Posts Tagged ‘health’
A two-decade study of dietary components and human physiology have led the CDC to conclude that, “the all-too-common assumption that the human body is somehow incapable of properly processing gluten – principally wheat gluten – has no scientific basis and rests solely on the documented increasing wussiness of Read the rest of this entry »
New York (AP) – Organizers of the New York City Marathon have announced that they are canceling the event this year and do not intend to schedule one for the foreseeable future, citing the realization that it is monumentally stupid to run 26.2 miles.
The New York Road Runners, the body that administers the race, issued a press release and online notices to the effect that the annual competition held every November would no longer Read the rest of this entry »
Woods, 38, had noticed in recent months that his waistline, belly, and backside regions had grown more ample than he remembered, and resolved to undertake a diet and exercise routine to help him drop the excess mass and volume. Read the rest of this entry »
Coral Gables, FL (AP) – Ever since she began a restrictive diet last month, Michelle Cowan, a correspondent for the Associated Press, has been unable to complete a sentence in her article submissions without lapsing into fantasies involving luscious chocolate desserts and other decadent gustatory experiences.
The reporter, 38, finally resolved over the summer to do something about the unsightly extra adipose tissue accumulating around her midsection, resembling in texture a brioche before it has been placed in the oven and baked to fluffy, buttery perfection. So she embarked on a strict regimen limiting her caloric intake to no more than 1500 calories in any 24-hour period, hoping to shed the extra weight within a reasonable amount of time and not be constantly consumed by unfulfilled thoughts of creamy, sumptuous cheesecake with a subtle but cinnamony graham cracker crust.
Initially, Cowan’s resolve and the novelty of the effort combined to keep her appetite and imagination in check, but within three days of lower caloric intake, her cravings for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or fresh, crisp french fries became overpowering. Her editor and coworkers noticed that every statement, irrespective of its relevance to the subject at hand, included an unnecessarily lengthy exploration of a memorable baked macaroni and cheese dish or homemade schnitzel right from the skillet, for example.
Managing Editor Mark Mywords attempted to address the problem directly by sending out a group e-mail with a reminder of certain style policies, but was drowned out as reporters and interns shared recipes for teriyaki beef and gnocchi with tomato cream sauce. He followed up with a disciplinary meeting for several egregious offenders, at which Cowan and fellow correspondent Samantha Drakes continued to turn every line of conversation into a discussion of Entenmann’s crumb-topped donuts.
This is not the first time a journalism outfit has been compromised by thoughts of garlicky chicken soup with fluffy dumplings. A similar development occurred at the Washington Post in 1994, the year this reporter discovered a deli with a stacked corned-beef-on-rye to make even the most die-hard vegan salivate. The New York Times suffered the same fate in 1971 and 1973, when editor A. M. Rosenthal brought in leftovers from a family member’s Bar Mitzva celebration, and reporters were stuffing themselves on cream cheese rugelach for weeks.
At press time, this reporter was still ravenously desirous of a pastrami burger.
Bayside, NY (AP) – A biannual convention of researchers and people diagnosed with the Tourette Syndrome motor disorder erupted into chaos yesterday when a group of attendees began yelling obscenities at one another and disrupting the proceedings.
The Tourette Syndrome Association, headquartered in this Queens neighborhood, was holding its gathering to share updates on research into the origins, pathology, and treatment of the condition, which affects up to four percent of the population. It is typically associated with muscle tics, often including the sudden making of sounds by the mouth. One of the less common features among sufferers is coprolalia, or a tendency to spout rude words and phrases. In this case, they involved an escalating series of sexual and fecal expletives applied to the speakers, the audience, and one another.
According to eyewitnesses, three or four of the attendees apparently had that symptom of the disorder, and reacted loudly and obscenely in turn to certain announcements. Lisa Matlin, one of the association directors, attempted to ignore the yelling and continue her remarks from the podium, but the three shouting attendees got progressively louder and more offensive, forcing Ms. Matlin to wait until the three could be removed from the room. As they were removed, the offending individuals unleashed a barrage of curses and threats, colorfully likening the others present to the waste and seminal emissions of various large, malodorous animal species.
Even among those assembled, who are most accustomed to providing an understanding, tolerant environment for coprolalia sufferers, the outburst was unusually difficult to stomach. Sidney Rudolph, whose eleven-year-old son Trevor exhibits the tendency, acknowledged that he had never heard anyone so vividly and continuously compared to painful, lewd acts with power tools. “I couldn’t help but get angry,” he recalled afterwards, “especially since adults with coprolalia have usually managed to remove themselves from difficult situations when they feel a verbal tic coming on, There was something really problematic about the way these guys handled this.”
Indeed, according to Wesley McInnis, who is both a clinical researcher and who lives with the syndrome, the three men, who have not been identified, might well have exaggerated or completely fabricated the severity of their apparent conditions. “It’s suspicious to me that three grown men, none of whom any of us have met at previous conferences, would all show up and exhibit the same rare symptoms, precisely the ones that would generate the most intense reaction,” he said. “Who would think of sticking around long enough to have people hear you wish them raped by marauding pieces of frozen excrement?”
Dr. McInnis added that the societal view of Tourette Syndrome has long focused excessively and wrongly on the small minority of sufferers who also exhibit coprolalia, when in fact the overwhelming majority of people living with Tourette Syndrome are affected solely by non-verbal tics, and are able to conduct otherwise normal lifestyles.
“%$%# bastards,” he said. “I hope they get *&^ed with a *&^ing !#$@er.”
