21 December 2009

Check This Lady Out

I guess most users of Wikipedia are aware of problems like this. I didn't realize it was so easy to alter the articles.

20 December 2009



Father Longenecker says some things a lot of us are worried about. But when we say them we sound so nasty. Maybe that is part of the nature of truth.

Posted using ShareThis

18 December 2009

No More Lumps Of Coal For You

Influenza Week 49

Things are definitely getting better. Only 9 pediatric deaths reported in the whole country. I guess it's about time for the usual flu season in adults.

12 December 2009

The Bottom Of The Sky

This is one of those stories about where you live and what others are doing that make you wonder if you've been paying close enough attention to what is going on around you. Roundup and Billings are the featured places and the characters could well be people we've all met. Roundup comes off more than a little rough not only around the edges but right in the center but that is the kind of story we've heard before and just never been sure. It has the sound of truth to it.

Mr Pack has obviously been paying close attention to his surroundings while growing up and probably well into adulthood. He apparently grew up in Roundup and at least some of the story seems to be autobiographical. The narrator is anxious to get out, first of all to Billings and then to Silicon Valley. Recent history is deftly woven into the story.

Most of the characters are wounded in one way or another and they manage to pass along their hurts to the next generation or those around them. I am worried that some of these characters might have played around with some of my savings in the 80s and 90s. If there is any truth to the story and I suspect there is, then I didn't realize the connection between big money and sex, which observation probably confirms that I haven't been paying close attention.



By Theodore Dalrymple

BY FAR the most significant thing about the case against Benjamin and Sharon Vogelenzang was that it reached a court of law in the first place. This evangelical Christian couple who run a hotel were accused of making derogatory remarks about the religion of one of their guests, Ericka Tazi, a Muslim convert, and thereby spreading religious hatred and contempt.

Mrs Tazi was found to have exaggerated the couple’s verbal abuse grossly but the fact that the case was thrown out of court should not blind us to the insidious and creeping reign of terror that the Government has introduced in Britain by facilitating this kind of prosecution.

While the criminal justice system actively promotes real crime by its refusal to repress it vigorously, it attempts to make criminals of Mr and Mrs Vogelenzang because they expressed forthright Christian beliefs.

For myself I do not much care to be buttonholed by religious enthusiasts but in a free country that is a situation with which citizens must be expected to cope on their own without resort to the courts.

Apart from this, however, there is the strong suspicion that if the boot had been on the other foot, if the Vogelenzangs had complained about remarks made by Mrs Tazi about their religion, no case would have come to court.

THE reason for the difference in approach is an officially-sponsored indifference or hostility to anything which might be considered part of the European and British cultural and religious heritage, combined with a tender regard for any non- European and non-British cultural heritage.

This is now so marked a trait that it could almost be called racist. No British minister would go to Brick Lane in East London and say it was horribly Bangladeshi but a British minister had no compunction at all in complaining of an institution that it was “horribly white”.

British intellectuals, as George Orwell once remarked, have long harboured a hatred of their own country and its culture. This attitude has deeply infiltrated the political class and has therefore come to affect legislation. All cultures are equal except ours, which is the worst.

The first thing to notice about this attitude is that it is insincere. Those who adopt it are not genuine admirers of other cultures, for genuinely to admire other cultures it is necessary seriously to study them. To know another culture is not just a matter of slipping down once in a while to a restaurant that serves its cuisine: it is very hard work indeed and the more different that culture is from one’s own the harder the work it is.

So when members of our political class express their adherence to multiculturalism they are not expressing their love of other cultures, they are expressing hatred of their own and it is this which explains the discrepancy in the way a Christian who derides Islam can now expect to be treated by comparison with a Muslim who derides Christianity. The hatred of that section of the political class for their own country’s culture, traditions and past is insincere in another sense also.

By expressing that hatred they imagine themselves to be exhibiting their own moral superiority for all the world and especially the intelligentsia, to see. Their hatred is actually moral exhibitionism. We all know the kind of odious patriot who believes everything in his own country is best merely because it is his own and who therefore despises every thing about all other countries, from their language to their cooking to their way of dress.

Our political class is a mirror image of this kind of person but preens itself on being morally superior to him.

There is a yet more cynical reason for the political class’s hatred of their own culture: it is politically advantageous to them. The mass immigration that has been permitted into Britain in the last few years, with the concomitant ideological glorification of the multi cultural society, has had as its purpose the production of a permanent change in the nature of the British population, which can be relied upon to vote for ever for the kind of politicians who brought it about.

