August 30, 2009

Real Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia?

In tune with the apocalyptic mood of our times, here's a new archeological find in Saudi Arabia that threatens to change the dynamics in the Mid East with consequences no one can imagine.

It may be the biggest archaeological discovery to date, but it is also the most dangerous

Alleged Discovery of 'Real' Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia

A quick look at what has been found easily explains all the fuss. Dr. Moller points out that the site at Nuweiba he identifies as the Red Sea crossing point has an underwater land bridge, upon which damaged [6] chariot parts and bones remain, engulfed in coral. The top of Jabal al-Lawz, the alleged real Mt. Sinai, is black [7], as if burned from the sky as described in Exodus 19:18, where it says “the Lord descended upon it in fire.” This feature sets it apart from all the other surrounding mountains which do not have darkened tops. The BASE Institute’s film shows Cornuke, who snuck onto the mountain, examining the rocks he cracked, observing that they are not merely black rocks and that only the outside had become darkened by whatever had occurred at the site. Moller has a photo of one of these rocks, which he identifies as “obsidian or volcanic glass, a mineral formed at high temperatures.”

Mt. Sinal Jabal Al Lawz
Is Jabal al-Lawz the real Mt. Sinai where Moses encountered God?

One of the greatest — and most doubted — miracles of the Exodus is the story about God instructing Moses to hit a large rock with his rod, which resulted in a flow of water for the Hebrews to drink from. Near Jabal al-Lawz is a large rock, standing about 60 feet high, split [8] down the middle. The edges of the split and the rock underneath it have become smooth, as if a stream of water had poured forth from the rock, creating a river. Given the annual rainfall in Saudi Arabia and the fact that the erosion is only present on that rock and no other ones in the surrounding area, it’s hard to find a plausible explanation for this remarkable find.

 Moses Rock

Is this the rock Moses struck to bring forth water in the desert?

I'm certainly going to keep my eye out the new documentary, The Exodus Conspiracy .

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:32 PM | Permalink

EIS on Health Care Bill UPDATED with another great idea

I think this is the most sensible public policy suggestion I've ever heard and there's no chance it will happen in my lifetime.

Where's the Environmental Impact Statement on Health Care?

You know how that the Congress in its infinite wisdom has outlawed incandescent light bulbs beginning in 2012 so that we will all have to use those corkscrew  fluorescent bulbs with the lousy weak light that require hazardous waste disposal when they break or burn out and they burn out far more quickly than they are supposed to - all to save energy?

Well, Howard Brandston in the Wall St Journal writes Save the Light Bulb! is of the same mind.

Will some energy be saved? Probably. The problem is this benefit will be more than offset by rampant dissatisfaction with lighting. We are not talking about giving up a small luxury for the greater good. We are talking about compromising light. Light is fundamental. And light is obviously for people, not buildings. The primary objective in the design of any space is to make it comfortable and habitable. This is most critical in homes, where this law will impact our lives the most. And yet while energy conservation, a worthy cause, has strong advocacy in public policy, good lighting has very little.

He makes a brilliant suggestion, but calls it a modest proposal to try out in public buildings,  congressional offices  and in the homes of elected officials for 18 months

Based on the data collected, the Energy Independence and Security Act and energy legislation still in Congress would be amended to conform to the results of the test. Or better yet, scrapped in favor of a thoughtful process that could yield a set of recommendations that better serve our nation's needs by maximizing both human satisfaction and energy efficiency.

As a lighting designer with more than 50 years of experience, having designed more than 2,500 projects including the relighting of the Statue of Liberty, I encourage people who care about their lighting to contact their elected officials and urge them to re-evaluate our nation's energy legislation so that it serves people, not an energy-saving agenda.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:52 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Placebo effect = a reasonable expectation of getting better

In Wired, Placebos getting more effective.  Drugmakers are desperate to know why.  So what's the problem?

In a 1955 paper titled "The Powerful Placebo," published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Beecher described how the placebo effect had undermined the results of more than a dozen trials by causing improvement that was mistakenly attributed to the drugs being tested. He demonstrated that trial volunteers who got real medication were also subject to placebo effects; the act of taking a pill was itself somehow therapeutic, boosting the curative power of the medicine. Only by subtracting the improvement in a placebo control group could the actual value of the drug be calculated.
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Beecher's
double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial—or RCT—was enshrined as the gold standard of the emerging pharmaceutical industry. Today, to win FDA approval, a new medication must beat placebo in at least two authenticated trials.

Beecher's prescription helped cure the medical establishment of outright quackery, but it had an insidious side effect. By casting placebo as the villain in RCTs, he ended up stigmatizing one of his most important discoveries.
The fact that even dummy capsules can kick-start the body's recovery engine became a problem for drug developers to overcome, rather than a phenomenon that could guide doctors toward a better understanding of the healing process and how to drive it most effectively.

