Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘health/medicine

An ethics issue: Physicians dispensing drugs for healthy people?  And for kids to study?

The American Academy of Neurology now says: Stop that.

Adderall and other ADHD medications, a disorder characterized by problems with attention and hyperactivity, are used as “smart drugs” or “study drugs” by students who find the pills give them a mental edge.  These drugs are among the most prescribed drugs in America.

Adderall is the only drug class that showed increased use in 2012, the federal survey reported.

 Nancy Shute posted on Shot this March 14, 2013 under “Neurologists Warn Against ADHD Drugs To Help Kids Study”

Ten milligram tablets of the prescription drug Adderall. The drug is used to treat ADHD and is used by some students to boost their academic performance.

Ten milligram tablets of the prescription drug Adderall. Jb Reed/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The brain docs are directing that advice first and foremost to their fellow physicians, the ones who have been writing all those scrips for people who don’t have ADHD, or who perhaps don’t think about all the pills their patients sell on the student black market.

“We don’t believe that doctors are supposed to be drug dispensers for healthy people,” says William Graf, a professor of pediatrics and neurology at the Yale School of Medicine. “This is an ethics issue.”

But the message is also being sent to teenagers and their parents, some of whom who might think that giving their child a little leg up for a big test isn’t such a bad thing. The buzz term for that? “Pediatric neuroenhancement.”

Prescribing ADHD drugs to children who don’t have the disorder is “not justifiable,” according to the American Academy of Neurology’s new position paper: Children’s brains are still developing, the paper says, and they don’t have the ability to weigh the risks and benefits of medication.

Prescribing study drugs is “inadvisable” in teenagers, a word chosen to reflect both teenagers’ growing autonomy, and the fact that the Academy can’t tell doctors what drugs they can and can’t prescribe.

The number of children diagnosed with ADHD rose 24 percent from 2001 to 2011, according to a study published earlier this year. Over the same time, the number of prescriptions for Adderall and other ADHD drugs has soared exponentially.

More pills in circulation means more pills that can be bought, borrowed, or snitched.

Various surveys report that 8 to 35% of college students say they have used stimulant pills to improve school performance.

The neurologists are not saying that stimulant drugs shouldn’t be used to treat ADHD, “We’re not touching that here,” Graf told Shots.

What they are saying is that doctors have a moral obligation to protect the best interests of the child — who doesn’t yet have legal control over health care decisions — and to prevent the misuse of medication.

Amphetamines like Adderall and Vyvanse can be addictive, which is why they’re classified as Schedule II controlled substances, along with Oxycontin and morphine.

Side effects can be as simple as insomnia, or as serious as sudden high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and seizures.

Other popular ADHD drugs like Concerta and Ritalin are methamphetamine  and are considered less risky. But they can cause a wide range of side effects including insomnia, aggression, mood and behavior changes, twitching, and shaking.

About 15% of 12th graders say they misuse prescription drugs, according to the 2012 Monitoring the Future survey, and about 6% say they’ve misused Ritalin or Adderall.

“As a society we have a pill for everything,” Graf says. “It’s one thing if you’re taking something from the Vitamin Shoppe. It’s another thing if you’re talking about amphetamines.”

Doctors should talk with patients and parents about why they feel the need for academic performance enhancing drugs. They should point out that there are other ways to deal with competition and anxiety.

“We have to get back to the basics,” Graf says. “Sleep, exercise, and social interaction.”

9 kinds of food you should refrain from eating: Eat everything, in moderation…

With so much misinformation out there about food and how it affects human health, making healthy food choices for you and your family can be difficult and confusing.

There are a number of specific foods you will want to avoid: they provide virtually no health benefits while posing plenty of health risks.

Mike Adams in NaturalNews posted in The Idealist, Dec. 27, 2012 under: “9 foods you should never eat again”

Here are nine foods you should never eat again if you care about preserving your long-term health:

1) White bread, refined flours.

By definition, white bread and refined flours in general are toxic for your body because they have been stripped of virtually all vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other important nutrients. The body will not know how to properly digest and assimilate these so-called foods, which can lead to health problems. Refined white flour has also been bleached with chlorine and brominated with bromide, two poisonous chemicals that have been linked to causing thyroid and organ damage. (

2) Conventional frozen meals. Most conventionally prepared frozen meals are loaded with preservatives, processed salt, hydrogenated oils and other artificial ingredients, not to mention the fact that most frozen meals have been heavily pre-cooked, rendering their nutrient content minimal at best (especially after getting microwaved again at home).

With the exception of a few truly healthy frozen meal brands such as Amy’s and Organic Bistro, most frozen meals are little more than disease in a box, so avoid them in favor of fresh foods. (

3) White rice. Like white bread, white rice has been stripped of most of its nutrients, and separated from the bran and germ, two natural components that make up rice in its brown form.

Even so-called “fortified” white rice is nutritionally deficient, as the body still processes this refined food much differently than brown rice, which is absorbed more slowly and does not cause the same spike in blood sugar that white rice does. (

4) Microwaveable popcorn. This processed food is a favorite among moviegoers and regular snackers alike, but it is one of the unhealthiest foods you can eat.

