Nixon: Abortion is necessary... when you have a black and a white
Can't say I'm particularly shocked, but...

On Jan. 23, 1973, when the Supreme Court struck down state criminal abortion laws in Roe v. Wade, President Richard M. Nixon made no public statement. But privately, newly released tapes reveal, he expressed ambivalence.

Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster “permissiveness,” and said that “it breaks the family.” But he also saw a need for abortion in some cases, such as interracial pregnancies.

There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding: “Or a rape.”

Newly released Nixon tapes

Edit: Also consider the fact that most people who are in positions of power right now (hiring for jobs, for example) were part of the generation(s) that elected him.

When will people learn that you shouldn't believe stuff you see on the internet? Especially when it involves a very savvy, modern internet company supposedly doing trogdolyte-backwards things? By all accounts Amazon's been pretty damn well-behaved. They have great customer service, they're successful, smart to emerging web technologies... Why would you immediately believe some random dipshit on the internet claiming that Amazon is "banning" LGBTQ books? I mean personally, the first thing I figured was that some crazy conservative group decided to go and use the built-in moderation system (flagging of "adult" books) to mess with Amazon's automated rating system. Really, Amazon even lets people go and mark popular/heavily-marketed products such as Turbotax and Spore that pissed off their customers with 0 stars. Would a company like that "ban" LGBTQ books?

Point is, I wasn't far off in my initial thought. The only thing different is that it was probably some idiot kid in a basement instead of a crazy conservative group.

Edit: And here's Amazon's response (note the very strong mea culpa for making the scripting of the site vulnerable to exploitation). This isn't Amazon being anti-LGBTQ. It's bad programming that was exploited by an internet troll and fanned into a mini bonfire.

Friday TV watching
I will not be watching the BSG finale for another 12 hours. Don't spoil me please! :) My BSG-watching group/frak party is going to do a marathon of Part 1 and Part 2 of Daybreak together tomorrow afternoon.

Also I was pleased with tonight's episode of Dollhouse. I wasn't too impressed by the first few (coming off of being a huge Firefly fan, pretty much eh on Buffy), but this one was exciting AND interesting. Lots of questions now, particularly:

spoilers!!Collapse )

What a waste of money, brains, and time (autism vaccine "controversy")
A British reporter has finally gone back through the data from original "paper" that supposedly showed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

The findings are not pretty. The "doctor" Andrew Wakefield, the primary author on the paper (which has since been withdrawn by all the other co-authors), apparently went into the project with the explicit goal of "proving" that the MMR vaccine causes autism. All of the (12) children who supposedly only showed autistic signs before receiving the vaccine had actually showed signs of autism (as noted by their pediatricians) *before* receiving the vaccine. The so-called smoking gun biopsies of the children's colons that supposedly showed evidence of inflammation due to measles particles... well, the hospital pathologists who examined the biopsies for Wakefield way back then disagreed ("varied and unexceptional"). He and his team decided to just ignore the pathologists' reports because the reports didn't match with his specified goal.

This is so completely and utterly disgusting, I don't think I have words to describe my feelings. This man's lies have wasted millions and millions of dollars in research funding and scientist time and attention (to fund study after study after study just to show over and over and over again that there is no link between MMR and autism -- I'm sorry, at this point, some of the studies number over 100,000 people and if you can't find an association in that large of a study, it's not there). That money and time could have been going to REAL research into the causes and triggers of autism (we already know that there are definite genetic variants that increase risk of autism). Kids and even adults have been coming down with measles because our collective herd immunity to measles has been compromised. It's not thimerosal either because the prevalence of autism has continued to increase years after thimerosal was removed from vaccines.

Parents of autistic kids who are desperate for answers have clung to Wakefield's claims because they hope for an answer, any answer. Except they're wasting their money and emotional energy and he's only leading them on, giving them false hope for *his* benefit alone. He would've been a no-name doctor if he hadn't cooked up this idea for a sensational paper.

And now everyone suffers.

As a scientist, I'm so angry. The genetic studies we do cost a LOT of money (because it's expensive to get full genetic data on so many participants). Yet various groups have been successful in finding genetic variants that increase autism risk. Think of how many more studies could have been funded with the money that was wasted on repeatedly showing no evidence of association between autism and MMR. Wakefield totally perverted the scientific process. You don't go "hey I want to show X and well, even if the data don't show X, I'm going to claim the data proves X anyway!!!" And then say "well I don't care if your study shows X is not true, you obviously didn't do your study right because if you had, you'd show that X is true." If everyone in science worked that way, we'd never get anywhere because we'd be stuck on a merry-go-round. Can you imagine: "If you had just made more observations you'd have seen that the Earth isn't round, it's really flat. Go back and try again, you'll see I'm right." Ugh.

Quality Asimov fanfic?
After reading mctabby's Yuletide recommendations, I found my way to a few really good Asimov (particularly I Robot) fanfics...

If I was looking for more quality fics in that vein, is there a particular place to look?, as always, has quantity but not necessarily quality (or completed)

Those of you who know me have heard that I live in Hyde Park, just a couple blocks south of Obama. I live on the 16th floor of my building and I can hear *all* the cars on the road honking in celebration.

In other news, I can now be hopeful that there might be jobs waiting for me in science after I graduate.

Suggestions for history books
I'm trying to figure out what to get my dad for his birthday this year... this is the first year I'm really mostly on my own now that I'm out of college and I can actually afford a decent gift. You all are very intelligent and I figure there's a decent chance some of you might help be able to give me some advice.

My dad has developed a bit of interest in sort of comparative world history/civilizations, particularly in reference to China, but he's never had formal education in this area. I'm trying to find him a DVD set (preferably) or books (he reads fairly slowly so a DVD would be better) along these lines. Either something that's a sort of overview of the major ancient civilizations or an overview of ancient Chinese history. The best option (that probably does not exist) would be a DVD/book set that goes through ancient Chinese history and compares that to what was happening around the world in other civilizations. My parents took us to lots of museums when we were younger, so he knows a little about Mesopotamia, ancient India/Indus Valley, etc., but he has said he'd like to know about where those civilizations lay in time relative to what he knows about ancient China.

I looked on PBS, NatGeo, and the History Channel websites but couldn't find any suitable DVDs or books. The best I can find is the Guns, Germs, and Steel DVD set. Anyone have some suggestions? Thanks!

Edit: So, I did find something that would have been perfect: the BBC's Civilization documentary series from 1969... but it only covers the history of the Western world.

Need some votes
So the bf and I entered a contest (best Spore creature), based around Will Wright's next big game called Spore. We're in the top 10 right now and the final winners are selected based on number of votes from visitors to the site. Sooo... if you happen to have some free time and feel like voting ;) our creature is called "Telaridite." You vote by submitting a comment at the bottom of the page.

Ah Chicago
Gotta love Hyde Park, Chicago when most of the undergrads have gone home for the summer....

Walked outside our friend's apartment to catch the shuttle home and a guy and girl were having sex on the front steps of the building next door.

Standing up.

Also, one of our friends appears to have been scared into taking the shuttle home with us tonight since, well, he went to the big fireworks last night and found out later that there was a gang-related shooting nearby, shortly after.

Arthur C. Clarke is dead
Arthur C. Clarke is dead as a result of post-polio syndrome.


I really liked 2001 and 3001 when I was a teenager.


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