Thursday, March 31, 2005

Medicinal Marijuana on Trial

The NY Times reports:
Medical marijuana is now legal in 11 states, and bills to legalize it are pending in at least 7 more. The drug is also at the heart of a case being considered by the United States Supreme Court.

Yet there remains much confusion over whether marijuana in fact has any significant medical effect.

"People subjectively report benefits," said Dr. Joseph I. Sirven, an epilepsy specialist and associate professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Scottsdale, Ariz. "There's a whole Internet literature suggesting what a wonderful thing it is. But the reality is, we don't know."

In an editorial last year in the journal Neurology, Dr. Sirven pointed out that the best studies of marijuana's effects on humans have so far shown little objective evidence of benefit in patients with epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. And a growing body of research indicates that, at least in teenagers, heavy marijuana use over a period of years significantly increases the risk of developing psychosis and schizophrenia.
Here is a libertarian rebuttal, but the medical benefits are indeed dubious. Most of the people who want medical marijuana just want to get stoned.

I was recently with a woman who had the urge to smoke marijuana. "You don't smoke pot, do you?", she said. I said that I don't. She continued, "That's what I suspected. I can usually tell when people don't smoke pot."

My community is so overrun with pot-heads that I stick out if I don't smoke it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Hundreds of sharks invade Florida

John sends this story about undreds of sharks invading Florida. No, it does not relate to the Terri Schiavo case.

Illegal aliens invade with stinky underwater robots

Engadget reports:
Wired has the story of how four students from Carl Hayden Community High School in Phoenix, Arizona, beat some of the best schools in the country, including MIT, to win the national underwater robot championship. The students, who are all undocumented Mexican immigrants, built their robot on the cheap in just three days, using PVC pipe, off-the-shelf electronics and a few tampons. Called “Stinky”, the bot can record sonar pings and retrieve objects 50 feet below the water’s surface. In addition to the top prize, the bot also ended up winning the design and technical writing awards.
This sounds like a set-up for April Fools or wetback jokes. Illegal aliens from Mexico building stinky underwater robots?! Why can't some of this ingenuity be applied towards building a better society in Mexico?

Lawmaker Wants Teachers In Hawaii Weighed For Obesity

Here is more anti-fat news:
HONOLULU -- A state lawmaker has suggested Hawaii's public schoolteachers be forced to weigh in as part of the fight against obesity in students, KITV in Honolulu reported.

State Rep. Rida Cabanilla introduced a resolution in the house requesting that the Board of Education establish an obesity database among public schoolteachers.

"You cannot keep a kid to a certain standard that you yourself is not willing to keep," Cabanilla said.
My local school would have to replace a bunch of teachers.

There will be new Sesame Street propaganda:
This season, Sesame Street is all about "Healthy Habits for Life." The new initiative will find each episode of the 36th season dealing with children's health issues. Powerful partners in the program include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PBS, The Parenting Group, YMCA of USA, the Ad Council and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Nutrition, activity, and size acceptance are three key focuses.
So I guess the TV show will both tell the kids not to get fat, and also tell them that it is perfectly okay to be fat.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Red Light Cameras Are Dangerous

This Techdirt article says:
How many studies showing that red light cameras increase accidents does it take? Yet another study, this one from Ontario, Canada, represents the fourth major report concluding that there's an increase, not decrease in accidents where the technology is used. The control group in this study outperformed the camera intersections in every single category. Overall, fatal and injury rear-end collisions jumped 5%. In other words, red light cameras can kill. It's about time that the cameras are recognized for what they are -- a money-making scam.
People always claim to be surprised when some safety measure turns out to cause more accidents than it saves. They refuse to consider adverse ramifications of some do-gooder measure.

There is also a serious safety debate about where car drivers should hold their hands on the steering wheel. Conventional wisdom has always been that the 10 and 2 o'clock positions are best. Now some people recommend the 8-and-4 technique because they say that you'll be safer in case the airbag inflates. Another view is that it is best to just keep one hand on the wheel.

Sterilizing fat people

This article
Beginning last November, the city of San Francisco began a program whereupon clinically obese men between the ages of 18 and 55 could undergo a procedure whereupon approximately 1/2 an inch is removed from each vas and the ends are sealed - commonly referred to as a vasectomy - completely free of charge. The overwhelming turnout led the State of California to follow suit, and now California is the first state in the Union to offer state-funded vasectomies to men who have been diagnosed as obese.
News to me. I would have expected more controversy.

