Wednesday, April 30, 2008

TF Agrees with Me

Tom Friedman is one of my favorite writers. Today, in the NYT, he comments on the "Gas Tax Suspension" proposed by Ms. Clinton and Mr. McCain. I commented on it the other day:

Friedman bashes this foolish strategy and equates it to "money laundering". Furthermore, he points out on very disturbing fact about our wonderful Congress.

....When Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any
stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their
credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I
am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into
clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies.

And for those of you that don't care about alternative energy at this point, with the economy suffering, etc (although I assure you that the high price of fuel is partially responsible for the contraction in GDP), maybe you will like this fact regarding jobs and investment growth:

If the wind and solar credits expire, said Resch, the impact in just 2009
would be more than 100,000 jobs either lost or not created in these industries,
and $20 billion worth of investments that won’t be made.

Next time you scoff at some type of additional clean energy source, think about it as you pay you home heating bill (oil or nat gas) or fill up your car. A viable fuel source that would be a competitor to oil-derived products would be the only way to get prices down. Until, then OPEC and these fuel-rich countries have us wrapped around their fingers.

Follow the Wisdom of Brown

I forgot to mention one more gas saving tip...make only RIGHT hand turns. This is effective particularly in big cities when there is lots of oncoming traffic that causes you to wait to turn against. In fact, UPS has just reported that their drivers in L.A. will only make right hand turns from now on. Here is the video of the story.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Here is a great video montage from President Bush's press conference on the economy today. I am not going to blame GW for the current state of the economy. I believe the President actually has little control and impact on the actual strength or weakness of the economy. We are in a phase that was induced by a huge housing bubble, inproper mortgage lending to high-risk borrowers, improper financing of these mortgages by the investment banks, a weakening dollar, and probably also just a component of the natural ebb and flow of the economy (some believe the economy runs in 7 year cycles...the last recession was 2000-2001).

Anyway, I will post this video from MSNBC of the Bush speech, with FACTS from the Associated Press and other credible governmental and independent agencies sprinkled in. Even independent of the "facts", this speech is one of the most poorly delivered that I have ever seen. Why don't you be the judge....

Monday, April 28, 2008

No Barbies, No Homosexuals, ? Nuclear Weapons

Iran has done it again. First came the ridiculous assertion that there were no homosexuals in Iran. Please watch the video of president Ahmadenijad's visit to Columbia to see this if you have missed it.

Now, top officials in Iran are condemning the importation of Western toys and dolls, such as Barbie. Although this is sad, it doesn't surprise me at all. In fact, Saudi Arabia outlawed Barbie dolls in 2003.

Another problem with Barbie is the unrealistic expectations for body proportions. The old Barbie used to have ridiculous proportions: 36 inches (chest), 18 inches (waist) and 33 inches (hips). Fortunately, after many years of public outcry, Mattel increased the waist size of the Barbie doll a few years ago. Researchers in the UK actually did a study comparing the proportions of Barbie and Ken to the general population. The probability of Barbie's body measurements in real life were 1 in 100,000. For Ken's physique, it was a slightly more realistic 1 in 50.

Of note, a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine today aims to dispell the "Fit but fat" theory. They found that even highly active overweight and obese women were are much higher risk (54 and 87%, respectively) for the development of heart disease, compared to non-overweight women with the same level of activity.

But, don't fret chocolate-loving women. A new study also indicates that eating chocolate decreases the risk of complications associated with pregnancy.

And, a size 14 voluptuous woman has made it to the finals of the Miss England beauty contest. This is great news, and hopefully, this will help to reverse the disturbing trend over the past 20+ years of the acceptance and admiration of rail-thin models. Bring on the curves...

More on Mouthwash

The mouthwash piece I posted the other day wasn't exactly new news or rocket science. However, I've been alerted to a potential complication from non-alcohol containing mouthwash such as Crest Pro-Health. It appears that several users have developed BROWN staining, mostly between the teeth from using this product. And, some users developed a diminution in taste.

