fell into place the way he'd hoped. But this film... Zach Snyder and David Goyer join the ranks of George Lucas, M. Knight Shyamalan, and Damon Lindelof as creative minds with terrible taste and complete confidence in themselves. Like the other three, this writer director team created a movie which could only have come to exist because the drivi

Julie and I got engaged!

Days after celebrating our three year anniversary I proposed to my girlfriend Julie.  To answer some basic questions: The ring was a simple custom solitaire with a filigree engraved into a palladium band.  Palladium isn't as popular as platinum because it lacks the name recognition, but it's a fantastic metal. I proposed to Julie at a restaurant near us called Post and Beam.  It's a great place.  To add some personal flair I revealed the location and time in the form of a puzzle.  I didn't want to make it as simple as a pen-and-paper word substitution cipher so instead I thought I'd add a twist by making it something that couldn't be solved without the aid of a computer.  To do this I set up several fake email addresses and built a story around it.  Two of the addresses discussed plans that revealed the time and location of our dinner.  The other two contacted Julie to request her help breaking into one of the two email addresses.  I supplied her with a user