After prodding by Potter and others, the NIH focused on the issue in 2000, hosting a three-day conference in Washington. For the first time in medical history, more than 500 drug developers, doctors, academics, and trial designers put their heads together to examine the role of the placebo effect in clinical trials and healing in general.
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Ironically, Big Pharma's attempt to dominate the central nervous system has ended up revealing how powerful the brain really is. The placebo response doesn't care if the catalyst for healing is a triumph of pharmacology, a compassionate therapist, or a syringe of salt water.
All it requires is a reasonable expectation of getting better. That's potent medicine.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:59 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 28, 2009

GoD and DoG

This is a wonderful piece by WJ Francisco

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:00 PM | Permalink

The slightly bewildered surgeon and writer that has me captivated

Atul Gawande is one of the those writers I never miss.  Writing in the Annals of Medicine  in The New Yorker, he writes unforgettable articles that have illuminated the world of medicine for me like no one else.  They "open up like an umbrella" said his New Yorker editor Henry Finder.

Some of my favorites are:

The Cost Conundrum
The Itch
The Checklist
The Way We Age Now

 Atul Gawande

So I was quite interested in this profile on Atul Gawande in Harvard Magazine, Surgeon, Health Policy Scholar and Writer.

On the desk in his office at the Brigham is a framed copy of Sylvia Plath’s poem “The Surgeon at 2 a.m.” She describes a patient’s innards as “tubers and fruits/Oozing their jammy substances.” From the surgeon’s perspective, she writes: “I worm and hack in a purple wilderness.” Gawande notes that Plath, not a surgeon, nevertheless got things just right. “That,” he says, “is the really amazing thing, and that’s the difference between me and a real writer.”

He likes the Plath poem because it casts the surgeon in an ambiguous light. “Most writing about people in medicine casts them as either heroes or villains,” he says. “That poem captures the surgeon as a merely human, slightly bewildered, a little bit benighted person in a world that is ultimately beyond his control.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:06 PM | Permalink

Oh well

Technical difficulties that cropped up just before I went away out of town prevented my from blogging.  I had to call in a professional when I got back.  I expect to be posting on a fairly regular basis from here on out.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:04 PM | Permalink

August 27, 2009

test

a test

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:14 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2009

Lunar rainbows

Who knew that Yosemite was a hotspot for lunar rainbows also known as moonbows

 Lunar-Rainbow Yosemite

Here's what the pioneering naturalist John Muir wrote about seeing such a sight in his 1912 book, The Yosemite.

“This grand arc of color, glowing in mild, shapely beauty in so weird and huge a chamber of night shadows, and amid the rush and roar and tumultuous dashing of this thunder-voiced fall, is one of the most impressive and most cheering of all the blessed mountain evangels.”

Thanks to Environmental Graffiti who has much more on The Elusive Beauty of Lunar Rainbows.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:36 PM | Permalink

Chocolate 'cuts death rate' in heart attack survivors

I'm putting together a post about all the good ideas for health care reform, but I couldn't resist this

Chocolate 'cuts death rate' in heart attack survivors 

PARIS (AFP) – Heart attack survivors who eat chocolate two or more times per week cut their risk of dying from heart disease about three fold compared to those who never touch the stuff, scientists have reported.

Smaller quantities confer less protection, but are still better than none, according to the study, which appears in the September issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Earlier research had established a strong link between cocoa-based confections and lowered blood pressure or improvement in blood flow.

It had also shown that chocolate cuts the rate of heart-related mortality in healthy older men, along with post-menopausal women.

But the new study, led by Imre Janszky of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, is the first to demonstrate that consuming chocolate can help ward off the grim reaper if one has suffered acute myocardial infarction -- otherwise known as a heart attack.

"It was specific to chocolate -- we found no benefit to sweets in general," said Kenneth Mukamal, a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and a co-author of the study.
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"Our findings support increasing evidence that chocolate is a rich source of beneficial bioactive compounds," the researchers concluded.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:30 PM | Permalink

Remarkable statement by American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is "deeply disturbed"  by the uninformed public comments President Obama continues to make

Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation plus patient follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation. Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for this service.

Three weeks ago, the President suggested that a surgeon’s decision to remove a child’s tonsils is based on the desire to make a lot of money. That remark was ill-informed and dangerous, and we were dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons make decisions about recommending operations based on what’s right for the patient.

We agree with the President that the best thing for patients with diabetes is to manage the disease proactively to avoid the bad consequences that can occur, including blindness, stroke, and amputation. But as is the case for a person who has been treated for cancer and still needs to have a tumor removed, or a person who is in a terrible car crash and needs access to a trauma surgeon, there are times when even a perfectly managed diabetic patient needs a surgeon. The President’s remarks are truly alarming and run the risk of damaging the all-important trust between surgeons and their patients.

We assume that the President made these mistakes unintentionally, but we would urge him to have his facts correct before making another inflammatory and incorrect statement about surgeons and surgical care.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:43 PM | Permalink

August 12, 2009

Dirty car art

 Dirty Car Art

The artist is Scott Wade from Texas

The images are so incredible that motorists often stop at traffic lights and jump out of their own cars to admire them.

