Saturday, December 30, 2006
The death penalty is barbaric, even when used on barbarians.
The only time it is justified to kill someone is when you are Jack Bauer. Otherwise, unacceptable.
In the above statement, I'm assuming that Jack Bauer is second only to Christ in that whole omniscience thing. In no way interpret that as condoning inhumane methods when you aren't as bad ass as Jack Bauer. When you're less bad ass than Jack Bauer, such methods are just sloppy absurdity.
Even if you are Kiefer Sutherland in another role, you aren't as bad ass as Jack Bauer.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Hell is freezing over, so the heat is being pumped up to Michigan.
An article in Pediatrics, suggests that having fast-food restaurants in children's hospitals influences patients' families to eat fast food and to think that it's relatively healthy. And apparently, at least 59 of the nation's 250 children's hospitals have fast-food restaurants. This isn't shocking, although the logic behind it is kind of odd. I mean, hospitals are full of sick people; why can't they associate sick kids with fast-food? What do we have to do to let people know that (tasty, delicious) fast food is bad for you? My idea, instead of toys, give kids insulin syringes and aspirin to prepare for a future of type two diabetes and ischemic heart disease. Any other ideas?
So the FDA has looked at all the evidence and announced that it can't find anything dangerous about consuming cloned food products (not that shocking since clones are pretty much delayed twins). But instead of being pleased that the FDA, charged with "assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of . . . our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation", has acted on a wealth of scientific information, we're pissed that they didn't take our feelings on cloning into account. I for one don't want the FDA to take my feelings into account; that's how Plan B ended up on the shelf (and not over the counter) for several years. If people don't want to buy it, then they can try to find something wrong with it, or (as many people already do) buy products labeled with "organic" (which I'm sure this whole debate will make more popular). Either way everyone gets what they want, and I can't wait till I can have the same exact burger every time I go to McDonalds (same cow, same cheese from same cow, same lettuce substitute, etc.)
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Lord help us. I honestly have no idea what his politics are. To me, he'll always be that idiot from the Vice Presidential debates who made Dick Cheney look well informed and intelligent. Oh, and apparently he loves YouTube so as a young voter I must love love him.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Former President Ford dies at 93.
Condolences in order. Ford's death leaves Jimmy Carter as the least competent former president alive. Apologies for the offensive subject line. It's mostly an inside joke with my wife, and my traffic isn't high enough to justify excluding inside jokes.
Monday, December 25, 2006
If you're visiting those uber-conservative family folks, and feel a need for some nice liberal inoculation, ThinkProgress's Naughty and Nice List should give you a nice cathartic moment.
Elementary school teachers aside, what do you prefer: thinkprogress's or thinkprogress'. I know we were taught various useless rules about which is "correct," but the s-apostrophe thing just always made me feel a little empty, like I was bastardizing that poor genitive ending. Granted, I had speech therapy as a little'un for an s-sound articulation disorder, so maybe I just have personal issues surrounding memories of my hissing 9-year old self, but I still just dislike the inconsistency of the s-apostrophe. Apostrophe-s is where it's at.
But yeah, Merry Christmas.
NAUGHTY: Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), for attacking incoming Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress.It goes on, and includes some obvious partisan hackery (including the 5-days a week line, which is fun to say, but obviously quasi-irrelevant). But it's Christmas. Indulge.
NICE: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), for still wanting to be friends with Rep. Virgil Goode.
NAUGHTY: The 109th Congress, for doing nothing.
NICE: The 110th Congress, for promising to work five days a week.
NICE: Nancy Pelosi, for becoming the first female Speaker of the House.
NAUGHTY: The Capitol, for having no women’s restroom in the Speaker’s office.
It's only 334 days until Bill O'Reilly launches the next "defensive" "War on Christmas®."
Friday, December 22, 2006
African-Americans however, who are are accustomed to leaders who emerge from the civil rights movement, sometimes appear to struggle to relate to Obama.As a white Southerner who knows practically nothing about his genealogy and what his ancestors might have been doing pre-1863, I know nothing about what it means to be an African-American with a slavery legacy, other than what I can get from books. As a kid born in the final weeks of the Carter administration, I know nothing about the civil rights movement outside of books and interviews.
"For some African-Americans, he has not really affirmed their identity. He has affirmed his own mixed identity, but he has not strongly affirmed the right and the claim of African-Americans in this society to equal treatment," said Walters, a professor at the University of Maryland.
Others said Obama is simply an unknown figure to many African-Americans who are almost reflexively suspicious.
