Archive for the ‘medicine’ Category

Time for a Change, for a Tree Change

May 4, 2016

My wife took up a hobby last year: doll rescue.

Seems a lot of people were distressed over the image of young women being portrayed by new doll lines for young females – like the Bratz dolls.

Some think the dolls were promoting an image of… well, let’s just say it: streetwalkers.

Of course, some people don’t see it that way… to each their own.

What is interesting though is what is happening on the business side of this niche industry. And mostly on the Etsy shopping platform.

One of the most successful promoters in this market is Sonia Singh, and her business called “Tree Change Dolls”. And apparently the success has gone to her litigious bone.

Any vendor on Etsy that uses the word “tree” in their product name is shut down. Same with the word “change”. BAM! Shut down.

One store, Channeling Martha, was closed by Etsy because their keywords included “tree house” and “spare change”… Whoa! Doesn’t that just sing!? Unfortunately, that is dangerously close to “tree change”, isn’t it? (other terms others seem forbidden to use now include “repaint” & “made-under”. Sheesh! What’s next?)

Then there is another store that sold knitting patterns for doll-sweaters. She had been selling these things even before Ms. Singh came along. Apparently, since the late-coming Tree Change dolls wear knitted sweaters – and other sweaters might present something like… you know, competition… so naturally Ms. Singh had that shut down as well.

Perhaps Sonia got her break-out from forcing other shops to bend to her interpretation of the universe although perhaps this attitude only came about after she had achieved success. Perhaps this is the only method of protecting her marketshare she can think of. And it works, most certainly, the Mafia used it quite successfully in the twenties when they were running booze and guns. And if it worked so well back then, why not?

But I’m not exactly sure how long Ms. Singh is going to allow people to keep using her other favorite word: “dolls”.

I should imagine that soon anyone wanting to sell dolls on Etsy will have to use some other identifier meaning “dolls”. What it might be, I don’t know, but I am sure some creative people will… well, get creative.

Meanwhile, Etsy has become the storm-trooping arm of the Tree Change Dictatorship. (Hey, does anyone know if this lady is related to Kim Il Jong? Uh, maybe not.)

I told my wife, next time find a safer hobby, like skeet shooting in Tehran.

the Road Ahead… looks pretty bumpy

June 6, 2013
courtesy of Candie_N(Welcome Spring)@flickr

courtesy of Candie_N(Welcome Spring)@flickr

Bill Gates retired from head of the Microsoft Corporation and it doesn’t seem to have helped the programmers over there make a better product. Of course, they are still saddled with the digital infrastructure he “master-minded” (and I use the term lightly).

Meanwhile, Bill and Melinda have tried to do something meaningful with their fortune. The Gates Foundation has tackled illness around the world and soon announced they had eradicated malaria!

That’s a pretty good start, most people comment… but someone should have told the Gates and their sycophants that “eradicated” ailments have a very nasty tendency to return ten times worse. Yes, sadly, eradication seems to be just what most of these things need to become stronger.

So, I would say the road ahead looks pretty grim for the next generation of people who contract the new, improved malaria super bug.

And fresh from their “conquest” of malaria, the Gates have decided to take on the problem of education in America.

With the fellow’s track record in business monopoly and virus eradication, most people are certain a solution is just around the corner.

Yes, Bill is now being recognized as an “authority” on education and how to fix the system.

Looking around the internet, finding educational formulas that have actually “worked” in real practice one can see the whole concept of testing has to be trashed. It has been shown over and over to be the failing point of the educational system.

So, what does the Gates Foundation suggest as a fix? More testing! And not just for the students but for the teachers as well!!

As Bill so quaintly put it, teachers will be graded and those whose marks are not up to a certain benchmark will be fired.

Wonderful. Testing to a grade does not work so he suggests we expand the system to include the teachers as well! This guy is completely unbelievable!

I can see another bumpy road ahead.

Perhaps Bill should have stuck with his burgeoning stand-up career. Buffoonery elsewhere is so unbecoming.

Actually, if Bill wants to put his money someplace that would actually benefit mankind, why doesn’t he hire the best and brightest minds in the digital realm – any verify none of them program in Microsoft products – in order to build an operating system that actually works. You know, like the first time… without bugs, crashes, and failures… you know, like Windows.

With all the money he has, I am sure he could put together a crack team to put the thing together.

And if he could keep from trying to “roll up his sleeves” and interfere, we might actually have a decent computer on the market.

I mean, besides the Apple.

Another Pair of Mixed Messages

March 7, 2013


I saw a couple of interesting stories today.

The first was another attempt to topple another hero.

No, not Lance Armstrong this time, but Mother Theresa. Yes, you heard me, Mother Theresa!

They are saying she was not so saintly after all. Apparently, her foundation raised over a hundred million dollars and yet the clinics she had for people in India were rustic, ill-equipped.

People say it was because she “didn’t really care about the people”. Yeah, right.

The article said she could have easily built completely modern clinics with all that modern medicine has to offer.

Ahem… enter article two…

A new “super” bacteria is spreading.

