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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
 
Game Over
Just finished Ender's Game, which I picked up on the recommendation of the good doctor and the other good doctor. Well, I should have read the comments to those posts more closely because now I feel a little like Treppenwitz. There's, like, seven of these things that I have to read? I don't have time for this.

In fact, the only way I found time for this one was to get the audiobook from the library and listen to it on my not-so-long commute. It made me hate the Valentine character, because the actress who read the parts where she was the focus (the tape featured several actors instead of just one reader) is insufferable. Her line readings are all the same, breathy and whiny at the same time. I was hoping a baby bugger would burst out of her chest of something.

I'm surprised neither of you guys mentioned the smattering of Jewish mentions in the book. Namely, that Israelis and Jews in general were supposedly considered the best warriors, or maybe just commanders or something. This idea was mentioned but not depicted - in fact, the only identified Jewish character was something of a, well, putz. (By the way, did you know that Orson Scott Card has written at least three novels about the Matriarchs? You know, Sarah, Rebeccah, et al? No word on whether or not they can commune with giant insects.)

The tape ended with an afterword recorded by the author. Apparently he was an early user of some text-only network (I guess they were all text-only until a certain point) - possibly Delphi? So the blogging thing wasn't quite a prophecy. But I'll give you the first-person video games.

Okay, here's the spoiler warning: read no further if you don't want to know about the ending.

And... the ending. But which one? The first ending, where he wins the war... I think it was obvious that he was playing for all the marbles. But I admit I didn't stop to think that all of his post-Mazer-meeting games were the real thing. I thought everything moved a little too fast after that. The war on the secret asteroid or whatever that broke out immediately after the end of the bugger war could have been its own book, probably. Or at least from there to the end of the book.

The part where he finds the cocoon was pretty freaky. But I have to admit, up until that point, where the buggers' feelings were explicitly expressed, I didn't have much sympathy for his reservations. I guess that was the whole point, that he was Mr. Empathy, but until I heard otherwise they were just bugs, for the love o' mike. Okay, fine, it's tragic that they couldn't communicate with the humans. To me, it would have had more resonance if either a.) it wasn't buggers vs. humans but maybe buggers vs. some other evolved human-like animals or b.) there was a twilight-zone twist where what ender was told was the bugger world was really earth, or a competing human race from another galaxy, or whatever. I mean, all he could see on the screen were blips (kind of like those old mattel electronic football games, I imagine). But, of course, that would have been much more of a cliche.

Since current events are always, um, current in my mind, I couldn't help thinking about the war on terror. I mean, there are people who try to humanize the enemy, but it really is get them or they'll get you at this point. Fine, fine, not the entire Arab population but the terrorists themselves. So I didn't love that whole aspect of it.

And, hey, maybe in a later book he hatches the buggers and they freakin' eat his head. And say, "we're baaaaack!" and you can't feed them after midnight. But I doubt it.

Also, and I realize this was kind of the whole point as well, I didn't love that they were all kids. And really little kids, at that. Yes, I realize there are children in armies in the world today. But I don't think they are the commanders, or reading Euclid at age 5. Throw in a little good ol fashioned homoeroticism and you have a bit of a creepy vibe going there.

Oh, yeah, the whole religion thing at the end. Pretty tired.

And yet I was engrossed, and couldn't wait to get back in my car for more, didn't mind being stuck in traffic, and, yes, I've reserved the next book-on-tape in the series at the library. (Sadly the Valentine voice is still the same actress.) (Oh, and if it really is all about the religion then I might have to take a magnet to the tape before I return it.)

Finally, I'd just like to say, Dr. Bean is really my six-year-old sister.
 
All The President's Men
I needed something to read for a recent trip to China, so I purchased All The President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. It's a quick read - especially when you've got 15 hours to kill between LAX and Shanghai.

