Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mammary Breaks

I had to laugh when I read a a post by LaShawn Barber about a woman who wanted extra time during a medical licensing exam so that she could breast feed her daughter (Hat Tip: Maggie's Farm). She is now suing the board to get the extra time:

A new mother who wants extra breaks so she can pump milk during a nine-hour medical licensing exam has asked a US judge to settle her dispute with the board that administers the test.

Sophie Currier, 33, requested additional break time during the test, saying that if she does not nurse her four-month-old daughter, Lea, or pump breast milk every two to three hours, she risks medical complications.

The exam allows a total of just 45 minutes in breaks, and the National Board of Medical Examiners has refused to give Currier the extra time she says she needs.

"If we are variable in the time that's allotted to trainees, we alter the performance of the examination," board spokesperson Dr Ruth Hoppe said.

I laughed as I read this because when my daughter was less then three weeks old, I had to take my Psychology licensing exam in Nashville, two and a half hours from Knoxville. I had to leave a three week old for a day-and-a half with breast milk in a bottle for relatives to give her while I took a breast pump with me to get rid of the excess milk while on the trip.

I asked the board if I could take the next scheduled test six months later but they said, "no," and I would not be able to practice with the temporary license they had issued me in the interim. I had to go. It was a mess. I leaked milk all over my shirt and down onto the floor during the exam, but I was determined to finish and figured if they wanted me there just after giving birth, dripping milk was the least of my (and their) problems. But I did it, got no special treatment and ended up doing very well, despite my discomfort. By the time I got out of the exam, I got to the car and pumped milk as I drove two and a half hours back to Knoxville. There is still a truck driver out there somewhere who got a real thrill (or fright) that day. But hey, that's the breaks.

I never once thought of suing the board, but then, I actually believe in personal responsibility, unlike the woman mentioned in the article above who wants to have children but also wants everyone else to accomodate her in the work world.

Rigging a Study to Make Conservatives Look Stupid...

Slate has more analysis of the liberal brain/conservative brain study (Hat tip: Right Wing News):

The conservative case against this study is easy to make. Sure, we're fonder of old ways than you are. That's in our definition. Some of our people are obtuse; so are some of yours. If you studied the rest of us in real life, you'd find that while we second-guess the status quo less than you do, we second-guess putative reforms more than you do, so in terms of complexity, ambiguity, and critical thinking, it's probably a wash. Also, our standard of "information" is a bit tougher than the blips and fads you fall for. Sometimes, these inclinations lead us astray. But over the long run, they've served us and society pretty well. It's just that you notice all the times we were wrong and ignore all the times we were right.

In fact, that's exactly what you've done in this study: You've manufactured a tiny world of letters, half-seconds, and button-pushing, so you can catch us in clear errors and keep out the part of life where our tendencies correct yours. And now you feel great about yourselves. Congratulations. You haven't told us much about our way of thinking. But you've told us a lot about yours.

The author makes some good points--read the whole thing.

Friday, September 14, 2007

"So the only reason why these kids are getting knocked up is due to laziness!"

So says the Angry Pharmacist, in response to a 14-year-old girl and her parents coming into his pharmacy for her prenatal vitamins. If you are easily offended, do not go to this blog--but his rants are something to behold.

"People are messing around with the data to find anything that seems significant, to show they have found something that is new and unusual"

There is an interesting article in the WSJ today on the sloppy analysis of most science findings (Hat tip: Sissy Willis):

We all make mistakes and, if you believe medical scholar John Ioannidis, scientists make more than their fair share. By his calculations, most published research findings are wrong....

These flawed findings, for the most part, stem not from fraud or formal misconduct, but from more mundane misbehavior: miscalculation, poor study design or self-serving data analysis. "There is an increasing concern that in modern research, false findings may be the majority or even the vast majority of published research claims," Dr. Ioannidis said. "A new claim about a research finding is more likely to be false than true."

The hotter the field of research the more likely its published findings should be viewed skeptically, he determined.

Statistically speaking, science suffers from an excess of significance. Overeager researchers often tinker too much with the statistical variables of their analysis to coax any meaningful insight from their data sets. "People are messing around with the data to find anything that seems significant, to show they have found something that is new and unusual," Dr. Ioannidis said.

