Saturday, March 24, 2007

# 10,000

10,000th visitor at 10:55 PM from West Hartford, Connecticut. They evidently came to see the picture of the mass of Ascaris worms published quite some time ago. Nice.

Today I also had visitors from Spain, Canada, Poland, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Sweden, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Egypt, Slovakia and the Russian Federation.

Someone spent an hour and 43 minutes looking through 30 pages. What's that all about? Maybe they forgot to shut down their browser.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Rosina (Joyce DiDonato), Count Almaviva (Juan Diego Flórez) and Figaro (Peter Mattei) onstage at the Met.

I'm listening to the Barber of Seville by Gioacchino Rossini on NCPR. I'm not a big opera fan but I definitely like this opera. Who isn't familiar with Largo al Factotum performed below by Tito Gobbi.

World TB Day - How We Are Doing?

Today is World TB Day. It commemorates March 24, 1882, the day Robert Koch presented his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculsosis as the cause of Tuberculosis. Koch received the Nobel Prize for this discovering in 1905.

TB is very prevalent worldwide and almost 3 million persons a year die from the disease (when including those dually infected with HIV). TB has been treatable with drugs up until a drug resistant M. tuberculosis strain appeared some years ago. Now the health care system has to catch up in combating the new TB strain.

10,000th Visitor

This blog should have its 10,000th visitor sometime later today or maybe tomorrow as weekends are usually pretty slow. It's nice to know people read this blog, although I don't really understand why. It's really a pretty eclectic mix of comments and rants. My original idea was to make this blog specifically about goings on in the Adirondacks. But, thankfully, this is a pretty sleepy area of the country as far as interesting material for commentary. We can only hope it stays that way. I like to comment on national politics, science and religion. Of course, politics and religion are usually not polite topics for conversation, at least at the dinner table. The 10,000th visitor will win....well nothing.... other than my heartfelt thanks for stopping by.

BTW...if you do want more coverage of Adirondack and North Country issues definitely visit Adirondack Almanack.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Democrats Can't Handle the Truth

That's why people in the Bush administration have to lie. Here's AG Gonzales several days ago:
I was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on … That’s basically what I knew as attorney general.
Now new email communications show that he was involved.
Several documents released by the Justice Department tonight, including Gonzales's appointment calendar, show that the attorney general and his deputy, Paul McNulty, participated in an hour-long meeting about the firings on Nov. 27. Another e-mail provided new evidence the White House was involved in the firings.
See, this is why Bush advisors can't appear before Congress under oath and with a transcript being taken. If that happened, they'd have to tell the truth. Democrats can't handle the truth so I guess they are doing us a favor.

Does anyone believe that Rove and Miers would tell the truth before Congressional committees if they were not first sworn in? Is anyone that gullible?

Universal Health Care

Is Universal Health Care coming to the USA in the near future? I sure do support it. I could retire tomorrow if I had free healthcare. Tomorrow, in Las Vegas, a forum called "A New Leadership on Health Care" will be held. Most of the Democrat candidates for president will be there to tell us what their ideas are for the future of health care in the USA.

We have 47 million people in the USA without health insurance. Over 1/4 of those uncovered individuals live in families that make between $25,000 -49,999 a year. Nine million children are uninsured.

Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden have single payer national health insurance, Great Britain and Spain have national health services and France and Germany have highly-regulated, universal, multi-payer health insurance systems. Yet the richest, most powerful nation on Earth can't do the same?

The USA ranks 40th in infant mortality rate! Cuba has a slightly better infant mortality rate than does the USA! Yet we spend almost twice as much per person on health care as do most developed nations.

G.W. Bush: His legacy

What has G.W. Bush done to the Republican party? A year after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the number of people willing to identify themselves as Republicans started dropping. Why is that? Is it because of the non-stop intolerant cultural differences many Republicans like to preach? The mismanagement of the so-called "War on Terror"? Or have Republicans realized that you can't cut taxes and continue to pay billions of dollars a month to run a war in Iraq. Just take a look at the little cost of the war in Iraq clock in the upper right corner of this blog. See how many seconds it takes to spend what you make in a year. It's good that many Republicans are coming to realize what a disaster this President has been for their party and our country.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

James Randi: A Great Skeptic

James Randi (The Amazing Randi) is a "magician" and the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Randi has a standing offer of $1 million to anyone who can prove, in a controlled setting, that they have extraordinary or supernatural powers. Below you can watch Randi expose James Hydrick, Gung Fu man extraordinarie. Hydrick has cool hair, huh?

Click "here" to watch YouTube videos of other people James Randi has exposed.

Wellness Fair: An Opportunity for Critical Thinking

Here is the letter I wrote to the Editor of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. It was published yesterday. It concerns an article that was published a few days ago.

Well over 120 years ago in Saranac Lake, NY, Dr. E. L. Trudeau was carrying on experiments using the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis. Trudeau was utilizing a technique in the relatively new field of microbiology called the scientific method. Dr. Trudeau did these experiments at a time when a large number of physicians in the USA did not believe in the germ theory of disease. There is no question that he was a man ahead of his time.

Fast forward to the year 2007. Saranac Lake High School Wellness Class students organize a Wellness fair that includes “Chakra” readings. The front page of our newspaper features a picture of a Chakra practioner (?) dangling a charm (?) over a persons body to give them a reading (?). Chakras are an ancient Eastern wellness belief based on energy systems throughout a body. We can only hope that this opportunity was used to educate students about the scientific method. The scientific method is based on gathering observable, empirical, measurable evidence that is subjected to principles of reasoning.

Maybe Chakra is what our system of medicine has been lacking. If so, what is the measurable evidence that Chakra techniques can measure energy systems? What experiments are being done to show that these techniques are actually effective in accomplishing their goals? These are serious questions that can enhance a student’s capacity to think critically.

The National Institutes of Health actually has a center dedicated to investigating alternative and complementary medicine. It’s called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Yes, they are doing studies on “Energy Medicine”. Unfortunately, putative energy fields (such as Chakra) have thus far defied measurement by reproducible methods.

It is of concern that we as a nation are becoming less and less knowledgeable about the natural world. How can people make intelligent decisions in today’s world without an understanding of science? Students should be taught to distinguish between real science and pseudoscience.

Maybe I'll be accused of not being open minded. But being open minded means being open to all ideas, which I think I am. It refers to someone who considers ideas based on their merits and rejects ideas that do not appear to be rational. Being open minded does not mean you cannot reject bad ideas. If you believe all ideas without any basis or proof, you are just being credulous. I think our students should be taught to be skeptical. They should be taught to examine claims in an objective, scientific manner. Skepticism is all about testing ideas for their validity.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Psycho Dad

You might have guessed that I was a "Married with Children" fan. I especially liked "Psycho Dad".

White House Advisors Testify

Pres. Bush will allow Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to testify before Congress (concerning US Attorney firings) but in private, not under oath and no transcript can be kept. Why would they need these conditions? Obviously, because they don't want the public to see how they dodge questions or tell lies. Considering the lies (misstatements, mischaracterizations) already told by members of this administration, it would be a waste of everyones time if these two testified without being sworn. Are you willing to give Bush and/or his advisors the benefit of the doubt?

President Clinton allowed 31 of his aides to testify before Congress on 47 different occasions. What do you think Republicans were saying when Bill Clinton claimed executive privilege?

The White House has to claim executive privilege here because they know that more investigations of the executive branch are coming down the pike. Investigations that they fear much more than "Purgegate".