News Bits and Misc. Stuff

I’m going to take the ‘saved links’ for several different things and put them in one posting. In some cases they don’t justify a posting on their own, in others it’s just more effective to “get ‘r done” than sit on it for a longer treatment.

Water

First up, the California Water Wars, Drought Edition:

For those not familiar with life in The Cadillac Desert, wars over water rights are part of the turf. Until recently, it was “first come, served forever, the rest of you suck it.” The first claimant on water had water rights, everybody else had to deal with what was left over. There was some finesse in this. For example, riparian rights said you got reasonable use of a river near you, but could not take more than your share and had to leave enough for others downstream, sort of. (Ask Mexico about the Colorado River…) Then there were surface rights. If you could stick a well in the dirt, all you could pump was yours. For things like major dams, say the Oroville Damn and the Shasta Damn that feed water into the California Aqueduct, those farmers who first signed up for the building of them got allotments of water, and those then tend to stay theirs in perpetuity (though failure to use the water can result in reductions, so folks tend to always use their water… and after something like 50 years they ‘renegotiated’ the rates to yet another sweetheart rate).

Lately some of that has changed. The original contact for major water from dams ran out and a new one issued with some changes. During major droughts there’s a reduced allotment to each farmer (with some rice farmers now selling their water rights so cities) and more importantly, Governor Moonbeam (aka Jerry Brown) has made a water grab for water rights to ground water.

http://www.examiner.com/article/california-groundwater-grab

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed three unprecedented bills this week that regulate California’s underground water sources – groundwater. Groundwater includes all water resources contained in the pore spaces of rock and soil below the ground surface. And, in the case the new regulations, such water resources would include those on both private and public lands.

Approximately 80% of California water is used by the agricultural industry and farmers. This water irrigates almost 29 million acres, which grows 350 different crops. Urban users consume 10% of the water, and industry receives less than 10% of the water supply. A significant source of agriculture and industrial water demand is drawn from groundwater on private property.

Since the state’s founding, groundwater (as with certain mineral rights and other rights to use) has been considered a constitutionally-protected property right; landowners have been able to pump groundwater unrestrained by state regulators. But, increasing reliance on groundwater during droughts has depleted some groundwater basins.

The Governor’s new groundwater regulations are comprised of three bills: SB 1168 instructs local agencies to create groundwater management plans, AB 1739 establishes when the state government can intervene in local groups’ failure to sufficiently implement groundwater management plans, and SB 1319 would postpone state enforcements in certain cases where surface water has been impacted by groundwater pumping. (Los Angeles Times, Sept. 16, 2014)

So in one regulatory swoop, the constitutional property rights in the ground water on your own property have been moved to a State managed government run resource. Oh Well, who needs property rights. We also, now, have “eminent domain” approved for use to confiscate your land and give it to another private party for development if they can show they can make a larger tax base out of it (i.e. show the government that they will get a larger cut of the action). Not like there’s any tendency for Crony Capitalists to hang out with Corruptible Politician (but I’m being repetitive…)

So what property rights DO you have in land? Er, not much. You can pay property taxes on it, and use it in exactly and only those ways the zoning rules allow, with only the changes permitted by the relevant regulatory bodies and with the right licences, and only for as long as someone else doesn’t whisper in your local Govt ear that they can make a bundle on that land if the Govt will just hand it over… Oh, and don’t ever plant a Redwood Tree or you must go to the Redwood Commission to get permission to cut it down when it threatens to topple onto your house. (Single trees tend to fall over in heavy wind as their roots are shallow…)

But there was one small glimmer of hope. Local Govt was drooling over the opportunity to move to Tiered Pricing where you got a little water at a reasonable price, then they would ratchet up the price rapidly with added consumption. (Tiers like this are usually based on the local community averages, so the very very rich on 5 acre estates get more of the ‘life line’ quantity than the poor person on a dinky lot.) This went off to court, and the court discovered it could stand up for the average Joe and Jane (or found that it could not come up with a suitable dodge…)

http://newsdaily.com/2015/04/california-judge-rejects-citys-tiered-water-rates/

California court rejects city’s tiered water rates

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 CURTIS SKINNER FOR REUTERS

(Reuters) – A state appeals court ruled on Monday that a southern California city’s tiered water rates, developed in an effort to combat overuse during the state’s ongoing drought, violated the state’s Constitution.

