30 December 2008

Hey, Hey, Hey... Good-bye!


Happy New Year to all... see you in 2009!

27 December 2008


Local bakery has breads, muffins, danishes and sense of humor:

23 December 2008

It Has Come to This

My sister and her fiancee spent Thanksgiving week in Cincy. The fiancee is a football fan and, since he spent boyhood years in Pittsburgh, is also Steelers fan. We have quality "guy time" talking football and watching games.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving we made some delicious steaks (to go with leftover mashed potatoes) which we ate for lunch while watching the Bengals get humiliated. The fiancee is a fine, upstanding person and I felt guilty for subjecting him to such a miserable visage. So I told him we should go up to "that Steelers bar" to watch the second game.

The bar is Martino's on [short] Vine. Please believe me when I tell you that once you cross the door, YOU ARE IN PITTSBURGH. Do not wear Bengals attire or even anything Cincinnati-related unless your idea of a good time is being insulted and hassled mercilessly.

Portal to Pittsburgh

But if you fit in, you are family. And it is a family place, at least on Sundays. There are plenty of moms, dads and kids in the place, many decked out in Steelers garb. Take a look:

My brush with greatness's jersey

The fiancee and I had a great time at Martino's. It helped that it was a very good game. Afterwards, I had a moment of deep reflection which I expressed thusly: "Fuck the Bengals. I'm through being Mike Brown's chump. From now on I will be watching the Steelers at Martino's."

You can be a football fan or you can be a Bengals fan, but you can't be both. That's how I feel about it. If you want to watch good football in a good atmosphere, meet me at Martino's and enjoy watching the Steelers. That is what it has come to.

Up yours, Mike Brown.

Smart Car, Dumb Driver?

Seen over the weekend in the 'burbs:

21 December 2008

Math Doesn't Suck (as Much as it Used to)

From the Dec. 10 Wall St. Journal:

U.S. fourth- and eighth-graders improved their math scores in a closely watched international test, but continued to lag well behind peers from top-performing Asian countries. U.S. students also failed to show measurable gains in science.

The test results come as businesses have warned that poor performance in math and science is eroding U.S. competitiveness, and as lawmakers in Washington prepare for a key battle over education policy.

In math, the U.S. "is making steady progress," says Michael O. Martin... But Mr. Martin said he worried about the "huge gap" between the U.S. and Asian countries, which "aren't resting on their laurels."

Next year, Congress is expected to take up the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind.... Barack Obama has indicated an interest in changing the law to address widespread criticism from schools, teachers and parents about its inflexibility...

Our global competitiveness is already tied to our ability to produce top-tier physical scientists and engineers, and it will only get more so in the future. Right now most of our physical scientists come from Asia (fact, not hyperbole).

Here's hoping a new Congress and President will shift education issues 180 degrees away from creationism, abstinence, and general dumbfuckedness and towards producing students who might actually have a decent chance at running the country. Eventually it will be theirs.

17 December 2008

Okay, You Can Bring in Spring Now

I think I've had enough and it's only December. I'm okay with the cold; it's the short days and bad road conditions that beat me down. I hate getting home just in time to look out the window and watch the last rays of light evaporate. Maybe I'll get one of those full spectrum anti-Seasonal Affective Disorder lamps all the kids are talking twittering about (that's for you, K).

Or I can keep going to Margarita's for happy hour. I've heard bueno things about their signature drink and today the crew and I tried a few. They're all bueno. The tortilla chips are bueno. The salsa is bueno (tip: add some chili sauce). The queso is bueno (tip: add some chili sauce). Even Mexican TV is bueno, if watching hot latin women with big bouncy boobs losing food fights is your thing.

Mucho mas bueno: the bartender graciously thanked us for our patronage with a complementary shot of watermelon-flavored tequila. Yes, it was bueno.

I still want spring, but happy hours will do for now.

14 December 2008

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change

Back when I was young and awesome I used to go to the theater several times a year. But now that I'm a fat, old, lazy bum with a low sperm count I hardly ever go. I've been thinking about changing that and last weekend I got my chance with the fortunate coincidence of a friend's visit and the showing of You're Perfect, I Love You, Now Change at Playhouse in the Park (CityBeat's review).

The bottom line: see this play.

What to expect: hilarity, touching moments, insightful moments and good acting.

Be sure to notice: set design and direction. People behind the scenes deserve credit for what they do to make a good show better.

Where to sit: there are no bad seats but I recommend the first 4 rows (any section).

And think about: buying pre-paid parking with the tickets, especially if there is another play at the same time (A Christmas Carol, for example).

And here's a gratuitous shot of our pre-theater snack, two crepes, one savory and one sweet, courtesy of Francoise:

13 December 2008

Secret Places

When I lived in Chicago I had a friend (hello Greg, I know you're out there somewhere) who had a mental map of just about every nook and cranny in the city. And he knew every hidden gem-- hole-in-the-wall bars with great music, mom-and-pop mexican restaurants with great food, where to find inexpensive clothes, and so on. It's good to know someone like that.

Cincinnati is much smaller but there are secret places here, too. A few weeks ago I found an old staircase that went down to the riverbank. I wouldn't say it's in the middle of nowhere but I'm sure thousands of people pass it thousands of times and have no idea it's there. I walked along the shore for a few minutes, pondering the picnic potential of my discovery. One more reason to anticipate spring, eh (I'm Canadian today).

And I saw this baseball. It doesn't look like a baseball, but this is what one looks like without the leather. Perhaps this is evidence of what Ohio River water does to skin.

And later I saw this very clear message not to go around the speed bump. Wow, that's a mistake you'll only make once:

11 December 2008

High Fructose Urine Screw-up

From Environmental Health News:

Drinking sugary soda is linked to kidney disease, most likely due to the high fructose corn syrup that sweetens the drinks.

The interesting part:

The strongest risk was associated with lower weight women and with drinking non-cola sodas.

And women get the short stick again:

No association was found with men...

In a nutshell: if you must drink two or more sodas a day, drink diet. Or get a sex-change operation.

03 December 2008

3-Ways, Two Ways

As part of my decades-long research project on chili spaghetti I have recently tried a few 3-ways at Blue Ash Chili and Pleasant Ridge Chili.

Neither tastes like Skyline, which I've heard is because Skyline uses cinnamon and the others don't. I cannot confirm or deny this but it sounds right.

More than a mere chili parlor, it has an extensive menu with sandwiches, burgers, salads and soups. There was a daily special all three times I was there. Here is the 3-way breakdown:

Spaghetti: cooked more than Skyline (i.e. beyond al dente) but not a factor in overall taste.
Chili: not spicy and not cinnamon-y but has well-balanced taste without any particular kick. Like the 6th batter in the lineup, it won't thrill anybody but it can be counted on for dependable performance. A little greasier than the others.
Cheese: imagine ordering two 3-ways with extra cheese. Take the cheese from one and put it on top of the other. You now have a 3-way with double extra cheese which is how they serve it at Blue Ash Chili. Seriously, it got a little out of hand on my second visit.

Here is shot of my first Blue Ash Chili 3-way:

I actually don't know what is on the menu here because I just sit at the counter and order a 3-way (note: the diet plan is a little fucked up right now). However, I do remember they have a copy of their original menu on the wall which is interesting to peruse. And by "original" I mean from 1964. I don't think anything was over a dollar.

Spaghetti: Skyline-esque-ly al dente.
Chili: the taste is different from Blue Ash, but it is similar in that it has no particular kick. I like the fact that Pleasant Ridge has bottles of Tabasco as well as Frank's. But I don't like the fact that they're a tad stingy with the chili.
Cheese: this is the weak link. It's slightly hard and rubbery, as if it has been lying around for a while. The competition's cheese, by contrast, always seems fresh because it is soft and has a cheddar aroma. It is possible that Pleasant Ridge buys their cheese pre-grated and this is the cause of the difference. Also, Pleasant Ridge's cheese is milder whereas the competition's is sharper.

