~ Archive for Humor ~

The Guide to Politically Correct Cardiology

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OK so I got a little bored and decided to do some internet browsing (and by browsing, I mean randomly clicking on any internet link that remotely of interest to me). This piece of article caught my eye – an interesting ‘editorial’ in the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

http://michel-lab.bwh.harvard.edu/pdfs/numberninepolcorr.pdf

Click on the link to read the scanned pdf file of the editorial. For the benefit of those who have difficulty reading the article (poor scan quality), I’ve taken the liberty to retype in verbatim the entire text of the article. I wish to reiterate that the intellectual and proprietary rights to the article belongs entirely to Dr Thomas Michel and the board of editors of the AIR, and my reproduction of the article is in no way an attempt to infringe on this right, but more so, in the spirit of good natured ‘intellectual’ humour.

Likewise, any opinion put forth in this article is solely the resposibility of the author, and does not represent my own opinion.

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The Guide to Politically Correct Cardiology

by Thomas Michel, MD, PhD        

Cardiology Division, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

The politically correct cardiologist should become aware of the evolving terminology in the field, as it seems likely that in the near future, physicians will not be able to bill for charges incurred by patients diagnosed with politically incorrect illnesses.

It has been widely acknowledged that the nomenclature of specific diagnoses applied to a particular patient’s ailment may profoundly affect the patient’s well-being, self image, and time to full recovery. It seems only logical that diagnoses should be empowering, rather than belittling. They should reflect the patient’s ability to transcend the illnesses, rather than be dominated by the judgemental, impersonal, and paternalistic semiotics of the medical profession. The nomenclature of heart disease is particular troubling in this context.

Table 1 summarizes a variety of commonly applied cardiac diagnoses, and supplies a translation into politically correct terminology.

Heart failure is probably the most common cardiac diagnosis, but the very term is belittling. It says to the patient, “Your heart has failed“. It is far more empowering to term the patient ‘inotropically challenged’ to reflect the fact that the contractile (inotropic) state of the heart shows room for improvement. Likewise, for diastolic failure, the fact that the heart doesn’t relax (lusitropy) as well as it might should not be branded as a failure.

Patients have long been termed having ‘sick sinus syndrome’ if the principle pacemaker (sinus node) cells of the heart beat too slowly. This illness sounds rather more like an upper respiratory tract infection, and applies the value judgement of sickness to a noble, organic, cardiac structure. Better to say that a patient is ‘chronotropically challenged’ or systolically impaired.

The key here is that cardiac diversity is to be celebrated, not denigrated. The term ‘aberrant’ used to be applied to drug-abusing pedophiles, whom we now simply identify to be following an alternative lifestyle. Similarly, to brand a patient with ‘aberrant conduction’ simply because the electrical impulse travel a novel pathway from the atrium to the ventricles is an unfortunate stigma. Similarly, the connotations of the word ‘deviant’ are to be avoided when describing the electrocardiographic axis of the heart (‘left axis deviation’)

The term ‘inferior myocardial infarction’ has got to go. One can imagine the scenario: a patient returns home from the hospital and curious friends ask “What kind of heart attack did you have?” To reply “My cardiologist says that I had an inferior myocardial infarction” could lead to a cynical rejoinder. Better to use the historically and anatomically correct term ‘diaphragmatic MI’

Valvular heart disease has not been spared from the application of demeaning and judgemental terminology. It is terribly insensitive to say that a cardiac valve is ‘incompetent’ or ‘insufficient’ simply because it leaks like a Washington healtcare committee. If the mitral valve leaks, thus allowing the retrograde flow of blood, would it not be better to say that the patient’s heart is ‘retrograde mitral flow-enabled’? Similar terminology can be applied to other leaky cardiac valve, as well as to the occasional defects found between cardiac chambers.

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Funny, no? 😉 (if you don’t get it, please forget ever having read this post, please? Gracias)

Life is just a series of different phases with different faces

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This is my first post of 2007! Yay!

I just got back to Cambridge five days ago. Much to my surprise, my spirits haven’t been dramatically dampened (yet) by the torrid English weather and bland food. Well, it’s not like I’m complaining….

On Friday night, during an engaging conversation with my friend from College, the topic somehow veered into ‘life and how it changes with time’, which brought me to conclude as per the title of this blog entry. 

