Sunday, July 31, 2005

LGBT: having conquered Disney, San Francisco, and the fashion world, anti-gay activists attack Tylenol PM

Apparently gay people should have headaches. That's why the right-wingers are pissed at the folks at Tylenol PM, for advertising in The Advocate. But maybe it's okay for queers to buy the generic equivalent? See, I'd think we should all be boycotting Tylenol for taking drugs that people can buy at much lower cost, putting them into a fancy box, and charging three times as much for them.

MedPol: the price of war

A survey of troops returning from the Iraq war found 30 percent had developed mental health problems three to four months after coming home, the Army's surgeon general said Thursday.
Thank you, Bush administration, for insuring me job security for the next fifty years.

KickAss: Blind kid schools you at Mortal Kombat

"He enjoyed trying to play, but he wasn't very good at first," said his father, Larry Mellen. "But he just kept on trying. ... He's broken a lot of controllers."

When the question of broken controllers comes up, Mellen flashes a smile and just shrugs.

"I used to have quite a temper," he said. "Me and controllers didn't get along very well."

MedPol: Cookies for Bill Frist

Frist thinks stem cells are cool now, proving that even Harvard-trained transplant surgeons can pull their heads out of their asses every once in a while.

Medicine: D2, the receptor that knows no bounds

Since schizophrenia and the reward system isn't enough, D2 may now play a huge role in depression therapies as well:

The brain's mood, reward, and motivation circuits are mainly governed by dopamine and have been regarded as potential alternative targets for treating depression. Many of these functions are integrated by the medium spiny neurons of the striatum, which lie below the cortex of the brain and respond to dopamine. Dopamine exerts its function in target cells through five known subtypes of dopamine receptors to regulate motor control, stereotypic behaviors, arousal, mood, motivation, and endocrine function. Impairment in the function of dopamine D2 receptor is implicated in various neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and drug addiction.
I question somewhat whether therapies targeted specifically to dopamine pathways will be any more effective than current treatments, since neurotransmitters do not live on islands. Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine all live in the same neighborhood, and their regulation seems likely related to one another. And given that SSRIs obviously do not actually work because they are SSRIs, I figure we might already be targeting dopaminergic pathways without even realizing it. Still, three cheers for dopamine!

Gun Control: Senate Votes to Guard Gunmakers From Suits

The nutjobs are winning.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

LGBT: What's in a name? Or a license plate?

Here is a story of a Utah woman who's won her right to express her love of gays on her car bumper. What will they come up with next?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Medicine: Pimp Indian Dude at MIT Blowing Up Cancer

Best prevention of metastasis? Blow up all the avenues leading out of a tumor. Cool stuff.

What Do You Think? London Bombings

Those of you not familiar with the Onion's What Do You Think Section might find these offensive, but I think they're hillarious.

Dalia Lofton (Systems Analyst) says "The sad thing is, London may now develop anti-Pakistani racism for the first time in its history."
Carolyn Allen (Fire Inspector) says "Are the Brits flying into a blind rage and invading an oil-producing country for no reason? Well, why not?"
Rodney Price (Daycare Operator) says "As an Irishman, I think whoever's behind this should be found and punished if it isn't us."

Humor: Supreme Court Justices Devour Sandra Day O'Connor In Ancient Ritual

WASHINGTON, DC—The eight remaining justices of the Supreme Court met in chambers Monday to feast on the living flesh of retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, enacting an ancient tradition that began when the first chief justice of the Supreme Court retired and was summarily consumed in 1795.
"Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist almost certainly consumed the greater part of O'Connor's brain and heart prior to the ritual feeding, in a rite believed to grant him the knowledge, wisdom, and courage of the devoured, . . . as they chanted passages from her seminal opinions."
O'Connor has been prepared for the ritual since January 2005, when Chief Justice Rehnquist sprinkled her desk with the ashes of a virgin law clerk and pronounced, "Receptum, receptum, receptum."
According to legal scholars, O'Connor's skin will be tanned and sewn into a ceremonial cloak, to be worn by the youngest justice, Clarence Thomas, as he lights the pyre upon which members of O'Connor's senior staff are burned alive.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Religion: Leaning to the Left

As I've been accepted to study theology at the University of Oxford this fall, I've taken the time to go through my old journals and correspondance from my previous stint across the water, and to share a bit on my blog.

