Monday, April 30, 2007

The Supreme Court: Run from the cops and get hurt? Don't bother suing the cop.

I bet Deputy King is pleased to read this ruling!

Trouble in the Ecosystem. Is it due to Al Gore's Carbon Emmissions?

I have been a "Flippery Fish" or even a "Crawly Amphibian" for some time, suddenly, overnight, I have dropped to "Insignificant Microbe" and I do not know why. My traffic is about the same, if anything, it is up a bit. I'm getting hits from all sorts of interesting places of late. So I am forced to conclude that either there is something gone awry with the ranking system at NZ Bear's joint, or there is some sort of blogburst going on that I am apparently unaware of that is skewing the results. Either way, I think that the ranking is going to go buh-bye, it serves no purpose and gives people an inaccurate indication of the impact of my writing. After all, as I said, I'm getting hits from some very influential places and organizations, many in and around Austin. They may or may not like what I have to say, but they are seeing it, and that is of course the first step. They either agree, or they are afraid others will.

UPDATE: in perusing others that are similarly reduced to single celled organism status I find I apparently have some interesting company. Some other "Insignificant microbes":

Clayton Cramer
Anti-Idiotarian Rottwieler
The Volokh Conspiracy
Daily Kos
Democratic Underground

I'm not saying I hold a candle to Instapundit (I Wish!), but obviously the wheels have fallen off the wagon here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

How many more must die? "Gun Free Zones" = "Free Fire Zones"

Ladies and gentlemen, I am embarking on a mission of sorts. I would ask that you consider joining me in the endeavor. All of us have heard and read about the killing rampage that occurred at Virginia Tech as well as the rampage out at JSC as well as the apartment complex out on Post Oak. The death toll amongst these three alone is something like 37 people. Two of the three occurred on a government mandated "gun free zone", and I'd bet that the apartment complex had a "gun free workplace" rule for it's workers. I myself work for an employer that stipulates that no employee may bring a weapon onto the property, and that includes the parking lot which has the effect of even banning them from our vehicles going to and from work. However, we do not have the legally mandated gun ban signs, which means that visitors may legally carry, only employees may not. As we see from these examples, "gun free zones" fail to take into account that those who would do us great bodily harm, care little about the rules. Loss of their job or incarceration is nothing compared to the fact that if they survive the encounter (most chose to save the last bullet for themselves), their biggest worry will be whether they get the death penalty or not.

While it is outside the realm of possibility to do something about the federally mandated "free fire zones" at JSC with a state law, and it would be a difficult exercise to impose such a gun free zone ban on a private employer or private property beyond the bill that allows employees to keep their weapons in their vehicles that has already passed, we CAN look to lift such bans from public buildings such as schools and college campuses.

Unfortunately, we have a very small window of opportunity to do something about this, this legislative session. Barring a special session, if we do not get something passed in the next week or so, we will have to wait two years to revisit this. By that time we will be confronted with two major obstacles: The Democrats may have increased their power base (all the demographers and political analysts think this is a lock to occur), and time will have passed and the issue will not be fresh in everyone's mind (unless yet another mass shooting takes place). I for one do not want to ask myself "what if?" when the next shooting takes place, and mark my words, another shooting will occur, there is no way to prevent it, but we can allow people the means to stop it before the death toll rises too high.

Dr. Gratia Hupp, "The Mother of CHL in Texas", as well as a survivor of the 1991 Luby's massacre, one of the bloodiest prior to the Va Tech shooting. Gave an interview to Austin's CBS affiliate last week and said much the same thing.

I urge you to contact your representatives in Austin and ask them to find a bill that is still in process that can be amended to remove the restriction of lawful concealed carry in all state and local government buildings with the exception of the capitol itself, and courthouses. Let us try, we cannot know how many lives we may save, but we can know how many we will lose.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

If not Gliese 876, then maybe Gilese 581....

Building Harlequin's Moon was an apparent bust before it even hit the presses, but this sounds a lot like Larry Niven's Jinx...

Paige Patterson gets it.

The head of the Southern Baptist Seminary says that if students ever find themselves in a position of being confronted by a killer like Cho that they should attempt to overpower him instead of waiting to be shot like sheep.

