Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Good — If Tentative — News, On Hubble: Multi-Day Ground Test Success. Now To Restore The Payload Computer, In Orbit…
July 8, 2021

Goddard put the below update out, overnight.

It is very encouraging. And all the (ground replicated simulator) “re-wiring” was completed via radioed software commands. Amazing. Now, to do the same — as Hubble orbits in space:

. . .NASA successfully completed a test of procedures that would be used to switch to backup hardware on Hubble in response to the payload computer problem. This switch could occur next week after further preparations and reviews. . . .

We now see a more encouraging path forward — to restarting imaging / space science operations in a couple of weeks, then. Sweet. Grinning. . . .


It Seems Unlikely That Enceladus’ Methane Is From Any Process OTHER Than… Biology. Cool!
July 7, 2021

As we documented in real time, a few years back — on one of its sweeps past the moon Enceladus, Cassini detected methane jets shooting from cracks in the thick surface at the poles. . . along with water vapor, of course. It was then thought that either a geo-chemical (non-life) process might be at work, in its sub-surface liquid water oceans, or less-probably, a biological one.

After careful analysis, using high end statistical methods, new research concludes that unless there is some new process we do not understand at work there, the amount of methane is far too great to be a geological by-product. No, it now seems the most likely explanation, to fit the data as observed. . . is a biological one.

That is. . . it may be a trace signature — of microbial life, under those warm ocean-beds.

Here’s that new Bayesian analysis / study — and a bit:

. . .In particular, the amount of methane in the plumes caught astrobiologists’ attention — it seemed peculiarly high. Even so, it remained possible that known geochemical (that is, non-biological) processes could be responsible for the abundance.

That’s no longer the case. Scientists have determined that no known process can be pumping out the amount of methane observed spewing from Enceladus. That means it could only be an unknown process — or it could be biological in origin.

“We wanted to know: Could Earthlike microbes that ‘eat’ the dihydrogen and produce methane explain the surprisingly large amount of methane detected by Cassini?” said biologist Regis Ferriere of the University of Arizona. . . .

Enceladus is a fascinating place. It’s far from the Sun, and armored by a thick shell of ice. However, swirling below that ice is a vast global ocean, one that may have currents and the necessary ingredients for life. . . .

The work was painstaking, taking into account the temperature of the seafloor and hydrothermal vents, and the effect a population of these microbes would have on their environment. In the end, the team found that the observed abundance of methane was too high to be the result of known geochemical processes. That means there could be microbes down there, in the dark depths of Enceladus’ ocean
. . . .

Now we will grin, ear to ear, all evening — as the main theme from The Lone Ranger plays into the warm park air.

“. . .Voices soft, and deep, and serious. . .

Words that whispered, songs that haunted
. . . .”

That’s. . . Longfellow, too — smiling.


An Unexpected Bolus Of Black Holes, In The Halo Of The Milky Way…
July 6, 2021

So, it is very nearby — if we are speaking in truly-cosmic distances, that is.

And it is described as a very fluffy region of star population. Do go read it all, here — and watch the video simulation below:

. . .Palomar 5 is a unique star cluster. This is firstly because it is one of the “fluffiest” clusters in the halo of our Galaxy, with the average distance between the stars being a few light-years, comparable to the distance from the Sun to the nearest star. Secondly, it has a specular stellar stream associated with it that spans more than 20 degrees across the sky. In a paper published on July 5, 2021, in Nature Astronomy, an international team of astronomers and astrophysicists led by the University of Barcelona show that both distinguishing features of Palomar 5 are likely the result of an oversized black hole population of more than 100 black holes in the center of the cluster.

Palomar 5 is a globular cluster discovered in 1950 by Walter Baade. It is in the Serpens constellation at a distance of about 65,000 light-years, and it is one of the roughly 150 globular clusters that orbit around the Milky Way. It is older than 10 billion years, like most other globular clusters, meaning that it formed in the earliest phases of galaxy formation. It is about 10 times less massive and 5 times more extended than a typical globular cluster and in the final stages of dissolution. . . .

Onward — grinning. . . put in mind of a time past. . . just eight years ago, and a re-emergence, from black hole, of sorts.


Tangerine Adviser Jason Miller Launches A Grammar Free Twitter Knockoff — On T-Org. Indictment Day.
July 1, 2021

These guys are just completely. . . inept. And truly lost, in their myopia.

And, apparently, in their inability to master. . . fifth grade level English grammar.

Here is Deadline on the ill-starred attempt:

. . .The app’s grammatically challenged description in the App Store reads, “GETTR is a non-bias (sic) social network for people all over the world. GETTR tried the best to provide best (sic) software quality to the users, allow anyone to express their opinion freely. . . .”

It also touts a “quick sign up process,” which apparently only requires an email address. That’s a breach of safety protocol on many social media platforms, which require more verification these days to eliminate bots and trolls. . . .

Onward — grinning, at the sheer lunacy of it all.


Supremes Deny Emergency Relief To Landlords — They Were Seeking To End Moratorium On Evictions During Pandemic…
June 29, 2021

The CDC guidelines, as well as the federal rule preventing evictions through July 31, will thus remain in full force and effect. The Alabama realtors. . . lose.