The servers at both places were super friendly, as if they were genuinely glad I came in to eat there. Good stuff.

UPDATE: An important review of PRC's gravy fries at Get in mah belly.

Blue Ash Chili on Urbanspoon

Pleasant Ridge Chili on Urbanspoon

29 November 2008

HVAC Turn-On

Before I arrived on the scene I spied an attractive young woman whispering sexy somethings to this duct. I guess it worked:

25 November 2008

The Porcelain God

I don't know what this is but I saw it in the East End:

23 November 2008

The Creative Industrial Class

Originally I was going to post a pic of some free-range turkeys on a local farm but the pic isn't good because the turkeys, which were near me at first, got spooked and walked away. I was probably wearing my orange fleece jacket which I've noticed has that effect on wildlife.

I'm making the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving so I did a test run of a recipe which includes celery root. I've never had celery root before, probably because it's really fucking expensive ($5/lb for a damn root vegetable). Anyway, the taste panel approved it and I can go ahead with the scaled-up the operation. I have to make something else, too, but I haven't decided what.

On an entirely unrelated note, here is a whimsical painting job on an unlikely building in an unlikely place, a factory building in the Queensgate industrial area:

19 November 2008

Some Truth in all Things?

I was talking with a friend one day back in college and he mentioned that he recently made one of his regular visits to a fortune teller acquaintance. I laughed because he was a fellow philosophy major and seeking easy answers is basically a code violation.

"There's truth in all things." he said.
"Truth in all things?" I chuckled.
"Some truth in all things," he clarified.

Years later a friend and I went to the Bonbonerie tea room for breakfast one morning (note to men: this is a good spot for ladies in touch with their Martha Stewart side and men who want dessert but want to call it "breakfast").

A palm reader had set up at one of the tables. I was easily convinced to get a reading. She didn't say anything that blew my mind but she did impress us with a few insightful comments about my interests and abilities. I impressed her by saying that I once read it is proper procedure to read the right hand for men and the left hand for women.

I don't believe the palm reader is there anymore but those seeking just a little bit of truth and certainly not much more than "some" can go across the street from Vinyl to Aquarius Star where you can pay $20 for what I am predicting would be the least satisfying quickie ever.

17 November 2008

From Their Lips to Your Ears

Seen in Northern Kentucky:

Convinced? There are certainly worse people to emulate.

14 November 2008

This Week in Strange Signage

I think we have two violations here. First is unnecessary quotation marks, which, now that I think about it, seem to be quite the vogue mode in amateur signage these days. Second is the statement about boiled frogs which makes no sense to me. Then again, this sign wasn't meant for me so who knows?

10 November 2008

Blessed Are the Rifle-makers

If you're a patriotic American you not only want firearms, you want: (1) American-made firearms that (2) acknowledge our Christian savior.

So I was pleased to see this ad in today's Enquirer:

Comment challenge: make your own "J. Peterman" version of this ad.

08 November 2008

A Question for Joe the Plumber

Like most people, one of the things I do when I go to someone's home is lift off the lid to their toilet tank. If I'm going to get to know people I need to know what kind of people they are. Are they traditional balloon-ballcock people or modern, progressive floating-ballcock people? What am I dealing with? Knowing this can prevent awkward moments later.

But I have to admit, when I saw this, I was flummoxed. What is this?

05 November 2008

Now it Actually Feels Like a New Millennium

Three moments stood out for me last night.

The first was when I saw Driehaus leading Chabot. Within the hour he would be projected the winner and by the time I shut my eyes he was my new representative. This change is long overdue. Chabot is a textbook example of what happens to the weak-minded after years of willing participation in partisan politics. He is completely detached from reality and lives in the simpleminded world of talking points. Congratulations to Steve Driehaus and thank you for sticking a fork in Steve Chabot. He's done.

The second moment was when Obama took PA. Then FL. Then OH. Then VA. Holy fucking shit, I thought to myself... what the hell is going on here? Being a part of history is one thing, but taking a moment and slam-dunking it into the history books is a whole notha level. Sorry, John McCain, but you got your ass smoked by a one-term Ivy League brainiac who ran a well-planned, thoughtfully strategized and well executed campaign. I guess there really IS something more valuable than experience, eh?

The third moment was when Obama took the stage at Grant Park. I'll be honest, I haven't been a passenger on the Obama love train. The way I see it, the U.S. will have a black President at some point. And someday, a woman. Someday a black woman. Someday an asian, a paraplegic, an ugly person, etc. If this country lasts long enough, these things will happen.

The only issue is whether they will happen in my lifetime. But just because they happen doesn't make them great moments. They are historical milestones, yes, but not necessarily great ones. I cite Nancy Pelosi as an example. When she became the first female Speaker, we put a check mark next to that historical milestone. But will history record her as a great Speaker, someone worthy of being "the first?" No.

Contrast that with Jackie Robinson. If he was an ordinary player he would be a historical footnote, someone whose name pops up in trivia games. But his name is famous because he was not only "the first," he was also great. His achievements HAD to be recognized, respected, admired, and ultimately, honored.

It remains to be seen how Obama will fill those shoes which, though never worn, are immense with the burden of hope and expectation. But as I listened to his speech, I found myself reviewing the past 18 months and realizing-- or at least believing-- that we really are in the presence of greatness.

I'll be damned, I actually have hope.

03 November 2008

Exotic Dancing at Findlay Market

This was a nice Sunday afternoon surprise. A small group of dancers and drummers put on a show. It was lucky that the weather cooperated; by this coming weekend the cold temperatures might be here to stay.

I don't know the genre of dance because I missed the beginning. But the theme of the dance in this picture is something about nails. If you look closely (click on it to get the BIG JPEG) you can see the long fingernails.


What did you do on Halloween? Scare little kiddies?

Pshaw. I frightened a WHOLE BUILDING:

30 October 2008

Compare and Contrast

In one corner we have earth-loving peaceniks in their hybrid cars sharing bumper-sticker hugs (this one spotted at the Art Museum):

And in the other corner we have ignorant, racist fuckheads who probably couldn't find their own assholes if it weren't for the stink (do I need to add they're not at an art museum?):


28 October 2008

Clark Street Gets Goosed

Clark St. won't take them very far south but I guess this means that winter is just 'round the corner...

And geese don't belong here anyway because Cincinnati is...

27 October 2008

Lunch at Flo's Plate Full of Soul

I stopped in at Flo's last week for lunch. I can't remember the address but it's across the BMV on Court Street.

They have some tables outside (or at least they did when it was warmer) but there is no seating inside so it is essentially a carry-out operation.

I walked in around 11:30 and there were a few people waiting for their orders but no line. I had looked at the menu on the outside window so I knew what I wanted. I had to wait a couple minutes for "Mr. Flo" to get off the phone first, though. He was taking an order but it was obviously from someone he knew because he was also chatting a bit. I was mildly miffed at this because it reflected a bit of ignorance (or lack or concern) about customers' need to get lunch quickly and get back to work.

When he was ready, I ordered the chicken leg quarter, which is one of four items on the lunch menu. Catfish, whiting, and wings are the other three. He told me that they recently eliminated the leg quarter because nobody ordered it.


Now I was in a quandary. I usually don't like to order food that I make at home, but I went ahead and ordered the catfish sandwich with a side of mac & cheese.

