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Chernobyl’s Bugs: The Art And Science Of Life After Nuclear Fallout


...Mutations caused by radionuclides (radioactive isotopes of elements) come in two forms: germline mutations in the DNA of the sperm or egg or mutations in cellular DNA due to exposure that can cause different forms of cancer. The first is passed down to future generations, and the second is typically not. Both types of mutations would likely look like mutations that arise normally in insects—so no glowing grasshoppers or giant flies of science fiction fodder are likely buzzing around Ukraine. Individual mutations probably wouldn’t impede an insect’s survival, but if new mutations accumulate in these bugs overtime, fitness could drop due to natural selection pressure.

For any animal or insect, a drop in fitness could produce negative effects at the ecological community level. Since the mid-1990s, scientists have reported that moose, boar, otter and other animal communities thrive around Chernobyl. But a string of studies since then have suggested that all might not be so idyllic for some species. Barn swallows living in the exclusion area have seen increased rates of albinism and cataracts, as well as decreased reproduction and survival.

“We have a very, very incomplete picture,” says Mousseau, who studies birds and insects around Chernobyl and Fukushima in Japan. In 2009, Mouseau and his colleagues did find lower populations of butterflies, bees, dragonflies and spiders in areas inside the 12-square-mile exclusion zone around Chernobyl compared to those further away. But, he adds, “There’s been very little research done to rigorously assess the impacts of the radioactive contaminants on the insect communities in the area.”

Scientists do know that some species might be less susceptible than others, and perhaps mutant bugs could adapt to such stressful conditions. In a Functional Ecology paper published this week, Mousseau and his colleagues revealed that some bird species living near Chernobyl might be adapting to low-dose radiation levels. As scientists discern Chernobyl’s radioactive legacy, they’re also figuring out how evolution works in a radioactive world.

Desperation Seems to be the Theme of the 21st Century

Topics that have been exhibiting signs of desperation:

1. Climate change. The hysteria is quite frightening, even more than the possibility. Hysterical people do stupid things to other people...cruel, deadly, unnecessary things.

2. Economics. The whole austerity/letting banksters get away with murder are just two sides of the same counterfeit coin. That's not economics, that's plunder.

3. Imperialism. The US is losing it, before TPTB even got good at it. Of course, part of the reason they are losing it is they never TRIED to get good at it...again, they went for the plunder, not the infrastructure...

4. Education. Or rather, the desire to make education unaffordable, unattainable, and unavailable. This is stupidity at the highest level, and I do mean highest.

5. Democracy. We are holding on to the vestiges of our democratic government and daily losing our grip on it to the 1%, as epitomized by the Dancing Supremes, who will end up on lampposts, if there is any Justice left in this world. We will be turning to Venezuela to lead the way back.

I'm sure you can think of other areas of desperation....

6. Monsanto is one desperate company...they are getting the boot from all the new markets, and even their captive markets are fighting bitterly.

7. The EU is one desperate suicide pact. The question is whether it will crack from internal or external realities.

I just thought of another:

8. Fossil fuel energy companies, trying to stop solar yet again...Reagan delayed solar 30 years, but the rest of the world didn't stop. The US is now playing catch-up, but all the manufacturing is in other nations...and the utilities and the Koch-heads are trying yet again to take us back to dirt and deprivation.

Weekend Economists Visit a Woman of a Certain Age, April 25-27, 2014

"A woman of a certain age" is a curious phrase...where did it come from?

According to WILLIAM SAFIRE, in an article in the NYTimes Published: July 2, 1995

HOW OLD IS A woman of a certain age?


Only a Nosy Parker would try to find out. But the expression is becoming androgynous, and the age seems to be creeping upward. Sidney Wade, a woman who lives in Gainesville, Fla., reports that she was complaining to a friend, Debora Greger, about a loss of hair: "My friend remarked that we, as women of a certain age, were prone to a number of peculiar developments. At first I was surprised by her use of the phrase to describe us (we are mildly ripening), remembering it from my more youthful days in France as an insulting kind of polite elocution but one that remains rather wonderful and precise." Then Ms. Wade was stunned to see a headline in The New York Times "3 Explorers of a Certain Age, Scaling Mountains and More" about three men in their 80's. "Reeling, I reported this to Debora, who supposes that the phrase itself seems to have developed a pronounced middle-aged spread. Is this so? I hope not."

