Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sanity Preserved: Frist not running in 2008

I'd say he should take his ball and go home, but I wouldn't wish such a terrible thing on Tennessee.

Oh wait, Tennessee wished that upon themselves.

I'm not sure how a transplant surgeon magically just reappears onto the scene after 12 years of limited-to-no time in an OR. But anything to get Frist out of politics and away from kitty cats and poor people.

Brilliant: Wii + Stephen Colbert vs Nancy Pelosi

I normally just need any excuse to dedicate some video watching time to Colbert, you're flat out depriving yourself if you don't catch this on.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Politics: Apologetics for Prediction Markets

Bo co-authored an article in TNR explaining how, despite popular lambasting of prediction markets after the midterm elections, their predictive power is as strong as ever.

For those of us with little disposable income and a need for a prediction market fix for mostly popular concerns, Inkling offers a little bit of fun. All my damn inklings are tied up right now though, so much that I can't even sell credit against Michigan to play Ohio State in a title rematch.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Lost: Top 50 Loose Ends

Or the top 50 reasons why we should all violently storm Hawaii for some answers. Or just stop watching. But Lost has crack in it, so I guess we're all stuck.

Sorry about my hiatus from blogging the past few weeks, I've a stack of links ready to go a mile high. We'll see how many of them are still up to date by the time I get around to them.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

MedEthics: 5 kidneys are better than 1

I read this headline in the newspaper today: "Doctors pull off 5-way kidney transplant". Considering that kidney transplants are not cutting edge (and the only impressive part of the feat was the number of simultaneous transplants) I had to ask myself, why would anyone (in this case Johns Hopkins) consider this a good thing? Five simultaneous surgeries with five donors, five recipients, 12 surgeons, and 6 operating rooms. Seems like a recipe for disaster. Apparently the recipients had living donors who weren't matches and so by pooling resources (and one "altruistic donor") there was enough matches to swap kidneys. And the reason they did it simultaneously: "to prevent anyone from backing out later or in case someone fell ill." This seems horrible. That in order to get people to donate life, we have to put them in a dangerous situation, essentially a five way Mexican standoff (put the kidney down and nobody gets hurt) seems horrible. Welcome to the Guinness book of Medical records.

Culture: The War on Christmas

I want you!

I'm serious.

See also "The War on Christmas Explained."

Monday, November 20, 2006

World Leader Slumber Party

I make this post about a NY Times article covering Bush's visit to Vietnam for two reasons. First of all, I find the photo hilarious. And secondly, I find the fact that Bush "sped past the evacuation spot on his arrival here, but made no stops that would invite comparisons to the current debate over whether the United States should stay or retreat from Iraq" also great. I mean, he's in Vietnam, the whole country is a metaphor for Iraq and trying to "downplay" that is hysterical (almost as funny as the photo which pictures President Bush, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, rear, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, foreground).

Safer Driving Through Technology

Apparently new laws in New Mexico requiring car breathalyzers have lead to a significant drop in drunk driving. MADD, as well as several industry groups seem to be moving to increased use of such devices with possible installation on all cars. The article also mentions some neat non-invasive ways of testing, such as a pulse-ox like device that measures blood alcohol (although most medical professionals would call the current breathalyzer pretty non-invasive). My big question was cost, which can add up since the rental of the devices can cost about $2 a day. Additionally, this article brings up a good point about programs that suspend licenses; namely that since people need to drive, they just end up driving without a license unmonitored. (Crazy conservatives please note that this same line of thinking also applies to refusing to issue undocumented aliens drivers licenses.)

Troy W. Prichard, a lawyer who defends people arrested on drunken driving charges, had this to say:

There could be the responsible guy that just lapses that one time. Getting the handcuffs put on him might be all that guy needed to know not to do it again. But, another guy, it may be his first and he’s on the road to 12.
While this is true, it doesn't really contribute much to the issue and supports my belief that lawyers that defend drunk drivers are horrible little creatures with small brains and no sense of right and wrong.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Game: Mutual Contempt

As one of the few impartial observers in Ann Arbor (my Cats are going to a bowl? What?!?!?), I can particularly enjoy the Slate conversation: A Michigan fan and an Ohio State fan explain why they hate each other and who's going to win Saturday's big game.

As hard as I've tried, I just can't really care about college football when college basketball is so much a more beautiful sport. Having said that, I spent last weekend in Columbus with Matz, at a Decemberists concert, only to realize that, damn, Ohio State undergrads really are the most obnoxious drunken pieces of shit on the planet. I doubt Michigan undergrads are golden children, but the fact that most of them can wipe their asses by themselves suggests to me that they're light-years more evolved than the Buckeyes dancing drunk and pummeling my very short wife with their white-fraternity asses.

So I will root for Michigan next week, not because I'll have a few degrees from there, but because I really hope there are some assholes in Columbus who have their hearts broken along with their national championship hopes.

And if not, eh, Kentucky's headed to a bowl! Of course, that means we keep our retard coach, Rich Brooks. I would rather have had another 2-9 season so we could maybe get a coach that, say, any other Div-1 school would want.

Medicine: Replacement parts?

It may sound like science fiction, but apparently it's not! Researchers have announced at this week's AHA mtg that they can grow some replacement organ parts from fluid found in the pregnant uterus. They've actually grown a new heart valve.

What does this mean? Are we all going to have our amniotic fluid collected as we're born and then stored for later life when we need a replacement part? Perhaps. But the more realistic possibility is to use this technology to help replace congential defects shortly after birth.