The three-judge panel for the state’s 4th District Court of Appeal sided with taxpayers of the Los Angeles-area city of San Juan Capistrano, who filed a lawsuit against the city’s plan to charge differing rates based on water usage.

The judges said in the 29-page opinion that the cost schedule was unconstitutional because it made some consumers pay more for water than it cost the government to provide it, violating a voter-approved proposition.

“We do hold that above-cost-of-service pricing for tiers of water service is not allowed by Proposition 218 and in this case, [the city] did not carry its burden of proving its higher tiers reflected its costs of service,” they wrote.

The panel sent the case back to a lower court, adding that the rate tiering can be legal if a connection between pricing and costs can be demonstrated.

So watch for local water boards to suddenly find ways that providing a little more water costs them a lot more to provide…

Welcome to Kalifornia, the land of Fruits and Nuts…

It will be interesting to watch how this all sorts out, especially if we enter one of the perfectly normal Mega Droughts that California has had throughout history. Though I did see on the weather report last night that we are expecting snow in the mountains this week. In the end of April. When it’s supposed to be warm, but isn’t.

Nifty Home Heating

Got a high heat load to dump from your Cloud Server Farm? Don’t like paying for all that A/C load? Have a lot of folks who need some heat? Why not put the servers in their home as a heater?

http://newsdaily.com/2015/04/free-home-heating-offered-by-e-radiators/

Free home heating offered by e-Radiators

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 REUTERS

A Dutch energy firm is trailing a scheme that offers both the promise of free energy to home-owners and a cheap alternative to large data centers for computing firms.

Dutch start-up Nerdalize has teamed up with energy providers Eneco to launch its e-Radiator prototype, which is being tested in five Dutch homes as an alternative heating device. The e-Radiator is a computer server that crunches numbers for a variety of Belgian firms – while the resultant heat will heat the rooms in which they’re situated. Nerdalize believes the scheme could be a commercially viable alternative to traditional radiators.
CEO Boaz Leupe told Reuters the scheme is ideal for both computing clients and home owners.

“These computers generate massive amounts of heat and then you start using energy to cool that down again, which is a bit of a waste. With the solution that Nerdalize has, we don’t actually have to build the data center, which saves a lot of costs in infrastructure and we don’t have the cooling overhead, plus that you have the environmental benefit, that the Kilowatt hour you are using is used twice, once to heat the home and once to compute the clients task without the cooling overhead,” Leupe told Reuters.

He added: “Actually what we do is not that different from a normal cloud provider, pretty much we make sure that there is infrastructure, or hardware and that there is a lot of clients that now book their feed with traditional cloud provider, and basically what booking capacity means is that you rent a computer for a little while and we rent out computer to universities and companies that have computer-intensive needs.”

Nerdalize’s founders thought up the scheme after crowding around a laptop to keep warm after a home thermostat broke.

That must have been one heck of a laptop… Me? I’d have turned on the electric oil filled roll around kept for that purpose.

I also have to wonder what one does in the summer… Then again, this is Holland, so maybe they never get warm ;-)

Not going to work well in Phoenix Arizona, but probably a killer idea for Nome and Fairbanks. (Maybe Toronto too…) Communications costs will go up, but from some classes of distributed compute problems, where communications load is not too high, it could work rather well.

Maple Syruple

I’ve always loved real Maple Syrup and find the artificial stuff cloying and like oversweet glue in the mouth making for dry pancakes. Now I have a reason to pay up for it:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110330131316.htm

54 beneficial compounds discovered in pure maple syrup

Date:
March 30, 2011
Source:
University of Rhode Island
Summary:
Researchers have discovered 34 new beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup and confirmed that 20 compounds discovered last year in preliminary research play a key role in human health.

University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram has discovered 34 new beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup and confirmed that 20 compounds discovered last year in preliminary research play a key role in human health.

