Monday, October 31, 2005

Politics: Can You Say... Hypocrisy?

1) Conservative Republicans who have bashed Democrats for not giving candidate's a fair up-and-down vote, but who all but booted Miers out of contention for the Supreme Court, who now call on Democrats to accept Alito and give him a "fair" vote. So, do you want all of "our president's" nominations , of whom we should trust because "our president" nominated them, to get an up and down vote, or can Democrats follow suit and bitch and whine about a candidate for once without being called babies?

2) Conservative Republicans who condemn Democrats who have a "litmus" test for a supreme court judge. How many times did I have to listen to the crazy Christian right gab on and on about how Mier's views on abortion and other subjects were not known, and how we had to be sure she was anti-abortion before conservative Christians could accept her nomination. So...having a litmus test for a judge to be pro-choice is wrong, but we can have a litmus test to have judge who is pro-life. Hmmn.....

3) Always my biggest rant and rave that I always air here (and on the bumper of my car): Conservative Christian Republicans who fuss and fume about abortion, yet lack the compassion to care enough about babies after they are born, by cutting social programs for the poor, war-mongering, being the bitches of the gun lobby, polluting our earth for the sake of industry and personal wealth, and (this is always the clencher for me) steadfastly enforcing the death penalty. I thought an eye-for-an-eye was more of an Old Testament kind of virtue, and that we Christians had moved on to the part of the Bible that had Jesus loving all people, not just the ones who are in women's bellies.

I guess I'm not surprised by all of this in politics, but I just have not heard enough commentators on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, etc take people to point on the about-face in rhetoric that has been going on during the Supreme Court nomination (and Plamegate) fiasco.

Regarding my views on Alito - I don't know enough to be happy or sad about this nomination (and unlike my other left-of-left friends, keeping abortion legal is not one of my top priorities), but as I've said before, if James Dobson is happy about a nomination, I'm automatically VERY skeptical (hence my lack of enthusiasm for John Roberts, even though he seems like a qualified judge and not a right-wing whack job).

Politics: Scalia-lite

So consistently conservative, Alito has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite" by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But while Scalia is outspoken and is known to badger lawyers, Alito is polite, reserved and even-tempered.
Well, at least he'll be smiling and saying 'please' and 'thank you' as he terminates a woman's right to choose.

The nightmares keep coming.

Update: Emily Bazelon explores Alito's most famous abortion decision, which she says:
Still, Alito's opinion in that case would have limited the right to abortion more severely than Sandra Day O'Connor, whom he will replace if confirmed, has ever been willing to do. And Alito's split with O'Connor involves not only abortion but also marriage. She worried about wives who might be victims of domestic violence. He put first the rights of husbands to know what their wives are doing.

Obvious: Kentucky's #1 cash crop

One official says there's so much pot grown in Kentucky that if every Kentuckian were to smoke a joint an hour, they couldn't use it all.
I've always said Kentucky was the only place on Earth where the BMWs are lined up in front of the double-wide trailers.

Bluegrass.

Sparkgrass.

It's only inevitable!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Medicine: Save the Fat Children!

Podgy children 'face heart risk' from the BBC

Children who are not obese or obviously overweight, but just a little podgy may be harming their hearts, a study says.
Doomed! We're all doomed!

Also, I saw a television commercial here the UK by a health insurer, advertising lower premiums for people who "look after themselves," which they spoke of as comparable to lower rates on auto insurance for fewer incidents, or lower house rates for burgler alarms.

So perhaps I should get a Hamburgler alarm?

What do the med students think about the concept? Not about the alarm, but lower premiums for people who keep and use gym memberships and the like?

The Horror: top 100 horror movie performances

from the fine folks at RetroCrush.

Personal favorites noted: Daveigh Chase in the Ring, Bub the Zombie in Day of the Dead, and that freaky kid from the Grudge. Damn, that kid was freaky.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

SEC: Vols retiring Manning's jersey, Cats debut at #10 on ESPN poll

Peyton's #16 goes where it belongs.

Pretty weak respect for SEC hoops.

