Friday, June 29, 2007

Things are really bad when the only adult in the room

is a 16-year-old child.

She's sixteen years old. She's made it through tenth grade. She has no job, has never had one. She lives with her mom and brother. No dad, he died. This brother has already fathered a child and his mom is raising it, her grandchild, for him.

If she were to stand up before you right now and say I want to have children someday, but not just yet, you would praise her for her wisdom, her intelligence, her maturity, her sense of responsibility.

Here's the kicker: she's already pregnant.

She wants to get an abortion. She lives in a state that requires minors to notify their parents before getting an abortion. For whatever reason, she feels like she cannot do this and has petitioned the court for "judicial bypass," the process where a minor can go before a judge and get special permission to get an abortion without notifying her parents.

The lower court has ruled that she's too immature to make this decision on her own. She appealed that ruling, and the next higher court has also ruled that she's too immature to make this decision on her own.

Right.


There's a lot not to like about this whole case, and I had planned to tell you in detail what I think of the court's decision, but I'm just too angry right now. Maybe later.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!

I've been working on several lengthy and depressing posts for y'all, but got distracted. First by idiots while researching those lengthy and depressing posts, then by the Meme of 8, Conscientious Objector Sub-Sector.

1. All right, here are the rules.
2. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
3. Players start with ocho random facts/habits about themselves.
4. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their acht things and post these rules.
5. At the end of your blog, you need to choose oito people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.


  1. I'm in ur blogz, stealin all ur m3m3z! I have another blog, run by one of my sockpuppets [I have more sockpuppets than Imelda had shoes]. I lurk at other peoples' blogs, then post their memes on my blog, without telling them or tagging anyone. If you're missing one of your memes, you might find it over there.

  2. I can say shit in 8 different languages.

  3. I have 1 pair of steel-toed boots, and an uncounted number of flipflops. Mostly I go barefoot.

  4. I rescue elderly and abused dogs. So why is my place full of kittens?

  5. I was raised by Republicans.

  6. I like to blow stuff up. It's why I got the chemistry degree.

  7. I don't see in 3-D the way most people do, but I'm better than you are at visualizing complex 3-dimensional objects from 2-dimensional drawings.

  8. Mensa wants me. They can't have me.

  9. There is a kitten attacking my bare foot as I type this.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Gone herping. Drop dead.

Gosh, it's cute. Really and truly. I stole the picture from Wikipedia. Tuatara. Look it up if you care.

I adore herps. I don't keep them as pets, they're smelly and too often bacteria-laden [komodo drool, anyone?], but they're really cool-looking. Real-life dragons. How could you not love them?

Back in ye olde college days, I had a summer job doing environmentalist stuff [ok, most of my college jobs were tree-hugger-y], and one of the projects I helped out on, just for fun, was collecting endangered salamanders. Or was it newts? I forget now, but don't google newt if you love funny-looking critters [or do].

Catching the the slithery little critters the easy way meant getting in the car and driving slowly down the roads in the middle of the night, spotting them in the headlights. So that our housemates didn't worry about us, we always put signs on our respective bedroom doors: Gone herping.

--How did you spend your summer vacation?
--Salamander-jacking.

I forget what it was that prompted me to google herps several days ago, but I haven't forgotten the result. Google asked me, did you mean: herpes and then went on to list a boatload of links to articles about, and eeeuuuuwwww gross pictures of, herpes. And the ads! Ads galore for herpes cures, and at least one herpes dating site.

Now, I'm all for public service announcements, and putting all kinds of good and useful information out there, even if it is gross, and making it available to the widest possible audience, especially if nobody else will tell you about it. Google has probably helped out any number of computer-literate people who can't spell but probably ought to be calling up their doctors. That's a good thing.

And being a spelling nazi myself, and a very good speller too [though a clumsy typist and dyslexic reader], I almost always appreciate it when Google catches one of my typos and lets me change direction in one mouseclick, rather than making me retype the whole word. I use this little convenience a lot. Thank you, Google, but

NO I DID NOT FUCKING WANT TO KNOW ABOUT HERPES !!!

