Saturday, October 30, 2004

Most Dangerous Foods To Eat While Driving reports: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently published a report that 65% of Americans fessed up to eating while they were driving. Eating scored 57% as driving distraction. At least 20% of people admitted to using their thighs to steer while eating. Here's a list of the Most Dangerous Foods To Eat While Driving:

Coffee! It's hot!
Hot soups
Juicy hamburgers - dripping condiments
Barbecue - just messy
Fried chicken - greasy hands
Jelly and cream filled doughnuts - they ooze
Soft drinks -too easy to tip
Chocolate - drivers instinctively try to clean the smears and stains

Vampire Societies

"The Blood is the life." - Dracula

Facts about Blood:

Blood Types and Breakdown of Population by Percentage:
O+ 38% O- 7%
A+ 34% A- 6%
B+ 9% B- 2%
AB+ 3% AB- 1%

How Much Blood Does a Person Have?
Adult males have about 12 pints of blood in their circulation and adult females have about 9 pints.

The Blood Club - Vampyre Organizations []
Dark Society - Society Of Vampires
Society Of Vampires - Family of Daedalmacabre
The Vampire Codex []

Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines

The video game Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines will be released on November 16, 2004 by Troika Games.

Some comments from reviews of the new role playing game (RPG):

There's something uniquely satisfying about being evil. Evil gets to play with the best toys, listen to the best music, wear the best clothes and generally be sinister, introspective and cool. In game terms, being evil also means that you get to do all the things that make the good guys wince, like bursting people with blood-magic or biting them in the face. Vampire - The Masquerade: Bloodlines is the latest excuse to be deliciously evil.

Bloodlines definitely isn't an all-ages affair, and nothing makes that clear more than an early scene where you have to fight to the death with a serial killer wielding a severed arm. It's not Manhunt, but it does have its darker moments. a more gruesome touch blood and viscera has a tendency to splatter and stain the environment.

It's difficult to suppress a smile when you're slinking through alleys, vaulting over high walls and slitting the throats of your vampire and supernatural foes, or going in gun's blazing with your Uzi and katana combo! This is certainly not a game for either kids, or the faint hearted; but for anyone who thinks having a taste for claret and no pulse sounds cool, this is the game for you.
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines Hands-On []
Vampire: Bloodlines - price $49.99 []

"Manhunt" Video Game: Responsible for Teen Murder

Gaming Industry Peddles Murder-Ware to Teens

Viewpoint by Jon Newton at TechNewsWorld:

Take-Two says its Rockstar Games "markets its games responsibly, targeting advertising and marketing only to adult consumers ages 18 and older." But Rockstar's games are being played very enthusiastically by people younger than 18.

Take-Two Interactive Software, owner of the "Manhunt" video game that was banned in New Zealand and which sparked the adoption of new video/CD purchase and rental rules in Canada...

Recently a caption under a "Manhunt" graphic on CNET Networks' GameSpot said, "You get to meet -- and brutally kill -- some very interesting people."

The description says, "Manhunt ... serves up a disturbing blend of third-person stealth action that's equal parts 'Splinter Cell,' 'Tenchu,' and, because Rockstar loves its disturbing influences, snuff film."

"Snuff" film? This refers to a type of grotesque "reality" movie taken to its ultimate extreme. The victim -- usually a woman -- is video-taped while she's being mutilated and/or murdered. The "snuffy" is then sold to some very sick people.

But, "Rockstar loves its ... snuff film."

"Grand Theft Auto III" was blamed for inspiring two brutal murders in California, and a Haitian civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" because it instructed players to "kill the Haitians," awarding points for each kill.

Gaming Industry Peddles Murder-Ware to Teens []
A ‘Grand' instigator []

Friday, October 29, 2004

Join the DeVitti Crime Family

The Family Rules (The Six Pillars of the Family)

Respect: Respect your fellow family members with all your might. Respect higher ranking members with everything that you are. Always address a higher ranking member with "Mr." or "Boss." Address the Boss of the Family as Don DeVitti.

Obedience: A higher ranking member's word is law.

Subordination: Do not make any move without the approval of a higher ranking member.

Etiquette: We are not a bunch of street gangsters; we are a respectful Family. Amenity and disciplined behaviour is our sole foundation. Show your self-respect and modesty to EVERYONE, including your enemies.

