Friday, March 31, 2006

god dammit

No benefit of prayer found after surgery

Some question science of heart patient study

WASHINGTON -- Praying for other people to recover from an illness is ineffective, according to the largest, best-designed study to try to examine the power of prayer to heal strangers at a distance.

The study of more than 1,800 heart bypass surgery patients found that those who had other people praying for them had as many complications as those who did not. In fact, one group of patients who knew they were the subject of prayers fared worse.

The long-awaited results, the latest in a series of studies that have failed to find any benefit from ''distant" or ''intercessory" prayer, came as a blow to the hopes of some that scientific research would validate the popular notion that people can influence the health of people even if they don't know someone is praying for them.

The researchers cautioned that the study was not designed to test the existence of God or the benefit of other types of prayer, such as praying for oneself or at bedsides of friends or relatives. They also did not rule out that other types of distant prayer may be effective for other types of patients.

''No one single study is ever going to provide an answer," said Jeffery Dusek of Harvard Medical School, who helped lead the study being published in the April 4 issue of the American Heart Journal.

While many studies have suggested that praying for oneself may reduce stress, research into praying for others who may not even know they are the subject of prayers has been much more controversial. Several studies that claimed to show a benefit have been criticized as deeply flawed. And several of the most recent findings have found no benefit.

The new $2.4 million study, funded primarily by the John Templeton Foundation, was designed to overcome some of those shortcomings. Dusek and his colleagues divided 1,802 bypass patients at six hospitals into three groups. Two groups were uncertain whether they would be the subject of prayers. The third was told they would be prayed for.

The researchers recruited two Catholic groups and one Protestant group to pray ''for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications" for 14 days for each patient, beginning the night before the surgery, using the patient's first name and the first initial of the last name.

Over the next month, patients in the two groups that were uncertain whether they were the subject of prayers fared virtually the same, with about 52 percent experiencing complications regardless of whether they were the subject of prayers.

Surprisingly, however, 59 percent of the patients who knew they were the targets of prayer experienced complications.

Because the most common complication was an irregular heartbeat, the researchers speculated that knowing they were chosen to receive prayers may have put them under increased stress.

''Did the patients think, 'I am so sick they had to call in the prayer team?' " said Charles Bethea of the Integris Heart Hospital at Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, who helped conduct the study.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

a wonderful site

Sorry I haven't been on lately, but there really was noting I wanted to share. Below, however, is an amazing cartoon /ad for Evian water.


Friday, March 03, 2006

unbelievable, unintentional bad website name

These are actual websites where the people registering their sites did not think them out too well:

1) Who Represents?, a database for agencies to the rich and famous:

2) Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange
advice and views:

3) Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island:

4) Need a therapist?

5) Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales:

6) Gas central heating anyone?

7) New to Milan and you need electric light? Why not sign up on-line with

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bob Dylan

I've been listening to Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, arguably the greatest rock album ever made, and I really got what all the fuss about Dylan is. For my generation, Dylan completely captured the mood and tenor of the times. Sex, drugs, suspicion of authority, alienation, that is what we we're feeling back then. When you take LSD and see how weird things can be, and then you "come down," you get that "normal" is just another kind of weirdness. In "normal" you have absurd wars (Viet Nam, of course), intolerance (remember this was the flowering of the civil rights movement, religious and cultural holocausts, and so on, and Dylan somehow perfectly captured all of that. Like a lot of great poetry, his lyrics almost make sense, but not quite, and then suddenly, they make perfect sense. The times we were living in back then almost made sense, but not quite, and now with the perfect vision of hindsight, we know that in fact, they made a lot less sense than we had any idea. I assume that in 30 years, we'll look back on today, those of us that are still around, and wonder where was the new Dylan when we needed him. 'Cause things still don't make sense, we still have absurd wars, we still have religious adn racial intolerance, and the weirdness doesn't go away, even as contentment comes.
And Dylan could sure turn a phrase: "balances on her head like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine." Or: "Sometimes I wonder if I'm too good for you or if you're too good for me"

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Jewish plays

Some friends of ours invited us to a play at the main stage in Atlanta, and when I found out it was about a Jewish boy who meets a shickse (sp?) who then finds out that she's actually really Jewish, and my first reaction was Ohmygod, do I not want to see this play, and I was trying to figure out why and what I realized that "minority" plays tend to get their laughs not from actual humor, but just the pleasure of recognition. For example, you know there are going to be a lot of Jews in the audience, and I can promise you that one of the characters is going to say "oy gevalt," which roughly translates to "oh shit" and a lot of people are going to laugh, even 'though it's not funny. I once went to see a terrible play in New York, one that got great reviews from the New York critics and all the humor was based upon how much you knew about New York. Like comments about the D train and such seemed to get great laughs from the NY crowd, even 'though they weren't funny either. Of course, Jewish plays about New York are jus deadly. It's just cheap laughs to me.

great underwater pictures

Click on the link below and then look for the third article in the center column labeled "in pictures."

By the way, if you don't know the BBC web site, and you like news, it's a good site.