Thursday, November 24, 2022
Sunday, November 20, 2022
Sunday, June 19, 2022
"Remember the turtle," a boss once said to me. I had to ask him to explain. "We're like turtles," he replied. "The turtle can't move forward without sticking its head out of its shell."
Pride Nights have been Major League Baseball's slow motion effort to move forward in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights. The first event was held 16 years ago by the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2022 two of baseball's thirty professional teams are not hosting Pride Nights. Sadly, the iconic New York Yankees being one.
The Yankees crosstown rivals, the Mets, however, just held their largest and most successful Pride Night, their sixth annual event. Members of the gay community were pleased with the full support of the team's management for a program that was well organized and supported by comments of several players and their manager, Buck Showalter. One player, Mark Canha, tweeted that he welcomed "his beautiful LGBTQ fans" to the Mets Pride Night.
Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants jointly celebrated a Pride Night at in the same game in San Francisco. The Dodgers previously held their pride night in Los Angeles, in which they honored the legacy of Glenn Burke, the first openly gay major league player. The Oakland Athletics honored Burke, as well. The team honored their alumnus by naming their event in his memory. The online magazine, The Athletic, reported during the week that one major league free agent, pitcher Liam Hendriks, based off-season signing decision at least partly on whether a prospective team was planning to hold a Pride Night.
All did not go well, however, in Tampa Bay. Five of the team's players refused to participate, citing religious objections, and declined to wear rainbow colored caps and arm patches. Symbolically, they ripped the patches off their uniforms and wore the team's traditional cap. Ironically, two of the five players, all pitchers, participated in the evening's game and were responsible for the team's loss.
Saturday, June 4, 2022
They laughed at us.
William Safire, the self-described "scandal monger" of Trump's early years and my boss.
In major ways, William Safire was the godfather of today's right wing, backstabbing Republican party. Along with Roy Cohn, Safire was an early an avid supporter of Donald Trump. Safire help Trump's sister get an undeserving Federal judgeship. Introduced him early to Richard Nixon, for whom Safire had worked as speech writer (ever hear of the "nattering nabobs of negativism?"). Taught him to dominate by intimidation.
Safire undoubtedly taught Trump never to apologize, never to take responsibility. And run things as an autocrat. Employ nepotism and cronyism. And be mean.
And I had a front-row seat for 12 years as an editor to Safire at the Dana Foundation in New York City. The Foundation was at 745 5th Avenue. Trump Tower was right next door at 725 5th.
On a hunch, years after I left Dana, I asked a high-up former employee if Safire had a close relationship with Trump. "Oh yes, absolutely." she said.
At the New York Times, where Safire wrote his political column, he was known as the creator of "hatchet journalism." Find a person, usually a Democrat, and go after him or her, and put the fear of God in them. People such as Hillary Clinton (remember "She's a congenital liar?").
If the facts didn't hold up, hold your tongue, find a new target and move on. In the style of today's Fox News. Safire called himself, with only a touch of irony, "the vituperative right-wing scandalmonger." He did all he could to polarize the political parties into deep and lasting ideological corners.
There was a time in this country, roughly before Nixon and Safire, where we did have a bipartisan government, one where Democrats and Republicans could work together and did. Roughly about the time he's to arrive in Washington, that all began to change. It took someone like Trump to drive Americans on the right to such extremism that it threatens the core of our Democracy.
Now our great democracy, as Lincoln called it the "last best hope of Earth," literally stands on the brink of destruction. I saw the beginning of the end and I think you might want to hear what are I witnessed. Take a look at my new book, Say No to Fascism or Say Farewell to Lincoln’s Last Best Hope of Earth. Start reading it for free by clicking this link.
