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 Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Drkoop.com Gets Financing, New Management
"Embattled health Web site drkoop.com Inc. (NasdaqNM:KOOP - news) said on Tuesday it received $20 million in equity financing, a new management team and a reconfigured board just a day after it posted weak earnings and said it was the subject of a U.S. regulatory investigation. The $20 million financing is from a group of investors which includes Prime Ventures, JF Shea Ventures, Cramer-Rosenthal-McGlynn Inc. and RMC Capital." Read the rest of the article on Yahoo!, from Reuters. Is this the end of drkoop.com's woes? I doubt it. But talk about a management shakeout!! That's what happens when you lead a company down that path...


(Posted at 11:59:18 AM EDT.)

 Sunday, August 20, 2000

I'll be on Pure Oxygen on Wednesday
Well, although I realize very few people can actually watch this program, I will be appearing live on the television show, Pure Oxygen on this Wednesday, August 23, 2000. It's on the Oxygen network, which is available in a few cable systems across the country. If you want the Oxygen network, you can tell your cable provider. What's the show about? Well, it's a 2-hour show, but one segment will feature this new world of e-therapy.

(Posted at 08:30:22 AM EDT.)

A New, Free Internet Coloring/Activity Book is Available
A new coloring and activity book for children (grades 1-3) developed by the Caring for Every Child's Mental Health Campaign has just been released. The book is available on the Internet for free to download, just in time for "back-to-school 2000." We hope that your organization and members will find it useful. The Caring for Every Child's Mental Health Campaign is a national public education initiative sponsored by The Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services Program of the federal Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to promote good mental health in children.

The new book is available at www.mentalhealth.org/child.
(Posted at 08:26:59 AM EDT.)

 Thursday, August 17, 2000

Transmeta Files for IPO
Transmeta, the code-morphing hype-morphing software machine, has filed for a $200 mil IPO. Crazy? The filing gives the reality: "We have a history of substantial losses, and at June 30, 2000, we had an accumulated deficit of approximately $119.4 million." They need the $200 mil, or their creditors are going to start getting nervous. How can a software company run into a $119 mil debt? Do you know how much resource $119 mil buys?!??! Ouch. Will they be successful in this IPO (or in their business)? It's anyone's guess. I haven't been bowled over by the hardware running their stuff to date, but perhaps something more interesting is waiting in the wings. At least it's something different from the standard Wintel machine. Competition is always good.

(Posted at 09:07:56 PM EDT.)

 Wednesday, August 16, 2000

Court says pharmacists need not warn of side effects
"Pharmacists do not have a legal duty to warn customers of potentially adverse reactions to prescription drugs, a Texas appeals court rules last week. The decision overturns a verdict in a case involving the death of an adolescent who died after taking the antidepressant desipramine. His family sued Wal-Mart Stores Inc., charging their son's death was caused by an adverse reaction to the drug, which is not recommended for use in children." The obvious question not answered (or apparently asked by the reporter) in the article is -- where is the doctor's responsibility????! After all, doctors prescribe medications, pharmacists fill prescriptions. Why sue one half of that equation, when the doctor also should've warned (and I believe is the more proper professional to be in a position to fully undertake such a responsibility) the parents of the child? Doctors have the complete medical background of the patient; pharmacists don't.

I think this ruling is the correct one and the moral of the story is this -- ask your doctor and pharmacist for such information before taking any prescription medication. Heck, go online and read the information yourself!
(Posted at 09:20:35 PM EDT.)

Digital Freud: Online therapy brings along problems typical of cyberspace
"Online counselors and therapists increasingly are providing help to clients over the Internet, trading face-to-face voices and gestures for words on the World Wide Web. Known as Internet therapy, e-therapy or e-counseling, the practice seems to capture the essence of online communication -- anonymity, convenience and uninhibitedness -- in a therapeutic bottle." This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but you're reading it in the Houston Chronicle. Just in case you missed it... They got some names wrong (it's Martha Ainsworth, not Williamson!), but otherwise, written well enough.

(Posted at 09:15:41 PM EDT.)

Moderate-Drinking Movement Tries To Cope With Founder's Arrest
"For years, Audrey Kishline thought she and other recovering alcoholics could learn to drink responsibly. Her belief was so strong that she helped found a nationwide movement called Moderation Management, and became the movement's marquis speaker.

