Tuesday, May 25, 2004

IT'S OVER!!!!!! #$)(*@#$(*&@#$

[insert DeanScream here]

You know, there's something about taking a 7 hour test that is absolutely draining. And there's something about taking a 7 hour test where a large percentage of one's answers are predicated on undereducated guesses that is especially demoralizing. I KNOW I had more medical knowledge than was demonstrated on that little cross-sectional exam.

Lord how I hate standardized tests. Damn luck of the draw.

Still, good luck to everyone else still studying for their big day.

Monday, May 24, 2004

One Day For The Rest Of Your Life

At least, that's how it feels sometimes. With all the pressure put on us by our school to maintain a high Step1 class average, it's easy to forget that Pass == MD. I'm sure it's the same everywhere else, and so as I prepare to take a test that has consumed the past 5-6 weeks of my life, I want to wish everyone else the best of luck.

I'll be taking a vacation immediately after the test is over, but should be back blogging in a week or so. Check the blogroll to the side for some good reading.

Again, best of luck to everyone on USMLE Step1.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

"That girl is standing right over there and you're talking about our backdoors?"

"Mr. Potato Head! Mr. Potato Head! Backdoors are NOT secrets!!"

Well, not anymore.

Really? No Link Between Autism and Vaccines?

I'm shocked.

Well, not really. This has been known for quite some time, with only a few money-hungry lawyers and their disturbingly underinformed clients attempting to say otherwise. Glad we can finally put this to rest.

If you want more reading on the subject, check here.

Back to studying.

Monday, May 17, 2004

RE: US Olympic Athletes; NO CELEBRATING!!

Well, what do we have here .

Looks like a load of crap, especially:

American athletes have been warned not to wave the U.S. flag during their medal celebrations at this summer's Olympic Games in Athens, for fear of provoking crowd hostility and harming the country's already-battered public image.

.........

"What I am telling the athletes is, 'Don't run over and grab a flag and take it round the track with you.' It's not business as usual for American athletes. If a Kenyan or a Russian grabs their national flag and runs round the track or holds it high over their heads, it might not be viewed as confrontational. Where we are in the world right now, an American athlete doing that might be viewed in another manner."


It goes on to say that the Brits aren't going so far as to ban their athletes from celebrating in whatever manner said athletes might see fit, although anti-British feelings might be stirring in Athens.

This is retarded. If an American wins a gold medal, he has to apologize to his competitors for beating them. If any other country wins, there's an instant parade (two parades if he beats an American competitor).

Are we really this weak? Is America really the lame-ass high-schooler worried about what her friends think? Do we really need to apologize for winning Olympic gold? What next, apologizing for running the world's economy? I can see it now, President Bush in the Rose Garden explaining our plans to give all our companies away in a bid to get Europeans to like us again.

For all this talk of anti-Americanism and the like, I still have yet to see countries, investors, etc. pull their support of our markets, our companies, our ingenuity, etc. In fact, if everyone hates us so much, why are we still running things from our little plot of land between Pacific and Atlantic? Why, if we are so unliked, does our economy continue to grow with a large influx of FOREIGN dollars? Well, it likely has to do with something called jealousy. You see, foreigners aren't stupid (unless they're being interviewed for a story by Le Monde). Foreigners understand how to make money, and they know it's not in their home countries, it's over here. When said investors stop investing in America, then we can talk about anti-Americanism and the danger it poses.

Stifling celebration so as not to 'upset' the losers on the other side of the Atlantic is immature. We have a right to celebrate winning, and they have a right to deplore losing.

Go America!!!!

UPDATE: Arguably the best in the business

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Pfizer Paying The Price

A funny thing happened one day during an ethics discussion. I took the side of a pharmaceutical company, whilst all others scorned and snarked. And now this from the WSJ:

A unit of Pfizer Inc. has agreed to plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing, and the pharmaceuticals giant will pay about $430 million in fines in a settlement that will end federal and state investigations into the marketing of the blockbuster drug Neurontin, according to people familiar with the matter.

The agreement, which could be announced as early as this week, represents one of the largest Medicaid-fraud settlements. Medicaid is the federal-and-state program that provides health-care coverage for low-income Americans.

..........

[D]octors have grown accustomed to prescribing it for an array of unapproved, or off-label uses, including migraines, mental illness and a variety of pain conditions. More than 90% of Neurontin prescriptions are off-label, according to recent studies.

Once a drug is approved by the FDA, doctors are allowed to prescribe it any way they see fit. However, a drug maker can market the medication only for the approved use. Getting FDA approvals to market a drug for additional maladies involves costly and time-consuming clinical trials.

.........

Mr. Franklin said Parke-Davis deliberately set out to market the drug to doctors for off-label uses. Parke-Davis used a variety of inducements to get doctors to prescribe Neurontin off-label, including tickets to the Olympics, trips to Disney World and retreats to golf resorts with their families, Mr. Franklin charged.

Mr. Franklin alleged there was little scientific basis for much of the off-label use and that company sales and medical personnel presented a distorted picture of the drug's effectiveness when talking to doctors. In the case of Neurontin for migraines, for instance, Mr. Franklin said the company suppressed the results of a study that found no difference between Neurontin and a placebo in treating the condition. Nonetheless, sales personnel continued promoting the drug for that use, he said.


Pfizer is certainly in the wrong here, but I would argue that said physicians are also to blame. What physician grabs the info sheet from the drug rep, takes his word that said drug is great for off-label use treating migraines, and then starts prescribing it without locating supporting research? I'm the first to scoff @ 'evidence-based' medicine when it compares the newest treatment to hardcore clinical wisdom, but what these physicians were doing is tantamount to prescribing St. John's Wort for treatment of bladder cancer.

