Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bryne Under Fire For Not Interviewing Token Minority

Bill Bryne, the Athletic Director at Texas A&M, is under fire from the Black Coaches' Association according to the Houston Chronicle. Why? He didn't interview any black coaches when seeking to replace Coach Fran. Truth be known Bryne interviewed exactly one person, Mike Sherman, the guy who is replacing Coach Fran. Apparently, the BCA feels that Bryne should have interviewed one more person just because they are a minority. I can't think of a stupider reason to interview a candidate. In a world such as sports the interview is merely to find out if you can work with somebody, their ability to perform is already well publicized. Bryne has already admitted to keeping a running database of people he would like to hire if the need should arise, so it should be no surprise that when he has to replace a coach he already knows who his first pick is going to be. I also seriously doubt that AD Bryne, who is trying to build a championship quality football program is going to let a little thing like race get in the way of picking the best fit in talent.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate That Is The Question

Originally, I was planning on writing a comment in response to Rebellious Pastor's Wife however, if I were to do justice to the topic I need more room.

First, I would like to address the concern of not doing enough research. This may or may not be a fair charge to level on people doing medical research. Why? Simply put, the human body is an extremely complex and diverse "machine," it is simply impossible to test for all circumstances because you cannot predict or know what all the circumstances are going to be. Frequently, what happens is simply a product of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Sometimes this is bad and sometimes it is good. A case in point is a doctor who noticed that fewer women died in the hospital when they were seen right after meals. His investigation turned up the factor involved was that he washed his hands before eating. He tested his findings by washing his hands after each examination and, what do you know, fewer women died. Other times and these are the times they make the news is when it goes bad, such is the possible case with Thimerasol, they used it too prevent contamination by fungi and bacteria, it is very good at this job. Yet, there was no way they could predict that the levels used could possibly be a cause of autism, particularly since autism is still not well understood.

Now some people do have adverse reactions to vaccines. Some can be quite serious, i.e. people died from the old small pox vaccination. Most can be mild i.e. breaking out in hives. The reasons are quite diverse from nurses not paying attention to expiration dates (happened to me with a Tetanus booster) to allergic reactions to the serum. Cases of contracting the disease are exceedingly rare if it is even true that they happen. All of these problems are hard to predict and because of this difficulty you are supposed to wait around for 15 minutes. The worst adverse reactions tend to show during that time frame. Demonstrated adverse effects should constitute reasonable reasons for discontinuing that particular line of vaccination unless it can be demonstrated that it was due to contamination.

Second, do not sell young children's immune systems short. They are incredibly capable and flexible systems and can easily handle the vaccination load. In addition, for vaccines to be remotely responsible for Autism does require a preponderance of variables. The first is that Autism would have to be proven to be an auto-immune disease where the immune system is attacking the central nervous system (CNS). Second, the antigens involved in eliciting the immune response in vaccinations would have to be similar to antigens in the CNS. This is highly unlikely for several reasons. The first is they do not use nerve or brain tissue for the production of any vaccine, which would be the most likely source for the production of these antigens. In addition, the majority of vaccinations given to children are for bacterial toxins which in no way resemble CNS antigens and are very specific. With these in mind I seriously doubt the load of vaccinations is responsible.

Now, my third point is the use of fetal tissue. In reality, this has been blown out of proportion. The use of fetal tissue is limited to vaccines for viruses as bacteria do not require living tissue and when I left the Vet. Microbiology dept for seminary there was work being done on using bacteria to synthesize the viral antigens, because bacteria are cheaper to maintain than tissue cultures. I have a feeling in the next 20 years we will start seeing vaccines made this way and the pharmaceutical companies will buy into it because it will cut their costs significantly. One batch of MRC-5 cells costs over $250 and they have a limited reproductive cycle plus the production of virus destroys the cells, so that adds up very quickly. When you consider bacterial colonies can exist in perpetuity there is no question of cost benefit. Admittedly that is in the future so back to here and now.

All of the viral vaccinations have non-human diploid cell (fetal tissue) alternatives except for Rubella, Varicella (Chicken Pox and Shingles), and Hep A. The alternatives generally use chicken eggs to create the vaccine. They generally work just as well. There are notable exceptions such as Rabies, the HDC Rabies vaccine has a 100% efficacy rate, unusual even for HDC derived viruses, and can be used as a treatment for recently infected patients. Rubella differs from all the other vaccines in that the child that was used for the tissue sample was already infected with the virus due to the mother contracting Rubella while pregnant, which is why it is impossible to find a non-HDC source. The CDC has an excellent resource on their website that lists all of the approved vaccines in the U.S at this link. If you do Google searches of the brand names, the companies have the information posted on how they produce the vaccine and most are available through the John Hopkins link I provided previously.

