Sunday, December 31, 2006


Mount Pisgah, Saranac Lake, NY

[Photo from Mt. Pisgah Website]

There is a really good article about the history of Mt. Pisgah in todays Press Republican. The whole article is posted below because I don't want to lose it.

Mt. Pisgah is a very, very special place to thousands of people. I started skiing there in 1955 (56?) when I was in first grade at St. Bernards School. At that time and for some years after, the Village of SL was offering free ski lessons to all school children. You would get picked up after school, in a school bus, your skis would be thrown into a village dump truck and off you would go. And yes, Natalie LeDuc was my ski instructor.

I had a pair of Northwood skis with no metal edges and bare wood bottoms, cable bindings with no quick release. Wax was the rule of the day. The baskets on my ski poles were the size of dinner plates. At that time Mt. Pisgah had a rope tow on the left side of the mountain (no longer there) and a longer rope tow that went to the top of the mountain. If I remember correctly the longer rope tow was actually two rope tows. One took you half way up and the second took you the rest of the way up. A T bar was installed before I ever got to try the "big" rope tow. It took a fair amount of strenght to lift the rope and often two or three of us would go up spaced closely together to make lifting the rope a bit easier. I spent every weekend skiing at Mt. Pisgah. Like the article said, your parents would drop you off in the morning and pick you up at night.

From middle school until high school graduation we skied every night til 10 PM and every weekend from morning til night. A seasons pass was only $5. You had to have the right equipment too. Henke boots, Kastle skis (although Head would be ok and if you were really different Hart) and marker bindings (with long thongs).

Ski historian Natalie Leduc recollects years of memories
Staff Writer
December 31, 2006
SARANAC LAKE — It was a tow rope hooked to an old ambulance engine tugging skiers to the top of one of the first ski areas in Saranac Lake.

They drove it up Mount Dewey by the time snow flew.

But that was before Skyview and its progeny Mount Pisgah, if ski areas have lives — which some say they do as the sweep of a thousand runs breathes life into bodies careening down a white mountain slope under sapphire skies or a dizzying fluster of downy flakes.

Natalie Leduc, a world-renowned ski historian who lives beside Mt. Pisgah, taught thousands to ski in over 50 years.

She raced these hills early on, through high school and college — with the boys' team. It was almost before girls skied.

A sequence of photos in her tidy basement turned ski history center — stacked to the ceiling with books, photos and memorabilia — pretty much tells it all.

"That is my mother skiing pregnant with me," Leduc pointed and paused.

"And that's me in the backpack," she said of the next frame.

The photo shows a tiny child bundled up looking casually over a mother's shoulder.

"And there I am, the next year, on skis."

At about age 2, barely walking, she dared resist gravity.

Leduc is quick to cherish the power of a human spirit on skis; the very thought of the familiar tug of a rope tow on snow-crusted woolen mittens makes her smile.

"Oh, it was such a great joy, great joy, and freedom."

Kids used to flock to the rope tow on the early hills as soon as they got up in the morning or once school let out, she said. Their shouts of excitement steamed in the cold air.

"And you could go without your parents," Leduc said.

A kind of chivalry emerged among young skiers when boys showed maybe-sweethearts how to grapple the rope, wrapping two arms around the girl and holding on for dear life as the yank tugged them together.

Some capricious children skied way out of the tow-line tracks and snapped the rope back sending some buddy behind them, and sometimes the whole rope, twanging off the line and pulleys.

Leduc laughed and pulled a binder from a central row on the bookshelves.

Her chronicles tell the entire history of skiing dating back to the earliest days in Scandinavia when it was mostly a mode of travel.

"Here, you'll really love this," she said.

The story in four thin, single-spaced, hand-typed pages written by Curt Wamsganz tells how he created the first incarnation of a ski tow that later moved to Mount Pisgah.

"In September of 1946," he wrote at Leduc's request in the 1970s, "my brother Raymond 'Pappy,' Joe Perry and myself decided to build a ski tow."

It was an adventure carved out of cow pasture under cold starry skies on a hill owned by Martin Donnelly.

They put ski slopes in place on a "permanent basis" by clearing the hill with an axe and a two-man crosscut saw.

To operate the rope tow, they found a 1936 Ford V-8 motor in a farmer's field in Vermontville and overhauled it one sprocket at a time.

"All of this," he wrote, "had to be performed at night from 6:30 till about ten, then off to Durgan's or the Belvedere for a nite cap."

They built a motor shack and a ticket booth and set "rejected" telephone poles donated by Jim Tanzini into hand-dug holes.

But to make the "special order" ski tow rope into one continuous 2,000-foot loop was another feat.

"Managed to find a Norwegian sailor sent here with others in 1945 to cure T.B.," Wamsganz wrote.

"We all went up one nite in late November, fortified with two bottles of Black Velvet ... Started about 8 p.m. to lay back and unwind 100's of individual strands, by midnight he had finished making a 25-foot splice that was almost impossible to detect. The end of November was bitter cold and at 5 below zero with his hands ungloved our Norwegian friend had made a minor miracle, the spliced rope glided over the drive wheels nice and smooth."

The grand opening at Skyview on Christmas Day was crowded, he said, with all kinds of local people: "doctors, lawyers, dentists, teachers, one minister, college students plus a gang of high school guys and gals."

And when traffic backed up, Wamsganz solved the problem by trading a friend who ran a highway plow a bottle of Black Velvet for plowing parking space on each side of the road for a quarter mile.

The season went on.

"Lawsuits? Never heard of them," he wrote. "Standard procedure ask Dr. Murphy don't move him or her go down and bring up a toboggan" and put them into the back of a "real wood trim station wagon toboggan and all."

It only happened a few times.

That tow ran from Christmas 1946 until April of 1950, when Mount Pisgah was "getting better developed every year under Tom Cantwell, Bob DeMerse and others.

"Whiteface Mountain had opened their new location on the Wilmington notch road where we used to cross a little foot bridge and climb all day to get one ski run down, FALLING MOST OF the way."

So when then Saranac Lake village manager Frank Buck Sr. offered the Wamsganz boys $300 for the specially-made ski motor and hand-spliced rope, they accepted.

"To this day," Wamsganz wrote, "there is a little bit of Skyview Ski Ctr. left. Every time you go out to Donnelly's in the summer to get one of their famous ice cream cones you step into what was once our warm up hut."

And Pisgah was born of that same spliced-seamless rope.

Leduc shook her head chuckling, and opened other pages of raw history.

"On November 15, 1948, the village board held a discussion on the possibility of a lease" for property on a potato farm — then called Trudeau Hill because the sanatorium, now American Management Association, Leduc said, was just over the hill.

Exactly one day later (Nov. 16) the lease was signed and the ski tow equipment from Skyview was moved to Mt. Pisgah.

"The first 32 days took in $564.53 with expenses of $421.68. The village ski center was off and running."

That first year, Leduc said, reaching again for a binder packed full of page protectors, had a special consignment.

She pulled another hand typed letter from Alice DeMerse O'Hare, who, as a young woman, bought the first concession at Mt. Pisgah for $15.

"Pisgah was always more than just a ski hill, it belonged to the people and they really enjoyed it," O'Hare declared in her letter. "The whole town would come up for lunch."

O'Hare chronicled her day and her mother's while they made hot chocolate and fresh sandwiches in two trips back to town daily to keep food supplies fresh.

But from among the pressed typewritten pages, Leduc pulled a recipe for Mt. Pisgah Ski Cake, originally "Dougal Cake" from "Mom" Demers — named Ski Cake in 1940.

