Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spam Blog?

spam musubi - Cuisine; SPAM plus Japanese 結び, むすび (musubi) ("tying"); the original Japanese meaning is not recognized in English.

We've just received an email here at HSI HQ, and we must say we're disappointed. We've been "automatically identified" as a potential SPAM blog! The nerve!

What is a SPAM Blog?

As with many powerful tools, blogging services can be both used and abused. The ease of creating and updating webpages with Blogger has made it particularly prone to a form of behavior known as link spamming. Blogs engaged in this behavior are called spam blogs, and can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site.
So since when is it frowned upon to be irrelevant, repetitive or nonsensical? Hmmmm? This is the Internet, you know.

UPDATE: We've been reviewed - and found NOT to be a SPAM blog. So relieved.

Pandemic Imminent!

We're at Phase 5, people. At this hour, the WHO website is overwhelmed with traffic. Go ahead, try it.

Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. While most countries will not be affected at this stage, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short.
The only phase worse is Phase 6 - a full-blown pandemic:
Phase 6, the pandemic phase, is characterized by community level outbreaks in at least one other country in a different WHO region in addition to the criteria defined in Phase 5. Designation of this phase will indicate that a global pandemic is under way.
WHO's Dr Margaret Chan: 'All countries should immediately activate their pandemic preparedness plans'. She added: "It really is the whole of humanity that is under threat in a pandemic."

Egypt has overreacted by ordering all of its roughly 250,000 to 400,000 pigs to be killed ("Slaughter the Swine!"), causing the farmers there to riot.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CC's Close Call?

Swine flu has been found in Orlando, brought there by a Mexican woman visiting "Disney attractions over the weekend." The Miami Herald has the details.

UPDATE! Mexico City's cinco de mayo parade has been canceled...

Friday, April 24, 2009

In Honor of L1 Dominette 01449

In Honor of L1 Dominette 01449, we'll be having drinks of the brown variety today. (Actually, we'll be having the Captain and Tenille's held over from last week. Fortuitous, no?)

Swine Flu?

Effect Measure...

Friday April 24, 1:40 pm: AP and NYT reporting that Mexican authorities are saying that they have determined that 16 of 60 deaths are "swine flu," with 44 more being tested. They have yet to confirm whether it is the same as the California/Texas cases, but that's a bit irrelevant since either way it sounds like a very worrisome development. There are already a reported 930 plus cases, with schools closed in Mexico City and contemplation of closing government offices. Obama has been notified and the White House is following the situation. WHO and CDC have activated their emergency centers and there is consideration at WHO of increasing the pandemic alert level.

Things are changing too fast for any reasonable speculation at this point.
The NYT piece has:
It first looked mostly like a swine virus but closer analysis showed it is a never-before-seen mixture of swine, human and avian viruses, according to the CDC.

"We do not have enough information to fully assess the health threat posed by this new swine flu virus," Besser said.


The virus is an influenza A virus, carrying the designation H1N1. It contains DNA from avian, swine and human viruses, including elements from European and Asian swine viruses, the CDC has said.

[The CDC will post daily updates here].

More from Effect Measure: Latest on swine flu from CDC
CDC is not at the point of declaring this the start of a pandemic. WHO is said to be convening its expert committee to decide whether to raise the pandemic threat level from phase 3 to phase 4 (novel virus, ongoing transmission in an area). In response to a question about whether there would be any attempt at containment, he said the obvious: the cat's out of the bag. There are scattered cases without obvious links. It has likely gone through several person to person transmission cycles and is not confined to a focus or geographic area.

The Cow, Sequenced.

L1 Dominette 01449, the cow whose genome has been sequenced by scientists, with a calf. (Photo source: National Genome Research institute).

Today is a red tag day! The New York Times explains:

In the Genes of a Hereford, the Essence of Cow

By Denise Grady, April 23, 2009

Scientists have achieved what they describe as a major milestone in animal genetics: decoding the genome of the cow.

The findings provide “tantalizing clues to explain ‘the essence of bovinity,’” according to an essay in the journal Science, which is publishing several articles on the work.

The cows have not disappointed us,” [were truer words ever spoken?] wrote Harris A. Lewin, an animal sciences professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noting that the research had fulfilled its promise to provide “exciting new information” about the evolution of mammals and the workings of their genes.

The cow whose genome was sequenced was a Hereford named L1 Dominette 01449, one of the 94 million cows in the United States, where cattle are a $49 billion industry.

The project was a six-year effort that involved more than 300 scientists from 25 countries and cost $53 million. Part of the work involved comparing genome of the cow, Bos taurus, with that of the human, dog, mouse, rat, opossum and platypus.

Cows have about 22,000 genes, compared with the 20,000 or so estimated for humans, and about 80 percent of their genetic material is the same as humans’. In the way their chromosomes are organized, cows are more like people than are rats or mice.

