Thursday, March 31, 2005

Has Bush lost his momentum?

It's struck me the past few weeks that Bush is no longer setting the agenda - came home sometime during the 'emergency legislation' for Terry Schiavo. Obviously signing hasty legislation over a 'hot button' topic was not part of his planned second term agenda, but it looks like a certain confluence of events has sapped his momentum.

Before the election, Al Hunt noted that Bush's first term victories were for tax cuts & to go to war, but his second term agenda would not be for items that Americans are natural pre-disposed towards. I believe that's part of the reason, but what's also important is the difference between war/tax cuts vs. reform of social security/taxes/tort. With GWII, Bush did not have to have a plan for post-war, but Social Security alterations requires a fairly detailed plan. Same with government give aways: you can give folks money or free drugs and their natural tendency will be to say "yes", but stating that you're going to privatize Social Security doesn't have that same resonance.

Also along the spoiled by success argument lines is Bush's re-election. His screened events worked well for him to energize the base to whip up support for get-out-the-vote drives and other volunteer activities, but that's because the choice was Kerry vs. Bush. Now Bush is trying the same trick with pre-selected 'town hall' events, but the contrast between Social Security as we know it vs. some vaguely defined 'privatization' plan doesn't work for his benefit.

Part of the loss of momentum is also the lack of legislation without clear inertia already behind it. Bankruptcy bill had been around for years & had passed under Clinton. ANWR had come close to passing several times previously. (Slight exception to tort reform as it had less inertia). But now that those 3 items have passed what now? Social Security reform is a non-starter. Tax reform was never going to come from Bush. Asbestos reform? HSA? Energy bill? Really not sure what else there really is in the Bush legislative agenda besides extending his tax cuts now that S.S. has derailed and tax reform is off in the quasi-distant future.

Via Andrew Sullivan I came across this disagreement from the New York Metro, but have to disagree. It's not that I believe the GOP will become a minority party - the Dems are still the party of status quo - but restarting momentum is always harder than keeping it going, and once Social Security reform did not gain traction, then Bush needed a Plan B. Grandstanding legislation for the religious right is not the way to regain it.

Have read that Bush believes his window-of-opportunity is only 2½ years which sounds right. If so, then 7.78% of Bush's effective time is now gone, and the clock won't run any slower in the future.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Did Russell watch too much Ionesco?

I heart Huckabees was pretty piss poor. Russell's an odd director. Fine first movie with Spanking the Monkey, then the weak & disappointing Flirting with disaster, followed by 3 kings (added resonance with GWII), and this tripe. Did Russell watch too many Ionesco plays as a youth & decide to create a post-modern Ionesco movie?

What i don't understand is why an actress of Isabelle Huppert's stature would not toss away a script with a scene that reads:

Just toss the script then.

Rough draft of a letter to Body & Soul

Last month, I had thought of a topic that I wish the MSM would cover. Create a data base of all Gitmo & Abu Ghraib & Bagram. I've scanned a few sites but have not found anything close to what I'm mentioning, so thought I'd write Jeanne d'arc, but wanted to refine my idea first. I'll also scan a few more before I write her.

What should be contained in the data base:

One positive sign is that most of the abuse cases I've come across are from 2002-2003, so it does seem that the Army has stopped the most egregious cases of abuse. I've looked at, but only find articles, so will search a bit more tomorrow.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Disappointing Basketball weekend^2

My wildcats lost in overtime to the Illini.
My wildcats lost in overtime to the Spartans.

Actually happy that I did not see the Wildcats loss in overtime - blowing a 15 point lead with 4 minutes to go. Was bad enough to see the Wildcats today not be able to get off a final shot in overtime - inexcusable. Heck, toss up the ball from halfcourt if you're not even going to shoot the ball.

Came in dead last in my pool at work & lost a wager for a snifter of cognac & a stoogie to the Tazman with his Tar Heels making the Final 4. Can't even offer a double or nothing wager on my semi-tough alma maters.

Time to lick wounds & watch I heart huckabees.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Friday Night Wine Blogging (post surgery edition)

Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2003 - California Central Coast (Pinot Noir)

when we first opened it - pomegranate & bright red cherry aroma...a ripe cherry with vanilla finish. It progressed into a dark cherry & ripe plum taste with vanilla on the nose. - Ginger Haired Yank

rugged knee

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Cats on the roll

Nothing quite like the NCAA tournie. Even though I'm in dead last place (may crawl up to 2nd-to-last) in my pool at work, my UoA Wildcats are an elite 8 club! Now my UoK cats should win tomorrow night, so who knows - maybe we'll have a repeat of 1997 with an all Taryl Cabot Cats finals!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Woody hasn't completely lost it

Tour de force from Radha Mitchell - had never heard of her until a few weeks ago, but now have seen her in two pretty meaty roles. First Finding Neverland & now Melinda & Melinda. Fine job playing a high strung waste case and a romantic lead in one film. Should be a big spur to her career.