“Oh, sorry about that,” he quickly added. “I just blurt things out sometimes.”
Atlanta, August 23 (AP) – The Centers for Disease Control has announced new findings in orthopedic research, noting that nearly half of the vertebral fractures among mothers occur subsequent to their child treading upon a crack in the pavement or the space where one piece of flooring meets another.
In a paper to be published in next week’s New England Journal of Medicine, the CDC team outlines its analysis of hospital orthopedics department statistics, which the study says indicate a close correlation between offspring crack-stepping and maternal spine fractures. The study authors did caution that the time interval between the stepping and the breaking has not yet been defined, but that the team currently believes it ranges from fractions of a second to several years.
“The implications of this study are obvious,” noted the lead author, Dr. Mo Thergus. “Beyond mere aesthetics and road safety, proper maintenance of road, sidewalk, and flooring surfaces can now be understood as a bona fide public health concern.”
Houston-area physician Allie Oxenfree, who was not involved in the study, agrees. “My orthopedic clinic sees a good number of back injuries among mothers, and one of my first questions is always, ‘Has your child been stepping on cracks recently?’ It’s been anecdotal for some time, and it’s good to see the CDC doing real clinical research to pin down this important injury factor.”
Others would like to see more research before they are prepared to accept the link between crack-stepping and back fractures. “We saw the same rush to judgment when alligator purses were linked to the likelihood of a doctor-nurse team paying housecalls,” said Lucy Steamboat, currently the head of pediatric orthopedics at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York. “But it turns out the sample size for that study was small, and it involved only fourth-grade girls with a sense of rhythm.”
In recent weeks the Elton John tissues in the vicinity of the appendix had become inflamed, and antibiotics became necessary to keep the John from causing further, possibly irreversible or fatal, damage to the appendix. Surgeons performed the operation after the regimen of medications had forestalled the immediate danger.
The appendix characterized the growth of the multiple Grammy Award winner as a “ticking time bomb” that posed a mortal threat. While the danger was very real, however, surgery to remove such parasitic entities from appendixes are exceedingly routine, and no complications were reported in this case.
As a result of the successful operation, the appendix has been spared having to go with an attached Elton John to the ceremony granting the singer the Brits Icon Award, where it would risk exposure to perilous levels of glurge, hyperbole, flattery, shallowness, gossiping, and vanity.
Bonn, Germany (AP) – German health authorities are investigating allegations that, in contravention of European Union health guidelines, the witch who lures children into her candy-and-cake house in order to cook and eat them uses high-fructose corn syrup to prepare the sweets and confections. High-fructose corn syrup is banned in the EU.
Yaga, the witch, lives in the Black Forest, and has for centuries practiced cannibalism of wandering children, whom she attracts by means of the candies and cakes that compose much of her cottage. Ministry of Health inspectors made a visit to Yaga’s residence yesterday and took samples of the candy roof tiles, candy cane window frames, cookie doorknobs and swabbings of various other foodstuffs used in the construction of the house and its furnishings.
The samples have been transferred to a laboratory in Baden-Baden, and investigators expect results by the middle of next week. A portion of the samples have also been sent to the central EU Health Directorate investigative division in Maastricht, the Netherlands, where parallel analysis will take place, according to Directorate spokesman Jüve Gottebekidding.
“Technically this matter is still under the jurisdiction of the German internal authorities, but as a courtesy they customarily collect enough material in their investigations to share with us so we can double-check their findings,” said Gottebekidding. “Since in this case it’s a small-scale operation, not a major pan-European enterprise, the Directorate sees no need to get directly involved.” Punitive measures against the witch, if they prove warranted, will be a matter for the German authorities to determine.
Yaga herself was unavailable for comment, but her attorney, Jan Derwindobreks, says his client denies any wrongdoing. “Yaga has been using the same locally available ingredients since she began luring children to their deaths hundreds of years ago,” he insisted. Derwindobreks says he and his client are confident the investigation will exonerate Yaga, and she will be able to return to her practice of attracting helpless children into her lair, fattening them up, and cooking them.
While the investigation is in progress, Yaga is barred from further production of sweets. As the candies are an integral part of the witch’s roof and other building elements, Derwindobreks laments that his client must resort to standard building materials in order to replace the pieces that children eat before they are lured inside, and she lacks the experience to properly install each item. As a result, the structural integrity of the house is in peril.
Health Ministry spokesman Willy Kwitchergreipen said the injunction was temporary, pending the outcome of the investigation, and that it is standard practice. “We make no exceptions when it comes to our regular procedure – as soon as Ms. Yaga is cleared of malfeasance in this regard we will rescind the injunction and she may return to her customary production of sweets – provided they contain no high-fructose corn syrup.”
The ingredient, a modified form of glucose syrup derived from corn, has been associated with diabetes and other ills, and was banned by EU authorities two years ago. Most European confection manufacturers have readily complied, though the added expense and logistical hurdles inherent in switching to other forms of sugar have proved troublesome. According to Kwitchergreipen, it remains unclear where Yaga may have obtained the syrup, as imports of it have been barred since the ban went into effect and it has only been available from major industrial suppliers. None of those suppliers has had any of the syrup in stock since then, he said.
“It remains possible that, if in fact we find evidence that Ms. Yaga used high-fructose corn syrup, she synthesized it herself.” Investigators did document the presence in the house of several types of equipment that could be used in the production of high-fructose corn syrup, such as cauldrons, stirring implements, and brooms, the bottoms of which are often made of broom corn.
