Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My favorite things - Beer edition

Hey, another recurring theme. This one is about my favorite things. As far as beer goes, for me, there is only one beer that I love: Guinness stout. For me, it is miles above and beyond any other beer. For Christmas, I am treating myself to Guinness glassware from World Market, so that I can learn how to pour that elusive perfect pint.

Guinness advertising has been pretty BRILLIANT! over the years. Enjoy this television spot in the "noitulovE" (Evolution backwards) campaign of 2005. "Good things come to those who wait."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's getting better all the time: Bipartisanship

Wow, in how many ways can Obama be an improvement over Bush? Hmm, let's see, how much time do we have, and how long a sheet a paper do we have...

So, not only does Obama dare to put people in his cabinet who may disagree with him and tell him things he does not want to hear (but needs to), he is now reaching across the aisle to Congressional Republicans with a "charm offensive" that is already impressing people.

Hmm. A President that works with the system, with the people, for all the people. This may take a while to get used to.

Go figure...

President Bush is such a bonehead that it was surprising to me to read this in the New York Times: Bush Prepares Crisis Briefings to Aid Obama

Just when I've gotten comfy in my cocoon of disdain for him, just when I think I've got him pegged as a simple-minded, jingoistic, entitled, malevolent, incompetent jerk, he goes and does something praise-worthy. Guess he learned a little bit about how to do his job before the clock ran out, so now the giant turd that is his legacy will have a few candy sprinkles on top.

It's getting better all the time: Welcome to reality

As the Bush administration winds down and I hear about the ongoing efforts of President-elect Obama, I sometimes have the Beatles' "Getting Better" running through my mind, with Paul crooning "I've got to admit it's getting better, a little better all the time," and John chiming in, "It can't get no worse"...

So I'm happy to read articles like these:

Obama's Biggest Decision by Bill Allen, former CEO of National Geographic, who highlights the contrast between Bush's governing by guts and ideology and Obama's preference for brains and reason. Yes, it can really be boiled down to that simple level.

Me used to be angry young man
Me hiding me head in the sand
You gave me the word, I finally heard
I'm doing the best that I can

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

People Who Speak for Me: Leonard Pitts, Jr.

While the editorial board of my local paper, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, is too conservative for my taste, at least the paper publishes guest columnists and syndicated columns from across the political spectrum. It is through the FLS that I first read the columns of Leonard Pitts.

I haven't been a regular reader of late, but I remember some columns of his that have really struck a chord with me. He, like (and before) Keith Olbermann, gave a solid, well-thought out statement in support of gay rights. He's one of those columnists that I read to (a) see if I'm missing anything that I should be tuned in to, and (b) for validation. He calls it like he sees it, and we see eye-to-eye. Here, for good measure, is another link, entitled "No, Ms. Reddick, God doesn't sanction your homophobia".

Leonard Pitts, Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald and winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

People Who Speak for Me: Keith Olbermann

Being a medical student in the mid-1990s, I chose not to have cable TV, for I knew that it would likely be such a temptation and time-waster that it would lead to my downfall. Not wanting to emulate Dr. Nick Riviera ("Hi, everybody!"), I set my sights higher and hopefully have achieved some Julius Hibbertness and/or Hawkeye Piercitude. Note to self: TV doctors as role models makes for another interesting blog topic.

Anyhoo, I apparently missed the best Sportscenters ever, with Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann elevating the show into their own art form. The anchors that have succeeded them are entertaining enough, but I can't help but feel like they're living in the shadows of those two giants. This must be how the baby boomers feel when they tell me that all of the good songs have already been written.

So now, Olbermann has found a new voice on MSNBC. He's had quite the career metamorphosis. As a modern-day Edward R. Murrow disciple ("Good night, and good luck"), he has settled onto my list of TV personalities who speak for me, such as Jon Stewart and Lewis Black. Now that school is long gone, I can finally see for myself what mischief Keith is up to.

For the video link, I've selected Keith's piece on gay marriage. This is a major issue for me. In fact, I see the parallels between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and I hope that future generations will look back in wonderment at a time when two people couldn't marry because of their sex. Take it away, Keith:

Monday, December 08, 2008

People Who Speak for Me: Deepak Chopra

OK, I realized I don't have to number all of these lists. I'm not that OCD. Plus, numbering might imply rankings, whereas the truth is that these are just coming out as they come in, i.e. when I bump into something that makes me go "Hmmm..." I'm resisting the urge to hotlink to Arsenio Hall and/or C&C Music Factory right now.

So on the Huffington Post, Deepak Chopra rips Sean Hannity a new one. He hits all the right notes, especially with jingoism, which is not one that always gets thrown in to the mix. That's the cherry on top.

