Saturday, November 27, 2010

Trust Me, I'm a Doctor

Kristina Ross, 36, decided that it was time to give back to the Idaho community that had given her so much over the years, so she decided to provide complimentary breast exams to several citizens. By all accounts she was as thorough as she was enthusiastic, and unlike other physicians she provided the added convenience of meeting her patients outside the office on a flexible time table. In fact, several recipients were so impressed by Ross’s professionalism and attention to detail they called her office to schedule traditional consultations.

Dr. Aussieahshowna
Unfortunately, Miss Ross was not, and had never been, a physician. Furthermore, she had given the exams to patrons of area nightclubs while identifying herself as plastic surgeon Dr. Berlyn Aussieahshowna (pronounced awe-sea-uh-show –nuh). The ruse was discovered when her “victims” called the number she gave them and were curtly informed that they had no record of a Dr. Aussieashowna. Devastated by the deception, some of her patients called the authorities and she was quickly taken into custody.

Once Miss Ross was booked and processed it became apparent that she had been in trouble with the law before, but as a man. In 2004, Mr. Ross had served time for aggravated assault before apparently undergoing gender reassignment surgery. Miss Ross is currently being held for practicing medicine without a license and prosecutors fear that Dr. Aussieashowna may have several other “patients” who have yet to come forward.

While being fondled in a nightclub must be unpleasant, I do have limited sympathy for the victims. After all, a doctor approaching random women in a nightclub and asking to inspect their breasts should be unable to locate one taker, let alone several in a single night. Some of the women have indicated that any reluctance they felt was alleviated by her use of “medical words” and the fact that she recited the phone number of a “real clinic.” Well congratulations bar patrons, your screening process concerning physicians apparently requires only memorizing a telephone number and using the word “areola” in a sentence.

The fact that such a charade could produce so many victims has undoubtedly caused emergency meetings at fraternity houses across the country where the “Its OK baby, I am pre-med” routine was dismissed as implausible. Does it seem likely that any physician (after what we can assume was a grueling 12+ hour shift) would deliberately seek out patients to offer their expertise without charging them for an office visit? A simple rule of thumb, the thin line that separates sexual assault from medical examination is usually a billing department.

Dr. Aussieahshowna’s deception is hardly unique. Just a few weeks ago in Delaware, a man walked into a Newark hospital and administered three physical exams to female patients before someone thought to ask if he even worked there. Although he lacked any credentials or identification, the man was wearing a white coat (working in the meat department at Kroger apparently has its perks) so no one bothered to question his motives. As of this writing the police have not yet made any arrests.

Perhaps the most prolific pretend doctor of the last quarter century would have to be Kentucky resident Dean Alan Willoughby, who began his illustrious career in South Carolina where he ran a fabricated university study. In the course of his groundbreaking research, Willoughby performed over two hundred invasive physical examinations on male and female patients before he was arrested. Sadly, Dr. Dean’s subsequent conviction would cost him his position as an associate pastor but did not diminish his love of practicing imaginary medicine. After serving two years of his sentence he packed his bags and headed to the bluegrass state for a fresh start.

Once there, he opened an office and began paying fifty dollars for patients to take part in his medical “research” and an extra twenty dollars for each new patient they referred. He performed countless prostate exams and hernia checks over the next decade before a lengthy investigation brought him down. He was sentenced on seventy-five counts of practicing medicine without a license and fifteen counts of sexual assault. 
He has not yet indicated whether he will open a satellite clinic inside the penal system.

So what can we learn from these stories?
  • Board-certified physicians rarely hold impromptu breast screenings in Idaho night-clubs.
  • Just because someone is in possession of a white lab coat it does not mean that they are qualified to do anything other than teach a high school chemistry class or deli slice a ham.
  • If someone named Dr. Dean asks you to remove your pants, examines your prostate and then hands you a fifty dollar bill there is a good chance that he actually works at AutoZone and you should immediately take a shower.
  • A HIPAA information sheet and a Youtube release form are not the same thing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Don't Ask , Don't Tell

The issue of homosexuals openly serving in the United States military has received a large amount of publicity as of late. Thanks to a recent Supreme Court decision, the parameters of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy have been ruled unconstitutional. Paradoxically, despite his push to repeal the act, President Obama’s White House has appealed the ruling. The reasoning is that such a policy shift is best made legislatively and not judicially. In other words, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was put in place by Congress (as are most Department of Defense directives) and should only be altered by Congress.

