Tuesday, 31 August 2004


digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/ pancreatitis/index.htm
Digestive Diseases A-Z List of Topics and Titles: Pancreatitis

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is part of the National Institutes of Health www.nih.gov, Bethesda, MD, USA

Camel Spiders Truth & non-Truth

www.faunaimportuk.com/caresheets/cswindspider.htm Fauna Import UK Care Sheet: WIND SPIDER (Galeodes arabs (Origin: Sinai desert) Also known as Camel spider, Wind scorpions, Solifugid.

www.snopes.com/photos/bugs/camelspider.asp (Urban Legends Site)
Bugs: Camel Spider
Does a photograph show camel spiders found in Iraq?
Camel spiders, also known as wind spiders, wind scorpions, and sun scorpions, are a type of arthropod found (among other places) in the deserts of the Middle East. They're technically not spiders but solifugae (although, like spiders, they belong to the class Arachnida). Camel spiders are the subject of a variety of legendary claims, many of them familiar to Americans because they were spread by U.S. servicemen who served in the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and re-spread at the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003:

* Camel spiders can grow to be as large as dinner plates.

* Camel spiders can traverse desert sand at speeds up to 25 MPH, making screaming noises as they run.

* Camel spiders can jump several feet in the air.

* Camel spiders eat the stomachs of camels, hence the name "camel spider." (Legend includes the detail that camel spiders eat camel stomachs from either the outside in or the inside out. In the former case they supposedly jump up from the ground and grab onto camels' bellies from underneath; in the latter case exactly how spiders allegedly as large as dinner plates get into camels' stomachs intact remains unexplained.)

* Camel spiders are venomous, and their venom contains a powerful anesthetic that numbs their victims (thus allowing them to gnaw away at living, immobilized animals without being noticed). U.S. soldiers were said to have been attacked by camel spiders at night but remained completely unaware of their plight until they awakened in the morning to find chunks of their flesh missing.

According to most spider experts, these claims are all false. Camel spiders (so named because, like camels, they can be found in sandy desert regions) grow to be moderately large (about a 5" leg span), but nowhere near as large as dinner plates; they can move very quickly in comparison to other arthropods (a top speed of maybe 10 MPH), but nothing close 25 MPH; they make no noise; and they capture prey without the use of either venom or anesthetic. Camel spiders rely on speed, stealth, and the (non-venomous) bite of powerful jaws to feed on small prey such as other arthropods (e.g., scorpions, crickets, pillbugs), lizards, and possibly mice or birds. They use only three pairs of legs in running; the frontmost pair (called pedipalpa) is held aloft and used in a similar manner to the antennae of insects. Camel spiders shun the sun and generally hide during the day, coming out at night to do their hunting.

Tuesday, 17 August 2004

From Better Angels: Denmark, Scourge of Scandinavia

From the Better Angels blog ( http://betterangels.blogspot.com ) -- I thought this might be pertinent to a number of possible issues (and adds to some points in the earlier FTA Trojan Horse post).
betterangels.blogspot.com/2004/07/ denmark-scourge-of-scandinavia.html

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Denmark, Scourge of Scandinavia
I watched some of the Senate debate on the marriage amendment yesterday and was struck by Sen. Santorum's comments on Denmark:
"For example, the countries of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway have
either marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples. Sixty percent of first-born children in those countries are now born out of wedlock. Now, that is equivalent to some of the poorest neighborhoods in our society. Remember, I talked earlier about how the breakdown of marriage has affected the poorest communities in our society
and our culture, and in many of those cultures marriage is not accepted, and as a result the Government has to come in and bail out those communities because there are no unions, there are no families, there is no support network for these children? In middle-class and upper middle-class, socialistic, equality-driven
Scandinavia, where there are no ghettos of poverty that we see in America, 60 percent of first-born children in these countries are born out of wedlock. Why? Because marriage is not important. It has no meaning. So people simply do not get married."

due, of course, to Denmark's legal gay almost-but-not-quite marriage ( www.workindenmark.dk/registered_partnership). This is a common argument against gay marriage. ( www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/ 000/000/003/660zypwj.asp?pg=1).
Since Santorum and his ilk insist that this amendment isn't about discrimination but about protecting children, I thought I'd do a little compare and contrast between the good ol' U.S. of A. and gay lovin', bastard birthin' Denmark.
Infant mortality rate:US - 6.63 deaths per thousand born; DK - 4.63
Deaths due to abuse or neglect (averaged over 5 years): www.unicef-icdc.org/cgi-bin/unicef/main.sql?menu=/publications/ menu.html&testo=Lunga.sql?ProductID=353US
- 2.2 per 100,000 child deaths; DK - .07
Deaths due to abuse or neglect of a child under age 1 (averaged over 5 years):US - 1,889; DK - 8
Children living at or below the poverty line: www.unicef-icdc.org/publications/pdf/repcard1e.pdf
US - 22.4%; DK - 5.1%
Children in one parent families: US - 16.6%; DK - 15.2%
Percent of those children living in poverty: US - 55.4%; DK - 13.8%
Teen births: www.unicef-icdc.org/publications/pdf/repcard3e.pdf US
- 52.1 per 1000 women giving birth; DK - 8.1
The United states is one of only 2 states (Somalia is the other) that has not ratified the UN's Convention for the Rights of the Child ( www.unicef.org/crc/faq.htm).

All Danish children receive health insurance ( www.workindenmark.dk/pls/www1prod/efsdata.wid1? emne=Health_insurance_health&produkt =widen&tekst_id=0&show=1). American children do not ( www.census.gov/hhes/hlthins/chldhins/chhitxt.html). In Denmark, all mothers receive free prenatal care ( www.workindenmark.dk/Pregnancy).
Parents have a total 52 weeks of leave ( www.eurofound.eu.int/emire/ DENMARK/PARENTALLEAVE-DN.html) with a "subsistence allowance" guaranteed them following the birth of each child and each year receive quarterly tax-exempt family support payments for each child under 18 ( www.workindenmark.dk/Family_support). American parents get 12 weeks of unpaid leave and a child tax credit...unless they don't ( query.nytimes.com/gst/ abstract.html?res=F30A10FE34550C7A8EDDAC0894DB404482). Denmark has outlawed the physical punishment of children ( www.nospank.net/europe.htm), while in the U.S. physical punishment is legal except in prisons and some schools ( www.stophitting.com/disatschool/facts.php). While 98% of Danish mothers initiate breastfeeding ( www.lalecheleague.org/cbi/bfstats03.html). Only 70% of US mothers do ( my.webmd.com/content/article/ 54/65285.htm?z=1728_00000_1000_ln_07). Denmark enforces ( http://www.unicef.org/pon97/14-21.pdf ) the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes ( www.who.int/nut/documents/code_english.PDF). The US does not.

So you see Santorum's point, right? Me neither.

posted by Biblio ( bibliolexis@hotmail.com )

And in respect of the ongoing ABC language debate, you may enjoy this
Non e vero, e ben trovato
P.S. The last Nero Wolfe novel I read was Gambit, which opens with the hero tearing pages out of the third edition of Webster's and burning them for crimes against the English language. The crimes were much less severe than 'incentivize'.
( www.livejournal.com/users/vassilissa/241101.html )

Everything Old is New Again (again)

Bronze Roman cupping vessel, 1-79 AD.
[The practice went right up to nineteenth century in Europe.]
www.ingenious.org.uk/See/Medicineandhealth/ Classicalandmedievalmedicine/?target=SeeMedium& ObjectID={54682C35-B7D1-5115-7612-37AB730F1C63}&s=S1&viewby=images&

Picture Number:10289162
Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

This bronze cupping vessel is from Pompeii, Italy. Cupping was a popular Roman practice, which aimed to draw poisonous substances and 'vicious humours' from the body. A cup containing a piece of burning cloth was pressed onto the skin. The burning used up the oxygen in the air in the cup, producing a partial vacuum, which powerfully sucked the cup on to the body. Dry cupping was performed on unbroken skin; wet cupping covered a wound or deliberate incision, and drew out blood, pus and other body fluids.

Subject(s) > Medicine & Health > Classical & Medieval Medicine

Thursday, 12 August 2004

Beware FTAs bearing gifts - a modern Trojan horse

Though people object to particular examples of how this "Free TradeAgreement" may affect us badly, I'd ask you rather to look at the ideology at its base.

