Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chretien? Really?

I am the only one who was surprised to see Chretien giving a speech for the Liberal party? Where did this come from? My guess is that this is a last-ditch attempt to rally some undecided voters since the NDP took the lead in the polls...or maybe trying to convince NDP supporters? I don't even know...

What I do know is that this is sad. If you're voting Liberal, you're not voting for're voting for Ignatieff.  This flashback is really nice and all, but lets remember the Liberal who IS running for PM. If Ignatieff is elected PM, do you think Chretien will be standing by to fight his battles for him? Doubtful...

Instead why not elect a leader who can stand up for the nation without relying on parties or leaders-past to back them up. I don't see Mulroney giving any speeches...

Once again, the choice is yours: Ignatieff-led coalition or...well you get the point.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

As promised, a flashback piece

The following is an excerpt from an older article of mine discussing the link between autism and the MMR vaccine. You would be hard pressed to find a respectable authority who would suggest that a link exists between the two- this is the academic way of saying the two are not related.

Vaccines cause Autism - False. The relationship between vaccines (specifically the preservative thimerosal) and autism is based on a temporal (meaning time-relationship) argument. The MMR (Mumps-measles-rubella) vaccine is given to children at around 18 months of age (may be 16-20 months depending on the child), which is also the same time that the first clinical symptoms of autism begin to appear. This is based on one study in the UK's IBDSG department of the Royal Free Hospital in London, England done by Dr. Wakefield and colleagues with 12 children, however the relationship was only temporally linked in 8 of these children. Since then a plethora of studies have been done in the UK and US, none of which find any link between autism and vaccines. Furthermore, some studies actually report a non-relationship between vaccines and autism.

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

I leave you with this: millions of children receive the MMR vaccine each year. Why then, do only a very small number of them develop autism? Further, there are children who develop autism who have never been vaccinated. Without biological plausibility and a dose-response relationship, Bradford Hill would have a blast with this one...

Where's your license now, eh Doc?

The following is an article from the Globe and Mail which discusses the professional "road-bumps" of Andrew Wakefield (formerly Dr. Andrew Wakefield), the only researcher in history to find an association (temporal at that) between autism and the MMR vaccine.
Vaccine scare fallout

A doctor who claimed to have discovered a connection between a common childhood vaccine and the development of autism has been stripped of his license to practice medicine in his native Britain.

The General Medical Council took the disciplinary action against Andrew Wakefield earlier this week, after a lengthy investigation concluded that his research amounts to professional misconduct.

In 1998, Dr. Wakefield helped to fuel a parental backlash against vaccines by spearheading a study that linked the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination with the onset of symptoms associated with autism. The research was published in The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal, adding to its credibility.

But since then, one study after another has failed to find an association between vaccinations and autism. What’s more, it’s come to light that Dr. Wakefield was getting paid by lawyers mounting a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers on behalf of parents who believe their children were harmed by the shots. Earlier this year, The Lancet took the unusual step of formally retracting the paper.

Amid the controversy, Dr. Wakefield left Britain in 2004 and moved to Texas, where he started work as a researcher at an alternative medicine clinic.

Dr. Wakefield told the Associated Press he plans to appeal the loss of his British medical licence. On NBC’s Today Show, he said the council’s penalty is just “a little bump in the road” and reiterated his assertion that vaccines can lead to autism.

Source: Globe and Mail, Health and Fitness, Accessed June 2/2010

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sounds like its pretty clear...

It has finally become a major issue...will there be a coalition government if the conservatives win a minority?

As it turns out...probably. It seems like voters have two options in this election: conservative or coalition government of liberals, NDP and separatists, led by Ignatieff.

Yes, Harper is a little intense. You may not agree with his social-political ideals, but why not let him jack up the economy for a couple years- we'll get a bit closer to eradicating our national debt and establish a solid GDP. Then we can elect a more socially responsible government to spend the earned money on programs for the general public- and they'll have the funds to do so.

Or we can elect the Liberals...who will sink Canada further and further into debt, while throwing imaginary money at problems like early childhood development and health care. The problem is, if we elect a Liberal government, we'll still have to pay all of the money back at the end of the day...all the while your taxes will rise and rise...

Am I the only one thinking of the longevity of the economy? I don't expect many young students will have any legitimate comments which promote sustainability...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stroke Recovery

Do patients recovering from stroke (ischemic) receive enough rehabilitation?

