Angry Doctor

Friday, May 29, 2009

House MD summarised

Pretty much like that...


Consider reading it

angry doc just found out that Professor Mark Featherstone, whose letter he mentioned in an earlier post, is in fact a regular columnist for The Straits Times, and keeps a blog here.

angry doc highly recommends it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Theme Song

To complement the new blog header, angry doc has adopted a theme song for the blog; click on the music player on the sidebar to listen to it (angry doc hates those blogs that 'autoplay' music files...).

Does it make this blog cooler?

(Brownie points for those who can make the connection between this post and the X-ray.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

'Militant Secularism'

Once again, angry doc finds himself in disagreement with fellow-blogger gigamole, this time over this news article.

'A recipe for disharmony'
NMP Thio Li-ann speaks out against ‘militant secularism’
Loh Chee Kong

WHILE Singapore’s secularism dictates that religion should not be mixed with politics, religion is “not separated from public life and culture”, law academic Thio Li-ann asserted in Parliament yesterday.

And those who engage in public debate cannot be expected to do so independent of their religious views, the Nominated Member of Parliament stressed.

In his speech last week when he reconvened Parliament, PresidentS R Nathan remarked that the recent Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) saga demonstrated a new style of politics that does not involve political parties.

Describing such politics involving lobby groups as an “ideological” contest, Prof Thio criticised the “militant secularism” and the biased media coverage — “particularly in one paper” — of the Aware saga which involved her mother, former law dean Thio Su Mien, who had drawn flak for her viewpoints as “feminist mentor” to the group.

With the senior Thio looking on in the public gallery, Prof Thio argued: “Secular fundamentalists are oppressive where they seek to mute religiously-informed convictions in public debate.” They do so “by demonising a view as religious in attempting to make religious faith a cause for embarrassment, or to distract citizens from the merits of an argument by discounting a speaker whose values are shaped by a religious” faith.

Such militant secularism is “a recipe for social disharmony”, she added.

In the aftermath of the saga, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng had reiterated the Government’s position that religious individuals “have the same rights as any citizen to express their views on issues in the public space, as guided by their teachings and personal conscience”. But they should also be mindful of sensitivities, he had added.

Yesterday, noting the power of the press “when it comes to moral disagreements and public policy”, Prof Thio said that journalists “are entitled, like all citizens, to have their own opinions; however, they do a disservice if they report contentious issues in a one-sided fashion”.

While the “proper limits of religious activism” was a valid issue that arose, she felt that other issues were “strangely subdued” in the media, including “whether it was really a debate about values, rather than religious overstepping”.

angry doc is a self-described 'militant'; not a "militant secularist", but a "militant atheist" - angry doc thinks atheism is an intellectual position, while secularism is a political position - although recent events are nudging him towards becoming a "militant secularist".

angry doc believes that we should challenge the convention that religious beliefs, and attempts to impose public policies which will affect all of us that are based on such religious beliefs, may not be challenged. Of course, being "militant" about it risks running afoul of the law (S298), which is why angry doc disagrees with gigamole that the environment is 'lopsided' (or rather it is, but the other way round).

angry doc finds many of the terms used in Dr Thio's speech ironic, and thinks it demonstrates the frame of mind of those who believe religions have a role in determining public policies.

A public debate can only be meaningful if we enter it with an open-mind, willing to allow our own premises to be challenged and examined. "Religiously-informed" is an oxymoron - religious 'truths' are not founded on empirical observations or philosophical arguments, but accepted on faith; to call views based on religious beliefs "informed" is an abuse of the word. It is, like Dr Thio said, a "conviction". People who expect their views to be accepted in a public debate based solely on the fact that they are "religiously-informed" deserve to be made to feel embarrassed for them.

angry doc agrees they shouldn't be muted though - they deserve to be heard, questioned, and then laughed at until they are prepared to accept that people not belonging to their faith should not be made to accept their views based on what they believe are their respective deities' commandments. Their opponents do not "demonise" them (intersting choice of word there...) - they are ridiculed by their own presumptions.

angry doc does concede that "militant secularism" can be a recipe for social disharmony, but then so were the concepts of democracy and human rights in their early days. Some things are worth more than social harmony. What these things are we must come together collectively and agree on; but if you are going to invoke God in the debate, and God can't be argued with, then where does that leave us?