In the U. S., research is a $55-billion-a-year enterprise that stakes its credibility on the reliability of evidence and the work of Dr. Ioannidis strikes a raw nerve. In fact, his 2005 essay "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" remains the most downloaded technical paper that the journal PLoS Medicine has ever published.

Scientists messing around with data or who have an agenda? Say it isn't so.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Podcast: Jack Goldsmith on The Terror Presidency

goldsmithcov.jpgToday we talk with Jack Goldsmith, the author of the new book The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration. Goldsmith was the former Assistant Attorney Gerneral, Office of Legal Counsel whose duty it was to "advise President Bush what he could and could not do...legally." During the interview, he discusses his new book, how the war on terror is being strangled by lawyers, the response to 9/11, the detainee and torture disputes, the Bush Administration's theory of executive power, and what the next President needs to know.

You can listen directly -- no downloading needed -- by going here and taking advantage of the gray Flash player. Or you can download the file and listen at your leisure by clicking right here.

This podcast is brought to you by Volvo USA.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"The fear of public speaking or performing is more than anything a fear of being eaten."

So says Mary Fensholt, a consultant and author of The Francis Effect: The Real Reason You Hate Public Speaking and How To Get Over It. Fensholt was interviewed for this MSNBC article on stage fright:

Building on the theories of sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson, Fensholt argues that historically, being intently scrutinized and singled out was a prelude to being eaten by a predator, so human ancestors evolved a strong fear response against setting themselves apart from the protection of the group.

It's a fascinating theory, but all we really know for sure is that stage fright represents the fight or flight response, says Shara Sand, clinical assistant professor of psychology at New York's Yeshiva University. Sand is also a trombonist who has had firsthand experience with stage fright.

"What primitively is going on is that there's a kind of exposure and vulnerability," she says. And even though there isn't any real danger, it can feel like there is.

So my stage fright is nothing more than a fear of being eaten, that's good to know. But heck, I might order the book just to find out how to get over thinking I am going to be some predator's dinner.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What I Learned in Men's Health

Warning--do not read this post should you be one of those types who suffers from Internet Induced Hypochondria.

I often read Men's Health magazine, it's not the best read in the world but one can generally get some no-nonsense information on diet, exercise and health. There was a very good article in the September 2007 issue on a heart condition that often afflicts fit men. There is probably a lot of recycling of these stories in various magazines, but I found this one informative.

The article, entitled, "The Fit Man's Heart Threat" takes a look at a condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. The author of the article is distraught that his friend, 43-year-old Bill died suddenly while running a marathon. He finds out his friend had cardiomyopathy and talks to the president of a foundation for this disease:

"Anything more than 1.5 centimeters is definitive," says Salberg. She explains that HCM is characterized by the thickening of heart muscle. As the muscle wall separating the right and left ventricles bulges, it obstructs the flow of oxygenated blood leaving the heart through the aorta, making it more difficult for the heart to function, particularly during exercise. It's caused by a genetic flaw that can be passed down from either parent. So far, researchers have pinpointed 14 genes associated with the condition. Those who carry any one of these genes generally develop HCM during adolescence or early adulthood.

Then she drops a whopper: One in 500 people has HCM. It's more prevalent in the United States than is HIV and Parkinson's.

And then another whopper: You know you have HCM if you die unexpectedly. That's often the first symptom. About 15 people in this country drop dead from the condition each day. It's the most common heart-related killer of men younger than 30.

One of the scary things about this disease is that exercise can bring it on:

.... In April, the American Heart Association released a scientific statement noting that although regular physical exercise is now widely advocated by the medical community, studies show it can increase your risk of early death. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that joggers in Rhode Island were 7.6 times more likely to die early than people who didn't run. In another study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers reported that the incidence of cardiac arrest during exercise was 25 times higher than during light activity or while resting. The AHA statement concluded that exercise "acutely" increases the risk of sudden death in "susceptible persons." For these people, "the health risks of vigorous physical activity almost certainly exceed the benefits."

