"Two female students are demanding their rights after they were banned from bathing topless at a swimming pool in Uppsala. If girls are forced to wear bikinis, boys should be too, one of the women told The Local.
Ragnhild Karlsson, 22, and her friend Kristin Karlsson, 21, live on the same corridor in a student residence in the university town. On September 5th they took a trip to the Fyrishov leisure complex, where they decided to hop in for a swim without their bikini tops.
..."It's a question of equality. I think it's a problem that women are sexualized in this way. If women are forced to wear a top, shouldn't men also have to?"
The two friends said they were surprised when they were approached by the lifeguards.
"We thought it was against the law to treat people differently," said Ragnhild Karlsson, who is studying to be a speech therapist. Her friend Kristin aims to practice occupational therapy.
Staff at the pool later referred to studies showing that crimes of a sexual nature were particularly common in swimming pool environments.
"Surely women should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they need protecting. And is it not strange that women should somehow bear responsibily for sex crimes carried out by men," said Ragnhild Karlsson."
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Can a High-Fat Diet Beat Cancer? - TIME:
"...Since early 2007, Dr. Melanie Schmidt and biologist Ulrike Kämmerer, both at the Würzburg hospital, have been enrolling cancer patients in a Phase I clinical study of a most unexpected medication: fat. Their trial puts patients on a so-called ketogenic diet, which eliminates almost all carbohydrates, including sugar, and provides energy only from high-quality plant oils, such as hempseed and linseed oil, and protein from soy and animal products.
What sounds like yet another version of the Atkins craze is actually based on scientific evidence that dates back more than 80 years. In 1924, the German Nobel laureate Otto Warburg first published his observations of a common feature he saw in fast-growing tumors: unlike healthy cells, which generate energy by metabolizing sugar in their mitochondria, cancer cells appeared to fuel themselves exclusively through glycolysis, a less-efficient means of creating energy through the fermentation of sugar in the cytoplasm...
To the two researchers in Würzburg, the theoretical debate about what is now known as the Warburg effect — whether it is the primary cause of cancer or a mere metabolic side effect — is irrelevant. What they believe is that it can be therapeutically exploited. The theory is simple: If most aggressive cancers rely on the fermentation of sugar for growing and dividing, then take away the sugar and they should stop spreading. Meanwhile, normal body and brain cells should be able to handle the sugar starvation; they can switch to generating energy from fatty molecules called ketone bodies — the body's main source of energy on a fat-rich diet — an ability that some or most fast-growing and invasive cancers seem to lack.
...Others, says Schmidt, dropped out because they found it hard to stick to the no-sweets diet: "We didn't expect this to be such a big problem, but a considerable number of patients left the study because they were unable or unwilling to renounce soft drinks, chocolate and so on."
The good news is that for five patients who were able to endure three months of carb-free eating, the results were positive: the patients stayed alive, their physical condition stabilized or improved and their tumors slowed or stopped growing, or shrunk. These early findings have elicited "very positive reactions and an increased interest from colleagues," Kämmerer says, while cautioning that the results are preliminary and that the study was not designed to test efficacy, but to identify side effects and determine the safety of the diet-based approach..."
Friday, September 21, 2007
3PM That Goes Double for You, Bob
Manager: Okay, bitches. At this beach party I want y'all to take care of business down South. I don't want no hairy pussy to attack me while I'm tanning. [All female coworkers nod and walk away.]
New York, New York
Overheard by: coworker
via Overheard in the Office, Sep 21, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Holy Jesus above, who in their right mind thought this is gonna turn out well? "See, what we need to do is find way to further fracture them along religious lines..."
Stone's "peppy stalinism" [as described at the link] smacks of someone who's consumed entirely too much of the Kool Aid. Or has watched Dr Strangelove too many times, and didn't realize it was a comedy. I keep picturing George C. Scott, ranting about the Big Board.
"House of Wisdom"? "...rotten eggs... hiding in the Easter basket"?
Are you freaking kidding me?
Balloon Juice - Reeducation Camps:
"The U.S. military has introduced "religious enlightenment" and other education programs for Iraqi detainees, some of whom are as young as 11, Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, said yesterday.
Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to "bend them back to our will" and are part of waging war in what he called "the battlefield of the mind." Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the "House of Wisdom."