If found in violation of the regulations, Yaga faces a fine of up to 50,000 Euros and will be prohibited from manufacturing confections. Derwindobreks is confident that she will be found to have complied all along, but worries that if the investigation concludes she used the banned substance, she will be left with no other means to sustain herself.
“She could starve,” he warned.
Bethesda, MD (AP) – The National Institutes of Health has released a new study linking parenting failures with children who suffer from allergies.
Covering research spanning more than two decades, the most recent study reviews and analyzes more than 600 surveys and clinical initiatives involving children living with at least one parent. It catalogs the steep documented rise in the incidence of allergies among children and correlates it with the manifest decline in parenting competence since the Baby Boomer generation’s children began having children themselves.
To ensure that the correlation actually indicated causation and that the link was not the result of third factor, the researchers investigated the prevalence of bad parenting before and after the documented increase in children’s allergies. They found that bad parenting practices increased by a significant margin several years before the spike in allergies.
Certain environmental allergies had always been relatively common, such as hay fever and, to a lesser extent, some dietary allergies, such as dairy or nuts. But in the seventies, eighties and nineties, as exposure to disco, cable television, George Steinbrenner, bell-bottoms, the British royal family, platform shoes, Prince, My Little Pony, the 1972 Presidential campaign, Mike Tyson, the acting in the MacGyver series, and myriad other evils increased and parents failed to adequately shield their children from those malignant influences, the incidence of allergies began to rise. It increased steadily through the nineties and into the first decade of the twenty-first century as parent continued to knowingly allow their children prolonged encounters with such harmful forces as Lindsay Lohan, Dubstep, a New York Rangers Stanley Cup, George W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, and Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey flavor ice cream.
Today, nearly one in four children suffers from an allergy of some kind. According to the NIH report, “this phenomenon can only be attributed to the atrocious parenting exhibited over the last several decades.” The report noted that outside the US, where the aforementioned pernicious influences are much less intense or prevalent, allergy rates are much lower. “In other developed countries, such as Israel or most of Western Europe, the frequency of life-threatening allergic reaction to peanut butter is close to nonexistent,” the researchers noted, pointing out that, for example, Keanu Reeves films and anchovy pizza remain only mildly popular in those locations.
The NIH has yet to formulate public policy guidelines as a result of these findings. Harvard University Professor of Public Policy Barkeen Guptha Wrongtree explains that a good number of the officials who would have to approve, implement, or oversee such a policy are themselves part of the problem, not least because of their own demonstrated failings as parents.
Geneva, Switzerland, July 30 (AP) In an unexpectedly ambitious proposal, the World Health Organization announced this morning that it has formulated a plan to completely eliminate AIDS by the end of this calendar year, simply by no longer referring to it as AIDS.
If adopted by enough countries, the WHO plan could change the face of worldwide public health, eliminating one of the most virulent scourges of the last three decades. By the simple and quick step of changing the name of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome to something else, governments and health workers in such devastated areas as Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia can conceivably reach the point where there is no longer a need to fight AIDS.
“The most effective solutions to complex problems are usually the simplest,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan at a press conference to announce the bold new initiative. “And we can achieve, with this extremely simple measure, what the world has only achieved once before – the complete eradication of a communicable disease.” She referred to smallpox, which, in 1980, was declared eliminated. It thus became the first disease to be removed from the human population through human efforts.
Chan spoke of the funds that could be freed up to focus on research and treatment of the world’s myriad other health concerns. “In just a few short months – weeks, even, if our constituents act with sufficient alacrity – we could already be in the post-AIDS era. The hundreds of millions of dollars that go each year toward finding a cure for AIDS can now be directed toward other worthy ends,” she continued. “We are on the cusp of a revolution in health care and in public health policy.”
In developing the new policy proposal, WHO researchers noted that they were inspired by the way in which American society has confronted its racial tensions. Whereas in the nineteenth century it was common for white-negro relations to be the context for intense animosity and outright violence, by the middle of the twentieth century, the society had apparently outgrown that problem, which was well timed: the country now faced an equally troublesome white-colored divide.
The challenges and discrimination affecting the colored population have all but ceased in the intervening years, however, and the WHO was impressed by how thoroughly the US has moved beyond its troubling treatment of colored people. The latter case was cited specifically in the WHO proposal as an example of how crucial timely solutions can become; as the century progressed, the US found it more and more necessary to address racial issues with the African-American community. That demographic is not listed in earlier social literature, indicating that once again, American society freed up the necessary resources to grapple with discrimination against African-Americans by a timely elimination of its need to fight discrimination against colored people.
The precedents are not restricted to social history. In 1993, musician Prince was rechristened The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, meaning that the world would no longer be subject to any more new creations from Prince. However, in 2000 he began to be referred to once again by the former name, illustrating the commitment that the WHO must demonstrate if it is to spearhead the elimination of AIDS by changing its name, according to Barkeen Guptha Wrongtree, Professor of Public Health Policy at Harvard.
“The WHO and its regional subsidiaries must really stick with the nomenclature shift, or the consequences will be disastrous,” he explained. “I mean, it’s not on the same level of disaster that the return of Prince represented, but it’s still pretty bad.”
Washington, DC (AP) – Responding to growing concerns over access to methods of birth control, the National Institutes of Health issued new guidelines to you today, assuring you that just being yourself would provide all the protection against pregnancy that you will ever need.
A report entitled Useful Guidelines for Libidinal You (UGLY) gives an analysis of the effectiveness of this method. According to UGLY statistics, just being yourself prevents pregnancy and most sexually transmitted diseases, topping even the latex condom in effectiveness. The condom is 98% effective in preventing pregnancy and STDs such as herpes and HIV, while being yourself achieves 100% prevention.
