• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


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    Tuesday, June 21, 2005

    A modern Daniel and the lion's den

    Read this post on Fox about an ethiopian girl and couldn't help but think of the bible story about Daniel getting thrown into a den of lions.

    [The girl] was beaten repeatedly before she was found June 9 by police and relatives on the outskirts of Bita Genet, Wondimu said. She had been guarded by the lions for about half a day, he said.

    "They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest," Wondimu said.

    "If the lions had not come to her rescue, then it could have been much worse. Often these young girls are raped and severely beaten to force them to accept the marriage," he said.

    ..."Everyone thinks this is some kind of miracle, because normally the lions would attack people," Wondimu said.

    Maybe it's just me, but I think this girl might have a special mission to perform in life, and God wanted to make sure she performed it.

    Anesthesiology malpractice

    Today in the Wall Street Journal there is an article about anesthesiologists and the headway in malpractice insurance they have achieved due to an increased focus on safety.

    The WSJ reports that
    Anesthesiologists pay less for malpractice insurance today, in constant dollars, than they did 20 years ago. That's mainly because some anesthesiologists chose a path many doctors in other specialties did not. Rather than pushing for laws that would protect them against patient lawsuits, these anesthesiologists focused on improving patient safety. Their theory: Less harm to patients would mean fewer lawsuits.

    ...In 1982, the ABC news program "20/20" aired a piece on anesthesia-related deaths. "It was a devastating indictment of anesthesia," recalls Ellison C. Pierce Jr., a retired professor of anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School who is considered by many to be the father of the modern anesthesia-safety movement.

    ...Dr. Pierce at the time was president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. In 1985, that group provided $100,000 to launch the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation. The new foundation was unusual in medicine: a stand-alone organization solely devoted to patient safety. Working closely with the larger ASA, from which it still receives about $400,000 a year, the foundation galvanized safety research and improvement.

    ...One advance was the development of high-tech mannequins that allow anesthesiologists to practice responses to allergic reactions and other life-threatening situations. Anesthesiologists say the mannequins have also allowed them to become more proficient at performing an emergency procedure akin to a tracheotomy that involves slitting open a clogged airway -- something a doctor can't practice on live patients.

    The innovations of anesthesiologists continue today.

    ...Anesthesiologists are now focused on alarm bells. Modern anesthesia machines come equipped with audible alarms that sound when certain thresholds, such as oxygen levels, are crossed. But the alarms irritate many surgeons, so some anesthesiologists have turned them off. The foundation has documented 26 alarm-related malpractice claims between 1970 and 2002, or a little more than one a year. Of those, more than 20 resulted in either death or brain damage.

    The foundation is pushing to adopt a formal standard that prohibits anesthesiologists from disabling the alarms. "I would not fly on an airplane if the pilot announced all the alarms were being turned off," says Robert K. Stoelting, the foundation's current president. "Our patients deserve the same safety net."
    The total article is a great read and an indictment of the current trend in tort reform. John Stossel, author of Gimme a Break and a strong libertarian, argues that there is far too much tort in this country. Malpractice insurance is often used as an example.

    But this article shows that doing a job well is more effective that tort in reducing rates.

    Also, I have a suggestion for the alarm bell thing. Instead of turning off the alarms, or making some needless rule on keeping the alarms on, just configure the monitor with earplugs. I've seen the monitors, and it wouldn't be hard to put an earplug in one ear, maybe wireless maybe not, so the anesthesiologist can hear the alarm without breaking the concentration of the surgeons.

    Saturday, June 18, 2005

    MCAT Scores!

    So, thursday rolled around and MCAT scores were posted on the net. I was scared. Soooo scared. That test was the hardest test I'd ever taken. As I went to the site, and typed in my sn and password, all I could think was "What if I get a 29? Do I retake the test?"

    When I looked at my score, the first thing I saw was "Series: 29." "Ah, crap," I thought, "looks like I did get that 29." But then I kept scanning right. Verbal Reasoning: 12. Physical Science: 10. Writing Sample:Q. Biological Sciences:12. Total Score: 34Q.

