Archive for: August, 2009

Government-mandated circumcision? Not so much...

Aug 31 2009 Published by under Health care reform, Medicine

For the last five hundred years, white America has feared black America. When physical chains were broken, the fear only increased. Rumors of black on white atrocities frequently circulate in white communities that live on the edge of black communities. As my home town integrated, rumors of white women being raped weren't uncommon. One particularly tenacious rumor had it that a white boy had been castrated by a group of black men at a local mall.
All of these rumors were, of course, untrue, and served as both a barometer of fear, and a tool of control. If fear could be maintained, otherwise "neutral" white people could be pulled to the side of continued segregation and racism.
Rumors of black on white physical crimes (and of mixed relationships) are still used as a tool to control racial discourse in the US, and they are a measure of desperation as well. As the Right continues to find itself on the wrong side of public debates such as health care reform, they struggle to re-frame the debate. Instead of being about health care, it's about "freedom". Instead of increasing coverage, it's "death panels". It's a tribute to the intelligence of the American people that these arguments have so far failed to gain mainstream traction.
But now the Right is even more desperate, and the racism simmering under the surface of the debate is boiling over.

RUSH: By the way, leave our penises alone, too! This is getting out of hand. There is a story that some officials in the Obama administration are pushing for circumcision for all boys born in the USA to fight HIV/AIDS. Not that I'm against circumcision, but it's a family's decision. Leave our penises alone, too, Obama! ...So here's Obama out there saying we have to have circumcision of every young boy born in the country...

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28 responses so far

BMI TMI update

Aug 31 2009 Published by under Medicine

So, I cheated as usual over the weekend, but not as badly as I might have. I had a seriously awesome bike ride with my kiddo. And today, I'm not terribly hungry.
I'm finding that certain things just whet my appetite. One of the drawers in the office has a bad of mini chocolate bars. I can't do it. If I have one, I'll eat the whole bag, which in addition to making me feel shitty will piss off my secretary.
So I'll go pick up a chicken ceasar (oil and vinegar) on my way back to work, and enjoy the belt-tightening.

5 responses so far

China---a (medical) capitalist paradise

Aug 30 2009 Published by under Health care reform, humor, Medicine

China's a communist country, totally different from the capitalist U.S., right? They probably have some sort of socialized health system that makes Canada look downright libertarian. Right?
I was talking to a friend (who I'll call "Pu") this week. She was surprised that I had to bend over backward to get someone insulin.
Pu: "In China, this would never happen."
Pal: "Really? You mean because the State would take care of it?"
Pu: "No. In China, you pay a deposit for your care, and have to pay as you go, or that's it. Can't afford insulin? Tough. Go home and die."
Hmmm...socialist paradise.

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10 responses so far

More health care problems that no one talks about

Aug 30 2009 Published by under Health care reform, Medicine

From time to time we see an article (usually from LA) about hospital patients being "dumped" on street corners. I don't know how wide-spread this problem is, but the systemic problem that leads to this is common and serious.
Most American hospitals are required to render emergency care to anyone who comes in the door. In practice, this means hospitals provide a great deal of uncompensated care. For example, if some guy with a couple of bullet holes is dumped in front of the ER by his "friends", the hospital is required to stabilize him. But let's say they then wish to transfer his care because he's uninsured, or for any other reason. Who will accept him? You can't just dump him in the ER of a public hospital---it's wrong from both a legal and moral perspective. In practice, patients like this are cared for until discharge, sometimes for days, sometimes for months. Sometimes hospitals will receive public funds to compensate them for this type of care, but it's never enough.
Lack of universal insurance encourages a choice between economically unwise behavior and morally repugnant behavior. Hospitals have to choose to cut services or close their doors if uncompensated costs rise too steeply, hurting employees and the people in the hospital's catchment area. And those who are the most vulnerable are left to either burden the hospital, or risk being dumped on the street. If the patient is well enough to leave the hospital but not well enough to care for themselves, there's no safety net. The hospital must keep them as a "border". No nursing home would accept someone without means to pay, and our society has no good backup plan. Sometimes, Medicaid can cover patients like this, but often they cannot.
Our system, as it stands, actually encourages immoral behavior. How proud does that make you?

