Sandra Bland died one year ago and since then at least 810 people lost their lives in jail

Dana Liebelson and Ryan J. Reilly investigate jailhouse suicides and other deaths for the Huffington Post:

Suicide has been the leading cause of death in jails in every year since 2000, according to the latest Justice Department data. This is not the case in prisons, where inmates are more likely to die of cancer, heart and liver disease. There’s a reason for this difference. People land in jail right after they’ve been arrested. They’re often angry, desperate or afraid. They may be intoxicated or have psychiatric conditions that officers have no way of knowing about.

The experts we spoke with emphasized that entering jail is an instantly dehumanizing process. “You get clothes that don’t fit you, you get strip-searched, you lose any semblance of privacy, you don’t get to make many decisions that we all take for granted,” said Jeffrey Metzner, a psychiatrist at the University of Colorado in Denver who specializes in inmate mental health. “I don’t think most of us realize just how frightening that experience is,” added Steve J. Martin, a corrections expert who is monitoring reforms at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York City. “You have a total and absolute loss—immediate loss—of control over your being, over your physical being.”

Under these circumstances, people can deteriorate at an alarming speed. About two weeks after Bland’s death, 20-year-old Brissa Lopez was arrested for allegedly fighting with her boyfriend, and arrived at a Texas jail around 4:47 a.m. She was “very cooperative” and “chuckled as she removed her tongue and lip ring,” according to a sergeant who admitted her. Staff checked on her at 6:15 a.m. Some 40 minutes later, she was found hanging from a fire alarm cage by a bedsheet.


Trump makes it easy to forget what a dumpster fire all the other GOP nomination hopefuls were

Rick Santorum said pregnancy from rape is a “gift from God” and compared gay relationships to “man-on-dog” sex — and he signed a pledge saying that African-Americans had it better during slavery.

He’s not an aberration, either. The whole cadre of GOP presidential nomination hopefuls were a bumper-crop of absolute terribleness: Rick Perry’s summer hunting camp is called “Niggerhead” and he pledged to eliminate three cabinet-level government agencies, but couldn’t remember which ones. He is a young-Earth Creationist, an anonymous GOP governor once said that Perry was “like George W Bush, but without the brains.”

Bobby Jindal named himself after a character on the Brady Bunch and bankrupted Louisiana by cutting taxes on the wealthy. Carly Fiorina is a climate-change denier who tanked HP and thinks Planned Parenthood sells foetal organs. Rand Paul wants to eliminate environmental and civil rights legislation and eliminate welfare. Scott Walker said he could be trusted to fight Isis because he’d defeated Wisconsin’s teachers’ unions. Chris Christie is basically a mafia don, but not a competent one. Jeb Bush thinks that health insurance can be eliminated by giving people Apple watches and that poverty can be solved by everyone “working longer hours.”

Source: Boing Boing (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0). Thanks, Cory!

Anti-vaccers are going to court to block California’s strict vaccination law

Soumya Karlamangla at the LA Times reports:

The new law, which took effect Friday, bars parents from citing religion or other personal beliefs as reasons to not vaccinate their kids. SB 277 is one of the toughest mandatory vaccination laws in the country and drew many protesters when it was debated in Sacramento.

A group of parents and the nonprofit Education 4 All filed a suitFriday to overturn the law in U.S. District Court in San Diego. The suit claims that the law violates California children’s right to an education under the state’s constitution.

“SB 277 has made second class citizens out of children who for very compelling reasons are not vaccinated according to the CDC schedule,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Robert T. Moxley, said in a statement.


It’s hard work being The Rock

Here’s What Happened When Some Dude Ate Like The Rock For A Month

The Rock eats more than 5,000 calories a day, more than twice the recommended calories for the typical American man.

That’s 10 pounds a food a day, eaten in seven daily meals that take an hour and a half every two days to prepare and two hours twenty minutes a day to eat. And the Rock does two and a half hours a day of hard exercise.

