November 30, 2006

Yet More On Polonium

Via Instapundit comes an article by Popular Mechanics about the dangers or lack thereof involving Polonium 210 poisoning.

"There is no health risk from external exposure," says Joseph DeCicco of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "If you walked through it, sat in it, got it on your clothes, you're not going to get sick."

Kathy Shingleton, also health physicist at Lawrence Livermore, said: "If you were sitting on a plane and there was polonium 210 on the armrest, and you put your arm on the polonium for the whole of your trip, you are in no danger."

Polonium, say the experts, is only dangerous if swallowed or inhaled. Once inside the body, it is able to pass through the more delicate internal cell membranes, destroying cells, particularly in the bone marrow.

Thank you Popular Mechanics! A voice of reason among the hysteria that is the news media.

You see, I had been reading, just a little, over the last few days and everything I read, including the Wikipedia piece stated that Polonium could not penetrate the skin. For that matter, one of the initial post-death reports in the media said they were not sure if radiation poisoning had killed Litvinenko until traces were found in his urine and that this particular type of radiation could not penetrate the skin.

Yet even while they stated these things in the stories, each story would swing around to all the places Litvinenko had been in London, the airplanes that had been between London and Russia. Basically, they ignored the facts and have been actively fanning the fear. The very real fear people have of radiation poisoning.

People tend to be worried about this stuff, for good reason, as we saw Litvinenko's death was awful! Who wants this to happen to them? So, people hear "we found traces in this place, that place, the other place"... and they forget that it doesn't matter because they never ingested it in any way.

That makes a piece like this one from the Times a totally irresponsible piece of journalism.

He explained, in an impressive monotone, that this now included 24 locations, four aircraft, 221 destinations and 33,000 passengers. Then he told us, in exactly the same voice, that there was no need for alarm. It must be said that I found this to be alarming in itself. But

Mr Reid was adamant and kept repeating himself. Indeed, “there is no need for alarm” seemed to be his new mantra. Either that, or he was trying to hypnotise us. You may think I’m paranoid but, in this story, anything is possible.

How cute! Ms. Treneman doesn't bother to actually... like... find out facts - no she listens to one man speak and then spills out her ill-informed blather to all the readers of the Times. Does she even bother to check with anyone who is an expert in radiation? Does she even bother to google up the Wikipedia entry which specifically states:

...though they do not penetrate the epidermis and hence are not hazardous if the polonium is outside the body...

None of this is hard to find and as a newspaper writer, whether she is a reporter or an op-ed writer, she has an obligation to the public to find out the facts before she tries to cause a panic.

In the meantime, with stories from all the major news sources making it sound like the whole of London could be radioactive, thousands of people have been needlessly scared. This would be why we need responsible journalists not fear mongers.

Unfortunately, what "sells" is fear. As long as they keep up the stories about possible radiation poisoning, they keep people tuned in. We all know it's about the size of the audience, not the story itself that's important.

Posted by: Teresa in Science at 03:59 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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How Appropriate

Although I'm sure someone somewhere has made note of this, I've been so busy with the Nanowrimo novel, I haven't had time to keep up with all the postings on the Polonium poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko.

Today I finally had some time and I searched for Polonium 210 - which naturally led me to the Wikipedia page.

Full of all kinds of interesting information on Polonium, I found this to be the most interesting thing of all...

Also called "Radium F", polonium was discovered by Marie Curie and her husband Pierre Curie in 1898[1] and was later named after Marie's native land of Poland (Latin: Polonia).[2] [3] Poland at the time was under Russian, Prussian and Austrian domination, and not recognized as an independent country. It was Marie's hope that naming the element after her native land would add notoriety to its plight. Polonium may be the first element named to highlight a political controversy.[4]

***note that there are mulitple links at Wikipedia within the paragraph above - I am not going to reproduce them here - click over to their page to follow the trail.

I find it amusing in a weird sort of way, they used a poison that was officially named for a political controversy involving Russsia.

Posted by: Teresa in Current Affairs at 11:12 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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It's All In the Mouth

As a child I should have had braces. Unfortunately my parents couldn't afford it and as the dentist said my teeth weren't that bad, they skipped me and got braces for my sister because hers were much worse. (her teeth were straight in front but tended to a big overbite - so I guess they were right)

In anycase, after all these years I finally have the time and money to get these teeth (which have gotten progressively out of kilter - especially in the back of my mouth) pushed into some semblance of straightness.

Yesterday I got my first installment of Invisiline braces. These are the clear plastic ones that aren't easily seen. We'll see how it goes. So far there is only a little soreness, mostly when I remove the bottom set to eat. This morning I figured out how to take them out without causing pain... so far so good. There's a little rubbing from some of the edges in a few places - but nothing causing major issues.

Supposedly, seven months from now, the teeth should be aligned and I should only need to wear these things 3 nights a week to keep everything in place. The real test here will be that I can't eat or drink (well only water) with these things in my mouth, I'm supposed to wear them 22 hours a day, and I have to brush and floss before putting them back on after eating.

Good thing I don't go out much.

After all these years, I wonder what it will look like to have my front teeth not overlap slightly. Hmmmm...

Posted by: Teresa in Life Stuff at 08:47 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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November 29, 2006

Four Years!

Our man on the Parkway has been blogging for four years! Head on over and wish him a happy blogoversary. Jim is one of the most talented and funniest guys around. (he plays a mean guitar too).

Here's to many more years of farookin' great blogging!

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 07:06 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Snarkiness Abounds...

The Venomous One has posted the latest edition of the Snark Hunt. Head on over and see all the wonderful things people are snarking about.

Posted by: Teresa in FUN at 04:02 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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I Won! I Won!

It's official, I've gone over the 50,000 word mark. Current word count direct from Nanowrimo is 50,116.

nano_2006_winner_large.gif

Of course I still need to finish the story. I've left my hero and heroine hanging about talking to a man who has come knocking late at night. Who is he? What does he want? This I don't know yet, so I better get writing and find out.

Posted by: Teresa in NaNoWriMo at 03:59 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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November 28, 2006

Almost There

My word count is now at 48,101. Less than 2000 words to go. I'm hoping to go over the 50K mark tomorrow night. I'd do it tonight, but I can't type anymore. How it will end, I don't know. But right now, I'm off to bed.

Posted by: Teresa in NaNoWriMo at 07:27 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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An Army Sergeant Has Something to Say to the Media

Blackfive has the details. Be sure to note the appreciation for the "support" that the MSM has provided.

Posted by: Teresa in Military at 08:57 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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Just to Eat Pancakes?

Now here's a winning idea...

Customers were shocked by a new policy at a local International House Of Pancakes restaurant recently when they were asked to turn over their driver's licenses before being seated.

Shocked? How about outraged?

NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that it wasn't a very popular idea.

No... I don't believe it. You mean people were a bit offended by this?

The restaurant said it had been having problems with customers coming in and eating, then leaving without paying the bill. So an employee came up with the idea of asking people to turn over their licenses before they ate. It was returned after they paid.

Basically they're telling all their customers, we think you're going to skip on your bill. We have decided every customer is guilty until proven innocent. Real nice of them isn't it. But here's the real kicker...

The security guard had at least 40 licenses in his hand.

People were actually handing over their licenses to sit down and eat pancakes!!!! Why would anyone do that?

They have no idea what information is being taken from those licenses, they have no idea who is holding on to them. They seem to be unconcerned that someone else could give their name and walk off with the license while they sit there eating.

All of this for pancakes? I don't think so!

Fortunately, it seems that the corporated office is stepping in.

This was done without the knowledge or approval of management ... We apologize to any guest who was inconvenienced."

The company said it would reverse the policy immediately.

I don't know if it's true that upper management hadn't heard about the plan - but it looks like they noticed that their customers aren't happy about it. It could be that they said it was all right, but now that people are angry, they're throwing the local management under the bus. Or it could be that the local management, in all their wisdom thought this was a brilliant idea. (making me wonder about the IQ of the people placed in management in this chain of restaurants)

I can't think of a single place I've eaten that would be worth giving my driver's license to sit down and partake. If that's what is required, I won't go out to eat. But IHOP? Oh hell no!

Hey, you IHOP people at this restaurant...You want to make sure the bill is paid? Put your security guard at the door, have people pay at the cash register, give them a receipt and have the guard check that as people leave. Just like they do at Best Buy or Wal-Mart or other places of business.

Posted by: Teresa in Idiocies at 08:51 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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November 27, 2006

Closer...

I'm up to 45,122 words... less than 5,000 to go, but also only a few days. I have to be over 50,000 words before midnight of November 30th.

I may not get much blogging done. I'm so far behind in my blog reading it's not even funny. But I'm very close to getting this done and why get this far without finishing.

Then of course, I'll have to finish the story for those who have volunteered to be brave enough to read it. But that will be a little more flexible. The 50K time is inflexible. So I will have to keep writing.

Posted by: Teresa in NaNoWriMo at 07:22 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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