Monday, March 18, 2019

Seeing Again

Sesame Street - Four Blind Mice -1969
Wouldn't it be great if sight could be restored?

Blind people could see again. That would be great.

Well, perhaps that will be true. Soon.

Here's the story...

With single gene insertion, blind mice regain sight, University of California- Berkeley,, 15 March 2019.

"It was surprisingly simple. University of California, Berkeley, scientists inserted a gene for a green-light receptor into the eyes of blind mice and, a month later, they were navigating around obstacles as easily as mice with no vision problems. They were able to see motion, brightness changes over a thousandfold range and fine detail on an iPad sufficient to distinguish letters."

"The researchers say that, within as little as three years, the gene therapy—delivered via an inactivated virus—could be tried in humans who've lost sight because of retinal degeneration, ideally giving them enough vision to move around and potentially restoring their ability to read or watch video."

"You would inject this virus into a person's eye and, a couple months later, they'd be seeing something," said Ehud Isacoff, a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and director of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. "With neurodegenerative diseases of the retina, often all people try to do is halt or slow further degeneration. But something that restores an image in a few months—it is an amazing thing to think about."

About 170 million people worldwide live with age-related macular degeneration, which strikes one in 10 people over the age of 55, while 1.7 million people worldwide have the most common form of inherited blindness, retinitis pigmentosa, which typically leaves people blind by the age of 40.


Sesame Street - Four Blind Mice -1969

Friday, March 15, 2019

King Pickpocket

One thing is certain, Mr. Trump is more adept than most politicos at distracting attention.

For instance, while he is suggesting that his followers might decide to use violence against the rest of us unless he gets his way, his minions are out dismantling our government, and handing out publicly owned lands and natural resources to his corporate buddies.

Wow. He is the King of Pickpockets. We really do need to watch where those little hands are going... all the time.

You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two (from: "Oliver!" - 1968)

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Knowing Earlier Makes Big Difference

A newly published study adds weight to the growing body of evidence suggesting cognitive decline can be tracked through changes in the eye. (Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Depositphotos)

A Duke University research study... "published in the journal Ophthalmology Retina, has reported that statistically significant differences can be identified in the retinas of patients with Alzheimer's disease. The finding paves the way for a future where the disease could be diagnosed from a simple eye scan before major symptoms appear."

The study was reported in a New Atlas article,  Alzheimer's eye test could catch the disease before symptoms appear, written by Rich Haridy and posted 11 March 2019.

"...the results were satisfyingly clear, with the Alzheimer's subjects displaying significantly reduced macular vessel density and perfusion density in comparison to both the healthy control and the MCI subjects. This suggests that not only could the OCTA imaging serve as an easy diagnostic test that can detect Alzheimer's disease, but further work to better home in on the how different stages of retinal degeneration correlate with neurodegeneration may lead to a quick eye test that identifies patients at the very earliest stages of cognitive decline, before the symptoms become clinically evident."

"Ultimately, the goal would be to use this technology to detect Alzheimer's early, before symptoms of memory loss are evident, and be able to monitor these changes over time in participants of clinical trials studying new Alzheimer's treatments," says Fekrat."

"This kind of eye scan, tracking thinning in the retina, is also being investigated as an early detection tool to catch patients with Parkinson's disease before major symptoms present. The research is still in its nascent stages, and more work is needed before it can be widely rolled out, but the implications are exciting. A quick, non-invasive eye examination that can be routinely rolled out to identify those at risk of neurodegeneration before it takes hold would allow a huge range of preventative treatments to be deployed."

Here's the whole story...

The Tenors - I Remember You - 2015

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Our Lives Have Value

Reading Mr. Trump's budget reminded me that we have a choice.

We can choose to accept the same-old-same-old... more spending for the Republican Defense Industry Global Corporations and much less for what matters most for us, such as Environmental Protection, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Transportation, Education, Medicare, Social Security, and diplomacy.

Or, we can make our government work for us by, "not taking it anymore".

Why? Because our lives have value. Government must begin to spend our money to help us.

