Rise in ‘despair deaths’ of middle-class, middle-age whites in the US

The work of the research team of Anne Case and Angus Denton that documented the rise in the number of deaths of middle-class white people first came to attention in 2015 with their paper that said in its abstract:

This paper documents a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround. The midlife mortality reversal was confined to white non-Hispanics; black non-Hispanics and Hispanics at midlife, and those aged 65 and above in every racial and ethnic group, continued to see mortality rates fall. This increase for whites was largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis. Although all education groups saw increases in mortality from suicide and poisonings, and an overall increase in external cause mortality, those with less education saw the most marked increases. Rising midlife mortality rates of white non-Hispanics were paralleled by increases in midlife morbidity. Self-reported declines in health, mental health, and ability to conduct activities of daily living, and increases in chronic pain and inability to work, as well as clinically measured deteriorations in liver function, all point to growing distress in this population. We comment on potential economic causes and consequences of this deterioration.

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Delusions of grandeur by world leaders

Take a look at what the Saudi Arabian king took along with him when he made a trip to Indonesia.

According to reports in the Indonesian press, the Saudi royal is expected to bring 459 metric tons (506 U.S. tons) of cargo with him on his trip — including two Mercedes-Benz S600 limousines and two electric elevators.

Adji Gunawan of the airfreight company PT Jasa Angkasa Semesta (JAS) told the Antara news agency that his company was appointed to handle the cargo, which has already arrived in the country. Adji said his company was employing a total of 572 workers to deal with the Saudi king’s luggage.

The Jakarta Post reported that the Saudi group will total about 1,500 people, including 10 ministers, 25 princes and at least 100 security personnel.

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The paperfuge alternative to the centrifuge

The centrifuge is a vital tool in medical diagnostics because it enables laboratories to separate different components that are mixed in a sample. It works by spinning the sample around at very high rotational frequencies and the differential centrifugal forces on the different masses results in the separation. But centrifuges are bulky and expensive and require electricity to operate and that makes them not easily available to medical personnel in remote areas.
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Is Bill Maher on the road to becoming the next Dennis Miller?

Bill Maher presents a problem for progressives. On the one hand, many of his stances are progressive and he does make biting and witty critiques of Donald Trump and the Republicans. He does have good writers on his show that makes him funny despite his annoying smug, smirking expression. On the other, there have been several occasions where one recoils at the things he says and I know that some of this blog’s readers refuse to click on any link that features segments from his show and I can understand why, even though I try to only post those that I think are worthwhile.
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Common health care myths and who believes them

I was interested in this article about the results of a survey on the prevalence of various health care myths in the general public. In addition to listing seven of the most common misconceptions, Larry Schwartz also summarized the findings on where people get their information and the likelihood of believing the misconceptions based on ethnicity, education, and profession.
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Trump is the biggest loser

It is astonishing the number of people within the White House who seem to rush to their phones to talk with reporters and leak information. Based on these leaks, there has been no shortage of explanations for the Trump-Ryan health care debacle. Part of the blame for the failure lay in the fact that the bill was hastily thrown together in just a month or so with little or no discussion in the various committees that had roles to play and no clear vision of what its goal was other than for the Republican leadership to claim that they had “repealed and replaced” Obamacare. With health care being such a complex subject, such a slapdash effort was doomed to produce a patchwork bill full of holes.
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Film review: A Man Called Ove (2016)

This Swedish comedy was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign film though it did not win. It tells the story of Ove, a 59-year old man who lives in a housing complex. He is the type that we are all familiar with, someone who is grouchy and knows all the rules governing the immediate community and takes it upon himself to vigorously police the place to make sure everyone else is following the rules and upbraiding them when they do not. He is generally regarded as a pain, the one redeeming feature being that he is very handy at fixing things.
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I did not see that coming

Well, that was a surprise. I did not expect to see the Trumpcare bill crash and burn as it did yesterday when the speaker Paul Ryan pulled it from the floor of House of Representatives shortly before the scheduled vote because he did not have the votes to pass it and wanted to avoid an embarrassing defeat, although the effective defeat is being seen as equally devastating. I thought that too many factors were in favor of some version of it passing.
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