Archive for November, 2013

Beautiful Quote from Thomas Brooks

// November 29th, 2013 // No Comments » // Interesting

I’m yet to read this book but this was one sweet quote:

“…it is not hasty reading—but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the bee’s touching of the flower, which gathers honey—but her abiding for a time upon the flower, which draws out the sweet. It is not he who reads most—but he who meditates most, who will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.”

—Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

Life After Abortion – 8 min Trailer

// November 21st, 2013 // No Comments » // Health & Fitness, Popular Issues

LifeThis video features women describing their abortion experience, why they’ll never have children again, and why they now choose life rather than abortion. An abortion is something they would not wish on their worst enemy.



This is an 8-minute trailer:

Reposted Article: “For the most desperate, it’s about faith, love, and human kindness” by Miranda Fielding, MD

// November 21st, 2013 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

For the most desperate, it’s about faith, love, and human kindness

Article from KevinMD

Author: Miranda Fielding, MD

“Thirty three years ago my husband and I went to Jamaica for a belated honeymoon.  We got married on the last weekend of my internship year, and immediately flew back to Boston for me to start my second year of internal medicine training.  Seven months later in the dead of winter, we flew to Jamaica to a lux resort in Ocho Rios where I spent a blissful week drinking sweet rum laced drinks and sleeping them off on a white sandy beach where the water was warm and turquoise, a far cry from the sodden gray snow banks of Massachusetts. We managed to get into the town once, long enough for me to buy a wood carving of two lovers kissing, made from lignum vitae, the national tree of Jamaica.  The sculpture still sits in the window by my front door.


Two weeks ago I finally had a chance to go back to Jamaica, as the invited guest of Dr. Dingle Spence, radiation oncologist and palliative care/oncology specialist at the Hope Institute, a small cancer hospital run by the Jamaican Ministry of Health.  I was there for two working days, spending the first at the large urban Kingston Public Hospital, a 500 bed hospital which houses the only government funded radiation oncology unit on that side of the island.

In the morning, we did teaching rounds with the ear, nose and throat surgical team, along with the residents and medical students.  Patients and their families waited outside our conference area and were brought in one at a time, to be examined and questioned by the team such that each had our full attention. Several patients had advanced disease, and I learned that one major problem is that the pathology department is overwhelmed with cases from all over the Caribbean, and that oftentimes it takes two to three months to get a pathologic diagnosis.  By that time, many cases have progressed so far as to be incurable with the resources at hand.  Still, the dedication of the team, and in particular that of the head surgeon Dr. Natalie Whylie was very apparent and heartfelt.

That afternoon, I had the opportunity to see several patients with Dr. Spence — all with various forms of advanced lung cancer requiring radiation to palliate symptoms of shortness of breath, and hemoptysis — coughing up blood. Simulation at Kingston Public Hospital is done the old fashioned way — by taking an x-ray with markers on the skin in the approximate area of the tumor, then shifting the “field” to match the tumor accurately.

On that day, all of the x-ray machines in radiology were in disrepair, and non- functional.  We escorted the patients to the emergency ward, where the radiology tech told us that the ER was too busy, and that we would have to come back later.  All three men, quite ill from their cancers, took a seat in the waiting room without food, water or complaint.  Three hours later, when we were called back to do the simulations, they were still there.  We simulated each in turn, then escorted them back to the radiation department, where they waited some more until it was their turn to be treated on the Cobalt machine later in the evening.  The therapists work 12-hour days on that machine, and we left before those patients had their turn. After a short visit to the private radiation oncology facility in Kingston, where cash paying patients can be treated on a linear accelerator, we returned to Dr. Spence’s home high up on Jacks Hill.

The second day was spent at the Hope Institute.  Founded in 1963 by the Jamaica Cancer Society, the hospital has grown to 45 beds, for patients receiving chemotherapy and radiation and for end-of-life hospice care.  Since patients frequently travel long distances for cancer care in Jamaica, beds are often used to house patients for prolonged courses of treatment.  The wards had clean crisp linens, and the smells of fresh cooked meals in the large recently modernized kitchen wafted through the rooms.  The nurses had an air of easy familiarity with their charges and the atmosphere was upbeat, despite the fact that many of the patients were gravely ill.

I was asked to lecture on several subjects, and given an air conditioned auditorium and three hours which I doubted seriously that I could fill.  As it turned out, the nurses, therapists, residents and students who attended felt comfortable enough to ask questions, and a home cooked midday meal helped pass the time quickly.  My old resident’s manual, given to me at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1982 and carried with me for over thirty years as a souvenir, was a major source of interest, because it contained information pertinent to the treatment of patients with the equipment that is available to cancer patients in the public sector of Jamaica, equipment that has long been abandoned or replaced in our own country.

The thing that struck me the most about my experience in Kingston was the fact that despite the human suffering that I saw, in a country short on both technology and morphine, the patients remained hopeful and even cheerful in the face of extreme adversity.  I asked my host, Dr. Spence, how this could be, coming from the land of complainers, myself chief among them.

She replied, “Most people in Jamaica have a deep faith.  They truly feel that they are in God’s hands, and what will be, will be and only God knows best.”

As I watched her move from bed to bed, giving comfort to the dying with only her soft voice and her cool touch upon their feverish foreheads, I realized something that sometimes I have forgotten in my excitement over the technology that I have available every day, without even thinking about it.  In the end it’s not about the technology at all.  For the most desperate among us, it’s about faith, and about love and human kindness.  For this reminder, I will be forever grateful.”