"Note," the recipe says, "may be frozen in squares and wrapped individually. Keeps well. This cake was cooked on an old type stove, therefore, be careful not to over cook on hotter modern stoves."


Leduc smiled and copied the recipe.

"The 1950s and 60s found the Saranac Ski Club very active at Mt. Pisgah conducting picnics, clinics, obstacle races, work sessions, collegiate high school races among other activities.

"From 1952 to 1969, the Saranac Lake School System provided free ski instruction and transportation for every child attending grades 2 to 8. It was one of the earliest programs of this kind conducted in the East. Each school was given its 'own day' and classes were held five days a week under Natalie Bombard Corl Leduc, a local PSIA Certified Instructor."

Leduc looked up and chuckled at the thought of children holding on for the first time.

"The rope tow was long. Someone had to get in front and hold it up for you."

But the countless red-cheeked faces, many of whom she recalls today, couldn't wait for their day at Mt. Pisgah.

"They would bring up five or six elementary school classes and put all their skis in the truck and take them out and line them up for the children. It was amazing. We had quite a few kids without skis, but we had extras in a closet and each kid knew which pair was theirs.

"What wonderful times those were," she said. "It's remained an ideal hill all these years."

And so, from the whir of a flywheel turning magical seamless rope to the clean sassy twirl of a t-bar lift, the ski area brings multitudes of people, young and old, to love the white-covered winter Adirondack landscape.

Kareen Tyler, Saranac Lake village clerk and president of the Saranac Lake Ski Club, names the various bands of dedicated people who coordinate events and take care of the mountainside.

Friends of Mount Pisgah, NYSEF training and races, the village board, the ski club and the flocks of young people who still bundle up and flock to the slope for ski and snowboard lessons nearly every day of the week.

Tyler's eyes brighten knowing how central the wintry slope is to a town and the woman who trained generations to ski.

"She's unbelievable," Tyler said of Leduc, and grinned knowing how much the mountain gives the village every year when weather cooperates.

And how hard the grooming crew works when it doesn't.

"It's a part of us all."

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam is Dead

That was efficient and now everyone is happy. Those that hated Saddam (Shiites) are happy because God answered their prayers with the execution of Saddam. The Sunnis are also happy because Saddam died as a warrior for God and now sits with God in heaven as a revered martyr. I guess God wins either way.

The date for hanging Saddam was perfect. The Feast of Sacrifice (Eid-al-Adha) begins today. It commemorates Ibraham's (Abraham) willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son. Muslims believe the son to be Ishmael rather than Isaac as told in the Old Testament. Ishmael is considered the forefather of the Arabs.

Shiites celebrate the feast on Sunday and Sunnis celebrate it on Saturday. Iraq law forbids executions on a major feast day. Looks like the Sunnis lost out on this one.

Friday, December 29, 2006

It's Hard Work....It's Hard Work!

President Bush needs more time to plan his new Iraq War strategy. But, he did work hard today.
President Bush worked nearly three hours at his Texas ranch on Thursday to design a new U.S. policy in Iraq, then emerged to say that he and his advisers need more time to craft the plan he'll announce in the new year.

Saddam Hangs Tomorrow

I don't see the point of this - although is anyone really surprised with the outcome of the trial. What's the rush to hang him? I'll go on record as opposed to executing Saddam. It won't change a thing in Iraq and may actually make things worse.

"The Americans want him to be hanged respectfully," al-Nueimi said. If Saddam is humiliated publicly or his corpse ill-treated "that could cause an uprising and the Americans would be blamed," he said. (Excite News)
Why is al-Nueimi even talking about what Americans want? Wasn't Saddam tried in an Iraqi court? How does one get executed respectfully? And, whatever happens to Saddam, Americans are going to be blamed. Isn't there enough killing in Iraq and the Middle East?

Meanwhile, US TV networks are planning "tasteful" coverage of the execution. Do you think Fox News will air the execution?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

President Bush is Stressed

Op-Ed in todays Wash Post.
The stress of the job -- so well hidden for much of the past six years -- has begun to show on Bush's face. He often looks burdened, distracted, haunted by a question that has no good answer.
He got himself into a big global mess with "a question that has good answer." I don't feel sorry for Bush but I do feel sorry for our country. Bush made his bed and now he has to sleep in it and we and the rest of the world will suffer for years to come because of his pig-headedness.
"I believe that we're going to win," and then adding oddly, as if to reassure himself: "I believe that -- and by the way, if I didn't think that, I wouldn't have our troops there. That's what you've got to know. We're going to succeed."
Ok, great. Define success and tell us precisely how we are going to succeed.

$125 Million Dollar Courthouse in Gitmo

That amount of money would fund 25 research scientist for 5 yrs. Instead it's being used to build a courthouse to try 80 "terrorists".
"Although the Pentagon estimates that no more than 80 of the 400 or so terrorism detainees here will ever be tried, it is moving forward with plans for a $125-million legal complex.

I suggest that after the 80 prisoners are tried and they no longer have use for the new "courthouse", maybe they can turn it into the G. W. Bush Memorial Library.

Friday, December 22, 2006

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
His Most Noble Lord Peter the Cannibalistic of Featherstonehaugh St Fanshaw
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Soy Makes You Gay

I didn't comment on the absurd article by Jim Rutz in WorldNetDaily "Soy is making kids gay". But now he has written part 2 of the article to provide proof that soy makes kids gay.

There is an article published at the FDA website called "Soy: Health Claims for Soy Protein,Questions About Other Components".

There is another article published in "Environmental Health Perspectives" called "The Science of Soy: What Do We Really Know?"

Go ahead and read the articles. Report back here where it says eating soy makes kids gay.

(Rev.?) Rutz, founder of Open Church Ministries, seems to think that isoflavines = phytoestrogens = estrogen = gay. Jim Rutz might know something about megachurches and being an Amway distributor but he doesn't know crap about science. Oh yeah, he also lives in Colorado Springs, the hotbed of homophobia and hometown of Pastor Ted Haggard and Pastor Paul Barnes both god-fearing anti-gay gay guys.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Have you visited Tom "Bug Killer" Delay's website yet? It's all new from the original website which allowed comments for all of 75 minutes. Needless to say, the comments were not very complementary to Mr. Delay. The new website allows comments if you register.

As you might expect, Mr. Delay links to such wonderful conservative websites such as Little Green Footballs, Michelle Malkin and Powerline. It's not really clear how much of the blog is actually written by Mr. Delay.....probably about 0%.
No one should imagine Mr. DeLay sitting in front of a computer monitor and keyboard, hunting and pecking as his Web site is updated each day. “I’m not a very good typist,” he said. “That would take me forever.” He readily acknowledged that he barely used the Internet, let alone a personal computer, before he got into this.

“I write my thoughts down in longhand,” he explained of his blogging technique. “Someone else puts it in.” Whatever the process, he said, everything that finally appears on the Web site “reads the way I say it.”
That's really cool, he gets to "say it" without really "saying it".

Fort La Présentation Association

The Fort La Presentation Association wants to build a replica of this French and Indian War era fort on the original site, Lighthouse Point in Ogdensburg, NY. You can see a drawing of the site plans here, an elevation here and plans for the visitor center here.

The fort was founded by the Abbe Francois Picquet in 1749. The Abbe wanted to convert the Iroquis to Catholicism and to make them allies of the French. Find much more history of the fort here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Thank You Victoria for Inventing Airborne!

