5-year old Hero

Rayshun McDowell, a hero and 5-year-old boy, protected six other children outside his parents’ home from a rabid fox. He

“grabbed a rabid fox by the neck and pinned it to the ground during a family cookout, protecting six other children before his stepfather could step in.

“I wanted to protect my little brother,” said Rayshun, who battled the animal in the front yard of his home Sunday in Kingstown, a town about 50 miles west of Charlotte.

The fox bit Rayshun in the leg, but the 61-pound-boy held the animal down. Health officials later identified the fox as rabid.”

Rayshun’s parents, Shinda Linder and Ryan Thompson, are to be commended for raising such a brave child. Sam Lockridge, a county health official, advised other children to not be so brave. It’s a shame when a society can’t celebrate its heros out of some nebulous fear of litigation.

Emma’s going to be four tomorrow. I’ve tried to teach her bravery, sacrifice, and courage, but even though she fancies herself as a Wonder Woman-in-training, I’m not quite sure I’ve done as good as job as Rayshun’s parents. Hopefully I’ll teach her to shoot better than the family’s neighbor.

Let Freedom Ring

The following towns in NH don’t feel the need to take away the rights of their citizenry to send off fireworks for Independence Day. If you’re going to be going somewhere to watch town-sponsored fireworks, head to one of those where the people still know why we’re launching them in the first place (and support their local economy while you’re there).

ACWORTH
ALEXANDRIA
ALLENSTOWN
ALSTEAD
AMHERST
ATKINSON
BARNSTEADBARRINGTON
BELMONT
BRENTWOOD
BRIDGEWATER
BROOKLINE
CANDIA
CANTERBURY
CARROLL
CHARLESTOWN
CHATHAM
COLEBROOK
DALTON
DANBURY
DOVER
DUNBARTON
EAST
EXETER
FRANKLIN
GRAFTON
GREENVILLE
GROTON
HANOVER
HARRISVILLE
HENNIKER
HILL
HILLSBORO
HINSDALE
HOLLIS
JAFFEREY
KINGSTON
LACONIA
LANDAFF
LANGDON
LITCHFIELD
LONDONDERRY
LYME
MANCHESTER
MARLOW
MASON
MILFORD
NEW CASTLE
NEW LONDON
NEWBURY
NEWTON
NORTHUMBERLAND
NORTHWOOD
OSSIPEE
PIERMONT
PITTSFIELD
PLAINFIELD
PLYMOUTH
ROCHESTER
RYE
SALISBURY
SANBORNTON
SHELBURNE
STARK
SULLIVAN
SWANZEY
TAMWORTH
TUFTONBORO
UNITY
WESTMORELAND
WOODSTOCK

Source: NH Dept of Fire Safety.

Do I feel Bad(?)

I enjoyed the blog of Robert Lindeman (Dr. Flea) ever since doing a web search for why I couldn’t use Neosporin to clear up a case of conjunctivitis that came home from daycare (answer: you can).

In fact, I found both the above mentioned page and a link to the Dr. Flea Blog during my Google session. The Doctor, blogging anonymously, had a great blog, with a mix of medical stories, advice, humor, whining (hey, it’s a blog) and great writing. He won a Webby for Best Medical Blog recently.

I read some of the past blog entries as I had a chance, and it became very clear to me, with some additional Google searches that Flea and Dr. Lindeman were the same guy. That’s fine, I’m typically pretty good about extracting information from Google searches and figured he’s putting up there what he felt was appropriate for himself.

There was clearly some material that he could never have talked about nonymously (it’s a word now, dammit) – current fights he was having with medical establishment types, fights with ER docs and dressings-down of the same, his jingoistic support for circumcision, etc.

Over the past few months, he started talking about a malpractice case in which he was involved, and showing a bit of stress in the way he talked about the opposing council. I didn’t think it to be highly mature, but, hey, it’s a blog, that’s cool, dude.

I Googled about and found that the Mass. courts have almost nothing online, so I couldn’t find much out about what was going on, but I put in a Google News Alert for ‘lindeman malpractice’ just to see if anything came up.

Well, a couple days ago it did. Somehow, the opposing council found out about his blog and though she apparently didn’t have a great case, shoved it in his face, and presumably intended to show the jury some of the things he said mocking the jurors. They settled the case next day. He deleted his blog immediately from BlogSpot. Worst of all, he’ll never get a chance to prove in court that it wasn’t his fault (if it wasn’t).

So, why would I feel bad? As he added a few stories here and there with more and more personal details I was really tempted to send him a mail saying, “hey, dude, these n stories are giving away too much of your personal info – you should take them down until the trial is over.” I didn’t send the mail. I even started to send one one time and something came up and I didn’t compile the list of URL’s. It wasn’t in my face (it might still be in my Drafts folder) so I didn’t complete it.

If I had sent the mail, would it have made any difference? Would he have listened? Would it have made a difference in a world with Google cache? Would the lawyer not have been smart enough to figure out the Google cache? Should he be blogging anonymously like that?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. I don’t lose any sleep over it, but I’m at least compelled to write this blog entry to put some closure on it. At the same time that I would have liked to have helped the guy, I do not support mandatory motorcycle helmet laws (the point of which is to protect a brain that is functioning so poorly it’s not even trying to prevent the cracking of the skull it’s in. –Jerry Seinfeld) and I don’t think his was functioning so poorly as to be unaware of the potential risks (even though he did go to the wrong Ivy 😉 ).

