daily archive: 02/15/2005
An American zulubaby
Okay, so the ceremony was beautiful. You know how it is here -- when they do things, they do things properly. It was pouring with rain so my hair got a bit messed up and of course that's what I was most concerned about. My friend was going to come with me but then my lawyer said that friends and family can't sit with you, it's boring, etc., so I told my friend not to come. I regret that now 'cos I know he would have enjoyed it.
There were 4,500 people there and we were herded around with cattle. I met a wonderful Canadian women as I got there so she and I were together the whole ceremony and it was great to have someone sane and funny to share the experience with. We had to give in our green cards and I had a little pang about that. I'd had it for so long and felt sentimental about it. Oh well, I got over that quickly! Then we went to sit and they gave us a booklet, a wonderful letter from President Bush, about the responsibility of being an American citizen, which I thought was especially important, and an American flag (I checked, it was Made in the U.S.A. ;-)
The speeches were incredible, the judge was fabulous. We took the pledge of allegiance and then everyone went nuts, waving our flags and cheering. There were 14 soldiers there and they were each named and given special honour. Most were from the Philippines. I don't know if any of you know any Filipinos but they're really lovely people. Most of the immigrants were from Mexico, of course, but out of 14 soldiers, I think 9 or 10 of them were Filipino. Anyway, a woman sang the national anthem and then there was a videotaped message from President Bush. We registered to vote, they were quite intense about that. When it was time to get out certificates of naturalization, the soldiers walked through the hall first and I stood up and starting applauding them and so did 4,500 other people. I think they were really touched by that. The whole thing was very, very emotional for me, I cried all the way through, not sobbing, you know, but when you just can't stop the tears. It's been a long journey for me and something I'd wanted for a long time and I'd finally accomplished it. I love this country deeply and I feel complete now, very much at peace with that behind me, finally being done with lawyers and papers and blah. I didn't anticipate it having such an impact on me but it was truly one of the most significant events in my life.
Immediately after I got my certificate I had to give that back too. LOL. Only 'cos I applied for my passport right after the ceremony. I had pictures taken and had filled out the form beforehand in case I wanted to do that and I'm glad I did. It was very special, something I'll never forget, and I'm so very proud to be an American.
One thing that surprised me although I'm not sure why, is how many people changed their names at the ceremony. It made me think of my grandparents and countless other Jews who anglicized their names upon arrival in their adopted countries.
I was going to go out that night and celebrate but I was so exhausted that instead I took a hot shower and got in bed and drank champagne and watched Law & Order. Fabulous ;-) I was just ... happy.
Thank you, everyone, for the good wishes and the warm welcome. It means a lot to me.
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I'm extremely proud to have Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State; to me, she symbolises everything that is good about this country.
Indeed, it would take a heart of stone and an utter disregard for symbolism not to be a little moved at the images of Rice shaking hands with foreign dignitaries. Those pictures fairly yelled — "Look, this is America!" The message of her ascension to the top echelon of the U.S. government couldn't have come at a better time. When Bush is trying to reform a part of the world that has the lowest possible regard for women, Rice implicitly says women are as capable as men. When Bush wants Middle Eastern governments to respect pluralism and people of all faith and ethnicities, Rice implicitly says race and creed needn't matter. When Bush is extolling the power of freedom and American ideals, Rice implicitly says liberty and respect for human dignity can triumph over injustice, as they did in her 1950s-era Birmingham, Ala.
Rice on Tour
(a thimbleful of cognac to loverofallotherhaters)
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An Abortion Survivor
A baby survived at least three attempts to abort it from the womb and was born alive at 24 weeks old.
The boy was delivered in hospital after his 24-year-old mother changed her mind about wanting the child after feeling it move on the way home from an abortion clinic.
Although the clinic had told her an ultrasound scan had confirmed the child was dead, she went into labour that afternoon and the boy was born alive.
Now two years old and healthy, he is the first long-term abortion survivor to have been born so prematurely. His remarkable entrance into the world is documented in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Read the rest after the jump.
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Supply and demand: the price of a suicide bombing in Israel goes way up
Hezbollah recruiting bombers to derail truce
''Now they are willing to pay $100,000 for a whole operation, [suicide bombing] whereas in the past they paid $20,000, then raised it to $50,000," the second official said.
Wow. They must be really hurting for willing volunteers. Or else the IDF is getting really, really good at stopping suicide bombers.
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Iran-Russia Nuclear Connections: Deeper Than You Think!
With US-Iran confrontation on the way, this
is another piece of news from someone's Russian friends:
Iran's plans to become one of the largest suppliers of nuclear fuel are not related to the planned 2006 launch of the Bushehr nuclear power plant (NPP), the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) told RIA Novosti.
On Sunday, an Iranian state official announced Tehran's plans to become one of the largest global suppliers of nuclear fuel in 15 years.
Commenting on the statement, a Rosatom expert noted "the production of nuclear fuel is a very complex technological process, and it can be economically sound only if a country has several nuclear power plants."