These little guys are impervious to antibiotics and seem pretty much unstoppable.

But how do people get these things anyway?

Well, by taking antibiotics and spending time in hospitals.

You know, those very modern facilities that Mother Theresa refused to build for her patients in India…


What do you know?

She really was a saint, wasn’t she?

Another Martyr?

January 13, 2013

I read about a young man named Aaron Swartz who was so upset about his upcoming trial and pending jail time that he committed suicide.

Sure, it is always sad when young people (he was only 26) take their own lives when faced with really difficult situations. It is hard on the family and the friends as well as, in this case, people who were followers of the young man.

You see, he was a leader in the cause of free and open internet access. He did not believe things should be kept FROM people if it was data that should be freely accessible. And rather than make some new version of the FOIA, he created a manifesto and started a digital revolution.

Several articles say he was a martyr for the cause…

They claim he was a suicide…

Both claims are just wrong. Having been suicidal – in my younger days, so you don’t have to worry… they canceled that “suicide watch” some forty years ago – I have a pretty good understanding of what that entails. I have done volunteer work as a suicide watcher for cases of very depressed people and I don’t believe the very depressed kill themselves.

Why? Suicide is self-murder. Murder is a crime of passion and self-hatred is usually beyond the framework of the clinically depressed. They are usually so apathetic that though they may think of suicide, it is more a case of “what’s the use?” and though some may take too many pills or some such, a hangman’s noose is a little too active for those depressed. (I am, of course, not an “expert” in this field and I am sure I will get complaints from professionals in the area who will say I am dead wrong. Or something.)

The young man did not let on to anyone that he was A) despondent, B) depressed, or C) suicidal. There was no note, nor any clue as to the why of his action. And as his lawyers were fairly certain he was going to walk for his supposed crimes, what was his rationale for ending it all?

As for the man being a martyr… It is a subject I have studied in some depth (see my forthcoming volume How to Be a Martyr (or Die Trying) for more details) and I cannot see how an intelligent person would have chosen this method for martyrdom.

There should have been some statement about the reasons behind his death, whether a suicide note, a rant about his cause(s), or something.

Yet the press is calling it a suicide and a martyrdom when it seems to be nothing more than a simple murder. Conspiracy theorists are probably going to be all over this one but I cannot see that a conspiracy is required for someone to have had a motive.

Whether or not the police ever investigate the case further, there is another death recently that comes to mind. In July, a Chicago man, Urooj Khan, won the lottery and then dropped dead. It was reported as a simple “death by natural causes”.

Several members of his family fought to have more done on the case as they suspected foul play. It took four months before they re-examined the evidence and found cyanide. It has now been declared a homicide.

I can see something like this happening in Swartz’ case. Suicide and martyrdom make absolutely no sense. Revolutionaries and visionaries are not in the habit of bailing out when the going gets tough.

At least, none that I have ever seen.

I Got Your Back… Covered

January 21, 2012

A few years ago I heard a report that the incidence of cancer from second-hand smoke was actually greater than that of smokers.

My wife said she thought she would have a better chance if she took up smoking.

I thought this should have been a signal to the tobacco-growers to start promoting their product as a “health treatment” or at least its adoption by the American Cancer Society as a new method of decreasing the cancer death rates.

Nothing of the sort came to pass and the law suits against the tobacco companies grows exponentially every year, at horrendous cost to the taxpayer. (And if you don’t think it affects you, a non-smoker, you ought to recall the government’s affection for bailing out companies in financial trouble.)

Personally, I think cancer is a very bad thing that they still need to do a LOT of research on.

In the 1950’s, my father was a research chemist and worked on a project to find what manufactured substances were carcinogenic.

They would shave the backs of small white mice and coat their skin liberally with the substance being tested.

Nicotene… carcinogenic. Tars… carcinogenic. Teflon… carcinogenic. Petroleum distillates… carcinogenic.

It seemed that so much of what was being produced industrially was actually carcinogenic. A lot could be made of that data by the nature groups or the eco-friendly organic crowd, but Dad was not involved in any of that.

Instead, he tried a simple control group. He shaved the mice, as usual, and applied pure unadulterated water to their skin. And after a couple of days: water… carcinogenic!

He could not believe the results so he tried one more control group: he shaved the backs of a group of mice and put absolutely nothing on them.

And do you know what?

Shaving backs… carcinogenic!!

I have wondered since if the studies being done today are of the same high caliber as those Dad conducted in the ’50’s. I mean, they still find that almost everything we touch is carcinogenic.

So what is the answer?

Simple, do NOT shave your back!

(Told you, I got you covered.)

Money for Nuthin’

April 8, 2010

It has been about twenty five years since I read a marvelous report about how science, industry, and the government come together to safeguard our society. I am talking about government research grants.

I do not mean to bash ALL the grants (or their recipients) but one grant in particular seemed to me to be the ultimate in useless tax dollar spending: Research to determine what percentage of peanut butter had to be real peanuts in order to be called “peanut butter”. Now here was some real vital high level research whose results would benefit both industry and the consumer (or at least so claimed the grant proposal). And someone over at Commerce (or the FDA) thought it vital enough to grant them half a million dollars ($500,000.00 – and this is 25 years ago!) to determine this necessary statistic.

