Things I am passionate about. Injustice, stupidity, intolerance, bigotry and small-mindedness. Oh and there might just be some humor to offset the whole thing.

Archive for October, 2007

The Science of Knots Unraveled

Posted by morganwrites on October 17, 2007

Now here’s a story from LiveScience that’s patently absurd. What a waste to time and money – and, yes, it’s our money they’re wasting!

Tangled telephone cords and electronic cables that come to resemble bird nests can frazzle even the most stoic person. Now researchers have unraveled the mystery behind how such knots form. Whoopie!

Two physicists used string-tumbling experiments and mathematical models to create a step-by-step recipe for knot formation and determined which factors cause the knottiest knots. Their research, published online last week (on 10-04-07) by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sheds light on an everyday phenomenon about which little was known beyond the madness it incites. Lord, give me strength.

“It’s a common annoyance in everyday life, that anything that’s like a string inevitably seems to get itself into a knot,” said the study’s senior author Douglas Smith of the University of California, San Diego.

He added, “Very little experimental work had been done to apply knot theory to the analysis and classification of real, physical knots.”

All tied up.

Smith and UCSD colleague Dorian Raymer ran a series of homespun experiments in which they dropped a string into a box and tumbled it for 10 seconds (one revolution per second). They repeated the string-dropping more that 3,000 times varying the length and stiffness of the string, box size and tumbling speed.

Digital photos and video of the tumbling strings revealed: Strings shorter than 1.5 feet didn’t form knots; the likelihood of knotting sharply increased as string length went from 1.5 feet to 5 feet; and beyond this length, knotting probability leveled off.

Observations could only go so far. “It is virtually impossible to distinguish different knots just by looking at them,” Raymer said.

Raymer developed a computer program to try to mimic their observations. From the model, they created a simplified ‘lifecycle’ of a knot from tidy beginning to titanic tangle. Once dropped, the string formed concentric coils. Next, the string’s free end weaved through the coils, with a 50 percent likelihood of crossing under or over the coil and following a path to the left or right.

Knot busters (who you gonna call)

The best knotting came from very flexible, long string contained in a large box. “A highly flexible string placed in a very large container will have a higher probability of becoming knotted that a stiff one that’s confined in a smaller container,” Smith told LiveScience. Couldn’t most of us have told them that without even running an experiment?

The researchers suggest that cramped quarters limit the tumbling motion that facilitates the string weaving through the coils. That would explain why knots were less likely to form in smaller compared with larger knots.

But in real life, (which obviously not practiced at UCSD) most people don’t tumble cords and wires on a daily basis. Smith explained that while this tumbling is not a requirement for knots to form, some motion is necessary. I can’t take much more of this inanity.

“Surprisingly little disturbance or motion is even needed,’ Smith said. “It’s quite easy for something to get knotted.” Even the act of picking up the phone and placing it back down could be enough jostling to trigger knot formation.

While there is no magical knot buster, Smith advised what all sailors, cowboys, electricians, sewers and knitters know: to avoid tangles, keep a cord or string tied in a coil so it can’t move.

And that’s what our institutes of higher education are teaching our kids. Is it any wonder why we’re in the shape we’re in?



Posted in certifiable, edumication, idiotic, insane | Leave a Comment »

Use of Heartburn Drugs Surges in Young Children

Posted by morganwrites on October 16, 2007

This article from AP should make you sit-up, or is that spit-up?

CHICAGO – The number of young children on prescription drugs for heartburn and other digestive problems jumped about 56 percent in recent years and researchers say obesity and overuse might be contributing to the surprising increase.

The surge was found in a Medco Health Solutions Inc. analysis released on Oct. 4, 2007 of U.S. prescription data for 2002-2006. It suggests that more than 2 million U.S. children 18 and under used drugs for digestive or gastrointestinal complaints last year.

“It’s a signal that something’s going on that we need to keep and eye on,” said Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco’s chief medical officer. “Whether it’s parents getting their children diagnosed more frequently, or obesity or other factors, it bears further study,” he said.

