This blog is over. I’ll be taking it down soon. My ambitions outstripped my skills. For a professional type blog, versus just a ‘what I’m up to’ blog, you really need rather good journalism skills. Both in writing and researching. And oh yeah it takes a huge time commitment. So I’m going to spend my time on actual work pursuits now. Bye-bye.
I been saying all of these things in my head during newscasts for the last several years. Thanks to lough try for articulating them so well.
Strange things are happening in British universities. This one is about an onslaught of UltraLeftism. Critiqued by an excellent feminist blogger.
I grew up in a household in which there were a lot of rules. Not just the usual ones – don’t fight, brush your teeth, do your homework. There were others: don’t nudge the furniture “off position.” Don’t touch the newspapers or remote control. Don’t unlock the back door. Don’t do anything that makes me feel unsafe. These rules were subject to change without notice. If you broke them, the consequences were severe. Tantrums, shouting, worse. Sometimes you’d end up barricading yourself in your room, wishing you’d just not bothered to move at all. It was unbearable. But then again, if someone is anxious and says they feel unsafe, what can you do? Especially if their anxiety is presented as unknowable and resistant to change. You have to do what they want, regardless of your own desires.
After all, how hard can it be not to touch a newspaper? Not…
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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “32 Flavors.”
I think it was 36. Strip mall at the bottom of the hill. BEST toy store! Expensive. So we had to get the cheaper toys and they were always disappointing. (Micro-Kiddle princess who later lost her hair in a Togl Blok and wading pool accident. And some psychedelic goo that you put on a tube and blew bubbles which then became tissue paper textured.) Yet I still remember it as the BEST toy store. I do not know how they had 36 flavors at the ice cream place. They must’ve filled it out with sherbet. I remember being disgusted by bubblegum ice cream. We went there after the Tooth Episode.
Baby teeth/milk teeth dissolve. The roots do, that’s how they come out. So what I remember as my very last tooth that fell out ever, only dissolved down one side. Leaving the rest of the route as a scraggly edged dagger stabbing into my gum. It bled. Undetected, all evening and just made my mouth taste weird. It bled that night all over my pillow. My mother, who in every other aspect of her mother activity was an abusive monster, looked in on me and discovered this bloody mess. I remember the hydrogen peroxide on the small pillow case of the crib pillow I still slept with foaming up and going hot. That was pretty cool. So was getting to eat ice cream, butter pecan, as we prepared to go to the emergency room in Charlevoix. The ice cream was supposed to slow the bleeding.
Charlevoix was usually for laundry, groceries, toy store, fishpond. In the middle of Charlevoix there’s a park. It runs alongside the docks where people’s cabin cruisers are tied up. You could walk up and down and look at the boats and their amusing names. In the park there was a big lumpy brick structure. Inside the walls were smooth and light blue. It was full of water and fish swimming around. This was northern Michigan so plain old ordinary trout. Possibly speckled. When I was a kid in the 60s and 70s showing fish to children was a near universal family entertainment activity. They weren’t even special fish. They were real small. There were some in a fountain on the campus at Purdue. I remember as a toddler being shown those fish. When you’re brought to the university again as a toddler you’re shown the fish again. And you respond: fishie! The trip to the emergency room was way less fun. The ER doctor pulled my tooth and stuffed it with gauze. I didn’t know what gauze was. So when my tongue accidentally wandered to it and felt it’s wet creepy texture I thought that was my tattered flesh. Ew. Even now it creeps me out. On the way out of Charlevoix we stopped at the 36 flavors. I didn’t get to have ice cream though. I got a fast food cup of cola with ice that I sucked on and tried to keep my tongue away from the creepy “gauze”.
What’so up with this 50 Shades of Grey crap? (Not to mention the repellent but also incompetently written Outlander.) I think this post hits the nail on the depressing head.
While much of the sex in Fifty Shades is as cruel and sadistic as in mainstream porn, it is expertly packaged for women who want a “fairy tale” ending. In male-targeted porn, the woman is interesting only for as long as the sex lasts. Once done with her, the man is onto the next, and the next, and the next. … She is disposable, interchangeable, and easily replaced. No happy ending here for women.
In Fifty Shades, however, the naïve, immature, bland Anastasia is, for some unfathomable reason, the most compelling woman our rich, sadistic, narcissistic hero has ever met, and he not only kisses her during sex (something you rarely see in Internet hardcore porn) but he doesn’t move on to the next conquest once he has had his wicked way with her. In fact, he actually marries her and confesses undying love. As one of the female fans…
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This is phenomenal. The last word on vaccines and the anti-fax movement. It explains everything and does it with cartoons. All anybody’s questions answered. Read it. Tweet it. Paste it.