See more at A life of car grime

He said: 'I lived on a long, dirt road for over 20 years. Our cars were always dirty and I would often doodle in the dust on the rear windows of our cars.

'Mostly I would draw funny faces, then I started experimenting with ways to get shading.

'At first I would use the pads of my fingers and brush very lightly to get grey tones.

'Once I tried using the chewed-up end of a popsicle stick as a brush - I liked the effect, so I started trying paintbrushes, and eventually developed the techniques I use today.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 PM | Permalink

Why the great rush?

So what's the end game and why the great rush?  Mark Steyn tries Untangling the Spaghetti

The end-game is very obvious. If you expand the bureaucratic class and you expand the dependent class, you can put together a permanent electoral majority. By “dependent”, I don’t mean merely welfare, although that’s a good illustration of the general principle. In political terms, a welfare check is a twofer: you’re assuring the votes both of the welfare recipient and of the vast bureaucracy required to process his welfare. But extend that principle further, to the point where government intrudes into everything.
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In the normal course of events, the process takes a while. But Obama believes in “the fierce urgency of now”, and fierce it is. That’s where all the poor befuddled sober centrists who can’t understand why the Democrats keep passing incoherent 1,200-page bills every week are missing the point. If “health care” were about health care, the devil would be in the details. But it’s not about health or costs or coverage; it’s about getting over the river and burning the bridge. It doesn’t matter what form of governmentalized health care gets passed as long as it passes. Once it’s in place, it will be “reformed”, endlessly, but it will never be undone.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:02 PM | Permalink

Paglia calls it Obama's healthcare horror

La Paglia on Obama's healthcare horror


But who would have thought that the sober, deliberative Barack Obama would have nothing to propose but vague and slippery promises -- or that he would so easily cede the leadership clout of the executive branch to a chaotic, rapacious, solipsistic Congress? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom I used to admire for her smooth aplomb under pressure, has clearly gone off the deep end with her bizarre rants about legitimate town-hall protests by American citizens. She is doing grievous damage to the party and should immediately step down.

There is plenty of blame to go around.
Obama's aggressive endorsement of a healthcare plan that does not even exist yet, except in five competing, fluctuating drafts, makes Washington seem like Cloud Cuckoo Land. The president is promoting the most colossal, brazen bait-and-switch operation since the Bush administration snookered the country into invading Iraq with apocalyptic visions of mushroom clouds over American cities.

You can keep your doctor; you can keep your insurance, if you're happy with it, Obama keeps assuring us in soothing, lullaby tones. Oh, really? And what if my doctor is not the one appointed by the new government medical boards for ruling on my access to tests and specialists? And what if my insurance company goes belly up because of undercutting by its government-bankrolled competitor? Face it: Virtually all nationalized health systems, neither nourished nor updated by profit-driven private investment, eventually lead to rationing.

I just don't get it.
Why the insane rush to pass a bill, any bill, in three weeks? And why such an abject failure by the Obama administration to present the issues to the public in a rational, detailed, informational way? The U.S. is gigantic; many of our states are bigger than whole European nations. The bureaucracy required to institute and manage a nationalized health system here would be Byzantine beyond belief and would vampirically absorb whatever savings Obama thinks could be made. And the transition period would be a nightmare of red tape and mammoth screw-ups, which we can ill afford with a faltering economy.

As with the massive boondoggle of the stimulus package, which Obama foolishly let Congress turn into a pork rut, too much has been attempted all at once; focused, targeted initiatives would, instead, have won wide public support. How is it possible that Democrats, through their own clumsiness and arrogance, have sabotaged healthcare reform yet again? Blaming obstructionist Republicans is nonsensical because Democrats control all three branches of government. It isn't conservative rumors or lies that are stopping healthcare legislation; it's the justifiable alarm of an electorate that has been cut out of the loop and is watching its representatives construct a tangled labyrinth for others but not for themselves. No, the airheads of Congress will keep their own plush healthcare plan -- it's the rest of us guinea pigs who will be thrown to the wolves.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 AM | Permalink

When dogs have it better off

Theodore Dalrymple on the British health service, Man vs. Mutt

In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to compare the human and veterinary health services of Great Britain, and on the whole it is better to be a dog.

As a British dog, you get to choose (through an intermediary, I admit) your veterinarian. If you don’t like him, you can pick up your leash and go elsewhere, that very day if necessary. Any vet will see you straight away, there is no delay in such investigations as you may need, and treatment is immediate. There are no waiting lists for dogs, no operations postponed because something more important has come up, no appalling stories of dogs being made to wait for years because other dogs—or hamsters—come first.

