April 2010

Small Talk Considered Harmful

Dr. Gupta, CNN's health guy and Anderson Cooper's temporary replacement (?) has an interesting article about the relationship between happiness, depression, small talk, and "substantive conversations."  A group of researchers placed recording devices on a group of subjects, and recorded snippets of their conversations for four days.  They then classified the conversations as either "small talk" or "substantive."

(The first thing that jumps out at me is, how do you define the difference between small talk and substantive conversation on a day to day basis?  It seems like there is a lot of potential for bias to creep in here.  But let's pay that no never mind and assume everything is on the up and up.)

The Smoking Vaccine



I have a terrible confession to make- I’m an ex-smoker. You would think that people would be proud of me for actually quitting, but in this nearly smoke-free city, people seem repulsed that I ever smoked in the first place.

For years I tried to quit using varying methods that didn’t quite work. The nicotine patch and nicorette were probably the least effective methods, while Wellbutrin worked like an absolute charm. When I did finally quit smoking, it was without any nicotine aids or strange products like Snus- I just stopped smoking one day.

Soon, smokers who want to be ex-smokers may have one more option to try in their quests for healthier lungs- a nicotine vaccine. At first glance, a nicotine vaccine definitely sounds sketchy. According to CNN:

Seeing Time: Time-Space Synaethesia

One of my Facebook friends reported today that he would like time to go faster- something that most of us hope for from time to time. His friend then jokingly suggested that he change the shutter speed settings on his camera. His time question got me thinking about the puzzle of time and how each person perceives time differently. My personal idea, which is by no means unique to me, has always been that the older you get, the relatively faster time seems. A year in the life of a first grader is a lot longer than the year in the life of a 90-year-old for example.

Brad Stevens' Strange Career Path: From Big Pharma to the Final Four

Like most average Americans, I am not a particularly big fan of Big Pharma because of their overzealous marketing tactics, the fact that many drug companies employ doctors and researchers to lie about their medications, and the fact that their Sales Reps earn much more in a year than their experience, skills, and qualifications should warrant. It never once crossed my mind that there may be a link between the Final Four tournament and Big Pharma, but there is a loose connection.

Is the 10% Tanning Tax a Good Thing?



Fake and bakers are S.O.L. when the new health care proposal kicks in- page 902 of the bill calls for a 10% tax on tanning sessions. Originally, the bill contained provisions for a 5% tax on plastic surgery, but due to opposition from the cosmetic surgery lobby, that part of the bill was scuttled and the tax on the tanning was added in.

According to ABC, roughly 28 million Americans use tanning beds each year, which is close to 10% of the population of the United States. A spokesman for one of the industry’s largest manufacturers of tanning beds stated, “If you’re going to tax us, you should tax the travel industry and the cruise industry which also profit from sun worshippers.”