My thoughts on Nixon: He was smart and did great things. He was stupid and did corrupt things. Ultimately, the corrupt things did him in. I feel sorry for the guy, because I know he took a lot of tough breaks and suffered for them, particularly the loss of the presidency in 1960 and the California governorship in 1962. I think those experiences taught him a bad lesson - that the only way to win is to play dirty. And he did. He and his cohorts spied on people, engaged in petty political sabotage, and lied to the public a lot in a lame attempt to cover up their misdeeds. Perhaps those practices were common in American politics at the time. Certainly the Soviet Union engaged in much greater crimes. But, if we are to hold our government to high standards as we should, then we must conclude that Nixon deserved to lose his job.
 
Got the whole fist up there, Imam?
Probe Elicits Disbelief at Mosque

Hope you enjoyed the Fletch reference, this is actually a pretty serious story. Here's the subhead:

Members of Inglewood temple express shock at learning three members are under investigation in an alleged plot to attack Southland sites.
The sites include "National Guard recruitment centers and synagogues."

I trust that you are just shocked, shocked, as well.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
 
Gates of Fire
I hope that I've convinced at least one of two of you to occasionally read Little Green Footballs. Nothing compares to it for coverage of radical Islam and the war on it. Even if you only skim it weekly, you'll find stories you would not have seen elsewhere.

Here's a great example. This post on LGF introduced me to Michael Yon. Michael Yon is an independent author embedded with American soldiers. His most recent post, Gates of Fire is an incredible account of combat in Mosul. If you want to know what our forces are really facing there and what they're accomplishing, read it.
Friday, August 26, 2005
 
If we had only known
I saw the winner. Bean could’ve beaten him “hands-down.” Or should that be "paws-down?" It’s too bad, really. Notice that the winner receives complimentary laser hair removal. In Virginia! Times, they are a-changin'.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
 
Fortune Cookie, Part V
I've only posted on fortune cookies once before. I call this post "Part V" because I want to share with you the fifth fortune I received from the Chinese restaurant near my work. The first four were given in the original post.

Ready? Here goes: You will have many friends when you need them.

Isn't that nice? My good fortune continues. Here's a fortune for you: You will manage your time more efficently, forcing others to fill the void with things that happened at lunch.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
 
Worship
Doctor Bean honored me several years ago (five? six?) by taking me to his temple for Passover services. I remember being asked to do that thing where the guy stands up and holds the Torah. My attempt to politely decline was met with polite encouragement, and my subsequent attempt to turn invisible was not successful, so I played the "I'm not Jewish" card and that earned me a pass. However, I felt then and I feel now that, customs and rituals aside, religious Christians and religious Jews are more alike than they are different. Anyone that serves and glorifies the Lord is on the same team. There are real, fundamental differences, but I like to focus on what we have in common - the ten Commandments, trust in the Lord, service to the Lord, service to the world. Perhaps you think I am off the mark on this.

I've never been to a Muslim worship service before, although I did a report on Muslims in high school that took me to a mosque in Garden Grove for an interview with a Muslim cleric. I'm tempted to seek out and attend a Muslim service in a spirit of friendliness. Perhaps you think such friendliness would be misdirected. I certainly don't identify with anyone who serves and glorifies the Lord by supporting violence against Jews or the U.S. However, it is my hope (if not my conviction) that the vast majority of Muslims are not that way.

I wonder if the readers have ever attended a worship service outside their faith and what they thought of the experience.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
 
Exercising Body and Mind
Or, Self-Improvement Hurts

This morning I went on a four-hour crack-of-dawn bike ride with two friends all the way down to Manhattan Beach. My legs and various other nether-regions are very sore now. I gotta get a pair of those padded biking shorts with extra nether-region protection. And I gotta get some better legs.

Now, I’m struggling to stay awake during another American Board of Internal Medicine online recertification module. Shall we work through a question together?

Question 28


A previously healthy, 14-year-old girl is brought to your office because of a sore throat, malaise, chills, and fever.