The NIH cautions that just being yourself works to prevent pregnancy only for about 84% of the population. The other 16% are both actually physically attractive and have a personality that does not make others cringe. For that segment of the population, existing methods of birth control and infection prevention remain the recommended procedures.
The NIH report’s conclusions are already enjoying a surprising level of bipartisan support, given the historic acrimony over birth control and other reproductive issues between Republicans and Democrats. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has already welcomed the report, praising it for its candor in touting methods that do not rely on access to abortion or manipulation of the menstrual cycle, methods that make religious conservatives uneasy.
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) also praised the NIH, saying that the UGLY method shows unique promise in his home state, where rudeness and antisocial behavior have long since come to define the local ethos. “New York can be the front line for implementing this strategy,” suggested Schumer. “We’re talking about a state – and especially a city – where making eye contact is generally considered grounds for homicide.” It should be no problem, said the Senator, to let the hostility and awkwardness play its natural role of keeping the population in check.
New Jersey Governer Chris Christie, a Republican, lauded the potential for tremendous savings. “Condom distribution programs cost money, and they’re always a political hot-button issue,” acknowledged the 2016 presidential hopeful. “But who can argue with social programs that actually save money and don’t pit conservatives and liberals against each other?” added the overweight, abrasive man.
Years ago New Jersey actually began a publicity campaign to foster such down-home birth control methods. The earliest successful measure, though limited, provided the environment for Aaron Burr to kill Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Already in the early nineteenth century the Garden State had secured a reputation as a backwater, lawless place, and the two combatants agreed that Weehawken made a suitably unpleasant location to fight to the death. It has not changed much in the intervening two centuries.
More recently, New Jersey played host to The Sopranos, a hit HBO drama involving realistic mobsters, emphasizing the petty, ugly concerns that characterize not only the life of a mafia boss but of every inhabitant of the state outside Princeton. A few years later, the reality TV series Jersey Shore introduced the typical New Jersey characters to viewers nationwide, allowing the state’s residents to bask in the disgust and contempt that has always made New Jersey notable.
The state’s efforts received an unexpected endorsement this past fall when the Nets, formerly of New Jersey, relocated to Brooklyn, demonstrating that some places are even less welcoming than New York.
New York, NY (AP) – Continuing his efforts to employ mayoral authority to stem the rising tide of obesity, New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg launched another initiative today aimed at curtailing children’s consumption of fatty, sugary foods, this time as part of the treats traditionally distributed by the birthday celebrant to his or her departing guests.
The goody bag, or loot bag, as it is known in some quarters, traditionally contains several sweets and greasy or salty snacks, and sometimes cake or cookies. Some versions also include a small game or toy, but the focus of the new initiative – and of the kids who receive the bags – remains on the food portion of the contents.
Pending approval by the City Council, the measure would limit such bags to a single “fun size” sweet or salty treat, with the remainder of the contents comprising unprocessed fruits or vegetables and no more than 2 ounces of starchy, unsweetened material such as crackers or pretzels. Non-food items are not subject to the new legislation, and no limits would be placed on the quantity or type.
Earlier versions of the measure had a proposed mandatory inclusion of information on the importance of healthful eating habits, but according mayoral aides, Mr. Bloomberg quickly realized that such a requirement would be cumbersome and would necessitate further bureaucratic involvement to produce or approve such material and provide for its adequate distribution throughout the five boroughs.
The mayor’s previous anti-obesity initiative sought to ban the sale of large-size soft drinks. Though that measure passed the City Council, a subsequent lawsuit and opposition by the soft drink industry resulted in its cancellation. The goody bag industry does not enjoy the same financial and political clout as the soft drink companies, and experts expect the measure to remain on the books if it passes.
“Odds are this one will do well,” said N. Annie State, a political analyst for the journal Welfare Mom’s Day. “The snack food industry is too fragmented to put up much of a fight, and parents everywhere are getting more and more health-conscious.”
Other experts disagreed. “The demographic that actually puts together goody bags is not the demographic that suffers most from childhood obesity,” noted Ray Syst, who writes about diet and class issues for Time Magazine. “The people who buy the junk food in quantity are the ones who don’t have time to prepare a wholesome birthday party to begin with – they’ll just take the kid out to Burger King or some pizza place. This legislation misses the point entirely, and inconveniences people without accomplishing its goal.”
Syst said a better initiative would be to institute a minimum age for fast food items such as most states already have for tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, but acknowledges that would be an uphill fight even in regulation-friendly sates such as New York. Alternatively, he suggested, bag manufacturers could be required to print warnings regarding the dangers of overconsumption of unhealthy foods, much in the way cigarette packages must feature such a prominent label.
Chicago, IL, April 24 (AP) – S, an infant born early last week, is already dreading the lifetime of hearing about the discomfort and trouble he caused his parents in the day leading up to his birth.
“I can’t wait for it to kick in,” remarked the nine-day-old, grimacing at the thought, or possibly at nothing. “You’d think world events, or actually amusing things, would make better fodder for conversation, but no, it’ll be decades before discussion of my mother’s experience with me peters out.”
His mother is expected to regale friends and acquaintances with the 34 hours of labor preceding S’s delivery by suction in the wee hours of last Sunday. After the postpartum period, when talk of the labor and delivery is typical of any birth aftermath, the mother’s relatively unusual travails will continue to be described when she wishes to contribute to a conversation about childbirth, or when she wishes to half-jokingly explain her child’s tendencies or behavior.
