Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Commercials for Drugs: Ablixa, Epiphanix?

We recently watched the movie Side Effects. It was good, I recommend it.

The DVD had links to extra stuff, including two "drug" commercials. But the links didn't work: a message said that was because it was a rental DVD: you have to buy the commercial DVD to view the extra features.

One commercial was for "Ablixa", the antidepressant featured in the movie. The other drug, I think, may have been "Epiphanix", which I found on Youtube? I'm not sure, but here is Epiphanix anyway. Warning: it's probably not for the squeamish:



     

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Tsunami Movie Special Effects

I posted previously about the movie The Impossible. The special effects were very good.

Here is a website showing how they did it. Lots of pics, and two video clips. It's fascinating.
     

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What Young Voter's REALLY Think

About Republicans. And why:

The Real Reason Young People Don’t Like Republicans
[...] It’s true that most polls find strong support for same-sex marriage among young people. The report, mainly written by Winston Group pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, tries to gauge how important the issue is in driving their votes. It finds that 26 percent of young voters favor same-sex marriage and wouldn’t vote for a candidate who opposes it even if they agreed with that candidate on most other issues. Some of those voters, maybe most of them, must lean toward the Democrats on issues other than same-sex marriage. So Republicans are losing some young voters on this issue, but it may not be central to the party’s troubles.

And young people aren’t socially liberal when it comes to abortion. In the College Republicans’ March survey, 51 percent of them believed abortion should be banned altogether or with exceptions in unusual circumstances. They aren’t all that liberal on immigration, either. About 65 percent of young voters favored deporting illegal immigrants, enforcing the law before offering them legal status, or offering them legal status but not citizenship -- all positions to the right of the immigration bill now being debated in the Senate. Young voters also consider climate change a low-priority issue.

Economic Concerns

They are deeply concerned, on the other hand, about economic issues. And Republicans have a lot of work to do on them. A majority of young voters think the party’s economic policies played a big role in the recession. They don’t follow Republican politicians in thinking that higher taxes on the rich are higher taxes on small business. Although they tend to agree with Republicans about the future of entitlement programs for the elderly, they are much more worried about the here-and-now. (The report cites a survey showing 20 percent of young people had delayed marriage because of the economy.) They consider student-loan debt a major obstacle to their goals.

And they give President Barack Obama credit for trying to help the economy, reduce their debt burden, and fix health care. Among those young voters who approve of Obama’s job performance, “trying” was the No. 1 word they used about him -- as in, he has been trying to improve things.

They think that public spending should be cut and that government is too big. Fighting big government is, however, a much lower priority for them than expanding the economy, reforming the safety net and controlling the national debt.

To my eye, these findings suggest there is an opening among young people for Republicans who advance credible plans to reduce the cost of health care and college, to foster job growth, to control the national debt and to address the other issues they consider important. Republicans will want those plans to involve shrinking the government, but that shouldn’t be their chief selling point. If they can do that -- a big if, for many reasons -- Republicans will also get credit from young voters for trying, whereas they now seem reflexively anti-Obama. It will also make them seem more intelligent, which is a quality that young people, according to the report, prize more than coolness. [...]
Republicans had a chance to fix things like health care, but they chose other priorities, and they are paying the price for it now.

Currently, the Republican Party is having a problem adapting to changing demographics. They keep trying to appeal to a majority of Americans that no longer exist as a majority. Time to adapt, or die. I think ultimately they will adapt, but there will be growing pains.
     

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Monday, June 17, 2013

The S.S. United States: Darkest Days


I've been posting about this previously. Here is chapter 4:



Published on Apr 5, 2013

CHAPTER 4: DARKEST DAYS. The SS United States is America's Flagship — a perfect marriage of design and engineering all wrapped in one amazing sea-going symbol of post-war America. Built in 1952, she handily beat the transatlantic speed record on her maiden voyage. No ocean liner has ever broken this record. Now, this amazing ship needs our help. Save America's Flagship from being lost forever at http://SaveTheUnitedStates.org.