We need more drugs (oops, "dietary supplement") developed by 2nd grade teachers! One dose of Airborne will protect you for 3 hours against catching a cold! Awesome! And what a bargain, it only costs $4.99 for 10 tablets! Moreover, there is scientific proof that it works, just click here and read the "clinical study" (it doesn't come up for me, but maybe it will for you). The "clinical trial" was done by GNG Pharmaceutical Services.
GNG is actually a two-man operation started up just to do the Airborne study. There was no clinic, no scientists and no doctors. The man who ran things said he had lots of clinical trial experience. He added that he had a degree from Indiana University, but the school says he never graduated. (here)

"Thank you for using Airborne! I created Airborne because, as a teacher I needed help supporting my immune system, especially in the classroom." - Victoria Knight-McDowell, 2nd grade teacher & developer of Airborne formula.
USA! USA! USA! We are number 1!

Low Frequency Noise and Wind Turbines

I was speaking with an attorney a couple weeks ago and the topic of wind turbines came up. He is representing the local opposition to wind turbine construction. One of the big worries of wind turbine opponents is the effects of low frequency sound. These are sounds between the range of 10 -200 Hz (sound below 20 Hz is called infrasound). Infrasound is not heard by most people but that doesn't mean it isn't sensed at all. It seems there is room for research on the topic of effects of infrasound on humans. It appears that a small percentage of the population might be more sensitive to low frequency sound (abstract here).

A list of review papers on effects of low frequency sound here.

White paper on wind turbine noise here.

Powerpoint presentation on infrasound and noise perception here.

Calculate the wind turbine noise on your property here (maybe only works for UK?).

Wind Turbine Sound calculator from Denmark here and sound map here.

Study on who is annoyed by wind turbine noise and why here.

Wind power opposition here.

Article by Nina Pierpont, local anti-wind turbine activist, here.

Will Kinney, physicist, calls it junk science (at least he doesn't list his academic degrees after his name everytime it is written).

Everything you want to know about why wind power is bad here.

UPDATE: I want to point out that I am in favor of wind generated power in the North Country. I think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Poinsettia Not Poisonous

Good Christmas news! Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) ingestion can give an upset tummy if you eat enough of them and the sap irritates your skin, but they are not all that toxic. Also see this abstract in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Merry Christmas

I've been elfacized.

You Are One of the Richest People on Earth

Go to the Global Rich List and type in your income to find out where you stand in the world.

Let's say you are one of those Goldman Sachs people getting a $100 million dollar bonus. You would be in the top 0.001% richest people on earth or 107,565th richest person on earth.

Only make $18,000 a year? You are still in the top 11.6% of income earners.

Who Would Join?

Tell me which group you would like to join and why.

The Trilateral Commission

The Illuminati

The Free Masons


The Rosicrucians

Skull and Bones

The Bilderberg Group

Knights of Pythias

El Yunque

More Sir Francis Galton F.R.S.

Sir Francis Galton has his own website. It's only right since he is the "Father of Statistics" and the cousin of Charles Darwin.

Here is young Sir Francis (age unknown). Still looks like me.

Here is old Sir Francis (age 73). Make up your own mind if it looks like me.

Who is this?

Is this me or someone else?

Find the answer here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Church on the Hill, Lenox, MA

To my friend Natalie, I hope you find this blog.

Pendragon Theatre and Carmelite Monastery

Photo from Historic Saranac Lake

Last night we attended a nice little reception at the above house located on Franklin Ave. in Saranac Lake. It's the former Carmelite Monastery, before that a private cure cottage owned by the Hudsons and now a vacation home. With the advent of anti-TB drugs it was no longer of use as a cure cottage. The house was given to the Carmelite Order of nuns. The nuns left Saranac Lake in 1998 and the house was sold to a private individual. Eighteen bedrooms, seven bathrooms, numerous fireplaces, a couple of kitchens and at least three staircases leading to the upper floors. The giant front living room was the previous chapel where Catholic Masses were held. One room for the public and another screened room for the nuns.

The reception was for friends of Pendragon Theatre. The owner of the house wrote a radio play called "A Franklin Manor Christmas" that was performed prior to the reception. The play was based on the new owners experiences in restoring the house.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Body Worlds 2

Body Worlds 2 is in Boston until Jan. 7th. I am definitely going to go see it. This display has been a big hit in Europe and the people I know that have seen it have raved about it.

Not the "freepers" though. They see the exhibit as an abomination and a celebration of the "culture of death."
Nothing shocking about this, you say, it's just what passes for modern art these days? Ah, but there's an important difference. Von Hagens' "Bodyworks" exhibit is not representational art -- the usual paintings or sculptures or even photographs -- but actual human bodies or body parts from 200 dead men, women and children preserved, dissected, mutilated and put on display to entertain. [My emphasis]
Ok, I'm pretty sure I will be entertained. But I'll be educated while I'm being entertained as well. The "freepers" are concerned whether consent was obtained from the persons whose bodies are used in the exhibit.

You would think the "freepers" would visit the Body Worlds website to obtain some information. Maybe they could even download the information concerning body donation (pdf file).
Von Hagens' purpose is simple: He wants to reduce the human body to a mere object. How better to do it than to take real bodies and defile, manipulate and pervert them from flesh and blood into plastic for the purpose of amusing those with a particularly ghoulish appetite? In the process, he goes way beyond objectification. He denigrates not only the human body but life itself.
I guess I'll never understand the "freeper" mindset. The human body is something to be hidden, kept secret, not talked about. I really don't see how the "freepers" are any different than those that prevented human dissection in the dark ages. We certainly don't want anyone to learn the anatomy, physiology or health conditions of their bodies! "Freepers" must believe that there is no need for a person to understand their body. And the children! Think about the children! The exhibit is appropriate for 5th graders on up.

The River City Project

Teachers at Stafford Middle School in Plattsburgh, NY are requiring their students to go online to play a computer game. The game is part of the River City Curriculum Project out of Harvard University and supported by the National Science Foundation. Normally this wouldn't interest me all that much because I surely hope that computers are being used in school for more than keyboarding and wordprocessing. But it interests me for a few reasons.

First, the game takes place in the late 19th century in River City, USA. There's trouble in River City and it begins with a 'D' and ends with ease. It's the students job to find out what the heck is going on and how to solve the problems. Remember, this game takes place in an era where the germ theory of disease is just becoming an excepted theory.
As visitors to River City, students travel back in time, bringing their 21st century skills and technology to address 19th century problems. River City is a town besieged with health problems. Students work together in small research teams to help the town understand why so many residents are becoming ill. Students use technology to keep track of clues that hint at causes of illnesses, form and test hypotheses, develop controlled experiments to test their hypotheses, and make recommendations based on the data they collect, all in an online environment.
The objectives of this learning environment are 1) to learn the principles and concepts of science; 2) acquire the reasoning and procedural skills of a scientist; 3) devise and carry out investigations that test their ideas; 4) understand why such investigations are uniquely powerful.

The students interact with a reporter in River City named Kent Brock. Kent tells the students some things and asks them lots of questions that tests the students ability to explain, interpret, apply, give perspective, empathize and be self-aware. Students are allowed to review and critique Kent's articles before they go to press.

This sounds like it's far more than a game. It's almost like traveling back in time to obtain a real-life educational experience. It's a powerful tool because it uses "active learning" rather than passive learning. No one is lecturing you. You have to find out things on your own (with the help of other students in the multi-user environment). You can learn more about the active learning practices here at the Harvard active learning website.

BTW, there are 3 diseases attacking the good people of River City in 1890. Any guesses as to what these 3 diseases might be?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


This is the "Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care" or AAALAC. They are a non-profit, private organization that promotes the humane treatment of laboratory animals. This is all fine and good. It's an organization you can pay to insure that you are in compliance with state and federal regulations concerning the use of laboratory animals.