  • The phrase, in English, can be cited to 1754: "I could not help wishing," wrote an anonymous essayist in Connoisseur magazine, "that some middle term was invented between Miss and Mrs. to be adopted, at a certain age, by all females not inclined to matrimony." (This was two centuries pre-Ms.)

  • The certain age suggested spinsterhood; the poet Byron in 1817 wrote, "She was not old, nor young, nor at the years/Which certain people call a certain age,/Which yet the most uncertain age appears." Five years later, in a grumpier mood, he returned to the phrase: "A lady of a 'certain age,' which means Certainly aged." Charles Dickens picked it up in "Barnaby Rudge": "A very old house, perhaps as old as it claimed to be, and perhaps older, which will sometimes happen with houses of an uncertain, as with ladies of a certain, age."

  • The Oxford English Dictionary defined that sense of certain as "which it is not polite or necessary further to define." That was the sense meant by William Dean Howells when he wrote of "gentlemen approaching a certain weight." The special sense reverses the literal meaning of the word certain, which is "fixed, definite" (much as "I could care less" means "I could not care less".

  • The phrase was repopularized in a 1979 book by the psychotherapist Lillian B. Rubin, "Women of a Certain Age: The Midlife Search for Self," in which midlife spanned 35 to 54.

  • Reached in San Francisco, Dr. Rubin, whose book indicates she is now in her early 70's, was surprised to learn of the long English history of the phase because "it has a long history in French, where it refers to women of fortyish and thereabouts who are able to initiate boys and young men into the beauties of sexual encounters. The early use in English seems to be about spinsterhood, but the French meaning has nothing to do with marriage." In French, the phrase has erotically or sexually charged overtones. "It comes from a society where sexuality is freer," Dr. Rubin notes, "and more understood as an important part of human life." The phrase in French is femmes d'une certaine age. The term, however, can apply to either sex. Without the certain, the phrase un homme d'un age translates literally as "a man of an age" and is defined in the Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary as "a man of advanced years."

    And now to the point: is that certain age getting older?

    "When I wrote the book in 1979," Dr. Rubin says, "the 'women of a certain age' were in their late 30's and early 40's. I think that has changed with the baby boomers and the lengthening of the life span. I'd say the 'certain age' has now moved to the age of 50 or 55."

    Look at it this way: late 30's or early 40's is no longer that "certain" age; it's moved up a decade. The good news is that 40 is still young, at least linguistically. That's how it seems to a language maven of a certain weight and getting long in the tooth...

  • Well! Now that we've cleared that up....the woman to whom I refer is this one: Helen Carte

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia...

    Helen Carte or Helen Lenoir (12 May 1852 – 5 May 1913) was the second wife of impresario and hotelier Richard D'Oyly Carte. She is best known for her stewardship of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and Savoy Hotel from the end of the 19th Century and into the early 20th century.

    Born in Wigtown, Scotland, Helen attended the University of London from 1871 to 1874 and pursued brief teaching and acting careers. In 1875, she met Richard D'Oyly Carte and soon became his assistant and business manager. She helped produce all of the Gilbert and Sullivan and other Savoy Operas, beginning with The Sorcerer in 1877 and for the rest of her life, and helped Carte with all of his business interests. One of her principal assignments was to superintend arrangements for American productions and tours of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Her grasp of detail and her diplomacy surpassed even Carte's.

    Helen Lenoir married Richard D'Oyly Carte in 1888. During the 1890s, with Carte's health declining, Helen took greater and greater responsibility for the businesses, taking full control upon his death in 1901. She remarried in 1902 but continued to own the opera company and run most of the Carte business interests until her death, when they passed to her stepson, Rupert D'Oyly Carte. Although the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's operations decreased after Richard's death, Helen staged successful repertory seasons in London from 1906 to 1908, establishing that the Gilbert and Sullivan operas could continue to be revived profitably.

    By the time of her death in 1913, the opera company had become a repertory touring company, and W. S. Gilbert had died. Helen hired J. M. Gordon to preserve the company's unique style. In her will, she left the Savoy Theatre, the opera company and the Savoy Hotel to Rupert, and the company continued to operate continuously until 1982.

    The Fur Tippet: Miss Lenoir 1887 The Little Hat

    These are etchings by James Whistler, of Whistler's Mother fame (Whistler claimed the more exotic St. Petersburg, Russia as his birthplace: "I shall be born when and where I want, and I do not choose to be born in Lowell" Massachusetts...I for one cannot blame him for that! I lived there myself for some painful amount of time..but that's for another Weekend)

    Big Box Medicine

    to match Big Box retail, grocery, and education.

