Category Archives: Science

I Will Register

This election depends on me.

But it also depends on you.

My most important job this year is to vote. Yours too.

Will you be able to?  Are you registered to vote?  Or will you feel as foolish as Donald Trump’s kids who weren’t registered to vote in the primaries

I’m registered.  I just double checked, because a lot of monkey business has been going on.  I wanted to be sure.

You can register or check to make sure you’re still registered. here:

I WILL VOTE.COM

You can do this from your living room.  Your office.  Your phone while waiting in line at the grocery store.

Do it today.

Vote

Elections Matter.

Don’t let Donald Trump sit in the Oval Office.

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I Found My Donor!

Well, it’s been a while since I discussed the topic that is near and dear to my, ummm, heart.

Poop transplants!  — The ultimate solution to my Crohn’s disease woes.

OK, it’s nearer to my hiney, but you can’t claim you weren’t expecting that.

Earlier today I was discussing my future poop transplant with my boss.  (It’s true, I have no pride what so ever.)  She’s very interested in the idea.  She wants me healthy, of course, but really, I think she wants to see what happens from a scientific perspective.  And, frankly, I can’t blame her.  I want to know what’ll happen from a scientific point of view, too.  And from the perspective of a toilet paper consumer.

You may recall that  I’ve mentioned that you have to be very choosy when choosing a poop donor.  If the donor is fat, or depressed, or psychotic, well, the recipient can become fat, or depressed or psychotic.  I haven’t researched what happens if you choose someone immature, though.  Perhaps I should.

Anyway, the issue was on my mind tonight when I began reading the news. And I found my donor!

He is young and healthy, albeit a little younger than I was thinking of;  he’s living in Florida with his mother.  In fact, it was his mom who brought him to my attention.  Well, and to the attention of people with a deep seated interest in poop.

One day Katy Vasquez discovered that the Lord moves in mysterious ways.  And goes into mysterious places.  Because, You see, one day when she was changing his diaper, she saw this sign that things were going to get better.:

Halla-Poo-Yah

This picture was taken by my donor’s mom, Katy Vasques, and posted to Facebook and the Huffington Post (where I saw it).

It’s Holy Shit!  What more could I ask for from a donor?

HALLA-POO-YAH!

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Scientific studies

A good part of my job is to look at scientific studies and figure out if they represent good science.  You’d think they’d hire an actual scientist to do that, but, really it’s not necessary.  There are a handful of rules good science follows, and then there is a lot of common sense involved.  I can follow rules, and I am bogged down with common sense, so I am fairly good at analyzing a fair percentage of them.  If the studies look at science that is over my head, or if it involves statistics, I give it to somebody else.

It turns out, I’m not the only non-scientist who looks at scientific studies!  I’m not even the only funny non-scientist who does.

On Sunday, John Oliver took a look on Last Week Tonight.

For the entire version, which Word Press won’t let me post because it’s too long, click on this link.

And don’t believe everything you read.  Or hear.

 

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Unusually quiet

You may have noticed that I’ve been unusually quiet about politics lately.

Ever since Donald Trump stopped being funny, well, my heart hasn’t been in it.

I will tell you that I miss candidate Barack Obama.  He inspired me, beginning before he was a candidate — when he made his 2004 speech to the 2004 Democratic Convention, I turned to John and said “Can we have him?”  In 2006, John and I spent our 20th wedding anniversary listening to the future president speak.  And in 2008 and 2012, we both worked for Obama’s election and re-election.

Hillary?  Bernie?  Eh.

In February I wrote that I’d decided to vote for Hillary:

Philosophically, I’m really in Bernie’s camp.  I’d love government-sponsored healthcare.  I’d love to make college free.  I would love to erase income inequality.

But I’m a pragmatist.

Even if Bernie could get elected (and I don’t agree with pundits that claim he can’t), well, I spent 10 years watching the sausage mill that is our government.  And I simply don’t think Bernie can do it.

Hillary Clinton has my vote because I think she will be a good president.  Because she’s smart and capable.  Because she knows the system inside, outside and upside and downside.

I didn’t know at the time that I would ever be quoting myself.

But this morning, courtesy of the Daily Kos, I found someone much funnier than I agreed with me.

John Hodgman.

You probably remember Hodgman from the Daily Show — the straight man.  Monday, in advance of the New York Primary,  he came out for Hillary for precisely the reasons I decided to support her.  He is much funnier, though.

I think her ambition is, and has long been, to be the President of the United States, like everyone else in the race, and also to make policy.

I think it’s reasonable to say based on her career that she likes making policy.

Moreover, I think she wants to make the best policy possible in an antagonistic-by-design political process that she has known and wrestled with for decades, and keep that policy in place.

Moreover, I think she wants to make policy that I largely agree with.

And I think she can do it.

Moreover, I think she can beat Trump.

At least I hope so.  New Zealand is so far away.

Hillary Aliens landing

Besides.  She has the aliens on her side.  Photo spotted at Daily Kos.  But my feet were on the ground.  Or actually on the coffee table, if you must know.

 

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I’ve Got to Hand it To Trump

Size matters.  Especially if you’re being screwed.

And if this man is elected, we all will be.

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Guns: A “Right” or an “Addiction”?

Who do I think I’m kidding.  You already know, without anything to back it up, which side of the title question I come out on.

About a month ago, I came across an editorial in an online medical journal that has been on my mind ever since.

