Thyroid wars

As my aunt the nurse used to say, “Why do you think they call it ‘practicing’ medicine? Because they didn’t get it right yet.”

By the way, the endocrinologists told me that all of my side effects — the same ones listed on the pharmacy side effects list they give you — have “nothing to do with your medication.”

Did you hear

About the two dozen black kids who were gunned down yesterday?

Nope. Because it happened one at a time, in America’s inner cities. Only when we invade the sanctity of an American (preferably white) mall does anyone take notice.

All over the internets, arguments from gun lovers saying “do the math, more people are killed by X, Y or Z” than gun massacres. But the very people who are trying to control guns (like Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Guns) are dealing with the slow bleed of gunfire, not the spectacular media display of a massacre.

Abuse of the brain-injured for profit

Isn’t this heartbreaking, that these poor people were at the mercy of this for-profit abuse? Understand that until we have a national health care system, this kind of crap is inevitable – because when you place the health and well-being of the patient against the needs of a for-profit entity to keep cutting costs, hiring the cheapest employees and raising profits, what else can happen?

Soon after Peter Price arrived at the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation to recover from a brain injury, he pleaded for a rescue.

“Jess, they beat me up,” Price told his sister, Jessica Alopaeus, in May 2009. “You have to get me out of here.”

Neurologic Rehabilitation say staffers didn’t always restrain them in the proper way, kicking them and punching them in some instances. BARR restraint on an adult is supposed to be administered by three people on a 2 inch thick foam mat.

Staffers at his new home held him down and punched him in the face and groin, Price said. When Alopaeus’s efforts to transfer him stalled, Price said his desperation led him to a step aimed at speeding his release.

He swallowed five fish hooks and 22 AA batteries he’d picked up during a patient outing at Wal-Mart. After emergency surgery to remove the objects, he was allowed to transfer to another facility.

Residents at the Florida Institute have often been abused, neglected and confined, according to 20 current and former patients and their family members, criminal charges, civil complaints and advocates for the disabled.

These sources and over 2,000 pages of court and medical records, police reports, state investigations and autopsies contain an untold history of violence and death at the secluded institute known as FINR, which is located amid cattle ranches and citrus groves in Hardee County, 50 miles southeast of Tampa.

Patients’ families or state agencies have alleged abuse or care lapses in at least five residents’ deaths since 1998, two of them in the last 18 months. Three former employees face criminal charges of abusing FINR patients — one of whom was allegedly hit repeatedly for two hours in a TV room last September.

The complaints underscore the problems that 5.3 million brain-injured Americans are having finding adequate care. Their numbers are growing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as better emergency medicine and vehicle safety mean that fewer die from traffic accidents, bullet wounds and other causes of traumatic brain injuries.

The long-term ills range from memory loss and physical handicaps to the inability to control violent anger or sexual aggression. Yet because insurance benefits for rehabilitation are scarce, less than half of those who need it receive it, according to the Brain Injury Association of America.

Organized as a company and operated for profit since 1992, FINR has become one of the largest brain-injury centers in the country, with 196 beds. Three rival providers say they know of no place bigger. Multi-site operator NeuroRestorative, owned by a holding of buyout firm Vestar Capital Partners, handles more patients.

FINR hasn’t grown by opening its doors to anyone who needs rehabilitation, customers say. Rather, its marketing is focused on the relative few who can pay bills that reach $1,850 a day.

That includes those injured on jobs with generous worker’s compensation benefits, and car-crash victims in Michigan –which mandates unlimited lifetime benefits for automobile injury coverage.

Those who have clashed with the company over the treatment of patients say its efforts to keep costs down and extend the duration of stays take priority over care and rehabilitation.

“All people are to them is a monetary gain,” said Jana Thorpe, a professional guardian who removed one of her wards from the company’s care in 2008. “They don’t care if they do anything for them.”

The Verizon squeeze play

I’ve thought for a long time that a broad-based consumer movement that went after the phone and cable companies for anti-trust activity would be unstoppable:

Verizon is consciously making DSL less attractive just as they’ve signed a new co-marketing arrangement with cable — driving unwanted DSL users into the arms of cable operators, with the understanding they can sell these users more expensive LTE connections later.

There’s numerous reasons for wanting their DSL services to die off, including the fact that newer LTE technology is cheaper to deploy in rural areas and easier to keep upgraded. But one of the larger driving forces is that Verizon is eager to eliminate unions from their equation, given that Verizon Wireless is non union. None of this is theory; in fact it has been made very clear by Verizon executives.

[…] In other words, Verizon will cut off copper in FiOS markets first (which makes sense given the lower maintenance costs of fiber). They’ll then leave users in DSL-only markets un-upgraded, forcing them to buy a costly landline so that remaining on Verizon DSL becomes less attractive. Those customers will flee to the same cable companies Verizon just signed a massive new partnership with, with Verizon planning to sell those users more expensive LTE connection later. Verizon will continue to “compete” in FiOS areas for now, if you call winking and nodding when it’s time to raise prices competition.

Rural areas could see the biggest impact from the shift, as Verizon pulls DSL and instead sells those users LTE services with at a high price point ($15 per gigabyte overages). Verizon then hopes to sell those users cap-gobbling video services via their upcoming Redbox streaming video joint venture. Expect there to be plenty of gaps where rural users suddenly lose landline and DSL connectivity but can’t get LTE. With Verizon and AT&T having killed off regulatory oversight in most states — you can expect nothing to be done about it, despite both companies having been given billions in subsidies over the years to get those users online.
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Extremist whack jobs

Isn’t that nice. As C&L’s Dave Neiwart has pointed out again and again and again, Jerry Boykin is a right-wing nutjob of the most dangerous kind. The fact that he’s been hired by the Family Research Council underlines their own extreme positions:

The conservative Family Research Council has named a former top Delta Force commando and outspoken culture warrior, retired Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, to run its day-to-day operations.

