March 29, 2008

Sex With Picnic Table Leads To Felony Charges

That's right folks, it is not a typo. This guy actually had sex with his picnic table FOUR times in one day! Of course he's getting in trouble for the public nudity and ludeness, but now he faces felony charges because a school was in close proximity.

This guy is married and has school-age children, I wonder what his wife thinks, she can't outperform a picnic table.

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March 28, 2008

Best Mugshot Ever?

Put this one down on the all-time mugshot list, holy shit!

And what did this splendid citizen do to get the honor of a mugshot? Well after a fight with his girlfriend he ran her over with a half-ton truck. That was Sunday and she died on Wednesday.

You can't make this shit up guys, and I'm nominating him for "Fucking Moron of The Week", he'll probably face some stiff competition from the "My Daughter Died Because I Thought Prayer Was The Cure For Diabetes Parents" but he may make a run.

(, as if you couldn't tell with that awesome graphic!/sarcasm)

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Solar Thermal Energy, Another Way To Capture The Sun's Energy

When talking about solar power most conversations revolve around photovoltaic (PV) cells, but there is another solar technology that may surpass the capabilities of PV production. Solar thermal energy is gaining ground among production companies (and I've blogged about it here, here and here.

Solar Thermal energy is a way of capturing the sun's energy by concentrating a large field of mirrors onto a single point in a tower. The tower has huge tubes filled with oil that is heated at the concentration point and the incredibly hot oil is used to turn water to steam which turns turbines. Sounds like a long complicated process but really its not (consider the process of coal mining all the way to electricity in your house, this is a far more complicated process).

The advantage solar thermal energy has over PV technology is that it can produce energy even at night or during cloudy days. The efficiency of storing heat is much better than converting solar to electrical power and then storing it (not to mention much, much cheaper). Think of it this way. Your laptop stores about as much power as a 4 quart thermos. If you turn on your laptop and put some hot water in a thermos which one will lose its energy first? Unless you have a very very expensive battery in your laptop the thermos will far outperform it at energy storage. And the laptop's storage components run in the hundreds of dollars while the thermos costs $15 max. Ausra, a company leading the solar thermal charge has developed a storage system that is 93% efficient. Even under theoretical conditions PV cells can't begin to touch that type of conversion efficiency.

The efficiency of storing heat is a major major advantage for solar thermal energy, and the ability to store and ramp up production in mere minutes means that the plant can operate as a base grid powerstation or a peak production plant.

Looking at the timeline of peak energy usage there is a very steady pattern of electricity demands being the highest in the late afternoon and early evening of the summer months. Most of that is fueled by air conditioning as the heat of summer pounds down. So it is hottest and brightest when we need the most energy and this technology works best during the hottest and brightest times of the day, sounds like a pretty damn good fit to me.

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89,000 Terawatts

of solar energy pass through our atmosphere and reach the Earth's surface at any moment (one terawatt equals 1,000,000,000,000 watts) .

370 - number of terawatts available from wind power.

15 - That's our current energy consumption in terawatts. Almost 6,000 times less than what is available from the sun and wind. That's not even counting ocean power, geothermal and hydro power. And don't forget the massive amount of efficiency gains we've seen in just the last year.

If those numbers aren't that clear maybe the image is, the sun reigns down more energy every second than we could even imagine using. This is why I'm such a big proponent of solar energy, it is a neverending source of power. Look, for millenia now humans have done all they could to escape the fucking sun: buildings, air conditioners, umbrellas, trees, hell anything with a roof. That should let you know how powerful of an entity we're dealing with.

I'm not knocking wind power as it truly has advantages but I worry about the functionality 20 years from now if a windy area experiences climate changes and wind becomes useless. But that is a problem for the future (and we seem to be very good at putting those off).

89,000 fucking terrawatts, are you kidding me? And here's the kicker, its all free. Nobody charges you to sit in the backyard and lap up sun and nobody charges companies to harness the sun's free energy to convert to power and sell. Its like running a business selling shirts but instead of buying or making your product you walk into work and everyday all the racks are full with new items.

Somebody is gonna make a whole hell of a lot of money on solar power cause their input costs are solely the infrastructure it takes to harness and sell the product. No mining, no drilling, no burning, no reprocessing, no shipping, take out all of those charges and imagine what happens to the price of electricity. I'll let you economics experts figure that out.

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Game On!