Here are some things I think I do know:

  • Dr. Lindeman is a bright and talented guy.
  • The medical advice given on the blog seemed spot-on. It would have improved his legitimate website.
  • The gossip also gave his readers insight, though he could not have said it on a professional blog.
  • This case is going to have a chilling effect on other anonymous medical bloggers.
  • If it were not for Dr. Flea I probably would have accepted an X-ray, hospital admission, and IV antibiotics a couple weeks ago when I put a nail in my hand with a framing nailer. I got out with a tetinus shot and $9 antibiotics and it’s healed perfectly, thank you very much.
  • I’m glad I’ve been commenting and blogging as bill_mcgonigle forever – it removes the temptation to put too big of a foot in your mouth.
  • I have no malpractice insurance.

If I were him, would I be mad at me (the real me, not the hypothetical me – ah, hell, you know what I mean)? Hmmm, maybe. But I’d still really like to have lunch with him someday and would love to read his next blog. Hey, Doc, drop me a line and I’ll setup a Typo blog on your domain pro bono – it’s the least I can do for your saving me untold thousands in unnecessary healthcare utilization.

Privacy is a Human Right

Dan sent me a link to a great essay by Bruce Schneier about privacy being a human right, not a government allowance. The money quote:

We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.

Something to consider the next time somebody tells you you only need privacy if you have something to hide.

Suzy Smith – 1940-2007

On Monday I went to a memorial service for Suzy Smith, a friend and former co-worker. Suzy and I chatted over e-mail regularly, mostly about new Mac products, but more recently about some treatments in clinical trials for curing metastatic lung cancer.

Suzy was a Mac fanatic, an appellation she’d happily accept. It was really quite a curious memorial service with so many stories about her love of the Mac, and it wasn’t just because the Chapel was half-full of IT department workers. There’s something interesting about it beyond Suzy – I can’t imagine a similar scenario where you could replace Mac with Windows or even Linux and get so many warm smiles from a group. Suzy would have had lots of reasons to explain why this was true. If I were faster thinking, I would have sent a bouquet of flowers stuffed inside a Compact Mac case (alas, I think of these things too late).

Tonight I had the sad duty of deleting Suzy from my Buddy list and her vCard from my Address Book. But it’s an OSX Address Book, so she’d be OK with it.

Her family asked callers to the reception to take a ring from Suzy’s vast collection. I picked one out for Emma with flowers, in three kinds of gold, and we’ll have that remembrence of her for many years to come. Her sister said they didn’t know what to do with a hundred rings. I reassured her that what they chose to do was great, making a hundred people happy, something Suzy would have liked maybe even more than a new iLife release.

Photo: two coworkers decided, independently, to make 6-colored Apple cookies for the reception.

Paraglider Rides Thunderstorm to 32,000 ft

Ewa Wisnerska, paraglider, got caught in one of Australia’s notorious thunderstorm updrafts, spiraled up to 32,000 ft, was pelted with hail, encased in ice, lost consciousness from the low oxygen, and returned safely to Earth fifty miles from where she started. Her trip was logged by her GPS device. She intends to complete the competition she’s attending.

Air Force Develops Transparent Aluminum

On the same day that we learned James Doohan’s ashes are bound for space the USAF announced a new transparent armor technology made from aluminum oxynitride.

From the Air Force Materiel Command News Service:

Engineers here are testing a new kind of transparent armor – stronger and lighter than traditional materials – that could stop armor-piercing weapons from penetrating vehicle windows. The Air Force Research Laboratory’s materials and manufacturing directorate is testing aluminum oxynitride – ALONtm – as a replacement for the traditional multi-layered glass transparencies now used in existing ground and air armored vehicles.

…ALONtm is a ceramic compound with a high compressive strength and durability… “The substance itself is light years ahead of glass,” said 1st Lt. Joseph La Monica, adding that it offers “higher performance and lighter weight.” ..ALONtm is virtually scratch resistant, offers substantial impact resistance, and provides better durability and protection against armor piercing threats, at roughly half the weight and half the thickness of traditional glass transparent armor, said the lieutenant.

…”With glass, to get the protection against higher threats, you have to keep building layers upon layers. But with ALONtm, the material only needs to be increased a few millimeters.” …”Eventually, with a conventional glass surface, degradation takes place and results in a loss of transparency,” Ron Hoffman, an investigator at University of Dayton Research Institute, said. “Things such as sand have little or no impact on ALONtm, and it probably has a life expectancy many times that of glass.”

…”Traditional transparent armor costs a little over $3 per square inch. The ALONtm Transparent Armor cost is $10 to $15 per square inch,” Lieutenant La Monica said. “The difficulties arise with heating and polishing processes, which lead to higher costs. But we are looking at more cost effective alternatives.”

How to Punish a Professor

Make her teach! The Valley News has the story of Dartmouth Professor Mara Sabinson who “alleges that after she refused to quit, college administrators punished her by assigning her to teach freshman writing seminars.” When I toured Dartmouth, their big selling point was that the professors are really engaged in teaching, not “I’ll teach the postdocs and have grad students teach the undergrads,” so this is exactly the wrong kind of press for the Marketing Department.

The attitude that teaching freshmen is punishment is hardly hidden by these professors, and the students aren’t so dumb as to not understand what’s going on. Those who would take a professorship and not love teaching should go out and get a job in industry. Those who would eschew the industry route in favor of the safety of the tenure track while still despising teaching have no place in higher education, and are a threat to the competitiveness of the U.S. .