It's expensive to be a member of AAALAC. The fees are based on the square footage of your research facility. It's not clear if that means the area of the animal facility or the entire facility. The initial application fee is $3,200 - >$11,200. The annual fee is $2,100 - >$7,400. But the costs of complying with AAALAC recommendations can be much, much greater.

A copy of the "streamlined" program description can be found here (pdf). Basically, they want to know what you are doing with the animals and how you are doing it. How the animals are being housed, food or water restrictions etc. Fine, no problem. Who is your veterinarian (more costs)? What is your research funding? Next they want to know about health and hazard risks to personnel. How this relates to the humane treatment of animals is beyond me, but ok, let's hire a safety officer (more expense). BTW, the safety officer will ALWAYS ultimately tell you that the safety of personnel is up to the principal investigator.

Why do AAALAC inspectors need to come into your research lab? Syringe and needle inventory? Why should they care what chemicals you have on your shelves? What does that have to do with the humane treatment of lab animals?

AAALAC has a "Council of Accreditation" made up of "highly accomplished animal care and use professionals." Notice anything about their qualifications?

AAALAC does take the time to justify itself to researchers:
If you're a researcher, you know that there are many regulations and requirements surrounding the use of animals in research. So at first glance, it may seem that participating in AAALAC's voluntary accreditation program is perhaps unnecessary—or just one more hurdle standing between you and your work.
AAALAC benefits us, we are told, by eliminating variables, encouraging "performance-based" oversite and enhancing funding opportunities.

The real purpose of AAALAC is (1) to cover the butts of institute administrators; (2) to provide jobs for veterinarians that don't like working with animals and want to be administrators; (3) to give some sort of "cover" to investigators such that they can justify their humane use of experimental animals; (4) make it somewhat easier to apply for grants and publish research papers; (5) to find more and more ways they can insinuate themselves into the research process in order to insure continued existence of their organization.

Very little of what AAALAC does actually affects the health and humane treatment of laboratory animals. Unless file cabinet after file cabinet full of paper work somehow protects the animals.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Limits of Medicine

That's the book I'm currently reading (ISBN 0-226-30207-5). It's about "how science shapes our hope for the cure." Dr. Ed Golub, a well know immunologist, tells us how we have given credit to medicine in improving our lives when the credit really belongs to other factors. Our lives have been extended, not primarily due to medical discoveries, but to public health. We live longer today because of sanitation, access to clean water, personal hygiene and a higher standard of living. I've only just gotten into the first few chapters. Dr. Golub does a really good job pointing out how until recently disease and early death were so pervasive that there was very little comment on it. It's just the way things were. In 17th century France one person in four died before his first birthday. Another one in four died before their 20th birthday and another quarter never reached the age of 45. Dr. Golub quotes Voltaire concerning Rousseau first visit to Paris in 1742.
"The strong smell of excrement pervaded the environment, and the stench of public places was both terrible and ceaselessly condemned. The vile smelling effluvia of the faubourg St.-Marcel de Justice, in the Louvre, in the Tuileries, at the Museum, even at the Opera...the quays revolted the sense of smell." Excrement was everywhere: in alleys; at the foot of milestones; in cabs; in the gutters into which the cesspools were emptied; on the urine-stained walls of houses.
Things weren't much better in this country. NYC in 1865:
Domestic garbage and filth of every kind is thrown into the streets, covering their surface, filling the gutters, obstructing the sewer culverts, and sending forth perennial emanations which must generate pestiferous disease.
Is there any wonder that there was pestiferous disease? People died from infections due to their living conditions. But survival rates increased long before the discoveries of antibiotics and most vaccines. Remember, in 1865, the germ theory of disease was not commonly accepted in the medical community. Especially in the USA at that time.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dec 7th

Dec. 7, 1941 7:55 AM Pear Harbor was attacked. It's also the anniversary of my PhD thesis defense. A date I specifically chose because of its significance.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Do Only Conservatives Have Common Sense?

What is common sense? I like the idea that it is what people would “sense in common” as their natural understanding. What “common people” would agree upon (Both from Wikipedia)? Albert Einstein said “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by the age of 18.” I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a “common sense” conservative. According to “Source Watch” A common sense conservative is an often-radical advocate of right-wing politics who adopts the rhetoric of so-called "common sense" (a concept much debated in philosophy) and outward aspects of "conservatism" (a resentment of social welfare systems and usually also immigration) in order to advance this radical agenda. I even found a “common sense” Bill of Rights which all begin with “you do not have a right”. Even “compassionate conservatives” have their common sense rules. For example:

Well, I think that when you receive something for free, there should be some common sense restrictions on how you live. When I was growing up, if I borrowed my parents' car, there were things I could and couldn't do. If I broke their rules: no car.

Similarly, those who receive government help should be held to certain basic requirements. They should have a real job, for example, or be out every day actively looking for one. McDonalds is always hiring — just look at their signs on any street corner. Minimum wage sure beats no wage.

After that, those living on the public dole should be held to standards of personal pride and respectability. Their yards shouldn't be unsightly and all grown up with weeds. Their houses shouldn't be peeling paint, or their windows unwashed. Assuming they aren't just wandering around the streets, these people should also have to take a bath every few days, put on clean clothes, and even keep their hair trimmed neatly. After all, cleanliness is next to godliness, as the old folks used to say back before the Federal government took over being our savior.
If you want a “common sense” President you should vote for John McCain.

“Common sense conservatives believe in a short list of self-evident truths: love of country; respect for our unique influence on history; a strong defense and strong alliances based on mutual respect and mutual responsibility; steadfast opposition to threats to our security and values that matches resources to ends wisely; and confident, reliable, consistent leadership to advance human rights, democracy, peace and security.
Of course I’m pretty sure that does not include “mutual respect” for progressives and the “far left radicals”. It is a conservative doctrine that liberals do not have common sense.

Americans are rightly proud of their tradition of common sense. They are gratefully aware that it has saved them time and again from various kinds of ideological irrationality and extremism, and, to a lessening extent, still does so today. But what is this common sense? It is nothing other than the non-conceptual application of conservative, or at least non-liberal, principles. Americans inchoately recognize that the only way to forestall liberalism’s inherent tendency to extremism is to abandon liberalism on those occasions when it threatens to “go too far.”
So I’m turning to Professor George Lakoff, author of Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. Lakoff’s book talks about “frames” and how conservatives use frames (liberals do too, but they aren’t as good at it). Think about the term “tax relief” or “death tax”…taxation is a burden and unfair punishment on the little guy. You can find an interview with George Lakoff at (commie website).

Lakoff describes liberal common sense like this:
It is natural for liberals to see the federal government as a strong, nurturant parent, responsible for making sure that the basic needs of its citizens are met: food, shelter, education, health care, and opportunities for self-development. A government that lets many of its citizens go hungry, homeless, uneducated, or sick while the majority of its citizens have more, often much more ... is an immoral, irresponsible government.
And conservative common sense like this:
To them, social programs amount to coddling people – spoiling them. Instead of having to fend for themselves, people can depend on the public dole. This makes them morally weak, removing the need for self-discipline and will-power. ... A morally justifiable social program might be something like disaster relief to help self-disciplined and generally self-reliant people get back on their feet after a flood or fire or earthquake. ... If people were not rewarded for being self-disciplined and punished for being slothful, there would be no self-discipline, and society would break down. Therefore, any social or political system in which people get things they don’t earn, or are rewarded for lack of self-discipline or for immoral behavior, is simply an immoral system.
Clearly, conservatives use their version of common sense to “appeal to the masses” (a logical fallacy). Whatever it is that most people believe, then that is the correct answer. If a belief is widely held it must be correct.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fiji Coup

There was another military coup in Fiji recently. What kind of military does Fiji have you ask? Well, about 3000 members in their army and 300 in their navy. Fiji actually sends about 1/3 of their troops overseas under UN auspices. More about the Fiji military here at the Republic of Fiji Military Forces webpage.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Past Was Better and I'm Not a Bigot

Our friend Mr. Shene, who longs for the days of yore, is back defending his bigotry. A letter in todays Adirondack Daily Enterprise:
In rebuttal to Brian Farenell’s response to my so-called bigotry in “Yearning for yesteryear”:

In my “bemoaning” I didn’t mention race or economic status, and since only women have babies I can only deduce that I ruffled his tutu with my comments on the gay movement. If he wanted to debate his point, why lump it in with anything else? If he believes it has made America a better place, then let it stand or fall on its own merit.