Herps. Snakes. Lizards. Alligators. Crocodiles. Salamanders. Turtles. Eye of newt and toe of frog. Them critters. That's what I wanted pictures of. I count myself among the very fortunate that when I clicked on "Images" with herps in the search box, what came up were in fact images of snakes and other creepy crawlies, instead of festering sores.

On the matter of technology mostly being helpful and mostly acting the way you expect it to, but not always: today was Go Live day. The project I have devoted, and I do mean devoted, myself to for the past few years has been to drag this operation [no further specifications forthcoming] from the 19th century into the 21st [not a typo]. This portion of it entails sending a bunch of grumpy computer-illiterate technophobes out in pickup trucks, armed with laptops, wireless cards, and fancy-schmancy software.

This particular week, a lucky select chosen few of us, the normally-office-bound geekheads, will be spending our days riding around in said trucks, acting as personal coaches for the New Users. Note to self: one chocolate bar is not enough to get through a whole day, take two tomorrow.

They said we were randomly paired up for this, but I've been assigned to the gentleman who got stuck with me my first week on the job. His assignment back then was to teach me his job, so that I could then come back into the office and spend the next few years of my life taming the electrons needed for him to do his job paperlessly. He very patiently spent that week teaching me to use all his equipment [that didn't come out right, did it?] and holding my hand while wading through the mountains of paperwork.

Bonus: he also taught me water-witching that same week. There are people who will tell you that I was already good at the witchy part. Don't listen to them.

I survived today, obviously. There were some glitches, including one important function that was working last night but crapped out this morning and another important function whose launch is just going to have to be delayed for several months. Grrrrr. The day was hot and humid, a few F-bombs were dropped, I got carsick. I am, however, a goddess now. Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+V is way faster than writing the required comments on paper.

Kill me now.

No. Wait.
You should read this.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sermonizing and stuff


  • I've added a link in the sidebar to BibleGateway.com. Not to worry, though, I haven't got religion. I just want to be able to recklessly throw around Bible quotes. I used to be able to do this from memory, but have since decided to devote those brain cells to other functions.


  • Verse of the Day for today, when I did happen upon BibleGateway.com, was “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”- 2 Thessalonians 3:3 I'm not sure if Jesus can save me from Darth Cheney, but Thessalonians is just a fun word to say.


  • Speaking of whom, in Ron Suskind's book The One Percent Doctrine, Cheney justifies the GWOT and all of his other actions basically, by saying that if there's even a 1% chance of ___insert fear-of-the-day here___ happening, we must act as if it is true. Not that he ever bothers to show his work on those calculations. What goes into deciding that there's a 1% chance that Saddam Hussein had WMDs? I'm betting Cheney just pulled a number out of the ether.


  • Speaking of pulling numbers out of ethers, in that same book, Cheney or some henchperson figures out that if you follow the money, you can maybe track terrorists. Rather than hurriedly cobble together a computer program and/or database, they just went to FirstData and got all their data. Yep, that's right, FirstData would be the company that handles abut half the credit card transactions in the US. Cheney didn't even have to snarl at them to get them to hand over the info, they were plumb tickled to do their patriotic duty and help their country. Nor is this the first-ever time in history that the government has asked a huge corporation to hand over their records of their customers' transactions and the corporation has complied.


  • Speaking of credit: a small public service announcement


  • Google Street View is still just a fun toy, no way are we anywhere near living in a panopticon society, right? Well, maybe just in New York City and London and a few other places and a few remote spots in sunny Florida.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A brief history of US health insurance

I've cherry-picked another quote for you:
At the forefront of these service (non)providers was U.S. Healthcare, which grew out of the first for-profit HMOs in the 1970s. By the early 1990s, it was the largest publicly traded HMO, with annual revenues of more than $1 billion. The company -- a notorious proponent of gag clauses in physician contracts that prevented doctors from giving patients a thorough description of their treatment options -- took on the mission of revolutionizing the insurance industry. In a 1992 interview with Business Week , U.S. Healthcare founder and chairman Leonard Abramson expressed scorn for traditional carriers, calling them "dinosaurs" and saying they operated in "a dying world." [emphasis mine]


We should be giving tax dollars to this industry? One that prevents your doctor from telling you about all possible treatment options for whatever ails you? No.

