Sunday, July 31, 2005

Carnival Time!

Skeptics Cirlce

Be Lambic or Green will be hosting the 14th Skeptic's Circle in a few days.  Consider sending submissions as follows:
The 14th Skeptic’s Circle will be happening in two weeks time, and I have the pleasure of being the 14th host. I have a very special venue planned, but before I can finalize those arrangements I need some skeptical submissions! If you’re having skeptical thoughts and you need to get them off your chest, then blog about them, and send me a link.

Submissions can be sent here. I have heavy-duty spam-filters in place, so if your mail bounces or you don’t get a response from me, leave a comment here and I’ll find another way to contact you. [If you still don't get an acknowledgment, you can send the submissions to Orac, who will forward them on.]
Submission guidelines are here.

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Pharmaceutical Advice on the Internet

After writing my last serious post, I got to thinking about the issue of Pharmaceutical Advice on the Internet.  Although the issue of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) by pharmaceutical companies is a big issue, too, it seems to be more widely discussed.  I haven't run across much that deals specifically with pharmaceutical sales and advice over the Internet, even though that is a much more serious problem.  At least DTCA is regulated by the FDA, whereas there is absolutely no regulation on the Internet, other than on the sites put up by the drug companies themselves.  

In this post, I cast a skeptical look at Pharmaceutical Advice on the Internet, and conclude with some advice, including pointers on how to spot pseudoscientific nonsense.  Continue reading here.

Categories: Science, medicine
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Got That Settled

My pirate name is:
Iron Roger Read

A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough matey. That's okay wit' ye, though, since ya' be a tough matey. E'en though many pirates 'ave a rep'tation f'r not bein' t' brightest souls on earth, you defy t' sterotypes. Ye got taste and education. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from fidius.org.

I just realized that the format of this post is messed up if viewed with Internet Explorer on Widnows XP. If I cared enough I would try to fix it; but I don't, and won't. You all should be using Firefox, anyway. (Or Safari or Opera, I suppose, or Konqueror.)

The Easy Way or the Right Way?

To a great extent, the success of a Presidency is determined by the quality of the President's advisors.  Equally important, though, is the President's choice when different advisors give different advice.  When it came to the question of the use of torture in military investigation, we learn now that the President received conflicting advice.  His legal advisor, Alberto Gonzales, told him it was OK.  His military advisors told him it was a bad idea.  Specifically, the military advisors told him it was wrong, and that it could put US troops at risk.  

Always unbiased, I give thanks to the Republican Senator who brought us this information: Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-SC).  As reported in the NYT:
Military's Opposition to Harsh Interrogation Is Outlined

Published: July 28, 2005

WASHINGTON, July 27 - Senior military lawyers lodged vigorous and detailed dissents in early 2003 as an administration legal task force concluded that President Bush had authority as commander in chief to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, newly disclosed documents show.

Despite the military lawyers' warnings, the task force concluded that military interrogators and their commanders would be immune from prosecution for torture under federal and international law because of the special character of the fight against terrorism.

In memorandums written by several senior uniformed lawyers in each of the military services as the legal review was under way, they had urged a sharply different view and also warned that the position eventually adopted by the task force could endanger American service members.

The memorandums were declassified and released last week in response to a request from Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Mr. Graham made the request after hearings in which officers representing the military's judge advocates general acknowledged having expressed concerns over interrogation policies. [...]

"These military lawyers were clearly disturbed by the proposed techniques that were deviations from past practices that were being advocated by the Justice Department," said Senator Graham, himself a former military lawyer.
This raises a point: when confronted with a difficult decision, does it make more sense to listen to the people who are saying what you want to hear, or the people who actually know what they are talking about?  We know which is easier.  I would like to think, though, that Mr. Bush was not elected in order to do things the easy way; he was elected to do things the right way.

Categories: rants, politics
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I'm Glad We Got That Sorted Out...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

CNS Update: Riluzole For Depression and OCD?

Occasionally, pharmaceuticals developed for one purpose turn out to have applications that differ from the original use.  This may turn out to be the case with riluzole (Rilutek® - Aventis Pharmaceuticals Products Inc.).  [Package insert (PI)]  I've blogged about this before, but this post has some new information, and presents a different perspective.  In addition, I've concluded with some notes and cautions about the accurate interpretation of blog posts on medical topics.  Continue reading here.

Categories: Science, medicine
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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Resolution of Inquiry

House Resolution 375, proposed by the Honorable Barbara Lee (D-CA), calls for Congress to exercise its Constitutional oversight of the executive branch, by investigating the communication that took place between the USA and the UK in the run-up to the Iraq War.  Although this is unlikely to go anywhere, given the yellow-hammerlock that the Republican Party has on Congress, it is a serious matter nonetheless.  

If our President indeed lied to the American people prior to the war, that would be a High Crime, by any definition.  Recall that he stated, on numerous occasions, that the decision for war had not been decided until a few days before hostilities began.  The gravity of the situation was underscored by the nation-wide recognition given to the Downing Street memos.  This is analogous to the situation with the 16 words about "uranium from Africa."  Those words were contained in a State of the Union Address, which is a Constitutionally-mandated official report to Congress.  Knowingly including a lie in report to Congress is no small matter.  Ol' Cranky at The Disenchanted Forest has the latest on that.  Continue reading, here.

Categories: rants, politics
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Fossils, Old and New

In 1978, road construction in South Africa resulted up an unexpected find.  Several fossilized dinosaur eggs were found.  Recently, scientists have been studying them.  This provides the first opportunity to study the embryonic development of a dinosaur.

