NYT HEALTH REPORTER EXTRAORDINAIRE, ROBERT PEAR, DIES AT 69
For as long as I can remember I have relied on The New York Times health reporter Robert Pear to give me the best, most accurate and thorough general reporting on health issues. As his paper noted in their obituary of Pear this week, his byline appeared on more than 6,700 Times articles.
”Elisabeth Bumiller, the current Washington bureau chief, recalled that 'the phrase “We have HEALTH by Pear' was uttered hundreds of times in front-page meetings, to the relief of a generation of executive editors,” referring to the shorthand tag with which his proposed articles were named or, in newspaper parlance, slugged.
“'In his memory we are retiring the slug HEALTH,' she said, 'because it can only be by Pear.'”
There must be thousands of people like me who have relied on Robert Pear for health news and, also like me, probably have no idea where to turn now for information as smart and informed as his.
SEAGULLS TAKE OVER LONDON TRAFFIC CAM
For a couple of days last week, some seagulls spent a good deal of their time hanging on a traffic cam in London. A lot of people took photographs and the birds even seemed to pose for the camera. Here's one of the many videos:
DRUG MAKERS MUST NOW INCLUDE PRICE IN TV DRUG COMMERCIALS
If you watch cable television, you have undoubtedly seen the ubiquitous commercials for two arthritis drugs, Humira and Xeljanz. But as frequently as you've seen those adverts, they never told you the price.
Now, probably beginning in about July, advertisers will be required to include the drug's price if it is more than $35, and on these two drugs, you are in for big-time sticker shock. As The New York Times reports:
”Two dosing pens of AbbVie’s Humira, which treats rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions, have an average retail price of $5,684, according to the website GoodRx which tracks drug prices. Another frequently advertised drug, Xeljanz, a Pfizer arthritis medication, costs about $4,840 a month.”
Of course, the pharmaceutical companies can sue over the new regulation (doesn't everyone these days?) and it might never happen. But it should. And it should apply also to print and online advertising.
You can read more at STAT.
You can tell by the gigantic monitor that this is an old, old video. But it made me laugh out loud and maybe you will too.
WHEN KIDS WERE MAILED VIA THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE
Yes, you read that right – mailing children – and it was legal in the early years of the 20th century. This is an audio report from the Washington Post:
Here's the Washington Post print report.
DENVER VOTES TO DECRIMINALIZE MAGIC MUSHROOMS
The election is not certified yet, but it appears that the city of Denver has voted to decriminalize use of “magic mushrooms,” also known as psilocybin.
”Initiative 301 set to pass narrowly with 50.6 percent of the vote. The total stands at 89,320 votes in favor and 87,341 against, a margin of 1,979,” reports the Denver Post.
“The Denver Elections Division will continue accepting military and overseas ballots, but typically those numbers are small. Results will be certified May 16.”
The Post explains further:
”Last fall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted psilocybin 'breakthrough therapy' designation for its potential to help with treatment-resistant depression, a status that speeds up the development and review process for a medicine containing the substance.
“As written, I-301 directs police via ordinance to treat enforcement of laws against possession of psilocybin mushrooms as their lowest priority. It also bars the use of city resources or money to impose criminal penalties.”
Groups in Oregon and California are working to include a similar vote on psilocybin on the 2020 ballot. Some other states are said to be considering a vote too.
(Full disclosure: As I've reported in these pages, last December I participated in a magic mushroom guided “trip” to deal with some issues about dying associated with my pancreatic cancer diagnosis. I am now a believer. You can read that report here and here.)
THE NEW SLAM DUNKING ZOO OTTER
She's the cutest thing, Juno the rescue otter is.
For many years, Eddie the Otter was a favorite among visitors to the Oregon Zoo in Portland where he showed off his skill at slam-dunking his own basketball. It was a sad day when, at age 20, Eddie died last year.
The staff knew they needed to find another such otter and lo – Juno, a five-year-old southern sea otter turned up:
"She was rescued as a pup near Monterey Bay in California, after her mom went missing. She is a good otter, according to the person whose job it is to evaluate otters,” reports the Washington Post.
“'She’s just a sweet, awesome otter. I can’t say enough great things about her, marine life keeper Amy Hash said. 'She’s high-energy. She loves to train. She’s a happy little otter.'”
Catch up with Juno's story in this video:
NEW ARMY UNIFORM
The U.S. Army will be rolling out a new uniform next year:
”The United States Army wanted a spiffy new service uniform, one that would stand out in a tough recruiting environment and polish the Army’s image after a generation of grinding and divisive wars,” reports The New York Times.
“So it turned the clock back. Way back.
“It chose a new uniform that looks almost exactly like the old green gabardine wool field coat and khaki trousers that officers wore in World War II. Probably not by coincidence, that’s what the Army was wearing the last time the nation celebrated total victory in a major war.”
Maybe the uniform is “way back” to the reporter on the the story, but probably not to many of us who hang out at this blog. I instantly remembered my dad in an almost identical uniform during World War II.
Here he is in the early 1940s before being shipped overseas, along with the planned “new” uniforms. (Sorry I can't find a full-body shot of my father in uniform but trust me, they look the same.)
I think the new uniforms look spiffy and terrific. You can find out more at The New York Times.
GEORGE CLOONEY PSA ON DUMB FUCKERY FOR UDUMASS
Last Monday, the United Nations released a summary of its report about the mess we humans have made of planet Earth. It is terrifying.
'That’s where George Clooney comes in,” reported Slate.
“The actor, director, and two-time Sexiest Man Alive paid a visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live to endorse a crucial new initiative fighting “dumb fucking idiots saying dumb fucking shit.”
“It’s called United to Defeat Untruthful Misinformation and Support Science, aka UDUMASS. Peppered with bleep-outs, Clooney’s parody shill video cleverly calls out governmental ignorance without naming names.”
Here it is:
Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.
You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” at the top of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog.