When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Someone gave me some encouragement in relation to some physical endeavor: "that's good. keep it up", and I suddenly felt sick. I suspect that the aversion I have to "encouragement" of that nature and phrasing comes from the Pavlovian conditioning I have gone through in the past. To wit, being physically tortured while being "encouraged" with a certain set of vocabulary, both during school PE lessons and more importantly during Slavery.

Ban Xiong thought that his phone's camera had the shutter sound hardcoded on to prevent people from taking upskirts, until I found the option and disabled it for him. What he is doing with it now, I do not know. In any case, disabling the shutter sound won't stop voyeurs - they'll just move to taking videos.


Did you ever hear one of those corny, positive messages on someone's answering machine?

"Hi, It's a great day and I'm out enjoying it right now. I hope you are too. The thought for the day is 'Share the love."


"Uh, yeah...this is the VD clinic calling...Speaking of being positive, your test is back. Stop sharing the love..."


The Madness of Adam and Eve - "To David Horrobin, a fellow of Magdalen College where he taught medicine, and an expert in schizophrenia during a long and distinguished career, such theories lack an actual mechanism to explain why such massive changes happened. Environmental pressures weren’t unique to humans or even primates: all species could benefit from increased brain power. He proposes instead that small genetic changes in the biochemistry of brain fat were sufficient to alter the way our nerve cells worked, vastly increasing the abilities of the brain. But, as we further changed our diet and our way of life, those very genetic changes which enabled creativity, intellectual prowess and the generation of religious belief could also instigate the madness of schizophrenia."

ID the Creep - Play as jailbait trying to find out who is trying to nail you. Uhhhh.

Breast implants may soon carry MP3 players! - "BT Laboratories' analyst Ian Pearson said flexible plastic electronics would sit inside the breast. A signal would be relayed to headphones, while the device would be controlled by Bluetooth using a panel on the wrist."

Jesus of the Week 2005
An article on there being a distinction between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, and the naturalistic fallacy:

Fundamentalism and Science

"The crucial point here is that a scientist is, essentially by definition, a methodological naturalist; however, she does not have any specific commitment (aside from her own metaphysical views) to philosophical naturalism. In other words, science does not necessarily entail atheism, which is the fundamentalist's fear. How can we explain this to the general public? One way to go about it is to point out that most people are in fact methodological naturalists when it comes to everyday life. Suppose your car doesn't start today: how do you react to such an annoying occurrence? Most likely you will not invoke supernatural explanations, and will not attempt to have the car exorcised. Rather, regardless of your religious convictions, you will bring it to a mechanic, assuming (methodologically) that there must be something physically wrong with it. Moreover, even if the mechanic will not find the answer, and will not be able to fix your car, you will still persist in the (reasonable) belief that there must have been something physically out of place, with no supernatural implications or intervention required. You will shrug your shoulders, grudgingly pay the bill to the mechanic, and go in search of a new car or another mechanic. That is exactly what scientists do, and are required to do by their profession -- no more, no less."

My letter to the writer:


Your piece on fundamentalism and science may be good for PR purposes, but your distinction between methodological and philosophical naturalism seems too clear cut.

Almost all people live their lives by methodological naturalism; the joke comes to mind about the man who relates a tale of a talking frog which he kisses, turning it into a young girl under the age of consent and concluding, "And that, your honor, is how the girl ended up in my room." Similarly, though many Christians praise Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to JHVH, claiming divine sanction as a reason to murder your children is untenable in a court of law, as Deanna Laney found out after being declared insane for using the same excuse.

However, is there not some fundamental dissonance between methodological naturalism and philosophical supernaturalism? If you believe in spirits and gods, it is entirely consistent to believe that they affect the natural world. Indeed, if they did not affect the natural world, why believe in them in the first place? If god created the world, why do we assume he cannot have moved our pendulum?

Are spirits/gods just convenient vessels for spirituality, magically robbed of their power and significance when they cross the line into another realm? When does the socially accepted and condoned spiritual comfort that someone gets from communing with his gods turn into a label of insanity when those same gods turn from teaching him yoga to telling him to kill people?

