Friday, November 28, 2008

Some People Just Don't Get It

I ran across THIS article on Black Friday shopping today. As I was reading the typical sob stories, something about it jumped out at me. Here it is:

"I have never slept here before to save a few bucks, but with the economy so bad I thought that even a few dollars helps," said Analita Garcia of Falls Church, Va., who arrived at a local Best Buy store at 7 a.m. Thursday with 10 family members.

She bought a Dynax LCD 32-inch TV for $400, slashed from $500, along with an iPod and several DVDs.

"This year a lot of people I know won't be getting Christmas presents. I have to pay the rent and bills, and I have two little ones at home to think of," Garcia added

iPods? several DVDs? A 32-inch LCD TV? What the heck does your shopping list have on it during UP years?

Hey Analita, here's a newsflash... are you ready? Here it comes...


If you have rent to pay and kids to take care of, don't buy frivolous junk. No one ever died from a lack of DVDs. You can save a heck of a lot of money if you stay home and play with your kids. Whatever TV you have right now is fine. Heck, even if you don't have a TV, you aren't really missing anything.

How about saving some of your money and just living with what you've already got? Nawwww... that's no fun.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Christmas Shopping for Kobi

Lately Elizabeth and I have been buying all sorts of new clothes for her dachshund. Yeah, it's silly, but she's soooo cute in little jackets and sweaters.

Of course, when shopping for Christmas presents, nothing beats a $380,000 custom built hi-tech dog house.

I'm going to run out to Home Depot this afternoon and get started buying the materials. With any luck, I'll have it done by Christmas... of 2025.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Airport Recombobulation Area

No really...

Anyone who's been to an airport knows that security people are not known for their charming sense of humor. But the Milwaukee Airport made a funny with their new "Recombobulation Area" after the TSA security checkpoint.

So after the TSA gets finished discombobulation you, you can spend a few moments recombobulating yourself.

The really important aspect of the story has been left out. If you can be recombobulated and discombobulated, can you be just plain combobulated? How about overcombobulated? Or unconbobulated? These are important questions that need answers.

Amazon Kindle 2.0 vs. Sony Reader PRS-700BC

CNET has some interesting information on the (hopefully) upcoming update to the popular Amazon Kindle.

I'd like to see the price come down for the hardware. If they moved to a cell phone pricing model - sell the hardware at cost and make money on the content - they could get a LOT more people interested. $350 is a lot to put down on a device like this.

This is especially true when the $400 Sony Reader PRS-700BC looks WAY cooler. Sock Puppet Bailout


Genetically Modified Food = The Next Holocaust

HERE IS a bit of idiocy for your reading pleasure this morning.

The woman featured in this article is a chef from Australia. She's banded together with Greenpeace (her first mistake) to rail against the evils of GM food. Along the way, she compares people who design GM food to Hitler - the man who caused the genocide of millions. Sure thing lady... that seems reasoned.

This anti-GM craziness has now officially gone over-the-top. There's even a term for this type of logical fallicy. Reducto ad Hitlerum.

On a related note, my girlfriend works for a biotech company that is involved in agriculture. They have a new technology which uses the genetic machinery of the cells to modify the DNA. No external DNA is used.

The problem is that women like our friend Margaret Fulton likely have NO understanding of the significant differences between this and traditional GM. Cibus is going to face a lot of the same anti-GM hysteria and discrimination that traditional GM companies face. Even if it's explained to them in small, easy to understand words, there are many people who will still say, "But but but... you're messing with the genes! You can't play GOD!!!"

Monday, November 24, 2008

File This Study Under "No Kidding, Really?"

Does THIS seem familiar E?

I love the advice the researcher gives as a solution:

"He adds that people who know they have a strong negative reaction to uncertainty should attempt to avoid it whenever possible."

Well, that's helpful, thanks.

It's right up there with the classic;

"Doctor, my arm hurts when I raise it above my head like this."

"Don't raise your arm above your head like that," says the doctor.

The Fine Art of Talking Without Actually Saying Anything

Obama is the undisputed master at making completely meaningless statements and promises. And that's saying a lot, considering all politicians do this to a significant degree.