Media: closing public schools for Muslim holiday "absurd in a Judeo-Christian country"

if you're Bill O'Reilly.

From the October 27 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

BLAIR: Well, in December of 2004, a gentleman representing the Muslim religion came before the school board and asked if Eid, which I believe is part of Ramadan, be recognized as an official school holiday. That went to a subcommittee, a calendar committee that's comprised of 28 members. Where these members come from, we still don't have the exact answers. I guess they're citizens, friends of the school board members, various people like this. As a matter of fact, I think there's a Jewish representative and a Muslim representative on the board. Of the 28, only 12 showed up, as I understand it. They gave them very little feedback other than the option of taking President's Day and turning it -- they basically gave --

O'REILLY: So a Muslim wanted a Muslim holiday, which is absurd in a Judeo-Christian country. I mean, we can't be having Hindu and Buddha. I mean, come on. I mean, this country is founded on Judeo-Christian traditions.

BLAIR: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: Those traditions have been in play for more than 200 years. Christmas is a federal holiday. You know, somebody walks in and says, "Well, I just moved here and I want, you know, this Shinto shrine." And you're going, "Well, look, this is a traditional American situation that we've done for hundreds of years." But now you knocked it out.

I haven't posted anything from MediaMatters in a long time, because they became a bit of a 'stretch-it-till-it-fits' bomb throwing organization, taking good fact checking and turning into unabashed cheerleading. But sometimes people like O'Reilly just make it too easy.

Wouldn't it make sense to leave school scheduling up to local communities? I can't see a community with no Muslims taking a day off for a Muslim holiday, but in a community where some reasonable portion of the population is Muslim, it certainly makes sense. Granted, federal holidays are based on the Judeo-Christian calendar, and we can't keep adding holidays here there and everywhere, nor does it make much sense to remove them from the calendar when business essentially shut down at those times anyway. In this school district, I don't particularly know what the population breakdown might be, but perhaps there should be some sort of standard that states that holidays should be given if they affect some certain percentage of the target population.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Baseball: coastal bias sucks

The Chicago White Sox's first world championship in 88 years was also the lowest-rated World Series ever.
Typical. If the best of anything in the world dwells in the fly-over country, no one on the ocean gives a shit.

Go Central divisions! Because buying championships (*cough* Red Sox and Yankees are overpaid no-talent assclowns *cough*) just isn't as fun as winning them outright.

Evil Empire: move over, Mel Gibson

Wal-Mart's critics, opening a new front in their war on the retail goliath, are borrowing from actor-director Mel Gibson's promotional playbook.

Producers of a new documentary, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, will show it at about 1,000 churches, synagogues and religious sites nationwide on Nov. 13 in a bid to force changes in Wal-Mart's employment and other practices.

The film, by the director of Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, comes as Wal-Mart mounts a new effort to polish its battered image. The movie is part of a broader campaign by a disparate group of critics who now include ministers asserting Wal-Mart's tactics are a moral as well as economic issue.
Let's give some serious props to the religious right (center, up, down, and left!) for standing up for the unambiguous but oft-ignored moral issues of equality, poverty, and exploitation!

My favorite line from the article:
Wal-Mart has not seen the film, says spokeswoman Christi Gallagher. But, she said, "His video is simply unabashed propaganda."
Similarly, I don't have a degree in economics, but I sure can say that Wal-mart is simply unabashed bullshit.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Medicine: brilliance, or the end of primary care as we know it?

I'd heard rumors about this for a while now, but Solantic has finally struck a deal with Wal-mart to put urgent care clinics in Wal-mart stores.

the good: this might SERIOUSLY reduce costs from unnecessary ED visits depending on how insurances, medicaid, and medicare cover these costs.

the bad: by making 'urgent care' treatment so accessible, will the traditional model of primary care, which emphasizes longitudinal experience, patient-doctor relationship, and preventive medicine, be lost to the market?

the ugly: do you really want to be 'the Wal-mart doctor?' does that mean you got your degree in aisle 19 beside the laundry detergent?

Despite my reservations, I don't see many ways in which the world can be made worse by increasing access to health care.

But with Wal-mart involved, I'm sure they'll figure out something.