Perhaps the only religious theories which are compatible with both methodological naturalism and philosophical supernaturalism are variants on the modern "all religions are the same"/"all religions teach you to do good"/"god is a metaphor"/"we are god" rubbish and this, as Freud dryly noted, is in truth a deeply irreligious position; an impotent god which cannot (or does not choose to) affect reality at all cannot be said to be a god. Even a dust mite has more power to affect reality than the god(s) of a proponent of both methodological naturalism and philosophical supernaturalism.

Perhaps peripherally related to the issue is a piece by Natalie Angier called "My God Problem" (http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=angier_24_5).

Without being deeply disingenuous, I do not think that it's possible to prevent methodological naturalism from becoming philosophical naturalism, since it the latter is the natural corollary of the former.

As for the is-ought fallacy, the reason why so many fundamentalists get tripped up over it is precisely because they think that what is is what ought to be, for it is from this that they derive their system of morality and world view. They then engage in Freudian projection and accuse naturalists of endorsing the cruel state of nature. It's a failure of imagination on their part.
Caleb digs up an interesting nugget from the World Economic forum's 2005-2006 country rankings of economic competitiveness:

Nordic countries like Finland and Sweden place highly, with Finland in first place, Sweden third and Denmark fourth... countries like Denmark and Sweden spend a lot on reducing poverty and have among the most generous unemployment benefits in Europe (and, let's face it, the world)...

Singapore ranks at number six, just below Taiwan. So yes, Singapore is competitive, but its competitiveness is not the product, as we are incessantly told by our Dear Leader(s), of artificially depressed wage costs or our effective lack of any social security or unemployment benefit (except for maybe CPF). If that were the case, we would be far more competitive than Sweden. It would also mean that a place like Hong Kong should be topping the competitiveness charts, which it isn't.

I could think of at least 1 conspiracy theory about why driving down your populace's wages is good, even if it doesn't help competitiveness all that much.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find the 2005-2006 competitiveness ranking - the site seems broken for now.

World Economic Forum - Global Competitiveness Report 2005-2006

Unfortunately, the whole thing is 65 pounds. I'm curious about what it says, but not quite that curious. Some extracts from the executive summary:

On why Finland is top in the Growth Competitiveness Index:

The country owes its strong showing to one of the most innovative business environments in the world, particularly critical to driving productivity in the country, given its advanced stage of development.This is coupled with a very healthy macroeconomic environment, at a time when many other industrial countries are struggling in this area. The willingness of Finnish governments to run budget surpluses, so as to be able to meet future social commitments linked to the aging of the population is particularly impressive.This approach to macroeconomic policy highlights a degree of political maturity in Finnish society worthy of emulation. Furthermore, Finland has an institutional environment that is among the world’s finest: the business community operates in a climate of respect for the law, unusually low levels of corruption, and an openness and transparency which other countries would do well to study.

On decadent Western countries with unsustainable welfare systems remaining competitive:

There is no evidence that relatively high tax rates are preventing these countries from competing effectively in world markets, or from delivering to their respective populations some of the highest standards of living in the world.

A rebuke to Texas oilmen:

In his intriguing paper “The Environment as a Source of Competitive Advantage,”Allen Hammond offers interesting counter arguments to the prevailing idea that environmental regulations place a potential constraint on, or worse, pose risks for business. Increasingly, he explains, environmental and social development issues are also coming to be understood as a source of opportunity for new products
and services, new technology, and new markets.

A breakdown of the various components of the Growth Competitiveness Index is instructive; Singapore ranks 10th on the technology index, 4th on public institutions and 1st for macroeconomic environment. The report distinguishes between factor driven, efficiency-driven, and innovation-driven productivity improvements, with increasing degrees of complexity. The data for Singapore is unavailable, but we can all guess where we lost out (I recall Krugman's criticism of our using capital investment to boost GDP growth, rather than technology).

As for the Business Competitiveness Index, Singapore ranks 1st in Institutions and Technological readiness, 4th in Market efficiency, 5th in Infrastructure, 8th in Higher education and training, and 9th for its Macroeconomy and Innovation.

What is more interesting, though, is that we got a dismal 20th for Business sophistication and a hideous 69th for Health and primary education. Time to drop a large dollop of government moolah into both Medisave and Medishield.

[NB: Some might point out that though at present Medisave and Medishield both are financed by the individual, pumping government money just shifts the burden from the individual to the representative tax payer so you're not getting a free lunch. Which is why I always wonder why people are so happy about tax cuts or pork barrel schemes and view them as gracious boons granted by the generous divine government at their own (great) expense - it's your own money after all.

However, presumably the World Economic Forum judges that self-funded medical provision is unwise, or we would not be 69th in the ranking for Health and primary education (this assumes that our primary schools are not similarly atrocious).]

[Addendum: The Slanted Times' take:

Sept 29: "Singapore's top-notch economic management has propelled the Republic one place higher to sixth spot in a closely watched ranking of global competitiveness conducted by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF)... And one of Singapore's long-standing economic rivals, Hong Kong, slumped seven spots to 28th this year.

... 'The Nordic countries have consolidated their position at the top of the league,' said the WEF's chief economist, Mr Augusto Lopez-Claros. 'The main reason is these countries enjoy very good management. They do not have fiscal problems like France, Germany or Italy,' he told reporters.

Faced with an ageing population, Nordic countries are reforming now in order to maintain their welfare systems, he said."

[Ed: Of course, there's no word about how they maintain generous welfare systems yet stay competitive in the first place.]

Oct 7: "Compulsory education was made law only recently. From 2003, parents must enrol their children in school from Primary 1 to 6, or face penalties... The good news is that as the compulsory education law kicks in, the issue about low primary school enrolment should eventually resolve itself.

Other areas that may need improvement would be those that Singapore does badly in the competitiveness ratings. A look at the 2004 report is instructive. There is one indicator in which Singapore fares even worse than in primary school enrolment.

In freedom of the press, Singapore is ranked a dismal 98th out of 104.

Now that's another rating we should all beaver away at together to try to improve."

[Ed: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. But then, just like North Korea, we have special cirumstances necessitating our unfree but nation-building press.]
The drunken monkey hypothesis: the study of fruit-eating animals could lead to an evolutionary understanding of human alcohol abuse

I was investigating the biochemical origins of ethanol in fruit, and a very helpful source clarified that "fruits are ripened by ethylene, which is a volatile compound (vaporizes, then diffuses into tissues where it triggers certain reactions and pathways). the alcohol produced is created from by the fermentation of accumulated sugars in the ripe fruit."

Another source informed me that ethene can indeed be hydrolyzed to ethanol, but it's slow, so the yeast effect dominates.

From the article: "the unripe fruit of the Astrocaryum palm contains no ethanol; ripe hanging fruit is about 0.6 percent ethanol by weight; overripe fruit, often fallen to the ground, can have an ethanol content of more than 4 percent."

It would seem that fruit is haram (or grapes at least, according to the Hanafi school).


"The Principle of Istihlak (Extreme Dilution)

Let me first explain this principle with an example: if an animal urinates in a lake (which happens all the time), the water of this lake is still lawful for drink and ablution (wudu) so long as the colour, odour, and taste of the water are unchanged by the urine. This is an example of the principle of istihlak, or extreme dilution,
which can be stated as follows:

When a prohibited substance is diluted in a lawful medium to the extent that none of the known properties of the prohibited substance are noticeable in the lawful medium, then the prohibited substance can be ignored. This principle is based on analogous situations that happened at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). For example, some people asked the Prophet (sallallahu
`alayhi wa sallam
) about a well in which carrion fell. (Carrion is considered impure and anything contaminated by it is prohibited.) The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) responded that if the water was more than a specified amount then there was no harm in using it. Similarly, the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah be pleased with them) would continue to drink fruit juice until it showed signs of fermentation; thus, they would only stop drinking from the juice if its smell or taste indicated that it had become wine. Fermentation of fruit juice begins almost immediately, especially in the heat of the desert. However, these untraceable
amounts of alcohol, which do not affect taste or smell, were ignored by the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah be pleased with them)...