From National Geographic (click)

In modern times, similar troves are being established all across the USA.  Smithsonian Magazine reports that we dispose of 100 million electronic gadgets per year.  In the next five years, 136,000 computers will become obsolete every day.  We can be hopeful that some of them will find their way to developing nations, elementary schools, and the like.  Eventually, though, they all will end up as trash.

Better yet, some programs are springing up around the country to recycle those once-beloved machines.  Computertakeback.com offers an easy way to find recyclers for your old electronic stuff.  

Geeks, of course, will reuse the various parts of their computers for as long as possible.  In some instances, manufacturers facilitate this process.  For some computers, especially the low-end ones, most of the essentials (processor, logic chips, sound, and video) are integrated onto the motherboard.  What that means is that many of these machines can be brought up to date with a "simple" motherboard swap, and some new RAM, and possibly a new hard drive.  Today's hard drives are so big, though, that most people won't come close to filling them up.  

What many people don't realize is that, if paleontological or archeological remains are found during the course of construction, the construction has to stop while the scientifically valuable material is preserved.  So the more gadgets we dump into landfills today, the slower new construction projects will be in the future.  

So let's not slow down our progeny's road construction projects.  Instead, let's hang on to those machines as long as possible, upgrade instead of replace, and recycle when there's no other choice.

In related news, American Scientist has released a report about postdoctoral students: Doctors Without Orders (1.8MB PDF).  It seems that many of them end up consigned to various fates, similar to those of the fossilized dinosaur eggs.  

Now I Won't Shop at Wal-Mart, Twice

I know that Wal-Mart is staggering because of my refusal to shop there.  But now they are really going to suffer.  Not only will I not shop there, now I won't shop there twice as often.  

Solomon, writing on For Real Things I Know, informs us that a Wal-Mart in or near Pensacola forced the Pensacola News-Journal to remove their newspaper vending machines from Wal-Mart lots, because their manager was offended by an editorial in one of their editions.  The Wal-Mart manager, Bob Hart, told the senior editor that the News-Journal might be able to replace the machines if he fired the reported who wrote the column.  
Wal-Mart is a company that wraps itself in red, white and blue.

I might understand it if Wal-Mart said I ought to fire Mark because what he said wasn't accurate. But that isn't the case. Mark accurately reported that there are 10,000 children of Wal-Mart employees in a health-care program that is costing Georgia taxpayers nearly $10 million a year.

Shouldn't we talk about that?
Well, yes, we should talk about that.  We should talk about it because it is a tacit endorsement of the concept of universal health coverage.  I wonder: How many managers and CEO's of large corporations have employees who have to resort to government programs because of low wages?  I also wonder: How many of those people would be upset if we had universal health coverage?  Not content to stop wondering, I wonder: how many of those people realize what hypocrites they are?

Categories: rants
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What Health Insurance Is, Really

I had other things to do, did not get anything written for Grand Rounds this week.  But at least I can link to it: Pharyngula is the host this week.  He even managed to find a unique format for the presentation, and to make an observation that must have seemed profound:
Doctors seem to spend a fair amount of time wondering why they became a doctor, and how to train more doctors.

His use of the percentages of medblogging topics as an indicator of how doctors spend their time fails in two areas: it does not account for time spent sleeping, since hardly anyone blogs about sleeping.  Unless you count dreaming, and doctors rarely reveal their dreams.  And it does not account for time spent doing paperwork, which is what I am supposed to be doing right now.

I know my syntax is lousy tonight but that is because I am listening to my new Patti Smith CD;  Mother Rose is brilliant, by the way.  As is Radio Baghdad: "They're robbing/The cradle/of civil-/-ization."

If I had gotten to it, I would have submitted this.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Skeptic Poseurs

I have a bumper sticker that says "Question Skepticism."  There's a reason for that.  Primary, it's my idea of a joke.  Secondarily, it is a reminder that skepticism can be mean-spirited.  Today I encountered a particularly good example of that.

We all are familiar with those poseurs who pretend to be patriotic, but are not; who pretend to be religious, but really are pressing a personal agenda; who pretend to have a romantic interest, but really have their mind in the gutter.  This is a reminder that there are those who would pretend to take on the prestigious mantle of the Skeptic, but who really are just a pain in the ass.

In the one and a half years of the Corpus Callosum, there has been only one winner of the Yellow Hammer Award: Tom DeLay.  At the end of this post, I will announce the awarding of the second YHA.  In this post, I show why Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Ed Whitfield (R - KY) deserve the 2005 YHA.  Continue reading here.

Prometheus On the Edge of the Rings

You might have to click on this picture to get the full-size view to appreciate it.  Barely visible, near the center, is Prometheus.  Along the bottom, you see the rings of Saturn; arcing from lower right to upper left, Saturn itself.  

Jul 22, 2005 - In this photograph, Cassini is looking through Saturn's rings to see the planet and one of its shepherd moons, Prometheus. The rings are casting a shadow onto the planet, and you can see the narrow, dense regions which are created by gravitational interaction with the shepherd moons. This picture was taken on June 3, 2005, when Cassini was 2.1 million kilometers (1.3 million miles) from Saturn.
Although you can't tell from this picture, there are no wars on Saturn.

Categories: science, cool stuff
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More on John Conyers

Rep. Conyers hugs Lila Lipscomb.
From coverage of the Town Hall Meeting:

Lila Lipscomb, the mother of a career Army sergeant killed in Iraq and featured in the popular anti-war documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore, added her call for an end to the war.

