Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Any More Intelligent and Discerning Republicans Out There?

Arrgh.  My Linux project is stalled, because I installed Linux on an old hard drive, and it won't recognize the VIA VT6410 chip that has controls my other hard drives, and it won't recognize Windows-formatted ZIP disks.  These problems can be fixed, but it means I'm going to be going back and forth between Windows XP and Linux for a while yet. 

Graphic cribbed from Alaine of Kalilily - visit her siteI do not have the patience right now to write a meaningful essay.  So, taking the easy way out, I link-skipped around and found the weblog, Kalilily Time.  The author, "Elaine of Kalilily," came up with the line I used as the title of this post, the graphic to the right, and points to an article by the conservative/libertarian columnist, Charley Reese:

Vote for a Man, Not a Puppet
by Charley Reese

Americans should realize that if they vote for President Bush's re-election, they are really voting for the architects of war – Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of that cabal of neoconservative ideologues and their corporate backers.

I have sadly come to the conclusion that President Bush is merely a frontman, an empty suit, who is manipulated by the people in his administration. Bush has the most dangerously simplistic view of the world of any president in my memory.

It's no wonder the president avoids press conferences like the plague. Take away his cue cards and he can barely talk. Americans should be embarrassed that an Arab king (Abdullah of Jordan) spoke more fluently and articulately in English than our own president at their joint press conference recently.

John Kerry is at least an educated man, well-read, who knows how to think and who knows that the world is a great deal more complex than Bush's comic-book world of American heroes and foreign evildoers. It's unfortunate that in our poorly educated country, Kerry's very intelligence and refusal to adopt simplistic slogans might doom his presidential election efforts.

This election really is important, not only for domestic reasons, but because Bush's foreign policy has been a dangerous disaster. He's almost restarted the Cold War with Russia and the nuclear arms race. America is not only hated in the Middle East, but it has few friends anywhere in the world thanks to the arrogance and ineptness of the Bush administration. Don't forget, a scientific poll of Europeans found us, Israel, North Korea and Iran as the greatest threats to world peace. 

[...] I will swallow a lot of petty policy differences with Kerry to get a man in the White House with brains enough not to blow up the world and us with it. Go to Kerry's Web site and read some of the magazine profiles on him. You'll find that there is a great deal more to Kerry than the GOP attack dogs would have you believe.

Besides, it would be fun to have a president who plays hockey, windsurfs, ride motorcycles, plays the guitar, writes poetry and speaks French. It would be good to have a man in the White House who has killed people face to face. Killing people has a sobering effect on a man and dispels all illusions about war.

Frankly, I was a bit shocked by the statement, "It would be good to have a man in the White House who has killed people face to face."  But in context, it makes sense. 

If we can't have a Linux geek in the White House, let's have a windsurfer.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Demise of Microsoft Will Be Blogged

This was written and posted using only Mandrake Linux software. 

Sunday, June 27, 2004

More Information on Cymbalta (duloxetine)

The new antidepressant, Cymbalta (generic name: duloxetine) is expected to be released in early July.  Recently, I received some marketing materials from Eli Lilly, the manufacturer.  The point to a website, www.depressionadvances.com.  If you go to the site, you will not see any information about Cymbalta.  That is because the FDA does not allow active promotion of the specific product until the final release date.  Instead, what they do (all pharmaceutical companies do this) is they put out material that paves the way for their product-specific promotion.  Looking at the advance material gives you some idea of how they plan to market the product. 

Another site, www.dualityofdepression.com, allows physicians to register for a dinner program to take place on the launch date: 7/8/2004.  The program will consist of a live televised presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session.  I probably won't go, since it is on a Thursday night, and I usually take my wife to dinner on Thursday night.  Since she is a social worker, it would be within the ethical guidelines for her to attend, but it is not exactly the kind of thing that makes a woman feel special, you know.  I'll see what she thinks about the idea.  Maybe.  Anyway, neither of the Lilly websites really has much information that you can't get somewhere else. 

What is more interesting is the exchange of articles posted on The Carlat Report.  The Carlat Report is a newsletter for psychiatrists, that seems to be a bit of a gadfly.  That is, they like to dismiss the hype and focus on the facts.  Most of their stuff is available only by paid subscription, but they posted the Cymbalta material openly.  In January 2004, they had an article called Cymbalta: Dual the Reuptake, Triple the Hype.  The conclusion:

The statistics are sound, but the presentation is devious. A more ethical approach would be to present only the LOCF results in the abstracts, and to present the unorthodox MMRM results in a separate, secondary section within the body of the paper. But then Cymbalta would come across as just another modestly effective antidepressant-exactly what it is.

Thus, they are not dismissive of the medication, by any means, but they are critical of the marketing.  Eli Lilly, of course, came up with a response.  The response is incredibly dense, with a discussion of statistical methodology.  Carlat wrote a response to the response, which is here.  The counter-response is somewhat dry.  They point out that Lilly's response makes reference to unpublished data.  Carlat points out, rightly, that they will reserve judgment on that.  Once the unpublished data are published and subject to peer review, they will reassess the product. 

If you don't want to view the three PDF's and wade through the numbers, I'll save you some trouble and post the final two paragraphs:

Eli Lilly refutes our implication that duloxetine has no advantages over other antidepressants. Again, that implication was based purely on our reading of the available published data. When we looked at LOCF response and remission rates, we found numbers that were comparable to numbers reported for existing FDA-approved antidepressants (response rates 45-50%, remission rates 31-43%). In its response, Lilly refers to a wealth of unpublished data that sounds impressive; we look forward to seeing it in print.

In conclusion, TCR believes that duloxetine is an effective antidepressant. However, based on the available published data, it does not appear to be as “special” as Eli Lilly would like us to believe. If the accumulating data proves us wrong, be assured that these studies will be featured very prominently in future issues of The Carlat Report.

So far, the TCR conclusion is pretty much what I expected.  Still, even if it turns out that Cymbalta is just another modestly effective antidepressant, it still is a good thing to have available.  every time a new drug becomes available, it turns out to be just the right thing for some subset of patients.  We always need to have more options available. 

Two Ways To Look at It

The Official George W. Bush Blog has posted some poll numbers that are damaging for Bush's reelection hopes.  They try to put a positive spin on it, but fail.  In this post, I show why the nubmers are so damaging, and show how this information can be used to refine the Democratic Party's strategy.  It's a long post, so I put it over on The Rest of the Story

Who Cares About Michael Moore
This is Really Serious

I've published another long-winded political diatribe on The Rest of the Story.  The post points out that Mr. Bush has curtailed the ability of American government scientists to consult with the World Health Organization; in addition, he has cut the number of scientists who can attend an important AIDS conference; and, of possibly greater significance, he is squandering an opportunity to make a real difference in the status of world health, and to repair the damage he has done to the reputation of our country around the world. 

