i started this at first to just like and re-blog things i found hilarious but now i am finding i might actually have something to say. most of the time this blog is just ridiculousness, but with a splash of science, religion and politics... oh and kitties!!!
Little road trip reconnaissance mission today for potential boating, dirt biking, camping, hiking, off-roading around Stave Lake, BC
I wish I had better debate skills, but I’m not sure if it really would have made a difference.
This Death Row Inmate Is Dying to Donate His Organs
In 2001 Christian Longo killed his wife and his three young children and fled to Mexico. Once he was brought back to the US, he was convicted of those murders and placed on Oregon’s Death Row, where he has resided since 2003. He was once on the FBI’s top-ten most wanted list, and James Franco is even going to play him in an upcoming movie.
Christian, now 40 and still in jail, is turning a new leaf. In an effort to give back to his community, he has decided to donate his organs upon his inevitable execution. The only problem is, due to the lack of an efficient prisoner donation protocol, he pretty much can’t. Chris is even willing to forgo all appeals of his death sentence if he can donate his organs upon his execution. Still, he’s been denied.
Through his Gifts of Anatomical Value from Everyone (G.A.V.E) organization, Chris is looking to change that. The mission of G.A.V.E is to remove the medical and ethical issues involved with prisoner organ and tissue donation and gain approval for some of the 2 million incarcerated individuals to donate. If successful, the organization will substantially reduce the number of people on waiting lists for organ and tissue donation (which is more than 121,000, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network).
I recently conducted an email interview with Longo about how he came to found G.A.V.E, the work his organization is doing, and the impact prisoner donation could have if certain ethical and political barriers were removed.
VICE: What piqued your interest in prisoner organ donation?
Christian Longo: After watching a friend increasingly suffer from a degenerative disorder called scleroderma, it became apparent she would eventually need a kidney transplant. After being told by my prison system that consideration may only be given for donations to immediate family, I put together a proposal for my unique circumstances as a death row inmate. I offered to end my remaining appeals and face execution if my healthy body parts were able to be donated to those in need. My request was denied.
How surprising was it to find out you couldn’t donate?
It was a Spockian “that’s illogical” moment followed by a fear that someone I cared about might not be able to find a suitable donor… which pissed me off.
Hello. Since you're the only science tumblr I follow I thought I would ask you this question. If an interracial couple were to marry, and have children, and their interracial children had interracial children, and so on, how many generations would it take before either the maternal or paternal ethnicity would be completely eliminated? (i.e. if it was a black and white couple and their mixed child married an asian, and their mixed child married an hispanic, and so on.)
Hi there! Thanks for your question. Unforch, this question isn’t really answerable.
Ethnicity and race are social constructs, not useful genetic traits that we can (or should) use to differentiate people. Ethnicity and race can’t “dilute” out (in a genetic sense), because you can’t point to a genome and say “that’s the Hispanic gene” or “There’s the sequence that makes you Asian.” Yeah, we can point to genes that influence skin color or facial features, but that’s not race. It’s biology.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t track genetic differences based on geography and its associated populations, though. We can, and we do. For instance, if we compared the genome sequences of indigenous North, Central and South American populations to, say, Asian and European genome sequences, we would see that the original Americans are more closely related to Asian populations. This matches up to geological studies that suggest that there once existed a Siberian land bridge, and allows us to make hypotheses about human migration patterns across the Earth (not all of those migrations have been voluntary, mind you).
We can, and have, done the same analysis by comparing modern and ancient samples from place X with modern and ancient African DNA, which is how we know that we the first members of our species left Eastern Africa about 70,000 years ago to settle the four corners of the Earth (which has no actual corners, of course).
However, like quick-drying cement, this analysis gets really hard, really fast (insert your own dirtier joke there if you like). Genetic fingerprints get jumbled thanks to the huge amount of genetic crossover that happens as part of our meotic sexytime, and because humans have interbred … a lot. Not in a gross (and genetically dangerous) “banjo player in Deliverance” way, but in a “we’re all related” way. We only have to go back 2,000-4,000 years before we find a person who is a common ancestor for every single human alive on Earth, and, for Europeans at least, anyone who was alive and had children 1,000 years ago is the ancestor of every person of European descent alive today.
So it only takes a few dozen generations before analysis of our crossed-over, interbred nuclear genomes gets so messy that we’re tracing complex statistics instead of neat and tidy family trees. So to make it easier, instead of nuclear genomes, we often compare the tiny, circular genomes that persist within our mitochondria.
You’ll recall from biology class (you were paying attention, right?!) that our mitochondria used to be free-living bacteria, complete with circular, prokaryotic genomes. While most of that ancient genome has disappeared (or migrated to our own nuclear genome), our cellular energy factories still hold a circle of DNA that gets passed down to baby mitochondria when a cell divides and when a mommy and daddy lie down (or stand up, or whatever page of the Kama Sutra they’re on) and do Grown Up Stuff™. What’s weird is that (probably because eggs are big and sperm are small) every one of your mitochondria came from your mom, not your dad.
By comparing mitochondrial genomes from the past with mitochondrial genomes from around the world today, we are fairly certain that one single female of the Homo sapiens crew, living in Africa about 100,000-200,000 years ago, is the ancestor of every living human being today. We call her Mitochondrial Eve. She wasn’t the only human female alive then, and she wasn’t the only human with mitochondria. She’s just the one whose kids ended up covering the Earth.
Yeah, people whose recent ancestors come from South Asia look different from people whose recent ancestors come from Sweden. But that’s just human genetic variation, the same way that I have blonde hair and my friends Jamie and Eric are orange-haired gingers.
People have grouped together (and often excluded other groups) throughout history for a variety of reasons, some of them good, and many of them unthinkably horrible. Because of this, our ancestors often bred with those close to them in geography as well as culture, reinforcing bits of human genetic variation in traits like skin color and facial features. We invented “race”. Evolution just made different kinds of people.
All of this is a long way of saying that while your original question doesn’t have an answer, studying genetic differences based on geography and culture is still important to science. Not because it shows us how we are different, but because it highlights our human connections, and reminds us of our shared experience and common origin in a world that could always use a bit more of that kind of thinking.
You know, it annoys me because I can get on a packed bus and there will be TONS of empty seats yet theres tons of people standing. Sometimes the bus is so full, barely anyone else can even fit on. Yet still theres empty seats.
Like why are people so afraid of sitting next to someone on a damn bus?
I think this is supposed to be hate mail, but it’s actually pretty funny, so.