The word for the month, this last month of 2021, indeed for the whole year, is “languishing: the ‘neglected middle child of mental health’ between depression and flourishing; a feeling of stagnation, lack of focus, aimlessness. You might find yourself slipping into solitude.” (1) The word surely describes how I feel right now, so what a great excuse to disguise my lack of focus with an aimless review of my 2021 blogs.
January 1 – “A vote in favor of domestic violence?” GOP senators blocked a vote renewing the 1994 Violence Against Women Act that extends a ban on gun ownership to a “boyfriend” (aka “the boy friend loophole”), defined specifically as “dating partners” or “stalkers”. Between 2016 and 2018 intimate partner violence increased by nearly 50%. When a gun is present during a domestic violence event the incidence of homicide is increased by 500% .
January 15 – Infusion of the plasma from COVID survivors is of no benefit to the sick. The antibodies after natural COVID infection last only about 6 months. 75% of hospitalized COVID patients still have some symptoms 6 months later.
February 1 – Most people who have their senses of smell and taste dulled by a COVID infection suffer temporarily, but for some it is permanent. The microscopic, hair-like filaments (called cilia) arising from our nose cells transmit odor information to our brain, which interprets it as a certain smell. Other viruses, and certainly tobacco smoke, slow down or stop cilia movement in our respiratory tract, but COVID-19 kills them and they fall off their cells. Dogs can get COVID and lose their sense of smell which is 10,000 more sensitive than ours.
February 15 – four excerpts on the “Science of Love” from past Valentine Day Blogs.
The percentages of impact on “attractiveness” during the first 90 seconds to 4 minutes of an encounter were 55% body language, 38% speed and tone of voice, and 7% speech content. “It is how you look and sound, and not what you say that counts.” (2010) Excellent points to keep in mind for your ZOOM encounters.
Despite all this scientific hodgepodge, deep down we all probably don’t want to believe that the mystery of human love can be explained by genetic maps and certain chemical blood levels. To quote Albert Einstein, when asked if he ever thought of trying to have “the perfect child” with Marilyn Monroe, he said: “I would be afraid that the child might have my looks and her brains.” (2015)
Dr. Helen Reiss, Massachusetts General Hospital, lists five effects of love. Number 5 is “longer lives” when associated with any “close social relationship, not necessarily a romantic one. Family and friends count.” Does using Facebook increase your longevity? Will that question provoke a wave of important biosocial research, or will it merely spawn a blockbuster Sci Fi film about a woman with 83 million Facebook friends who becomes President and lives cancer-free to age 150? (2018)
The Aarons Protocol includes 48 escalating, self-revealing questions which produced “friendships” of strangers that lasted for months in 35% of the pairings. Using some of the suggested “attraction” elements for the development of love, we can imagine a movie scene of a six-foot, wide-shouldered, licorice-sucking man wearing a lavender sweater over a 2-day old T-shirt driving a Lotus through busy city traffic picking up a hitchhiking, ovulating blonde with a very symmetrical face above her C cup bra? . . . wait . . . it IS a movie scene . . . they already made it . . . but, . . . Julia Roberts is taller than Richard Gere!
March 1 – “10 Reasons Why Covid Killed More in the U.S. Compared to Other Countries” The concept of cross-reactive immunity to variants is something you will undoubtedly hear much more about as COVID variants proliferate. “It ain’t over yet”. As one wit said, “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, BUT that means that we are still IN the tunnel.”
March 15 – The flu virus strain that appears annually is basically a whole different virus from the flu virus of the preceding year. The COVID-19 virus mutations consist of only a few changes in its spike proteins that attach to our cells. All three of our current vaccines cause generation of antibodies to the spike proteins, so that attachment to our cells does not occur. The story continues.
