Thursday, September 29, 2005

End Times are Near: Jews vs. Gentiles

The Jewish Anti-Defamation League doesn't appreciate the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship one bit.

This brings up a point that nobody wants to admit, but by definition, evangelical protestants CANT coexist with other religions. Most Southern Baptist Churches have mission statements that revolve around the concept of 'reaching people for Christ.' It's not a "you leave us alone and we'll leave you alone" sort of philosophy. Southern Baptists don't want to be free to practice their religion. They want to be free to take over everyone else's.

And I don't mean this as a rant against the Southern Baptist Church. If you think that you have the answer to the universe (besides #42), it's pretty reasonable, maybe even loving, to want to make other people have that answer too.

It's also pretty reasonable to leave other people alone to interact with God as they choose if you believe that by doing so you aren't damning them.

Baptist doctrines based on mangled readings of Revelations suggest that Jews A) are going to hell; or B) will have Jesus revealed to them in some new way and will be saved as God's chosen people sometime before that whole Lake of Fire thing happens. Some would argue that the messianic jew movement is a partial fulfillment of B.

With 22 years of Southern Baptist Churching under my belt, I think I stand in a reasonable place to comment upon the doctrines and the implications of those doctrines on a Southern Baptist's own terms. Part of what pushed me away from the SBC is that a true Southern Baptist can't really coexist with those of other religions, and even those of certain denominations of Christianity.

Sure, most Southern Baptists are encouraged to have friends who aren't Southern Baptist, with the hopes that you'll convert them someday, or that they'll 'see the love of Christ in your life, and want to find that love themselves.'

It's a big fiasco of semantics in that many SBC practices are, when removed from the context in which they are advocated, absolutely scary and cult-like. Placed in context, these same practices are mostly the good intentions of a group of people who are trying to love the world in the best way they know how, which is through the love of Jesus Christ.

That's not such a terrible thing, unless you're someone who has different ideas about your spirituality. Then it's frigging annoying.

Medicine: Giving pharmacists too much power

Wyoming is considering a law that would allow pharmacists to not dispence HAART meds (for HIV/AIDS) based on moral grounds. Has no one told them that the majority of HIV/AIDS pts in this country are NOT gay? Do these people really think that they are self-righteous enough to take such a stance? Are these people just that biggoted and filled with hatred? How do we have such people in medicine, the field where we provide care and assistance for anyone, from any walk of life? Come on - grow up!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Maybe I Should Have Gone Into Babysitting

So I'm sitting in my general pediatrics clinic, listening to my attending doctor go over the plan with a mother to take care of her daughter's contact dermatitis (medical translation - rash on her face from the new fabric softener). The cute little girl, who is about four years old with four adorable braids coming out of her head, comes up to me and asks me if I know patty cake, and I being the patty cake kind of guy reply yes, and proceed to play patty cake (or pat a cake -whatever you prefer to call it). I'm having fun, a lot of fun to tell you the truth, until my attending knocks me out of my happy space by saying, "So Steve - are you going to listen to the plan, or are we teaching you how to play with kids?".

I want to learn how to play with kids.

Medicine: sometimes those forwarded emails are totally worth it

A man walks into a psychiatrist's office wearing nothing except underwear made of Saran Wrap.

The psychiatrist says, "Well, I can clearly see you're nuts..."
Thanks to my dad for sending me that one.

MedTV: Network TV blows

Here's a nice piece by some Brigham and Women's House Officers bitching about how Grey's Anatomy and House are screwing the entire health care system by making everyone think that doctors are over-sexed insensitive bastards. Some nice historical perspective as well about how the AMA has influenced medicine on TV since the 60's and how the shift of focus from the patients to the physicians explains some of the generation of dramatic conundra.

Many moments would make the old-time AMA vetters cringe. Instead of asexual father figures, the doctors on cast are hyper-hormonal. Attendings sleep with residents. Interns bed nurses. Even patients are fair game. On one episode, Grey kisses an injured biker brought in to the hospital after an accident involving spokes sticking out of his abdomen. Normally, any of these infractions would be grounds for dismissal. At Grey's hospital, they're all in a day's work.

These breaches, however, are minor. What matters are the glaring inaccuracies in complicated and delicate areas of medicine. In one egregious episode, the character played by Sandra Oh, Cristina Yang, asks a woman to donate her husband's organs after he dies unexpectedly. Yang botches the job, dispassionately asking for the husband's eyes and skin as if they were no more than items on a grocery list. Then she runs out of the room as the wife begins to cry.

