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

Location: Phila, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, July 27, 2007


Rhode Island is home to Oscar the cat; who seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in over twenty-five cases, has led nursing home staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means the patient has less than four hours to live.
"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," Dr. David Dosa said in an interview. He described the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one," said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.
Oscar was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.
After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He'd sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.
Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. "This is not a cat that's friendly to people," he said.
Hmmmm, can this cat really predict death or do these old patients have something in common…perhaps, I don’t know, a deathly allergy to….cats?! Animals clearly possess senses that humans do not have but how long is it until one of the families of a recently deceased person sue this center for “killing” their loved one? Maybe the cat is carrying some sort of disease that has spread to old people. Yes I’m talking about YOU, old people.
Personally, I hate cats. The last thing I’d want around in my last moments is a feline. And what about the people who spend their last moments on Earth with Oscar? Doctors say most of the people who get a visit from the four-legged, gray-and-white grim reaper are so ill they probably don't know he's there. Should they really have to spend their last moments with him? What if they are like me and hated cats? They should have the people in the home sign a waiver when they are first brought there asking if they’d like the services of the death-cat. Most families are grateful for the advance warning, although one wanted Oscar out of the room while a family member died. When Oscar is put outside, he paces and meows his displeasure. It sounds like the cat is hungry to me. Have you ever smelled a old-folks home (sorry great-grandma)? They smell about as good as cat food. Maybe dying old people are really the leading ingredient in cat food? It wouldn’t shock me. I want old folks’ spleens and liver, meow-mix, meow-mix please de-liv-er.

A U.S. judge on Thursday struck down (as unconstitutional) a local law designed to crack down on illegal immigration, dealing a blow to similar laws passed by dozens of towns and cities across the country.
U.S. District Judge James Munley said the city of Hazleton, which is located 100 miles north of Philadelphia, was barred from implementing a law that would penalize businesses that hire illegal immigrants and fine landlords who rent rooms to them.
The law also sought to establish English as the Pennsylvania town's official language.
"Federal law prohibits Hazleton from enforcing any of the provisions of its ordinances," Munley wrote in a 206-page opinion following a federal trial in which civil rights groups challenged Hazleton's law.
The city of 30,000 blames a recent rise in illegal immigration for boosting crime and overburdening social services. The law was passed in July 2006 but not applied because opponents won a court injunction.
About a third of the city's residents are immigrants from Central America and around a quarter of the immigrant population is believed to be undocumented, civil rights campaigners say.
Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union successfully argued that local authorities such as Hazleton have no right to regulate immigration, which is the sole responsibility of the federal government.
"Whatever frustrations the City of Hazleton may feel about the current state of federal immigration enforcement, the nature of the political system of the United States prohibit the city from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme," Munley wrote. You hear that Hazleton? Don’t fuck with the Federal government. If George Bush and the clowns on Capital Hill have made nothing else clear, it’s that they’ll do what they want, when they want. That includes flooding the country with illegal immigrants who will work (under the table mostly) for less than minimum wage. That’s the only part I disagree with. There should be stronger penalties for not paying illegal immigrants minimum wage. These people come into the country and work the awful (and sometimes dangerous) jobs; the jobs that most Americans would never want to work. More power to them. I have several unemployed friends and I don’t see them lining up to clean toilets. My problem is that rich Republicans want to fill the country with illegal immigrants so they can put them to work in their companies and pay them less than minimum wage while offering them no benefits whatsoever. That isn’t fair to Americans who pay taxes because these people then do become a drain on social services. It also isn’t fair to the illegal immigrants because the jobs they are being offered here in America pay better than the jobs they could get at home but the trade off is that they are over-worked and under compensated (by American standards….American standards sounds like an oxymoron). These decision to me shows that the judges are working for Dubya, Cheney, and the rest of the sheep on the Hill. What happened to three branches of government working together? Instead we have the judicial and the legislative working FOR the executive. It’s just wrong no matter how you slice it. Encerrar?

