There has to be a better way… Re: Doctors on TV, medical advertising, and stuff

Sorry, it has been a long time since my last post. I ended up in the hospital- unfortunately not that unusual for me these years. I end up with a major hospitalization (or period of multiple hospitalizations) once every 2 years or so. Then even after getting home I just wasn’t into writing. I started a few posts but never finished any, and ultimately deleted them. Who knows if I’ll finish this one.

My rant today is about doctors on TV, and the practice of advertising prescription medications directly to the consumer. First, doctors. I don’t want to limit someone’s free speech but there needs to be some system in place when a doctor goes on the morning news, or even their own show, and starts talking about their own medical opinion, if that opinion is vastly different from accepted medical science. I envision a big red banner scrolling across the bottom of the screen like WARNING: THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION DOES NOT AGREE WITH THIS NUTJOB. A couple months ago I was watching a morning news show and they had some doctor from some hospital on talking about Vitamin D. He said in no uncertain terms that virtually no one should be taking Vitamin D pills. He said taking Vitamin D pills were not proven to have any health benefits but were proven to have negative effects like kidney stones. Even the news anchors were a little shocked by his bluntness and tried to see if he was just being dramatic. He stuck to his guns. He was absolutely certain of this. As someone with very low Vitamin D levels I was prescribed by my doctor to take a 50,000 unit pill once a week. I also have an unfortunate history of kidney stones. I stopped taking the pills. (There were other long periods in my life I had stopped taking them for other reasons with not noticeably apparent issues so I wasn’t too concerned.) However by the time I saw my doctor and explained what this doctor said my doctor said the exact opposite. They said they definitely believed I should be taking Vitamin D and never heard of the claims this other doctor was making. Who was right? There’s no way to know. If anything, they are probably both right. There are probably studies that point to Vitamin D both being good and bad for you to take. The icing on the cake was watching the same morning show on the same station some months later they do a story on how important it is to take Vitamin D supplements if you’re not getting enough sun.  Of course they don’t bother to mention that weeks ago the had an expert saying the exact opposite.

The problem is, it isn’t just Vitamin D. Everything in medicine is up for debate. There is very little settled science. Worse, even things you may have thought were settled, like eggs raising cholesterol 10 years ago, have been overturned by more modern studies. Hardly a week goes by without Coffee being labeled good or bad for you.  The government itself seems at odds with doctors on the frequency and necessity of mammograms. And the news reports both sides like it is gospel. The unfortunate fact is the general public isn’t really able to understand the ramifications of many of these studies- indeed the scientists themselves are often unable to as well so what hope does the public have? We are frightened into buying supplements, herbs, food high in wheat, then food without gluten, organic foods, GMO vs Non GMO, and so on, and it never ends. And it never will end. I propose we just stop reporting. Stop reporting the results of any study until the results are so solid they are considered absolutely accepted science. Even then there will be changes, but much less.

Then there are the commercials for prescription medications. I cringe every time they come one- I have to remember they are being made by someone trying to convince me I need their product- and in all likelihood I don’t. Yes, Shingles can be painful, and yes a small percentage of people who get it, get the most severe cases of it. But the reality is most people who get Shingles get over it without life changing pain. They need to stop showing commercials that just get people scared of getting Shingles. Also most people who have dry eyes don’t need a prescription medication for that. I would end the practice of directly advertising prescriptions to the general public. The general public can’t buy these medications without going through a doctor- so limit the advertising to doctors or people who specifically  look up these symptoms. Also- don’t advertise the side effects. We know all medications have side effects. People can look them up or talk to their doctor about them. Anytime I see a side effect before I begin taking a med I have a much higher chance of having that side effect. It’s just the way humans are, we are too open to suggestion. That is what makes these commercials so effective to begin with.

So many changes needed for medicine, these are just a start.

