Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wassup?

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Nope, no more.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Jane, You Ignorant Slut.


Sarah actually. Look, even Jesus thinks your an idiot, and science has done him very few favors. I hate just stealing juicy material from PZ but he has like 10,000 loyal atheist servants searching the intertubez day and night to dig this shit up and I have only me. Palin has made some comments that are driving me crazy. It's really nothing new, but watching the video and seeing her facial expressions somehow makes me hate her more.

I had a recent discussion with a coworker and came to the conclusion that almost the entire reason that I've become associated with the left is that the fuckwits on the right have made it their business to misinterpret, misunderstand, misuse, and misrepresent science. Palin and McCain ridicule fruitfly research, population genetics, and the infamous "overhead projector" at every opportunity. I'm starting to believe that they really are this stupid. Many if not most genetic discoveries are made because we fund studies on fruit flies. Grizzly bear population studies are directly related to other mammal populations (like umm, humans), and I've already responded to the idiotic remarks about the projector. See the video below the fold or go check it out at Pharyngula. Oh, and unless you're Mitch, sorry about the last post.

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Suckers.


Especially you Mitch. I know, this is horribly immature but I take stupid office games very seriously. If you'd like to get me back for wasting your time, please go here.

If you have no idea what's going on please see the Wikipedia entry for Rickrolling.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

10 Myths About Autism.

ABC might be my new favorite network. Hmm, I don't think I had an old favorite network. Either way, ABC wins today. It was kind of them to hold off their airing of the "On Call Autism" series until after I finished reading Dr. Offit's book but really guys, you didn't have to. I'm sure it will be a bit over dramatized but the "10 Myths About Autism" article seems to be right on track. They dive right into the issues surrounding causes, such as vaccinations and "refrigerator mothers." They also point out that autism can not be cured. More below the fold.

It's very refreshing to see a network tackling this issue instead of publicizing the controversy. A five minute debate between a CDC scientist and Dr. Jay Gordon or Jenny McCarthy is really not fair to the viewer. It gives the unfair impression that the two are equally qualified to answer questions about the subject. Dr. Gordon a fringe antivaccination doctor and Jenny is, well, Jenny. My hopes are that this series will talk to real researchers that have actually conducted the epidemiological studies necessary to determine the role of vaccines and some folks that can debunk the useless and dangerous medical practices that have been forced on undeserving children.

The five part series starts November 3rd and continues through the 7th. I'll be watching as much of it as I can. Hopefully some of the parents out there with questions about autism and doubts about Jenny McCarthy will be paying attention too. If you have no doubts about Jenny, you'll just be screaming "Conspiracy!" anyway, so don't bother. It should be good stuff.

OK, lunch is over. Gotta go.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Introducing: Pandora

If you haven't heard of Pandora Radio, you've got to check it out. It's supersweet. It's also very simple. Just go to the website, set up an account, enter the name of a band you like, listen to what comes up and rate it. Eventually you'll have your very own perfect radio stations catered to your own likes/dislikes. I've discovered all kinds of music that I hadn't heard of. If you want to see what I've been listening to, scroll to the bottom of this page to "Pandora's box" and click on Bobo's Tunes.

Pandora rules.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

You Don't Have to Buy it for Me Now.


I read Paul Offit's, "Autism's False Prophets" over the weekend. Reading is something that's very manageable while at the in-laws house. Which is great, because I've really been wanting to read this book. Here's my review:

I knew that the so-called "vaccine debate" was very heated and very polarizing. I didn't realize quite how bad the situation was until lately. Just check out the Amazon reviews if you need proof. So far, everyone rated it either a 5 or a 1. I've been reading the Science-Based Medicine Blog lately and noticed that some of the anti vaccination comments were really off the wall. I also stumbled upon this book there. I've taken an interest in this particular subject, not because of any connection with autistic children (the closest association I can claim is that a student of my school was autistic and I can remember his name) but because it seems to be just one more example of science not getting to the public. I'm finding myself more and more interested in this subject and how exactly we can approach a fix. So, I read the book.

It's a great book. Dr. Offit is articulate, well mannered, and a wonderful voice of reason in a very dangerous debate that shouldn't even be taking place. The book explores the background of the vaccine debate from the first questions about MMR, to Thimerosal, to quack therapies and why we should all pay attention. Because of my interest in communicating science to the general public, I found his discussions of the inability of scientists and their data to trump parents and their emotionally charged accusations the most interesting, if a bit disheartening. This is the real problem in this battle. The science is very clear. The science says, "Autism is NOT caused by vaccination!" The problem, is that only scientists care about the science. How can you compete with Jenny McCarthy going on Oprah and discussing her very personal situation with her own child by pulling out a statistical analysis? It doesn't matter that we're right. It's very much like the (non-existent) evolution debate or climate change denialism. We don't win those arguments with science. Science is only one part of changing the minds of the populace. The real question is, "How do we get the public on our side?" It took Al Gore to get people to accept climate change. Al gore. What the fuck does Al Gore have to do with climatology? Nothing. Anyway, that's where the book falls short. It doesn't address the real problem. Not that it could. I don't know how we convince people to go to the proper authority (CDC) for information instead of the popular authority (Jenny McCarthy).

