Listen to Dr. Wes Ely, MD on Talk Radio Europe Discuss His Book: Every Deep-Drawn Breath

Listen to Dr. Wes Ely on the show Talk Radio Europe as he talks about the devastating consequences of severe disease that results in admission to critical care units, specifically in the context of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The title of the presentation is “Understanding the Long Shadow of COVID and ICU Care.”

Rounding@Iowa Presentation on Covid-19 Bivalent Vaccine Boosters

Give a listen to the Rounding@Iowa presentation “Update on Covid-19 Bivalent Vaccine Boosters. While these presentations are mainly directed to health care providers, they are very helpful for members of the community at large.

Evolutionary Thoughts

By now, you’ve probably read the digital news article describing how we’re all going to evolve into beings who resemble extraterrestrials (ETs) because of our preoccupation with digital technology.

The authors describe us as eventually developing another eyelid that’ll protect us from the blue light emanating from our gadgets. Our hands will become claw-like and permanently flexed because of the way we’re always gripping our smartphones.

You’ll also develop a third hand that protrudes from your butt so you can catch your cell phone as it slips out of the back pocket of your skinny jeans. Come to think of it, that’ll also give rise to a weird new meaning for the term “butt dialing.”

Of course, the article is a criticism of our preoccupation with our gadgets, but it’s still fascinating as speculation about how creatures, including humans, evolve in response to the pressures in our environment.

This kind of thing makes me wonder whatever happened to Neanderthal. The males were huge, especially their arms, which came from frequent arm wrestling with Sasquatch for the last shred of beef jerky. Neanderthal had a very prominent brow which developed to keep snow and pterodactyl droppings out of his eyes.

And this reminds me of the discovery of the fossil of a giant creature on the Greek island of Crete in 2003 (I think). The skull had a huge nasal opening in the center of the skull. That was probably for a trunk, as in elephant trunk. But paleontologists thought it might have been the explanation for why ancient Greeks came up with stories about the terrifying one-eyed cyclops.

And what about that carp with a human-like face on the top of its head? I saw that one a week ago on the show The Proof is Out There. I thought sure Michael Primeau, the forensic video analyst on the show, would dryly dismiss it (“This video is clearly faked.”). Instead, the other experts thought it was natural. Tony summarized it as an example of the “plastic” evolution, by which I think he meant phenotypic or evolutionary plasticity. These are changes in a creature’s appearance, morphology, or physiology in response to changes in its environment. Regarding the carp, one expert opined that the face would confuse its main predator, the eel, by confusing it.

I still don’t get that one. How would the carp species even begin the evolutionary process? Does the carp just think, “Huh, I think that eel might get confused if I had a face like a human”? I get it that the changes occur at the genetic level, but how exactly does it get started?

Could you google the answer? I couldn’t find anything specific, like x plus y equals human-like face on a fish that many humans would not care to eat.

And how about writing? I wrote this blog post longhand using pen and paper, something I gave up doing years ago but which I am sort of rediscovering gradually. I had an old typewriter for a while, which gave way to something called a word processor, which was a stand-alone device made writing and editing text, and eventually I got a computer—which really messed things up.

The thing is, I can remember getting something called writer’s cramp. If you remember that, then you probably recall how painful it was. Back then, did anyone ever wonder whether that would lead to the evolution of a claw like hand?

Could evolution have consequences pertinent to people who are always looking up at the sky looking for UFOs? Some of them, for some unexplained reason, never seem to have a smartphone with them. Anyway, could their eyes migrate, carp-like, to the top of their foreheads to counter neck strain? And could this lead to the evolution of a third eye in the center of the forehead? It would prevent falling into manholes. There are other consequences from evolving into a cyclops.

We would be adept at forging thunderbolts. We would be very talented at cultivating vineyards and herding sheep and goats. But our tempers would still be pretty bad, even worse. We would abandon courts of law and ignore justice. We would be violent giants, feasting on the flesh of ordinary humans. All this because we kept searching the sky, hoping to see UFOs and see ETs, which we would eventually resemble anyway because of our preoccupation with our devices.

I have a pretty good supply of pens and paper.