    The bigger the box, the smaller the people get....

    The New Economic Events Giving Lie to the Fiction That We Are All Selfish, Rational Materialists


    Jeremy Rifkin's new book, “The Zero Marginal Cost Society,” brings welcome new attention to the commons just as it begins to explode in countless new directions. His book focuses on one of the most significant vectors of commons-based innovation — the Internet and digital technologies — and documents how the incremental costs of nearly everything is rapidly diminishing, often to zero. Rifkin explored the sweeping implications of this trend in an excerpt from his book and points to the "eclipse of capitalism" in the decades ahead.

    But it's worth noting that the commons is not just an Internet phenomenon or a matter of economics. The commons lies at the heart of a major cultural and social shift now underway. People's attitudes about corporate property rights and neoliberal capitalism are changing as cooperative endeavors — on digital networks and elsewhere — become more feasible and attractive. This can be seen in the proliferation of hackerspaces and Fablabs, in the growth of alternative currencies, in many land trusts and cooperatives and in seed-sharing collectives and countless natural resource commons.

    Beneath the radar screen of mainstream politics, which remains largely clueless about such cultural trends on the edge, a new breed of commoners is building the vision of a very different kind of society, project by project. This new universe of social activity is being built on the foundation of a very different ethics and social logic than that of homo economicus — the economist's fiction that we are all selfish, utility-maximizing, rational materialists.

    Durable projects based on social cooperation are producing enormous amounts of wealth; it's just that this wealth is not generally not monetized or traded. It's socially or ecologically embedded wealth that is managed by self-styled commoners themselves. Typically, such commoners act more as stewards of their common wealth than as owners who treat it as private capital. Commoners realize that a life defined by impersonal transactions is not as rich or satisfying as one defined by abiding relationships. The larger trends toward zero-marginal-cost production make it perfectly logical for people to seek out commons-based alternatives. ...MORE

    Don't Leave Bitcoin to the Libertarians! Why the Progressive Movement Needs Open Source Money


    Among activists one often finds an aversion to even thinking about money. Associating it with the opponent — who has lots of it — they try to do without money themselves. Often, for as long as they can, they try to organize and resist without it, until burning out, quitting and getting into a different line of work just to keep up on rent. But, as the 19th-century U.S. populist movement recognized, money is also a battleground. Today, as a new wave of sophisticated digital currencies are beginning to arise, this is perhaps more true than ever before.

    Bitcoin (the open-source software and peer-to-peer network) and bitcoin (the currency) first appeared in early 2009 — just after the housing bubble burst. It was heavily promoted by a tech-savvy, anti-establishment, libertarian community concerned with the power of big banks and government regulation. Critics have dismissed Bitcoin as being “ by the privileged, for the privileged,” while defenders have claimed with an equal lack of subtlety that it is somehow “ post-privilege” altogether. Regardless of the label, however, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency platforms like it aren’t going away, and they are poised to become increasingly disruptive.

    To understand why, I turned to Devin Balkind, founder and director of Sarapis, which promotes the use of free/libre/open-source software among non-profits and popular movements. He has recently written (and is continuing to write) a public working paper on cryptocurrency, “ Finance Without Force.” Last year, we spoke about the role of open-source tools in the Occupy Sandy relief effort, in which he played a leading role. Before that, he had the distinction of being the first person to tell me about cryptocurrency in the first place, insisting that this was something I should be paying attention to. It has taken a while, but I am finally coming back to him for more.

    What do social justice activists need to know about crypocurrency?

    Cryptocurrency is open-source money. It lowers the cost of producing a means of exchange — a money system — down to almost zero. That means it’s easier than ever to organize alternative monetary systems. Some activists know about time-banking and mutual credit systems. Cryptocurrency makes it possible for people to turn the hours or credits from systems like that into money that can easily be sent around the world or spent at a local store. It completely changes what’s possible from the perspective of solidarity economics...


    Is Putin Being Lured Into a Trap? By Mike Whitney



    “Russia … is now recognized as the center of the global ‘mutiny’ against global dictatorship of the US and EU. Its generally peaceful .. approach is in direct contrast to brutal and destabilizing methods used by the US and EU…. The world is waking up to reality that there actually is, suddenly, some strong and determined resistance to Western imperialism. After decades of darkness, hope is emerging.” – Andre Vltchek, Ukraine: Lies and Realities, CounterPunch

    Russia is not responsible for the crisis in Ukraine. The US State Department engineered the fascist-backed coup that toppled Ukraine’s democratically-elected president Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with the American puppet Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a former banker. Hacked phone calls reveal the critical role that Washington played in orchestrating the putsch and selecting the coup’s leaders. Moscow was not involved in any of these activities. Vladimir Putin, whatever one may think of him, has not done anything to fuel the violence and chaos that has spread across the country.