In accordance with a Russian-Iranian agreement, Russia will supply nuclear fuel to the Bushehr NPP during the entire period of its operation. Therefore, Iran will be able to accomplish its plans only if it constructs several more nuclear power-generating units.
Russian experts are constructing the first power-generating unit at the Bushehr NPP with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts. The launch is planned for 2005, and the unit will become fully operational in 2006.
It was reported earlier that Russia planned to construct six power-generating units of the NPP in Iran over a ten-year period.
This is kind of: "In Soviet Russia, First They Build It, Then They Deny It!"
I have to admit the things are starting to get sense!
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I need a cheer up. How about you? Ohio Police Chief Finds Intruder on Piano
The police chief woke up in the middle of the night to discover a man playing Beethoven on his piano.
Chief Steve Swartzmiller grabbed his gun and went to investigate the noise. He found 19-year-old Shawn Chadwell drunk at the keyboard.
Swartzmiller said Chadwell had been looking for a friend's house when he mistakenly wandered in. He was charged with underage drinking and burglary.
The chief added that Chadwell played perfect Beethoven.
If only he had called me up, we could have played "Bella Ciao" together...
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Kim plays chicken; Bush plays poker
The world continues to react to North Korea's clearest statement yet that it possesses nuclear weapons. And major powers, despite cautious public statements, already appear to be weighing how they can best play the issue to their advantage. However, Pyongyang's Feb. 10 message was crafted with primarily one audience in mind, and ultimately it is only the United States that can halt the game of nuclear chicken.
The timing of the announcement is the biggest clue to North Korea's intent, as the official statement itself did little but confirm what long has been treated as de facto by much of the world, and was issued when most of Asia's reactions would be slowed by celebrations of the Lunar New Year.
Turning to its traditional mouthpiece, the Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang specifically mentioned President George W. Bush's inaugural and State of the Union addresses, as well as statements made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in its decision to abandon six-way negotiations on the nuclear issue. Though both officials gave short shrift to North Korea in their actual words, Pyongyang -- which is consumed by the need for regime preservation -- clearly sees itself targeted by the Bush administration's second-term priorities: to spread "American-style liberty and democracy" throughout the world and stem the spread of nuclear weapons. Through KCNA, the Foreign Ministry said officials expect nothing different in Bush's second term than they saw in the first, and called Washington's emphasis on six-party talks "a bid to mislead the world public opinion."
With typically tactful phrasing, the statement continued: "This is nothing but a far-fetched logic of gangsters as it is a good example fully revealing the wicked nature and brazen-faced double-dealing tactics of the U.S. as a master hand at plot-breeding and deception." Pyongyang long has been demanding direct attention and recognition of its sovereignty by the United States. In essence, the nuclear announcement was an ultimatum to Washington to drop the policy initiative of regime change in return for abandonment of North Korea's weapons program.
In many respects, the entire dynamic is eerily similar to that with Iran, which also has been engaging in a game of nuclear brinksmanship lately -- at least at the rhetorical level. Iran, however, has at least a few other cards in its diplomatic deck, not the least of which is oil.
But for Pyongyang, as the Foreign Ministry statement tacitly acknowledged, only the recognition of the world's sole superpower or a strong military deterrent will safeguard North Korea's sovereignty. And if North Korea were to test a nuclear weapon (the one step that would elevate the entire discussion from the rhetorical level), it stands to reason that other unarmed Asian states would be forced to pursue their own weapons initiatives. That, of course, would undermine the significance of the United States' own nuclear umbrella, as well as its global influence.
North Korea has left the door open for talks, but only on an equal diplomatic footing with the United States.
At this writing, the Bush administration has given no definitive reaction to Pyongyang -- we suspect deliberately. The problem for North Korea is that the White House consistently has refused to allow the situation to be shaped by wild-eyed statements from the Hermit Kingdom, and there appears to be no reason for Washington to treat this instance differently, despite worldwide media play.
North Korea might believe it has raised the stakes in the game of chicken, but it has yet to be seen if the United States is even playing the game.
I hadn't previously heard the argument that other Asian states in our sphere of influence like Japan and South Korea and Taiwan obtaining nuclear weapons is a challenge to our global influence and undermines our nuclear umbrella. I don't really buy it. Do the UK's and Israel's weapons respectively challenge our global influence and undermine our nuclear umbrella? No, but China's, Pakistan's, and North Korea's do.
Bush is playing this just right. The problem with the idea that North Korea is playing nuclear chicken is that either way we win
as long as we don't lose our nerve, whether Kim has or doesn't have weapons. It doesn't look like we're going to lose our nerve, thankfully.
