Flu Pandemic This Way Cometh?

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Human to human transmission of swine flu causes alarm via Reuters:

A strain of flu never seen before has killed as many as 61 people in Mexico and has spread into the United States, where eight people have been infected but recovered, health officials said on Friday.

Mexico’s government said at least 16 people have died of the disease in central Mexico and that it may also have been responsible for 45 other deaths.

The World Health Organization said tests showed the virus in 12 of the Mexican patients had the same genetic structure as a new strain of swine flu, designated H1N1, seen in eight people in California and Texas.

Because there is clearly human-to-human spread of the new virus, raising fears of a major outbreak, Mexico’s government canceled classes for millions of children in its sprawling capital city and surrounding areas.

“Our concern has grown as of yesterday,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acting director Dr. Richard Besser told reporters in a telephone briefing.

You know how you read this stuff and then wonder if it’s happened to you? A month ago, the flu struck my family and it was bad. It was a weird, clingy virus with a cyclical fever for five days, body-wracking cough and a fatigue that rivaled mono. And it has persisted. The kids still get a rumbling cough when they don’t get enough sleep.

This flu is a huge concern. I’m wondering if it’s more of a problem than even the CDC knows.



Memory Making

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Glenn Reynolds muses about memory:

My question is, why is there so much room? I was listening to Santana’s Moonflower in the car a while ago, which I’ve barely listened to since college, and not only did I realize that all the licks were stored in my brain, I actually found myself noticing when skips that were present on my original vinyl version didn’t appear in the new one. What a waste of brain cells! And yet, I often have trouble remembering more mundane things, and always have. Seems like the storage part is easier than the retrieval part. (In high-school, we used to joke about Write-Only Memory). This might prove a major handicap if people live longer, requiring some sort of memory training. Or we could do what the Google generation does, and not try to remember anything, since you can just look it up . . . .

It seems like everything gets laid down somewhere, compressed for efficiency, and then retrieved but maybe, like Google, brought up in an unrelated but associated place. The brain has some sort of hierarchy for deciding what is important, but what is it?

And memories are like reliving the actual event, which is a reason why I question the helpfulness of abuse victims going to therapy and talking about the abuse. Are we sure that doing such a thing is helpful?

Experts said the study had all but closed the case: For the brain, remembering is a lot like doing (at least in the short term, as the research says nothing about more distant memories).

On the other hand, reliving a memory can be helpful. My high school basketball coach instructed us to shoot 100 free throws before we went to sleep every night. We were a better than 90% free throw shooting team. I think it worked. (This also prompted basketball dreams, too.)