Practically every component of microwaveable popcorn, from the genetically modified (GM) corn kernels to the processed salt and preservative chemicals used to enhance its flavor, is unhealthy and disease-promoting. On top of this, microwaveable popcorn contains a chemical known as diacetyl that can actually destroy your lungs. If you love popcorn, stick with organic kernels that you can pop yourself in a kettle and douse with healthy ingredients like coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and Himalayan pink salt. (

5) Cured meat products with nitrates, nitrites. Deli meats, summer sausage, hot dogs, bacon, and many other meats sold at the grocery store are often loaded with sodium nitrite and other chemical preservatives that have been linked to causing heart disease and cancer.

If you eat meat, stick with uncured, nitrite and nitrate-free varieties, and preferably those that come from organic, grass-fed animals. (

6) Most conventional protein, energy bars. By the way they are often marketed, it might seem as though protein and energy bars are a strong addition to a healthy diet. But more often than not, these meal replacements contain processed soy protein, refined sugar, hydrogenated fat, and other harmful additives that contribute to chronic illness.

Not all protein and energy bars are bad, of course — Thunderbird Energetica, Organic Food Bar, Boku Superfood, Vega Sport, PROBAR, and Zing all make healthy protein and energy bars. Just be sure to read the ingredient labels and know what you are buying. (Free ads?)

7) Margarine. Hidden in all sorts of processed foods, margarine, a hydrogenated trans-fat oil, is something you will want to avoid at all costs for your health. Contrary to popular belief, butter and saturated fats in general are not unhealthy, especially when they are derived from pastured animals that feed on grass rather than corn and soy.

And if animal-based fats are not for you, stick with extra-virgin coconut oil or olive oil rather than margarine. (

8) Soy milk and soy-based meat substitutes. One of the biggest health frauds of modern times, the soy craze is a fad that you will want to skip. Besides the fact that nearly all non-organic soy ingredients are of GM origin, most soy additives are processed using a toxic chemical known as hexane, which is linked to causing birth defects, reproductive problems, and cancer.

Soy that has not been fermented is also highly estrogenic, which can throw your natural hormone balance out of whack. (

9) “Diet” anything. Many so-called “diet” products on the market today contains artificial sweeteners like aspartame (Equal) and sucralose (Splenda), both of which are linked to causing neurological damage, gastrointestinal problems, and endocrine disruption.

Many diet products also contain added chemical flavoring agents to take the place of fat and other natural components that have been removed to artificially reduce calorie content. Instead, stick with whole foods that are as close to nature as possible, including high-fat foods grown the way nature intended, and your body will respond surprisingly well.” End of article

Question: Where anyone can live in order to enjoy healthy food? Even in the remotest of regions, “unhealthy” imported food are flooding the markets of consumers…

Note: The body needs to be exposed to all kinds of toxins and poisons in order to react properly in cases of massive doses enter the system.

Mind you that the body contains many kinds of poisons and toxins for its proper functioning, and that every element is a poison. Salt is a serious poison that the body reacts immediately to confront as enemy and does its best to expel it quickly from the system…

Eat every thing in moderation. And do not insist on any particular food as best for your health: Too much of a good thing might turn out to be a bad idea for the system.


Sources for this article include:

Flu Vaccine? Is it working for you? Any misconceptions?
The flu vaccine does NOT protect you from a cold. It protect you from influenza.
Even if you have gotten the flu vaccine in the past and “still gotten sick,” the flu vaccine was doing its job.

It just cannot protect you from all of the different cold viruses out there. Scientists are still working on the cure for the common cold.

Until then, it’s important to get protected from the virus that we do have something for, something that is much more serious than a cold – that is, influenza.

A published in Heartland Health Centers on December 19, 2012  under: 

The Facts about the Flu Vaccine

Every year I am surprised by all of the misconceptions surrounding the flu vaccine.

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to do some myth-busting. The flu vaccine protects you from influenza, an ever-evolving virus that can lead to hospitalization and even death.

There are 2 kinds of flu vaccines:

1. the flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine. The flu shot will NOT make you sick. It is made from inactivated or killed virus. This killed virus cannot infect you. Those killed particles do, on the other hand, make your body make antibodies to influenza. Consider antibodies to be like soldiers. These antibodies help you fight off the influenza virus in case you happen to catch it. At the first site of the influenza virus, these soldiers/antibodies immediately recognize the virus and help to protect your body.

2. The nasal spray flu vaccine is made of weakened virus, but even that does not cause the severe symptoms of influenza.

It CAN, in some people, lead to symptoms like muscle ache, headache, runny nose, wheezing and even fever. The nasal spray flu vaccine is for healthy 2 to 49 year olds, including women who are not pregnant.

Healthy means someone without a medical condition that predisposes them to the complications of influenza.

For example, the nasal spray flu vaccine is NOT suitable for someone with asthma. Your provider will figure out whether the shot or nasal spray is right for you.

So, who should get the flu vaccine?

