Monday, December 31, 2007

Bed Bug Outbreak in NYC

Here is an article in the New York Daily News about the outbreak of a bed bug infestation in the city. Bed bugs are members of the family Cimicidae and are primarily parasites of birds and bats. But two species are known to feed on man: Cimex lectularius and C. rotundatus although these two species will also feed on other animals. The bedbug found in NYC is most likely C. lectularius which is common in temperate and coastal regions.

Bed bugs feed on blood, but they do not appear to transmit disease in nature. They have been shown to transmit disease in the laboratory setting however, so the potential is there.

Female bed bugs lay eggs, at the rate of 2-3 a day, after they have taken a bloodmeal. The eggs are typically found in cracks and crevices in the floor, walls, furniture etc. The incubation period of the egg is dependent on temperature. Typically the eggs will hatch ~9-10 days after they are laid. However, at lower temperatures it may take as long as a month for the eggs to hatch. The eggs give rise to colorless larvae that are about 1.5 mm long. This baby bug must undergo 5 molts prior to becoming a sexually mature adult bug. Each molt requires that the bug take a bloodmeal. Although bed bugs tend to feed every few days, they can go for months without a bloodmeal.

You can find more than you want to know about bed bugs at this Harvard University website, this Cornell University website or this NYC health website.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Free Will vs Determinism

Do we have free will or not?

I was watching a lecture on quantum mechanics and the subject of free will came up. It's a subject I had not thought alot about since about 10th grade religion class. It's also a subject that can give you a pretty good head ache if you think about it enough. Anyone got any good websites on the subject of free will to recommend? I've just started exploring, but the fact that it is a dot com worries me somewhat.

Here is a paragraph from an article published in the New Scientist last year.
"When you choose to eat the chocolate cake or the plain one, are you really free to decide?" asks Conway. In other words, could someone who has been tracking all the particle interactions in the universe predict with perfect accuracy the cake you will pick? The answer, it seems, depends on whether quantum mechanics' inherent uncertainty is the correct description of reality or 't Hooft is right in saying that beneath that uncertainty there is a deterministic order.

Looking further into the subject there is the Skeptics Dictionary but that site doesn't seem to provide any easy answers either. The internet encyclopedia of philosophy will require some study but I'm guessing I won't find an answer there either.

Maybe it's just not worth worrying about.

Heath's Auto Repair, Saranac Lake, NY

Located at 91 Broadway ((518) 891-5106), across from the Fire Department. Owned by a certified master mechanic and all round nice guy Tim Heath. Highly recommended if you have any sort of problem with your car. Work will be done in the promised timeframe and at a very fair price.

Front disk brake job estimate for my daughters Vibe in Boston - $600. Heath's did it for $280 which included an oil and filter change, checking the rear brakes and a computer scan. I've also had very satisfactory work done on both of our Honda CRV's.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Be Healthy - It's Simple

Don't drink, smoke or take any drugs (that means no drugs whatsoever). Don't watch television, don't eat red meat and don't use any product which contains fragrances. That's the advice of the HealthRanger.

Also, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors, no milk, cheese or dairy products, no soft drinks, no snack foods, no fast food, no fried foods, no processed foods, no white flour, no refined breads, cereals, pastries etc, no fruit juices (unless you buy his book that tells you how to "juice feast".

Stop using deodorant, laundry detergents with fragrances, dryer sheets, and fluoride toothpast.

Stop visiting medical doctors (naturopathic physicians are ok) and definitely do not get vaccinated.

Do all this and you will transform yourself. You will become capable of reading books at one page per second, you will instantly become able to grasp the "big picture" of any concept including homeopathy (chuckle). You will automatically be able to remember long numbers, such as your credit card numbers. And, you will see the world with a new clarity and understanding.

You do, however, need to do a couple of things. You need to eat quinoa, soy products, tofu and soy milk. You need to drink Jenny Lee Supergreens shakes for breakfast. You need to eat wheatgrass and sea vegetables and massive quantities of blueberries. You need to take rainforest herbs and expose yourself, without sunscreen, to at least 1 hour of intense sunlight a day.

Lastly, the FDA and the AMA are out to get you.

Good Luck.

Historic Documents - 1962 Sears Catalog

Telstar Logistics presents 160 pages of the 1962 Sears Christmas catalog. See them here at their Flickr site.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Speaking of Anger

Check out the Beast's 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007. #9 is YOU! And he states some pretty good reaons. Here is his sentence for you (us):
A gradual decline into abject poverty as you continue to vote against your own self-interest. Death by an easily treated disorder that your health insurance doesn't cover. You deserve it, chump.
The top 3 are G.W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Fred Phelps. Don't worry, Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid are #5 and Hillary Clinton is the Beast is equal opportunity.

Are You Angry?

Prof. David Green writes a very instructive commentary at Common Dreams titled "You're Damn Right I'm Angry. Why Isn't Everybody?". In this article he explains precisely why he is an angry progressive. Then he asks, why isn't everyone just as angry? A very good question. Here are the last four paragraphs.
What an unbelievable record of deceit, destruction, hypocrisy, incompetence, treason and greed. What a tragic tale of debt, lost wars, stolen elections, environmental crises, Constitution shredding, national shame and diminished security.

All done by the very most pious amongst us, of course. Merry Christmas, eh? I guess those are our presents, all carefully wrapped in spin, contempt, and preemptive attacks on any of us impertinent enough to say “No thanks, Santa”.

So, yeah, you’re goddam right I’m angry about what’s been done to my country, and what’s been done by my country in my name.

How could anyone who claims to care about America not be?

Evolution: It's Just a Theory

Is it only Republicans that feel they have to show their ignorance by denying the theory of evolution? Does it somehow result in more votes? Do they not understand that evolution has nothing to do with the origination of life? Do they accept the theory of gravity? If they do, why?

Why is it important to some of us that the President of the USA accept the theory of evolution? Well, as Verlyn Klinkenborg of the New York Times put it so eloquently:
Accepting the fact of evolution does not necessarily mean discarding a personal faith in God. But accepting intelligent design means discarding science. Much has been made of a 2004 poll showing that some 45% of Americans believe that the Earth—and humans with it—was created as described in the book of Genesis, and within the past 10,000 years. This isn't a triumph of faith. It's a failure of education.
We want a President that is scientifically literate and wants to keep the USA as the premier world power in science and technology. We also want a President that believes that quality education is required to keep the USA as the #1 science powerhouse. We also want a President that is curious enough to examine the evidence that supports the theory of evolution and use reason to determine whether the science is sound or not.

The next President of the USA is going to need to address several major problems in which an understanding of science will be necessary.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

December Snow Storm Pictures

Here are a few pictures from the Dec. 16th snow storm in Saranac Lake and the day after.

Survive Screwdriver in Head

Remember your mother always yelling at you to not run around with sharp objects. Here is why. The Boston Channel reports that a 2 year old Minnesota girl fell on a screwdriver which entered her head just above her left eye. She's ok and won't even need surgery. They are asking for donations to take care of her medical bills however. Here's the address:
Teagan Gislason Fund
C/O Provincial Bank
20280 Iberia Ave.
Lakeville, Minn., 55044

Books I'm Reading

A couple of Christmas books I'm reading:

#1. Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking by Thomas Kida. So far a really good book. Kida is a professor in the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst and specializes in decision making. The six mistakes are as follows:

We prefer stories to statistics
We seek to confirm, not to question our ideas
We rarely appreciate the role of chance and coincidence in shaping events
We sometimes misperceive the world around us
We tend to oversimplify our thinking
We have faulty memories.

