please link to me, I’m not a white male!

Jeff Jarvis writes a great response to the FUD in Steven Levy’s recent column in Newsweek.

It sounds to me that Steven Levy is just parroting a message about the mainstream media’s fears about the Blogosphere’s loud and uncontrollable voice — guess they don’t like having the competition. The irony of it all is that I now consume more MSM than I used to because I read blogs that link to it.

As Jeff might call me, I’m an unwhite male, so if you’d like to further the cause and promote inclusion, which is what bloggers apparently don’t do according to Steven despite Jeff’s many counterexamples, you can feel free to link to me.

kids, just say “no” to drugs

Karl Weckstrom wrote about his psoriasis, drugs, gaming and his son in his blog today that I left a comment on. I’m reposting the comment here in my own blog because I expressed some ideas that I’ve been mulling over in my own head for quite some time. Here’s what I posted:

When I was a kid growing up, a short attention span meant lack of discipline and self-control. I don’t think 20 years has changed that truth one bit, but it’s hard for pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs if they can’t change the perception about it, at least.

Drugs are not going to teach your son, or anyone else, responsibility, discipline and self-control. Strong role-models and solid mentoring might stand a better chance.

When I was growing up, I spent many hours entertaining myself with the most powerful computer that exists even today: my brain. I spent a lot of time learning rules and facts, being hyper-creative learning mythos and creating my own. I’m talking about sessions that could run 12-16 hours — now that’s an attention span. Yes, I’m talking about playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Kids today don’t exercise their brains like we did growing up. They play these virtualized computer games where the imagination is left in meatspace and you only interact with what you can see on screen that some programmer or product manager thought would make the game more compelling. This is way sad, IMHO.

Daniel Goleman writes in his book Emotional Intelligence about impulse control in what he calls “the marshmallow test”:

Just imagine you’re four years old, and someone makes the following proposal: If you’ll wait until after he runs an errand, you can have two marshmallows for a treat. If you can’t wait until then, you can have only one–but you can have it right now. It is a challenge sure to try the soul of any four-year-old, a microcosm of the eternal battle between impulse and restraint, id and ego, desire and self-control, gratification and delay. Which of these choices a child makes is a telling test; it offers a quick reading not just of character, but of the trajectory that child will probably take through life. (pp. 80-81)

Goleman goes on to say that there was a study done in the 1960s testing just this, tracking down the four-year-olds as they graduated from high school. The study showed that the kids who had exhibited the necessary impulse control even at four-years-old showed a “dramatic” difference. “Those who had resisted temptation at four were now, as adolescents, more socially competent: personally effective, self-assertive, and better able to cope with the frustrations of life.”

The book is full of valuable information like this. If you’ve got some time to read, you might want to pick it up — as an adult, I’m learning a lot of things reading the book, too.

The net is that drugs only help eliminate truly physiological barriers to self-improvement, but without the necessary foundation of structure, discipline and fostering of self-control, drugs alone will not bring about behavioral change.

Sick and tired of being sick and tired!

So, for the last two weeks, my family has been pretty sick. It first started out with my older daughter getting sick, then my younger daughter, then my wife, and now me. At first, I thought we were just catching and passing around a cold, but dude, this is no “cold” that’s going around, it’s a pretty bad flu. Check this out, according to the CDC:

However, 103 (45%) of the influenza A ( H3N2 ) viruses tested during the week ending February 12 are most closely related to a newly emerged strain of H3N2 that has been named A/California/7/2004. This strain of H3N2 has been selected for inclusion in the 2005-06 northern hemisphere vaccine.

This explains why my youngest daughter, who was the only one in our family to get a flu shot this season, got sick with the rest of us. If we were “lucky” enough to be exposed to this new strain that wasn’t part of the flu vaccine, it makes a lot of sense.

This flu will kick your ass — high fevers, dry wheezing cough, dehydration, nasal congestion, fatigue and muscle aches. My nose has been running non-stop for the last few days — it’s like there’s a slug masturbating in my sinuses or something. Frankly, I’m just sick and tired of being sick and tired. I want this to stop.

i should’a been a doctor

So, back in July of this year, my youngest daughter Suzanne dislocated her elbow, which is so common that it is referred to as “nursemaid’s elbow” (subluxation of the radial head), when we were at a picnic from swinging her by her arms. I thought I might have been able to successfully manipulate it back in when she was having her bath that night, but since she was still seemingly in pain the next morning, we took her to the Emergency Room at Chilton Memorial Hospital.

I learned several lessons from this whole episode:

Anyone can learn to properly manipulate a child’s dislocated elbow and should, if you want to save yourself money instead of going to a doctor.

From the link above, they say:

Most often, the doctor can just move the elbow back into place. To do this, he or she will gently bend the elbow to a 90 degree angle. The doctor will put his or her thumb over the elbow and apply a bit of pressure while starting to straighten the forearm. You might hear a snap when this happens, but that is to be expected.

Obviously, if you misdiagnose the problem (your child’s injury isn’t nursemaid’s elbow, and instead something more serious) you could do more harm than good. If you misapply the treatment, there’s also a chance you can do more harm than good, too. The correct manipulation for nursemaid’s elbow ought to be something taught in an infant CPR class (which, embarrassingly, I never attended) if it isn’t already.

The medical billing profession is totally out of control.

