Thank you, o you of the three llamas.

The unfathomable occurred — I got more sleep while on call than I usually get when I’m home. Now I don’t know what to do with my day…

After yesterday’s pointer to the Web Standards Project’s open letter to Netscape comes today’s Suck piece. The former asks Netscape to withdraw the 4.X browser from the market; the latter declares the upcoming Mozilla to already be irrelevant and a waste of everyone’s time. My favorite line: “At the very least, the Mozilla Project has given the world a pretty good picture of what caffeine poisoning looks like.”

I forgot that Dennis Miller makes his debut on Monday Night Football tonight; I’ve got to make it home to watch. Unfortunately, tonight is the overwhelmingly boring Hall of Fame game; fortunately, it should provide a few opportunities for Miller to show his humor.

Lance weighs in with a pretty well-though-out and well-written piece about the whole Napster mess. I’m in his boat — I don’t use Napster because I feel that, just as I want other people to honor my copyrights, I will honor others’ copyrights.

Dave Winer keeps saying that he pays for the music he gets on Napster (here and here are the two examples I found, although here he estimates he’s said it 80 times). I wonder how he’s doing that. Oh, I think I get it, after reading today’s SN — all the music he grabs on Napster is music he’s bought at some point, on some media.

OK, in the wake of the Stinky Meat Project comes some British guy who decided to try to contract athlete’s foot (dubbed “StinkyFeet”). He wrapped his feet in bags for sixteen days, jogged, went to the beach, and ended up with feet for which even a 90-year-old diabetic wouldn’t trade. Gross.

In a pretty big breakthrough, NIH researchers have found the specific bit of the Ebola virus that causes massive hemorrhage. This could lead to either a vaccine or blocking antibodies, both of which would be welcome in Africa (the virus’s hunting ground) and worldwide.

There’s not much sadder than a postmortem before a company is dead. From the sounds of things, though, perhaps the company should be.

Working great for me, it did force a restart.

How did I miss the Web Standards Project’s open letter pleading with Netscape to withdraw Navigator 4 from the market? It’s a well-written letter, and expresses many of the same feelings that I’ve vented here. At the hospital, I’m stuck using Netscape, and it pisses me off how terrible it renders and how much it crashes.

This day appears to be a very Windows 2000/Internet Explorer-centric kind of day around here. (Mainly, I’m on call, but don’t have a big patient load, so I’m catching up on my technical reading for the month.)

It appears that Windows 2000 Service Pack 1 is out, and ready for download. There’s no notice on Microsoft’s website about it, but Win2K News (a newsletter I get) sent along three download URLs: one, two, and three. I’m on call today, so I haven’t installed it yet; if anyone does, feel free to pass along your experiences, either via email or in the discussion group.

There’s a Microsoft Knowledge Base article that points to the page on which Win2K Service Pack 1 will be released tomorrow, for those of you who want to wait for the official announcement. In the mean time, you can read about the changes in SP1 on the following three pages: 1, 2, and 3. What’s interesting to me is that I helped find and solve this bug, and when they sent me the hotfix privately (four months ago), it was “being checked into SP1.” It doesn’t appear in the change log, though, so I don’t know if it’s actually part of SP1 or not. I guess I’ll find out…

I never knew that there was a neat Recovery Console option available in Windows 2000; it looks to be another way to recover your computer if you run into problems. (Note that if you do have it installed and you upgrade to SP1, you have to upgrade the Console separately.)

I knew I wasn’t crazy when IE 5.5 kept closing windows on me as I was downloading files. Their proposed workaround is silly, though — how am I supposed to know if the window that’s created with “Open In A New Window” will have a download URL in it?

Hey, I’ve got a great idea — let’s wade into the Niagra River just upstream from the famed Niagra Falls. Darwin was right; this dink is just lucky that he found a rock to cling to.

Congratulations, Mrs. the James (aka Zannah). Now, if you don’t stop blogging on your honeymoon, I’m gonna have to come out there and pounce you…

OK, this is superbly strange. I was just surfing around MetaBaby (one of my favorite sites), and came across this page. Why is it strange? Because Phil Jache is my friend, he’s sitting right here next to me, and he didn’t do this. He made a page months ago with this URL, but with none of the current text and graphics on it, and it was long enough ago that it should have expired by now. Weeeeeeiiiiirrrrrrd.

Am I the only one who recognized the overwhelming lack of a need for another Jesus Day, given that the world’s already got Christmas and Easter? Dubya is a fargin’ nutburger. (Update: apparently, I’m not the only one who noted this small fact.)

I’m sitting here, migrating four machines from home-built hardware to Compaq DeskPro EN boxes, reinstalling operating systems, moving stuff around, and having to think a lot. My brain hurts.