It is one thing to encourage immigration because your commerce is so strong that there is a labour shortage but quite another when neither of those conditions obtains. Our commerce was never strong and there never was a labour shortage. We imported people while there was still mass unemployment (admittedly disguised as sickness) merely to create a vote bank for those who brought this about.

NO ONE wants a blind or bigoted patriotism that manifests itself as xenophobia and ignorant rejection of all that is foreign. It is good to be open to others but self-hatred is neither attractive nor constructive. It is not only insincere but unjustified, as a walk through the National Portrait Gallery would prove to anyone with an open mind.

We are fortunate enough to be the inheritors of a tradition as great as (though not necessarily greater than) any that exists in the world. Why should we reject it? I write these words from India, where it is far easier to find genuine and knowledgeable admirers of British culture than it is among our own political class. This surely is the saddest possible commentary on our condition.

This is a short essay by a British society doctor who is traveling in India. It was published in the Daily Express. Theodore Dalrymple is one of his pseudonyms. This Wiki article lists a number of Dr Daniels' themes. One of the most important is:

The root cause of our contemporary cultural poverty is intellectual dishonesty. First, the intellectuals have destroyed the foundation of culture, and second, they refuse to acknowledge it by resorting to the caves of political correctness.

11 December 2009

Take Some Tylenol and Call Me in the Morning: Week 48

It looks like we can uncross our fingers. But get your immunizations anyway. It is true we were trying to frighten you earlier in the epidemic but that was because we were doing it for your own good, so it's OK.

I Thought Creationism Was Like Warming Denying

09 December 2009

Going Rogue II

The phrase "going rogue" was apparently used by McCain people who were in charge of vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin when she didn't follow directions, or went "off message." The Urban Dictionary says the phrase means "To cease to follow orders; to act on one's own, usually against expectation or instruction. To pursue one's own interests." Other dictionaries mention the term "rogue" having something to do with an elephant—seems appropriate for a Republican—separating itself from the herd and acting independently.

Following a long tradition where some person or group, having been called something in a derogatory way, Governor Palin then adopted that term and brandished it on the cover of her book. Apparently it had the expected effect of irritating her political opponents to the point that some of the more shit-headed of them came out with a crude knock-off sub-titled "Going Rouge."

Of course, when Palin's book is mentioned by her sworn enemies they usually say that obviously she couldn't have written it, but forget to compare it with the way she talks and to contrast it with the political memoirs of the other three jokers that ran on the national ticket with her. Had they done that they might have seen that there was a fairly close correlation between what she says and what she writes, and that there was often a surprising dis-connect betweeen the voice and the page in the memoirs of the other three.

08 December 2009

Going Rogue


2 December 2009

This was a fun book to read. Especially if, like me, you were alive and paying attention to the peculiar presidential political melee during the summer and fall of 2008. There were a lot of dogs that didn’t bark and thus the whole thing was more than a little puzzling. This book appears to be an effort at explaining some of those puzzles. It does not speak to the main puzzle however, which was the almost total absence of any journalistic efforts to tell us commoners who Barack Obama was, other than he was somewhat black and spoke like a white man most of the time.

The main-stream media masters that I have heard, and their lesser kin out in the boondocks, obviously did not read this book. They say she didn’t write the book; that one of her editors did. And yet, the book sounds very much like Governor Palin talks, whether you like that or not, and as far as I know, almost every writer except for a few politicians always give credit to their editors.

Governor Palin is a journalist in the sense of writing journals for much of her life. She draws on these for a summary of her earlier life: Normal kid growing up in normal places, and yet they were exciting places—at least in her memories and in her journals, and would probably be that way for the rest of us if we had been smart enough to write in them and keep them for later use—weren’t all of our childhoods exciting places and times? Then she got interested in local politics after a normal education and a normal early family life. Eventually she became the mayor of Wasilla Alaska. Then, a little later she ran for governor against the good old boys of Alaska, and she won.

Probably the high points of the book are her descriptions of her feelings when she discovers she will be the mother of an extra-chromosome baby boy (Down Syndrome) and then soon after, another bolt of lightning strikes when John McCain picks her for a short and tumultuous life as a vice-presidential candidate.

