Monday, April 30, 2007

Lesbians twice as likely to be obese

It will be interesting to see the sociological reasons for this:

LESBIANS are twice as likely as heterosexual women to be overweight or obese, which puts them at greater risk for obesity-related health problems and death, US researchers said.

The report, published in the American Journal of Public Health, is one of the first large studies to look at obesity among lesbians. Read More.

Iran police & woman's Hijab

This is what happens when you don't get your hijab on just right:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Global Warming

I don't think this is meant to be a joke. Scary!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mexico City Lawmakers Pass Abortion Bill

This is going to be a real battle between the Catholic Church and pro abortion advocates. Mexico can now enter the ranks of western countries. Sad:

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico City lawmakers voted to legalize abortion Tuesday, a decision likely to influence policies and health practices across Mexico and other parts of heavily Roman Catholic Latin America.

The proposal, approved 46-19, with one abstention, will take effect with the expected signing by the city's leftist mayor. Abortion opponents have already vowed to appeal the law to the Supreme Court, a move likely to extend the bitter and emotional debate in this predominantly Catholic nation. Read More.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Third of graduate women will be childless

This study was done in England:

A third of women graduates will never have children, research has concluded.

The number of highly educated women who are starting families has plummeted in the past decade, according to findings that provide the most detailed insight yet into education and fertility.

While some women are making a conscious decision not to have children, others are simply leaving it too late after taking years to build their careers, buy a home and find the right partner. Read More.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates

Interesting article on America's first war against the pirates of the Barbary coast. Interesting that it was also against Muslims.

This quote is very striking, I didn't realize this:

How many know that perhaps 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa between 1530 and 1780? We dimly recall that Miguel de Cervantes was briefly in the galleys. But what of the people of the town of Baltimore in Ireland, all carried off by “corsair” raiders in a single night? Read the rest.

When a MY Space Party Goes Horribly Wrong

What would you do if she was your child?

Remember that advertisement for Yellow Pages from the 1990s in which a brutally hung-over young man wakes up on the sofa to recall the wild house party he threw the night before?

All he had to do was let his fingers do the walking and call in a French polisher to put the damage right before his parents' return.

But 17-year-old Rachael Bell was not so fortunate. She would have needed an army to even begin to tackle the £25,000 orgy of destruction visited upon her parents' home in just a few hours.

An open invitation was placed on Rachael's MySpace page for revellers to attend a 'Skins Party' (based on a riotous episode of the controversial C4 teen drama). The invitation was headed: "Let's all trash the average, family-sized house disco party." Read More.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Silent Drill Team

This is fascinating:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Best Advice On How To Comfort A Grieving Parent


A heart felt perspective from a grieving mother.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Abortion crisis as doctors refuse to perform surgery

From my perspective of course, this is a good thing:

Britain is facing an abortion crisis because an unprecedented number of doctors are refusing to be involved in carrying out the procedure. The exodus of doctors prepared to perform the task is a nationwide phenomenon that threatens to plunge the abortion service into chaos, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has warned.

More than 190,000 abortions are carried out each year in England and Wales and the NHS is already struggling to cope. Four out of five abortions are paid for by the NHS but almost half of those are carried out in the private sector, paid for by the NHS.

The reluctance of NHS staff, both doctors and nurses, to be involved has led to a doubling of abortions paid for by the NHS, which are carried out in the private or charitable sector, from 20 per cent of the total in 1997 to almost 40 per cent.

Distaste at performing terminations combined with ethical and religious convictions has led to a big increase in "conscientious objectors" who request exemption from the task, the RCOG says. A key factor is what specialists call "the dinner party test". Gynaecologists who specialise in fertility treatment creating babies for childless couples are almost universally revered - but no one boasts of being an abortionist.

As a result, after decades of campaigning, anti-abortion organisations may be on the point of achieving their objective by default. Repeated efforts to tighten the law have failed and public opinion remains firmly in support, but the growing number of doctors refusing to do the work means there may soon not be enough prepared to carry out terminations to meet demand. Read More.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Stem Cells

This is quite important. If this new procedure works and if it can work on other diseases embryonic stem cells become a moot point.

Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that the progression of Type 1 diabetes can be halted — and possibly reversed — by a stem-cell transplant that preserves the body's diminishing ability to make insulin, according to a study published today.

The experimental therapy eliminated the need for insulin injections for months or even years in 14 of 15 patients recently diagnosed with the disease. One subject, a 30-year-old male, hasn't taken insulin since his stem-cell transplant more than three years ago, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

The study suggests a new avenue for treating the intractable disease, in which the immune system destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Without insulin, patients can't metabolize sugar and run the risk of developing nerve damage, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and blindness. Read More.

Violence against guardians an 'alarming trend'

This is what happens when children aren't raised in Church:

Many times the victims are bruised in a fight or shoved down stairs. Others are stabbed with scissors. Last November, one was beaten to death with a hammer.

And the suspects, in more than 1,800 cases documented in Harris County over a recent 2½-year period, were their children.

One longtime prosecutor in the juvenile courts said he was "floored by the numbers" after a survey found 1,831 young people had been charged with assaulting a parent or guardian. Another called it an "alarming, alarming trend." Read More.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Value of Critical Thinking

Excellent article on the conspiracy theories that are flying around today. A long read but well worth it. (in spite of a couple of naughty words)

Occam’s Razor is the idea that when confronted with competing theories that explain certain data equally well, the simplest one is usually correct. It’s called Occam’s Razor, and not Occam’s Hypothesis, or Occam’s Theorem, or Occam’s Bit of Useful Advice, because it is a razor – it cuts cleanly and with great efficiency.

And though it pains me to say so, this culture is in desperate need of a shave.


I want to forgo the niceties of the hot towel and go straight for the jugular on this one. My goal here is not to bust any of these four conspiracy theories; that has all been done much more effictively elsewhere. What I am trying to do here is to build a chain of evidence to show a progressively deteriorating epidemic of world-wide insanity, of truly diseased thinking -- not just a misunderstanding or difference of opinion but real, diagnosable mental illness.

I want to get to that disease in a minute -- and the cause of it too – but first let’s examine what some people claim to believe in and the mountains of sand one has to carry in order to bury one’s head so deep. Read the rest.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jesus tomb film scholars backtrack

Why am I not surprised. And after all the hoopla.

Several prominent scholars who were interviewed in a bitterly contested documentary that suggests that Jesus and his family members were buried in a nondescript ancient Jerusalem burial cave have now revised their conclusions, including the statistician who claimed that the odds were 600:1 in favor of the tomb being the family burial cave of Jesus of Nazareth, a new study on the fallout from the popular documentary shows. Read More.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dad Wants Insurance Company to Foot the Bill for Daughter's Wayward Behavior

Talk about tolerating a child's bad behavior:

Daddies, it seems, can forgive their little girls for just about anything — especially when there's an insurance company to fall back on.
That seems to be the case of a Marietta, Ga., father who not only was willing to forgive his then 19-year-old daughter for leading police on a high-speed chase while she was high on drugs, but also figured she wasn't responsible when cops were forced to smash in the car's windows to make an arrest.
That was in 2003, but now Michael Natbony wants someone to compensate him for repairs to his car — and, of course, it's not going to be his daughter, Jennifer.
Natbony wants his insurance company to foot the $12,612 repair to his Lexus SUV, according to a lawsuit filed by his attorney Robert S. Windholz. A trial in Fulton County State Court is tentatively scheduled for next week.
Read More.

Florida 'Church for Men' Features Rock Band, One-Hour In-and-Out Guarantee

This is interesting. Does make some sense, though it probably goes a wee bit farther than I would:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — No hymnals. No pews. No steeple. No stained glass windows. And no women.
This ain't your grandma's church.
Organizers of the Church For Men say that guys are "bored stiff" in many churches today.
The Church For Men meets one Saturday evening a month, drawing about 70 guys dressed in everything but straight-laced shirts and neckties. The service features a rock band, a shot clock to time the preacher's message and a one-hour in-and-out guarantee.
The church is part of a national movement to reverse what many Christian pastors and ministers are calling a troubling trend.
Studies show that men are less likely than women to show up on Sunday mornings, and the reaction has been an emerging testosterone theology of sorts. Churches nationwide are now reaching out to men.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Terror group's threat raises Dalai Lama alert

Islam: It's not just Christian's they don't like.

