Category: Good Times and Bad

On Reading Ed Herman’s Obituary

By Fred Gardner Economist Ed Herman, who opposed imperialism in all its aspects, died earlier this month at the age of 92. A professor at the Wharton School of Business, Herman published extensively and was never blacklisted; but as a public intellectual he was marginalized. This is from the obit by Sam Roberts in the November 21 New York Times: Dr. Herman was primarily responsible for the manifesto “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” (1988), which he wrote with Professor Chomsky. It concluded that “market forces, internalized assumptions and self-censorship” motivate newspapers and television networks to...

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Acetaminophen

From a case report by Lisa Sanders, MD, in the November 19 New York Times Magazine: “Acetaminophen is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Half of all patients with liver failure, and one-fifth of all patients who need a liver transplant, sustained their injury using this common over-the-counter medication. “When acetaminophen passes through the liver, some of the drug is broken down into toxic chemicals. A healthy liver can dispose of these dangerous components. But the liver needs nutrients to do this, and because she was so sick, this woman wasn’t taking in...

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High Blood Pressure Redefined

I won’t use this joke in my stand-up history routine at the Emerald Cup. It may be off topic, but it’s original: Did you hear that under new Guidelines from heart specialists, “Millions More Americans Will Need to Lower Blood Pressure?”  (Nodding to audience)  That’s what the headline said.  For many years my doctor insisted that I go on blood pressure meds. I would promise to get more exercise. I meant it —but exercise is hard to get. After six or seven years, I finally relented and he was pleased.  He said he would put me on WHAT BRAND,...

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Opiate Deaths Jumped 17% in 2016

The photo accompanying a New York Times piece by Sheila Kaplan showed a harm reduction worker testing for traces of fentanyl in a heroin sample. Kaplan’s gist: “Preliminary data from the 50 states show that from the fourth quarter of 2015, through the fourth quarter of 2016, the rate of fatal overdoses rose to nearly 20 people per 100,000 from 16.3 per 100,000. The C.D.C. had previously estimated that about 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, with the highest rates reported in New Hampshire, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Rhode Island. “Drug overdoses have become the leading...

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Plastic or Iron Pipes for Infrastructure Rebuild?

The Times ran an informative piece by Hioroko Tabuchi Nov. 11 describing the “$300 billion war” being waged by the plastics and iron industries over which material should be used in replacing the aging water and sewer systems throughout the US. Plastics are described as “lightweight, easy to install, corrosion-free and up to 50% cheaper than iron.” But: Scientists are just starting to understand the effect of plastic on the quality and safety of drinking water, including what sort of chemicals can leach into the water from the pipes themselves, or from surrounding groundwater contamination. Studies have shown that toxic...

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