"Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller

Sunday, March 23, 2008
The Tomb Is Empty
He is not here: for he is risen... - Matthew 28:6

Tuesday, March 18, 2008
A Victory in the War on Diabetes – Could It Really Be This Simple?

Some readers may remember a previous post on some promising medical research in the quest for a cure for a devastating disease commonly known as Diabetes.  While that research was focused on the ever popular stem cell front, I came across another researcher whose field focuses on a much simpler treatment.


Type I Diabetes – the most prevalent of the two types – occurs when a patient's pancreas ceases to produce enough of the insulin hormone to effectively break down the glucose from food or drink ingested by said patient.  High blood sugar results in a host of maladies which I will not here review.  I'll just simply state the disease really sucks.


One of the theories behind the demise of the patients pancreas is that the immune system mistakes the insulin producing beta cells for a disease.  The immune system then declares war on the beta cells and for all intents and purposes the pancreas is a worthless hunk of tissue.  Conventional wisdom and medical science has held the belief that the beta cells could not be resurrected.  New research might just debunk this theory.


Dr. Denise Faustman a scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School has been conducting experiments on mice using a generic tuberculosis vaccine which evidently kills the immune system cells which took out the insulin producing beta cells.  Here's the bottom line:


The real shock, however, was that with the killer T-cells eliminated, beta cells apparently regenerated enough to pump out sufficient insulin to cure the mice's diabetes. No one had any idea before this that a diabetes-ravaged pancreas might still harbor enough beta cells, or be able to resurrect them, to reverse diabetes, at least in lab animals. (Emphasis Added)


I'm not much of a medical expert, but that's pretty compelling evidence – something which in my mind is worthy of further study – and funding.  Here's the pathetic part of the story:  The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation declined to fund Dr. Faustman's research.  In fact, they went so far as to fund three research teams whose stated goal was to debunk Faustman's hypothesis.


The linked article doesn't go into much detail as to why the JDRF declined to fund Faustman's project.  I have a very uniformed guess based strictly on capitalsitic theory.  Simply put, Faustman's research is too simple.  The vaccine upon which her work is based has been on the market for nearly 80 years as a treatment for tuberculosis.  It's a generic drug which can be mass produced for pennies a dose.  Should Faustman's research result in a viable treatment for diabetes, it will be one of the cheapest cures ever found.  It doesn't involve fetal stem cells or overpriced technology.  The vaccine kills the cells that caused the problem and nature goes back to working the way it was meant to.


Faustman owes the fact that her work is going forward to the charitable inclinations of none other than former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca.  Mr. Iacocca lost his wife Mary to the ravages of Type I diabetes in 1984.  His foundation stepped in and donated $11.5 million to further the clinical trials of Faustman's research with the hopes that fewer people will lose their limbs, eyesight, and lives to this scourge.  Iacocca is a businessman and evidently he understands that a good, fast, and cheap cure is better than none at all.


Thanks, Lee.  Good luck Dr. Faustman.


Here endeth the lesson.

Thursday, March 06, 2008
Sticking It To “The Man” Through Charity

I don't have a very good relationship with the county parking authority which patrols the local streets near my office.  Thus far I figure I've contributed at least two bills to the county coffers.  Each time I've missed the iron fisted Nazi-like ticket writer by a matter of minutes.


The Parking Nazis start writing tickets promptly at 0800.  They arrive in their Ford F-150 trucks and prowl the streets like wolves circling wounded prey.  Sooner or later a meter will start blinking red and they'll swoop in for the kill.  There is no such thing as free parking!  Got expired tags? That'll cost you more than the parking ticket.


Needless to say, I don't drive into work unless I have to.  Yesterday was one of those days.


I've learned my lesson that it's better to shove an extra buck in the meter rather than get an all day pass to the tune of 35 clams.  As I walked out to my car, I noticed that the meter on the car parked behind me had just started to blink its crimson light.  I don't know how the Parking Nazis are alerted to an expired meter.  Perhaps it's a wireless signal sent from the meter to a computer in their oversized pickup truck.  Maybe they sense a tremor in the force.  Whatever the method, a Parking Nazi truck pulled up behind the expired meter – the trap had been set.


Parking tickets suck.  Parking tickets found after a long day at the office suck rocks.  I know.  I've gotten more than my fair share.  Not only does the county get the cash shelled into the meter, it also gets another 35 clams because the car owner got held up.


I looked at the Parking Nazi and smiled.  Then I fished in my pants pocket and found two quarters.  I popped them in the meter and bestowed upon the car owner another sixty minutes of reprieve from the cash sucking Parking Nazis. 


And that, dear reader, is how you "Stick It To The Man" through charity.


Here endeth the lesson.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008
A Farewell To Favre

In writing this post, I feel it necessary to state for the record that I am not a great respecter of quarterbacks.  As a former defensive lineman, I came from the Howie Long school of quarterback pursuit.  Howie once eloquently stated that he'd never seen a quarterback maim anyone, so once he made it past the offensive lineman, Howie usually wouldn't put too much of a hit on the quarterback.  In Howie's mind, the chase was far more fun than the actual sack.  Howie is a wise man.


Most quarterbacks, regardless of the level at which they play, have enormous egos.  The quarterback position is the one most focused on by fans, media, and followers of the game.  If the team wins, the quarterback is a god.  If the team loses, the quarterback shoulders the blame.  Actually, most of the time he blames other players – there are after all 21 other positions on the team.  Any good student of football understands the game is won and lost at the point of attack – that being in the trenches with the lineman.  If a team doesn't dominate the line of scrimmage, what happens in the backfield won't really matter.


Very few quarterbacks – even at the professional level – understand this fact.  Brett Favre is one of the few.


Today he announced his retirement from the Green Bay Packers having played there for seventeen seasons.  The average NFL career hovers someplace around five to six years, so seventeen years is an eternity – especially for a quarterback.  That he managed to play so effectively for so long is a testament to his athletic skill and especially the skill of those massive humans tasked with blocking for him.


My professional football allegiance has and always will lie with the Denver Broncos – good seasons and bad – but I can honestly say I have a lot of respect for Brett Favre.  He is one of the few and quite possibly the only professional quarterback I have ever seen throw a block on a massive, ugly, hulking, enormous defensive end so the running back could gain a few more yards.  He did that throughout his career and earned the respect of defensive lineman across the league for doing so. 


As a general rule, defensive linemen don't hold quarterbacks in high esteem.  Favre's relationship with them was more collegial than anything else.


An era in professional football has come to an end.  I for one will miss seeing #4 take to the frozen tundra of Titletown's Lambeau Field.  It just won't be the same game without him.


Here endeth the lesson.

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