A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘disease

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • Ryan Anderson at anthro{dendum} looks at the unnatural history of the beach in California, here.
  • Architectuul looks at the architectural imaginings of Iraqi Shero Bahradar, here.
  • Bad Astronomy looks at gas-rich galaxy NGC 3242.
  • James Bow announces his new novel The Night Girl, an urban fantasy set in an alternate Toronto with an author panel discussion scheduled for the Lillian H. Smith Library on the 28th.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the indirect evidence for an exomoon orbiting WASP-49b, a possible Io analogue detected through its ejected sodium.
  • Crooked Timber considers the plight of holders of foreign passports in the UK after Brexit.
  • The Crux notes that astronomers are still debating the nature of galaxy GC1052-DF2, oddly lacking in dark matter.
  • D-Brief notes how, in different scientific fields, the deaths of prominent scientists can help progress.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes how NASA and the ESA are considering sample-return missions to Ceres.
  • Andrew LePage at Drew Ex Machina looks at the first test flights of the NASA Mercury program.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at how Japan is considering building ASAT weapons.
  • Andrew LePage at Drew Ex Machina looks at the first test flights of the NASA Mercury program.
  • Far Outliers looks how the anti-malarial drug quinine played a key role in allowing Europeans to survive Africa.
  • At In Media Res, Russell Arben Fox considers grace and climate change.
  • io9 reports on how Jonathan Frakes had anxiety attacks over his return as Riker on Star Trek: Picard.
  • JSTOR Daily reports on the threatened banana.
  • Language Log looks at the language of Hong Kong protesters.
  • Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money notes how a new version of The Last of the Mohicans perpetuates Native American erasure.
  • Marginal Revolution notes how East Germany remains alienated.
  • Neuroskeptic looks at the participant-observer effect in fMRI subjects.
  • The NYR Daily reports on a documentary looking at the India of Modi.
  • Corey S. Powell writes at Out There about Neptune.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the atmosphere of Venus, something almost literally oceanic in its nature.
  • Noel Maurer at The Power and the Money considers how Greenland might be incorporated into the United States.
  • Rocky Planet notes how Earth is unique down to the level of its component minerals.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog considers biopolitical conservatism in Poland and Russia.
  • Starts With a Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers if LIGO has made a detection that might reveal the nonexistence of the theorized mass gap between neutron stars and black holes.
  • Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps looks at Marchetti’s constant: People in cities, it seems, simply do not want to commute for a time longer than half an hour.
  • Understanding Society’s Daniel Little looks at how the US Chemical Safety Board works.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on how Muslims in the Russian Far North fare.
  • Arnold Zwicky looks at cannons and canons.

[ISL] Five #islands links: Newfoundland, Komodo, South China Sea, Kiribati, Faroe Islands

  • This story about a genealogical mystery newly-found in the genetics of Newfoundland is fascinating. The National Post reports.
  • The island of Komodo has been closed to tourists to save the Komodo dragons from poachers. VICE reports.
  • China plans to build a city under its control among the islets of the South China Sea. Business Insider reports.
  • The Inter Press Service notes the spread of leprosy in Kiribati.
  • JSTOR Daily explains why, for one week, the Faroe Islands are closed to tourists to better enable cleaning and repairs.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait goes into more detail about the Milky Way Galaxy’s ancient collision with and absorption of dwarf galaxy Gaia-Enceladus.
  • Centauri Dreams considers SETI in the infrared, looking at the proposal to use a laser to signal our existence to observers of our sun.
  • D-Brief notes a study of Neanderthal children’s teeth that documents their hazardous environment, faced with cold winters and lead contamination.
  • The Island Review shares three lovely islands-related poems by writer Naila Moreira.
  • JSTOR Daily asks an important question: Can the United States and China avoid the Thucydides trap, a war of the rising power with the falling one? Things seems uncertain at this point.
  • Mark Liberman at Language Log looks at the continuing lack of progress of machine translation.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at a recent discussion on the Roman Republic, noting how imperialism and inequality led to that polity’s transformation into an empire. Lessons for us now?
  • The Map Room Blog shares a Canadian Geographic map describing the different, declining, populations of caribou in the north of Canada.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a paper suggesting that global pandemics will not necessarily kill us all off, that high-virulence infections might be outcompeted and, even, controllable.
  • The NYR Daily takes a look at historical reasons for the prominence of Rembrandt in the British artistic imagination.
  • Towleroad notes that Massachusetts voted to keep transgender rights protected.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the quality of Russian taught in schools in Uzbekistan is declining. I wonder: Is this a matter of a Central Asian variety emerging, perhaps?
  • Livio di Matteo at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative takes a look at the long-run economic growth of Australia, contrasting it with the past and with other countries. In some ways, Canada (among others) is a stronger performer.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Beyond the Beyond notes some anti-drone activists’ efforts to get drones controlled.
  • blogTO reports on the history of the strip mall in Toronto, looks at the abandoned Whitney Block Tower by Queen’s Park, and reports from the attic of Queen’s Park.
  • Discover‘s Body Horrors notes the possibility that global warming might lead to the reemergence of anthrax from the Siberian wastes.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the discovery of exocometary gas in the debris ring of HD 181327.
  • Far Outliers notes the brutality in the Japanese naval academy and reassesses Admiral Yamamoto.
  • Noel Power at The Power and the Money looks at inequality in American history, after Piketty’s arguments.
  • Peter Rukavina reports on an interesting art installation in Charlottetown, of floating tents.
  • Savage Minds describes the “silo effect” besetting organizations.
  • Torontoist reports on the first game of cricket in Toronto.

