Archive for Ease and Disease

Zombies would starve

The administration has been conflating health care and health insurance for so long that most people, or at least most people who get TV cameras shoved into their faces, actually believe that the two products are one and the same. So questions like this go unanswered:

[E]levating “being insured” to some kind of holy, sanctified, sought-after-at-any-cost status ignores ways of dealing with things that, nevertheless, don’t qualify as “insurance” on technical grounds. We are constantly told that people who “weren’t insured” would use the ER and Medicaid and whatnot. But now they will “have insurance,” so that’s better. But wait: why is that better? For whom? By what standard? No explanation is proffered. Who needs one? “Being insured” is good and “not being insured” bad, period, say all the Smart People. And nevermind the fact that (in a sense) all those people were “insured,” it just wasn’t by an insurance company, it was by taxpayers-and-whoever.

But I went too far with that “at-any-cost” part, didn’t I? Cost is not even mentioned in the first place. As far as I can tell, I’m supposed to think that increasing the percentage of people who “are insured” (whatever that means) by one basis point is worth spending X dollars — for any value of X whatsoever. The ledger of this retarded debate, as conducted by (retarded) Smart People, has only one side to it.

But there’s one serious problem with these Smart People:

You build a movement by increasing buy-in, and “all smart people agree we’re right” is great for that. To acknowledge contrary evidence — any evidence at all — is to tacitly admit that one isn’t as smart as one claims to be. And who here, in this glorious year 2014, is going to admit that?

Which is why I’ve been arguing for some time now that Republicans need to start arguing, not that liberals are wrong (though, of course, they are), but simply immature… I might not always get it right, but I’m far, far likelier not to get it disastrously wrong. The whiz kid can run circles around me, cerebrally, but there’s no substitute for decades of real-world experience. And it is a truth universally acknowledged, at least by anyone who has ever been around teenagers, that the smartest kids make the dumbest mistakes, because they overlook the most obvious points.

William F. Buckley, Jr. had similar reservations about Smart People:

I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.

Buckley wasn’t always prescient, but he nailed this one cold.

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Future Medicine, such as it is

This is happening in the Southern hemisphere, but there’s no reason to think it can’t happen here:

Despite not fulfilling all the Ministry of Health’s requirements, 41 Brazilian community doctors recently trained in Venezuela were chosen to work for the government’s More Doctors (Mais Médicos) program.

They graduated in November from the Dr. Salvador Allende Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) founded in 2007 by former president Hugo Chávez. Most are linked to left leaning organizations such as the PT or Landless Workers’ Movement. The group has returned to Brazil without fulfilling all the requirements stipulated in article 8 of the Venezuelan Law for the Practice of Medicine.

Apart from pretending to stick it to El Hombre The Man, there’s nothing a socialist ruler loves more than naming things after other socialist rulers. Good work, Hugo.

And there’s this:

This week, the group started their 25 day training, which includes a primary healthcare assessment. But they all already have cities assigned to them in 14 states in the São Paulo region. In Venezuela the program for community doctors has been criticized for disrespecting norms, ad hoc improvisations and lack of qualified teachers.

Who knew? Maybe Salvador Allende, who made darn sure he wasn’t going to worry about his health by shoving an AK-47 into his chin.

(Via Fausta’s blog.)

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Tracked all the way to the grave

Yes, I know that those wicked online-ad providers follow me around like a lost puppy, and then toss up stuff on the screen they hope I’ll appreciate, but I am perplexed by this box, which showed up last night on, of all places, Equestria Daily:

Latuda ad

That stuff off to the right is apparently an FDA-required Black Box Warning, and this is what it says in the box in the prescribing information:

WARNINGS: INCREASED MORTALITY IN ELDERLY PATIENTS WITH DEMENTIA-RELATED PSYCHOSIS; AND SUICIDAL THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIORS

See full prescribing information for complete boxed warning.

  • Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with
    antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death.
  • LATUDA is not approved for the treatment of patients with dementia related psychosis
  • Increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults taking antidepressants
  • Monitor for worsening and emergence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Based on my limited experience with antipsychotics, I’d say this is actually about average for the species, though this one is billed as “atypical,” which essentially translates to “second-generation.”

Still, I’m wondering what the hell I saw that would lead this ad provider to think I wanted to see this — and on a page about pastel-colored ponies, no less.