Dedication: Family comes first - always! Remember that when you marry another sim that you are already married - married to the DeVitti Family.

Loyalty: If you break your loyalty to the Family, we will break every single bone in your little sim body.

10 Steps to join the family

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Genetically targeted bioweapons pose biggest threat to world

The Guardian reports: You could try, but probably wouldn't want to be around when you released it. The prospect that rogue scientists could develop bioweapons designed to target certain ethnic groups based on their genetic differences was raised this week in a report by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The report, Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity II, warns that construction of genetic weapons "is now approaching reality". Such "genetic bombs" could contain anthrax or bubonic plague tailored to activate only when genes indicated the infected person was from a particular group.

The report says the combination of human genome studies, the development of vectors capable of introducing harmful material to cells and new ways to disrupt genes should raise concerns about potential misuse.

Could you make a genetically targeted weapon? [The Guardian]
Scientists warn of growing bioweapons threat [USAToday]
Biological weapons pose biggest threat to world, scientists warn [The Scotsman]

Blackmailing with child pornography

Andy McCue and Dan Ilett at reported on this nasty new internet dirty trick:

Blue Square told to pay €7,000 or face smear email campaign…

A new ploy involving child pornography is being used by extortionists targeting online betting firms with denial of service blackmail threats.

Blackmailers warned UK-based online bookmaker Blue Square yesterday that they would send out emails in Blue Square's name containing child pornography unless the company paid a demand for €7,000.

The threat followed a more traditional denial of service attack that hit the company on Monday, taking Blue Square's site down for five hours.

The email was sent to Blue Square by a 'Bohan Krascevic' from a Yahoo! web email address with a '.se' Sweden suffix. It stated: "You have time until 5 Pm your local time. I will now start an attack for 1 hour. This will be 1/20 of the power I can do. Answer me and I will give you my e-gold account number which must be funded ASAP, 7000 EURO. Waiting for answer."
Betting websites blackmailed with child pornography []

Caller I.D. falsification service

Kevin Poulsen at SecurityFocus reports:

Web-based caller I.D. spoofing is back, and this time it's available to everyone.

A new website offer subscribers a simple Web interface to a caller I.D. spoofing system that lets them appear to be calling from any number they choose.

Called "Camophone," the service functions much like the site that struggled with an abortive launch last month: a user types in their phone number, the number they wish to call, and the number they'd like to wear as a disguise. The system instantly dials back and patches the call through with the properly-forged caller I.D.

Camophone is open to anyone with a PayPal account, at a rate of five cents per minute, pre-paid, with a five dollar, 100-minute minimum purchase

New Caller I.D. spoofing site opens []

Mercedes thieves stalk London with a tow truck

ThisIsLondon reports: A gang of professional criminals has stolen millions of pounds of cars - simply by lifting them off the streets with a tow-away truck.

And these thieves are not interested in just any old cars. They have been specifically targeting E-Class Mercedes Benz worth up to £62,000 ($112,000) each.

The gang operates in west London and has stolen more than 40 Mercedes since August. It strikes at night, using a low-lifter vehicle to move the car out of its parking space - often outside the owner's home - without causing a disturbance...

Once they are stolen, the Mercedes are shipped in containers to Europe or West Africa where there is a thriving market for used top-of-the range cars and where middlemen proceed to sell them on to unsuspecting customers.

Mercedes thieves armed with a tow truck []

The most dangerous songs to listen to while driving

Britain's RAC Foundation for Motoring, which has released a list of the top five songs you should never listen to while driving. These songs reportedly promote fast and dangerous driving:

Top five tunes you should ban from your car CD:

1 "Ride of the Valkyries" by Richard Wagner
2 "Dies Irae" from Giuseppe Verdi's "Requiem"
3 "Firestarter" by the Prodigy
4 "Red Alert" by Basement Jaxx
5 "Insomnia" by Faithless

What CAN you listen to safely while driving? This will do it fine, as long as the volume isn't turned up too loudly:

1 "Come Away with Me" by Norah Jones
2 "Mad World" by Gary Jules
3 "Another Day" by R&B singer Lemar
4 "Too Lost in You" by girl group The Sugababes
5 "Breathe Easy" by boy band Blue.

The RAC Foundation also doesn't like "cowboy clampers." A clamp, sometimes dubbed a "boot," is a metal device that locks over one wheel of the car, preventing it from rolling freely.