After thanking Conyers for honoring her son with his courage in taking up this fight, Lipscomb criticized the administration for deceiving the public and for claiming to know what is best for us. She asked the attentive audience, "Aren’t you tired of being treated like you’re stupid and don’t know anything?"

Lipscomb also weighed in on the failure of the administration to reconstruct war-torn Iraq. She said that in her many communications with soldiers currently in Iraq, the main construction seems to be on US military bases. "Is that an exit strategy?" she wondered.

Urging the people to demand the truth about the war, Lipscomb added that it is our responsibility to bring the troops home safely. "I refuse for another child to die over lies and ignorance."

Categories: rants, politics
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I Want to Feel

Hot, white sand between my toes.

View of Organ Mountains from White Sands

Potter mania could negatively affect kids: psychiatrists

Apparently there is a bit of controversy about Harry Potter, from, among all people, psychiatrists in India.  They interviewed two.  One seems to feel that the stories could have a negative effect on kids.  The other thinks it is no big deal.  I side with the latter view:
However, psychiatrist Sanjay Parekh defends the author saying the book is not necessarily so-called children's literature.

"The book is a progressive series and the youngsters must have grown up along with Harry. Though anything violent is not condoned, but adolescents can easily identify with the boy wizard's emotions, his passing phases," Parekh says.

As for the generous smatterings of romance in the book, he says "romance can never be a matter of concern for children. Violence is. Parents of little children thereby must also themselves read any literature they hand to their kids, to answer their curiosity," he says.
The article does not contain plot spoilers, but there are some hints to the content, so those who have not yet read the sixth book might want to wait before reading the article.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

While We Wait

There are some comments about today's Town Hall Meeting with the Honorable John Conyers posted at Michigandem's Livejournal.  We're still waiting for more, both there, at at Conyer's blog.  Michigandem promises pictures, which I would like to see.

A few comments of my own:  

First: Traffic and construction in downtown Detroit is absolutely terrible.  And they don't mark their detours very well.  And my car overheats when it is not moving, which is a problem I'll have to solve later.  Fortunately, I have an adjustable Thermaltake fan on my CPU, so I don't have to worry about heat while blogging.  If only cars were simple, like computers.

Second: There was a lot of positive energy in the room.  There were over 300 people there, many (including us) standing in the back because the auditorium was full.  It was not full of dejected sour-grapes-sore-looser liberals.  It was full of people who still have hope that we can get rid of the crooks and liars in the White House.

Third: The most electric moment occurred during the talk by Robert Sedler, Distinguished Professor of Law, and Gibbs Chair in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, at Wayne State University:
Professor Sedler teaches courses in Constitutional Law and Conflict of Laws. He has published extensively in both fields, and in 1994 published a book, Constitutional Law — United States, in the Constitutional Law series of the International Encyclopedia of Laws for an international audience.
He used the word, "impeachment."  The audience went nuts, respectfully, for a minute or two.  Apparently, he is serious about impeachment.

Fourth: One of the speakers was a former CIA agent, and a classmate of Valerie P.  He was the one guy in the room I wouldn't have wanted to armwrestle with.  Jim Marcinkowski was an "operations specialist," whatever that is, in the Navy, from 1975-1980; he was an operations officer in the CIA from 1985 to 1990; he got his start in politics as President of the Michigan Young Republicans.  It would be difficult for anyone to accuse him of being "politically motivated."  Although composed and steely-eyed, he was one pissed-off dude.  He stated that he knows that worldwide intelligence operations have been damaged by the leak.  It is his opinion that national security continues to suffer every day that the Administration fails to address the issue of the Plame leak.  His comments today were pretty similar to what he said yesterday at the Waxman hearing, which you can find in the Hearing transcript (especially pages 26-28.)

Fifth: The meeting originally was planned to commemorate the anniversary of the Downing Street Memo, but the other topics (Rovegate, impeachment) were included.  They are pertinent because those three topics are the ones that emerge most clearly from the background noise of "politics as usual" that enable us to conclude that our current Administration really is composed of a bunch of crooks and liars.
UPDATE: 3 photos are up at AfterDowningStreet.org, here.

UPDATE: Detroit media appear to have ignored the Meeting. Just in case you want to let them know how you feel about this:

Local News Contacts

Channel 2 (Fox): Feedback / Comments
Channel 4 (WDIV): We Want To Hear From You
Channel 7 (WXYZ): E-mail

Detroit Free Press: City/Metro desk city@freepress.com
Detroit News: Mark Silverman, Publisher & Editor: msilverman@detnews.com

UPDATE: Michigandems photos are up, here. I suggest taking a look, if only to see the faces of the people who may be able to change our lives for the better.

Categories: rants, politics
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Friday, July 22, 2005

If You Think I'm Too Critical...

Just in case anyone thinks I'm too critical of our government, just take a look at the transcript (171KB PDF) from today's House hearing on the Plame incident, chaired by Rep. Waxman.  
HOLT: If you had a message for Congress then, how should we prevent something like this from ever happening again, what would be called for?

JOHNSON: I say this as a currently registered Republican: I wish Howard Baker was back in the Senate. I wish there was a Republican of some courage and conviction that would stand up and call the ugly dog the ugly dog that it is. But instead, you know, I watched last night, John McCain on Chris Matthews' "Hardball," making excuses, being an apologist. Where are these men and women over there with any integrity to stand up and speak out against this? And I don't have great Republican credentials, but I started out in '72 working on the gubernatorial campaign of Kit Bond. Orrin Hatch wrote my recommendation letter. And I'm still a registered Republican. I expect better behavior out of Republicans.