Similarly, most cheeses are formed with the help of milk-coagulating enzymes, such as pepsin or rennet, which can be taken from pigs and other animals. However, enzymes are catalysts, meaning that they do not actually become a part of the cheese but only aid in its formation. After the milk coagulates and the curds fall to the bottom of the basin, the remaining liquid and enzymes are drained off. While it is possible that some enzymes remain in the cheese, the concentration is minimal.... these principles are not my own conclusions or opinions. Rather, they are unanimously accepted principles of Islamic Law."

Going by the principle of extreme dilution, we wouldn't need to separate Halal and non-Halal cutlery and crockery anymore.

The use of haram ingredients in food, as long as it was in trace amounts and was unnoticeable, would also be permitted (I am put in mind of the "What is Ajinomoto made of" scandal in Indonesia in 2000).

In fact, according to this Muslim scholar (who claims to represent the weight of modern Muslim scholarship), going by the principle of Istihalah (Substantial Change), even chemicals derived from pigs are halal. Which makes me wonder why there are haram lists specifying which of the EXXX (where XXX can take a value between 1 and 999) flavourings/colourings are halal and which are haram. And which means that many of the questions floating around about whether this or that product/food is haram are moot.

Friday, October 21, 2005


[On Eliade's affair with Dasgupta's daughter] I would love to talk more about this, I would love to show you the movie starring Hugh Grant... But we have to move on.

[On what Eliade learnt in India] The lessons he learnt - not from his affair with Dasgupta's daughter, but from India as a whole.

[On essays due in 2 weeks] I don't need to remind you that the essays are due - when? tomorrow?

[On essays] I know it's sort of given, but humour me anyway. It's fun to mention this. I would like to see an argument.

[On essay titles] Why Freud himself needs to be psychoanalysed. Something like that.

Maybe I'm naive. I have faith. Maybe I'm like John Lennon - imagining a world withou plagiarism.

Gabriel, you look very nice in pants.

Let's take a break. I'm going to read to you...

I don't want a lecture in which you're listening to me all the time. As exciting as that might sound.

Everything here is the sam. [Me: There's nothing new here.] [Student: There's nothing new here] There's nothing new here either. (same)

eview (eviews)

in this par (part)

Though you decree class size (decrease)

Under [a] 2 tailed test we must compute whether it is greater than 1.96. You remember that? [The] Mid-term is coming.

We can use this 'union' [sign] to represent 'or'. Is that okay with you?

[On a complication] So what does this mean? [Me: We're screwed lah] [Student: You sum up my feelings quite well]

So we need to learn something new... So we take a break, and after the break we learn something new.

good new (news)

[On a lecturer] My friend said he's very funny. He laughed at his own joke, then he fell off his chair.

Guess whether Williamson is Neo-classical or New Keynesian? New Keynesian? New Classical? No one thinks?... New Keynesian? *some put up hands* Why? That's the problem with putting up your hands. You can come and tell me why during my office hours later.

Doesn't do very well, is it? (does)

Each new unit of beehiver (beehives)

sub'sai'dee (subsidy)

seventy seven (thirty)

a rounce their own valuation (announce)

We don't have any restricted access [facilities]. Arts - we're like a prostitute. Everyone comes in and uses us.

backward in'daction (induction)

I want post the answer (won't)

Just don't change the odour (order)

Don't show your bubble form to your neighbor. Or I will come out with one question in your final exam about cheating... It will be very difficult.

[On religious objections to using donor mitochondrial DNA to replace the mother's damaged copy] Someone might complain that the baby has 1.5 souls.

[Professor: What might be the objection to designer babies?] Too expensive. That's the only thing I can think of.

Some of you have, as it were, been infected with memes for skeptical thinking.

If anyone is wondering, I support the idea that science is a memeplex. But as *** pointed out, science is the only memeplex whose results affect the memplex itself... In religion, new findings are only accepted if they support the theory.

