Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 13th, 2008

Anesthesia awareness

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This happened to a friend’s mother. It’s really unbelievably awful:

Imagine this: You’re lying on the operating table, apparently unconscious. The surgeon is cutting. But you’re still awake. Not only that, you’re paralyzed by the drugs the anesthesiologist gave you and can’t speak out.

That horrifying experience happens to between 20,000 and 40,000 Americans every year, leaving many — not surprisingly — severely traumatized.

Now, a study in today’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine is raising questions about a monitor used by about 60 percent of U.S. operating rooms in an effort to prevent these frightening cases.

The study involved 1,941 patients who underwent operations at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Anesthesiologists monitored half the patients with a system called BIS (bispectral index system) that analyzes brain waves so doctors can supposedly tell if a patient isn’t totally unconscious or is starting to wake up. For the other half of the patients in the study, doctors simply paid especially close attention to the dosages of anesthesia.

An equal number in each group — two — turned out to have been awake for at least part of their operations. One 51-year-old patient being monitored by BIS came to during pancreatic surgery and felt “white-hot fire pain” in his abdomen and his “organs and intestines moving around,” the researchers wrote. He remembers “crying and thinking, ‘If someone can see my crying, then someone can help me.’ “

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Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 5:41 pm

Posted in Daily life, Medical

Miss Molly looking good

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Molly at Rest

Miss Molly is growing in stature, if not wisdom, and in favor with The Wife and I. She’s a happy kitty and her intestinal problems are over. (A certain amount of meds, furniture replacement, dry cleaning, steam-cleaning the carpets, and 3 foggers to rid the place of any mites, etc. did the trick.)

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly

Comment on Spitzer’s resignation speech

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Good point:

I didn’t believe any of it. Not one word of Eliot Spitzer’s televised resignation statement was believable to me. (OK, the part about resigning and the date maybe.) And for every executive or corporate spokesperson who may one day have to do something similar, take a lesson. The words don’t mean a thing if they don’t have that certain body language and tone.

Eliot Spitzer said these words: “In the past few days I’ve begun to atone for my private failings with my wife Silda, my children and my entire family.” His wife was standing right beside him. Did he look at her? No. Did he even slightly turn his body in acknowledgement that she was there? No. Did he look at the camera to communicate with his eyes that he meant the words? No. He read. He was a proficient reader. But he was not believable. I think if he meant those words, he would have made some gesture towards his wife, let alone look her in the eye, when he said them. I think, if he really meant what he was saying, he would have used non-verbal expression to support the words on the page. He went on to say: “Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the love and compassion they have shown me.” He was right. So, where was the gesture towards that representative of the family, standing so close by in support? There wasn’t one. More. “I am deeply sorry I did not live up to what was expected of me.” No eye contact with anyone. Oh yes, his eyes flicked up and down as he read, but you could tell his eyes were not connecting with anyone. Finally, he changed the pace of the delivery, looked up and delivered the word “sincerely”, to the cameras. Why? He was talking to the people of New York. As in: “To every New Yorker, and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.”  I would have thought his wife was one of those and deserved some eye contact. Apparently not. Maybe she knew better. The performance never improved. He had his chance: “As I leave public life, I will first do what I need to do to help and heal myself and my family…..” Still no acknowledgement of the family rep stating next to him. (If you want to see a powerful, non-verbal performance watch this announcement but focus on Silda. She makes eye contact with the media and with someone off screen. She obviously had her reasons for being there and I thought she was very strong, not just for showing up, but for her performance.)

We all have our own idea of what remorse/contrition looks and sounds like. We use that filter to evaluate the words we hear to determine credibility and trust. Mehrabian’s analysis of an emotional communications moment says that the body language and voice make up 93% of the trust value. That leaves only 7% for the words. Spitzer gave us the words but left out the rest. Business people beware. This bell tolls for thee as well.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 4:18 pm

Posted in Daily life

DPA’s California ballot measure

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From an email:

I am excited to announce that the Drug Policy Alliance Network (DPA’s lobbying arm) is sponsoring a ballot measure in California that represents the biggest sentencing and prison reform in United States history.

The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act (NORA) is unprecedented in scope and magnitude. It will transform California’s dysfunctional, $10-billion-a-year prison system, reversing its rampant and costly expansion. NORA will, within just a few years, reduce by tens of thousands the number of people unjustly and unnecessarily incarcerated, while maintaining public safety. At the same time, it will provide a comprehensive model for a public health approach to substance use.

