Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Want To Have David Wong's Baby

WHY, you ask? Partly because I've always had good, sometimes spectacular results with guys named David. Partly because he wrote this article.

The fact that it turned up in Cracked makes me love him even more.

Man Blames Car Wreck On Prehistoric Winged Reptile

By Rachel Schleif, Wenatchee World

DATELINE: WENATCHEE -- A 29-year-old Wenatchee man told police a pterodactyl caused him to drive his car into a light pole about 11:30 p.m. Thursday. Wenatchee police cited the man with first-degree negligent driving. A breathalyzer test showed "a minimal amount of alcohol," said Wenatchee police Sgt. Cherie Smith. Witnesses told police the man was northbound on Wenatchee Avenue and drifted into a southbound lane for less than a block. Oncoming traffic stopped and waited for the man to pass, Smith said. He then totaled his car on a light pole, Smith said. When police asked the man what caused the accident, his one-word answer was "pterodactyl," Smith said.

A pterodactyl was a giant winged reptile that lived more than 65 million years ago.

The man was treated and released at Central Washington Hospital, hospital officials said.

I have a number of thoughts on this article, forwarded by a party who wishes to remain nameless:

A) Do you have any idea how many B-movies start out exactly this way? The first witness is always bundled off to the nearest hospital by the authorities, on the assumption that he has a busted skullbone. By the end of the second reel, a small town in the Southwestern desert or the loneliest part of the Eastern seaboard is being TORN ASUNDER by the airborne menace. The fact that he was "treated and released" proves that there was NOTHING WRONG WITH HIM.

B) I happen to know that the Wenatchee P.D. is brutal on drunk drivers. The blood-alcohol level was clearly very low -- and thus not a factor -- in the sighting.

C) People just assume Michael Crichton is a novelist, but I want to remind you all that he bases his plotlines on hard scientific fact. They HAVE in fact found SOFT TISSUES, and and even DNA, in dinosaur bones, starting with a T. rex found at a spot that I think we can all agree is the perfect starting point for a horror picture: Hell Creek, in the Badlands.

D) The American public is unprepared for a dinosaur invasion. Witness the fact that the newspaper felt it necessary to explain to its fogbound readers what a Pterodactyl is. If they don't know that much, they probably won't fare as well as the plucky, resourceful shoppers you saw in The Mist. That's just my opinion.

E) It crossed my mind to wonder whether Pterodactyls dispense enormous bird-doodles, like the ones we saw in the Gamera remake. Or do they dive-bomb their victims with big, juicy golden apples?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Doctors Panic And Halt Research Study

OK, this is just in from the February 7th, 2008 paper -- it doesn't actually say which paper, but I have it narrowed down to either The Ann Arbor News or The Detroit Free Press -- and it any case it was apparently nabbed from The New York Times. Onwards.
Says here they were doing a large federally-funded research study on that hot death flavor of the decade, Diabetes mellitus Type II. Somebody proved years ago that if you have Type I or "juvenile" diabetes, and you keep your blood sugars as close to normal as possible, you live longer and don't go blind and la de da. As in, DUH. So they finally got around to finding out whether that holds true for Type II or "adult" diabetes as well. I could have saved them the money, but NOBODY LISTENS TO ME.
So the article tells us they've discovered that improving blood sugars in Type II diabetics "increased their risk of death." They then go on to explain in fairish detail why that is almost certainly NOT TRUE.
The study divided 10,000 test subjects into control and experimental groups. The controls did treatment as usual, and the experimentals were clobbered with all kinds of treatments, not only to keep their blood sugar low, but to lower their cholesterol and blood pressure and every other "risk factor" we've been pounded over the head with since the Seventies. They put these wretched creatures on all kinds of pills, PLUS insulin, sometimes even the insulin pump, normally used for hard-to-manage cases of juvenile diabetes if I recall correctly. They mentioned nothing about improving people's lifestyles, like making sure they eat right and get enough exercise, moral support and rest. Do I need to remind you at this juncture that many doctors believe the Atkins Diet is healthy?
OK, so out of 2 groups of 5,000 people, over the course of over 5 years, 54 more people in the experimental group died than in the control group. Did the doctors reassess their methods? Did they ask themselves whether it's really wise to heap all these chemicals into experimental subjects, averaging age 62, who may have been sick for decades already? Did they look into how long or how effectively the goners had gotten treatment before the study started? Did they reckon on the stress and strain to the test subjects of having to test their blood and pop pills all day long, shoot up endlessly, and count out the individual rice grains and celery sticks and slices of low-carb artificial banana they were allowed to eat on a daily basis?
NO, THEY DID NOT. The docs panicked, and decided to put the remaining experimentals on the same regimes as the controls. So, basically, the study is over and I suppose they have to give the remaining federal funds back. I note with fascination that the article DOESN'T EVEN TELL US WHAT THESE PEOPLE DIED OF. Hell, it could have been anything. Maybe they fell down the stairs. In any case, if they died of anything diabetes-related, they don't mention it in the article. Which, I don't know, seems like an important point.
I'm reminded, irresistably, of the oft-quoted fact (?) that most heart attacks occur at 9 a.m. on Mondays. I just picture some 85-year-old test subject waking up one morning. He looks blearily at his vast pill organizer, his vials and syringes, his alcohol swabs, his food chart, his tasteless breakfast comprising 5 thimblefuls of different-colored Soylent crumbs...and cheering up as he reaches for the rat poison instead. Are you digging me?
Another important point: the article's author is Gina Kolata. Despite her status as a prominent health writer, she is in good odor with me because of her inability to keep her story straight. Someday I'll review her book on the 1918 flu epidemic. It's a comedy classic.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Tomorrow Is The Feast Day Of St. Phil

Here's my Quote of the Day, actually DUELLING QUOTES from an article that was rightly and fittingly placed on the front page of today’s Livingston County, Michigan Daily Press & Argus:

First, the Aneristic (Greyface) Quote Of The Day:
"Groundhogs don't speak to us. We don't believe in that." -- Dana DeBenham, wildlife director at the Howell, MI Nature Center and evidently quite a pickle puss
And here we have the Eristic Rebuttal:
"Groundhogese isn't like learning French or Spanish. If you have the gene, it's fun and the day serves the purpose it was invented for. If you don't have the gene, we'd just as soon you stay away and keep to yourself." -- Bill Cooper, Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle president, "whose ears will be privy to Phil's declaration" -- Kristofer Karol, ace reporter for the Press & Argus

I HARDLY FEEL IT’S A COINCIDENCE that the first person I discussed this with told me that not only was she born on Groundhog Day, but she grew up only a stone’s throw from Punxsutawney Phil’s sacred temple in Pennsylvania. This information came about 1 minute from the news flash that her boss, in whose office we were standing, is married to someone who was ALSO born on the Feast Day Of St. Phil, the Weather-Predicting Groundhog.

EVERY DAY that someone takes time out of the usual busy day to investigate, speculate about, comment on and PUBLISH FINDINGS on something like the precognitive power of pudgy Midwestern rodents is proof that CHAOS IS WINNING.