Wait a minute! I only see adults. What’s a 14-year-old doing here? Anyway this is the American Board of Internal Medicine recertification, not the American Board of Pediatrics. How did she get into my office? My frikken secretary didn’t pay attention to her date of birth when she registered her. I can’t believe it! Not a day goes by without her messing something up. I’ve had it. She’s fired.

Let’s see, looking at the multiple choice answers for “Summarily fire secretary.” Nope. It’s not there. Better keep reading the question.

Symptoms began yesterday while she was at school. She takes no medications, and review of systems is negative.

The patient appears very uncomfortable.


Sure. She’s uncomfortable because she’s the only child in the whole office and she had to wait in the waiting room with a bunch of octogenarians.

Temperature is 39.0 C (102.2 F). The pharynx is diffusely erythematous, and a creamy white exudate is present. Very prominent, tender, 1- to 2-cm anterior and posterior cervical lymph nodes are noted.

She has Strep!

The spleen tip is palpable.

Ooooh. That’s not Strep. That’s mono.

The remainder of the physical examination is normal.

Laboratory studies:
Hematocrit 42%
Hemoglobin 14.0 g/dL
Leukocyte count 14,280/cu mm; 15% segmented neutrophils, 5% band forms, 80% lymphocytes (many atypical)
Platelet count 400,000/cu mm
Spot test for mononucleosis (Monospot) Positive


Yipee! I’m some sort of genius. It is mono.

You prescribe acetaminophen and recommend fluids and rest.

And I encourage her to return to the care of her pediatrician.

The next afternoon the patient's condition has worsened. She is acutely ill and breathing through her mouth with difficulty. Temperature is 40.5 C (104.9 F). Cervical lymph node enlargement has progressed in the past 24 hours. The pharynx and palate are very swollen and erythematous; the exudate is still present.

Holy crap! She really should see a doctor that knows about stuff that happens to 14-year-olds. Does she have mono and Strep?

Throat culture for Streptococcus is negative.

I guess not.

In addition to hospitalization, which of the following is most appropriate now?
(A) High-dose penicillin
(B) Vancomycin and gentamicin, intravenously
(C) Corticosteroid therapy, parenterally
(D) Acyclovir, parenterally
(E) Lymph node biopsy


I don’t have the foggiest idea, though I’ve never heard of A, B, or D being used in mono. Better hit the online articles. Here we go:

In severe mononucleosis the use of steroids shortens the duration of fever. Additional indications for steroid use include impending airway obstruction, hemolytic anemia, and thrombocytopenia.

C! Next.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
 
Surely these wild animals will rise up and kill us all
Jack's Shack discusses scientists' discusses to populate America with African lions and elephants.

He brings up a good argument against this idea:

"Lions eat people"

Couldn't agree more.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
 
A Conflict Between Brothers
A Jewish settler weeps on the shoulder of an Israeli policeman, as Israeli troops evacuate the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim, in the Gush Katif bloc of settlements, in the southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2005. Israeli troops dragged sobbing Jewish settlers out of homes, synagogues and even a nursery school Wednesday in a massive evacuation, fulfilling Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's promise to end Israel's 38-year occupation of the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
 
Movie Review -- The Dinner Game
Le Dîner de cons (1998, French with subtitles, English title: The Dinner Game)

The Dinner Game is a very very funny comedy. The premise is simple. Pierre is a successful narcissistic jerk. Every week he and his friends organize a dinner party in which each one has to invite the dumbest idiot they can find. They spend the evening eating and showing off their idiot, and having a lot of fun at their guests' expense.

Pierre is very excited because this week he's invited François, a well-meaning but bumbling fool who tells everyone who'll listen about the models he builds out of matchsticks. François is sure to make Pierre the winner of this week's dinner game. But then, on the day of the dinner, Pierre throws his back out, and his wife leaves him, and the rest is a plot as convoluted and well-written as the best Seinfeld episode.

