Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hear, hear!

Don't waste tax payer dollars to kill Iran democracy movement!
Obama can help this budding seed of hope for civil liberties even more emphatically by altogether cutting the budget "to promote democracy in Iran," evidently channeled through the U.S. Agency for International Development. Ken Dilanian of USA Today reports, "the Obama administration is moving forward with plans to fund groups that support Iranian dissidents."

This financial aid is not only a waste of taxpayer money under these severe economic circumstances, but is in fact the surest way to kill that inborn and grassroots movement.

It mostly will be abused by expatriate and entirely discredited opposition groups ranging from the monarchist supporters of Reza Pahlavi to the members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, and it will in turn strengthen the hand of the regime to denounce the Green Movement as funded by Americans.
I am never surprised at how our government wastes our tax dollars.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

So my ASM General Meeting ...

... talks arrived in the mail today. If you attended the meeting and wanted to re-hear the oral presentations you could order them from Sound Images @ http://www.e-attend.com. I ordered them, and they arrived.

What a total cluster. Not only do I need to install a program to view the files, I need to open up ports in my firewall to give SI Mosaic access to the internet, and I need to install "Microsoft Silverlight". What the hell is up with that? Why these couldn't just be in a damn MP3/MP4/AVI/QT format is beyond me. Oh yah, probably because of "piracy". I'm sure most ASM microbiologists are going to throw these lectures up on PirateBay. Give me a freakin break. I need to jump through a million hoops just to listen to a couple of damn lectures, how pathetic is that?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Using Twitter to crush a revolution

According to Mark Shea, Iranian security forces are using Twitter to hunt down bloggers via location/timezone searches. He makes the following recommendation for those wishing to support those in Iran who wish to see democracy come to their country:
If you use Twitter, set your location to Tehran & your time zone to GMT +3.30. Iranian security forces are hunting for bloggers using location/timezone searches. The more people at this location, the more of a logjam it creates for forces trying to shut down Iranians' access to the internet. Cut & paste & pass it on.
Hopefully this will work/help.

h/t Mark Shea

Confocal Microscopy

My lab has a confocal microscope. Actually, we have a pretty damn good microscope. It's a Nikon Eclipse C1 Plus. We're in the process of ramping up experiments for the confocal. Our hope is that we'll be able to see microbial (both bacterial and fungal) interactions -- primarily physical associations for now -- in soil aggregates which may explain how soil aggregates form, and hopefully shed some light on how these organisms obtain nutrients (from both each other and from the nutrients in the soil).

Using a confocal microscope however is not like using your light microscope. There are a number of additional factors which must be taken into account when setting up your experiments.

A couple of issues to consider:
1. Does my sample autofluoresce? Plants are notoriously bad autofluorescers (I don't think that's even a word), especially in the 488 excitation range. You want to keep this in mind when using fluors such as Alexa-488, FITC, and GFP. Soil, and even animal tissues, also suffer from autofluorescence. Sometimes this can be helpful, but often times it can be problematic.

2. What are you going to do with your samples? Are they dead or alive? If they are alive, you may want to do your experiments on a spinning disk confocal microscope (if one is available) which are less damaging to live cells. Also, are you going to try to determine colocalization? If so, you really need to know what objective lens you are going to use for your imaging.

Why? Well, when fluors are excited, they emit light. When you are using more than one color fluor, these fluors are emitting light at different wavelengths. When they pass through the objective lens, if it is not corrected for those different wavelengths, some of the light will hit the confocal microscopes pinhole (iris) out of focus. This is known as chromatic aberration. So, for example, if you look at the image to the right, you see that when the blue wavelength comes into focus (when it comes to a point), if that is where your pinhole is, then your red and green light are out of focus. What this is means then is that when you're doing your Z-stack (3rd dimension), this will result in a "shift" of your image between your in focus light and your out of focus wavelengths. There are a couple of ways to correct for this shift if it occurs. You can compress your Z-stack (but you lose your 3rd dimension, and are stuck with only XY ... and the Z is part of the whole point of confocal microscopy in the first place), you can scan your fluors consecutively and then computationally merge the images (hard to do with live, moving cells, and is problematic for other purposes), or you can make sure you have the appropriate set of lenses.

Types of lenses:
1. Plan - these lenses are corrected to provide a flat field of view. Your objective lens should be plan lenses.

2. Achromats* - corrects chromatic aberrations for blue and red wavelengths. This means you can colocalize with blue and red fluors.

