Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Years Eve 2005

Yesterday we went bobsledding. Maureen and Julia made a 50 MPH run.


Then a hungry deer visits the bird feeder.


Pretty fuzzy, huh?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Civil War in Iraq

It appears that the Kurds have been busy inserting thousands of militia members into Iraqi army forces, especially in Northern Iraq. They are laying the groundwork to take back the city of Kirkuk along with its oil fields. Kirkuk was a Kudish city before Saddam drove the Kurds from the city and paid arabs to settle in the city. The Peshmerga militia are an awesome military force that has been fighting since Gulf War I. If the Kurds pull off making an independent Kurdistan, does this mean war with Turkey? Then whose side would we be on?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

We Are Under Surveillance

Rom-fay ow-nay on his-thay log-bay ill-way e-bay osted-pay in ig-pay atin-lay.

Security vs Liberty

Bush has always thought that being a dictator was easier than being a President. Evidently, he has been using the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to act as a dictator. Habeas Corpus, out the window. Secret prisons and torture, no problem. Arrest anyone I say might be guilty, we'll sort it out in 5-10 years, let's do it. Now some kind of super secret spying program has surfaced. He has been desperate to keep this program secret because he knows it's illegal. This program was probably leaked by some of the very people that are responsible for running it because they also think it is illegal and unconstitutional.

What's weird about this whole spying thing is that Bush has legal authority to authorize wiretaps on almost anyone, but for some reason he chose not to use the legal route. It's likely he chose the illegal route because whatever it is they are doing is probably so egregious that even the rubber stamp FISA secret court probably wouldn't have approved it. Bush claims he has congressional oversight but this claim is extremely exagerated. He briefed 4-6 congressmen in classified briefings such that they could not legally disclose or discuss what they were told.

So what is going on? One idea 'out there' is that ALL communications are being collected and analyzed for content by super computers. There is no way you could get a court order to do something like that. So 'watch what you say' in your phone calls and computer communications, because 'Big Brother' is probably watching.

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen. -- Samuel Adams

Monday, December 19, 2005

Did Bush Violate the 4th Amendment?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, an no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized

President Bush, brushing aside bipartisan criticism in Congress, said Monday he approved spying on suspected terrorists without court orders because it was "a necessary part of my job to protect" Americans from attack

Let's have a poll. Yes or No?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Friday, December 16, 2005

Twas The Week Before Christmas by Congressman John Dingell

I found this very amusing and also very telling.

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House
No bills were passed ‘bout which Fox News could grouse;
Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,
So vacations in St. Barts soon would be near;

Katrina kids were nestled all snug in motel beds,
While visions of school and home danced in their heads;
In Iraq our soldiers needed supplies and a plan,
Plus nuclear weapons were being built in Iran;

Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell;
Americans feared we were on a fast track to…well…
Wait--- we need a distraction--- something divisive and wily;
A fabrication straight from the mouth of O’Reilly

We can pretend that Christmas is under attack
Hold a vote to save it--- then pat ourselves on the back;
Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger
Wake up Congress, they’re in no danger!

This time of year we see Christmas every where we go,
From churches, to homes, to schools, and yes…even Costco;
What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy,
When this is the season to unite us with joy

At Christmas time we’re taught to unite,
We don’t need a made-up reason to fight
So on O’Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter, and those right wing blogs;
You should just sit back, relax…have a few egg nogs!

‘Tis the holiday season: enjoy it a pinch
With all our real problems, do we honestly need another Grinch?
So to my friends and my colleagues I say with delight,
A merry Christmas to all,
and to Bill O’Reilly…Happy Holidays.

Is There 'Marketing' in Science?

"Elucidating a nonapoptotic role for caspase activity in T cell function: a link to NF-kappaB activation"

That's the title of the seminar today. Ok, I have a pretty good superficial knowledge of what the seminar is going to be about. I also know that understanding cell signaling is extremely important, especially in the development of new drugs. But damn! Isn't there a happy medium between letting your audience know what you are going to talk about and 'marketing' your science? Give me a good ole talk about the in vivo effects of such and such a pathogen and I am definitely happy.

Wind Farms or Not?

The construction of giant wind farms in Northern NY has been an issue of interest to me. It seems that harvest of energy from wind is a win-win situation for everyone from capitalist to environmentalist. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case. It has been an extremely volatile issue among some in the Malone, NY area. Here the concern is mainly one of effects of giant wind turbines on health. Sound and 'flicker' being the main issues.

This morning there is a NYT editorial on the issue written by Robert Kennedy Jr., who happens to be an environmental lawyer. He is opposed to the construction of a wind farm in Nantucket Sound and offers many reasons why. I agree that the waters under the wind farm should not be privatized and there should not be huge government subsidies to make the farm economically feasible. But I'm getting pretty sick of people worrying about the effects of the wind turbines on 'views'. Ok, I don't want them located in national parks or on the tops of mountains in the Adirondack Park. But give me a break, environmentalist have to give a little. I'm also very very skeptical concerning the issue of wind turbine effects on health. There is very little experimental evidence for this.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Misinformation or a Lie?

President Bush constantly claims that congress saw the same intelligence information that he saw in the runup to the Iraq War. Turns out not to be true, which anyone with half a brain already knew. Now the lie is verified by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Goods From Kenya

Julia is finally home! She brought lots of stuff. See?



That's maybe half of it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Current Conservative Philosophy

I got this from a blogger on Political Animal. He posts under the name 'bellumregio'. I think it's an awesome summary of how the conservative currently in power think and act.

1. Republican Party doctrine = American values

2. There are no universal human values beyond the values recognized and sanctioned by the Party. If there were than there could a moral human position AGAINST the Party and that is illogical since the Party embodies morality.

3. related to this is the belief that the group represented by the Party- the true Americans- are beyond good and evil. Whatever is done in the name of the True Americans and for the Nation is justified. Atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein are evil but atrocities committed by the United States cannot be evil. This is logical because the Party represents the moral order. Americans do not torture. Amnesty International, international courts, the Red Cross, the United Nations- these are all irrelevant and obstructionist because they are predicated on the belief that there are universal values outside of the Party and beyond the Nation.

4. Patriots are selfless men and women who are not interested in their own prestige but the prestige of the Party and the True American nation. Europeans and Canadians are failures. They are irrelevant. The Power of the Party and the true American Nation do not need to value their opinions. Only the powerful matter.

5. The Party is always winning. The leaders are always correct. Loss is the failure of those outside the Party- usually the traitors within the borders of the state or within the Party. The ideology of the Party is always aware of the undying power of the enemy although the enemy, by definition, is always too weak. This contradiction cannot be resolved.

6. All of history is the relation of power units. All life is a struggle. Detente and pacifism are trafficking with the enemy.

7. All truth is in accordance with the Party. Facts are irrelevant. Whatever the progress of the war in Iraq, whatever the course of history, whatever the motivations of the actors- all flows into the narrative of the Party and the success of the True Nation.

8. “From the viewpoint of an organization which functions according to the principle that whoever is not included is excluded, whoever is not with me is against me, the world at large loses all the nuances, differentiations, and pluralistic aspects which had in any event become confusing and unbearable to the masses which had lost their place and their orientation in it.”

Actually was written by Hannah Arendt Origins of Totalitarianism 1958

Friday, December 09, 2005

War on Science

Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says that at no point in his adult lifetime has he seen attacks on science, and on the universities that perform science, that are as serious as those today. While modern American history has had plenty of “blips” in the relationship between science and religion, there is a “substantial tension” today that is dangerous, Leshner says.

I sure believe this to be the case today. The fundies and conservatives are using higher education as a whipping boy even more than usual. It's a good way to divert attention from all their unsuccessful policies. Conservatives hate free thinking people because they are dangerous to their cause. You must see the emperor as clothed, not naked.

Neat little tune I found on the internet by Don Wise

sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic")

My bones proclaim a story of incompetent design.
My back still hurts, my sinus clogs, my teeth just won’t align.
If I had drawn the blueprint, I would cer-tain-ly resign.
Incompetent Design!
Evo-Evo-Evo-lution! Design is but a mere illusion.
Darwin sparked our revolution. Science SHALL prevail!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

War on Christmas After All!

