Wednesday, June 01, 2005

My Own Mercurial Carnival. Librarians Rule!

Editorial UPDATE: Even with my jazzman lifestyle, this post was ready hours and hours ago, but I couldn't publish. My cable connection seems to have an internal setting tripped when I've expended the most effort that I'm least likely to wish to duplicate, and my internet service subsequently goes belly-up with what I perceive as a smirk on its LCD. Now I'm at the local Wifi coffee bar with the rest of the Smendricks, because I'm too mulish to give up some things even when I really should. UPDATE 2: My laptop's infinitesimally short battery life means I'm back home now. Still trying. I must've succeeded if you can read the following.

Thanks to all those who stopped by for the first time yesterday! Today's mish-mash shows how far I can surf down an indulgent rabbit hole from one, puny notion. Here's how it happened.

I read through the medical carnival, Grand Rounds , yesterday, not just to see my own blog's nifty name in red letters again, but skimming for interesting items as I'm wont to do. I found Overlawyered's demands by "disabled" doctors (read to see whether you'd like any of these incompetent whiners as your physician). I also found my way to Respectful Insolence's scientifically meaty debunking of the highly-publicized hypothesis that asserts unproven mercury poisoning from vaccinations is the cause of autism. Orac, the M.D. who "knows", points out that autistic children simply don't "demonstrate the known symptoms of mercury toxicity." By contrast, the victims in this Telegraph article do, but it's because mercury is one type of poison the grande dame of mystery, P.D. James, discusses in her review of the crime writer's resource, The Elements of Murder.

I myself have ranted recently about the dangers of discouraging childhood vaccination in developing countries and even our own. Partly as a result of reactionary vaccine hype, our benevolent friend polio's making a comeback. So perhaps we can forgive Scarlett Johansson, star of the new cloning thriller, The Island, for not knowing it was ever gone. "I mean, if they could eliminate diseases like Alzheimer's and polio that would be incredible. On the same note, people may say you're playing with fate or the idea of people creating a master race or being able to choose their children's eye colour - and that seems quite strange to me. However, I think that the positive outweighs the negative." Maybe, Scarlett, but here's an MSNBC article on bioethics wondering whether Bill Gates (or other geeky innovative types) would have been allowed to be born if prospective parents could delete all variations from normalcy.

In scifi TV and movies, the members of the alien horde always resemble each other. I was going to find a link to demonstrate, but you try searching "star trek aliens" and see how much miscellaneous crap you get. Anyway, they show up like a marching band, wearing the same outfits, with the same color faces, same antennae and hairstyles or lack therof. Utterly homogenous among themselves, even though the backwards humans still manifest differences in type like Uhura vs. Scottie vs. Sulu. I think Rodenberry was trying to demonstrate that future civilization won't be about optimizing life for unique individuals (liberty is tre' devolutionary) but instead, the future is in achieving genetic standardization. Mediocrity by design, catch the wave!

Anyway, back to my mercury kick. Sure, I found the obvious stuff about the planet and astrological significance (see dates for retrograde at bottom, even if you- like the author- claim not to believe). And there's also an article about NASA's Mercury probe spacecraft, published, interestingly enough, on the English version of the Chinese People's Daily, Xinhua. And here's some tweenage girl's blog , Mercury's Star, neglected since 2002. That's definitely not "active" blogging, if you follow this WSJ article on how blog numbers are tracked. But that's not nearly all! There's the Manhattan Mercury newspaper of Manhattan, Kansas; the women's pro basketball team, the Phoenix Mercury; and the upcoming concept vehicle, the Mercury Meta One, a partially zero-emission (PZEV) hybrid diesel with collision mitigation braking. Whew! When I've got leisure time, all the surfing and culling is fun, even if I did learn that my brother would be allowed to use a page of unsupported pseudohistorical tripe like this as a footnote for a middle-school history paper.

However, when you really need information that's fast and dependable, it can still be frustrating and difficult to know where to go. People need and want repositories of trustworthy, substantiated facts, and they want opinion clearly labeled as such. Internet searching has come lightyears from its origins, but it still takes people of sense to provide intelligent guideposts toward relevant, high-quality sources. I guess what I'm saying is: Reference Librarians Still Rock! (and they're dead sexy, too).

P.S. Here's a story I couldn't wedge into my premise about a dog with a rubber duck in its guts for 5 years. Coherent? Erudite? That's me all the way.

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