Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Catching Up: Best of 2004: August

Father Knows Best In his memoirs, "A World Transformed," written five years ago, George Bush Sr. wrote the following to explain why he didn't go after Saddam Hussein at the end of the Gulf War. "Trying to eliminate Saddam...would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible.... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq....There was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Late-Night Political News from About.com "The Republican Convention is coming to town. It's coming up at the end of the month. Everyone is getting ready for the convention. The crack dealers are switching to Viagra." —David Letterman "The federal government reported that despite much higher expectations U.S. employers only added 32,000 jobs to the payroll this month. Even worse, folks, the jobs were all in India." —Conan O'Brien "Did you all hear former President Clinton's speech Monday night? It was great. ... You know it made me kind of nostalgic. It reminded me of a different time -- when presidents could actually talk." —Jay Leno "CBS did not carry the convention last night. You know you're in trouble when you're too dull for CBS." —David Letterman "Democrats were reluctant to allow Al-Jazeera in their convention, because they thought their coverage would be biased and hostile. Then they realized it couldn't be any worse than Fox News." —Jay Leno "Michael Moore was in attendance at the convention ... which explains the extraordinarily tight security around the buffet." —David Letterman "As the Democrats get revved up at their convention in Boston, President Bush is fighting back the only way he knows how: by going on vacation! Ah, it's nice to take a rest, replenish your supply of smirks. The vacation was expected, because Bush traditionally takes a month off every summer to relax and avoid reading National Security Warnings." —Craig Kilborn "President Bush spoke with the Amish. He didn't want to, but it was the only group he could find that wasn't upset about the high price of gas." —Jay Leno * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Mental Health Excerpts Researchers studied 156 older adults diagnosed with major depression, assigning them to receive the antidepressant Zoloft (setraline), 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, or both. ... Blumenthal and his colleagues ... found that the group who exercised but did not receive Zoloft did better than either of the other two groups. A very interesting finding concerns the group that received both Zoloft and exercise. These subjects were more likely to again become depressed than the subjects who only exercised. A 1976 study found that physicians spent an average of one minute giving advice and information in a 20 minute office visit. When these physicians were asked to estimate the time that they had spent giving advice and information, they estimated 8-10 minutes. ... Medical students at the University of Arizona College of Medicine have been getting sensitivity training in an unusual way. The class "Medicine & Horsemanship: An Introduction to Human Nonverbal Interaction at the Bedside" teaches them to improve their communication with patients by teaching them to communicate with horses. Combined pharmacotherapy and psychological treatment of depression is more effective than drug treatment alone. This may be because of an increased adherence to antidepressant regimens. Researchers found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease. ... People with heart disease were less likely to recognize humor or use it to get out of uncomfortable situations. They generally laughed less, even in positive situations and they displayed more anger and hostility. ... "We could perhaps read something humorous or watch a funny video and try to find ways to take ourselves less seriously," Dr. Miller says. Older adults who feel they have control over roles they value live longer than those who don't, according to a new study. Being a parent, grandparent or provider can add value to an elderly person's life. And having control over such roles appears to be more important to people as they age than feelings of control over life as a whole. The latest findings on the ability of pet dogs to reduce cardiovascular stress in persons living high-stress lives -- in this case those caring for brain-injured spouses -- shows that dog owners experienced one-fifth the rise in blood pressure during stressful, care-giving activities compared to those without dogs. Moreover, when participants without dogs acquired them six months into the study, their average blood pressure and heart rate during stress- producing situations dropped to match that of the initial group. "Even when controlling for factors like ethnic group, education and occupation, subjects with high leisure activity had 38 percent less risk of developing dementia," according to study author Yaakov Stern, PhD. Interestingly, the study also showed that participation in leisure activities may have a cumulative effect, with an additional 8 percent risk reduction associated with each leisure activity engaged. All three activity categories [i.e., intellectual, physical, or social leisure activities] were shown to be beneficial, although the intellectual activities were associated with highest risk reduction. Depressive symptoms, which include feelings of fear or loneliness, irritability, lack of concentration, and sleeplessness, occur in 19 to 30 percent of people age 65 years or older -- about 5 million Americans. Yet only one percent of those affected receive treatment. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Sell Your House Now (my prediction) As interest rates climb and wage globalization continues, U.S. workers will not be able to afford as much of a home purchase as has been possible in the past. Prices will drop. [Seems I was early. But rising interest rates, due to resetting ARMs, and wage stagnation did turn out to be relevant. Note that it was unheard-of to predict, at that time, that home prices would drop.]