The conditions in which you receive your treatment are much more pleasant than British humans have to endure. For one thing, there is no bureaucracy to be negotiated with the skill of a white-water canoeist; above all, the atmosphere is different. There is no tension, no feeling that one more patient will bring the whole system to the point of collapse, and all the staff go off with nervous breakdowns. In the waiting rooms, a perfect calm reigns; the patients’ relatives are not on the verge of hysteria, and do not suspect that the system is cheating their loved one, for economic reasons, of the treatment which he needs. The relatives are united by their concern for the welfare of each other’s loved one. They are not terrified that someone is getting more out of the system than they.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2009

"Is anyone on Capitol Hill or the White House paying attention? "

You've heard a lot about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the $34.2 billion and $51.7 billion respectively it cost to bail them out which is by no means the end.  By the end of next year the continuing cost of bailouts for these two could approach $200 billion. EACH

Now it seems Ginnie Mae and FHA are following in their footsteps.

The Next Fannie Mae

Among the FHA, Ginnie, Fannie and Freddie, nearly nine of every 10 new mortgages in America now carry a federal taxpayer guarantee.

Herein lies the problem. The FHA’s standard insurance program today is notoriously lax. It backs low downpayment loans, to buyers who often have below-average to poor credit ratings, and with almost no oversight to protect against fraud. Sound familiar? This is called subprime lending—the same financial roulette that busted Fannie, Freddie and large mortgage houses like Countrywide Financial.
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Is anyone on Capitol Hill or the White House paying attention? Evidently not,
because on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue policy makers are busy giving the FHA even more business while easing its already loosy-goosy underwriting standards. A few weeks ago a House committee approved legislation to keep the FHA’s loan limit in high-income states like California at $729,750. We wonder how many first-time home buyers purchase a $725,000 home. The Members must have missed the IG’s warning that higher loan limits may mean “much greater losses by FHA” and will make fraudsters “much more attracted to the product.”

In the wake of the mortgage meltdown, most private lenders have reverted to the traditional down payment rule of 10% or 20%. Housing experts agree that a high down payment is the best protection against default and foreclosure because it means the owner has something to lose by walking away. Meanwhile, at the FHA, the down payment requirement remains a mere 3.5%. Other policies—such as allowing the buyer to finance closing costs and use the homebuyer tax credit to cover costs—can drive the down payment to below 2%.
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All of which means that the FHA and Ginnie Mae could well be the next Fannie and Freddie. While Fan and Fred carried “implicit” federal guarantees, the FHA and Ginnie carry the explicit full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

We’ve long argued that Congress has a fiduciary duty to secure the safety and soundness of FHA through common sense reforms. Eliminate the 100% guarantee on FHA loans, so lenders have a greater financial incentive to insure the soundness of the loan; adopt the private sector convention of a 10% down payment, which would reduce foreclosures; and stop putting subprime loans that should have never been made in the first place on the federal balance sheet.

The housing lobby, which gets rich off FHA insurance, has long blocked these due-diligence reforms, saying there’s no threat to taxpayers. That’s what they also said about Fan and Fred—$400 billion ago.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:41 PM | Permalink

The Unexpected Consequences in the Aftermath of Divorce

Years Later, Divorce Complicates Caregiving

My friend Diane Fener, an attorney in Virginia Beach, Va., maintains a busy schedule when she travels to New England to see her parents.

“I make the circuit,” she said. She visits her mother, who for two years has lived in the dementia unit of an assisted living facility in Rhode Island. She visits her father in his apartment about a half-hour away in Massachusetts. And his second wife, Ms. Fener’s stepmother, in a nearby nursing home; she, too, has dementia. And the man who was her mother’s second husband for nearly 20 years.

“Four stops,” Ms. Fener said. “I don’t get as much time with each of them as I’d like.”
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Years after parents split, their children may wind up helping to sustain two households instead of one, and those households can be across town or across the country. Further, unmarried women (whether single, widowed or divorced) face significantly higher poverty rates in middle and old age, according to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (PDF) that AARP published last year.

Diane Fener and her sister and brothers each contribute money to support their mother and father. “I don’t resent any of it,” she said, “but if they hadn’t gotten divorced, their budgets wouldn’t be as strained.” Neither would their offspring’s.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:33 PM | Permalink

Undue influence at the end of life

People are legitimately worried about the end-of-life provisions in the health care bill.  While I am all for end-of-life planning with the necessary documents and I'm also against unnecessary medical treatments that can make the end of life a hell on earth, I believe these are private decisions by the person and the family involved.  When doctors are paid to initiate these conversations and have the ability to execute documents on the spot, I am very concerned that economic and political concerns will have too great an influence on a vulnerable population.

So is Charles Lane, a member of the editorial staff of the The Washington Post, who writes in  Undue Influence

About a third of Americans have living wills or advance-care directives expressing their wishes for end-of-life treatment. When seniors who don't have them arrive in a hospital terminally ill and incapacitated, families and medical workers wrestle with uncertainty -- while life-prolonging machinery runs, often at Medicare's expense. This has consequences for families and for the federal budget.

