Saturday, June 30, 2007

Terrorism.....Just a bumper sticker slogan? I don't think so.

In case anyone has forgotten, there are still a lot of Jihadists out there that want to kill people. There was a report/video several weeks ago of Terrorists "graduating" from terrorist school and were being sent to Europe and the United States......I don't think it was for post doc study. Now we have 2 car bombs found in London ( during Wimbledon) and today a car bomb driven into the terminal in Glasgow Scotland . Not long ago during the debates for the upcoming Presidential elections candidate John Edwards said " the War on Terrorism was just a bumper sticker slogan"
yea-right. NEW YORK — Democratic White House hopeful John Edwards, in a major foreign policy speech Wednesday, minimized the Bush administration's War on Terror as nothing more than a "bumper sticker slogan" used to justify the war in Iraq and "bludgeon political opponents."

Power-line is now reporting "

Meanwhile, the Scotsman says the authorities are looking for a missing Iraqi:

Police say they are looking for an Iraqi who went on the run from a control order only 11 days before yesterday's failed bombing attempts. The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is part of a six-strong cell linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq.

He went missing on 18 June in north-west England, and his whereabouts are unknown.

This will no doubt heighten the controversy over "absconders," terror suspects who are basically told by the authorities not to disappear, but who, unsurprisingly, often do so, much like illegal immigrants in the U.S. who are ticketed and told to show up for a hearing. Treating illegals this way is bad enough; treating terror suspects in such a cavalier manner is incomprehensible. Presumably the system will be tightened up following this near-miss.

Our polical process has morphed into a us-vs-them mentality where if your party of preference is out of power, then the other party can do nothing right and has to lose, no matter what. We as a country would have never won WWII with this mentality. There are those that want to do us, our children and our freedoms serious harm. They don't give a rats ass if you are Democrat, Republican, Green, Independent , Socialist, Communist or Libertarian. Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Atheist. Those that attacked us on 9-11 are the same that attacked us in Kenya, Tanzania, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the WTC the 1st time in 1995. They are in Bali, Philippines, Spain, Italy, France, London and even in Glasgow Scotland. I truely wish we could be united on this one subject.

Species Transplantation

It was just published that a group of scientists lead by Dr Craig Vintner ( the 1st to have his DNA read by the genome project) transfered the entire genome from one bacteria into another, making it the 1st species transplantation. He said it was like taking a Mac and turning it into a PC by inserting new software. The plan now is to take a new genome created in the lab and insert that into a cell.

Since the 1970s, scientists have moved genes - instructions to make proteins - between different organisms.

But this marks the first time that the entire instruction set, consisting of more than a million “letters” of DNA, has been transplanted, transforming one species of bacterium into another.

They are attempting to build a microbe with the minimal set of genes needed for life, with the goal of then adding other useful genes, such as ones for making biofuels.The scientists want to create new kinds of bacterium to make new types of bugs which can be used as green fuels to replace oil and coal, digest toxic waste or absorb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
This has created a lot of un-ease in the scientific community as many are worried about the law of unintended consequences, where other unseen events occur as a result of your actions.
There has been a great deal of fear in Europe concerning food created using genetic this case they are going to completely create a new genome and insert that.
I would anticipate an equal if not greater outcry. My concern is does this shift the balance of power in the bacterial world. Will other organisms be capable of adapting /incorporating aspects of this modification into their own genome? Will viruses be capable of transfering mRNA via bacteriophages to other bacteria? What about antibiotic resistance?
These are all real concerns that must be thought out. Positives in regard to this research are staggering, such as being able to design bacteria capable of targeting other bacteria (MRSA),
tumor cells, arterial plaque, and many more. The current plan in this project is the enhancement of biofuel production. They anticipate success within the decade.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How to piss off a Jihadist- 101

Just when I was beginning to think everyone in Europe had lost their spine....along comes this gem.
Salman Rushdie ( remember him) the Indian writer that wrote "the Satanic Verses" and had a Fatwa written by the Ayatollah calling upon all peace loving Muslims to , of course......kill him. Well it turns out that the Queen of England must clank when she walks because she just Knighted him. Talk about a finger in the eye of the Iranians. You don't think this could have anything to do with the recent capture and humiliation of British sailors, do you? This is classic British humor, seeing as how the hated crusaders were after all.....knights. The down side to this is that those same peace loving Muslims will no doubt start to riot like they did when they didn't like the Danish cartoons.
Setting fire to cars in France and marching with all of those wonderful loving signs.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Famous horses in museums

This next week I will be going back to Washington DC with the Fishweir Elementary School Patrols. For those that don't know, the safety patrols are 5th grade students that apply to work as leaders and crossing guards at the local schools. This is very popular in southern and western schools. Reports actually say that the first school patrols were started in Jacksonville at Fishweir Elementary almost 90 years ago and since at least the 1960's these school patrols make a summer trip to our nations capital. I was a safety patrol and made the trip by train in 1970 and have returned with each of my four children when they did the same....this year it's Mac's turn.
I love the history found in DC and particularly the Smithsonian museums and each time I go I try to find something new to see. Two years ago when I was there with Polly I found "Rienzi" also known as "Winchester" that was Sheridans horse during the Civil War.
Accession No. 69413
Catalogue No. 32870

General Philip H. Sheridan's horse during most of the Civil War, Winchester was mounted and presented to the Smithsonian in 1923 by the Military Service Institution, Governor's Island, New York. The horse's name, originally "Rienzi," was changed to Winchester after carrying Sheridan on his famous ride from Winchester, Virginia to Cedar Creek, Virginia in time to rally his troops and turn almost-certain defeat into victory.