The scene is rife with errors that could damage public perception of organ donation, starting with the premise: Yang is angling for the husband's organs because another patient (who also happens to be a close friend of the chief of surgery) is dying from liver failure and will be saved if the wife agrees. In real life, hospitals go to great lengths to prevent exactly these types of conflicts of interest, barring doctors from approaching patients directly and designating statewide organizations instead of individual hospitals to distribute organs. Maybe we're just two overeducated doctors who take television too seriously, but we worry that this plot line could have done real harm by discouraging people from donating.

In another episode, two of the characters experiment on a patient, performing an illegal autopsy against a family's wishes. On the show, the characters are forgiven, instead of arrested, because they discover the patient had a rare genetic disease (which Oh blithely mispronounces). But as doctors, we could not forgive the producers for their superficial all's-well ending. Since the
Tuskegee tragedy, doctors have instilled institutional checks to ensure that clinical research is ethical. Still, many patients avoid doctors because they are afraid of being experimented on. The autopsy on Grey's Anatomy's casually corroborated their worst fears.

Watching these episodes makes us long, in spite of ourselves, for the days when the AMA had television producers on a tight leash. Don't get us wrong: We don't miss Dr. Welby's starched white coat. But we are afraid that TV's worst inaccuracies may compromise what trust remains between doctors and patients.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Health Policy: Goodbye Norris, Hello Theresa

To many this is old news, but I thought it was so hysterical I had to post it in case you missed it. Here's the timeline:

1. Susan Wood resigns as director of Office of Women's Health at FDA to protest the FDA repeatedly backing out of approving OTC morning after pill over the recommendations of its own scientists and review boards.

2. FDA names Norris Alderson, a male veterinarian with a background in animal husbandry and no experience with women (sorry Norris), as the new director.

3. Every women's health group is (justifiably) angered seeing that women are very different from farm animals.

4. FDA sends out notice that Theresa A. Toigo would head the Office of Women's Health and denies it ever said anything about Alderson (even though "The seeming mystery thickened when several women's groups said that not only did they receive e-mails announcing Alderson's appointment, but also that he was also listed on a Health and Human Services directory last week as the acting director of the office. In addition, people who have spoken with women's health office staff said that Alderson was introduced to the staff last week as the new acting director, and that he even had some one-on-one discussions with staff members about future plans").

Maybe that Onion article about Bush appointing a first trimester fetus to the Supreme Court wasn't a fake?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Crack: Nintendo Revolution controller gives foot massages, takes your dog out

Simulations of the controller being used in a number of different games were shown during a video shown at the keynote. It was swung in a baseball game as someone would swing a bat, stabbed into space to kill imaginary bugs as someone might use a fly swatter and swung from side to side to control a tennis game on screen.

There’s an add-on unit, connected via a short cable to the main unit. It was simulated being used in a first-person shooter game, of the type that’s very popular in the U.S. The main controller was held in the hand and pointed while the secondary controller was held in the other hand and became the gun’s trigger.

The new style controller is part of Nintendo’s drive to expand the gaming population and Iwata said he hopes it will be less intimidating for non-gamers to pick up.

Medicine: dashing and daring, courageous and caring, cavity fighting with stories to share...

Those crazies folks at the University of Washington have developed xylitol-based cavity fighting gummi bears.

Your toothbrush surrenders.

Religion: Venti Nonfat Decaff Mint Mocha Chip Worship Service (no whip)

I'll save Kyle the problem of self-promotion and just say that if the graphic interests you, then you should read his most excellent post on turning theological undercurrents into worship style brand names.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Medicine: Preparing for Rita

Here is how the largest teaching hospital in TX is prepareing for Rita. It sounds to me like they've thought through this a lot. Here's hoping that their fate is better than it was for many of the New Orleans hospital patients.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hogwarts: Expecto Patronum

With the impending deathacaine, and tomorrow being the last day of in-patient pediatrics, seems like we need a light-hearted day of blogging.

I can't help but be impressed by this canon of all the Harry Potter spells.

Zen: Strength in Numbers

Here's a sampling of our favorite conservablogger Bo Cowgill's prediction market work at Google posted on the Google blog. Some pretty fancy stuff.

This stuff also seems like the making of some great science fiction movies with lots of self-fulfilling prophesies, creating a really cool distribution of control to the masses, and a pretty crazy portrait of inertia, blah blah blah.