On March 30 at the 241st American Chemical Society’s National Meeting in Anaheim, Calif. the URI assistant pharmacy professor is telling scientists from around the world that his URI team has now isolated and identified 54 beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup from Quebec, five of which have never been seen in nature.

“I continue to say that nature is the best chemist, and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found in it,” Seeram said. “It’s important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.”

The anti-inflammatory part was what caught my eye. As our present high omega-6 fat ratio from plant seed oils is prone to causing higher inflammation, it’s nice to know that some Maple Syrup pushes things the other way.

[…]
“We know that the compounds are anti-inflammatory agents and that inflammation has been implicated in several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s,” Seeram said.

As part of his diabetes research, Seeram has collaborated with Chong Lee, professor of nutrition and food sciences in URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences. The scientists have found that maple syrup phenolics, the beneficial anti-oxidant compounds, inhibit two carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes that are relevant to Type 2 diabetes management.

The irony of finding a potential anti-diabetes compound in a sweetener is not lost on Seeram. “Not all sweeteners are created equal,” he said.
Among the five new compounds is Quebecol, a compound created when a farmer boils off the water in maple sap to get maple syrup. It takes 40 liters (10.5 gallons) of sap to make 1 liter (2 pints) of syrup.

“Quebecol has a unique chemical structure or skeleton never before identified in nature,” Seeram said. “I believe the process of concentrating the maple sap into maple syrup is what creates Quebecol. There is beneficial and interesting chemistry going on when the boiling process occurs. I believe the heat forms this unique compound.”

More at the link.

Me? I’m looking at a nice Short Stack with real butter on it and a nice Maple Syrup coat… with bacon on the side ;-)

Why I Like Linux – Security Edition

I have an ongoing love / hate relationship with Unix / Linux operating systems. I love what it lets me do, but I hate how it makes me do it. At any rate, I’ve been working my way down the Security Food Chain trying to figure out how to make a truly secure from the ground up Linux. Peeling back each layer tended to show some “issues” at the next layer down. Now a decent Linux is far more secure than any Windoze release, and that is why secure platforms like the Macintosh tend to be built on a Linux core (or, in the case of the Mac, a Mach Micro Kernel that is in turn based on that Unix / Linux world). I’d finally reached the point of looking at compile time flags (that are often set for convenience and speed instead of security) and the C Library and found it was going to be a “piece of work” to really really lock it down. Yet someone must have done that already, given that darned near every cheap DSL router (and similar network gear) has in it’s guts a Linux / Unix clone of some sort. (Even Cisco started with a BSD flavor and slowly mutated it into Cisco IOS… in the early days you could ‘get root’ on a Cisco router and use familiar Unix commands.)

Well, a bit of poking around (and this is part of what I love – if YOU need something, odds are someone else needed it and got there first) showed that some other folks had already “been there”. First up, there’s an alternative C Library. This matters as pretty much everything on the system will be making calls to that library of functions supplied via the C compiler to all the compiled programs. This library is particularly designed to be smaller, with fewer calls (which also means fewer attack interfaces) and somewhat hardened as it is used in those ubiquitous small routers and needs to be hardened for years without daily updates like M.S. needs…) But I was not keen on the idea of needing to “roll my own” OS based on that library. It would take a bit of work. Yet again, poking around found someone else had already done it. uClibc is that micro-C library.

http://opensource.dyc.edu/node/345

Lilblue: A security enhenced, fully featured XFCE4, amd64 Gentoo Desktop, built on uClibc

1. Introduction

“Lilblue”, named after the Little Blue Penguin of New Zealand, a smaller cousin of the Gentoo, is a security enhenced, fully featured XFCE4, amd64 Gentoo Desktop, built on uClibc.

