Monday, January 31, 2011

USAD Debate Hits Wall

WASHINGTON - In the small but controversial world of men’s problems, a new menace affecting over 90% of the male population has recently pushed erectile dysfunction aside to become the prominent topic of the day. The issue? Urine Stream Accuracy Disorder, commonly referred to as USAD.

While the issue is not a pretty one, it is widespread, and sources say it has existed in relative obscurity for decades. “The problem has always been there,” said longtime urinal user Kent Shute, “but up until now, nobody wanted to talk about it. It’s just something we all wished would go away by itself.”

USAD is a disorder which causes men of all ages to relieve themselves on the walls next to, above, or even underneath bathroom urinals. But while everyone can agree that the problem exists, there is huge debate as the to actual cause of the malady. In one corner is the healthcare industry, which insists that USAD is a biological condition easily treatable with prescription drugs.

Just last year, pharmaceutical giant Plaxico-Burress, Inc. received FDA approval of it’s new super pill “Tak-āme!”, the first medical approach to combating USAD. But public acceptance has been slow, due in part because initial marketing efforts were directed at the wrong demographic; women between the ages of 18 – 45.

“That problem has been corrected,” said PBI Chairman Tony Bruschetta. “We cleaned out the whole marketing department. Whacked ‘em all.”

But while PBI may have cleared that particular obstacle, what they haven’t yet overcome is the other reason for lackluster sales, namely the severe side-effects associated with Tak-āme!, most alarming of which is permanent blindness in over 16% of those treated, a condition which many think actually exacerbates the problem of urine stream accuracy. PBI has refuted the claims, saying the numbers are inflated, and has taking legal recourse in it’s effort to fight what it calls “a smear campaign”.

“It’s all smoke & mirrors,” Bruschetta said. “Nobody knows how many of those guys were blind in the first place. It’s not something we checked upfront. And even if those numbers were correct,” Bruschetta continued, “it certainly doesn’t diminish the effectiveness of Tak-āme! on the problem of urine stream accuracy disorder. Blind or not, guys hit the target. Our product works, and we’re confident that people are going to start forking over the cold hard cash to get it.”

On the other side of the USAD controversy is the International Coalition of Urinal Providers who counter that USAD is not a biological problem at all, but is instead due to engineering defects in urinal design.

“If you look at what’s out there today,” says I.C.U.P. spokesman Seymour Butts, “what you’ll see is that there’s no standardization. You’ve got [wall urinals of] different shapes, different heights, different materials, different colors; it’s just insane. And don’t even get me started on troughs. How’s a guy supposed to handle all that and still be able to concentrate?”

However, Butts admits that while all member organizations of the I.C.U. P. may concur that standardization is the key, there is discord within the group when it comes to agreement on a comprehensive solution. Some industry insiders think that special UWP’s (urinals of wide proportions) will relieve 95% of the problem, while others argue that only a combination of UWP’s coupled with other devices such as self-cleaning floor grates will be truly effective.

Also engaged in the fray are service organizations such as Gentlemen’s Helper, LLC, who argue that labeling USAD as either a simple biological or mechanical issue is a rush to judgment.

“It’s a behavioral condition,” insists GH president Lucy Cannon. “There’s just no quick fix for this type of thing, and we certainly don’t intend to provide one. We’re in this for the long haul.”

What GH proposes are specially trained on-site bathroom consultants, whose services range from simple recommendations & tactical advice, to actual “hands-on” assistance for those suffering from advanced stages of USAD. But while behavioral counseling holds promise to many, most analysts think these guys are way out.

As the controversy continues to rage and a real cure remains as of yet just a distant hope, the vast majority of men seem to be content just with that fact that the topic is finally getting some attention.

“People suffering with USAD are just like everybody else,” concluded Shute. “We just want to be able to pee straight.”

Rest assured, Mr. Shute, anyone using a public toilet wants that for you too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pole Position

If you love to speculate as I do, here’s something that you might find worthwhile to consider. As a lot of my personal speculation has a tendency to do, it involves the merging of science and religion, but even if you don’t subscribe to “God”, you may still find it an intriguing topic.

Scientists have discovered that the North Pole is on the move, and they’ve been tracking its advance for several years now. Not only is the position of the North Pole moving (which is pretty fascinating all by itself), but its rate of travel is actually speeding up.

Take a look at the below National Geographic article from 2009:

North Magnetic Pole Moving Due to Core Flux
"The magnetic north pole had moved little from the time scientists first located it in 1831. Then in 1904, the pole began shifting northeastward at a steady pace of about 9 miles (15 kilometers) a year.

In 1989 it sped up again, and in 2007 scientists confirmed that the pole is now galloping toward Siberia at 34 to 37 miles (55 to 60 kilometers) a year."

Maybe it’s just me, but I sure think that fits the definition of “fascinating”. I mean, how often do you hear scientists use the term “galloping” as a description?

As interesting as this documented phenomena is all by itself, however, and despite its possible contribution to noted weather pattern and ocean current changes currently being attributed to “global warming”, I can’t help but wonder if it is part of something even bigger.

By “bigger”, I mean something that very few people would think of in the first place, and almost nobody would even begin to believe could be included within the realm of realistic possibility.

But isn’t that what makes speculation fun?

So there’s the documented science; now switch gears with me for a minute.

There’s an interesting and entirely ridiculous passage in Revelation where John is describing (as best he can) a vision he is seeing of the future.

It’s important to remember here that John is not a “high-tech” guy. He lived 2,000 years ago; he has no idea what weather satellites, carbon dating, or combustion engines are. He’s never surfed, tweeted, or emailed. Submarines, aircraft, and microwave ovens are beyond the borders of his imagination.