April 1 – “Seven New Vaccines Coming” . . . alas. . . the April Fools Issue
T****vaX (Pronounced as “StarsvaX”, or even as “CzarvaX”)
This vaccine, composed of RNA snippets from both Obamas with a few snips from direct descendants of Abe Lincoln, reduces intentional falsehoods by 90%, but has side effects of facial hair and frequent, unexpected pauses in speech. The persistence of its antibodies are unknown, and the next test period will be in 2022. Some T****vaX detractors think that its effect by 2024 will be close to nil. (Snopes rates this as fake news.)
April 15 – FedEx, UPS, and Amazon fly a combined total of 1500 jet planes a day spewing 53 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon into the upper reaches of our atmosphere just to “deliver our packages the same day.”
A pediatrician at the Boston Medical Center reports that the reduction in respiratory illnesses among young children is probably a side effect of them wearing masks against COVID. “I don’t think anyone believes that a 3-year-old would keep on a mask, but they do. It’s amazing”.
Half a million signed up for ACA (Obamacare) premium subsidy. Despite efforts by the previous administration to overturn the ACA, more than 20 million people remained under its coverage at the end of “his” term.
May 1 – “Sexual orientation is who you go to bed WITH, gender identity is who you go to bed AS, and they may be completely unrelated to each other.”
May 15 – The opioid epidemic continues, Moderna tests its vaccine against new variants, and ransomware is predicted by cybersecurity experts as the “next pandemic”.
June 1 – Roe vs. Wade is under attack again (since 1973 actually) and medical abortions accomplished with 2 pills delivered in the mail are increasing.
June 15 – A drug-resistent fungus and deep sea novel microbes are new infectious disease worries.
July 1 – Actual cases of flu in the past 9 months are 1% of the expected number of cases. Medical artificial intelligence (AI) shows some real glitches in reliability. A new oat milk company hits it big on the stock market. The ACA (Obamacare) is validated for the third time by the U.S. Supreme Court.
July 15 – The art of medicine in primary care is as essential today to excellent patient care as is the advancement of the science of medicine. Teaching clinical judgement through “narrative medicine”.
September 1 – “Should COVID non-vaxxers pay for their own medical care if they get sick?” One of the major sources of vaccine hesitancy is fear, and fear is an emotion that does not usually respond readily to knowledge. Making not being vaccinated “suck more” might just create enough annoyance, another prevalent emotion, to supplant the vaccination fear.
September 15 – Deaths from the flu so far are 2% of expected, the Delta variant of COVID is expected to hit the peak of its surge around Thanksgiving, the number of opioid overdose deaths have hit a record high, and initial testing of a COVID nasal spray vaccine is free of side effects but has low effectiveness.
October 1 – A history of masks and public health law; many states are enacting legislation that would strip officials of current public health powers allowing “mask mandates”. Courts are rightly charged with rectifying executive abuses of authority and the disregard of individual rights, but in their zeal to protect religious liberty and constrain executive action, courts may be leaving officials with fewer tools to fight COVID-19 and the next pandemic.
October 15 – Deaths by gun for American children has increased every year since 2000. Drinking coffee actually lowers your risk of heart arrhythmias, and a baby aspirin a day does NOT lower your risk for your first heart attack.
November 1 – Do COVID antibodies in my bloodstream mean I am immune? Who knows. Current research into developing COVID-19 vaccines may someday lead to a vaccine for the common cold, not a lethal disease certainly, but one of staggering economic effect throughout the world.
November 15 – 10 ways to live longer and one way to have a “good death.”
December 1 – We are #1 in the world in gun violence, gun deaths, gun ownership, and gun manufacturing. In 2020 we made 9 million guns, twice as many as we did in 2008.
December 15 – Why do some drugs cost so much? “The $56,000 price per patient for ADUHELM (aducanumab) for Alzheimer’s is a rational manufacturer response to an irrational insurance system.”
Want more information? Just go to www.hubslist.org and click on the issue by date.
Want a better year? Go to 2022 and hope.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
- New York Times, April 19. 2021, (“Languishing” was coined as a term in “positive psychology” by sociologist Corey Keyes in 2002.)