#2. Snake Oil Science: The Truth About Complementary and Alternative Medicine by R. Barker Bausell. Dr. Bausell is a professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and was research director of the National Institutes of Health-funded Complementary and Alternative Medicine Specialized Research Center. He specializes in research design.

This book is largely about the placebo effect and how it affects the proper design and interpretation of clinical research trials.

Two other books I'm reading:

Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. If you haven't read the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay, I highly recommend that you do. I Am Legend will be the first graphic novel I've ever read.

Oh, I can't leave out this one. I'm teaching a section of Anatomy and Physiology next semester so I'm boning up on the subject. The textbook is Anatomy and Physiology: From Science to Life by Jenkins, Kemnitz and Tortora. Quite a readable book as it was written for students in the allied health sciences. I'm not really big on using textbooks to teach science because I think all you need to know can be found on the internets.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

North Country Intelligent Design Gadfly

There was another dumb letter to the Editor in the same issue of the Glens Falls Post Star in which Ron Blachut's letter was published. This letter was by one Ron Cote, a man who travels the internets attempting to 'save' people who are blinded by belief in evolution.

In this letter we learn that the Columbine High School murders were due to the teaching of "Darwinism" by which he presumably means evolution.
We need to heed Eric Harris’ message. He was a serious devotee and student of Darwinism. At Columbine on that fateful day, his sweatshirt read "Natural Selection" sending a clear message of the significance of that evolutionary tenet as he and his accomplice massacred 16 people. The significance, relationship or correlation seems never to have been made between his message and the horrific act.
It's really no wonder that children in the North Country can't wait to leave the area when they graduate high school.

I encourage people, who do not understand evolution, to go to this website at UC Berkeley. It will take some time, but first read throuhg Evolution 101 to learn what is evolution and how it works. Then read through the Evidence for Evolution which many evolution deniers say does not exist. Finally, read a few articles on "How Evolution Impacts Your Life". Last but not least, arm yourself against creationist claims by going here and choosing your weapon (or reason based on evidence).

Don't want to do all that reading, then if you have a couple of hours listen to Ken Miller.

Don't want to spend a couple of hours listening to Ken Miller talk about evolution? Then listen to this very informative 3 minute video on why no one will ever convince an anti-evolutionist that they are wrong.

Queensbury, NY Proud Chauvinist

Here is a letter to the editor of the Glens Falls Post Star that is making the rounds on the internet. See here, here, here, here and here, to list a few (there are many, many more). It has got to be one of the top ten dumbest letters ever written and very good PR for the Glens Falls, NY area.

Regarding a story that appeared in

The Post-Star

on Dec. 6: "Rep. Gillibrand announces she is pregnant."

First of all, I must admit that I am a male chauvinist and that there are, thankfully, differences between men and women. There are many occupations suitable for women and their physical attributes. Carrying a weapon while serving in the Armed Forces and firefighting are not suitable lines of work for women to prove that they are physically equal to men. How many male police officers feel comfortable with a 100 pound female backup?

And now, I have to add serving in the U.S. House and Senate as an occupation that may not be suitable for women.

Ms. Gillibrand's current pregnancy makes a strong case for my opinion. Ms. Gillibrand was elected to serve her constituency, and while she is away from her elected office she cannot perform those duties. The taxpayers who were duped into voting for her will have to pay for her medical benefits. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, Ms. Gillibrand receives excellent health benefits, courtesy of her constituents. We will be without representation in Congress for a time leading up to and following the child's birth. There will be times when she and the new baby will visit doctors. You can add those days to the total that she will not be serving her constituents.

The current base salary (2006) for members of the House and Senate is $165,200 per year. I wonder if Ms. Gillibrand will do the right thing and reimburse the U.S. Treasury in the amount of $452.60, her daily salary, for each day that she is unable to perform her elected duties. For some reason, I doubt it.


Aren't our taxes paying for all of Dick Cheney's medical problems.....oh wait, but he's a man. Mr. Blachut was probably all in favor of Rep. Sweeney abusing his wife. But Sweeney is a Republican.

Definitely go to Fundie Watch and read what they have to say.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Is G.W. Bush a War Criminal?

Ok, the picture is from the liberal "Common Dreams" (along with the article) but the article,The Torture Tape Fingering Bush As a War Criminal, was published in the Times Online and it's by conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan. Here is the take home message:
The Washington Post reported that “current and former officials” said the torture lasted weeks and even, according to some, months, and that the techniques included hypothermia, long periods of standing, sleep deprivation and multiple sessions of waterboarding. All these “alternative procedures”, as Bush described them, are illegal under US law and the Geneva conventions. They are, in fact, war crimes. And they were once all treated by the US as war crimes when they were perpetrated by the Nazis. Waterboarding has been found to be a form of torture in various American legal cases.

And that is where the story becomes interesting. The Bush administration denies any illegality at all, insists it does not “torture” but refuses to say whether it believes waterboarding is torture or not. But hundreds of hours of videotape were recorded of Zubaydah’s incarceration and torture. That evidence would settle the dispute over the extremely serious question of whether the president of the United States authorised war crimes.

And now we have found out that all the tapes have been destroyed.

I'm probably wrong, but I haven't seen too many places that outright call Bush a war criminal. Although, from my experience, the British have far less reverence for their heads of state than do US citizens. Bush does not deny previous knowledge about the existence or destruction of the torture tapes. The article points out that he has claimed "he does not recall" knowledge of them.

Here is Sullivan's conclusion:
Any reasonable person examining all the evidence we have - without any bias - would conclude that the overwhelming likelihood is that the president of the United States authorised illegal torture of a prisoner and that the evidence of the crime was subsequently illegally destroyed.

Republicans Need to Beware Huckabee

Peter Wehner, an ex-deputy assistant to President Bush writes in an op-ed in todays Washington Post that Republicans need to be careful about supporting Mike Huckabee for President.

Here is Wehner's first paragraph in the op-ed:
Some of us -- in my case, a political conservative and evangelical Christian -- are getting a queasy feeling when it comes to the presidential campaign of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and much of it has to do with his use of faith in this political campaign.

I assume that Wehner is an evangelical Christian as the term applies to President Bush. One of those Sunday church-goers that forget the meaning of their faith for six out of seven days. In other words, the kind of republican that wants the evangelical Christian vote but then forgets about them after they get the vote.

Wehner's last paragraph says:
Mike Huckabee, by all accounts a faithful Christian, may not have crossed any bright lines yet -- but he's edging close to them. He should pull back now, before his political ambitions injure what he claims to care about, and undoubtedly does care about, most.

"By all accounts"? Does anyone question Mike Huckabee's devotion to his faith? I sure don't. And, Wehner really didn't make it clear exactly which "bright lines" Huckabee is close to crossing.

