A heavy dose of truth, humor, and political activism.

Location: Phila, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, April 13, 2007


With god working overtime for his upcoming role in the Christian propaganda film “The Reaping” (co-staring Hilary Swank) he had no choice but to leave his understudies in charge of plaguing the rest of humanity. God had taken the best weapons from his plague arsenal to Hollywood (after all, the producers of “The Reaping” were paying top dollar and did not want to settle for anything less than the original Egyptian plagues). This became apparent to me a few months ago when I was hit with my own set of calamities. A far cry from the original plagues (water to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, diseased livestock, boils, hail mixed with fire, locusts, darkness, and death of the firstborn) I was hit with round after round of toned down plagues (the kind of work you’d expect when you hire a partner in a law firm and he decides to cut out early to hit the links and leaves your big case to one of the associates). First came my lower back pain followed closely by dizziness. Not pleasant but I was still able to get clean, bloodless water out of the faucet and didn’t notice any croaking frogs hopping around. Next came a week of terrible constipation and stomach cramps (which my doctor said was a side effect of pain medication for my back but I prefer the god scenario). This was even less pleasant than the back pain but still preferable to hoards of gnats and flies. I was not happy, but thankful that I was not incurring the full wrath of god. Not wanting to waste my trip to the doctor, I took his advice and tried some fiber chews and laxatives. The stomach pain got worse. Then all of a sudden (much like water instantly turning to blood) I was hit with a terrible bout of diarrhea. For about two days I felt like I’d eaten a large supply of diseased livestock (and my stomach wanted it out). Just when the stomach problems seemed like they were over and maybe god’s intern had found something better to do with his time, the next plague struck: total nasal congestion. I tried everything; cold medicine, allergy medicine, Breath-Right strips (like football players use), and box after box of tissues, but got no relief. Maybe I should have asked the pharmacist what he recommended for boils, but that seemed a little over-dramatic. Then, with the intensity of fire from the sky, came the sneezing. It was awful. Every ten seconds I was at it, one after another, sneeze, sneeze, excuse me, sneeze. The constant sneezing led to dry and cracked lips. It was as if round after round of hungry locusts had eaten all of the moisture from my lips, leaving them barren. I hate chap-stick, and I think the man up stairs knew it. He was testing me, but come on…locusts, gnats, and flies? Mix it up a little bit. When you were lining up the plagues was someone having a killer sale on insects, 3 for the price of 1? What hath god bought? I stood my ground. I knew darkness was up next and I was right. In my case, it came in the form of itchy eyes. Sure I could still see, but my eyes itched and burned. At least if it had been totally dark I wouldn’t have needed to use them; I could have just closed my eyes and gone to bed. The itchiness slowly faded and I was left standing; just one plague to go, death of the first born. That plague hit last Tuesday. One day after buying a second Beta fish, our first born Beta fish suddenly died. They were in separate fish tanks, so the purchase of the second fish could not be linked to the death of the first. I felt the hand of god. Then I remembered that I had spoken poorly of Hilary Swank many times in the past. Could it be that the lord (and her new co-star) was enacting a small amount of revenge? I had been punished with round after round of plague and I had survived! Suck on that Hilary Swank! I think the moral here is obvious: don’t mess with god’s home-girl or he’ll send one of his errand boys to make your life miserable (or at the very least, uncomfortable). I should have known those two were tight. Only the divine hand of god could have guided an Oscar into Hilary Swank’s hands (unless the day comes when they give out an award for most annoying actress and then she’s on her own to fight it out with Claire Danes, Julia Roberts, Fran Dresher, and Rosie O’Donnell). I have it on good authority that god himself reads the Spoon, Full of Truth and I have personally asked him to spare any of my readers from suffering the same fate that I endured. We can just say it’s my toned-down version of suffering on the cross for all of us having enjoyed this story.

The recent discovery of collagen proteins, found hidden inside the leg bone of a 68 million year old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil, are oldest preserved proteins ever found. Collagen is the main ingredient of connective tissue in animals and is found in cartilage, ligaments, tendons, hooves, bones and teeth. It yields gelatin and glue when boiled in water. The discovery of the proteins alone is amazing, but when scientists compared the protein’s chemical structure to a slew of other species, it showed an evolutionary link between T. rex and chickens (bolstering the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs, or are even living dinosaurs). Wow, can you imagine what it would have taken to hack one of those T. rex’s up and coat it in the Colonel’s (er, Caveman’s) secret blend of eleven herbs and spices? And talk about your big-ass biscuits! Forget cock-fighting, that’s small potatoes. Could you imagine tossing two T. rex’s in the ring and letting them fight to the death? That has pay-per-view written all over it. This makes life somewhat easier though. The next time your kid is pestering you to take him to the natural history museum to check out some dinosaur fossils or skeletons, just drive him to the local supermarket and let him play around in the poultry department for a few minutes (just make sure to wash his hands afterwards). Chickens are just scaled down dinosaurs. That’s great. In this era of single-serving everything, it’s just nature’s way of helping out. Scale those giant creatures down already. I guess if nothing else this answers the age old question of “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” Clearly, it was the egg; the big-ass T. rex egg.

