Stranger In An Even Stranger Land - blog by Gurdur


A blog of random jottings on events, science, renfairs, travel, reading, music, humanism, religion, atheism, and even the odd spot of gardening.


Some success: VICE take down their HIV-denialist story. But they do it weirdly

Posted 18-Feb-2015 at 09:55 PM (21:55) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 18-Feb-2015 at 10:07 PM (22:07) by Gurdur

Success of a sort: VICE have taken down their HIV-denialist story. I blogged about that story here, and I protested (with others) to @Vice and @ViceUK. Our protests worked. The webpage for the story now has the following:

"This article was mistakenly translated from another territory and has been removed."
What does that even mean? "Mistakenly translated from another territory"? I'll bet you the story was written in English first and foremost; see the writer's tweet...
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HIV-denialism is resurrected - by VICE magazine

Posted 18-Feb-2015 at 07:39 AM (07:39) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 18-Feb-2015 at 04:19 PM (16:19) by Gurdur

Around 20 years ago, you could hear the whimpers of HIV-denialism being soundly driven into rout. Denialism of HIV usually took the form of denying that the HIV virus causes AIDS. Even though I often blog on health matters, and my Twitter circles include many scientists and medicos, I haven't heard any real HIV denialism except that reported from places such as South Africa (where political leaders had given a huge boost to denialism). It kills. People died needlessly, many, because of such denialism....
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Odd mirror-images in Ebola and measles debates

Posted 11-Feb-2015 at 06:17 PM (18:17) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 11-Feb-2015 at 06:36 PM (18:36) by Gurdur

One of the odd things I noticed watching the social-media brouhaha over the latest measles outbreak in the USA was an odd mirror-image of attitudes towards quarantine because of Ebola. People who were critical of strict quarantine measures in the USA regarding Ebola were suddenly quite harsh in wanting punitive measures to back up mandatory vaccination for measles. People who were all in favor of harsh quarantine measures against Ebola seem quite relaxed with regard to measles vaccination. Both...
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I get by with a little help from my friends: an update

Posted 07-Jun-2012 at 12:45 AM (00:45) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 07-Jun-2012 at 01:19 AM (01:19) by Gurdur

Hi all, I'm recovering in hospital in Leverkusen following the operation on last Friday, and I have a great big row of metal staples down my abdomen; it's the first time I've been stapled rather than stitched. I get out of hospital on Saturday; I guess I'll take a pair of pliers to them to take them out on next Monday or Tuesday. I have also been put on a new med, azathioprine, and I will need to have my blood regularly checked often for a while to make sure the new med does not kill my bone marrow...
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Last personal update for a while

Posted 06-Apr-2012 at 05:24 PM (17:24) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 08-Apr-2012 at 07:27 AM (07:27) by Gurdur

Do pardon me please, another update on me. The facts: I had a long MRT in a very gruelling day yesterday. After the MRT, there was a long consultation with the doc. It had been originally thought I will be needing an op quite soon to remove about 30cm of ileum from me. It turns out after yesterday's very thorough diagnostic imaging I need to have around between 2 and 3 metres of tubing removed, and that semi-urgently, it's that bad. The problem is, any immediate operation would be a very bad idea,...
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A small personal update, and with thanks to many of you

Posted 03-Apr-2012 at 08:24 PM (20:24) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Apr-2012 at 09:14 PM (21:14) by Gurdur

As some of you know, I am going through a nasty patch. I will need to have the ileum, part and then some of the small intestine, completely removed. Unfortunately, this also means my health needs to recover a fair bit first, since operating on an inflamed colon is an extremely bad risk - the colon tissue tears easily leading to massive bleeding, other problems and the final big out.

There will also need to be a fair bit of post-op treatment, but hey. It could all be far worse. As...
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Rating: 12 votes, 5.00 average.

