Archives for August 2003

More French Heatwave Fallout

Seems 50 victims of the recent heat wave in France aren’t being picked up by their loved ones. the dissident frogman | Pick Up Your Dead


SoBig finally makes it to my house

Frankly, I’d been feeling a little left out. There’s this fun new email worm (SoBig.F), and I hadn’t gotten any! How odd, thought I.

Until this afternoon, when I got 11 infected emails in a row, all from different senders (I know it wasn’t them sending, but that’s beside the point).

Fortunately, I’m a paranoid, and not only run a firewall that quarantines ‘bad’ email attachments, but also a slick anti-virus program. And there’s a new worm variant supposed to come out soon (so this was a beta test version).

CNN reports that spammers may be the driving influence behind this. I hope that’s true, that’ll finally get our congress interested in spammers, and off evil college kids swapping MP3’s.

Update: roughly an hour later, I’m up to 23. Hmm.
Update2: then after 33 virus-laden emails, it suddenly stops. I figure the hosting service is running some kind of screener program, and it shut down temporarily. If so, thanks, Jumpline! If not, things are ever weirder than I thought.

12-year-old begins medical school

Oh, this is a good idea. 12-year-old begins medical school

Youngest student ever at University of Chicago professional school

If he weren’t also getting his Ph.D. along with his medical degree, thus, pushing his age at graduation to 19 or 20, he’d also be on course to become the youngest person to graduate from any medical school. According to Guinness World Records, a 17-year-old graduated from medical school in New York in 1995.

Genius is duly cited:

Yes, he has an IQ over 200. And yes, he graduated in three years from Chicago?s Loyola University, summa cum laude.
…By age 4, he was composing. And by age 7, he was doing high school work, taught by his parents because they couldn’t find a school that could accommodate him.
By age 8, he scored a 1,500 out of 1,600 possible points on the SAT and started college at age 9.

I’m willing to say, right now, that this kid is smarter than I am. I didn’t get close to a 1500 SAT, it took me 4 years to get a degree, and I’ve never composed anything beyond the occasional unprintable limerick.

I’ll also wager that nobody wants a teenage doctor, and it doesn’t matter how smart they are. I used to say Doogie Howser wouldn’t have actually touched a real patient, he’d have been thrown out of a lot of exam rooms, and the same goes for this poor kid. No way is my first heart attack going to be managed by a 19 year old.

Now, this is not to say that all physicians relate with their patients. We intentionally build up barriers so we think of them as patients or ‘cases’ rather than people. But I guarantee a doc who spent his teenage years in residency, after spending his adolesence in med school, is not going to relate to anyone, his patients or his peers. And the nurses are going to eat him alive.

I sincerely hope he does well, and chooses an academic/research career, and does cure cancer or something worthy of his talent.

Teeth of the Tiger, by Tom Clancy

My first book review!
First, if you intend to read the book, come back after you read it. I’m going to give away plot and so forth.

For Tom Clancy, this is a departure. I’m not qualified to compare it to his OpCenter series, as I read the first and decided someone else wrote it and Clancy put his name on it for his own reasons. However, I have read all the ‘real’ books (I’m not a snob, but his heavy novels are the most fun reading I have had). His departure? A book that is clearly an intro to a series novelization (think WEB Griffin, my second-favorite).

“If you kick a tiger in the ass, you’d better have a plan to deal with the teeth”. Thus begins the first of a different kind of Tom Clancy novel. We are introduced to (suspend disbelief) twin brothers who are, individually, an FBI agent and a USMC Captain, both of whom are recruited by a non-governmental organization, comissioned by the now-former Pres. Jack Ryan (the first NGO I can really get behind). They came to attention by doing well and not displaying too much conscience over killing. Their employer, through a novelized processes, can read intel passing from the NSA to the CIA, thereby being ‘in the know’ while being unknown. Joining is Jack Ryan, Jr., having graduated from Georgetown (where else?), who talks his way into a job in the NGO of Intel. He’s not muscle, he’s brains, but can muscle with the best of them (go figure).