I would like to share the following store with you that my brother Josh turned me on to. It was written by Lindsey Tanner, a Medical Writer for the AP. As a type-1 diabetic, this story has special meaning to me and I hope it will open the door for more stem-cell research here in the United States. Paying my taxes is supposed to give me the right to the pursuit of happiness. For me, that means stem-cell research. When diabetes is cured, I can truly be happy.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Thirteen young diabetics in Brazil have ditched
their insulin shots and need no other medication thanks to a risky,
but promising treatment with their own stem cells -- apparently the
first time such a feat has been accomplished.
Though too early to call it a cure, the procedure has enabled
the young people, who have Type I diabetes, to live insulin-free so
far, some as long as three years. The treatment involves stem cell
transplants from the patients' own blood.
"It's the first time in the history of Type 1 diabetes where
people have gone with no treatment whatsoever ... no medications at
all, with normal blood sugars," said study co-author Dr. Richard
Burt of Northwestern University's medical school in Chicago.
While the procedure can be potentially life-threatening, none of
the 15 patients in the study died or suffered lasting side effects.
But it didn't work for two of them.
Larger, more rigorous studies are needed to determine if stem
cell transplants could become standard treatment for people with
the disease once called juvenile diabetes. It is less common than
Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity.
The hazards of stem cell transplantation also raise questions
about whether the study should have included children. One patient
was as young as 14.
Dr. Lainie Ross, a medical ethicist at the University of
Chicago, said the researchers should have studied adults first
before exposing young teens to the potential harms of stem cell
transplant, which include infertility and late-onset cancers.
In addition, Ross said that the study should have had a
comparison group to make sure the treatment was indeed better than
standard diabetes care.
Burt, who wrote the study protocol, said the research was done
in Brazil because U.S. doctors were not interested in the approach.
The study was approved by ethics committees in Brazil, he said,
adding that he personally believes it was appropriate to do the
research in children as well as adults, as long as the Brazilian
ethics panels approved.
Burt and other diabetes experts called the results an important
step forward.
"It's the threshold of a very promising time for the field,"
said Dr. Jay Skyler of the Diabetes Research Institute at the
University of Miami.
Skyler wrote an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical
Association, which published the study, saying the results are
likely to stimulate research that may lead to methods of preventing
or reversing Type I diabetes.
"These are exciting results. They look impressive," said Dr.
Gordon Weir of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.
Still, Weir cautioned that more studies are needed to make sure
the treatment works and is safe. "It's really too early to suggest
to people that this is a cure," he said.
The patients involved were ages 14 to 31 and newly diagnosed
with Type 1 diabetes. An estimated 12 million to 24 million people
worldwide -- including 1 to 2 million in the United States -- have
this form of diabetes, which is typically diagnosed in children or
young adults. An autoimmune disease, it occurs when the body
attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
Insulin is needed to regulate blood sugar levels, which when too
high, can lead to heart disease, blindness, nerve problems and
kidney damage.
Burt said the stem cell transplant is designed to stop the
body's immune attack on the pancreas.
A study published last year described a different kind of
experimental transplant, using pancreas cells from donated
cadavers, that enabled a few diabetics to give up insulin shots.
But that requires lifelong use of anti-rejection medicine, which
isn't needed by the Brazil patients since the stem cells were their
The 15 diabetics were treated at a bone marrow center at the
University of Sao Paulo.
All were newly diagnosed, before their insulin-producing cells
had been destroyed.
That timing is key, Burt said. "If you wait too long," he
said, "you've exceeded the body's ability to repair itself."
The procedure involves stimulating the body to produce new stem
cells and harvesting them from a blood sample. Next comes several
days of high-dose chemotherapy, which virtually shuts down the
immune system and prevents the reintroduced cells from being fought
off by white blood cells. This requires hospitalization and potent
drugs to fend off infection. Then, the harvested stem cells are
injected back into the body where they can build a healthier immune
Patients were hospitalized for about three weeks. Many had side
effects including nausea, vomiting and hair loss. One developed
pneumonia, the only severe complication.
Doctors changed the drug regimen after the treatment failed in
the first patient, who ended up needing more insulin than before
the study. Another patient also relapsed.
The remaining 13 "live a normal life without taking insulin,"
said study co-author Dr. Julio Voltarelli of the University of Sao
Paulo. "They all went back to their lives."
The patients enrolled in the study at different times so the
length of time they've been insulin-free also differs.
Burt has had some success using the same procedure in 170
patients with other autoimmune diseases, including lupus and
multiple sclerosis; one patient with an autoimmune form of
blindness can now see, Burt said.
"The body has tremendous potential to repair," he said.
The study was partly funded by the Brazilian Ministry of Health,
Genzyme Corp. and a maker of blood sugar monitoring products.