HERE is an article on Obama's economic "plan". It's heavy on promises, and completely devoid of details.

The best example of what I'm talking about can be seen in this quote:

“They (the investments - ed.) represent an early down payment on the type of reform my Administration will bring to Washington - a government that spends wisely, focuses on what works, and puts the public interest ahead of the same special interests that have come to dominate our politics.”

I love the phrase, "a government that spends wisely".

Hey Barack... do you believe in the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and the Lock Ness Monster as well? Because there's more evidence of those things than there is a "government that spends wisely". When in the history of mankind, has there EVER been a government that spends wisely? Ever? Anywhere?

"Focuses on what works" is another great phrase. There are soooooo many examples of government spending that doesn't work, I could fill Google's Blogger servers with examples if I had enough time and energy.

"Public interest ahead of special interest" is just meaningless twaddle.

Obama won the election by being all things to all people. He never took a definitive stand or position on anything meaningful. People could then project their hopes and desires in to the gaps of his empty rhetoric. He is a brilliant speaker, charming, charismatic, and totally without substance.

In short, he's a brilliant politician.

Having said all that, I hope he succeeds. I don't want to see the country go to hell on anyone's watch. Being able to say, "I told you so" to Obamamaniacs in four years is NOT worth it if it means the economy crumbles and we fall in to a depression.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Which Book Should I Read Next?

One of the great dilemmas in life is choosing the next book you want to read. It's up there with "who should I marry?" and "what will I do for a career?".

A wrong decision can lead to innumerable hours wading through such snooze-worthy tomes as "Ulysses", by James Joyce. Or anything by a 19th Century Russian novelist. snooooore.

THIS is an interesting idea for a site. They ask you what style or mood you are looking for in a book, and then present you with a list of titles that may fit that mood.

Are you looking for something that is "disturbing", "violent" and has "sex"... or something more along the lines of "happy", "optimistic" and "short".

Here are the top three results for each of those searches, respectively. (that's a tribute to my Korean friends)

"Disturbing, Violent and Sex"

"American Psycho" by Bret Easton Ellis

"Notice" by Heather Lewis

"Seven Tales of Sex and Death" by Patricia Duncker

I have a copy of "American Psycho" on my bookshelf. It is easily the most disturbing book I've ever tried to read. Yikes!

"Happy, Optimistic and Short"

"The Funny Side: 101 Humorous Poems" by Wendy Cope

"Rock Crystal" by Adalbert Stifter

"Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes" by Billy Collins

Um... ok... that didn't work as well. Yo Billy... what the heck kind of title is that for a book? Fantasize much?

UCSF Medical School Digital Curriculum

THIS is a really interesting site put up by UCSF. It's a series of resources targeted toward medical students. Many of the links only work if you are local to UCSF, but a lot of them are usable by the general public. There is a heavy slant toward first and second year basic science material. Nevertheless, it's an interesting site. I wish more medical schools would go this route - I suspect it will become more and more common in the coming years.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


It's all fun and games until the tail gets sucked in to the Roomba...

And then it's hilarious.


Running Low on Primary Care Doctors

THIS is an interesting article on primary care medicine. According to the laws of supply and demand, at some point salaries should go up if there aren't enough of us. Right? Maybe? Please? One can only hope.

I'm a big proponent of electronic medical records, but to think that will solve the issue of increased documentation demands is just idiotic. Yes, I just called Obama's idea idiotic.

How Obama Got Elected

I've been trying not to let this blog get too political over the last few weeks. However, THIS is too good to pass up. It's a poll (with YouTube video) on Obama supporters. It demonstrates how little many of his supporters knew about the candidates. It's really about media bias and how reporting can effect the image of a candidate.

I'm sure there are plenty of nit-picky things that could be found in the interview and poll... certainly it's not unbiased. The video is in the style of Jay Leno's "Jay Walking", where he goes out an interviews the "man-on-the-street", asks really easy questions, and laughs at them when they get the questions wrong. There's no way to know if the interviewer selected the worst of the worst.

The poll is more scientific and more representative of the issue. It's interesting to see how fascinatingly uninformed some voters are on key issues.