I was told that if I got the side dish I would not get the bread. In other words, I could get a catfish sandwich only or I could get catfish with a side item. Whatever. Intercourse the bread and give me the mac & cheese. I asked to make sure I still get tartar sauce with the fish.

My order took about ten minutes to complete. While waiting, I contemplated their strange decision to curtain off the view of the food prep area. It's behind glass windows, but they put up curtains to keep it out of view. I couldn't get past the fact that this decision is 180 degrees opposite of what one would do to give customers confidence in food preparation. I don't know... maybe Mr. Flo was talking on the phone while this decision was being made.

I got my food, checked it, and took it back to the office. It came with a piece of cornbread which was nothing special. No pieces of corn or jalapenos or anything else. The mac & cheese was disappointing, partly because it was cold. I should have reheated it.

The catfish was very good. It was perfectly cooked (not at all greasy) and well-seasoned. Their dredge is good. I was disappointed to find that they don't make their own tartar sauce. They toss in one pre-packaged packet which is not enough for the two fillets.

Summation: The fish was good but everything else was disappointing. It was basically what I would expect from a decent cafeteria. My recommendation is to try the cobblers, which I suspect is Flo's real focus. Then write your own review so I know if there's a reason to go back.

26 October 2008


25 October 2008

Dale Mallory Courting Squatter Vote?

The irony was overwhelming... I had to stop and take this shot of the streetfront across from the site of the proposed CityLink development.

Dale Mallory was unceremoniously dispatched from the West End community council because he backed CityLink (among other reasons). Residents feared that establishing CityLink would bring OTR problems to the West End residents in proximity to CityLink. And now there are Mallory signs on the buildings closest to CityLink.

Moreover, these buildings are abandoned, boarded up and basically waiting for "blight" designation. Strange place to put campaign signs, it seems to me. I suppose there's no such thing as bad visibility in politics.

22 October 2008

Disco Infarct-o

You're out on a weekend. You're having fun. Suddenly, someone nearby collapses clutching their chest. You think, "Hey, I was CPR certified back in college, I should do something!"

So you start CPR. How many chest compression per minute should you do?

If you said 60, you're just like the rest of us who need to download the update. The current recommendation is 100. And the Bee Gees can help:

In a small but intriguing study from the University of Illinois medical school, doctors and students maintained close to the ideal number of chest compressions doing CPR while listening to the catchy, sung-in-falsetto tune from the 1977 movie "Saturday Night Fever."

The American Heart Association recommends 100 chest compressions per minute, far more than most people realize, study author Dr. David Matlock of the school's Peoria, Illinois, campus said Thursday.

He found that "Stayin' Alive," which has a way of getting stuck in your head anyway, can help with that.

His study involved 15 students and doctors and had two parts. First they did CPR on mannequins while listening to the song on iPods. They were asked to time chest compressions with the song's beat.

It gets better:

It turns out the American Heart Association has been using the song as a training tip for CPR instructors for about two years.

They learned of it from a physician "who sort of hit upon this as a training tool," said association spokesman Dr. Vinay Nadkarni of the University of Pennsylvania.

And even better, still:

Dr. Matthew Gilbert, a 28-year-old medical resident, was among participants in the University of Illinois study this past spring. Since then, he said, he has revived real patients by keeping the song in his head while doing CPR.

Gilbert said he was surprised the song worked as well as it did.

"I was a little worried because I've been told that I have a complete lack of rhythm," he said. Also, Gilbert said he's not really a disco fan.

He does happen to like a certain Queen song with a similar beat.

"I heard a rumor that 'Another One Bites the Dust' works also, but it didn't seem quite as appropriate," Gilbert said.

21 October 2008

Seen this Week Around Town

Stickers/signs seen on cars:


That was Zen... this is Tao

Jan. 20, 2009: End of an Error

20 October 2008

Mural on McMicken

Detail of a mural in a playground on McMicken, just around the corner from Findlay Market.

14 October 2008

The Health Care Issue Nobody Talks About


To be honest, it is more than a health care issue. R&D is an economic issue that is relevant across the economic spectrum. Anyone who is familiar with DARPA knows how R&D in one area can have significant outcomes in a totally different area. The space program is another example.

There are two ways to use tax dollars: expenditure and investment. The "Bridge to Nowhere" was expenditure. The Iraq war is expenditure. Medical research, DARPA and NASA are investments. Their work is characterized by long-term gains. If more "Joe six-packs" understood this basic concept they might be able to resist swooning every time a pseudoconservative rockhead promises less taxes and less spending as the cornerstone of a pseudoeconomic plan.

Yeah, I'm not holding my breath, either.

For a good essay on the importance of funding basic research, I point you to Nobel laureate Roger Kornberg's* piece in the latest issue of Stanford Medicine Magazine:

The major medical advances — X-rays, antibiotics, magnetic resonance imaging, genetic engineering, to name a few — have one thing in common: They resulted from discoveries made in the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, not prevention or cure of disease. The lesson of this experience is counterintuitive. To solve a difficult problem in medicine, do not study it directly, but rather pursue a curiosity about nature and the rest will follow. Seek knowledge and understanding in all fields, from physics to biology. Do basic research.

But almost as soon as this lesson of the past is learned, it’s forgotten.

The problem is not only scientific but also political. The support of basic research has traditionally come from government rather than the private sector, and for good reason. The time line is very long — basic problems take decades to solve. Only the public, with a lifelong interest, will support such an undertaking. Industry, with a short-term interest and eye on the bottom line, can hardly be expected to do so... Government clearly has a special responsibility and a unique role to play.

Some 50 years ago, in perhaps the most farsighted action of any legislative body in history, the United States Congress established the National Institutes of Health to fund basic biomedical research. The genius of the NIH lay in its funding mechanism. In contrast with the time-honored system in Europe, where support flows from governments to universities to departments to professors and finally to researchers, the NIH provides support directly to researchers. Proposals are submitted by individuals, young and old alike, and are judged by panels of peers. The NIH is a form of scientific free enterprise, a marketplace of ideas, with selection on the basis of merit.

The return on this investment by the government has been huge... The annual budget for cancer research today is only $5 billion, less than 10 percent of our annual expenditure on soft drinks, less than a week of the war in Iraq.

So far, neither of the leading presidential contenders has taken a position or even responded to invitations from scientific organizations to be informed about the problem. The public has to understand, and to convey to Congress and the candidates, the importance of science and the NIH. Life-saving discoveries hang in the balance, and we must, especially in economic hard times, protect the basis for future prosperity.

(* Roger Kornberg's father, Arthur Kornberg, was also a Nobel laureate)

13 October 2008

Homegrown Tomatoes!

They may not look delicious, but they are!

10 October 2008

The Best of All Possible Scooter Worlds

From the Pulse-Downtowner:

A pilot program to be set in motion before fall ends will create five sets of 10-hour, reduced-rate parking meters Downtown for those who two-wheel with motorcycles, motor scooters and mopeds. And the city wants to know the best spots for parking these vehicles.

The deadline to do so is Sunday, Oct. 12, at www.cincinnati-oh.gov/twowheeler.

"We'll install new spots at the top five vote-getters this fall!"

"The City is responding to our customers living and working Downtown who have asked for more parking for two-wheeled vehicles," said Eileen Enabnit, director of Transportation and Engineering, in a statement about the program. "Additionally, accommodating scooters and motorcycles helps the city become greener."

Little known fact: motorcycles emit 80 times the pollutants that cars do. So no, they're not greener. But scooters are, which is a big reason why me and several people I know are considering buying one. And greater availability of parking makes it an even better option.