While morality certainly plays into the issue for several people (because they disagree with the lifestyle,) it is imperative that we remain objective as to what is constitutional to enforce. After all I may not think Satanists are moral, but that is no credible basis to prevent them from serving their country. All I ask is that you remain objective concerning policies and their impact within the sphere of military service.

Before we begin, it may be helpful to look at significant events that have shaped the current policy we have now.

                 A History of Homosexuality and the American Military
Lieutenant Frederick Gotthold Enslin is removed from the Continental Army for sodomy and perjury.
The “blue discharge” or “blue ticket” is introduced and primarily utilized to dismiss African-Americans and some homosexuals from military service. Classified as neither honorable nor dishonorable, it still denies recipients many military benefits.
“Blue discharge” is repealed and replaced with either “general” or “undesirable.”
Congressional Gold Medal winner and humanitarian Thomas Anthony Dooley III is forced to resign from the Navy for “participating in homosexual activities.”  He is later cited by John F. Kennedy as an inspiration for the Peace Corps.
The U.S. Navy releases the Crittenden Report which states that there is “no sound basis for the belief that homosexuals posed a security risk."
The Department of Defense issues directive 1332.14 which states: “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service. The presence in the military environment of persons who engage in homosexual conduct or who, by their statements, demonstrate a propensity to engage in homosexual conduct, seriously impairs the accomplishment of the military mission.” Homosexuality is views as a “disability” and gays are honorably discharged under the directive.
In Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court upheld a Georgia law criminalizing sodomy citing that the US constitution did not confer “a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy.”
D.O.D directive 1304.26 (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue) is implemented which forbids recruits from disclosing bisexual or homosexual orientation, but also forbids commanding officers from attempting to discover sexual orientation.
In Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Bowers v. Hardwick by decriminalizing consensual acts of sodomy between consenting adults regardless of sexual orientation.

The intent of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was to “identify and exclude those who are likely to engage in homosexual acts while prohibiting direct inquiries into an applicant’s sexual orientation.” It served as a compromise between those who wished to actively seek out and exclude homosexuals and those who wished to allow them to openly serve.

According to a 2003 article in the Army Times by Charles Moskos, 80% of the discharges for homosexuality since D.A.D.T are the result of voluntary statements. He speculates that one reason for this high percentage is that claiming homosexuality  “is now the quickest way out of the military with an honorable discharge” because unless the statement is made under suspicious circumstances (such as after the individual is stop-lossed or immediately before combat) such a statement would be taken at face value without generating an investigation.

It is also important to remember that the repealing of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will not fundamentally change whether or not homosexuals serve in the military, it will just allow them to embrace both lifestyles openly and concurrently. A 2010 study by UCLA estimated that there are already 66,000 lesbians, gays and bisexuals currently on active duty in the United State Military. Under current policy, these individuals would be allowed to continue serving as long as their orientation was never revealed to a commanding officer and they were never caught engaging in homosexual behavior. If the law was repealed, the substituted policy would allow these current soldiers to reveal their orientation without repercussion and allow future soldiers to be forthright at the recruitment stage without being immediately rejected.

Many point to the unique circumstances of military service, such as living in close quarters for extended durations, as creating uncomfortable situations and undermining camaraderie amongst troops. Having never been in the military it would be disingenuous of me to dismiss such concerns outright so I have only the empirical data gathered from soldiers themselves.

In 2006, a Zogby poll of 545 active military personnel (85% of whom were male and 51% of whom identified themselves as Republicans) had the following responses:

·         55% admitted that the presence of gays and lesbians is already “well-known” within their unit
·         Of those who are currently serving with gays or lesbians, 66% believed that the presence of homosexuals has had no impact on their morale.
·          Of those who are not currently serving with gays or lesbians, 58% believed that the presence of homosexuals would have a negative impact on their unit.
·         The most prevalent reason given for excluding gays and lesbians from military service was “their presence undermining the unit.”

In 2010, Military Times conducted a poll of 3,000 service members were asked whether they thought homosexuals and bisexuals should be allowed to openly serve and 51% responded no.

In the past several years, high profile military personnel have openly favored repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Colin Powell, Current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Shalikashvili are all in favor of allowing homosexuals to serve openly. In November 2008, 104 retired generals and admirals signed a petition to allow openly gay soldiers to serve.

