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“The Modified Genome”
by Dr. John W. Steele
HSU Department of Biological Sciences

With the recent discovery of the bacterial CRISPR/Cas9 system, research around genome engineering, modification, and gene-directed therapies have exploded into highly productive and often controversial scientific discoveries. These tools are relatively easy and inexpensive to use, increasing the rate and depth of study of genes, genomes, and organisms. But what is the CRISPR/Cas9 system? What is genome engineering and modification? What does it mean to be a genetically modified organism? How are we using genome engineering and modification to study and solve human disease, or diseases of other organisms? Are we ready for a world in which we can tailor the genome of any organism to fit our needs? Dr. Steele’s talk will focus on what these tools are, where they come from, how they work, how his lab uses these tools to study human neurodegenerative disease, and some of the many applications of genome engineering in modern science. He will host a conversation about the potential benefits and risks of a world in which genome modification is easier than it looks.

Free and all ages welcome!
Delicious food and drink available for purchase!

Wednesday November 1, at 6:00 p.m.

At Blondies Food & Drink, 420 East California Ave., Arcata

Hosted by Science on Tap


I was in the second grade when I first started reading the sports section of the SF Chronicle.  It was easy to find because it was one of two green parts of the paper.  The business section was green and usually had the comics.  I would read the comics first then read up on the Giants’ games and other stories.

I don’t know whether it was before or after the Battle of the Sexes, but I took interest in Billie Jean King at some point.  I watched a few of her games even though I knew nothing about tennis.  I remember a championship match at Wimbledon or the US Open which was rained out and had to be played the following day when King defeated Chris Evert.  I think that was the first tennis match I ever watched.

I remember at some point reading that she was going to be playing against a man.  I remember some of the hype through the summer while I was living in Pacifica having finished the 3rd grade and as we were preparing to move to Montara.  The game took place sometime after we moved.  A lot was happening in my life at the time, and I associate them with this match.  I don’t know exactly the timing, but I remember seeing her at Candlestick Park at some point where she was watching her brother Randy Moffit pitch for the Giants.  I think we were out of the house when the match was televised, but I remember the players warming up together the day before and some clips of their warm up was aired on the news.  They were serious, but also engaging each other.  They seemed like friends.

I remember really hoping that King would win.  A friend of the family told me that it probably wouldn’t happen.  Bobby Riggs had already beaten a woman “just as good as Billie Jean King.”  I remember assuming erroneously that he had beaten Chris Evert, her chief rival at the point I was interested.  I remember feeling relieved at the news the following evening – Billie Jean King had won.

I didn’t know the word “feminism” at the time.  I knew that my mother and nearly all the women I knew were “women’s libbers.”  They were all really happy about it.  So were the men.

I didn’t really think about it for a long time after that.  The next tennis match I watched was while visiting family in Bellingham.  Arthur Ashe defeated Jimmy Connors to be the first black man to win Wimbledon.  A year later I would pick up a tennis racquet for the first time in my life when I took a tennis class for summer school at Half Moon Bay High School.  In high school I would play for the team.  I was never really good.  Really powerful flat serve.  I could follow it in to the net and win some points with volleys, but the longer the point went the more likely I would get into trouble.  Too much thinking.  Always.

I took interest in watching the professionals.  In the first match I watched on KQED (the only sports I ever saw on PBS) was between a young John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors in Cincinnati.  Connors won.  It was the first and last match between them I would watch in which Connors won.

I watched regularly from then on, both men and women.  Occasionally I saw Billie Jean King.  But she had passed her prime and was no longer in the top 10 as the tournaments were dominated by the likes of Martina Navratilova, Tract Austin, and King’s old rival Chris Evert.  I always rooted for King.  I was sentimental over a match I hadn’t watched.

Somewhere in the years between the Battle of the Sexes and my teenage tennis watching, I saw a rerun Odd Couple episode with Bobby Riggs guest starring, and playing himself as kind of a parody of himself.  Billie Jean King made a cameo appearance at the end of the episode.  I think I was about 12 or 13 when I saw it.  I became convinced that Riggs was privately a feminist who played knowing he would probably lose, and hoping it would make a difference for women.  After watching the film and reading up on some of the history to clarify and fill in aspects of the film, I remain so convinced.