Researchers at Medco, a pharmacy benefits management company based in Franklin Lakes, N.J., analyzed prescription drug claims of more that 575,000 U.S. children.

They calculated that 557,259 infants and children up to age 4, or about 3 percent of youngsters in that age range, were taking these drugs last year. That’s about a 56 percent increase from 2002.

There was a 31 percent increase among children aged 5 to 11, climbing to an estimated 551,653 children, or 2 percent in that age group in 2006, the analysis found.

Almost 1 million children aged 12 to 18 had prescriptions for the drugs last year, but that was up only 6 percent over 2002.

Acid-reducing drugs called proton pump inhibitors are the most common medicines prescribed for GI problems, the analysis said. They are used for acid reflux associated with heartburn, and a related condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.

Some of these, including Prevacid, were approved for use in children during the study period, which likely also contributed to the prescription surge, said Dr. Benjamin Gold, an Emory University specialist in children’s digestive diseases. (Emory University is in Atlanta, GA. and is one of the most acclaimed institutions in America).

Heartburn is a common complication of being overweight and the surge happened during the nation’s rising obesity epidemic, said Dr. Renee Jenkins, president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She noted that more than 10 percent of U.S. preschoolers and 30 percent of older children are considered overweight.

Gold said there’s no hard data on how many children have acid reflux or GERD. But there’s some evidence that the numbers are rising, and obesity could be playing a role.

Heartburn and acid reflux are also extremely common in infants and young children. Many of them outgrow it and drug treatment often isn’t needed, so the increase raises concerns about whether these drugs are sometimes being used unnecessarily, said Jenkins, a Howard University pediatrics professor.

While some children do require treatment including prescription drugs, many get better with no treatment or lifestyle changes such as smaller, more frequent meals or cutting down on fatty foods, she said.

Still, parents increasingly are demanding that doctors prescribe medicine for reflux, in part because of direct-to-consumer marketing, Gold said. But also, symptoms including frequent spitting up, irritability and stomach aches are troublesome and many parents prefer a quick fix, he said.

Gold said reflux drugs are generally safe but there is some evidence linking long-term use with an increased risk of infections including pneumonia and bowel inflammation.

To avoid overuse, Jenkins said parents should be willing to try non-drug approaches for treating reflux and other digestive problems in young children.

Isn’t this just insane? Children under the age of 4 on prescription drugs due to acid reflux! What do you think is causing this malady? Rhetorical. I blame this whole issue on parents who are so caught up in their own crap, that they don’t take time to prepare good, wholesome meals and feed their children via the drive-thru nor do they teach their children a proper eating regime. Have you seen the commercial wherein a mother tells her family (2 kids one father) that they’re going to have a good old fashioned home cooked meal tonight – the father and children get this glassy eyed look in their eyes in anticipation of this rare occasion, and mom then whips out a bucket of KFC with mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuits. No greens, no fruit, no milk, no grains, no brains. In addition to this story, pediatricians have noticed a rise in irritable bowel syndrome in children under the ages of 18. It seems that parents are giving their children, as young as 1 years of age, enemas to help them with their elimination, and they’re repeating the process so often that the procedure has weakened the musculature of the intestines and thereby reducing the ability of the intestines to do the job that they were intended for and because of this lack of ability, by the intestines, they need to resort to – repeating the enema routine. How’s that for proper parenting!

Posted in children, insane, medicine, nutrition, obesity, stupid | 5 Comments »

Largest Study of U.S. Children Readies Launch

Posted by morganwrites on October 15, 2007

As always, italics are my comments unless otherwise noted. Read on.

HealthyDay News Report from Oct. 4, 2007

The largest study ever of the impact of environment and genes on the health of American children will be directed from 22 new centers across the United States, organizers said in a special news conference held Thursday.

The effort – a collaboration by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency – plans to follow 100,000 children from before birth to the age of 21.