Chapter 4 of 5 — Click here to view Chapter 5: http://youtu.be/LkzHHDQljMk

   

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Drug information at RXlist.com

While doing my on-line Introduction to Pharmacy Technician course, I found some useful websites, like rxlist.com. It lets you look up many things about drugs, like side effect warnings:

Kenalog-40 Injection Consumer (continued)
[...] Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: bone pain, easy bruising/bleeding, black stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, severe stomach/abdominal pain, increased thirst/urination, fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, swelling of the ankles/feet, persistent weight gain, puffy face, unusual hair growth, thinning skin, slow wound healing, signs of infection (e.g., persistent fever/cough/sore throat, painful urination, eye pain/discharge), muscle weakness/pain, mental/mood changes (e.g., mood swings, depression, agitation), vision changes, seizures, unusual skin growths.

If you have received injection of this medication into the joint, temporary discomfort of the joint may occur. Tell your doctor immediately if you have fever, increased/severe pain with swelling of the joint, weakness in the joint, or decreased range of motion in the joint.

[...]

This medication may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely.

This medication may mask signs of infection or put you at greater risk of developing very serious infections. Report any injuries or signs of infection (e.g., persistent sore throat/cough/fever, pain during urination, muscle aches) that occur while using this medication or within 12 months after stopping it.

Using corticosteroid medications for a long time can make it more difficult for your body to respond to physical stress. Therefore, before having surgery or emergency treatment, or if you get a serious illness/injury, tell your doctor or dentist that you are using this medication or have used this medication within the past 12 months. Tell your doctor right away if you develop unusual/extreme tiredness or weight loss. If you will be using this medication for a long time, carry a warning card or medical ID bracelet that identifies your use of this medication.

Do not have immunizations, vaccinations, or skin tests while you are using this drug unless specifically directed by your doctor. Avoid contact with people who have recently received oral polio vaccine.

Avoid exposure to chickenpox or measles infection while using this medication. If you are exposed to these infections, seek immediate medical attention.

If you have a history of ulcers or take large doses of aspirin or other arthritis medication, limit alcoholic beverages while using this drug. Alcohol may increase the risk of stomach/intestinal bleeding.[...]
That's just a sample. The information seems very complete.
     

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Story telling technique in "Cloud Atlas"

We recently tried watching the movie "Cloud Atlas". It seemed like it could be promising. At first. But we eventually gave up. It was telling several stories that occurred at different times in the past and future, and kept jumping between them. It ended up seeming pretentious and annoying. Some of the stories seemed interesting, but the way they were being presented in fragments to artificially create a mystery (the way many bad films do) just put me off. It seemed like too much work, for too little payoff.

I was curious about the stories though, and decided to look up the "spoilers" to see how it all ended. I found a website, that gave a summary of each story, as a complete story, instead of an endless series of fragments:

The Movie Spoiler: Cloud Atlas
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by L. who says, "The film’s stories are all intertwined and scenes intercut with one another. Unfortunately, I can’t recall every editing choice so for simplicities sake, I broke down each story into chronological order – which robs part of the film’s beauty and doesn’t do it as much justice.

The stories are simple but the structure is divine. Your viewing experience will be MUCH different from this spoiler." [...]
The reviewer claims this presentation of the stories, in chronological order, robs part of the films beauty, etc. But I actually enjoyed this summary more than trying to watch the movie! Reading this was quicker, and less irritating. The ending isn't bad, but if I had to sit through that movie for three hours for that ending, I would not have felt it was worth it. If they had shown the stories in chronological order, and edited it down some to pick up the pace, it might have made a better movie.

The historical inaccuracies were also annoying; mixing up geography and people in places they never were, etc. Sloppy. Why mislead people about facts, when with a little effort, it could be accurate? I hate to be saying so many bad things about it, but I am saying them, because it was ALMOST an enjoyable movie. The story summary made it seem like it could have been pretty good. A bad movie you can forget. But an almost good one, is a bit tragic.