[Student on man's experience of the sacred and Eliade's theory: How will he know it's sacred if he's never experienced it before?] You'll just now... Phenomenology, drugs... There's this light coming in from the window. Like, what are you on?]

Like, soccer games have lots of sacred moments. Seriously... You look at their faces when they score goals.

A sense of alienation which is akin to Mars (Marx)

I was saying that... Okay, I'm lost. [Tutor: So am I.]

Science and technology can be sacred as well. I remember when I first got my Nintendo. Wow... That's the word for today. Dialectic of sacredness. (phrase)

I don't really need to tell you to start talking among yourselves. We're having some technical difficulties, so talk amongst yourselves for a while.

If any of your friends have chosen to study overseas, which I think is a mistake, a very big mistake, because NUS is a very good university to study in, I'm sure you all agree...

Why is it Singaporeans in the SPL - is it Singapore Premier League?

[On a wink and a twitch] He starts winking at you... You think: 'He's really into me'... Another interpretation: the person could have some sort of eye problem.

Another interpretation of this twink and a witch (wink, twitch) [Ed: I think this is the first Spoonerism I've ever heard. At least in NUS.]

Geertz was very veer'ment (vehement)

[On the mid-term] I know many of you are disappointed. Don't be disappointed because many people did poorly... I was very shocked. Sample variance will be very large.

[On the lecturer] I really think he's like my ex-boyfriend.

[On delay in writing on the OHT] I got a new pen. it's good.

Which model do you want to run? There are many models. There are many menus. Menus at the restaurant.

[On advancing slides in Powerpoint] Annoying. I don't like the clicking noise.

[On 1+1=2 = 1+1+1-1=2] The most powerful skill in maths or economics - to add and subtract. I added this much, I subtracted this much - same thing.

one point two eight person't (percent)

[Me: Person't-Person't relationship] I didn't know we're taking a sociology module (percentage)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What an exciting day.

1) At Eunos, I noticed that stepping beyond the yellow line is now an offence punishable by a $500 fine. I'm not one to lament the moral decay of our fair society and hearken back to some idealised halcyon era where we all lived in harmony, did as we were told and worked at nation-building, but this is ridiculous.

2) Got stared at by 2 Malay girls wearing neither tudungs nor tube tops on the MRT home. I should've stared back, but didn't want to get beaten up.

3) This guy dressed in vaguely monkish trouser-robes accosted me as I was walking home from the MRT and offered me, gratis, some embossed squarish pieces of cardboard with Guan Yin and Buddha on them which I assumed were Taoist-Buddhist amulets. Naturally, I declined.

Today's post comes in a special edition too!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Two wheels: good. Two legs: terrorist suspect

"With her year-round tan, long blonde hair and designer clothes, Sally Cameron does not look like a threat to national security. But the 34-year-old property developer has joined the ranks of Britain’s most unlikely terrorist suspects after being held for hours for trespassing on a cycle path."

What lessons can we learn from this farcical episode? Perhaps that just bandying around the word "terrorism" to justify bureaucratic obstructionism and monumental acts of idiocy just don't cut it.

Actually I think the most important lesson that we can, nay, *have* to learn is that governments are wont to abuse whatever power they have, so vigilant checks on state power and the inevitable misuse thereof are essential.


The Time Travel Fund[tm] - "Morlocks aside, how would YOU like to visit, even live hundreds of years in the future? There may be a way, and that is the purpose of The Time Travel Fund(tm)."
$10 only for proof of concept! Consider that my magnifying glass cost $3.70 (with member discount)

The Sexual Organs of Dandelions - There's one vestigial organ I didn't know about.
This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.
"Its major importance would appear to be financial support of the surgical profession." - Alfred Sherwood Romer and Thomas S. Parsons on the appendix


My favourite misanthrope sent me a Salon.com article on Real Dolls.

Some men treat them as the male equivalent of a romance novel. Others use them purely to enact their sexual fantasies. Still others pretend that they're getting some through the use of them.

Just like a woman
Thousands of men are shelling out $6,500 for hyper-realistic dolls that answer all their needs -- and don't talk back.

