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Book: Lights on a Ground of Darkness

November 20, 2009 | Books,Iowa,Nebraska

I just finished reading Lights on a Ground of Darkness by Ted Kooser. Have you ever read Kooser, the 13th Poet Laureate of the United States? Oh, you must. You must!

Posted by Becky @ 11:41 pm | Comments  

Mammogram guidelines

November 19, 2009 | Benefits,Breast cancer,Death,Economics,Ethics,Health,Medical,MSM,Politics,PR,Research,Statistics,U.S. government

Women should now get mammograms starting at age 50, not 40.

Who says?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. It recently published its recommendations in the Nov. 17, 2009, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, published 24 times a year by the American College of Physicians.

Who is the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force?

It’s a panel of 16 people from the medical community and 14 “evidence-based practice centers,” which includes medical-research universities and institutions and — at the top of the list — Blue Cross Blue Shield.

(Blue Cross Blue Shield started a site called Get Health Reform Right earlier this year to express the insurance industry’s wishes regarding health-care reform, such as, “Creating a new government plan would cause the employer-provided health insurance system that 160 million Americans rely on today to unravel.”)

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius released a statement Nov. 18, saying, “I would be very surprised if any private insurance company changed its mammography coverage decisions as a result of this action.” Anyone who says the task force doesn’t influence what private insurance companies do regarding mammograms needs to read the task force’s Web site, which explains that one of its goals is to inform and develop coverage decisions.

The EPCs review all relevant scientific literature on clinical, behavioral, and organization and financing topics to produce evidence reports and technology assessments. These reports are used for informing and developing coverage decisions, quality measures, educational materials and tools, guidelines, and research agendas. The EPCs also conduct research on methodology of systematic reviews. [Emphasis added is mine.]

Besides, where do they think the current mammogram guidelines come from?

To come up with this most recent recommendation, the task force looked at research done in China and Russia.

The research in China (“Randomized Trial of Breast Self-Examination in Shanghai: Final Results,” published Oct. 2, 2002, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Oxford University Press) found that “the efficacy of breast self-examination for decreasing breast cancer mortality is unproven,” based on 266 breast-cancer deaths (135 in the main group and 131 in the control group) over 10 years. The study was conducted from October 1989 to October 1991, and women were followed through December 2000. The task force apparently took the difference of only four breast-cancer deaths to show that breast self-examination plays no part in saving women’s lives from breast cancer.

However, the authors of that study also said, “This was a trial of the teaching of BSE, not the practice of BSE.” They went on to say:

It should not be inferred from the results of this study that there would be no reduction in risk of dying from breast cancer if women practiced BSE competently and frequently. It is possible that highly motivated women could be taught to detect cancers that develop between regular screenings, and that the diligent practice of BSE would enhance the benefit of a screening program.

Yet, the task force recommends that physicians stop teaching patients how to do breast self-examinations.

The articles about the research in Russia are all published in Russian. Unless someone on the task force can read and understand Russian, or unless the task force had the articles translated, it’s fair to say that nobody on the task force read anything other than abstracts on Medline, which provide incredibly limited information, except for dates of publication.

Others weigh in

Posted by Becky @ 7:53 pm | 5 Comments  

These old eyes have seen it all, now the hands of time are writing on the wall

November 18, 2009 | Music

I saw Taylor Swift on Saturday Night Live the other night. While she played her guitar and sang, I thought, ah, to be 19 again. How exciting things must be for her right now. Typical thoughts of someone old enough to be her mother, I suppose. But, wow. She’s getting hit from all sides these days.

Really? What happened to dignity?

I’m not sure what kind of problems West has, but a 32-year-old man stealing the thunder from a 19-year-old? Shame on you, Kanye.

Wynonna? Since when did you decide what’s best for someone else? Come on. You were in your teens when you started out. You “drove your car” the first year you were out? Swift delivered demo tapes to producers her first year out … when she was 11. Yes, you “apologized” later, but you know what? Instead of smelling like desperation, you really should have acted like the older professional you are and shared some encouraging words with the next, great, young talent. Shame on you, Wynonna.

