Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Happy birthday to a special girl

First, and most important, there is a very special little (well, not so little anymore) girl who lives in the state of Massachusetts. She lives in a town called Amherst. Her name is Shoshana and she turned 7 years old yesterday.

She is sweet and smart and athletic and loves animals, especially cats. She has two sisters that love her very much. Of course, her parents also do. They are very special people.

So, if you see a girl who looks like this in Massachusetts, especially in Amherst, please take time to wish her a very happy birthday. And tell her grandpa says so.

Page 2: On drug companies and a judge

Yesterday, this space had a scold on lawyers and the legal system. Read it just below, if you are not one of the growing list of folks all over the Northeast and beyond who stop by every day.

Thank you all who do stop by.

On second thought, the drug companies should not get away with their advertising tactics, either.

More on that in a little bit, but first, a person responded to my request for a dialogue on the justice system.

Anonymous said I was wrong in my lead-in example about Judge Elizabeth Halverston of Nevada. Anon said that as a journalist, I should have investigated more into the case of a jurist who is fighting for her seat on the bench. To see all of that response, please see the comment at the end of the last post below this one.

First of all, thanks for the response. Anonymous said she was a fighter against the corrupt system in Nevada who is being taken advantage of because she is large and uses a scooter to get around.

I took your admonition to heart and did a more research and could not come to the same conclusion as you did.

I read the Las Vegas Review Journal, as I had before, and a tattler called Legal Tabloid. I also reviewed what was written in the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, as I had before, and Reno television station KTVN.

They all told the tale of a woman out of control, a judge who took advantage of her staff, slept during trials and the rest. She sued the courts because she had to stand for re-election, along with a number of other judges, after two years on the bench, not the usual six years. 

She just lost that case this week in the Nevada Supreme Court, which unanimously held that state law allows elections at shorter intervals in order to have all judge candidates run at the same time. She had been elected, along with three others, to a two-year term so all candidates could run in 2008. She had claimed that the Nevada Constitution required six-year terms for judges.

Aren't you happy we in Connecticut don't elect judges?

In any case, thanks for your comment. Please keep them coming.

Page 3

Drug companies are spending billions of dollars a year advertising on television.

The ads are scattershot. They tell people to ask their doctors about this drug or that one. Sometimes, they don't even tell what the drug is for, although that's becoming less frequent. Just ask your doctor about this or that. 

The drug companies do comply with the requirement to list side effects. That makes the whole thing even more silly. Here's the drug. Here's what the drug is for, and sometimes it's for a condition that may be a little bothersome, but hardly life-threatening or even life-disturbing.

I like the ones for post-menopausal conditions where they tell you not to take the drug if you are pregnant or may become pregnant. 

There are ones for relatively mild conditions where the side effects can include cancer, heart problems, inability to pass water. That last one is not a small problem, especially for older people, where kidney and bladder infections that result from not being able to pass water can be quite serious.

My point is this: Why fill the public's head with a lot of potential cures for conditions they probably don't have in the first place? People do what they are told on television. Doctors' time is taken up with people asking them about drugs they don't need.

I have the greatest respect for pharma companies that produce drugs that cure what had been fatal conditions. Measles, mumps, chicken pox were all things you had to endure when I was a kid. Now, the kid gets a shot and avoids these dangerous diseases. Yes, I know some parents are worried about side effects. That's up to them, but the shots are there. My kids got the shots, although the chicken pox vaccine came late for some of them.

But the ads hold out the hope that just by talking to your doctor you can drive for hours without having to stop to urinate, go pain free, and be free of all symptoms, even if you risk cancer by taking the stuff. 

By all means, talk to your doctor if you have a specific condition or symptom. That's what they're there for. But don't bother him or her just because you saw something on television.

Page 4

The Boston Red Sox lost a game last night. They shouldn't have, but they did.

It wasn't the first time they lost a game, and probably won't be the last. But it was the first time they lost since Manny Ramirez left town.

Manny had been distraction to the fans but most important to the team. He wasn't playing up to his potential and had to go.

I saw signs held up by Red Sox fans saying "Manny Who" and things like that. 

That's not right. Yes, Manny had been a distraction and a negative influence for a few days or even a few weeks. But for seven years, he had been a contributing member of the Sox. He hit lots of home runs, protected David Ortiz in the lineup and could be counted on, as much as anybody, to hit a clutch single, double or home run.

The Sox could have used him last night. Ortiz is not contributing much, although he will in time. Mike Lowell, who really is the heart of the team, was out with an injury. The Sox had men on base, two outs in the ninth and...well they lost by a run to Kansas City, hardly a powerhouse. 

But let's not go in for revisionist history. Manny was an important part of the Sox for many seasons, until he wasn't and had to go.

But that's part of Manny being Manny. You get what you get. Dodger manager Joe Torre will find out it's different having Manny in your dugout than watching him from across the field.

Until next time...

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