It was obvious that he would not admit that these problems exist, and THAT is blissful ignorance. Mr. Farenell obviously disagrees with me. Does that make HIM a bigot? Of course not; he just needs to learn the difference between democracy and bigotry. Apparently he is so steeped in his progressive thinking that he has taken on what he attests to hate so much.

If Mr. Farenell wishes to marry another man, or his mother or father for that matter, have at it, but don’t expect everyone to agree and call it right in the guise of being politically correct, “an oxymoron, by the way.” It is not a natural act, sir, and even animals recognize that fact. I would wonder if a gay man or woman believes in God, and if so, do they believe that God made a MISTAKE in their sex in the miracle of creation? That may explain the far left’s push to eradicate God from society — get rid of God, get rid of guilt!

Common sense dictates that when beliefs and actions leave the norm of our society, debate and disagreement will follow, and the right to agree or disagree belongs to ALL Americans, not the secular few. If disagreement is bigotry, every American is guilty of it.

Mr. Farenell may enjoy seeing a man dressed in women’s panties and bra, painted like a clown, riding a float in public, commercializing his sexual yearnings. I do not, but then, I pride myself as keeping some common sense in his “progressive society.”

I realize there are laws in this country and that they should be obeyed, but I do not have to agree with them — and that, sir, is my GOD-GIVEN right as an American.

Traditional America spoke loud and clear in the O.J. Simpson and Ludacris cases and learned that people with strong moral values can triumph and we ARE quick learners. Mr. Farenell would do good to not mistake tolerance for acceptance.
It's really hard to determine where to begin. This letter together with his last letter lead me to believe that Mr. Shene believes himself to be a Christian. He believes God created man and that God would never make a man that could be gay because that would be a 'mistake'. Unfortunately, there are plenty of structural flaws in the 'design' of the human body.

Mr. Shene goes on to say "I can only deduce that I ruffled his tutu with my comments" which is, in my opinion, a very non-Christian remark to make. But I suspect that Mr. Shene is a member of the "hating" Christian sect and not the "loving" Christian sect.

Mr. Shene goes on: "Common sense dictates that when beliefs and actions leave the norm of our society, debate and disagreement will follow". I guess Mr. Shene also believes he will determine what the 'norms' of society are going to be. Is society today the same as society 500 years ago? 100 years ago? 50 years ago? I don't think so. Mr. Shene was on "talk of the town" this morning ranting about how the ACLU and the 'left' were destroying America. He didn't like that certain books were being published and sold. I guess he wants to determine which books will be published while he is setting the 'norms' of society.

Lastly, "If disagreement is bigotry, every American is guilty of it." Well, no, disagreement is obviously not bigotry. A bigot is a person who is obstinately devoted to their prejudices even when these views are challenged or proven to be false. (from Wikipedia)

Mr. Shene is quite obviously obstinate, very obviously prejudiced and is the one that needs to learn the meaning of Democracy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

US Tank crushes Iraqi civilian's car

Winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis? Is this official United States policy?

Webb Backtalks to Bush

You've got to love this.

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.
Damn I would have loved to see the expression on Bush's face. He just isn't used to being spoken to like that.

War Spending

Here is a graphic from the LA Times showing the amounts we have spent on the war so far.

Now it looks like Bush will be requesting the largest amount yet to continue his failed war - $127-150 billion more in "emergency spending". This in in addition to the $70 billion already allocated for the war next year. One of the reasons the request is so high is that military equipment, such as tanks and helicopters, need to be replaced.

Yet no one in the USA, other than the troops, have been asked to sacrifice for this war. The bill will be paid by our children and grandchildren.

Gingrich Hates Free Speech

Here is what good ole Newt thinks:

Gingrich, speaking at a Manchester awards banquet, said a "different set of rules" may be needed to reduce terrorists' ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and get out their message.

"We need to get ahead of the curve before we actually lose a city, which I think could happen in the next decade," said Gingrich, a Republican who helped engineer the GOP's takeover of Congress in 1994.
I have a question.....whatever happened to "Give me liberty or give me death?"

People in our own government are afraid of you and me. They tell us the Constitution is not a suicide pact or you can't have a Constitution if you are dead. They've convinced millions of us that this bullshit is true and that we need to be afraid, very afraid. Well, those people can just bite me!

I'm far more afraid of people in my own government, who have supposedly sworn to uphold the Constitution, than I am of any third world terrorist. There is absolutely nothing patriotic about giving up your freedom of speech or freedom to peacefully protest. Being patriotic is all about defending our liberties that are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

People in this country have got to start standing up to assholes like Newt Gingrich and his ilk. They were too cowardly to serve in the armed forces and they are too cowardly to defend our Constitution.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Asthma Epidemic (and Hygiene Hypothesis)

In todays NY Times health section, the topic of asthma is discussed.
In any case, about 20 million people in the United States have asthma today, including at least 6 million children, and 5,000 people a year die from it. Children in the inner cities seem to be especially hard hit, with exposure to cockroaches and diesel fumes suspected as the culprits. But the cause is not known for sure.
The article discusses some reasons for the increased prevalence of asthma. Diet, obesity, exposure to allergins and air pollution and my favorite topic the hygiene hypothesis
One theory that has received attention recently is the “hygiene hypothesis,” the idea that children today are raised in homes that are too clean and that asthma is somehow caused by the lack of exposure to infections and bits of microbes early in life. Under this theory, germs are supposed to help the immune system develop normally, and without them the system may overreact to other substances in the environment, producing allergies and asthma.

There is some evidence to support the idea. Studies find that children raised on farms are less prone than others to asthma, maybe because they are exposed to plenty of microbes in barns and stables. But the connection is still not fully understood, and some viral infections clearly make asthma worse.
The entire NYT article is based on paper recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled: The Asthma Epidemic by Waltraud Eder, M.D., Markus J. Ege, M.D., M.P.H., and Erika von Mutius, M.D. (2006, 355(21):2226-2235).

This is figure 4 from the journal article. It shows the various ways in which different types of exposures interact with different economic living conditions, resulting in variations in the prevalence of asthma.

Figure 4. Effect of the Interaction between Various Types of Exposures and Various Genetic Backgrounds in a Range of Racial and Ethnic Groups on the Prevalence of Asthma through Pathways Involving Atopy, Airway Inflammation, Airway Hyperresponsiveness (AHR), or Other, Unknown Factors.

Unfortunately, both articles give short shrift to the involvement of helminth infections in the hygiene hypothesis.
Chronic infestation with helminths may also confer protection, but short-lived episodes of infestation may exacerbate atopic disorders.
This article: Allergy, Parasites, and the Hygiene Hypothesis published in "Science" provides the reasoning behind helminth infections and the hygiene hypothesis. Full text is not freely available but since it's in "Science" you should be able to find it in your local library.

