Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Media: Fox accidentally admits it's the conservative bullshit network

Scott Norvell, London Bureau chief for Fox News, in a recent editorial railing against the BBC:

Even we at Fox News manage to get some lefties on the air occasionally, and often let them finish their sentences before we club them to death and feed the scraps to Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly. And those who hate us can take solace in the fact that they aren't subsidizing Bill's bombast; we payers of the BBC license fee don't enjoy that peace of mind.

Fox News is, after all, a private channel and our presenters are quite open about where they stand on particular stories. That's our appeal. People watch us because they know what they are getting. The Beeb's institutionalized leftism would be easier to tolerate if the corporation was a little more honest about it.

So it's okay to be biased, as long as that bias is privately owned. And, oh yeah, Fox is "quite open about where they stand on particular stories." That's why they claim to be fair and balanced every 30 seconds. Right. Asshats.

Politics: Nader at his best

Calling for some good old fashioned impeachmenting:

President Clinton was impeached for perjury about his sexual relationships. Comparing Clinton's misbehavior to a destructive and costly war occupation launched in March 2003 under false pretenses in violation of domestic and international law certainly merits introduction of an impeachment resolution.

Politics: Deep Throat Cums Out

Stock in Bob Woodward said to be plunging.

Monday, May 30, 2005

I am worth $2,332,470 on HumanForSale.com

LGBT: Gay Athletes?

A very well written article about a Dartmouth lacrosse goalie who came out to his team and won them over. I'm glad to see all the stereotypes aren't true!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Friday, May 27, 2005

MedPol: Romney vetoes stem cell bill, veto to be overturned

Not to be outdone by Bill Frist, Mitt Romney is doing his own '08 electioneering for the Righteous Right by symbolically vetoing a stem cell bill that has sufficient support to push its way on through. As I've said before, don't run for governor in the state with one of the most important biomedical research centers in the world if you're an anti-progress douchebag. Romney's actions have no ramifications for him, as the bill will not be impeded, but this sure does look good to the labjizz-is-life crowd.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

MedPol: choice-free Michigan

Ho hum.

The Michigan House voted Tuesday to require medical clinics to offer women considering an abortion the chance see an ultrasound of the fetus.
Next week, the House will vote on a bill that requires toilets to offer people considering flushing the chance to see a CT scan of their shit.

Politics: Those Wacky Conservatives

Help Miss Beazly keep liberals off the White House lawn!

Medicine: Suicide hotline only open from 9 to 5

The Prince Edward Island province-run suicide hotline, that is. The hotline was previously open 24 hours, but budget cuts budget cuts budget cuts.

The director of the Canadian Mental Health Association seems to hit the nail on the head:

“(Given) the economic cost of a suicide, if governments pay attention to dollars and numbers, not what happens to people, it just doesn’t make sense.”
The hotline currently costs around 24k/yr (US dollars). Considering medical care for failed attempts, plus lost productivity from a suicide victim, and 24k/yr seems like a bargain for the government even if the hotline only prevented one suicide every ten or twenty years.

But it's mental health. Who cares, right?

Politics: 238-194 in favor of embryonic stem cell research

Ok, I admit I've been out of the blogosphere for a while--it just doesn't fulfill my online gambling addiction that well. But yesterday I had a chance to watch some of the floor debate regarding the stem cell bill. The hour or so I caught was a good 50/50 split. That is, 50% of the speakers were sane and the other half were hellbent on morphing CSPAN into Pat Robertson's "700 Club." DeLay had one of the best spots, with some carefully planned out language (killing, destruction, etc.) and some equally bad background picture panels of the five stem cell babies he is trying to protect in lieu of research. They blinded him with science.

Majority Leader Tom DeLay said before the vote it would be wrong for the government to finance "medical research predicated on the destruction of human embryos."

"An embryo is a person," the Texas Republican said.

"This bill tramples on the moral convictions of an awful lot of people who don't want their tax dollars to be spent for killing innocent human life," DeLay said.

Priceless. I couldn't have fucked up modern reason any better myself.

