Tungtide

But the Blog is Dead

Posted by tungtide on February 24, 2009, 5:28 pm

Okay, I think it’s blatantly obvious that I’m not going to be updating. Rather than continually posting “Still Alive” type entries, I’m going to declare this blog dead.

There will be no further updates. I had fun, I learned, I found out that there are better people to blog on these subjects. Rather than link others on a regular basis (and because I don’t have the motivation to come up with original content often enough) I’ll leave this project alone.

Comments will be closed to avoid trolling, spam, and irrelevant commenting.

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Still Alive

Posted by tungtide on February 11, 2009, 2:45 pm

Damn, it’s been months since I touched this blog. Guess it’s time to get up and writing again.

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Long Time Coming

Posted by tungtide on November 11, 2008, 9:39 pm

I haven’t posted in a while now. I still plan to continue the discussion with Janelle and her father in a following post. This is a quick update to show that I’m still alive and to share a new link (where I recently commented).

http://burnthescript.com/

The post on gay marriage attracted an interesting commenter and brought up a host of good issues. I personally voted against the proposition but ended up in the minority. California appears ready to amend its constitution to include discrimination.

I’ll be back more often

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Quickie

Posted by tungtide on October 2, 2008, 8:16 am

If only it were this easy:

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Clauses

Posted by tungtide on September 24, 2008, 10:18 am

One of the many issues that I follow and rant about (in my head, if nowhere else) involves “conscience clauses” for medical professionals. These are legal loopholes that allow the religiously minded to deny treatment to patients on “ethical” grounds. I put the word ethical in quotations because I see nothing ethical about denying treatment to a patient.

Conscience clauses in the news are often associated with pharmacists and their right to deny birth control to patients that have the medication prescribed by a doctor. This release by Health and Human Services seeks to define (and potentially expand) the legislation surrounding conscience clauses.

“This proposed regulation is about the legal right of a health care professional to practice according to their conscience,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience. Freedom of expression and action should not be surrendered upon the issuance of a health care degree.”

I couldn’t disagree more. Based on how I’m reading this release, a doctor can claim religious or conscience-related disagreement with ANY procedure, patient, or disease. If a doctor believes that HIV is a malady designed to exterminate gays from the planet this legislation would make that a legitimate belief and allow the doctor to deny treatment to the patient. Freedom of expression and action should not be surrendered, but the obligation of a health care provider is to provide health care.

While it would strengthen provider conscience rights, the proposed regulation would in no way restrict health care providers from performing any legal service or procedure. If a procedure is legal, a patient will still have the ability to access that service from a medical professional or institution that does not assert a conflict of conscience.

That’s nice, but it fails to address a significant problem or two: First, there may not be a qualified professional or institution that is easily reachable aside from the location involved. That location may also choose to deny treatment and further distress the patient. Second, there is no clause listed that directs the medical professional or institution to recommend an alternate location. The doctor may simply deny treatment, avoid even telling patients of available options, or refuse to provide information about a treatment center that would perform the procedure.

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Lazy

Posted by tungtide on September 19, 2008, 2:36 pm

I’ve been slow at updating, I know. I have a couple posts in the draft stage but nothing that I feel is finished enough to post. I’ll try to put a few posts together this weekend to make up for the serious lack of anything over the last month.

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Return

Posted by tungtide on September 16, 2008, 8:40 am

I am alive and well, have returned from my vacation, and will follow up this evening with a more substantial post. Following my oral exam success I decided that my physical vacation would be extended onto the internet as well. I needed a short break as I had spent much too much time thinking and analysing over the preceeding few weeks.

I’ve seen the idiocy that is Sarah Palin, the hypocrisy that is John McCain, and the weak response from the Obama campaign against an opponent that has given dozens of openings. I don’t really plan to discuss most of the events that transpired over the last couple weeks since they have been done better by other people: see The Fletcher Memorial and (((Billy))) The Atheist.

I’m currently in a transitional period where I need to begin to do all the things I proposed (with the exception of my previously completed work). This leaves me with a more open schedule and the ability to post more frequently when topics are available.

One final note. Ask A Scientician is lacking updates (it’s been 5 weeks) and I’ll begin posting over there again this week.

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Success

Posted by tungtide on August 29, 2008, 12:36 pm

Had I thought through the titles of my posts I would have made the previous one “24 hours to go” and followed up with this one being called “I wanna be sedated.” Still, I was at least able to have Success and Fail as titles within a short period of time.

