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Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Run on the Market

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 10:09 PM

From a hot tipper at swine@thestranger.com. (And here I was, thinking "swine@" was our general inbox address.)

You can't buy Purell around here. Bartell's on Rainier was sold out (except for travel samples), and so was Bartell's on Broadway & Pike. Though at the Broadway store, someone stashed five bottles behind the hand creams, and I found them! SNAP! I grabbed 2, then pointed them out to another customer, who bought 1. If you're quick there's still 2 left!

Yes, soap and water works, and so do wipes (though stocks on them were getting very low as well). Also, Lysol has a liquid foaming hand sanitizer that's stocked elsewhere in the store (household cleaning supplies, with the rest of the Lysol).

That's all... for now!

It's the "for now" that gets me. Am I ashamed that I just lugged my ass back from QFC with a giant boxful of canned food? No. I am not. That sweet corn would taste real nice next to a hunk of roasted Greenlake goose.

Competitive Spring Roll Eating: The Video

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 9:14 PM

Our own Paul Constant ate 23 fried spring rolls in 2 minutes. Uh, DAMN! I'm still in awe of all the contestants. And even more so, love and support for Seattle's International District...

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Sure Didn't Look Like the World Was in the Grip of an Imminent Pandemic Today

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 9:01 PM

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In the immortal words of Stephen Colbert: "Stay calm, but remember: excessive calmness may be a symptom of swine flu."

Supreme Court Justice David Souter To Retire

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 7:46 PM

You gotta imagine that Obama is actually kinda thrilled he gets to choose a new Supreme Court nominee so soon. He's a former constitutional law professor. This is his thing! NPR's Supreme Court reporter extraordinaire Nina Totenberg breaks the news.

Seahawks Re-Sign Leroy Hill

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 5:33 PM

The Seahawks have worked out a long-term contract with linebacker Leroy Hill, setting the Hawks up to have one of the most badass linebacking corps in the NFL.

The Hawks removed their franchise tag from Hill after signing Aaron Curry, and I had doubts that they'd be able to re-sign him.

Lofa, Aaron Curry and Hill should be monstrous. The 2009 season can't come soon enough.

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Three More Seattle-Area Schools to Close Because of Swine Flu

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 5:15 PM

The King County Health Department has ordered the closure of three more schools in the Seattle area. Stevens elementary, Aki Kurose Middle School in Seattle and Woodmont elementary in Federal Way will close for at least a week after several students came down with apparent cases of swine flu.

Earlier today, the Seattle School District shut down Madrona K-8 over a probable case of swine flu at the school.

Perez Hilton on Miss California (Sorry About The Mental Image)

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 5:10 PM

Perez has got a point—also, did you know that NOM's new ad was pulled off of YouTube today? NOM, as you may recall, got their audition tapes yanked from YouTube by claiming copyright infringement. Well, guess who's infringing copyrights now? Love him or hate him, Perez kicked NOM's ass today.

And in an unrelated development... Chrysler went bankrupt today.

There Is No Morality Without Religion

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 4:24 PM

CNN:

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.... White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified—more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

Perhaps white evangelicals would find my relationship less objectionable if I wanted to torture my boyfriend instead of marrying him. (And, yeah, unaffiliateds aren't exactly moral beacons—four in ten supporting torture isn't anything to shout about.)

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Hot Guys in Flu Masks

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 4:20 PM

Inevitable. And highly clickable.

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More Probable Swine Flu Cases In Washington

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 4:09 PM

I'm up at the state health department lab in Shoreline where they've been testing medical samples for swine flu all week.

It appears several more probable swine flu cases have been found in Washington. In the last four days, the state lab has received about 100 samples of possible swine flu for testing, 60 of which came in within the last 24 hours.

Right now, any probable samples have to be shipped off to the CDC in Atlanta for confirmation—which takes about a week—but the state should be getting its very own swine flu test kit some time next week.

I'll have more info as soon as I get back to the office.

Update: Expect more school closures. King County has confirmed 7 additional probable swine flu cases, 4 of which are school-age children. A King County spokeswoman would not confirm potential closures but did say that a press release about schools was coming later today.

Department of Unsubstantiated Rumors

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 3:58 PM

This just in to our e-mail:

Harborview has its first Swine Flu patient. The patient presented at the Emergency Room earlier today and was admitted to the hospital about an hour ago.

There hasn't been a general announcement to staff about the H1N1 patient, but UW Medicine employees have been sent an alert with the usual directives: wash hands frequently, stay home if sick, and have two weeks of food on hand in case there's a quarantine.

I'm a Harborview employee, and while I'm sure this information will be released to the public in a few hours, I'd appreciate it if you just referred to me as "K."