I never heard the results of the project – perhaps publication of their results was not part of the grant package – but it matters very little. Apparently somebody somewhere in some bureau of our government used the data for something… at least I hope so, for the half million spent.

Personally, I think a proper solution would have been to make the manufacturer print in LARGE figures on the label saying exactly what percentage of the product was peanuts. Then the consumers could decide. Maybe some people prefer a less-peanutty butter than others. This solution would have been better for the consumer AND the industry, as well as saved the grant money for something really important… like the migratory habits of marsupials in the Ouachita Mountains.

I think I would like to come up with an idea for a grant proposal to do as much good for our society, and even more good for me. If anyone has an idea for me to investigate, I would like to become a grant slut and dig deep into that public trough.

Money for nuthin’ at all.

Death by Diagnostic Prejudice

March 25, 2010

It was summer in Maryland, and I could have been indulging myself in sports outdoors with other teens in my neighborhood, but I was attending Biomedical Seminars at NIH for students interested in medical careers. Fun stuff, huh?

On the first day, we watched a film of an operation in which the patient was having a cancerous lung removed. At the point they were lifting the diseased lung from the patient, the doctor running the seminar paused the film and told us to take note of the blackened appearance of the lung. “That is what tars and nicotine will do to a lung,” he said. “Turn it permanently black as coal, and then kill it.”

I did the unpardonable. I raised my hand and asked, “If the tars and nicotine turned it black, why is the other lung still pink and healthy looking? Was he only breathing smoke into only one lung?”

He turned back to the screen and saw that, yes, the other lung was visible and quite healthy looking. His response: “Young man, leave my classroom. And I do not want to see you back in here again.”

Such was my introduction to medical prejudices, as well as to such flim-flam explanations.

Many years later, my father began to have difficulty breathing. He assumed it was some sort of chest cold. But after six months, the condition grew steadily worse and he went to a doctor.

The doctor consulted his chart and saw that my dad had been a smoker – though he currently could no longer indulge that habit – and told dad that it was just a side effect of having smoked for so many years.

I visited dad about a year later and was astonished to find the condition even worse – he could barely walk across the room before he had to stop and catch his breath. I took him to another doctor who looked in dad’s file and delivered the same diagnosis: a smoking ailment. We tried to get him a prescription for oxygen, which seemed to help him while at the hospital, but no doctor would write a prescription for one who so “obviously had the smoker’s ailment”.

Another year passed and we could not get any assistance from a physician anywhere. Finally, his condition got so bad he was admitted to the Veteran’s Hospital, where he could get oxygen for the short duration they would allow him to stay. The Chief Physician told me point blank that they could not take up a permanent bed for someone with “the smoker’s disorder”.

As a last resort, we sent him to the VA Hospital’s Lung specialty unit in Houston. Typical for bureaucracies, his folder was not sent in a timely manner and they were reluctant to see him without the folder. But, fortunately, one doctor saw that his condition was dire and took on his case, even without his medical history folder.

After a couple of simple tests, the doctor returned with the result: dad had walking pneumonia. Fluids had filled most of his lungs, leaving him with only 5% breathing capacity. He marveled that dad had been in this steadily worsening condition for over two years without succumbing. His one comment was, after seeing the xrays and mri of the lungs: “It’s a good thing you never smoked, or this thing would have killed you.”

So much for “blackening of the lung tissue from tars and nicotine”… another medical fiction put to rest.

Armed with proper prescriptions, dad returned to the VA Hospital at home and began the therapy to heal his lungs. A few weeks later, still in the hospital, his lungs were up to 40% capacity when he contracted influenza.

Unfortunately, it killed him.

I like to think that IF there had only been some observant and non-biased doctors, his condition would have been properly diagnosed sooner and he would have been restored to health rather than becoming a martyr to the supremely absolute stupidity of the medical community in America.

I found it gratifying to see that a recent leading news journal proclaimed the #1 cause of death in America is DOCTORS!

Funny, but the news didn’t surprise me in the slightest.

Another Snow Job

March 22, 2010

Spring has finally arrived in the Nation’s Capital and the last of the traces of the snownami that hit the city during Snowmageddon 2010 have disappeared… well, mostly.

Obama has been working long and hard to rid this country of its biggest problem.

No, not the ridiculous war we’ve been involved in for the past eight years that he promised to get us out of quickly – he lied, of course – that problem is minor by comparison.

The problem was the electorate’s aversion to universal healthcare coverage. Ted Kennedy tried for decades to get it passed… it was Bill Clinton’s main thrust – politically, as he did not deal in snow – for his two terms… and now Obama has finally gotten it to pass.

No longer will people have the choices they had in the past as the government tentacles reach ever deeper into our private lives, as well as our pocket books.

Obama could truly be the Lincoln of his age. He makes slaves of the citizenry, not just the states.

Heck, he might even win a Nobel Peace Prize for this.