The film is entitled “Battle of the Sexes.”  I took my family to see it last weekend and I strongly recommend it. I had been concerned about the lack of creativity in the title – that it would be a lackluster docudrama with a made-for-TV aesthetic. Actually, that had already been done in an effort entitled “When Billie Beat Bobbie,” with a script so insipid, even greats like Holly Hunter and Ron Silver in the main parts couldn’t salvage it.

But the Battle of the Sexes is art.  Great camera work, great use of imagery to bring the viewer back into the seventies, great use of music.  The tennis doubles did wonders.  Actually, I’m not familiar with Bobby Riggs’s and Margaret Court’s play styles, but the BJK double perfectly caught the way she moved, including her phenomenal backhand volley.  The acting is phenomenal and the writing was compelling and tight.  And somehow it manages to avoid being too preachy when the very history depicted is inherently preachy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Lost Coast Communications recently put up another station in “the Lounge.” Chuck Rogers is hosting a monthly show called the “Humboldt Chronicles” which will feature discussion about local history. I was honored with an invitation to be interviewed on their pilot show along with archeologist Nick Angeloff. It was a lot of fun. I gave Chuck a slew of names to contact for future shows, but you may have additional ideas.

Here’s a link to the archive of the show.


As always – this is an equal opportunity blog with regard to political announcements.  The campaign press release:

Eureka, CA – Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Virginia Bass announced today she’s seeking re-election to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors in the June 2018 election. She will kick off her re-election campaign next Tuesday, October 24th at 5:15 pm at the Eureka Woman’s Club, located at 1531 J Street in Eureka and the public is invited.

Bass highlighted some of her accomplishments during her most recent term in office, including efforts to address the issues of homelessness, provide affordable housing for low-income seniors, and facilitate job creation and economic development.  Supervisor Bass also supported efforts to establish a regulatory framework for cannabis cultivators and related industries in an effort to encourage them to come into compliance after voters passed Proposition 64, which will allow for the recreational adult use of cannabis beginning 2018.

On the issue of homelessness, Supervisor Bass established the Community Homeless Improvement Project (CHIP) in partnership with the County of Humboldt and the City of Eureka, bringing stakeholders together from the non-profit, law enforcement and local government sectors to collaboratively confront the homeless issue. This led to the creation of the Mobile Intervention Services Team (MIST), combining social workers with law enforcement on our streets to address mental illness amongst the homeless population and connect those people to the needed services.

Supervisor Bass also facilitated efforts to provide affordable housing for low-income seniors and homeless residents through the development of “The Lodge”, an infill development in close proximity to public transit and other services in Eureka.  In an effort to strengthen our local economy, Supervisor Bass has been a steadfast supporter of local small businesses. She spearheaded efforts to allow underutilized properties zoned for coastal dependent industry to be repurposed on an interim basis for other uses along the Samoa peninsula, ensuring the revitalization of those properties and surrounding infrastructure.

“It’s an honor to represent the residents of Humboldt County as your 4th District Supervisor.  It’s important that we work together to find collaborative solutions to the problems that affect us all.  I couldn’t do what I do without my fellow Board members, our great staff, the City of Eureka and public input.  I will continue to address the homeless issues, provide affordable housing for our low-income residents and increase job creation through common-sense reforms that help our local small businesses,” Bass said upon announcing her re-election bid.  “Yet at the same time, I want to leverage my experience and knowledge as your County Supervisor and a representative for regional and statewide organizations to bring more solutions, resources and dollars to Humboldt County to protect our environment, support local job creation and increase our supply of affordable housing. We will continue to make inroads with the mental health, addiction and homeless issues.  I look forward to continue listening and meeting with residents to hear your concerns within your own neighborhoods and our county as a whole,” Bass added.

Supervisor Bass currently serves in numerous countywide, regional and statewide posts, including the Board of Directors for Humboldt County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) and Redwood Region Economic Development Commission (RREDC).  Supervisor Bass is also the 2nd Vice President for the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), the 1st Humboldt County female representative to ever hold the position, and the 1stHumboldt County official to serve as an officer with the organization since 1940.

Virginia Bass is a lifelong Eureka resident.  She currently represents Humboldt County’s 4th Supervisorial District, which encompasses most of the City of Eureka and the unincorporated coastal peninsula communities of Fairhaven and Samoa.  Supervisor Bass formerly served as a Eureka City Councilmember and Eureka Mayor prior to being elected to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors in 2010.