Don't Drive and Listen to THIS! []
RAC Foundation Hunt for UK's worst clamper []

Super Bacteria Invading Health Clubs

Channel 7 in Denver reports: MRSA Spreads Through Dirty Equipment, Towels

DENVER -- Some Denver Broncos and other NFL players are among the thousands of people who have been hit by what health experts call a new super bug. It's a bacterial infection dubbed 'Mersa.' That's an acronym for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

If you love a good workout, Mersa loves you. Until recently, Mersa, or MRSA, was pretty much confined to hospitals.

"It will attack anyone," said Steve Antonopolus, the Denver Broncos trainer.

"With the growth of this resistant organism in the community, we'll see more and more of this -- not less and less," said Dr. Carolyn Tillquist, of Porter Hospital.

Skin bacteria gaining foothold []
Super Bug Invading Health Clubs []

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Royal Navy to allow devil worship

CNN is reporting: London, England -- A devil-worshipping sailor in the Royal Navy has become the first registered Satanist in the British Armed Forces.

Chris Cranmer, 24, a technician serving on the Type 22 frigate Cumberland, has been officially recognized as a Satanist by the ship's captain.

That allows him to perform satanic rituals aboard and permits him to have a non-Christian Church of Satan funeral should he be killed in action.

A spokesman for Britain's Ministry of Defence told CNN Sunday that it had a duty to allow members of the forces to practice their religion.

Monday, October 25, 2004

What doomed Flight 587 and 265 people?

Flight 587
On November 12, 2001, American Airlines flight 587, an Airbus A300-600 on a scheduled flight to Santo Domingo, crashed into a neighborhood in Belle Harbor, New York shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport, killing all 260 persons aboard and 5 on the ground. The plane's vertical stabilizer and rudder and both engines separated from the aircraft before it impacted the ground. The NTSB will release its final report on the crash tomorrow, October 26th. It will likely say that it was extreme rudder maneuvers made by the flight 587 pilot in order to avoid wake vortices generated behind Japan Airlines flight 47 that led to the separation of the vertical stabilizer and rudder thus causing the crash. has collected numerous eyewitness accounts and other information that suggests the NTSB is wrong in its conclusion(s). Canada's National Post ran a story on August 27th, written by Stewart Bell, about information that was gathered from an Al Qaeda operative, Mohammed Mansour Jabarah. This article revealed that there was a belief at the top levels of Al Qaeda (no later than May 2002) that a shoe bomber had downed American Airlines Flight 587. Flight 587 coverage NTSB's Flight 587 Web Page (containing all UPDATES and other accident related info)

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Notorious Indian bandit killed

Koose Muniswamy Veerappan

The BBC reports: Police in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu say they have shot dead one of India's most wanted men, the bandit known as Veerappan. Police say he was killed along with three associates in a jungle forest.

Veerappan, a Tamil, was accused of more than 120 murders as well as kidnapping, smuggling and poaching and had been on the run for some 20 years.

Notorious Indian bandit shot dead [BBC]
Infamous Indian Bandit Killed [NPR]
Death of a legendary bandit [BBC]
Indian police hunt bandit online [BBC]
The hunt for India's elusive bandit [BBC]

Friday, October 22, 2004

Plague Found in Colorado Springs

KKTV 11 News reported:

The El Paso County Department of Health and Environment has determined that a tree squirrel has tested positive for the plague in the Colorado Springs area...

Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected flea. In humans the symptoms are high fever, chills, headache, severe prostration, and tender or swollen lymph glands. Health Department advises residents who experience these symptoms to contact their physician.

In Colorado, the last reported human case was in a woman from Weld County, the woman is fully recovered. In El Paso County, the last reported human case occurred in 1991.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Desert Camel Racing and Slavery

A story from HBO RealSports, Tuesday, October 19, 2004, hosted by Bryant Gumbel:

Camel racing, the oldest and most venerated sport in the Middle East, is a draw for some of the region's wealthiest sheiks, whose stables compete for grandiose prizes. Hidden behind lavish spectacles, however, is a disturbing reality. The tiny jockeys who compete in these races are victims of a horrible slave trade, all young boys who have been kidnapped or sold into slavery as mere infants. In addition to enduring inhumane living conditions and beatings, the boys are intentionally starved to keep their weight down. Weak from undernourishment, some are maimed or killed while trying to pilot the 1500-pound camels. Using hidden cameras, REAL SPORTS travels to the United Arab Emirates for a special expanded report on the perilous lives of camel jockeys and the pitiless human traffickers that exploit them. Correspondent Bernard Goldberg interviews John Miller, a State Department ambassador at large, to determine whether the U.S. government is doing enough to stop the practice in this tense political climate. [via Solotude]

