Friday, October 31, 2008

Heal Spiel Halloween Edition: Chelation Therapist Taking Our Questions

Orac at "Respectul Insolence" of Scienceblogs writes about (ok, mainly mocks) Dr. Rashid Buttar, D.O., a physician at the Center for Advanced Medicine and Clinical Research, who "successfully cures" autism via chelation therapy. Chelators are normally used in the case of overdose of iron, arsenic, mercury, or other heavy metals. However, some "practioners" use it to "rid" the body of (unmeasured, but presumed) elevated mercury levels, among other thins, which (if we only wish it enough!), only exist due to a previous vaccination (given years prior). The pesky North Carolina Medical Board forbade Dr. Buttar from continuing to practice medicine on children, but the good doctor is kind enough to solicit our questions, so he can impart his profound knowledge upon the rest of us.

Dr. Orac is collecting questions from his readers. Some people wrote really boring stuff that was all actually relevant to science and evidence-based medicine and stuff. Examples include:
1. Name all papers showing that autistics have higher body burdens of heavy metals, after controlling for diet, pica and urbanicity.

2. Severe heavy metal poisoning is invariably fatal if not treated. Why isn't autism known as a condition that has a mortality rate?

3. How does a heavy metal poisoning model explain the most widely replicated findings in regards to autistic strengths, e.g. better than normal performance in block design tasks?

4. In light of studies that show a genetic link to autism, do you still believe that mercury in vaccines is the only cause of autism?

5. Also, in light of the fact that autism rates have not gone down since the removal of mercury from most vaccines, why do still think there is a link between mercury and autism?

Personally, I thought these questions were BOOORRRIIING, so I decided to ask Dr. Buttar a question regarding my personal health:

Dear Mr. Buttar,

I need some medical advice. I was very concerned about "heavy metal toxicity," and knew iron was a major culprit, so I decided on receiving chelation therapy. Unfortunately, that didn't get rid of every last bit of iron (my hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were still in normal range!), so now I've chosen to puncture my femoral, carotid, and cerebral arteries, and to let my blood flow out until a CBC finally comes back saying that my Fe, ferritin, and transferrin-saturation levels are zero. That's how I'll know that the poisonous metal will be gone for good!
However, while I'm waiting, I'm starting to feel kind of weak. Is this just my body battling those evil autism-causing metals? What should I do next? Perhaps I can chop off that extra lobe on my right lung, or shave off some of the left ventricle of my heart, just to make sure everything in my body is more "in balance" and "in harmony." Do you recommend these therapies? I'm eager to hear your response, because I really respect your amazing understanding of science and how the body works! Oh yeah, and I need a refill on that snakeoil.

Now a bonus quiz for the fans of Dr. Nick-whoops I mean Buttar:
He attended:
a) Mayo Clinic Correspondence School
b) Club Med School
c) Hollywood Upstairs Medical College
Time starts now.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


David Brooks believes that, rather than bailing out auto companies, or handing money to firms who hire more workers (whom they would have likely hired anyway), we should use the money to invest in a "National Mobility Project," or "a long-term investment in the country’s infrastructure."

It's not a bad idea to build highways. However, The funds for highways are most efficiently derived from toll roads, rather than income or corporate taxes.

Those who drive, and who drive most often, should pay for the construction and maintenance of the highways they use. This system would also amount to a de facto "carbon emissions tax," reduce traffic, and encourage people to consider other modes of transportation, all without raising income taxes.

Fiscal conservatives ought not to disagree with toll roads because, without them, our nation's highways amount to one giant subsidy for drivers. So long as we don't privatise highways, governments should charge for their use.

So, to all the phantom people who watch over the I-10 W: Build a tollbooth! If you promise that there it will no longer be bumper-to-bumper traffic at 3 am on a Sunday night, I promise, in turn, that I will pay the fee with a smile.

Wednesday People Watching

Last night, I went bowling with some friends. While there were plenty of actual bowling lanes open, the staff decided to play Nintendo wii bowling, using a little TV in the corner. I'm not even saying they made a bad choice. Hey, some people live much more fabulously in "Second Life" than they do in the real thing.

