Is Washington Working?

Last night I had this train of thought run through my head.

Since he has been elected President Trump appears to be ‘getting things done’ by Executive Order. Each day that goes by he’s signed E-O’s to make things happen. And the media dotes on this. And on his tweets. And on scrutinizing and questioning what his Press Secretary says next.

Then a little voice says “But sooner or later he has to work together with Congress and get things actually done, doesn’t he?”

Which left me wondering if they, Congress, are sitting there spellbound like the rest of the world waiting to see what he does next. What he says or tweets next.

And then I mentally ‘stepped back’ and thought about the Government as a whole.

He has fired every Ambassador and as far as I know replacements aren’t ready and on their way to embassies in foreign lands.

He’s put a hiring freeze on for civil service positions. And he has transition teams visiting all these government departments looking for cost cutting measures and means. Imagine what its like to be in one of those offices when that hatchet team arrives . . .

He’s put a stop to external communications by government departments primarily because he doesn’t like it when they counter the ‘alternative reality’ he appears to live in.

I remember when our little town had its last election and the new administration spent its first couple of months embattled with the community and morale at city hall got bad. People were worried about what might happen next and not a lot of forward progress was made during that time. Mistakes were made by people under stress. It was a dark time down at City Hall.

So with the Chill that Trump and friends have thrown into the Civil Service and the distraction He has become I was left wondering how well Washington is working these days . . .

UPDATE: Just 2 days after posing this question I see this headline in the Washington Post: The State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned
This is not good. Not good for the USA and since the USA is not alone in this world it’s Not Good for the rest of us either. I understand the feelings that might be pushing people to these actions but I have to ask Who will they be replaced with?
This may not be the only department of the government where this will happen. If good people with professional credentials are replaced ‘in a hurry’ how do we know their replacements will stand up for the truth, and all of America, and not simply be following Executive Orders?
At what point will otherwise law abiding working people completely stop trusting their government? Stop paying into it? Stop obeying it?
If all the non-sycophants turn their backs on government then the vacuum they leave behind will be filled with those whose only real qualification is following orders – yes-people . . . that’s not a prescription for a well functioning government that represents the best interests of the people. It’s not a government for the people, by the people.

applied science

Slashes Need No Longer Lead to Scary Scars

Get slashed and you end up with a scar. Thus it has been since, well … forever.

When I as very young my brother and I had a sort of competition going for a while. Who had more stitches. Whether you put that down to us being Boys or it being the 1950s or whatever it was us. I was older and had an edge on him. Then, around 5, his foot got caught in an escalator . . . and he jumped ahead so far I didn’t want to catch up. And luckily I haven’t.

We start out life with smooth, relatively feature-free, skin. As we grow and experience life we bump into things, fall down, get injured and there’s often a recording on our skin. In scars. So later on we can say ‘This was when the knife slipped’ and ‘That was when the cat freaked out’. Or have little boy competitions.

Storied scars are one thing but not all scars are to be proud of and many we’d rather not be sporting for the rest of our lives. Scars that disfigure, especially the face, profoundly change the way the world perceives you and not usually in a good way. Your life can take a completely different path, options available to your cohort become implicitly or explicitly denied to you because of your appearance. Like is hard enough without all these added negative things is it not?

Why is the skin tissue that grows into the space left behind so different from the skin tissue that is already there? Why doesn’t the same kind of tissue grow into it?

It turns out that the type of tissue that grows back contains a lot of myofibroblasts. These cells are good for wound repair because they can utilize mechanical contraction via smooth muscle type actin-myosin complex. Essentially this means they can attach and pull. But unlike fat cells found in normal skin tissue the resulting tissue is a scar.

This myofibroblast rich tissue also doesn’t allow for hair growth and in looking into that researchers have figured out a few things which may lead to greatly reduced disfigurement from scars.

When they looked at regenerating hair follicles in the area of damage they found that chemical signals from the follicles were making the myofibroblasts change into adipocytes (fat cells). This is another example of cell reprograming with chemistry without the need to resort to stem cells. I’ve posted a number of times on this technique in the past.

The chemical in this case is Bone Morphogenetic Protein. The researchers see more utility for this technique beyond scars. A condition where tissue becomes adipocyte lean happens with HIV patients. Adipocyte loss is also an effect of the aging process where it leads to permanent deep wrinkles not currently treatable. If this process could be ameliorated or better managed the visually unappealing facial effects of aging might one day be a relic of a bygone era. Considering the amount of money spent on fighting the effects of again on appearance I cannot imagine that research into this will starve for funding.

This is all lab research now but it shows a possible path forward. Better living through biochemistry.

Find out more about all that in this article on ScienceDaily.

Some simple searching on scar tissue shows there are a number of major types: Hypertrophic scars, Keloid scars and Atrophic scars.

Atrophic scars are sunken partly because of the loss of fat or muscle tissue under the skin (the atrophy). The technique described in this post redresses fat tissue loss so possibly it will be informative on dealing with scars like this in the future. And maybe no one will live the rest of their life showing what acne they had as a teenager. OR that they had Chicken Pox.

The major feature mentioned in both articles on scarring is Collagen. A protein that occurs in skin tissue and is overdone in scar tissue. This is due to fibroblast proliferation.

In this Wikipedia article on Wound healing the process is described in 4 phases. The 3rd phase is where the activities of the fibroblasts create the collagen extra-cellular matrix and the myofibroblasts perform wound closure. Any treatments derived from the technique in this article would likely be concerned with this phase of wound repair.

The extra-cellular matrix is all the stuff that appears between cells to provide physical scaffolding and biochemical support. If your body was an office building and the cells were the workers in the offices then the ECM would be the actual building: the floors, walls, plumbing and cable runs. Fibroblasts facilitate the growth of a few things that make this structure – collagen being the bulk of it. In wound repair it would appear that the way this happens differs from the way tissue grows normally. Think about what autobody repair by poorly equipped, untrained or in-a-hurry service people looks like. Looks a bit like scars doesn’t it?

Fibroblasts and their precursor, mesochyme, are mobile cells. That makes sense when you think of them as builders of 3 dimensional constructs. They excrete chemical signals to say ‘make this material here’. Most of the time it is collagen being called for. How they go about excreting what substances and where and when are likely driven by chemistry in their local environment and, as the article delves into, altering that chemistry would alter their behaviour and the final product of their activities. Some chemicals tell cells what to make while others tell them what to remake themselves into.

It would appear that the forecast for the future will be clear skin and youthful appearance. That may be wishful thinking now but eventually it will just be a decision instead.