Just about everyone who is 6 months old or older. The flu vaccine is NOT approved for those under 6 months of age.

Anyone who lives with or takes care of a baby who is under 6 months old, should especially get a flu vaccine to reduce your risk of catching the influenza virus and spreading it to an already vulnerable infant.

Certain people are especially high risk for getting complications to the flu and, therefore, are even more in need of the vaccine.

This includes people with asthma, diabetes, lung disease, pregnant women and people 65 years old or older.

Remember, while the nasal spray flu vaccine is not suitable for a number of these patient populations, the flu shot is.

Also, people who live with or take care of these high-risk patients should get vaccinated, to help protect those most at risk.

Each season a new influenza vaccine is developed to protect you from whichever virus researchers think will be the most common strain that season, from each of the 3 most common kinds of influenza (influenza B, influenza A [H1N1] and influenza A [H3N2]).

So even if you got a flu shot last year or the year before, you still need one this year.

The influenza virus is always changing.

Thus, we need to get the vaccine every year to protect us from the newest strain. The flu season can start as soon as October and extend all the way into May (Think of if sort of like a school year).

So, it is NOT too late to get your influenza vaccine for this season.

Protect yourself. Protect your friends and family. Protect your community.

Say no to the flu by saying yes to the flu vaccine.

Tania Hossain, MD, MPH

Dr. Hossain received her medical degree and completed her pediatric residency at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. She received her Master’s in Public Health, with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University.

Dr. Hossain is dedicated to providing care to the underserved and helping to reduce disparities.

Her interests include newborns/infants, asthma, preventative medicine, obesity and eating disorders.

Dr. Hossain is fluent in Bengali and Spanish.

Community health centers compare well with private practices, researcher finds

Government-funded community health centers, which serve low-income and uninsured patients, provide better care than do private practices, a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine has found.

The Affordable Care Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld June 28, depends on community health centers to provide services to previously uninsured patients.

MANDY ERICKSON published in the Stanford School of Medicine on July 10, 21012:

Randall Stafford

Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, and colleagues at University of California-San Francisco looked at the actions physicians took when patients visited private practices versus the actions that were taken at community health centers, also referred to as Federally Qualified Health Centers and FQHC Look-Alikes, both of which receive government support.

Their study was published online July 10 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Stafford is the senior author.

The results of the study are particularly encouraging given that the Affordable Care Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld June 28, depends on community health centers to provide services to previously uninsured patients.

“If community health centers are going to be taking up some of the new demand, we can be confident that they’re giving relatively good care,” Stafford said.

Stafford and his colleagues analyzed records of 73,074 visits to private practices, FQHCs and FQHC Look-Alikes. Both FQHCs and Look-Alikes receive enhanced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement; FQHCs also receive government grants.

The researchers acquired the records from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which the National Center for Health Statistics gathered between 2006 and 2008.

They evaluated the physicians’ adherence to professional and federal guidelines for 18 measures, which included treatments for specific diseases, screening for certain conditions, and diet and lifestyle counseling. “We looked at fairly common conditions that are seen in primary care,” said lead author L. Elizabeth Goldman, MD, of UCSF.

The researchers found that community health center physicians performed as well as their private practice colleagues in 13 of the 18 measures.

For the remaining five measures — use of ACE inhibitors for congestive heart failure, use of beta blockers, use of inhaled corticosteroids for adult asthmatics, blood pressure screening and avoidance of electrocardiograms in low-risk patients — the community physicians followed recommendations a higher percent of the time.

Given that patients at community health centers have more health and socioeconomic challenges and therefore take up more physician time, said Stafford, “The fact that community health centers look better is perhaps surprising.”

“On the other hand, having worked in community health centers, I can see how it makes sense,” he added. “These are centers where physicians are not as profit-driven and many have incentives more in line with providing quality care.”

Stafford added that the government has provided the centers with technology that helps manage patient care, which may explain their superior performance. And they are generally larger than private practices: “Having a number of colleagues helps you develop better practices. In a solo practice, you have rare opportunities to debate the best way to practice medicine.”

When the researchers adjusted the data so that the patients’ characteristics were statistically equal, the community health center physicians performed better on three additional measures: aspirin for congestive heart failure, statins for congestive heart failure, and avoidance of benzodiazepine, which has serious long-term side effects, for depression.

(The statistical adjustment did not alter the balance in the other previous measures, and if anything, the magnitude of the difference increased in favor of the community physicians.)

The study was funded by awards from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. In addition to Stafford and Goldman, other researchers from UCSF and Johns Hopkins Medical School contributed to the study.

Information about Stanford’s Department of Medicine, which also supported this work, is available at


What of the victims of the city of Fallujah (Iraq) During US occupation? Any health remedies?
Mariam Yasir was 6 of age in 2009 and she suffers from a birth defect.
Children of Fallujah

Photograph: Muhannad Fala’ah/Getty Images
Ever since two major US-led assaults destroyed the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, the people in Falluja have witnessed dramatic increases in rates of cancers, birth defects and infant mortality in their city.

Are the victims of Fallujah’s health crisis stifled by western silence?

