From Scientific American:
Up to 20 percent of women who develop lung cancer have never smoked, U.S. researchers found in a study that suggests secondhand smoke may be to blame. A survey of a million people in the United States and Sweden shows that just 8 percent of men who get lung cancer are nonsmokers.
She said it is not clear why women may be more likely to get lung cancer even if they have never smoked. “There is a lot of controversy over whether women are more susceptible to smoking at all, whether direct or secondhand smoke,” Wakelee said in a telephone interview.
Among women who never smoked, the lung cancer incidence rate ranged from 14.4 per 100,000 women per year to 20.8 cases per 100,000. In men, it ranged from 4.8 to 13.7 per 100,000. Rates were about 10 to 30 times higher in smokers. This would translate to about 20 percent of female lung cancer patients having been nonsmokers and 8 percent of males.
Smoking is by far the leading cause of lung cancer, but radon, asbestos, chromium and arsenic are also associated with lung cancer.
Christopher de Bellaigue in the New York Review of Books:
Since the Turkish Republic was set up in 1923, no Turkish statesman has shown the necessary combination of courage and imagination to resolve the question of how the country’s ethnic Kurds, who are now estimated to number fifteen million people, should be treated. Turkey’s leaders have tried variously to isolate the Kurds, integrate them, and repress them, hoping that they might agree to live unobtrusively in a state that was set up on the premise that all its inhabitants, except for a small number of non-Muslim minorities, are Turks.
During the past twenty years, several million Kurds have moved from their homes in southeastern Turkey to towns and cities further west, many to Istanbul—some to escape the state’s pitiless treatment of Kurds, others in the hope of becoming a bit less poor. Some of these Kurds have done what the state wanted them to. They have married Turks, or they have decided not to teach their children to speak Kurmanji, the Kurdish language that is most widespread in Turkey. They have taken their place in the mainstream Turkish economy and learned to enjoy Turkish food, pop music, and soap operas. In short, they have become the Turks that the state always insisted they were.
But there is another group…
Carl Zimmer in his blog, The Loom:
The discovery of H. pylori’s role in ulcers attracted a huge amount of attention to the bug, and to its effects on different people. In the late 1990s Mark Achtman, a German microbiologist at the Max Planck Institut for Infectious Biology, began to gather strains of H. pylori from around the world. He and his colleagues compared the DNA from the strains to see how they were related to one another. They found something strange. Most of the H. pylori strains they collected in China and Japan appeared to be closely related to one another. Based on the diversity of these Asian germs, Achtman suggested they had arrived in the stomachs of early Homo sapiens that moved into Asia some 40,000 years ago.
Further research by Achtman and others indicated that other ethnic groups also carried their own strains of H. pylori. A debate then emerged about how germ and host got associated in this way. H. pylori is not like the flu, which can move between continents in a matter of days. Scientists don’t know much about how it gets from stomach to stomach, but it seems to move mostly within families. So it would make sense that H. pylori’s genealogy tracked the genealogy of its hosts. On the other hand, some critics have argued, H. pylori might be a recent arrival in our stomachs. If it jumped from animals to humans on several occasions in different parts of the world, it might have produced the same patterns seen by Achtman and others.
In this week’s Nature, Achtman and his colleagues report the latest data on humans and their ulcer bugs. They argue that our histories are even more intimately wrapped together than previously thought…
Robert Scott Stewart reviews Choosing Children: Genes, Disability and Design by Jonathan Glover, in Metapsychology:
It has now been over twenty years since Jonathan Glover published What Sort of People Should There Be, which explored the then brand new field of genetic intervention. At that time, “no philosophers had written on genetic issues and it was widely believed that choosing genes for children was either impossible or at least not even on the horizon. So I had to make it all up myself” (114). In contrast, genetic intervention is now the subject of intense debate from a wide variety of fields, much of it empirically based.
One change to note in particular is the current inclusion in the debate of the narrative voices of people with certain conditions historically classified as disabilities. Ironically, however, these new voices have raised concerns about what used to be the least controversial area of genetic interventions in human reproduction; namely, interventions that would rid (potential) children of certain adverse genetic conditions. While there is still general (though not universal) agreement that we ought to eradicate certain genetic disorders, such as Tay-Sachs disease, sickle-cell anemia, and hemophilia, there is a great deal of controversy regarding what to do regarding genetically based disabilities. Consider, as Glover does, the recent case of Sharon Duchesneau and Candy McCullough, a lesbian couple, both of whom were deaf, who chose a sperm donor with hereditary deafness in order to produce a deaf child. According to them, their action was justified because deafness is not a disability or a disease, it’s merely a difference that is, moreover, worth keeping.
