Thursday, February 28, 2008

A history of war through food

Via BoingBoing is a stop-animation short from filmmaker Stefan Nadelman that amazingly, and disturbingly, details a history of war from WWII through the present using only food representative of the countries in conflict. It is extremely violent in a surreal kind of way.

First, I think it is best to look at this cheat sheet that describes what countries are represented by what food stuffs. Kimchi is South Korea and dumplings are North Korea for example, and the U.S. has several fried foods attributed to it. Then watch the video:

Monday, February 25, 2008

Surgery and Anesthesiology

Our first Surgery and Anesthesiology exam is tomorrow. This is my favorite diagram in our notes:

If that's as hard as the material gets, I'm golden. I have a feeling I'm supposed to know more, though...

Mark Penn Doomed Hillary Clinton

Many people have already heard me complain about Mark Penn so I thought I would elaborate. He is currently the CEO of the public relations firm Burson-MarstellerSchoen and Berland Associates, president of the polling firm Penn Schoen and Berland Associates, and the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton. And the Clinton campaign has paid his firm over $5 million to lose the nomination for her.

The Washington Post has a piece up that was written almost 10 months ago in late April 2007 that in hindsight is a road map to the dismal place Hillary finds herself today. His strategy of inevitability was basically to ignore the others, and charge through to the nomination. But being from a large and successful background in the corporate world, he failed to understand that politics is inherently fluid and when his poll-proven-plan™ of "go ahead and win" was challenged by someone new, Barack Obama, he had nothing left to give but the silly and unprofessional kind of attacks we are seeing today. Here are some choice quotes from the article:

If Clinton seems cautious, it may be because Penn has made caution a science, repeatedly testing issues to determine which ones are safe and widely agreed upon (he was part of the team that encouraged Clinton's husband to run on the issue of school uniforms in 1996).

If Clinton sounds middle-of-the-road, it may be because Penn is a longtime pollster for the centrist Democratic Leadership Council whose clients have included Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.).

If Clinton resembles a Washington insider with close ties to the party's biggest donors, it may be because her lead strategist is a wealthy chief executive who heads a giant public relations firm, where he personally hones Microsoft's image in Washington.

And if some opponents see Clinton as arrogant, her campaign a coronation rather than a grass-roots movement, it may be because of the numbers wizard guiding her campaign and the PowerPoint presentations he likes to give on the inevitability of his candidate.


As recently as the 2004 presidential contest, Penn argued that Democrats would lose if they failed to close the "security gap." His client list includes prominent backers of the Iraq war, particularly Lieberman, whose presidential campaign Penn helped run in 2004, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose campaign he advised when Blair won a historic third term in 2005.


Penn's theory of the 2008 race has always been that after two tumultuous terms under Bush, the electorate will want change -- but not too much change. Clinton offers a perfect mix, Penn believes. She inherently represents change, as a woman, without being unfamiliar or untested, thanks to her many years in Washington.
Not to the lay the blame entirely on Penn (and hindsight is 20/20), Hillary chose the use him to advocate for her message because he is "tough" and has been effective in the past with people like Bill Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Tony Blair, and he won her a senate seat in NY. And it was one of my first reasons why I started moving towards Obama and away from Hillary. She has so many strengths, and I very much like her wonkish devotion to policies and and the processes of good government. But, I figured that something was wrong if anyone thought it was a good idea to trust some one like Mark Penn with running your campaign. And Hillary did.

And this is why I think scripted Hillary sounds so stiff and often awkward, while debate/unscripted Hillary sounds so sharp and poised. She bought in to Mark Penn because she really thought he could win the nomination for her and that somehow she wasn't good enough by herself. I think the opposite was true, but at this point it is far too late for second guessing. The cracks in her campaign's foundation were set a long time ago, and there no time left to fix them as the nomination slips farther and farther away from reach.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pros and cons

The good part about being a vet student's pet is that you get super diligent medical attention. The bad part is... well...

No, Winnie didn't suffer some horrible accident- she was just practice for today's bandaging lab :)

Well how about that

After all the hubub surrounding Rep. John Lesch's dog breed ban, here's what MPR's blogger had to say about the proposal:
The one regulating dangerous dogs, HF2906, would give animal control authorities more power to hold the owners of dangerous dogs accountable.

Bill Forbes, with the Minnesota Animal Control Association, had this to say about it.

"Currently we have a law that doesn't really do a lot to the [owner of] dangerous dogs, its the dog itself that generally pays the maximum penalty. The [owner of] dangerous dogs goes out and gets another dogs after his dog is ordered destroyed and starts with a clean slate, which is not the issue."

He said that owners of dangerous dogs are primarily men, and the dogs are usually not trained or socialized properly and are often chained up outside, which he said causes the dogs to be aggressive.

A "dangerous dog" is defined as one that has a reported history of attacking people or other animals. Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) offered an amendment that would have banned certain breeds of dog, such as Rottweiler’s, Pit Bulls and wolf hybrids, but it was not adopted into the bill [emphasis added].

So.... there we go. Hooray!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When some one is wrong on the internet...

...does any one hear it?
...Does any one care?
...Who will correct them?

Who will defeat them!

From the always nerdy web comic xkcd

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Animal myths #3

It's been a while since I've written about some animal myths, so I thought it was time for another installment...
  • Myth #6: According to physics, bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly.
I know people love this one. It's such a great metaphor- when someone tells you that you can't do something, just think of lowly bumblebee, who flies even when science says it shouldn't be able to.

The origin of this myth is thought to be a dinner party, where someone scribbled down some calculations on a napkin and said that according to equations, bees can't fly. That story in itself might be a myth, but somehow the idea that bees shouldn't be able to fly has become common knowledge. It's true that bees use some pretty unique mechanisms to achieve flight, which is partly why it's taken so long to figure out how they accomplish it. There are quite a few studies explaining how it works... Cal Tec, Tsinghua University, and Cornell all have good descriptions.
  • Myth #7: The skulls of [insert skinny-headed breed here] are too narrow for their brains, so when they reach 4 or 5 years old, they go crazy and get so aggressive they kill their owners.
I've usually heard this one about Dobermans, although Chris said he heard it about Dalmatians too. On a practical level, I can't imagine anyone being willing to own a dog that they know will turn on them at four years old. Dobies are still used for police and war work, and it wouldn't make any sense to put two years (or more!) of training into a dog that would snap and kill its handler.

On a physiological level, let's consider what happens when your brain swells (i.e. you have severe head trauma). Pressure in the brain means pressure on neurons, which can cause them to not function and eventually die. Anything that increases intracranial pressure is bad news, and depending on the severity, you could see things like general mental dullness, seizures, ataxia (inability to walk), or other neurological signs like twitching eyes or loss of balance. If the pressure isn't relieved, it eventually leads to permanent brain damage and death. The brain controls a lot of things besides behavior, and an increased tendency towards violence would probably not be the first thing you'd see.

Lastly, if narrow skulls really caused aggressive behavior, how come you never hear this myth applied to collies?

Corgi haiku

The corgi wanders
with a prize Fig Newton
eye towards new places

Monday, February 18, 2008

One more year

We renewed our lease for the loft for another year! I guess it's about time to get around to painting the place, huh?

Winnie says it's starting to smell like spring....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Aria!

Today Aria is one year old! What a year it has been. One nice thing about this blog is that now we can look back to what we said last year. This was Megan's picture she found that I still love. Hurrah! The celebration will be this weekend.

There were three posts, here, here and here. Here is what I wrote at the time:
She is I think the most fragile little thing I have ever seen in my life. I was brave though and held her, and once she was there she was just as snug as can be. I am happy we share 1/2 birthdays - hers being Aug 14th and mine being today! She will be going home in a few days once Natasha has recovered. Then it is life with little Aria! She makes me realllly want to move back to the city now. A baby just changes everything huh?
Understatement? And she is not so fragile any more! Running around like a monster grabbing everything she can. So Happy Birthday! We love you! Hurrah!

Bond, your car is ready

Well there are crazy concept cars but the sQuba takes the cake, and in large part because it really works.

Ok lets see what do we need to make it a true bond car?

- Lotus Elise? Check
- Driver-less functionality? Check
- Floats? Check
- Submarine? Check
- Maneuvers underwater? Check
- On board SCUBA system? Check
- All electric? Check.
- Missie launchers? Errr, well no but you might be able to fit those on the real version.

The question of course is this useful at all. Well, in the event that you are being chased by a villain and need to loose them fast, is there any better way than to drive in the canals of Venice? Or Between desert islands? I didn' think so.

