Daily Archives: September 4, 2007

Bipolar Illness Soars as a Diagnosis for the Young

The number of American children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder increased 40-fold from 1994 to 2003, researchers report today in the most comprehensive study of the controversial diagnosis.

Experts say the number has almost certainly risen further since 2003.

Many experts theorize that the jump reflects that doctors are more aggressively applying the diagnosis to children, and not that the incidence of the disorder has increased.

But the magnitude of the increase surprises many psychiatrists. They say it is likely to intensify the debate over the validity of the diagnosis, which has shaken child psychiatry.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings. Until relatively recently, it was thought to emerge almost exclusively in adulthood. But in the 1990s, psychiatrists began looking more closely for symptoms in younger patients.

Some experts say greater awareness, reflected in the increasing diagnoses, is letting youngsters with the disorder obtain the treatment they need.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Health & Medicine

From AP: Men want hot women, study confirms

Science is confirming what most women know: When given the choice for a mate, men go for good looks.

And guys won’t be surprised to learn that women are much choosier about partners than they are.

“Just because people say they’re looking for a particular set of characteristics in a mate, someone like themselves, doesn’t mean that is what they’ll end up choosing,” Peter M. Todd, of the cognitive science program at Indiana University, Bloomington, said in a telephone interview.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch

Seattle Times: Blogs about politics on radar of state elections officials

The rapid growth of political blogs and Web sites has attracted the attention of state elections officials, who are considering what, if any, new regulations should be imposed on the Internet.

The go-slow approach by the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), which collects candidates’ financial information and enforces elections laws, is applauded by most bloggers and campaign experts, though some say policing the Internet is unnecessary and all but impossible.

As early as this month, the PDC may consider new political communication regulations, with much of the discussion likely to focus on whether to extend federal rules governing the Internet to local races.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet

Chip Webb: A Tale of Two (Potential) Bishops

Let’s see here. [Tracey] Lind at minimum foresaw the possibility of, and arguably advocated for, people leaving the Anglican Communion if the Communion ultimately proved rejecting of the Episcopal Church’s stance in favor of “full inclusion.”

That leads me to a question: How is Lind’s view concerning leaving the Anglican Communion substantially different from the view concerning leaving the Episcopal Church allegedly held by Mark Lawrence at the time of his first election as Bishop of South Carolina — the view that lead to the smear campaign against Lawrence?

Because at worst, progressives could claim that Lawrence at minimum foresaw the possibility of, and arguably advocated for, people leaving the Episcopal Church if TEC rejected the orthodoxy of the Anglican Communion.

Lawrence, to whom consent was not granted this last spring and who has now been elected by South Carolina a second time, was pilloried for, among other reasons, the supposed threat of leading that diocese out of the Episcopal Church. His greatest “sin,” to Episcopal progressives, seemingly consisted of statements like this one: “I shall commit myself to work at least as hard at keeping the Diocese of South Carolina in The Episcopal Church, as my sister and brother bishops work at keeping The Episcopal Church in covenanted relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion.”

Is that any more radical a statement of potential leave-taking than what Lind said? Of course not, particularly when your consider that Lawrence said the following just one paragraph prior: “I would ask you to consider the fact that many of us want to remain in the Anglican Communion as well as The Episcopal Church.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Jonah Goldberg: The media's Katrina malpractice

During last week’s bonfire of Katrina navel-gazing, there was virtually no mention of the hyperventilating and inaccurate media reports, even though this newspaper and the Times-Picayune (among others) received accolades for debunking the hysteria less than a month after the hurricane. Yet last week’s saturation coverage contained little or no mention of the media’s malpractice. It’s as if it never happened.

Why? I think the answer is complex, but three factors are surely involved. One, the media are often good watchdogs of government but rarely of themselves. While recycling old complaints about government is permissible, dwelling on your colleagues’ failures — or your own — just isn’t done.

Two, the media have convinced themselves that they did a wonderful job covering Katrina. Dan Rather spoke for his colleagues when he said “everybody across the board did such a good job.” It was one of the “quintessential great moments in television news . . . right there with the Nixon-Kennedy debates, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate coverage, you name it.”