...The 25,000 detainees now being held in U.S. facilities in Iraq include more than 820 juveniles, Stone said, most of whom are held in the House of Wisdom, which opened last month and is located at the Camp Victory military base near Baghdad's airport. He said that six additional young people had been sent to him just yesterday, and that "the trend is towards the youth," including 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds. He described older juveniles -- the 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds -- as "harder nuts" and said that 50 to 60 of them have been removed from U.S. detention facilities and turned over to Iraqi authorities for trial.
...The new religious training, Stone said, helps U.S. forces pinpoint the hard-core extremists. "I want to know who they are," he said. "They're like rotten eggs, you know, hiding in the Easter basket.""
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Male cube rat: I need a word that rhymes with 'vaginal.'
Female cube rat #1: Why?
Male cube rat: I'm writing a poem.
Female cube rat #1: What kind of poem has the word 'vaginal' in it?
Male cube rat: Don't interrogate me. Just help me out.
Female cube rat #2: This poem isn't about me, is it?
Male cube rat: I'll bet Alfred Lord Tennyson didn't have to put up with a bunch of fucking questions.
Melville, New York
Overheard by: Big Larry
via Overheard in the Office, Sep 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Crooks and Liars » Leahy, Dodd Introduce Bill To Restore Habeas Corpus
"Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign is up with a radio ad in Iowa claming he is liberals' 'worst nightmare' - an effort to get early voters to think ahead to November when they caucus in January."
Little known fact... liberals real worst nightmare?
Nazi Robot Bear Assassins.
"A goon from the Something Awful forums nicknamed BSG (also: 'The Dwarf Knight') was born with diastrophic dysplasia, a form of Dwarfism. He's posted this great video to YouTube describing the gadgets and contraptions he uses to get dress every morning. It's both fascinating to see the hassle he goes through to perform relatively basic tasks and entertaining to see what a good sense of humor he has about everything."
"I am not a "conspiracy theorist," but, like any old newspaperman, I am a skeptic. In the years of my misspent youth as a reporter I saw police chiefs, mayors, newspaper executives, and other dignitaries lie and distort and suppress the truth. I am inclined to suspect that such is even more likely among the feds, for whom the stakes are much greater.
...I take this to be true: the politicians who wield the immense powers of the U.S. government will murder Americans if it serves their agenda and they can get away with. To think otherwise is to take an excessively naïve attitude toward Power. Those politicians have a lifetime record of self-serving and lack of moral principle – else they would not be where they are. Power corrupts. Power can only be checked by counter Power. The U.S. government exercises much power that is unchecked, unresponsible, and clandestine. This has been habitual and institutionalized at least since World War II.
...We know that politicians lied about the sinking of the "Maine," Pearl Harbour, the Gulf of Tonkin, Waco, and Iraqi WMD.
[Not to mention, in my lifetime alone - Watergate, Abscam, Iran-Contra, and of course, Bill Clinton's penis. - Rob]
...The most important point here is that Power is by its nature dangerous, acquisitive, and corrupting and must always be watched and questioned by people who wish to retain their freedom."
[Back up now though.]
Which makes me feel good, because it helps with my "people do NOT suck" argument, which I lose sight of.
Tiny girl's website - Boing Boing:
"Kenadie Jourdin-Bromley weighed 2 lbs, 8 ounces when she was born in February 2003. She was not expected to live more than a day, but she has survived.
She continued to defy doctors expectations and at the age of 8 months, Kenadie was finally diagnosed with primordial dwarfism, a genetic condition that is believed to affect only about 100 people in the world. She isn't expected to grow past about 30 inches or weigh more than 8 pounds.
Her special needs expenses are substantial. If you wish, you can help through a Paypal donation."
Monday, September 17, 2007
Unsurprisingly, cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias all around, on all sides.
Science is only as objective and unbiased as the people implementing the methodology. Which is to say... well, everybody can figure that bit out.
Much more at the link.
Epidemiological studies can come up with some crazy results, causing some critics to wonder if they're really worthwhile. - LA Times:
"...Such studies make headlines every day, and often, as the public knows too well, they contradict each other. One week we may hear that pets are good for your health, the next week that they aren't. One month, cellphone use causes brain cancer; the next month, it doesn't.
..."What about the man on the street?" asks Stan Young, a statistician at the National Institute of Statistical Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C. "He reads about coffee causing and not causing cancer -- so many contradictory findings he begins to think, 'I don't trust anything these scientists are saying.' "
These critics say the reason this keeps happening is simple: Far too many of these epidemiological studies -- in which the habits and other factors of large populations of people are tracked, sometimes for years -- are wrong and should be ignored.