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Exercise in Cognitive Dissonance

Do you think it was socially acceptable for Tricky Dick II to use the four-letter word that begins with the fifth letter of the alphabet?

Do you think it is socially acceptable for a documentary filmmaker to make a film that is openly critical of the President of the United States?

If you answered yes to one, but no to the other, why is it that one is OK but the other is not?

explication of "cognitive dissonance"

Friday, June 25, 2004

A New Blogger writes about the Corpus Callosum

On Diary of a Delusional Dustmote,  Paolo writes about the corpus callosum, in his fifth post:

Thursday, June 24, 2004

A brief intro for those unfamiliar with split-brain syndrome:

A split-brain patient is someone who has had his corpus callosum -- pretty much the only connection between the left and right hemispheres of one’s brain -- severed. This was once done in order to reduce the propagation of epileptic neural activity across the two hemispheres. In other words, to treat epilepsy. Split-brain patients for most purposes will behave just like normal people. It is difficult to recognize them outside of a controlled laboratory setting. But if you find the right tests, what you learn may astonish and even terrify you.

[...] Imagine that there are really two people up there in our heads, but they manage to cooperate and behave as one because there’s this phone line between them called the corpus callosum. But if you disconnect this phone line, all hell breaks loose. It’s worse than a Beatles break-up.

Another dramatic anecdote: one split-brain patient was asked what his dream job would be. The left hemisphere, through speech, said “accountant”. The right hemisphere, by writing with the left hand, said “race-car driver”! [...]

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Opioids, Attachment, and Compulsion:
The Compulsion to Repeat the Trauma

From Netscape News, echoing a report in the journal, Science,  comes this report about the neurobiology of attachment.  To place this in context, it is important to be aware of the fact  that there is a long history of research into the role that the internal opioid system plays in social attachment.  In fact, this recent article is only a small contribution.  It is not clear why it was picked up by the Associated Press.  The opioid system in the brain has been suggested to play a role in addiction, eating disorders, and compulsive repetition of trauma.

In this post, I review the recent news article, then discuss the broader scientific context to show why it is important.  I then review some of the clinical applications of the basic science, including the role that the endogenous opiate system (and some other systems) may play is such conditions as addiction, eating disorders, and compulsive repetition of trauma.  Read the rest at The Rest of the Story

The Deeper Meaning of The Matrix

Academic Psychiatry 28:71-77, March 2004
© 2004 Academic Psychiatry

Media Column

"The Matrix": An Allegory of the Psychoanalytic Journey

David Mischoulon, M.D., Ph.D. and Eugene V. Beresin, M.D.

Dr. Mischoulon is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, and Assistant in Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Beresin is Director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program at Massachusetts General Hospital/McLean Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Beresin is also Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Director of Mental Health and Media at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, and serves as Media Column Editor for Academic Psychiatry. Address correspondence to Dr. Mischoulon, WAC-812, 15 Parkman St., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114; dmischoulon@partners.org (E-mail).

Objective: "The Matrix" has been a huge commercial and critical success and has spawned a series of books and essays exploring the philosophical and religious themes in the story. Methods: The authors propose is that "The Matrix" can be interpreted as an allegory for an individual’s journey into spiritual and mental health, achieved by overcoming one’s intrapsychic conflicts with the help of psychodynamic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. Results: Neo’s story parallels the journey undertaken by the individual who chooses to enter psychotherapy and illustrates several themes of analytic psychotherapy, its benefits, and liabilities. Conclusion: The movie may therefore serve as a teaching tool for psychiatric residents about the goals, functions, and intricacies of psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

New Antidepressant Medication
Cymbalta (duloxetine) to be Released Next Month

Eli Lily, the original makers of Prozac, have a new antidepressant medication.  It is called duloxetine; the brand name in the USA and UK will be Cymbalta.  I was told that they expect to be able to release it for sale on July 8, 2004.  I expect that there will be a considerable media blitz and we all we be subjected to a bunch of hype.  Eli Lilly had a brilliant marketing campaign when Prozac was introduced in 1987.  Cymbalta is not as much of a revolutionary product the way Prozac was.  There is almost nothing in the Blogosphere about this (except for this post, on Corente), so I decided to make a few comments. 

Among the hype will be messages about Cymbalta being effective for pain control, there is some evidence that it might work faster than other antidepressants, and it has a side effect that renders it effective for treatment of urinary stress incontinence.  It will be touted as being weight-neutral, and I expect they will say it is less likely to cause sexual dysfunction than many antidepressants.  Some of these claims may be true, but the fact is, you never really know until a drug has been on the market for at least a year. 

Notes: doctors have been using antidepressants for years to treat chronic pain and stress incontinence.  I would be skeptical of these claims until the studies have been replicated by independent research centers.  Weight gain is notoriously difficult to study.  Some antidepressants, such as Prozac, tend to cause a bit of weight loss early on, but this can be followed by slow, steady weight gain.  It may take years to get the full picture on this.  Studies on sexual functioning are notoriously unreliable, because it is hard to get people to tell the truth about it.  As to the onset of action, the time seen in a study is highly dependent upon the study sample and the methodology used.  I would want to see large head-to-head comparison trials before reaching any conclusion.  Also, as much as people with depression want to get over it quickly, what is much more important is the relapse rate.  Again, it will be a while before we have firm, reliable data on that. 

Much hay will be made over the drug's mechanism of action.  It inhibits reuptake of both serotonin and norepinepherine, much like some of the tricyclic antidepressants, and venlafaxine at higher doses.  You will hear that this "dual mechanism" is better than selective serotonin reuptake inhibition.  Although it is tempting to believe this, there is not a lot of evidence to support the hypothesis.  we still are not very good at inferring the clinical effect of a drug based upon the in-vitro  pharmacology. 

Some of the initial claims may be true.  I am just pointing out that one must be cautious with the initial claims about any new product.   I expect that Cymbalta will turn out to be a useful drug for many people.   I also expect that, when the dust settles, it will turn out to have exactly the same effectiveness, on average, as all existing antidepressants.  To the individual patient, though, the average effectiveness is not important.  What is important to the individual, is how effective the drug is for him or her. 