Welcome our newest writer Anthony Lopez to the StifledMind crew, he's currently working towards his MD and has a few thoughts to share, enjoy...

I weep for the quiet passage back into greatness this country could have had, but I weep also for my own naivety in thinking such was possible. I refer of course to the new "scandal" involving Sen. Obama's pastor. I am not going to go into a long winded discussion here about the silliness of all of this, or the evil of de-contextualizing a spiritual sermon and condemning a man for attending a church different from yours (especially one as prominent or crucial to its community as Trinity United Church of Christ). If I was going to my arguments would be somewhere along the line of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount being equally socially inflammatory, or Obama not being responsible for his pastors words, or perhaps if I was feeling really salty a discussion about whether the comments were true and thus not negative at all.

No, what I want to say here is that something like this happening was inevitable and those of us who know what the Senator from Illinois is all about will simply have to ramp up the fight to get him elected. Up to this point it has been an unimaginable cake walk, carried forward solely on the shoulders of Obama's veracity and charisma. The lay of the land has changed now.

This is our country. This is 21st Century America. Did we forget that? Ignorance, Complacency and Fear are at the Absolute height of their Power. Fox News continues still to spew there well-poisoning filth into the ether unchecked. Corporations continue still to consolidate their hold on individual destiny and possibility. The assault against free thought, Ideas, Truth and general Intellectualism continues still. These are the points of the spears wielded by the prevailing Power in our society. And No Power dies Quietly.

Many of us had, like me, foolishly hoped that the powers that be would give up their hold on our people without a fight, that they would just sit back, smile and let this little black man from Hawaii lead his people into a new age. We were fooled by their momentary hesitation to attack Sen. Obama into thinking that they had just given up. Wrong we were. Everyone was shocked at first that such a man could ascend. Our oppressors lost their footing in a world that would let such a man exist, but now their balance is regained, and the beast that we had hoped would destroy itself has woken up angry.

What I am trying to say in my own flowery liberal way, is that this War just started. This election, this choice that will decide the future of our society has just become real. If you have felt the Love and Truth that Sen. Obama carries behind his eyes, now is the time to raise your voice and make sure that he is not destroyed by those who would have our country fall into darkness. Now is the time fight back against the Philosophy that is eroding our liberties, tarnishing our purpose, and destroying this countries hopes of future prosperity. Now is the time to say "I am a free person, and I will not be led into madness and hate without a fight. I will not let myself be convinced of a lie despite my better judgment and what I know to be True." Now is the Time. Our Democracy is at stake. Just ours. The World is stable enough now that it will turn with or without America's supervision, and will prosper with or without America's consent.

This great journey has just begun. Our future is still unwritten. We may still lose all that we've gained, but we may still emerge victorious. Make no mistake, this is War of an earnest sincerity the like of which this country has never faced, from foreign enemies or otherwise. Those of you who stand with me behind Sen. Obama know whats at stake.

What side are you on?

More After the Fold...


March 27, 2008

Stop The Double Standard For Green Cars

Seems like a whole lot of people (I'm looking at you Big Media) are obsessed with whether or not that hybrid/plug in hybrid/electric car will "pay for itself" with fuel savings. How about this example; "The payoff for plug-in hybrids: 95 years?".

I hear claims about car "X" will save you money and so naturally you will want to examine that claim. I really have no problem with that, but it irks me that it seems like the whole freakin point of green(er) transportation is saving money, and that its the yardstick to measure all new green cars. Since when do cars pay for themselves?

When people upgrade to the V8 or sunroof where are the people asking whether it will pay for itself? Why are people allowed to make personal choices on aesthetics or performance without having to justify themselves? But people who want lower emissions, or enjoy driving an electric, or want to encourage new cleaner technology, are asked to make a financial case?

At least the extra money spent of a more efficient vehicle will partly pay for itself. Lets stop the double standard unless the question really is "will it pay for itself?"

More After the Fold...