Now, I did some digging and the pharmaceutical companies all use two HDC lines in producing their vaccines: MRC-5 and WI-38 available through American Type Culture Collection. Both of these cell lines were created from children aborted in the 60's in Europe (WI-38's remains were transported to the U.S.). No new lines are being created. One reason is purely practical the current viral vaccine research needs different cell lines. HIV for instance will only grow in T-cells and both commonly used HDC lines are not immune related. The continued use of these lines falls very close to the debates about the NAZI medical experiments.

The use of the results of NAZI experimentation has caused scientists many ethical dilemmas as illustrated by this 1989 NY Times article. What do we do with what is learned from atrocities committed in the past? There are some who would have us ignore what was learned and try to unlearn what was learned. I can see some of the appeal of this position, because we do not want to be complicit after the fact in their torture and murder. However, I do not take this position. I believe we should keep what was learned and work towards preventing further atrocities. This view forms the basis for my position on the use of HDC's in vaccine production and my advocacy of Pro-Life. One way that we can look at this is that God has worked something good out of something absolutely horrible. I think in someways by throwing out what has been learned would dishonor those who lost their lives. At the same time we can strive to sanctify medical technology (so to speak) by working towards more ethical means of study and production.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thimerosal or How to Decieve Without Lying

While researching the Thimerosal debate, I noticed claims that Thimerosal is 50% Mercury. Sounds scary right? Mercury is one of those dangerous chemicals and anything that is 50% Mercury must be bad. Well, what the more honest or better informed will say is 50% by weight. Still sounds like a lot until you actually look at the chemical in question. The chemical formula of Thimerosal is this C9H9HgNaO2S, which is short hand for 9 Carbon (C), 9 Hydrogens (H), 1 Mercury (Hg), 1 Sodium (Na), 2 Oxygens (O), 1 Sulpher (S). Please note that there is only one Mercury atom out of a total of 21 atoms and strickly speaking they are correct to say that Mercury is half the weight. Why? Mercury is huge compared to the others, Mercury has a molecular weight of 200.59 where Sodium the next largest is 22.99. What they are not telling you is that by concentration Mercury makes up a minute amount of thimerosal and concentration is the key in determining toxicity levels not molecular weight. For example, Potassium is quite small compared to Mercury at 39.09 but at sufficient concentration is quite lethal. So, while all of these people are making thimerosal sound scary they are actually lying to you by telling what amounts to the truth told incorrectly.

Now, I am not saying go and get yourself some thimerosal, I am only saying it is not as dangerous as they make out. However, Mercury as a heavy metal is not something our bodies are equipped to expel readily so it builds up over time. Thus repeated exposure in a short period of is bad.

Thimerosal, Vaccines, and Autism

I will state this up front, I remain unconvinced that the small amounts of thimerosal used in vaccines causes autism, but at the same time I am not ruling out a connection. And I will be perfectly frank in that I believe the refusal to vaccinate on the basis of what amounts to the scientific equivalent of hearsay is the height of parental irresponsibility. At the same time, I am not in favor of mandatory vaccination.

However, if you are worried about thimerosal in vaccines this is a good link for you, John Hopkins compilied a list of common vaccines and their thimerosal levels. It would appear that most contain no thimerosal. Now if you are truly worried still, look at that list and ask the doctor to use one of those on the list and ask them to pull the dose in front of you so you can see the bottle if you are truly paranoid. If they refuse, you can always find a new doc.

This list also brings up something else. A common reason some people are citing for risking their child's health is the thimerosal link to autism. The companies have heard the people's concern and are no longer using it as a preservative, which removes the one objection to vaccinating I could understand. Again, if you are really worried, check the list and don't be afraid to ask. It is a reasonable request to ask the doctor to use a viable alternative and these Thimerosal free vaccines are a reasonable viable alternative.

The other objection, I have heard that companies are pushing vaccines just to make a buck, isn't even worth much of a comment. Do you complain about somebody making some money off the toilet paper you used to wipe your bum?