This week I'm reminescing about how my Christian faith brought me to turn left on the American political spectrum. Some readers (and blog members!) who would like to give up on religious folks as hopelessly red-state bigots might find it interesting...

(Not that I was, mind you, a die-hard Republican, or a bigot!)

Many of the British people apparently just don't think religion in general or Christianity in particular has any meaning to offer their lives.

Frankly, given all the people who wander around preaching about sin, hell, heaven and judgment all the time, I can understand that. I mean, does anyone under fifty stop to think about heaven unless they’re being told they should?
Next week: Why I liked Kinsey.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Inevitable: Kickball Catching on With Adults

Democracy finally achieved!

War on Terror: bin Laden spotted by CIA

Reuters reported early Monday that Osama bin Laden had been spotted by senior intelligence officials outside the NFL franchise Miami Dolphins' training camp. The Saudi terrorist appeared to be in good spirits and apparently apologized to his fellow teammates. He is also quoted as saying that he no longer smokes marijuana.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Politics: President expresses regret

Clinton expresses regret in Rwanda:

"I express regret for my personal failure," he said before touring the museum. "I think it faithfully, honestly, painfully presents the truth of the Rwandan genocide," he told reporters after seeing the museum which his Clinton Foundation partially funded.
I just can't see Bush doing this in 8 years, touring Iraq and apologizing for personal failures. I'm not saying Iraq is Rwanda or genocide, but I think it's sad that I live in a world where it is truly shocking to hear a president admit a mistake. Anyway, if anyone wants to put money on the whole Bush regret thing just let me know. I'll even give you 10 years and 2 to 1 odds.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Politics: Tax credits where credits are due?

When my poor Camry died, I fought long and heard with myself whether to be a good liberal and buy a Prius or to be a good democrat and buy a CRV. The Michigan weather and the need for Derby cage-space (and finally the absurd insurance premiums) pushed me towards the CRV, but the hybrid tax credits made it a pretty hard fought battle in my head. And the tax credits made sense, as tax credits are a wonderful way for the government to encourage certain healthy behavior without infringing upon anyone's right to choose in the free market.

The 2005 Honda Accord hybrid gets about the same miles per gallon as the basic four-cylinder model, according to a review by Consumer Reports, a car-buyer's guide, and it saves only about two miles a gallon compared with the V-6 model on which it is based. Thanks to the hybrid technology, though, it accelerates better.

Hybrid technology, it seems, is being used in much the same way as earlier under-the-hood innovations that increased gasoline efficiency: to satisfy the American appetite for acceleration and bulk.

Despite the use of hybrids to achieve better performance with about the same fuel economy, consumers who buy the cars continue to get a tax credit that the Internal Revenue Service allows under a "clean fuels" program that does not take fuel savings into account.
Now, I think it's pretty cool that someone could buy a 4-cylinder with a hybrid engine and get the same power as a 6-cylinder engine, but I don't know if someone deserves the same tax credit as someone buying a fuel efficient commuter vehicle. Time to tweak, one way or another.

LGBT: Full disclosure for HIV+?

An interesting article about a gay medical student from Atlanta who's now being charged with three counts of reckless felony and possibly 10 years in prison for having consensual unprotected sex without informing his partners he's HIV positive. The article definitely brings up a few questions about who should be responsible for the HIV epidemic. Should the government--particularly an openly homophobic one--intervene in such manners? While it is undeniably tragic that this guy infected partners who didn't know he was HIV+, doesn't it take two to engage in consensual unprotected sex? Just as HIV positive individuals should feel responsible for disclosing their status, shouldn't HIV negative persons also be responsible for protecting their health? I don't mean to sound completely insensitive towards the HIV- partners who were deceived and infected, but creating a law requiring HIV+ individuals to disclose their status won't do anything I don't think except encourage HIV- individuals to put the responsibility of their health in other people's hands.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Supreme Court: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Liberal groups, however, say Roberts has taken positions in cases involving free speech and religious liberty that endanger those rights. Abortion rights groups allege that Roberts is hostile to women's reproductive freedom and cite a brief he co-wrote in 1990 that suggested the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion.