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Traditional medicine, alternative currency

I have occasionally linked to G. Keith Smith, MD, who runs Surgery Center of Oklahoma, one of the few medical facilities that posts its prices for all to see, mostly because I like to encourage that sort of thing.

I knew that they were basically a cash-only operation, but apparently they’re now accepting bitcoin, and Dr Smith, as always, is unapologetic about it:

What underlies my willingness to accept methods of payment other than traditional methods of payment is my concept of exchange itself. Any exchange deemed to be mutually beneficial naturally tends to occur unless the state intervenes. This natural tendency for the exchange to occur prevails as both parties in a mutually beneficial exchange see themselves better off subsequent to the exchange and desire its occurrence, otherwise, one or both parties wouldn’t want to exchange their goods or services in the first place.

As for one particular objection that could be raised:

For those who say derisively, “…you never know what the value of the bitcoin is going to be from day to day,” I wonder why they don’t think the worst about the dollar’s value, given its history? After all, some 95% of the dollar’s value has been stolen since “managed” by the central bankers, so it seems clear regarding what results from the state “regulation” of any currency.

There’s always a chance that bitcoin will go up. The dollar? Don’t hold your breath.

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For lack of hard evidence

You might say, he doesn’t want a pickle:

A man who claimed riding a BMW K1100RS gave him a permanent erection has had his claim dismissed in court.

Henry Wolf, from California, alleged four hours on the BMW in 2010 left him with an erection for two years. He sought compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, emotional distress and “general damages” from BMW and seat-maker Corbin-Pacific.

Wait a minute. The K1100 series, if I remember correctly, dates back to the early Nineties. Did Wolf buy a used bike, or has he had it all along?

But the claim has been tossed out by the Superior Court of San Francisco, where judge James J McBride ruled the plaintiff did not present enough supporting evidence.

[insert "kickstand" joke here]

(Via Autoblog.)

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Honey, my bracket hurts

Some things, they say, practically sell themselves. This is not one of them:

March Vasness from BadNewspaper.com

(Another Bad Newspaper special — and timely, too!)

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Five Mississippi

The “five-second rule” will not die, and this is one reason why:

Biology students at Aston University in the UK monitored how quickly E. coli and common bacteria spread from surfaces to food such as toast (butter side down, no doubt), pasta and sticky sweets — with time being a significant factor in the transfer of germs.

Food picked up just a few seconds after being dropped is less likely to contain bacteria than if it is left for longer periods of time according to the findings.

There is, however, a variable that must be taken into account:

The type of flooring the food has been dropped on has an effect, with bacteria least likely to transfer from carpeted surfaces and most likely to transfer from laminate or tiled surfaces to moist foods making contact for more than five seconds.

This, of course, contradicts research from a couple of years ago, which supports my ongoing hypothesis that Everything We Know Is, Or Will Be, Wrong.

(Via The Glittering Eye.)

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One of those diastolical schemes

This tissue of organic fertilizer, with the absurd (but guaranteed click-bait) title “1 weird food that KILLS blood pressure,” showed up 14 times in my email box yesterday:

“You’re going to have a stroke or a heart attack before you leave this building.”

That’s what the nurse told my dad.

She had just checked his blood pressure and it was a deadly 155/90.

When I heard the news, my mind raced back to my own blood pressure scare just a few short years before.

Thankfully, after some frantic research, I had stumbled upon an all-natural blood pressure fix that normalized my blood pressure in a matter of weeks.

Which wouldn’t help someone about to leave the building, of course, but hey, this is spam; you’re not supposed to notice the contradictions.

Incidentally, I’ve been occasionally as high as 155/90; last I looked, I wasn’t dead, or anything close to it.

I remember when they told my dad he had six months to live, tops. And sure enough, six years later, that’s what he had.

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A puff of magical non-smoke

There’s a dealer in e-cigarettes down the road about a mile. Their presence affects me not a whit. Now there’s another one about two miles to the south, which apparently hired some seeming derelict to harangue smokers in the middle of the road last Wednesday, but that’s another story; still, apart from that bit of performance art, their presence affects me not a whit.