I was playing around with Gnutella a while back, after reading an article about it, and noticed that every single search returned at least one hit which was named the exact same thing as my search string. When I grabbed it, it turned out to be an HTML page which was a porn ad. Someone has made doing this much, much easier with a program called ShareZilla — it intercepts all Gnutella searches and inserts an ad for you in the returns. Things like this will probably hurt Gnutella a great deal; the source to the app is open, and the network is distributed, not centralized, so they probably won’t ever be able to stop people from doing things like this.

Very, very cool — it turns out that ciprofloxacin, one of the most used antibiotics in the world, is effective against anthrax. The first drug usually given to women with urinary tract infections is cipro; who knew that they could all also rest easier, knowing that they were safe from bioterrorism for a little while?

The response around the web to Joel Spolsky’s Microsoft Passport article (both in the email to Joel that he displays on his site and the little quips on other weblogs) is pretty interesting to me. People are automatically saying “This is evil! We must stop this!”, and I can’t help thinking that it’s purely because it’s Microsoft’s doing. Why can’t I help thinking this? Because nobody’s complaining about the various Yahoo sites, or the Go Network sites, doing the exact same thing via nearly identical mechanisms. (Since I only made oblique reference to it yesterday, I’ll point to it again — I wrote down my thoughts in response to Joel’s article.)

In fact, Yahoo even has a mechanism, web beacons, that allows them to use cookies from non-Yahoo sites within their pages and cookies from non-Yahoo sites. Has anyone written a scathing article about their attempts to take over the world?

A few days ago, Joel Spolsky wrote a piece, entitled Does Issuing Passports Make Microsoft a Country?, that expressed a deep-set fear in Microsoft’s Passport. I’ll leave you to read the piece, rather than of summarizing it here; instead, I’ll just present the problems that I have with his arguments.

Simplified Cookie Explanation

I’ll start with a minor problem, just to get it out of the way. Joel presents an explanation of cookies that is extremely simplified, and tries to make the technology sound like it’s impossible for a website to store more than a unique identifier on your computer. This isn’t true, though — most websites store simply an identifier in their cookie because it’s more efficient, not because it’s all they can do. Cookies merely store variable names and the data for those variables, and that data can be anything the website wants it to be (so long as it’s under 4096 bytes in size times 20 cookies per domain). Most websites choose to use a single variable, which contains a unique identifier, because they can then house kilobytes upon megabytes of data on you in a database on their end, with no limitation on size and no security problem while the data’s flinging around the net with every single HTTP transaction you make against the server.

(Two good cookie references are Cookie Central and Netscape’s cookie implemetation page. And note that I bring this problem up only because Joel’s definition of cookies plays into his big-picture argument against Microsoft, namely that they are thwarting this mild-mannered, innocuous technology through devilish back-end tricks.) False Alarm

Another minor problem I have is Joel’s use of the recent hoo-hah as an example of privacy rights gone wronged. While fears and objections were well-aimed early on, when the failed dot-com floated the idea of selling their customer list, it’s been very well-publicized that the FTC and a majority of state Attorney Generals nipped that attempt in the bud. I’m not sure what this example gains for Joel’s argument.

Browser-Based vs. Backend-Based

My big problem with the article, though, is that Joel’s implication that Microsoft is misusing browser technology completely ignores the fact that they could just as easily implement their data-sharing entirely on the back-end, without anyone being the wiser. Every major website page these days is generated by scripts, back-end procedures, and databases; Microsoft could use network connectivity between their various websites and intelligent scripting to provide the same functionality, and do so without breaking a sweat.

Picture a small slice of the current MS-owned website pie — Expedia and Investor. Now imagine that both of these websites are implemented such that they set their own individual cookies, not some master Passport cookie. Follow along with my (purely hypothetical) data exchange.

First, you go and log into Expedia. After you type in your username and password and click on the Log In button, the Expedia webserver contacts the master Passport database to validate your credentials. They check out, so the database sends back to the webserver your unique Passport identifier (say, “JASON12345”), and the webserver then sends that back to your browser in the form of a cookie, a cookie that’s specific to, not to

Next, you check out flights to Las Vegas… and Expedia sends that information to the master Passport database. You look at prices on cruises to the Carribean… and again, Expedia sends that information to the master Passport database. Everything that you do gets tracked, just like almost every e-commerce website worth its chops does today, but in addition, this information is all sent along to the master Passport database by the backend webserver, with no browser hijinks necessary.

Once done with Expedia, you trek on over to Investor. You type in your login information, and after clicking the “Log On” button, the Investor website contacts the master Passport database to validate your credentials. Once validated, the database sends the webserver your unique identifier (again, “JASON12345”), and the webserver sends that back to your browser in the form of a cookie, this one specific to

This time, though, the Investor webserver also queries the master Passport database about your habits when you were on Expedia. It sees that you were interested in Las Vegas flights, so it assumes (perhaps incorrectly) that you aren’t averse to risk; when it returns the Investor home page to you, there are a few links to high-risk investment opportunities that wouldn’t be there for other customers. It sees that you’re interested in cruises, so it throws up a banner ad for a specialty cruise which will feature barons of finance and seminars on investing. And all of this happens in the microseconds after you click on the “Log On” button, all without the need for browser redirects or cookie tricks.

Why Implement Things the Way Microsoft Did?

I’m partly surprised that Microsoft didn’t implement Passport this way, but I think that I understand what my arguments would be if I were part of the Passport engineering group. I’d imagine that, given Microsoft’s ability to do what they want no matter how the browser’s implemented, consumers would rather not have to log into and out of every single subsite of a major website group. There’s something powerful about being able to log into Expedia, HotMail, Investor, CarPoint, and all the other MSN sites with a single click; it’s like being able to shop at all two hundred stores in the mall while only having to park the car once. (Interestingly, Joel even points out how painful it is to keep track of all the website logins and passwords that we all have these days, with which I don’t think anyone would argue.)

Also, though, Microsoft isn’t doing anything that Yahoo or the Go Network aren’t also doing. Yahoo has chosen to keep the domain name on all of their various subsites, so they don’t even have to resort to browser redirects to get cookies across sites. The Go Network uses redirects very early on to be able to share their cookies; going to redirects you to instantly, just as redirects you to And of course, their shopping and finance sites have domain names, so again, cookie sharing is a breeze.

What’s My Point?

I guess that I don’t know what this whole controversy is about. Joel seems upset that Microsoft redirects you twice, but I wonder if he’d be upset if going to redirected you to, and Microsoft implemented cookie sharing that way. That’s how all the other major e-commerce players are doing it, and I’ve never seen an article about that, nor would I expect to.

The bottom line is that it’s still a web surfer’s job to understand what it is he or she is doing. If you’re scared about data sharing between websites, don’t frequent those websites. It’s not like Microsoft is hiding the fact that Investor and Expedia are part of the MSN empire, just like the Go Network isn’t trying to cloak their involvement in But don’t invent nefarious plots and schemes to justify your fears; there are enough real bad neighbors out there on the Internet, and they’re much more worth our time and venom.

Joel Spolsky weighed in two days ago with a vicious attack on Microsoft’s Passport technology, but while I tend to agree with Joel’s writing, this one sparked a flame in me. His fear seems to be of a much broader phenomenon, that of customer data warehousing, and I can’t see how it specifically applies to Microsoft.

Ummmm…. I want this job. WOW, would that satisfy a big life goal of mine.

I guess Napster’s down by now… (Wait, CNN is now breaking in with news that the injunction has been stayed.)

Darryl Strawberry, troubled outfielder for the New York Yankees, is having a very, very bad week.

Excellent quote out of this month’s talk magazine issue, in an article by Christopher Caldwell on the loss of pleasure in America:

Still, our happiness is protected in the Declaration [of Independence]. What is there to protect our pleasures? Nothing — which is as it should be. It’s the essence of pleasure to be un-protected. Happiness is to pleasure as phone sex is to sex, as chat rooms are to chat, as virtual reality is to reality. Happiness is about control; pleasure is about discovery. Happiness is about allocation of resources; pleasure is about forgetting, if only for a moment, that such allocation is necessary. Happiness is long-term; pleasure is now.

From Heather comes a particularly pathetic story of office politics, Aeron chairs, and the unfairness of it all. The sad thing is that it’s trumpeted as specifically a dotcom office politics thing, when anyone who’s worked at any big company can tell you that this crap happens everywhere. Window offices, cubes oriented this way versus that way, guest chairs, distance from the copy machine… people can be superbly petulant when they want to be.

It looks like the West Nile virus is invading Boston now. Today’s Grand Rounds at the hospital was on West Nile, by the city epidemiologist who received the original phone call last year reporting the first suspicious encephalitis case in Queens, the case which first alerted authorities that there was a strange outbreak in New York City. She made it sound like last summer was a pretty wild ride for the city public health groups, the CDC, and even the FBI (who obviously had to look into any possible deliberate release angle).

Wow. A mother has spent the last seven years in jail, accused of sodomizing her seven year-old son. At the time, she claimed that the family pit bull had done it; nobody believed her, even after the dog’s semen was found inside the boy. Now, the boy is offering to testify on his mother’s behalf, saying that her story is true. Weird.

If you plan to see the movie Coyote Ugly (I have no clue why people want to see it), there’s a tribute page to the real Coyote Ugly bar, by a patron who seems to be way too excited about his NY bar experience.