Winchester can be seen in the Armed Forces History Hall at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Behring Center.

While searching for other famous horses I came across a list of others on a Smithsonian site, and it seems that a lot were presented for mounting or were exhumed and then the bones mounted. While reading this I was amazed at how old some of these horses were....well into their 30's. When you consider that many of these were 50-100 years ago when we didn't even have antibiotics it simply remarkable. Here are a few of the notable ones.


Traveller, famous as General Robert E. Lee's horse, died in 1872, two years after Lee. Initially the horse was buried, but in response to numerous requests, it was disinterred and the skeleton mounted and displayed at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. After more than 60 years on exhibit, on May 8, 1971, the horse was reburied outside the Lee Chapel at the University close to the Lee family crypt.


Defeat rather than victory brought fame to Comanche. He was known as the sole survivor of General George Custer's command at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.

Of mustang lineage, he was born about 1862, captured in a wild horse roundup, gelded and sold to the U.S. Army Cavalry on April 3, 1868, for $90. The bay, 925 pounds, standing 15 hands high with a small white star on his forehead, became the favorite mount for Captain Myles Keogh of the 7th Cavalry. He participated in frequent actions of the Regiment and sustained some 12 wounds as a result of these skirmishes.

Two days after the Custer defeat, a burial party investigating the site found the severely wounded horse and transported him by steamer to Fort Lincoln, 950 miles away, where he spent the next year recuperating. Comanche remained here with the 7th Cavalry, never again to be ridden and under orders excusing him from all duties. Most of the time he freely roamed the Post and flower gardens. Only at formal regimental functions was he led, draped in black, stirrups and boots reversed, at the head of the Regiment.

When the Cavalry was ordered to Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1888, Comanche, aging but still in good health, accompanied them and continued to receive full honors as a symbol of the tragedy at Little Bighorn. Finally, on November 7, 1891, about 29 years old, Comanche died of colic.

The officers of the 7th Cavalry, wanting to preserve the horse, asked Lewis Lindsay Dyche of the University of Kansas to mount the remains: skin and major bones. For a fee of $400 and on condition that he be permitted to show the horse in the Chicago Exposition of 1893, Dyche completed the appropriate taxidermy. Although there is no record of the fee being paid, the horse was donated to the university's Museum and property rights are vested in the University through L.L. Dyche.

Comanche is currently on display in a humidity controlled glass case at the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Dyche Hall, Lawrence, Kansas.

Little Sorrel

Little Sorrel, or "Fancy" as he was known, became famous as the mount of General Stonewall Jackson. Captured at Harpers Ferry by the Confederates, he was chosen initially for Mrs. Jackson but eventually commandeered by the General when his own horse, Big Sorrel, proved unreliable in battle.

In 1863, at Chancellorsville, Jackson, while riding the horse, was wounded by his own men and died a few days later. At first Little Sorrel was pastured at Mrs. Jackson's home in North Carolina, later sent as a mascot to the Virginia Military Institute where the General had taught cadets he led to battle, and then in response to requests from many Southern States, was shown at fairs and exhibitions.

In 1885, ancient and infirm at the age of 35, he was retired to the Confederate Soldier's Home. The following year he died when the hoist used to lift him to his feet slipped; he fell breaking his back. Little Sorrel was stuffed and housed in a museum at the Veterans Home until 1949 when he was finally returned to V.M.I. Refurbished twice since 1886, Little Sorrel is presently on display at the Virginia Military Institute's Museum in Lexington, Virginia.


Neither a racehorse nor the mount of a famous general, Trigger, owned by movie star cowboy Roy Rogers, brought pleasure and excitement to countless motion picture patrons.

The golden palomino stallion appeared in all of Rogers' 90 feature films and 101 television shows. According to his owner, "He had great rein and could spin on a dime." Inheriting the best characteristics of his sire, a thoroughbred racehorse, and his dam, a golden palomino, Trigger had stamina, beauty, intelligence, and a remarkably gentle disposition.

On July 3, 1965, at the Rogers ranch in Hidden Valley, California, Trigger, 33, succumbed to old age. Reluctant to "put him in the ground," Rogers had the horse mounted in a rearing position by Bishoff's Taxidermy of California.

Trigger, in full regalia - bridle, saddle, and martingale - is presently on exhibit at the Roy Rogers - Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri, the repository for the Rogers memorabilia.

As I delved further into famous horses I came across a listing of hoses from the Civil War and those that rode them.

