Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fake Science

Fake Science is a tumblr blog of amusingly misleading scientific factoids and infographics. It’s a good source of information “when the facts are too confusing.”

Fake Science via Neatorama

Coffee Break: Suicide bombers

Apparently the Recession Cut Deeper Than We Thought.


Muslim suicide bombers in Britain are set to begin a three-day strike on Monday in a dispute over the number of virgins they are entitled to in the afterlife. Emergency talks with Al Qaeda have so far failed to produce an agreement.

The unrest began last Tuesday when Al Qaeda announced that the number of virgins a suicide bomber would receive after his death will be cut by 25% this February from 72 to only 60. The rationale for the cut was the increase in recent years of the number of suicide bombings and a subsequent shortage of virgins in the afterlife.

The suicide bombers' union, the British Organization of Occupational Martyrs (B.O.O.M.) responded with a statement that this was unacceptable to its members and immediately balloted for strike action. General Secretary Abdullah Amir told the press, "Our members are literally working themselves to death in the cause of Jihad. We don't ask for much in return but to be treated like this is like a kick in the teeth".

Speaking from his shed in Tipton in the West Midlands in which he currently resides, Al Qaeda chief executive Osama bin Laden explained, "We sympathize with our workers concerns but Al Qaeda is simply not in a position to meet their demands. They are simply not accepting the realities of modern-day Jihad in a competitive marketplace. Thanks to Western depravity, there is now a chronic shortage of virgins in the afterlife. It’s a straight choice between reducing expenditure and laying people off. I don’t like cutting wages, but I’d hate to have to tell 3000 of my staff that they won’t be able to blow themselves up.”

Spokespersons for the union in the North East of England, Ireland, Wales, and the entire Australian continent stated that the strike would not affect their operations as “There are no virgins in their areas anyway.”

Apparently the drop in the number of suicide bombings has been put down to the emergence of that Scottish singing star, Susan Boyle – now that Muslims know what a virgin looks like they are not so keen on going to Paradise.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Coffee Break: Anatomy of an Epidemic

Are wonder drugs like Prozac really helping people with mental illness? An award-winning science reporter takes a closer look into the history of psychiatric drugs -- with disturbing results.

The timing of Robert Whitaker’s "Anatomy of an Epidemic," a comprehensive and highly readable history of psychiatry in the United States, couldn’t be better. An acclaimed mental health journalist and winner of a George Polk Award for his reporting on the psychiatric field, Whitaker draws on 50 years of literature and in-person interviews with patients to answer a simple question: If "wonder drugs" like Prozac are really helping people, why has the number of Americans on government disability due to mental illness skyrocketed from 1.25 million in 1987 to over 4 million today?

"Anatomy of an Epidemic" is the first book to investigate the long-term outcomes of patients treated with psychiatric drugs, and Whitaker finds that, overall, the drugs may be doing more harm than good. Adhering to studies published in prominent medical journals, he argues that, over time, patients with schizophrenia do better off medication than on it. Children who take stimulants for ADHD, he writes, are more likely to suffer from mania and bipolar disorder than those who go unmedicated. Intended to challenge the conventional wisdom about psychiatric drugs, "Anatomy" is sure to provoke a hot-tempered response, especially from those inside the psychiatric community.

More here.

Coffee Break Poem: Concert in the Garden

It rained.
The hour is an enormous eye.
Inside it we come and go like reflections.
The river of music
enters my blood.
If I say body, it answers wind.
If I say earth, it answers where?

The world, a double blossom, opens:
sadness of having come,
joy of being here.

I walk lost in my own center.

by Octavio Paz
from The Collected Poems 1957-1987;
Carcanet Press Limited

Concierto en el Jardín

La hora es un ojo inmenso.
En ella andamos como reflejos.
El río de la música
entra en mi sangre.
Si digo: cuerpo, contesta: viento.
Si digo: tierra, contesta: ¿dónde?

Se abre, flor doble, el mundo:
tristeza de haber venido,
alegría de estar aquí.

Ando perdido en mi propio centro.

Octavio Paz

Wednesday Poem: During the Final Scene

Even then, in those early days,
time was a lukewarm bathtub.
You steadied your wrist & pooled
a Palindrome Fossil with a floating hand
to circumnavigate the dial, my smiling
sun & moon clock, the wall clocks,
alarm clocks, even our tiny hour-
glass timer from the top of the stove—
put them all in a silver bucket,
buttoned your jeans, pulled on your boots,
& marched them to the backyard
where you buried them in a dream
during the final scene of Apocalypse Now.
All this time spent to say it was nothing,
really. Yet we both knew the value
of two beers & a shared cigarette.
What happened? That was the question
when you opened your eyes to my side
of the couch, but you'd been so late
in waking, so long in gathering, so diligent
stockpiling our time, I said nothing
& we held there, watching the credits.

by Lisa Fay Coutley