Holiday greeting cards sent out by President Bush and Gov. Jeb Bush did not mention Christmas. Why do these guys hate Christmas?

How Did I Become a Bleeding Heart Liberal?

I'm not sure. I was brought up in moderately conservative family. I spent 12 yrs in Catholic school being taught about Jesus, Love, social justice and being told that JFK is great. That might have played a role subconciously. I attended a 'liberal arts' college during the Vietnam War and I'm sure that had something to do with it. An unjust draft system certainly had something to do with it. I'm pretty sure we would have more liberals right now if we still had a draft. When I was first eligible to vote, at 21 yrs, I voted for Richard Nixon (not the second time though). I put up with 4 yrs of being around conservative Navy guys (not all of them were), but was still anti-war during my entire tour. I think what has turned me from being a liberal to a bleeding heart, leftist, commie, pinko liberal is 5 yrs of good ole G. W. Bush and a mindless republican controlled government. I'm still trying to analyze why I'm such a liberal. Maybe because I believe in our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I'll dwell on it some more.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I Feel So Dirty Now!

Vice President Dick 'FU' Cheney was over at Ft. Drum lying to our troops today. The thought of him being so close (about 100 mi.) makes me feel all icky. Ft. Drum will need a heavy downpour to wash the stain of 'torture boy' away. How can such an obvious draft dodger even appear before our troops?

One good think about the Cheney visit to Ft. Drum, all the soldiers got issued the new ACU (Army Combat Uniform). There was a huge rush getting these uniforms to the soldiers in time for the VP visit. The soldiers weren't scheduled to get the new uniforms for months.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Grant Money Available!!!

From the NYT:

The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of projects seeking to reconcile science and religion, says that after providing a few grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, they asked proponents to submit proposals for actual research.

"They never came in," said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned.

It's really hard disguising your 'hokum' as science once people start evaluating it by scientific criteria. Intelligent Design folks can't seem to come up with any experiments to test their 'theory'.

Defines An Adirondacker


Suggest a title for this.

Are We Safer? - Another Promise Broken?

"It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney told supporters at a town-hall meeting Tuesday. "And then we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mindset, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we're not really at war. I think that would be a terrible mistake for us."

Not according to the 9/11 commission. Police, firemen and government workers still have no common reserved radio frequencies with which to communicate during a disaster. Homeland Security funds are handed out like candy to those that don't have a high risk of a terrorist attack. Our intelligence agencies still cannot easily share information. Katrina proved that this administration is imcompetent. Do we need yet another terrorist attack to futher prove their imcompetency?

Iraq War Profiteering

Anyone hear about the $10 million dollar bat mitzvah party for a 13 yr old girl? She and 300 of her best friends (who has 300 best friends?) were entertained by 50 Cents (reportedly one-half million for 30 min act), Aerosmith, Kenny G., Stevie Nicks and hosted by Tom Petty. It was held for the daughter of David H. Brooks, CEO of DHB Industries. DHB Industries produces bulletproof vests but evidently not very good ones. Over 5000 of the vests were recalled last May because they did not meet contract specification (i.e. bullets evidently went through them). This guy made $70 million dollars in 2004 and sold DHB stock for another $186 million dollars. As of Nov. 21, 18,000 more vests have been recalled. How do people like this live with themselves?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Christmas 'War' Theme con't

This sort of sums up the meaning of Christmas in modern day America. This was said by the leading general of the anti-secular forces in this country.

Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born. Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable. More than enough reason for business to be screaming 'Merry Christmas'.
Bill O'Reilly

If there really is a 'war' on Christmas I don't think 'Falafel O'Reilly 'is the best person to defend against it. I truly dislike hypocrites.

Friday, December 02, 2005

War on Christmas?


Not according to a Fox News Poll. 48% say no war on Christmas vs. 42% say there is a war on Christmas. I wonder how many casualties this war has caused? Ummm, physical casualties that is.

Christmas and Christianity

How did December 25th become associated with Christianity? The actual birth date of Jesus is not known. Best guess by some is in the Fall of the 4th century BC. In early Christian times it was celebrated on Jan 6, Apr 21 and May 1. It wasn’t until the 4th century AD that the church decided that Jesus’ birth should be celebrated around the winter solstice which occurs on Dec 21. Seems like a good choice because this is the longest night of the year. Each succeeding day becomes longer providing more light and warmth. There is no evidence, biblical or historical, that Jesus' birthday was celebrated at all before the 4th century AD.

Many other pre-Christian pagan religions honored the birth of their god around that time of year.

In Rome Attis was born in 200 BC, the son of the virgin Nana. He died when crucified on a tree and returned 3 days later. His followers symbolically ate his body in the form of bread.

In Greece Dionysus’ birth was also celebrated on Dec 25th. There was a center of worship for Dionysus in Jerusalem in the 1st century. His body was also symbolically eaten in the form of bread and wine.

In Egypt Osiris was a savior-god who had been worshipped in pre-history. Three wise men announced his birth. Many sayings by Osiris were taken over into the bible. His birthday was celebrated on Dec 25th.

In Persia Mithra was worshipped as a savior, especially among Roman civil servants and soldiers. Mithrism was a direct competitor to Christianity in the 4th century. He was believed to have been born on Dec 25th. It was believed that he was born of virgin, performed miracles, and cast out devils. He celebrated a last supper, had 12 disciples and ascended into heaven around Mar 21st.

Saturnalia was celebrated from Dec 17 to 23rd in the Roman Empire. The early Christian church chose Dec 25th as the birth date of Jesus to coincide with worship of this pagan god.

The Roman Emperor Constantine was largely responsible for the popularity of Christianity. In fact, he decreed that worship for Christianity switch from the seventh day Sabbath (Saturday) to the first day of the week – Sun-day – the day the pagans worshiped the sun.

Christmas as it is celebrated today is more about retail merchandising than the birth of a savior.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

World AIDS Day - Today

Acquired immune deficiency disease (AIDS) is the result of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus. This is a terrible disease, it basically destroys your immune system. Forty million people are infected with HIV worldwide. Last year 3 million new cases appeared. 8000 people die as a result of AIDS every day. There are only 4 ways you can become infected with HIV: (1)unprotected sex with an infected partner, (2) sharing HIV-contaminated needles, (3)transfusion with infected blood or blood products or transplanted infected tissue or organs, (4) from infected mother to child, in the womb or by breastfeeding. All of these means of infection can be prevented. A huge amount of money is spent on research, drugs, and medical treatment, 19.7 billion dollars in the USA last year.

Tuberculosis is caused by infection with the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. 2 billion people are infected worldwide. Every year 3 million people die from tuberculosis, 1 million die needlessly because they were also infected with AIDS. Although TB can be treated with drugs, preventing TB is very difficult. The NIH spends about $40 million dollars on TB research.

Malaria is caused by infection with the protozoan parasite Plasmodium falciparum and 3 other strains of lesser importance. 300-500 million people are infected with malaria with 1-2 million dying every year. Most of these being very young children. Malaria can be treated with drugs but it can also be prevented by getting rid of the mosquito vector that transmitts the disease. The NIH probably spends about as much on malaria as it does on TB, maybe less.

Why does the USA spend so much money on AIDS and not so much on TB and Malaria. Simple, very few people in the USA become infected with TB or Malaria.

Find out more about these diseases at this website.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush, Stem Cells and Jobs

Neal Copeland and Nancy Jenkins are a husband-wife research team. They are famous for developing methods that identify cancer-causing genes, work completed during their three decades at the National Cancer Institute at NIH. They are leaving because of restrictions, by the Bush administration, on use of stem cells. They hoped to go to Stanford and use state funds for stem cell research, but lawsuits by anti-abortion groups have held up use of that money. So where will they go? The Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore. Now we are exporting medical research jobs.

National Strategy for Victory

I read the document and still do not understand what the strategy is, however the strategy is working.

Economic front: "Our restore, reform, build, strategy is achieving results."

Political front: "Our Isolate, Engage, and Build strategy is working."

Security front: "Our clear, hold, and build strategy is working."

In other words: STAY THE COURSE! DON'T CUT AND RUN! (I love to say cut and run).

It only took Bush 30 seconds into the speech to refer to 9/11.

