Archives: 2010 December

Archive for December, 2010

Good Quotations: A Dickens Of A Day

“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”

— Charles Dickens, author 😉 Merry Christmas from Goodosphere

The Season

The ‘holiday season’. It’s a good time to do good things. Some people knock it. They can’t see past the commercialism. They probe the ironies and hypocrisies (there are plenty) of the holiday spirit. But, whatever your feelings on it, most people hit their annual high for ‘goodwill toward men’ (you too ladies) around this time of year and that’s worth celebrating.

For my part, I’m more aware of the little things. People hold doors for each other. Passersby say hello. Neighbors drop by with gifts. People say sorry when they’re in wrong. Generosity abounds. Lovers draw closer. Families unite.

Sure, you’ll have the toy store stampedes, the parking space brawls and the steady flow of indecency that can’t be completely stymied. But, Ebenezers, if you aren’t taking advantage of the Season of Giving, the Yuletide Spirit, if you aren’t giving and receiving and making merry–you’re missing out. Here’s to the innocents, the believers, the do-gooders and forgivers. Here’s to the most wonderful time of the year.

Now, I have some doors to hold.
Happy Holidays.

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum

If you read me, you can see that the Christmas tree is a symbol of love.
And what a fantabulous way to let everyone know that it was meant to be like the stars above–shining! OH!
Sprinkled from the lights of love.
Doing it. OH!
Let us all pray for peace.
And for all the wars to cease.
For everybody the whole day through, let the whole world-thing rest in peace, too.

–James Brown, Christmas Is Love

A spruce spices up the drive on the Glenn Highway near Palmer, Alaska on December 5, 2010. Courtesy of The Boston Globe’s Big Picture.

California Son

2010 will be remembered for all sorts of goodness. The year we took a step towards equality. The year we began commercial space flight in earnest. The year porpoises prevented us from losing Dick Van Dyke.

Regrettably, things have been less great in The Golden State. Arnold’s on his way out with unemployment rates close to the worst in the nation, deficits at historic highs, and more cuts to education inevitable.

Though things are beyong tough, there have been glimmers of hope in California. Dr. Dre is back, the sate is leading by example on cap and trade, and Dennis Ferguson just cut the treasury a check for $10,000.

Back in 1964, Mr. Furguson was laid off from Douglas Aircraft in Southern California. In dire straits, the engineer applied for unemployment and eventually received about $1,100. The money allowed him to go back to school and study computer programming. He went on to a successful second career and eventually retired in South Carolina. When he got wind of California’s budgetary woes he decided to pay back his unemployment with interest, telling state officials “Anyone who is helped out when they are down ought to give something back, especially now that California has budget problems.”

Furguson’s efforts did not fall on deaf ears. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer showed his appreciation in a statement: “I hope that as we work together to meet our budget challenges, we keep in mind his act of generosity and the spirit it embodies.” Since the $10,000 was not addressed to any specific recipient, the money will go toward the general public schools fund where it will undoubtedly serve to reaffirm the spirit of the season.

Goodosphere Tells A Joke: Seasonal Fare

The Joy Of Stats: 200 Countries Over 200 Years In 4 Minutes

Hans Rosling is a picture of ebullience. Imagine a Sweedish Bill Nye without the schtick. This man clearly lives on data, but — lucky for us — has a proclivity for showmanship. Here he guides us through 200 years of revolution, development, war, and pestilence and manages to tie the most hopeful of bows around it all. Hopefully you share his optimism:

Thanks, JoJo.

Cleaning Cat

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time to enjoy a cat using an iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner to amble about a bathroom:

Thanks, J. Babs.

Kickin’ The Bug

As Goodosphere’s de facto Science editor, I’d like to share a story with you.

Several years ago a man, an American living in Germany, contracted HIV. Obviously, even with the advances in treatment the disease is extremely serious. To complicate things further, the man had also been living with Leukemia for many years. And so the man, in his early forties, faced rather grim prospects.

In time, doctors at Berlin’s Charite Clinic treated the man’s leukemia with a bone marrow transplant. It was then that something amazing happened. The marrow (and the stem cells it contains) were very unique in that their donor had a “genetic profile which led to the CCR5 co-receptors being absent” from their cells. The CCR5 co-receptor is like a ‘docking station’ for the HIV virus so its absence essentially creates an immunity to the virus. In other words, the donor was like 1 in every 1,000 Europeans and Americans: naturally resistant to HIV.

More than two years later, the man who had been infected with HIV shows no signs of the virus. Tests on his bone marrow, blood and tissues have all been negative. The case is exceptional and rare, but it offers a new potential approach to combating HIV and AIDS and may spur increased genetic interest and research.

Each time science (or medicine) inches closer to tackling a seemingly insurmountable obstacle I’m reminded of how potent human enguinity is. Here’s to the researchers, the scientists, the doctors and technicians who spend their careers trying to battle disease. One day they’ll beat HIV and I hope that by the time that day comes, all nations have agreed that everyone’s life is equally valuable.

Read more at BBC.

Presents, A Tree, Decorations, Agents Sliding Down The Chimney

If you’ve ever spent the holidays in the vicinity of a television, chances are you have experienced the rapier wit of David Bowie and Bing Crosby. The charming, if not somewhat surreal collaboration, arose from Bing’s desire to have a contemporary artist hang with him for his annual Christmas special. His kids recommended one David Bowie, who jumped at the opportunity:

Sadly, Bing didn’t live to see the segment become a perennial holiday favorite and a gold mine for tribute-tinged parody: Stephen Colbert and Willie Nelson rocked “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” for The Colbert Christmas two years ago, Jack Black and Jason Segel were animated in the name of Peace, and now we have Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly with an eerily accurate recreation:

Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy with Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly from Will Ferrell

Goodosphere Tells A Joke: The Little Boy