Check out the link with the testimonials:

Buyer beware!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fuel Price Crunch

Gas prices are extremely high right now. It appears that the high prices are causing people to buy less SUVs and more economy vehicles.

There is also a video from a fuel expert on on how to save money on fuel costs. His primary recommendations are to drive less, carpool, lump errands together, give the smaller car to whomever drives the most in the family, etc.

Other useful tips that I have learned about from a group called the "hypermilers" are the following:

1. Tailgating- Drag the vehicle (preferably a tractor-trailer) in front of you on the highway to cut down wind resistance. They follow the preceding car by about 1 second difference, rather than the 4 seconds that is generally considered safe. This was actually tested out on the show Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel. They found that fuel efficiency was increased by an exponential function as the trailing distance decreased from 200 feet to 2 feet. The gain was approximately 4-5% at 200 feet behind a tractor-trailer, and increased to about 41% in fuel efficiency at 2 feet.

Of note, they also tested whether driving with the "windows down/AC off" or "windows up/AC on" is more fuel efficient. Initially, it appeared that "windows up/AC on" was superior (according to the MPG digital reading), but upon a retest with a more accurate method the windows down method was slightly superior in terms of fuel efficiency.

2. Overinflate the tires- this can increase fuel-efficiency by 1.4% for every 1 PSI increase

3. Drive at constant speeds- fairly obvious...avoid rapid acceleration/deceleration cycles

4. Pulse and glide- glide in neutral when the slope of the road allows (keeping the transmission engaged causes braking)

5. Coasting to a stop (in neutral)

6. Parking on a hill facing down-hill (when need to move again, can just put the car in neutral and just start rolling without starting the engine)

I don't advocate some of these manuevers, as some are unsafe (particularly tailgating and coasting). If you are in neutral and suddenly need to accelerate, you will lose a second or two until the transmission re-engages.

Of note, there is a condition called "Nempimania", which is an obsession with getting the best fuel economy possible from a hybrid car.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Good and Bad Week

It's a good week for:

1. James Karl Buck and technology, as he was able to post a one-word blog to alert his friends that he had been arrested in Egypt. Gotta love bloggers!

2. Ted Kemp and his golf clubs, as he hit back-to-back hole-in-one shots on a golf course in Iowa. The odds of this feat? 67 million to one. I hope he also bought a lotto ticket this week.;_ylt=AkEFJLUoMdKloB4I.TGgfVQDW7oF

3. Humans, as researchers from Stanford University found that humans were almost wiped out into extinction about 75,000 years ago. They estimate that the population was probably no more than 2,000 humans in a small region in Africa before drought let up and the population flourished again. It still amazes me that the human population has proliferated to this amount in 2008 despite living in an era of constant wars, natural disasters, and living without electricity or modern medicine and antibiotics for the vast, vast majority of existence.

It's a bad week for:

1. Trespassing on a coal mine- a man that was trespassing on the grounds of a coal mine fell 500 feet down a shaft, onto a rock ledge. Amazingly, he is still alive.

2. Consumers, as a combination of slow growth and inflation, particularly for the prices of food and fuel, has led to the lowest reading in cosumer sentiment (62.6) since 1982. Before this alarms you, remember, things can only get BETTER, and typically readings this low mark the bottom of the stock market and the start of a strong bull market (look at the chart since 1982).

3. Believers in extraterrestial life, as unexplained strange lights seen over Arizona this past week were determined to be flares attached to floating balloons. Sorry ET lovers.*-

Gas Tax Suspension

Hillary Clinton and John McCain want to suspend gas taxes for the summer. Barrack Obama is against this notion. I have to agree with Obama...suspending gas taxes for the summer is a complete gimmick that will do nothing towards leading us on a path to cosume less fossil fuels. And, as Obama points out, eliminating these taxes will take away money needed for our roads and highways.

Finally, taking away gas taxes will only encourage people to drive MORE. We need to increase conservation and put our efforts into other sources of energy, and increase the production of hybrid-type vehicles.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Found a good article on mouthwash from It brings up a great question...does mouthwash make your breath better or worse?