Am I the only one that’s amazed by the pictures and video that have come out of the Concorde crash on Tuesday? First, there was the picture by the Hungarian tourists, then came the video by a Spanish woman who was driving by Charles de Gaulle Airport, and now there’s an amazing picture by a Japanese tourist of the engines on fire as the Concorde is lifting off from the ground. The media couldn’t have covered this any more intensely.

The Dems have snapped up pretty quickly, and have turned it into a site describing the ultra-conservative record that Dick Cheney’s left behind. Personally, I’m aghast at his voting record on issues dealing with women and children, but I probably need to know more than what this site is telling me.

In an interesting bit of history-unveiling, it appears that some FBI members actively attempted to stop racial integration in major league baseball, considering it a Communist plot to destabilize an American institution.

Oooooh, I want a doughnut from Doughnut Plant. If you live in NYC, and have had one, are they that good? How do they compare to Krispy Kreme, the creme de la creme of my doughnut world?

Update on the wedding registry for Newt Gingrich and Callista Bisek — people still haven’t ponied up for most of what they’ve asked for. I feel for them.

NBA players are taking a 10% pay for the next three seasons, due to a clause in their recently-negotiated collective bargaining agreement that levies the penalty if salaries make up more than 55% of all basketball-related income in the league. In the upcoming season, players’ salaries are projected to make up 64% of all income; roughly translated, that means that for each $60 ticket you buy to your home team’s games, you’re paying $38.40 directly into the players’ pockets.

I had no clue that Salon was doing Survivor episode summaries. They’re pretty great, actually.

Wired has a what’s-up-with-it-now article about the IBot 3000, Dean Kamen’s revolutionary new wheelchair that can go up and down stairs, balance in terrain that even us bipedal people can’t handle, elevate its user to nearly 8 feet of height, and is run totally by computers. Pretty amazing, and definitely utilizing technology to improve quality of life for people.

Napster is in a boatload of trouble, and like in the Microsoft case, it appears that internal documents are doing the company in. (A while back, I pointed to a story about the damning things found in Napster’s internal correspondence; now, the story still exists, but the server’s cranky about formatting it nicely.)

I am back, and much, much more well-rested. This weekend was my last weekend on the inpatient floor, and I could not have switched to a more different rotation — the newborn nursery. And while I love working in inpatient medicine, newborns are a good respite; I love little, itty bitty babies, especially when they’re healthy (as they are in the newborn nursery). I examined about twelve cute little ones today, and now I’m floating on air.

On tap for tonight: the New York Philharmonic has their first of two open-air, free performances in Central Park. Wine, sandwiches, bread, and music make for a nice break from all the hustling around. (ACK: they found West Nile Virus in Central Park today, so they cancelled the concert, and are spraying the park. It’s rescheduled for tomorrow night, though, and as luck has it, I’m not on call.)

The latest Bushism of the Week:

“This case has had full analyzation and has been looked at a lot. I understand the emotionality of death penalty cases.”

Pretty funny — from Cam, it looks like CBS goofed and made it possible to find out who wins Survivor. (WARNING: don’t follow that link if you care about being surprised at the end of the show!)

I don’t get it, I really don’t get it — .TV domain names aren’t that valuable! I find it extremely hard to believe that this company will be around in three years.

For the second time in a year, my cellphone company is being bought out. Last buy-out brought me much lower rates; this one looks to make GSM a real player in the US. (GSM is the standard that my phone uses, and that makes my phone sound so much better than my friends’ phones.)

There seems to be a new hoo-hah over the fourth Harry Potter book; apparently, either J.K. Rowling goofed, or there’s a twist afoot. I just finished the first one, and loved it; the second and third are on their way from Amazon to me now.

It looks like the racial gap in death sentencing extends to the Federal level, as well. This isn’t surprising, but my gut feeling is that it’s worse, since changing Federal policy seems to be so much harder to do than changing state policy. Of course, one state policy that needs to be changed (or enforced, or whatever) relates to the fact that in Michigan, blacks are more likely to be searched without their consent.

ACK! This has been the busiest week, by far, on the wards; I admitted five kids in one night on call earlier this week, and they just keep coming. I start an easier rotation this coming Monday, and promise more then, but now, I must go to sleep.

X-rays of my ankle, after I rolled it. Thankfully, I didn’t break it; unfortunately, I destroyed the ligaments enough that I’ll be in an aircast for at least a month, and my ankle motion is limited and superbly painful. Ugh.

my unbroken ankle

As a result of a college basketball injury, I have an ankle that’s, at baseline, pretty weak. Earlier last week, I was walking down a set of stairs with some of my co-residents, and managed to roll the ankle; I couldn’t stand up afterwards, had problems walking for the next few days, and have ended up in an aircast for the indefinite future. Luckily, though, it isn’t broken… I had images of myself hobbling around the hospital on crutches, unable to get anything done.