The Food and Drug Administration will ask outside experts next week whether the diabetes drug Avandia should carry label warnings of heart attack risk. The FDA scheduled a meeting for this upcoming Monday to ask drug safety and diabetes experts to review GlaxoSmithKline's blockbuster drug after a medical journal article in May suggested heart attack risk in patients who take the drug is FORTY-THREE percent higher. There’s a forty-three percent higher chance of having a heart-attack for diabetics who take Avandia?! What are they going to do next, start making it with a sugary candy coating? That’d be good for diabetics too!
The agency posted documents Thursday on its Web site that included its latest review of the drug. The FDA is also expected to ask panelists whether any heart attack risks seen with Avandia are greater than those of rival diabetes treatments. Although it usually does, the agency is not required to follow the recommendation of the panel of experts. The company says its studies show that the drug is as safe as comparable treatments. That makes it okay?
The FDA revealed in its review however that Glaxo approached the agency last summer about adding heart-attack risk language to the product's label. The warning would have noted that increased rates of heart attack occurred in some company studies, while saying that it was not clear whether they were connected to Avandia. Nah, couldn’t be Avandia. Just ask Pat Robertson, it’s probably the Jews or homosexuals that are to blame.
The FDA rejected the proposal, arguing that any information about heart-attack risk should appear in a more prominent "black box" warning, the most serious warning a drug can carry. Why’s the black label have to mean something bad? If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s label-racists.
The FDA said panelists should weigh Avandia's potential risks against its benefits.
More than 6 million people worldwide have taken Avandia or a related drug, Avandamet, since it came on the market in 1999. Doctors use the pills to control blood sugar levels in patients with adult-onset diabetes; most of the patients reported being much happier with the lower blood sugar levels right before they clutched their hearts and keeled over dead.
In briefing documents posted online Thursday, Glaxo argued that "there is no consistent or systematic evidence" linking Avandia to increased risk of heart attack or death. However, the company recommends expanding the drug's label, which already includes a warning about heart failure, a condition in which the heart cannot effectively pump blood to the body. Wow, I was sure Glaxo would have come out and said that the drug WAS consistently linked to an elevated risk of heart-attack. I guess next McDonald’s is going to say there is no link between eating their french fries and gaining weight (well there isn’t…if you only eat five of them). These guys must have hired the same scientists who told big tobacco that there was no increased risk of lung cancer for people who smoke. Bad science! That’s a very bad science!
Glaxo did say it plans to add a warning that diabetics who already take insulin should not take Avandia. The proposed warning is consistent with the FDA's review, which found insulin-taking patients who also use Avandia face a greater risk of heart failure. Being an insulin-dependant diabetic, I know one drug I won’t be taking any time soon.
Federal lawmakers and consumer groups are pressuring regulators to put further restrictions on Avandia's use. But the agency said it wants to hear from outside experts before recommending any changes. I wish they would ask to hear from me, I wouldn’t sugar coat it. A Spoon, Full of sugar, is a dead Spoon. ***UPDATE: JULY 30th, The NY Times published this article today (4 days after my story first appeared) that clearly backs up what I had said; Avandia's risks outweigh its benefits. http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/business/business-glaxosmithkline-avandia.html?ex=1186459200&en=499b2dda11ae4f32&ei=5070&emc=eta1 ***

Am I the only one that is insulted by local news and their weather reports? Let’s be honest, local news is a joke! It’s nothing but puff pieces surrounded by creamy filling. They start off with some murders for shock value (if it bleeds, it leads) and then go into all of the stupid events taking place around the region that day. “For those of you sitting inside all day, here’s what’s going on outside”. They get 23 minutes of air time for a 30 minute news segment and they waste the majority of that on weather. Yes, we all need to know if it’s going to be hot and humid or rainy all weekend so we can make or break those shore plans but isn’t the weather channel enough? To make matters worse they give you the current weather. You have to be living in a bunker with no view of the outdoors to need current weather. I have a current weather report that airs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…it’s called a window. I’m sure you have one too; try opening it up sometime. It takes about five seconds to get the current weather that way. “Currently in Philadelphia it is 75 degrees and raining” . Phew! Thank goodness I caught that weather report. I looked out the window and saw all of these strange drops of water falling from the sky. I was sure the world was coming to and end, so I turned on the local news and the weather man told me it was just raining. Boy do I feel better now. It gets better. Sometimes the weather guy will tell you that it’s sunny and you look outside and it’s raining. Sometimes they tell you it’s currently snowing and you see people walking around outside in shorts and a t-shirt. It’s insulting. Please, stop reporting the current weather. If you really want to insult me, just tell me that currently, I’m an idiot for watching local news.

Thanks for reading today folks. I know I haven’t been posting much but I still appreciate your loyalty when I do. I’ve gotten a lot of sweet emails of support recently and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. For those of you who chose to lash out at the Spoon for sharing personal information on my site, you can go fork yourself. Check back soon, to get more wisdom, straight from the Spoon. Have a great weekend!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for today's edition. And thanks for reminding me why I always found Garfield so creepy.On the immigration decision, I think it was a very wise decision.We would be in alot of trouble if every city and town weighs in on the issue with their own "policy". If people don't like our immigration policies they can vote out the scoundrels in Washington.I also agree that businesses that hire illegal immigrants should pay them a living wage for doing what are most often the most menial and laborious jobs.
Keep up the good work and keep those nasty cats away from me.

July 27, 2007 7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great articles today Spoon. I know you're going through a rough time right now and it can't be easy to have your heart broken so badly but it's nice to see that somewhere under all that hurt you're still alive and as funny as ever. I can't wait til you're back at 100%, the world needs you.

July 27, 2007 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your comment on local news broadcasts. It is painful most days to watch the vast majority of these broadcasts. Murders , fires , the weather (following at least a dozen teasers ) and 2 or 3 puff pieces.We need a local version of Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert. In fact , Spoon -you should be doing the local news.Spare us one more minute of Larry Mendte, Hurricane Schwartz, etc.

July 27, 2007 10:45 AM  
Blogger D. Jacob Miller said...

Hey, you start a petition to get me on the air and I'd love to do the local news.

July 27, 2007 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Jay fanuel said...

Apropos of your comments about Avandia, today's NY Times carries a story about an FDA scientist urging that it be removed from the marketplace. Good job on this important matter.

July 30, 2007 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post tingle alley

July 30, 2007 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Sammi said...

I would definitely sign a petition to get you on the local news! Miss you. I hope you're feeling better now.
Oh...and my cats (used to) eat Meow Mix, so thank you for the "Old folks spleens and livers" comment...now I need to find a new cat food for the picky little furballs. Awesome...You rock.

August 09, 2007 12:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home