Success in California will transform the drug policy reform landscape nationwide!

At a time when one in 100 adult Americans is in prison, California faces a prison overcrowding crisis that may be the worst in the nation. The system is at 175% of capacity. This is due in large part to excessive incarceration of nonviolent offenders, many of whom are drug law violators. Overcrowding has been exacerbated by the state’s failure to provide meaningful recidivism-reduction programs, including addiction treatment and other rehabilitation services.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Drug laws

Iraq Veterans Against the War

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Kelly Dougherty, the former sergeant who is the executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), announced the start today of the Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan investigation into the US conduct of its wars, featuring testimony of IVAW soldiers. Dougherty promised that “Winter Soldier is the first event in an ongoing public awareness and outreach effort by IVAW. No longer will public debate on the Global War on Terror be framed solely by politicians and pundits. IVAW will use the ongoing Winter Soldier project to spread awareness of G.I. resistance among veterans and active duty troops and build strategic alliances … to broaden and strengthen our strategy to end the Iraq occupation.” The Winter Soldiers at IVAW are not relying on the mainstream media; “every minute of testimony, will be broadcast live and will be available to watch in an online on-demand library,” said Dougherty. In addition, “There are hundreds of viewing events planned around the world where people will gather to watch testimony.” Pro-war groups, including the Gathering of Eagles and Move America Forward, are protesting IVAW’s Winter Soldier hearings.

Source: Irag Veterans Against the War, March 13, 2008

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Iraq War, Military

Torture investigation

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Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent:

In January, the Justice Dept. announced its first-ever investigation of an official involved in the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation”—i.e., torture—program. Previously, prosecutions brought against individuals involved in torture were either directed at soldiers and Marines—usually enlisted men—and, in one case, a CIA contract employee in Afghanistan. But with the investigation into Jose Rodriguez, the former head of clandestine operations for the Central Intelligence Agency who allegedly destroyed videotapes displaying brutal interrogations, an important threshold was crossed: the CIA’s interrogation program was no longer off-limits to the Justice Dept.

Rodriguez’s potential indictment also represents another fear at Langley: that the interrogators would face criminal charges for doing what the Bush administration ordered them to do. “We knew that five, 10 years down the road, our people were going to get screwed, like they always do,” a former senior CIA official told me in January. The administration “wanted information, and they don’t give a damn how they get it. They just don’t want dirt on their plate.”

Indeed, many involved in the intelligence community consider it a matter of basic injustice for low-level CIA interrogators to face prosecution while Bush administration officials—who ordered the torture program to move forward and devised its legal rationales—almost certainly will not. “The sad and unfair truth,” e-mailed Mark S. Zaid, a criminal attorney who has represented CIA employees for years, “is that historically, especially in the intelligence community, it is far more common that the line officers and lower-level management take the heaviest hit for their actions while the political appointees/elected officials who directed or authorized the policy receive a free pass.” Zaid’s client Mark Kiriakou, who led the interrogation of al-Qaeda detainee Abu Zubaydah in 2002—Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded—is a possible candidate for prosecution, though the Justice Dept. has said it does not have an investigation currently open into him.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 2:58 pm

OpenCourseware Rankings

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Useful information:

Ranking of Foreign Language OpenCourseWare Education Sources
There are many free foreign language courses online, but not all of them are equal in content and quality. Here is a ranking of the best foreign language education sources.

School Rankings for Writing OpenCourseWare
If you want to become a better writer on a tight budget, OpenCourseWare is the way to learn. Universities with the best free writing courses are ranked here.

University Rankings for Science OpenCourseWare
There are a number of different universities that offer free science courses online. Find out which universities have the best OpenCourseWare here.

More info at the main link above.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

Our kindship with animals

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An important part of one’s humanity is a feeling of kinship with animals, a feeling assisted by having a pet, whose close and continuing proximity enables one to observe and understand a range of animal feelings and habits. Once one becomes aware of this kinship, a general sympathy with life is engendered. That is prelude to this heart-breaking story, which you should skip if you easily cry.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Daily life

King Corn: the trailer

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Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 12:57 pm

What were they thinking (Army Division)?

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Good god:

Just out: the hot new list of general-officer assignments. Who’s getting what, General Casey?

The Army chief of staff announces the assignment of the following officers:

Maj. Gen. Jay W. Hood, commanding general, First Army Division East, Fort Meade, Md., to chief, Office of the Defense Representative, Pakistan.