It's a readable and not overly techincal review of the industry's morphing from social insurance [premiums are the same for everyone, and risks are spread over as large a pool as possible] to actuarial insurance [individual premiums are based on individual risk, and high-risk members are "encouraged" to drop out of the pool].

Those "dinosaurs" mentioned in the quote above were of the social insurance persuasion, whether they were for-profit or non-profit, and they predominated until about the 1970s. There were flaws, and health care costs were rising*, but our present-day system is almost entirely actuarial now, and things are just worse. Much worse.

* Just thought I'd point out this sentence fragment [top of page 2 of the article]: "... escalating health costs -- a problem that was greatly exacerbated by the growth of for-profit hospital chains."

I [heart] Digby.


Especially now that I know she's a grrrl.

via

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dear Google:

found it at the best lolcats site evah of course

If you won't listen to me, maybe you'll listen to the cats. Your slogan, Don't Be Evil, is a good one, but it doesn't go far enough. How about you expand it to include, Don't Facilitate Evil. I'm a believer in Dirk Gently's interconnectedness of all things, and I like having lots of information at my fingertips like this, but y'all are going overboard. If I wanted everybody and his cousin's jackass to know all about me, I'd move back to that small town I left.

The City of Gulf Breeze is a meanie.

The city known as Gulf Breeze, [Santa Rosa county] Florida, being a rather-better-off-than-you-and-me bedroom community for Pensacola and Escambia county, has also long been known as kind of a snooty, stuck-up place with [fortunately] a slight leavening of surfer kids, since they're both rich enough to afford the hobby and close enough to the beach that they can skip only part of the school day and still get some surfing in.

It's a nice little community: clean, quiet, articulate even [also very white]. It's surrounded by water, making it a great place for boating and fishing and just hanging out in some wonderful parks. Used to be you could even hang out at the parks with your dogs. But some truly cranky types got it into their heads that dogs were going to be the ruination of the place or something, and some fairly draconian and dog-unfriendly ordinances were drafted and passed.

I've been boycotting Gulf Breeze businesses ever since [that would be years now]. Not that it seems to have made an impression on them. Then again maybe it did make an impression, because now the city is on the warpath against cats. The cats of Wayside Park, to be precise.

Wayside Park is at the foot of the Old Fishing Bridge, as it's known locally. There's a Wayside park on the Escambia county side too, where the other end of the old bridge was. What's left of the bridge at each end is now used as fishing piers, and we all know what kind of trash ends up at fishing piers. Dead fish. The ultimate in cat food. The el primo of cat food. All cats should be so lucky.

But the good luck is running out. Time is running out too. Come July 1st, the city is going trap and kill the cats. Actually, they're not even going to do the killing themselves. Gulf Breeze is in Santa Rosa county, which has its own animal shelter, but the cats are going to be carted across the bay into Escambia county, to our animal shelter, to be killed.

Did I call these people snooty? That was too kind of me. Hypocritical comes to mind. So do some other words.

Stepping off my soapbox for now. If you can donate to help the kitties, please do so. If you can make it to the June 27 city council meeting, do so. If you live far away, write to the mayor, the city council, the city manager, the parks department, and tell them [preferably politely] that if they start killing off cats, you will elect to spend your tourist dollars in some other [kinder, gentler, saner] town. Tourist dollars count for a lot here in Florida.

Also, if you could work in a few good words for TNR, that would be cool. It [public pressure] worked in Wisconsin, it can work here too.

nice website about the cats
http://www.waysidecats.com/

blurb at the City of Gulf Breeze website about the cats
http://www.cityofgulfbreeze.com/Cats.pdf

contact info for mayor, city council, etc
http://www.cityofgulfbreeze.com/govt/index.html


Apologies for the do-it-yourself linkages. Computer difficulties.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

All the cool kids are doing it.

