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HuckleB's Journal
HuckleB's Journal
September 24, 2014

Ebola Vaccine Could be Ready by End of Year


"The World Health Organization said today that by the end of the year, a vaccine might be available in large enough quantities to help control West Africa's Ebola outbreak.

Previously experts had said a drug or vaccine was unlikely to be ready in time to help in this outbreak. There is currently no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola, although scientists are testing two vaccines.

WHO said Tuesday that the Ebola epidemic has already killed more people than all previous outbreaks combined, and a new analysis suggests it already may be too late to prevent the virus from taking up permanent residence among humans in West Africa.

Ebola is believed to have sickened more than 5,800 people in five West African countries and killed more than 2,800. This outbreak is the first to hit urban areas and it has been difficult to control by the traditional methods of isolating sick people and monitoring everyone they came in contact with.


I'm hoping...
September 22, 2014

State Farm drops ad starring Rob Schneider over anti-vaccine views

Source: PR Week

State Farm has pulled an ad featuring anti-vaccine activist Rob Schneider after a social media campaign urged the insurance company to end its affiliation with the actor.

Social media pages Food Hunk, Science Babe, and Chow Babe, all of which refute pseudoscience claims, started the anti-Schneider campaign last week, questioning how a company that sells insurance could hire a celebrity spokesman so openly against vaccinations.

The activists have encouraged consumers with State Farm policies to get involved by contacting their agents and telling them that "someone who publicly states dangerous opinions should not be a spokesperson for a health insurance company."

The anti-Schneider campaign also included a video that encouraged supporters to post on State Farm’s Facebook and Twitter pages, using the hashtag #StateFarm when demanding it cancel Schneider’s contract.

Read more: http://www.prweek.com/article/1313589/state-farm-drops-ad-starring-rob-schneider-anti-vaccine-views

I'm not sure how this one got through a company that wealthy, when it sells health insurance policies, but...
September 16, 2014

Corporal Punishment in the Home: Parenting Tool or Parenting Fail? A Look At The Science



Many parents who use one form of corporal punishment would take offense at the notion of being put in the same category as other parents who use a different form of corporal punishment. Not everyone agrees on where the line between acceptable physical punishment and abuse, or even between what are appropriate and inappropriate non-abusive techniques, should be placed. The AAP defines spanking as “striking a child with an open hand on the buttocks or extremities with the intention of modifying behavior without causing physical injury.” They differentiate spanking from other forms of physical punishment that incorporate the use of an object, target other areas of the body, leave bruises or red marks that persist more than a few minutes, or involve pulling the hair or jerking the child by an extremity.

The AAP lumps physical punishment doled out while angry, or with the intent to cause pain, with these and states that they are all unacceptable and should never be used. But how does one spank without the intent to cause pain? And available research doesn’t support that corporal punishment is able to be planned or initiated when the caregiver is calm, which is integral to the recommendations of most pro-spanking resources. In one survey, 85% of respondents “felt moderate to high anger, remorse, and agitation while punishing their children” with 44% reporting that more than half of the time they had “lost it.” This makes sense to me because it fits with how most episodes of more severe physical abuse occur when a parent or caregiver snaps. I imagine that few people in jail for hurting a child thought it was something that they were capable of before the event.


The limited use of mild corporal punishment, in very isolated and specific circumstances, may have some benefit but prevention/protection is almost always a better option. Its use as a strategy to improve overall behavior is fraught with risk. Although imperfect, there is good evidence that recurrent use can lead to physical abuse, interfere with learning and increase aggression. And it may worsen behavior in the long run.

There is an absence of any data showing it to be more effective than other techniques, such as negative punishment strategies like time outs. Unfortunately, the internet is full of pro-spanking propaganda that relies on anecdotes, old fashioned thinking and one study that didn’t survive peer review. The best initial resource for questions regarding discipline should always be a child’s physician. We aren’t perfect, but most pediatricians accept that corporal punishment is a poor method of discipline and should be able to provide education and help accessing local resources."


Yes, it's a fairly long piece, but since so many people appear to be very interested in the topic, I can't think of a better, more concise overview of the issue.

Take care.
September 12, 2014

The Reality of Ancient Wisdom: Acupuncture and TCM Weren’t So Great


"A mythology has grown up around traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The ancient wisdom of the inscrutable Orient supposedly helped patients in ways that modern science-based medicine fails to understand or appreciate. A typical claim found on the Internet: “The ancient beliefs and practice of traditional Chinese medicine have been healing people for thousands of years.”

As Steven Novella has said, “TCM is a pre-scientific superstitious view of biology and illness, similar to the humoral theory of Galen, or the notions of any pre-scientific culture”. TCM really hasn’t been doing a creditable job of healing people for thousands of years. A book that was brought to my attention by one of our readers (thank you!) provides a unique insight into what Chinese medicine was really like circa 1900. I wish everyone who believes in ancient Chinese medical wisdom would read the chapter on Chinese medicine in this book. It provides a much-needed reality check.

Dugald Christie was a Scottish surgeon who served as a missionary doctor in northeastern China from 1883 to 1913. He wrote the book Thirty Years in Moukden. 1883-1913. Being the Experiences and Recollections of Dugald Christie, C. M.G. In providing medical care to Chinese patients, he initially met with strong resistance. People were suspicious of foreigners and spread vicious rumors about their evil doings. After he cured the blind with cataract surgery and helped patients the local doctors had failed to help, the community gradually realized he had something to offer that was far superior to what they were used to. Not just patients; people started flocking to his hospital to learn how to do what he did, and he eventually established the Mukden Medical College (still operating today under another name) to train Chinese doctors in Western medicine. During his 30 years in China he had ample opportunity to observe the practice of TCM.

The book is available online for free, but I’ll save you the trouble of reading it and describe the illuminating historical account of TCM in its pages. It serves as a reality check to those who believe in acupuncture, in “ancient wisdom,” and in the efficacy of non-Western medical practices.


Yet another book for me to read!

September 11, 2014

"If everyone believed in Peace the way they say they do, we’d have Peace." -GSH

If everyone believed in Peace the way they say they do, we’d have Peace.
The only thing wrong with Peace, is that you can’t make no money from it.
—Gil Scott-Heron 1949-2011

The key word is "everyone."

September 5, 2014

Scientists: The American Southwest Faces a “Megadrought”

“This will be worse than anything seen during the last 2,000 years," says the lead author of the paper. Also: "Megadrought" is a real term.

"A new study published as a joint effort by scientists at Cornell University, the University of Arizona, and the U.S. Geological Survey finds that the chances of the Southwest facing a “megadrought” are much higher than previously suspected.

According to the new study, “the chances of the southwestern United States experiencing a decade-long drought is at least 50 percent, and the chances of a ‘megadrought’ – one that lasts up to 35 years – ranges from 20 to 50 percent over the next century.” Not so crazy, according to Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University who has helped pen many studies of historical megadroughts: “By some measures the west has been in drought since 1998 so we might be approaching a megadrought classification!” he says. The study points to manmade global climate change as a possible cause for the drought, which would affect portions of California (where a drought is currently decimating farms), Arizona and New Mexico.


Umm. Yikes.
September 4, 2014

The problem is the lack of justification for labeling.

Further, the labeling movement really developed out of the organic industry's dishonest attempts to cause fear about GMOs.

What's odd to me, is how blatantly dishonest the anti-GMO crowd has been in its attempts to foment fear, and yet so few people actually stop and ask themselves, "Wow! These claims are really big claims! Maybe I should look into the reality, because things are almost never this black and white?"

A good piece on labeling:


And then there's the costs of labeling:


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