That said, my initial impression is that if there are individuals who don't like Obama because he's not black enough, then said individuals should get their heads out of their asses, because I'm sure John McCain is white enough for white people, and they'll be glad to vote accordingly.
I don't care if Obama is paisley purple with green stripes. If he's traveling around telling people that one of his top three priorities is health care for all, he's got my positive attention. And he'd certainly be paisley enough for me.
Ken Griffey Jr. broke his left hand in an accident at home, the latest in a series of injuries that have derailed the career of the All-Star outfielder.
Griffey's throwing hand will be in a hard cast for three weeks, then will be re-examined, Reds spokesman Rob Butcher said Friday.
Butcher said he could not say when or how the accident occurred because Griffey did not authorize any more details to be released.
General manager Wayne Krivsky wasn't sure whether Griffey will be ready for the start of spring training. The club will have a better idea when the hand is examined again in three weeks.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
If you go to jkrowling.com, click on the eraser and you will be taken to a room — you'll see a window, a door and a mirror.Or you can just click on the damn link and it'll tell you in the last line. But it's much more cracked out to go through the seventeen arcane steps.
In the mirror, you'll see a hallway. Click on the farthest doorknob and look for the Christmas tree. They click on the center of the door next to the mirror and a wreath appears. Then click on the top of the mirror and you'll see a garland.
Look for a cobweb next to the door. Click on it, and it will disappear. Now, look at the chimes in the window. Click on the second chime to the right, and hold it down. The chime will turn into the key, which opens the door. Click on the wrapped gift behind the door, then click on it again and figure out the title yourself by playing a game of hangman.
Btw, that's one lame title.
My least favorite psychiatrist ever (in competition with Peter Breggin), American Enterprise hack Sally Satel, has a fairly reasonable, albeit provocative, article in the NYT about the importance of behavior change over insight in drug addiction recovery. Now, I can't say that I appreciate the degree to which she is a condescending jerk about her patients who are just trying to find some meaning in their shitty lives, but in between all of her AEI hackery, I still think this article is good enough to link. Imagine that.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
A new poll reports that approx 3/4 of American GI's are comfortable serving with lesbian and gay colleagues. In fact 1/4 of those polled were aware of a gay or lesbian colleague currently serving with them. I really hope this Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy can be "straightened" out with the new legislature coming to town in December. We're at the point were we need every soldier we can get, gay or straight!
It seems, according to this study of 38,000 Americans, that premarital sex isn't just the norm, it's almost universal. 95% of Americans have premarital sex... then why do we still have this false notion that waiting for marriage is the ideal and what we all should be shooting for? I can't imagine having an ideal that only 5% of people actually attain. We need to strengthen our sex ed by teaching children how to protect themselves, not ignoring the role of condoms and birth control to spew an abstinence-only message. Abstinence works, but so do condoms and OCPs.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Summary: You write a pseudoscience novel about global warming in which you claim that ecoterrorists are trying to destroy the earth and take rich people down with them. A Washington political columnist for TNR writes a cover-story trashing you for your crappy pseudoscience.
A) write a letter-to-the-editor to the New Republic, defending your stance
B) ignore it, because it's not like the anti-global warming crowd reads TNR anyway
C) write the columnist into your next book as a child rapist!
It doesn't take a Harvard Anthropology degree to figure out the answer to this one. Obviously, it's C! Mick Crowley not only rapes a two-year-old, but also has a small penis!
Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a rape case involving the sexual assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers. Crowley was a wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate and heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. ...Real mature. Real Crichton.
It turned out Crowley's taste in love objects was well known in Washington, but [his lawyer]--as was his custom--tried the case vigorously in the press months before the trial, repeatedly characterizing Alex and the child's mother as "fantasizing feminist fundamentalists" who had made up the whole thing from "their sick, twisted imaginations." This, despite a well-documented hospital examination of the child. (Crowley's penis was small, but he had still caused significant tears to the toddler's rectum.)
Understand that Michael Crichton was amazingly important in my career choice, back when I was twelve. I thought Jurassic Park was awesome, and Crichton went to med school, and then Crichton wrote fun stuff that my twelve-year Dickens-reading self thought was the greatest literature the world could have to offer.
Then I turned sixteen or so and read some James Joyce and some Fitzgerald and learned a little about neuroscience and, well, that was that, I was on my way to being an English-major med student.
