MoJo Author Feeds: Joe Kloc | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Book Review: The Red Market <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><h3><span class="inline inline-left"><img width="200" height="300" class="image image-preview " title="" alt="" src=""></span>The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers</h3> <p>By Scott Carney</p> <p>WILLIAM MORROW</p> <p>Tragedy struck one evening in 2006, when an American girl, part of a student group the author was mentoring on a trip to India, fell from a rooftop and died. As Carney negotiated with police and insurance companies to get her body home, it struck him that "every corpse has a stakeholder." In his subsequent multi-year investigation of the international trade in blood and body parts, he talked to an Indian bone trafficker banished from his village for robbing graves, followed the trail of a kidnapping-adoption ring from Chennai to a quaint Midwestern town (a story first published in these pages), and exposed brokers who bought kidneys from desperate refugees in Indonesia. A fascinating read, <em>The Red Market</em> sheds needed light on what Carney calls "the darkest corners of our economic world."</p></body></html> Mixed Media Books Media Thu, 14 Jul 2011 23:13:01 +0000 Joe Kloc 120921 at John Work III: The Man the Blues Forgot <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As the story goes, the folklorist Alan Lomax was traveling around Mississippi with his recording equipment in the summer of 1941 when he came upon the house of a blues singer named McKinley Morganfield. Lomax <a href="" target="_blank">recorded</a> a few tracks for the Library of Congress and moved on, later mailing Morganfield a check for $20 and two copies of the record. What Lomax couldn't have known at the time was that Morganfield, better known today as <a href="" target="_blank">Muddy Waters</a>, was to become one of the most famous blues singers of all time&mdash;the undisputed king of the electric Chicago sound.</p> <p>Morganfield, along with Son House, went on to be known as one of Lomax's greatest discoveries. And while it may be true that without Lomax, we might never have heard of these artists, it's worth remembering that&mdash;despite what his own memoirs suggest&mdash;Lomax didn't actually discover either of them. That credit falls to a little-known black folklorist named <a href="" target="_blank">John Work III</a>, who died 44 years ago this month.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mixed-media/2011/04/john-work-alan-lomax-blues"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Mixed Media Media Music Mon, 02 May 2011 10:45:00 +0000 Joe Kloc 111522 at In Defense of Bob Dylan <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last Sunday, Bob Dylan <a target="_blank" href="">played</a> a show in Vietnam for the first time in his half-century long career. The tickets didn't sell well. Only half of the venue's 8,000 seats were filled when Dylan took the stage in his white cowboy hat and performed for two hours, ending the night with his 1974 hit "<a target="_blank" href="">Forever Young</a>." As with Dylan's two previous shows in Beijing and Shanghai, his omission of protest songs like "<a target="_blank" href="">Blowin' in the Wind</a>" and "<a target="_blank" href=";feature=related">The Times They Are a-Changin'</a>" was met with anger from Human Rights Watch and columnists like <a target="_blank" href="">Maureen Dowd</a>.</p> <p>"The idea that the raspy troubadour of '60s freedom anthems would go to a dictatorship and not sing those anthems is a whole new kind of sellout," she wrote of the China performances last week. "Sellout," of course, implies that Dylan traded some measure of his artistic integrity for profit on his tour of Asia. While he may have consciously neglected his protest songs, it's hard to imagine he did it to earn a few bucks.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mixed-media/2011/04/bob-dylan-china-protest"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Mixed Media Media Music Wed, 13 Apr 2011 22:30:00 +0000 Joe Kloc 108536 at The Mystery of Stack-O-Lee <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Christmas Day, 1895, a local pimp named "Stack" Lee Shelton walked into a St. Louis bar <a target="_blank" href="">wearing</a> pointed shoes, a box-back coat, and his soon-to-be infamous milk-white <a target="_blank" href="">John B. Stetson hat</a>. Stack joined his friend Billy Lyons for a drink. Their conversation settled on politics, and soon it grew hostile: Lyons was a <a target="_blank" href="">levee hand</a> and, like his brother-in-law&mdash;one of the richest black men in St. Louis at the time&mdash;a supporter of the Republican party. Stack had aligned himself with the local black Democrats. The details of their argument aren't known, but at some point Lyons snatched the Stetson off Stack's head. Stack demanded it back, and when Lyons refused, shot him dead.