What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

* abortion (5x)
* torture (3x)
* death (2x)
* sexy (1x)

I could have sworn I'd said death and abortion both more often than that.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

over there --->



On the Times Select front page [from the link in your sidebar] I see these items listed on the right hand side of my screen. I was particularly interested in the one under The Opinionator ...a law professor says the Duke lacrosse case nearly ended differently.

I'm also interested in the Richard Conniff: Basic Instincts A well-run hierarchy beats giving power to the people, and Judith Warner: Domestic Disturbances On the women who like Hillary CLinton, and the women who don't.

Even if those last two are worth reading, I think it's unlikely that I'd blog about them, so those are minor requests.

Monday, June 18, 2007

What I'm reading

You've seen those widgets in people's sidebars, variously titled What I'm Reading or Book List or so forth. Then there are the various blogoland book clubs, some of which I even secretly follow, and there's no dearth of good reviewers out there in cyberspace either. I've got a list of books to read th-i-i-i-i-i-s lo-o-o-o-o-ong that I won't be able to reach the end of, even if I outlive Methuselah and all his grandkids, but there's a special section titled What Keifus Read that resides near the top of the list.

Not to mention a little light reading I was wading through at lunch today:


Just in case you wanted to follow along.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Nick Anderson



You can see the rest of Nick Anderson's animations here and his blog here.

h/t Steve, in the comments on the post below

BWAAA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA !!!!!!!!!!




That bright spot isn't the result of an incoming missile, it's from the operator's own rocket that made a 180 and came back home to roost.

Think you can do better? Try it yourself.

[via]

Vote




Lolcat Caption Contest #1

You have till 11:59 Monday.

Friday, June 15, 2007

My Dog Has Fleas

eine kleine background music while you read
more


The dog has fleas.
Curmudgeon cat has fleas.
Mom cat has fleas.
The weightless balls of fluff all have fleas.
I have fleas.

That last was confirmed yesterday. I was driving to work, waiting for the red light to change, when I noticed some little black specks merrily hopping around the front of my crisp white shirt. Oh, great. Now my car has fleas.

The front porch has fleas. I stepped out there yesterday afternoon and immediately my nether limbs, from knee bone to toe bone, were covered in little black specks. Little black specks that jumped on me faster than I could brush them off. Nothing to be done for that except step back into the house to brush them off. Great, now my carpet has fleas. I've always hated this carpet anyway. Maybe I can talk the managment into replacing it. With linoleum. Lemonade, right?

The Fab Five have only recently, in the past 2 or 3 days, expanded their range to include the bedroom. This afternoon when I got home I found patches kitten and tiger kitten sleeping in the folds of the squunched-up blanket. Oh now this is just dandy. My bed has fleas.

The dog kept me awake most of last night, squeaking and whining and panting in frustration as he tried to pick all the fleas out of his chow-thick fur. Curmudgeon cat and I will be spending Caturday morning at the vet, getting shots and drugs for his flea allergy.

Yesterday I stopped at the vet's on the way home from work and picked up enough Advantage for all of us. $107.

The vet asked first how old the kittens were [they have to be 8 weeks for Advantage]. I can only make educated guesses, but I fibbed and said they were 8 weeks old. Based on their eyes being fully open and their coordination being pretty good when first I spotten them, I'm thinking they're very close to 8 weeks, and very definitely no younger than 7 weeks.

It doesn't matter. They're getting dosed now. Even if the rest of us were willing to wait another week, just to be sure [we're not], the risk of flea anemia is just too great with an infestation like this.

Applying the stuff to curmudgeon cat and the dog was easy. Did that last night, no problemo. Squirt squirt, here's a bite of chicken for your cooperation. The Fab Five, on the other hand, are a challenge. They will let me get very close to them now, and in turn will get very close to me, but touching them is iffy. Stealth is called for.

I fed them well last night, but a bit lightly this morning. Then I heaped the plate full of yummy kitten food and set it right next to the chair where I'm sitting now, blogging all things flea. I opened all the tiny-cat tubes of Advantage and propped them on the keyboard. As each furry body approached and fell to eating with abandon, i slowly reached down and squirted out part of one tubeful onto each pair of shoulder blades I could reach.