Hadn't seen a Woody Allen since Deconstructing Harry which I disliked quite a bit (too self-congratulatory, almost excusing himself of all wrong doing), but had read that this was a bit of a comeback, partly because he had Will Ferrell as his surrogate, and would have to agree. Not bad for a 69 year old man.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Hope Season 2 is as good

Some folks just have talent. Used to watch Homicide: life on the street and then later read the book Homicide: A year on the killing streets and enjoyed the TV show more than the book, though had stopped watching by the final season - critics thought the show stayed on one season too long.

Now through the glories of Netflix, I can rent the entire first season, 2-3 episodes at a time. Only quibble is that it would have been nice to have the 1st episode sometimes to look back at the first scene in the courtroom - was that Stringer? Did Jimmy receive the same line he gave? Would have liked to re-see Prez's spaz introduction. Turns out he's good with codes & numbers, but has no business carrying a gun or walking a beat.

Nice closure to see the one detective who stole some money & thought he had scammed a Sgt. spot end up laying down the lay to new detectives in homicide. Actually dramatically satisfying to have our star get kinda screwed over - "tell me what positions you don't want" - ending up on harbour patrol. While the honourable Lt. gets passed over for promotion as punishment, but Bunk after serving his time in the purgatory of Pawn Shops finally earns the right to return to homicide - the more glamorous position.

Now that the characters have scattered all over, curious how there can be seasons 2, 3, and soon 4. Well a few films in between to give me a break before I get back to season 2.

A while back Crooked Timber had a posting on Netflix. I think they were asking whether Netflix was worth it. Being able to catch good shows like this without missing an episodes is just one more glory of the current technological aid & one more reason why i dig Netflix so much.

Epilepsy as metaphor

Epilepsy as metaphor

Well this graphic novel had its moments, but would not put it in same category as Blankets. As with all narrative art forms, a graphic novel needs a narrative. Instead Epileptic jumps back and forth in time, while discusses macrobiotics & quacks & charlatans & illness as a metaphor to be fought in battle armor. At one point, I just wanted to shout - don't you believe in Western medicine?!? Finally towards the end, the authour's brother does try some medicine from the United States that stops his symptoms, but makes him psychotic.

Kept waiting for some grand revelation, but instead the denouement is just a dream meeting with the brother, with the authour stating how he wished he could have battled the illness & beaten it, while the brother says he'd rather still ill & be taken care of by his mother all his life.

Part of the problem is the length - 361 pages - how many dreams & false treatments & seizures & battle depictions of conquerors, and mystical companion sequences do we really need? Surely the authour could have gotten the message across in half the length.

Fine art work that could have just used an editor to provide a better story arc.

Surgery recovery

Busy with ice & pain pills, though pain is "moderate" i.e. not bad if i can hold knee in optimum position. bad if i come down wrong on leg while crutching around.

fingers a bit groggy while typing this, so more blogging will have to wait another day.

am a bit curious though. are torn meniscii a relatively modern ailment? what did folks do 50 years ago? how long has the ultra efficient (75 minute) meniscectomies been around? 20 years? will have to ask doctor in follow up meeting.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

2 down - 46 to go

As stated last month, plan to keep a running tally each month of my upcoming wagers & slight over view of Bush's 2nd term.

First the wagers:

For my standards to judge Bush's 2nd term:

Discussing notable events:

Legislature: ANWR was never a hot button with me, and while in principal I'm against the bankruptcy bill (if you give credit cards with >$1,000 limit to someone on the dole don't be surprised if you get burned), not a hot button either. Obviously Social Security privatization is not going to occur, and Clear Skies is not going to pass either. If congress wants to spend their time on baseball steroids or pulling feeding tubes how much energy does that leave for serious matters of state?