Okay, I'll stop pretending I understand anything about prediction markets. But at least it seems pretty cool.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

a 6:00 AM scene from the children's hospital conference room

Matt: I need a mantra.

Garrett: How about "monkey monkey monkey monkey monkey..."

Matt: No, I need something original.

Agnieszka: Besides, that sounds like "Hem/Onc Hem/Onc Hem/Onc Hem/Onc Hem/Onc..."

Note for the outsider: that's Hematology/Oncology, aka "the seventh floor" of Mott Children's Hospital

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Medicine: one small step for AIDS

Zidovudine goes generic. That's AZT for all you folks not spending every moment of your 20s in a pound-me-in-the-ass hospital.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Vonnegut: A Man Without a Country

Kurt Vonnegut's latest collection of essays (fortunately breaking his promise to never publish another book of new work) landed him a wonderful interview on Weekend Edition last week. (I can't get the audio link to work in Firefox, so this is the only time I'll advocate the use of IE.)

Courtney and I talked a lot over dinner about what happens when Vonnegut, 82, passes away. Saul Bellow died. Arthur Miller died. But damn, Vonnegut? Has there been a more important voice in the 20th century than Kurt Vonnegut? Will anyone else be able to weave the sort of cynical optimism that permeated KV books?

He's smoked at least a pack of unfiltered cigarettes every day since he was a kid. His NY apartment caught on fire a few years ago, and almost did him in then. Maybe he'll last twenty more years, but something seems ominous about this last book, and even this interview sounds like the near-last words of a man who has lived life to the end.

When the day comes, we'll all cry Goodbye, Blue Monday.

Update: Vonnegut on the Daily Show. And an article about how all these media appearances are making the book a bestseller.

Update 2
: Courtney is threatening to get a Vonnegut tattoo on her right bicep as such:
Heaven help me.

Just plain scary: 9-year-old with a gun

Who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to advertise hunting to children? Here is a group that offered a contest where the winning child was treated to a three day hunter's paradise trip... shotgun included.

When the child's father teased her, here was her reacion:

At one point, as the group crossed a wooden bridge, Samantha's father, Scott, who had accompanied her - and had filled out her application for the hunting contest - teased her that trolls lived under the bridge.

"Dad," Samantha said with bravado, "I got a gun."
Is is just me or is there something wrong with this picture?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Politics: chip off the old block

Jeb Bush's son just got arrested for public intoxication and resisting arrest.

In other news, John Ellis Bush has announced he will be running for president in 2032 after he sells the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, which his daddy will buy for him in 2024 after their 26th consecutive season as a piece of shit baseball squad, to some Saudi investors. His profits will be protected in a tax-free savings accounts which he will be able to use to buy guns to keep the poor people off the White House lawn.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Politics: choose your battles wisely

Michael Newdow is back in court trying to get the Pledge out of schools. Only in San Francisco.

I don't particulary disagree with Newdow's argument; in fact I think he's pretty much absolutely technically correct on all accounts.

But geez, in a country where Fox News is uber-profitable, is this really a battle worth fighting? Is it really worth insuring that Republican presidents get elected for the next fifty years until enough conservative justices are on the bench to allow Rick Santorum's grandson to transform the pledge into a ten paragraph treatise affirming the Christian God recited at gunpoint every morning. Is it worth making sure that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer just so atheists don't have to say "under God" every morning?

Here's a tip to atheists out there: learn about 'symbolism'! If you're an atheist, and you hear 'God,' think 'Organic Chemistry.' Organic chemistry is at least an equivalent deity worth worshipping if you're not into worshipping a deity. It's not worth pissing off the Red country and insuring that gays can't marry for seven thousand years.

LGBT: Massachussetts may be falling off the earth before long

As reported in this NYT article, Mass. lawmakers voted down a proposal to eliminate same-sex marriage in a state-wide vote. While some see this as good news, others may see it as the first step towards the state falling off the main land-mass of the level-headed, religiously-reverent America and deep into the oceans of hell! Pick your side.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

FUBAR: Where's Susan Sarandon?

Perhaps I'm in a foul mood, but this just seems like a death penalty day to me.

CNN: Neighbors Say Caged Kids Seemed Normal

One of the children, a boy born with HIV, was adopted as an infant in 2001 through the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services, the agency's director Jim McCafferty said. For caring for him, the Gravelles received a subsidy of at least $500 a month.

The private agencies who reviewed the couple's home life before the adoption gave them "glowing reports," McCafferty said.