Because the premise is so mean, I worried that it wouldn't be funny. You can't laugh at a character who is being cruelly made fun of. The genius of the writing is that the situation stops just short of meanness. The laughs are just as frequently on Pierre and his snooty friends as on François. Add to that good acting by the whole cast, and ball-and-chain and I were laughing through all of it.
Monday, August 15, 2005
 
Beating a dead horse
That's what I'm doing, anyway. David Bogner has a post today that is somewhat political but mainly a lament for an injured neighbor. I didn't want to comment there because it just didn't seem right to make a political point. But that's there, and this is here.

Bogner says, "Whether one is pro- or anti-disengagement, there is no denying that our 'partners for peace' would be blind not to see disengagement as a big pay-off for years of terrorism."

Here's where I ride in on my expired equus: How, then, can anybody be pro?

And, no, there won't be any massive retaliations. Are there ever?
Sunday, August 14, 2005
 
The Ninth of Av
Today is Tisha B'Av, which is Hebrew for the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av. Tisha B'Av is a day of fasting and mourning commemorating the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans about 550 years later. (Click on the title to learn more.) Recently, Tisha B'Av has become a time to remember all calamities that has befallen the Jews. It is traditional for congregations to gather, sit on the floor, and read the Book of Lamentations.



How the city sits solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! (1:1)

Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. (2:19)

Lift up your hands toward Him for the life of your young children. (2:19)

The youth and the old man lie on the ground in the streets; my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; You have slain them in the day of Your anger; You have slaughtered unsparingly. (2:21)


You have called, as in the day of a solemn assembly, my terrors on every side, and there was none in the day of the Lord's anger that escaped or remained; those that I have dandled and brought up has mine enemy consumed. (2:22)



May the Almighty bless and protect us in the upcoming weeks.
Friday, August 12, 2005
 
When There Is Inadequate Time for Foreplay
quickie
I passed this sign on a bike ride a few days ago and had to go around the block again to take a picture. What happened to speed bumps? When did the name change?
 
Joyous Equivalence
I don't know how long this will remain, but take a look at the Forward Newspaper Online - there's an animated ad near the top right. It's from an outfit called "Brit Tzedek v'Shalom" - "America's Largest Grassroots Jewish Peace Organization." And, true to the Orwellian term "Peace Organization," they seem to be pro-terror. For example, they have a letter writing campaign to thank Congress for refusing to hold the PA to their side of the bargain. Good work, guys!

Anyway, as you can see from the ad on the Forward site, their latest letter writing campaign (science has not yet determined whether they have any other type of campaign) urges folks to write the President, encouraging him to (somehow) ensure that the Gaza disengagement plan succeeds. Fair enough.

But take a look again at that animated ad. The first image is Jewish Israelis - let's assume they're settlers - holding M-16s and possibly screaming (it looks like they're on partrol and calling out for some reason). The next image is Palestinian "gunmen" shooting their rifles into the air (or at least pointing them skyward) and shouting.

The text over these images: "Don't Let the Gaza Disengagement Fail!" You have to love it - those two armed groups are the same. Don't let either of them muck it up!
Thursday, August 11, 2005
 
Bring it on
Cheerleader chant helps cops nab crash suspect
 
Jews 'n' guns
"If a criminal needs a firearm to commit a crime, he’ll try to find the most easily available and least expensive firearm. He’s not going to save up for a really cool gun," she said.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
 
David Gelertner on Dobson, stem-cells, the holocaust, and apologies.
Whew!
 
Silencing dissent
The Sharon administration continues its heroic campaign against teenage girls.

Were those who called Sharon a warmonger from the start correct after all? Seems they only misjudged his preferred targets.

More than the disengagement itself, Israel's current descent away from the heights of democracy saddens me. I pray it is only a temporary swoon.

