“Just two weeks in orbit causes changes in eyes” – study

“Animal Enclosure Modules similar to the one shown here, being inspected by Mission Specialist Tracy Caldwell, Ph.D., and Pilot Charles Hobaugh aboard Space Shuttle Endeavor (STS-118), are used to study animals in low gravity conditions. Scientists are reporting mice traveling aboard STS-133 showed evidence of ocular nerve damage and changes in eye gene expression.” -Sciencedaily.com report (Credit: NASA)

Science Daily reports on a mice study showing in quick order, optical damage caused by exposure to outer space conditions.  A second study showed that astronauts suffer similar changes after spending 6 months aboard the space station, according to this report.

Here’s more on that:

Just 13 days in space may be enough to cause profound changes in eye structure and gene expression, report researchers from Houston Methodist, NASA Johnson Space Center, and two other institutions in the October 2013 issue of Gravitational and Space Research.

The study, which looked at how low gravity and radiation and oxidative damage impacts mice, is the first to examine eye-related gene expression and cell behavior after spaceflight.

Reading this made me curious as to how long the astronauts who landed on the moon spent in space.  Was any eye damage reported?  I looked, but so far haven’t found the answer.  If anyone knows, please do leave comment.  The Moon landings were a bit before my time.

Neil Armstrong Credit: NASA Source: Space.com

Science Daily article continues:

“We found many changes in the expression of genes that help cells cope with oxidative stress in the retina, possibly caused by radiation exposure,” said Houston Methodist pathologist Patricia Chévez-Barrios, M.D., the study’s principal investigator. “These changes were partially reversible upon return to Earth. We also saw optic nerve changes consistent with mechanical injury, but these changes did not resolve. And we saw changes in the expression of DNA damage repair genes and in apoptotic pathways, which help the body destroy cells that are irreparably damaged.”

Since 2001, studies have shown astronauts are at increased risk of developing eye problems, like premature age-related macular degeneration. Experts suspect the cause is low gravity, heightened exposure to solar radiation, or a combination of the two.

The author continues, citing further study measuring optical damage sustained by  space station astronauts:

In Nov. 2011, a NASA-sponsored Ophthalmology study of seven astronauts showed that all seven had experienced eye problems after spending at least six months in space. Doctors saw a flattening of the back of the eyeball, folding of the choroid (vascular tissue behind the retina), excess fluid around and presumed swelling of the optic nerve, or some combination of these.

High-energy radiation from the Sun can cause nasty, extremely damaging chemical reactions in cells, collectively called oxidative stress. Earth’s atmosphere reflects or absorbs much of this radiation and is, ironically, a much better shield than the thick metal hulls of space shuttles and the International Space Station.

Damage to eyes isn’t merely a long-term health issue for some astronauts back on Earth — it could interfere with future missions in which any loss of focus or vision makes it difficult for humans to complete long missions, such as round-trip travel to Mars (12 to 16 months) or to the moons of Jupiter (about two years). If both radiation exposure and gravity loss are to blame, one solution to save astronauts’ eyes might be a spacecraft with a more protective hull and inside, a spinning hamster wheel that simulates gravity similar to those envisioned by futurist author Arthur C. Clarke and realized in Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Read the full article, click here.  Remember The Muppet Show’s “Pigs in Space”?


Apparent insanity in the world

Dad and I were discussing the apparent insanity in the world, in people mainly.  The deep sea oarfish rolling up dead along the Pacific coast was what got the conversation started.  But, cows had gotten up in the field that same day and found the clover patch and it seemed synchronistic.  White mama cow eyed me indignantly, as I made my way up the hill.  If I’d had a stoop and a milk pale, perhaps our friendship would have blossomed.

The point that it has taken a while to get around to is one of basic morality.  Do what you will and harm none, especially not the innocent.   This song rings a bell as I contemplate:

“Bless the beast and the children/ For in this world they have no voice/ They have no choice..” – The Carpenters.

Iowa, ‘toilet’ for industrial ag?

Bill Leonard writes about the stains that industrialized agriculture and tax-payer-footed subsidies to a rich few have left on what was once the great farming state of Iowa.  He writes:

Bill Leonard – retired editorial writer for Des Moines Register. Source: Desmoinesregister.com

It’s time for an Iowa reality check.

Led by the factory-farm lobby, we have all but swept the landscape clean of the Iowa your parents knew, sacrificing the heritage that once truly set Iowa apart. The result stinks — figuratively and literally.

“Family farm” once meant a fruitful homestead built on an ethic of hard work, a love of the land, a spirit of neighborliness and a reverence for nature. Today, “family farm” is a hallowed but hollow buzzword of the political spin doctors and is used to give legitimacy to a lie. It’s the benign image masking land-use practices that, as Iowa environmental writer Bob Watson put it, “have made Iowa a toilet for industrial agriculture.”