Justice Kavanaugh voted with the five that upheld the CDC’s right to so act, but essentially wrote a dissenting opinion, saying the CDC had exceeded its Congressional grant of authority. But he voted to keep the moratorium, for “orderly payment of rental assistance”, essentially to make it more convenient to provide. . . help.

This guy. . . geez (don’t get me wrong — I like the result; it is just — but his makes no sense), who may say which way the wind will blow Kavanaugh next? Either the CDC has the power to rein in evictions which would likely increase the spread of the pandemic, or it does not. [It plainly does.]

But perhaps afraid of a hard right backlash, he writes to say that he’s making a “humanitarian” decision. Poppycock. He knows the law gives CDC very broad — nearly plenary — powers, in a pandemic. Here’s Kavanaugh’s bit:

. . .Because the CDC plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks, on July 31, and because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds, I vote at this time to deny the application to vacate the District Court’s stay of its order. . .

These are strange times indeed — but this matters greatly to several of my pro bono clients, so I note it for the record. . . grinning, in spite of myself.


A Return To Old Power Alley Topics: Organon / Nexplanon® “Implanted Contraceptive Matchsticks” Patents Edition…
June 28, 2021

We covered some Nexplanon® patent spats last. . . almost exactly seven years ago (after a June-end 2014 sushi luncheon suggestion, by a then loyal reader!). Since then of course, Merck has once again made Organon a separate public company traded under the symbol “OGN” on the NYSE — by a 2021 spinoff.

On Friday, some recently-filed patent litigation (in New Jersey federal district court) was dismissed by agreement, with leave to refile — if the would-be settled terms fall through. But it seems the parties have agreed to a settlement, here — one that likely does not involve Organon paying anything to Microspherix. That is so because as the declaratory judgment complaint lays out. . . the Kaplan patents really have nothing to do with birth control, and in any event, Organon invented its device long before Dr. Kaplan even claimed to think of the idea of direct implanted cancer fighting radioactive pellets. Here’s that bit, for posterity:

. . .Notwithstanding Microspherix’s attempts to manipulate and stretch its patent disclosures to try to cover Nexplanon®, those disclosures — directed to the opposite approach from a systemic contraceptive implant such as the Nexplanon implant — simply cannot stretch far enough. None of the claims of the ’058 Patent actually cover Nexplanon, for many reasons. Among them, the Nexplanon implant is not a brachytherapy implant; it is not used to treat cancer or any other disease; and it is not implanted into any diseased tissue for localized treatment. Rather, the Nexplanon implant is a contraceptive device implanted into the arm for systemic release of a hormone into the bloodstream for circulation through the entire body — the exact type of drug delivery method that Microspherix distinguishes from its patents. . . .

Microspherix’s patents for brachytherapy seeds do not apply to Nexplanon implants; they apply to localized cancer treatment seeds or strands. And even if the Kaplan Patent Family could be contorted to cover something beyond localized treatment of cancer (they do not properly stretch so far), Merck independently made the Nexplanon® implant for the systemic delivery of contraceptive hormones, and did it before Dr. Kaplan ever thought of it. . . .

Onward — so it goes. The skies are gray here, but warm — and in two months’ time now, some 45 of us direct descendants will gather in the mountains to remember one who passed during the first days of the pandemic. . . and I am smiling, as I plan it. . . onward. It is the train afterall that moves, not the station. . . .


Updating My Bet… We Are Not At The Post, Yet — “He’ll Turn Out To Be… Denisovan.”
June 26, 2021

I hadn’t realized (until today, that is) that science (so far) has no remotely sizeable Denisovan skull fragments, only a few teeth and a finger bone or two. [And a Tibetan monk’s find of a gently-disputed jaw bone some 40 years ago.]

Until now, that is. Of course, it is wonderful to — as an academic — claim an entirely new species of humanity. But such an extraordinary claim would require. . . extraodinarily strong proof.

And it turns out that the amazingly complete skull found in northeast China fits nicely with the large teeth found in Russia, and the jaw bone found in Tibet — both, previously labeled as. . . examples of the Denisovan man. That may yet change, but for now — it is likely more prudent to consider this just a fantastic example of a nearly complete Denisovan skull — same time frame, as well — roughly speaking. Consider this updated Beeb story:

. . .The Denisovans were first identified from DNA retrieved from a 50,000-30,000-year-old finger bone discovered in Denisova Cave, Russia. Because the remains associated with this sister lineage to the Neanderthals were so fragmentary, the group has been described as a “genome in search of a fossil record”.

Prof. Marta Mirazon Lahr, from the University of Cambridge, believes that Dragon Man was, in fact, a Denisovan. . . .

The Denisovans are this fascinating mystery population from the past. There is a suggestion (from DNA evidence) that the jawbone found in the Tibetan Plateau might be a Denisovan,” she said. “And now because the jawbone from Tibet and Dragon Man look like each other — now we might actually have the first face of the Denisovan. . . .”

This will forever be fascinating to me: who are we — collectively? When and where did we arise, to sentience (give or take)? We are, in fact, all more alike. . . than different. Grin.


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.