Life is just a series of different phases with different faces. This is especially true for a person who moves around a lot, relocating from one place to another for pursuit of educational and/or career developement. It seems that nowadays, one seldom stay in a single place for too long. We all move on. And with each moving, we inadvertently create a new phase of life, and hence, justifying the first part of the entry title ‘Life is just a series of different phases…’

In doing so, we will definitely meet new people, and lose touch with most of the people from our previous ‘phases’ of life. Let’s face it: even at university, it very difficult to maintain that same level of closeness that we once shared with people from high school. What more do you expect once you move beyond the confines of your university life and venture out into the vast unknown that is the working life?

“Different faces” has two meanings to it: firstly, living life in a new phase definitely brings you to meet new people.

Secondly, but more importantly, the different experience you gain will rub on you. And at the end of one phase of life, you’re not the same person you used to be when you first started out. The change in you will happen. It’s inevitable. And I’ve learnt that it’s no use (and perhaps even counterproductive) to try to avoid change. We can only pray that the change is for the better.

So, does this mean that you’ll end up ‘losing’ all your friends in the future? I’m not putting my money on anything, but I believe in fate: if your paths are bound to cross in the future, then you’ll meet each other again. Likewise, if your not fated to cross paths again, then who knows that the last time you see your friend at graduation may be the last time you’ll ever see that person in your life!!! I know how scary this thought may seem to be.

For instance, during my prep school graduation, I told a friend “Hey, I’ll catch you later” before running off somewhere to do something. Little did I know that ‘later’ really meant THREE years later, when we finally got the opportunity to meet up after so long. Extrapolate three years to a lifetime and you’ll see what I mean. 

This term, I’ll be starting a new ‘life’ again. This time, I’ll be based at the British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Research Centre at the Addenbrooke’s Centre for Clinical Investigation. New phase. New face.

End of entry.

