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Glen Perkins on MN Game Night…Tonight

Thursday night’s episode of the MNGameNight.com Twins podcast will be co-hosted by Seth Stohs and Twins pitcher Glen Perkins. Show time will be 10:00-10:30 central time. It should be interesting to hear how the show goes, but it certainly should give a good perspective on what’s going on with the Twins; the Rays series, the upcoming Royals series and more.

In three years of hosting podcasts, the most prominent baseball player I got to do the show was some guy who hit a grand slam in Junior Varsity baseball. I’ll be listening to Seth and Perkins. You should too.


From the Notebook

-Finished “Mostly Harmless” by Douglas Adams, completing my run through the five book Hitchhiker’s trilogy. I enjoyed this book more than the previous two books, and almost as much the first two books.

-A knuckleballer and a flamethrower? (RA Dickey and Juan Morillo) I like the way Bill Smith thinks. Apparently the Twins GM has been reading my series on the ideal baseball roster.

-Twitter is monumentally stupid.

Chief Meyers for the Hall of Fame. I’m hoping to write up an article on the Dead Ball era catcher, but it will have to wait…

-Mainly because I have an 18 page paper due next week. Expect light posting.

-Political Thought: What’s the point of having two parties if they have the same policies? It’s like changing managers (baseball or business) who do things the same way. There should be a philosophic alternative (a difference between the parties). Moving the GOP to the center would do no good if the policies of left of center politics fails. So please Democrat friends, you can stop telling me the Republican Party needs to move to the center (That means you Gov. Schwarzenegger and Sen. Snowe).

-In 1932, 1964, 1976 and 1992 the Republican Party was declared dead. In 2002/2004 the Democrat Party was declared dead. I highly doubt 2008 signaled the end of the Republican Party.

-Just FYI Flu Fans, face masks don’t prevent the healthy from getting sick, but they go a long way in keeping the sick from spreading the disease to the healthy. If you’re feeling sick, quarantine yourself and wear a mask to prevent the spread of your flu. (I’m a CPR/Safety/Professional Responder/First-Aid instructor for the Red Cross, so I’m not completely unqualified to say this.)

Cytokine storm

Cytokine storm – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

It is believed that cytokine storms were responsible for many of the deaths during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed a disproportionate number of young adults.[1] In this case, a healthy immune system may have been a liability rather than an asset. Preliminary research results from Hong Kong also indicated this as the probable reason for many deaths during the SARS epidemic in 2003.[citation needed] Human deaths from the bird flu H5N1 usually involve cytokine storms as well.[citation needed] Recent reports of high mortality among healthy young adults in the 2009 swine flu outbreak point to cytokine storms as being responsible for these deaths.[4][5]

Arlen Specter

The guy switched parties. It happens. The only thing to do now is focus on finding a good candidate to give him a solid test in 2010. “The most conservative candidate who can win” is the rule of thumb and I think there are Republicans in Penn who fit the bill. Pat Toomey may or may not be that guy (presently, he’s the only guy). Toomey represented a district which leaned Democrat and won with comfortable margins three times and kept a promise to only serve three terms. He’s very well spoken and a successful businessman. If he is the guy he needs to focus on attacking the bailouts for Wall Street and the pork laden stimulus bills.

Circular Reasoning

This is perhaps the stupidest quote I’ve heard from someone supposed to smart in a long time:

“By definition, pandemic influenza will move around the world,” Chan said in the call today. (Margaret Chan, WHO Deputy-General)

“By definition, a nuclear holocaust is the catastrophic introduction of nuclear explosions across the world, so it can’t be stopped.”

“By definition, winning is not losing. So if we win we cannot lose, therefore we will win.”

Yeah, I’m not interested in the definition of “Pandemic Flu Outbreak.” I’m interested in not having a lot of people die. In a previous post I quoted the Wikipedia article on the 1918 Pandemic where we find judicious use of quarantines and controlling borders does work, at least for island nations. Chan never actually cites any documentation showing closing borders doesn’t work.