Child camel jockeys in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) []
Feature: Boy-jockeys trafficked [upi]

UC Berkeley Computer Hacked: 1.4 Million Californians at risk

CNET reports: A computer hacker accessed names and Social Security numbers of about 1.4 million Californians after breaking into a University of California, Berkeley, computer system in perhaps the worst attack of its kind ever suffered by the school, officials said Tuesday.

"The investigation is continuing but we have no idea if the (personal) information has been compromised," said Carlos Ramos, assistant secretary at the California Health and Human Services Agency.

He said state agencies and the FBI were investigating, but the hacker had not been found.

The names accessed by the hacker were being used by a UC Berkeley researcher who had collected data on elderly people and individuals who provide in-home care to seniors to study the impact of wages on in-home care, Ramos said.

The data, which included home addresses, telephone numbers and dates of birth, was being used at the state's authorization but without the consent of the individuals whose information was being used in the study.

Whopping-Big Data Theft At U.C. Berkeley []

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Toshiba TV sends out SOS distress signal

Chris van Rossman's 20" flat-screen Toshiba television sent out a distress signal (at 121.5Mhz) that was picked up by an orbiting satellite.

The Civil Air Patrol and local police showed up at van Rossman’s apartment. Van Rossman was instructed to keep his TV turned off or face fines of up to $10,000 per day for emitting a false distress signal.

Mystery signal traced to TV [gazette-times]

Burlgar Strangles Himself on Lawnmower

AP reports: DUBLIN, Ireland - A suspected burglar accidentally strangled himself while trying to break into a house in the southwest Irish town of Tralee, police said Monday.

Police said the home owner discovered the body of a man Sunday afternoon hanging from the outside frame of a bathroom window. The victim appeared, they said, to have been standing on a lawnmower while trying to break in when he slipped off — and his sweater caught on a hook, choking him.

Cops: Burglary Suspect Strangles Himself [Yahoo]
Limerick man accidentally strangled during suspected burglary []

Monday, October 18, 2004

Scotland Yard tackles Lord Lucan cold case

The UK Telegraph reports: Scotland Yard is making a fresh attempt to solve the Lord Lucan murder case, 30 years after the peer vanished having apparently killed his children's nanny in the belief that she was his wife.

Detectives have prepared a new computer-generated image of how Lord Lucan would look today if he were still alive. They are also applying DNA techniques to the case that were not available at the time of the murder.

Lord Lucan, who would be nearing his 70th birthday if he were still alive, disappeared on the night of November 7, 1974 after Sandra Rivett, his children's nanny, was bludgeoned to death at the family's London home.

Here larked Lord Lucan, dipsomaniac jungle hippy []
Dead Lucky: Lord Lucan-The Final Truth []

Romanian Bear Attacks Picnic

Reuters reported this story about a she-bear attack. One of the worst attacks in many years. Romanian has thousands of brown bears living in and around the Carpathian Mountains. :

A brown bear in Romania killed one person and severely wounded nine others picnicking on a mountain pasture in Transylvania, a TV station said on Saturday.

Local mayor George Scriparu said riot police had been deployed in nearby woods to catch the bear after it went wild in the rural spot on the outskirts of Brasov city.

"It (the bear) even attacked the paramedics who arrived at the scene to help the wounded," Scripcaru told Realitatea TV.
Romanian bear kills one, injures 7

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Noise Pollution is Bad

Mellisa Williamson

Mellisa Williamson, 35, a Bullitt Avenue resident, worries about the effect on her unborn child from the sound of jackhammers. From the Roanoke Times, Virginia, Sept 20, 2004. [via]

Florida Boat Mystery

This case was reported on Fox News.

The 24-foot boat What's Left left Naples, Florida on Oct. 17 for a fishing trip. On board were three people: Neil Alan Eddleman, 13; Neil's father, Neil Wayne Eddleman, 48; the boat owner and friend, Gary Lisk, 61.

