3 THINGS OF INTEREST THIS WEEK

Here are three things I found of interest this week.

Japanese-American Internment

On February 19, 1942, in what is now considered one of the worst mistakes of his presidency, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which cleared the way for the internment of tens of thousands of people of Japanese descent.

The order came ten weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Up and down the west coast, posters appeared declaring that “all persons of Japanese ancestry will be evacuated.”  Some 110,000 Japanese-Americans were uprooted and moved inland to internment camps in remote locations scattered across seven states.  Nearly two-thirds of these “evacuees” were American citizens.

Security concerns prompted the drastic step—the U.S. government worried that people of Japanese ancestry might be spying for Japan.  Mexico and Canada took similar actions.  But the ugly truth is that hysteria and racism were also at work.  Many Americans, with images of burning ships and dead sailors at Pearl Harbor seared in their minds, looked at Japanese-Americans and saw the enemy.

Many internees spent two and a half years in the camps, which were hastily constructed miniature cities, full of wooden barracks and surrounded by barbed wire.  After the war, they faced the task of rebuilding their lives.

In no way can the internment camps be compared with Nazi concentration camps or Stalin’s Gulag, where millions died.  But the terrible fact remains that loyal Americans who had done no wrong lost their property and, temporarily at least, their liberty.  It’s an ugly blot on our nation’s history.

In 1988, President Reagan signed a law that offered a national apology to Japanese-Americans and $20,000 to each person who had been interned in the camps.

Many Medical Questions About Cannabis Remain

Thomas B. Strouse, MD, of the Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA, talks about what is known and what remains to be determined.

“For what conditions do we know cannabinoids are effective?

“The FDA approves pharmaceutically processed cannabinoids for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea, and evidence shows that they are effective for that, although there are not studies to suggest that they are superior to other antiemetic drugs.  Some evidence, though not strong, indicates that they may help to treat cachexia, also known as wasting—the loss of lean body mass associated with advanced illness like AIDS or cancer.  Studies also indicate that plant-derived cannabinoids can help to reduce pain, particularly nerve pain, and that they may have a role in cases of treatment-resistant pediatric epilepsy.  For everything else you hear about—such as insomnia, anxiety, multiple sclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases, to name a few—the evidence comes from anecdotes, small case series and generally is not based on high-quality studies.

“Is that because it’s been studied and not shown beneficial for these conditions, or is it that it just hasn’t been well studied?

“I would say the later—mostly it’s just understudied.  It has been very difficult to perform high-quality cannabis studies in the U.S. regulatory situation—remember that cannabis is still classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a Schedule I substance, which means the DEA considers it to be without valid medical use and highly addictive or dangerous.

“Beyond investigating potential benefits for certain conditions, what other issues need further study?

“There are many.  For one thing, most people who use cannabinoids get them not in the pharmaceutical preparations but in a whole-leaf form at a dispensary, where there is very little, if any, mandatory quality or safety control.  Whole-leaf cannabis has 400-to-500 compounds, and we know almost nothing about most of them.  We also need to learn much about basic safety issues around chronic use.

“Is it correct to say that anecdotal reports about the benefits of cannabis to alleviate certain condition would not be sufficient, from a doctor’s point of view, to demonstrate efficacy?

“It is a risk-benefit analysis.  If you’re a young person whose brain is still developing, it seems pretty clear that the risks of regular and/or heavy marijuana use, whether recreationally or to treat a symptom, probably outweigh the benefits.  It’s a very different analysis if you’re a 70-year-old with Alzheimer’s disease or late-stage cancer.

“What are some of the potential negative health effects?

“Any rational discussion of this topic has to acknowledge the well understood risks to the developing brains of young people who use marijuana regularly before their mid-20s.  This includes potential effects on memory and cognition, decreased motivation and the potential for hastening or worsening of a psychotic disorder for individuals who may be prone to developing one.

“In light of the current crisis with opioid addiction, is there any potential benefit to cannabinoids as a substitute for people who are seeking pain relief?

“The short answer is probably yes.”

UPS Maintenance Shows Us How To Resolve Problems

After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a “gripe sheet,” which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft.

The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form so that the pilots can review the gripe sheets before their next flight.

Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers.

By the way, UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident…

P:  Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That’s what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you’re right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel.  Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from the midget.

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