Benedict’s Remarks on the “Vatileaks” Story

“Events in recent days regarding the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness to my heart, though the firm conviction, that despite human weakness, despite difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit, and the Lord will never fail to give His aid in sustaining the Church on her journey. Nevertheless, some entirely gratuitous rumors have multiplied, amplified by some media, which went well beyond the facts, offering a picture of the Holy See that does not correspond to reality. I would like therefore to reiterate my confidence and my encouragement to my staff and to all those who, day in and day out, faithfully and with a spirit of sacrifice, quietly help me in fulfilling my ministry.”

Pope Benedict XVI

It’s hard to find a good overview of this story which doesn’t include a lot of wild speculation, but this one is adequate. Speculations about power struggles are misguided and informed more by gossip than fact, so read with care.

Jewish Gene Found in Indian Tribe

Israeli researchers have found the so-called “Ashkenazi mutation,” a genetic marker unique to European Jews, in a tribe of Indians in Colorado. They believe the gene was introduced into the tribe by a single Jewish male descended from Jews expelled from Spain in 1492.

A number of these Spanish Jews settled in the new world. As this 2008 article from Smithsonian points out, genetic markers have been found in the Spanish Catholic population of Colorado and New Mexico before, but never in a tribe of Native Americans.

The gene, BRCA1, is problematic because its mutation is linked to an aggressive form of breast cancer.

When normal and healthy, BRCA1 helps to protect breast and ovarian cells from cancer. An extremely long gene, it has thousands of DNA letters, each corresponding to one of four chemical compounds that make up the genetic code and run down either strand of the DNA double helix; a “misspelling”—a mutation—can occur at virtually any letter. Some are of no consequence, but the deletion of the chemicals adenine (A) and guanine (G) at a site 185 rungs into the DNA ladder—hence the name 185delAG—will prevent the gene from functioning. Then the cell becomes vulnerable to a malignancy. To be sure, most breast and ovarian cancers do not run in families. The cases owing to BRCA1 and a similar gene, BRCA2, make up less than 10 percent of cases overall.

By comparing DNA samples from Jews around the world, scientists have pieced together the origins of the 185delAG mutation. It is ancient. More than 2,000 years ago, among the Hebrew tribes of Palestine, someone’s DNA dropped the AG letters at the 185 site. The glitch spread and multiplied in succeeding generations, even as Jews migrated from Palestine to Europe. Ethnic groups tend to have their own distinctive genetic disorders, such as harmful variations of the BRCA1 gene, but because Jews throughout history have often married within their religion, the 185delAG mutation gained a strong foothold in that population. Today, roughly one in 100 Jews carries the harmful form of the gene variant.

ToneMatrix: Your Time Waster of the Day

Posting will be a bit light this week as I work on the October (yes, October) issue of Games. While you’re pining away for want of G&TM content, you can wile away the hours with ToneMatrix. The developer describes it as a “simple sinewave synthesizer triggered by an ordinary 16step sequencer. Each triggered step causes a force on the underlaying wave-map, which makes it more cute.” It’s the work of Andre Michelle, and it’s flat-out amazing in its addictive simplicity. If he converts this to a mobile app, he’ll make a pot of money.