Monday, December 29, 2008

Yes, more links

I have some things to say about parenting an autistic child but lately I've been so busy helping to actually do that parenting (along with my day job) that I haven't had a chance to blog about it. The good news is that everything's going great and B loved the holidays. His mom and I did, too.

And now, some links:

If I can't talk about my personal experiences with an autistic kid, I can at least post a link to Orac's recounting of an awful episode of The Doctors which looks like it might just be an awful show. The subject was vaccines and they had that total douche Jay Gordon on there. Nuff said.

Mindhacks brings us news of a report on spurious correlations between behavior and brain activity. The report is amazing and the blog post does an excellent job of breaking it down. This is why Mindhacks is one of my favorite sites.

Finally, Pure Pedantry keeps us in the holiday spirit by talking about lying.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year-end roundups and other links

I considered doing a Top Ten Top Ten Lists list since there are so many of them floating around the blogosphere now. Instead, here are my two favorites along with an interesting/scary article about the psychology of consumerism.

Ben Goldacre's The Year in Bad Science.

The lovely and talented Rogues Gallery hips us to the SGU's year in review.

The Economist has taken a good, long look at neuromarketing. Thanks to Mindhacks for pointing this out.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Links and Lists

Skepchick's Rebecca lists 2008's top ten jackasses. As you may have guessed, I agree with all of them.

The awesome Elles from Teen Skepchick talks about Twilight.

From Transmissions from the Overmind: Earth's age pinpointed!

Give yourself a late holiday present and subscribe to WNYC's Radio Lab podcast.

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Vaccinate your kids - Please

The latest episode of This American Life includes the following story:

When they decided not to vaccinate their son against measles, two San Diego parents thought they were making the best decision for their child. But when the 7-year-old came home from an overseas trip suffering from the disease (pictured at left: measles virus), his family’s personal decision became a whole community’s problem. The resulting outbreak infected 11 children and endangered many others.

I know that anecdote is not the singular of data but there are plenty of real studies to back up the assertion that a lack of vaccination is harmful to our species. Get your flu shots and keep up with the vaccination schedules your doctor (and your child's doctor) recommend. They don't cause autism.

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Added to the blogroll: Irish Autism Action

Just a quick note to bring your attention to Irish Autism Action. A new blog about, well, check out the title. It's a welcome and excellent addition to the autism community.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Skeptical Parent Crossing #3

PodBlack Cat is hosting the third edition of the Skeptical Parent Crossing. There's some good stuff on there. Check it out!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Obama Chooses His Science Team

This is my favorite radio address so far.

President-elect Obama has made some very good choices for his science team. This makes two Nobel-prize winners on his staff. It's hard to pick a pullquote from this address because the whole thing is incredible (read the transcript here) but the following excerpt sums up why I am so glad we elected this guy (emphasis mine):

Because the truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources—it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient—especially when it’s inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Homologous Links - Science!

Cat and Girl explore the scientific method.

XKCD has useful educational advice.

Statsblog talks about the science of parenting and the lack thereof.

My personal science rock star, Dr. Steven Novella, takes syndromes to school.

My favorite brain blog, Mind Hacks, points out a cool interview with David Chalmers about the extended mind hypothesis.

Finally, The Perky Skeptic goes insane and takes us along for the ride.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Interview with Sharon Long, Science Advisor to Obama

Steve Mirsky from Scientific American's awesome Science Talk podcast interviewed Sharon Long, a Stanford biologist and one of the Obama campaign's science advisors the day after the election. Click here for a link to the episode along with a transcript of the interview.

My favorite bit was Dr. Long taking Sarah Palin to task for criticizing government spending on fruit-fly research.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Today is Autism Twitter Day

Autism Twitter Day is Today. There are already a lot of tweets up that you can follow by going to and searching for #ASD. That will let you follow everyone who is participating.

The thing I like second best about the recent workshops Perky and I have been attending at TRIAD is the sense of community we get from being around other parents of autistic kids. My favorite thing is the amazing education we're getting. Anyway, reading the tweets from other people in the autism community gives me that feeling, too.

