Monthly Archives: October 2009

Can you get swine flu by eating pork and other myths

Nasal vaccine

Source: China View

Christopher Beam, writing on Slate, points out that opposition to vaccines unites both ends of the political spectrum. “Swine flu may have an unexpected side effect: political unity. The far left and far right agree that they’re sure as heck not getting vaccinated against swine flu.”
The far right objects to the vaccine because it comes from the government. The sentiment is not limited to US citizens. I found this comment from an Israeli in response to an article in the UK’s Daily Mail:
“I find it very interesting that the vaccine does the opposite of what its supposed to do. Is any one open to the thought that this is intentional? That the people in power are using this is a means for population control? And the fact that governments are in the process of making this vaccine MANDATORY??”

Thermerosal

Opposition on the left comes from doctors, lawyers, and celebrities. Jim Carrey promotes the claim that vaccines cause autism. The usual culprit is mercury in the preservative thermerosal. Note that a definitive study (PDF) published last week finds that children with autism have the same levels of mercury in their blood as “typically developing” children. The study found that children who chew gum have higher levels of mercury.

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Questions worth asking about swine flu vaccinations

Child getting vaccinated

Source: TopNews

The questions raised by Dr. Mercola about swine flu vaccinations – such as, Are you willing to let the government experiment on your child? – are simply inflammatory and self-serving.
There are some legitimate questions, however. For example: Where is the vaccine manufactured?
The current supply of H1N1 flu vaccine comes from US and European manufacturers. For what it’s worth, these manufacturers are approved by the FDA. I add that caveat only because the FDA has limited capabilities, as we’ve seen with recent episodes of food poisoning.
Since an adequate supply of the vaccine is now a problem, it’s reasonable to ask if the roster of suppliers will expand. Two manufacturers in China are now licensed to produce the vaccine. It may not happen during the current flu season, but how long will it be before vaccines manufactured in Asia are shipped to the US?

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Why it’s safe to completely ignore Dr. Mercola

A chiropractor for whom I have considerable respect – she’s a scientist, formerly an aeronautical engineer – is handing out copies of an article by Dr. Mercola that recommends against the swine flu vaccine. Another chiropractor told me she knew of no one in her profession who would receive, or allow their children to receive, vaccinations of any sort. She promptly added that, being “only” a chiropractor, she couldn’t legally make such a recommendation anyway.
Is the safety of vaccines merely a difference of opinion? Everything I’ve read on the scientific evidence for vaccine side-effects – which is the primary grounds for opposition – favors vaccination.

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Giving "alternative" a bad name

acupuncture-man-womanI’m generally sympathetic to the benefits of alternative therapies. That’s not surprising given I’ve studied, practiced, and taught alternative therapies, in addition to having a PhD in the History of Science and Medicine. There are times, however, when I totally understand why some members of the medical profession are so vehement in their condemnation of alternative “medicine.”

Case in point: A recent post on KevinMD, in which Dr. Amy Tuteur writes: “‘Alternative’ health practitioners are nothing more than quacks and charlatans and their ‘remedies’ are nothing more than snake oil. The fact that anyone in this day and age still believes in such crackpot theories is a tribute to the power of ignorance and superstition.” Read more

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The public option has a pulse

Obamacare protest

Source: xplosive world

Commentators are expressing surprise at the resurrection of a public option as part the health care reform package. The main reasons cited for its resurgence are the insurance industry’s recent attack on health care legislation, claiming premiums would rise, and polls indicating that a clear majority of the public supports the public option.
Dan Balz has a nice summary of this summer’s health care struggle in The Washington Post. Eleanor Clift, a long time Washington veteran, puts the “tortured history” of reform in perspective at Newsweek, reminding us of Nixon, Kennedy, and Clinton.