This Trojan horse provides a legal way to lock us into an extreme economic kind of fundamentalism. The same as in a world trade agreement rejected a year or two ago.

The ideology also affects any government or charitable ("non-profit")regulation or involvement in almost any part of society, including public schools, hospitals, heritage, arts, the environment & natural resources or national parks, even parts of defence, and calls it "unfair" or "subsidies". Eventually things like the Trade Practices Act, and many other legal protections for the land & the people (PBS, OH & S, etc) are struck down as "anti-competitive".

It says that the basis of society and democracy, particularly the Australian version*, is wrong. That public good and public service should only ever be a by-product of the drive to private profit; that the "best and highest" use of human effort and intelligence is to serve that aim, not to improve the world, express humanity, or whatever.

Any improvement or service provided in order to make money is to be the least possible, produced as cheaply as possible - whatever this means for your staff, your providers or the natural resources you use - for the highest possible price (called "efficiency" and "productivity"). This, for example, drives farmers to poor long-term land management to meet short-term price & supply demands from a buyer with the whip-hand, a situation common in Third World countries and becoming more common in Australia.

Another example will be the future history of NRMA, originally set up as acommunity based, though private, non-profit service-provider. Most of its recent troubles have been conflict over changing from that to this other basis of operation.

The costs - human, social, environmental - may be dumped on whatever poorly-funded government services are left, or in an ironic twist, also used as a source of profit, say by setting up a services company to bid for tax money provided (because government responds to public pressure) to help with the damage, as government services are cut, corporatised or privatised to follow this managerial ideology.

In this belief-system representative government and accountability are, like following the letter of the law, perhaps necessary evils, but to be used as sparingly as absolutely necessary. Law-makers should be lobbied &/or "donated" to, to make the laws, including tax, as favourable as possible.
It is thought to be better to pay this, or lawyers, public relations firms and advertisers to give an impression of a "good company" than pay the same money on being a "good company". That might set an expensive precedent, and not be noticed by those consumers who would prefer to use a "good company". Sponsorship should similarly be not just tax deductible -- so tax money is either paying much of it or is reduced by that amount so public services are disadvantaged -- but the splashiest for the money, not necessarily applied in the most useful way, or to the neediest cause. (Sally's "spin doctors" will confirm this, but use their "spinning" language to justify it).

Don't let people tell you "it's inevitable". So was the Thousand Year Reich, so was the Divine Right of Kings, and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Those who say that do because they want you to believe it & give up. They say: "Don't ask 'Who moved my cheese, and who has it now?' "; just accept it & adapt. But remember evil can only triumph when good people do nothing.

It's taken between 500 and 1000 years of struggle to get a legally-bound and legally-removable ruler, representative government with voting rights for all adults, support for the mentally & physically ill, injured workers & their families, legal rights for women & ordinary people, and everything that distinguishes a decent human kind of society from the rule of "strongmen" & their enforcers - the human equivalent of a baboon troop, ruled by force,fear & furtiveness.

Why prepare to throw away all those blood-bought lessons? Why knowingly step back down that path when we've seen, over & over,how destructive & brutal it is? Yet this is just what underlies this kind of agreement, opening up our agreed social contracts to legal challenge.

[* Australian version - A Tale of Three Prison Camps. During the Pacific war(there's an oxymoronic name), perhaps in Singapore, the Japanese army set upthree camps for prisoners-of-war from British, Australian, then Americanforces. They provided better supplies to the officers in each camp. TheBritish camp kept its distinctions & privileges, with antipathy betweenofficers & enlisted men; The American camp descended into 'free trade' ofrations, medicine, etc, so that some ended up sick, poor, without help, andothers became "King Rats". In the Australian camp, the officers & men sharedand each helped the other, so the survival rate at the end of the war wasbetter than the others.
This is the legend, and I'm sure it's simplified, but it points to the bestpurpose & moral foundation of Australian society as evolved from themid-nineteenth century until about the 1980s, when the "Free Trade" push --so reviled for many years for things like exporting wheat from Ireland duringthe Great Famine, because English markets could pay for it and starving Irish couldn't -- made a comeback.]