Thursday, May 20, 2010

Let's celebrate "Everybody draw Mohammad day!"

Yeah, I know - I swore not to write anything more on this blog, but this is far too important for words!

Today is "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day," an attempt to combat self-censorship in the name of tolerance, which is not so much tolerance as it is simply a cowardly cave-in to childish, but terrible terroristic tantrums of one set of fanatic followers of one religion. I believe there should be no such self-censorship OR government-imposed censorship to legitimate free speech, in the US or anywhere around the world - if an idea, yes, even a religious idea, is to be accorded respect in the world, it has to fight for attention in the same marketplace of ideas as a non-religious one. Terrorising people in the name of religion only begets terror - not respect. Respect is earned, and cannot demanded.

Heh, check out the alliteration - "terrible terroristic tantrums" :-)

Since I'm the world's most inept at drawing anything, I can't contribute a cartoon of my own to the archive, but I can certainly paste a link to THE definitive archive of Mohammad images through the centuries - including full-face depictions in Islamic art, no less:

An image of Mohammad (Medieval Art) from the above web site:

Mohammed receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. Miniature illustration on vellum from the book Jami' al-Tawarikh (literally "Compendium of Chronicles" but often referred to as The Universal History or History of the World), by Rashid al-Din, published in Tabriz, Persia, 1307 A.D. Now in the collection of the Edinburgh University Library, Scotland.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How I came to home hemo-dialysis training

The original blog post is here: How I came to home hemo-dialysis training on NxStage

You would have read my posts more than two years ago, for peritoneal dialysis and my training on the Baxter HomeChoice cycler (look at the very first few of my blog posts). Welcome to my hemodialysis training blog series!

I would much rather have posted a COPY of my own blog post, but the almighty google sayeth: "Thou shalt not use copy-and-paste, even from thine own blog post"


And therefore dear readers, please go forth to my new blog location because I will be damned if I use almighty google's blogspot ever again.

Cross-posting from my blog at

Hi everybody (all 3 of you!) :-)

After this loooooong absence, I bring to you the blog entries that I wrote for the NxStageUsers forum - all further blogging for a while is going to be in that location, so please consider reading them at their source. I will tryand re-post them here, with explanations of terms when I can, as I head towards the end of my training for home hemo-dialysis, and get to bring my NxStage System One cycler home.

Without more ado, here is the series.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bringing a slimebag to justice, after 30 years

Roman Polanski. That slimebag. Please please please extradite him, and bring him to the US, so he can pay for what he did to that child. And he can pay for the resulting crimes as well - running away, and being allowed to stay free in France (how disgusting is it that the French govt won't extradite this sorry excuse for a human being - one of the lowest slimebags I have had the misfortune to actually hear of).

And shame on you, Whoopi Goldberg and the rest of Hollywood! You who think the "poor widdle thing has already been punished by having to stay away from his dear country all these years" - DO YOU GET IT? This piece of slime DRUGGED AND RAPED a child, barely 13 years old. DO YOU GET IT? This pedophile DRUGGED AND RAPED A 13 YEAR OLD CHILD. So what if he makes good movies? I'd happily, joyously live without good movies than see this piece of slime go free.

Given my druthers, I'd much rather see this child-rapist behind bars, where I know he will be treated as he deserves. Evil, I know, given the state of prisons in the US, but oh so apt for Polanski.

You would be within your rights to ask why I haven't done anything about this until today. Because I didn't know he had drugged her first, before raping her. Because I had only heard his side of the story. No excuse, I know. I did know that his victim was young, but I didn't know she was literally a child. I didn't know what I could do about it.

Here's something I can do about this - I can at least try to publicize this petition to extradite Polanski and bring him to the US to face his crimes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blue Dogs - bite the hand that feeds you at your own peril

H/T Tula Connell of FireDogLake:

Blue Dogs Bite, Unions Bite Back!:
Sheet Metal Workers (SMWIA) General President Mike Sullivan:

The Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA), has decided to suspend all financial and intangible campaign activity in support of every political candidate until real health care reform is passed.

Not just "suspend all financial and intangible campaign activity" - but they are using the money well-saved to air a series of radio ads in in Montana, Iowa, North Dakota, and Arkansas. I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! The ads focus on Senators Chuck Grassley (IA), Max Baucus (MT), Kent Conrad (ND), and Blanche Lincoln (AR) - the last three supposedly allied to the Democratic Party.

And what cools my heart even more is to hear, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka has also warned the likes of Max Baucus and Kent Conrad (the Senate version of the Blue Dogs), and Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), Rick Boucher (D-VA) (both of them Blue Dogs) among others, that they are not going to get re-elected to Congress if they keep up their douche-baggery.