I know this sounds ridiculous, but Listerine, the most popular mouthwash, contains 26.9% alcohol. And, while alcohol facilitates dissolving some of the flavor oils, it also dries out the mouth. Saliva helps "wash away" bacteria, thus a dry mouth is a fertile area for bacteria.

So, what to do? I've written about flossing before ( and , but I will iteriate. Remember to floss to get the food that gets trapped between your teeth, use an electric toothbrush, and scrape or brush your tongue. And, although I haven't really tried them, you can try one of the non-alcohol containing mouthwashes. Post a comment if you have tried one of them.

Free Trade

I do not like the protectionism rhetoric spewed out by Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. It is an archaic way of thinking, and would be destructive to many "emerging" world countries and would be further destructive to the image of the United States.

It is free trade that have allowed so many people to gain middle class status in South America, Eastern Europe, and "Chindia" (China and India). The more stable countries around the world become, the more stable the world is geopolitically, and its also the humane thing to do. People in these countries depend on exporting their goods to the other countries so that they can make a living. Shutting down free trade would be akin to intentionally starving poor people around the world.

Check out this article from Nick Kristoff, a much more intelligent and effective writer than me, and his thoughts on the topic, with a poignant story on Columbia workers.

Remember what a decrease in free trade will do to you individually as well. Prices for goods and products will only go UP, because of a lack of competition from here and abroad.

Also, in a related sense, I am tired about hearing that we (the U.S.) is losing too many jobs to outsourcing. We actually INSOURCE more jobs than we outsource. The National Center for Policy Analysis estimates that insourcing led to the creation of 6.4 million new jobs within the United States over the past 5 years, compared to only 3.3 million outsourced jobs. Insourced jobs pay 16.5 percent more than the average domestic job, and one-third of them are in the manufacturing sector. These include plants that assemble German and Japanese automobiles and produce pharmaceuticals.

New York and California are two of the states that benefit most from insourcing:

Who doesn't like shopping at a place like Ikea (and eating their Swedish meatballs)? Well, it wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for insourcing.

Economist Martin N. Baily, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton, looked at who benefits from outsourcing. He found that for every $1 spent by a U.S. corporation on outsourcing to India, only 33 cents stayed in India. The other 67 cents came back to the United States in the form of cost savings, new exports and repatriated profits. However, productivity gains add another 45 cents to 47 cents of value to the U.S. economy. Thus, on balance, the U.S. economy gains $1.12 to $1.14 for every $1 invested in outsourcing.

I think I do think we should fix is the loopholes for companies going offshore. Make it a level playing field. Taxes must be paid by U.S. companies even if they move most operations "offshore" to escape Uncle Sam. That simply is not fair.

In conclusion, don't believe the hype. We don't need to shut down free trade. No protectionist strategies. Free and fair trade for the world, for peace and prosperity.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Medical Updates

A smattering of medical news:

Good news for:

1. Yappers, as a new study demonstrates that cell phones don't lead to brain tumors.

2. Saggy breasts, as a new study demonstrates that mammograms are beneficial after the age of 80. This is surprising, but for people in good health, chronological age may be irrelevant.

Bad News for:

1. Poor people in the US, as a study demonstrates that life expectancy in poor areas of the country is declining, due to smoking and obesity.;_ylt=AlWOqQImtf2J3v.vnT53NC7VJRIF

2. People living in Los Angeles, as a new study demonstrates that smog leads to premature death.;_ylt=AnV4pa1Z0otKo7sNTE3_phbVJRIF

3. Surviving cancer and having a 2nd chance on life, as a new study shows that cancer survivors as just as obese and physically inactive as the general population.

