A word of warning - owing to the Weekly Glance's attempted topicality some of the links below may be even more ephemeral than usual. (Tip - a search for cached versions of missing sites is often productive using either Google or The Internet Archive Way Back Machine.)
August 2nd 2004 Resurrection Inflation
August 4th 2004 War On Drugs
August 5th 2004 Pricks and Pills
August 7th 2004 The Bigots of Tampa
August 9th 2004 Eat, Drink and Be...
August 11th 2004 Christianized?
August 12th 2004 You Are What You Eat
August 13th 2004 Leprechauns of Atlantis
August 15th 2004 Google Trumps Bush Cards
August 17th 2004 Reagan and Bush
August 18th 2004 Chaparral Chicanery
August 20th 2004 ID is BS
August 21st 2004 Lured by Lourdes
August 22nd 2004 Cave of the Baptist?
August 23rd 2004 Saucer Silliness
August 25th 2004 Science Out Religion In
August 27th 2004 Dirty War
August 29th 2004 Playing the Games
August 30th 2004 Missing, One Empire
August 31st 2004 Miracle Babies
September 2nd 2004 Onward, Christian Soldier
September 3rd 2004 What a Revoltin' Development
September 5th 2004 Please, Enough Already
September 7th 2004 A Vision of Evans
September 9th 2004 Of Vipers and Bosoms
September 11th 2004 Teheran Street Lust
September 13th 2004 Saucers Go Triangular
September 15th 2004 Racist Murder in Darfur
September 17th 2004 Glamorgan Goes Hogwarts
September 19th 2004 The Watt Doctrine
September 21st 2004 Morality Report
September 23rd 2004 Sheer Hypocrisy
September 25th 2004 Disability Rites
September 27th 2004 Blair Impeachment Project
September 30th 2004 Rosy-Colored Spectacles
August 2nd 2004
August 5th 2004- "Acupuncture works" is the claim after "26 trials involving over 3000 patients" by a team including "Anna Lee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Mary Done of the New Children's Hospital in Sydney, Australia". The test looked at the ability of acupuncture to alleviate the feelings of nausea experienced by many post-operative patients. It was found that patients receiving acupuncture were 24% less likely to ask for anti-nausea drugs and that patients "were 28 per cent less likely to feel nauseous and 29 per cent less likely to be sick than patients receiving sham treatments, such as insertion of the needle at the wrong place or pretended stimulation of P6." P6, we are told, is a "pericardium" acupuncture point on the wrist. Pericardium is the membrane that surrounds the heart and quite what it has to do with either post-operative nausea or a point on the wrist is not clear. This is a very interesting account and will be worth following up as more details become available, but a couple of thoughts do occur straight away when reading the New Scientist report. Firstly, how does one tell where an acupuncture point is located? As the network of connections posited by this "therapy" is not detectable by any evidence-based methods, but appears to be subjective, where I say P6 is located may not be where you say it is. This has a bearing on the test procedure of inserting "the needle at the wrong place". What defines a wrong and a right place? Surely this will vary between practitioners and possibly between patients too. Secondly, what about "pretended stimulation of P6", how would that be done? 80 is wondering how you pretend to stick a needle in someone - is this even possible? Successful test or not, it may all be rendered superfluous if Singapore-based biotechnology firm Molecular Acupuncture (MA) can be believed. This article says that they are "on track to developing an acupuncture pill.." Initial tests, according to chief executive David Picard, are aimed at curing migraines by "mimicking the effects of acupuncture". This is quite a feat, as so far no one has suggested a believable, ie evidence-based, mechanism for the transfer of the effects of needle pricks on various parts of the body and illness. Molecular Acupuncture is backed by the Singapore government and $1 million is maybe small change to them, but if they have discovered a way of verifying the system of points or meridians in the human body that acupuncturists claim is there they could ask James Randi for that sum, as such claims are within the scope of his offer. Even if MA don't need Randi's prize money they could create a lot of goodwill by donating the sum to charity. As David Picard says "The research is focused on understanding, from a biological standpoint, what acupuncture does in our body." He is also quick to point out that his firm is not trying to "undermine traditional acupuncturists". If MA can show evidence for the "acupoints" and an underlying mechanism, something the traditionalists have not managed to do in "the thousands of years" they have been practicing, surely the firm will be doing them a favor. Whether Picard himself is anything to do with the scientific research side of MA is thrown into doubt by his statement "I don't intend to change mindsets. There are people, especially in Asia, who are eager not to put chemicals in their bodies, they can stick to acupuncture." Surely the people who are not keen "to put chemicals in their bodies" do this by eating and drinking every day of their lives....
Lured by Lourdes
- Karol Wojtyla, also known as "the Pope", waved away the helping hands,
sprang to his feet, and skipped out of the Grotto of Apparitions like an
84 year-old lamb. The reason for this miraculous transformation was the
healing power of the
shrine at Lourdes, where in 1858 a
peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed to have had visions of the
Virgin Mary. Since then many thousands of the devout have travelled there
in the hope of a cure for their various afflictions. The Catholic
Encyclopedia (CE) contains the
estimate that in the shrine's first 50
years "about 4000 cures have been obtained at
Lourdes" but this is " is undoubtedly considerably less than the actual
number". The writer of the CE article "has
published the number of cases of each disease or infirmity, among them
tuberculosis, tumours, sores, cancers, deafness, blindness, etc."
