31 March 2008

Bat Blood

From Jerry Hopkins' Strange Foods:

The Tri Ky Restaurant doesn't exist in Saigon any more, having been replaced by a high-rise office building not long after the city was renamed for the country's founder, Ho Chi Minh. A pity, too, because it had one of Southeast Asia's preeminent "strange food" menus, offering dog, bat, turtle, and a variety of wild game, as well as a selection of blood cocktails for the end of a difficult workday.


"I'll have one of these," I said, pointing to a line in the menu. "The, uh, cobra."

"Bat very good, sir," the waiter said, pointing at the menu.

"Bat blood?" I said. I tried to play it cool. "What sort of bat?" I asked, as if it really mattered and I would know what he was talking about, whatever he said.

"The fruit bat, sir. Also have bat stew. Very good."

I told the gentleman that I'd try it. With a can of 333, the local beer.

What happened next surprised me. After the cold beer was delivered, the bat was brought to my table still alive, its legs and wings gripped in the waiter's hand as he cut the creature's throat with a small, sharp knife. The blood fell into a small glass.

I raised the small glass and drank the warm liquid, tried to roll it around my tongue as if it were vintage wine, but then chased it rather quickly with a swallow of 333. The waiter smiled, still holding the limp bat in one hand, cupping the head with the other in a small bowl to prevent any blood from falling onto the floor.

"One more, sir?" he asked.

"Maybe after the meal." Still trying to be cool. As for the bat stew, think Dinty Moore with very stringy meat.

I Am a Davidson Fan

It's funny... for years I used to cheer for Kansas because they always had a great team, always made the tournament, always got a high seed, but never went all the way. Their fortunes could certainly change this year. Yes, UNC is the team to beat, but at the start of the tourney I thought Kansas might be the one team that could knock them off. They still might, although UCLA has looked very strong as well.

But let's face it: this year's story is Davidson. I thought it was impressive enough that they booted Gonzaga, but to follow that up with a win over Georgetown (a great team) and a beatdown to Wisconsin (also great) was spectacular. And they were contending with Kansas from the first second right up until the last. It was a great show. Heartbreaking, but great.

Did you hear that Davidson's trustees paid for 500 students (that's about a third of the student body) to make the trip to Detroit? Pretty cool.

I liked one student's sign: "Davidson: Google it!"

I've actually been to Davidson. I had a couple friends that went there. In those days, classes met every day, not MWF and T-Th. It was named the most difficult college (by Newsweek, I presume) in the 1980s. It produced the most Rhodes scholars as a percentage of students. The male-female ratio was lopsided, something like 65% male. They also had a good basketball team, but not this good.

Can't wait to see them next year. If there really are an infinite number of universes, somewhere out there Davidson will meet Xavier in the finals.

27 March 2008

Restaurant Review: Wah-Mee

The Wah-Mee restaurant, now located at 435 Elm St. (next to the Hustler Store), has been downtown for at least two decades. A restaurant that has been around for that long should be pretty good, I figured, so I went there for lunch recently.

I sampled two items, the roast pork lo-mein and mongolian chicken.

Roast Pork Lo-Mein: **
Mongolian Chicken: **
(out of 4 stars)

Every Chinese restaurant has pork lo-mein on the menu but only some have roast pork. If you can imagine a cross between tandoori and barbecue, it's kind of like that. Wah-mee's was average, nothing special. They were also a bit miserly with the meat. And the vegetables too, now that I think about it.

Most restaurants use the same type of thick, flat noodle for lo-mein. Wah-Mee uses a thin, round noodle which is more vermicelli-like. I like the thicker noodle better, but that's just my preference.

(For the worst in lo-mein noodles, visit Moy-Moy's in Montgomery (they also have a 2nd location in Kenwood, which I haven't been to); they use ramen noodles for their lo-mein)

Wah-Mee's lo-mein is average: not much meat, not much vegetables, and not much flavor. The roast pork lo-mein at Golden City (Glenway Ave, across from Price Hill Chili) or China Island (Hosbrook Rd in Kenwood, in the complex caddy-corner from Lone Star Steaks) are much better.

