Saturday, January 28, 2006

Medicine: inhaling your insulin

Hank McKinnell, CEO of Pfizer:

"Having grown tired of making new pills and shots, Pfizer has decided to place its research dollars into things that kids on the campus of the University of Michigan can stick in their noses, where the real street cash is, and where the government will leave us alone. Some guys were screwing around in the lab one night, and they accidentally grabbed the 'insulin' bottle instead of the 'groovy new hallucinogenic concoction-o-fun' bottle, and, well, here I am! Those silly chemists."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Humor: Are You Prepared?

Okay, by now you've stocked up on duct tape. But besides ensuring slow suffocation by stopping all possible ventilation for your home, what else should you do in case of a terrorist attack?

Lucky for us, Daniel Kurtzman has written an excellent step-by-step guide to keep you safe should the unthinkable happen. All pictures courtesy of, the US government's actual terrorism safety preparation website.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Medicine: television in the bedroom kills your sex life, chances of eternal happiness

Italian sexologist. That has to be the ultimate resume booster.

"If there's no television in the bedroom, the frequency (of sexual intercourse) doubles," said Serenella Salomoni whose team of psychologists questioned 523 Italian couples to see what effect television had on their sex lives.

On average, Italians who live without TV in the bedroom have sex twice a week, or eight times a month. This drops to an average of four times a month for those with a TV, the study found.

For the over-50s the effect is even more marked, with the average of seven couplings a month falling to just 1.5 times.

No word on whether it might be effective to get a TV in your bedroom to increase your chances of having sex four times a month. The study also fails to report if late night TV in Italy has ugly dudes like Leno and Letterman on TV. I figured all Italian TV was like porno anyway, but maybe Jeopardy doesn't do it for Italians either.

And in other news, people over 50 can have sex seven times a month?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Golden Globes: George Clooney, Kentuckian, American, Hero

I'm way behind on a plethora of posts, but before the entire world goes out of date, I can't let this pass us by (from the fine folks at Crooks and Liars):

Clooney won a Golden Globe tonight for his performance as Best Supporting Actor in "Syriana," and thanked Jack Abramoff.

Video-WMP Video-QT

Clooney: I want to thank Jack Abramoff, you know, just because-I--I'm the first one out- lets get this thing rolling. I don't know why. Who would name their kid Jack with the last words "off" at the end of your last name? No wonder that guy is screwed up. Ahh-alright I just got bleeped. Thank you very much...

As if the dude wasn't cool enough.

Friday, January 20, 2006

See Matz, the Animal Liberation Front ain't so bad! How you could eat this friendly critter, I'll never understand. Well yeah, I probably would, back in those dark carnivorous days of the first seventeen years of my life.

Family: Homosexuals invade MD

Maryland judge strikes down same-sex marriage ban. Maryland's law against same-sex marriage was struck down on Friday by a judge who ruled in favor of 19 gay men and women who contended it violated the state's equal rights guarantees.
The pro-Family groups appear to have been right and "gay fever" is sweeping the nation. Skipping New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, some are speculating spread by boat.

Congrats to MD. God bless judges for protecting minorities while the other two branches of government are busy getting re-elected.

Politics: Rove no longer using underhanded political tactics

Instead of anonymously leaking accusatory stories that shift the blame to Democrats and congratulate Republicans, Karl Rove has started issuing statements that are now printed on directly. - Rove: Security will be focus of 2006 campaigns - Jan 20, 2006: "Embattled White House adviser Karl Rove vowed Friday to make the war on terrorism a central campaign issue in November and said Democratic senators looked 'mean-spirited and small-minded' in questioning Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito."

Meat: Those Kooky Animal Rights Activists

So, according to the FBI "ecoterrorism is the most widespread and damaging form of domestic terrorism." This sounds like bull. The majority of animal rights activists are harmless, merely wrapping themselves in meat packaging (as pictured above). And while they do break a lot of stuff (read 45 million in damages), even the FBI section head for counterterrorism admits that they "discourage acts that harm 'any animal, human and nonhuman.' and . . . have generally adhered to this mandate."