This isn't confirmed. The P.I. points out:

"Like other states, Washington does not yet have the capacity to identify the swine flu being investigated. But labs here have been able to narrow down the subtype of flu samples collected, which have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation"

More as it comes in.

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Pandemics and the People Who Love Them

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Who loves widespread disease? Conservative, anti-scientific minds who are always chaining themselves up with their own personal incredulity. Intelligent designers, for example—suggest that a complex organ like the eye just evolved, and they can't believe it. They think that sounds ridiculous, impossible, maybe even a little sinful:

"If polar bears are (the) dominant (predator) in the Arctic, then there would seem to have been no need for them to evolve a white-coloured form of camouflage." In his book Probability of God, Anglican Bishop Hugh Montefiore casts doubt on neo-Darwinian evolution with that statement. This argument was addressed by the evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins in his book The Blind Watchmaker, who wrote that if the writer had thought to imagine a black polar bear trying to sneak up on a seal in the Arctic, he would see the evolutionary value of such fur. The ignorance in this case was assuming that no other purpose could be served.

Just like intelligent designers, people who first heard of inoculation—put a little disease in you to stop the big disease from killing you—couldn't believe it, thought that sounded ridiculous, impossible, sinful:

in 1721, Boston doctor Zabdiel Boylston took a gamble with his young son's life and inoculated him against smallpox. Puritan minister Cotton Mather had learned from one of his slaves that in Africa people did not fear the disease that so terrified Europeans. The Africans placed a small amount of smallpox pus into a scratch on children's arms, thus making them immune to the disease. When an epidemic broke out in Boston in 1721, Mather wanted to try this method. He convinced Dr. Boylston, but other physicians and the public thought the idea barbaric, even sinful. However, when those Boylston inoculated survived, the tide of public opinion began to turn. Within a few years, the once-controversial practice would be routine.

Funny that, in this case, a Puritan preacher and his slave are the agents of progress, but there it is. History is weird.

Also historically weird: If it weren't for smallpox, America would've taken Quebec and Montreal would probably look like Buffalo, New York.

(Thanks to Mudede for the links.)

Attention Superstars!

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 3:48 PM

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Friday, May 8 brings the third-annual Stranger Gong Show to Chop Suey, where a parade of talented citizens—professional and amateur, old and young, sweet and sour—will make its way across the stage, and one lucky winner will be showered with prizes including $300 cash!

Like every year, each act will have a minimum of 45 seconds and a maximum of four minutes to perform and try not to get gonged by our panel of judges. What kind of acts are we looking for? The usual: Jugglers, magicians, jug bands, tap dancers, strongmen, yodelers, standup comics, sword swallowers, contortionists, slam poets, marching bands, mimes, bird callers, puppeteers, tuba players, hula-hoopers, comedy skits, chanteuses, ventriloquists, clog dancers, celebrity impersonators, Butoh dancers, vaudeville acts, burlesque dancers, accordionists, air bands—and any other unique and entertaining acts.

Sign up for the competition and find complete show and prize info right here. (Or sign up in person the night of the show—complete info on how to do this is here as well.)

And for those of you who could really use $300 cash and a heartening personal triumph but feel unsure about competing in a Gong Show: May this classic bit from the original Gong Show remind you that literally everyone can do something stage-worthy.

Looking On The Bright Side

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Okay, a lot of people might die—but if the swine flu pandemic puts an end to the whole "sex pig" thing... they won't have died in vain.

Suspicious-Looking Pig Seen Outside Madrona School

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 3:30 PM

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The doors to Madrona K-8 have signs on them explaining why the school is closed (you can read them here and here). That's the school in the background. Across the street from it, this pig is cavorting with a panther. They are part of a sculpture by Richard Beyer called "The Peaceable Kingdom" that sits in the grass outside the Madrona-Sally Goldmark Branch of the Seattle Public Library. An employee of the library, asked if she's worried about swine flu considering she works right across the street from the site of a probable case, said, "My boss just told me we're not able to comment on it."

Back outside, as that KIRO van was going past, someone rounding the block shouted to her friend, "KIRO still got their ass here? Shit, they've been here since 9 this morning! There ain't no news here!"

The PI is reporting that two siblings of the 11-year-old Madrona school student whose illness forced the closure of this school now likely have the flu as well. The possible number of cases in King County is now 13. Eight of them are children. According to the AP, 300 schools are now closed across the country.

Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 3:23 PM

First, Miss California doesn't really look like she's enjoying herself at her presser, does she? Particularly when she's asked about her breast implants...

