Thursday, February 02, 2006

Damn Those Tasmanian Devils!

Need a break from political ranting, so it's share time.

Here are my favorite headlines from today's SciCentral, with banner exclaiming “Gateway to the Best Scientific Research News Sources.”

Potentially Harmful 'Undead Cells' Collect with Age
Study indicates that as you age, the number of useless cells grows exponentially.(Is that why I am so tired in the morning?)

Killer Whales Set Traps for Gullible Gulls
Killer whales set traps for their prey and share their hunting tricks with friends.
(Kind of like bar cruising, but with different prey...did they say gulls or girls?)

GM aid for pandemic flu vaccine
Scientists have used genetic modification in an early step towards creating a vaccine for bird flu.
(Alright, I'll drink to that.)

Island disease hits 50,000 people
A crippling mosquito-borne disease is spreading at an accelerating rate on the French island of Reunion.
(Stay away from France, but can that go into the King Kong sequel?)

And my favorite:
Bites spread fatal 'devil' cancer
Facial tumours that have killed thousands of Tasmanian devils could be spread by the animals biting each other.
(No biting, kids! What more can I say?)

But just when it seems hopeless and you are sure you’re going to die, there is hope:

Source Of Crucial Immune Cell In The Skin Discovered
Mount Sinai researchers have identified the precursors of cells in the skin that are part of the first line of defense against invading pathogens. Known as Langerhans cells, they form a tight network of cells covering the entire body. Many tumor vaccines rely on these cells to activate an immune response. According to the researchers, this discovery should contribute to ongoing efforts to engineer immune responses in vaccine design and tumor immunotherapy.
(Can I get those to go?)

Police apologize, drop charge against Sheehan

"WASHINGTON (AP) — Capitol Police dropped a charge of unlawful conduct against anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan Wednesday and offered apologies to her as well as a congressman's wife after they were ejected from President Bush's State of the Union address for wearing T-shirts with war messages.

Police removed Sheehan and Beverly Young, the wife of Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young, R-Fla., from the visitors gallery Tuesday night. Sheehan was taken away in handcuffs before Bush's arrival at the Capitol and charged with a misdemeanor, while Young was not arrested."

No applause from this peanut gallery. Ok, oK you're going to say that handcuffs are law enforcement protocol for arresting all dangerous middle-aged women, but the intent beyond protocol was to humiliate, intimidate and silence Cindy Sheehan and control the message of the evening. While the good Republican's wife with her probably equally sincere-but-government approved message of supporting the troops was not arrested, only evicted. Although neither should have been arrested, what is wrong with this picture of blind-eyed preferential justice? What has devolved in the area of free speech in this country that either woman could have been arrested or harassed for wearing her opinion?

My grandfather, a rancher and cotton farmer in Granbury, Texas, would have brought out his shotgun and defended his constitutional rights to the death. (Not necessarily a wise decision to jump to the first knee-jerk violent response right off the bat.)

But when, oh when, gentle reader, are Americans going to find their voices, their cajones, or the female version, ovajones.

When did lassez-faire become apathy? When did majority moral outrage turn to, "I quit, It's too hard to change the system?" If you give in and give up, then the controllers and handlers win.

Case in point: when my now-grown son was in middle school, he and his friends wore Doc Martins, a shoe which was then associated with pre-Goth Punk culture. He had a different way of dressing, with lots of black and a funny haircut as well, but he was a thinker and a good student.

When the principal of his school realized that some of the Doc Martins were equipped with metal inserts, he banned the shoes with metal, saying they could be used as a weapon. (I suppose he thought one of the boys might kick someone to death.) One day, he lined up my son and his friends in the hall (publicly) for shoe inspection. Although my son did not have the metal inserts, some of his friends did, and their shoes were confiscated. My son objected, asking the principal why he did not apply the same rule to the "kickers" (slang for cowboys) because some of them had metal tips on their cowboy boots. The principal shook his head, declining to apply the same standard, smiled and replied, "But there's a difference. Those boots are stylish." He lost the last small remnant of my son's respect that day.

Guess the Tshirt with the "Support Our Troops" message was more stylish and certainly less confrontational than the one lamenting the number of troops killed. Perhaps it is best not to bring up the loss of so many of our children. According to my Southern Belle Recovery Group, it's just not polite. Denial is so much more comfortable.

Won't even get started on how many innocent Iraqi's have died.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Poll Me, State of the Union

This picture is for Tinkerbell, who sent me a lovely package in the mail, chock full of surprises.

There's No Puzzle in This Picture

The other day while I was at work, in the middle of Illustrator heaven, making feverish conference preparations and putting together our Annual Report, I received an email from mr. k.

