31 May 2010

Thought of the Memorial Day

From Chris Hedges great book, War is a Force that Gives us Meaning:

And yet despite all this, I am not a pacifist. I respect and admire the qualities of professional soldiers. Without the determination and leadership of soldiers like General Wesley K. Clark we might not have intervened in Kosovo or Bosnia. It was, in the end, a general, Ulysses S. Grant who saved the union.

Even as I detest the pestilence that is war and fear its deadly addiction, even as I see it lead states and groups toward self-immolation, even as I concede that it is war that has left millions dead and maimed across the planet, I, like most reporters in Sarajevo and Kosovo, desperately hoped for armed intervention.

The poison that is war does not free us from the ethics of responsibility. There are times when we must take this poison-- just as a person with cancer accepts chemotherapy to live. We cannot succumb to despair. Force is and I suspect always will be a part of the human condition. There are times when the force wielded by one immoral faction must be countered by a faction that, while never immoral, is perhaps less immoral.

25 May 2010

Seen at the OTR/Gateway Celebration, Pt. 2

43 seconds of Zumba:

24 May 2010

Seen at the OTR/Gateway Celebration

It started out sunny and hot but as the afternoon progressed the weather went through some mood changes, "like an indecisive woman" in the words of one reveler. But it was a good afternoon with good music and an eclectic crowd. The ubiquitous Dojo Gelato/Taste of Belgium duo was there. Cafe de Wheels and Senor Roy brought their trucks. Unfortunately, Cafe de Wheels ran out of food and shut down early and Senor Roy ran out of black beans, which I was willing to accept... then chicken, which was no matter since I wanted pork... but then he ran out of queso which is a deal-breaker for this hombre.

I suspect foul play at the keg.

This little girl saw my camera and suddenly came to life.

Kids being kids in the most dangerous place in America.

Love this snapshot-in-time of the new OTR.

These ladies and the fancy dog were quite a visage.

No ring... he's available!!

13 May 2010

When Pooh-Poohing Science is a Good Thing

Ladies and gentlemen, your scientific research quote of the day:

A prospective approach, using population-based cohort studies, is going to be necessary to characterize the impact of the gut bacterial community on cancer risk. Unfortunately, to date, few cohort studies include the collection of fecal samples. To quote Taro Gomi, author of several beloved children's books, “Everyone poops.” (9). In that regard, there is plenty of sample available, and as long as we establish sampling approaches that make it easy for participants to collect fecal aliquots and that preserve the microbial DNA and RNA in the fecal sample, we have the capacity to develop an invaluable resource.

An invaluable resource. Indeed, I have always described it as such.

11 May 2010

Japanese Butterflies at the Krohn

This year's theme is JAPAN and here are some of the Japanese butterflies you can see at the Krohn Conservatory until June 20th. I have to admit I've never given butterflies their due regard since learning about METAMORPHOSIS in 4th grade but after seeing these insects and thinking about butterflies all over again I have to say, butterflies are cool little things.

09 May 2010

What Makes Wine Go Bad

In my family, we like to celebrate Mother's Day by sharing food, memories and discussing the latest findings in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Today we lamented the thankfully rare occurrence of tainted wine. It is a sad thing indeed when the anticipation of opening a new bottle and enjoying the first sip gets turned on its head by wine taken over by the devil. I call this a "bad batch" but people who know more call it "taint" and it happens to roughly 1 out of every 200 bottles. That is a big enough number to concern the industry; they have reputations to guard and profits to secure. Fortunately, chemists are on the case.

Analysis of tainted wines has revealed several chemicals that may be culpable, either individually or in concert. Where do these chemicals come from?

One source is the cork... it turns out that cork is an ecosystem to a variety of bacteria and fungi. This shouldn't be that surprising since cork is a living substance. It gets treated before being used to plug a wine bottle, but treatments vary and, apparently, are not successful 100% of the time.

If the wrong species of bacteria gets through and remains in the cork, it (or they) can react with the wine and produce the chemical(s) that give wine an "off" aroma and flavor. The implicated chemicals are chloroanisoles, chlorophenols and methoxypyrazines (good to know in case it comes up).

So that's how wine can go bad. Unfortunately, it's not possible to tell from looking at the bottle.

02 May 2010

On the Waterfront

ACTION FIGURE enjoys riverfront during brief respite from weekend rain: