Wednesday, 14 November 2012

07:51 – The MDR-1 test kit for Colin showed up yesterday. It contains two tiny little brushes to do cheek swabs. The instructions said that food can interfere with the test, so we decided to do the cheek swabs first thing this morning, before Colin had eaten.

So, Colin was lying on the love seat in the den while Barbara was sitting on the sofa opening the envelopes that contain the brushes. I sat down beside him. His ears went flat as he watched Barbara opening the brush envelopes. I could tell exactly what Colin was thinking: “You’re going to stick those in my mouth and use them to obtain specimens of my squamous epithelial cheek cells, aren’t you?” I told him that was exactly what we were going to do. He cooperated pretty well. I’ll send the swabs off today for testing. My guess is that Colin doesn’t have the MDR-1 mutation, or if he does it’s heterozygous. But it’s worth $70 to find out for sure.

The paper this morning reported a horrible accident in Yadkinville, which is just down the road from us. A three-month-old baby was killed by the family dog, which apparently mistook a multi-colored stocking cap she was wearing for a ball and bit her head repeatedly. What surprised me was that the paper reported that the police had investigated and ruled the incident an unpreventable accident. Nowadays, it seems that nothing is ever an accident. There’s always someone to blame. But apparently the authorities recognized that no one was at fault here and that the family was going through enough already without criminal charges being filed.


09:50 – Riots have broken out along the southern tier of the eurozone. Riots as in Molotov cocktails and rioters throwing bricks at police, who are responding with rubber bullets. (Those, incidentally, are no joke; they can seriously injure or even kill people.) Greece is really at the tipping point. Even moderate, formerly middle class people are now talking about revolution. As one commented, what do they have to lose? As another said, all it’ll take is a spark. And they’re going to get that spark as it becomes clear that what Greece has agreed to will not be enough to secure any kind of long- or even medium-term funding.

I was amused by the list of demands made by the European Trades Union Convention, nearly all of which are utterly impossible to meet, for both political and economic reasons. Here they are:

• Economic governance at the service of sustainable growth and quality jobs,
• Economic and social justice through redistribution policies, taxation and social protection,
• Employment guarantees for young people,
• An ambitious European industrial policy steered towards a green, low-carbon economy and forward-looking sectors with employment opportunities and growth,
• A more intense fight against social and wage dumping,
• Pooling of debt through Euro-bonds,
• Effective implementation of a financial transaction tax to tackle speculation and enable investment policies,
• Harmonisation of the tax base with a minimum rate for companies across Europe,
• A determined effort to fight tax evasion and fraud,
• Respect for collective bargaining and social dialogue,
• Respect for fundamental social and trade union rights.


16:14 – I’ve spent a little bit of time visiting some of the prepper sites that have been linked to in the comments recently, and there’s something I really don’t understand. A lot of these folks seem to be overly-concerned with the shelf-life of stored foods. I mean, are they really storing 25- to 50-year supplies of food? If not, why do they care about the difference? Or perhaps they’re stocking grains and other foods by the ton, figuring that maybe their great-great-grandchildren might have some use for them.

I also think it’s interesting that they take stated shelf-lives as gospel. For example, we just bought some canned chicken chunks at Costco. They have a best-by date three years from now. I promise you, they’ll be fine a lot longer than that. After 10 or 20 years, they might show some darkening, but they’ll still be perfectly edible and will have probably 95% of the nutrition that they have now. Heck, they’ve found 4,000 year old Hostess Twinkies in Egyptian tombs, and they were still edible.

I also wonder about some of their choices of specific foods. Do they eat this stuff now, or are they figuring that it’ll be better than nothing if they get really hungry? I suppose cost is part of this. People decide what they can afford and how much food they want to store and then buy whatever that multiplier dictates. Still, I think that’s a stupid way to go about it. We buy stuff that we eat anyway. We just buy extra. So what if the canned and dry stuff we eat is a year old? If nothing else, it provides a buffer in case anything we buy is contaminated with salmonella or something. In terms of flavor and nutrition, year-old stuff is fine. Two-year-old stuff is fine. Geez, five-year-old stuff would almost certainly be just as good as new stuff. Sterile is sterile. Preserved is preserved.