Monday, April 26, 2010

Finding out

I was told in all seriousness yesterday that 1) Barack Obama was born in Indonesia, 2) that he is not a citizen of the United States, 3) that he has refused to tender his birth certificate to the proper authorities to prove he's a US citizen, 4) that he is fighting 20 lawsuits to make him show his birth certificate. There were some more, including the charge that he's a chain smoker.
My reply, since I'd never heard any of these charges, was that we first have to determine that the items under discussion were factual. My motto, which I sometimes even follow, is "Let's answer questions of fact before we discuss questions of value."
When I got home after the discussion, I went to my trusted friend Google, and typed in Obama and birth certificate. Just those three words. Up came all the answers to my questions, which were: 1) Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, as I had thought, 2) he is most definitely a citizen of the United States (He had a dual citizenship but gave up the other in 1982), 3) his birth certificate is readily available -- and in fact there were several images of it, and 4) who cares? I couldn't find anything on the lawsuits but then I didn't look too hard.
What bothers me is not that people are believing things that are not true but even ridiculous (Do you honestly think that the Democratic National Committee would have let Obama run had he not had and presented a birth certificate?), but (where was I?) that people don't even check when it's the easiest thing in the world. In a world glutted with information, people still prefer ignorance over knowing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I had an epiphany (always wanted to use that word) this morning. I was taking my shower and wondering why I had such antipathy for people like Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd. "It's their air of smug superiority," says I. "But," replied I, "What about Molly Ivans?" She was as smugly superior as any of them, and could raise your blood pressure 50 points. And what about Rush, Beck, and the others? You can't stand to listen to them? And aren't they smugly superior too. Yet you don't feel the downright dislike for them that you have for K&D and company."
I had to concede that I was right. It had to be something more. In a flash of inspiration and suddenly cold water, I realized that is was the fact that Krugman, Dowd, et al, were so @#$%^ solemn about what they were saying, as if they really did have the secret to the universe and were willing (just barely) to share it with me.
With that insight, the universe opened up. Now I can see why it's so hard for me to listen to any religious leader, philosopher, or politician, and why I love cartoons, comedy, and poets. Cartoons and comedy, though more serious than tragedy (true!), keep it concealed, and who takes poets seriously anyway?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Back on Track

I had my faith in the universe shaken to the core the other day when I agreed with something that columnist Paul Krugman wrote. Normally I simply think the guy is long on bile and short on the finer points of logic and reasoning. Today, though, things were in their normal place. Mr. Krugman wrote that the Bush administration (whom he blames for everything that's gone wrong since prohibition) is to blame for the banking mess because they didn't watch the bankers closely enough.
The problem with that is that it just ain't so. Mr. Krugman has made a logical connection that isn't really there. Let's suppose that I am king of the world, and I neglect to make a law against murder. So, Cain kills Abel and gets away with it. Now, I am negligent in not making a law, but that's just so that we can get away with whacking Cain for whacking Abel. The key point is that the lack of a law didn't cause Cain to kill Abel. If I remember right, it was jealousy and the desire for gain that did the trick.
So, the greedy, avaricious, unscrupulous (several other adjectives here) bankers fleeced the public and did so because there were no people standing over them with whips. Okay, we need oversight. But, and here's the point that Krugman either forgot, elided, or simply left out: the lack of supervision provided an opportunity, but didn't cause the act. A subtle point, but an important one.
I respect Mr. Krugman's intelligence -- I really do. It's just that we are at opposite ends of the elephant. I've got the trunk and he's got...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I've always thought that physicians felt that the initials MD stood for "minor deity." After reading the news today, I think I should change that. They think MD stands for "Major Deity." It seems that many states want to 1) expand the scope of practice for nurses, especially Nurse Practitioners, and 2) allow them to be called "Doctor," if they have earned the degree. The AMA, according to my source, opposes both ideas.
I really don't see why they should oppose the first of the proposals. After all, if the NP's can dispense medicine and make other decisions, then the MD's can spend more time on the golf course. And everyone will be happier, including the patients, since studies show that NP's listen to patients better than MD's and the quality of care is identical.
I've long thought that, for the overwhelming number of cases where a patient comes to see a MD, the MD is woefully overeducated. Most cases are a such that an intelligent person with a semester or two of training could diagnose and treat. MD's will moan that this is not so, but it is. The best health care I ever had was from a physician's assistant.
A good NP will listen, prescribe, treat, and if the case is serious or troublesome, kick it up to a MD.
In fact, I'd suggest that, instead of more MD's, we need fewer. There should be a cadre of highly trained MD's who deal with the tough cases. The rest of the time, NP's could do the work, do it at least as well, and for a lot less money.