Thursday, December 30, 2004

Family: It's great having nieces

because you get quotes like this:

Grandma, in the war, do you remember when Viet Nam played Tennessee? Did Tennessee win?

Later in the convo, she said something about Viet Nam being Irish. So I think maybe she thought Viet Nam was Notre Dame. I was too busy laughing to find out. Btw, the Irish won the game 17-13 against the then-rated #11 Vols.

This quote came after Courtney and I were discussing how Sir Richard Burton was blacklisted by the BBC after speaking out against Winston Churchill.

Evil Empire: Walmart managers shoot stray cats

Is this really "completely inconsistent with the way we do business" as the article claims?

Two Wal-Mart employees who police say followed a manager's orders to shoot and kill a stray cat have been charged with federal animal cruelty.

The men, both assistant managers at the Supercenter, were arrested and released after a court appearance Wednesday.

Christopher Anderson, 29, and Jeffrey Hardin, 21, told police the store's manager ordered them to get rid of the animal that was living in a storage trailer behind their store.

Veggies: PETA's not ALL nuts

PETA has McDonald's looking at a more humane way of slaughtering chickens, a method already used for their restaurants in Europe.

PETA contends that chickens supplied to McDonald's and others are sometimes scalded to death while still conscious, a method it deems inhumane. In controlled-atmosphere killing, chickens are put to sleep quickly and painlessly using argon or nitrogen gas, advocates say.

The article details how PETA is actually a large shareholder in many major food corporations and is pressuring Walmart, Applebees, Yum Brands, etc. to improve their methods of slaughter.

And I think this is the sort of animal rights activism even the hungriest carnivore could support.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Medicine: PTSD and stigma in war time

Here's a nice article documenting the desperate need for increased mental health care for soldiers in Iraq.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Irony: Walmart selling anti-Walmart book

The listing says it all.

Update: Apparently Walmart realized what was going on, but you can still buy How Wal-Mart is Destroying America and The World and What You Can Do About It on Amazon.

Literature: Susan Sontag, dead at 71

The amazingly influential "obsessed moralist" died of leukemia at Sloan Kettering.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Medicine: could breast implants save her life?

Well not quite like that, ya know. But here's some fun data from Breast Cancer Research.

The 21 percent of women who had a breast implant after mastectomy had a 12.4 percent death rate due to breast cancer, compared with a 19.7 percent death rate among women who did not receive a breast implant.
Makes sense, since women who receive implants might have fewer psychosocial issues regarding their personal body image, which could theoretically alleviate some of the depressive effects on the body's natural defenses. The fact that this research likely comes as a bit of a surprise despite its intuitive findings confirms that the medical care of women is a unique enterprise that the medical establishment has not been yet redesigned to fully accommodate.

Politics: Obama, Santorum in Newsweek's 'Who's Next'

"I'm so overexposed I make Paris Hilton look like a recluse." - Barack Obama.

A nice article on the purple potential of the rising Dem superstar.

On the other side of the aisle, a rather disturbing article on Rich Santorum, the Pennsylvania Catholic golden boy who, in a cursory reading of the article, has already compared homosexuality to polygamy, said that no one has a right to privacy and that privacy is a "phony legal concoction foisted on the country by liberal judges," declared that states should have the right to ban contraception (but not to legalize gay marriage, as that's threatening to the fabric of society), and wants evolution taught as "a still-controversial scientific theory that 'has holes.'"

I'm wondering if those holes are in Rich Santorum's head.

Race: Newsweek on Cosby

The Right says that entertainers should stay out of polotics and stick to making movies (even the ones who were better than C students at their Ivy League Universities). And I think the same might be said about Bill Cosby:

In "Code of the Street," sociologist Elijah Anderson wrote eloquently of the war in inner cities between "decent" values and "street" values. That is the war into which Cosby has leapt mouth first—and into which Ameer Tate was born. "I grew up in a bad neighborhood ... and I always had to fight... My grandmother was on crack ... Both my uncles were pimps. My father was never here ... [I remember] being beat up as an 11-year-old by this 36-year-old fresh out of prison just because he wanted to put his hands on my mom," recalled Tate, an 18-year-old San Franciscan.

Telling people born into such circumstances to shape up is not much of a plan. Combating "a history of inequality and disadvantage" requires "systematic solutions," argues Stephanie Bell-Rose, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, which funds programs targeting achievers in poor communities. She believes Cosby has an obligation to be "more thoughtful."
Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with preaching personal responsibility, which is clearly the central jist of Cosby's rants. But far too often he progresses into a sort of blame-the-victim type of game, confusing street culture with African American culture and willfully ignoring some of the real struggles those of lower SES must endure and dishonoring the many who, despite their absolute best efforts, will fail against the weight of a situation.

David K. Shipler's wonderful book The Working Poor: Invisible in America does much to outline the traps and pitfalls of the many who will never increase their stations in life despite seemingly following Cosby's prescription to a tee.

Random: Yahoo! UK&Ireland Top Office Attachment Awards

Every really stupid yet funny thing you've missed in 2004.

Education: the liberal bias (and more David Horowitz antics)

This article from AP gives a nice summary of some of the major events in the recent past concerning disgruntled conservatives speaking out against liberal bias in American universities. The latter portion of the article focuses on the activities of David Horowitz, whose disgusting, racist tactics are a discredit to legitimate conservative points in academia, which truly are undervalued in the academic marketplace. However, incidents involving students who are merely angry that their world views are being challenged and that they will be required to actually learn something about an alternate point of view are illegitimate.

I'm pleased that at least the article correctly sites the recent study that shows that humanities and social science professors are decidedly leftist, as Bill O'Reilly and Co. love siting the study in manipulative ways. However, I'm hard-pressed to think that the liberal bias in, say, Economics or Political Science departments could be as pronounced as in Sociology or Geography departments. And philosophy departments have more than their share of conservatives. Not saying the liberal bias doesn't exist; it clearly does. But I think it's also unfair to imply that the leftist intelligentsia blatantly disregards the objective methods that have developed in their fields for their personal politics on a grand scale. All social science fields require objective methods in order for their work to have any real relevance. Of course, I don't believe for a second that there aren't flaws, and politically motivated ones at that, all throughout academia.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas (or what have you) from Sparkgrass!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Doomsday: asteroid headed for Earth in 2029

Chance of asteroid hitting earth: 1 in 300.

Chance of more shitty disaster movies in the next 25 years: 1 in 1.

Media: Moore's next target: drug companies

I don't know whether to smile or to cringe. The best part of this article details how companies are putting out alerts for a fat scruffy dude with a camera. Sicko is slated for a first-half 2006 release.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Medicine: financial conflicts-of-interest at NIH

While I'm not at all convinced that there is systematic distortion of medical truth coming from the National Institutes of Health, David Willman at the L.A. Times points out more than a handful of troubling conflicts of interest:

Dr. P. Trey Sunderland III, a senior psychiatric researcher, took $508,050 in fees and related income from Pfizer Inc. at the same time that he collaborated with Pfizer — in his government capacity — in studying patients with Alzheimer's disease. Without declaring his affiliation with the company, Sunderland endorsed the use of an Alzheimer's drug marketed by Pfizer during a nationally televised presentation at the NIH in 2003.

Dr. Lance A. Liotta, a laboratory director at the National Cancer Institute, was working in his official capacity with a company trying to develop an ovarian cancer test. He then took $70,000 as a consultant to the company's rival. Development of the cancer test stalled, prompting a complaint from the company. The NIH backed Liotta.

Dr. Harvey G. Klein, the NIH's top blood transfusion expert, accepted $240,200 in fees and 76,000 stock options over the last five years from companies developing blood-related products. During the same period, he wrote or spoke out about the usefulness of such products without publicly declaring his company ties.

