Woody Guthrie, Abbie Hoffman And A Big Mac

Capitalism is evil! Down with the system! Peace and Love!

Yeah, right.

The Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City’s Zucotti Park have now dragged into their fifth week, as well as spreading to other cities throughout the Western world. Hundreds of adolescent protesters (and not a few geriatric ones), many sporting Nike runners, Adidas “hoodies”, Calvin Klein jeans and playing with Apple iPhones while simultaneously denouncing the evils of Big Business, must obviously be in posession of some higher kind of logic that eludes me.

Rampant hypocrisy aside, I’m guessing that all this is somehow being inspired at least in part by the Flower Power movement of the 1960s. That was a generation which, right or wrong, at least had something concrete to protest against—they did not want to be conscripted into the military for the purposes of fighting a land war in South-East Asia, a war whose rationale with which they did not agree.

Fighting Big Business can be hungry work.

What are this current mob protesting about? Certainly, they appear to regard Global Warming as yesterday’s news. According to the Wikipedia article on the protests, it started, at least, over the percentage of “National U.S. Income” that ends up in the pockets of the richest one per cent of the population. Right now, the proportion has risen to the same level it was just before the Great Depression, and has not equalled since. The implication seems to be that this inequity presages a new Great Depression.

Even I, a non-economist, can see the obvious flaws in this argument. Quite apart from the fact that national income is as loaded and flawed a term as global temperature, I have never read, anywhere, that the Great Depression was caused by the rich earning so much more than the poor. And what of the 1970s? During this decade, according to the graph, the disparity was at its lowest. Was this, then, a period of economic boom times for the United States? Hardly.

Or are they implying that the lowest-paid workers today are being underpaid for what their jobs are worth? That would be a more coherent protest, even if incorrect. So—which would you rather be: a mine worker in 1928, or a mine worker in 2011? I’ve already made this comparison on this blog; due to technological innovation, a more highly-skilled workforce and freedom to negotiate workplace enterprise agreements, a typical mine worker in this country today earns the kind of money that enables him to support a family in luxury unimaginable to his predecessor three generations ago; to pay off a house in a decade, own a couple of cars and a boat, send his children to private schools and afford the occasional overseas holiday. Nice work if you can get it—and you can.

Put another way; how many government jobs were there in 1928 which ideally suited someone incapable of producing a useable good or service, but who held a degree in sociology? And how many such jobs are there in government today?

At least this young fellow found a slogan which could easily be adopted by all his fellow protesters:

Of course, whenever there is this amount of media attention afforded a movement like this one, driven as it is by a youthful though incoherent naïveté, darker forces will attempt to subvert it to their own ends. Socialism is the usual suspect in these cases, and you don’t have to look very far to see some rather familiar messages among the placards.

And darker still: if not global socialism, then national socialism…

Workers, eh? Erm… how many mine workers (or doctors, or plumbers, or shopkeepers) would you guess are “occupying” Wall Street right about now? And how many college students majoring in sociology, politics or—worse, in my book—nebulous “management” subjects whose career-academic teachers have brainwashed their students into believing they have some kind of right to rule over those who actually produce:

We have a president who tells us to do the right thing, to go to school, to get a better life, but I’m not getting a better life. I am a new college graduate and I have $50,000 of college debt built up while studying business management at Berkeley. I can’t find a job to pay it off … Look around us, Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs — they got us in this position in the first place. The banks get a bailout but what about us? Where’s our bailout? … A lot of my friends are here. We have good degrees, we have worked hard, but now what?

In other words, someone out there owes them. Just like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs successfully appealed to the U.S. government to bail them out. Ahh—now I think I get it: the Wall Street protesters aren’t fighting these parasites, they’re fighting to join them!

Translation: support useless moochers like ME, regardless of what it costs YOU.

When these people finally get the message—and if they don’t get it sooner, they will get it later, perforce—that the world owes them absolutely, precisely nothing; when juvenile college graduates are once again prepared to start out in the mail room, and learn about business from the ground up, instead of presuming their hollow degree gives them the right to a status they have not yet earned; that if they want to make a living in this world, they had better start producing a good or service of value to others; that careers made rent-seeking in taxpayer-funded government bureaucracies, consultancies, qangos and other assorted boondoggles are the real “unsustainability”; that both the absolute and relative size of government’s slice of the pie needs to shrink dramatically and, when it finally does, there will be more jobs, more opportunities for new businesses, and a higher standard of living for everyone…

When all that happens, who really gives a damn how much the richest one per cent make?

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89 Responses to Woody Guthrie, Abbie Hoffman And A Big Mac

  1. Kitler says:

    So we have a lot of the useful idiots all in one spot er this is a golden opportunity to rid ourselves of them once and for all. Is that wrong?

  2. Kitler says:

    Ozboy it’s a classic Kondratief cycle the concentration of wealth is draining money that would have spent in the wider economy. Once you reach a certain level of rich there is little you can spend your money on except to make more money. You can only eat so much expensive food, live in so many houses, fly only so many jets drive so many cars etc. So the money ends up doing nothing really useful. If it had been in the pockets of the rest of us plebs it would be spent and the economy would motor on creating high employment.
    However too late and we are in for a re-balancing and the next 10 to 20 years are not going to be fun for the common oiks. The rich will not suffer unless they are taxed punitively and there is a good chance of that to assuage public anger.

    Can’t say I agree. Wealthy people put their excess cash into stocks, bonds, debentures and commercial real estate more than yachts and jewellery; poorer folk put it into consumer goods. Either way, they’re pumping money back into productive business – neither are stuffing cash into their mattresses. It won’t surprise you, I had to look up Kondratiev cycles; it appears they aren’t given much credence by most economists, nor could I see where they were related to wealth inequity, Gini Index or anything like that.

    Look, if there was widespread starvation in the West today like there was in the Great Depression, I’d treat this crowd more seriously. I wonder what the poor of the 1930s would make of them, with their designer clothes and hairstyles, cars, fast food and technological wizardry that wasn’t even science fiction back then. Who do you reckon would offer to trade places with whom? – Oz

  3. Tucci says:

    “We are the Folk Song Army
    “Everyone of us cares.
    “We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
    “Unlike the rest of you squares.”

    — Tom Lehrer, from That Was the Year That Was (1965)

    The more things change, the more these schmucks keep on repeating themselves.

    Remember, folks, that in medical oncology, “progressive” is a descriptor meaning “We’ve treated this cancer according to all the protocols, but it’s still spreading and it’s probably gonna kill the patient.

  4. benfrommo says:

    I apologize for the length of this, but I did decide to break it into two parts for clarity.

    Point of clarification: Granted at the top you do mention the Vietnam war and how it was something concrete they did have a right to protest on, but most of all they would protest just about anything back then. Some of it was indeed good (which had nothing to say about their value systems in the 60’s) but some was obviously bad. It was more about being anti-establishment then anything else and of course this also came with a healthy dose of narcissism and thoughts that everyone was entitled to some level of living.

    There is things similar between the two movements, and I kind of see where this can be said in several aspects, but without going too far into that, yes there was probably motivation seen in the past for this current movement, but the crucial difference as you also point out was that the hippies of the 60’s would never have owned a cell phone or eaten fast food (the consistent nature of being anti-establishment ) And indeed, this movement has no leg to stand on. (as the rest of your post says. I really think to sum it up is that the hippies were a lot of things (not so pleasent) but they generally speaking were not hypocritical. Which is one place I do find some sense of honor perhaps in them? This group today on walstreet are worthless and above all else just greedy.

    They complain about how much money certain people make….and then fail to recognize that they instead of earning the American Dream are attempting to get it handed to them. This sense of entitlement is the central problem all of these people have. They fail to realize how capitalism works either through flaws in education or just ignorance. This might not be their goal (to become rich perhaps) but in the end they are just as ignorant or greedy as anyone else protesting this type of class warfare and just as guilty of the escalation.

    They complain as you mentioned about the super-rich, and yet if offered this kind of money would leave the protest and enjoy life in a heart-beat. This is seen in their choices of merchandise they own and their obvious enjoyment of most aspects of modern society. The system works great for a lot of them as they enjoy perks and enjoy nice things. In that sense, what are they protesting?

    One man in particular in this setting complains about finding a job. I find this highly entertaining, because obviously he is so addicted to a certain level of living or a certain idea of his self-worth that he is not willing to flip burgers to make ends meet. Indeed, I know this is not glamourous, or even close to something people went through college for, but sometimes in a bad economy we all have to make sacrifices. My grandparents indeed both lived in families that had partial employment during the 30’s here in the US and one of the largest things about that era was how everyone took whatever job they could no matter how ugly it really was.

    If you want to know more about this difference as a fun thing to do perhaps: I think the 3 stooges really catch this in their films/shows. As a point, most of the stories revolve around one random job or another that the 3 hold and this was common during this era to “drift” from one job to another because frankly that was the only way to feed oneself. There was no welfare – you either starved or you worked. And 3 “friends” like this would share the same bed with no feelings of inadequecy because back then to sleep in a bed was actually a GOOD thing no matter who you shared it with.

    In other words, yes there was a huge difference between the wealthy and the poor during this time. During our time, not so much. As you note, the wealth difference between the super rich and super poor rarely tells the complete story. In fact, quite a few rich people would run soup kitchens themselves during the 1930’s and they did this without today’s tax breaks for charity or for any kind of compensation. They indeed did this for zero gain just to help out people.

    I will go into the graph on the next post (-;

  5. benfrommo says:

    So what does this graph tell us if anything?

    I can not say. It is a metric that at some times in history has been bad, but at others it has meant nothing. I think which I will show some evidence to support that this is a metric that means nothing but how much waste there is in a society (perhaps maybe?). How does this equate to how an economy behaves? who knows?

    But the prevailing thought I will add this:

    Since the 1400’s (start of the high middle ages if you will) the prevailing force that has meant good economic times or bad is the strength of your middle class and this has nothing to do with income differences between people, but just simply, the economic strength of your middle class which over time I will add is highly correlated with energy usage.

    So, taking money from the middle class/poor people and giving it to the rich with wind follies is probably one of the worst things to do. Only time will tell, but if I had to guess I would almost state unequivacally that this entire graph up above is from over 30 years of building wind follies / solar eyesore and what not in the US to a very large extent. (I am not saying this is the only cause mind you, but I Wouldn’t be surprised if this was a good portion. ) This is the only trend I can really see that starts in the late 70’s (started under Carter to a very large extent) and is constant through today….which would really explain this graph and how large subsidies like that only benefit the super rich in the end.

    It might simply mean our economy is heading over the cliff so to speak as well. I have been studying this problem which I can not go into very much at this time, but truth be told the trends that are easy to see are not promising. But I will say this, the graph above does not give us much information at all as the times they do change. Society changes over a period of 40 years, and comparing peaks in the graph that are approx. 80 years apart might or might not be like comparing apples and oranges. I don’t know to be honest. But I will say this: do not expect a recovery from the global recession for at least 5 years, and do be prepared for a global depression. Both of these are likely and I would say almost something you can bank on.