I just hope they don't start advertising, 'buy one ZPak, get the second half off!'

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Medicine: One small step for man

So the dude who has spent the last twenty years working on a male contraceptive (currently achieving a promising 92% success rate) just got a 3.6 million dollar grant from NIH. Sweet!

I do have one particular concern, though: will a 'male pill' lower the rate of condom use and increase certain STD rates?

Considering the social dynamic, there's really no shame in asking a guy to put on a condom, because essentially the point is to stop from getting someone pregnant, of which almost every male has the capability. If anything, it is that male's very virility which allows him to impregnate, meaning that, by six degrees, the necessity to put on a condom is to some degree a masculinizing event. Not that every dude sees it way, but its certainly a valid read of the phenomenon.

Picture this:

Dude: I'm on the pill. I ain't plantin' the seed, suga.

Chick: But honey, what if you have the clap?

Dude: What you sayin' 'bout me, bitch? You think I'm dirty or sumpin'?

Chick: No, baby. You can rob the bank as long as you left the deposit slips at home.

Chick proceeds to get the clap AND pregnant, because Dude was a lying asshole and wasn't taking the pill anyway, or he missed a few doses here or there, or was taking some antibiotic (just to steal a problem from the estrogen/progesterone pills), and hell, what's he worried about anyway? It's not like he has to take care of the baby.

Now, don't get me wrong. A product that disperses responsibility for birth control to both genders in a non-invasive matter is a great thing. For monogamous couples to have that extra back-up is great. The pluses far outweigh the minuses. But, before we put the male pill on the market, if Dr. Hall puts that grant to good use, we better consider the social awkwardnesses which it might generate in a generally anti-feminist society, and at least attempt to address those dynamics with education.

Sexx Laws: Kansas high court rejects harsher treatment of illegal gay sex

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday unanimously struck down a state law that punished underage sex more severely if it involved homosexual acts.

The court said "moral disapproval" of such conduct is not enough to justify the different treatment...

... The case involved an 18-year-old man, Matthew R. Limon, who was found guilty in 2000 of performing a sex act on a 14-year-old boy and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Had one of them been a girl, state law would have dictated a maximum sentence of 15 months.
Even in Kansas, there are but the few sane among them.

I'm tempted to launch into my tirade about the sense of underage sex laws, since I don't particularly see why a 14-year old is mature enough to consent to sex with another 14-year-old, but is not mature enough to consent to an 18-year-old.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't particularly think it's a good idea for 14-year-olds to be screwing around with 18-year-olds OR with other 14-year-olds. But, if consensual, should it be illegal? Should a high school senior go to jail for having sex with a freshman partner?

I don't advocate an age-limitless sexual free-for-all. But I do think current laws do, in particular instances, punish people who have not done anything for which the government should be able to hold them accountable.

No one should be punished by the government for having consensual sex with someone who is intellectually capable of giving consent.

Of course, defining such an intellectual capability would be a legal conundrum as long as pricks like Rick Santorum walk the earth who would inevitably demand that only married heterosexuals capable of reproduction are intellectually capable of consenting to woman-on-bottom-only (don't even THINK about a clitoral orgasm) intercourse, and only once a month twenty-four hours before the speculated moment of ovulation.

But in my fantasy bullshitless society, 'intellectual capacity to consent,' seems a pretty reasonable criteria after reasonable precedent has been set.

NB: if you get the category subject heading, Courtney will bake you cookies, I'm sure.

Medicine: props to the Tigers

So LSU med students are living on a ferry and taking lectures in a cinema. You only find that resilience in the SEC. No offense, Tulane.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Medicine: Your Bird Flu Questions Answered

For all of you prophets of doom and gloom out there, CNN has a special article today directed at answering all your bird flu prevention questions. In short, it's not quite time to hide your birdfeeders and give up the Thanksgiving turkey...yet.

Personally, I think we're all screwed anyway once the monkeys take over (which, as Lewis Black points out, could be very soon), so I say bring it on.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Medicine: Don't Bitch to Me...

... about your flu shot. According to the BBC, I'm doomed over here.

