26 February 2008

Watch the Debate, Have a Drink

There's only one way to watch Clinton and Obama debate, and that is with drinks readily available. I have heard of gatherings at Sully's and Arnold's, both at 8:30.

If you're the one perspicacious voter in OH-2 who thinks the Presidency is overrated and Congress is underrated, you can choose Victoria Wulsin's party/fundraiser at the Blue Wisp instead (details).

And if you want to watch a debate, but with somebody besides Clinton and Obama, you can watch the Wulsin-Black debate on CET at 7:00.

21 February 2008

Cincinnati Political Contributions to Presidential Candidates

To whom have Cincinnatians been giving their money? Below are contributions from the metro Cincinnati area to the Presidential candidates. The data was collected from OpenSecrets.org. The search was done for zip codes within city limits (so Indian Hill, Loveland, etc. are not included). I have separated the data by east and west sides (I thought it might be interesting), using I-75 as the dividing line. Some of the zip codes didn't go through, so the data may not be comprehensive.


ROMNEY 420,000
McCAIN 10,850
PAUL 3,100

RNC 138,070

CLINTON 144,500
OBAMA 102,750

DNC 3,550


ROMNEY 21,900
PAUL 3,101
McCAIN 2,700

RNC 5,750

OBAMA 8,106

DNC 200

Total given: 981,627 (94% from east side)
Total to Republicans: 695,771 (71%)
Total to Democrats: 285,856
Total to Romney: 441,900 (80% of direct contributions to R candidates)
Total to McCain: 13,550 (2.5%)
Total to Clinton: 150,250 (53% of direct contributions to D candidates)
Total to Obama: 110,856 (39%)

Use a Cell Phone, Lose Some Sperm

Can you fertilize me now?

A recent Cleveland Clinic study compared the sperm quality of subjects (men, mostly) with their cell phone usage.

Mean sperm motility, viability, and normal morphology were significantly different in cell phone user groups within two sperm count groups. The laboratory values of the above four sperm parameters decreased in all four cell phone user groups as the duration of daily exposure to cell phones increased.

The researchers concluded that cell phone usage decreases sperm count.

It is a highly questionable conclusion (at least based on the abstract). For one thing, there is no causative data to connect the dots. For another, there are too many other lifestyle variables that could be influencing the subjects’ physiology. It is possible that sperm count is decreased because of lifestyle, and cell phone usage is merely a component of that lifestyle.

This research might be the rogue spermatozoan that slipped through the zona pellucida of peer review. Premature conjecturation, if you will.

The study would be more convincing if the subjects’ phone usage was altered (increased or decreased, as applicable) and any corresponding sperm changes were noted. This would have provided the data and one variable to correlate it with.

So don’t put away your phone just yet. But if you're this woman, I guess it wouldn't hurt to buy some more minutes.

20 February 2008

Burger Review: Slatts Pub (Blue Ash)

Yesterday evening I went to Slatts Pub in Blue Ash. It is on Cooper Road, one block east of the Cooper-Kenwood intersection. We were in the mood for burgers and decided to try it.

Slatt's burgers: **1/2 (out of 4)


The service was good but perfunctory. People sure get jaded quickly in the food biz.

They don't have an array of specialty burgers. You can choose from a regular burger, black & bleu, bacon cheeseburger, or a "philly" burger (I forgot to ask). They also have a black bean veggie burger. We got the black & bleu and the bacon cheeseburger.

The burgers were good, but nothing special. They were cooked to order and the toppings (shredded lettuce & red onion) were fresh. The bleu cheese was decent but fell short on pungency. The cheddar was good, but I think a thicker slice would have helped. The bun was good, but nothing special. The fries were very good. The meal also came with biscuits and whipped butter which were good (but that's a lot of starch to put away in one sitting).

If you're in the area and jonesing for a burger, you'll be satisfied with Slatts. But it won't be one of the best you've had.

WaPo Editor Gives Inside Scoop on Iraq to UD Audience

More ridiculous examples of the Bush boondoggle:

The impressive zeal of Ambassador Paul Bremmer, the first American viceroy in Iraq, to help the Iraqi people made Chandrasekaran a believer. But Bremmer’s plan to occupy Iraq was faulty, and Chandrasekaran soon recognized why.

“One would think the White House would send the most qualified people to Iraq,” Chandrasekaran said. “But in many cases they sent the loyal and the willing.”

This is one of the main reasons American occupation of Iraq went wrong, according to Chandrasekaran. Instead of sending those fluent in Arabic or those with experience in the necessary fields, the White House leaned towards hiring conservatives.