Advice?  The Corpus Callosum is reluctant to give advice.  But there are a few things I would like to mention:
  • Unless there is a specific reason to do otherwise, it is best to wait until a new drug has been on the market for about six months before considering it for routine use.
  • For patients who have failed multiple adequate medication trials, a new drug might be worth trying.  To count as an adequate trial, you have to have been on a drug at the maximum dose for at least six weeks.  And you have to take it reliably, be adequately nourished, and not poison yourself with alcohol while taking the drug, for the trial to count as an adequate trial.
  • Similarly, if you are going to try a new drug, it is very important to give it a fair trial.  This means taking it exactly as prescribed, at an adequate dose, for an adequate duration, in the absence of factors that would be expected to diminish its effectiveness. 
  • Patients with depression who are already taking a drug for stress incontinence might be able to treat both conditions with one drug, using duloxetine. 
  • Remember that little will be known about drug interactions with any new drug.  There are theoretical reasons to think that Cymbalta will have few significant interactions, but remember that we are not very good about inferring the clinical effect of a drug based upon the in-vitro  pharmacology.  Therefore, if you take several different medications, be extremely cautious about any new drug. 
  • Initially, there will be no data about the use of the drug in women who are pregnant or breast feeding.  Women of childbearing age should keep this in mind, regardless of how many times they have said "it won't happen to me."
I expect to have more to say about this soon.

Notes on Humility

A few years ago, my son and I went out to fly some model rockets.  We didn't have a correct size engine, though.  Having had a lot of experience with Estes rockets as a kid, I thought I knew all there was to know about the subject.  We had an engine that was one step more powerful than what Estes recommended for that model, and I though it would be fine to use it. 

The rocket went way up.  When the charge went off to deploy the parachute, it blew the nose cone and parachute clear off the rocket.  It also blew the engine mount out of the body. 

We were able to retreive the nose cone and parachute, but the rocket body went flying off at least a half of a mile, and we never did find it.  We did not see where the engine mount went.  If anyone has an unexplained dent in the roof of their car, let me know.  So much for "father knows best!"

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Get Gmail Without an Invitation?

I have no particular reason to want to change e-mail services, so I did not pay any attention when this notice appeared on my Blogger dashboard:

However, I've been seeing posts from people, indicating that the service is available by invitation only, and each user can only send a few invitations.  Well, guess what.  Blogger is a free blogging service.  I don't know if the same invitation is still available to new blogger users, and I do not know what it takes to be an "active Blogger user."  But, if all you have to do is sign up for Blogger and post a couple of things, then it looks like you don't have to wait for an invitation from someone else.  Just go to Blogger.com and put up a few posts.  Like urging nostalgic Republicans to join the write-in campaign for Ronald Reagan For President in 2004.  Note: the links in the image don't work; the image is from a screenshot.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Does God Belong on the Stump?
Why Politicians Are Not Mathematicians

There is an interesting article posted at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.  It was first posted in December 2000, but from the content, it sounds as though is was written before the 2000 election.  Yes, it is old, by political standards; but it is not yesterday's newspaper.  It is just as pertinent today as it was before the 2000 election.  I've selected some excerpts of general interest.  I then refer back to another "old" paper,  Mathematical Devices for Getting a Fair Share, first published in July 2000.  The original was in American Scientist, which requires a paid subscription.  Fortunately, the author (Dr. Theodore Hill) posted a copy on his web site.  In this post, I point out a curious connection between religion-in-politics and mathematics-in-politics, show why neither is commonly pursued in a rigorous fashion in political arenas, and show how the two can lead to the same kind of solution to social problems.  Unfortunately, this also demonstrates why the best solution -- whether religious or mathematical -- is rarely feasible in a competitive political process.  Read the rest at The Rest of the Story

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Liberals Promote Abstinence-Only Education!

Michigan Liberals Promote Abstinence-Only Education
JUNE 19, 2004
LANSING (MI) -- At the Capitol today, leading House Democrats held a press conference to explain the many virtues of their new abstinence-only education campaign.  Republicans complained that "they are stealing our thunder." 

Read the rest at The Rest of the Story.

New Jobs Are Being Created In Industries That Pay...

Inside Politics
Bush touts growth in radio address
Saturday, June 19, 2004 Posted: 2:18 PM EDT

[...] Bush also said 46 states saw falling unemployment rates over the last year, and many of the new jobs are being created in industries that pay above-average wages, such as construction, education and manufacturing. [...]

Yes, many of the jobs created have been in industries that pay above-average wages.  So damn what?  What is more pertinent is that, during the current econmic recovery, corporate profits are up by 62%, yet private wage and salary income is down  by 0.6%.  For anyone to say that "many of the new jobs are being created in industries that pay above-average wages", without further explanation, is plainly misleading.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Notes on Herbal Remedies
Natural ≠ Safe

A recent article in the LA Times reports on hazards associated with herbal sex aids.  This brings to mind a couple of reasons to be concerned about herbal products and dietary supplements. 

Potential dangers may be hiding in herbal sex aids
Timothy Gower
June 14, 2004

[...] Canadian researchers underscored these concerns in May with an alarming report. An analysis of herbal preparations touted as sexual enhancers found that some contained drugs prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction.

Dr. Neil Fleshner of Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital came up with the idea for the probe when lab analyses by two groups in the United States showed that batches of PC-Spes — an herbal product used by men with prostate cancer that was taken off the market in 2002 — contained synthetic drugs used to fight cancer. (Officials at the company that made PC-Spes said they didn't know how the adulteration occurred.)

Fleshner and his colleagues purchased seven products on the Internet, which they found by plugging the phrase "herbal Viagra" into a search engine. A lab analysis revealed that one contained real Viagra, while a second was laced with Cialis, another erectile dysfunction drug.

The potential danger from this adulteration is obvious: Viagra and Cialis can be toxic and even fatal if taken with certain other common drugs. In particular, men who use nitrates to relieve chest pain caused by angina could suffer a deadly drop in blood pressure. [...]

The full article  (free registration required) has some valuable safety information about herbal products in general.  However, the author of this article missed two very important points, which I elucidate at The Rest of the Story.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

More Information About The Corpus Callosum

Ventriculus tertius terletak di pusat cerebrum, di inferior corpus callosum dan corpus ventricle lateralis. Di superior sella turcica, glandula pituitary dan mesencephalon, diantara hemisphere cerebri, thalamus dan dinding hypothalamus. Erat hubungannya dengan circulus willisi dan cabangnya serta vena cerebri magna galen dan anak sungai venanya.


Bogus points for anyone who correctly identifies the language used in the the first paragraph of this post.