While, I eat meat and disagree with their attitudes towards animals for medical testing and "animal rights," they don't really kill anyone (unless you count those people suffocating in the photo). Unlike say, people who kill obstetricians for terminating pregnancies, or white extremist groups who kill people that aren't white extremists or the families of judges who put them in jail for being white supremacist.

So, to summarize:

1. Are Animal Rights Terrorists bad? Yes.

2. Are Animal Rights Terrorists funny? Yes (Checkout their website for a few laughs and learn about how: Violence isn't really violence when it's to fight violence as well as how children are excluded from medical research).

3. Are Animal Rights Terrorist the biggest domestic terrorist threat in the US? Probably not, unless you're looking at human lives as property with each person worth about 50 bucks.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Genetics: If the Ashkenazis were bad...

So just like many Ashkenazis were descended from four women, one in twelve Irish men and as many as three million men worldwide may be descended from a single 5th century warlord.

Hmm. I sure as hell hope that never happens with Bush... can you imagine three million dolts being his progeny?

Julep offered to take my EKG test for me. She's getting as much out of this book upside down as I am right side up.

More Post-Call Crack: How They Got Here

I've been meaning to start this series for a while, since various tracking softwares allow me to see how people get to Sparkgrass. This one made me unable to wait any longer: sexx sexx sexx arab sexx arab! Apparently we rank on the front page for this search. I am so proud.

What the hell was this dude looking for that couldn't be found with a good ole' arab sex search? Not Sparkgrass, apparently.

Beer Pong: UM students win national championship

Screw the US News and World Report Rankings. Thanks to Jason Coben and Nick Velissaris, the University of Michigan is tops in the nation at the only rankings that really matter -- beer pong. Congrats to these guys. Fun article.

For the unfortunate not in the know, here's the Wikipedia article explaining beer pong.

This is the sort of post you get from a sleep-deprived post-call medical student who has nothing to do except for wait a few hours until his residents take mercy on him and allow him to go home so he can take a shower and ready bleary-eyed EKGs until exhaustive collapse.

Cynicism level: 9/10, just like all of my patients symptoms right now.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Books: Oprah picks wisely -- Wiesel's Night

Synopsis lifted from Wikipedia:

Night is an autobiographical novella by Elie Wiesel based on his experience, as a young Jew, of being deported from the village of Sighet in Transylvania to the German death camp at Auschwitz, and later to the concentration camp at Buchenwald.

Wiesel was 17 years old when Buchenwald was liberated on April 11, 1945 by the Sixth Armored Division of the U.S. Third Army. For ten years, having lost his faith in God and humanity, he kept his story to himself and contemplated suicide. During a meeting in Paris in May 1955, François Mauriac, the French novelist and Nobel laureate, persuaded Wiesel to start writing, but even with Mauriac's connections, no publisher was willing to handle Wiesel's original 900-page Yiddish draft. It was too morbid, they told him; no one would read it. [4]

Eventually a publisher in Argentina agreed to publish it as Un di Velt Hot Geshvign (And the World was Silent), then in 1958, a small French publisher released a 127-page French translation called La Nuit. The first English translation was published in the United States in 1960, earning Wiesel an advance of $100 and selling just 1,046 copies in 18 months.

Forty-five years later, now translated into 30 languages, Night ranks alongside Primo Levi's If This is a Man and Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl as one of the bedrocks of Holocaust literature, and possibly its most powerful description of humiliation and despair.

Medicine: Hot Sex treats common cold

No word yet on what effect cold sex may have on what ails ye.

During sexual intercourse, number of phagocytes tends to increase significantly; oftentimes, number of these cells almost doubles after orgasm. This in turn enables these cells to detect and destroy antibodies more quickly.
I'm pretty sure this wins the wacky headline of the week award. The rest of the (short) article is an hoot as well. Pravda doesn't exactly deal in primary sources, so I'm not sure what study this came from exactly. But fortunately nobody gives a shit.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Jews: as if we needed something else to joke about

So apparently an estimated 3.5 million (40 percent of the total Ashkenazi Jews in the world) are all descended from just four women, according to new mitochondrial DNA evidence.

