We are afraid of Heart Disease, but what about the “Unknown Killer”?

May 1, 2008

*Note: This post is at least partially intended to infuriate doctors and those studying medicine… hehehehe : ).

Recently, my uncle was hospitalized after having a shortness of breath… they soon found that he was very, very sick. Upon seeing what goes on at hospitals, it got me to thinking. This post is the result of my (very brief and not at all scientific) studies…

We are all very aware that heart disease is published as the leading cause of death in the U.S. (652,486 deaths in 2004 according to the CDC). Cancer comes in at a close second at 553,888 deaths. Strokes are third at 150,074. This is all very eye-opening, maybe even scary (those numbers are pretty intimidating), but what kills even more people (as best anyone can tell) than heart disease? The answer is a little-known condition called Iatrogenesis… what is Iatrogenesis, you ask? It is officially defined as “a state of ill health as a result of medical treatment”. Almost unbelievably, doctors are one of the leading causes of death in the modern U.S.!!!

Estimates range from 220,000 a year to 750,000 deaths a year, depending on your source. This fact (that various sources do not agree on the exact number) is disturbing in itself. Is it really possible that 500,000 people are dieing per year as a result of seeing a medical professional?

A quick search on the internet will yield a plethora of well documented cases regarding Iatrogenesis.
I can almost hear doctors rushing to there own defense now… “Medicine is a field in which an inherent amount of danger is present as a result of the limited amount of knowledge that we have of the human body/immune system!”.

At first, I could sympathize… after all, they are doing their best, right?

This is where the story gets interesting… again, estimates vary, but a common number among a variety of sources seems to indicate that almost 100,000 people a year are hospitalized unnecessarily. On top of that, 12,000 people a year die as a result of unnecessary surgery. UNNECESSARY SURGERY?! What the heck is that? Is it possible that doctors recommend surgery as a result of economic motivations?

I used to support the concept of tort reform… I used to think that doctors had it rough due to their own insurance costs… but 500,000 people die a year after seeking their services?

This may sound harsh, but I cannot fathom any other profession in which 500,000 “errors” that result in deaths a year would be acceptable…

Before we scream for tort reform in the area of medical practice liability, maybe it is time for the doctors of the U.S. to get it together!


Hey Billy, pass me a cold one!

April 4, 2008

Question: How old do you have to be before you can legally drive a car?

Answer: 16 years old in most states, although there is some variation.

Dangers involved: Numerous, probably too many to list. Driving is one of the most dangerous activities that most of us engage in on a regular basis. Severe injury and death are certainly possibilities.

Question: How old do you have to be to enlist in the U.S. military?

Answer: 17 years old (with parental consent), 18 years old otherwise.

Dangers involved: Quite a few, but not nearly as many as driving… If, by chance, you actually see combat you could be severely injured or die. Heck, I suppose you could even be injured or die outside of combat, considering the general nature of this line of work.

Question: How old do you have to be to purchase cigarettes?

Answer: 18 years old.

Dangers involved: Lung cancer, emphysema, burns, other types of cancer, death (long term).

Ok, so what is the point, you ask? While watching the idiot-box last night, I happened upon a show that followed the daily activities of police officers working in spring break hot-spots. I was surprised to see that their job basically consisted of going from one party to another looking for underage drinkers, and it got me to thinkin’…

I am not going to re-hash the cliche argument that goes along the lines of “if I am old enough to be drafted or take a bullet for the country, why the hell can’t I enjoy a beer?”…

But seriously, if someone is old enough to take a bullet for their country, why the hell can’t they enjoy a beer?

I am sure that some “Mother Against Drunk Driving” is going to read this and come back with a million reasons detailing the dangers of under-age alcohol consumption… but is it more dangerous than walking onto a battlefield? Better yet, is it more dangerous than driving a car or smoking? But again, the MADD person will probably say that smoking doesn’t put others at risk to the same extent as drinking…

You can get a CDL and drive a semi-truck in most states at the age of 18 (not in Ohio, my state of residence, unless you are going to drive ONLY in Ohio). Read that again: the guy driving the semi-truck next to your compact car may be 18 years old. Why is this ok? Because he has passed a course and been “licensed” by the state to do so (and more importantly, he has paid the price of a CDL to the BMV). This made me think…

One great way to fund alcohol rehabilitation programs would be by “licensing” people to drink at the age of 18… Basically, the 18 year old pays some cash, takes a few courses on the dangers of drinking and how to drink responsibly, and is then “licensed” to drink at 18 years of age. The proceeds from the licensing fees could then be used to pay for alcohol rehab programs, clinics, etc…

Would the government actually do this? Heck no! Why? Because it would make too much sense (and be costly… think of all the lost revenue in bail money for the 19 year old who just got caught getting blitzed following finals week).