</p> <p>The story of Stack-O-Lee&mdash;or Stack O'Lee or Stagger Lee or Stack A Lee depending on who's singing&mdash;became the popular subject of murder ballads and blues songs in the early 20th century. In the liner notes of a new collection, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>People Take Warning: Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs, 1913-1938</em></a>, Tom Waits argues that most murder ballads are "just a cut above graffiti...the oral tabloids of the day." They were written by street singers to capitalize on the pulp appeal of violent local crimes. Certainly the ballad of Stack-O-Lee seems to have begun this way. But unlike most ballads of its time, Stack-O-Lee's has survived and flourished through the years. What accounts for the story's longevity?</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mixed-media/2011/04/stack-o-lee-stagolee-blues-murder-ballads"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Mixed Media Media Music Mon, 04 Apr 2011 10:45:00 +0000 Joe Kloc 106906 at A Goodbye to Bluesman Pinetop Perkins <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>New Orleans is connected to the small city of Wyoming, Minnesota, by 1,400 miles of road known as Highway 61. The highway, which passes through Clarksdale, Mississippi, the heart of Delta blues country in the early 20th century, is central to the stories we tell today about many of the region's musicians. It is where <a target="_blank" href="">Robert Johnson</a> is said to have made his deal with the devil, and where <a target="_blank" href="">Sonny Boy Williamson II</a> played at the <a target="_blank" href="">King Biscuit Time </a>radio show, the longest running American broadcast in history. Later, musicians like <a target="_blank" href="">Muddy Waters</a> no doubt took Highway 61 north on their way to Chicago, where they would electrify the delta sound. And this Saturday, Highway 61 will have one more claim to its title as the "Blues Highway" when 97-year-old bluesman <a target="_blank" href="">Pinetop Perkins</a>, who died on March 21, will be <a target="_blank" href="">buried</a> alongside it.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mixed-media/2011/03/pinetop-perkins-delta-blues"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Mixed Media Media Music Mon, 28 Mar 2011 11:00:00 +0000 Joe Kloc 105631 at Japanese Nuclear Reactor Systems Drawn Like a NYC Subway Map <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Workers in Japan are still pouring seawater on overheating nuclear reactor rods at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in an effort to decrease the risk of further meltdowns. (Read <em>Mother Jones</em>' detailed and regularly updated <a target="_blank" href="">explainer on the current situation</a>.) Here's what they're up against, as Kate Sheppard and Josh Harkinson explained shortly after the emergency began:</p> <blockquote> <p>There are six boiling-water reactors on the site, though only three were in operation at the time of the earthquake. These systems, designed by General Electric, rely on an influx of water to cool the reactor core. But the water systems require electricity that was cut off by the earthquake. It also appears that something&mdash;the initial quake, the tsunami, or aftershocks&mdash;knocked the site's back-up generators offline. Without the cooling system bringing in water, the core of a reactor will start to overheat&mdash;which in turn heats up the water already in the system and causes more of it to turn to steam. Emergency responders have been forced to vent some of the steam, releasing radiation, in order to prevent the containment domes from exploding. They are in a race against the clock to bring in new water supplies before the reacting nuclear fuel heats up beyond control.</p> </blockquote> <p>When I couldn't find a schematic that showed the Fukushima reactors' failed cooling systems in relation to their various other workings, I set out to remedy the problem in a visually accessible way. Think of the schematic diagram below like a <a target="_blank" href=";imgrefurl=;h=1247&amp;w=963&amp;sz=388&amp;tbnid=Hg5wlNVfz211qM:&amp;tbnh=150&amp;tbnw=116&amp;prev=/images%3Fq%3DNYC%2BSubway&amp;zoom=1&amp;q=NYC+Subway&amp;usg=__7mFLzdqXKHaGCGyJAjxfW4CqM-M=&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=du2DTdfaHIbSsAOtptmHAg&amp;ved=0CGAQ9QEwCA">New York City subway map</a>. It shows the various components, connections, and relationships between the emergency water systems inside the Fukushima's five GE Mark I reactors. (A sixth reactor is a similar, though slightly newer, design.) It is based on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's <a target="_blank" href="">Boiling Water Reactor Systems Manual</a>, which contains drawings of the various Mark I emergency systems. In places where the manual was unclear, I consulted Japanese <a target="_blank" href="">news</a> <a target="_blank" href="">broadcasts</a>. The drawings are not to scale and the layout of the pipes entirely my own (their location in relation to the various containment walls is based on the NRC manual).</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="">Click here for an animated version of the diagram.