More than two weeks after the What's Left vanished, the boat washed ashore at Cape Canaveral hundreds of miles away on the opposite (East) coast of Florida.

Inside the wrecked boat was the body of Gary Lisk. The body was too badly decomposed for medical examiners to determine the cause of death. His body was later cremated.

The bodies of Eddleman Jr. and Sr. have not been found and there are numerous theories about what happened to them. Mostly sparked by the fact, that some people don't believe the boat could have drifted from Naples to Cape Canaveral.

Mystery surrounds missing SW Fla. father, son []
Missing-Neil Eddleman
Neil Alan Eddleman []

Human body is loaded with bacteria

Wired reports about scientists at Imperial College London who published a paper in Nature Biotechnology, Oct. 6 describing how most of the cells in your body are not your own, nor are they even human. They are bacterial.

More than 500 different species of bacteria exist in our bodies, making up more than 100 trillion cells. Because our bodies are made of only some several trillion human cells, we are somewhat outnumbered by the aliens. It follows that most of the genes in our bodies are from bacteria, too.

People Are Human-Bacteria Hybrid [Wired]

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Dead Man Keeps Paying Bills

Fox News reported on a bizarre story out of Canada:

A Winnipeg, Manitoba, man died nearly two years ago, but thanks to automatic bill payments, no one noticed.

Jim Sulkers, in his fifties, died sometime shortly after November 21, 2002. His mummified corpse was finally found in his apartment on August 25, 2004. There were no signs of foul play.

Dead Man Keeps Paying Bills [Fox News]

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Latino Gangs working for Al Qaeda?

This seems a little strange. Latino gangs are Catholic and Al Qaeda is Islamic, so why would they work together? William S. Lind writes for "Defense and the National Interest" about just such a possible link:

If, or rather when, the U.S. gets nuked, that is how the bomb will most likely be delivered: not by missile but by some Central American gang. Why? Because those gangs have the best delivery system for anything illegal. Mara Salvatrucha [MS-13] is already waging low-level 4GW [4th Generation Warfare] in the U.S., as many a police department could attest. And gangs, by their nature, are for hire. A few million al Qaeda dollars could easily rent Mara Salvatrucha’s delivery system. Before the rise of the state, when someone wanted to go to war, they rented whatever capabilities they needed: armies, galleys, a cook in their enemy’s kitchen who could add some “special” seasoning to his prince’s dinner, whatever. The Fourth Generation motto is, “Back to the future.”
Keeping Our SA Up []

related Johnsville stories:
Latino Gangs swarm back to US
Al-Qaeda Agents Crossing Mexican Border?
Hispanic Gangs in Rural America

Go to Jail for Selling a short Lobster tail

Wacky government regulations are being used by bureaucrats to terrorize small business owners. Karen Stealey from "My Business Magazine" reports:

It sounds like a fish tale, but two small-business owners, Bob Blandford and Abner Schoenwetter, are doing hard time – eight years and one month – in the federal penitentiary. Their crime? Importing the wrong size lobster tails in the wrong containers. Another small-business co-defendant is serving her own sentence: Diane Huang, a mother of two children ages 6 and 10, started her two-year stint in a prison in July.

John Rapanos -- a Michigan small-business owner -- faces 56 months in jail for filling in wetlands. But as Rapanos points out, the closest navigable water source is literally miles away. Charlie Johnson, a cranberry farmer in Carver, Mass., is also accused of filling in wetlands -- the same “wetlands” he’s farmed since 1958.
On Thin Ice []

Saturday, October 9, 2004

Killer 1918 flu virus recreated in the lab

The 1918 flu was the worst epidemic in American history, killing over 600,000. Some experts believe another killer influenza epidemic is overdue. The BBC reports on a recent flu study with serious implications:

Scientists have shown that tiny changes to modern flu viruses could render them as deadly as the 1918 strain which killed millions. A US team added two genes from a sample of the 1918 virus to a modern strain known to have no effect on mice.

Animals exposed to this composite were dying within days of symptoms similar to those found in human victims of the 1918 pandemic.

The research is published in the journal Nature.

The work of the US team, lead by Dr Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin, was carried out under the tightest security.
Killer flu recreated in the lab [BBC]
Gene from 1918 virus proves key to virulent influenza [innovations report]

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Air Force working on Antimatter Weapons reports:

The U.S. Air Force is quietly spending millions of dollars investigating ways to use a radical power source -- antimatter, the eerie "mirror" of ordinary matter -- in future weapons.