I thought at the time it was a brilliant choice because Joe Biden had already been chosen to be the Democratic choice for vice-president. What a splendid contrast: old Senator Jack S Phogbound from one of the corrupt one party states of the East versus the bright young reformer Sarah Palin from small town western America. While writing the last sentence it suddenly occurred to me that just as we have heard some institutions are “too big to fail,” maybe there are some states that are too small to avoid corruption, in that their cities and the lordly people that congregate in them tend to over balance the more ordinary rural folk, where much of the common sense of the country resides.

But even better, of course, was the fact that the vice-presidential candidate for the Republicans had more real experience at governing than the presidential candidate for the Democrats. This was delicious irony or so it seemed to me. Of course, with our main-stream media (MSM) in bed with Obama it was difficult to make that clear, though Palin did make an effort at the convention when she likened being mayor of Wasilla as something similar to a “community organizer, though with actual responsibility.” That might have been the best line of the campaign. No wonder our MSM types really had to scramble to put down this upstart nitwit from fly-over country. Well, you know what I mean.

The peculiarities and deficiencies of the campaign, which made some of us wonder who was actually playing the part of The Manchurian Candidate, are explored, at least from Palin’s point of view. We are all waiting for some explanation from the McCain point of view. Well, maybe not.

8 December 2009

I meant to get up early today but I forgot to set the alarm last night. So it wasn’t until about 8:30 am that I got over to Borders’ book store to check out the crowds coming to see Sarah Palin, perhaps give her some encouragement, and get their copy of her book signed.

The crowd seemed fairly normal and moved along steadily and cheerfully I thought, with a few signs, but mostly just bundled up against the bitter cold temperatures. If nothing else these temperatures may well have kept at least some of the riff-raff huddled in the nearby coffee-shops. At 8:30 am the crowd, about 3-4 abreast stretched back from the front of the Borders store to the entrance to the IHOP restaurant. It may have gone back even further than that before they started moving around 8 am when the store opened.


It looks like a lot of Billings people are going to make room on their mantles this Christmas for a copy of Governor Palin’s book, alongside the Bible and their guns of course. Or maybe they will put a small bookshelf alongside the gun rack in the back of the pickup.

More On Swine Flu (from the horse's mouth)

Check out USA Today.

Not as bad as we thought. Never mind. Just you wait until next year.

07 December 2009

Pediatric Influenza Week 47

Well, it looks like the number of pediatric deaths is rapidly declining and thus the apocalyptic warnings from our friends at the CDC were a little premature and overblown. There is always the adult season and next year of course. This does not mean that you shouldn't get immunized whether child or adult. Complete story at this site. You have to follow it for some number of weeks though.

06 December 2009

Aah, you forgot?

You missed Saint Nicholas' visit. Don't worry, be happy. There are always other opportunities to cash in. Christmas is coming. And then there is the Visit of the Three Kings in January. Seems to me I missed one or two, maybe they will come to me later.

05 December 2009

Don't Forget To Put Out Your Shoe

For the straight scoop on Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus too, go to this splendid site.

01 December 2009

30 November 2009

C'mon Man

This is almost unbelievable. Will there be an apology? Where is the public confessional? Have they no shame? Where is the tar and feathers when you need it?

"Monday, November 30, 2009
Climategate Just Got A Whole Lot Worse
Posted by: Jillian Bandes at 1:26 PM
Today, the University of East Anglia revealed that the mountains of data used to back up their and the CRU’s climate change predictions are indeed lost.

Third party requests to view the data had been repeatedly turned down, with the UEA giving various excuses for why it could not make it publicly available. But today, they revealed that the excuses were a farce. The data isn’t there. It hasn’t been there since the 1980’s.

The UEA, along with the CRU and the UN’s IPCC, are the main victims of Climategate. Their defense was, to a certain extent, dependent upon the release of this raw data in order for critics to take a look at it.

The UEA’s defense of their data loss leaves much to be desired:
No record has been deleted, altered, or otherwise dealt with in any fashion with the intent of preventing the disclosure of all, or any part, of the requested information.
Even if you accept their claim to have not deleted the information to prevent its disclosure, the fact still remains that the data has indeed been deleted. It’s the data on which climate change scientists, and all the major world governments, have based global warming theories.

Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC has insisted their science is still sound without the original data because the information does exist in an altered form -- a form which conveniently shows world temperatures to have increased steadily. He says that altered data is completely sound because of the “peer review” process used to assess the original stuff. Here's Pachauri in The Guardian:
The processes in the IPCC are so robust, so inclusive, that even if an author or two has a particular bias it is completely unlikely that bias will find its way into the IPCC report.
Like the UEA, Pachauri and the IPCC miss the point. Raw data is raw data. Claims made using the data is not legitimate if it is not available. Even supporters of the global warming movement believe that the original leaked emails make these organizations look terrible. Not having the data that could possibly exculpate them makes them look a whole lot worse."

Walking Down Broadway


DSCN2447 The Babcock Building 1907—if you look carefully at the picture to the right you can just make out the chipped away 07—is in the process of being extensively rehabilitated from its former glory to its glory to come. I'm not sure what will happen to the fights that used to be a weekly feature at the theatre.

Oddly enough, now that I look closely at the picture, it looks like someone is still living on the 2nd floor at least from what can be seen through the windows. Or maybe the plants have just taken over.


On the way to The Soup Place on Broadway, where else, for lunch I noticed a couple of decorative nutcrackers on the light poles so it must be sometime after Halloween and before Christmas.

Seeing these decorations sometime last Saturday was what reminded me to get some tickets for the annual Nutcracker Ballet at the Alberta Bair Theatre.

Both Carol and I found the performances last year—I think it was the Eugene OR company for one and I know the other was a muscular, almost brutal, performance by some trained Russians—a little wanting in a lot of ways but we thought we would give it another go this year.

We were very pleasantly surprised this year at the Sunday matinee by Ballet Idaho, a young regional company that puts on a great performance and adds a lot of kids, both dancers and singers from the Billings area. This combination led to a sell-out performance both Saturday and Sunday.

About the only problems were the staged snow fall on Sunday afternoon, sometimes turning into a mini-blizzard, and some disagreement amongst the trombones in the lower register, unusual I know, as the rest of the orchestra was as lush as it normally is. We are certainly lucky here in Billings as we have some really fat woodwind sounds.

28 November 2009

A Message To All Turkeys

I hope the president hasn't beaten us to the punch. Oh wait a minute, he already did. Damn, he is quick with the apologies.

Fun website. Highly recommended.

Pediatric Influenza Week 46

The data have been delayed, apparently due to all the influenza elves being off for Thanksgiving.

27 November 2009

Thanksgiving at Mount Olive

Altar at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Billings Montana, after the ladies of the Altar Guild do their thing and then clean up too.

23 November 2009

Say It Isn't So Algore

Oh wait a minute, I think you already have, many times now that I think about it, you lying swine. You're lucky there is no mechanism for recall of Nobel prizes. There are many sites to choose but this one seems to be fairly easily understood. It seems that Bernie Madoff is a low level piker when it comes to scams. No pleading foolishness here, the only conclusion is that you are a knave of the highest order.

This graph is meant to catch your eye. It is a head fake. The surrounding text at the site above is the real meat of this posting.

This is my favorite, found at the following site, along with many other very useful graphs.

[Oops, sorry, I forgot to get the website. I will look for it.]

20 November 2009

Pediatric Influenza Week 45

Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality

Twenty-one influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 45 (Arizona [2], Colorado [3], Georgia [2], Louisiana [2], Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, New York City, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon [2], Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin). Fifteen of these deaths were associated with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection, and six were associated with an influenza A virus for which the subtype is undetermined. The deaths reported during week 45 occurred between September 20 and November 14, 2009.

Since August 30, 2009, CDC has received 138 reports of influenza-associated pediatric deaths that occurred during the current influenza season (24 deaths in children less than 2 years old, 16 deaths in children 2-4 years old, 50 deaths in children 5-11 years old, and 48 deaths in children 12-17 years old). One hundred thirteen (82%) of the138 deaths were due to 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infections, and the remaining 25 were associated with influenza A virus for which the subtype is undetermined. A total of 171 deaths in children associated with 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus infection have been reported to CDC.

Among the 138 deaths in children, 74 children had specimens collected for bacterial culture from normally sterile sites and 23 (31.1%) of the 74 were positive; Staphylococcus aureus was identified in eight (34.8%) of the 23 children. One S. aureus isolate was sensitive to methicillin, six were methicillin resistant, and one did not have sensitivity testing performed. Fifteen (65.2%) of the 23 children with bacterial coinfections were five years of age or older, and six (26.1%) of the 23 children were 12 years of age or older.