Much as we are trying to “medicalize” everything into a medical condition, we are on the road to criminalizing everything as well…

Seriously, I would like someone to explain to me why a 19 year old can’t legally drink… Is it because they are too immature to make the right decisions (if so, should we really let them behind the wheel of a car, or arm them with a tank on a battlefield?)?


A Small Step in the Right Direction

February 8, 2008

Today, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the electric chair satisfies the criteria for ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment, eliminating its use on a state-wide basis. Nebraska was the only state remaining that used the electric chair as its sole means of execution.

I have written about the topic of capital punishment before (https://goingbald.wordpress.com/2008/01/22/are-we-there-yet/) and I am adamantly against the use of capital punishment, so needless to say I feel that this is a small step towards a more civilized U.S. society.

Why outlaw the electric chair? How is it cruel and unusual punishment? Here are a few brief examples from the Death Penalty Information Center (WARNING: If you are sensitive to graphic writing, skip this section and then ask yourself how you can justify punishing people this way if you can’t even read about it!):

Frank Coppola, 1982, Virginia: Two 55 second jolts of electricity were required to kill Mr. Coppola. During the second, Coppola’s head and leg caught fire and the sizzling sound of burning flesh could be heard in the room.

Allen Lee Davis, 1999, Florida: Mr. Davis was the first man to be executed in Florida’s new electric chair. Before he was pronounced dead, blood seeped onto his shirt from his mouth (reports state that the spot it formed was the size of a dinner plate). Florida’s senator, Ginny Brown-Waite, admitted that she was shocked to see the blood until she noticed that it was forming what she thought was a cross on his chest, indicating that “God approved of the execution.” (I have to interject and say that Ms. Brown-Waite sounds like a real wacko)

These are just a couple examples of what amounts to state-sponsored torture. Run a search for ‘botched executions’ and you will find dozens more. Unfortunately, other forms of capital punishment are still legal in many states. The most common currently used is lethal injection. It too is a real gem.

Joseph Cannon, 1998, Texas: After beginning the procedure, the vein in his arm collapsed and the needle popped out. When he saw what happened, Cannon had to tell the executioners “It’s come undone.” The officials closed the curtain to the witness room, re-opening it 15 minutes later to reveal a sobbing Cannon, who made a second last statement before the procedure resumed.

I think that it is important to understand that I in no way sympathize with these people… they murdered others to receive this sentence. I simply question whether it is appropriate to punish the crimes that these people have committed by committing the same crime against them. I also, like the Nebraska Supreme Court, question whether the methods used are appropriate… no human deserves to be tortured at the hands of another.

These methods, and capital punishment in general, have been condemned by other countries, scholars, philosophers, and even the Pope. What will it take for the people of the U.S. to acknowledge this cruel and unusual practice for what it is?


Remember the 4th Amendment, or was that just a silly detail?

February 7, 2008

I recommend that anyone who does not know the rights given to us by the 4th amendment review the constitution before reading this article…

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23037049

Evidently when you are coming into and going out of the country the federal agents can do whatever the heck they want to you or your stuff.

A fictional, but likely airport encounter:

Stunned traveler: “Hey, don’t you need a search warrant to go through my cell phone or laptop? When will I get that back?”

Federal Agent: “Look lady, I’ll go through what I want whenever I want. You might get it back and you might not. My ol’ lady needs a new laptop.”

I can understand the whole “national security/anti-terrorism” concept, but this is getting absolutely ridiculous. This lady’s company laptop was seized… she was told she would get it back in 10 to 15 days. A year later she still hasn’t seen her laptop or received an explanation. Another person handed over their cell phone… when it was returned the call history had been erased.

I find this absolutely infuriating. What gives a border agent the right to take and search your stuff with no probable cause?