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Music: Rosen Movement Playlist October 27

Fall colors

Source: AppuVista

Warm Up
o Iz – Somewhere over the rainbow – What a wonderful world
o Neville Brothers – Little piece of heaven
Stretch
o Ella Fitzgerald – I cried for you
o Ella Fitzgerald – I hadn’t anyone til you
o Ella Fitzgerald – I’m getting sentimental over you
o Ella Fitzgerald – Misty
Circle
o Madeleine Peyroux – Smile
o Emmylou Harris – Mr. Sandman
o Jarabe de Palo – El Lado Oscuro
Across the Floor
o Paris Combo – Fibre de verre
o Stevie Wonder – Signed sealed delivered
o Pink Martini – Let’s never stop falling in love
On the Floor
o Caccini – Ave Maria
o Rhineberger – Cantilena
o Debussy – Reverie
o Franck – Panis angelicus
o Elgar – Salut d’amour

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Music: Rosen Movement Playlist October 20

Allegheny National Forest

Source: AppuVista

Warm Up
o Rod Stewart – Smile
o Pink Martini – Hang on little tomato
o Carly Simon – You belong to me
Stretch (Partners)
o Hot Club of San Francisco – Till we meet
o Linda Ronstadt – Blue Train
o Norah Jones – Lonestar
o Tracy Chapman – Less than strangers
Circle
o Willie Nelson – Crazy
o Lennon Sisters – Sentimental Journey
o Toots and the Maytals – Still is still moving to me
Across the Floor
o Keb Mo – Soon as I get paid
o Jimmy Reed – Found Love
o Linda Ronstadt & Ann Savoy – The one I love is gone (waltz)
On the Floor
o Bach – Air on the G string
o Bach – Keyboard Concerto No 5 Largo in F minor
o Bach – Adagio concerto for violin and oboe
o Back – Adagio violin concerto 2 in E

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Were "death panels" a teachable moment for palliative care?

This past summer, thanks in large part to Sarah Palin, we were inundated with sound bites about death panels, pulling the plug on grandma, and saving the government money by dying a little sooner.
Palin’s emotionally manipulative Facebook post appeared on August 7. “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”
A great deal of misinformation was bandied about, and unnecessary fears were purposely inflamed to gain political advantage. There may be a silver lining to this cloud, however.

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Dementia, denial, and high school football

The National Football League (NFL) commissioned a survey on the incidence of dementia and other memory-related diseases among its retired players. The results that came back showed early-onset dementia occurring “vastly more often” compared to the national population. The NLF dismissed the study as unreliable.

The data comes from the 88 Plan, a financial assistance plan for retired players with dementia. Confidential data from the plan indicates that the rate of dementia among football retirees is several times higher than the general population. The rate may actually be much higher than the data indicate, however, since many retirees are reluctant to admit they have a problem. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admits that the 88 Plan data underestimates the problem.
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Is football the moral equivalent of dogfighting?

Malcom Gladwell (of Outliers, Blink, and The Tipping Point fame) has an article in the New Yorker called “Offensive Play.” The subtitle is “How different are dogfighting and football?”
In dogfighting, the dogs are injured and suffer permanent damage. It’s becoming clear that the same is true for professional football players.
The damage Gladwell talks about is not the typical and obvious athletic injuries — sprains, dislocations, broken bones, and an arthritic old age. He’s talking about what happens when the brain is subjected to repeated traumas – high speed collisions with massive bodies. Gladwell estimates that linemen are hit in the head 1000 times in a single season. Over the course of a career, that could add up to 8000 blows.

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Are women doctors safer?

women-doctorsNearly half of students in US medical schools are female. Studies show that, compared to their male counterparts, women doctors are friendlier, spend more time with their patients, and are less likely to be sued.

According to Jorge Girotti of the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School, women doctors are more empathetic, compassionate, and nurturing. “If you bring that attitude in, you’re more likely to see the overall patient as a whole rather than just a disease.” Read more

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Music: Rosen Movement Playlist October 13

Stream in forest

Source: New7ob

Warm Up
– Hot club of San Francisco – Lullaby of the leaves
– Sandrine Kiberlain – M’envoyer des fleurs
– Brett Dennen – The one who loves you the most
Stretch
– Eva Cassidy – Over the Rainbow
– Kitka – Tikho Nad Richkoyu
Circle
– Bing Crosby – Blue Skies
– Elastica – 2:1
– Martina McBride – Happy Girl
Across the Floor
– Carly Simon & James Taylor – Mockingbird
– Ann Savoy – Lulu Revenue dans la Village
– New 101 Strings Orchestra – Vito’s Waltz
On the Floor
– George Winston – Angel
– George Winston – No Ke Ano Ahiahi
– George Winston – Ike Ia Ladana
– George Winston – Joy, Hope and Peace
– George Winston – Waltz for the Lonely