Their target? Terrorists, of course. In the post 9-11, post Afghanistan world (no Iraq war), the NGO of Intel desires to find, then kill, those it can identify funding/organizing terrorism. Their primary tool, after making a big deal about pistol training? Poison.

A well-known poison, succinylcholine, through an improbable route (IM), in a laughably inadeuquate dose (7mg). I give succinylcholine (sux) weekly, as an aid to intubation, and this dose wouldn’t harm anyone who didn’t have a pre-existing neuromuscular disease. The effect of sux is paralysis, which takes about 30 seconds to happen after it’s given, in an adult dose of 1 to 1.5 mg/kg, so a 70 kg adult gets 100 mg or so, and that’s in an IV. In a muscle, it’s four times the IV dose (400mg minimum), and it takes a lot longer to have an effect. OK, this is medical nitpicking, but couldn’t a novelist have ‘invented’ a chemical that wouldn’t get everyone who uses sux daily eye-rolling right off the bat? (There’s your worms’ eye view ot the sux aspect of the novel.) My advice? When you read 7, just think 700, which would have the desired effect.

Our twin heroes interrupt a terrorist massacre-in-progress in a suburban mall, but other terrorist groups hit other malls simultaneously, resulting in havoc and lots of civilian deaths. So, the NGO of Intel springs into action, sending the twins to surreptitiously poison arabs in Europe, which goes insanely quickly and also insanely without difficulty. Jack Jr. gets in on the action, as an ‘advisor’ to the hit squad, despite his awsomely junior status, and he takes the opportunity to poison one of the evil terrorists himself.

And that’s where it ends, with the ominous ‘they had felt the teeth of the tiger, next they’d deal with the brains’. It was, for Clancy, a pamphlet, at a measly 480 pages, and I’m looking forward to the next several installments.

The 3rd Annual Nigerian Email Conference

“Write better emails. Make more moneys.”
3rd Annual Nigerian EMail Conference
In case you wondered whether this was an organized conspiracy…

Preliminary* List of Events
As in the past, this conference has something for everyone. You will hear presentations by
some of the world’s leading Nigerian Email businessmen and businesswomen.

Following are just a few of the many events that are scheduled.

Breakfast Kickoff Session:
Your choice: A hard boiled egg, or two slices of white bread and a cricket.

Keynote Address:
Dr. Hamza Kalu’s adds some historical perspective in his keynote address: “From Postal Scams To Email Scams: We Have Come a Long Way Infant Child.”

Attend a lively debate between Lady Mariam Abacha and Mr. Godwin Oyathelem. Topic: “The effectiveness of using all UPPERCASE characters.”

Practical Discussion:
Mallam Mahmud Abacah answers the question, “Are 10 million emails a day too many?”
* The actual schedule of events and participants depends on various trial outcomes and extradition hearings.


via Cut to Cure
[Read more…]

French Die in Heat Wave Texans Call ‘Summer’

France Says Heat Toll May Be 10,000

Chirac, speaking publicly about the heat wave for the first time, said victims “died alone in their homes”.

The heat wave, which saw temperatures go as high as 104 in France in the first two weeks of August, caused morgues and funeral homes to overflow with bodies, overwhelmed hospitals and prompted painful soul-searching about France’s attitudes about the elderly.

Some critics accused families of abandoning elderly relatives alone at home while they took August vacations. Health workers blamed understaffing and underfunding at hospitals and retirement homes. Many accused the government of doing too little, too late.

France’s medical system is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. But some health workers said it fell short in August because of a law which has restricted France’s working week to 35 hours, which has led to staff shortages, and because hospital and retirement home workers were on holiday.

Wow, where to start.
First off, I’m sympathetic that many people died in a heat wave. They were, for the most part, elderly folks. For a variety of reasons old folks have more problems with temperature extremes.

I am exceedingly unsympathetic to the idea that Hospitals have to be understaffed because the Govt. capped the work week at 35 hours. I have two things to say to that: conscience and work ethic. It matters not that the government capped the work week, as the number of hours in a week didn’t change. If there’s a crisis, you do the right thing, then you change the system later.

