Yeah, but can they bring back my dead cat?

The Post has a neat article on how a 1918 flu virus was brought back to life thanks to genetic researchers. Traces were found in a corpse frozen in Alaska, and using “reverse genetics” the scientists were able to recreate the virus. I have a dead cat buried in my sandbox back home. Maybe he is next in line? Fascinating stuff… Taubenberger’s team sequenced genome information recovered from a female flu victim buried in the Alaskan permafrost in 1918. Then, they shared the data with researchers at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Using a technique called reverse genetics, the Mount Sinai researchers used the genetic coding to create microscopic, virus-like strings of genes, called plasmids. The plasmids then were sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where they were inserted into human kidney cells for the final step in the virus reconstruction. “Once you get the plasmids inside the cell, the virus assembles itself,” said Terrence Tumpey, the CDC research scientist who assembled the virus. “It only takes a couple of days.”]]>

Bio hit on the mall

The Washington Post writes about a bioterror sensor that went off on the Mall over the weekend during a recent protest. From what I recall, it seems this naturally occuring element was kicked up (maybe) by the people stomping on the ground (which is a bit odd, since there weren’t that many people compared to a real protest). But it just shows the need for the project I was helping my friends with at Institute for Applied Science. Bio-detection is an inexact science, at present, because it take so much time to get the results. Hopefully the new tools the Institute is developing will end these problems.]]>

Yank out the red light cameras now

Washington Post. In fact, they are causing more accidents than they are stopping, so says the statistics. Unfortunately, they are also a major money source for city governments and the evil corporations that run them. And there is the constitutional problem that hasn’t been properly addressed. Red light cameras are run by private companies that get a cut of each ticket issued. There is no incentive to “give a guy a break” as that affects the bottom line of the corporations profit. If a cop sees a guy run a red light, but realizes it is because of a firetruck coming, or a big semi approaching from behind, or because the light was short timed, or a guy stopped short and left him in the intersection, the cop isn’t going to write a ticket (unless he is an uber-jerk). Red light cameras don’t have this discretion. There is actually some case law on “independence” as it relates to the Fourth Amendment that should be applied here. Courts have said that someone who has a financial interest in a case cannot be “independent” and issuing warrants for searches. I think it is time for a series of lawsuits against the corporations and the cities to try and do away with these now (arguably) useless stop lights. Of course that would mean I would have to go get a ticket in the first place to have standing. We’ll see… It is a long established requirement that, to be valid under the Fourth Amendment, a search warrant must be issued by a neutral and detached magistrate. Shadwick v. City of Tampa, 407 U.S. 345, 350, 92 S. Ct. 2119, 2123 (1972)(citing Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 14, 68 S. Ct. 367, 369 (1948)). It also appears that Madison has an interest in the outcome of proceedings before her because of her work as the “chief lieutenant deputy jailor” for financial matters, including the collection of fees and billings for housing inmates and for trying to secure the financial stability of the jail. In Tumey v. Ohio, 273 U.S. 510, 47 S. Ct. 437 (1927), and Ward v. Village of Monroeville, 409 U.S. 57, 93 S. Ct. 80 (1972), the mayors of towns in Ohio had a financial interest in the outcome of minor cases that they had jurisdiction under Ohio law to try. The mayors had a financial interest in the sense that they could assess fees and costs which in the case of Tumey went into his own pocket and in the case of Ward went to the city of which he was mayor. In the case before us, Madison oversees the jail’s budget and is in charge of its financial transactions. Madison’s agency stands to gain financially in the form of bookings, administrative fees from arrests and per diem lodging. See KY. REV. STAT. § 441.265. Madison explained that for arrestees for which she would issue an arrest warrant in her county as trial commissioner, as jailor she would collect various fees for the jail: “[i]f someone comes in and they make bond and they’re being released, they can pay the booking fee; the deputies can write them a receipt and accept that money and put it into our safe.” (J.A. at 238.) Like Tumey and Ward, Madison may have a financial interest in the outcome of cases before her because she can issue warrants for the arrest of persons who would then pay fees to Madison as the jail’s financial officer and whose lodging may be reimbursed by other government agencies. This set of incentives reinforces our conclusion that Madison’s ability to act as a neutral and objective magistrate is questionable.]]>

Car Windows and Rocks

Well isn’t this just great. This is my rear window which met my lawnmower (which I was using as tiller basically by mowing at the lowest setting). The rock shot in the back window and left a trail of little shards everwhere. But yesterday, I did it one better. I was on Route 4 and a big stone bounced up and into the front windshield, leaving a Quarter sized crack in the window. This morning the crack expanded to more than a dollar bill in size, and is still growing. I guess I have another appointment with the auto glass store tomorrow.]]>