Chandrasekaran heard multiple accounts from applicants seeking work in the American-occupied zone in Iraq, considered the “Green Zone,” in which they were questioned not on merit, but on political party affiliation. People were asked their political party, whether they voted for Bush in 2000, and in some cases, their views on capital punishment or abortion, he said.

...a 24-year-old with only an internship was sent to Baghdad to open a stock exchange. A physician helping Iraq’s medical field with a Ph.D. and a “wall of credentials” was replaced by a 60-year-old social worker. In Iraq, where the hospitals resemble the “fifth circle of Hell,” this social worker put an anti-smoking campaign at the top of his to-do list.

...they weren’t in touch with the reality of Iraq’s problems. For example, in a country like Iraq, where unemployment is between 40 and 50 percent, the logical solution would be creating more jobs. The Americans instead, in their air-conditioned Green Zone offices, decided to rewrite Iraq’s tax code.

When Americans noticed the traffic laws in Baghdad needed reform, they handed the job to a personal injury attorney from Maryland. He was not educated in traffic laws, so instead he went on the Internet, downloaded Maryland’s traffic code and translated it to Arabic. Iraq never fully put it into effect.

19 February 2008

Recent Developments in Animal Transparency

Transparent frogs:

A research team led by professor Masayuki Sumida at Hiroshima University’s Institute for Amphibian Biology has created a type of transparent frog whose internal organs are visible through its skin.

Professor Sumida says, “Transparent frogs will prove useful as laboratory animals because they make it easier and cheaper to observe the development and progress of cancer, the growth and aging of internal organs, and the effects of chemicals on organs.”

The researchers also say that by fusing the genes of fluorescent proteins to the frog’s genes, they can create frogs that glow.

And transparent fish:

Now scientists at Children's Hospital Boston have generated a transparent zebrafish by mating two specific strains: a breed that lacks reflective pigment, called roy orbison, with one that lacks black pigment, called nacre. The offspring had only yellow pigment in their skin, essentially looking clear. Richard White, a clinical fellow in the Stem Cell Program at Children's, named the new breed Casper...

18 February 2008

You Really CAN Get Everything on Ebay

Canadian man tries to auction his pancreas:

Meunier, who could not be reached for comment on Monday, was reportedly prompted to market his pancreas after visiting a Montreal hospital ahead of a pancreatectomy.

He balked when informed he couldn't take possession of the organ following the surgery.

...[he] is hoping to raise awareness about a glucose deficiency known as nesidioblastosis, and cash in on his rare pancreatic problem at the same time.

"I need serious help...I want to do something to cure it (nesidioblastosis) or stop it," the posting reads. "As a matter of fact, I'm so decided (sic) to help that I would be ready to place my pancreas at the disposal of serious researchers."

Learn a little more or a lot more about this workhorse gland.

17 February 2008

"Cincinnati Chili" Makes Saveur 100 List

Saveur (aka "Food Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous") is a fancy-shmancy food magazine. Think of the Ralph Lauren magazine ads. If the people in those ads had a farm, this is what they would eat.

So you can imagine my surprise, that among such items as tiefenbrünner feldmarschall, atol de elote, and bodegón os concheiros, Saveur included our very own formidable contribution to American cuisine:

...a trip to Cincinnati is an eye-opening experience. CINCINNATI CHILI—a combo of ground beef sautéed with ground cumin and cinnamon—is more of a meaty topping than a stew. As with any estimable local favorite, the dish comes with its own lingo: you can order it "two-way" (served on spaghetti), "three-way" (with the addition of grated cheddar cheese), "four-way" (with cheese and chopped onions), or "five-way" (with cheese, onions, and stewed kidney beans). An invention of Greek and Slavic immigrants, Cincinnati chili is a distant cousin of Mediterranean pasticcio. In an age when quirky regional specialties are on the wane, this is a hearty food that never fails to warm our hearts—or our bellies.

Yes, I know... it's pretty obvious they've never even been to Cincinnati and this is just a bunch of crap to fill up space in a magazine. Who the hell gets a 2-way? Is that even on the menu anymore?

I'd liken it to one of those "10 things to do before you die" lists in Forbes or WSJ; a list by (and for) the white, middle-aged executive to pretend he's got the gumption and/or fortitude to do something exciting that might actually have impressed that amazing girl who needed something more from a man than upward mobility.

Nevertheless, Poseur Saveur, it's nice to be mentioned. Next time, come here for real.