Reading the story fills me with amazement. I wrote out and deleted a little rant about how this is all because of socialism, and I think that’s certainly a part of it. However, 104 is hot, but it’s not THAT hot, and anyone who can perspire and has some airflow over them should be able to cope. (Yes, I know there are people who cannot sweat, but they already have AC). (And, I’m not talking about building a railroad through Burma, we’re talking about sitting in a room with a fan). Drink water, don’t do strenuous things, and gripe about the heat. That’s how to survive.

Fort Worth and Dallas both have ‘cooling centers’ where those at risk can go / be dropped off for those times when it really gets hot and humid. I’d have to think France has them, so why weren’t they more successful?

I’m betting on two things out of this: a huge tax-funded addition to their government, which will then either go on strike, go on vacation for the hot months, or not be staffed because of a 35 hour work week.

Anyone want to bet otherwise?

Surgical Resident Decapitated

And not by the residency director, either: – Malfunctioning elevator kills man – Aug. 18, 2003

(In Houston)…Hitoshi Nikaidoh, 35, was stepping into a second-floor elevator at Christus St. Joseph Hospital Saturday morning when the doors suddenly closed, pinning his shoulders. His head was severed when the elevator car moved upward.

A hospital employee witnessed the accident and spent about 20 minutes trapped inside the elevator before firefighters rescued her. She was treated for shock in the hospital’s emergency room…

If somebody’s head gets sheared off into the elevator I’m in, you’d need to treat me for shock, too.

This is a terrible tragedy. I’ll never get on an elevator the same again (I’m going to be a lot more respectful of the closing doors).


We are fortunate enough to live literally at the edge of the wilderness and civilization. The price is that wild creatures think our airconditioned abode is their Disneyland.

Today, it was a snake in the house. We came home, I was getting things out of the car, and my daughter came running back into the garage, announcing: “there’s a snake in the house”. From the tone, I expected something the size of my arm.

The snake was some foot-long pencil thin thing, and was in danger of being teased to death by the cats. The cats wished it no ill, they were just enjoying a new plaything. After a little thought, the snake was ushered outside.

This is my second episode of uninvited house snakes, and this was undoubtedly the calmer of the episodes (the other involved a rattler and a king snake in the house simultaneously).

I think it’s because we went bowling instead of going to church.

Volkswagen Window Service, Round 3

I have written previously about difficulties with my Volkswagen’s window winders, and their individual replacement under warranty.

Guess what happened on the way home this morning?

The passenger side window took a dive into the door (again). At least this time the dealer is a relatively painless 27 miles away from the house. The nice service writer there said they’ve ‘changed to a metal clip from plastic, and we haven’t had any of those have to come back’. They did promise to replace both sides.

VW knows a PR disaster when they see it, and has extended the warranty on their window winders to 7 years and unlimited mileage (from their pathetic 2 yrs on everything else).

I’m more than a little disappointed with VW on this issue. (And the VW 800 number says they’re closed due to the huge East Coast power failure!)

Update: repaired, work. For how long, I wonder?

Make Your Plans Now for August 27th

Mars to Get Closer than Ever in Recorded History in 2003

At 5:51 a.m. EDT on Aug. 27, 2003, Mars will be within 34,646,418 miles (55,758,006 kilometers) of Earth. This will be the closest that Mars has come to our planet in nearly 60,000 years.

At the close approach, the Red Planet will be brighter than Jupiter and all the stars in the night sky, outshone only by Venus and the Moon.

Cool. Every 60K years.

Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership

The Claremont Institute: Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership
I didn’t know they existed, but I’m glad they do.

Often, people are astonished at the low percentage of doctors who are active members of the AMA. I read an analysis several years ago that I’ll summarize as ‘every time you take a stand you alienate some people’, and if you take enough stands you’re going to severely limit the numbers who agree with all your stands.

The AMA has taken enough stands that are way to the left of me politically I see no reason to me an active member. Gun ownership is only one of several issues that make sure their pleas for $400/yr dues go directly to the trash.