I'm counting on some of my Jewish readers to leave me with a good joke here. I'm too tired to give it what it deserves.

MedPol: Virginia rapist / death penalty victim was in fact guilty

I blogged about this case earlier last week, but Mark Warner did the right thing in ordering retesting of DNA samples from 1990s to confirm the verdict. Death penalty opponents would love to see a DNA-proven case of the death penalty being applied to an innocent person (not because, ya know, we want innocent people murdered--we just want to know about if it's happening, and it probably has).

But alas, Virginia's systematic murder of its worst criminals continues unscathed.

Film: Nostradamus predicts the end of Blockbuster

Slate has a fun article detailing the decline of Blockbuster, due to seemingly pig-headed arrogant decisions made at the beginning of the switch from VHS to DVD. But final conclusion: Blockbuster will not be missed.

Long live Netflix and its successors!

Sunday, January 8, 2006

Internet: With Respect To Wikipedia

With all the controversy that's been hovering around Wikipedia and anyone's ability to slander other people on it, Penny Arcade had to tell us their opinion about it all. Hilarious.

Friday, January 6, 2006

Med: Free booze for the homeless

I'm sure the righties will just LOVE this one:

Giving homeless alcoholics a regular supply of booze may improve their health and their behavior, the Canadian Medical Association Journal said in a study published on Tuesday.

Seventeen homeless adults, all with long and chronic histories of alcohol abuse, were allowed up to 15 glasses of wine or sherry a day -- a glass an hour from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. -- in the Ottawa-based program, which started in 2002 and is continuing.

After an average of 16 months, the number of times participants got in trouble with the law had fallen 51 percent from the three years before they joined the program, and hospital emergency room visits were down 36 percent.

"Once we give a 'small amount' of alcohol and stabilize the addiction, we are able to provide health services that lead to a reduction in the unnecessary health services they were getting before," said Dr. Jeff Turnbull, one of the authors of the report.

"The alcohol gets them in, builds the trust and then we have the opportunity to treat other medical diseases... It's about improving the quality of life."
First they attack Christmas, now those crazy lefties wanna give all the homeless folks an endless suppy of Jack Daniels? Obviously, homeless people don't deserve any sort of quality of life.

This is why I love medical policy: because every once in a while, the stuff that makes no sense whatsoever (or that sounds like something some crack-smoking monkey would say at 3 AM) winds up being the most cost effective and best outcome intervention.

Common sense is overrated, my friends. P values are not. Woohoo!

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Boxer vs. Garrett: Boxer wins

MedPol: the execution of the innocent?

With less than two weeks left in Gov. Mark R. Warner's term, time is running out for him to arrange DNA testing that could determine whether Virginia sent an innocent man to the electric chair in 1992.
As Warner is my preliminary choice for the 2008 Dem presidential candidate, this could be some super publicity for a guy who already has a strange relationship with the death penalty, given that Virginia has some pretty overzealous death penalty administration.

Apparently DNA testing at the time was sketchy for reasons the article doesn't particularly illuminate. But it was 1992. And I wasn't exactly familiar with DNA testing in 1992. So who knows.

But at least a handful of folk think this dude was innocent:
Coleman was convicted and sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of 19-year-old Wanda McCoy, his wife's sister, who was found raped, stabbed and nearly beheaded in her home in the coal mining town of Grundy.

The case drew international attention as the well-spoken Coleman pleaded his case on talk shows and in magazines and newspapers. Time magazine featured the coal miner on its cover. Pope John Paul II tried to block the execution. Then-Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's office was flooded with thousands of calls and letters of protest from around the world.

Coleman's attorneys argued that he did not have time to commit the crime, that tests showed semen from two men was found inside McCoy and that another man bragged about murdering her. Coleman was executed on May 20, 1992.

"An innocent man is going to be murdered tonight," the 33-year-old said moments before he was electrocuted. "When my innocence is proven, I hope America will realize the injustice of the death penalty as all other civilized countries have."
Let's hope so.