If we are to believe what he wrote in Revelation, he’s being shown a vision and simply describing it in the best way he can with the knowledge that he has.

So with that in mind, here’s the passage in question that I’m referring to:

“and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”
- Revelation 6:13-14

Like I said, pretty ridiculous.

We know today – obviously – that there’s no way that the stars could ever fall to the earth. It only takes a cursory reading of that passage to understand that John has no idea what stars are, or how big they are, or that they’re all varying degrees of distance from the earth (and literally “astronomical” distances at that).

Ridiculous. Dismissed. A “busted” myth that doesn’t even merit a test.

Or is it?

Granted, if John is thinking the way we think today – with the knowledge that we have today – it would be. But remember, John doesn’t know what we know; he’s only writing what he sees in the best way he can with the knowledge and understanding that he possesses.

Imagine this as a possible hypothesis for what John is seeing in his vision: John is looking out at the Southern horizon at night when suddenly the earth starts to quickly rotate directly back towards him.

What would he see?

Because he is standing on the earth in a fixed position to the horizon and because of his limited knowledge, it would appear to him that the stars in sky – all of them – were falling towards the horizon. Falling to earth.

And if the earth did actually rotate quickly in that manner, could we expect the atmosphere to undergo violent changes (perhaps clouds “rolling up like a scroll”) as the earth spun inside? And would not every mountain and island truly be in a different position?

Whoa. Not quite so ridiculous anymore, is it?

Of course, for all of that to occur, the earth would need to physically rotate very quickly, like what might occur if the North and South Poles were to suddenly switch positions. Is that even a remote possibility?

Going back to the above National Geographic article: “Geologists think Earth has a magnetic field because the core is made up of a solid iron center surrounded by rapidly spinning liquid metal. This creates a "dynamo" that drives our magnetic field.”

I’m not a physicist, but I have played with magnets before, and without exception, if I try to “move” the pole of a magnet using another magnet or piece of steel, the entire magnet follows the pole.

So the question is, “If the earth’s core is essentially a giant magnet, and the north pole is now moving away from the axis about which the earth spins, and that spin is what is keeping the earth in it's current orientation instead of following the pole (much like a gyroscope), what happens if & when the pole moves beyond the point that the earth's rotation can continue to hold it in position?"

Well. Like I said, it’s all just speculation.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

You Are The Market

There’s an old saying regarding consultants: “If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.”

It’s kind of funny; and it’s kind of not.

Over the past few years there has been an increasing amount of distrust, skepticism, and anger regarding healthcare in general and vaccines in particular. More and more people have “opted out” of having their children vaccinated; a movement whose wake is creating a large divide between two sides:

People are concerned over mercury based preservatives, while the medical establishment assures us they are safe.

People are concerned about possible side effects of vaccines (including the fear that they may cause autism), while the medical establishment insists that there is no clinical proof of any such connection.

People are questioning the number of vaccinations that children now receive (an average of 36 vaccinations through age six, as opposed to only 10 in 1983), while the medical establishment assures us that they are all necessary.

Who do you believe? Who can you believe?

No loving parent would intentionally cause their children to suffer pain or to inflict a lifelong debilitating injury upon them, so with so many organizations (CDC, NIH, WHO, FDA, etc.) telling us that vaccines are perfectly safe, why are so many people questioning this authority?

Maybe a better question is, “Do they have a valid reason to question it?”

Consider the follow excerpt from the current issue of Forbes magazine (don’t ask me why I have a Forbes magazine; I’m not exactly sure either). The following is from an article about a new DNA decoding machine, with the author exploring its potential future:

“Cancer is the biggest near-term market. Today treating a cancer patient costs hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars. Some breast cancer patients already get a specialized gene test to help determine what treatment is right for them. If similar gene tests become routine for all 4 million cancer patients in the U.S. and Europe, as many oncologists expect, this alone could be a $20 billion market. Some patients might be sequenced multiple times as a tumor spreads and mutates.”
- Forbes magazine (pg. 72), Jan 17, 2011

It’s hard for me to imagine a more telling statement, and straight from the horses mouth, no less.

To me, that paragraph exposes the core problem with our entire healthcare system: it’s run by people who have no intention of being part of the solution. They understand – very clearly – that there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

Your health is of concern to them only if it turns a dollar, and let’s face it, healthy people don’t spend a whole lot of money on healthcare; sick people do. To put the above example into perspective, if a cure for cancer were found, a $20 billion dollar market – just for this new DNA decoding technology, mind you – would disappear. That’s a lot of money.

Regarding vaccines, how big is the vaccine market today? How much money would be “left on the table” if tens of millions of people “opt out” and stop getting them? Do you think that’s not cause for concern?

We are told that vaccines don’t cause autism, but we are not told what does cause it or how to prevent it. We are given treatments for it instead. In fact, we have treatments for everything, but not too many cures. With a cure, treatment stops. And so does the money.

You might say, “Well Blaine, those are businessmen; of course they’re only interested in profit. But the CDC, NIH, WHO, FDA, etc., are non-profit government organizations dedicated to serving the pubic interest.”

On the surface, that’s true. But who are the people running those organizations? Where do the come from?

Is it surprising to know that many of the people who work in executive positions for those organizations are “subject matter experts” who used to work in the “for-profit” healthcare field? Is it also surprising that many of them return back to the “for-profit” healthcare field when they leave those organizations?

Isn’t there a potential conflict of interest in that?

Upton Sinclair was quoted as saying, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”

I would also suggest that it is difficult for a business to find a cure for a disease when the very existence of their business depends upon not having one.