The film got high marks on the IMDB, so perhaps my opinion is a minority view. But if you also found the film tedious, but somewhat interesting, you might also enjoy reading the full spoiler summary at the above link.
     

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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

"Middle East respiratory symptom coronavirus, or MERS-CoV"

Newly discovered virus takes more lives, spreads
(CNN) -- A new SARS-like virus recently found in humans continues to spread -- with the worldwide total now at 49, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Of the 49 known infections with the MERS-CoV virus, 27 have resulted in death, the organization said.

The latest deaths were reported in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi health ministry said Wednesday that three people died from their infections in the country's eastern region.

The virus is "a threat to the entire world," the WHO's general director said Monday.

[...]

On Tuesday, a patient died in France after having contracted the virus during a trip to the Middle East, the WHO reported.

Coronaviruses cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, as well as a variety of animal diseases.

However, the new virus is not SARS.

The WHO recently gave it a more specific name: Middle East respiratory symptom coronavirus, or MERS-CoV.

It acts like a cold virus and attacks the respiratory system, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said. But symptoms, which include fever and a cough, are severe and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

Health officials do not yet know much about how the virus spreads, which makes it hard for scientists to prevent infections, Chan said. [...]

   

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Sunday, June 02, 2013

My Brilliant Career, Part III: Medical Coding

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
It's not exactly exciting; it sounds like the medical equivalent of tax preparation. It's mostly sitting in front of a computer all day. But the stats at the site above (Occupational Outlook Handbook, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) gives it a job increase outlook of 21%, up till 2020. And another reason to consider training for it now is this:

ICD-10 Medical Coding
[...] ICD-10 is an upgraded diagnostic and procedural medical coding system that, by law, must be implemented throughout the healthcare industry by October 1, 2014. This new coding system is radically different from the version currently in use, so it’s important to start preparing for and implementing the massive changes to the existing coding system.

This online program offers you comprehensive, robust training in diagnostic and procedural coding, using the ICD-10-CM (diagnostic) and ICD-10-PCS (procedural) coding manuals. This training includes detailed instructions for using the coding manuals, understanding the coding guidelines, and accurately applying the ICD-10 coding steps. There are more than 40 quizzes and exams for diagnoses and procedures by body system to test your knowledge and understanding.

In addition, you will find information on the impact of the coding changes on medical coders, healthcare staff, physicians, software systems, documentation, and information technology. [...]
Most of the current coders are trained on ICD-9. So people who train for ICD-10 now, will be poised to "catch the wave".

But... it could still be too boring, sitting at a computer all day. In comparison, I think Pharmacy Technician actually looks better.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook had a lot of interesting information on Health Care jobs. Take this one for instance:


Home Health and Personal Care Aides
What Home Health and Personal Care Aides Do
Home health and personal care aides help people who are disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired. They also help older adults who may need assistance. They help with activities such as bathing and dressing, and they provide services such as light housekeeping. In some states, home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client’s vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.

Duties

Home health and personal care aides typically do the following:
  • Help clients in their daily personal tasks, such as bathing or dressing
  • Do light housekeeping, such as laundry, washing dishes, and vacuuming in a client’s home
  • Organize a client’s schedule and plan appointments
  • Arrange transportation to doctors’ offices or for other kinds of outings
  • Shop for groceries and prepare meals
  • Provide companionship
Aides often keep track of when a client’s prescriptions need to be filled or when the client has his or her next doctor’s appointment. Aides may prepare leisure activities, including exercise, to keep their clients active and healthy. They may go for walks with their clients or play games with them. In some states, home health aides may be able to provide some medical services. Aides may be expected to complete unpleasant tasks such as emptying a client’s bedpan or changing soiled bed linens.

Some aides are hired directly by the client or the client's family. In these situations, the client or the client's family supervises the aide and gives the aide tasks to do.

Home health aides, unlike personal care aides, typically work for certified home health or hospice agencies that receive government funding and therefore must comply with regulations. They work under the direct supervision of a medical professional, usually a nurse. These aides keep records of services performed and of the client's condition and progress. They report changes in the client's condition to the supervisor or case manager. Aides also work with therapists and other medical staff.