BBC: US Men Kill Transgender Teenager
Two US men have been found guilty in California of killing a transgender teenager with whom they both had sex.

Michael Magidson and Jose Merel beat, tied up and strangled 17-year-old Gwen Araujo after discovering she was biologically male, the court heard.

Her body was found in a shallow grave in the Sierra Nevada hills soon after the October 2002 killing in Newark.

The men face 15 years to life in jail for murder but were cleared of hate crime charges.

It was the second time the case had gone to court, after a first attempt in 2004 was declared a mistrial.

A mistrial was declared in the case of a third suspect, Jason Cazares. He told the court he only helped bury the victim.

Oh, if that was all... Does anyone have any guesses why these "men" were cleared of hate crimes?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Learned Helplessness with a Dose of Goold Old Catholic Guilt

Concerning Apathy and Learned Helplessness
Hurricane Katrina and Rita : I feel helpless watching the news coverage, and wish I could go down there and help. But I know I won't, because I'm too busy being a medical student and moving forward with my life. I couldn't possibly take a few months off to go down there and help, because I've got to finish med school, and that would just not be convenient for me. And then I yell at myself because it's not like having a hurricane run through one's home meshes with one's life plans, so why shouldn't I self sacrifice and help people out, because at least I have a home to return to when I get back. And then I argue with myself and convince myself that I will be able to help people out more if I finish my education, and feel better because I at least feel bad for not going down there and helping, and at least I contemplated thinking about taking time off of med school to go help. And then I just feel stupid and selfish and helpless because I know I won't interrupt my schedule to go help, and instead I'll watch and shake my head and say "Oh, that's too bad", and donate some money to the Red Cross (but not the Salvation Army because they can keep their propaganda away from my money), and rationalize that there is probably plenty of help down South right now, and even if I could help stupid FEMA wouldn't have its act together to even know what to do with me, a medical student, who can hardly juggle my clerkships, studying, and trying to maintain my humanity.

Politics: Concerning Race

An open statement to many of my relatives and others in Metro Detroit who share their views:

I'm originally from a working class suburb that borders Detroit, and due to our low taxes and affordable housing, our city is becoming a magnet for those finding their way out of Detroit. Most of these people are black, and now I am watching as my town becomes a focus of white flight. Houses are up for sale on every block, and my neighbors can tell you how many black people have moved onto our street and the adjacent streets as well. I am so sick and tired of hearing "I'm not racist or anything, but you know 'they' [black people] do bring down our home values, and it just would be silly for me to stay", and I'm exhausted from trying to form a logical argument to counter this seemingly sensical statement. Most of the time I get the same response, "You're still young - you'll see how things really are soon", or "You didn't see what they did to our old neighborhood in Detroit, back when it was nice [and before tax incentives from the government convinced jobs to leave the city, and a lack of a public transport system left a wave of people unemployed and without money]. I then juxtapose these moments with my recent weekend trips to weddings and graduation parties where I have been driving about 15-20 miles north of my hometown, continuously watching the sprawl stretch on for miles. I'm afraid that people in Metro Detroit are losing the race battle, and I think I'm watching us move farther away from the dreams of the Civil Rights Act. But maybe I'm just pessimistic, or maybe I've read too much Hurricane Katrina coverage on the racial disparities in New Orleans.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Katrina Hero: Ben Marble, MD

Yeah, he's the guy that told Dick Cheney, "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney. Go fuck yourself." (Video here)

And here is his Ebay auction selling the tape of the encounter.

Apparently he was cuffed and detained by the SS for about 20 minutes after the incidence, being released because, well, it's not exactly illegal to tell someone blocking you from getting to your home to score sick political points to go fuck themselves.

His friend videotaped a little bit longer and then came back to Marble’s house. As they were salvaging a few things from Marble's home, two military police waving M-16's showed up and said they were looking for someone who fit Marble's description who had cursed at Cheney.

"I told them I was probably the person they were looking for, and so they put me in handcuffs and 'detained' me for about 20 minutes or so," Marble wrote. "My right thumb went numb because the cuffs were on so tight, but they were fairly courteous and eventually released me after getting all my contact info. They said I had NOT broken any laws so I was free to go."

So let’s get this straight: A physician with a newborn baby loses most everything he owns in the hurricane, does what most of us WANT to do and “echoes” Cheney’s words he spoke on the Senate floor last year, walks away harmlessly, mission accomplished, and then once the media cameras leave, he is treated like a foreign terrorist as Cheney’s goons waving M-16s handcuff him in front of his destroyed home? Had it not been for the media cameras filming the initial scene, I doubt Cheney’s goons would have just let Marble go after 20 minutes.

