News for 01/11/2008

OK, I’m having a bit of writer’s block… so let’s do some news!

New York City is going to clone 25 “historical trees”. Why? To save them, I guess. This article doesn’t mention anything about the trees being sick, or in danger of being cut down to build condos. The trees are historically significant, though: one of the trees is a 230 year-old St. Nicholas elm that George Washington is thought to have walked under, and “several” of the trees date back to the time of Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer and architect of Central Park.

Congress is asking drug maker Pfizer why they think that Dr. Robert Jarvik is qualified to pimp Lipitor. They’re even questioning whether Jarvik’s ad breaks the law (since the ads run nationwide, is he legally giving medical advice in states where he doesn’t have a medical license?). The most interesting thing in this article about the issue is the biographical information about Jarvik: he attended Syracuse University as an undergrad, where his grades were so subpar that he wasn’t even interviewed to go to a medical school in the US. So he attended the University of Bologna in Italy, then transferred to the University of Utah, where he graduated. He did not do an internship, nor has he practiced medicine, however. Far from being the “super doctor” I always thought him to be, NBC’s science expert Robert Bazell last year wrote that while Jarvik is an M.D., “he doesn’t have the strongest credentials”.

If you’re in Maryland and a customer of Allegheny Power: check your bill! It seems that the company is sending their customers boxes that contain 2 compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs… and charging you 96¢ a month for it! The company sent the bulbs to almost 220,000 customers, and is threatening to cut off their power if they don’t pay for the bulbs, even if they return them to Allegheny Power or refuse to accept them from their letter carrier. I don’t know whose idea this was at Allegheny Power, but I can tell you what it is in two words: mail fraud! Read the whole vile story here.

And lastly, from the “What Are The Odds?” Department… a pair of British fraternal twins that were separated at birth met later on in life… felt an unbelievable attraction to one another… and ended up getting married! This became news this week because of changes that some lawmakers are pushing with regards to birth data in the UK. Currently, only the mother has to be named on a birth certificate in the UK, and birth certificates also are not required to identify “births that result from IVF or to identify the sperm donor”. British lawmakers want to tighten up the laws, so things like this don’t happen in the future. As for the twins feeling an “unbelievable attraction” towards each other… well, if I remember my anthropology correctly, then this is actually quite common. And not only is it just “attraction”, people that experience this sort of thing report an almost unstoppable sexual attraction to their birth mates. In fact, all kinds of bizarre behavior has been reported by twins who were separated at birth at meet up later in life!

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