    Putin’s main interest in Ukraine is commercial. 66 percent of the natural gas that Russia exports to the EU transits Ukraine. The money that Russia makes from gas sales helps to strengthen the Russian economy and raise standards of living. It also helps to make Russian oligarchs richer, the same as it does in the West. The people in Europe like the arrangement because they are able to heat their homes and businesses market-based prices. In other words, it is a good deal for both parties, buyer and seller. This is how the free market is supposed to work. The reason it doesn’t work that way presently is because the United States threw a spanner in the gears when it deposed Yanukovych. Now no one knows when things will return to normal.

    Check out this chart at Business Insider and you’ll see why Ukraine matters to Russia:


    The overriding goal of US policy in Ukraine is to stop the further economic integration of Asia and Europe. That’s what the fracas is really all about. The United States wants to control the flow of energy from East to West, it wants to establish a de facto tollbooth between the continents, it wants to ensure that those deals are transacted in US dollars and recycled into US Treasuries, and it wants to situate itself between the two most prosperous markets of the next century. Anyone who has even the sketchiest knowledge of US foreign policy– particularly as it relates to Washington’s “pivot to Asia”– knows this is so. The US is determined to play a dominant role in Eurasia in the years ahead. Wreaking havoc in Ukraine is a central part of that plan.

    Retired German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jochen Scholz summed up US policy in an open letter which appeared on the Neue Rheinilche Zeitung news-site last week. Scholz said the Washington’s objective was “to deny Ukraine a role as a bridge between Eurasian Union and European Union….They want to bring Ukraine under the NATO control” and sabotage the prospects for “a common economic zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok.” Bingo. That’s US policy in a nutshell. It has nothing to do with democracy, sovereignty, or human rights. It’s about money and power. Who are the big players going to be in the world’s biggest growth center, that’s all that matters. Unfortunately for Obama and Co., the US has fallen behind Russia in acquiring the essential resources and pipeline infrastructure to succeed in such a competition. They’ve been beaten by Putin and Gazprom at every turn. While Putin has strengthened diplomatic and economic relations, expanded vital pipeline corridors and transit lines, and hurtled the many obstacles laid out for him by American-stooges in the EC; the US has dragged itself from one quagmire to the next laying entire countries to waste while achieving none of its economic objectives. So now the US has jettisoned its business strategy altogether and moved on to Plan B, regime change. Washington couldn’t beat Putin in a fair fight, so now they’ve taken off the gloves. Isn’t that what’s really going on? Isn’t that why the US NGOs, and the Intel agencies, and the State Dept were deployed to launch their sloppily-engineered Nazi-coup that’s left the country in chaos?

    Once again, Putin played no part in any of this. All he did was honor the will of the people in Crimea who voted overwhelmingly (97%) to reunite with the Russian Federation. From a purely pragmatic point of view, what other choice did they have? After all, who in their right mind would want to align themselves with the most economically mismanaged confederation of all time (The EU) while facing the real possibility that their nation could be reduced to Iraq-type rubble and destitution in a matter of years? Who wouldn’t opt-out of such an arrangement?


    If Senator Warren ISN'T Running for President

    She's giving away the best material for nothing. Hillary won't pick this up, she can't even fathom what Elizabeth is talking about. The male politicos, insulated from middle-class reality, won't get it, either.

    And the nearly psychotic-with-worry-and-mis-information lower classes will turn to the raging fundies, every single time, if there's no Democrat talking this talk.

    Weekend Economists Pull the Easter Rabbit Out of the Hat April 18-20, 2014



    How Christianity Was Created by Jesus's Enemies



    This is the first work to apply to the interpretation of classical documents the methodology which courts of law in a democracy apply when reconstructing a sequence of events on the basis of documentary evidence referring to them. Among the principles employed here, which haven't previously been used by historians, are:

    (1) For any alleged historical reconstruction, cite only the best (the most reliable) evidence (and exclude the rest under the best-evidence rule);

    (2) Things that a cited document necessarily implies, rather than explicitly asserts, have higher evidentiary value (credibility) than any explicit assertions; and,

    (3) Each explicit assertion cited in evidence must be questioned not just as to its accuracy, but also as to its honesty-of-intent. These three principles have never been applied to the documents concerning earliest Christianity. Applying them produces a radically new understanding of how Christianity began.