"Go ahead. Flinch at the notion of a man having sex with an imitation woman and classify him: lonely loser. Pathological creep. Misogynist. Potential rapist. Sicko. True enough, some men who have sex with Real Dolls are creepy, the kind of guys you wouldn't want to be alone with. But not all. Many are simply lonely -- some tragically so. Others are disfigured or infirm. Some are oddly sweet, like Davecat, for whom a Real Doll is a "teddy bear with benefits." And others proclaim their normalcy and defend their Real Dolls as no different than a 3-D version of a Playboy centerfold.

Many doll lovers -- or "iDollators," as some of them call themselves -- participate in a confusing online subculture where the lines between art and pornography, the ludicrous and the tender, and fantasy and fetishism blur like watercolors. Spend time talking to Real Doll aficionados as I have over the past year, and you come to understand that behind every Real Doll is a man with a reason."

My Favourite Misanthrope: so it's not just something that screwed up people would like?
as in, it could be a generic solution for 'loneliness', instead of simply satisfying perverts?

Me: of course.
well the guy on page 1 sounds a bit deluded

"People who are allergic to roses can enjoy artificial roses," he says. "In the same way, artificial women serve the same purpose for men who are, in whatever way, allergic to real women."

what if real women are allergic to him?

MFM: I think all men are allergic to real women to some extent

Me: and the reverse?

MFM: I don't think women are AS allergic to men
men are less interfering
women are more meddlesome
and demanding

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Shingo; Rolling Bomber Special

This is quite screwy:

*Masked characters clad in spandex run towards the camera and confront our protagonist*

*Protagonist drops a can of "Popsi"*

Red Fresh: We finally found you, Katori!

Green Fresh (presumably): Stop right there!

Blue Fresh: There's no escape!

All 5 Freshmen: Katori Shintaro!

Katori: Who are you?

Freshmen: We are the Earth Defender Freshmen!


Blue Fresh: Do you wish for world peace?

Yellow Fresh: You don't, do you?

Katori: Huh?

Blue Fresh: See? You are clearly intent on destroying the Earth!

*Red Fresh launches a flying kick, but is way off the mark and lands in a heap of garbage bags*
"Life's too short to watch French films"

As either my sister or brother in law put it, in American movies, people do things. In European movies, things happen to people, then at the end of the movie nothing has changed. One might as well watch grass grow, or paint peel.

It's like the difference between active and passive tense, and we all know what we were told to use in our school compositions, since one was boring and one was more exciting.

Teacher: When you watch an action film, you want to watch the hero doing things. You don't want to see things being done to the hero.

Student (to another): Braveheart


The Apple Polishers - Explaining the press corps' crush on Steve Jobs and company.

"Apple manipulates several narratives to continue to make its products interesting fodder for journalists. One is the never-ending story of mad genius Steve Jobs, who would be great copy if he were only the night manager of a Domino's pizza joint. The next is Apple's perpetual role as scrappy underdog—reporters love cheerleading for the underdog without ever pausing to explore why it isn't the overdog. (This is why the Brooklyn Dodgers will always rate higher in the minds of writers than the superior New York Yankees.) Apple incites fanaticism about its products via ad campaigns and evangelist outreach programs designed to make its customers feel as though they're part of a privileged and enlightened elite. One unnamed loser at Slate says today's V-iPod news made her want to rush out and buy one, even though she already owns two iPods, one of which she bought three weeks ago...

If the press corps possessed any institutional memory, it would recall the introduction of the Apple III+, the Lisa, the Macintosh Portable, the Mac TV, the Newton, the Apple G4 Cube, and eWorld. All were greeted with great press fanfare before falling off the edge of the world. Hell, all the press corps really needs to put Apple products in perspective is a few short-term memory neurons focused on the fanfare visited upon recent, mediocre iPod releases. Only a year ago the company received excited press notices when it introduced the iPod Photo, now acknowledged to be a failed product. I searched Nexis to find a mention of the iPod Photo in the hundreds of V-iPod newspaper stories from today and found only one. Of the wildly heralded but totally average iPod Shuffle, released in January 2005, I found only two."