Hillary Wins PA- The Race Goes On

According to all of the major news services, with only 12% of the vote in, Hillary Clinton has won the highly anticipated battle over Pennsylvania. Although Obama has an insurmountable lead over Hillary in pledged delegates, there are still a significant fraction of uncommitted superdelegates. The argument from the Obama camp is that the superdelegates should vote the way of the pledged delegates. But, that argument is faulty, for the entire reason that the superdelegates were put into place were to exercise their own judgement and vote that way. In this regard, Hillary has won some of the larger states, and a win in PA coupled with wins in either Indiana (possible) or North Carolina (doubtful) would give her tremendous momentum. Thus, if the superdelegates feel that she has the better chance of winning the general election, they should vote that way, irrespective of the pledged delegates. Of course, this would lead to complete mayhem and cause a wild Democratic convention, and I love chaos.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

26 Toilet Mansion

Did you hear about this planned mansion in Greenwich? It is going to contain 26 toilets. Neighbors are protesting the building of these mammoth house and plumbing extravaganza.

Check out the video:

I wonder if all of the toilets will be traditional toilets? Do you think some will have bidets? Will they be those new green toilets that have two flush settings, one for #1 (less water used to flush) and one for #2 (more water)? I really cannot believe it is 2008, we have all this technology, yet dual-flush are not omnipresent. It makes so much sense. There could also be a third setting for those times after you were at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

I've been meaning to blog about toilets ever since I got back from Greece and since two of my friends got back from Egypt.

Here are my completely random thoughts:

1. Why don't we have bidets? The French, who are not known as the "cleanest" folk on the Earth, use them and love them. Why not Americans?

2. Where does the waste from airplane toilets go?

3. I don't like the plumbing system in Greece (can't flush the toilet paper).

4. I can't believe there are so many places in the world that don't even have toilet paper. The left-hand deal is completely gross. Now, I've been informed that the way this is done (pitcher of water next to the toilet, cup the hand, fill with water, and wash) is actually quite sanitary, but it's just not my cup of tea. Let me know how you would feel about this. I understand, from talking to my Indian friends, that when relatives come to the U.S. from India, they insist on the left-hand water pitcher method and refuse to use toilet paper.

5. The VA hospital has very rough toilet paper.

6. Speaking of toilet paper, it has a FASCINATING history.

A. The first known reference to toilet paper is from the 6th century in China.

B. It wasn't until 1857 that the first factory-produced toilet paper was distributed.

C. Before the invention of modern toilet paper, people used a variety of materials to clean their bottom, such as wool, lace or hemp, rags, wood shavings, leaves, grass, hay, stone, sand, moss, water, snow, maize husks, fruit skins, or seashells (ouch!), and cob of the corn depending upon the country and weather conditions or social customs. In Ancient Rome, a sponge on a stick was commonly used, and, after usage, placed back in a bucket of saltwater.

D. The first two-ply toilet paper was produced until 1942

7. There are two common methods of installing toilet paper rolls on a toilet roll holder, either overhand or underhand. The first method of installation, overhand, has the edge of the roll facing away from the wall and commonly facing the toilet. This method allows the defecator easy access to grab the toilet paper and pull off the desired amount of paper, as the roll spins toward the user. Since the industry designs toilet paper to be used overhand, designs that are patterned, quilted or printed upon toilet paper are found on the outside of the roll; i.e. so that it is displayed. The second method of installation, underhand, has the edge of the roll facing the wall and commonly facing away from the toilet. This method makes it a bit more difficult for the defecator to grab the toilet paper: as the roll spins, it spins away from the user. However, there is an advantage to this method in a household with toddlers, as is makes it less likely that toilet paper will spin off the roll. This is because a toddler is most likely to spin the roll toward himself (or herself). In the case of this installation, as the roll spins toward the toddler, the paper remains wound on the roll. Yet another advantage of this method is that when the toilet paper is folded directly from the roll, it allows the embossed or printed side of the paper to face out.

8. From what I learned from my friends, if you travel to Egypt, prepare to deal with very unsanitary bathrooms, that often involved stepping in excrement, no toilet paper, and no running water. Disgusting.

C'mon George

I have to admit that I missed most of the Democratic Debate last night (not because I wanted to miss it...I was working). It was a crucial debate, as it precedes the mammoth Pennsylvania primary, and probably the final one between Obama and Hillary.