In the spirit of this blog’s previous incarnation as Medical False Knowledge I want to talk about two dismaying stories on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The CBC got caught up in ‘pop medicine’ like a pant leg caught in a bicycle chain. The first was an episode of The Nature of Things on heart attacks. It did well on how the cholesterol hypothesis has died. (It has. The question is what comes next. I’ll probably have something about that in the future.) But the rest of the episode which had some jokey cartoon graphics (the heart attack cause “suspects” pictured as criminals in a lineup) proceeded to seek out a ‘single simple chemical’ cause of heart attacks. This startled me because I have an internal medicine textbook, Harrison’s, from 2004 that describes heart attacks is being caused by plaques. Plaques are hardened areas inside of arteries with hunks of stuff sticking to them. Plaques have anatomy. According to Harrison’s the stuff on the plaque breaks off and flows downstream blocking the artery. Or by the accumulated stuff of the plaque causing blood clots to form. Which break off and float downstream, etc. Anywhere your blood flow slows down too much clots start to form. But here’s the really creepy part, Harrison’s said that plaques are formed by cells from one layer of muscle tissue, your blood vessels are made of muscle tissue, migrating into the lining layer. The lining layer is really thin like, I don’t know, wet Kleenex. Whereas the muscle layer is made of you, know, muscle. So when these muscle cells go into the lining layer they make it all stiff. That’s the beginning of the plaque. They also I believe bugger up the surface and cause blood clots to start to form. There’s another process I know of involving cholesterol. Cholesterol is a chemical that does lots of vital things in the body. Including making steroid hormones. It gets inserted into the inside of these wet Kleenex type lining cells. And then a chemical comes along and takes it out again. We have no idea why. If the chemical doesn’t come along and take it out again the cell gets fatter, and starts to fill in the hollow part of the artery. That’s narrowing of an artery like people have bypass surgery for. None of this was in The Nature of Things show about how heart attacks happen. Though the show was being presented as the big new insights into heart attacks. But was pop medicine. Which is, among other things, all those stories on the news with the Headless Giant Tummy People or telling you What Not To Eat. The “medicine” in pop medicine stories is never about what real diseases are like. It’s about how to avoid some disease (usually heart disease) and by fiddling with what you eat. Sometimes “exercise” of some indeterminant sort is thrown in. Now we even have meta pop medicine stories about how the fiddling with what you eat stories disagree with each other! The point is this stuff is crap. No news outlet should do it. Including the CBC and certainly not on The Nature of Things.
The CBC show Marketplace, which is an often excellent consumer affairs show, had a pop medicine story too. They went after sodium again. THE new pop medicine bogeyman and one Marketplace already sullied itself with in May 2013. Both stories claimed that certain diseases and medical conditions are caused by excessive sodium intake. Now to be fair Health Canada actually puts out guidelines on how much sodium intake/eating per day is “too much”. I have no idea how they would get a number like that. Our bodies turf out all the sodium we don’t need. It’s one of the main activities of the kidneys. It totally works. Unless you have a particular kidney disease. If not, we can eat huge amounts of sodium and it will not hurt us. Interesting fact, some of the diseases they claim are caused by sodium aren’t even diseases. High blood pressure. Kidney stones. Obesity. It’s not biologically possible for high sodium intake to cause kidney stones or obesity. (Obesity?) No matter how goddamn high it is. On the show the person presenting this Diseases It Causes information was, wait for it, a nutritionist. Interesting thing: a nutritionist isn’t a doctor. In the 2013 story they had a doctor. But he specialized in quitting smoking. As you’ll recall an intrinsic element of pop medicine is fiddling with what you eat to prevent some disease. 1) that’s not how medicine works. Medicine starts with diseases and tries to find out everything about them that is relevant. Not just everything about them that is food related. 2) having a doctor on your consumer affairs show say a bunch of crazy ass stuff (food, disease, prevent) does not make it medical and scientific and okay. It just means you found a screwball doctor. Or in the case of this story, nutritionist. The message for journalists is: don’t do pop medicine stories. Real medical stories are about diseases or about medical fuck ups or things our medical system needs to do or about new treatments. On the latter the journalists are always being manipulated though.
The context in which they were going after sodium was breakfast sandwiches, like Egg McMuffins. They also felt it was important to pitch a fit about the number of calories in each of the different fast food chains brekkie sandwich. The high one which the presenter affected to be appalled by it was 500 cal. For breakfast. If normal caloric intake is said to be 2000 cal per day, or more, then unless you’re eating four meals a day it seems to me 500 cal for breakfast is actually a little low. Although the show was happy to quote Health Canada’s nutty maximum sodium number they didn’t manage to present any number for daily caloric intake. Apparently we’re just supposed to think every bit of food we eat should be the lowest number of calories it could possibly be. I call that the anorexic mindset. And it’s really not appropriate that a consumer affairs show try to teach us that.
In short pop medicine stories are terrible and bad and medicine is not a toy for journalists. If the news, especially on TV, is going to have anything about medicine they need to vet it way, way better than anything else they tell us about, short of an evacuation order. Pop medicine stories usually feature food. But that doesn’t make ’em food stories. If you talk about diseases it’s medicine. Do it right.
I changed the name of this blog from Medical False Knowledge to The Brain Science Critic a couple months ago and am retooling it. There have been nothing but delays since then. First I was sick, then I was cutting the cable and had to get a new TV… And of course the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Funny how a massacre, even that one is not directly involved in, can alter your schedule. So in the meantime I have been re-blogging. I think you’ll find them very interesting although they’re not about brain science. My brain science critique is coming. The plan is to take my time, and to write it up in proper little essays. I take up all the issues, methodological and conceptual, that I and I know many others find problematic in brain science today. (Whether you call it neuro this neuro that.)