Friday Afternoon News Roundup

Friday Afternoon News Roundup

supreme CourtI’ve been ridiculously busy lately. I hope this News Roundup finds all of my readers in good health.

I’m still a little confused why a Democrat would not support comprehensive background checks on all gun sales. It makes no sense. As a matter fact, it’s unclear to me why every American would not support this simple act.

I know there’s been lots of discussion over the Supreme Court this week. They’ve heard two big cases regarding gay marriage. You can read a comprehensive discussion of California’s proposition 8 here.  The Supreme Court also heard arguments for and against the Defense of Marriage Act. Personally, I have a problem when the United States government decides to discriminate against any group of people.

Sexual assault should not be tolerated in the military. This is a no-brainer.

It is kind of funny how our whole system is now in jeopardy because bees cannot find their ways back home. All of our agriculture really depends on bees being able to pollinate flowers. There’s a whole industry that has developed to move bees from one place to another in order to improve pollination rates. Now, unfortunately, these bees seem to have a problem with orientation. This could be extremely problematic. (Then again, it seems to be the job of the media to make us uneasy or frightened about something. There’s always something. See the next paragraph!)

We all know that the United States and other countries have increased sanctions against North Korea. Well, we’ve upped the ante by flying to B-2 stealth bombers near North Korea and dropping test charges on a South Korean test range. North Korea is a particularly sticky wicket. Its proximity to South Korea makes any significant intervention really problematic, yet it is clear that we cannot sit back and do nothing. North Korea is on the path to holding the world hostage as it sits on some sort of nuclear weapon.

A pair of studies suggest that hospital resident work hours may lead to more errors (here and here or here and here). Although this study got a lot of play in the media, there was no significant, in-depth discussion. Somewhere around 10 or 15 years ago New York lawmakers decided that medical house staff were making errors because of their unreasonable work hours. Following this, work hours were cut further still in order to protect patients. According to a new study, error rates may be increasing. Everybody wants to decrease preventable errors. The big question is how do you do this without harming medical education. A young physician does not have his experience to fall back on and therefore must be exposed to a wide variety of scenarios in order to be confident upon graduation. How do you do this? Currently, nobody has a good answer.

North Carolina is looking to limit early voting because… it has been bad for democracy?

Finally, scientists are closing in on Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.



20 Responses

  1. Why have ALL liberals simultaneously decided that 50,000 years of human history is wrong? Where were all of these pro-gay marriage opinions 5 years ago? I’m reminded on Malcolm X t-shirts… seems kind of faddish

  2. ecthompsonmd oscarE 
    But the analogy is poor. There was never a point in human history where every country on earth  had slavery. Also, comparing the government’s use of marriage to track family lineage is hardly equivalent to systematic torture, enslavement, and rape. In some countries polygamy is recognized as a valid union by the govenment, but not by ours. When will we “wake up” and stop discriminating against polygamists?
    My main point is not that gay marriage is bad (which I believe). My main point is that the sudden avalanche of support is faddish and unbelievable. Going back to the bad example of American slavery… that took years of pre-war argument, the war and 100 years of Jim Crow separatism to actually change minds. By looking at my Facebook posts, it only took ~ 6 months for believers in traditional marriage to be labelled stupid and outdated. Wow.

  3. oscarE ecthompsonmd 🙂
    I’m not sure why you think gay marriage has suddenly popped and everyone’s mind. This didn’t happen overnight. Gay marriage has been simmering on the back burner since before the civil rights movement. Gay marriage is poised to jump to the forefront in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Then homosexuality had to face AIDS and HIV. Finally, took the right environment. You are never going to get any gay initiative passed the Bush administration. It simply wasn’t going to happen. He needed a liberal president.
    The other thing that I would add would be that the aversion to homosexuality there was rampant in the 1950s and 1960s simply as an rampant today. Young people simply accept people for who they are. I’m not saying that there isn’t any discrimination. Instead, I’m saying that widespread discrimination based on race or sexual preference seems not to be as prevalent. In my opinion, this is a good thing
    it is possible that my slavery reference wasn’t the best analogy in the world. I would put to you that slavery existed in every consonant in one form or another. Whether it was Western-style slavery where humans were bought and sold or another form of slavery in which conquered foes become second-class citizens, the stratifying of humans into some sort of subservient class has been a sad feature throughout history.
    Finally, it appears in your discussion that you are suggesting that homosexuality is some sort of “new fad”. I would disagree. I believe that homosexuality has been a part of man since the beginning.
    I appreciate your comments

  4. “Personally, I have a problem when the United States
    government decides to discriminate against any group of people.”
    That’s what governments do. That is the nature of law, to
    discriminate against groups of people, behaviors and desires. Even if marriage
    is redefine, polys and polygamist will
    be discriminated against as well as others. The question is whether or not a
    particular discrimination makes any sense.
    I still can’t buy that a gendered institution/definition of
    marriage is irrational as proposed by several courts. It can only make sense if
    we consider marriage simply an emotional bond between two or more people.
    If that is the case,
    why involve government at all.