But Miss California came down on the side of the every-child-deserves-a-mother-and-a-father argument against gay marriage: "Unless we bring men and women together children will not have mothers and fathers." Because, um, if gay people can get married, uh, straight people will stop "coming together" and making babies. Because the only thing straight people find compelling about heterosexual sex—and the babies that sometimes result—is the wedding part. If you let gay people get married too then, er, straight people just aren't going to be interested in sex anymore—or marriage or kids—because, um, I'm not sure how that works exactly, Miss California, but I'll take your word for it, seeing as how you represent seven million Californians and you're straight and all. And this "every child deserves a mother and a father" post is for you:

A young girl who told police her father forced her to help as he cut up her mother's body with an electric saw said she could only look away when the head fell to the floor. The girl is the chief witness against James Hawkins, 31, a prison parolee charged with first-degree murder in the death of Charlene Gaither, 28... The girl, now in the custody of her mother's family, said her younger brothers did not witness the slaying nor see their mother's body. But, she said, she was forced to help clean up the bloody scene and drag the body to a freezer where it was stored temporarily.

"I told my dad I didn't want to do this anymore," she told police. "He says, 'You want to die, too?'"

Just think: if gay people were allowed to marry in Tennessee, why, James and Charlene's children might've been deprived of a mother and a father. Tragic.

Catch It. Bin It. Kill It.

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:49 PM

An ad from the British government's new swine flu education campaign. (Um, they only have eight confirmed cases, we have 112, and they have a public health ad up before we do?)


Though this one, from 1948, is far more cute—hankies!


Via The Lede.

Mexican U.S. Flu

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:46 PM

Whoops:

In a pair of articles in New Scientist, Debora MacKenzie links the swine flu virus now spreading across the globe to large-scale pork-raising operations in the United States.

In the first article, titled “Swine flu: the predictable pandemic?,” MacKenzie writes that the “virus has been a serious pandemic threat for years, New Scientist can reveal—but research into its potential has been neglected compared with other kinds of flu.” She writes that the strain now in the headlines has its origins in an earlier outbreak in the United States a decade ago:


This type of virus emerged in the U.S. in 1998 and has since become endemic on hog farms across North America. Equipped with a suite of pig, bird and human genes, it was also evolving rapidly.

Which, if true, also means that US officials shouldn't have been so deferential to the pork industry in agreeing to no longer call it "swine flu."

Deep Thought

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:44 PM

We'll never know if Miss California would be out there campaigning so hard against gay marriage if Perez Hilton hadn't have called her a bitch... but I'm thinking it didn't help.

The Grossest Thing You Will See All Day

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:42 PM

I'm not the least bit squeamish, but this Serious Eats photo of a whole chicken splorting out of a can ("Homestyle!") seriously squicked me out:

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Backstory here.

Tips for Flu Scare

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:08 PM

As you can see, we have a new tag—SNOUTBREAK—for any posts related to the flu scare. It's unclear how serious this is going to get, and if it starts getting ugly we'll obviously let up on the jokey stuff. We have several staffers devoted to working on this developing story. If you have any information that might be interesting or useful to them, the email address for tips is swine@thestranger.com.

Introducing The Stranger's Happy Hour iPhone App!

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 2:00 PM

a0ec/1241113827-picture_3.pngGot an iPhone? Then check out The Stranger's brand new iPhone application—Cocktail Compass! Cocktail Compass makes all of The Stranger's invaluable happy hour information available at the tip of your cheap-alcohol-craving finger.

Say you're standing at the corner of 45th and University at 5 pm—you just got off work and you're looking for a place to drink. Just open up Cocktail Compass and it will supply you with a list of nearby bars with happy hours happening right that very moment! It'll even tell you what their specials are!

With Cocktail Compass you'll be able to:

*Easily find happy hours that are happening near you RIGHT NOW.
*Search for bars with your preferred features (patios, pool, dancing, free wi-fi, etc).
*Bookmark your favorite places.
*And, once you've gotten good and drunk, you can call a cab quickly and easily!

Best part: It's totally free.

It's 2:00 pm—happy hour starts soon. You don't want to waste this weather, do you? Download and start drinking!

UPDATE: Find a bug? Missing your favorite happy hour? Please email us at cocktailcompass@thestranger.com.

The Animals

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:45 PM

To manufacture the vaccine for a flu from pigs, humans need lots of eggs from chickens.

The biggest obstacle is the egg-based technology used to develop all flu vaccines in the United States.

The process involves first growing the virus in chicken eggs, then harvesting it into vaccines.

Not only is this a time-consuming process, but Goldhammer points out that the quantity of the vaccine produced is limited to the egg's volume.

"It's only so fast that you can make a chicken lay eggs," said Goldhammer.

Who knew this was the future of breakfast, of eggs and bacon.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:37 PM

I just got the following press release from the American Public Transportation Association (emphasis added):

Public Transportation Is Safe
Public Transit Systems Have Precautionary Procedures In Place

The millions of people who take public transportation should continue to do so, knowing that public transit systems already have procedures in place to deal with seasonal flu outbreaks and are closely monitoring the H1N1 virus (swine flu) outbreak.

