31 October 2006

Death Blow for Mike DeWine?

Ouch! I can already hear myself say it. Because I know there will be a TV ad about this for sure. And it will hurt. Will it be the death blow?

At least two dozen federal judges appointed by President Bush since 2001 made political contributions to key Republicans or to the president himself while under consideration for their judgeships, government records show.

Republicans who received money from judges en route to the bench include Sens. Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine of Ohio...

I remember someone saying that in Washington, it’s not enough to avoid impropriety; one must avoid even the appearance of impropriety. At the very least, this appears bad. Very, very bad.

(via BSB)

Padre’s Cadre Not Happy Son's a Dumb Bum

From the NY Daily News:

Indeed, one of the worst-kept secrets in Bush World is the dismay, in some cases disdain, harbored by many senior aides of the former President toward the administration of his son - 41 and 43, as many call them, political shorthand that refers to their numerical places in American presidential history.

For five years, the 41s have bit their collective tongues as, they complain, the 43s ignored their counsel. But as the war in Iraq has worsened and public support for the current administration has tanked, loyalists of the elder Bush have found it impossible to suppress their disillusionment - particularly their belief that many of 43's policies are a stick in the eye of his father.

"Forty-three has now repudiated everything 41 stands for, and still he won't say a word," a key member of the elder Bush alumni said. "Personally, I think he's dying inside."

27 October 2006

The Greatest Baseball Roster Ever

Bill James, an economist and formulator of the baseball statistical analysis system known as sabermetrics, was asked who he would pick for a roster of all-time greats.

James' statistical analysis is pretty rigorous (think of operations research). He can even measure the contribution made by one player to a team's overall performance. Pretty impressive. And he pays close attention to differences in the game over the years to better compare players from different eras. Also very important.

Here's his all-time roster:

P: Roger Clemens
C: Yogi Berra
1B: Lou Gherig
2B: Joe Morgan (yes!)
SS: Honus Wagner
3B: Mike Schmidt
LF: Ted Williams
CF: Willie Mays
RF: Babe Ruth

These are great players who performed at a high level for many years. But there are many players who were great for a short time. I wouldn't turn down an early 60s Sandy Koufax, for example. From '61 to '66 he posted a 124-57 record with over 1700Ks. Not too shabby. I also think Nolan Ryan never got enough credit because he always got stuck with crappy teams. I'd take him for sure.

I'd look for a way to pick someone besides Clemens, I guess that's basically what I'm saying.

State Issues 4 & 5 FAQ

Following up on my previous post expressing derision for Issue 4, I now point you to an article in the Canton Repository which offers further explanation about the smoking issues.

(Note the expectedly deceptive OL&E ad at the top).

UPDATE: For more about Ohio & Hamilton County ballot issues, see this post.

26 October 2006

1.2 Billion Reasons We're Winning in Iraq

Halliburton Co. watched third-quarter net income rise 22 percent, thanks in part to fewer disruptions from hurricanes, which beset the oil industry last year.

"This was an exceptional quarter for Halliburton," said Dave Lesar, the company's chairman, president, and chief executive officer in a prepared statement.

Halliburton's Iraq-related work contributed nearly $1.2 billion in revenue in the third quarter of 2006 and $45 million of operating income, a performance that pleased analysts.

"Iraq was better than expected," said Jeff Tillery, analyst with Pickering Energy Partners Inc. "Overall, there is nothing really to question or be skeptical about. I think the results are very good."


25 October 2006

Scientists Discover Astrophysical Phenomenon on Talk Radio

Black holes are one of the most intruiging objects in our universe. The subject of intense cosmological research, they push the limits of human understanding of space, time and physics.

The existence of black holes has been theorized for centuries, but wasn't observed until a few decades ago. Stephen Hawking is probably best known for his theoretical work on black holes.

One of the most exciting discoveries concerning black holes was the discovery of black holes so huge they were given a their own moniker, Supermassive Black Holes.

Just this week, scientists discovered a similiar phenomenon on talk radio, the Supermassive Asshole.