“These new centers join seven vanguard centers established in 2005,” Dr. Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said during a morning teleconference Thursday. “We anticipate a total of 25 to 40 centers in 105 locations,” he said. “This will provide a sample of the diverse population of children in the United States.” Does this mean we’ll have, on average, 3,413 centers or will we divide 25-40 centers amongst the 105 locations which works out to .31 centers per location?

When under way, the study will concentrate on a wide range of conditions, including pregnancy-related problems, such as birth defects and premature birth, and other problems such as autism, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, mental heal and learning disorders, Alexander said.

The study isn’t just about child health, he added. More pork?

“There is mounting evidence that the health habits and exposures of early childhood, perhaps starting before birth, affect the health and well-being of adults as well as children,” Alexander said. Yup, more pork.

The National Children’s Study began in 2000. Funding for the seven vanguard centers and the 22 centers added today comes from $69 million approved by Congress for the project in 2007, according to Peter Scheidt, director of the National Children’s Study. This year, organizers are hoping to have another $110 million earmarked for the study. Scheidt stressed that if Congress fails to fund the study in any given year, the study will be shut down. So we might be wasting $179 million? Who’s paying for this, as if you didn’t know.

If funds are forthcoming, the recruitment of study participants from the vanguard sites will begin in 2008, Scheidt said, and the other sites in 2009.

“All study centers will attempt to recruit 250 women each year who are pregnant or likely to have a child,” Scheidt said. Aren’t most women, of child bearing age, likely to have children?

The first study results should start coming in within two to three years after the study gets going, Scheidt said. According to the organizers, results will continue to be released as participating children reach important developmental milestones.

Some of the 22 sites approved today include: Brown University, Providence, R.I.; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; Northwestern University, Chicago; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Hawaii at Manoa; University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio.

Let me know your take on this. Personally, I think it’s a waste of money. When did we stop being a nation of ‘by the people, for the people and of the people’? Rhetorical.

Posted in children, idiotic, stupid | Leave a Comment »

U.S. “Experts” Recommend Eating Fish While Pregnant

Posted by morganwrites on October 14, 2007

The quotes in the header and italics in the copy are mine. You’ll understand why after reading this article from Reuters.

WASHINGTON – Pregnant and breast-feeding women should eat at least 12 ounces of fish and other seafood a week because the benefits for infant brain delvelopment outweigh any worries about mercury contamination, a group of U.S. experts said on last Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007.

The recommendations contradict U.S. government warnings that these women should consume no more that 12 ounces of fish and other seafood weekly due to concerns that mercury – which can harm the nervouse system of fetuses – might exist in trace amounts in this food.

But the group of 14 obstetricians and nutritionists said the threat of mercury poisoning remains only theoretical, while the warnings have scared many pregnant women into not eating fish at all, robbing them and their babies of vital nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, known to help brain development. Haven’t these ‘experts’ heard of omega-3 supplements?

The recommendations were issued in partnership with the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, whose members include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agricultural Department, The March of Dimes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and others.

The nutrients in fish and seafood are important for brain and motor skill development in children and can help prevent postpartum depression in mothers, the experts said.


The coalition said it received $60,000 from a seafood industry trade group, but the experts defended the independence of their work. Horsecrap.

“There has been no case of fetal mercury toxicity due to fish consumption reported in the United States,” said one of the experts, Dr. Ashley Roman, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York University Medical Center. Isn’t that because our population has followed the U.S. government warnings regarding possible mercury poisoning in some/most fish?

The group urged that women who what to become pregnant, are pregnant or are breast-feeding should eat a minimum of 12 ounces per week of fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel and seafood like shrimp, lobster and clams.

That amounts to about two to three servings a week. It did not state a recommended upper limit for consumption.

“There are some fish that have been shown to be higher in mercury and in other important trace elements such as shark and swordfish,” Roman said. “Those might be sources of fish women still might want to stay away from. But the vast majority of fish out there present in the U.S. diet, those are generally very healthy fishes.” I didn’t make this up, this is exactly what she said.