The half-whits in Los Angeles, meanwhile, would like to see such things banned, and there’s only one logical explanation for their behavior:

Primitive peoples who relied on magic rather than science to explain how the world works often believed in what is known as “sympathetic magic” — the idea that if item A looks like item B, that means A either shares B’s traits or gives you actual power over B… And belief in sympathetic magic appears to be enjoying a renaissance among those who oppose “e-cigarettes” or “e-cigs,” basically on the grounds that a battery-operated metal tube emitting water vapor looks like a burning tobacco cigarette emitting cancerous smoke, ergo it must have the same disease-inducing power as said tobacco cigarette, right?

Or at least deserves the same stigma. Consider this week, when the Los Angeles City Council voted to treat e-cigs exactly as regular cigarettes by banning the use of e-cig water vapor wherever tobacco smoke has already been banned.

Then again, this is Los Angeles, where the highest-paid representatives of the city’s best-known industry spend much of their spare time complaining about income inequality. There’s got to be some supernatural explanation for that.

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I might have known

Every month, it’s a new story, simply because health writers always need something to write about, and because their readers, or a substantial percentage thereof, are just this side of full-bore hypochondria. The current Amazing Revelation is that unless you have an actual deficiency, you probably don’t need to take vitamins.

I was in Target last evening, picking up a couple of prescriptions and, yes, a bottle of a particular vitamin which, says the doctor, I somehow don’t get enough of. Usually I pay cash for such stuff, but today I whipped out the Visa, and as always, I scrutinized the receipt when I got home.

An X in the right column, apparently, indicates a “health item.” Both prescriptions were deemed health items. The vitamin, which was labeled “Health-Beauty-Cosmetics,” was not. Maybe I’m reading too much into this — or maybe I need to put more things on plastic.

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Where have all the Lortabs gone?

Long time disappearing, it would seem:

The L.A. Times’ David Lazarus reports that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the California Board of Pharmacy are investigating the disappearance of prescription pain meds from four stores in California.

The DEA served the stores with warrants almost a year ago after learning about prescription drugs like Vicodin that were not present and accounted for.

The company now faces up to 2,973 separate violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act because its records don’t match the actual inventory of the drugs in question. CVS could be forced to pay upwards of $29 million in penalties for these possible violations.

Apparently they’re not going out the door a few at a time, either:

The DEA investigation has been going on since 2012, when a DEA investigator learned of missing hydrocodone pills from a store near Sacramento. A pharmacy worker at the store eventually admitted to her employers that she had stolen some 20,000 pills.

Checking the temperature of other stores in the region, the investigator looked through the records of other CVS stores in the area and found 16,000 pills missing from one CVS; 11,000 from another and two additional stores with around 5,000 missing pills each.

The cynic in me goes “Harrumph,” and asks “Where was Walgreens during all this?” In their own little bit of trouble, it seems.

I have to figure that interdiction of drugs is a complete waste of time, if only because supply restrictions have not resulted in higher prices: last time I picked up any of these tabs, I paid something like $2.90 for fourteen of them.

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Asymmetric intubation

The major obstacle to transparency in the health-care market — apart from the presence of government, which is an obstacle in its own right — is the fact that nobody knows how much anything costs:

One thing that might help is if people knew how much their health insurance company was paying for their drugs. I consume a handful of pills which costs me a dollar or two every day. I don’t really know because it’s always different, depending on whether I have satisfied my deductible or not, or maybe it’s by the phase of the moon. I gave up trying to fathom the workings of the insurance companies a long time ago. So I have to pay some money for these drugs, but I have no idea what the pharmacy is charging my insurance company. I’m pretty sure someone doesn’t want me to know, but they are cloaking this secrecy in the name of “you shouldn’t have to worry about the money when you’re sick, that’s what insurance is for”. Well, that’s BS.

CFI Care [not its real initials] is presumably not paying a whole hell of a lot for my daily dosages, inasmuch as my designated copays start at $15 for the lowest tier, yet most of these drugs run $10 or less for a 30-day supply. The pharmacy does supply an insert with “Retail Value,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything: you might perhaps assume that this is what the uninsured have to pay, but this particular chain offers lots of $4 generics, and nobody will put up with paying, say, $28.67 for a drug advertised at $4 — unless someone else is shelling out the $28.67.

There’s got to be a better way. I’ll continue to push for my single-payer scheme: everybody bundle up your medical bills and send them to George Soros.

