21 January 2008

on sneezing...

at least once a day, i stumble across something and dr. martin luther king's words sound in my head. he has had a major impact on my life, on many levels. here a just a few of his words, a few of my favorites, to add my voice to those also celebrating the life of this amazing peaceseeker today.

"An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."

"There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of people in that society, who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don't have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it."

"Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."

as i was preparing to write this post, i saw that lindsey had put something new up. i have to share this here, as well. it made me cry and it re-inspired me. where are great orators like this today???

while i don't have a religious bone in my body, i' am spiritual in a way that is difficult for me to put into words. and this still spoke to me. he still has always been able to reach me... i also like to think of a few other people that were instrumental in MLK becoming who he was.
rosa parks and e.d. nixon. we only tend to hear a little snippet about rosa refusing to get up and nothing about e.d. - but both of these folks are also hugely important in the realm of civil rights - and in the history of MLK. rosa was a huge activist, as was e.d. - and i want to remember them today, as well. even my graduate school textbook glossed over them, i noticed, as i read last night. it made me more than a little sad.

so without further ado... thank you, lindsey! and dr. king, wherever you may be, i'm glad you didn't sneeze... i can't imagine what the world would be like if you had.

I've Been to the Mountaintop

Memphis, TN - April 3, 1968

"...That's the question before you tonight. Not, "If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?" The question is not, "If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?" "If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?" That's the question.

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God, once more, for allowing me to be here with you.

You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?"

And I was looking down writing, and I said yes. And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that's punctured, you drown in your own blood—that's the end of you.

It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states, and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what the letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never forget it. It said simply, "Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School." She said, "While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze."

And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn't sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream. And taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, been in Memphis to see the community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering. I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.

And they were telling me, now it doesn't matter now. It really doesn't matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."

And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

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19 January 2008

even bebe knows...

as bebe was just practising his newly learned skill of changing the channels with his remote control, he happened upon john mccain speaking.

"oh, NO, mommy! what is THAT? what just HAPPENED?"

"that's just john mccain, bebe - he's pretty scary."

even to toddlers.

reminds me of the time he ran to the t.v. while bush was giving his state of the union address awhile back. he turned the volume all the way down and said, "no like it mommy. no like it poopy movie!"




remember my neighbor? in a nutshell, when i hadn't seen him come out for a couple of days last month, i got worried and called the police. they found him on the floor. he was sent to the hospital, then to a nursing home for rehabilitation.

apparently, the nursing home had to send him back to the hospital a few days ago. i've called every hospital in the area, he isn't listed anywhere. i called back out to the nursing home to find out where they sent him for certain - and after several re-routings, they say they can't find his chart. they don't know where he is. it could be one of 4 hospitals, all of which i've already called.

how is it that a person can be lost like this? i'm really concerned about him and i have no idea how to find him. are we really this dispensable, as people and individuals?

i've called the social worker he had initially at the hospital, after the fall, and left a message. she won't be in until monday. so now, i wait. and hope he's ok.


darker skin tone and gender

are SO 1930's huh?

guess who the only two presidential candidates are that have secret service protection?


17 January 2008

it. is. about. time.

just another snippet to add to my arsenal.

... so not only may they actually exacerbate already difficult symptoms, create brain chemical inbalances and leave people feeling violent and suicidal - they may not even really *work.* perrrrfect.

but that 21 billion dollars a year in sales is a right perty profit, eh?

breggin has been writing about this for years. it is about time... and in the wall street journal, of all places!

hat tip to will for sending me this article. *** note: never ever ever just stop taking these medications. weaning is of the utmost importance.

Under Scrutiny
Over Efficacy

Sweeping Overview Suggests
Suppression of Negative Data
Has Distorted View of Drugs
January 17, 2008; Page D1

The effectiveness of a dozen popular antidepressants has been exaggerated by selective publication of favorable results, according to a review of unpublished data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration.

A review of research submitted to the FDA:
Of 74 studies reviewed, 38 were judged to be positive by the FDA. All but one were published, researchers said.
Most of the studies found to have negative or questionable results were not published, researchers found.
Source: The New England Journal of Medicine

As a result, doctors and patients are getting a distorted view of how well blockbuster antidepressants like Wyeth's Effexor and Pfizer Inc.'s Zoloft really work, researchers asserted in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.

Since the overwhelming amount of published data on the drugs show they are effective, doctors unaware of the unpublished data are making inappropriate prescribing decisions that aren't in the best interest of their patients, according to researchers led by Erick Turner, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health & Science University. Sales of antidepressants total about $21 billion a year, according to IMS Health.

Wyeth and Pfizer declined to comment on the study results. Both companies said they had committed to disclose all study results, although not necessarily in medical journals. GlaxoSmithKline PLC, maker of Wellbutrin and Paxil, said it has posted the results of more than 3,000 trials involving 82 medications on its Web site, and also has filed information on 1,060 continuing trials at a federal government Web site.