Home health aides may provide some basic health-related services, such as checking clients' pulse, temperature, and respiration rate. They also may help with simple prescribed exercises and with giving medications. Occasionally, they change simple dressings, give massages, care for skin, or help with braces and artificial limbs. With special training, experienced home health aides also may help with medical equipment such as ventilators, which help clients breathe.

Personal care aides—also called homemakers, caregivers, companions, and personal attendants—provide clients with companionship and help with daily tasks in a client’s home. They are often hired in addition to other medical health workers, such as hospice workers, who may visit a client’s home. Personal care aides do not provide any type of medical service.

Direct support professionals work with people who have developmental or intellectual disabilities. They may help create a behavior plan, provide employment support, and teach self-care skills, such as doing laundry or cooking meals. They may also provide other personal assistance services.

[...]

Job Outlook
Employment of home health aides is expected to grow by 69 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of personal care aides is expected to grow by 70 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As the baby-boom population ages and the elderly population grows, the demand for home health and personal care aides to provide assistance and companionship will continue to increase. Older clients often have health problems and need some help with daily activities.

Elderly and disabled clients increasingly rely on home care as a less expensive alternative to nursing homes or hospitals. Clients who need help with everyday tasks and household chores, rather than medical care, can reduce their medical expenses by returning to their homes.

Another reason for home care is that most clients prefer to be cared for in their homes, where they are most comfortable. Studies have found that home treatment is often more effective than care in a nursing home or hospital.

Job Prospects
Job prospects for both home health aides and personal care aides are excellent. These occupations are large and expected to grow very quickly, thus adding many jobs. In addition, the low pay and high emotional demands cause many workers to leave these occupations, and they will have to be replaced.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook has a lot of data on many different  Healthcare Occupations, so you can compare them. I've compared some that I was interested in:

Occupation:        Outlook (thru  2020):          Median Pay:

CNA                    20%                                     $24,010.
LVN                     22%                                    $40,380.
RN                       26%                                    $64,690.
Phrm Tchn           32%                                    $28,400.
Med. Coding        21%                                    $32,350.
Hme Hlth Aide      70%                                    $20,560.

Many of the higher paying jobs require two or more years of college. Pharmacy Technician still looks the best to me, considering the education requirements, job outlook, and pay rate. I didn't include the education requirements in my list here, but you can find them on the Handbook site, and much more too. It's a great resource.
 

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"Who the heck was Anne Hutchinson?"

A well known New Age guru has released a novel called "God". I was reading the blurb from the back of the book, part of which said this:
[...] Job in the Old Testament experienced something completely different from Paul in the New Testament, Socrates chased a mercurial spirit almost unrecognizable to the strange voice that called to Rumi, and Shankara moved from town to town sharing the truth about a God that stood in marked contrast to the one that guided Anne Hutchinson—yet one sees an undeniable pattern. These visionaries took the human race down unknown roads, and Chopra invites us to revisit their destinations. Tearing at our hearts and uplifting our souls, God leads us to a profound and life-altering understanding about the nature of belief, the power of faith, and the spirit that resides within us all. [...]
I had heard of most of those names before, but I thought, "Who the heck was Anne Hutchinson? And why is she listed with those others?" I googled her name and found her Wikipedia page. It's really quite a story. I was a bit embarrassed that I didn't know, being a New Englander myself:
[...] Anne Hutchinson, born Anne Marbury (1591–1643), was a Puritan spiritual adviser, mother of 15, and important participant in the Antinomian Controversy that shook the infant Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1636 to 1638. Her strong religious convictions were at odds with the established Puritan clergy in the Boston area, and her popularity and charisma helped create a theological schism that threatened to destroy the Puritans' religious experiment in New England. She was eventually tried and convicted, then banished from the colony with many of her supporters.