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Not a puff piece

Mr Truman, having experimented with e-cigarettes and found them to be an improvement over the burning-leaf variety, now wonders if maybe these, too, will be taken away in the name of safety:

[B]y god I have found something that works for me. Not just because I don’t smoke anymore, but because it allows me the ability to continue to do the things that drew me to smoking in the first place. I may quit the ecigarettes or I may not. But I have finally found myself not having to obsess over this question. Do you know how amazing that is? A world has been lifted from my shoulders. The monkey that has been on my back for years and years is gone. At worse, replaced by something by all measures benign by comparison. It makes me want to kiss the skies. And it makes me furious at those who see this as some nefarious new threat to the public health.

Right now I am just waiting to find out how bad it’s going to be. Whether the thing that right now costs me twenty-five cents a milliliter will shoot up to seventy-five cents (a very real possibility). Whether the people I get my supply from will be allowed to remain in business. Whether I am going to have to throw everything out and start all over with an FDA-approved device. I’m concerned about the number of people out there who could take the same path as I did to recovery, but as much as anything I just want to keep doing the thing that has put more distance between me and cigarettes than I have had in over ten years. Or whether it will be made more complicated and disrupted with right-now unthinkable consequences. In the name of public health. In the name of my own well-being.

In matters of government, all consequences are unthinkable: lawmakers — and people assuming the role of lawmakers in contravention of the Constitution — insist that their solutions are not only correct, but inevitable. To this day we have people defending Bolshevism; in 2100 we’ll still have people defending ObamaCare. It might be prudent to expect the worst.

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I’ll tell you what you can do with your damn sauce

BBQ sauce to cure hemorrhoids?

(Another scary-but-funny clipping from Bad Newspaper.)

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What we’re in for

I know this feeling rather better than I’d like to admit:

Your faithful correspondent is at her station no fewer than 10 hours a day, often 11+. Granted, your faithful correspondent has always been afraid not to work, in case work dries up and she is subsequently locked out of work forever. Your faithful correspondent is a nurse by trade so that unemployment scenario is extremely unlikely but even so let’s not take any unnecessary chances.

I do nine and a half hours, maybe a little more, but I do try to keep it under ten.

I had a three-year period of unfunemployment many years ago, and it’s motivated me not to have another one if I can help it. Still:

The point is I’m wearing down. I’ve always fancied myself to have the freedom to manage my own destiny and stop working anytime I felt was right for me. But I suddenly realized that I am too young for Medicare and that my work-provided insurance coverage is going to keep me tied to my job for years longer than I want to work. Such is my demographic detail and my on-the-record party affiliation that Obamacare is not good for me. Even though I am relatively issue-free now, it will only take one good fall or the discovery of one irregularly shaped mole to put me in a boxcar headed for the glue factory.

I am a little more hopeful, seeing the model for my future in a Malaise Era car from General Motors, probably with the word “Brougham” on a badge somewhere. I’ve never run especially well, but so far, nickel-and-dime stuff here and there has kept me on the road and away from my deductible.

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The squamous is not for the squeamish

Only “Internal Revenue Service” comes close to evoking the sheer terror that comes with the word “cancer.”

Taylor Evan Fulks fights the skin-based variety. Lots of detail and, yes, graphic-ish photos, as she tells you about the ongoing battle with unruly cells — which, she says, was pretty much her own fault:

I was stupid as a teen and an adult. I lived in the sun, coached softball in the sun (sans sunscreen), and when tanning beds came into vogue, I had a membership at two different salons … I went the max time, twice a day, everyday. I used cooking oil, baby oil, sheets of Reynolds Wrap to reflect the sun, and every known tanning bed intensifier there was on the market. No one else is to blame. I did this to myself.

In other news, there are tanning-bed intensifiers.

If you have skin, you probably should read this. Here’s the link again.

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I hurt myself today

No, I’m not going all Trent Reznor all of a sudden. But damn, I don’t remember being this fragile.

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Doing asbestos we can

Marie has gutted many old houses over the years, and she hasn’t always taken the precautions she should have:

Somehow I’m wary of lead paint, wearing full body-armour and a ventilator to strip wood, but oblivious to asbestos wearing only a t-shirt and shorts to put in a floor on top of the attic insulation.