07 October 2008

Busken Cookie Presidential Poll: Obama

I saw the poll numbers posted on the wall when I stopped in last week:

Busken, during every presidential election, makes batches of iced cookies that each sport the face of one of the two candidates.

Busken Bakery’s candidate cookie poll, a local election staple since 1992, is tracking 1,996 Obama cookies sold, compared with 1,159 John McCain cookies... putting Barack Obama ahead this presidential election, by about 70 percent [63% to 37%, to be precise].

Busken has been selling the Obama/McCain cookies for about three weeks, so the poll has a way to go. But it should be watched closely.

“We’ve never been wrong,” Busken said.

05 October 2008

18 and Life to Go

UC deals with the sad reality:

...the University of Cincinnati Police Department is scheduled to offer active shooter training beginning Fall Quarter.

Active shooter training will show students, faculty and staff some of the different options they have if there is a gunman on campus...

The training is set to be hands-on and participants will be able to react to simulation gunshots heard in the building or a gunman in the room. By practicing different options when gunshots are fired, you may be able to better gauge how much reaction time you have.

“The whole situation just happens so fast,” Barge said. “It used to be we would wait for SWAT, or wait for a negotiator. Columbine was over in seven minutes and Virginia Tech was over in eight. We can’t wait anymore.”

In the event of an on-campus emergency, the fire alarm system is able to make an announcement to a single building, a group of buildings or make a campus-wide announcement. Members of the UC community can also be notified through public safety e-mail alerts, text message alerts, Blackboard and through Advanced Regional Traffic Interactive Management & Information System (ARTIMIS), electronic signs on Interstates 71 and 75.

Utilizing the existing help phones on campus, UCPD is working to develop a reverse 9-1-1 system. In an emergency situation, the blue lights on help phones would turn on and students would be able to pick up the phone to hear a recorded message alerting them of the situation...

In a completely unrelated and not at all relevant story, here are NRA contributions to local members of Congress for the current election cycle:

Boehner: 3500
Chabot: 5950 (54,000 career)
Schmidt: 2000

Voinovich: 0
Brown: 0

02 October 2008

The Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding

As if being a mother isn't tough enough, here's more to think about from the latest issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. But first, an interesting factoid to share at happy hour:

Breastfeeding infants are technically the highest members of the food chain. Strictly speaking I suppose this would apply not just to infants but to anyone feeding off breast milk. In any case, humans are at the top of the food chain because we eat everything else. But since the food source for breastfeeding infants is a human at the top of the food chain, the infants are considered to be above adult humans. Strange but true.

And now the crux:

The health benefits to the infant of breastfeeding have been amply documented; numerous studies strongly indicate significantly decreased risks of infection, allergy, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and various cancers in both childhood and adulthood.

Nevertheless, given the tendency for persistent organic pollutants (POPs), pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants to accumulate in human milk, researchers and parents alike are asking whether the nursling's exposure to these pollutants might reduce or even override the health benefits.

The POPs, which include polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and certain organochlorine pesticides such as DDT, all tend to become magnified in the food chain over time. Breastfeeding infants are thus the final target of POPs.

In recent years, additional chemicals have been detected in human milk, among them bisphenol A, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexachlorobenzene, and the cyclodiene pesticides, which include dieldrin, heptachlor, and chlordane. Residues of many banned POPs persist in women's milk.

Yet, the literature to date supports the idea that the benefits of breastfeeding generally outweigh the hazards posed by infant exposure to POPs in human milk.

...documented adverse effects on breastfeeding infants—such as impairment of psychomotor development and other neurodevelopmental outcomes—have been seen primarily in cases of high-dose poisonings in which the mother became clinically ill.

...up to 90% of human exposure to the persistent and lipid-soluble dioxin-like chemicals, including certain PCBs, PCDDs, and PCDFs, is attributed to dietary intake... Meat eaters in general tend to harbor more POPs than people eating predominantly vegetarian diets.

Nursing mothers can also reduce the level of POPs in their milk by maintaining their weight to avoid mobilizing fat stores, says Jenny Pronczuk, a WHO medical officer ... who adds that reducing emissions of POPs into the environment is the long-term solution to this problem...

Because of human milk's nutritional, immunologic, anticancer, and detoxifying effects, Wang, Rogan, and other environmental scientists encourage women to continue the practice of breastfeeding even in the context of widespread pollution. "At the same time," says Pronczuk, "breastfeeding mothers should be helped and advised on how to avoid alcohol and drugs and remove themselves from polluted environments, while also creating healthier, safer, and cleaner environments for themselves and their children."

01 October 2008

Food Allergies and Food Labeling

I've read ingredient labels but never really noticed this. The following eight foods account for 90% of food allergies so the FDA requires that they be labeled in any foods which contain them:

Crustacean shellfish
Tree nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts)

People can be allergic to practically anything; I knew a kid in middle school who was allergic to a few dozen things. Just a few weeks ago I thought I was developing allergies to black dudes from the west side but it turned out I was just allergic to his dog (and apparently, only his dog).

My father has shellfish allergies. I am allergic to cats but not as a food item. I am not allergic to cashews but I don't like them.

29 September 2008

Advice for Childbearing Women: Eat Fish...

...but not too much. From a Harvard study:

The research, which looked at 25,446 children born to mothers participating in a Danish study between 1997 and 2002, found that children whose mothers ate the most fish during pregnancy (about 2 ounces a day on average) were more likely to have better motor and cognitive skills. Meanwhile, those whose mothers ate the least fish had the lowest developmental scores at 18 months of age.

Children who were breast-fed for longer periods of time also scored better, especially at 18 months. Breast milk also contains omega-3 fatty acids.

And from the Food Standards Agency:

Women of child bearing age, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, and girls, can eat up to two portions of oily fish a week.

Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids ("oily fish"): mackerel, smelt, lake trout, herring, sardines, anchovies, albacore tuna and salmon.

Fish that are highest in mercury and should NOT be eaten by pregnant/lactating women: shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

Fish that are somewhat high in mercury and should rarely be eaten: grouper, tuna, orange roughy, marlin, red snapper.

27 September 2008

Skip the Box Lunch at Fuji House

Fuji House is a new restaurant in Hyde Park Plaza. I had lunch there last week.

When you enter, you have two dining options, the hibachi grill menu or the regular menu. Since there were only two of us, I suggested the regular menu. The hibachi show seems more fun with a tableful.

We both ordered the same thing, the spicy chicken box lunch. While waiting we agreed the space is well designed and well decorated.

The spicy chicken is a generous portion of sauteed chicken and onions. And no, it is not spicy. The flavor was okay, nothing great. The real issue was the chicken, which was a bit dry and tough.

The box lunch comes with three sushi rolls which are not even worth mentioning. It also comes with what I guessed was a piece of fried plaintain puree. That was good, actually.

Overall, we were disappointed. We were hoping for something a little bit special but what we got was very average. My companion also warns that the pepper shaker seemed to be filled with something that is not regular pepper. She is a picky eater and was especially disappointed in Fuji House and said she'd never go back. I might go back, but only with a group of people for the hibachi.

Top Nerds Endorse Obama

Not just ordinary nerds... Nobel Prize-winning nerds. Sixty-one of them signed a letter of endorsement (pdf file):

The country urgently needs a visionary leader who can ensure the future of our traditional strengths in science and technology and who can harness those strengths to address many of our greatest problems: energy, disease, climate change, security, and economic competitiveness.

We are convinced that Senator Barack Obama is such a leader...

During the administration of George W. Bush, vital parts of our country's scientific enterprise have been damaged by stagnant or declining federal support. The government's scientific advisory process has been distorted by political considerations. As a result, our once dominant position in the scientific world has been shaken and our prosperity has been placed at risk. We have lost time critical for the development of new ways to provide energy, treat disease, reverse climate change, strengthen our security, and improve our economy.

