Diamond Mind Baseball 8 to Ship at End of November

Diamond Mind, Inc., recently announced that version 8 of Diamond Mind Baseball should begin shipping at the end of November.

For those of you who have never heard of the game, Diamond Mind is a hardcore baseball simulation that is simply without peer. If you want to practice hitting pretty looking baseballs with your D-pad, this game is definitely not for you. On the other hand, if you want the most statistically accurate simulation of baseball on the planet, Diamond Mind Baseball is it (the game gets down to such minutae as taking into account infrequent calls such as catcher inteference).

The big change for Version 8 is the game is finally ported to Windows (it used to run exclusively under DOS), and has a bunch of new options, including my most requested feature for any games — outputting of reports to HTML.

DSL and Hackers

Wired’s Farhad Manjoo has an article about the potential problems created by always-on broadband connections, Broadband Could be Hackland.

I was surprised after all of the literature they sent me along with the numerous times I called technical support, that no one at Ameritech even raised the possibility that extra security precautions might be in order when using a DSL connection. I was already aware of such problems, but you’d think even a small “buy a firewall program for extra security” note might be in order.

On the other hand, maybe they have the same contempt for their consumers as [email protected]’s Richard Holden does. Holden says the security problems with broadband have been blown out of proportion (which may be somewhat true) and, as Wired paraphrases, “Holden added that only if people are using their computers to store sensitive information will extra security software be necessary.”

What world is this guy living? Everybody I know who owns a computer has sensitive data on it, even the folks who aren’t power users. Several people I know use their computer to prepare their tax returns; others use Quicken and other financial packages to keep track of their money.

As far as I’m concerned my e-mail is very sensitive data in that I wouldn’t want some cracker gaining access to it. I know even casual computer users who use email to communicate relatively sensitive information. Of course firewalls don’t guarantee nobody will get access to your data, but you always want to put as many impediments as feasibly possible in the way of those with malicious intent.

The blaise attitude among broadband providers toward security is very puzzling.

A Disgruntled Yankees Fan

Hey, I rearranged my schedule yesterday so I could watch the Yankees pound the Mets, but the bizarre Roger Clemens bat throwing incident kind of put a damper on any enthusiasim over the win. ESPN has a look at Clemen’s various explanations for throwing the piece of broken bat at Mets catcher Mike Piazza, but whatever his motive, it is largely irrelevant. He should have been ejected immediately from the game. Since that didn’t happen, a league suspension would be the next logical step — Clemens shouldn’t be allowed to pitch again this year (it was very annoying that the Fox announcers tiptoed around this question. Fox’s baseball announcers are almost as bad as Fox’s football lineup is good).

Scientist Discover Why Malaria Resists Chloroquine

For many decades the most effective treatment for those infected with Malaria was chloroquine. But recently in many parts of the world a strain of malaria parasite that is resistant to chloroquine emerged. Some countries were forced to simply abandon chloroquine treatment.

Now researchers at the US Institute of Allegy and Infectious Diseases announced they found that the mutation of a single gene in the parasite is responsible for the emergence of chloroquine resistance. Formerly it was believed that a number of mutations spread over a number of genes was likely responsible.

If this result holds up, it should make it easier to potentially alter chloroquine in such a way as to evade the parasite’s new-found resistance and make chloroquine an effective treatment for malaria once again.

Source:

Malaria parasite gene breakthrough. The BBC, October 20, 2000.

BBC Surprise Discovery: Vaccines Made Using Animal Material

Given that the United Kingdom is the source of rather intensive activities by animal rights activists, you’d think the British public might be better informed about issues relating to animals. Of course you’d be wrong, as the BBC felt it had to actually run a story this week pointing out that vaccines are typically made using animal cells.

According to the BBC story, How vaccines are made, “many people would be surprised at the animal-based ingredients scientists must use to mass-produce vaccines.” Sad, very sad.

Anyway, aside from the “duh” aspect to the story, it is a pretty good summary of how vaccines go from laboratory to syringe. One of the things that the BBC points out is that often animal material is used rather than human material because scientists have a much better understanding of how to get the animal material to produce vaccine material.

The cells are bathed in a “soup” made up of those ingredients, and frequently include other organic chemicals such as growth factors, which can help the cells to develop.

Although human growth factors can be extracted, these do not provide as reliable results as other factors, such as foetal calf serum, which is widely used

Remember that the next time animal rights activists suggest that human cells and materials can totally replace animal culture. Sometimes they can, but in many cases they can’t.

The reason for the BBC interest, by the way, is fear that polio vaccine manufactured in the UK that used tissue from calf fetuses could potentially be contaminated with BSE. There are already strict controls to monitor cows used for this purpose to avoiding any viruses, and at the moment the risk remains very theoretical — the procedures involved in purifying the vaccines should destroy all of the proteins that would contain any BSE.

Even with the theoretical risk, polio vaccine made with animal products has been an amazing success. Cases of polio around the world have plummeted to less than 10,000 and the World Health Organization is currently engaged in a massive vaccination effort around the world that should eradicate the disease entirely by the year 2005.

Such a success would have been impossible if the animal rights activists had gotten their way and prevented the creation of animal models for polio (and polio was extremely animal testing intensive with upwards of 2 million non-human primates utilized by research institutes around the world in the drive for an effective, safe vaccine).

Source:

How vaccines are made. The BBC, October 20, 2000.