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Eli Brandt

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UV photons come in and mess up DNA, they fuse together neighboring bases so they don't work. So organisms have developed enzymes that are powered by blue photons that reverse the damage the UV did.

In various flavors these are very widespread. We placental mammals, sadly, have lost ours a while back, so we're fragile under UV. We do have a fork of this that turned into a blue-light signaling transducer that hooks into our circadian cycle.

Fowlpox viruses have acquired one of these enzymes so that even 'dead' outside a host cell they are still repairing their own DNA, which I guess is good if you tend to make all the covering feathers fall off and you want to get spread around in the open.

(No sorry cosmetics quacks I don't believe you can smear a 60-kilodalton protein on your epidermis and have it travel through to help the live cells underneath.)
Photolyase - Wikipedia
Photolyase - Wikipedia

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I knew that dahlias generally had edible tubers, but I had not heard a thing about dahlia fake coffee invented by the Jello / Tang dude. "Dacopa". Despite being a child of the wizard of industrial food, it was apparently sold in health-food stores alongside the carob. (Though some have you making a dacopa as a tea of dried petals, which is going to be totally different I expect.)

Growing Edible Dahlias
Growing Edible Dahlias

I find I have many opinions about The Trumpet of the Swan, seriously check the length of these opinions. Reading it as an adult, I'm pretty pissed off at old E. B. The general male chauvinism (females and their notions etc.) is not unexpected from 1970, though uncool. The conception of romance is not unexpected in 2018: romance is when you get near an object of desire, who hardly knows you, lurking all night while she sleeps recuperating from nearly dying, and she will then fall in love-at-first-sight on waking to your sweet music.

No, but it's the selling your children into slavery that's getting me. Louis finally buys Serena out of zoo captivity (which she incurred by trespassing under that life-threatening emergency) at the price of sending future children to be zoo captives. (He didn't ask her about this, see Chauvinism.)

Sam Beaver pitches this idea to Louis as a benefit to the children, institutionalizing one chosen child per generation: "in every family of cygnets, there is always one who needs special care and protection". "Would you be willing to donate one of your cygnets, now and then, if the zoo needs another swan for the lake?" This is after the explanation at length that the parents had to go free because "Louis would pine away in captivity. He would die. He needs wild places..." And let us be painfully clear, this is not when Louis and Serena deem one specific cygnet would be happier in captivity, this is: "how can I be sure that Louis will bring me a young Trumpeter Swan when I need one?" But as it was bargained, "If the Zoo needed a young Trumpeter Swan to add to its collection of waterfowl, Louis would donate one of its cygnets, just as he had promised." If the Zoo needed, not if the cygnet needed.

How is this okay?

Trying to justify this leans on the literal idea that there if every family of cygnets there is is always one, always one. So the Zoo's call for tribute is always satisfiable with ethics. Take that as truth: then in a year where the Zoo doesn't need an addition, what happens to the one cygnet who needs special care? Shouldn't you be insisting the Zoo accept one per generation? And woe, what about the lost generations of swans back into prehistory? Literally it's ridiculous, and Sam and Louis don't mean it literally, but they want to blur between "always" and "sometimes" and think this is okay. The fact that this is an agreement rather than a voluntary opportunity says obviously it's not a benefit to the swans.

Among Louis and his siblings, which would have been that one "who needs special care"? I'm gonna say… the 'defective' cygnet. No wacky idea about a trumpet smash-and-grab would arise, since Louis would have been tabbed as tribute to the Zoo from infancy.

Yes, the author's trouble does come where the book is showing the seams between a world where swans are animals and a world where swans are people, but there are better stitch-up jobs to be had. Having people-swans and having zoo swans of any kind is creepy, because you have people in zoos; that's hard to avoid with the premises. But you didn't have to make it this bad. Doing this with children is straight-up a dystopian YA novel! If adult swans find the Zoo to their liking they can sign themselves in. The author had to write it with children so Louis can buy and sell their fate; he simply can't do that with other adults, but children are property. Why not write the book having the agreement be that Louis spread the word among the swan community for those who like the easy life more than freedom? In fact, among thousands of swans, it's reasonable that some would like to be kept in the zoo.

