Saturday, February 27, 2010

Norway conquers infections by cutting use of antibiotics

Hospitals tend to be rather dangerous places to visit ; no wonder doctors are paid large amounts of money to stick around. If you're unlucky enough to spend a night in the hospital as a patient, you're going to expose yourself to bacteria that's been artificially hardened by antibiotics. All hospitals have their doses of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), basically super bacteria that even the best immunologist can't kill (currently).

On the other side of the coin, lies the general impression that you absolutely HAVE to pop a pill of Tylenol (no, not antibiotics) or Aspirin for the slightest headache. When you actually take the time to visit a doctor for said pain, you're going to be walking out with a prescription for guess what... antibiotics !

Norway has shown that people actually need less antibiotics than they're prescribed. Limiting the usage of these drugs has caused fewer super mutants running around in their hospitals as well.

• Norwegian doctors prescribe fewer antibiotics than any other country, so people do not have a chance to develop resistance to them.


Friday, February 26, 2010

On Happiness

Much can be said, and has been said so far on happiness. To some, it is the goal of all existence. For others, the end of existence may be self-perfection, but that's beyond the point. Or is it?

Psychologists seem to have a very narrow-minded definition of happiness. Most of the time, they equate happiness with joy.
To probe the effect of happiness on selfishness, Forgas and his colleague Hui Bing Tan put 45 students into good or bad moods by giving them positive or negative feedback on a "cognitive test" that they had taken.
When students received positive feedback, what they actually felt is contentment, or even joy, but not happiness. Happiness is much deeper than either contentment or joy. It is a lasting moment when one feels at peace with the rest of the world, where desires have finally shut up for just a moment and what really matters is the present. It is first and foremost a deep, lasting emotion as well as mental state which doesn't either come or go in a predictable way. As an example, imagine the what the wise grandfather at the family Christmas table would feel to see his offspring all grown up.

My own theory, which is obviously inspired from what I've read, is that happiness most often than not comes from a steady increase in power over oneself, a form of self-control.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine which consists in administering extremely low doses of supposedly active ingredients, such as wolf's pelt or thunderstorm water. The practice is apparently supported by some insurance companies, and even paid for by national governments. The United Kingdom was such a state, until recently it decided to stop backing the practice. There were as many as three homeopathic hospitals in the UK, all of which were partly supported by the state.

To the bright side of the equation, I see a group of people whom, having undergone classical treatment, failed to improve their condition, and turn on to homeopathy as a last resort. As far as I'm concerned, if these patients actively believe in a remedy while essentially drinking putrefied water, so be it, homeopathy has its place in private practices. However, a mentally sane patient should never be able to choose homeopathy in favor of traditional medicine, not should it ever be state-sanctioned.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Utah to make 12th grade optional

As a civilized country, our main asset isn't our currency or as we have seen of late, our economy. Instead, it is domain-specific knowledge we have discovered, developed and improved over the years in Engineering, Medicine, etc. Anyone might benefit directly or indirectly from this research and know-how. Our governments continue to hope for the next incandescent bulb, steamship, or even telephone, and for this reason, large sums of money are being "spent" on research.

However, research goes hand-in-hand with education. If there is one thing governments should be focusing on, is improving education. Utah wants to make 12th grade optional. Following their reasoning, society would gain too little from an extra year of high-school compared to how much it actually costs. They don't deny the advantage of research, or that of education.

My question is simple: why not review the high-school curriculum, in the hope of producing more researchers, engineers or doctors, instead of cutting budgets?

Their reasons might be threefold: given the recent economic crisis, they need to tighten up their budgets. Secondly, they choose to go for an instant win, by improving the balance sheet, and risking losing their economic edge in the long term. Thirdly, aren't ignorant masses easier to control than those able to form an educated opinion?