Jack Harrison

  1. Swine flu fears fade, but the impact remains

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    Swine flu fears fade, but the impact remains

    Last week, I told you that the media was "pigging out" on the Swine Flu pandemic story, and predicted that this particular pig couldn't deliver the bacon. Naturally, my prediction that this flu scare was all hype was spot on. And now the media outlets that were so gleefully stoking your fears are already working to allay them.

    And remember: this is less than one week after some news stories compared this "outbreak" of Swine Flu to the calamitous 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic which killed an estimated 100 million people worldwide.

    But don't think that this is case of a case of "no harm, no foul" by the media. There have been consequences to this useless fire drill. In the scant few days since the media began over-sensationalizing this pint-sized pandemic, the panic spread across the globe.

    The virus's porcine name led some to believe (wrongly) that pigs were spreading a killer disease. In Egypt, as many as 400,000 pigs were needlessly put to death as a preventative measure; the Baghdad Zoo killed 10 wild boars because of flu fears … as if pigs don't already get enough of a raw deal in Islamic countries.

    China, that paragon of food and health safety, banned imports of pork from Mexico, as well as parts of Canada and the U.S. - in spite of the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) has continually denied that there's any evidence that pork consumption could actually spread the disease.

    It's not just China saying "no" to the other white meat: the disease's name alone has hammered U.S. pork producers as the uninformed (and let's face it: that's most people) have dropped pork from their diet entirely. In the current economy, this is a devastating blow to a significant U.S. industry. In spite of the fact that the virus was never even found in American hogs, the media panic has led to a decline in profits.

    The impact on pork producers actually prompted the government to try and "re-brand" the virus as the "H1N1 virus" rather than "Swine Flu." But like most government efforts, this has met limited success.

    I'm happy that I was right that this "pandemic" was total nonsense. But the media's propensity to so quickly cry wolf before the facts are in makes you wonder what would happen in a real global health crisis. Let's hope we never find out.

    Swine flu: What not to do

    Don't feel bad if you got sucked in by the Swine Flu mania. Even that dullard of a vice president Joe Biden was whipping people into a frenzy last week by baselessly proclaiming to the Today Show's Matt Lauer, "I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting [people] ride the subway."

    How's that for change you can believe in?

    So while the world takes a deep breath, here are some tips you might want to keep in mind until all this flu business blows over.

    1) Go ahead and have that pork chop. In spite of its name, "swine" flu is being spread from person-to-person, not person-to-pig. Eating bacon, ham, hot dogs or any other pork product WILL NOT give you swine flu.

    2) Don't waste your time or a doctor's time by going to the emergency room. In a situation like this, everyone who sneezes is likely to head straight for the hospital. It overloads the healthcare system and you might catch something from people who are actually sick. Don't ask for antivirals like Tamiflu or Relenza to create your own stash of antibiotics.

    3) Don't panic. Not only will it lead to needless stress … but it's just what the media wants you to do.

  2. Are social media sites true addictions?

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    Are social media sites true addictions?

    These days the term "addiction" is tossed about so casually, it sometimes feels as though people don't believe they're complete unless they're addicted to something. When I was coming up through the medical ranks, addiction meant serious physical or chemical dependency - usually on some form of alcohol or drugs. But the term has since been broadened - and stretched thin, in my opinion - to include all manner of behaviors that don't really qualify as addictions.

    Case in point: the "addiction" to the wildly narcissistic social networking sites and media that are now sweeping the nation. I've recently seen experts weighing in on the "signs" of these addictions to sites like Facebook.

    I'm here to tell you that while it's clearly possible for compulsive behaviors to spring up with regard to these types of sites, calling it an "addiction" is taking things too far.

    What's the difference between a chemical addiction and an "addiction" to Facebook? It's this: People who have abused their bodies with drugs or alcohol often need serious medical attention to wean their systems off of these substances. People who have squandered their time reacquainting themselves with people they knew for 10 minutes when they were eight years old just need to get a life.

    I hate to be that glib about it, and I'm sure many of you will accuse me of being a crusty old timer who can't adapt to change … and maybe you're not off. But I find it personally offensive that people are forever seeking nonexistent medical excuses for their lack of judgment and bad behavior. How about some personal accountability?

    Saying that you're addicted to Facebook is like saying a man is "addicted" to TV watching during the NFL playoffs. Facebook is a choice… an enjoyable distraction. And like many enjoyable distractions, some people just take it too far.

    There's been no official talk of naming overuse of Facebook as an actual addiction … but don't be surprised if it happens some day soon.

  3. Prominent docs call for end to Big Pharma funding

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    A group of eminent physicians are demanding that medical associations should decline offers of pharmaceutical industry funding. And it's about time.
  4. Those dopes Medical marijuana salesman railroaded by feds

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    When it comes to medical marijuana, the American legal system can't seem to get it straight.
  5. New book exposes Big Pharma's twisted statistics

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    You've probably heard the old Mark Twain saying that there are lies, damned lies and statistics. Well, according to a new book, there's plenty of lying going on when Big Pharma presents its statistics.
  6. Congress gets ready to burn smokers with latest bill

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    The way things are going, it won't be long until cigarettes are banished from the American landscape forever.
  7. Media pigs misinforming public about so-called "epidemic"

    Those filthy swine… The swine flu "epidemic" is only a few days old, and Big Pharma is already plotting to make a fortune.
  8. California tree huggers want to take away your television

    According to a report in the Orange County Register, the California Energy Commission (CEC) is considering banning any big-screen TV sets that don't meet new - and amazingly arbitrary and draconian - energy efficiency standards.
  9. Benefits of brown fat

    Stop the presses! Doctors are finally admitting that there is actually a kind of fat that doesn't need to be ruthlessly eradicated by diet, exercise, or a long list of pharmaceutical products.
  10. Scientists uniting to attack FDA inaction on BPA

    The scientific community has finally taken a stand against BPA and called the FDA on the carpet for the federal agency's repeated claims that BPA is safe.

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