It didn’t have to happen. But proper conservation is inconvenient to the short-sighted objectives of industrial farming. Gov. Terry Branstad says we must not put teeth in conservation policies lest we hurt the farm family. A subservient Legislature appropriates another few million of your money for another of the endless studies that take the place of action.

At the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s 2013 summer policy conference recently, President Craig Hill said that farmers, “as stewards of the land, [should] take a long, hard look at how we care for two of our most precious resources: soil and water.”

Yes, take a look — and wave it goodbye.

Leonard believes that conservation is important and should be rewarded.  But, he points out that most Iowan farmland is now rented, not owned.  He continues:

Today, 62 percent of Iowa farmland is farmed by renters. Realistically, they are far less likely to have either the financial or the personal investment in the land and its preservation that the true family farmer had. The land’s owner, likely an urban ite, may be three or four generations removed from the ethic — or even the knowledge — of conservation.

Meanwhile, the same taxpayers whose water is polluted, whose air is fouled, whose health may be endangered by misuse of antibiotics in livestock, by ag chemicals and manure, pays billions to perpetuate the system. And the biggest payoffs go to the richest few. Nationwide, the largest 10 percent of subsidy recipients get 72 percent of the money.

Besides crop subsidies, there’s the crop-insurance giveaway, which the Cato Institute, a bastion of conservatism, calls a “long-standing ripoff of American taxpayers.”

That’s because the insurance premiums paid by landowners cover just 30 percent of what they collect. You pay 70 percent.

Iowa is second only to Texasin farming the federal treasury. From 1995 to 2012, taxpayers gave Iowa farm owners $24.9 billion, including $16.4 billion in subsidies, $4 billion in crop insurance, $3.9 billion in conservation subsidies and $646 million in disaster relief.

Ten percent of Iowa farms collected 59 percent of the money. Their average payment was 22 times as much as the average given those in the bottom 80 percent. Within that 80 percent are the 19 percent — the little guys — who got nothing.

But hey, we’re a farm state, that’s our livelihood and that’s what Iowa is all about, right? Consider:

Farm work is the principal job of fewer than 5 percent of Iowa’s work force.

In 2010, less than 6 percent of the total of all goods and services produced by Iowans came from farming. Add the billions brought in by ag-related industries, and the share is still less than one-fourth of the total.

But the politicians run the state as if farming was the end-all and be-all of our existence and as if that almighty 10 percent must be accommodated at all cost. Why?

Ask your legislator, particularly if your legislator supports voluntary conservation. Ask if your legislator was part of the huge majority that brought passage of the incredible, unconscionable ag-gag law, making it a crime to blow the whistle on mistreatment of factory-farm animals.

We’re losing our topsoil, our clean water, our respect for our land, our heritage, our reputation. And maybe our common sense.

There’s a way out of the toilet. It means governing to serve the best interests of all, not the handful whom your taxes have made rich. [Emphasis mine]

Read the full editorial at Des Moines Register, click here.

‘Lord of the Deep’ oarfish sightings

“18-foot oarfish” photo source: CNN.com

A man called DaDa has taken note of two separate deep-sea oarfish washing up dead on the California coast last week.  He writes;

Hm. Japanese lore refers to oarfish as, “lords of the deep.” Their appearance is rather ominous, and is typically associated with catastrophes/earth changes. These animals live at great depth and are very sensitive to their surroundings, typically dying off and showing up on the surface because of seismic activity, or somesuch unusual undersea hoopla. The last oarfish carcasses to appear were off the coast of Japan, pre-earthquake/-tsunami, about 18 months prior.

The one above washed up onshore near Catalina in Southern California on October 16, 2013.

The author advises that Californians update their earthquake kits, as a second oarfish has turned up along the coast.  Report continues with an update on 20th of October:

Another oarfish washed up in SoCal this same week, in Oceanside. Here’s hoping: 1. These fish are being carried in by a weird climate-change current, or; 2. The quake turns out to be a sub-7. Of course, like much of Tokyo and Japan, California is rife with state-of-the-art earthquake technology, and has been retrofitting like crazy in the last ten years or so.

Unfolding Secrets Music Video

Video description from Sounds of Oneness:

Published on 20 Oct 2013

Immerse yourself in the divine feminine energy of this Unfolding Secrets music video. Composer Marco Missinato’s melody and Soprano Vocalist Kristin Hoffmann’s vocals will captivate your heart and draw you into a musical journey through enchanting scenery, beautiful images of sacred geometry and awaken within you a symphony of love, peace, grace, passion, and Oneness with All.


