Quickies: Misunderstanding What Healthy Means, Nickel Rides and Freddie Gray, and Carl Sagan and the NAS

  • The Myth of Working Your Way Through College – “Once upon a time, a summer spent scooping ice cream could pay for a year of college. Today, the average student’s annual tuition is equivalent to 991 hours behind the counter.”
  • Freddie Gray’s Death Reveals A Dark History Of “Nickel Rides” And Police Van Torture – “Many suspect that Gray was the victim of a ‘Nickel Ride’, a horrific police torture tactic where a suspect is handcuffed and placed in the back of a police van without restraints, and driven recklessly around town by police officers. This practice has also been called a ‘Rough Ride’ or a ‘Cowboy Ride.’ “
  • Cyberattack Takes Down Controversial Mauna Kea Telescope Website – “A post added yesterday on Operation Green Rights’ website read: ‘Nothing will ever justify the destruction of ecosystems; filthy money can never replace them. Stand with the Hawaiian natives against #TMT.’ The statement accompanied a screenshot of a downed Hawaii state government site–also an apparent target of the cyberattack.” From Amy.
  • People Don’t Know What’s Healthy – “With its switch to Splenda, Pepsi becomes the latest company to fold to public anxieties over specific ingredients. But when it comes to understanding what’s best nutritionally, the customer isn’t always right.”
  • Why Was Carl Sagan Blackballed from the National Academy of Sciences? – “It’s not entirely clear why Sagan was blackballed, but one person at the meeting claims it was because the astronomer had done so much television work. His Ivory Tower colleagues looked down on Cosmos as ‘fluff.’ We’ll never know for sure why he was denied entrance, though Sagan himself said he wasn’t at all surprised.”
  • Virtual Readings For Baltimore’s Freddie Gray – “Lots of people are looking for words to make sense of Freddie Gray’s death and the subsequent unrest in Baltimore, and have turned to writers — from novelist and social critic James Baldwin to hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar — for an assist. They’re sharing these writers’ words on social media, as screenshots in tweets, Instragrammed pictures of open books, and Photoshopped collages uploaded to Facebook.”
  • A Woman Alone Is Not Necessarily a Lonely Woman – “This particular research isn’t about gender, but anecdotal evidence suggests that women feel this fear of going out by themselves more keenly than men do. Part of this is practical; being a woman alone in public often means men will bother you. But part of it is psychological, a fear that women are more likely to be judged as lonely if they’re seen out by themselves.”
  • Apple Watch won’t work properly on some tattooed wrists – “If you need another reason to rethink getting that sleeve tattoo, Apple just gave you one: the Apple Watch doesn’t work so well when worn on a tattooed wrist. A few days after the smartwatch’s launch, users on Reddit, Twitter, and other social media channels are reporting that the Watch loses connection and reports inaccurate heart rate results when placed over tattoos.”
  • The Many Men of Brienne of Tarth – I would post an excerpt from this article, but it contains spoilers if you haven’t seen the most recent episode of Game of Thrones! From Donna.

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. If you need another reason to rethink getting that sleeve tattoo, Apple just gave you one…

    Hmm, interesting. I’d say it’s another reason not to buy an overpriced toy that the gadget store didn’t even bother to make work correctly.

    Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to

    1. I agree with you, I just thought it was interesting how a tattoo could mess up such an expensive doodad! :)

    2. I assume the iWatch is entirely for people who remember Captain Video, Dick Tracy, and all the other shows where walkie-talkies were always watches.

      It could be stopped by binding the hero’s hands.

    3. I assumed the heart rate monitor wouldn’t work well on anyone. Seems like expensive GPS watches with heart rate monitors wouldn’t come with a chest strap heart rate monitor if there was a reliable way to do it accurately on the wrist.

      I’d be really interested to how a tattoo can affect the wireless signal though.

      1. There are perfectly good optical HRMs. They’re newer tech so established companies are taking their time transitioning, the power consumption’s a lot higher, and they can’t get some of the heart rate variability information. On the flipside, my Scosche optical is far more reliable for me than the Garmin strap. Scosche added a yellow LED specifically to provide better results on people with darker skin; I’m not sure if that would help with ink, though.

  2. I’ve got two kids with PKU, who really and truly according to their doctors and their blood tests can’t have aspartame, and a cousin with Celiac disease, who really and truly according to her doctors and her blood tests can’t have gluten. (Also, since gluten is a protein and people with PKU have to limit their protein consumption, the “gluten free” versions of many grain-based foods tend to be lower-protein and better for my kids as well.)

    I have such mixed feelings about normal people deciding to avoid aspartame or gluten.

    On the one hand — please don’t! You can “cheat” consequence-free, but my family can’t. To the extent that you make people think that these intolerances are just preferences and that “cheating” is no big deal, you endanger the health of people who really really can’t have these things and no just a little bit isn’t okay. “Basically no gluten” is not the same as “no gluten” to someone with Celiac disease, but a lot of people think it is these days. Also, if you are running around telling people you have an “allergy” to MSG or something and then “cheating”, you are endangering the life of people who really do have allergies by making others think that a “food allergy” is a lifestyle choice instead of a life-threatening auto-immune condition.

    On the other hand — it’s thanks to these fads that I can now have light yogurt and diet soda in the house again. Awesome! If it weren’t for people who fear aspartame and gluten groundlessly, people who really have reason to fear them would have far fewer food options available to them, since the PKU and celiac communities are pretty damn small and don’t constitute much of a market by themselves. So yay for irrational avoidance fads, I guess?

    I’ve never heard of any medical condition which actually requires anyone to avoid MSG or GMO foods, though, so boo to those fads.

      1. Or just kidney problems, since both sodium and an amino acid (glutamate). But yeah, ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’ is basically placebo. (And nobody considers naturally occurring MSG.)

    1. The sad thing for people to whom it matters is that like all fads (even homeopathy and vaccine denialism, eventually, I hope, thought it may take centuries), the gluten-free and aspartame-is-toxic fads will eventually fade away and food producers will drop many of their gluten-free and phenylalanine-free products. So stock up!

    2. Here’s one to make anyone with special metabolic needs or food allergies angry: Domino’s gluten-free crust. It uses the same pizza stone and oven as their regular pizza. They even have a (very fine print) disclaimer that it’s not for people with celiac disease.

      Someone at Domino’s has balls the size of planets.

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