3. Fluorites* - Also corrects chromatic aberrations for blue and red wavelengths.

4. Apochromats* - corrects chromatic aberrations for blue, green, and red wavelengths. Newer apochromats can correct for up to 6 wavelengths, but they're extremely expensive.

So, if you're doing a colocalization experiment with a blue, green, and red fluor, you're obviously going to want to your scope to have an objective lens which is a plan apochromat. Not all of them need to be plan apochromats (seems overkill on the 20X if you're not collecting your data at 20X), but the one you collect your data with (be it 40X, 63X, or 100X depending upon your sample) should be.

*These lenses correct for chromatic aberration, and to some degree spherical aberration as well.

Microscopy Society of America
Nikon - Microscopy U
Olympus Microscopy Resource Center

Ying Li, Warren A. Dick, and Olli H. Tuovinen. 2003. Evaluation of fluorochromes for imaging bacteria in soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 35: 737-744 (PDF, 8 pages)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Holy Cannoli!

Saw this "10 Things NOT TO DO in New York City" interactive and had to take a peek. Being a New York native I was interested in seeing what things I should never have done when in the city.

I can agree with eight. The two I disagree on:

1. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dirty-water dogs. Hell, the dirtier the water, the better the dog!

2. Nothing wrong with shopping at Macy's either, especially during the Christmas season. Their windows are the best of the bunch, and the entire top floor becomes Santa's Workshop.

As a matter of fact, if you must travel to NYC, do it during the Christmas season. Yes, it'll be a friggin zoo, but there are a few reasons to do so (a handful of them below).

1. The stink is less. I guess the cold air keeps that wet garbage smell away from the nostrils.

2. The entire city is lit up like a Christmas tree. The shops all have their windows decorated, Macy's has their Santa's Workshop up and going too.

3. Nothing like visiting FAO Schwarz during the holidays!

4. Rockefeller Center, Tree and Ice Rink.

5. The stink is less.

Oh, and Rocco's rocks!

One leaves, another one arrives ...

... so sent my manuscript out for review today.

Shortly afterwards, a request for the review of a manuscript arrives. Unfortunately, they were not asking me to review my own paper. Heh.

All told, this manuscript took me about 10 weeks from start to finish. If not for the bureaucratic red-tape, it would have taken closer to 7. Not sure if that's a good turn-around time from sitting down to write to getting it to the editors desk. All I know is that my next one needs to go out much quicker than that. But first, time to answer the reviewer comments from my last manuscript, which returned to me almost 4 months after it was sent out. There is no reason a review should take almost twice as long as it takes me to write the whole thing!

Citizen Doctors

It's sad when a teenager has to diagnose her own disease.
In her Advanced Placement high school science class, she was looking under the microscope at slides of her own intestinal tissue -- slides her pathologist had said were completely normal -- and spotted an area of inflamed tissue called a granuloma, a clear indication that she had Crohn's disease.
However, the fact that she had the proper tools available, and training, to make the discovery, gives me hope that our country will remain a leader in the sciences.

Celebrity Drama ...

... I'm sure everyone saw this coming. But come on ...
Kate said that the pressures of fame were not a cause of their marital problems. “I believe that it’s a chapter that probably would have played out had the world been watching or not.”
Perhaps, but perhaps not. When your dirty laundry is aired in public, it is much harder to reconcile. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone does stupid things, some even do things that they clearly should not have done. Part of the benefit of living a private life is that you are eventually (hopefully) able to put such things behind you. When you seek fame and fortune, your past tends to follow you wherever you go. That cannot make it easy to move beyond things.

On another note ... who the hell is Perez Hilton, and why do we give a crap about him? Another example of the famous for being famous crowd. And what a hypocrite to boot. He slams Carrie Prejean for her stumble on his gay rights question at the Miss America Beauty Pageant, and then he calls Will.I.Am a faggot? For real. What a tool.

Opportunities Lost

AKA: Why we need to protect the environment.

ResearchBlogging.org... this past weekend I was invited out to dinner. While there I was engaged in a very interesting discussion with some other people about the environment and alternative fuel sources. One person suggested that we dam up all the local rivers and use them for hydroelectric power. I commented that this would disrupt local ecosystems, which in turn would have a detrimental effect on a number of species in those locales, possibly resulting in extinction of more than a few of them. Some of which we may not even know exist.

The reply? If they can't manage to get around the dams, to hell with them.

This report is support for my own position. Once we start damaging ecosystems, we run the risk of losing species. When we do so, we may actually be reducing our own ability to identify and develop extremely useful treatments for our own medical benefit. That is supported by the data reported on in this manuscript.