Antidepressant Rx: Careful Monitoring Needed

On WebMD, there is a decent article  with recommendations for monitoring antidepressant treatment, especially for children and adolescents.  While I agree with much of the article, there are a few things I disagree with.  Read the rest at The Rest of the Story

From the LA Times

In the End, Selfish Players Learn the Price of Fame
Bill Plaschke
June 16, 2004
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The dream season was a scream season. The Fab Four was a raging bore. The ending was harrowing, humiliating and appropriate.

The team that was supposed to make basketball history indeed made basketball history Tuesday, doomed forever to symbolize all that is wrong with modern professional sports, a testament to the failure of excess and danger of ego.

Eleven months after assembling what was supposed to be the greatest team in NBA history, within a week of their professed destiny, the Lakers fell dramatically apart.

Piece by Hollywood piece. Bit by selfish bit. Their ingrained sense of entitlement dismantled by a more powerful sense of teamwork.

As if sent down by the sports gods to deliver a message, the Detroit Pistons crawled out from the shadows of hard work, away from the anonymity of defense, and into a spotlight that showed the Lakers everything they used to be.

A team that shares the ball. A team that shares the floor burns. A team that shares the glory.

An NBA champion.

The Pistons won the title Tuesday with an 100-87 victory in Game 5, winning the series in a landmark four-games-to-one upset that felt like a five-game sweep.

The roaring, rocking Palace offered a numbing farewell to an era.

Editorial in The Lancet

Pertaining to the controversy surrounding the use of certain antidepressant medications in children, there is an editorial  in the latest issue of The Lancet
(Volume 363, Number 9425, 12 June 2004).  The title of the editorial, Is GSK guilty of fraud?, is a bit provocative.  Unfortunately, they do not really answer the question they raise.  The question, of whether the behavior of the company constitutes fraud, is a legal one.  It is hard to fault a medical journal for not providing a legal analysis, since that is not their mission.  The editorial concludes with a recommendation that GSK open their entire archive of information to public analysis.  This recommendation is within the scope of The Lancet's mission, which is to enhance public health.  They reiterate the call for pharmaceutical companies to register and publish the results of all studies, regardless of the results.  They also point out an important bioethical issue:

By moving the issue into the public sphere, the pharmaceutical industry may be forced to acknowledge that all its results, whether positive or negative, are obtained only by virtue of the voluntary cooperation of the public.

This is a restatement of a point they made in an earlier editorial:

On an individual level, doctors and pharmaceutical company employees must remember that without the trust of trial volunteers and patients medical research and practice will become impossible.

We can leave to the legal profession the question of whether fraud occurred.  Personally, I don't think so, because, as far as I can tell at this point in time, the company complied with all legal requirements for reporting their findings.  The more important question is whether they committed an ethical violation.  As The Lancet  points out, all of their research data are obtained via cooperation of the public.  On an ethical level, this means that the company has a reciprocal obligation to the public.  If the public cooperates with the company, the company should cooperate with the public. 

The complication, I suppose, is that interpretation of research studies is not a straightforward process.  There is a strong likelihood that the general public will not be able to interpret the findings accurately.  This is especially true with the earliest studies.  When a drug first is developed, nobody knows yet how best to use it.  Thus, there is a fair chance that the first studies will not show the drug in its best light.  It is understandable that a company would be reluctant to publish such data.  The point made by The Lancet  is that pharmaceutical companies have an obligation to make these data public, even if the data may be misinterpreted.  If it takes time and effort to get people to understand how to interpret the studies, then part of the company's duty to the public is to take that time and effort. 

Update: see A.M.A. Urges Disclosure on Drug Trials from NYT, for the AMA position on this.

Monday, June 14, 2004

It's Only Hearsay...

Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides
Jun 4, 2004, 06:15

[...]  In interviews with a number of White House staffers who were willing to talk off the record, a picture of an administration under siege has emerged, led by a man who declares his decisions to be “God’s will” and then tells aides to “fuck over” anyone they consider to be an opponent of the administration.

“We’re at war, there’s no doubt about it. What I don’t know anymore is just who the enemy might be,” says one troubled White House aide. “We seem to spend more time trying to destroy John Kerry than al Qaeda and our enemies list just keeps growing and growing.”

Aides say the President gets “hung up on minor details,” micromanaging to the extreme while ignoring the bigger picture. He will spend hours personally reviewing and approving every attack ad against his Democratic opponent and then kiss off a meeting on economic issues. [...]

Androgens and mood dysfunction in women: comparison of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome to healthy controls

Weiner CL, Primeau M, Ehrmann DA. Psychosom Med. 2004 May-Jun;66(3):356-62.
Behavioral and Neuropsychological Consultants (C.L.W.), LLP, New York, NY.

OBJECTIVE: Our understanding of the organizational and activational effects of human gonadal hormones on behavior has depended on the study of endocrine disorders. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that begins in puberty and is characterized by chronically augmented free testosterone (FT) levels. The purposes of this study were 1) to compare negative mood states of women with PCOS to those of women with normal hormonal levels and 2) to examine the relationship between negative moods and androgens. METHODS: Twenty-seven women with PCOS were case-matched to 27 normal menstruating women on body mass index since being overweight is a common symptom of PCOS and could affect mood states. Serum levels of FT, total testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin, estradiol, and progesterone were determined. Self-reported depression, anger, anxiety, and aggression were analyzed between groups, and individual scores were compared across groups to hormone values. RESULTS: Depression was significantly increased in the PCOS group and remained so after considering the variance related to physical symptomatology and other mood states. Furthermore, a curvilinear relationship between FT and negative affect across groups was suggested: the most elevated negative mood-scale scores were associated with FT values just beyond the upper limits of normal, while lower negative mood levels corresponded to both normal and extremely high values of FT. CONCLUSIONS: These results are consistent with a model of activational influences of testosterone on adult female behavior. Implications are discussed for future research and for treatment of PCOS and other menstrual-cycle mood disorders.
PMID: 15184695 [PubMed - in process]

Comments: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a fairly common problem. I recall that when I was supervising the Psychopharmacology Clinic at the University of Michigan, we saw a disproportionate number of persons with PCOS. One of the residents did a literature search, but did not find much. Perhaps one of the reasons for the delay in making a correlation is the finding that increased depression occurs only in those with an early stage of the condition. Being at a university, the clinic tended to have a lot of younger patients.
In interpreting this study, it is important to note the small sample size. A larger sample will be needed to confirm the findings.