15 February 2008

Topics for Church Socials, vol. 2

Good news for lesbians who want to have biological children related to both parents: a new stem-cell technique could allow scientists to convert female cells into sperm. Use that sperm to fertilize an egg, and voila: children with two female biological parents.


14 February 2008

Greatness Overrated?

The petulant Patriot and the prevaricating pitcher.

Bill Belichick made more than one illegal tape. Wow, big surprise...

Bill Belichick has been illegally taping opponents' defensive signals since he became the New England Patriots' coach in 2000, according to Sen. Arlen Specter, who said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told him that during a meeting Wednesday.

Goodell got the tapes from Belichick and then destroyed the evidence. Some people think hasty destruction of evidence suggests wrongdoing. They just don't understand CIA interrogation techniques football.

And Clemens made his pitch to Congress yesterday. The general consensus is that he threw some junk, but if you want to see something hilarious, take a look at this fawning piece from SI's Michael McCann, who apparently works part-time as Clemens' bichon frise. Compare ESPN's article with his FOXesque spin on reality:

Clemens' answer? Blame everyone but himself

Wednesday was a day of losers. While the Mitchell report withstood its stiffest challenge yet, baseball lost. Roger Clemens lost and Brian McNamee lost. Clemens had his day under oath in front of the country, and he spent it flailing, splashing against relentless waves of facts he could not calm, even after 4½ hours.

Clemens stands tall on Capitol Hill

Though stumbling on a couple of questions, Roger Clemens emerged favorably from Wednesday's hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Need a laugh? Read the rest.

13 February 2008

XU Steps Up

This is not a post about basketball, but it could be. The Muskies are playing great and I would love to see them go deep in the tournament. Believe me, they could do it.

But the topic here is the environment. Queen City Forum reports that Xavier is going green:

Xavier University is one of more than 470 other college and universities who have pledged to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases due to campus operations, said a spokesman for the Cincinnati Jesuit school. Efforts to become “climate neutral” involve developing a long-range plan to phase out carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases.

That will please Jeff Corwin when he comes to Xavier next week:

Emmy-winner Jeff Corwin is visiting Xavier on Wednesday, Feb. 20, to give a presentation in connection with his latest CNN documentary, titled "Planet in Peril: Environmental Threats of the 21st Century." He is speaking from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. in the Cintas Center, followed by a book signing. "Planet in Peril" takes viewers on an around-the-world examination of our world's changing environment...

Teaming up with CNN reporters Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Corwin traveled to some of the most remote and remarkable places of the world.

I remember seeing the show listed on the TV menu, but I didn't know who made it. I figured if it was on CNN it must suck. Maybe I was wrong.

Chlorine Curry Shrimp

Last night I made a shrimp curry dish. Lots of spices, coconut milk, that kind of thing. It turned out great except for one thing: the shrimp.

The shrimp smelled and tasted like chlorine. It ruined the whole dish. I ate a few bites and that was all. Later I searched the internets and found a possible answer.

Emeril's site says: If you buy cooked shrimp from the grocery, know this, they likely look pretty because of a preservative chemical that causes the shrimp to be milky white and bright coral but it leaves a heavy chlorine-like taste. The last word is that fresh, unpeeled shrimp are the way to go.

But that's exactly what I did. I bought shrimp from Luken's at Findlay Market and spent about 30 minutes peeling and de-veining them. But they still tasted chlorinated.

Then I read this on a food inspection thread:

Historically in practice, chlorine used to be used in shrimp washing (for the USA) at levels as high as 50ppm for raw material coming in from the ponds, and several washes afterwards decreasing to 20ppm and then even still about 5ppm at the final wash water and maybe even final water put in with the blocks before entering the contact freezer. This goes back almost 15 years ago. Things have changed and some of these levels have fallen but i know some people’s HACCP plans accepted by US buyers have washes at the 20ppm level...

I didn't read the entire thread (it's big) but I think they were talking about procedures used by shrimp farmers in SE Asia. So it's possible that Luken's gets their shrimp from a facility that uses this procedure.

I gave my shrimp a quick rinse but it's possible that a longer washing will rid the chlorine taste. It's also possible it won't. I guess there's only one way to find out.

So if you're thinking about buying shrimp and thinking about buying it from Luken's, be forewarned.

12 February 2008


Did you know there are hundreds of types of honey? Did you know Ohio is a major beekeeper state?

Read more about Ohio and honey in this month's Ohio Magazine.