UPDATE: The link to the JTA.org story broke twice, so I switched it to a Jeruslaem Post article. This one adds the detail that the girl was arrested after attending the funeral of the Jewish terrorist from a few days ago. Disgusting, but a crime? If she's suspected of plotting terror herself, why deport her? Why not charge her and try her? Just a suggestion.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
 
My Son's Band
My son is eight and in the third grade. He and his third grade buddies are putting together a band. This is one of their songs, composed by my son:

We're in this world
Where every day passes by
There is no stop
Not even if you try
You can see
Right here with me
Right here in the rules
You see on page 23
That there's no way
To change my life
There's no way to change
There's no way
There's no way to change
Yeah
My life is the right way

Okay, maybe it's no Freebird, but I think's it pretty good for a third grader.
Monday, August 08, 2005
 
How I Got to Blogging – Part 4.7
(I’m skipping some important stuff about my online life. I may get back and write about it, or not.)

About three weeks ago I enrolled in a program called Strategic Coach, a coaching program for entrepreneurs. My brother-in-law recommended it to me. My brother in law is one of the kindest most thoughtful people I know. I have called him with both business and personal problems for as long as I’ve known him and his advice has always been wise. Oh, and he also owns a Fortune 500 company. So I tend to pay attention to his recommendations.

The Strategic Coach is all about placing boundaries between work and life so that free time can be truly rejuvenating, and work time can be incredibly productive. It’s only been three weeks but I’ve already reorganized my life in ways that are making my wife and kids happy. I don’t want to sound like some kind of wide-eyed zealot that just found a new cult, but so far, I’m very pleased with the results.

Because my evenings have been freer, I’ve been able to take Stretch to and from his swim lessons.

Stretch after swimming
I’ve also realized that I almost never get a chance to spend time alone with each child, and that I wouldn’t unless I scheduled it. So I’ve been scheduling time with each child and letting them pick what they’d like to do with me. (Stretch decided on the marathon bike ride we did two weeks ago. The baby tagged along, but there was still plenty of Dad-Stretch time.)

This evening was time for The Diva (our 7 year-old girl) to decide what she’d like to do with me. She wanted to draw a picture with me.
A budding Rembrandt
I expect calls from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the morning.

The other thing I’ve learned is that I was using my time on the web as a way to avoid work, especially boring work that had no specific deadline (paperwork, going through faxes, yuck). For the last three weeks I haven’t opened a web browser at work except to look up labs on the hospital website. I’ve been much more focused, and much more disciplined. Interestingly, my motivation to post has nearly vanished. I expect that I’ll be posting much less frequently. Two weeks ago I briefly considered resigning from the Coffeehouse entirely, but there’s no need to do that. I’ll just post when I want, and when it is a truly pleasurable diversion, not a mechanism of avoiding something boring or something anxiety-provoking.

The Diva wanted to tell you a few things, so everything in red is from her, and she actually typed a lot of it herself.

I like the idea of my daddy spending time with me. I like to color, play, type and go on rides with my dad.

The drawing was mostly made by me. My daddy drew a tree and a tire swing, and I drew birds, a nest with birds, and a house, and some other things.


Back to Part I
Saturday, August 06, 2005
 
What It Takes To Win
60 Years Later
Considering Hiroshima.


I hope I’ve trained some of our readers to look for Victor Davis Hanson’s articles on NRO every Friday. Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the American dropping of a single nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, killing over 100,000 people, the vast majority civilians. Hanson reviews our self-doubt over that decision over the last six decades and explains why those who supported the decision did so.
The truth, as we are reminded so often in this present conflict, is that usually in war there are no good alternatives, and leaders must select between a very bad and even worse choice. Hiroshima was the most awful option imaginable, but the other scenarios would have probably turned out even worse.
Meanwhile, Hiroshima marked the day with a ceremony mourning the victims and praying for peace. I'm still surprised by the gap between how we and the Japanese see the war. I guess it's too much to expect that a defeated nation come to see the conflict in the same way as the victor, but is it too much to expect a little introspection at such a ceremony? A touch of "look at what horrors we brought on ourselves"? The mayor of Hiroshima seems to have learned all the wrong lessons from history.
Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, an outspoken critic of Koizumi's hawkish foreign policy, was more emotional in his "Peace Declaration." He gave an empassioned plea for the abolition of all nuclear weapons and said the United States, Russia and other members of the nuclear club were "jeopardizing human survival."
Does he not realize that without nuclear weapons we would have burned Tokyo to the ground with conventional weapons the same way we did to Dresden? Does he not understand how many Japanese would have died while we invaded the home islands? Has he not realized that without our nuclear deterrent all of Europe would have spent the twentieth century under Soviet domination? Need I remind the mayor that though we melted Hiroshima, it is now a city in a sovereign Japan, not under American control, which would not have been true had China conquered Japan?