The mongolian chicken was listed on the menu with a chili pepper symbol next to it, signifying spiciness. This is a bit of false advertising; to me, it barely registered as mild. There was enough meat (barely) but once again the veggies could have used more company. The flavor was average, nothing special.

I like Hunan and Szechuan style Chinese because I'm a fan of the added spiciness. Although Wah-Mee states that it prepares food in these two styles as well as Cantonese, it struck me as basically a Cantonese-style restaurant, so I found the food mild and lacking in flavor.

26 March 2008

Bill Cunningham's Job Still Safe for Now

It looks like Clear Channel might remain Clear Channel for the time being. The Business Courier reports that the "Wall Street Journal is reporting on its Web site that the private equity firms leading the buyout are facing a difficult time reaching agreeable terms with the bank partners to close the deal."

One of the firms, Bain Capital Partners, was co-founded by Mitt Romney.

Among Clear Channel's local stations are WLW and WEBN on the radio and WKRC on TV. Federal court required Clear Channel to sell some of its stations before the deal could move forward. Some locals expressed hope that the radio stations (WLW, especially) would be sold and content would improve. According to the Courier article, however, it was the TV station that was slated for sale.

22 March 2008

Answers in Genetics

Years ago, in a dangerously nerdy moment of confabulation among friends, I speculated that surgeons of the future would no longer be the formidable scalpel jocks they are today. Surgery of the future might be regarded more as a highly technical skilled labor than a rarefied echelon of medical science because disease treatment would move increasingly toward fixes at the molecular/genetic level. The surgery of the future is molecular surgery.

A good example of this is Klug & Co.'s recent experiments in which they made a synthetic version of a type of natural enzyme called a "zinc finger nuclease" (ZFN). Zinc-finger proteins are a class of proteins and there are many of them. Part of the structure sticks out like a finger (or so somebody thought) and it has a zinc ion, hence the name. So now you know what your body needs zinc for (and it needs other trace elements, like aluminum, cobalt, iron-- even arsenic and molybdenum-- for similar purposes).

A nuclease is a protein that binds to DNA (in a specific spot) and cuts out a piece. These researchers had the idea to make a synthetic nuclease that also targeted a specific DNA sequence, in this case an actual gene. If they could do this, it would demonstrate that their technique could be used as a model for gene therapy.

The new method is currently being tested for its efficacy in treating diabetes complications, spinal injury, chronic pain, AIDS, and vascular obstructions.

21 March 2008

Quote of the Week

I haven't blogged this week. I've watched a lot of basketball, though. I love March Madness. If you missed today's San Diego vs. Connecticut game you missed a great one.

Another notable hoops event: who could have guessed THIS would happen? It wasn't a great game, but probably the only game ever where more players are likely to get graduate degrees than NBA contracts.

Another notable event no.2: Five white guys from a small, elite liberal arts school beat Gonzaga and get to the second round. Congratulations, Rod Serling College Davidson College!

And now for this week's quote. It's a complete non sequitur from the content above but I heard it from an NPR caller and thought it interesting:

Those who work with their hands are laborers;
Those who work with their hands and brains are craftsmen;
Those who work with their hands, brains, and hearts are artists.

13 March 2008

Breast Cancer Breakthrough

A protein called SATB1 appears to be critical in transforming static tumors into metastatic ones:

Terumi Kohwi-Shigematsu, a scientist in the Life Sciences Division of the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who, with her colleagues, discovered SATB1 and has since investigated its many functions. She says, "SATB1's role in breast cancer is a new paradigm for the way tumors progress."

...SATB1 is not expressed in all cells. SATB1 seems particularly important in cells which must change their function... as cancerous cells must do to turn into metastatic cells.

"Only the metastatic cells expressed SATB1, with the most aggressive breast cancer cells showing the highest levels of the protein."

