Great TV to listen to

As I’m sure you know, I am a fan of a show called Doctor Who. It has been on TV more or less since the mid 60’s so there’s a lot for the dedicated fan to absorb. As much as I enjoy the show, I think I enjoy the audio plays more.

Yes yes, I know, they aren’t “canonical” in the sense that they don’t fit into the show’s continuity, but both Big Finish and Broken Sea are making things that are worth listening to. The Big Finish productions have an edge since they get a lot of the original actors to play their parts in the audio dramas. Of course, they also cost money, unlike the Broken Sea productions. Broken Sea looks like it’s a real labor of love. In addition to Doctor Who, they also do fan fiction based on some other series like Battlestar Galactica, Planet of the Apes, and Logan’s Run(!).

So they are done well, and they are a lot of fun. Some are done well enough that I have false memories of watching them! This may come across as a bit heretical to die hard Who fans, but if your only experience of the Doctor Who series is the “new” one that started in 2001, you might want to stick with these audio plays instead of delving into the archives of the TV show. Let’s face it, a lot, arguably most, of the older shows really weren’t all that good. Even supposed “classics” like “The Pirate Planet” really suffer in comparison to the quality of the newer shows. It isn’t just the effects either, although those are uniformly laughable. The quality of the acting is pretty bad, and the writing varies from decent to stunningly bad. It has it’s own charm, in an older, BBC kind of way, and die hard fans will want to experience all of the enemies that the Doc has faced throughout the years. If you enjoy the current series and want more enjoyable stories, the audio plays are the way to go. Check them out!

Prop 8

OK, now that prop 8 has been upheld, there is more legal stuff being brought to bear to overturn it again. failing that, people are promising to bring it to another vote as early as next year.

This is crazy. Regardless of which way this goes, about half the population of CA will fight it. At what point do people say enough?

An obvious solution is for the state of California to say, “We don’t care who you marry, don’t talk to us about marriage!” Why people feel the need to have the state bless their union I’ll never understand. All of the benefits and privileges that are associated with marriage can either be gotten rid of, or managed some other way. We don’t have to have all of this wailing and gnashing of teeth, people could be getting on with their lives if they would stop turning to the wrong entity for validation. Sheesh….

Memorial day

I was watching a baseball game on sunday night when the announcer reminded us to remember the people that have voluntarily put their life in danger for their country. A fair number of them never came home, and there’s no doubt that we owe them a great deal.

On this memorial day, and I think on all memorial days from now on, I want to especially remember the people that died in conflicts that they did not want to be a part of. Many people fought only because they didn’t want to go to jail. They didn’t care about falling dominos, a UN resolution, or any other reason the politicos gave them for killing other people and getting shot at.

It’s one thing to die for something you believe in, it’s quite a different matter to die for something that you don’t care about. A lot of soldiers died that way, between a rock and the draft.

In addition to remembering the bravery of the soldiers that fought and died for us, we should also remember the additional burden of the ones that were forced into dying for us. Memorial day should be a day to remember bravery, but it should mostly be a remembrance of sacrifice.

I have registered!

After a little cajoling from a friend of mine, I have registered to take the test that is required to get through the teaching program. Next is to get official transcripts in fro all of the schools I’ve been to. And then the tuition (which is thankfully not all that much) and then the course work. I’ll feel good about getting on with my professional life a little later in the process…

The gym is my friend

Wow, going to the gym really makes a big difference for me. One thing that my diagnosis does for me is that it explains how exercise doesn’t have the same effect on me as everyone else. everyone always says, “I love working out, I feel so energized afterwards.” I felt like crap, like my soul is leaking out of me. Exercising really take it out of me, I don’t feel like doing much of anything for an hour or two afterwards. I might even fall asleep.

So it’s tempting for me to not go, it really is. Here’s the problem, when I don’t go, I pay the price. I have found out that if I don’t go for a couple of days, I get real stiff, the spasticity in my legs is pretty bad. Still no pain, but wow, they lock up good. If I go to the gym, I’m much looser. Of course, that first day back is pretty rough. Stretching doesn’t seem to help all that much, but the activity does.

I’d like to say that I’ve found this out with a controlled scientific approach, but I can’t. It’s mostly about how lazy I get. But it truly is pay now or pay later. I hope I can maintain this through the heat of summer because people with MS typically don’t do well with the heat. AC and an exercise bike are all I need to stay on course, and I suppose a little reminder from my legs once in a while would help too.

What? Why didn’t he think about this before?

I really can’t believe Obama said this

“We can’t keep on just borrowing from China,” Obama said at a town-hall meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, outside Albuquerque. “We have to pay interest on that debt, and that means we are mortgaging our children’s future with more and more debt.”