In addition, there is a massive largely, currently untapped, repository of bacterial species, currently unclassified ... most not even known to exist ... which may carry defenses which we could develop for antimicrobial therapies. Metagenomics will eventually be able to identify such antimicrobials, but if we wipe out those environments before we ever get to test them ... it is an opportunity lost.

Mangoni, M., Maisetta, G., Di Luca, M., Gaddi, L., Esin, S., Florio, W., Brancatisano, F., Barra, D., Campa, M., & Batoni, G. (2007). Comparative Analysis of the Bactericidal Activities of Amphibian Peptide Analogues against Multidrug-Resistant Nosocomial Bacterial Strains Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 52 (1), 85-91 DOI: 10.1128/AAC.00796-07

Okuyama-Nishida et al. Prevention of Death in Bacterium-Infected Mice by a Synthetic Antimicrobial Peptide, L5, through Activation of Host Immunity. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2009; 53 (6): 2510 DOI: 10.1128/AAC.00863-08

I agree with Bork ...

... no habeas corpus to the Guantanamo detainees.
On another front, the court has decided three cases against the Bush administration on Guantanamo, the most recent one giving habeas corpus rights to supposed enemy combatants. What do you make of that whole line of cases?

It strikes me as preposterous to begin to extend rights to enemy combatants that we never extended to captured Germans, Italians and Japanese in World War II. It's also dangerous once we begin to judicialize the conduct of a war. It can only make our forces less effective. But something has changed in the attitude. I think it was the invasion of Grenada, when a commanding officer refused to let the press come to the front lines, and a reporter said "in World War II we were allowed in the front lines," and the commander said "in World War II you were on our side."
I know that the way wars are waged has changed since WW II, but an enemy combatant is still an enemy combatant. Millions of people a year struggle and strive to earn the benefits of living in this country, one of them being habeas corpus. Why this is now extended to people who wish to destroy our country, is beyond me. It's not about "being fair", because there are ways to be fair without extending enemies and non-citizens habeas corpus.

Friday, June 19, 2009

So I was away ...

... doing some technical training for the past week. Now, I am back, and will resume blogging on Monday. Hopefully.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

When the irresistable force meets the immoveable object ...

ResearchBlogging.orgSo this conversation that has been going on over at The Intersection, and which I blogged on yesterday about this abhorrent Japanese game, got me thinking (imagine that). One of the commenters on the original thread, and which I reposted in the comment section of my own entry said:
The other issue with a game like this is that it appears that every rapist goes through an escalation process, mimicked in the game by the forced fondling prior to the rape. It seems to me fairly obvious that this game would serve as that escalation process. No “normal” man wants to rape. Therefore, anyone who buys this game already has rape fantasies that could escalate.
Which got me to thinking about the whole virtual child pornography issue because it seems that the two cover similar ground. I couldn't remember what the legal rulings were on it, so I googled and it turns out SCOTUS considered it protected "free speech". However, I came across an article (PDF, 6 pages) that discussed the issue and it seems that it is equally (if not more so) applicable in the issue we're discussing today.

The abstract for Neil Levy's paper reads as follows:
The United States Supreme Court has recently ruled that virtual child pornography is protected free speech, partly on the grounds that virtual pornography does not harm actual children. I review the evidence for the contention that virtual pornography might harm children, and find that it is, at best, inconclusive. Saying that virtual child pornography does not harm actual children is not to say that it is completely harmless, however. Child pornography, actual or virtual, necessarily eroticizes inequality; in a sexist society it therefore contributes to the subordination of women.
Bold emphasis mine. If you change the words "child pornography" with "rape" it reads: Rape, actual or virtual, necessarily eroticizes inequality; in a sexist society it therefore contributes to the subordination of women. Now, I'm not a lawyer, but could one reasonable argue then that protection of "free speech" in the cases of these software may come at the price of harming the equality of women? What would happen in such a case? Would free speech win out?