This is just ridiculous. This girl's parent's decided that rather than take their daughter to the doctor, 11 years old and dying, they would simply pray for her health. As their little girl faded into an easily preventable diabetic coma, they idly stood by and trusted to "faith." This is neglect, in its most obvious form. Andrew Hauch, StifledMind's Senior Diabetes Correspondent, examined the case:

Given the girl’s age (11 years old) and the autopsy’s revelation in which there was a lack of insulin, it is almost certain that the girl was afflicted with Type I Diabetes. To help understand further, this lack of insulin originates from the pancreatic beta cells’ inability to produce adequate insulin. Without insulin, blood glucose is free-flowing throughout the body’s circulatory system and cannot be absorbed into cells and utilized for fuel. Thus, the body requires fat metabolism through beta oxidation to generate fuel for cells. In turn, a highly acidic environment falling outside of the optimal pH spectrum of the human body (pH 7.4-7.8) is created through ketoacidosis (beta oxidation produces a family of acidic byproducts called ketones-- more specifically in this case --acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate). Once the body’s pH falls outside of this range for a prolonged period of time, tissue necrosis is inevitable leading to diabetic coma or even death. All of this could have been impeded by simple insulin injections.
Ok, so he's no MD, but honestly, can you argue with that? I can't. Seems freakin' stupid to ignore everything your eyes and ears have taught you for however many years, and trust blindly in an old book.

I'm not trying to start some "War on Religion" here. Don't call Bill O'Reily on me. I can understand and even respect a person's spirituality, whatever its form, but certain secular realities do demand a little attention. I need to eat to live. Praying doesn't feed me. Following these parents' logic, I could wander onto the express way and "pray" that God would miraculously cause the speeding semi to vanish. God isn't your "get out of jail free" card people. Life comes with responsibilities. Man up.

More After the Fold...


Holy Crap

This is amazing.

I have too much free time....

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Solar Needs Space, Good Thing We Have It!

I hear a lot of moaning from the anti-solar crowd about how much space it takes to build a truly powerful plant (I'll refrain from saying the obvious about how Death Valley really isn't that useful anyway, oops I guess I did say it). Anyway, what about this idea? On all of those commercial big box buildings lets put solar cells on the roofs to turn that into a productive space.

Well less than a year after announcing it would build the biggest solar project in the world, California is poised to take an even larger chunk of the renewable pie and produce 250-megawatts of power from rooftop installations.

The project will be distributed among many commercial rooftops, starting with southern California's Inland Empire, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The 250-megawatt goal is 170 more megawatts than was planned in the Cleantech installation.

Beginning in August the plan is to install 1 megawatt a week until 65,000,000 square feet of commercial rooftop space is supplying power to the equivalent of 162,000 homes. The total cost will be $825M and is expected to take 5 years to complete.

"These are the kinds of big ideas we need to meet California's long-term energy and climate change goals," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "I urge others to follow in their footsteps. If commercial buildings statewide partnered with utilities to put this solar technology on their rooftops, it would set off a huge wave of renewable energy growth."

This will go a long way towards California's mandate that 20% of the electricity used by generated through renewable means by 2010.

More After the Fold...


My Life With Bipolar Disorder

I have a confession to make. I live with bipolar disorder, a category of psychological mood disorders. You may recognize it by its former name, manic-depressive disorder. So some recent news that a startup company is now selling a bipolar genetic test ($399) startled me. In my years of dealing (and not dealing) with my disorder I have learned a lot regarding the physiology and progression of the disease and a claim like this scares me.

Dr. John Kelsoe is the designer of the test and after researching for years he identified several gene mutations closely related to the disease. These breakthroughs are no doubt very significant for the identification and treatment of bipolar disorder but they do bring up some very serious questions that the medical profession must answer.

Many public health officials, medical ethicists, and doctors are troubled by the proliferation of such tests. They receive almost no government oversight, and even though many are being sold as tools for making serious medical decisions they are built on thin data. It really is a double edged sword as openness and sharing are very powerful paths down the road to medical discovery, but at the same time a premature test preys on individuals' deepest anxieties.

Kelsoe himself acknowledges that bipolar disorder probably results from a combination of genetic factors and life experiences, and that the presence of these gene variations does not at all mean that someone will, in fact, develop the disease. He admits, too, that his findings about the genetic basis of the illness are far from complete.

But he said his test is a vital starting point toward moving away from the notoriously tricky practice of diagnosing bipolar disorder based purely on a person's behavior.

"The goal of this is to try and help doctors make an accurate diagnosis more quickly so the patient can be treated appropriately," Kelsoe said. "Anything is going to help, even if it just helps a little bit."

This diagnosis help is very useful but should be performed by licensed medical professionals who are capable of making a diagnosis on observation and testing. Making these kits available for home tests only raises fears and self-diagnosis problems. And unfortunately this is a very serious disorder to be putting people at fear of having.