The reporter alleges that this is aimed only at press coverage, yet his criticisms of the press are equally applicable to Mac whores.


I've done so many interviews and surveys on blogging that I've long ago lost count. I will probably be publishing an FAQ soon which I will send to all who request that I fill out an interview.

Though actually the majority of such requests so far have come from friends doing modules on blogging. Boo hoo.

Next year I should take one of these modules and interview myself.

Someone: "an excellent decision
at the start of the module just declare to the whole LT
'Hi I am agagooga. Approach me for interview and you will get slimed all over my blog.'"

Someone was talking about how, if you did badly in your midterm, you should be consistent in your work so you can do better for the final. I don't understand why consistency is supposed to be good, for you can be consistently bad in your work as well.
And now a risque joke (ie not an anecdote) since I've handed up my second (and last) term paper. I couldn't find the phrasing in which I first heard it, so I have taken the liberty of reconstructing it as best I remember:

I went over to my sister and asked her,

"Would you wear gloves if you had no hands?"

"No, why do you ask?"

"So why do you wear a bra?"

I ducked for cover as a cushion flew at my head.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bennett et al, Genetic Counseling and Screening of Consanguineous Couples and Their Offspring: Recommendations of the National Society of Genetic Counselors

"Few studies document the actual risks to the offspring of consanguineous unions. The risks quoted for birth defects and mental retardation are often based on studies of non-Western populations where consanguineous unions are common, and they may not be applicable to consanguineous unions in the United States and Canada (Al-Abdulkareem and Balal, 1998; Al-Awadi et al., 1985; Al-Gazali et al., 1997; Bittles, 1998, 2001; Bittles et al., 1991; Bittles and Neel, 1994; Harper, 1998; Jaber et al., 1997, 1998; Kaku and Freire-Maia, 1992; Madhaven and Narayan, 1991; Schull and Neel, 1965; Shami et al., 1991; Vogel and Motulsky, 1996). Furthermore, in all such studies, the criteria for what is considered a significant medical problem in offspring are not standardized. Studies using excess mortality to measure the adverse effects of inbreeding often did not account for the effects of sociodemographic variables such as maternal age, birth interval, socioeconomic status, and maternal education, thereby exaggerating the adverse effect of consanguinity (Bittles, 1998; Kaku and Freire-Maia, 1992). The risk of adverse medical outcomes for the offspring of consanguineous unions, as compared to a baseline risk for the general population, is reviewed under Baseline Risk for the Offspring of Consanguineous Unions Compared to Those From Nonconsanguineous Unions.

... Given the almost universal cross-cultural stigma, social disapproval, and legal sanctions to incestuous unions, there is a paucity of data regarding adverse medical outcomes in the offspring of incestuous unions. Published studies are fraught with significant ascertainment biases. These biases, such as lack of paternity documentation, young maternal age, possible parental disease and/or intellectual impairment, parental socioeconomic status (or lack of report of this variable), and complications of unsuccessful attempted pregnancy termination (Bittles, in press). Table IV summarizes the four most comprehensive published studies of incest (Adams and Neel, 1967; Baird and McGillivray, 1982; Carter, 1967; Seemanova, 1971). Three of these studies were retrospective, and the controls for matched nonincestuous pregnancies were highly variable (Baird and McGillivray, 1982; Carter, 1967; Seemanova, 1971). These studies are also limited in the number of years that the incestuous progeny were followed. Although the highest risk for morbidity and mortality would be expected in the first year of life, moderate medical problems and mental retardation would not be evident until later."
"There's no inspiration like desperation"

Unfortunately, this semester my muses seem to be deserting me.

Today it can probably be attributed to an series of unfortunate events, but the origin of last week's drought was a mystery.

No matter. After Tuesday I will be free... to catch up on my other modules.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Get this: For the last two days i've been posing outside the venue of a dance concert wearing a nametag that reads "USHER" and looking uber-cool. Okay, so maybe i lied about the "uber-cool" part.

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