"The court's conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion ... finds no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution," the brief said.
He's no Roy Moore. He's no Alberto Gonzalez. He doesn't even sound like an Anton Scalia. He may, in fact, be one of the more reasonable choices for a 'conservative' nominee. Another portion of the same article is a little more encouraging:
Roberts' nomination to the appellate court attracted support from both sites of the ideological spectrum. Some 126 members of the District of Columbia Bar, including officials of the Clinton administration, signed a letter urging his confirmation. The letter said Roberts was one of the "very best and most highly respected appellate lawyers in the nation" and that his reputation as a "brilliant writer and oral advocate" was well deserved.
So we'll see whether, as a Supreme Court Justice, if bringing down Roe would become a priority or not. Scanning the liberal 'sphere quickly, I'm guessing that this guy's history of anti-abortion activity will probably prove to piss me off royally. But my official stance as of now: could've been worse.

Update 1: Here we go:
Roberts's name appears on the government's brief defending the gag rule under which federally funded family-planning clinics were barred from offering abortion counseling. The brief (Rust v. Sullivan) argued in passing, as the Bush administration contended at the time, that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. In another case, Mr. Roberts argued for the government that the activities of abortion protesters did not constitute discrimination against women. (Washington Post, June 7, 2001)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Calling all cartoonists

Why isn't there a medical school comic?

HP6: It just keeps getting better!!

I won't give any plot spoilers, but after 10.5 hrs I've just finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was awesome! If you haven't picked up your copy yet, what are you waiting for?!?!?!

Good things about this book: the plot moves fast! Harry finally stops complaining all the time (that was definately annoying in book 5) and it definately plays with your emotions in a stronger way than any of the previous 5 books have. Oh yea, and the two big secrets (who dies and who's the half-blooded prince) aren't revealed until after page 600, so just keep reading!!! And once you think you've gotten all the little twists figured out, J.K. Rowling throws one more at you to keep you on the edge for a few more years... when does book 7 come out again?

My assessment: Definately a better use of my time than studying OB/GYN all day :)

Garrett Update: check out Mugglenet for all your HP needs.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Med/Econ: Man shoots postman to get jailed

Kind of a crazy system when one man tries to kill another to deal with the burden of paying for healthcare.

William Crutchfield shot 59-year-old postman Earl Lazenby in Snellville, Georgia, two weeks ago. He greeted the postman and collected his letters before lifting his pistol and shooting him seven times. Mr Crutchfield told police that he shot the postman as a way of escaping medical debts of $90,000. He said he feared losing his home and thought that living in prison would be better than surviving on the street.

Politics: Granholm steals a page from the GOP playbook, needs thesaurus

Mr. Cowgill has some appropriate fun at the WSJ's prodding of Jen Granholm, who claimed that some right-wing jerk-off editorial in the WSJ op-ed page was "treasonous."

Not that she, ya know, leaked any CIA identity info or anything. But any numbskull knows you can't say the words "Hitler," "Holocaust," or "treason" in a political speech nowadays. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

The WSJ op-ed page is an echo chamber, and I can't imagine why Granholm would even worry about it. If such an article were in, say, the Economist, which is actually read by moderates and conservatives with intact brain cells, then she might have a reason to bother getting upset. But the WSJ op-ed page? That's like Karl Rove getting angry at Daily Kos. Why even bother giving Sean Hannity another five hours worth of material to whine about?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Medicine:Yet Another Reason To Keep Up On Stem Cells

An article coming in the next Nature reports that a single injection of stem cells can reduce inflammation inside the brain and spinal cord. Wow. Imagine what this could do for MS, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, etc. I hope the push continues.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Go Cats: Morris to return, WildCat nation grumbles

Undrafted once-exiting UK Center Randolph Morris (who was the subject of the first and second ever sparkgrass posts) is coming back, though it seems like no one in Big Blue Nation wants the disrespectful cocksucker disgracing a UK uniform ever again. I'm actually pretty ambivalent on the matter. I guess I took it to heart at the end of the He-Man episode when I was like five and He-Man told me that everybody deserves a second chance.
An excerpt from Dick Vitale's open letter to Morris before he made the decision to return:

Dear Randolph:

Please, please get on the first plane back to Lexington and meet with coach Tubby Smith. Tell him how much you'd like to put on that Kentucky uniform again.

