2007 07 18
Um, ew.

There are just so many gems in this NYT piece on abstinence-only education. But this takes the cake:

In northeastern Texas, advocates of abstinence education vow to fight for their mission because to them, it is not just a matter of sexuality or even public health. Getting a teenager to the other side of high school without viruses or babies is a bonus, but not the real goal. They see casual sex as toxic to future marriage, family and even, in an oblique way, opposition to abortion.

“You have to look at why sex was created,” Eric Love, the director of the East Texas Abstinence Program, which runs Virginity Rules, said one day, the sounds of Christian contemporary music humming faintly in his Longview office. “Sex was designed to bond two people together.”

To make the point, Mr. Love grabbed a tape dispenser and snapped off two fresh pieces. He slapped them to his filing cabinet and the floor; they trapped dirt, lint, a small metal bolt. “Now when it comes time for them to get married, the marriage pulls apart so easily,” he said, trying to unite the grimy strips. “Why? Because they gave the stickiness away.”

Tune in next week when Mr. Love uses a straightened paper clip to show that curing homosexuality is as easy as a trip to Office Max.

Howls of outrage (3)

2007 04 03
Latest Toxoplasma gondii news

Posted by in: Health, tech-sci


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2007 02 19
On tapeworms

Posted by in: Health, tech-sci


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2006 11 15
Impractically high doses

Posted by in: Health

Science marches forward:

The latest Hopkins findings, to be presented Nov. 14 at the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago, identified the effect of normal, everyday doses of chocolate found in ordinary foods, unlike previous studies that found decreased platelet activity only at impractically high doses of flavonoids equivalent to eating several pounds of chocolate a day.

If you snacked through the day, you could pull it off.

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2006 05 23
Body temperature

Posted by in: Health

I’ve noticed that if I’m really sleep-deprived, my body has trouble regulating its temperature. I’m most likely to end up shivering a lot even when it’s reasonably warm in the room. Is this common or am I a freak of nature? Or both?

Howls of outrage (4)

2006 04 17
Round up (risen from the dead edition)

Have I mentioned that the stomach flu isn’t any fun? I’m getting better, but I still feel like I have a shot put in my stomach after eating even the blandest foods. Luckily I can make a fine feast of self-pity in any situation. Anyway . . .

— Make sure to update your Mozilla products. Now.

— I used the time I was vomiting and then recovering from vomiting to reflect on my recent Iran predictions. One thing missing from it is a sense of grim foreboding, which I somehow neglected to include. You might get the false impression from my predictions that I’m more or less sanguine about the Iran situation, since I don’t think the U.S. is going to do the stupidest thing possible out of the range of alternatives they’re considering (tactical nuclear strikes, or even air strikes). But no. Of course it sucks that Iran will get nuclear weapons sooner or later, and U.S. bungling on the issue probably makes it sooner. Also, although I strongly suspect that Hersh makes too much of the contingency plans being drawn up by the U.S., if the plans do include a tactical nuclear strike, the wisest words I’ve read so far will have to be Henley’s:

Whether or not nukes get used, the whispering campaign still tends to normalize discourse advocating the first use of tactical nuclear weapons as a policy option.

That is a tremendous cost, a cost already incurred as a result of the debate so far. Matters aren’t helped when supposedly centrist commentators like Joe Klein speed that process along. A serious counterproliferation efforts requires, among many other things the U.S. has failed to do, a principled and highly public commitment to refrain from first-strike use of nuclear weapons.

— Speaking of that Hersh article, I think Umansky has the right instincts. It’s far too much “I spoke with the friend of a first cousin of a civilian who lives next door to a retired general who once met Bush at a luncheon when he was governor who has a great intuitive sense of the man’s next move, and he gave me this awesome tough guy quote that I pull out whenever I drink whiskey with someone I’m trying to impress about Bush thinking the stakes are really high on this one.” E.g.,

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was �absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb� if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do �what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,� and �that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.�

How the fuck does he know? What, did he have a heart-to-heart with the Prez? Or with someone who had a heart-to-heart with the Prez? How many heart-to-hearts, exactly, is he removed from this insight? And how do the various and conflicting interests hidden in these hearts twist the original message? After all, in Washington, power is often very much a function of proximity to the President, and influence is very much a matter of how that proximity is represented to others. I know Hersh does some great reporting, but he also does lousy reporting. I just don’t know. But neither do you, chump.

— A lot of the British lefties have their knickers in a knot over the Euston Manifesto. It’s a pity I’m really fucking busy over the next month. It’s just the sort of thing I used to love to blog about.