Friday, the Woodinville, Wash., woman is being sentenced on two counts of vehicular homicide - deaths resulting from her drunken driving. Four months ago, the 43-year-old alcoholic drove down the wrong side of Interstate 90 near Cle Elum, Wash., plowing through traffic and crashing her pickup head-on into a car driven by Richard "Danny" Davis, 38, of Yakima County. In the car with Davis was his daughter LaSchell, 12. Both were killed."

You can read the rest of the story on Intellihealth. While I've long been a supporter of alternative models to A.A. (since I don't believe "one size fits all" in terms of any treatment model), I was saddened to read this story when it first appeared months ago. I was familiar with this model of treatment, and still believe that it can work, for some people. Obviously, she wasn't one of them.
(Posted at 09:13:09 PM EDT.)

 Friday, August 11, 2000

Sharp Rise in 'Net Surfers Looking for Health Info
"Ninety-eight million Americans are now using the Internet to find information on health topics, nearly twice as many as just 2 years ago, according to results of a poll. [...] Of that total, 86% have gone online to look up information on healthcare or specific diseases, the poll found, up from 71% in 1998."

(Posted at 09:46:35 AM EDT.)

 Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Should We Put to Death Folks Who Have Mental Retardation?
Convicted fellon Oliver David Cruz's execution in Texas was unlike other recent executions in that it didn't generate the media frenzy and public outcry as say, Gary Graham's. Cruz had admitted to his crime, however his metal capacity had stirred debate about whether he was capable of understanding his actions. Salon interviews University of New Mexico law professor Jim Ellis about why there was seemingly an absence of protests over Cruz's execution, and also reveals how lobbyists were working quietly behind the public's eye. Salon weighs in with two articles:

Too slow for death row?
Oliver David Cruz failed seventh grade three times and couldn't pass the Army's entrance exam, but Texas says he's smart enough to be executed. By Alicia Montgomery.

Scales tipped against them
Advocates for the mentally retarded question the use of I.Q. tests in determining who is fit to be executed. By Carol Lloyd.


(Posted at 09:24:00 PM EDT.)

 Tuesday, August 8, 2000

This says it all

  KOOP     0.81   -0.09  
  ONHN     2.19    0.00  
  HLTH    12.44   -0.25  
  MCNS     0.91    0.00  
  IVIL     6.38   -0.38 

Ouch!!
(Posted at 09:09:40 PM EDT.)

APA is Over! Yay!!
Wow. What a conference!! Every year, I feel like the Internet side of things keeps getting better and better, from the presentations, to the questions asked by the audience. We're really moving along here, at quite a clip, and issues like online therapy got a pretty good airing this year.

(Posted at 08:29:21 PM EDT.)

 Thursday, August 3, 2000

Women abused as children show elevated hormonal responses to stress that may add to risk of adult psychiatric disorders
"Women who were sexually or physically abused as children show significantly elevated hormonal responses to stress compared to women with no history of childhood abuse, according to a study by researchers at the Emory University Conte Center for the Neuroscience of Mental Disorders. The study's findings, which appear in the Aug. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest that childhood abuse is associated with persistent sensitization or hyperactivity of the pituitary-adrenal and autonomic stress response, which in turn may contribute to greater vulnerability to psychiatric disorders in adulthood." This finding isn't surprising, but it is surprising it took this long for someone to research this issue. We've long known about people's increased sensitivity in certain situations after being exposed to a traumatic experience.

(Posted at 08:01:29 AM EDT.)

FDA Approves ADHD Drug
"The first single-dose form of the drug most widely used to treat attention deficit disorder in children won government approval Tuesday." That's a single dose per day. Still too much drugging of children done by adults these days. This isn't going to help.

(Posted at 07:45:47 AM EDT.)

Wednesday, August 2, 2000

American Psychological Association's Annual Convention
During the next week, you're likely to hear more news stories than you have all year about psychology, behavior, and mental health, as the American Psychological Association kicks off its annual convention, this year being held in its hometown of Washington, D.C. Rumors have it that attendence is at an all time low (I've heard only 5,000 pre-registered this year!). But I'll hold out hope for a good convention nonetheless and look forward to a good time!!

ISMHO is holding their annual dinner again this year, on Friday night. And there's a gala on Saturday night. What fun! :-)
(Posted at 12:43:40 PM EDT.)

Following the decline of drkoop.com
The Industry Standard has had a number of interesting articles in following drkoop.com, a former employer of mine. Their most recent is entitled, Drkoop.com: No Thanks, We'll Just Bleed. But for a pretty well-written, in-depth look at the whole drkoop.com fiasco, check out this article, The Life and Near Death of Drkoop.com, which nicely documents the numerous missteps and mistakes the company has taken since its inception.