Wal-Mart Wages

Wal-Mart pays wages about 16% below those paid by other large retailers. If Wal-Mart were to pay wages comparable to other large retailers it would cost them ~2% of sales. So an item priced $1 would cost $1.02 instead. If they did this, their employees would make a living wage and Wal-Mart would still out-compete all other retailers. So why doesn't Wal-Mart do this? I guess because they want to make 11 billion a year in profits instead of 10.78 billion dollars. Where are their values?

Doonesbury, Bush and Torture

I've read 'Doonesbury' almost since it first started being published in newspapers. Since the cartoon strip's author Gary Trudeau is from Saranac Lake, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise probably ran the cartoon from the beginning. More to the point, Gary Trudeau was a student at Yale University at the same time as upperclassman G. W. Bush. Although Trudeau probably got accepted due to his smarts and not his dad.

Last Sunday, there was a really funny Doonesbury cartoon connecting 'W's frat boy days with current attitudes on torture. I didn't realize the cartoon was fact based. Evidently DKE, Bush's frat, was branding frat members with a red hot coat hanger. Gary Trudeau broke the story in the Yale student newspaper. Bush made the following statement to the newspaper "Insignificant! There's no scarring mark physically or mentally!"

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Saranac Lake Big Box Store Building Site


This is the 10 acre sand pit owned by Saranac Lake. It is on Rt. 86 behind McDonalds and the car dealership. It is currently zoned residential but the village board wants to rezone it as commercial. Just to the right, going up the road, is the Will Rogers Retirement Village.


Here is another view of the site. It's taken from the railroad tracks (Adirondack Scenic Railroad).


See? What is on the other side of the tracks?


Pretty nice, even with the capped landfill in the upper left corner. Can you say wetland?


The wetlands are actually quite extensive. Actually I don't really use an environmental argument against a Wal-Mart in SL. Although after seeing the potential building site, I could change my mind. Wal-Mart could change my mind if they would only treat their employees better. There is no doubt they can afford it.

Victory Strategy for Iraq

Tomorrow our president is going to speak at the US Naval Academy. There he will outline his 'victory strategy for Iraq'. Is this something he's been keeping a secret and is only now going to tell us about? Or is it something new? If it's a new plan, isn't it a couple of years too late?

Conspiracy Nut

Ok, maybe I've gone to far over to the other side and I've become a conspiracy theorist. But don't forget that Mel Gibson movie 'Conspiracy Theory'. For reasons I will not go into I was reading about fascism last night. Fascism basically says that the government is everything and the individual is nothing. The word Fascism is derived from the latin 'fasces'. This was a bundle of sticks bound by a red ribbon. The bundle represented the state and the individual sticks represented the citizens. The message was that the bundle was important and not the individual sticks. Sure sounds un-American to me. Surely this symbol would never be used in the government of the United States of America.

Behind the Speakers podium in the House of Representatives

lincoln fasces
Et tu Abraham? Look at the arms of his chair.

The reverse of the dime. Notice the axe, that is often part of the symbol as well.

National Guard Symbol

Geez, now I've really got to look into those barcodes on the back of road signs!

New Links Added

I added two new links. One to the UK Guardian because if you want to know what's really going on in the world, especially concerning the USA, it's a must read. The second is to Russia's 'Pravda' because it's fun to read. I can't figure out how to get my links etc back up to the top of the page without screwing up the html.

Finally - NYT Editorial on Use of White Phosphorus

"White phosphorus, which dates to World War II, should have been banned generations ago. Packed into an artillery shell, it explodes over a battlefield in a white glare that can illuminate an enemy's positions. It also rains balls of flaming chemicals, which cling to anything they touch and burn until their oxygen supply is cut off. They can burn for hours inside a human body". NYT

The battle to remove Saddam worked quite well. But what has gone right militarily since then? I can't believe Sec. Rumsfield hasn't resigned in shame. We may or may not be safer with Saddam gone, but at what cost?

Monday, November 28, 2005

RFID Good or Evil?

Passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). What to hell is this? Well it's simply a high tech means of storing and remotely retrieving information. They are small wireless devices that emit unique id numbers when interrogated by RFID readers or sensors. I use one of these devices several times a day to get into work and into various facilities at work. Somewhere, a computer records who, when and where every time the device is used. Great for security!

These devices can be very small (.4mm x .4mm). They can also be as thin as a piece of paper. This is great for the manufacturing, transportation and retail industries. Millions of items can be tracked from manufacturing to store shelves (and to your home or anywhere else).

RFID will be a life saving technology in hospitals and medicine. It would be awesome to require some devices to be labeled with them (handguns? ammunition? explosives?). But what about drivers licenses, passports, SS cards etc? Do you use EazyPass? RFID is used there.

I'm certainly not a Libertarian or a conspiracy nut. But these devices are becoming cheaper and are being used more and more. There is a very high potential for these devices to be misused. Without good security RFID tags create 'privacy pollution' by potentially exposing personal information to snoops.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has comments on this techology

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Science and Religion

The United States of America without a doubt dominates the world of science, especially the life sciences. How is it then that over 60% of Americans do not understand evolution? Evolution does not address how life began. I think this is the main misunderstanding. Evolution is simply changes in gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next. The central idea of biological evolution is that all life on Earth shares a common ancestor, just as you and your cousins share a common grandmother. Humans did not evolve from chimpanzees. We are cousins that evolved from a common ancester. But that is not the main concern here. The question is why do so many Americans believe the earth was created in 7 days, is 4000 years old, and everything present today was present 4000 years ago.

These same individuals likely believe that the USA is a special place, a christian place with a special divine purpose. So we are back to fighting Darwin. More monkey trials, more foolish school boards, more stupid things being said to save political careers. All this in a liberal western country that has trouble understanding the Islamic fundamentalist mind. Well maybe we should start trying to understand the fundamentalist christian mind as well.

We are going to war to make countries accept democracy and reject theocratic rule. At the same time, our own country is becoming more and more religious. So much so that after hundreds of years, science is once more being stepped on by theocrats.

Maybe we do need to teach religion in our schools. Let's require a course in comparative religion, but let's also require a science course that insures that the average student understand what science is and is not.

Go here for everything you want to know about evolution in an easily understood format.

NOTE: I hope I don't get in trouble. It seems the operators of the evolution website above are being sued. "In the lawsuit filed last month, the Caldwells contend the site is an effort "to modify the beliefs of public school science students so they will be more willing to accept evolutionary theory as true." The site is run by UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology and paid in part by a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Two university scientists and a foundation official were named as defendants. [Info from Yahoo News]

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving


Mmmmmmmmm turkey! First time we ever tried brining a turkey. Try it, you will never go back. It is so moist.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Saranac Lake Mountains


Looking across Lake Flower (it's really a dammed up part of the Saranac River)to the left is Mt. Baker, a wonderful little mountain that has beautiful views of the village and lakes from the top. Mt. Baker is in my back yard and I can easily see the hikers at the top. In the middle of the photo is McKenzie Mt., also known as 'Saddleback' by locals. The 'Jackrabbit' cross country ski trail runs over this mountain to Lake Placid. All the way to the right is Haystack Mt. For some reason, no one ever talks about Haystack.

Darwin Exhibit

The Darwin Exhibit opened last Saturday at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. Too bad American corporations are afraid to fund the exhibit. If you want to learn more about what MOST Americans believe, go here.

Echinococcus (Hydatid Disease)

So what brings this topic up? I was watching 'House' last night. I really like the main character because he is a curmudgeon but really smart. In any case, a couple of people ended up diagnosed with Echinococcus infection, one of my favorite cestode helminths. House COMPLETELY mispronounced the name of the parasite which of course made me laugh. I'm pretty sure the medical advisor to that show probably didn't know how to pronounce it either (E KINE OH COCK US) not (ECHO NO COCK US) or something like that.

There are two major species of Echinococcus that infect man. The two individuals last night were infected with Echinococcus granulosus, which can at least be treated surgically by removing the cysts. But I'm really not sure that E. granulosis is commonly found in the USA, even in the Northwest sheep raising country. However, E. multilocularis has been reported in Canada and Alaska I believe. In any case, if these cestode infections are found in the USA, it is more likely in a feral rather than domestic cycle. So hunters beware. There is no treatment for E. multilocularis as far as I'm aware. You just die.