Do you know how many kids would give their right arm to play at Rupp Arena and put on that Wildcats jersey? There's nothing like playing in front of the most passionate fans you can find in college basketball.

Doesn't it make sense to hear the Big Blue fans cheering again? Standing-room-only crowds at Rupp, fans going wild, all sorts of visibility and national coverage ... and you don't want any of that? Are you serious?

You prefer to be a basketball vagabond and bounce from league to league? Come on. Don't you understand, you were passed by all 30 teams not just once but twice. Two rounds of the draft and your name wasn't called.

The message is loud and clear: You must work on many parts of your game. If you get better and better, there is some potential. You have great size and youth on your side, and it could happen.

Think about some other Kentucky players who improved, like Tayshaun Prince, Keith Bogans and Jamaal Magloire. They all stayed at Kentucky, and look what happened. They enjoyed moments they can treasure the rest of their lives, and they went on to play in the NBA.
Bring us a Final Four, and we just might stop grumbling. Maybe. Arrogant prig.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Pop Culture: Random T-Shirts

I found these funny. I know it's just a corporation trying to make money by putting out slightly odd humored shirts that "appeal to the young folk". And by finding these funny I've bought in to that whole mass produced stereotypical hip. I know I'll never buy or wear one of these. And sure, every now and then I sing along with Avril Lavigne (who's name is not in the Blogger dictionary). Watch'a gonna do about it.

If you really want to read about shallow, irrelevant people doing shallow, irrelevant things, tune in to The .

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Personal: One Year Anniversary

Courtney and I got married last year on July 10, and one year later, we haven't killed each other, and amazingly, she still even likes me. So here's to a zillion more years. And oh yeah, the year old frozen cake-top is still pretty dang yummy. And we didn't see how we couldn't let Derby get in on the yummy cake action.

Film: Avoid 'Hide and Seek' like a syphilitic weiner

Hide and Seek. Seriously, it's another one of those cheap bullshit doppleganger movies that totally farts out in the last 20 minutes. Just like Secret Window, which smelled something akin to an untreated three-month old vaginosis.

Although, if you're doing a thesis on, say, the development of Dakota Fanning into an amazing actress, this movie might be of interest, as the girl's performance is absolutely sickeningly fantastic. She might even save War of the Worlds from Tom Cruise and his scientology cronies.

But otherwise, Hide and Seek. Syphilis. Associate these two directly, as they cause equivocal pain to your nervous system.

Medicine: 'Morning-after' pill doesn't increase unsafe sex

A British study this time:

Answers to the surveys showed that the proportion of women reporting current use of contraception remained unchanged over time. Overall use of emergency contraception also remained the same.

For example, the proportion using emergency contraception once per year was 6.5 percent, 6.3 percent and 5.6 percent during each period. The proportion using emergency contraception more than once was 2.0 percent, 1.5 percent and 1.7 percent.

The only apparent change over time was in the places where women procured emergency contraception. The proportions obtaining the morning-after pill from a pharmacy increased from zero in 2000 to 19.7 percent in 2001 and 32.6 percent in 2002. During the same periods, fewer women obtained emergency contraception from a general practitioner or a family planning clinic.

"The sharp rise in the proportion of women buying emergency hormonal contraception over the counter indicates that many women prefer this way of obtaining it," Marston and her colleagues maintain. Easier access is likely to have prevented more pregnancies, they add.
Of course, no number of well-done studies will convince the rascally right. The most humorous thing is that Plan B is far from a benign treatment. You don't just go out, have your fun, and pop in some pills the next day, and go about your business while a possibly fertilized zygote doesn't implant and gets flushed out in the wash next month. No, plan B is a 24 hour tour-de-nausea. Now, if people think that puking their brains out for a day is perfectly fine everytime they want to have sex, that's their choice, but somehow I don't think most women are so incredibly promiscuous that they'll trade a romp in the hay for a day of HellFlu2000. Of course, for those occasional times when things just go wrong, or a primary source of birth control fails, a day of nausea isn't much compared to nine months of nausea and 24 years of headaches.