His co-workers, programmers deluxe Hong and Aaron decided on a last minute trip to China to visit Hong’s relatives and how cool is this, we were invited to go with them.

The downside: they are leaving in 2 weeks. Problem: I have made commitments for working at our annual conference on South Padre Island, same timeframe, and also made airline reservations to stay over in SPI a few days to visit my dear friend Aziza, who is a clear soul/Sufi teacher/Yoga teacher and friend. Other problem: mr. k did not have 2 weeks of vacation time left. (I get 5 weeks a year at my agency plus many other perks.)

He was basically passing the info to me and left me to make my own decision about whether I wanted to go with Hong and Aaron. Now lots of husbands think they need to have input into the wife’s decision-making process, but he is really a fan of supporting my autonomy, and is an egalitarian thinker, which I love.

More or less what he was saying was that he was not going to control or organize things I want to do. And that, to me, is even cooler than getting the original invitation. By the way, I asked Hong for a rain check. She said yes, and I would love to go next time. Some trips I sometimes prefer to take alone, such as visiting my sister, so we can spend quality time together, but this one I would like to share with him.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

In Memoriam: Coretta Scott King

glenda: January 2006
Farewell to Coretta Scott King, a woman of dignity and grace who helped lead this country to a better place and sacrificed enormously for the betterment of all. And may all who walk in her footsteps continue to fight racism, ignorance and poverty.

Monday, January 30, 2006


My other dog at her yoga lessons.

More Than One Child Left Behind

Quote from today's NYT:

Rice Admits U.S. Underestimated Hamas Strength

Published: January 30, 2006
LONDON, Jan. 29 — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Sunday that the United States had failed to understand the depth of hostility among Palestinians toward their longtime leaders. The hostility led to an election victory by the militant group Hamas that has reduced to tatters crucial assumptions underlying American policies and hopes in the Middle East.

"I've asked why nobody saw it coming," Ms. Rice said, speaking of her own staff. "It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse."

Geez, folks, there's been a lot of that going around. Get your shiite together. Think we like being El Unido Estupido? Seems like the CIA search engine is populated with low intelligence people from the "More Than One Child Left Behind" group. And instead of blaming it all on your staff, Ms. Rice, why not take some personal responsibility for looking at the Middle East another way, instead of through the introverted nearsighted lens of your own American cultural experience.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Little Richard Distancing Self

Breaking news: Little Richard has made a press statement distancing himself from any professional association with Condi, yet declining to answer questions about whether they have been inolved in a more intimate personal relationship...could it be a sinister harbinger of things to come? First there was Bradjelina, now could there be Little Richdaleeza.

Condi switch

We are chagrined to learn through reliable sources that the previous Condi picture was a fake. We withdraw any speculation that Condi has vampyric bloodlines or may be related to Anne Rice, with apologies to Anne. However, we understand that the shame of speculation on this blogsite has driven her to quit her job at the White House and become a Little Richard impersonator.

The Truth About Condi

This just in....The secret Condaleeza Rice wants no one to know is that she is allegedly the female vampire portrayed in the most recent Anne Rice book. This is proven by the fact that she has actual vampire fangs, as illustrated in this undoctored picture. That may explain why she doesn't smile for the press too often. Strangely, although both women have the same last name, there is almost no familial relationship between them.

Mice in the Attic

"As many as 4.5 million Americans suffer from AIzheimer disease (AD), which usually begins after age 60, and the risk of developing the disease goes up with age. About 5% of men and women aged 65-74 have AD, and nearly half of those aged 85 and older have the disease.

AD is characterized by the presence of protein plaques and tangles of fibers in brain tissue. The disease may in fact be caused by the abnormal processing of the so-called amyloid precursor protein and the accumulation of the protein [beta]-amyloid. Other brain abnormalities in people with AD include nerve cell death in specific areas that are vital to memory and other mental abilities, as well as lower levels of certain neurotransmitters.

Journal Title: Environmental Health Perspectives. Volume: 113. Issue: 1. Publication Year: 2005. Page Number: 31.

My mother died from Alzhiemer's a year ago. Her father died from Alzheimer's when I was 17. Does this put me and my siblings at higher risk for contracting the disease? It is unclear at this time how much of the disease has associated genetic characteristics that may be passed on to later generations.

My mother spoke several languages fluently before succumbing to this illness. She was a smart child and graduated from college at 19 or 20, I believe. Intelligence obviously is unrelated to the factors that precipitate the onset of Alzheimer's.

And so we all read with interest the untangling of the fibers in the brain tissue and the untangling of the cure and prevention measures.