Sappho in Wonderland

2008 SF Bay Area, or 1939 Berlin?

Another Study Finds No Link Between MMR Vaccine and Autism

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By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter – Tue Feb 5, 8:47 PM PST

MONDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) — Yet another study has found no evidence of a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism.

The British authors of this latest research said theirs was the third and largest study that has looked for a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism, and has failed to find one.

“I think it’s fabulous that they have scientifically, God willing, put this issue to rest, although parents will not agree with it and those people who are proponents of measles as the cause [of autism] will find a problem with the paper,” said Dr. Pauline A. Filipek, an associate professor of pediatrics and neurology at the University of California, Irvine.

The British researchers based their finding on a sample of 240 children — 98 who had been diagnosed with autism, and two comparison groups: 52 children with special educational needs who were not autistic; and 90 children who had no developmental problems.

All the children had received the MMR vaccine, but not all had had both doses. The researchers checked blood samples from all the children to look for the presence of persistent measles infection or an abnormal immune response. An abnormal response would have been indicated by circulating measles virus or increased antibody levels.

The researchers found the blood analysis showed no difference in circulating measles virus or antibody levels among the children. The finding was the same whether the children had one or two doses of the MMR vaccine.

In addition, autistic children and those with special educational needs were less likely to have had the second dose of the MMR vaccine, which may mean that parents were concerned about their children receiving the second dose because of their developmental problems.

The findings are reported in the February issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The controversy about the potential connection between autism and the MMR vaccine began in 1998 when British researcher Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a study in The Lancet that claimed the vaccine caused brain damage, resulting in autism.

Since that time, numerous studies have failed to confirm Wakefield’s hypothesis.

“This study refutes the data Wakefield presented 10 years ago,” Filipek said.

Filipek thinks parents hold onto the MMR vaccine-autism theory because “it gives them something to grasp onto that could be altered to prevent future cases of autism.”

Dr. Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, also thinks the new study provides more conclusive evidence that there is no connection between autism and the MMR vaccine.

“The whole premise by Wakefield, that the measles component of [the] MMR vaccine caused a chronic intestinal inflammation that allowed harmful proteins to enter the bloodstream and ultimately the brain, causing autism, has not one shred of scientific evidence in its support,” Offit said.

This new study follows the release last week of a study that showed the mercury preservative thimerosal, used in childhood vaccines until the turn of this century and thought by some to be associated with autism, doesn’t remain in an infant’s body long enough to build to dangerous levels.

And it follows a series of other studies, including a large-scale U.S. Institute of Medicine review in 2004, that failed to uncover a link between childhood vaccines and autism.

Current estimates by the U.S. National Institutes of Health say that one American child in 150 has been diagnosed with autism, although experts wonder if that increase is due in part to better diagnoses and a broader definition of the disorder.

More scientific autism articles by Healthy Day
Resources for autists and their allies:


Written by berkeleysappho

February 9, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Posted in autism

Tagged with , , ,

Save the Trees

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Use kittens.

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Written by berkeleysappho

February 9, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Shima Uta [Island Song]

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I just expanded the Wikipedia article on this beautiful song. It is a combination of shima uta, traditional Okinawan folk music, and Japanese music. The guitarist imitates the Okinawan sanshin, a precursor to the shamisen. If the piece sounds sad to you, it’s because the songwriter was writing about the atrocities committed by the Japanese army during the US invasion of Okinawa at the end of WWII. Of course, the song doesn’t state this directly. The lyrics are about spring flowers, the wind, beautiful sugarcane fields, and lost love. In the best Japanese poetic tradition, everything is implied. The songwriter stated the true meaning of the words several times in interviews. Btw he isn’t Okinawan, but this is the most popular song in Okinawa, after 15 yrs. It was also a hit in South America. Music is indeed the international language. Enjoy:

Written by berkeleysappho

February 8, 2008 at 11:59 pm

Racism and Corporate Censorship at Game Giveaway of the Day

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Today’s “free” game is “Magic Farm.” It is targeted to little girls. Normally it costs only a lot of money, but for one day it’s free.

Here’s the description:

Help a young lady to save her parents from the hands of cruel aborigines. Make exciting voyages with your new pirates and vegetarian cannibal friends. While you are traveling, grow beautiful exotic plants and protect them from different funny and sly insects and creatures.

During the game you get an opportunity to work on some farms which you purchase. Grow different flowers and fruits. You must water them and protect from beetles, snails and bees that are always ready to taste the fruits of your labour. Sell flowers separately or make up beautiful bouquets and sell them making money for your trips. Bouquets will cost much more money then separate flowers.

So it’s all up to you. And it will depend on your business skills, for what time you’ll reach and save your beloved parents.