Sam Gosling Disapproves of "Conservative Rooms" (Or, Why I Should Stop Selling My Trendy Books on Ebay")

Perhaps it's true, that "Liberals...appear to be more open, tolerant, creative, curious, expressive, enthusiastic, and drawn to novelty and diversity, in comparison with conservatives, who appeared to be more conventional, orderly, organized, neat, clean, withdrawn, reserved, rigid, and relatively intolerant."

However, if you're drawing these conclusions based on a study featuring such outrageously sloppy methodology, and whose "findings" lead to such presumptuous "conclusions," the only message I get is:

"Many liberals have an uncanny ability to exploit the term "science," in order to advance their own absurd biases about people with whom they disagree."

Well I'm glad they were able to demonstrate, by searching through people's rooms (no possible biases introduced here!), to world how intolerant those unenthusiastic, incurious, "non-open," (among other "scientific" designations) these conservatives all are.

Pseudo-science is more pernicious than no science at all. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Preliminary California Election Results!

Well, at least one ballot can be considered good and counted. That's because I'm telling everyone how I voted:

President and Vice-President: Bob Bar and Wayne Allen Root

I generally avoid voting for third party candidates. Additionally, I feel that the LP shouldn't blindly run a candidate every election. Instead, they ought to use its members as leverage, "auctioning" off the LP endorsement to the party that puts the most pro-libertarian offer on the table. So long as the LP says, "We're not going to vote for either of you, no matter what," both major parties will continue to write the libertarians off as lost causes, and as people whose views needn't be accommodated. The LP will inevitably siphon off votes from the more "libertarian" of the two candidates, leaving the greatest Big Government advocate as the winner.

A lot of my thinking about the relative usefulness of the LP derives from a short, but brilliant analysis by Cato scholar, William Niskanen.

I'm a pretty loyal Republican, and vote for Republicans the majority of the time. So why did I vote for the "Chowderhead" (according to Jack Shafer) from Georgia? As much as I admire his heroism, McCain seems to alter his opinions about the economy each day, and has no coherent economic philosophy. I disagree with him (and especially with Palin) about most social issues. I'm by no means a pacifist, but it's certainly time for the war in Iraq to end. I live in California, where my choice doesn't matter, anyway. However, I do hope that the GOP sees a lot of unexpected votes for the LP ticket, and realizes that many of these voters are members of the GOP, or are GOP-leaning independents. Maybe then, the party will try to win us back.

United States Representative: Charles Hahn

Hahn doesn't mention any social issues on his website, which is generally GOP code for "I care much more about fiscal issues." He says, "I do not support the 700 Billion Dollar bailout of Wall Street companies who made poor business decisions." He is a fellow health professional (dentist). He has black belts in Black Belts in Judo, Jiu Jit-Tsu, and Tae Kwon Do. I don't like Adam Schiff. Moving on....

State Senator: Teddy Choi

I know nothing about him. The sole reason for my vote is that the Democrats keep pushing for bloated, wasteful budgets, and there needs to be some balance up North. Whenever there's an increase in revenue, there's suddenly a exponential increase in spending. Private sector jobs have decreased, but we constantly hire new government workers. We have LAUSD teachers paid to show up and play cards in warehouses, because they are deemed too incompetent to teach kids, but too, I don't know, something, to be fired. The Democrats in Sacramento continue to defend schools with abysmal graduation rates, so long as the politicians receive enough donations from the teachers' union. They keep making stupid rules and restrictions regarding health care. Basically, any Republican with a pulse, who is running for state office, gets my vote.

State Assembly: Brian Fuller See above.

Proposition 1A: High-speed train: No
They say it will cost $19.4 billion and "probably" over $1 billion annually for maintenance costs. Do you know any contractors that charged what they quoted you initially? Exactly.