Huckabee sure is sticking in the craw of a lot of conservatives these days.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Romney - He Looks Like a President

Be sure and read this great editorial about Willard Romney in the Concord Monitor. They describe just the kind of Republican candidate that Mike Huckabee was talking about.

Here's the first couple of paragraphs:
If you were building a Republican presidential candidate from a kit, imagine what pieces you might use: an athletic build, ramrod posture, Reaganesque hair, a charismatic speaking style and a crisp dark suit. You'd add a beautiful wife and family, a wildly successful business career and just enough executive government experience. You'd pour in some old GOP bromides - spending cuts and lower taxes - plus some new positions for 2008: anti-immigrant rhetoric and a focus on faith.

Add it all up and you get Mitt Romney, a disquieting figure who sure looks like the next president and most surely must be stopped.

Romney's main business experience is as a management consultant, a field in which smart, fast-moving specialists often advise corporations on how to reinvent themselves. His memoir is called Turnaround - the story of his successful rescue of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City - but the most stunning turnaround he has engineered is his own political career.

If John Kerry was a flip-flopper, how would the average conservative have to describe Willard Romney? This guy has gone 180 degrees on just about every position he has ever held. Someone should tell Willard that God does not like liars. I wonder how New Hampshire Republican voters will see him.

Oh yeah, Willard also thinks Jesus and Satan are brothers and that he saw his father march with Martin Luther King.

Why NYC Firemen Do Not Care for Rudy G.

Visit "".

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sci Fi Quiz

Take the Sci fi sounds quiz I received 79 credits on
The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz

How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?
Take the Sci-Fi Movie Quizdigital camera ratings

I really thought I would have done better.

You've Got to Love Mike Huckabee

Gov. Mike Huckabee has the Republicans number. Regardless of some of the nutball ideas Huckabee has, you've got to love him. Catch this interview of Huckabee with David Brody on CBN news.
There is a level of elitism that has existed, the chattering class if you will who lives in that corridor between Washington and Wall Street and they sort of live in their protected world, and frankly for a number of years many of them thought of people like me - whether it was because we were evangelicals or because maybe we were out from the middle of America. They were polite to us. They were more than happy for us to come to the rallies and stand in lines for hours to cheer on the candidates, appreciated us putting up the yard signs, going out and putting out the cards on peoples doors and making phone calls to the phone banks and - really appreciated all of our votes. But when they got elected, behind closed doors, they would laugh at us and speak with scorn and derision that we were, as one article I think once said "the easily led." So there's been almost this sort of, it's okay if you guys get a seat on the bus, but don't ever think about telling us where the bus is going to go.
That's Huckabee's take on his fellow non-evangelical Christian Republicans. It's nice knowing that at least one evangelical Christian understands Republicans. It would almost be worth donating to Huckabee's campaign just to make sure he can continue to bother the conservatives.

ID Fails in Polk County, FL

Five of the seven members of Polk County, FL school board have decided that teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution won't be necessary afterall.
Ask the Polk County School Board. The panel made news last month when five of its seven members declared a personal belief in the concept of intelligent design, the religiously based explanation of the development of life believed in by many Christians.

Four of those five sympathetic board members said they would like to see intelligent design taught in Polk schools as an alternative to Darwinian evolution, at a time when new state standards mentioning evolution by name for the first time are under consideration.

Just like that, it appeared the Darwin wars had found their newest battlefield.

Yet a few weeks later, the controversy is dying with a whimper. There's no board support for a challenge to the proposed standards. Some of the five school board members blame the local newspaper for trying to start a fight.

"It's not our agenda," said Tim Harris, one of the board members. "My personal opinion and how I vote don't always jibe."

What happened? You can start with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

You heard right. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster actually exists. And, they piled so much ridicule on the school board that it became a public embarassment. It didn't hurt that a science-focused State polytechnic campus of the University of South Florida is being built in Polk County also.
Backers see it as a potential economic engine and keystone of a high-tech I-4 corridor. They envision creating business incubators and luring technology companies.

So what was the reaction to news of intelligent design talk?

"I was surprised," said Marshall Goodman, a USF vice president and CEO of the existing and future Lakeland campuses.

Goodman, who has worked to promote the new campus among Polk's civic, business and political leaders, stopped short of criticizing local school board members. Intelligent design, however, merited no such tact.

"It's not science," Goodman said. "You can't even call it pseudo-science."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Design or Evolution

The eye is way too complex to have evolved so it must have been "designed".....right?

Wrong. Read it if you can.

It Depends on What the Meaning of "Saw" Is

Mitt had an even more outrageous claim back in 1978:
Mitt Romney went a step further in a 1978 interview with the Boston Herald. Talking about the Mormon Church and racial discrimination, he said: "My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit."

Luckly, the conservatives have David Broder's book, "The Republican Establishment: The Present and Future of the GOP" which states that George Romney:
"has marched with Martin Luther King through the exclusive Grosse Pointe suburb of Detroit."
I guess it's up to Mr. Broder to prove that statement now since so very little evidence of George Romney and MLK marching together exists.

What Mitt Romney "Saw" or Didn't "See"

Mitt Romney had a dream. He has twice proclaimed that he saw his father, George Romney, march with Marting Luther King. It now appears that Mitt Romney didn't actually mean he "saw" his father in the march with ML King. What he meant was that he "saw" him, in the english literature major figurative sense. More like he imagined him marching with ML King.

Here is a CBS interview with Mitt questioning him about this march:
CBS News: “Did you actually see — with your own eyes — your father marching with Martin Luther King?”

Romney: “My own eyes? You know, I speak in the sense of I saw my dad become president of American Motors. I wasn’t actually there when he became president of American Motors, but I saw him in the figurative sense of he marched with Martin Luther King. My brother also remembers him marching with Martin Luther King and so in that sense I saw him march with Martin Luther King.”
The march that Mitt "saw" (imagined) supposedly took place in Grosse Point, MI in either 1963 or 1968. Unfortunately, the Grosse Pointe Historical Society has no record of Martin Luther King ever marching in Grosse Pointe. It would be very unusual for there to be no record of this march considering that George Romney was governor or running for President at the time the supposed marches took place. ML King did visit in 1968 and spoke at the local high school but Romney was not present.

Here is the Romney campaign explanation:
Following the Phoenix's investigation into the matter, Mitt Romney's campaign claimed that the march actually occurred in June 1963 -- and that his father made a "surprise" appearance in Grosse Pointe just a few days after King staged a march in nearby Detroit. Romney's campaign says the two events (King in Detroit and Romney in Grosse Pointe) were actually part of the same march -- therefore, the two technically marched together even though they were not physically in the same place.
So it appears that, if the campaign explanation is true, the "march" was also in the figurative sense.

Unfortunately, the NYT says differently:
However, this also has been called into question because The New York Times reported the day after the "Freedom March" that Romney did not participate because it was held on a Sunday -- and Romney, who was LDS, did not make public appearances on Sundays.
George Romney evidently was a civil rights advocate. It's too bad his son, Mitt, has to make untrue claims about his father in attempts to win the presidency.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

"The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush" is the title of an article published in Vanity Fair. It's well worth a read. Here is a taste:
I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris—or even the Yukon—becomes a venture in high finance.