The “security enhencement” comes from a toolchain which builds all of userland

* with stack smashing protection and stack-check,
* as position independant executables — even executables are marked ET_DYN
* with hardened linking — relocation read only and no lazy binding (relro and bindnow),
*with a non-executable stack, only RW permitted on a GNU_STACK phdr,

and a kernel which provides:

* various memory protection features for processes (PAGEEXEC, MPROTECT, RANDMMAP, EMUTRAMP),
* an enhenced address space layout randimization in conjunction with PIE above,
* numerous internal and kernel-userland surface hardening features,

The “fully featured desktop” comes the fact that the system comes with over 800 packages covering most desktop needs. XFCE4 was chosen because of its slim and flexible nature. These include:

* ephiphany, claws, hexchat for browsing, email and IRC
* abiword, evince, gcalctool, gtext for generic office software
* gqview, smplayer for multimedia with many open codecs
* transmission for bittorrent
* and no! busybox does not provide most of the core utilities

“Lilblue” should not be thought of as an “embedded” system. The major difference between it and a stock Gentoo system built with the same package set is that uClibc replaces glibc. Work is on the way to make about 7000 packages available via bin hosting.

Finally, why uClibc and why only amd64? Let me address the latter first: almost all desktop systems today support X86_64 architecture. Factored in with time constraints, mostly revovling around the difficulties maintaing hardening on X86, this made the choice to only support amd64 seem reasonable. The uClibc is harder to justify, so may or may not accept the following reasons:

* uClibc is a configurable standard C library aimed at embedded systems, and it should remain so, but it is not just for embedded systems anyore!
* uClibc is fast! “lilblue” boots in 14 seconds off a SSD
* uClibc is small ~400 KB for uClibc vs 1.7 MB
* uClibc’s “linkage surface” is half that of glibc: 1327 symbols for uClibc vs 2188 for glibc (Gentoo users can compare the speed of revdep-rebuild)
* It is not the mainstream and forces the developer to confront design principles when building a “Standard C Library” and executables that link against it
* I like working with the people who work on Gentoo and uClibc. Its not a reason to use “lilblue”, but it was a motivation for me to do this

It goes on from there. My only “complaint” is with the assumption of 64 bit desktops as ubiquitous. Most of mine are not, and the one I do have is a bit strange hardware that isn’t well supported by Linux drivers, so not a great candidate. (This is that ‘how it makes me do it’ part – where I get to buy Yet Another Machine, or do the work of making it “go” in 32 bit land…)

So this site is a wealth of security oriented work, and the ideas and pointers on what and why. They have several other projects too, so the top page is also interesting.

http://opensource.dyc.edu/

Welcome!

Welcome to opensource.dyc.edu. This site is dedicated to the distribution of Open Source software developed by both the students and faculty in the Information Technology Department at D’Youville College. The development teams hosted here are dedicated to the production of high quality Open Source software which serve a variety of needs.

D’Youville College is a small Liberal Arts College located in Buffalo, NY, that offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines. For more information about the College and our programs, please visit http://www.dyc.edu . For more information about the Information Technology and our degrees, visit our site at tweedledee.dyc.edu/it .

Tor-ramdisk 20150411 released

This release of tor-ramdisk follows upstream’s release of tor 0.2.5.12 and 0.2.6.7. Both branches are now carrying stable releases, so I made the jump to the 0.2.6 branch to keep up with the new features upstream has been adding with each new branch. These releases come only a couple of months after the last releases and they address a couple of bugs. One is an assertion failure which a client can trigger in a hidden service.

That Tor-ramdisk is an interesting project, from the page for it:

Tor-ramdisk

Tor-ramdisk is a uClibc-based micro Linux distribution whose sole purpose is to securely host a Tor server purely in RAM. For those not familiar with Tor, it is a system which allows the user to construct encrypted virtual tunnels which are randomly relayed between Tor servers (nodes) until the connection finally exits to its destination on the internet. The encryption and random relaying resist traffic analysis in that a malicious sniffer cannot easily discover where the traffic is coming from or what data it contains. While not perfect in its efforts to provide users with anonymity, Tor does help protect against unscrupulous companies, individuals or agencies from “watching us”. For more information, see the Tor official site.

The usefulness of a RAM only environment for Tor became apparent to me when Janssen was arrested by the German police towards the end of July, 2007. (You can read the full story in a CNET article.) While the police did not seize the computer for whatever reasons, they certainly could have. More typically, it would have been taken for forensic analysis of the data on the drives. Of course, if the computer housing the Tor server has no drives, there can be no question that it is purely a network relaying device and that one should look elsewhere for the “goods”.