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, made the comments at an April 18 chapel service, two days after Seung-Hui Cho fatally shot 32 people before killing himself.

"All you had to do was have six or eight (students) rush him right at that time and 32 people wouldn't have died," he said. "You don't let things like that happen, guys. We just don't do it."

Looking for a favor.

I'm trying to figure out how to contact Dr. Suzanne Gratia Hupp. The latest contact information I have is for her campaign office in Lampasas, but since she is no longer in the Legislature I do not know if that mailing address is even still valid. If anyone knows how to contact her, I would appreciate someone dropping me a line at with the info.

Update, nevermind, It would appear someone has found her phone number and address for me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus has arrived.

Unintended Consequences of Gun Control in the Comics

Courtesy Brewster Rockit : Space Guy!

When the fecal matter impacts the rotary oscillator....

The cops usually show up just in time to chalk mark the outlines of the victims.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Clay Robison Jumps the Shark, TWICE.

Remember Christian Trejbal ? The moron that published the entire CCW database for Virginia on the web? Well, Houston has it's own village idiot: Clay Robison. Now Clay didn't go and publish a database of ALL CCW holders, just the ones in the Legislature, you know, so if someone wanted to hurt one of them, they'd know who might be packing and all..... and when it was determined that he missed a couple, he published a corrected version. Apparently he doesn't much care for HB991 which would make that information available only to law enforcement personnel so he went and proved why it must pass. What a moron.

The Republican Dream Team for 2008

I'd like to see:
Fred Thompson for Pres.
Duncan Hunter for Vice Pres.
John Bolton for Sec State
Tom Tancredo for head of DHS

Any suggestions for the others? Warren Buffet for Tres Sec maybe?

Virginia Tech had a manual too...

In response to Steve Head's talk about a campus violence manual, I would like to point out that Virginia Tech has just such a manual too.
Here is an exerpt:

Crisis Management
When confronted with an angry person:
During an event, use the flowing steps as means to attempt to diffuse the situation.
* Put departmental plan into action.
* Try to stay calm. Raising your own voice may increase the anxiety of the potentially violent person.
* Speak slowly, softly, and clearly to reduce the momentum of the situation.
* Ask the belligerent person to leave and come back at a time when they feel more calm.
* Move away from any objects, such as scissors or heavy objects, which may be employed as a weapon.
* Avoid challenging body language such as placing your hands on your hips, moving toward the person, or staring directly at them. Remain seated and do not turn your back on the individual.
* Position yourself, if possible, so that an exit route is readily accessible.
* Listen empathetically by really paying attention to what the person is saying. Let the person know that you will help them within your ability to do so or you will send for additional help.
* Remain helpful while you summon your supervisor for assistance. Sometimes, the opportunity to talk to a supervisor will help satisfy an irritated client.
* Neither agree with distorted statements nor attempt to argue - REMAIN CALM. Avoid defensive statements. This is not the time to place blame back on the enraged person.
* Ask questions to help regain control of the conversation.
* Ask uninvolved parties to leave the area if this can be done safely. Use the prearranged code word to alert your coworker to call University Police.
* Never challenge, try to bargain, or make promises that you cannot keep.
* Describe the consequences of any violent behavior.
* Do not physically touch an outraged person, or try to force them to leave.
* Calmly ask the person to place any weapons in a neutral location while you continue to talk to them.
* Never attempt to disarm or accept a weapon from the person in question. Weapon retrieval is only to be done by a University Police Officer.
* Observe Who, What, Where, When for reporting purposes

Steps to take in violent situations:
Recognize the reality of what is happening, remembering that it may seem unreal because it is so far removed from your normal experience.
• Remain calm and proceed in a logical, rational manner.
• Take shelter, assisting others if necessary and possible.
• Assess the situation in terms of the degree of threat, injury, or damage.
• Summon help as appropriate using the following guidelines.
Yeah, I can see how well those worked....

Tenessee lege committee approves a bill allowing Concealed carry in most government places

Tennessee Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, and Rep. Rob Briley, D-Nashville gets it!

The Nuge Agrees....

Gun Free zone or Free Fire zone?

So Does Fred Thompson. (I'm really starting to like this guy....)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

NHMCCD leadership thinks facility is safe. They are as delusional as Cho.

The following two emails were circulated on campus by John Pickelman and Steve Head:

From: Pickelman, John
Sent: Wed 4/18/2007 10:39 AM
To: All Employees
Subject: Virginia Tech Tragedy

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As the impact of the Virginia Tech tragedy is felt across the country and most certainly on college campuses, I add my prayers and condolences to those of the nation for the senseless loss. A tragedy of such magnitude certainly gives us all pause and underscores our need to be vigilant. I want to assure you each that we take the safety and security of our employees and students very seriously. Although, we routinely review security and emergency response procedures to insure that all systems are in place and working properly, in light of the events this week, each college is undertaking a special review of all systems and procedures to insure that the NHMCCD campuses are protected and safe environments for those who work and study here. JP

From: Head, Steve
Sent: Tue 4/17/2007 9:22 PM
To: North Harris Employees
Cc: Pickelman, John; Laughter, Ray; Hill, Tom; Gilliam, Cindy; Byas, Renee S; Stubblefield, Judy; Lestarjette, Steve; Cooke, Sunita; Figueroa, Julia A; Gregory, Richard; Head, Steve; Luehrs-Wolfe, Linda; Oburn, Martha L; Westerfeld, Penny; Zizelmann, Nockie
Subject: NHC Security Discussion

NHC Faculty and Staff:

In response to the events at Virginia Tech yesterday, I met with Andre, Cher, Dick Gregory, Cyndie Burch, and Bennie this afternoon to discuss our situation and how we need to proceed (I returned from out of town after lunch). Many of you had questions and thoughtful suggestions that I think merit our full discussion as a college.

I think the entire college feels that we should review our current response plans and assess “lessons learned” from what occurred.

I’ve asked Cher Brock to lead a meeting of faculty and staff later this week to review the ideas and proposals that were forwarded yesterday and how we can as a college raise the awareness of any response plans. Bennie Lambert will prepare a note to all students with an update from the college and seek their input.

A couple of points worth noting:

-NHC is one of the safest colleges in the country. (All NHMCCD colleges are safe).

-NHC does have an excellent Emergency Response Guide that is provided to all employees.

-The NHC Police Department is generally prepared for emergencies and has responded appropriately in the past.

The problems we face in dealing with potential issues are several:

-NHC is an open campus with multiple entry points.

-NHC does not have a campus intercom or communication system (few colleges do).

-How to communicate with employees and students in an emergency—a major challenge.

In hindsight, I agree that we should have sent out a note to all employees as the events unfolded. I was out of town and didn’t fully grasp the magnitude of the event until late yesterday when my first note was sent. We will work on that in case something similar occurs in the future.

We will review some concrete proposals that came from today’s discussions and emails including installation of LCD panels in all buildings with notices of emergencies on campus; posting current emergency numbers in all offices and classrooms; installing signs with emergency numbers in the parking lots (May); and possibly placing cameras in various buildings.

I think we all realize that this could happen at NHC. I ask again that you remind students that if they are having personal issues or show signs of abnormal behavior, NHC has an excellent Counseling Office. If that doesn’t work, let Bennie’s know so we can determine if the situation is serious. Similarly, we have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that is covered by insurance. Participants are not revealed to the college, but we will assist employees with personal issues if they ask.

This is a college wide issue, so if you have ideas and suggestions, please feel free to share them with your supervisor, dean, Cher, Andre, Bennie, Dick Gregory or Claude Taylor, Cyndie Burch, Dorothy Reade, Alan Hall, Kathy Bible, or me. We will include any interested person and give full consideration to every idea.



I have news for John Pickelman and Steve Head, if they think the campus is safe, they are delusional.
Let us fisk, shall we?

"-NHC is one of the safest colleges in the country. (All NHMCCD colleges are safe)."

If you think that just because nothing has ever happened that it cannot, you sir are stupid. That is like saying that just because you have never died in a car accident in your vehicle that the vehicle is somehow inherently safe. Everyone with half a brain understands that that only proves that you have been lucky enough that it has not happened to you yet, not that it cannot ever happen. Safety is a relative term with no objective means of measurement short of statistical probabilities.

"-NHC does have an excellent Emergency Response Guide that is provided to all employees."

Are instructors trained to hold this manual up to stop bullets or something? Is the manual printed on Kevlar or something? It is a MANUAL. A manual is no better than the person implementing it's contents, if the person does not execute the procedure, the manual is nothing more than a doorstop. I'd be willing to bet most of the employees skimmed it at best and promptly forgot over 50% of what was in it. It was yet another manual that the administration dropped on their desk about something that was unlikely to ever happen so it's priority was probably not terribly high for most readers. This sounds like someone is trying to build a case for plausible deniability in a court of law, not someone who cares about the actual outcome. The statement screams "Don't blame me! We published a PROCEDURE!"

"-The NHC Police Department is generally prepared for emergencies and has responded appropriately in the past."

How many cops does the district have? Over how many campuses? Even for the ones on the campus that is having the shooting, how long would it take for them to be alerted and to respond? Cho on average spent about 30 seconds to a minute in each classroom. He shot something on the order of 60 people, that could not have taken all that terribly long to accomplish. I figure, if they humped it, a cop could get from one end of the NHC campus to the other in about 3-4 minutes. But how long would it take to get the information to them? Since the communications system campus wide is non-existent, how exactly do you plan to inform the police that such a rampage is underway?

All three challenges Steve Head lists are correct.

So, how do you secure the campus? Here is a suggestion: Remove the restriction on CCW holders legally carrying on campus. Your cops cannot be everywhere all the time and even if they were, they are under no legal requirement to protect everyone all the time. A restriction on carrying a weapon on campus only applies if the person cares to comply. Cho had two weapons in his dorm on campus in violation of VT's edict, obviously HE didn't care to comply. If the cops cannot protect the faculty and students, and the college cannot protect the faculty and students, then it is up to the faculty and students to protect themselves. CCW holders are much less likely to go nutters on you and hose down the building. They have undergone background checks and training. Is the system foolproof? No it is not, no system is, but the statistics bear out that CCW holders are far more law abiding than the general population.

Here is another suggestion: Put in a two way intercom into every classroom. A message board is the stupidest idea I've ever heard floated. Are you going to put one in every classroom? if so, wouldn't an intercom be much more useful? The wiring requirement is virtually the same, and most classrooms are already wired with Ethernet, so a VoIP solution should not be difficult or terribly expensive to install. Surely someone has designed and sold such a system. But even assuming they have not, pulling wire for an analog intercom is not rocket science.

A message board is one way communication. But how do you report an incident in progress if you don't have an effective means to talk back? This sounds more like a means to broadcast college propaganda instead of emergency information.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A VA Tech graduate student on being unarmed on campus

Dated August 21, 2006. Yes you read that right, 8 months before the Cho shooting. From Clayton Cramer's blog:

On Aug. 21 at about 9:20 a.m., my graduate-level class was evacuated from the Squires Student Center. We were interrupted in class and not informed of anything other than the following words: "You need to get out of the building."

Upon exiting the classroom, we were met at the doors leading outside by two armor-clad policemen with fully automatic weapons, plus their side arms. Once outside, there were several more officers with either fully automatic rifles and pump shotguns, and policemen running down the street, pistols drawn.

It was at this time that I realized that I had no viable means of protecting myself.

Please realize that I am licensed to carry a concealed handgun in the commonwealth of Virginia, and do so on a regular basis. However, because I am a Virginia Tech student, I am prohibited from carrying at school because of Virginia Tech's student policy, which makes possession of a handgun an expellable offense, but not a prosecutable crime.

I had entrusted my safety, and the safety of others to the police. In light of this, there are a few things I wish to point out.

First, I never want to have my safety fully in the hands of anyone else, including the police.

Second, I considered bringing my gun with me to campus, but did not due to the obvious risk of losing my graduate career, which is ridiculous because had I been shot and killed, there would have been no graduate career for me anyway.

Third, and most important, I am trained and able to carry a concealed handgun almost anywhere in Virginia and other states that have reciprocity with Virginia, but cannot carry where I spend more time than anywhere else because, somehow, I become a threat to others when I cross from the town of Blacksburg onto Virginia Tech's campus.

Of all of the emotions and thoughts that were running through my head that morning, the most overwhelming one was of helplessness.

That feeling of helplessness has been difficult to reconcile because I knew I would have been safer with a proper means to defend myself.

I would also like to point out that when I mentioned to a professor that I would feel safer with my gun, this is what she said to me, "I would feel safer if you had your gun."

The policy that forbids students who are legally licensed to carry in Virginia needs to be changed.
Remember, only YOU are responsible for your own safety. Not the Police. Not your employer. Not your neighbor. Nor the bystander on the street. YOU.

Blowing sunshine up our collective arse

Remember Christian Trejbal? The guy that thought it was a fine and wonderful use of the open records laws to publish the entire Virginia Concealed Carry Permit list, complete with addresses and phone numbers on the web? The database of which was immediately copied and mirrored all over the net? The Virginia AG's office took notice of that act of stupidity and made the CCW database no longer an open public record. Unfortunately there is nothing quite like closing the barn door after the horse has gotten out and gotten hit by a Mexican 18 wheeler with defective brakes. That said, the AG did what he could, a lot of crime victims and victims of domestic violence are on those lists. It's a little to little, a little too late, for VA CHL holders, but at least the AG did SOMETHING, even if you can't put the toothpaste back into the tube. The Texas Legislature has a similar bill before it as well. SB322 passed the state Senate 30-0 Monday, as did SB 534. Both bills however are hung up in the Calendars Committee in the Legislature.

Let's give Woolley and crew a holler and make sure they understand that the right to privacy applies to the 2nd Amendment as well. Shall We?

Is Bill White going for the Trifecta of Shame?

Most everyone has heard about Bill White's plan to kick the mentally retarded out of their homes. That news has a number of other non-profit charities scared. First back in 2000, the city renegotiated it's 99 year lease with The Lighthouse for the Blind, now they are going after The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation, but there is a fundamental difference, while the city cited the charter violation as a tactic to force the lease to be renegotiated, they ended up settling for the same $1 a year price for 30 years. But the net result is instead of having a 99 year lease, they essentially ended up with a 65 year one. Who knows what will happen in 2030? Now The Center for Hearing and Speech, next door to the other two facilities is also scared. They too have a 99 year lease signed in 1965, and they fear that they are next on the list.

Bill White! Have you no SHAME? Are you going for the Trifecta of Shame? Beating up on deaf, dumb, AND blind people? What's next? The battered women's center on Montrose? The Star of Hope? Goodwill? Houston Food Pantry? How many charities do you plan to raid?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Virginia Tech Massacre: Where does society go from here?

I felt the need to vent about how gun control advocates are at least partially to blame for the mass murder that occurred yesterday in Virgina. But I was far too angry to put words to paper coherently. Thankfully Lawdog did so in a way I only wish I could. I post it in it's entirety here. I suspect Lawdog would not mind.

Oh, Christ, here we go again.

Some maladjusted little bugsnipe gets his mental panties into a bunch and goes flat boiling nutters with a gun in one of the few places where he knows someone isn't going to put him down like a rabid dog during his first magazine.

And -- as usual -- the Mainstream Media is bleating about needing more Gun Control.

Gun Control is a failure. You simply can not expect those who would do murder -- those who would violate the highest law -- you can not expect them to obey a lesser law.

And you can not turn a failure into a success by doubling the failure.

None-the-less, I will be greatly surprised if the Mainstream Media and the political lapdogs don't try to use this tragedy to further their gun control agenda.

You want to be really disgusted? I mean, the down deep nausea kind of disgusted?

The State Government of Virginia had a bill before it which would have allowed college students to exercise their Second Amendment rights on campus earlier this year.

The bill didn't even make it out of committee.

When the bill died, the spokesman for Virginia Tech -- where some college kids really needed to be able to shoot back this morning -- Virgina Tech spokescritter Larry Hincker stated:

"I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."

He was happy to hear of the defeat of the bill which would have allowed college kids to carry weapons for self-defence on his college campus.

Happy now, you sodding dacoit? Go tell the dead that they're really safe because the Virginia State Government refuses to allow them to carry for self-defence on campus, you ate-up catamite with delusions of adequacy.

And despite all of that -- despite the senseless death and the smug arrogance that allowed the death to happen -- there is news that sickens me to the very core.

