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Monthly Archives: January 2017

 

Heart Your Gut

January 31st, 2017

Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut.”  He might have been even wiser than we ever knew.  With Valentine’s Day coming soon,  it makes sense to talk about the importance of keeping your heart healthy.  Did you know that heart health can be predicted by looking at the bacteria in your gut? A molecule, called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), is produced by gut bacteria when you eat red meat, eggs, and dairy.  Based on the level of TMAO in your gut, scientists can determine how healthy your heart is, according to a study in  the European Heart Journal.  The higher... Read More

Big Macs Are For Closers

January 29th, 2017

Not long ago, I read the incredible book “Strangers in their Own Land,” by the sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild. She visited Louisiana and interviewed scads of people to ask them about their voting habits. Specifically, she wanted to find out why these decent and smart people continually voted against their own interests. If you lived in a place like Louisiana, with gorgeous wetlands and lakes you could fish in and enjoy, why would you vote for people that would lift environmental regulations and pollute them at will? For many of them, they viewed it as a binary choice. You could... Read More

Hidden Sugar in Your Food

January 25th, 2017

Sugar is everywhere, almost impossible to avoid.  It’s in foods like bread, pasta sauce, salad dressing, and ketchup. It can be challenging to find sugar in your food because nutrition labels are not required to list all sugar.  In 2018, nutrition labels will be required to call out all added sugar but, in the meantime, you’ll have to do some sugar sleuthing to manage your sugar intake. The Institute of Medicine has made recommendations for sugar intake.  Since sugar isn’t a required nutrient in the diet, the institute has not issued a recommended dietary allowance, but does suggest... Read More

The M. Night Shyamalan Comeback Tour

January 22nd, 2017

When I was in high school and college, I fancied myself a bit of an actor. During that time, I learned two things. The truly great actors have impeccable timing, a precise understanding of their character and how it fits into the larger piece, and are compelling to watch. I was blessed with none of that. Shakespeare is Mount Everest for actors. If you can scale those heights and make the Bard’s prose sound natural, energetic, and real, you can say you’ve done it justice. As Old Seward in Macbeth, I didn’t do his words justice. As crimes against the arts go, it was more of... Read More

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act Affects Us All

January 18th, 2017

If you haven’t heard about the current Congress’ plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, you may have been hiding under a rock.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a federal agency of the US government that provides budget and economic information to Congress, recently released a report outlining the anticipated consequences of repealing the law. If you think that repeal will not affect you, think again. Those who have purchased individual insurance coverage on the exchange could see an increase in their premiums of 20% or more.  Because the current strategy is... Read More

The Sound of Silence

January 15th, 2017

Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Elie Wiesel wrote that, in his astonishing memoir Night. He survived the Holocaust, and he later wrote about how his faith was consumed by flames. Who can blame him? He, and millions like him, cried out to God in the ghettos, the box cars, the gas chambers. They called out for mercy, justice, retribution. Was God listening? Perhaps. It’s a common theme. Atrocities and disasters take place, and we often wonder. We wonder if God was in Windows on the World on September... Read More

Watch Your Language!

January 9th, 2017

The way we read, write, and talk helps to determine the way we see the world. Recently, economist Keith Chen published a paper that asked the question, are languages with less decisive future tenses more thoughtful about the future because they consider it grammatically equivalent to the present. For example, in English, we say “I will go to the play tomorrow,” which is a strong future tense. In Mandarin or Finnish, which have weaker future tenses, it might be more appropriate to say, “I go to the play tomorrow.”   Chen discovered that speakers of German, Finnish... Read More

Actually, This Is Rocket Science

January 8th, 2017

In today’s America, the easiest thing in the world is to be a straight, white male. I don’t mean that us white guys get our pick of great jobs and get handed sacks of money. Instead, we have a base level of presumed competency. If we say to society that we want to become an author, or an astronomer, or a professional soccer player, the response is something like, “As long as you work hard, you can make that happen.” But try being a black woman in America. Try dealing with the one-two punch of racism and sexism. For example, on an early Delta airlines flight from Detroit... Read More

Ditch the 2017 Resolution

January 4th, 2017

People don’t  make resolutions and then spring into lasting action. Behavior change researcher James Prochaska and others (link is external) have written about how people actually change — in stages. The actual behavior change, like starting to exercise, or going on a diet, is not the first stage of change, but rather comes after contemplating a change and then preparing to make the change. Research says that almost all of us who make resolutions will fail. One reason we fail is our resolutions are too vague. Typically we say things like I’m going to “lose weight”... Read More

Star Vehicle

January 1st, 2017

Dear reader, I have to be honest with you. I have a problem. As much as I want you to read this review of the new film Passengers, you really don’t need to read it. All you need to do is direct your eyeballs up a few inches to the picture of the pretty people, and everything you need to know is right there. Let me explain. In the background is Chris Pratt. He’s in sharp relief, handsome. He’s wearing a spacesuit, so that suggests he possesses a degree of competence most of us beta males are lacking. But his mind is in other places, evidenced by the fact that he’s staring... Read More