There are more than 300 different types of honey in the U.S., each with a unique flavor and appearance, determined by the types of flowers from which the bees extracted nectar. Some of the varietals found in Ohio include alfalfa, blueberry, buckwheat, clover, goldenrod, pumpkin, star thistle, sunflower and wildflower.

According to Tew, who oversees OSU’s Honey Bee Laboratory, Ohio was known as the top honey-producing state in the country in the late 1940s. Now, Ohio is known primarily for its corn, wheat and soybean crops...

Jean-Robert de Cavel, chef and owner of Jean-Robert at Pigall’s, in Cincinnati, makes a point of incorporating local honey (mostly wildflower and chestnut varietals), purchased from Ohio farmers, into various dishes at his restaurant. Honey, he says, is a great addition to salad dressings, ice cream, seafood dishes and glazes for meat.

Honey has always played an important role in de Cavel’s life. Growing up in southern France, a young de Cavel spent time on his uncle’s honey farm, learning about the art and science of beekeeping.

I've always liked honey rather than syrup on pancakes. In the old days (early 1980s), breakfast restaurants used to keep bottles of both on the table. Then it became a syrup world. Now you have to ask for honey.

09 February 2008

Porn Star Politics

I post this only partly for the humor factor. Consider also these two things:

First, if you've been wondering where the women of corporate media get their fashion tips, now you know.

Second, is the coverage from corporate media THAT much more useful than this?

08 February 2008

Doctors Scratch Head Cheese Over Medical Mystery

Slaughterhouse workers get mysterious malady:

While the illness is similar to some known conditions, it does not match any exactly. Nor is the leading theory of its cause something medical researchers have studied. That is because the illness appears to be caused by inhaling microscopic flecks of pig brain.

One of the steps in that part of the operation involves removing the pigs' brains with compressed air forced into the skull through the hole where the spinal cord enters. The brains are then packed and sent to markets in Korea and China as food.

Investigators say there is no reason to suspect that either the brains or the pork cuts were contaminated. Their working hypothesis is that the harvesting technique -- known as "blowing brains" on the floor -- produces aerosols of brain matter. Once inhaled, the material prompts the immune system to produce antibodies that attack the pig brain compounds, but apparently also attack the body's own nerve tissue because it is so similar.

There is a lesson in this for all of us. If you're going to make head cheese, stick to the proper procedure.

07 February 2008

Topics for Church Socials, vol. 1

From BBC News:

Scientists believe they have made a potential breakthrough in the treatment of serious disease by creating a human embryo with three separate parents.

The embryos have been created using DNA from a man and two women in lab tests.

The technique is intended to help women with diseases of the mitochondria...

Faults in the mitochondrial DNA can cause around 50 known diseases, some of which lead to disability and death.

About one in every 6,500 people is affected by such conditions, which include fatal liver failure, stroke-like episodes, blindness, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and deafness.

06 February 2008

Mutants Are Everywhere

No kidding, they are. Here's how to recognize them:

New research shows that people with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor. A team at the University of Copenhagen have tracked down a genetic mutation which took place 6-10,000 years ago and is the cause of the eye colour of all blue-eyed humans alive on the planet today.

“Originally, we all had brown eyes”, said Professor Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. “But a genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a “switch”, which literally “turned off” the ability to produce brown eyes”.

More in the press release.

05 February 2008

Guide to the Candidates (UPDATED!)

Terse summarizations of the candidates/campaigns so far:

OBAMA: Hope with me, dream with me, believe in me, vote for me.

CLINTON: Is the applause meter on?

EDWARDS: I am in this until the end. The END! Okay, never mind.

DODD: I would like to share some thoughtful remarks on some important matters of policy. Hey, is this thing on?

RICHARDSON: You want experience? How about Congress, Cabinet, Diplomat, and Governor? (* crickets *)

KUCINICH: We shall overcome, and we shall do it with drum circles.

BIDEN: Why do I keep tasting bits of shoe leather in my mouth?

GRAVEL: I don't care who, and I don't care why, but SOMEONE IS GETTIN' A FIST SANDWICH.

THOMPSON: Look, I really need this nap. I was at a costume party at my wife's sorority until pretty late. I dressed up as Ronald Reagan.

ROMNEY: Thanks to the internet, my positions are now available in real time.

McCAIN: America, thy name is victory.

HUCKABEE: America, thy name is victory for Jesus.

GIULIANI: Bush is great. Cheney is great. The last 7 years have been great. I say MORE COWBELL!

PAUL: Half of what I say makes total sense. Do you really care about the rest?