Is it a moral imperative to research a possible link between US bombardment (with Not just depleted uranium, but slightly enriched uranium bombs) and rates of birth defects and pediatric cancer in Iraq?

Ross Caputi published in The Guardian on Oct. 25, 2012:

“Four new studies on the health crisis in Fallujah have been published in the last three months. Yet, one of the most severe public health crises in history, for which the US military may be to blame, receives no attention in the United States.

Dr Chris Busby, the author and co-author of two studies on the Fallujah heath crisis, has called this “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied“.

In the years since the 2004 sieges, Fallujah was the most heavily guarded city in all of Iraq. All movement in and out of Fallujah was monitored by the occupying forces. The security situation made it nearly impossible to get word out about Fallujans’ nascent health crisis.

One of the first attempts to report on the crisis was at the 7th session of the UN Human Rights Council in the form of the report, Prohibited Weapons Crisis: The Effects of Pollution on the Public Health in Fallujah by Dr Muhamad Al-Darraji.

This report was largely ignored. It wasn’t until the first major study on the health crisis was published in 2010 that the issue received mainstream media attention in the UK and Europe.

To this day, though, there has yet to be an article published in a major US newspaper, or a moment on a mainstream American TV news network, devoted to the health crisis in Fallujah. The US government has made no statements on the issue, and the American public remains largely uninformed about the indiscriminate harm that our military may have caused.

The report presented at the seventh session of the Human Rights Council gave anecdotal evidence gathered at the Fallujah General Hospital. It included a stomach-turning collection of pictures of babies born with scaly skin, missing and deformed limbs, and horrifying tumors.

Two years later, Dr Busby and his team of researchers sought to verify the claims in this report. What they found was that, in addition to shocking increases in pediatric cancers, there had also been an 18% reduction in male births. Such a finding is a well-known indication of genetic damage. The authors conclude that:

“These results support the many reports of congenital illness and birth defects in Fallujah and suggest that there is evidence of genetic stress which appeared around 2004, one year before the effects began to show.”

In a follow up study, in which Dr Busby was a co-author, hair, soil and water samples were taken from Fallujah and tested for the presence of heavy metals. The researchers expected to find depleted uranium in the environmental samples. It is well known that the US used depleted uranium weapons in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf war.  And Iraqis, at least, are well aware of the increases in cancers and infant mortality rates in the city of Basrah, which was heavily bombarded during Desert Storm. However, what the researchers found was not depleted uranium, but man-made, slightly enriched uranium.

Dr Busby has been the most visible scientist behind these studies, and for that reason, a lot of criticism has been directed at him. He is considered by many to be a “controversial” figure, which only means that his research has often challenged official government positions. His studies on Fallujah have similarly earned the title of “controversial”.

Many journals were afraid to publish his second study because of “pressure” from “outside people“. “Outside people” means types like Roger Helbig – a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force who is well-known for publishing online attacks on those who take a critical stance against uranium weapons – and pressure groups with similar agendas.

Some have criticized the methodology of this study, and they have used this as an excuse to dismiss the entire issue. But as other experts have noted:

“The role of ‘quick and dirty’ studies like this one, conducted under difficult conditions, is not to inform policy, but rather to generate hypotheses about important questions when resources are not yet available and other research methods are not possible.”

Busby is not the only researcher who takes “controversial” positions. His findings are complimented by the work of Dr Dai Williams, an independent weapons researcher. Williams has been investigating what he calls “third generation uranium weapons” (pdf).

Dr Dai Williams has found patents for weapon systems that could use nondepleted uranium, or slightly enriched uranium, interchangeably with tungsten, either as a dense metal or as a reactive metal. Undepleted and slightly enriched uranium have also been found on other battlefields (Afghanistan (pdf) and Lebanon). These findings lead researchers like Dr Williams to believe that there is a new generation of weapons being used, possibly by the US and Israeli military, that could have serious indiscriminate health effects on the populations living near bombing targets.

Many people have dismissed these hypotheses as speculative, and with that, they dismiss the research, the issue and the suffering of the people on the ground. What these naysayers fail to understand is that hypotheses are always speculative to a degree – they are informed, but they are claims intended to be verified or falsified. This is the nature of the scientific method:

First, you observe certain phenomena in the world, then you come up with a hypothesis to explain those phenomena.

Second, you conduct an experiment to test your hypothesis.

Many of these naysayers have not responded to these studies by calling for more research and investigation to test the hypotheses of Dr Busby or Dr Williams. Rather, they dismiss these hypotheses because they don’t like their moral and political implications. In doing so, they show a great deal of antipathy for the scientific method and the pursuit of truth.

But more importantly, the  naysayers also dismiss the suffering of the people of Fallujah, and all people affected by these issues.

One weapon system that may use uranium, in some form or another, is the SMAW-NE (Shoulder-fired Multipurpose Assault Weapon – Novel Explosive). My former unit battle-tested this weapon for the first time in Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury in 2004.

It is not my intention irresponsibly to lay blame on the US military, but there is a potential connection between this weapons system and the health crisis in Fallujah – and this connection needs to be investigated.