We especially applaud his emphasis during the campaign on the power of science and technology to enhance our nation's competitiveness. In particular, we support the measures he plans to take – through new initiatives in education and training, expanded research funding, an unbiased process for obtaining scientific advice, and an appropriate balance of basic and applied research – to meet the nation's and the world's most urgent needs.

Senator Obama understands that Presidential leadership and federal investments in science and technology are crucial elements in successful governance of the world's leading country.

Thoughts: It's good to see the scientific community speaking out but it should go the whole nine yards. The Presidency is one branch and it is HIGHLY overrated in terms of importance. Most of the nitty gritty stuff that effects our daily lives happens in Congress and at the state and local level.

The scientific community should make a concerted effort to focus on all branches of government at all levels. It should demand that the media ask relevant questions. It should expect candidates to be knowledgeable about science & technology. It should promote and support scientists running for office.

There are enough nutball special interests with way too much influence. It's time for the scientific community to tilt the seesaw back towards sense and reason.

23 September 2008

Anticipating the Result of Ohio's Smoking Ban

Smoking bans are everywhere because the evidence is overwhelming that secondary exposure carries potential health risks. This excerpt from the New England Journal of Medicine gives the bottom line (note: cotinine is a metabolite of nicotine):

The urinary cotinine levels of nonsmokers who lived with smokers were higher than those of nonsmokers who did not, increasing with the combined daily cigarette consumption of smokers in the family. The urinary cotinine values of nonsmokers who worked with smokers were also higher than those of nonsmokers who did not, increasing with the number of smokers in the workroom. The presence of smokers in both the home and the workplace also increased the cotinine levels... We conclude that the deleterious effects of passive smoking may occur in proportion to the exposure of nonsmokers to smokers in the home, the workplace, and the community.

For a smoking ban is to be effective, it must result in a decrease in environmental nicotine. This is easy to measure because nicotine only comes from tobacco and is not normally present in air. But to see the change, measurements would have to be made before the ban took place as well as after.

As it turns out, this was done in Spain, which instituted a smoking ban in 2006. Results of the study:

The median decrease in nicotine concentration ranged from 60.0% in public premises to 97.4% in private areas. Nicotine concentrations were also markedly reduced in bars and restaurants that went smoke-free (96.7%) and in the no-smoking zones of venues with separate spaces for smokers (88.9%). There were no significant changes in smoking zones or in premises allowing smoking, including discotheques and pubs.

This study shows that smoking bans reduce ambient nicotine levels. Reducing ambient nicotine levels reduces the public health threat posed by secondhand smoke. From this we can anticipate Ohio's smoking ban to reduce the public health risks of secondhand smoke in the workplace and community.

20 September 2008

The Times They Are A-Changing

OTR is on the cusp of change. Two weeks ago appeared this missive from OTR residents which was echoed on Building Cincinnati, Just Past Central and Cincinnati Blog. Several weeks before that I posted about this article in the Pulse-Downtowner. And yesterday the Business Courier published the article "With disproportionate number of social services, Over-The-Rhine also grapples with concentration of crimes."

These are a few examples of the increased attention OTR has been getting from the public, the media, city council and the business community. I think the key difference now versus years ago is the business community. The business community has been making Cincinnati its bitch for about a century. When it wants results, it gets them.

Now that 3CDC, PNC Bank, Western-Southern, etc. are invested in the OTR market, the world will move with them. There is every reason to believe that sometime in the near future, OTR will start looking significantly different from year to year. The concentration of social service agencies will diminish. The crime, drugs and litter will diminish. Socioeconomic diversity will increase. Businesses will move in. Streetcars will roll along. And Washington Park will morph from a place to drive by and witness society at its most pathetic to a place where workers and residents eat their lunch and walk their corgis.

How the city will get there is uncertain, but the first step is for all parties to recognize the problem. That has finally happened. The second step is moving towards solutions, which is happening as we speak. The second-and-a-half step is to marginalize the Smithermans who can be guaranteed to try and prevent progress by playing the race card and fomenting opposition based on emotion rather than sense. I hope council, businesses and residents discuss this and prepare a proactive plan to derail it with-- pardon the poorly placed expression-- extreme prejudice.

I also hope social service agencies can deal with this as an opportunity to re-invent themselves rather than as a threat to their existence (like OTR, now that I think about it). If they can provide new models for their services that the community believes will produce results, they will get the chance to follow through.

Meantime, I think I'll start scouting condos...

Seen This Week Around Town

At Vine St. Kroger: a mother with two young sons, both shirtless. She walked right by the manager, who said they can't be in the store like that and would have to wait out front. "But it's his birthday!" she replied.

In front of King Wok, Clifton: a cute asian girl in a nice summer dress being chatted up by two guys. Then a third guy darts through traffic from the other side of the street and approaches her. "I love you, I think you're beautiful and I want to marry you!" he tells her. It was a great start to her week, I'm sure.

At various dead stoplights during power outage: Six cars driving straight through without stopping, all of them SUVs, three of the drivers talking on cell phones.

At Liberty & Central: A yellow, three-wheeled motorcycle. Two wheels in front, one in the rear.

Ignore the Top of My Blog

At the top of my blog there is an email address. For a time, it worked. Earlier this summer, the provider rescinded the service. So it no longer works.

I have a new email, but for some reason Blogger didn't change the text up there on the bar.

So if you want to email me, I'm now on Yahoo! The name is westender314159.

The number makes sense, just think about it for a second.

18 September 2008

Bisphenol-A Reveals Flawed FDA (again)

As everyone except those without power has probably heard, bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the most widely used plastic compounds in the world. It is a common element in plastic bottles and the inside of tin cans.

There are three problems with BPA:

1) It leeches out.
2) Experiments demonstrate it has physiological effects at levels currently present in humans.
3) The FDA said BPA is safe.

Let's take the last one first. To be blunt, the FDA is a joke. Henry Waxman ways it better:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration appears to be giving priority to projects that benefit the pharmaceutical industry rather than helping consumers, a top Democratic lawmaker said on Wednesday.

A 2007 list of top projects includes plans to offer advice to companies on promoting products, as well as guidance on offering reprints of journal articles to physicians...

The agency also planned to change its regulations to protect device makers from lawsuits as long as their products are FDA-approved with a so-called preemption clause.

"All appear to prioritize industry desires over consumer protection," Waxman wrote.

The FDA, like most of government, is more focused on corporate special interests than the public interest. If you back one political issue in your life it should be this: campaign finance reform.

But the FDA's corporate bias does not explain why it deemed BPA safe. After all, it tested the compound. What is the difference between the FDA's science and everyone else's?

The answer is toxicologists' perspective that "the dose makes the poison." If a chemical is dangerous, it will be more dangerous at higher levels. So toxicologists typically test chemicals in a high dosage range.

The problem: many chemicals, especially those that mimic hormones, can have physiological effects at both low and high levels. Sometimes the effect is completely opposite; it will have one effect at low doses, nothing at moderate doses, and the opposite effect at high doses.

So testing at only high doses does not result in a complete assessment. When the FDA tested BPA, they tested it only at levels much higher than what is found in our bodies. And they found nothing. When scientists like UC's Nira Ben-Jonathan studied it, they used it at levels found in humans. And they found something:

The researchers exposed some of the tissue to estradiol, a natural form of human estrogen, and some to bisphenol A. Both treatments suppressed the release of the protective hormone adiponectin. Adiponectin is secreted by fat cells and protects against the suite of conditions that can result in heart attacks and type 2 diabetes.