24 October 2006

Take the Issue 4 & 5 Poll !

The Wapakoneta Daily News Online has an online poll about Issues 4 & 5. It's on the bottom left of the home page. Cast your vote and see what others think!

UPDATE: This poll has expired; for more on Ohio & Hamilton County ballot issues, see this post.

Ken Blackwell's Glass House

Joe Hallet of the Columbus Dispatch discovers that Ken Blackwell had a pretty serious staffing problem of his own:

As state treasurer, Blackwell hired a felon and kept him on the payroll after his office discovered the man had a long record of arrests. Under Blackwell, who was treasurer from March 1994 to January 1999, Michael A. Toomer received two pay increases, and left the treasurer's office in 2002, landing in prison for the next four years.

And there's PLENTY more, folks. Read it here.

(via HypoSpeak)

Greg Hartmann: Well-connected or Well-qualified?

The Dayton Daily News has an article about Sec. of State candidate Greg Hartmann's refusal to pay a prior business debt even though he is legally obligated to do so.

I'm not sure this is such a big deal, really. I can't see it going very far as a campaign issue. It's a business disagreement that has to be battled in the courts. Happens all the time.

More interesting is the fact that Hartmann is the son and son-in-law of wealthy and well-connected people. His father is connected to Dick Cheney and his in-laws founded Hillenbrand Industries. One would think that this has had something to do with his elected officialdom and his appointment as executive director of the county GOP and chair of the county Bush-Cheney campaign, but this would be incorrect:

"I had been a successful prosecutor and people knew I had a background in business. I was the most qualified candidate for the job."

Being "most qualified" to lead anything Republican is hardly something to be bragging about these days.

22 October 2006

Gross Anatomy and Six Feet Under

Sorry, TV fans, this post has nothing to do with screen dramas (although I do like Six Feet Under).
Instead I present to you two amazing stories involving body parts:

First is this: A man severs his left arm above the elbow. Surgeons reattach it but the wound develops infection. This necessitates removal of the reattached segment, but this means it will no longer be viable. The only way to keep it viable is to maintain blood flow to the limb. What did they do?

...there were two different options: reamputate the arm or try to save it by taking it into a healthy zone where it would be possible to nourish it while we cleaned the infected area.

The idea of taking the arm to another anatomical location came by reading a similar case published by Michael Wood (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA) in which he attached an arm in the groin.

With the agreement of the family it was decided to transfer the arm to the groin where large blood vessels are readily accessible. In 4 hours we disassembled the reconstruction performed earlier and connected the blood vessels of the arm to those of groin by means of microsurgery.

Read more about this amazing procedure (with graphic pictures) here.

And the second body parts story:

Seven undertakers in the New York area have admitted being part of a scheme to steal body parts for transplants.

New York City Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, said: "The unspeakable desecration of the bodies - PVC pipe was used to replace bones. Indeed, the very equipment that they used, the mask and gloves and surgical items were tossed into the bodies."

Read more here.

The Enquirer-Heimlich-Blackwell-Lindner Conspiracy Theory

The Enquirer has endorsed Ken Blackwell. I am not making this up.

As if this is not ridiculous enough, the paper cites Strickland's ideas as its reason for supporting Blackwell:

What Ohio needs is a governor with strong ideas to increase Ohio employment, improve Ohio education and stem the flow of Ohioans seeking better opportunities elsewhere.

Every time I hear Strickland, those are the things he talks about (especially education). Every time I hear Blackwell, I wonder about his unhealthy obsession with homosexuality and pedophilia. Strickland is a psychologist and I hope he can guide Blackwell to get the help he needs. I think I speak for many Ohioans who are sick of hearing about it (Enquirer editorial board excepted).

The endorsement of Blackwell is so absurd that I found myself struggling for some sort of explanation. The explanation is obviously not that Blackwell is a better choice. There must be something else here.

My consipiracy theory is that the Enquirer made a deal with Lindner & Friends to endorse Pepper over Heimlich with the understanding that they would later endorse Blackwell over Strickland. I think that's why the Enquirer made a mountain out of Nikki Giovanni's molehill last week.