Through my years I've learned the effects of the disease and learned, through medication and diet, how to manage my cycles. Unfortunately this is not the case with many people and realizing you have a problem is very hard. The feelings that you have and urges and emotions that drive them are so ingrained in the being of a person that it is hard to tell if you are outside of the universal consciousness of the population. I didn't realize my own self-destructive behavior until I really sat down with a friend and discussed how we felt and observed things and I began to realize that I process things differently.

As with any psychological disorder, bipolar is a powerful and all encompassing problem. You can never escape your inner thoughts and you must train yourself to see through the eyes of normality and push away a lot of the noise that your brain creates. Racing thoughts and delusions are just a part of my life that I must live with and then learn how to incorporate that into the "real" world. All of my interactions, from friends, girlfriends, parents and strangers have been influenced by my disorder and I have thrown many a good relationship to the curb under the pretenses that I would be better for it, only to find out I was running from having to deal with these problems.

It is a problem that I do not wish on anybody and something I will have to deal with until I squeeze the last breath from my body, but until we learn more about the disease lets keep the diagnosis with the professionals.

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Clinton's Pants Aflame, No One Notices (Updated)

Freakin hilarious post at Kos by Tripletee. This is a reference to the recent uproar over some claims Clinton made about her international experiences which turned out to be slightly less than true. Clinton originally claimed, on several instances, that a trip to Bosnia as the First Lady read like a Rambo movie. Running from sniper fire and ducking into armored convoys etc. But oops, there were, you know, video cameras and (gasp) other people on that trip, and they remember a slightly different version. Poems and photo-opps, rather than bullets and adrenaline.

Ok, now why does this matter?

Clinton has based her campaign for the nations highest offices upon the notion that she possesses the greatest depth of knowledge and experience, stemming from her years in the White House at Bill's side. She has argued that Obama is unfit for that office because he has not crossed that infamous "commander-in-chief threshold," whatever that may be. Yet, if she is fudging the facts on her record, in the area that is supposedly her biggest strength, does that not raise some important questions about her qualifications and character?

Edit: Further evidence of Hillary maybe, kinda exaggerating her accomplishments.

More After the Fold...


March 26, 2008

Thanks Mexico

Mexico was burning some trash and here are the results! Texans woke up to ash and dust covering vehicles and anything left outside. Large plumes of smoke escaped high into the atmosphere and were pushed all across the state. The images are from my front driveway.

Here's a video from the weather channel about the event.

More After the Fold...


McCain's Policy to Double the Price of Electricity

The John McSame campaign continued its march of ignorance this week with a deeply insightful diatribe about climate and national policy. In an interview with E&E News (sub. req'd) the campaign tossed out some info that should really make you question whether the Senator from Arizona could successfully take on the threat of global warming and climate change.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a McCain campaign policy adviser, dropped a few incredibly stupid ideas on the American public, I don't know which one is worse.

1. "The basic idea is if you go with a cap and trade and do it right with appropriate implementation, you don't need technology-specific and sectoral policies that are on the books and that others are proposing

Unfortunately Holtz-Eakin is wrong, and without an aggressive technology development/deployment effort (especially in the transportation sector), a cap & trade system will fail because of the economic strain it will place on America. And what about the explicit statement that McCain opposes "technology-specific and sectoral policies that are on the books" if we have a cap & trade?

How many people who truly care about climate change, other than Sen. McCain, think we are truly pushing clean technologies and transportation too hard? We already know that he doesn't support renewable technology tax credits that have been on the books for years, far before we had a cap & trade policy. This is an especially jaw-dropping statement given that even the delayers themselves have been saying we need a bigger clean tech push for years.

2. Holtz-Eakin called into question the Democratic candidates calls for a new federal low carbon fuel limit, stronger fuel economy standards and policies to reduce US oil consumption. Cap & trade was spouted as the ideal solution by itself and when asked whether McCain would block new corporate average fuel economy requirements that Bush signed into law last December, Holtz-Eakin said, "He's not proposing to eliminate those. He simply wants to check as time goes on if they become completely irrelevant. You might want to take them off the books [!!!], but we're not there yet." (emphasis mine)

In the Energy Information Administration's own analysis of using a cap & trade system to reduce emissions, a good economic model of McCain's strategy because it doesn't capture technology deployment strategies or fuel economy standards, the price of carbon hits a politically impossible level, $348 per metric ton, which, in the EIA analysis, doubles the price for electricity.