(Posted at 12:37:35 PM EDT.)

Tuesday, August 1, 2000

Salon Thought You Should Know...
Secrets and lies: Is the astonishing rise in autism a medical mystery or a pharmaceutical shame? By Lesli Mitchell.

A recipe for disaster: While nobody knows the origin of autism, many researchers worry that linking it to childhood vaccines could be a very dangerous theory. By Arthur Allen.

Hey, who am I to deny Salon their well-written and timely articles on topics like this? Check 'em out.
(Posted at 10:47:02 PM EDT.)

Sunday, July 30, 2000

Sunday
Okay, it's Sunday already. This weekend has flown by!! I've been spending most of the day getting ready for APA, working on presentations, and gathering much-needed materials and resources together. Wow. It's a lot of work! I hope folks learn something from it all...

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

Friday, July 28, 2000

A Wet and Rainy Cape Cod
Well, the week is coming to a close and all I can say is that it has been extremely wet and rainy in Cape Cod this week. Too bad. We still had a good time but I did miss the opportunity to hang out at the beaches out here, which are quite beautiful. The American Psychological Association's annual convention is late next week, so I will be down in Washington, D.C. attending that starting Thursday. I'm starting to feel worn out by all the presenting I've been doing! I'm glad this only comes around like once a year. If you're going to APA and would like to meet, I have a few presentations I'm taking part in and would be happy to meet people then. Or just drop me an email!

(Posted at 08:35:00 AM EDT.)

Sunday, July 23, 2000

On Cape Cod
Just another day in paradise... Well, this week I'm on my annual jaunt to the Cape, for a week-long workshop at the Cape Cod Institute. As in years past, it's focused on helping mental health professionals learn about new issues facing them due to technology and specifically, the Internet. As always, I'm looking forward to it!! Two of my friends joined me this year, and we're having a splendid time in a quaint little cottage in Eastham. So far, the weather has been cooperating nicely and the accomodations are rustic and homey.

(Posted at 12:16:43 PM EDT.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Stretching the Truth?
Who am I to complain about a competitor's sleazy marketing practices? Well, I guess I'm still someone who gets offended by those who stretch the truth (as well as their tacky attempts to associate themselves with a famous celebrity). One of the competitors of the company I now work for recently made the claim, "And we've got 869 licensed professional counselors and therapists available right now." Yet an examination of their online database of professional counselors clearly shows they have less than 100 online. Can you say, "disconnect?" Maybe their marketing folks ought to be talking to their product managers!!! Something definitely ain't right over there.

(Posted at 10:28:05 AM EDT.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2000

No Offense, But We'll Pass
From the lowest-common-denominator bin, observed on a Website I recently came across, "If you are a therapist, licensed to practice social work at the independent level... and are interested in becoming an etherapist..." Nothing against social workers, let me assure you, but c'mon! This sounds like the managed care model of e-therapy, folks. Cheapest professional possible, not the best or most experienced professional possible. Watch out for these kinds of people...

(Posted at 06:39:14 PM EDT.)

Warm family environment protects aggressive children from school maladjustment and later adulthood unemployment
"A pattern of maladaptive behaviors beginning with aggression in school age children can be halted to avoid future problems in adulthood, say researchers who study the relationship between childhood aggression and the likelihood of later unemployment. Certain parenting techniques and learning prosocial behaviors have been successful in stopping aggressive children's downward spiral, according to a study appearing in the July issue of Developmental Psychology." Didn't we already know/suspect as much??

(Posted at 06:16:28 PM EDT.)

Monday, July 17, 2000

The News
BTW, I fixed the news logger this past weekend.

(Posted at 10:14:09 PM EDT.)

The Backlog
Ugh. You would not believe the backlog I've been working through. I haven't answered Website queries, regularly, for the past 2 weeks now. One week moving and one week unpacking and starting work at the office. Apologies, but the delay will likely continue as I have two conferences coming up in the next 2-3 weeks, and have to prepare for them in the midst of about 5 other things I also need to be doing. Isn't life grand? Heck, last year at this time, I was starting the major revision for the 2000/2001 edition of my book, so in some cases, this isn't so bad.

(Posted at 10:13:40 PM EDT.)

The Long, Slow Painful Death of MHN
I visited the old site I co-founded and led for over 4 years the other day, Mental Health Net. I didn't recognize the homepage, overwhelmed by graphical advertisements that wanted me to join a newsletter, buy a magazine, and register to vote! I did find this service, however, prominently displayed on the homepage. It is the most disturbing trend of advertorial I have seen on the Net for some time, and one I have argued against in past essays.