Enter Section 1233 of the health-care bill drafted in the Democratic-led House, which would pay doctors to give Medicare patients end-of-life counseling every five years -- or sooner if the patient gets a terminal diagnosi

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Patients may refuse without penalty, but many will bow to white-coated authority. Once they're in the meeting, the bill does permit "formulation" of a plug-pulling order right then and there. So when Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) denies that Section 1233 would "place senior citizens in situations where they feel pressured to sign end-of-life directives that they would not otherwise sign," I don't think he's being realistic.


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But Section 1233 goes beyond facilitating doctor input to preferring it. Indeed,
the measure would have an interested party -- the government -- recruit doctors to sell the elderly on living wills, hospice care and their associated providers, professions and organizations. You don't have to be a right-wing wacko to question that approach.

Mickey Kaus puts it more succinctly

Tip for Dems: If you don't want people to think that subsidized, voluntary end-of-of-life counseling sessions are the camel's nose of an attempt to cut costs by limiting end of life care, then don't put them in a bill the overarching, stated purpose of which is to cut health care costs! .

Meanwhile we learn more about Oregon health care from a newspaper in Britain than we do in our own press

The chilling truth about the city where they pay people to die

His body ravaged by cancer, lumberjack David Prueitt barely had the strength to raise the cup to his lips.

In it was a mix of apple sauce and dozens of crushed barbiturate pills, legally prescribed by the 42-year-old's doctor to end his life.

Within minutes, the drugs had started to take effect, the terminally-ill man slipping into unconsciousness as his wife sat by his side.

If all had gone to plan, David would have quickly and peacefully passed away, his breathing becoming more laboured until it eventually stopped altogether.

But it did not happen like that. Instead, after three days in a deep coma, David suddenly woke up. 'Honey?' he said to his wife. 'What the hell happened? Why am I not dead?'

For another 13 days, coherent but racked with pain, David survived before finally succumbing to the disease and dying naturally in his home near Portland, Oregon's most populous city.

In that time he would be transformed from just another death to be recorded under Oregon's policy of assisted suicide into a figurehead for opponents of the U.S. state's deeply controversial Death With Dignity Act.

'He took five times the amount of barbiturates that should kill somebody and he still didn't die,' his older brother Steve told the Daily Mail this week.

'If anything, he should have been brain-dead. But he told us that, while unconscious, he had found himself before God and been told: "Not this way, David." God chose David as his spokesman, absolutely.'

He adds: 'It definitely made it very clear to me that we are not supposed to determine our own deaths.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 PM | Permalink

Good behavior all around

The feel good story of the day

Lost dog saves man with Down Syndrome

 Lostdog

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:42 PM | Permalink

Unlikely life advice

Life advice you're unlikely to hear at a commencement address unless P.J. O'Rourke shows up.

1. Go out an make a bunch of money
2. Don't be an idealist
3. Get politically uninvolved
4. Forget about fairness
5. Be a religious extremist
6. Don't listen to your elders

Pj O'rourke Photo - Credit James Kegley-72Dpi  Now read why he says what he says.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink

August 6, 2009

"Negative Economic Unit"

 Euthanasia -Cashoforclunkers

graphic from American Digest



When Barbara’s lung cancer reappeared during the spring of 2008 her oncologist recommended aggressive treatment with Tarceva, a new chemotherapy. However, Oregon’s state run health plan denied the potentially life altering drug because they did not feel it was "cost-effective." Instead, the State plan offered to pay for either hospice care or physician-assisted suicide.
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The answer is simple. Oregon state officials controlled the process of healthcare decision-making—not Barbara and her physician. Chemotherapy would cost the state $4,000 every month she remained alive; the drugs for physician-assisted suicide held a one-time expense of less than $100. Barbara’s treatment plan boiled down to accounting. To cover chemotherapy state policy demanded a five percent patient survival rate at five years. As a new drug, Tarceva did not meet this dispassionate criterion. To Oregon, Barbara was no longer a patient; she had become a "negative economic unit."

Physicians for Reform want you to know What This Means for You

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:12 PM | Permalink

From the trenches

From the trenches, the perspective of a doctor, ObamaCare and me.

in the past 6 months I have cared for three young children on Medicaid who had corneal ulcers. This is a potentially blinding situation because if the cornea perforates from the infection, almost surely blindness will occur. In all three cases the antibiotic needed for the eradication of the infection was not on the approved Medicaid list.

Each time I was told to fax Medicaid for the approval forms, which I did. Within 48 hours the form came back to me which was sent in immediately via fax, and I was told that I would have my answer in 10 days. Of course by then each child would have been blind in the eye.

Each time the request came back denied. All three times I personally provided the antibiotic for  each patient which was not on the Medicaid approved  list. Get the point -- rationing of care.
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We are being lied to about the  uninsured. They are getting care. I operate  at least 2  illegal immigrants each month who pay me nothing, and the children's hospital at which I operate charges them nothing also.This is true not only on Atlanta, but of every community in America.