    And I sat there shocked. "34?? Could it be true?? Did I get a 34??" I was so shocked all I could do was close my eyes, and breathe in slowly. When I opened my eyes again, the score was still there and reality struck. I got a 34! The elation is hard to describe. The MCAT score counts for so much of an application into medical school that I didn't even look at schools to apply to before receiving my score. I didn't want to hope for Johns Hopkins, or Baylor, and get a 29, and not be able to apply.

    But a 34 allows me to apply anywhere. I have a good chance of getting in to a good medical school. And that puts me one step close to becoming a great doctor and helping to make a difference in peoples lives.

    Ah the relief...

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    Why Viets listen to old music

    When visiting the Vietnamese population in Los Angeles or Salt Lake City, my wife and I always laugh because the music playing in all the restaurants is that composed during the "American War." I love the stuff, probably because it reminds me of the old honky-tonk version of country that used to pervade the country scene. You know, "I lost my dog, I lost my car...I lost my wife..." -- that type of song.

    Anyway, my wife and I decided that the Viet expats continue to play this music because they long for the days before war ravaged their mother country, before they were forced into exodus by the Communists, and (for many of them) banned from ever returning to the land of their forefathers, the land they bled to protect.

    I would too, if I had invested all that into one area, one time.

    Anyway, although the South Vietnamese didn't get their way, life goes on. For many of the young Viets in America today, they listen to pop music from Thuy Nga and Asia Entertainment, and care more about fixing up their honda civics than Communism. But a new group of politically active Vietnamese youth are becoming increasingly vocal. Some people I know founded Tong Hoi Sinh Vien in Southern California, and now they have ties with other Vietnamese Student Associations in forming the NAVSA/VIA-1 2005 Conference.

    Unlike their fathers and grandfathers, these Vietnamese are interested in making a diference in Vietnam through helping under the current regime. Instead of marching to end Communism, they are meeting to discuss how they can help the government improve neonatal care to hamlets far away from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Truly the times are changing.

    All of this stemmed from my reading a great essay by a Vietnamese student in Hue about the different types of music and why Vietnamese adults love to listen to the stuff from before the war. Catch it at Virtual Doug. It's a great insight into the mindset of adults and the younger generation rising in Vietnam.

    Gold Medal Pizza

    Yesterday the lab and I went to Gold Medal Pizza. There's no webpage because it's a startup company by a student here in Provo, UT. However, it's above "Thai Ruby," the local Thai food restaurant, at 744E 820N in Provo.
    Gold Medal Pizza

    Businesses in this spot struggle. You have to walk up stairs to reach the restaurant, while dodging the Thai food and Clean Flicks movies below (the door is inbetween both stores). Really the only problem is the parking, which is minimal during the day because of BYU's monopoly.

    Inside the restaurant, we had a good time. There are large picture windows letting you look out over campus, and two plasma tvs so you can eat your pizza and watch the game. We spent the 20 minutes waiting for our pizza laughing and discussing the things that make men/women attractive to the other sex (I will not elaborate).

    When the pizza came it was amazingly good. Provo is a pizza market, like many college towns, and the reigning champion is Brick Oven Pizza. Gold Medal Pizza's gimmick is the "medals"--pizzas with up to four toppings shaped like cinnamon rolls. I got six for $5.49. It was worth every penny.

    Anyway, if you want a large place with italian food and good pizza (and root beer), you're still gonna head to Brick Oven. But if you are just looking for pizza, Gold Medal Pizza takes the gold.

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    USB flash drive

    I'm trying to decide what type of usb drive to get. I went to Best Buy and the 2.5 gb geek squads were on sale for $100, but they were all sold out. My wife uses the old one, so I need a new drive...I saw on bestbuy.com a pny for $110 with $50 mail-in rebate...but i don't know how good pny really performs. I like Sandisk's cruzer--the mini is available through cnet for $50 after mail in rebate--that's $10 less than the one at best buy.

    But now I have a new dilemma. Do I stay with the cruzer mini, or do I get a 1gb cruzer micro (1/2 the size) for $70? Is $20 more worth the drop in size???

    Or do I hold out for the pocket rocket--the best in the business???

