Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Bare Essentials

A friend of mine is moving out of town, and tomorrow the movers are coming to pack everything. The following day they'll come to load the truck and start their trek to her new home.

"So where will you sleep tomorrow night?" I asked her.

Oh, no problem she explained. The movers had told her that they would leave the essentials unpacked - the beds and... the television. Yes, a night without television could be overly traumatic.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Watch Out Trader Joe's

Yesterday, after a couple of weeks of one of Trader Joe's frequent and at this point inexplicable (to me) frozen mango shortages, I went to Whole Foods to fulfill my frozen-mango-for-smoothie craving. And lo and behold. Not only did Whole Foods have frozen mangoes, the ones that they had were much better (sweeter and better flavor) and about the same price as Trader Joe's.

As my friends and readers know, I'm a huge TJ's fan. But I've gotta warn them, Whole Foods is coming up from behind. If they don't watch out, WF may leave them in the dust...

Monday, June 11, 2007


I want to point out a piece of news I just read on the AP - you may have heard about this a long time ago, but I heard it only now that a judge (after two years) commuted the sentence:

A black teenager (Genarlow Wilson) from Georgia was sentenced to 10 years in prison without possibility of parole for having consensual oral sex in 2003 with a 15 year old girl when he was 17 years old...

Is this possible? It took two years of him being in prison to have it commuted? It was commuted to one year in prison...(!). How does this whole story relate to him being a black (as opposed to white) kid in Georgia? The U.S. can be stunningly primitive.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

So Good

The Onion is on a roll. I'd like to know the back story, but lacking that, the main point is that the weekly print edition is now available for free at most newstands, the online edition is rocking, and they've recently introduced podcasts, and now also short "news" videos - check it out.

My absolute favorite Onion line - at least for the moment - came out a few weeks ago in their The Onion for Women print edition. In a collection of news briefs it said: "Scientists announce they are 10 years away from developing an effective speculum warmer". It still brings tears (of laughter) to my eyes. But you may have to be a woman who's visited an Ob-Gyn at least a few times to fully appreciate it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Shun Them

A good commentary in Haaretz on the motion at the annual conference of the British University and College Union to boycott Israeli academic institutions. It's titled Boycotting Israel as Moral Masturbation by Bradley Burston, and here are a few of the first paragraphs:

Just for the sake of argument, let's suppose that you're a British academic. You believe strongly that the occupation must end, that the Palestinians should have an independent state, that Israel's military and diplomatic policies are wrongheaded to the point of immorality.

What to do? Simple. Find the one group within Israeli society which has consistently, vigorously and courageously campaigned against the occupation since its inception.

Then attack them.

Single them out for professional ruin. Do your best to get as many of their colleagues around the world to shun them. Yes, just as if you were in seventh grade and had decided to alleviate your own feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, panic and lack of requisite cool by cutting another victim from the middle school herd and lobbying your equally insecure colleagues to abuse the chosen victim.


What a Strange Story

I have a special interest in Tuberculosis because my father fell ill with it in the late 40's, was hospitalized for almost 4 years, left the hospital after he was told he had an exacerbation and would probably die if he left, and ultimately survived, married, and had me and my brother. The remaining relic is that I test strongly positive to exposure to TB, which actually means (so I'm told) that there is a colonization of TB bacteria in my lungs, however, as in at least 90% of infectees, it has never manifested itself as active illness.

I've been warned that in a situation where I'm immuno-compromised - such as when I'm very old, or ill for other reasons, I could become ill with that TB. Which has a quaint aspect to it, because I would become ill with a bacteria that has lain dormant in my body for at least 40 years, and that harkens back at least to the late 40's...

I'm saying this to also explain that whatever I would get, if that ever happened, would not be drug resistant TB, because those strains did not exist at that time. So I would actually be readily treatable - I think.

All this has been a long way of saying that I'm quite fascinated by the story of Andrew Speaker, the 31 year old guy who was diagnosed with highly drug resistant TB, and then proceeded to fly to Europe and back for his marriage and honeymoon, on the way, at least in theory, exposing his fellow passengers to a potentially lethal disease (lethal because it's drug resistant).

The story has several oddities for me. One is that, although Speaker was diagnosed with TB back in February, it was only recently that it was found that this is drug resistant TB. Slow moving medical establishment...

Second, that Speaker's father-in-law is a specialist in TB epidemiology at the CDC.

Third, that only 56 people in the U.S. Have been diagnosed with this form of drug resistant TB.

Fourth, that the father in law and the CDC adamantly claim that they have not done any experimentation on this specific strain of TB, and therefore that Speaker could not have gotten it through a contamination from his father in law's lab. Really?

Fifth, the strange mechanism by which various national health organizations tried to chase down Speaker as he made his way through Europe and back into the U.S.

And sixth - just my thought - what do you do if you're a 31 year old, apparently healthy guy, who's been diagnosed with drug resistant TB. Do you spend the rest of your life wearing a face mask? In a negatively pressurized