Category: Health and wellness

To every thing, there is a season

Most of us are aware of the seasonal cycle of influenza outbreaks, which for Americans peak in the winter. In a new paper, Micaela Martinez, PhD, a scientist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, makes a case that all infectious diseases have a seasonal element. The “Pearl” article appears in the journal PLOS Pathogens. [my emphasis]

We all knew this, we just didn’t know we knew this.  Some folks are recognized as geniuses for explicating the obvious.  I’m look at you, Micaela Martinez.

CalendarOfEpidemics

Tip from Austin Bay writing at the Instatpundit,  who, like the BlogFather himself, can make even the most boring stuff sound interesting.

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Hunting the Wild Placebo

The New York Times’ Gary Greenberg asks “What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick?” and gets some interesting answers.  Along the way, he tells the interesting history of the placebo and how it has become a standard in FDA=approved clinical trials.  My only question for the FDA is this:  if someone were to attempt to certify a placebo effect, what would you compare it to?PlaceboElixir
Tip from Drudge, who, like a blind squirrel, occasionally finds a fresh nut, and never leaves a permalink.

Feline Fatal Attraction

GermyCat

I’ve long maintained that toxoplasma gondii is a pernicious parasite, and that folks with outdoor cats are taking a huge health risk.  Turns out there’s solid research backing my opinion.

The psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey agrees… His opinion stems from decades of research into the root causes of schizophrenia. “Textbooks today still make silly statements that schizophrenia has always been around, it’s about the same incidence all over the world, and it’s existed since time immemorial,” he says. “The epidemiology literature contradicts that completely.” In fact, he says, schizophrenia did not rise in prevalence until the latter half of the 18th century, when for the first time people in Paris and London started keeping cats as pets. The so-called cat craze began among “poets and left-wing avant-garde Greenwich Village types,” says Torrey, but the trend spread rapidly—and coinciding with that development, the incidence of schizophrenia soared.

Since the 1950s, he notes, about 70 epidemiology studies have explored a link between schizophrenia and T. gondii. When he and his colleague Robert Yolken, a neurovirologist at Johns Hopkins University, surveyed a subset of these papers that met rigorous scientific standards, their conclusion complemented the Prague group’s discovery that schizophrenic patients with Toxo are missing gray matter in their brains. Torrey and Yolken found that the mental illness is two to three times as common in people who have the parasite as in controls from the same region.

When’s someone going to do toxo testing on cat ladies?

Today I learned some new phrases

Say what you will about mindlessly surfing the Internet, I’m always learning something in my semi-random virtual peregrinations

  • Those places aren’t sh!th*les, they’re “fecalized environments,”
  • I had no idea the urge to knock 20 pounds off my lazy ass was “healthism,” and
  • Skipping the purchase of a shooting vest kept me from becoming a “tactical hobo.”

I do have a long-standing peeve against the phrase “earth tones” when applied to clothing.  In my experience that means dirt-colored, for which the widespread remedy seems to be washing everything together in hot water, so it all comes out a dingy grey, like that Abercrombie and Fitch crap the college kids wear.  Not a good look, unless you’re a non-tactical hobo.

UntimateTacticalHobo
However, the well-dressed tactical hobo does wear earth tones.

UpdateTamara Keel sheds some light on the whole tactical hobo thing, and throws some links that lead me to the cringe-worthy term “tacticool.”  Tip from the Instapundit.

Artichoke and Shellfish Soup

So I was suddenly confronted with a windfall of canned shellfish when our local WalMart Neighborhood store closed this month.  I decided to get even more serious about recipes based on McIntosh’s Tin Fish Gourmet.  She gives a simple recipe for Oyster and Artichoke Stew, which I embellished beyond all recognition into this rich, creamy (and low-carb) soup:

  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, halved
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 oz butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 or 2 tins of diced clams, smoked oysters, mussels, or whatever
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large avocado, quartered and (you guessed it) thinly sliced

Saute the carrot, celery, and red onion slices in oil until the onion is transparent, then add the artichoke hearts, reserving the liquid for a bit later.  When everything is nicely sauteed, set these vegetables aside.  Add the butter and flour to the pan, and whisk into a roux.  When the roux is bubbling and starting to darken, add the liquid from the artichoke hearts and any liquid from the tinned shellfish to make a sauce.  Once it comes to a boil, add the sour cream and enough milk to get a creamy soup consistency.  Add the sauteed vegetables and the shellfish, and bring to a boil.  Then turn off the heat.

Serve in shallow soup dishes, topped with 3 or 4 slices of avocado and some of the green onion.  This cries out for a dry white wine on the side.