    Thursday, June 09, 2005


    Last night my wife and I spent a quite evening eating at Buona Vita on Center St. in Provo, and discussing her upcoming trip to Vietnam. It was the one year anniversary of my proposal. Yeah, yeah, we're still newlyweds and have the time to celebrate such things, but so what. It keeps the wife happy, and I got italian food out of it.

    Actually, the great part about it was the new cd I got--Nine Inch Nails--With Teeth. It's great. I have to say I like Trent Reznor's metamorphosis as an artist. Sometimes he strikes out, and there are a couple songs on the cd where he does, but there are a couple others where he hit's a homerun. All in all, he's changed in a way he had to, and when you want the old stuff, you can always listen to it.

    The reason I got that for me, was because I was at Best Buy picking up the Phantom of the Opera Delux Special Edition CD for my wife as a gift. It's pretty good. I've seen the movie and it's good, but listening to just the music, I think I like the broadway cds better. However, it's like comparing apples and oranges. They're both fruit, but totally different. The broadway music had great singers for the main characters. The movie had good but less talented singers, designed (in my conjecture) to be more youthfull and passionate at the expense of talent and experience.

    Both cds are great buys, if you're looking for music, and if you care, my wife loved the gift.

    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    Second 49er Film

    This one wasn't nearly as bad as the first. I watched this one all the way through, and it had the feel of any show on prime time tv. He should have lost his job for the first one, but i hope people let this one slide. Maybe too juvenile for the 49ers, but not bad enough that it can't, and shouldn't, be taken care of in-house. Especially since any reprimand for this video will be muted by the actions already taken on behalf of the first, far worse, video. All in all, this guy still wasn't thinking clearly.

    Religion in Vietnam

    Found an interesting blog by an english teacher in Hue, who is Episcopalian. His most recent post is a student essay about the differences between Christianity and Buddhism. For those of us with intimate ties to the Vietnamese, and the status of religion/religious freedom, this is an interesting viewpoint worth reading. Often people in America forget that there is more to the story than the skewed information we get from activists and viet kieu newspapers.

    Check out Virtual Doug.

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    Xia Xue

    stumbled across Xia Xue as I was reading "the rice bowl." She's an interesting girl. That's about my only thought right now. still trying to put the pieces back together. just take a look

    Disposable camcorder?

    I just read in the Wall Street Journal that CVS is selling disposable camcorders. What a great idea! They will sell for $30 and
    With the new single-use camera, a person will be able to take footage for a total of 20 minutes, bring the camera back to the pharmacy's one-hour DVD mini-lab and, for a $12.99 processing fee, receive a disk ready for viewing on a DVD player or a computer. The camera is made by Pure Digital Technologies Inc., a closely held San Francisco company that last year launched single-use digital cameras for taking still pictures, sold at CVS, Target Corp., Rite Aid Corp. and elsewhere.
    With my love for the outdoors, these 5 oz gizmos will be great for taking to the top of Grand Teton Mountain, or sending with my wife to Vietnam.

    What would Vietnam war vets say about this?

    Today the Wall Street Journal reported that Peter W. Rodman, assistant secretary of defense for international-security affairs, is visiting Vietnam.
    A Pentagon official said Mr. Rodman's trip is aimed at exploring new ways for U.S. and Vietnamese military forces to cooperate on security. Since Washington and Hanoi normalized relations in 1995, U.S. naval vessels have been making calls at Vietnamese ports on the South China Sea. The Pentagon is interested in seeing if more maritime visits can be scheduled, the defense official said.
    Later this month, Prime minister Phan Van Khai will meet with President Bush, the first such visit since the end of the Vietnam war.

    Perhaps this signals two things:

    1. US officials recognize the truly important economic and militarily strategic position Vietnam occupies in Southeast Asia and in pressuring China, and
    2. open talks will put more pressure on Vietnam to perform in the human rights arena, an area the country has persistently underperformed in, while wonderfully undertaking capitalistic reforms.

    Recently, VietACT got a report from the US State Dept about human trafficking. Also see Talawas for general info. Obviously the communist government has their own version of things. Try here for an article.

    Monday, June 06, 2005

    New President at BYU-Idaho

    Just heard on NPR that Kim B. Clark, dean of the Harvard Business School, will step down and become president of BYU-Idaho.