Other advantages became clear:

* It is useful to operators that want all traces of the server to disappear on powerdown. This includes the private SSL keys which can be housed externally.
* The environment can be hardened in a manner specific to the limited needs of Tor.
* It has the usual speed advantages of diskless systems and can run on older hardware.

The only known disadvantage is that it cannot host Tor hidden services which would require other services (e.g. http), and their resources (e.g. hard drive space), in addition to the Tor server itself. However, as a middle or exit node, it is ideal.

I could see, for example, having Tor-ramdisk on a semi-remote file server and doing a net-boot from it (all over encrypted link and from an encrypted disk). Then you have a working Tor relay with “nothing on it” and on power down, it goes POOF! Having the net-boot via a mapped IP address would also mean that attempts to net boot it elsewhere would fail… While I rather like the idea of providing a Tor Relay to the world, I’d only do it at a site that was not my home, and via hardware / software such as this where it “goes away” on power down.

That way, if someone a bit unclear on the concept finds “illicit” material originating from your Tor Relay, and does not understand that you can’t see that material, they don’t come banging down your door like the Germans did to Janssen.

I’ve not explored their other projects. Yet.

Jefferson and Sally

There’s been an ongoing “did so – did not” argument over the question of Thomas Jefferson having kids with Sally Hemmings. For those who don’t know, Sally was a half-sister to Jefferson’s wife. (Her dad had a, um, er, ‘interaction’ with one of his black slaves and Sally was the result). When Jefferson’s wife died, Sally stayed on at the house. While Jefferson had pledged to his spouse that he would never remarry (or so I’ve been told) there was not a lot said about, um, er, ‘interaction’… And Sally did have kids.

So some locals decided to smear Jefferson with accusations of being their daddy. He mostly just ignored it.

Only in the last couple of decades has genetic testing gotten good enough to show that the Hemmings of today do have the Jefferson genes. Not as well advertised were the details of “which genes”. I, too, had “bought the story” that this was conclusive proof of Jefferson as dad. Turns out they were only looking at the Y chromosome, and that can come from ANY male Jefferson, not just Thomas, and that bit was glossed over with a bit of wink wink nudge nudge he was in the house…

http://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/review/taking-back-thomas-jefferson/

These folks do a much more in depth analysis of the whole thing and, IMHO, show fairly convincingly via ‘circumstantial’ evidence that in some cases Thomas was not around to ‘do the deed’ when another male relative of his was, and was fond of hanging out with the staff…

Fifth, Madison’s claim that Jefferson fathered all – or any, for that matter – of Sally’s children must be considered along with other equally valid evidence to the contrary. For instance, Jefferson’s nephews, the Carr brothers, confessed to Jefferson’s grandson, “Jeff” Randolph, that they fathered some children by Sally and were to blame for the stain on their uncle’s name. Jefferson’s plantation overseer, Edmund Bacon, denied that Jefferson fathered any of Sally’s children, claiming that he often saw another man – whose name the publisher of his memoirs redacted – sneaking out of Sally’s quarters in the early morning. Bacon also alluded to young men at or around Monticello, such as the Carrs, getting “intimate with the Negro women.” Bacon’s testimony, however, has been peremptorily dismissed by Brodie and Gordon-Reed, probably because it is somewhat of a smoking gun against their theory. Unlike the Jeffersons or Hemingses, Bacon did not have a direct stake in the answer to the question and was relatively unbiased. More importantly, Bacon was the only actual eyewitness in the scandal. “His testimony is compelling, overwhelming, and uncontradicted,” according to author William G. Hyland, Jr. “Not hearsay, not second-hand gossip, but direct eyewitness testimony.”
[…]
The second piece of evidence is Nature’s DNA study. This study, misleadingly titled “Jefferson Fathered Slave’s Last Child,” settled the issue for many, awing the public and professionals with the authority of science. This is terribly unfortunate, for the results of the study were actually inconclusive. The study tested DNA samples from the descendants of five men: Field Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson’s uncle), Eston Hemings (Sally’s last son), Peter and Samuel Carr (Thomas Jefferson’s nephews), and Thomas Woodson (who claimed to be the missing first son of Thomas Jefferson and Sally). The results showed a match between the male chromosomes of the descendants of Eston and Field Jefferson, meaning that a man in the Jefferson bloodline was probably the father of Eston. In other words, Thomas Jefferson could not be ruled out as the biological father, though he was not proven to be the father, either. The results also ruled out the Carrs’ paternity of Eston (though not of Sally’s other children, at least some of whom they confessed to fathering) and proved that Woodson was not a part of the Jefferson bloodline. The scientists also noted that Jefferson and Hemings bloodlines could have mixed illegitimately in earlier or later generations, though they found the possibility unlikely. The recent revelation of illegitimacy in the British royal line, however, uncovered by the discovery of King Richard III’s remains, is a reminder that such caveats cannot be dismissed cavalierly.
[…]
In spite of the limitations of the results, the scientists declared that they had proved that Thomas was Eston’s father. Shortly thereafter, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation endorsed Nature’s conclusions. The DNA study showed nothing more than that Eston was descended from a male in the Jefferson bloodline, but the Memorial Foundation declared that Thomas Jefferson himself was the likely father of all of Sally’s six children, anyway. “We don’t need proof,” sneered Peter S. Onuf, the historical consultant to the Memorial Foundation. “We are historians, we write history the way we want to.” At the time of Eston’s conception, however, there were at least nine eligible Jefferson fathers in the vicinity of Monticello and a total of twenty-five in Virginia. By the DNA alone, without any consideration of plausibility, the probability of Thomas Jefferson’s paternity is as low as 4%. Singling out Thomas Jefferson is not the “simplest and most probable” explanation, as the scientists said, but rather the most sensational.