Fresh From LA Times


Motown Misery for Lakers
Bryant struggles through 7 for 25 shooting night as Pistons take 3-1 lead in NBA Finals with 88-80 victory over L.A.
By Chris Sheridan
AP Basketball Writer

June 6, 2004

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Cool, calm and collected, the Detroit Pistons took care of business while the Lakers lost their tempers.

Taking the lead early in the fourth quarter, holding it the rest of the way and repelling every Los Angeles rally, the Detroit Pistons moved one victory closer to their first championship in 14 years with a convincing 88-80 victory Sunday night in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

Detroit now holds a 3-1 lead, and the Pistons have made one thing crystal clear — they are the better of these two basketball teams despite lacking the edge in egos, superstars and problems.

These were some of the scenes that Pistons' fans will cherish: Chauncey Billups draining timely 3-pointers, Rasheed Wallace backpedalling downcourt with a minute left after making a jumper that capped his best game of the playoffs; Richard Hamilton calmly knocking down free throws.

As for the Lakers, the snapshots were these: Kobe Bryant screaming at the referees and picking up an untimely technical foul; Shaquille O'Neal yelling at someone in the Lakers' huddle, most likely Bryant, for failing to do the smart thing and get him the ball; Karl Malone staying parked on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, a non-factor again.

It's almost over for these Lakers, their breakup possibly commencing by the upcoming week.

Game 5 is Tuesday night, and the Pistons could become the first team to bring the title back to the Eastern Conference since Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls won it in 1998.

Wallace scored 26, Billups had 23 and Hamilton 17 to lead the Pistons, who outscored the Lakers 32-24 in the fourth quarter.

O'Neal had 36 and Bryant 20 for the Lakers, whose dysfunctional two-man show isn't enough to keep up with Detroit's depth and determination.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Abuse of Medical Records at Guantanamo;
No Question About the Medical Ethics Involved

The WaPo published an article on the abuse of medical records at Guantanamo. 

Detainees' Medical Files Shared
Guantanamo Interrogators' Access Criticized

By Peter Slevin and Joe Stephens
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 10, 2004; Page A01

Military interrogators at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been given access to the medical records of individual prisoners, a breach of patient confidentiality that ethicists describe as a violation of international medical standards designed to protect captives from inhumane treatment.

The files, which contain individual medical histories and other personal information about prisoners, have been made available to interrogators despite continued objections from the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Post. After discovering the practice in mid-2003, the Red Cross refused to send medical monitoring teams to the facility for more than six months, sources said. [...]

This was commented upon by few bloggers.  Bete, at  Self-Indulgent Record of Idle Time,  copied the article to her blog without comment.  Based upon the context (the themes of adjacent posts) it appears that she is bothered by the report.  In contrast, Dr. Cori Dauber, on Rantingprofs, is troubled by the fact that some people are offended by the report.  Similarly, Greg, on Gregnews,  states:

If these doctors get their way they may, one day, have many patients to see in the form of victims of another horrendous terror attack. Far be it for anyone to counter this sacrosanct opinion of these quoted doctors but I bet we could find some in the medical community, say those related to 9-11 victims or those not with their head up their arse, who would say this is “okay.”

Which view is "correct" ?   Read the rest at The Rest of the Story.

An Unusually Broad Attack

Diplomats and military unite to criticise Bush
By Joshua Chaffin in Washington
Published: June 13 2004 22:01 | Last Updated: June 13 2004 22:01

More than two dozen members of the military and diplomatic elites from both US political parties are uniting to launch an assault on the Bush administration's conduct of foreign policy, claiming in a letter to be published this week that it has isolated the nation.

The 26-member group, known as Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, includes several people appointed to important positions by Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Among them are former US ambassadors to Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union and a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, as well as retired Marine General Joseph P. Hoar, who commanded US forces in the Middle East under former President Bush.

Their letter, to be published on Wednesday, represents an unusually broad attack on a president in an election year from the ranks of the career diplomats inside the Washington beltway.

It is likely to deepen doubts reflected in recent polls that the nation, under the leadership of President George W. Bush, is on the wrong course. [...]

Should We Go Ahead With Nuclear Power?

There has been a fair amount of blogbuzz lately, about the subject of nuclear power: not the type of power that comes from having really big bombs, but the type of power that is used to generate electricity.  There are posts on the subject at Crooked Timber, Tapped, Mark A. R. Kleinman, Washington Monthly, and Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal.  These posts generated a lot of comments, but not a lot of technical information is present in the original posts or in the comments.  Several comments included requests for more information.  On the weblog Too Many Worlds, William Kaminsky (a PhD student in the Physics Department of MIT) responds to some of the requests for more information on the subject. 

As it happens, I used to work at a nuclear research reactor.  This alone does not make me qualified to provide technical information, but the experience did make me a little more receptive to the idea of nuclear power.  At least I don't dismiss the idea automatically.

In this post, I provide links to some additional sources of information about nuclear power, add my own thoughts on the subject, and attempt to sharpen the focus of public discussion.  Read the rest at The Rest of the Story.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

No, I'm Not Suspicious

An Oil Enigma: Production Falls Even as Reserves Rise

Joe Raedle - Getty Images
ChevronTexaco's annual output has been falling almost 15 percent at a time when its proven oil and gas reserves have risen about 14 percent. And that pattern has repeated itself at some other large oil companies.

Ronald Reagan Commemoration

There is a great  idea floating around, to enable all Reagan fans to show the world what they thought of him.  If you agree that he was The Best President Ever,  try this out.  If it is successful, it is guaranteed to make headlines around the world, and it could change the course of history.  It's very simple and -- best of all -- it will not cost you anything.

Next November, when you go to cast you ballot for President of the United States, simply write in the name: Ronald Wilson Reagan!!!  That's it!!!  Tell the whole world that you think RR was The Best President Ever.  What better way to commemorate this remarkable man than by voting for him again???

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Neuroscience Updates

Cure hoped for Huntington’s sufferers
Gene therapy succeeds in mice with brain disease.
Nature Science Update
9 June 2004


Gene therapy could ease the symptoms of some devastating brain disorders, according to evidence presented to US conference last week.  Many neurodegenerative diseases are caused when the brain makes mutant proteins that build up in the brain, causing gradually worsening symptoms. These brain-wasting diseases are devastating and incurable. They include Huntington's disease, which affects around 250,000 people in the United States.

[...] Most gene therapy involves replacing a missing gene sequence. But in dominant disorders it is the mutant sequence itself that causes the problem, so any therapy needs to actively block a sequence rather than just replacing one.

