Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Still “No Joy” — On Hubble Reboot…
June 18, 2021

Per a Friday afternoon update from Goddard, it seems Hubble has yet to switch over to the backup main computer onboard.

As I write this, more data on the source of the memory board problem is being analyzed — but the space telescope will likely remain in safe mode to Monday, now — minimum.

. . .NASA continues to work on resolving an issue with the payload computer on the Hubble Space Telescope. The operations team will be running tests and collecting more information on the system to further isolate the problem. The science instruments will remain in a safe mode state until the issue is resolved. The telescope itself and science instruments remain in good health.

The computer halted on Sunday, June 13. An attempt to restart the computer failed on Monday, June 14. Initial indications pointed to a degrading computer memory module as the source of the computer halt. When the operations team attempted to switch to a back-up memory module, however, the command to initiate the backup module failed to complete. Another attempt was conducted on both modules Thursday evening to obtain more diagnostic information while again trying to bring those memory modules online. However, those attempts were not successful. . . .

Yikes. . . let’s keep a watchful eye on this fine — if aging — piece of space hardware.

Onward, keeping a good thought here.


“Congress Does Not Hide Elephants In Mouseholes” Edition: Texas Slapped Down, 7-2, By Supremes… ACA Of 2010 Continues To Be Lawful.
June 17, 2021

We said so in November 2020, and December of that year, as the Supremes offered very skeptical questions — on Texas’s preposterous claim that six words in a 2,400 page statute on taxation (relating to when the government need NOT collect a tax). . . invalidated the whole of Obamacare.

Silly. But we are done with the insolent moron AG Paxson, down there, and the bumbling Governor Abbott, once more. And the Supremes did so by simply saying they lack. . . standing. [Just as Texas. . . lacked standing a month ago, in the case now dead, before young USDC Judge Tipton — on the “dead hand” Texas immigration efforts. It just never made it out of that judge’s low courtroom before dying.] Here’s the morning’s most majestic opinion, and a bit:

. . .We proceed no further than standing. The Constitution gives federal courts the power to adjudicate only genuine “Cases” and “Controversies.” Art. III, §2. That power includes the requirement that litigants have standing. A plaintiff has standing only if he can “allege personal injury fairly traceable to the defendant’s allegedly unlawful conduct and likely to be redressed by the requested relief.” DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno, 547 U. S. 332, 342 (2006). . . . Neither the individual nor the state plaintiffs have shown that the injury they will suffer or have suffered is “fairly traceable” to the “allegedly unlawful conduct” of which they complain. . . .

The Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U. S. C. §2201, alone does not provide a court with jurisdiction. See Skelly Oil Co. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 339 U. S. 667, 671–672 (1950); R. Fallon, J. Manning, D. Meltzer, & D. Shapiro, Hart and Wechsler’s The Federal Courts and the Federal System 841 (7th ed. 2015) (that Act does “not confe[r] jurisdiction over declaratory actions when the underlying dispute could not otherwise be heard in federal court”); see also Poe v. Ullman, 367 U. S. 497, 506 (1961) (“[T]he declaratory judgment device does not . . . permit litigants to invoke the power of this Court to obtain constitutional rulings in advance of necessity”). . . .

Instead, just like suits for every other type of remedy, declaratory judgment actions must satisfy Article III’s case-or-controversy requirement. See MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 549 U. S. 118, 126–127 (2007). At a minimum, this means that the dispute must “be ‘real and substantial’ and ‘admit of specific relief through a decree of a conclusive character, as distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of facts.’ ” Id., at 127 (alteration omitted). Thus, to satisfy Article III standing, we must look elsewhere to find a remedy that will redress the individual plaintiffs’ injuries. . . .

Onward, grinning — no elephants to be found in these mouseholes.


UPDATE: An Esteemed MD Has Called The Biogen Approval We Mentioned This Week “The Worst He’s Seen” — So, He Resigned.
June 11, 2021

And now a total of three FDA Advisory Panel members have resigned in protest over the approval which ignored the nearly unanimous medical panel’s advice, according to the New York Times.