There are reports -- granted unconfirmed at this time -- that several students were forced to line up, kneeling, and executed from behind.

I pray to the old gods -- the gods of war and blood and thunder -- that this is not the case.

I pray that some students went down fighting.

Because as bad as this is -- and this is a horror -- as bad as this is, if fifty some-odd people were injured and killed by one person whilst on their knees begging like so many Eloi, like a herd of sheep -- if no one stood up and fought back, then this is becomes an example of evil.

Not the evil that allows a man to kill other men -- although that is here in abundance. No, I am speaking of the putrescent evil which convinces good men not to fight back; the sordid filth of the soul which allows one bad man to prevail against fifty -- or 25,000 -- good men because good men have been systematically denied the mindset required to meet with, engage and defeat evil -- even if all you have is fingernails and rage.

One man. On a campus of 25,000 people. 25,000 people surrounded by fire extinguishers, book bags, pencils, pens, drafting compasses, chairs, broom handles, power strips, ceramics, chains and everything heavy and/or sharp.

One man managed to gun down fifty people -- or more -- without being stabbed and bludgeoned to death where he stood by the other 24,950 people.

I weep for the dead. I weep for the families who lost their treasured children today.

I weep even more for a land which not only denies the tools required for self-defence, but also denies the very mindset required for self-defence.

I too weep. There is legislation that was passed in the Texas Senate 30-0 that would allow a CHL holder to keep his weapon in his vehicle in the parking lot of an employer even if the employer does not allow weapons on the premises. That bill, SB 534, has been introduced in the House but is hung up in the calenders committee. A similar bill HB992 is ALSO tied up in the calenders committee. It would appear clear that the calenders committee members are killing this bill. Please contact the committee members and let them know that there will be electoral consequences to killing this bill.

House Committee on Calendars (C050) Clerk: Amy Ehlert
Legislature: 80(R) - 2007 Phone: 463-0758
Appointment Date: 1/26/2007 Room: EXT E2.140

Chair:Rep. Beverly Woolley
Vice Chair:Rep. Norma Chavez
Members:Rep. Dan Branch

Rep. Myra Crownover

Rep. Dawnna Dukes

Rep. Gary Elkins

Rep. Ryan Guillen

Rep. Mike Hamilton

Rep. Larry Taylor

Rep. Sylvester Turner

Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Moment of Silence please...

Today is Holocaust Remembrance day. We should all take a few moments and contemplate how one man, filled with hate, convinced an entire country to attempt to exterminate an entire people, based on their religion. And how that people very nearly WERE exterminated before a stop was put to it. Many of those who participated in the extermination claimed that "they were just following orders".

Stanley Milgram, in the 1960's, tried to validate that statement in a famous experiment where subjects were asked to give shocks to other people (who were actors and did not receive shocks, unknown to the subjects.) in increasing strength, up to and in some cases exceeding levels they believed to be lethal. Most complied even though they believed that they were harming the other subjects.

The human mind craves to comply with authority. We must guard against that need being perverted to evil ends so that such an evil never again walks the Earth. Alas, I am afraid that goal may be unobtainable.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Yet another reason why Bill White needs to be shown the door...

He has joined this group.

Do I really need to belabor the point?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

METRO "is a wise steward of the taxpayer's money"

So sayeth Bill White (Warning: podcast) in his press conference's Q&A today (Thank you Matt Stiles). It comes at the very end when asked about the $7.2 million deal in which METRO agrees to buy a tract of land from a developer for double the assessed value, and hold the property potentially tax free (Paul Bettancourt plans on sending METRO a tax bill regardless) and sell it back to the developer at cost. That man has GOT TO GO!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Type I diabetes cure? Maybe.....

