Sunday, September 23, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness-Another Bully Bites the Dust

In a heart-warming story, two students in Nova Scotia stood up against bullying.

In response to harassment of a fellow student for the grave sin of wearing a pink shirt, high school seniors David Shepherd and Travis Price encouraged others to wear pink as a sign of solidarity.

Reminds me of "Not in Our Town," a true story of how
more than 10,000 people in Billing's Montana stood up to anti-semitism by placing menorahs in their windows.

Perhaps David and Travis could tour the US, with a first stop being in Jena, Louisiana to help the young blacks unjustly imprisoned after a response to a racist hate crime was blamed on them.

I wish them well, and hope they will keep up their good work!

Ouch! and a Clever Concept

I was reading the accounts of BioCryst's initial flu study failure with interest.

The study was a well-designed randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial designed to test whether peramivir, when administered intramuscularly during the acute infection, could reduce the duration of influenza symptoms.

Biocryst used elevated levels of a muscle enzyme, CPK, as a surrogate marker to show whether the patients had received intra-muscular injections, as was intended, as the levels of that enzyme rises with muscle injury. (Unfortunately, it can also rise if someone has severe fever or chills).

Analysis of the study results showed that while a single dose of peramivir did demonstrate improvement compared to placebo, the improvement was not statistically significant. On the other hand, for those patients who showed an elevation in CPK levels compared to their baseline, peramivir showed a dose-related improvement of 64.8 hours at the 300mg dose, and an improvement of 44.6 hours over placebo at the 150mg dose.

The most interesting discussion I read was "Size Does Matter" by Brian Orelli in the Motley Fool. I'm thinking that a 3" needle would be better for many of my patients...but that is another story. I'll be looking forward to seeing the results of further trials.

Athlete's Remembering Humble Roots

It was refreshing to read Michelle Singletary's column in the Washington Post today.

Several athletes are teaming up with major retailers to produce more reasonably priced branded shoes and clothing--Kevin Durant, of the Seattle SuperSonics, with Nike's sneakers, for example. Others include Sephon Marbury, of the New York Knicks, and Ben Wallace, of the Chicago Bulls, who are teaming up with retailer Steve & Barry's, as is the tennis star Venus Williams.

With luck, these new brands will be affordable for working families and may go a long way to help reduce the enormous and cruel peer pressure adolescents experience.

This is smart marketing--as well as the right thing to do--and looks like a win-win for all.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Kite Runner Meets the Days of Awe

This past weekend I took a rare, hedonistic adventure, immersing myself in a novel for the first time in eons. The Kite Runner is richly detailed, engrossing, insightful and surprisingly, reminded me that these were the Days of Awe, the time of reflection between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

The themes are universal: regret, repentence, and redemption, though the Afghan/Muslim and Jewish cultures take somewhat disparate routes to get there.

There is ethnic cleansing, be it the Holocaust or the Taliban or myriads of culture wars before. And loss of one’s land and one’s identity, with the struggle to begin again. And then insights from the wise elder, who helps the protagonist understand identical events viewed both from the perspective of childhood and later with the wisdom that comes with age and experience.

And ultimately there is hope—from the courage of an individual, struggling with remorse and his understanding that there is 'a way to be good again.'

Imagine if “For you, a thousand times over” were to become the mantra of our world.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Animals at Play" Renews the Spirit

For a touching story and photographs, I suggest visiting Dr. Stuart Brown's slide show on PBS' "Speaking of Faith." He expands on the playfulness demonstrated at his National Institute for Play site. Norbert Rosing's images of a wild polar bear and a sled dog are quite striking and the animal's expressions are unmistakable. Treat yourself. Take a minute to visit the site.