There's further analysis of the poll questions and methods HERE.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Cloudy Urine

One year ago this week I wrote the infamous CLOUDY URINE article while sitting in the Border's coffee shop in Carmel Mountain. It took me about 30 minutes, give or take a few. My life hasn't been the same since.

I'm happy to report that it's popularity has exceeded my wildest expectations. Of course, those expectations weren't particularly wild, so take that with a grain of urea.

To date, the article has been quite the money maker. The posting on Helium has earned $90.34 as of tonight.

I also published the article to Associated Content, where it has 102,681 page views since November 21, 2007. That's worth about $160 in performance bonuses.

So I've earned around $250 in a year on that one article. Now... if I can just find a way to make every article I write that popular...

It's still a bit mind-boggling to think how many people in a given day sit down at their computer and type "cloudy urine" in to the Google search engine. It's bizarre and a bit creepy, but hey, I'm not complaining.

Why Continue To Make Your Mortgage Payments?

When even the San Francisco Gate, a very left leaning paper, is starting to question these ideas, you know it's not going to end well for anyone.

Elizabeth and I were talking about this topic on the drive to LA today. Other than the potential hit to her credit rating, is there a good reason why she shouldn't stop making her mortgage payments? OK, aside from the moral issue, which is quite significant for most people, Elizabeth included.

I think these programs are a bad idea for many reasons, and I would prefer they don't exist at all. But, if they are going to have them, there should be one additional qualification for these idiotic bailouts.

It's simple: you should have to provide a detailed audit of your expenses and income for the previous 18 months. If you have spent over a certain amount on luxuries such as plasma screen TVs, Las Vegas vacations, new cars, and or fancy new wardrobes, YOU DON'T QUALIFY. Period. No appeals.


Elizabeth read this post and added a comment. I figured I'd paste it to the front of the entry, to make it easier to find.

Darn, I don't qualify after all :-( Shame on me for making too high of a down payment - to qualify for help from the government, you must owe at least 90 percent of the home's value.

So let me get this right - If I had saved my $25,000 down payment and instead used it to buy my boyfriend an enormous high definition TV (maybe even two), tailored suits, a $4,000 road bike, and first class flights to his residency interviews - then I would have qualified for help? ...but because I naively believed that one must pay for their own things, I "wasted" $25,000 on a down payment and am now stuck with my mortgage. Lucky I spent hours budgeting for things. Oh - never mind, in this day and age, who cares about budgets! Budgeting is passe. To be financially savvy, the answer is spend, spend, spend ...and then plead to be bailed out. ...and then because you're bailed out, spend, spend, spend again, because you were bailed out last time - why wouldn't the government help you again?

Yes...I'm bitter.

Actually, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but with the value of condos falling (due to problems caused by these "solutions"), you likely DO owe at least 90% of the value.

Scientific Integrity? Who Needs It...

It's almost like they are trying to fit the data to their conclusion...

This type of thing only gives ammunition to the skeptics. It makes the global warming movement look highly politicized and not based on objective data.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Newsflash - Rainbows Are Not Natural

This is an absolutely hilarious video.

I'm not sure if it's real or a hoax, but it's funny either way.

Clearly we must take action NOW to stop these horrible, horrible rainbow effects. It's for the children. Personally, I suspect the government is adding DHMO to the water supply. That stuff is really toxic.

Getty Images Moodstream

THIS is a really interesting website that's presented by Getty Images. You input a series of parameters and it plays a slideshow and soundtrack based on those "moods". Getty Images is a service that provides images and footage of any number of different things. Much of it is available only for purchase, but there are a ton of royalty free images as well.

Play with Moodstream for a while... it's fun.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Media Coverage and the Perception of Disease

THIS is a great article on a topic I've suspected is true for some time.

The media loves latching on to the latest health trend/threat. Be it Bird Flu, Mad Cow, or a salmonella outbreak, when the media gets a hold of it, they make it as bad and dramatic as possible. Dramatic and scary sells. Boring and low-risk doesn't sell. No surprise there.

For example, Hepatitis B is more common than HIV. Most people probably wouldn't guess that, as Hepatitis is almost completely absent from the mainstream consciousness.