Those who mourn for Hiroshima's dead should not rail against nuclear weapons; they should rail against expansionist imperial regimes with global aspirations.
Friday, August 05, 2005
 
Tale of Two Teds
Received these quotes over email from a friend:

"I have long urged recess appointments to break this logjam -- this irresponsible, unconstitutional Republican leadership position which fails to give people their due and fails to meet the constitutional standard.”

- Sen. Ted Kennedy, 11/5/99

"The abuse of power and the cloak of secrecy from the White House continues. … (This recess appointment is) a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton’s credibility at the U.N."

— Sen. Ted Kennedy, summer 2005
 
Eat Like a Liberal
I am what people call a “staunch” conservative. I always have been. I also keep kosher. These two values are almost never in conflict. When Bean and I decided to personally boycott Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, we had multiple other premium ice creams to choose from. Some kosher products are harder to find than others. Cheese, yogurt, bread, and canned beans are some of the hardest to find. I usually have to make at least a monthly run to a strictly kosher supermarket to purchase these items. Kosher markets are a pain to shop in because, aside from the specifically kosher items, they don’t carry name brands. Also, they are more expensive, crowded, and poorly stocked. It doesn’t help that at least 3 months before Pesach [Passover], they stop carrying canned beans. Fortunately, many of the items at Trader Joes are kosher, they have recently even started carrying kosher meat, which is terrific! Trader Joes is only minimally “crunchy-granola/leftist”. I have been accosted a few times to sign petitions, or register with the ACLU. You see, they know liberals shop there. I still shop there because, well, I have to.

I have recently been on a quest for O’soy yogurt. It is tasty, not too sweet, kosher and only 2 points! What a tasty breakfast. Where do they carry this treat? Whole Foods. Don’t get me started on Whole Foods. I despise the chain. My dislike is inspired by a combination of the “organic” food, which to me says “I like botulism!” (Seriously, they carry unpasteurized milk), the magazines, like “Hemp Weekly” and “Crunchy-granola Earth Mother’s guide to armpit-hair braiding.” But I think what bugs me the most is the hypocrisy. The store uses just as much electricity for the compressors, lighting, etc. and even if you print on the brown side of cardboard, it still needs to go into a landfill. Furthermore, cheese doodles are still bad for you, even made with organic corn. It is also wildly overpriced. In addition to the store itself, there are all the Volvos with Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers, and earnest, skinny women on their cell phone stocking up on water and radiccio. Today, in search of yogurt, I had to foray in. I parked my SUV with the “W” sticker in the far corner of the lot and ventured inside. The first thing I notice in the giant banner declaring that today 5% of the proceeds go to the AOOF (or something like that). I think, “Oh no, I’m not going to be able to shop today. What the heck is the AOOF?” Turns out it is the American Organization of Organic Farming. I am opposed to organic farming. So now I have to decide if I am so opposed to it that I don’t want 5% of my yogurt purchases to go towards it. I decide I don’t hate organic farming that much and go inside. I find my yogurt near the ghee and unpasteurized butter and raw goat’s milk and start wandering around, looking for kosher products. Guess what, they have kosher beans! I buy some and some pareve margarine. I skip the magazines and cheese doodles and leave, angry and troubled. Angry, because I will have perform political analysis every time I want yogurt. Troubled, because I know I'll still shop there. At least it’s too early for the Greenpeace and ACLU activists. They're probably still in bed, in their hemp pajamas, with their “partners”, while their organic, free-range coffee brews. I hope they forgot to set the alarm.
 