A New Coach

The Houston Chronicle was right. Mike Sherman is the new Head Coach at Texas A&M. He will be finishing out the season with the Texans while working with the recruits when he can. While, we may lose a few more recruits because of his lack of recruiting time, I am not too upset. I really like a man who will honor his current commitments before jumping the next new thing.

Here is hoping that the Sherman Tank does not turn out to be an underpowered, thin armored, tank with an undersized gun, but is instead an unstoppable juggernaut.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Babies to Blame for Bad Environment?

An environmental wackjob, psychobabble for clinically insane environmentalist, murdered her child ten years ago because he/she would be damaging to the environment. Now she has had her tubes tied so that she cannot bring in another hurtful baby into an already damaged environment. The best I can say is at least she has removed her stupidity from the gene pool. Now if only she would stop trying to verbally spread her illness. Our only hope is that House can find a cure for her before it is too late.

HT: House, M.Div

A Great Thanksgiving with a hint of tartness

For Aggies the world over it was a pretty good Thanksgiving. Our boys beat t.u. for the second year in a row. Whoop! And our B-ball guys creamed Ohio State in the NIT preseason tournament final, and I mean creamed, they made it look easy.

The football game was exciting yet frustrating to watch. Exciting for the obvious, we pretty well dominated t.u. for most of the game running and passing nearly at will. Frustrating for pretty much the same reason, this is what we expected to see all season not just for the t.u. game. Why couldn't they play like this all year? I'll be honest, I don't think I can answer that question and I am not going to drop all the blame on now former coach Fran, those boys probably played their own part in the five losses we suffered this year. This brings up the other tartness of the weekend Coach Fran resigned an hour after the game. I am not his biggest fan, but I still don't like to see these things happen. Although, I am willing to say if it wasn't for the email thing he would still be the head coach. Well, I wish him well and I think he will do well at a mid-major school.

Now, it sounds like AD Bryne has his new coach in hand, we will find out noon today. The Chronicle is reporting on Harris' "Aggie Blog" that Michael Sherman, the offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, is likely the new head coach. We will see.

Mike Sherman's "resume"
89-93 TAMU Offensive Line Coach
94 UCLA Offensive Line Coach
95-96 TAMU Offensive Line Coach
97-98 Green Bay Tight End Coach
99 Seattle Offensive Coordinator
00-05 Green Bay Head Coach
06- Houston Offensive Coordinator

As the Green Bay HC he compiled a 53-27 record and won three NFC North titles. I think he could be a good pick for the Aggies. He knows the school and he knows the state. He will need to find a really good Defensive coordinator as he is admittedly an offensive minded coach.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Naughty or Nice List Announced by Liberty Council

As a general rule, I ignore all things Christmas prior to the day after Thanksgiving, largely because I do not want to contribute to the trend of stores starting their Christmas decorating and sales earlier and earlier each year. However, I wanted to take the time to comment about the Liberty Council and their Naughty or Nice List. For those of you who have lives and don't know what this list is, it is a list of stores to patronize or boycott on the basis of their specific recognition of Christmas.

The first thing I ask myself is this, is this really a hill worth dying over? Is this fight over the recognition of Christmas going to bring more people to Christ or deepen the faith of Christians? Hardly, it is only going to succeed in making us look like petty little busy bodies.

I realize that a large part of the stink is caused by the fact they stand to make a lot of money on people buying gifts for Christmas. Ok, in some ways it would be nice that if they are going to be making money on Christmas it would be nice to have some recognition, but is it necessary? Not really. Local stores stand to make a fair bit of money when Lutherans gather to celebrate Reformation Day, but I really don't care if they have a Reformation Day sale or say "Blessed Reformation Day."

Personally, I don't care if the store I am shopping at acknowledges Christmas or not. The only time I would care is if they claimed to be a Christian business. Not that I honestly care if the business is explicitly Christian or not, I only care to be treated with respect and get a good value. I don't really mind if the stores go for a blanket Happy Holidays, Christians are their only customers. We really do not need to create undo offense to those who do not celebrate Christmas by forcing people to hear or say "Merry Christmas." Those two words aren't going to convert them into Christians, so let's fight the fight worth fighting and preach the Gospel.

We can make use of Holiday Season just as well as we can with "Christmas Season," which by the way for you liturgically ignorant people starts on Dec 25th not the day after Thanksgiving. Advent comes before Christmas and starts either the last Sunday in November or the first Sunday in December depending on the year.

