Friday, March 06, 2009

Are You a Quack?

Awesome web tool and pretty accurate too. The Quackometer is a tool to help you determine whether a website (URL) or a person is involved in any quackery. If you live in the Adirondacks you can test the quackometer by entering names obtained from this website.

Rip on CNBC

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Balance Your Energy with Zero Balance

I learned of a new one today (for me at least). Zero balancing. No, it's not an accounting technique. It's "a hands-on bodywork system designed to align your energy body with your physical structure". Sounds interesting, let's see whats been published on the subject in the medical literature. Lots of interesting articles can be found when you enter "zero balancing" on PubMed. But I'm pretty sure that "Effect of an odor eliminator on feline litter box behavior" isn't really about aligning your body energy.

I'm pretty sure I can find something about Zero Balancing at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Oh no! "'No matches were found for 'zero and balancing'"

This is very confusing. Here is a technique practiced around the country where hundreds if not thousands have been "healed". It's a method developed by Dr. Fritz Frederick Smith.
Dr. Smith received his doctory of osteopathy in 1955 and his doctor of medicine in 1961. During the '60s and '70s he went in pursuit of a deeper understanding of illness and health, becoming a student of Rolfing®, yoga, meditation and Eastern philosophies. Dr. Smith became a licensed acupuncturist in 1972 and later studied with J.R. Worsley of the Chinese College of Acupuncture in England, earning both bachelor's and master's degrees in acupuncture. It was during this time that he also experienced intense personal revelations under the teaching of Swami Muktananda. These latter two experiences became the catalysts for his ultimate creation in 1975 of Zero Balancing.
Surely there must be something published somewhere in the peer reviewed literature about such an important "healing" technique. And, Swami Muktananda can't be the same Swami Muktananda that they are writing about here or here.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Time of Your Life

Jon Stewart on El Rushbo

F-22 vs X-47B

It's budget time and the military budget is being "cut". That means they are only getting a 4% increase rather than the "traditional" 9% increase. This puts our country in danger claim the conservatives. That's right. The country (us) that spends almost half the money spent on defense in the world will be in danger if we don't spend even more.

The F-22 fighter jet, the best fighter aircraft on Earth. But who is it going to be used against. Who are we currently fighting that even has an airforce. An F-22 fighter jet costs about 500 million each. That's 500 five year medical research grants. The total cost of 30 F-22 aircraft would zero out the New York State budget deficit.

Ok, say you convince me that we need a high performing fighter aircraft. You want high performance, then you need an unmanned fighter jet that can handle many times the g forces that a human can handle. Oops, don't need the F-22? Then we need to start questioning whether we need an airforce and fighter pilots. Any kid that can play a computer game could probably fly an unmanned aircraft.

Let's not fall for these stupid "you're putting the country in danger games". We need to cut spending or at least spend what money we have in a wiser way.

The High Speed Train to Sin City

Is there really money in the economic stimulus package for a high speed railroad from Disneyland to Las Vegas? Several members of the Repubic party have stated so and so have the talking heads on FOX News and talk radio. Either these people are lying or they are ignorant. Here is a story that shows it may just be ignorance.

A columnist from LA, Dick Spotswood, visited his congressional representative Mary Bono Mack.
Met with Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack from Riverside County's Coachella Valley. While a social moderate, Sonny Bono's widow is a solid conservative. Talked to her about Obama's $780 billion stimulus legislation. She's outraged that the plan has "$1 billion wasted on a magnetic-levitation train from L.A. to Sin City" -- all at Nevada Sen. Harry Reid's doing.

After expressing my doubt that the Las Vegas line was actually in the bill's language, Bono Mack directs her staff to "get him the bill, it's right there, show him." A few minutes later, a staffer emerges with a copy and quietly says "it's not in the bill."

Spotswood's congressional rep wasn't lying to him about the high speed rail project. She really believed it was in the bill. It was just ignorance. She probably heard some lying talking head say that the rail project was in the bill and believed what she heard.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Asteroid Near Miss

Are we due for an asteroid strike? You'd never know it, but yesterday at 13:44 Universal time, a small asteroid came within 40,000 miles of the Earth.
Late word out of the IAU's Minor Planet Center: a small asteroid will pass close to Earth tomorrow (March 2nd) at 13:44 Universal Time. How close? The MPC's Timothy Spahr calculates that it'll be 0.00047 astronomical unit from Earth's center. That's only about 40,000 miles (63,500 km) up — well inside the Moon's orbit and roughly twice the altitude of most communications satellites!
But that is not the bad news. The asteroid just showed up 2 days ago when it was only 1.5 million miles away.
This little cosmic surprise, designated 2009 DD45, turned up two days ago as a 19th-magnitude blip in images taken by Rob McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. It was already within 1½ million miles of Earth and closing fast.
In 1908, an asteroid just 3 times larger than 2009 DD45 hit Siberia. It is known as the Tunguska event. Look at the effects of that explosion:

Republicans Bow to El Rushbo

Rush now requires a loyal Republican to bend over and grab their ankles. All hail El Rushbo, new leader of the Republican party.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Sen. Tom Harkin is a Boob

Poor Tom Harkin. He went to all the trouble of setting up the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and they have disappointed him (listen around 17:55).
One of the purposes of this center was to investigate and validate alternative approaches. Quite frankly, I must say publicly that it has fallen short. It think quite frankly that in this center and in the office previously before it, most of its focus has been on disproving things rather than seeking out and approving.
Gee, the center was supposed to prove that alternative medicine has something to offer and they just failed. Therapeutic touch, prayer, and magnets should have worked, but those damn scientists at NCCAM just couldn't prove they actually do work. Want more of a rant on this topic? Then visit Science-Based Medicine here.

One has to wonder, aren't there better and smarter people that could serve in Congress?

Biology Busy

It was a really busy week last week. Teaching three separate biology courses often confuses me. I think all three courses are going well. The 2nd year Anatomy & Physiology II course is going well. There are 15 well motivated students in that course. The Pathology course is also going well....student, well everyone, loves talking about disease. We have a lot of fun in that course and the students are always asking for more and more gross pictures. Human biology is a first year course. Typically, about 1/3 of the class doesn't do college level work. I'm moving much faster in that course this semester because last semester I missed covering 4-5 chapters. I have to admit that the labs are getting better and more organized.

Head Republican in Charge

Can there be any doubt who is in charge of the Republican party? Rush cannot be criticized by a Republican politician. Looked like Michael Steele was going to have some cahones for a while, calling Rush's show "ugly". But now Steele says "I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren't what I was thinking,".....So I wonder what Steele was actually thinking. The Head of the Republican National Committee has to apologize to Rushbo for telling the truth....amazing.