Blackwell is jonesing for any support he can get, and if can't get southwest Ohio... well, we know what that means. So I think the Enquirer endorsement was pre-arranged to keep Blackwell hanging on by a thread.

21 October 2006

Bengals and Tigers

The World Series begins this evening. The Cards are owned by Bill DeWitt, a Bush family friend who has connections with other Bush friends here in Cincinnati. The Tigers, on the other hand, play in the city of my birth and were once coached by Sparky Anderson.

Tigers in four.

Now the Bengals, that is a bit more of a problem. They need to win this week and it's gonna be tough. Tackle Levi Jones is out. Brian Simmons and Dexter Jackson are questionable. I really hope Jackson is healthy because I have less confidence in Kaesviharn, to be honest. But on the other hand, it doesn't really seem to matter who is covering Steve Smith because he beats everybody. And if they do blanket Smith, Keyshawn Johnson is going to do the damage himself.

But I think the critical issue is the Bengals running and their running defense. Rudi gets enough carries, he just can't get any yardage. And on defense, the Bengals are allowing way too much. It's killing us.

So basically I think the Bengals fortune rests on the offensive and defensive lines. If the offensive line can protect Palmer and block effectively for Rudi, we can put up some good numbers. But we also have to stop the Panthers from getting anything going on the ground.

I hope the Bengals can pull it off, but there is no reason to expect it based on the last two games.

Panthers, 35-34.

20 October 2006

Noe Used State Funds to Pay His Bills

The Cincinnati Post reports:

Tom Noe, 52, is accused of stealing from the fund and putting the money into his coin shop and spending it on an extravagant lifestyle. His attorneys say the deal with the state allowed him to use the money however he wanted, including to pay off debts.

Noe... and his partner occasionally asked bookkeeper Jeannie Beck to take money from the state investment "to make up the negative," she said.

It's not just bad news for Noe. It might be bad news for AG candidate Betty Montgomery as well. Her election opponent, Marc Dann, claims that Montgomery failed in her duty as State Auditor by repeatedly ignoring evidence of wrongdoing and waiting at least 13 months before investigating.

Blackwell Rally Brings Out the Goofballs

There was a Blackwell campaign rally yesterday in Blue Ash. What kind of person would take the time to come out in the rain to support Ken Blackwell?

Jean Schmidt
Phil Heimlich
Sean Hannity
Bill Cunningham
Anthony Munoz

The most intelligent gathering since George W. Bush drank alone.

19 October 2006

Local Stations Pull DeWine Ad (UPDATED!)

Squeaky wheels get the grease.

It has come to my attention that after being deluged with calls, all 4 stations pulled DeWine's ad (which makes false claims, see post below) as of early afternoon.

Now we can relax and wait for the next round of ads.

UPDATE: Apparently there are TWO ads which make the same false claim. Although the stations have pulled the first ad, I saw the second ad just this morning on WKRC. In this ad, a woman says something like "Not only did he raise our taxes, he didn't pay his own." Since this has been proven to be a false statement, this ad should be pulled as well.

And let's keep in mind: the stations pulled the false ads, not the GOP. The GOP refused to stop airing false ads even after they were proven false.

Halloween Comes Early With GOP Ad Machine

Ugh. It's campaign ad season. Political Halloween, if you will.

Boo! My opponent is a pedophile-ophile!
Boo! My opponent will tax everything including your poopies!
Boo! My opponent wants to give free abortions in the school cafeteria!

Ken Blackwell's ads and talking points reflect an increasing sense of desperation. Desperate people do desperate campaigning, and we may not even have seen the worst of it yet. But what we've seen so far is pretty pathetic and a little bit disgusting, to be honest. I credit Ted Strickland for not taking the bait and jumping into the gutter with Blackwell. Strickland has emerged as the statesman and Blackwell as a trash-talking hack.

The latest ad controversy is DeWine's ad accusing Brown of not paying taxes for 12 years. I've seen it a few times on TV this week, so it's still running. According to a source in the Hamilton County Dem Party, the RNC has been told the ad is false but declined to pull it.

