L is for the immortal Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks passed away on October 4, 1951, at the age of 31. Yet her cancer cells are one of the most important cell lines in medical research.

Henrietta LacksHenrietta Lacks was a poor, young, black mother of five in rural Virginia. She was diagnosed at Johns Hopkins Hospital with cervical cancer. Dr. George Gey soon discovered “that Mrs. Lacks’ cells were unlike any of the others he had ever seen: where other cells would die, [her] cells doubled every 20 to 24 hours.”

This NPR story explains: “For the past 60 years Lacks’ cells have been cultured and used in experiments ranging from determining the long-term effects of radiation to testing the live polio vaccine. Her cells were commercialized and have generated millions of dollars in profit for the medical researchers who patented her tissue.”

These incredible cells— nicknamed “HeLa” cells, from the first two letters of her first and last names — “are used to study the effects of toxins, drugs, hormones, and viruses on the growth of cancer cells without experimenting on humans. They have been used… to study the human genome, to learn more about how viruses work.”

Rebecca Skloot is the author of the 2010 book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. She writes about the African-American woman who passed away on October 4, 1951, at the age of 31. Yet her cancer cells are one of the most important cell lines in medical research.

But Skloot also addresses “the collision between ethics, race, and medicine,” especially for Henrietta’s family, who, at the time of the book’s publication, could not afford health insurance. The writer founded The Henrietta Lacks Foundation in 2010, which has awarded more than 50 grants to many qualifying members of Henrietta Lacks’ immediate family for “health care and dental assistance, tuition and books, job training…” It has “also awarded education grants to the family members of the survivors of the Tuskegee Syphilis Studies.”

And in June of 2018: “A lawyer representing the eldest son and two grandsons of Henrietta Lacks, whose ‘immortal cells’ have been the subject of a best-selling book, a TV movie, a family feud, cutting-edge medical research, and a multibillion-dollar biotech industry, announced … that she plans to file a petition seeking ‘guardianship’ of the cells.

“The question we are dealing with is ‘Can the cells sue for mistreatment, misappropriation, theft and for the profits earned without their consent?'”

For ABC Wednesday

September rambling #1: chugging cognac, and Flowers on the Wall

If you work in a brick-and-mortar retail establishment, and if you tell me when I ask if you have something that I can only get it online, then you have lost me forever as a customer at said brick-and-mortar retail establishment.

voting.not
The $80 Million Fake Bomb-Detector Scam—and the People Behind It.

How the Photography of Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams Told the Story of Japanese American Internment.

John Scalzi on Hurricane Katrina, and poverty. “Being Poor,” Ten Years On.

The Truth of ‘Black Lives Matter’: “They are NOT asserting that black lives are more precious than white lives.”

Mr. Frog linked to Here’s How New Texas Public School Textbooks Write About Slavery.

No, Mount McKinley’s former and new name, “Denali,” does NOT mean “Black Power” in Kenyan. Or Swahili. Denali means “the great one” in the local Athabaskan language of Alaska.

Question: Why must we still talk about race? Answer: Twelve. And I Am a Racist.

Steve Cutts is a London-based illustrator and animator who uses powerful images to criticize the sad state modern life and society.

Is thyroid cancer the ‘good’ cancer? It doesn’t feel that way when you get it. Mentions Times Union blogger David Kalish.

How Jeb Bush’s Tax Cuts Suckered the Media.

Teen Boy Will Be Charged As Adult For Having Naked Pics of a Minor: Himself. If I hadn’t seen it on CBS News the day before, I would have thought it a hoax.

Tennessee mom calls Henrietta Lacks book ‘pornographic,’ seeks to have it banned in school; author Rebecca Skloot responds.

Damned Lies and Employment Statistics. “Yes, some ‘real’ unemployment rate is roughly double the official 5.1%. But there’s nothing sinister about that.”

1927 news report: Donald Trump’s dad arrested in KKK brawl with cops.

Women, Don’t Make That Bicycle Face.

Don’t Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone.

TV host John Oliver has become America’s social justice warrior, and he reminds us how little most of us know about geography.