The Bird Flu "threat" is a great example of media bias and perception. A couple of years ago, during the height of the Bird Flu scare, I bet half the country thought we were at risk of being invaded by Hitchcockian Hordes of sneezing parakeets.  Alas, no such event ever manifested itself.

This is certainly something to keep in mind the next time you see an article on a health scare in the mainstream media.

Dude, Where's My Bailout? - Part II

I think my head is going to explode. SERIOUSLY.


At some point, there is going to be another Boston Tea Party. Torches and pitchforks for everyone. It's absolutely stunning how badly managed government is right now. At every level, it's one idiot after another.

I have an idea for a solution. Listen carefully you scum-sucking government leaches... here it is...

Don't spend more than you take in.

I know, I know... it's too simple, and therefore has no chance of ever happening.

Moonset in La Jolla

Kobi woke up this morning to the sound of the chirping seagulls. It was 6am, and there was nothing I could do to get her back to sleep. She was bouncing around on the bed, staring at the windows, looking for the birds.

So I got up and took her outside.

Much to my surprise, I saw the most beautiful full moon as it was setting over the ocean. I ran back in and got my little camera. The shots were really hard to take, I couldn't get it to focus on the moon at all. The details on the moon are not in the picture as they were in real life. Still, it was quite dramatic. The camera does a decent job of capturing the moment.

Credit to Kobi for me getting this shot. If she was her usual lazy self, I would have missed it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Am I a Crazy or Sane Medical Student?

THIS is one of the more burning self-reflective questions I've had to ask myself over the last few years.

If you're going to break down your choice of specialties to a simple flowchart, this one should do as well as any.

In reality, such a flowchart would be a bit more tangled and have multiple variables at each decision. Things like "Willing to be sued on a monthly basis/Hates lawyers" or "Hates the sight of blood/Loves to get messy" would be included. However, the simplicity of this chart is what makes it work so well.

One question, what if you hate kids AND are afraid of the dark?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

iPosture = Dumb Idea of the Year

THIS has (zzzzt ouch!) got to be the dumbest (zzzt ouch!) idea I've ever seen. (zzzt ouch!) I mean really, who the heck attaches an electroshock device (zzzt OUCH!) to their body that will zap them when they slouch (zzzt OUCH!!)?


Although I suppose the fun and/or pain involved really depends entirely on where you place the electrode. (zzzt ooooohhhh my...)

8GB Sansa Clip > iPod Shuffle

I've long been a critic of Apple's seemingly ubiquitous iPods. They are flashy, trendy, and uber-hip, but they are also over-priced, under-featured, and never the best deal on the market.

Don't believe me? See THIS as an example. Sansa is making an 8GB flash player that kicks the iPod Shuffle's butt. The Sansa has an FM tuner, a screen (!!!), more memory, doesn't stick you with iTunes, and only costs a bit more. It's a no-brainer decision, unless you're a Kool-Aid drinking Apple fan-boi.

I've had a Sansa e280 for a couple years now and I love it. The e280 is meant to go up against the iPod nano (older models), and it beats those in every category. It has more features, a better price, and freedom from the proprietary Apple Universe. My detailed review of the e280 is HERE.

Here's another article I wrote on Reasons Not To Buy An iPod.

Dating Bacteria

Scientists have now begun to identify some of the early bacterial interaction which ultimately led to the development of plants and other multi-cellular organisms.

It's essentially bacterial mating of a sort.

I can see the conversation between the two bacteria:

"Hey baby, nice pseudopods."

"Thanks (blush). I've been going to the gym a lot. I love your Golgi Apparatus. It's soooo sexy."

"So wadda say we head over to the bright side of the pond and mingle in the ooze for a while."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't tell you. I'm seeing someone else. His name is Frank, and he's got these massive mitochondria. They give him so much stamina and energy."

"Oh man, that sucks. Well, hit me up sometime if that you get tired of hangin' with the jocks."

And so it goes...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Swimming With Crocodiles - Australians Are Officially Insane

There's something really wrong with you if there is only 4 cm of acrylic between a 20 foot long croc and your body.

