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On Every Dating Problem, Solved: An Interview With Chiara Atik

@Quinn A@twitter "Bachelor" makes me think about some of the patients I've met during dr. shadowing...men who never got married and who are sad and old and alone and eat out every night just to get a little human contact. The poor diet then contributes to the onset of diabetes/heart problems.

Posted on April 30, 2013 at 1:32 pm 0

On Chicago: Hot or Not?

I live ~an hour west of St. Louis. To me, Chicago is this tantalizingly accessible, but still inconveniently faraway wonderland; what I refer to as a "proper city," with a vibrant art scene, night life, &c.
The way Ms. Shteir describes Chicago actually reminds me of Moscow, which I /love/; however, it is not a city I would recommend to just anyone. *shrug* Every city has problems; people use different criteria to judge a city, and every place has its defenders and its detractors.

Posted on April 30, 2013 at 1:18 pm 0

On Good Boyfriend, Bad Boyfriend: The Game

@anachronistique I was really sad when they stopped airing it. That and "Gargoyles" both need to resume STAT.

Posted on April 28, 2013 at 12:47 am 1

On New Old Wives' Tales

@iceberg Heh, for me feeling more attractive involves the illusion of being two inches SHORTER, as I look up at the object of flirtation with doe eyes.

Posted on April 22, 2013 at 12:32 pm 0

On Hiking the Tetons

Basically any time you add a solute (such as salt) to a solvent (such as water) you're going to get boiling point elevation. So salt actually makes water boil more slowly, not more quickly.

I have a friend who lives "near" (50 miles is nothing in states like Wyoming) Yellowstone, and has invited me out a couple of times, enticing me w/ promises of camping. I look at her and whisper, "I don't want to disturb the bears."

Posted on April 20, 2013 at 2:38 am 0

On Baby Steps (and Shots)

@D.@twitter I forgot to add, ASD = Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm 1

On Baby Steps (and Shots)

@Bloodrocuted While we do know something about the etiology of austism, the regression you speak of is hardly the norm in all cases. I actually know a bit about this b/c right now I'm participating in a seminar entitled "The Molecular Basis of Autism." If you don't mind, I'm going to quote at length from a presentation I gave a couple of months ago (NB: These are my personal notes, so there is an informal tone/no citations in-text. H/e, if anyone is curious, I'd be happy to forward them a review I wrote [again, for this seminar] whose intro contains much of the same information, as well as a complete bibliography).
"ASDs are by and large considered to be of idiopathic or unknown origin. The complexity of this heterogeneous group of disorders makes them a challenge to research, identify, or treat. The fact that ASDs are frequently accompanied by other conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sensory processing disorders (SPD), and epilepsy only complicates attempts to elucidate their etiology. We cannot speak of 'causes' of ASDs so much as we can identify risk factors that will increase an individual’s tendency to develop an ASD."
"We do know that ASD generation has a significant genetic component, but identifying the specific genes involved has so far proven difficult. While generational studies have established the heritability of ASD, associated mutations can also arise de novo. A genome-wide study of hundreds of families with autistic members implicated hundreds of gene loci of interest without revealing any clinically significant consistencies. Some genetic features have been strongly correlated with ASD symptoms:
• Chromosomal abnormalities (deletions or duplications);
• Single-gene disorders such as Fragile X Syndrome (mutation of the FMR1 gene);
• Copy number variations (CNVs), in which a cell contains either lesser or fewer than normal single or multi-gene sections of DNA. CNVs are not deleterious per se, and are common throughout the human race; it is only certain CNVs—usually deletions—that are associated with ASD.
Most ASD-associated mutations tend to be homozygous recessive and hypomorphic, meaning that they result in only a partial loss of gene function; they mainly affect genes whose proteins are integral in neurodevelopment. Importantly, almost none of these mutations BY THEMSELVES are SUFFICIENT to produce ASD. This indicates that additional forces influence the ASD outcome, an idea corroborated by a 2011 study of identical twins, which showed that if one twin was diagnosed with an ASD, the other had a 64% chance of receiving the same diagnosis.
": It is thought that epigenetic and environmental factors also contribute to ASD. These two are obviously intimately and inextricably linked, since the epigenome is formed in response to the environment, and the state of the epigenome influences how an individual will, in turn, react to its environment.
Some examples:
• autistic patients show aberrant expression of long-noncoding (lnc) RNAs, which might result in irregular gene expression.
Known environmental risk factors include:
• Complications during pregnancy, e.g. hypertension, maternal diabetes
• Maternal infections during pregnancy
o Specifically, viral infection in the first trimester and bacterial infection in the second trimester were found to be associated with diagnosis of ASDs in the offspring
• Exposure to teratogens, e.g. thalidomide (access to sufficient levels = rare)
• Advanced parental age, but only seemingly in conjunction with other risk factors
• Low birth weight? Opinions vary."
"What probably do not contribute to ASD are vaccines. There is no compelling evidence linking vaccination to ASD. The 1998 paper by Wakefield et al. that has formed the foundation of anti-vaccination activism was recently formally retracted by its publishing journal Lancet for being both methodologically flawed and unethically conducted. Meanwhile, several large-scale epidemiological studies have failed to find any causal link between ASD and vaccination."
I will finally add the a fairly comprehensive review of recent literature seems to imply that ASD develops primarily in utero...way too early for vaccines to have any effect.

TL;DR: Autism is really complicated, but probably isn't caused by vaccines.

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 1:07 pm 10

On My So-Called Post-Feminist Life

@Scandyhoovian SOMETIMES I forget that this is the case, and try and read the comments. One of the best things about the 'Pin is that the comments can be just as insightful as the post. Inevitably, I start to feel rage, rage building behind my eyeballs and have to stop myself and think, "WAIT. I don't care what these people think, AND I DON'T HAVE TO." And then I close my browser window and entertain misanthropic fantasies.

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm 1

On My So-Called Post-Feminist Life

@Scandyhoovian I mean, I'm terrible at computers, but I want to learn hacking so I can join Anonymous. Bonus: activism can be accomplished while sitting at home, pantsless and eating pita chips.

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 12:35 pm 4

On Let's Talk a Bit About the Woman Who Regrets Her Kids

@Roaring Girl Exactly. I was like, "Umm, little less judgement would not be amiss here."
I can't find the exact wording, but this article brings to mind a biology textbook passage that quoted an old advertisement about seedless flowers, and how not having to put all sorts of resources into reproduction produced flowers that had superior beauty/longevity.

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 11:43 am 2