Medical Mythology

March 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm (By Realpc)

I was walking through town today (Sunday) and a woman offered to give me a ride home. I said no thanks, I have a car, I’m just taking a walk. But then I went back and asked how she knew where I live. She said she sees me walking, walking, walking, all the time. I explained that I only walk a half hour before work on week days, which really is not much. I asked if she thought I was a crazy homeless person, just because she sees me walking. I said I have been walking, and doing yoga, all my life and that is probably the reason I am not sick and on drugs, like practically everyone else my age.

(I don’t usually do this, must have been in a weird mood today).

So she replied that the drugs must be doing something right, because we are living longer than ever now. She said there are lots of people in their 90s now, and there never were before.

I said first of all, there were always people in their 90s. And if you ask someone in their 90s you may very well find out they don’t go to doctors or take drugs. I said we are not being kept alive past age 40 thanks to the drugs, that is just propaganda from the drug companies, to make us think we need them.

I tried to explain that average lifespan has increased, mostly because young children are not dying anymore, thanks to antibiotics and vaccines. I tried to explain how the drug companies misuse the statistics to make us think we would all drop dead at 40 if not for them.

She waited patiently for me to give up and leave. If she didn’t think I was a homeless crazy before, she was sure of it after my lecture.

But I am so tired of hearing the same old myth.

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Tree & Me

March 18, 2012 at 10:20 pm (By Amba)

This young Magnolia grandiflora, planted today on my friend Chris’s land outside Chapel Hill, will incorporate some atoms of Jacques and will eventually grow to be 40 to 50 feet tall.

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The priest, the rabbi, and the minister

March 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm (By Rodjean)

So, officer O’Malley comes into the back room at the Italian restaurant, only to find the priest, the rabbi and the minister sitting on the floor with dice and cash in plain view. It is obvious that they have been illegally gambling, but the cop hasn’t actually seen them doing it. So, he turns to the priest ans says, “Father, have you been gambling?” The priest says a quick Hail Mary, then says, “No.” The cop turns to the minister and says, “Reverend, have you been gambling?. The minister says a short prayer asking Jesus for forgiveness, then he also denies gambling.

Frustrated, he asks the rabbi if he has been gambling. The rabbi responds, “With whom?”

I heard a number of such jokes when I was growing up. They were pretty mild, but they often played softly with stereotypes. The priest was generally earnest and a little naive. The rabbi was usually clever and a little more worldly.

It is hard to imagine a little joke like this getting through the din of vulgarity in the modern world.

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Crime Pays

March 14, 2012 at 6:59 pm (By Realpc)

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The Creationist Conspiracy

March 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm (By Realpc)

Steven Novella, who writes a skeptic’s blog, has discovered a sinister conspiracy. The Creations have joined forces and organized and they are infiltrating our universities and scientific publications. Scary!

“… they want to change society and the nature of science itself. They want to inject supernaturalism into the process of science, so that it can be made to support their world-view and religious beliefs. They cannot do this honestly, so they do it deceptively. They are also well-funded and tireless.”

Oh my godless! The Creationists are coming and we must find a way to stop them!

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Harassment Theater

March 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm (Uncategorized)

Did you hear the one about the priest, the rabbi, and the minister?  You better not tell it at my office – or a lot of offices these days.

The partners in my firm were gathered together again for sexual harassment training.  The earnest young lawyer talked about recent developments in the law, then she put on a film which, on about a sixth grade level, told us a pat on the back for a job well done constitutes sexual harassment.  As management, We’re supposed to be safe persons to whom to report sexual harassment – as well as inappropriate religious jokes or ethnic comments.  We then trigger the investigation.  The basic message is better safe than sorry – don’t touch anyone you work with – or engage in conversation that touches on race, sex, gender, religion, physical handicaps, etc.  Half the people in the room – essentially lawyers aged 35 – 70, were checking emails on their iphones as the earnest young lady spoke.  We all knew the drill.

Two hours later, my secretary attended the “staff” session of the same program .  At age 64, she found the “training” mildly insulting, and mostly just stupid.  She walked into my office afterward,  mockingly saying she had to report questionable conduct – while on the elevator, a secretary had touched an attorney.  Playing along, I reminded her that I had a duty to investigate to determine whether the contact was inappropriate.  So I quietly asked, “Were they going down?”  We laughed at the stupidity of the behavior code, and we got back to work.

Several other long time secretaries commented on how lame the “training” was.  Our office is not a hotbed of harassment, but most people ignore the code which sounds like it is out of Catholic school in the 50s.  Most folks know the difference between office banter and harassment and know how to tell somebody who is taking things too far to knock it off , and most dislike sitting through some fatuous film telling them what they already know.

Why do we go through (and pay for) this Kabuki theater?  Because, if a harassment suit is filed, a good defense is that the firm was unaware of the harassment and had in place a harassment policy with regular sessions designed to tell us what behaviors are inappropriate and who we can complain to.

I am old enough to remember when women put up with real workplace harassment.  The situation was not good.  But, the remedy –  establishment of a statutory right to be free from upsetting behavior in the workplace, or any comments based on gender, gender preference, or gender expression, which is defined as a “hostile work environment,” has created a cottage industry paid to teach us what we already know. It is Harassment Theater.

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Why, yes I did go.

March 5, 2012 at 2:27 am (By Ron)

I went to the Altan show that I had mentioned earlier last night.  Pics and video interview over at Fluffy Stuffin.  Enjoy!

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The Natural State

March 2, 2012 at 11:09 am (By Amba)

Promoting this from the comments on the last post—it’s an idea I’ve wanted to inject into the political conversation for ages. It seems to me this is a vital notion and ought to be common knowledge. It helps a great deal in thinking clearly about economics and politics.

* * * * * *

realpc said,

March 2, 2012 at 6:38 am

  1. The best way to make things fair is to allow competition. The problems we have right now are partly because Wall Street and the US government work together, instead of being in competition. So there is nothing to prevent them from being corrupt.

  2. mockturtle said,

    March 2, 2012 at 10:46 am

    The problems we have right now are partly because Wall Street and the US government work together, instead of being in competition.


  3. amba (Annie Gottlieb) said,

    March 2, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Double yep!

    Although I don’t think the government, by definition, can compete. In practice, that would turn into controlling/regulating. That’s the only kind of adversarial relationship it seems government and private enterprise can have. And deregulation or regulation loopholes then become one kind of favor the government has to sell.

    This idea seems really important to me: Nobel Prize-winning economist Douglass North on “the Natural State.” North says “limited-access” social orders, which we would see as cronyism (capitalist or otherwise) and the monopolizing of power by self-perpetuating elites, seem to be the natural way for large societies to organize themselves, and “open-access” social orders, which allow access by merit and are protected by competition, are a rare achievement. Once you grasp this idea, it becomes very clear how an open society is always tending to almost gravitationally revert back to the natural state. Once you see that inertial trend at work in our own society, you see what amazing tools the founding fathers gave us to fight it, but you also see how much vigilance and ingenuity must be employed in using those institutions to keep open access pried open as the heavy door keeps falling shut.

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