</a></p> <p class="rteindent2"><span class="inline inline-left"><img height="640" width="552" alt="Mark I Reactor: Components of the Mark I Reactor" title="Mark I Reactor: Components of the Mark I Reactor" class="image image-preview" src=""><span class="caption" style="width: 550px;"><strong>Mark I Reactor Components: </strong>(A) Uranium fuel rods; (B) Steam separator and dryer assemblies (C) Graphite control rods; (D) Vent and head spray; (E) Reactor vessel; (F) Feedwater inlet; (G) Low pressure coolant injection inlet; (H) Steam outlet; (I) Core spray inlet; (J) Jet pump; (K) Recirculation pump; (L) Concrete shell "drywell"; (M) Venting system; (N) Suppression pool; (O) Boron tank; (P) Condensate storage tank; (Q) High pressure coolant injection system; (R) HCIS turbine; (S) Automatic depressurization system; (T) Main turbine; (U) Connection to generator; (V) Condenser; (W) Circulating water; (X) Connection to outside service water; (Y) Concrete shield plug; (Z) Control rod drives. Illustrations by Joe Kloc.<br></span></span></p> <p class="rteindent2"><span class="inline inline-left"><img height="640" width="552" alt="Mark I Reactor Running Normally: TKTKTKTK" title="Mark I Reactor Running Normally: TKTKTKTK" class="image image-preview" src=""><span class="caption" style="width: 550px;"><strong>Mark I Reactor Running Normally:</strong> Recirculation loops (RED) keep pressurized water circulating through the uranium core of the reactor. When water is heated by the uranium core it turns to steam. It passes through the steam separator and dryer assemblies positioned above the core (ORANGE) and then moves through the steam pipe. The steam is used to turn a turbine connected (PURPLE) to an electrical generator. It is then turned back into liquid by a condenser and cooled by a pipe (GREY) of circulating cold water. The water is then pumped back into the reactor, where the process begins again.</span></span></p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2011/03/japan-reactor-diagram"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Energy Science Top Stories Tue, 22 Mar 2011 10:00:00 +0000 Joe Kloc 104831 at The Last Trace of Amede Ardoin <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><strong>Amede Ardoin<br><em>Mama, I&rsquo;ll Be Long Gone</em><br> Tompkins Square Records</strong></p> <p>While <a target="_blank" href=";pg=PA51&amp;dq=Amede+Ardoin&amp;hl=en&amp;ei=J0dxTY_4GIOqsAPouf3PCw&amp;sa=X&amp;oi=book_result&amp;ct=result&amp;resnum=1&amp;ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&amp;q=Amede%20Ardoin&amp;f=false">playing</a> his accordion at a local farmhouse in Eunice, Louisiana, in the late 1930s, Creole musician Amede Ardoin wiped his brow with a handkerchief given to him by a white woman. Two white men angered by the exchange between Ardoin and the woman followed him outside, where they beat him, backed over him with a Ford Model A truck and threw him in a ditch. He woke up crippled, with permanent brain damage. Fellow musician Canray Fontenot <a target="_blank" href="">remembers</a> how that night changed his friend: After that, "he didn't know whether he was hungry or not.... He was plumb crazy."</p> <p>That's the point when Amede Ardoin, known today as the father of Cajun and Zydeco music, seemed to vanish. His friends&mdash;at least the ones who would later help compile the scant record we have of Ardoin's life&mdash;appeared to lose track of him. In fact, the only official traces of Amede Ardoin are his draft registration <a href=";pg=PA51&amp;dq=Amede+Ardoin&amp;hl=en&amp;ei=J0dxTY_4GIOqsAPouf3PCw&amp;sa=X&amp;oi=book_result&amp;ct=result&amp;resnum=1&amp;ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&amp;q=Amede%20Ardoin&amp;f=false" target="_blank">card</a>, his name on a Census count, one washed-out <a href="" target="_blank">photograph</a>, and 34 recordings he made between 1929 and 1934, rereleased this month in one collection for the first time.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/mixed-media/2011/03/amede-ardoin-cajun-zydeco-mardi-gras"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Mixed Media Music Top Stories Mon, 07 Mar 2011 11:45:00 +0000 Joe Kloc 103076 at You're Trammeling My Bears <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>When Congress passed the Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964, they <a target="_blank" href="">defined</a> "wilderness" as an area "untrammeled by man." The thinking was that if only certain activities like hiking, camping and biking were permitted in a space, the human impact would be negligible. But a new <a target="_blank" href="">study</a> published on March 3 in the open access journal PLoS ONE shows that even these minor activities alter the ecosystems we want so badly to preserve.</p> <p>A group of researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada placed more than 40 cameras on hiking trails and roads in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta to observe how even mild human traffic alters the ecosystem. They found that on roads and trails trafficked by more than 18 visitors a day, large predators like wolves, black bears, grizzlies and cougars were less abundant than they would be in the wild. Furthermore, they found that on roads trafficked by more than 32 people a day, the number of small prey increased by 300%.