But once again, that would require the social right to actually understand what they're talking about, and actually think about someone's life other than their own.

LGBT: Are we all diseased?

Here is a story about a group of LGBT advocates working to change the American Red Cross policy (and the along with it, the FDA policy) that prevents any MSM's (men who have sex with men) from donating blood.

I say, go for it! It's not about equal marriage rights, but it is still a form of discrimination, especially since we can screen all donor blood for HIV and most other "gay diseases" these days.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Politics: Bush sticks with "flypaper theory"

Yahoo reports today on Bush's latest responses to the attacks on London. To quote the article:

Bush said the London attacks were a reminder of the "evil" of the Sept. 11 attacks and underscored that the United States and its allies were fighting a "global war on terror."

"We will stay on the offense, fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them at home," Bush said.

As a brief recap, in the liberal blogging circles, this is what's known as the "flypaper theory." Basically, it's the neocon's argument that was put forth just after the Iraq war started. It theorizes that by making the terrorists focus on Iraq, they wouldn't focus on attacking us at home. I prefer to call this the "horseshit theory." There was never any good reasoning behind why this theory should work, only empty rhetoric. And now, unfortunately, the London attacks remind us what empty rhetoric gets us. Note that I am NOT saying it is our fault these attacks happened. Nor am I saying that we could have done anything to prevent these attacks. All I am saying is that we have some good proof that the neocons' arguments are as strong as a soggy paperbag.

The London attacks are a terrible tragedy that make should make us all stand united with the people of Britain. We should use this opportunity to pause and reflect on how to improve our homeland security and how our international efforts might be better used to prevent people from wanting to become terrorists in the first place. Speeches like this only serve to display our ignorance in global affairs and prevent us from seeking a course of action that would strengthen our position against terrorism. To channel Garrett for a moment: "jackass."

Medicine: Bush Gives Global AIDS Fighters Ultimatum

and once again demonstrates that you can never underestimate the president's power to make a dumbass decision, hurt people, and make it sound morally superior all at once.

U.S. groups fighting AIDS overseas are being given an ultimatum by the government: Pledge your opposition to sex trafficking and prostitution or do without federal funds...

[Kent Hill, acting administrator for global health at the U.S. Agency for International development says] the pledge is a tool the United States can use to make sure none of its money goes to support a practice he called degrading and debilitating.

"Prostitution worldwide has always been connected to human rights violations, dehumanization, and organized crime," Hill said. "The vast majority of people, globally, do not find themselves there by choice."
Sounds good, right? Even pro-women, right?

[Terri Bartlett, vice president for public policy at Population Action International, a health advocacy group for women's issues,] said that while she agreed with the pledge requirement's premise that prostitution is a harmful occupation, it may have the unintended effect of deterring prostitutes from seeking help by unnecessarily singling them out.

"We want to build trust and reduce stigma," Bartlett said of dealing with the high-risk population of prostitutes. "This policy flies in the face of what we know works."

The most disturbing thing to me is the obvious non-sequitur from Mr. Hill's statement that most women do not find themselves in prostitution by choice. So, groups shouldn't help women who are sex slaves because that's somehow supporting a disgusting practice? Since preventing women with HIV from getting needed treatment is sooo humane. Thanks, jackasses.

Medicine: Orange crush

Agent Orange and diabetes now linked, likely due to the presence of digoxin in the defoliant.

Sad, since adult-onset diabetes was the greatest health concern found in the 2002 Air Force Health study.

Film: Oliver Stone to make 9/11 film

And it won't even be a conspiracy theory film, as it's apparently based on the story of two police officers who were trapped in the WTC rubble. Nick Cage to star. Nowhere to go but up after Alexander.

Law: Man Sues Mass. for Right to Get Drunk

Fav quote:

"One thing people should be able to do is drink in their own house," Laverriere told The Boston Globe. "That's the beauty of the land of the free."