My plan: In the lab, I remember we had some glass bottles with a plastic coating on the outside. It didn't prevent breakage, but it prevented glass from flying all over the place. I'm going to look for a few of those.

Obligatory Power Outage Story Post

Sunday morning I drove north to my parents' home for a lunch party. It was supposed to be only family but as usual my mom lost control and it ended up being 37 people. While setting up the Heineken (in cans) my dad told me how it was going to get windy, and then windier.

It did indeed get windier and windier as the afternoon progressed. The bending trees and flying leaves provided exciting diversion during commercials in the Bengals game. Soon after halftime the cable went out. Since my parents have the Time Warner bundle, the phone and internet also went out.

Around 5 p.m. everyone left and I stuck around to help clean up. In the fifteen minutes between the time that everyone left and I was ready to leave, three trees fell down and blocked the road. No egress possible.

About an hour later the power went out. Me, my parents, and two unlucky guests who didn't make it out in time were stranded for the night. We amused ourselves with a game of Scrabble while daylight lasted and then just sat around. I had a radio headset with me so I was able to listen to WLW and give them periodic reports. We talked about how close we came to having 37 people, including a dozen kids, stranded in the house with us.

Later in the evening we heard a truck drive down the road, turn around, then drive back up. This was exciting because it meant the trees were cleared. Unfortunately, by that time a fourth tree had fallen across the driveway so we were still stranded. I told my parents they needed to call someone with a chainsaw to cut up the tree the next morning. They called the three Mexican brothers who came the next morning at 10:30 and cleared the tree.

I called work at 9 a.m. but the phone didn't work so I made the reasonable conclusion that the power and phone were out. I told my parents that they likely would not get power until late in the week and they needed to buy flashlights, batteries, candles and ice. So I took mom out and we bought all that stuff. The gas stations had lines and the restaurant parking lots were filled. On the way back I got a call from a co-worker who said the office manager was wondering where I was and sent two people to my apartment to make sure I was okay.

What? People are at the office? I realized that I mis-dialed earlier and dialed a nonexistent extension. I dropped off mom and went to work. It turned out that the office, like much of downtown (including my apartment), never lost power.

My folks' power came back on Monday evening, so they got a break there. Some people who live within a mile or so still don't have power. But they all have candles and flashlights ready for the next midwestern hurricane.

Ohio Statistic: Divorce-to-Marriage Ratio

Divorces per 100 marriages in 2006:

Ohio: 55

Hamilton: 49
Butler: 60
Warren: 63
Clermont: 73

State lowest: Erie county (NE Ohio), 5; Brown county also low.
State highest: Lawrence county (SE Ohio, across from W. Va.) is consistently the highest, 138.

14 September 2008

Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator

It was just a matter of time before someone came up with this.

As we know and are still trying to understand, Sarah Palin named her children Track, Trig, Bristol, Willow and Piper. I ran track, studied trig, and have been meaning to visit Bristol, England. I've always thought the willow is a fine tree and I've flown in a Piper cub.

With the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator, anyone can translate their normal name into Palinese.

For more fun, try all the candidates names (yes, including Sarah Palin).

(from; via)

Ohio Statistic: Births to Unwed Mothers, 2006

In 2006, 40.4% of all births in Ohio were to unwed mothers. The stats for our area:

Hamilton: 50
Butler: 37.4
Warren: 18.1
Clermont: 32.2

The lowest in the state was Holmes county (NE central OH, Amish country), 8.6
The highest was Clark county (SW central OH, Springfield, Wittenberg U.), 50.8

(from Ohio Dept. of Health statistics)

13 September 2008

Chili Taste Test: Empress Chili

I haven't had much time to post lately since I've been working on Mavericke, my bio-opera about John McCain.

But I did begin my canned chili/cheese coney taste testing this week. For some reason I've had cheese coney pangs the past few weeks. I got cans of Empress, Skyline, and another one I can't remember right now. And then, thinking that I could do better than an ordinary hot dog, I bought smoked metts.

Important: do NOT make coneys with metts. It does not work.

So I went to IGA to buy a pack of the highly regarded Hebrew National dogs but they don't carry them. But I ran into a friend outside and talked with her so it wasn't a wasted trip. I'll try Kroger later today.

Even thought my coney was fundamentally flawed because of the mett, I did sample Empress chili after many years and liked it. It's very similar to Skyline. I will definitely stock a few cans for late-night chili fixes following Monday Night Football.

Long-time Cincinnatians may remember the Empress Chili parlor in Mt. Lookout Square many years ago. It was in the space now used by Ramundo's (or maybe Ruthai's). I also remember buying a 1-gal container of Empress chili from the grocery store several years ago and taking it back to Chicago when I lived there. I wonder if they still sell that.

09 September 2008

Is It Really Organic?

Here is what I've learned about "organic."

My understanding is that there is no official national standard to qualify something as "organic." I think basically anyone can call their product "organic" and it seems fairly obvious that many producers do exactly that as a marketing tactic.

The USDA doesn't even have the resources to carry out it's current mission, let alone monitor national and international foods for organic qualification. To do that it would need more money, which means more taxes, which will kill Jesus. But they did the next best thing, which is to accredit other organizations which do the job of certifying whether producers meet "organic" standards.

So there are certified and uncertified organic foods, and this is what to look for. Certified organic products will say "certified by XXXX" on the product whereas uncertified products will not, although they may be described as "organic" on the label.

It's not a perfect system. There are many, many certifiers and their standards may differ. Furthermore, there are certifiers who have not been accredited by the USDA but still certify products unofficially.

The database of accredited certifiers is here, if you want to go the whole nine yards and keep the list on your PDA for ready access while shopping.

Other than that just do the next best thing and look for "certified by XXXX" on the label.

Seen This Week Around Town

Over the weekend I saw something I've often dreamed existed but never seen: a tricked out Rolls Royce. It was in the West End, two blocks from home.

Returning from a meeting yesterday morning, I saw a girl-- maybe a teenager but no older than early 20s-- on an OTR corner. She was standing, her body and head spastically jerking back and forth and side to side almost like being sporadically juiced by electricity. While doing this she was kind of rotating but somehow not losing her balance. She was completely detached from reality. She looked baaaaad. We guessed meth and probably two or three other things.

I saw a Prius on the highway with the license plate "HIGH MPG."

WKRC Sucks Donkey Balls

It's true. WKRC, instead of televising the US Open finals like a normal CBS affiliate, chose to air a "special" broadcast of weatherman Tim Hendrick performing-- and I am not making this up-- science experiments for kids. So instead of watching one of the year's biggest sporting events and the only major tennis tournament in the U.S., one in which Roger Federer made history by winning his fifth straight title in spectacular fashion thus becoming the only man to win five straight titles in two different majors, I got to see a weatherman do tricks for kids.

Whomever made this decision is a maggot-infested heap of fetid, putrescent flotsam.

07 September 2008

The Election Year Drinking Game

The quadrennial drinking game Americans know as "the presidential election" can be a lot of fun if one has an equal commitment to intoxication and country. "Beer First!" as the Clark St. Blog delegates like to say.

When a candidate makes a promise... drink! Don't worry about getting too drunk and missing some promises, they'll repeat them again in the next election just like they did in the last election.

Here's a comparison of McCain's convention speech with Dubya's as only Jon Stewart can do it. The magic starts at about the 4:30 mark.


05 September 2008

U.S. Open Final Weekend

The Olympics were great, got me all goosed up for sports. Then the Bengals news started coming, one crazy thing after another. The U.S. Open came by just in time. There's so much to watch I can barely keep up. Thankfully we live in the age of DTV.