Three down, two to go. Mom cat wasn't too too difficult, skittish though she is, mostly because she's a slightly larger target than the weightless balls of fluff. Thing 1 and Thing 2, the two tailless blues, are tamer than all the others, and can actually be stroked while chowing down. They were easier than I expected.

Tiger kitten and patches kitten are another kettle of fish.
-- what did you do all day saturday?
-- crawled around the apartment on hands and knees, ambushing wild kittens.


I [heart] global warming. Global warming?! What's that got to do with fleas? ok, make that global climate change. Fleas don't like dry weather, and the past few years have been very dry here, unusual for this area, which used to have an annual rainfall of 60 or 70 inches. The trees are stressed and everybody's lawn is green only where the touhghest weeds are growing.

But the lack of fleas has been lovely. No more. It rained buckets not very long ago, and all those formerly dormant, now hungry fleas have come out to feast on the rest of us. I haven't mentioned yet that I still have flea spray to buy, for the porch and the car. And then I'll have to move the 8 of us to somewhere before I can flea bomb the house.

This was not in the budget. Not any of it.

Oh, well. Y'all will just have to avoid this part of the state until I can save up enough money again for that brake job and CV axle I'd been saving up for. The roads in my immediate vicinty are going to remain unsafe for a bit longer.


Update:
Tiger kitten and patches kitten have finally been gotcha'd. I can go to sleep now.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

AutoAdmit update.

here

Life lesson for some of you: hate speech is not free speech and not all of your victims are going to meekly disappear into the woodwork.

This is your candidate. This is your candidate on abortion.

Democratic candidates, pay heed: we on the real left are watching you. Closely. And we're taking notes.

Mike Gravel beats the opposition on this issue, hands down. On Roe v Wade:
Any decision on abortion should remain between a woman and her doctor. There is no room for interference from politicians and judges. [emphasis mine]

On the recent Supreme Court decision that is too stupid to be named:
I am opposed to today's ruling or any ruling that places restrictions on reproductive freedom. Today's decision authorizes federal intervention to prohibit a nationwide procedure that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has found at times to be medically necessary.

Clean, clear, no-nonsense. None of this hand-wringing that we get from all the other candidates over how difficult this is, or how women need help from family, clergy, or other do-gooder interferences in making such a momentous decision.

It's true that late-term abortions are often performed because an otherwise wanted pregnancy has gone wrong, and that these women, and their families, can and do suffer real grief, but beyond that, get over yourselves, people. It's a clump of cells, and while we can't be sure, estimates are that Mother Nature herself spontaneously aborts a hefty percentage of pregnancies before women even realize they're pregnant.

On the Republican side, what it all boils down to: evey single one of those privileged white males thinks that privileged white males should be the ones to decide this issue for the weaker sex. I'll admit to having entertained, secretly, a guilty liking for Ron Paul, but not after reading his statements on abortion. He may be an obstetrician, but so was David Hager.

via Jill at Feministe

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Amphibious Glocks

Bullets don't travel well in water. They slow down, veer off course, don't hit the target. Guns don't behave well under water either, even if you do find a way to keep your powder dry, there are still other problems to overcome.

But it's not that Glocks can be modified for use underwater that's scary, after all, modifying them for the purpose reduces their killing power. What's needed is a whole new weapon, one that shoots liquid bullets, and the military is busy working on it. Lucky us.

If you're geek enough, you can read the actual patent here.

cliff... rocks...



I've done some mildly ambitious skiing before, but nothing like this. I'm not even sure I want to try it. This makes me feel old. O-L-D old.
[more]

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The candidates on health care: Republicans

I promised you Republicans last night, so Republicans you get. They're easy, most of them care not a whit, or maybe just a whit, about health care.



compare the candidates at CNN Election Center 2008

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The lights are on, and we've all come out to play.

So, last night, after a weekend of withdrawal, I was wandering through The New Fray, some of which really is an improvement [what does this button do?], when I stumbled over JackD's question about healthcare mandates. I'd been wondering much the same thing, and in particular: How did Canada make the switch from private health insurance to universal public health care? so a-Googling I did go.