To do this in the mice, Davidson’s team used a technique called RNA interference. The researchers isolated pieces of genetic material that bind to and block the mutant gene. They packaged these into stripped-down virus particles and injected them into the mice. The virus used was an adeno-associated virus that does not cause disease in mice or people.  After the injections, the proteins created by the mutant gene disappeared and the mice seemed to improve, the researchers told the annual meeting of the American Society of Gene Therapy in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week. [...]

[Frontiers in Bioscience 9, 63-73, January 1, 2004]

Claudio V. Mello

Inducible gene expression analysis has been successfully used to identify and characterize areas involved in the auditory processing of song in songbirds. When songbirds hear song, zenk, a gene encoding a transcriptional regulator linked to synaptic plasticity, is rapidly and transiently induced in several discrete areas of the telencephalon. This phenomenon is most marked in the caudomedial neostriatum (NCM), a major auditory processing area. zenk induction by song has proven very useful to investigate the functional organization of NCM as well as to characterize song-responding neurons in this brain area. Combined with data from anatomical and electrophysiological studies, the results of gene expression analysis suggest that NCM is involved in the auditory processing of complex sounds such as song and possibly in the formation and/or storage of song auditory memories. Thus, NCM appears to play a prominent role in perceptual aspects of vocal communication, and potentially in the process of vocal learning in songbirds and other vocal learning avian orders, i.e. parrots and hummingbirds.

Visible Human Server

Welcome to the Visible Human Server at the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne). The Peripheral Systems Lab (Prof. R.D. Hersch and his team) is proud to offer a virtual anatomic construction kit on the web using the Visible Human dataset. The applets available on this site provide the following features:

    * Extract slices, curved surfaces, and slice animations from both datasets (male and female)
    * Interactively navigate by slicing through the male dataset in real-time
    * Construct 3D anatomical scenes using combinations of slices and 3D models of internal structures from the male dataset, and extract 3D animations
    * Add voice comments to video sequences generated using the applets

The first one discusses a new potential treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Huntington's Disease.  This is a rare autosomal (not sex-linked) dominant genetic disease that is always fatal.  The researchers found a way to deactivate the defective gene in mice. 

The second one I included just because it is kind of neat to see that sounds can cause genes to turn on under certain circumstances.  It makes me wonder about the distinction that often is made between biological treatment of mental illness, and psychological treatment.  If hearing a sound can change your brain chemistry, is there really any meaningful distinction between psychology and neurobiology?

The last one is not a news item; it is a website that looks interesting.  It uses Java applets to simulate anatomical dissection.  It allows you to generate 3D anatomical illustrations.  It looks like it would take a lot of practice to get to be good at using it.

From the In-Box

A label from a laptop computer bag that is made by a small American company for overseas customers:
Here is the translation from the French:

Wash with warm water.
Use mild soap.
Dry flat.
Do not use bleach.
Do not dry in the dryer.
Do not iron.
We are sorry that our President is an idiot.
We did not vote for him.

UPDATE: found via George Hernandez, the label is on a computer bag made by Tom Bihn.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Another Oddity of Medical Science

From time to time, I post abstracts or excerpts that illustrate the fact that many aspects of medical science are not straightforward.  It has been known for a long time that there is a strong correlation between sleep disorders and mood disorders, as well as a less robust, but still significant, correlation between sleep disorders and anxiety disorders.  Furthermore, it has been observed that there is a nonlinear relationship between the severity of a sleep disorder as measured on objective tests, and the degree of dysfunction that a patient experiences.  There also is a nonlinear relationship between the improvement seen of objective tests after treatment, and the degree of improvement in a patient's daily function.  These demonstrations of nonlinearity indicate that there is something going on that we do not understand. 

Now, we see an indication that surgical treatment of sleep apnea can result in measurable improvements in anxiety and depression -- and the degree of psychiatric improvement is not strongly associated with the changes in objective tests.  Read the rest at The Rest of the Story.

Things Found While Looking For Other Things

Association Between Birth Control Pills and Voice Quality.
Laryngoscope. 114(6):1021-1026, June 2004.
Amir, Ofer PhD; Kishon-Rabin, Liat PhD

Objectives/Hypothesis: The objective was to extend our knowledge of the effect of birth control pills on voice quality in women based on various acoustic measures.

Study Design: A longitudinal comparative study of 14 healthy young women over a 36- to 45-day period.

Methods: Voices of seven women who used birth control pills and seven women who did not were recorded repeatedly approximately 20 times. Voice samples were analyzed acoustically, using an extended set of frequency perturbation parameters (jitter, relative average perturbation, pitch period perturbation quotient), amplitude perturbation parameters (shimmer, amplitude average perturbation quotient), and noise indices (noise-to-harmonics ratio, voice turbulence index).

Results: Voice quality and stability were found to be better among the women who used birth control pills. Lower values were found for all acoustic measures with the exception of voice turbulence index. Results also provided preliminary indication for vocal changes associated with the days preceding ovulation.

Conclusion: In contrast to the traditional view of oral contraceptives as a risk factor for voice quality, and in keeping with the authors' previous work, the data in the present study showed that not only did oral contraceptives have no adverse effect on voice quality but, in effect, most acoustic measures showed improved voice quality among women who used the birth control pill. The differences in the noise indices between groups may also shed light on the nature of the effect of sex hormones on vocal fold activity. It was suggested that hormonal fluctuations may have more of an effect on vocal fold regulation of vibration than on glottal adduction.

(C) The American Laryngological, Rhinological & Otological Society, Inc.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Away From My Roots

Listening to NPR on the way home, I heard about the recent revelation  of Pentagon documents that are purported to provide a legal basis for torture.  I was going to blog about it, but decided to get back to my roots, and blogged about psychotropic medication instead. 

Fortunately, Daily Kos has a post  on the subject that is better than what I would have written.  They quote kevin Drum:

"It is, quite literally, a cookbook approach for illegal government conduct."

Don't vote for these crooks.  Brad Delong takes it farther: 
Impeach These Clowns. Impeach These Clowns Now.

More Facts About Antidepressants and Suicide

From the newsletter, Psychiatric Times, here is a summary of recent findings from analysis of data pertaining to the association between antidepressant use and the incidence of suicide.  I wrote a flurry of articles on this subject back in April.  (previous CC posts: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9)

Now, however, the interest in the topic has waned; people just aren't talking about it so much any more.  Despite the fickle nature of the sensational-news-consuming public, the scientific community has retained an interest in the topic. 