(George "Macaca" Allen is in a similar situation)

Now as I understand it, the policy of local TV stations is to run ads unless the opponent can provide proof that the ad makes false claims. Then it gets pulled.

Brown's website claims to have that proof in the form of a scanned image of a receipt. His website also explains:

In December 1993, Brown's house reelection campaign was issued a notice to pay unemployment taxes. The Ohio Bureau of Employment Services confirmed payment in April 1994.

The glitch may be the fault of the Ohio state government.

The State of Ohio also backs up Brown's claims:

Jon Allen, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, the successor agency to the employment bureau, said the claims suggesting Brown didn't pay the tax bill for 12 or 13 years are false. His department researched the matter last year, when the Brown campaign asked about the lien. (from HypoSpeak)

Does it not seem that Brown has provided adequate proof that the claims made by the ad are false? Then why did I see this ad once again this morning?

18 October 2006

Habeus, Shmabeus

Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law this week. This legislation corrects such mistakes as insufficient executive power and habeus corpus. Hail Caesar!

Keith Olberman interviewed ConLaw professor Jonathan Turley about all the fun and games this legislation will bring us. See the video clip or read the transcript.

Congress has a lot of lawyers and I was curious as to how they voted. I didn't check the House because it has too many members but I did check out the Senate and came up with the following Harper's Index-like list:

YES votes: 65
NO votes: 34

Senators with law degrees: 59 of 99
No. of them who voted YES: 37 (65%)
No. of them who voted NO: 22 (35%)

Chance that a Republican voted YES: 99% (53 of 54)
Chance that a Republican with a law degrees voted YES: 100% (30 of 30)
Chance that a Dem/Ind voted YES: 25% (12 of 45)
Chance that a Dem/Ind with a law degree voted YES: 25% (7 of 29 )

The only Republican to vote NO was Lincoln Chafee. Ohio's senators both have law degrees and both voted NO. Kentucky's senators both voted NO. Indiana and Michigan split their votes.

While researching this I also discovered two unrelated but interesting factoids: Harry Reid worked as a Capitol Hill police officer for a few years and Maria Cantwell is a Miami U grad.

State Issues 4 & 5: What's the Diff?

Two smoking bans will be on Ohio's ballot. As Ohio Goes has an important post on the difference between the two bans. Basically, Issue 4 is to smoking what Issue 3 is to education.

In addition to R.J. Reynolds and other organizations, Issue 4 is supported by the Cigar Association of America, the Lorillard Tobacco Co., the National Association of Tobacco Outlets Inc. and the Retail Tobacco Dealers Association.

R.J. Reynolds is bankrolling pro-smoking efforts in other states this year, including Arizona, where the campaign brazenly calls itself the Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Committee.

NBC News did a story on the inherent dishonesty of the Ohio and Arizona efforts, noting that Smoke Less Ohio petitioners did not disclose the fact that their issue was being promoted by the tobacco industry.

There's also another difference: Issue 4 is a constitutional amendment whereas Issue 5 is a law. So if both pass, Issue 4 takes precedence.

And speaking of Issue 3 ("gambling for schools"), I saw a new OL&E commercial this morning. They are using a new deception tactic in the voiceover, saying something like "By limiting gaming to 9 locations around the state..."

By limiting gaming? Yes, that's what they want, to limit gaming. Here's how it might seem if other ventures adopted the gaming lobby's ad strategy:

Neocon Foreign Policy: By limiting U.S. troop presence to only Earth-based nations, we will provide much needed freedom...

Microsoft: By limiting Windows to only 100% of computers, we will help consumers...

Porn Industry: By limiting content to the internet, we will help reduce the prevalence...

GOP leadership: By limiting corporate control to only the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government at only the local, state and federal levels, we will ensure that ordinary Americans...

UPDATE: For more information about Ohio and Hamilton County ballot issues, see this post.