LANG: Look, let me just say something about this. In the past, a junior officer in some setting who broke an intelligence person's operational cover would be punished administratively. The mechanism is there for doing this. This is an unauthorized disclosure of classified information. And if you didn't choose to deal with it yourself, as Marcinkowski said, you could get him punished. But the problem is, when you get to this kind of level, you know, things stop being unauthorized disclosures in reality and become press releases. And that has to -- what has to be stopped. There has to be a way, in fact, to discipline people who are closer to the center of power. Otherwise, I suspect that the temptation to deal with your enemies in ways like this may be overwhelming for a number of people. And it's a really despicable thing to do, really.


JOHNSON: It would be one thing if he was a freshman member of Congress and never had any exposure whatsoever to national security issues. But we're talking about a member of the Republican leadership in the House and that level of ignorance is frightening. Perhaps that explains why we've gotten into some of the other messes overseas. If they're that ill-informed on an issue so basic about how the intelligence community operates, what other things are they so ill- informed on?

[link, emphasis added]
The whole thing is 53 pages long.  It's absolutely blistering.
UPDATE: see John Conyer's take on the hearing on his blog.

Categories: Rants, politics
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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Medical Research News

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has announced a $3.7 million program for medical education:

Medical Students Win HHMI Research Awards
June 30, 2005

More than 100 medical students from medical schools all over the country are learning what life is like in a research lab.

This year, 66 medical students received HHMI research training fellowships, which they will use at medical research centers nationwide. Another 42 medical and dental students were accepted as HHMI-NIH research scholars. They will live and work on the campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, where HHMI's research scholars program is based at a historic building informally known as the Cloister.
If those students really want to know what life is like in a research lab, I could show them for a lot less than $3.7 million.  This summer would be a good time, as a matter of fact.  

I have a number of large boulders on my property, as well as a few medium-sized hills.  I figure it would take about 10 medical students a few days to roll all of those boulders up to the top of a hill.  I could push the boulders back down to the bottom, and the next ten could come over.  By the end of the summer, all 108 of them would have a pretty good idea of what it is like to work in a research lab. And it probably would be a lot more realistic than living in "The Cloister."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Speaking of Google Maps...

They've added the Moon.
Welcome to Google Moon

In honor of the first manned Moon landing, which took place on July 20, 1969, we’ve added some NASA imagery to the Google Maps  interface to help you pay your own visit to our celestial neighbor. Happy lunar surfing. More about Google Moon.

Town Hall Meeting

Town Hall Meeting

Wayne State University Law School Auditorium
471 W. Palmer
Detroit, Michigan 48202

July 23, 2005,02:00 PM

Keynote speakers:
So far, 83 people have signed up to attend; with a bit more publicity, perhaps there will be more.  At least one person is offering to carpool from the Ann Arbor area.  A PDF map is here.  The Google map is here.  The satellite view is here (click to enlarge)

click to enlarge

In related news, Carl Levin has posted his report regarding his recent "junket" to Iraq.
One purpose of my trip was to gauge the level of the insurgency. I found strong support for the recent assessment of General Abizaid, the regional U.S. Commander, that the insurgency is not weakening and that the flow of foreign jihadists into Iraq has increased. I found no support for Vice President Cheney's view that the insurgency is in its “last throes.”

Categories: politics
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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

On A More Serious Note

Grand Rounds 43 is up at Aggravated DocSurg.  Again, this is a weekly Carnival that is not limited to posts by doctors and nurses.  Anyone with something to say about medicine or health care is welcome.  Submission guidelines are here.
Remember, the target audience here is NOT other medical bloggers, or people in the health care industry. It's the educated but nonmedical readers coming from general-interest blogs. So write for that audience, if only for this one post (even if your blog is about echocardiography). The idea is to introduce the wider world to the growing medical blogosphere -- the doctors, nurses, students, administrators, EMTs, techs, and patients who blog.
Submissions for next week go to Pharyngula.  I've volunteered to host the one after Labor Day.  Hosts between now and then are needed.  All it takes is a blog, a rudimentary knowledge of English, and a willingness to stay up late on Monday night.  Let Izzy know if you are willing.  If you need an inducement: it is guaranteed to bring a new audience, and lots of traffic, to your blog.

Real Money-Making Opportunity

No door-to door sales, no deposed government official in Nigeria, no experience required.  

The Federal government is taking private bids to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Unhappy with the performance of the University of California, and eager to create get-rich-quick-off-taxpayer-resources opportunities, Our government is looking to unload some prime real estate in scenic northern New Mexico.  

Bidders already include the likes of Bechtel and Lockheed-Martin.  It is estimated that profits from the Lab could top $80 million per year, working on things like the W76 nuclear warhead.  

But I have a better idea.  All I need is a little startup capital, and somewhere to store some nuclear waste.  You see, I have a cousin in Alaska, who runs a little florist shop.  She says that there is a tremendous market for fresh plants in Alaska.  And -- get this -- right now, there is absolutely no one importing cactus into Alaska!

The only problem is that cactus do not grow very well in Alaska.  But with all that pristine desert to work with, and a few gamma rays, we could change all that!  Imagine the possibilities!  Cultivating cactus that would grow in Alaska would create business opportunities that would make $80 million look like pocket change.  With all the brilliant minds at Los Alamos working on the problem, it should be a piece of cake.