There exists a "critical period" post-stroke where specific neuronal growth factors are upregulated, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). In fact, the critical period (5-14 days post-stroke) also involves a downregulation of proposed neural growth-inhibiting factors. This combination provides an excellent opportunity for cortical-neuronal regeneration following a stroke.

The problem is that patients recovering from a stroke are alone 60% of the time, and are inactive (sitting or lying in bed) 75% of the time (1). There is also a lack of stimulation and exercise, as most programs only engage patients for one to two hours of their waking day. Clearly, rehabilitation programs are not capitalizing on the timeliness of one's innate enhanced ability to recover from a stroke.

Further to this, in rehabilitation programs centred on upper-limb impairment rehab, patients engaged in a reaching exercise may only reach about 1/10 the amount, as compared to mice with similar impairments. The mice seem to make a significantly better recovery with increased reaching. It seems that the intensity of the stroke recovery program may play a major role in cortical-neuronal regeneration.

Should there be consideration for increased timeliness, duration, and intensity of stroke rehabilitation programs?

(1) Bernhardt et al. Inactive and Alone: Physical Activity Within the First 14 Days of Acute Stroke Unit Care. Stroke, 2004; 35:1005

Pecan Pie?

Does anyone know whether pecan pie should be made with white sugar or brown sugar?

Please comment if you have any advice.

Well that does it

That's certainly enough for me. I've studied biochemistry for 12 hours today...gosh darnit I'm watching a period of the Canucks game. I can't believe the hawks are up 5-1...who knew?

Lately I've been trying to live a little more- I used to study, study, study and stress myself out during exams. I've been letting loose a bit at the end of the night now, and I think my studying has been better. So far, I've done better on finals too.

It took me until 1 month before graduation to realize that I deserve (and need to have) a life outside of school- I'm satisfied with my accomplishments thus far, but I'm enjoying learning to live.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's with all the animosity?

I can't help but notice all of the blatant attacks on Conservatives on facebook lately. I'm surprised at the number of young people who are not just expressing their personal opinions on politics, political parties, or voting in general- they're actually organizing and promoting "stop harper" campaigns.

One photo even depicted an image of Stephen Harper at a rally alongside a black and white image of Adolf Hitler, as if to draw some sort of reasonable comparison between the two. I'll ignore the NDP logo in the top corner of the image for a moment, only to say that regardless of your political views, a collage of this sort is just disgusting.

At my high school is Sault Ste. Marie we were always taught to cheer for our own team- and cheer we did. We were taught not to insult or dis the opposing team, but rather to support our own team through our cheering. This is something that I've taken with me in life since those days at SBSS, which is why I have such disregard for "party-bashing" or "leader-bashing" during elections. I thought I had seen enough of it from Michael Ignatieff, but I was equally disappointed by a fellow SBSS alum's depiction of our PM as Adolf Hitler.

Point: Express your political beliefs. In fact, you're quite free to do so in this country. But sinking to the level of the current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada in all his "leader-bashing" glory...please, grow up. (I hope someone catches my hypocrisy!)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Word Derivation #2- what's that funny æ thing?

Æ, or æ, is an original Latin diphthong, which refers to two adjacent vowels in a word that are part of the same syllable, otherwise known as a gliding vowel. In english it is called 'ash' and is often replaced by 'ae' which, although incorrect for words originating from other languages where this is a letter, is generally accepted.

You may have seen this letter in words like archæology, hæmatology, encyclopædia, etc. So if you see the letters 'a' and 'e' beside each other where it seems like the 'a' isn't doing much, remember that it's actually representing æ, or ash.

Word Derivation #1 (the first of many installments): Alphabetical

The term alphabetical usually describes a list where the terms are arranged by their first letter's position in the English alphabet.

The term alphabet comes from the latin Alphabetum, which comes from the Greek Alphabetos. Alpha and Beta are the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, and thus when we refer to something as alphabetical, we refer to it's similiarity in organization to the sequence of the first and second letters of the Greek alphabet.

Am I the only one wondering where some words come from? If you have a word for me, comment below.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dear young people

As Rick Mercer points out, if you are between the ages of 18 and 24 and you want to scare the hell out of the people that run this country: VOTE! None of the major political parties are counting on it, and the polls have very little idea of how young people will vote (if they do). How's that for being rebellious?