*Smacks forehead.* Seriously? We’re going to send a former commanding general of the indefinite-detention complex at Guantanamo Bay to Pakistan? A walking symbol of injustice and, rightly or wrongly, disrespect to Islam? Just so we can tick off as many Pakistanis as possible? So we can come one step closer to a Teheran-Embassy-in-1979-style crisis? So we can give a corrupt dictator advice on how to imprison people forever and torture them while we’re at it, just for a change of pace?

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 11:38 am

Why oversight is needed

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Why we need an alert Congress, independent and courageous Inspectors General, close judicial oversight, and continual monitoring of the Executive Branch:

The FBI continued to improperly obtain private telephone, e-mail and financial records five years after it was granted expanded powers under the USA Patriot Act, according to a report issued today.

In a review focusing on FBI investigations in 2006, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found numerous privacy breaches by the bureau in its use of national security letters, or NSLs, which allowed the FBI to obtain personal information on tens of thousands of Americans and foreigners without approval from a judge.

The findings mirror a report issued by Fine’s office last year, which concluded that the FBI had improperly used the letters to obtain telephone logs, banking records and other personal data for three previous years, from 2003 to 2005.

The pattern persisted in 2006, Fine concluded in the report issued today, in part because the FBI had not yet halted the shoddy recordkeeping, poor oversight and other practices that contributed to the problems. He also said it was unclear whether reforms enacted by the Justice Department and FBI last year will address all the issues identified by his investigators.

“The FBI and Department of Justice have shown a commitment to addressing these problems,” Fine said in a statement. “However, several of the FBI’s and the Department’s corrective measures are not yet fully implemented, and it is too early to determine whether these measures will eliminate the problems with the use of these authorities.”

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Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 10:55 am

Ten quotations from 1984

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Along with 10 great paperback covers from old publications of the book. I vividly remember the Signet covers (#10 and #7) from when I was in high school. Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 10:50 am

Posted in Books, Government

Global warming: it’s NOT due to the sun

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Scientists have carefully checked the actual data (not ideology) and found that global warming is NOT due to the sun:


Variations in solar output (yellow) show only the slightest correlation with changes in global mean temperatures (gray) and El Niño cycles (blue). (Click thumbnail to view graph.)

Don’t blame the sun for recent global warming. A new analysis, based on historical data rather than computer simulations, shows that our star’s role in climate change has been vastly overtaken by other factors, particularly the human-induced buildup of greenhouse gases.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 10:10 am

Cheating the government is okay if done overseas

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When Justice Department lawyers proposed adding a new rule that would require U.S. contractors to report waste, fraud or abuse they encounter while doing work for the government, they intended it to apply to all of the $350 billion in government contracts each year.

But in a twist that has evolved into a Capitol Hill mystery, the proposed rule that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget published late last year includes language that would exempt from such reporting all U.S. contractors who do work overseas. There have been more than $100 billion in such contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past five years.

The exemption has riled the Justice Department, which opposes limiting the rule to domestic contracts. And the loophole has led members of Congress to call for an investigation amid concerns that someone inserted the exemption as a favor to the contracting lobby that has major interests because of the ongoing wars.

“This sends the message that if you’re going to do waste, fraud and abuse, don’t do it at home, do it abroad,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who has asked House oversight leaders to investigate. “This was slipped in at the last minute. . . . It’s obviously something you can’t justify in any way, and there’s no answer to why you’d allow this to occur abroad any more than you’d allow it to occur domestically. There is a question as to how and why the change was made, and we don’t know the answer.”

Welch, who called for hearings on the matter in a letter to colleagues Friday, said the White House could easily fix the problem by deleting the exemption language, but he said there has been no willingness to do so.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 9:57 am

Keith Olbermann on Clinton & the Obama remark

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Worth reading:

By way of necessary preface, President and Sen. Clinton, and the senator’s mother, and the senator’s brother, were of immeasurable support to me at the moments when these very commentaries were the focus of the most surprise, the most uncertainty, and the most anger. My gratitude to them is abiding.

Also, I am not here endorsing Sen. Obama’s nomination, nor suggesting it is inevitable.

Thus I have fought with myself over whether or not to say anything.

Senator, as it has reached its apex in their tone-deaf, arrogant and insensitive reaction to the remarks of Geraldine Ferraro, your own advisers are slowly killing your chances to become president.

Senator, their words, and your own, are now slowly killing the chances for any Democrat to become president.