The scientists remaining at Los Alamos, those who have not quit or retired early, might grumble a little bit at having to shelve their work on bunker-busters, only to cultivate new varietals of tumbleweed, but they would get used to it.  They might even like not having to walk around with lead-lined underwear.  I understand that stuff is nasty when you get all sweaty, anyway.

The fact is, the world already has something like 30,000 nuclear warheads.  The market for those things is getting a little thin.  Besides, they kill people.  Cactus might give you a little poke now and then, but that's no big deal.

If you live in an igloo, imagine how your property values will soar if you have a pair of 8-foot yucca framing your entryway!  Tired of sled dogs painting your outside wall yellow?  Just plant a row of barrel cactus...problem solved!  And the best thing about it: those pesky moose and polar bears won't nibble on it all the time!  

But wait!  There's more!  If we act now, we can get ready for all those Texas oilmen when they come up to make ANWR into the next Love Canal.  Imagine how it'll warm their little hearts to see saguaro all over the oil fields!  Just like home!  Then their little minds won't be so homesick.

I tell you, it's the opportunity of a lifetime!!!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Panda Baby Boom Arrives on Pink Paws

National Geographic (click)
A newborn giant panda is about as big as a stick of butter and lacks the familiar black-and-white markings for its first month or so of life. Successful births in captivity are extremely rare—and extremely prized by conservationists, given the species's dwindling numbers. About 1,600 giant pandas remain in the wild, plus about 160 living in zoos and breeding centers, according to the National Zoo.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Look Upon This, Rumsfeld, and Weep

I had posted too many politically-oriented things lately, so I went to one of my favorite sources of medical news: Medscape.  Medscape almost never publishes anything with political implications, except those pertaining to health policy.  The following article appears to have been so compelling that they made an exception. (Free registration required)
Medical Investigations of Homicides of Prisoners of War in Iraq and Afghanistan
Steven H. Miles, MD
Medscape General Medicine.  2005;7(3) 2005 Medscape
Posted 07/05/2005


The publication of the photographs of the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib has resulted in a widening circle of disclosures and official investigations of similar abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo Bay. There are reports that some medical personnel neglected detainees' medical needs and collaborated with coercive interrogations.[1,2] Some physicians, medics, nurses, and physician assistants failed to report abuses or injuries caused by the abuses that they witnessed. This article reviews another human rights issue -- the medical evaluation of cases of which prisoners potentially died of because of mistreatment or under suspicious circumstances. [...]
I've posted before on the fact that medical personnel were involved in interrogations, contrary to established medical ethics, and contrary to US military policy.  The Medscape article amplifies and confirms prior allegations of a different sort: medical personnel failed to provide adequate investigation and documentation of the deaths of detainees.  

The article quotes the applicable Geneva Conventions, which apply broadly to "internees."  The significance of this is that it does not matter why the person was being detained.  Thus, the internee's status, whether as prisoner of war, unlawful combatant, or innocent bystander, does not matter.  

The article details many specific examples of incomplete or misleading autopsy reports, mishandled forensic evidence, and obstructed death investigations.  Furthermore, it documents cases in which military personnel wither were not charged with crimes, or were given minor punishments:
Even when investigators found a criminal homicide, the US Department of Defense was reluctant to prosecute those involved or who were aware of the abuse. A soldier who shot a prisoner to death was not prosecuted because he was not informed about the rules for using force against prisoners.[38] At Camp Bucca in September 2003, an International Committee of the Red Cross monitor saw a guard shoot a prisoner in the chest. The monitor said, "The shooting showed a clear disregard for human life and security of the persons deprived of their liberty.[9]" The US Army concluded that the shooting was justifiable. Escaping, nonthreatening detainees were shot on other occasions.[39] The base commander at Tikrit prison used an administrative procedure to preempt the prosecution of the soldier who killed Obeed Hethere Radad (see Table ). Most of the soldiers prosecuted for criminal homicides of prisoners received nonjudicial punishments, such as a reduction in rank, and the record of charges, punishments, and even the name of the victim are sealed.[3]
Dr. Miles concludes with remarkable restraint:
The failures of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology have had diverse adverse consequences. A death monitoring system, which might have led to earlier awareness and prevention of homicides and abuse caused by torture, was never operational. Mishandled evidence and incomplete evaluations allowed alleged perpetrators of lethal torture to go unprosecuted. The failure to integrate the completion of death certificates into a Geneva-mandated system for notifying relatives of deaths compounded the grief, anger, and uncertainty of families. Bodies were administratively buried rather than being interred by relatives with proper ceremonies in the family's chosen place of interment. Our national reputation and interests were harmed by these failures.
Yes, our national reputation and interests were harmed.  The reputation of the medical profession has been harmed.  The reputation of the US and British military forces were harmed.  Somehow, though, the politicians have been given a pass.
Update: as pointed out by Dr. DeFACCto from Cardioblog, there's a pertinent op-ed piece by By Burton J. Lee III, M.D., in the Washington Post, here.

Concrete Horse

We put this concrete horse up near the house.
For some reason, the real horses keep knocking it over.
I think it bothers them.

Republican Presidential Strategy in 2008

No, I don't have any leaked memos.  I'm just making this up.  But I think it is true and I think it illustrates an important point.