International: The middle east is looking more promising than in some time, though the ardor and triumphalism seems to have abated some from last month - the reality of how slow history actually moves has set in. Of the countries talked about, things look best in Lebanon & Palestine. Overall Jane Galt sums up my feelings well:

I think everyone's affected by the natural human tendency to overweight things happening right now! In technicolor! over the future and the past.....Along those lines conservative pundits have been too quick, I'd argue, to embrace recent developments in the Middle East as proof that the Iraq War was right all along. The Arab world is a looooong way from having its first stable democratic government. The triumphalism is just a tad overwrought when we're trying to use the fact that Hosni Mubarrak is allowing multiparty rigged elections to justify the Iraq war.
That said, these are very, very encouraging signs. Here's hoping for hundreds more such.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Friday Night Zin Blogging

2002 Zinfandel - Woodridge by Robert Mondavi

It's amazing how the nose changes from plum to cherry - Ginger Haired Yank
Strong after taste on the upper palate - the authour

Thursday, March 17, 2005

minor items & hassles with blogspot

Teams all winners in first round, but I still need the favourites to keep winning. Samwise chose the 12th seed approach & was rewarded with a victory today. A single victory is fine, but if any of his 12th seeds go as far as the elite 8, i'm in trouble. M.O. is 0 for 5 today. I don't think i've ever ever seen anyone go so winless after so many games. Pretty amazing. Happy to see both of my alma maters win today, so maybe UoA is better than I thought, though I'll be curious if they can take UAB. They looked better than I thought, so maybe they are a sweet 16 team, but can't see them making the final 4. Of course would love to see Nevada upset the big boy Illinois. That would be my rankings a wonder.

In other fronts, looking forward to surgery - hopefully on Monday. This surgeon prefers general anesthetic to a "blocker". Haven't had a blocker, so was curious to try it, but won't argue with the man with the knife.

oh, final note. Maybe the Buffy quasi-spinoff has hope after all. It looked much better tonight & they even had the head nerd from the 6th (& worst) season of Buffy. Funny, it said this was his 5th appearance, but don't remember him previously & didn't think that I had missed that much.

p.s. Blogspot still not very robust. not sure what's up, but very annoying to post & wonder if you're posting has vapourized.

ADDENDUM: believe that was my 5th try at posting. had to save to word (which nicely allows links to be saved) and then try again. not sure what up, but very very annoying.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Blogspot not too robust

Last post on Dutch on tape would not publish or safe as draft & then my whole blog appeared to be blank. While it's great to have blogspot for free, this is maybe the 5th time i've had a posting just disappear or lost during edit or not be able to publish. Guess a trick is to always safe drafts in Word so that they can be saved if Blogspot goes awry.

Dutch considered

Wish I could remember which member of the Volokh conspiracy recommended Dutch on tape. His comments were on the mark - by abridging the book, most of the awkward annoying fake autobiography of the authour were taken out & Reagan's actual speaking could be inserted. I wish the authour actually gave Reagan more uninterrupted speaking time, as one speech he kept inserting himself in between Reagan's talk so it destroyed the flow.

The end was sad & arguable intrusive as Morris detailed Dutch's descent into dementia all too well. One episode that I had never heard was a luncheon for Margaret Thatcher at the Reagan Library - Dutch gives 2 idential toasts to her & everyone has to stand and applaud so as not to embarrass the ex-president. Also Dutch maintained some office in Century City for several years after his mental health was obviously declining - the authour visits him there. Very sad hearing the semi-intimate details of his end.

The focus of the book is on Dutch's character, so avoids much talk about tax cuts or Reaganomics, but Morris beliefs that Reagan's assessment "the evil empire" was the push the ultimately shattered the evil empire, though he also gives credit to Gorbachev for suckering Reagan into a mini-summit in Reykjavik which eventually led to the INF.

Iran-Contra: there's not too much doubt that Reagan knew about trading arms-for-hostages, though he was given to denial e.g. polyp cancer). For the contra portion, Morris believes Reagan knew about the transfer of funds but neither knew nor cared that it was illegal. One telling incident was when Morris asks Pat Buchanan about the contras & Pat responds with a query whether Morris knows Ollie North. Since Morris does not, Buchanan views Morris as a light weight. Given that Buchanan knew about North & the contras, it sounds believable the Reagan knew, but the plausible deniability was always too strong to ever impeach. The other item of note is that Reagan was basically in shell-shock for 3 months after the scandal broke. Finally in March 1987 he comes out of it in time for a key cabinet meeting - his cabinet considered invoking the 25th amendment at that time.

Overall Morris's view of Reagan's second term is that Reagan knew he had to pace himself, so only put energy into the '86 tax reform & meetings with Gorbachev, but otherwise just tuned out everything else as a nuisance. Also he gives strong emphasis to the accumulative toll of being shot, and the polyp surgery, and one other surgery eventually drained too much of Dutch's energy.