The AP is reporting that a small and flawed, but intriguing study in Brazil has "cured" 13 out of 15 test subjects of Type I Diabetes. These subjects were given drugs to stimulate the production of stem cells in their blood, and then after the cells were harvested, the subjects were essentially given what is known as the "shake and bake" treatment, which is a round of chemotherapy used to destroy bone marrow, then the stem cells were re-introduced. The stem cells rebuilt the immune system in such a way as to halt the auto-immune attack on the islet cells. No islet cells were replaced however and they don't grow back. Therefore this arrested further destruction of the cells, but did not resurrect/replace any that have already been destroyed. That means early diagnosis is key to this procedure working. Well there is encouraging news on that front as well. As I posted some weeks back, researchers have found three antibodies that are present in at least 70%, and possibly as many as 90% of type I diabetics. It is believed that these antibodies appear long before symptoms do and are a marker for people who will develop diabetes in the future. If that is true, we may now finally have the tools to diagnose and treat people before they develop insulin dependence.

This is a very good thing.

UPDATE:, Dr. Beverly B. Nuckols, MD, of LifeEthics.Org in the comments kindly posted a link to the JAMA article which I updated the story above with. She has posted about it as well. From my reading of the abstract, it does not appear that the stem cells were modified at all. This would appear to be identical in every respect to the Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant procedure used to treat certain types of leukemia.

Additionally, there is an article in this month's Discover magazine (they don't have the article up on the net yet or I'd link to it.) that discusses the effect of microchimeraism on Type I diabetes. It has been discovered that we are all Chimeras. We all have maternal cells that have taken up residence in our own bodies during gestation and our immune system does not attack them. In diabetics that have had their pancreas removed at autopsy and studied, it was found that the remaining Beta cells were almost all maternal cells. This shows another path to treatment, Beta cell transplants from the patient's mother. Unfortunately, obtaining them from the patient's mother may push HER into Type I diabetes, but Dr. Michael German MD, at UCSF is currently working on how to tease stem cells into beta cells. If this works on adult stem cells, it may be possible to perform a beta cell transplant from the patient's mother that would be safe from the auto-immune attack.


That bites!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Iran announces that they now have 3000 centrifuges in operation

Don't say I didn't warn you....

The Iranians may in fact be telling the technical truth, they may only plan on using the enriched Uranium in reactors, but I'd be willing to bet the intent is to transmute enough U238 to Plutonium 239 to build a Fission/Fusion/Fission device.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The cost of transparency may be on the rise

That is if Jeff Wentworth has his way. He introduced Senate Bill 889 which will raise the costs of any Texas Public Information Access (TXPIA) request that exceeds 50 pages. In fact it goes one better, it imposes higher fees on anyone who cumulatively requests over 50 pages in a given month. The witness list was heavily tilted towards School districts, and other governmental entities. Only one person testified against it, a representative from the Texas Newspaper Association. This bill has been voted out of committee with a total of 6 Ayes, 0 Nays and 3 members not present. Unfortunately it is unclear which committee members voted and which ones were not present. The Woodland's Tommy Williams is on that committee as is John Carona from Dallas, Rodney Ellis from Houston, Leticia Van De Putte from San Antonio, Robert Duncan from Lubbock, Troy Fraser from Austin, Chris Harris from Arlington, Mike Jackson from Pasadena, and Eddie Lucio Jr. from Brownsville. Make sure and contact these people as well as your own senator and make sure they know in no uncertain terms that a vote for this bill is a vote against governmental accountability. And if this makes it out of the senate, make sure and contact your state representative too.

I spoke with the clerk for that committee and determined that the senators that were not present when this was voted upon were Williams, Carona, and Harris.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Mr. Rosenthal, What part of NO do you not understand? Part II

Last year, I opined about how Chuck Rosenthal refuses to abide by an amendment to the "traveling" statute to clarify that barring the commission of a felony, a motorist with a concealed weapon in his vehicle is entitled to do so and is to be considered traveling for purposes of the statute. In February, Keith Patton, a 51 year old Oilfield Geologist from Katy was pulled over. The Officer asked for his license and proof of insurance which was in a gym back on the floor board of the back seat of his red Ford Explorer, under the bag was a .357 magnum that he had just purchased from a coworker. Patton duly informed the officer that the gun was under the bag. Patton was summarily handcuffed, arrested, and his gun taken away. He was charged with unlicensed carrying of a weapon. Both the NRA through the Texas Rifle Association, and the ACLU (yes, I feel the fabric of space-time tearing apart as well.) have teamed up to help fight this kind of injustice. But it comes too late for Mr Patton:

That view was small comfort to Mr. Patton, who won dismissal of his charges but spent a night in jail and was out not only his $300 pistol but also $1,500 to his lawyer, Samuel Cammack III, and $268 for the towing and impoundment fee for his Ford Explorer.