A veto has been promised since the vote failed to reach the needed mark of 290. Afterwards, Republicans patted themselves on the back for this obvious "victory." In related news, public key crytopgraphy, microwave ovens, and the wheel are all on the chopping block.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Humor: WTF, mate?

I make reference to this clip all the time, and nobody ever has a clue what I'm talking about. Hilarious.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Wildcats: Race and Hoops in the Bluegrass

Southerners don't like when others say that the South is racist, partially because Southerners don't believe they are racist. Or more accurately, they know that racism is 'bad,' and they're sure they aren't 'bad' people, so therefore, they musn't be racists, right?

So the definition of what a racist is in the South varies significantly from what it might be to coastal and midwestern academic types. Ideas like 'blacks are lazy at work b/c they know they won't get fired' aren't considered racist in the South. Those ideas, occasionally 'proven' by a lazy individual who happens to be black every once in a while, are considered simply empirical evidence.

ESPN has a variety of articles right now about Wildcats and Hornets star Rex Chapman. It seems Chapman was discouraged from interracial dating by boosters, and saw more than a handful of despicable attitudes and behaviors that would leave William Faulkner taking notes for his next novel.

Chapman was particularly bothered by his belief that sports writers in Kentucky didn't hype high school stars such as Derek Anderson and Allan Houston the way he was hyped as a prep. Chapman was known as the greatest high school player the state of Kentucky ever produced.

"I ended up going to [the University of] Kentucky, and on the one hand, I was the Great White Hope and had 24,000 people cheering for me every day and every night," Chapman said. "Off the court, then I'd hear the whispers that I was a n----- lover. It was just asinine and ugly. That was part of the reason I left school early."

Chapman dated a wide variety of women while he was at Kentucky, including black women. He said his color-blind dating habits were frowned upon by Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn, who selected Chapman with the eighth pick of the 1988 draft. Chapman said the first time he met Shinn, the owner had just one question – and it had nothing to do with the purpose of the meeting, which was to end Chapman's weeklong rookie holdout for $25,000.

"He asked me if I ever dated black girls," Chapman said. "I told him that I wasn't right now, but that I probably would. My contract was done 20 minutes later. To this day, I believe he thought I might go to the press. [Shinn] started, 'Well, I guess, what I'm saying, you know we live down here in the Bible Belt. I'm just saying be careful.'
Also, Pat Forde sums up his related experiences since he moved to Kentucky in the late 80's.
I moved to Louisville in 1987, after Rex Chapman's freshman year at the University of Kentucky. Everywhere I went, people rhapsodized about King Rex.

And then they'd literally lower their voices and say, "You know he has a black girlfriend, don't you?"

“ I believe everything Rex Chapman told The (Louisville) Courier-Journal this week about the institutional and popular backlash to his occasionally dating black women. I believe some Kentucky officials warned him to keep it on the down-low, and I believe some fans reacted like Neanderthals. I believe it because I've lived in conflicted Kentucky for 18 years now, where race and basketball have always been fractious. ”

Yes, it was out there. And yes, it was considered too scandalous to be spoken in normal conversational tones.

I believe everything Rex Chapman told The (Louisville) Courier-Journal this week about the institutional and popular backlash to his occasional dating of black women. I believe some Kentucky officials warned him to keep it on the down-low, and I believe some fans reacted like Neanderthals. I believe it because I've lived in conflicted Kentucky for 18 years now, where race and basketball have always been fractious.
The most important aspect of this problem will be the reaction of Kentuckians, who will by and large believe either A) well SOME people act like that, but not me, and not most people, or B) what's the problem?

One of the South's greatest weaknesses since the beginning of our nation's history has been its inability to take criticism. Southern pride is so great that it prompts perfectly sane individuals to fly the confederate flag or even have it tatooed on their bodies not as a sign of overt racism, but as a sign of such pride that it doesn't matter if the symbol used to express that pride is linked by many others to horrors second only to the Holocaust in the Western World over the past 200 years.

Pride, or xenophobia.