And asbestos is genuinely nasty stuff, though that nastiness only recently persuaded the Canadian government to allow asbestos production to die in Quebec:

The future of asbestos mining in Quebec ground to a halt [in 2013] after the newly elected government of Pauline Marois announced it would not honour a commitment of the previous government to lend the Jeffery Mine $58 million to restart production…

As recently as 2010, Canada was producing 150,000 tonnes of asbestos annually, all of it in Quebec, and exporting 90 per cent — worth about $90 million — to developing countries.

More than 50 countries ban the mining and use of asbestos because it causes cancer, but Canada, traditionally a major exporter, has successfully lobbied in the past to keep it off a UN list of hazardous substances.

Residents of the area were of course delighted when the “White Gold” was discovered in 1879; the town of Asbestos was founded around the mine. They don’t mention it so much anymore, preferring to talk about “cultural, social and sporting organizations.”

And this is what gets to me. Between 2001 and 2011, the population of the town grew, from 6580 to 7096, and the median age of its residents went up by four and a half years: 48.4 for men, 53.5 for women. This does not sound promising.

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The community comes forward

He was eleven, a fairly typical kid for his age, with one exception that comes to mind: he was a fan of My Little Pony, and he wasn’t going to change that for anypony.

Then came the rage, the bullying, the anger. At eleven, you wonder why, and maybe you think it’s your fault. And you get out the rope.

It didn’t kill Michael Morones, but it came too close for comfort. Pony fans put together a short fundraiser to help cover the kid’s medical expenses; it raised five grand in something like ten hours. The donations kept coming in. The goal was raised to $10,000, then to $20,000. As of last night over $33,000 had been donated.

This quote from the fund site seems pertinent:

I read about Michael the other day at the everfree network and have seen news about him daily. When I saw the photo of him in the hospital bed with all the tubes I couldn’t help but shed a tear for the poor kid. I myself was bullied in high school and teased all my school life. Early on I was teased and shunned for being poor. But then when I was 10 years old I was severely burned in an explosion. High school was a very difficult time for me. My sophomore year I was basically physically assaulted leaving science class and to make things worse the school administration turned a blind eye. I was targeted for being different because of my scars and appearance. I’ve grown since then and I still have a philosophy in life. Enjoy your life and be grateful for what you have. Don’t feel pressure to be like everyone else. I enjoy the things and act how I want to as long as it’s not hurting anybody. MLP is just another positive message in a world where kids need more hope, magic, and friendship, in their lives. Bullying should never ever be accepted and Michael nor anyone else should have to hide what they like or who they are simply because others don’t understand. We are all different yet the same.

“How dare you like what I don’t like!” is not, and will never be, a viable philosophy, its echoes in far-off lands like the District of Columbia notwithstanding.

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Be sure to brush after brushing

I’m used to fluoride treatments in fruit flavors, but that’s a dentist’s-office thing: citrus-y toothpaste is a non-factor in the marketplace.

And what’s beyond citrus? How about — chocolate?

Chocolate mint, anyway. Like brushing your teeth with a Junior Mint. It’s part of a new line of Crest toothpaste called Be. On a recent earnings call, the company’s finance chief told the reporters and analysts who hang out on earnings calls about this exciting new product. He says that the new line was designed for “experiential consumers,” whoever that is. People who like to experience things? Isn’t that “everyone”?

Anyway, Crest Be will start with the chocolate mint thing, then introduce “Lime Spearmint Zest” and “Vanilla Mint Spark.” Both bold new flavors, but they can’t quite let go of mint.

I imagine four out of five female dentists will happily recommend the choco-Crest. Me, I’m holding out for bacon.

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Life continues to find ways to kill you

Over the years, they — you remember “them,” don’t you? — have been differentiating between “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. Apparently, though, the “good” isn’t always so good:

The evidence shows that having a high ratio of good to bad cholesterol is good for health.

However, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic say trials aimed at boosting levels of HDL have “not been successful” and the role of good cholesterol is clearly more complicated.

In their study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, they showed how HDL cholesterol could become abnormal.

One of the researchers, Dr Stanley Hazen, said HDL cholesterol was being modified in the walls of the artery.

There is but one God, and Steve H. Graham is His prophet.

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Something to sneeze at

You probably already know what I think about homeopathy:

To test [it] yourself, dump a teaspoon of the stuff into Lake Itasca, at the headwaters of the Mississippi River, and then wait for it to show up in New Orleans.

