Weekend update and roundup

Copyright NBCThe Wonkette, which a snarky fun place to catch up on the news, has a recurring feature call the Derp Roundup where they cover several strange or stupid news items that were two small or unimportant to merit a full post of their own, but still too WTF-worthy to completely ignore.

Which isn’t what this post is.

Well, it’s partly what this post is, but oh, it’s so complicated!

First, I completely missed this news item or I would have included it in Friday links: Tea Partiers Ignore Michele Bachmann’s Call for Rally Against “Amnesty” — The news site whose link led me to this summarized it: “Congresswoman Crazy Eyes’ rallies tens of angry people to anti-immigration rally.” Bachmann only has a few weeks left as a member of the House of Representatives, and it’s clear she hoped this would be more like that last time she went on FauxFox News and begged people to attend a protest when the Koch Brothers paid to bus a lot of people in and created some nice photo ops. Given all the hateful things she’s said about gay people, trans* people, and so forth, I can’t bring myself to feel one bit sorry for her.

In even better news, 10th Circuit Slaps Down State Of Kansas On Marriage. The quick sum-up: Federal judge found Kansas’ ban on marriage equality unconstitutional, a three-judge panel from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals uphold the finding, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant a stay of the ruling. Gov. Brownback has fought tooth and nail to resist the ruling. His latest try was to ask the 10th Circuit to do an en banc review, this is where every judge serving on the 10th re-hears the appeal. How the circuit decides to grant such a review is a little complicated. All of the active judges are given an opportunity to call for a vote as to whether to rehear the case. If at least one judge calls for a vote, the judges have a discussion on the merits, and then they vote. If a majority of the judges think the case should be reheard, then the previous ruling is vacated and they set a date where all of the active judges (plus certain retired judges and visiting judges) convene and the case is re-argued, and then that group of judges issues the ruling. Normally a Circuit Court then simply announces that either they will hear the appeal, or they won’t. In this case the court took the unusual step of announcing that not only wouldn’t they hear the case, that not one single judge out of the entire court felt it was worth holding a vote to hear the case. It’s too bad that Brownback can’t see the writing on the wall.

In much more personal news, for some reason this winter I’ve been having a lot of gout flare-ups. And sometimes the foot pain is so bad, I can’t even walk from one room to the other with a cane. Yep, some times I was crawling to the bathroom. I’ve been having gout ever since I switched to a lower-carb and lower-fat diet more than a decade ago when I showed symptoms of being pre-diabetic. Given the family history of the disease—that I know of, every male descendant of my Great-grandpa B has developed adult onset diabetes by their mid-forties—I took the diagnosis seriously and have stuck to the diet. A frequent side effect for people on low-carb type diets is to start having gout attacks. Anyway, I haven’t consulted with my doctor about the gout in depth for years because my treatment regime (8-10 glasses of water a day, 2+ glasses cherry juice a day, apply heat, use a cane to help keep weight off the swollen joint) usually makes the gout go away after only two or three days.

But the November attack lasted almost two full weeks. And this last one is just reaching the almost-over stage on day seven. So, yesterday my doctor and I discussed it at length. He’s prescribed a medication that should make this attack end, and a longer-term med that should make attacks happen less frequently. The former medication has a very weird and interesting history.

The oldest records we have of the herb from which the medicine is derived being prescribed by a doctor for gout comes from about 100 BC. But that’s not the oldest use of the medication. In 1500 BC an Egyptian medical papyrus gives dosage instructions for treating rheumatism. In fact, the herb was used by doctors from the Middle East and Europe throughout all of that time to treat gout (among other things), until 1820 when a British chemist isolated the active ingredient from the herb and patented the process for its extraction. So it’s been used for thousands of years, and we have a lot of documentation of its effectiveness from all of that time. So, the medication was very cheap to manufacture using the out-of-patent process developed in the 19th Century, and was being used safely and effectively.

Until a pharmaceutical company came to the FDA with a proposal to perform modern clinical trials to verify that it is safe and effective, in exchange for an exclusive license to manufacture the drug. And the process included a $42 million dollar payment to the FDA for the certification, of course the FDA said “yes.” Despite editorials and white papers from scores of doctors pointing out that the National Institutes of Health could conduct the necessary studies far more cheaply than the company was claiming, and that if NIH did it the results could be a certification for the existing drug which cost less than a dime per pill. So now, to buy it, the retail price is nearly $5 per pill.

The really interesting thing I learned was from the pharmacist. Like many drugs, some of the potential side effects are nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. But the pharmacist pointed out that in other drugs, if you get to the point of vomiting, that usually means seek medical care, not necessarily with this one. “Back in the ’50s, the prescribing regime was to give you two pills, initially, then one pill an hour until you vomited. From then on, you daily dose was one pill less than the number that made you vomit. We don’t do that any more, of course, but the point is, during the first few days don’t let any gastro-intestinal symptoms scare you.”

I’ll try not to panic. So, far, I haven’t had any trouble.

In personal and amusing news, my Aunt Silly quit Facebook a while back after nagging everyone incessantly about why they weren’t using it or why they weren’t posting more. She quit because someone she knew had been tracked down through Facebook by an abusive ex- and harassed and eventually assaulted. So she quit, and couldn’t stop talking about how evil and dangerous it was. Some months later she re-joined with a new account, contacted and friended all of the relatives she’d friended before, and uploaded a ton of pictures of her dog. She told Mom (who has steadfastly refused to join Facebook) that she had joined anonymously, and that no one who she didn’t tell would know who she was. When Mom told me this, I died laughing. Besides the fact that she friended all of her children, for instance, and using Facebook’s family feature, identified her relationship with them, which completely destroys any anonymity, the most hilarious part is this: the only difference in the profile of her defunct account and the new “secret” account is that instead of listing her first name as Mae, it lists her as Mazie. She still has her legal last name, and lists her current town as residence, et cetera, et cetera.

But that’s not the new news. She’s pinging me a lot this week about the Amazon wish lists again. Now, I’m trying not to be a jerk about the fact that I have already given her the links to my list and my husband’s list every year for at least a decade or that I’ve checked and it is really easy to find both our lists if you know our legal names and the city we live in. I sent her the links. I have confirmed that they are up-to-date. She’s been following up with all of these astounded messages about how much stuff there is to choose from on Amazon. “Did you know they have…” has been part of so many text messages from her.

And I keep thinking, “You’ve been looking at my Amazon wish lists for years, and I know you’ve actually looked, because you always comment about how you don’t recognize most of the items on the list, and you don’t know how you could possibly find them at the stores you shop at locally, and that you’re always amazed at the weird collection of things in my list. But you never made the connection that this meant Amazon has a lot of different merchandise?”

Oh, and it’s a good thing I’m better at searches than she is, because she keeps forgetting to send me an actual link to the list… which unlike her Facebook account, doesn’t have a last name or city listed.

And don’t get me started on her taste in books…

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