Why is that?


Hydatid cysts cause by infection with E. granulosus look like those above. They are individual cysts and the brood capsules grow off an INTERNAL germinal layer. One problem with these cysts is that they are filled with fluid that causes severe anaphylactic shock if they are broken open. This happened to the guy last night after House hit him with his cane. Luckly it happened in the hospital. By the way, the guy (father) had been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and the son with a tumor of the heart and lungs. Hydatid disease often presents with signs resembling cancer.


Infection with E. multilocularis is very different and very scary. In this infection the germinal tissue of the cyst is located on the OUTSIDE resulting in malignant spread of the cyst. The cyst is not defined or contained as with infection with E. granulosis and thus cannot be easily removed.

So how do you prevent yourself from being infected with these dreaded cestodes? Very simple. Don't eat infected dog, fox, wolf, dingo or coyote shit.

Sometime when you are bored, ask me about infection with the dreaded Baylisascaris worm (brain worm).

Community Comments on Wal-Mart

I got these comments from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise website. They are somewhat typical of the for and against Walmart factions in Saranac Lake.

"Looks like we have a real class war starting here! The ironic thing is that the morons who are for Walmart are the ones who will be hurt the most. When Walmart moves in we'll lose our downtown and we'll have an ugly eyesore right at the entrance to the village. Then vacationers, tourists, and sucessful transplants won't want to be in Saranac Lake anymore. We come to Saranac Lake to GET AWAY FROM WALMART and because Saranac Lake is a beautiful and special place. When that changes, we'll leave. I'm sure you'll say "good riddance", but watch what happens to the town when all the rich and educated people move away. All that will be left are the welfare losers who wanted Walmart in the first place, but now without any tax base or jobs. Why ARE you here? To get OUR jobs we nasty "elitists" had to go away to school, work eighteen hours a day, fit in with strangers, move several times for jobs, rent one apartment after another, all the while longing for a neighborhood to fit into. I CAME from farm country, and I could have stayed. I gave up a lot. I didn't get a car passed down to me or Uncle Bob fixing my plumbing for me, or the chance to inherit Ol' Gramma's house mortgage free. Why does everyone assume that people who make money now got it easy?? Look, we worked, and we work. Do you know what this elitist does? Volunteers on two town groups that don't give anything back to me, donates to the library which all of your kids can use, volunteers at the school just because I like your kids and would like for them to all have jobs when they grow up, I promise, and pays about three times the taxes you do. Do I live in one of the big new houses? No. I don't believe in living that way. I believe in being part of the town. I believe in being able to talk to everyone. Do I shop at the so-called "elitist" stores? Yes, when they have $1 toys for birthday grab bags, or give free books to the school programs, or offer me the broken belt for the Cub Scout project because we'd rather not pay for the new one. Keep in mind that it's the wealthy and educated people who make Saranac Lake what it is -- one of the most livable small towns in the country. We're the ones who pay the huge taxes, who support the library, the carnival, and a million other charities and who volunteer at the schools while the losers sit around and gripe about not being able to buy cheap cigarettes. If you want a Walmart so much, and care so little about the town, why don't you pack up and move to Plattsburgh? You won't be missed..."

"It seems that the interests of this community are controlled by a small, but vocal group of elitists who look down their noses at the members of this community who are hard working families or retired individuals who cannot afford to shop at the main street boutiques to fulfill their retail needs. I guess that they believe that the dollar stores are sufficient to meet our needs. I know that Mark Kurtz stated a few years back at a meeting at the Adult Center that "Anyone can find anything they need with the existing businesses here in Saranac Lake". I challenge him to find kids shoes, clothing, soxs, underware, etc… which are of reasonable quality and prices not Dollar Store irregulars!. Working families and retirees in this community sometimes do not have the time or resources to travel back and forth to Plattsburgh to do basic shopping. This village needs to wake up to the fact that there is a large population of dissatisfied customers and taxpayers in this community who want more of a retail choice. The elitist contingent can continue to patronize their downtown boutiques to keep them in business because after all they are not being patronized by the vast majority of us who are travelling to Plattsburgh or elsewhere. As far as Wal-Mart scaring off the tourists, this is a joke as most tourists will still enjoy the beauty of our Lakes, Rivers, Mountains, Campsites, Resort Hotels, etc… Also, our community could possibly work with Wal-Mart or other retailer on an Adirondack Architectural theme - Maybe our Resident Elitist Mark Kurtz could come up with some sketches!"

Like most issues in this community, it seems like sentiment concerning Walmart is about 50/50, if you believe the data presented in the unscientific web poll of the ADE.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

JFK Died 42 Years Ago Today

No one seems to notice that today is a date of importance to some. I was 11 when JFK was elected President. The nuns told us we had to campaign for him so we did. We went to the campaign office and got all kinds of buttons, stickers etc and platered them everywhere. Beside, the nuns also told us if Nixon were elected, ice cream would be outlawed. Seem reasonable to us.

It's Ok to Leave Iraq Now

Anyone remember Bush administration official saying we would leave Iraq if the Iraqis asked us too? Anyone? Anyone? Well they have asked us to leave. Anyone think we will keep our word?

Cheap Malaria Control

Sara is raising money for malaria control through the World Swim for Malaria. Go there and donate. You can save a life for $5.

It's sad that all the tools for malaria control are and have been available for decades, yet millions of people die each year from malaria (mostly children). Millions could be saved from death due to malaria using three means: (1) pyrethrin impregnated bednets, (2) spraying low concentrations of DDT on the inside walls of homes in malaria infested areas, (3) drug treatment, especially of infected, pregnant mothers (to protect the baby). None of this is overly expensive.

What burns me is the fact that common use of DDT, to control insect vectors, has been discontinued in many parts of the world. We have Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring to thank for that. Use of DDT has pretty much been banned since 1972 by the stroke of the pen of William Ruckelshaus, head of the EPA at that time. He did this even in the face of much scientific evidence that DDT was not harmful to humans or the environment as used in malaria control. DDT, as used in agriculture, did have effects on the environment. But it was used in vast quantities probably because farmers thought 'more was better'. For malaria control, DDT is sprayed onto the inside walls of homes in malaria endemic regions. The major vector of malaria, Anopheles gambiense bites primarily indoors. After taking a blood meal the mosquito rests on an inside wall. Walls coated with a low concentration of DDT result in the death of the mosquito. Many developing countries governments have been pressured by environmentalist to stop the use of DDT. This has resulted in the re-emergence of malaria. For example, South Africa stopped the use of DDT in 1996 with a resulting 1000% increase in cases of malaria.

For much more in depth info go here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mike Scanlon Pleads Guilty

This is going to be bigger than Treasongate. I've read that it may become the biggest government scandel in over 100 yrs. Micheal Scanlon, ex-aide to Tom Delay has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe government officials. Scanlon worked for Jack Abramoff, the guy who among other thing scammed indians over casinos. This involves Republican and Democrat congressmen but mostly Republicans because they are the ones that hold all the power right now. Scanlon is now going to cooperate with the investigation. Tom Delay is in even more trouble now. Couldnt happen to a nicer bug exterminator.

Stephen Hadley - Treasongate

I pointed out on Oct 26 that we should keep our eye on Stephen Hadley and the outing of Plame. It's now looking almost certain that he was Woodwards source. Now I'm going to predict that Condi Rice is going to be pulled into this dispicable affair.

White Phosphorus Revisited

I posted about the use of white phosphorus on November 11th asking when a story would appear in the MSM. An article appeared yesterday in the NYT. Looks like white phosphorus was used as an anti-personnel weapon. The army even admits it. I guess if torture is ok, white phosphorus should be ok too.

Wal-mart in Saranac Lake - Again?

Rumors are rampant about Wal-mart looking to locate in Saranac Lake. They were thwarted a few years ago when someone bought a parcel of property out from under the company. Although we only have rumors, I'm sure someone in the Village government could shed some light on the situation, but they are keeping mum. I guess they are following the G. W. Bush school of governing.