Schiavo: Jeb throws in the towel

Fla. Governor Jeb Bush finally catches up with the rest of the country and realizes that the Schiavo case is over. Douchebag.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Supreme Court: Slate summaries

I don't have particularly much to add, but I thought these Slate articles were nice rundowns for those worried about the future of Roe.

First, Emily Bazelon's piece "The Front-Runners on Roe: What Bush's shortlist thinks about abortion."

And what seems to be a very astute analysis from William Saletan:

Bush has something to gain and little to lose by replacing O'Connor with an anti-Roe justice, because abortion isn't just an up-or-down issue. It's an issue of incremental restrictions. On the restrictions, the public tends to agree with Bush. And while Roe isn't directly at stake in this court appointment, some of the restrictions are.

Bush understands this. Every time he's asked about abortion, he does a cute little dance. Two years ago, when I was writing a book about abortion politics, I called it the Texas Three-Step. Here's how it goes. First Bush nods to pro-lifers in principle. He tells them something vague about building a culture of life. Then he winks to pro-choicers in practice. He lets them know he won't or can't ban abortion outright. Then he changes the subject to restrictions that poll well—usually laws that require parental notification or ban partial-birth abortion.

Here's Bush speaking to the Southern Baptist Convention two weeks ago: "A compassionate society rejects partial-birth abortion. And I signed a law to end that brutal practice, and my administration will continue working to defend that law." And here he is an interview last week: "Life is precious in all forms, all stages, and … that belief leads into political debates on issues like whether or not a parent should be notified prior to a daughter's abortion." The interviewer asks: "Do you think abortion should be illegal?" Bush replies that he's "a realist" and that because Americans are "polarized" on the issue, "we're going to have to change hearts."

Two days after Bush gave that interview, O'Connor dropped her bombshell. Reporters asked Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., what might happen to Roe. Santorum is one of the most avid pro-lifers in Congress. But he also serves in the Senate Republican leadership and faces a tough re-election fight next year. "I'm not sure that Roe itself will be in jeopardy," he demurred. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review headlined his comments, "Santorum predicts limits on abortions." The paper's lede said Santorum "expected the next justice to be more inclined to ban so-called partial birth abortions. He also predicted parental consent for minors seeking abortions will likely get a more sympathetic ear."

Why do Bush and Santorum pick these restrictions? Look at the polls. Do you want Roe overturned? Two-thirds say no. Should partial-birth abortion be illegal? Two-thirds say yes. Should teenage girls have to notify their parents before getting an abortion? Four-fifths say yes.
As any medical students worth their salt know, there is no such thing as a partial-birth abortion. For the rest of you:

There are intact D&Es, and their are late term abortions, and somewhere by fusing these two ideas in the minds of the public, the social right has created the myth of partial-birth abortions.

The intact D&E is simply a method for removing a fetus from the mother, and is an important procedure for uses other than just elective abortion. As an abortifacient procedure, it is simply another option among others.

Late term abortions are not protected by Roe, and are still illegal in most states anyway. And while, yes, most late term abortions are performed by intact D&E, intact D&E procedures do not equal late term abortions.

The popularized idea of a doctor pulling a baby halfway out of its mother at the time of delivery and sucking its brains out is simple science fiction.

Banning the intact D&E procedure would be akin to banning a thoracic approach to repairing a hiatal hernia in favor of the abdominal approach. Sounds arbitrary and technical, doesn't it? Yup, it is.

And either this concept is just a little too complex for Rick Santorum and his cronies (unlikely), or their goal is simple obstruction of a legal medical procedure. In the coming weeks, I imagine that I might have to revive the douchebag-of-the-week award, as Sen. Man-on-Dog gives me new quotes of amazing ignorance.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Medicine: no biological basis for bisexuality?

To cap off this three part series of controversial research in the news, a study out of Northwestern suggests that bisexual men demonstrate arousal patterns generally consistent with that of homosexual men:

The study, by a team of psychologists in Chicago and Toronto, lends support to those who have long been skeptical that bisexuality is a distinct and stable sexual orientation.

