Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

May 27, 2005

Surgery for Bad Bearth

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:45 pm

No, that’s not a spelling mistake!

Yukon the Polar Bear Has ‘Breath Surgery’

The Associated Press
Friday, May 27, 2005; 8:55 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Yukon the polar bear underwent surgery that zookeepers hope will clear the air.

The 16-year-old polar bear got an infected tooth pulled Thursday at Seneca Park Zoo. A team of veterinarians used a small hammer and chisel to remove it.

The 805-pound bear was the perfect patient. He remained still on a large examination table, sighing occasionally during the hour-long procedure, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported Friday. Of course, he was sedated.

The doctors linked the tooth to Yukon’s bad breath.

“You can just enter his den and you can smell it,” said Dr. Jeff Wyatt, the zoo’s director of Animal Health and Conservation. “It’s kinda funky.”

Wyatt, who performed the surgery, said Yukon’s tooth problem is actually quite common in older bears.

Zoo officials said the bear — and his breath — are expected to make a full recovery in a few weeks.

Quickest Broken Promise

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:43 pm

Everyone knows some politicians sometimes break promises, but usually they at least have the decency to wait a little while between making the promise and breaking it, so it’s not so obvious. Usually they even let an election intervene. And usually, we’re talking about individuals breaking promises, not whole parties.

But this time, the Senate Democrats broke their promise not to filibuster the nomination of John Bolton after only two days.

Reuters, Tuesday, May 24, 7:55pm:

Democrats clear way for Senate vote on Bolton

By Vicki Allen

Tue May 24, 7:55 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats agreed on Tuesday to clear the way for the Senate to vote on the controversial nomination of John Bolton as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, which was expected to pass mainly on party lines.

Two days and 55 minutes later, Associated Press:

Democrats Force Delay of Bolton Final Vote

May 26, 8:50 PM (ET)

By Anne Gearan

WASHINGTON (AP) – Democrats forced a delay Thursday in a confirmation vote for John R. Bolton, yet another setback for President Bush’s tough-talking choice as U.N. ambassador and a renewal of intense partisanship in the Senate after a brief respite.

The vote to advance Bolton’s nomination to an immediate confirmation vote was 56-42 – four short of the 60 votes that Bolton’s Republican backers needed.

This time, they didn’t even vote for it before they voted against it! ;-)

(Hat tip: Sean Hannity.)

Are Buckeyballs Toxic?

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:48 pm

In 1985, three chemists — Robert F. Curl, Jr. and Richard E. Smalley of Rice University and Harry W. Kroto of the University of Sussex — discovered a new form of pure carbon (in addition to graphite and diamond), which consists of 60 carbon atoms arranged in a sphere-like “cage.” The cage has the shape of a geodesic dome (although the dome is only a half-sphere), so they named the molecule after Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the geodesic dome. So the C60 molecule is called “buckminsterfullerene.” But that’s a mouthful, and C60 also looks like a soccer ball, so they molecules are sometimes affectionately called “buckyballs.” They eventually discovered other ball-like configurations, such as C70 and C20; the general class of cage-like carbon molecules is now called “fullerenes.” (Click here for more information on C60 and other fullerenes.) For their discover, Curl, Smalley, and Kroto got the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996

For good theoretical reasons, it has long been assumed that fullerenes are insoluble in water, and this inert in a wide variety of environments. Some have suggested using fullerenes to “carry” smaller molecules inside the “cage” for medical purposes — that is, to deliever drugs to specific parts of the body. However, according to this article, it turns out that C60 can form “clusters” in water, and can inhibit the growth of certain bacteria. So, it could turn out to be toxic — or to be a useful antibiotic.

Stay tuned!

This will at least not bore you

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:14 pm

I’m sure everyone will have a reaction to this — some will be elated, others will be scared, and other will have reasons for believing it’s not accurate. But here it is, from USA Today:

Poll majority say they’d be likely to vote for Clinton

By Susan Page, USA TODAY

For the first time, a majority of Americans say they are likely to vote for
Hillary Rodham Clinton if she runs for president in 2008, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday.

Clinton commands as much strong support – but more strong opposition – as George W. Bush did in a Newsweek poll in November 1998, two years before the 2000 election. She is in slightly stronger position than then-vice president
Al Gore, the eventual 2000 Democratic nominee, was in 1998.