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Come on, sing along...

Sing along - it's on the music player on the sidebar.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Mountain, Mole

angry doc doesn't celebrate the Singapore Women’s Everest Team success as a sucess for Singapore or women, because he believes that climbing to the summit of Mount Everest, regardless of the climbers' nationality or gender, is a personal achievement on the part of each of the climbers and a testament to their teamwork, and that transcends national and gender boundaries. Good for you. Respek. But angry doc doesn't see why Singaporeans or women in general have any right to feel proud for what they did.

Fellow-blogger Gigamole thinks the team "achieved for women in Singapore, what all the cat fighting at AWARE failed miserably to do". angry doc disagrees.

angry doc has posted his thoughts over at Gigamole's blog (along with the story of his traumatic childhood encounters with paedophiles...). Do have a read.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Libel Laws and Blogging Against Quackery

(Posted on the Singapore MD blog.)

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Singapore MD

angry doc would like to announce the launch of a new group-blog authored by local doctors.


angry doc has taken most of the colours out of his blog

Leaving mostly, quite coincidentally,

The colours yellow, pink, and blue.

He hopes his readers will become used to it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Quote of the week

"We respect those who have certain lifestyles, but don't push your agenda... I hope people won't be affected by overseas movements which are very active in some western countries."

- Bishop John Chew, Bishop of the Anglican Church in Singapore, on... Christians or gays? angry doc is not sure...

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Friday, May 15, 2009

SMA taken over in "coup"

angry doc notes that proposed amendments to the SMA Constitution tabled for the latest AGM were not discussed due to "the lack of of quorum", which of course gives him an idea...

Bogus Story

Unknowns knock out veterans at SMA polls
Caught off-guard by big turnout, longtime members lose to fresh faces

Singapore - The Singapore Medical Association (SMA), the national medical organisation representing the majority of doctors in Singapore, has seen a dramatic changing of the guard - which some members are describing as nothing short of a leadership grab.

When SMA held its annual general meeting on April 5, everyone expected the usual: No more than 30 or 40 members would turn up at its College Road centre, and a prepared slate of candidates would be voted into office easily. Instead, more than 100 people came, the majority of whom had joined SMA only in recent months.

And when the election of office bearers began, almost every position was challenged by new faces, who won by wide majorities.

In the end, nine out of 16 council spots went to the newcomers.

Outgoing president Dr Wong Chiang Ying, said: 'There were many faces I had not seen before, and I found that very strange.'

'In previous years, even if there were new members, they would be known to one or more of the older members.'

The first indication that something was afoot came when Dr Wong, who has served on the SMA council since 1995, was challenged and defeated handsomely by new member Dr Ang RY.

'It was alarming,' said Dr Raymond Chua, the outgoing Honorary Secretary.

'How could a new member who had just joined for a couple of months, and whom we knew nothing about, be picked over someone who has been with SMA for more than 15 years?

Some of the older members immediately began checking the attendance list.

Dr Chua said: 'We found that about 80 of the 102 who turned up were new members who joined between January and March this year.'

As it dawned on them that a leadership grab was imminent, some older members at the AGM tried asking the newcomers who they were, what they stood for, and why they wanted to be in charge. They got only the briefest answers, they said.

Dr Wong said he tried suggesting that new members serve a stint on SMA's various sub-committees before standing for election to leadership positions. But such suggestions went unheeded as the election proceeded, with more newcomers winning executive committee positions by landslide margins.

Dr Chua said: 'We were simply outnumbered. Technically, they got in legitimately.'

He added that the way the election proceeded was so unusual, it was hard to imagine that the takeover was not a planned effort.

Older members were keen to know if the newcomers shared SMA's vision and values, including fostering and preserving the unity and aim of purpose of the medical profession as a whole. But almost a fortnight into their new roles, the new leaders of SMA were not entertaining calls from the media this week. New President Dr Ang told The Straits Times a press release would be issued 'in a few days' together with the new council's 'scientist mentor' Dr Lim LH, and added that until then, the council would not answer any questions.

