July 28th, 2011

FLDS, Warren Jeffs

Warren Jeffs has fired his lawyers (apparently again). Attempts by his lawyers to get the evidence from the raid excluded failed. Warren Jeffs intends to represent himself.

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52279831-78/jeffs-represent-trial-assault.html.csp

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/28/us-texas-polygamist-trial-idUSTRE76R5ND20110728

Since the raid evidence (including DNA) is in, on one level, it seems pretty easy to predict how this is going to turn out.

On another level, however, I feel that this is the point at which, if this were a genre novel, and I were blogging about it, I would say, "Antics ensue". From the Reuters coverage, Jeffs refused to enter a plea, so the court recorded "Not guilty". And quotes from Jeffs include:

""My counsel doesn't have the full understanding of the facts and are unable to assist in my defense," Jeffs told the court in a slow, halting voice as he explained his move to fire his counsel.

"I have trained my defense, but they were unable to do what I said. I am presenting the need for true justice to be presented, and for the truth to come out.""

If this were a novel, that sounds like the point at which the character admits to doing what they were thought to have done, but heads out on a deranged rant about how it was somehow sacred/spiritual/justified. Wonder how much of that he'll get to engage in as part of the trial?

Useful Information

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_withdrawal_syndrome

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_detoxification

So with the above information, it is possible to make sense of this:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31749_162-20084871-10391698.html

Specifically,

"Kindling is the phenomenon where repeated alcohol detoxifications lead to an increased severity of the withdrawal syndrome. For example, binge drinkers may initially experience no withdrawal symptoms but with each period of resumption of drinking followed by abstinence their withdrawal symptoms intensify in severity and may eventually result in full blown delirium tremens with convulsive seizures."

Detox was _invented_ because it became unavoidably apparent that cold turkey quitting was lethal for many drinkers. DIY'ing in this area is incredibly risky. Rehab exists to combine detox with longer term strategies for living without a substance upon which one has an unwanted relationship with. Denial is how people who need these services convince themselves and other that they don't need these services.

We'll have to wait a while to learn what the actual cause of death was (that is, whether this was straight up withdrawal, or withdrawal with some DIY detox going on, or something else entirely). But I continue to think it is not unreasonable to produce a choice-based critique of this particular tragedy.

Mammography Study

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/28/us-cancer-breast-screening-idUSTRE76R7XR20110728

Short form: the first paragraph was written right! "Researchers analyzed data from three pairs of countries in Europe and found that although breast cancer screening programs had been introduced 10 to 15 years earlier in some areas than in others, declines in death rates were similar."

Nice summary of recent announcements, what they were based on, and how this result figures in the ongoing debate.

A New Trend in Covering Diabetes Risk?

There's been a really tight focus on BMI, fat and overall weight as risk factors for Type II Diabetes. Even a cursory look at how metabolism works and at longitudinal studies demonstrates that BMI, fat, and overall weight are not all of the story, but, rather that activity levels matter a lot, and that strength training in particular has a huge impact on quality of life and independence.

http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/medical/diabetes/story/2011/07/Increasing-muscle-mass-may-lower-risk-of-developing-diabetes/

The author is being really cautious:

""Our findings suggest that beyond focusing on losing weight to improve metabolic health, there may be a role for maintaining fitness and building muscle mass," says Preethi Srikanthan, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine."

Apparently, they found "for each 10% increase in the skeletal muscle index — the ratio of muscle mass to total body weight — there was a corresponding 11% reduction in insulin resistance and a 12% decrease in pre-diabetes."

It would be _really nice_ if we could stop thinking about exercise and fitness as a way to lose weight, but as a way to become healthier. Then, if weight loss happens, hey, yay. But if weight loss does not happen, but all kinds of other numbers improve (bp down, LDL down, CRP down, etc.), we can still feel like the exercise was Worth It.

I Believe It Is Now Time to Panic (Or Issue Platinum Coins)

The debt ceiling vote isn't going to happen tonight (despite pizza deliveries) and the Washington Post Editorial Board has put out an editorial comparing House Republicans to the Flat Earth Society. Also calling orange man's speakership in question.

Even bloggers who have pointedly refused to engage with the debt ceiling charade are noting the impact of the, er, shenanigans on markets:

http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2011/07/debt-ceiling-charade-impacting-short.html

I understand that after markets close tomorrow, there will be a presentation from the administration regarding debt prioritization. Think of it as the bit in which the parties responsible for writing the checks to pay the bills sit down and figure out which ones have to be paid and which ones will be allowed to go past due.

If we are not yet at the point where someone has decided to bail out but suddenly realizes their door is stuck, we're damn close.

ETA: Here's an alternative proposal:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/07/the-presidents-obligation-to-take-care-that-the-laws-be-faithfully-executed-requires-him-to-start-minting-large-denomination.html