Effect Measure

Archives for March, 2009

Tufts University is the latest institution to step in the Conflict of Interest mess and come out with shoes that smell. The University had organized a conference on conflict of interest in medicine and research, with Iowa’s Republican Senator Charles Grassley as the keynoter. Grassley has been an indefatigable crusader against instances of fraud and…

EPA’s endangerment finding

A little over a week ago the Environmental Protection Agency sent the White House its finding that global warming endangers public health and welfare. This doesn’t sound like news, and except for a minority of scientists out there it is very, very old news. But in the context of a 2007 Supreme Court ruling it…

Bad sex from food poisoning

I have a particular interest in food poisoning. I admit there is something unhealthy about my fascination but there it is. One of the more interesting ones is ciguatera fish poisoning, and CDC has just reported an unusual cluster from North Carolina. Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) happens when a carnivorous fish higher in the food…

If it’s true that atheism is a “religion” because it has a “non-belief system,” there are a helluva lot of atheists out there, since there are a lot of religions and most people believe in at most one of them. Or as one wag put it, “We are all atheists. It’s just that I believe…

Subways, phones and the price of things

When my mother died last year at the age of 103 it ended a life that went from the Wright Brothers first flight through to the internet. That’s a lot of change to accommodate, but she did it pretty well, although there were things she could not get used to. One of the things that…

Solving a crime wave with DNA

I may be one of the few people in the world of TV watchers who has never seen a single episode of CSI: Whatever, a show featuring (I am told) “scientific” forensics work. Mrs. R., however, is fond of watching another show, Bones, which features a forensic anthropologist who works with a team that routinely…

The American Scientist is the magazine of the scientific society, Sigma Xi. You can get it on the news stand, and that’s where I bought the latest issue (March-April, 2009). One of the articles is by historian of engineering, Henry Petroski, and it’s about the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The bridge was a product of Depression…

Indonesia: The Stupid, it Burns

“The Stupid. It Burns!” I don’t know where this Simpson-esque phrase comes from, but The Stupid burns pretty bright in the brains of Republican Governors Mark Sanford and Bobby Jindal who are refusing stimulus money for unemployment compensation even though their states have some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. That’s stupid. Like…

When the Wall Street Journal called attention to a claim that the Journal of the American Medical Association called a whistle-blower a “nobody” and a “nothing,” a claim JAMA denied, I didn’t know what to think. I was inclined to give JAMA the benefit of the doubt. Whatever dealings I’ve had (and they are few)…

Inequality kills

One of the nastiest things about the years after the Republicans took control of the Congress in 1994 and Bush the White House in 2001 was the increase in inequality in the US. The rich not only got richer and the poor, poorer, but rich got more comfortable and led better lives. The idea that…