Which is why it pains the hell out of me to state the obvious: Michael Crichton is a right-wing douchebag hack. I wondered after reading the racist Rising Sun, but I didn't know any Japanese people, and my dad worked at an oil refinery, so I cut him a break. There was a certain male populism to Disclosure, which I now understand was abject anti-feminist women-hating. And even Prey took a few shots at liberal politics, but hey, nanotech was cool.
Then State of Fear, which I won't even waste my time on. I'd love to see Al Gore and Michael Crichton in a steel cage match.
So, Michael Crichton, write me into your next one. I'm a senior med student at the University of Michigan, in a Master's program in clinical research, and I'm going into Child Psychiatry. I haven't raped any children, and I believe by most metrics I don't have a small penis, and my family was way too poor to be heir to any sort of pharmaceutical fortune, but I'm sure you can figure out something. You're a douchebag like that.
"As you know I have been exploring helping the people of my state and our country in a different capacity," he wrote. "After talking with family and friends over the past several days, I have decided that this is not the year for me to run for President and I will not be a candidate for the presidency in 2008.Please send Daniel Solzman at Kentucky Democrat your condolences. He basically had his next two years' schedule cleared to campaign for Bayh. We have to make sure he doesn't start hitting the Manischewitz too hard.
"It wasn't an easy decision but it was the right one for my family, my friends and my state. I have always prided myself on putting my public responsibilities ahead of my own ambitions."
Daniel, I'm sure Barack could use your help on universal health care.
Friday, December 15, 2006
NJ legislature has passed a bill authorizing civil unions in that state in an effort to comply with their supreme court ruling. While this isn't the gold medal marriage bill that most LGBT individuals are looking for, we should be grateful that there was plenty of support for this big step. Like Assemblyman Reed Gusciora said, "The distance between nothing and civil unions is greater than the distance between civil unions and marriage." I think that's a key fact to keep in mind. So, to all of you activists, keep fighting... but don't lose sight of the gains we've gathered so far!
Thursday, December 14, 2006
This nutjob actually thinks that ingesting soy as a baby will lead to homosexuality. He's blaming it on all those "estrogens" found in soy products. Oh, he's trying to blame childhood leukemia on soy products too. The sad thing is that there are probably some people out there who will actually believe him.
Well, I want to go on record as saying I NEVER had any soy products as a baby (to the best of my knowledge) and I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with my sexual orientation. Seriously, I'm all for free speech, but some people are just crazy!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Gay evangelicals struggle to find a church where they feel welcome and comfortable practicing their faith. Given the recent outing of two prominent evangelical leaders, let's all pray that this spurs some questioning from the evangelical community at large as to the acceptance of LGBT individuals. If someone like Rev Barnes can struggle his whole life and not be able to "convert," maybe that means that conversion isn't really the answer. Maybe some people were actually created gay by God and are meant to love a partner of the same sex. Maybe Jesus doesn't want us to be judged and discriminated against. Just a thought.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Something fabulous about the way William Saletan breaks down the spins:
Nice liberal spin: They're model parents, together for 15 years and committed for life. Honor them by legalizing gay marriage.Feels... very... cold... in... here...
Nice conservative spin: Nothing against this couple—we're sure they'll try their best—but kids need a dad as well as a mom.
Mean conservative spin: "Mary Cheney Cruel to Children … Our society already has too many children born without the benefits of marriage."
Mean liberal spin: If that's the way you haters feel, there's still time for an abortion.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I'm sure I could try to say a lot about how I understand where these podunkers are coming from, but how I really wish they'd get a clue that it's not nice to do something when everybody else thinks it's bad (even if you swear that's not why you're doing it!). But I'll let one of Kentucky's finest tell you in her own words why it's okay to have confederate flags all over her high school:
"To us it's not about the hatred," said Tiffany Owens, an 18-year-old cheerleader at Allen Central High School in eastern Kentucky. "I have colored friends around here and they never say anything."Sure, it ain't about the hatred. But it sure is about being embarrassingly ignorant of history and culture at large.
Saturday, December 9, 2006
So Lilly has some sort of glutamatergic antipsychotic in the works?
Eli Lilly and Co. on Thursday said one of its experimental drugs was comparably effective in a mid-stage trial as the company's widely used Zyprexa treatment, but without weight gains seen with Zyprexa. . .
Zyprexa, whose U.S. patent lapses in 2011, is Lilly's best selling-product but its U.S. sales have been badly hurt by the drug's tendency to cause weight gains that can lead to diabetes. The new drug, if it eventually is approved, could help Lilly remain a major player in the field.