Proposition 2: Standards for Confining Farm Animals: Yes

Unlike many libertarians, I believe that animals have (minimal) rights. I am concerned that this proposition won't actually decrease the number of confined animals in California, but simply lead the offending farmers to mosey on over to Nevada. Were we to impose a tax on non-humanely-raised meat shipped to California, this would partially accommodate for the negative externalities of animal mistreatment, and would avoid specifically punishing California farmers (The farmers would still face a comparative disadvantage for meat they sell in other states). Nonetheless, I am not sure how significant these effects will be, and I think it's fundamentally wrong to treat animals inhumanely. I voted yes.

Proposition 3: Children's Hospital Bond Act: No.

Money is fungible. They claim it's for children's hospitals, but it is really just money added to the health care system that can be spent however they want, provided that children's hospitals get a certain percentage. We need to reform the health care system, and the worst way to do so is to throw more government money at it. Additionally, I find the commercials with Jamie Lee Courtis telling us that "Prop 3 doesn't raise taxes" to be very dishonest. Of course it doesn't raise taxes. It's worse than that. It's a bond with no specifications for how it will be paid for. It's just debt that gets added to the balance sheet.

Proposition 4: Waiting period and Parental Notification before Termination of a Minor's Pregnancy: No.

I generally believe that minors have too few rights, rather than too many.

Proposition 5: Non-violent drug Offences (AKA marijuana bill): Yes

This is the only state measure that saves us money (2.5 billion!). If you're a fiscal conservative, do you really want to pay for the room and board of a marijuana user in jail for 20 years? If he wants to go to rehab, let him go to rehab. Otherwise, let him do whatever he wants.

Proposition 6: Police and Law Enforcement: No.

Some of the gang-fighting provisions sounded fine. However, you lost me at "Increase penalties for several crimes including... using or possessing to sell methamphetamine."

Proposition 7: Renewable Energy Mandate (20% by 2010): No.

I am not a global warming denialist. I believe we should tax carbon emissions, to account for its negative externalities. However, we should not fight global warming by mandating the use of some mythically economically and environmentally efficient, as well as feasible to implement "high-scale" alternative energies, that have yet to be created. Some sources of "alternative energy" are useful (solar panels pay for themselves in about 20 years, and they are becoming cheaper). However, there is absolutely no way that they can provide 20% of California's energy by 2010, even assuming we had enough short-term cash to invest in so many of them. We all know that the energy companies will instead use biofuels, which have proven to be an all-around environmental, economic, and "global well-being" disaster.

Proposition 8: Ban on Gay Marriage: No.

Ideally, "marriage" would be a term unfamiliar to the state law books. It amounts to one giant source of discrimination against single people, who are most likely to be low-income. However, denying a right to one segment of the population, as well as adding a provision to the constitution regarding marriage is altogether shameful. GOP, if you want to know why you're losing a lot of us....

Proposition 9: Victims' Rights in Criminal Justice System: No vote.

I have no clue about the merits or lack thereof about this one. Victims' rights sounds good, but the fact that its a constitutional amendment leads me to think that this bill is a bigger deal than it seems. I'll leave this one to my fellow Californians.

Proposition 10: Bonus Bucks for Alternative-Fuel Vehicles: No.
Why can't we just institute a Pigovian tax on carbon emissions, for G-d's sakes?

Proposition 11: Redistricting: YES.

This is one of the most important measures on the ballot. Ever notice how our state district map looks like a Picasso piece, with lines and loops winding around indiscriminately? That's because the incumbents carved them out, to insure their own re-elections. This bill sets up a group of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents who sit down to map out the districts. A computer algorithm would be best, but I will not tut-tut this important measure.

Proposition 12: Veteran's Bond Act: No.

I love Vets, but the Department of Defense has a budget, so why can't they spare a dime? You know Federalism is dead when the federal government controls education and health care, while the states are called upon to do one of the few legitimate jobs of the federal government: Caring for our veterans.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CMA vs. "Licensed Health Professionals"

The California Medical Association (CMA) is concerned that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has proposed regulations that would expand the power of non-physicians to perform certain medical procedures. The changes include:

Allowing psychologists to perform medical, as opposed to psychological, examinations (Section 70577);

Allowing "licensed health practitioners" to order restraint of patients (Sections 70577, 71545, 72319,72461, 73409, 79315);

Implying that "licensed health practitioners" may assume overall responsibility of a psychiatric unit (Section 70577);

Substituting "licensed health practitioner" for "physician" as the health professional who has primary responsibility for coordinating care (Section70707);

Allowing admission, transfer, and discharge decisions to be made by "licensed health practitioners" (Sections 70717,70749, 70751, 70753, 71517, 71553, 72515,73517); and
Proposing changes that affect the self governance of medical staffs (Sections 70703, 70706, 71503).