“Over time, Clinton fatigue has dissipated … and people are looking back on the Clinton years more favorably,” says Andrew Kohut, director of the non-partisan Pew Research Center. In a Pew poll released this month, Kohut called former president
Bill Clinton and the senator “comeback kids” because of their rising ratings.

In the poll, 29% were “very likely” to vote for Clinton for president if she runs in 2008; 24% were “somewhat likely.” Seven percent were “not very likely” and 39% were “not at all likely” to vote for her.

Her strong support has risen by 8 percentage points, and her strong opposition has dropped by 5 points since the same question was asked in June 2003.

One reason to doubt the results:

An overwhelming 80% of liberals were likely to support her, compared with 58% of moderates and 33% of conservatives.

33% of conservatives??? 33% of conservatives would vote for one of the most liberal politicians on the scene today? Either that’s wrong, or people are identifying themselves as “conservatives” based on a different definition of conservative than anything I’ve heard.

Always Blame the Inanimate Objects

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:39 am

In 1997, Britain banned essentially all private ownership of handguns. The intent, of course, was to reduce crime. The effect, of course, was the opposite:

Crime was not supposed to rise after handguns were banned in 1997. Yet, since 1996 the serious violent crime rate has soared by 69%: robbery is up by 45% and murders up by 54%. Before the law, armed robberies had fallen by 50% from 1993 to 1997, but as soon as handguns were banned the robbery rate shot back up, almost back to their 1993 levels.

The 2000 International Crime Victimization Survey, the last survey done, shows the violent-crime rate in England and Wales was twice the rate in the U.S. When the new survey for 2004 comes out, that gap will undoubtedly have widened even further as crimes reported to British police have since soared by 35%, while declining 6% in the U.S.

In addition, over the last few decades, Britain has gradually reduced the right to self-defense, to the point that is doesn’t exist anymore in any meaningful sense:

Rather than permitting people to protect themselves, the authorities’ response to the recent series of brutal attacks on home-owners has been to advise people to get more locks and, in case of a break-in, retreat to a secure room – presumably the bathroom – to call the police. They are not to keep any weapon for protection or approach the intruder. Someone might get hurt. If that someone is the intruder the resident will be sued by the burglar and vigorously prosecuted by the state.

For almost 500 years, until 1954, England and Wales enjoyed a declining rate of violent crime. In the last years of the 19th century, when there were no restrictions on guns, there was just one handgun homicide a year in a population of 30 million people. In 1904 there were only four armed robberies in London, then the largest city in the world.

The practical removal of the right to self defence began with Britain’s 1920 Firearms Act, the first serious limitation on privately-owned firearms. It was motivated by fear of a Bolshevik-type revolution rather than concerns about householders defending themselves against robbers. Anyone wanting to keep a firearm had to get a certificate from his local police chief certifying that he was a suitable person to own a weapon and had a good reason to have it. The definition of “good reason”, left to the police, was gradually narrowed until, in 1969, the Home Office decided “it should never be necessary for anyone to possess a firearm for the protection of his house or person”. Since these guidelines were classified until 1989, there was no opportunity for public debate.

Self defence within the home was also progressively legislated against. … The public were told that society would protect them and their neighbours. If they saw someone being attacked they were to walk on by, and leave it to the professionals.

Finally, in 1967, tucked into an omnibus revision of criminal law, approved without discussion, was a section that altered the traditional standards for self-defence. Everything was to depend on what seemed “reasonable” force after the fact. It was never deemed reasonable to defend property with force.

So what to do after you ban guns and self-defense, and crime increases? According to three British doctors, the answer is: ban pointed kitchen knives.

I mentioned this to my wife, and her first reaction was, “Is this a joke?” No, it’s not a joke, it’s not a parody, and the only “joke” is that they are actually being entirely serious. This was published in the British Medical Journal, and I think we should take it precisely as seriously as we would take an article on cancer treatment appearing in a criminology journal. But alas, the BBC at least seems to be taking it seriously. As is the British government, which had this response:

Home Office spokesperson said there were already extensive restrictions in place to control the sale and possession of knives.

“The law already prohibits the possession of offensive weapons in a public place, and the possession of knives in public without good reason or lawful authority, with the exception of a folding pocket knife with a blade not exceeding three inches.”

Oh, so it’s already illegal to carry knives in public. So no one can buy one and take it home from the store through a public place. So nobody has one anyway.

So that is why the rate of stabbing has increased so much in recent years … waitaminute….

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