Belle Boyd - Fleeter - was ridden by this famous Confederate spy.
Capt. W I. Rasin.- Beauregard - who survived until 1883, was ridden to Appomattox by Rasin.
Maj. Gen. Jeb Stuart - Virginia - credited with having prevented the capture of by jumping an enormous ditch. In addition to the mare, Stuart frequently rode Highfly.
"Mother" Bickerdyke - Old Whitey - the usual mount of Bickerdyke, who was among the most famous of female nurses.
Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant - Cincinnati - presented to Grant in 1864 and immediately identified as his favorite horse. When Colonel Grant rode into Springfield, Illinois, in 1861, he was astride a white horse named Methuselah. Grant first rode into battle on the back of Rondy and during the war also used Fox, Jack, Jeff Davis, and Kangaroo.
Col. John McArthur - Boomerang - named for his tendency to move backward, was owned by this Col. of the Twelfth Illinois Regiment.

You hear the names of those that went into battle but seldom hear of those that carried them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Report from the ACVIM Conference

This past week the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine held their annual meeting, this year in Seattle Wash. Beth and I went and met up with some great friends from our days at Cornell. Eric and Patty Peterson and DL Step. It's hard to believe everyone is so respectable now. Many nights out, great food and way to many adult beverages. Thank God this is the home port for Starbucks coffee. This is a very unique meeting in that unlike most Veterinary meetings this one concentrates on recent advancements and ongoing research projects. There are some review sessions...but not many. What I find to be the most useful are the research abstracts that are presented every 15 minutes for several days. This year there was a focus on glucose and insulin interactions. While this may seem really dull.....let me point out how this may effect your horse. For years now we have been working on a condition in the horse called EMS-equine Metabolic Syndrome. This is the overweight horse that frequently has laminitis. They are also known as the "easy keeper". So how do these horses get so fat on just an air sandwich?. The key is what is known as insulin resistance. In these horses they produce insulin, just like other horses in response to glucose intake ( grain/grass/hay) but their body doesn't react to the insulin and the excess glucose is stored in fat cells. They typiaclly show what is called "regional adiposity" those large visible fat pads, dimples, cresty necks and swollen sheaths. They are also VERY prone to having grass/pasture laminitis. A new way to diagnose this disease was presented at this meeting. It is called the CGIT for the Combined Glucose Insulin Test. You administer IV glucose and then Insulin and measure the blood glucose level over time with a hand held glucometer. Once the condition is confirmed you then treat by taking them off ALL grain and severely restrict access to pasture. By using a grazing muscle or putting them on a dirt lot you take the glucose away....only allowing fair quality hay....and not much of that. It was also reported that you can treat the severe ones with THYROL (thyroxine) at super physiologic levels . This was shown to increase Insulin sensitivity two fold. You do the CGIT every 4 months until normal. More than likely there is a genetic component involved in Metabolic Syndrome since many of these horses were overweight at a young age. Natures response to the high sugar content in spring and summer grasses is the lack of food in the winter, a time when most horses should lose the summer excess, but everyone feeds extra grain in the winter. This really potentiates the Insulin Resistance. Now that we have a reliable test and a good treatment plan ,we should be able to prevent a lot of these from developing catastrophic laminitis. There is just way to much info for me to present here, so I'll add posts about the newest data as it fits in. It was a ton of fun, but it's always good to be home.

Me, Eric and DL

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Hurricane Season is here

The start of Hurricane season was this past Friday June 1st and not surprisingly our first tropical system crossed the state this weekend. For those living in the coastal areas it's time to start planning just in case a major storm heads this way. I have posted items of interest on this blog in the past and you can find a more detailed list of plans on our web site There is also a short worksheet that you can use to organize yourself. If you decide to stay in the path of a storm you should consider some important facts. Your horses are at a greater risk "inside" your barn than outside. Think about it for a minute, your barn was probably built by the lowest bidder, has minimal roof support and was designed to maximize airflow. Unlike your house which are usually built north and south to take advantage of the sun.....your barn was built east and west to take advantage of the breeze. Thats a bad thing in a hurricane. If you have a large open field with few trees and good fencing and no powerlines it's much safer. Another good idea whether you stay or not is to have your horses microchipped. lessons learned in Florida during Hurricane Andrew and Louisiana during Katrina show the great advantage in microchip ID. While most of the dead and lost horses from Andrew were never ID'd
those in Louisiana were ID'd 90% of the time. When things go bad, horses go missing and they all look the same after they have been in a pond or under fallen trees for a week. A small microchip placed in the neck will be there forever and can even be scanned in a body that has been dead for quite awhile as it's placed in the nuchal ligament in the neck. I have a good friend give me his list of "5 things you need to survive a hurricane" , what he did during Andrew. I've added to it.
1. Generator- provideds power, 12 hours/5 gal of gas ( have several cans)
2.Gas grill-for cooking and boiling water
3.Rolls of plastic sheeting- to fix holes in windows and roof(staple gun,hammer and nails)
4.pool or hot tub-for bathing
5. firearms- Steve said there was gunfire almost every night and they can hear your generator. Post a sign so they know you are armed
6.chainsaw- remove downed trees from driveway and roads
7.small window unit A/C- it's real hot and humid with a lot of mosquitos- you'll thank me for this one.