An interesting article entitled Eating Dirt by Gerald N. Callahan can be found here at the CDC.

A few hygiene hypothesis links:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Picture of the Day

I never noticed this cool chimney before.
Iraqi Kid Runs For Water

One reason we shouldn't have our kids fighting a war. Let us old guys do it. I still suggest no one should fight in a war unless they are at least 50 years old.

Citizens for Fair Assessment?

I agree completely with Mr. Burpoe. Yes the NYS property tax system is broken, but waterfront property owners in the Saranac Lake area have never wanted to pay their fair share of taxes, especially in the Lake Kiwassa area. Mr. Burpoe's letter to the editor is reprinted below.

I feel compelled to write this letter following the Open Letter to All Harrietstown Taxpayers written by the Citizens for Fair Assessment in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on Nov. 15, 2006.

I hear and understand people complaining about their assessments and the tax levies that are distributed across the assessment roll. In these last years since Harrietstown completed its 2001 revaluation, market values have soared. Some property values have increased at greater rates than others. If you looked at the shift in the tax burden, the residential portion has decreased while the waterfront burden has increased. An example of this, as everyone knows, is the almost logarithmic increase in waterfront property values. Now, in the letter written by the Citizens for Fair Assessment, it appears that the group is not only taking issue about their assessments but also is taking exception to assessed values placed on state land. This is the land that makes up approximately 68 percent of the town.

What gets me about the whole Article 78 proceeding is:

1. The group wants the 2006 assessment roll to be declared null and void and to go back to the 2005 assessment roll. This group is also asking the people of the town to support them. By reverting back to the 2005 assessment roll, a larger burden of the real property tax will be shifted back to the non-waterfront property owners. The result will be that the residential landowners’ (your and my) real property taxes would go up, while those of the people who have filed the complaint, of whom a majority appear to be waterfront owners, would go down. Why would non-waterfront landowners go for this when the marketplace says that waterfront values have gone up and have gone up tremendously?

2. The attorney representing the Citizens for Fair Assessment is complicit in the entire process. He was the general counsel and deputy executive director of the former NYS Division of Equalization and Assessment, now called the Office of Real Property Services. He helped formulate and enforce the entire process that is being used today! If anything, he should be called as a witness for the town, county and school in which he is suing on behalf of the group.

3. The cost of this Article 78 to the taxpayers is going to be tremendous! Who are the beneficiaries of this complaint? The only beneficiaries will be the attorneys involved in defending and executing this complaint. One of the attorneys helped to create/perpetuate this mess in the first place. There will be no positive results of the complaint. The assessor for the town of Harrietstown followed the process that was created by the associates of Robert L. Beebe and the successors to the NYS Division of Equalization and Assessment.

The bottom line is this: The group suing the town, county and school is going to cost us, the taxpayers, a lot of money. They are fighting a process that is broken and outdated, and their attorney is complicit in the breakdown of the entire process. The real property system needs an overhaul, or it should be changed to an income tax-related method. Our system of real property taxation should be based entirely on a person’s “ability to pay.”

Thank you for listening.

Timothy Burpoe

Franklin County legislator, District 7

Saranac Lake

NYS to Revamp Town and Village Courts

It's about time.

The justice courts are a sprawling system of more than 1,200 courts that are often the first—and frequently the only—stop in the state legal system for people in the 57 counties outside New York City. Dating from Colonial times, the courts occupy something of a time warp, with often poorly trained justices, sometimes convening in town firehouses or highway department garages — or their own kitchens — and dispensing a form of justice unlike any other in the state.

More classroom training for justices, more professional staff for consultation, word-for-word transcripts of proceedings and annual audits of court books

More here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Toxoplasma gondii and Sons

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that can cause serious problems in the fetus during pregnancy. It causes less serious problems in adults, but once infected you are infected forever with the parasite cysts living in your brain. That means if you are going to receive immunosuppressive therapy for cancer or transplantation treatment, you probably should get tested for toxoplasmosis. Above is a photomicrograph of the rapidly dividing 'tachyzoite' stage of the parasite. Some of the parasites are being taken up or invading a macrophage.

You become infected with toxoplasma primarily by eating poorly cooked meat although getting it directly from cat feces when changing the litter box can also happen. The life cycle of the parasite is above. The sexual cycle of the parasite life cycle takes place in the cat or other felines. The asexual stage occurs in almost any other warm blooded creature. 20% to well over 50% of some human populations are infected with T. gondii.

So what? Well, an interesting article has come to my attention through the Faculty of 1000. The title is "Women infected with parasite Toxoplasma have more sons." The work is out of Charles University in the Czech Republic. These researchers have reported that women infected with T. gondii have more sons than daughters, a lot more. For every 260 boys born, there are only 100 girls born to women infected with T. gondii. Even more interesting, this phenomenon correlates with high anti-T. gondii antibody levels.

The full text of the article can be found here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006


Michael Moore makes some promises on behalf of liberals to conservatives:

1. We will never call you unpatriotic.
2. You can marry whomever you want.
3. We won't spend your grandchildrens money
4. We will bring your children home from Iraq along with ours
5. You will be included in any Universal Healthcare plan, regardless of whether you can pay
6. If a terrorist kills 3,000 people in the USA you can be sure that all resources will be used to track him down
7. We won't spy on you in your bedroom
8. We won't take away your hunting guns, even if you do need automatic weapons to hunt deer
9. We will raise the minimum wage of your employees as well as ours
10. When we clean up the air, you can breathe it too
11. We will respect your religious beliefs even when you don't practice them
12. We will not tolerate corrupt politicians

Rep. John Sweeney and NYS Police

Yes, he still represents us until January. And, yes he was able to get the NYS police to do his bidding concerning his wife abusing incident:
The full report on the domestic incident was concealed because of concern it could be used against Sweeney during his re-election campaign this fall, the source said.
Wife abuser Sweeney has gotten his revenge however.
There are no allegations that Capt. Frank Pace, 53, who has supervised the region's State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation for several years, was behind the leaked document.

Yet the 28-year veteran of the force this week received a letter from First Deputy Superintendent Preston Felton relieving him of his prestigious investigative post and reassigning him from the Loudonville Troop G headquarters.
Pace was also involved in investigating Rep. Sweeney's son in a beating charge.
This is not the first time Pace has clashed with Sweeney. After the August 2004 arrest of Sweeney's son, John J. Sweeney, then 18, on felony assault charges, Sweeney and his attorney accused State Police investigators, including Pace, of an undisclosed political vendetta.

Money Well Spent?

Cost of the Iraq War - about $11 million dollars per hour!

Number of 5 year NIH medical research grants that could be funded with that amount of spending per day?

Well over 120 grants (including overhead costs).

UPDATE: Congress has already approved $70 billion dollars for the war in 2007. Looks like with the 'last big push' they will need another $127 -160 billion dollars.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Was the Past Better than Now?

A letter in todays Adirondack Daily Enterprise:

I grew up in the ’50s, and as I see what is happening to this country and even in this area, I wish I could just simply snap my fingers and return to a time that was much simpler, when people were happier and common sense was so much more prevalent than it is now.

I remember when our children could walk about without fear of predators, but then we didn’t have the ACLU sticking up for the rights of the monsters who would destroy the lives of the most innocent of our society.

I remember a time when one’s marriage partner was of the opposite sex, and our children didn’t have to see men in panties on floats in a parade, or two women making out with each other.

There was a time when NO ONE would dare to suggest that we rip a child apart in the womb of its mother, to say nothing of actually CREATING a child to kill so we can scavenge its cells.

I remember a time when you didn’t have to be “POLITICALLY CORRECT,” as just having some morals covered that area well.