I did indeed pass my oral exam yesterday. For those who may not know, I’m working on a Ph.D in Pharmacology and Toxicology.  I stood in front of five faculty members (4 Ph.D’s and one M.D), presented my proposed research, and answered questions on just about any related subject. After an hour and 45 minutes of testing the committee decided that I passed. The average amount of time to pass this exam is usually around 2.5 hours, so I was able to succeed rather quickly.

The exam itself begins with a 10-15 minute presentation where I introduce my preposed research, background information, and the significance of my work. Aside from having the hypothesis and specific aims of my research pre-written on the board, I have no other information available to me. Everything must be from memory. Once the presentation is complete the committee is allowed to ask just about any relevant question about my research and the associated science.

I had questions about dose-response curves, histological signs of toxicity following exposure to chemicals, compensatory changes in gene knockout animals, methods associated with proteomics (although I amazingly avoided mass spectrometry related questions, an area I know well), and experimental design with appropriate numbers of samples and appropriate controls.

It was a tiring and difficult experience. I slept a good 13-15 hours yesterday (not quite sure when I fell asleep at one point) because I seem to have been running on caffeine and willpower.

All I have remaining is another three years to complete my research.

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24 Hours

Posted by tungtide on August 27, 2008, 9:03 am

In only a meager twenty-four hours I will be beginning an exam that will determine my future in graduate school. The oral qualifying exam is the last hurdle before I achieve Candidacy for my doctorate. All I need to be able to do is convince five well-informed, expert faculty members that I know enough about my chosen field and area or research to continue to stay at the institution. Easy, right? I’ve spent months preparing and more than a month in intensive study and rehersal/practice.

After this is all said and done I will be doing two things (aside from the celebratory use of alcohol): taking a much needed vacation and updating this blog on a more frequent basis. As I said at the beginning of the month, August was going to be light on updates.

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Simplicity

Posted by tungtide on August 18, 2008, 11:21 pm

Rarely have I seen such a clear and well-worded response to those who claim atheists function solely to attack god. BGH of The Information Paradox says it best.

I cannot rail against that which I disbelieve. I can only rail against the actions of those who use their belief as motivation to infringe on my rights.

Still, despite the irrationality (and my poor transition), more than 50% of adults in a recent survey said that they believe god could miraculously save a terminal patient when all medical information claimed the opposite. I understand the desire to see a loved one recover, the belief that they will somehow get better. I even understand that doctors and nurses need to be patient and understanding with the variety of beliefs in this country. I wonder, though, what the cost might be. A brain-dead patient in a hospital consumes resources (food, IV, equipment, staff time, etc.) that could easily be redirected to help another (as much as I hate to say it this way) more viable patient. On top of that, a prolonged hospital stay does nothing but rack up bills that are either covered by the family or by the insurance. The family can easily be bankrupted by the excessive costs, while the insurance companies will pass the costs along to the living.

Finally, the California Supreme Court ruled that doctors cannot refuse to treat gay and lesbian individuals based on religious objections. The case involved fertility doctors that began treating a lesbian woman but refused to perform the actual artificial insemination. The lawyer for the clinic had this to say:

“The Supreme Court’s desire to promote the homosexual lifestyle at the risk of infringing upon the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion is what the public needs to learn about,” said Tyler, who leads the nonprofit Advocates for Faith and Freedom in Murrieta, Calif.

My initial concerns about the ruling were cleared up after reading the statement. No one would be batting an eyelash if the doctors refused to treat a hispanic patient because of her race, or a Jewish patient because of her religion. Freedom of religion allows you to believe what you would like, but not to use that as a justification to treat other people differently. The doctors in this case are offering a service. They must either offer the service to all individuals or none. It is unethical to charge different rates for different groups, and it is just as unethical to refuse to treat a group.

The closest parallel that I could think of is the ongoing kerfuffle about pharmacists and birth control. Pharmacists who believe birth control is tantamount to abortion will refuse to fill prescriptions for the pill. The result is a prescription held hostage by religious belief. Certain loopholes in the law (as far as I remember it) allow the pharmacist to transfer the prescription to another pharmacist or pharmacy that will fill the order. In some cases the pharmacists were refusing to transfer the order and holding it in limbo. While I’m unsure about the legality, I would think that a pharmacy that opposed birth control would simply not carry it, and would not accept the prescriptions in the first place. This would simplify the process and allow all parties to get what they needed. Then again, in some rural areas there is only one pharmacy (others may be 50-100 miles away and have the same objection) and this would effectively deny the patient of a legally prescribed medicine. Guess simplicity isn’t the answer.

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