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  • The Biology Behind the Milk of Human Kindness
    As the festival of mandatory gratitude looms into view, allow me to offer a few suggestions on what, exactly, you should be thankful for.

    Be thankful that, on at least one occasion, your mother did not fend off your father with a pair of nunchucks, but instead allowed enough contact to facilitate your happy conception. Be thankful that when you go to buy a pale, poultrylike entity, the grocery clerk will accept your credit card in good faith and even return it with a heroic garble of your last name. Be grateful for the empathetic employee working the United Airlines ticket counter the day after Thanksgiving, who understands why you must leave town today, this very minute, lest someone pull out the family nunchucks.

    Above all, be thankful for your brain’s supply of oxytocin, the small, celebrated peptide hormone that, by the looks of it, helps lubricate our every prosocial exchange, the thousands of acts of kindness, kind-of kindness and not-as-nakedly-venal-as-I-could-have-been kindness that make human society possible. Scientists have long known that the hormone plays essential physiological roles during birth and lactation, and animal studies have shown that oxytocin can influence behavior too, prompting voles to cuddle up with their mates, for example, or to clean and comfort their pups. Now a raft of new research in humans suggests that oxytocin underlies the twin emotional pillars of civilized life, our capacity to feel empathy and trust.


  • Alcatraz
    This is the 40th Anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz Island by the American Indian Movement (1969-1971), AND Football season so perhaps this little tale is timely.

    I was at Stanford during the great controversy (1970-1972) over the Stanford Indian Symbol for the Football team, and over Chief Lightfoot (Timm Williams, a Yurok Chief) and his Indian dance in full regalia at the start of every Stanford game .

    As I recall…



  • Autism treatment: Science hijacked to support alternative therapies

  • God Damn Know-It-All Young People Make Me Furious

  • Medical Marijuana: are we ready?
    As with any pharmacologically active substance, there are no “side effects”, only effects which we desire and those we do not. Given that cannabis is clearly a powerful pharmacologic agent, that there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence supporting its use, and that there is scientific plausibility to these claims, its potential use as a therapeutic drug should be investigated seriously.

    As marijuana becomes increasingly available for medical use, practitioners of science-based medicine need to evaluate the evidence for the use of this drug. In evaluating a new drug, we must ask a number of questions, including those of safety, efficacy, and perhaps redundancy. Claims for the efficacy of marijuana tend to be hyperbolic, with no condition being exempt from its benefits.


  • New Wound Dressing, Full of Antibiotics, Dissolves When Wound Has Healed


 

Comments

Thanks for pointing out 'God Damn Know-It-All Young People Make Me Furious'. Made my day!

the medical marijuana "controversy" is so...hesitant. apologetic, self-effacing. even glen beck supports full legalization. pot laws are a stain on the entire world, which follows america's lead in this matter.

making a common plant illegal to possess has got to be one of the stupidest, "big brother-y" ideas ever invented by the g-men. as for current reality: pot laws have ruined far more lives than pot ingestion ever has. bam.

The fact it is a common plant is irrelevant, and no I'm not making an argument that it should be against the law.

no I'm not making an argument that it should be against the law.

i didn't think you were. i don't really know how you feel about this issue, actually. if i had to hazard a guess i'd say if it's unreasonable you're against it. which makes me wonder why you would say the fact it's a common plant is irrelevant.

is it really? can you think of any other illegal plants? not talking about extracts or the results of chemical processing, but just the plants? i think even the opium poppy is legal to grow in your yard, and if not i can't imagine a law against it being enforced.

at any rate there are plenty (and by plenty i mean thousands) of psychoactive plants that aren't illegal to posess or ingest. many of them can kill you fairly easily. big brother isn't worried about those.

i wonder how many poor harmless freakazoids are sitting in jail for posession of mushrooms? not too many, i would guess. but pot? whoa, that's dangerous stuff, gotta keep it out of the hands of the populace.

i'm just ranting and guessing, haven't checked my facts. but i maintain: drug criminalization of any kind is just stupid. maybe drug use is, too, but that's our problem, it shouldn't be the government's.

does that make me a libertarian or something?

My point is nothing more than common doesn't equate with safe which you acknowledge. It seems to me that you used common to imply not dangerous. If that interpretation is incorrect perhaps you could explain why you used the word. That marijuana is common doesn't further the argument one way or the other. As I said it's irrelevant.

I smoked my share of marijuana when I was younger and share your libertarian view that it shouldn't be illegal. I quit smoking because the effects lingered long after I was ready to move on to something else and the effect of the drug prevented that. Smoke of whatever origin can't be good for your lungs and that is reason enough not to smoke. But we all make trade-offs Some of us eat too much, others use drugs. We all have our reasons and we all will suffer the consequences of our 'choices'.

common doesn't equate with safe

right, and unsafe doesn't equate with illegal.

in jewish law it would work like this, i think: it's illegal to dig a pit and leave it uncovered, someone might fall in. but it's not illegal to fall into a pit.

the modern business of illegal drugs is a huge pit, more like a booby trap, which exists soley because of the illegality of the commodity. why keep busting people for falling into it? and, as per your article, preventing chemo patients and other unfortunates from enjoying the benefits of one of the few drugs that isn't even dangerous?

jeez, i really do sound like a libertarian, using your blog as a soapbox. i don't think we even disagree on this issue. you would probably draw the line at "hard" drugs, while i wouldn't, but that's not what the article was about, so never mind.

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