    Since he comes from Harvard business, I don't think he'll make any two-mile housing laws...

    Illegal Marijuana

    Just heard that the supreme court decided, 6-3, that marijuana should stay illegal, even for medicinal purposes only. Eugene Volokh agrees, but has a little critique of Justice Thomas. In fact, check out all his posts about Raich on his website.

    A general overview of the case can be found at CNN.com. Angel Raich and one other person sued John Ashcroft for barring marijuana for medicinal use. This case is important for more than those who want to smoke pot, or are sick, because it tackles federalism again. Does federal law supplant state law? This means that
    "If medical marijuana advocates want to get their views successfully presented, they have to go to Congress; they can't go to the states, because it's really the federal government that's in charge here," [CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey] Toobin said.
    For a good debate by many law professors on the verdict and ramifications, visit Scotusblog.

    BYU Housing

    Can I rant some more? Brigham Young University beauracracy has to consist of some of the stupidist people ever to walk this earth. I just applied for a job at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and I'm sure the zebra fish I might work with there have far more intelligence than the BYU Housing Office staff collectively.

    Anyone who knows anything about economics realizes that BYU students have bent over and taken it up the rear for years now because BYU has a housing policy that requires places of residence to be approved. BYU students cannot live in non-BYU-approved housing. That makes you inelligible and unable to take classes (if they find out...the under-the-table housing issue is far greater than they care to believe).

    First of all, our friendly economists know that when housing needs to be approved, that squeezes the number of potential houses students can live in. Decreased supply, with steadily increasing demand, causes rent to skyrocket and incentive for owners to maintain their property to drop. Hence the average BYU student pays about $250-275/month during the school year to stay in an apartment with six people.

    Usually this apartment is pretty run down. Last year, while still at BYU, I had a friend who's carpet was constantly soaked by rain and snow. She tried getting it fixed numerous times but the management just blew her off--until her roommate's father called and threatened legal action. Miraculously, a maintenance man was there within two days two fix the leak and change the carpet.

    Now, why in the world should little Provo, Utah have run down apartments that cost $1500-1650/month? I did a quick search. The average rent for a three bedroom apartment near the medical center (hey, I'm gonna be in med school next year) in Houston, TX is $550-900/month. San Francisco has 3-bedroom, 1100+ square feet apartments for $1400-1700, the same price as Provo. The average apartment with those specifications in New York City, near 5th avenue, is $3500/month.

    College towns are not much different. Palo Alto, CA, which houses Stanford students, does so at around $2000/month for an apartment with the standard specs. Housing near Harvard is aroun $2200/month. But we must remember that both California and the East Coast compensate higher housing costs with higher wages. Provo is a small town in Utah. Housing in Salt Lake City around the University of Utah (arch-rival to BYU) rents for approx. $750/month for the standard specs. It's the exact same price in Austin, TX if you want to go to UT-Austin. Denver, CO shows $755-900/month. University of Arizona students pay about $700/month.

    Ultimately, BYU has screwed its students long enough. The restrictions BYU has placed on housing by forcing owners to become BYU approved has driven down quality while making price comparable to San Francisco, CA. Now BYU has enacted a regulation requiring all single BYU students to live within two miles of campus (unless living with family) effective beginning of 2007. Effective immediately, BYU has stopped approving new houses and complexes because, as one employee told me, there are too many vacancies in the already approved housing.

    BYU has become an enforcer for the giant housing owners.

    Consequently, if something isn't done, rents will increase again, the standard of living will remain poor, and BYU students will continue to be screwed by "the Lord's University."

    The Greatest American

    Ok, so why do American's always have to affirm their stupidity? The Discovery Channel had a show on last night that chronicled the 100 greatest Americans. Actually, it didn't chronicle the top 25, because voting's still out on them (weird, huh?).

    Anyway, I knew I was in for a long night when #98 was John Edwards. John Edwards? John Edwards? Who in their right mine would think John Edwards is one of the top 100 GREATEST Americans? He hasn't done anything. A freshman senator that mortgaged his political future by running with John Kerry last year? Who nominated him, and what were they smoking?