Target is apparently selling a homeopathic asthma remedy for $16; it looks like an emergency inhaler, but of course it isn’t. I haven’t seen this at my local store, but then I tend to stay away from aisles containing weird-looking products: rice cakes, kitchen accessories, Barbie.

It’s not illegal to sell this stuff, and I’m not about to urge that it should be; but I suggest a minor rebranding. Target should continue to sell it, in a variant of its current packaging — as a specific treatment for use when the inside of your nose is on fire. This is admittedly a highly specialized use, but hey, how often are you going to have to spend $16 for that?

(Roberta X posted a link to this on her Facebook wall; Tam expressed the hope that “they don’t charge more for the dehydrated form.”)

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High-fructose cornball

The nonprofit (that’s a legal term) Center for Science in the Public Interest is headed by Michael Jacobson, once described by me as “the Perez Hilton of health”; when he’s not haranguing Starbucks into putting out a Broccoli Venti, he’s sending out something called the Nutrition Action Healthletter, a promotion for which landed on my doorstep in an envelope ominously marked “You Wanted This.” Obviously NSA isn’t as efficient as they think they are.

One of the sheets is headed “We Name Names!” It contains specific examples of Things You Dare Not Eat, including Cold Stone Creamery’s Oh Fudge! shake in the “Gotta Have It” size (24 ounces), which contains, they say, “the saturated fat content of two 16-oz ribeye steaks plus a buttered baked potato, all blended into a handy 24-oz cup.” Truth be told, I don’t think I could get both those steaks and a spud into my Seventies-vintage blender, but now I’m keen to try.

I was most amused, though, by the pitch for watermelon: “When they’re in season, watermelons are often locally grown, which means they may have a smaller carbon footprint than some other fruits.” This would almost make sense if they hadn’t also plugged mangoes, which are grown on this continent in laughably small quantities; flying in a bag of mangoes is likely to burn up more precious hydrocarbons than trucking in a couple of dozen watermelons.

Still, there’s nothing here appreciably more alarmist than your average issue of Consumer Reports, and it’s decidedly cheaper: $20 for a year. Then again, Jacobson doesn’t test cars, and if he did, he’d want to know why we’d own such fiendish devices in the first place.

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Snip-a-dee doo-dah

I concede the truth of Robert Stacy McCain’s title: “Two Words You Probably Never Want to Think About: ‘Botched Vasectomy’.” Apparently someone on the receiving end of same went berserk and shot three people, one of them (a urologist) fatally, before turning the gun on himself.

McCain — who, incidentally, has six kids — states the following for record:

  1. Nobody’s getting anywhere near my scrotum with a knife; and
  2. If you decide to undergo “an inhumane medical procedure from hell,” you’ve got to be prepared to deal with it.

I offer two additional bits of guidance:

  • Pay cash;
  • Have this done when you’re young enough to shrug it off after a few days. (I was twenty-eight; Mr. Grieved here was in his late forties.)

Otherwise, well, you can buy a hell of a lot of Trojans for the price of an outpatient visit.

Aside: Why can’t we train these people to shoot themselves first? It would do wonders for the death toll.

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Drug us, for we are weak

Robert Stacy McCain has his doubts about everyday selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors:

Ever since Prozac started making headlines back in the 1990s, I’ve been dubious about the “brain chemistry” approach to treating mood disorders with SSRIs, because of a common-sense skepticism toward the claims of scientific “experts.” Is it really a smart idea to be loading people up on complex chemicals with all kinds of potential long-term effects? I mean, how many people who start on anti-depressants in their teens or 20s ever actually get well?

That is to say, shouldn’t the goal of psychiatric treatment be to get patients to the point where they don’t need treatment any more?

On the other hand, the goal of pharmaceutical manufacturers is to keep the cash coming in, which requires that patients not get well. There will never, for instance, be a cure for type 2 diabetes, because there’s so much money to be made by drugging the sufferers indefinitely. Besides, actual cures tend to be extraordinarily expensive; the Death Panels™ are loath to spend that sort of money on people, unless campaign contributions are at stake.

And yet I can’t remember anyone ever saying, “Yes, I was diagnosed with chronic depression, but I took these pills for six months and it went away, so now I don’t need the pills anymore and I’m as cheerful as a songbird all the time.” But I digress …

No songbird, I; however, during the last quarter-century I have been prescribed two industrial-strength anti-depressants — neither, admittedly, SSRIs — and after all that, mood regulation is now left to a single benzo at a low dosage.