In fact, some of these critics say, more than half of all epidemiological studies are incorrect.
...[the criticisms] are "quite simplistic and exaggerated," says Dr. Meir Stampfer, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
What's more, some things simply cannot be tested in randomized clinical trials.
...epidemiological studies have their minuses too, some of which are very well known. Suppose a study finds that coffee drinkers are more likely to get a certain disease. That doesn't mean coffee caused the disease. Other, perhaps unknown, factors (called "confounders" in the trade) that are unrelated to the coffee may cause it -- and if coffee drinkers are more likely to do this other thing, coffee may appear, incorrectly, to be the smoking gun.
...Despite their shortcomings, epidemiological studies are often taken seriously, so much so that they can change medical practice. Such was the case after dozens of epidemiological studies, including one large, frequently cited one that came out of Harvard in 1991, had shown that taking estrogen after menopause reduces the risk of women getting cardiovascular disease.
...Eventually, a randomized clinical trial was conducted, as part of the so-called Women's Health Initiative. Findings published in 2002 not only found no protection to the heart but actually reported some harm.
...In a provocative 2005 paper, Ioannidis examined the six most frequently cited epidemiological studies published from three major clinical journals between 1990 and 2003. He found that four of the six findings were later overturned by clinical trials.
...The studies that overturned each of these epidemiological findings, Ioannidis says, "caused major waves of surprise when they first appeared, because everybody had believed the observational studies. And then the randomized trials found something completely different."
...Why does this happen?
Young believes there's something fundamentally wrong with the method of observational studies -- something that goes way beyond that thorny little issue of confounding factors. It's about another habit of epidemiology some call data-mining.
Most epidemiological studies, according to Young, don't account for the fact that they often check many different things in one study. "They think it is fine to ask many questions of the same data set," Young says. And the more things you check, the more likely it becomes that you'll find something that's statistically significant -- just by chance, luck, nothing more...
Many epidemiologists do not agree with the critics' assertion that most epidemiological studies are wrong and that randomized studies are more reliable.
...Stampfer says, the two types of studies often test different things. "It's not an issue here that observational studies got it wrong and randomized trials got it right," he says, referring to the hormone replacement studies. "My view is that [both] were right and they were addressing different questions."
...Such arguments do not sway epidemiology's detractors.
Each time a study doesn't replicate, "they make a specific argument why the studies are different," Young says...
...The debate is unlikely to be resolved any time soon. "If you put five epidemiologists and five statisticians in a room and have this debate," Young says, "and try to get each one to convince the other side, at the end of the day it will still be five to five.""
Alan Greenspan claims Iraq war was really for oil - Times Online:
"...it is his view on the motive for the 2003 Iraq invasion that is likely to provoke the most controversy. “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil,” he says.
...Britain and America have always insisted the war had nothing to do with oil. Bush said the aim was to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and end Saddam’s support for terrorism."
What will they think of next?
Japanese Housewives Sweat in Secret as Markets Reel - New York Times:
"TOKYO, Sept. 15 — Since the credit crisis started shaking the world financial markets this summer, many professional traders have taken big losses. Another, less likely group of investors has, too: middle-class Japanese homemakers who moonlight as amateur currency speculators.
Ms. Itoh is one of them. Ms. Itoh, a homemaker in the central city of Nagoya, did not want her full name used because her husband still does not know. After cleaning the dinner dishes, she would spend her evenings buying and selling British pounds and Australian dollars.
When the turmoil struck the currency markets last month, Ms. Itoh spent a sleepless week as market losses wiped out her holdings. She lost nearly all her family’s $100,000 in savings.
“I wanted to add to our savings, but instead I got in over my head,” Ms. Itoh, 36, said.
...Indeed, online currency trading has become a phenomenon here, with a subculture of blogs, books and investing clubs for Japan’s legions of housewife-traders. The appeal, many of these women say, lies partly in the potential that online trading offered at least some financial independence for wives who still wanted to dutifully spend their days at home.
...The housewife-traders were so secretive that many market analysts did not realize how widespread the trend had become until this summer, when the police arrested a Tokyo housewife accused of failing to pay $1.1 million in taxes on her foreign exchange earnings.