3. "You don't need redundant policies that interfere with the flexibility that is the key to meeting these desirable goals at low costs," Beyond a cap & trade "he wants to see the use of nukes. The ultimate policy proposal will be designed to make sure that's true."

The hypocrisy blows my mind. I'll keep it short but taking out "redundant policies" that push clean energy while ramming a very expensive nuclear technology down our throats? A nonpartisan Keystone report "Nuclear Power Joint Fact-Finding" (June 2007) found nuclear "power isn't cheap: 8.3 to 11.1 cents per kilo-watt hour." And as a study by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) found, nuclear power plant costs have soared in the last couple of years. And, of course, nuclear power has a major supply bottleneck, that will inevitably drive up costs for any country that wants to rapidly accelerate the construction of nuclear power plants.

Those are the facts, and unfortunately it has been proven time and again that the McCain campaign is unconcerned with the facts (sounds a little too much like Bush for my liking). From creationism, vaccination, economic policy, hell damn near everything, the guy refuses to sit down and look at the observed evidence and facts surrounding issues. This scares the shit out of me as I'll be paying for a mistake we made concerning facts in Iraq for the rest of my life. I don't want to go down that same road and I'm afraid that's all McCain offers.

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Ice Shelf Collapses Amid Warming

Yesterday scientists said Antarctica's Wilkins Ice Shelf has started to collapse in a fast-warming region of the continent. According to the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center the collapsed area measured about 160 square miles.

In a telephone interview with Reuters, Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center said, "block after block of ice is just tumbling and crumbling into the corner of it that's exposed to the ocean is shattering in a pattern that we've seen in a few places over the past 10 or 15 years. In every case, we've eventually concluded that it's a result of climate warming."

There you have it, another crazy scientist spouting the dangers of global warming like the crazy alarmists they are. Like a part of Antarctica is just going to fall into the ocean, wait....

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March 25, 2008

300 Million Dead

Sit in a room full of collegiate liberals and expound on the disastrous conduct of the wasteful war in Iraq, and no one will applaud. It used to be that voicing your objections to an unjust war got clapped, but nowadays, it's old hat. Even people who once supported the war are backing away from it (although it's rare for them to plainly say "I was wrong"), and the futility of the war has simply lapsed into the status of a given. It has become the background noise of our country. Protest has been ground out of us by the dreary dun of corruption and destruction and the unresponsiveness of our government — we are in a democracy with a large majority opposed to the war, to no effect and with no expectation that our representatives will actually act to end the killing.

So now we've reached a nice round milestone of 4,000 dead in Iraq. 4,000 dead American soldiers, that is; it's almost as if the two orders of magnitude greater number of slaughtered Iraqis, the millions of refugees, the destruction of an entire country, simply don't matter and don't count. Americans find it hard to gather outrage over thousands of our own dead, and tens of thousands wounded, and they sure as hell aren't going to get stirred up over hundreds of thousands of dead foreigners.

As a nation, we stand atop a pedestal of bones and ruined lives. The disruption of families is ongoing, and our honor has been thrown away by the greed and ignorance of our leaders. And yet we carry on as if nothing is happening, nothing is wrong, no action need be taken. We will have an election, and one of the candidates stands for amplifying our involvement in this evil chaos … and he stands a chance of winning. The monsters who have perpetrated this crime will walk away to fat retirement checks and lives of wealth in the service of bloated corporate sponsors, and they will not pay — you will.

We all have blood on our hands, and no one cares.

Once, four dead in Ohio could stir us. Now, four thousand dead, a hundred thousand dead, it doesn't matter … we have all become dead inside.

(From Pharyngula)

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Tribute of Accountability

Very powerful image here.

When will we end the criminal waste of blood and treasure George and John's adventure in the sandbox has caused?

Thoughts and prayers for the Fallen.

Bring the rest home safe and soon.

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Uber Fail by the Anti-Vaccinationists

I was searching around for some flu information at work dealing with an NIH project I have and my google search turned up some pretty freakin scary results. One of the first hits, "Building a Child's Immunity the Natural Way" is so fundamentally wrong about all matters medical that it took a while for me to read through it. It starts off really bad.

New Jersey's Public Health Council gave its citizens a Christmas present that will not please the health-conscious, as it became the first state in the nation to require flu shots for preschoolers.