Schering-Plough Corp., whose Organon Corp. unit markets Remeron, and Eli Lilly & Co., which makes Prozac, said their study results were indeed published -- not individually, but as part of larger medical articles that combined data from more than one study at a time. The New England Journal study counted a clinical trial as published only if it was the sole subject of an article. "Lilly has a policy that we disclose and publish all the results from our clinical trials, regardless of the outcomes from them," a Lilly spokeswoman said.

Pharmaceutical companies are under no obligation to publish the studies they sponsor and submit to the FDA, nor are the researchers they hire to do the work. The researchers publishing in the New England Journal were able to identify unpublished studies by obtaining and comparing documents filed by the companies with the FDA against databases of medical publications.

"There is no effort on the part of the FDA to withhold or to not post drug review documents," an FDA representative said. For newer drugs, information is posted online "as soon as possible." Older documents aren't always available online and efforts to add those files to the Web are slowed by "a lack of resources," the agency said, acknowledging that there is a backlog in complying with records requests.

A total of 74 studies involving a dozen antidepressants and 12,564 patients were registered with the FDA from 1987 through 2004. The FDA considered 38 of the studies to be positive. All but one of those studies was published, the researchers said.

The other 36 were found to have negative or questionable results by the FDA. Most of those studies -- 22 out of 36 -- weren't published, the researchers found. Of the 14 that were published, the researchers said at least 11 of those studies mischaracterized the results and presented a negative study as positive.

Five Trials

For example, Pfizer submitted five trials on its drug Zoloft to the FDA, the study says. The drug seemed to work better than the placebo in two of them. In three other trials, the placebo did just as well at reducing indications of depression. Only the two favorable trials were published, researchers found, and Pfizer discusses only the positive results in Zoloft's literature for doctors.

One way of turning the study results upside down is to ignore a negative finding for the "primary outcome" -- the main question the study was designed to answer -- and highlight a positive secondary outcome. In nine of the negative studies that were published, the authors simply omitted any mention of the primary outcome, the researchers said.

The resulting publication bias threatens to skew the medical professional's understanding of how effective a drug is for a particular condition, the researchers say. This is particularly significant as the growing movement toward "evidence-based medicine" depends on analysis of published studies to make treatment decisions.

Colleagues' Questions

Dr. Turner, who once worked at the FDA reviewing data on psychotropic drugs, said the idea for the study was triggered in part by colleagues who questioned the need for further clinical drug trials looking at the effectiveness of antidepressants.

"There is a view that these drugs are effective all the time," he said. "I would say they only work 40% to 50% of the time," based on his reviews of the research at the FDA, "and they would say, 'What are you talking about? I have never seen a negative study.'" Dr. Turner, said he knew from his time with the agency that there were negative studies that hadn't been published.

The suppression of negative studies isn't a new concern. The tobacco industry was accused of sitting on research that showed nicotine was addictive, for instance. The issue has come up before notably with antidepressants: In 2004, the New York state attorney general sued GlaxoSmithKline for alleged fraud, saying it suppressed studies showing that the antidepressant Paxil was no better than a placebo in treating depression in children. Glaxo denied the charge and eventually settled with the attorney general. The company later posted on its Web site the full reports of all of the studies of Paxil in children.


But publication of negative studies is an issue that cuts across all medical specialties. And it has engendered some strong reactions in the medical-research world: To make it harder to conceal negative study findings, an association of medical journal editors began requiring in 2005 that clinical trials be publicly disclosed at the outset to be considered for publication later. The system isn't foolproof, since manufacturers often run exploratory studies without registering them and can selectively disclose favorable results. The rule only applies to studies intended for publication in a medical journal.

Some studies that don't eventually get published are registered with online trial registries, including the federal government's www.clinicaltrials.gov. Nonetheless, many studies still aren't being registered or reported, says Kay Dickersin, the director of the Center for Clinical Trials at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "We need something more meaningful," she said. "The average person has no idea that www.clinicaltrials.gov is not comprehensive."

The New England Journal study also points to the need for the FDA to disclose more information about the studies it receives, says Robert Hedaya, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Georgetown University Hospital. He said it was "disturbing" that the information on the negative studies wasn't made widely available by the FDA.

The FDA does post information, including unpublished studies, for some drugs on its Web site, says Dr. Turner. But information that hasn't yet made it online is hard to come by. Dr. Turner said he made public records requests for information not on the Web site more than a year ago, but the requests have gone largely unfulfilled. He said he was able to get some of the FDA's information on unpublished studies from other researchers who acquired it from the agency through their own record requests.

The 'Effect Size'

In this week's study, the researchers found that failing to publish negative findings inflated the reported effectiveness of all 12 of the antidepressants studied, which were approved between 1987 and 2004. The researchers used a measurement called effect size. The larger the effect size, the greater the impact of a treatment.

The average effect size of the antidepressant Zoloft rose 64% by the failure to publish negative or questionable data on the drug, the researchers found.

Write to David Armstrong at david.armstrong@wsj.com1 and Keith J. Winstein at keith.winstein@wsj.com2



15 January 2008

i don't know why...