The researchers examined over 2,000 human primary breast cancer tissue samples for which clinical follow-up studies were available. The highest levels of SATB1 were in samples from patients whose survival times had been shortest; patients whose tumor samples had no SATB1 expression generally had longer survival times.

The analysis showed that a high level of SATB1 expression by itself is an excellent indicator of poor prognosis... because SATB1 drives breast cancer cells to become invasive...

SATB1 is a DNA-binding enzyme. When such enzymes bind to a gene sequence in the DNA they change the level of expression of a gene or genes (i.e. how much protein those genes will make). In the case of breast cells, the effect of whatever proteins SATB1 regulates has the effect of "loosening" cancer cells and letting them spread to other regions of the body.

It is possible that understanding the role of SATB1 will lead to better treatment methods but for now it only provides a valuable prognostic tool.

12 March 2008

Cootie Country

Why does a teenager need a cell phone, parents used to ask...

A new CDC study estimates that one in four (26 percent) young women between the ages of 14 and 19 in the United States... is infected with at least one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases...

...the study also finds that African-American teenage girls were most severely affected. Nearly half of the young African-American women (48 percent) were infected with an STD, compared to 20 percent of young white women.

If only they were more like their parents.

11 March 2008

Food Inspection Reports for Restaurant Week

The Cincinnati Health Dept. does not make restaurant inspections available online but HamCo does. Below are some of the violations of eateries participating in Restaurant Week.

Brown Dog Cafe - inspected Jan 2008

Excessive bare hand contact of food that is not in a ready-to-eat form.

de Sha's American Tavern - inspected Jan 2008


Dilly Deli - inspected Aug 2007

FOOD-CONTACT SURFACES WERE DIRTY. (Fixed in follow-up inspection)

Holy Grail (west) - inspected Feb 2008

(no violations)

Jimmy D's Steakhouse - inspected Jan 2008

A supply of toilet tissue was not available at each toilet.

(no violations in follow-up)

Drunk Drivers in Clifton

I doubt any of the five people that read this blog drive around Clifton in the wee hours of the morning, but chances are all of us know at least one person who has to drive to (and from) work in the middle of the night.

In my case I'm thinking of a relative, an ob/gyn, who drove in Clifton thousands of times in the middle of the night to Good Samaritan hospital which is right off MLK Drive, the subject of one Cincinnatian's communication to councilwoman Leslie Ghiz:

I am writing this email to you hoping that something can be done about the amount of traffic accidents on West Martin Luther King Drive. My wife and I reside at 620 West MLK Drive and we have had both of our vehicles totalled in the last 10 months by drunk drivers. Both vehicles were parked legally in front of our house.

Last March we came home to find my wife's car completely smashed against our house-- the vehicle was parked on the street and was moved approx. 30-40 feet by the first drunk driver. She blew a .238 and was arrested for OVI. Needless to say she had the minimum insurance coverage and we did not receive but a fraction of our damage.

The second time was Feb. 8 of this year and the same thing happened around 2:30am we heard a crash right outside-- I ran downstairs and outside to find out car smashed and moved about 25 feet from where it was parked and the driver of the other vehicle had completely flipped his car over in the middle of MLK Drive. He was lucky not to be injured but was also arrested for OVI and blew a .311.

On top of all that our neighbor who resides at 616 West MLK Drive had her house smashed into during evening commute about 4 months ago. The lady of that vehicle was arrested for no insurance and driving without a license.

I doubt there is anything special about MLK that attracts drunk drivers (and .238 and .311 is VERY drunk), so it is probably safe to presume one of two things: Either drunk drivers come from the west side, or drunk drivers are all over Clifton in the middle of the night. Maybe it's best to steer clear of both areas.

The letter is document no. 200800199 and the document type is "communication" on council's website.

09 March 2008


...from ScienceDave:

A thousand years from now, people won't remember Barak Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or John McCain, unless you count ancient history scholars. But they will remember that this was the age when we left Earth to visit the moon and planets. Whether they look back on this as a golden age, or hopelessly primitive, I'll never know. But assuming both humanity and history still exists, this will be noted as the time when we first looked on the face of other worlds, and on our own from that perspective.