Really wrong.

The article is about a new death wish tourist attraction in Australia. It's like one of those shark cages that divers put in the ocean to play with Great White Sharks. Of course, shark cages are made of STEEL, not thin acrylic.

You have to wonder about what's going on the heads of someone who would do this... is there not enough excitement in your life? Too many boring nights in front of the TV watching reruns of CSI:Miami? Bad day at the office?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

30 Books Everyone Should Read

THIS is a good list of "must read" books. There are a lot of safe picks here, such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "1984". There are also some good picks that often go overlooked on lists such as this. "The Lords of the Rings Trilogy" being an example.

It's almost impossible to narrow down a list of "must read" books to only 30 entries. There are literally hundreds that I would have to start with. My list might have a few more Sci-Fi picks. "The Foundation", "Dune", and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" are all great literature, despite being too often labeled as nerd books.

I'd also take "Walden" off that list. It's d u l l. Really, really dull. And the themes are not terribly compelling. And although "The Origin of Species" is a masterwork that has had more impact on mankind that anything else on that list, it's non-fiction, written in an 18th Century dialect, and is very hard to get through. I'm a big science nerd and used to spend time on the internet "debating" evolution, and I couldn't get through it all. Be warned.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fantastic Coffee Art

I'm a big fan of quality coffee. THIS site has some excellent images of art made from the foam on the top of a cup of coffee.

I wish they had some instructions on how they actually DID these things, but they are certainly very cool regardless. I imagine all you have to do is get some milk/foam and start spreading it around.

Some of the pictures are almost too beautiful to drink.


I Once Got Beat in a Marathon by a Running Banana

This Flickr page reminded me of a funny story.

I ran my first marathon in 1998. It was the LA Marathon, and it was hell. Actually, the first 18 miles were fine. After that, got ugly rather quickly.

True story:

I was cruising along on the route at about mile 16 or so. Everything was feeling fine. No major pains. I was keeping the pace I'd trained for... or at least within a reasonable margin.

Then it happened. The ultimate marathon demoralizer.

I was somewhere along Hollywood Blvd. Suddenly I was passed by a guy (girl?) wearing a giant foam banana suit. Actually, I wasn't just passed - I was totally blown away. The banana was running (do bananas really run, or was I just hallucinating?) at least 2-3 minutes per mile faster than me. For you non-runners, that's FAST.

He/She/It turned a corner and I never saw it again. I can only dream that it was later hunted down by the two dudes in gorilla suits (who I beat), peeled open slowly, and eaten alive.

(photo to the right is NOT my nemesis, it's taken from the flickr site)

I'm Paris Hilton's New BFF

OMG!! I'm sooooooooo x-cited. She's like so cool and hot and I'm so happy I get the chance to learn all about her and be part of her life.

Check out THIS site to see how she came to pick me!!


Thursday, November 6, 2008

According to Italian PM, Obama Is Not Really Black

He's just "Handsome and even tanned".

Well, now that we've got that straight...

How To Get Your Ass Kicked On An Airplane

Try doing THIS.  Good luck, you're going to need it. (Having a good lawyer might be useful as well)

Here's A Democrat I Can Support

Bacon Defeats Fries in a landslide victory. Fries never had a chance. But really, are there any real differences in their platforms?

  • Both are fried in oil
  • Both are high in cholesterol
  • Both go great with a good hamburger
  • Sure, bacon is better with maple syrup, and I prefer my fries with ketchup. But really, is that such a big difference?
In reality, I would likely have gone Third Party and voted for Onion Rings, but I can accept this outcome. Let's just hope Bacon makes good policy decisions and doesn't give us a heart attack in two years.

Nothing Sets Up Failure More Than Unrealistic Expectations

The youth and black voters who see Obama as some sort of "savior" for their problems and the ills of the world may be in for something of a surprise.

But perhaps Obama’s greatest challenge will not be overseas or the
economy at home: it will be meeting the stratospheric expectations of
his base supporters — especially African Americans.

