Archive for the 'Medicine' Category

The hardships of starting and owning a brothel

Ever dream as a kid of growing up and owning your own brothel? Perhaps you pictured beautiful ladies leading men by their shirt collars from room to room while you sat in your swivel chair at the base of the stairs, smoking a pipe and counting your money.

Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but owning a brothel just isn’t as easy as you might think!

The doctor behind Whalers – the Far North’s only brothel – may have to return to medicine to prop up his struggling business.

Dr Neil Benson says he has struggled to find the right women to work at the brothel and has already dismissed one worker.

The brothel has had a shaky start since it opened in May and has only been open 10 days this month.

“It’s been a slow start, which is what we thought,” Dr Benson said. “We’ve had a bit of gap between the last ladies and another lady who is coming up to work today.

“Financially it’s difficult but we’ll get there. I may have to go out and do some locum work.

“We haven’t made any money for ourselves – it’s been a big financial loss.”

Later, we find out why he decided to leave the medical practice:

Dr Benson closed his Coopers Beach clinic in April last year after a dispute with the Te Tai Tokerau Primary Health Organisation over the provision of after-hour care.

So he got frustrated and yelled out: “Screw you guys! I’ll just go start a brothel!”

Related posts: Interview with Ace of Trump, Must resist desire to make ‘Saved by the Bell’ pun, How influential is porn?

Interview with Gene Expression

Razib Khan runs the weblog “Gene Expression,” for SEED MAGAZINE in the Science Blog consortium. Additionally, he also cofounded the stand alone weblog “Gene Expression“, which has been commenting on genetics and related fields for the past 4 years. Razib has a background in biochemistry, but has been working in the IT industry of late, though he plans to return to science in the near future and pursue work at the convergence of evolution and genomics.

Simon Owens: As you seem the hint at in your posts concerning the controversies over Darwinian Evolution, many people like to take objective arguments and spin them into quasi-objective-mostly-subjective spin arguments. Since creating a blog that tackles a lot of these controversies, has your concept of Truth (and I leave that with a capital T on purpose) changed at all?

Razib Khan: Yes. I appreciate the problems with subjective bias which have spurned the growth of Post Modernism, but I am angry at the laziness that those who concede the game exhibit. Truth exists, it is simply hard work. It is a process and there is a lot of noise which is a necessary byproduct of working through issues. Ultimately tactical truth, or winning each battle, is far less important than the big picture strategy of ultimately batting above random expectation (which pre-modern storytelling tends not to do). Good faith is important. Ego is not.

Simon Owens: Many science bloggers (I’ve noticed) have almost a guilty pleasure in debunking psuedo-science claims, especially ones that try to disprove evolution. Do you sometimes feel that anti-evolutionists are engaging in intellectual dishonesty, or that they truly believe the shaky logic that they subscribe to?

Razib Khan: It isn’t a pleasure of mine insofar as it takes away from real scientific discourse. In any case, there are two categories of anti-evolutionists

1) Casual man-on-the-street types. These are sincere, but their beliefs are shallow, superficial and unreflective. Often they are guided by vague intuitions supplemented by a few talking points they don’t understand (e.g., “Second Law of Thermodynamics means evolution can’t occur”). They don’t really care about the issue as such aside from the cultural totemic significance it imparts.

2) Professional anti-evolutionists. I believe these do believe in their big picture, but in the details they are often insincere in that they use the mass support drawn from #1 to bolster their case, and often make appeals to “common sense” which I believe are disingenious, or, promote quasi-scientific perceptions in the “interests of the cause.” There is a lot of diversity in this group which they elide over because contradictions, conflicts and lack of paradigmitic coherency would make their “case” less compelling to group #1, who want a simple appealing argument against scientific sophisticates. Though on a deep level these anti-evolutionists have a genuine belief, I believe in their tactical behavior they tend to exhibit a lot of dishonesty and double-dealing (though I suspect they justify this by “ends” based reasoning).

Simon Owens: Have you ever read any of the famous anti-evolution books out there? Like Darwin’s Black Box? Do the authors ever point out things in these books that you (and other science bloggers) have trouble explaining or refuting?

Razib Khan: Yes. I read “Darwin’s Black Box.” The arguments in this book are not particularly technical or difficult to refute with either analysis, historical context or a cursory examination of the literature, but some of William Dembski’s work on “Information Theory” is (for me) a bit obscure and so I don’t have immediate “refutations,” but it seems that acquaintances and online resources are always available to provide explanations why his arguments are fallacious. The rule-of-thumb is that in regards to in-the-trenches science anti-evolutionists never really put up, but, they are on more solid ground when it comes to meta-scientific, that is, philosophical, objections. That being said, the latter are generally not in the category of first-order scientific objections because they are strongly contingent on axioms held a priori. See Alvin Platinga’s ideas in regards to Presuppositionalism for objections which I find to be coherent but besides the point. On point objections tend to always be false, incoherent or weak.