Nobody likes being told what to do or what to think, but Southerners especially don't like it. Hell, they lost a war over it.

I'm pleased to see that these stories are being brought to national attention. Not to indict the South, but to help it finally understand that Southern pride is a great thing, and the greatest act of pride a Southerner could undertake would be the condemnation of the racism that has plagued it so heavily.

People who take pride in their bodies shed weight, get sleep, exercise, eat well. They toss off the bad things to pursue better approximations of perfection. The South needs to do the same thing with its understanding of its own workings.

Germany has dealt with its past crimes, condemned them, and even if it still struggles to deal with its recent past, the past is not the present. The South would do well to proceed similarly in shedding the baggage of sordid history.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Medicine: Stephen Jay Gould's family suing Brigham and Women's for supposed neglect to diagnose cancer in a timely fasion

No way of telling from this info how this thing should fall, but a pretty interesting human relations story nonetheless.

Gould's death seemed to be the literary manifestation of his own greatest work, the theory of punctuated equilibria. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Then BAM time to change ships. We need the great man in Kansas right now.

Politics: Better to remain silent and be thought an idiot,

than to speak and remove all doubt:

"I've made it very clear to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life -- I'm against that. And therefore if the bill does that, I will veto it."

Yes, since a few clumps of cells in a flask full of pink media is more valuable than someone's grandmother deteoriating slowly and painfully in front of their eyes. Culture of life, my ass. Culture of absolutist bullshit, more like it. Culture of disregard for logic. Culture of realpolitik. Culture of ignoring your God-given sensibilities in exchange for some sort of legalistic interpretation of a text 20-25 centuries removed from the current predicaments without the ability to understand that God is more than just a character in a storybook. Much more than that.

In my first week and a half of life on the wards, I've seen people dying right in front of me left and right. I held a dude's head steady the other night while someone else placed a central line, and that dude is never going to wake up again. The first surgery I scrubbed in on, blood gushed in my face, he didn't make it through the night. A woman with a bomb in her abdomen, just waiting for the fuse to blow as her teary-eyed granddaughter holds her hand, wanting it to be over right now and never all at once.

Those are lives. Not the jizzy muck on the bottom of a lab flask.

So thank you, George Bush, for protecting pink lab goo instead of someone's grandmother.

This last line was filled with a few too many f-bombs before I deleted them, but I'm getting really sore about this shit.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

LGBT: A Lawmaker steps up for his gay son

It's nice to see that some lawmakers can stand up for their gay children. Too bad some others in the Bush administration just can't seem to do the same.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Email addicts beware: technology addiction may be worse for the brain than smoking pot

A study by Hewlett-Packard found that email addiction, or so called "info-mania," may more significantly decrease IQ than working after smoking pot. I know I'm distracted with just email and my cell phone, so I have no idea how you med schoolers with PDAs and pagers too ever manage to stay focused.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

MedPol: Darth Hager resigns from FDA panel

Dr. David Hager, the University of Kentucky uber-conservative OB-GYN appointed by President Bush to manipulate science to back up bullshit conservative ideologies which cannot be supported by legitimate science, will bother us no more.

Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) are urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to immediately investigate Hager’s claims and the FDA’s decision-making process on Plan B. “Day by day, the public’s confidence in the FDA’s ability to make decisions based on scientific evidence of safety and efficacy is eroding,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Michael Leavitt, HHS secretary. “The FDA should never let political considerations interfere with scientific treatment decisions.”

"The FDA’s credibility has taken serious hits of late," said Beth Jordan, MD, medical director of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “The FDA must address immediately the damning charges that an ideologically driven, fundamentalist Christian was able to exert an inordinate amount of influence over a decision that should be entirely based on the best medical science. Had it been, Plan B emergency contraception would certainly be available over-the-counter now and the nation could more seriously tackle the problem of unintended pregnancies.
Good riddance, jackass.

Politics: 'Star Wars' Raises Questions on U.S. Policy

The prequel trilogy is based on a back-story outline Lucas created in the mid-1970s for the original three "Star Wars" movies, so the themes percolated out of the Vietnam War and the Nixon-Watergate era, he said.

