Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dearest Hitch,

Get well (don't worry, I won't pray for you).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Autism and Bio-Fraud

This New Scientist article considering public reactions to autism diagnoses is one of the best overviews I've yet read. It focuses briefly on the dissonance of Anti-Vaxer parents, who blame vaccines and pharmaceutical companies for their child's autism, having seemingly little reservation about injecting their children with dangerous chelation chemicals:
The GFCF diet appears positively benign, however, beside some of the other biomed options on offer. Perhaps the most infamous is chelation therapy, promoted by those who say autism is caused by mercury from vaccines, or sometimes other heavy metals, such as lead from the environment. Chelation involves injecting a drug such as dimercaptosuccinic acid, or DMSA, which flushes heavy metals from the body - it is usually used only to treat heavy metal poisoning. Side effects can include temporary damage to the liver and bone marrow.
A parent wondering whether to try this drastic treatment may struggle to separate fact from fiction. Doctor's Data, a private lab based in St. Charles, Illinois, sells a test that parents can use to measure the levels of heavy metals in their child's urine. But an investigation by the medical website Quackwatch found that the Doctor's Data test gave results that were misleadingly high. Doctor's Data did not reply to a request from New Scientist for comment.
Another risky therapy is Lupron, a drug that lowers testosterone levels in men and oestrogen in women, and is sometimes used to delay puberty in children if it starts very early. The use of Lupron in autism is promoted by Mark Geier and David Geier, a father-and-son doctor team based in Rockville, Maryland, who say that the hormonal changes induced by the drug help protect the body against the toxic effects of mercury. Most doctors say there is no science to back up this claim, and that in older children the treatment may undesirably delay the onset of puberty.
Read the full article.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dvorak - New World Symphony

  4th Movement, Herbert Von Karajan

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Conciousness, Complex Cognition, and Language

A great panel video from Lawrence Krauss' Origins Initiative, including Roger Bingham, Steven Pinker, Patricia Churchland, Robert Seyfarth, Jerrold Seigel, and Terrence Sejnowski.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Second the Motion

Beinart seconds:
The second thing I like about Haber’s proposal is that it would put the anti-blockade activists to the test. Their empathy for the people of Gaza is commendable. I wish it would rub off on the Israeli government’s American defenders, who blithely declare that the people of Gaza are not starving, as if they would for one day tolerate the collective punishment of a population of Jews, no matter who those Jews had voted for. What is less clear, however, is the activists’ empathy for the people of Israel. Were activists in Ireland and Malaysia and Turkey to take up Shalit’s cause, it would embarrass Hamas to no end. Hamas would likely reply that it cannot release Shalit unless Israel releases the Palestinians prisoners it holds, and perhaps Israel should release some of them. But the activists could answer that there is no justification for deliberately harming the innocent. That, after all, is what they say about Israel’s blockade. If you are for ending the collective punishment of Gaza (which is not the same as trying to prevent Hamas from acquiring weapons) regardless of whether Shalit is released, as I am, you should also be for releasing Shalit, regardless of whether the blockade ends or Palestinian prisoners are freed. 

Decreasing Room For Civil Dissent?

 "We are trying to express our solidarity with the activists and with the people of Gaza by maintaining a presence at the port," said Inna Michaeli, one of about 100 left-wing Israeli activists and coordinator with the Coalition of Women for Peace, on Monday. "But we are being stopped by the police and by the army. They have turned our country into a military zone."

Which Brain Goes To Heaven?

Rama, I could hug you.

Full Talk Here (Recommended)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Beinart On Blockade

    "the guilt lies with the Israeli leaders who oversee the Gaza embargo, and with Israel’s American supporters, who have averted their eyes. Yesterday’s events are the most dramatic example yet of why the epidemic of not watching must end.   
    The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations greeted news of the flotilla disaster by repeating a common “pro-Israel” talking point: that Israel only blockades Gaza to prevent Hamas from building rockets that might kill Israeli citizens. If only that were true. In reality, the embargo has a broader and more sinister purpose: to impoverish the people of Gaza, and thus turn them against Hamas. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported, the Israeli officials in charge of the embargo adhere to what they call a policy of “no prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis.” In other words, the embargo must be tight enough to keep the people of Gaza miserable, but not so tight that they starve.
    This explains why Israel prevents Gazans from importing, among other things, cilantro, sage, jam, chocolate, French fries, dried fruit, fabrics, notebooks, empty flowerpots and toys, none of which are particularly useful in building Kassam rockets. It’s why Israel bans virtually all exports from Gaza, a policy that has helped to destroy the Strip’s agriculture, contributed to the closing of some 95 percent of its factories, and left more 80 percent of its population dependent on food aid. It’s why Gaza’s fishermen are not allowed to travel more than three miles from the coast, which dramatically reduces their catch. And it’s why Israel prevents Gazan students from studying in the West Bank, a policy recently denounced by 10 winners of the prestigious Israel Prize. There’s a name for all this: collective punishment.
     Israel does not deserve all the blame for Gaza’s impoverishment. Gaza’s other neighbor, Egypt, imposes an embargo of its own, though less effectively. And Hamas has been known to confiscate goods meant for Gaza’s poor. But none of that excuses Israel’s role in keeping Gaza destitute."  More From Peter Beinart at the Daily Beast.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Your Daily Bread... Or Not

The following is a bit of graphic insight into the realities of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.  Photo from the Economist:

This has little to do with the entry of weapons, and much more to do with 'Fuck You.'

It's about inflicting pain on all residents of Gaza for the misfortune of being ruled by Hamas.  What does this kind of ridiculous deprivation get Hamas?  More support.  And I suspect that may be how Bibi's government wants it (for the moment at least).  (h/t Andrew Sullivan)