Yes, there was an article  in the NYT last week, regarding a study that showed a positive effect using fluoxetine to treat depressed adolescents.  This article did not attract much attention, which, in fact, was appropriate.  Few few individual studies deserve front-page coverage in a major newspaper.  Although the results of the study were encouraging, any such study must be viewed in a wider context in order to be interpreted properly.

Because of the need for a wider context, it was with interest that I read the recent article in the Psychiatric Times.  The article reviews the findings of five population-based studies of the association between antidepressant prescribing and suicide rates.  In this post, I discuss the merits of the article and their conclusion.  Read the rest at The Rest of the Story.

Please Read Different Headlines

There was no point in watching the news yesterday.  It was all about politics, and Reagan's death, which, although not really a political event, is invariably reported with some political overtone or another.  Anyway, I decided to do a roundup of the news we all would be fascinated by, if the media knew how to select topics of REAL significance:

Physicists tackle EU constitution
by Belle Dumé
Physics Web
28 May 2004

Two scientists from Poland claim to have found a solution to the problem of voting in the newly enlarged European Union. The current voting system, which is based on guidelines set by the Treaty of Nice, and the new system proposed in the draft EU Constitution both lead to inequalities between the different member states. The new system, proposed by Karol Życzkowski and Wojciech Slomczyński of Jagiellonian University in Kraków, is based on a square-root formula and would ensure that all European citizens had equal voting powers (arXiv.org/abs/cond-mat/0405396).

[...] Życzkowski, a physicist, and Slomczyński, a mathematician, developed a voting scheme based on the so-called Penrose Law, which states that the voting weight of a country is directly proportional to the square root of its population. This approach was pioneered by the English psychiatrist and mathematician Lionel S Penrose, father of the scientists Roger and Oliver and the chess player Jonathan. [...]

Reinventing the lightbulb, with nanotubes
By Michael Kanellos
CNET News.com
June 4, 2004, 1:19 PM PT

Researchers at China's Tsinghua University and at Louisiana State University have developed a prototype lightbulb that replaces the standard tungsten filament in lightbulbs with a carbon nanotube. The nanotube bulb uses less electricity and burns brighter than conventional bulbs. Theoretically, this could lead to the first major overhaul in the design of lightbulbs in more than a century. [...]

The end of tolerance
by Zbigniew Piekarski
Warsaw Business Journal
7th June 2004

Every epoch needs leaders of stature who will define it. America has found Bush and Greenspan to take it where it needs to go in order to fulfill its historical destiny. The duo is perfectly matched.

"One of the common denominators I have found is that expectations rise above that which is expected."
- President George W. Bush, Los Angeles, California, September 27, 2000.

Every epoch needs leaders of stature who will define it. America has found Bush and Greenspan to take it where it needs to go in order to fulfill its historical destiny. The duo is perfectly matched. One is clueless and has made the biggest military blunder in American history while the other is ruthless and has made the biggest financial blunder in American history.  [...]

The first article is a description of one of those good ideas that probably will never fly because hardly anyone can understand it.  The second article describes what might be the first use of nanotechnology that has a real economic impact.  The third predicts "Phase II of the Great Bear Market."  The article is fairly technical, discussing the Market Volatility Index and the McClellan Oscillator, two indicators of stock market conditions.  The author argues that these indicators suggest that the conditions are set for another prolonged stock market decline.  They conclude:

As the negative social mood increases and markets start to fall, the prophesy of the current President of the Protestant Crusaders will become a reality, for, as George W. Bush said at Texas A&M University on April 6, 1998, "We live in a culture of moral indifference, where movies and videos glamorize violence and tolerance is touted as a great virtue." As at the time of the Spanish Inquisition, tolerance, as a virtue, will soon come to an end. Cycles repeat.

Of course, nobody knows if this is true or not.  The significance of the article is that it shows how unpopular Bush is, even among conservatives, in Europe.  This reflects badly upon the United States.  If a business journal contains an article describing him as "clueless" and casts him as the "President of Protestant Crusaders," I shudder to imagine what regular folks think of him.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The Passing of Another American Icon

This afternoon, my beautiful redheaded wife and I were driving out to the hardware store to get some stuff for the barn.  We heard on the radio that Ronald Reagan died.  Later, we went to Barnes & Noble to sit around and read and drink good coffee.  As usual, I spent some time in the photography section.  On the way out of the bookstore, we noticed that they already had put up a sales exhibit with books about Mr. Reagan. 

This got me to thinking: I feel bad that I missed the opportunity to commemorate the death of another great American Icon.

Back on April 22, 2004, it was the twentieth anniversary of the death of Ansel Easton Adams.  (born 2-20-1902 in San Francisco, California
died 4-22-1984 in Monterey, California, at  age 82)

In this post, I explain why Ansel Adams was an American icon, and why I still have some respect for Ronald Reagan.   Read the rest at The Rest of the Story

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Museums and Babies
A Lesson From Home Birth

Institute and Museum of the History of Science

Here is a neat website, or at least, a website that will be really neat when they get English translations of everything.  Currently, a lot of it is only in Italian.  To the left is an illustration from the section on the history of obstetrics in the 18th century.  Notice that the woman is fully clothed.  We learn that: "Until the previous century, the task of assisting women about to give birth had been traditionally entrusted to midwives. Only when the procedure seemed unusually risky did the midwife summon the surgeon, who, as a rule, lacked even the rudiments of female anatomy and of the physiology of childbearing."

When I finished medical school, I thought I knew a lot about gestation and delivery.  I did not.  Although the University of Michigan Medical School does have illustrations that are more informative than the one above, and I had actual experience delivering babies, I was in my internship (the year after  medical school) when I really learned about the subject.  And it wasn't in a hospital or a formal classroom.  I attended childbirth preparation classes, using the Bradley method  (also see this blog reference.)  The Bradley method is somewhat different than Lamaze, being more comprehensive.  Ther are 12 classes in all, plus homework.  The classes ended just in time for the big event.

My son was born right next to the piano.  Nobody was playing it, but I thought it was a nice touch to have it there.  Since it was an elective home birth, we had some options that are not available in most hospitals.  The point, though, is that it was community-based childbirth education, plus my own experience starting a family, that taught me about labor and delivery.  In fact, it still amazes me when I look back and think about how little practical information was taught about the subject in medical school. 

Yes, the Museum exhibit about the history of obstetrics is quaint, and it is amusing to think about how rudimentary medical education was in the 1700's; but it is important to realize that we still have a long way to go.  The advances to come will mostly be scientifically-based, but that is never going to be the whole story.  We must seek the right balance between folk wisdom and medical science. 