Let's make change happen for us rather than continuing to accept the same-old-same-old again.

I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore! Speech from Network - 1976

Published on Aug 17, 2013
"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression."

"Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it."

"We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be."

"We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'"

"Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street."

"All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' 

So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!'

Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Local Gov Accountability on State Level

One of the many blessing we enjoy in the United States is perhaps the one most unacknowledged. That is that for the most part, our local governments work.

By that I mean local governments effectively and efficiently operate for the benefit of their citizens.

Certainly, for me that is true because I am lucky to live in a Michigan township, Grosse Ile, with honest, dedicated, capable, flexible and forward thinking elected leaders and public servants.

From my years of experience working with cities, counties and regional governments in Michigan and Ohio, I can also extend my praise to a host of other communities, too.

By the way, on the local government level, for the most part, my experience tells me that party affiliation makes no difference. When the rubber meets the road, what really matters is what is in the hearts of the leaders – are they dedicated to working for the community’s best interests or are they more interested in leveraging their position of public trust for personal advancement and/or pocketbook.

Another and equally important measure of leadership is the ability to face tough issues head on and create a grounded, sustainable solution and then go to us - the people, face-to-face - answer our questions with facts and convince us that the plan is a wise solution for all of us.

The local government leaders I've had the honor of working with usually confront and solve local issues, while state and federal leaders are usually not accountable to the same standard… perhaps we no longer expect equally high standards from them or they’re using a totally different playbook.

Anyway, for us in Michigan, the gods of government may be ready to grant us a reprieve since our recently elected Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, is now facing one of her first tests of leadership with her plan to fix our “damn roads”.

Her plan calls for a $.45 tax increase per gallon of gas in order to raise the revenue needed to maintain and repair our roads.

After years of "kick-the-can-down-the-road state house and senate leadership", it appears that we now have a leader who is willing to solve our roads challenge by facing the fact that it costs money to do the job right.

So, maybe our roads will finally be repaired and maintained under some rational plan.

It’s obvious that each of us will pay the price of fixing our roads - either in vehicle repairs, loss of home property value, lost sales/profits - or at the pump.

My choice is at the pump.

I hope Gov. Whitmer does a good job convincing us with the facts that her plan is best for all of us.

Bruce Springsteen - We Take Care of Our Own - 2012 

Friday, March 1, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC)... Stateswoman in Action

Photo credit: Screen capture from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
questions Michael Cohen (C-SPAN) See video clip below.
It's been so long. A few of us have forgotten, but most of us are too young to have seen what it looks like when an Representative actually does his/her job for the people of his/her district and for the people of the United States.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) recently gave us a clear example of an American stateswoman in action.

Here's the story...

At the End of a Long, Tedious Cohen Hearing, AOC Was Sharp and Crisp, Ed Kilgore,, 27 Feb 2019.

"Until today, I had been skeptical about the hype over new congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She is, after all, a backbencher from a safe Democratic district in a heavily Democratic state. She won an impressive upset primary victory last year, but is still south of 30 years old and belongs to the small if interesting tribe of self-identified democratic socialists (to which I do not happen to belong). Maybe I don’t spend enough time on social media to understand her mastery of latter-day communications. But I figured she had become a self-perpetuating legend probably resented by her colleagues who spent years toiling for a tiny fraction of the attention she’s attracted."

"But at the end of a long, tedious day in the House Oversight Committee marked by clumsy questioning of Michael Cohen by Democrats, and shrieking hostility to the witness from Trump-loving Republicans, AOC (as she is universally known in the political universe — you know, like FDR and JFK) put in perhaps the single most impressive appearance of the hearing."

"She was crisp, succinct, and very focused on raising some previously undiscussed potential criminal liability issues for Trump that Cohen’s testimony suggested (e.g, insurance fraud), including several where the hot-button issue of Trump’s missing tax returns might be germane. I wasn’t the only viewer who was impressed; so was the fact-checker from the Washington Post, another person unlikely to be excessively biased toward AOC:"

Please go here for the rest of the story.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questions Michael Cohen (C-SPAN)