There are other avenues of investigation besides uranium weapons. One recent study examines the possible contributions of mercury and lead to the health crisis in Iraq. Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Defects in Iraqi Cities, by Al-Sabbak et al, compared the levels of lead and mercury in hair, nail and teeth samples from Fallujah and Basrah. The study found that the population studied in Fallujah had been exposed to high levels of “two well-known neurotoxic metals, Pb and Hg“.

In Basrah, the authors found even higher levels of lead exposure than in Fallujah. Basrah has the highest ever reported level of neural tube defects, and the numbers continue to climb. The authors of this study note:

“Toxic metals such as mercury (Hg) and Pb are an integral part of war ammunitions and are extensively used in the making of bullets and bombs … the bombardment of al-Basrah and Fallujah may have exacerbated public exposure to metals, possibly culminating in the current epidemic of birth defects.”

The conclusion of this study is not abstract, and it is not merely an intellectual or medical issue. It has real world importance. The modern means of warfare may be inherently indiscriminate.

This is a scientific finding worthy of discussion at the highest levels of academia, politics and international affairs. While it may yet get some attention outside the borders of the United States, its “controversial” nature (its implications of the US military’s guilt in creating possibly the worst public health crisis in history) ensures that it will be ignored at all costs by the callous and corrupt US government and its subservient media establishment.

Ultimately, it may not be the case that either lead alone, or uranium alone, is the sole cause of the health crisis in Fallujah. It could be a combination of the two agents, or something different entirely. But this is an empirical question that demands further investigation.

Methodology and proper science are important, but we must remember that science is a means to an end, and not an end in and of itself. The welfare of the people of Fallujah should be our ends, and our goal should be to help them.

Those who choose misguided political allegiance over the pursuit of truth, and those who use methodological flaws to dismiss real-world suffering, have already lost their humanity.

What we need to do to help the people of Falluja is clear. More studies need to be done to figure out what is harming those poor children, and then steps need to be taken to ensure that this never happens again.

But first, we must find a way to overcome the stifling silence of governments.

Note: You may read details on Fallujah on

“Trip to the End of the Night” by Ferdinand Celine (Part 3)

This French book, published in the early 1930’s, is basically a collection of autobiographical stories of a freshly graduating physician in his mid thirties who established his “clinic” in a poor working neighborhood in the suburb of Paris.

Paying visit to patients after sundown and the medical tour lasting till dawn generate real life stories.

The followings are excerpts, not of the stories, but of the kind of statements that the living among miseries bring up in our mind and emotions.

We have no illusions: We know that the only story we care to communicate is the variety of our pains, aches and frustrations…We care less of what people tell us of their pains and frustrations…All that we do is transfer our aches…The irony is that our pains remain intact, whole, and never vanish…We are expert with grimaces, and with old age, making the face of pain becomes too heavy and complicated…

I am walking and got caught by a mass of people obstructing the street. They were standing in circles and big rosy pig grunting in pain in the middle. The masses were pretty happy and hysterically laughing: They had this golden urban opportunity to hurting the pig, twisting his ears, encouraging a little dog to mount the pig and bite it…And the pig was moaning, whining, and trying to flee from this crazy and hellish circle of insane people…The pig was tugging on the rope, urinating, and going nowhere…Nothing was working for the pig to feel freedom…The butcher was holding a large knife and making faces and wildly gesturing to make people laugh louder…The butcher has learned the best method to amuse the guests at the wedding of his daughter…

What of this famous author husband (Montaigne) who sent his wife a letter on the occasion of the death of her newborn: “Don’t worry dear woman…Things will work out in life, eventually…I just finished reading a letter that another famous author wrote to his wife on a similar occasion…Read this attached letter over and over, and disseminate the content to our friends and acquaintances… I feel pretty serene right now…”

Dr. Baryton stayed away from any physical health intervention. He used to tell me: “Science and life form a destructive mixture. Any question you formulate to the condition of your body is a sure gap that thickness will sneak in…Any beginning of worry, obsession… is ground to let sickness in…What is already known is way enough for me to handle…”

In my case, I longed for a severe flu, high enduring fever, anything that would force me to the quietude of a deep sleep…I have lost confidence of sleeping like normal people do…this state of indifference that neutralizes my worrying nature…to getting this stupid and divine tranquility of the living…

Misery for misery, I prefer the ones not displayed in newspapers…

What could we do if we refuse to go forward, leaded as we are with all the boredom we constantly carry in living…? Sticking to our regular habits is the least annoying to our eternal boredom

It is useless to comprehend what is it to come back to a life of miseries, and the waiting, until we observe all those little people hoping to get  the promised pension, before they pass away. Like those suffering from tuberculosis when there were no cure for it: They believe they will surely get well after they receive the pension, no doubt about it…Pension is a cure it all…There is no urgency to getting well before pension time: To do what? Get back to the harsh useless work?

There come a time we talk less and less about what we desired the most…and if we are nudged to talk, it is with great effort. We abridge the story of our desires and wants…We don’t care to insist on the right and wrong.  All that we need is a little food, plenty of heat, and sleeping as much as we can, on this long and rough road of nothingness.