I may have to write more — again, here over a decade later — on these rather appalling so-called “accelerated” approvals at the Commission level — ones that do not require any actual proof of clinical benefit, just post market studies (to gauge whether there is any).

That is precisely the story of Vytorin®, as well.

Onward — be excellent to one another.


Prof. Parker’s Speed Merchant Flies Onward: With Eighth Solar Lap A Complete Success!
May 3, 2021

It must be said — speed, more than almost any other attribute / quality — is to be admired. On the tartan, in the 220 or 440; on the hardcourt — exploding into the middle of the lane. . . in whippy smart repärteé. . . or, out in vast inky space. . . in this case, to avoid overheating one’s fairly fragile electronics, as one dips very near a vastly-glowing white-hot coal. She is moving at about a third of a million miles an hour — the fastest human made craft, in all of history.

NASA’s Johns Hopkins Lab has done it again — now for an eighth time — in a virtual blur. Here’s the latest, on Prof. Parker’s blazingly fast lil’ ship — humming around the front side, again:

. . .On May 2, 2021, at 3:00 a.m. EDT, mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, in Laurel, Maryland, received a “tone one” beacon from Parker Solar Probe, indicating that all systems were healthy and operating normally after the spacecraft’s eighth close approach to the Sun on April 29.

During this close pass by the Sun — called perihelion — Parker Solar Probe broke its own records for spacecraft distance from the Sun and speed, coming to within about 6.5 million miles (10.4 million kilometers) of the Sun’s surface, while moving faster than 330,000 miles per hour (532,000 kilometers per hour).

Science data collection for this solar encounter continues through May 4. . . .

Blaze on, you speed merchant! Grinning, now — be excellent to one another. . . .


I’m Suddenly Feeling Ancient Egyptian Iconography…
April 4, 2021

And, we may revamp all the graphics, to reflect it.

But we will begin (apropos of this morning). . . with the iconography for. . . new life.

It appears at right, and in the new masthead.

Onward, and be excellent to one another. . . smile.


He Died… An Irishman / EU Citizen: John le Carré, Ancestors [Like Mine], From County Cork…
April 1, 2021

This is. . . new. And gratifying, if I do say so myself. [And I. . . do.]

Though he died last December at the age of 89, his son recently revealed to The Guardian (UK) that he so vehemently opposed Brexit, and all things Boris. . . he quietly renounced his UK citizenship in the last year of his long and fruitful life, to become a right and proper Irish gentleman, once more. Obviously, this means he also died as a citizen of an EU member country.

The Cork archivist welcomed him fondly, as he did me about 12 years ago. . . as I searched, on, and on — through paper baptismal records, then — and later, into the pews themselves, in the parishes where my people long ago knelt, attending Mass.

In this moment, I am very proud of this man — though I never really knew much of him beyond his novels.

And his people are my people, both of us with Cork DNA, verified now — as science marches on — by 23AndMe, definitively — certainly (for mine, in Cork) from about 1620 through 1850, minimum. Mine came to Ellis Island during the Potato Famine; his then apparently migrated on, to. . . Cornwall, and later London — then back to Cornwall. But as I’ve long held. . . and he clearly believed. . . Brexit was an awful idea. Here’s the bit, from The Guardian story:

. . .John le Carré, the great embodiment and chronicler of Englishness, saved his greatest twist not for his thrillers but the twilight of his own life: he died an Irishman.

The creator of the quintessential English spy George Smiley was so opposed to Brexit that in order to remain European, and to reflect his heritage, he took Irish citizenship before his death last December aged 89, his son has revealed.

He was, by the time he died, an Irish citizen,” Nicholas Cornwell, who writes as Nick Harkaway, says in a BBC Radio 4 documentary due to air on Saturday.