What are some of the effects of Wal-mart locating in a small rural community? That question was addressed over 15 years ago by Dr. Kenneth Stone, a Professor of Economics and Extension Economist at Iowa State University. Some conclusions about the economic effects:

Positive Effects
General mechandising stores
Eating and drinking establishments
Home furnishing stores
Total sales

Negative Effects
Grocery stores
Building materials
Specialty stores (hardware, toy, books, music, etc.)
Apparel stores
Services (not understood why)

Effect on outlying towns
"On average, small towns surrounding Wal-Mart towns (20 mile radius) suffered greater losses of retail sales than similar size towns elsewhere in the state. The average first year per capita loss of sales for the nearby towns was 6.3% when compared with 2.0% for all other towns of a similar size population".

Morality of Wal-mart as a company
Wal-mart knows its customers though. That's why they need to have prices cut to the bone in order to keep sales high. Wal-mart caters to the poor. Primarily women struggling to make ends meet. An economist at the U. of Conn., Andrew Franklin, has shown that Wal-mart operates primarily in poor and working class communities. To keep sales high, Wal-mart has got to keep labor costs low period. Some Wal-marts provide employees with instructions and forms on how to apply for food stamps and healthcare because they know their employees cannot live on what they are being paid. At any one time Wal-mart has 8000+ ongoing lawsuits (mostly from their employees) and currently is involved in 33 class action suits. Maybe someone can explain why a company that employs 1 out of every 100 Americans, has sales of over 285 billion dollars and a gross profit margin of almost 24% cannot provide for its employees.

Hidden costs of doing business with Wal-mart in California
Reliance by Wal-mart workers on public assistance costs $86 million annually.
Families of Wal-mart workers utilize ~40% more in taxpayer-funded health care than the average for families of all large retail employees. If other large retailers adopted Wal-mart's wage and benefits standards it would cost CA taxpayers $410 million in public assistance annually. (From Dr. A. Dube and Ken Jacobs, UC Berkeley, 2004).

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Mt. Pisgah Community Ski Area

Mt. Pisgah

This is our little 'in town' skiing area. Mt. Pisgah . I grew up skiing here. I spent most every evening and weekend skiing here. It was open every night til 10 PM except Sunday. Thursday was reserved for adult night skiing. When I was a kid, a season pass was $5. Eventually went up to $15. Notice the beautiful new ski lodge built a few years ago with labor and money donated by the community.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday Scientific Equipment Blogging

instruments 006

Not an instrument, but probably the most used tool in basic medical research.

News From Julia - Back in Nairobi

"I am working with Don Bosco's street boy program which is really great. The boys are right off the street and go into a three month transition period. Then if they have behaved and done well and everything they get to be admitted to the actual school. Everything is really scheduled out for the boys. There are about 30 of them in the transition period, that we are working with and then 280 at the boys school. The facilities are really nice and the boys are great! The only downer is we have to walk about 1 hour to get to work. Because it is an independent study, we have to do our own transportation and no matutus run in that direction, but exercise is good!"

NOTE: Don Bosco programs are evidently run by the Salesian Order of the Catholic Church. In Africa they specialize in taking care of 'boy soldier' refugees, among other programs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Constitution Vote - Violence in Kenya?


Just heard from Julia who is working at an orphanage in Kisumu. She and two other students will be flown back to Nairobi today due to expected violence over the Constitution vote next Tuesday Nov 21. So what is this all about?

Well, Kenya received it's independence from Great Britain in 1963. And, for the first time since then they are voting on a referendum on a new constitution. The current constitution has been revised several times resulting in a state in which the President has sweeping powers. The new constitution supposedly cuts the powers of the President partly by creating a Prime Minister position.

One of the problems in Kenya is that one third of the adults can't read. So referendum campaigns are organized around symbols, bananas for 'yes' and oranges for 'no'. As usual for Africa, the political situation has resulted in polarization around tribal loyalties. The government is leading a 'yes' campaign while the opposition party wants 'no'. Currently the 'no's' seem to be ahead by about 10%.

There has already been violence in Kenya with fires set and about 8 people killed. However, now there is a rumor that 'yes' party people are being trained by ex-servicemen 'to cause chaos' at the vote.

St. Lawrence is taking no chances and is flying the students in Kisumu back to the compound in Karen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Where Does Bush Stand?

From latest Gallop Poll:

Handling Terrorism: 48% approve - 49% disapprove. What? Now you don't feel safer?

Foreign Affairs: 37% approve - 59% disapprove. Damn you France lovers!

Economy: 37% approve (especially oil companies) - 61% disapprove. You got your tax cuts didn't you?

Iraq War: 35% approve - 63% disapprove. But what about 9/11?

Federal Spending: 26% approve - 71% disapprove. So you don't like borrow and spend?

Immigration: 26% approve - 65% disapprove. No one likes immigrants.

This Week's Rants

We need 70 billion dollars worth of 'temporary' cuts in capital gains and dividends. So to fund those cuts we need to cut 12 billion in medicaid, 14 billion in student aid, and 848 million in food stamp aid. Let them eat cake.

We need to reject over-the-counter sale of 'Plan B' (morning after) contraceptive medication because our conservative base doesn't like it. How do we influence the scientists at the Food and Drug Administation to prevent over-the-counter sales? Convince the agency that younger adolescents might engage in unsafe sexual behavior with Plan B available even though this is an age-based criterion never before raised for an over-the-counter contraceptive.

Everyone had access to the same intelligence that Bush used to justify invading Iraq. Does anyone actually believe this? Even President Clinton was convinced that the intelligence indicated Iraq wanted to pursue a nuclear weapons program. Bush was actually working with the same intelligence that Clinton used. Old intelligence! And, Clinton was convinced that pressure and inspections were working to prevent Iraq from proceeding with their nuclear ambitions. Bush thought there was soon going to be a mushroom cloud. Same intelligence, different conclusions. What is really bothersome to me is that Bush convinced a majority of people in this country that Iraq was involved with the 9/11 attacks. He didn't come right out and say so, but he was always sure to talk about Sadam Hussain, the war on terror and 9/11 at the same time, over and over and over. I think a sizable minority of people still think Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

Republicans denied the right of Habeas Corpus in the reconstruction period after the Civil War and they are trying to do the same thing now to persons being held by the USA in our base in Cuba. It was wrong in the 1860's and it is wrong now.

Not much to say here, but I never thought our country would be debating whether torture is legal or not.

I agree with Jimmy Carter. Something is fundamentally wrong with our country right now and we are sitting around like sheep to the slaughter letting it happen.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Presidential Medal of Freedom

Unlike retired CIA director George Tenet, two people I respect recently received the presidential Medal of Freedom.

Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager of 'Hotel Rwanda' fame


Muhammad Ali, a guy who knew the Vietnam War was wrong

Guess Who is Saying This... March, 2003, Bush, in perhaps the greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history, invaded an Arab nation that had not attacked us, did not want war with us, and did not threaten us—to strip it of weapons we now know it did not have.

Result: Shia and Kurds have been liberated from Saddam, but Iran has a new ally in southern Iraq, Osama has a new base camp in the Sunni Triangle, the Arab and Islamic world have been radicalized against the United States, and copy-cat killers of Al Qaida have been targeting our remaining allies in Europe and the Middle East: Spain, Britain, Egypt and Jordan. And, lest we forget, 2055 Americans are dead and Walter Reed is filling up.

Pat Buchanan

WARNING! - Tinfoil Hats Proved Not to Work!

Engineering students at MIT recently did a study showing that tinfoil hats do not protect you from invasive radio signals. To see the results click here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

White Phosphorus in Fallujah

I've been following this story since Monday. International press reported that white phosphorus was used as an anti-personnel weapon during the fighting in Fallujah last year. It first sounded too much like a conspiracy theory so I thought let's see what develops. Evidently there are pictures and video of people severely burned. White phosphorus is normally used either as a white smoke marker or as a means of lighting an area at night. We'll see if this makes the mainstream media or not.