This data is from the CDC website here.

It still looks to me as if there has been an increase in influenza deaths in children less than 18 years this year, but not an extreme one, and further, it looks as if things are getting better, i.e. fewer deaths this past week. By the way the data are always a week behind for those keeping track by the week. It still seems worthwhile to me to get your flu shots, both H1N1 and the usual seasonal flu shots, in a relaxed manner of course. Vaccinate the kids first. Did Yogi Berra say, "It ain't over 'til it's over?" Even if he didn't he should have.

18 November 2009

Talk About Bad Timing

I see in the Gazette that some government group of exalted experts has recently come out with suggestions on screening for breast cancer with mammograms. They said those of the female persuasion should not start getting mammograms at age 40, but rather wait until they were 50.

Naturally enough, it was fairly easy to find articulate ladies in their 40s who had had mammograms that found cancers in an early stage, and they readily agreed to having interviews, probably for free too.

So now, in addition to us old folks gradually getting more suspicious that our exalted politicians were out to ration us out of existence—how else could they save money on Medicare—now they are arousing the wrath of 40 somethings who would have not discovered their cancers until perhaps it was too late: And worse, it seems very clear that this is an example of another form of rationing that will be inevitable with government medicine. Instead of high mucky-mucks making their pronouncements and then us turning to our local physicians who would advise us whether we should listen to them or not, we will not have that option.

Of course, there is more to it than the simplified argument above but that is not how we conduct our so-called "health-care debates."

17 November 2009


Mid-November 2009: Aspens in front yard of 3033 Ramada, Billings Montana 59102

Another Job Created or Saved

Who knew that blonde, blue-eyed boys of the '40s and '50s, playing cops and robbers or chasing endless flyballs, glad for the warming sun, but heedless of its poisonous rays, would eventually, some 50 or 60 years later, seek out our friendly medical whittlers, to scrape off the excesses of our thin epidermis?

Who was it that said "They also serve who only stand and wait." Could it be Mark Twain ? No, too poetic. Ah, according to Google it was John Milton, in a sonnet on his blindness.

If we only hadn't spent so much time waiting in the sun.

The picture to the left is before my surgical/dermatological friend at the Billings Clinic, Dr Mike Wentzell, started expertly cutting away the big, flaky red lesion of the scalp in the center, or at least destroying the remaining fragments of a squamous carcinoma lurking on the periphery of the lesion. As you can see there are a number of similar though earlier lesions of reddish skin just waiting their chances to expand into something more than just a red spot. Watch this space for follow-up pictures.

All I Want For Christmas

This will go well with my collection of public figure bobble-headed dolls.

The John McCain doll has his head screwed on backward.

Joe Biden has a head which is all mouth.

Sarah Palin is dressed as a cheerleader.

Let's see, who else can I insult. Let me think.

14 November 2009

Week 44

Sorry, this graph is hard to read and harder to make sense of. The larger view available at the CDC site is worth looking at. I think it is safe to say that there has been an increased number of pediatric deaths compared to the last few years, starting in the spring of this year and then recently rebounding, even before the usual influenza season starts. This is a strong argument to have your children vaccinated, expecially for the H1N1 influenza. It might be easier to understand the above data in a less graphical organization. See below. I don't know what the percentage of illnesses and death that are unreported is. The CDC may have an idea but I can't seem to find that info.

10 November 2009

Calling Senator McCarthy!

Who will stand up and ask who is responsible for the Muslim massacre at Fort Hood? I mean those who accepted the killer into our military medical school, those who accepted him into his psychiatric residency program, and those who were responsible for keeping him on active duty. Were they all part of a conspiracy or just stupid? We need you now, Tail-Gunner Joe.

06 November 2009

Week 43

It's a little hard to tell from this graph but it does look like the number of pediatric deaths is declining. If you click on it the graph gets a little larger. This is from this useful website.

04 November 2009

Recent Newsweek Cover

Of course he is a joke, though he is smart enough to know what his role is.

I remember when Time, Newsweek and US News and World Report were magazines of enough integrity to be allowed to be quoted and referenced in various papers we wrote as students in the 50s. Now that my freshman English professor has passed away I can probably own up to using a Newsweek article as the unattributed main source for a longish term paper I wrote for that dear lady. Nowadays, it seems to me they are not taken seriously, rather like the mainstream TV networks.