17 October 2006

KY Senator is Special Interests' Best Friend

I've always wondered what the hell is wrong with Kentucky. No, I don't mean in the general sense... I mean in the sense that they keep electing Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning to the Senate. Bunning is an extremist who is going senile and McConnell is a graduate of the Tom DeLay school of government.

Suddenly, after all these years, journalists decided to check out McConnell. Here's what the Lexington Herald-Leader writes:

McConnell's rise to the top of Congress is testament to the power of money in modern politics. He has raised nearly $220 million over his Senate career; he spent the majority not on his own campaigns but on those of his GOP colleagues, who have rewarded him with power.

"He's completely dogged in his pursuit of money. That's his great love, above everything else," said Marshall Whitman

A six-month examination of McConnell's career, based on thousands of documents and scores of interviews, shows the nexus between his actions and his donors' agendas. He pushes the government to help cigarette makers, Las Vegas casinos, the pharmaceutical industry, credit card lenders, coal mine owners and others.

Special interest politics taken to the highest level. Or as we now call it, the GOP.

The scariest part?

If Republicans hold the Senate in the Nov. 7 elections, he is expected to succeed retiring Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee as majority leader.

16 October 2006

Season Not Getting Any Easier for Bengals

Tough loss to take, no question. That was a heartbreaker.

The late-night local sports pundits made a big brouhaha over the bad call at the end of the game. They were furious about it and blamed the referee for the loss.

I agree it was an incorrect call, and the Bengals would almost certainly have won 13-7 if it didn't happen. But I don't see that as the reason for the loss. The Bengals had their opportunities and they didn't capitalize. It's as simple as that. C'mon, 13 points from the Bengals? Are you kidding me?

Chad Johnson was so frustrated he could barely do his regular interview with FOX19's Brian Giesenschlag. Carson Palmer looked like he was feeling about the same.

The Bengals have lost too many valuable players and it shows, particularly on defense. But the best teams win even when they don't have their best stuff. If the Bengals are postseason bound, they have to beat the best teams (like the Pats) and they have to figure out how to do it without key players.

Things get even tougher this Sunday, when we face the Carolina Panthers. I have to say I am not looking forward to the matchup between Carolina's receivers and the Bengals defense. It has the potential to get very ugly.

Key stats from yesterday's game (ESPN.com):

First Downs Bengals: 15
First Downs Bucs: 21

3rd Down Conversions Bengals: 3 of 14
3rd Down Conversions Bucs: 6 of 16

Rushing Yds Bengals: 53
Rushing Yds Bucs: 126

Possession Bengals: 25 min.
Possession Bucs: 35 min.

Find an Atheist, Get $1000

Or to be more precise, a nontheist. But there's a catch: it can't be just any old nontheist:

The Secular Coalition for America (SCA) will award one thousand dollars ($1,000) to the person who identifies the highest level atheist, humanist, freethinker or other nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States of America.

Is religion a de facto requirement for public office? An interesting find from Blogesque.

15 October 2006

Illegal Immigration, Pt. II

In the previous post, commentor Mark wondered about the contributions illegal workers make to social security. A quick web search returned the following information.

From an article by California Public Radio:

Many economists argue that the benefit of illegal labor goes far beyond lower produce prices; illegal immigrant workers in the United States provide the Social Security system with as much as $7 billion per year.

"Our assumption is that about three-quarters of other-than-legal immigrants pay payroll taxes," said Stephen C. Goss, Social Security's chief actuary.

However, illegals also cost the system because they use government services. A 2004 study by the Center for Immigration Studies looked at census data and estimated that

...households headed by illegal aliens used $10 billion more in government services than they paid in taxes in 2002. These figures are only for the federal government; costs at the state and local level are also likely to be significant.

Combining these two studies suggests that illegals cost about $3-4 billion more than they contribute, at least at the federal level. I am reluctant to accept that as a final figure since the actual economic cost of illegal workers probably requires a complex analysis that would have to factor in things like downstream price reductions, for example. But it's a ballpark number to think about.

My web search also returned an interesting article titled "Why the Federal Government Can't End Illegal Immigration".