People who claim bisexuality, according to these critics, are usually homosexual, but are ambivalent about their homosexuality or simply closeted. "You're either gay, straight or lying," as some gay men have put it.

In the new study, a team of psychologists directly measured genital arousal patterns in response to images of men and women. The psychologists found that men who identified themselves as bisexual were in fact exclusively aroused by either one sex or the other, usually by other men.

I see a rather large non-sequitur between saying that bisexual men generally demonstrate arousal patterns consistent with homosexual men and saying that bisexuality is not a distinct, stable sexual orientation. Especially given the methodology of simply presenting erotic pictures of males or females, and equating that with the raw force necessary for a person to engage in a sexual encounter or a stable sexual relationship with a member of the same or opposite sex.

The article implies strongly that the etiology of bisexuality in me involves homosexual men who simply can't deal with the idea of being gay, and thus continue having sex with women depsite arousal states consistent with those who exhibit more typical homosexual behavior.

And all that seems like total bullshit to me, since I don't understand why arousal pattern necessitates one's sexual behavior. In the traditional debate, social liberals employ the biological basis of homosexuality, supported by fairly rigorous science as a major trump card against social conservatives who argue without rigorous scientific approach that homosexuality is somehow unnatural, and thus immoral, and thus, sequitur, unGodly. Liberals of all sorts lose arguments against conservatives because we attempt to use the language of conservative logic in our arguments. The biological basis of homosexuality, while seemingly indisputable to the objective mind, really has little to do in the absolute with whether homosexuality is moral, stable, or exists.

As Mr. Kinsey's reports demonstrates clearly, bisexuality exists. There are bisexual males, and bisexual females. There are people who tend to one side or the other, with only occasional deviations, and there are those who are fully equal opportunity employers.

This data does not justify an unnecessary jump to the assertion that bisexuality is neither stable nor a real sexual orientation. Granted, it might be very useful in proposing models of cognition employed by some bisexual individuals, and it might even be relevant for addressing some aspect of the various manifestations of mental illness that occur more often in LGBT individuals.

But straight, gay, or lying? That's a useless paradigm illogically derived from an otherwise imporotant study.

Medicine: circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission?

As a rule, I've long been a member of the minority anti-circumcision crowd, because I've always felt that data supporting health benefits of the practice were too weak to be used to justify an otherwise arbitrary and barbaric practice whose cultural ulitlity (outside of most Jewish circles) is practically nill. I've never believed that "I want Billy to look like his daddy" justified whacking off a few million nerve endings of a newborn. The only benefit I'd previously seen that made me question my stance concerned transmission of HPV to women from uncircumcised men.

But, in a rare moment of Sparky revisionism, I might have to edit my opinion pending future exploration of this study:

In a potentially major breakthrough in the campaign against AIDS, French and South African researchers have apparently found that male circumcision reduces by about 70% the risk that men will contract HIV through intercourse with infected women, the (paid restricted) Wall Street Journal reports Monday, with caveats...

The circumcision findings were so dramatic that the data and safety monitoring board overseeing the research halted the study in February, about nine months before it would have been completed, on the grounds that it would be immoral to proceed without offering the uncircumcised control group the opportunity to undergo the procedure. While men were directly protected from infection by circumcision, women could benefit indirectly because circumcision would reduce the chances their partners would be HIV-positive.

Researchers in the field have been aware of the study's basic findings, but they haven't been published, so most experts haven't evaluated them. The British medical journal the Lancet decided against publishing the study, but for reasons unrelated to the data and scientific content, according to people familiar with the matter. Lancet officials, following standard policy at the journal, refused to comment on why the study was turned down...

Still, the fact that the research hasn't yet been published makes experts in the field wary about commenting. "Confirm, confirm, confirm," said Seth Berkley, a veteran HIV researcher and president of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. But if the study holds up, said Dr. Berkley, who wasn't involved with the research, it would be "quite important" because circumcision would be "an intervention that works over a person's lifetime and could reduce HIV in a community setting."
Apparently this isn't at all a new debate, as the circumcision vs. HIV transmission story has been tossed about since 1986. And without knowing why The Lancet doesn't want to publish the study, I'm not about to abandon my vehement anti-circumcision views just yet. But if the practice could create real decreases in HIV-transmission, the cost-benefit equation becomes quite another critter.

