Saturday, March 04, 2006

Heart Health Podcast--Your Health Questions Answered and more on the Ports Issue

Have you ever been worried that you're having a heart attack? I should have been six years ago when I did--but I had no idea what was wrong with me. Join us today for our podcast-- we are talking to Dr. Wes Fisher of and the DrWes blog and Laurie Anderson who blogs at WebMD. These cardiac experts will answer our reader's questions on how to take care of your heart, what, if any, foods to avoid, and how to tell if you are having a heart attack.

We also got a chance to speak with Stewart Baker, the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, about the Ports issue. He gives some updated information on what is going on and Glenn asks him what he thinks of these sophisticated points made by Frank J. of

You can listen to the podcast here or subscribe to iTunes.

As always, suggestions and comments are welcome.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Do Schools Have Jurisdiction over Kids on the Internet?

This is a tough one and it is hard to say how I feel about it (Hat Tip to Treatment online). A teen in California and his friends were suspended in February for making (and viewing) threats on

A middle school student faces expulsion for allegedly posting graphic threats against a classmate on the popular Web site, and 20 of his classmates were suspended for viewing the posting, school officials said.

Police are investigating the boy's comments about his classmate at TeWinkle Middle School as a possible hate crime, and the district is trying to expel him.

According to three parents of the suspended students, the invitation to join the boy's MySpace group gave no indication of the alleged threat. They said the MySpace social group name's was "I hate (girl's name)" and included an expletive and an anti-Semitic reference.

A later message to group members directed them to a nondescript folder, which included a posting that allegedly asked: "Who here in the (group name) wants to take a shotgun and blast her in the head over a thousand times?"

Because the creator of a posting can change its content at any time, it's unclear how much the students saw.

Treatment online had this to say about the case:

Chances are, the California middle school student, who authorities will thankfully not mention by name due to his age, will not be reinstated. The threat of violence, and the graphic nature of the threats made to a specific target take this case above and beyond the more questionable calls that districts have had to make in the past. These new technologies are presenting administrators with new challenges every week. School districts must respond with very specific guidelines about what they expect from students both while they are in school and while they are at home. The debate will most likely hinge on whether the internet, as some folks in Littleton argued, can be considered part of the overall learning environment, and therefore when students post harassing, mocking or even threatening things online they are in fact disturbing that learning atmosphere. There will not be any easy answers, and districts will be forced to be flexible and learn along with parents. Discussing these issues with students may help create a more open dialogue and educate decision makers about some of the attitudes and behaviors that they need to understand.

I think my uneasiness with this case is that the 20 classmates were suspended by the school for viewing a message by the boy who put out the threat. Did they suspend any of the kids who previous school shooters told about their crimes? For example, many studies found that the school shooters told classmates about their plans and left clues that could have warned of the attacks. However, I have never heard of the classmates who knew the plans being suspended, arrested, or held accountable for what they heard.

What do you think? Should schools have the right to expel or regulate their students on the internet outside of the school setting?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Critical Thinking still Prevails

In a recent excellent post by Jane Galt, she wonders if the left is out of ideas:

The left used to have a Big Idea: The free market doesn't work, so the government will fix it. The social democrats disagreed with the Socialists and the Scoop Jackson democrats about how much fixing was necessary, but they all agreed on a basic premise, and could sell that simple message to the public. Then, after fifty years or so, people noticed that the government didn't seem to work any better than the free market . . . worse, actually, in a lot of cases . . . and it was awfully expensive and surly. Conservatives stepped in with their Big Idea: the government screws things up, so let's leave more stuff up to individuals, which, if nothing else, will be a lot cheaper. Obviously, liberals disagree with this . . . but they have not come up with a Big, Easily Sellable, Idea With Obvious Policy Prescriptions to replace it. Some of them have just kept repeating the old Big Idea, which it seems to me that fewer and fewer people believe, as the US continues to pull ahead of its economic peers. Others have focused on coming up with lots of little ideas . . . but those take up too much time and energy to attract voters. Gore tried to whang up anger against pharmaceutical companies, and Kerry tried to stoke anger against Bush, as replacement. But in politics, there's just no replacement for the Big Idea.

Sometimes, when I lament to myself about the lack of critical thinking skills that go on in our educational system, I remember that in the United States, ideas still prevail when it comes to choosing our political systems.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Joys of Podcasting

It seems that Ricky Gervais, the British Comedian, has made it to the Guinness book of World records with his podcasts (Hat Tip Fraters Libertas). "The Ricky Gervais Show, the popular podcast which earlier this month made a new Guinness World Record for having 2.9 million downloads, is returning for a much-anticipated second series." It seems that Mr. Gervais will now be charging for his podcasts.

"This project represents the first major transition from a free to a commercial podcast. Season 1 of The Ricky Gervais Show was free, but now Season 2 is available through a small subscription charge. In the light of 3 million downloads, Gervais jokingly lamented giving his show away for free in a recent podcast, saying: 'I have been a fool.' "

Wow, thanks to our wonderful readers and subscribers, Glenn and I have had over half a million downloads on our podcasts in only six weeks--I wonder if we can catch up?