13 October 2006

Northern Burbs Still Swinging at the Pinata

Immigration is a hot topic in the northern burbs, where Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones joined the "Citizens for Legal Communities" meeting this week (here's Sheriff Jones receiving an "American Patriot Award" from Bay Buchanan earlier this year).

The group, as far as I can tell, is a misguided attempt to cope with the loss of a loved one. I think Elizabeth Kubler-Ross would agree that the family is shedding more light on the 5 stages of grief than it is on illegal immigration.

There's a lot of hot air about illegal immigration, and it's a shame because it's a serious issue that needs to be dealt with. But it won't be dealt with, at least not sensibly. That's because, to Republicans, an issue has significance only insofar as it gets votes or money. It's not about the safest, most economical solution to immigration. It's about the most political advantageous solution. And the GOP has perfected the art of fomenting bigotry for political advantage. It has worked in the past and there's no reason not to expect them to use the ploy this time.

The GOP is focusing on an important issue but in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons. But at this point that's not a surprise to anyone.

Here is a brief report (hot air removed) on the economic effect of illegal immigration at the county level.

12 October 2006

Baseball Not the Only Thing Looking Good in Michigan

Took a few days hiatus from blogging but I'm back to report two items of good news from Michigan. Actually, make it 3 items:

First is that Granholm is leading DeVos in the polls. DeVos is the evangelical corporatist (i.e. Republican) candidate. In other words, he represents the two special interests that have brought us failure and incompetence for 5 straight years. But hey, let's wish him (and his co-pilot, Jesus) best of luck anyway.

Second, the Tigers are so hot I am actually starting to believe the hype on their unofficial expat fan blog. When I was in Dearborn a fortnight ago I asked the hotel bellman about the Lions. Oops. It only brought him heartache. I should have asked about the Tigers, but I conditioned myself not to bring up baseball that weekend because my NYC cousins, big-time Yankee fans, might be in earshot.

Third, the Michigan Dept. of Education just set its science guidelines. I am happy to report that the science guidelines are based on science and not the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

“We do not want to create any uncertainty in the Board’s support of Evolution,” said State Board of Education Vice President John C. Austin. “We need to send a clear statement that there is no ambiguity on the part of the Board that Evolution is good science.”

“Science supports Evolution in the way it’s set forth in the content expectations before us,” said State Board member Reginald Turner. “The word ‘may’ clouds the science of Evolution after decades of scientific evidence, and is inconsistent with what we know about Evolution today.”

But there's no need for fundamentalists to feel left out... there's plenty of science suitable for the people of the flying spaghetti.

06 October 2006

Mike DeWine: Campaign Rhetoric vs. Senate Record

The Plain Dealer reports that Mike DeWine regularly missed meetings of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It seems he attended only half as many meetings as his colleagues.

(via HypoSpeak)

Attn: GOP Officials


I got a good Republican recruit for y'all right here.

05 October 2006

Pennsylvania Republican Has Affair, Chokes Mistress, Promises Tax Cuts

Should it really be a surprise that Rep. Don Sherwood is the just the kind of person you're likely to find in the GOP:

Rep. Don Sherwood, the Pennsylvania Republican accused of choking his former mistress, has issued a television ad in which he asks for forgiveness for the "mistake" he made which "nearly cost him" the love his wife and daughters.

While saying that the "allegation of abuse was never true," Sherwood tells the voters of Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district that if they were to forgive him, he will stay focused on reducing taxes, creating jobs, and bringing home the district’s fair share.

An interesting footnote: Sherwood's affair went unnoticed until a political opponent found a copy of the police report in which Sherwood's mistress called 911 and claimed abuse. Based on the mistress's Wikipedia entry, it looks like Sherwood went after a gold-digging ho and got bit in the ass. She filed suit and he settled out of court.

04 October 2006

Sex Scandal Reveals What GOP Is All About

We live in strange times. After 5 years of demolishing every aspect of democracy and leadership that they could get their hands on, it's a sex scandal that brings down the Republican's house of cards.

