Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Household fingerprint locks are here

Yet another sign of the rapidly approaching future:

Splitting electoral votes...moronic

Ridiculous piece mentioned by my favorite polisci blog here. California is thinking of splitting its Electoral College votes by congressional district! As is pointed out, the flaw:
is the fact that the congressional districts in most states have been gerrymandered and usually in a way that radically over-represents one of the two parties–this is certainly the case in California, where a large number of the districts are “safe” for either the Democrats or the Republicans.
I agree with Dr. Taylor, the Electoral college is outdated, fundamentally patronizing at the outset, and distorting of the people's will. The most insidious effect, however, is the fact that a Democratic vote in Texas (as Dr. Taylor put it), or a Republican vote in California, is essentially only symbolic. I think that the Electoral College has contributed to the United States' low voting rates by devaluing the act of voting. The futility of voting for a congressman in a gerrymandered district or a president in a one-colour state has fundamentally eroded the confidence of the average American in his/her ballot.

The insidious bioidentical hormone scam

I'm not sure if anyone's ever heard of bioidentical hormones, but apparently Suzane Somers has been touting them for some time, even on the Larry King show.

I read an interesting piece in the magazine skeptic today, that brought this insane situation to the fore. The article notes that the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study, which initially raised concerns about hormone therapy, has been:
misrepresented and misinterpreted. Media reports gave the impression that HRT was killing women. Not so. Over 10,000 person-years, women on estrogen plus progestin had 7 more coronary events, 8 more strokes, 8 more pulmonary emboli, and 8 more invasive breast cancers than women who didn’t take hormones; but they also had 6 fewer colorectal cancers and 5 fewer hip fractures, and the same number of deaths overall.

So women weren’t dying because of HRT, but they were increasing their risk of some diseases while reducing their risk of others. Overall the risks exceeded the benefits. Current recommendations are to use HRT for a limited time only to control menopausal symptoms, and not to use it for disease prevention. Most of us think these recommendations will be altered in the future as we learn more about risk factors and genetic susceptibility. Meanwhile, we try to individualize advice: your doctor is more likely to recommend HRT if you are at very low risk of cardiovascular disease and at high risk of osteoporosis or colorectal cancer.
The problem with estrogen, or any hormone therapy, is that the hormones hit all of the hormone receptors in the body. The problem is that some hormone receptors (notably in the bone, gut, and vagina), react positively from a therapeutic point of view, while others (notably heart, vascular system, and breast) could create serious problems. These are all estrogen how do bioidentical hormone advocates claim that their hormones will only activate the good hormone receptors but not the bad? They cant. This is complicated by the fact that:
there are lots of different estrogenic compounds found in the body, including estriol, estradiol and estrone. Nothing we do is likely to replace all the estrogenic compounds in exactly the way they occur in the body.
Ok, so basically its a complex situation, the human body isn't simple. I think everyone can understand that. The hormone drugs that were studied in WHI were Premarin and Provera, and they are now dosed at much lower amounts and for shorter periods as a result of WHI (gynecologists love them, by the way, laughing at the overly wary nature of other specialties). However, some bioidentical advocates preposterously claim that:
Premarin and Provera, the drugs studied in the WHI study, are artificial and harmful, while bioidentical hormones are natural and harmless.
(for evidence of this claim, see here)

Why, you ask, is it preposterous to claim that natural, wonderful, lovely hormones are not as they seem? Well, bioidentical doesnt really mean anything scientifically, but it has become a catchy moniker for this 'new wave' hormone therapy that nicely jives with popular culture going green. But the golden nugget, the truly awesome part, is that bioidenticals are synthesized in a laboratory....from plants!

Again I feel a confusion from my 4 readers...plants are surely a natural source of estrogen, why would I mock them? Well, the answer lies in Premarin's name.

You see, pharmaceutical companies are laughably terrible at coming up with names. Premarin is simply a contraction of 'pregnant mare's urine'. Yes my readers, Premarin is simply condensed, purified urine from a pregnant member of the equine species, a mammal. It contains 30 different estrogenic compounds...seems to me a hell of a lot more natural than estrogen produced in plant cells under laboratory conditions.

Perhaps Suzanne Somers and the rest of these morons are working from an alternative evolutionary tree than everyone else?

Is this going too far? or is this justice?

An unusual case, that's for sure.

A Philadelphia-area DA has not ruled out pressing murder charges against William J. Barnes after the coroner ruled the death of a 64-year old stemmed from complications of a shooting....41 years ago. The somewhat ridiculous story can be found here.

I guess I have to defer to professional judgement here, but it seems extremely dubious to me that anyone can possibly draw a connection between a shooting 41 years ago and a death today. There is one particular exception, however. I think if the bullet remained in the victim, then there is potential for the bullet's subsequent movement around the body to cause further damage. If perhaps the bullet had lodged itself in his spine (probable since the man had become a paraplegic), then perhaps his death could have been caused by the bullet nicking the axon of a crucial neuron. Or maybe it compressed a coronary artery and caused a blood clot.

Regardless, you also get to an interesting double jeopardy question. The article is not clear, but if Barnes had served time for attempted murder then maybe you could say he could not be convicted of a contradictory crime (under the argument that he couldn't have committed the murder since he had already been convicted of failing to commit the murder).

This is it

I'm starting. No grandiose explanations of purpose or any of that bs.

First cool thing...jet art.
Check it out here.