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Link Roundup: UUs on Street Prophets, Human Guinea Pigs, Teaching Kids About Racism

A link rescue from the not-to-distant past: Carl Elliott, who has a forthcoming Beacon book about consumerism and corruption in the medical industry, had a harrowing piece in the New Yorker about professional human guinea pigs, which is now available on their website.

Most professional guinea pigs are involved in Phase I clinical trials, in which the safety of a potential drug is tested, typically by giving it to healthy subjects and studying any side effects that it produces. (Phase II trials aim at determining dosing requirements and demonstrating therapeutic efficacy; Phase III trials are on a larger scale and usually compare a drug’s results with standard treatments.) The better trial sites offer such amenities as video games, pool tables, and wireless Internet access. If all goes well, a guinea pig can get paid to spend a week watching “The Lord of the Rings” and playing Halo with his friends, in exchange for wearing a hep-lock catheter on one arm and eating institutional food. Nathaniel Miller, a Philadelphia trial veteran who started doing studies to fund his political activism, was once paid fifteen hundred dollars in exchange for three days and two G.I. endoscopies at Temple University, where he was given a private room with a television. “It was like a hotel,” he says, “except that twice they came in and stuck a tube down my nose.”

And one more link rescue, to a story that has timeless importance and made the rounds of AP newspapers a week or so ago: "Ignoring Racist Remarks Is Wrong Lesson For Kids." Many of us have been faced with an uncomfortable situation where someone has made a racially insensitive or offensive comment. Beverley Daniel Tatum, author of Can We Talk About Race, urges parents to broach the issue with the speaker,   but in a way that isn't accusatory or confrontational. The article is a great guide for how to teach children about racism and the importance of honesty, integrity, and diversity.

Over at Street Prophets, this week's Weekly Faith Roundtable is on Unitarian Universalism. Here are a few of the highlights from the discussion:

Lonespark's explanation that she picked the UU church because "I didn't fit into any other boxes."

On the plus side, I love being in a place where my agnostic husband would fit right in if he ever got up that early, where some of my favorite childhood hymns get performed, where all families are valued, where "service is our prayer," and where a dude in my covenant group is very interested in hearing about how I blot to Thor.

A lengthy discussion of where the Seven Principles originated and the possibility of being a "devout UU."

So here's a broader one. We lay claim--lightly--to all of human experience, all science, all scripture, all wisdom traditions as being the heritage of humanity. We draw from those and from individual, personal experience.

    Scripture--check. Our canon is a shade larger and not sealed, however.
    Tradition--check. We see it not as a foundation, but rather as more of a sea anchor.
    Reason--check. Oh yeah. Fiercely. We're coming back around to a wary acceptance of the non-rational, but the irrational is going to be savaged--and that's tradition going back at least to Servetus.
    Experience--check. Very, very much so.

A selection of UU jokes

Great job on the part of Sister Quarterstaff, ogre, lonespark, and bleeding heart, who hosted the discussion.