The article does not paint a pretty picture about the ability of a new president to extricate us from G.W.'s mess.
What is required is in some ways simple to describe: it amounts to ceasing our current behavior and doing exactly the opposite. It means not spending money that we don’t have, increasing taxes on the rich, reducing corporate welfare, strengthening the safety net for the less well off, and making greater investment in education, technology, and infrastructure.
These are all things that are unpopular but need to be done whether the next president is a Republican or a Democrat. It will also take a willing Congress. The article goes on to wonder what could have been accomplished in the USA with the probable $2 trillion dollars we have spent on Bush wars. Putting our economy back on track is going to take years.

Lewis Black Has More to Say

WAMC and NCPR Radio Reach Agreement

WAMC and NCPR have reached an agreement which I think everyone will be able to live with.
Under the agreement, WAMC will withdraw its current application for a full-power station at 91.7. If and when the FCC awards the license to NCPR, the existing translator license would be transferred to WAMC which will run it at a different frequency. The entire arrangement is subject to FCC approval.

Thank you WAMC

UPDATE: Please see additional comments on this issue at Adirondack Almanack and MOFYC.

Lakota Tribe Renounces US Citizenship

Yes, sometimes I do read FOX News.
The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States.

"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,'' long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means said.


The exceptional Lie group E8 is one of the most complicated structures ever studied. It is also one of the most perfectly symmetrical mathmatical structures in the universe. The picture above shows E8 in an 8-dimensional form projected onto two dimensions. E8 is a 248-dimensional object that describes a 57-dimensional shape in the same way that three dimensions are needed to describe a sphere, which is two-dimensional. This structure appears to be embedded in the heart of physics and the quest for a unified theory.

It took 18 mathematicians four years using 77 hours of supercomputer time to describe the structure. The structure could help determine the deep inner structure of the universe. Find out as much as you want to know about E8 here.

Why the sudden interest in E8? Well, you will have to read The Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child to find that out.

North Country Radio Wars - Gospel Radio

If you are not already familiar with the outside attacks by other radio stations on our beloved North Country Public Radio, you can find all you need to know here, here and here.

But how many people know that WAMC Public Radio out of Albany is not the only station attacking NCPR. It appears that gospel station WNGN also wants the lucrative Lake Placid airways. This radio station is part of the listener supported Northeast Gospel Broadcasting, Inc. presided over by President and General Manager Brian Larson. Larson blames NCPR for their Lake Placid problem. In an interview with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise Larson said: "St. Lawrence University could have solved this years ago by converting their translator to a primary station." NCPR General Manager Ellen Rocco responded in the same ADE article: "We're basically cheap. It's your money and we try to be very economical with your dollars." Explaining why NCPR has not put up a full power station in the Lake Placid area. North Country residents can certainly sympathize with that statement. But NCPR has applied for a permanent transmitter in the Lake Placid area consistently over the last 21 years.

WNGN's programming is mostly gospel teachings and Christian music. Oliver North is a regular guest on WNGN. The North Country is a primarily Republican area and I'm sure listeners would love to hear Oliver North. But I question how many area residents really want to listen to gospel teachings and Christian music, not to imply that North Country residents are not religious.

In the best of Christian traditions Larson says "We'd love to be the peacemakers."

According to the ADK article NCPR is applying for a 1500 watt transmitter. WAMC for a 6000 watt transmitter and WNGN for an 8000 watt transmitter.

It's unclear to me, but from what I can tell the FCC typically awards the license to the most powerful transmitter that reaches the most people. We will see how this all turns out. North Country residents are not afraid of a good fight and will not be intimidated by these larger radio stations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Was....The Earth Created in 7 Days? No.

More Jewish bigotry towards Christians Mike Maddox? Think there are any Christians in that audience? You've got to admit this guy, one of the chosen people, is pretty funny.

Geek Vote Info - Compare Dems and Repubs

Popular Mechanics online has a handy little table that outlines the positions of the Presidential contenders on various science and technology issues. You have to do a bit of clicking to see positions the candidates hold.

Let's take science/education for instance. On the Republican side the candidates seem to treat the issue as an after thought. Here's Mitt Romney:
a.) "Emphasize math and science, while promoting innovative approaches such as charter schools and public-private partnerships, to ensure American workers have the intellectual capital and skills to compete in the 21st century economy."

b.) "Governor Romney will ensure that the workers of the future have the intellectual capital and skills they need to compete in the new global marketplace."
Compare that with Barrack Obama's sentiments:
a.) "Emphasize the importance of technology literacy, ensuring that all public school children are equipped with the necessary science, technology and math skills to succeed in the 21st century economy."

b.) "Strengthen math and science education to help develop a skilled workforce and promote innovation."

c.) "Work to increase our number of science and engineering graduates, encourage undergraduates studying math and science to pursue graduate studies, and work to increase the representation of minorities and women in the science and technology pipeline, tapping the diversity of America to meet the increasing demand for a skilled workforce."

d.) "Wants to make the Research and Development tax credit permanent so that firms can rely on it when making decisions to invest in domestic R&D over multiyear time frames."

e.) Double federal funding for basic research in the sciences.
Not only does Obama have more to say than Romney, he actually has a couple of specific proposals as in D and E.

Here is what Rudy Giuliani proposes:
a.) "Promote science and mathematics through technical certification or an associate degree."
Technical certification and Associate degrees are wonderful ways to provide skills to a large number of Americans. But it's the PhD scientists and engineers that are going to keep our country competitive.

Compare Rudy single position with John Edwards positions:
a.) "We all pay a price when young people who could someday find the cure for AIDS or make a fuel cell work end up sitting on a stoop because they didn't get the education they need. If we do not invest in science and math education now, the United States risks becoming a technology follower, rather than a leader."

b.) "John Edwards believes that policy should be science driven, and that science shouldn't be politics driven. He will make sure that government professionals charged with the collection and analysis of scientific data—from medical research to mercury emissions—are insulated from political influence."

c.) "Eliminate political litmus tests for government scientists."

d.) "Protect the integrity of government science by prohibiting political appointees from overriding agencies' scientific findings unless the chief White House science advisor concludes they are erroneous."

e.) "Reverse the demotion of the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and restore the office to a central role as an assistant to the president, a rank held in previous administrations."

f.) Make the Research and Experimentation tax credit permanent. "The credit has expired or nearly expired 11 times in the last 25 years, discouraging companies from making long-term commitments to research."

g.) "Increase spending on basic research at the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health and lift stifling research restrictions."

h.) Modernize "patent laws—which haven't been updated in 50 years—to provide incentives for research."

i.) "Invest more in teacher pay and training to attract good teachers in the schools and subjects we need them most ... math and science education."
Kind of embarrassing isn't it? You actually have to wonder whose side the Republican candidates are on. Maybe they are satisfied that all our science, engineering and computer expertise will be coming out of India.

Candidate positions on automotive technology, digital tech, energy/climate, environment, infrastructure, space and for some reason even gun control can also be compared.