The most powerful potential energy source presently thought to be available to humanity, antimatter is a term normally heard in science-fiction films and TV shows, whose heroes fly "antimatter-powered spaceships" and do battle with "antimatter guns."

But antimatter itself isn't fiction; it actually exists and has been intensively studied by physicists since the 1930s.
One of the companies researching antimatter technology under a government contract is Positronics Research, LLC of Sante Fe, New Mexico.

Air Force pursuing Antimatter Weapons Program was touted publicly, then came official gag order []

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Wichita BTK Strangler

The Wichita BTK (Bind-Torture-Kill) Strangler story had a few new wrinkles recently.

• Pat Brown, a noted "Investigative Criminal Profiler," wrote a new profile of the serial killer on September 26th, 2004. She posted it at The Sexual Homicide Exchange, Inc.

Famous criminal profiler in Wichita for BTK case []
Profile of the BTK Strangler []

• KAKE-TV in Wichita reported that a British psychic, Dennis McKenzie, who had a hand in solving other murders, recently was in Wichita for two weeks with a film crew:

A British crew is heading home, but they left behind information from an expert who has helped catch killers in the past. This international intrigue could shed new light on the case.
BTK Back: International Intrigue [KAKE-TV]

• From the Wichita Eagle:
It was a motley crew that gathered in front of the house in southwest Wichita: Retired Wichita police Captain Bernie Drowatzky. Dennis McKenzie, a clairvoyant from Cambridge, England who said he was working on the most challenging criminal case in his career. And a London film crew that was working on a documentary about Wichita's BTK strangler.
Documentary crew seeking visions of BTK []

• Robert Beattie who is writing a book whose working title is "THE HUNT FOR THE BTK STRANGLER" commented on the case in a recent letter:
This is a story of the efforts, conflicts, and frustration of those in law enforcement, of the suffering of the victims and their families and friends, of the forgotten grievers including the journalists, psychologists, and prosecutors, as well as many others in our community who have been traumatized.

My book will be completed soon. When it will see print depends on decisions by the publisher.
BTK (Bind, Torture, & Kill) Strangler Info [TJN, consolidated/updated info.]

Training Cowards?

The South Vietnamese Army was "well trained" when the last U.S. troops left them alone to fight North Vietnam in 1973. Saigon fell to the Communists on April 30, 1975. Have to agree with William Lind regarding training troops in Iraq. He said:

When asked for their solution to the mess in Iraq, both of America’s presidential candidates – Tweedledumb and Tweedlephony – advance the same line: “train more Iraqi security forces.” Once enough Iraqis have been trained, they suggest, American troops can be withdrawn and our puppet Iraqi government can stand on its own six legs. Unfortunately, the problem is not training, but loyalty. All the training in the world is worthless if the people being trained have no reason to fight for those who are training them. And a paycheck isn’t much of a reason, especially when the fellow Iraqis they are to battle are fighting for God.

Throughout history, armies of hirelings have melted at a touch when faced with people fighting for something they believe in. All the training in the world will make no difference. The core problem is the deepest taproot of Fourth Generation war: the “state” Iraqi security forces are being told to fight for has no legitimacy. When Bush and Kerry argue that we can avoid defeat in Iraq by training more Iraqis to do the fighting for us, they are indulging in a grand illusion. [via J. Robb]

Saturday, October 2, 2004

Casting Call: Wanted Exotic Diseases Willing to Travel

NBC's new television series Medical Investigation is a serious "who done it" mystery. Every week the CDC's disease detectives attempt to figure out what disease or malady is killing or making people sick. The technical consultants and writers on this show have an interesting job as they cook up mysterious outbreaks and cast exotic diseases as the sinister villains.

Unfortunately, for every winner in Hollywood there is a loser. We have to feel sorry for some of our old diseases that just might not make the cut with the new show. Some perhaps if they are very lucky might get a cameo as a suspect. But some new and old faces might land plum parts. Here's a short list of the gossip on who's up and who is down and out in the disease community:

Sal Monella (Salmonella) - has had long successful career in the restaurant business. Had a steady gig on TV series Alice in the late 70's and early 80's - worked in "Mel's Diner". Currently looking for work in a realty show with a chef or kitchen theme. A possible cameo on Medical Investigations as a suspect might be a possibility. His people are working on it. Many often wonder what kind of germ is Sal. Truth is he's a real dirt bag.