“We’re not saying that women should eat 21 meals of fish a week. That’s not the message here,” added Cornell University nutritionist Thomas Brenna, another member of the group. Of course not, Thomas, you ditz. Your study said 12 oz. a week which would ‘amount to two to three servings per week’.

The experts cited a study published in February in the Lancet medical journal (Britain’s “Journal of Medicine’) finding that children whose mothers ate more fish and other seafood while pregnant were smarter and had better developmental skills that those whose mothers are less or none.

It looked at children of 8,000 British women to see how children fared if their mothers ate more that 12 ounces a week.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued advisories in 2001 and 2004 telling women who were pregnant, breast-feeding or trying to become pregnant, as well as young children, to eat ‘no more that 12 ounces weekly of some types of fish due to mercury concerns.’ So why in the hell are we having a report from these ‘experts’ that echoes what we’ve been told in 2001 and 2004? Isn’t this redundant?

Estimates on the dangers posed by mercury come from people exposed in chemical spills. What? No major studies have shown that mercury from food or vaccines has caused brain damage to mothers or children.

“While it’s recognized that fish is an important source of protein, especially for pregnant women, this new emphasis on eating more that 12 ounces of fish per week, without mention of the need to avoid mercury-contaminated fish, appears to throw the baby out with the bath water,” Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project advocacy group that believes mercury exposure has damaged children, said in a statement.

Yeah, and we can all guess to whom he’s speaking.


Posted in nutrition, pregnant, women | 3 Comments »

“Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, Life goes on, bra”

Posted by morganwrites on October 13, 2007

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) – Security guards refused to allow a woman into a federal courthouse until she removed a bra that triggered a metal detector.

Lori Plato said she and her husband, Owen Plato, were stunned when U.S. Marshals Service employees asked her to remove her bra after the under-wire supports set off the alarm.

“I asked if I could go into the bathroom because they didn’t have a privacy screen and no women security officers were available,” Plato said. “They said, ‘No.’ ”

I wasn’t carrying a shank in my bra. It it’s so dangerous, why did they give it back and let me put it on?”

Patrick McDonald, the U.S. Marshal in Boise, said appropriate security protocols were followed in the Sept. 20 matter, and guards suggested she simply remove the bra in her car outside, or find a restaurant bathroom.

“She’s inflating it,” McDonald said. ( Pun intended?) “All of a sudden she just took it off. It wasn’t anything we wanted to happen and it wasn’t anything we asked for her to do. She did it so fast.”

Plato, of Bonners Ferry, said she was parked on a busy street and wasn’t familiar with downtown Coeur d’Alene businesses. So her husband help up his coat to shield her from the rest of the people in the courthouse lobby whiles she removed her bra underneath her shirt.

Generally, McDonald said, undergarments aren’t considered a danger to security.

“I don’t think they’re considered a weapon, really, the last time I looked,” he said.

He declined to discuss other ways the federal courthouse guards could have screened Plato for weapons.

Plato wants the Marshals Service to apologize and stop forcing women to disrobe.

“It was very humiliating,” her husband, Owen, said. “They could have handled it with a more professional attitude.

No doubt this woman was well endowed and the security guards were, shall we say, acting lewd? Better watch out for those under-wires – they could be used to, er, give firmer support to a bra. And if McDonald didn’t think that bras were weapons, then why did Mr. McDonald request the removal?

Lyrics in header – The Beatles, White Album, Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, 1968


Posted in humor, pigs | Leave a Comment »

Just trying to get the bugs out?

Posted by morganwrites on October 12, 2007

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AFP) – As drug mules, bugs don’t carry much. And they didn’t get by customs in the Netherlands. A customs officer who took a close look at a consignment of more than 100 large, dead bugs sent from Peru to the Netherlands discovered cocaine had been stashed in their backs.

“We see a lot of things, but this was the first for us,” customs spokesman Kees Nanninga said.

“It looked like they were cut open, the drugs hidden in their backs and then they were glued back together again,” he said.

The insects held only about 10 ounces of cocaine, worth about $11,000, Nanninga said.

