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Health Care Reform: The Big FAIL

November 23, 2009

I hope the Democrats aren’t going to hurt each other with all the back-patting going on over the health care reform legislation. Of course, if one of them does get smacked around a little too hard, no worries — the Congress zombies have an outstanding health care package, courtesy of us taxpayers.

So what are we getting in return? Well, I’m tempted to call it a sh*t sandwich, but it’s not even that good. Here’s a fairly short, very readable summary, based on interviews with health care professionals who are less than impressed with the Senate bill. Example:

Doctors, nurses, and patients following the de-evolution of health care reform closely know that the public option (especially the idea of a robust public option) is a carefully calculated political carrot being offered to progressives so they will sit down, shut up about single-payer, and support this current corporate giveaway to private insurance companies, which is moving through Congress right now.

There’s more, of course. It’s tempting to end here with a “call your Senators and let them know how you feel” line, but since they don’t seem to give a flying fox about what any of us think, why bother? Third party, anyone?


Spending Too Much on Cosmetics? Read This!

November 22, 2009

We’ve all done it — fallen for the lavish promises in cosmetic ad copy. And why not? Who wouldn’t want to look younger, have smooth, flawless skin and fabulous (or for some of us, frizz-less) hair?

The problem is, a lot of products don’t quite deliver what they promise, no matter how much they cost. If you’ve got a collection of useless stuff and don’t want to keep adding to it, here are a couple of websites that can help.

The Beauty Brains is the home of “a group of cosmetic scientists who understand what the chemicals used in cosmetics really do, how products are tested, and what all the advertising means.”  You can submit questions about specific products or search the archives for their take on hundreds of different items, ranging from skin lotions and shampoos to permanent make-up and laser treatments.  Their reports are enlightening and often pretty funny, especially when they deconstruct some of the outlandish claims in ad copy.

Makeup Alley is another one of my favorites. There are probably hundreds of sites like this, where users weigh in on their experiences with specific products, but I’ve used MA for years and never been disappointed. You can search by most popular products in a specific category and age group and to see what other people think about something you’re tempted to buy.  Or you can add your own thoughts on something you’re happy — or not — with.

There’s also a “swap” feature, which might come in handy post-holidays as a way of getting rid of the magenta glitter lipstick your office “secret Santa” dumped on — I mean, gave — you. Unless, of course, your pooch has a penchant for getting her glam on!

If You Want Accurate News About Health, Turn Off the TeeVee

November 17, 2009

Seriously.  Most television newscasts are sorry affairs, but when it comes to health news, forget it.  Relying on health news from television news programs could actually be harmful to your health.

Don’t take my word for it. Check out this column by Marty Kaplan writing at the Huffington Post. Kaplan is the director of the Norman Lear Center and Professor at the USC Annenberg School, so he’s an expert at watching the media.

Kaplan starts by calling out CNN for some nonsense about an “anti-cancer bra” (not kidding!) that the network’s reporters covered.  But down a little further in the piece, there’s this:

CNN is far from the only offender. As the independent nonprofit documents on its website, the morning health news segments on ABC, CBS and NBC regularly and “unquestioningly promote new drugs and new technologies [and] feed the ‘worried well’ by raising unrealistic expectations of unproven technologies that may produce more harm than good.”

On the day before CNN’s cancer-preventing bra story ran, University of Minnesota professor Gary Schwitzer, the publisher of Health News Review, told Bob Garfield, host of NPR’s On the Media, that a lot of these network TV health stories aren’t just bad journalism; they’re actually dangerous, malicious, sickening. Garfield asked him if there’s any evidence that this kind of coverage — “this dreck” — causes real harm. Yes, he said, reports show very clearly the impact of health news coverage, both good and bad, on consumers of that information. …

Health News Review recently announced that after three-and-a-half years, they’re not going to review TV health news segments anymore. No matter how bad some of the stories are, the networks just don’t care.

If you want the real deal health news-wise, you’ll have to do some reading. It’s just not possible to summarize the pros and cons of research and other health issues in the 60 seconds or so that most newscasts allot for their stories.  For starters, here’s a list of the 20 most popular health websites. Plus, I’ll keep updating my blogroll with other good sources.

Got 60 Seconds? Get Healthy!

November 14, 2009

hourglassIf you’re looking for ways to lose weight and improve your health, check out these 60 Second Solutions from Prevention TV.

Topics include everything from food (“Better Broccoli”) to exercise (“Surprising Belly Flattener”) to kitchen cosmetics (“At Home Beauty Remedies”) and more.  The videos are free and each one lasts only a minute — time well spent for anyone who’s looking for inexpensive, practical health information.

Holding the Line on Holiday Weight Gain

November 14, 2009

fat squirrelFor the next few weeks, most of us will be facing a staggering amount of holiday snacks, sweets and smorgasbord-style meals, all of which threaten to overwhelm the best diet-related intentions. So now’s the time to start eating smarter and moving more — unless, of course, you don’t mind putting on a few extra pounds, like our not-so-little friend shown here.

Here’s a good place to start:’s list of “11 ways to beat winter weight gain.”

More on the Diet-Depression Link

November 13, 2009

funny-pictures-kitten-has-a-happy_sThree recent studies show how eating bad food (too much animal protein, too few good carbs and processed foods) translates into a bad mood. But don’t take my word for it! Physician and author Joel Fuhrman, M.D. (“Eat to Live,” and other excellent books) does a great job of summarizing the science in this post at his blog.

My 10 November post, “Bad Food = Bad Mood,” touched on this topic, but there’s much more at the link above.  So if you’d like to “has a happee,” too, go read!

For Veterans’ Day: Returning Soldiers and Their Dogs

November 12, 2009

scout1After months away from home, these soldiers are welcomed back by their incredibly happy dogs! (That’s Scout, one of my own dogs,  in the photo. )