Update: The story is a hoax. The other silly fat stories about schoolteachers and Sesame Street appear to be valid.

Lack of third world shrinks

This NY Times essay reports:
One thing is clear. Even before strife ripped these societies apart, many of them had pitiful mental health systems. According to the W.H.O., most developing countries have fewer than 1 psychiatrist per 100,000 people; in rural areas, the gap is even larger. The entire country of Rwanda has only one psychiatrist. (The United States has about 14 psychiatrists per every 100,000 people; England has about 4 per 100,000.)
If only we could export our shrinks to Rwanda, maybe everybody would be better off.

The author has also coauthored a new book, One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance, that argues that the pervasiveness of therapeutic thinking and practice in American life provides not healing catharsis but enervating psychic drag and evasion of responsibility.

Lawyers may not have souls

Rush Limbaugh just said:
He may not even have a soul. He's a lawyer!
He was talking about the Terri Schiavo case.

Monday, March 28, 2005

First, they came for the dogs

Here is news from Germany:
They're ready to employ high-tech methods to crack down on a public plague -- doggy doo.

The advisory council for a Dresden city district received resounding support for a proposal to take saliva samples from all local dogs.

Modern DNA analysis techniques would then be used to locate the dogs responsible for the offending piles, so that their owners can be punished for neglecting to poop and scoop.
Don't punish the owners -- just shoot the dogs.

The food pyramid and science

This op-ed (also here) says:

They're going to change our nutritional guidelines again -- flip-flop the pyramid, or make it a wheel, or a ...

Well, I have an idea for the new, improved icon. Make it the shape of a cookie jar or a Starbucks mug, but don't just tell me what I must eat or what I can't swallow if I want to live to be 100. Instead, also tell me how much of the really good stuff I can chow down without seriously endangering my health.

And I do mean seriously. I know red wine is on the OK list, and that is good news because it happens to be my vino of choice. But how many margaritas before I'm on the endangered species list? ...
She is trying to be funny, but she has a good point. Most nutritional advice is very unscientific because it doesn't give limits and consequences. Nutritionists often say that a candy bar is bad food because it has "empty calories". In fact, there is hardly any scientific evidence that such food is bad in any way if it is part of a balanced diet.

I ate lunch with a friend yesterday, and he badmouthed one kind of food because it has a lot of protein, and then another kind of food because it was fatty, and finally a third kind of food because it has carbohydrates! What else is there? The ideal diet has fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and no food can possibly be bad just because it is fatty or surgary.

Another friend was shocked that a school was serving Burger King whoppers for lunch. Whoppers are actually quite nutritious and beneficial. I don't know any scientific evidence that any other food is better.

There is a small percentage of the population (maybe 5%) that has adverse health consequences from eating cholesterol, and other small percentages that are advised to avoid salt or sugar or other common foods. But for most people, these foods are fine.

A scientific food pyramid would not just list ideal foods. It would describe a range of foods that can be eaten while still maintaining optimal health, even if that range includes candy bars, vodka, donuts, etc.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Would stem cells save Shiavo?

A few months ago, Democrats and others were promoting stem cell research as a sure source of miracle cures for various victims of brain and spinal cord damage. I think that it is funny how all those people are so quiet about Terri Shiavo. Nobody wants to keep her alive long enough to get a cloned fetal tissue treatment.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Majority of shootings use guns

Here is the predictable gun control rant:
The shooting at Red Lake High School is the latest mass murder-suicide to occur in the United States and follows, by less than two weeks, a murder- suicide at a Wisconsin hotel that resulted in eight dead. These shootings, like the vast majority of such incidents, were perpetrated with a gun.
Yes, most of these shootings use guns!

The Minnesota student used police-issued guns that he stole from his grandfather. It happened on an indian reservation. The school security guard was unarmed. Exactly how would additional gun control laws have helped?

Worst jobs in history

This site claims to have the worst jobs in history.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Princeton wants kids with green hair

John sends this rant against the feminist, leftist, divorced, atheist Princeton Univ. president:
Despite a Prince poll taken shortly before the 2004 election that showed 62% of students supported Kerry versus 24% for Bush, Tilghman believes that Princeton needs more students with (in her words) “green hair.”
She makes the Clinton Democrat Harvard president seem like a clear-thinking right-winger.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Heteronormative scandal at Harvard

Cathy Young writes:
Here's a sample of what Pinkett Smith said, as recounted by The Harvard Crimson:

''Women, you can have it all -- a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career. We are a new generation of women. We got to set a new standard of rules around here. To my men, open your mind, open your eyes to new ideas. Be open."

