Seriously considering filling my pockets with glitter, and whenever someone near me says something really stupid or rude, I’ll just reach into my pocket with a dead expression, release the glitter into the sky above their head, and watch it shower over them like a baptism of stupid.
On Monday, the Huffington Post published a piece cautioning diners on putting lemon wedges in their water glasses. Titled “This Will Make You Never, Ever Want To Put A Lemon Wedge In Your Water Again”, the article quotes a research study from the Journal of Environmental Health, where researchers swabbed the outside of fresh lemons and found 70% of them produced microbial growth. The samples were collected as soon as a beverage was served, before drinking or touching, thus reducing possible contamination from other sources. The article then goes into excruciating detail about the types of contamination and some of the bacteria and fungi isolated from the rind of lemon wedges.
The article is clearly written to produce the “wow” scare factor that will capture headlines and the attention of viewers. The problem? Somewhere near the end of the article, the authors speak with an expert from NYU Medical Center who notes that the risk of actually getting sick is “decidedly small.” According to the expert, “you can’t live in a bubble. Your immune system is usually pretty good.”
This article is everything I hate about how ridiculously germ phobic we’ve become as a nation. As the article states, the likelihood of getting sick from a slice of lemon is essentially negligible. Of course, they bury that lead in order to feed into the culture of germophobic fear mongering that is pervasive in this country. Our parents’ generation was constantly dirty as children, rolling around in dirt, mud, dust, etc. They weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, and most of them did just fine.
The real problem with the article is that they hardly highlight the fact that the reason the lemons are likely contaminated is because of unsanitary food handling practices – poor practices that also likely occurred during the preparation of meals. Meals that will ultimately contain a much higher bacterial load and therefore much more likely to make you sick. The greater public health disaster then is not the tiny amount of bacteria on your lemon wedge, but the mountain of bacterial that likely contaminated the side salad that came with your entree. So you can probably continue to enjoy the lemon slice (as the article points out, just squeeze the juice into your drink and don’t drop the rind in if you’re really that worried), because you may actually want to think twice about your actual meal.
You might be the jerk of the week if you happen to be the CEO of Bayer, who made the following statement with regard to the pharmaceutical company’s responsibility to produce drugs.
But the quote really does generate the obvious question. What exactly is a pharmaceutical company’s responsibility? As corporations, are drug companies solely responsible to profits and shareholders or do they have some responsibility to produce life-saving drugs that might not make them money? Do pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to provide drugs to those in third world countries who can’t afford them? I personally have an opinion on the matter, but curious to hear what the rest of you think.
you might be the jerk of the week if you happen to be Representative Steve Stockman (R-Texas) and tweeted the following…
I love when our politicians clearly add fuel to fire instead of trying to come up with bipartisan solutions. Really helpful.
If you have any thoughts for Representative Stockman, you can find his Facebook page here, tweet to him @StockmanSenate, or contact him directly at (202) 225-1555, at his office in Washington DC (326 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 or on his website.
Yes, those of us who live in Boston and actually use the MBTA for public transportation would love to see extended hours on buses and subways throughout our city. It would be life altering.
It would also be completely idiotic, and I’m glad to see I’m not alone in my thoughts. Joseph Levendusky wrote an opinion piece in yesterday’s Boston Globe highlighting precisely why extending service hours on the MBTA is a poor choice. Levendusky echoed my sentiments from an earlier post when I said that the MBTA
…shouldn’t even be entertaining the idea of extended hours until the agency can offer frequent, efficient, reliable, and sustainable service to the areas it currently serves – and without a negative operating margin. Without those fixes in place, public transportation service during extended hours will be subject to the same delays, inconsistencies and breakdowns, and will be yet another source of discontent with the MBTA for Bostonians.
Seriously, if you think late night service with the way the MBTA is currently run is a good idea, then you should hop onto Twitter and search for #mbtaannoy. The MBTA should be focusing on fixing what it currently has before overextending itself. Levendusky’s comments are perfectly stated too, noting that
Now is the time for our political and transportation leaders to focus on presenting comprehensive plans to address crowding and service issues that are currently infuriating T riders, and to sketch out a vision of the MBTA of the future. Our Commonwealth’s competitiveness and our quality of life will not by improved by a T that is open late unless the T first succeeds at the core mission of providing quality service during traditional hours of operation.
