I hate
October 12, 2001 6:01 PM   Subscribe

I hate that bloody Paperclip too, but this seems a bit extreme.
posted by saladin (9 comments total)

nah, just kidding

what i really want to know is what means "presumptively positive"?
posted by cheesebot at 6:14 PM on October 12, 2001

It means they are presuming a positive result.
posted by QrysDonnell at 6:19 PM on October 12, 2001

well that's pretty presumptuous of them!
posted by cheesebot at 6:26 PM on October 12, 2001

Today at work the entire company received an ominous email about new (snail) mail room procedures. Gloves, masks, a machine opening all the mail, only accepting mail from 'expected' sources etc.

That, combined with all the big shots (VP's and up) acting funny today, makes me suspect we might have received one of the alleged anthrax letters.

Re: presumptively positive

I found this pdf that uses the phrase in this context

Samples with absorbance readings greater than or equal to the Cutoff Value are presumptively positive. Positive samples should be confirmed.

So, I assume it's scientist jargon for "tested positive once, retesting to make sure". Scientists can be pretty anal that way.

(any of the aforementioned anal scientists want to correct/confirm my presumptively positive theory? (-:)
posted by alan at 6:42 PM on October 12, 2001

alan: how unnerving.
posted by rebeccablood at 7:01 PM on October 12, 2001

I used to work for Searle, the drug subsidiary of Monsanto. One of their drugs, Cytotec aka misoprostol, has abortifacient side-effects. That means if you take it when you're pregnant, you'll miscarry. Even though the company took strident PR measures to discourage doctors from prescribing it for anything but its approved purposes, the company was considered to be a target of anti-abortion protestors. We'd periodically get warnings just like this, to be on the lookout for packages with telltale signs such as postage or addressing problems, amateurish or bedraggled packaging, "loose wires" (!), or foreign substances. I always wondered whether a person savvy enough to put together a credible terrorist device wouldn't be smarter than that, and make his package look perfectly in place.

By the way, these stringent security procedures (ten years ago!) weren't enough to keep some stoners in custodial from stealing a Macintosh every other week or so to pay for their habit ....
posted by dhartung at 8:08 PM on October 12, 2001

2nd anthrax test inconclusive

(in the 2nd paragraph - I heard this on the local radio)

just fyi.
posted by epersonae at 8:11 PM on October 12, 2001

As far as I can tell, their 'presumtively positive' means that it could possibly, maybe be anthrax. They determined that it was Gram-positive, and a bacillus, but there are plenty of non-infectious bacillus out there. Basically they haven't ruled out anthrax yet, and they're scared. Also, cutaneous anthrax, while something needing treatment, usually is not fatal, and apparently around 200 people catch it in the US annually. I'm not sure if y'all can access JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association), but there is lengthy coverage of anthrax there in Vol 281 (No 18) May 12 1999.
posted by LabTroglodyte at 8:37 PM on October 12, 2001

In case anyone is still paying attention . .

I work for a 'news organization', and it turns out that one of the reporter unions threatened a walkout if procedures weren't implemented immediately. (since it was the news organizations that received a lot of the suspected letters)

Still somewhat unnerving.
posted by alan at 10:15 AM on October 15, 2001

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