The GOP - Gospel's Own Party

Harold Meyerson hits the nail on the head this morning with an op-ed in the Washington Post called "Hardliners for Jesus".
My concern isn't the rift that has opened between Republican political practice and the vision of the nation's Founders, who made very clear in the Constitution that there would be no religious test for officeholders in their enlightened new republic. Rather, it's the gap between the teachings of the Gospels and the preachings of the Gospel's Own Party that has widened past the point of absurdity, even as the ostensible Christianization of the party proceeds apace.
The gap is a big one. After all, what was Jesus' second greatest commandment? And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Matt 22:39). Meyerson goes on to use immigration as an example.
But it's on their policies concerning immigrants where Republicans -- candidates and voters alike -- really run afoul of biblical writ. Not on immigration as such but on the treatment of immigrants who are already here. Consider: Christmas, after all, celebrates not just Jesus's birth but his family's flight from Herod's wrath into Egypt, a journey obviously undertaken without benefit of legal documentation. The Bible isn't big on immigrant documentation. "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger nor oppress him," Exodus says the Lord told Moses on Mount Sinai, "for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."

The members of the Gospel's Own Party believe that it is not enough to stop illegal immigration, but you need to punish the illegal immigrants that are already here. And, that includes their children.

Finally, Meyerson points out that members of the Gospel's Own Party seem to be requiring an increasing amount of meanness from Republican presidential candidates in order to get their vote.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Income Inequality

I got this chart from Kevin Drum on Washington Monthly, he got it from Afferent Input The income inequality is so scewed that the Y axis needs to be exagerated in order to make room for the data at the bottom. The graph shows that the person in the top 1% got $8.73 out of $100 in 1979. In 2005 that same person got $18.39 out of $100. In the top 5% - 1% group, people got $2.71 out of $100 in 1979. In 2005, people in that group got $3.18 out of $100. All other groups, except the 5% -10% group get less out of the $100 in 2005 than they did in 1979.

Parasitic Worms - Trematode Infections

Trematodes, or flukes are often refered to as flatworms. Most trematode infections of humans are acquired via the digestive tract.

Trematodes can range in size from 0.16 mm to 5.7 cm in length. They are usually oval in shape, bilaterally symetrical and flattened dorsal-ventrally. They typically possess an oral sucker leading to a digestive tract and sometimes a ventral sucker which is used for attachment to the host. These suckers are sometimes decorated with spines and small crater like depressions called papillae. Trematodes have a rudimentary gut, but usually no anus and a simple nervous system. Most trematodes are hermaphroditic and are often capable of self-fertilization.

Trematode eggs typically possess a lid or operculum that can easily be seen in this Paragonimus egg (Lung worm). The egg measures about 80-110 x 50-60 microns.
The life cycle of typical trematode worms is illustrated by that of Paragonimus westermani commonly known as the oriental lung worm. This infection is found primarily in isolated areas of the far East, occasionally in West Africa and Central and South America.

Adult worms are found in pairs located in a cystic cavity in the lungs. Eggs are coughed up and usually swallowed, passing out in the feces. The eggs require water to hatch. A form of the worm called a miracidium hatches from the egg and proceeds to penetrate the body of a freshwater snail. In the snail the miracidium develops into a sporocyst, then rediae which finally give rise to many cercaria. The short-lived cercaria must infect a freshwater crab by penetrating and encysting in the crabs gills or muscles. This stage of the parasite is called a metacercaria and the crab is called an intermediate host.

If the crab is eaten raw, the metacercaria hatch in the intestine and the worm burrows from the intestines through the diaphram and into the lungs. Eggs are laid 5-6 weeks later and the cycle continues. Although these worms are hermaphroditic, two worms are necessary for fertilization to take place.

The clinical features of this infection resemble chronic bronchitis with a morning cough producing redish-brown mucous. The infection can be diagnosed by finding the trematode eggs in the feces. The infection can be prevented by simply cooking crabs prior to eating them (no sushi please). The infection can be treated with a drug called praziquantel (Biltricide).

Next time we will discuss Schistosomiasis, the most important trematode infection of humans.

Monday, December 17, 2007

9/11 Excuse for Surveillance?

We have to have extensive wiretapping because of 9/11 right? At least that is an excuse that is often offered. Why then were telecoms being asked to give intelligence agencies access to phone lines prior to 9/11?

Other N.S.A. initiatives have stirred concerns among phone company workers. A lawsuit was filed in federal court in New Jersey challenging the agency’s wiretapping operations. It claims that in February 2001, just days before agency officials met with Qwest officials, the N.S.A. met with AT&T officials to discuss replicating a network center in Bedminster, N.J., to give the agency access to all the global phone and e-mail traffic that ran through it.
BTW, the New York Times has known about this since November 2004. Oh yeah, there's liberal media for you.

Hmmmmm, maybe Ron Paul is worth another look.

TeleCom Immunity on Illegal Wiretapping?

Tomorrow the Senate is ready to debate and pass S. 2248 This is the Bill that will give giant TeleComs automatic retroactive immunity for their part in Bush's illegal, warrantless wiretapping program. This is also the Bill that Sen. Chris Dodd has promised to filibuster.

Sen. Dodd and Senator Feingold will point out that:
under current law, companies already get immunity for cooperating with government requests for information -- as long as the requests follow requirements that are clearly laid out in the law. If companies didn't follow this law, and cooperated with illegitimate requests for sensitive information, then we should not hand them a "get out of jail free" card after the fact. Judges should be the ones to make this determination -- and to rule on the legality of the warrantless program.
This is exactly right. Judges should be making this decision, not the legislative body.

Sen. Chris Dodd asks for help in removing retroactive immunity here.

You can find more detail on the Dodd-Feingold amendment that will be offered here and also here. This amendment will remove the retroactive immunity from the Bill.

Love him or hate him...listen to Sen. Ted Kennedy. He makes several excellent points.

Lieberman Supports McCain

He's not a blogger or pundit but Sen. Joe Lieberman came out in support of John McCain for President today. Not a big surprise. Joe believes John is the only one who can break partisan gridlock.

I guess Joe is another one of those flip-flopping politicians.
During his 2006 reelection campaign, Lieberman emphasized that he would support Democratic candidates in 2008. "I want Democrats to be back in the majority in Washington and elect a Democratic president in 2008," he said during a televised debate in July.

Happy Birthday Beethoven

Telecast March 22, 1952 from Carnegie Hall, New York City.

Ok, so this was the date he was baptized....his actual birth date is not known.

Republican Presidential Candidates

Is there any conservative website out there that makes a convincing argument for electing any of these Republican bozos?

It seems like Mitt Romney might be the least nutty of the group if you leave out the fact of his nutty religious beliefs and that he has "flip-flopped" on just about everyone of his political positions he has held in the past. Mitt claims he hasn't flip flopped, so I guess that makes him a liar as well.

Maybe John McCain would have had a chance at the nomination if he hadn't become such a huge Bush ass kisser, but then again he also holds a position on immigration that conservatives just cannot support. He's also really, really old.

How about Rudy? It's unlikely that the fast talking New York City boy would be electable after all his moral positions have been shown to the voters. But then again, 9/11 has worked in the past. Will the rubes fall for it again?

Fred Thompson might be a viable candidate if only he could keep the voters (and himself) awake long enough to listen to him. Maybe if they played that "Law and Order" ching chung sound everytime he appears it would keep people awake.