So being "health-conscious" now means your are anti-mandatory vaccinations. What the fu...
Vaccines are dangerous for the health of any individual, but when administered to small children in their important developmental years, they are especially damaging. Medical "experts" have not even determined the correct dosages for small children, who in this regard are not just small adults. When we talk about daycare, we are talking about babies as young as a few months of age. Additionally, not only do vaccines usually contain mercury, but many lack effectiveness and can cause problems with the development of the child's natural immune system (emphasis mine).

Look, I'm not going to address all of the anti-vaccination canards present in this piece, other than refer you to other excellent sources. Two things really get me though: lies, and this "immunity" thing.

Even if the evidence of a relationship between vaccine use and autism is disregarded, there are more debilitating results of vaccine administration to children. Due to the availability of new health information, a growing number of scientists and doctors have realized the problems revealed by recent immunology research and have begun to challenge the foundational tenets of vaccination. Because it seems that vaccines have eradicated many diseases in the last 100 years, many doctors have been reticent to question them. Such claims have mainly been based on epidemic studies rather than on clinical evidence.

For example, Europe never used the polio vaccines, yet it experienced the same rise and fall of polio cases as did the U.S.

That, my dear reader, is a lie. OK, if you are being generous, it is just ignorance, but I find it hard to be generous, given a 3 second stop at google will take you over to the World Health Organization and explain its polio eradication campaign in Europe. After a lie like that, it's hard to believe anything that follows.
Also, many diseases that were believed to be wiped out have re-appeared under different names. As an example, spinal meningitis and polio have almost the same exact symptoms. There have never been any studies that proved the vaccines actually did cause the eradication of any disease; it has only been assumed by the fact that that the epidemics seemed to have ceased. The CDC uses the concept that a relationship does not prove causality to downplay the autism-thimerosal link, yet ironically, they don't apply the same standard to the relationship between vaccination usage and the end of an epidemic.

That isn't just "moving the goalposts"; that's digging them up, burning them, and scattering the ashes. We all know epidemiologic studies have their limitations, but it's pretty clear to the scientific community, beyond a reasonable doubt, that vaccines successfully prevent disease. (By the way, "spinal meningitis" and polio are completely unalike, and, believe it or not, we actually have tests to tell us what organism is causing an infection. Welcome to the early 20th century!)
All vaccines depress our immune functions. The chemicals in the vaccines depress our immune system; the virus present depresses immune function; and the foreign DNA/RNA from animal tissues depresses immunity. Studies have found that some metabolic functions were significantly reduced after vaccinations were given and did not return to normal for months. Other indicators of immune system depression included reduced lymphocyte viability, neutrophil hyper-segmentation, and a reduced white cell count. So we are trading a small immune depression for immunity to one disease, our only defense against all known disease for a temporary immunity against one disease, usually an innocuous childhood disease. Vaccines have been linked to AIDS and other immunodeficient disorders as well. The trade-off is not at all fair and not worth the risk.

Wow. This is so damned stupid. And dangerous. First, what does this phrase "immune depression" mean? I don't know. They do give a hint futher down, throwing around big words like "neutrophil hypersegmentation" but that's pretty meaningless as an observation, and without references is completely useless. Then the nice scare tactic of vaccines and AIDS. Nice. Really nice. OK, time to explain how vaccines actually work.
Vaccines and the Immune System

This is really cool...much cooler than the cultists would like you to believe. It is teh uber-kool. And please forgive the over-simplification.

We need an example: let's take polio vaccine---you know, the one they never used in Europe when the WHO wiped out polio in Europe. We have two choices, but the one we use the most in N.A. and Europe is the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). Both of the polio vaccines have advantages and disadvantages, but hey, I only have so much time.

To make IPV, polio viruses are grown in the lab, then "inactivated" with a chemical. This renders them non-infectious. Then they are injected under the skin, which is where the fun starts...

When the inactivated viruses enter the tissues, immune cells patrolling the area detect foreign chemicals, usually proteins. (Viruses are not living organisms, but basically little bits of RNA or DNA and protein.) These cells engulf the invading viruses, process the parts, and actually display them on their surface, like a sign. Other cells (T-cells) come by, and if any of them happens to be able to read this sign, they get very excited. These cells, by various mechanisms, pass the news of the specific invader on to B-cells, which then mature and start making antibodies that are specific to the polio virus. This takes a few weeks. After this initial introduction of polio to the immune system, the antibody reaction dies down, and a few of these now-polio-specific B-cells go into hibernation in the spleen, lymph nodes, gut, and other nooks and crannies.