 

~~~~

Now for something ‘lighter’, which type of medical student are you?

(Warning to the overtly-sensitive readers:  very very very mild and occasional use of the four letter word. Also, to the non-medical readers, apologies for the use of some medical jargons)

 

 

Phenotypic differences between male physicians, surgeons and film stars: comparative study

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This morning, I nearly coughed and spluttered on my cup of coffee when I saw an article in The Star (a Malaysian daily), reporting a study conducted by some doctors in Barcelona, Spain, comparing the looks of physicians, surgeons and film stars who portray these medical practitioners in medical dramas on TV. The best part of this study is that it was actually published in the British Medical Journal!! (Impact factor 9.052 as of 2006!)

Amused, I decided to check out the original article from BMJ. Indeed, reading Trilla et al. (2006) on this issue of BMJ is certainly more entertaining than any of those research articles from Nature, Science, PNAS, JCI, JAMA or even NEJM! (NB: apologies to readers who don’t know these abbreviations. They are names of respectable and higly-cited scientific and medical journals. I’m just too lazy to type their names in full)

For those of you who are interested, you can download a pdf version of Trilla et al. (2006) directly from this link

Intersting points to note from this ‘seminal’ paper:

 1) Surgeons are the only doctors who practice what has been called “Confidence-based medicine”, which is based on boldness.

2) Surgeons are significantly taller and better looking than their physician counterparts. However, film stars who play doctors get the highest ratings, when compared with real-life surgeons and physicians. The latter ‘finding’ does not really come as a surprise – after all, they are film stars; good looks are part of their bread and butter, besides acting skills (or the lack thereof, in some cases).

The authors of the paper attributed the increased height of surgeons as an evolutionary advantage. Increased height persumably makes surgeons more likely to be ‘masters and commanders’, being able to have a better view of and therefore exert tighter control of their natural turf – the operating theater. Physicians, on the other hand, are not usually surrounded by so many people in their ‘habitat’ – the patient’s bedside. They tend to be shorter possibly due to the fact that they tend to hang stetoscopes round their necks, thus weighing them down, causing them to bow their head slightly forward and have a decreased perceived height.

My take: this paper is obviously done in a light-hearted spirit. Maybe it’s Christmas season. Maybe New Year’s just round the corner. Perhaps the authors were bored and had too much free time? (I doubt it. They’re doctors)

Or maybe they wanted to give people, especially those in the medical profession, something funny to read and laugh about. Looks like they succeeded. Now, if only more research articles were that amusing. Well, we’ll probably have to check out the Annals of Improbable Reasearch for more of those.

Stereotypes

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This is absolutely hilarious. Sourced for a Facebook group of the same name.

 

Petition to revoke the independence of the United States of America

To the citizens of the United States of America, in the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories.

Except Utah, which she does not fancy.

Your new Prime Minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair MP, for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a Minister for America without the need for further elections.

The House of Representatives and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up “revocation” in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up “aluminium.” Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘favour’ and ‘neighbour’; skipping the letter ‘U’ is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters.

You will end your love affair with the letter ‘Z’ (pronounced ‘zed’ not ‘zee’) and the suffix “ize” will be replaced by the suffix “ise.”

You will learn that the suffix ‘burgh’ is pronounced ‘burra’ e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to re-spell Pittsburgh as ‘Pittsberg’ if you can’t cope with correct pronunciation.

Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up “vocabulary.” Using the same thirty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as “uhh”, “like”, and “you know” is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

Look up “interspersed.”

There will be no more ‘bleeps’ in the Jerry Springer show. If you’re not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn’t have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary, then you won’t have to use bad language as often.

2. There is no such thing as “US English.” We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter ‘u’ and the elimination of “-ize.”

3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn’t that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier).

You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents — Scottish dramas such as “Taggart” will no longer be broadcast with subtitles.

While we’re talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is “Devon.” If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become “shires” e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters.

British sit-coms such as “Men Behaving Badly” or “Red Dwarf” will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can’t cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness. Popular British films such as the Italian Job and the Wicker Man should never be remade.

5. You should relearn your original national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

6. You should stop playing American “football.” There are other types of football such as Rugby, Aussie Rules & Gaelic football. However proper football – which will no longer be known as soccer, is the best known, most loved and most popular. What you refer to as American “football” is not a very good game.

The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays “American” football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football.

Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American “football”, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies).

We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2008.

You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the ‘World Series’ for a game which is not played outside of North America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls’ game called “rounders,” which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don’t believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

8. The 4th of July is no longer a public holiday. The 2nd of November will be a new national holiday, but only in Britain. It will be called “Indecisive Day.”

9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap, and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call ‘French fries’ are not real chips. Fries aren’t even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called “crisps.” Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat.

Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.

12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling “beer” is not actually beer at all, it is lager . From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as “beer,” and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as “Lager.” The substances formerly known as “American Beer” will henceforth be referred to as “Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine,” with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as “Weak Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine.” This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in the Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.