...Still, some analysts point out that the $2.5 billion that Japanese individuals lost last month was just a fraction of a percent of the nation’s overall household savings.
...most of the half dozen homemaker-traders interviewed for this article said they were already trading again, and the rest said they soon would be — including Ms. Itoh, who said she would probably invest her remaining $1,000 in savings.
“There’s no other way to make money so quickly,” she said."
"Contractors." Like, you know, your friendly neighborhood roofer or plumber.
This soft, weak, deceptive political language annoys me to no end.
Iraq bans Blackwater mercenaries - Boing Boing:
"Iraq's Interior Ministry has banned Blackwater mercenary group. This is the organization 'founded by ultra-right-wing Christian conservatives and hires Pinochet-era Chilean war-criminals, ex-law-enforcement types, and former military.' (Aee Cory's post about Blackwater here.) According to Wikipedia, 'at least 90% of its revenue comes from government contracts, two-thirds of which are no-bid contracts.'
Iraq's Interior Ministry has revoked the license of Blackwater USA, an American security firm whose contractors are blamed for a Sunday gunbattle in Baghdad that left eight civilians dead. The U.S. State Department said it plans to investigate what it calls a 'terrible incident.'"
Crooks and Liars » Blackwater’s License Pulled By Iraqi Government Over Civilian Murders - May Face Charges:
"The Iraqi government said Monday that it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad. The Interior Ministry said it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force in the Sunday shooting. It was latest accusation against the U.S.-contracted firms that operate with little or no supervision and are widely disliked by Iraqis who resent their speeding motorcades and forceful behavior."
Crooks and Liars » Blackwater is part of Bremer’s Legacy: “The TROPHY Video”:
"A “trophy” video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the Internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal. The video, which first appeared on a website that has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services, contained four separate clips, in which security guards open fire with automatic rifles at civilian cars. All of the shooting incidents apparently took place on “route Irish”, a road that links the airport to Baghdad"
But the kicker is, as pointed out below, the "ban" will most likely have no effect.
The Iraq Blackwater Test : NO QUARTER:
"First problem. Blackwater does not have a license to operate in Iraq and does not need one. They have a U.S. State Department contract through Diplomatic Security. Instead of using Diplomatic Security officers or hiring new Security officers or relying on U.S. military personnel, the Bush Administration has contracted with firms like Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and others for people capable of conducting personnel security details. State Department is not about to curtail the contract with Blackwater, who is tightly wired into Washington. Plus, State Department simply does not have the bodies available to carry out the security mission.
Second problem. The Iraqi government has zero power to enforce a decision to oust a firm like Blackwater. For starters, Blackwater has a bigger air force and more armored vehicles then the Iraqi Army and police put together. As Spencer Ackerman reported, Blackwater’s little bird helicopter (an aircraft normally used by U.S. special operations forces) that was firing mini guns at Iraqi targets on the ground this past weekend.
I can only imagine how Americans would react if there were Russian, Chinese, Mexican, or French security firms running around the United States and getting into firefights in tough neighborhoods, such as South Central Los Angeles. We would just shrug our shoulders and say nothing. Right?
Yeah, that’s what I thought. This incident will enrage Iraqis and their subsequent realization that they are impotent to do anything about it will do little to support the fantasy that the surge is working. There are some Iraqis who genuinely want to run their own country. But we are not about to give them the keys to the car. Blackwater is staying."
"Did you see George all choked up? In his surreal TV talk on Thursday, he got all emotional over the killing by Al Qaeda of Sheik Abu Risha, the leader of the new Sunni alliance with the US against the insurgents in Anbar Province, Iraq.
...Here’s what you need to know that NPR won’t tell you.
1. Sheik Abu Risha wasn’t a sheik.
2. He wasn’t killed by Al Qaeda.
3. The new alliance with former insurgents in Anbar is as fake as the sheik - and a murderous deceit.
...Why was “sheik” Abu Risha so important? As the New York Times put it this morning, “Abu Risha had become a charismatic symbol of the security gains in Sunni areas that have become a cornerstone of American plans to keep large numbers of troops in Iraq though much of next year.”
In other words, Abu Risha was the PR hook used to sell the “success” of the surge.
The sheik wasn’t a sheik. He was a fake. While proclaiming to Rick that he was “the leader of all the Iraqi tribes,” Abu lead no one. But for a reported sum in the millions in cash for so-called, “reconstruction contracts,” Abu Risha was willing to say he was Napoleon and Julius Caesar and do the hand-shakie thing with Bush on camera.
