Saturday, October 20, 2007

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in school children have recently made the news.

Staphylococci are gram positive, round shaped bacteria that appear in clusters, like grapes. These bacteria are commonly found on the skin and in the noses of normal humans. S. aureus normally colonize the nasal passages. This species of Staph forms large yellow colonies when grown on enriched medium. S. aureus should always be considered a pathogen.

Infection of the skin with S. aureus results in a ,variety of pus forming lesions. S. aureus can also cause urinary tract infections, phlebitis and pneumonia and other diseases.

A particulary dangerous strain of S. aureus is the methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). Infection with this pathogen is very difficult to treat in humans because it survives treatment with our most potent antibiotics. S. aureus became resistant by acquiring (evolving) the mec A gene. This gene encodes the low affinity penicillin-binding protein 2a. It is responsible for the resistance to methicillin.

Persons working in hospitals and nursing homes or the patients frequently become infected with drug resistant S. aureus. A person becomes infected with S. aureus by direct contact with another infected person. Treatment is with the antibiotic vancomycin although vancomycin-resistant S. aureus are beginning to appear.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Neighborhood Color

It's past peak color but still nice. Unfortunately, it is raining very hard right now. I expect many of these leaves are being knocked off the trees as I type.

James Watson, Genetics and Intelligence

Want to read what a variety of scientists think about Dr. Watson's remarks on African intelligence? You can't do much better than by going HERE and reading the comments.

Who's Soft on Terrorism?

Not Democrats. Just mention those few words "soft on terrorism" and many Democrats in Congress will turn their backs on the rule of law. This time it's the "RESTORE BILL" that has just been approved by Democrats in the Senate "Intelligence" committee. A majority of Democrats (and Republicans) on the committee believe that telecommunication companies deserve retroactive legal immunity for complying with Bush's illegal warrantless wiretapping activities.

The Bill still has to make it through a bit tougher Senate Judiciary Committee. If it is approved in the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chris Dodd promises to put a hold on the Bill.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dr. James Watson Suspended

The Cold Spring Harbor Board of Trustees have suspended the administrative duties of Dr. James Watson for comments he made a few days ago concerning the intelligence of Africans. Watson has apologized profusely for the remarks that he made.
"I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said," he said. "To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly. That is not what I meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief."

UPDATE: Dr. Watson has apologized for his unfortunate remarks.

War on Christmas Defense Kit

We haven't even celebrated Thanksgiving yet but the WorldNutDaily folks are promoting their "Defense of Christmas" kits. These consist of magnetic bumper "stickers" sort of like those "support the troops" magnets that used to be so popular. A bargain at $5.95.

Be the first in your neighborhood to Defend Christmas against the commie, atheistic hords that start showing up in a few weeks. And remember, be careful out there.

Feel Safer Now?

TSA security screeners miss finding up to 75% of fake bombs hidden on undercover agents posing as passengers.

Lucky for us, they are very good at identifying bottled water, toothpast, stick deodorant and other items that could interfere with the safety of a flight.

Let the Christians Be Heard

It's easy to find a small group of Christian fanatics (or other group of right or left-wing fanatics) and use them as an example to smear an entire group of conservatives (or liberals) as ultra-right (or left) wing fanatics.

Does anyone in their right mind, Christian or Atheist believe that the members of the Westboro Baptist Church represent the views of the Baptist Church or conservatives? This group of so-called "Christians" only represent the most egregious form of hate and intolerance. It wouldn't be so bad if the members of this "church" stayed in Westboro, Kansas but no, they travel across the USA spreading their particular "Christian" brand of intolerance and hate.

A great "Adirondack" conservative philosopher once said: Their idea of tolerance is seeing things their way and shutting up. I'm willing to be tolerant, as long as you don't piss on my shoes and tell me it's rain.

Fred Thompson Sees Eye-to-Eye with Fred Phelps

The Westboro Baptist Church says Presidential candidate Fred Thompson agreed with their views on homosexuals.
Church members released an open letter to Thompson this week, saying he had discussed his views on homosexuality with them while handling the case of a woman who had sued the state's Republican attorney general for sexual harassment.

"We know what your position used to be on the homosexual question — and it was wonderful, and we saw eye to eye," church members said in the letter to Thompson.

I doubt anyone knows how true this statement is. Not even Fred Thompson could agree with these so-called "Christians". And, even if he did, he'd be a fool to admit it.

S-CHIP Failed - Given to Wealthiest Families

As expected the S-SCIP bill has failed in the House of Representatives. The vote was 273-156 (and additional eight votes were picked up). Well over 70% of Americans and a majority of both houses of Congress supported the proposed S-CHIP bill. But guess who wins.....Frat Boy.