Lucas began researching how democracies can turn into dictatorships with full consent of the electorate.

In ancient Rome, "Why did the senate after killing Caesar turn around and give the government to his nephew?" Lucas said. "Why did France after they got rid of the king and that whole system turn around and give it to Napoleon? It's the same thing with Germany and Hitler.

"You sort of see these recurring themes where a democracy turns itself into a dictatorship, and it always seems to happen kind of in the same way, with the same kinds of issues, and threats from the outside, needing more control. A democratic body, a senate, not being able to function properly because everybody's squabbling, there's corruption."

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Medicine: Vaccine for Nicotine?

Today, a Swiss pharmaceutical company is set to unveil the results of a study for a new nicotine vaccine. The vaccine, which sensitizes the immune system to protein-complexed nicotine, allows a person's body to attack free nicotine in the blood stream. This apparently prevents any ingested or inhaled nicotine from entering the brain and causing addiction.

If this stuff works, it really will open up a whole can of worms for society. While undoubtably people who want to quit smoking will benefit from the vaccine, who else should be receiving it? Should parents give it to their kids? What does this do to the concept of free choice? Or maybe this will encourage people to try smoking because now they're not worried about being addicted to it. Very interesting indeed.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

LGBT: Spanish Catholics stand up for LGBT rights

Several Spanish Catholic organizations have taken a position against the Catholic church and are supporting civil marriage rights for LGBT individuals. Finally someone got it right - legal marriage does not force religious groups to recognize those unions. And finally some Catholics are realizing that same-sex unions might not destroy the family... can we say common sense?!?! :)

Of course the Catholic church has called the civil marriage rights "a step backward on the path to civilization." I'm not 100% sure, but the last time I was in a spanish class, I thought that Spain was considered one of the civilized countries of the world. Hm, I didn't know that two people who love each other and would want to obtain legal protection and tax benefits could cause civilization to fall apart or regress. Sounds kinda dramatic to me!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Religion and Politics: That Mess in North Carolina

Pastor resigns after political spat, from CNN.com.

I hope the congregation learns a lesson, but at least some of them won't:

"I don't believe he preached politics. I don't believe anyone should tell a preacher not to preach what's in the Bible."
- Rhonda Trantham, church member
What she and lots of her fellow congregants don't realize, of course, is that they have no clue what's written in that thing, or what the heck those documents are going on about. These folks who insist that their Bible is some kind of mystical book that contains magic instructions about how to live every aspect of their lives, and how to behave in every possible circumstance, will never really get it. They'll never ask questions besides, "Should people abort babies, and how should I treat people who do?" Not that they look in there to answer the second question...

Captain Sacrament's analysis? That pastor is a coward and of course he's backtracking. And the people? They're trying to imagine some kind of contrived separation between religious motivations and political actions when they can't clearly define either realm to begin with.


Monday, May 9, 2005

Evil Empire: No alarms, No surprises

If you're a female Walmart employee, and your coworker likes to brag about the size of his penis, about how girls love the feels of his penis piercing, and how he could make you 'baa like a goat,' make sure you don't complain about it. It might get you fired.

MedEcon: Obese workers' pay lower due to health costs?

Sparkgrass ConservaBuddy Bo Cowgill found an interesting study from his alma mater:

Studies have consistently shown that obese employees are paid less than normal-weight employees doing similar jobs, leading many people to attribute the gap to prejudice against workers based on their appearance.

But new research from Stanford University health economists adds another wrinkle to understanding these pay differentials: obese workers are paid less only when they have employer-sponsored health insurance.
To clear up the logical first question that may pop into your mind,
"We don't think this is a conscious process where the employer says, 'OK, Jane is obese, and we're paying for her health coverage, so let's pay her this much less in wages,'" Bundorf said. But she added that the finding that the pay for obese insured workers rises more slowly than that of their normal-weight counterparts suggests that obese workers may be getting smaller and less frequent raises.

