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first_imgBen Coffer gorges on piesTHE BE-MULLETED eighties pop duo Tears For Fears were wrong about so much, yet in one respect they were right on the button: this is, as they sang on the soundtrack to Donnie Darko, a mad world. And in such a mad world, there are few things which have any enduring significance. Popes die, promises made to Chancellors of the Exchequer are forgotten; even the royals we assumed would live in sin forever eventually do the right thing and tie the knot.Nonetheless, there remains a single area of modern life that is, like one of those towns on the retreating cliffs of Whitby, firmly immured against the salty tides of change: the Great English Pork Pie. Anything the world throws at it simply slides off its greasy pastry outer shell, disdained. The pie is a monument to empire. The pie is forever. The pie will be here after Armageddon to feed the cockroaches.The reason for this is simply that the pork pie is the perfect food, in no need of change. Its pastry crust speaks to a diner of infinite potential, obscuring what’s within and defying conventional conceptions of identity. “Don’t ever f**king judge me,” it proclaims, like those modern-day philosophers and renowned lovers of the pork pie, Slipknot. For who can say what lies beneath a crusty mask? While the ’Knot remain forever obscured by theirs, however, the ever-rewarding savoury simply teases until all is revealed with the first bite. Further mouthfuls continue to surprise, offering the full range of textural experiences: an average pie (if such a thing exists) provides the obvious moist chewiness, along with moments of unexpected and inexplicable crunch, and even the more unconventional quivering of the jelly.Such icons inevitably have detractors. There are those, for instance, who frown and tell me that the Pork Pie is too unhealthy to survive in a world where even McDonald’s sells salads. But so what if British meat is accepted worldwide as a breeding ground of BSE, Foot and Mouth, and myriad other plagues? No sane Englishman seriously expects a pork pie to contain real meat. It’s a scientific fact that a pie is 73% safer than a British steak. Pies: one; modern world: nil.“But that’s not the only reason they’re unhealthy,” retorts that insistent voice of modernity. “Pies are incredibly fattening.” Yes they are. And it’s an acknowledged truth that the majority of girls prefer larger men. Pies two; modern world: nil.Still, though, our whining contemporary society persists in its attempts to prove the invulnerable Pork Pie defunct, practically screaming, “Pies don’t actually taste very nice.” No, indeed they don’t. But to dwell on such points is really to misunderstand the ethos of the pork pie. This is a pastry that doesn’t care what people think. It doesn’t need your affirmation. It couldn’t give a toss whether or not you like how it tastes. Rather, it challenges you to eat it in spite of its blandness. This isn’t some nouveau riche foodstuff that wants to be loved. The great English Pork Pie is the aristocrat of the culinary world, and I but its humble serf.ARCHIVE: 0th week TT 2005last_img read more

Saint Mary’s announces new Dean of Faculty

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first_imgVickie Lynne Hess, a native of New York and previous academic dean of the American International College in Massachusetts, has been named Saint Mary’s new dean of faculty, the College announced in a press release Aug. 20. According to the release, Hess received her bachelor’s degree in physics and chemistry from Mount Holyoke College and then pursued a doctorate in chemistry at Indiana University. “I am delighted that our search process brought us Dean Hess,” Senior Vice President and Provost Patricia Fleming said in a press release. “At this juncture in higher education, her prior experience as dean, as well as her background in science, will stand us in good stead. Increasingly more women are coming to us wishing to major in one of the sciences, math or nursing. Vickie understands the complexity of those curriculums. I am grateful to the faculty search committee for urging me to include her as a finalist in our search.” Under the general supervision of Fleming, the dean of faculty oversees curriculum and personnel dealings for all of the current undergraduate departments, interdisciplinary programs and special programs, Hess said. “Different programs around campus will be reporting to me,” Hess said. “I am really going to be looking at questions of faculty load. How much teaching are our faculty members expected to do, and what exactly does this teaching look like? Different disciplines have different ways of teaching, and I believe it is important to know and communicate these differences.” Hess said library faculty, the College’s Writing Center, the Center for Academic Initiatives and the section of the Academic Affairs Office that deals with advising will also report to her. With the College implementing a pilot honors program and a learning outcomes-based curriculum called the Sophia Program, Hess said she looks forward to working with the faculty to continue pushing forward College President Carol Mooney’s initiatives. Hess said in recent years, the public has asked higher education institutions for more accountability. In response, Hess plans to work with faculty to create more academic assessments. “The public wants to know what we are doing,” Hess said. “Academic assessments on departments and curriculum are faculty-led efforts, but someone needs to provide the structure to let it happen.” As a product of a single-sex institution, President Mooney said Dean Hess knows what Saint Mary’s is about and will be a great asset to the community. “Today, we are a pretty unique place,” Mooney said. “She has had similar experiences, so she appreciates what we are about here at Saint Mary’s.” Hess said studying science at Mount Holyoke made her realize how important and necessary institutions are that aim to empower women. “I remember being at the American Chemical Society national meeting with my adviser my senior year at Mount Holyoke, and there were times I looked around the room and I was the only woman and I didn’t even have a bachelor’s degree yet,” Hess said. “That is when I realized for the first time I was going into a ‘man’s field.’” Because she studied at a liberal arts institution, Hess said she can easily connect with Saint Mary’s and will continue to promote the importance of teaching Saint Mary’s women not only what they can do, but what they can become. “We are not just functions, we are human beings,” Hess said. “We have to prepare our students not for what is out there today, but for things they are going to have to learn down the road.” Yesterday marked the first day of the academic calendar, and Hess said she is excited for the campus to continue to buzz with students. “I am thrilled to be here,” Hess said. “I am excited about the warmth of the community. From the very first day, the community has reached out to me, and I feel very much at home.” Contact Kaitlyn Rabach at krabac01@saintmarys.edulast_img read more

