Bad science journalism is almost as bad as bad science, perhaps worse in some ways, insofar as it may popularize error where there had been none before. Carping about bad science blogging, on the other hand, should probably be beneath me, at least most of the time, because hey, at least there’s folks trying, right? Isn’t this just another case of XKCD’s “someone is wrong on the Internet?”
Well, here’s two examples. I’ll let the critical reader decided for themselves whether or not they serve to engender better critical reading more generally speaking. Continue reading →
(At the sound of wolves howling) – “Children of the night: what music they make!” – Dracula (in Tod Browning’s Dracula, 1931)
Dracula, Lugosi style (image courtesy Wikimedia)
Several recent news items from reliable sources have explored the research of scientists into the benefits of blood transfusions from young persons to old ones. If you are like me and find this at its best macabre, at its worst Mengelean, then the following is, as a writer and TV host used to say, “submitted for your approval….”
A new company called Ambrosia is willing to offer customers trial participants a series of blood transfusions from 16-25 year old donors. Recipients must be older than 35 to qualify for the deal trial. The purpose of these transfusions is to combat aging, particularly by improving brain function and muscle strength.
If you followed either of the links for the clinical trials, you’ve noticed that there are a ethical issues galore related to doing this kind of research and these kind of clinical trials, no matter how noble the aims might be. One of the issues causing real concern in the scientific community is that those who wish to participate in the trials are being charged $8,000. Yep. $8,000. Continue reading →
White man ISO white people to explain something to me
I have yet to take a strong stand on this whole #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter and #enoughwiththehashtagsmatter issue, and I’m fairly certain it’s a privilege thing that I, as a cisgendered white hetero man in farm country, have this luxury. I can’t help that. Continue reading →
No red, white, and blue adorn my flagpole. No patriotic bunting arches over my front door. No fireworks await their flaming demise. I no longer enjoy the nation’s formal parting from Great Britain (which was on July 2, anyway).
I suppose, at one time, July Fourth carried great meaning to all Americans. After all, because of the acts of the Continental Congress and subsequent versions of it, I can (and do) criticize my government without fear or favor. I can own a weapon. My home and person cannot be searched or seized without cause. I am not obligated to incriminate myself. I can practice the religion of my choice — or decide not to — without government coercion. I can peaceably assemble with others to protest almost any damn thing I want to. I can vote to select who will govern me. And Congress cannot prevent me from owning a press in which I tell others what I see and what I know and what I feel.
I love my country because of the ideals inherent in the Constitution and especially in the Bill of Rights.
I have some advice for you: if you’re going to get sick, don’t feel the need to be innovative about it.
Nothing good comes of winning at Stump the Doctor. No, come down with something run of the mill, something ho-hum, something boringly common. Or be rich. One or the other.
Back in May I wrote about my evolving issues with spinocerebellar ataxia, a rare brain malady that affects your speech and movement. Short version: it sucks. No treatment, no cure, no hope for one. If you recall, the docs wanted me to take a DNA test to confirm the specific type I have (they suspect it’s SCA-6, if it matters), but my co-pay on the test was going to be $7,000. So we’re just going to have to go on suspecting, I guess. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago in a random historic-site parking lot in far-flung western Colorado I met a 60-something woman from Atlanta.
“You’re traveling alone? Well good for you. I always wanted to do that but I just don’t have the courage. Some day I will. You’ve never had any problems?”
This is a common question when people see me alone. A few variables in wording, some more direct language about scary people and places to avoid, but the sentiment is the same.
I’ve worked alone in many remote places over the years. I have occasionally stepped out of sight when I felt unsure about what was coming my way. I’m more often worried about destroying an axle on my pickup, not finding my way out of a random maze of canyons, or falling off a cliff than about other people.