What is advertorial? It's when a site positions something as content when it is, in fact, advertising. Direct Counseling is another Website which has apparently struck some sort of business relationship with MHN. Yet it is not clear what that relationship is, although a fee-for-referral payment is common in this kinds of associations. Why isn't the MHN reader told about this? Better yet, why isn't the MHN page more clearly marked as an advertisement??

The Internet Healthcare Coalition released some ethical guidelines earlier this year MHN should take a look at. Especially under the "Candor" and "Responsible Partnering" sections...

This is just the latest of a series of painful trends I watch as my former pride and joy embarks upon a long, slow decline. Perhaps I'm being a tad over melodramatic, but when it's something you helped to create, watching it transmorgify into this... this... Ahh, you get the point!
(Posted at 09:24:38 PM EDT.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2000

News Semi-broken
Yes, I know the daily news summaries are semi-broken. I hope to fix them tonight when I get home.

(Posted at 09:06:30 AM EDT.)

Tuesday Already?
Wow. Time flies when you're having fun. My first day of work went well and I greatly enjoyed it. The trip into the city takes longer than it does out -- 1.5 hours in, 1 hour out. Yesterday I took the private bus service in; today, the train and subway combo. The train portion was better than the bus, but then I had to content with 2 different subway lines and all the hassle that entails to get from where the train dropped me off to get to work. Blah.

The main reason to avoid the auto route today was because of the Tall Ships gathering.

Max missed me yesterday, but it's just something he'll have to get used to. He's a bit spoiled now that I'm no longer home all day. Ah well.
(Posted at 08:56:08 AM EDT.)

Sunday, July 9, 2000

Settling In
Okay, I'm here, I'm unpacking, I'm trying to find a place for every piece of furniture, shelf, bookcase, chair, table, lamp, etc. What a mess! These things take time, and I guess I'll just live with the clutter for a few weeks (yes, weeks Margaret!)... Tomorrow's my first day at the office, and I'm very excited. I imagine I'll have trouble sleeping tonight.

I saw part of my family off on the train earlier this afternoon. My brother who had helped me make the 2,100 mile drive from Austin to Boston brought his family up on the train for a short vacation up here, and my mom came along for the ride. We spent some time together going to the Zoo and other sight-seeing sorts of things. It was a lot of fun and I miss them already. It's always incredibly lonely the first few weeks in a new place until I feel like it's "mine," (no matter how irrational and untrue the reality is). I went grocery shopping yesterday and felt incredibly depressed shopping in a new store where I knew where nothing was. A frustrating experience and for some reason, a grocery store in a new town makes me feel very alone. I don't know why, it just always has. Odd.

I didn't buy enough curtains; far too many windows in my new apartment and the living room is just about 4 square feet too small. But everything else is nice, and this mundacity that I am sharing with you is also "nice." Now it's time for me to hunt down dinner and try and get things ready for tomorrow's big day! (The thought still excites me, minutes later...! Part of it is because I'm taking transit into and out of the city everyday, something I've never done before on a regular basis like this.)
(Posted at 06:40:32 PM EDT.)

Wednesday, July 5, 2000

I'm Home!
Okay, so I'm all moved into my new place here in this quaint little town north of Boston. Now comes the real chore -- unpacking 10 billion boxes. Okay, maybe not exactly 10 billion, but it feels something close to it!!

(Posted at 07:51:27 PM EDT.)

Still Traveling
This is my last day of travel from Austin to Boston! Yay!!!! Check back on Thursday or Friday for further (and regular) updates. Thanks.

(Posted at 06:47:45 AM EDT.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Amazon.com
Remember a few days ago I told you to buy Amazon.com (AMZN) at 33 or 34?? It's up to 38 already today. It'll go back up to its usual trading range in a few weeks, I believe. (Note: You and only you are responsible for your own financial decisions!)

(Posted at 01:32:19 PM EDT.)

Elian Free
About freakin' time is all I have to say about this. Here's the CNN story.

(Posted at 01:30:22 PM EDT.)

Psychotherapy Making Inroads on the Internet
"As if the World Wide Web has not already seeped into nearly every aspect of our collective consciousness, now comes an enterprising group of mental health professionals using the Net to delve into our psyches. At numbers that one expert said are growing "exponentially," mental health professionals, from licensed clinical social workers to psychologists, are using the Web to augment their practices, doing everything from conducting online group therapy to offering one-on-one sessions via video cameras." This L.A. Times article is available online for a week to read. Enjoy.