    Well that is because I see the case of stagnation to not be as likely now, which in reality is nothing but a recession with high inflation. So these protests might be funny, but they are protestnig at the wrong location. They need to start protesting the white house and look for ways money is being funneled to the super rich from the Government. The waste did start somewhere, and it continued from Carter’s time until today if the graph above can be trusted and if my hunch is correct. (I am normally correct on these).

    G’day Ben,

    Funny how they’re not marching on the White House? You and Dr Dave below have identified something that I, as a foreigner, overlooked – the method in their madness. No mention of the U.S. Administration, the bad guys this time around are the ones making money, not taking it. I’m not sure whether this is being orchestrated, directly or indirectly, by the Democratic Party (something some American journalists ought to chase down), but if it isn’t, it suits their purposes mightily – Oz

  6. Dr. Dave says:

    The little details about this “movement” are fascinating. This thing was actually initiated by a group called Adbusters out of Vancouver (as in British Columbia, Canada). Zucotti Park is private property owned by a group that is a subsidiary of a larger group that received a $138 million “green energy” loan from the Obama administration. I haven’t pored over all the details at great length, but as with most things associated with the Democrat party there are links to George Soros (how’s that for stunning irony).

    The media coverage is almost amusing. The Tea Party movement held lots of events all over the country. These were spontaneously attended by literally thousands of ordinary Americans. They left the places where they met cleaner than they found them. Glenn Beck’s rally alone drew a crowd of over 100,000. The US media ignored the Tea Parties as if they never happened (not unlike their response to Climategate). These “Occupy” groups number in the low hundreds of mostly incoherent college age kids and the media are treating them like a HUGE, very serious movement.

    The fact is this “Occupy movement” is purely something manufactured by the Democrat party. They desperately needed a distraction so they fabricated their own version of the Tea Party movement to appeal to their base and take attention off of a failing Obama. The Obama administration is sinking in scandals (e.g. “Fast and Furious” gun running/DOJ scandal, the Solyndra scandal and associated crony capitalism scandals). His poll numbers are dismal, the economy is on the ropes and unemployment remains high. And he wants to raise taxes!

    The Tea Party movement really pissed off the Democrat party. They view grass roots organizing as their exclusive purview. The thing is, the Tea Party movement is, indeed, grass roots but it’s not really “organized”. There is no “leader” of the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party movement rallied around a concise and succinct message – smaller government, greater individual liberty, lower taxes and less intrusion by government. This “astroturfed” (per Nancy Pelosi) movement cost the Democrats 65 seats and control of the House last year.

    So the Democrats manufactured the “Occupy movement” to rally their base and vilify Wall Street (and by association “the rich”). But it was the Democrat led federal government that bailed out Wall Street. There is no coherent message among this group. Their “demands” are laughable. They’re idiots. But they serve their purpose – they garner media coverage and take the spotlight off Obama.

    Further to my response to benfrommo above, this pic, kindly sent in by Dr Dave, offers a possible explanation as to why the protesters have been directing the spotlight away from White House and its current occupant:

    You sure about Columbia? – Oz

  7. Dr. Dave says:


    I would be remiss if I failed to commend your characterization of these protestors as “sociology” graduates. One of America’s greatest problems is that kids that have no business attending college, attend and graduate from college with worthless (albeit expensive) degrees. John Stossel had a great segment about the HUGE number of bar tenders, taxi and limo drivers and bellhops that have college degrees. Got a link? – Oz My sister had two daughters. The eldest earned an M.S. in chemical engineering. She married a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and they both work for Dow chemical. They have a big house, make gobs of money and just had their second child. My younger niece earned a B.A. in English literature from a very expensive private college. She’s unemployed and lives a parasite existence with my sister…she’s 31 years old.

    Be wary of any kid who majored in anything labeled “-studies”. This means “gender studies”, “race studies”, “environmental studies”, etc. In fact, I already dismiss anyone with a degree in “ecology” as too stupid for real college. Interestingly, 85% of the “Occupy” crowd actually have jobs!

    Here’s a nice little blog piece that characterizes these folks:


    Hilarious! A more poetic justice is harder to imagine. And you beat me to it regarding people with ersatz degrees who studied “studies” – Oz 🙄

  8. Ozboy says:

    Clicking on Dave’s photo above takes you to the website displayed, where I caught the following rather funny clip. As Dave and many commenters have noted, unlike the Tea Party, which has a small number of highly specific and concrete aims, this bunch are spouting a grab-bag of every leftist meme raised since Woodstock (the few dozen survivors of which appear to have joined in).

    That, plus the fact that, like Woodstock, half the crowd are stoned out of their skulls, makes them even harder to take seriously. Narcissists bereft of principle.

  9. Tucci says:

    Oz writes:

    Funny how they’re not marching on the White House?

    Even more hilarious is that they’re not marching on the Board of Governors (at 20th Street and Constitution Avenue in Mordor-on-the-Potomac) and every one of the banks and other offices of of the U.S. Federal Reserve System’s twelve branches.

    If the TEA Party folks had any receptiveness to libertarian guidance, they’d start a parallel protest and call it “Occupy the Fed.”

    There’s the real source of all the ills associated with Austrian School’s business cycle theory (ABCT). Institutionalized debauchment (“legal counterfeiting”) of the circulating currency.

    The government’s theft of value by fraud.

    What Ron Paul has been talking about – when nobody else in the Congress would – for something like thirty years.

  10. Dr. Dave says:

    I wish to let my esteemed colleague, Tucci, know that I am stealing “Mordor-on-the-Potomac”. That line is simply too good not to be in wider usage. I cannot disagree with anything Tucci has written. Dr. Ron Paul is the ONLY Libertarian in our field of contenders and he is doing surprisingly well of late. Paul’s ideas have been embraced by more of the electorate than at any time during the last 30 years he has been preaching his message. Still, in the bright glare of reality, Ron Paul remains a long shot for the nomination. If he wins it, he has my vote in a heartbeat! If he doesn’t win I’d pick him as my first choice as Secretary of the Treasury.

    Other than Huntsman and Romney, we actually have a pretty good field of candidates and ANY would be infinitely better than Obama. Huntsman and Romney are believers in CAGW. This would be disastrous for the nation. In a previous thread Tucci quite accurately pointed out the “prettiness factor” for US political candidates. This is lamentable but very accurate. Romney absolutely looks the part of “American President”. That’s why I liked Rick Perry. As shallow as it might be, he is a veteran Air Force Pilot, he became wealthy not being born into it, but by working for it. He has a 10 year history of being Governor of the most successful state. He’s a tall, good looking man with broad shoulders. He parrots a lot of Ron Pauls’ good ideas. Trouble is…he apparently can’t debate his way out of a wet paper bag. Then again…neither could George W. Bush.

    I will gladly vote for any six of our eight candidates. I still like Perry, Bachmann, Cain and Gingrich.

    Suddenly veering back on-topic, I’d like to offer this nice little piece from Dr. Walter Williams:


  11. Tucci says:

    Anent “Mordor-on-the-Potomac,” the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education has long been operating in the town of Irvington-on-Hudson, NY, so….

    Not much imagination required, really.

    As for Rick Perry, Dr. Dave, though I’m not opposed to the use of a Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16, and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant, I kinda object to requiring vaccination with it at gunpoint, particularly when the “public servant” pushing it upon little girls all over Texas has an arguable pecuniary relationship with Merck, the manufacturer.

    “Gardasil Rick” ain’t going away anytime soon. Hell, ever.

    There is just too goddam much in Gov. Perry’s personal bag of liabilities upon which our Mombasa Messiah’s little ACORN elves can get traction. Worse still, he’s proposing to move directly into the White House from the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas.

    It doesn’t take any particular brilliance for our Fraudulence-in-Chief to remind people – like he’s ever quit doing that? – about the last Republican who backed up the Bekins on Pennsylvania Avenue and unloaded himself on the U.S. economy.

  12. Ozboy says:

    Kitler: Just for you…

  13. izen says:

    Poking fun at the ‘Occupy’ demonstrations in the US, and the copycat versions in other Western States is easy. Street protest in modern democracy has become street theater. Its an imitation of real popular unrest in which people march or occupy as part of a symbolic gesture of opposition to State policy. See Syria for the ‘real thing’ which is reduced to a formalised imitation in the west.

    Some of the pot-shots taken at the demonstrators are a little of the mark however. Sneers that while campaigning against corporate dominance and multinational greed they are wearing Nike, eating Mac’s and talking on iphones is rather making the demonstrator’s point. The individual enterprenier is excluded in the world of big crony-capitalism. They are not clothed, fed and using gadgets from mom-and-pop type enterprises BECAUSE the multi-national Giga-corperations have dominated and excluded from the market that type of individualistic (libertarian?) capitalism. The ubiquity of the products of the corporate targets the demonstrators are aiming for is confirmed by the fact that even they cannot avoid their products – there is so little alternative. The few that do make an effort to avoid the mega-corporate product end up looking like weird cranks in funny clothes, the crony-cartel dominates and defines ‘mainstream’ food, clothing and communication.

    The comparisons with the Tea Party are interesting. How much organisation goes into ‘grass roots’ movements, and how much the organisation gets infiltrated or shaped by ideological activists indicates how such protests in western democracies are pieces of staged political thearte. The astro-turf nature of the Tea Party was rather well indicated by the fact that the buses that transported members to the Washington DC marches, and the printed ‘hand-drawn’ placards that were made available were financed by crony-capitalism.

    Follow the money usually works in politics, I don’t know where the money for the organisational end of the ‘Occupy’ demonstrations comes from but that is where to look for the real interest group that is exploiting, or creating, a popular resentment.

    But both the Tea Party and the Occupy movements are examples of the paranoid style of politics. This frames all issues as being the result of a small but immensely powerful elite who have manipulated the system for their own malignant ends.The protesters are victims of this nefarious conspiracy in which their rights and freedoms, or at least their perceived entitlements, are threatened or removed by vast shadowy forces within government/business that repress the ‘common man’. Its a toxic mindset and toxic politics. Used by left and right to motivate support by feeding the individual’s sense of fear and impotence. It has a long history. The Masonic illuminati in the 1830s, the catholic infiltration raised as the sinister force destroying ‘American values’ in the 1850s, jewish bankers in the 1930s and communists under every bed since WII.
    In each instance the extreme power of the ‘threat’ is emphasised. The ability of the individual is denied, the explicit message is that mere individuals are unsuspecting pawns in a vast shadowing cabal of powerful forces – a victim of the machinations of some hidden elite. The implicit message is that the individual can only have any power to oppose these malign plots by abrogating their autonomy and joining collective action in support of the leaders who revealed this nefarious plan.

    Its a mindset, and political tactic that emerges often, and invariably with extremely negative consequences, I skirt Godwins law, but….

    The ‘Occupy the streets’ movement is another in this tradition of adopting the ‘victim’ role in a great morality conflict between the free individual and ‘dark forces’ bent on denying autonomy in favor of; rich financiers, atheistic evolutionists, communists, masonic secret orders, zionists…. delete as applicable!

    Its the denial of individual autonomy in this that I find most objectionable. The only way to avoid being a victim of these grand conspiracies according to these movements is to join up with some collectivist opposition and play the street theatre game.
    I have a sneaking suspicion that the riots and looting in London recently when high fashion trainers and electronic gadgets were targeted was a much more honest, and individual response to any injustice from rising inequality and banker excess -grin-.