That leaves Mike Huckabee. What is there to say about Pastor Huckabee? He's a likeable sort of guy. Doesn't seem to be mad at anyone. The fundamentalists seem to like him. He likes subservient women. Doesn't mind tax increases either. Too bad no one is willing to fund his campaign.

Snow - Are We Dazed Yet?

About 12-15 in. of snow fell at my place yesterday. The driveway was shoveled twice -took 2 hours each time. News reports claim we are "dazed" by the snowstorm. Sorry, a foot of snow around here will not daze anyone.

Pictures to follow soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Champlain Bridge - Replace or Repair?

A picture of the bridge I took some time ago. In the foreground are the ruins of Ft. St. Frederic.

An article in this mornings Plattsburgh Press Republican concerns one of the most beautiful bridges in the North Country - the Champlain Bridge in Crown Point, NY. The bridge was built in 1929 and historic preservation experts want it preserved. So do I. This was the first bridge in the USA to use the continuous-truss style of construction.

Although architects and historic preservation experts want to preserve the bridge, comments by a local politician should be of concern.
Supervisor Ronald Jackson (R-Essex) said the Champlain Bridge is in poor condition now, with expansion rollers seized and holes in the steel.

"We should encourage New York DOT to speed up the process so we can get around to replacing that bridge."

Mr. Jackson pointed out the replacement of the bridge is likely to end up in the courts. It sounds like Mr. Jackson may be in favor of replacing this beautiful bridge with the standard flat bridge that is so common today. Lucky for us, the State of Vermont has some say in what will happen also. Vermonters are into preserving history.
Professor Robert McCullough is a consultant to the Vermont Agency of Transportation's Historic Bridge Program. He teaches historic preservation at the University of Vermont.

"We have a program (in Vermont) to maintain and rehabilitate our bridges," McCullough said. "We want to look at the historic importance of the Champlain Bridge. It's the first of its type in the country."

It would be a sad state of affairs if this bridge were not preserved given its location right next to the ruins of the British and French forts that were so important during the 18th century.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Deep Snow

WAMC - The North Country Doesn't Need You

I was going to comment about the attempt by WAMC public radio to steal the 91.7 FM Lake Placid frequency away from North Country Public Radio. But Adirondack Almanack has already done so (and probably better than I would have). Please click on the link and read what the Almanack has to say.

Friday, December 14, 2007

S.1943 Anti-torture Bill Blocked by Senate Republicans

What a surprise!!!! Senate Republicans have blocked the anti-torture bill on a "technicality". And who is the Senator that put a hold on the bill? Mr. anti-torture himself...Senator Lindsey Graham.

Letter To Senator Schumer

Dear Chuck,

How is S.1943, the anti-torture bill you co-sponsored coming along? You know the one I'm talking about? The one you said AG Mukasey would enforce if passed. Let me refresh your memory from the email you sent to me (and many others I'm sure).
Therefore, I hope Congress will soon pass S.1943, a bill I am cosponsoring to explicitly ban the use of waterboarding and other abusive interrogation techniques. Judge Mukasey not only made clear to me that the president would have no legal authority to ignore such legislation, but also pledged to enforce such a law.
From the vote in the House, it sure looks to me like you will not get the necessary 60 votes in the Senate to pass the bill. And lets say that somehow it does get through the Senate [oops I spoke too soon, looks like the Senate Republicans have found a way to block S. 1943 already], want to bet money on whether Bush will veto the bill or not? I'll even give you odds.

But you assured us that you were not worried even if the anti-torture bill does not get passed. Again let me remind you what you wrote:
Further, even if we don't pass a new anti-waterboarding law, on the issue of torture we would be better off with Judge Mukasey than with a caretaker.
Sure sounds like your AG is helping you out on the CIA torture tape inquiry.

You can forget any future support from me Chuck. I take the torture issue very seriously. Alot of the responsibility for the future torture of any individual by the US government will lie upon your head Mr. Schumer.

Bush Shreds Paper

John Cook at Radaronline points out that the Bush Admin. has been a boon to the paper shredding business. Federal spending on paper shredding is up 600% since Bush took office. Is anyone surprised?

Why Congress Isn't Working

I assume that most intelligent people realize that the current Democratic-led Congress isn't getting many things done for a reason. The reason is two simple words...Republicans & Senate. Remember that filibuster that Republican Senators were complaining about so much when they were in power just a year ago. Turns out that the filibuster works pretty well for them.

You remember that filibuster. The one that Trent Lott complained about:
“Filibustering is wrong. It’s not supportable under the Constitution. And if they insist on persisting with these filibusters, I’m perfectly prepared to blow the place up.”

or the one that Mitch McConnell disliked so much:

"The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail … and so far it’s working for us."
The filibuster is good for G.W. Bush. Bills with majority Democratic support (even bipartisan support) never even get to him. Thus, he doesn't have to use his veto power. This absolves Bush of any responsibility which is ironic because Bush was never big on responsibility throughout his pre-presidential life.

Take this example reported in the Washington Post a couple days ago.
In fact, the Senate Republicans are so accustomed to blocking measures that when the Democrats finally agreed last week to their demands on a bill to repair the alternative minimum tax, the Republicans still objected, briefly blocking the version of the bill that they wanted before scrambling to approve it later.

[my emphasis]
Senate Republicans are so quick to filibuster that they are now filibustering legislation that they agree with.

Republicans in the Senate have blocked the energy bill. Apparently they don't think oil companies should be taxed. I wish they could explain that to car owners given the current climate of rising gas prices and oil company profits.

Unfortunately, the "liberal mainstream media" doesn't really seem to get it either. Or they get it but just don't want to lay responsibility where it belongs - at the feet of the Republicans.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

House Passes Anti-Torture Bill - McHugh Votes Against It

By a 222-199 vote, the House of Representatives passed the FY2008 Intelligence Authorization bill. This is the bill that bans waterboarding and confines interrogators to using only techniques permitted by the Army Field Manual.

Rep. John McHugh joined all but 5 of his republican colleagues in voting in favor of torture.

NY Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, gives his two cents below.

Adirondack Photographs (And More)

Visit Mark Kurtz Photography to see some great pictures of the Adirondacks (also NYC and a few other places). Mark shoots in black and white and most of the pictures are panoramic views. Well worth a visit.

Mitt Romney - You Used to Like Him

The internets are a wonderful thing!

Supporting Obama

At the risk of hexing the Obama campaign (I supported Howard Dean) I'm coming out in support of Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for President of the USA. But I like all the Democratic contenders for President and anyone of them would make a good President.

This is an extremely tough decision considering that we have a woman and a black man running for the Democratic nomination for President at the same time. Hillary Clinton would make an excellent President. Unfortunately, I'm just not ready to go through another 4-8 yrs. of Republican attacks and whining about the Clintons. And, Hillary comes across as someone who might be trigger happy when it comes to foreign intervention. Edwards would also make a good President but I'm not sure he can get the nomination.

Although I'm a hard core "blue stater", I would genuinely love to see more of a "purple" political process in this country. We need to start compromising more and that is where Barrack Obama comes in. I take him at his word when he says he wants to be President of the USA....not blue and red America.