I must say that podcasting is just plain is great to look at books, articles and videos of our guests and see what, how and why they think the way they do. Tim Minear, the producer and writer of Wonderfalls and Firefly among others, never went much past high school. Claire Berlinski travels the globe writing and thinking about social problems and politics, and Bill Frist spends time thinking about how to keep Americans safe from health epidemics. As a kid, I spent my time reading biographies of people who were successful. I was always intrigued by how someone's life came together in such a way that made them an inventor, athlete, public figure or writer etc.

People's minds work in such different ways and it is amazing how we all come to find our path in one way or another. I wonder what I would do if I could live another lifetime and choose another career path knowing what I know now--I think I would choose to be a film director and start at a young age--but since that is an impossibility--then luckily, I can live vicariously through others by devouring their writing, music, politics and films.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Menace in Europe Podcast

We are talking today to journalist,Claire Berlinski, whose new book, Menace in Europe : Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too, comes out today. Claire is back in the States from Istanbul to promote her new book and she took the time to talk with us about radical Islamists in Europe, the problems with assimilation, the psychological trauma facing Europe, and the possible need for a national therapist in France! I would sign up but I don't think I am up to that job. Perhaps Shrinkwrapped, Dr. Sanity, Neo-neocon, or Shrinkette would qualify.

You can listen to the podcast (you don't need an iPod) by clicking here or you can subscribe to iTunes.

You can find a dialup version here, and there's a collection of all our podcasts here.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

Medical Grand Rounds is Up

Grand Rounds is being hosted by A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure blog.

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Carnival of Homeschooling: week #9 is being hosted at the Why Homeschool Blog. The theme this week is Greek mythology--"In ancient Greek mythology, nine muses or goddesses were believed to inspire artists, musicians, writers and poets. It was common in ancient schools to have a shrine to the Muses called mouseion, the source of the modern word 'museum.' We review these mythical goddesses as applied to home education. We hope you are a 'mused.' " I find it amusing that they filed my post under the muse of comedy--oh well, that's probably where it belongs. Go check out some of the interesting posts.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Questions Needed

Glenn and I are doing an up-coming podcast on heart health with two professionals in cardiac care. We would like to know your areas of concern. If you have a question in the area of heart attacks, cardiac rhythm problems, diet, cholesterol etc. for our guests, please leave them below and I will pick some to ask on the show. Thanks so much for your help!

Update: This comment thread is closed.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Propaganda for Kids

I was just listening to a podcast from the Northern Alliance Radio Network on Powerline's blog--the guest was Jeremy Zilber, author of a new "children's book," Why Mommy is a Democrat. Zilber's site describes the book as bringing "to life the core values of the Democratic Party in ways that young children will understand and thoroughly enjoy. Using plain and non-judgmental language, along with warm and whimsical illustrations, this colorful 28-page paperback depicts the Democratic principles of fairness, tolerance, peace, and concern for the well-being of others."

Yes, in this "non-judgmental" book, one illustration shows a rampaging elephant crushing a homeless man's bench which is his only possession. But on the radio show, Zilber insists that the elephant isn't necessarily supposed to be a Republican! (Mr. Zilber commented below that he did not say this--you can read more in the comment section). And Zilber has such ignorance of child development as to state that most young kids would not know that the elephant stands for the Republican party and be able to put two and two together to get the message that Republicans are heartless brutes who trample even over the homeless.

Yes, Mr. Zilber, your non-judgmental messages certainly teach tolerance, peace, and concern. Given how little you obviously know about children, what makes you think you should be giving any advice to children at all? You obviously know very little about how sensitive young kids can be about the nuances of how politics work. I have had a four year old that knew enough about the system to pick up my phone and call 911 to report me for child abuse for asking him to take an IQ test. What makes you think four to seven year old kids don't understand the mesage you are selling. Republicans are thugs who are heartless while Democrats are good people who make no judgements. Well, let's hope the kids are smart enough to see through the irony of your non-judgmental book.

Oh, and by the way, if you are ever wondering about the warmth and kindness your "compassionate" Democratic Party has towards the homeless, why don't you check out the critical responses from homeless advocates in San Francisco when the mayor there actually found a solution called Care not Cash? The mayor is providing housing and services for the homeless and the better that works, the more upset the adovocates become. Are they so afraid of losing their own platform that they would jeopardize a program that works? Is throwing other people's money at a problem the only solution you can come up with?

Update: Yes, the mayor of San Francisco is a Democrat--but when you are accused of Republican-style attacks on the city's "most vulnerable" for providing the homeless with shelter and services, you know that you are dealing with housing justice activists so far left that they would rather throw other people's money at a problem than see a real solution put in place. But it's activists like this who set the tone for the Democratic Party. Housing and providing services to people is cruel? Somebody should tell the children.

Update II: Dr. Sanity has a more appropriate title for Zilber's book.

Update III: Here are more thoughts from Neo-neocon.