    Damn! I’ll make a Libertarian of you yet.

    But to interpret the actions of the collectivist fools in Zucotti Park as decrying… lack of autonomy? And the suppression of individual enterprise?? Gosh – LibertyGibbert ought to set up a stall there or something; I’ve got a guitar and a beard, so I should fit right in. Now, where’s my Ayn Rand T-shirt…

  14. Amanda says:

    Oz, you mentioned above in the comments section ‘every leftist meme raised since Woodstock’.

    According to John Steele Gordon of Commentary magazine, it goes back a lot further than that:
    ‘[Left-liberals used to be cheerful.] Today, the situation is reversed. Conservatism has been abubble with new ideas in the last 40 years. It is the liberals who cling to a creed outworn, developed in a world as dead and gone as the roaring 20s. Can you name a single liberal idea that postdates Lyndon Johnson’s administration, which ended 42 years ago, before the microprocessor was developed? The vast majority of the liberal agenda goes back to the late 19th century.

    When you’re a merchant in the marketplace of ideas, and all your goods are shopworn ones that have been around for decades and can only be sold with the use of flagrant mendacity, you’re likely to be grumpy.’

    And Maggie Gallagher, a conservative pro-marriage advocate, says this in her Public Discourse article:
    ‘The odd thing about “progressive” tropes is their peculiar, static, timeless quality.
    For progressives, time stands still. Each new generation is posed as poised to break through taboos that, in truth, vanished long ago’.

  15. Amanda says:

    Izen: Your point about exclusion and mom-and-pop gadgets does not work, I’m afraid. First of all, technology is at such a stage of advancement that you cannot have ‘mom-and-pop’ computers, telecommunications, plastics, and so forth. Even to make a new board game requires a relatively high degree of technological know-how and facilities, to say nothing of market research and distribution afterwards.

    Also, it’s not the corporations that are doing the ‘excluding’; it is the consumers making their consumer choices. For instance, for the past few summers I have gone to a small town in mountainous country where there are local boutique shops and services, and recently, on the outskirts of town, a Wal-Mart. Now, we always shop at the local supermarkets (Piggly Wiggly is one of them) when we can, since we don’t want everything to be lost to Wal-Mart. But the fact is that in these tough economic times, which the Democrats and Obama did nothing to help (their policies having a detrimental effect as the debt bloomed), it’s the Wal-Marts that have the structure, budgets, goods for sale, and strategies to withstand hardship, and it’s the Wal-Marts that can offer the sales and pricing that hard-pressed customers want. So it’s the customers that chose for their own economic reasons to shop at Wal-Mart instead of the local town shops that caused the latter to shut.

    If you blame Wal-Mart, you must also blame the locals who chose not to support their own local shops. And why did they not? Because of pricing as I’ve said, and also because the local shops do not offer the range of goods, in one convenient place, that the big powerhouse store does. In short, customers are most concerned about their own standard of living and their own immediate needs.

    Nobody is persecuting or oppressing towns like the one I visit. But it would have been nice if, under a more business-friendly and economically literate Republican administration, the local stores could have found an easier dispensation in which to keep their doors open.

  16. Amanda says:

    Ah, I see you’ve been talking about Ron Paul, guys. Ron Paul, who thinks he can be more statesmanlike with false brown eyebrows that don’t match his otherwise grey and permanently querulous face — and which nearly fell off during a debate. Also, the man needs a proper tailor, for god’s sake.

    But no tailor can make up for the fact that he’s extreme, and in my view, a crank. Got some weird ideas, and his isolationism to me looks like trying to run from reality.

    Here’s what a live blogger posted in June while Paul was speaking (presumably during a debate, but it might have been some other event): ‘He doesn’t want us to protect the border “between Iraq and Afghanistan.” That’s good because there is no border between Iraq and Afghanistan’.

    Hold that thought Amanda – though I wasn’t planning to, I may do a Ron Paul thread in the very near future – Oz

  17. izen says:

    @-Amanda says: October 22, 2011 at 5:04 am
    “Your point about exclusion and mom-and-pop gadgets does not work, I’m afraid. First of all, technology is at such a stage of advancement that you cannot have ‘mom-and-pop’ computers, telecommunications, plastics, and so forth. Even to make a new board game requires a relatively high degree of technological know-how and facilities, to say nothing of market research and distribution afterwards.
    Also, it’s not the corporations that are doing the ‘excluding’; it is the consumers making their consumer choices.”

    To a large extent I agree. The idea that the dominance of global giga-corps is the result of intentional plotting by evil financiers is nonsense. For mass-produced products the economies of scale, automated production and cheap foreign labor made it inevitable that Wal-Mart would become the retail arm of China for low-value stuff that requires manual production.

    Its a classical manifestation of Adam Smith’s ‘Invisible Hand’.
    The market gives economic advantage to size and globalization as each individual enterprise competes (within the law) for financial advantage. Those with a better grasp of economic theory than I may be able to refine, or correct that as a definition of free market capitalism.
    In current jargon, the Invisible hand is an emergent property of a complex system. Individual agents (businesses) interact according to simple rules, but complex organisation results. An efficient and stable (?) market evolves out of the apparent chaos of autonomous competition for maximum profit.

    So demonstrators chanting slogans against the mega-corps as part of a conspiracy by big business are wrong. Its ubiquity is as you suggest, the outcome of economic inevitabilities of production costs and consumer choice. But given their belief system, I don’t think you can label the demonstrators hypocrites for consuming the products of the major producers while opposing the lack of alternatives. The irrational ones are those that think they (personally!) can boycott out of existence the companies that provide the majority of clothes, electronics and food to the majority of the population.

    I provided the constraint on free market capitalism describe above as – within the law -.
    Property rights and contract law have to be neutrally enforced for a free market. Some regulation is necessary, without it you get narco-capitalism. Mexico shows how that works, I think it is one of the few nations where a handgun is 10x more frequently used to murder than to commit suicide.
    (in most nations it is about equal)

    You conflate the protection of life and limb, and of property rights (the proper functions of government, as I’ve said here at LG all along) with artificial market regulation. The two are distinct, and not in the same economic or even philosophic box. Mexico’s problem isn’t lack of market regulation, it’s the lack of enforcement of contract law, property and life – Oz

  18. Amanda says:

    Izen: yes, all right. Personally I sigh a bit when I see that everything is now ‘made in China’ — including the tops I just bought from Macy’s. My reaction is about three things: the fact that I’m bored with China — it’s like we’re all becoming Stepford Wives outfitted by the Chinese regime; the fact that so many goods are produced by people — prisoners, work-camp employees — in dehumanizing conditions, so I feel that my low cost is being subsidized by someone else’s agony; and the fact that I still associate Chinese production with the shabby, the dodgy, and the adulterated.

    Had a friend whose family dog, a Boxer like mine, was killed by tainted Chinese dog treats (a couple of years ago). Before that, my husband used a made-in-China soap that gave him the most awful skin reaction (don’t know why he bought it: I guess it was cheap). Just this month, I bought a made-in-China spinning birthday lotus-flower lit-petal cake decoration which supposedly played ‘Happy Birthday’ while the petals unfolded and the candles got lit (from a central flame): this was supposed to sit on the cake via prongs beneath, but mine had no prongs and anyway it was so grubby, there’s no way I’d want it to make contact with food. I sent it back. Oh, and then there’s the whole problem in Florida with houses made with some kind of Chinese wallboard, which turned out to make occupants ill from some contaminant used in the wallboard. Many houses in Florida, built during a certain period, are now unsaleable. Imagine that.

  19. izen says:

    You embarrass me with your eagerness to make what is usually MY case for global regulation of markets!

  20. Dr. Dave says:


    I assume you are an effete Brit so your blinding ignorance of the Tea Party movement is understandable and can be forgiven. I am a citizen of the United States and I live in this country. I am not a subject of the Queen in some little increasingly irrelevant socialist enclave across the Atlantic ocean. Not surprisingly, I have a different perspective.

    The Tea Party movement was amazing and it surprised everyone – right and left alike. The original, core message was a Libertarian one – smaller government, lower taxes, less governmental intrusion and greater personal liberty. The media has worked tirelessly to paint the Tea Party movement as “conservative” or, worse yet, “Republican.” In fact, the Tea Party movement is peopled by Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Libertarians. This movement WAS spontaneous and it WAS grassroots. These folks were (are) truly disgusted by the excesses of Big Government.

    Now, I realize that living under a socialistic tyranny (within an archaic monarchy) is an accepted way of life in the UK…but it’s not here…at least not yet. The Tea Party movement has engaged in behaviors that are held in utter contempt by our liberal, left-wing media. They are critical of their Democrat overlords, they bitch about taxes and regulations, they complain about Big government takeovers, they gripe about crony capitalism that serves to reelect Democrats, they are patriotic, polite and they clean up after themselves. This pisses off our media and inspires the normal working stiff in the private sector.

    The fact is, there is no valid comparison of the Tea Party movement with the fabricated “Occupy movement”. Your characterization of the Occupy crowd as “street theater” is a lot like characterizing the London riots as “street theater.” To the “Occupiers'” credit, at least they haven’t burned down any buildings…yet.

  21. Amanda says:

    Mexico’s problem isn’t lack of market regulation, it’s the lack of enforcement of contract law, property and life – Oz

    Hear, hear. Mexico ought to rename itself Bribes R Us. And that’s only the storefront with the stuff in the windows you can see. Don’t even ask about the head-breaking that goes on in the rooms behind.

  22. Amanda says:

    By the way, when I mentioned the dog that was poisoned by treats, it wasn’t an isolated case: there was a general recall of all treats made under a particular company by a factory or factories in China. Many dogs were affected and there were several deaths (I don’t know the numbers). My dog is my child. I will not give her any treats manufactured in China, and recently when my husband inadvertently bought some, we agreed just to throw them out.

    Life is cheap in China. That is an essential fact that should never be forgotten.

  23. Amanda says:

    Oz: Just saw your comment about ‘hold that thought’: that should be good: we can have a riproaring bunfight, along the lines of ‘Is it lookist to suggest that Ron Paul should not be a model for Brooks Brothers’ Fall 2011 suit line?’ Or how about, ‘Mitt Romney, heartthrob: are his good looks too much even for the American people to take?’ (JFK, by the way, was only ‘good looking’ on the politician scale, though I still prefer him to Brad Pitt, who does not have a face that could launch anything, in my opinion.)

    OK. BTW, there is a border between Iraq and Afghanistan; it’s called Iran and no, we shouldn’t be protecting it – Oz 😉

  24. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave just one point while in the UK we don’t get to select our head of state may I remind you the USA chose Obummer by free vote currently I am of the opinion that giving votes to everyone may not have been a wise move. Given the choice between Elizabeth II and Obummer I know who I would rather have, may her reign be long and may she outlive her son Charles.
    On her death no doubt Australia will become a republic unless they take a shine to her grandson William. Charles may ensure a republic in the UK as well.

