Month: December 2006

Michael Crichton is Crazy

You may remember Michael Crichton (yes, his wikipedia link is possibly controversial, but it’s his controversy that’s being talked about here!) for his thrillers, or for being the Emperor’s chief consultant on climate change issues, but this story is bizarre and shines some insight into his very petty and screwy mind.

TPMmuckraker December 14, 2006 11:45 AM

Global Warming Denier Michael Crichton Fictionalizes Critic as Child Rapist By Paul Kiel – December 14, 2006, 11:45 AM The battle between anti-global warming activists their critics is frequently uncivil. Name calling, put downs, you name it, they fling them. But this marks a new threshold, I think.

This March, Michael Crowley wrote a cover story (sub. req.) in The New Republic hitting blockbuster novelist Michael Crichton’s very public denials that global warming was a proved phenomenon.

That was the last he’d heard from Crichton until he picked his latest novel, Next. Here’s what he found:

Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a r**e case involving the se**al assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have a**l s*x with her young son, still in diapers. Crowley was a wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate and heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. …

It turned out Crowley’s taste in love objects was well known in Washington, but [his lawyer]–as was his custom–tried the case vigorously in the press months before the trial, repeatedly characterizing Alex and the child’s mother as “fantasizing feminist fundamentalists” who had made up the whole thing from “their sick, twisted imaginations.” This, despite a well-documented hospital examination of the child. (Crowley’s p***s was small, but he had still caused significant tears to the toddler’s re***m.)

The emperor sure has some wise counsel.

Bisphenol A Linked to Breast Cancer

Chemical & Engineering News: Latest News – Bisphenol A May Trigger Human Breast Cancer

Soto and her colleagues exposed pregnant rats to bisphenol A at doses ranging from 2.5 to 1,000 µg per kg of body weight per day. By the time the pups exposed at the lowest dose reached the equivalent of puberty (50 days old), about 25% of their mammary ducts had precancerous lesions, a proportion three to four times higher than among the nonexposed controls. Mammary ducts from all other exposure groups showed elevated levels of lesions. Cancerous lesions were found in the mammary glands of one-third of the rats exposed to 250 µg/kg/day.

Bisphenol A is used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It is found in many food and beverage containers, including baby bottles. It is also found in canned food linings and dental composites, and it leaches from all of these products. In one study, Soto notes, urine samples from 95% of the human subjects contained the chemical.

The Environmental Protection Agency has set a safe human intake dose of 50 µg/kg/day for bisphenol A. “On the basis of the effects observed in recent studies, this seems to be an unsafe level,” Soto says.

Bisphenol A is old news, BTW, people have known for a while about this chemical’s propensity to carcinogenicity. Of course, there’s that whole argument about pregnant mice being more susceptible to chemicals than humans, etc. So, the jury is still out. but Soto is right, 50 µg/kg/day seems to not provide enough of a safety factor. The EU uses 10 µg/kg/day, though they do say that

realistic worst-case estimates of consumer exposure via foodstuffs, range from 0.00048 mg/kg bw/day for adults to 0.0016 mg/kg bw/day for infants, which is well below the maximum exposure level

Of course, who knows what additive effects this chemical may have with the multitude of other chemicals floating around. Doing tests of single chemicals and trying to link that to epidemiological data is a perilous undertaking, the connections are tenuous most of the time and the plastics companies routinely fund studies that prove otherwise, because as you know, if you know what you’re going to find before you study it, you will find it!

Read the wikipedia stub on polycarbonates. Us yuppies who drink religiously from Nalgene bottles to avoid phthalates and nasty tastes would do good to take note! I guess glass is the best, though it does have that annoying tendency to shatter when dropped… Water from glass bottles do have the best taste, though.

Condoms too big for Indian Men

This is precisely the kind of story that makes the most emailed list of the bbc news website. It’s got everything, obsession and insecurity about size, snigger potential, the chance to laugh at a whole race of not so well endowed men, etc!

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Condoms ‘too big’ for Indian men

The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms. It has led to a call for condoms of mixed sizes to be made more widely available in India. The two-year study was carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research. Over 1,200 volunteers from the length and breadth of the country had their penises measured precisely, down to the last millimetre.

The story does everything except tell you what the average length was and what the average condom length is, I guess they wanted to spare the blushes.

But this is the priceless part of the article…

But Indian men need not be concerned about measuring up internationally according to Sunil Mehra, the former editor of the Indian version of the men’s magazine Maxim. “It’s not size, it’s what you do with it that matters,” he said. From our population, the evidence is Indians are doing pretty well.

No, really! You don’t say!

All joking aside, an ill fitting condom is buzz kill, and a disincentive for men to use it. But isn’t girth more important than length? A condom that’s too long does not tear or slip off as long as it fits otherwise, it is a condom that is too tight that will tear. This article mentions a failure rate of 20%, but is that really length related? After all, latex is affected by heat and humidity, especially if the seals are broken. I don’t know. But vending machines are the way to go, as well as “fitted” prophylactics. After all, when you buy a pair of jeans, it is waist and length, right!

Industry flacks to write new EPA rules

Now if I were a journalist, that is the tag line I would use, not the lame byline used in this article. Greater is always good, right!

Greater Role for Nonscientists in E.P.A. Pollution Decisions – New York Times

The Environmental Protection Agency has changed the way it sets standards to control dangerous air pollutants like lead, ozone and tiny particles of soot, enhancing the role of the agency’s political appointees in scientific assessments and postponing the required review by independent scientific experts.

Now let’s see which famous “Industry advocacy group” may be behind this one…

The change, which largely tracks the suggestions of the American Petroleum Institute but also adopts some recommendations of the agency’s independent scientific advisers, was announced yesterday afternoon by the agency’s deputy administrator, Marcus Peacock. Mr. Peacock said it would streamline a cumbersome process and bring it “into the 21st century.”

Ah, the 21st century, where scientists know nothing and it is best for groups that will gain most from a weakening of legislation actually write the rules. This way, there’s no pesky “scientist” using “knowledge” to shape policy, only rules written for the short term gain of a few.

It gets worse

For one thing, agency scientists will no longer produce their own independent review of the latest science to start the process of deciding whether a pollution standard — for lead, say, or ozone — is tough enough to protect public health. Instead, initial reviews will now involve both agency scientists and their political bosses and will produce a synopsis of “policy-relevant” science, agency officials said.

“They are using this idea of streamlined and expedited decision-making as a Trojan horse to infect the most important decisions the administrator makes with politics,” Ms. Patton said.

In addition, she said, the role of the independent panel of scientific advisers — who act as auditors, reviewing the document produced by agency scientists and advising top management — has been diminished. The panel, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, will now comment on the agency’s proposed actions after the public has been notified of them, giving the scientists essentially the same kind of participation as industry lobbyists and environmental groups.

(Emphasis mine). And they wonder why morale at the EPA is low. There are hordes of good (not great, but good!) scientists at the EPA who spend all their lives working on each of their scientific niches, and to take away any decision making or policy input from them is dehumanizing their work. Wonder why the EPA has a lot of trouble attracting talent.