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 Thursday, June 8, 2000

Study: crime, lack of PE, recreation programs lead U.S. adolescents to couch-potato lifestyles
"Lack of access to school physical education programs and community recreation centers significantly decreases the chance that U.S. adolescents will be physically active, a major new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study shows. Living in high-crime neighborhoods also cuts the likelihood of vigorous activity and boosts television and video watching and video- and computer-game playing, pastimes that contribute to obesity and eventual poor health, the study found. Adolescents whose families enjoy higher incomes and whose mothers are better educated tend to be more physically active than others are." Aren't the answers obvious by now?!??

(Posted at 10:12:17 AM EDT.)

Women medical school faculty perceive gender bias, sexual harassment
Proving that we still have a long way to go... "Many women teaching at medical schools perceive that they are discriminated against and sexually harassed, according to a study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Boston University School of Medicine. Men seem to be relatively unaware of the problems and much less affected by them. The study, published in the June 6 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, found that female faculty were more than two and a half times likely to perceive gender discrimination in their work environment: 77 percent of women vs. 30 percent of men. And more than half the women reported that gender bias had hindered their professional advancement, compared with 9 percent of men."

(Posted at 10:10:23 AM EDT.)

Nurses, alert janitors boost seniors' mental health
"In the case of older adults with psychiatric problems, a four-year Johns Hopkins study has shown that a program combining observations by janitors, building managers and others who frequently see elderly people and the skills of a highly accessible psychiatric nurse can significantly increase seniors' mental health and stability. The research, reported in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, highlights the first large-scale, low-cost, medically successful approach to the dilemma that elderly people on their own are far less likely to be diagnosed or treated for mental illness than younger adults, according to psychiatrist Peter Rabins, M.D., who directed the study." Apparently anyone can be taught to recognize the signs and symptoms of a mental disorder; no surprise there, since it's just a matter of going down a checklist. It requires no special talent.

(Posted at 10:06:28 AM EDT.)

I found a tape recorder yesterday. Mission impossible accomplished!
(Posted at 09:48:14 AM EDT.)

Yay About Microsoft
I am happy that the judge wants to break up Microsoft. They were found guilty, and this would be a small price for them to pay. Microsoft claims its ability to "innovate" will somehow be restricted by dividing the company into an OS company and an applications company. It is an argument that makes no sense. There are thousands of software companies which write software for Microsoft's OS, without the unfettered access Microsoft's applications group has to its OS group. They do quite well, thank you. I guess Microsoft is arguing that it needs that access to ensure competitors are locked out of their market, as the infamouse DR-DOS case showed (it was eventually settled out of court). Slashdot readers have quite a bit to say about this issue, naturally.

Break 'em up. They're arrogant, they've stifled innovation and run their competitors out of business (Is Netscape still an independent company?? Is Lotus??). Millions of consumers will rejoice.
(Posted at 09:47:35 AM EDT.)

 Wednesday, June 7, 2000

My Kingdom for a Tape Recorder!
So I agreed to make a tape for a friend, but then my tape recorder conked out on me and here I am in the middle of packing and can't find my little portable one from grad school days. Argh! I think I know where to look in next, tho...

(Posted at 09:50:02 AM EDT.)

 Monday, June 5, 2000

Unfortunately, They Got Some of It Wrong
Yes, I love promoting things and then going to read them to make sure they're accurate. I actually contributed to this brochure, too, so it's all the more disenchanting...

The APA's discussion of cookies confuses multiple issues. This whole statement is just plain wrong:

For example, they can record any keywords you may have used in the search function, the particular pages you browsed, the amount of time you spent on each page, time of day you visited the page, etc. Keep in mind that there are some cookies that can track where you have been on a particular site and some Web sites that can look at all of the cookies on your computer and know everywhere you have been on the Web.

First, cookies aren't needed to do all of those things. I can do all of those things quite easily with a Web server's standard access logs, things which Web server software has been keeping on every visitor visiting their site for that day. This technology has been available since the very first Web servers and has nothing to do with cookies. Turn off your cookies and I can still track your keywords used, the amount of time you spent browsing pages, which pages you browsed, etc. None of that has to do with cookies.