We lack this desire to invent new stories…We keep the griefs of the departed people who had left a little sunshine in our heart in our childhood…

Come a time we feel that we got old all of a sudden: We no longer get excited or interested in people’s stories and their worries.  It doesn’t matter how hard we pretend, the world has already left us before we vanish in the great darkness...

The simple crazy and the one tortured by civilization (book review)

Dr. Baryton is confiding to Dr. Ferdinand about the case of their colleague Parapine:

“Parapine is an intelligent guy, though of a totally arbitrary kind of intelligence.  He refuses to adapt. He is not in his skin in his profession. He cannot suffer the current world civilization, and he is a highly tormented mind.

In my case, if earth starts to spin in the opposite direction tomorrow, all that I would do is sleep an additional 12 hours, and the day after will find me totally adapted to this new reality.

Not Parapine. He won’t accept this injustice: earth turning counter-clockwise! He will ruminate projects for ever and in bitterness and dejection. He will lose sleep, contemplating ways to return to the previous normal state of affairs.  One of his desperate alternatives would be to blow earth all together.

And the worst part of it is that Parapine will succeed in chattering earth to pieces…

There are simple crazies, and you have those crazies who are tortured by civilization.

Once, Parapine told me: “Between the penis and mathematics, nothing exists. It is the total void…” He is waiting impatiently for the advent of the”Age of Mathematics“.  A world of pure logic, completely governed and functioning by programmed logic…

I know Ferdinand that you are Not taking my story seriously, and you are damn wrong in your view of Parapine. I have already witnessed and treated the cold and hot delirium cases, and I know what I’m talking about…

I am someone largely uninhibited by words and sentences: Words don’t scare me.  In the case of Parapine, I am ready to be on my guard when he speaks.

Parapine extravagances are contagious and are terribly formidable in their originality. For the moment, Parapine case is an exaggerated conviction.

Particularly, those who speak of Justice are enraged people. Those “righters of wrong” are maniacal terrors. The same fatalist individuals who work on my nerves.

Last month, I received the case of an author who kept repeating “Liquidate…liquidate…” I told the family members that the problem is mainly physical in nature: there is a restriction in his bladder, and I had to empty his urine one drop at a time… The family insisted that his temporary insanity is due to his genius that hit him suddenly…

Go figure. Families refuse to pay for a condition related to rotting matters in suspension…The monetary reward must be linked to a genius condition…”

Baryton was no musician by any long shot: If he decides to quit his institution for the mentally sick and deranged, he will destroy everything in his path, like a bear, and vanish.  The requests of the rich families for Baryton to keep updated in modern technology, electrical, magnetic, resonance, lobotomy…any thing that fry the brain once for all…is driving his egoism for his liberty to desperation.

The families have dragged him deeper into the life of routine…

The end of the tragic story of mankind is a total lack of measure and moderation…

Note: Article onspired by a section in the French book “Trip to the end of the night” by Ferdinand Celine (a pen name)

Is it the less information the better in critical split-second decision cases?

ER of Cook County Hospital (Chicago)

ER of Cook County Hospital (Chicago) on West Harriston Street, close to downtown, was built at the turn of last century. I was home of the world’s first blood bank, cobalt-beam therapy, surgeons attaching severed fingers, famous trauma center for gangs’ gunshot wounds and injuries…and most famous for the TV series ER, and George Cluny

In the mid 90’s. the ER welcomed 250,000 patients a year, mostly homeless and health non-insured patients… Smart patients would come the first thing in the morning to the ER and pack a lunch and a dinner.  Long lines crowded the walls of the cavernous corridors…

There were no air-conditioners: During the summer heat waves, the heat index inside the hospital reached 120 degrees. An administrator didn’t last 8 seconds in the middle of one of the wards.

There were no private rooms and patients were separated by plywood dividers.

There were no cafeteria or private phones: The single public phone was at the end of the hall.

One bathroom served all that crowd of patients.

There was a single light switch: You wanted to light a room and the entire hospital had to light up…

The big air fans, the radios and TV that patients brought with them (to keep company), the nurses’ bell buzzing non-stop and no free nurses around… rendered the ER a crazy place to treat emergency cases

Asthma cases were numerous: Chicago was the world worst in patients suffering from asthma…

Protocols had to be created to efficiently treat asthma cases, chest pain cases, homeless patients…

About 30 patients a day converged to the ER complaining of chest pains (potential heart attack worries) and there were only 20 beds in two wards for these cases.

It cost $2,000 a night per bed for serious intensive care, and about $1,000 for the lesser care (nurses instead of cardiologists tending to the chest pain patient…)

A third ward was created as observation unit for half a day patients.  Was there any rational protocol to decide in which ward the chest-pain patient should be allocated to? It was the attending physician call, and most of the decisions were wrong, except for the most obvious heart attack cases…

In the 70’s, cardiologist Lee Goldman borrowed the statistical rules of a group of mathematicians for telling apart subatomic particles. Goldman fed a computer data of hundreds of files of heart attack cases and crunched the numbers into a “predictive equation” or model.