Aside from providing insight into the costs of obesity among workers, the study provides perhaps the strongest evidence to date that the costs of employer-sponsored health insurance are, in fact, passed on to workers through lower wages. By implication, insured workers should be just as alarmed by rising health-care costs as their employers are.
Of course, the interpretation of such a study, i.e. what actions such information should summon, can be spun various ways. I believe that such a study should show employers that they should be vested in preventative health measures for their employees as a way of reducing overall cost. I'm sure the Bill O'Reilly's of the world will say the fat people should 1) get off their fat asses, and 2) have to pay more. Option A (preventative measures) actually addresses the problem, whereas Option B (watching the O'Reilly Factor) ignores it in hopes that the fat people will die and go away.

I think it might be premature to completely disregard the idea that actual discrimination has a part in lower wages for the obese. Of course, this study doesn't make any such claim, noting a discrepancy in raises between obese and non-obese workers which could very well be attributed, at least in part, to discrimination and/or decreased productivity due to complications of obesity.

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Religion: Fighting Fundamentalism

I think at least Garrett will appreciate this: the people in my world are fighting a battle for "hearts and minds" against the creeping fundamentalism endemic to American religious life.

The self-styled "conservatives" think my kind are reprobates, trying to undermine what they think the Christian faith is really about. Liberals don't trust us much because we don't subscribe to that party line, either. It's tough to be nuanced, politically or religiously, but this is what we do; this is what we model for others, while trying to be friends with them. Because if one cannot do that, one can't really influence them, either.

The leader of my own Christian community, Alan, offered this tonight; a shot across the bow in terms of the normal Southern religious discourse:

I suppose, generally speaking (speaking of the Bible and me and maybe you), if you are a very hard-core Sola Scriptura evangelical Christian who's very much into pre-millennial rapture and "fags" going to hell - if you believe every minute detail of how we are to live our lives is found in the black letters (and red) of your King James Bible - if you are a serious 5-point Calvinist who believes that God has a mysterious plan that involves the horrible death of a molested child - if you secretly still think the Roman Catholic Church is the "whore of Babylon" - yeah, uhhh, you're not going to like me very much. You will, perhaps, think I am beyond liberal and perhaps not even truly Christian. I will have to learn to deal with that.
I like to offer sometimes, "See, we're not all like that."

MedPol: Detroit Ponders Fast-Food Tax

A 2-percent tax, to be precise, on top of the 6-percent tax already on prepared food in Detroit.

Mixed feelings, all around.

Revenue = good

Disproportionately affecting lower income folk = bad

Discouraging people from fast food = good

Chance people will actually be discouraged from eating fast food = low

Unfairly punishing one sort of corporate whoredom = who cares?

Pushing businesses out of Detroit = highly unlikely

Chance of passing = close to zero

Politics: South Park Republican Bingo

You can't play, you can't win, but why would you want to?

I am:
"You're probably one of those people who still thinks that getting a blowjob is not an impeachable offense."

Are You A Republican?

Friday, May 6, 2005

Religion and Politics: The Culture Wars Heat Up

The pastor of East Waynesville Baptist Church in Waynesville, NC has asked church members who supported Democratic candidates last November to repent, or else leave their fellowship.

There’s video from a local newscast here via Dembloggers.com. (Thanks to Peter and the Daily Kos for the heads-up.)

Was this a violation of religious freedom? Not in terms of civics: there is no constitutional protection that ensures church members won’t be expelled for dissenting opinions and choices.

It is by Baptist standards. Historically, Baptists are really keen on letting people make their own political decisions, and don’t draw battle lines too closely in terms of politics. They have liked to allow disagreement among their own because of their own history of persecution by the politically powerful.

Make no mistake, this will ruffle feathers in the state and local Baptist associations, if EWBC is a member. I’d like to know which seminary the pastor graduated from, if any?

Could there be an IRS problem? Maybe. I’m still waiting to find out if those folks in Louisville see any consequences from that filibuster of faith thing. I don’t know what the rules are for politicking from the pulpit, but if he’s ousting people specifically over candidates instead of talking about specific issues, that should hopefully make things rough legally.