Is American Gun Ownership a Form of Addiction?

In it, George D. Lundberg, MD, persuasively argued that maybe the vehemence of gun owners protecting their so-called “right to bear arms” isn’t so much an intellectual argument as one fueled by addiction.  And I think that Dr. Lundberg may be on to something.
He first listed the nine symptoms of substance addiction:
  • Availability of the agent for experimentation;
  • Initial use producing pleasure followed by subsequent pleasant episodes of use and positive secondary reinforcement;
  • Psychological dependence or habituation;
  • Tolerance, with need to use more to get the same effect;
  • Chemical physical dependence;
  • Withdrawal symptoms when the agent is taken away;
  • Drug-seeking behavior;
  • Continued use even when obvious harm has been experienced; and
  • Rationalization and denial.

Then, Dr. Lundberg states that, like addictions to gambling and sex, with an addiction to guns, there is no physical/chemical addiction.  But the other symptoms?  Check, check, check.  Check-mate.

Here, in fact, is Dr. Lundberg’s gun addiction checklist:
  • Availability? Check;
  • Positive reinforcement? Check;
  • Habituation? Check;
  • Tolerance? Big check. Once someone becomes a gun owner, adding guns is usual; one is not enough. The average American gun-owning household includes 8.1 firearms, up from 4.1 in 1994. The NRA goes bonkers about any suggestion of limits;
  • Chemical dependence? No;
  • Withdrawal? I have not personally seen a convulsion in a gun-owning doctor when confronted with the possibility of losing his or her guns, but pretty damn close. I mean….;
  • Weapon-seeking behavior? Check;
  • Continued use despite harmful results? Check; and
  • Rationalization and denial? Check.

I think that Dr. Lundberg is on to something.

I think the issue of gun addiction deserves some attention today, as President Obama unveils the measures he can take towards sane gun control laws because Congress won’t.

Obama and gun control

President Obama hugged Mark Barden, whose son was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, before announcing his executive action on gun control in the East Room of the White House.  Photo Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Thanks, Mr. President.  Because 90% of Americans believe in stronger gun laws.  And because 100% of us remember this:

Sandy Hook Elementary

Sandy Hook Elementary School, 2012.  Wikimedia Image

The Medscape article, with the video of Dr. Lundberg delivering his editorial, is free, but by subscription.

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I’ll Take That as a Compliment

Dr. C wiped a tear from her eye, hugged me and laughed as she walked me out of the examination room after my semi-annual tune up the other day.

“I have never had this much fun during a consultation, Elyse,” she said.

I love this doctor, my gastroenterologist.  She is bright, listens, figures out the best treatment for me, and incredibly importantly for me, she has a fabulous sense of humor.  That’s incredibly rare for a gastroenterologist as I’ve mentioned before.

“I’ve been keeping up with all the research on poop transplants,” I told her.

Yes!  It’s fascinating, isn’t it?”

Even though they aren’t currently being used for IBDs like mine, well, I do keep up with the research.  Obviously, you do too.  Why else would you be reading this post about poop?

Canadian Poop

How could I resist this image?  I know it’s Canadian and they have single-payer health care and I don’t, but you will admit, it’s funny.  Thanks, Google Images. You’re the bomb.  Errr…

Did I lose you there?

Our discussion continued down that same hole …

“I read that you have to be very careful who you get one from,” I said, proud of the depth of my knowledge.  “I read that if you get one from a grumpy person, or a depressed one, you can take on these traits.  Or fat people (thanks, Carrie!)”

“I actually have a patient who had a poop transplant.  She had c difficile,  and the transplant came from a heavy person.  She’s actually gained a lot of weight!”

“I used to think I’d get one from my husband.  But he’s kind of a curmudgeon, and he has risks of a couple of other diseases that I don’t want to get.* But mostly it’s the curmudgeon thing.  I don’t want to become a crank.  Besides, he refuses to laugh at my jokes.  Since I’m often the only one laughing, taking his shit might make my career as a humor blogger short-lived.”

“You’ll have to just tell him to keep his shit to himself!” Dr. C said, roaring with laughter.  Suddenly she realized, oh shit!  I’m talking to a patient!

“‘My doctor says you have to keep your shit to yourself!’ — That’s what I’ll tell him!  –Maybe then, he’ll stop leaving his crap all over the kitchen counter!”

Poop!

Google Image.

“Maybe you have to get your poop transplant from a model — a smart and beautiful one.  You don’t want to get your poop transfer from somebody stupid, because we don’t yet know if it can impact your IQ.  So you should choose somebody really smart — a scientist might be good.”

I looked over at her.  She’s healthy.  She’s slender.  She’s smart.  She has curly hair like mine.

“I want a poop transfer from you!” I announced.

She quieted her laugh for a moment.

Uh-oh, I though.  I’ve gone too far.

“You know, that may be the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

We both roared with laughter.

“Great. Lemme know when they figure out that poop transplants really do work on Crohn’s.  I’ll bring the sterile cup.”

Poop 4

Where do you think I found this?

 

* Nobody can say I don’t protect my husband’s privacy.  Ammirite?

***

While this blog was awaiting publication, I found this article in my inbox:

Gut Bugs Affect Cockroach Poop-ularity

By Jef Akst

Commensal bacterial living in the gastrointestinal tracts of cockroaches lace the insects’ feces with chemical cues that mediate social behavior, according to a study.

Lord, why me?

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