Sunday, August 27, 2006

Nuke Pluto

Pluto? It's probably too far away to "nuke", but that might end the controversy. Why do we care whether it's a planet or some useless piece of asteroid floating around the edge of our solar system? Just because a few astronomers are getting all hot and sweaty over the Pluto controversy does it have to be plastered all over the net like some kind of space virus. It's not as if we don't have enough things going down on planet Earth to worry about - wars, famine, pestilence, pollution - real issues that require serious attention. How about Mars? We don't hear much about Mars these days. At least there might have been life on Mars, and a few NASA types are talking about Terraforming the planet in a few decades. That way when Earth is no longer habitable we can re-populate the Red planet, and start the whole damn thing all over again. I say more Mars less Pluto - how about you?

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tiger Roars Again!

Tiger Woods is the best athlete so far in the Twenty First Century. As everyone in the golf world knows he won his twelfth major golf championship today after dominating the field through eighteen holes of the PGA tournament. His combination of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual focus along with immense innate talent give him a unique stature in the world of sports and golf - the most difficult, pressure packed sport to master ever devised. His late father Earl seemed to have precognition of this talent, and his future accomplishments soon after Tiger was born. Even if you know little of golf you must take the time to watch this phenom in his prime as he closes in on the supreme golf record of Jack Nicklaus who holds the most professional major victories of any golfer. My prediction is that Tiger will surpass Jack's record by the year 2011 or by Tiger's Thirty fifth birthday. After that this prodigal ambassador of sport with his multicultural background, and native intelligence could look towards becoming a dominating political figure - maybe President of the United Nations? Let there be no doubt - Tiger is above all a humanitarian, something his father Earl taught him well. He is a reluctant hero, but that is his mantle nonetheless. We will watch in awe as you shoot for the stars Tiger. Go get em.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Speaking Soprano

It's true, I happen to like watching the Sopranos along with a few other million fans. I'll admit that it's a guilty pleasure considering how often the show depicts the worst in human nature - portraying graphic scenes of violence and other sordid activities. Not to mention that most of us would consider organized crime a blight on society. The show seduces its fans with tremendous acting talent, clever plot lines, and great production skills. Viewers are compelled to believe that they are watching the reality of a mafia family - who seem to have the same problems and issues as the rest of us. The frustrated Joe viewer can live vicariously watching Tony take out a malcontent, or seeing him punch out his bartender for making a silly comment - behavior that would never be tolerated in most circles even though we might occasionally fantasize about acting out vengeful thoughts.

It's difficult to speculate what kind of negative or positive spin off effects watching the Sopranos might have on viewers and society in general, but there is one influence of the show that I do suspect. Has anyone else noticed the number of F-Bombs that bombard many conversations these days? Yuppies, professionals, blue collar, white collar, men, and women all peppering their talk with the F-Word. Yes, I too am guilty of this to some extent, and I blame it on the Sopranos. For those who happen to watch it, the show gives the F-word a kind of cachet, and celebrity status - like you really mean business, and people should damn well listen to what you're saying if you sprinkle a few *ucks into the conversation. This can't be a good thing for the English language or your spirit, so from now on I am going to do my damnedest never to use an F-bomb again! Wish me luck - I don't think it'll be easy, at least not until that last Sopranos episode has aired.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Get a Diagnosis!

How many of us go through life with undiagnosed ailments and conditions that impair our ability to achieve success, participate in activities, or enjoy life to the fullest? All of the incredible medical knowledge, and therapeutic advances are of no avail to those who are not diagnosed, and unaware of what ails them. Of course those who have more severe forms of a disease are likely to be detected, and those with severe symptoms are more likely to seek medical care.

What we are speaking of here is the iceberg effect - a large pool of undiagnosed patients who remain that way because their symptoms are less severe, atypical, or nonspecific, and subsequently the appropriate investigations are not done, or current diagnostic methods are not sensitive, or accurate enough to detect early, mild, or atypical disease even if the person decides to seek out medical care. Even a very astute, thorough Physician will have difficulty reaching a diagnosis when someone presents with an early, or less pronounced form of many diseases. Of course as medical science progresses, and diagnostic tests improve more of these diagnostic dilemmas will be solved just as the history of medicine tells us. Full Story

An example of this would be diagnostic advances in the diagnosis of Celiac disease - a potentially debilitating gastrointestinal disorder caused by immune sensitivity to gluten, a protein that is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. The mucosal cells (villi or lining of the small bowel) become inflamed, damaged and dysfunctional usually causing some degree of malabsorption along with symptoms of fatigue, pain, bloating, and often diarrhea. In the middle of the last century the only definitive way to diagnose Celiac disease was a small bowel biopsy - an uncomfortable invasive procedure. In the last decade or two highly specific blood tests have been developed that can diagnose the condition - possibly followed by biopsy for confirmation. Despite a simple, ready method to make the diagnosis, Celiac disease demonstrates the classic iceberg phenomenon. Most people who have the condition remain undiagnosed because they do not present in a textbook fashion with signs of advanced celiac pathology, and the patients physician sees no reason to order the necessary blood test. Fortunately, in recent years the tide is changing as more Physicians understand this iceberg effect, and increase their vigilance while lowering their threshold for investigation of Celiac disease.

The implications of this are enormous as there can be tremendous long term physical and psychological health improvements for a newly diagnosed Celiac patient who adopts a gluten free diet. These patients may experience significant improvements in their health within weeks or months of going gluten free. Many other undiagnosed conditions could have a similar iceberg profile, and your symptoms may be related to a pathologic state that is submerged below the surface as well.

If you happen to fall into this category what are some options?

  • Avoid any obvious causes of poor health such as smoking, over eating, lack of sleep etc. that might obscure and adversely affect an underlying disorder.
  • Don't assume that you are a Hypochondriac. Of course a Hypochondriac may constantly seek medical care for suspected undiagnosed ailments, but at some point such individuals will usually be diagosed as such. Of course the Physician could well be dealing with a Hypochondriac who also has a diagnosable physical ailment. These considerations are beyond the scope of this post.
  • Never assume that your poor health or lack of well being is not due to a medical condition that can be diagnosed and treated.
  • Educate yourself through reliable sources as to what might be the medical significance of your complaints.
  • Make sure that any Physician or Health care expert you consult has the necessary expertise in relation to your symptoms and signs (although this determination may be difficult).
  • You may have to consult with more than one Medical Specialist for a diagnosis to be reached.
  • Maintain hope for the future - you may get a diagnosis sooner than later.
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