Rick Ettsia (Rickettsia) - Rick Ettsia is his given or real name, but most know him by his more famous stage name: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Rick or Rocky may have to wait a couple of seasons to get on since his close cousin Coxiella Burnetii (Q fever) had the lead on the show recently (Sept. 24, 2004). Pals around with the "Arthropod Vectors" gang [Variety called them the "New Rat Pack"] and hangers on like Borrelia Burgdorferi. Currently spends most of his free time hiking on the trails around Vail and Aspen. Winters in Mexico.

Borrelia Burgdorferi (Borrelia burgdorferi) - best know for his role as Lyme Disease. Great shot at 2nd or 3rd season. Hangs out with celeb's like Paul Newman and Martha Stewart in Westport, CT these days. Currently making a bundle on syndication deals while wasting away in Marthaville.

Ty Phoid (typhoid) - 1st cousin of Sal Monella. Both are old timers who broke into the biz years ago. Does the occasional guest shot these days in some foreign films. Had a famous road show gig with a gal named Mary Mallon back at the turn of the century. Mary was a great cook. Does not realistically have much of a shot for MI the next several years, but would take a cameo if offered.

Po Lee Oh (polio) - Asian fellow, walks with a limp, near the end of his career and the death pool has him as a marked man. Hasn't worked in this country since 1979. Insiders are wondering if the MI writers would risk bring him back even for a cameo given his prior record of messing with children.

Hem O'Rrhoid (hemorrhoids) - sorry Hem you'll have to stick to making commericials.

Jock Itch (Tinea cruris) - Sorry Jock, like Hem, you and all your lowly ring worm friends will not be working on Medical Investigation.

2004 West Nile Virus Activity in the United States

Map of West Nile Virus Activity for 2004

reported to CDC as of October 1, 2004

Map shows the distribution of avian, animal, or mosquito infection occurring during 2004 with number of human cases if any, by state. If West Nile virus infection is reported to CDC from any area of a state, that entire state is shaded.

Medical Investigation: NBC's disease of the week TV Series

The NBC television series Medical Investigation is based on the work of the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officers. The EIS works on the front lines of public health to identify and combat the root causes of major epidemics in this country and around the world.

The "disease detectives" at EIS work to locate causes of both known and unknown diseases.

The cases the fictional disease detectives on Medical Investigation see are summarized and documented on the CDC website. Here is a list of the episodes and diseases they have worked on so far:

"Escape" [first broadcast September 24, 2004]
Q fever - caused by Coxiella burnetii.
histoplasmosis - disease caused by a fungus spread through the ventilation system.

"Coming Home" [September 17, 2004]
hantavirus pulmonary syndrome - (HPS) as a possible cause of Acute Respiratory Disease Syndrome (ARDS)

"In Bloom" [September 10, 2004]
• accidentally poisoning by organophosphates, a chemical pesticide
• diet pill containing a tapeworm

Series Preview [September 9, 2004]
Methemoglobinemia - accidental poisoning by sodium nitrate, victims turn blue
• newborn with rare bone disease

Pet Hamster Kills Owner

A man died from asthma after being bitten several times by his pet hamster in Saitama, a city north of Tokyo, Japan, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Tuesday.

The man, who was in his 40s, suffered from an allergic disease called anaphylaxis (aka anaphylactic shock) after the hamster's saliva entered his body, setting off asthmatic symptoms.

Even before being admitted to the hospital, his heart and lungs had stopped functioning. He died shortly afterwards.

Killer hamster ices owner [The Register]
Man dies after pet hamster bites him [Washington Times]

Anaphylaxis to Food [from]:

Peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, cashews, etc.), shellfish, fish, milk, and eggs commonly cause anaphylactic reactions. Only a trace amount of a problem food can cause a reaction in some individuals.

In the U.S., food-induced anaphylaxis is believed to cause about 30,000 trips to the emergency room and between 150 to 200 deaths each year. Individuals who are allergic to foods and have asthma are believed to be at a higher risk for developing an anaphylactic reaction.

A recent study of 32 cases of fatal food-allergy induced anaphylaxis showed that adolescents who have peanut and tree nut allergy and asthma and don't have quick access to epinephrine, EpiPen®, during a reaction, are at highest risk for a fatal reaction.

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