Update: Pastor Runs Away

LGBT: John Kerry, gay marriage douchebag

So maybe he wasn't just talking out the side of his mouth during the presidential campaigns. Of course, Kerry doesn't particularly qualify the reasoning behind his remarks. Still.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, visiting Louisiana for a forum on children's health care, criticized the Massachusetts Democratic Party for its expected approval of a statement in the party platform in support of same-sex marriage.

"I think it's a mistake," Kerry said. "I think it's the wrong thing, and I'm not sure it reflects the broad view of the Democratic Party in our state."
Update: John McCain rips Kerry for behaving in ways that make it obvious he'd like to run for president again in 2008. Related much? Methinks so.

MedEcon: A Serious Drug Problem

Krugman's latest:

Needless to say, apologists for the law insist that the prohibition on price negotiations had nothing to do with catering to special interests - that it was a matter of principle, of preserving incentives to innovate. How can we refute this defense?

One way is to challenge claims that the pharmaceutical industry needs high prices to innovate. In her book "The Truth About the Drug Companies," Marcia Angell, the former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, shows convincingly that drug companies spend far more on marketing than they do on research - and that much of the marketing is designed to sell "me, too" drugs, which are no better than the cheaper drugs they replace. It should be possible to pay less for medicine, yet encourage more real innovation.

Thursday, May 5, 2005

LGBT: FDA set to implement new rules rejecting gay men as anonymous sperm donors

"To the dismay of gay rights activists, the Food and Drug Administration is about to implement new rules recommending that any man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years be barred from serving as an anonymous sperm donor. The FDA has rejected calls to scrap the provision, insisting that gay men collectively pose a higher-than-average risk of carrying the AIDS virus. "
I find this particularly interesting since the FDA currently bans ALL donations by gay men, not just anonymous ones for blood, tissue, and marrow. The "anonymous-only" ban makes me wonder if this is an attempt to curtail the birth of potentially gay children by making sure sperm recipients know what they're getting into.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

LGBT: Now ABC is starting to piss me off!

Thy won't air a gay-friendly commercial about a church, but they will air James Dobson and his "Focus of the Family" commercial? Come on!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Media: Colbert Gets His Own Show!!!

Good news for Daily Show fans - everybody's second favorite Steve is getting his own show. The show will be the comic version of the pundit shows: The O'Reilly Factor, Scarborough Country, Hannity & Colmes (Sorry, I stole that joke from Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right) and the like.

Yet another reason to keep me up late during surgery.

International: China offers Taiwan giant pandas

Chinese intelligience infiltrates Taiwan
China has announced a series of goodwill gestures towards Taiwan, including the gift of two giant pandas. Pandas are considered China's ultimate diplomatic gesture, though it is not clear if Taiwan will accept the offer.
What Taiwan doesn't know is that the pandas are actually elite assassins sent to eliminate Taiwanese heads of state. Hasn't anyone heard of the Trojan horse? Notice the agents as they survey their targets.

Medicine: Babies inherit 9/11 moms' stress

From the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism:

Pregnant women who witnessed the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 passed on biological signs of stress to their babies, researchers suggest.

Scientists from Edinburgh and New York say tests on infants when they were a year old showed they had low levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Their mothers also showed low cortisol levels, a sign someone is affected by PTSD the researchers say.

The researchers will follow the babies as the grow up to see if those with lower cortisol levels go on to develop psychological disorders when they are older.

A separate study by Columbia University Medical Centre researchers found one in three New York schoolchildren suffered mental disorders in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

And a quarter experienced one or more of six anxiety disorders in the six months directly after the terrorist outrage.

Medicine: Clinton, Huckabee Announce Childhood Obesity Plan

Laudable quote of the story:

Glancing at Clinton, himself a former Arkansas governor, the Republican Huckabee joked: "I'm going to outlive all the Democrats." Then he added: "This is so not a political issue. This is about people and their health."
I Heart Huckabee.