Marco Missianto
Composer & Executive Producer

Kristin Hoffmann
Soprano Vocalist/Co-Composer/Producer of Vocals

Ashley Rogers

Hernán Salcedo
Director of Photography

David Bryen

Silvia Pesántez
Field Producer & Art Director

Emanuele Arnone
Music Orchestrations

Peter Boynton
Sound Engineer

Michel Blanchard
Public Relations

Troy Stallman
Post Production Producer/Art Director

Kurt Cobain 1993 interview, animated – Blank on Blank

Animated short featuring snippets of rare interview with Kurt Cobain.  This Blank on Blank production description reads:

Published on 22 Oct 2013

“I even thought that I was gay. I thought that might be the solution to my problem.” – Kurt Cobain

Interview by Jon Savage
July 22, 1993. Cassette Tape

Hear the full interview @ Rocksbackpages.com

How to make fire from ice

Tim Jones description on you-tube:

How to make Fire by ice from the creek , clear ice is almost as much of a challenge as making an ice lens! It is interesting that ice wants to be clear. When water molecules freeze, they like to form a regular crystal lattice, Put a little black powder in by tender bundle, to see fast flame, you don’t need black powder it will still work, Basic Wilderness survival bushcraft

“Nirvana by Numbers” – by Alex Bellos

“The number 270 from a ninth century inscription in Gwalior, India: evidence that Arabic numerals are actually Indian in origin.” Photograph: Alex Bellos Source: The Guardian

Alex Bellos asks in this editorial for the Guardian, “What role did Eastern religions play in the foundation of our modern number system?

He writes:

What has India given to the world?


The mathematical concept of zero emerged in India about one and a half thousand years ago, and this summer I travelled there to visit a temple where the oldest known zero symbols are written on an inside wall.

Bellos visited a city 5 hours from New Delhi to look upon an ancient rendering of the number zero, which is inscribed on a plaque, dated around 875 A.D..  He continues:

The inscription contains two instances of the symbol zero: in the number ‘270’, referring to a piece of land of size 270 x 187 hastas, where hasta is a unit of length, and in the number “50”, referring to a daily gift of 50 garlands of flowers.

You will definitely recognize the zero – it is a circle, just like the symbol we use today.

In fact, the 2 and the 7 are also similar to our modern ‘Arabic’ numerals. The Gwalior inscription is documentary evidence that Arabic numerals actually originated in India.

The author contends that, “The Indian number system was adopted all over the world because it was superior to all other systems, and this is because of two main reasons: “place value”, and zero.”

Babylon and China also had “place value” number systems, Bellos states:

But India revolutionized numbers by adding the second piece of the jigsaw: the number zero.

Place value systems require a strategy to describe the case when there is nothing in a position. The Babylonians used a marker to represent nothing; the Chinese used a space to represent nothing.

Only the Indians introduced a symbol, 0, and treated it as if it was a normal digit just like all the others from 1 to 9. Invention of the number zero was possibly the greatest conceptual leap in the history ofmathematics.

But why did the Indians make this leap and not China or Babylon?

My trip to India, for a BBC radio documentary, was to investigate why this was the case.

India made another contribution to world culture as well as zero: the idea of nirvana, the transcendent state of “nothingness”, when you are liberated from suffering and desires.

In fact, the word used in philosophical texts to mean nothing, or the void, is “shunya”, the same word later used to mean zero.

For George Gheverghese Joseph, a maths historian at the University of Manchester, the invention of zero happened when an unknown Indian mathematician about two thousand years realized that “this philosophical and cultural concept would also be useful in a mathematical sense.”

To read Bellos article and listen to his BBC radio report, “Nirvana by Numbers,” click here.

2nd International march against Monsanto is today

RT News covers the global protest against genetically modified food producer Monsanto.  Genetically modified food stuffs were quietly introduced to the American public in 1996.  The RT report includes a segment with Jeffrey Smith, who cites animal feeding studies conducted by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.  The studies found an extensive and ghastly list of harmful effects on animals fed genetically modified feed, according to Smith.  He says:

They said there’s gastrointestinal problems, immune system problems, accelerated aging, organ damage, reproductive disorders.  There’s massive infant mortality, multiple, massive tumors, early death.  There are so many things that are going wrong with animals that are being fed GMOs and now we’re seeing those things rising in the U.S. population since GMOs were introduced.

The following is from RT News video description on you-tube:

Published on 11 Oct 2013

Protesters across the globe are preparing to rally against genetically modified food giant Monsanto. Hundreds of cities in over 50 countries are expected to take part in Saturday’s march. The previous international protest last May gathered around 2 million people together. The marches are calling for a permanent boycott of genetically modified foods and harmful chemicals. Monsanto is also blamed for pollutiing the enivronment and trying to improve its reputation by falsifying safety reports. But the company insists it’s playing a key role in feeding the world’s rapidly growing population. But Jeffrey Smith who has written extensively about the dangers of GM foods, begs to differ.