I must confess that I haven't been paying much attention to the erstwhile Senator Claghorn, or was it Jack S. Phogbound, but now a useful contrasting Vice Presidential fool for President Obama. When I saw this cover I immediately wondered what he had been up to which triggered this defensive, backhand stroke from one of our mainstream weeklies. Maybe we shouldn't tell them how we use them in a 180 degree Pravda-like manner but I think they are sufficiently insensitive for it not to make much difference.

01 November 2009

Week 42

Some more data. Maybe things are looking better, unless these deaths are not being reported. That seems unlikely to me.

The Virginian: Scientists agree: "Death of newspapers good for the environment."

The Virginian: Scientists agree: "Death of newspapers good for the environment."

There may be a touch of irony here and there in this piece but it does seem interested in pursuing the truth.

Pear Pressure

This lady writes a sometimes very funny blog, reminding me of P G Wodehouse. See what you think. This is not quite creation from nothing but it comes close to it: nothing would have come from it without the imaginative mind setting everything else in motion. This one is very funny, one of her best.

26 October 2009

More on Influenza

Thanks to a surprisingly good TV show called The Doctors devoted entirely to the flu epidemic which I saw this afternoon, and some poking around on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site I think I understand a little better what all the hullaballoo is about. A few days ago I posted a few notes and a chart or two about this current influenza epidemic or pandemic I think they are calling it. The latter simply means it is widespread around the world.

All the previous stuff I copied or wrote seems still to be reasonable but there is some more information that I didn't pick up on right away.

(1) Apparently this H1N1 flu started last spring, when the incidence of usual seasonal flu normally goes down, and almost all of the isolates since then have been this relatively new virus, or really a mutated virus because a lot of older folks have met up with this virus in some form or other in their salad days; and
(2) There has been an increase in the morbidiity and mortality amongst pediatric cases. That means a lot of kids are getting sick and some are dying from this illness, at a time when the normal or seasonal flu does not usually strike. A couple of charts might be helpful. They are from the CDC, which website I recommend. Sorry for the small numbers.

The chart above show the up and down incidence of pneumonia and influenza mortality the the last few years, showing an increase in the winter time and a decrease in the summer time. Note the spike in the winter of 2008, really two years ago as most of the winter of 2009 takes place in the early weeks of the calendar year which is how the above chart is set up. There is a worrisome upward squiggle at the end of the chart corresponding to the off-season increase of deaths. And that is more easily seen in the chart below.

This chart shows the uncommon but still usual number of pediatric deaths reported in this country from 2005 to the present. the problem is that the H1N1 deaths are occuring where there haven't been any for a long time, and the numbers look like they may continue to rise because of the timing and the lack of experience with this organism in the younger population. That is why the folks are getting up on their soapboxes and yelling at the top of their voices: Get vaccinated soon.

23 October 2009

Sanity and Shrink-Wrapping

I usually don't completely trust psychiatric analyses, unless of course, they agree with my deepest biases. But I regularly and religiously read this young lady's take on the political shenanigans going on around us. For a long time we have grown accustomed to our hopeful politicians not telling us the whole truth, so much so that we often ignore what they say because we know that they know they are just running for election by running off at the mouth.

Something has changed in recent years and more and more people are becoming worried. Our Washington commissars and czars and führers and gauleiters and dear leaders are becoming not so comical as we had thought. It actually looks like they are saying what they mean and meaning what they say.

Terms like "malignant narcissism" and "sociopathic selfishness" are being used by our friends of the psychiatric persuasion: these are nasty phrases, not just pet names for silly people, among the worst and most catastrophic diagnoses of public figures you will hear from our psychiatric friends. They are not used lightly. Check out Dr Sanity and ShrinkWrapped. Maybe it's too late to batten down the hatches.

22 October 2009

Have Cartoonists Always Been This Funny?

I thought this sort of humor went out with Al Capp—Schmoo? I dunno, What's Schmoo with you?

21 October 2009

So This Is What Viral Marketing Is All About

The picture to the right is a very cool non-invasive method of detecting fever in large numbers of people as in an airport or other crowded places. This one was in Greece and operates by thermal imaging. I am willing to bet it is not cost-effective.