SECURITY surrounding the Dalai Lama has been tightened after reports of an attempt by the al-Qa'ida-linked terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Toiba to assassinate the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. Read More.

Collins: Why this scientist believes in God

Very interesting:

Editor's note: Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., is the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. His most recent book is "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief."

I am a scientist and a believer, and I find no conflict between those world views.
As the director of the Human Genome Project, I have led a consortium of scientists to read out the 3.1 billion letters of the human genome, our own DNA instruction book. As a believer, I see DNA, the information molecule of all living things, as God's language, and the elegance and complexity of our own bodies and the rest of nature as a reflection of God's plan.

I did not always embrace these perspectives. As a graduate student in physical chemistry in the 1970s, I was an atheist, finding no reason to postulate the existence of any truths outside of mathematics, physics and chemistry. But then I went to medical school, and encountered life and death issues at the bedsides of my patients. Challenged by one of those patients, who asked "What do you believe, doctor?", I began searching for answers.

I had to admit that the science I loved so much was powerless to answer questions such as "What is the meaning of life?" "Why am I here?" "Why does mathematics work, anyway?" "If the universe had a beginning, who created it?" "Why are the physical constants in the universe so finely tuned to allow the possibility of complex life forms?" "Why do humans have a moral sense?" "What happens after we die?"

I had always assumed that faith was based on purely emotional and irrational arguments, and was astounded to discover, initially in the writings of the Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis and subsequently from many other sources, that one could build a very strong case for the plausibility of the existence of God on purely rational grounds. My earlier atheist's assertion that "I know there is no God" emerged as the least defensible. As the British writer G.K. Chesterton famously remarked, "Atheism is the most daring of all dogmas, for it is the assertion of a universal negative." Read More.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The God Debate

A long but good read:

On a cloudy California day, the atheist Sam Harris sat down with the Christian pastor Rick Warren to hash out Life's Biggest Question—Is God real? Read More.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Man Jailed for Having Deadly TB

This is going to be a major issue with the rise of drug resistant strains of viruses. What to do and how to treat people? This is going to be the ethical dilemma faced in the near future.

Behind the county hospital's tall cinderblock walls, a 27-year-old tuberculosis patient sits in a jail cell equipped with a ventilation system that keeps germs from escaping.
Robert Daniels has been locked up indefinitely, perhaps for the rest of his life, since last July. But he has not been charged with a crime. Instead, he suffers from an extensively drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, or XDR-TB. It is considered virtually untreatable.

County health authorities obtained a court order to lock him up as a danger to the public because he failed to take precautions to avoid infecting others. Specifically, he said he did not heed doctors' instructions to wear a mask in public.

"I'm being treated worse than an inmate," Daniels said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press last month. "I'm all alone. Four walls. Even the door to my room has been locked. I haven't seen my reflection in months."

Though Daniels' confinement is extremely rare, health experts say it is a situation that U.S. public health officials may have to confront more and more because of the spread of drug-resistant TB and the emergence of diseases such as SARS and avian flu in this increasingly interconnected world. Read More.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Reporter's Diary Adds New Clue in 70-Year-Old Amelia Earhart Mystery

I still find this case interesting:

It's the coldest of cold cases, and yet it keeps warming to life. Seventy years after Amelia Earhart disappeared, clues are still turning up.

Long-dismissed notes taken of a shortwave distress call beginning, "This is Amelia Earhart ...," are getting another look.

The previously unknown diary of an Associated Press reporter reveals a new perspective.
A team that has already found aircraft parts and pieces of a woman's shoe on a remote South Pacific atoll hopes to return there this year to search for more evidence, maybe even DNA.
If what's known now had been conveyed to searchers then, might Earhart and her navigator have been found alive? It's one of a thousand questions that keep the case from being declared dead, as Earhart herself was a year and a half after she vanished.
Read More.

Thar she blows!


Residents of Tainan learned a lesson in whale biology after the decomposing remains of a 60-ton sperm whale exploded on a busy street, showering nearby cars and shops with blood and organs and stopping traffic for hours. Link.