Medicine by law

People increasingly use the internet to explore medical issues. That is in general a good thing, provided they are careful about using credible sources for their information and are not too credulous about what they find. Being more knowledgeable about their own health can make for more fruitful conversations with their physicians.

But the old saying ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ can sometimes kick in and people can decide that they know more than their physician, or indeed the entire medical profession, and demand specific treatments. They especially do this when it comes to ‘off-label’ uses of drugs, when people ask that a drug that has been shown to be effective in treating one condition be used to treat a different condition where its efficacy or even safety has not been established. People sometimes seize upon anecdotes about its use to demand that it be prescribed for them.
[Read more…]

25 years of sexism at Fox News

Fox News is celebrating 25 years of existence and The Daily Show has created a montage of some of the many instances of sexist and misogynistic comments by its male on-air personalities in the presence of their female co-workers. You can see in some cases how uncomfortable the women are and the struggle they face in deciding whether to show their anger (and be accused of lacking a sense of humor) or the awkwardness of trying to laugh it off while still making it clear that the comments were inappropriate.

Excellent documentary on Afghanistan

Now that the US has pulled out of Afghanistan, one already sees a drastic decline in media coverage of that country. The PBS investigative program Frontline has just released an excellent documentary Taliban Takeover on the twenty-year old war that the US waged in Afghanistan.

What makes this program particularly notable is that the journalist Najibullah Quraishi is himself an Aghan who was born and raised in that country and has covered the war all this time, providing him with a breadth of knowledge of the country’s languages, history, and peoples that enables him to provide an in-depth perspective that is lacking in most western sources. He has contacts with key members of the Taliban, al Qaeda , and ISIS and was embedded with these groups at various times and thus has access to them and was able to interview them. He also interviewed many courageous women who are wondering what the future is for them.

His reporting shows that the departure of the US and installing of the Taliban in power has brought some stability to the country but at the cost of freedoms as the government seeks to rule according to Islamic law and that now there are power struggles within factions of the Taliban and with al Qaeda and ISIS.

For those seeking to better understand what is going on there and why the US mission was pretty much doomed from the start, I can highly recommend this 53-minute program.

Who knew?

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Fantasyland) said that the horse de-worming medicine Ivermectin that the nutjobs are pushing as a covid treatment, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Surely she could take a little more care when making stuff up and at least say that it won the prize for medicine, though even then the prize is given to people and not products. We are entitled to expect better lies from our elected representatives. These people really have contempt for their followers.

Show some respect, Marjorie!

If you thought that misinformation on English internet sites was bad …

… John Oliver walks us through the nightmare on the internet in the languages of immigrant communities where it seems to be totally unchecked. For example, while Alex Jones has been booted from YouTube for spreading falsehoods, a Vietnamese clone of his is running wild saying pretty much the same things. For many older immigrants with poor knowledge of English, these ‘news’ feeds are their only sources of information. Oliver says that young immigrants despair of how their elderly relatives are being misled.

The ugliness of Facebook (exposed again) may be a sign of its impending demise

Facebook has become a colossus in social media all over the globe, along with the companies it purchased like Instagram and WhatsApp. It has become so big, its power and influence so widespread, that it is seen a threat to the well-being of societies. The various abuses that it has been associated with, such as enabling the fomenting of hate and divisiveness in societies that have led to genocidal actions, have been well-documented. After each such revelation, Facebook executives come before various bodies and go through the same ritual. They claim that they just provide a communication platform for people to express their views and that it is not their fault if other people abuse their platform. They then promise to try and implement safeguards that will minimize the risks of damage. But nothing they claim they are doing seems to work and the cycle gets repeated.
[Read more…]

The scandalous way the US criminalizes children

In reading this article about how one county treats children, one cannot help but think that if you wanted to turn young children into hardened criminals, you could not think of a better way. The system seems designed to find ways to arrest children and haul them up before a judge and send them to juvenile detention systems, even when they have not done anything that deserved such harsh treatment.

This story is about eleven young children, one as young as eight, who were arrested for doing nothing more that being spectators to a schoolyard scuffle, the kind of thing that takes place between children all the time, with one of them taking video of it.
[Read more…]

Could the CIA have leaked the Pandora Papers?

I blogged about the Pandora Papers, the leak of confidential documents that showed how the world’s ultra-wealthy, including prominent politicians, are hiding their money in various off-shore tax havens around the world. It did not go unnoticed that there were very few Americans who were named, while there was a high number of people who are considered enemies of the US, especially Russians. The benign reason given for this imbalance is that the US itself is now a tax haven, with the lax laws of states like Delaware, South Dakota, and Nevada making it unnecessary for Americans to send their money abroad.

But there is a less benign possibility and that it that the source of the leaked documents is the CIA. After all, hacking into systems and releasing damaging information on perceived enemies is all in a day’s work for that agency..
[Read more…]

Getting vaccinated is not just a matter of personal choice

The demand by some states and companies that people must be vaccinated in certain situations is playing out in an interesting manner in the National Basketball League. Two prominent players Andrew Wiggins and Kyrie Irving had both refused to say whether they were vaccinated and had told people to respect their personal choice. That could have resulted in them not being allowed to play in states that require vaccinations and this would mean that Irving would be prohibited from playing in all home games in New York and Wiggins in San Francisco.
[Read more…]

Is going to the extreme a winning strategy?

I have been wondering whether taking ever more extreme stands on major issues was a winning strategy for Republicans. There is no doubt that it fires up the most passionate and Trump-supporting faction in the party and also seeks a petty goal of ‘triggering the libs’, as the kids say. But against that is the possibility that it alienates everyone else, including other Republicans. While such a strategy would likely be a plus in the primaries where more loyal party members tend to vote, it would succeed in a general election only if the electorate is so solidly Republican that there are enough people for whom just the identifier (R) after a candidate’s name is sufficient to make their voting decision.
[Read more…]