I read some of the recaps, but the major news today is the completely abhorring the performance of the moderators from ABC, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopolous. There are over 17,000 comments posted on the ABC news website, most of them critical of the line of questioning.

Apparently, people are happy about the questions about Obama's pastor and about the Hillary under sniper fire in Bosnia stories. Also, there was a question about why Obama doesn't wear the American flag on his lapel.

Again, I didn't see it, so I will leave it up to you to post comments about what you think, but my short-sighted opinion is that these two have been through 21 (yes, twenty one) debates already, and they have answered the same questions over and over and over again. So, I think these "trivial" issues, as some are griping about, are actually things that voters want to hear about. People want to see what these candidates have to say. They want to see the candidates squirm a bit.

Give George and Charlie a break. They made another potential boring debate a little "spicy". Of note, "The Week with George S" is one of my favorite shows. I DVR it every Sunday morning, and especially love the "Roundtable" segment. He is one of the most intelligent and unbiased interviewers on television.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Masters

I'm watching the Masters, and have some thoughts.

1) Have you noticed how big the club heads have become, particularly the driver? Are the improvements in technology equivalent to the use of steroids in baseball? Remember, the clubs all used to be wood heads with stiff shafts. These days, the metal heads and flexible grafite shafts allow players to generate enormous club speed. That, coupled with the improvement in the aerodynamics in the golf ball, certainly give today's modern players an edge against the records of such former great such as Nickalas, Palmer, Sneed, Hogan, Player, etc.

While the technology makes it more difficult to compare players from different eras, it does not equate to the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. Why? Because in golf, everybody is using the advanced technology and it is legal. In baseball, it is covert and not legal, thus the playing field is not level.

2) I miss Greg Norman, my favorite golfer of all time. His aura was unbelievable. His swagger, his confidence, his blonde locks, his wide shoulders and V-shaped back, his majestic drives. His ability to always compete for the major championships (29 top-ten finishes in Major championships), and his near Shakespearean "tragic-hero" status. What do I mean by this? Simply, Norman had some shocking and unlikely losses in majors, whether it was Bob Tway holing an 18th hole shot from the bunker in the 1986 PGA Championship or Larry Mize's chip in from 45 feet in the playoff of the 1987 Masters. In addition, Norman had some major chokes of his own, most notably, the 1996 Masters in which he held a 6-shot lead going into Sunday, but shot a 78 and ended up losing by 5 strokes.

His estimated net worth is about $500 million, but I bet he would give up a huge chunk of it to have a few more of those Major championships under his belt (his only 2 Major wins were the 1986 and 1993 British Opens). I seriously worried about him committing suicide at one point. He was never the same after that loss in the 1996 Masters.

3) Augusta is a beautiful golf course. Of note, however, they still do not allow women to be members (and finally allowed a black member in 1990).

4) Caddyshack is still such a great movie. One of Chevy Chases 3 great movies (Vacation and Fletch, the other 2) in a now washed-up career. Rodney and Bill Murray were obviously hilarious in their roles as well.

5) Tiger won't win today, but he is more dominant than any other athelete ever (more than Jordan, Brady, Jim Brown) perhaps since Babe Ruth.

Embrace Nuclear Energy

A great piece in Newsweek the story of Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, who was once a vehement opponent of nuclear energy, and now has become one of its largest supporters.

The bottom line is that with today's technology, nuclear energy is so much cheaper and cleaner than fossil fuels to produce energy. That seems like a win-win to me. We must get over the worries about the waste ASAP. Why don't we fire the waste into outer space via a rocket? We must and stop destroying the earth with comsumption of fuel and coal, and get onboard with this clean technology. This will also help reduce the foolishness of funding of countries that sponsor terrorism with our payments for oil.

Please read the link and interview of Mr. Moore by Fareed Zacharia (one of my favorite authors and political writers). He brings up many salient points that will convince you too.


Many readers of this blog have forwarded me the link to the story about Randy Pausch, a professor of computer science at Carnagie Mellon University. He was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which in 99% of cases, is fatal within about 1 year of diagnosis.