I recently received an email call-to-action from Dan, a family friend, Philadelphia native, sports fan, and reader of the Spoon, Full of Truth. It went something like this:

Can you start a new blog titled: “FIRE THE PHILLIES.” And dedicate it to making them move from Philadelphia. I don’t care where they go – Vegas, Portland, Tampa Bay (do they already have a team?), Mexico City. I don’t care. I just want them out of the City. Forever. 120 years of crap is enough. We don’t need anymore. Fire up the blog, my friend. I’ll do the heavy lifting of ranting about how bad they suck.

Far be it from me to deny my readers the content that they desire. Here goes. The Phillies suck. Every season they seem to tank the first two weeks and the last two weeks of the season. The rest of the year they are alright. They always seem to suck in the beginning (off to another stellar 2-7 start this year), play very well in August and early September, and then tank it just in time to lose the wild-card by a game or two. Enough is enough Phillies. You could have hired Jim Leyland when you fired Larry Bowa. But did you? No. You went out and got Charlie Manuel. There is more fire, passion, and inspiration in a Philly cheese-steak than there is in Charlie Manuel. The only thing this guy inspires fans and players alike to do is sleep. Instead of a number of the back of his jersey it should just say, “ZZZZZZ”. You went out and spent big bucks the year before moving into the big stadium to buy Jim Thome and Billy Wagner. Thome is now playing for the White Sox (although he’s still cashing your paychecks) and Wagner drove up 95 to NYC where he helped the Mets win the NL East last year. Way to spend. Let’s not even talk about David Bell. We would have been better off leaving 3rd base open. Phillies, you are the exotic dancers of professional sports. You’re just going to tease us, get us all worked up, and then send us home discontented. Why can’t you be like the Yankees or Redsox and give us some World Series fulfillment? So you made the World Series in 1993, what have you done for me lately? That year was a fluke anyway. It was like in the movie “Major League” where the team purposefully put together a bunch of misfits (complete with our own Wild-thing) and by some fluke they produced. That was the biggest tease of all. My hopes and dreams went flying out the window faster than Joe Carter’s HR over the left-field wall. Philly has had enough of you Phillies. It’s time to pack your bags and move to some other city that appreciates losers (like Texas). We’re ready for a winner, and I’m just not sure if that’s something you are capable of giving us. So go ahead, tank it now and then make your late season run and miss the wildcard by two games. We’re ready for it. If unfulfilled dreams suddenly became the new currency we’d be the wealthiest city on earth. Sadly, there is less chance of that happening than of you actually winning the big one.


Friends and family members often ask for my help in sharing some of their recent accomplishments with my readers. So please take a minute or two and enjoy the following links.

*Public Service Message (staring my very own brother):

*Great Music:
http://www.unlikelycowboy.com or http://www.myspace.com/unlikelycowboy

*Flowers For Any Occasion:

*A Great Forum For The Discussion Of Ideas:

That should just about wrap it up for this week folks. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. I am off to Florida for a few days of relaxation and sunshine but will return next week with another Spoon, Full of Truth. Not only is the Spoon a great place for me to share the goings-on of friends, it makes a great gift for your friends and family! Don’t forget to share the Spoon with someone today. A Spoon, Full of Truth makes the monotony go down. Thanks for reading.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With Bush & company running loose, it is amazing we aren't up to 20 plagues.My goodness, we have Alberto lieing to the Congress, Mc Cain proclaiming Baghdad is a great place for that summer vacation, Rove losing all of those e-mails and Bush giving the public the finger regarding Iraq and stem-cell research.And that is justin the last few weeks. Maybe locusts and boils aren't so terrible.

In any event, another great blog. Keep up the good work. And ,oh yeah, it won't be long before you hear the E-A-G-L-E-S chant at Phillies games.

April 13, 2007 9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well - you have given us reason to bank our new baby's stem cells. Thanks for the information!

April 13, 2007 10:08 AM  

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