Friday, April 29, 2016

Marijuana and Early Mortality

Swedish male military conscripts who had used pot 50 times or more before the age of 18 were 40% more likely than their abstemious peers to be dead by age 60. Legalize it if you want, but don't call it "safe."

American Journal of Psychiatry

Cannabis, Psychosis, and Mortality: A Cohort Study of 50,373 Swedish Men
, M.D., Ph.D., , Ph.D., , M.D., Ph.D., , M.D., Ph.D., , M.D., Ph.D.

The authors assessed 1) the overall risk of death among cannabis users compared with nonusers and the extent to which psychosis affects excess mortality; 2) mortality among persons with psychotic disorders and the extent to which cannabis use affects excess mortality; and 3) the interaction effect of cannabis use and diagnosis of psychotic disorders on mortality.

This was a longitudinal study of 50,373 Swedish male military conscripts (ages 18–19) who were followed in the National Cause of Death Register up to around age 60. Cox proportional hazard modeling was used to assess risk of death in relation to baseline cannabis use and diagnosis of psychotic disorders.

Subjects with a baseline history of heavy cannabis use had a significantly higher risk of death (hazard ratio=1.4, 95% CI=1.1, 1.8) than those without such a history. The authors found an excess mortality among subjects with psychotic disorders, but the level did not differ between those with a history of cannabis use (ever users: hazard ratio=3.8, 95% CI=2.8, 5.0; heavy users: hazard ratio=3.8, 95% CI=2.6, 6.2) and those without such a history (hazard ratio=3.7, 95% CI=3.1, 44). No interaction was observed between cannabis use and diagnosis of psychotic disorders with regard to mortality.

The results suggest that individuals with an early history of heavy use of cannabis are at a higher risk of death than those with a history of no use of cannabis. Although the authors adjusted for several confounders at baseline, the results should be interpreted with caution because of a lack of information on confounders in the period after conscription.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Racial Discrimination and the Death Penalty

New Yorker
"In 1972, the Supreme Court struck down capital punishment, in Furman v. Georgia, leading to a four-year moratorium on the penalty in the United States, thanks to a winning strategy devised by the Inc. Fund lawyers. They argued that, despite declining public support for the death penalty, states were keeping it so that they could impose it on marginal groups, including the poor and the powerless as well as blacks.
Five years later, in Coker v. Georgia, the Court decided that “the sentence of death for the crime of rape is grossly disproportionate and excessive punishment, and is therefore forbidden by the Eighth Amendment as cruel and unusual punishment.” The Inc. Fund was lead counsel. (The Court struck down capital punishment for rape of adult women in that case. In 2008, it ruled that capital punishment for child rape is unconstitutional.) The opinion for the Court did not mention race or racial discrimination, even though, of the four hundred and fifty-five men executed for rape between 1930 and 1967, four hundred and five were black, and almost all had been convicted of raping white women. It also took no notice of a brief by Ruth Bader Ginsburg—filed on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization for Women Legal Defense and Education Fund, and other groups—arguing that punishing rape with death was tied to Southern traditions that “valued white women according to their purity and chastity and assigned them exclusively to white men.” The Court avoided addressing the racial disparity in capital rape cases, and it avoided addressing the racial disparity in capital cases in general. That did not make the problem of racial discrimination go away."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dorothy Parker and Suicide

She said of Scott Fitzgerald at his funeral, "The poor son-of-a-bitch" (i.e., dying of drink at age 44). It took her many more years to drink herself to death but she finally managed it.

NY Books

"“Big Blonde” reveals the desperate life of a fading party girl who’s run out of steam and tries, and fails, to kill herself. It’s convincing in its verisimilitude and deployment of pathos, but finally it comes across as a masterly performance rather than a reverberant vision of life. (Compare it to Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.) It’s also Parker dealing with her own failed suicide attempts—slashed wrists, Veronal (Big Blonde’s drug of choice). Suicide was a constant reality for her. The novel she began was to be called Sonnets in Suicide. One of her most famous poems, “Résumé,” summed things up:
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Death and suicide are never far from her thoughts—she titled her collections Enough Rope, Sunset Gun, Death and Taxes, and Not So Deep as a Well, the first of them a major best seller in 1926, confirming her fame."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Eugenics alive and well in sperm bank selections

Sorry but selecting a sperm donor for a 160 IQ and an absence of schizophrenia and criminal history is eugenics.