04 February 2008


Three thoughts I had after the game:

It's been said that defense wins championships, and that certainly was the case last night. But SOMEONE has to put points up on the board, and the Giants offense was able to muster up enough to squeak by. One can't help but think of last season's Bears, whose defense was better than the Giants, but the Bears offense was too weak and inconsistent to make anything happen when it counted. To all those who criticized Eli Manning for his inconsistency, I say two words: Rex Grossman.

And speaking of defense, it's a shame that the Giants defensive line can't get a collective MVP award. Yes, Manning's game-winning drive and extrication from an all-but-certain sack was, well, Brady-esque, and it will surely take the fast track to slow motion replay with baritone voiceover. But David Tyree's (who?) "helmet" catch was pretty special, too... Randy Moss-esque, in fact.

The Giants didn't win because of a game-winning drive; they won because the defensive line was in Brady's face all night long. Tuck, Umenyiora, and Strahan (finally, a ring!) are the real MVPs.

The postgame judgment of the Pats was as ridiculous as it was expected. I would single out in particular the ESPN pundit (don't know which one) who put together a piece defining the Pats as a failure. Yeah, sure... the most complete, deeply talented, and high performing team ever is a failure because one team figured out how to beat them. Uh-huh. Someone tell Roger Federer he's suddenly a failure on hard courts.

The Pats defeat signifies two things: First, it proves rule no.1 in sports: nobody is unbeatable. No matter how great a team or player is, they are never unbeatable. "Unbeatable" teams have lost in every sport at every level. Second, sports pundits are baloney-brained nincompoops.

Yes, the Patriots will be judged by their loss. That's the way most people look at it. But most people listen to vapid teenybopper pop music more than Brahms. Most people think Pamela Anderson and Jenna Jameson are hotter than Selma Hayek and Catharine Zeta-Jones. You see my point.

It's a bit of a shame that it has to be this way, but it is. The Vikings went to four Super Bowls in seven seasons but lost them all so they get little reverence (compare that to the 49ers, who won all four of theirs). The Bills made it to four straight but lost them all. Ouch. Nobody calls the Bills a great team, much less a dynasty.

I suppose my view is this: the Patriots' season was a demonstration of everything that can be great about a football team; the Super Bowl was a demonstration of everything that can be great about football.

Anyone who can't get past judgment of teams and players is saying more about their inability to see the big picture than they are about football.

03 February 2008

Super Bowl Party Guide

Chips. Dips. Beer. Same old thing. If you think 'taking it to the next level' means extra toppings on pizza, the following party tips will be of great value.

First, stop being a Weber-using loser and plunk a few grand on one of these.

Next, show your thoughtfulness by having something for the ladies. These breast-enlarging cookies should be just the thing.

Skip the pizza and take it to the next level with something that will really excite the team. Score a touchdown with cheeseburgers in a can.

And it never hurts to keep some $2 pocket shots packaged as sports drinks lying around in case the beer runs out.

Finally, do not invite Mike Brown. He doesn't care about football.

These tips will transform your party from a think tank-sponsored forum on serious issues of the day into an enthralling no-holes-barred Clinton-Obama catfight.

Patriots 26, Giants 23.

01 February 2008

Xavier Students Try to Develop Community Relations

This is a good story from Xavier's student newspaper, The Newswire. The SGA has a new initiative: to develop ties to local businesses and government in Norwood and Evanston. It looks like an uphill battle so far...

This year, SGA’s Community Affairs Committee, led by Sarah Virkler, is attempting, with the help of Pickett Slater Harrington of the Community Building Institute, to build relationships and ties with the communities of Norwood and Evanston.

This year, Virkler has met with the West Norwood Neighborhood Association and has made contact with the Evanston Community Council, although she says that it has been hard to establish a relationship with the Evanston Community Council.

After these relationships are built, then students can work with community members to set goals and projects for the community...

Previously, SGA has focused on projects that help serve the community, especially children...

This year, SGA has tried to begin projects in order to build ties with the community; however, they have faced roadblocks.

SGA wanted to begin a project that helped local restaurants and businesses. The Community Affairs Committee wanted to contact local businesses, including The Speckled Bird Café, where there could be a night or weekend where Xavier students could go to these businesses and receive a discount. The businesses would also benefit because they would attract new customers.

However, since there were previously no ties between these local businesses and SGA, this project has not been fulfilled...

"...When I first entered office a few years ago, the relationship between Xavier and Norwood was acrimonious, but now we have begun to work together to solve problems,” says Moore."

"...relationships between Xavier and the community are “still in the learning process."

Seems like good preparation for the real world. Good luck to them.