    Next, the show can't manage who's nominated--that's up to idiot America. But, they can control who comments. I, and every other American, should never be subjected to Clay Aiken, a gay American idol loser who sings about being an invisible voyeur fly, talk about why Lyndon B. Johnson (or anyone else) should be among the top 100. Why would I value Clay Aiken's comments? Does he know anything about LBJ other than what's on the cue card he read? I wanted to claw my eyes out and plug my ears at that moment, but I endured.

    The nonsense continued. Great, influential people like Nikola Tesla (who invented AC current) made it low on the list (#97) while others, like Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, and Tom Cruise made it higher (when did they become great?).

    So, my suggestion is, don't watch it. It makes a travesty, sham, mockery--traveshamockery--of what makes an American, a human, truly great. When the great roll call in the sky is called, I think we will all recognize that Alexander Hamilton, a founding father, father of our economic system, is far greater than #85 (twenty spots lower than Michael Jackson). He was a great American.

    More Vietnam

    Well, it's official, my wife's leaving me. Not for good--just for the summer. She got permission from the USA government to travel(she's applying for permanent residency) and will spend about two months in Vietnam. It'll be good for her to see fam and friends again. I, on the other hand, must stay in the states and work and apply to medical school. Too bad I can't go with. Sure would be more fun than being here...

    The Rice Bowl

    Spent the morning reading through a bunch of refuse, i.e. blogs by expats in Vietnam. Most were in Saigon, although a couple made it to the poet city of Hanoi. Honestly, such a waste of time. But maybe not! I found (after two hours) The Rice Bowl, a decently written blog by an english teacher in Saigon.

    I think I will keep reading this one to see if it's quality is genuine--but regardless--it's better than all I scanned this morning.

    And, check out her post on Miss Vietnam. It's fitting that Vietnam would have something like this happen...

    Friday, June 03, 2005

    Legends of the Fall

    When I first heard that Kofi Annan had fired Joseph Stephanides I knew something was wrong. Now it appears my gut was right.

    Just look at the situation. If you were at the top of the UN, and the top of the Oil-for-Food scandal, and the commission sent to investigate you is now suspect (at best), what should you do?

    Why, incriminate those not capable of defending themselves. You see, Volker's commission looks to me like political hogwash, and I think those who have read it and the memos around it will agree. Any trust I had for Paul Volker (not much) is definitely gone.

    So, since that's falling apart, and the world again is saying it's all Annan's fault (being the highest ranking person with knowledge of the crime), why not fire and incriminate those people who could possibly give testimony to incriminate you? This puts their later words and actions suspect, and you get two years or so of freedom to put you house in order, finish your term as U.N. Secretary General, and move off to some island in the Carribbean.

    Everyday I feel more and more that the U.N. is a waste of our time.

    Lost Dumas novel hits French bookshelves

    I am a great fan of classical books. Sometimes I feel the true art of writing was lost after world war II. So many books fly through Barnes & Noble these days that I feel like sifting through all the junk mail for my pay check every time I go to a bookstore and try to find a truly great book.

    A large part of this rests on the antiquated model of book selling publishers adhere to. Today, in the Wall Street Journal, there's a good article addressing this dilemma.
    Returns are the dark side of the book world, marking not only failed expectations, but the crippling inefficiencies of an antiquated business. It's a problem that's only getting worse. The industry's current economic model pushes publishers to generate a small number of blockbuster hits. But picking winners is a quixotic enterprise, and as publishers ship an ever-increasing number of books to stores, hoping to hit the jackpot every time, stores are sending an ever-increasing number back.

    In 2003, 34% of adult hardcover books were returned to publishers, compared with 28% in 1993, says Albert N. Greco, a professor at the Fordham Graduate School of Business and a leading industry statistician.

    ...Worst of all, the increasing rate of returns has helped ignite a destructive cycle. So many books come back that publishers say they have raised prices to compensate for the anticipated lost revenue. That in turn makes many books harder to sell, creating more returns. Between 1985 and 2003, hardcover book prices rose 118%, far outpacing the 71% gain in the Consumer Price Index during that period, according to Fordham's Mr. Greco.