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Even moderate light exposure during sleep harms heart health and increases insulin resistance
Bedroom with full moon | Credit: © Brilliant Eye / stock.adobe.com
Exposure to even moderate ambient lighting during nighttime sleep, compared to sleeping in a dimly lit room, harms your cardiovascular function during sleep and increases your insulin resistance the following morning, reports a new study. Just a single night of exposure to moderate room lighting during sleep can impair glucose and cardiovascular regulation, which are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Close the blinds, draw the curtains and turn off all the lights before bed. Exposure to even moderate ambient lighting during nighttime sleep, compared to sleeping in a dimly lit room, harms your cardiovascular function during sleep and increases your insulin resistance the following morning, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study
"The results from this study demonstrate that just a single night of exposure to moderate room lighting during sleep can impair glucose and cardiovascular regulation, which are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome," said senior study author Dr. Phyllis Zee, chief of sleep medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine physician. "It's important for people to avoid or minimize the amount of light exposure during sleep."
There is already evidence that light exposure during daytime increases heart rate via activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which kicks your heart into high gear and heightens alertness to meet the challenges of the day.
"Our results indicate that a similar effect is also present when exposure to light occurs during nighttime sleep," Zee said.
Heart rate increases in light room, and body can't rest properly
"We showed your heart rate increases when you sleep in a moderately lit room," said Dr. Daniela Grimaldi, a co-first author and research assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern. "Even though you are asleep, your autonomic nervous system is activated. That's bad. Usually, your heart rate together with other cardiovascular parameters are lower at night and higher during the day."
There are sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to regulate our physiology during the day and night. Sympathetic takes charge during the day and parasympathetic is supposed to at night, when it conveys restoration to the entire body.
How nighttime light during sleep can lead to diabetes and obesity
Investigators found insulin resistance occurred the morning after people slept in a light room. Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat and liver don't respond well to insulin and can't use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for it, your pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, your blood sugar goes up.
An earlier study published in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at a large population of healthy people who had exposure to light during sleep. They were more overweight and obese, Zee said.
"Now we are showing a mechanism that might be fundamental to explain why this happens," Zee said. "We show it's affecting your ability to regulate glucose."
The participants in the study weren't aware of the biological changes in their bodies at night.
"But the brain senses it," Grimaldi said. "It acts like the brain of somebody whose sleep is light and fragmented. The sleep physiology is not resting the way it's supposed to."
Exposure to artificial light at night during sleep is common
Exposure to artificial light at night during sleep is common, either from indoor light emitting devices or from sources outside the home, particularly in large urban areas. A significant proportion of individuals (up to 40%) sleep with a bedside lamp on or with a light on in the bedroom and/or keep the television on.
Light and its relationship to health is double edged.
"In addition to sleep, nutrition and exercise, light exposure during the daytime is an important factor for health, but during the night we show that even modest intensity of light can impair measures of heart and endocrine health," Zee said.
The study tested the effect of sleeping with 100 lux (moderate light) compared to 3 lux (dim light) in participants over a single night. The investigators discovered that moderate light exposure caused the body to go into a higher alert state. In this state, the heart rate increases as well as the force with which the heart contracts and the rate of how fast the blood is conducted to your blood vessels for oxygenated blood flow.
"These findings are important particularly for those living in modern societies where exposure to indoor and outdoor nighttime light is increasingly widespread," Zee said.
Zee's top tips for reducing light during sleep
(1) Don't turn lights on. If you need to have a light on (which older adults may want for safety), make it a dim light that is closer to the floor.
(2) Color is important. Amber or a red/orange light is less stimulating for the brain. Don't use white or blue light and keep it far away from the sleeping person.
(3) Blackout shades or eye masks are good if you can't control the outdoor light. Move your bed so the outdoor light isn't shining on your face.
Is my room too light?
"If you're able to see things really well, it's probably too light," Zee said.
Materials provided by Northwestern University. Original written by Marla Paul. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Monday, May 9, 2022
Social media break improves mental health, study suggests
May 6, 2022
University of Bath
Results of a new study which asked participants to take a week-long break from TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook find positive effects for wellbeing, depression and anxiety.
Asking people to stop using social media for just one week could lead to significant improvements in their wellbeing, depression and anxiety and could, in the future, be recommended as a way to help people manage their mental health say the authors of a new study.