This is a serious infringement on our constitutionally protected rights… hopefully anyone who reads this will take it as seriously as it is.


Honey, does the beer have its seatbelt on?

February 6, 2008

Here is another amazing (ridiculous, idiotic) story from today’s news…

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080206/ap_on_fe_st/odd_secured_beer;

_ylt=AjxtOIu87OXObX9xfZkdaJftiBIF

It seems that this lady has her priorities out of order.

If you didn’t read the story, here is a brief summary:

This lady got drunk, had to go for a “beer run”, and couldn’t leave her kid at home alone, so she hopped in the car and went for a drunken drive with her toddler. She arrived at the store, bought a 24 pack of Busch beer (yuck), strapped it into the passenger seat with a seatbelt (just in case), and left the toddler to run wild in the back seat for the drunken drive home.

She was pulled over by a deputy, wouldn’t take a breath test, and they found drug paraphernalia in her possession. She is now jailed with bail set at $31,000. When asked why the beer was buckled up and the kid wasn’t, at least she responded honestly: “I don’t know.”

So basically, she got hammered, went to get more beer, and decided that it was more important to strap in her 24 cans of Busch than her kid. I swear, I couldn’t make this crap up if I had to.

If you are making sure that your brewskis are buckled up, you might have a problem.


Is this a joke?

February 1, 2008

Yesterday, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the city of Akron’s law regarding the ‘cop-in-a-box’ speeding cameras is not unconstitutional. Basically, the law says that if one of these cameras catches you speeding, you are definitely, absolutely going to get a ticket. Anyone ever heard of ‘due-process’?

It gets better:

It doesn’t matter if you were driving… just that it was your car (parents, don’t let your kids drive your car).

Here is a quote from their opinion:

“While the state statute punishes the driver of the vehicle directly, the Akron ordinance imposes a fine on a vehicle’s owner, who may or may not be the driver at the time of the violation. Ultimately regardless of the actor who performs it, the actual conduct prohibited — exceeding speed limits — is the same. When a municipal ordinance does nothing more than prohibit the same conduct prohibited by state statute, there is no conflict between the two.”

You’ve got to be kidding me. If someone steals my car and goes whizzing down the road, I can get a ticket? This almost has to be a joke. What if my girlfriend (or parents) takes my car to the grocery store and speeds past one of these things?

I am dumbfounded by this one. Clearly the ordinance was enacted to make a few bucks off of people who are speeding, and the Supreme Court has no issue with it.

Unreal.

(see the full opinion here http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/Communications_Office/summaries/2008/0131/062265.asp)


Only in America…

January 16, 2008

Let’s begin with a few news reports from today:

It seems that legislators in Virginia still have some common sense…

State Del. Lionel Spruill has introduced legislation to make it illegal to hang fake rubber testicles from your truck’s trailer hitch. Sounds good to me, but evidently many people feel that one of our ‘inalienable rights’ is the right to display rubber genitalia in public for all 5 year olds to see. Ironically, the only people who find these things ‘cute’ or ‘amusing’ are people with the minds of five year olds. Grow up, people.

The full story can be read here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080116/ap_on_fe_st/trailer_testicles;_ylt

=AipbPk3mRT0mNLufOhWO9THtiBIF

Next up:

In Kokomo, Indiana, some idiot trying to rob a convenience store shot his own nuts off. Yep, you heard me right… after demanding that the clerk hand over the cash and cigarettes, this whiz-kid discharged the gun into (and through) his right testicle. Oops.

The full story can be read here:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080116/ap_on_fe_st/robber_shoots_

self;_ylt=AtJfrk4HGkElDtASnqIOc__tiBIF

I guess my point is this:

This kind of stuff is going on continuously in the U.S., and it is extremely expensive for taxpayers, insurance policy holders, etc…

Maybe the rising cost of health care has a thing or two to do with some idiot, probably without insurance, blowing off his own ‘man jewels’ while trying to steal a $5 pack of cigarettes. Likewise, maybe our income taxes wouldn’t be so high if the courts weren’t bogged down with expensive cases involving people who passionately believe that their rights are being infringed upon because they can’t hang rubber gonads from their trailer hitch.

We are supposed to be the best educated people in the world. This makes for some funny reading, but I think it is time to step up to the plate, people.