Onto some of the points made by the paper:
Though it is obvious that no child is harmed by the manufacture of virtual child pornography, supporters of the act typically maintain that it remains harmful to children, and ought to be prohibited for this reason. They advance several arguments, designed to show
that real children are harmed by virtual pornography:
(1) Child pornography causes child abuse;

(2) Virtual child pornography will be used to seduce actual children;

(3) Allowing virtual child pornography makes laws banning real child pornography unenforceable;

(4) Child pornography, actual or virtual, on the Internet allows isolated pedophiles and potential pedophiles to contact each other and reinforce each other’s desires. It thus increases the probability of offenses.
He then goes on to address each point. I think #4 is pertinent since these software games often include "inviting friends" to engage in the acts to win you further points in the game. To this effect Neil Levy states:
(4) I turn lastly to the argument that permitting child pornography on the Internet allows isolated pedophiles and potential pedophiles to contact one another, and thereby mutually reinforce each others’ pedophilic tendencies. This is a variant on the first argument, that child pornography causes child abuse, but it is worth treating separately, on the grounds that it gives the argument a new, Internet-focused, twist. Perhaps merely viewing pictures or films of (apparent) children engaged in sexual activity does not cause child abuse, but talking to other people who are engaged in, or who are considering, child abuse, can make this deviant activity seem quite normal. As Roger Darlington, chairman of the Internet Watch Foundation, notes,
On the net you gain access to a community that legitimises your views. If you are operating in the real world, then meeting other paedophiles will require some organisation and will be difficult, but online you’ll find hundreds of thousands of people who share your views worldwide.
This is but one aspect of a wider problem: the radicalization of people who meet and talk only to the likeminded, through the medium of the Internet. Carl Sunstein, whose book Republic.com is largely devoted to it and related problems, calls this the phenomenon of group polarization. Dicussion only with the likeminded encourages extremism and contempt for the opinions of others. Because the Internet enables and encourages such discussion, even for those with minority tastes who would otherwise be isolated from one another, it becomes a breeding ground for hate groups, political radicals – and pedophiles.
This of course leads to an interesting turn of the discussion in the paper:
If group polarization is a serious problem, it is a problem which arises largely out of speech; out of the discussions among the likeminded, and not significantly out of the viewing of images. If group polarization is a significant risk among those who have pedophilic desires, this gives us a reason to limit what they may say to each other, even to prevent them seeking one another out. This makes the problem more, not less, troubling, since it brings the right to freedom of speech into direct conflict with the right we all have to forestall clear and present dangers.
Which essentially is the point of this post. Which one would win? Would the burden be too much to prove that rape software presents a clear and present danger? Neil Levy essentially closes with the following:
Now, we have seen that the evidence that virtual child [pornography] harms actual children is weak. But we have good reason to believe that the eroticization of inequality harms women. Obtaining equal status for all women requires, inter alia, a new sexuality: a sexuality in which inequality is not a condition of sexual pleasure for men or women. It requires that sexual relations be conducted between equals. But since child pornography is necessarily an eroticization of inequality, allowing it undermines efforts to forge this new sexuality. Perhaps, then, it is because of harm to actual women, and not children, that virtual child pornography is objectionable.
One could reasonably, I presume, argue that virtual rape software likewise eroticizes inequality, and as such, actually harms women. Neil Levy does not discuss whether this harm is sufficient for banning virtual child pornography (or in this case, virtual rape software), but I think it warrants serious consideration.

Neil Levy (2002). Virtual child pornography: The eroticization of inequality Ethics and Information Technology, 4, 319-323

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another downside to the economic slump ...

... hospitals cutting back on nosocomial (hospital acquired) infection control.
But infection-control professionals say their ranks are being thinned and they are losing the resources they need to fight infections as part of cutbacks linked to the economic downturn.

In a survey released today, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control says that 41% of nearly 2,000 respondents reported cuts in their budgets, including money for technology, staff, education, products and equipment. Of those, nearly 40% had layoffs or reduced hours, and a third experienced hiring freezes. Nurses who staff many of the departments say they are being asked to take on extra duties that distract them from infection control.
I've always maintained that if you MUST stay in a hospital, stay for as short a period of time as you can. I think nowadays this is even more prudent advice to follow. Because honestly? The hospitals don't seem to care.
Another concern that surfaced in the survey: only one in five respondents said their hospitals are using data-mining programs –- electronic surveillance systems that identify clusters of infections in real time so hospital staffers can intervene quickly.
Hospitals are not about making sick people well, it's about making money. Of course they do that by making most sick people well, but don't think for a minute that you're more than just a number ... with a dollar sign appended to the front of that number ... to them. If you die, the insurance still pays out. Sure killing people isn't good for business, but a measure of people are expected to die in hospitals, so unless something really egregious* happens, your death via nosocomial infection won't matter much.

*I'd be willing to bet that it'd take dozens or more people dying from the same nosocomial outbreak to garner significant attention to cause the hospital to worry about its reputation, and subsequently it's ability to turn a hefty profit.

