Saturday, May 03, 2008

While You Were Looking The Other Way...

...a brand new mystery has popped up:
A fast-spreading viral outbreak in China has killed 22 children, sickened nearly 3,600 others and caused panic among parents in an impoverished corner of Anhui Province, government health officials said Friday.

All of the fatalities, from lung problems and other complications, have been in children younger than 6, with a majority of them under 2.

The outbreak, caused by a particularly strong intestinal virus, enterovirus 71, or EV-71, has been spreading in the city of Fuyang, in east-central China, since early March. Provincial health officials, however, announced the outbreak only this week, raising questions about whether they had been trying to conceal it.
Two months. 22 dead. 3,500 others sickened.

Anhui province is the 9th most densely populated province in China, therefore the rapid spread of this disease is not surprising, from that aspect.

However, enterovirus 71 is, or rather is supposed to be, a fairly common & well-known virus, usually passed on within family units. The damage wreaked by e71 is usually confined to children in the form of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), and results in some neurological damage. Polio is an example of another enterovirus. It's usually passed on by touching infected feces and then a mucus membrane like an eye or mouth.

That's the scary part. It's possible, given the rapid spread, that the virus has somehow become an airborne pathogen, although the fact that this is happening in northern China, with its recent water cleanliness issues, there's a simple contaminated drinking water problem.

Well, maybe "simple" is a bad word to use in this instance...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Music Blogging

Toto - Africa

Not that Toto was that big a band, but this is probably the only song of theirs I can stand listening to today.

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) This is a story that gets funnier the more you think about it, the implications being so ludicrous as to transcend belief: to-wit, how was he going to carry all that money?

2) Is anybody keeping a tally? I'm not but my sense is this may be the worst tornado season in nearly a decade, and one of the worst ever recorded.

3) But you know, global warming doesn't exist.

4) Here's why we've ducked major hurricanes these past two years: dust storms.

5) Complexity fascinates me, simplicity irritates me. That's why I'm a liberal and a Democrat, I guess.

6) At the weekend, I wrote about the situation in Zimbabwe, that no run-off appeared to be needed, that Mugabe's opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, had captured over 50% of the vote. Turns out, the vote might have been counted on Diebold machines. Something fishy happened.

7) There's a sad truth to this story: sex scandals always hurt women more than men.

8) Unless you happen to be President, of course, or Governor of New York.

9) Hey! MORON! Maybe you should have thought of this before you decided to launch an invasion over oil!

10) It's fairly common wisdom that either Democratic candidate for President has to beat the other in a state in which he or she is favored to win in order to lock up the nomination. It looks like Clinton is on the verge of doing just that.

11) And now, your moment of Zen: Dropping babies off buildings!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Oh. My.

One can imagine all sorts of possible alternate explanations for this story:
Florida police are investigating the apparent suicide of a woman they believe to be the so-called D.C. Madam, who was found dead in the Florida mobile home of the madam's mother Thursday.

The madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, was recently convicted on federal charges stemming from operating a prostitution service in the Washington, D.C. area with a number of high-profile clients. She was scheduled to be sentenced July 24.

Palfrey told ABC News last year she would never return to prison, after serving time in the 1990s for other prostitution-related charges. "I sure as heck am not going to be going to federal prison for one day, let alone, you know, four to eight years."

Local police responding to a call late Thursday morning discovered the woman's body in a storage shed to the side of the home, according to a statement released by the Tarpon Springs, Fla. Police. Hand-written notes were found nearby which "describes the victim's intention to take her life," according to the statement.
Our good friends over at Agitprop have been all over this scandal involving Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, as well as other high profile Washingtonians, such as Randall L. Tobias, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and Harlan Ullman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who brought you the war you are currently tuned into.

Ironically, Tobias was Bush's first AIDS czar...

Now, notes are fine, but given that Palfrey was convicted and likely to be sentenced to jail just ahead of the Republican National Convention (not to mention the Democratic National Convention) in an election year, can you really rule out the potential for, well, a liquidation?

The rumours at the time of the Vitter revelations was that Palfrey's black book contained some pretty heavy hitting DC types, which sure sounds a bit higher on the food chain than a Presidential appointee, a Senator barely clinging to his job, and a conservative think-tanker.

The timing is more than suspicious, to say the least, although in fairness to Palfrey, her conviction was within the last fourteen days. It's possible that overwhelmed her.

Yea. A madam. Convicted of prostitution...she'd never experience that!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Medical Update

Many of you may recall that, back in December, I was diagnosed with MRSA, a skin version of staph. As I was being treated for that, the dermatologist biopsied a...thing...on my nose, that I'd had my entire adult life.

The biopsy came back malignant: basal cell carcinoma. Surgery was scheduled at the end of February, including any possible reconstructive surgery.

Surgery performed, and I was admitted to the hospital for the recon. As the plastic surgeon was working on my hole, he uncovered yet another nest of cells inside my nostril.

Those also biopsied as malignant. He stopped work right there and slapped a patch on.

The oncological surgeon took a week to get around to requesting the slides of this new growth. When she had them biopsied, they came back negative.

