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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Say what?

Another example of language that seems difficult for the sake of being difficult, this time from the current issue of Crime, Media, Culture:
For a ruthless cultural criticism of everything existing

Some scholars contend that cultural criminology has abandoned the critical analysis of capitalism’s criminogenic tendencies, resorting instead to a myopic subjectivism that romanticizes transgression and misses broader structures of inequality. On the contrary, cultural criminology can be seen to incorporate a constellation of critiques designed to expose the distinctly cultural dynamics of late capitalism and its crimes. From this view, cultural criminological analysis overcomes the dichotomization of structure and agency by locating structural arrangements within moments of lived experience, and by exploring in these moments the often confounded possibilities of agency, subversion, and control. In this way cultural criminology calls into question dismissive distinctions between crimes large and small, and continues to investigate the complex process by which crime and transgression are invested with collective meaning.

More here

Here's another abstract from the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology:
Childrens' touching and mouthing behaviors during outdoor play in urban residential yards were measured using video observations. Descriptions were made of childrens' outdoor residential play environments. Behaviors assessed were used to examine (1) validity of parental responses to questions on childrens' oral behaviors and outdoor play and (2) relationships of mouthing behaviors to blood lead levels (BLLs). Thirty-seven children aged 1–5 years were recruited for 2 h of video recording in their yard and blood lead measurement. Video assessments included hourly rates of hand touches to ground/walking-level surfaces (cement/stone/steel, porch floor/steps, grass, and bare soil) and oral behaviors. Parental questionnaires assessed their child's outdoor activities, behaviors, and home environment. The children were: mean 39 months; 51% male; 89% Hispanic; and 78% Medicaid or uninsured. Twenty-two children had a blood lead measured (mean 6 g/dl). During taping, all children had access to cement, 92% to grass, 73% to bare soil, and 59% to an open porch. Children had frequent touching and mouthing behaviors observed (median touches/h: touches to surfaces 81; hand-to-mouth area (with and without food) 26; hand-in-mouth 7; and object-in-mouth 17). Blood lead was directly correlated with log-transformed rates of hand-in-mouth (Pearson's correlation, r=0.564, n=22, P=0.006) and object-in-mouth (Pearson's correlation, r=0.482, n=22, P=0.023) behaviors. Parental questionnaire responses did not accurately reflect childrens' observed oral behaviors, play habits, or play environment. These data confirm the direct relationship between hand-to-mouth activities and BLLs and fail to validate parental perceptions of their child's mouthing behaviors or outdoor play environment.
This paper gets at an important issue - do kids on the playground who put their hands in their mouth more often end up with more lead in their blood. It seems that, with a limited sample, the answer is "yes" and, moreover, parents seem to have misconceptions about how many times their children put hands-in-mouth. Unfortunately, the abstract is so badly written or so riddled with typographical errors that its meaning is somewhat tempered.

More here

And, finally, this abstract from the same Journal of Exposure describes the testing of toenails in New England:
New England is one of three areas in the United States with the highest annual deposition of mercury, an established environmental pollutant with a variety of health effects. We measured the mercury content in toenails of 27 individuals in New Hampshire who participated as controls in a health study in 1994–95. The mean total toenail mercury concentration was 0.27 mcg/g (median 0.16; SD 0.27; range 0.04–1.15 mcg/g). The best predictor of toenail mercury levels was the mean combined fish and shellfish consumption measured using four simple questions from a validated food frequency questionnaire. Toenail total mercury content was significantly correlated with the mean average weekly consumption of finfish and shellfish (Spearman correlation coefficient 0.48, P=0.012). Multivariate models confirmed that toenail total mercury concentration was best predicted by total finfish and shellfish consumption.
From a quick read of the paper (available here), the original sample size was 28 but one person had to be dropped because of bad diet data, therefore the resultant 27 observation sample. The data were actually gleaned from toe-nail clippings that were self-collected by survey respondents. Hmmmm...

[Note: Full access to these papers might require a subscription.]

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