Prediction: if Scripting News becomes a radio station, most of its readers won’t convert to listeners. The mediums aren’t comparable, and I know that the way I read SN doesn’t translate into audio.

So, let’s see — judges are perfectly willing to withhold from the public the information on their own federal financial disclosure forms, saying that the release of the information is tantamount to a security threat, yet Planned Parenthood has to fight to keep the names of its employees secret? I think that it’s pretty clear that forcing the organization to surrender a list of all its employees puts all their lives in danger; I’m not quite sure if knowing which stocks a judge owns comes even remotely close.

The near-mint/mint Honus Wagner baseball card went for $1.1 million this weekend on eBay; with the 15% buyer’s premium, that’s $1.265 million. Interestingly, this same card has been owned by Wayne Gretzky and Wal-Mart in its past, and is considered the most valuable card in existence. CNN/fn has an article about the card and the auction.

Absent all of the other reasons I want my ass firmly planted on a Pacific Island beach this weekend, I would love to be able to see the lunar eclipse live. (That MSNBC article has a neat little interactive teaching page which explains what a lunar eclipse is, too; I must admit that I never understood the optics of it.)

Apparently, the next version of Windows 2000 will drop support for AppleTalk and NetBEUI. I expect that you’ll hear a lot of complaining about this; whenever Microsoft adds features to their operating systems, it’s accused of putting third party vendors out of business, and when MS removes features, it’s lambasted for ignoring the needs of its customers and conspiring against people who use those features.

If you thought that Microsoft has it bad with all the various lawsuits it’s fighting, then take a look at the roster of groups who have lawsuits pending against all the tobacco companies. (Of course, we’re talking about vastly different types of companies, although many Microsoft haters will now try to draw parallels until they’re blue in the face.)

Got home from the hospital at 7:45 PM tonight, but I actually felt great — we got our new medical students today, and luck has it that my patient load is on the lighter side of usual, so I spent most of the day teaching them. The agenda: how to round on patients in the morning, how to write orders and prescriptions, how to admit a patient to the inpatient unit, and how to present at work rounds. I actually love the teaching responsibilities of residency.

I’m pretty friggin’ amazed that baseball’s owners are thinking about eliminating teams from the league. Nothing would take place until 2002, but I think that it would be pretty cool to undo some of the dilution that expansion has brought to baseball.

I love the ingenuity of a good scientist. After the star-tracking navigation system died on the NASA Deep Space 1 probe, engineers shut down the satellite’s ion drive and then spent the last seven months writing new software that uses an onboard camera and reference stars for orientation. Testing went swimmingly, and the satellite has spent the last week with the ion drive back on, making its way to its target comet.

Last week, I tried to put a realistic spin on the completion of a map of the human genome, but it turns out that a few days later, in one of his diary entries on Slate, Dean Hamer put it much better than I ever could. As the head of the Gene Structure section at the National Institutes of Health, he also is one of the people who are working hard to understand exactly what the map shows us.

Of course this makes sense, but it still strikes me as a new and great idea: the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that prisoners can be forced to pay for the cost of their incarceration. Why shouldn’t they have to reimburse society for their own misdeeds?

After yesterday’s request for good links about the new features in Internet Explorer 5.5, Luke sent along an MSDN article on the newest DHTML features found in the browser. There are some supercool new things to play with, including editable page text (you have to be running IE 5.5 to do anything on that sample page).

Windows 2000 tip: if you have Terminal Services installed, upgrading Internet Explorer (either with IE 5.01 SP1 or IE 5.5) requires an additional step — changing into Install Mode, so that the installation root is shifted from the root specific to the interactively-logged on user to the system root. How do you do this? At a command prompt, type change user /install. Then run the installer for IE, and when it’s done, type change user /execute at the command prompt before rebooting. Each cheesy.

Yet another column on OpenSSH, why it’s a Good Thing, and why you should be using it to connect to your Linux machines. (Oh, and this post was added using Internet Explorer 5.5, which seems to be stable.)

In the past two weeks, I’ve ordered two books from Amazon on separate occasions, and both times, my order summary has estimated that they’d ship in 24 hours. Both times, this was drastically wrong; one order just shipped today, and the other shows no sign of shipping soon. Isn’t their database good enough to avoid this crap? Looks like it’s time to start shopping around…

Internet Explorer 5.5 is now available for download; you can grab it from the IE download site or just use Windows Update to install it. I haven’t found a page which summarizes the changes in IE 5.5 yet (the best so far is a press release); if anyone finds one, feel free to mail me.

