Sunday, January 27, 2008

A positive story

Houston Chronicle Business writer Loren Steffy has written an article that praises a local bank for having sound fiscal policies. After my post regarding critics and criticism, I'm happy to see a positive leaning story.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ice Capades

In preparation for next week's annual Daddy/Daughter dance, my wife had declared that my 5 year old daughter needed a new dress. So we went to the Galleria to get a new dress. So of course, we ended up going ice skating. Now, ice skating is not hard if you're just skating yourself. But when you're lugging around a 43 pound weight that can get a concussion if you slip, it adds a layer of difficulty.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Health Care issues

I was just thinking (living) this. On a related note, Medicare wants to cut payments to physicians by 10%, and almost all insurers base their pay scale on Medicare. One congressman said this would not be a problem because doctors will keep taking Medicare because it is covers so many patients. We'll stop covering patients when we go out of business. I gotta figure a way to see more people in less time while providing more comprehensive care.

A post about approval for a drug for prostate cancer. It brings up a variety of important issues. Makes you shudder, too.

OK, I've found a new favorite blog. This post echoes my thoughts about the annual check up or physical. Of course, this writer is a heck of a lot better than me.

Did you know that autism affects 1 out of every 150 children? Me neither.

And finally, click on this link to help donate a free mammogam to someone, or something like that.

What to do about racism.

OK, as an African American I'm supposed to get all up in arms about Kelly Tilghman's comments about lynching Tiger Woods. And the Jena 6. And Don Imus. But I'm not. If I really believe racism exists, why am I always so shocked and appalled when someone makes a racist statement? And is complaining about racism going to do?

My suggestion to other African Americans (and Hispanics, Indians, Chinese, Native Americans, etc) is to hug a white person. Invite one for dinner. Walk their dog. Let them see you as a regular person. The righteous indignation card only goes so far. At some point, you have to use other tools in your belt to accomplish a project. And if a white person knows you as a person, he or she will listen to you when you are offended with a more open mind.

I do think racism (and sexism and religious intolerance and homophobia) exists. I just don't think that the current tactics of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are helping anyone.

Cartoon Wisdom

The movie Ratatouille has been on heavy rotation here at the house. Anything that makes my nearly 3 year old son sit still is like God himself has bestowed an 84 minute blessing on my family. Plus, I like the movie, too. I like the fact that the movie is not just regular kids fare, but it also has good character development, a plot, and a message ("anyone can cook").

One line from the movie resonates with me (please note the poor segue way- I'm not a good writer yet). During food critic Anton Ego's review of the rat infested, 5 star Gusteau's Restaurant, he commented on his job and responsibilities as a critic. I'm misquoting here, but here's the gist of the line:

The average piece of junk is worth more than the criticism designating it so.

I blog. I spend a chunk of time criticizing columnists or policy makers. I don't make much of anything original, but I criticize those who do. I listen to sports talk where dorks like me complain about quarterbacks and wide receivers who don't like getting pulverized by 250 pound heat seeking missiles called line backers, when they were too chicken to play Pop Warner football. As a medical students, we got used to presenting work, only to have a more experienced clinician systematically break down the holes and flaws- as if we were fully tenured professors. It's much harder to create something than to judge it. That's why there's millions of bloggers, columnists and commenters. But few original thinkers

Championship weekend picks

San Diego (-14.5) at New England- If the game were at San Diego, and the Chargers were at full strength, the Chargers could win. If New England had spent the season running their running backs into the ground, the Patriots could lose. But none of that has/will occur. So New England wins. I have no clue if they'll cover- I'll say yes. New England by 15 or more. I'm bad at this anyway. Thank goodness no one is reading this.

New York (-7) at Green Bay- Why do people live in Green Bay? It's so cold so much of the time. I went to Winnipeg, a city in the prairies of Canada in October, and it was in the 40's most of the time. The city is below freezing from December thru February. And people say things like, "It's fine- I can leave the car at home and skate to work." That's crazy talk. And you never want to fight crazy people, you don't know what they'll do. Green Bay (only crazy people live there) will win by more than 7 points.

Please remember- the difference in talent level on NFL teams (and in playoff teams who make it this far) is so small, that one of these games will be close. Evaluated individually, I can't figure which one. But one of them will be.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Links - January 13, 2008

Here's a few links to make you think:

Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite writers and thinkers. Born and raised in Canada, he has a different perspective on American life and thought. He is a curious person, who manages to write with authorative certainty about ambiguous subjects. Here he tackles the logic behind the college admission process, and our concept of fairness:

Who ever thought that morality could be hard-wired in our brains? Or could have a scientific basis? Why, Steven Pinkler, of course:

Remember in 2004 when Bill Cosby got in trouble for saying Black people make poor economic choices; while Barack Obama became a viable candidate for president for saying the same thing at the Democratic Convention? Let's forget the fact that context dictated the responses, let's instead look at how an economist (Ray Fisman) looks at the consumption patterns:

A great list of unhealthy foods with juicy, unhealthy commentary. Hat tip to Houston Clear Thinker's Blog- Mr. Tom Kirkedall:

I'm an occasionally frustrated doctor who doesn't mind patients who research their own symptoms and diseases. Thye have a lot more incentive to find the right diagnosis and treatment than I do, while I have more expertise. But the old profession ain't as professional. From Mr. Kirkendall once again, this NY Times piece:

Heck, here's his blog:

And finally, from Kevin, MD (a health blog)- a post about how I can make more money, work less, and provide better patient care. So how much of a moron am I for not doing it? Or am I a decent human being for seeing a higher volume of people- meaning moe of the community gets care? Reference the second link to find out.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Playoff picks

I may be the worst football prognosticator ever- and I am definitely one of the worst when you consider I have been a fan all of my life. But somehow, last week I got all 4 games right. This week, I'll try picking against the spread:

Seattle (+8) at Green Bay- This reminds me of last year's Seattle at Chicago game. I justdon't think Seattle has the horses to win this one, or cover the spread.

Jacksonville (+13.5) at New England- Everyone is questioning the Patriots, and they do not like that. And they have been saving their running game for the playoffs. Jacksonville is good, but their coaching staff got lucky with clock management last week. They burned their last time out on a challenge they were sure to lose. New England covers.

San Diego (+9) at Indianapolis- I don't like the Colts, so no commentary. Colts will beat the spread.

New York Giants (+7.5) at Dallas- Why don't they make all spreads some derivative of 0.5? Then there would be no ties. Dallas barely beat the Giants twice this year. Even without a healthy TO, Dallas wins, but doesn't cover. Why aren't the sports pundits talking about a gimpy Plaxico Burress- he was in better shape when the Cowboys and Giants played both games, too.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lives worth living

Stories of 2 men who were on top of the world, Sir Edmund Hillary- the first (known) man to scale Mt. Everest, and Clayton Holmes- member of 3 Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys teams.

If you knew who Tenzing Norgay was before reading these, I'm impressed.

Seriously, this just makes for an interesting contrast.

Clemens and Enron

Here in the greater Houston area, the airwaves are abuzz with the latest updates on the he said/he said Roger Clemens saga. Many columnists feel that the trainer (McNamee) is telling the truth, because if he is caught lying he will be subject to perjury charges. This blog post from the Houston Chronicle's Enron trial blog addresses truth telling and plea bargains. Food for thought:
By the way, did you see where George Mitchell is withholding documents from the AP?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Another reason we adopted

Some people shouldn't have kids. They'd have been safer with Britney Spears

Wild Card picks

Remember, I am not good at this. And I don't know the point preads. So if you use this advice- you are dumber than me.

New York over Tampa Bay- TB lost to the Texans when they cared, and they haven't played a meaningful game in 3 weeks. The Giants nearly beat the Patriots and twice nearly beat the Cowboys.

Seattle over Washington- Eventually, the 'Skins are going to have an emotional crash.I hope it's next week, but it's too hard to keep playing on emotion for 6 weeks. Especially with Todd Collins at QB.

Jacksonville over Pittsburgh- Too many injuries for the Steelers. But I'm rooting for them.

San Diego over Tennessee- Too many injuries for the Titans. But I'm rooting for them.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Why I like College Football

Right now there are a lot of people upset that several NFL teams rested their starters during the last week of the season. The Houston Texans had their first season winning as many games as they lost when the Jacksonville Jaguars decided not to play their starters. The Colts, Cowboys, and Buccaneers lost winnable games in order to better prepare for the playoffs.

Meanwhile, with the BCS and lack of playoffs, college football did not have that problem. November games in college are for a bowl birth- so a 7 win Indiana team is playing Purdue as if their life depends on it to honor their late coach with a bowl birth. Instead of resting for a sure fire playoff game, top college teams played all of their starters in dramatic fashion. So West Virginia may have lost to Pitt, but they did it at full strength.

Meaningful regular season games mean that the regular season is the playoffs in college.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Benazir Bhutto

A few thoughts on the passing of Benazir Bhutto:

1. The official Pakastani government report says she was killed by a skull fracture and a concussion from the suicide bomber blast. That may be different from the eyewitness reports, but hey, it's the official government report.

2. Do you know why everyone here in the States is so sad about this? She represented hope. Lately, President Musharraf's regime has been presented as the corrupting influence, and anyone running against him would be good for a stabilizing democracy. So, with the enemy of my enemy being my friend, Ms. Bhutto was set up to be a friend of the US. Which is what Mr. Musharraf's regime was in the aftermath of 9/11.....

3. I keep hearing people ask if America is ready for a female president. Pakistan had one in 1988. When I was in second grade, Jimmy Carter met with female heads of state in England and Iceland. Argentina just elected a female head of state. I'm OK with people asking if Hillary Clinton is the best choice for President, but if a fundamentalist Muslim state can have a female head of state, why can't an "open-minded" society like ours have one?

4. Just read this and think about unintended consequences of actions:

5. Why does the US keep trying to influence elections in other countries when we don't fully understand those other countries?