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Friday, June 12, 2009

Today in the News (12 Jun 09)

Vaccines:
Another "I told you so!" in the local news, whooping cough is on the rise in my neck of the woods. No deaths (yet), but this is disturbing.

And Bill and Melinda Gates get it. They want to help get vaccines to the poor. Just read the linked story, and look at the number of people who die worldwide from these diseases.

Autism:
Not much news here. The US Government is still moving forward with a promise to fund autism research to the tune of nearly $200 million a year. While this is encouraging, I must wonder why autism is the ONLY disorder singled out for this funding, while diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and such which cost the US billions more than autism. Don't get me wrong, it is a great boon to autism research, but is it done for a popularist and pandering reason as opposed to reality and data?

Since autism is often labeled as an epidemic, I found this review of some of the psychology behind "fear epidemics" rather informative. Like Kay said in Men in Black, "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow." I just love that quote, and it's so true!

Evolution:
I am linking to this article mainly because of a descriptive sentence, "This is significant because it is an example of how existing components can be used in evolution to make something completely new." How cool is that?!

While in general boring, this news about the different types of mussels that are found in the US great lakes does speak to evolutionary pressures. Since these are invasive species, understanding them more should help us deal with them better.

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