“On his last birthday I gave him an Irish flag, and so one of the last photographs I have of him is him sitting wrapped in an Irish flag, grinning his head off. . . .”

Just as I am, now — with green eyes crinkling at the corners. . . and twinkling too — sleep like little round river rocks, one and all. . . .


One Final Imaging Pass Over Bennu — Then Homeward Bound, Is OSIRIS-REx…
April 1, 2021

After these last three dimensional imaging orbits — on May 10, 2021 — the graceful lil’ craft will fire her engines, and head back home, toward Earth. But that will be a two year return flight, so we will need to be patient — to see what wonders are in the samples she brings back from the surface and sub-surface of Bennu.

Here’s the latest from NASA this afternoon, and a bit:

. . .The OSIRIS-REx team decided to add this last flyover after Bennu’s surface was significantly disturbed by the sample collection event. During touchdown, the spacecraft’s sampling head sunk 1.6 feet (48.8 centimeters) into the asteroid’s surface and simultaneously fired a pressurized charge of nitrogen gas. The spacecraft’s thrusters also mobilized a substantial amount of surface material during the back-away burn. Because Bennu’s gravity is so weak, these various forces from the spacecraft had a dramatic effect on the sample site — launching many of the region’s rocks and a lot of dust in the process. This final flyby of Bennu will provide the mission team an opportunity to learn how the spacecraft’s contact with Bennu’s surface altered the sample site and the region surrounding it.

The single flyby will mimic one of the observation sequences conducted during the mission’s Detailed Survey phase in 2019. OSIRIS-REx will image Bennu for 5.9 hours, which is just over a full rotation period of the asteroid. Within this timeframe, the spacecraft’s PolyCam imager will obtain high-resolution images of Bennu’s northern and southern hemispheres and its equatorial region. The team will then compare these new images with the previous high-resolution imagery of the asteroid obtained during 2019. . . .

After the Bennu flyby, it will take several days for the data from the flyover to be downlinked to Earth. Once the data are downlinked. . . spacecraft will remain in asteroid Bennu’s vicinity until May 10, when the mission will enter its Return Cruise phase and begin its two-year journey back to Earth. . . .

Normally, we would switch the mastheads to reflect Easter weekend. Not so this year, as other more mortal matters have taken the forefront, in our thoughts. . . so, we will simply say, if you are a believer — do have a peaceful and contemplative Good Friday tomorrow, and a joyous Easter on Sunday. Whether you believe or not, do try to be excellent to one another — for I now believe we are all we’ve got. . . smile.


Proving That Unbridled Greed Isn’t Needed — To Succeed, In REAL Life Sciences Efforts…
March 29, 2021

We are grinning, ear to ear, here. Kudos, to the reborn Humanigen executive and science team! Up over 90% on the NASDAQ this morning! Woot!

The back-story, then: When, in December 2016 — after Martin Shkreli manipulated the old KaloBios stock, wildly — and he was arrested, this company was forced into a nearly immediate bankruptcy reorganization (December 31, 2016). It ultimately changed its name (September 2018), attracted a new and highly-capable executive team, secured debtor in possession financing, and switched its focus to new and novel therapeutic programs, as opposed to the orphan disease price-gouging ideas Martin had suggested — but never executed (due to his arrest and convictions).

Now that far more noble effort has paid off — big time.

Of course, these are top line results, but given an n of over 500 patients, the results are pretty much conclusive: Lenz- helps severely ill COVID-19 patients avoid ventilators, and recover more quickly, and completely. There was a 54% reduced risk of having to be put on a ventilator, if Lenz- was used as a therapeutic against the so-called “cytokine storm”.

So the NASDAQ specialist firms have the reborn company trading completely through the roof this morning, up over 96 45 per cent from Friday’s close.

Congrats, Dr. Durrant and team — you’ve proven that unbridled greed is not the only way to approach life science. And the Universe has rewarded that morality, very handsomely. This team was patient, stayed focused, didn’t overspend — kept several candidates progressing apace, all by not unduly seeking immediate cash salaries and bonuses. Kudos!