Let me just get this out of the way. Mr. Jones, it’s amazing that you’re still walking the earth, considering all you’ve been through in your almost 80 years, and I’m glad you are. You’re a legend. The end. Amen. However … you really should pick on somebody your own size. Shame on you, George.

Y’all? Just because you have an opinion, doesn’t mean you have to express it out loud, whether you’re on the record or off. (I’m looking at you, too, Mr. President.) Silence really can be golden. Or at least it can save you from making an a$$ out of yourself. Just saying.

Posted by Becky @ 8:35 pm | 7 Comments  

Books: Zillah’s Gift

November 14, 2009 | Books,Iowa

I just finished reading Zillah’s Gift by Lois West Duffy. It’s in the 9-12 age category, but it’s a great read about an orphan girl in ancient Persia, who experiences an adventurous journey that involves kings, bandits, shepherds and a precious gift.

I got to meet the author last week, and it was fun hearing her tell the stories behind the book.

Posted by Becky @ 9:09 pm | 2 Comments  

Every day SHE WRITES the book

November 13, 2009 | Books

Look! Books by women!

I went to Bookadee, my local bookstore, today. I was inspired by Gloria Feldt, who planned to buy 13 books on Friday the 13th for the She Writes Call to Action. Kamy Wicoff, founder and CEO of She Writes, put out a call to action to protest Publishers Weekly all-male Top 10 of its “Best Books of 2009 List.”

So I bought 11 books today and two others just recently, Zillah’s Gift by Lois West Duffy and Bellbina, Queen of Weed Park by Laura Juszczyk, which brings me to 13 on Friday the 13th.

Thank you, Tora, for all your help!

Here are some books I read in 2009 and before.

Posted by Becky @ 11:55 am | 7 Comments  

Outside’s the rain, the driving snow, I can hear the wild wind blowing


Here’s half the snow fence. The other half to come … before the snow, I hope.

Posted by Becky @ 6:00 am | Comments  

Everything is dust in the wind

November 12, 2009 | Iowa

Tractors and combines kick up lots of dust these days.

Posted by Becky @ 6:00 am | 5 Comments  

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

November 11, 2009 | Holidays,Veterans Day

Posted by Becky @ 6:00 am | 1 Comment  

Books: The Night Listener

November 8, 2009 | Books

I just finished reading The Night Listener: A Novel by Armistead Maupin. I feel sort of like a chump after reading it but not as gullible as Gabriel Noone (and, one might guess — Maupin). No, I felt chumpy because if I’d heard the true story, I’d forgotten it. The book is almost 10 years old. Gah. (It’s got a “bargain priced” sticker on it so who knows when or where I got it.) I know who Maupin is, but I’d never read any of his work. I’m not sure why I chose to read it now, but it’s the second book almost in a row to make me think, gee, are *all* the people in Wisconsin crazy? Which made me hesitate when I saw this book yesterday:

Except for the Oprah sticker on front, it looked terribly inviting. What I read on the book jacket made it sound like a wonderful story … except the thing about Wisconsin. Nah, I thought. I think I need to stop with the crazy cheeseheads for a while. But then the bookstore owner unintentionally talked me into it by telling me how much she liked it. So, I’ll read it soon.

In the meantime, I’m reading this.

I got to meet the author yesterday. More on that when I’m done reading.

But … back to Maupin. He’s such a helpless romantic, and that annoys me. But I can mostly forgive that because of his stories (especially the bejewelled elephants) and the way he tells them. His Gabriel Noone wanted to get the story right. And he did. Just not in the way he intended.

Posted by Becky @ 10:09 pm | 2 Comments  

Books: The Girl who Played with Fire

November 3, 2009 | Books,Stieg Larsson

I just finished reading The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson. Oh, my. That was fantastic. Most delightful was a bombshell near the end. I love it when an author can surprise me like that. I read his first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and enjoyed it. (I’ve heard the Swedish film is awesome. I’d love to watch it but don’t want to pay $50 for it. Hmm. Maybe I can put it on my Christmas wish list from Norway?) After the second book? I can’t wait for the third and final book, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. It’s due to be published May 25, 2010.

Posted by Becky @ 6:00 am | Comments  


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