...There are some real sheiks in Anbar, like Ali Hathem of the dominant Dulaimi tribe, who told Rick Abu Risha was a con man. Where was his tribe, this tribal leader? “The Americans like to create characters like Disney cartoon heros.” Then Ali Hathem added, “Abu Risha is no longer welcome” in Anbar.
...Within days, when Abu Risha returned from Dubai to Dulaimi turf in Ramadi, Bush’s hand-sheik was whacked.
On Thursday, Bush said Abu Risha was killed, “fighting Al Qaeda” - and the White House issued a statement that the sheik was “killed by al Qaeda.”
There ain’t no Easter Bunny and “Al Qaeda” ain’t in Iraq, Mr. Bush. It was very cute, on the week of the September 11 memorials, to tie the death of your Anbar toy-boy to bin Laden’s Saudi hijackers. But it’s a lie. Yes, there is a group of berserkers who call themselves “Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.” But they have as much to do with the real Qaeda of bin Laden as a Rolling Stones “tribute” band has to do with Mick Jagger.
...So who are these guys, the sheiks who lead the Sunni tribes of Anbar - the potentates of the Tamimi, Fallaji, Obeidi, Zobal and Jumaili tribes? Think of them as the Sopranos of Arabia. They are also members of the so-called “Awakening Council” - getting their slice of the millions handed out - which they had no interest in sharing with Risha.
But creepy and deadly or not, these capi of the desert were effective in eliminating “Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.” Indeed, as US military so proudly pointed out to Rick, the moment the sheiks declared their opposition to Al Qaeda - i.e. got the payments from the US taxpayers - Al Qaeda instantly diappeared.
This miraculous military change, where the enemy just evaporates, has one explanation: the sheiks ARE al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Just like the Sopranos extract “protection” payments from New Jersey businesses, the mobsters of Anbar joined our side when we laid down the loot."
"...This crack security staff was digging through my bag. They were concerned because I brought a microcontroller programmer. Actually, it wasn’t just the programmer, it was the 1 ohm resistor I had spliced in series with the power lead to measure current, and the 10 second RC filter I had placed across that to give my DMM a better chance of reading the average current.“Sir, this is an improvised electronic device. You will never be allowed to fly with this.”I responded to many questions with information about my occupation, circuit theory up to and including Ohm’s law, and a discussion of the market for bicycle power meters. But they still would not let me fly with the programmer. I had to leave it behind.
I was finally able to fly out ten hours later, with a brand-new-in-the-box MSP430 programmer. Apparently, it’s not “improvised” if it comes in a printed box."
A Colorful Slice of The Past - a photoset on Flickr:
"These scans come from my rather large magazine collection. Instead of filling my house with old moldy magazines, I scanned them (in most cases, photographed them) and filled a storage area with moldy magazines. Now they reside on an external harddrive. I thought others might appreciate these tidbits of forgotten history.
I have no political agenda. I am simply displaying a "slice" of the Social History of people of color in the 20th century as recorded by popular periodicals. You might notice many of the women shown are "lighter than a paper bag." As the fifties wore on that "interesting" trend started to change and all hues started to be depicted. As they say, history "is what it is." That fact, and some rather strange articles, is what I wish to share."
Hat tip Warren Ellis.
Doubtful I'll have the spare 77K anytime soon though. Very, very cool.
EarthRoamer XV-JP: Live-Aboard 4x4 Solar and Diesel Jeep - Boing Boing Gadgets:
"Each EarthRoamer XV-JP operates entirely off its diesel engine and integrated solar panel, providing hot water (heated from the engine block), an on-board toilet, a shower, lights, heating and cooling (by fan), and various other amenities, including a refrigerator. The water tanks and batteries are stowed under the frame to help maintain a low center of gravity. The top folds out into a tent with a queen-sized bed. Except for stops to occasionally empty the septic system and top off your water and fuel, you could go weeks without the need for any other modern convenience. Oh, and the whole thing has been blown out with aftermarket parts that can withstand off-road use.
Part of why the XV-JP pushes all my buttons is that it would be the perfect vehicle to use on a trip through Central and South America I've always wanted to take. Toss in a laptop, a DSLR, and a satellite internet connection (since money isn't a limitation, obviously) and I could putter around the jungle in my mobile off-road blogging platform."