good news for the chronic boozaholics

Researchers Grow Functioning Human Liver Tissue from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells 

The team's liver was grown from human skin cells reprogrammed to an embryo-like state and placed atop growth plates in a specially designed medium. Nine days later, the cells were expressing biomarkers indicative of maturing liver cells known as hepatocytes. With careful timing (informed by hundreds of trials) the team then introduced two more cell types that help recreate organ-like functions, including endothelial cells that line blood vessels. 

Two days after that, the cells had assembled themselves into a 3-D, 5-millimeter-long tissue that mimicked early stage liver development. Though lacking bile ducts and not organized in exactly the same neat way natural hepatocytes organize themselves, the tissue did possess functional blood vessels that worked when the tissue was placed under the skin of a mouse. It was also able to metabolize some drugs that mouse livers cannot process but that human livers can.

By this measure, the team calls their tissue the first reported creation of a functioning human organ with working vasculature from pluripotent stem cells.

via JWZ.

Also: Lungs found on South L.A. sidewalk are from animal, official says.
Plus: Stemcell Find Breathes New Life Into Lung Repair.


Melvin the Machine

Melvin the Mini Machine from HEYHEYHEY.

“… this new Melvin is a Rube Goldberg machine specifically built to travel the world, and let‘s be honest, we like the idea of going with him whenever and wherever we can. You can find out more about where he’s already been right here. Information on how the new Melvin works, its different parts and how to contact us can be found here.”

an owl who loves you

Aria Heller, the quiet creator of Boggle Loves You, (a wonderful web-comic tumblr featuring a concerned owl who doles out encouraging advice to questions about trauma, depression, and various other Big Bad Life Things), has done an interview with the Comics Alliance, Boggle The Owl Loves You And Wants You To Be Happy:

And so I decided to draw them a worried owl. It just seemed like the thing to do! Everybody likes owls. You can’t distrust an owl’s motivations. An owl isn’t going to lie to you. If an owl says you’re a decent person who is allowed to make mistakes, you believe that owl. I dashed the image off in about fifteen minutes, because I wanted to post it before any of my friends went offline. I expected it to be passed around my little group of friends, maybe get ten or eleven notes.

I think it had about forty thousand by the time I went to bed that night. I was getting messages all evening, from complete strangers, saying things like, “I was going to cut today, but then I saw Boggle and I burst into tears and put down the razor. Thank you.” I think I started crying about four times. There were so many people out there who desperately needed a friendly face, someone who would ask them to just please not be so hard on themselves. I got a message about a week later from a girl who said that she had been planning to commit suicide that night, and then she saw Boggle and called her mother instead, and her mother had taken her to the hospital! And I just kept thinking: I drew this owl in fifteen minutes! I mean, the original post had a typo! And it made such a big difference to so many people. I also received a lot of requests for Boggle to have his own blog, and after that kind of a response, I felt like I couldn’t say no. I didn’t know if a blog about Boggle would last, but I didn’t think it mattered. Even if only a few people wrote in, maybe I could help those people. It felt like the least I could do.

I dislike when people call it the big apple

It would be a long while, because, quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again. I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage. I could taste the peach and feel the soft air blowing from a subway grating on my legs and I could smell lilac and garbage and expensive perfume and I knew that it would cost something sooner or later—because I did not belong there, did not come from there—but when you are twenty-two or twenty-three, you figure that later you will have a high emotional balance, and be able to pay whatever it costs. I still believed in possibilities then, still had the sense, so peculiar to New York, that something extraordinary would happen any minute, any day, any month.

– Joan Didion, from Goodbye to All That

oh fortuna

  • Today is Global Reddit Meet-up Day. The Vancouver event is happening at Spanish Banks, (4801 NW Marine Drive), at 6:30.

    Came back to the apartment from a house-warming so late that last night was this morning, that the sky was luminous with promise. I woke up twice today, the first time only long enough to blink at the blue showing in the sky and think through the process of rain, how yesterday’s sheets of water came from the ever present clouds smashing into the mountains, every inch on the ground thinning them, lightening them, how good of the rain to happen, to allow the clouds to rise and float away over the peaks. How kind to give us respite from gray. Then I slept again, and woke to a loud, grating voice outside my window, lecturing two quieter, polite, potentially trapped-be-a-stranger voices on sports, “Look at Yankee fans! Why would anyone wear a hat that says I’m an idiot on it?” and nationalism, “I can’t stand those douchey middle-aged white guys that show up with flags during soccer season as if they were real Italians” and the clouds had returned, as if to protectively swaddle the sky, muffle the derision contained in his opinions.

  • like hacker-themed future fiction from the 1980’s

    Hacker uses malware built-in chat to toy with researchers:

    Malware researchers investigating a Trojan linked in a gaming forum as a how-to video for Diablo III got a surprise when the hacker started chatting with them — through a feature in the malware. Franklin Zhao & Jason Zhou of antivirus company AVG were looking for keylogging code in the malware with a debugger after downloading it to a virtual machine when a chat box popped up. The hacker asked, in Chinese, “What are you doing? Why are you researching my Trojan?”