But at least now I understand why it should not be passed. You see the benefits are being given to the wealthiest among us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Not Again Dr. Watson

Dr. James Watson sticks his foot in his mouth yet again!
Dr Watson told The Sunday Times that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really". He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".
Africans are less intelligent than Westerners? Give me a break.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Captains This Time Rather Than Sergeants

An op-ed in todays Washington Post written by 12 former Army captains rather than 5 sergeants is called "The Real Iraq We Knew".
As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we've seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it's like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it's time to get out

Wind Power Not Economical?

There is an opinion piece on the economics of windpower, or lack of it, in the Plattsburgh Press Republican. The author, John Droz Jr. makes some seemingly sensible points about the lack of economic viability of wind power. He published the same letter in the Thousand Island Sun.

But there is no information about John Droz Jr. Who is he? As far as I can tell he is a retired (?) physicist who lives in Brantingham Lake, NY. But he is also a real estate broker who deals exclusively with selling lakefront property. Someone who might not much care for wind turbines obstructing potential property buyers views.

But what about his points about wind power?

1. There is no environmental benefit to wind power generated energy because the energy cannot be stored.

This seems to be a reasonable point. The energy from wind must be used when it is being produced. If it cannot be used instantly it is wasted energy.

But Mr. Droz is being bit disingenuous. Wind energy is not currently being stored but there are ways to store it and here. Surely as a physicist he could even come up with a idea or two about how to store energy. How about using the electricity generated to produce hydrogen gas from water? Remember the "hydrogen economy"? Storing excess electricity should be a concern to all energy producers.

2. It is being promoted because it is an extremely lucrative business opportunity.

Who doesn't like an extremely lucrative business proposal? Oh, but it's subsidized by the taxpayer. Aerospace, transportation, industrial and farms, telecommunications, and electronics industries also receive tax subsidies from the government. Surely other sources of energy production are subsidized by the taxpayer also and here. If we are going to complain about tax subsidies, let's propose to take away all tax subsidies to big corporations.

Sorry, but I've still yet to hear a really valid reasons to be opposed to wind power.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Lesser Bible Books

Want to read some summaries of the books of the Old Testament that you just never quite has the time to get around to reading?

How about Hosea? A cool story about a guy (Hosea) who marries a hooker at God's suggestion.

Or maybe Obadiah? It's only a page long and for once God doesn't pick on his chosen people.

You can read neat summaries, complete with pictures, of Jonah, Zephaniah, Haggai and Malachi at the JayPinkerton website.

Snowy Whiteface Mt.

Sunday was the first frost and first sighting of snow flurries at my house. Snow actually accumulated on top of Whiteface Mt.

Arab World is Our Gas Station

What's the Iraq war really all about. Here's what Gen. Abiziad has to say:

“We’ve treated the Arab world as a collection of big gas stations,” the retired general said. “Our message to them is: Guys, keep your pumps open, prices low, be nice to the Israelis and you can do whatever you want out back. Osama and 9/11 is the distilled essence that represents everything going on out back.”

You can do whatever you want out back. That's the money line. That is what our relationship with Saudi Arabia has always been about.

Angry Conservatives and Gore

It's not the first time I've pondered this question. Why are conservatives so angry? Their boy Bush was appointed President, a guy you would like to have a beer with. They took over both houses of Congress and they got two very conservative Supreme Court Justices appointed. They got to run the government with almost unfettered power for six years. They got their tax cuts, they got rid of the potential Emperor of the World - Saddam, they got their old time religion in the USA. Why are they still so angry? More specifically, why do they continue to hate Al Gore so much?

That's the question that Krugman asks and answers today in the NYT. He calls it Gore Derangement Syndrome. Is it because the Bush Administration has actually been a disaster and the conservatives realize it but can't admit it? Bad economy, shredding the Constitution, unlimited Presidential power, national debt skyrocketing, New Orleans still a mess, never ending war, broken military, pushing for another war with Iran, denying health insurance to children, Republican congressmen retiring every week, ignoring scientists....I'm sure the list could go on. Conservatives call this Bush Derangement Syndrome but I (and many others) call it reality. There are reasons to be upset with Pres. Bush but conservatives feel it is more important to deny reason and support Bush no matter what.

But I think the real reason conservatives are so upset with Al Gore is that they have been completely ineffective in diminishing the man. Mr. Gore is more respected around the World and in the USA than is Pres. Bush. Mr. Gore has been right more than Pres. Bush. Mr. Gore believes that tax cuts and bombs are not the answer to every problem.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Right Brain/Left Brain

Go here and stare at the dancer. Is she rotating clockwise or counterclockwise? Oddly enought, I see her turning clockwise although the article claims most people see her turning counterclockwise. I think I'm more of a "left brain" type person. Supposedly, if you stare long enough you can see her turning in the opposite direction in which you initially see her turning. When I looked at the dancer first thing this morning she was turning counterclockwise. Then something clicked and she started turning clockwise. What does it all mean?

UPDATE: I learned how to get her to change direction. Turn your head and look at her with your peripheral vision. She will change direction. At least it works for me.

uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking

uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies