Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fall of the Golden Boy

"And now Spitzer's entire anal-retentive, good paper-writing life has collapsed in the horrifying image of a frenzied masturbator. This is the most complete coup de grace imaginable, short of an assassin's bullet." (Ann Coulter, March 12, 2008)

Fallon Fall-out

I hadn't been following Admiral Fallon very closely until his resignation last week. If this article is to be believed, it wasn't exactly a resignation but a firing. And for good reason. This so-called warrior hasn't exactly been giving his all for seeing to the protection of our troops in Iraq. So I wonder if he will be demoted, or have his retirement benefits trimmed-down a bit?

I serious doubt it.

Penicillin is Back??

Last week we were treated to another demonstration of the general uselessness of university press offices and the hype that often times is associated with minor scientific discoveries. Much like the "could be", "might be" of global warming.

It seems that researchers at the University of Warwick together with collaborators at the Université Laval, Ste-Foy in Quebec, and The Rockefeller University in New York have managed to work out the enzymology of the MurM protein. Yawn............

The Mur pathway is essential for the synthesis of the bacterial cell wall and MurM is specifically involved with the production of dipeptide bridges within the peptidoglycan molecule, the major component of the wall. These cross-links give the structure increased mechanical strength. So now it looks like the entire Mur pathway is essentially characterized. End of story.

The real shocker in this article is the following statement: "The results will allow the Warwick team, and any interested pharmaceutical researchers, to target the MurM reaction in Streptococcus pneumoniae in a way which will lead to the development of drugs which will disrupt the resistance of Streptococcus pneumoniae to penicillin. The same research also offers exciting possibilities to disrupt the antibiotic resistance of MRSA which uses similarly constructed peptide bridges in the construction of the peptidoglycan component of its cell wall. Therefore, thanks to this research, even MRSA could now be opened up to treatment by penicillin."

What the article fails to point out is that penicillin resistance (and betalactam resistance in general) in MRSA does not involve the Mur pathway but an alternate penicillin-binding protein-2 (PBP2'). This alternate protein is encoded by the mecA gene which is transferred between staphylococci rather easily by phage, plasmid, etc. Once bacterial pick-up this gene, they are considered MRSA. This is the primary reason that up to 60% of Staphylococcus aureus strains are penicillin resistant leading to the designation of MRSA.

Unfortunately, there also are various other betalactam resistance mechanisms that are due to the production of "betalactamases"; secreted enzymes that degrade penicillins before they ever reach the cell. And to make matters worse, the Mur pathway has been the subject of many failed discovery projects by pharma companies. I doubt seriously that this one characterization of the MurM protein will suddenly lead to the discovery of new antibiotics. This pathway as a target class is DOA.

Taken together, it is unlikely that we will see a major resurgence in the use or clinical efficacy of penicillin in either streptococci or staphylococci.

One would expect a higher level of journalistic competence from university press offices.

The Prince William Model for Change

Currently living in exile in "The Peoples Republic of Maryland", I take great pride in my long Virginia ancestry and up-bringing. I am particularly proud of having been born and raised in Fauquier and Prince William Counties as have most of my immediate and extended family. Our roots run deep there, and even though many parts of these counties have been taken over by outsiders and the usual suburban sprawl of the greater-DC metro area, pockets of rural solitude can still be found even if they are out of the price range of most average natives. Believe it or not, there still are people in these two counties that actual are FROM THERE as opposed to somewhere else.

As you might expect, I followed the illegal immigrant debate in PWC very closely last fall. It was much fun to watch as the PWC supervisors held fast while the usual suspects wailed and predicted all sorts of economic doom and class struggle. The libtards were really frothing at the mouth there for a while and there even were immigrant groups in suburban Maryland and DC working on legal actions like it is really any of their business to begin with.

Well guess what? It actually is working, and a fairly accurate description of the progress recently appeared in the WaPo of all places:

"Months after Prince William County began one of the country's toughest crackdowns on illegal immigrants, officials and residents report signs that substantial numbers of people have left the county, particularly from Hispanic neighborhoods." (Arlo Wagner, Washington Post, March 13, 2008)

I'll wait a few minutes for multiple rounds of applause to die down................

Could it really be that if concerned and determined citizens, backed by local governments with spines set their minds to it, something really can be done about illegal immigration? Surely it couldn't have anything to do with simply enforcing the law could it?

I AM SO PROUD OF THESE FOLKS! Sic semper tyrannis!

Of course the bad news is that these now "displaced" illegals will have to go somewhere and I doubt seriously they are re-boarding their banana boats and heading south. Most likely they are fleeing for suburban Maryland and DC where they will be welcomed with open arms and the usual nanny state benefits. So be it I guess, but let us hope that the Prince William model for change gets duplicated in other areas.

Which leads me to the concept of the southern border fence. What ever happened to that? I seem to remember a lot of talk about how that was a wacky idea and doomed to failure much as we heard about the Prince William plan. Fences work if you really want them to, just ask the Israelis.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The King Is Dead; Long Live the King

Last week was a sad time for those who followed the life and times of Bill Buckley and admired his wit and analysis.

Anyone who grew up in the 60s and 70s was no doubt familiar with that "walking dictionary" guy on PBS, and how could someone lean that far back in his chair to near horizontal status without ever crashing? As a kid at the time, I was completely oblivious to anything political, but the chair thing was very impressive and often imitated much to the chagrin of my parents and teachers. I am happy to say however that I was finally able to master the technique in graduate school and consider myself to be Bill's equal in at least one tiny aspect of my adult life. If only I had a fraction of the vocabulary that he forgot!

There have been a multitude of fine obituaries included one from Coulter (to be compared and contrasted with this one from Kathleen Parker) as well as the usual droll from the WaPo. Yes you morons; "Buckley Left His Mark on Politics" much like Armstrong left his footprints on the moon.

We will miss you Bill, and Western Civilization is but one step closer to the encroaching darkness.