I don't think the book will change the minds of any parents that are already anti-vaccine. If someone is in that boat, they're very likely beyond the point of reason. I do hope it will help wake up the people that have been sitting on the sidelines, watching this debacle unfold. The world needs to stand up to people like Jenny McCarthy, Robert F. Kennedy, and John Kerry. The world needs to say, "Hey dipshit! YOU ARE NOT A SCIENTIST! YOU CAN'T EVEN SPELL EPIDEMIOLOGY! STOP PRETENDING TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!" I'm a biologist and I don't pretend to know the answers about autism and vaccines. I just know who to listen to. I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh about climate change. Or to Jerry Falwell about the science behind evolution. I do know that I WILL listen to the very under-funded, under-paid, under-appreciated, epidemiologists at the CDC as far as the autism-vaccine controversy is concerned.

In closing, if you're interested in further (and much better) reviews of this book, go here. If you're interested in the autism-vaccine debate and it's history, read the book. It's well worth your time. The Family Guy will wait (besides, you can watch it online with no commercials later).


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Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Used To Like John McCain.

This election has really changed that. Last night's debate didn't help either. I'm upset at the level of dishonesty in his campaign and his apparent lack of interest in science. Americans are fast falling behind in math and science and John McCain has yet again chosen to ridicule Barack Obama for supporting science education with earmarks. Come on, if you want to pick on earmarks, find a better target. Hopefully this will result in some press for the Adler Planetarium and they'll get some much needed donations to help pay for the projector that was NEVER FUNDED. Hmm, forgot to mention that didn't you John? The claims about ACORN and voter fraud are equally disgusting. This is not voter fraud. This is a case of fraud against ACORN. If you want details go here.

Look up all the juicy details on the debate at fact check, the only source I trust.

Sorry John. We can't be friends anymore.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

The Fall of McCarthyism!


No, not that McCarthyism, this McCarthyism. That picture is scary. I think she wants to eat my liver with some Vicia faba and a nice homeopathic wine (Klarbrunn perhaps?). I'm not sure if that's funny but will let it ride. The Scienceblogs Book Club is discussing a new book: Autisms False Prophets, by Paul Offit. There's also a great review here. I haven't read it but it's on my list. Unfortunately, it's a long list and I have precious little time to read. However, if you have questions regarding autism and would like to know what the medical community really thinks about the claims being made by Jenny McCarthy and the like, it may be worth your time.

More reading about the vaccine controversy is available here. As always, consider your source.

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The Right to Die.


Lately PZ has been pissing me off with his uncritical acceptance of any anti-McCain/Palin propaganda (see here and here) so I haven't been reading Pharyngula as regularly. Today he seems a little more back on track with this post linking to excellent article by Dan Savage. He just lost his mother. Because of the christian dogma tied into our current legal system, she was forced to choose between three painful deaths. She had no other options.

I'm often asked why I have a problem with religion. This is a prime example. I won't leave religion alone because it won't leave me alone. If the catholic church is so against physician assisted suicide then DON'T DO IT! Leave the rest of us alone and allow us to die in the way that we choose. Initiative 1000 would give Washington State residents a choice. It doesn't require anyone to take part. It doesn't have any loop holes that would allow someone else to choose for you. It is simply allowing the freedom to choose, in what is supposed to be a free country.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Let's Keep Pork on the Table...for now.


I watched the presidential debate the other night. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't very impressed by either side. If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm generally biased toward the democrats. I support those that are most aligned with reason and seem to use facts to back up their decisions the most. This by no stretch of the imagination means that I think the democrats always use reason as a basis for decisions, just more often than republicans. More below the fold.

As I said, I really wasn't that impressed by either side. However, I was especially unimpressed with one key point made by John McCain. This involved his favorite soapbox item, pork. Now, I can only assume that numerous campaign strategists looked through the never ending list of pork supported by Barack Obama and narrowed it down to the most ridiculous, unreasonable, bullshit, left-wing, communist, pile of wasted tax payer's money they could find so that John would really knock him out with a zinger. That amazing waste of tax dollars was said to be a 3 million dollar overhead projector. This is not your 3rd grade teacher's overhead projector. No one will write all over this thing with dry erase markers. It's a state of the art Zeiss planetarium projector for the Adler Planetarium. They host over 400,000 students and guests every year. They educate young children about science in America! What a complete waste of money. Check it out here.