Listening the book did increase my admiration for Reagan, but my feelings about him will also be tempered by what the Reagan revolution wrought - while there was a humanist side to Dutch despite his policies, I can't say the same of his political progeny: Santorum, DeLay et al.

At the end when Morris talks about reading Dutch's white house diaries, I thought of father when Morris mentioned how Dutch would note how many applauses each speech received in his diary. It was not vanity, but more a professional actor grading himself. How well was that speech delivered? Did that one work? A craftsman working on keeping his skills well honed. Brought back memories of father noting his various hotels & how he "charmed" his way into hotel discounts via his employment at the Sheraton. Both were part of the "greatest generation" so I can see how there would be a similarity - surviving the great depression & WWII, you don't need introspection, you need survival skills.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

NCAA time

Still have fond memories of the tournament my first year up in Seattle. Had just arrived as the tournament began. Since I didn't know many folks there, I'd come back to the apartment after work to get inebriated & watch the basketball tournie. Great that you get 4 straight days of games, then after 3 days off, 4 more straight days of games. UW was actually pretty decent that year, but not one of the big boys losing to...Xavier? after beating Duke. Guess they were a bit over confident then. Of course UK just got spanked shooting 3 for 33 in the 2nd half against Georgetown. I could tell how tight they were with their shots.

Decided to copy our DBA's approach & use the draft teams for the pool. Thought that was the most fun. What happens too often with "pick all games" pools is that everyone picks the fave, e.g. UNLV back in '91, so there's no competition at the end. This way, you should have folks alive at least until the final 4. I'm going to live-and-die with my 4th seeds. Either Syracuse goes all the way to get me 4+8+12+16+20+24= 84 or I'm toast. Hopefully Florida can go to the semis as well. If that happens I should take the pool. In hindsight, I should not have taken so many #2 seeds since you have to have them win their bracket to make them worthwhile. Otherwise I don't have alot going for me. Always fun the tourney & getting together with Sco for the UoA game - assuming they win on Thursday - should be fun.

Go Cats!
Go Cats!

Nevada 9
St. Mary's (CA) 10
SE Louisiana 15
Wake Forest 2
Minnesota 8
Florida 4
Kansas 3
Uconn 2
Syracuse 4
Ukentucky 2

Monday, March 14, 2005

Back to medical marijuana

Took a look at the government's propaganda. Exposing the Myth of Smoked Medical MarijuanaMarijuana: The Facts. First item that stands out is the references: out of 12 listed, 4 were from newspapers (Washington Times twice, Washington Post and New York Times). For example for the following statement

In addition, in a recent study by the Mayo Clinic, THC was shown to be less effective than standard treatments in helping cancer patients regain lost appetites.

the web site referenced an article in the NYTimes. Why not reference the study from Mayo Clinic? Why not link to it?

A Columbia University study found that a control group smoking a single marijuana cigarette every other day for a year had a white-blood-cell count that was 39 percent lower than normal, thus damaging the immune system and making the user far more susceptible to infection and sickness.

This statement was supported by an article in the Washington Times written by James Dobson The religious right's new kingmaker. If you wanted to present a serious argument, would you use James Dobson? Once again, why not link to the study so we can read the science behind the statement.

I have read that the government's propaganda has changed under Bush, but this is the first time I've actually seen a government pamphlet use the writings of someone on the religious right. Of course, I've come across the comments from Clinton's drug czar & he's certainly no better - didn't realize that he was the military talking head you see on cable Barry McCaffrey. Sounds like Clinton's first choice of Dr. Lee Brown was far better, though I don't recall either of them.

Here's a web site that lists the history of 'drug czars' including

Dr. Jerome Jaffe is often referred to as the nation's first official "Drug Czar"

Never knew that. Well my research energy is running a bit low, but will have to look at the following book

Marijuana and Medicine
Assessing the Science Base
Janet E. Joy, Stanley J.
Watson, Jr., and John A. Benson, Jr., Editors
Division of Neuroscience and
Behavioral Health

tomorrow night. So far from what I've read, they seem pretty inconclusive in all their studies though their recommendations are respectable. This was a book produced in 1999. Since then, what I've read (will add links when I find them) is that the Bush administration has made it well nigh impossible to start a study of any size. Will leave the last words to our editors:

Recommendation 1: Research should continue into the physiological effects of synthetic and plant-derived cannabinoids and the natural function of cannabinoids found in the body. Because different cannabinoids appear to have different effects, cannabinoid research should include, but not be restricted to, effects attributable to THC alone.
Recommendation 2: Clinical trials of cannabinoid drugs for symptom management should be conducted with the goal of developing rapid-onset, reliable, and safe delivery systems.
Recommendation 3: Psychological effects of cannabinoids such as anxiety reduction and sedation, which can influence medical benefits, should be evaluated in clinical trials.
Recommendation 4: Studies to define the individual health risks of smoking marijuana should be conducted, particularly among populations in which marijuana use is prevalent.
Recommendation 5: Clinical trials of marijuana use for medical purposes should be conducted under the following limited circumstances: trials should involve only short-term marijuana use (less than six months), should be conducted in patients with conditions for which there is reasonable expectation of efficacy, should be approved by institutional review boards, and should collect data about efficacy.
Recommendation 6: Short-term use of smoked marijuana (less than six months) for patients with debilitating symptoms (such as intractable pain or vomiting) must meet the following conditions: failure of all approved medications to provide relief has been documented, the symptoms can reasonably be expected to be relieved by rapid-onset cannabinoid drugs, such treatment is administered under medical supervision in a manner that allows for assessment of treatment effectiveness, and
involves an oversight strategy comparable to an institutional review board process that could provide guidance within 24 hours of a submission by a physician to provide marijuana to a patient for a specified use.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Cognac & tournament time & foreign travel

Hi Time Wine nicely replaced the bad bottle of Remy Martin Louis XIII with a new bottle. Still a bit of a disappointment after all the anticipation, but no bitter taste like the first bottle. Not sure what went wrong.

As a sports fan, this is the great time of year & of course it helps to have 7 alma maters. As usual my Cats & my Cats are probably sweet 16 teams (#2 & #3 seeds), though sure don't expect them in the semis. Of all the sports tournaments, probably only the baseball playoffs can generate any similar excitement.

Old friend from Guidant just returned from Israel - conference in Haifa - where she spent a day in Jerusalem. Quite jealous, only 2 overseas trips from work have been to Holland twice. Hopefully will find some reason to be able to visit Egypt and Israel within the next 10-15 years.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Friday Night White Wine Blogging

Gewurztraminer - Sutter Home (2003) - Jasmine aroma and a pineapple-apricot taste on the palate. As it opens up, there's late appearing honeysuckle in the aroma - Ginger Haired Yank

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Wolfowitz considered in March 2005

Recently a liberal friend sent a copy of Wolfowitz's speech from February 2003 just before the war, and now I've stumbled across this excellent posting from Timothy Burke via Crooked Timber. His best paragraph is the last:
The Wolfowitzian defenders of the war want to skip Go and collect $200.00 on this one, go straight to the day two centuries hence when the innocent dead recede safely into the bloody haze of anonymous tragedy. Sorry, but this is not on offer, least of all for them. If they can't find the time, emotion and intellectual rigor to be as consumed by the case of a blameless mother and father turned into gore and sprayed on their children as they are by what Sean Penn had to say about the war last week, then their entire argument about the war is nothing more than the high-minded veneer of a more bestial and reasonless fury. If Brooks or anyone else wants to rise to toast Paul Wolfowitz, then they'll have to live up to the vision they attribute to him, and meet the real problems and failures of that vision honestly and seriously.
Why he was wrong in contradicting Shinseki's estimate that we'd need "something on the order of several hundred thousand" based on his experience in the Balkans with his now infamous statement "way off the mark". There are 3 possible explanations:
  1. honest error
  2. dishonestly trying to sell the invasion to Congress & American public
  3. delusional
  4. incompetence

I guess I could parse through the statements, but ignoring the troop levels from our experience in the Balkans because of no similar ethnic battles within Iraq is an odd statement given Saddam's brutal suppression of the uprising from Kurds and Shiites back in '91 after the Gulf War. That would rule out honest error, and leave the last 3 categories.

Wolfowitz has made the statement that justification of WMD was chosen for bureaucracy reasons (dishonesty) and also stated that Iraq was a rich enough country to foot the bill (delusional or incompetence). Given the evidence I'll have to conclude it was a combination of the three, though I'll give the biggest weight to Imperial Hubris.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Medical Marijuana will have to wait for another night

Guilty pleasure watching instead of blogging.