Let's fast forward a few years. You are about to go on your dream vacation to Uganda. You've been warned about sporatic cases of polio in the area. You have every intention of avoiding unpurified water and uncooked foods, but nobody's perfect. One night at dinner you accidentally eat the salad. They guy who made the salad just returned from the outhouse, which doesn't have a sink. Eww. In his stool were some polioviruses. These were deposited on his hands, then into your salad, and ultimately into your gut. I hope it was a good salad.

When the virus reaches the gut, it latches onto the intestine. Some of your immune cells recognize it, and start the same process that happened when you were vaccinated. Except you have those clever little "memory B-cells" left over from your vaccination, so instead of the immune reaction taking weeks to ramp up, it takes hours. Your B-cells start dividing and producing antibodies and secreting various important chemicals. The antibodies mark cells infected with polio with a big sign that says "kill me", and the soldiers of the immune system march in and do just that.

If it weren't for your vaccine, the antibody response would have taken too long, and you would have become infected. Chances are you would get lucky and suffer nothing worse than a "stomach flu". Or you could end up paralyzed.

So, when I read idiotic trash like the above article, I get really, really mad. All these years of science, medicine, and public health pumped into the sewer in favor of cult medicine bullshit. They should be ashamed. But of course, they have no shame.

More After the Fold...


March 24, 2008

Miseducation of America

Wow, I almost threw up watching this. Unfortunate really that a bright group of kids is going to have to deal with some issues about this later in life because their parents want confirmation of their own beliefs.

And I really have no problem with religion, I actually attended Easter Mass yesterday (maybe one of the all-time peruasive arguments by a girl) but I believe an understanding of science and religion is not mutually exclusive. And how do I know that teeth evolved from scales you ask? How do I know? Well...

"It has been contended that Reif's odontode regulation theory is a rival and alternative to Stensio and Orvig's lepidomorial theory as means of explaining the evolution of development of the vertebrate dermal and oral skeleton. The lepidomorial theory is a pattern-based theory that provides a homological framework that goes further than the odontode regulation theory in comparing dental papillae and their products, and it provides an explanatory mechanism for such relationships a posteriori. In contrast, the odontode regulation theory is process-based and observes only developmental similarity providing no means of identifying homologies beyond this. The lepidomorial theory is superior to the odontode regulation theory in its ability to trace homology through the evolution of development of the dermal and oral skeleton. The criteria proposed to identify homology between scales-either within a given individual or taxon, or between different individuals or taxa-are, primarily, vascular architecture and, secondarily, external morphology. External morphology may be excluded on Reif's argument for the overarching principle of differentiation, a hypothesis supported by recent advances in the understanding of dental morphogenesis. Vascular architecture is potentially useful but appears to be determined by tooth/scale morphology rather than reflecting historical (phylogenetic) constraint. Data on the development of epithelial appendages, including teeth, scales, and feathers, indicate that individual primordia develop through progressive differentiation of originally larger, homogenous morphogenetic fields. Thus, there is no mechanism of ontogenetic developmental concrescence, just differentiation." Read the full article here (has some great references).

If that doesn't scream empirical evidence and rational deduction based on a body of data then I don't know what does. And when it comes down to it, that is science, the collection of empirical evidence. A lot of theories get thrown out and many get shot down, but over time the data from experiments doesn't change and eventually a theory encompassing the whole of the body of data will arise to explain the underlying mechanisms.

Pay careful attention to what the curator of the museum says at about the 5:20 mark. "Without evolution the whole of biology does not make sense." That seems like a pretty bold statement, but one that you will find little argument with in any biology professor's office or research lab. Evolution is the framework for every life science there is, it is inescapable regardless of your religious views. Your physician, pharmacist, psychiatrist, hell even your landscaper all rely on evolutionary theory to drive their understanding of their craft. Here's one example for the stupid emails I'm gonna get saying "show me one example." Ok, methyllin resistance Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is about to surpass AIDS as the number one killer around the world because it has EVOLVED the ability to resist almost all antibiotics we use. God did not create this bacteria and it did not exist 100 years ago, and we can show you from where it evolved. And in the future we're going to have to learn a whole hell of a lot more about its evolutionary tacticts to defeat it.

More After the Fold...


So I Bitch About Water All The Time

But maybe a picture is worth more than all of my words. Special thanks to Philippe Rekacewicz for putting this together with data from the WHO and UNICEF.

More After the Fold...