I posted some of the following on Facebook yesterday but I’m going to add a little bit here.
here’s my take on the Duck Dynasty guy’s comments:
1) are we really surprised that he’s a homophobe?
2) there have always been and will always be closed minded people out there who don’t like another group of people for whatever reason, whether it be for religious reasons or otherwise. they must carry the burden of being wrong for the rest of their lives. unfortunately, learning to ignore the bigoted musings of one man or woman is the burden the rest of us must carry.
But ultimately I’m not really sure why this is a controversy. So some guy with a show on A&E thinks homosexuality is wrong… what’s the big deal? Why is that so controversial? It’s certainly not a new sentiment, people have been saying this for years. Nor is the Duck Dynasty guy a true celebrity, or even worse, a political figure/force. What concerns me more is the fact that the majority of Congressman probably agree with him, and they actually have some political power in this country and therefore the ability to do real damage. Let’s not forget that it wasn’t that long ago that a President pushed DOMA through Congress and another President finally affirmed that same sex marriage should be legal.
In addition, to all those people out there claiming that the Duck Dynasty guy’s First Amendment rights are being violated – I suggest you read up on the First Amendment. But if you’re too lazy to do that yourself, the text of the First Amendment is posted for you below.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
As you will see, the First Amendment clearly states that Congress shall make no law that curbs your freedom of speech. Even though in common day we’ve come to understand the First Amendment as a free pass to say whatever we want, the First Amendment does not in fact provide us carte blanche to mouth off. And I’m no constitutional lawyer, but the First Amendment also says nothing of private organizations, of which A&E is one.
Now that I’ve returned to clinical medicine, this article from US News and World Report seemed appropriately well timed. When physicians round in the morning, we often ask our patients how their night went and if they slept okay. Most of the time, they tell us that they had a hard time sleeping – often they wake up due to noise in the hospital or because health care workers are entering their rooms to draw blood or take vitals. We usually joke that “no one comes to the hospital to get a good night’s rest”, “this is a hospital, not a hotel” or “you come to the hospital to get better, but no one lets you sleep!”
Several measures have been introduced to try to make this better, including patient satisfaction metrics including the level of noise patients experience while in the hospital. Increasingly, hospitals are paying attention to the noise levels within their halls. But it seems that waking patients up in the middle of the night to check vitals signs may not only be of minimal value, but may in fact do more harm than intended.
A study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that nearly half of hospitalized patients who are regularly wakened to have vital signs checked fall into extremely low risk categories. Letting low risk patients sleep may actually be better for their health, and doing so would free up nursing time to be spent on sicker patients or double-checking medications and orders to prevent medical errors.
After completing 10 surgeries that day, candlelight mass was a nice moment of relaxation and thought. The busy operative day left little time to think and process the true magnitude of what we had just accomplished. 10 surgeries in one day. Most well run surgical centers in the United States can’t even complete 10 surgeries in one day. Amazing! And exhausting. I don’t remember Father Rick’s homily that night, but I wasn’t surprised that even this candlelight mass was a funeral mass. Father Rick had been away, which meant that the souls of the deceased before us had been waiting for their funeral mass and their salvation.
As always, the number of “bodies” at the funeral mass never correlates with the number of names that Father Rick reads. Although it looked like one body, there were several children under one of the burial shrouds. Every time the shroud is lifted and more than one child is under there, I catch my breath just a little. As I’ve commented before, death in Haiti is all too real and ever present. Despite seeing patients meet untimely ends in the United States, nothing prepares you for what can be an overwhelming sense of death in Haiti. And for all the work we had done that day, here before us lay several who could not be helped or for whom help came too late. And yet, this wasn’t a sad occasion, for there was a great sense of peace at the funeral mass that night. The hymns sung by Father Rick and Sister Judy hang in the night air as a soft, cool breeze makes its way through the chapel windows.
I stayed after Mass to help a group of volunteers bring the bodies over to the morgue. I’ll honestly admit part of me wished I hadn’t, but part of me will never forget what it’s like to carry the body of a lifeless infant and child from the chapel to the truck. As we arrived back at the main entrance of St Damien’s, a woman carrying a baby came out of the hospital and approached our truck. The baby seemed very sick and almost lifeless in her hands. No crying and very little tone. She had been turned away from St. Damien’s because there were no available beds, and she had no clue where to go. The ER physician (Donnie) sprung into action, taking a look at the baby, assessing the situation, and trying to figure out what to do. Thankfully Father Rick was still with us at this point, and he told us to take the baby over to St. Luke’s.