See Also: Mooove Over Humans, the Cow Genome is Here (Science)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Big AZ News

She's moving to Germany - near Salzburg, Austria! Woo hoo!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Death Cab for Crocs

24/7 Wall Street thinks that they're not long for this world.

Crocs (CROX) sold the fastest growing footwear in America at one point. In late 2007, the company’s shares traded at more than $72. Now they change hands at well below $2. At the end of March, Crocs got a six-month extension of a critical credit facility. According to Reuters, “Crocs Inc averted a cash crunch by winning an 11th-hour credit facility extension with a California bank, but analysts say the jury is still out on whether the struggling brand can turn around.” Two weeks before the credit extension, the company’s auditors gave the firm a “going concern” letter, an indication that there would be reasonable chance that Crocs would make it another year. In the fourth quarter of 2008, Crocs lost $43 million after making $55 million in the same period the year before. Revenue fell from $225 million in the last quarter of 2007 to $126 million. Crocs won’t make it through the year.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Where is everybody?


Friday Tea

For Tea today, we'll be having... Tea!

Actually, per NT's suggestion, we'll be having Captain and Tenille's, a tasty concoction of Rum and Tea. (Peach and Raspberry Iced Tea courtesy of the Lipton Tea Company).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Deep Thought

How does one determine who is a Cuban-American?

Travel restrictions for Americans of non-Cuban descent will also remain in place.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Guava

The guava belongs to the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae) genus Psidium, and is one of around 100 species in that genus. Around the world, the guava has many names: The term "guava" appears to derive from Arawak guayabo "guava tree", via the Spanish guayaba. It has been adapted in many European languages: guava (Danish and Norwegian, also Greek Γκουάβα and Russian Гуава), Guave (Dutch and German), goyave (French), gujawa (Polish), goiaba (Portuguese).

Outside of Europe, the Arabic jwafa,the Punjabi "amrud", the Japanese guaba (グアバ), the Tamil goiyaa, the Tongan kuava and probably also the Tagalog bayabas are ultimately derived from the Arawak term.

Guava wood is used for smoking foods.

Guava is good with rum; in fact, according to The Ministry of Rum there's at least one rum flavored with guava.

Guava is one of the most gregarious of fruit trees. Flock to Tea today, and be gregarious with guava (and rum, of course).

Sinead, Without Irony

Thursday, April 09, 2009

More Obama FAIL

As usual, Glenn Greenwald is all over it:

New and worse secrecy and immunity claims from the Obama DOJ

But late Friday afternoon, the Obama DOJ filed the government's first response to EFF's lawsuit (.pdf), the first of its kind to seek damages against government officials under FISA, the Wiretap Act and other statutes, arising out of Bush's NSA program. But the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the "state secrets" privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and (2) a brand new "sovereign immunity" claim of breathtaking scope -- never before advanced even by the Bush administration -- that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is "willful disclosure" of the illegally intercepted communications.

In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad "state secrets" privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and -- even if what they're doing is blatantly illegal and they know it's illegal -- you are barred from suing them unless they "willfully disclose" to the public what they have learned
This is so egregious that it's even got Olberman and the Kossacks (longstanding 'Bama supporters both) worked up.


Today's Wikipedia quote:

ISO/IEC 17025 is the main standard used by testing and calibration laboratories. Originally known as ISO/IEC Guide 25, ISO/IEC 17025 was initially issued by the International Organization for Standardization in 2000 . There are many commonalities with the ISO 9000 standard, but ISO/IEC 17025 adds in the concept of competence to the equation.
Good to know one doesn't have to be competent to be ISO 9000 compliant.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What is bad JuJu?

What is bad JuJu?

Running into a Jackalope is bad JuJu. (Fear them!).

There are some real Jackalopes, infected by the Shope papillomavirus. ("Shope papillomavirus provided the first mammalian model of a cancer caused by a virus")

Maybe this is the same thing that that guy from Indonesia had... (Well, they were both papilloma viruses).

What is JuJu?

According to Wictionary:

juju (plural jujus)

1. A fetish or charm believed by West Africans to have magical or supernatural powers.

2. The magical or supernatural power of such a charm.

3. A superstitious belief in the karmic consequences of an action or behavior, usually negative in connotation.

That's some bad juju.

4. A type of music popular in Nigeria. (See Jùjú music) [popular style from Nigeria relyng on the traditional Yoruba rhythms -and/or- another term for a mojo hand].

5. The fourth album by the British rock band Siouxsie & the Banshees.

6. William Shorter also had a release in 1964 on Blue Note called "JuJu"

Friday, April 03, 2009

How's everybody like NT's new haircut?


Today's Tea will feature an attempt at a dark rum mojito. Join us if you dare!

World Rat Day

Saturday is World Rat Day.

Perhaps a proper meditation is to be found via PBS: "Rat Attack!"