S’s fears are well founded, says Columbia University cultural anthropologist Beth Nossentrik. “The difficulty of a labor and delivery is a reliable predictor of the number of times the experience will be brought up in conversation,” she explained in a telephone interview. “For each additional hour of labor, a mother can be expected to tell her story an average of eleven times per year in the first four years, with the number gradually decreasing – unless she subsequently has more children, in which case the number actually increases by two until four years after the last child is born.”
According to Nossentrik, other factors can add to the number of times the narrative is rehashed. In this case, she says the fact the labor went on that long without a Cesarean Section being performed has the potential to add anywhere from six to eight occasions for relating the story over the next two years, and twice per year on average after that.
Chicago-area family therapist Hedda Schrinker concurs. “The statistics are pretty robust in that regard,” she said in an e-mail. “Mothers tend to want to share the unusual aspects of their childbirth experience. What I would also add is that the numbers tick up again slightly when she is about to become a grandmother, and do not really come down again,” unless she eventually suffers a stroke or other debilitating condition that removes her ability to communicate coherently.
S’s parents also feature the additional augmenting factor of friends in multiple far-flung places who will need the story repeated to them individually, as they will not be in position to hear it collectively. Shrinker has attempted to reassure S that his situation is not unique, and that many other perfectly dysfunctional parent-child relationships have weathered this sort of repeated rehashing.
“He kind of whined when I said that,” admitted Shrinker. “It reminds me of when I had my second daughter…” she began.
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Cambridge, MA (AP) – Researchers at Harvard have found what they consider convincing proof that it is just fine for complete strangers to make unsolicited contact with the protruding midsection of a pregnant woman.
In a paper to be published next month in the New England Journal of Medicine, a team of physicians presents the evidence in favor of people you don’t know from Adam up and touching your pregnant belly. “It’s a life-affirming experience to encounter a mother-to-be, and the healthiest possible reaction is to invade the personal space of that mother,” said the lead researcher, Dr. Leonard Asperger. “Such women have already had several months to adapt to the notion that their bodies are not exclusively their own, and having complete strangers give them an appreciative pat or stroke is just the thing to bring everyone together in a warm moment.”
The study, which observed the social effects of 1,023 visibly pregnant women over the course of six years, cataloged over 4,000 individual incidences of stranger-belly contact. It found that invariably, the mood in the immediate vicinity of the contact improved, as indicated by the number of smiles and the increased heart rate of the pregnant woman. If the contact persisted more than a second or two, the cardiovascular benefits to the pregnant mother were even more in evidence, and if the mother’s romantic partner or sibling was present, those benefits extended even to them.
“The adrenalin increase associated with the touch of the stranger has myriad positive health benefits. The increased pulse can often help during gravidity, when many women experience drops in blood pressure,” the study says. “A consistent regimen of being in an environment where strangers feel welcome to touch the protruding abdomen can help in reducing the need for medication to combat the hypotension.”
According to the researchers, such locales include, but are not limited to, train stations, bus stops, waiting rooms, supermarket aisles and Park Slope, Brooklyn. They observed that the demographic most likely to touch a pregnant stranger’s belly was people over the age of 50. Approximately the same percentage of men and women could be counted on to engage in such impromptu contact.
Asperger intends to follow up the study with an investigation into the positive impact generated when strangers offer unsolicited criticism or advice regarding someone else’s parenting.
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Atlanta, Ga (AP) – The Centers for Disease Control announced a the results of new research into the causes of malignant tumors today, and revealed the striking news that a principal factor in occurrence of the disease is whether or not the patient has uttered the word “cancer” out loud.
In an article to be published in next month’s New England Journal of Medicine, CDC researchers present data documenting about 4,500 cancer patients of various varieties. Of those patients, approximately 4,494 had uttered the word audibly sometime during their lives, and subsequently developed malignancies.
The discovery has both alarmed and excited oncologists and researchers. Forrest Forthetreez, the study’s lead author, said that if the study’s data are accurate, under current circumstances tens of millions of Americans are at grave risk for the disease. “But that’s only half the story. It also turns out that folk wisdom has been way ahead of medical research, and that there’s already a widespread practice to whisper the name of the disease, or not say it at all. My mother still calls it ‘that sickness.’”
Already, the CDC plans several follow-up studies. One will look at different types of cancer to determine whether the effect varies from one variety of the disease to another. A second study will look at populations that speak languages other than English to detect any variations in susceptibility associated with using terms from those languages. A third proposed study, which has yet to receive approval for funding, aims to look for the same effect with other diseases.
If further research substantiates the findings of the most recent study, says Julia Sartan, a Sloan-Kettering oncologist in New York, the obvious course of action is a publicity campaign to educate people as to the risks of uttering the word “cancer” at full volume. “There have been successful campaigns of this kind before,” she noted, citing efforts to get parents to vaccinate children, and anti-smoking publicity. “It can take years, but the impact on public health could be tremendously positive.”
“Also,” she added, “I want to see what happens when the preventive techniques are used in conjunction with the proven ‘knock on wood’ immunization procedure.”
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Seattle, WA (AP) – The Association of American Body Piercing, a trade group, is warning its members to expect a slowdown in demand in the coming years as American youth run out of body parts in which to make holes.
Citing statistics that point to the emerging trend, the association sent a notice to its 24,000 member practitioners that discussed the challenges soon to confront the industry as fewer and fewer American youngsters have available areas of epithelial tissue through which to stick a metal stud or other adornment. Though many piercing experts expected continued growth ever since the emergence of the punk scene decades ago, it appears that the industry has increasingly depended on repeat business from goths, misfits and just plain weirdos.
