Why Omicron Might Stick Around – The New York Times

Where is Pi?

Last year, the World Health Organization began assigning Greek letters to worrying new variants of the coronavirus. The organization started with Alpha and swiftly worked its way through the Greek alphabet in the months that followed. When Omicron arrived in November, it was the 13th named variant in less than a year.

But 10 months have passed since Omicron’s debut, and the next letter in line, Pi, has yet to arrive.

Danielle Car | Is America Really in a Mental Health Crisis? – The New York Times

DL: Excellent article, though slow to start. It ends well:

“. . . . Solving the mental health crisis, then, will require fighting for people to have secure access to infrastructure that buffers them from chronic stress: housing, food security, education, child care, job security, the right to organize for more humane workplaces and substantive action on the imminent climate apocalypse.

A fight for mental health waged only on the terms of access to psychiatric care does not only risk bolstering justifications for profiteering invoked by start-ups eager to capitalize on the widespread effects of grief, anxiety and despair. It also risks pathologizing the very emotions we are going to need to harness for their political power if we are going to win solutions.:  -30-

Zeynep Tufekci | There’s Terrific News About the New Covid Boosters, but Few Are Hearing It – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Zeynep Tufekci’s Latest:  Dive deep into the internet, technology, politics and society with Zeynep Tufekci’s latest column as soon as it’s published. Get it sent to your inbox.

This column has been updated.

“For the first time, the United States is rolling out Covid vaccines updated to match variants that are currently dominant, as well as the original strain. This bivalent character will provide a better response not just to the most threatening variants today but probably to future variants too, because when the immune system faces different versions of the same virus it generates broader protections overall.

This is terrific news, and there’s more. Not only will a booster with the new vaccines decrease the likelihood of infection and severe illness, and help reduce transmission of the virus; it could also decrease the likelihood of developing long Covid.

The bad news? The boosters are getting so little fanfare, and so much unfounded skepticism, that too few people might get them, and lots of people who need not get sick, suffer or die will get sick, suffer and die.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that a national survey found that 72 percent of respondents said they were likely to receive an updated booster. But to actually get them vaccinated requires making the boosters easily accessible and making sure people know about their benefits.”

Is Seltzer Water Just as Healthy as Flat Water? – The New York Times

“…. “If you are using fluoridated water for brushing your teeth, cooking and some of your hydration, you can also include sparkling water in your diet,” Ms. Linge said. And if you use tap water to make your own carbonated water at home, then your bubbly water already has fluoride in it.

But keep in mind that carbonated water is more acidic in our mouths than flat water.

Bubbly water contains carbon dioxide, which is converted to carbonic acid when it mingles with saliva, lowering the pH level of your mouth. The pH scale indicates whether a solution is more acidic (lower pH) or alkaline (higher pH). Drinks with a lower pH can be erosive to teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities; however, unsweetened carbonated water is not nearly as erosive as soda or fruit juice, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Some carbonated water brands include ingredients like citric acid for taste, which can raise the acidity level. Adding your own slices of lemon or lime would have a similar effect. And because the ingredient list will often say “natural flavor,” it is hard to know exactly what was added.”

Opinion | Endemic Covid-19 Looks Pretty Brutal – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“It may surprise you to learn, given the mood of the country — and indeed the world — about the pandemic that probably half of all Covid infections have happened this calendar year — and it’s only July. By December, the figure could be 80 percent or more. The gap between cases and severe outcomes is bigger than it has ever been, with the fraction of infections one-tenth that of the pandemic’s early stages. But simply in terms of infection, this year towers over each of the previous two.”

Sarah Milov | Removing Nicotine From Cigarettes Would Spell a Historic Shift in Tobacco Regulation – The New York Times

Dr. Milov is an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia and the author of “The Cigarette: A Political History.

“The Food and Drug Administration recently proposed lowering the nicotine content in cigarettes to less addictive levels. If adopted, this regulation would finally test one of the tobacco industry’s favorite claims: that smoking is a choice. Portraying smoking as a willful, personal decision has long allowed tobacco companies to promote cigarettes even while acknowledging their deadly risks. But the paradigm of individual choice has also guided cigarette regulation, ironically strengthening the industry’s key talking point — until now.

Nicotine is the addictive element in a cigarette. By reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes, federal regulations will, for the first time, address the key driver of cigarette consumption, which claims 480,000 American lives each year. Nicotine’s effects are particularly acute in adolescence, which is when most smokers start.