The study, carried out by a team of researchers at the University of Bath (UK), studied the mental health effects of a week-long social media break. For some participants in the study, this meant freeing-up around nine hours of their week which would otherwise have been spent scrolling Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.
Their results -- published today (Friday 6 May 2022) in the US journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking -- suggest that just one week off social media improved individuals' overall level of well-being, as well as reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
For the study, the researchers randomly allocated 154 individuals aged 18 to 72 who used social media every day into either an intervention group, where they were asked to stop using all social media for one-week or a control group, where they could continue scrolling as normal. At the beginning of the study, baseline scores for anxiety, depression and wellbeing were taken.
Participants reported spending an average of 8 hours per week on social media at the start of the study. One week later, the participants who were asked to take the one-week break had significant improvements in wellbeing, depression, and anxiety than those who continued to use social media, suggesting a short-term benefit.
Participants asked to take a one-week break reported using social media for an average of 21 minutes compared to an average of seven hours for those in the control group. Screen usage stats were provided to check that individuals had adhered to the break.
Lead researcher from Bath's Department for Health, Dr Jeff Lambert explains: "Scrolling social media is so ubiquitous that many of us do it almost without thinking from the moment we wake up to when we close our eyes at night.
"We know that social media usage is huge and that there are increasing concerns about its mental health effects, so with this study, we wanted to see whether simply asking people to take a week's break could yield mental health benefits.
"Many of our participants reported positive effects from being off social media with improved mood and less anxiety overall. This suggests that even just a small break can have an impact.
"Of course, social media is a part of life and for many people, it's an indispensable part of who they are and how they interact with others. But if you are spending hours each week scrolling and you feel it is negatively impacting you, it could be worth cutting down on your usage to see if it helps."
The team now want to build on the study to see whether taking a short break can help different populations (e.g., younger people or people with physical and mental health conditions). The team also want to follow people up for longer than one week, to see if the benefits last over time. If so, in the future, they speculate that this could form part of the suite of clinical options used to help manage mental health.
Over the past 15 years, social media has revolutionized how we communicate, underscored by the huge growth the main platforms have observed. In the UK the number of adults using social media increased from 45% in 2011 to 71% in 2021. Among 16 to 44-year-olds, as many as 97% of us use social media and scrolling is the most frequent online activity we perform.
Feeling 'low' and losing pleasure are core characteristics of depression, whereas anxiety is characterised by excessive and out of control worry. Wellbeing refers to an individual's level of positive affect, life satisfaction and sense of purpose. According to the Mind, one in six of us experience a common mental health problem like anxiety and depression in any given week.
Monday, April 18, 2022
NIH/Migraines at work overlooked, understudied.
Millions suffer tension, migraine headaches at work, in silence
February 9, 2022
University of Copenhagen - The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
A new study shows that people with migraine or frequent tension headaches have a reduced work ability in particularly three areas. The researchers hope that the new knowledge may help workplaces become better at accommodating those suffering from headaches.
FULL STORYImagine your head pounding. And when you try to move, a door slams, or curtains are drawn it gets much worse. Ideally, you would like to crawl under your blanket in a dark and quiet room.
This is how it may feel for people suffering from migraine or frequent tension headaches. Untreated, a migraine attack may last for 4-72 hours, and tension headaches may potentially last for a week. In Denmark, it is estimated that approximately 770,000 people suffer from migraine or frequent tension headaches.
Now, for the first time, a new study from the University of Copenhagen shows specifically how migraine or frequent tension headaches affect the ability to work.
"It is especially the ability to remember, make quick decisions and do hard physical work that cause difficulties for people with these headache disorders," says Project Manager and author of the study Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen.
She hopes that the study will help to focus on the consequences which headaches may have for working life.
"Migraine is the leading cause of functional impairment among people under the age of 50. And headaches have negative effects on sick leave and productivity. So, it would benefit workplaces to open their eyes to the untapped potential that you find here," says Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen, adding:
"Indeed, we cannot afford not to take it seriously."