Leaving aside the absurdity of vegetarian cannibals, why would anyone in the 21st Century want a game about “cruel aborigines?” Several people on the comments page, including me, objected to the racism in that phrase. The moderator stated that it wasn’t racist because race wasn’t mentioned and besides, the game is from the Ukraine… As if there is no racism in the Ukraine… As if there are white European aborigines.

Guess what? The aboriginal people of Europe aren’t white. The few European aborigines left are near the Arctic Circle and share DNA with Eskimos and other Native Americans. So, when someone uses the word “aborigine” it’s not-very-subtle code talk for “person of color.” Of course, setting the aborigines in some made up fairy tale land makes the racism OK. It’s just pretend, right? Maybe we can have a nice little game about slavery, with the owning kids white, as the girl in this game is–just don’t explicitly mention race. Or how about a game about white people sending cruel aborigines to “camp”, because who doesn’t like summer camp? Maybe a nice little camp in the Rockies, or Dachau.

Do young children need this kind of Colonialist garbage fed to them with their cute little flower games?

The moderator, an employee of, censored all comments about racism on the board except the man who said it wasn’t racist. He even removed the comment that “aborigine” is most often used for the native people of Australia and can be a loaded word.

Again I ask, 1984 or 1939?

Why not contact Give Away of the Day and let them know what you think about their distribution of racist games?

And the manufacturer of this excrescence:

The only good news is, judging by the user comments on GGAOTD this game crashes repeatedly. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

Written by berkeleysappho

February 8, 2008 at 5:12 pm


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[I found this on the blog Sailom’s Philosphy. The article was removed from Wikipedia over my objections. This is a VERY important concept. Not everyone can afford to buy the book and my town doesn’t even have libraries anymore. Thank you Sailom!]

Violentization – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Violentization is a process described by criminologist Lonnie Athens whereby individuals are inured and trained to commit violence. Athens’ research suggests individuals’ paths to violence almost always involve social conditioning to favor violent resolutions for social situations.

The process Athens described whereby individuals are socialized to prefer violent outcomes, as detailed in Why They Kill, by Richard Rhodes, (Vintage Books, 1999), includes four stages he classified as brutalization, belligerency, violent performance and virulence.

Athens wrote, “Any person who does ultimately complete the virulency stage, and consequently the entire experiential process, will become a dangerous violent criminal. This remains the case regardless of the social class, race, sex or age and intelligence of people, as long as their degree of mental and physical competence is sufficient for them to perform a violent criminal act.”

For each stage of Athens posited violentization process, he describes the following methods and circumstances that effect an individuals perception of violence:

->Brutalization: a process where a social group forcibly subjugates an individual.
—>Violent subjugation: an individual is forced into compliance by physical or verbal force, upto and including violence. Coercive violence ends at submission, but retaliatory violence continues regardless submission, ostensibly to gain long-term submission.
—>Personal horrification: an individual is exposed to violent subjugation of someone else close to them. The person begins to suffer inner conflict over guilt associated with helplessness.
—>Violent coaching: a person advises the brutalized individual to depend only on his or her self, encourages defensiveness and that they have a personal responsibility to commit violence. Coaching might include:
—–>Vainglorification: violence is glorified through story telling.
—–>Ridicule: violence is promoted by derision and belittling.
—–>Coercion: threats of violence if the individual does not comply with violent coaching.
—>An individual decides to resist brutalization
—>Overcoming contrary emotions that discourage violence
—>Mitigated commitment to violence such as in response to provocation
—>First mitigated resolution by violence
->Violent performances
—>Confidence building through successful violent acts
—>Provocation rises above mitigated threshold of violent commitment
—>Success in personal revolt against a subjugator leads to increased personal safety
—>Recollection and appreciation of violent performance, often with the assistance of others
—>Gaining a reputation as a violent and potentially dangerous person
—>Personal vainglorification: a person enjoys the violent reputation and fear it provokes
—>Personal resolution to set a lower mitigating threshold for violence

External links
An Interview with Richard Rhodes
Court TV
The Process of Violentization
Retrieved from “

Written by berkeleysappho

February 1, 2008 at 7:01 pm

Marines Out of Berkeley!

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Once again, Code Pink and World Can’t Wait shut down the Berkeley Marine recruiting station. The Marines must have known before they opened shop in the heart of the anti war movement that there would be regular protests. Now the Berkeley City Council has passed a resolution telling them they are not welcome.

Neither of my boys have any intention of ever registering for the draft or enlisting. They actively counter-recruit other youth. I am very proud of them. Thank you to Toby, Code Pink, WCW and all the independent activists who work for peace.