Medicine/Guns: Walmart sells gun used in suicide to schizophrenic

Here's one sticky story--sticky for gun control, sticky for medical privacy, sticky for patient's rights and competency.

Shayla Stewart's mother is suing Walmart for not doing a sufficient background check to find out that her daughter had a history of manic depression and schizophrenia (how Walmart would do this without violating HIPAA, I have no idea). The biggest tip off might have been that the pharmacy at the Walmart seven miles down the road was issuing her anti-psychotic medications, but that sort of information is rightly kept away from the prying eyes of the FBI by 38 states.

So even I, anti-Walmart and pro-gun control, don't have a clue what to say about this one, except that perhaps doctors should be allowed to suggest to courts that certain people be put on some sort of national no-gun list. The centralized list would contain no information as to why the person would be on the list, only the name of the physician, and then perhaps if the patients wished to challenge their position on the list, they could appeal to some sort of magistrate hearing or something similarly fast-track, and the physician would then be required to submit to the court why the patient meets some sort of established medical criteria for exclusion from a constitutional right.

Obviously such a solution is constitutional insanity. But everything needs a first draft. If a person can be committed to a mental institution against their will by a physician, it seems reasonable that their gun rights could be suspended as well.

The most interesting aspect of this entire situation is that personal responsibility has been essentially eliminated from the equation, as a person suffering with an improperly controlled psychotic illness cannot possibly be expected to exercise the sort of judgment required handle a firearm successfully.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Media: Dick Clark's rockin' new year ball droppin' replacement is...

Colin Powell!!!

The buzz now should be whether this is a semi-tacit network endorsement of Bush policies, or the antithesis. Or if, of course, it's because Colin Powell might be the only person in the country immune to the FCC, since his son runs it.

I think it's just because he's so goshdarn loveable! Powell is a product of NYC public schools, too.

Nutjobs: that girl from my high school who tried to wear a confederate flag dress to prom...

I actually found this link to the Herald-Leader on Fark, which just shows how absurd this whole situation has become. Pathetic.

A former Russell High School student sued the Russell Independent Board of Education on Monday, saying her constitutional rights were violated when she was not allowed to wear a Confederate Battle Flag prom dress to her 2004 senior prom.

Jacqueline Duty designed the red, white and blue sequined gown that incorporated the Confederate Battle Flag, sometimes called the Rebel flag. But Duty said when she arrived at the May 1 prom, administrators and police did not allow her to enter the high school. They escorted her off the property.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Lexington, Duty claims her First Amendment right to free speech was violated as well as her Ninth Amendment right to preserve and protect her heritage. She is also suing for defamation, false imprisonment and assault.
And what is she suing for? Apparently over fifty grand, saying she lost all this scholarship money because she was suddenly wrongfully branded a racist. Blah blah blah.

What a f---ing disgrace.

And who're the jackass lawyers who think this case is winnable on any planet? The right to preserve and protect her heritage? WHAT? We can't get equal treatment based on race and gender in this country, and she's worried about the right to preserve and protect her heritage?

And here's a picture of the dress.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Punctuation: a sarcasm point?

Writing for Slate, Josh Greenman proposes that the world of blogging and instant messaging needs a new sarcasm puncutation point. He proposes a subscript i for some reason, although I'm probably not the first to notice that Blogger has no subscript button :(

Hogwarts: 6th Potter book completed!

A release date for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be announced Tuesday morning.

Update: According to an email from Amazon, July 16, 2005!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Medicine: acupuncture legit treatment for osteoarthritis

No really, I'm serious. Published in Annals of Internal Medicine, NIH funded and all.

Of course, there are other studies that say no way, or site placebo effect correctly. The acupuncture sham method is sorta interesting as well... poke people w/out actually inserting the needles. Cool stuff.

Media: Katie Couric to replace Dan Rather?

Not until 2006, if at all. But that would be a dream come true.

Medicine: happy 50th birthday, kidney transplants!

Dr. Joseph Murray performed the first kidney transplant at then-Brigham Hospital in Boston on Dec 23, 1954. NPR has a nice piece on the procedure. Richard Herrick lived 8 years after the procedure, amazingly. His twin brother, Ronald, is still alive.

The National Kidney Foundation also has a historical nice site.

Politics: Rummy's gotta go

After the armored Hummer fiasco, Rumsfeld pledged to sign each letter to the grieving families of soldiers killed in the war. Except the dick has been using a machine to do it for him. Tool. Even Chuck Hagel says he has no confidence in Rummy. And that seems like a sort of last straw, right?

Hagel also points out that President Bush finds the time to sign the letters himself. So the President can find the time, but the Secretary of War can't? Either Rummy needs to go, or somebody needs to give Bush a job to do while Dick and Karl run the country. And I'm thinking the former would be much more prudent than the latter. Even Trent Lott wants Rummy to go!

Amy Ridenour, of the mostly despicable neoconservative National Center for Public Policy Research think tank, points out that Lott's criticism is the pot calling the kettle black. I agree, Amy. They're both douchebags!

Politics: Nader on Dean for DNC chair

Consider me sold.

Just hearing what he has to say, he’s right on. And the established Democratic Party now is getting ready again to gang up on Howard Dean and defeat him for the D.N.C. chair, just the way they ganged up on him in the primary. This is not a party in decay, Amy. This is a decadent party. A decaying party ends up going out of the way. It’s replaced. A decadent party remains, loss after loss, after loss, for the last ten years at the local, state and national level, to the worst of the Republican Party.

And there’s no major insurgency, except what is attempted by Howard Dean. And my prediction is that he’s simply not going to make it. There’s going to be another bland, monetized mind running the D.N.C. and curtsying to the Democratic Leadership Council, which is really the corporate Democrats that have run this party into the ground over the last decade.

Politics: Governator says, "Go left, young man"

As much as the dude shoves his foot in his mouth and can't hide his ridiculous misogyny (despite having a Kennedy in the sack), he seems to say something smart at least once a week. Bill Frist hasn't said something smart in like a month.

LitPol: William Safire should be beaten

for his nearly incoherent mega-bastardization of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America for some sort of sick take on the War on Terror. Hasn't that Tool retired yet?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Politics: McAuliffe for DNC Chair again?

The Quad-City Times is reporting that there exists a small, if not-as-yet-growing movement to keep Terry McAuliffe as the DNC chair for another year. What's that statement about the definition of insanity? Oh right, it's doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Keep McAuliffe for any longer and the Democrats might as well go ahead and permanently change their name to "The Minority Party"

On the other hand, look at the sources (Iowa campaign chairmen) and the headline ("Iowa Dems think caucuses are safe for '08"). Most of the early frontrunners for the DNC chair position have toyed with the idea of replacing Iowa and New Hampshire with relevant first-round primary contests. As well they should. These statements are probably no more than some Iowa politicos hoping to protect their own undeserving self-importance.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Literature: bad first novel lines honored

Check out the 2004 Lyttle Lytton Contest winners.

Medicine: while I suffer, other med schools study...

University College London med students decided that Gollum suffers from schizoid personality disorder, not schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder. I think they're missing the chronic bronchitis, though. And I'm sure he hasn't seen a dermatologist in a few centuries. And how 'bout a friggin' dentist?

Bible School: pie are squared, koolaid is red

Now that conservatives are winning the war of 'intelligent design', they want to revise math books to the biblically sanctioned value of pi.

Big Blue: Cats vs. Cards, 12:00 ESPN

16-32 Cards at halftime, Cats shooting just 20%.

60-58, Cats win with three free throws w/ 0.6 left from Patrick Sparks!