“We should have seen years ago that our business model was unsustainable,” said Loeb Needler, a tattoo and piercing parlor owner in Spokane. “But we kept looking at the total numbers, not once looking at the fact that we’ve been piercing the same people over and over again, and they’re running out of places to stick a new accessory.”
Perversely, according to the association notice, although more and more American youths are overweight or even obese, which should reflect vastly increased potential areas for piercings, the increasing prevalence of the overweight among American youth has a depressing effect on the piercing industry. Heavier people tend to be more sedentary, and thus are less likely to pay an impulse visit to a piercing studio. Also, the increased fleshiness of American youth means plentiful folds that wind up concealing or obscuring desirable piercing locations. That fleshiness both makes infection more likely and eliminates the aesthetic or social value, if any, of the piercing.
Another factor is the greater and greater reliance among American youth on social interactions in the online realm, where one can easily Photoshop as many piercings into once image as desired, but without the headache of actually undergoing what might be a permanent alteration.
Needler is not completely convinced, however, that the industry faces a mortal threat. “There have to be other people out there who aren’t obese,” he contends. “I mean, if American kids are so damn fat, who’s buying all the skinny jeans?”
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Washington, DC (AP) – Today the House of Representatives passed a measure already ratified in the Senate last week specifically removing the overweight from the classes of people that federal law protects against discrimination. The vote passed both houses by large margins.
The Americans Demand Immediate Pillorying Of Sizes Excessive (ADIPOSE) Act, sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), initially got stuck in committee, but eventually lawmakers found a way to force its passage in that forum. The bill’s momentum ensured that it would roll right through the remaining legislative hurdles. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law this week, in keeping with First Lady Michelle Obama’s recent devotion to promoting physical fitness and proper nutrition among American youth.
“It’s a big day for Americans,” said Schumer. “No longer will we be forced to squeeze ourselves into the confines of political correctness run amok. From now on, employers in every sector of the economy and society can reject applicants because they are slovenly, obese creatures.”
Heavy opposition initially blocked the bill in its early stages, as fast food giants threw their weight around. The industry fears that open discrimination against the overweight will adversely affect its cash cow market. In the end, however, Senate Democrats managed to force a vote by threatening to bring in Richard Simmons to address Congress, and last-minute holdouts relented when a life-size poster of a shirtless William Howard Taft was unveiled.
Fast-food industry spokesmen said the companies they represent are considering their next steps, but concede that their advertising already insults the intelligence of their biggest customers, and that outright, in-your-face discrimination constitutes only a small shift from the current marketing strategy. “Like our largest market segment, our strategy doesn’t need to move very much,” noted Martin Biggs, an attorney for Taco Bell, Denny’s and several other national fast-food chains.
“In fact the new law might solve more problems for my clients than it causes,” mused Biggs. “They can continue to serve fattening food to their clientele till the cows come home, all while hiring only svelte staff to maintain employee morale – because, let’s face it, there’s not much more to hope for from a McJob.”
Already, several McDonald’s franchises in the DC area have rolled out policies in keeping with the new, looser regulations. A branch in the Market Square neighborhood had a seven-foot-tall, five-foot-wide cardboard cutout of the Happy Meal character Grimace, holding a sign that said: To Eat Here You May Not Be As Fat As This Sign.
The National Association for Overweight Americans did not return calls requesting a response. Their outgoing voice mail message said, “We are currently evaluating our options: either fight this thing all the way to the supreme court, or – you know, let’s get real. There’s no way we can get into the Supreme Court. Do you have any idea how far it is from the parking lot to the front entrance?”
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Recurring depression, huh? I’m sorry. You must be having a difficult time. I know you’ve been in and out of treatment for a while, and it’s not really my place to get involved in that, but have you ever considered misguided imagery?
A good misguided imagery facilitator can help you reach some real breakthroughs especially if you’re looking to make that depression stop recurring, and simply be there all the time, the way it should. I know a girl who saw this misguided imagery specialist, and wham! She was confused as hell in no time. Really took her mind off her terminal illness for a while. And my next-door neighbor shouts much more coherently at his TV set now, after he went through a whole series of misguided imagery sessions.
You’ve probably encountered something similar before, but in misguided imagery, instead of taking the client on an emotional, spiritual or psychological journey toward a better attitude or a solution, the therapist focuses on getting you to get hung up on the nitty-gritty, the mundane, the completely pointless, so you don’t have to go through the stress of worrying constantly about mounting bills, emotional trauma, dysfunctional relationships, whatever. That stuff doesn’t matter, anyway, not when there are countless images in the real world, not to mention in your imagination, of the British royal family, the Kardashians, and the latest developments in reality TV.
And the music – you might expect a meditation-like session would feature some music, and you’d be right – everything from bluegrass to country and back again, played at twice the normal speed. It helps the brain process the images faster, so you get more efficient at it. Practice makes perfect! You want that trusty brain preoccupied with following the in-your-face, repetitive, less-than-subtle art form so it doesn’t have time to devote to the sewer that your life has become. Imagine you’re somewhere else and you never have to come back! Maybe even a place like Heaven. They might even play country music there!
I’m no expert in therapy, I know, but I do know you have to watch out for the charlatans. You want to make sure the misguided imagery therapist knows what he or she is doing. That means no one from those highfalutin universities, no way. At those places, they beat the misguided everything out of the student in no time. You need a community college graduate, or better yet, a dropout, with plenty of exposure to the new-age world. Better yet, someone who goes in for conspiracy theories, or who professes deep mistrust of anything that’s been subjected to scientific testing.