In your tepid response to this Ferraro disaster, you may sincerely think you are disenthralling an enchanted media and righting an unfair advance bestowed on Sen. Obama.

You may think the matter has closed with Rep. Ferraro’s bitter, almost threatening resignation.

But in fact, Senator, you are now campaigning as if Barack Obama were the Democrat and you were the Republican.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 9:35 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

Why it’s hard to trust business: Rx drugs

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Yet another reason why businesses require regulation and monitoring: price fixing.

A $125 million settlement has been announced in a major class action lawsuit involving members of the Prescription Access Litigation (PAL) coalition. The case, In re Pharmaceutical Industry Average Wholesale Price Litigation, was originally filed in 2002, and claimed that the defendant drug companies intentionally inflated reports of the Average Wholesale Prices (AWPs) on certain prescription drugs administered in doctors’ offices and paid for by Medicare Part B. …

Until 2006, the published AWP was used to set the price that Medicare and consumers making Medicare Part B co-payments pay physicians for these drug. Private insurance companies and other third-party payors also use the AWP to determine how much to pay physicians. The lawsuit contends that
consumers and third-party payors paid more than they should because of the drug companies’ false AWP reporting.

The settlement includes branded and generic drugs used primarily in the treatment of cancer, HIV and other serious illnesses. Under the terms of the settlement 82.5 percent of the settlement fund is designated for third-party payors’ claims and the remaining 17.5 percent is designated for consumer claims.

The defendants included in today’s settlement are:

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Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 9:12 am

Chickpea soup

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This sounds good, and I have some frozen fresh chickpeas….  you see where I’m going with this?

Chickpea Soup With Sausage
Yield 4 servings;  Time About 2 hours, plus overnight soaking

Freshly cooked chickpeas are far superior here, because their broth is so good.

* 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight in water to cover if time allows
* 5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
* 3 sprigs rosemary or thyme
* 1 medium to large carrot, peeled and diced small
* 1 celery stalk, peeled and diced small
* 1 medium onion, peeled and diced small
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 pound sausage, grilled or broiled, thinly sliced
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or to taste

Combine chickpeas, sliced garlic and rosemary or thyme in a large saucepan with fresh water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, partly covered, for at least 1 hour, or until chickpeas are fairly tender. Add additional water if necessary, and skim any foam that rises to the surface.

Scoop out herbs and add carrot, celery, onion, salt and pepper. Continue to cook until chickpeas and vegetables are soft, at least 20 minutes longer. Remove about half the chickpeas and vegetables, and carefully puree in a blender, adding cooking liquid as needed.

Return the puree to the pot, and stir; add the minced garlic and sausage, and reheat, adding more water if the mixture is too thick. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve, drizzled with the olive oil.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 9:08 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Why it’s hard to trust businesses

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And why regulation proves to be necessary. Read this account:

The president of a slaughterhouse at the heart of the largest meat recall denied under oath on Wednesday, but then grudgingly admitted, that his company had apparently introduced sick cows into the hamburger supply.

He then tried to minimize the significance.

The executive, Steve Mendell of the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company of Chino, Calif., said, “I was shocked. I was horrified. I was sickened,” by video that showed employees kicking or using electric prods on “downer” cattle that were too sick to walk, jabbing one in the eye with a baton and using forklifts to push animals around.

The video was taken by an undercover investigator from the Humane Society of the United States. One tape showed a worker using a garden hose to try to squirt water up the nose of a downed cow, a technique that Representative Bart Stupak, a Michigan Democrat who conducted the hearing where Mr. Mendell testified, referred to as waterboarding.

Testifying before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Mendell, who appeared only after being subpoenaed, assured lawmakers that despite his lack of knowledge about conditions at the plant, sick animals were not slaughtered for food, so no safety issue existed.

But Mr. Mendell retracted the statement when shown a second video in which a “downer” cow was shocked and abused by workers trying to move it to the “kill box,” then finally shot with a bolt gun and dragged by a chain to the processing area.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 9:05 am

Blenheim Bouquet and the Tech

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I used Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet this morning, with the Simpsons Emperor 3 Super brush. Extremely good lather, easily worked up. And I brought out from my stash of razors a very fine Gillette Tech in gold, mainly because it’s been discussed a lot recently on the shaving forums. A new Trig blade, and a very smooth shave. A very nice razor indeed.

Gessato for the Oil Pass, and then a splash of Blenheim Bouquet aftershave. Refreshed and ready to go.

Written by Leisureguy

13 March 2008 at 8:13 am

Posted in Shaving

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