Thursday Thoughts

Remember Mitt Romney’s infamous “47%” comment?  Well, last month there was an article which said that the largest increases in food stamp aid were in … Republican-heavy counties.   There’s a statement at the end which shows the massive disconnect that conservatives have:

The increase in food stamps in those strongholds doesn’t mean Romney will lose votes, said Michael Franc, vice president for governmental studies at the Heritage Foundation, a Republican-leaning research organization in Washington.

“We’re talking about people who got pretty hammered by the economic meltdown,” he said. “It’s a temporary hand-up, not a permanent condition of life. They’ve gotten help, but it’s been something they’ve requested very reluctantly.”

In other words, if you’re a Republican, it’s only a “temporary hand-up,” if you’re a Democrat it’s “a give-away” according to them.   They don’t seem to get that doing away with the program – or other “reforms” – they propose will hammer those people.   It’s yet another example that makes me think the worst thing I could do to the Republican-controlled states is to give them what they say they want.

Sometimes there are stories that make me feel better about the younger generation.  This is one:

The child this time is 13-year-old Cassandra Lin, who two years ago came up with the idea of collecting used cooking oil in the Westerly, R.I., area where she lives and turning it into heating fuel for people in need.

As you might imagine, Lin didn’t actually set up a biodiesel refinery in her backyard. What she did was far more clever: She designed one of those rare systems in which everyone involved receives tangible benefits while also doing a social good. And now her organization, Turning Grease into Fuel (TGIF), is sopping up used cooking oil and generating more than 30,000 gallons of biodiesel annually. That’s $60,000 worth, and a total that offsets some 250 tons of CO2 emissions.

This is an “everybody wins” situation, and yes, green energy.  Waste cooking oil is a big problem for sewage plants, it’s something restaurants have to dispose of, and there’s a need for heating oil.  The oil doesn’t end up in the waste stream, the restaurants get to dispose of it, and people get heat.  All though of by an (then) 11-year-old.

The Good Thinking Society in Great Britain has a new award:  The Golden Duck:

Good Thinking will be awarding The Golden Duck each year to the person (or organisation) that has supported or practised pseudoscience in the most ludicrous, dangerous, irrational or irresponsible manner. The decision is based on nominations by the public, followed by short listing and then finally a vote among skeptic groups.

The inaugural winner, for “lifetime achievement?”  Andrew Wakefield.

In 1998, Wakefield was the lead author of a paper in the Lancet medical journal that suggested a link between the measles virus and inflammatory bowel disease. The paper also suggested the virus played a role in the development of autism. Wakefield later said that his research led him to believe that, instead of the MMR triple vaccine, children should be given a series of single vaccines. His statements led to alarm around the world, a drop in the rate of MMR vaccination and, in the UK, a rise in cases of measles cases.

In 2010, the Lancet formally retracted Wakefield’s paper and he was struck off the medical register after being found guilty of serious professional misconduct. Subsequent studies have found no credible link between MMR and either autism or Crohn’s disease.

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at Bristol University, said that Wakefield’s legacy was “many, many thousands of unimmunised children born over the last 15 years whose parents decided MMR was too risky at the time and subsequently have forgotten all about it. Measles rates are up and they will only decline when this accumulation of susceptibles has either had the vaccine or the disease.”

The story of this is something I’ve covered elsewhere, but it boils down to this:  He stood to make money if he could persuade people that the MMR vaccine “caused” certain problems,  he came up with a study that was seriously flawed, and as a result, thousands of children have gone unvaccinated and many have died as a result.  Diseases that were on their way to being a thing of the past are now making a resurgence, thanks to him, and the gullible idiots who believed – and still believe – him.

Finally, something lighter:  Take a jumping spider’s mating dance and put it to music.



Filed under Politics, Science

4 responses to “Thursday Thoughts

  1. overseasgranny

    Unfortunately I also looked at the inside-outside toasted cheese sandwich video and now I must go to the kitchen.

  2. Snoring Dog Studio

    Yay for Cassandra! If the younger generation doesn’t care about their future on this planet, then we’re all lost. That’s a great story.

  3. see above

    It makes me feel a little more positive about the future with Cassandra in the world.
    As for the RR’s they will expand the borders to make things fit their version of the world.