I will also cross post this on the Martin blog, and the now-archived KaloBios / Humanigen blog.

I am grinning ear to ear, as well — because I’ve beaten Mr. Obama’s brackets by a minimum of three games, and he can only win one more game that I won’t win, as well. Still, Sister Jean and the boys from Loyola are out… but well-played, Mr. President — well played!


Outstanding Find, By Our Erstwhile, Long Term Commenter, Here… Helping The Children In Need — 100% Unlike Tangerine
March 29, 2021

This will, I hope — be reported upon shortly, far and wide, by the MSM (though I do understand that if for example, half of the career CDC or HHS staffers were to take this offer. . . we’d see a terrible government-wide “Suez Canal problem“). . . it is still. . . just such good news!

Mr. Biden is proving himself the polar opposite of Baby-T in literally dozens of ways, but this may be among the most important. Thanks go out to our commenter, overnight:

. . .I don’t see it posted in the mainstream media but, by Executive Order, the administration has requested all HHS employees to consider volunteering / assisting in oversight / care of these children.

Employees will be covered by their agencies if they sign up. Need supervisor approval.

Another positive step ~~ IMHO. . . .

What’s not to like, you fine federal career staffers — about moving to LA or San Diego, for a few weeks, this Spring (with your employer’s full support)?

But speaking in a little more acidic fashion, I saw a Twitter thread that proposed renaming that Suez Canal debacle barge. . . the USS Mitch McConnell, given how completely it had previously blocked up all forms of progress. Even so, it is now moving, so even that is becoming good (or at least better) news! Onward.


Already, As Most Of America Is Being Vaccinated — Pfizer Is Thinking About, And Planning, The NEXT mRNA Candidate…
March 29, 2021

The ground is shifting, in mRNA land. In truth this happens with every wild bio-science success. The same happened in immuno oncology, about seven years ago — and in the “next gen” drugs for Hep C (essentially, “cures”), about nine years ago. The major multinationals always come in, and come in heavy, once the concept is proven to apply to more than one high burden disease arena [here, both Ebola and COVID-19].

Pfizer’s CEO Boura has made it fairly plain. He will indeed pursue additional, future applications of the mRNA approach (in viruses, as well as other immuno-involved / biological disorders), on his own — with Pfizer’s perhaps $40 billion of available capital, at his disposal. This will make future new revenue streams, beyond COVID-19, harder to come by, in size — for more modest outfits, like Moderna. It simply won’t have the balance sheet to “go big, and go fast” in multiple diseases, all at once.

But Merck will — and it too has a long legacy in vaccines. In fact, it is contract manufacturing for JNJ right now, on COVID-19. So, Pfizer won’t likely have the entire playing field to itself, in any event. Here is the latest, from Motley Fool:

. . .While Pfizer’s entry into the mRNA arena is disastrous news for clinical-stage companies developing mRNA-based drugs, BioNTech and Moderna will get plenty of chances to expand their horizons. In 2021, Pfizer expects COVID-19 vaccine revenue to reach about $15 billion based on existing contracts. BioNTech is entitled to half the profits the vaccine generates.

This year Moderna expects $18.4 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales. The amount expected to reach the company’s bottom line this year isn’t quite clear, but it will be enough to race forward with a potential new vaccine for cytomegalovirus (CMV) currently in late-stage clinical trials. . . .

There will be plenty of revenue for all, to be certain, on this go ’round, but the future of mRNA is likely to belong to the Pfizers and Mercks of the world. Once the basic approach is understood (as now), additional disease states are mostly a resource allocation question. And Merck and Pfizer have nearly limitless resources, and home grown talent and facilities — to pursue the known, or as yet unknown. . . disease

It will be fascinating to watch — as we may be on the cusp of a new revolution in therapeutic approaches to many many high burden disease states.