30 May 2009

Close Enough For Government Work


I suspect this picture will be used to trumpet the advantages of government provided health care. I borrowed it from one of the best responders to the usual guff from the AGW crowd. Check them out.

29 May 2009

Some Compelling Life Stories Are More Equal Than Others



Señora Sotomayor as contrasted with Señor Estrada por ejemplo.

Maybe We Shouldn't Wash Our Hands

The Los Angeles Times (5/29, Kaplan) reports, "A healthy human epidermis is colonized by roughly 1,000 species of bacteria," according to a National Human Genome Research Institute study. And, whether they "thrive in the desert of the forearm," or "in the tropical rain forest of the armpit," the "microorganisms have evolved to exploit the unique attributes of those body parts they call home." Their presence, say researchers, "is not only harmless, but also probably essential to the proper functioning of the body." There is even "one striking example of that fact: Mice bred to be entirely germ-free have smaller hearts and are unable to digest food properly."
Indeed, "people's bodies are ecosystems, believed home to trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that naturally coexist in the skin, the digestive tract and other spots," the AP (5/29, Neergaard) explains. "But scientists don't have a good grasp of which microbes live where, much less which are helpful, even indispensable, in maintaining health." The current study authors, however, "aim to change that through their 'Human Microbiome Project.'" Scientists will work to "learn what microbes" healthy participants harbor, so they "can compare the healthy with diseases of microbes gone awry -- from acute infections to mysterious conditions like psoriasis or irritable bowel syndrome." The new work regarding the skin "is part of that project."

Julia A. Segre, PhD, Elizabeth A. Grice, PhD, and colleagues began their study by collecting "bacteria from 20 sites on the bodies of 10 healthy volunteers," according to WebMD (5/28, DeNoon). "These sites ranged from the webs of the toes to the navel to the fold between the eyes." The group "found that different body sites have different mixtures of bacteria, and that different people tend to have the same kinds of bacteria in the same body sites." This "offers a clue to disease, because different skin diseases tend to appear in specific places on the body." While we "tend to think of bacteria as germs that cause disease...the new findings suggest that a healthy crop of normal bacteria prevents disease." For instance, "1.5 percent of Americans have MRSA in their nose -- but they don't show any signs of infection." Segre speculated that "other bacteria are keeping the MRSA in check and not letting it grow and create an infection," or perhaps "the MRSA is changing between when it's up in someone's nose and when it causes an infection."

In short, the researchers found "19 separate phyla and 205 different genera...on the 20 sites sampled," HealthDay (5/28, Edelson) reported. And, this diversity "was much greater than expected." Still, "all our knowledge had been based on what we could culture in the laboratory," Segre pointed out. "Culturing puts a bias on what you can study." Now, a "revolution in sequencing technology enables us to obtain information of a complexity that is astronomical compared to what was possible just a few years ago," Segre said.

If you are feeling serious about infections then you should go here.

28 May 2009

Where Did All The Sunspots Go?

Should we be worrying about this? By the way, sunspots in this blog refer to spots on the sun, not spots on your skin, although, now that I think about it, there may be some connection. Check out my favorite climatologist among other ists, Watt's Up With That.

26 May 2009

An Example of the Brains I Pick

Have a look at this blog, the Creative Minority Report, especially for this review of what looks like an interesting new TV show, The Goodes. I haven't seen a sample yet but I will look for it.

25 May 2009

The Stones Stand at Attention—Others at Ease

Part of Mountview Cemetery, Billings, Montana, USA on Memorial Day 2009

22 May 2009

Day Trips from Billings I


I think it might be a little safer and probably quicker to use the highways rather than the rivers. Some suggestions for July when a couple of our grandson's arrive for their Montana adventure.


This place is only about 90 minutes east of Billings. Something nicely done for a change by our federal government. I mean the battlefield memorial now being run by the National Parks, not the foolhardy Custer and his brave followers.

Another great place not far from Billings. Kind of a mini-Grand Canyon according to this picture.