The Thomas Jefferson Scholars Commission, a “blue-ribbon panel” of independent experts, convened after the Memorial Foundation betrayed its namesake, has advanced the theory of Thomas Jefferson’s younger brother, Randolph Jefferson, as the likeliest father. An oral tradition among some of the Hemingses holds that Eston was fathered by a Jefferson “uncle,” and Randolph was known as “Uncle Randolph” around Monticello. Unlike the reserved and monastic Thomas Jefferson, Randolph was known to socialize with the slaves, slipping away to play the fiddle and dance late into the night. Randolph was likely present at the time of Eston’s conception, too, and was a regular visitor to Monticello. In fact, there were even reports of Randolph fathering children by other slaves. Interestingly, Sally’s births coincided with Randolph’s interlude between wives and terminated in 1809, the same year that Thomas Jefferson came home for good and Randolph remarried. Randolph also had four sons, all of whom were young men at the time of Eston’s conception, visiting Monticello with their father and on their own. Randolph and his sons are all eligible paternity candidates for Eston.

It’s a long article with much more in it, but it convinced me that Thomas was being painted with a brush that ought to have been for Randolph.

Not that it matters much… but I had been enamored of the idea of Thomas Jefferson both keeping his promise to his dead wife and elevating a slave to the role of housewife and mother. Oh Well… looks like the realty was more “on the road and younger brother will play”…

Linking Without Lauding

Want to link to an article while not raising their ‘link count’ in things like Google search engine stats? There’s a site for that…

http://www.donotlink.com/

Just paste in the URL in question and it gives you a handle to it.

After All These Years – Mendel missed a trick

It seems that while the normal “random assortment” of Mendel is the norm, some genes are a bit greedy and get preferential assortment. This has some interesting implications for everything from plant and animal breeding to figuring out how much of who’s genes you have.

http://phys.org/news/2015-02-r2d2-mendel-scientists-selfish-gene.html

R2d2 beats Mendel: Scientists find selfish gene that breaks long-held law of inheritance
Feb 11, 2015

The force is strong with this one. UNC School of Medicine researchers discovered a gene called R2d2 – Responder to meiotic drive 2 – that breaks Gregor Mendel’s century-old “law of segregation,” which states that you have an equal probability of inheriting each of two copies of every gene from both parents.

For years, scientists had evidence that this law was being broken in mammals, but they didn’t know how. Now they’ve implicated R2d2, a so-called “selfish gene.” Led by UNC School of Medicine scientists, researchers from across the country used data from thousands of genetically diverse mice to show that female mice pass on one copy of the R2d2 gene more frequently than the other copy.