Medicine: obese people need to slow down?


Doctoral student Ray Browning and his colleagues studied 20 men and women of normal weight and 20 considered obese as they walked set distances at different speeds. They found the obese people burned more calories walking at a slower pace for a longer time than walking at a faster speed.
It's a pretty interesting article dealing with a fairly complex problem. I don't see a direct reason why slower walking might be better, though it might make sense that the longer period of time would be associated with a raised heart rate over a greater period of time, a sort of integral calculus kind of graph-thought. And compliance issues, as its pretty hard for an obese person who is out of shape to zoom around at the pace that their more experienced walking buddies may employ.If nothing else, slower walking would minimize osteoarthritis stiffness.

But the really interesting part of the article:
Previous research showed that a person of normal weight who tried to emulate an obese person by wearing leg weights and walking with a wider leg swing spent 50 percent to 100 percent more energy to walk. But in the latest study, the team found obese individuals spent only about 10 percent more energy than their lighter counterparts.

"Does someone with obesity walk differently than the way normal people walk? Do they do something to make it cheaper to walk? It appears they do something in the walking pattern to make it cheaper," Browning said, meaning they burn fewer calories.
So obese people cheat the walking system? Wowsers. Chalk one up for evolution.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

LGBT: Christian doesn't have to mean anti-gay

Here is one prominent Christian denomination that isn't anti-gay. I guess they understand the "Love thy neighbor as thyself" command a little better than most.

Monday, July 4, 2005

Catching Up: Where to begin?

After two months of surgery effectively lobotomizing my Sparkgrass efforts, I'm opening the following four months of neurology, family practice, and pediatrics won't keep me away from the self-therapy of the keystroke. I'm not sure where to even start catching up.

Sandra Day O'Connor gone, and Alberto Gonzalez 'not conservative enough' because he isn't sufficiently retarded on a women's right to choose, and not because, say, he thinks torture is just one hammer in the toolbox?

And Karl Rove was one of the Plummer-Time leaks? Whodathunkit?

Not going to bother to link the political stories, as they're ubiquitous enough.

Squirrel Nut Zippers. Yum.

Harry Potter July 16th!

Pink Floyd cum whiny Socialist bass player at Live 8, and I didn't even have the awareness to watch it!

Land of the Dead rules. Batman is pretty damn good. I'm going to try to avoid War of the Worlds as long as possible, pending Tom Cruise gets one of those newfangled brain transplants.

Motorcycle Diaries, Y Tu Mama Tambien... is there something wrong with me that the Hispanic foreign films are just NOT doing it for me? Do folks south of the border live such slow paced lives that they celebrate these incredibly poorly paced films? I mean, I'm all for focusing on the lives of poor folk, and contrasting that with spoiled rich kids, but come on! Speaking in Spanish and making the film two hours long isn't enough to turn an after-school special into such critically acclaimed work. Maybe I've just been doing too much catching up on foreign films lately (since I never really bothered with them until just a few months ago, making me a sub-par film snob).

Randolph Morris and Kelenna Azubuike both took huge whiffs from the NBA draft. Serves you selfish bastards right. But Morris might be coming back? Geez. Maybe if he visits the Grinch and learns how to grow a heart.

Back to regularly scheduling blogging soon enough. I don't really have the heart to launch into the pressing matter, the O'Connor resignation, until Bush actually nominates some hellacious nightmare candidate. Bo links to Bush's best strategical bet on the whole matter *tongue-in-cheek.* I hope that the educated, non-stone age conservatives (such as Mr. Cowgill himself) will put their party interests aside for the moment and make enough noise to promote at least a fairly socially moderate appointee who won't set social progress back fifty years. O'Connor was hardly a champion of women's rights, but she seemed reasonable often enough. And reasonable is a pretty lovely trait in a Supreme Court Justice.

So, July 4th = laundry, vaccuuming, dishes, and probably a trip to Meijer for groceries. Then back in the habit tomorrow, except my days of showing up to the hospital at 4:30 AM should be on temporary hiatus.