Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

February 22, 2005

Stay of execution

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:39 pm

Terri Schindler Schiavo has been granted an emergency one-day stay of execution.

Euro-pee-on Culture

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:33 pm

Paul Belien shows how in Belgium, the Flemish Socialist Party is trying to show how Europe is so much more culturally sophisiticated and mature than America.

George Washington and Religious Freedom

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:17 pm

On the occassion of George Washington’s birthday (actually today, never mind that the federal holiday was yesterday) PowerLine has an excellent post reflecting on George Washington’s particular type of greatness, as reflected in his leadership at the Constitutional Convention, and his visit to Newport, Rhode Island in 1790, on the occasion of Rhode Island becoming the 13th state to ratify the Consitution, thus completing the Union.

One outcome of that visit was President Washington’s famous letter in response to a letter of greeting from Moses Seixas, the “warden” of the Touro Synagogue, the Jewish congregation in Newport, then as now the second oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. Washington’s letter is justly famous; Seixas’ letter unjustly less so. PowerLine reproduces it in full.

Read the whole thing.

COX-2 update

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:53 pm

An FDA advisory panel voted to recommend that all three COX-2 inhibitors be allowed to stay on the market. (Background here.)

Basically, the argument is that while the risks are higher then previously thought, they may still be outweighed by the benefits for some patients. They are going to put stronger warnings on the labels, and it’s (quite reasonably) expected that sales of these drugs will be lower than they were before these risks became known.

This sounds to me like the right outcome. For a long time, the FDA has focused too much on risks and not enough on benefits, and has implicitly assumed that the risk-benefit trade-off is the same for all patients with a given disease. It’s time they start putting this decision inthe hands of doctors and patients, and this decision is a step in that direction.

Locked up for being fat

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:39 pm

The [London] Sun reports that a 23-year-old man named Chris Leppard of Hastings, East Sussex, England, has been “forcibly detained” by British authorities because he is too fat. He weighs about 434 pounds. (The Sun reports his weight as “31 stones” using the British unit of weight equal to (about?) 14 pounds.)

They apparently detained him under a law normally used to detain people who are mentally ill, which Mr. Leppard is not. He was taken by police to a mental hospital, and will be held (initially) for one month.

He has been diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic disorder which causes a chronic feeling of hunger. He came to the attention of authorities after appearing in a TV documentary on Prader-Willi syndrome.

This could set a very bad precedent. People have health problems, so they are locked up? I used to think these folks were a bit nuts, but maybe they have a point!

The people who sued the fast-food restaurants claiming that McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC Corporation made them fat were basically claiming that they themselves were not responsible for what they put in their mouths; they could not control themselves and were “victims” of the restaurants. This assertion of a lack of personal responsibility has now been turned on its head — if you aren’t responsible, you must have a mental disease and need to be locked up. I’m not saying the fast-food lawsuit lead directly to the lock-up of Chris Leppard, but they are both, in a sense, different sides of the same coin. Note that I say this as someone who is considerably overweight myself (thankfully not nearly as overweight as Mr. Leppard), and one whose weight problem is caused at least in part by other medical problems not of my own making. Still, I’m not suing anybody for it, and I don’t want to be locked up for it, either.

Blogging Hiatus Over

Filed under: — Different River @ 2:58 pm

I’m back from my trip. I calculated that I was away from my e-mail — in fact, the entire Internet — for 95 hours, which is the probably longest ever for me in recent times. But I’m back to civilization now, and blogging should resume shortly. I might even have some comments about my trip.

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