Here’s the article on Thursday’s protest from the NY Times. Ironically, neither the TV news or NYT reporters had the time right. Toby reports that 80 people showed up for the main protest:

Berkeley Finds a New Way to Make War Politics Local

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Toby Blome of Code Pink demonstrated the group’s antiwar beliefs in front of the Marine recruiting office in Berkeley, Calif.

Published: February 1, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. — While the City Council here has little — read, no — sway over foreign policy and distant wars, local parking is a different matter. And so it was that a parking space directly in front of the recruiting station here for the Marine Corps was awarded on Tuesday night to an antiwar group in the hope of running the Marines out of town.Having failed in recent years to impeach President Bush and stop the war in Afghanistan, members of the City Council approved a resolution that encourages people to nonviolently “impede, passively or actively,” the work of the recruiters.To that end, the council awarded the group, Code Pink, exclusive use of the parking spot for four hours one afternoon each week, for the next six months, to stage its protests. “If you’re going to join the Marines, you’re going to join the Marines,” said Zanna Joi, an activist with Code Pink, which favors cotton-candy-colored garb and in-your-face tactics. “But you don’t have to join the Marines from our town.”In taking on the Marines, the council also directed the city attorney to investigate legal means of ousting the recruiting station, calling the Marines “uninvited and unwelcome intruders” in this bastion of liberal politics, 1960s free speech and high-minded nonbinding resolutions.Tom Bates, the city’s mayor and a former Army man himself, said the vote represented his constituents’ longstanding — and frequently vocal — distaste for current military activity.

“Berkeley has been opposed to the Iraq war since the beginning; it’s overwhelmingly unpopular in this community,” Mr. Bates said. “And people feel this is an opportunity to express their discontent.”

One of the nine council members, Gordon Wozniak, opposed the resolution and the parking spot.

“I believe in free speech, and I certainly respect the right of Code Pink to protest,” Mr. Wozniak said. “But I’m also concerned we treat all sides fairly, and I think the Marines recruiters are just doing their job. They’re not evil people.”

Mr. Wozniak, a retired nuclear scientist who opposes the war in Iraq, added that those advocating the parking spot were engaged in the same type of selective treatment that many war opponents object to.

“A lot of the same people who voted for this felt Bush bent the rules,” Mr. Wozniak said, referring to the president’s unfounded claims that Iraq had chemical, nuclear or biological weapons.

This is hardly the first attempt by Berkeley’s civic leaders, many of whom fondly remember the city’s antiwar heyday in the 1960s, to express their unhappiness with the whole concept of war. In 2006, the City Council and voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure calling for the impeachment of Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, citing “high crimes and misdemeanors” related to the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism.

In 2001, the City Council also called for an end to the bombing of Afghanistan just weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, something that earned some council members anonymous death threats.

Despite the vote on Tuesday, Mr. Bates said it was not clear if the city could actually force the Marines to move out of town.

“They still have a year and a half on their lease,” he said.

That said, the resolution also calls for the city attorney to look into possible violations of the Berkeley municipal code regarding sexual discrimination by the Marines, and asks the city manager to write the Marine commandant and tell him that Semper Fi fans are “not welcome in our city.”

Maj. Wes Hayes of the Marine Corps Recruiting Command in Quantico, Va., said the corps had not immediately been aware of Berkeley’s actions, but added that they would have no effect on recruiting efforts.

“It’s business as usual,” Major Hayes said.

Inside the Berkeley office, a small storefront a block from the University of California campus, a pull-up bar sits near the window as does a pile of weights, part of the physical fitness test for any potential leathernecks. A poster on the wall reminds recruiters not “to fear the winds of adversity.”

After being open earlier in the day, the front door was locked and the window blinds drawn on Thursday afternoon, at least for a while, as Code Pink protesters chanted happily outside.

Brandon Rousseau, an information technology consultant who works across the street and has a cousin in the Marines, said both sides had a right to go about their business.

“Even if that were a Nazi recruiting station,” Mr. Rousseau said, “they have a right to do that in America.”

Video of Toby Blume of Code Pink and Yoga for Peace, by KRON 4 News

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod

Written by berkeleysappho

February 1, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Why The Homelessness Pandemic Exists

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People alive before 1980 remember a time when homeless people were few and far between. There were occasional runaways, hobos, drug addicts or alcoholics, but for the vast majority, homelessness was a temporary state. We didn’t even have the label “homeless” to apply to people without a fixed address. Americans of every political stripe boasted that we were the greatest country in the world and would never allow our most vulnerable people to sleep on the sidewalk “like India.” America takes care of its own, everyone said. Seemingly overnight, things changed.