Simon Owens: How do you relate to the other science blogs around you? Does there seem to be a real dialog between science bloggers on new and developing issues?

Razib Khan: I check in on blogs where I don’t know the details of an issue, like Real Climate, now and then, or drop by bloggers who focus on topics I have a deep interest in, like Evolgen. Myself, at Science Blogs, I think I am somewhat to the Right of most of the other bloggers so I’d probably have a more “conservative” take on most issues, but I’m not too concerned with or focused on public policy. In terms of the science I think there is a lot of cross-fertilization between affinal fields, so that I might get into the nitty-gritty in terms of evolutionary and population genetics with a blogger whose main focus is more in marine ecology or microbiology, and vice versa, and there is enough difference for their to be illumination but enough common lexicon for their to be understanding.

Simon Owens: What are some of the coolest discoveries in genetics that you’ve come across in the last few years?

Razib Khan: Some of the work on the HapMap in regards to possibility of recent human selection. Further elucidation of the reality of parental specific genomic imprinting come to mind as well. Also some of the recent extractions of ancient DNA. Finally, some of the work which focuses on genes which have paleoanthroplogical significance, like FOXP2.

Simon Owens: What are the five blogs you’d recommend to supplement the reading of your own?

Razib Khan: John Hawks
Robert Skipper
Carl Zimmer

The untouchable is now touchable: Abstinence-only education being pushed towards medical students

You ever have one of those instances in elementary or middle school that you look back and wish you knew what you know now so you could raise your hand and argue with the teacher? When I was in middle school and we were having our second installment of sex education (the first was in fifth grade), a stocky, butch PE teacher told us about how sexually transmitted diseases could not only be given through broken condoms, but that they could actually slip THROUGH THE FIBERS of unbroken condoms. Therefore, nothing but abstinence was safe. Boys just wanted sex and you don’t have to prove your love by having sex. I’m sure you’ve heard all this before.

But the great thing about propaganda being shoved down your throat while you’re young is the fact that when you get older, you can figure stuff out on your own (this is why I don’t know why conservatives are getting their panties bunched up over teachers toting their liberal beliefs in the classroom). If I could travel back in time, I could ask the teacher, “What about people who don’t ever want to get married? Which partner should they have sex with?” or any number of rebuttals. But alas, I can’t. Like everyone else in the world, I grew up to learn that sex wasn’t so bad and it didn’t destroy lives and that people have sex all the time (average age of males for losing virginity is 16, I think, and girls are 17).

Realizing all this, conservatives are now pushing their ideology towards a much more dangerous student body: Medical students.

Conservatives teach sex ed to medical students. Thanks, Congress.:

As Michael Specter pointed out in The New Yorker last month, the Bush administration spends hundreds of millions of dollars touting the benefits of abstinence. Most abstinence-promoting programs waste the government’s money funneling misinformation directly to adolescents. But one such group, the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, has another audience in mind—medical students. With the help of Congress, the institute has finagled $200,000 out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a sexual-health curriculum for doctors in training. It’s a small bit of pork, but it represents the hijacking of a government agency that normally funds research based on merit. And the CDC’s imprimatur could persuade medical schools to use the institute’s work.

As most people know, abstinence-only programs are not only ineffective, they’re dangerous as well. Because all they do is promote ignorance and misinformation, students are unable to take necessary safety precautions and instead end up pregnant or with an STD. Now that this ignorance is being pushed towards medical students, things have gotten so much darker.

The program is headed by Dr. Joe McIlhaney, someone who Feministing has accused of rape and denying emergency contraception to women.

I want to be outraged at all this, but instead I’m just sad.

How NOT to commit suicide

Over here is a fascinating article on the different realms of suicide– its stages and the aftermath. It begins by highlighting those who attempt to aid people in suicide by publishing books detailing how to do so efficiently, and then moves on to suicide prevention networks and the emergency personel who get called to suicide scenes.

When a genuine myth rises into consciousness, Ursula Le Guin wrote in The Language of the Night (Spring ’81 CQ., p. 54), the message is always: You must change your life. Each suicide attempt, I’m convinced, carries that message: to the person who tries it, to the people who are close to that person, and to the rest of us as a society. I think what happens after a suicide attempt is a sort of autopsy of what’s best and worst about our culture. Here is some of that story.

It ends with the author’s own shifting philosophical view on suicide. Though long, this article is well worth reading.

via metafilter

Interview with Ace of Trump

Ace of Trump: By way of introduction, I’d just say that I’m a 42 year old glaucoma specialist who’s been practicing in Illinois for 11 years after training in New York and Philadelphia.

Simon Owens: As a doctor, how efficient do you think American health insurance companies are compared to other countries?


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