If Mr. Sparks wants some semi-incestous threesome action, he need only comment on the blog and leave his cell phone number.

Actually, Courtney says she's not up for it. The offer still stands from me.

Scary: 44% of Americans want to restrict rights of Muslims


The survey showed that 27 percent of respondents supported requiring all Muslim Americans to register where they lived with the federal government. Twenty-two percent favored racial profiling to identify potential terrorist threats. And 29 percent thought undercover agents should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations to keep tabs on their activities and fund-raising.
And perhaps less surprising:
The survey conducted by Cornell University also found that Republicans and people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslims' civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less religious.
In less scary news:
Nearly three-fourths of older Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use, according to a poll done for the nation's largest advocacy group for seniors.
I'm wondering if there's any overlap between the first and second populations in this post?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Medicine: et tu, Pfizer?

Looks like Celebrex might be bad for your heart too.

Derm Exam

Makes me itch just thinking about it.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Politics: what does 40 million get you these days?

Either 2 chicks at once, 40 times, or a presidential inaugural.

Medicine: Stem Cell Updates

From the President's Council on Bioethics, some twisted ideas on how to quiet the anti-stem cell crowd: let the embryos die on their own, and turn off some developmental genes to make a non-embryo embryo. Weird stuff.

Also, maybe kids will be saving their baby teeth for stem cells later down the road.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Medicine: cigarettes targeting teens?

Or kindergarteners. Or sorority girls.

That's the only conclusion I can make from marketing candy-flavored cigarettes.

Onion: quote of the century

"I'm so confused. In times of war, should I support the troops or the president?"

Media: with friends like this...

In the tradition of fair and balanced, Zell Miller will now be working for Fox News.

MedPol: crooked priorities

Kevin Drum points out that Medicare is in much worse shape than Social Security, so why all the "crisis" fuss about SS and no talk about Medicare, whose trust fund has an estimated six years left?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Sad: gay teenager outed by principal, expelled from school for running gay website

There's too much that I'd want to quote from this article, so I encourage you to go read it yourself. Hatred. Hatred. Hatred.

Dumbass: black-face judge suspended for dishonoring the profession

A white judge who wore blackface make-up, handcuffs and a jail jumpsuit at a Halloween party will be suspended for six months, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

The justices voted 5-2 to suspend Judge Timothy Ellender for a year without pay for dishonouring his position, but to defer half of that penalty. Ellender will lose more than $50 000 in pay, one judge noted.

Capitalism: Blockbuster dropping late fees


For people looking for last minute Christmas ideas for anybody, Netflix rules, and gift subscriptions are only a few clicks away. If nothing else, Netflix rules for simply forcing Blockbuster to drop their asinine late fees.

MedPol: new HHS Secretary to deal with crazy cuts for services for poor, elderly

So the government wants to borrow money to invest in the stock market so that Social Security can be gutted, but they don't want to provide essential services for the marginalized members of our society? Four more year! Four more years!

Literature: Tom Wolfe wins bad sex award

Tom Wolfe, the American author and journalist, has been awarded this year's prize for bad sex in fiction.

The prize is awarded annually by the Literary Review "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel".

Go check the link for an entirely bland, yet eerily disgusting example of Wolfian sex. Yuck. He's become such a creepy, crotchety old man.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Politics: President Edwards?

The Star Tribune is reporting that, in a stunning move, Minnesota's 10 electors cast only 9 votes for John Kerry. The remaining one vote went to John Edwards. All 10 vice presidential ballots went to Edwards. The rogue "faithless elector" has refused to identify him or herself, and with good reason. No one wants to look like a total idiot in front of the whole country.

Or maybe someone was just jumping the gun on the 2008.

Medicine: Obesity, lack of sleep linked

Is it time to nap to suppress your appetite?

In the study, people who habitually slept for only five hours were found to have 15 percent more ghrelin than those who slept for eight hours. They were also found to have 15 percent less leptin, researchers said.

Politics: a trickle-down microcosm

While I can't claim any true cause and effect, this is a nice sermon to preach to the choir:

For the luxury market, it feels like Christmas, but to everybody else — the midlevel and lower-end customer — it is not going to be a great Christmas.
While the conservative economist might just call this growing pains towards the neoconomy, I call it the neoreality and the neofuture.

Guns: right to bear arms on the job?

A pizza dude gets fired because he carries a gun while delivering pizzas, and wound up shooting another dude TEN TIMES who tried to rob him, thus violating Pizza Hut's no-you-can't-carry-a-gun-while-delivering-pizzas rule. A jury decided he acted in self-defense? Maybe the first shot or two, self-defense. Shots 2-10 sound awfully much like manslaughter to me.

And so this USA Today article says that rules like this are under attack for violating the Second Amendment. WTF-ever! Since when did anyone have Free Speech at their job, never mind the right to carry a weapon into the homes of people who have not invited the weapon (just a pizza) into their homes?

Somebody needs to read Le' Entranger!

Medicine: what kid needs a benzo?

Because it looks like playing Game Boy before surgery does the things that Valium could only hope to do!

And if they're too young for that, just make sure their invisible friend gets to come in the OR.

Wildcats: Chia Pet 2004-05

Pat Forde on the Cats: "a little nourishment, a little nurturing, some direct sunlight -- then watch them grow. (The Wildcat Chia pet would make a great holiday gift, too. Operators standing by!)"

Sunday, December 12, 2004

gratuitous Derby shot Posted by Hello

looks much better in person, but ya know Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Media: Christmas under attack???

Bill O'Reilly says Jews should go back to Israel if they don't like being inundated with Christmas.

Pat Robertson says Kwanzaa is an absolute fraud engineered by hippies and with no roots in African heritage.

And Fox says Christmas is under attack? Do these people have brain tumors or something?

Literature: Michael Crichton, right-wing noodge?

Despite my proud status as as a quirky but horribly pretentious connoisseur of literature, my longest running guilty pleasure has always been Michael Crichton. His plot-driven page turners/heavily-researched essays let me turn my brain off but still maintain a non-fiction pulse, and that's always fun. But Bryan Curtis makes the case that Crichton's right-wingish politics are becoming increasingly loud, for when he decides to right a novel on global warming (inevitable, of course), he sucks the right wing teat a little too heartily:

State of Fear is a 600-page tirade about global warming. Crichton thinks environmentalists have become overheated about the threat and have substituted demagoguery for hard science. So he unleashes a cabal of ruthless greens, who build weather machines to punish their SUV-drivin', carbon-dioxide-emittin' neighbors with a plague of hurricanes and tsunamis.
Demagoguery for hard science? How about caution versus convenience?

After watching The Day After Tomorrow, the worst movie I've seen in years (besides the atrocious adaptation of one of Crichton's better novels, Timeline, and of course, everything by the bastardizer of Hitchcock cinematography Manoj Knight Shyamalan), I think I might skip out on State of Fear. If my curiosity will let me.

Update: an AP article, where Crichton claims he's still an environmentalist.

Politics: NannyGate Part 4: Bernard Kerik

WTF is wrong with these people? Three appointees for various posts had this problem under Clinton, and now one under Bush?

Of course, the Progress Report has listed everything else the guy has ever done wrong since the day he was born.

Media: cell phone consolidation

First Singular and AT&T Wireless, and now Sprint and Nextel? Revelationists, prepare for the one-world order!

Media: just in case you didn't know

R.E.M.'s 1992 Automatic for the People is the best album of all time.