Certainly there is still a large number within the military that oppose open homosexuality, but it is somewhat telling that the more time a heterosexual soldier spends serving with a homosexual soldier the less trepidation they have about their impact. From the surveys it appears that our fear of a negative impact far outweighs the reality of that impact.

It is also advantageous to look at how other countries have handled the issue. As of 2010, 25 nations (including Great Britain, Canada, Israel, South Africa, and Australia) allow homosexuals to openly serve in the military. Ironically, the two countries with policies closest to our own are Saudi Arabia and Iran.

I cannot, in good conscience, tell someone who is willing to selflessly die to protect my freedoms that they must first repress their own. How dare we devalue the sacrifice of a soldier because they happen to find a certain gender attractive? If we are to protect the rights of a splinter religious group to obscenely taint the memorial services for a fallen hero, how can we tell the young men and women we send into combat that they are unfit for their calling if they value honesty over deception? All Americans soldiers, regardless of color, creed, religion, or sexual orientation deserve our gratitude and respect. Let’s give it to them.   

Saturday, November 20, 2010

One Woman, One Dream, One Thousand Pounds

Donna performing gastrointestinal warm-ups
New Jersey resident Donna Simpson has a dream, while others have squandered their fleeting existence by developing childhood vaccines or attempting to eradicate the scourge of cancer, she has never fallen prey to such asinine distractions. Her quest, if completed, will earn her a place in the history books and likely have a dramatic impact on the third quarter earnings of McDonalds. That is because Miss Donna Simpson has vowed not to stop consuming food until she has become the “fattest woman alive.” Her target weight is 1,000 pounds of artery-clogging-heart-palpitating-pancreas-decimating land monster.

Surpassing the curb weight of a 2008 Honda Goldwing is certainly no pipe dream. As of a few months ago Donna tipped the scales at 630lbs and recently was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records as the heaviest woman to ever give birth. It took a team of thirty physicians (rumor has it that three doctors administered intravenous gravy) to perform the caesarian section that brought her daughter, Jacqueline, into the world.

While Donna constantly struggled with obesity as a child, she was able to get her weight down to 150lbs during her teenage years through a combination of diet, exercise, and some festively-tinted diet pills which have undoubtedly been recalled by the FDA. It was during this time that she met her first husband, who was gainfully employed as the chef at a steak house.

She recalls, in Lipitor-prescribing detail, how her new beau would return from work bearing “huge piles of steak, mashed potatoes, and gravy with butter” that they would gorge themselves on until the small hours of the night. She fondly recalls that initial weight gain and the self-esteem boost it provided, “He said I was sexier when I was bigger, and I felt happier too.”

After their relationship ended, she met 150-pound Philippe on a plus-sized dating website. He later sired the daughter that would put Donna in the record books and wholeheartedly supports his girlfriend’s mission to outweigh the entire U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team. Simpson sheepishly admits that Philippe is “a real belly man” and would “like it if I was bigger.”

So with the support of her current squeeze, pre-teen daughter, and the stockholders of Frito-Lay, she consistently consumes in excess of 12,000 calories each day and purposefully moves as little as possible. To maintain this unparalleled intake of sustenance, Donna spends roughly $750 a week ($39,000 a year) on food.  
While a lesser woman would have turned to government subsidies to supplement her income, Donna has created her own website where hundreds of men pay a subscription fee to access videos of her eating while baring her stomach (take that, Internet porn). Many of these male admirers shower her with culinary gifts, such as high-calorie protein shakes, to expedite her weight gain.

Although the 43-year-old has difficulty showering, cooking, and identifying her kneecaps, she insists that she has never been happier. To the critics of her lifestyle, many of whom send her hate mail, she insists that she makes people happy and isn’t hurting anyone. She hopes that her story will inspire others and lead to the acceptance of overweight women worldwide.

While I agree that society as a whole tends to be somewhat prejudiced toward the obese, I am not sure that a woman who can break a sweat dismounting her double-reinforced mobility scooter is going to open any new doors. There is a distinct line between being comfortable with your body and deliberately gorging yourself for publicity / Internet revenue and Donna lumbered over it years ago.

Conversely, it is still her God-given right as an American to biggie-size her way to a circulatory-system meltdown if she so chooses. I salute her resourcefulness and as long as the taxpayers are not footing the bill for her caloric indulgences, I see no reason to send her hate mail. Let the woman live in peace until the day when the roll is called up yonder and the industrial-sized gravy boat comes to ferry her home.