And in other browser news, I got an automated email from the Mozilla bugtracking system telling me that one of my bugs was fixed last night. I guess it’s time to download the latest nightly build (or perhaps I should do so tomorrow), and see what’s up.

The international and U.S. Olympic committees are beginning a major crackdown on domain names that try to glom onto the Olympic name. While I understand that the various Olympic governing bodies have been given exclusive rights to use the name, it seems that moves like this are very much against the public nature of the games. Then again, given the multi-hundred-dollar ticket prices, maybe the public nature of the games is dead.

A day after the FTC filed suit against the now-defunct dot-com, Disney has offered to buy and bury the customer list. Given that Disney is the major shareholder of the failed company, this seems like the right thing to do.

For future reference: a brief synopsis of the coming Supreme Court term.

It seems sad that transactional lawyers in Massachusetts can’t figure out how to do pro bono work in their field. What about all those people shafted out of housing by shady landlords, struggling families without wills or estate planning resources, struggling businesspeople who can’t afford to defend themselves against big businesses? Sad, sad.

I’ve had to ask people this several times today: Are you watching the web feeds? The TV show is a complete mis-fire and is only interesting if you’re using it as a guide to accompany the live web feeds.

I’ve seen hours of great reality programming over the web, and they’re not showing hardly any of it on the half-hour synopses.

Unfortunately they’re not playing up this fact at all on television, and apparently the feeds don’t work too well without broadband (even on AOL). So I completely understand if it’s not gaining popularity.

But I’m encountering people who hate the show without ever having given the web feeds a chance. I’m very disturbed that what’s become a replacement for television for me may go away simply because people never knew. So I’ve become an evangalist, posting on people’s message boards in order to bring proper attention to something that’s not boring, just mis-marketed.

Thank you for your time. :)

— Dan of BrainLog

FM2030 (nee F. M. Esfandiary), who changed his name based on his absolute belief that he would live to the age of 100, died this past Saturday, done in by “a stupid, dumb, wretched organ” (his pancreas).

I know this shocks everyone out there, but Big Brother sucks. I actually tried to watch another five minutes the other night, and didn’t make it halfway through.

Holy crap. Lance Armstrong, winner of last year’s Tour de France and testicular cancer survivor, turned a six-minute deficit into a four-plus-minute lead in one stage of this year’s race. That’s a pretty dramatic, almost unheard-of climb in the ranks; I really hope that Armstrong is able to hold on through the end.

I had no clue that scientists are building a habitat on Antarctica that simulates the structure that would have to be built on Mars as support for a human mission. Kinda cool, actually.

Working on a floor of the hospital where patients require frequent blood and platelet transfusions, I can tell you about this blood shortage firsthand.

This could be interesting — the vaccine that has been able to prevent the lesions of Alzheimer’s disease in mice progressed smoothly through phase-one testing in humans. The most interesting part of this is that it’s not well-known what the vaccine is vaccinating against, just that it decreases the formation of the amyloid plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Likewise, it isn’t known if vaccinating against the plaques will impact the course of the disease. The future will tell…

A new company has announced technology to inflict annoying ads on the MP3-listening crowd, turning them into the same ad-riddled media that everything else on the web is. (Maybe that’s why I like weblogs so much — for the most part, no ads.)

Serious question: when people complain that [X] is bad because “it weakens the institution of marriage,” what is the overwhelming harm that’s implied by that statement? To clarify my thinking right now, it’s not that I don’t understand why marriage is good, it’s that I fail to understand why something like Vermont’s civil union law, or other country’s similar laws which extend protective benefits to what are considered non-traditional relationships, isn’t good in similar ways. (Likewise, does the current increasing rate of divorce threaten the institution of marriage in a similar way?)

Happiness, happiness, it looks like Tim Duncan may be staying with the San Antonio Spurs. Now if they can only get past the first round of the playoffs next season…

This could not make me happier.

It’s pretty sad that financial motives are the factor that is causing some doctors to start listening to their patients and exhibiting compassion.

Getting totally swept up in the whirlwind, I ordered the first Harry Potter book yesterday. (If nothing else, I will have something else to talk to my patients about in clinic.)

Unfortunately, it’s too common a theme today — write an article that expresses your own personal feelings about Microsoft, Linux, the Mac, whatever, and get slammed by fervent zealots who disagree with you. After writing a letter to his legislator, Dan Budiac is learning that lesson.

Kenji Yoshino, Yale Law professor, has a thought-provoking article in Writ about the troubling loophole that has been created in anti-discrimination law by the Supreme Court in their decision to allow the Boy Scouts to ban gay members.

The father of the youth hockey game that beat another man to death is pleading innocent to the charge. This story doesn’t explain what his argument is in pleading innocent; from the stories I’ve read, there are oodles of witnesses that watched Thomas Junta hit Michael Costin in the head, killing him.