    ...his kind of retailing has led to an ever-shortening shelf life for bestsellers. Most stores promote new books for only one or two weeks. Authors who might have remained on the best-seller list 10 to 12 weeks a decade ago now often stay only six to eight weeks. This phenomenon has been exacerbated by publishers themselves, who are publishing ever more books each year in search of hits. That pushes other titles off the shelves more quickly.

    Ultimately, unless a book comes highly recommended, I turn the the old authors, and Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, has a new book printed in French. As soon as it comes to English, I'll buy it.

    Economics at George Mason University

    Stumbled across this blog, Marginal Revolution, written by two economics professors at George Mason University. I've found the first couple articles interesting.

    Avian flu site

    Stumbled across a good website for any reader interested in medicine or the Avian Bird flu at Avianflu. Particularly interesting to me is the Vietnam section, since Vietnam did such a great job curbing SARS when it originally broke, and my lovely wife (the "Vietnamese Iron Chef" we call her) just got her travel documents allowing her to go back there while her permanent residency papers are being processed.

    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    The 49ers used to be my favorite

    football team when I was a child... but that's because they had Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and red & gold uniforms.

    Now, I must say, we see the sad state of pro football in the San Francisco Chronicle. This tape, made by PR director Kirk Reynolds (now resigned), is obviously crude and crass. Made for a friend by a friend, it would be okay. I wouldn't agree with its contents, but it would be a private thing. However, this is an official tape or the 49ers. I don't care if the locker room is "like a fraternity" (cornerback Mike Rumph). This is shown to new recruits and characterizes the pro football scene as racist and sexual.

    I think the game would suffer from less problems, and be played/run better, if people higher-up actually treated players like business associates and not just dumb jocks who want to play football and get their rocks off. I know not all players are like that, but obviously the bad apples spoil the whole basket. If coaches truly demanded strict professionalism from players whenever "at work," there would be a couple pissed off players who can't throw tantrums and pitty-parties, or crude end-zone dances, but they would be pushed out of the league by not conforming and getting old.

    The new generation would understand better that their abilities are a gift, a gift that allows them to be hired by great companies, but with that job comes real responsibility, not just scoring touchdowns. It's time for the NFL to truly become like any other corporation. Crass comments to superiors, in the presentation room, or coming to or leaving from work on a whim would all get an employee fired. Such should also be the case in the NFL. It would solve a lot of headache and heartburn.

    San Fran will apologize for this and then do nothing. The climate won't change, and the problem will resurface in the future.

    Religion in the Court Room

    Eugene Volokh posts about the judge who is offering drug and alcohol offenders the option of going to church instead of jail or rehab.

    He argues that this is a clear violation of the establishment clause. Since Eugene has no comments on this post, I decided to put a response here.

    First, I'm not sure I agree with the Kentucky judge. From my personal experience, going to church seems like an easy way to get out of breaking a law, albeit a misdemeanor.

    Second, I don't think this violates the Establishment clause. The Establishment clause has been interpreted so many different ways that it is now broad enough to build a house on, or march an army under. Ultimately, the heart of the clause is the separation of church and state for the effect of preserving freedom of religion. Our founders came to America partly for religious freedom, something the king of england had tried to take from them, and this clause disallowed government favoritism. This being said, when a man or woman breaks a crime, he or she forfeits her freedoms--not her civil liberties--because causes must affect effects. Hence, those brought in on drug or alcohol charges must do jail or rehab. Period. Giving the perpetrators another option--to go to any worship service regardless of the religion--may be giving the offender an easier way out, but it does not force religion on anyone. Those who break the law, if not wishing to go to any church, receive the same punishment they always would have.

    If the judge had ordered them to go only to an Episcopalian church, something would be wrong. Or if he said they must go--no jail or rehab allowed--that would be wrong also. But he does none of these things. You, me, bob down the street, and mr. drinker who stands in front of the judge, still have the freedom to choose our religion. We aren't benefitted monetarily by joining one or the other. We don't gain political status.

    Ultimately, churches, organizations that purposely try to change people, might accomplish what prison often does not--reform the criminal. In that regard we should give this thought a try. No matter what, your and my civil liberties and freedom to choose a religion are in no way hampered by this decision.