Monthly Archives: November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jack Palance, stuck on the Mongol Plains for Thanksgiving, is unable to find a turkey, and takes a bite of Anita Ekberg instead.

If you missed Marilyn Monroe dressed as a Puritan, click here.


From Manson’s Tropical Diseases, 13th edition

Save the Colonial Subjects! (But leave the Women and Fat Guys at Home.)

For years, Manson’s was the textbook on tropical disease. The 13th edition had some notions that we would now call, at best, quaint. It was, after all, 1951.

Chapter 1

Preparations for Residence in the Tropics

General Observations

In examining personnel with reference to their fitness for residence in the tropics, the age of the candidate is obviously important. He or she should have attained maximum development before going out. Those under 21—and this is especially true of women—withstand extreme heat and humidity badly, and appear, moreover to be more susceptible to tropical diseases. Women should be fully matured in mind as well as body and, as a rule, their age to be somewhat higher than that for men, which is from 23 to 25. It is a matter of observation that men over 40 find it difficult to accustom themselves to a intense heat, though exceptions will readily occur to the mind, such as Robert Koch, a pioneer in medical find, and Abel Chapman in zoology. Both had already passed 40 ere they set foot in central Africa, and both found themselves equal to its exacting demands.

While there can be no absolute standard of height and weight, the deviation from the generally accepted averages should not be great. As a rule, spareness  is more desirable than plumpness. Certainly the tropics is no place for the fat man. The “lanky,” spare type is best suited to tropical conditions, and the dark-hair, brown-eyed and dark- complexioned is generally considered more fitted than the blue-eyed, fair-haired, tender skin “Nordic” or “Aryan” type.

Zappa, Winter and Vitamin D, Part 2

(Click here for part 1)

The British Medical Journal does not give free online access, therefore I have reprinted a letter regarding the foolishness of putting our clocks back an hour in the fall, thus giving less daylight when we most need it. (The use of bold is from this blog, not the author of the letter.)  I have always dreaded the approach of the “fall back” weekend. The extra hour of sleep seems little recompense for the late afternoon gloom that descends upon us that weekend.

One of my few good childhood memories of the Nixon Administration was when RMN decided to go back to Daylight Savings Time– it was the middle of winter, and the change was enacted as a energy-saving response to an energy crisis. Yes, we left for the school bus in the dark, but oh, what wonderful compensation in that hour of afternoon light!

It's light out! Let's party!

More daylight, better health: why we shouldn’t be putting the clocks back this weekend

  1. Mayer Hillman, senior fellow emeritus, Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminster, London

Lack of exercise is a major public health problem in the United Kingdom, contributing to the incidence of chronic illness. Adults are recommended to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity daily and children at least an hour. However, surveys have shown a trend towards declining fitness, on the basis of which it has been predicted that more than half the population will be clinically obese by 2050.

Health experts have proposed urgent action to remedy this situation, and the government now aims to get far more of the inactive population walking or gardening regularly or, preferably, taking up more vigorous physical activity, such as sports, aerobics, or cycling (especially as a means of travel). Although most people are aware of the benefits—a lessened risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers—routine physical activity features in few people’s everyday lives. Only a small proportion of adults are motivated to undertake it throughout the year, and the school curriculum allocates insufficient time for it. In addition to removing the social, economic, and psychological barriers to activity, the measure seen to be most effective is providing more public facilities and open spaces—and networks of safe walking and cycling routes to reach them—that are sufficiently local that the journeys to get to them are not so long that the actual activity is curtailed.

Research has shown that people are happier, more energetic, and less likely to be sick in the longer and brighter days of summer, whereas their mood tends to decline—and anxious and depressive states to intensify—during the shorter and duller days of winter. People have a greater sense of wellbeing in daylight and overwhelmingly prefer it to artificial light. The common reaction to the prospect of less daylight and sunlight when the clocks are put back at the end of October, signalling as it does the end of outdoor activity and the onset of a largely indoor leisure life, is a negative one.

Happy Thanksgiving

Here is another tasty dish for you, vegetarians and vegans be damned.

Here, Tommy, speak into the microphone.

(If I’m not mistaken, this is Sarah Palin-style hunting. )

Zappa, Winter, and Vitamin D


First of all, What is it that Makes Winter Winter?

Despite my distance from 5th grade, this is still really funny.
Jupiter is still close to Uranus, but the two are drifting farther apart for the next couple months before they will move back into close quarters in January 2011.

The point is that winter has nothing to do with the stars. Do any of us actually go outside and say ” Oh, I see Scorpio! It must be November.” Yes, a few of us still actually give credence to our horoscopes, but I doubt whether the same people are actually gazing at the stars, or even if they are, they couldn’t identify Scorpio if it stung them in the ass.

But I digress.

The point is that there is no “official” start to winter. This can be rather hard to swallow when one has been looking at American calendars all of one’s life. The truth is that, while perhaps interesting from a scientific point of view, the stellar schedule for the seasons isn’t all that useful.

Useful definitions of winter, Especially public health-wise

Winter is when it’s cold.
Winter is when it’s dark too much.
Winter is when we get more colds, influenza, and other maladies.
These definitions are useful because they don’t require us to drive out of the city and use sky maps to determine the seasons: they are about the way we live.
(This post is being updated continually. Check early and often.)