I've heard this term, "viral marketing" for several years now, always not quite sure what the user had in mind. But after hearing and seeing various media talk about influenza, both the usual or "seasonal" form if there is such a thing, and the "swine" form, for what seems like months now, and then an article in today's Gazette about hospital ERs, walk-in clinics and doctor's offices seeing much larger numbers of possible flu-like illnesses, it finally dawned on me that "viral" refers to the way organisms like influenza viruses spread throughout a population, or in this case, worry about and perhaps mis-information about influenza viruses spreads throughout a population.

This is similar to the press and TV bombarding us with half-truths about our politicians running for office for months, then going out and conducting flawed polls on our understanding of the politicians stances on various problems. This is baloney in both instances.

Here is a useful table from a Wikipedia article on the 2009 swine flu pandemic

20th century flu pandemics
PandemicYearInfluenza virus typePeople infected (approx)Deaths worldwide (est.)Case fatality rate
Spanish flu1918–19A/H1N1[11][12]33% (500 million)[13]20 to 100 million[14][15][16]>2.5%[17]
Asian flu1956–58A/H2N2[11]
2 million[16]<0.1%[17]
Hong Kong flu1968–69A/H3N2[11]
1 million[16]<0.1%[17]
Seasonal fluEvery yearmainly A/H3N2, A/H1N1, and B5–15% (340 million – 1 billion)[18]250,000–500,000 per year[6]<0.1%[19]
For the chart-challenged this says that except for the Spanish flu after WWI which had a higher mortality, the rate ever since has been less than 0.1%, that 1/4 to 1/2 million deaths occur every year except for a few years, '57 and '69 specifically.

20 October 2009

Why We Don't Get a Lot of Visitors for the Fall Colors

I guess a grayish-tan is a color too, isn't it? When we got home in the middle of October from Ashland OR this is what we found. Can we get some of that stimulus money from our Washington friends to get a large domed stadium for this part of the state of Montana?

16 October 2009

Notes on Influenza

"Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is by getting a seasonal flu vaccination each year. Each year in the United States on average, 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu; on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications, and; about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. This flu season could be worse. There is a new and very different flu virus spreading worldwide among people called 2009 H1N1 flu. This virus may cause more illness or more severe illness than usual. See 2009 H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and You for more information."—lifted from the CDC website with my italicized emphases.

By the way the numbers above are guesstimates but apparently reasonable.

More recent data:

"U.S. Influenza and Pneumonia-Associated Hospitalizations
and Deaths from August 30 – October 10, 2009
Posted October 16, 2009, 11:00 AM ET
Data reported to CDC by October 13, 2009, 12:00 AM ET
Cases Defined by
Influenza and Pneumonia Syndrome* 15,696 2,029
Influenza Laboratory-Tests** 4,958 292

*Reports can be based on syndromic, admission or discharge data, or a combination of data elements that could include laboratory-confirmed and influenza-like illness hospitalizations.

**Laboratory confirmation includes any positive influenza test (rapid influenza tests, RT-PCR, DFA, IFA, or culture), whether or not typing was done.

This table is based on data reported to CDC by U.S. states and territories from a new influenza and pneumonia hospitalizations and deaths web-based reporting system. This system will be used to monitor trends in activity for the 2009-10 influenza season. This is a cumulative count beginning August 30, 2009. The table shows aggregate reports of all influenza and pneumonia-associated hospitalizations and deaths (including 2009 H1N1 and seasonal flu) since August 30, 2009 received by CDC from U.S. states and territories. This table will be updated weekly each Friday at 11 a.m. For the 2009-2010 influenza season, states are reporting based on new case definitions for hospitalizations and deaths effective August 30, 2009.

CDC will continue to use its traditional surveillance systems to track the progress of the 2009-2010 influenza season. For more information about influenza surveillance, including reporting of influenza-associated hospitalizations and deaths, see Questions and Answers: Monitoring Influenza Activity, Including 2009 H1N1.

The number of 2009 H1N1 hospitalizations and deaths reported to CDC from April – August 2009 is available on the Past Situation Updates page.

For state level information, refer to state health departments.

International Human Cases of 2009 H1N1 Flu Infection
See: World Health OrganizationExternal Web Site Icon."

If these numbers are reasonable and fairly complete then it appears to me that the number of deaths is actually lower this season than for the last 10 or 15 years. What's all the fuss about?

