August 25, 2008

August 25, 2008
I hope you're having a great day. Thanks for stopping by to see how another day in my life is going.

All things considered things are going well. Unlike so many others in Jacksonville where I live, I did not get flooded or have damage from Tropical Storm Fay except for downed limbs and leaves. So my cleanup only took a couple of days. Our city still have thousands without power as we enter day three after the storm. It is hot as hell here today and I feel very sorry for those without power. Comcast customers who are west of the St. Johns River in my city are without any services. I know my phone, internet and cable were out for around five hours which was bad enough. I mentioned the uproar about one of our congress members received preferential treatment from the city by having city employees sandbag her house which was flooding while not providing the same service to any of her neighbors. Well the people of Jacksonville are pissed off about it. Our local news channel received tons of email expressing their anger at Congresswoman Corrine Brown receiving the help as so many others were left to the ravages of the storm. Brown defends herself by saying she was paying for the service and obviously does not understand why people got upset or why the news crew was there questioning her. Just goes to show how out of touch politicians can be I guess. A lot of them think they are special and above the very voters who put them in office to begin. Now the people are expressing their anger and frustration. Amazing how politicians are like cockroaches and hide when the light gets shined on their less than reputable behaviors.

The stock market was a mess today. Stocks sank in thin trading Monday as worries about the credit ratings of American International Group Inc. weighed on the financial sector. The major indexes fell more than 1 1/2 percent, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which was off more than 200 points. AIG was the steepest decliner among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials after a Credit Suisse analyst cut his price target on the world's largest insurer and after Fitch Ratings warned late Friday that it might cut its ratings on the company, which has been buffeted by investors' distaste for some of the types of complex debt instruments on AIG's books. The financial sector has struggled in part because of a spike in the number of homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments. A report Monday by a trade group for real estate agents showed that the number of unsold properties rose to an all-time high in July. The National Association of Realtors' report that sales of existing homes increased 3.1 percent was better than Wall Street expected, but investors appeared generally unimpressed by the overall findings. In midafternoon trading, the Dow industrials fell 206.97, or 1.78 percent, to 11,421.09. Broader stock indicators also fell Monday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 22.02, or 1.70 percent, to 1,270.18, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 46.04, or 1.91 percent, to 2,368.67. some volatility in the market will likely continue, even if volume builds, until Wall Street gets a sense that credit troubles, inflation and the generally soft economy are on the mend.

Now if you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know I am a fan of the television show Dancing With the Stars. Susan Lucci, Toni Braxton and Lance Bass will hit the floor on the next season of the show. They are among 13 celebrities slated to compete on the new season of the top-rated dance contest, premiering September 22. The other contestants are Cloris Leachman, Kim Kardashian, Ted McGinley, Brooke Burke, NFL champ Warren Sapp and two Olympic athletes: Misty May-Treanor, who won her second gold medal for beach volleyball at this year's summer games in Beijing, and Maurice Greene, who won two gold medals in track at the 2000 games in Sydney. Rounding out the cast are chef Rocco DiSpirito, Cody Linley of "Hannah Montana" and comedian Jeffrey Ross. The names were announced Monday on ABC News Good Morning America. So it will be interesting to see who stands out in the new season. Time will tell.

We finally have some new news to help us with the fight on HIV and AIDS. Doctors are considering using a new technology to genetically modify AIDS patients’ own cells to be resistant to HIV. They’re modeling the idea after rare individuals who are naturally immune to the AIDS virus. Over years of intensive study, scientists have discovered that an exceedingly small number of people have a natural immunity to HIV due to a single genetic mutation called delta 32, a deletion of 32 letters of DNA on the CCR5 gene, which codes for a molecule that HIV uses to enter immune system cells. This molecule is analogous to the cell’s gatekeeper, allowing things in and out of the cell; if it’s not there, the HIV cannot infiltrate the cell. Now researchers are testing a new way to create that same natural immunity in people who already have HIV, and as they recently announced in the journal Nature Biotechnology, they have had encouraging success working with mice. Their work found a way to disable this gatekeeper in a way similar to people who are born, those fortunate few, who have a natural immunity to the virus. They used a very powerful type of gene modification that uses zinc finger proteins or “ZFPs.” ZFPs are modeled after naturally occurring proteins that act as transcription factors, telling the cell which genes should be expressed and which should not. These proteins are able to switch on or switch off the expression of essentially any gene in the human genome. HIV has shown time and again that it’s good at mutating and thwarting treatments. But since this strategy shuts the door on the virus, the researchers are hopeful it may have an advantage there as well. The research team is now planning safety tests for the treatment in HIV patients, using their own modified cells. June says in the short-term, they’ll start with small doses of modified cells and follow patients closely to monitor safety, and to see whether the cells are in fact exhibiting HIV resistance. So let's keep our fingers crossed and hope this will be yet another way for people to stay alive while dealing with HIV and AIDS. Millions of lives could be saved.

Well that wraps up another day in my life. Hopefully you had a great day also. Remember to reach for the stars while keeping your feet on the ground.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

Big bear hug,

Daddy Dab