Once again, a feeling of helplessness washed over me. I’m not a pediatrician, and I don’t routinely deal with sick babies. Not knowing what to do or how to help is an incredibly frustrating feeling for any doctor, but particularly for surgeons who are used to jumping in and getting their hands dirty. We transported mom and baby over to St. Luke’s, and Donnie got an IV started thanks to the pediatric nurse in the cholera clinic, started some antibiotics and checked a finger stick for blood glucose. Throughout all of this, the baby hardly moved or made a sound – not a good sign. After what felt like hours but was probably more like 30 minutes, Donnie got the baby situated for admission. We climbed back into the truck and were getting ready to pull out of the gates of St Luke’s.
I would have taken a picture of what happened next if it would have been appropriate, for it would have been a picture that speaks a thousand words about what life is like in Haiti. As the gate of St Luke’s opened, a young man was being helped off of a motorcycle and into a wheelchair to be brought to the Emergency Department. It was clear that he was in poor condition as he could barely stand up and certainly couldn’t walk. To get a ride to the hospital, he had likely given his last few dollars to the motorcycle driver. Not an ambulance ride, but a ride on the back of a motorcycle, clinging helplessly to the driver in the dark on the terrible streets of Port-au-Prince. He had given what meager money he had in order to come to St. Luke’s, where he knew at the very least his care would be free and a doctor would see him. Had he chosen the General Hospital, he may have died sitting in the hallway, waiting to be seen.
And on the street behind the scene of a semi-conscious man being helped into a wheelchair was a UN truck, sitting idly and watching. Watching and not helping, waiting for the motorcycle to move so that the UN soldiers could drive past. Yes, the picture would have said a thousand words. It would be the perfect picture to describe why the Haitian people dislike the United Nations, and it would speak volumes about the poor, the sick, and the desperate in this country.
I’m not normally one to get into a Twitter war with people, but I am all about defending my views. So when I read this tweet (which a follower retweeted) post DOMA decision, I couldnt help myself.
I’m sorry that your life is ruined because marriage equality is being shoved in your face. I’m sure all the LGBT folks out there who constantly have heteronormative culture shoved in their face love knowing that until yesterday they were considered second class citizens. Which I’m pretty sure is what I tweeted back yesterday.
Naturally it took her a day to respond back, at which point she told me that the Bible says so. We then traded jabs about scripture from the Bible, during which I was told that the Old Testament doesn’t matter and that modern Christians are taught to follow the New Testament because Jesus “came back and fixed it”. So apparently we’re just throwing out the Old Testament entirely, although she then countered with the age old god “would have made Adam and Steve” argument – which correct me if I’m wrong is from the Old Testament…
For the record, just because I support marriage equality, doesn’t mean I need a lesson on what’s written in the Bible. I was raised Catholic – I know what’s written in the “Good Book”.
The Hostess company is emerging from bankruptcy after selling off some of its well known products (Wonder Bread to Flower Foods; Devil Dogs and Yodels to McKee Foods) and a take over by private investment firms Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management.
The takeover by Metropoulos and Apollo meant that the Hostess company would retain its signature products, including Twinkies. The company has announced that Twinkies will be returning to store shelves on July 15th. And they are betting that Twinkies will make a huge comeback considering the run on store shelves when the company filed for bankruptcy.
So America can look forward to Twinkies back on store shelves – and even more of them. The company will be delivering products to warehouses that supply retailers, rather than delivering directly to stores, allowing it to reach dollar stores and nearly all convenience stores in the U.S.
Enjoy your expanded waist lines America.
I can’t for the life of me remember which morning it was, but bright and early at 7am Mass, Father Rick read the gospel according to Matthew. The passage that morning was from Matthew 6, which also includes the words to the Our Father.
And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men.
And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
I can’t imagine that this reading was handpicked by Father Rick while I was in Haiti, but the timing was all too appropriate. For I feel that this passage perfectly describes so many of the religious aid groups that travel to Haiti. When you arrive at the gate for the flight to Port-au-Prince, you can spot them immediately (I’m assuming it’s the same everywhere though I’ve only flown out of Miami to go to PAP). They always have matching brightly colored shirts; the “T” in Haiti is often turned into a cross or there is some reference to God/Jesus or they have vaguely religious sounding names like “Helping Hands”.