Love and kisses,
Captain Sacrament
Oxford

Friday, October 14, 2005

Medicine: the flu shot kicked my ass

The CDC assures me this will just last for 1-2 days, but damn, I feel like somebody to a crowbar to my entire body.

Of course, that's still better than getting the damn flu. (at least, that's what I'm supposed to say, right?)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Medicine: Pacifier Use May Help Prevent SIDS

Letting your baby suck on a pacifier before bed may help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). That's the conclusion of a review of studies done on pacifier use. And the evidence was compelling enough for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to include a recommendation about pacifier use in its updated SIDS guidelines.
Apparently this is pissing off some of the breast feeding advocates since they feel pacifiers may reduce baby's willingness to breast feed.

The real question though is why was this an article in Forbes? Buy stock in pacifier companies.

Medicine: Polio eradicated from the world*

WHO launched the drive in 1988 to eliminate polio by the end of this year. Massive immunizations have reduced the number of cases from 350,000 a year in 1988 to 1,255 cases last year. An outbreak in Nigeria two years ago occurred after Islamic clerics urged parents to boycott the vaccine for fear it was part of an American anti-Muslim plot, eventually spread first to Chad, then to nearby Sudan - and then across the Red Sea into Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Indonesia was also affected.
I remember thinking those people were nuts for thinking the Polio vaccine was a plot to hurt them, but then I read about all the parents who refuse to give their kids shots for fear of autism. The insane ability to blame medicine for the very diseases it treats is something that unifies the Arab and American world.

*except in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan and Egypt, who don't count.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Medicine: black market developing for misoprostol as primary abortifacient

First, to be clear:

Misoprostol is NOT RU-486; RU-486 is mifepristone, an ENTIRELY different drug that inhibits progesterone receptors. Misoprostol, or Cytotec, is a prostaglandin E1 agonist, commonly used for gastric ulcer prophylaxis, refractory constipation, and cervical ripening. Misoprostol is used as the second drug along with RU-486 in the FDA-approved protocol for pharmacologic abortions, but misoprostol is not the 'abortion pill,' and it certainly isn't the 'morning after pill,' although a pharmacology text written by our right-wing pharmacology professor claims otherwise.

And I say right-wing based on his affinity for Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, the reading list posted on his own website, and the pride which he takes in carrying a concealed weapon.

Plus he is an Ohio State fan.

I refrain from further comment about the professor because you just shouldn't mess with a guy who brags on his site that with his Walther 22, he can "put 10 rounds in a small group in about 5 seconds."

But anyway...

Misoprostol is already well known in poor, immigrant communities in New York and abroad as a cheap and private way to end an unwanted pregnancy.

"There's a black market for it," said Dr. Eric Schaff, professor of Family Medicine at the University of Buffalo. "Women get very desperate with unintended pregnancy. And legal abortions still cost several hundred dollars."

An 800-microgram dose of misoprostol, about four pills, is 60% to 90% effective at ending a pregnancy when taken alone in the first seven weeks, studies show.

Local doctors have been using it legally for years in an FDA-approved regimen that includes the abortion pill mifepristone, popularly known as RU-486.

But unprescribed misoprostol use - which is both dangerous and discouraged by the FDA - is commonplace in Latin American countries where abortion is illegal.
Misoprostol goes for about sixty bucks for sixty pills. That's enough for 15 abortions. So basically, a four dollar abortion that works about 2/3's of the time, and carries a risk of severe consequences for baby and mom.

Abortions cannot be safe, rare, and legal if access to them is so prohibited that women will risk their lives to have an illegal one rather than access channels to obtain the procedure legally. Federally-funded clinics can't even mention abortion, nevermind provide information and proper counseling. Planned Parenthood does a great job, but privacy, cost, and fear can still be a barrier. There's no way in hell Medicaid is going to pay for one. And while I don't particularly think that John Roberts or Harriet Miers is going to change the legality of abortion any time particularly soon, access isn't exactly on the upswing, either.

Coat hangers are not a thing of the past. They're simply now in the form of a hexagonal pill.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Politics: Bill Frist is a "Blind", Psychic, Rich, Dirty Bastard Whom I Despise (Did I Mention He's a Relgious Nut too?)

