Category Archives: Science & Society

Perhaps they should have elected Lord Buckethead…

In the wake of the recent decision by Great Britain to leave the European Union, one has to wonder whether voters were fully informed as to the cost and complexity of making a “Brexit.”

I will say that I think American politics would be vastly improved if we adopted the UK policy of having all of the candidates – even the joke ones – appear on one stage during the announcement of the vote tally. All hail Lord Buckethead!

 

 

A Little-Known Illness Associated with Marijuana is on the Rise

A once-rare complication of marijuana use is becoming increasingly common, CBS News’ Jonathan Lapook reports. The condition, called CHS or cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, causes abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, and is – for reasons that remain unclear – relieved by hot showers or baths. CHS is associated with heavy, long-term use of marijuana and can lead to dehydration and kidney failure. The syndrome typically resolves within several days of stopping drug use.

CHS has only been recognized for about the past decade. A recent study showed that since 2009, when medical marijuana became widely available, emergency room visits for CHS in two Colorado hospitals have nearly doubled. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012. Other states in which marijuana is legal – Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and most recently, Maine, Massachusetts, California, and Nevada – should probably expect to see a similar rise in emergency room visits for CHS. The condition is so rarely seen outside of Colorado that it often goes undiagnosed, both because doctors don’t know it exists, and also because patients often don’t want to confess to using an illegal substance.

So, please, people, be warned, and warn your pot-smoking friends. Like anything else, marijuana, too, can cause complications when used in excess. And for those of you who are smoking it and would like to continue to do so, remember that an increase in medical illnesses like CHS will do little to further the movement for legalization.

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Public School Segregation: Not a Thing of the Past

It’s been sixty-three years since the Supreme Court, in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The drive to end segregated education and to put African-American and white children in the same classrooms was arguably the most radical and potentially far-reaching aspect of the civil rights movement. Yet modern public schools in the U.S. are increasingly divided by race and class. Last Week Tonight‘s John Oliver reports on the troubling trend towards school resegregation.

How New Year’s Resolutions Weaken Our Resolve

It’s the first of January again, and all over the world, people are making personal resolutions for 2017. Amazing what a date can do, isn’t it? Millions of humans scattered around the globe, all simultaneously attempting to better their lives by altering their own behavior in positive ways. For many, a new year offers an incentive, a reason to push towards self-improvement or greater satisfaction with one’s life and one’s being. And what better day to feel as if you’re starting over than New Year’s Day? It’s a day of reflection on the year gone by and on the year yet to come. It’s a day in which to consider whether we’re moving towards the goals we’ve set for ourselves, or whether we need to change the paths we’re on in order to come closer to achieving them. And the making of resolutions is perhaps the vital final step of this process, because there’s little point in evaluating the state of our lives if we don’t then utilize our conclusions to bring us one step closer to happiness.

The trouble with the New Year’s resolution is that, by its very nature, it doesn’t take effect until after the end of the current year. And in a backhanded way, this encourages us to wait to act upon our resolve. We don’t exercise in December because we’ve decided to get in shape after the holidays. We don’t quit smoking in October because, without the motivation of the New Year’s resolution, we’re afraid we’ll fail. We don’t start tucking money away in August for that dream vacation we’ve always wanted to take, because there’s school clothes shopping to do, and then the holidays are coming up, and once again, we’ve postponed that project to another year. And then what happens when we, as we inevitably must, fail to keep some of those resolutions we made in so much earnest? We wait again. We try again – the following year. How much of our lives are wasted waiting for this imaginary turning point to roll around so that we can make those changes we believe are so vital to our well-being and sense of fulfillment?

This is the core of the problem with marking time in our lives by special occasions – it causes us to neglect all of the everyday occasions that would have served us equally as well in helping us to attain our goals. Maybe your sweetheart expects you to present her with flowers on Valentine’s Day, but she’ll be much more impressed by the bouquet you bring in November. Chocolate cake is sweeter when it’s not baked on your birthday. Why wait until New Year’s Eve to have a beer and hang out with your friends? Won’t your mom be more pleased if you call her in March just to chat, then if you wait until May to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day?

I don’t ever want to wait until January 1st to change my life. I might want to quit my job on July the 15th, or start writing a book on September the 24th. It doesn’t need to be the first of the year or the first of the month before I decide to move forward with my resolutions; any given Monday will do. I’ll derive just as much joy from turning my life around at 3 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon in June, as at midnight on a Sunday in January.

So that is my New Year’s resolution. Never again to wait for a new year to arrive before I make my resolve. Never again to pretend that January will be soon enough for me or my life to change. It isn’t.

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Waiting: A Story of Apocalypse FREE for Kindle from 12/26 through 12/30

Waiting: A Story of Apocalypse by Craig Reinhardt will be FREE for Kindle from Monday, 12/26 through Friday, 12/30.

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This long short story was originally inspired by the History Channel program Life After People. The premise of the show is not to examine the potential causes of the end of humanity, but rather “what happens to the world we leave behind.”

It’s a fascinating program. It details the fates of our roads, our cities, our buildings, even our family pets and other creatures who depend upon us for a living. It quite often comes to the rather disturbing conclusion that in a pretty short space of planetary time – mere hundreds of years, not thousands – we will be completely forgotten by an Earth that may fare better without us. While in this story I ultimately chose not to focus on the mechanics of the destruction of the trappings of humanity, but rather on what it does to the main character, I think the former offers a world of interesting possibilities for post-apocalyptic literature and I look forward to returning to this subject in the near future.

“Waiting” tells the story of a middle-aged misanthrope who witnesses this degeneration, who lives long enough to see how quickly humanity can fail, how insufficient its infrastructure is in the case of a massive disaster. But what place is there for a person in a world without people?

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