A recent essay by John Kenneth White and John Zogby discusses President Bush's declining poll numbers, and delves into the numbers behind the numbers.  What they find is that much of the downturn is due to declining support among independents and moderates.  While both groups trended toward Kerry in 2004, now they have turned overwhelmingly against Bush.  This provides clues about the likely Republican Presidential Strategy in 2008.  In this post, I examine the reasons for the loss of support amongst independents and moderates, and the implications of this shift.  Continue reading here.

Categories: politics
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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Harry Potter Stats


According to Zogby, Hermione Granger would beat Harry and Ron in a Presidential election.  Also, most Harry Potter fans think that both George W. Bush and Hilary R. Clinton belong in Slytherin.  29% of adults say they have read at least one Harry Potter book, and 66% of those say they plan to read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  

President Granger

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Old News Still Relevant

Link-skipping today, I encountered an article at BBC News about an unusual case report, or at least, a case report of an unusual presentation of a common illness:
Loud snoring link to hallucinations
BBC News
January 15, 1999

A sleep disorder that results in loud snoring could also combine with other factors to induce hallucinations, doctors say.

Doctors from Kings Mill Hospital in Nottinghamshire studied the case of a man who was admitted to hospital suffering confusion during the day and hallucinations at night.

Hospital staff originally thought the 65-year-old man, who also suffered bronchitis and was overweight, was suffering from dementia.

But he was referred to a specialist respiratory unit when his wife mentioned that he snored heavily, with periods of choking and breath-holding. [...]

The doctors say sleep apnoea combined with bronchitis could cause progressive carbon dioxide retention, leading to the man's symptoms.

They write: "Obstructive sleep apnoea is common, with prevalence estimates in the adult male population of about 1%.

"The main features of obstructive sleep apnoea are snoring and daytime sleepiness, but its presentation with neuropsychiatric symptoms is well recognised."
My only objection pertains to the last sentence. Patients with obstructive (or central) sleep apnea often do present with psychiatric symptoms, and this is well documented in the medical literature, but that is not the same as being well recognized.  Doctors quite often fail to recognize this presentation.  Patients who come in with main complaints of a psychiatric nature often are not subjected to sufficient medical evaluation.

Categories: medicine, sleep disorders
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Alternative Treatments?

LAT, among others, reports on a study that investigated congregational prayer, and bedside therapies using music and touch, to see if they could detect an improvement in survival after surgery.  The study was published in The Lancet.  Unfortunately, the Lancet site is down for maintenance so I can't access it now.  I can, however, put on my perpetual sophomore hat, and offer a few uninformed comments.  Continue reading here.

Categories: science, medicine, being nice
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Friday, July 15, 2005

Friday Blog Blogging

A while back, someone suggested that I submit a picture of our new colt to Modulator's Friday Ark.  I think it was "grrlscientist" AKA Hedwig the Owl,  at Living the Scientific Life.  I never got around to it, though, just as I've not yet gotten around to the Book meme she so graciously tagged me with.  But surprise, surprise, Modulator found yesterday's photo of April and Champie and included it anyway.

I actually happen to have quite a lot of photos that I could put up, but I'm still laboring with a 56K dialup connection, and it really is a pain in the neck to upload all that stuff.  Hedwig has a ton of great bird pictures on her Flickr site.  Another neat nature site is Sunidesus Sees.

And there was another blog surprise this week.  When I first started this blog, I never thought that one of my more popular posts would be about feminine hygiene products.  Surely, it would be something about the CNS drug pipeline, or an advance in sleep disorder research, or an environmental exposé, or maybe an incisive political analysis.  Just goes to show how unpredictable life can be.

Since I often write about medical topics, you might think I would have something to say about the rising possibility of a bird flu epidemic.  But no.  Instead, what I've noticed is that there has been an epidemic of photos from New Mexico.  The latest outbreak is at zap (patriotic).  Other outbreaks have been sighted at Mousemusings (1 2) and Dangerousmeta, and photo-secession.org (which appear to be two sites run by one guy), as well as sergeant's photostream.  

And to top it all off, here's a photo by a guy I once spent a summer with in Wyoming...

Photo in the News: Whale Found in Egypt Desert
Photograph courtesy Philip D. Gingerich/University of Michigan

The first of the truly gigantic whales, Basilosaurus had the serpentine shape of a sea monster and short, sharp teeth for hunting sharks and other prey. Unlike today's whales, it had no blowhole—the ancient behemoth had to raise its head above water to breathe. What's more, Basilosaurus still had the feet it inherited from its land-dwelling ancestors, according to Gingerich, who works for the University of Michigan and is a National Geographic Society grantee.