This article has been re-posted from KevinMD

Best coin ever spent.

// November 20th, 2013 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

A girl’s donation to a street busking musician gets an unexpected surprise:

I think this street performance deserves just as much recognition and applause:

America’s Only Rare Earth Mine

// November 4th, 2013 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Molycorp Mountain Pass rare earth facility in California’s Mojave Desert; Credit: The Atlantic

I read an article today about the only Rare Earth mine in the U.S. (there are many abroad in international locations and most of them are controlled by China, which uses them to corner the market on consumer electronics). It would be interesting to start new Rare Earth mines in the United States so that we can recoup some of the control over electronics from China. More importantly, mining rare earth metals in the U.S. would also allow the U.S. to control future energy sources derived from rare earth metals of relative abundance, such as the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR’s) that we should build to take advantage of the relative abundance of rare earth metal’s that can be used for clean, more efficient energy such as Thorium. There are so many types of nuclear energy and Thorium is the safest that I’ve heard of. If I were wise I’d invest in Rare Earth metals. I think that would change up a lot of the way this country runs. (It currently runs on gasoline.)

Here are some highlights from the article, entitled, A Visit to the Only American Mine for Rare Earth Metals:

“That big hole in the ground? It’s a pit mine at the Molycorp Mountain Pass rare earth facility in California’s Mojave Desert. Metals mined from pits like that were used to make the cell phone in your pocket and the computer screen you’re staring at right now.”
“At one point, the majority of the world’s rare earths were mined at the Mountain Pass facility. Then, in 1998, Molycorp halted chemical processing at the mine following an environmental disaster…”
“At the same time, China was dramatically increasing its rare earth production. The resulting lower market prices forced Molycorp to close their mine in 2002. …China now produces between 96% and 99% of the world’s total rare earth supply. The government carefully allocates supply to individual companies to support domestic electronics production.”
“In 2009, they cut export quotas of rare earths from 50,000 to 30,000 tonnes, sending already-high prices on international markets even higher.”
“[In 2012], they [reopened] the Mountain Pass mine, an operation they’ve aptly named “Project Phoenix.” Getting to this point, however, has been expensive — about $1 billion so far — and has required a lot of special environmental permits.”
“The heavy rare earths terbium, yttrium, and dysprosium are necessary for manufacturing wind turbines and solar cells, so the government has a particular interest in finding sources of those elements within the US.”
“The Department of Energy released a Critical Materials Strategy report… which found that rare earths are necessary for clean energy technology, that the supply of those heavy rare earths is particularly at risk, and that Molycorp is the most promising rare earth project outside of China.”
“…the mine runs 24/7 because the equipment is hugely expensive; it couldn’t be profitable otherwise.”
“By controlling the world supply of rare earths, China is trying to create a barrier for anyone attempting to manufacture electronics elsewhere. While most electronics are still manufactured in China, plants are opening around the world. All of these plants are currently subject to China’s export taxes and artificial limitations of supply — if Mountain Pass production is as high as expected, that may change.”

Article in The Atlantic: Wiens, K. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Eight grams of new energy source Thorium can power this car for 1 century. What does that mean for Medicine?

// November 2nd, 2013 // No Comments » // Information Technology, Interesting, IT Innovation

Thorium Concept Car

Thorium Concept Car – Image Courtesy

This sleek-looking (or ugly-looking, depending on how you look at it) concept car was designed by Loren Kulesus to be the “Cadillac World Thorium Fuel Concept Car” as an idea for a car that would run off of Thorium. “According to CEO Charles Stevens, just one gram of the substance yields more energy than 7,396 gallons (28,000 L) [that’s 300,000 miles] of gasoline and 8 grams would power the typical car for a century.” [This, of course, does not actually run off of Thorium and is just a concept-design to illustrate the idea. Nuclear powered cars, even powered by energy sources as safe as Thorium, are not presently a good idea and even still are still a long way off in terms of advancement.]

“The principle is fairly simple. The thorium would be lased to generate heat, which would then produce steam in a closed-loop system. That steam would then power a generator to produce electricity. Since it only takes a thin sheet of aluminum foil to shield the world from the weak thorium radiation and the element can’t be weaponized, it’s thought to be perfect for mobile power generation.” (Source: Autoblog)

“Laser Power Systems (LPS) from Connecticut, USA, is developing a new method of automotive propulsion with one of the most dense materials known in nature: thorium. Because thorium is so dense it has the potential to produce tremendous amounts of heat. The company has been experimenting with small bits of thorium, creating a laser that heats water, produces steam and powers a mini turbine.”

“Current models of the engine weigh 500 pounds, easily fitting into the engine area of a conventionally-designed vehicle.”


What does this mean for medicine?  [Of course it’s not yet possible, and even seems silly, to power a device from nuclear energy.] It could mean that one pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) implant surgery would be necessary for the rest of a person’s life without need for subsequent surgeries to replace the batteries. This would provide a more permanent solution in patients that are in danger for ventricular fibrillation or other heart complications. It could mean the possibilities for backup energy for ventilators or life-sustaining medical devices, or it could mean new backup generators for intensive car units and hospitals that would provide 100% capacity for continued operations if electrical energy failed (or it could mean replacing electrical energy altogether).

Probably more important to people is how it can fuel their iPhone or Android smartphone. [Again, of course it’s not yet possible, and even seems silly, to power a device from nuclear energy.] But, it’s nice to dream of how this can be used for medicine.