    The Westminster system versus the United States’ Congressional system would be a good debate. The wisdom of an unqualified, universal franchise would be an even better one. It’s too good for a blog post (where any drip can go back and google over the gaps in his knowledge); a live debate would be even better. Oh well – Oz 😦

  25. Dr. Dave says:

    Kitler, my dear lad, we did indeed have an abundance of idiots who voted for Obama in 2008. These will be far fewer in number in 2012. But I don’t need to remind you that the populace of the UK voted for Cameron. Further, I don’t need to remind you that you are not eligible to vote for a President of the USA in 2012. It’s one of those TFB things for resident aliens. Imagine that! A productive member of society who holds an honest job and pays taxes is denied the right to vote while a third generation welfare recipient has that right. Go figure!

    I have to say that I’m quite fond of Prince William (and Harry, too). I also have great admiration for the Queen. The problem is your jug eared idiot. And here’s the big difference…we’ll get rid of OUR jug eared idiot in about 12 months. Y’all are stuck with yours.

  26. Kitler says:

    Ozboy or an amalgam of the two the Australian system? You have lots of questions whether an elected upper chamber is superior to an appointed one or even one because your ancestor was in some battle 900 years ago. The beauty of the Westminster system was until Blair that it evolved in an organic fashion like the UK constitution and yes Dr Dave the UK does have one except the UK’s can only be found on many documents developed over a long period of time including many rights which people assume are uniquely American.
    The flaw in the US constitution or it’s strength is it is damned hard to change anything in it or amend it so it can be inflexible to the needs of the age. Which considering our current government might not be such a bad thing after all.
    Another flaw in the US system is the way new laws are crafted so that a bill on say highway construction could end up including an amendment on granting a congressman’s district a new center for lesbian wimmins rights studies or an airport in “bumfuc Egypt” out in the boonies of a state way beyond what could possibly be needed by the local community. If that insanity could be stopped pork barrel spending could be drastically halted and the budget brought under control.

  27. Kitler says:

    In case you are wondering apparently the term “bumfuc Egypt” is a military one meaning in the middle of nowhere and a total s***hole. I can thank my wife for introducing me to the term she’s ex military and if she told me what she did she will have to kill me.

  28. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    “Damn! I’ll make a Libertarian of you yet.
    But to interpret the actions of the collectivist fools in Zucotti Park as decrying… lack of autonomy? And the suppression of individual enterprise??”

    Not quite.
    I think the motivating belief behind the actions of the fools in Zucotti Park is the ‘paranoid victim’ mode. They have abandoned belief in personal autonomy because they have framed events in which all that is wrong with the way society works is the result of the intentional actions of Big Business. The Banks/Capitalism are re-cast as malevolent forces with extreme powers to shape the lives of individuals and societies. The dominant causative agent behind all the economic problems that confront individuals during times of hardship. This mindset means they think they have lost their autonomy because of the existence of a conspiracy by a financial/political cabal that seeks to suppress individual aspirations for its own nefarious ends.

    Most of this derives from political analysis like this-
    Rather good essay on political motivation.

    -“where’s my Ayn Rand T-shirt…”-

    Complex organisational structures emerge from the multiple interaction of many individual enterprises. The Zucotti park/Tea Party types imbue those organisational structures – society/politics/business with sentience and moral agency, the ‘Disney’ error. While Randians seek to deny those structures even exist!

    “Complex organisational structures”… you’re just pushing my buttons Izen, aren’t you – Oz 👿

  29. izen says:

    @- Dr. Dave
    As an effete Brit living under a socialist tyranny my blinding ignorance of the Tea Party is made worse by the fact that my main source of information was watching in awed fascination the antics of Glen Beck and the analysis of TYTtv.

    I spiked the link to prevent it embedding, I hope! I unspiked it – your YouTube contributions are perfectly welcome here – Oz
    No doubt sampling the extremes of US politics is about as informative as trying to grasp UK politics by looking at UKIP and the SPGB.
    Although neither of those have much support from Murdoch….

    -“This movement WAS spontaneous and it WAS grassroots. These folks were (are) truly disgusted by the excesses of Big Government.”-

    Every saturday for most of this year it seems there is a new report of the deaths in Syria after further demonstrations against the government. Each week it seems the government announces it has quelled the insurgents who it claims are agents of foreign interests or islamic extremists. When lives are being lost in conflicts with governments that are to the extreme anti-libertarian, there are real questions about how ‘grassroots’ or manipulated the various ‘Arab Spring’ events have been.
    By comparison the targets of the occupy/tea party movements are the reifications of conspiracy theories.

    I am reluctant to get too deeply into such politics however, it all seems, like economics, to revolve around manipulated concepts and framing narratives. At least in the sciences there is some material data to anchor things in a consistent reality.
    Although Amanda’s remarks about the problem with toxic China products reminds me that there ARE real material consequences of all these politico-economic systems. There was also a scare with contaminated milk as I remember. A chemical added to milk could cause kidney stones. I think a UK politician – Mandleson – made a statement reassuring people that British chocolate was not affected (the risk suggested). Shortly after he went into hospital for the removal of kidney stones…
    Knowing from a brother how extremely painful the condition can be, and given the local(UK) notoriety of the politician… – well poetic justice is rarely so fine! -grin-

  30. Tucci says:

    Several posters here have observed that the cancerous tumor not yet excised from the Oval Office had gotten his “mandate” by way a preponderance of suckers who had gone into their polling places in November 2008 thrilled by the prospect of voting for somebody who looked like a reasonable simulacrum of a Negro.

    Which he ain’t. He’s not even quite completely a mulatto. The Luo people (his paternal side) are considerably intermarried with the Arabs, and there’s much of the Semitic about them. Jeez mate – that’d land me in court down here, same as Andrew Bolt – Oz 😮

    Barry Soebarkah (or “Jean Paul Ludwig,” or “Harrison J. Bounel,” or whatever in hell his name really might be) is about as “authentically Black” as us Sicilians are. Jeez, but the stupid bastich isn’t even culturally American enough to know how to pronounce the word “corpsman.” You can tell that this pucker didn’t spend any time in his childhood playing soldier or watching John Wayne movies on TV.

    He is – and will always be – an alien in the precise definition of that word. An Auslander, a goyische Kopf, a goddam furriner, a faux noir phony, a completely detestable and obviously inept fake.

    Dr. Dave had written to Kitler:

    …we did indeed have an abundance of idiots who voted for Obama in 2008….

    …but this blanks out the fact that what a great many were voting against was not only the perception of Republican corruption, prevarication, and incompetence which was abundantly manifest throughout the administrations of Dubbya (especially during those Congresses prior to the 110th, which were either completely or predominantly controlled by the Red Faction) but also the way in which the Republican establishment had machined the nomination process to ensure that they “did a Dole” in the 2008 presidential election.

    Anybody else reading here remember the presidential contest of 1996? What was the single potential candidate in the Republican Party who was absolutely and incontravertably the least likely to defeat our politically hammered, unarguably criminal, morally bankrupt Irrumator-in-Chief, “Bubba”?

    Why, Bob Dole, the U.S. Senator from Archer Daniels Midland, of course.

    And who did the Republican establishment nominate?

    Yep. They threw that election in 1996. And by nominating “Crash Test Johnnie” McCain in 2008 – an “Enemy Ace,” a former naval aviator who had personally removed five tail numbers from the BuAer inventory – they threw the presidential election to their nominal opponents in the National Socialist Democrat American Party (NSDAP).

    The “Great Recession” in which we are presently enmired was perfectly perceived by 2007, undeniable and inevitable. Not even the professional liars of our permanent institutional “Boot-on-Your-Neck Party” incumbency could deny it any longer, and they knew that it was going to be sustained hell. The Republicans did not want anyone remotely identifiable as one of their own – even a RINO – in the White House when the sh-tstorm struck home.

    Thus they “did a Dole” and ensured that John McCain – the Admiral’s spoiled brat, the Keating Five “constituent services” guy, the Manchurian Candidate who had only a few years before made public noises about going over to the National Socialists a la Arlen Specter – occupied the top of their national ticket.

    While the 2007-2008 gymkhana was being conducted on the Republican side, I observed that the single entry in that horserace who was most effectively guaranteed to lose – whether the National Socialists nominated the Mombasa Messiah or the Woman With One Eyebrow – was the senior U.S. Senator from North Vietnam, a RINO who so thoroughly disgusted even the most “yellow dog” of the Red Faction’s base that not even the Birchers could get up any enthusiasm for supporting him.

    And who did the Rotarian Socialists nominate, Dr. Dave?

    Ah, democracy. “If you had any real choice, they’d make voting illegal.

  31. Amanda says:

    Oz, I don’t think you’ll find many people in America that want to protect Iran from anything, though we might feel sorry for many of its people. You will find quite a few that would be happy to bomb it strategically, such that a nuclear Iran becomes as likely a prospect as a nuclear Rockall. A lot of us still remember the Hostage Crisis, and I don’t think anyone, left, right, or indeterminate, has too much fondness for the man that bears an eery resemblance to my uncle-in-law (sans beard).

    Just yanking your chain Amanda. I suspect a slip of the tongue (we all make them) and what was meant was the Pakistan/Afghanistan border – Oz

  32. Luton Ian says:

    I’ll just turn my back on the “Glass Desert” proposal for a short while…

    I’ve been pondering the ideas around higher education as a capital investment, and possibly as a mal-investment.

    Ok, I know that analogies can lead to dangerous confusion and errors, but I think this one has some merits.

    Just like any capital investment, we can own the qualification, but there is no way in which we can own its value.

    The market decides what that value is, and the person, their attitude and their experience probably makes up more of that value than the title on the degree certificate.

    I was pondering the job market too, and the question of who is the customer?

    My muddled answer is that there are two customers,

    The prospective employer who is buying labour,

    and, the prospective employee who is looking to choose an employer – hence the interview – where both get to choose.

    Just like courtship, it needs both to agree (sorry, another analogy creeping in).

    Just what do these fast food rejects expect?

    it’s a bit like the nerdiest 11 year old expecting to get a date with the hottest girl in the school, and throwing a tantrum when she says “you must be joking!”

    Liquidate that mal-investment boys and girls. The job you get might be ugly and greasy, but that’s all you can get, so go for it!

  33. Luton Ian says:

    Did any of the US or Oz supermarkets ever have singles evenings?

    Mrs Oz (who has many single friends) reckons you show up at 10pm on Monday nights. Put a bunch of bananas in the trolley’s child seat and you’re identified – Oz

  34. Amanda says:

    Oz: Uh-huh. Why is it that I can never seem to remember how eerie should be spelled?

  35. Amanda says:

    P.S. Yanking my chain — you mean like on one of them old-fashioned toilet cisterns? Next time you can yank my mane :^)

  36. Kitler says:

    Ozboy you can rest assured that Tuccis comments on a certain persons racial origins are indeed correct so legally they can do brugger all if it’s the troof. I have always found it funny that the first wookie has married a man descended from a tribe known for their enslavement of Africans and selling them on mainly to the Arabs. Of course if she did know then it must be because it was a better type of slavery since obviously they must have been allowed to go home as their are no descendants of slaves in the middle east.