8 responses so far

Another writer's block rant and open thread

Aug 30 2009 Published by under Narcissistic self-involvement

The "summer without summer" continues with fall blowing in early. Sitting outside with the kiddo yesterday we found a garter snake sunning itself (and it was pretty big for a garter snake!). Despite the strong north wind, we hopped on the bike and rode up to the school where she'll be starting kindergarten in a couple of weeks. This isn't a hilly part of the country, but when you're a bit out of shape and pulling seventy pounds of nearly dead weight, even a little rise slows you down. PalKid had plenty of questions about why I was going so slow (annoying) and about what the gears do (not annoying).
We went to a local restaurant for dinner. I'm always annoyed by how overpriced it is, but the atmosphere is nice, and I had a lovely pork tenderloin with a sweet-hot sauce and a forest of broccoli. Then the three of us shared a desert. Ordering one desert with three spoons is probably one of the most enjoyable family events I can think of.
So the legs and knees are a little heavy today from the ride, but it's a righteous pain. My only regret for this weekend is that I agreed to work today. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

4 responses so far

Gearing up for the flu season(s)

Aug 28 2009 Published by under Medicine

Here in the northern hemisphere, flu season generally starts in the fall and rapidly falls off at the end of winter. This past flu season, we had a "two-fer", with an initial dip in cases, followed by a spike in new cases attributable to the novel H1N1 ("swine") flu that emerged late last year.


The bimodal flu season of 2008-09

This is my first pandemic, and it's been fascinating. The sudden drop in cases at the beginning of summer was matched with a sudden increase in cases in summer camps and military installations. The high attack rate is particularly dramatic, although the virulence is not. Still, even with such a large number of people infected last season, most people have not yet been exposed, which leaves us open for a real whopper of a winter.

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15 responses so far

Writer's block and open thread

Aug 27 2009 Published by under Fatherhood, Medicine

I sometimes feel that if I don't crank out two posts a day, I must have "lost it", whatever "it" is. But I've got the shpilkes and I have to write something.
The end of the week is hard. Wednesday and Thursday are long days for me, and after I put my kiddo to bed Tuesday night, I often don't see her again until Friday night. This isn't cool at all. She start kindergarten in a few weeks, and I'm trying to arrange my schedule so that most mornings I can get her up and get her to school before I go to work. That'll mean getting up earlier and fighting with a cranky kid, but it'll probably be worth it.
I'm a pretty accommodating dad, but there's no way I'm doing this her way---her way is for us to ride the bike to school.
Hmm...that sounds like exercise. I wonder if I can get this one by the spouse? It would mean changing my schedule around more, and being on the road when there's lots of traffic, so I'm not sure it's the safest option...
Anyway, bike or no bike, it'll be more time with the kiddo.
Next topic: some dude has been coming around the comment section, trolling around new and old posts whining about his pet topic, which seems to be micronutrient deficiency. He is demanding that I prove to him that Americans do not suffer significant micronutrient deficiencies.

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21 responses so far

BMI TMI---the asymptote

Aug 26 2009 Published by under Medicine

So, I ate a big meal last night and I'm at 206 today. I think I've gotten a little out of hand with the "cheating". I'm going to have to be more attentive to what I'm shoving down my gullet. Ugh. Well, back to work, then.

7 responses so far

The health reform lie that just won't die

Aug 25 2009 Published by under Health care reform, Medicine

The Right is desperate---desperate to derail any sort of health care reform. Notably absent from their diatribes is any debate on the merits of one plan or another. They know that the only way to convince Americans to keep the terrible system we have now is to make them think that any reform would be worse. And so they are blowing their dog whistles, talking about "culture of life" and "culture of death", and along the way encouraging ignorance about one of the most important aspects of medical care.

Any rational person knows that there are no proposed "death panels"---it's a blatant lie by the far Right designed to frighten the ignorant. And given that the "death panel" wording just isn't playing as well as they'd hoped, they're hunting for more "evidence" that government health insurance will kill you. Of course, this requires ignoring the fact that Medicare, the government health system that insures most seniors still hasn't managed to produce a single gram of Soylent Green.

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16 responses so far

BMI TMI update

Aug 24 2009 Published by under Medicine

No, I haven't given up on my diet lifestyle change. I've done a little bit of sinning, especially Friday night at Skeptics in the Pub---beer, burgers, name it.
Interestingly, it turns out that it's more uncomfortable for me to overeat than it used to be. I'm not sure why that is (but don't throw around the "shrinking stomach" myth around here). I used to be able to scarf down a large pizza without a thought. Now, I can still do it (and still might) but I feel like shit afterward.
I wasn't too good about exercise last week, and I didn't get around to riding the bike this weekend. I did hike around with my daughter in a back pack (one made to carry children, so lay off). This morning I hit the stationary bike, so hopefully I'm getting back in the swing of things. I'm hoping that my grave sins aren't going to show up on the scale Wednesday, but we'll see.

10 responses so far

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