Bob Froehlich and I are going to take up that really uncomfortable discussion about free speech vs. social justice. We are going to use the hour to frame the issue for a future discussion involving two activists of color with very different views. Tomorrow our discussion will focus on some of the recent campus events, what the First Amendment protects, and what/who it protects from. As always, 7:00 p.m.

This is our draft framework:

On college campuses some professors, as well as other students, have been subject to administrative sanctions, resulting from ideas presented or opinions given, that upset other students. Also, controversial speakers have been prevented from speaking by demonstrators or the institution has been forced to disinvite or cancel events that featured controversial speakers. New terms like “trigger warnings”, “safe spaces”, and “cultural appropriation” have become common place and old terms like “Race Traitor” and “Gaslighter” (after the 1944 mystery-thriller film about a woman whose husband slowly manipulates her into believing that she is going insane) have been revived. The common denominator to these events is the very dramatic tension between Free Speech and Social Justice- the topic of tonight’s show.

  • The extreme of the Free Speech position is: any communication should be allowed except that which has been specifically excluded from First Amendment Protection by legal interpretations– for example “fighting words, etc. (Slogan = “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”)
  • The extreme of the Social Justice Position is: any speech that upsets any individual should not be allowed. Quote: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”-Maya Angelou ( American poet and civil rights activist.)

Somewhere in the show define what is and what is not protected by the the first amendment and what constitutes “Hate Speech.” 


Societies for Poetic Action, an artist group located in Eureka that creates art and actions for ecological and social justice causes, is embarking on a year-long project creating a “People’s Map of Eureka,” as part of our effort toward a more engaged and participatory community. Cultural mapping is a valuable tool that enables us to understand and share culture, to re-think history, and to promote creativity and development.

At 3pm on Saturday, October 21 we will launch the project at a Community Meeting at Synapsis Nova, 212 G Street, Suite 102, Eureka. The members of Societies for Poetic Action will introduce the project through a creative, interactive dialogue with the community.



NBC says it didn’t move forward with Farrow’s story on the Weinstein sexual assault/harassment history because the story lacked “the elements.”  What the missing elements were is anybody’s guess.  The New Yorker ran with the very same story according to Farrow in a Rachel Maddow interview.

It just, you know, “lacked the elements.”  Kind of like the Austrian Emperor to Mozart in Amadeus.  “There are too many notes.  Just cut a few.”

Here’s part of the interview, but you might want to go to the site and watch the whole story.

Governor Brown signs into law SB 54 and some other great bills recognizing that undocumented immigrants are people.  It’s not everything I want, but it’s a great statement.

Trump and ICE are already throwing tantrums.

Also these other bills, as reported from SFGate.

SB68 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County): Expands a state law allowing undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition. Previously, the law said undocumented students had to have spent three years at a California high school and graduated. Under the new law, students can count years spent at a California community college or adult education courses toward the three-year requirement for in-state tuition.

SB156 by Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine (San Diego County): Requires the California Department of Veterans Affairs and California National Guard to help undocumented immigrants serving in the military and veterans with their applications for citizenship.

SB257 by Lara: Allows students whose undocumented immigrant parents are deported to continue to attend their school regardless of where they or their parents reside.

SB29 by Lara: Prevents cities and counties from entering into new or modified contracts with for-profit immigration detention facilities.

AB21 by Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose: Requires colleges and universities that offer Cal Grants to create policies that safeguard their campuses from immigration officials by ensuring personal information of students and faculty is not released and by notifying students and faculty when immigration agents are on campus.

AB299 by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier (Los Angeles County): Bars public agencies from compelling landlords to disclose immigration information on tenants.

AB343 by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento: Allows in-state tuition at California community colleges for Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have special immigrant visas to work with the American military.

AB699 by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach: Requires the state attorney general to develop model policies by April on how public schools can limit immigration enforcement on their campuses and requires school districts to adopt the policy or a similar policy by July.

AB450 by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco: Requires employers to ask for a judicial warrant before allowing federal immigration officials into a workplace and bars employers from sharing their employees’ confidential information, such as Social Security numbers, without a subpoena.

AB291 by Chiu: Bars landlords from threatening to report a tenant to immigration officials.

SB54 by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles: Sets limits on when local law enforcement agencies can help the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on deportation cases.


Taken by Brendan O’Loughlin


The NRA, the President, and Congress all offered their thoughts and prayers.  Thom Hartman played this over the radio this morning.


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