  37. Dr. Dave says:


    Please forgive me as this is WAY off topic. But I have to ask a question of Tucci. Do you remember a drug called HA-1A? This was a human-murine synthetic chimeric IgM monoclonal antibody to gram negative endotoxin. In theory it was pentavalent. In reality it was probably only di- or tri-valent due to steric hindrance. But medically it was a quantum leap forward.

    50 years ago the mortality associated with gram-negative sepsis was about 50%. Today, after the development of countless effective antimicrobials the mortality remains at about 50%. The problem is not the infection per se, but rather the release of endotoxins by the bacteria which initiate a cascade of events that lead to end-organ failure. Hence the idea to develop HA-1A. This was a monoclonal antibody which would bind with the common J-chain of gram-negative pathogens (i.e. all the enterobacteriacae). Stop the immunologic cascade, prevent mortality and morbidity.

    Though Infectious Disease colleagues swore this stuff was like liquid Lazarus, it only altered mortality by less than 10%. But this was incredibly significant because even the development of effective antimicrobials against pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginiosa hadn’t altered mortality. Therapeutically this was a big step forward. But not for the FDA.

    The FDA HATED this drug. Perhaps you remember Director David Kessler (he was noted for having gone through Med school and Law school simultaneously). The FDA hated this drug because of its high cost and marginal efficacy. A dose of HA-!A was supposed to cost $4,000.

    Here was the big problem. At that time (and today) a practitioner can’t tell a gram-negative sepsis from a gram-positive sepsis from a fungemia from a viremia on initial presentation. So….the obvious course of action is to administer a dose of HA-1A just to be sure (i.e. CYA). At $4,000/dose this was unacceptable to FDA bureaucrats who were primarily lookin’ out for Medicare expenditures.

    The FDA made the company go back and perform all the studies again. This was the death knell for this drug. These studies are extraordinarily expensive to perform. You have to use multiple sites and multiple investigators and it takes a long time to accumulate a significant patient population with documented gram-negative sepsis. In short, they were set up to fail. The company was already in for over $1 billion (over 20 years ago) and decided to cut its losses. The drug never came to market and people die of gram-negative sepsis to this day.. On the bright side, the FDA saved the taxpayer a shitload of money even if it cost us a bunch of unnecessary deaths. Unless ObamaCare is repealed we have a whole lot more of this coming our way..

    In the interest of full disclosure, I was an investor in this company but I was smart enough (or lucky enough) to hold on to my investment after the crash of HA-!A. They had a rich pipeline of new drugs and I was able to cash out with a tidy profit just before the company was bought out by Eli Lilly. The thing is, bureaucrats rather than scientists or the free market decided the fate of HA-1A.

    The fear that sends shivers up my bowels is bureaucrats controlling every aspect of our healthcare system. These (mostly healthy) “occupy movement” dipshits seem to think this would be a wonderful thing. In truth it will prove to be the death of us.

  38. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave nothing wrong with socialized medicine and if you are local GP you get to off over 300 elderly women because they remind you of an overbearing mother isn’t that right Dr Shipman currently residing in hell.

    Socialized medicine… I suspect you’ve just waved a red rag (literally) in front of a bull Kitler, and I’m standing way back… Oz

  39. Kitler says:

    On the plus side he did save the NHS a boatload of money and the government reduced pension outlays.

  40. Kitler says:

    Ozboy well from what I have read both Dr Dave and Tucci are all for socialized medicine.

  41. Dr. Dave says:


    A video by Cenk Uygur? Really? This self-proclaimed “YouTube Sensation” was such a lame partisan hack that even MSNBC shitcanned him and gave his time slot to Al Sharpton. Imagine that! Losing your prime time spot on the idiot’s channel to an idiot race hustler with a room temperature IQ! At least Cenk could form complete sentences.

    But enough of that. You don’t watch a lot of US media, do you? Good for you if you don’t.. NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, PBS and MSNBC are in perpetual pucker mode because FOX News kicks their asses consistently in viewership…combined. But lately even FOX News has become too liberal for my tastes. You have to turn to talk radio and the blogosphere for truth these days. Fortunately these stories are easily verified. Maybe you should try it sometime. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin can all be easily streamed live via the internet. Who knows, it might serve to scrape some of that Marxist mucous off your brain.

    I honestly don’t know why anyone should care who the Koch brothers donate to. Nobody on the left seems to care who George Soros donates to. Maybe you remember George Soros. He was that friendly leftist billionaire who crashed the British Pound. Yeah, good ol’ fashioned currency manipulation. Such a wholesome pursuit.

  42. Dr. Dave says:


    That was some powerfully entertaining stuff!

    John Clarke and Bryan Dawe do their skit each Thursday night AEDST at the conclusion of ABC TV’s 7:30 Report; you can usually catch them on YouTube a few hours later – Oz

  43. farmerbraun says:

    Dr Dave wrote:
    ” The problem is not the infection per se, but rather the release of endotoxins by the bacteria which initiate a cascade of events that lead to end-organ failure.”

    Farmerbraun muses: i deal with these cases in my cows on an irregular basis, but have become increasingly better at saving lives, sometimes with the cow intact. But in every case very early detection is critical because once the toxaemia is away you’re pushing it uphill.
    Invariably it starts as septicaemia as a result of leakage from the mammary gland, which makes it easy to detect because the purple discoloration and cold tissue is immediately obvious. At that stage it is too late to save the udder quarter so you cut off the nipple and let it drain. This combined with the appropriate anti biotic is effective.
    Once you get better at reading the behavioural symptoms you can save the cow intact with intravenous antibiotic before the endotoxin has got too far.
    I guess doctors are slower to excise affected parts; vets don’t mess around.

  44. izen says:

    @- Dr. Dave says: October 24, 2011 at 3:50 pm
    “I honestly don’t know why anyone should care who the Koch brothers donate to. Nobody on the left seems to care who George Soros donates to. Maybe you remember George Soros. He was that friendly leftist billionaire who crashed the British Pound. ”

    You have just given the reason why ANYONE should care who the rich and powerful donate to. They use their wealth and power to pursue their interests. Obviously how George Soros uses his money is significant. Perswonally I follow his investments in social influence as well…
    The Koch industries and many other of the big players are involved in the system of formalized bribery that enables them to write state legislation via the ALEC system. But many have also financed ‘think tanks’ that compose the ‘sound bite’ slogans that the useful idiots then spout.

    I have listened to Limbaugh, the paradigm of the paranoid mode of political ‘thought’!

    I think your comments on the reasons for the FDA blocking a drug are naive. It suffered regulatory capture by big Pharma/medical insurance business long ago. Others (not just those running medicare) may have had an interest in avoiding a very expensive drug that might be used on a CYA basis….

  45. Dr. Dave says:


    Humans don’t necessarily become septic the same way other animals do. Septicemia usually (but not always) starts out as a bacteremia from a particular locus and progresses into a septicemia. By the time a patient is septic they’re in bad shape. Physicians are not shy about lopping off a gangrenous leg or foot or draining an abscess or cutting out icky bits as necessary.

    I was the unfortunate victim of septicemia about three years ago. It literally took months to fulminate (in truth, years). In the late spring of 2008 I just wasn’t feeling well, I had lost all my motivation to go play in the garage or out in the yard. That summer I started having episodes of shaking chills on and off. Like an idiot I wrote these off. In early September I was working my butt off on departmental budgets and starting having abdominal pains on and off. The next Saturday I sat down at my computer with a bowl of spaghetti. One mouthful later and I was in agonizing pain that shot up to my shoulder blade. I self-diagnosed it as having cholelithiasis (a bad gall bladder) and started calling in favors. The surgeon couldn’t help me until I had an ultrasound and the only way to get an ultrasound was to go through the Emergency Department at the hospital. So that Monday I went. About 11 hours later I learned that my gall bladder was fine but that I had an abscess on my liver. This was likely due to some blunt force trauma I sustained falling off my roof three years earlier (these things can take years to form and they’re rather uncommon – but 100% fatal if left untreated). They sent me home with an RX for pain pills (which I didn’t want) and told me to see a gastroenterologist. So once again I started calling in favors. My goal was to tough it out until I got into the GE’s office a week later. Trouble is I became “bad sick” (a technical medical term). By the end of the following weekend my speech was slow and slurred and I could no longer get out of bed unassisted. We’re talking about having world class sweats and shaking chills. I probably drank 3 or 4 liters of water per day and sweated most of that out. In the end I took an ambulance ride into the ER. I was in septic shock with a BP of about 50/29…right above death.

    I’ll spare you all the interesting details. They were interesting to me only because I very nearly died. They stuck a catheter in me and sucked about 3 oz of pus out of my liver and put me on broad spectrum antibiotics. I was in ICU for about a week and on a regular hospital floor for about another week. Had I not been such a jackass know-it-all and just went back to the hospital when I started talking funny I probably would only have had a 3 day stay instead of two weeks.

    But that’s the way sepsis often works in humans. You go from being a little sick to “bad sick” real fast. In my case the culprit had been festering for months (if not years).

  46. Luton Ian says:

    Dr Dave,
    How does the bug get loose inside your abdominal cavity? Clearly it managed to.

    Farmer Braun,
    I can sympathise. Draining a quarter is brutal but very effective way to save a life and the other quarters.

    The smell of chronic mastitis has got to be one of the most difficult to wash off hands, it spoils the enjoyment of tea and sandwiches for about a week!

    My brother had septicaemia a few years back, from a cut on his finger. My mother spotted the burst blood vessels spreading up his wrist and took him to A&E. he had a drip in him in seconds and was in bed on a ward within minutes! A family friend had a much, much slower version, and like Dr Dave’s it manifested itself as lack of energy and sweats. It wrecked his heart valves.

  47. Luton Ian says:


    That youtube is brilliant

    Thanks for posting

  48. Tucci says:

    At 2:22 AM on 25 October, Luton Ian had written to Dr Dave:

    How does the bug get loose inside your abdominal cavity? Clearly it managed to.

    Ian, potentially pathogenic microorganisms percolate through every tissue population in the body all the goddam time. They’re pretty much ubiquitous, but so is the immune system.

    When they get a chance to escape the “attention” of cellular and humoral immune system components in abnormal spaces – as in a traumatic liver cyst – they can begin establishing themselves as nidi of infection from which they can propagate in the bloodstream or the lymphatic system, and then hell’s out for hot coffee.

    One of the ways in which a parasitic liver cyst – courtesy of Echinococcus or Entamoeba histolytica – can lead to “bad sick” (as in Dead Right Goddam Fast) is when a bacterial pathogen takes up housekeeping in the space created by the bigger bug. Very rare, but reason quite sufficient to go after the parasites with extirpation in mind whenever you spot ’em.

    Luton Ian continues:

    The smell of chronic mastitis has got to be one of the most difficult to wash off hands, it spoils the enjoyment of tea and sandwiches for about a week!

    Same thing with just about any abscess. I even know psychiatrists who have horror stories to tell about how they’d encountered really “ripe” infected sebaceous cysts (also called “epidermal inclusion cysts” or with more of a pathologist’s precision steatocystomas) during their clinical training years, the contents of which are damned nasty-smelling even when they’re not accompanied by bacteria lunching out therein.