Still, I’m not claiming to be “cured,” only to be somewhat better able to cope.

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Carcinogens to go

I opened the envelope, and the little box slid out; and stuck to its side was an adhesive warning label, about an inch and a half square, reading as follows:

Pursuant to California Health & Safety Code Section 25249.6, the Distributor of this Product Warns you That The Product May Contain Substances Known to the State of California to Cause Cancer and/or Reproductive Toxicity.

Three emblems are printed on the case: a triangle reading “ALL NEW MATERIAL,” a circle with a bar through it implying No Lead, and a certification by the EU regarding RoHS.

This is the deadly item purchased: a collection of miscellaneous screws for jeweler/optician use. Lead is out — says so on the box — so cadmium, maybe? Or perhaps the plastic box contains some heinous chemical. It’s made in India, if that means anything.

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Get your Manassas in gear

If you want to make the argument that birth control should be absolutely universal, this ought to be one of your exhibits:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Could i be pregnant ? Condoms Were Used? Penis Didnt Go Threw Virginia All The Way?

At the very least, we need to teach them to stop before Richmond.

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And you should feel cold

Yet another reason why everybody is morbidly obese, apart from the desk job and the trans fats and the Pringles:

Keeping your house cool has benefits beyond reducing heating costs, because cold temperatures activate a substance called brown fat that adults carry on their upper back and neck. (Babies have it, too, since they can’t shiver effectively.) Also known as brown adipose tissue, brown fat acts as an internal furnace that consumes many calories, unlike regular fat, which stores extra energy and calories. The only catch is that brown fat must be activated first in order to start burning calories, and cool temperatures can do that.

A new study from Britain links rising indoor temperatures to obesity. Central heating has become common in American and British homes since 1960, and room temperatures and obesity have risen simultaneously.

Not that anyone actually eats more during colder times of the year, like from, oh, let’s say, late November through the first couple of days of January.

This is, I think, the first time that actual shivering has been pitched to me as some sort of health benefit. (Which explains why the homeless live so much longer than the rest of us, right?) I remain persuaded that this is a plot by the Death Panels™ to make us all wish we were dead and thereby save them some work.

(Via Fark.)

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23andNobody

I mentioned the 23andMe Personal Genome Service last month, and I even considered the possibility of becoming a customer, although I noted that the service was effectively banned in two states.

Well, make that all 57 states:

[T]he FDA has ordered an immediate halt to sales of the kits. In a letter to Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe CEO and wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, the FDA claims the marketing of the 23andMe Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service is currently in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

According to the agency, the kit falls under the heading of a regulated medical device under section 201(h) of the FD&C Act.

How much slack is the FDA willing to cut them? Only this much:

While the agency called for the immediate halt to marketing of the product, it also gives the company 15 days to tell the FDA what steps it has taken to remedy the problems.

Which may explain why I saw a couple of ads for 23andMe on Fark last night.

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Is this a clear choice?

So now we have gluten-free vodka. Seriously. Are the distillers pulling our chain?

[T]he new spirits labeling trend contradicts long-standing advisories from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that all distilled spirits are gluten-free unless it is added after distillation. So is this all a marketing gimmick?

Distillation involves heating, which vaporizes the alcohol as a way to remove it from the mixture. “Distilled spirits, because of the distillation process, should contain no detectable gluten residues or gluten peptide residues,” says Steve Taylor, co-director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program. “Proteins and peptides are not volatile and thus would not distill over.”

Which is what I was thinking. But I’m the kind of guy who washes his hair with trans fats, so I’m relatively unconcerned about such matters. Other folks, they’ve got concerns:

A 2011 FDA report, “Health Hazard Assessment for Gluten Exposure in Individuals with Celiac Disease,” recommended the “most sensitive individuals with CD” eat foods with less than one-ppm gluten levels to protect them from “from experiencing any detrimental health effects from extended to long-term exposure to gluten.”

And the “gluten-free” label on vodka only assures 20 ppm or below, consistent with the labeling on other such products.

So this isn’t quite as risible as it could be. Maybe. I know very few celiac sufferers, and in general, they don’t drink a whole lot of distilled spirits.

(Via Consumerist.)

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