Although the "Bureau des Constatations stands near
the shrine, and there are recorded and checked the certificates of
maladies and also the certificates of cure" as far as 80 can see
there is no follow-up to ascertain if any of these cures were permanent.
By now the astute reader will realize that the first sentence above is a
fantasy, if they hadn't already. Either Wojtyla's devotion to the Virgin
Mary (he believed she saved him after an assassination attempt) is not
reciprocated, or Parkinson's disease is not on Her list of approved cures.
The old boy left as infirm and as deluded as when he arrived.
Panzerkardinal - Karol had another setback recently when specific mention of a "Christian heritage" did not make it into the preamble of the European Constitution. One very good reason for this, beyond the obvious ones that it would have been divisive and ignored those of other faiths and none, is that the European Union (EU) is a secular institution, not a religious one. This point does not seem to sunk in with Karol's attack dog, one Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, boss of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Inquisition). Ratzinger has offered his unasked for opinion on Turkey's entry into the EU, saying that as an Islamic state it has no place there. This seems, apart from being typically arrogant, to be contrary to the spirit of an agreement, signed at the Vatican in 2002 by Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Head of the Papal Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and by Mehmet Yilmaz, the Head of Turkey's Religious Affairs office. This agreement has the aim of promoting religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Perhaps Ratzinger, known as "The Enforcer" or the "Panzerkardinal", has not heard of this or thinks it does not apply to him. Meanwhile, more unwelcome Catholic Christian news comes from a seminary in St Poelten, near Vienna Austria. The Vatican has closed it down because, in the delicate phrase used by Bishop Klaus Kueng, it has "veered away" from its mission. This was to train young men into the Roman Catholic church, and not, as it has turned out, child pornography. It must be an example of dogged, steadfast faith to stick with a system that has thrown up such scandals all around the world, and still not seek to find the cause within the Church's own doctrines. Bishop Kueng has accused the seminary leadership of "paying too little attention to recruiting requirements". So it is the people they recruited who are to blame and nothing to do with the environment these recruits found themselves in after their enrollment. (For a fascinating look at another, dark aspect of the Roman Catholic Church 80 recommends this article by Johann Hari "Islam isn't the only religion to spawn deadly sects. Look at the Roman Catholic Church and Opus Dei". While you are at Hari's site, do take a look through his archive, it is good stuff.)
August 29th 2004Playing the Games - apparently as unconcerned as ever by any element of truth, George W Bush is now associating himself and his "war on terror" with the 2004 Olympic Games. This campaign ploy does not sit well with everyone, particularly the Iraqi Olympic soccer team, whose views were made known in an interview with a US sports magazine. In the campaign ad the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan were shown, accompanied by the words "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations - and two fewer terrorist regimes". To those experiencing the upsurge of Taleban and warlord violence in Afghanistan and the instability of the newly "sovereign" Iraq, this must have sounded very hollow. It ranks with the notorious "mission accomplished" declaration, when the president used an aircraft carrier as backdrop for declaring the end of "major combat operations" in Iraq. That was when he dressed up like an aviator and performed a Leni Riefenstahl-type descent from above, in a specially painted S-3B Viking airplane, onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. We are not likely to see this aired during the current campaign, as the propaganda stunt, which cost US taxpayers a cool $1 million, when seen against the background of the current mayhem in Iraq looks even more ridiculous than it did in May 2003. (Here is more on the Bush administration's stagecraft.)
Deya Update 13 - the latest on conman and fantasist Gilbert Deya is here, including how he tricked his way into a royal photo opportunity and inflated the number given for members of his church, which must surely be dwindling at every outburst the "archbishop" makes in his defence.
Please, Enough Already - the Republican convention is making much of George W Bush's command of the "War on Terror", saying that he is the only man for the job. So, how are things going in the struggle? In Afghanistan a resurgent Taleban are doing their violent best to disrupt any chance of democratic elections and have driven away international aid organizations such as Medecins Sans Frontieres. Large parts of that country are governed by warlords with private armies, and the booming cash crop in the countryside is the opium poppy. Along the border with Pakistan, an area effectively beyond the law, is where the leaders of al Qaeda are most likely hiding, still free, and still plotting mayhem. Osama bin Laden has had a chance to regroup while the US and allies pursued another, unrelated goal, the invasion of Iraq and the ousting of Saddam Hussein. Iraq, never a base for al Qaeda or related groups, has become a magnet for such groups in the aftermath of the invasion and the continuing chaos, which Bush blames on the unanticipated "catastrophic success" of the invasion. Unanticipated perhaps, but only if the warning voices heard before the conflict were ignored. By his pre-emptive actions and sidelining of the UN, Bush has managed to alienate many allies, and dissipated much of the huge global goodwill toward the US that followed the 9/11 atrocities. He seeks 4 more years in office, using the War on Terror as a central plank in his campaign. Desperate to appear resolute, he admits no errors and intends to continue with the same team that produced the mess the world is now in. As the planet's only superpower, what happens in US politics obviously has a global effect. The question is, can the world take 4 more years of Bush?
Quote - "I think Senator Kerry should be proud of his record. No, I don't think he lied.'' George W Bush talking to the New York Times (reg req) It seems he may be less proud of his own record, given articles like this in USA Today.
80's Recommended Reading
©Copyright 2004 Ross W Sargent All rights reserved