And whereas I'm often wrong on every other subject, this is one time where I am right and you are wrong! MWAHAHAHAHA!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Media: Limbaugh's "Thug Basketball Association"

No one will ever question my disgust for Rush Limbaugh, but come on, kids. Even I think this is funny:

LIMBAUGH: You just gotta be who you are, and I think it's time to get rid of this whole National Basketball Association. Call it the TBA, the Thug Basketball Association, and stop calling them teams. Call 'em gangs. You have the Laker Gang, you have the Heat Gang, you have a Timberwolf Gang [distortions of official team names], and let 'em strap up out there, and let 'em market their CDs. Instead of selling concessions, sell CDs out there at the concession stand.

All the players get involved in this, and if a fight breaks out, hey, it's what happens! It's what happens with gangs, and if a cop gets bloodied, you know, that's a bonus for the gang member that pulls that off, and let the fans, you know, go in knowingly. They're going in to watch the Crips and the Bloods out there wherever the neighborhood is where the arena happens to be, and be who you are.

MedPol: Battlefield Medicine

Kevin Drum blogs about surgical advancements in the Iraq war:

The New England Journal of Medicine has an interesting article this week about battlefield medicine. It turns out that although the Iraq War so far has produced as many injuries as the Revolutionary War or the first five years of the Vietnam War, it's produced far fewer deaths. Only 10% of injured soldiers have died, which is down not just from wars 200 years ago, but also from the 24% death rate in the Gulf War just a decade ago.
Fun stuff ensues.

Update: the author of this study is apparently Atul Gawande, Harvard surgical resident, New Yorker writer, and author of the most awesome medical narrative: Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science.

Update 1.5: Here's the actual NEJM paper.

Update 2: and of course, don't question the ability of Rush to take good news and use it against Democrats:
LIMBAUGH: There is an enormous cost to saving lives. We may have to rethink this, ladies and gentlemen, because there is an enormous cost here to saving lives. We're "creating a generation of severely wounded young veterans, and a severe shortage of military surgeons" because they're all on the front lines saving lives. That's not good? What in the world are we talking about? Should we let them die?

The answer to this is they're just livid -- the press, the leftists in this country are just upset that there are not enough deaths to get people outraged and protesting in the streets against the war. They're mad that these doctors are saving lives. They want deaths! They've been counting deaths up to 1,000, they hoped that would get Bush out of office. They still want Bush out of office; make no mistake about it. They still want Bush discredited and it's all part of coming back in '06 and '08, and so there are too many lives being saved over there. These lives in old wars, they would have died.

These soldiers in old wars would have died, like Vietnam, and we would have had people protesting in the streets but now these surgeons are saving too many lives. There aren't enough deaths so people aren't gonna be mad! It makes total sense to me. In fact, it's sort of like the left complaining when you tell them crime is down.

Remember one of the things I warned you about the Democrats? Bad news for America is good news for them; good news for America, bad news for them. They've doubled their bets. It's gotten to the point now where the more deaths in Iraq the better for them, they think. The more lives saved in Iraq, the bigger the problem for them.
What a douche bag!

Politics: gays and lesbians to eat matzo, drink Guinness, and lick maple syrup off of each other (and an overdue rant on Andrew Sullivan)

If you can wade through all of Andrew Sullivan's bullshit pseudoscience as to why steroids are perfectly fine for athletes, you might be pleased to know that New Zealand, Israel, and Ireland, three countries of vastly differently prevailing ideologies, are doing pretty good on the issue of civil unions. And Canada's Supreme Court thinks that changing the definition of marriage to permit gays and lesbians to be human beings too is an okay thing to do. That's happy.

As a side note, check out Sullivan's site on the steroids issue, and you'll be treated to inanity like this (posted from a reader response, with his response following):

"At a most simplistic level much of the opposition to steroid use is based on the ingestion of artificial 'substances' that boost performance without there being a relationship to the amount of work or level of talent that an individual athlete has. This has the perceived effect of decoupling the characteristics of the individual from that individual’s performance. This line of arguing says that performance should be based on intrinsic rather than extrinsic factors. Well, how do you classify this one? Nike puts athletes in a house with reduced oxygen levels so that the body builds up its oxygen use/carrying capacity as a response. This allows them to 'live' in a house at a virtual high altitude and train at low altitude. In this case, the athlete’s performance is being boosted by a substance that is extrinsic to their individual characteristics (and in fact is 'ingested' in manner analogous to steroids) yet this approach is praised rather than pilloried. Is the ingestion of chemicals (yes CO2 is a chemical, albeit an abundant one) to boost performance desirable or not? You can't have it both ways so to be consistent the anti-steroid crowd should be calling for the expulsion of most of the US long distance running team."

(Sullivan:) I tend to agree. The distinctions between what is intrinsic to performance and what is extrinsic are somewhat arbitrary. Take even nutrition. If someone who had poor childhood nutrition competes against someone who had a healthy upbringing, isn't the contest unfair in the same way as a contest affected by unlilateral use of steroids? No, not exactly the same. But not completely different either.
No, Andy. Those are COMPLETELY different. What the hell are you guys talking about?

Sullivan poses one of the greatest conundrums for liberal bloggers, as I'm pretty much convinced or that he plays three voices on his blog.

The first is the gay rights and AIDS activist, clear thinking, progressive, and (mostly) honest. I put the (mostly) in there because of a certain controversy from years ago that led him to speak out against the 're-infection' theory of HIV that runs something like this: the HIV virus is one of the most mutable and evolving viruses mankind has ever seen, such that two people who have been infected from two sources likely have remarkably different viruses. So, if two people infected with HIV expose themselves to other forms of the virus, they stand at great risk to worsen their disease prognosis. This wikipedia article has a reasonable laymen's summary under its 'myths' section, if my explanation didn't cut it.

This controvery was sparked because Sullivan was somewhat skewered in the media (wrongly, I think) when sources revealed he had been soliciting unprotected sexual encounters with other knowingly HIV positive gay males (much more controversy stemmed from the accuracy of that last clause, but see most of that controversy as malicious and unsubstantiated). His public dismissals of superinfection that have followed are, like his steroid comments above, based in wreckless pseudoscience. Which isn't to say that if two unique strain HIV positive individuals wish to engage in unprotected sex, I believe they absolutely shouldn't. That is certainly their own decision, even if its one I can't endorse, given the relatively minor nuisance of a condom compared to the risk of a worse disease prognosis. But I do believe such individuals should have the honest benefit of the best science we have available and should understand, in as objective a sense as possible, what the risks of their behavior might be when they make their decisions.

Sullivan's other personalities seem to range from objective conservative commentator (which, sadly, is probably the least utilized of his personalities) to out-and-out right-wing noise machine manipulator. I don't find most of his commentary outside the realm of gay rights to be much more sophisticated than my own or even of the average non-Hannityesque conservative blogger (of which I only frequent a few, but I believe they're representative of what a liberal blogger could call the Rational Right--can I copyright that phrase?--you know, the guys that, you don't always agree with them, but you at least can appreciate their ability to form a logical, obviously intelligent position). Some of his recent endorsements of flat tax reform have been shallow at best, and his foreign policy observations seem to vary from magically astute to absurdly Foxnewsworthy.

For Sullivan's randomness, he was by and large shunned by the liberal blogging community when he endorsed John Kerry for president based on his slightly more favorable positions on gay rights. I personally found this shunning stupid. A disaffected gay guy wants to join our team for a bit, and we tell him to take his ball and go home? Absurd! Sullivan has sowed his own seed, but despite his faults, he still shows flashes of one of the most brilliant conservative minds of our generation.

And I could stomach certain aspects of conservatism much easier if it weren't so linked to the sort of bigotry and anti-intellectualism against which Sullivan himself speaks out and of which he has been too much a victim himself.

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Musculoskeletal Exam

Another exercise in intellectual futility.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Puppy needs home (and political training!)