The discovery, published in PLoS Genetics, has wide ranging implications. For instance, when doctors calculate the probability of a person inheriting the genes responsible for a disease, the calculations are based on Mendel’s law. Findings from the fields of evolutionary genetics and population genetics are also based on Mendel’s law. And the discovery could have implications for the fields of biomedical science, infectious diseases, and even agriculture.

“R2d2 is a good example of a poorly understood phenomenon known as female meiotic drive – when an egg is produced and a “selfish gene” is segregated to the egg more than half the time,” said Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD, professor of genetics and senior author of the paper. “One notable but poorly understood example of this in humans involves the transmission fused chromosomes that can contribute to trisomies – when three chromosomes are passed on to offspring instead of two.”

http://phys.org/news/2015-03-genetically-mammals-fathers.html

You might resemble or act more like your mother, but a novel research study from UNC School of Medicine researchers reveals that mammals are genetically more like their dads. Specifically, the research shows that although we inherit equal amounts of genetic mutations from our parents – the mutations that make us who we are and not some other person – we actually “use” more of the DNA that we inherit from our dads.

The research, published in the journal Nature Genetics, has wide implications for the study of human disease, especially when using mammalian research models. For instance, in many mouse models created for the study of gene expression related to disease, researchers typically don’t take into account whether specific genetic expression originates from mothers or fathers. But the UNC research shows that inheriting a mutation has different consequences in mammals, depending on whether the genetic variant is inherited from the mother or father.

“This is an exceptional new research finding that opens the door to an entirely new area of exploration in human genetics,” said Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD, professor of genetics and senior author of the paper. “We’ve known that there are 95 genes that are subject to this parent-of-origin effect. They’re called imprinted genes, and they can play roles in diseases, depending on whether the genetic mutation came from the father or the mother. Now we’ve found that in addition to them, there are thousands of other genes that have a novel parent-of-origin effect.”

Oh Dear. So much for “settled science” as a meme…

And, finally the last one for this batch:

Is Britain REALLY in the EU?

http://www.vernoncoleman.com/euillegally.html

A fascinating look at the question of the manner of the British entrance into the EU that does a pretty good job of showing that it was not done legally and so is not valid. Golly, that could have an impact…

Was Britain Taken Into The EU Illegally?

Vernon Coleman

Many constitutional experts believe that Britain isn’t actually a member of the European Union since our apparent entry was in violation of British law and was, therefore invalid.

In enacting the European Communities Bill through an ordinary vote in the House of Commons, Ted Heath’s Government breached the constitutional convention which requires a prior consultation of the people (either by a general election or a referendum) on any measure involving constitutional change. The general election or referendum must take place before any related parliamentary debate. (Britain has no straightforward written constitution. But, the signing of the Common Market entrance documents was, without a doubt, a breach of the spirit of our constitution.)

Just weeks before the 1970 general election which made him Prime Minister, Edward Heath declared that it would be wrong if any Government contemplating membership of the European Community were to take this step without `the full hearted consent of Parliament and people’.

However, when it came to it Heath didn’t have a referendum because opinion polls at the time (1972) showed that the British people were hugely opposed (by a margin of two to one) against joining the Common Market. Instead, Heath merely signed the documents that took us into what became the European Union on the basis that Parliament alone had passed the European Communities Bill of 1972.

Some MPs have subsequently claimed that `Parliament can do whatever it likes’. But that isn’t true, of course. Parliament consists of a number of individual MPs who have been elected by their constituents to represent them. Political parties are not recognised in our system of government and Parliament does not have the right to change the whole nature of Britain’s constitution. We have (or are supposed to have) an elective democracy not an elective dictatorship. Parliament may, in law and in day to day issues, be the sovereign power in the state, but the electors are (in the words of Dicey’s `Introduction for the Study of the Law of the Constitution’ published in 1885) `the body in which sovereign power is vested’. Dicey goes on to point out that `in a political sense the electors are the most important part of, we may even say are actually, the sovereign power, since their will is under the present constitution sure to obtain ultimate obedience.’ Bagehot, author of The English Constitution, 1867, describes the nation, through Parliament, as `the present sovereign’.