I cannot do justice to his lectures and his words, you will have to watch these clips for yourself. He is an amazing man, with an incredible outlook and perspective on life. There several more clips, so after you watch the first one, be sure to keep on clicking on the rest.

It is great that he is embracing his remaining time on Earth, and still strives to have a positive effect on as many people as he can before his succombs to his disease. It seems he has no fear of death and discourages anyone to pity him (watch the part when he does push-ups on stage during his lecture).

Regarding Dr. Pausch, it is sad that he will not be able to continue to teach others his lessons for life, and that his kids will not have a father as they grow up. However, the silver lining is that the tragedy of his disease allowed him to have his "last lecture" and allowed him to be interviewed by Diane Sawyer, and allowed his story and speech to be viewed by millions of people, and thus, will allow his words, attitude, and messages to live well beyond the 40+ more years that he should have lived (in actuarial terms).

Buckley's Protege

As you know, William F. Buckley, the father of conservatism in the U.S., passed away a few weeks ago. George Will, one of Buckley's proteges with the National Review, author of several popular books, weekly guest on "The Week" with George Stephanopolous, and the author of a twice-weekly column in the Washington Post, has a superbly written piece on "Entitlements" today in the Post. It deals with the housing crisis and the knee-jerk reaction for both politicians and the Fed to intervene ASAP. Some of you may not like what he has to say, but read the piece, it actually makes so much sense.

Here are some excerpts:

The proportion of people aged 55 to 64 who are working rose 1.5 percentage points from April 2007 to February 2008, during which the percentage of working Americans older than 65 rose two-tenths of one percentage point. The Journal grimly reports, "The prospect of millions of grandparents toiling away in their golden years doesn't square with the American dream."

Oh? The idea that protracted golden years of idleness is a universal right is a delusion of recent vintage. Deranged by the entitlement mentality fostered by a metastasizing welfare state, Americans now have such low pain thresholds that suffering is defined as a slight delay in beginning a subsidized retirement often lasting one-third of the retiree's adult lifetime.

He is right on here. With life expectancy longer in the 21st century, why is everyone trying to retire so much earlier? Won't people be bored with 30+ years of retirement? Isn't the mental stimulation good? (Numerous studies have now demonstrated that mental stimulation can prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease). To wit, Will goes on to say:

In 1935, when Congress enacted Social Security, protracted retirement was a luxury enjoyed by a tiny sliver of the population. Back then, Congress did its arithmetic ruthlessly: When it set the retirement age at 65, the life expectancy of an adult American male was 65. If in 1935 Congress had indexed the retirement age to life expectancy, today's retirement age would be 75.

Regarding the housing crisis, Will goes on to say:

By one measure, between the beginning of 2000 and the middle of 2006, as the consumer price index was rising 21 percent, average housing prices rose 93 percent -- and much more in some markets (Miami 180 percent, Los Angeles 175 percent, Washington, D.C., 150 percent).

Not long ago there was broad agreement that too much of Americans' wealth was tied up in the nation's housing stock, and that the principal impediment to homeownership was not a scarcity of cheap mortgages but the prevalence of high housing prices. Hence deflation of housing prices would be desirable.

So far during this "crisis," the homeownership rate has declined just three-tenths of 1 percent since it peaked in 2004. At 67.8 percent, it remains higher than it was when President Bill Clinton left office.

Subprime mortgages are a small minority of mortgages, and only a minority of subprime borrowers are not making their payments. Casting this minority of a minority as victims of "predatory" lending fits the liberal narrative that most Americans are victims of this or that sinister elite or impersonal force, and are not competent to cope with life's complexities without government supervision.

The politics of this may, however, be more complex than the compassion chorus supposes. The 96 percent of mortgage borrowers who are fulfilling their commitments, often by scrimping, may be grumpy bystanders if many of the other 4 percent -- those who found the phrase "variable rate" impenetrably mysterious -- are eligible for ameliorations of their obligations.

