A handful of stories from the last few days which I was too lazy to write about at the time:
- Teachers get advice on how to spot signs of ritual abuse—The Guardian, 2nd February 2007. Note the word being repurposed to mean the abuse of children by Christians who believe the child to be possessed or a witch. Many of the signs are a bit crap, and others would apply to more mundane forms of child abuse too.
- Brought to book: the poo lady's PhD—The Guardian, 3rd February 2007. Ben Goldacre find Gillian McKeith's PhD thesis:
There are lots of grand statements about research, with nice superscript numbers relating to references in the back. But when you chase to the back of the book to see what these academic documents are, they include such august periodicals as Delicious, Creative Living, Healthy Eating, and my favourite: Spiritual Nutrition and the Rainbow Diet.I found You are What you Eat frustrating and full of errors—it cited the safe drinking levels which were revised upwards in the early 1990s, for example. There are some good recipes in there, but often they are made needlessly complicated, and use exotic ingredients which would put it out of the price range of mere mortals.
Some of it is plainly absurd. As we get older, she explains,
the levels of RNA/DNA decrease.Okay.
If you do not have enough RNA/DNA,she goes on, you
may ultimately age prematurely. Stress can deplete your DNA, but algae will increase it. And that's not all.
Chlorophyll within the algae is a powerful oxygen generator for human beings.Back to GCSE Biology: it'll only make oxygen if there's light inside me, Gillian ...
- New Conspiracy: Israeli Genocide Against Lebanese — With Poison Balloons—The MEMRI Blog, 1st February 2007. This sort of panic is well recorded, and has a long history. There are examples of similar panics during the First World War, but this one seems to have the added legs of organisations willing to exploit it for political reasons.
- An indictment that the liberal left is oblivious to—The Guardian, 3rd February 2007, isn't on the web site, presumably due to intense embarrassment about the ungrammatical title. Oliver Kamm alleges that a mysteriously monolithic
liberal leftputs the rights of religious organisations over that of the individuals they oppress:
In the past century, material betterment and the steady diminuation of discrimination advanced progressive goals. Much of the left have [grr...—F.] yet to come to terms with this achievement. At the extreme, some who were once on the left have adopted the language and outlook of the right. They argue for what by any objective standards are reactionary positions. These include promotion of religious obscurantism in place of secularism; segregation of the sexes at public events; abridgement of free speech in deference to the sensibilities of those who claim themselves victims of Islamophobia; and, most pernicious, the resurrection in political debate of some highly traditional motifs of anti-semitic conspiracy theory.If you can get yourself to the library, it's on page 31.
- Tolerating intolerance is still this country's besetting sin—The Guardian (Comment Is Free), 4th February 2007. More comment on a related matter to the above.
- Muslims are now getting the same treatment Jews had a century ago—The Guardian (Comment Is Free), 2nd February 2007. One major difference, which is mentioned, but not dwelled upon, is that 19th century radicals-who-happened-to-be-Jewish were not fighting to impose Judaism on the populace as a whole, nor were they the ones wearing traditional Jewish dress as they had pretty much rejected religion. The tiny minority of violent Islamist fundamentalists claim to be fighting for their faith.