I generally believe that, so long as the patients have obtained full disclosure and have properly consented to non-physicians overseeing their treatments, then doctors should not object. Granted, when it comes to certain medical matters, physicians are more extensively trained than nurses, PAs, and certainly psychologists, and are likely to make fewer mistakes or misdiagnoses (Similarly, most doctors would be fired on Day 1 for incompetence, if they tried to take over a nursing job). However, requiring a physician to coordinate care for every patient comes with other unique costs, which I'll expound upon in a future post.

The power to order "restraint" of a patient or to oversee psychiatric a psychiatric unit is more controversial. In such cases, the patients are either unable or unauthorized to make informed decisions about their care. Even physicians are potentially treating many patients without their consent, a phenomenon that should be tread with caution. Do we really want to expand the number of people with the power to control the movements of a dissenting patient?

Obviously, in an acutely dangerous situation, everyone from the lab tech and billing officer should be allowed to restrain a patient, until the situation is considered secure. But once we've insured every one's safety, we should do all we can to maximize patient autonomy. (I should note that, as much as I respect Thomas Szasz's views on medical paternalism toward psychiatric patients, I support restricting the movements of someone whom I suspect could soon harm someone. Many nurses have been attacked and severely injured in psych units, and preventing such incidents trumps personal liberty).

The CMA is a physicians' lobbying group, so their views on the issue matches the circumstances that would reduce physician competition. Their list of "talking points" include:

Ignores Physician Responsibility for Medical Care

As the most extensively trained health care professionals, physicians are the most qualified to coordinate medical care. The proposed amendments offer that a psychologist may perform medical examinations, not just psychological examinations. This extends activities to psychologists beyond the scope of their professional licensure.

Jeopardizes Patient Safety

By authorizing "licensed health practitioners" to make medical decisions such as ordering restraints and making transfer and discharge decisions, the Department of Public Health is failing to protect public safety and ignoring a number of federal and state laws. Physicians are trained to consider the array of physiological factors that may affect a patient's condition and the regulations should reinforce that authority rather than undermine it. Although CDPH does not regulate health practitioners, it does have a stake in assuring quality standards of care in licensed health facilities as a matter of public health.

Leads to Confusion in Medical Decision Making

The regulations remove specific references to physicians in various situations. The regulations allow a "licensed health care practitioner acting within the scope of his or her professional licensure" to oversee admission decisions and the coordination of patient care. This amendment is overly broad and offers no clarity as to which practitioners are actually responsible for these functions in health facilities. Leaving individual facilities to interpret these regulations and the scope of practice of the various health care providers operating in hospitals may lead to varying standards of care across the state that are also inconsistent with statutory restrictions.

Undercuts the Independence of Medical Staff Committees

The organized medical staff is responsible for the quality of medical care in inpatient facilities. California law has upheld this authority as a part of the prohibition on the corporate practice of medicine. Self-governance and independence in medical quality decision making are foundational to patient safety. The amendments to the regulations propose that the organized medical staff is "subject to the bylaws, rules and regulations of the hospital.

If anybody ends up reading this, what do you think? Do any of the CMA's arguments have merit?

From Mad Libs to Wiki to the Great American Novel

Because my parents currently live in Detroit, I have long been interested in the tragic implosion of the gritty, industrial city. Thus, Dean Bakopoulos' novel, Please Don't Come Back to the Moon, about the "lost fathers" of Detroit, is waiting patiently on my bookshelf to be eagerly consumed.