If you ask the Danish working population, 24 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men suffer from migraines or frequent tension headaches.The possibilities of adapting the work during headache attacks depend on the type of work you have, says Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen, stressing:
"So also in this context, there is a significant inequality in health."While people with academic jobs will often be able to go home a little earlier, work from home or choose to postpone the tasks that demand the highest concentration, other people, such as cleaning staff or nursing staff in old people's homes, do not have the same opportunities to adjust the working hours or postpone the tasks to be solved. Instead, they may have to call in sick.
According to Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen, it takes creativity on the part of the manager and the employees to find out which solutions may be helpful:
"It is about having a good overview of the tasks that need to be solved, and then having a talk as to the best way to arrange a work day. For example, there may be tasks that can be performed later in the day, or that can be solved at a leisurely pace or in a quiet space until the pain has gone."
"I am going to lay down"Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen believes that headache disorders such as migraine and frequent headaches are an overlooked epidemic.
"We are stuck with the idea of the character Maude from the Danish TV series Matador saying 'I am going to lay down' whenever she is a bit stressed," she says, explaining:
"Most people have experienced headaches. Therefore, it may be difficult to understand how debilitating migraine and frequent headaches may be for a colleague, friend or family member. People still have the notion that it will be sufficient to swallow a pill."
Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen believes that there is a lack of knowledge in the general population about the importance of headache disorders. The same applies to the fact that taking too many painkillers to soothe the headache may actually lead to more headaches.
"Some studies show that headaches are the second-most common cause of sick leave -- surpassed only by infectious diseases. Therefore, headache disorders carry large personal and socio-economic costs," says Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen.
Associated with depressive symptoms and muscular painThe researchers have used self-reported information from more than 5,000 active Danes with different educational backgrounds -- from people with long academic educations to unskilled workers.
"It is new that we combine information about migraine and frequent headaches with the participants' use of painkillers and with their description of the ability to cope with seven different, specific requirements at work," says Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen.
The participants also answered questions about their health, depressive symptoms and pain in muscles and joints.
Here, the researchers found that depressive symptoms and pain in muscles and joints play an important role for the context between headache disorders and the ability to work.
"Our results indicate that the handling of depressive symptoms and pain in the musculoskeletal system may be an important factor in improving the ability to work among people with headache disorders," says Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen.Previous studies support the finding that headaches, muscle and joint pain coincide with depressive symptoms.
Among other things, you may see mood changes, and neck pain may be a warning sign of a migraine attack, just as frequent headache attacks may affect the mood negatively.
Under- and overmedicationThe researchers find the lowest ability to work in the group of headache sufferers who do not use painkillers at all and the group who use painkillers on a daily basis.
"This raises the question whether these two groups are undertreated and overtreated, respectively," says Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen.
According to Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen, it seems to indicate that the group taking painkillers on a daily basis may not receive a treatment that works as intended -- and they might even suffer from medication overuse headaches.
"On the other hand, when you look at the group who does not take medication at all, it seems to indicate that they are undermedicated. And maybe it has to do with the fact that they do not consider their illness to be severe enough to seek medical attention -- but that is just our guess," says Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen.
Facts: What are migraines and frequent headaches?The two most common forms of headaches are migraine and tension headache.
Migraine is characterised by bouts of moderate or severe pulsating headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. Chronic migraine occurs more than 14 days a month.
Tension headache is characterised by mild to severe pain on both sides of the head. Nausea and vomiting are usually absent. Chronic headache occurs more than 14 days a month.
Facts: RecommendationsBased on the study, and seen in the light of other research, the researchers are making two recommendations:
People with headaches should see their doctor for advice and possible medical treatment.
Managers and employees should discuss the possibilities for adapting work during attacks, in order to reduce absenteeism, such as the opportunity to work in a room with less noise or outdoors, the opportunity to perform less physically demanding tasks or the opportunity to perform tasks that are not emotionally or cognitively demanding.
We need to think about the handling of other pain disorders (e.g., neck-shoulder pain) and mental health in order to improve the overall health-related quality of life among people with headache disorders.
Materials provided by University of Copenhagen - The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.