Best dialogue

"we're broke"
"you mean Martha Stewart broke or M.C. Hammer broke"
"M.C. Hammer" (exacerbated tone)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Medical Marijuana studies in more depth

Wanted to synthesize the core numbers from state studies from this link. Several of the studies did not provide sample sizes, so will skip them. This is a pretty long section despite my trimming (did not note cuts in any fashion, but the write-up can be found in the link above).

New Mexico: This study involved 250 patients.The study compared marijuana to THC capsules. Patients were permitted to choose marijuana or the THC pill. Both objective (e.g., frequency of vomiting, amount of vomiting, muscle biofeedback, blood samples and patient observation) and subjective measures were made to determine the effectiveness of the drug.

The study found that [m]ore than ninety percent of the patients who received marijuana . . . reported significant or total relief from nausea and vomiting." data accumulated over all five years

Michigan: The Michigan research compared marijuana to Torecan. It involved 165 patients. Upon admission to the program patients were randomized into control groups with some randomized on the conventional antiemetic Torecan and the remainder randomized to marijuana. When failure on the initial randomized drug occurred, patients could elect to crossover to the alternate therapy.

The Michigan study reported 71.1 percent of the patients who received marijuana reported no emesis to moderate nausea. Ninety percent of the patients receiving marijuana elected to remain on marijuana. Only 8 of 83 patients randomized to marijuana chose to alter their mode of antiemetic therapy. This was almost the inverse of patients randomized to Torecan, there more than 90 percent - 22 out of 23 patients - elected to discontinue use of Torecan and switched to marijuana.

Tennessee: This study involved an evaluation of 27 patients. The study found an overall success rate of 90.4 percent for marijuana inhalation therapy. In comparison it found a 66.7 percent success rate for THC capsules. In the under 40 age group, the study found a 100 percent success rate for marijuana inhalation therapy. We found an approximate 23 percent higher success rate among those patients administered THC capsules. We found no significant differences in success rates by age group. We found that the major reason for smoking failure was smoking intolerance; while the major reason for THC capsule failure was nausea and vomiting so severe that patient could not retain the capsule.

New York: By 1985, the New York program had extended marijuana therapy to 208 patients through 55 practitioners. Of that, 199 patients were evaluated. North Shore Hospital reported marijuana was effective at reducing emesis 92.9 percent of the time; Columbia Memorial Hospital reported efficacy of 89.7 percent; Upstate Medical Center, St. Joseph's Hospital and Jamestown General Hospital reported 100 percent of the patients smoking marijuana gained significant benefit. The report concludes: Patient evaluations have indicated that approximately ninety-three (93) percent of marijuana inhalation treatment episodes are reported to be effective' or highly effective' when compared to other antiemetics."

Georgia: The Georgia program evaluated 119 patients. It compared THC to standardized smoking of marijuana and with patient-controlled smoking. To enter the program a patient had to have failed on other antiemetics. Patients were randomized to either patient-controlled smoking of marijuana, standardized smoking of marijuana or THC pills.

The report found that both THC and marijuana were effective in providing antiemetic relief for patients who were previously unresponsive to antiemetics. The rate of success was 73.1 percent. Patient controlled smoking of marijuana was successful in 72.2 percent, standardized smoking was successful in 65.4 percent and THC was effective in 76 percent of the cases. In comparing the reasons for failure between marijuana and THC the report found: The primary reasons for failure of THC capsules were due to either adverse reaction (6 out of 18) or failure to improve nausea and vomiting (9 out of 18). The primary reason for failure of smoking marijuana were due to smoking intolerance (6 out of 14) or failure to improve the nausea and vomiting (3 out of 14).

California: California conducted a series of studies from 1981 through 1989. Each year approximately 90 to 100 patients received marijuana. In 1981 the California Research Advisory Panel reported: Over 74 percent of the cancer patients treated in the program have reported that marijuana is more effective in relieving their nausea and vomiting than any other drug they have tried." In 1982, a 78.9 percent effectiveness rate was found for smoked marijuana.

Best items are having an objective standard & the reasons why each therapy would work: smoke intolerance vs. vomiting up pills. Healthy sample sizes in all cases except for the Tennessee study.

A couple of weak items in these summaries: (1) outside of the California study, I don't see the illness, just the symptoms. The studies obviously would have to state, but these summaries don't provide that information. Looks like mostly cancer or AIDS. Does not appear to be any M.S. patients. (2) Do not see any statistics beyond providing percentages. Would be nice to see some binomial comparisons. Looks like every case uses comparisons of proportions - would like to see the base studies. Also do they ever try and make the subjective matter objective? Cannot detect that in any of these cases.