Sweet potatoes are the closest thing to a sweet that The Rock eats. (Not even fruit? Apparently not.) The Rock hasn’t eaten candy since 1989.

[Walt Hickey/FiveThirtyEight]


My scary cancer scare

You may recall not too long ago I was going on at great TMI length about my colonoscopy.

Today I went in for a follow-up consultation. The doctor said that he found two “precancerous” polyps, which he cut out. 

 And that means (says the doctor) I would have gotten cancer if I had put the procedure off any longer. Colon cancer. Not one of the good cancers. But I did not. They caught it in time. No cancer. Yay me. 

He’s going to have me in for a few additional tests over the course of the next year. I have a family history of cancer, and between that and the polyps, he wants to be extra-careful. Which I think is a dandy idea.

If you’re over 50, and you haven’t gotten a colonoscopy, do it. And do whatever else you need to do to take care of yourself. Because cancer is even worse than sitting through a “Two and a Half Men” marathon. 

The past two hours have been emotionally fraught. Something awful almost happened to me. But it didn’t. So now I guess I’ll finish posting this and have lunch.


I give this study a standing ovation

Standing desks boost productivity, not just health, study finds [Megan McDonough – The Washington Post]

I’ve been using a standing desk more than five years. My set-up – and all standing desks that I’m aware of – should really be called a standing/sitting desk, because I do spend a lot of the day sitting at it. I’m sitting right now. I use a tall stool. But I spend more than half my time standing at the desk.

It’s perfectly comfortable and I don’t plan to ever go back to a sitting desk.

Do not spend hundreds of dollars on a convertible standing desk. All you need to do is elevate your desktop by about 18″. Putting a coffee table on top of your desk works nicely. I think the piece of furniture I’m using started life as as console for a widescreen TV. And get a tall stool for when you want to sit.

Growing up fat

Confessions of a Former Fat Kid– Isaac Fitzgerald, BuzzFeed

Hell of a read.

Fitzgerald and I have led very different lives. Being former fat kids is nearly all we have in common.

Ironically, when I look at pictures of myself as a child and teen-ager, I don’t look fat. I didn’t get fat until I was an adult. I was terrible at sports, always picked last in gym class, and yet I and my friends rode our bikes everywhere, miles every day. It was the only way to get around.

Keeping it off

“I’m an obesity doctor. I’ve seen long-term weight loss work. Here’s how.”– Yoni Freedhoff, Vox

Making yourself suffer to lose weight is a sure way to fail, Freedhoff says. On the other hand, “liking the life you’re living while you’re losing weight is the key to keeping it off.”

That means you should enjoy the foods you eat and the exercise you’re doing.

That’s been my formula for success. It’s the most important weight loss and fitness tip I know.

Also, if you set out to lose 50 pounds, and lose 30 – that’s success. Don’t think of yourself as a failure for that. If you gain 10 pounds back later, count yourself a success for losing 20. Indeed, middle-class middle-aged Americans tend to gain weight as they get older, so if you keep your weight the same, that’s success too.

Why so many Labrador retrievers are so fat

A gene, also present in humans, makes those Labs insatiably hungry. No matter how much or how recently they’ve eaten, they always want more.

I used to think all dogs were that way until we got Minnie. We free-feed her. She eats just enough to maintain her weight, and leaves some uneaten food in her bowl. We put out food for her twice a day, and she almost always skips the morning meal.

This Is Why So Many Labrador Retrievers Are So Very Fat – Melissa Dahl, The New Yorker


Fraying at the edges: 67-year-old Geri Taylor navigates Alzheimer’s early years

“A withered person with a scrambled mind [and] memories sealed away [is] the familiar face of Alzheimer’s. But there is also the waiting period, which Geri Taylor has been navigating with prudence, grace and hope.”

N.R. Kleinfield tells Taylor’s story, in depth, with respect and gentle dignity, at The New York Times:

Fraying at the Edges: Her Fight to Live With Alzheimer’s

During a ruminant moment, Geri Taylor sat and, as an exercise, wrote down how she had changed. She called it: “Things I Do Differently as a Result of Diminished Capacity.”

