Archive for November 23rd, 2009

Matt Taibbi discusses how the media makes and breaks politicians

| November 23, 2009 | Reply
Matt Taibbi discusses how the media makes and breaks politicians

Yes, the media makes and breaks politicians. They tell us who the “serious” politicians are before the race has even begun, and it always seems to be about who can raise money. At his blog, Matt Taibbi writes thoughtfully about this issue of the way the media caricatures politicians:

The political media has always taken it upon itself to make decisions about who is and who is not qualified to be taken seriously as candidates for higher office. Without even talking about whether they do this more or less to Republicans or Democrats, I can testify that I witnessed this phenomenon over and over again in the primary battles within the Democratic Party. It has always been true that the press corps has drawn upon internalized professional biases, high-school-style groupthink and the urging of insider wonks to separate candidates into “serious” and “unserious” groups before the shots even start to be fired.

Taibbi’s post then morphs into some observations about Sarah Palin, who has constantly complained that she is not being treated fairly by “the liberal press.”

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Marijuana as an autism treatment

| November 23, 2009 | Reply
Marijuana as an autism treatment

What rational person could possibly cast blame at these parents for treating their autistic son with marijuana? This result suggests the need for further research, it would seem.

 

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Sarah Palin on how to improve Canada

| November 23, 2009 | 3 Replies
Sarah Palin on how to improve Canada

The Canada Press reports that when Sarah Palin goes on a book-signing tour in Canada, no one is allowed to ask her any questions. But someone named Mary Walsh nonetheless asked a Palin for a comment. Here’s what she got:

Palin strolled over, looking down on Walsh and her crew to tell them that “Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.”

“Basically, she said government should stop doing the work that private enterprise should do,” Walsh said.

And Palin’s new book is full of strange claims, according to Andrew Sullivan.

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I thought credit was supposed to be tight . . .

| November 23, 2009 | Reply
I thought credit was supposed to be tight . . .

My daughter Charlotte just received an unsolicited offer from Citibank to have her own Mastercard credit card. She’s only nine years old.

I’m tempted to fill it out for her just to see whether they’d be willing to send her a real credit card . . .

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Man in coma for 23 years now fully conscious?

| November 23, 2009 | 5 Replies
Man in coma for 23 years now fully conscious?

You’ve heard stories of people waking up from comas, but how often is it claimed that a person in a vegetative state for 23 years wakes up and can suddenly communicate with his family in sophisticated ways? That is the claim in this story, but not so fast! If you read the entire story, you’ll see that family members are taking the man’s fingers and pointing at a special keyboard. He’s not able to move his hand himself. He’s not able to speak. Does this sound suspicious? Check out this quote:

The therapist, Linda Wouters, told APTN that she can feel Houben guiding her hand with gentle pressure from his fingers, and that she feels him objecting when she moves his hand toward an incorrect letter.

Arthur Caplan, a bioethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said he is skeptical of Houben’s ability to communicate after seeing video of his hand being moved along the keyboard.

“That’s called ‘facilitated communication,’” Caplan said. “That is ouija board stuff. It’s been discredited time and time again. When people look at it, it’s usually the person doing the pointing who’s doing the messages, not the person they claim they are helping.”

So there it is: Yet another case of hope prevailing over the evidence. This same issue of “facilitated communication” once swept the United States among people with severely autistic children. Many parents who desperately wanted to believe that their severely autistic children were suddenly writing sophisticated phrases have been devastated to learn that it was actually a case of “automatic writing,” displaying the thoughts and the attitudes of the facilitators rather than the patients.

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