At the heart of this matter is how we are to define a disability.
The same idea came up in a number of the seminar papers presented by a significant contingent of Eastern European scholars at the conference. Zdenek Stríbrný, from Charles University in Prague, gave an especially interesting paper on “Shakespeare as Liberator—Macbeth in Czechoslovakia.” He pointed out that Macbeth has been popular among the Czechs almost from the beginning. The first translation of the play into Czech was published in Prague in 1786. The Czechs in fact made Macbeth their own and in general turned to Shakespeare as a way of establishing their legitimacy as a culture. In their efforts throughout the 19th century to translate Shakespeare, as Stríbrný writes, “they wanted to prove to the whole nation and the world that the Czech language was capable of coping with the highest achievements of European culture, even though it was, by that time, practically abandoned by higher society and spoken only by common people.” (As part of the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Czechs were forced to use German as the official language of business, politics, and high culture for much of the 19th century.) In short, the Czechs did not regard Shakespeare’s plays as something imposed on them. Rather they embraced these foreign works as a way of cultivating their own identity and freeing themselves from the hegemony of German culture.
more from Claremont Review here.
I am a Turk. Hrant was an Armenian. I write for Agos. He was Agos. Hrant, Agos’s Turkish writers, and Agos itself risked everything for a cause: to cease the hostility between Turks and Armenians; to bring the resentment and hatred to an end.
Hrant and Agos were a single flower blooming on the barren plains of Turkey. That flower was destroyed, torn from the ground. Everyone says: “The bullet fired at Hrant hit Turkey.” That’s true, but we need to ask ourselves in complete and transparent honesty: Who made the target for that bullet? Who targeted Hrant so the bullet would find its mark? Who held him fast so the shot wasn’t wasted?
Hrant wasn’t killed by a lone 17-year-old. He was murdered by those who made him a target and held him in place.
more from Taner Akçam at n+1 here.
Daniel Mendelsohn reviews the film Volver, directed by Almodovar, in the New York Review of Books:
The theme of returning to and suggestively recycling old material is at the very core of Almodóvar’s new film, the Academy Award–nominated Volver, as its title reminds us. The Spanish verb volver means not only “to turn” —there is, indeed, a recurrent visual motif here of windmills turning—but “to return” and, with a verbal object, “to do again.” Here, as in Talk to Her, two women are at the center of connected plots; here, as in All About My Mother, the emphasis is on motherhood. Most remarkably there is here a crucial allusion to the groundbreaking Flower of My Secret. For Volver takes as its donnée the plot of the very novel that Leo, in her quest for seriousness, had tried and failed to publish in the earlier film. Exactly like Leo’s novel, The Cold Storage Room, the new movie is about a mother (here called Raimunda), a lower-class cleaning woman, who learns that her deadbeat husband has tried to rape her daughter and, after the husband is murdered, disposes of the body in a freezer in a neighbor’s restaurant.
We eventually learn that these crimes —the incest, the murder, the mother’s willingness to do anything to protect the daughter—are echoes of, “returns” to, earlier crimes committed by Raimunda’s own mother; but this internal return is nowhere near as interesting as the larger one taking place here, which is that of Almodóvar himself once again returning, with delicious self-consciousness, to an old plot—one that sounded hopelessly excessive, too much like his own early work—and reconfiguring it, as he does here even more radically than in his other recent films, in the subtle but provocative manner of his mature style.
More here. [Photo shows Almodovar and Penelope Cruz on the set of Volver.]
From the website of Cornell University:
Three Lectures by Hans Bethe
IN 1999, legendary theoretical physicist Hans Bethe delivered three lectures on quantum theory to his neighbors at the Kendal of Ithaca retirement community (near Cornell University). Given by Professor Bethe at age 93, the lectures are presented here as QuickTime videos synchronized with slides of his talking points and archival material.
Intended for an audience of Professor Bethe’s neighbors at Kendal, the lectures hold appeal for experts and non-experts alike. The presentation makes use of limited mathematics while focusing on the personal and historical perspectives of one of the principal architects of quantum theory whose career in physics spans 75 years.
A video introduction and appreciation are provided by Professor Silvan S. Schweber, the physicist and science historian who is Professor Bethe’s biographer, and Edwin E. Salpeter, the J. G. White Distinguished Professor of Physical Science Emeritus at Cornell, who was a post-doctoral student of Professor Bethe.
To see the videos, go here.
Patricia Cohen in the New York Times:
Award nominations are generally occasions for exaggerated compliments and air kisses, so it was something of a surprise when Eliot Weinberger, a previous finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, announced the newest nominees for the criticism category two weeks ago and said one of the authors, Bruce Bawer, had engaged in “racism as criticism.”
