Monday, June 25, 2007

Bong hits 4 Jesus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday curtailed free-speech rights for stude
nts, ruling against a teenager who unfurled a banner saying "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" because the message could be interpreted as promoting drug use.

In its first major decision on student free-speech rights in nearly 20 years, the high court's conservative majority ruled that a high school principal did not violate the student's rights by confiscating the banner and suspending him.

Student Joseph Frederick says the banner's language was meant to be nonsensical and funny, a prank to get on television as the Winter Olympic torch relay passed by the school in January 2002 in Juneau, Alaska.
More at Yahoo News

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Skin grafts grown from hair

Pisa, June 22 - Italian researchers have
succeeded in using hair to grow the right kind of skin for grafting onto serious burns and other wounds. "Basically, you put the hair in an incubator and grow skin cells that produce a protein that endows the skin with protective properties," said Pisa University's Marco Romanelli. "We have obtained a type of skin that is able to repair the kind of wounds that are hardest to treat". "And there's no risk of us turning anyone bald - we only take about 100 hairs from each person, the number that falls out every day in any case". Read More at Life in Italy

Friday, June 22, 2007

Rock addiction deemed a 'disability'

A heavy metal fan has been awarded sickness handouts after doctors said his addiction to music was a disability.

The ruling means Roger Tullgren, 42, will pocket thousands of pounds in state benefits to help finance his 36-year obsession.

His boss is also letting him play his ear-splitting music at work and giving him time off for concerts, reports the Daily Mirror.

It marks an end to Roger's 10-year bid to have his "condition", which began when he started listening to Ozzy Osbourne's band Black Sabbath in 1971, officially classified as a handicap.


I wonder if I can get the state to pay for my heavy-metal addiction...

Too Much Freedom of Speech?

Consider freedom of speech. Hardly anyone actually supports unrestricted freedom to say what we want. Many of those defending Kilroy-Silk, for example, would be horrified by the extreme freedom of speech in Denmark, where pro-paedophile groups are allowed to speak with impunity. This would be a freedom too far.

But why? In his classic defence of liberty, John Stuart Mill distinguished between offense and harm. We cannot stop people doing or saying anything simply because it offends us. Too many people are offended by too many different things. We should only constrain the liberty of others if what they do causes harm. More at BBC News

What do you think? When is freedom of speech too much?

Restrictions on free speech [wiki] are prevalent whether we realize it or not.

The first morning of the 2005 school year held more than the typical jitters for Toni Kay Scott. One moment, the seventh-grader, known as T.K., was stepping from her mom's Ford pickup to join friends in front of Redwood Middle School in Napa, Calif. Minutes later, the police officer assigned to watch arriving students was steering her toward the principal's office.

Scott, an impish brunet with a tiny nostril stud, had violated Redwood's dress code. The code aimed to squelch gangs by requiring students to wear only certain clothes and solid colors. Scott could change her outfit and stay at school, or she could spend the day at home. "I said, 'There's nothing wrong with what I'm wearing. I'm going home,'" recalls Scott, a near straight-A student. "I thought it was kind of ridiculous." More at Time Magazine

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Stem Cells from Skin

"These cells should provide a valuable resource for tissue repair and for organs as well," said Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and senior researcher on the project. "Because these cells are taken from a patient's own skin, there would not be problems with organ or tissue rejection."

The research team grew mesenchymal stem cells, a type of stem cell normally found in bone marrow. Using tissue samples from 15 donors who had routine circumcisions, the scientists were able to isolate single stem cells, which they then grew in culture dishes in the laboratory. The scientists used hormones and growth factors to coax the stem cells into becoming fat, muscle and bone cells.

When the differentiated cells were seeded onto three-dimensional molds and implanted in mice, they maintained features consistent with bone, muscle and fat tissue. "Our study shows that stem cells can be obtained from a simple skin biopsy and can be made to become three vital tissues," said Shay Soker, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery at Wake Forest's School of Medicine, which is part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "The bulk of our bodies is made up of fat, muscle and bone."

The promise of stem cells lies in their ability to develop into specialized types of cells and to replicate themselves. Scientists hope to harness the potential of stem cells and use them to replace damaged cells and tissue in conditions such as spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, stroke and burns.

Read the rest at Science Daily

Admittedly, from what information this article gives, that's far from ideal. Ideally, you'd use skin cells to produce pluripotent cells (Meaning the can produce any cell in the human body, like an embryonic stem cell does.). The only real revelation here is that you can produce the cells from skin, we already knew that you could get multipotent stem cells from the bone marrow. But just you wait...

With a few strokes of genetic trickery, scientists have transformed mouse skin cells into embryonic stem cells and proved their potency by using the new cells to produce baby mice.