Whoa, did you really think you could hide that one Obama? No, no he did not. In fact, it's listed on his website among all of the other budget requests he's made for FY08 here.

After looking at that list, I'm really not sure how opposed to pork I am. I see a lot of very worthwhile projects on that list. Many of them are projects that I'd support in a stand alone bill or on a referendum. If we get rid of pork, how will these projects get funding? Will they be stand alone bills? I don't really see how that's possible. Will the money go to states and then be divied up? I don't have an answer to the "earmark problem" but for now, I'm willing to leave pork on the table.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

OMG UR Fat!

That's right, YOU! You are fat. Not that I really needed to say it. If you're an american and you're reading this, there is at least a 64% chance that I'm right. The other 36% of you probably think you are so I'm just supporting your negative self image. I think I'm allowed to say it too. I think that I, as a fat guy, can call you fat and get away with it. Either way, I just did. So get over it.

Now the question is, What are we going to do about it? There is a plethora of diet advice available from your doctor, in magazines, on the web, in your office, probably even in your own head. My advice is to try the latest, 3 minutes a day, high carb, low fat, high protein, Snickers and Pepsi, lot's of grapefruit juice, bowel cleansing, buy my product bullshit that's in the back of your current issue of the Enquirer. Or, just eat healthier and exercise. I can't help you figure out how to get yourself to actually exercise, but I did find some very simple, easy to follow advice for healthy eating. Are your ready for this?

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That's it? That's it. Dr. Harriet Hall, the skepdoc writes a review of "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" by Michael Pollan. Check out the review here. Then, go buy the book. Read the book. Wrap the used book in newspaper. Send me the book so I can read it too. It's a win-win for everyone.

There is more great eating advice in the review and I'm sure in the book as well. Check out one or both. And as soon as I figure out the trick to exercising regularly, I'll let you know. Until then, we're still fat, and we're still sitting here looking at a computer screen getting even fatter. Go do some push-ups! Now!


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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Abort Palin

This was going to be a post about the shift left. Specifically, abortion. But I just can't help myself. With the debate coming up, I just have to rant a bit about Palin. I felt a small morsel of sympathy at first when I saw the Saturday Night Live skits (here and here). To do my best to maintain my "fair and balanced" outlook on life, I took a gander over at the CBS website. You know, just to see what Katie Couric's interview really looked like. I'm used to SNL blowing these sorts of things out of proportion. And what did I find?

OMG me think me Hed Asplode!!!!! (Sorry, ERV has me using LOL Speak when I get excited while typing. I'm not sure if there's a name for the disorder or not.) Anyway, if you haven't watched or at least read the interview, please take the time. After watching this interview, I am truly embarrassed for John McCain. I felt like the dad of the kid winning the talent show sitting next to the dad who's kid had no business being there. I have serious disagreements with the guy but I can respect his opinions and I think he really has worked hard to be some sort of independent republican. I don't think he's an idiot. I don't think he's Bush's lapdog. I do, however, think that he has made the greatest mistake of his career in choosing Sarah Palin as a running mate. I won't even go into the religious aspect of this. Too many blogs have already hit that nail on the head.

But holy shit people! I have lots of friends and relatives with more foreign policy experience than her. Hell, I have more! I've at least been stationed overseas. She honestly feels that being the gov in Alaska has given her some sort of foreign relations experience. This is not just another SNL joke. Watch the real interview. A lot of people have been critical of Katie for "attacking" her with extremely difficult questions. I don't really think that "What news pubs do you read?" and "Do you support a mortgage freeze?" are difficult questions. In fact, I would bet that anyone reading this can come up with some sort of general answers to those questions. She didn't answer much of anything. I know that politicians never like to give black or white answers (largely because there are very few black or white issues) but her answers were downright ridiculous. She's obviously been cramming very hard for the big day, but I think she's destined to fail. Not because I believe in destiny. Just because I think that no amount of cramming is going to get her up to speed.

Remember, we may not just be talking about the little helper for the prez that dick cheney has been. John McCain could very possibly die in office and this lost little school girl could be in charge. Do you want her to be the voice of the United States? I'll watch on Thursday but if Palin's performance is anything like the Couric interview I'll simply be waiting for the end of the talent show so I can get up without making eye contact with this guy next to me and go congratulate my son. Not that I consider Obama my son. This analogy may be totally worthless. I'm on my fifth beer. I'm going to stop now.

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