Monday, December 29, 2008

Aristide & Henri & Dina

Sweet little interview on NPR by Susan Stamberg, with a feisty 89-year-old French woman who modeled in her youth for Maillol and Matisse. In a letter she carried to the elderly Matisse from Maillol as an introduction, Maillol said, “I am sending you the object of my work and you will reduce her to a simple line.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I read the news today, oy vey!

The Tribune Company, owner of—among others—The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant has filed Chapter 11. No big mystery as free news sources abound and newspaper readership grows ever more slender.

I remember what a nice thing it used to be to hole up in a comfortable chair every Sunday with the fresh, heavy, inky, Sunday New York Times and a pot of coffee.

No newspapers. One of those “grandpa, what was it like...” moments you thought would never come. Maybe they’ll grow lean and bounce back for a time. Who knows? Industries are ever evolving or disappearing. Looks like maybe the horse and buggy could come cart off the newspaper.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

If nuts are criminalized, only criminals will have nuts! Whose nuts? Who’s nuts?!

Sunday, December 14, 2008
Nut Bans in Schools May Be Spurring Hysteria
Expert says lack of exposure could also perpetuate more allergies among kids

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay News)—Peanut and other food allergies are on the rise, with more and more children being diagnosed with potentially life-threatening allergies, and schools are responding by providing nut-free areas.

But, at least one expert wonders if schools are going too far, even creating hysteria over potential nut exposures. What’s worse, schools may be perpetuating the problem by limiting exposure to nuts in non-allergic children.

“There’s a disproportionate response that may be making things worse. First, by feeding the concern—if a whole school is declared nut-free, how can you say to children that nuts aren’t dangerous? And, second by contributing to sensitization,” said Dr. Nicholas Christakis, the author of an editorial in the Dec. 12 issue of the British Medical Journal.

Christakis, an attending physician at Mt. Auburn Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School, Boston, pointed to a recent Israeli study. It found that children exposed to peanuts at a young age appeared to have fewer peanut allergies than those who had a later exposure.

Christakis stressed that he's not saying schools shouldn't make allowances for children with severe allergies. “No one is arguing against reasonable accommodations,” he said.

But, some schools take those accommodations too far, Christakis believes. For example, he cited the school district where his children attend school. Recently, that district evacuated a bus full of 10-year-olds because a peanut was found on the floor of the bus.

Such a reaction, he said, makes it appear as if the threat from a peanut is much greater than it actually is. Among the 3.3 million Americans who are allergic to nuts, the overall likelihood of a serious reaction is low. Serious allergic reactions to food cause about 2,000 hospitalizations a year, and 150 deaths.

In comparison, noted Christakis, 50 people die from bee stings, 100 from lightning strikes and a whopping 45,000 from motor vehicle accidents. Another 10,000 people suffer traumatic brain injuries due to sports participation and 2,000 people drown every year, said Christakis. Yet, he said, no one has called for an end to athletics.

Other experts weighed in on the issue.

“This editorial really shows how emotional the issue really is, and it always goes back to education and getting people to understand perspective,” said Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. “Until there's a cure, we need to do everything we can to keep these kids safe.”

Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and immunology at St. John Hospital in Detroit, said she'd like to see schools focus more on emergency planning for kids with severe allergies, because it's impossible to make anyone's environment completely nut-free. “Having a nut-free table, or even a nut-free school, gives you a false sense of security. It's like living in a very safe neighborhood—robberies happen even in the safest neighborhoods,” Appleyard said.

“Schools need to have policies in place for treatment. Teachers, aides, etc. should be trained in using an Epi-Pen [against anaphylactic reactions], and school officials need to make sure everyone knows what to do in an emergency,” she said, adding, “that any emergency plan in place should be practiced, like fire drills are.”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

In the wise words of Pogo...

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Funny looking at these wartime posters, and realising how many good ideas, like saving gas and saving resources were focused to a sharp point by the idea of a common enemy.

They just don’t make enemies like they used to... Or maybe we’re not afraid of the real ones anymore.