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The sextrum.

Fascinating infograph from Scientific American on just what chromosomes, genes, and hormones go into sex determination, what primary and secondary sex characteristics they result in, and what medical interventions can assist with addressing intersex conditions, if required.

2019-07-31T09:39:59+10:0025th February, 2018|Tags: culture, health, science|

Fake service.

On the growing harm of fake service dogs.

Seriously. I get that you love your pet and find it emotionally comforting. I do too. But unless you actually have a legitimate, trained, function-performing service dog from an organisation that specializes in providing them, don’t just whack a vest on your own animal and call it a day. Seriously. All you’re doing is making things a little less accessible for people with actual medical needs.

2017-09-12T11:09:06+10:0017th February, 2018|Tags: culture, health|

The orthorexia scam.

[Dietician Renee] McGregor’s main concern about clean eating, she added, was that as a professional treating young people with eating disorders, she had seen first-hand how the rules and restrictions of clean eating often segued into debilitating anorexia or orthorexia.

“But I only see the positive”, said [“clean eating” advocate Madeleine] Shaw, now wiping away tears. It was at this point that the audience, who were already restless whenever McGregor or I spoke, descended into outright hostility, shouting and hissing for us to get off stage. In a book shop after the event, as fans came up to Shaw to thank her for giving them “the glow”, I too burst into tears when one person jabbed her fingers at me and said I should be ashamed, as an “older women” (I am 43), to have criticised a younger one. On Twitter that night, some Shaw fans made derogatory comments about how McGregor and I looked, under the hashtag #youarewhatyoueat. The implication was that, if we were less photogenic than Shaw, we clearly had nothing of any value to say about food (never mind the fact that McGregor has degrees in biochemistry and nutrition).

Bee Wilson on the “clean eating” cult.

As Wilson mentions in her article, I suppose if there’s one upside, it’s that the prevalence of bullshit clean-eating fad diets has made it much, much easier for people who have actual food intolerance and allergies–particularly ones gluten- or lactose-related–to access a broader range of tasty and appropriate options. So, yanno. There’s that.

2017-08-23T10:00:42+10:0028th December, 2017|Tags: cw: dieting, food, health|

The addiction cage.

Really good visual comic about the Rat Park drug experiment, which aimed to study the relationship between drug addiction and social inclusion.

Also known as the “why don’t most people who get given morphine in hospitals turn into heroin addicts?” experiment. Spoiler alert: because drug addiction is just as much, if not more, about the social context of the user as it is about the chemical effects of the drug itself.

2017-07-05T08:59:26+10:0019th September, 2017|Tags: health, science|

Logic paralysis.

Interesting look at the difficulties of a highly intelligent man who, after a brain tumor, lost his inner emotional life. So what does, in fact, happen when you can no longer make decisions based on anything other than emotionless logic? Erm, well. A whole truckload of dysfunction, as it turns out…

2018-02-08T08:45:03+11:0019th July, 2017|Tags: health, science|

Runs in the family.

The genetics of mental illness. In particular, schizophrenia.

One of the reasons I’ve never had an urge whatsoever to ever try pot is because both my paternal grandmother and aunt were schizophrenic, with the latter in particular’s illness exacerbated by substance abuse. Which, yanno. It seems no one believes me when I tell them about the pot thing, until I follow it up with, “… because when my dad was a teenager his mentally ill, drug addict sister would set fire to the curtains in their house while everyone was asleep.”

I don’t want to be the next Aunty Tanya. If the illness manifests, I’d rather be Granny, who wasn’t violent, just… difficult. Ellipses intended.

Incidentally, we didn’t know about Granny until she died, and schizophrenia was mentioned on the death certificate. Apparently she’d been on medication for it most of her life, and had never told a single soul (or, at least, not her son or his family).

That’s stigma for you, I guess.

2017-09-28T13:51:25+10:007th November, 2016|Tags: cw: mental illness, health, mental health|

Counting.

Deconstructing the myth of the calorie. Tl;dr, it’s busted as fuck, mostly because there’s no reliable, in-the-field, way of measuring how many calories are, a) in any one dish, and b) absorbed by any one human in the digestion processes.

Also interesting here is the description of the first experiment to measure a calorie (though it wasn’t defined as such at the time, circa 1780), which basically involved putting a guinea pig on a block of ice and counting how fast the ice melted, and thus how much heat the guinea pig was giving off, and thus how many calories it was burning.

2018-02-08T08:48:11+11:0011th October, 2016|Tags: food, health, science|