For thousands of families, Sec. 8 Housing was a way out of poverty. Part of Pres. Johnson’s War on Poverty, it is a HUD program that subsidizes a portion of low income families, seniors and disabled people’s rents. It provides safe housing for those who cannot work due to disability or age. Additionally, the program inspects the home to make sure it is up to code, and negotiates with the landlord for a reasonable rent. Sec. 8 recipients pay no more than 40 percent (originally 30 percent) of their income for rent and utilities. There was even an emergency fund for people who were in danger of becoming homeless. No one had to sleep in a shelter, or on the street, especially if there were children involved.

What happened?

Ronald Reagan happened. First he drastically cut Section 8 Housing. Then he said, in response to questions about why we suddenly had homeless people everywhere, “[they] are homeless, you might say, by choice.”

For those who think the Democrats will save us, think again. Bill Clinton continued the cuts to Section 8, forcing even more people into homelessness. He signed HOPE VI, a program to privatize HUD housing projects, which allows only 12 percent of tenants to return to their homes and is responsible for a massive loss of low income housing units. The fact is, no president has restored the cuts to Sec. 8. We could end homelessness tomorrow by bringing Section 8 funding back to pre1982 levels and replacing the units lost to HOPE VI. It’s that simple, should the people demand it.

About the Research

Cuts to Section 8 housing are poorly documented on the Internet. News articles focus on proposed cuts to the program, with no follow up on whether the cuts passed. Archives do not go back to before 1994 or 5, in most cases, including the Congressional Record. When Reagan died in 2004, Peter Dreier wrote a widely reprinted article for Newsday about Reagan’s destruction of Section 8 and the ensuing homelessness epidemic. There are also articles available about the Sec. 8 corruption scandals, in which government officials gave millions of dollars of HUD’s money to their friends in the construction industry, causing the intended recipients of those funds to go homeless. Consider the below list a sampling of articles about the destruction of Sec. 8.

Little is available on George HW Bush’s Sec. 8 policies regarding funding, due to lack of pre1994 archives. Most notable during his tenure was the change in Section 8 that allowed recipients to move to different areas if they wished. The idea was that people could go where the jobs were and lift themselves out of poverty. At the very least, people could move to different, often better, neighborhoods.

I occasionally cite Wikipedia. My standards for Wikipedia articles include accuracy and proper sourcing. Wikipedia is like any other secondary source. Its quality varies, but we can fact-check for ourselves.

Section 8 Timeline

63 Years of Federal Action in Housing and Urban Development

Government publication. Timeline of Federal housing programs from 1932 to 1995.


HUD (Housing and Urban Development) created by Johnson. This Wikipedia article is well-sourced and a good springboard for further exploration.

1974 Sec. 8 Housing Created by Nixon

A decent Wikipedia article on the history of Sec.8.


Reagan’s cuts to Section 8 Housing

By Peter Dreier. Originally published in Newsday, 6/10/04

“Between 1980 and 1989, HUD’s budget authority was cut from $74 billion to $19 billion in constant dollars. The number of new subsidized housing starts fell from 175,000 to 20,000 a year.

One of Reagan’s most enduring legacies is the steep increase in homeless people. By the late 1980s, the number of homeless had swollen to 600,000 on any given night and 1.2 million over the course of a year.”

Bill Clinton’s cuts to HUD in the guise of “saving” it:

Clinton’s HOPE VI Destroys Low Income Housing for 100,000s in the name of renewal.

The idea of tearing down the most rundown projects and replacing them with mixed-income housing sounds wonderful. The result? Thousands of low-income people lose their housing, as hundreds of units are replaced by dozens, and only a few of those for low-income renters. Some of the people displaced by HOPE VI are offered Sec. 8 vouchers, ahead of people on the Sec. 8 waiting list—causing yet more homelessness. The program continues to this day, often tearing down perfectly fine buildings. Developers make big bucks as the once-public housing projects are privatized and opened up for market-rate rents. We will return to HOPE VI through the years.



Congressional Record, 1994

passed the House of Representatives (House Roll Call),

but did not become law (

S. 1299 [103rd]: Multifamily Housing Property Disposition Reform Act of 1994 “Tracking the 110th United States Congress”

Replaces the Housing and Community Development Act of 1994; changes the way Section 8 is funded, to the detriment of recipients.

“A bill to reform requirements for the disposition of multifamily property owned by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, enhance program flexibility, authorize a program to combat crime, and for other purposes.”

Clinton unveils plan to save Section 8 – assisted housing program
Real Estate Weekly, March 12, 1997


$2.3 Billion in Housing Aid Is Cut From Spending Bill, New York Times


For Whom is there Hope in Hope VI?, Greater Birmingham Ministries

Written by berkeleysappho

January 30, 2008 at 5:02 pm