When people sneer at the accomplishments of the space program, and stomp their feet and demand that the resources would be better spent here on Earth, I take a great deal of unholy pleasure in thinking that I don't know the names of any of the critics of Galileo, or Columbus, or the Wright Brothers. None. I suspect the verdict of history will be similar for the small minds that insist that we stay here, where we 'belong', and forgo exploration to hew to whatever doctrine they count as important.

08 March 2008

Grand Canyon Gets Powerwash

Now THAT'S a spigot...

07 March 2008

Obama May Win More Texas Delegates than Clinton

I knew the caucus votes had yet to be counted but I hadn't seen the numbers until I read this piece.

Primary Results
Clinton: 51% of votes for 65 delegates
Obama: 48% of votes for 61 delegates

Caucus Results so far (44% counted so far)
Clinton: 44%
Obama: 56%

If these percentages hold for the remainder of the caucus votes, Clinton will gain 29 more delegates and Obama will gain 38 more. That will give the following totals:

Clinton: 94
Obama: 99

So far the pattern is that Obama wins in urban areas and Clinton wins in rural areas. I don't know about the geographic distribution of the remaining caucus votes, but I do remember one analyst mentioning that the "late" (i.e. caucus) votes will favor Obama. If this turns out to be true, Obama may indeed win more Texas delegates than Clinton.

05 March 2008

Double Standard in Criticism of Cunningham?

When this blog began, I had only about a dozen links (seriously) and they ranged across the political spectrum. But one by one, each "conservative" link went neocon nutty. First there was the Right Angle Blog. Then VikingSpirit. Then LargeBill. I tried hard to find a blog that was reflective of Goldwater conservatism but all I found were vacuous mouthpieces for Karl Rove's dementia.

I thought of the local Rovesphere amidst last week's criticism of Bill Cunningham's pissy peroration. Cunningham is hardly the first loyal lackey to educe ethno-religious prejudice regarding Obama. VikingSpirit did it over a year ago. More recently, BizzyBlog has answered the call...

last August...
I don’t think I need to elaborate... on this gem from BHOO (Barack Hussein “Obambi” Obama)...

and last month...
Barack Obama — known to yours truly as BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama) — is not a strong enough defender of abortion “rights.”

Two highly regarded local blogs, TDB and Cincinnati Blog, posted criticisms of Cunningham. TDB's is particularly incisive. Ironically, both blogs also link to BizzyBlog, which did the same thing as Cunningham. Cunningham has a higher profile, but on principle, shouldn't BizzyBlog also be criticized? Are expectations of Cunningham's behavior higher than BizzyBlog's?

It's up to the blog owners whom they choose to link to, of course. But this is exactly the kind of slimy amateur-hour political gamesmanship that made me pull such links from this blog. It has nothing to do with ideology.

Is BizzyBlog a forum for conservative perspectives or is it an echo chamber for neocon policies that have lost all credibility and the Rovian tactics that continue to trumpet them? If it's the latter, why link to it?

The Election Result No One Will Talk About

I can count the number of minutes I spend watching FAUX News on one hand. But during my breakfast channel-flipping I happened to catch the rare visage of Karl Rove. He was happy as a clam and even brought presents (ties) for his hosts.

I can't let this Gretchen Carlson quote go unnoticed: "Karl, I always liked you but now I REALLY like you!"

As we bear the burden of hearing Clinton's voice try to swing the applause meter over the next few days, perhaps we should consider that a key election result has nothing to do with Ohio or Texas, but with Karl Rove's elation. Only one thing makes Karl Rove happy, and that is Republican victory. And he is very happy right now.

You may recall that the Democratic campaign began with the media, not with the candidates. The media hoisted Obama and Clinton into the spotlight before they even announced their candidacies. I made two predictions in the campaign preseason: first, nobody will even remember the name "Obama;" and two, the Dems will nominate Clinton.

