OK

Night Owls
This part of Antonin Scalia's concurrence on today's decision that a genetics company cannot patent a naturally occurring human gene has been getting some attention:
I join the judgment of the Court, and all of its opinion except Part Iā€“A and some portions of the rest of the opinion going into fine details of molecular biology. I am unable to affirm those details on my own knowledge or even my own belief. It suffices for me to affirm, having studied the opinions below and the expert briefs presented here, that the portion of DNA isolated from its natural state sought to be patented is identical to that portion of the DNA in its natural state; and that complementary DNA (cDNA) is a synthetic creation not normally present in nature.
What is Part I-A? It's a dry description of the structure of DNA. A mere four paragraphs of literal textbook stuff, and not particularly challenging stuff at that. So why did Scalia feel such a need to disavow that part, and the "fine details of molecular biology" bits, that he wrote a separate concurrence rather than sign onto it?

It's hardly unusual for judges to be presented with technical or scientific information that they may not have personal "knowledge" of, forcing them to rely on the testimony of those that do know the details. In this case, the structure of DNA was not in question. There was nothing controversial about it, no he-said she-said about whether or not cytosine or guanine was the One True Nucleotide, nothing that was not utterly descriptive and banal. And Scalia in fact declares that it "suffices" to know that DNA and cDNA exist and are what the scientists say they are, and is willing to base his opinion on that presumption regardless of the details.

So why object to, of all things, the description of DNA, RNA, nucleotides and the like? And why the "or even my own belief" part? What do either his "own knowledge" or "own belief" have to do with whether or not DNA is as described in that section?

What an odd duck, that one.



Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2006ā€”Wrapping My Mind Around YearlyKos:

I always knew it would be big. How could it not be? The writing was on the wall when we started this adventure a year and a half ago. The Republicans were still in charge, America's path was not going to change.

But the progressive blogosphere was going to continue to grow. And as dark as the days would become, before us would still be a fabulous opportunity.

I knew it would be big, but I honestly had no idea what big would look like.

Big looks like over 120 of our experts coming together to share their knowledge. Big looks like over 150 traditional media reporters trying to understand who we are. Big looks like over 1000 attendees from all over the country coming together, a good percentage of whom were volunteers doing the work to make the YearlyKos Convention successful.

Big looks like, or rather feels like, the hopeful determination that defined YearlyKos. It was incredible and overwhelming, and I haven't wrapped my mind around it yet.



Tweet of the Day:

I just asked Marco Rubio about Trent Franks' abortion comment. "I don't know who that is," Rubio said.
ā€” @sppeoples



On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin catches us up on non-NSA stories like MA-Sen, confidence in Congress falling to an all-time low, Bloomberg's plan to hold gun safety policy holdouts to account, and a preview of his planned Sunday Kos essays. Then: gun violence stats. Should we include suicides? Seattle alt weekly The Stranger on "When Domestic Violence Becomes a Mass Shooting." On the NSA, articles by Thomas Drake, another NSA whistleblower, on Snowden, and Elizabeth Goitein on how "Our Antiquated Laws Can't Cope With National Security Leaks" inform discussion of the contradictions and expected error built into our NatSec legal system.



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