Or why not write the book that Louis and Serena just flew the hell away before any wing-mutilators got to them? The had the ability. This only reason they didn't is that Louis felt a moral obligation to deal for Serena's freedom -- accepting the idea that she had legitimately lost claim to her freedom by entering the Zoo (desperate in a storm) without cutting another deal in advance.

(Has someone written the follow-up story from the point of view of the cygnet sent to the Zoo? Seriously it's a claaaassic YA dystopia. Your family and society have raised you unquestioning that one child is chosen to be sent to the Zoo and it's good for them, as well as being the keystone in this family's honor. But one young swan begins to have question. Even if breaking with the Zoo would cast shame back through time on the legendary ancestor Louis, as we're told, she begins to approach the idea of rebelling even if it shames Louis. Before she can decide anything she is chosen herself for the Zoo, of course. There she meets the Zoo Children of past years and struggles to de-institutionalize them and convince them of the heresy that Louis deserves shame. It's not quite John Christopher with swans is it -- who wrote this with humans?)


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tl,dr the only antibiotic solidly known to interfere with birth control pills is rifampin, which you are probably not taking. Antibiotics from more common classes (ampicillin, clarithromycin, ciprofloxacin) appear to be fine.

Certain other drugs up-regulate liver enzymes in ways that may lower the hormone levels: griseofulvin (antifungal), phenytoin (and several other anti-seizure meds), some HIV drugs. Sounds like it's worth using another method.

We will probably get "just to be sure" advice from doctors for the rest of time whenever they prescribe you any antibiotic, because it costs them nothing to cover their butts.

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This is fun in re not-so-fun: try a quiz on incarceration!

(Quasi-spoiler: for the "draw your own time series" I'm sure the framing provided by the axis scaling makes a huge difference. But I'm quite smug about my time serieses.)

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For about a decade, between 1984 and the mid-1990s and before better HIV drugs and more enlightened medical care for AIDS patients effectively rendered her obsolete, Burks cared for hundreds of dying people, many of them gay men who had been abandoned by their families. She had no medical training, but she took them to their appointments, picked up their medications, helped them fill out forms for assistance, and talked them through their despair. Sometimes she paid for their cremations. She buried over three dozen of them with her own two hands, after their families refused to claim their bodies. For many of those people, she is now the only person who knows the location of their graves.

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When 'my' party does things like this and I brush it off, call me on it please.

> On March 29, after previous versions of the legislation had stalled, the Republican majority turned what had been an 11-page sewer bill into a 291-page pension bill and passed it in just hours. Kentucky law requires a bill to be read three times over three different days; the legislature tried to claim that readings when it was still a sewer bill counted, but the judge disagreed.

> Ky. House Republicans say court has a "complete and total lack of understanding for the separation of powers"

> Lack of Republican support, particularly in the House, caused Bevin to put aside his promise to pass the proposal at a special session late last year. And when the regular session began in January, Republican legislative leaders struggled to find the votes for some compromise bill.

> And a bill that finally was introduced stalled in the Senate as thousands of teachers and other opponents demonstrated in the hallways outside.

> As the session was drawing to a close on March 29, a scaled-down version of pension reform was revealed at a hastily called meeting of the House State Government Committee. That committee stripped the contents of Senate Bill 151 — a bill dealing with “local provision of wastewater services” that had nearly completed its course through the legislative process — and replaced it with the new pension reform bill.

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From today's Google: Nelly Sachs was a German Jewish poet and playwright who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, and her work dwelled there.


