Merry X-Mas

I had an interesting X-mas week, hanging out with the parents, seeing patients at my mom’s general practice and a very different set of patients in clinical studies at the NIH with my father. That, studying, and fulfilling the role of the good son by fixing every piece of technology in the parents’ house has been keeping me busy.

And then there was the fun of helping deliver my mom’s portuguese water dogs. This further reinforced my feeling that the human reproduction could be improved after watching this dog deliver puppy after puppy about twenty minutes apart with, on average, about 5 contractions each time. Watching the dog eat the placentas was pretty revolting though, at least that’s not a common part of our birthing process (before it’s mentioned Tom Cruise was joking people).

The puppies are cute – although difficult to differentiate considering they’re all little black creatures.

That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some interesting news to report. In denialism news the LA Times reports on fluoridation difficulties. Another article in a growing list suggesting the entire Sheen family should probably be disowned if you want your movement to maintain credibility.

Then there is the wonderful profile of a troll in the WSJ. The best part? The complete lack of insight. They talk to this guy, who’s really nothing more than a screaming asshole, and as many bloggers have long suspected, trolls really just have no idea just how pathetic they are. Kind of sad. In this case its someone who endlessly harasses political blogs with information attacking the blog’s candidate. This quote is classic:

Mr. O’Neill, who goes by the handle “thepoliticalguy,” doesn’t let the comments get him down. “If they think I’m a troll, then so be it,” he says, before immediately rejecting this premise. “It’s wrong! It’s wrong! Where’s the freedom of ideas?” He pounds the table. “If you’re on a site and you’re just agreeing with each other all day, where’s the argument?”

I think it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what argument is, or where certain arguments are appropriate. In this case, O’Neill might as well be showing up at a cat fancier forum to post articles on why dogs are superior. There’s a time and a place for such things, but it’s inappropriate in that location, and being an obnoxious pill isn’t argument, it’s clearly just antagonism. Anyway, a fun little article appealing to any blogger who has had their blog infested by this type of person.

On a more serious note, a guy waterboards himself and describes it for us. To the twits who say this isn’t torture, Scylla would beg to differ. Not that we didn’t know this already, as anyone familiar with the three approved tortures of the Spanish Inquisition understood there exists a five century precedent for calling this torture.

Finally, I’d like to point out the nice positive attention ScienceDebate2008 has been getting from the New York Times. Although, I think Tierney’s idea of a pop quiz is exactly what we don’t want, I appreciate that the debate is continuing to get exposure.

I hope everyone is having a nice break/holidays.