Cookie technology, by design, does not allow other Websites to view a cookie set by any other Website. Only the Website which sets the cookie can read it from your computer. There have been reports of a security hole in a particular brand and version of browser where an exploit can be made to look at any cookie, but no legitimate Website uses this technology. There is also the issue of large advertising brokers, such as Doubleclick, which use virtual frames (known technically as "inline frames") to serve ads and track users across multiple Websites (which use Doubleclick technology; generally only very large sites). Yet Doubleclick has a well-advertised opt out option which you can use to deactivate this ability.

Should I go on.......?
(Posted at 10:36:57 PM EDT.)

APA's dotcomsense
Being the willing media whore I am, I thought I'd pass this along to you, straight from the American Psychological Association's mouth. "The American Psychological Association's (APA) new Web site, dotCOMSENSE, located at The resource provides visitors with help in assessing online mental health resources and making health-related privacy decisions on the Net -- from sharing personal information to understanding cookies."

(Posted at 10:28:50 PM EDT.)

How Come No One Provides a Nice Comprehensive Online Directory?
I've been looking for an online directory of clinicians and guess what...? Nothing very large exists yet today. I started creating one at Mental Health Net while I was there, but it never got above 2,000 clinicians, which isn't 1% of the professionals who provide mental health services (making it virtually useless). They're all like that, though, as I've found out. Most simply don't have very many clinicians in them. Bummer. If you know of a larger one, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

(Posted at 10:27:02 PM EDT.)

 Friday, June 2, 2000

e-therapy News
In the past week, Wired News has had two articles on this burgeoning market. The first article leads off with the line, "All this talk about going online to solve your problems may turn out to be bad advice, a new study says." Unfortunately, the survey mentioned in the article is about advice-giving services, not psychotherapy. Any first-year graduate student will tell you they are two very different things. (If all therapists did was give advice, then why not just ask a friend!??) An article earlier this week noted that "Online Therapy Isn't Shrinking." The best quote in the article comes from Nagy, who is often quoted as the industry standard's naysayer when it comes to online therapy.

"There's no training or research in Internet therapy, and there's no definition of what it is," he said.

He said face-to-face counseling, or at least telephonic therapy, is always superior to online therapy.

Let me point out the obvious paradox, if I may. If there's no research out there about online therapy (which is incorrect and a half-truth), then how can one make claims about superiority and inferiority?!? Duh! Please, if you're going to say something, at least say something which has internal consistency and logic.

He goes on to say,

"With words on a screen you have such a narrow bandwidth of emotional overtones," he said. "I would always argue for telephone consultation instead of email therapy. I think there's so much more information available, you can at least tell something about (a patient's) emotional tone."

So what the hell have been mutual self-help support groups been doing online since the late 1980s?!? Exchanging pleasantries everyday or sometimes talking about and sharing very deep, emotional issues? I find it ludicrous when someone disclaims what is going on out there, and has been going on out there for over a decade. Now if mutual self-help support groups online can get to deep emotional content, imagine what a trained psychotherapist might be able to do with this modality. Quite a lot, I would think.
(Posted at 01:09:55 PM EDT.)

"Of Two Minds" By T.M. Luhrmann
A book review of interest on as well... A subtle study of the conflict between talk-oriented and drug-oriented psychotherapy -- and a frightening demonstration of how medical budget cutters are betraying the mentally ill and putting the rest of us at risk.

(Posted at 01:00:45 PM EDT.)

Who will care for the crazy? wanted me to pass along this story to you, which I also found interesting... She was 18 and had been found hanging by a noose. But the moment I saw her insurer, I knew she was one of the lucky ones. First of two parts.

(Posted at 01:00:01 PM EDT.)

Life Changes
Well, I decided to forgo consulting for the time being and join another Internet startup, You can read the announcement about my joining them, if you'd like. More details inside.

(Posted at 12:06:24 PM EDT.)

 Tuesday, May 30, 2000

Study suggests many e-mail users cut long-distance calls
"A study of 309 personal e-mail users in Ohio found that nearly half say they make fewer long-distance telephone calls since they've gone online." Another benefit of the online world.

(Posted at 09:20:46 AM EDT.)

Intelligence more than IQ test scores, study says
"To improve a child's likelihood of succeeding at school, educators need a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the IQ test, says a University of Toronto psychiatry professor." Umm, yes, we already knew this. But thank you!

(Posted at 08:07:01 AM EDT.)