Below is the video of the thing in action. Skip ahead to see their chubby James Bond take it into and then under the water.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Famous girl!

Forget Westminster... Check out Daily Puppy to see Winnie's 15 minutes of fame as the featured Grown-Up Puppy!!

Chris: Fun fact, The Daily Puppy gets about 37,000 page views a day acording to Alexa. :D

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Westminster, day 2

Working group: Akita, Ch Redwitch Reason To Believe ("Macey")
Sporting group: Weimaraner, Ch Colsidex Seabreeze Perfect Fit ("Marge")
Toy group: Toy poodle, Ch Smash JP Win A Victory ("Vikki")

...... and Best In Show, which by all odds should have gone to one of the poodles, goes to....

Uno the beagle! Congratulations, Uno, on being the first beagle to make it to Best of Group at Westminster since 1939, and the first beagle to make Best In Show ever! Arrroooo!

Winning corgi

This is the winning Pembroke from yesterday- Ch Merthyr I Thought So Too ("Tina"):

Winnie approves of the choice of a tricolor corgi, but says that she has much prettier ears.

Either way, congratulations Tina!

Here is the video of the Corgi group. Enjoy!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Eye on Westminster

Here are today's Westminster winners:
Hound group: 15" Beagle, Ch K-Run's Park Me In First ("Uno")
Terrier group: Sealyham Terrier, Ch Efbe's Hidalgo At Goodspice ("Charmin"- yes, named after the toilet paper)
Non-Sporting group: Standard Poodle, Ch Brighton Minimoto ("Remy")
Herding group: Australian shepherd, Ch. Vinelake Collinswood Yablon ("Deuce")
Tomorrow brings the sporting, working, and toy groups, plus Best In Show... who's your money on?

Pet Connection has some great live-blogging from the show. Check it out!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Handmaiden's Fair

This will be my study break today, if we can bring ourselves to go out in the cold...!

Hard week, relaxing weekend

I am slowly recovering from my caffeine-soaked crazy exam week, which I have declared over despite the fact that I have another exam on Monday (bah, what's one more?). The week was a chorus of "Why are we doing this again?" from the sophomore class. But, prospective students are in town, and seeing the anxiety and excitement of pre-vets heading for their interviews has helped restore my desire to be in vet school. Besides, this was supposed to be the worst week of the worst semester in vet school, which means it's all downhill from here... right?

MVMA had some great stuff this year. I spent Thursday afternoon listening to talks about rabbit dentistry (they are like just like horses!) and comparative neutering techniques for exotic species (note to self: marsupials are supposed to have a forked penis! Do not remove it or try and suture the ends together.). The speaker runs an exotics-only practice in Indiana that takes students for clinical rotations, so her practice is officially the first on my list of places to call once we get to schedule rotations for fourth year.

On Friday, I spent the day listening to Dr. Bernie Rollin, one of the best-known veterinary and animal ethicists in the world. I'm not sure what I expected him to look or sound like, but I certainly wasn't expecting a massive bearded weight-lifting motorcycle-riding Jewish New Yorker-turned-Colorado-ranch-owner. He started his talk with a statement that he doesn't care who he offends, because if you're offended that means he made you think. He then proceeded to say things that would have offended someone in most categories of society, including choosing me as an example of a young person who, since I was raised in a technology-laden society, has no idea how to read, write, research, use a library, or think on my own. Thankfully he was colorful and interesting enough to pull off most of his offensive statements as part of a larger ethical discussion (and he's right, you think a lot more about something that offends you than something you agree with).

He spoke about how veterinary medicine, as profession, fits in to the ethics of how society views and treats animals. He made the point that society no longer sees the industrial version of food animal production as ethical (both for animal welfare and environmentally). Society wants to see a return to animal husbandry (animal production with good care as the ultimate goal- think 4H and FFA) and away from animal science (animal production based on an industrial model, where minimizing cost and maximizing output is the ultimate goal). Rollin's main point was that, as the societal ethic shifts, we will need leadership to make changes happen. Will that leader be PETA, or veterinarians? Right now the AVMA is lagging behind, refusing to take positions on even the worst of animal production practices (i.e. foie gras). Rollin pushed us to make the AVMA a true reflection of the veterinary ethic in order to allow vets to lead the change toward more ethical farming. If PETA becomes the leader of the changing social ethic, it will be a bit like putting them in charge of adopting out homeless pets. We won't have more ethical farms, we'll have no farms at all.

Anyway, he certainly ruffled some feathers, but I think that was his point. After all, if you aren't offended, you haven't really been forced to think, right?

... but I really can read, write, research, use a library, and think on my own ;)

Thursday, February 07, 2008


I've survived four of my five exams, and got done just in time to skip afternoon classes and head over to the MVMA convention.  I'll write more at some point, but for now, this video from Cute Overload:

I would love a kitty that reacts to the bump of landing on a runway with the same irritated look that most kitties have when you try to shoo them off of a chair.

"Well, we made it."
"Hooray, we're on the ground!"

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Political Dogs

Megan was going to write about this, but she is in the middle of a crazy week at school so she forwarded it to me. It is from the Baltimore Sun blog on dogs "Mutts" and it a section called, "If candidates were dogs."

Ron Paul wins Winnie's vote - he is a Corgi. Hillary Clinton is Labradoodle, Barack Obama is a Great Dane, John McCain is a Pug, Mitt Romney is a Smooth Fox Terrier (awesome) and Mike Huckabee is a Beagle. Click the link for the entire list.

Personally, I think Mike Gravel is off, and while McCain does look like a pug I don't think the description fits. People on-line said he was a pit-bull ('because he is so tough!') but that doesn't fit either. He is not a very aggressive partisan fighter and quite aloof to many in his party. He is not very loyal to his party and enjoys his maverick status...

Wait a minute, I think I got it! It explains everything. Why do republicans distrust him even though he has a normally conservative voting record? Why can't the establishment get behind him?

It is because John McCain isn't even a dog, he is a cat!

What does it all mean?

So, what does all this mean? I think we are closer to a few things.

1: An Obama-Clinton or a Clinton-Obama ticket.
Things are so close, and so many people are going to vote for one of these people that I can't see the party ultamatly being able to make a clear-cut choice. In fact, I have read several prominent writers say that they voted for Obama but were happy to see Hillary do well too. People want change, but they don't want to bail on Hillary who they have been personally defending for years and years. And even by convention time, I doubt either candidate will have the numbers to win but then again I don't think it will be a tie making the winner President, and second place the VP. This all comes with the assumption that the race stays as clean as it has been since South Carolina which is by no means a guarantee.

2: McCain-Huckabee?
I think Mitt "Mittens" Romney is just burning money at this point, and Huckabee did better than any one thought. Again. He is a dark horse but I knew he had legs! He is just such a nice folksy guy that even I genuinely like him in a strange way. But he is never going to win. He is a southern candidate and only broke out in Iowa. But this pseudo three way race is really bad for Republicans whos main factions came together under George Bush - Military, Fiscal, and Social. Now you have the Military conservative McCain the soon to be nominee, the social conservative Huckabee, and the fiscal conservative Romney all at odds. A McCain-Huckabee ticket at least attempts to fix the most dangerous break in the party, and every one assumes the 'sensible'fiscal conservatives' will come along (begrudgingly) for the ride anyway. Watch out for this ticket, it is stronger that it appears.

3: This is going to take a long time. The Democratic National Convention is in Denver, August 25th-28th.

The day after

Well it is the day after and this is it: "Obama won more states, but Hillary won more big states." The word of delegate count will come, but not from me. None the less, from my previous prediction Obama is well clear of the -100 loss that would have knocked him out, and in fact is running about even +/- 10. So, the momentum is still his moving forward.

From the New York Times, here is what is coming next:

Feb 9 Louisiana
Feb 9 Nebraska (D)
Feb 9 Virgin Islands (D)
Feb 9 Washington
Feb 10 Maine (D)
Feb 12 District of Columbia
Feb 12 Maryland
Feb 12 Virginia
Feb 19 Hawaii (D)
Feb 19 Wisconsin
Mar 4 Ohio
Mar 4 Rhode Island
Mar 4 Texas
Mar 4 Vermont
Mar 8 Wyoming (D)
Mar 11 Mississippi

And beyond. Think we will make it to April?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I just got back from our Caucus and the turn out was HUGE. Some perspective. 2004 was a record and they had 1,400 people show. This year things are more interesting so they planned for 5,000 people to come. Well they ran out of ballots after 30 minutes. 7:00.