The bulletinlike inspection report clarified for her who she now was. She found it sobering, for it caused her to realize just how reliant on others the slow drip of betrayals had made her, and that wounded her hard pride.

The log was two full pages. There were the expected entries, like not driving, not traveling alone (except by subway, bus or Metro-North train), simplifying her book choices, planning very carefully for outside activities (“always carry the same ‘highway bag,’” “constantly checking my things when I am out — have lost my vest, boots, watch and glasses in past nine months — very unusual”).

The list also contained some upbeat aspects. For instance, she put down how she cherished friends and family more than ever: “Daily call, email and text family and friends at a rate of 2-3 daily.”

And she listed something unexpected: “Do take housework more seriously and spend more time.” She cited the elements of housework as “an escape to simpler things” and how they were “time away from people and restful.” The dust and laundry, after all, didn’t judge her limitations, her spotty memory. So she found delight and gratification, even intoxication, in her triumphs over specks of dust and blemished counters.

“I can’t manage the bills, and I can’t manage the schedule,” she said. “But this is something I can do, and I can do well. So I’ve embraced it more. It’s identity. It’s a role I can still assume.”

She pointed out, “And most of the time, you can sing!”

As she wiped down counters and vacuumed the floor and changed bedsheets, she liked to sing whatever drifted through her mind (“Sometimes it’s disturbing what goes through my mind”).

They were old hymns. Show tunes. “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” “Amazing Grace.” A favorite was “Barbara Allen,” an English ballad about a man dying as he pined for the love of a woman. Grim, all right, but she liked it just fine for the tune, which suited her voice, a second soprano alto. So she cleaned with gusto and great pleasure. And she sang.

Taylor relies on her iPhone for reminders throughout the day. It helps her keep her independence.

Dave Barry shares his colonoscopy experience

A few friends shared this column with me after I had my colonoscopy a few days ago.

OK. You turned 50. You know you’re supposed to get a colonoscopy. But you haven’t. Here are your reasons:

1. You’ve been busy.

2. You don’t have a history of cancer in your family.

3. You haven’t noticed any problems.

4. You don’t want a doctor to stick a tube 17,000 feet up your butt.

Let’s examine these reasons one at a time. No, wait, let’s not. Because you and I both know that the only real reason is No. 4. This is natural. The idea of having another human, even a medical human, becoming deeply involved in what is technically known as your ”behindular zone” gives you the creeping willies.


Extreme weight loss slows metabolism, which is why it’s hard to keep weight off, study says

study followed 14 contestants on The Biggest Loser and found that 13 of the 14 had slower metabolism and burned significantly fewer calories than their peers who had not lost weight. And 13 of the 14 (a different thirteen, if I’m reading this article right) regained all the weight they’d lost on the show, with some gaining back even more.

Matches my experience. Based on my Lose It settings, I burn 24% fewer calories than the average man my size and activity level, or 550 fewer calories per day.

Today I’m supposed to be restricted to soft foods

It proved to be a challenge to think of something convenient, fast AND soft to have for lunch that wouldn’t be the same as what I had for breakfast, or what I’m planning to have for dinner.

Finally I hit on an idea: Baby food.

And that’s what I just had.

It doesn’t taste good. It doesn’t taste bad either. It just is.

I had something called “Gerber Chicken Itty-Bitty Noodle Dinner With Lil’ Bits.” The “Lil’ Bits” part sounds disturbing when dealing with anything that will involve any baby orifice.

I also had Gerber Garden Vegetables, comprising peas, carrots, and spinach.

I had two packages each, served at room temperature, because I am a buckaroo.

Eating them made me feel like a character in a midcentury rom-com, a middle-aged guy in  a plaid sports jacket and combover, eating baby food and complaining about having an ulcer. Then in Act III he throws it all over and has tacos and tequila. In act IV, he repents.