A Trip to Vermont

Yesterday Maureen and I went to the Burlington International Airport to pick up my mother (who was returning from FL). We decided to take the Crown Point bridge over to Burlington and then take the Cumberland head ferry on our return. I wanted to go through Crown Point because it was a nice bright but cool day. I wanted to stop at the Crown Point ruins of the forts built and used prior to and during the French and Indian War. There are alot more pictures and history if you click the link. Notice I said forts. The ruins of another fort, Ft. St. Frederic are also there. Click on link for picts and history. I don't want to use up all my free flickr space.

fort 029

This is a picture taken from the 'walls' of the fort. In the foreground is the Officers barracks and further back is the Enlisted barracks. The inside of the fort is about 4 acres. Just below where I'm standing is the well that supplied the fort with water.

fort 002

This picture is taken at the entrance to the fort. Officers barracks on the left, enlisted further back. There are the ruins of a third building that was the armory. A third barracks was to have been built, to the right, but never was finished.

This is an awesome place to be alone on a nice Spring or Fall day. You can wander around freely with no one to bother you. Sorta reminds me of when I visited Stonehenge back in 1975. You could park your car on the side of the road. Walk to the stones, climb on them, touch them etc. Those days are long gone. I'm sure the same will eventually happen at Crown Point.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Rep. John Hostettler (Ind.) was one of 11 Republicans to oppose funds for rebuilding Katrina huricane damage. Yesterday, Rep. Hostettler asked President Bush for money to help victims of another natural disaster... the tornado that ripped through many areas in his 8th District in Indiana. The congressman did vote to help tsunami victims halfway around the world and rebuild Iraq but I guess aiding poor Americans drenched by hurricanes is different...unless of course a disaster hits your congressional district and you want to be re-elected.

Hippo Point Lake Naivasha Kenya

Julia just emailed from Kisumu. She is living with 3 other women her age and working at Covenant Home.

"today I took a group of kids to Hippo Point and we went on a boat ride which was a little sketchy, the boat was like a big cannoe and we shoved 25 people in it and I thought for a few mins it might sink but we made it to where we were headed. we didnt see any hippos but evidently they come to the field next to where I am staying at night, so hopefully I will see some."

Why do they always overload boats in developing countries? I doubt there were any life preservers. Who wants to hear about a boat load of orphans drowning or being attacked by hippos?

Monday, November 07, 2005

A November Afternoon

lower saranac lake november afternoon

Lower Saranac Lake taken from the Trudeau Institute balcony.

Bible Not True?

Turns out the Vatican does not believe the bible to be true in all instances

Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing “intelligent design” to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.

But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops insist cannot be “historical”. At most, they say, they may contain “historical traces”.

The Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation, they say, but continue: “We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.”

Untrue example:

Genesis iii, 16

God said to the woman [after she was beguiled by the serpent]: “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

True example:

Luke i

The Virgin Birth

xodus iii, 14

God reveals himself to Moses as: “I am who I am.”

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Julia in Kenya

Today is the last day of classes for Julia. In the next day or so she heads for Kisumu where she will be working at Covenant Home, an orphanage. Julia finally sent us a couple pictures out of the hundreds she has taken.


Julia talking to people who carry sticks.


Um I'm no expert, but should you really get so close to a rhino? I guess she was with experts when she took this picture, so Ok.


Julia and her classmates near a Baobob tree. I guess the 'lorry' in the background is their major means of transport. Julia is 5th from the left (standing). Only 16 students in this semesters class. Next semester has 30 students.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Forged Yellowcake Documents - How Did We Get Them?

Oct 15, 2001 (shortly after 9/11). Italian Prime minister Berlusconi and SISMI Chief Nicolo Pollari make official visit to Wash. DC

Pollari meets with CIA and provides SISMI dossier containing 'evidence' that Iraq is attempting to purchase yellowcake from Niger. Gave same intel to Great Britain.

The British, the CIA and the US State Department declare the intel to be 'lacking in detail' and 'very limited' in scope.

Feb 2002, the report is resubmitted (description below tells how it got there) to Washington with embellishments. Joe Wilson goes to Niger and then declares the information could not be confirmed.

Sept 2002, Michael Ledeen, Cheney's 'Office of Special Plans' man in Italy sets up secret meeting between SISMI Chief Pollari and Deputy National Security Director Stephan Hadley. (It's not known whether this meeting has anything to do with anything yet, but someone should ask).

Two weeks prior to this meeting Elisabetta Burba of Panorama magazine (owned by Prime Minister Berlusconi) obtained documents from Rocco Martino, a former SISMI officer. He claims to have gotten them from Antonio Nucera, a former SISMI colonel. Nucera had some weird story about a Secretary at the Niger Embassy in Rome being involved.

The documents end up going to the US Embassy instead of the CIA station, thus bypassing agency analysts. They end up directly at the NSC and the Vice Presidents office.

Jan 28, 2003, The famous 16 words about Niger's uranium were used in the Presidents State of the Union address.

What we don't know. Who forged the documents and why? Could SISMI and the Office of Special Plans have been involved? Rocco Martino has stated that Italian and American governments were behind the forgeries.

There is not yet any evidence of an American connection, but there is little doubt that the Office of Special Plans circumvented procedures so that the documents were received by people that wanted to believe them.

Joe Wilson publicly denounced the documents in a New York Times editorial, thus the resulting attack on him and his wife.

I've been following this story closely because this is where the trial of Scooter Libby could eventually lead.

Closed Senate Session Worked!

"U.S. Senators reached an agreement to monitor a congressional investigation into the Bush administration's use of intelligence about Iraq after Democrats forced an unusual closed session on the Senate floor to draw attention to the issue". (Bloomberg)

Are Democrats finally going to start acting like an opposition party? Yesterday was a first step in that direction. Are we getting closer to investigating the cover up of the forging of documents alleging that Iraq attempted to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger? This is what the Plame outing was actually all about.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Senator Harry Reid Rocks!

This afternoon he invoked Rule 21 which had the result of putting the Senate into closed session. He wants the Senate Intelligence Comm. to start doing the oversight it promised it would do. Harry wants answers to the following questions:

o How did the Bush Administration assemble its case for war against Iraq?
o Who did Bush Administration officials listen to and who did they ignore?
o How did senior Administration officials manipulate or manufacture intelligence presented to the Congress and the American people?
o What was the role of the White House Iraq Group or WHIG, a group of senior White House officials tasked with marketing the war and taking down its critics?
o How did the Administration coordinate its efforts to attack individuals who dared to challenge the Administration’s assertions?
o Why has the Administration failed to provide Congress with the documents that will shed light on their misconduct and misstatements?

I'd add, who instigated the fake Italian yellowcake memos?

June 12, 2003

This is the day that Vice President Dick FU Cheney 'advised' Scooter Libby that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA. Shortly thereafter, Libby discussed Joe Wilson and his wife with members of the press. What else did Dick Cheney have to say to Scooter on June 12th? Did Scooter just decide to go ahead and 'out' Plame to the press on his own? If there is a trial I'm pretty sure the Dickster would be called to testify. Will he tell the truth?

Who Are the Judicial Activists?

How often has each justice voted to strike down a law passed by Congress?

Thomas: 65.63%
Kennedy: 64.06%
Scalia: 56.25%
Rehnquist: 46.88%
O'Connor: 46.77%
Souter: 42.19%
Stevens: 39.34%
Ginsburg: 39.06%
Breyer: 28.13%

Hmmmm, let's see. It would appear that the more 'liberal' justices (bottom 3) are less willing to 'legislate from the bench'. Who would have guessed?

The Green Mountains of Vermont

cvac 017

We went to the CVAC cross country meet last Saturday. It was held at the Plattsburgh beach on a beautiful Fall day. The beach is on Plattsburgh Bay where an important War of 1812 battle occurred on Sept 11, 1814. It was actually a land and naval battle. The American naval forces were commanded by 30 yr old Lt. Thomas Macdonough. The land forces were led by 32 yr old Brig. Alexander McComb. 5000 Yankees and Green Mt. Boys put to flight 14,000 British. The battle was a decisive win for the United States even though both land and naval forces were outnumbered by the British. An excellent history of the battle can be found here. Click on the maps.

Pictured are a portion of the Green Mt. Range in VT, still snow covered from our storm last week. You are looking across a penninsula, Cumberland Head, towards VT.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Hunger in America

The USDA report, Household Food Security in the United States, 2004, says that 38.2 million Americans live in households that suffer directly from hunger and food insecurity, including nearly 14 million children. That figure is up from 31 million Americans in 1999.

Are we a wonderful country full of caring people or what?