    This first-ever legal/forensic exegesis of Paul's letter to the Galatians, and associated legal/forensic analysis of the four canonical Gospels, finds that Christianity started in or around the year 49 CE in Antioch (present-day Antakya, Turkey) as a direct consequence of a personal conflict which had arisen, during the prior 14 years, between Paul and the leader of this (at that time) Jewish sect, which Jesus had begun prior to his crucifixion at around the year 30 by the Romans for sedition.

    The sect's leader was not Peter, such as Paul's followers who wrote the Gospels said, but was instead Jesus's brother James. Peter was and remained a follower of James, and he died (as did the rest of the sect) as a member of this Jewish sect, not as a Christian -- not as a member of the group which Paul started on this occasion. Jesus's sect soon itself expired.

    What's known today as Christianity started with Paul, and was then developed by his followers, who wrote the canonical Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. The religion of the New Testament actually has nothing to do with the person of the historical Jesus: The NT was written and assembled to fulfill Paul's Roman agenda, not Jesus's Jewish one. This is shown to explain the entire Christian myth.

    The conflict between Paul and James has to do with the circumcision-commandment, Genesis 17:14, which is Judaism's signature-commandment, by which a person signs God's contract in blood and becomes eligible to be a member of God's People.

    Paul doesn't want to enforce it, because neither anesthesia nor antibiotics yet exist in this ancient era, and so any medical operation is an excruciating horror for these adult men, and frightening also because all operations have a high fatality rate from infections. James knows that if Genesis 17:14 is to be enforced upon Paul's men, then most of them will simply abandon Jesus's sect and will abandon Judaism altogether.

    But finally in the year 49 or 50, right after the council in Jerusalem (which Paul refers to in Galatians 2:1-10), James does try to enforce it, and Paul calls James's bluff and refuses to comply. This is the moment when Paul first announces Christianity: the occasion Paul describes approximately four years later in Galatians 2:16-21.

    The event that created Christianity is referred to in carefully veiled language in Galatians 2:11-21: James here changes his mind and decides that Genesis 17:14 will have to be enforced after all, and he sends Peter to Paul in Antioch to order him to have all his men circumcised. James also sends a back-up team to check up on Peter (who is very reluctant to do this), and to make sure that Peter does what he is told.

    But when the back-up team arrives and sees Peter instead dining with Paul's uncircumcised men, Peter is startled and embarrassed to be seen dining with these non-members, and so he backs away from the table. At this moment, Paul responds to Peter by announcing, for the first time ever, Christianity, which is the doctrine that Paul states in Galatians 2:16-21.

    Although Paul says that he's rejecting the circumcision-commandment because he rejects the entire covenant, he is actually rejecting the entire covenant because he rejects the circumcision-commandment. This is the only way Paul can keep his men with him; he simply can't admit to them that they are not Jews. So, from now on, he needs to be very careful about how he words things. Only gradually do his men come to recognize that they aren't Jews. Paul prepares them for this by telling them how horrible strict Jews are, such as he does in Galatians 1:13-14, 1 Thessalonians 2:3-16, and Philippians 3:2-8.

    James is now trapped by circumstances: If he publicly announces that Paul's men are no longer members of Jesus's sect, then James will lose the vast majority of his sect's members, since Paul had converted them.

    Furthermore, Paul's followers are Gentiles in a Gentile world ruled by Gentile Rome, during the time when Rome is at war against the Jews in Jerusalem. Jerusalem's Jews are a poor and defeated people. James is relying on the financial contributions coming in from Paul's many Gentile congregations, to support the Jesus sect. James therefore needs to remain silent about Paul's coup d'etat.

    The "Jesus" who is described in the Gospel-accounts is written later, by Paul's followers, not by James's, and is written so as to add narrative flesh to the bones of Paul's agenda -- the agenda exposed in Galatians and in the other six authentic letters from Paul -- the earliest-written of all Christian documents...



    To subdue the land that brought democracy to humanity would be a coup, indeed

    I don't think they will succeed, because the laws of physics will see that unsustainable enterprises wither from lack of cheap resources.

    But that doesn't mean they will stop destroying everything in their opposition, not until that opposition overwhelms them, after the cost of generations of suffering.
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