The GOP has desperately tried to make Mark Foley take the blame by himself (KatieG's translation of GOP strategy is right on the money), but that obviously didn't work for very long.

And what's this... the media paying attention for once? Even the MSM isn't letting GOP leaders get away with changing stories and shady explanations. Color me surprised. Here's a brief list of Boehner's and Hastert's changing stories over the last few days.

The way the GOP has handled the Foley issue should not surprise anyone. Karl Rove has transformed the GOP into a campaign machine, not a governing machine. The modern GOP knows only one thing: how to campaign. They do not know how to govern or lead. Republicans don't get into office on the strength of their leadership or governance; they get elected because they campaign tough and dirty.

Republicans know how to get votes (pander to Christian fundamentalists) and money (pander to corporate interests). That's all it takes to win office. But that doesn't translate into leadership. It doesn't translate into good government. That's why all we hear from Republican executives is campaign rhetoric. No matter what the issue, they can only spout the same old slogans about liberals, taxes, and terrorism. That's not policy, that's empty rhetoric.

03 October 2006

Should Grandparents Eat Indian Food?

Researchers at UCLA recently did an interesting test with curcumin, a chemical found in curry and turmeric. They took blood cells from 6 Alzheimer's patients and 3 healthy control and grew the cells in the lab. Then they added curcumin to the cells and observed its effect on macrophages, a type of blood cell that eats up foreign substances like the amyloid beta protein implicated in Alzheimer's.

After 24 hours, cells from 3 of the 6 patients showed increased ingestion of amyloid protein. No change was observed in the control group. The researchers also noted that those patients whose cells showed increased activity had milder Alzheimer's than the patients whose cells showed no change, suggesting that any benefit from curcumin may only be in the early stages of disease.

Because the sample size is so small, this experiment cannot be regarded as proof of anything. But it does give reason to pursue further experiments. And there's plenty of other evidence to suggest that curry and turmeric have beneficial health effects.

Let's face it: there are worse ways to maintain health than eating Indian food!

Latest Tidbit on Foleygate

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which recently released its list of Congress's most corrupt members) was a guest on C-SPAN this morning.

It turns out that a concerned congressional staffer who knew about Foley's emails sent them to CREW months ago. According to Sloan, CREW deliberated what action to take and whether to make the emails public. They decided that the best course of action was to inform the FBI and ask for an investigation into the matter.

Sloan says that happened in July, but to her knowledge no action was ever taken by the FBI. She says that in addition to the investigation of Foley and the GOP leadership, the matter of why the FBI didn't do anything should also be investigated. She has written to the DOJ and asked them to look into how the FBI handled the matter.

For perspective on the Foley scandal, I think Legal Fiction gets it right:

But putting all that aside, what’s most damning about the Foley controversy is that it perfectly captures in one quick and easy metaphor everything that’s wrong with the modern GOP. Foley symbolizes what happens when you cast aside any concern for policy or public well-being for political power. In this sense, the Foley controversy shouldn’t be seen in isolation, but should be understood as a manifestation of the same forces that brought us Iraq, Katrina, torture, and the Medicare bill debacle.

02 October 2006

Bengals, Seahawks Get Taken to the Woodshed

I had a good time over the weekend in Detroit, celebrating the marriage of my Chicago-based cousin and his new wife. It was great to see my other cousins from all over the country-- NYC, Austin, St. Louis, and Atlanta. We talked, among many other things, about football and the Bengals. I mentioned that I wanted to get back to Cincy in time for the 4 p.m. game against the Pats.

Oh boy. I couldn't even watch the whole thing. What a spanking. And it didn't end when the game was over; sportwriter Greg Doyel even takes us fans to the woodshed. Ouch! But he has a point.

I won't say the Super Bowl is unreachable, but it doesn't look hopeful when you can't even compete against a top team. Problems were all over the place: the offensive line, the run coverage, the pass coverage. And that's just on the field.

But the Bears, now there's a team. After seeing them make a sack lunch of the Seahawks, I gotta believe this team is Super Bowl bound. Wow.