Four key risk factors emerged as the most critical telltale of a real heart attack case:

1. ECG (the ancient electrocardiogram graph) showing acute ischemia

2. unstable angina pain

3, fluid in the lungs

4. systolic blood pressure under 100…

A decision tree was fine-tuned to decide on serious cases. For example:

1. ECG is normal but at least two key risk factors are positive

2. ECG is abnormal with at leat one risk factor positive…These kinds of decision trees…

The trouble was that physicians insisted on letting discriminating factors muddle their decisions. For example, statistics had shown that “normally” females do not suffer heart attack until old age, and thus a young female might be sent home (and die the same night) more often than middle-aged black or older white males patients…

Brendan Reilly, chairman of the hospital department of Medicine, decided to try Goldman decision tree.  Physicians were to try the tree and their own instincts for a period.  The results were overwhelmingly in favor of the Goldman algorithm…

It turned out that, if the physician was not bombarded with dozens of pieces of intelligence and just followed the decision tree, he was better off in the allocation to ward process…

For example, a nurse should record all the necessary information of the patients (smoker, age, gender, overweight, job stress, physical activities, high blood pressure, blood sugar content, family history for heart attacks, sweating tendencies, prior heart surgeries,…), but the attending physician must receive quickly the results of the 4 key risk factors to decide on…

Basically, the physician could allocate the patient to the proper ward without even seeing the individual and be influenced by extraneous pieces of intelligence that are not serious today, but could be potential hazards later on or even tomorrow…

Mind you that in order to save on medical malpractice suits, physicians and nurses treating a patient must Not send the patient any signals that can be captured as “contempt”, feeling invisible and insignificant

Many factors are potential predictors for heart attack cases, but they are minor today, for quick decisions…

No need to overwhelm with irrelevant information at critical time.  Analytic reasoning and snap judgment are neither good or bad: Either method is bad at the inappropriate circumstances.

In the “battle field” the less the information coming in, the less the communication streams and the better the rapid cognition decisions of field commanders…

All you need to know is the “forecast” and not the numbers of temperature, wind speed, barometric pressure…

Note: post inspired from a chapter in “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell

And here comes food contamination to Lebanon

While Lebanon is renowned for its culinary excellence, some of the most common harmful food bacteria have reached dangerous levels in the country, according to a recent study. These pathogens also show resistance to the most frequently prescribed antibiotics. Calls for legislation to outlaw unhygienic practices is sounding the alarm.

Andrew Bossone posted under “Fears over dangerous food contamination in Lebanon

Lead researcher of the study, Rabih Kamleh, an environmentalist at the American University of Beirut (AUB) said:

“We took samples [of meat and dairy products] from rural regions in Lebanon, the Bekaa, the north and the south. The results are really bad. They are contaminated by different pathogenic microorganisms such as Salmonella, Listeria and Escherichia Coli.” The mean results showed bacterial levels which were much higher than accepted standards set by the Food Standards Agency in the United Kingdom.

A shawarma sandwich. Meat and dairy products in Lebanon may be contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.stu_spivack / Flickr

Kamleh’s research follows a national uproar in Lebanon, a few months ago, after large amounts of rotten imported meat were found at some of Beirut’s top restaurants and supermarkets. Kamleh announced the results of his study during a public debate with minister of agriculture Hussein Hassan in the Bekaa about proposed national food safety laws.

The minister, who disagrees with Kamleh’s assessment that the source of the hygiene problem is importation and local production values, said he is opposed to proposals for new laws because of the difficulty in enforcing them.

A stalled law

Hussein Hassan said: “The ministry of agriculture cannot apply the new law because it suffers from vacancies in 80% of its staff. There are no agricultural engineers, veterinarians, technical assistants or biochemical engineers.”

Proposals for hygiene laws were first presented to the Lebanese government by researchers in 2005 after a three-year study, but the passing of these laws was stalled when war broke out with Israel in 2006.

In the same year, AUB microbiologist Steve Harakeh published a study showing that 100% of meat samples in Lebanon had bacteria resistant to the common antibiotics oxacilllin and clindamycin, and 42% were resistant to trimethroprim-sulfamethoxazole1.

Harakeh also published a study earlier this year in The International Arabic Journal of Antimicrobial Agents that found several dairy products in Lebanon contained Yersinia enterocolitica and are highly resistant to antimicrobials2.

Initial studies by Kamleh this year are showing similar resistance to antibiotics in meat, and also high rates of E. Coli and Listeria in cheese samples, 66% and 26.6% respectively.

“[The proposed law] is based on modern scientific evidence, so we don’t want to have this law modified to suit what the ministers want to do,” said AUB professor Mey Jurdi, who helped formulate the law in 2005 and has studied the effect of pollution in the Litani River in southern Lebanon on the region’s food supply. “We want to have a comprehensive approach to guarantee food safety in the country.”

(We have no potable water or electricity but we insist on great internet facilities...)

Wissam Tarif is very upset with our internet service providers and infrastructure and initiated a petition drive.

