res ipsa loquitur

hysteria -- too much vitamin A?

Posted on: Tue, 01/05/2010 - 12:24 By: Tom Swiss

A week or so ago, I found myself in a conversation about the nature of mental health diagnosis. I've always found it interesting how no one is "hysterical" any more -- if you read books on psychology from a few decades ago, there's a great deal of discussion about that condition, where as it seems that now it's almost never discussed. I've always taken that as an indicator of how at least part of the concept of "mental illness" is a social construction.

However, I stumbled across this abstract of a paper in the journal Social Science & Medicine, which notes "Experimental and clinical studies of nonhumans and humans reveal somatic and behavioral effects of hypervitaminosis A which closely parallel many of the symptoms reported for Western patients diagnosed as hysterical and Inuit sufferers of pibloktoq ['arctic hysteria']. Eskimo nutrition provides abundant sources of vitamin A and lays the probable basis in some individuals for hypervitaminosis A through ingestion of livers, kidneys, and fat of arctic fish and mammals, where the vitamin often is stored in poisonous quantities." [emphasis added. -tms]

Excessive vitamin A is well known to be toxic, and can result in birth defects, liver abnormalities, and CNS disorders. There's also some evidence linking excessive intake with osteoporosis, but the picture is not clear.

chilly from the snow? Maybe a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag would help.

Posted on: Sat, 12/19/2009 - 17:30 By: Tom Swiss

From the ThinkGeek catalog, cheack out this Tauntaun Sleeping Bag, commemorating the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Han Solo saves Luke Skywalker from freezing by slitting open the belly of Luke's dead tauntaun (sort of a horse-like giant snow lizard...) and placing Luke inside the warm carcass.

See also the New York Times story on how this product came to be.

teabagging 4 Jesus

Posted on: Tue, 09/29/2009 - 00:18 By: Tom Swiss

On my net wanderings I found this image of a woman holding a "Teabagging 4 Jesus" sign.

This is the first firm example I've come across of the teabaggers actually using the term "teabagging". I've been using it and find it appropriate due to the presence of teabags and the pathetic nature of the participants in the act (when the best you can do to express your political views is throw teabags around, you deserve to be the butt of jokes), but up until now I've regarded it as a term that Rachel Maddow and other pundits stuck on them -- appropriately, but still not one of their own selection.

To see this confused, flag-waving woman claim to be "Teabagging 4 Jesus", though, well, res ipsa loquitur.

43 marathons in 51 days from an unlikely runner

Posted on: Tue, 09/15/2009 - 14:29 By: Tom Swiss

A 47-year-old British man with only five weeks of previous athletic training has just completed running 43 marathons in 51 days. For seven weeks he's done at least 27 miles a day for six days a week, over 1,110 miles total.

No joke -- it's comedian Eddie Izzard, running for charity.

He did have the help of Olympic experts, and he's got blisters on top of blisters, but still -- it is truly amazing what potential lies within each and every "ordinary" human being.

and I thought the right-wing pundits were crazy....

Posted on: Mon, 09/07/2009 - 16:47 By: Tom Swiss

I've heard so much insanity from the politicians and pundits lately that it's refreshing to see some good ol' fashioned non-partisan crazy. Check out Alfred Lambremont Webre's claim that NASA is bombing extraterrestrial civilizations on the moon:

The NASA moon bombing, a component of the LCROSS mission, may also trigger conflict with known extraterrestrial civilizations on the moon as reported on the moon in witnessed statements by U.S. astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, and in witnessed statements to NSA (National Security Agency) photos and documents regarding an extraterrestrial base on the dark side of the moon.

If the true intent of the LCROSS mission moon bombing is a hostile act by NASA against known extraterrestrial civilizations and settlements on the moon, then NASA and by extension the U.S. government are guilty of aggressive war which is the most serious of war crimes under the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Conventions, to which the U.S. is subject.

LCROSS, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, is a real mission. And it is indeed going to crash into the moon -- just like meteors do all the time. But it's going to crash into the south lunar pole, where there might, in the shadow of a crater, be water ice. NASA is going to see if there's any water in the dust kicked up.

It's not going to hit the "dark side". So and ETs bases there are safe. (Chuckle.) Anyway, they would have to be dug in deep to protect themselves against natural impacts. Most of those natural impactors are of course much smaller, but are also traveling orders of magnitude faster. We're making this one happen where and when we want, but impact-wise, this is no big deal for the moon.