The resulting stir within the usually well-mannered book world spiked this week when the president of the Circle’s board, John Freeman, wrote on the organization’s blog (bookcriticscircle.blogspot.com): “I have never been more embarrassed by a choice than I have been with Bruce Bawer’s ‘While Europe Slept,’ he wrote. “It’s hyperventilated rhetoric tips from actual critique into Islamophobia.”
Virginia Postrel in The Atlantic:
Cosmetics makers have always sold “hope in a jar”—creams and potions that promise youth, beauty, sex appeal, and even love for the women who use them. Over the last few years, the marketers at Dove have added some new-and-improved enticements. They’re now promising self-esteem and cultural transformation. Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty,” declares a press release, is “a global effort that is intended to serve as a starting point for societal change and act as a catalyst for widening the definition and discussion of beauty.” Along with its thigh-firming creams, self-tanners, and hair conditioners, Dove is peddling the crowd-pleasing notions that beauty is a media creation, that recognizing plural forms of beauty is the same as declaring every woman beautiful, and that self-esteem means ignoring imperfections…
Last fall, Dove extended its image building with a successful bit of viral marketing: a seventy-five-second online video called Evolution. Created by Ogilvy & Mather, the video is a close-up of a seemingly ordinary woman, shot in harsh lighting that calls attention to her uneven skin tone, slightly lopsided eyes, and dull, flat hair. In twenty seconds of time-lapse video, makeup artists and hair stylists turn her into a wide-eyed, big-haired beauty with sculpted cheeks and perfect skin. It’s Extreme Makeover without the surgical gore:
But that’s only the beginning. Next comes the digital transformation, as a designer points-and-clicks on the model’s photo, giving her a longer, slimmer neck, a slightly narrower upper face, fuller lips, bigger eyes, and more space between her eyebrows and eyes.
The recent cold spell in New York City has had many complaining. Maybe looking at a couple of these beautiful pictures from an ice storm in Switzerland last year will help:
More photos here. [Thanks to Saeed Zaidi.]
John P. Briggs, MD, and J.P. Briggs II, PhD, in TruthOut:
Resentment naturally contaminated Bush’s efforts to prove himself to his father and receive his father’s approval. The contradictory mix showed up in his compulsion to re-fight his father’s war against Iraq, but this time winning the duel some thought his father failed to win with Saddam. He could at once emulate his father, show his contempt for him, and redeem him. But beneath this son-father struggle lies a far more significant issue for Bush – a question about his own competence, adequacy and autonomy as a human being.
We have seen this inner question surface repeatedly, and we have largely conspired with him to deny it.
- On September 11, 2001, we saw (and suppressed) the image of him sitting stunned for seven minutes in a crowd of school children after learning that the second plane had hit the Twin Towers, and then the lack of image of him when he vanished from public view for the rest of the day. Instead, we bought the cover-up image, three days after the attack, of the strong leader, grabbing the bullhorn in New York City and issuing bellicose statements.
- In 2004, we saw and denied the insecurity displayed when the president refused to face the 9/11 Commission alone and needed Vice President Cheney to go with him.
- In 2003, we saw and suppressed the dark side of the “Mission Accomplished” aircraft carrier landing, in which a man who had ducked out on his generation’s war and dribbled away his service in the Texas Air National Guard dressed up like Top Gun and pretended that he was a combat pilot like his father.
More here. [Thanks to Pablo Policzer.]
Via Sean Carroll over at Cosmic Variance, Jessica Hagy’s graphical representations of life’s vagaries, presented on index cards, are genius. This one is entitled “We’re All Going to Hell.”
It is the fate of certain books, like certain phrases (“fascism”, “Orientalism”, “multiculturalism”, “racism”), to be used as bludgeons to beat up people whose views one dislikes. These verbal sticks often bear little or no relation to their original meanings, or, in the case of books, to what their authors actually wrote. I suppose I should feel flattered that “Murder in Amsterdam” is gradually turning into such a book.
Professor Cliteur wishes to beat up nihilists, postmodern cultural relativists, and multiculturalists, and uses my book as his bludgeon. I can only assume he has actually read it, but his version is certainly not mine. Nowhere did I suggest that the ideals of the Enlightenment are no better than radical Islamism. My descriptions of Theo van Gogh’s killer and his murderous ideology make it quite clear what I think of religious extremism. Either Professor Cliteur is incapable of grasping a complicated argument, or he wilfully misreads my book in order to classify me as a “post-modern relativist.”
more from Sign and Sight here.