13. From the 10th of November the UK will harmonise petrol (or “gasoline,” as you will be permitted to keep calling it until the 1st of April) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon — get used to it).

14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you’re not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not grown up enough to handle a gun.

15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us crazy.

16. Tax collectors from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

Thank you for your co-operation.

 *******

 And the Americans retaliate with their own version of things…

DECLARATION OF ANNEXING THE BRITISH ISLES AS PART OF THE USA

The Supreme Court of Florida has instructed me to post the following to ensure strict balance in these turbulent times.

To the imperialist British colonizers.

In the light of your indecision over joining a common European Currency, your dissatisfaction with the European Union, your bickering with European Governments and the fact that you already almost speak our language and refuse to speak any other European languages, you are to be annexed as a State of America. Your state code will be GB. Zip codes will be assigned to replace your old postal districts. The state capital will be Stratford-upon-Avon which is a lot prettier than London. Princess Diana will be declared a saint. You have already assimilated so much American culture that you are unlikely to notice the transition. To aid in the assimilation, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. Look up “aluminum” in any good American Dictionary. Check the spelling and pronunciation guide. We discovered it, we named it, you are mispronouncing it. Learn to live with it. You are, of course welcome to your idiosyncratic and illogical place-names such as Edinburgh, if you wanted it pronounced ‘Eddinburra’ you would have spelled it that way in the first place. You will quit using words such as “fortnight”. The correct term is “a two week period”. You will learn words such as “credenza”, “intern” and “chad”.

2. There is no such thing as “UK English”. UK English is the relic of a defunct colonialist power which attempted to impose British English linguistic superiority on a nation which has a higher number of English speakers.

3. Your film-makers should learn to distinguish the American and Canadian accents. American accents are not limited to redneck drawls or New York accents. Mainland Americans have more than enough accents to cope with in our own country, so all British dramas will now bear subtitles, especially those made in impenetrable dialects such as Scottish, Scouse or Geordie. To make life easier for mainland America, all British films and TV programs must use American vocabulary and accents; Scotch characters will wear plaid, Irish characters will have shamrocks on them, Welsh characters will not be used since we don’t have Welsh Americans, and English characters will wear bowler hats and pinstripes.

4. The British film industry will no longer portray all Americans as cowboys, rednecks, trailer trash or Beverly Hills billionaires. Hollywood will continue to use “Mockney” and “Posh” British accents as this makes it easier for viewers to identify which characters are British. You can have Hugh Grant back. He’s a lousy actor and we don’t want him either. All British films will be made in Hollywood where the weather and scenery are better. Your film industry is already unable to make a halfway-decent film which doesn’t contain a American in the starring role. All American characters should be ‘good guys’.

5. You will learn your new national anthem “The Star Spangled Banner”. It shall be sung every morning at kindergarten, high school, university and your places of work. Your Union Flag will be hung up any damn way we wish so stop bitching about it being upside down. If there was meant to be a right way up you should have made it simpler. All Union flags will be replaced by the Stars and Stripes over a 12 month period of time.

6. You should stop playing soccer and rugby. There is no need to have two games, one of which is confusingly like Football and one of which is called football but patently isn’t real football. If it doesn’t require 45 pounds of padding, it isn’t football. You should also stop playing cricket. Americans can’t understand the rules. If you insist on playing this game which is only played by former British colonies, you will introduce a simplified scoring system, timeouts, colored strips and cheerleaders to make it more interesting. Any match which takes longer than 90 minutes will be declared a draw.

7. In films, as in real life, we decide who the bad guys are. The bad guys are those guys who don’t do as we tell them. They are also the guys who attract the biggest audiences into movie theaters. You will cease using the word “cinema”. They are “movie theaters”. The snippets of forthcoming films are not “trailers” they are “teasers”.

8. November 5th is no longer a day for fireworks. July 4th is the appropriate fireworks festival. If you want a big fireworks party on November 5th, we will help you to blow up your Houses of Parliament. You won’t be needing them any longer; Disneyland London will be situated there. Hunting with packs of dogs is also banned. Instead, you will go hunting with a pick-up truck, some six-packs of beer, two coonhounds and enough guns and ammo to equip a private militia. There is also no such activity as “caravanning”. It is properly called “camping”. The thing boy scouts do with tents and bedrolls is called “tenting”.

9. Roundabouts will be banned. What is the point of turning left in order to turn right? They are confusing to Americans and are death traps. You will start driving on the right with immediate effect. Most of the world drives on the right already. You will be allowed to turn right on a red light if safe to do so though you must check local county legislation as this is not permitted in all areas.

10. Those things which you call chips are cholesterol-soaked abominations. You will start to eat fries – light fluffy potato in crisp coating. If you want to eat British-style fried potato sticks you will need a certificate from your doctor and good medical insurance. Beer is to be served cold. The warm, flat drink you call beer is properly termed ‘ale’ and the FDA have determined it to be unfit for human consumption. You will also learn the difference between crackers, cookies and biscuits to avoid causing unnecessary confusion to mainland Americans.

11. All inter-personal communications between family members, even if resident in the same house, must be through a lawyer. It is compulsory to sue somebody at least once per year – be inventive. It is compulsory to have therapy three times each week and to recover false memories of your childhood which allow you to sue your parents and/or your therapist. Therapy will take the place of speaking to family members. You will be given compulsory courses on how to become dysfunctional. Name your children after interesting medical conditions.

12. You will not have guns. In the eyes of Mainland Americans you are wayward children. Children are not permitted to play with firearms unless they have a legitimate reason to do so i.e. they plan to gun down the population of a small town (self-defense) or slaughter every living creature within a mile radius (hunting).

Thank you for your co-operation. You will be assimilated.

On Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

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No, contrary to what the topic may suggest, this entry is not going to be anything near such an intellectual topic.

In fact, it’s a funny joke I saw while browsing the internet. It’s too funny not to share it here on my blog. Enjoy!! 

Last night, my wife and I were sitting in the living room and I said to her, “Honey, I never want to live in a vegetative state dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug ok?”

She nodded, got up, unplugged the TV and then threw out my beer. 😀

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