Boykin’s appointment as executive vice president of the FRC, a mainstay of the Christian right, is designed in part to highlight conservative opposition to President Obama’s military policies, particularly his decision last year to repeal the Pentagon’s ban against gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces.

“The Obama administration has undermined our nation’s security and increased the risk to those who serve by systematically using our nation’s military to advance a liberal social agenda,” FRC President Tony Perkins said in announcing Boykin’s appointment on July 16.

“There is no one better equipped to speak on behalf of those who serve our nation in uniform and advocate for policies that uphold our national security than General Boykin.”

Boykin’s presence at the FRC is also likely to spotlight his many controversial statements about Islam.

Boykin first came to national attention in 2003 when it was revealed that the decorated battlefield veteran then serving as a top adviser at the Pentagon under President George W. Bush regularly told church audiences that the post-9/11 “war on terror” was a spiritual battle between Muslims and “Christian America.”

In one talk, Boykin recounted how he pursued a Muslim warrior in Somalia who claimed he had Allah on his side. “I knew that my God was bigger than his,” Boykin told the church in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 2002. “I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”

Is abortion fight about male control of family life?

Go on, read it all:

George Lakoff and Elizabeth Wehling think it’s highly unlikely that Catholic leaders and the religious and political right are going to admit that they’ve been wrong about the “morning-after” pill now that exhaustive research shows the pill delaying ovulation rather than preventing the implantation of a zygote. One of the central claims in the Catholic bishops’ attack on the Obama administration’s HHS guidelines is that the “morning-after” pill is an abortifacient, and the administration is requiring Catholic institutions to participate in abortions via its new HHS guidelines.

Lakoff and Wehling argue that scientific research and scientific truth simply don’t matter to those promoting false arguments about abortifacients and the “morning-after” pill. What matters is using overblown rhetoric about zygotes as persons to try to build up in the culture at large the emotional sense that a just-fertilized ovum is a baby, and should be treated as such if we don’t intend to succumb to barbarism.

I’d just like to add here an idea that’s been incubating in the back of my mind for a while. My mother was a “right to lifer”, as she called it. She had the little rose insignia on her handbag, she gave money to anti-abortion groups. I told her I thought she was being silly. It drove her nuts that she couldn’t make me agree.

Now, here’s the thing: By the time my mom got married, she was 28 and dying to be a mother. She gave birth to five children, delivered one still-born child, and had two second-trimester miscarriages, due to Rh negative incompatibility. If those pregnancies hadn’t gone wrong, she would have a brood of nine.

My mom was smart. She also wanted to be a singer, and she wanted to be a writer. (My dad gave her an electric typewriter one Christmas, but I don’t think she used it.) She told us there was no way you could do those things and be a mother at the same time. But then I proved her wrong, and I think she really resented it.

She had to make motherhood the most important thing, because it was the only thing she did.

So I wonder – not just with my mom, but with a lot of women, of all ages – if treating conception as a sacrament isn’t, on some level, a psychological sidestep to evade growing up, and evolving. And I don’t mean that as an insult to housewives. There are plenty of ways to mature and grow in that position, but some women cling to gender roles in the extreme. For example, my mom didn’t know much about the family finances; a lot of women do. Instead, she clung to some rather infantile ways.

When I got married, I was the same way about money. All of that logistical stuff was overwhelming, and I was happy to let my husband have all the power in exchange for his taking all the responsibility. (The irony of that was, I later realized that I’m the one who was good with money and strategy, not him. My problems grew mostly out of scarce resources, not out of poor judgment — and when I did make poor choices, I didn’t make the same mistake twice.)

The trap of putting all your intelligence and intensity into your children is that you can use it to justify your inability to function as an adult. And I wonder if that isn’t where all the anti-abortion fervor really comes from – that women are using motherhood as their rationale for existence. That it’s the only currency available to measure their sense of worth.

I dunno. What do you think?

Monkey see, monkey do

Nope, no problem with guns in this country, none at all:

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Maine State Police seized an arsenal of weapons from a Biddeford man who told police he brought a loaded gun to a showing of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises” in Saco on Saturday night, according to Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland.

Timothy Courtois, 49, was arrested in York about 10 a.m. Sunday after state police Trooper Phillip Alexander clocked Courtois’ Ford Mustang traveling at 112 mph on the Maine Turnpike. Other motorists had called police to report the vehicle was speeding southbound on the turnpike with its hazard lights flashing.

Inside the car, police found an AK-47 assault rifle, four handguns and several boxes of ammunition, McCausland said Monday afternoon.

Also in Courtois’ car, police found newspaper clippings about the mass shooting Friday during a showing of the same Batman movie at a Colorado movie theater, according to McCausland.

Courtois told police he had attended the Batman movie at the Cinemagic Theater in Saco on Saturday night with a loaded gun in his backpack and that he was on his way Sunday to Derry, N.H., where he planned to shoot a former employer, McCausland said.

“He didn’t speak to any intent to harm people [at the theater], but I’m sure a lot of this is going to continue to come out” as agencies including the state police, FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives continue their investigations, Maine State Police Lt. Kevin Donovan said Monday.

“We don’t know what his true intentions were” when he brought the gun to the theater, and investigators are trying to determine his reasons for doing so and for having a large collection of firearms, McCausland said.

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