Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mean Comments Don't Help the Overweight

Yale diet scientists have discovered that nagging people about being overweight is not helpful.

In fact, stigmatizing those on diets makes them abandon the diets and seek more food. Many people would respond to this study with an obtuse "Duh."

Of course overweight people don't want to be teased and made to feel like self-saboteurs. Though this seems obvious now, that response comes after decades of treating the overweight as social and physical pariahs.

So, "Duh" really marks an advance in thinking. It seems as if people are finally realizing that obesity is not an abject absence of self-control and a failure of free will.

This is not to say that obesity is healthy. It isn't. But clearly, shame does more harm than good.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bore Not, Blog Not

Good grief.

Is this as boring as all of the other blogs? You bet! Even the notable ones. Are any blogs interesting or are we all deluding ourselves?

Or boring ourselves on purpose as an escape from the devised, depraved existence in which we find ourselves.

Boredom is a saving grace. We spend four years in college learning how to be politely bored. Boredom is what sets humans apart from other animals. They learn, anticipate, plan. But do they get bored?

No. That's our one true human traint. Boredom is not mindless. It's too much mind.

Are you bored yet?

Blah, blah, blah. Of course you are.

Here we have graphic proof that only the thoughts of a very few people are interesting, valuable, or revelatory. Fernando Pessoa had original perceptions. The rest of us? Blah.

Denis Johnson? Yes. You? No.

But don't fool yourself. Boredom is valuable. It gives you something to do. Otherwise you'd be wasting your time. Boredom is truly yours and yours alone. That's one thing no one can take away from you.

It's reliable and effortless. And people envy the truly bored.

So, go ahead. Be bored.

Just do it the right way.

Clang! Coumadin Time!

An astounding 700,000 people in U.S. poison themselves every year by taking the wrong medicine, too much of the right medicine, or because of an adverse reaction to a medicine.
Adverse drug effects accounted for 2.5 percent of emergency department visits in the years studied by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The main problem seems to be confusion. Patients take an over-the-counter or prescription pill, forget, and then take another too soon.
Some drugs, such as blood thinners and medications for diabetes, were especially prone to accidental misuse.
But can that number possibly be true? That's almost 1 million Americans. Or about 0.3 percent of the population. So, yes, it does make sense.
Imagine you take six drugs a day; one three times a day, another when you wake up and go to sleep; another every four hours, a second drug three times a day and as needed, another taken as needed or every two hours, and another than can only be taken with food.
How could you not be confused? Here's where a robot could really be useful. Load all of the drugs into the machine. After each load, enter the information about when the drug should be taken. The machine would also have an "as needed" button, but the robot would keep track of how many times it's pushed.
The robot would have a sound alarm and flashing light. The pills would emerge from a shoot, like a gum ball machine. The machine could only be opened with a key that's in the possession of the person in charge of keeping the robot supplied. It would run on electricity and also contain emergency batteries.
This shouldn't be too hard to design.
In fact, you could simply take the machine to the pharmacy. Simple.
Or, you could not smoke, stay slim, exercise, not drink in excess, have good genes and no family history of heart disease or cancer.
That's the ticket.

Political Lunacy

A social worker at Southern Connecticut State University has completed a study showing that support for President George W. Bush is especially high among the mentally ill.
In fact, the more severe the mental illness the greater of support. Christopher M. Lohse, the researcher, also discovered that Bush supporters showed a lower understanding of current issues, politics and government than non-supporters.
The study involved 69 psychiatric outpatients in the 2004 presidential election. The subjects completed various tests to measure their impairment.
"The funding that political preference for George Bush was associated with poor mental health is consistent with previous research on voting preference and mental illness," Lohse wrote, based on a paper published in 1977 by Frumkin and Ibrahim in "Perceptual and Motor Skills."
This appears to be a serious study, but releasing it two weeks before the election betrays a certain partisan bent.
How the mentally ill perceive the world is interesting, however. Unfortunately Lohse does not reveal the diagnoses of the 69 outpatients.
Maybe psychiatric patients have some political predictive value.
As the schizoids go, so goes the nation!