Plugs and Pugs!

Saturday , 14, December 2013 Leave a comment

In the wake of the busy holidays, I’ve been hard pressed to keep my fingers to the keyboard on a timely basis. Apologies!

That isn’t to say I’ve run out of topics to grumble about, as the internet is never short of complain fodder, but writing’s always been a time-consuming endeavor for me and I was taken aback by the cognitive load needed to ingest my turkey leftovers.

Not to fear, Grumbles will be back to its regularly scheduled schedule next week. In the meantime, check out these links to the stories and articles that I used as an excuse to avoid writing this week!

Invisible Child (NYTimes):

Last Sunday, a NYTimes editor tweeted that an upcoming article would change the way we thought about the world. This of course led to the hilarious hashtag #NYTimesguesses, with social media jumping at the bit to take mostly loving potshots at the Times for their grandiose.

Presented as a weekly series, the actual 5-part article on the trials and tribulations of Dasani, a 11-year-old girl who belongs to the growing population of homeless children in NYC, probably still doesn’t merit world-changing status, but it is a vitally important piece of journalism. Pieced together over two years with dozens of interviews, photos and documentation, Andrea Elliott weaves a compelling and damning narrative about the widening divide between the rich and poor in the greatest city in the world.

As a footnote, and certainly not as the first person to point this out, I’ll say that we have a tendency to center societal ills around their exceptional victims. Dasani is portrayed as an athletic genius-in-wait whose potential will surely be squandered by the failings of those around her, including her government. Which is truly heartbreaking, yes, but poverty, domestic abuse, and other problems of the day aren’t just worrisome because they deprive us of the Dasanis’ of the world, they’re horrible because they reduce everyone affected by them to subhumans struggling to survive.

Yet those sort of stories (and this is a very good one, mind you) always focus on the most heroic of victims, and that can make us blind to seeking justice and fairness for the not-so-perfect.

What this Depression Survivor Hears When You Call Religion a Mental Illness (Brute Reason):

Atheists who claim that religion is a mental illness seem to be saying that these people are just kidding themselves. Sure, they’re happy, but that happiness can’t be real because it’s the product of a mental illness. Or they think they’re happy, but they’re really not.

If this is what you believe about religious people, ask yourself why you think you know more about their mental state than they themselves do.

Friend and blogger Miri Mogilevsky of Freethought Blogs lays it down for the jabronis who still insist on equating religion to mental illness. While I’ve written about this topic myself, Miri breaks it down in extensive and honest detail. Definitely worth a read.

FDA issues warning to controversial Houston cancer doctor (USA Today):

Less a link than an update, Liz Szabo’s public exposing of Stanislaw Burzynski, a famed and infamous cancer quack, several weeks ago has apparently left the FDA with a bit more courage to put pressure on the doctor.

As Szabo reported Thursday, the FDA released to the public a letter of strong condemnation they sent to the Burzynski clinic, claiming he and his institute not only inflated the success rates of his experimental treatment, antineoplastons, they failed to report its side effects and prevent overdosing. It’s with great hope that this tactic by the FDA might lead to harsher penalties for the doc, including the permanent suspension of his scammy clinical trials.

Skeptical Connections #25:

This week’s podcast not only features my own buttery-smooth (and tasting) voice opining about the childhood heroes we grow up with, it’s also chock full of tidbits on the true meaning on Christmas…Or is that the Christmas Carol marathon I saw on Netflix last night? I always forget. Check it out!

And now for the pug!

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Me every day this week.

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