Thursday, March 27, 2008

Off to DC

We're off to DC to enjoy what will be an awesome wedding.


We watched the movie "Rendition" last night. The take home message? You cannot trust a politician to do the "right" thing. You can be assured that a politician will do that which helps him/her get re-elected. Oh yeah, another message, the USA does not torture (they let others do the dirty work for them).

Another movie well worth watching is "A Bright Shining Lie". It's about Lt. Col. John Paul Vann and the Vietnam War. Vann believed that the way to win the war was through winning the hearts of the Vietnamese people. Unfortunately, he could not get the US government to even listen to his point of view.

Iraq War or Iraq Occupation?

I'm not sure whether we were ever legally at war with Iraq. Article 1, section 8 of the US Constitution gives the power to declare war to the Congress, even though the use of that power has been out of fashion since the Vietnam War era.

Technically we were certainly at war with Iraq. We invaded their country, soundly defeated their army, disbanded their army, found and executed Saddam Hussain and put in place a new government. However, it seems to me that we haven't been at war with Iraq since President Bush declared "mission accomplished" several years ago. We met our military and political objectives. The tyrant Saddam was defeated and executed, the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction were found to be nonexistent, the minority Sunnis are now out of power and the majority Shia in power and we established a new "democratic" Iraqi government that even consists of 25% women representatives (far better than our own government).

Yet we still talk about the war in Iraq? Who are we at war with and with whom do we negotiate an end to the war? Sounds more like a civil war doesn't it? No, the war ended years ago. If we want to be honest with ourselves, we need to start talking about the occupation of Iraq not the war in Iraq. Iraq has a "democratic" government, it has an army and police force that we have been training for at least 3 years, and they have oil to generate national income. It appears that a majority of Iraqis want the USA out of Iraq. A majority of US citizens want us out of Iraq. Yet the USA is still there. How is this not an occupation? That is a serious question that deserves an answer.

The mess in Iraq almost makes the Vietnam War look like a military success. We have to stay in Iraq to prevent bloodshed that largely may be due to us remaining in Iraq. Any success or lack of success in Iraq is used as an excuse for the USA to remain in Iraq. John McCain seriously sees us remaining in Iraq for decades.

The "moral" obligation of the USA to remain in Iraq is rapidly diminishing. The Iraqi government has shown that they cannot or will not govern. Even the USA cannot afford to spend 10-12 billion dollars a month in Iraq forever. Remember, that ultimately, the most important thing in the USA is the dollar, not "moral obligation".

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wilkins Ice Sheet - Antarctica

A view of the Wilkins ice shelf taken in early March from
a Twin Otter aircraft. Image: Jim Elliott, British Antarctic Survey

Remember that scene in "Day After Tomorrow" where the ice sheet cracked? It's happening in Antarctica faster than predicted. A 160 sq mi piece of the Wilkins Ice Sheet broke off last month.

Immunologist's Dirty Little Secret

Table from here at New Scientist.

The "dirty little secret" of immunologists was spilled by immunologist Charlie Janeway back in 1989. He let it be known to the world that most vaccines would not be effective unless a little secret ingredient was added. The secret ingredient is alum (aluminum hydroxide or sodium aluminum sulfate). And this is the only adjuvant approved for human use.

Now it appears we are one step closer to understanding how alum does its job. Alum appears to cause cells at the injection site to produce uric acid. The uric acid, in turn, stimulates the production of several factors that activates antigen-presenting dendritic cells.

The key to a powerful adjuvant is that it must be capable of immitating a
pathogen-associated molecular pattern. Our immune systems have evolved to recogize these PAMPs by having pattern recognition receptors (PRR) on some types of phagocytic cells. Other PRR's, called Toll-like receptors, are found on the surface of macrophages and dendritic cells - cells that are important in kick-starting the immune response.

Effective vaccines against many pathogens will not be developed until a more potent adjuvant that can be safely used in humans is found.

Recent Iraq Occupation Violence

Is the surge in Iraq working? Hell yes! How do we know...well...because violence is up. And, the recent violence in Southern Iraq is a "by-product of the success of the surge." Are there actually Americans that are dumb enough to swallow that so-called logic? Unfortunately, there are.

Monday, March 24, 2008

4000 Dead - Who is Sacrificing?

4000 dead American soldiers who died in a war of our choosing, our disasterous policies. They died in a war that we chose to manage poorly for at least 3 years. They died in a war that cannot be ended without possible tragic consequences. They died in a war in which more American soldiers will die to honor those that have already died. They died in a war in which the only Americans sacrificing are those fighting the war and their families.

Which is the Real Bunny?

Spring - at My House

No lack of snow and ice here. We can count on seeing snow until the end of April up here on "the hill".