Funniest Things on the Internet: LOLcats

more animals

My friends knew that this was coming. I have appreciated the LOLcats for a while. Such a great concept. Once you get familiar with the concept of pidgin-English-speaking cats who get themselves into all kinds of photographically captured predicaments, then you are in for a treat: quick servings of humor, little bites delivered with pizzazz, just perfect for our fast-paced culture. Need to blow off steam for a few seconds? Just go to I Can Has Cheezburger? for a quick pick-me-up.

Need a good low-cost Christmas gift? Check out the first LOLcat book. Note to self: figure out how to get $$$ for click-outs...

I saw with envy where the demand was so great that the site manager had to hire an editor (or was it a few? I honestly forget) to look over the submissions. Talk about your sweet job!

So here's to you, LOLcats, and that bucket-deprived LOLrus.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

My funny wife #1: PZZA GUY

So, we're on the road yesterday, and we see a car with the license plate PZZA GUY.

"I don't think I'd advertise the fact that I'm a pizza delivery guy," I said.

"Maybe he owns the restaurant," said Mrs. Medic8r, "or maybe he's got really bad acne."

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Below is my response to a post on Dr. Dan Carlat's Psychiatry blog.

Here is the original story,
Why Americans Hate Pharma Almost As Much As They Hate Oil Companies: the Case of Cephalon

Disclosure: I am a speaker for Shire (Vyvanse).

I would take objection to the assertion that Vyvanse is not much of an improvement over Adderall XR. Briefly, there are many areas in which, both in study data and in my clinical experience, Vyvanse offers significant advantages over Adderall XR:

1. As a prodrug, it is true that abusability is greatly reduced. This is a significant advance.

2. Duration of action is greatly improved from an average of 8 hours (XR) to 12-13 hours. I had a lot of XR patients who were also taking Adderall tablets in the afternoon to keep them from crashing, and this is not necessary with Vyvanse.

3. Consistency of action is much improved. With XR, I had a lot of patients who swore it only lasted 4 hours - the second bead didn't kick in, or else kicked in too soon. You get a lot more smoothness and better patient-to-patient reliability with Vyvanse.

I do agree that Pharma has issues with patent games, isomers, metabolites, etc. There's still plenty of cynic in me - I haven't drunk all the corporate Kool-Aid. However, picking Shire as an example in the original story really wasn't that fair, as you sort of pointed out, Dan.

Keep up the good work, and I'll keep reading. Cheers!

J.P. Swing MD
Fredericksburg, VA

Funniest Things on the Internet, #1: Failblog.org

Wow, no pressure there, finding the funniest thing on the internet. Guess I could clarify and title this "funniest thing on the internet that I just came across and had to link to on my blog", but that's not as catchy, and I'm learning that eloquence is key in my attempt at world domination.

So, as far as "teh intarwebs" go, with memes and new slang and almost a whole new language, the concept of "FAIL!" has to rank pretty high up there. When somebody fails with utter thoroughness and/or when it's done with flair, you get an "EPIC" FAIL. Then, you can envision the opposite of FAIL, which is "WIN". Here's hoping my blog is full of nothing but WIN.

In the meantime, my five regular readers can amuse themselves with this montage of mascots demonstrating the EPIC FAIL:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Signs of the Apocalypse, #1: Monopoly, Electronic Banker Edition.

So, there's a new Monopoly edition out:

Mrs. Medic8r and I saw this ad the other day and were struck by two things. One, when you take out the cash element, there goes millions of kids losing an opportunity to learn some arithmetic.

Two, and even more sinister given the current economic crisis, is that now millions of kids will learn how to charge everything in sight on a credit card. Great. Just great.

"Fast and without cash, that's how I play ..." That's the scariest thing I heard on TV all week.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Star Trek Movie, v11.0b

I have mixed emotions about the new Star Trek movie. I’ll lead with the positive. I’ve been a Trekkie for twenty-plus years, and I have a healthy respect for the concept and for the franchise. Gene Roddenberry deserves a lot of credit for his positive vision of the future, where humanity has not just survived, but thrived.

I was born during the run of the original series, so I have only been able to appreciate it in reruns, but I absolutely loved Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). I bought fanzines, consulted episode guides, bought action figures, read the paperbacks, bought the comic books - the whole works. The characters were rich, the writing was spot-on, and the production values were high.

TNG segued smoothly into StarTrek: Deep Space 9 (DS9), which I enjoyed for a while, though I didn’t follow that series to the end. I never got into Star Trek: Voyager, and I lost interest in the Trek world for a while. However, I really liked Enterprise, especially in high-definition. I caught seasons 3 and 4 in first-run, and then I saw Seasons 1 and 2 in HD on my big screen. Very nice.

Enterprise was a good reboot of the TV franchise, which by 2001 had gotten a bit long in the tooth, a bit too familiar. After all, how many series can you really build around the same concept, no matter how good it is? Even the CSI and Law and Order guys seem to agree that three is the max before the series start to blur together.