And on the lighter side...
Just bought one of these for a bar mitzvah present. Sweet!
Thursday, August 04, 2005
 
Jewish terror?
Breaking: Jewish gunman attacks Arab bus

I haven't read this yet. Comments to follow.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
 
Vitamins = Crap (Mostly)
I subscribe to The Medical Letter, a periodical that reviews the latest evidence on medications. It's entirely objective, not funded by advertisements, and a great way for a busy internist to keep up with the constantly expanding list of medications at her disposal. Because I'm a paperless, digital, twenty-first century kind of doctor, I get it on my Treo, so I can read it whenever the mood strikes me, like on the potty.

The July 18 edition featured an article that reviewed all the randomized evidence* about vitamin supplements. The article goes through each article and reviews the evidence about it. I copy below, entirely without permission and verbatim, their conclusions. (The second point I've been telling patients for years until I'm blue in the face usually to incredulous patronizing stares.)

Hear me now. Believe me later. Stop taking vitamins unless you have a specific deficiency for which your doctor recommends them, (or unless you're taking calcium and vitamin D for osteoporosis prevention). Send 10% of the money you save to some right-wing charity. That is all.

UPDATE on August 22: The Medical Letter actually just released this addendum:
The recent Medical Letter article on Vitamin Supplements (July 18, 2005; issue 1213) stated in its conclusion that there is no convincing evidence that taking supplements of vitamin C prevents any disease. We should have added, "...except scurvy."

* Randomized evidence is the most reliable medical evidence. A randomized trial is one in which subjects are assigned randomly to received the tested medicine (in this case the vitamin in question) or to receive placebo. Having your cold get better after taking vitamin C is not randomized evidence; don't tell me about it. All of my colds have gotten better. I've never taken vitamin C.
----------------------------------------------------
My previous reflections on doctoring:

You Should Know Better Than That
I Really Appreciated This Visit
If I could be a doctor...
If I could be an astronaut...
Gawsh, You’re Awful Purdy!
Going Around
What Is It?
The Secret To Longevity
Thank You, Doctor
Senior Sadness
Monday, August 01, 2005
 
The Fortune Cookie
I was recently in China on business, and I took many meals in Chinese restaurants great and modest. This may surprise you, but I was not offered a single fortune cookie during the entire trip.

At the Chinese restaurant near my workplace in the OC, I always get an after-lunch fortune cookie. When the fortunes are good, I keep them and tape them to my monitor, to remind myself and inform others that my destiny has already been written by the ancient Chinese philosophers. The last four in a row were keepers:

1. You are admired by everyone for your talent and ability.

2. You are a happy man.

3. You are going on well with your business.

4. You are going on well with your business. (Yes, the same message - perhaps repeated for emphasis.)

A friend of mine consistently draws bad fortunes from the same restaurant, like "You will suffer a setback." and "A friend asks for your time, not your money." I explain to him that it's just the luck of the draw, influenced heavily by his unclean spirit. Then I ask him for money.
 
Bataan Bike Ride
Stretch on Bollona Creek Bike Trailkids at park
Sunday Stretch (10 years old) and I went on a bike ride that turned out to be muuuuuch longer than we expected. I also took our 18 month-old in the baby seat. We rode to beautiful Syd Kronenthal Park, which is where the Bollona Creek Bike trail begins.

made it to the ocean

(You can follow the creek on the map all the way to the ocean.) Then we rode the bike trail all the way to the ocean. We came home via an even more circuitous route. Stretch never complained the whole way, even when he was pretty tired. Even the baby enjoyed most of it. All in all good Bean outing.

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