I admit it, I really want to see Scary Movie.

There’s been quite a lot of screenspace given to the failed dot-com,, and their plan to try to sell their customer database even though their privacy policy (while in business) specifically forbade sharing that information. Today, the Federal Trade Commission filed suit against, trying to prevent the sale of the information. Even though I didn’t ever buy from, in the name of contractual obligations to privacy, I’m happy to see the FTC stepping in here. (And I learned from this article that the actual people responsible for trying to violate the privacy of all those ex-customers is Disney, the now-owner of’s assets.)

Good morning, good morning. I finally feel well-rested, after getting about 18 hours of sleep over the past day and a half. And I put new sheets on my bed yesterday, ones that are made out of T-shirt material — you gotta get yourself some of these. They rock.

Thursday night was another on-call night, and the same little girl that got really sick Monday night started going down that road again. This time, we were able to keep things under control (or, more aptly, her body was able to keep things under control), but it was still a really tough night, both for us and for her. It turns out she has been getting really sick because the semi-permanent IV lines that she has — a Broviac catheter and a Portacath — are both infected, and the surgeons have been less-than-cooperative in getting them out of her. Nonetheless, we had to get a smaller peripheral IV line into her (not easy) and run all of her treatments — antibiotics, chemotherapy, pain medication, large amounts of fluid — through it. And when the IV started to fail, we had to get another one into her. I have to admit, though, that there was a very slight amount pride in my voice when the morning team came in and I was able to say that she wasn’t transferred into the intensive care unit.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is another on-call day, so unless things are way quieter than they’ve been at the hospital, don’t expect to hear from me until Monday afternoon.

A cool day in baseball — the Yankees and Mets are playing a day-night doubleheader in two stadiums. The day game (at Shea) is on right now, and has already had excitement — Met Todd Zeile has been penalized for interference twice, once on defense and once on offense, both times against Yankee Chuck Knoblauch. I doubt I’ll ever see this happen in baseball again.

One of the best headlines I’ve read in a while: Net pornographer probed.

What a terrible story — after a youth league hockey game that involved more contact than it was supposed to, one father got a bit out of control and was thrown out of the rink. He returned, though, and punched another father in the head; the man lost consciousness, was rushed to the hospital, and died soon thereafter. The man has not yet been charged with anything more than misdemeanor assault, but now that his victim has died, he is expected to be charged with manslaughter or murder.

OK, I know I’ve said it before, and I know I’ll say it again… the Onion rules.

Surely you’ve received, at some point in your Internet life, the little chain mail recounting what happened to all of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (reprinted in an old Jonah Goldberg column). This Independence Day, apparently a few major columnists fell for it, prompting historical scholars to try to set the record straight. The Boston Globe actually suspended the author of their column over the flap. In all of this, though, it turns out that Rush Limbaugh’s father lifted parts of the infamous email in an essay about being proud to be American (warning: obnoxious background music), prompting another rebuttal.

I ended up not trying to catch OpSail 2000 from the med school dorm roofs, but it turns out that had I tried, I would have failed anyway; the captains of the ships decided to turn around at 59th Street, rather than come all the way up the the George Washington Bridge as planned. This decision has generated a lot of controversy in New York, since turning around early meant that only the relatively wealthy neighborhoods got to catch the event.

On a day that I’m not on call, 15 hours in the hospital is too many hours. On the other hand, I spent the last two hours teaching the med students on my team various stuff about admitting patients and managing kids coming up from surgery, so it really was worth it.

In addition, today I wore my favorite tie, a black one with huge Winnie the Pooh pictures on it (Pooh, Eeyore, and Tigger), and I re-realized why it’s my favorite — every kid on the floor under the age of six came up to me and wanted to see it. If anyone was in doubt before, take it from me — props definitely help you with kids.

Happy (late) birthday to Dan, happy (late) birthday to Dan! (I’m glad I share a birthday with him, but am slightly shocked to find out I’m the older of the two of us.)

Here’s a somewhat scary article: low birthweight babies (those born at less that 5 1/2 pounds) lag behind their normal birthweight peers in education much more than previously thought.

For once in my life, I agree with Bryant Gumbel, because I too think that Robert Knight, “Director of Cultural Studies” for the Family Research Council, is a fucking idiot. (And I didn’t have to redact out the expletive!) The FRC is one of those incredibly scary neo-right-wing organizations that spouts hatred and divisiveness under the cover of “maintaining traditional values” and “preserving the strength of our country”; spending five minutes on their website is more nausea-inducing than most of the chemo drugs I push into some of my patients. (I’m not linking to them because I don’t want to drive even one damn visitor to their site.)

Interesting — if a man who has been living a lie of a marriage for almost the entire duration of being mayor of New York tells a reporter that his father taught him the lesson of honesty, does it mean anything at all?