For our little sub-section (Go W-4 P-03!) Obama won with 357 votes to Clinton's 128.

And as I am writing, they are calling MN for Obama. And with 36% reporting, it looks like it will be by quite a margin!

Via NPR, turnout on the Dem side: 150,00 - 200,000

Previous record: 75,000 in 1968 for Hubert Humphrey.

"The Democrats' Choice: Manager or Visionary"

Ezra Klein of The American Prospect magazine sees the race in similar terms in his essay, "The Democrats' Choice: Manager or Visionary." It is a long essay, but here is the conclusion:
But [Hillary] largely accepts the circumstances, or at least her inability to change them through the application of her own charisma. Obama, by contrast, focuses more on changing the circumstances in which the legislation is made. The promise of his presidency is less its capacity to change our policies than its capacity to change our politics. He is the more likely to address, forcefully and eloquently, a culture that accepts grotesque CEO pay and rampant inequality. She is more likely to push workable solutions aimed at curbing those blights. She promises to ride the bureaucracy; he promises to drive the mood. He promises to replace Reagan's vision of an individualistic economy with the progressive dream of an interconnected economy; she promises to work tirelessly to redress the inequities of our current economy. She promises to care for our economy; he promises to change its values. She wants to be the more liberal Clinton; he wants to be remembered as the progressive Reagan. To choose between them requires not so much an analysis of their policies as a judgment call on our politics. It requires deciding whether our country needs a talented steward or a visionary.

We vs. She

Two chants from two campaigns that I think sums up the choice that people are feeling.

Caucus in Minnesota!

Just a reminder to get out and Caucus tonight. The Secretary of State has a web page up to help find your polling place. Note that they are often different than where you normally vote. We are going to the Hancock Elementary School by Hamline.

Everything will take place from 6:30 - 8:00 tonight and there are two parts (for Democrats at least). The first is voting for the national party candidate and that takes just a few moments. All you have to do to vote is give them your address, and sign your name asserting that you will be 18 by Nov. 4th 2008. It just takes a few minutes and you can choose to leave.

The second is really a Caucus, and that will decide delegates for MN Senate campaign. After that, it is any resolutions for the state platform to be voted on during the state convention. This will take place from 7:00-8:00.

This is a unique primary for Minnesota, in that our votes really matter. In 2004, it was John Kerry and John Edwards but Edwards dropped out of the race just a few minutes after the caucus was over and Kerry was the effective nominee. This time however, it looks very likely that there will be no nominee by the convention, meaning that every delegate matters. And the difference between your delegate going to Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton could be a few hundred votes.

We will see how it all plays out. I think Obama needs to lose by less that 100 delegates to stay alive, tie to keep his momentum, and any kind of win would surge him ahead. But there are so many variables that you might as well be betting on the super bowl!

Tonights Polling Gap

Well we won't know who came out on top of super-duper Tuesday until late tonight or tomorrow thanks to California, but I think these poll results give a good picture of how up in the air everything is.

Zogby has Obama up by 13 points in California.
SurveyUSA has Hillary up by 10 points in California.

Both have about the same sample size, and the same time frame. Thats a 23 point spread!

Monday, February 04, 2008


Well the ending may have not turned out as Patriots fans had hoped, that game had to be one of the best Super Bowl performances of all time. And this has to be one of the most insane plays off all time.

Oh my god indeed.

But how about the ads? My favorite three are as follows:

1: Audi R8. Yes it really does sound like that.

2: Bud Light/"Super Pro" proving again that all you have to do is point a camera at Will Ferrell and it will probably be funny.

3:Bridgestone. Extra points for the screaming bug.

EDIT: Forgot this one for Tide:

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Barack Obama came to Minneapolis and I got to see it front and center. Relying on contacts, friends, and a whole lot of dumb luck, I found myself on the rope line in front of the stage at the 20,000+ person strong rally at the target center. And I got to shake Barack's hand. And R.T. Ryback. And Keith Ellingson. And Betty McCollum. It was amazing. Here is a photo I snapped from the front row:

I will try to post some video clips too.

But the crowd was wild, the speech was amazing, and I am very tired from standing in one spot for 5 hours. At least we didn't have to stand outside!

Obama 08!