Are you a susceptible person? I was, although my heart condition was a bit different. The only way to find out if you are at risk is to ask your doctor if you need tests such as an ECG or EKG and if abnormalities are found, to follow up with an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart) or whatever tests the doc recommends.

If you have gotten this far in the post, don't get paranoid but do take care of your heart health; it's important.


Monday, September 10, 2007

A Different Kind of Brain or the Same Old Biased Research?

A number of bloggers are discussing this new "study" that finds that the liberal and conservative brain is different:

The differences between liberals and conservatives may run deeper than how they feel about welfare reform or the progress of the Iraq war: Researchers reported Sunday that their brains may actually work differently.

In a study likely to raise the hackles of some conservatives, psychologist David Amodio and others found that a specific region of the brain's cortex is more sensitive in people who consider themselves liberals than in self-declared conservatives.

The brain region in question helps people shift gears when their usual response would be inappropriate, supporting the notion that liberals are more flexible in their thinking.

In yet another of their "objective" studies, New York University professors draw conclusions that make liberals look good and conservatives look bad, although the authors attempt to make themselves look objective about the new study when one of them, John Jost, whom I have blogged about before, states the following:

"It's wrong to conclude that our results provide only bad news for conservatives," he wrote on Aug. 28, 2003. "True, we find some support for the traditional 'rigidity-of-the-right' hypothesis, but it is also true that liberals could be characterized on the basis of our overall profile as relatively disorganized, indecisive and perhaps overly drawn to ambiguity."

I might be more persuaded by Jost's defense of his research as objective if he wasn't forking money over to Hillary Clinton--isn't that a conflict of interest? If not, it should be.

I wonder if this study could be duplicated in a double-blind study using researchers who weren't liberals as well as subjects who weren't college students? Somehow, I doubt it.

Blog Anniversary

I just realized that this week, this blog will celebrate two years in existence. My husband set this blog up in November of 2001 so I would quit yelling my opinions out to him and instead could shout them to the world, but at the time, I was too stupid to listen. I worked some with my website that I started in 1999 and then set up after making my documentary but thought blogging would be too much trouble. But two years ago in September of 2005, I decided to start blogging so that I would quit yelling at the television, newspaper and anyone else who would listen. Has it helped me to get my ideas out in the world, even in some small way? Absolutely, and I thank each and every one of you who has come by to listen, comment or just lurk. Thanks!

Tam at View from the Porch also had a blog anniversary recently--find out what she has learned about blogging.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Shopping Phobia

Yesterday, I went to return a coat I bought; now normally one would think this would be no big deal, right? You buy a coat and when you get home and try it on, you realize you don't like it. But for me, I dread the experience of returning it to the store; in fact, I dread the experience of shopping for clothes or anything where I have to deal with salespeople. Ever since I can remember, the only clothing stores I have ever frequented (if I shopped at all) have been those where there were few salespeople and I could try on clothes anonymously in a dressing room without someone coming in every five minutes to ask if I am "doing okay" or need another size. Whenever I am around salespeople, I tend to pick up the first thing I find, say it's fine and leave with something that doesn't fit or just plain looks stupid on me. Needless to say, I have a closet full of junk.

I have recently started trying to dress better; if you are a reader of this blog, you will know that this is the type of outfit I have been wearing for many years now. Beware when you click through, the clothes are not much to look at. I think that if you want clothes to fit, you have to deal with salespeople and if you want to look decent, you have to spend considerable time doing so. I have learned that many of them are wonderful and helpful and really do want you to look good and find things that you like. In fact, sometimes they make the experience more pleasant by knowing you, your tastes and what looks good so that you can save yourself the time of going from store to store.

I have tried to examine what it is that fills me with such fear about salespeople but maybe the right word is not fear--as it is discomfort with dealing one-on-one with someone with whom I have to make small talk. I suck at small talk and have never been good at it. Maybe that's because I am an INTP. I wonder sometimes, how many of us who do most of our shopping at online stores like are just closet shopping phobics or are INTPs in hiding?


Female Porn

Dr. Sanity's Carnival of the Insanities is up this Sunday morning. In particular, take a look at the female porn that Dr. Sanity linked to--I don't find it sexy at all.