I remember when lawyers were there for the existing laws and not there to try to rewrite them to get criminals off and stuff their pockets.

I remember when doctors actually cared for their patients and you never heard of one leaving a tool in somebody or removing the wrong part, and they wouldn’t let one die for a lack of money.

But most of all, I remember a time when God wasn’t a dirty word or a cross didn’t offend someone’s petty little feelings and they weren’t trying to remove all inferences to God or religion under the dishonest guise of free speech.

Anyone who grew up in that time area knows just by remembering that it was a much better time for the people of America and their children. Oh well, I guess that’s progress, OR IS IT!!!!
Yes children could walk the streets. Whether they were ever molested we won't ever know because people didn't talk about things like that back then.

Yep, you were married to someone of the opposite sex back in the good old days. And beating her wasn't against the law. Neither was raping her. Women knew their place back in the good ole days.

I pine for the good old days of institutionalized racism and segregated schools. Back when you couldn't go swimming because of the polio epidemic and there was no protective vaccine. No vaccines agains mumps, measles, flu, etc either.

It was actually fun attending those government 'civil defense' presentations at school. I mean who didn't want a really neat underground bomb shelter.

Doctors didn't do abortions back then. No, we left it those back alley types to do that for us, unless of course you were rich and connected. Back in the good ole days Doctors didn't let you die for lack of money....rather they let you die for lack of modern advances in medicine and drug treatments.

Yes oh yes, looking back at the good ole days through colored glasses is so much fun. Informative too.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I'm keeping a close eye on my reps in Congress. To do this use It's free and you can sign up to monitor specific senators, representative and bills. You even get email notification. I'm giving it a try.

Alcee Hastings to Head House Intelligence Comm.?

Alcee Hastings??? This guy was a United States District court judge for the Southern District of Florida....before he was impeached by the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives for bribery and perjury. On top of that...his middle name is Lamar! Has anyone ever heard of a good guy named Lamar?

I'm starting to get disillusioned very quickly.

Big Spender Hillary

This is really sad. Hillary Clinton spent $36 million dollars to get re-elected Senator of NY state. Does anyone even know who ran against her? Why did she have to spend $36 million dollars? I didn't see any TV ads and I don't remember even getting any mailings from her campaign. Just what was the money spent on?

Hillary still has loads of money in the bank for her presidential run. She could get the Democrat nomination but she doesn't stand a chance in hell of getting elected president because:

She is a woman
She is representing liberal New York
She is wishy washy on her political stances
Much of the country has an irrational hatred of her

BTW Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki have even a less chance than Hillary of getting elected president. They aren't near conservative enough.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Murtha Wrong for Majority Leader

Just to show I can be critical of Democrats albeit a conservative Democrat...I don't think Rep. Murtha is the right man for majority leader. He was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam scandel of the 80's and now he is implicated in "pay-to-play" politics that benefited his brother.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cat Herding

It can be done!

Looks Like Rumsfield Has Some Legal Problems

Germany is seeking to prosecute Rummy, Tenet and Gonzales for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo prisons. It seems they may have broken some of the Geneva Convention rules.

USA #1? How About Health Care and Education?

USA in health care

WHO overall health care ranking - 37th
WHO health care fairness - 54th
Only developed country that does not provide health care to it's citizens
18,000 - number of persons in USA that die every year because they do not have health insurance
Childhood mortality - 41st
USA childhood poverty - 22nd, at least we beat Mexico who is 23rd

Amount of money spent on health care #1

USA in business

Americans work longer hours per year than any other industrialized country, and get less vacation time
14 of 20 largest banks in the USA are European-owned banks
Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea hold 40% of our government debt
USA imports more food than it exports

We probably are number 1 in religion, scientific illiteracy, debt and in weapons export.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Morning After

A nice little tune.


This really isn't in the category of America-Hating but I've been reading alot about this lately. The USA ranks 15th in the world in broadband penetration, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Yessir, we rank right after Estonia!

I get about 600 kbs at home using cheap ($14.95) DSL from Verizon. The FCC defines broadband as anything 200 kbs and over. Sad. In Europe and Asia they probably pay a bit more than that to get over 25 Mbs. Why is this?

Through lack of competition. As the Congressional Research Service puts it, U.S. consumers face a "cable and telephone broadband duopoly." And that's more like a best-case scenario: Many households are hostage to a single broadband provider, and nearly one-tenth have no broadband provider at all.
No matter how patriotic or nationalistic you may be, no matter how much you love the USA....we are NOT number one in a lot of areas. Too many areas. The World Economic Forum ranks the USA number 6 in global competitiveness. The Center for Global Development ranks the USA 19th in quality of aid to other nations. How sad is it that the only worldwide power on earth cannot be first in health, education, jobs, etc.

We have a lot of work to do.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


No not pervs....HERV's....Human Endogenous Retroviruses. These pieces of DNA are 'fossil's' of retroviruses that incorporated into the human germline DNA over thousands to hundreds of thousands to millions of years. They make up about 1% of the human genome. The first HERV was identified in 1981. So far, at least 20 HERV families have been identified (find free text article by M. Tristem here). There are lots of things cool about HERV's. First, they may be involved in the pathogenesis of some diseases, such as cancer, Sjogren's syndrome, Rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple sclerosis or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, to name a few.

HERV's have been classified into 3 groups based on sequence identity with animal retroviruses.

Class I HERV's share sequence homology with infectious mammalian type C viruses. Examples would be porcine endogenous retrovirus, murine leukemia virus and baboon endogenous virus.

Class II HERV's share sequence homology to mammalian type A, B and D related retroviruses. HERV-K is a member of this group and is one of the most active HERV's. HERV-K can actually form virus-like particles.

Class III HERV's are foamy virus related HERV's and include only HERV-L. This is the oldest known genus of Retroviridae and more can be found about them here.

Why have HERV's been so successfully maintained in our genome? This person has one hypothesis. Is is possible that HERV's somehow serve the needs of the host? Also here.

Science fiction novelist Greg Bear has a series of novels in which HERV's play an important role in evolution.

Saddam Will Hang

Ok, I know I'm one of those "hate America" liberals but here's the thing. Saddam got convicted for crimes that
occurred 15 months before Donald Rumsfeld, then the special envoy to Iraq, met with Hussein in Baghdad to develop an alliance between the administration of Ronald Reagan and that of the murderous Iraqi dictator.
That's why Saddam was tried in Iraq and not in an International Court. It's also unlikely an International Court would have given Saddam the death sentence. Life in prison would have been much more likely.

Rumsfield really needs to go. Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, Generals, the American people agree. The "Decider" needs to decide now.

One question though. When hanging Saddam will they use the "short drop", "standard drop", "long drop (measured drop)" or "suspension" hanging (currently used in Iran)? Above is a picture of Tom Ketchum being hung (from Wikipedia). His head came off.

The last hanging in the USA was in Delaware in 1996. For the morbidly curious of you, more info complete with drop tables can be found here.

Celebrate - But There is Also This

"Americans can always be counted upon to do the right thing - after all other possibilities have been exhausted" - Winston Churchill

Course, this is from the guy that actually created the country of Iraq.
Sweet Victory Spongebob

I guess this pretty much says it all this morning.

UPDATE: Victory isn't really so sweet. We got rid of the psycho Katherine Harris down in FL, but we are still stuck with Mean Jean Schmidt.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fool Me Once

"There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in New York, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."

People in this country have been fooled more than once so shame on them and you (GW). But you can't get fooled again. (I hope)

Bye-bye John Sweeney

Maybe your buddy G.W. Bush has some job waiting for you. He really appreciates loyalty.