Tobacco companies have long understood that physiological dependence on nicotine — or what executives preferred to call nicotine satisfaction — was central to their business. Since the 1960s, the tobacco industry has manipulated ammonia levels in cigarettes to enhance nicotine’s effects. As one cigarette company research director commented in 1954, “It’s fortunate for us that cigarettes are a habit they can’t break.” “

Teens Are Getting Sick From Products With High THC Levels – The New York Times

“It didn’t smell, which made it easy to hide from her parents. And it was convenient — just press a button and inhale. After the second or third try, she was hooked.

“It was insane. Insane euphoria,” said Elysse, now 18, whose last name is being withheld to protect her privacy. “Everything was moving slowly. I got super hungry. Everything was hilarious.”

But the euphoria eventually morphed into something more disturbing. Sometimes the marijuana would make Elysse feel more anxious, or sad. Another time she passed out in the shower, only to wake up half an hour later.

This was not your average weed. The oil and waxes she bought from dealers were typically about 90 percent THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. But because these products were derived from cannabis, and nearly everyone she knew was using them, she assumed they were relatively safe. She began vaping multiple times per day. Her parents didn’t find out until about one year later, in 2019.”

Excellent article with good comments, both pro and con THC use and abuse.

Here is a comment that stood out for me.

Alex
Springfield3h ago

It’s the number one cause of reversible erectile dysfunction and male infertility for men under 30 at my urology office. Large increase in patients since state where I practice legalized. Similar to alcohol- a little might promote the mood, a lot – not so much. A generation of guinea pigs having to learn moderation is key to life.

3 Replies110 Recommended

Black Death: A Clue to Where the Plague Originated – The New York Times

“Where and when did the Black Death originate? The question has been asked for centuries and led to heated debate among historians.

Now, a group of researchers reports that it has found the answer in the pulp of teeth from people buried in the 14th century.

Based on their analysis of the preserved genetic material, the researchers report that the Black Death arrived in 1338 or 1339 near Issyk-Kul, a lake in a mountainous area just west of China in what is now Kyrgyzstan. The plague first infected people in a small, nearby settlement of traders eight years before it devastated Eurasia, killing 60 percent of its victims.”

Coffee Drinking Linked to Lower Risk of Dying, New Study Finds – The New York Times

“That morning cup of coffee may be linked to a lower risk of dying, researchers from a study published Monday in The Annals of Internal Medicine concluded. Those who drank 1.5 to 3.5 cups of coffee per day, even with a teaspoon of sugar, were up to 30 percent less likely to die during the study period than those who didn’t drink coffee. Those who drank unsweetened coffee were 16 to 21 percent less likely to die during the study period, with those drinking about three cups per day having the lowest risk of death when compared with noncoffee drinkers.

Researchers analyzed coffee consumption data collected from the U.K. Biobank, a large medical database with health information from people across Britain. They analyzed demographic, lifestyle and dietary information collected from more than 170,000 people between the ages of 37 and 73 over a median follow-up period of seven years. The mortality risk remained lower for people who drank both decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee. The data was inconclusive for those who drank coffee with artificial sweeteners.

That morning cup of coffee may be linked to a lower risk of dying, researchers from a study published Monday in The Annals of Internal Medicine concluded. Those who drank 1.5 to 3.5 cups of coffee per day, even with a teaspoon of sugar, were up to 30 percent less likely to die during the study period than those who didn’t drink coffee. Those who drank unsweetened coffee were 16 to 21 percent less likely to die during the study period, with those drinking about three cups per day having the lowest risk of death when compared with noncoffee drinkers.

Researchers analyzed coffee consumption data collected from the U.K. Biobank, a large medical database with health information from people across Britain. They analyzed demographic, lifestyle and dietary information collected from more than 170,000 people between the ages of 37 and 73 over a median follow-up period of seven years. The mortality risk remained lower for people who drank both decaffeinated and caffeinated coffee. The data was inconclusive for those who drank coffee with artificial sweeteners.”

Another example of an excellent article in the NYT, where the comments were still better than the article itself.

Jay Moskovitz
Portland, OregonJune 1

@Brian Interesting. When my kids were still living with me, THEIR risk of death was extremely high before my first cup of coffee.

In Reply to Brian468 Recommended

David commented June 1

David
CaliforniaJune 1

As I recall, the risk of dying is 100%.

5 Replies313 Recommended

M.F. commented June 1

M.F.

Let’s face it: coffee not only adds more days to your life, it also adds more life to your days! Hail coffee, o, how I love thee!

1 Reply306 Recommended

Brian commented June 1

Brian
QueensJune 1

Makes sense, anecdotally/informally. Every morning, I am convinced my risk of death is extremely high prior to my first cup of coffee.

4 Replies239 Recommended