On March 2, The Harvard Crimson reported that some members of the Harvard Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters Alliance had been offended by the speech and were calling for an apology from the foundation. ...

''Some of the content was extremely heteronormative, and made BGLTSA members feel uncomfortable."
It is a sad day when someone has to apologize for being heteronormative.

Males have better spatial cognition

Sci. American says:
The researchers had the monkeys track the location of food hidden under 18 identical covers on a tray and found that young adult male monkeys performed the best at the task.
Resarchers are trying to close the gender gap in rhesus monkeys.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Mistake by female guard

The big strong Atlanta judge-killer was able to steal his gun from a careless female guard, and now this picture shows him being escorted to jail by a female cop!

The whole story is strange. I am still waiting for an explanation as to why he got a hung jury in his first trial.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Fred Reed quotes

Here are some gems from Fred Reed:
Without men, civilization would last until the oil needed changing.

The potty problem has reared its genderishly inequitable head for years in the mascara military. You just get in trouble for talking about it. Consider urinals and the Army. They were never a problem, because men regard the entire earth as a urinal in waiting. The side of the road, the middle of the road, a tree, the ocean -- they don't discriminate. The way feminists see oppression everywhere, men see urinals. It's a design feature.
Check out his essays. Some of them are excellent. Funny and insightful.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Blank Slate

Harvard prof. Steven Pinker discusses scientific evidence of sex differences, and says:
At some point in the history of the modern women's movement, the belief that men and women are psychologically indistinguishable became sacred. The reasons are understandable: Women really had been held back by bogus claims of essential differences. Now anyone who so much as raises the question of innate sex differences is seen as "not getting it" when it comes to equality between the sexes. The tragedy is that this mentality of taboo needlessly puts a laudable cause on a collision course with the findings of science and the spirit of free inquiry.
He wrote a thick book on The Blank Slate, even though much of it should be obvious to anyone but a feminist or a politically correct liberal. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that the mind is not a blank slate at birth.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Women's movement and crime

The San Jose paper has this letter:
DA clarifies comments on women and crime

In a discussion of jail statistics at a county board subcommittee meeting, I noted the increased ratio of women to men in jail parallels what is seen in other jurisdictions, and this also parallels the successes of the women's movement (Internal Affairs, Feb. 27).

I should have emphasized at the same time that the women's movement is responsible for substantially reducing our overall crime rate and that females still constitute a relatively small percentage of inmates.

George Kennedy
Santa Clara County District Attorney
San Jose
No doubt some feminists in his office made him write this letter, but how has the women's movement affected our overall crime rate?

Two ways come to mind. Feminism has dramatically increased the divorce rate, as women were encouraged to walk out of marriages and raise children without fathers. Those children frequently grow up to be criminals.

On the other hand, feminism has also radically increased the abortion rate, and there are studies showing a resulting decline in the crime rate. Apparently the women who get abortions are less likely to be good mothers, and many of those kids would have grown up to be criminals.

It is not obvious to me which effect is greater, or whether there are other significant effects as well. What did the DA mean?

Playground insults banned

Here is news from London teachers:
Sexist insults are to be banned from the playground.

Teachers are warned today that words such as "slag" and "slut" lead to boys feeling superior to girls and make domestic violence seem more acceptable.

The NUT lists unacceptable insults including "lezzie", "pro" and "your mum's a whore". ...

Boys should be challenged if they are heard directing such terms at girls. It is considered equally unacceptable for girls to aim such insults at one another. Teachers' leaders said such language is common in secondary schools and even among older children at primaries.

While some schools already take a strict line on sexist name-calling, others are more lenient.
The acronym NUT stands for the National Union of Teachers.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Declaration forbids happy women

Thanks to Michael Medved for pointing out this
Samantha Sharac column in a Mass. college paper:
Can Virginia Woolf's proclamation, "as a woman I have no country" apply in our contemporary American society? ...

The "rationale" of biological determinism is also responsible for the historic subordination of women. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" among women are impossible in the United States. The Declaration of Independence forbids it as well as many advocates who rely on biological determinism as the correct guide path of women and men. ...

Following this logic, why aren't there more public outcries for men to work primarily as fathers? If men are biologically equipped to help create a life, then why are the majority of men working outside of the home? ...

The common view that women are more emotional and men are more rational has not been substantiated.
It is safe to say that most men are more rational than this columnist.