Close Call in Nairobi

From Julia:

Today during health class a woman was hit by a police car right outside of the ymca, evidently she was crossing the street and not paying attention, the policemen who hit her took her to the hospital… our health teacher told us it was good they got out of there fast because if they hadn’t the mob of people who had formed to view the accident would have burned the police car and beaten the policemen for hitting the woman. It was intense and it made me scared to cross the streets today.

What About Dick Cheney?

Recent Republican talking point is "there was no underlying crime". Well excuse me. It's kind of difficult to determine if there is an "underlying crime" when everybody is LYING. Scooter Libby is being squeezed. We now know he found out about Valerie Plame from Vice President Dick Cheney. He is lying to protect Cheney. Moreover, Cheney knew he was lying all along. I guess we will see if Scooter is willing to go to jail for Cheney. I don't think there will be a trial because that means Cheney would be called to testify, that just won't happen. Scooter will get 6 months followed by a pardon. The real criminals in the White House will get off scott free. I think we will learn a heck of a lot more about Treasongate if the Wilsons bring a civil lawsuit.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Harriet Miers

Q So are you ruling it out, any withdrawal?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, she is going to be on the bench, she’ll be confirmed — and when she’s on the bench people will see a fantastic woman who is honest, open, humble and capable of being a great Supreme Court Judge.

George, welcome to reality.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I've been following Treasongate pretty closely for reasons I will explain sometime soon. As I understand it, here's how it went down:

1)Bush wants war with Iraq and needs a reason
2)Forged Italian documents indicate Iraq trying to obtain yellowcake from Niger, Bush/Cheney/Rice use this as major evidence for reason to attack Iraq
3)Joe Wilson gets sent to Niger by CIA, finds no evidence of Iraq trying to purchase yellowcake (they really didn't need to cause they already had plenty of yellowcake under international lock and key)
4)Bush gives State of the Union Address with those 16 words.
5)Wilson writes NYT guest editorial saying there was no evidence to support those 16 words (meaning Bush lied)
6)We go to war with Iraq
7)Cheney decides, for some unknown reason that Wilson needs to be discredited. So they tell reporters he went to Iraq on a boondoggle and was sent by his wife
8)Novacula outs Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent as Wilsons wife
9)CIA asks Justice department to investigate. Everyone lies. Rove and Libby, Cheney and Bush among others (funny thing is no law may have been broken, we don't know yet)
10)They get caught in perjury, obstruction of justice and maybe conspiracy


Oddly enough, Stephen Hadley, among other Bush admin. officials had a meeting with Italian intelligence shortly before the documents were 'found'. Things should get interesting and this may be way more important and interesting than the Watergate scandal.

'W' on Iraq War

“We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory”

Fair enough. But 1) offer a fair assessment of where we currently are, 2)define success or 'victory', 3) announce a contingent withdrawal schedule, 4) commit the needed troops and resources, 5) give up permanent bases and designs on Iraqi oil, 6) work on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and finally maybe we should apologize/admit mistakes to someone, even if it's France.

Maasai Market

I was going to put a picture of the Maasai Market here but I've hit my flickr limit. In any case, part of the most recent email from Julia:

...if you have any gift ideas send them my way because I only have one week left at the Maasai market, where I have made a name for myself as one of the best bargainers, see I knew all of the sale shopping I have done my whole life would come in handy.

Drugs for Flu

I've been interested lately in just how effective anti-flu drugs would be in case of a major flu epidemic. Four drugs are available for treatment of influenza: two of them (amantadine and rimantadine) only work for Influenza A, are pretty toxic, and the virus can rapidly generate resistance to the drugs. The other two drugs are the newer neuraminidase inhibitors. These drugs (zanamivir and oseltamivir) interfere with the release of new virus from infected cells thus preventing the spread of infection and the virus does not generate resistance rapidly (I don't believe this has been proven outside of the laboratory). Unfortunately, replication of influenza virus reaches its peak between 24 and 72 hours after the onset of illness, so the drug has to be given really early. Also, don't expect a cure from taking Tamiflu (oseltamivar). In the best cases, it might shorten your illness by a 1.5-2 days if given within 2 days after you are infected. It can also result in a lower frequency of secondary complications. It is also effective in preventing flu symptoms if taken prior to infection. Again, I'm not sure how well this has been proven in real life pandemic situations. In any case, we would need about 4.2 billion doses of the drug to treat everyone in the USA for 14 days.

Oh Yeah - 10-12 Inches of Snow at My House

frost 002

The snow started seriously yesterday about 5 PM or so. By 10 PM we already had at least 6 inches. Above is from the top of my driveway. The trees are bent over seriously and I had to plow through the branches.

frost 001

The rest of our road was the same. The branches are bent over so far that the plow could only make a single lane. I'm worried that the trees will not make it upright again and may have to be cut.

frost 003

Not quite as much snow in the village, maybe 5-6 inches. Almost no snow in Tupper Lake only 15 miles away. Pictured is 'Little Red', the first TB cure cottage built in Saranac Lake. Now standing on the grounds of Trudeau Institute.

Normally the pictures would look a bit better, but I didn't have a chance to 'photoshop' them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


3-5 inches tonight and 6-12 inches tomorrow. Pictures will follow. Check here for current Saranac Lake weather.

Barnum Pond and St. Regis Mt.


Just past Paul Smiths College and the Adirondack Interpretive Center is Barnum Pond. The pond is probably named after P.T. Barnum who stayed at Paul Smiths hotel a century or so ago. In the background is St. Regis Mountain. If you blow the picture up you can see the fire tower on top.

Monday, October 24, 2005

My Return Trip Saturday


Meacham Lake Outlet, half-way between Malone and Saranac Lake.


Meacham Lake dam

Republican Values - RE: Perjury

Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on perjury:

For Bill Clinton (1999): "Something needs to be said that is a clear message that our rule of law is intact and the standards for perjury and obstruction of justice are not gray. Because our system of criminal justice depends on people telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

For Bush Administration officials (yesterday): "if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.”

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Snow Last Night

Saturday started out great. Sunny but cold, nice blue skies, wispy clouds. I took off North to watch the Salmon River Cross Country Invitational. Our HS girls team, which is ranked 4th in the State, were concerned that Section X Malone might beat them. The SL girls not only beat Malone, they destroyed them 40-75. The next best team had 125.


Above is about a quarter mile into the girls varsity race. Although these two SL girls are not in the lead at this point, the first one goes on to win the race and the second girl comes in 3rd. Sydo, the third girl comes in 7th. These girls have a great chance at winning the Class B states this year.


Looking up our driveway from our front porch about 8:30 AM this morning.


Looking at the side yard. More snow expected this week but I doubt it will stick.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Differences Among US Presidents

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts." A. Lincoln

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. . . the Almighty has no attribute that can take side with us in such a contest." T. Jefferson

"No Man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expedience." T. Roosevelt

"When even one American - who has done nothing wrong -- is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all of Americans are in peril." H. Truman

"The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted." J. Madison

"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier."
"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it." G.W. Bush

Friday Scientific Instrument Blogging

instru 002

Can slice meat (and your finger) very very thin.

Finally - A Killing Frost

I think our plants can be considered officially dead now.

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I also had to find my windshield scraper.

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And, a ghostly morning scene on Lake Flower.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Internets Were Down Today

No posts today cuz the internets were down. Looks like tonight will be the first big freeze for Northern NY.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Did Bush Know Rove Leaked Plame's Name?

According to the NY Daily News (, a 'counselor' to Bush has leaked that 'W' has known for 2 yrs that Karl Rove leaked Valerie Plame's name to the press. Bush was supposedly VERY angry with Rove. "Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way."

So Bush knew all along even though he said he didn't. And why was Bush angry with Karl Rove? Not because of what Karl did, but rather the slipshod methods he used. If true, then classic.

I mention all this because I doubt it will be reported very well, although the press does seem to smell blood in the water these days.

Political Animal

I consistantly read 3-4 political blogs because that is how I get my news and I'm a political junkie. My favorite political blog is 'Washington Monthly's' Political Animal authored by Kevin Drum.