In the snow
the woman walks
holds behind her
tightly and wrongly clasped
branches in bud broken off
in secret
still under cover of night

Yet in her madness totally silent
in the snow
gazing around her with wide open
eyes where
from all sides nothingness
pours in –

But in deepest secret the faraway thing
in her hand
has started to move –



We orphans
we cry out to the world
stones are now our toys,
stones have faces, father
and mother faces.
They don’t fade like
flowers, they don’t bite like beasts –
and they don’t burn like kindling, when
you throw them in the fire –

We orphans, we cry out to the world:
World, why have you taken our soft mothers from us
and our fathers who say: My child, you are so like me!
We orphans, now we are like no one in the world!

O World,
we cry out and accuse you!
Poems of Nelly Sachs in English
Poems of Nelly Sachs in English

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I remember hearing that a Congressman was killed on KAL 007. I never realized that the Congressman, Larry McDonald, was a John Birch extremist and conspiracy theorist.

He was elected to late to join the House Un-American Activities Committee, so he hired ex-HUAC staffers as his own staff, and set up a foundation called Western Goals that was cozy with similar-minded generals, cops, and congressmen. It amassed reports about leftists and traded them around Washington and police departments. An LAPD officer stored 500,000 pages of political dossiers illegally taken from LAPD, and entered them into a Western Goals networked computer. Reader's Digest would publish their communist plot and then Reagan would take it up as fact. Worse, "State Department authors had copied, word-for-word, the Western Goals report on reputed Soviet front groups."

> An unnamed East Coast police intelligence source told the L.A. Times that the organization had a reputation as a “clearinghouse” for police departments to keep information about people not currently under criminal investigation; the organization, according to the Times’ report, secretly provided police departments access to a “broad spectrum of ‘laundered’ intelligence materials.”

> Some of these government organizations actually appeared to launder Western Goals’ intelligence to launch investigations into individuals or groups deemed suspicious. According to contemporary news reports, individuals working for local or federal law enforcement would provide Western Goals with derogatory—and potentially illegally acquired—intelligence information about perceived radicals or groups. Rees, the publications director, would then publish this information in a “journalistic” Western Goals newsletter. McDonald would subsequently enter whole passages from this newsletter in writing into the Congressional Record, which shielded him from libel. (By law, members of Congress are immune from lawsuits targeting statements made in the Record.) Western Goals would then cite McDonald’s statements in its own public reports. It was a clever—and breathtakingly cynical—gambit.

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Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz found not guilty of manslaughter for killing Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez by firing 16 shots through the Nogales border fence, hitting him repeatedly in the back. Swartz said Elena Rodriguez was throwing rocks so he feared for his life.

The rock-throwing claim has worked before, for "Nicholas Corbett who witnesses say shot Francisco Javier Dominguez-Rivera execution-style in the desert."

A video reportedly showed Elena Rodriguez was not throwing rocks. A former CBP Internal Affairs officer, who reported seeing this video, did not testify. (Well, what was the reason the prosecutors didn't call him?) Nor did the video itself surface.

> In October of 2012, Swartz shot 16 rounds through the border fence from Nogales, Arizona, into Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Ten bullets were found in sixteen-year-old Elena Rodriguez' back and head. Swartz's defense argued that Elena Rodriguez was throwing rocks, and that agent Swartz feared for his life.

> former Customs and Border Patrol Internal Affairs Officer James Tomsheck, who reported to multiple sources that he saw a clear video in which Jose Elena Rodriguez was not throwing rocks, as the defense alleged.

> The Guardian has documented 97 fatal encounters over the past fifteen years, yet this trial is only the third time that a Border Patrol agent has faced a jury for a killing committed while on-duty. The first was Agent Michael Elmer who was charged with second-degree murder and obstructing justice. He was acquitted in 1992. The second was agent Nicholas Corbett who witnesses say shot Francisco Javier Dominguez-Rivera execution-style in the desert. He claimed, as did Agent Lonnie Swartz, that the victim was throwing rocks.
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