Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Link Roundup: Comeback Edition

Alpha: JJ Abrams is going all kinda crazy on the new Star Trek movie. Brilliant casting movies include: Zachary Quinto (Sylar, from Heroes) as an iteration of Spock, Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead!) as Scotty, and John Cho (Harold, not Kumar) as Sulu. Could a Star Trek movie be a date movie? And can a Korean guy really play a Japanese guy in the 23rd century?

Beta: Wii Goodness: Wii Fit will be released in the states in 2008, giving West Virginia law makers something other than DDR to put in schools. I welcome my Nintendo weight-loss overlords, having just played some Wii Sports for the first time last night.

Gamma: Damn you, Jared! Cornell researchers find that folks underestimate the number of calories in a meal from Subway compared to McDonald's, because Subway is "healthier."

"We found that when people go to restaurants claiming to be healthy, such as Subway, they choose additional side items containing up to 131 percent more calories than when they go to restaurants like McDonald's that don't make this claim," said Brian Wansink, Cornell's John S. Dyson professor of marketing and applied economics and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, in a news release.

"In estimating a 1,000 calorie meal, I've found that people on average underestimate by 159 calories if the meal was bought at Subway than at McDonald's," said Wansink.

That extra 159 calories could lead to an almost five-pound weight gain over a year for people eating at Subway twice a week compared to choosing a comparable meal at McDonald's with the same frequency, he said.

Delta: File under "study that has lots of data but no useful or surprising information." The Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics issued a report stating that "personal care," "food preparation and serving," "community and social services," and "health care" workers have the highest rates of depression (and women are about twice as depressed in most of those fields as men). "Installation, maintenance and repair" and "engineering, architecture, and surveyors" have the lowest rates of depression. Self-selection much?

Epsilon: File under "stuff people didn't pay nearly as much attention to as they should have." A Pittsburgh physician (NOT associated with WPIC) was finally charged in August with involuntary manslaughter after a boy died of cardiac arresting while receiving chelation therapy for autism. It looks like the kid died from a possible mix-up:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the boy was given a synthetic amino acid to rid his body of heavy metals, instead of a similar chemical with a calcium additive. Both are odorless, colorless liquids and may have been confused, the CDC found.
When you make a mistake giving real medical care, it's a tragedy, but bad things do happen to good people. When you kill someone with fake medical care that preys upon the hopes and vulnerability of loving parents, you deserve criminal charges, and a firm kick in the nuts.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Blogging Vacation

So, as I went back to full-time med school after finishing my master's, and finished up my residency application, I listed this blog as one of my "hobbies." Apparently something about claiming "ownership" freaked me out, or I was just busy, and I entirely got out of the habit of blogging. I kept bookmarking links and sticking them in a "bloggables" folder on my Firefox toolbar (and even opened a "bloggables2" folder, since the first one was so full), but I could never convince myself to actually sit down for the handful of minutes it might take to throw together something. The longer I took off, the more obligated I felt that my posts had to be really good, and few bloggers with real lives have time to make every post really good.

So, I tossed and turned, and almost decided to throw Sparkgrass to the wolves. It's hardly a community anymore, as Zuck, Pepper, and Geoff are swamped interns, and Kyle has finished up his Oxford thesis, and, while his personal blog is wonderful, he's just not as interested in the sorts of things that fit here. So, it's just me. And applying for residencies has brought, front and center, the idea that some day pretty soon, folks are going to be calling me doctor. That nauseates me, in an appropriate way. As a med student, your goal is to learn, and make the lives of the people in front of you feel better as they navigate the system. You learn how to be a decent colleague, and learn a very special kind of responsibility. At least, you're supposed to learn a special kind of responsibility, and I think I am doing so, but some of your colleagues make you wonder if they ever did. As a person that someone calls doctor, you're somebody who makes binding decisions for somebody's daily health. If someone feels like they're going to throw up, or sedated, or agitated, that might be because of the meds I proposed as their best bet. If you give a shit about the lives of the folks in front of you (and I certainly do), that's a huge deal.

I'll have patients googling me someday soon, and they'll find this site. That's weird.

I've missed a lot of world-changing events in my vacation from blogging; S-CHIP, Larry Craig, and a new Radiohead album all come immediately to mind. I'm not sure I had anything intelligent to say about any of these things that Ezra Klein or Matt Yglesias didn't say before I even heard the stories.

So, Sparkgrass is here to stay. But I have to acknowledge its limitations, and my limitations. I'm probably going to find a new, more anonymous blogging home sometime soon (a few offers on the table) where I'll get much more exposure than a personal, blogger-run site can offer. But I have to wait for S-CHIP to blow over. There are way too many people who either a) know more about health policy than I do, or b) simply THINK they know more about health policy than I do, but blather on and on and on, for me to hop in the debate there.