And eventually ended up somewhere deep inside this site [I don't remember where exactly]. Whichever page it was, I found some information, but not enough, so I sent an e-mail to the address that you see in the sidebar on the left there, asking for more information. I figured I'd probably eventually get some kind of form letter reply.

I came home this evening to find this in my email inbox:

Thank you for your recent email to the National Union of Public and General Employees regarding the origins of Canada's single-payer health care system. We have a pamphlet posted on our website which provides some background detail on this subject. You can find the pamphlet at this link: http://www.nupge.ca/publications/Not%20without%20a%20fight%20FINAL.pdf. In essence, we were able to establish a single-payer system for a few simple reasons: (a) In the 50's and 60's we had a social democratic Premier in the province of Saskatchewan named Tommy Douglas. He believed in the benefits of a single-payer system (specifically the notion of equality) and introduced legislation that guaranteed a single-payer system in that province. It didn't happen without a fight (as our pamphlet explains). The opposition consisted mainly of for-profit insurance companies and doctors. But Douglas stood his ground. (b) the people of Saskatchewan were fed up with the for-profit medical system that existed and wanted a public system (c) Once Saskatchewan had a single-payer system and proved it could work better than a for-profit system, then the rest of he country wanted the same thing. In the late 60's and early 70's we had a series of minority federal governments and the opposition NDP demanded that the minority Liberal government implement a national single-payer system or they would no longer keep the government in office and force an election. The liberal minority government wanted to retain power so they introduced legislation called the Canada Health Act guaranteeing a single-payer system for all Canadians. All of that's to say you need: (a) a strong political leader willing to legislate single-payer and prove to other states that it does work; (b) strong grassroots support for a single-payer system; (c) the right political circumstances nationally in order to spread the system across the whole country. I hope this information has been helpful. Again, our pamphlet has more details about the situation in Saskatchewan in the 60's and 70's.
Take care,
Mike Luff
Coordinator of Communications and Research
National Union of Public and General Employees
www.nupge.ca

Wow. That's service. Thank you, Mike.

I've browsed their site a bit this evening, especially the parts where they're trying to fight off the backers of for-profit health care. Nice karmic touch: here I am, merrily blogging about how wonderful universal health care would be and what a great example of it Canada is. Meanwhile, they're using the United States as a great example of how expensive, inefficient, and just plain awful private, for-profit health care is.

Here's their front page for the section about Canada's Medicare system.

I really do need to get back to my letter writing. This time, I think I'll start with the eight Democratic Presidential candidates, and send them all e-mails about what I want them to do about health care.

The candidates on health care: Democrats

I'm unquestionably for Kucinich, and not just because of his health care plan, which is [as far as I can tell] the only single-payer, publicly-funded plan offered by any candidate. Of all the for-profit plans, I think I like Richardson's idea the best. However, as a public service, I link you to each of their websites.



Republicans tomorrow night.


*Update: I re-read these two plans, Edwards' and Obama's, more carefully, after reading Krugman's critique of Obama's plan. Looks like they both propose to not only regulate for-profit insurance more closely, but to set up public health insurance plans too, that [some? all?] people will be allowed to buy into. This means I should go back and re-read all the others more carefully too. Alternatively, y'all could just read them yourselves, now that I've been helpful enough to link to them for you.

Monday, June 04, 2007

What he said.


Ian Welsh, at The Agonist, on the American health care system: Hard And Complicated Aren't Synonyms

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Jesus H Fucking Christ, Bill!




What part of NO MORE TORTURE did you not understand?!

Just put on your blue eye shadow, get yourself a snazzy little BMW, and go park it somewhere, whydoncha.

Dickhead.

Dear Google:

Are you listening? Probably you are. Do you care what I want? Maybe you do. Will you do as I ask? Probably not, but here goes.

Google Keeps Tweaking Its Search Engine
By SAUL HANSELL
Published: June 3, 2007

[NYT article, may require registration to view]

That tweak about the "hot news" for new items is a good one. Keep that one.