Health/Politics: Cover the Uninsured Week

This week (May 1-8) is Cover the Uninsured Week, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Despite my recent laziness, I am going to try to post information on the uninsured all week. I personally believe that it is a national embarrassment that we have people without access to healthcare in the United States. I believe this is a basic violation of human rights, but if you don't buy that argument for the uninsured, there are many other reasons why you should be concerned about the rising number of uninsured persons in the United States, such as the negative effect that a large number of uninsured people have on the health care of an entire community.
One quick example: in Arizona, a bill was passed in 11/2/04that aims to restrict illegal immigrant's access to public, tax-payer funded services. Many want this bill to also restrict nonemergent health care coverage (provided by the public health authority and other taxpayer-funded sources) access to illegal immigrants, but thankfully this has not occurred. Now let us take a step back and think logically about some of the possible effects of restricting health care to illegal immigrants- there are a large percentage of illegal, uninsured immigrants in Arizona, who bring with them all of those infectious diseases that we only read about in our infectious disease books - you know, things like leprosy and TB, diseases that also happen to be highly transmissible to other people. If you deny illegal immigrants treatment for such infectious diseases simply because they are not taxpayers, you are also increasing the risk of spreading diseases to others in the community. Infectious diseases know no insurance status boundaries, and having a population with untreated TB and leprosy does not exactly do much to increase the public health of a community (and yes, Maricopa County in Arizona actually has one of the 4 leprosy (Hansen's Disease) clinics located in the United States). The illegal status of the immigrants adds some complexity to this tale of the uninsured, but it does demonstrate one way in which the health of the uninsured affects everybody in a community. This same theory could be applied to the lower rates of childhood immunization in areas where the levels of insurance are also low. Even if you do not believe that health care is a right, you might want to at least be concerned on how a lack of health care in others affects you. More to come....

Medicine: 13 year old girl update

Another Florida court has ruled that the 13 year old Florida girl mentioned two posts down will be allowed to have her abortion.

Monday, May 2, 2005

MedEcon: A Private Obsession

Krugman's latest on health care, lost in the Step 1 fray.

Medicine: Florida Court says 13 year old girl mature enough to have baby, not mature enough to make a simple medical decision

The state decides she can't have an abortion because the teenager, who is under the care of the state, is too young and immature to make an informed medical decision. And all this DESPITE the fact that Florida state law specifically does not require a minor to seek parental consent before an abortion.

But never fear, the ACLU to the rescue!

This seems like a huge case, given that Roe pretty specifically protects first term abortions, and no existing federal or Florida state law justifies this decision in the case of a minor (which is of course not true in many other states).

In summary:

The American Civil Liberties Union's executive director in Florida, Howard Simon, said forcing a 13-year-old to carry on an unwanted pregnancy to term, against her wishes, is not only illegal and unconstitutional, it is cruel.
Three cheers for the ACLU! Of course, this isn't the most strictly legally tenable position, but I can't say I don't agree with it absolutely.

Medicine: Obesity a problem among the affluent

It's not just the poor people packing on the pounds any more:

Money for quality food aside, higher-income people are thought to be better educated and to have better access to health care, so why such a jump among them? In an interview, Robinson said no one yet knows. But she speculated that longer commutes, growing popularity of restaurants and possibly longer work hours since the 1970s are playing a role.

The poor still are the most likely to be fat, said Dr. Adam Drewnowski of the University of Washington, an expert on the problem. Moreover, since the '70s, rates of extreme obesity — being 90 to 100 pounds or more overweight — have ballooned among lower-income groups, something the study doesn't address, he said.

Further complicating attempts to compare income and obesity are cultural factors. Certain racial and ethnic groups positively equate a man's girth with wealth — it's a sign of success, Drewnowski said.

"I would caution against any attempts to interpret these data to say social differences have disappeared," he said. "It just shows that obesity is a general problem and it's now affecting pretty much everybody. ... But it would be very shortsighted to stop paying attention to the people who are most vulnerable."

LGBT: Oregon next?

Is Oregon the next state in line to establish same-sex partner benefits? Why am I still living in MI? Will some other corporate giant do in Oregon what Microsoft did in Washington?