Conclusion: my setup isn't very close to what exhibited above.

Monday, March 07, 2005

How I would setup a medical marijuana study - I

I haven't read any of the studies, so I thought I'd create my own study using Probability and Statistics for Engineers by Miller & Freund & my knowledge of the hassles of 'subjective' studies. In this case, the response variable is level of pain from people with terminal illnesses. I'm not sure what symptoms Marijuana ameliorates for multiple sclerosis, but obviously the effects are once again highly subjective.

The #1 problem with studies such as Visual quality of a stent is how to map from an "excellent-good-fair-cruddy-miserable-crappy" scale to numbers so you can conduct a quantitative comparison. I would use a 1-10 scale. Obviously, the experiment designer can choose any size scale, e.g. 1-5, 1-100, but 10 allows sufficient granularity because you're comparing deltas. How much have my symptoms changed? Has my pain gone from a 7 to a 5? 6 to a 2? While if you get too large, say 1-100, then your patients are left wondering - Was that a 41 or a 38? on the feel bad meter.

Given that we're not measuring something exact, such as fingernail length of prisoners, then for our statistical comparison, we should use a non-parametric test - probably the U-test. Looking through my 2nd edition, the information on sample size isn't that good, so will probably have to finish this study tomorrow night with my Walpole and Myers from work. Usually non-parametric tests require a fairly sizable test group given the inexactitude of the response.

Next item is the number of groups. Ideally, you'd have a control group (placebo) and some pill form of THC and then smoking marijuana. Obviously you can't create a 'blind test' since folks will know if they're getting high, so for the sake of ease of administering, I'd just use the two groups: cannabinoids and marijuana. The other obvious risk is bias by the participants - since you can't hide the difference, you'll have to trust the integrity of your subjects.

What diseases to compare. This is hard since I'm not very knowledgeable about the symptoms and relief claimed. Knowing that pot does in fact give you the munchies, I'll choose terminal cancer victims who have a hard time eating due to stomach pain. That should also help prevent biases - folks won't fake eating/non-eating just to bias a study.

The other huge problem with clinical trials is screening out confounding variables. Are more folks using a combination of other drugs or switching drugs during the studies. Given that you can't control humans that well and their first priority is to diminish their symptoms. Would try to limit the age range & range of years that subjects have had cancer, or projected number of years until death.

Will have to continue tomorrow night, but have scanned the studies from link above and the sample sizes for the studies I see on this page range from 27 to 250. All the studies appear to be comparisons of populations: % effective with marijuana vs. % effective with cannabinoids. Does not look as though non-parametrics were used in any of the cases.

Time to body boogie & will hopefully finish up tomorrow night.

Monday evening blues

duchesse de bourgogne Posted by Hello

What my co-blogger can do with wine, I can do with beer.
Beer is one of the few things I really look forward to after a long day of working, selling my old huis and overseeing the contractors in my new semi-bungalow. This beer is a socalled "wine beer". Softest beer I ever drunk, the taste is as full bodied and beautiful as its name (my wife decided she wants to be renamed after this beer). Goes with all kinds of good food and I found out that this beer is one of the few appreciated by the non-beer drinking public.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Longest 85 minutes you'll ever sit through

Worthy film that felt far far longer than the 85 minutes on screen. Perhaps it's the lack of a story arc or the narrator returning stateside only 2/3 of the way through the film (thought that would be the end). Some nice touches: SpongeBob SquarePants doll being used by one of the troops when playing with an Iraqi orphan; mentions of shipping Iraqis captured in roundups to Abu Ghraib; use of "flight of the valkyries" when heading off on a 'search-and-seizure' mission. The SpongeBob humour was probably unintentional - doubt they could have known that this cartoon character would enter the culture wars - but curious if the director would have mentioned Abu Ghraib as noticeably without the scandal. Pretty sure that Wagner was playing on a stereo inside the Humvee (didn't sound like a studio based soundtrack) - great example of life imitating art. Probably the strongest criticism in the film is implicit and leveled at Rumsfeld. At ½ dozen spots in the film, we'd hear Rumsfeld's voice over stating the corner has been turned at junctures such as the capture of Uday and Qusay.

Also one of the best examples of synergy or multi-media or whatever cliche you want to use here: Gunnerpalace. Great to be able to see the photo journal notes behind the story and be provided with additional backdrop. Hope this usage of website is the wave of the future for documentaries. Funniest scene is this link (one soldier providing non-verbal exposition for another's story).

