"I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth."

--Ursula K. Leguin

November 2009



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Posts Tagged: 'health'

Oct. 22nd, 2009

Public Service: Yes, get the vaccine

Okay, this has come up one my reading lists, so I figured I should give the short version, here.

Very short low-down on swine flu, aka h1n1 novel virus: It's not horribly deadly it just spreads really fast and no one has immunity to speak of, so yes, you should get the vaccine.

Less short but still short low-down: The swine flu is, by and large, no more dangerous than any seasonal flu. It hits with about the same intensity, so we're talking three days to two weeks of general urgh to acute misery. As always, there can be complications that lead to death; that's influenza for you.

The reason it is rated a pandemic is because of how fast and widely it spreads, due to the unfortunate fact that it is a new virus and no one has more than partial immunity. Older people have gotten more flus and have more chance of that partial immunity, young people have less.

The fear, therefore, is mostly that it will hit everyone in an entire area/campus/town all at once and cause severe problems in basic functioning because everyone will be sick at the same time. No groceries, because there's maybe one person well enough to work at the store, no bus routes, no mail, that kind of thing. This is, of course, of especial concern when it comes to health care workers being hit right when they're needed most. If the ambulance drivers and nurses all have 104 fevers for five days, this is a huge problem.

The particular danger signs are intense nausea and the inability to keep food or liquids down, sudden dizziness, shortness of breath, or showing signs of a secondary infection like pneumonia; ignoring those signs and not getting to a hospital if they appear is a stupid thing to do, but that won't stop some people, especially young people who are used to throwing off even bad illnesses. Hence, deaths.

In summary, you should get the vaccine because, even though you may not ever get enough seasonal symptoms to notice, you are probably still a transmitter and the critical point is to stop the spread of this one.
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Apr. 5th, 2009

People are weird about food

Lois remarked on a book she'd read, today, The Diet Myth by Paul Campos. She included a quote I thought was right on the money:

The weight loss industry exploits cultural anxieties about fat to sell its customers products that don't work, over and over again, by convincing those customers that it is *they* who are defective. The failure of these products is ascribed to the moral weakness of those who purchase them, thus allowing the cycle to go on indefinitely. But the situation is more complex than this. It takes a great deal of cultural distortion to cause normal market mechanisms to break down so completely (blaming your customers for the catastrophic failure of your products isn't usually considered a sound business practice.)

The obesity myth thrives in contemporary America because America is an eating-disordered culture. Moreover, the prime symptoms of this situation -- our increasing rates of "overweight", bulimia, and anorexia -- are also symptoms of, and have become metaphors for, a broader set of cultural anxieties...

And it's dreadfully true. The diet industry is more pernicious than the tobacco companies, not least because of all the other industries that have formed themselves around this bizarre notion that humans should be skinny. US culture has astonishingly unhealthy standards of "beauty", and I believe they tie directly into the equally unhealthy sedentary culture. After all, if it's obvious on the face of it that one is never going to look like the models/actors/athletes/etc. without truly heroic and life-busting measures, and probably not even then, why bother trying at all? The lack of a sensible or sane target and body-image promotes apathy, and the lack of results from the "diets" does the same. The results of random negative stimulus are well proven.