Another Postage Increase? Damn USPS!!

Many curse the post office for every rate increase (the latest in 2002), some arguing it should be much cheaper and government subsidized and others arguing it should be privatized (along with schools, prisons, and social security). In this case the Post Office is NOT raising rates because of a huge deficit (take note Federal Government). It actually paid off its outstanding debt (down from $11.3 billion in 2002) and grossed $1.4 billion net. Rather Congress (in 2003) requires the post office to contribute $3.1 billion to an escrow account annually. So in order to make this escrow contribution you and I have to pay an extra 2 cents starting January 8th, with increases across the board. The history and politics of this decision are well covered in DIRECT, a direct mail publication.

The backstory to this rate proposal quandary dates to 2002, when the Office of Personnel Management found that the USPS was about to make an overpayment of more than $70 billion into a fund for the costs of retirement benefits relating to military service. Many retired postal workers are eligible for such military pensions. The [Direct-Mail] industry and other parties lobbied successfully to get the U.S. Treasury to take over those costs. But instead of putting the $70 billion back in USPS’ coffers, and largely because of what Del Polito terms “a lack of trust” between some members of Congress and the USPS, legislators passed a bill that put that overpayment into an escrow account.

That law, P.L. 108-18, expired at the end of 2004, and CongressÂ’ questions about the USPSÂ’ ability to handle its money have long been answered, Del Polito says. But because the escrow provision was written into law, the USPS needs another law to get out from under the required payments. That new law has proven difficult to get through Congressional committees, and even more difficult to get signed by President Bush, because it has become tangled up with budget-deficit considerations.
And if the USPS is still under requirement to pay into the escrow account when that next rate case is filed in 2006, it could propose a rate increase of as much as 8% to 10%. ThatÂ’s on top of the 5.4% rate hike the USPS wants in 2006. In other words, direct mailers could face a 13% to 15% rate increase in the course of the next two years.

But Del Polito points to one over-riding interest that may prevent either of these bills from becoming law: the Bush administration. President Bush was able to stall two similar bills last year with a veto threat. And while he hasn’t vetoed any bills yet this year, his administration has signaled “concerns” that will need to be addressed if the two bills get to a conference and then find their way to the President’s desk.

The chief White House concern is that any bill be revenue-neutral. The postal escrow payments have already been projected as income into the multi-year federal budget; eliminating them will put that budget even further into deficit than currently projected. So the White House wants to see those erstwhile escrow payments applied instead to the USPSÂ’ unfunded health liability for its retirees.

So remember on January 8th when you buy those 2 cent stamps you are really helping to pay off a federal deficit (and not one of those good deficits that comes from bloated social programs); your small contribution is subsidizing capital gains tax cuts and wars in other countries. Although if you're a student you've already made a much bigger contribution by shouldering one of the largest cuts in aid for higher education in this nation's history.

Sharon in Critical Condition After Suffering 'Extensive' Stroke

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a serious stroke on Wednesday night and underwent more than eight hours of emergency brain surgery in an effort to save his life, a hospital official said. As of 9:00 a.m. local time today (2:00 a.m. EST), Mr. Sharon was in intensive care, in stable but critical condition, with the massive bleeding in his brain having been stanched. But his prospects for a full recovery are considered very slim.
Sounds like he's been in the OR twice in twenty four hours and is currently being sedated and ventilated (probably slightly hypercapnic). I'm just guessing this might affect the Arab-Israeli relations. Another article from Reuters specifically talks about these issues:
Doubt hung over whether Israel's giant shift toward the political center -- engineered by Sharon just weeks ago after completing a Gaza pullout -- could survive even until March elections that he had looked certain to win.
Sharon's new centrist party Kadima not only lacks any other leader with his record or ability to forge a new political force, it does not even have a list of election candidates. That may have existed nowhere but in Sharon's head.
"Sharon is Kadima and Kadima is Sharon," wrote Nadav Eyal of the mass-market Maariv newspaper.

Some compared the feeling to the night in 1995 that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.