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6 August 1999

Believe those who are seeking truth. Doubt those who find it.
-- André Gide (seen on pyrAlert!)

A former colleague just got back from London, where there was much consternation about a German traveler who returned to Berlin from the Ivory Coast with what looked a lot like the Ebola virus. Fortunately, it turned out to be a false Ebola alarm. Unfortunately, what he had was still fatal:

  • Ebola ruled out as man dies [BBC News]
    More than 100 people who have come into contact with the two men are undergoing thorough check-ups, but health officials have said it is unlikely that any virus could be passed on, as he came to hospital shortly after getting symptoms.
Also, a potential cure has been identified, from the same forest the virus originated in:
  • Africa-born scientist says plant may be Ebola cure [CNN]
    Compounds found in a plant used by West African faith healers stopped the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in lab tests ... The Garcinia kola plant, whose seeds are often included in welcoming food baskets in Africa where it grows wild, contains compounds with two flavonoid molecules fused together that scientists believe halted the spread of Ebola in tests.

    The plant's flavonoid compounds that were believed to offer the healing powers could form the basis for drugs in a few years, he said. Tests on some compounds from the plant were also effective against some strains of the common flu virus.
And for those curious to find out more of the known details about the Ebola virus, see the World Health Organization's page on it and related viruses:

Also found at the BBC site in passing:

  • Chocolate 'is good for you' [BBC News]
    Chocolate may be better for your health than tea because it contains more of a chemical that could prevent cancer and heart disease, researchers have said. ... The new research measures the amount of catechins - the chemical thought to be behind the benefits - in different types of chocolate.

    The researchers, from Holland's National Institute of Public Health and Environment, published their findings in The Lancet medical journal. ... Up until now tea was thought to contain the largest amount [of catechins] but the new research indicates that dark chocolate has four times as many.

Interestingly, catechins are a class of flavonoid, the same class of nutrient which may be used in the abovementioned cure for Ebola. This may mean chocolate could save your life! ;)

Congrats to Mark McGwire on home run #500 (and #501!):

  • McGwire becomes 16th to reach 500 HRs [CNN/SI]
    His 500th homer easily cleared the wall and deflected off the base of an advertisement, then landed in an area of shrubbery beyond the wall as fans scrambled to come up with the prize that experts believe may be worth $1 million. Jim Shearer, a 28-year-old architect from St. Louis, wound up with the souvenir and was whisked away by authorities.

What an ominous phrase... "whisked away by authorities"...

A movie I won't pay money to see: Hannibal is apparently back on track to be made by Universal Studios, though without Jonathan Demme directing and possibly without Anthony Hopkins or Jodie Foster. And oh yeah, the story sounds repulsive.

  • Yes, sir, that's my cannibal [Salon]'s unclear exactly how Universal or [Ridley] Scott plan to solve the central problem presented by "Hannibal," namely its gruesome gore. Among other bloody touches, the book features a scene with Agent Starling [the Jodie Foster character] feasting on human brains.

The MPAA will probably give it an R with no trouble, too.

Interesting pages/logs I've run across recently:

  • The Sub-Urban Journal, a daily page by Jeff Wiegand focusing on technology and downtown St. Louis
  •, a log by Már Örlygsson in a combination of English and Icelandic. (Okay, so he pointed to one of my pieces, that's not the only reason I'm linking to him. :)

And under the heading of 'no one could make this up':

  • Too many prepositions, conjunctions may crash Word 97 [MSNBC, seen on The Sub-Urban Journal]
    Microsoft Word 97 for Windows may crash or you may receive an error message when you are typing a long sentence that includes several conjunctions (such as "and" or "or") along with at least one preposition (such as "to," "from," "of" or "by").

    According to Microsoft, Office 97 Service Release 2 (SR-2) fixes this problem.

Turning off all the blasted on-by-default grammar checking will also avoid the problem.

And finally, the Internet's favorite intolerant nuts (see here and here) recently screwed up an attempt at international havoc:

  • Flag burners bungle protest [Ottawa Citizen]
    U.S. anti-gay demonstrators protesting in Ottawa yesterday had to ask a police officer how to burn the Canadian flag without setting themselves ablaze.

    While the officer admits he didn't like explaining how to burn Canada's national symbol, he did it as a matter of public safety.

    Sgt. Kirkland, who maintains he has seen people burn themselves before while lighting flags at demonstrations, said he didn't want the Phelps protesters hospitalized and forced to stay in Canada any longer than they had to.

The point's been made elsewhere: how would American customs officials treat foreign citizens who came to the country specifically to burn the American flag?

The Canadians were awfully hospitable considering.

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