Based on what I've seen, I'd put Nadal as the odds-on favorite. Federer is just not the same player he was from 2003-2006. He's not moving as well and he's not hitting his shots as aggressively, especially when returning serve. He has serious problems with his return game. His backhand, which was a total joke at Wimbledon, still has problems.

I haven't yet watched the Djokovic-Roddick match so I don't know the result. But historically Federer always steamrolls Roddick. Djokovic could be a tougher opponent, especially if he starts going to the net. If he plays well he could definitely beat Federer.

Murray is playing very well but I expect Nadal to beat him and get to the final. I hope Federer makes it because I'd like to see how he handles (or fails to handle) Nadal in this slam final after two previous losses.

On the women's side I'd like to see Jankovic win a major. That would be one for each of the Serbs, icing on the cake of their great life stories.

04 September 2008

Thank You, Maria Bartiromo, for Making Me Laugh

Maria Bartiromo on Sarah Palin:

I don't think she would describe herself as a feminist, I think she would describe herself as a champion of women.

Thank You, GOP, for Wasting My Time

You know, I'm convinced that the best thing that can happen to the GOP is to have massive, humiliating defeats in every election at every level. Because that is probably the only thing that will lead them to fix their own house. And they need to fix their own house.

When I watched the Dem convention, I was impressed. It was not only watchable, but delivered the goods pretty well. Maybe it was because my expectations were so low, I figured.

After watching the RNC last night, I know my expectations of the GOP were too high. I expected something special. After all, they've got hurdles to jump: they have to follow a Dem convention that hit a home run, and they have to overcome a complete loser of a VP pick (you don't have to take my word for it).

And what did they offer? The same, tired old bullshit rhetoric they've been regurgitating for three decades. Unfuckingbelievable. To be fair, they did a good job of doing it; Giuliani was particularly potent punch of peppery pungency and Huckabee was a nice dollop of folksy white cream. But when you've been giving the same speech for 30 years, you get pretty good at it.

So if you missed it, here's the recap: the liberals control everything and if we don't fight them they will tax us to death and make everyone work for a European-style socialist government that will take away your guns and babies and give them to the UN. Anything you hear otherwise is misinformation from the liberal media. Also, DRILL NOW!!

Thank you, GOP, for wasting my time. Since your rhetoric is the same as the last 8 years, I'll assume your plans for governing are also the same.

03 September 2008

What is Campbell Brown Up To?

Sorry, English instructors... I meant to write "To what is Campbell Brown Up?"

Anyway, she must have done something because the number of hits my blog gets as a result of Campbell Brown searches has spiked this week. I presume it has something to do with the RNC.

Campbell Brown is by far the #1 search item that reaches this blog. This is a result of my posts, Campbell Brown Exposed and Campbell Brown Exposed, Pt. II.

Here's what surfers want to know about Campbell Brown; most of these searches have been repeated over and over in various forms over the past 15 months:

campbell brown's husband
campbell brown is she jewish
campbell brown republican
campbell brown sexist
support campbell brown

I don't know what she said, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it was something other than incisive wisdom. She-- like most of her mainstream media talking head colleagues-- is on TV only because she says what her producers tell her to say and looks cute doing it. Once either of those two things ceases to be, her marginal relevance as a news figure will subside into occasional appearances on daytime TV as "special correspondent."

Anyway, if someone out there reaches this post and wants to tell me what she said this time, that would be great.

02 September 2008

Oberlin: Carbon-free Commencement

Wow, talk about going the whole nine yards...

...Oberlin is trying to surpass the standard. Beginning last spring, students, faculty and staff joined together to form the Green Commencement/Reunion committee, which has reinvented the mentality surrounding the weekend.

...a highlight of the 2008 Commencement is a $5,000 donation from Bon App├ętit, the food services management company for the College, to offset the carbon emissions for the entire event.

Purchasing carbon offsets has become popular in recent years, though the mechanics of the process still mystify many. Basically, when an individual or an institution acts in a way that creates carbon emissions, they can pay an organization such as Carbonfund.org — Oberlin’s site of choice — and the money will go to projects that reduce atmospheric carbon, such as wind farms, solar fields and reforestation efforts.

Danielle Young, the interim executive director of the Alumni Association... designed a rideshare website where visitors can post their travel information and find carpools either from the airport or across several states... In addition, Young set up an online reservation system with the Cleveland Hopkins Airport, so as to avoid sending College vans every hour as she has done in the past.

The College is also renting hybrid cars for those who need assistance getting around campus during the event-filled weekend.

...the College will serve 25 to 30 percent local food on compostable corn plastic bioware. Diners can mop their lips with non-toxic paper napkins without any colored dyes. Thirsty visitors will notice that the 1,300 plastic bottles of water usually present at Commencement have been replaced with pitchers and glasses.

Pretty impressive. Gotta tip your hat to that kind of effort. But the best line in the article: "If we can make Commencement carbon neutral, the next step might be doing the same for Parents Weekend, Safer Sex Night and Drag Ball.”

No, mom and dad! That was last weekend! This is Safer Sex Night and I... um, made plans.

28 August 2008

Ignorance on School Boards, Vol. XXIII

Mason BOE member Jennifer Miller is a good Christian. She knows that challenging young minds to think for themselves could have disastrous consequences, like leading them to think for themselves. She knows that Satan spreads his Muslim homosexual agenda by many means, but among the most insidious is that implacable scourge upon the minds of good folk: award-winning literature.

Board member Jennifer Miller challenged one of the books, The Kite Runner, because she said it includes a rape scene and she questioned how it would be used in class discussions about religion.

"I don't think this book is appropriate for our community," Miller argued, adding it would be irresponsible to add the selection.

Miller said she is concerned about how teachers would lead discussions about religion... she was concerned about questions that could arise concerning whose side God would take in the novel. "I just wonder how Christians are going to be portrayed in that setting,"


So she recommends lowering expectations and avoiding challenging the students in order to safeguard her own religious bias. WTF? If this woman wants to be involved in education it should be in her church's Bible study, not in public schools.

The other BOE members didn't buy her thinly veiled religiosity and overruled her, 4-1.

Streetcar Study: "Economically Worthwhile"

Reported in the Business Courier:

A plan for a four-mile streetcar loop in Cincinnati has been vindicated by University of Cincinnati researcher George Vredeveld and associates, the university said Wednesday.

“The proposed streetcar system is economically worthwhile,” Vredeveld said in a news release.

Vredeveld said [consulting firm] HDR was “in the ballpark” with its average estimate of a $315.8 million economic impact over 35 years, and a conservative estimate of $186.8 million over that period.

And from HDR's publication Trends in Transit Financing: Using Local Funds for Streetcars:

It's difficult for streetcar systems to qualify for Federal Transit Authority funding because the criteria are focused on travel time savings for suburban commuters, not the need for effective downtown circulation. As a result, sponsors increasingly look to alternative methods of financing using local resources.

A startup first-phase streetcar line two to three miles in length (four to six track miles) can be expected to cost between $50 million and $100 million. If the line is strategically located, it may be possible to raise this amount entirely from local resources due to the strong real estate, business, tax generation, cost avoidance/savings and other benefits that can accrue along the line.

Existing property will increase in value, and key destination points will provide more incentive for new development, particularly residential growth. Routing should also access potential redevelopment areas, where urban redevelopment can be unlocked or enhanced through good urban circulation.

The presence of the line can be conservatively anticipated to increase the value of [property within three blocks] by at least 10 percent, even before factoring in new development. The jump in valuation might be two to three times the original cost of the line. Over the course of a decade or more the streetcar could add billions of dollars worth of new development.