On the American Academy of Pediatrics website they have a page titled Top Ten Underutilized CPT Codes in Pediatrics, where #8 is:

8) Nursemaid’s elbow is a common occurrence in the pediatric population. Do you know that you can code for the treatment of it? 24640 (closed treatment of radial head subluxation in child, nursemaid elbow, with manipulation) is a “starred” procedure, which means that the code only covers the surgical procedure, not the evaluation and management that may be included. This means that you can list 24640 in addition to the evaluation and management code. Additionally, you should attach the -57 modifier (decision for surgery) to 24640 and note that it has a 10-day global period. This means that if a patient returns for follow-up within 10 days of the initial visit, you should not charge them for the portion of the visit that deals with the elbow re-check.

The doctor who saw Suzanne did bill us for procedure 24640, to the tune of $224. I mean, that’s $224 to bend your kid’s arm at the elbow and apply pressure. I’m aghast that the medical industry can even allow this to be called “outpatient surgery”, but apparently it can, and does!

I found references that indicate the CPT code 24640 reads:

24640* Closed treatment of radial head subluxation in child, “nursemaid elbow”, with manipulation

Out of curiousity, I wondered what exactly “closed treatment” means, and how this can even be considered “surgery.” I found the American College of Emergency Physicians website which has an Orthopedic FAQs page, which lists:

FAQ9. What is the difference between “open” and “closed” treatment of a fracture based on CPT definitions?

A. Per CPT definition, fracture care should be described by the type of treatment rendered and not by the type of fracture. Open treatment refers to the requirement for a surgical incision to expose the fracture for direct visualization. Closed treatment specifically means that the fracture site is not surgically opened. Thus, an emergency physician usually provides closed treatment only, even when caring for an open fracture.

So, it just means that the doctor didn’t require cutting the patient open (a surgical incision) in order to treat the fracture or dislocation.

After all this, it appears I’m “legitimately” (if you can call $224 a reasonable fee to apply pressure to an arm bent at the elbow) out $50 for the Emergency Room co-pay, and an additional $112.40 to the doctor since my medical insurance has a $100 deductible for “outpatient surgery” (which I still can’t believe this qualifies) and only covers 90% which explains the extra $12.40.

Now, I can clearly see why healthcare in this country is going down the crapper — the Hippocratic oath has apparently been been replaced with:

I swear to bill and collect from, to the best of my ability and judgement, this patient.

Soon, after the medical insurance companies disappear, it’ll be:

In God we trust. All others pay cash.

God bless America.

EDIT: See the follow-up entry to this, where I talk about an excellent article that better describes Nursemaid’s elbow as an “annular ligament displacement”.

speak with your vote: abstain.

In celebration of the 2004 US Elections, I figured I’d link to a very apropos web comic called “Nuklear Power” that should remind us why this whole voting process is a ridiculous farse.

Update: The original link is now dead. Here’s an updated link to “Episode 403: Ad Campaign”.

sex, lies and masking tape

Kelly Burgener wrote an article for Speak Up, a discussion blog for graphic designers, titled Pornography Perils. I couldn’t resist the urge to leave a comment, which I’m going to repeat here as well:

“an industry of extreme manipulation, coercion, profiteering, and addiction”

Sounds like the Advertising and Mass-media industries, which designers hone their skills to participate in.

Frankly, the business of sex (which includes pornography) has always driven the economy. To try and undermine it is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

“Like most designers, I believe that graphic design can be a powerful tool against ignorance, exploitation, and manipulation.”

You want to help change the world? Spend your effors to counter the products and by-products of the mass media. The hate, ignorance, manipulation and fear it promotes.

Only then, will our largely ignorant, fearsome and manipulated population not feel the need to turn to the sex business for comfort, solace, entertainment and escape.

the “van helsing picture show”

Well, this past weekend I had a chance to go see Van Helsing (imdb) (trailer). I think it was meant to be titled the “Van Helsing Picture Show,” as it so remarkably resembles our favorite Rocky Horror Picture Show. How? Why? Start with the characters …

nostalgia of youth past

Every so often, I get the yen to locate people from my past. My former grammar school, Midland School in Rochelle Park, NJ, now has a website. Unfortunately, there’s no searchable alumni section, so we turn to Google — nothing of interest. However, since Midland School graduates (who didn’t go to a private school like I did) end up going to the local sending school, Hackensack High School which does have a page with links to some alumnus/alumnae web pages. Yay!

logical conclusion?


i’m absolutely disgusted

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I’m pretty vile and tasteless, and will crack jokes about even the most morbid of topics with seemingly no sensitivity or remorse. In other words, I’m pretty hard to disgust, at least by thoughts engendered by my own, twisted mind. Today, as I was driving from work, I heard some news on the radio that enraged me, and made me absolutely sick to my stomach.

Two-year-old survives almost three weeks alone in a house

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A 2-year-old left alone for nearly three weeks while her mother was behind bars survived by eating mustard, ketchup, rice and raw pasta, police said. […]

I can’t exactly put to words the extent to which I was disgusted by hearing about this happening. I’ll give it my best shot, though.

I think the only punishment suitable for this crime is slow starvation. The kind where you fully restrain the person permanently so they can’t injure or otherwise kill themselves. Then, continue to provide fluids so the person doesn’t die of dehydration, but continues to starve to death over the course of several weeks. Being fully restrained, the body will begin to atrophy from being fully immobilized, and cannibalize itself as the starvation continues. Organs and bodily functions fail, dementia sets in, and eventually death.

Incarceration is way too gentle and kind of a punishment for a person who knowingly allows her child to slowly starve, all alone, without informing anyone who could have gone and helped the child. I think the public ought to demand an eye for an eye, here. What this animal who claims to be this little girl’s mother has done is absolutely inexcusable. If she gets out of jail, if there is a God in Heaven, I hope an angry mob stones her to within an inch of her life, then breaks her arms and legs, then ties her up and leaves her to starve to death somewhere where she’ll never be found.