Sounds exciting - now let's see if the right wing can find something objectionable to it :)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Medicine: Not so fast (or slow, as the case may be)

This article from the NEJM demonstrates why we need better decision making about interventional procedures in medicine. Angioplasty (using a balloon +/- a stent to open a clogged artery) has been praised as the savior of heart disease. As a result, many cardiologists are recommending this procedure to all their patients with evidence of coronary disease or recent infarct (read: lots of $$ for the MD doing the procedure). However, we now have data that shows undergoing angioplasty 3-28 days post-MI is actually more harmful than good. So, while this should cut down on the number of procedures being done, that would be dependant on interventional cardiologists keep up with the latest research AND being willing to cut a procedure that brings in big bucks for them. I hope their oath to patient care comes before their desire to fill their wallets!

Friday, November 10, 2006

LGBT: Civil Unions in Mexico

Even Mexico City, capital of an uber Catholic nation, has approved a bill for same-sex civil unions. And we think we're progressive in the US? Maybe we need to look up (Canada) and look down (Mexico) and say to ourselves, what have they figured out that we still haven't?!?!?!

LGBT: No landscaping for gays?

A company in Houston, TX sent an e-mail to a would-be-customer informing them that they could not landscape this couple's yard because the company refuses to work with homosexuals. I guess it's their right, but seriously? What does cutting grass and planting bushes have to do with who shares a bed? Some people are just so ignorant it's almost funny (if it wern't so scary!).

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

LGBT: Arizona stops a trend

Those "crazy liberals" in Arizona have stopped a trend of late. They are the first state to defeat a proposed constitutional ammendment to ban same-sex marriage. Something tells me all that sun must be good for them :)

Jesus Loves the US: S.D. Rejects Abortion Ban, Missouri Backs Stem Cells

On the day after the first election since I was eligible to vote that I felt the world was a little less screwed than it was before, I'll limit commentary to the two big happy health initiatives. Both demonstrated that our country can, at times, suppress the wingnuts and aspire to reality-based policy. Hurray!

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Granholm needs to fire aids

Now I actually support Governor Granholm, but whoever let her wear this while voting and let her picture be taken should be fired. Can you say . . . frumpy? And I know, lets take a photo while she feebly attempts to slide the ballot into the secrecy sleeve. On top of that, isn't the point of the secrecy partitions and the sleeve to prevent people (say someone with a camera) from seeing your ballot? Other politicians go with the laid back baseball cap look, but somehow they don't look that bad. Am I being harder on her because she's a woman?

I should take back some of my venom from above. Apparently Devos kept his ballot secret, but now all of Michigan is well aware of his bald spot.

LGBT: Transgendered in NY? Ok by the state!

Here is a NY Times article about a change in state policy such that trans individuals can have their gender changed on their birth certificate without having had a sex-change operation.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Politics: Humpty Dumpty: wrong on wall-sitting

All Things Considered has some attack ad voice artists reading nursery rhymes. This is some incredibly funny shit, more than worth your six minutes of listening.

I think they like the way I say liberal.

Politics: Stay the Course, YouTube style

Find it here if the link below is acting funky.

Friday, November 3, 2006

MedEcon: Americans outsource their healthcare

This USA Today article isn't groundbreaking, but it does demonstrate a disturbing trend. Some of the people in this article were insured in the US, but had their requests for hip surgery declined by their insurance. Thus they did what any good capitalist would do and flew to India. Another gentleman had angina and instead of going to an ED, flew to India for cardiac cath and stent placement. Maybe I'm just biased, but it kind of bugs me when Americans (some of the most protected patients in the world when it comes to provider training, drug approval, use of new technology) decide they'd rather get cheap surgery without the protections of US medicine. And I don't see this trend disappearing, as the likelihood of national healthcare continues to increase, healthcare rationing will also rise forcing many to choose an international option to get the procedures they want. And worse yet, when one of these patients gets an infection or restenosis (not because it was done in India but because it happens to some portion of all patients) they'll walk into my ED with no medical records, and maybe a slew of international phone numbers scribbled on a sheet of paper, and demand to be fixed.

The odd thing is that I'm okay with purchasing prescription drugs from Canada, but I find surgical outsourcing to be reckless and horrible. Is there really that much difference between the two?

Politics: John Kerry

Dialogue the Third: Democrates and Republius discuss the recent controversy at Gladly Suffering Fools.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Video Games: Trailer for next killer Zelda

Medicine: All the public hears from Star*D IV: A New Hope, and more on SSRIs and childhood suicide

For depression relief, try variety of medications
Study: Antidepressants help most patients if they sample several kinds
Well that's nice. At least they're not accusing psychiatrists of killing children today. It's amazing that such a landmark study can be distilled into such a vanilla, yet pretty accurate, headline.

Instead, we just have a study of dubious design tying lower suicide rates to higher rates of prescriptions of SSRIs to kids. There's a certain macro-attractiveness about the study design, and as one commenter in the article mentions, at least we know we're probably not creating this raging army of childhood suicides by giving out medicines to try to treat their depression. But the statistical value of such removed exposure and outcomes are pretty minimal, given just how much better we could probably design (more expensive) studies to measure the same outcome so much more accurately.

But it seems like we already have all the info we really need about SSRIs and childhood suicidal behaviors. We know that, in no study, has a kid actually committed suicide because of an SSRI, but that some kids probably have an increase, at least in the short-term, of likelihood of self-harm. Solution: monitor the kids closer! I think we can be comfortable with the idea that sometimes, things have to get worse before they can get better. If we admit such, we can design interventions to minimize dangerous thoughts and behaviors in the critical window following the beginning of treatment in a depressed patient.

Politics: Jesus Hearts Clinton

Frank Lockwood of the Lexington Herald-Leader is showing the American Family Association of Kentucky who's in charge.

If crime rates really are an expression of God's displeasure over "secularization," then what are we to make of the declining rate during the Clinton Administration?

Bible Belt Blogger: "Did Clinton Save America From God's Wrath?"