Okay, so I was WAY off about the first thing. But as I explained the second thing to friends & family, there are two things you can count on the Dem establishment to do: (1) back the beltway insider, and (2) make things as difficult as possible for victory.

Presented as evidence:

2000 Gore campaign. This campaign was so lame they should have used an ambulance as the official transport vehicle. Much of the blame goes to consultant (read: "out of touch beltway insider") Bob Shrum, whose advice seemed to be: let the other side campaign hard, they'll get tired and then you'll win.

2004 Campaign. First the Dems backed long shot Gephardt, who went down in flames in less time than it took to read this sentence. Then it backed Kerry, whose campaign was so pathetic it made Gore's look good by comparison (guess who Kerry hired as a consultant, btw?). The Dems never backed Dean, the outsider candidate who lit the grassroots ablaze.

2006 Mid-term elections. Two words: Nancy Pelosi. Two more: Harry Reid. If one's idea of Congressional leadership is making a series of plaintive appeals to the President, then Pelosi and Reid are great. Were these bozos paying attention when Gingrich, DeLay, Frist, etc. were on the job?

I'd like to think I will be wrong about both Obama being forgotten as well as Clinton being nominated. But Clinton's nomination fits in perfectly with Democratic tradition: she's the beltway insider and her nomination will make a Dem victory as difficult as possible.

02 March 2008

Election Speculation

Had lunch with friends today. Some interesting election-related topics came up...

Quasi-unanimity for Obama
First, 6 out of 7 are backing Obama. The remaining one is on the fence but leaning Obamawards. Demographically, all are college-educated white collar professionals living in Cincinnati or NYC. Ages ranged from early 30s to 70s. Only one identified herself as "liberal." Two had a solid history of voting Republican until GWBush, and the remaining four had independent patterns.

Also interesting were opinions on Clinton. All except the one on the fence disliked her personality, especially during the debates. The self-identified liberal said she "didn't trust" Clinton. Furthermore, no one seemed to buy into the "experience" argument. The basic view was that Clinton did not have much more experience that Obama, just a few more years in the Senate.

The VP Issue
To me, the VP issue is more intriguing than the race. Who would the candidates pick? One of the NYC friends alluded to Bloomberg's recent op-ed in which he promised to do whatever possible to help elect the candidate who can bring the country together. Is he positioning himself as a VP, my friend wondered?

And things can get even more festive... if Clinton wins the nomination, what if Obama ran as an independent? What if he picked Bloomberg as running mate?

What if independent Obama picked a woman... say, Kathleen Sibelius? How many votes would that take away from Clinton?

My sister in D.C. thinks that Bill Richardson will be the running mate regardless of the nominee. Has anyone else heard that?

I think it's fair to assume that Ted Strickland would be high on Clinton's list. He might be on Obama's too, who knows? What about Virginia's Mark Warner? What about Iowa's Tom Vilsack?

As far as McCain, several possibilities have been tossed around but I haven't heard the name of former Colorado Governor Bill Owens. I think he'd be a good choice, Republican-wise. I presume McCain will feel pressure to pick someone to placate the party's corporate and evangelical extremists, and Owens can do that. But he's also someone who can legitimately do the job, unlike our current President.

I understand Dan Quayle is also available.

01 March 2008

Your Chance to be on Jerry Springer!

Sort of...

New Stage Collective announces casting for its regional premiere production of Jerry Springer: The Opera, directed by NSC Producing Artistic Director Alan Patrick Kenny.

When does the show run?
The production begins rehearsals May 5 and runs June 26-August 3, with a possible extension through August 24. All positions are paid.

When and where are auditions?
NSC will be holding open auditions for Jerry Springer: The Opera on March 2, 3, and 10, 2008 at NSC's performance space at 1140 Main St., Cincinnati, OH 45202.

Please visit the Auditions page at NSC Online for audition requirements, character breakdowns, application, and important show content notes.