Has anyone asked Biden to spell ...

... potato yet? Biden suffers from verbal diarrhea again.

Currently ...

Listening To

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

If this is this where society is heading ... I want no part of it. To be further discouraged, Amazon only banned the game* AFTER people expressed outrage.
"We determined that we did not want to be selling this particular item," a spokeswoman said.
Baloney Amazon, you only pulled it once you realized this was going to cause a huge media backlash if you didn't.

The sad thing is that this game has been out since 2006, and we're only hearing about it now. There is an extremely seedy element to society, one that we're not often privy to. Women and children kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery? It happens more than we'd like to think. Abhorrent software such as the crud linked above? Obviously it exists, lurking just underneath the scum of the stagnant pool we call our society.

Isn't it time we had enough of such stuff, stood up, and demanded an end to it?

h/t: Sheril at the Intersection.

*I'm not even going to provide details here, go check out the link ... I don't want any traffic at my site for any idiots who are even considering this game.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Death by a thousand cuts ...

... and it's going to be long, very painful, and extremely unfair. All predicated on a lie too if it comes to pass.
Obama’s new openness to the idea stands in contrast to what he said six months ago as a presidential candidate, when he harshly criticized his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, for proposing that employer-provided benefits should be taxed.

Scolding McCain in their debate on Oct. 15, Obama said, “This is your plan, John. For the first time in history, you will be taxing people's health-care benefits.”
Once again, why don't we consider spending less instead of spending more and figuring out how we're going to pay for it? Isn't that what got us into this mess in the first place?

Another Wii update ...

So I broke out Samba de Amigo last night. The game is a hoot. I'd give it a 9 out of 10 (the lost point because the remote doesn't get your hand positions correct -- typically when they're pointed in the same direction -- in some of the poses). If you want a party game, this is the one. It's also a two player game, and if you don't like the Wiimote + nunchuck combination for play, you can play with two Wiimotes together (so you'll need 4 Wiimotes if you're playing a two player game).

Oh, I also went to see Land of the Lost yesterday. I thought it was a waste of $6.50 (matinee). I guess it was my own damn vault* though.

*If you've seen the movie, you'll get that.

Friday, June 05, 2009


The Grey's Anatomy Video Game for the Wii.

No, I did not buy it. I didn't even pick the case up. Indeed, I saw it and immediately said to myself: WTF? but that was about the extent of it. Well, that and blogging about it. If anyone actually buys this game ... they're a total homer.

On the other hand, I did totally buy Samba de Amigo along with the maraca attachment. I'm so going to get a kick out of watching my family play this game.

Yep, I'll get back to science blogging at some point.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What does it tell you ...

... when the average age of USA Senators is near the age of retirement? Is it that we really want wise individuals* in these positions, that the work really isn't all that demanding, that the jobs are so cushy that they don't want to let go of them when it comes time, or something else?

*Looking at some of the escapades of these guys -- past and present -- it makes you think hard about the idea of them being "wise".

Wii update

Since MXX asked ...

Now that I have gotten over the initial disappointment of the whole Adobe/Hulu/Nintendo/Opera fiasco (they all still suck by the way), I'll focus on some of the more cool features of the Wii.

I love making Mii's. They're simple, but funny, and you can post them on the internet (there's a channel for that, and I forget what it's called at the moment) and people can vote for them if they like them. They also hold contests, giving "Mii Artisans" a theme and allowing them to submit Mii's that they developed based on the theme. I think it's cool.

We've tried two of our games: AMF Bowling Pinbusters! which totally sucked and Acme Arsenal which was tough to handle but interesting. AMF Bowling was way worse than the Wii Sports bowling. You can't use your Mii's, the characters repeat the same lines and actions after every turn and it gets annoying real fast. The Wii Sports bowling is much more fun. Fortunately we got AMF Bowling for under $10 (technically free because it was a "buy 2 get 1 free" promotion and that was our 3rd game).

Hooking it up to the internet was good because if you like old arcade games, the Wii has a virtual console which will allow you to buy a lot of old arcade games. Most run for $5 to $10. I got Golden Axe for $8 and it plays just like I remember it. I also got PacMan for $5. They have the Donkey Kong series, the Mario series, and about 80 additional games. It'd probably be cheaper to see if Midway or Atari comes out with a "Greatest Hits" collection, but eh ... I wanted instant gratification. They even have some old Commodore 64 games available for purchase/download ... so I'm so waiting for M.U.L.E. now.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Do the Republicans need something to rally around?