UPDATE: I'm proud of the voters in North Elba. A majority voted for Gillibrand (2202 vs 1996).

Ten Commandments

Thanks to stupidevilbastard for this:

1. Thou SHALT NOT believe all thou art told.
2. Thou SHALT seek knowledge and truth constantly.
3. Thou SHALT educate thy fellow man in the Laws of Science.
4. Thou SHALT NOT forget the atrocities committed in the name of god.
5. Thou SHALT leave valuable contributions for future generations.
6. Thou SHALT live in peace with thy fellow man.
7. Thou SHALT live this one life thou hast to its fullest.
8. Thou SHALT follow a Personal Code of Ethics.
9. Thou SHALT maintain a strict separation between Church and State.
10. Thou SHALT support those who follow these commandments.

Read more detail about these commandment HERE.

Rep. John Sweeney - Liar, Big Time

You can click here to see the outright lies Sweeney has told about Gillibrand.

We are still waiting for the release of that police report about the 9/11 call. Oh that's right, you changed your mind.
Hunting with Dick Cheney

Monday, November 06, 2006

Proof of a Miracle?

Ted Haggard's Sun. Oct. 29th sermon:
"Heavenly Father give us grace and mercy, help us this next week and a half as we go into national elections and Lord we pray for our country. Father we pray lies would be exposed and deception exposed.
Be careful what you ask for.

Refresh your memory by watching this before you vote tomorrow.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Rumsfield Should Resign

Editorials in the Army Times:
Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.
Also being published in the Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times.

Friday, November 03, 2006

One Breath

It's impossible.

Pastor Ted Haggard

Root of All Evil 1: Ted Haggard and his ignorance of science

Learn more about lying evangelist Ted Haggard. How do guys like this sucker huge numbers of people into their so-called churches. At least he's not arrogant.

Some transcripts of voice mail messages between Pastor Haggard and his gay prostitute/drug dealer:

"Hi Mike, this is Art. Hey, I was just calling to see if we could get any more. Either $100 or $200 supply. And I could pick it up really anytime I could get it tomorrow or we could wait till next week sometime and so I also wanted to get your address. I could send you some money for inventory but that's probably not working, so if you have it then go ahead and get what you can and I may buzz up there later today, but I doubt your schedule would allow that unless you have some in the house. Okay, I'll check in with you later. Thanks a lot, bye."

"Hi Mike, this is Art, I am here in Denver and sorry that I missed you. But as I said, if you want to go ahead and get the stuff, then that would be great. And I'll get it sometime next week or the week after or whenever. I will call though you early next week to see what's most convenient for you. Okay? Thanks a lot, bye."

How much do you think this guy bilks his 14,000 member congregation every week?

If Democrats Take Control of Congress

Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.

Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...

The dead rising from the grave.

Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Vote Republican? Not Hardly!

To the Editor:

For the last six years our Congress has been in the control of Republicans. This has resulted in the most shameful and incompentent group of legislators at least since the "do-nothing" Republican congress of 1948.

Unfortunately, there is not enough room in a Letter to the Editor to list all the ugly things that have happened in the 109th Congress. Late night votes, closed rules so amendments to bills could not be offered, a Congress where little or no debate has been offered on anything.

Probably the most important duty of our Congress is oversight of the Executive branch of government. How many subpoenas have been issued to the White House since Bush has been president? Zero. Nothing to investigate there. Missing WMD, manipulation of intelligence, mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners, the response to Katrina, illegal wiretaps, Cheney's energy task force, hiding true cost of Medicare Part D drug plan, politicizing science, going to war without a plan, etc. Nope, nothing to investigate there. Look over there, gay marriage!

Ironically, the lack of oversight of the Executive branch by Republicans has probably hurt Bush more than it has helped him.

How about the number of days our Congressmen have spent at work? The 2nd session of the House of Representatives is scheduled to meet for 99 days, 9 fewer days than the "do-nothing" House in 1948. This may actually be good since they seem to screw up what little they do.

Vote for a Republican? Not hardly. Especially seat-warming, rubber-stamp John Sweeney.

A Letter From a Patriot to a Traitor

A letter to Stephanie Miller from the Sock-ster. Miller decides to give the Sock-ster a phone call. Listen to it here.

Resveratrol - Eat Hardy, Drink Wine, Remain Healthy

That's the message from the article in Nature.

I love wine, especially red wine and wine contains resveratrol. But so do other foods like peanuts, blueberries, cranberries, even some pine trees. In red wine because its found in the skin of grapes.

Resveratrol is a polyphenol, a chemical substance found in plants that is characterized by having one or more phenol group per molecule (see those ring structures?). Some polyphenols have antioxidant properties. Resveratrol is also a phytoalexin, an antifungal compound which is probably why plants have it.

Resveratrol has lots of different physiologic effects, but the mechanism seems to be the capacity to inhibit transcription factors such as NFkappa-beta and cytochrome P450. Resveratrol has been reported to protect against athersclerosis, cancer, to be anti-inflammatory, slow aging, to modulate drug resistance and now to prevent weight gain.

An abstract and references to a review article on resveratrol can be found here, a more recent review here and a free full text review here.

Here is a survival plot, published in the NYT, from the Nature article. It is slightly modified from the actual survival plot (Fig. 1b)published in Nature but presents accurate data. There are 3 groups of mice. One group (dim line) is on a standard diet. Standard diet is basically all you want to eat mouse chow. You can see that the mice on the standard diet have the highest survival. The second group of mice (the grey line) are fed a high fat diet (60% of calories from fat) They have a significantly lower survival rate than the mice fed the standard diet. The third group of mice (red line) are also fed the high fat diet but they also get resveratrol in their diet (0.04%). They have a survival rate similar to the mice fed the standard diet.

The report also shows that resveratrol fed mice also have less weight gain,improved insulin sensitivity and improved liver histology when compared with mice fed a high fat diet.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

John Sweeney - Deficit is Clintons Fault

Do you really want John Sweeney representing you in Congress?

"The deficit is actually a result of a recession that began in his administration," he contended. "We are exponentially paying down the deficit in an accelerated time frame."

Sweeney also assures us that the GOP really cares about the little guy and not just the rich guy.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sweeney Brings Home the Pork

Less than two weeks before mid-term elections and surprise, surprise - our area suddenly gets awarded $1.43 million dollars to complete the bike/pedestrian path connecting Saranac Lake with Lake Placid.

Courtesy of Rep. John Sweeney (NY-20), vice chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Committee who "secured a federal Transportation Enhancement Grant".

I'm all in favor of a bike path and can't wait to ride my bike on it. But I hate pork, even when it benefits our area. If it was awarded based on merit, why are we suddenly being told about it less than two weeks before we go to the polls to decide whether to re-elect Sweeney or not?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Remember the Republican Contract With America

Republican Contract With America

Like Lincoln, our first Republican president, we intend to act "with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right." To restore accountability to Congress. To end its cycle of scandal and disgrace. To make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves.

How's that contract working for ya?

You remember...balanced budget, term limits, cutting House committees and staff, cutting waste and fraud, middle class tax relief, maintaining US credibility around the world etc.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Garry Trudeau

An article about Garry Trudeau in todays Washington Post. It's really rare to find articles and interviews with Garry Trudeau.

Saratoga XC Invitational - The Trip Home

Mile marker 62 on Rt. 87 North.

Looking toward Adirondack Loj Road just outside Lake Placid, after sunset.

Saratoga XC Invitational - The State Park

The race was held at the Saratoga Spa State Park.

Looking down at the spa buildings from the start line.

The Roosevelt Baths.