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Stunning advance in the fight to eradicate tuberculosis
It's a dry scientific paper but it heralds a revolution: Protective effect of DNA vaccine during chemotherapy on reactivation and reinfection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Tuberculosis sounds like something from the early 1900s, when people went to "sanitariums" to convalesce. Well, it still kills 2 million people a year; worse, its arduous yearlong treatment course leads to many failing to complete their treatment, spawning and spreading super-resistant variants of the bacteria. Well, these two South Koreans have figured out a way to reduce the course of the treatment to 12 weeks and still totally eradicate the disease from the lungs. They're using a combination of a DNA vaccine and chemotherapy, as opposed to the typical course of antibiotics. The treatment with the vaccine and the chemotherapy must be simultaneous to be effective.
Here's where it gets really cool: the vaccine is made with plasmid DNA that expresses Tuberculosis antigens. In simplified English: you know that DNA is the "blueprint" for life. This DNA they're using in the vaccine "expresses" Tuberculosis antigens; that is, the DNA makes copies of proteins that exist on the surface of TB bacteria and which the immune system can then recognize and produce antibodies that attack it. The coolest part: plasmid DNA. Plasmids are circular, double-stranded, self-contained units of DNA that exist apart from bacteria's chromosomal DNA. They're one of the very mechanisms by which bacteria like TB build up antibiotic resistance!
And they're being used to insert genes that, when expressed in your body into the proteins characteristic of tuberculosis, help your immune system recognize and kill TB.
Isn't that fantastic?
Here's another creepy-cool thing to know about plasmids: some of them include a cellular addiction system; they express both a long-lived poison and a short-lived antidote. A cell smart enough to keep the plasmid around will live forever; one that gets rid of it will die because it presently runs out of antidote! Read about that and many more of plasmids' fascinating roles in bacteria over at Wikipedia's entry on plasmids.
And you thought mitochondria were weird!
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Sympathy for the Killers
Palestinian policemen, who have been given the task of restraining militants, say they can't or won't do the job. Interviewed at their front-line positions, some say they feel sympathy for the gunmen, while others fear getting shot at by Israeli troops.
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bloggie living room. evariste is pensive once again. zorkie is sitting by the fire, knitting a sweater and humming a happy tune.
zorkie: lovely day, isn't it, sweetie?
evariste: I need some pickle juice...
evariste: And strawberries. I need pickle juice and strawberries.
evariste: Oh and anchovies! zorkie, get me strawberries and pickle juice and anchovies, please baby?
zorkie: evariste, are you pregnant?
evariste: Ha-ha, pregnant, ha-ha...
evariste: Maybe a little bit...
zorkie: Whose is it?
evariste: What do you mean whose is it?
zorkie: I know you're cheating on Throbert...
evariste: zorkie, I'm shocked that you'd think that of me! Who told you such a thing?
zorkie: It's not important who (Lewis) told me, ev...
evariste: I'll kill him!
evariste: zorkie, I... I don't know, zorkie...I don't know whose baby I'm carrying!
(evariste starts sobbing heavily)
zorkie: Aww...sweetheart...it's all right honey, we'll go to the Jerry Springer show and figure it all out...
(bigel enters the room, strangely calm and composed)
bigel: evariste! What are you doing here?
evariste: I could ask the same of you, bigel!
bigel: Er...I just need to use the phone...
evariste sucks miserably on an anchovie while bigel pours a Dewar's and ice in a crystal tumbler. He looks at evariste and a little smile plays on his face. zorkie smiles lovingly at the camera and goes back to humming a happy tune.
Meanwhile in Monte Carlo...
Elevator of the luxurious hotel Monte Carlito in Monte Carlo. packen has suspiciously stopped the elevator and is talking on her cellphone.
packen: Hello, Michael.
Michael: Yes mom, I still keep kosher.
packen: Honey, I wasn't gonna say anything...
Michael: Of course not, how could you say anything? You wouldn't know kosher if it hit you in the face.
packen: Ok honey, calm down. I just had a quick question.
packen: Have you seen any suspicious activity around your place?
Michael: Mom, I live in a fucking dorm! Everything is suspicious!
packen: Hmm...I might have to come over and investigate...
packen: See you soon honey, I'll be flying in tonight.
Michael: Shit! Shit, shit, shit! Chris! We gotta do laundry, like right fucking now!
To be continued...
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Say Hello To The Hyperlinkopotamus
Look in the left sidebar. The hyperlinkopotamus is hungry. Feed him your random interesting links. He will show only the ten newest links he was fed. The hyperlinkopotamus doesn't have a name yet, but he does have a bottomless maw. Don't be a jerk and put annoying links, or you will lose link-adding privileges. Definition of annoying: hard core porn. Definition of don't worry, we won't add you to the hyperlinkopotamus ban list just for that: the kind of thing Frank IBC likes to link to on Cliff Yablonski Hates You ;-) try to keep your descriptions as short as possible, we don't need whole paragraphs of stuff in there.
Have fun with the hyperlinkopotamus! Oh, and we know everyone who posts a link in there. We won't look for no reason, but don't worry, if we use your link for a post you'll get a thimbleful of cognac, we'll know who you are.
The hyperlinkopotamus is hungry. Start feeding him!
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