From the mixed news dept.: The FTA is reviewing its funding criteria to consider streetcar ("Small Starts") systems but the final rules are probably 3-5 years away. Should Cincy wait a few years for FTA funding or go it alone and start building asap?

26 August 2008

How to Impress (non-acrophobic) Clients

Take them "up" to dinner.

Poverty, Violence and Occam's Razor

This news is no surprise to anyone who reads the science page now and then. Sadly, that rarely includes politicians and the special interests that support them. Much of this could have been prevented if there was a social and political commitment to make decisions based on scientific evidence instead of back-and-forth bickering between liberals and conservatives over social services, taxes and individual responsibility.

After studying the effects of childhood lead exposure for nearly 30 years, a University of Cincinnati researcher has found a positive correlation to violent criminal behavior and a deterioration of brain cells.

"We started the study in 1979 and recruited women who were pregnant or living in areas of Cincinnati that have high incidents of lead poisoning such as Over- the-Rhine, the West End, Avondale and some parts of Price Hill,"

"I've been involved with these kids for three decades and they ask me 'Why can't I hold onto a job? Why can't I maintain a stable domestic relationship?'" Dietrich said. "The argument is over; it's important for society as a whole to clearly put lead on the table as the culprit for problem children in the inner city who have low academic achievement."

The members of the study also had MRIs taken of their brains. With these images, researchers found a loss of brain cells in the part of the brain that affects the central nervous system. The brain cells lost are associated with the part of the brain that controls impulsive behavior, aggression, judgment and emotional regulation...

22 August 2008

Gift for the Person Who Has Everything...

... including hemorrhoids:


Not a suppository...not an ointment...but a new, clinically tested method of treating hemorrhoids with cold therapy. Hemorr-Ice® has a special cooling liquid sealed inside so it acts like an ice pack on your hemorrhoid . Simply apply the chilled inserter for two to five minutes. Hemorr-Ice® shrinks the blood vessels... reduces bleeding... and promotes healing of inflamed tissues. Provides fast relief from pain, itching and bleeding. Safe to use, as often as desired.

You think the post title doesn't make sense but it does. Check the link, it's an online gift shop.

20 August 2008

Foods I Would Recommend to Space Aliens

After reading this post at Wine Me, Dine Me about one foodie's opinion of the 100 foods every omnivore should try, I thought: well, that's fun and definitely a much better way to say "Here's a list of foods that prove I'm cosmopolitan and sophisticated yet still able to relate to the common person."

While I was watching the Olympics at night I thought of a slightly different list. Suppose a space alien came to me and said, "Greetings, earthling. I am [alien's name] and I will be stuck on your planet for approximately one lunar cycle because my spaceship ran out of fuel because the liberals on my planet refuse to allow off-planet drilling. I would like to use the time to research human food. How shall I proceed?"

These are the foods I would recommend to a space alien visitor:

1. caviar
2. chhole
3. biryani
4. spam/potted meat
5. chicken feet
6. flan
7. 'sweetbread'
8. menudo
9. kielbasa w/ onions, sauerkraut & peppers
10. prosciutto
11. yak milk/butter
12. lobster
13. Kobe beef
14. anchovies
15. vegemite
16. scorpion on a stick (acceptable substitute: roasted insects)
17. lutefisk
18. the following fruits when they're not grown on corporate farms: mango, guava, papaya, passion fruit, pomegranate, banana.

19. Edwardo's [Chicago deep-dish] pizza
20. haggis
21. blood
22. fried turkey
23. BBQ ribs from somewhere below the Mason-Dixon
24. falafel
25. kimchi
26. apple pie a la mode
27. a selection of raw milk cheeses

It's an excellent list and sure to please the alien, thereby avoiding the dreaded abduction-probe scenario that has plagued so many of our small town brethren.

Unfortunately, the primo caviar isn't legal anymore because they killed too many sturgeons. But who's going to arrest an alien?

18 August 2008

Weekend in Cleveland

Disclaimer: reading this post is probably a waste of your time.

I've never been to Cleveland until this weekend when I went up for a friend's wedding. It was a catholic ceremony but get this: the chapel (a) had comfortable chairs instead of pews, (b) was air conditioned, and (c) was bright. Moreover, the ceremony was only 30 minutes.

So if you want a Catholic ceremony without the... you know, Catholicism, do it at John Carroll University (sort of a Xavier on steroids).

After the ceremony we went to Sammy's which is in the gi-normous Legacy Mall (sort of a Newport on the Levee on steroids). The reception was nice and the groom's sister (who was best woman) gave a hilarious yet touching powerpoint presentation/toast.

When we walked into Sammy's I saw some cards for the Saffron Patch restaurant. This was a coincidence since I saw a commercial for it back at the hotel room. I asked my cousin (who lives in Cleveland) about it and she talked about how it's great and she knows the owner and goes there all the time. I have no idea what that means because she's full of shit half the time but I was excited about the appetizers nonetheless: tandoori chicken pieces, tandoori shrimp, and samosas.

Sadly, they sucked. The chicken stood out by being nothing special but the shrimp was terrible and the samosa, which I didn't even finish, was just dough-wrapped mashed potatoes. If you've had samosas, you know they can be a whole lot of spicy goodness. Not this time.

Worse, the bartender apparently mistook the words "vodka tonic" for "tonic tonic." I learned my lesson and subsequently got the wine which was very good. The vodka was Grey Goose which would have also been very good if I got any of it.

The dinner, in stark contrast to the appetizers, was excellent. Featured in the buffet was tandoori lamb chops, a specialty of Saffron Patch. They were delicious and probably the tenderest meat I've ever eaten. I went back three times.

Later that night during the dancing phase, the ghost of Oktoberfest possessed the DJ and he spun up the chicken dance. No idea where that came from but everybody loved it.

Because of a lingering foot injury, I returned to the hotel early along with a few couples who had to put their young 'uns to bed. In the elevator we met an excited woman who was anxious to get back to her room and watch Michael Phelps go for his eighth medal. It was good we ran into her because I thought his final race was Sunday, not Saturday. So I went back, elevated my leg, and watched the historic moment. Great stuff.

If you want to try tandoori lamb chops in Cleveland, go to Saffron Patch. Other than that this post was probably a waste of your time but I warned you, didn't I?

15 August 2008

Zola's: Good Pub Grub

I went to Zola's last week and ordered the cordon bleu burger with fries. What the server brought was a chicken cordon bleu sandwich with fries. This made no sense since she wrote down my order, including how I wanted the burger cooked. Nobody gets a medium-rare chicken!

The mystery was solved when the woman at the table behind us, who got her food at the same time, asked why she got a hamburger with cole slaw when she ordered chicken cordon bleu with cole slaw. So we switched sandwiches, everything was fine and my hungry stomach did not have to wait another ten minutes for my burger.

I've been to Zola's (Covington, MainStrasse) several times now and I can say with confidence that they make juicy and delicious burgers. The fries and slaw are good, too.

They offer several different kinds of burgers. So far the cordon bleu, featuring swiss cheese and a slice of ham, is my favorite. It's a good combo. And it's only $5 on "burger madness" Wednesdays.

I also went to Zola's for lunch one time and ordered the daily special, a steak sandwich. It was delicious. Salty, but delicious.

Zola's isn't fancy; except for three TVs tuned in to ESPN, it's pretty sparse. But the totality of my experience with Zola's indicates that they pay attention to what they're doing in the kitchen. They also have clean bathrooms and the staff is professional and easy on the eyes to boot.

Seen Around Town this Week

1) Two guys in a convertible smart car. They were all smiles, backing up the theory that this is a fun way to get around.

2) A woman riding a unicycle in Clifton.

3) A woman in an obvious drug haze ambling in the middle of Linn St.