Almost worse was the mortification. “Everyone thinks this is the Wild West,” Mr. Patton said. “My dad was incredulous. He said, ‘I thought you lived in Texas.’

Yet another story you won't read in the Chronicle....

The House bill has passed out of committee and is on the calendar to be voted on by the full house. The companion Senate bill is still in the Criminal Justice Committee make sure and contact the following Senators and let them know you want this bill passed.

Sen. John Whitmire

Sen. Kel Seliger

Sen. John Carona

Sen. Bob Deuell

Sen. Rodney Ellis

Sen. Glenn Hegar

Sen. Juan Hinojosa

Hap tip: Alphecca

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Crime, Money, and Commercial Development

Recently, Houston has seen a major spike in murders, 13 in the last week. Apparently that news has disturbed Mayor White.

Here however is a quote that jumps off the page at me:
While Mayor White promises even more police overtime to target these areas where the murders are occurring, he admits the city will have to sell off some its surplus real estate in order to pay for it. That's because money from some of the federally funded programs is running out.

Hmm, could he possibly be trying to reference THIS?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Shades of Kelo Haunt Home for the Mentally Retarded

The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation signed a 99 year lease on a tract of city owned property in 1963. The Center was to pay $1 per year in rent, in exchange, the Center was to construct buildings and provide services for the mentally retarded. But the local real estate developers, who have Mayor White in their back pockets it would seem, lust after the six acres that sit between West Dallas and Allen Parkway near Shepherd Drive that the Center occupies. So the developers (Stan Creech maybe?) put a bug in the ear of the mayor, who has never seen a revenue stream he didn't like, (through "Friend of Bill" David Mincberg, the special assistant to the Mayor for Multi-Family Housing, I'm sure) to take a really hard look at that 99 year lease because the land is worth $26 million dollars and that it would be a really nice place for a high-rise condo paying LOTS of property taxes to the city, and sure enough, the city found an out. Seems the lease violates the city charter. Of course the city should have noticed that back in 1963, but apparently they didn't. So the city issues an ultimatum, get out or pay an arm a leg in rent. This is a non-profit agency who's entire yearly budget is $11 million.

Mayor White has no heart, all he cares about is keeping the real estate developers in this town happy. Who gives a damn if a bunch of old retarded people will be tossed out on the street? After all, the civility ordinances he passed keep them from bothering the well heeled by sleeping in the streets in THEIR neighborhoods...

UPDATE: Council Candidate Andy Neill also thinks this is a travesty, here is his statement:
Houston City Council’s At-Large position # 3 Candidate Andy Neill is throwing his support behind “The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation” in their upcoming fight against the City of Houston who is looking to renege on their signed lease and sell the Center’s land to the highest bidder.
From the Houston Chronicle’s story by Reporter Melanie Markley:
"The 99-year lease, signed in 1963 by then-Mayor Lewis Cutrer, is not valid, city lawyers argue, because the city charter limits such agreements to no more than 30 years."
The Center is a private not-for-profit United Way Agency, which has for more than 60 years served children and adults through educational, residential and work training programs. The philosophy of The Center is that every person has value and worth, is entitled to the highest quality of life, and should be treated with dignity.
City Council Candidate Neill is fuming over this situation and is pledging to raise awareness on this effort by the City; by openly challenging the Mayor and other City Council Members if he obtains the At-Large Position #3 seat in the upcoming May 12th Special Election. Neill states:
“This is the type of action that one would expect if they were doing business in a place like Cuba not here in the United States; and especially not here in Houston, TX. The Mayor seems most definitely to have overstepped his bounds not only in a possible legal capacity, but most importantly from a human decency standpoint. This is a morally bankrupt way to generate a new stream of revenue for the City of Houston, and I hope others won’t stand for it either.”
You can read the Chronicle’s story by Melanie Markley in it’s entirety by visiting their website at You can learn more about the “The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation” by visiting their website at
You can learn more about Candidate Andy Neill’s quest for the City Council At-Large Position # 3 seat at his website at