And, lastly, journalists are invested in the dominant narratives of Katrina, and they’ll be damned if they’ll let go, particularly if it comes at the expense of their own credibility, or make Bush’s mistakes seem a little less horrendous.

No, it would be better, and much easier, to print the legend.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Hurricane Katrina, Media

Mail and Guardian Coverage of the recent African Consecrations

An Anglican bishop in Zimbabwe, who asked not to be identified, said homosexuality is a “sin” and urged gay and lesbian people to “repent”. Pressed for comment, the right reverend of the Anglican Church in Lusaka, Derek Kamukwamba, said the church was engaged in “dialogue” to come up with a position on the issue.

He then described American Anglicans, who ordained Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop in 2003, as “stubborn and arrogant”. Kamukwamba said stubbornness was “pushing people like Nzimbi” to consecrate anti-gay bishops. “We will not receive any gay priest in Zambia,” he pointed out.

Bernard Malango, the Anglican bishop for Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Botswana, described the consecration of Robinson as bringing “darkness, disappointment, sadness and grief” to the parishioners in his province.

Trevor Mwamba, the Anglican bishop of Botswana, when asked whether more US clerics would be coming to Southern Africa to be consecrated, said, “I hope not”.

Mwamba recalled the positions reached at the Lambeth Conference of 1998, which recognised that there are people “who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation”. This conference decreed that the church commit itself to “listen to the experience of homosexual persons”.

While it rejected “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture”, it called “on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”.

The conference, though, could not “advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordain those involved in same-gender unions”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Denis MacShane: The New Anti-Semitism

Hatred of Jews has reached new heights in Europe and many points south and east of the old continent. Last year I chaired a blue-ribbon committee of British parliamentarians, including former ministers and a party leader, that examined the problem of anti-Semitism in Britain. None of us are Jewish or active in the unending debates on the Israeli-Palestinian question.

Our report showed a pattern of fear among a small number of British citizens — there are around 300,000 Jews in Britain, of whom about a third are observant — that is not acceptable in a modern democracy. Synagogues attacked. Jewish schoolboys jostled on public transportation. Rabbis punched and knifed. British Jews feeling compelled to raise millions to provide private security for their weddings and community events. On campuses, militant anti-Jewish students fueled by Islamist or far-left hate seeking to prevent Jewish students from expressing their opinions.

More worrisome was what we described as anti-Jewish discourse, a mood and tone whenever Jews are discussed, whether in the media, at universities, among the liberal media elite or at dinner parties of modish London. To express any support for Israel or any feeling for the right of a Jewish state to exist produces denunciation, even contempt.

Our report sent a shock wave through the British government. Tony Blair called us in and told his staff to fan out throughout government departments and produce answers to the problems we outlined. To Britain’s credit, the Blair administration produced a formal government response setting out tough new guidelines for the police to investigate anti-Semitic attacks and for universities to stop anti-Jewish ideology from taking root on campuses. Britain’s Foreign Office has been told to protest to Arab states that allow anti-Jewish broadcasts.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Judaism, Other Faiths

In New Prayer Book, Signs of Broad Change

Religious denominations have learned that rewriting their prayer books can result in rebellions from their worshipers, both those wedded to tradition and those hoping for dramatic change.

Now the nation’s largest Jewish movement, Reform Judaism, is preparing to adopt a new prayer book that was intended to offer something for everyone ”” traditionalists, progressives and everyone else ”” even those who do not believe in God.

The changes reveal a movement that is growing in different directions simultaneously, absorbing non-Jewish spouses and Jews with little formal religious education while also trying to appeal to Jews seeking a return to tradition.

Traditional touches coexist with a text that sometimes departs from tradition by omitting or modifying some prayers and by using language that is gender-neutral. References to God as “He” have been removed, and whenever Jewish patriarchs are named ”” like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so are the matriarchs ”” like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. The prayer book took more than 20 years to develop and was tested in about 300 congregations. Its release has been delayed for a year because the initial printed product was shoddy, said people involved with the project. But the book is expected to be released in about a month ”” too late, however, for the High Holy Days, which begin Sept. 13.