America, land of the free?
Especially when that someone has a good record of doing that himself on the Senate floor.

He's a pretty interesting dude to read about, although a lot of the links I had open last night seem to have disappeared from the net. Here's his personal website: Of note, he plays in a few alternative bands, one of which, Dr. O (I think was the name), has had like 20 #1 songs on

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Medicine: Post-call = Drunk!!

Research from U of M shows that doctors who are post-call perform worse than doctors with a BAC of 0.05. I'm glad I'm the one giving and not receiving care! But watch out on the roads. You never know when a white coat may be coming after you!

LGBT: California legislature makes another step in the right direction

Last week the Senate approved same-sex marriage; this week it's the California Assembly. Now the next question is just what will that Arnold (aka. "the gubernator") have to say? Will he appeal to fellow GOP-ers or will he stick to his purported fiscal conservatism with social liberalism? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Medicine: Grand Rounds #50 up at Corpus Callosum

CC is run by one of UM's own fine psychiatrists.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Forgotten News: Immigrants die in US desert heat

I should note that Pima county is home to University of Arizona, my alma mater.

Record numbers of illegal immigrants who cross into the US from Mexico have died in the scorching heat of the Arizona desert in the past year. At least 229 immigrants are known to have died since 1 October 2004, the US Border Patrol said. In one Arizona county, a refrigerated trailer is being used to store up to 70 extra bodies as the morgue is full up. The morgue in Pima County, Arizona can hold up to 120 bodies, but officials have called for a new permanent cooler to double its storage capacity.Arizona serves as the main crossing point for some 1.1 million immigrants who make the journey into the US from Mexico each year. Border Patrol officers have carried out about 700 missions to rescue immigrants stranded in the desert region this summer.

News: Microsoft-Google battle heats up

I sense a reality show coming on.

Microsoft's chief executive vowed to "kill Google" in an expletive-laden tirade against the firm, according to US court documents filed by Google. The claim was made in a sworn statement by Mark Lucovsky, a former Microsoft employee who quit for Google in 2004. Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer has denied the claims, saying they are a "gross exaggeration of what actually took place".

In his sworn statement, Mr Lucovsky - a key Windows architect - alleged that Mr Ballmer hurled a chair across the room when he informed him he was moving to Google, before launching into an abusive tirade against Google's chief executive Eric Schmidt.

Nightmares: Bush nominates Roberts for Chief Justice

The fact that we know jack shit about what John Roberts would actually do as a supreme court justice was disturbing, but not enough to disqualify a qualified dude for a spot on the court.

The fact that we know jack shit about what John Roberts would actually do as a chief justice of the supreme court is simple disaster.

As a married white male, I might be the only person safe in the country. *Flair for drama? Sure.*

Sunday, September 4, 2005

Politics: Rehnquist succumbs to thyroid cancer

That's pretty sad.

Politically speaking, I'm not sure what it does, as Bush simply has to replace a centrist conservative and a traditional conservative, which shouldn't exactly be difficult.

Seems like it'd be quite nice to appoint someone from the current court to chief justice, but I have a feeling Bush would rather appoint someone a tad bit younger to insure a conservative stays at the head of the bench for as long as possible.

But hey, he was a Chief Justice, and he wasn't particularly an asshole.

I mean, sometimes. But so am I.

Sad day.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Politics: Black lawmakers angry about federal response to Katrina

Black members of Congress expressed anger Friday at what they said was a slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

"It looks dysfunctional to me right now," said Rep. Diane Watson, D-California.

She and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, along with members of the Black Leadership Forum, National Conference of State Legislators, National Urban League and the NAACP, held a news conference and charged that the response was slow because those most affected are poor.

The article also mentions that leaders are refraining from making accusations of racism, but classism is more fun (and more fair) anyway.

This isn't the first time I've heard this meme, as Matt Lauer asked a similar question on the Today show, according to my wife.

Sadly enough, there's probably something to it. And this is not meant to be a partisan attack at all, simply an admonition of further poor priorities throughout a bumbling government.

Friday, September 2, 2005

LGBT: Another glimmer of hope

Well, it's not a done deal, but a step in the right direction. The CA senate has voted to approve same-sex marriage. Now it's time to see where the house stands. [fingers crossed]