This is something that I've been saying to the 'lower tuition' people for quite some time. Throughout the past three years there have been countless rallies from students demanding lower tuition fees- the sad part is, they don't realize that no one is listening. Let's try a thought experiment, shall we?

You are the government in power (whichever party- take your pick) and you have X number of dollars to spend on the Canadian people. You know that a large proportion of senior citizens vote in federal elections (in fact, this is the largest voting demographic in the country), and there are a growing number of senior citizens in this country (known as the aging population). You also know that only 37% of those aged 18-24 vote in federal elections, and they comprise one of the smallest voting demographics. As a political party, your goal is to stay in power (despite what the Liberals may say, they would hold onto it with their dear life too). Who are you going to give the money to? Assuming you have a basic grasp of stats, you'll probably want to invest in the people you know are going to vote.

This little thought experiment is precisely the reason why tuition fees keep going up. Every time young people don't vote, they communicate their lack of interest in federal politics to the party in power- and the government acknowledges this by reciprocating a lack of interest in young people, ie/ raising tuition fees.

I understand that education is funded by the provinces, but at least some of this money does come from the federal purse.

Point: if you are between the ages of 18 and 24 and you are passionate about something or anything and you want your government to listen to you and take you and your passion seriously, you need to start by voting. No one is going to care about tuition, global warming, save the whales, etc unless you vote. If you're not educated, then get educated.

Start here:

Look at these:  (listed alphabetically)

If you're really lost, the CBC voting compass may help:
Make a decision, and finish at the polls on May 2nd (school will be out by then- no excuses)

Of course...if you don't want to, then don't expect to complain about who wins.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Timmy's is the winner!

Timmy's is the winner of the "who has the best coffee" poll. It earned a whopping two votes, while Starbucks and 'other' earned a measly one. Ha!

This PROVES (please don't let my epidemiology prof read this) that Timmy's is the best. Not only because I am incredibly biased towards the 18% creamy goodness that is a double-double...but also because there's a WOOSTIE who used to work there.

Thanks for voting!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Heroic Death?

Attila the Hun - known at "the scourge of God" by the Romans- was the ruler of the hunnic empire from ~423-453 (the exact start date is unknown as it also correlates with his brother, Bleda's, death).

Attila was said to eat off of wooden plates while his lieutenants ate from silver, among other luxurious metals of the time. A simple man, Attila conquered a vast amount of Eurasia during his reign.His hoards pilaged, ravanged and destroyed towns, villiages, and cities- such as the city of Naissus- it is said that when the roman ambassadors visisted the city to meet with Attila several years later, they had to camp outside the city because they could not bear the stench of roting corpse within the city- in fact, no one could. His conquests included pilaging cities as prominant as Milan, Padua, and Aquileia (the present day city of Venice, Italy- actually founded as a result of Attila's attack on the city). He was truly an evil man...

And yet...with all his power, pillage, gold, and land...Attila the Hun died of an epistaxis, known more commonly as a noseblead. I guess heroes (or villians...depends on which side you're on- romans or huns) don't always die heroic deaths...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Where does the time go?

I must be the only guy in the world still doing homework at 12:30 on Saturday least the Canucks are playing now- some background noise.

Off to bed soon, thanks faithful blogger readers!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Show me the $

If anybody wants to get rich in 20 or 30 years...invest in hearing aids.
Not a day goes by that I don't hear a new song on the bus. Oh its not on the radio, mind you. Its often coming from the person sitting next to me, or maybe near me, on the bus. But occasionally...occasionally it comes from someone sitting far too far away. The music is just far too loud.

And I don't mean the "I'm an old man so turn down that racket", type of loud. I mean  the "hey, you're going to have significant hearing loss throughout 50-75% of lifetime if you keep that up". What really kills me is when people will say, 'well I have to have it this loud because I can't hear it otherwise" response: "guess why you can't hear it? Now multiply that by a factor of x number of years and you have a perfect recipe for the permanent hearing loss.

Not all of these people will develop hearing loss. Most won't. My guess is, most of them will get sick of Justin Bieber or Katy Perry, and Jazz music just doesn't sound as good when it hurts. But for the ones who do, I really do hate to say it, but I told you so.

Oh and so did the Canadian Hearing Society, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. So there.