Mr. Bakopoulos, perhaps remembering what a drag it all was to craft an entire novel from scratch, or maybe as a result of a stroke of genius, is outsourcing construction of his upcoming novel, My American Unhappiness, to melancholy contributors. The book will feature characters who experience the stated angsts and frustrations of ordinary blog commenters.

Because I've spent the last few weeks beginning to wade through the cannon of behavioral economics and positive psychology (Ariely, Sunstein, Thaler, Schwartz, Gilbert, Csíkszentmihályi, Seligman, Haidt, Lyubomirsky- Kahneman and Tversky don't yet come packaged as pop psych books for the public, but I'll eventually get to them, too), I've been alternatively amazed and frustrated by some of their findings and policy prescriptions. Thus, my source of "American Unhappiness," can be summarized as:

The paralysis caused by too many choices. And behavioral economists who'd like to legally restrict my number of choices.

HT to Megan McArdle by way of Alex Massie.

UPDATE Nov. 1: The following is a clarification from the author [I suspected he wouldn't just cut and paste people's contributions; he's a good writer]:

A friend forwarded me some blogs that mention this group and my next novel and think that I'm asking you to write my entire novel. This is not the case. I'm just saying, like, yeah I wrote 350 pages, and you get to write about five. This is for a small section of the novel in which the main character, Zeke Pappas, wakes up to find a deluge of e-mails from people answering the question on his website: why are you so unhappy?

Just clarifying!

The Moderate Five

According to every newspaper and pundit, the Republican Party is in shambles. However, there are some organizations whose e-mails and websites seem be getting ever more professional-looking, and whose membership list and donation-filled coffers seem to be growing.

These include:
1) Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC, for which I'm on the California Board of
2) Republican Majority for Choice (RMC)
3) Log Cabin Republicans
4) Republican Leadership Council
5) Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP)

Some of the members of the REP are anti-gay marriage. Some supporters of the Log Cabin Republicans are pro-life. Some RMCers don't believe in environmental restrictions. However, the common denominator of all these groups is that they represent the moderate constituencies of the party. Most pundits (except Rush Limbaugh, who writes that the Republicans lost because they weren't Right-Wing enough), believe that these types of people will be the ones needed to shape and re-introduce a new, attractive, GOP.

Right now, the Republican Party needs groups like us even more than we need them. Yet, while I don't speak for other members of the Moderate Five, I sense that we haven't stayed simply due to an imagined increased influence within the party. We stick around because, after our being deemed as "RINOs" during the years of plenty, our party is now in deep, deep, trouble, and we are finally able to prove our allegiance. It would be very easy for us to get on the Dem bandwagon, but we simply don't believe in what they stand for, in comparison to what we Republicans are supposed to stand for. We all anchor our views in the traditional conservative framework of small government, constitutional rights, and personal responsibility. In other words, I cower when I learn about the oxymoronically titled "Fairness Doctrine." I am appalled by the very suggestion that workers might be stripped of their right to cast a secret ballot in elections concerning union participation. I could likely never pull the lever (well, punch those funny tabs in our retro CA booths) for a Democrat.

The Log Cabins, REP, and Republican Leadership Council all officially endorsed McCain. The RMC held out for Giuliani for a while, while the RLC largely pinned their hopes on Ron Paul. (Neither of the latter two groups have since explicitly endorsed any presidential candidate). All of the above groups are willing to officially endorse only Republican candidates (unless there is no Republican running in a particular election). When half the staff of the National Review, most (all?) of the conservatives at The Atlantic, and the rest (Peggy Noonan and Christopher Hitchens, for G-d's sake!) seem to have all abandoned ship, there is clearly still a lot of love coming from the Mod 5. To the right-wing members of our party: We may not be the pretty blond prom queen, but we still show up to the after-party, when you've been ditched by everyone else.

Monday People Watching

In the Corner Bakery, a middle-aged couple were happily munching on their salads and sandwiches, when a sign by the door, similar to the one below, caught their eyes:

The wife called the nearby busboy over to ask for an explanation of the sign. The busboy couldn't speak English, let alone identify the significance of a "Doesn't actually refer to a specific food item, yet is posted just to save our butts from lawsuits" sign. The busboy called over the very young manager, who gave a stammering, incoherent explanation.