“People should continue to ride public transportation. Buses and trains are as safe as any other public area,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) president William W. Millar. “Public transit systems deal with large numbers of people on a regular basis and already have precautionary procedures in place for both riders and employees.”

Transit systems regularly clean facilities, vehicles, and fare vending equipment with high-grade germicidal solutions and will take additional measures as appropriate.

Transit systems regularly clean facilities! Don't you feel reassured?

Does It?

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:35 PM

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The Latest Look

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:35 PM

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GET WELL SOON MASKS

The very sterile looking white gauze mask inspired to make it more cheerful and funny while still serving its purpose.

Step Away from the President

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:25 PM

Washington Post:

An Energy Department employee who was part of the advance team for President Obama's recent trip to Mexico is suspected of having contracted the swine flu virus and transmitting it to his family in Anne Arundel County, the White House said today.

The man is on the security staff of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who traveled with Obama to Mexico on April 16. He is believed to have transmitted the highly contagious virus to his wife, son and nephew, press secretary Robert Gibbs said...

The staffer worked a dinner Obama attended in Mexico City, Gibbs said. After the White House learned of his exposure to the virus late last night, Gibbs said, the man "was asked specifically if he ever came within six feet of the president" during the dinner.

"The answer," Gibbs told reporters, "was 'no.' "

"I'm a fierce advocate for gay and lesbian Americans."

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 1:13 PM

On inauguration day the Obama administration launched the White House's new website. Gays and lesbians disheartened by Obama's selection of Rick Warren—an anti-gay bigot (and a liar)—to give the invocation took comfort in the prominence given gay rights on the new White House website. Obama's gay rights agenda was listed under "civil rights," another nice signal (which I praised on Salon this week), and not under "gay rights," as if gay rights were somehow separate and distinct from civil rights. The Obama administration committed itself to repealing DOMA, DADT, supporting adoption rights for same-sex couples (which took a big hit on election day), and supporting HIV prevention efforts. Well that was then.

Hey, President Obama! Where did that famous list of commitments to LGBT rights go on your website? Within five minutes of Obama's swearing-in, a heavily detailed list of eight promises to us were posted: repeal DADT, support ENDA, expand adoption rights, etc. There's no mention of DADT or adoption rights or HIV prevention anymore, here's the two sentences that remain: "President Obama also continues to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage."

Joe links to what's on the White House website today versus what was posted on the White House website on inauguration day.

When Obama was criticized for selecting Warren he responded by saying that he was a "fierce advocate" for gay rights. WTF, Mr. President?

Preprimary Pushback

Posted by on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 12:59 PM

792c/1241120338-delbene.jpgSome pretty tough talk over in the Eastside's 8th Congressional District as it begins to sound like Democratic newcomer Suzan DelBene is going to have a primary fight. From my story in this week's Stranger:

Suzan DelBene is acting like she wants to clear the field. In February, almost two years before Eastside Republican congressman Dave Reichert will stand for reelection, the former Microsoft executive announced her intent to take him down. Though a political newcomer, she then posted early fundraising numbers that give her a bigger war chest than Reichert—based largely on her own donation of $200,000. When asked, DelBene spokeswoman Kelly Evans said she didn't know of any other Democrats who are think about getting into the race.

That's surprising, though, because it's not hard to find Democrats who are pondering alternatives to DelBene. They're concerned that her profile—politically untested former Microsoftie—overlaps too much with that of failed two-time Reichert challenger Darcy Burner, whose losses were heartbreaking for Democrats looking to swing the 8th District into liberal hands. 81e8/1241120579-chrishurst.jpgThey're also alarmed by the news, first reported on The Stranger's blog, that DelBene failed to vote in nine elections over the last four years (including the 2006 general election, when the seat she now wants was up for grabs). "Logic dictates that a person who hasn't been voting is going to have a virtually impossible time getting elected in the 8th District," said state representative Chris Hurst (D-31), who represents the southern portion of Reichert's district. "You don't really get past that issue."

Also weighing in on DelBene: state senator Rodney Tom (D-48), who told me:

c41b/1241120827-rodneytom.jpgI just think that Congress isn't a place where you start your political career... Not only have I voted in elections, but I have literally thousands of votes that I've taken on issues, and people can know where I stand.

Sounds like DelBene may have a more crowded field than she'd like. Here's more from Hurst regarding DelBene's early money, which he told me he isn't sweating:

If I announced for this race, I could make two phone calls, and within 24 hours that amount of money would look like a joke.

Weigh in on whether Hurst can "do basic math," whether Rodney Tom has a chance, and whether it's fair to compare Suzan DelBene to Darcy Burner here.

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"Heavy Petting"

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Lunchtime Quickie

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Please Step Up

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Deep Thought

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Food, Inc.

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Dining Out for Life

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