The discovery was made this summer in a routine checik at a postal sorting office, but was made public today. Nanninga said he did not know if anyone was prosecuted as a result of the find.


Posted in stupid | Leave a Comment »

Is there a doctor in the (jail) house?

Posted by morganwrites on October 11, 2007

This article makes me just about as pississippied as I’ve ever been.

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Three Philadelphia funeral directors led a scheme in which more than 1,ooo cadavers were dismembered in unsanitary conditions and the parts sold to doctors who implanted them in patients, a grand jury charged Thursday (10-2-07).

Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham released the grand jury’s report alleging the men made $3.8 million from the sale of body parts in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey between February 2004 and September 2005.

Accused are Louis Garzone, his brother Gerald Garzone and James McCafferty who ran a funeral and crematory business. The three permitted Michael Mastromarino, a disgraced former dentist, and a team of so-called cutters to remove body parts such as bones, skin and tendons in an unsanitary embalming room, the report found.

Thousands of people who needed, for example, to replace broken bones or repair torn tendons may have received parts from cadavers infected by HIV, hepatitis, sepsis and other diseases, the report said. It was not immediately clear if any of the recipients fell ill.

The scheme took tissue from 1,o77 bodies in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including 244 cadavers in Philadelphia funeral homes operated by the defendants.

The scheme, ‘took businesses normally associated with compassion and caring and perverted them into something ghoulish, greedy, dangerous and criminal.’ the report said.

In 2006, the Garzones closed their funeral homes and surrendered their licenses after the Pennsylvania Department of State said they may have permitted body parts to be removed from cadavers. The men did not admit wrongdoing.

At least five Philadelphia-area hospitals, and 41 across Pennsylvania, implanted tissue from Biomedical Tissue Services, the company run by Mastromarino, according to the report.

Bodies at the funeral homes often sat for days without refrigeration before the tissue was harvested. One corpse sat for 113 hours after death, violating a medical protocol that tissue must have be harvested within 15 hours of death to be safe for use in a living person, the report said.

The grand jury urged the strongest prosecution of the conspirators and recommended a series of measures including banning funeral homes from performing tissue recovery, making the theft of body parts a felony crime and requiring all tissue agencies to be licensed by the state.

This is so insane I don’t know where to start. Apparently there is no oversight in the State of Pennsylvania over funeral homes, tissue agencies and the doctors who operated using these suspect parts should be tossed. Has Pennsylvania contacted the hospitals that received these body parts to ascertain who may or may not have been given these infected tissues, bones, etc? I can’t go on, I think I’m getting a migraine.


Posted in HIV, idiotic, insane, pississippied, quacks | 4 Comments »

Ooooh that smell, can’t you smell that smell

Posted by morganwrites on October 9, 2007

Goodsprings, Ala. (AP) – Human waste from New York is creating a stink in rural north Alabama. A Texas company has opened a plant that treats sewer sludge from New York and turns it into fertilizer that is spread on Alabama farmland. It’s a great deal for farmers, who get the fertilizer for free, but some in northwest Limestone County say they can’t stomach the stench.

“When the wind is right, we can’t even breathe,” said Lori Muse of Goodsprings. “People out here are really upset about it. It smells 10 times worst than a pig barn.”

Bill Daws, a county commissioner, called the odor, “the worst smell that I’ve ever smelled.”

“But we checked everything out and it all appears to be legit,” he told The News Courier of Athens, which first reported the flap.

Synagro Technologies Inc. of Houston, Texas, has a contract to dispose of human wastes from New York. The company treats sludge from wastewater plants in New York and ships it to Alabama by rail car by the ton.

The sludge is treated again at a plant in Leighton before it is spread on fields for farmers who sign up for the program, said Rodney Jackson, who investigated the arrangement for the Limestone County Commission after complaints started coming in.

People don’t like the idea of New York poop being shipped to Alabama for disposal, he said, and they were worried about the possibility that the fertilizer contained e-coli bacteria.

“According to the EPA it is not a health hazard, it is just a nuisance because of the smell,” he said.