From Shar Pei Savers:

Hey everyone, it's me, Walker (named after George Walker Bush), and I'm the prettiest, bestest and most playful dog ever.
Someone adopt this poor puppy and rename him before it's too late!

Nuts: no rest for the weary tourist

If you're travelling abroad, and your "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Kerry" bumper sticker is at home on your car, you can always Go Canadian.

Or you could grow a spine, eh?

MedPol: Schwarzenegger makes ass of himself at nurse's conference

At least we know that Arnold always says what he means and means what he says.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, speaking Tuesday to open an annual conference celebrating women's contributions to the state, dismissed California nurses who protested his health care policies as "special interests'' who are mad because "I kick their butt."

The offhand remark by the governor, in front of 10,000 people at the California Governor's Conference on Women and Children, drew a blistering reaction from the California Nurses Association, whose leaders said they will sue this week to stop Schwarzenegger's executive order weakening mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in the state's hospitals.

Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the 60,000-member nurses group, said Schwarzenegger's characterization of the group as "special interests'' was "completely insulting'' and particularly inappropriate at a conference specifically aimed at honoring women.

"He's here to talk about empowering women, when in fact he's ... gutting the (nursing) profession,'' which is dominated by women, DeMoro said. "He's horrendous when it comes to issues of health care and women.''


Physics: Happy Birthday!

String Theory turns 20 years old!

Medicine: maker ignored pleas for depression labelling on Accutane

Part of the reason I wanted to go to med school was so someday I could walk up to my dermatologist and tell him he was a bad, evil person who should have his medical degree ripped off the wall and shoved in his mouth until he choked to death.

Which is probably understandable, after five months of Accutane and five months of crying myself to sleep until at least 3:00 AM and after losing forty pounds over the course of five months as a result of zero exercise (read: damn, THAT sounds unhealthy) and after enduring his bullshit about how I was just a teenager and I'd "get over it."

Well, things got better after the Accutane. But I've never been the same since. Which is why I have to agree when FDA researcher David Graham says that Accutane is one of five drugs on the market today that needs some serious investigation. Now, I knew tons of kids on Accutane who never shed a tear. Some dry skin maybe, at worst.

As for me, I think any doctor who would prescribe this stuff and not issue a psych referral (or at least SOME sort of regular depression screening) as well is a quack, or at least an asshole. Which would be just about every dermatologist in the country. Surprise!

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Politics: the future is coming!

As expected, Democrat Golden Boy Eliot Spitzer has announced that he will run for governor of New York.

Medicine: secrets to Alzheimer's in last Murdoch novel?

A research group at University College London is studying changes in the final writings of late British novelist Iris Murdoch, who was thought to have been experieincing early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease when she completed her last, and most critically maligned, book.

Neurolinguistics is one badass field.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Ukraine: a 1st hand look

Nick Stokes, a native of southwestern Kentucky and a graduate of Vanderbilt University with some degree in being an amazing language guru, is currently serving with the Peace Corps in Ukraine. He sent these emails out to me and the rest of his friends who enjoy hearing about his various Ukrainian exploits. Nick requests that, as a disclaimer, I add that his views are his own and do not represent those of Peace Corps Ukraine or the US government.

Nov 25th:

so, as i know many of you by now know from some of the emails that i've received, the recent second round ukrainian presidential election is now a major focal point in world politics. for those for are still unaware, i'll break it down quickly: first round of elections were oct 31, and that was between 24 candidates. after neither of the top 2 candidates cleared the required 50% of the vote, a second round was set for nov 21 between those remaining--viktor yushchenko and viktor yanukovych. aside from sharing the name "viktor" and wanting to be president, the two men basically have nothing in common. yushchenko seeks to put an end to corruption and form ties with the west, eventually hoping to join NATO and the EU; yanukovych is wishes to make russian the second official language of ukraine (since independence after the fall of communism it's been ukrainian) and form closer ties with russia and belarus, eventually paving the way for dual ukrainian/russian citizenship. polar opposites. in the second round yanukovych was yesterday declared the winner by a count of 49%-46%. the citizens of ukraine, however, claim that there is massive voting fraud (you can find more news on the specifics anywhere on the web) and have chosen to basically shut the country down in protest. in kyiv, the capital, nearly one million protesters are peacefully demonstrating at maidan nezalezhnosti (which you might find in the news at 'independence square') now for the fourth consecutive day, camped out and sleeping in the snow and below-freezing temperature. one by one, oblast (or state) capitals are joining in. right now i'm in ternopil, in the heart of deeply nationalist western ukraine, which you will also probably read about. the streets in surrounding areas like lviv and ivano-frankivsk are also filled with yushchenko supporters.
the supporters are easy to spot (aside from the fact that it seems to be every single person you see); they're all adorned in orange. right now around me in the internet cafe are people, ranging from middle-schoolers to adults, wearing orange scarves, headbands, armbands, etc. people are congregating in the street wrapped in ukrainian flags. everything is entirely peaceful though. there has been a call for non-violence by all sides involved. universities are all shut down, some transport has shut down, even the schools in my town have shut down until at least monday. so i'm off of school on this white, white thanksgiving day (by the way, happy thanksgiving everyone).
all of this is amazing to witness--the outpour of patriotism and concern over the future of the country. before my school declared the strike my 13 year old students explained what this meant to them, some of them fighting back tears as they proved to me just how politically involved even middle-schoolers can be. at the meeting to decide that my school was backing yushchenko by letting out classes so that everyone could be part of the demonstrations and so forth, my best friend's dad (the local history teacher) gave a stirring speach that brought adults to tears. the hardest part of this all, however, comes from the fact that as a volunteer/representative of the united states government, i'm basically forbidden from discussing my views on the occurrences around me. it's like being trapped in a little bubble. of course, it's made even harder by the fact that every single person that i know (and anyone who finds out that i'm american) never fails to ask who i'm supporting. the best (and vaguest) answer that i can give is that i love and care about ukraine and want the result that best suits the country and its people. that seems to be working so far.
as for the world community, colin powel and the US government have denounced the results. jose barroso, heading the EU, has denounced the results. pretty much everyone around the world has denounced the results, save for russia and belarus. putin, russia's president has been the only world leader to call and congratulate mr yanukovych, whom he adamantly supports. i could go into russian and belorussian "politics" and discuss putin and lukashenko, but that's another story.
one of you asked "what's the local sentiment?" basically, it's one of support for a new, democratic ukraine, and outrage at the election results. everyone seems to be cool with me at the moment, and peace corps HQ in kyiv is calling every volunteer daily to update us on the situation (oh yeah, yanukovych supporters control all the television media, so we don't really get any news on what's happening unless someone calls from abroad or we can get on the internet and go to cnn or bbc); if anything bad were to happen or there were any threat to us being here we would be evacuated. if i'm not mistaken, peace corps was not evacuated from georgia last year after "the rose rebellion" in which protesters peacefully overthrew the corrupt government of shevardnadzhe, so we're basically just waiting to see what happens. at present there are no talks of evacuation, just a hightened sense of one's surroundings.
alright, that's about it from here. i hope everyone has a good holiday and that we see some kind of results in the very near future. speaking of the near future, in a month from now i'll be stateside and am still planning on being in nashville for new years with raejean and hanging out with whoever's there, so email me and let me know what's going on. keep watching the news and i'll try to send any updates from the inside when i get the chance. i don't know how much longer this will go on, but next friday i'll be in kyiv, which could be extremely interesting if things haven't changed. talk to you later,

December 3rd:

30 minutes ago, after a week of elaborate and intense investigation of over 11,000 claims, the ukrainian supreme court ruled that the results of the nov 21 presidential election were marred by "massive fraud" and were thereby invalid (the ukrainian parliment came to a similar decision last week, although the final decision rested with the court). for instance, after the polls closed more than 2 million votes (over 10% of the voting population) were cast for yanukovych, who came ahead in the final polls by a few hundred thousand votes. as a result, a new election is slated to take place in the next 30 weeks, once again between yanukovych (prime-minister) and yushchenko (opposition), which the entire political world will be closely scrutinizing. the city of kyiv is blanketed in orange tonight (the color of yushchenko's party), and as i type this there are literally hundreds of thousands of ukrainians--from all reaches of the country--assembling around the corner to celebrate the court's decision. it should be another interesting month. i leave you with a small ukrainian lesson, taken from the most popular slogan and chant of the times: nas bahato, i nas ne podolaty--we are many, and will not be overcome.