He wrote in

Why is our Internet so bad? About one million more Lebanese are online than the system was designed to accommodate. For years, we’ve been lied to and watched as public money drained away without desperately needed infrastructure upgrades materializing. Experts say the next major fixes, promised for September, are months behind schedule.

We’re famous for some of the highest prices and slowest speed for the net, with abysmal government planning to avoid and mitigate problems. Ogero and MOT have traded blame, but their deadlock is crippling Lebanon’s investment environment, universities, businesses and many other facets of professional and personal life.

Corruption, politicking and ineptitude are blocking crucial infrastructure and condemning us to experience Internet misery and frustration — only a massive outcry can turn the tide and help unleash the net access we deserve.

The Ministry of Telecommunications and its implementing company, Ogero, are at each others’ throats, killing any attempt to improve Internet services in Lebanon.  But after the latest series of blackouts, the business community is up in arms about the days of lost productivity and profits, and the Minister is feeling the heat. If enough of us raise our voices now we can help force through a political agreement that breathes life back into our dearly departed Internet.

We’ve all cursed our service providers at home and with our friends — now it’s time to transform our individual outrage into a collective action that Ogero, MOT and the Prime Minister himself can’t ignore. Add your voice now, and we’ll make sure that the message resonates across Lebanese media!

  • References on the food contamination

    1. Harakeh, S. et al. Isolation, molecular characterization and antimicrobial resistance patterns of Salmonella and Escherichia coli isolates from meat-based fast food in Lebanon. Science of the Total Environment 341, 33-44 ((2005) | Article | PubMed | CAS |
    2. Harakeh, S. et al. Highly Resistant Yersinia enterocolitica Isolated from Dairy Based Foods in Lebanon. The International Arabic Journals of Antimicrobial Agents 2-1 (2012) doi:10.3823/706

Religious Circumcision is currently illegal in Germany: Until further notice…

The court in the city of Cologne (Germany) banned “automatic” religious-based custom of circumcision on new-born and non adult people on the ground that “circumcision is a corporal wound punishable in justice when done on religious basis…”  

This new ruling is bringing forth religion, hygiene, sex, and taxation to the forefront of discussions.

In many periods in the Roman Empire, circumcised people had to pay additional taxes for being circumcised. First, the tax was to maintain the Temple in Jerusalem, and as the temple was destroyed by Titus, and the tax collected  was reverted to the central treasury. Emperor Domitian didn’t forbid or stigmatize circumcision: It was simply taxed, an identity indicator.

The trend is to taxing circumcision, as legal consumption of marijuana is being taxed…

Circumcision has nothing to do with a religious belief system: It is an inherited custom that was practiced during the pharaoh of Egypt. Circumcision is not mentioned in the Koran: It is a pre-islamic custom that historian would like us to believe that it was practiced for reason of hygiene. How that?

1. Lack of water in a desert climate does not encourage frequent washing of almost anything, let alone the penis or your behind.

2.  Have you tried to clean your penis with a handful of dirt or sand? Do you think an uncircumcised penis will be a rather more painful activity in such cleaning procedure?

In many parts of the world children are circumcised, regardless of religion.  In the US, 70% of the people are circumcised for hygiene reasons (as they claim) such as reducing the risk of AIDS, sexual transmission of disease, and the prevalence of infection…As if these hygiene notions were known centuries ago…

I am not in the mood of considering the religious reasons for circumcision.

I know a few physical and emotional consequences for circumcision:

1. The circumcised penis is less sensitive and the intercourse may last longer, especially in the pre-intercource phases. Mind you that sexual activities are generated mainly in the mind, with or without circumcision and it is the training of the mind that counts for satisfactory sex engagement…

2. People with uncircumcised penises do not experience masturbation early in their upbringing: The penis is over sensitive to indulge in these exercises. The need to train the extra skin to be retracted several times a day is not taught by anyone, and thus, with lack of training or ignorance the penis does not get used to be fully functional, including masturbation exercises early on…

3. I bet circumcised youth are more prone to engage in raping activities far more frequently than the uncircumcised one and behave more as bullies…

4. Circumcision was introduced as mankind political system shifted to patriarchal structure, simply because circumcised males feel readier to lord it over the females: They don’t have to beg the female partners to go gentle on them and help them introduce the penis as painlessly as possible…Circumcision was thus mainly practised to create rough males ready to cow down females. And tribal laws absolved the males of all kinds of bad behaviors related to their fresh instrument and blamed the women for the consequences…

You may say “Ships are safe in the harbors, but ships are not made for that purpose…” But again, who would hire a reckless Captain?

5. I bet that in matriarchal societies, males were punished to be circumcised when they failed to deliver as manly as expected in bed….

Religion main purpose is to codify customs in sacred rituals to satisfy the orders of the power-to-be on how society should  be run, before the clerics take over and rule effectively…

I laud the German court ruling: Time for a bold position that curtail the overwhelming power of religion on the body and mind, for the free spirit to regain their individualities, and to reduce the nasty privileges extended to clerics…

I tried for this piece to be as clear and as loud as it should be




February 2023

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