Not much hard news about the new pope, but some background stuff: AFP Article...his family was from Italy, and a working class background, and he is a Jesuit, but opposed the politicization of the order by those touting "liberation theology".
another note on South America: As people move into the cities, the indigenous Catholicism, that "baptized" pagan celebrations in the villages doesn't fit the lifestyle in the modern "mega cities"...one result is that these city migrants have been in danger of deteriorating into pagan/vodoo type religions, while too many in the church lapsed into "liberation theology" that replaced god with the idea of a Marxist paradise.
One result is the upsurge in Chrismatic/pentecostal churches there: Mainly protestant but also in Catholic parishes. These churches stress a personal relationship to God and finding joy in his worship: but they also stress looking to the Bible to live an ethical life. We see the same thing here in the Philippines.
The original Francis was a "charismatic" type Catholic in his way, so things might get interesting. Franciscans are fervent, but not "pious" in a church lady way. Francis wasn't big on theology.
and, of course, the traditional Jesuit spirituality is to build a person's faith on a personal relationship to God on an intellectual level. So the Pope's approach might be similar to that preached by Benedict XVI's encyclicals, stressing the personal relationship to Jesus (with the church as secondary importance, as a tool to help you do this, and to link you to the community) rather than pushing the institutional church as the most important thing.
Another factoid about the original St Francis: At a time when most Christian monarchs were busy with warlike crusades, Francis went to the preach and try to convert the Muslims (expecting to be martyred). However, the Calif of Cairo recognized him as a Holy man and left him live.
And St. Francis was a pacifist: An ex soldier who probably suffered from what we now call Post traumatic stress syndrome after spending a year as a POW...
One problem with Erythromycin, and later Clarithromycin, is that they affect an enzyme that metabolizes (gets rid of) other drugs in the liver.
(I published a paper on Clarithromycin/tegretol interaction years ago...we cut the dosage of the seizure medicine in half, and the levels stayed high. If we hadn't cut the dosage the patients would have been very toxic from too much seizure medicine).
It was thought Zithromax would be safer, but alas, not so: some reports of torsade de pointes, a nasty type of irregular heart beat, but they don't mention if this is from interacting with other medicines or if it was spontaneous. The article also mentions that it can happen with the quinilone type medicines used for pneumonia.
Patients at particular risk for developing this condition include those with known risk factors such as existing QT interval prolongation, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or use of certain drugs used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias.medscape:
Other drugs that prolong the QT interval and have been implicated in cases of torsade include phenothiazines, tricyclic antidepressants, lithium carbonate, ziprasidone, cisapride, highly active antiretroviral drugs, high-dose methadone, anthracycline chemotherapeutic agents (eg, doxorubicin, daunomycin), some fluoroquinolones, and any other medication using the CYP3A metabolic pathway. Ranolazine, an antiangina agent, also prolongs the QTc, but torsade is a rare complication of this therapy.
Zithromax is easy to use: only a few doses needed because of the long half life. Since the heart problem is rare, and can occur with other antibiotics, the "headsup" isn't likely to make a lot of us change our medical choices, especially if we work with patients who don't like taking pills. The "Quinolone: type meds cost a lot and have their own side effects (watch the caffiene when taking them)...The alternatives include the "cillin" and the "celphalokillitall" type medicines, which have to be taken for 7 to ten days...
TPMBarnett points out a Reuters article on Lockheed Martin developing a way to desalinize water cheaply, using nano technology:
this would help in places like India, which is facing a water shortage.
The process, officials and engineers at Lockheed Martin Corp say, would enable filter manufacturers to produce thin carbon membranes with regular holes about a nanometer in size that are large enough to allow water to pass through but small enough to block the molecules of salt in seawater. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.
It also might help in places like Bangladesh, who cleaned up their water supply and lowered the death rate from dystentary by digging deep wells that didn't have germs in the water, only to find out years later that the deep well water had high arsenic levels...
The City Podcast argues about the Hobbit vs the Hobbit film.