I’m glad to provide this information; no, don’t thank me. You haven’t even tried it yet. After you do, let me know how it goes. In the meantime, I’ll be at work, making these pornographic rosary beads.
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Washington, DC (AP) – The incoming Obama administration has already put forward an ambitious new plan, developed with the National Rifle Association, to combat worrisome obesity trends, and it also signals a breakthrough on gun control legislation.
Long a public health issue, obesity in America has never been more prevalent; a CDC study released in August found that not a single US state had less than a 20% obesity rate, with Southern states averaging more than 35%. Many of those states support lax gun control measures, a fact that signaled opportunity to outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius.
“It became clear to me, especially after the Newtown massacre, that we need to find a way to work with the gun lobby,” she said at a press conference. “Guns are a public health issue, no question – and we need to engage the gun industry in our efforts to keep America living well.” They key, said Sibelius, was getting the NRA’s agreement on strict gun control measures in exchange for open season on obese people, of which there are now more than 78 million across the country, according to CDC statistics.
“It’s a win-win situation,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. “Everyone understands the value of free access to firearms – it’s one of our basic rights as Americans. But we at the NRA also understand that our future as a free nation is just as threatened by the lumbering, flabby dweebs who put such a strain on public resources,” he remarked.
“We believe law-abiding American gun owners and users will welcome this minor inconvenience,” he continued. The new policy “puts paid the notion that the firearms industry and its allies are incapable of compromise.”
Under the program, a pilot will first be conducted in several suburban areas with a high concentration of fast food establishments. State and local health authorities will be tasked with tagging the obese with identifying markers. Tranquilizer guns will be made available for this phase, but Sebelius expects them not be necessary in most cases. “What are they going to do, run away?” she asked with a chuckle, noting the tens of millions of dollars that would be saved in diabetes-related treatments alone.
LaPierre found particular virtue in a provision of the legislation allowing the use of armor-piercing bullets on the obese. “It’s very important that we secured that right,” he stated, and said that the NRA found any restrictions on the bullets problematic, but was willing to go along with limitations on their use in other contexts. “There will be plenty of opportunity to exercise our Second Amendment rights with whatever ammunition we desire, as long as we target only the legitimately obese – and let’s face it, they make sweet targets.”
The proposal is not without administrative and legislative hurdles. The food and beverage industry may be loath to see its prime customer base drastically reduced, but lobbyists have said they might be willing to accept some population reduction, given that obesity is a growth industry. The extent of the industry’s flexibility on the issue has yet to be tested.
Of similar concern is the number of obese Americans in possession of guns, a statistic that might complicate implementation of the policy. LaPierre has suggested giving hunters an advantage via a return to the NRA’s original core endeavor, training Americans in marksmanship and the proper use of firearms, with emphasis on tactics that require mobility and a capacity to hide behind objects smaller than a standard golf cart.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did not return several phone calls requesting comment.
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The research, which began as an examination of sports-related injuries in May 2010, soon expanded to cover a guy-inspired approach to myriad health care issues. It looked at approximately ten thousand cases of guys in pain, and for each one, determined that urging the patient to walk it off, grin and bear it, suck it up, or similar non-invasive measures, proved most effective.
Conversely, forcing the patient to submit to the emasculating experience of placing one’s welfare in the hands of a “med-school weenie,” as the report called them, invariably results in a loss of manhood from which few recover.
As a result, the CDC will introduce a set of “Play Through Pain” procedures for the treatment of injuries suffered in the course of athletic activity, in the course of manly jobs such as construction, or in the course of standing around watching such activities. The study did no look at the effects of such a course of treatment on women, but it did note an increase in pain reported by patients when a woman touched the affected area, even when, just moments before, the patient admitted no discomfort in response to being whacked in the injured area repeatedly by teammates, coworkers or opponents.
The US military has already expressed interest in a planned follow-up study, as injured soldiers account for a hefty percentage of military medical training and treatment.
Republicans in Congress have welcomed the study, as it may allow them some ammunition in pushing for reduced government coverage of medical expenses under the health care package signed into law during the last legislative session. In the same vein, the Republican National Committee is set to announce tomorrow that it has commissioned a related study to measure the therapeutic effects of channel surfing, the health care savings implications of which are vast.
Little League coaches have hailed the results of the CDC study, saying that it validates what they have long advocated. “Man up, is what we say,” according to Sid Marcus, a Baltimore-area coach of middle school softball and football teams. “You don’t need anything more than maybe an ice pack if it’s really bad, but stop being such a wuss. You think Cal Ripken didn’t feel hurt every once in a while? Lou Gherig? No pain, no gain!”
The CDC also announced that it will study the beneficial effects of administering locker-room wedgies and snapping the underwear waistbands of puny students.
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Originally posted January 7, 2012
Let’s not beat around the bush. Grandma isn’t getting any younger, and she’s no longer the independent woman we once knew. It’s time to make her remaining time on Earth easier by putting her in an Assisted Dying facility.
I hate the term “nursing home” just as much as you do, Jared. It’s far too euphemistic a phrase for a place that slowly sucks the will to live out of a person by immersing him or her in an environment characterized primarily by decaying minds and bodies. We should just call a spade a spade – and I do not refer here to the pinochle and bridge games with which Grandma will occupy her afternoons until the endless, grinding routine drives her into depression, malnutrition and death.