Born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England, Anne was the daughter of Francis Marbury, an Anglican minister and school teacher who gave her a far better education than most other girls received. She lived in London as a young adult, and married there an old friend from home, William Hutchinson. The couple moved back to Alford, where they began following the dynamic preacher named John Cotton in the nearby major port of Boston, Lincolnshire. After Cotton was compelled to emigrate in 1633, the Hutchinsons followed a year later with their 11 children, and soon became well established in the growing settlement of Boston in New England. Anne was a midwife, and very helpful to those needing her assistance, as well as forthcoming with her personal religious understandings. Soon she was hosting women at her house weekly, providing commentary on recent sermons. These meetings became so popular that she began offering meetings for men as well, including the young governor of the colony, Henry Vane.

As a follower of Cotton, she espoused a "covenant of grace," while accusing all of the local ministers (except for Cotton and her husband's brother-in-law, John Wheelwright) of preaching a "covenant of works." Following complaints of many ministers about the opinions coming from Hutchinson and her allies, the situation erupted into what is commonly called the Antinomian Controversy, resulting in her 1637 trial, conviction, and banishment from the colony. This was followed by a March 1638 church trial in which she was excommunicated. With encouragement from Providence founder Roger Williams, Hutchinson and many of her supporters established the settlement of Portsmouth in what became the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. After her husband's death a few years later, threats of Massachusetts taking over Rhode Island compelled Hutchinson to move totally outside the reach of Boston, into the lands of the Dutch. She settled with her younger children near an ancient landmark called Split Rock in what later became The Bronx in New York City. Tensions with the native Siwanoy were high at the time. In August 1643, Hutchinson and all but one of the 16 members of her household were massacred during an attack. The only survivor was her nine-year old daughter, Susanna, who was taken captive.

Hutchinson is a key figure in the development of religious freedom in England's American colonies and the history of women in ministry. She challenged the authority of the ministers, exposing the subordination of women in the culture of colonial Massachusetts. She is honoured by Massachusetts with a State House monument calling her a "courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration." She has been called the most famous, or infamous, English woman in colonial American history. [...]
If you follow the wiki link, there's lots more information, and embedded links too. The details of her trial were chilling. Her descendants included three U.S. presidents, and, well, read the whole thing, if you enjoy history.


   

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Who was Mario Pei?

From Wikipedia: Mario Pei
[...] Pei was born in Rome, Italy, and emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1908. By the time he was out of high school he knew not only English and his native Italian but also Latin, Greek, and French. Over the years he became fluent in several other languages (including Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and German) capable of speaking some 30 others, and acquainted with the structure of at least 100 of the world's languages.

In 1923, he began his career teaching languages at City College of New York, and in 1928 he published his translation of Vittorio Ermete de Fiori's Mussolini: The Man of Destiny. Pei received his doctorate from Columbia University in 1937, focusing on Sanskrit, Old Church Slavonic, and Old French.

In 1937, he joined the Department of Romance Languages at Columbia University, becoming a full professor in 1952. In 1941, he published his first language book, The Italian Language. His facility with languages was in demand in World War II, and Pei served as a language consultant with two agencies of the Department of War. In this role, he wrote language textbooks, developed language courses and wrote language guidebooks.

While working as a professor of Romance Philology at Columbia University, Pei wrote over 50 books, including the best-sellers The Story of Language (1949) and The Story of English (1952). His other books included Languages for War and Peace (1943), A Dictionary of Linguistics (written with Frank Gaynor, 1954), All About Language (1954), Invitation to Linguistics: A Basic Introduction to the Science of Language (1965), and Weasel Words: Saying What You Don't Mean (1978).

Pei penned The America We Lost: The Concerns of a Conservative (1968), a book advocating individualism and constitutional literalism. In the book, Pei denounces the income tax, as well as communism and other forms of collectivism.

Mario Pei was also an internationalist who advocated the introduction of Esperanto into school curricula across the world to supplement local languages. [...]
I remember reading some of his books from the library when I was a teen, and interested in languages. He seemed very well informed. Many of his books are still available (used), on Amazon.com. I suspect that his political views are not popular with the Brave New World crowd. See the original Wiki page for embedded links.

   

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