Thursday, November 23, 2006

Catching Up

I just got back from several weeks of writing stories in hotel rooms and speaking at the 412 festival in Pittsburgh (pictured left, with Michael Rosenwald and Daniel Nester, talking about freelancing) and the Nieman Narrative Nonfiction conference in Boston, where I spoke about freelancing, writer/editor relationships, and narrative science journalism (including a panel with the wonderful Michael Pollan). The highlight of Nieman for me: hanging with Joe Sacco and Stacy Sullivan and finally getting to meet Marc Abrahams (I must hear the end of that story, Marc!)

Because of all my travels, the blog has been a bit quiet. To catch up a bit, here's a quick round-up of things I've been wanting to post about:

* A doctor in New York got the go-ahead to do the first ever womb transplant, which I find amazing: Elective organ transplantation for a non life-saving organ? No thank you.

* After a few scandals and a congressional investigation, the National Institutes of Health has finally tightened their ethics rules to restrict researchers' abilities to earn money from outside sources. As a result, a new survey says, though 73% of NIH researchers believe those new rules will increase the credibility of the organization, almost 40% say they're looking for new jobs because of the tighter restrictions.

* A group of children born as part of "Font of Life," -- the project Hitler developed to create a breed of people that fit his idea of the perfect human (blond hair, blue eyes, non-Jewish, etc) -- met for the first time as adults recently, to talk about the trauma they've experienced over their origins.

* The Chinese have admitted what experts have known for some time but haven't been able to prove: That they take organs from prisoners for transplantation, and Americans buy them on the black market.

* And a study found that elephants can recognize themselves in the mirror. How scientists figured this out is pretty fascinating, though it always frustrates me when researchers seem shocked to find that animals are just as intelligent/feeling/whatever as we are...

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Blogger Murky Thoughts said...

I loved that elephant news too--the experimentation they see her do. But besides the general underestimation of animal intelligence, I've never understood how "the mirror test" became such a be-all/end-all in particular. Big picture-wise, it makes a certain sense that science underestimates animals, given our cultural tradition and the current demography of (what?) two thirds of people not including humans in the category. "Man, the self-promoter."

11:36 AM  

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