    The pressure in those infected cysts (as with other abscesses) can get so high that the first nick with a Number-11 blade spatters bloody, stinking crap all to hellangone over the place.

    You think that the drainage from chronic bovine mastitis is bad when you get it on your hands? Try getting whacked with a squirt of something just as malodorous (if not as voluminous) all over your face. You learn damned quick never to go after anything of its kind without a pad of four-by-fours over your point of incision, and maybe a mask-and-face-shield combination in the bargain.

  49. Kitler says:

    Tucci are you talking about boils in us regular laymans terms, it’s best just to pop them yourself with a sterilized pin and apply a very warm compress to draw out the wonderful mess, then apply peroxide to take care of the bugs. Having unfortunately had two of those in my life time I can safely say they hurt like heck. However I will leave internal abcesses to the professionals.

  50. Luton Ian says:

    I got a face full and mouth full of septic tank contents a few months back. I know exactly where you are coming from with the malodorous projectiles!

    A pal’s young employee made the mistake of laughing at my misfortune.

    I’m not usually vindictive, life is far too short, BUT…
    It’ll be in kind, and not at my instigation ;-)}.

    I’ll be double checking the fluke drenching schedule, the habitat here is perfect for the buggers (I once caught a tiny bunny, with the intention of feeding it to some injured stoat kittens I was looking after – at about 4 or 5 weeks old, its liver was full of necrotic tracks, and I threw it away). I already have a war of attrition started on thistles, gorse and bracken. I’m also planning an attack on “Pink Eye” (sometimes caused by Chlamydia – which I do not want circulating in the flock) which some of the poorer lambs develop this time of year.

    Luckily this isn’t tick ground, but the EU has just banned “Asulam”, the only herbicide which was licensed here which is effective on bracken. The US EPA and FDA license it for use on sugar cane for human consumption, but apparently it is too effective on spinach for the EU’s liking, not that spinach and bracken grow side by side, but I’m not claiming that politics and logic have any kind of relationship at all.

  51. Tucci says:

    At 5:23 AM on 25 October, Kitler errs yet again, writing:

    Tucci are you talking about boils in us regular laymans terms, it’s best just to pop them yourself with a sterilized pin and apply a very warm compress to draw out the wonderful mess, then apply peroxide to take care of the bugs.

    Nope. Subcutaneous abscesses – “boils” and suchlike – are etiologically, histopathologically, and clinically quite a bit different from infected epidermal inclusion cysts, and they really have to be handled differently.

    As for this “pop them yourself with a sterilized pin” horsehockey, you go right ahead. It’s friggin’ useless (because if a pinprick could really get drainage, the damned thing was going to bust and drain spontaneously anyhow) and even a mite bit dangerous (because squeezing them to express the pus through a pinhole can and not uncommonly does result in further furunculosis, localized cellulitis and maybe even worse infection).

    But I do love the religious faith some idiots vest in the application of hydrogen peroxide “to take care of the bugs.”

    As Heinlein once put it, “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

  52. Luton Ian says:

    So that’s what those things are!

    Thanks for the Link Tucci,

    I’ve seen one or two sheep which develop them all over. Sheep are particularly good at developing nasty abscesses, they can’t pick or squeeze, they don’t groom themselves, and they do their best to hide any signs of discomfort.

    Usually when a sheep starts to act unwell, it is already far beyond the point of no return. Many manage to drop dead without having given away any clues that they were unwell.

    I have a couple which are showing pustular dermatitis at the moment, it looks hideous, and I can vouch that it is sore, I’ve had it a few times, but it is viral ( a pox virus), and as soon as they get properly started eating cereals (apparently an acquired taste!), their immune systems pick up and it disappears.

    I’m told that blue tongue is no worse, but the UK created a major crisis out of it a few years back.

  53. Dr. Dave says:


    I wish you would have been on duty the day I first presented to the ER. The ER doc was easily more than a decade younger than me and (I’m guessing) had never seen a hepatic abscess. The radiologist made the Dx for him. Truth be told, I had never seen a hepatic abscess. An FP pal of mine had seen several and knew all about them. The most important take-home message was not to send the patent home with an Rx for Percocet and wash your hands of it. The interventional Radiologist saved my life a week later. Neat trick. I never did figure out how they do all that in a CT scanner.

    Though I could barely speak, the first question out of my mouth was “what’s the organism?” I had my fingers crossed that it wasn’t Pseudomonas aeruginosa or some eukaryotic parasite (by this time I had had a chance to hit the on-line literature). It was Strep milleri. Go figure. They had me on Pip/Tazo the whole time I was in the hospital and TID Aug 875 mg for 3 weeks afterwards. I discovered that high dose amoxicillin stinks and that it seeps out of your pores. It also produces diarrhea that green apples would be envious of!

    But Tucci, you provided the most erudite explanation of my affliction. Incredibly insightful and incredibly accurate. What amazed me was how utterly ignorant so much of the medical community was (except for one particularly astute internist and a number of “old guy” FPs). The internist was really cool. This guy didn’t know me from Adam yet he was absolutely LIVID that some idiot ER doc sent me home after a diagnosis of hepatic abscess had been made (following 2 untrasounds and 2 CT scans). He’s now my personal physician. The last guy was an FP who retired at the age of 60 and moved to Belize. I should be so lucky!

  54. Luton Ian says:

    My estranged managed to get what looked like a boil on her face and turned out to be a bot fly grub, in rural southern Mexico. I’m unreliably informed that Belize takes those critters to a whole new level of nastiness.

  55. Luton Ian says:

    Dr Dave,
    As I get older, I get more resigned to expecting that from people working in any field.

    One in ten is excellent, two more are good, four are mediocre with good and bad days, two are very poor and should be doing something much less demanding, and the last one should have been fired with extreme prejudice a long long time ago.

    The field, age and the level doesn’t seem to matter. For at least three in ten, the Peter Principle is alive, kicking and working overtime.

    Thank heavens for the Internist.

    Your mention of protazoa reminded me that one of my estranged’s travelling companions thought that she should be eating and drinking what the locals did, she very soon found an amoeba, or rather it found her and soon established a family. Estranged said it worked better than any fancy weight loss diet she’s ever heard of.

  56. Tucci says:

    At 7:35 AM on 25 October, Dr. Dave had written to me:

    I wish you would have been on duty the day I first presented to the ER.

    So do I. You sure as hell wouldn’t have been discharged on my watch until I’d had you seen by the cutter on call, and he would almost certainly have admitted you.

    I came up in small, rural community hospitals in flyover country. No residents, no house staff at all. You didn’t pull in your on-call guys unless absolutely necessary because all of ’em had full office and/or procedural schedules, or were covering for a couple of other guys in their specialties on week-ends and holidays. When I had to unbend and give them a call on a patient whom they hadn’t seen before, they knew it was something that shouldn’t wait for the next morning.

    Either they’d see you in my Emergency Department or you would not have been allowed to leave my Emergency Department without signing out A.M.A.

    I really haven’t seen all that many hepatic cysts or abscesses, but I trained in places in the Midwest where everybody maintains a high clinical index of suspicion. Moreover, I’ve still got the next-to-last edition of Early Diagnosis of the Acute Abdomen actually published by Sir Zachary Cope knocking around in my library somewhere, along with Hamilton Bailey’s Demonstrations of Physical Signs in Clinical Surgery (13th or 14th Edition, I think). I’m not a knife-artist, but I can’t stand the notion of letting something dangerous get past me.

    Besides, unlike American surgeons, it’s been my impression that the Limey docs who call themselves “Mister” can really write, both lucidly and effectively. They also seem to see a bunch more hydatid cysts than do most American docs on either coast.

    Anent HA1A (Centoxin, Centocor), I remember the stuff about the product that got into the general-circulation journals back in the early ’90s. With your reminder I was able to pull up and re-read Zeigler et al (and the HA-1A Sepsis Study Group) from N Engl J Med 1991; 324:429-436, 14 February, together with letter comments in a subsequent issue, N Engl J Med 1991; 325:279-283 July 25 as well as McCloskey et al (and the CHESS Study Group) from Annals of Internal Medicine 1994; 121(1):1-5 July 1 and thus the conclusion that the antiendotoxin monoclonal antibody (MAB) approach Centocor had taken so excitingly was pretty much a dead end. The treatment guidelines published by Natanson et al in Annals of Internal Medicine 1994;120:771-783 May 1 held that:

    In summary, antiendotoxin core-directed antibodies have not shown an important survival benefit in 10 clinical trials, and the cross-protection hypothesis remains unproved. Whether endotoxin is an appropriate therapeutic target for the treatment of septic shock is still unclear.

    I remember being damned disappointed about it, but I didn’t have your insight into what was going on in Malvern at the time. I regret to report that I got pretty much out of emergency medicine and therefore hospital-level acute interventions altogether in the mid-’90s, and had been doing nothing much beyond primary care grunt office work since.

    You know the drill. “Doctor, I’m so depressed, and I want to try that [fill in the blank heavily advertised latest-and-greatest] to see if it’ll work for me” and “But vaccines cause autism!” (you’re an adult, and that’s why you don’t wanna get a ‘flu shot this year?) and “Doc, I read where this medicine I’ve been taking for the last ten years for my blood pressure can affect male potency. You think maybe that’s why I can’t get it on with the old lady more than once a night?”

    Trust me, Dr. Dave, I ain’t anywhere near the demon diagnostician and hot-shot therapeutic expert for whom you’re mistaking me.

    Just another L.M.D. out there reciting Shepard’s Prayer every morning.

    But, oh, yeah, I do remember the reign of David Kessler at the FDA.

    Trouble is, I don’t think ozboy wants us using that kind of language on his Website.

    Naahh, fine with me, Tucci. I still think I’ve got one of the more interesting blogs going around, and that’s got very little to do with me – Oz

  57. Dr. Dave says:


    I have to relate this tale to you because I’m sure you would appreciate it. Until the abscess incident of 3 years ago I had always been in great health. We’re talkin’ normal BP and lipids, perhaps a little arthritis, seasonal allergies and occasional heartburn. Not bad for a guy in his early 50s. So I take the ambulance ride into the ER. I didn’t know the ER docs but a couple of the other guys they called in I had known for years. They stuck me about a dozen times trying to get a line in. Finally they resorted to the hollowed out 16 penny nail and hit a vein (I have scars to this day). Anyway, they’re dumping NS into me wide open. I look up and see several spent bags on the IV hook. Then they decide to dump albumin in me and couldn’t remember the dose. Though I could barely speak I told them. So I’m just laying there and I hear one of them order Levophed. I said, “Levophed?” Yup! They had to get my BP up. Now, I’ve seen Levophed (norepinephine) used a bunch of times throughout my career. We used to call it “Leave-’em-dead” because the recipients were usually celestial discharges. This spooked me. Let me tell you – a bolus injection of norepi is a singularly unpleasant experience! It feels like lava is running through your veins. The first injection was terrible, but second was even worse!