And what a smell it is, according to some. “I’ve described it as chicken litter and a little more,” said Jackson, an enforcement office with the county revenue department.

Synagro spokeswoman Lorrie Loder said as many as 40 farmers in the area have signed up to receive the shipments and another 15 are on a waiting list.

“It is a safe product and it does produce an odor like most good fertilizers do,” said Loder.

Farmer Gary Peek said the free fertilizer is saving him a lot of money and enriching pasture land.

“I want to be a good neighbor,” he said. “I’m not looking to harm anyone. I’m just trying to make a living.”

Let’s have Lorrie’s back yard filled with ‘good fertilizer’ and have her children go out and play for a while. Also, can we really trust the EPA to give us a straight answer? More on the EPA in days to come. Maybe Synagro could ship the waste to China disguised as toys with lead paint.

Lyrics in header from Lynard Skynard, Street Survivors, That Smell, 1977.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Let’s all go to the (sex) fair!

Posted by morganwrites on October 8, 2007

Johannesburg (Reuters) – South Africans queued to learn about sex toys and pole-dancing this weekend, at the first sex fair ever held in a country founded by conservative Christians and still home to many sexual taboos.

The exhibition, modeled on a show running in Australia since 1996, would have been unthinkable 15 years ago when South Africa was still ruled by Afrikaners, the white descendants of the original, largely Puritan Dutch and French settlers.

During the apartheid era, customs officials not only confiscated pornography brought from abroad by travelers, but sometimes detained those trying to import it. Strip clubs did not exist and handcuffs, though abundant, were not fur-lined.

The end of white minority rule in 1994 and the establishment of a new constitution – generally considered one of the most liberal in the world – unleashed a torrent of hard-core porn. Sex shops and strip clubs blossomed.

Although authorities tolerate the lifestyle, it remains one that few South Africans openly discuss or admit to supporting.

Meanwhile, South Africa has one of the world’s worst AIDS epidemics.

An estimated 12 percent of its 47 million people are infected with HIV, most of them black. Sex is the main channel of transmission in a culture where male dominance is rarely challenged and promiscuity often tolerated.

Each day about 1,000 people die from AIDS and another 1,500 contract the virus.

Amid the racy lingerie, pornographic DVDs and exotic sex toys, the Johannesburg “Sexpo SA” made room for a handful of health advocacy groups to set up stands, including the LoveLife Trust, the national HIV prevention program for young people.

Silas Howarth, the 28 year-old South African who organized the exhibition, said around 40,000 people paid 89 rand (US $13.00) admission to the fair. He said there were plans to hold similar events in coming months in Durban and Cape Town.

I have nothing to say that would make any difference to South Africa’s insanity.


Posted in AIDS, HIV, idiotic, stupid | Leave a Comment »

Inmate can’t build firepit…

Posted by morganwrites on October 7, 2007

Montgomery, Ala. – A federal appeals court has rejected an Alabama inmate’s bid to build a fire in a pit at a state prision as part of his religious worship. Tony Lee Smith, 38, wanted to build a fire at St. Clair Correctional Facility to practice an ancient polytheistic Nordic religion called Odinism, according to his lawsuit.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that prision officials did not violate Smith’s religious rights by refusing his request. The prison had feared a backlash because the religion is said to incorporate white supremacist beliefs.

Smith’s attorney, Henry “Hank” Sherrod III of Florence, Ala., said Smith had never been a white supremacist.

According to the suit, prison officials gave Smith a candle.

How much, exactly, did the first trial and the appeals trial cost the law abiding citizens of this country? How often do you think that trials like this are brought before our overcrowded legal system. When did this country loose it’s sense of reasoning. How about passing a law that punishes and fines the bringer of a suit that is just plain idiotic. How about passing laws that forbid attorneys to plead and judges to hear this type of drivel. We have to renew our drivers’ licenses every so often, let’s review our politicians, attorneys and judges every so often. Don’t you realize that, aw, never mind.

Thanks to the AP for this story.


Posted in certifiable, lairwyers, stupid | Leave a Comment »