Sunday, April 29, 2007

No link between abortion and breast cancer

A recently released prospective study from the Harvard Medical School has concluded that neither abortions nor miscarriages increase the risk of breast cancer.

I am not surprised; this is not the first high quality study to refute the hypothesized link between abortion and breast cancer. Despite the lack of evidence, in 2002 the National Cancer Institute posted information on the link on its web site. In addition, several states, including Texas, require clinicians to warn women seeking abortions that they may be increasing their risk of breast cancer by going through with an abortion.

I hope that with this study the issue can be laid to rest. But I seriously, seriously doubt that this will be the final word.

The abstract and full text are available in the
Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

The Ethics of Profiting From Your Unethical Actions of the Past

Alan Milstein ( on Professor Phillip Zimbardo's recent appearance on Jon Stewart and the ethics of promoting and profiting from a book based on what Alan claims most bioethicists believe to be fundamentally unethical research.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Truth in advertising, and why Arby's is f*ing disgusting

Check out this truth in fast-food advertising website.

Not that I needed it, but it provides further proof to me that Arby's is quite possibly the FOULEST CRAP EVER.


Who is sick in your neighborhood?

Wow. Just came across
"Who's Sick," a cool online epidemiology tool.

"Who's Sick" is like a self-report disease symptom surveillance system. You can even find out if there are other 7 year old boys in your neighborhood who have runny noses. Guess what? I bet there are. Filthy little things.

Apparently you can even receive outbreak alerts by email. Granted, you're only going to find out about "outbreaks" among computer literate bored and/or OCD hypochondrics who have time to play around with stuff like this.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Our Infinite Capacity for Evil: A Stanford Psychology Experiment and the Virginia Tech Shooting

A few weeks ago I caught an interview on Democracy Now with the psychologist Philip Zimbardo in which he discussed, among other things, his new book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil Professor Zimbardo also had an appearance recently on the Daily Show.

The majority of this interview, and much of the book, chronicles the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. In this study, healthy college students were randomly assigned to play the roles of prison guards or prisoners while ensconced in fabricated prison. The experiment was terminated early, after only 6 days, when the principal investigators realized that their fabricated prison filled with normal young adults had transformed into a cruel reality in which sadistic guards and depressed prisoners went head to head in a malicious power struggle that culminated in scenes much like those captured on film at Abu Ghraib.

In a debriefing dialogue that occurred 2 months after the conclusion of the study, a prisoner confronted a guard about how much he was harmed by the experience. The guard refers to his behaviors as an act and justifies his actions as his successful execution of the study condition. The prisoner, despite his own experiences of transformation, is incapable of understanding how a nice college student was able to be so dehumanizing and degrading; he can’t imagine that he too has the capacity for such cruelty. In fact, he believes that there is something inherently different about the college student who treated him so cruelly:

GUARD: Well, you in my position, what would you have done?
PRISONER 416: I don't know. I can't tell you that I’d know what I’d do. I don't think, I don't believe I would have been as inventive as you. I don't believe I would have applied as much imagination to what I was doing. Do you understand?
GUARD: Yes, I understand.
PRISONER 416: I think I would have been a guard, I don't think it would have been such a masterpiece.
GUARD: I didn't see where it was really harmful. It was degrading…

Some thirty years later, Professor Zimbardo testified on the behalf of one of the officers implicated in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. He states, “…I testified, essentially talking about how the situation he was in and the other seven soldiers were in, in the basement of that dungeon, how that corrupted him and made him lose his moral compass.” Zimbardo continues in the discussion to discuss the role of the system in creating evil and corrupting good soldiers and recommends a certain amount of leniency or empathy for individuals transformed by a stressful, unhealthy, and inhumane system and a correspondingly hard hand for the architects that created and managed that system.

I highly recommend listening to the Democracy Now program, which was probably one of the best Amy Goodman interviews I have ever heard. I was so enthralled by this story that I had a major “driveway moment” in which I sat in my parking garage at work for…well, a long time.

When discussing the purpose of his new book, Zimbardo states “…what I try to capture in the The Lucifer Effect is that, it’s really a celebration of the human mind infinite capacity to be kind, or cruel, caring or selfish, creative or destructive.” After events like the shooting yesterday at Virginia Tech, I am certain that many of us are struggling with thoughts about human nature, the senselessness of such violence, and the meaning of evil. As human beings, our infinite capacity for hatred, despair, and violence, and our correspondingly powerful abilities to care, empathize, and love, is something we all need to consider.


Saturday, April 14, 2007



While in DC recently for a conference, my sister and I went on some late night walks all around town. Here is one of hte pics I took of the Washington Monument.
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Friday, April 13, 2007

Hurray capitalism and/or the Great Reclaiming of 2007

Observe: the lightning speed at which our culture moves:
Froogle "Nappy Headed Hos". And reflect, if your slow geriatric brain can even remember such things, on the length of time it took other words, like dyke to make that transition. Honestly, though, who the hell would buy a teddy bear emblazoned with the words Nappy Headed Ho?!

Next up: Lesbo.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Found: at coffee shop

Found this stuck on the wall of a coffee shop. Note that some enterprising med student or something tried to help in their own way by suggesting a diagnosis.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Cult of Graduate School and the Decision to Quit (made by someone else)

Here is a great post in which Scrivener explains why it’s just not worth it to finish the dissertation. This was a frightening post to me (because I really don’t want to quit at this point but I definitely entertain the idea on a regular basis) but it’s well written and obviously the result of a lot of soul searching. Does the dissertation relationship always have to be dysfunctional? Do our identities have to become so conflated with the diss? .

In the post, Scrivener directs us to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Educaiton about the cultish nature of graduate school. More to chew on.

These discussions are even more devastating in a field like mine in which there are no instructor or research faculty positions for ABDs.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Ms. Revolution

Props to Goldfish who recently wrote about the struggles of being a Ms. Like her, I am not really excited out being a “Ms.”—it’s just that I loathe being called a Miss or a Mrs.

Is it any business to anybody if I am married or not? The idea that my very identity is built on a foundation of my marital status is ridiculous.

But why is it that somehow people assume that women who request to be called “Ms.” are major bra-burning bitches?

Well, HELLOOOOO! I love my bras. But please call me Ms.

And for you naysayers…Okay, okay, so I took my husband’s surname. The truth is, I don’t like the whole system but I’m not throwing it out entirely. In fact I got into a big discussion about this over the weekend with a couple of women who had kept their maiden names. Did I feel like a major sellout? Actually no. (This is progress for me.) People need to get real and see the system for what it is. For the most part, women have 3 basic choices for a last name:
1- Keep your dad’s last name
2- Take your spouse’s last name (that came from his dad)
3- Make some kind of complicated hyphenation of names of the two dads, thus representing the joint male lineage that you should be so lucky to pass on.

The good news is that it’s becoming increasingly common for women to actually think it over and make their own decisions. Whether this is primarily driven by later age at marriage or other factors I’m not sure.


Monday, April 02, 2007

My Humps Part I and II

Somehow, I actually like both of these. For very, very different reasons. Enjoy!