So you may know that Frist's family owns HCA, which is the nation's largest owner of and provider of healthcare services throughout the nation (sorry, no facilities in Michigan. for you Kentucky folk, HCA owns the Frankfort Regional Medical Center and Greenview Regional Hospital in Bowling Green). HCA made Frist's father, Dr. Thomas Frist Sr, a very rich man. HCA is the epitome of what I vehemently disdain in American medicine - CEOs and other non-care providers making millions of dollars of profit off of patients, while those delivering direct patient care are often undercompensated (especially nurses, medical assistants, and all the other non-doctor types). For example, HCA's top CEO routinely takes in roughly 12 million dollars a year, plus or minus a few million (I'm citing this from memory - the exact figure is in a very excellent book about the cost of health care, Bleeding the Patient: The Consequences of Corporate Health Care). HCA executives have also been involved and cited for defrauding Medicare.

So little Fristy-poo, the kind Senate Majority Leader, is himself in a bit of a scandal, as he sold some HCA stock a la Martha Stewart, just before the stock took a substantial plummet. The article linked to this blog describes how Frist has gotten away with owning HCA stock while making KEY medical votes during his Senate tenure. I don't claim to understand these so called "blind trusts" that allow politicians to hold stock in business while allowing them to vote in the Senate/Congress without a conflict of interest, but I am suspicious of how "blind" these stocks really are. If a doctor is not allowed to practice medicine while being in the Senate or Congress (I believe we had a heated blog about this earlier in the year), why do we allow Frist to hold this "blind stock", and form laws that may allow him and his family to continue rip the money out of their patient's (and the government's) pockets. I'm a little biased, as I believe becoming immensely wealthy (i.e. to the tunes of becoming a freaking millionaire) in healthcare is just a bit unethical and a poor use of our healthcare resources, especially when we have over 45 million uninsured persons in this country.

We will have to stay tuned to see if Frist's psychic stock trading and "blind" trust cost our favorite doctor-turned-politician his suspect run for the 2008 Presidency. Probably not though - we seem to like to keep our liars and thieves in Washington.

Literature: and the 2005 Booker goes to...

Irish writer John Banville, for his novel, The Sea, which has been fast-tracked for a November 2005 release in the US.

Smurfs: UNICEF succeeds where Gargamel fails

Bringing whole new meaning to "Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children?!?", UNICEF's latest campaign to draw attention to the plight of ex-child soldiers in Africa is a little, uh, unusual. Apparently they believe that depicting the destruction of beloved childhood memories is an effective way to raise money.

Next up, how the beating death of ALF can help raise AIDS awareness.

Garrett Update: here's a clip.

Video Games: Who needs med school?


Now you too can become a trauma surgeon, while battling a mysterious new illness as a member of a top secret medical organization that has already cured Flu and HIV. No, it's not the new recruitment flier for Michigan Med School. It's a new video game called Trauma Center: Under the Knife available on Nintendo DS.

Medicine: we're all gonna die of bird flu

Corpus Callosum has a great post on US-preparedness for a potential (read: eh, probably not) outbreak of avian flu.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Immigration: Coast guard now twice as effective at keeping out Cuban terrorists

US coastguards intercepted 2,712 Cubans attempting to reach America's shores during the past 12 months, more than double the previous year's figure of 1,225 and the highest number since 1994, when 37,000 crossed the Florida straits. Analysts say worsening economic conditions on the island mean more Cubans were trying to escape to Florida, many in unseaworthy boats. Coastguard patrols have been stepped up. The 1994 migration led the US to adopt a "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy, under which Cubans who reach land are allowed to stay and those intercepted at sea are repatriated.
Maybe, President Bush is right about the many threats terrorists pose and the valiant war our border patrols and coast guard are waging daily. Or maybe we're just telling a bunch of foreigners they have to go back to live in oppressive squalor because they didn't tag US land and scream "Safe".

International Health: Cash plea to fight Africa's forgotten diseases

Medicine and health care prove more complicated than a 30 second sound bite, again. This is an article in the Guardian, but a link to the original journal article may be found at the PLoS Medicine site.