Check it out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Obama's Cabinet Taking Shape - A Good Shape

Just a quick note to say how glad I am about President-Elect Obama's cabinet and advisor choices, so far. Two, in particular, have me doing happy dances.

Lisa P. Jackson is the designate to head the EPA. She's the former commissioner of New Jersey's EPA and she has a master's degree in chemical engineering from Princeton instead of a law degree. She's already two up on RFK Jr.

The second designate that makes my heart grow three sizes is Steven Chu, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, for Secretary of Energy. Hell, yeah! A Nobel-Prize-winning experimental physicist! 'Nuff said.

Still no word on his science advisor but the two appointments above are encouraging.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Autism Twitter Day

Autism Twitter Day is Tuesday, December 16th. Check it out. No, seriously, check it out.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Video: String Theory Primer

I've been watching the Nova special The Elegant Universe lately. I'm only through the first two episodes but it has already given me more knowledge about string theory than I had before. For a quick (about an hour long) primer on the basics of the theory, check out this video from The Minnesota Channel. It's a speech by S. James Gates who thinks about things I can't even wrap my brain around. There's also an excellent argument for increased scientific funding at the end. I hope the Obama administration has good science advisors who will listen to people like Dr. Gates.

From The Onion Radio News

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Debunkings in the News! Mostly.

An international doctors panel appointed by the Roman Catholic Church is getting out of the business of determining whether visitors to Lourdes may have experienced miraculous healing. Good for them.! Though, some of the language the spokesman for the panel uses disturbs me.

Reynold Ducasse, a Haitian physician, has a new book out which debunks the zombie myths specifically the Wilfred Doricent case. The Doricent thing has been blasted several times before (scroll down to the Zombies section) but it's nice to see a Haitian doctor take it on.

Orac takes a recent meta-analysis of acupuncture apart letter by letter. Get some popcorn and watch the fun.

If you have kids and you're on the fence about getting them vaccinated, I urge you to read this article by Dr. Steven Novella. Related topic: Dr. Jay Gordon is not just a complete douche, he's actively dangerous because he's advising people not to get vaccinations. So, when the herd immunity for our species goes away and we have epidemics of measles and influenza sweeping the nation we'll know who to blame.

I know I've said this before but here we go again: My son is autistic but I don't blame vaccines. Why don't I blame them? Is it because Orac and Dr. Novella and others told me that vaccines don't cause autism? Hell no! It's because people like Orac and Dr. Novella and Dr. Andrew Offit pointed me towards credible, scientifc studies and actual resources where I could find the information and THINK FOR MYSELF by making an informed decision about the health of my child. Don't take my word for it. If you're reading this, you're sitting at a computer with internet access. Go find the information for yourself.

Science-Based Medicine and Respectful Insolence are both great places to start.

jessiemarion of Rational Moms provides some perspective on the The Myth of the Sugar High. She even includes references and stuff.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

NaNoWriMo and Health

A combination of the Thanksgiving holiday and NaNoWriMo wiped out my ability to blog during the last week of November. But now I'm back with 51,000 words badly in need of a rewrite and a bunch of stuff to blog about. The rewrite will have to wait so I'll talk about my health. But wait! There's an exciting NaNoWriMo tie in!

I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor in early January. During my last appointment he ordered me to never have any fun again for as long as I live. I am pleased to report that, so far, I'm keeping up with the program. I made it through a Thanksgiving trip to Ft. Myers with my family without overindulging or even eating anything all that bad for me. Also, a long beach on the Gulf of Mexico turns out to be great for encouraging exercise. As long as I can make it through the Christmas season without pigging out, I'll be fine.

However, it would be easier for me if I could see a graph of my progress like I had with NaNoWriMo. That was awesome. I'd write a bunch of words and once I updated my profile on the website a bar graph would appear with a cheery graphic that compared my word count to that of the last update.

I'm going to have to wait another month before I know if my efforts are having the desired effect of lowering my triglycerides. I mean, I can see that I've lost some size around my belly which is awesome but how great would it be to come home from a walk and see that my HDL number has gone up? Or when I eat an apple instead of a butter-drenched bagel for breakfast, a little monitor dings to indicate that my trigyceride level has dropped by 2%.

Let's get on that technology now! I demand instant gratification.