There’s a good Salon article about Casey Martin, the man who’s won injunctions against PGA Golf forcing them to allow him to use a golf cart during competition due to a chronic medical condition that makes walking unbearably painful and dangerous. The suit between him and PGA Golf has been accepted for oral arguments before the Supreme Court; the result will be incredibly interesting, for pro sports and for disabled people in all kinds of workplaces.

Al has a pretty good story about (what I’m realizing is) a relatively typical patient-nurse interaction. If you need a stimulus to click on that link, here’s one: the story involves a scalpel, a well-endowed man, and the possibility of an unintentional bris.

Today was supposed to be the day that Phil and I were going to get to have dinner with Dave, and finally get to meet the guy who wrote the software we’ve been using for a decade. Would’ve been cool; I hope that he gets to NYC soon.

I just watched the first 20 minutes of the premiere Big Brother episode, and I can’t take any more of it. It’s more contrived than Survivor, if that’s possible.

Happy birthday, America!

I survived my second night on call, and I hate to word it this way, but I learned a very important rule last night — incredibly sick kids make for incredibly effective learning opportunities. There was an oncology patient on the floor who started to spike a fever and become hypotensive, and it took a good two hours of very intensive management by my senior resident to stabilize him and transfer him to the Pediatric ICU. And no matter how many times I’ve been told in lecture settings that kids can get very sick very quickly (and how to manage those kids), it will be those two hours that serve as my best lesson every time one of my future patients starts to decompensate.

The big ships are here! The big ships are here! I had planned to go on top of the med school dorms to watch all the ships coming up to the George Washington Bridge, but getting no sleep while on call put the kibash on that idea. (The website appears to be down right now, too…)

Last week, Dahlia Lithwick wrote her wrap-up of the Supreme Court term, with special emphasis on the last week of announced decisions (abortion, gays in the Boy Scouts, school prayer, and violence against women, to name a few). She doesn’t appear to be very happy with what she saw, either…

Gawd, I hope that Tim Duncan doesn’t go to the Orlando Magic; if he leaves San Antonio, the Spurs will be nothing more than a mere impersonation of an NBA team, and a below-average one at that.

USA Swimming has banned the use of bodysuits at the U.S. Olympic Trials, yet apparently the suits are going to be allowed at the Olympics. I don’t get this. (For those who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, there are new full-body suits made out of drag-reducing material that have caused all sorts of swimming records to fall over the past year.)

I’m baaaack. I spent the past two days just getting my body used to this new schedule (getting up early, going to sleep early). I *heart* bed.

A few things I’ve come up with this week, after reading a few people’s observations on their own sites:

  • Rule #1: If you don’t like reading weblogs, then stop reading weblogs.
  • Rule #2: If you don’t like weblogging, then stop weblogging.
  • Corollary to Rule #2: Insulting other webloggers because you don’t like weblogging is sad, and exposes you as someone with those very traits you are insulting in others.

Yesterday was movie day. During the afternoon, I got sucked into Sweetwater, the VH1 movie about the band that opened Woodstock; I actually liked it, although I wonder just how dramatized the story is. Then last night I finally saw Fight Club (on DVD), and really liked it. Strange, brutal, intricate, and made me think a lot.

With this past Wednesday being the last day of the Supreme Court term, Linda Greenhouse has written a good wrap-up of the decisions handed down this year, and their probable impact on life in the United States. (Since it’s a New York Times article, it will probably disappear into their pay-for-access archive at some point soon.)

This week, Andrew Duncan passed on another New York Times article, this one assessing websites that keep tabs on Internet law. Looks good; you may want to print this one out before it, too, gets swallowed into the pay-for-access archives.

As a result of the Boy Scouts’ position against openly gay members, corporations and other sponsors have begun to withdraw support. Levi Strauss, the United Way, and the State of Connecticut have all severed their ties with the Scouts, and the United Methodist Church, which is the largest sponsor of Scout troops nationwide, has openly stated that if the Court were to rule in favor of being able to exclude gays, it would also pull all support. Interesting to me is that the Boy Scouts knew that this would happen (they acknowledged this in their arguments before the Court), and still felt like an anti-gay stance was worth pursuing.

There’s been a lot of hoo-hah about the ostensible completion of mapping the human genome, but it struck me this week how little people actually understand about what has been done, and how much more needs to be done for any of it to mean anything. It’s a huge thing to have completed a basic map of the DNA that makes up human life, but at this point, it’s just a rudimentary map, with very little meaning. Imagine a map of your hometown, without street names, addresses, or place names; that’s essentially what exists now. Now that the map exists, though, researchers can start identifying what each gene does, and how everything’s interrelated.

happy birthday to me!