...things like this even surprise me anymore.

i sent out a bulletin on myspace earlier about kucinich. in a nutshell, he was invited by nbc to be a part of the presidential debate in nevada. they then changed their minds. he sued. judge ruled that he would be a part of the debate.

i got home from class to find that an hour before the debate, the supreme court of nevada stepped in and overruled the decision. no kucinich in debate.

this is america, friends. where the candidates for president can't be heard. nader, revisited.

after i sent out the bulletin this afternoon, a friend replied "Not like it matters anyway. Have you read any of the stuff about the vote fraud in New Hampshire? Looks like Diebold and friends will be delivering the Dem nomination to Hillary."

yeah! but THIS! this is DIFFERENT!

the irony of all of this is, of course, that kucinich is the quintessential peace candidate. he was *against* the iraq invasion, he was *against* nafta and the ftaa. he is essentially *for* most everything that i'am. he is the only candidate out there that something in me actually trusts.

hillary? seriously? with the mudslinging b.s. her camp pulled with obama? is rove back in the saddle?

sure! i'll take some bush lite with the heaping, steaming pile of crap i'm being served. this is not what the meal i ordered looked like in the picture.

i want to like obama. i really really really do. there's just something in the way he talks about uniting the two parties... my mama didn't raise no fool. it really is up for us to unite as people, not for the government to unite. there is a balance that should occur there. and while this balance may be presently lacking - it is still kind of there. obama's wife, michelle, delights me. she means it. she means every word.

and edwards. edwards... he speaks, and i feel completely indifferent.

i'm not even going to venture to the right. suffice it say, varying shades of old, mean white guys. i know, i know... how positively tawdry of me. romney, huckabee, and mccain... i watched one of their "debates" - they shouldn't have called it a debate. it should have been called a circle jerk. one of my litmus tests for elected officials has always been to accertain whether or not i would invite the person into my home to break bread and rap with. of the three, nada.

but i digress.

kucinich. focus kara, focus.

so yeah. i want to implore you to go read up on him. if he's important enough to be banned from a debate in a race in which he's running in, he's important enough that we should at least know who is and know what he is trying to say.

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10 January 2008

so i'm cleaning...

...like this chic:

minus the meth, of course. i've never understood the allure of wanting to put something in your system that the production of has the potential to blow up a city block. then again, i can't count the # of times people have said to me, "i want some of what you're on." which is nothing. i'm naturally this way, for better or for worse. always have been.

that commercial always cracked me up, though. for reals. for an anti-drug spot, i can think of more than a few peeps that would be delighted to have that kind of energy to do anything with.

but i digress. less talk, more action. back to it.

p/s - if anyone is particularly good with statistics, i may need some tutoring. i threw up a little bit when i flipped through my statisitcs book for class.

i'm a big fan of the barter system. while i won't meth clean your casa, i'm good at lots of other stuff.

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01 January 2008

just desserts

that's what me mum says, at least. you see, bebe is Very Busy. me mum just laughs and says i was the exact. same. way.

i mean, age 4 WAS a busy year for me... but...

i simply can't imagine what she's speaking of!

it can't be the time i decided that i decided i could be a mechanic. i peeled all of the sparkly stickers from mom's license plates. my toy box had asked me to - it needed some accessories. then i needed to remove the little tire valve cap thingys - they needed repairing. and of course she needed a fill-up, so i drug the garden house around the side of the house, unscrewed the gas cap, inserted the hose, then turned the water on. my mom was pulled over that week for not having stickers. they enjoyed their home on my toy box for a few days, at least. my, they were shiny.

it can't possibly be that one christmas - the one where i totaled her car. the one where i snuck out during the ensuing chaos, crawled into the floorboard of her gremlin, released the parking break and "steered" my way down my grandparent's steep-ish drive and into the neighbor's mailbox at full speed.

that poor gremlin.

it can't be the time that i decided i would also like to deliver the mail, after watching the postman come by. that time that i hopped on my tricycle, with my grubby little mitt holding a brown paper bag, and made the rounds to the houses in the cul-de-sac where my grandparents lived. no one busted me 'til the last house. they called my grams and she spent the next hour re-sorting all the mail i'd tossed in to my makeshift mail bag. suffice it to say, it was a heavy mail day.

my poor grandma.

see, we lived with my grandparents until i was 5. and as my mom was typically working three jobs to support us, it was often just gram and me. she was my second mom. she passed away in '99, and it is hard to believe it has been almost ten years... "they" say that time makes it easier, but i don't think that is always true. i ache, to my very core, whenever i think of her being not here anymore. i had a dream a few years ago that we were together. when i woke up and realized it was a dream, i felt like i did the day she died. all over again. jello biafra once said in a talk i heard him give that there is no such thing as closure. at the time, i resisted the notion, but now, i embrace it. i've found the sentiment to be quite accurate over the years - and comforting, oddly enough. i think we tend to shove people into being ok, when they aren't. and we think we should be, when we aren't.

but i digress.

i know that she would get quite a laugh at bebe's antics.

i wish they could've met each other...

i watch bebe and wonder what he'll get into when he is 4. and i shudder. just a little. but in a good way.


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