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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday


  • Chess Tactics

    It won't be long before I make my annual trek to the National Open in Las Vegas for a weekend of chess. And so my interest in tuning up my skills is currently at a high point. The link is to a site for practicing tactics that I consider outstanding. You can use it for free, but their paid memberships add some great features.

    If any onegoodmove readers are going to be in Vegas for the tournament and would like to get together for a cup of coffee drop me a note.

  • The Satirical Political Report - An Offbeat Look at the Hot-Button Issues of the Day » The ULTIMATE Case for Gay Marriage

  • Torture's Long Shadow

    It can't be said often enough.

  • The massive expansion of America's "Hard Left" - Glenn Greenwald -

    Speaking of waterboarding:

    KING: What was it like?

    VENTURA: It's drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It is no good, because you -- I'll put it to you this way, you give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.

  • Another acupuncture study misinterpreted : Respectful Insolence
    I have to hand it to acupuncture mavens. They are persistent. Despite numerous studies failing to find any evidence that acupuncture is anything more than an elaborate placebo whose effects, such as they are, derive from nonspecifice mechanisms having nothing to do with meridians, qi, or "unblocking" qi. Moreover, consistent with the contention that acupuncture is no more than an elaborate placebo, various forms of "sham" acupuncture (needles that appear to insert but don't or acupuncture in the "wrong" locations, for example) produce results indistinguishable from "real" acupuncture.

  • And let me say that again.

  • Science-Based Medicine » Acupuncture Does Not Work for Back Pain
    A new study which randomized 638 adults to either standard acupuncture, individualized acupuncture, placebo acupuncture using tooth picks that did not penetrate the skin, and standard therapy found exactly what previous evidence has also suggested - it does not seem to matter where you stick the needles or even if you stick the needles through the skin. The only reasonable scientific conclusion to draw from this is that acupuncture does not work.



Thanks for the super chess site link. Would have enjoyed meeting you in Las Vegas, but here in Rheims, France! Well Reims is kind of hard to pronounce. I wonder, do you speak French? Other languages? Thanks for your blog again. Always! From a faithful French reader;-)

Languages, well in addition to English, I speak Danish, and a little tiny bit of Spanish, but alas no French. I do think French is the most pleasing to the ear.

I read a book by Douglas Hoftstader about the French Language that I quite enjoyed.

Le Ton Beau De Marot: In Praise of The Music of Language

My Russian friends tell me that Bukovsky was a guy the Soviets hated - he was educated in cream of Soviet educational system, but they still couldn't manage to squeeze the decency out of him. He and Jesse Ventura are, as Greenwald puts it, just two more members of the 'hard left' - people who think that torturers and their masters are scum.

Keep up the good work, Norm.

Wow - WWJD? And i agree!

re: accupuncture.

you said: "The only reasonable scientific conclusion to draw from this is that acupuncture does not work."

Well, I don't know about that. I don't understand medical stuff very well, but it seems to me that reasonable modern scientific understanding of, for example, Chronic Pain Management (a frequent reason for Accupuncture) seems to be recognizing the importance of how the brain interprets the sensations it receives from outlying body parts. Recent treatment seems to focus on how to change the switches in the brain that send and receive various messages relating to those sensations. "Placebos" hold an important place as treatments for fooling the brain.

I think that Placebos are most effective when wrapped about with elaborate dressings. And, from this perspective, Acupuncture has great style. Full body charts of where to stick the pins, various spiritual, psychic and whatever circulation pathways always marked in different vibrant colors, a bit of fear factor to stimulate adrenalin (who isn't just a little bit scared of needles). Not to mention an "ancient Chinese wisdom" thing. I mean what's not to like?

I noted some time ago that one of the more effective Medical advances in this country was production of Band-aids with Micky Mouse and Duckys on them. They cured boo boos way faster than the plain old bandaids (tho even plain ones were better than a "it's just a scratch, get over it" response).

To be fair he doesn't deny there is a placebo effect.

He continues:

But let me back up a minute. Imagine if we were evaluating the efficacy of a new pain drug. This drug, when tested in open trials (no blinding or control) has an effect on reducing pain - it is superior to no treatment. When compared to a placebo, however, the drug is no more effective than the placebo, although both are more effective than no treatment.

Now imagine that the pharmaceutical company who manufactures this drug sends out a press release declaring that their drug is effective for pain, but that their research shows that a placebo of their drug is also effective (FDA applications are pending). Therefore more research is needed to determine how their drug works. Would you buy it?

That is the exact situation we are facing with acupuncture research.

and concludes

Once again we see that the best acupuncture clinical trials show that it does not matter where or if you place the needles. Since these are the two interventions specific to acpuncture, we can conclude (confidently, at this point) that acupuncture does not work and that any perceived benefit from acupucture is due to placebo or nonspecific effects.


Hi Norm,

Ever the rationalist eh? Bet you don't buy "laying on the hands" cures either. And, no doubt, when the computer gets all confused, you suggest "Operator error" instead of the evil genie living behind that blue light on the system unit (my personal favorite when it comes to superstitious behavior).

Oh no! I've been outed.

I do buy the bit about the evil genie when I'm too stupid or lazy to find a solution, and have reached my quota of "I don't know the answer."

I've found the "laying on the hands" cure works pretty well for stress.


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