Thursday, December 7, 2006
It's always depressing for an English major medical student to find end-of-the-year book lists and realize he's only heard of one of the books on the list, and read none of them.
But at least I don't have mono, said the PA at University Health Services today! Maybe that means I'll feel like non-crap just in time to half-ass a bunch of finals projects I have this semester that I would have loved to focus on without fevers, chills, and sweats.
Update: No more fevers, but I didn't do any better on Slate's Best Books of 2006.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
and some conservative groups are upset about it. WTF??? Can we say, "none of your damn business!"
Don't get me wrong. Mary Cheney is a Hypocritical Bitch. But that doesn't mean I don't think that the Hypocritical Bitch's Partner, who will be functioning as a parent for Spawn of Hypocritical Bitch, shouldn't have all the rights that I'll have someday when my wife and I hatch our own eggs.
Here's some highlights:
Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America described the pregnancy as "unconscionable."Yeah, that love thing is totally overrated. Unloving mom+dad+2.6kids+goldenretriever households are so much better than those loving mom+mom+2.6kids+goldenretriever households. Right.
"It's very disappointing that a celebrity couple like this would deliberately bring into the world a child that will never have a father," said Crouse, a senior fellow at the group's think tank. "They are encouraging people who don't have the advantages they have."
Crouse said there was no doubt that the news would, in conservatives' eyes, be damaging to the Bush administration, which already has been chided by some leaders on the right for what they felt was halfhearted commitment to anti-abortion and anti-gay-rights causes in this year's general election.
Carrie Gordon Earll, a policy analyst for the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family, expressed empathy for the Cheney family but depicted the newly announced pregnancy as unwise.
"Just because you can conceive a child outside a one-woman, one-man marriage doesn't mean it's a good idea," said. "Love can't replace a mother and a father."
So, congratulations to Hypocritical Bitch and Hypocritical Bitch's Partner. No, really. I think it rocks that they are standing up for their human right to love who you want to love. Maybe the kid will even grow up to realize how grandad's politics were shit, and how mommy was really confused about her politics, but at least had the guts to stand up for what she believed when it came to bringing a kid into a loving household.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
First, we have psychiatric scratch-and-sniff.
Now, we have taste tests for whether you should be tried on a serotonin or noepinephrine targeting antidepressant!
The authors, led by Melichar and Lucy Donaldson, a neuroscientist and physiologist also at the University of Bristol, found that a person's sense of taste--known to be genetic and once thought to be fixed--is in fact plastic and responds to changes in neurotransmitter levels as well as to different moods. The research group gave 20 volunteers either one of two classes of common antidepressants--serotonin specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (NARIs)--or a placebo. (Both classes of drugs increase the levels of the specific neurotransmitter that they act upon in the brain.) Before taking the treatments and then again two hours after, the subjects took taste tests where researchers gave them solutions of tastants in different concentrations and told them what taste to expect--sour, salt, sweet or bitter. The participants then had to indicate at what concentration they could detect taste.Most interestingly, this research, if it panned out to be a valid clinical test, would lend some credencce to the role of the waning monoamine theory of depression and psychopathology.
Monoamine theory is waning, you say? Note that this is one of my own personal scientific quirks, and I'd bet money that twenty years from now my reasoning will pan out. But don't think that I have fabulous direct evidence that monoamine theory is BS. I just really believe that it is BS.
NPR study via HuffPo:
1 in 5 Iraq vets are coming home with a serious mental health problem like anxiety, depression, or PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Experts believe that over time, the number will reach almost 1 in 3.Read or listen, and understand the ways in which are soldiers are being abused for suffering from mental illness.
How has the military responded to these wounded warriors? A new investigation by National Public Radio looked at troops diagnosed with mental health disorders, and concluded that "officers at Ft. Carson punish soldiers who need help, and even kick them out of the Army."
Five months before, Jennings had gone to the medical center at Ft. Carson, where a staff member typed up his symptoms: "Crying spells... hopelessness... helplessness... worthlessness." Jennings says that when the sergeants who ran his platoon found out he was having a breakdown and taking drugs, they started to haze him. He decided to attempt suicide when they said that they would eject him from the Army.
It originated in a discovery by Melbourne University researchers of a link between these illnesses and a poor ability to identify smells.Chance of clinical utility ever: 0.2%. But cool enough.
To test their theory, they developed a set of 40 scratch-and-sniff cards and asked people to identify the smell from a list of four possibilities, such as coffee, roses, oranges and petrol.
