Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just Stopped in to Say...

...how are you all? It's been very interesting to watch the results come in for the poll on the right (if you haven't voted yet, please do so!) I've been pretty busy myself, lately, but I did very well on my Neural Science exam on Friday! One more exam to go, so in 3 weeks I'll be done!

Looks like I'll have a pretty packed summer. I'm working two jobs at least, and in the process of applying for a third. I'll be teaching a high school course on physics through the OSU Office of Minority Affairs, and doing a physician interview program through StoryCorps as well. I'm applying to teach a post-bacc summer course on immunology through the med school. Interview on Wednesday--we'll see how that goes! I'm already trying to re-study immunology in case I do get to teach that one.

It's been warm--hot even! here in Columbus. The difference between here and CA is that it's humid here! But, we've been taking Charlie out to the park a lot, as you can see from the pictures!

Great news financially is that we got a scholarship through the university, so between that and my jobs, we shouldn't have to take out any extra money this summer. We should be completely paid off with our credit cards by August, which is fantastic, because our car has been falling apart and we really really need a new one! We plan to get another truck (YAY!!) in August, using the excuse that it will help with our move, to our new house in a quieter part of Columbus.

I continue to have no idea what I want to specialize in, though my latest serious consideration is anesthesiology. My hope is to do a lot of shadowing this summer in an attempt to get a better idea of what I want to do.

Charlie continues to be the rascally little boy that he is, making his daddy so proud. He truly is a boy's boy, and I'm just tickled to death with him. He's learning a lot of new words, and he loves to run around outside, especially to play with rocks. He's always grabbing our fingers and dragging us to the door.

Well, that's all I have time for now--I'm not sure when I'll have time to write anything more "substantial", but you know that's always the way with me :) Take care for now!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Capital Punishment

I'm adding a new poll on the right, sparked by a discussion on Facebook. I'm not going to discuss the topic yet, because I want to see your "unbiased" responses at this point. I hope you will vote! It's totally anonymous...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Frustrations of Trying to Find Reliable Sources

BIAS!! AHH!! Misquoting, things taken out of context, exagerrations, even blatant fabrications! It's just SO hard to really just get down to the truth, anymore, it seems. That's the frustration I currently have, at least. And I simply don't have the time to do all the grunt work myself. Even "primary" sources, that should be reliable...are they? For example, with all the evidences of the FDA's...oversights? blunders? intentional overlooks?--can we really implicitly trust whatever they say? But on the other hand, who really has time to wade through the primary research into whether a drug is actually safe or not? Even if you did have the time to do that, do you have time to research the people who DID the research...are they getting funded by the drug company, thus making their "findings" biased? You see what I'm getting at?

Take 9/11--there are aspects of the "official story" that don't quite satisfy me. There are aspects of various "conspiray theories" that seem to have merit. But what about ALL the hodge-podge, whacky explanations, with little or no evidence for them out there? No one seems to take the time to carefully document their sources anymore. Perhaps I'm just a fuddy-duddy academic, but I want to see a WORKS CITED sheet, or some equivalent, before I take an article seriously! With such an array of "alternative explanations" out there, most of which can have holes poked in them by just looking at them, how can someone wade through it all and try to find "the truth"? Yet, should we just "give up" and simply trust that whoever's in charge will definitely tell us the whole truth? That kind of blind faith seems naive, particularly in light of history.

I don't want to be just another person saying, "The Bush Administration is responsible for torture and other war crimes!" with nothing to back me up. But, if someone is responsible for torture, or murder, particurly if children are involved, he should be brought to justice, regardless of who he is! There is never an excuse for torture (ironic, since I love the Fox TV show "24"). It's an ineffective interrogation technique, the "confessions" derived from it are questionable at best, and it is a hideous breach of humanity. You must not become evil, in the fight against evil. I read recently that over 100 terror-related detanees have died in US custody, but only 12 deaths resulted in punishment for anyone involved. I've read stories of terrorist suspects whose children were held and tortured to force confessions. Most of these stories I read were attributed to some government official or another who wished to remain anonymous. Understandable, but that doesn't help me in my search for objective evidence. If these astounding crimes are occuring, they must be stopped, and the perpetrators brought to justice. But what if a crusade is waged, only to find out that, in the end, no crimes were committed? Where does one even start?

There's the whole Israel/"Palestinian" mess. Some reports say that Hamas shoots rockets into Israel almost daily. Some say that these "rockets" are merely glorified firecrackers. Some say, Israel has a right to defend herself. Some say, these people have lived in this area for decades, and what right do the Israelis have to make them leave? I don't know what to believe.

And that's frustrating. Oh, for more time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ban Doctors!

My dad forwarded this to me, and I thought it was so hilarious, I had to share!! :)

Doctors
(A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
(B) Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.
(C) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171.
***Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services.***

Now think about this:

Guns
(A) The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000.
(B) The number of accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
(C) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .000188.
***Statistics courtesy of FBI***

So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.

Remember, 'Guns don't kill people, doctors do.'

FACT: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN, BUT ALMOST EVERYONE HAS AT LEAST ONE DOCTOR.

Please alert your friends to this alarming threat. We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!!!!!

Out of concern for the public at large, I withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention! Please write to your U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senator and encourage then to introduce legislation to ban or at least severely restrict our access to doctors. On second thought... I guess we are planning on doing that with our upcoming Obama Universal Healthcare legislation initiative.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Trust

I cried this Thursday morning at 7:30am. I thought I'd be ok, but no, apparently not. You see, my son was going into the OR for surgery. No, nothing invasive, no huge procedure. They only knocked him out for 5 minutes, actually. He's been tongue-tied since birth, and his tongue had been getting more and more dimpled as his frenulum held it back. So the otolaryngologist said we could bring him in to just have it cut. Simple procedure.

That's what I kept telling myself. Charlie had to fast from 11pm the night before, and we had to show up at 5:30am for processing. I had everything all set, so all I had to do was change his diaper and carry him to the car. He ended up waking up in the hospital as I filled out forms, giving my consent for these strangers to take my baby away from me and take a scalpel to him. I double-checked his ankle-bracelet to be sure his name was right. I interrogated the anesthesiologist: what are you giving him? How long will he be out? I made sure the doctor doing the procedure looked at Charlie, so he would recognize his face in the OR.

The whole time, Charlie is running up and down the halls, laughing and smiling. Jumping in his pre-op crib, reading books with me, flirting with the nurses. Then a nurse comes, and I check to make sure she says his name, and has the right chart for him. We walk together to do the doors of the OR, and she keeps wheeling my son away in his little crib while I stay behind. He stands up, looks at me with a big smile on his face, waves and says, "Bye-bye!"

That's when I wept. He felt content and safe, because I had brought him here. He knew nothing here, but he knew me, and knew if I was ok with this place, he was ok with it. He trusts me not to let harm come to him. And oh, the trust I had to place in the nurses, and the doctors. 20 minutes later, it's all over and my son sits up when he catches a glimpse of me waiting for him. He didn't cry or fuss even once in the whole time we were at the hospital. Soon he was grabbing my finger and running up and down the halls again, while I held tightly to his wrist in case the anesthesia left him groggy and he collapsed. The nurse says: "So he's ready to go!" And off we went.

There were parents in the waiting room who wouldn't see their children for hours. I only had to wait 20 minutes, but oh the emotion of it. I'm not sure what my point is, in writing this. I can assure you, lessons like this I won't forget, when it's me that the parents are entrusting the welfare of their children to.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Medical Ethics

Hi all! I'm considering entering an essay contest by the AMA on a specific medical ethics problem, and I'm trying to get various perspectives on the issue. Would you read it and give me yours? If I do end up writing an essay on it, I'll post a copy here. The website with the prompt is http://virtualmentor.AMA-assn.org/site/09conleyscenario.HTML Thanks in advance!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Abolition of Man, a review


She beckons to me across the aisle, silently pleading for me to pick her up. I sidle on up to her, glancing around to see if anyone will notice. "I'm only 80 pages long," she whispers, seductively. I reason to myself, I've refused her dozens of times in the past, for some reason or another. Poor little book...a large essay, really. What harm could it do? Foolishly, I allow myself to be lured into the promise of a quick read. This is why I shouldn't be allowed into bookstores.