Personalized search? Already I don't like it. The whole reason I use Google is to find stuff outside of my own personal realm. If you're restricting what I see based on what you think I want to see, I'll have to go look elsewhere.

Privacy issues. Lots of them, and they're piling up. I'm sure you already know all about this, being the secretive bastards you are when it comes to your stuff. Quit collecting my secrets.

Russian roulette is probably safer

Drug companies, the FDA, and some doctors, don't appear to have your health as one of their top priorities. Newsflash.

First up, clinical trials in general:
After Sanctions, Doctors Get Drug Company Pay
By GARDINER HARRIS and JANET ROBERTS
Published: June 3, 2007

[NYT article, may require registration to view]
A decade ago the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice accused Dr. Faruk Abuzzahab of a “reckless, if not willful, disregard” for the welfare of 46 patients, 5 of whom died in his care or shortly afterward. The board suspended his license for seven months and restricted it for two years after that.

But Dr. Abuzzahab, a Minneapolis psychiatrist, is still overseeing the testing of drugs on patients and is being paid by pharmaceutical companies for the work. At least a dozen have paid him for research or marketing since he was disciplined.

Medical ethicists have long argued that doctors who give experimental medicines should be chosen with care. Indeed, the drug industry’s own guidelines for clinical trials state, “Investigators are selected based on qualifications, training, research or clinical expertise in relevant fields.” Yet Dr. Abuzzahab is far from the only doctor to have been disciplined or criticized by a medical board but later paid by drug makers.

An analysis of state records by The New York Times found more than 100 such doctors in Minnesota, at least two with criminal fraud convictions. While Minnesota is the only state to make its records publicly available, the problem, experts say, is national.


But we have the FDA looking out for us, keeping up with this, keeping us safe, because that's why the agency was created in the first place, right? Wrong.
Drug makers are not required to inform the agency when they discover that investigators are falsifying data, and indeed some have failed to do so in the past. The F.D.A. plans to require such disclosures, Dr. Woodcock [deputy commissioner and chief medical officer of the Food and Drug Administration] said. The agency inspects at most 1 percent of all clinical trials, she said.


Just a side note, but it looks like Minnesota is a good state to practice in if you're not a very good doctor:
The records most likely understate the extent of the problem because they are incomplete. And the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice disciplines a smaller share of the state’s doctors than almost any other medical board in the country, according to rankings by Public Citizen, an advocacy group based in Washington.



And here, one drug in particular:
Doctor Says Drug Maker Tried to Quash His Criticism of Avandia
By STEPHANIE SAUL
Published: June 2, 2007

[NYT article, may require registration to view]

I don't think I'll pick out any quotes from this one, it's difficult to tell from this article whether the drug company suppressed data, or the doctor has an axe to grind because he has some kind of interest in a competing drug. Looks like it could be either or both or some of each, but none of it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling about clinical trials.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I can has Heisenburger?




No, I wasn't on my toes enough to think of that one myself, damn it. It was one of the commenters here.

UPDATE 6-10-2007
The link to the blog where I found this picture no longer works exactly, though you can get there eventually, if you keep at it, but I did find the story about the original image. It's a great image, and Xena's a gorgeous cat. Read all about it here.

I [heart] the pursuit of perfection in trivial things

old dichotomy: left brain v. right brain
new dichotomy: backhand v. forehand

Herding kittens

you're not blogging about those darned kittens again, are you?
why, yes. yes, i am.


It's possible that I'll find myself filing this one under Be careful what you wish for at some later date, but for now, Mission Accomplished!.

The porch cats have all moved indoors. Finally. They're a bit confused by the door that won't open. Curmudgeon cat has resigned himself to accepting the whole situation with bad grace. The dog is beside himself with joy. I've put out 3 litter boxes and now I'm going to bed.

Meanwhile, here's a charming little time waster for you. I made it to 263 while I was waiting for all the cats to work their way far enough into the living room for me to sneak past them and close the door when they weren't looking. If I ever remember which blog I found it at, I'll paste the link Aha! Found it here.