(Posted at 09:50:46 AM EDT.)

APA Moving Into Internet Age... Slowly
One of the most frustrating aspects of being a member of the American Psychological Association is how little you get for your membership fee. How about I trade the "free" subscription to American Psychologist for something more useful to me, free access to PsycINFO? It's amazing in this day and age that while a huge biomedical database like Medline is absolutely free, the APA can't make their research database also free to members. (And for $50 more, it's almost an insult to make me pay for basic access! Stop being so greedy, APA!!)

The reason I'm writing about the APA member services is because I received a little postcard in the mail the other day advertising them. 90% of what they advertise are fee-based items, though. Which means being a member gets you very little in terms of online access. I was curious as to whether I could change my address or membership information through their site, so I went to check it out anyway. Needless to say, you can buy all you want on the site (woo-hoo!), but you still can't change something so simple as your address. Welcome to the Internet!
(Posted at 09:45:08 AM EDT.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Internet May Offer Right Medicine for Behavior-Related Health Issues
Esther Dyson, the guru of the high-tech world and chairwoman of ICANN, wrote this article yesterday for the L.A. Times. "While medicine itself has progressed remarkably, the Internet offers further benefits beyond the obvious ones of more efficiency, better record-keeping and better information distribution. As in other fields, it empowers the user -- it will help in disease prevention as well as in care and cure."

(Posted at 09:51:30 AM EDT.)

Monday, June 26, 2000

Dr. Joy Browne is a Good Alternative
Granted, she's a bit more boring than Dr. Laura and so has lower ratings, but her advice is less preachy and moralistic, and ultimately more helpful to her listeners. Dr. Joy Browne's (who actually is a licensed clinical psychologist) Website is here.

(Posted at 04:41:39 PM EDT.)

Dr. Laura is the One Who Needs Help
I abhor Dr. Laura. She gives advice-giving a bad name. There is, thankfully, a Stop Dr. Laura Website, that has been setup to detail the ridiculous comments and arguments Dr. Laura has made publicly about homosexuals. By the way, Laura Schlessinger has a PhD in physiology. Since most people have no idea what physiology actually is, they assume (wrongly) it has something to do with psychology, or advice-giving (because, after all, that's what she does, right??). Well, actually, no. Physiology is a branch of biology (not psychology!) that deals with the functions and activities of life or of living matter (as organs, tissues, or cells) and of the physical and chemical phenomena involved. How that qualifies an individual to sit there and spout off on the radio is beyond me.

(Posted at 04:35:52 PM EDT.)

Saturday, June 24, 2000

NEJM Editor Rails Against Pharmcos As She Leaves
"At a time when high drug prices force some Americans to choose between medicines and basic necessities, the outgoing editor of the New England Journal of Medicine attacked the pharmaceutical industry, calling for a study of price controls and urging new laws to curb certain business practices." The actual editorial is here. I can't help but be a little cynical about this sort of rant, when the editor is leaving. It seems like if it was such an important issue (and it has been a very important issue for anyone who has to pay even a part of U.S. pharmco prices for over a decade!), it's a point she would've made in her first editorial, not her last. Seems like a parting shot on her way out.

You know the folks who could change the pharmco's pricing practices in the U.S.? Managed care companies. Because if pharmcos don't do something soon, guess who's going to intervene? You got it, the U.S. Congress.
(Posted at 08:19:57 PM EDT.)

The CBS Survivor Show
If you're a fan of the CBS survivor show and would like some future guesses as to who gets booted off and the completely non-PC, non-CBS view of the show, check out SurvivorSucks.com. If you want the normal, mundane CBS-endorsed site, that's here. What a show. I'll write more about it later, but I don't find it all that dramatic. For a person to care about these people, you really have to get to know them better. I don't feel like I know them all that well. When you turn a TV camera on someone, how much are they being "real" and how much are they acting for the camera and the audience they know that's watching (as well as their Survivor teammates)??

(Posted at 12:34:02 PM EDT.)

AMZN a Great Buy!
AMZN at 33 is a great buy, notwithstanding recent analyst comments. I snapped up a few shares at this price. Amazon.com is the only online retailer which has bellweather branding and solid retail sales. This stock will rebound in no time, I believe, so get it while it's affordable. (EBAY is also down, and not a bad buy if you like them too!)

(Posted at 11:47:20 AM EDT.)

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