MedPol: Frist being sane on abstinence programs

Proving that fortunately Bill Frist hasn't been totally lobotomized of all scientific sense, even he thinks the federal abstinence programs need to be reviewed, and seems to personally advocate a much more sensible stance: ABC (abstinence, being faithful, condom use).

A rare thumbs up to the transplant surgeon!

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Medicine: green tea for prostate cancer prevention?

A Cancer Research paper out of Madison shows that it works for mice. I wonder if Mickey prefers Honey Ginseng or Starbuck's Zen.

Politics: the Pharisees line up to cast their stones at gay partners

A pretty fun article from some Florida dude I've never heard of:

My only question is:

Why just this morality?

Why just this sin?

Why is this now the moral crisis that deserves to be singled out in our Constitution, the civil law of Caesar, so we can create a lesser class of citizens who don't have the same rights of civil contract?

Could it be because this is an alleged "sin" that only Those Kind of People commit, instead of equally serious sins that Decent People (even Baptists) commit every day?

If we are going to start ranking the "sins," marriage between two gay people who love each other and seek a lifelong commitment doesn't even make the Bible's best-known top-10 list.

Sure, homosexuality is called an "abomination." The Bible says so, not too far from where the Bible also says it's okay to stone your headstrong son to death, and that you'd better stay away from menstruating women.

And yes, the topic of homosexuality really freaked out St. Paul, no question. But so did a lot of stuff.

On the other hand, you know what IS right smack in the Ten Commandments?


Adultery! Now, that's a threat to the institution of marriage. You bet.

Half of heterosexual marriages in our society end in divorce. We heterosexuals are doing a lousy job of "defending" marriage. Adultery is a big part of the reason.

So if we're going to rewrite our Constitution to "protect" marriage from sin because it is the "God-ordained bedrock of society," then I would think that adultery would be a much better target.

Thanks to James for the link.

Medicine: are some people immune to exercise?

Just a little more evidence that, for some people, obesity is much more than a disease of laziness and carelessness.

Medicine: red meat consumption linked with rheumatoid arthritis

Which makes sense. Expose the body to lots of tissue that might by chance look like self-tissue, and your immune system is bound to get confused eventually... well, at a rate of 1 in 100,000 or so, but still!

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Politics: Bush Arrested for War Crimes in Canada!

Not really, but every blogger's best friend, the computer-algorithm-generated Google News, didn't seem to get the joke.

MedPol: abstinence program lies

This article from the Guardian mentions several of the distortions presented in some of the abstinence education programs preferred by President Bush:

-HIV can be contracted through sweat and tears
-touching genitals can result in pregnancy
-a 43-day-old foetus is a thinking person
-abortion can lead to sterility and suicide
-half the gay male teenagers in the US have tested positive for HIV
-condoms fail to prevent transmission of HIV in 31% of incidences of heterosexual intercourse
-and a personal favorite: "The popular claim that condoms help prevent the spread of STDs, is not supported by the data."
And Alma Golden, the deputy assistant health and human services secretary for population affairs (does this title smack of something creepy to anyone else), misses the point once again:
"One thing is very clear for our children: abstaining from sex is the most effective means of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, STDs, and preventing pregnancy."
Well, no shit. The question isn't whether abstinence is the most effective means of preventing sexual transmission of STDs and preventing pregnancy (which is self-evident), but whether abstinence education is the most effective approach by the government to discourage sexual transmission of STDs and pregnancy. And these are two entirely different issues, which members of the Bush camp REALLY like to deny whenever they get a chance. And since study after study denies the efficacy of abstinence education programs, abstinence education supporters can't even address the argument head on and must instead rely upon ideology rather than logic.

Politics: you gotta be kidding me

Donald Rumsfield staying on for the second term cabinet? WTF?

Friday, December 3, 2004

Politics: the absurdity of the homosexual choice argument

If this exchange between Hardball's Chris Matthews and Evangelical Prick Jerry Falwell doesn't demonstrate the absurdity of 'choosing' to be hetero or homosexual, I'm not sure what does. Don't bother reading without your tongue place firmly in cheek:

Matthews: Did you choose to be heterosexual?

Falwell: I did.

Matthews: You thought about it and you came up with that solution, that lifestyle?

Falwell: Well, put it this way, I was taught as a child that that's the right way to be.

Matthews: But did you feel an attraction toward women?

Falwell: Oh, of course.

Matthews: But when people are born and they find themselves having an attraction to somebody from the same sex, do you think that's a choice?

Falwell: I think you can experiment with any perversity and develop an appetite for it, just like you can food. […] I don't think anybody is born a bank robber […]

Matthews: How old were you when you chose to be heterosexual?

Falwell: Oh, I don't remember that.

Matthews: Well you must, because you say it's a big decision.

Falwell: Well, I ... I started dating when I was about 13.

Matthews: And you had to decide between boys and girls. And you chose girls.

Falwell: Well, I never had to decide, I never thought … (laughter)

Politics: Soldier called up on IRR has no one to take care of child

What can I say, I'm a sucker for the stories that demonstrate how the war on Iraq affects and disrupts the lives of those who have served in our armed forces.

Nia Salakielu , a 28-year-old former Army sergeant and single mother, left active military duty in April 2003 because she needed to care for her infant son, Noa. Now, the administrative specialist is being recalled for Operation Iraqi Freedom and must report to Fort Jackson, S.C., on Jan. 2 — possibly with Noa.

If she doesn't show up, she will be considered absent without leave and could be court-martialed.
Regardless of whether the Iraq war is the "right" or "wrong" war, I think it serves all of us well to remember how disrupting wars are, and also to see how many different ways that wars can be disruptive.

This article is also blogged at BlueGrassRoots.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Medicine: marijuana linked to psychosis?

Sounds like something right out of Reefer Madness.

He and his colleagues studied 2,437 young people aged 14-24 and identified those with a predisposition for psychosis. They also questioned them about their cannabis use and followed them up for four years.
For those of you not in the medical field and not used to examining experimental design, this is called a prospective study, not a randomized control trial, which is the essential tool for producing medical knowledge. A prospective study is not an experiment at all, is inherently riddled with confounding factors, and while often information can be gleaned from these studies, they're more like decent leads than they are evidence of anything unto themselves.
“The results show that in the group without vulnerability to psychosis, there was a small effect of cannabis on the onset of psychotic symptoms four years later,” Van Os said.

“But this risk was four times bigger in individuals who had a personal vulnerability to psychosis.”

Van Os said the study also showed the odds of experiencing symptoms of psychosis were higher for people who smoked cannabis more frequently.

So, people who are predisposed to psychosis who smoke more marijuana experience more psychosis? Maybe their marijuana useage is linked to their predisposition for psychosis (as if psychosis were one disorder, and not a zillion different ones of different etiologies) instead? Point being, studies like this should only preach to the choir. They're interesting, and somewhat suggestive. But they can easily be a load of shit just as well.

And this from someone's who has never smoked a joint in his life!