In a paper published today, [scientists] said that a focus by governments and charities on the big three tropical diseases - HIV, malaria and tuberculosis - had left millions of the poorest people in Africa without treatment for a range of illnesses.
The neglected diseases, which include schistosomiasis, river blindness, ascariasis, elephantiasis and trachoma, affect more than 750 million people and kill at least 500,000 every year.

Writing in the open-access journal Public Library of Science, Medicine, the researchers said that treating all of these illnesses with a cocktail of four readily available drugs would cost less than 50 cents (28p) a person a year. They claimed that dealing with the forgotten diseases would reduce susceptibility to malaria and help to make socio-economic improvements for those in poverty, as well as save lives.

"Instead of 95% of money donated going to malaria, HIV and TB, it would only need to be 90% and we could do an awful lot of cost-effective treatment and help towards making poverty history."

Prof Molyneux said that reducing the incidence of worms and parasites would help control more life-threatening diseases. People with intestinal worms are known to be nine times more likely to contract malaria because their immune systems are weakened by the lesser disease. He added that eradicating schistosomiasis would halve the incidence of malaria.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Politics: Long Live the Empire

As a disclaimer: the following anecdote is an attempt to be funny. I'm not making any arguments about American foreign policy or any serious comment on the intelligence of the US President. And unless we've discussed it in person, I guarantee that you will never guess my actual opinions. If you want to know what Captain Sacrament really thinks about patriotism and the American Empire, look at my blog and the essays listed under Patriotism. The United States is not Christian, merely Christ-haunted, to borrow a phrase...

After wasting the last couple of elections as a Democratic voter, I've decided to throw in the towel. The party will never again regain power in the US; for a start, most of the country is religious, the leadership has never been comfortable with that, and it seems they never will be. They might like the odd Buddhist now and again, but realistically, they don't understand religion, so for the most part fear and even hate religious people.

So since I can't beat them, I'm just going to join them. I want to be an Imperial Administrator. In terms of establishing and maintaining order in a dangerous, unstable world, the American Empire is the best thing since, well, the last thing: the British Empire. As the Pax Americana moves across the Middle East, I want to do my part. I want to be Proconsul of Qatar.

Allow me to make my case. First, it has one of the highest per capita income in the world, and a lot of natural resources. I like having nice things. They are ruled by a monarchy. Frankly, I've always thought I would make an absolutely stellar autocrat. Like many in the region, they're heavily into the autocracy. And finally, according to the entry in the CIA World Factbook, I've been mispronouncing the name of the place for weeks now. Could there be a better match? (And if you think I'm learning Arabic, think again!)

And as I expect that George II will rule as imperator for at least another term or two (to be replaced by JEB I), I do not anticipate much interference from Washington. You see, I'm certain they think a country with such a name is actually located behind the borders of the Klingon Empire.

They'll just give me a couple of Sci-Fi nerds as an ambassadorial staff and leave me be.

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Politics: mock liberal outrage

So it's trendy right now to look at president Bush like a hallucinating schizophrenic over these comments to Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath:

"God would tell me, George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan. And I did, and then God would tell me, George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq... And I did.

"And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East. And by God I'm gonna do it."
Now I guess if you took these comments super-literally and thought that George was just walking down the street and heard voices in his head and decided to do these random invasions, then sure. But come on, kids.

Imagine that, someone who proclaims to be an evangelical Christian (no crime, no problem with that) confirms that, when faced with a big decision, he prays. Oh my gosh, he prays. Oh no. He should be impeached! He should be taught to meditate like all the secularists or he should be thrown into the Potomac.

Get real.

Maybe this is simply an issue of semantics for those who aren't used to the semantics of devoted Christians. And maybe it's just liberals who are too lazy to write about the Tom DeLay indictment, Bill Frist's MarthaStewarting, Harriet Miers cronyism, the Rove-leaking-Plame case, and the no-job-growth month we just had. And maybe some folk are just that anti-Christian that any reference to a man's personal beliefs, however superficial they might be, set off an alarm.