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • Bloomberg notes how an economic boom will let Sweden postpone hard decisions, looks at the popularity of the Korean Wave in China, suggests that subsidies are going to be a big issue for cash-short Arab governments, looks at the investigation in Bulgaria of groups which arrest refugees, and looks at the long-term problems of the Russian economy.
  • CBC reports on a Saskatchewan woman who has a refuge for pet rats.
  • Global News illustrates the dire social conditions in the Ontario North, hitting particularly strongly First Nations groups.
  • The Guardian reports on speculation that Neanderthals may have died in significant numbers from African diseases brought by human migrants.
  • MacLean’s notes a study of handwriting styles in ancient Israel which suggest that literacy was reasonably common.
  • The Mississauga News reports on a new PFLAG support group for South Asians in Peel.
  • National Geographic notes the strong pressures on island birds towards flightlessness.
  • Science Mag notes subtle genetic incompatibilities between human women and male Neanderthals which would have hindered reproduction.
  • The USA Today network has a story examining the recent HIV outbreak in Indiana.
  • Vice reports on the huge cleavages within the NDP, something also examined at the CBC.

[LINK] “Zika Virus May Push South America to Loosen Abortion Bans”

Wireds Sarah Zhang describes how the spread of the Zika virus has influenced the abortion debate in South America.

With no vaccine, no cure, and without even a reliable diagnosis, doctors are at a loss for how to protect their patients from the Zika virus. In the past year, the mosquito-borne disease has spread throughout Latin America, sparking panic because of a possible link to microcephaly—babies born with abnormally small brains. Without more information, medical advice so far has boiled down to this: Don’t get pregnant. So say official guidelines from Brazil, Colombia, and Honduras. El Salvador has gone so far as to recommend women do not get pregnant until 2018.

But most of these Latin American countries are also Catholic, so access to birth control is often poor and abortion is flat-out banned. “This kind of recommendation that women should avoid pregnancy is not realistic,” says Beatriz Galli, a Brazil-based policy advisor for the reproductive health organization Ipas. “How can they put all the burden of this situation on the women?”

In Brazil, where Zika has hit the hardest, birth control is available—though poor and rural women can still get left out. One report estimates that unplanned pregnancies make up over half of all births in the country. And abortion is illegal, except in cases of rape and certain medical conditions. A raft of impending legislation in Brazil’s conservative-held congress may make it harder to get abortions even in those exempted cases.

Now throw Zika into that. Scientists still haven’t confirmed the link to microcephaly, but Brazilian researchers have confirmed the virus can jump through the placenta from mother to fetus. Circumstantially, the number of of microcephaly cases has gone up 20 fold since Zika first reached Brazil. In the face of fear and incomplete information, women will have to figure out how to protect themselves and their children.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2016 at 5:10 pm

[LINK] “Ebola-Free Sierra Leone Bets on Cocoa to Spark Recovery”

Bloomberg’s Silas Gbandia and Isis Almeida report on the struggles of Sierra Leone’s nascent cocoa agribusinesses to survive Ebola and its aftermath.

In July 2014, Adrian Simpson was on a night out in Sierra Leone’s third city of Kenema to celebrate his biggest deal yet: a contract to supply a new business partner with cocoa beans from his company’s plantation.

But as he and the business partners sat drinking beer, an unexpected visitor brought some distressing news.