BBA Members

The list of Big Brass Alliance members has gotten so long, that it is not practical to use the scrolling list I have in the sidebar. Therefore, I am putting the whole thing here. I'll update it every few weeks, as the list grows.
Support Afterdowningstreet.org
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  396. I'm Pissed !,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and someones going to
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  617. Operation Conflict Resolution
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  619. Orwell's Grave
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  669. pony rides and monkey pictures
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  719. ReBelle Nation
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  725. Relentlessly Optimistic
  726. Republic of T
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  728. Return of the Nubian Princess
  729. Revenge of a Liberal
  730. Revolution Times
  731. Revolutionary Paradigm
  732. RFK Democrats
  733. Richmond to Freemont and across the bay bridge
  734. Ridin' Herd on the Blogosphere
  735. Right of Center Ice
  736. Rising Hegemon
  737. Rob McBean's Five Of Five
  738. Rob's Blog
  739. RobbDogg'sBlog
  740. robert@
  741. Robinik
  742. Robust McManlyPants
  743. RogerART.com
  744. romablog
  745. Rook's Rant
  746. rousing the rabble
  747. Rowhouse Logic
  748. Rox Populi
  749. Rubber Hose
  750. Rummy's Diaries
  751. Running Scared
  752. sabrebutt.com
  753. sacar una foto
  754. Sad Parade
  755. Samm Simpson's Blog
  756. Santa Clara COunty Democratic Party blog
  757. Sassafrass
  758. Science And Politics
  759. Science and Sarcasm
  760. Scoobie Davis Online
  761. Scout Prime
  762. Scrivener's Lament
  763. Scrivenings
  764. Scrutiny Hooligans
  765. Seajane
  766. Secede from the Union
  767. Second Civil War
  768. Section 15
  769. Seeing the Forest
  770. Seen by a Different Light
  771. Semidi
  772. Shades of Grey
  773. Shakespeare's Sister
  774. She Flies With Her Own Wings
  775. Shining Light In Dark Corners
  776. SimianBrain
  777. Simply Appalling
  778. Simply Left Behind
  779. sinequanon
  780. Singularity
  781. Sinister
  782. Skaroff Blog
  783. SkipperStyle
  784. Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
  785. Sleepy Kid
  786. snow-moon
  787. So May It Secretly Begin
  788. Societas
  789. Somesuch Whatnots
  790. Something Requisitely Witty and Urbane
  791. Spazzzdic Musings
  792. Speak Your Mind And Read Mine
  793. SpidelBlog
  794. SpidelBlog - A Progressive Organizer
  795. Spindrift
  796. Spittle & Ink
  797. Spontaneous Arising
  798. Spoof News
  799. Spurious George
  800. Squeeze - A Personal View
  801. StallNine: Spirit of the Blog
  802. Startle the Echoes
  803. State Of The Qusan
  804. Stayin' Alive
  805. StealthBadger.net
  806. Stephen's Peace and Human Rights Blog
  807. SteveAudio
  808. Still Fighting
  809. Stogies & Politics Lounge
  810. Stone Bridge
  811. Stone Cupid Real (Digest)
  812. Stranger in a Strange Land
  813. stroll-thither
  814. Stupid Country
  815. Suburban Guerrilla
  816. Summer Evening's Post
  817. Summer Of Protest
  818. Sumo Merriment
  819. Sunshine's Blah Blah Blogger
  820. Supreme Irony
  821. Suspect Device
  822. Sweet Liberty News
  823. Swerve Left
  824. Synaptic Junction
  825. T. Rex's Guide to Life
  826. Taking Back Our Country
  827. Taking on Goliath
  828. Talk Humanism
  829. Tallitsch for Congress
  830. Tami - The One True
  831. Tammany on the Hudson
  832. Tangible Contempt
  833. Tannishblog
  834. Tarbaby's Briarpatch
  835. Tennessee Guerilla Women
  836. TenthMile
  837. Texas Civil Rights Review
  838. texas yankee
  839. that black lesbian jew
  840. That Black Lesbian Jew
  841. That Colored Fellas Weblog
  842. That Crazy Kid, That Okcitykid, He said WHAT!
  843. That's Going Too Far!
  844. The 800lbs Gorilla
  845. The All Spin Zone
  846. The American Street
  847. The Anti-Corporate Patriot
  848. The Ape Man
  849. The Big Red Blog
  850. The Biggest Media
  851. The Blaghdad Café
  852. The Blooog
  853. The Blue Republic
  854. The Blue Voice
  855. The BM Rant
  856. The Broad View
  857. The Buffalo Party .com
  858. The Bulldog Manifesto
  859. The Bulldog Says...
  860. The Burned Over District
  861. The Bush Diaries
  862. The Catharine Chronicles
  863. The Center of NJ Life
  864. The Command T.O.C.
  865. The Cranky Liberal Pages
  866. The Crazy Years
  867. The Culture Ghost
  868. The Curmudgeonly Crab
  869. The Cyberactivist
  870. The Daily Blatt
  871. The Daily Pulse
  872. The Dark Stuff
  873. the defeatists!
  874. The Democracy Cell Project
  875. The Democratic Daily
  876. The Dirty Northwest
  877. The Disenchanted Forest
  878. The Disgruntled Chemist
  879. The Dishpan Chronicles
  880. The Dissident
  881. The Emmaus Theory
  882. The Fat Lady Sings
  883. The Fifth Horseman
  884. The First Church of Free Speech
  885. The Flickertail Journal
  886. The Four Reasons
  887. The Funny Farm
  888. The Georgetown Reporter
  889. The Good Human
  890. The Great Society
  891. The Great Union
  892. The Green Knight
  893. The Green Lantern