My friend Steve Bissette wrote, and I totally agree: “Sure bet: If you work in a brick-and-mortar retail establishment, and if you tell me when I ask if you have something that I can only get it online, then you have lost me forever as a customer at said brick-and-mortar retail establishment. It’s not peevishness or pique, it’s just how it is.” Chuck Miller had a similar experience: Panera Bread and kiosk mentality.

I’m a Mom, Not A Martyr.

Becca Sunoo goes to Nantes. She’s the granddaughter of a couple at my church.

Matthew Gordon @ratherironic shows how well the Obama logo works for Trump with some simple color changes and rotation
See how the Obama logo can work for Trump with some simple changes in color and rotation. Kudos to Matthew Gordon @ratheironic

10 Insulting Words You Should Know.

What time is it, Oxford Dictionaries? How about almost ‘beer o’clock’?

Phantom vibration syndrome is common among those who use electronic devices.

A Woman Chugged an Entire Bottle of Cognac Rather than Give It to Airport Security.

A FEW MINUTES WITH… Booker T. Jones.

Weird Al 15-11. SamuraiFrog’s descriptions are great.

A History of Chris Christie’s Complicated Relationship With Bruce Springsteen.

From 2002: Art That Shook The World: The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, part 1 and part 2.

Music! Fisherman – The Congos.

Mark Evanier is listing the twenty top voice actors in American animated cartoons between 1928 and 1968. So far: Sterling Holloway (Winnie the Pooh); Mae Questel (Betty Boop, Olive Oyl); Jim Backus (Mr. Magoo); Pinto Colvig (Goofy).

Six-degrees of separation from Robert Crumb.

Why Craig Ferguson Really Left Late Night.

Muppets: Jimmy Dean and Rowlf and Flowers on the Wall; if you don’t know the original to the latter, it’s here.

Download Jim Rockford’s Answering Machine Messages as MP3s.

In honor of Labor Day: Americans Celebrate 10 Millionth ‘Bring Yourself To Work Day’.

DO NOT wash your hair in the shower!!

GOOGLE ALERT (me)

The original creators of any given comic book character or title always had the purest vision and did the best work on that character or title. Is that always the case, though? Plus What are the five most affecting graphic novels?

Dustbury reminds us of the anomalies of the Billboard charts when it comes to black music.

GOOGLE (ALERT (not me)

Australian golf: The eighteen-hole winner for Saturday’s Roger Green trophy “was Rick Bennett with a score of 59 net from Andrew McGrath on 61 net.”

June Ramblin’

From the Monty Python movie “Life of Brian”, What have the Romans ever done for us?

Just a reminder that you have only three more full days to enter my giveaway. Rules are on the sidebar, but basically, from now through July 3 at 11:59 EDT, every time you comment to a post, assuming you haven’t commented already to that specific piece, gives you a chance at some prizes, including a complete DVD box set of The Dick Van Dyke Show and a Michael Jackson greatest hits CD.


Speaking of Michael Jackson: in honor of the anniversary of his death this past week, the full-length video of Thriller, performed with Legos.


I KNEW there was a way to post something on Twitter and have it show up on Facebook, but couldn’t suss out the instructions. This really helped me. And, in fact, it was one of my Facebook friends who provided the link.


Author Rebecca Skloot has interesting info about her best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on her website, including audio, video, and an excerpt.

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.

Here’s a link about the book being discussed on PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

Nice tribute to 7’7″ Manute Bol, noted as a basketball player, but noteworthy because of his humanitarian causes, who died last week at 47.

I’ve always liked U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), who died this week at the age of 92. Even as his politics evolved, from his brief flirtation with the KKK to civil rights supporter, from Vietnam hawk to Iraq dove, his love of the U.S. constution remained steadfast. He died at 92 this week, and here is an appreciation.

This may make sense only if you know football; I mean, American football: Unsportsmanlike Conduct Jesus.

A singalong version of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, a song originally from the Monty Python movie “Life of Brian.” That always reminds me of my favorite segment of the film, What have the Romans ever done for us?

Neil Gaiman defends libraries.

visit4info – The Place for TV Adverts and Funny Video Clips from the UK