Cutting a bit ahead, I had the reconstructive surgery done on April 1 (ironic, as you'll see in a minute), and only am just now recovered from that this week. Two additional tests showed no more cancer.

Except...Monday, I went back to the original dermatologist, and found out that as a check, they biopsied my original sample, the one that was diagnosed as cancerous, figuring that would help determine if the second lesion was malginant.

Guess what they found? I might not ever have had cancer in the first place...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Normally, I Might Agree With Him, But...

From the AP:
Democrat Barack Obama dismissed his rivals' calls for national gas tax holiday as a political ploy that won't help struggling consumers. Hillary Rodham Clinton said his stance shows he's out of touch with the economic realities faced by ordinary citizens.

Clinton and certain Republican presidential nominee John McCain are calling for a holiday on collecting the federal gas tax "to get them through an election," Obama said at a campaign rally before more than 2,000 cheering backers a week before crucial primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. "The easiest thing in the world for a politician to do is tell you exactly what you want to hear."
I could go off in a direction that attacks Obama and point out how ludicrous it is for the "agent of change" who has voted for the Iraq invasion each and every time he's had the chance to vote on it,and "unifier" who has spent all campaign smearing arguably the most qualified candidate for President to talk about pandering, but that's not what I want to focus on.

No. Substance. Normally, I'm all for the gas tax, and indeed, have often thought it should be raised to cover infrastructure repairs and to encourage folks to buy smaller cars.

But here's a gas that impacts directly poorer Americans. Any increase that I've ever proposed has always included measures to try to get a rebate of the increase to those Americans who can afford it the least: the rural working class, who absolutely need their cars and can't afford an immediate purchase to trade up in mileage.

The idea behind progressive taxation is to shift the burden of taxes onto those who can best afford them. Taxes like the gaas tax are regressive: rich people don't drive anymore or less than poor people do.

And it's not like a sin tax, which while regressive, is avoidable with minimal expense to the person it impacts.

Too, Clinton attempts to balance the tax cut with a windfall profits tax, and you'll note the distinct silence from Congress as gas prices have skyrocketed and oil company profits have broken through the ceiling.

And this is the Democratic Congress we're talking about!

Obama is wrong here in that this is not pandering, but a recognition of reality: it's going to be hard enough to get farm workers to their jobs in the field, but this tax suspension will also help keep a lid on food prices, and how is that hurting America?

Once we've gotten past this summer, when sticker shock will have settled in and we can clear-eyed talk about what to do long term, then Senator Obama can introduce legislation to provide both environmental and economic relief to the American people.

In the meantime, he should let the lady speak.

Monday, April 28, 2008

You Know How Everyone's So Concerned About Hillary Keeping Bill In Line?

At least Bill hews to actuality and rationality.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama can't even keep his pastor's mouth shut long enough to sew up the nomination:
Attacks on him are really attacks on the black church, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. said in a speech to the National Press Club in Washington on Monday
Yup, you heard it. Rev. Jeremiah Wright is now the official spokesperson for every black church in America!

So the comparisons people have drawn to Louis Farrakhan appear to be a bit more valid and what once appeared to be crazy charges regarding Farrakhan's influence on the Obama campaign suddenly seem a little, even just slightly, less crazy.

Look, there's a lot of room for discussion regarding race, religion, and the differences between white churches and black churches.

The middle of the Presidential primary season is simply neither the place nor the time for it, and I say that knowing full well that my candidate, Hillary Clinton, can sit back and watch this slow-motion train wreck unfold: the more often Rev. Wright opens his mouth, the more voters will defect from the Obama camp:
Speaking Monday, Mr. Wright said that political opponents of Senator Obama were exploiting the fact that the style of prayer and preaching in black churches was different from European church traditions — “Different, but not deficient,” he said.
NOt so, Reverend Wright.

You see, when you say "Goddamn America", you're putting yourself squarely in the camp of people who would point to America as The Great Satan. And while there's some merit to those sentiments, particulary with regards to the oppression of Muslims in the Middle East, you know, it's those folks who have been targeting civilian Americans for decades now, with planes and car bombs and who knows what else is in the hopper?

In other words, Rev, you've aligned yourself with Osama Bin Laden, an image that is probably keeping Barack Obama awake at night, since he's already hamstrung by his inability to put away, once and for all, the smears of being an Islamist front candidate.

The money quote here, if course, is this:
As a result of this background and the unfamiliarity of many white people with black preaching, he said, some might find his sermons unsettling. He also noted that the widely circulated clips of his remarks were only short snippets lifted out of the context of much longer, closely reasoned arguments.
Perhaps, Reverend, if you admitted to pandering to your congregation, you might have some traction with this comment. Perhaps it is unfair for an entire country to judge your sermons based on small snippets and perhaps it's unfair to judge Obama by his association with you, altho he doesn't seem to think so.

The one thing I think we all, Clintonites as well as Obombers, can agree on is, while this might be an important discussion to have now, Reverend Wright, you're tearing apart the Democratic Party and you're tearing down the one candidate who could possibly continue this dialogue with white America.

So...go away.