  894. The Gypsy's Caravan
  895. The Hapless Toad
  896. The Heretik
  897. The Higher Pie
  898. The Hungry Blogger
  899. The Immoral Minority
  900. The Impolitic
  901. The Incurable Insomniac
  902. the JK experience
  903. The John Blog
  904. The Kendallian
  905. The Knitting Curmudgeon
  906. The Lantern
  907. The Left Coaster
  908. The Left End of the Dial
  909. The Liberal
  910. The Liberal Avenger
  911. The Liberal Observer
  912. The Liberal San Diego Community
  913. The Life of a Liberal Teenager
  914. The Light of Reason
  915. The Lobby
  916. The Mahablog
  917. The Modern Guy
  918. The Moon's Favors
  919. The Naked Truth
  920. The Nevada City Free Press
  921. The New Oklahoma Democrat
  922. The News Writer
  923. the O nest
  924. The OCD Gen X Liberal
  925. The Oil Drum
  926. The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!
  927. the only official blog of clayton littlejohn
  928. The Open Mind
  929. The Opinion Mill
  930. The Pepper Farm
  931. The Phnom Penh
  932. The Pickwick Pecker
  933. The PO'd Liberal
  934. The Poor Man
  935. The Price is Left
  936. The Prissy Patriot
  937. The Progressive Line
  938. The Proud Liberal Bitch
  939. The Reaction -- by Michael J.W. Stickings
  940. The Republic Newswire
  941. The Richmond Democrat
  942. The Right Left Story
  943. The Roaring Hamster
  944. The Ruth Group
  945. The Sappho Manifesto
  946. The Sarchasm
  947. The Side Street
  948. The Smedley Log
  949. The Snarky Cat
  950. The Southern Dem
  951. The Surging Waves
  952. The Talking Lion
  953. The Tattered Coat
  954. The TLW Leftblog
  955. The United Peoples
  956. The Unknown Candidate
  957. The Wertz Generation
  958. The Word of Todd
  959. The Working Families Party Man
  960. The World Monitor
  961. The Worst Bush Presidency (Solid Kerry!)
  962. The Wrex Files
  963. The Young Liberals
  964. The Zen Cabin
  965. The Zombie Process
  966. The-Goddess
  967. thedirtysouth
  968. Thetip.org
  969. They Get Letters
  970. Thick, Meaty Slices of Brain
  971. Thinkin' Dem
  972. Thinking Blue
  973. Thinking Rocks
  974. This Far and No Further
  975. this woman's work
  976. ThomasMc.com
  977. Thou Shall Not Suck
  978. Thoughts From An Empty Head
  979. Thoughts from Kansas
  980. Thoughts from the kitchen
  981. Thoughts From Up Here
  982. Thoughts of an Average Woman
  983. Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse
  984. Tild ~
  985. To The Barricades
  986. To the Left of the Dial
  987. Today in Iraq
  988. Torgerson's Blog
  989. Tracy And Matt's Blog
  990. Transcendental Floss
  991. Traumatized by Truth
  992. Trillion Dollar Man
  993. True Blue Liberal
  994. Trust Me, You Have No Idea...
  995. Truth Be Told
  996. Truth For America
  997. Truth Serum
  998. Tsuredzuregusa
  999. Twins Mom Whoa's
  1000. Two Feet In
  1001. Two Glasses
  1002. Ujjayi
  1003. Uncivil Discourse
  1004. Under The Lobsterscope
  1005. Unitarian Jihad
  1006. unnamed
  1007. Unofficial Kerry For President Blog
  1008. UnspunBlog
  1009. UpbeatBlogs - Free blogs for Liberals
  1010. UpbeatDefiance
  1011. Upon Further Review...
  1012. Urania Thoughts
  1013. US News & World News Digest
  1014. USS John F Kennedy
  1015. veiled4allah
  1016. Very Pissed Off Combat Veterans
  1017. Vestal Vespa
  1018. Videography Blog
  1019. View From A Lefty
  1020. Virtual Pus
  1021. Virtual|Matter
  1022. Visions of Peace: A Combat Vet's Dream
  1023. Voices of Reason
  1024. Voodoo Knickers
  1025. Wake Up America !!!
  1026. Wally Whateley's House of Horrors
  1027. Wally's Diary and Political Comment
  1028. WARNING!! You Can't Handle the TRUTH!!!!! But here
  1029. washingtonrox
  1030. Waveflux
  1031. We Are All Volunteers in This Army
  1032. We Care Without Borders - The Global Citizen
  1033. We have failed our duty as Americans...
  1034. We Move To Canada
  1035. Weapons of Mass Distraction
  1036. Welcome to Gilead
  1037. What Do I Know?
  1038. What It Is Today
  1039. What She Said!
  1040. What The Futch?
  1041. What we know so far
  1042. What's in Scott's head?
  1043. What's the Matter With Michael Moore?
  1044. whatz dat wojto?
  1045. When Truth Matters Most
  1046. While we still have time
  1047. Whirled Peas
  1048. Who Hijacked Our Country
  1049. Why Are We Back in Iraq?
  1050. Wilson's Blogmanac
  1051. Winding Road in Urban Area
  1052. Winter Patriot
  1053. Winterline
  1054. With Fingernails That Shine Like Justice
  1055. withinsight
  1056. Women's Autonomy&Sexual Sovereignty Movements
  1057. Wonderland or Not
  1058. wonkabout
  1059. wonky muse
  1060. word of mouth
  1061. Words Have Power
  1062. Words Light Fires
  1063. Words on a Page
  1064. WordWhammy
  1065. World Musings Ltd.
  1066. World Patroit
  1067. writeorwrong2
  1068. Wrong Side of the Tracks
  1069. Xenox News
  1070. Xpatriated Texan
  1071. Yankee Transplant
  1072. Yaw and Mog
  1073. Yelladog
  1074. Yellow Dog Blog
  1075. Yellow Doggerel Democrat
  1076. Yep, another Goddamned blog
  1077. Yoga Korunta
  1078. You Forgot Poland!
  1079. Yowling from the Fencepost
  1080. Zaphod's Heads
  1081. Zeebahtronic
  1082. Zen Comix
  1083. [libcat]
  1084. || Stuff ||