    What was astounding is that I conveyed to these folks my diagnosis as soon as I got there and explained that I had been in the ER a week earlier. They acted like they had figure it out from scratch! I was attended to by a bevy of hospitalists and various and sundry specialists (quite an impressive list at the end…but I had good insurance). What amazed me was the list of discharge diagnoses. I came in because I was in septic shock due to a hepatic abscess. I left with a diagnosis of CHF (because they induced it with saline and albumin), COPD (because I reported I’ve had mild asthma since I was 20), sleep apnea (because I told them I sometimes snore if I sleep on my back), GERD (because I occasionally take OTC omeprazole for heartburn) and amazingly “gait disturbance”. “Gait disturbance?” Hell, I had to use a walker and learn to walk all over again!

    None of the gravity of the event really sunk in until I was out of the hospital for a couple of weeks. Then I realized just how close to death I came and it rattled me. To this day I’m astounded by how I can see imminent peril in other people’s lives and ignored it my own life.

  58. Dr. Dave says:


    When I was in school the University had a program called the Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC). I was singularly uninterested. Every year they would corral a bunch of med students, dental students, nursing students and pharmacy students and send them down to the Dominican Republic (one slim notch up from Haiti) and let them play doctor with the impoverished native population. They quite literally had to ride donkeys to some of these villages. The dental students had the best stories (in my opinion). They would chop a hole in the roof of a hut to let sunlight in and had people manning hand cranks to run their drills. Now THAT’S rustic!

    But quite a few of them came home with raging cases of giardiasis. We’re talking nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, anorexia and (foul) flatulence. They all lost a whole lot of weight. One professor of mine told me his wife wouldn’t sleep with him for over a month because of the foul flatus.

  59. Kitler says:

    Tucci funny cause it worked for me and if you think the hole stays small you are mistaken it drains very well over a few days. Because I will be damned if I ever have to deal with another bloody health insurance company ever, going to the doctor bit is fine (well depends on the Doctor if I ever catch another prescribing antibiotics for a viral infection I’m going to scream and none of this secondary infection brollox). Anyhow the doctor bit is the good part however the massive blood pressure raising health insurance a**holes makes the whole experience moot in my mind these days I don’t need the heart attack or stroke from them, dealing with the BS for months.

  60. Kitler says:

    Hydrogen Peroxide is a natural bug killer which is they thought they had found no life from the Viking 1 and 2 missions on Mars check your facts Dr Spock.

  61. Kitler says:

    Well I shall be writing to the POTUS shortly recommending an NHS style health care system you know it makes sense. Then when all the Doctors resign we can import better ones from third world countries whose standards must be higher than ours obviously. Plus they work for half the money.

  62. Dr. Dave says:


    Here’s how you go about draining a sebaceous cyst at home:

    Yummy, huh?

  63. Kitler says:

    Finally I found the story about a potential cancer cure and the AMA versus the little guy profit versus free, probably doesn’t work but an interesting story nonetheless…..

  64. Tucci says:

    At 11:47 AM on 25 October, Dr. Dave had written about events circa 3 years ago in which he’d been trucked to the body-and-fender ship, where:

    They stuck me about a dozen times trying to get a line in. Finally they resorted to the hollowed out 16 penny nail and hit a vein (I have scars to this day). Anyway, they’re dumping NS into me wide open. I look up and see several spent bags on the IV hook. Then they decide to dump albumin in me and couldn’t remember the dose. Though I could barely speak I told them. So I’m just laying there and I hear one of them order Levophed. I said, “Levophed?” Yup! They had to get my BP up. Now, I’ve seen Levophed (norepinephine) used a bunch of times throughout my career. We used to call it “Leave-’em-dead” because the recipients were usually celestial discharges. This spooked me. Let me tell you – a bolus injection of norepi is a singularly unpleasant experience! It feels like lava is running through your veins. The first injection was terrible, but second was even worse!

    Egad. Through a peripheral line? WTF? W-T-F’edy-F’ing-F?

    Bubbeleh, I’m the “Marcus Welby” type, and even I can get a central line in there when I gotta get aggressive with fluid resuscitation. The right internal jugular might as well have a tattoo reading “Number 14 Right Here, Stupid!” Like you didn’t have anybody in that Emergency Department who’d done an ATLS cert course in the past couple of years?

    At the very least, it should be possible for the ED guy to get a line in place to deliver fluids and monitor central venous pressure, and you can jigger fluid resuscitation with estimations on that basis to reduce the chances (and severity) of fluid overload.

    Which is what happened to you. You didn’t develop congestive heart failure; your circulatory system simply got overloaded. You were subjected to something I once heard called “Feinberg’s test of life,” named after a hapless first-year resident who’d received onto his service a patient with an acute myocardial infarction. Young Feinberg started a peripheral line with a liter bag of normal saline (which, as you know, is a no-no in any CCU, where you use maybe a 250 cc bag of half-normal for any such purpose). After getting the IV, he left the bag to flow without restriction, and in a few minutes had dumped the whole liter into the patient’s circulatory system, driving the poor guy into acute failure.

    Ah, but the senior house staff jumped in and resuscitated the patient, whereupon the chief resident pronounced that the patient’s long-term prognosis was extraordinarily good.

    “If Feinberg couldn’t kill him with that, nothing else was gonna do him in.”

    Sure enough, the patient recuperated and was chugging along fine when lost to follow-up five years later.

    What you got was sort of Feinberg Firehosing, and without even a central line to permit a rough indirect estimation of what was happening to pressure in the pulmonary artery.

    As for the idiotic overkill of final diagnoses, have you no experience with Diagnosis-Related Groups (DRG’s)? Medical Records wants every damned thing they can get so that their DRG specialists can cobble together the classification that gets the highest likelihood of maximum remittance from the third-party payors.

  65. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave that was way cool I’m glad I wasn’t eating right now. As much as accidentally turning around during my ex’s C section and seeing bits of the body that are not normally outside the body.

  66. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave let tell how real sausages are made sometime, somethings a man is not to ken of. I made a mean Italian hot sausage.

  67. Tucci says:

    At 1:46 PM on 25 October, Kitler aims his blunderbuss directly at his own foot and lets off a blast that lands right on target, writing:

    Hydrogen Peroxide is a natural bug killer which is they thought they had found no life from the Viking 1 and 2 missions on Mars check your facts Dr Spock.

    Yeah, and if you get somebody doing a skin prep with nothing but hydrogen peroxide solution and then applies nothing but hydrogen peroxide when dressing an infected wound, you find yourself a nice, cheap malpractice lawyer and learn the words to How the Money Rolls In!

    Kitler, we don’t prep with hydrogen peroxide, and we don’t dress with hydrogen peroxide, because once hydrogen peroxide undergoes the chemical change by which it does what extremely transient microbicidal work it can, it leaves behind plain old water.

    Last time I looked, the CDC was recommending 2% chlorhexidine solution as skin prep, with a plain dry sterile absorbent gauze dressing to absorb drainage – no antimicrobial creams or ointments need be applied – postoperatively. You do not want a wad of gauze soaked with former hydrogen peroxide (now pure water) left in situ over the surgical wound.

    Exacerbates edema, facilitates maceration, wicks in outside bacteria, fosters fungi, and does no friggin’ good whatsoever.

    You’d do better heeding the story of the U.S. naval aviator who had to ditch his plane after getting shot up in an attack on the Japanese. He’d taken some fragments in one leg, and when he was pulled out of the water two days later, he was asked by the surgeon aboard the destroyer what he’d been able to do in the way of first aid.

    The aviator had to think for a minute. His life raft had been shot full of holes, and all he’d had was his personal flotation vest.

    So he replied: “Well, I soaked it in salt water for 48 hours.”

  68. Kitler says:

    Tucci you Doctor types don’t impress me with your science, actually I just used it to cleanse the outside of the wound and then dried it up immediately, although if I wished to use natural methods salt water is a good old fashioned stand by as is honey. Anything that induces water loss in the bacteria. Next you will be telling me you don’t know which plant to use for nettle stings.
    What I have found is that superficial things like boils or even limited small area serious burns which happened when I discovered a law of physics in reguards to gasoline cold nights and bonfires are usually self healing and if you just keep them clean heal on there own except for the hair on my shins. The human body is good at fixing itself on a limited level.
    That which does not kill me makes me feel very sheepish indeed they even let me use chain saws.

  69. Kitler says:

    I even discovered there is a reason you wear chain mail gloves when you prepare meat for customers.

  70. Tucci says:

    At 2:17 PM on 25 October, Dr. Dave embeds a YouTube video of somebody performing an incise-and-express on an uninfected epidermal inclusion cyst and writes to Kitler:

    Here’s how you go about draining a sebaceous cyst at home:

    At home or in the office, that technique sucks. It almost always results in retention of the cyst wall in some part, and recurrence is just too damned common to suit my taste. I’ll only do it that way if it’s infected, and then I expect to have to come back at the lesion again in six months or a year.

    I got taught a better technique by a plastic surgeon a few decades ago. It was developed to get rid of facial sebaceous cysts, but I’ve found that it works fine with unscarred, “treatment-naive” steatocystomata anywhere I’ve found them.

    It’s quick, neat, and heals with minimal scarring (which is why the plastic surgeons use it).

    First, you arm a big sterile syringe (I like one of about 10cc capacity simply because it gives me a bigger handle) with an inch-and-a-half long 25-gauge needle, and draw up four or five cubic centimeters of 1% lidocaine solution. Use the combo with epinephrine if you figure it’s appropriate. Inject an intradermal or subcutaneous “diamond” all around the cyst to secure anesthesia. That should take no more than about two cc’s. Then get the tip of your needle under the cyst and inject about one cc of the solution, both for anesthesia and to induce some edema in whatever connection exists between the bottom of the cyst and the underlying fascia.

    Take a 4- or 5-mm dermal biopsy punch and, locating the pore of the gland responsible for having created the cyst, center upon it and core down into the cyst until you’re into its volume, then withdraw the punch. With a fine toothed set of forceps, grab the plug, pull it up and out.

    Now express the contents of the cyst. With a 4- or 5-mm-wide path, that’s not going to be difficult. Empty it of the “sebum,” and then continue expressing until the cyst wall begins to “turn out” like a trousers pocket, Grasp the cyst wall with your forceps and encourage it to continue coming “inside out” with careful traction. It will commonly depart its tenuous connection with the bordering loose subcutaneous tissue and may require a little sharp dissection to get it completely divorced therefrom. I like using a small sharp/sharp tissue scissors, though a Number-10 blade can also be effective.

    Once the cyst wall has been delivered – and the damned thing will almost always come out looking something like an evacuated grape skin – there’s generally little or no bleeding and no cyst content left in there to cause irritation in the healing wound.

    If the cyst isn’t too damned big (gotta make a judgement call there), it isn’t necessary to pack or use iodoform gauze to wick the cavity. The plastic surgeons never do that on the small ones they remove from patients’ faces, and I’ve never judged it necessary to do that. I certainly wouldn’t have bothered with anything the size of the lesion given the slice-and-squeeze treatment shown in that video.

    One suture closes the opening made by the biopsy punch, or it can be left to close by secondary intention. A dry sterile dressing finishes the job.

    Takes less time to do it than to write it up, and scarring is damn’ near unnoticeable in most cases.

