Saturday, March 22, 2008

Queensbury, NY "Novovirus" Epidemic

Here is a scary story. More than 300 people are reporting illness after frolicking at the Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark. The State Health department is guessing it might be due to Novovirus infections. Several elderly nursing home residents recently died after becoming infected with novovirus.

Don't bother trying to get information on "novoviruses" via google. Novovirus is a recently approved name for a group of viruses that cause gastrointestinal problems, i.e. gastric flu. They include Norwalk-like viruses and Caliciviruses (which include norovirus and sapovirus). However, it seems that the word novovirus is used primarily by the press.

In general, these are single-stranded RNA, non-enveloped viruses of the family Caliciviridae. Novovirus infection infection can result in symptoms of gastroenteritis in as few as 12 hours but more typically between 24 and 48 hours. Typical recovery from illness is in 24-48 hrs but virus continues to be shed even after the illness has resolved. Transmission of the virus is via the fecal-oral route and the virus is highly infectious. These viruses are also relatively resistant to chlorinated water (up to 10 ppm). Hand sanitation is most important for preventing transmission.

Oddly enough, individuals who express the gene FUT2, which encodes the enzyme fucosyltransferase, seem to be susceptible to infection with noroviruses. These individuals are "secretors" of histoblood group antigens (HBGA). A major problem with studying noroviruses is that they cannot be cultured.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stop Aircraft Hijackers

Forward the video to 3 minutes and look at the great new techique that will stop unruly airplane passengers by shocking them to their ass. Isn't this a great idea (not!).

All I can think of is that Cheers episode where Cliffy decides to use electric shock treatment to train himself to be less annoying. The shocking device is attached to Cliffs testicles. Unfortunately, Cliff being Cliff, has an uncomfortable evening at Cheers. Oh watch it for yourselves.

Barack Obama on the Iraq War

Barack Obama has given another speech, this time addressing the Iraq War.
This is why the judgment that matters most on Iraq – and on any decision to deploy military force – is the judgment made first. If you believe we are fighting the right war, then the problems we face are purely tactical in nature. That is what Senator McCain wants to discuss – tactics. What he and the Administration have failed to present is an overarching strategy: how the war in Iraq enhances our long-term security, or will in the future. That's why this Administration cannot answer the simple question posed by Senator John Warner in hearings last year: Are we safer because of this war? And that is why Senator McCain can argue – as he did last year – that we couldn't leave Iraq because violence was up, and then argue this year that we can't leave Iraq because violence is down.

When you have no overarching strategy, there is no clear definition of success. Success comes to be defined as the ability to maintain a flawed policy indefinitely. Here is the truth: fighting a war without end will not force the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. And fighting in a war without end will not make the American people safer.
This is true. It doesn't matter whether we are succeeding in Iraq or failing - the administration uses either as an excuse to stay in Iraq. McCain was not kidding when he said we could be in Iraq for 100 years. Yeah, I guess we probably thought that about Iran too.

This also stands out.
The central front in the war against terror is not Iraq, and it never was. What more could America's enemies ask for than an endless war where they recruit new followers and try out new tactics on a battlefield so far from their base of operations? That is why my presidency will shift our focus. Rather than fight a war that does not need to be fought, we need to start fighting the battles that need to be won on the central front of the war against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Obama goes on to point out 5 strategies to address challenges of the 21st century. First, a comprehensive anti-terrorist strategy needs to be put in place. A strategy that protects civil liberties. Second, securing loose nuclear material around the world (what a no brainer). Third, cutting poverty in developing countries. Fourth, addressing global climate change and fifth, promoting a strong economy that includes free but fair trade and protects American workers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bush Iraq War Anniversary

A couple days ago, Sen. Barack Obama made what some are calling the most important speech concerning race in 40 years. I heard it and I've read it over an over and Obama pointed out truths that are rarely, if ever, mentioned especially by a politician. Obama appears to be suffering, politcally, from his speech. His speech has assured me that he is the right person to be the next president of the USA.

Yesterday, President Bush told us what a great success the War in Iraq has been. There is no doubt in President Bush's mind that the Iraq War has been "an undeniable success. How many people really believe that the Iraq War has been anything but a disaster. But I think Bush actually believes it has been a success.

So we have heard a very important, meaningful speech by a brave candidate for President who has pointed out the truths of racism and another speech by an "out of touch", less than brave President who continues to lie about how effectively the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are helping to promote democracy.

President Bush is being praised for his truths and presidential candidate Obama is being vilified by the conservative right for supporting hate speech. We've had 40 years of hate coming out of the GOP and now they are grasping at straws in hope of indicting Barack Obama as a promoter of hate. I'm not hopeful that a majority of Americans will be capable of identifying the real hero.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Barack Obama's Race Speech

Sen. Barack Obama gave an important speech today. It was either "the most important speech on race in 40 years" or it was "yes, it was nice....but...." I guess it depends on whether you are liberal or conservative. But I'm not sure who else could have given such a speech. I'm not religious but I really liked this portion of his speech:
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

Bail Out the Wealthy

Some words from E.J. Dionne:
Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy.

That hits the nail on the head. Capitalism and free markets are just great until they are not. The "free market" proponents are being very silent about the government having to bail out the big guys.

And this:

It's just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are "too big to fail," because they could bring us all down with them.
What amazes me is that the "average Joe" (at least the average conservative Joe) is probably all in favor of the bailout of Wall Street. Personal responsibility doesn't apply to the very wealthy.

Here is the best line:
"We have been saying for so long that government is the enemy. Government is the enemy until you need a friend."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Eliot Spitzer and Sub-Prime Mortgages

Did the Federal Government just stumble upon Eliot Spitzer's assignations with a high priced hooker? Were there any interested parties in seeing that Spitzer was taken down? Read this article by Greg Palast.

Is Rev. Wright - Right?

I realize that when you are running for president you have to be very careful about what you say and even what your supporters say about almost anything. The latest person whose comments have been "rejected" is Barack Obama's minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Rev. Wright has said some very inflammatory things from the pulpit.
"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye."
I'm trying to understand where that statement is wrong. Even if you agree with the nuking of Heroshima, was nuking Nagasaki necessary?
"We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."
Well, we did support the white-led government in South Africa for quite some time and we do seem to support Israel more than we do the Palestinians. And, there really hasn't been much movement on the part of the USA towards mediating an Iraeli-Palestinian peace agreement since Bush has been in office.

What about calling upon God to damn the United States. I think that God is as likely to damn the USA as he is to bless it, as He so often called upon to do. God has some hard decisions to make since Christians, Muslims and Jews are all calling upon Him to support their particular cause. I do understand why blacks in America might not want to bless the USA. They do have some valid complaints.

This is a big to do about nothing. Christian ministers have a record in this country of saying some terrible things. Personally, I am far more offended by Christian-right minister claims that God is punishing the USA because of homosexuals.