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/blue-marble/2011/03/why-bears-hate-campers"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Blue Marble Climate Change Science Fri, 04 Mar 2011 18:47:14 +0000 Joe Kloc 102881 at The Illustrated Guide to Epigenetics <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This month marks the <a href="" target="_blank">ten-year anniversary</a> of the sequencing of the human genome, that noble achievement underpinning the less noble sales of <a target="_blank" href="">23andMe</a>'s <a target="_blank" href="">direct-to-consumer genetic tests</a>. To commemorate the scientific occasion, we've created an illustrated introduction to one subfield of genetics likely to produce even more dubious novelty science projects someday:&nbsp;epigenetics.</p> <p><strong>What is epigenetics? </strong>Human life begins as a single cell equipped with all of the genetic information&mdash;known as the <a target="_blank" href="">genome</a>&mdash;it will need to develop into a full-grown adult. Through a process of repeated <a target="_blank" href=";feature=related">cell division</a>, this cell eventually multiplies into tens of trillions of cells, each containing a complete copy of the genome. Despite having identical genetic information, these trillions of cells somehow develop into hundreds of different cell types&mdash;from brain to liver cells&mdash;that make up the human body (<strong>FIGURE 1</strong>). Figuring out how one genome can produce so many different types of cells is, in a nutshell, the project of a subfield of genetics known as epigentics.</p> <p><span class="inline inline-left"><span class="inline inline-left"><img width="640" height="183" class="image image-preview" title="FIGURE 1: Epigenetic Step: A single cell. Illustrations by Joe Kloc" alt="FIGURE 1: Epigenetic Step: A single cell. Illustrations by Joe Kloc" src=""><span style="width: 638px;" class="caption"><strong>FIGURE 1: </strong>Through a process called mitosis, a single cell (A) splits into two cells&nbsp;(B) with identical genetic information. The process continues producing many stem cells (C) each capable of developing into a number of different cell types&mdash;in this case a white blood cell (D) and a neuron (E). The epigenome determines what type of cell a stem cell will become.</span></span></span><strong>The basic ide</strong><strong>a</strong>: Consider an organism's genome to be a sort of how-to manual that contains instructions for every possible task required for a complex living creature to survive. Each cell in the body has a copy of the book. However, a brain cell might want to use the chapter on <a target="_blank" href="">synapses</a>, whereas a blood cell might use the chapter on fighting infections. The epigenome&mdash;a group of molecules that package the genome&mdash;tells each cell which part of the manual to read.</p> <p><span class="inline inline-left"><img width="300" height="301" src="" alt="FIGURE 1: Nucleosome: DNA coils around proteins called histones, forming a nucleosome. Illustration by Joe Kloc" title="FIGURE 1: Nucleosome: DNA coils around proteins called histones, forming a nucleosome. Illustration by Joe Kloc" class="image image-preview"><span class="caption" style="width: 298px;"><strong>FIGURE 2: </strong>DNA coils around proteins called histones, forming a nucleosome. (Note: This is a simplified drawing. In reality DNA&nbsp;wraps twice around a core group of eight histones.) </span></span><strong>How is the genome packaged by the epigenome?</strong> The familiar double-helix strands of DNA are <a href="" target="_blank">packed tightly</a> inside the nucleus of each cell using proteins called histones. In the simplest terms, these proteins act as little spools around which segments of a DNA strand are coiled, forming what are known as nucleosomes (<strong>FIGURE 2</strong>). From there, this thread of nucleosomes (sometimes referred to as "<a href="" target="_blank">beads-on-a-string</a>") is woven into a ropelike structure called chromatid, which is itself then woven into a chromosome. The epigenome consists in part of the spool-like histones that facilitate the development of the <a target="_blank" href="">chromosome</a>. (We'll get to the other molecules in the next section.) &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>How does the epigenome work?</strong> Segments of DNA contain bits of codes, known as genes, that tell cells&mdash;and ultimately the body&mdash;how to develop. Access to these genes is mainly controlled in two ways in the epigenome:</p> <blockquote> <ol><li>Molecular "caps" called methyl groups can be attached to genes in order to effectively block them from giving instructions to the cell (<strong>FIGURE&nbsp;3</strong>).</li> <li>The spool-like histones can coil the DNA so tightly that certain genes become unreadable to the cells (<strong>FIGURE 4</strong>).