After the manager left, the couple sat silently for about one minute. Eventually, the husband looked around at the crowds enjoying their meals, shrugged his shoulders, picked up his sandwich, and took another bite.

Up and Coming Medical Specialty?

Unfortunately, to establish the diagnosis of "non-filer's syndrome," one requires a J.D. Astonishingly, only high-profile politicians are susceptible to this debilitating pandemic.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Give Amanda Peet a Cookie

Reporting on findings concerning the "dangers" of vaccination and the various "cures" for autism, the latest issue of The New England Journal of Medicine US Weekly features Jenny McCarthy's personal story in caring for her son, Evan, who is autistic. McCarthy has been sufficiently chastised by Orac of Respectful Insolence. My focus is on a different kind of celebrity, one Amanda Peet.

Peet, spokeswoman of the organization, Every Child By Two, which works to increase childhood immunization, said in an interview in Cookie Magazine (I know, how was I not made aware that such a publication existed?):
“Frankly, I feel that parents who do not vaccinate their children are parasites...I have a lazy, fluffy, actor-y side that’s instinctive. And I have a side that’s practical and into statistical evidence. I’m not a casual person.”
After an uproar, as well as some snippy comments from McCarthy, Peet apologized, saying,
I believe in my heart that my use of the word 'parasites' was mean and divisive. I completely understand why it offended some parents, and in particular, parents of children with autism who feel that vaccines caused their illness. For this I am truly sorry.... I still believe that the decision not to vaccinate our children bodes for a dangerous future. Vast reductions in immunization will lead to a resurgence of deadly viruses."

This is what I admire about Amanda Peet: Most celebrities avoid controversy (other than those involving sex tapes and cat fights). Raising money to combat breast cancer or HIV is important and admirable, but also relatively uncontroversial (Well, perhaps uncontroversial to the overwhelming number of people who are not AIDS denialists). I sincerely hope that we rid of such horrible diseases in our lifetime (bimhara, biyamaynu, amen, to all the Jews out there). However, the fact is, is that celebrities clamor over who can be the first to have the biggest fundraiser for the trendiest organization that raises the most money to combat AIDS. Some diseases are simply disproportionately favored by the Hollywood glitterati.

Vaccination, however? Not so trendy. Certainly not in a time when only 38% of respondents, in a recent Florida Institute of Technology survey, said they believed that there was no link between vaccines and autism (19% believed there was a link, and 38% weren't sure).

Peet's crusade comes with an even further disadvantage, in that, one can often point to a specific child whose leukemia was cured, due to the benefactor's specific donation, but one can never point to a specific kid who was saved, because she had been vaccinated. We simply don't know which children, without their having received Menactra, would have been the ones to succumb to bacterial meningitis. It's a crapshoot. Thus, Amanda Peet, and all vaccine activists and researchers, get no adorable photo-ops. Preventative medicine is inherently media-unfriendly. All its advocates can do is present boring charts that show how, in the aggregate, inoculation allows for such and such number of kids to likely be spared from death due to infectious disease (and even those are based on statistical models).

One aspect of Amanda Peet's exasperated outburst that I found refreshing was her noticeable anger concerning an idea. I have a prejudice in that I often assume that celebrities, and even many or most people, tend to feel affronted only when they (or their teammates or their cult leaders preferred presidential candidates are personally insulted or disrespected (Yes, I'm aware that the strike-through-thing is passive-aggressive). In contrast, what really irks people like Orac from Respectful Insolence, as well as all the docs at ScienceBasedMedicine, is when people say things that are, G-d help them, CONTRADICTED BY THE EVIDENCE. Yes, the docs and scientists lose their cool sometimes. However, this is because they know that ideas matter, and that results matter, and that the scientific method, arguably the most glorious rubric ever formulated by man, matters. Ironically, while the scientific method has no patience for emotion, passion, conjecture, or desire, its proponents (admirably) treat attacks upon it as a somewhat personal affront, and often react to its critics with zealous fervor.