    From the AVG blog:

    The dialog is not from any software installed in our virtual machine. On the contrary, it’s an integrated function of the backdoor and the message is sent from the hacker who wrote the Trojan. Amazing, isn’t it? It seems that the hacker was online and he realized that we were debugging his baby…

    We felt interested and continued to chat with him. He was really arrogant.

    Chicken: I didn’t know you can see my screen.

    Hacker: I would like to see your face, but what a pity you don’t have a camera.

    He is telling the truth. This backdoor has powerful functions like monitoring victim’s screen, mouse controlling, viewing process and modules, and even camera controlling.

    We then chatted with hacker for some time, pretending that we were green hands and would like to buy some Trojan from him. But this hacker was not so foolish to tell us all the truth. He then shut down our system remotely.

    Related: Satellite Eyes is a free OS X app that automatically updates your desktop wallpaper with satellite imagery of your current location.

    Today’s Required Reading: HOW TO GET UNSTUCK

    Dear Sugar, The Rumpus Advice Column #44: HOW YOU GET UNSTUCK:

    […]I hung up the phone feeling like my sternum had cracked open. Before I could even take a breath, in walked the girl whose mother’s boyfriend repeatedly almost drowned her with the garden hose in the back yard. She sat down in the chair near my desk where all the girls sat narrating their horrible stories and she told me another horrible story and I told her something different this time.

    I told her it was not okay, that it was unacceptable, that it was illegal and that I would call and report this latest, horrible thing. But I did not tell her it would stop. I did not promise that anyone would intervene. I told her it would likely go on and she’d have to survive it. That she’d have to find a way within herself to not only escape the shit, but to transcend it, and if she wasn’t able to do that, then her whole life would be shit, forever and ever and ever. I told her that escaping the shit would be hard, but that if she wanted to not make her mother’s life her destiny, she had to be the one to make it happen. She had to do more than hold on. She had to reach. She had to want it more than she’d ever wanted anything. She had to grab like a drowning girl for every good thing that came her way and she had to swim like fuck away from every bad thing. She had to count the years and let them roll by, to grow up and then run as far as she could in the direction of her best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by her own desire to heal. […]

    I would have done a lot better had I this article when I was a child, growing up the way I did, isolated yet surrounded by violence, multiply assaulted by people I trusted, a victim marked with “survivor”, a word that sometimes is almost as awful as “deserve”. I hate almost everything about my life, that it’s a string of disasters, tragedies, and death, with very little to show, except that, in the words of one particularly useless ex, it’s amazing I didn’t turn out worse. (Thanks, O. You were awesome, the way I came home to find someone else in our bed the week I was moving in with you, the day I was fired because my boss had a husband that thought I was pretty. Right on. Way to go.) Even as an adult, my friends ditched when Heart of the World imploded, my family swings from religious right-wing alcoholics to unreliable leftists who think folk music will save the world, and 90% of my relationships have ended with being betrayed. My only defense is what good I can find, new art, new experiences, new people, new stories, collecting what I can to bolster my thin belief that there is better out there, that not everyone lives like I’ve lived, and to make sure they don’t, sacrificing my own life when required, because it has to be done, doesn’t it, and you’re not doing it, so I have to. It’s to the point where I’m known for it, (even though I hate that too, to be trusted but with no one to trust), a habit so deeply ingrained in my flesh it’s become my second skin, the thing that keeps the bitterness that flows through my blood from dissolving me completely, the acid in my heart from burning it altogether black. I am glad for this woman, for being able to articulate so clearly what I so desperately needed when I was a girl, what I still have to remind myself weekly is true, not that it will get better, it bloody well hasn’t and it damned well won’t, but that reaching is important, even when you’re alone, especially when you’re alone, even if you perpetually, perpetually fail.

    “Can you jam with the console cowboys in cyberspace?”

    I’ve signed up to try an experimental VR rig at the SFU Surrey iSpace Lab as part of a study investigating spatial perception in virtual environments. How cool is that? It comes with a motion sickness warning, so I’m pretty stoked, even though the machine they strap you into looks clunky as only old/new technology can. My appointment is today at 4 pm.

    Locals can sign up to be a participant at this Reddit thread, though this week is booking fast. The entire study apparently takes just under 90 minutes. Compensation is $15. The only caveats are you that have to be 19 or older and that the head-mounted display doesn’t work well with glasses, so you either need normal vision or contact lenses.

    R.I.P. Fido. 2006 – 2012.


    R.I.P. Fido. 2006 – 2012.

    David went out on the porch this morning to feed Fido only to discover that he’d passed away sometime in the night, presumably of old age. He was a tremendously cute bunny and will be missed. I’ve taken his body and wrapped in a towel, so David can take down his cage and dissemble his hutch. Later today we will take the body to Animal Control to be cremated. If anyone would like to pay their respects, we are hosting Sunday Tea this week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Note: David’s weapon of choice is whiskey.)