He is right again. We needed housing prices to come down. It was getting too expensive for younger people to get into houses. And the whole "subprime meltdown" really only involves a fraction of the population. Letting some people off the hook, as some of the presidential candidates are suggesting, would simply not be fair to the people who are working hard and making sure they do not default on their mortgages.

These types of bailouts (including policies that easily forgive declaration of bankruptcy), will only increase "moral hazard". I don't really understand why bankruptcy is allowed. Why should someone who makes many foolish financial decisions, and extends themselves far beyond their means, have all of their debt forgiven, or be bailed out by the government? Bail-outs only encourage more risky behavior in the future by the same and other individuals. The same can apply to the Bear Stearns bail-outs. Since when is the government supposed to prevent individual institutions and corporations from going under?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kidney Transplants

An amazing feat at Johns Hopkins today. They transplanted 6 kidneys into recipients simultaneously. You can read about why this happened in the following article:

I want to briefly mention my thoughts on organ transplantation. As you know, there is a shortage of organs, especially livers and kidneys. Every year, thousands of people die while on the waiting list for these organs. The demand far exceeds the supply.

For the majority of patients with kidney failure who do not have a suitable match from a relative or friend, they become relegated to the miserable life of dialysis while they hope that someone, who is a good match and is an organ donor, dies in a hospital and in a manner that allows expeditious harvesting of their kidneys.

Kidney transplantation allows an individual with kidney failure a new lease on an independent life, without having the shackles of needing to spend at least 12 hours (4 hours three times weekly) in a dialysis unit for blood purification. Individuals who are eligible for peritoneal dialysis can do this procedure at home and perform exchanges of fluid into their abdominal cavity via plastic tubing and via a machine that is hooked up to the tubing overnight while the patient sleeps. Regardless, neither traditional hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis allow for a "normal" life. Kidney transplantation liberates people from these devices.

How can we increase the donor pool? My suggestions would be the following:

1. Make one's organ donation status "yes" unless one specifically requests not to be an organ donor. This is an "opt-out" rather than "opt-in" strategy.

2. Make the receiving of a kidney (or other organ) dependent on the potential recipient being an organ donor themselves. How can one expect to receive an organ from a stranger, when they have not registered to do the same for another person themselves? Since altruism doesn't seem to provide enough impetus, this type of rule would markedly encourage people to become an organ donor as an insurance policy for themselves, should they ever be in need of an organ transplant.

Do you agree?

But How Did He Fare in the Swimsuit Competition?

OK, remember the story I posted about the folks in Dubai paying millions for "low number" license plates?

Well, these guys have so much money, that they also spend millions of dollars on camels, that are chosen at a "camel beauty contest". There were 17,000 camels entered into the contest. The top camel fetched 2.7 million dollars. I cannot believe this. Read this excerpt about how they were judged:

Camels are registered for beauty contest in several categories, defined by age and skin color. The owners of the top three camels in each category split a 2 million price fund and each receive a car from a pool of more than 100 4x4 vehicles and pickup trucks.

Five judges assess the camels' bodies as a whole and their necks, heads, lips, noses, humps, legs and feet separately.

For 2.7 million, that camel better know about geography, or at least where "The Iraq" is located on a map.

Bucker's Fenway Return

Bill Buckner returned to Fenway Park today to a standing ovation while throwing out the first pitch, after staying away for years and living in near isolation in Montana. I saw a piece about him on ESPN about 2 years ago and he looked really depressed.

I'm glad to see that he was received so warmly by the often super-critical Boston fans. As you all recall, Mookie Wilson's little grounder up the first base line in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series went under Buckner's glove and right between his legs, which allowed Ray Knight to score from 2nd base and give the Mets an incredible come from behind win, and propelled the Mets to their decisive game 7 win, continuing the "Curse of the Bambino".

I, for one, think Buckner should have little culpability in that disastrous Red Sox loss. Why?

1. The Mets were down to their final out. The Mets pounded out three straight hits against Calvin Schiraldi (Carter, Mitchell, Knight) to come within one run of the Sox. All Schiraldi had to do was get one of those guys out.