While bringing the spoon to my mouth, I had a strange compulsion to say, “HERE COMES THE FOOD PLANE INTO THE HANGAR! ZOOM! ZOOM!” What’s up with that?

I keep hearing from people who say a colonoscopy was no problem at all.

I am not one of those people. I was in no shape to do anything yesterday. And my ass has been dragging all day today. I’d hoped today to get back to my exercise routine of doing a 3+-mile brisk walk with Minnie, but I think I’ll just take her for a leisurely short stroll instead.

I hope to have more energy tomorrow.

And being a little enervated for 36 hours or so beats failing to detect cancer. My colon was certified cancer-free. Woo-hoo!

I wonder if the people who think they have felt no ill effects from a colonoscopy were soaring on the sedatives afterward? And if they’re discounting the next day’s fatigue as unrelated?

On the other hand, it could just be that the colonoscopy hit me harder than most. I am not Superman. Even though I do like wearing tights and a cape.

My medical adventure went well

I was lightly sedated, which meant I was conscious throughout. If you could call it that. The whole thing had a distant quality to it. There was a big-screen TV in sight across the room, and I watched the procedure on that.

I’ve heard other people describe similar experiences as being like they were happening to someone else. For me, it was more like I was watching a moderately interesting but very confusing and complicated bit of repair work being done on my car, while I drifted in and out of sleep. As I describe it now, I realize I must have been more out of it than I thought at the time. I thought I was alert. But if I’d been alert, I’d have found the procedure much more interesting – and distressing! – than I actually did.

I remember asking questions. I remember one or two were answered. I remember asking other questions which were ignored. I suspect I only thought I was speaking at that point.

I was in the hospital at noon and home by 5. The doctor apparently used a sandblaster on my insides – or something like that – I’m a bit unsure of the details – because he vetoed my dreams of a hearty dinner. Instead, he said I need to give my gut a chance to recover, which means more clear liquid diet plus Ensure today, an opaque liquid diet tomorrow, soft foods Wednesday, and then back to normal eating Thursday. Oh, well. Thursday is pizza night at our house anyway, so I have that to look forward to.

We stopped off at the pharmacy on the way home to pick up some Ensure. Julie insisted I wait in the car because I kept insisting that I was fine to walk but apparently I was pretty wobbly in real life. I didn’t have the energy to put up a fight. I waited for her in the car.

I got home, pounded down an Ensure and an apple juice like a 24-year-old financial analyst doing Jaeger shots, took a nap with Minnie on the day  bed, and woke up much restored. Had more Ensure for dinner, because I appreciate wild living. Tomorrow I’ll mix up a batch of Soylent and that will be my food for the day. I expect to be back to work mid-day Tuesday.

Oh, yeah, I can have tea again on Tuesday. OMG, tea! I’ve been taking caffeine pills today and yesterday to avoid headaches and such, which is just said.

Grateful for Julie and my health, good healthcare, and the support of all of you, my friends and family, to get through what turned out to be a nearly trivial incident. Grateful for that too.

Now here’s an animated GIF of a monkey clapping cymbals together, because we’ve had a difficult day and we deserve it.


This is what I get in lieu of food today


I’m getting ready for a routine colonoscopy tomorrow, and I’m restricted to a liquid diet. These liquids.

As a result, my brain is very small so my activity the rest of the day and tomorrow morning will consist of filling up my blog/social media queue with memes and retro photos, noodling around on social media, maybe watching a lot of TV, and napping. I’ll try to take Minnie out for a short walk or two.

This actually does not sound like a bad day. I’m reminded of something I heard on the Nerds on Draft podcast recently: As long as there’s nothing seriously wrong with you, a sick day as an adult is like a snow day when you’re a kid.


MealSquares: A New Era of Healthy Fast Food

Jolene Creighton, writing at Futurism:

MealSquares, simply put, is an all-in-one meal for someone on the go. And unlike some other meal replacement options, it isn’t loaded with tons of added sugar. As the company’s website asserts, it has “more protein per calorie than a Big Mac, less sugar than a banana.”