There is another reason I am supporting an Obama candidacy. His name and his face. That's right...because he has what to many of us is a foreign name and he is black. On the world stage, I think that is just what the USA needs at this time. I think it will send a positive message throughout the world that citizens of the USA are willing to elect someone with the "scary" middle name "Hussein" to represent us. Obama will also be a much more difficult candidate for Republicans to run against. They want to run against Hillary Clinton because they know how to run against Hillary Clinton.

Unlike G.W. Bush, I think Obama's upbringing has given him some insights into multiculturalism. True, like G.W. Bush Obama does not have a huge amount of experience, but neither did Bush. However, unlike G.W. Bush, Barack Obama has been successful in what he thus far accomplished in his life.

Of course I will support the Democratic candidate that wins the nomination...what choice do I for "flip-flopper" Romney...."warmonger" Guiliani...."hang em high" Tancredo or "preacher" Huckabee?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Seven Wonders of the Adirondacks

Adirondack Almanack has a great idea (I wish I had thought of it).
Which human and natural constructed things/places inside the Adirondack Park's Blue Line are the most significant, must-see attractions, marvels of engineering, historically important, or have other significance that makes them one of the top seven?
I've already made my suggestion for the must-see human constructed place to visit. So everybody should visit Adirondack Almanack HERE and vote for their favorite human-made and natural attraction in the Adirondack Park. I'm anxious to see if I've already visited them.

DEC map of State campgrounds.

This Modern World

Click here to see this hilarious cartoon about the latest NIE concerning the Iranian nuclear program.

Are Jesus and Lucifer Brothers?

Mike Huckabee, ordained Baptist minister, asks a question about Mormon beliefs in next weeks Sunday NYT Magazine.
"Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" Huckabee asks, according to a preview of the article posted on the Times website. He made the comment after being asked whether he believes Mormonism is a cult, as some evangelical Christians do.

Mitt Romney replies:
"I think attacking someone's religion is really going too far," Romney said on the "Today" show. It's just not the American way, and I think people will reject that."
I assume Mitt means attacking Christian religion is un-American. I'm pretty sure attacking any other religion is OK.

But does the LDS preach that Jesus and Satan are brothers. Mitt suggests no. What does the LDS have to say about it? Well, the "Bible Belt Blogger" gives us a link right to the an LDS website. You can click here to see what the LDS has to say about the matter (scroll down a bit to the second article).
On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some—especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations. But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers. Jesus Christ was with the Father from the beginning. Lucifer, too, was an angel “who was in authority in the presence of God,” a “son of the morning.” (See Isa. 14:12; D&C 76:25–27.) Both Jesus and Lucifer were strong leaders with great knowledge and influence. But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)
Now maybe that paragraph can be parsed somehow, but it's pretty clear that Jesus and Satan (Lucifer) were at least "spirit brothers".

W. John Walsh disagrees.

Here is what Spencer Woolley Kimball, a distant relative of mine and once President of the LDS, has to say:
Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, Pg.87

"There is another power in this world, forceful and vicious. In the wilderness of Judea, on the temple's pinnacle and on the high mountain, a momentous contest took place between two brothers, Jehovah and Lucifer, sons of Elohim. When physically weak from fasting, Christ was tempted by Lucifer: "If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread." (Luke 4:3.)
It is so much fun that the GOP Presidential candidates have to satisfy a religious fundamentalist base.

Who detests illegal immigration the most?

That is the question being asked of potential voters for Republican Presidential candidates.
"Americans are very frustrated that they feel like their government has just ignored a problem, let it get worse, spiraled out of control and, by golly, they expect us to fix it," Huckabee said during a stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he was joined by Minuteman co-founder Jim Gilchrist.
Huckabee is a man's man....first he gets asskicker Chuck Norris on his side and now he's got America's current "first" Minuteman - Jim Gilchrist. Some brown ass is sure to be in trouble now.

Yes sir, this is an issue for conservative voters that is more important than healthcare, the economy, terrorism and the wars all put together. It's an issue that allows one to be fearful and hateful at the same time.

Huckabee is really uping the ante on the other Republican Presidential contenders and kissing the asses of the Minutemen big time.
"There are times when I, probably in the early days of the Minuteman, I thought, 'What are these guys doing . . . what are they about?' " he told Gilchrist during their press conference in Iowa. "I confess, I owe you an apology for even questioning why in the world you guys would do it. As all of us have seen, the federal government has failed to secure the borders -- they failed to bring a policy that is good for everybody involved."

Being a member of the Minutemen seems pretty easy. All you need is a pair of binoculars, a lawn chair and a cooler full of brewskis. Maybe Huckabee can give some of the minutemen advice on how to lose some weight.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Huckabee Supports Subservient Wives

Mike also believes that wives must be subservient to their husbands. He signed a full page ad stating A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."

I'm sure there are some conservative Republican wives that believe they must graciously submit to their husbands. Sounds a bit like a radical islamic belief also. But does Huckabee still believe this nonsense now that he is running for president? This belief is even more weird than not accepting the theory of evolution.

Voyager 2 Reaches Boundary

Remember Voyager 2? The space probe that was launched in 1977? It has finally crossed the boundry of our solar system - the place where the solar wind falters. About 84 astronomical units from the Sun (7.8 billion miles).

Image courtesy NASA/Feimer

Malaria Vaccines - Sanaria Goes Back to Basics....Way Back

The last twenty years or so have seen various attempts at making an effective anti-malaria vaccine using the latest and greatest scientific techniques. Subunit vaccines, DNA vaccines, recombinent vaccines using viruses as vectors, vaccines targeting pre-erythrocytic stages, erythrocytic stages, even the parasite stages that are found in the mosquito vector.

It now appears, according to an article in today's NYT Science Times, that scientists at a company called Sanaria, are attempting to use techniques that go way back to the 50's and 60's for developing an anti-malaria vaccine. The technique involves obtaining a stage of the malaria parasite called a sporozoite from malaria-infected mosquito salivary glands. Obtaining mosquito salivary glands is done by gently separating the head of the mosquito from the thorax. Tedious work I can assure you, since I personally spent many hours doing so.

To really appreciate the complexity of malaria and producing an anti-malaria vaccine you really need to understand the malaria life cycle.

Different forms (stages) of the malaria parasite are found in the mosquito (very specific mosquito species and only females), in the liver and in red blood cells. Malaria infection begins with the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito injects a stage of the parasite called a sporoszoite into the blood vessel of a human host. It is the sporozoite that one hopes the immune system will target and destroy. Unfortunately, within about 30 minutes or so, the sporozoite penetrates the cells of the liver (hepatocytes). This is unfortunate for a couple of reasons. First, the sporozoite is no longer free in the bloodstream available to attack from antibodies and phagocytic cells. Second, once penetrating the hepatocytes, the sporozoite is no longer recognized by the immune system as a sporozoite. 100% of the malaria sporozoites must be destroyed by the immune system prior to the sporozoite penetrating the liver. A single surviving sporozoite can result in malaria.