Job strain as important as smoking and lifestyle on ill health
"Women in jobs with high demands, low control and low social support are at the greatest risk of ill health according to a paper in this week's BMJ. [...] The results show that women in the highest third of job demands and the lowest third of job control (high strain job) had the worst health status, whereas those in jobs with the highest control and lowest demands (low strain job) had the best health status. A lower level of social support also contributed to a decline in health."

(Posted at 08:02:23 AM EDT.)

Rat Research
And you thought we had moved beyond studying rat behaviors in the lab! Apparently, not so. This study about a rat's suckling behavior from an APA journal shows that rat research is indeed alive and well. Eww.

(Posted at 08:00:32 AM EDT.)

Time to Move Again...
Well, it's that time again... time to move. Hence the reason the weblog has been quite empty this past week. I've been looking for a new place to live, which takes a lot of time and a lot of work. What a pain! I was reading in the newspaper a few weeks ago where the average American moves 11 times in their lives. I'm not quite up to 11, but sometimes it feels like it! Mr. Nomad Renter, that's me!! I'll write more details later in the week about this.

(Posted at 07:56:51 AM EDT.)

 Wednesday, May 24, 2000

Hey Hey I'm Free Again
Just so you know, I've left my position at the Internet startup,, to pursue some independent work at this time. FYI. More news to follow as time allows.

(Posted at 01:05:31 PM EDT.)

 Sunday, May 21, 2000

Behavior therapy and medications significantly better for depressed patients than either approach used alone
"Depressed patients who received an effective anti-depressant, combined with psychotherapy, experienced significant improvement over patients who received the anti-depressant or the psychotherapy alone, according to a study published in the May 18 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine." Yet another take on the depression study results, also discussed below.

(Posted at 08:15:03 PM EDT.)

Web medicine: The new 'apple a day'?
"The Internet has the potential to dramatically affect the way medicine is practiced in this country, but surfing the Web is not going to replace a visit to the doctor's office any time soon." Really??! Well, Tom Ferguson, M.D., has published an article about Type 1 and Type 2 provider/patient relationships which strongly supports just the opposite conclusion.

(Posted at 08:13:32 PM EDT.)

SmithKline Beecham's landmark Parkinson's disease study provides new hope for patients
"Early treatment with ReQuip® (ropinirole hydrochloride), SmithKline Beecham's new drug for Parkinson's disease (PD), significantly reduces the risk of levodopa (L-dopa)-induced dyskinesia according to the multinational landmark 5-year study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The results of the study clearly position ReQuip® as a first-line treatment option."

(Posted at 08:10:49 PM EDT.)

Here's another take on the same study.
(Posted at 08:09:13 PM EDT.)

Drug-psychotherapy combo found highly effective in depression study
"The prescription drug Serzone, combined with psychotherapy designed specifically for chronic depression, produced an 85-percent response rate among 681 patients under treatment for chronic forms of major depression. The study appears in the current New England Journal of Medicine." Remember, it's the combination of both psychotherapy and medication which works best.

(Posted at 08:07:55 PM EDT.)

Did You Know that Katz Died?
Phil Katz, the inventor of the popular zip compression program used by millions to help exchange files across the wires, was found dead in his apartment April 14, due to complications from alcoholism. Most people who are not "in" the tech world didn't hear this news, but it's noteworthy to note his passing because of the popularity of the compression format he created.

(Posted at 08:03:00 PM EDT.)

 Saturday, May 20, 2000 Lays of 35% of Workforce
I couldn't let the week go by without mentioning this bit of news from the world of e-healthcare. laid off a good chunk of its workforce on Thursday, including one of my friends who still worked there, and two of the greatest online community folks I know, the Woodwards. It hit everyone hard, but especially these folks, all of which were longtime employees (2+ years). Nobody had any advanced warning, of course, and my poor friend, he was just trying to quit smoking (naturally, that didn't happen). Is this the beginning of the end for drkoop? Well, some analysts believe they're getting leaner for the inevitable merger or buy-out. The latest rumor on the Street earlier this week was a talk of embattled and drkoop merging their online operations. If that were to happen, we would hear about it within the next month.

(Posted at 09:15:40 AM EDT.)

Okay folks, sorry, but between work and the server move, I've been pretty busy with very mundane sorts of life issues and have been negligent in updating this. My apologies. I should be able to get back into the swing of things for this week. I certainly appreciate everyone's patience and the help I've received in finding bugs as a result of the server move. Nearly every outstanding issue is fixed; there's just one or two minor things needing attention.

(Posted at 09:10:03 AM EDT.)


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