For example, when a homeopath made a list called "51 Facts About Homeopathy," (My favorite fact is Number 18, which seems cribbed from a confused ninth grader's chemistry notes: "Any remedy up to a 12c or a 24x potency still contains the original molecules of the substance and this is known as Avogadro’s number."), Mark Crislip, painstakingly debunked all 51 of this woman's assertions. As a practicing physician, Dr. Crislip probably has better things to do than discredit every foolish claim posted on the internet. However, I know why Mark Crislip did it. Reading statements that are objectively false, and then failing to address them, feels like a persistent itch that has not been properly scratched. Such reactions are understandable, and even admirable.

The fact that that Amanda Peet calls herself "practical and into statistical evidence," and becomes noticeably distressed by willful ignorance, even when it means that some people will boycott her movies, is understandable and admirable, as well.

UPDATE Nov. 1: Respectful Insolence mentions the Peet/McCarthy showdown.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Most Dreaded Day in Medical School

Pelvic examination day, where we must perform the full genital exam on a real, live, person. And it was... totally fine. I thought the ophthalmascopic (eye) exam was more difficult, and more uncomfortable ("While you go on in your investigation to find my macula, are you sure this light scorching my eye won't turn me blind?")

If I get one more email....

about Joe and all of his electrician and carpenter friends, I will protest until Dave the lab tech, Lynne the pathologist, and Jose the nurse, all from my hospital, get officially added to the top of the GOP Platform.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stop the Presses

(of all the other papers). The Times endorsed the Democrat!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reason Why I Hate the Blogosphere #37593

Read Ezra Klein's post on Palin's RNC-financed $120,000 wardrobe. Then read the comments thread.

Now read Matt Welch's compilation of angry comments/e-mails that he received after insisting, in the L.A. Times, that, despite all of McCain's many faults, lack of war heroism is not among them.

This was my take on Kleins's commenters:

There are two assumptions that seem to commonly appear in this thread (and on this blog, in general):

1) Everyone who expresses a differing opinion than the one expressed on this blog is a troll.

A troll is someone who deliberately tries to anger people, just for "lulz," or who spews ad hominem attacks or "copies and pastes" a whole bunch of quotes. . You may disagree with some commenters on this thread. However, you will never find the "our shared political views only" thread that you so desire. Listen to people's arguments. Some people have posted silly insults, but others have made reasonable claims as to why Palin shouldn't be condemned, in this particular instance. You are welcome to disagree. That doesn't necessarily mean that those with whom you disagree are trolls.

2) If you defend a person at all, relating to any particular issue, this means you support that person and/or his or her candidacy.

People seem to assume that anyone who defends Palin, in this case, are voting for the McCain-Palin ticket, or that such people had their money "wasted by the RNC." This is a very inaccurate assumption- I neither voted for McCainin either the primary or general elections (I vote absentee), nor did I send the RNC any money. Although we can't completely eliminate our own biases, we should at least attempt to evaluate every contention on its merits, rather than falling back on "if it's the guy on my team that does it, it must be right," as well as the contra-positive. Again, feel welcome to criticize Palin. But when criticism or praise can be predictably determined before the information is presented, that is a sign you have stopped using your minds.

An unacceptable response is, "Well the Right does it, too." Of course many people on the Right do it. As do many on the Left. There is no excuse for sacrificing rational thought, even in the name of political parity.

This was my response to the Matt Welch post:

I say, a pox on both their houses.
This is why, despite my interest in politics, I cherish my days in a non-political job [ok, well, school, really] talking to normal people, who don't start acting like robotic missiles automatically set to deploy whenever a criticism/compliment (no matter the veracity of the statement) is registered, regarding some pre-determined Saviour/Satan.

I recognize that both of the above examples describe instances of deranged Obamaites. They have plenty of McCainite counterparts (and I'm not just talking about the handful of cosummate crazies at the rallies, who appear in those circulating YouTube videos). But they will have to wait for "Reason Why I Hate the Blogosphere #57928." Right now, reading through such people's posts in the name of "research," makes my next lecture to study, "Ventilatory Muscle Function and Neural Control of Ventilation," suddenly seem very, very appealing.