  5. @TCB  I like your thought process. Governments always discriminate. For behaviors that they really dislike (murder, theft,etc.) they put you in jail. For behaviors that they want to encourage (getting an engineering degree, owning a house, being married rather than single,etc) they give you financial incentives. Thus, necessarily discriminating against those that didn’t get the incentives. I don’t see anything wrong with the govn’t specifically encouraging heterosexual unions as a preferred family structure

  6. oscarE Why? Why should the government discriminated against homosexual unions? Because you don’t like them? Look, if you believe that for some reason homosexual unions are bad for the society then that’s fine. As far as I know, there’s no data to support this. If you believe, from a religious standpoint that homosexual unions are morally improper then, I suggest, your church continue to shun homosexual unions.
    I believe that 2 consenting adults should be able to form some type of union. I also believe that the government should treat 2 consenting adults who decide to form some sort of union, equal to any other 2 consenting adults who decide to form some sort of union.

  7. @TCB The government is involved because there are so many legal ramifications to “marriage.” As you know, when one spouse dies, the other spouse, for the most part, is the executor of the estate. When one spouse is in the hospital, the other spouse has the ability to make medical decisions. There are a lots of legal benefits that come with marriage. You know this. This is why the government is involved. In order to get married in this country, you have to sign a legal document.
    Yes, the government does discriminate. The government does encourage some behaviors and discriminates against others. I apologize for my superficial answer earlier.
    Thanks for your comments

  8. I don’t think homosexuality is bad. I don’t think being single is bad either. But I think that government has an obligation to encourage behavior that best promotes the welfare of the state. Marraige has been considered superior to being single forever… so the government clealry supports marraige over non-marraige. Of course there are gay parents who successfully raise children and single parents who successfully raise children, but most of us  believe a mother and father is the SUPERIOR way to raise children. It is not my job to prove this… it is the job of the people who want to change the system to disprove it.
    My objection to gay marriage has no root in religious belief. {I’m only marginally religious myself].  However, I am afraid for the Church. If someone could guarantee to me that gay marriage wouldn’t effectively lead to the trampling of the rights of religious people (who make up most of the world), I would support gay marriage. But from what I see on the internet, the venom spewed out against various churches on this topic doesn’t leave me hopeful. I can easily foresee the day when churches are forced to perform gay marriage ceremonies. I can easily foresee the day when Catholic schools will be required to acknowledge the legitimacy of gay marriage under the threat of financial penalty. Simply speaking, I can foresee the day when freedom of religion will have no meaning at all..

    I imagine that 80% of my friend and associates support gay marriage. Fine. But if the 20% of my friends and family who don’t support it, expressed their views on the internet in a similar fashion as the supporters do , they would be labeled  insensitive, bigoted, backward, irrational… and they know that. Therefore, they quietly say nothing. {Me too].  I guess I choose to be their voice.

  9. ecthompsonmd
    This is a merry go round argument. You argue that the
    government must be involve because the government is involved.People can name their own executors.You don’t need a bureaucrat to make a medical
    power of attorney naming your decision maker. Many people never marry and have these
    Even though the government provides some benefits, it doesn’t
    mean that the government should define marriage for people.

  10. ecthompsonmd oscarE No one is agruing that same sex couples can’t form a union or share a household. However, should this be endorsed and  called a marriage when there is a distinct difference from heterosexual unions rather than civil unions.
    Moreover, certain unions between adults are still criminalized such has a union between close relatives and polygamy.
    Why is 2 so special? Shouldn’t the government endorse any and all unions among adults?

  11. ecthompsonmd oscarE
     ECT: “Gay marriage has been simmering on the back burner since before the civil rights movement. ”
    This would mean that gay marriage has been out there since the 1950’s. What is your evidence for this?

    The handoffs are a big problem and the increasing lack of experience. Many students do less and less during medical school.

  13. As I see it, one of the biggest problems that we have in medicine is that we sometimes make changes without understanding what it is we’re truly changing. As far as I know, we don’t have any good studies on how long a resident should work. What is the purpose for the long hours? Is it punishment? Or, is it that residents need to work hard and do things over and over again so that they become almost natural when they are an attending? Does this type of rote memory make it more difficult to change behavior when new information comes out in five or 10 years?

    All I know is that surgery is a physical skill as well as a mental skill. Surgery is about seeing and recognizing what you see but it’s also about feeling and recognizing what you feel. I don’t know how long it takes to learn. I do know that you can’t learn it by sitting in a call room and reading. You really can’t learn that skill and some simulation lab. You need to be in the operating room – operating. I will fall back on the psychological study which states it takes approximately 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. 10,000 hours is a lot of time.

    Thanks for your comments.

  14. oscarE Thanks for being their voice. Thanks for speaking up.
    My basic premise is that two consenting adults should be able to do almost whatever they want to do in the privacy of their own home. I do not believe that the government should be telling us who we should have sex with (again, remember, I’m talking about two consenting adults). I do not believe the government should sign off on what is appropriate sexual positions.
    To continue this thought, if two consenting adults decide to spend their lives together, they should be able to share the legal responsibility.
    That is it. That is my position in a nutshell. I’m fine if you or anyone else disagrees with me. I don’t think any lesser of you and I hope that you don’t think any lesser of me. I just ask that you try to understand my position. I understand yours.
    Again, thanks for your thoughtful comments.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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