A check showed that Dr Ang had previously authored a blog and had written posts criticising the SMA's support of non-evidence based therapies.

In reality SMA's constitution has enough safeguards to make sure that something like that cannot happen, but if you are a doctor who thinks that the SMA should take a more pro-active stance in promoting evidence-based medicine and combating quackery, do leave your contact details in the comments section and angry doc will see if we can work something out...


Medical Ethics

angry doc was going to blog about this, but then he got distracted by this instead...



angry doc is pleased to read this excellent article on the issue of TCM and the evidence-based medicine paradigm in April's issue of the SMA news, especially after this uncritical one from the month before.

Do have a read.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yellow, Pink, and Blue

We hope to return to your regular blogging soon...

Monday, May 11, 2009

We are back to...

Alert Yellow:

('live' version here)

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Friday, May 08, 2009

The Memory Hole

angry doc had sent some of his earlier blog posts down the memory hole.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

What, me wear a mask?

Reader Skeptic asks: Really are the masks effective to keep viruses out, or in?

Surprisingly, or maybe not, we are not really sure. There are many variables that may affect whether a person coming into contact with a flu patient will catch the virus, including type of mask, tightness of fit, adherence to mask use, type of virus, proximity to the patient, length of exposure, ventilation, uv radiation, exposure to skin and conjunctiva, etc.

But really, what Skeptic is perhaps asking is: should I wear a mask?

Well, some nice people in Australia conducted a randomised trial on the use of face masks in control of respiratory virus in the household setting, and their conclusion is that "household use of masks is associated with low adherence and is ineffective in controlling seasonal ILI [influenza-like illness]". But the authors also cautioned against "extrapolating our results to school, workplace, or community contexts, or where multiple, repeated exposures may occur, such as in healthcare settings".

Not really helpful then.

But if you'll allow angry doc to give some non-evidence-based advice, this is what he'll say: I went through the SARS epidemic unscathed on personal protective equipment and good hygiene practices, but you won't catch me wearing a mask outside my workplace. Yet.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Who's on your page 73?

angry doc is bored stiff waiting for the H1N1 virus. Please help entertain him by telling him who is on page 73 of the book you are currently reading.

Sir Isaac Newton gets a mention on the book he is reading.

Monday, May 04, 2009

We are still at...

Alert Orange

And trust me, you don't want us to go to Red.

SMRT's train frequency to be reduced if flu alert hits

SINGAPORE: SMRT said train frequency will be reduced by 30 per cent once Singapore's pandemic alert level hits red. This is because its service staff are divided into two teams to prevent the potential spread of the H1N1 virus.

SMRT has increased its cleanliness vigilance level in trains and buses by more than three times ever since the Health Ministry raised the flu alert to orange.

Public areas are cleaned once every two hours and temperatures of SMRT officers are checked twice daily. There is also a quarantine room for passengers who display flu symptoms.

Ventilation within the trains has been increased, while windows and doors of buses parked at interchanges will remain open.

Temperature of bus captains are also being checked at bus interchanges.

- CNA/so

Yes, reducing the frequency of trains by 30% and therefore increasing the number of passengers on a given train by 43% sounds like a good way to "prevent the potential spread of the H1N1 virus".


On the same page?

(get your T-shirts here)

Over dinner and beer on May Day evening angry doc and fellow-Clearthought bloggers Leng Hiong and Ed discussed the issue of supporting causes.

While angry doc was, for a number of reasons, on the side of the "old guards" from quite early on, he noticed that the fight took on more and more issues as people joined each side for reasons of their own too and framed the conflict in their own language. Towards the end it was about gay rights vs. homophobia, secularism vs. religion, liberal vs. conservative parents, moderate vs. fundamentalist Christians, pluralism vs. exclusion...

Towards the end angry doc wasn't sure what he was supporting anymore.

If he supported the "old guards", did he also support moderate Christians vs. fundamentalist Christians? If he was against the contents of AWARE's sexuality education programme (which he isn't because he hasn't read all the contents), did it mean he should side with the "new guards" (incidentally angry doc thinks the correct term should be "young Turks" or "young guards")?