Nonetheless, for a fifth Trek TV series, Enterprise captured my imagination. This was largely because it was a good prequel. The producers made the wise decision to step out of the progression of Trek universe time and look at how the Federation came to be. This freshening worked because it offered something new and gave us a sense that we were witnessing history. There was something cute and charming about seeing these early spacemen, knowing that they were going to pass the baton to Kirk a few generations later and then to Picard a few more generations after that. Alas, not enough people shared my enthusiasm, and Enterprise barely got renewed for its fourth and final season, which ended in 2005. After having a first-run Trek series broadcast each year from 1987 to 2005, no new Trek series will air on TV for the foreseeable future.

The movies, likewise, have suffered with age. The first six were pretty easy to keep track of, as they had the original series’ cast, and the often-heard aphorism about the even-numbered ones being the best was pretty accurate. Once those actors got too old to continue, the movies turned to the cast of TNG, which was coming off of its successful seven-year TV run. However, after 4 Next Generation Trek movies of worsening quality, it was clear that, if another movie was going to be made, it would have to undergo some kind of makeover like the TV series did.

Recent reboots of movie franchises such as Batman and James Bond have worked in a big way, so it’s only logical to hope that the Trek creative team can succeed as well. The trailers look promising, with action and visuals that trump anything the Trek world has ever seen. And, on the one hand, the prequel strategy that worked on TV is clearly where Paramount has placed its bet.

Here’s where my main beef comes in. Call me old, but since when was a fleet’s flagship vessel run entirely by twenty-somethings? These guys (and gals) look like they should be sneaking a horse into the dean’s office, not seeking out new civilizations. The only First Contact they look ready for is with their significant others’ parents.

This is a reboot on steroids. A reboot that goes to eleven. A reboot that is hard to take seriously, when I stop and think. As my friend Bren asked, “Is this the Star Trek version of Muppet Babies?” I’m going to have to take a big swig of Suspension of Disbelief when I buy my ticket or, more likely, wait for the Blu-ray so I can see it in my home theater. Here’s to holding out hope for some more Trek magic.

Monday, November 24, 2008

C'mon, China - Grow a Pair!

So, I log in to my Yahoo home page and see an AP story on how a state-published Chinese newspaper has declared the new Guns 'n' Roses album an attack on the Chinese people and their nation. The headline: "American band releases album venomously attacking China".

The article in the Global Mail did not go into any detail as far as lyrical content. Rather, It seemed to object solely to the title of the album: "Chinese Democracy".

That sound you just heard was me smacking my forehead in disbelief. Well, not disbelief, exactly, because this is actually very believable, or even predictable, given the Communist Party's thin skin. Rather than ignore this album, to shrug it off as they should have, they've just shown again what heights of inanity you can achieve when you really try. Idiots.

You'd think that with all of the public relations push around the Olympics to try and show the West that China is a happy and friendly place that the Chinese would not be bothered by something as minor as an album title from a band that was last relevant over 15 years ago.

Here, I guess it makes sense to acknowledge the difference between the average Joe - What's Chinese for Joe, anyway? - on the streets and the men in power at the Communist Party. The average citizen probably is a friendly guy, even if he's learned not to speak out against the government. When I went to Hong Kong in 2004 - I know, not the best representation of your everyday average Chinese guy, to paraphrase Joe Walsh - the people I met were all very welcoming, friendly, accommodating, intellectually curious, even.

The rulers, on the contrary, have shown once again just how paranoid, petty, and small they are. I guess totalitarians always are, for fear that they will be overthrown. Duh, right? But it just seems so absurd that the leadership, via this article, would even need to acknowledge the album, much less label it a threat. The only thing that Axl Rose and company are a threat to is a recording budget. Well, maybe aging gracefully, or leaving when your welcome has worn out.

Anyway, back on rant: what a bunch of crybabies. Maybe they think their article will make others think twice before being mean to China. "BAD! Bad rock band!" More seriously, I guess it can just serve their internal propaganda machine, making the populus aware of the "threats" against them and tightening the Party's grasp on power. Nothing like stirring up a little xenophobia. I feel sorry for the Chinese - at least when that happens over here, we can vote the jokers out of office. With our democracy.

Hmm, maybe the Party is onto something after all...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Look, Honey! His first post! Isn't it cuuuute?!

I'm planting my flag.

medic8r manor is open for tours. Hopefully I'll be able to provide something original and useful. These days, original is in short supply. Seems like most of my web life is following links my friends have sent (I like doing that - don't stop!) or checking for new content on my bookmarked sites.

I frequent the Axiom Audio message boards as medic8r
and enjoy the community wit and wisdom there.

Wish I knew how to beautify that link.

I gots a lot to learn 'bout blogging.

Addendum, 11-24-08. I have assimilated my Axiom board knowledge and fixed the link. Beautification complete. Resistance is futile. Exterminate!