Medicine: tearing down the "House," Fox's new medical series

Writing for Slate, Sherwin Nuland, a Yale surgeon and one of my favorite physician/writers, rails against Fox's new doctor series for its impossibility, unlikeliness, and overall despicableness. A great read.

Bedroom: Legislating your Sex Life

Here's a fun MSNBC article about archaic sex laws that are still on the books and luckily mostly not enforced. There's a poll along with the article: 93% at the moment think the government should stay out of the bedroom, and should stick to screwing us in other ways.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Politics: Bayh in 2008?

While I'm very skeptical of the DLC and its "let's let gays, women, and minorities fend for themselves and move to the center" rhetoric, there might be something really special about the Evan Bayh movement.

Media: NBC, CBS find reality offensive

The United Church of Christ is airing ads welcoming minorities such as homosexuals into their doors in a time when many other denominations aren't being so welcoming, but that's too controversial for two of the major networks, who would rather just use gay people as sitcom characters rather than deal with any real life gay issues. Inclusion must be a hate crime nowadays.

The 30-second commercial features two muscle-bound “bouncers” standing guard outside a picturesque church and selecting which persons are permitted to attend Sunday services, and turning away apparent gays and persons of color.

Written text interrupts the scene, announcing, “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.” A narrator then states, “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”
Here's the ad on the UCC site.

Jeopardy: parting is such sweet sorrow

Nice to know that a guy can make more money on Jeopardy in 75 22-minute slots than my family has made in its entire lifetime. Have fun in Europe, Ken!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

MedPol: Vatican calls AIDS "pathology of the spirit," a result of "immunodeficiency" of moral values

In other news, the pope just made me vomit.

The Vatican on Tuesday blamed the spread of AIDS on an "immunodeficiency" of moral values among other factors and called for education, abstinence and greater access to drugs to fight the disease.

On the eve of World AIDS Day, the head of the Vatican's pontifical health council quoted Pope John Paul as calling AIDS a "pathology of the spirit" that must be combated with "correct sexual practice" and "education of sacred values".

"I highlight his thoughts regarding the immunodeficiency of moral and spiritual values," Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan added in a speech prepared for World AIDS Day on Wednesday.
I'm not sure I can blog much about this without getting so angry that I break my computer. If the Vatican wants to be irrelevant to reality, that's fine. But malevolence like this makes me want to smoke crack.

Media: the new inclusive Republican party

The Republicans better hope that it's not asshats like this that elected them to office. Thanks, Jerry Falwell!

Well the fact that he's a gay Republican means he should join the Democratic party.

Medicine: patient sues healthcare system over ad displaying her patient information

In the medical equivalent of the dumbass of the week award, some healthcare system decided, in an ad, to show a doctor holding a medical chart. The only problem is that it was a real medical chart, and you could read the woman's name and SSN clearly, including the fact that she just had a mammogram. In a commercial! To quote Hipaablog: Stupidity like this can only be rewarded by fat lawsuit the patient has filed against the hospital system.

Monday, November 29, 2004

MedPol: Victory for Brand StemCell

Stem cells might have their poster girl: a 37-year old South Korean woman who hasn't walked for twenty years, but can now, as multipotent stem cells derived from cord blood were used to repair her spinal cord.

It's a start. The article is a little less than absolutely objective about the implications and potentials of multipotent vs. pleuripotent stem cells, and its assertion that embryonic cells cause tumors is, to my knowledge, based on one isolated study (performed by a former Michigan MD/PHD at Cornell) where two kids that were cured of their certain-death disease later developed a rare leukemia due to a procedure-related genetic insertion (8 others similarly cured have not developed the rare leukemia).

Friday, November 26, 2004

MedPol: Cigarettes cost society 40 dollars a pack

Smokers pay about $33 of the cost, their families absorb $5.44 and others pay $1.44, according to health economists from Duke University and a professor from the University of South Florida.

Amazing that this is coming out of Duke, since their entire University is founded on dirty tobacco money. Or maybe not. Hydroelectric power?

MedPol: Abstinence Education Ideological AssHattery

"We don't need a study, if I remember my biology correctly, to show us that those people who are sexually abstinent have a zero chance of becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease," said Wade Horn, the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in charge of federal abstinence funding.
And the right wonders why the rest of us say that conservatives are anti-science? Since any sort of study addresses whether "people who are sexually abstinent have a zero chance of becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease." Thanks, ass clown. Since THAT's what's up for debate!

I've ranted on abstinence education before for its amazing ineffectiveness. I live in the world of Evidence-Based Medicine. In EBM, we like to know that things we do lead to results. And almost every study that's ever been done by an impartial epidemiologist says that abstinence education is a waste of money and ideologically-centered and can actually lead to increased rates of STD-transmission because of a decrease in unprotected sex. Since 10 million years of evolution hasn't led us to be, at the basest level, really horny creatures.

Ideology wastes money. And last time I checked, we're a little short on that. We don't need balance. We need objectivity.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving from Sparkgrass

Blogging will resume early next week.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Derby's first snow! Posted by Hello

Neuro Exam

Wednesday morning, 7:30 AM. 120 Questions, four hours, plus one hour path final.

Blogging might be sparse for the next week, with that, plus back to Kentucky for Thanksgiving until Sunday.

Update: medical school is a bleak, punishing existence.

Update 2: @ 4:17 AM before the exam, I have officially lost my mind and am seeing various mammals dance around the room with umbrellas. one of them is trying to take my 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Go away, various mammal! Get thee to a nunnery!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Media: Angry Conservative Field Day

Besides Rush calling Detroit the "New Fallujah,":

Tucker Carlson: "grouchy feminists with mustaches" control the Democratic Party

Falwell called NOW "the National Order of Witches"

Media: New Fallujah, Michigan

That's what Douche Limbaugh has renamed Detroit in response to the Pacers-Pistons brawl.

LIMBAUGH: There is something about this hip-hop culture business. I'm not going to mention the name because there's thousands of them, but I've been watching interviews with ex-NBA players and current NBA players. You know what the common theme that I'm hearing is? "Well, I'm not going to be dissed. I'm simply not going to be disrespected. Somebody disrespects me, they're going to pay for it." Meaning, "A fan disrespects me, that fan's going to pay for it," not just another player.

And that comes right out of the hip-hop culture, and it's not just that. You look at NBA players and the uniforms, you don't have to go back very far. The uniforms have changed totally. They're now in gang colors. They are in gang styles.

But there's a reason this is happening. I'm not saying it's nothing to be concerned about. There's a reason. But I don't think anybody ought to be surprised, folks. I really don't think anybody ought to be surprised. This is the hip-hop culture on parade. This is gang behavior on parade minus the guns. That's the culture that the NBA has become. So if anybody will be honest with you about it in the NBA, and a very few will have the courage to, because saying what I just said is going to be tagged as racist, but I, my friends, am fearless when it comes to this because the truth will out, and that's what's happening here, and part and parcel of this gang culture, this hip-hop culture, is: "I'm not going to tolerate being dissed. I'm not going to be disrespected," and "disrespected" is now so broad that it includes somebody looking at you the wrong way.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Scary: America doesn't believe in evolution

Some scary results from a CBS News survey.

Trying not to say something mean.

Trying not to say something mean.

Trying not to say something mean.

Politics: 1984 + 20 years: Big W is watching you

War is Peace Posted by Hello

Check out these billboards in Florida. Might be a hoax, but might not.

Media: Michael Moore named Hollywood's coldest celebrity

Moore is followed by Halle Berry, Michael Eisner, and M. Knight Shyamalan.

 Posted by Hello

Media: Washington Posts allows anti-gay insert filled with factual errors

Here's the PDF of the insert.