While Angry Doctor may not have made any difference in the eventual results of the EGM, angry doc nevertheless wonders how, in this day and age when causes come in bundles or packages, and when people are so quick to tag their own agendas onto them, he should decide on whether to support a cause on his blog in the future.

How do other people decide?

But for now, he merely needs to decide if he should go for the "I'm on page 73" T-shirt, or the "Shut up and sit down" one... He needs a pink T-shirt for the 16th, you see...


Sunday, May 03, 2009

We are still at...

Alert Orange

DPM Teo says better to be prepared in light of H1N1 fears

SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean says it is possible that cases of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus may occur in Singapore.

But he says Singaporeans are better prepared psychologically after going through SARS in 2003.

He said: "It's important right now, when we don't understand the nature of the disease so well, to overreact a bit. That's the sensible thing to do. So we make sure we protect ourselves.

“It's better to overprotect ourselves right now than to be too relaxed and then after that to try and put on the protection when it's too late."

Mr Teo also added that the situation will have some impact on the travel and tourism sector.

For military servicemen in camps, temperature-taking and isolating those who may be unwell are already in place but there will be no changes in training as the minister says that “there's no reason to do so”.

And for those who are returning and entering Singapore at the Woodlands Checkpoint, they have to go through thermal scanning devices deployed at land checkpoints starting Sunday.

This comes after such devices have been put in place at airports and sea checkpoints. Some people whose temperatures may be higher than usual will have their temperatures checked individually.

- CNA/yt

Would it were day!


Support Love 6

The Freedom To Love

angry doc will be there if situation permits... look for the guy in pink gown and mask.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

We are still at...

Alert Orange

MOH says one pending case tests negative for Influenza A

SINGAPORE : The Health Ministry has said the one pending case reported on Friday has tested negative for Influenza A. And so there are no human cases of H1N1 in Singapore.

The pandemic alert level remains at orange.

The Health Ministry is requesting those who stayed at Metropark Hotel in Hong Kong and who have since returned to Singapore to call MOH's hotline at 1800-3339999.

This will enable the ministry to advise them on monitoring their own health in light of the confirmed case in Hong Kong.

Travellers entering Singapore with a travel history to Mexico over the past seven days will be issued with a home quarantine order which will require them to be quarantined for seven days when they enter Singapore.

Those who can't be quarantined at their own residential homes will be quarantined at government chalets, such as Aloha Chalets at Loyang.

The home quarantine order takes effect on Monday.

So far, two Singaporeans who have returned from Mexico are on voluntary phone surveillance and they are well as of date.

- CNA/ms


Cheer, boys and girls, cheer!

Going to war
is about believing that what you possess as an individual
can make a difference to something that affects the many.

Cheer, boys and girls, cheer!


Friday, May 01, 2009

We are still at...

Alert Orange

Hong Kong reports first confirmed case of swine flu

HONG KONG - Hong Kong Friday reported its first confirmed case of swine flu and went on emergency alert, Chief Executive Donald Tsang said.

"We have our first confirmed swine flu case in Hong Kong. He is Mexican," Tsang told reporters.

The Mexican arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday from Mexico via Shanghai, Tsang said.

He was admitted to hospital on Thursday night suffering fever and tested positive on Friday for swine flu. He was in stable condition, Tsang said.

The Metropark Hotel in Wanchai district where he had been staying had been cordoned off, he said.

"I will raise the alert level from serious to emergency," the chief executive said.

Despite putting the city on the highest level of alert, Tsang said all social activities and exhibitions would go ahead as normal and schools would remain open.

"I stress we don't need to panic," he said.

Police wearing face masks cordoned off the Metropark Hotel and a group of blue-gowned and masked health workers was seen entering the hotel in the bustling bar and nightclub district on Hong Kong island.

Hong Kong had already stepped up its protection measures, including the use of temperature screening machines at airports and other entry points.

Authorities have said they would detain anyone showing symptoms of the virus after arriving from an infected area.

Health officials have also advised against all non-essential travel to worst-hit Mexico.

Hong Kong, at the forefront of the SARS epidemic in 2003 and already on alert for bird flu, has announced a series of tough measures to combat any threat from swine flu.

- AFP/ir



Go make a difference tomorrow.


Hug a healthcare worker today... while you still can.