I fully realize I’m being judgmental (you already knew that – it says so in the blog headline, and yes I realize it’s wrong), but there’s something that bothers me about those shirts. Now, I’m not a total jerk – I know that a) it’s nice to wear matching T-shirts in order to create group unity, b) to have something tangible to remember the experience by, and c) it’s easier to locate everyone when they are wearing a brightly colored T-shirt. But I often wonder what exactly these groups are doing in Haiti. Are they providing medical care? Are they teaching sustainable farming techniques? Are they building houses or infrastructure for clean water and sanitation? For the groups that claim they are “teaching”… what exactly are they teaching?
Or are they doing what so many before them have done? Are they swooping in, imposing their (Christian) views and values, thinking they are superior to/more intelligent than Haitians, and then leaving when the money runs out? What lasting impact are they making? Is the work they are doing sustainable or will it die out once they leave, leaving Haiti no better than when they started?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I highly doubt that every organization is similar to the St Luke’s Foundation and Nos Petit Freres et Soeurs. I doubt that each of these other organizations is making efforts to teach orphaned Haitian teenagers skills that they can market in the future for a job. I doubt that each of these organizations has built a bakery, a restaurant, a brick making factory, a mechanic shop, an auto repair shop, a clothing factory, housing units, three hospitals, multiple clinics, a rehabilitation facility, and multiple schools. I doubt that many of these organizations have created micro-economies within the neighborhoods and towns in which they operate.
I’m probably being harsh, as there are many other groups that go to Haiti that do amazing work. However, sometimes lending a “helping hand” can actually be counter productive; much like the aid that Haiti receives from other countries may be counter productive when Haitians do not control where the aid money flows. But there’s something that bothers me about those matching T-shirts; it’s as if they are like the hypocrites, and the shirts are meant to be flashy in order to broadcast the supposedly good deeds of those wearing them. There is something that bothers me about the “Christian values” being imposed on Haitians, especially since many of those same values often poison the social and political discourse in our own country. For his part, Father Rick does not require Haitians or the volunteers to attend religious services. Non-Christians are equally welcome, and the Catholic values of nurturing the sick and aiding the poor are the only ones that are imposed at St Luke’s.
I can only hope that I’m wrong about those groups. But until proven otherwise, those matching T-shirts are still going to bug me.
So I rarely dance the jig when I hear about a politician deciding not to run for re-election, but this morning’s announcement by Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) was like a gift from baby Jesus.
Although I think this headline is false. Ms Bachmann, I’d like to think you were “done” after your failed attempt to run for President.
This guy may win the award for jerk of the week. Apparently, he thought it would be funny or cute to display a sign reading “Toronto Stronger” at Game 3 of the Bruins-Maple Leafs playoff series. You can imagine that the reaction from Bostonians, Americans elsewhere in the country, and some Canadians was less than pleasant.
Incidentally, the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs in Game 3. So who’s stronger now?
For the record, using the Boston Marathon bombing as a political weapon to argue for or against gun control is completely inappropriate. When Arkansas Representative Nate Bell asked how many Bostonians were cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 the night before the lockdown, social media responded quickly… and Nate Bell found himself apologizing for the “timing” of his unfortunate comments.
Apparently Wayne LaPierre, the Executive Vice President of the NRA, didn’t get the same memo, when he asked today “How many Bostonians wish they had a gun two weeks ago?”
The Boston Marathon bombings are not about gun control or gun ownership or gun freedom. What Bostonians wished for two weeks ago was a swift resolution to a horrifying and terrible event. What Bostonians wished for was peace and safety.
If you want to turn the Newtown tragedy into a gun discussion, that’s fine – although I would argue it’s inappopriate to not include a discussion about mental health in there. But the Marathon bombings were not and are not about guns. They are about terrorism and cowardice. Turning them into a pro or anti-gun weapon is just as cowardly.
Civil unions are scheduled to begin today in Colorado. The Democratic Governors Association was obviously very excited about this historic occasion in the Centennial State when it tweeted the following:
There’s just one problem. Civil unions aren’t equal rights. The very fact that they are separate from marriage means they are not equivalent, otherwise it would be called marriage.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m excited for our brothers and sisters in Colorado who can finally be legally recognized as a couple. And I do think it’s a momentous step in the right direction, especially after Colorado voters banned gay marriage a mere 7 years ago. But the fact remains, as we’ve learned in the past, “separate but equal” is always separate and never equal.