Free prescribed medications in the USA - patient assistance programs from pharmaceutical companies

Posted 04-Aug-2011 at 03:33 PM (15:33) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 04-Aug-2011 at 05:28 PM (17:28) by Gurdur

I live somewhere sane, so I don't need to worry about this all, but I have many friends in the USA, and I do blog every now and then on health-care, and on health in general. Very obviously a good many in the USA are in desperate straits when it comes to financing adequate healthcare for themselves, including being able to afford some ongoing prescription medicines. So here are some practical recommendations for such people. Please bear in mind I got most of this information from a book (details...
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How Dr.Spock & others helped bring about participatory medicine & genuinely informed consent

Posted 20-Jul-2011 at 11:22 PM (23:22) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

I'm in the middle of writing a huge, long, horribly complex blog post at the moment, but this is too good to pass up. A fascinating short paper on the history of medicine, and how Dr.Spock and feminists helped bring about the birth of genuine participatory medicine -- and thereby helped the birth of genuinely informed consent.

Lest anyone think that genuinely informed consent is not a big deal; let me quote from the paper:

The AMA’s original Code of Medical Ethics
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Data-mining Twitter for science, or is it? Mood-mapping and more

Posted 28-Jun-2011 at 06:00 PM (18:00) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 28-Jun-2011 at 06:46 PM (18:46) by Gurdur

Data-mining activity on the net is nothing new; it's been the Holy Grail of advertisers for the last 12 years or more. Data-mining the net for science is a bit more difficult, but it does get done - for example, Google data-mining Google to show flu infection trends around the world. Or the example of using Google Maps to plot swine-flu cases, then comparing that with air-travel traffic numbers between the USA and Mexico, and with tweets about swine-flu and other factors, which when all done as done here...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

The British National Health Service (NHS) healthcare coverage - very effective at cost

Posted 08-Jun-2011 at 05:50 PM (17:50) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 08-Jun-2011 at 06:11 PM (18:11) by Gurdur

The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation in the USA aiming to promote high-performing health-care, has released a new report (from which the graphic below comes), which analyses the health-care coverage systems of Australia, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands (often wrongly called Holland; Holland is actually only part of the Netherlands), New Zealand,the United Kingdom (UK, Britain), and the USA.

The analysis ("Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: How The Performance of the U.S. Health Care...
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What's in all that tear-gas?

Posted 01-Feb-2011 at 06:02 PM (18:02) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 10-Feb-2011 at 05:30 PM (17:30) by Gurdur

There has been a mysterious silence from the mostly American and then mostly British science bloggers this last week over the events in Tunisia and Egypt (let alone elsewhere); since there is a fair bit of cross-over with atheist bloggers, this is of course a rather unfortunate silence of theirs; no attempts at engaging with the situations or with Tunisians and Egyptians (let alone, say, Lebanese or Pakistanis, who face pretty bigger problems). This isn't good; if science advocates want people to...
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Rating: 16 votes, 5.00 average.

Male circumcision, arguments for and against. But the issue really fails to excite me

Posted 06-Oct-2010 at 03:31 PM (15:31) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 06-Oct-2010 at 05:50 PM (17:50) by Gurdur

Here's a breakdown of arguments against and for male circumcision - as perfomed by doctors in a hospital. This blog post is all owing to a recent discussion on Lesley's blog, where somebody tried flaming me in a silly way, and the fact that the controversy of male circumcision is one guaranteed to cause multi-page bloodbaths of threads on any large atheist board (I am an atheist after all, so guess where I sometimes hang out?). Rebuttals to each argument on either side are noted in red underneath...
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Pain: physical, emotional and mental pain, and self-injury/self-mutilation as management of emotional pain

Posted 14-Sep-2010 at 01:29 AM (01:29) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Feb-2015 at 12:56 AM (00:56) by Gurdur

Pain is a very damned complex thing, and it's not at all well understood. Pain can result from damage to the body, and it can occur without any damage to the body at all. There is the case of phantom-limb pain, where the sufferer experiences pain as coming from a particular limb, but that limb has long since been amputated - the treatment for that disorder is one of the things that made the neurologist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran famous. For another example, when you bite into a hot chili, you will...
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Newly-born infants, pain and pain-management; sucrose (in sugar water) as analgesic