I recall that I joined the American Medical Students’ Association, thinking ‘I’m a med student, so they’re for me’ (and because it guaranteed me a credit card). I stopped paying my dues when I got their list of things they really cared about, and one of their big efforts was to make sure that Physicians in the military were unarmed. Being on military scholarship to med school, not being afraid of guns, and having a good idea that self-defense in a war zone is a really good idea, I figured these bizarro idealogues didn’t need my support. I’m still baffled by that: what the heck does that have to do with being a medical student?

So, here’s a group I’m glad exists, and it’s too bad they have to. Perhaps they should get my AMA dues money.

via The Spoons Experience

X Prize Advances

Spaceship glides to a test landing
Burt Rutan
is the modern day Kelly Johnson, an aerospace designer way, way ahead of his time.

He’s the main brain pushing Scaled Composites, which is trying to win the X Prize, 10 Million Dollars to:

…jumpstart the space tourism industry through competition between the most talented entrepreneurs and rocket experts in the world. The $10 Million cash prize will be awarded to the first team that:
Privately finances, builds & launches a spaceship, able to carry three people to 100 kilometers (62.5 miles)
Returns safely to Earth
Repeats the launch with the same ship within 2 weeks.

This is terrific news. My prediction: SC wins, within the next 2 years. And nobody else is even close to a second launch (it wouldn’t surprise me to see a one-off launch, but the repeat is the truly enormous hurdle, and they’ll win going away).

Then what? Will there be a market for it? I ask your opinion.

USMC Parachute Tampering – Camp Lejeune Marine pleads guilty in parachute-tampering case – Aug. 6, 2003

Three Marines were injured September 21, 2002, when their parachutes failed to open after they jumped at about 1,250 feet. Their reserve chutes deployed safely.

Other jumps for that day’s exercise were canceled, and investigators later found that the injured Marines’ chutes and 10 unused ones had been sabotaged.

Lance Cpl. Antoine D. Boykins, 21, pleaded guilty to nine counts of reckless endangerment, four counts of aggravated assault and one count of destruction of government property.

The judge,…, told Boykins he could face 31 years in prison, forfeiture of pay, reduction of rank and dishonorable discharge.

Cpl. Clayton A. Chaffin, 28, an air delivery specialist from Franklin, Ohio, is charged with 31 counts, including reckless endangerment, aggravated assault, conspiracy and drug charges, the base announced Wednesday. He was in custody at the base. Air delivery specialists jump from aircraft with cargo.

At a hearing in March, a military prosecutor said Boykins and Ramirez cut the parachute lines because they had been disciplined and were angry at their platoon commander.

Now, seems to me that committing sabotage of parachutes during wartime, even if not in a combat theater, should get you the firing squad.

Medical Effects of 109 F

Well, ambient 109. The DFW area is having a “high pressure dome”, which apparently is visiting from the sun.

Today I had the opportunity to see the effects of high ambient temperatures in our ED!

1. Old people fall down at an astonishing rate. Not a swooning, just simple trips and falls.

2. The younger generations seem unable to comprehend the controls of an automobile, specifically, steering and braking. People came in today having hit everything except water puddles (dream on) and cattle. Nothing else was safe, not guardrails, bridge abutments, and certainly not other motorists. It was too hot for pedestrians to be out, or they would have been run down in droves.

3. I think some of those I saw today just wanted in out of the heat, so ‘I have abdominal pain’ resulted in several fruitless workups.

Good news is this heat wave should only last another two or three days. I’m staying off the street, and I’m hoping not to fall down.

Know Thy Enemy: Airline Terrorists

IMAO: Know Thy Enemy: Airline Terrorists
This is the funniest thing all week. Some excerpts:


* If the guy seated next to you is named Al, watch him with suspicion; that’s halfway to Al Qaeda.

* If someone tries to light a fuse on his shoes, that’s a sure sign of terrorism. Take away his lighter then hit him on the nose while firmly saying, “No!”

* The airline pillows are too small to smother a terrorist. If you need to smother a terrorist, politely ask your flight attendant for a blanket.

* If you are worried that the people around you are terrorists, immediately alert the stewardess. She can give you booze which will make you much less worried.

As they say, read the whole thing.

via Instapundit