MealSquares is a full meal in flat cake about the size of a deck of cards. Unlike Soylent, which is a food substitute, MealSquares is food. Soylent is made from chemicals; MealSquares is made from eggs, orange juice, seeds, chocolate and stuff. The developers say if you eat five MealSquares a day, you’ll get all the nutrition you need, according to science – but the developers recommend against it, noting that science doesn’t really know for sure. Have MealSquares sometimes, real food other times, they say.

I’ve been using MealSquares occasionally since the summer, and I like them a lot. I like to bring a couple with me when I travel, for those occasions when I’m stuck somewhere where the only food options are junk food.

Ex-Marine describes why he loves Soylent and how it changed his life

Reddit user “lewis0451” says he was a US Marine who let himself go when he left the service, and whose weight went up to 255. He consumes mostly Soylent now, and is down to 180 pounds.

He credits Soylent, a liquid food substitute that supposedly has all the nutrients you need to live. The manufacturers claim you can live healthy on a diet of only Soylent. Some enthusiasts do that, although most, like “lewis0451,” are on a mostly-Soylent diet and have real food for special occasions.

I decided to order some for myself and see how things would taste. After a week, I decided I might want to try to pull off a 30-day challenge of nothing but Soylent, and I tried my best, but stumbled a few times. I stuck with it and used it as much as I could. I knew I could lean on it to meet a weight loss goal, but I never thought it would allow me to reshape my entire life. I’m so much more positive, slightly richer (no senseless food expenditures), and way more responsible. I no longer live to eat. Here’s the best part – I still take time to ENJOY GOOD FOOD. I’m not going to come off Soylent for frozen pizza since I’ve had it about 1,300,543,000 times in my life before, but I will absolutely take time to order a beautiful piece of grilled salmon with fresh veggies that snap when you crunch through them, along with red potatoes or something akin to that. I try to make good choices and when I eat food, I make sure I’m doing it to engage all my senses. I do it for the experience — not to just hide from everything, binging on junk food.

lewis0451 wants to be the Soylent spokesman, like Jared from Subway, but “without all the creeper stuff.”

The fact that he even mentions Jared means he’s going to need some serious marketing training before Soylent signs him on. Heh.

[Soylent: Can I be your Jared? (without all the creeper stuff). I’m the weight loss dude w/ the logo fail. I don’t feel like re-uploading. / lewis0451 /]

I tried Soylent for a full day in the summer. I wrote about the experience on Light Reading. [I Ate Soylent for a Day: ‘Food’ Special / Mitch Wagner / Light Reading]

I liked it enough to think that I might want to use it for occasional food-on-the-go and ordered a one-week supply – which is now, alas, sitting in the pantry with the clock ticking toward its expiration date.

I’ve had better luck with MealSquares, which also advertises itself as everything you need to eat healthy, in one package. But unlike Soylent, MealSquares is actual food. It’s a dense, square muffin. To eat it, you need to take small bites, and chew thoroughly.  I find it tasty and satisfying, though it’s very rich and dry. Julie dislikes it.

I often carry a MealSquare or two in my bag when I’m out and about.

I’m going in for a colonoscopy March 30 (nothing wrong, just a routine, baseline check), and might subsist on Soylent for a week prior to the test, rather than go through the confusing and complicated dietary restrictions. MealSquares too, if they’re allowed.

And yes the name comes from the movie. But the manufacturers say real-world Soylent doesn’t have people in it. Which is exactly what they said in the movie!

How to keep your dog cool in hot weather

This week I caved in to common sense and resumed taking Minnie out for our long, brisk walk first thing in the morning, while it’s still cool. I had been going in midday, but it’s too blamed hot then, and it’s going to get hotter through September.

Added bonus: It started to rain slightly this morning just as we were getting home, and now I’m sitting on the deck with Minnie, reading and drinking tea and enjoying the cool breeze, rather than wondering whether the rain is going to let up.

This guide is for runners. I found it useful for our long, brisk walks.

Dealing with warm weather