Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Link Dump: Self-Harm, Andropause, and More

Here are a few things that I had planned to blog about, but don't have the time (I am editing a book this weekend). So rather than close the tabs, I'm sharing them as a link dump.

Nano Photos Rival Modern Art

Every six months, the Materials Research Society celebrates the most eye-catching images found in the course of their researchers' studies -- celebrating the serendipitous convergence of science and art.

Materials researchers may struggle for years with stubborn instruments, fragile crystals or difficult chemical reactions before obtaining a bit of precious data from the exotic substances they study. Now, the scrutiny of samples not only yields potentially important data, but also artistic inspiration.

Take a look at the latest finalists.

Silicon oxide nanowires have an amusing habit of arranging themselves into impressive patterns. When S.K. Hark, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, looked at some of them under a scanning electron microscope, he saw flowers. Unlike plants, their fertilizers were gallium and gold catalysts -- which allowed them to grow to several microns in length while maintaining a roughly 10-nanometer diameter. The physics professor colorized his award-winning crop to enhance their resemblance to real sunflowers.
OK, that's just freaking cool how they look like sunflowers with a little color added.

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How one in three young girls has tried to self-harm

One in three young girls has tried to harm herself by methods including cutting, burning, punching and even poisoning, a survey reveals.

The study of 800 young people found that more than one in five aged 11 to 19 say they have selfharmed, and half know someone who has done it.

But the problem was greatest among girls - half said they did it because they were depressed - according to the study by Affinity Healthcare, which provides mental health services to the NHS.

This is scary stuff -- our young women are in a huge amount of pain and no one seems to be noticing enough to do anything about it. At least this study alerts to the scope of the problem.

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Male menopause? Yes, it’s real
The hormonal decline that men experience isn't nearly as abrupt as it is in women — it's more like walking down a hill than jumping off a cliff. However, waning testosterone is likely to make a guy moody, irritable and depressed.

(Upon hearing this list of symptoms, one woman joked of her husband, "Is it possible he's had menopause since he was 20?") A decrease in available testosterone also increases a man’s risk for heart disease, and makes him more prone to injury because of decreasing bone density.

Let's be clear: Andropause is not the same as a mid-life crisis, which is a psycho-social issue. And not all guys who experience aging — and the inevitable decline in testosterone that comes along with it — can be qualified as having andropause.

It's my goal to prevent this as much as possible, through exercise, diet, and supplements -- when that stops working, I will find a doctor who does testosterone replacement. There are too many age-related health issues in men that can be solved with a little exogenous hormone therapy. Why suffer?

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Rabbi Michael Lerner: Obama's Mistake -- and What It Would Take To Really Rectify It
A continuing irony of American politics is that the candidates of the ruling elites have been able to convince many Americans that the candidates who seek to redistribute wealth to the less fortunate, provide health care for all, and provide jobs and housing for the poor are the real elitists. They've been able to get away with that not only by demeaning the "Hollywood limousine liberals" (never explaining why those wealthy who support tax increases on their own wealth to feed, house and care for the hungry are not deserving of more praise than those who horde their wealth for themselves), but also by portraying liberals as hostile to the religious concerns of the American people.

Unfortunately, on that latter point Right-wingers are often accurate. The religio-phobia Americans encounter in many sections of the liberal and progressive world often push them away and into the hands of the Right. Deeply suspicious of the slippery slope from some right wing religious beliefs to religious coercion, homophobia, sexism, and racism, people on the Left have created a cultural assumption that anyone who is into religion or spiritual life is probably a little less intellectually or psychologically developed than the secularists, perhaps seeking mystery or a father-figure God to compensate for some lack in their lives.

The message that most Americans receive from the Left is an elitist and demeaning put-down: "We need your votes, so you are welcome into our ranks, but we hope that by hanging out with us secular leftists you will eventually give up your pathological need for religious beliefs and evolve to a higher level of rationality that us secularists have been developing as the only possible way to think clearly about the nature of reality." Often unconscious, this religio-phobic message has done much to push away the majority of Americans whose religious beliefs are extremely important to them, even though on purely economic grounds they'd feel more aligned with the Left's agenda than that of the Right.
This is a good editorial, one that needs to be read by all liberals. Rabbi Lerner adds this bit of wisdom as he concludes his piece:
Yet if he does explicitly embrace a spiritual politics, he can transcend the left/right dichotomies that have torn our country apart. What remains to be seen is he can do that in the context of a Left whose religio-phobia is both intense and unconscious, and a media determined to make every mistake into a fatal error no matter who the candidate. If his supporters let him do so, Senator Obama has the understanding and capacity to become the first national figure to embrace a spiritual progressive agenda, and doing so may be the only way he will overcome the stigma of elitism with which the Republicans (with the aid of Hillary Clinton) now seek to mis-describe him.
I hope he's correct.

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