So, why don't we all use the brains God gave us and fight this battle smart by making stands on the things that are truly important.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Judge Strikes Down Law Requiring Pharmacists to Dispensing Abortifactants

Let's hear it Judge Ronald Leighton who struck down a Washington State Law that would require pharmacists to give out Plan B against their religious convictions. Judge Leighton cited that the law would violate the religious freedoms of pharmacists by forcing them to give out medications that were in violation of their faith. Now, he did state that they should refer the women to less scrupulous vendors and I am not really sure that does not violate the religious freedoms also. I mean think about it. Doesn't it sound hypocritical to say "I can't kill you because it violates my faith, but Mr. McDeath over there will do it for discount prices"? However, it is still a victory for religious freedom, if not a total victory and considering where things have gone with our culture of death, I will take it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Linux Update

Ok, I have things running mostly now, I haven't completely tested the set up yet tested some major functions such as can I read Luther's Works, but I have important church type programs running in Linux.

Ms Office works very well under Crossover
- I have not tried Publisher, I do not own it, I use Scribus instead.

Bible Works 5 runs well under WINE

Luther's Works works with a bit of a tweak in Crossover
- install IE 6 first under a windows 98 bubble then install Luther's Works in that bubble, because the Libronix system is completely intergrated with IE and will not install otherwise.
- because of this dependancy I do not think it will run under WINE which has a messed up version of IE that runs natively.

The Boy Who Refused to Die

I found this story today while surfing.
Daily News - We're twinseperable!

The parents of these little boys were faced with the decision to allow one of the boys to die while in the womb and risk the health of the other or end his life sooner and likely save the other. They made a choice I would not have made and chose to end his life surgically.

As the story goes they tried to cut the umbilical but found it was two thick for them to cut, so they cut the placenta in half so as to hopefully spare the "healthy" twin. Much to their surprise the next day he was alive and kicking and to their even greater surprise 5 weeks later he came out all nice and healthy. Now that is something to celebrate, with all odds stacked against him, he is alive and well.

Office Rebel part 2

Originally, this was going to be a response to Dr. McCain's comment on a previous post and then I saw how long it became, anyhow enjoy it in all its glory. ;)

I had a feeling a Macnatic (I say this in good humor) would respond. Oh to see the world through rose colored glasses.

Don't get me wrong Macs are good machines and OS X is a good operating system. Although, Apple did themselves no favors by making them look like a fish bowl aka iMacs. However, OS X can have as many problems as XP. I have used Power PC's and I had no trouble crashing them. I have a tendency to push computers to their limits and beyond and when you do that you can have some spectacular crashes.

XP is very user friendly, contrary to popular Maclore. It is very intuitive in how it operates, but then I am not the average user so I may not be the best judge. Most problems with XP are not so much that the system is not user friendly is that it is plagued by dumb users. Macs would have the same problem if an equivalent number of people used them.

As far as costs go XP PC's and Macs are pretty close cost wise, if you go name brands. I don't, but then again I am not the average user. The last name brand I bought was a laptop. I build my own desktops. The one I am currently posting with I spent ~250 to build, just to be fair I already owned XP and Office Professional. Speed wise I would say it is slightly slower to the mini mac which runs ~600 according to the online apple store.

Maintenance wise I may not be the best judge because I tinker with my systems. However, tinkering aside I have not had to invest much time into maintaining the system nor have I had to spend any money outside of maintaining security software.

Now to be completely unfair to Mac with the PC, I can easily go completely open source by using Linux which cost wise more churches should look into as it is much cheaper to make a donation than to buy a bunch of Macs or PCs w/ Windows. Now while Linux is no where near as pretty as OS X (which looks a lot like Vista by the way) it is very stable. Like Macs, Linux has the ability to run Microsoft Office (which I believe saved Mac from extinction) plus it can run many other Windows based programs. Feature wise it is not as rich as Windows or OS X, but give it time. Most distros have a 6 month upgrade cycles. With that kind of turn around and the growing popularity of open source you can expect them to quickly catch up with Windows and OS X in the feature department. Look at Firefox it has long since put IE to shame, but then again that may not have been to hard. ;)

Just for grins I thought I would see what kind of open source machine I could get for 600, the base cost of the Mini Mac. This is what I found.