Well, I went out a found a couple and they say non-pharmaceutical interventions can work:

At the international level, experience in past influenza pandemics indicates that screening and quarantine of entering travelers at international borders did not substantially delay introduction, except in some island countries. Similar policies, even if they could be implemented in time and regardless of expense, would doubtfully be more effective in the modern era of extensive international air travel. WHO instead recommends that travelers receive health alert notices, although entry screening may be considered when the host country suspects that exit screening at the traveler’s point of embarkation is suboptimal; in geographically isolated, infection-free areas (e.g., islands); and where a host country’s internal surveillance capacity is limited (2).

WHO recommends consideration of exit screening by health declaration and temperature measurement for international travelers departing countries with human infection at phases 4, 5, and 6. Exit screening in affected countries is a better use of global resources: fewer persons would need to be screened, the positive predictive value for ill persons detected would be higher, and transmission on conveyances, such as aircraft, would be reduced. Exit screening is disruptive and costly, however, and will not be fully efficient as influenza viruses can be carried by asymptomatic persons who will escape detection during screening (2,3). As was true for SARS, the principal focus of WHO-recommended nonpharmaceutical interventions is not at international borders but at national and community levels (4).

Another source:

None of this is any big secret – you can read it all in much more detail in the pandemic flu national framework, or the joint RCGP-BMA pandemic flu guidance for GPs – and much is widely known. But as journalists around the country scramble for the facts, it’s worth remembering a few key points:

1. Interventions can be limited. Closing the borders doesn’t work – the Government’s modelling suggests even a travel ban that is 99.9% effective would only delay the arrival of a pandemic by two months at the most. Modelling in the national framework also suggests that widespread public use of face masks, cordons sanitaires to isolate affected communities and even a blanket ban on large public gatherings are all likely to be relatively ineffective.

Targeted use of antivirals and stringent infection control and hygiene measures are likely to be more useful – but the bottom line is, until an effective vaccine is developed, there’s little than can be done to stop it spreading.

2. Pandemics last a long time. While each one is different, the best modelling suggests that it will reach the UK between 4-8 weeks after it begins in the country of origin. Once in the UK, ‘it is likely to spread to all major population centres within one to two weeks, with its peak possibly only 50 days from initial entry.’ There may also be subsequent pandemic waves – the 1918 pandemic lasted 18 months. Should we flee to the hills, I used to be asked at the HPA. Not unless you’re willing to stay there indefinitely, we replied…

So, exit screening for international flight passengers, with some entry screening. Local and community level nonpharmaceutical interventions as the main focus. Quarantines and border closings as secondary tools to delay spread of the disease (up to two months) in order to have that much more time to develop a vaccine or stock up on Tamiflu.

Just some thoughts.

Update (Via King Banaian), NYTs suggests what those local and community nonpharmaceutical interventions might look like:

Scientists are still studying the 1918 pandemic, the deadliest of the 20th century, looking for lessons for future outbreaks — including the possibility that H5N1, the avian influenza virus, could mutate into a form spread easily from human to human. This month, researchers published two new studies in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences comparing public-health responses in cities like St. Louis and Philadelphia.

Using mathematical models, they reported that such large differences in death rates could be explained by the ways the cities carried out prevention measures, especially in their timing. Cities that instituted quarantine, school closings, bans on public gatherings and other such procedures early in the epidemic had peak death rates 30 percent to 50 percent lower than those that did not.

“It had been received wisdom that these interventions didn’t work,” said Dr. Richard Hatchett, the lead author of one of the studies, “because they looked at the variability between cities and concluded that there was some other factor than the interventions that caused the differing outcomes.

“That we were able to go back and ask the right questions,” Dr. Hatchett said, “is a function of a lot of modeling work that we did previously.”

Dr. Hatchett, who is a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, said the findings might hold lessons for the 21st century. “When multiple interventions were introduced early, they were very effective in 1918,” he said, “and that certainly offers hope that they would be similarly useful in an epidemic today if we didn’t have an effective vaccine.”

Unfinished: Drop Joe Crede

Crede’s defense=+40 runs
Buscher’s Offense=40 runs above Crede
Buscher’s defense=+0 (or higher)
The offense strapped Twins need Buscher, his defense has improved, Crede is still an elite defensive 3rd baseman but his lack of offense washes this out (this year, based on a very small sample size.) Worst case, Crede is 10 runs better than Buscher, Best case Buscher is about the same better (but with compounding run production as other hitters get more opportunities)

Panic Time?

From Wikipidia’s article on the 1918 Flu Pandemic (Emphases mine):

The influenza strain was unusual in that this pandemic killed many young adults and otherwise healthy victims; typical influenzas kill mostly infants (aged 0–2 years), the elderly, and the immunocompromised. Another oddity was that this influenza outbreak was widespread in summer and fall (in the Northern Hemisphere). Typically, influenza is worse in the winter months.

People without symptoms could be stricken suddenly and within hours be too weak to walk; many died the next day. Symptoms included a blue tint to the face and coughing up blood caused by severe obstruction of the lungs. In some cases, the virus caused an uncontrollable hemorrhaging that filled the lungs, and patients drowned in their body fluids (pneumonia). In others, the flu caused frequent loss of bowel control and the victim would die from losing critical intestinal lining and blood loss.[citation needed]

In fast-progressing cases, mortality was primarily from pneumonia, by virus-induced consolidation. Slower-progressing cases featured secondary bacterial pneumonias, and there may have been neural involvement that led to mental disorders in a minority of cases. Some deaths resulted from malnourishment and even animal attacks in overwhelmed communities.[citation needed]

Scientists have used tissue samples from frozen victims to reproduce the virus for study. Given the strain’s extreme virulence there has been controversy regarding the wisdom of such research. Among the conclusions of this research is that the virus kills via a cytokine storm (overreaction of the body’s immune system) which explains its unusually severe nature and the concentrated age profile of its victims. The strong immune systems of young adults ravaged the body, whereas the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults caused fewer deaths.

What works?

In Japan, 257,363 deaths were attributed to influenza by July 1919, giving an estimated 0.425% mortality rate, much lower than nearly all other Asian countries for which data are available. The Japanese government severely restricted maritime travel to and from the home islands when the pandemic struck.

In the Pacific, American Samoa[28] and the French colony of New Caledonia [29] also succeeded in preventing even a single death from influenza through effective quarantines. In Australia, nearly 12,000 perished.[30]

Civil libertarians are invited to take a few months off from knee jerk reactionism. Otherwise relax. Stress weakens the immune system…or is that what we want? Sure wouldn’t mind a Surgeon General to give us a few hints.

Baseball Quick Thoughts

The Twins went three weeks without throwing out a runner trying to steal a base. Jose Moralescaught two on Sunday but overall the Twins haven’t caught a lot of runners. Unless you count the fact the Twins are tied with the Yankees for the AL lead in team Pick-offs. The Twins have caught five runners leading too far. Combined with Morales’ two CS and that’s 7 outs. While I look forward to Joe Mauer’s return, complaints about teams getting away with stealing bases against the Twins at will are exaggerated.

“Live without work”

Via DailyLit:

by Alexander Kelly


The persistence of office-seekers nearly drove President Lincoln wild. They slipped in through the half-opened doors of the Executive Mansion; they dogged his steps if he walked; they edged their way through the crowds and thrust their papers in his hands when he rode; and, taking it all in all, they well-nigh worried him to death.

He once said that if the Government passed through the Rebellion without dismemberment there was the strongest danger of its falling a prey to the rapacity of the office-seeking class.

“This human struggle and scramble for office, for a way to live without work, will finally test the strength of our institutions,” were the words he used.

Emphasis mine. Lincoln the liberal indeed…

Unfinished: Waterboarding

deontological versus Teleological ethical philosophies

Is torture effective, yes. Soltzinitzen example

After the KGB had confiscated Solzhenitsyn’s materials in Moscow, during 1965-1967, the preparatory drafts of The Gulag Archipelago were turned into finished typescript in hiding at his friends’ homes in Estonia. While in the KGB Lubyanka Prison, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had befriended Arnold Susi, a lawyer and former Estonian Minister of Education. After completion, Solzhenitsyn’s original handwritten script was kept hidden from KGB in Estonia by Arnold Susi’s daughter, Heli Susi, until the collapse of the Soviet Union.[6] [7]

The KGB seized one of only three extant copies of the text still on Soviet soil. This was achieved by torturing dissident Elizaveta Voronyanskaya, Solzhenitsyn’s typist[8] who knew where the typed copy was hidden; within days of her release by the KGB, she hanged herself on 3 August 1973.[9]