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Music: Rosen Movement Playlist October 6

McCormick Creek State Park

Source: AppuVista

Warm Up
– Elton John – Blessed
– Jack Johnson – Symbol in my driveway
– Bonnie Raitt – I will not be broken
Stretch
– Cecilia – Prayer
– Massenet (Yo Yo Ma) – Meditation from Thais
Circle
– Jamie Cullum – Singin in the rain
– Bob Dylan – Things have changed
Across the Floor
– Temptations – My girl
– Shelby Lynne – I Walk the Line
– Kasey Chambers – Mother (waltz)
On the Floor
– Iz – Kaulana Kawaihae
– Kohala – Honolulu city lights
– Kohala – Sunflower
– Kohala – Moloka’i sweet home
– Kohala – Highway in the sun

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Are convertibles hazardous to your hearing?

A decibel (abbreviated dB) measures the intensity of a sound. The zero point of the decibel scale is called “near total silence.” As long as we’re living and breathing on the earth, we’re never going to experience absolute, total silence.
If you scan the increasing decibel levels of familiar sounds, the numbers may seem to rise gradually enough. But they pack more punch than their size suggests. That’s because the decibel scale grows logarithmically. A 20 dB sound (a whisper) isn’t 20 times louder than near total silence. It’s 100 times louder.

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Money-Driven Medicine, the documentary, available on the web

Maggie Mahar announced today (on her Health Beat blog) that the documentary of her book, Money-Driven Medicine , will be available for free on the web for two weeks.
As Mahar says in her post today, the director and field producer “did a brilliant job of finding doctors and patients who tell riveting stories, while simultaneously exposing many of the less-well-known facts about our broken health care system.”
Here’s the website where you can watch it. I tried, and it works fine. You can make the video full screen. Move backwards and forwards. Watch some now and watch more later. The entire film is 80 minutes long.

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Swine flu prevention: It’s OK to wash in cold water

Hand washing

Source: NAPS Company

Most people would prefer to wash their hands in comfortably warm water. And it’s usually available. The scientific question remains, however: Is warm or hot water more effective than cold if we want to prevent spreading the flu?
The FDA’s position has been that water hot enough to kill bacteria would be too hot for hand washing. Still, they maintained, warm water is more effective than cold because it removes oil from our hands. And there can be bacteria in that oil.

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The clothesline debate: Drying for Freedom

Clothes drying on outdoor lines

Source: Treehugger

In the “old days,” there were no electric clothes dryers. Laundry was hung outside to dry, weather permitting. Today almost everyone has access to an electric dryer. They’re said to consume at least 6 percent of household electricity, at a cost of $5 billion a year in the US.
As we become more environmentally aware, it seems like a good idea to hang clothes outside whenever we can. Get that genuine fresh air smell and feel from Nature rather than from chemicals added during the wash and dry cycle. The problem is, though, most communities have outlawed outdoor clothes lines. Seems it’s a “low class” thing to do and brings down property values. Kind of like rusting junked cars sitting next to the driveway.

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Have fun. Help the environment. Sell cars.

Volkswagen E-Up! eco-friendly

Source: Virgin Media

The Volkswagen E-UP! model is not only electric. It has over 10 square feet of solar panels. And it comes with an electric scooter that folds up and fits in the back. That way you can park at a recharging station, as long as it’s not too far from your destination. Clearly VW wants to position itself with consumers as eco-friendly.
VW’s ad agency has come up with a supporting concept: If you increase the fun quotient of something that’s good for the environment, people will change their behavior. They call this The Fun Theory.
In one Fun Theory video, technicians worked overnight to turn subway stairs into a functional (sound-producing) piano keyboard. Reports are that 66% more people took the stairs rather than the power-consuming escalator. Good for the environment and good for health.

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Music: Rosen Movement Playlist September 29

Forest with green ferns

Source: Junjaowka

Click photo for larger view.

