Anti-vaccine campaigner Jenny McCarthy says "I'm not anti-vaccine"

"Jenny McCarthy is claiming she is not anti-vaccine," writes Phil Plait. "Here’s the problem with that claim: Yes, she is. That’s patently obvious due to essentially everything she’s been saying about vaccines for years. Yet in an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times on April 12, 2014, she tries to ignore all that, and wipe the record clean."

The context of this change of heart? A lot of human suffering.

Celebrate World Homeopathy Awareness Week with homeopathyawarenessweek.org

It's World Homeopathy Awareness Week, so the Good Thinking Society (a nonprofit devoted to promoting rational thought) has put up a new site at homeopathyawarenessweek.org in which you will be made aware of a bunch of facts that homeopathy advocates are often slow to mention -- like adults and children who've died because they were treated with homeopathic sugar-pills, the tragic foolishness of Homeopaths Without Borders, who are memorably described as "well-meaning folk [who fly] into places of crisis in the developing world carrying suitcases full of homeopathic tablets that contain nothing but sugar. It is not so much Médecins Sans Frontières as Médecins Sans Medicine."

The more aware you are of homeopathy -- that is, the more you learn about all the ways in which homeopathy has been examined by independent, neutral researchers who've tested its claims and found them baseless -- the less there is to like about it. From ineffective homeopathy "vaccine alternatives" that leave your children -- and the children around them -- vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses that have been brought back from the brink of extinction by vaccine denial to the tragic story of Penelope Dingle, who suffered a horrific and lingering death due to treatable bowel-cancer because she followed her husband's homeopathic advice, being aware of homeopathy is a very good thing.

Read the rest

Painting babies' medical helmets

Robbo sez, "Artist Paula Strawn paints the plain white medical helmets of babies and transforms them into super awesome designs. The flight helmets and droid designs are really cool - but so are the Van Gogh and Seurat paintings. And the wee tykes look like they love 'em too."

The kids have flat head syndrome and have to wear the helmets; Strawn's done 1,300 helmets in 12 years, through her business Lazardo Art.

Artist Turns Babies' Head-Shaping Helmets Into Impressive Works Of Art [Mandy Velez/Huffington Post]

(Thanks, Robbo!)

HOWTO make a chattering-teeth tooth-brushing timer

Here's a Make HOWTO for converting a set of wind-up novelty chattering teeth to an electronic tooth-brushing timer and toothbrush holder -- take your toothbrush out, start it running, and the teeth will chatter for two minutes (the recommended brushing time).

Read the rest

Crowdfunding money to rebuild destroyed Montana family health clinic

Since 1976, Susan Cahill of All Families Healthcare has been in family practice in Montana, offering compassionate family/reproductive health services -- including abortion. It is for this reason that her clinic was all but destroyed by violent thugs, who even trashed her irreplaceable personal mementos. An Indiegogo fundraiser has brought in about $32K so far. Cory 14

It's tough being a cop

The life of a police officer is medically and pscyhologically ruinous, writes Erika Hayasaki: "Brian had been a healthy and fit ex-airborne infantry soldier when he began his policing career. But he eventually developed hypertension, anxiety, peripheral neuropathy, hearing loss, arthritis, and post-traumatic stress disorder." [Atlantic]

How Disney movies gave an autistic boy his voice


In Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism , Pulitzer-winning writer Ron Suskind tells the incredible story of how his son Owen disappeared into "regressive autism" at the age of three, losing the ability to speak or understand speech and developmentally degenerating across a variety of metrics, only to reemerge a few years later, able to communicate through references and dialog from the Disney movies he obsessively watches.

A long excerpt in the New York Times, generously illustrated with Owen's expressive fan-art, hints at a book that is wrenching and inspirational by turns. It reminds me of 3500, Ron Miles's memoir of raising a son with autism who was able to engage with the world through thousands of re-rides of Snow White's Scary Adventures at Walt Disney World.

Suskind is a brilliant writer, and the excerpt is deeply moving. I've pre-ordered my copy.

Read the rest

Humana screws Brandon Boyer for $100K worth of cancer bills - help him pay them


Our good pal Brandon "Offworld" Boyer has cancer. Lucky for Brandon, he signed up for medical insurance with Humana not long before he was diagnosed. Unlucky for him, Humana has decided unilaterally not to cover his cancer treatments and has stuck him with with a $100,000 bill. He's raising money from the Internet to help pay for his life-saving treatments. I'm in for $100. If you're thinking of getting insured, be warned: Humana will screw you and screw you and screw you.

Read the rest

Bee diarrhea conference underway

An amusing headline, but a serious problem for beleaguered beekeepers in England: "According to committee member David McLarin, nosema is becoming more prevalent in the South West and that is not good news as bees with the problem hardly produce any honey." [Exeter Express via Fortean Times]

Working causes death, warns science

"Get a life," warns the Economist. "Or face the consequences."

Where did all that quack-cure radium end up?


Glenn Fleishman writes, "A responsible dealer of the radioactive element radium, a substance once pushed widely as a quack cure, tried to keep the genie in the bottle. Theresa Everline explains that in the first half of the 20th century, Frank Hartman, known as the Radium Hound, kept track of accidents and incompetence in handling radium. His diaries reveal that radium lingers in forgotten places."

Read the rest

Silver Ring Splints: stylish custom jewelry/medical appliance for people with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome


Ask-a-Zebra has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which makes her joints and muscles prone to painful dislocation. In a great post, she documents her experience with Silver Ring Splints, custom-made jewelry that stabilizes her hand and helps her write and type -- while looking absolutely awesome.

Read the rest

BART riders may have been exposed to measles

FYI, Bay Area readers — if you rode BART between February 4 and February 7, you may have been exposed to measles by an unvaccinated student who picked up the disease on a trip to Asia. Symptoms are similar to those of a cold, plus a rash. If this matches anything you (even adults who have been vaccinated could probably use a booster) or your children have been experiencing, call a doctor.

State Department, Duluth hospital attempting to deport man in a coma

Three months ago, Pakistani exchange student Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa was injured in a car wreck. He's been in a coma ever since, in a hospital in Duluth, Minn. Now, his family fears he will be deported while comatose — stuck on a plane with little medical aide and delivered to an area of Pakistan that doesn't have the medical infrastructure he needs. What's more, this kind of thing apparently happens all the time. UPDATE: There seems to be a lot of miscommunication happening in this case between the hospital, the State Department, and the family of Muhammad Bajwa. Case in point, the State Department has since told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that they are not seeking to deport Bajwa, which seems to go counter to what the hospital understood and, possibly, what they told the Bajwas.

Fax Your GP: quick opt-out from insane NHS plan to sell your medical records


The UK National Health Service has initiated a plan to take the nation's private health records and sell them off to private companies in a process overseen by notorious multinational bumblewads ATOS. If you live in the UK England, your records -- mental health records, prescriptions, records of surgeries including abortions, and other sensitive personal information -- will be handed over to a wide-ranging group of companies all over the world.

Unless you opt out. And opting out isn't easy. There's no central place to opt out. Instead, you have to send a letter to your GP's surgery, which means you have to look up your GP's surgery's address, compose a legally sufficient letter, print it out, find an envelope and a stamp -- etc.

However! There's a better way. A group of volunteers whom I trust implicitly, including the astounding Stef Magdalinski (who made the Faxyourmp service that is the ancestor of Theyworkforyou) have created Fax Your GP, a dead-simple form that will look up your GP's fax number for you, create a form opt-out letter you can fill in in just a few easy steps, and then they'll fax that letter directly to your GP's surgery. I just opted out.

Read the rest