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Additions to the Blogroll

  • Stratfor:  I used to read their weekly geopolitical intelligence reports, then somehow got out of the habit.  They are a great source of information, enough so that they get a featured link.

Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia
Jun 03, 2004

By George Friedman


The United States has clearly entered a new phase of the Iraq campaign in which its relationship with the Iraqi Shia has been de-emphasized while relationships with Sunnis have been elevated. This has an international effect as well. It obviously affects Iranian ambitions. It also helps strengthen the weakening hand of the Saudi government by reducing the threat of a Shiite rising in strategic parts of the kingdom that could threaten the flow of oil. The United States is creating a much more dynamic and fluid situation, but it is also enormously more complicated and difficult to manage.

  • I-Merge:  Oddly named, but what else is new in the Blogosphere?  This is a blog with interesting illustrations and .
My most recent essay is now online (in blog form) for those who have the time and interest in a summary of the development of modern globalisation, the predicament it presents and the some trite options for the future. You are also keenly encouraged to provide any constructive feedback what so ever, as I will be collecting these comments and rolling them into the next draft, hopefully for a more traditional publishing exercise;)

Government’s job in the 21st century is to restore the balance between the commons and the market that grew so distorted in the 20th century. This can be done without raising taxes or expanding bureaucracy.

What might America look like with a healthy balance between commons and market? Here are some glimpses:

• A market sector that pays its way
Polluters and other commons users pay for usage rights. Pollution, advertising and congestion are reduced. More money flows to common purposes, without higher taxes.

• A stronger democracy
Spectrum fees cover most electoral campaign costs. Fewer elected officials are indentured to monied interests.

• A culture of popular participation
An open Internet hosts diverse commons and provides access to other media. There are shorter copyrights and new legal vehicles for sharing creativity. Funding flows to the arts, non-commercial radio and TV.

• Science in the public interest
University research focuses on common needs. Most discoveries remain in the public domain.

• Every baby a trust fund baby
Everyone receives, as a birthright, a cash inheritance and yearly dividends. This income comes from rent charged for use of scarce common assets. The commons thus becomes a source of sustenance for all, as it was in pre-industrial days.

Some of the reasons why I love am fond of the Internet. 

The New Yorker Random Cartoon Feed

I finally figured out how to make the random cartoon feed from The New Yorker  work on blogs.  It is on The Rest of the Story,  so it won't increase the load time of this blog. 

Brilliant Satire at The New Yorker

After a week or so, this story might be removed; if so, the link won't work any more.  If that happens, try running a Google search on the title; you might be able to find a cached copy.  I've copied only the first three paragraphs as a teaser, under fair use guidelines. 

Issue of 2004-06-07
Posted 2004-05-31

Knowledge is not important. The armchair warrior strives to attain a state beyond knowledge, a state of deep, non-knowing connection to the universe: in particular, to that portion of the universe which is rich, powerful, or related to him by blood.

The unenlightened speak of “failures of intelligence.” But the armchair warrior knows that “intelligence” -- the effort of the mind to observe facts, apply reason, and reach conclusions about what is true and what ought to be done -- is a delusion, making the mind turn in circles like an ass hitched to a mill. The armchair warrior feels in his hara, or gut, what ought to be done. He is like a warhorse that races into battle, pulling behind him the chariot of logic and evidence. When the people see the magnificent heedlessness of his charge, they cannot help but be carried along.

The warrior spirit resides in the hara. It is this spirit, and not any deed, that is the mark of the true warrior. Thus, a man who has avoided military service may be a greater and braver warrior than a man who has served his country in battle, sustained grave wounds, performed “heroic” deeds, and been honored with clanking, showy medals pinned to his garment. [...]

What is interesting about this is that it is linked to, on the Prague Daily Monitor  ("The most complete source for Czech news!") home page.  Why such attention in Prague?  It appears also on babble  ("An independent magazine of the green and radical left in Great Britain") under the title: "The martial wisdom of Midland, Texas."  It is echoed on the blogs, Original cynDoug's Dynamic Drive, and The Left Coaster,  and on れいこぶろぐ。  (which is not an English language blog.)   The Left Coaster providers references to the real BushidoThe Hamster  links to it with no comment.   I mention these to give credit to those who found it first.

I Feel Better Now...and I Don't Even Know Them.


This is Marc's newborn son.  Soon to be a member of the Redheaded Bloggers webring?

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Today on Marketplace
"these priorities strike me as shameful."

Today's Marketplace broadcast mostly was about the issues of military recruiting during wartime.  Not a lot of controversy there.  Equally noncontroversial was their actual economic news.

The commentator, Robert Reich informed us that there will be cuts in Section 8 housing vouchers, which, he reports, will result in greater numbers of homeless persons  -- including children.  He reiterated the point, mentioned previously at Corpus Callosum, that the gap between rich and poor is growing.  He added something that I had not known previously:  the income gap is now the largest it has been in the USA in one hundred years. 

In this post, I elaborate on the serious consequences of the income gap, demonstrate why it is counterproductive and contrary to the values that are claimed by certain politicians, and ponder the question of why the average life expectancy in the USA is falling and the infant mortality rate is rising.   Read the rest at The Rest of the Story

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


Whatever you think of george W. Bush, remember one thing.  He is a liar.   I'm not saying he's a bad person; I'm not suggesting you shouldn't vote for him.  Just remember that if you do vote for him, you are voting for a liar. 

This is something I have thought for a long time, but following my own adage1, I withheld judgment until the proof became overwhelming. 

Whatever you think of Paul Krugman, if you plan to vote in the USA presidential election in November 2004, read Krugman's latest column  n the NYT:

Dooh Nibor Economics

Published: June 1, 2004

Last week The Washington Post got hold of an Office of Management and Budget memo that directed federal agencies to prepare for post-election cuts in programs that George Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. These include nutrition for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeland security. The numbers match those on a computer printout leaked earlier this year — one that administration officials claimed did not reflect policy.

Beyond the routine mendacity, the case of the leaked memo points us to a larger truth: whatever they may say in public, administration officials know that sustaining Mr. Bush's tax cuts will require large cuts in popular government programs. And for the vast majority of Americans, the losses from these cuts will outweigh any gains from lower taxes.

Admittedly, although this is pretty damning, it is only one small bit of evidence.  See bloggers here, here, and here  for more evidence.  Be sure to take your blood pressure medication first, though. 
1 The vast majority of value judgments serve no useful purpose.