WHO: H1N1 flu more contagious than seasonal virus

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first_img A reporter asked him if the WHO could come up with something like the US government’s “Pandemic Severity Index,” which was inspired by hurricane classifications. The reporter said the public is confused because the world is in phase 5 with a “mild” virus, in the context of pandemic preparations triggered by the often-lethal H5N1 avian flu virus. “H1N1 appears to be more contagious than seasonal influenza,” the WHO said in an online statement released today. “The secondary attack rate of seasonal influenza ranges from 5% to 15%. Current estimates of the secondary attack rate of H1N1 range from 22% to 33%.” (The secondary attack rate is defined as the frequency of new cases of a disease among the contacts of known cases.) May 11, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) today said the novel H1N1 influenza (swine flu) virus seems to be more contagious than seasonal flu, but it generally causes “very mild illness” in otherwise healthy people. He said that providing severity information has been “an active part of the pandemic preparedness thinking” in recent years, but he gave no details about what kind of system the WHO might come up with or when it would be unveiled. The statement also noted that the outbreaks in Mexico and the United States have affected younger people more than seasonal flu typically does: “Though cases have been confirmed in all age groups, from infants to the elderly, the youth of patients with severe or lethal infections is a striking feature of these early outbreaks.” May 11 WHO statement “In the past few weeks we’ve been asked, is this a mild event? The response is that we are not sure right now. The situation is evolving,” said Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security and environment. Phase 5, which the WHO declared on Apr 29, means that sustained community transmission is occurring in more than one country in one global region. Phase 6 means a full-scale pandemic, with community transmission going on in more than one region. The WHO says that has not happened yet: While countries such as Spain and the United Kingdom have dozens of cases, they have been limited to school and institutional settings and have not escaped into the wider community. But in response to questions, he said there is no specific number of cases that signals community spread. “What you’re really looking for is something that’s convincing. . . not something that’s just a quirk or an oddity,” he said. “We’re very mindful that going from phase 5 to phase 6 is a very important step and it really would be interpreted that way. I can’t tell you whether that’s 10 people or 100 people or so on.” The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced its Pandemic Severity Index in February 2007 as part of its guidance on community interventions for combating a pandemic. The index is based on case-fatality rates (CFRs), with a CFR of 2% or greater signaling the most severe pandemic: category 5. The pandemics of 1957 and 1968 qualify as category 2 events, with CFRs between 0.1% and 0.5%, HHS officials said. “Now severity is a different characteristic,” Fukuda said. The severity of an epidemic can refer to the incidence of mild, moderate, or severe illness, and it can also refer to the overall social and economic impact of an outbreak on a country, he said.center_img Pandemic phases versus severityMuch of today’s WHO statement, titled “Assessing the severity of an influenza pandemic,” explained the numerous variables that affect the severity of a pandemic. It was released the same day that Dr. Keiji Fukuda, speaking at a press briefing, took pains to explain that the WHO’s pandemic alert phases do not describe the severity of an outbreak but refer only to how widely the disease has spread. See also: Although WHO officials have been careful not to characterize the severity of the H1N1 situation, the agency is working on a system to help provide that kind of information, Fukuda said. Defining community spreadIn other comments today, Fukuda said the criterion for “community spread” of a disease is “when you begin to see people who are getting infected and you’re just not clear where they’re getting infected from.” He added that many US cases can’t be traced anywhere, unlike the cases in school and institutional outbreaks. The agency noted that, because the virus is new, scientists expect that few people are likely to have any immunity to it. In that context, the statement that the new virus is more contagious than seasonal flu is not surprising, but it appears to be the first time the WHO has offered any specific figures comparing the contagiousness of the novel virus and seasonal flu. The WHO further stated, “With the exception of the outbreak in Mexico, which is still not fully understood, the H1N1 virus tends to cause very mild illness in otherwise healthy people. Outside Mexico, nearly all cases of illness, and all deaths, have been detected in people with underlying chronic conditions.” The WHO statement goes into more detail. It says the virulence of the virus largely determines the number of severe illnesses and deaths, but many other factors influence the overall severity, including the contagiousness of the virus, the age distribution of cases, the prevalence of chronic health problems and malnutrition in a population, viral mutations, the number of waves of illness, and the quality of health services. Fukuda replied, “WHO, with the same group of people who have been working on phases and on pandemic preparedness plans, has been working on developing a way to grade severity. We have refrained at this point as to posting whether we think it’s a mild stage or medium or severe. I think we will be trying to provide this guidance as soon as we can.” Feb 1, 2007, CIDRAP News story “HHS ties pandemic mitigation advice to severity”last_img read more