Posted 13-Sep-2010 at 11:04 PM (23:04) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-Sep-2010 at 02:52 PM (14:52) by Gurdur

Routinely in hospitals throughout much of the Western world, if a short but painful procedure needs to be performed upon a newly-born infant (such as drawing a blood sample or administering an IV of antibiotics), then the infant is usually given sugar water, "a dose of one-tenth of a gram of sucrose, a concentrated sugar solution", as reported in a Guardian news item dealing with a new medical study. Yet that particular study has been used to make some strange recommendations; as per the news report:...
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Sunday/Monday blogs round-up - 12 September 2010

Posted 12-Sep-2010 at 06:40 PM (18:40) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Sep-2010 at 09:37 AM (09:37) by Gurdur

As posted before, anything I found in the wider blogosphere in the last couple of weeks, and felt interesting or worthy, and all quite random - keep in mind, I may totally disagree with any one blog post mentioned here, but I felt it worthy of mention. It also helps to have a fair few blog posts lined up on Monday to comment on.

A deeply interesting look at pain, infants and sucrose as analgesic in "When you prick me do I not cry?" . This is a very good blog post, and pain is a very...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Alzheimer's Disease - just what is it? The dangers of over-medicalization and over-diagnosis

Posted 10-Aug-2010 at 04:19 PM (16:19) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 10-Aug-2010 at 04:26 PM (16:26) by Gurdur

Continuing on the subject of Alzheimer's from my last blog post: The whole model of Alzheimer's as a separate disease entity is under debate; some go so far to deny it exists at all, e.g. Peter Whitehouse and Daniel George in their book The Myth of Alzheimer’s (USA edition, British edition). Denying it exists at all seems to me to be taking things a fair bit too far, though it's undeniable...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

If you don't want to be told you have Alzheimer's, eat fruit, and use it or lose it; the diabetes link

Posted 10-Aug-2010 at 03:57 PM (15:57) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 10-Aug-2010 at 04:37 PM (16:37) by Gurdur

There's a new study (citation below) out , reported about in the Guardian, that shows that almost 40% of those at risk for developing Wikipedia link for Alzheimer's Disease Alzheimer's Disease could undertake actions to avoid falling prey to Alzheimer's, the main actions discussed in the new study being:
  1. Use your brain or lose it - research consistantly shows that those who simply read more, or who do other intelligence-improving pastimes, are at much lower risk for developing Alzheimer's (more on this below).
  2. Eat more fruit
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Eating tomato paste daily helps protect against sunburn

Posted 29-Jun-2010 at 02:42 AM (02:42) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 29-Jun-2010 at 03:01 AM (03:01) by Gurdur

Just a quickie, an odd but very helpful bit of news; according to a new study, eating tomato paste daily helps protect against sunburn.

The researchers gave 10 volunteers around 55g of standard tomato paste [five tablespoons of ordinary puree] which contains high levels of cooked tomatoes and 10g of olive oil daily
Professor Lesley Rhodes, dermatologist at the University of Manchester, says, "The tomato diet boosted the level of procollagen in the skin significantly.
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Rating: 36 votes, 4.94 average.

Beetroot (red beets): good for sex, freedom and lowering high-blood-pressure

Posted 14-Mar-2010 at 03:50 AM (03:50) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-Mar-2010 at 04:37 AM (04:37) by Gurdur

Beetroot (red beet) is like sex -- it's usually good for you, but it does not survive bottling or canning in tins happily, people can be very odd about it, and it's been around in Europe since prehistoric times.

It was usually only eaten for its leaves, boiled or steamed and then tasting like spinach, up until the 1500's (leaf beet, leafbeet), when fatter-rooted varieties finally became common, spreading out from Germany into Russia, Poland and Scandinavia, and eating beetroot for...
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