If so, why are they looking past the deficit?
The White House estimates that the government will rack up an unprecedented $1.8 trillion budget deficit this year. That would be more than four times last year’s all-time high.

Adobe sucks ...

... and to an extent, so does Nintendo. So, as I mentioned earlier, one of the draws for me was that the Wii could go online, which would allow me to check out sites like Hulu and possibly Netflix. Well, I knew that Netflix was currently off the table, but now I find out that the Wii cannot check out Hulu either because the Wii Internet Channel (powered by Opera) only runs on Adobe Flash v.7 and Hulu runs off Adobe Flash v.9. That means that while I can go to the Hulu site, all I get is a "Update Your Flash" message.

That sucks.

So, Adobe you suck for not opening up the source code for v.9 to let Opera make the necessary changes to their browser, and Nintendo you suck for not pressuring Adobe further into speeding up the entire process. Oh, and Hulu sucks for not coming up with a solution (like YouTube has) to allow the maximum number of viewers possible. And lastly Opera sucks for not demanding that their customer, Nintendo, get with the times.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The United States of China

Soon, no company will be American owned. Today, the Hummer division of GM was sold to a Chinese company. Does Hummer still make military vehicles? If so, does that mean that China will be making American military hardware? If so, that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever ... but this is the situation we find ourselves in, for better or worse.

I'm thinking worse.

I am addicted ...

... so I bought a Wii. And now all I can think about is the games I can get for it. Heck, I'm excited about the potential of being able to blog from it. How sad is that? Other than "pretty sad" that is.

So I hooked it up last night, and decided that I need a new widescreen LCD television to complement the Wii. Then I played Wii Sport which is a fun game ... you'll certainly break a sweat. It's easy to see why some people get hurt (or damage expensive living room items) playing the Wii. Then on to Wii Play. The only benefit to this game is the controller that comes along with it, and if I had known the game was lame, I would have ponied up the money for the controller and saved the other $10 to buy a used game which will have a longer lifespan in my game playing repertoire. The shooting gallery is fun, as is billiards, but everything else is sort of lame.

Oh, and I have to get Golden Axe on the Wii Virtual Console. I loved that game growing up!

Monday, June 01, 2009


I like Red Wing Shoes. They're great, and durable. I've owned one pair of steel-toed Worx shows for about 7 years. They're getting up there now, and they're not as comfortable as they used to be, so I've been in the market for a new pair of shoes. However, after eight years of competitive Cross Country and Track and Field in high school and college, where I literally logged thousands of miles a year during that period, my feet and knees are shot. Not arthritic yet, but I would not be surprised if they eventually got there. So I prefer a shoe on which I can stand for long periods of time, but which leave my legs fresh. The Red Wings fit the bill, but they can be pricey. However, I have found that you get what you pay for.

Well, I stumbled upon a pair of Ecco's which were on sale, were stylish and which have turned out to be comfortable. They're pictured below.They're the Ecco Street Fusion Hydromax (#48804) and they're great. Got them on sale (just shy of a Benjamin), but they're living up to the praise people heap on this company. So perhaps I've found myself a new shoe.

Am I the only shoe snob out there (I also refuse to wear anything but Asics or New Balance when I actually do take to the track)?

h/t: Physioprof (over at Drugmonkey)

You too can go to Mars ...

I want to be an astronaut. I think it would cool. Slightly dangerous, but cool nonetheless. I doubt, given my "advanced age" (ok, I just feel old) I will ever get into space, which bums me out.

So, I'll do the next best thing ... I'll send my name to Mars. If you click on the link, you can too.

h/t: Science Cheerleader

I wonder why ...

... this is.
Obama has inspired a collective fawning. What started in the campaign (the chief victim was Hillary Clinton, not John McCain) has continued, as a study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism shows. It concludes: "President Barack Obama has enjoyed substantially more positive media coverage than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush during their first months in the White House."

The study examined 1,261 stories by The Post, The New York Times, ABC, CBS and NBC, NEWSWEEK magazine and the NewsHouron PBS. Favorable articles (42 percent) were double the unfavorable (20 percent), while the rest were "neutral" or "mixed." Obama's treatment contrasts sharply with coverage in the first two months of the Bush (22 percent of stories favorable) and Clinton (27 percent) presidencies.
Is it because the media has shifted further towards the Left (as compared to the days of Clinton -- and possibly in reaction to Bush)? Is it possible that people don't want to be critical and have the race card played against them? Or is it something else?