But come on. Bush faces big decision. Bush prays to find out what he should do. Bush comes up with decision, attributes it to his prayer (rightfully or wrongfully). Bush tells folks God told him to do something. NO BIG DEAL!

If anything, this shows us all that Bush at least THINKS about what he's doing before he does it! Prayer, if not a time to commune with God, is at least a time of meditation and contemplation that would benefit rational decision making.

And while we don't think his decisions were necessarily the most rational, we look like morons if we're so out of touch with the majority of Americans that we get upset when we find out that they prayed about a decision instead of creating some mathematical formula to tell them what to do.

Friday, October 7, 2005

Heard around the apartment: poor Harriet Miers


"Oh my God! She's a man! She had a sex change operation! That's a man's jaw!" ~my wife.

Now, usually it would be well below the belt for me to let such an accusation be registered on Sparkgrass. Maybe you just had to be here.

Courtney isn't particularly happy with me for this post, but ya know. Freedom of speech, freedom of press/blog.

Medicine: More FDA resignations over Plan B delay

Dr. Frank Davidoff, an internal medicine specialist, said Thursday he stepped down from his position as a consultant to the FDA's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee about a month ago. Members of that panel and another committee of outside experts voted 23-4 in December 2003 to recommend non-prescription sales of the contraceptive, called Plan B.

The FDA so far has rejected that advice, as well as support from the agency's scientific staff. Then-FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford announced August 26 he was postponing a decision indefinitely and taking public comment for 60 days.

That delay "crossed the line for me," Davidoff said in an interview.

In his resignation letter, Davidoff said he wrote: "I can no longer associate myself with an organization that is capable of making such an important decision so flagrantly on the basis of political influence, rather than the scientific and clinical evidence."
I don't know what to really add to articles like this, except the obvious "grumble, grumble, grumble." Medicine and medical policy is not necessarily filled with nothing but economic or social liberals. It's a pretty practical, results-oriented group of folk. And even those of us who came into medical school as flag-waving lefties have become tempered by the need for policy to actually work. Necessarily, we develop a fairly low tolerance for bullshit, and there's plenty of bullshit on the left and on the right.

And the FDA delay of Plan B OTC sales is, of course, unadulterated ideological evangelical bullshit.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Who the **** is Harriet Miers? Possibly the next Supreme Court Justice.

Bush recently nominated Miers for the current opening on the Supreme Court, prompting most people to reply "Who?". She has never served as a judge at any level and has never argued a case before the Supreme Court, but she's worked with Bush for years as his personal lawyer and then as White House counsel. So you won't be able to read any court opinions of hers (since she hasn't written any) and any legal documents she's written will be protected by both attorney-client privelege and executive privelege. I guess your best bet to find out about this newly fascinating person is Wikipedia. Maybe if she falls through Bush will nominate his high school debate coach.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Never Saw THAT Coming: Roy Moore running for Alabama governorship

"Thou shalt have no other governors before me."




And thus begins Judge Moses' ascent to the throne.

Medicine: H. Pylori worth a Nobel

Marshall and Warren won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine Monday for their relation of H. Pylori and gastritis and stomach ulcers. Cool.

As a bonus, since the American dollar isn't worth crap nowadays, the award amounted to about 1.3 million dollars. If I remember right, last year the award was around 900,000. The award has remained ten million kronor, whatever the hell those are. Silly Swedes.

In pictures: El Salvador volcano's trail of destruction

El Salvador's Ilamatepec volcano had been dormant for more than a century. It erupted on Saturday killing two people and forcing thousands to flee. Officials warn it could erupt again.

Garrett Update: Click on the pic to get a better view of its beautifulness and stuff.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Medicine: Papa Valium dead at age 97

Family members say that Leo Sternbach, the chemist who first synthesized Valium and Klonopin, was really damn relaxed at the time of his death. *rim shot*

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Film: PSH getting his due

Finally, Philip Seymour Hoffman gets a leading role well received by critics and poised for an actual decent commercial run with his portrayal of Truman Capote in the midst of writing his uber-journalism In Cold Blood. Capote deserves early Oscar support.