Maybe I'm just naive at how things work outside a teaching hospital, but even so, this certainly puts a cloud over the profession with regards to how physicians go about treating patients.

Damnit, now I have to study. How depressing.

A Few Changes

As you can see, studying got the best of me this evening. Not happy with how the previous layout looked (especially when viewed on multiple monitors with multiple resolution settings), I decided to go a different direction. Still using a standard template, but at least it doesn't look quite like a standard template.

Everything should've been ported, including the comment system. I removed OliverWillis from the links because if I wanted to read reactionary drivel, there's atrios and a million other blogs to visit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Leave It To Kennedy

Wow. Again, Wow. There's really nothing more to say about Kennedy except "Wow, what an amazingly stupid waste of space". The poster boy for AA and 'ultra-liberalism thanks to daddy's millions' has done it again.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, dismissed the Republican package as "a sham" and said it would do little to help the uninsured.

Six months of work, and his response amounts to a one word blip that any 5-year old could spout out? Not surprising. I guess the fact that Mass. continues to elect his happy-ass to the senate is a clear indication of how out of touch that portion of the country is with what's going on in the real world. Anyone know if the Canadian government accepted their application for annexation? I know a country that wouldn't blink at the idea.

Regarding the health plan ideas drawn up, they appear to be in a step in the right direction. Personally, I believe personal health accounts and tax breaks are the way to go. Carry major coverage for unforeseen stuff, and just pay for the rest out of your own tax-free pocket. If we attempt to head down the 'socialized' route that our brethren in Canada and the rest of Europe have traveled, we're screwed.

Human Nature

I should be studying, but there's only so much path I can take before requiring a break. Quick recap:

1) pictures were taken and used for PsyOps in Iraq

2) military performed an investigation dating back almost 5 months ago

3) 60 Minutes II attempts to 'break' the 'story' for a ratings boost, similar to spending an entire hour reading the names of dead American soldiers after claiming "we didn't know it was sweeps week".

4) big fukking zoo surrounding the entire 'story', including yet more vehement cries against the Bush Administration, and even a petition for Rumsfeld's firing (i'd link it, but nah, too stupid)

5) Kerry makes stupid comment number #45924, detailed in previous post

6) islamofascists, who after capturing Berg more than 3 weeks ago, decide to cash in on the american media feeding frenzy and decapitate a jew

7) media becomes silent about the killing of a jew in such a horrific fashion by islamists, but have no problem leading with yet more pictures detailing 'torture' by our troops (as a sidenote, i wasn't aware that embarrassing the hell out of people was considered torture; i always thought the term referred more to poking out an eye with a red hot poker, but good ol Dan Rather and the rest of the Moron Crew taught me something new)


I think that's sufficient, at least for my purposes. After reading this over at isntapundit.com, I realized what many people simply do not. All of this crap, from the psyops to the 'outrage', is human nature. In fact, even the horrific murder of Mr. Berg is human nature. That's not the worst part though. What makes it bad is not that human nature would come through in spades during such times, but that individuals would attempt to assign moral relevancy to said actions.

What's my point? My point is the moral relevancy so rampant in the news, and in our culture, people actually think what is going on can be rationalized. Terrorists kill 3000 in 2001; moral relevancy says we deserved it for all we've done to the Middle East over the past 10, 100, 1000 years.

American soldiers are killed in Iraq and Afghanistan attempting to lay the first brick of a democratic region; moral relevancy says they all deserve to die for fighting a needless war (besides, they're all just babykillers anyways).

An American Jew gets decapitated, apparently in response to our mistreatment of Iraqi detainees [if you can logically come to that conclusion, even after knowing that Berg was kidnapped 3 weeks ago and the prison mistreatment was being investigated back in January, you are an idiot] but really more because 1) no reason was needed to kill him and 2) it provides great propaganda for the recruiting films, and what happens? Nothing. The story gets buried, or if it's mentioned, it is done in such poor taste as to place blame for the man's death with anyone but his murderers. Moral relevancy says Berg deserved to die because, after all, some soldiers did put female panties on the head of a prisoner in a psyop photo.

So how do we explain the same way in which Daniel Pearl was murdered a few year ago? Well, he deserved it because at the time, we were supporting Israel..or because we were funding [insert coup here]..or because [insert crackpot conspiracy theory here]. Unfortunately, someone will always be up to the task of playing this game. Human nature will produce tragedies, and individuals who believe they are above the fray will attempt to rationalize and invoke moral equivalence, regardless of how downright stupid they sound in the process.

And to all of you reading this (all 5 of you) who are saying "I would never take part in something like that", reread the link posted above. We are all capable, and we are all weak enough to do just what others before us have done.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

USMLE sucks

Btw, in case anyone didn't notice, posts here are a little light. Not because there isn't anything to write about, obviously there is [although most is 1) uninteresting or 2) being blogged to hell by everyone else]. Has more to do with Step 1. Taking it earlier than most, so unfortunately I have to study earlier than most.

The only reason I blogged today was because the post below containing Kerry's assinine questioning of Bush's 'right' to lead struck my damn ulnar nerve, and no one likes the feeling of striking the 'funny bone'.

Questioning Kerry's 'Right' To Speak

As we see here, Kerry demonstrates once again why he's the last choice for POTUS.

Kerry also has questioned Bush's right to lead in the wake of the scandal.

Seriously?! Is this a typo?! Did Kerry actually call into question the 'right' of President Bush to 'lead in the wake of the scandal'? Methinks this 'nuanced' political player (translation: sub-70 iq cretin) should read up on the office of the POTUS, especially if he plans to inhabit it some day (Lord help us).

I'm shocked. Can't Massachussetts find anyone better than Mr. Theresa Heinz to bring Kennedy his daily keg of Heineken?