2. Bob Stanley came in to relieve Schiraldi, and, by virtue of a wild pitch, allowed the tying run (Mitchell) to score, and allowed Knight (the eventual winning run) to move up to 2nd base.

3. Stanley could not get the Mookster out, as the "Mook" fouled off 8 or 9 pitches to stay alive.

4. When Mookie finally put the ball in fair territory, the infamous grounder toward Buckner, even if Buckner fielded the ball cleanly, I don't think he beats Mookie to the bag. Mookie was a speed demon and was hopping out of the batter's box from the left side of the plate. Buckner had 2 bum ankles and was playing well back of the 1st base bag. I think he was actually standing on the grass he was so far back. So, Mookie probably would have beat it out anyway.

5. Even if Buckner fields the ball and somehow beats Mookie to the bag, the game was tied at that point, and Mets had so much momentum (and Shea Stadium was absolutely rocking) that the Mets probably win the game later anyway.

So, I'm glad the Boston fans, with 2 recent World Series titles in hand (2004 and 2007) were finally able to show the respect and admiration for Mr. Buckner. He never deserved all that criticism.

Addicting On-line Game

Found this great website that allows you to test your stock picking skills based on "Chartology". Try it out. You start with $100,000 in your account, and then you get to choose between buying, selling, or neither and then it shows you what the stock did over the next 20 or 40 days (your choice) and your account value changes accordingly.

I did 66 trades and ended up with $118, 150.86 before cashing out tonight. Post some of your stats in the comments section.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Water Myths

Many of you are going to love this. A nephrologist at University of Pennsylvania, that some of you many know, Dan Negoianu, published a piece in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology on the Myths of Water Intake. I'm sure many of you have been told to drink "8 glasses of water a day."

Dan debunks four common myths:
1. "Water improves clearance of toxins and improves organ function"- a few studies to examine this effect (or a surrogate of toxin clearance) have not demonstrated this to be the case.

2. "Water makes you feel full and decreases caloric intake"- the few studies examining this have not found this benefit.

3. "Water intake decreases headache"- the one study performed found a slight decrease in the number of hours of headache in the group that drank more water, but it did not reach statistical significance

4. "Water drinking improves skin tone"- no evidence

The authors' closing statement:

Although we wish we could demolish all of the urban myths found on the Internet regarding the benefits of supplemental water ingestion, we concede there is also no clear evidence of lack of benefit. In fact, there is simply a lack of evidence in general. Given the central role of water not only in our bodies but also in our profession, it seems a deficit worthy of repletion.

The news from this article is all of the news wires and networks:

Before all of you stop drinking any water now, remember, everything in moderation. As Dr. Goldfarb points out, "A little mild dehydration for the most part is OK, and a little mild water excess for the most part is OK. It's the extremes that one needs to avoid."

And, people with a history of kidney stones certainly need to drink lots of water to prevent recurrent stone formation. If your thirsty, you need water. And remember that caffeine is a weak diuretic, thus caffeinated drinks can actually make you thirstier. Finally, we all need to drink fluids with meals. If are trying to watch your calorie intake, soft drinks contain loads of empty calories, so water is a great way to avoid unnecessary calorie intake.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Amazing Feats

1. Ok, maybe my title is a bad pun for this first "Amazing Feat", but check out this video of Dustin Carter. He is a high school wrestler whose record is 41-2. The amazing part? He has only stumps for arms and legs. Unbelievable. I guess part of his success has to be attributed to his VERY low center of gravity, but it still is inspirational.

2. I am always enthralled by people who summit Mt. Everest, and realize it's difficulty for even skilled and well-conditioned athletes, but I can't wait to see this documentary about 6 blind teenagers climbing Mt. Everest.

3. Have you seen the Lebron James Powerade commercial where he sinks 3/4 and full court shots? Well, it appears that Kevin Love of UCLA, can make these shots with ease. Watch him warming up last weeking during the NCAA tourney.