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June 2013

What if you're a skinny type 2?

This HND piece examines that very neglected cohort: Skinny type 2 diabetics. Plenty of urban myths to debunk.

For example, no one knows the source--as in real hard numerical data-- for the notion that "80% of type 2's are overweight." I'm beginning to think that someone just pulled that statistic out of thin air. Then there's the guy who claims he went from being ridiculously hyperglycemic to borderline hypo just by changing his diet.

As to mainstream articles, you'll get a kick out of recent "finding" that fat type 2's have better mortality overall than skinny type 2's. As I put it in the piece, "Deconstructing the methodology behind this paper would fill a book."

Read the complete article.

Perpetual escapism

One definition of "pornography" deems it---The depiction or portrayal of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse (as by lurid details) a quick intense emotional reaction.

With but a moment's thought, you can see that this will apply to many sorts of things besides sex. In fact, it is quite possible to develop an unhealthy voyeuristic/vicarious interest is such things as movies, sports, and current events (to name just three). Let's consider each of these briefly:

While one may like a particular movie or admire the talents of a particular star, it is quite another matter to watch the Oscars every year with what could only be described as a "rooting interest." Why should a typical viewer care who wins the awards? Does he have a financial interest in the film, is he personal friends with anyone on the crew?

Some women have told me that they watch the Oscars only to see what the stars are wearing. Now that's interesting. Is there even the most minute chance that these common folk would ever spend the thousands of dollars required for those originals? Could we call this "fashion pornography"?

Likewise, it is one thing to watch a sporting event for its temporary entertainment value, but something far different to "live or die" with the results of the team. I recall an incident from some years ago when I was at a parents' weekend at the University of Arizona. There, I encountered an elderly couple who were rabid fans of the University of Washington--the football opponent for that weekend.

They proudly told me that they had attended all games (home and away) for many years, and were dressed in all the purple UW regalia. We continued to converse. I was astounded at the ardor of their support for all things Husky. I gently suggested to them that neither the University of Washington nor the composition and code of the football team in any way even remotely resembled what they experienced during their attendance in the 1940s. In fact, I would venture that the present-day school represents a value system that they are in disagreement with! So, to what were they being "loyal"? Their reply: "We had never thought about it before."

More than that, isn't physical culture supposed to be about keeping yourself fit and healthy, rather than garnering some sort of, yes, pornographic fulfillment in the physical accomplishments of others?

As to current events, we all know someone who is absolutely obsessed with keeping up with what's going on. But, why? If you truly are a fan of Obama, how does his "triumph" of passing Obamacare make up for the fact that in all likelihood, it will actually destroy your current plan? How do his endless vacations help you personally? If you happen to be Black, how does his success help you personally? Is their some vicarious thrill of putting down The Man?

In the end, it is all escapism...pornography by another name. Imagine if people had to face their lives of quiet desperation (as Thoreau so elegantly put it), without this crutch?

The real third rail in American politics

The conventional wisdom still holds that "Social Security is the third rail in American politics." The metaphor refers, of course, to the third rail of electric-powered trains, and touching that rail will most likely be fatal.

Like most conventional wisdom, though, it is clearly wrong. For example, if some politician discussed making social security voluntary, it is difficult to see how such a concept would be fatal—especially if articulated to younger voters. What would be fatal is the notion of taking social security away from those already receiving and relying on it, and I've never heard anyone suggest that.

The real third rail is a concept that would be popular with the majority of our citizens, but under current PC diktat would nonetheless be fatal. This real third rail is quite simple: Imposing qualifications for voting.

I'm not talking about any sort of literacy test or a poll tax. Rather, I suggest that one need to be a taxpayer and/or not be on welfare to be allowed to vote. The specific terms involved can be debated, but most would agree that those who are not paying into the system should have no say in what it pays out.

Charity is a wonderful thing, but it is only in our perverse social welfare state that it can be dictated (at least partially) by the recipient. It's bad enough that politicians (mostly Democrats) have perfected the art of giving gifts to public employees' unions, so they will continue to vote Democratic, and pay for the re-election campaigns. As taxpayers, these workers are entitled to having a say, even if they are obviously gaming the system. That problem must be dealt with separately.

Of course, imposing qualifications for voting, and doing many other things that could possibly fix our broken system will probably never happen. And, by the way, this includes the foolish "Return to the Constitution" nonsense that we hear all the time.

If you read Article I Section 8, you will see that Congress can do whatever it wants: "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

The Feds have grabbed power right from the beginning, and as mass communications improved, they have grabbed it all the more.

I am not optimistic about turning around our nation's decline, but two things would be essential: Term limits and requirements for voting. Good luck having either of these come true.

Speaking of HAIs

A hospital in Lévis, Quebec, Canada is asking 1,000 patients who had colonoscopy and endoscopy procedures done—from June 14, 2005, until May 1, 2013—to submit to HIV and hepatitis B and C screening after finding out that equipment used in those procedures had not been adequately sterilized.

That's right. A particular scope was not properly disinfected for nearly eight years!

Further insight is provided by Lawrence Muscarella.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)

This HND piece revisits the always important issue of healthcare-associated infections--formerly known as nosocimial infections. Strangely, authorities still use the 2002 figures of 1.7 million infections with 98,000 deaths, even though there is much more recent data available.

Some authorities, including Betsy McCaughey, believe that the 1.7 million number is vastly understated, given the prevalence of superbugs such as MRSA, Clostridium difficile, VRE, and CRE. Infection control guru Lawrence Muscarella also has big questions about the accuracy of the data, since most of it is strictly unvalidated self-reports.

We also comment on infections derived from hospital textiles--an area that deserves more attention.

Read the complete article.

Invisible no more

This HND piece traces the history of microscopy, covering many of the big names from the 16th century on.

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough, though, occurred in 1939 with the advent of the electron microscope. As such, magnification would no longer be stymied by the diffraction limitations of visible light. Also covered is the exciting technology of Atomic Force Microscopy.

Read the complete article.