AMD 64 FX2 dual core @ 2.1 gig
2 gigs ram
512 ram Radeon video card
160 gig SATA drive
cordless Logitech keyboard and laser mouse
HP Photosmart C4280 All in one
-price before tax $594.95 and that is before all the rebates of which there is about $150.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Office Rebel

I am declaring myself to be a rebel. Well, sort of, maybe I am a rebel. I have decided to tread the road less traveled in church offices. Computer wise most church offices are populated by Windows machines. Not necessarily a bad thing, XP is a good operating system, although there are a few offices held captive to 'gasp' Windows 98. If they don't have Windows boxes they have Mac fishbowls. Either of which are rather serviceable although Macs are hindered by the fact only a few Liberal Arts types know how to use them. Now, while they are capable machines they are expensive to maintain and purchase. Hence, the reason why there are still churches using Win98 or worse ME. So, I have decided to take the third road, Linux.

Unfortunately, people have gotten the idea that Linux is for that weird kid who never leaves his parents basement and prefers to be called by his hacker alias, iwanab3ne0. A reputation it has earned by still requiring the use of command line, for those of you born after 1988 that is when mice did not exist and you had to type everything. This is no longer strictly true. While Linux power users still use a fair bit of command line the GUI has improved drastically and if you get the right distribution it takes little time for a Windows user to get up to speed for most tasks. Now, I cut my teeth on Fedora Core 6 about 3 months ago. Fedora is good but not the best for a beginner, my mistake, I went with the distro I knew from friends in college. It because of its non support of restricted licenses does not support them in its installation catalog which means you had to manually install things like printers.

And then I found my dream distro. Ubuntu, if you can use WinXP, you can use Ubuntu. They do not take Fedora's hardline on opensource, so they support a wider range of software through their automated catalog. That means set up is nearly as easy as most Windows based programs if not easier because all you have to do is find and pick the program you need and Linux does the rest. So with Ubuntu you have an easy to use Os, that is fast (my 3gig Celeron w/ 512 ram boots in under 45 seconds compared to the 1.5 minutes of XP), secure (virus do not work well in Linux due to its structure), and cheap (free is hard to beat, although they do charge for support and would not say no to donations programmers have to eat too). What is not to like?

Let me guess Windows compatibility. That used to be a problem but no longer. Linux can now read the NTFS file system (WINXP) in addition to the various versions of FAT (floppy disk formats in Win) so if a church member comes in with their disc from home, no problemo. But I want to use things like Publisher. Ok, understandable, of all the things Microsoft has done Office is the best, no problem here either. There is a program called WINE (stands for Wine is not an emulator) that will allow you to run Windows based programs on a Linux system. Currently, I am using WINE to run Bibleworks 5.0 and it works great. So if you are looking for a cheap and good alternate when upgrading your system check out Ubuntu. Oh, I nearly forgot, they have about a six month turn around on new stable editions so if you like having the latest it is much easier to keep up with the joneses by using the Linux distros.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Blessed All Saints Day

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For all the saints - William How

For All The Saints (midi)

Zoidberg's Brain Slug Treatment Candidate of the Week part who cares

UUHhhhhh... My tongue feels a furry as Fry's bath mat and tastes like Nibbler's litter box. Please, no making with the loud noises already.

Today's Brain Slug treatment is a two parter. The first goes to a man with the tact of a doomsday weapon and less commonsense than Amy. He is none other than Fred Phelps. "God hates America", what nonsense. America is great where else could a lobster like me become a rich doctor for a large company? Eh, Eh! But seriously, I have been listening to Dr. Luther rant on about Mr. Phelps and I got to admit he is right. What kind of man would call himself a Christian and not preach redemption in Christ? Preach the law, but don't spew hate like New York passing off its garbage to third world countries such as New Jersey. However, since he can't seem to get this through his thick skull, I will do the procedure for free!

Part 2 of my treatment goes to a whole group of people, twelve of them in fact. They get their nomination because of their egregious thrashing of First Amendment rights. In the lawsuit against Fred Phelps and co. they awarded a mourning father 11 million dollars. I want 11 million maybe I could sue Hermes because he is always blaming me for stuff and that makes me sad. But seriously, trampling first amendment rights just because the defendant is a spiteful hate monger who makes Bender look like a saint? What's next allowing PETA to sue meat eaters for eating in public? Bah, give them some free elective limb removal, I would.

Now, I am going to go finish sleeping off this sugar hangover. Anybody needs me I'll be in the big round spinning room in the professor's lab.