Excessive heat warning
There's an excessive heat warning where I live (it's summer), and all the recommendations are things that I don't think really need to be stated.  "Drink fluids, stay out of the sun, wear lightweight clothes."  Like, yeah those are all good ideas.  But do we really need Official Advice&tm; about how to not get too hot?  Related:  Unnecessary advice. #health

Common symptoms
I feel like too many illnesses have the same symptoms.  If you have a runny nose, sore throat, headache, cough, sinus pressure, and/or a fever, you could have:  (a) the common cold, (b) COVID, (c) allergies, or (d) cancer.  The human body is like, "I don't know what to do about this, so I'm just gonna produce some mucus." #health

Virus scare
I really enjoy (subtext: sarcasm) how, during the time of coronavirus, every little ailment you get, from a runny nose to sinus congestion to a cough to a fever, could potentially be serious.  I sort of miss the good old days when people got sick and continued on with their normal lives. #health

Coronavirus names
I meant to write this like 7 months ago, but oh well:  I like how people talk and write about the coronavirus with superfluous names, as if we didn't know what they were talking about.  "The novel coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID-19..."  Like, yeah we get it.  The virus. #health

Coronavirus thoughts
A few observations regarding the coronavirus outbreak and ongoing quarantine:
  1. I could be wrong, but I think the main consideration in slowing the spread (i.e. flattening the curve) is simply (a) hospital beds and (b) ventilators.  People will die simply because there aren't enough medical supplies to go around, which is stupid but true.  It's a logistics problem that simply can't be solved.
  2. How will small businesses survive even a week without income?  Even if the government offers some sort of assistance, I can't imagine it'll be enough, or that there will be enough to go around.
  3. Seeing store shelves empty of something makes you sort of panic and think you've missed the boat.  It's not hard to see how mass panics start.
  4. I've never had a stronger desire to touch my face than when I was walking around a store around other suspicious-looking people.
  5. It'll be interesting to see how many jobs really require physical presence, after everyone has been working remotely for weeks or months.
  6. It was surprising how quickly people started taking it seriously.  Less than a week ago, it was still somewhat a fringe pandemic in the eyes of the average American.
  7. The projections are looking pretty grim in terms of timeline and mortality (Twitter thread).
  8. It's hard to convince people who will likely suffer no ill effects that quarantining and social distancing benefits other people more than it benefits them.  Those dumb kids on spring break in Florida could be any one of us 20, 30, or 40 years ago.
  9. It'll be interesting to see the long-term effects of this in terms of policy (more hospitals, beds, better emergency preparedness) and society (no more handshakes or hugging, only bowing from now on).
  10. If this all works out ok, it'll feel like a huge waste of time and energy and panic.

Coronavirus and the media
I keep hearing that the media is blowing the coronavirus out of proportion and causing unnecessary hysteria to further their financial goals.  That sounds about right, except for the fact that the media didn't impose a quarantine of 11 million people in China.  The Chinese government did.  Same with Italy.  Also, the media didn't impose corporate travel restrictions or cancel conferences or reduce attendance at live sporting events.  Companies did all that, as a result of their internal risk management strategies which all oddly seem to line up with each other.  It's almost as if everyone agrees this is a serious issue that requires taking drastic steps.  And it's almost like people have been conditioned to think the media is the enemy.  I can't imagine why. #health

Surgery ad
There's a spinal surgery billboard on a major road near my house, and I have a few thoughts: 
  1. I don't live in or near a population center, and spinal surgery is pretty damn specific, so how many people who are in the market for spinal surgery are really seeing this?
  2. Who is the target audience here?  It's not like people see this on their commute and think "ya know what, I could use some spinal surgery".  Non-experts don't typically provide advice or recommendations on surgery, especially SPINAL surgery.
  3. Even if a person had a back problem and went to a doctor who recommended spinal surgery, we live in the United States healthcare system, which means there's a whole mess of complications regarding where you can get care and who can provide it.  There's almost zero chance a prospective patient will be able to choose to go to this spinal surgery center.
In conclusion, I'd prefer to get my spinal surgery from someone who spends their advertising dollars a little less frivolously. #health

Baby hands
One piece of advice I would give to every person on the planet is this:  Don't touch a baby's hands.  There's this weird thing that happens when people meet a baby for the first time, and I don't know if it's an American thing or if it's universal.  But people have this innate desire to shake the baby's hand like they would greet a fellow adult.  Or sometimes they just want to grab the hand and give it a little squeeze because baby hands are cute. 

Please for the love of Bob don't do this.  Babies put their hands in their mouths.  Like a lot.  And by touching their hands, you're introducing germs, which will inevitably get into their mouths and into their bodies.  Instead, touch their feet, or their elbows, or the top of their heads.  I don't know much about babies, but when I was introduced to one of my friends' newborns several years ago, I didn't know what to do so I palmed its head like a basketball.  This felt stupid at the time, but in hindsight it was one of the smartest things I could've done. #health

Drug legality counterpoint
I've felt for a while now that all drugs should be legal, not because I want to use them all, but for other reasons.  Most rebuttals to this involve the standard "they're addictive" or "they're dangerous", which I really don't find compelling in a country with cigarettes and more guns than people. 

However, a friend presented a compelling counter-argument, largely summarized as "people are stupid":  If people were able to get all kinds of drugs legally, they would accidentally leave them out on their kitchen counter because they're stupid.  And kids would find them and ingest them, whether intentionally or not.  This already happens when kids eat their parents' pot brownies.  But imagine how much worse of a situation it would be if it was an actually harmful drug, like heroin or meth.  Alcohol doesn't quite suffer from this problem because the human body sort of has an alcohol overdose prevention technique built-in, i.e. vomiting.  But from my limited understanding, something like meth immediately and irreparably changes your life in a very negative way.  Legally available drugs might put children's lives at risk because of how stupid people are. #health

Subjective medicine
I was talking to my doctor about treatment options for an ailment, and I said I wanted to approach it scientifically.  I wanted to take some sort of measurement before treatment, then a measurement after treatment to quantify the effect, instead of relying on how I feel before and after, which is subjective.  He said something that sort of blew my mind:  It might be better to measure the outcome subjectively if the outcome is subjective in nature.  In other words, if I could measure some quantity before and after and they showed no difference yet I felt better, the treatment is a success despite the measurement being inconclusive.  I feel like a more rigorous response would be that the process needs a better metric, but that's not the point.  I thought his response was pretty insightful coming from a profession that often operates from a sort of guess-and-check framework. #health

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