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Bill Cosby is an Innocent Man

Photo of Bill Cosby

Photo From billcosby.com

This is an innocent man. I don’t know that he didn’t rape those women but I do know he wasn’t proven guilty of any rapes and we need to adhere to the principle innocent until proven guilty. There are no exceptions for celebrities nor the type of crime committed. Innocent until proven guilty means something.  It’s not there to make us feel good like In God We Trust. It’s there because it is the only way to have a society where the innocent aren’t wrongly punished. While once in a while we know a guilty person gets off and leaves a bad taste in our mouths I assure you the taste is much worse when an innocent man is wrongly punished.

I do not know what the count is on the number of women who have accused Mr. Cosby at this point, I think I read 14 in one article, it could be more by now. What I do know is not a single woman made these allegations when there would have been time to properly investigate. That choice has consequences- lifelong consequences and never being able to prove his guilt is one of them. If it is true then the women’s decisions were no doubt difficult. I can see the logic in not wanting to risk your career and reputation by accusing a beloved performer of a terrible crime. However they made their choice. It is not the public’s job to punish someone with no evidence. Women can lie about rape. We know this, we’ve always known it and the recent retraction of the Rolling Stones article should be a loud reminder. Why would they lie? I don’t know and I dare not speculate, but it happens. Obviously not all rape allegations are false- but that is what a trial is supposed to decide. I don’t blame the women for coming forward now, it is most certainly their right if true- but I do blame our society for convicting a man without a trace of physical evidence.

Fry The Boston Bomber and Capital Punishment Rant…

Screenshot from The Green Mile

Electric Chair from The Green Mile

Generally I am against the death penalty. I don’t have a moral problem with putting killers to death- truth be told if I could be 100% certain I would put many violent offenders to death. My problem with the death penalty is history shows us there is too much corruption with police, prosecutors, and even judges to trust them with the power to take a life. That isn’t to say there is necessarily a lot of corruption, but even a little is too much when someone’s life is on the line. There’s no way to phrase a law to say and ensure “only if we’re really really sure” someone is guilty can we use the death penalty, so I’m forced to just be against it.

It has always surprised me that so many conservatives, who claim to be in favor of small government and for individual freedoms, are so often for capital punishment. Giving the government the power to take a citizen’s life, legally, is the ultimate power after all.

Back on topic, the death penalty is still the law of our land and a case like this where there is no doubt the guilt of the individual is exactly the situation I would allow it. If he wants it, like McVeigh, give it to him. Don’t make a spectacle out of it, just do it. I hear people say he should spend life in prison instead because that will be more punishment. I don’t care. This isn’t about punishment at this point. If he’s dead no one can take hostages and execute them one at a time until he is released. People who think he’ll just live quietly in prison for the next 60 years aren’t thinking clearly. He isn’t the Unabomber- he may not have friends but the terrorist community knows what he did and he is a hero to them. Every day he lives is a risk to innocent people. Whether it will be a plane, a cruise ship, a train, a bus, or even a school- somewhere, somehow, innocent people are probably going to die in his name if he lives.

I headlined this post “Fry The Boston Bomber” but truthfully frying isn’t the method of execution I’d use. Ironically of all the methods used over the years in this country, hanging, firing squad, gas, lethal injection, the electric chair is probably the most cruel and unusual punishment. The fact it even still exists is a testament to how little the general public cares about our criminal justice system as a whole. The Electric Chair was a stunt by Thomas Edison to scare people away from using alternating current and instead use his, inferior, direct current for lighting homes. Direct current has its place (your computer or phone is using direct current right now) but it certainly isn’t ideal for for long distance use. How and why the Electric Chair remained in use is beyond me. Edison also electrocuted elephants but we stopped doing that once his war was lost. Good for the elephants, bad for us I guess.

A single large caliber bullet to the head is fast, humane, cheap, and most importantly, effective means of execution. Setup the gun so it is point blank, no risk of missing the target- and be done with this. Our economy is spending millions and millions of dollars on litigating whether doctors can legally perform executions or who can legally buy and sell the chemicals used in lethal injections- it is a joke. All of a sudden when it comes to execution it’s like we forget how to kill people. All of human history people have had no trouble killing other people. But call the killing capital punishment and it has to be delayed, maybe cancelled, because they can’t get some weird chemical only sold in Europe.  If a bullet is too messy then use carbon monoxide. Most US homes have at least one carbon monoxide detector to prevent accidental tragedy of dying in their sleep from this odorless gas and even still we occasionally see an entire family wiped out. But we can’t find a way to kill people in non-messy ways.