In 1972, when Heath decided to take Britain into the Common Market, he used Parliament’s legal sovereignty to deny and permanently limit the political sovereignty of the electorate. Heath and Parliament changed the basic rules and they did not have the right (legal or moral) to do that. The 1972 European Communities Bill wasn’t just another Act of Parliament. Heath’s Bill used Parliament’s legal sovereignty, and status as representative of the electorate, to deny the fundamental rights of the electorate.

Precedents show that the British constitution (which may not be written and formalised in the same way as the American constitution is presented) but which is, nevertheless, enshrined and codified in the Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Right (1628), the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701) requires Parliament to consult the electorate directly where constitutional change which would affect their political sovereignty is in prospect. (The 1689 Bill of Rights contains the following oath: `I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority within this Realm.’ Since this Bill has not been repealed it is clear that every treaty Britain has signed with the EU has been illegal.)

So, for example, Parliament was dissolved in 1831/2 to obtain the electorate’s authority for the Reform Bill and again in 1910 following the Lord’s rejection of the Liberal Finance Bill.

and it goes on from there.

So how about it Britain, ready to rectify that error? I don’t know much about how British Law works in cases like this, but I’d have thought someone would be suing by now.

The End

And that’s the end of this batch of “small but interesting bits”.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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8 Responses to News Bits and Misc. Stuff

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    Ref selfish genes saw an item the other day that researchers had identified a “hidden” DNA code on top of the well known coding which influences gene expression. Just because you posess agene does mean it will be expressed. Big deal for things like genetic related diseases. Don’t have a link handy but will look later.

  2. omanuel says:

    Today, WUWT and the WeatherAction News blog posted information from a paper to be published in Physical Review Letters on 24 April 2015 that claims cosmic rays induce lightening bolts:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/04/22/using-cosmic-rays-to-reveal-earths-thunderstorm-processes/

    https://weatheraction.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/using-cosmic-rays-to-reveal-earths-thunderstorm-processes

    Thunder bolts may be signals from the Sun’s pulsar core if that is the source of cosmic rays.

    There are also encouraging indications NASA may start releasing important information on the Sun: Today (April 22, 2015) Holly Zoll updated NASA’s page on Solar Irradiance, . . .

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/science/solar-irradiance.html

    and acknowledged that changes in Earth’s climate may be better explained by SSI (solar spectral irradiance) than by TSI (total spectral irradiance).

    This was also the conclusion of a recent paper, “Cycle Length Dependence of Stellar Magnetic Activity and Solar Cycle 23,” The Astrophysics Journal 820
    http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/802/1/67/pdf/0004-637X_802_1_67.pdf

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    Here is the link to the second coding language in DNA, raises very interesting questions about GMO foods if we don’t really understand what we are doing — perhaps we should do some very very careful testing.

    http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/12/12/scientists-discover-double-meaning-in-genetic-code/

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    @Larry Ledwick:

    One of my “complaints” about GMO is that it is built on the “one gene, one protein” model of DNA, yet we know that is wrong. It is “One gene, many proteins” as different segments of the same gene can code for different proteins. Now, disrupt that by hammering into the middle of it a bunch of crap, what happens? Oh, right, we have no clue. But if it didn’t kill one in 100,000 of the trials, that one is grown out and fed to everyone. Hopefully it’s not a bizzarro change…

    @Omanuel:

    Interesting links… more reading ;=) !

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    Gee… nobody interested in that “hide the link” site, or the water wars in California, or Thomas Jefferson, or if Britain is REALLY in the EU or not?

    Makes me wonder if a “mixed bag” really gets read, or not… or if ‘small topics’ just don’t generate much commentary as it’s just read and noted.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; just reading to catchup on topics and comments. Writing takes me way to long. ;-) pg

  7. Graeme No.3 says:

    Re is Britain REALLY in the EU or not?

    No one has sued because any favourable judgment would be ignored. On the other hand if ever a UK (or parts thereof) wanted to quit the EU, they would have a great excuse, if only to hold a referendum when public opinion had already proved against the EU.

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