The bottom line is that I urge all of you to contact your congresswomen and congressmen and senators to defeat this bill. I promise you that you will not like rationing of your own health.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

August 5, 2009

The Stupidity of Hate Crime Laws

Last week, 89-year-old James von Brunn was indicted for murder, gun law violations and hate crimes for opening fire at the Holocaust Memorial Museum and killing a guard.

Richard Cohen in The Washington Post on The Folly of Hate-Crime Laws

The real purpose of hate-crime laws is to reassure politically significant groups -- blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays, etc. -- that someone cares about them and takes their fears seriously. That's nice. It does not change the fact, though, that what's being punished is thought or speech. Johns is dead no matter what von Brunn believes. The penalty for murder is severe, so it's not as if the crime is not being punished. The added "late hit" of a hate crime is without any real consequence, except as a precedent for the punishment of belief or speech. Slippery slopes are supposedly all around us, I know, but this one is the real McCoy.
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For the most part, hate-crime legislation is just a sop for politically influential interest groups -- yet another area in which liberals, traditionally sensitive to civil liberties issues, have chosen to mollify an entire population at the expense of the individual and endorse discredited reasoning about deterrence.

In von Brunn's case, the hate-crime counts are an obscenity. To suggest that the effects of this attack were felt only by the Jewish or the black communities -- and not, for instance, by your average Washington tourist -- ghettoizes both its real and purported victims. It's a consequence that von Brunn himself might applaud.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink

No children's books printed before 1985 allowed to be distributed

This sounds like the soft totalitarian or at best bureaucratic version of book burning.

Book Dealers Told to Get the Lead Out

Legislation passed by Congress last August in response to fears of lead-tainted toys imported from China became effective last month.

Under it there is a ban on distributing children's books printed before 1985
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Lead was phased out of printer's ink following the 1978 paint ban; lacking a firm date for when it effectively disappeared, the safety commission has ruled that the toxic metal might be found in any book printed before 1985.
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Implementation of the new law has libraries and secondhand bookstores reeling. Although they could pay to have each old book tested, the cost ($300 to $600 a book,  according to the American Library Association) makes that impractical.
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The commission has advised libraries not to circulate old books while the agency reviews the situation. But few libraries have complied, and they complain that they have received contradictory information from the commission.

"We're talking about tens of millions of books," said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the Washington office of the American Library Association. "You've got the commission playing games with the libraries.


The legislation is the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act of CPSIA

Here's a site that explains the law and a blog that tracks efforts to amend the law.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:12 PM | Permalink

Tongue Print

15 Facts You Didn't Know About Your Body

#4. Every person has a unique tongue print

 Tongue-Tattoo

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2009

"Bureaucratic prestidigitation" on obesity

Did you ever wonder how so many Americans became obese, seemingly all of a sudden?

Blue Crab Boulevard explains

The sudden upward spike is actually the result of bureaucratic fiat. The fact is that in 1998 the National Institutes of Health waved its magic wand and simply created the sudden, sharp spike with some bureaucratic prestidigitation:

In 1998, the National Institutes of Health lowered the overweight threshold for BMI 27.8 to 25 to match international guidelines.
The move added 30 million Americans who were previously in the “healthy weight” category to the “overweight” category.

To be amazed and shocked by this shows a basic lack of fact-checking. People who had previously been completely “normal” (as if anyone really were) were suddenly reclassified as obese. Now the bureaucrats are demanding solutions to the crisis they manufactured out of thin air, so to speak.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:26 PM | Permalink

Why are most journalists Democrats?

If you’re a journalist, want to help people and want to tell the truth, what truth are you going to tell? Why, the truth you think helps people, of course!

Technically, that’s the truth.

But it’s very different than the truth.

Why Most Journalists Are Democrats: A View from the Soviet Socialist Trenches

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 PM | Permalink

Bubbleologist

 Real Bubble Man

I never knew there was such a thing as a bubbleologist, but Samsom Bubbleman blows the world's largest free-floating bubble using a top-secret mixture he has developed. 

More amazing photos of Sam Heath - his real name - at the link.  Amazing he makes a living doing what he does best.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:48 AM | Permalink

Your Standing Army

Who knew that a spleen was so important?

Finally, the Spleen Gets Some Respect

Scientists have discovered that the spleen, long consigned to the B-list of abdominal organs and known as much for its metaphoric as its physiological value, plays a more important role in the body’s defense system than anyone suspected.

Reporting in the current issue of the journal Science, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School describe studies showing that the spleen is a reservoir for huge numbers of immune cells called monocytes, and that in the event of a serious trauma to the body like a heart attack, gashing wound or microbial invasion, the spleen will disgorge those monocyte multitudes into the bloodstream to tackle the crisis.

“The parallel in military terms is a standing army,” said Matthias Nahrendorf, an author of the report. “You don’t want to have to recruit an entire fighting force from the ground up every time you need it.”

 Spleen

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:27 AM | Permalink

August 3, 2009

"I ducked. And I waited. And it worked"

That Laura Munson is one very wise woman as you will see when you read, "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear."