As for claims that Aldrin and Armstrong saw ET spaceships: rubbish. They saw a adapter panel from their upper stage, didn't know what it was at first (thus it was, literally, a UFO -- or perhaps more precisely, an unidentified orbiting object -- for a time), but later identified it.

Right-wing pundits oppose telling kids to stay in school and work hard

Posted on: Sun, 09/06/2009 - 02:00 By: Tom Swiss

And the madness continues...on Tuesday, Obama will give a speech where he will "challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning," and call on students, parents and educators to see that every child receives the best education possible. The speech will take place during the school day and will be broadcast to many schools.

You might think that this is Mom and Apple Pie stuff which no one could possibly object to. In fact, Bush the First gave a similar speech, without any incident or protest that I can recall. And you might think that everyone knows that most students will doze through it.

But in the foaming vitriol of the right-wing pundits, this is Hitler Youth type stuff. Finkelstein compares Obama's "plan for our children" -- that they work hard and stay in school -- with Mao Zedong. Beck calls it "capturing your kids." Malkin says he's recruiting "junior lobbyists."

So nutcases like Bryan Fischer, Pamela Geller, and Tammy Bruce suggest having your kids skip school.

So, it seem that the conservative movement, such as it is, is now officially opposed to education.

Res ipsa loquitur.

stroke improves man's vision

Posted on: Sat, 09/05/2009 - 00:31 By: Tom Swiss

I do so love a medical mystery. From The Daily Telegraph:

Retired architect Mr Darby, from Leicestershire, had worn spectacles since the age of two but was stunned when he came round after surgery to clear the blood clot causing his stroke, that he could see clearly without his glasses.


Malcolm suffered a major stroke on May 13 last year when he was working in his office at home in Oakham and managed to tell his wife Sylvia, 68, to dial 999 before he collapsed.

He was rushed to Kettering General Hospital for surgery where a two-hour operation was carried out to remove a blood clot that was blocking 80 per cent of his right carotid artery in his neck.


It is unclear why the stroke or the operation appears to have caused such a dramatic improvement in Mr Darby's sight but doctors believe there may have been pressure on the optic nerve at the back of the eye which was relieved as the clot was cleared

on 9/11 conspiracy theories

Posted on: Mon, 08/24/2009 - 16:30 By: Tom Swiss

The topic on 9/11 conspiracy theories came up in a Facebook thread today. Here are my posts from a discussion thread from Slashdot on this from last year, with a lot of links debunking conspiracy theory arguments. Quoted material is from other Slashdot posters (except as otherwise attributed), see the link for context.

Making multi minute phone calls from 30k ft with 2001 phone tech and no onboard plane phones (I already know its not possible, but would love to see them try)

You know that's not possible? So you tried it, eh? Please, post the details of your experiment.

Getting a 767 sim and attempt to fly the same path as pentagon plane

Why would you try it with a sim for a plane of a different model than the one that hit the Pentagon? Flight 77 (with a former co-worker of mine and his whole family on board) was a 757.

Of course, why let facts get in the way of a good batshit conspiracy theory?

Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | my blog
You cannot wash away blood with blood

why there was NO remainder of anything a passenger plane crash leaves in a crash site, and there were NO bodies, passenger belongings, pieces of bodies, ANYTHING but fairly intact TWO bodies in the scene.

Are you saying there were no bodies, or were you saying there were two?

Allyn E. Kilsheimer, CEO of KCE Structural Engineers (a company involved in providing emergency engineering and post-collapse assistance) said "I held parts of uniforms from crew members in my hands, including body parts."

Of course, once you reach the level of batshitness you've achieved, you can simply ignore his testimony by saying "they got to him too!"

And I'm sure you simply don't accept the claim that the remains of 184 people were identified; surely "they" got to all 102 DNA analysts, sample processors, logistics staff, and administrative personnel at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory. It's a DOD facility, after all.

Are you saying there was no debris from the plane? That's simply incorrect; hell, you can even see photos of a bunch of it at this batshit conspiracy site. And photos of the plane debris inside the building (where, in answer to your question about the lawn, most of it ended up, in agreement with conservation of momentum) can be seen at this somewhat less batshit crazy site. And some more photos here. And more photos, with amazingly detailed analysis, here

But I'm sure "they" got to the owners of all of those sites.

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