See the World’s Largest Dinosaurs Exhibit at the Science Center of Iowa!

You can see the world’s largest dinosaurs exhibit at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines, Iowa from October 15, 2022 to April 16, 2023. It’s a traveling exhibit, so see it before it thunders off!

CDC Advisory Committee Recommends Including Covid-19 Vaccine for Routine Immunization Schedule

Today, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended adding Covid-19 immunization to the routinely recommended vaccine schedule.

Here We Go Again About Antidepressants

Back in August, my colleagues, Drs. George Dawson, MD and Ronald Pies, MD wrote a rejoinder in Psychiatric Times to a review article published in Molecular Psychiatry by J. Moncrieff, Mark Horowitz and others (Moncrieff J, Cooper RE, Stockmann T, Amendola S, Hengartner MP, Horowitz MA. The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence. Mol Psychiatry. 2022 Jul 20. doi: 10.1038/s41380-022-01661-0. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35854107.)

The idea that most psychiatrists subscribe to the so-called “chemical imbalance” theory of depression has arisen again in an article by Mark Horowitz on October 7, 2022. Sena alerted me to the article which is getting a lot of attention. There were well over 600 comments and counting about it when we read it on October 7th.

I would like to refer readers to the Dawson and Pies article, “The Serotonin Fixation: Much Ado About Nothing New,” published August 3, 2022. Since the issue about emotional blunting from SSRIs resurfaced again on October 7th, it wouldn’t hurt to review their September 26, 2022, Psychiatric Times article, “Antidepressants Do Not Work by Numbing Emotions.”

Psychiatrists Cast Doubt on Idea that Antidepressants Work by Causing Apathy

Out of 60 hits on page one of a Google search using terms “emotional blunting from SSRI,” only one cast doubt on the assumption that SSRI antidepressants exert their treatment effect by causing apathy. The rest endorsed the connection.

The one article I found on this quick search which contradicted this widely held and arguably incorrect assumption is “Antidepressants Do Not Work by Numbing Emotions,” published in Psychiatric Times, Sept. 26, 2022, which was written by George Dawson, MD and Ronald W. Pies, MD.

The authors wrote a convincing rebuttal of the assumption that the SSRI mechanism of action for treating depression is by causing apathy. Based on their review, the problem is more likely due to residual depressive symptoms. It’s a good thing it turns up on the first page of a web search.

Maybe We Need a Dose of Humor

Sena and I were listening to the Mike Waters morning radio show (KOKZ 105.7) this morning and his invitation to listeners was to call in and quote their favorite dumb question. One of the callers recited something which was actually a George Carlin joke. Neither one of us thought we heard it right, but it’s the same framework as the joke I found on the web (only the numbers were changed):

“If you’ve got 24 odds and ends on the table and 23 of them fall off, what’ve you got? An odd or an end?”

This is an example of his wordplay humor.

Carlin’s humor was also marked by satire on American culture and politics, the latter of which has gotten pretty rough. You’ll also find references on the web to Carlin’s past history of substance use, which reportedly included psychedelics.

That reminds me of an opinion piece published in the September issue of Current Psychiatry, by the journal’s editor, Henry A. Nasrallah, MD (From neuroplasticity to psychoplasticity: Psilocybin may reverse personality disorders and political fanaticism. Current Psychiatry. 2022 September, 21(9): 4-6 | doi: 10.12788/cp.0283).

I was a little surprised at Dr. Nasrallah’s enthusiastic endorsement of psilocybin for treatment of personality disorders and political extremism. He acknowledges the lack of any studies on the issue. In the last paragraph of his essay is a sweeping endorsement:

In the current political zeitgeist, could psychedelics such as psilocybin reduce or even eliminate political extremism and visceral hatred on all sides? It would be remarkable research to carry out to heal a politically divided populace. The dogma of untreatable personality disorders or hopelessly entrenched political extremism is on the chopping block, and psychedelics offer hope to splinter those beliefs by concurrently remodeling brain tissue (neuroplasticity) and rectifying the mindset (psychoplasticity).