The book is C.S.Lewis' controversial work The Abolition of Man, and I must confess, the title gave me no indication as to what the subject matter was going to be. I began reading, finding myself being lectured about a high school grammar book, and I was thoroughly confused throughout most of its (81, as it turns out) pages. Only near the end did I really come to grasp the significance of this writing. I returned a few days later, eagerly devouring it again, finishing in less than an hour on a second reading.

There are two faces to this book's coin, the first being the argument: There are premisses which we must simply take for granted, which stand upon their own authority. To introduce this idea, Lewis criticizes an English grammar book on its treatment of a piece of literature (apparently well-known to his target audience...I had to search for it, and found it at this website). I'll let you read the story yourself if you wish, but the point that the grammar book (according to Lewis) makes about it is that in saying the waterfall is "sublime", the tourist makes only comments about his own feelings, thusly: "I have sublime feelings about this waterfall." They ridicule this "confusion" in the English language, implying that the waterfall has no intrinsic majesty. Lewis contends that the waterfall is in and of itself a beautiful thing, whether observers notice it or not. Tourists may view it with sublime feelings: if so, they are appropriate feelings; if with other feelings, they are less appropriate.

A lengthy example, perhaps, but Lewis then continues to apply this principle in broader strokes. He takes the example of a Roman telling his son, "It [is] a sweet and seemly thing to die for [your] country." Lewis points out:

Death is not something to eat and therefore cannot be dulce in the literal sense, and it is unlikely that the real sensations preceding it will be dulce even by analogy. And as for decorum--that is only a word describing how some other people will feel about your death when they happen to think of it, which won't be often, and will certainly do you no good.

Lewis uses this example to postulate: without the presence of real and true premisses, statements such as the Roman father makes are either foolish sentiments, or they are an attempt to manipulate and propagandize. He deals with the second alternative after further exposing the impossibility of the first.

I will try to summarize his argument into its basic logic, for sake of brevity. In the end, Lewis states: "We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitfull." The logic is thus: If it cannot be truly said that dying for one's country is an instrinsically desirable action, then perhaps you can say that dying for one's country is useful for the community's survival. But, "what is really meant is that the death of some men is useful to other men." This begs the question, "Why should I be one of them?". As Lewis states, "This will preserve society cannot lead to do this except by the mediation society ought to be preserved." This may seem to allow a way of escape, in that: Animal instincts, though baseless, are the foundations that we should follow. But, this cannot be so, for three reasons. First, it does not follow that I have this instinct THUS I ought to follow it. Second, as Lewis states of himself: "it is worth inquiry whether there is any instinct to care for posterity or preserve the species. I do not discover it in myself..." Thirdly, "Telling us to obey Instinct is like telling us to obey 'people'. People say different things: so do instincts."

This leads us to the disturbing alternative. We can theorize that there really ARE no intrinsically "good" values. With as much as we continue to conquer nature, especially that of the "human nature", Lewis theorizes a point where those who have the knowledge and power are finally able to condition further generations of the human race to value whatever they so desire. And why should they not, if there are no real values? And why should they choose any particular value system over any other, if they are all equally valuable...or invaluable? As Lewis states, the educational theory that real values exist "deals with its pupils as grown birds deal with young birds when they teach them how to fly," while the new theory would "deal with them more as the poultry-keeper deals with young birds--making them thus or thus for purposes of which the bird knows nothing." As with all power that "man" gains, "the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please.

Lewis states that at this point, "Man" will cease to exist. Everything afterward will be seen in the light of the original Conditioners. Whatever they will to be "good" will be good, etc. The "Man" after that will be a new creature entirely.

This is, of necessity, a very brief synopsis. If you can, I highly encourage you to go out and read it in its entirety...it really is "only" 81 pages long. I hope to hear your comments soon!