    As a boy, I visited the office (then preserved as a museum) of Crawford W. Long, the GP in rural Georgia who performed the world’s first surgical procedure – the excision of a wen from the neck of one of his patients – under inhaled general anesthesia, using diethyl ether, on March 30, 1842.

    That was more than four years before Morton did it at Mass General up in Bah-stun.

    So let’s hear it for us primary care grunts, okay?

    You’re talking to a blogmeister who grew his beard at age sixteen in order to cover up acne scarring, which by then had turned his face into something resembling a moonscape. Not covered by the beard are my temples, shoulders, chest and back, which still bear the evidence of puberty’s reluctance to accelerate the growth of sebaceous follicles at the same rate as that of sebum production. At forty-eight I don’t give a damn, but for a teenager I can attest the results can be rather demoralizing. So I wish I’d known all that thirty-something years ago – Oz

  71. Kitler says:

    Tucci I can safely say I know when I should visit a primary care physician and when not to waste his time with minor stuff as you guys have more important things to do, people had to treat themselves not so long ago and folk remedies worked probably the placebo affect at work for minor ailments. As for nettle stings you use a broad leaf weed plant called a Doc Leaf it counteracts the sting, bumps to the head as a child were “healed” using butter it has the effect of soothing the pain don’t ask me why it just does must be the fat. Hot compresses to boils work very well if very painful. Baby teeth are extracted by a mother using a handkerchief when they are loose.
    Most remedies are probably total fluff but the cure for headaches comes from the folk remedy by chewing on willow leaves.

  72. Dr. Dave says:


    I hope you realize I linked to that video as a joke! I’ve very rarely ever had to treat any of these things. I used to approach it old-fashioned cowboy style. Numb up the area with 1% lido w/epi, make an appropriately large enough incision and dig everything out. Two or three sutures would close up the wound once it’s been well irrigated. I haven’t had to mess with one of these in probably 10 years (I do mostly administrative and consulting work in a managed care environment these days).

    I have to admit, though, that the technique you describe seems to make a lot more sense. Faster and easier.

    I had to chuckle at your description of the powerful antimicrobial effect of H2O2 (you forgot about the “scrubbing bubbles”). I’m a povidone-iodine guy for wounds and a chlorhexidine guy for hands.

  73. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave the peroxide contrary to your world view destroys the mucus membranes of bacteria well at least in the case of 99% of bacteria. In fact it kills most single celled organisms.

  74. Dr. Dave says:


    When I was about 10 I learned all about nettles (steep learning curve to be sure). I learned to identify them and stay away. Why would anyone chew willow leaves when you can buy aspirin at any grocery or convenience store? But let me ask you…what herbal remedy would you recommend for a scorpion sting? Now there’s an experience in acute pain that nobody will forget anytime soon.

    About 20 years ago I was working on some fence and like an idiot wasn’t wearing gloves. I picked up a 4×4 and immediately dropped it. It felt like I had just jabbed a nail through my finger. The SOB nailed me right on the distal end of my right middle finger. I could just barely detect the tiniest of a little mark where I was stung. Scorpions, unlike the hymenoptera (e.g. ants, bees and wasps) inject a neurotoxin that doesn’t produce a localized wheal and flare reaction. But the higher density of nerves in the area of the sting, the greater the pain. The pain was unbelievable! It shot up my arm like an electric current. Within minutes my tongue and lips were tingling. The only relief I could find was holding an ice cube on my finger. If I took the ice away my hand would actually shake because of the pain.

    Turns out there’s not a damn thing you can do about it except wait for the toxin to wear off. I even talked to an ER doc about it. He told me there’s nothing you can do except wait. Scorpions have been around a LONG time. Where’s the herbs and spices coalition when we need a home remedy?

  75. Luton Ian says:

    I’ve seen a really flamboyant panic from a couple of Angolan fencing contractors when they disturbed a centipede the thickness of a finger from its lair.

    They were like a pair of little girls, squealing and jumping, then throwing stones at it. Neither came anywhere near to getting a nip and the centipede was far more interested in getting away from daylight.

    I’ve been cautious with the very few African scorpions that I’ve found. I remember a school friend telling me how far the one he was poking with a stick had jumped, and how much he said it hurt.

    A Kenyan geologist told me that African snakes don’t like the taste of geologist. I’ve come across plenty of people who’ve got the scars from an encounter with a puff adder (very immobile cyto-toxic venom it kills the tissue around the bite), but none were geologists.

    A mining engineer pal did sit under a tree in a remote diamond mining part of Angola with one of his colleagues for the 15 or 20 minutes that it took for a cobra bite to do its work. Shortly after that he got to thinking that all of the guys who he worked with when he’d started that job were dead, so he came home to Britain and his wife and kids.

    Some folk remedies were pretty potent. My estranged’s granny said that in southern Italy, the women would give their babies poppy tea, so they would sleep while the women worked in the fields. I can just imagine the response from the US FDA and DEA!

    Expropriated fields as the first move…

  76. izen says:

    Ahhh, medical machismo, my illness was worse than yours – I’ve seen a smellier, bigger nastier cyst than you….
    I can’t compete with that, I’ve never even broken a bone, and apart from the usual gamut of childhood infections and the odd bout of norovirus I remain healthy… if horerendously unfit!

    Just one pedantic correction, Crawford Long was beaten to the first inhalation aneasthesia for a surgical procedure by a couple of months in the US by William Edward Clarke and Eliajh Pope….

    All modern societies require some sort of collective provision of medical care, if only for emergency cases. This is not alturistic, the consequences of NOT treating trauma or infection in the general population are far too socially disruptive to tolerate. Like sewage systems healthcare is a basic service required for high density urban living.

    The trouble of course is that whenever a social health system emerges the doctor-patient relationship is compromised by the accountants. Whether those are goverment or insurance accountents matters little, both imposed some form of ‘managed care’ on the patient by constraining the treatments available to the medic.
    Arguments about the relative merits of socialized or private health care rather miss the point. Both systems need the management of doctors to constrain costs.
    The US system enjoys very high quality, but with less than universal access, and it is a system costing nearly twice as much as the best systems in France, Germany and Scandinavia.
    The US also has ill health being a major cause of personal debt and banckruptcy. A side effect not seen in state funded systems.

  77. Tucci says:

    At 4:44 PM on 25 October, Dr. Dave had written of that punch biopsy “cookie cutter” approach to uncomplicated intradermal inclusion cysts:

    I used to approach it old-fashioned cowboy style. Numb up the area with 1% lido w/epi, make an appropriately large enough incision and dig everything out. Two or three sutures would close up the wound once it’s been well irrigated.

    That’s what still has to be done with steatocystomata which have been previously hacked upon, or which had become otherwise cicatrized by inflammation (usually infectious). The old ellipsoidal incision along the skin lines, the finicky dissection (don’t penetrate the cyst!) to separate the lesion from surrounding and underlying tissues, the sutures or skin staples, yadda-yadda. Big tsimmis.

    I’m the most thumb-fingered excuse for a surgeon you ever saw, years ‘n years in the Emergency Department notwithstanding, so you can’t imagine how tickled all all to hellangone I was when that half-drunken plastic surgeon described the “cookie cutter” technique to me all those years ago.

    There’s more reason than all those CME credits for attending those stupid “all hands” state and regional conventions. Get some of these specialists liquored up enough, and the conversations can be real learning experiences.

  78. Amanda says:

    Tucci: Well you know what they say: Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker. Mind you, I’ve got enough gore and dead bodies to read about with one of my hundred or so new books (I can’t resist buying new ones when I haven’t even got round yet to the last batch), Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore And Reality, by Paul Barber (new edition).

  79. Amanda says:

    Oz: Nature is a cruel mother, with many mysterious carrots and even more mysterious sticks. She beats us with those sticks for not playing the game right — when we didn’t even know there was a game on.

    The hippies in your picture above — maybe — would like us all to be ‘closer to nature’. But what does that mean? Nature red in tooth and claw? Nature lousy? Nature nasty, poor, brutish and short? Or what I prefer: the angel of our better natures, perhaps. The nature that is specific to humans: upward-looking, seeking justice and mercy, tending to the wounds that the careless world has given us. As humans we need what we ourselves make, more than any other creature needs what it makes. Our whole humanity depends on it, since nature sets us up and makes us vulnerable but does not really care for us or protect us, never mind give us what is needed to make the most of what we (naturally) have. Complicated, isn’t it?

  80. As the EU continues to collapse, As the British are denied their chance to vote, but Dave Camerons government starts to rebel. Chris the Huhne tells us…Don’t Shill for Shally…


  81. Luton Ian says:

    Brilliance Fen!

    I think the Sabden Shale has acquired a prosthetic “H” somewhere along the strat column’s journey to us.

    I listened to a program a while back. Some town in the arse end of Arkansas or Missouri, where the deep disposal wells for waste formation and fraqing water had induced tiny trwmors, far too small to feel, and many orders of magnitude too small to cause even hairline cracking of the plaster skim over joins in plaster board (Timber frame construction common in the US is way more tolerant of ground movement than UK brick construction).

    What had the state geol survrey gone and done?

    got a 12 month stop put on any drilling fraqing, or injection of waste water!

    all for something that no one could feel, and which had no ill effects.

  82. Luton Ian says:

    When I first started visiting LG, I commented about what applying the precautionary principal to socialists and statists might look like.

    Given the 200 million plus who ended up in mass graves in the 20th century, not as a result of war, but murder by governments, it probably got me put on several little lists of those who never will be missed.

    I discovered the other day that an economist, Robert Higgs, has done a lot of thinking about that iteration of the precautionary principal applied to the Leviathan, and about the “ratchet effects” of ever increasing statist interference

  83. Woops!….So it has Luton Ian. I was thinking ‘Shale’ and typing ‘Sabden’…My bad.

    …..Shister Sushi showing shirts for shoulders.

  84. Amanda says:

    So it gets violent: is anyone here surprised? To the guy holding the sign that read: ‘People Before Profits’, I would counter that his protest group wants to put Handouts Before People And Profits. Where is the moral virtue in that?

    The commentary below is beautifully put, so I thought I’d share it.

    ‘The outbreak of violence during an Occupy event in Oakland, California illustrated the underlying threat that was always lurking beneath the surface of entitlement that characterized the wave of leftist demonstrations around the country. But the fact that one person injured during the attempt of the demonstrations to reclaim an area that had already been declared by the city to be off limits has already changed the narrative to one of heroic martyrdom and alleged police brutality from the misbehavior of the Occupy crowd.

    The fractured skull of Scott Olsen, a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq, is being put forward as a rallying point by the Occupy movement as vigils are being held in his honor around the country. But Olsen’s injury is serving to obscure the fact that the Oakland crowd was throwing rocks at police in an attempt to have their way. Rather than being a symbol of a victim of “corporate greed” and the “war economy,” the behavior of Olsen and his fellow Occupiers illustrates the fundamentally undemocratic and brutish nature of the demonstrators that gives the lie to attempts by the liberal mainstream media to cast as them as a reasonable answer to the law-abiding and peaceful Tea Party’.

    This collection of stories from Andrew Bolt’s column – Oz

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