Overall a far superior film to either Fahrenheit 9/11 or Control Room, and given that both the LA Weekly & WSJ gave laudatory reviews, both sides of the political spectrum should appreciate it.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Surgery put off

Guess it will be longer than 8 days. Personal experience shows how difficult solving any Medicare fiscal crises will be. Current insurance pays first $1500, then deductible kicks in of $1125, then insurance pays next. Sometimes too confusing for either the doctors' office or myself to figure out - partly because the insurance company lumps the $2625 together under 1 term....PCA?

I'll have to ask how things were back in the 60's. Did mom pay out of pocket when i broke my arm? Don't remember any insurance. What about my tonsillectomy? Broken finger? Amazing how much medical payments have changed in my life - how convoluted its become. How complex would it have become if Medicare/Medicaid had never come into being?

Oh, almost forgot. Got scared of going "out-of-network" so switched surgeons.

Friday Night Wine Blogging (Shiraz)

Rosemount Estates Australia - 2003

Very nicely full bodied, plum & nectarine aroma with plum and very ripe dark cherry, tobacco, and cherry on the palate - so sayeth the Ginger Haired Yank

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Surgery in 8 days

Wonder if i'll just have surgery every 2 years for rest of life. In last 3 years have had sinus surgery (forget the exact term), and neuromas removed & now artho for right knee. If I get ahold of the MRI, I'll scan in a good image & post.

Guess I'm a prime example of why medical expenses are spiraling upwards in the US & I haven't even hit 50 yet.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A working platform for Dems

Forgot to include ending gerrymandering. Read recently that even if Arnold wins his argument & the redistricting goes to courts to decide that the effect would not be that dramatic given how our population has segregated itself into blue-red enclaves (article suggested voting for a slate, i.e. the top 2 vote getters get elected - never heard of that in the US, but the article had some example). Still even a partial effect would be helpful. What's amazing about the House to me is that the GOP margin isn't huge, but even a 20 person majority has a huge impact in the House.

So what should the Dems push for:

  1. Full funding of Nunn-Lugar. It's amazing to me that the US has put so little energy into securing nuclear material around the globe. To me it's a no-brainer. It ensures our safety & resonates with the public.
  2. Push for medical marijuana. There has to be some tipping point at which folks realize how foolish & destructive our war is & medical marijuana does resonate with the populace.
  3. End indefinite detentions & kidnapping & torture. It's easy to look away, but believe Americans in general are uneasy with how cavalier we've been towards human rights.
  4. Revoke Executive Order 13233...ok this one probably doesn't resonate, but put in terms of the secrecy of this White House & how a government should be transparent to the public it serves, this might have some traction.
  5. Push for gay civil unions. Looks like the majority of the populace will support civil unions, but not gay marriage.
  6. Kill funding for Cold War relics. Here's a list of weapon systems in addition to the F-22. These are never easy fights - each congressman wants pork to his area, but a fight worth having. Frame that argument that we need to be developing the next generation Predator or the next generation A-10. Those are the weapons of the future.
  7. Push for approval of the Doha round. Looking at what I can find makes it look like it's on quasi-hold until next year. Have not heard of any replacement for Zoellick...looks like there's an acting replacement. Given that i haven't heard anything about him or Doha, it looks like an opening for the Dems if they knock off the protectionist nonsense. Hope that learn from this last election, that protectionism is not a winner with the populace.
  8. Federalism. I realize that the term States Rights was abused by the south to mean "we will not obey the 14th or 15th amendments", but I am a believer in the 9th & 10th amendments - neither of which has any remaining meaning. Perhaps that's inevitable as a nation-state develops, but still disappointing.
  9. Pay-Go. Worked before, let's push for it again. The libertarians & fiscal conservatives aren't real happy with the profligate spending under Bush, so let's court them.
  10. End to gerrymandering.

Folks have been discussing the Goldwater election because that's when the GOP lost, but decided what it stood for (sort of - not sure how conservative Nixon really was, but he was a Cold Warrior). The Dems in this last election were disappointing. We won't nominate our staunch hawk Lieberman and we won't nominate our true peace candidate Kucinich. Neither ever obtained more than 10% of the vote. Let's go for someone who "won't lose". He voted for the war, but isn't really for it. Not a strong proponent of any of the hot button issues - in actuality a watered down candidate.

Back to the theme of yesterday's posting - it is time for left bloggers to promote new or quasi-new ideas and new faces, and to investigate whether Warner or Bredesen has what it takes to go national so hope to see the left blogosphere take up the challenge.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?