Of course, we will keep Yellowstone National Park and Virginia City in reserve and maybe a little fishing too. Then there is Cody and Red Lodge. I wonder if a month or two is long enough.

19 May 2009

The Bible in Less than a Minute



Found on Ironic Catholic who attributed this to Crazy Christian Clips

18 May 2009

Shrink-Wrapped Sanity



"Remember, when it comes to Health Care:

Universal, High Quality, Affordable: Choose two of the three.

Anyone who tells you we can have all three is either a liar or a fool."




I've been looking at a few blogs lately. Would you believe that some of the most helpful come from our friends of the psychiatric persuasion? The above quote is borrowed from ShrinkWrapped. Recommended, not just because I like word play.

The caduceus is on the left, and the rod of Asclepius on the right. Wiki has some interesting notes on these.

17 May 2009

Is There Such A Thing As Gender Among Pots?


From the back garden of one of our off-spring.

16 May 2009

Sorry I Can't Resist Word Play: Bad Buoy

There are a surprising number of ordinary people who are paying attention to the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) crowd.

I forget, are we allowed to use that tired metaphor if we are beyond a certain age? Bad buoy indeed. Here is the blog I found this useful bit of information on, appropriately enough called Cheat-Seeking Missiles.

I attended a memorial service for a beautiful kind gentlewoman this afternoon. A Bach prelude for organ was very nice. How could his contemporaries not have recognized his genius? There were some nice eulogies offered especially by daughters who sounded and looked like our friend Lucia G. The pastor borrowed a phrase from a friend: "What do we do when the night comes at noon?"

Why should we put down alliterations? They are like thirds and sixths in our music.

15 May 2009

First Crop in Ramada Natural Park


This is one of those unusual years where the grass is growing taller than usual. Just like those years in the 19th century that persuaded our ancestors to settle in this area probably.

I was reminded of "helping" my grandfather gather in the hay on his farm in Wisconsin back in the 1940s. I rode the mower and lifted the blade as we went around corners. Not all the critters could get out of the way quickly enough. Because he knew this saddened me he sometimes would humor me by allowing me to move some birds' nests so they wouldn't be harmed by the mowing.

One time I asked him why he fed some draft horses that he only used once or twice a year during a winter storm to get the milk to where it needed to go. He realized that his gruff way had been pierced, saying simply that the horses had worked hard for him in the past and deserved to be cared for in their dotage.

11 May 2009

Melons from Mexico

Not actually certain where these melons come from. They are the seedless kind and surprisingly juicy and good tasting. Where else? CostCo, of course.

10 May 2009

Indoor Football in Billings


This was not the final score, as I think Alaska scored another touchdown. This was my first Outlaw game. They play at what used to be called Metra Park. Four fifteen minute quarters with the clock just running except for penalties. There were lots of those. Many of them were for obscure procedural calls that the usual awful PA system obscured even further. Oh yes, I almost forgot the moronic announcer.

The Outlaws looked like they had played this game before, both offense and defense. Alaska needed a little work on most aspects of the game.

It was fun, combining some elements of ordinary football, some hockey with numerous checks into the sidewalls, and some pro wrestling with dopey posturing at either end for whatever reason. These guys are mainly very fast as you might expect from an eight vs. eight man game with two backs in motion on offensive plays. When I say in motion, I mean they start before the ball is snapped, which might account for the blurriness of the two guys in white on the right. They can catch passes or block or whatever.

The fans, all four thousand of them, were a little more aggressive than the average crowd at what used to be called Cobb Field here in Billings.

02 May 2009

From Eric Arthur Blair's "1984"

Perhaps better known as George Orwell: this quote is from his popular novel 1984.

"The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this."

The Wiki article on Orwell is good reading. I knew that he had died fairly young in 1950 but I didn't know that the cause of death was tuberculosis.

I couldn't resist adding these quotes, mainly for my own edification:

Rules for writers

"In "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell provides six rules for writers:[44]

  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive voice where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous."

  • —from Wikipedia on George Orwell

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue

TAKE TIME FOR PARADISE

TAKE TIME FOR PARADISE
Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here