I just had a chance to read this op/ed from last year’s NYT: What makes a woman? The subject is still timely, especially thanks to hijinks like those coming out of North Carolina’s statehouse. And I’ve riffed on it before, if with more vitriol. I was a meaner person back then. Now I can just rest on the laurels of my cis-gendered white male privilege, look at this modern debate and all those hoity-toity post-modern nonsensilists and be snide. It’s an important debate, exactly because it’s in the courts and involves human safety, but dammit people, bring your A-game. Continue reading →
Spinocerebellar ataxia sucks the joy out of another day…
As I have mentioned before, I have a degenerative brain condition. It’s called spinocerebellar ataxia, and is essentially an atrophying of the portion of the brain that coordinates and regulates muscular activity. If you read the details at NIH you’ll probably understand pretty quickly just how nasty it really is. It has taken away a lot of what I love in life and is, for now, uncurable. For the most part, there is also no treatment for the symptoms.
My doctors at the University of Colorado Health Center are some of the best in the business, and we have had frank conversations about what this disease means for me. Continue reading →
Tennis star’s positive doping test comes as a real shock.
I guess I kinda sorta feel bad for Maria Sharapova. She has been a pleasure to watch on the court for a number of years now—eleven, I think—ever since first showing up and taking Wimbledon at age 17. Since then, she’s had injuries, as tall athletes tend to, that have sidelined her from time to time—and in the past couple of years she’s been completely stymied by Serena Williams. Still, she’s played consistently high level tennis for most of her career, and won her share, almost, of grand slams.
It’s always hard to watch these damned things, when someone who loves something so completely and passionately has to walk away. But years of concussions took their toll, and finally WWE superstar Daniel Bryan has been forced to hang up his boots. He was a fantastic talent and he will be missed.
Sadly, given all that we are learning these days about CTE, I can’t help but fear for his future. Continue reading →
It’s been in mostly ignored crisis for a very long time, but today you’re likely to hear presidential candidates talking about it. From a technical aspect, some of the reporting on the waterborne lead contamination is good while some of it is lacking and some of it is plainly misrepresentative of the actual issue. What’s not being discussed in any depth – if at all – is the true, long-term costs that Michigan’s governor, Flint’s emergency manager, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s leadership imposed on Flint and the state of Michigan. Continue reading →
Noted sociopath and PharmaDoucheBro Shkreli spent 2015 redefining what it means to be an asshole, upsets GOP presidential frontrunner Trump.
You’ve all known an asshole — a rude, arrogant, contemptuous person. Assholes are irritating. Assholes are the bad breath of personalities. A reasonable person’s reaction to the presence of an asshole is Get the fuck away from me, asshole.
On Monday night, Cruz’s colleagues ignored his attempt to disrupt Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to fund the government without attacking Planned Parenthood. In an unusual rebuke, even fellow Republicans denied him a “sufficient second” that would have allowed him a roll call vote.
Then, his Republican colleagues loudly bellowed “no” when Cruz sought a voice vote, a second repudiation that showed how little support Cruz has: Just one other GOP senator — Utah’s Mike Lee — joined with Cruz as he was overruled by McConnell and his deputies.
For a legal perspective, wouldn’t said person necessarily be “incapacitated” for all practical intents and purposes, thus not competent?
Aside from all the other considerations mentioned in the article, upon becoming aware that she is carrying a legally incompetent person, would the woman have to go to court to petition for guardianship? Continue reading →
Each year, over a half million people run marathons and another half million do triathlons of various lengths. Hundreds of thousands more run mini-marathons or bike centuries (100 miles in a day.) We’re not talking about the neighborhood July 4th 5K or cycling down the trail at the park, we’re talking about events that take from two to seventeen hours to complete, where the risk of injury is significant, and that require hundreds of hours of preparation.
And the question, of course, is “why?”
In the spirit of full disclosure, let me confess that I’m one of those people. Continue reading →
There’s much to like about Bernie Sanders, but can he really help us kick the war habit?
Occupy Democrats and US Uncut have a handy macro going around that highlights Bernie’s 11 point economic agenda. It’s big. It’s important. It’s to be lauded. And if we’re not to have Bernie, it’s to be emulated. But we’ve also seen the devastating effect war has had on our economy, to say nothing of the lives lost to our wayward military adventurism. Below you’ll find my own reasons for supporting this 11-point economic plan as well as some serious consideration of his missing 12th point. Continue reading →