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2006 04 16
Stomach flu

Posted by in: Anecdotal, Health


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2006 03 10
Diagnosis: Stupidity

So, I think I may have given myself a (inguinal) hernia. “A” diagnosed it first after googling a bit and asking some questions. (Those in the audience anxious about the issue of marital fidelity will be relieved to know that the diagnosis took place over the phone and so at no point involved fondling my balls and getting me to cough, which is apparently part of the standard check for hernias.) She and Yoon finally succeeded in getting me to go to a doctor. That wasn’t easy for them to do since there’s no real pain, just a bit of worrying discomfort in my lower right abdomen, accompanied by the bizarre sensation that my right testicle is getting sucked back up into my body. (Is it Koro? That would be awesome.)

I went to emergency because the way my insurance works, the visit is capped at $50, whereas if I visit anyone in-network in NYC I end up paying $20 plus 30% of the cost – and I know from last year that no one will tell me the truth about what that cost will be. Anyway, the doctor did a perfunctory check and said it might well be a hernia, though if it was, it had temporarily righted itself. He gently suggested that 32 years old is just about the age that exercise fanatics begin the long process of breaking down into decrepitude. He also suggested making a small incision in my bank account in order to drain it properly, but I politely demurred.

Anyway, I have three things to say about this whole business. First, you probably don’t want to look at this diagram that A found online. It’s really disgusting. Don’t look, ok?

Second, when the doctor wanted me to slip down my boxers (undergarment of a real man), he said, “OK, I’m just going to ask you to drop trou.” Drop trou? Drop trou? What the fuck? There’s something really icky about that expression, no?

Third and finally, those in the audience with good memories may recall that I wound up in emergency almost exactly a year ago. The initial diagnosis was “pericarditis,” an inflammation of the tissue around the heart, but that turned out not to be the case. (They thought that partly because my pulse was 44, but it turns out that my heart is just so incredibly healthy that I’m practically dead.) A battery of tests later, and a doctor finally suggested the most likely culprit: my stomach muscles were spasming as a result of all the stomach crunches I was doing. Now, my current suspected hernia was most likely brought on by doing ab work, so I can see how careless readers might jump to the conclusion that I’ve gone and injured myself two years in a row doing exactly the same thing. But I think it would be a mistake to jump to that conclusion. See, last year’s injury was probably a result of doing side-crunches, whereas this year’s injury seems to be the result of lower ab work. So any resemblance between the two injuries is superficial, and I think we can safely set aside any lingering questions about my sanity.

Howls of outrage (11)

2005 12 04
Not a light or funny post, and yet it’s about balls.

Posted by in: Health

My friend Jeremy, age 30, happened to go to a medical talk last week. The speaker urged everyone in attendance to do regular self-checks of the testicles most dear to them. So Jeremy went home, and what the hell, checked. He found a lump. Went to the doctor the next day, it was a malignant and fast-growing tumor. He had surgery to remove the cancerous testicle two days later. Doing the self-check saved his life. (Going to the talk saved his life… how many talks can you say that about?)

I spoke to him today, and he asked that I spread the word to everyone I could, so here goes. I have never given testicular cancer much thought, and neither had he. He’d never routinely done self-checks before.

Apparently ages 25-35 (plus a few years on either end) are the prime years for it. The treatment is very successful if you catch it early. But the tumors are incredibly, incredibly aggressive. The doctor thinks if Jeremy had found his tumor only a couple of weeks later, it would have already spread — but the doctor also told him the tumor probably only started within the last month.

So check. Every 2 weeks.

Howls of outrage (6)

2005 03 24
Health update for friends and family

Below the fold, of course.
Continue Reading »

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2005 03 14

Posted by in: Anecdotal, Health

So . . . yesterday, after about 10 hours of intense chest pain, I finally relented and let my wife drag me to the emergency room. The doctor told me that it was probably something called “pericarditis,” which I don’t think is very serious. Apparently it involves an inflammation of the tissue around the heart. I need to do a bit more checking up on it but I’m not too worried about it in the long run.

Anyway, the downside was that it hurt like a bitch. But the upside is that they injected me with morphine, which was, like, totally awesome.

I’m still tired from the whole ordeal, so off to bed with me again. Posting from me will probably continue to be sparse.

Howls of outrage (12)

2004 12 09
Department of useless research

Congratulations are due to the bright lights who have discovered the dangers that laptops pose to our fragile sperm:

Men who use laptop computers could be unwittingly damaging their fertility, experts believe.

Balancing it on the lap increases the temperature of the scrotum which is known to have a negative effect on sperm production, researchers found.

It’s not as though they’ve discovered that laptops emit some special type of ray that causes infertility. It’s just that laptops get hot, and a lot of heat around a man’s crotch lowers his fertility. You know, like tight jeans. But never let the obvious get in the way of a grant proposal:

Coupled with the rising popularity of these computers – about 150m people use them worldwide – much more research is needed say the US authors.

I’ll bet it is.

I also hear that repeatedly smashing a hammer against your weenie lowers your reproductive fitness. Wonder if anyone will pay me to research that (on someone else, of course).

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