It was shown 40 years (or more) ago that if you irradiate malaria sporozoites with just the right amount of gamma radiation, the sporozoites are still alive but can no longer penetrate the liver. This allows the sporozoites to remain in the blood stream thus stimulating the immune system to develop high levels of specific anti-sporozoite antibodies. Small experimental anti-sporozoite vaccine trials have been done on humans. In the late 40's prisoners at Stateville prison near Joliet, IL were used as experimental subjects. The results of these trials were not that impressive.

So, the multi-million dollar company Sanaria has gone back to the days of yore to find the illusive malaria vaccine. This involves raising roomfulls of mosquitoes which are infected with the most dangerous species of human malaria - Plasmodium falciparum. You do not want these mosquitoes to escape. A team of technicians must dissect infected salivary glands from tens of thousands of mosquitoes - a really, really boring job. The malaria sporozoites must be separated from the mosquito salivary gland tissue. This is really important. When mice that received a prior injection of ground up infected mosquito salivary glands were given a second injection of the same material...the majority of the mice would die within five minutes due to anaphylactic shock. The purified sporozoites must then be irradiated and frozen (cryopreserved). A crude vaccine prepared pretty much the way Pasteur made vaccines well over 100 years ago.

Will this work? And by work, I mean rid the world of malaria. In my humble

Monday, December 10, 2007

If It Were Anyone Else They'd Be Dead

Cool ad in found in ten Iowa newspapers today. Well, maybe not anyone else, but surely one of those 47 million US citizens that do not have health insurance. Dick Cheney is one of those lucky federal employees that do not have to be too concerned about cost of health care.

The ad is sponsored by the California Nurses Association.

Cairo, Egypt - Great Pyramids - City of the Dead

Karina is a young women from Saranac Lake who has lived in Mongolia and currently resides in Belgrade. She has just returned from a visit to Cairo, Egypt. You can see her pictures here. The USA is lucky that we have people like Karina representing us. Karina's blog is here.

Sciencedebate 2008

Do you think it's important that the President of the USA be scientifically literate? There is now a formal call for a presidential debate that would focus on science and technology policy. This call is being made by such noted scientists as David Baltimore, Ken Miller, Bill Nye and Harold Varmus. It also includes David Kennedy, editor-in-chief of Science; Shirley Tilghman, president of Princeton Univ., Niles Eldredge, curator at The American Museum of Natural History as well as several congressmen and congresswomen.

We believe current scientific and technological challenges can bring out the best in the entrepreneurial American spirit. America can be a leader in finding cures for our worst diseases, invent the best alternative energy sources, and graduating the most scientifically literate children in the world - or we can concede these economic and humanitarian benefits to other countries.

We believe a debate on the policy side of these issues would be the ideal opportunity for America and the candidates to explore our national priorities on the issues, and it is hard to imagine any candidate not wishing to be involved in such an occasion.

How many candidates do you think would agree to such a debate? Do you think such a debate would just end up being a display of scientific illiteracy on the part of the candidates?

Obviously we would need to have someone other than the slick haired talking head pundits ask the questions. Some people that actually know something about science and science policy. Questions concerning energy independence, ethics of stem cell research, view on evolution theory, whether the US must maintain its technological and scientific lead over the world.

Supreme Court Rules Federal Guidelines Not Mandatory

Today the Supreme Court ruled that judges may impose lighter sentences for crack cocain than those recommended by Federal Guidlines.
The crack cocaine decision was one of two today in which the justices, with identical seven-member majorities, reinforced their view that federal sentencing guidelines are advisory rather than mandatory [my emphasis], and that judges may deviate from them so long as their decisions are reasonable.

I never have understood why crack dealers/users are sentenced 100x harder than cocaine dealers/users. Unless it was a way for the man to oppress the little guy. It only takes 5 grams of crack cocaine to warrant the same sentence as someone dealing 500 grams of cocaine. You can find out more about the differences crack cocaine and cocaine at these links.

The ACLU has been calling for an end to the sentencing disparity for several years.

G.W. Bush: Is the Joke on Us?

Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors asks whether the joke is on us.

Who Will Be the GOP Candidate for President?

Ross Douthat (a two time Bush voter) of The Atlantic doesn't think any of them has what it takes. They are either too liberal, too conservative, too religious, too untrustworthy or too looney. None of the current GOP candidates can seem to garnish much more than ~30-35% of the vote nationally or in a given state poll. Douthat writes:
Note that I'm not saying the Republican field is weak, exactly. In a certain sense, it's the most accomplished primary field of any major party in a long time; indeed, you could argue that almost all the GOP candidates (including Huckabee) have more impressive resumes than the three leading Democrats, who between them can boast about ten years in the Senate and the weird quasi-accomplishment of being First Lady. It's just that ideologically-speaking, none of the Republican contenders make nearly as much sense as candidates for the nomination of the present-day GOP as Obama, Clinton and Edwards do as candidates for the nomination of the present-day Democratic Party.
Time to haul out Jeb Bush? Newt Gingrich?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Democratic Leaders Have Some 'Splainin to Do

It appears that in 2002, 4 members of congress met with the CIA and were given an extensive virtual tour of the "torture program".
Yet long before "waterboarding" entered the public discourse, the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge.

With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).

I think these Senators owe the public an explanation.

UPDATE: It appears that Jane Harman at least sent a classified letter to the CIA protesting the interrogation techniques.

Hummers for HOPE

Or maybe that should be HOPE people will believe hummers are necessary. HOPE is Hummer owners prepared for emergencies. I now realize why it is necessary for people to own Hummers. It's for our own welfare.

Maybe now people will stop flipping the bird at Hummer owners.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Parasitic Worms: An Introduction

There appears to be an unsatisfactory amount of information, at least to me, on the internets for general information about parasitic worms. In any case, I feel like writing about parasitic worms today.

Parasitic worms, or as we call them in the world of parasitology, parasitic helminths, are metazoan animals made up of three phyla: Platyhelminths or flatworms (flukes and tapeworms); Nematoda (roundworms) and the less well known Acanthocephala (thorny headed worms). Metazoan simply means they are members of the animal kingdom and are made up of many cells.

A fluke (trematode)

Parasitic worms (helminths) are a very diverse group of animals. Adult worms can range in size from just a few hundred microns up to 10 meters in length. In terms of sex, male and female reproductive organs can be in the same worm (flukes and tapeworms) or as individual male and female worms (roundworms and acanthocephalans). Some worms have no gut others have have a gut with a single opening (no anus), while others have guts with both a mouth and an anus.

Parasitic worms also have different types of life cycles. Those with a direct life cycle have only a single host. Those with an indirect life cycle utilize more than one host to complete their life cycle. In either case, the host in which sexual reproduction of the worm takes place is called the definitive host. Hosts in which development, growth or asexual reproduction takes place are called the intermediate host. Host to host transmission occurs via eggs or larvae. Eggs are usually ingested while larvae may be ingested or they can penetrate the skin.

A tapeworm (cestode)

As noted above, worms are classified into phyla and then further into classes. In the phylum Platyhelminthes we will only concern ourselves with the class Cestoda (tapeworms) and the class (subclass?) Digenea (flatworms or flukes). The phylum Nematoda consists of many different orders that we need not really be concerned with....they are all nematodes (roundworms).

A roundworm (nematode)

Next time we'll look more specifically at the Trematodes or flukes.