One of the topics posted last night concerned the use of liquified coal as an alternative source of internal combustion engine fuel. The govenor of Montana is very interested in this concept because Montana has vast reserves of coal. Anyway, one of the funniest replies I've ever seen is below:

Southpark had an episode in which everyone switched to cars powered by buggery. Might solve the population problem too.

Unfortunately, as the Emperor Justinian pointed out, buggery is the principal cause of earthquakes. We'd just be trading one big problem for another.

However, I did have an idea for cars that run on rage. You'd just get in, hook up the electrodes, think about how much you hate your boss or your ex-wife and zoom! -- off you go!

Plus, we could make a practice of cutting one another off on the road to increase fuel efficiency.

Many know that I'm also a South Park junkie. And the 'buggery' powered vehicle episode was a classic, although it turned out that 'buggery' actually had nothing to do with powering the vehicle.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

So Which is It?

When a Democrat President is the target of a criminal investigation it's all about the "Rule of Law".

When the target is a Republican, all of a sudden it's all about the "Criminalization of Politics".

Nice to know the conservative standard.

Monday, October 17, 2005

James Carroll Asks:

What if God's unknowability is the most illuminating profundity humans can know about God? Comments?

When Will the Sun Return?


It's been like this in my backyard for about 10 days now. I actually got a glimpse of the sun yesterday while driving home from Plattsburgh.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Scientific Instrument Blogging - An Easy One

instruments 001

Julia's Continuing African Adventures

Our latest communication from Julia:

I am back at Karen from lake Nakuru, but only for about an hour because then we are headed to Shompole for some quality time with the Maasai, including a boma homestay of two nights, not really sure what we are going to eat when we are there with them, but hey it should be an adventure. Lake Nakuru was amazing, we saw soooo many cool animals, including lots of white rhino, and one black rhino, 3 leopards, a pride of 7 lions and one mom lion with her two cubs, a lot of cape buffalo, and over 2 million flamingos. We were able to get really close to the animals. We took land cruisers, so we got to sit on the roof of them and get a good view of everything. One day we spent counting these cactus trees too. The trip went by fast, the weather was chilly in the late afternoon and evening but nice and warm during the day!


Info on Lake Nakuru from the internet:

Lake Nakuru is a small, shallow, alkaline-saline lake located in a closed basin without outlets in the Eastern Rift Valley of equatorial East Africa. It is the centre of a most familiar national park of Kenya known for its spectacular bird fauna (495 species), particularly the vast flock of lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor). Being in the Rift Valley where tectonic and volcanic activities as well as climatic changes have been very remarkable, the lake underwent drastic changes during the recent geological ages. About 10,000 years ago, Nakuru and its two neighbor lakes, Elmenteita and Naivasha (60 km south of Nakuru), formed a single deep freshwater lake, which however dried owing to the later desiccation of climate leaving the three separate lakes as remnants. The present maximum depth is about three meters, but the lake water level is still quite variable; the whole lake had been almost dried up several times during the past 50 years (Fig. AFR-07-02) due to unknown reasons. The lake is a soda-lake with a water pH value of 10.5 and an alkalinity of 122 meq l-1. Main ions are sodium and bicarbonate-carbonate. The biota in the lake is very simple as in other saline lakes, consisting of phytoplankters dominated by blue-green algae and very poor planktonic and benthic fauna originally lacking fish. However, the lake is highly eutrophic owing to the vigorous growth of a planktonic blue-green alga, Spirulina platensis, which supports an immense number of alga.grazing lesser flamingo and an increasing population of the introduced fish, Sarotherodon alcalicum grahami, though, in the last several years since 1974, the planktonic productivity and the flamingo population decreased abruptly.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Dinner At My House!

There will be martinis and Dubonnet at cocktail time. Dinner will begin with terrapin soup and sherry, then move on to the turbot and a sincere Sancerre. Next will come the beef Wellington, accompanied by a decent Mouton Rothschild. We will stay with the red wine through the salad and cheese course, and naturally crepes suzette will require Dom Perignon. After dinner, when the gentlemen retire to the library and the ladies upstairs with the hostess, the postprandial liqueurs will be served. [Thank-you Sally Quinn!]


Last June, the polling firm Zogby International asked an important question. If it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, should Congress hold him accountable through impeachment? 42% of those polled said yes while 50% said no.

The people at recently asked Zogby to poll the question again. Zogby refused to do it. So raised money to pay Ipsos Public Affairs to poll the question. "If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable by impeaching him?" 50% said yes and 44% said no. A big change in only 3 months. Support for Clinton impeachment was much lower than this, with only 36% supporting impeachment. notes that "the strong support for impeachment found in this poll is especially surprising because the views of impeachment supporters are entirely absent from the broadcast and print media, and can only be found on the Internet and in street protests, including the large anti-war rally in Washington on September 24." And that, "The lack of coverage of impeachment support is due in part to the fact that not a single Democrat in Congress has called for impeachment".

Lying about blow job = impeachment
Lying to get us into war = ?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

White House Iraq Group

This is the group whose job it was to help Bush convince the American people that invading Iraq was a good idea. Basically, they were the 'marketing' group for the Iraq War. They are the ones that came up with the idea that Saddam had nukes or would have them soon. Members of that group were: Karl Rove, I. Scooter Libby, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Stephen Hadley, Condoleeza Rice, Nicholas Calio (?), and James R. Wilkinson. It is possible that the Plame leak affair may have originated with this group. Documents from that group have been requested by Fitzgerald at least two times. This means conspiracy, which means lots of people could go down. Christmas could come in October!

The conspiracy would have been to intentionally lie to the American people in order to get them to support declaring war on Iraq.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Valerie Plame Affair - Anybody Remember?

What was the major reason the Bush admin. put forth for going to war with Iraq. Well, it was the supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq. Remember we don't need to wait for a mushroom cloud before we defend ourselves from Iraq (paraphrase). It was repeated by Bush, Cheney, and Rice time and time again.

So to settle the question of whether Iraq was trying to purchase yellowcake (an unpurified source of uranium) from Niger, Cheney told the CIA to check it out. They sent ex-ambassidor Joe Wilson to Niger, who then reported back that there was nothing to the allegation that Iraq was trying to purchase yellowcake from Niger. Remember this all happened before we invaded Iraq.

So Bush and company must have known that their wmd claims were doubtful. Even without Scott Ritter yelling over and over that they were not true. Of course Bush ignored Wilson's report and read the famous '16' words in his State of the Union address ("The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa"). Bush needed to exaggerate the evidence to get us into war with Iraq quickly. Possession of WMD was the key to invasion. And, thus we very quickly went off to war to prevent a nuclear (nucular) attack on the USA.

Shortly thereafter Wilson published a guest editorial in the NYT stating that he had found the Niger yellowcake/Iraq allegations to be bogus and subsequently reported such to the CIA.

Since the reason for going to war was WMD, this meant that Karl Rove had to do what he does best. Smear and attack his opponent. He decided to do this by 'outing' Wilsons wife, an undercover CIA agent. Of course he (and Scooter Libby) denied outing Plame (it's been subsequently shown that they both lied about this).

This case has been investigated by Patrick Fitzgerald for the last 2.5 yrs and I expect (and hope) indictments to come down well before the end of this month. If there is a G_d I am hoping that Rove and Libby will be indicted. It would be especially awesome if Bush and/or Cheney were unindicted co-conspirators. Wouldn't mind seeing NYT reporter Judith Miller and Bob Novak end up frog marched into the courtroom as well. We'll see.

Democratic Contract With America

In a week or so the Democrats are coming out with their version of a badly needed "Contract with America". It should and probably will look something like this:

1. A fiscal responsibility act - no spending without identifying how you are going to pay for it. I believe the Clinton admin. had something like this.

2. A right to healthcare act - affordable health insurance for everyone. If Vermont can do it, why can't the rest of the country?

3. A Corporations pay their fair share act - no more no-bid contracts to Haliburton

4. A freedom from middle eastern oil act - an energy policy that will make us energy independent within the next decade

5. A government integrity and accountability act - maybe congressmen should not be allowed to vote on acts that affect companies they have taken money from.

We need Democrats to sign off on something like this and then we need to hold their feet to the fire to insure they keep their word. I for one will be as critical of corrupt Democrats as I am now of corrupt Republicans. Let all corrupt politicians be released, unarmed in the middle of Bagdad.