“We were having a great evening,” said Simpson, managing director of the cocoa unit of London-listed Agriterra Ltd., by phone from London. “Then, an American girl who was studying Ebola wandered over to our table, sat down and said, ‘I think Ebola has arrived.”’

Fast forward to November 2015, and Sierra Leone was declared free from the disease that ultimately claimed almost 3,600 lives in the country, making it one of the hardest-hit by the worst Ebola epidemic yet. The double blow of Ebola and a slump in iron-ore prices devastated the West African nation. While growth is forecast at 0.1 percent this year, the economy contracted 0.25 percent in 2015. Before Ebola began to spread, the government expected growth to reach 14 percent in 2014. Instead, it grew 4.6 percent.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 8, 2016 at 4:04 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that Toronto won’t get a second NHL team any time soon.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at a design for an ion-drive interplanetary starship.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at Pluto’s moons of Hydra and Nix.
  • Joe. My. God. and Towleroad note that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled Italy should recognize same-sex partnerships.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the low median wage in many American states.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes an odd haze in a crater on Ceres.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer examines the unusually high crime rate in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.
  • Torontoist looks at the National Post‘s mobile news van.
  • Towleroad notes the closure of New York City’s Chelsea STD clinic.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers if the Iran deal is constitutional.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Ukrainians are against the federalization of their country.

[LINK] “Black Death Left a Mark on Human Genome”

Science‘s Elizabeth Pennisi wrote about a fascinating study that, by comparing the genes of ethnic Romanians with Roma residents of that country, determined that the black death had left an imprint on European populations absent elsewhere.

The Black Death didn’t just wipe out millions of Europeans during the 14th century. It left a mark on the human genome, favoring those who carried certain immune system genes, according to a new study. Those changes may help explain why Europeans respond differently from other people to some diseases and have different susceptibilities to autoimmune disorders.

Geneticists know that human populations evolve in the face of disease. Certain versions of our genes help us fight infections better than others, and people who carry those genes tend to have more children than those who don’t. So the beneficial genetic versions persist, while other versions tend to disappear as those carrying them die. This weeding-out of all but the best genes is called positive selection. But researchers have trouble pinpointing positively selected genes in humans, as many genes vary from one individual to the next.

Enter Mihai Netea, an immunologist at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands. He realized that in his home country, Romania, the existence of two very distinct ethnic groups provided an opportunity to see the hand of natural selection in the human genome. A thousand years ago, the Rroma people—commonly known as gypsies—migrated into Europe from north India. But they intermarried little with European Romanians and thus have very distinct genetic backgrounds. Yet, by living in the same place, both of these groups experienced the same conditions, including the Black Plague, which did not reach northern India. So the researchers sought genes favored by natural selection by seeking similarities in the Rroma and European Romanians that are not found in North Indians.

Netea; evolutionary biologist Jaume Bertranpetit of Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain; and their colleagues looked for differences at more than 196,000 places in the genomes of 100 Romanians of European descent and 100 Rroma. For comparison, the researchers also cataloged these differences in 500 individuals who lived in northwestern India, where the Rroma came from. Then they analyzed which genes had changed the most to see which were most favored by selection.

Genetically, the Rroma are still quite similar to the northwestern Indians, even though they have lived side by side with the Romanians for a millennium, the team found. But there were 20 genes in the Rroma and the Romanians that had changes that were not seen in the Indians’ versions of those genes, Netea and his colleagues report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These genes “were positively selected for in the Romanians and in the gypsies but not in the Indians,” Netea explains. “It’s a very strong signal.”

Written by Randy McDonald

July 21, 2015 at 10:53 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO shares vintage photos of Weston Road.
  • Centauri Dreams features a guest post on the fast radio bursts that had all astir.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper about the circumstellar disk of AB Aurigae.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes problems with Russia’s development of a stealth fighter.
  • Language Hat links to an examination of the way the words “chikungunya” and “dengue” are used to describe the same disease.
  • Languages of the World takes a look at one dying Russian dialect of Alaska.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is surprised anyone is surprised Britain is spying on Argentina.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that demand in China and India is already driving research and development.
  • Peter Rukavina looks at the mechanics of the Internet presences of Island political parties.
  • Savage Minds announces the return of the intermittant online anthropological journal Anthropologies.
  • Transit Toronto links to a collection of Greater Toronto Area transit news.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy reacts at length to the finding of the report on Rolling Stone‘s mistaken rape story, noting that the fraternity in question has a good case for libel.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Crimean Tatar news outlet closures and notes that Ukrainian government ministers widely speak English.