From Sam Stein at the Huffington Post:
Trumka's warning shots come at a time that the AFL-CIO is charting out a more aggressive campaign to target lawmakers who, as one official put it, "take labor's help but don't vote for labor's interests." Part of that process is to hold out the prospect of electoral consequences.

I am so happy to see progressives all over this country at last showing up the turds in Congress who are so happy to take our money at election time, but think we will forever put up with being sidelined when push comes to shove. And now that push has come to shove, if you do not vote for the progressive agenda, you will face your toughest ever re-election campaign, and that's a promise from this long-time (LEGAL) resident and soon-to-be citizen of these United States.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fantasy Dinner Party

Here's a tag my sis invited me to steal: Fantasy Dinner Party and so I am stealing (her dinner service idea, among other things - read on to find out what else I am stealing). All the following is assuming I will be allowed to be present in the room --> I don't need to eat with all these people, I just want to be free to interact with them, and listen and follow all the cross talk and everything.

The rules are:- you can invite anyone, living or dead- you have a table that seats eight, but as you are one, you can invite seven people- you have to explain why you'd invite them. And for bonus points:- what would you serve them for dinner?

The Guests:
Guest #1: Hypatia of Alexandria: A Greek scholar from Alexandria in Egypt, considered the first notable woman in mathematics, who also taught philosophy and astronomy. A woman who cultivated her mind, the first famous feminist (at least, as far as I am concerned), a mathematical genius. Murdered by a Christian mob, while defending the famous Library of Alexandria.

Guest #2:
Dr. Richard Dawkins: A contemporary scholar, quietly but VERY firmly atheist (*heh*), he is a British Ethologist, evolutionary biologist, popular science author, and was was formerly Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford. Dawkins is an atheist, secular humanist, sceptic, scientific rationalist, (all like me) and supporter of the Brights movement (UNlike me). Although mischaracterized as "Darwin's Rottweiler," he is actually a very gentle and polite person - I love the way he can give someone such a hard time, and do it all poitely, without raising his voice. My hero for the current decade :)

Guest #3: Subrahmanya Chandrasekhar: One of my favorite Indian scientists and Nobel Laureates - Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. He was a Nobel laureate in physics along with William Alfred Fowler for their work in the theoretical structure and evolution of stars. I LOVES me some astronomy, at the dinner table or otherwise!

Guest #4:
Sir Terence David John Pratchett: My very very very very favoritest (if there is such a word) author, is an English novelist, known for his frequently comical work in the fantasy genre. He is best known for his popular and long-running Discworld series of comic fantasy novels. I love him even more for mixing in real science with his usual witty comments about Discworld's magic, in the "Science of Discworld" series. I have Part 1, and am looking for the rest of the series (hint, hint - brother and sister! *wink*).

Guest #5:
Sri K. V. Guruswami: My mother's oldest brother, an absolutely fascinating man. I managed to get him to write a bit about his childhood, growing up with so many younger siblings - he obliged, but then got busy planning my brother's marriage ceremony, and has not updated his blog at all. Mama, I may not have bugged you about that, but I am plenty bugged, I tell you. This is a very public plea from me to PLEASE re-start your entertaining and well-written vignettes. I think I would be absolutely fascinated to follow his conversations with my other guests, and his musical discussions, in particular, with my next guest.

Guest #6:
Smt M. S. Subbulakshmi: The golden voice. She needs no more introduction. The goddess of Carnatic music. She might be used to people being overawed in her presence, but I am sure my mama would get over the awe toot-sweet - there's no way he would pass up a chance to talk music with the woman who simply blew through the glass ceiling for Carnatic concert performances (amazingly enough, when she was young, only men could perform in public...can you believe it!).

Guest #7: My father (another guest I have stolen from sis), Sri S. Ramanathan. For the same reasons as
sis states.

Guest #8: My father's brother, Sri S Tarakesan. For the same reasons that my
cuz states :-)

And what the hell, as long as we are cheating, why not make this a table that seats 10?!

Guest #9: My mother, Mrs. Kalpagam Ramanathan. A very thoughtfully different person under all that humility and shrinking-violet-ishness. It would be lovely watching her hold her own against all my other illustrious guests, although MS might just make her tongue-tied with awe :-) I watch her make instant friends here with, literally, strangers off the street, that she meets while on her daily up to an hour-long walks, and wonder where in the world this person was hiding all these years. Maybe her siblings might know.

And finally, to round it all off,

Guest #10: My mother's sister, Gomathi Natarajan
. I have heard so much about her from my mother, about how feisty, no-nonsense she was, intelligent and not hiding it, keenly interested in the arts, wanting, but unable to follow her academic interests, but finding other ways of learning than traditional schooling... Wish I could have known her better before she died. But this is my fantasy, so everything I want, goes!