</li> </ol></blockquote> <p><span class="inline inline-right"><img width="286" height="286" src="" alt="FIGURE 2: DNA Methylation: Methyl groups attach themselves to base pairs of a gene, changing the way it is expressed." title="FIGURE 2: DNA Methylation: Methyl groups attach themselves to base pairs of a gene, changing the way it is expressed." class="image image-preview"><span class="caption" style="width: 284px;"><strong>FIGURE 3:&nbsp;</strong>Methyl groups attach themselves to base pairs of a gene, changing the way the gene is expressed.</span></span>In these two ways the epigenome controls which genes ultimately get expressed. Cells perform different functions not because they have different genomes, but because they have different patterns of methyl groups and histones controlling which genes are expressed. Thus, the DNA in each type of cell is identical&mdash;its epigenetic counterpart is not<span style="font-weight: bold;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">W</span><strong>here do the different epigenomes come from?</strong> Think for a moment about the idea that every type of cell has an identical genome and yet a different epigenome and an apparent paradox crops up: How can different types of epigenomes develop from the same genome?</p> <p>The genome encodes a basic structure for the epigenome. This basic structure is more-or-less identical in each cell. That initial framework is then molded into a unique epigenome by <a href="" target="_blank">signals coming from other cells</a> in the body. Where a particular cell's epigenome is located in relation to other cells, then, determines how it will be shaped by cell signaling. This makes intuitive sense, as cells in the developing portion of the body that will become the brain are exposed to similar epigenome-shaping signals. The end result is that those cells have similar epigonomes and thus become similar&mdash;if not the same&mdash;types of cells<span style="font-weight: bold;">.</span></p> <p><span class="inline inline-left"><span class="inline inline-left"><img width="640" height="325" src="" alt="FIGURE 4: Histone Modification: When DNA is coiled loosely around histones, nearby genes are readable." title="FIGURE 4: Histone Modification: When DNA is coiled loosely around a histone, nearby genes are readable." class="image image-preview"><span class="caption" style="width: 638px;"><strong>FIGURE 4:&nbsp;</strong>When DNA is coiled loosely around histones, nearby genetic information is readable. (Note: As in Figure 2, this is a simplified drawing. In realitiy, DNA wraps twice around each core group of histones in order to create a nucleosome).</span></span></span><strong>Why do scientists care? </strong>As the waypoint between our genetic information and our environment, the epigenome is affected by things like food, pollution, toxic chemicals, and stress. And when these factors alter our epigenomes, they consequently alter the way our genes are expressed, which can contribute to the development of cancer and other diseases. Understanding the epigenome may allow us to counteract the changes it undergoes because of environmental factors.<strong><br></strong></p> <p><strong>Find out more:</strong> The above is a basic explainer on epigentics and the function of the epigenome. If you're still confused about the fundamental concepts, NOVA has a <a href="" target="_blank">good animation</a> of how epigenetic mechanisms control gene expression (skip to 4:20 in the video). The <em>New York Times </em>also has a <a href="" target="_blank">well-illustrated</a> <a href="" target="_blank">article</a> on efforts to map the human epigenome. For a more technical perspective check out the National Institutes of Health's <a href="" target="_blank">Epigenomics Program</a>, which offers an overview of the epigenome and some of its potential health implications. The NIH&nbsp;also has a roundup of selected epigenetics <a href="" target="_blank">studies.</a></p></body></html> Environment Health Care Science Tue, 08 Feb 2011 11:00:00 +0000 Joe Kloc 97581 at Sam Cooke's Wild Side <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><strong>Sam Cooke</strong><br><strong><em>Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963</em></strong><br><strong>RCA</strong></p> <p>Eighty years ago last Saturday, Sam Cooke was <a href="" target="_blank">born</a> in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He started out as a gospel singer, and when he switched to recording secular music his smooth style made him an instant success. In the short 33 years before he was <a href="" target="_blank">killed</a> by a motel manager in Los Angeles, California, he wrote and recorded 29 Top 40 soul hits. In 2008, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Rolling Stone</em></a> ranked his voice as the fourth-greatest of all time, behind only Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Elvis Presley. But Cooke didn't always stick to the polished sound that made him famous. As his often-overlooked album <a target="_blank" href=""><em>Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963</em></a> reveals, there were two very different sides to Mr. Soul.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/riff/2011/01/sam-cooke-harlem-square-club-review"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Riff Music Mon, 24 Jan 2011 16:36:00 +0000 Joe Kloc 96336 at