The experiments are seen as a major advance for regenerative medicine, which aims to custom-build tissues and cells to repair ailing and aging bodies.

Scientists caution there are serious safety issues that must be resolved before the techniques could ever be used on people, but they say the advance points to a new way of making embryonic stem cells for patients from their own cells.

More at

The main problem with stem cells, is they share so much in common with cancer cells, that they often form tumors that become cancerous. I mean, think about it, what are the main characteristics of the general stem cell AND cancer cells:

1) They proliferate.
2) They differentiate.
3) They migrate.

I'm no geneticist, but I'll leave it at that.

Ugly Aphrodesiac

LOS ANGELES - The hagfish is a bottom feeder so repulsive it had a cameo on TV's "Fear Factor." It slimes its enemies, has rows of teeth on its tongue, and feeds on the innards of rotting fish by penetrating any orifice. But cooked and served on a plate, it is considered an aphrodisiac in South Korea.

And the overseas appetite for the hagfish — also known as the slime eel — is creating a business opportunity for struggling West Coast fishermen confronted with tough restrictions on the catching of salmon and other fish. Read More

Hagfish [wiki], a pseudo-vertebrate creature than can turn a bucket of water into slime in minutes is considered an aphrodisiac? I mean it eats the insides of fish by entering the fish through the gills or anus.

Very odd.

Give Peace a Chance

POLICE have arrested a 60-year-old lawyer wearing a T-shirt saying "Give Peace A Chance".

A judge charged Stephen Downs with trespassing after he politely declined to leave the Crossgates Mall in a suburb of Albany, New York State, on Monday evening, or remove his top, which he had had printed there.

Mr Downs pleaded not guilty and cited his right to free speech. He could face up to a year in prison. His son, Roger, 31, avoided arrest by removing a T-shirt saying "No War With Iraq" on one side and "Let Inspections Work" on the other.

His father's second offending message was: "Peace On Earth." "We weren't talking to people or handing out leaflets," Mr Downs Jr told a local newspaper. "My point was I'm not trying to convert anybody," his father said.

Most Americans support President Bush's war plans, but many Democrat voters oppose them. James Murley, the local police chief, told The Times that his office had been inundated with complaints since the arrest. "We're getting all kinds of e-mails, some of them rather nasty," he said.

Chief Murley said that one of his officers had tried for an hour to persuade Mr Downs to end a stand-off with two security guards who stopped him and his son after a shopper reported a confrontation with passers-by that she thought might turn nasty. But, as one guard pointed out three times in his deposition to police, he did so "in a nice way". The other guard took a tougher line, alleging that the men were "bothering" shoppers by telling them why they opposed the "pending war with Iraq". Chief Murley said that the shopping centre had signs advising customers that the "wearing of apparel likely to provoke disturbances" was banned. Paul A. Clyne, the District Attorney, also said that it was up to the mall to choose its clients.

However, Mr Downs may have an ace up his sleeve when he appears in court on March 17, with no jury. He is the director of the local office of a state commission that investigates complaints against judges and imposes punishments.


Big Toe


"This has to be the most amazing footage i have ever seen... a man with no arms playing a Tom Petty tune on a guitar [Mary Jane's Last Dance], with his feet!!! simply amazing! His name is Mark Goffeney, he deserves huge props coz i think not only he is awesome, but he puts most muso's out there to shame! He has actually bought out an album called 'Big Toe', so go check it out!"

More of Mark's performances
Three Doors Down's Kryptonite
Collective Soul's Shine
Big Toe's We are All the Same

His band's page is here.

15 Greatest Dead Rockstars

15 Greatest Dead Rockstars


Name: Ronnie Van Zant
Band: Lynyrd Skynyrd
Died of: plane crash.
Why he was so great: One of many celebrities, he was one of the few who said they wanted to die before their 30th birthday, and succeeded without having to OD on smack. In fact, he died 3 months short of his birthday. You know why else he's so great? Because a damn lot of people don't realize he's dead. Though many say he and Niel Young were rivals, they were in fact friends, and collaborated on several songs. Oh, and that was such an issue, vandals broke into his tomb to see if he was wearing a Niel Young shirt.


Name: Layne Staley
Band: Alice in Chains
Died of: heroin/cocaine "speedball" Over dose.
Why he's so great: Damn, because he is the man in the box, damn it. Oh, and he died April 5, 2002, the same day as Kurt Cobain, 5 years later. And he's the one guy that could use the excuse "I'm a heroin addict" to get out of a tour. Most bands would be like "well, write some more kick ass songs about it, and release a new album, you fucking pussy."