"When Angela Collins and her partner wanted to have a child, they reached out to a sperm bank in Georgia to look for potential donors. They thought they had found the perfect match in Donor 9623, described as a man with an I.Q. of 160 who was healthy and working toward his Ph.D.
But in 2014, about seven years after Ms. Collins gave birth to their son, she and her partner, Elizabeth Hanson, made an upsetting discovery after learning the man’s identity through a donor sibling group. The donor had a history of mental illness and a criminal record, and had exaggerated his educational accomplishments, they say.
“It was like a lead ball went to the bottom of our stomach for both my partner and I,” Ms. Collins said in a radio interview last week with “As It Happens” on the Canadian network CBC.
She added, “We know nobody is perfect, but we didn’t sign up to choose knowingly that our donor had schizophrenia.”
Ms. Collins and Ms. Hanson, who live in Port Hope, Ontario, about 70 miles east of Toronto, were among three families who filed lawsuits in Ontario Superior Court this month accusing the sperm bank, Xytex Corp., in Augusta, Ga., of misleading them about the donor. The suit says the company failed to describe him accurately or disclose that he had a mental illness and a criminal record.
The three lawsuits are the first in an expanding group of cases that go to the heart of privacy and health issues as more would-be parents — many of them single or in same-sex partnerships — seek donors to help them conceive, said Nancy Hersh, a lawyer in San Francisco who is representing Ms. Collins and the other families.
“This is a huge problem,” Ms. Hersh said in a telephone interview. “Lots of people will avail themselves of sperm banks, and it is important that the public will be educated about the risks. It is a public health issue.”
Ms. Hersh said at least a dozen other American, Canadian and British families were planning lawsuits related to Donor 9623. The 15 families she represents have conceived 23 children using the donor’s sperm, all with “a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia, which nobody knew at the time they purchased his sperm.”"

Monday, April 25, 2016

Why is the U.S. Suicide Rate Rising?

"WASHINGTON — Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s.
The suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent over the period of the study, while it rose by 43 percent for men in that age range, the sharpest increase for males of any age. The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the study on Friday.
The increases were so widespread that they lifted the nation’s suicide rate to 13 per 100,000 people, the highest since 1986. The rate rose by 2 percent a year starting in 2006, double the annual rise in the earlier period of the study. In all, 42,773 people died from suicide in 2014, compared with 29,199 in 1999.
...The data analysis provided fresh evidence of suffering among white Americans. Recent research has highlighted the plight of less educated whites, showing surges in deaths from drug overdoses, suicides, liver disease and alcohol poisoning, particularly among those with a high school education or less. The new report did not break down suicide rates by education, but researchers who reviewed the analysis said the patterns in age and race were consistent with that recent research and painted a picture of desperation for many in American society."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Obit -- Gilbert Highet (1963)

What shall we say about him in the papers?
Stepped out into the path of a speeding car
No. Not such a stupid end for a man of mind.
In Claremont Hospital after a long illness
Among his scholarly works the most important
He had continued yes yes yes no. No.
Suddenly, by a stroke, after a class
No. Not that either, although possible.
Yesterday on the third floor of the library
Among the immortals speaking silent Greek
That would be peaceful, yet perhaps too pat.
But no, the air is wrong, the place is wrong:
Where are the heights, the trees, the wind, the birds?
Write in the notice: on the slopes of—what?
Some insignificant hill, it doesn’t matter,
But climbing, with the wind around him and
The sky above and his remembering head
Quite full of poetry and music, climbing
Together with his one true friend and love
Up through the stalwart trees to timberline—
After a life of effort, rest and sleep.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Hey Ya! -- Postmodern Jukebox, ft. Sara Niemietz

One, two, three!
My baby don't mess around
Because she loves me so
This I know fo sho!

But does she really wanna
But can't stand to see me walk out the door
Don't try to fight the feeling
Because the thought alone is killin' me right now
Thank God for Mom and Dad
For sticking to together
Like we don't know how

Hey ya! Hey ya!
Hey ya! Hey ya!
Hey ya! Hey ya!
Hey ya! Hey ya!

You think you've got it
Oh, you think you've got it
But got it just don't get it when there's nothin' at all
We get together
Oh, we get together
But separate's always better when there's feelings involved
Know what they say -its:
Nothing lasts forever!
Then what makes it, then what makes it
Then what makes it, then what makes it
Then what makes love the exception?
So why, oh, why, oh
Why, oh, why, oh, why, oh
Are we still in denial when we know we're not happy here