We know Grandma has a hard time getting around ever since she broke her hip, and she needs help just to do basic housekeeping. Well, at an assisted dying facility, they have staff dedicated to those tasks just to drive home the point that the residents have outlived any usefulness and might as well croak.
There’s also the matter of her hygiene and medical care. I admire Grandma’s mental acuity as much as the next member of this family, but we must honestly confront the question: can we rely on Grandma to take the right pills at the right times, and watch out for undesirable interaction between medications? And what about foods that make the medication regimen trickier? Would we ever forgive ourselves if she were to make a mistake, or forget she’d already taken that day’s dose, and wrought unspeakable havoc on her already failing metabolism? I doubt any one of us does not see the merit in having someone else watch over her, patronizingly doting on a fiercely independent spirit as if she’s a bumbling preschooler, to the point that Grandma no longer sees life as worth living.
Truth is, Grandma’s been lucky. She hasn’t suffered from incontinence as much as most people her age. So she won’t even have to worry, initially, about needing an attendant to change her and wipe her, what with her restricted mobility and all. But that time will come, and we don’t want our dear Grandma to be left lacking where other seniors have to experience the indignity of surrendering personal hygiene to a condescending, able-bodied assistant who habitually uses locutions such as, “Oh, are we ready to have our diaper changed?”
It’s settled, then. Wanda, you and I should sit Grandma down and try to convince her this is the only realistic option. We have to stress how tough it is on us, having to devote so much time and energy to her care, time we should be using to take care of our own families and needs. She needs to see reason – that we cannot by ourselves make her wish to expedite her exit from this world. We need her cooperation.
That way, instead of squabbling over her estate, we can preemptively spend it on her stay at the assisted dying facility.
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Washington, DC (AP) – United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon announced today that the Department had issued new guidelines to institutions under its jurisdiction that reclassify cheese danish as a vegetable.
Under its MyPlate system, the USDA uses a plate and cup logo to illustrate that about half a person’s daily caloric intake should consist of fruits and vegetables, with the remainder consisting of grains, proteins and dairy, in descending order. The reclassification of cheese danish removes it primarily from the grain portion of the diagram into the largest section, vegetables.
“This is an important step in making our dietary recommendations effective,” said Concannon. “The effect of this measure, we believe, is that Americans can now use the calories freed up by the reclassification to consume healthier grains,” he continued. A typical cheese danish provides about 400 calories.
The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a USDA agency, approved the redesignation of cheese danish after its executive director, Dr. Rajen Anand, reviewed several studies in which the scientists conducted field research at bakeries in New York, Vienna and Copenhagen. The researchers unanimously recommended the danish, though some controversy occurred when two teams disagreed over the benefits of cheese filling vs. pecan-maple. A subsequent meta-analysis confirmed the superiority of cheese filling.
CNPP Deputy Director Dr. Robert C. Post cautioned that the change may take some time to get used to. Dr. Post guided two of the agency’s divisions in formulating the new set of recommendations, the Nutrition Guidance and Analysis Division and the Nutrition Marketing and Communication Division. “Changing the way people think about nutrition and diet is part of our mission,” he proclaimed.
Under the previous Food Pyramid system that the USDA used for nineteen years, until 2011, the cheese danish was similarly considered for reclassification, but the research was not yet conclusive. Eileen Kennedy, CNPP head from 1994-1997, resisted the research efforts because celiac disease disrupted the agency’s data collection procedure, and subsequent directors preferred to emphasize the study of chocolate or confections.
The next step, said Post, is the implementation of the new guidelines in school cafeterias, health education and other programs. The food stamps program will be reconfigured to emphasize the importance of including sufficient quantities of cheese danish in one’s daily intake, in a bid to combat inner-city obesity.
“This thing is big,” said Post. “And now I think I’m going to have a cup of coffee and some vegetables.”
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CIA to Market Beverage in Primarily African-American Areas
The CIA has been working for decades to develop this new flavor and get it to catch on in the black community, seeing both the threat of competition and the ease with which certain ideas or trends catch on among those of African descent. It had a hit with Tuskegee Condoms from the 1930′s to the 1970′s, and an overseas success with the same product in Guatemala. But penetrating its target demographic has always been a challenge for the CIA, in contrast to the ease with which it sells to Americans of European extraction.
The campaign will include mascots designed to appeal to the target demographic, including a portly mother figure, a talking watermelon and coupons for discounts on corn bread, according to Jenn O’Seid, a company spokesperson. Testing of the product has been taking place in Africa, primarily in South African and Nigeria, where the HIV market is particularly strong, and a smaller-scale targeting of the niche gay market in the U.S. also looked encouraging, she said.
The initiative faces stiff competition from other entities angling for a slice of the African-American demographic. American Refreshment Yummies And Nosh (ARYAN) already has a grape drink on the market, Welfare Queen, that it boasts has “a touch of hepatitis,” according to its ad jingle. ARYAN’s market penetration tends to be confined to the Northwest, but it boasts a small but loyal following in the deep South, where it hopes to have a major impact on the population.
Foreign competition also makes the market tricky. Drink Retail United Global Sales (DRUGS) has seen continued success with its Crack flavor, which it offers in a bonus pack that also includes the ever-popular Gang War. DRUGS gained market ascendancy first, but Asian producers and smaller-scale local manufacturers such as Mississippi-East Trading House (METH) have kept business people addicted to the ever-shifting battle over market share.
CIA President Jim Crow nevertheless remains optimistic the campaign will meet its sales targets. “We’re going to stay positive. We haven’t had this much excitement generated in the market since our Poll Tax Waffles.”
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