Name: Cliff Burton
Band: Metallica
Died of: Bus crash. In Germany.
Why he was so great: He started playing bass when he was 14, which means there's still hope for me. He wrote 6 of the 8 tracks on Ride the Lightening. Apparently he didn't live long enough to do any of the crazy shit these other guys did, though.


Name: Sid Vicious
Band: Sex Pistols
Died of: Drug overdose.
Why he was so great: At only 21 years of age, Sex Pistol's bassist was very much addicted to drugs. Oh, and sources say he killed his girlfriend, Nancy, and killed himself to avoid the humiliation of a trial. Though, other sources say, that's bullshit, and he killed himself because of the broken heart she left behind. Oh, and he was using amphetamines by the time he was 9, with his mother, and started self-injuring when he was 10.


Name: Jim Morrison
Band: The Doors
Died of: Unknown
Why he was so great: He originally went to UCLA for theater, but ended up in a rock band. One of the most influential rock bands, at that. He showed up high or drunk to a damn lot of recording sessions, and in "Five to One" he can even be heard hiccuping. Oh, and he never got an autopsy, because he died in France, and if no foul play is suspected, they don't look for a cause of death, apparently.


Name: Jerry Garcia
Band: Grateful Dead
Died of: Heart attack.
Why he was so great: He was missing two-thirds of his right middle finger, due to an accident chopping wood, when he was 4 years old. Oh, and he originally went to school at San Fransisco's Art Institute. Grateful Dead spawned one of the biggest followings of any band of their time-- the Deadheads.


Name: Freddie Mercury
Band: Queen
Died of: Bronchial pneumonia brought on by AIDS.
Why he was so great: He was the first celebrity to die of AIDS, greatly raising awareness about the disease. (Oh, and Bohemian Rhapsody was written 10 years before he was diagnosed. The song isn't about AIDS.) He never received any formal vocal training, yet he could sing across four octaves. Oh, and he wrote 10 out of Queen's 17 chart toppers.


Name: Kurt Cobain
Band: Nirvana
Died of: Gunshot to the head. Homicide/suicide.
Why he was so great: He was friends with a gay in highschool. And claimed he was once arrested for painting "homo sex rules" on a bank, though he's stated "I'm not gay, although, I wish I was, just to piss off the homophobes." He liked to draw fetuses. Oh, and he suffered from a lifelong un-diagnosable stomach ailment, which lead him to an opiate addiction. We don't know, but we all think Courtney killed him.


Name: Dimebag Darrell Abbot
Band: Pantera/Damageplan
Died of: gunshot, during a live performance.
Why he was so great: He recorded a track with Dallas musician, Rodd, called "Country Western Transvestite Whore". He was self-taught, purportedly only taking one guitar lesson, ever. Oh, and he had a tattoo of Ace Freshly on his chest (as well as his signature).


Name: Randy Rhoads
Band: Ozzy Osbourne/Quiet Riot
Died of: plane crash.
Why he was so great: He played for Ozzy, for fuck's sake. He co-wrote "Mr. Crowley" with Ozzy, the only identification the mainstream has with Aliester Crowley. Oh, and he learned to play on a Gibson... when he was 6 years old.


Name: Bradley Nowell
Band: Sublime
Died of: Heroin overdose.
Why he was so great: Head of punk-ska band Sublime, Bradley could do anything stoned. Oh, and he couldn't function without his dog, Louie, a dalmatian which most consider to be the mascot of Sublime.


Name: Wendy O. Williams
Band: The Plasmatics
Died of: self-inflicted gunshot to the head
Why she was so great: Female lead singer of a PUNK band. This chick went on stage nearly nude, and cut shit up with chainsaws. She was arrested numerous times for indecency, and was a walking statement against modern culture. After the Plasmatics, she worked as an animal rehabilitator.


Name: Syd Barret
Band: Pink Floyd
Died of: pancreatic cancer
Why he was so great: He was Pink Floyd. He was an amazing singer, songwriter, and artist. He was a recluse. He just epitomized awesome.


Name: Jimi Hendrix
Band: Jimi Hendrix Experience
Died of: Asphyxiated. On his own vomit.
Why he was so great: He took curlers with him to England, whilst on tour. He was self-taught. And a groupie wrote about him in her confession book. We all doubt its true, but you never know.


Name: Shannon Hoon
Band: Blind Melon
Died of: Accidental cocaine overdose.
Why he was so great: He was an amazing and caring man, as apparent if you listen to any interviews with him whilst he's sober. But the problem is, he wasn't sober often. Between attacking guards, pissing on fans, and wearing his girlfriend's dress on stage, Shannon was one crazy guy. Did I mention, he was inspired by Syd Barret, and grew up on Floyd and LSD?