Sure, you have your marital issues, but on the whole you feel so self-satisfied about how things have worked out that you would never, in your wildest nightmares, think you would hear these words from your husband one fine summer day: “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did. I’m moving out. The kids will understand. They’ll want me to be happy.”

But wait. This isn’t the divorce story you think it is. Neither is it a begging-him-to-stay story. It’s a story about hearing your husband say “I don’t love you anymore” and deciding not to believe him. And what can happen as a result.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:42 PM | Permalink

August 2, 2009

Awesome

From APOD, what the sun's corona looks like in all its waves and filaments if you digitally process 33 photographs of the solar eclipse in March 2006.

Corona Vangorp

The Big Picture has fine photos of The longest solar eclipse of the century and  the people who turned out for it last week.

 Solar Eclipse July 09

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:17 PM | Permalink

"'Standing fatwa' against Islam's critics"

From Dwight Garner's review, A Turning Ride in Europe as Islam Gains Ground  of Christopher Caldwell's new book.

Through decades of mass immigration to Europe’s hospitable cities and because of a strong disinclination to assimilate, Muslims are changing the face of Europe, perhaps decisively. These Muslim immigrants are not so much enhancing European culture as they are supplanting it. The products of an adversarial culture, these immigrants and their religion, Islam, are “patiently conquering Europe’s cities, street by street.'


"Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West" (Christopher Caldwell)

--
Muslim cultures “have historically been Europe’s enemies, its overlords, or its underlings,” he deposes. “Europe is wagering that attitudes handed down over the centuries, on both sides, have disappeared, or can be made to disappear. That is probably not a wise wager.”
--
The problem, in Mr. Caldwell’s view, is less about sheer numbers than cultural divergence. What’s happening in Europe is not the creation of an American-style melting pot, he writes, because Muslims are not melting in. They are instead forming what he calls “a parallel society.” Newcomers to England now listen to Al Jazeera, not the BBC. They are hesitant to serve in their adopted country’s militaries. (As of 2007, Mr. Caldwell notes, there were only 330 Muslims in Britain’s armed forces.) Worse, these immigrants are bringing anti-Semitism back to Europe.
--
The most chilling observation in Mr. Caldwell’s book may be that the debate over Muslim immigration in Europe is one that the continent can’t openly have, because anyone remotely critical of Islam is branded as Islamophobic. Europe’s citizens — as well as its leaders, its artists and, crucially, its satirists — are scared to speak because of a demonstrated willingness by Islam’s fanatics to commit violence against their perceived opponents. There exists, Mr. Caldwell writes, a kind of “
standing fatwa” against Islam’s critics.
--
It is hard to argue with his ultimate observation about Europe today:
“When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture” (Europe’s) “meets a culture that is anchored, confident, and strengthened by common doctrines” (Islam’s), “it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:16 PM | Permalink

"Grit, it turns out, is an essential (and often overlooked) component of success"

Jonah Lehrer tells us The Truth about Grit in today's Boston Globe

In recent years, psychologists have come up with a term to describe this mental trait: grit. Although the idea itself isn’t new - “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” Thomas Edison famously remarked - the researchers are quick to point out that grit isn’t simply about the willingness to work hard. Instead, it’s about setting a specific long-term goal and doing whatever it takes until the goal has been reached. It’s always much easier to give up, but people with grit can keep going.
--
Grit, it turns out, is an essential (and often overlooked) component of success.
--
The new focus on grit is part of a larger scientific attempt to study the personality traits that best predict achievement in the real world. While researchers have long focused on measurements of intelligence, such as the IQ test, as the crucial marker of future success, these scientists point out that most of the variation in individual achievement - what makes one person successful, while another might struggle - has nothing to do with being smart. Instead, it largely depends on personality traits such as grit and conscientiousness. It’s not that intelligence isn’t really important - Newton was clearly a genius - but that having a high IQ is not nearly enough.

Grit meaning "pluck"  and "spirit" in addition to perseverance is an American word describing a certain American type we don't see much of anymore,

 True Grit

What happened?

Lewis Terman, the inventor of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, ...spent decades following a large sample of “gifted” students, searching for evidence that his measurement of intelligence was linked to real world success. ... Terman also found that other traits, such as “perseverance,” were much more pertinent.  Terman concluded that one of the most fundamental tasks of modern psychology was to figure out why intelligence is not a more important part of achievement: “Why this is so, and what circumstances affect the fruition of human talent, are questions of such transcendent importance that they should be investigated by every method that promises the slightest reduction of our present ignorance.”
--
Unfortunately, in the decades following Terman’s declaration, little progress was made on the subject. Because intelligence was so easy to measure - the IQ test could be given to schoolchildren, and often took less than an hour - it continued to dominate research on individual achievement.

The end result, says James J. Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago, is that “there was a generation of social scientists who focused almost exclusively on trying to raise IQ and academic test scores. The assumption was that intelligence is what mattered and what could be measured, and so everything else, all these non-cognitive traits like grit and self-control, shouldn’t be bothered with.”

Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at UPenn is a pioneer in the study of grit says

“I’d bet that there isn’t a single highly successful person who hasn’t depended on grit.  Nobody is talented enough to not have to work hard, and that’s what grit allows you to do.”

But grit isn’t just about stubborn perseverance - it’s also about finding a goal that can sustain our interest for years at a time. Consider two children learning to play the piano, each with the same level of raw talent and each expending the same effort toward musical training. However, while one child focuses on the piano, the other child experiments with the saxophone and cello. “The kid who sticks with one instrument is demonstrating grit,” Duckworth says. “Maybe it’s more fun to try something new, but high levels of achievement require a certain single-mindedness.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:14 PM | Permalink

Shine your shoes

One of Six Manly Ways to Settle Your Mind

Shining your shoes can seem like a chore, but as many of you discovered during our 30 Days to a Better Man Challenge, the task can actually be quite therapeutic. There’s something about the smell, the tools, and the technique that makes the job really satisfying. Seeing your dingy shoes transformed into shiny masterpieces acts as a nice metaphor for life; a little elbow grease can turn any mess around.

 Shineshoes

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:52 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2009

"What goads one man to suicide goads another to renewed life"

After reading David Warren's latest column, I had to learn more about Tomas Masaryk the founder and first president of Czechoslovakia, a statesman, philosopher and sociologist, who had a most remarkable and exemplary life.

Karl Popper, The Prague Lecture 1994

60 years ago, there lived in the Hradcany Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the great founder of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, and its Liberator President. I deeply admire Masaryk. He was one of the most important pioneers of what I have called, one or two years after Masaryk's death, the Open Society. He was a pioneer of an open society, both in theory and in practice; indeed, the greatest of its pioneers between Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill.
--
Never was a new state – after all, the result of a revolution – so peaceful and so successful, and so much the creative achievement of one man. And all this was not due to the absence of great difficulties; it was the result of Masaryk, s philosophy, his wisdom and his personality in which personal courage, and truthfulness, and openness, played so conspicuous a role.

According to Wikipedia, his doctoral essay at the University of Vienna, was on the phenomenon of suicide which became a book, Suicide and the Meaning of Civilization and that is what David Warren references in The killing fields.

That
suicide is the ultimate subjective act, and thus, in effect, the final act of narcissism, was among the striking observations of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk.
--
It was Masaryk's thesis that
suicide rates, already at historical highs, and climbing, in the more industrially advanced parts of Europe by the 1880s, would continue to rise through the decades ahead, with decreasing religiosity and increasing modernization.
--
This was not so much a question of religious denomination, as of religious practice. There would be a rough, inverse correlation between church attendance and the suicide rate. Later statistical studies have borne this out, and Masaryk thus stands among the few sociologists whose work retains any empirical value.

Masaryk grasped
the difference between depression and hopelessness, which we like to slur over today. Depression only makes one accident-prone; the real self-killer is the absence of hope for the future. This is a distinction that has been vindicated in psychiatric studies of the dying; it points directly to a dimension of human life that is irreducibly moral and religious.
--
People kill themselves for all sorts of stated reasons, but
what goads one man to suicide goads another to renewed life, and the only sound predictor is religious formation.

That's an astounding conclusion, "what goads one man to suicide goads another to renewed life"  and the only sound predictor is religious formation.  Without formation in and practice of  a religion, one has no tools to battle despair, meaninglessness and hopelessness. 

Warren himself concludes in a column whose main focus is euthanasia, the euphemism for murder.

The many symptoms of civilizational decay that lay partly concealed beneath the surface of society only recently came into full view, in the open pornography, the open nihilism, the despairing flippancy, visible throughout our contemporary public life. But the pond was long draining, and it is only now we see fish flopping in the mud.

Euthanasia is the final "life issue," the clincher for what the last pope called "the culture of death." Even when legalizing abortion, we agreed only to the slaughter of human beings we could not see. It was still possible to look away, to pretend we were not killing "real people," only "potential people." But when we embrace so-called "mercy killing," we embrace slaughter not only for the sick and old, but ultimately, the "option" of easy suicide for ourselves. It will be hard to go lower.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:38 PM | Permalink

Harvard Trademarks

Harvard University is facing its worst financial crisis in its 373-year history and Vanity Fair tells the story of Rich Harvard, Poor Harvard

Looking to cut costs, Harvard is cutting out the free coffee at the Baker Center.  Looking to squeeze its assets for all they are worth, Harvard University has filed trademarks claiming rights to some common phrases From the familiar to the mundane:

"Ask what you can do.’’


Used by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to tout everything from the school’s emphasis on public service to its fund-raising efforts.

“Lessons learned.’’

The title of a book series about innovation, leadership and conflict.

“Memo to the CEO.’’

Refers to a business school blog and series of guides.

"Power of ideas at work"

Harvard Business School Publishing slogan.

"The world's thinking"

application pending

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:52 AM | Permalink