The Menu:
Each person's top two favorite dishes from their favorite cuisines - and a third dish to be a choice presented to the table at large, per person. Most certainly not cooked by me - and because Amma cooks everyday, she will get a chance to relax this time.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

More about this later... but I found this most thoughtful!

Teesu, "hint, hint!" *heheheh*

Inevitable Conflict

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chiropractic is DANGEROUS nonsense -- edited to add lines apparently sanitized by his lawyers

(Note: this is the infamous article on chiropractic that got Simon Singh sued. It is being reposted all over the web today by multiple blogs and online magazines.)

Why should I be left out of the fun? :-)
h/t: Pharyngula

Edited to add the sentences from the original article (removed in the lawyer-sanitized version that I had originally posted. Corrections/Additions are in this font. Where you see odd stretches of no text, you will see the original text if you select it.

h/t: En Tequila Es Verdad

Some practitioners claim it is a cure-all, but the research suggests chiropractic therapy has mixed results - and can even be lethal, says Simon Singh.

This is Chiropractic Awareness Week. So let's be aware. How about some awareness that may prevent harm and help you make truly informed choices? First, you might be surprised to know that the founder of chiropractic therapy, Daniel David Palmer, wrote that "99% of all diseases are caused by displaced vertebrae". In the 1860s, Palmer began to develop his theory that the spine was involved in almost every illness because the spinal cord connects the brain to the rest of the body. Therefore any misalignment could cause a problem in distant parts of the body.

In fact, Palmer's first chiropractic intervention supposedly cured a man who had been profoundly deaf for 17 years. His second treatment was equally strange, because he claimed that he treated a patient with heart trouble by correcting a displaced vertebra.

You might think that modern chiropractors restrict themselves to treating back problems, but in fact some still possess quite wacky ideas. The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything. And even the more moderate chiropractors have ideas above their station. The British Chiropractic Association claims that their members can help treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying, even though there is not a jot of evidence. This organisation is the respectable face of the chiropractic profession and yet it happily promotes bogus treatments.The fundamentalists argue that they can cure anything, including helping treat children with colic, sleeping and feeding problems, frequent ear infections, asthma and prolonged crying - even though there is not a jot of evidence.

I can confidently label these assertions as bogus utter nonsense because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world's first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.

But what about chiropractic in the context of treating back problems? Manipulating the spine can cure some problems, but results are mixed. To be fair, conventional approaches, such as physiotherapy, also struggle to treat back problems with any consistency. Nevertheless, conventional therapy is still preferable because of the serious dangers associated with chiropractic.

In 2001, a systematic review of five studies revealed that roughly half of all chiropractic patients experience temporary adverse effects, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, dizziness and headaches. These are relatively minor effects, but the frequency is very high, and this has to be weighed against the limited benefit offered by chiropractors.

More worryingly, the hallmark technique of the chiropractor, known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust, carries much more significant risks. This involves pushing joints beyond their natural range of motion by applying a short, sharp force. Although this is a safe procedure for most patients, others can suffer dislocations and fractures.

Worse still, manipulation of the neck can damage the vertebral arteries, which supply blood to the brain. So-called vertebral dissection can ultimately cut off the blood supply, which in turn can lead to a stroke and even death. Because there is usually a delay between the vertebral dissection and the blockage of blood to the brain, the link between chiropractic and strokes went unnoticed for many years. Recently, however, it has been possible to identify cases where spinal manipulation has certainly been the cause of vertebral dissection.

Laurie Mathiason was a 20-year-old Canadian waitress who visited a chiropractor 21 times between 1997 and 1998 to relieve her low-back pain. On her penultimate visit she complained of stiffness in her neck. That evening she began dropping plates at the restaurant, so she returned to the chiropractor. As the chiropractor manipulated her neck, Mathiason began to cry, her eyes started to roll, she foamed at the mouth and her body began to convulse. She was rushed to hospital, slipped into a coma and died three days later. At the inquest, the coroner declared: "Laurie died of a ruptured vertebral artery, which occurred in association with a chiropractic manipulation of the neck."

This case is not unique. In Canada alone there have been several other women who have died after receiving chiropractic therapy, and Edzard Ernst has identified about 700 cases of serious complications among the medical literature. This should be a major concern for health officials, particularly as under-reporting will mean that the actual number of cases is much higher.

Bearing all of this in mind, I will leave you with one message for Chiropractic Awareness Week - if spinal manipulation were a drug with such serious adverse effects and so little demonstrable benefit, then it would almost certainly have been taken off the market.

Simon Singh is a science writer in London and the co-author, with Edzard Ernst, of Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial. This is an edited version of an article published in The Guardian for which Singh is being personally sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association.