Professor Warwick Brewer, from the university's Orygen Research Centre, said the people who later went on to develop a brain disorder had demonstrated difficulty correctly answering more than half the questions.
He said the simple test also could be used by relatives of people with these conditions.
"Because of the genetic link in many illnesses, it is hoped the test could also be used by family members of people who have developed an illness of the brain."
Professor Christos Pantelis, from the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre, said smell ability provided unique information about brain structure and function.
"Mental illness can arrest the full maturation of the frontal lobe, while degenerative illness can damage it," Professor Pantelis said.
As an added bonus, Elissa Ely had a touching case anecdote in yesterday's NYT: A Heart That Needed Fixing, a Mind That Said No. And yes, I just said touching. I'm that lame.
Monday, December 4, 2006
Anorexics, bulimics learn methods online: study
Young sufferers of anorexia and bulimia who try to hide their eating problems from their parents and doctors are turning to a growing number of Internet chat rooms dedicated to perpetuating their illness. Many women may not recognize bulimia symptoms
A pilot study released on Monday of U.S. eating disorder patients aged between 10 and 22 showed that up to a third learn new weight loss or purging methods from Web sites that promote eating disorders by enabling users to share tips, such as what drugs induce vomiting and what Internet sites sell them.
But the study -- published in the American Academy of Pediatrics' journal Pediatrics -- found that eating disorder sufferers were also learning new high-risk ways to lose weight from each other on Web sites aimed at helping them recover.
Many women may fail to recognize bulimia symptoms in themselves, particularly if they don't go to the extremes of self-induced vomiting, new research suggests.
In a study of 158 women with bulimia-type eating disorders, Australian researchers found that nearly half did not acknowledge a problem with their eating. This was particularly true of those who did not vomit to control their weight.
I've always refrained from demonstrating what search terms direct folks to Sparkgrass, but this collection just cracked me up a little too much.
And I'm fairly sure that cymbalta does not make semen clear. But that's certainly subject to a randomized controlled trial.
The news came to Pfizer’s chief scientist, Dr. John L. LaMattina, as he was showering at 7 a.m. Saturday: the company’s most promising experimental drug, intended to treat heart disease, actually caused an increase in deaths and heart problems. Eighty-two people had died so far in a clinical trial, versus 51 people in the same trial who had not taken it.
Within hours, Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, told more than 100 trial investigators to stop giving patients the drug, called torcetrapib. Shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, Pfizer announced that it had pulled the plug on the medicine entirely, turning the company’s nearly $1 billion investment in it into a total loss.
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Two drug company disasters in as many days.
First, CATIE-II gets published, and suggests that perphenazine, a typical (high potency) antipsychotic off-patent, is probably as good a place to start as any atypical antipsychotic for schizophrenics. Which isn't to say that psychiatrists are ready to throw atypicals out the window. Instead, tons of skepticism, in the face this cost-effectiveness report, will start spewing forth from the managed care folks, who (we're scared, at least) will try to justify restrictions on atypicals. Bad day for drug companies, great day for managed care, and an unclear day for psychiatric patients.
And then, even more importantly for poor lil' Pfizer, clinical trials for torcetrapib have been halted. What is torcetrapib, you might ask? Only the most important drug (from a stock holder's perspective) in the last ten years for any major drug company. Lipitor only has a few more years on-patent, and pravastatin will probably be off patent in the next year or so, i.e. insurance companies will probably do everything they can to get physicians to switch their Lipitor-taking patients into generic pravastatin-taking patients. I'm interested to see how far Pfizer's stock might plunge, as probably nothing could have been more devastating for the company.
None of the doomsday articles point to Roger Newton's new cholesterol drug, an infusable HDL-variant shown to reduce plaque sizes substantially (yes, 4% of a plaque is SUBSTANTIAL). Now, last I heard, most indications pointed towards the use of the infusable for stabilization after plaque ruptures, but after hearing Newton talk about Esperion's goals, I have to believe that Pfizer (who aquired Esperion for 1.3 billion in 2005) has more anti-cholesterol strategies up their sleeve than news articles suggest.
But still, losing torcetrapib, which Pfizer contemplated pairing with Lipitor to blackmail folks into continuing to take their proprietary statin, suggests that the blockbuster model of drug development might really be dying faster than we thought.
Obviously, Pfizer should pair Lipitor and Geodon and send them to sub-Saharan Africa. Maybe the Africans could trade the drugs to the Russians to get the AIDS drugs they need.