The Washington Post insert, which sought to dissuade readers of the links between the gay rights and civil rights movement, claimed homosexuality was proven to a choice, rather than genetic. It relied on a study by Paul Cameron, an anti-gay doctor who was thrown out the American Psychological Association in 1983 for misrepresenting the findings of studies, and has since been disowned by most of the evangelical right.

Like any newspaper, the Post has the right to reject advertisements. It has less latitude in rejecting advertisements on issues of race under the District’s civil rights ordinance, but this does not protect gays.

Using the same study, it also claims that gays with long-term partners and without AIDS live on average to be 41, and says that banning gay marriage would avert “an emerging public health crisis.”

The insert claims Dr. Martin Luther King as someone who would have opposed gay rights, even though his widow has said she believes the gay and lesbian rights movements are part of a broader civil rights movement.

Among other claims, Cameron purported that out of all the mass-murders in the US over the past seventeen years, homosexuals killed at least 68 percent of the victims, 29 percent of homosexuals urinate on their partners and 17 percent ingest human feces.

The average life span of a homosexual, Cameron wrote, is 39 years; fewer than 2 percent survive to the age of 65.

“If these statistics are even close to reliable,” writes Derek Grier, the pastor whose church paid for the insert, “this is not only a moral issue, but an emerging public health crisis.”

And my personal favorite part:
Grier also asserts that homosexuality is a choice.

“If homosexuality is a genetic trait and homosexuals were true to their orientation,” Grier adds, “the trait would die in the first generation.”

I love when people say this, because they demonstrate their absolute lack of knowledge of genetics. Since there aren't genetic diseases that are fatal and all, and those don't go away. Beyond the simple existence of recessive genes, trying to explain to an idiot like this anything about non-Mendelian inheritance makes their Punnett-square-filled brains explode.

Books: National Book Award "tanking"

Finalists for the National Book award = 5 obscure women authors from New York. This in a year when Tom Wolfe, John Updike, Philip Roth, etc. ALL have new books out (and in Roth's case, the book release has been a major event). Apparently four of the five books had sold less than 2,000 copies at the time they were named as finalists. Way to make yet another literary award into a joke.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Politics: Arrests at the SOA protest

It wouldn't be November if protesters weren't at the US-run murder/rape training camp in Georgia, formerly known as the School of the Americas. Seventeen arrested this time, some on some pretty lame charges.

Friday, November 19, 2004

MedPol: poor lil FDA

The whole country is hating on the FDA right now over Vioxx and claims that the organization is powerless to stop other such "scandals." Well no shit they can't stop this stuff. Their budget is smaller than the University of Michigan's, and with that, they're supposed to police every drug, herb, and monkey shit sold in the United States. They can't even think about fighting against Big Tobacco, because BT could hire enough lawyers to crap twice on the front porch of every FDA official. So how about we FUND THE FDA?

Media: Going Too Far

Colin Powell = Uncle Tom

Condi Rice = Aunt Jemima

The radio host who said this = bigoted ass monkey

MedPol: Fletcher's medical license at risk

Here's a new article about KY Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a former family doc, may have violated AMA guidelines by signing a death warrant for a lethal injection. Primum Non Nocere or Sic Semper Tyrannus?

MedPol: it's about time, Senator Kerry

I'm liking the 'new' Democratic party already. The "liberal Senator from Massachussetts," free of a presidential campaign, can now live up to the moniker.

This is why on the first day Congress is in session next year, I will introduce a bill to provide every child in America with health insurance. And, with your help, that legislation will be accompanied by the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

America values its kids. America values its kids almost irrationally. And it should. This is a great way for Dems to say to the GOP, "you better value kids too." It's beautiful. It's value blackmail.

I mean, if the GOP is raising our budget ceiling by 800 billion, our kids might as well be getting health care for it.

Opponents will say this is just a foot in the door towards a national health care system. Sucks to be them, since that doesn't make as good a soundbite as "health care for children."

I support a national health care system by the year 2247. That gives us 242 years to make the transition. I'm pretty sure we candle that.

Film: Evil Dead Resurrected

Variety is reporting that Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert are teaming up to remake the original "Evil Dead" movie (full story at I'm not quite sure how to feel about this. For one thing, it's tampering with an undisputed classic of the horror genre. It also has enough of a cult following to be successful at the box office, more than likely spawning some fresh sequels. While I'm absolutely ecstatic about seeing some new Evil Dead after all these years, it would ruin the whole series for me if it jumped the shark. I'd rather die than watch "Ash in Space" or "Seed of Ash."

For those of you who haven't seen the original trilogy (Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness), go rent it this instant or hang your head in shame forever. Perhaps the greatest horror series of all time, it's also pretty damn funny. As a bonus, it's got the best character development I've ever seen in Bruce Campbell's Ash.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Politics: Gay Family Values

A UVA psych professor has made a startling discovery! Teens with same-sex parents are well-adujsted!

On measures of psychosocial well-being, school functioning, and romantic relationships and behaviors, the teens with same-sex parents were as well adjusted as their peers with opposite-sex parents. The authors found very few differences between the two groups. A more important predictor of teens' psychological and social adjustment, they found, is the quality of the relationships they have with their parents.

Hoax: I-69 story too good to be true

This popular post unfortunately panned out to be false, a result of the satirical Hoosier Gazette.

Why did you do this story?

I get my story ideas from a variety of sources, but many of my best ones come from conversations I have with friends--this was one of those. We were talking politics about a week and a half ago one night and came up with the idea. I have nothing against Mr. Hostettler. I actually voted for him three times when I used to live in the 8th district. Just thought it would be a funny news story that some might believe was real.

Why do you think your stories end up getting put out as valid news stories?

Most of my stories that are picked up as real get their start on, a clearinghouse for strange or funny news stories, most of which are real. Now and then one of my stories will be posted on Fark---a place where many legit radio, newspaper, and TV media outlets go for interesting news.

Politics: play by your own rules

How convenient!

The Senate Republicans changing Senate rules to protect Tom Delay.


Frist wants to change the filibuster rules.

Next up: pesky Dems won't be allowed to enter Senate chamber.

Dr. Strangelove: Russia developing new nukes

The Cold War was so much more interesting than the War on Terror.

And of course, they're modifying their Topol-M because... you guessed it! Missile-defense!

There are reasons why Tracey McGrady makes more money than Ron Artest.

I am sure that in the coming years we will acquire them [new generation of nuclear weapons]. Moreover, these will be things which do not exist and are unlikely to exist in other nuclear powers.
Since Russia is just so good at protecting its nuclear arsenal and all. More Soviet nukes won't make it easier for Rogue states to acquire nukes themselves. NosirreeBob.

MedMedia: O'Reilly the tort reform genius

MMFA shows us everybody's favorite discerning 'independent,' Bill O'Lielly, demonstrating his brilliant knowledge of how to lower malpractice premiums.

From the November 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Don't you think tort reform would take care of that? ... If you lowered the medical malpractice, all -- everything would come on down.

From the November 4 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: But the only way that works is if you get the medical malpractice lawyers under control. ... That's No. 1. You can't get health care costs under control unless you stop the chaos in the court system. You can't!

Yes, Bill. It's all that simple. Even though MMFA goes on to properly debunk this myth.

I'm not absolutely against tort reform on principle, and while I'm sure that defensive medicine is a ridiculous cost to our health care system, I'm not so sure that it makes up the large percentage of expenditures some would like us to believe.

But of course, WindBag opens his mouth, and out comes this garbage, and those who choose not to exercise their God-given ability to research on the internet believe him. Since an entirely screwed up health insurance industry has nothing to do with the problems of the American health care system and all. Oh no. It has to be the lawyers' faults. Bad lawyer. Bad! Bad!