While I’m not so sure about how effective psilocybin would be for this, I’m all for trying something to reduce the “visceral hatred on all sides.”

Maybe humor could be part of the solution. It doesn’t have to be exactly like that of George Carlin. Both parody and satire have been used by many writers for this.

I like the distinction between parody and satire in one article I found on the web. One recent example of satire (or parody; the distinction is sometimes hard to make since the story was listed as “Iowa Parodies”) was in the news and it apparently fooled at least a few people. It was about the Iowa football coaching staff. The title was “Brian Ferentz Promoted to University President To Avoid Having to Fire Him (Satire): The move was deemed ‘a way easier conversation than having him fired’ by the athletic director. It was written by Creighton M, posted September 5, 2022.

I think the story was originally printed without the word “Satire” in the title. I can’t recall seeing the heading “Iowa Parodies” either. A later version of the story added the word “Satire.”

The story might have been about nepotism in the hiring of Brian Ferentz (he’s the son of head coach Kirk Ferentz) as offensive coach. On the other hand, under Iowa law, it was not illegal to hire Brian Ferentz, who in any case reports to athletic director Gary Barta, not Kirk Ferentz.

I suspect the joke had more to do with negative public attitudes about the performance of the Iowa football offense early in the season.

Is it funny? I guess it depends on your perspective. The Iowa football coaching staff probably didn’t chuckle over it. But it more or less fits the definition of satire. It uses humor to expose flaws in the way we behave. And it avoids direct and nasty confrontation, which usually triggers antagonism rather than collaboration. Will it change the Iowa football program? I doubt it. They’re actually doing pretty good so far.

But satire as a strategy to inform and maybe change the public opinion will endure. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is one of my favorite books and it satirizes governments and the foolishness of people. I first learned about The Onion newspaper while we were in the process of relocating to Wisconsin (a short adventure). It satirizes the Associated Press news style.

One of the most uproarious examples of parody is a TV show which is no longer available on cable television but still offered on a streaming service (I think), Mountain Monsters. It’s a hilarious sendup of all the Bigfoot hunter shows.

The added benefit of parody and satire and other such forms of humor is that they are safer than psychedelics—unless your target was born without a funny bone.

Extraterrestrials Need Lentils Anonymous Program

Sena bought a bag of Spicy Sriracha Lentil Chips yesterday. They’re at the center of an extraterrestrial news flash on the web site of the company, The Daily Crave, which sells a lot of healthier snack food items. They’re mainly plant-based.

Apparently, extraterrestrials are known to have a tendency to get addicted to lentils. What proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt is that the website listing for The Daily Crave is directly below the website listing for the Reddit description of the Star Trek: Next Generation episode (S01E19) which details the sale of lentils to aliens. Lentils are a highly addictive drug to extraterrestrials, although they tend to bore me—and a lot of other snackers. Funny, I can’t find anything about it in the Wikipedia entry for that 1988 episode entitled “Coming of Age.” And I didn’t watch it.

Can you beat that? I love science!

The Daily Crave news item (“Crop Circles coincide with missing new snack displays”) on the website differs from what’s on our bag, which has the headline “Missing Snack Displays Blamed on Aliens.”

There’s also a Lentils meme for the Ancient Aliens hair guy, Giorgio Tsoukalos. It’s like almost all of the memes: a picture of him with his wild hair and a weird fake quote. This one has the word “Lentils” on it. What more proof do you need to support government funding of a Lentils Anonymous (LA) program for aliens?

On the other hand, you have to wonder whether dusting a little sriracha on lentil chips would make them taste zestier instead of just making me load them up with chip dip, a substance known to instantaneously transform humans into aliens.

There are also several flavors for Quinoa Chips (pronounced KEEN-wah). Quinoa is also very good for you. Contrary to popular belief, Himalayan Salt Quinoa Chips will not grow hair on your chest, according to many extraterrestrial scientists.

How to Get the Updated Covid-19 Vaccine Booster at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics

Here’s an updated link to how to get the updated Covid-19 vaccine booster (often called the Omicron bivalent booster). It’s sometimes faster to get this booster at local pharmacies, although there’s less urgency now.

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