Bottom line… Maybe only have capital punishment for federal cases when there is a real risk of someone attempting to get them released by terroristic means. However if we’re going to do it lets stop worrying about how it is done and just do it.

 

 

Overweight vs. Homosexual

There are a lot of similarities to being overweight or being homosexual. For one there is the debate over whether the conditions are by choice or just how they were born. Genetic? Perhaps, or maybe something else non-genetic but still biological. Also similar is the fact I suspect that it’s probably some of both for both groups. Some overweight people can lose weight and keep it off if they try- they are basically choosing to be overweight. Some homosexuals can choose to not practice homosexuality- I have seen it happen. I strongly suspect however many homosexuals were born that way- and I highly suspect at least some overweight people have as hard a time losing weight as a heterosexual would have trying to choose to be homosexual. (As someone born heterosexual let me assure you there is no way you would ever choose to be gay. If you are choosing whether you are straight or gay then you were born different from me.) Building off that I am sure someone who is homosexual must be wired differently than I.

The overweight and homosexuals are both at higher risk of disease. Kids and teenagers who are overweight or homosexual often get made fun of or bullied. There are of course plenty of differences as well… But the one that stands out the most to me is that it is socially acceptable to attempt to eradicate obesity but not homosexuality. Obesity is like a disease that must be cured but homosexuality is  a trait that adds to our diversity. Why? What is the difference? This isn’t a rhetorical question. If you know the answer- please post a comment. I feel it’s important to note at this point that I personally am for equal rights, I would go about it differently, but I don’t believe homosexuality is against God or have any scripture to “prove” my view. So please trust me that I don’t mean this as an insult to homosexuals.

I’m not gay but I am overweight. I have been my entire life. Apart from a few years near the end of college and the first few years in the real world I always measured my shirts by the number before the XL… 2, 3, 4… the day I found some shirts that fit that were just XL was like discovering zero. My life up to that point I never even considered sizes below XL a possibility- I knew their names but they were myths to me. Unicorns, sasquatches… “No one is really a medium” I would think to myself. Real sizes begin at XL and go up from there.

So it is from that mindset I realize I am a member of the only minority group that it is socially acceptable to eradicate… And frankly, that makes me sad. It’s true given the choice I wouldn’t choose for my children to be fat- but the truth is I wouldn’t choose for them to be gay either- why increase their risk of disease? Why subject them to more bullying? Why increase the chance of suicide? There’s nothing morally wrong with being gay but reasonable people would avoid it if possible. There’s also nothing morally wrong with being overweight although you wouldn’t think that by what we hear on TV or read in books, magazines, and untold number of blogs. They are passing laws to prevent kids from becoming obese. Imagine if someone tried to pass a law to prevent kids from becoming gay. Do you think that sounds ridiculous? Perhaps, but I submit it is no more ridiculous to think you can legislate someone’s weight as you  their sexual preferences.

 

What’s in a name?

NametagMy first real blog and it’s 2015… So I am a little late to the game. All the good blog names were taken. Just as well, any name I was thinking would easily link back to me. I decided to go as generic as possible. Apparently at least 7 others had the same idea so weblog8 was born. In case there was any confusion that’s pronounced web-log-8 and not we-blog-8. There’s no we in weblog8. It’s just me.

I don’t expect to be anonymous, there is much less of that than people think on the Internet. I just don’t need to make it easy for everyone to find me. I have a public enough internet presence as is. The problem is more than once I have typed out a reply on Facebook or was about to Tweet something and stopped myself because I worry too much what friends might think. I know if I had time to explain my thinking they would agree, or at least, agree to disagree after seeing the reasons. However a Facebook post, let alone a tweet, does not lend itself to detailed explanations and even if it did I am not always in the mood to explain.

I’m really not sure what I will be blogging about and less sure anyone will care, besides me.