12 October 2009

Oregon Shakespeare Festival III

We listened to a little music in Medford on Sunday, after church of course, then decided we needed some cheering up after Cervantes comic look at growing old, so we got some tickets for Music Man, inside at the Bowmer on Sunday night, not worrying about arising at 4 am the next morning to catch that damn 6 am flight from Medford to Seattle. Good as usual, everyone of them, including the kids. Strong dancing. Interesting pit band with only a few horns, i.e. one trombone, one trumpet, one reeds and then percussion and piano etc, but it worked.

The last time we saw this was in Chicago, maybe 40 or 50 years ago when Robert Preston played Professor Harold Hill. OSF doesn't do that many musicals but it obviously knows how.

11 October 2009

Medford Jazz Jubilee II & OSF Too

More of the same good music as yesterday. Groups with names like Wally's Warehouse Waifs, Club 7, Queen City Jazz Band, Cornet Chop Suey, High Sierra, see their picture to the right, Midiri Brothers, Blue Street Jazz Band, etc.

Most of these were fairly traditional Dixieland groups, though Club 7 and Midiri Brothers were younger and differently voiced, e.g. Club 7 featured a marvelous clarinet leading the group and a super good guitar player along with the usual rhythm instruments. No trumpet or trombone or sax. As you can see in the High Sierra group to the right I tend to favor the traditional front line of trumpet, trombone and clarinet and behind a tuba rather than a string bass, piano, percussion and banjo.

I liked the QCJB, an outfit from Denver that has been around for 50s with changing personnel obviously, mainly because the trombone player was the best of the lot. The ensemble trombone is different from the solo and neither need to worry about imitating the clarinet in its licks.

Good food at the 4 Daughters Irish Pub and a new place called Elements, a tapas bar, a little unusual for a no-nonsense slightly blue collar town like Medford. As time has gone along, it seems that both Ashland and Medford are getting an increasing number of retirees from Oregon and especially California. These well off people are good for the restaurants and the theatre scene too.

We saw a version of Cervantes masterpiece, Don Quixote, in bits and pieces that were usually funny, but sometimes effectively hid the deeper meaning of what Mr C was getting.

I suppose the playwright/adaptor Octavio Solis could argue that the staging was rambunctious and loud because he was speaking to a jaded and deaf audience, kind of like Flannery O'Connor maybe. Only the genius of the backstage boffins of OSF could bring this off and even then it was sometimes a close call.

Worse yet, it was outdoors in the cool of the evening in the Elizabethan theatre. Never again in October. Maybe in July or August. I must confess I heard the songs of Man of La Mancha going through my head. Armando Duran played a splendid Don Quixote. His horse was good too, especially the one who played the rear part.

10 October 2009

Medford Jazz Jubilee I & OSF Too

For the last twenty-one years the city of Medford has put together a musical gathering, usually emphasizing traditional jazz, during the 2nd weekend in October. We have only gone to two of these, last year and because that was so much fun, we decided to go again this year.

There were several good big bands, including a group of talented high school kids called the Oregon Coast Lab Band, some very traditional Dixieland groups, and other more modern groups including some younger guys and singers, and a zydeco group. All very entertaining. Another thing that was emphasized this year was the dancing. Wow, that was impressive. See the picture from the Mail Tribune above left.

After listening most of the afternoon to the music in Medford we went back to Ashland to see Clifford Odets' Paradise Lost. As usual everything about this was high quality. Us old folks probably enjoyed it especially because we heard our grandparents talk the way many of the stereotypes did in this 1930s Great Depression era. It was full of the common bromides of the day. Not sure if any of these apply now to the Great Recession we seem now to be in. The title comes, I suspect, from Milton epic poem of the same name, having to do with the Fall of man, perhaps captured in this Blake image of Satan observing the caresses of Adam and Eve.

09 October 2009

Oregon Shakespeare Festival II

We saw William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, but really about Everything last night in the Elizabethan outdoor theatre. Why we thought this was a good idea in October in the mountains of southern Oregon I'm not really at liberty to say. We will not do this again.

The play was the usual well-done OSF production with David Kelly, Robyn Rodriguez and Sarah Rutan turning in superb jobs. But really the thing that makes these OSF things so good is that all, I mean all the players are good, and all the stagecraft and all the costumes are just perfect. Tony DeBruno was brilliant in reminding us all that "he was, indeed, an ass."

I'm not sure what this street sign means here. Probably something to do with pairing of cities in different countries, i.e. some reason for the local city eminentos to visit Guanajuato and vice versa and act important. That is a facsimile of the first printing of this marvelous play on the right.

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


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
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