Two prime ministers and a president appear to have taken a photo of themselves this morning at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. First Lady Michelle Obama is Rihanna-level unmoved. This image quickly became the most important thing on the Internet. What does it mean? Is a selfie in a group not a selfie at all, but a groupie? (The Oxford English Dictionary named selfie Word of the Year and defines it as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”) These people don’t work for the dictionary, though; the dictionary works for them.
Read more. [Image: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images]
This episode of If Our Bodies Could Talk is a companion video to the recent, highly-polarizing, love-and-hate-mail-generating Fist Bump Manifesto. Business is dirty; you don’t have to be. A practical guide to the professional fist bump.
Listening to caregivers from other countries, it’s easy to feel exasperated about U.S healthcare. American hospitals are filled with good people trying to do good work, but at every turn the system of misplaced incentives gets in the way of good patient care.
Indeed, the most pressing problem with American healthcare is that it is too wasteful.
Read more. [Image: Tsering Topgyal/AP]
On December 9, 1979, the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication signed their names to the statement that “smallpox has been eradicated from the world.”
It was the first time that a disease had been banished from the earth by the planning and action of the world’s public health professionals. And it became a model for later (ongoing) efforts to eradicate polio and several lesser known diseases.
The disease only spread from human to human, so there had been an unbroken chain of infection for more than three millennia. In the 1960s, before the eradication program, more than half a million people died every year from the disease.
But in country after country, vaccination and isolation programs lowered rates of infection until the numbers dwindled to one person who was infected, the last patient.
Read more. [Image: World Health Organization]
Today the U.S. Senate will hear a bill to change the way many laws regard people with a chronic, treatable illness. Do laws that categorically criminalize HIV exposure, however unlikely the risk of transmission, actually increase its spread?
Let’s say you were to fall off the ladder while putting up your trademark, Clark Griswold-style Christmas lights. You’re rushed to the emergency room, evaluated, and stabilized. Then the hospital has several options: They can send you home or admit you as an inpatient for further treatment. But increasingly, hospitals are shuffling older patients to a third alternative, a category called “observation status” under which patients are monitored (and often treated) by doctors, but never formally “admitted” in the eyes of either the hospital or the insurer.
As it turns out, this classification is great for hospitals, but it can be far more expensive for patients.
Between 2001 and 2009, Medicare claims for observation status rose 100 percent, according to a recent report from the public policy arm of the AARP, and the rise was greatest for longer observation stays of 48 hours or more.
So why the uptick?
Read more. [Image: Lars Plougmann/flickr]
Chris Tidmarsh graduated from Hope College with a degree in chemistry and environmental studies. He got a job in environmental research but lost it shortly after and moved back home.
"Clearly, he needed a different path to apply his talents in the world of work," said his mother Jan Pilarski. Chris has autism.
"Nearly all of his peers with autism were chronically unemployed despite having post-secondary degrees," Pilarski wrote recently. “Our world seemed small and bleak. I didn’t have much hope to change the minds of potential employers to help Chris get a job. On the other hand, I saw an opportunity to be entrepreneurial about the staggering 90 percent unemployment rate confronting people with autism.”
Read more. [Image: Green Bridge Growers]
For people who had been awaiting the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in order to obtain health insurance for the first time, the major problem associated with American healthcare has been a lack of access to it. But for a surprising number of Americans, the greater problem may be exactly the opposite: They are receiving too much healthcare. And that’s not good news for either their wallets or their physical well-being.
Read more more. [Image: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters]
If you took to heart the recent cover story in The Economist, “How Science Goes Wrong,” you might be tempted throw your hands up and stop reading about scientific research entirely. The piece describes how scientists often fail to reproduce some of the most frequently cited findings in their fields, calling their conclusions into question. Science writers have also come under fire recently, most notably Malcolm Gladwell, who according to critics in the The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and Slate, among others, cherry-picks research to fit his thesis and hangs major arguments on poorly replicated studies in his latest book, David and Goliath.
Weeks spent looking into the eyes of a loved one cause the brain to release nurturing hormones. In putting another before you, everything becomes more satisfying. Life can have meaning anew or at last.
When that person is a baby, though, it can also be boring. Though the parental bulbs pulsate, the higher cortices of the brain begin to whither and erode, under-stimulated in the absence of worldly adult conversation and pursuits. Baby does not enjoy museums. Baby does not get your jokes.
It’s not his fault. His intellect is like that of a sentient grapefruit. But that doesn’t mean your brain needs to go undernourished. You can feed on him as he feeds on you.
Read more. [Image: AlexeyLosevich/Shutterstock]