I suppose I got caught up in the emotion of the night due almost
exclusively to the genuine and copious tears of black Americans. The
ones I spoke to and interviewed were nearly speechless with joy. With a
start, I realized something that had escaped me all these long months
of writing and thinking about this race. For many African-Americans,
this election was a spiritual event, something that transcended the
corporeal and brought to mind ancestral yearnings and desires for

Sort of frightening if you really think about it. Obama is just a man, no more, no less. He's now the President, but really, does the President have much of anything to do with your day-to-day life? Really? Setting him up as some sort of Messiah is a sure recipe for disappointment.

The Onion - Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job

The Onion has a great "article" this morning on the Obama win. It's a satire site, but as with all good humor, it rings true to some extent.
African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable
job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the
United States of America.

See, you should have listened to Katie. Heh.

More from the Onion. It's a news report on obsessive Obama supporters realizing how empty and pathetic their lives are now that the election is over. Again, it's funny because there's likely some truth to it.

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

National Geographic - Best Wild Animal Photos of 2008

These are some amazing animal photos. My two favorite are here, but follow THIS link to see the rest. Warning, the monkey picture is a bit disturbing.

I Would Not Like To Be President Because...

Sometimes it takes a kid to explain the complex things in a simple way. Despite my somewhat snarky announcement that I was running for President, in reality you couldn't pay me enough to do that crappy job. This social studies essay by a "Katie" (if that's her real name) sums up the downsides to being the most powerful political figure in the world.

In bullet point form, here are her reasons:

  • Too much responsibility.
  • People will hate you. Yes, even if you make all the "right" decisions, half of the country (at least) is going to think you're an idiot. You can't win.
  • Don't want to move. Yeah, I'm with you on this Katie. The White House is big and impersonal. I'd rather live in Colorado.
  • You could be assassinated. Yup, there's as good a reason as any.
  • I want to have friends. Don't we all Katie... don't we all.
  • Don't want to go through the election process. Personally, I'd rather poke a hot metal branding iron in to my ear, than run in a Presidential Election.
As your teacher noted Katie, this essay is SUPER!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Trojan Football Player Makes Impossible Catch

OK, it's not a USC Trojan Football player (it's a high school team), but it's a heck of a play regardless.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Snuggies - The Latest Cult Fashion

We almost bought a pair of these Snuggies, but decided not to join the Jedi Academy.

Favorite quote in the comments, "Do they have bulk pricing for cults?"

I'm not sure if this is the best idea ever, or the worst... but it's certainly worth laughing at.

Scientists Find Molecular Machinery Involved In Memory

A few weeks back, Elizabeth and I had a discussion on memory and how it works from a molecular point of view. Yeah, we're nerds like that. Anyhow, we did a little research at the time trying to answer the question, but THIS looks like an interesting addition.

It looks like they are really starting to hone in on the mechanisms by which memory is implanted in to the brain. This is fascinating, not only from a "geeky intellectual curiosity" point of view, but also from a "doctor who may have to treat memory problems" angle.

Anti-Staph Wipes For Your Cell Phone

Sometimes I really think the current anti-bacterial crazy is getting a bit out of hand. OH MY GOD, they found staphylococcus aureus on phones! We're all going to DIE!

If people only had any idea how many bacteria are all around them all the time... honestly, there's no such thing as sterile out in the world. Even operating rooms have bacteria in them. Lots of bacteria.

Now, that's not to say that you should try and keep things clean. But some exposure to bacteria keeps your immune system primed and ready for a real attack. Without that constant low-level exposure, you'd be overwhelmed by a real infection.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dogs and Chocolate

THIS is a timely article on the dangers of feeding chocolate to dogs.

It's interesting that the author states, "While everyone knows chocolate is a no-no for dogs..."

This may be obvious to a vet who takes care of dogs for a living, but I have a feeling it's not quite the common knowledge he believes it to be. Although I've never owned a dog, I'm a big "animal guy" and have been around dogs most of my life. I had no idea this was a bad idea until Elizabeth told me not to feed Kobi chocolate snacks.

Recessions and Health Care

One of the nice "perks" about being a doctor is that the profession is relatively "recession-proof". People get sick and go to the doctor no matter what is happening to the GDP. That's not to say the entire industry can't feel the heat of an economic downturn though.