Saturday, October 31, 2009


Think how much scarier Halloween would have been if he was in charge!

Clocks vs. Time Zones

Tonight most of you will change your clocks, but I wont. Instead, we'll change time zones. Which doesn't mean much, except that all the football games will be an hour later. No big deal.
What gets strange is when you go out onto the reservation: the Navajo do change their clocks, while the Hopi don't. If you have a cell phone on, it's fun to watch it try to cope with the changes in numbers (I've seen it, and the poor device goes wonko [actual coverage may vary]), by changing zones. What a strange concept.
An old Hopi* once told me "the white man cuts a foot off the bottom of his blanket, and sews it on to the top, and thinks he's got a longer blanket".

*I later learned that this was an old story that all the old Hopi tell.

Obligatory Halloween "BOO"

Happy Halloween, I guess. It's one of those holidays that has become less fun as I get older. Originally a Pagan fest of the harvest meant to ward off the darkness of winter, it's now a celebration of silliness. As a child, it was fun to dress up and eat copious amounts of candy. For the twenty-somethings (and, increasingly older), it's a reason to dress up and get drunk (as are Mardi Gras, St. Pat's, Cinco De Mayo, etc.). At my age, I'd rather skip the whole thing.

Luckily, I can. I don't have to worry about children coming to my door, because I live in the "bad" part of downtown (this being very relative; what they call "bad" here is nothing compared to places I've lived in real urban cities). And, because this is a college town, the local bars will be overwhelmed with drunken college students. I have no urge to participate in "amateur night", thank you.

The Rev. Pat Robertson and other christian wackos are issuing warnings against 'sex with demons', and while I'm inclined to laugh at them, I remember my younger days. One Halloween when I was in my twenties, I ended up spending the night sexually engaged with what I thought was an attractive young woman. In the morning, she certainly showed demonic tendencies, and an ability to wreck an entire apartment in whirlwind fashion. Or maybe she was just full blown batshit crazy. I didn't get into the religious side of the episode.

If I really wanted to wear a scary costume, I'd put on a Cheney mask and a red hunting jacket. That would be about as scary as anything I could imagine.

(cartoon from Kiko's House)

Instead, I plan to spend a quiet evening watching the World Series. The Yankees are all the horror I need.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dr. Keim's New Flu Test

Little ol' Flagstaff is about to be a big player in flu testing. Dr. Paul Keim's lab has invented a new, fast test that determines the type of flu, and it's drug resistance:

Flagstaff researchers have developed a single test for all flus that could help health care workers diagnose patients faster and give them the most effective medicines.

This comes as state labs are overrun with requests for more complex swine flu tests, creating a significant lag time between patients with symptoms and confirmation of their illnesses. A half-dozen researchers with the Translational Genomics Research Institute office in Flagstaff headed by NAU biology professor Paul Keim have created a nasal-swab type of test that can tell whether a patient has swine flu (H1N1) or seasonal flu, and whether that flu is resistant to the main drug used to treat it, Tamiflu.

The swab still must be sent out to a lab for a reading, but the turnaround time is likely to be faster because the lab does not need specialized equipment.


"Because there's a big push on this now, to start doing rapid testing for swine flu ... we also want to get to that next step and give information to the clinician about whether or not there's resistance to the drugs they're giving those patients," said researcher David Engelthaler

This could be a huge boon to health care providers and patients, allowing a quick diagnosis and treatment plan by taking some of the guesswork out of the flu.
When I worked for the University, I had many interactions with Dr. Keim (involving Anthrax, mostly) and I have the highest respect for him as a brilliant biologist. If he says the test works, I'm inclined to believe him.

Spooky Boobies

They have their Halloween masks on.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Whirlled Series

The Baseball World Series begins. I have always hated the Yankees, so you know who I'm rooting for. Heck, I'd root for a team of republican congressmen over the Yankees (although reluctantly). So, go Phillies!
(BTW: Interesting trivia test: The last time the Yankees played the Phillies in the World Series was in 1950. It was the last World Series where what occured? Answer will appear in the comments tomorrow)

Snowing Outside

Damn, but summer ended way too soon. We're only forecast to get around an inch of snow, so it's not a big deal. And this isn't the earliest snow I've seen here. But I'm not enthused about sweaters, heavy coats, or wool sox.
Pass the Brandy, will ya?

Criminal Advice

The rethuglican gang of criminals defined: if you've been convicted of lying to congress, our congress critters want your advice:

House Republicans have a new foreign policy adviser with a controversial pedigree: Oliver North.

North, an aide on Ronald Reagan's National Security Council who is best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scheme to sell arms to Iran and divert the funds to Nicaraguan revolutionaries in the 1980s, was the special guest at a House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday. North was convicted on three counts related to the Iran-Contra scandal and his efforts to cover it up, but the convictions were later overturned.

North’s mission: Relay his insights into the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, where he recently visited.

So, for advice on Afghanistan, let's ask someone who illegally sold arms to Iran...

I'm speechless.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Football Bounces Strangely

(non-Football fans feel free to ignore this post)
Somewhere in the brain trust of rich white men (Roger Goodell) who run the NFL it was decided that it would be a good idea to play a game in London, England's Wembley Stadium. OK; that's not such a bad idea, in and of itself. But the game that was chosen to try to sell the Brit's on American Football? The New England Patriots versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; a truly awful matchup. Tampa Bay hasn't won a game yet this year, although in fairness they've actually looked worse than that. New England won their last game 59-0, but it wasn't really that close; the Pats took the second half off. So this game may be the most one sided battle since Godzilla vs. Bambi.
But my real question is which marketing genius consulted his history textbook and thought it would be a good sales pitch to send the "New England Patriots" to London? I know the British love satire, but I doubt this game will have the subtlety to qualify as "humor".
(and on that note, I'm off to my local pub to watch my beloved 'niners take on some texans. Kinda early for a beer, but I'll manage)