“It reflects a recognition of diversity within our community,” said Rabbi Elyse D. Frishman, the editor of the prayer book. “We have interfaith families. We have so many visitors at b’nai mitzvah ceremonies that I could have a service on Shabbat morning where a majority of people there aren’t Jewish,” she said, referring to bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies on Saturday mornings.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Faiths

Notable and Quotable

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted in Uncategorized

Human-animal embryo study wins approval

Plans to allow British scientists to create human-animal embryos are expected to be approved tomorrow by the government’s fertility regulator. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority published its long-awaited public consultation on the controversial research yesterday, revealing that a majority of people were “at ease” with scientists creating the hybrid embryos.

Researchers want to create hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs, in the hope they will be able to extract valuable embryonic stem cells from them. The cells form the basic building blocks of the body and are expected to pave the way for revolutionary therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even spinal cord injuries.

The consultation papers were released ahead of the authority’s final decision on the matter, which will mark the end of almost a year of intense lobbying by scientists and a fervent campaign by organisations opposed to research involving embryonic stem cells.

Using animal eggs will allow researchers to push ahead unhindered by the shortage of human eggs. Under existing laws, the embryos must be destroyed after 14 days when they are no bigger than a pinhead, and cannot be implanted into the womb.

Opponents of the research and some religious groups say the work blurs the distinction between humans and animals, and creates embryos that are destined to be destroyed when stem cells are extracted from them.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

John Humphrys: In God we Doubt

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the little old lady might use a different vocabulary to try to explain why they believe, but it comes to the same thing in the end. They believe because they believe. This is not about intellect or learning: it’s more basic than that. It is both more profound and more simple.

I suspect that on the most primitive level it is not all that different from the little scrap of blanket that so many small children rely on. They need it whenever they get tired or life looks a bit threatening.

I invite you to imagine the impossibly grand figure of the Archbishop of Canterbury sitting on the steps of his cathedral with his thumb stuck in his mouth, stroking his bearded cheek with the little bit of satin at the edge of his comfort blanket.

This image may not do a great deal for the dignity of the primate’s office, but the comfort blanket is not a million miles away from what religion offers at its most simplistic. Strip from Christianity the notion of proof, evidence and historical events (or nonevents) and what drives belief has little to do with the head and a great deal to do with the heart.

Many atheists, as my list suggests, say that people believe because of the way they were brought up: children are credulous and accept what they are told. As they grow older they get rid of their comfort blankets and often the beliefs with which they were inculcated. But not everyone does that ”“ and even those who do may return to belief, in one form or another, in later life.

There remains what the atheist philosopher AC Grayling calls “the lingering splinter in the mind . . . a sense of yearning for the absolute”. There is a profound longing for something that will stimulate and satisfy emotionally and spiritually.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Notable and Quotable

The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence.

–Thomas Merton

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Notable & Quotable, Spirituality/Prayer, Violence

Colorado Police Link Rise in Violence to Music

After a spate of shootings, and with a rising murder rate, the police here are saying gangsta rap is contributing to the violence, luring gang members and criminal activity to nightclubs. The police publicly condemned the music in a news release after a killing in July and are warning nightclub owners that their places might not be safe if they play gangsta rap.

“We don’t want to broad-brush hip-hop music altogether,” said Lt. Skip Arms, a police spokesman, “but we’re looking at a subcomponent that typically glorifies, promotes criminal behavior and demeans women.”

The actions of the police have angered the hip-hop community here, mostly blacks and Latinos, many of whom live in this city because of ties to the Army and Air Force bases here.

“If we were talking about a rock bar or a country bar here, none of this would be happening,” said James Baldrick, who runs a local hip-hop promotions company, Dirty Limelight.

“This city wants to shut down hip-hop,” said Mike Cross, 26, who was outside Eden Nite Club, a popular downtown venue that plays hip-hop, with a group of friends on a recent night. “They don’t want it to survive.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music, Violence

Sunday Times (London): Pentagon ”˜three-day blitz’ plan for Iran

THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.

Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.

Debat was speaking at a meeting organised by The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal. He told The Sunday Times that the US military had concluded: “Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.” It was, he added, a “very legitimate strategic calculus”.

President George Bush intensified the rhetoric against Iran last week, accusing Tehran of putting the Middle East “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust”. He warned that the US and its allies would confront Iran “before it is too late”.

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Posted in Uncategorized