Jun. 17, 2012: And we are back!

The Cake Cutting

Well, it’s been a fantastic month, to say the least. My new wife and I spent two weeks in Jamaica after the wedding, and Becky and I will be periodically visiting family and friends across the U.S. for the next few weeks. With that in mind, let’s take it easy today, shall we?

Game 2 of the NBA Finals came down to the final seconds and a few disputed calls, but Miami’s 100-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder left the title round deadlocked 1-1. Oklahoma City hopes to win its first title since the franchise moved from Seattle in 2008 and became the state’s only professional team in a major sport. However, slow starts in the first two games of the series, as well as some poor shots by star point guard Russell Westbrook, have thrown a wrench into the Thunder’s plans to shut down Miami and earn their first NBA championship. Miami, on the other hand, aims to prove that taking on the superstar trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh was worthwhile. That notion, however, has been in considerable doubt over the last few months; the Heat had to fight to escape a 2-1 hole against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and the Boston Celtics pushed their way to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven conference finals before Miami claimed the last two games, narrowly escaping elimination. As Oklahoma City works toward faster starts and Miami hopes to overcome its inconsistency, the series now shifts back to the Heat’s home court for Game 3 at 8:00 p.m. tonight.

While it may not be a hot buzzword right now, cancer still affects the lives of millions around the world. Those who are fighting the deadly scourge will be interested to hear about a new study which may hold great promise for the future. Researchers at Leeds University in Great Britain injected 10 patients suffering from advanced bowel cancer with the common cold virus, which acted to kill cancer cells and to trigger an immune response for the body to fight the cancer, as well. More importantly, the cancer tumors themselves were not injected with the virus themselves — the need for direct tumor injections would have posed a major barrier to treatments. Instead, the cold virus was injected into the patients’ bloodstreams, where it then attached itself to blood cells and “hitched a ride” to the tumors, making the therapy quite simple to administer. Furthermore, reovirus treatments like this have been shown to target the cancerous cells without affecting normal tissue. In the future, this could be conducted as a simple outpatient procedure, much like chemotherapy is today, but without the severe side effects.

On Friday, Nik Wallenda became the first person to ever walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls. Prior to making his historic walk, Wallenda had to secure permission from both U.S. and Canadian authorities, the latter of whom granted a one-time exemption to its 128-year ban on stunts after a two-month argument over preserving the natural beauty of the Falls and the potential windfall for the region. Wallenda’s greatest weapon was an economic study showing that the unique event would bring in an estimated $120 million over the next five years. In the face of his evidence, even Wallenda’s greatest opponents were ultimately unable to refuse his request. It was also a tremendous media success, as approximately 13.1 U.S. viewers tuned into ABC on Friday to watch the man 200 feet above the falls, giving the network its highest Friday viewership since November 2007. Still, even Wallenda was not immune to the scrutiny of customs officials, to whom he had to present his passport after completing his 1,500 foot walk.

Scientists have been taking on some curious social questions as of late, including an array of studies on why homosexual men and women exist — an interesting notion, since one would expect any genes promoting homosexuality to fail to pass from one generation to the next and quickly vanish from the gene pool. Currently, theories on homosexuality range from ideas that gay mens’ mothers are more attractive, so the genes promoting homosexuality are more likely to be spread, to the idea that families function more effectively with two parents, so lesbianism developed as an evolutionary advantage when males throughout a community die: “If half the men in a tribe are killed in war, the remaining women would have a better chance of surviving if they paired up. It’s as simple as that.” Not to mention the idea that humans, like bees, can thrive in a community where a few procreate and the rest live as “drones,” unable to reproduce (or simply uninterested in doing so).

On the other hand, there’s probably no evolutionary advantage to be found from calling 911 over a sandwich order. That fact, though, was apparently lost on Connecticut man Rother McLennon. McLennon, a regular at East Hartford’s Greatful Deli, got into a spat with deli workers on Wednesday because he did not think they had made his 14 special-ordered sandwiches to his exact specifications. When they refused to take the custom sandwiches back, since they were specially made for him, he used the deli phone to call 911. As McLennon told the emergency dispatcher,

I specifically asked for little turkey, and little ham, a lot of cheese and a lot of mayonnaise and they are giving me a hard time. I wonder if you can stop by and just…

On Thursday, McLennon called the deli to apologize and to say that he will, indeed, order more sandwiches from Greatful Deli in the future. They must be so relieved.

Still, even that’s probably not quite as insane as the tale of Frank Rega, who was arraigned on Wednesday in connection with a hit-and-run incident on March 15, during which the Connecticut man allegedly hit a 23-year-old woman with his van. What makes this story unique is that the unlucky woman remained stuck to Rega’s fender, so he kept driving with her dangling off the front of the vehicle, even as she frantically yelled for him to stop and proceeded to hit him in the face when he ignored her pleas. Eventually the woman fell from the vehicle and suffered a head injury from striking the roadway. She was ultimately treated at a local hospital and released.

As for Rega, police questioned him later that day and administered a sobriety test, which he failed. But what was his reason for driving around town with a screaming woman dangling from his fender? Self-defense. Of course.

Other articles of interest:
Jerry Sandusky’s defense gets its turn, faces tall task in sex abuse trial
China launches its first woman into space
Secret Space Plane Shatters Orbital Record as Chinese Rival Looms
Neutrons Might Be Disappearing Into A Parallel World
Robot ‘baby’ learns language like a real infant
Phones gain ability to learn by touching
Apple announces new MacBook Pro with retina display, deeper Facebook integration, Google Maps rival at WWDC
Apple 1 computer and Steve Jobs Atari memo sold at auction
Here comes the greatest Internet landgrab in history
Facebook paid $10M to settle “oops, we used your face” ads
Ohio woman drives into crowd, injuring dozens
Oregon Man Infected With Plague After Being Bitten By a Cat

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