Umm, why didn’t you think of that before pushing through that so called stimulus and all of those bailouts? I would use a well known saying involving a pot and kettle, but I don’t want to be accused of being a racist. Where does he think all this debt came from? And more importantly, why didn’t he worry about this BEFORE taking on all of that debt? Unbelievable…

Adult stem cells or why I hate the FDA

One of the more promising treatments for MS (among a slew of other conditions) is the use of adult stem cells. Unfortunately, here in the US, the media and various groups are obsessed with embryonic stem cells. Those have a lot of promise as a therapeutic method, but they are really controversial. I’m really uncomfortable with them, and I think I would decline to be treated with them. In addition to the controversy, there is the little problem of how to use them. In theory, they have a lot of promise because they could become darn near any type of cell that is needed. The problem is that they tend to create tumors. It makes sense since those cells are all about growing…

So while everyone talks about embryonic stem cells, there really aren’t any treatments available using them. While the US was arguing abut those, the rest of the world went on to researching adult stem cells. These are cells that are taken from the patient’s own body. As such, there is no controversy in using them. The cells have a variety of different sources including fat cells, bone marrow, blood, skin, and even menstrual blood! The stuff is taken out of the patient, the stem cells are separated from the host tissues, they are made to grow into more and more cells, and then they are injected back into the patient wherever they need them.

This technique is successfully being used all over the world to treat the symptoms of many different afflictions like MS, cerebral palsy, congestive heart failure, broken bones, and many more. In most cases the stem cell treatments aren’t “cures” but they do alleviate many symptoms and help people regain function. In addition, since it is the patients’ own cells being used, there are no side effects to speak of.

So why is it that people can go to Israel, China, Costa Rica, The Philippines, Argentina, and many other places to get these treatments but we can’t get them here? Many Americans assume that all of those countries have inferior medical systems and are unable to do quality medicine. That just isn’t true. The way many people think, they assume that all of those people live in mud huts and have never read a book. They have hospitals and many of those countries have very successful medical tourism industries. The reason they are successful is because they are able to offer good treatment at much lower prices in a timely fashion. Their reputations depend on good service.

No, the reason we don’t have those treatments available isn’t because of the backwardness of those other countries, it is because of the weird incentives the government has set up for these treatments. You see, the FDA has declared that adult stem cells are “drugs” and therefore are subject to all of the regulations that go along with that title. Put another way, the FDA believes that they have jurisdiction over how you can use your own cells on your own body.

It costs fortunes to get a drug approved at the FDA. Here’s the kicker, the drug companies do not have any incentive to research how people can use their own cells, so they don’t do any. Clinics, hospitals, and doctors stand to gain tremendously if these procedures become normal here. The trouble is that any given clinic would be unable to recoup the money needed to jump through all of the hoops at the FDA because once it is approved, anyone would be able to do it.

Some people would say that the government should foot the bill for this research in order to solve the problem. It would be much easier, much less expensive, and much faster if the FDA would simply reclassify the use of adult stem cells as a procedure instead of a drug.

If you’d like to see what is going on with adult stem cells these days, check out RSCI. He has a lot of information about adult stem cell use and lots of links to different types of conditions that are currently being treated with them. Adult Stem Cell Therapy is also a good place to go to talk with people that have had the procedure done. Adult stem cells are the future, and in other countries, the future is now. I hope beyond hope that this will happen in this country soon, and that the prices will follow a Lasik-type trajectory.

MS treatments

As you might imagine, I’ve been looking into what kind of treatments are available for MS. There are two different fronts when it comes to treating MS. There are things to treat the symptoms and then there are things that try to prevent relapses. Most of the effort and most of what is out there for MS patients is in the latter category.

I have problems with those types of things for several reasons. The shots that are used to prevent relapses are hideously expensive and have various side effects. Very frequently, they stop working or don’t work for a particular person. I’ve also wondered how you would know if they work at all. I mean, it’s easy to tell when they aren’t working, but it isn’t possible to know if they are. All of this is a bit moot since I don’t seem to have the relapsing type, those shots won’t work for me.

When it comes to treating the effects of MS there is very little that modern medicine has to offer. There are some anti-spaticity drugs and pain killers and that’s about it. There are some things that anecdotally have some effects. Things like acupuncture, diet, and yoga have their adherents. Another option is marijuana. There are many people that swear that it helps with pain, spasticity, and some even claim that it prevents relapses. Along with those positives, there are very few side effects and it is cheap! It’s really easy to grow too. The one downside is that it is illegal in most places.

Sigh.

The good news is that there is a lot of promise with the new field of stem cell research. More on that in the next post.

I have MS

I was diagnosed with MS this last friday. In one sense, it is a relief. I now at least have an idea of what to expect and can put a name to what has been causing me all of these troubles. Of course, it always sucks getting a diagnosis like this…

On the bright side, if I’m going to have MS, now is a pretty good time to have it. Research is finally making some serious progress (more about that in the next post) and it looks like treatments are available now overseas and will hopefully be here within a couple of years. In the meantime, I really am not in all that bad a shape. I can get around, I have no pain, and I have nothing that will prevent me from getting a new job. I’ll need to be sitting down with the new one, but still…

I was pretty much anticipating this, so it didn’t come as a big shock. I’m doing OK right now and I think that within a few years I’ll get some treatment. I don’t know if that is going to be in this country or not, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.