Warm up

  • Neil Young – Harvest Moon
  • Queen Latifah – Hard Times

Stretch

  • Linda Ronstadt – Cry me a river
  • Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Summertime
  • Willie Nelson – Stardust

Circle

  • Franco De vita – Tu de que vas
  • Eva Cassidy – Wade in the water
  • The Beach Boys – Surfin USA

Across the floor

  • Santana – Smooth
  • Kate & Anna McGarrigle – Love Over and Over
  • Lennon Sisters – Fascination

On the floor

  • Steve Erquiaga – Pavane for a dead princess
  • Steve Erquiaga – Two Preludes (Chopin)
  • Steve Erquiaga – Arioso (Bach)
  • Steve Erquiaga – Themes from Cinema Paradiso
  • Steve Erquiaga – Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Steve Erquiaga – If Dreams Could Dance

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Keith Olbermann & the Fight against Death

The thing about Keith Olbermann is, I tend to agree with his positions far more than I care for his over-the-top, full-of-himself histrionic shtick. So I approached his “Special Commentary” on health care — one hour of nothing but the largest talking head on TV — with both interest and trepidation.
Olbermann called his Special Commentary “Health Care Reform: The Fight Against Death.” Over and over again he returned with a flourish to the word “death,” the subtext being “Look how heroic and iconoclastic I am to be talking about this unmentionable subject.” The inevitability of death was his scare tactic: “You are going to die. We are all going to die.” Yet at the same time, he accused his opponents of exploiting that same fear: The reason misguided folks are opposed to reform are the “death panel” scare tactics of the other side.

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Why is it so hard to reform health care? Rugged individualism

Rugged individualism Rush Limbaugh

Source: Banning and Low

Excellent op-ed piece on health care reform in the Sunday Times. It’s by Roger Cohen, who recently returned from a trip to Germany. Europeans readily acknowledge universal health coverage as a basic right in a civilized society. Americans have great difficulty with this concept.

The current health care debate in the US isn’t about health. It’s about money. Legislation is written to accommodate the financial interests of money-driven medicine, especially the insurance industry.

Is there something in our fabled “ruggedness” that perpetuates financial inequality? At some level of the American psyche lies the belief that those who fail financially deserve to suffer, while those who succeed shouldn’t have to share. Does this strain of thought color the health care debate?

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Doctors and the health crisis of global warming

polar-bear-on-ice-cap
Let’s look at the facts. Global warming inevitably leads to a global health crisis. Health and disease are the province of the medical profession. Shouldn’t doctors be speaking out on the health crisis of global warming?

Last month the two leading British medical journals – The Lancet and the British Medical Journal — published an open letter to doctors on climate change. In the US, the Journal of the American Medical Association also published a commentary on this subject. Both the US and UK arguments drew on the same evidence and made the same dire predictions.

The US commentary concluded with an appeal to the public health profession: “This is a critical time for public health advocates to demand that political leaders safeguard the health of the world’s population, with particular attention to the survival needs of the most disadvantaged.”

The British publications appealed directly to doctors: “Doctors are still seen as respected and independent, largely trusted by their patients and the societies in which they practise. … We call on doctors to demand that their politicians listen to the clear facts that have been identified in relation to climate change and act now to implement strategies.”
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Music: Rosen Movement Playlist September 22

Fall trees reflected in water

Source: God Hear Me

I suppose I always love all the music I use in class, but this playlist has some of my most favorite favorites – Hot Club of San Francisco, Roy Orbison, Linda Ronstadt. Enanitos Verdes is one of my favorite groups. I use several of their songs in classes.
For the Linda Ronstadt songs that are listed in On the Floor, I remove the introductions with a software program. That’s partly because I also use these songs for Stretch, and the introduction doesn’t work well for Stretch. The complete songs would work fine for On the Floor, though.

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Climate crisis. Health crisis. Same difference.

global-warming-health-crisis-smoke-stacksClimate change is a more serious problem than we thought it was just a few years ago. A big rise in global temperature may not happen for another 40 years, but other changes are “imminent,” according to Science magazine. A permanent drought, with Dust Bowl-like conditions, could become the “new climatology” of the American Southwest in a matter of years.

Next December, 190 countries will meet in Copenhagen to discuss a solution. It’s very difficult for politicians, who represent the financial interests of the status quo, to tackle the problems of climate change. As Paul Krugman said recently, a response to global warming would “shuffle the economic deck, hurting some powerful vested interests even as it created new economic opportunities. And the industries of the past have armies of lobbyists in place right now; the industries of the future don’t.” Read more

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