An old quote

This quote in the 1998 Victor R. Fuchs “Who Shall Live? Health, Economics, and Social Choice” struck me as particularly fun, considering the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The book was first published in 1975 so I’m not sure exactly when this language was last updated. Nonetheless, it’s fun!

One of the bloodiest battles over national health insurance concerns the manner in which the plan or plans should be administered. At one extreme is the proposal for a single insurance fund administered by the government. At the other extreme is the argument that universal coverage could be achieved by requiring every individual (or his employer) to obtain coverage from a private insurance company, with the government’s role limited to setting minimum standards and paying premiums for the poor. [Emphasis mine.]

Reading old texts is always fun.


Top 10 Ways To Enjoy Summer as an Adult

Today is my last day of summer vacation. Monday, is my first day of a five year PhD program. This summer I had the privilege of 3 months of funemployment. I’m so incredibly grateful for this opportunity and wish that everyone can have this chance to take time for yourself between jobs.  It took a significant amount of planning and budgeting but I found some relatively inexpensive ways to make this summer the best summer of my life. I suspect that some other adult will have this opportunity of a free summer in the future and here are my recommendations based on personal experience.

10. Read for fun

Probably the single activity that I spent my time doing this summer was reading. I read some great books (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour BookstoreBeautiful RuinsThe Goldfinch) and some books that I didn’t enjoy (The Case of the Man Who Died LaughingWhite Teeth). I’ve always been in love with reading, but this summer I realized that there are some books that just aren’t that great. I try to set aside at least 30 minutes a day for fun reading. I have had a rule that I had to finish every book I read, but I’ve learned that it’s ok to not finish a book that you don’t like. The library lets you return books early and try new ones— for free!

9. Learn to code

At one point this summer I wanted to develop an app.  I looked into free online classes explaining Ruby. I watch them. I tried it. I’m glad I don’t code for a living. I’m sure it’s a skill that will be handy at some point, but it was frustrating. I recommend this only if you want a challenge.

8. Get rid of things

Since I was moving, I decided to get rid of about half of my personal belongings. After going through my things several times, I don’t know why I didn’t do this annually. It got easier to figure out what mattered to me and what I was holding on to, just to hold on to. Such a fun adult activity!

7. Read for work

At work sometimes reports or other long articles would pop up when I was just too busy to read them. Typically, I would bookmark them and try to read them when “I had time.”  I took this summer to read those articles dating back to 2006. I also read a number of books related to health policy. It was great. I remembered why I love working and made me so excited to start again.

6. Find a place you love and go there

I love coffee shops. This summer I decided to go to all of the coffee shops in DC.  It was great to try places that I’ve never been before and revisit old memories and places from years past that I hadn’t been to in a while. I’ll miss living in DC and this was a great way to give it a final tour. I’ll post more on the data I collected at coffee shops in the near future.

5. Sleep

For as long as I can remember, I sleep about 5-6 hours a night. This summer I attempted to get as close to 8-9 hours a night. I also napped occasionally when I could. WOW. Sleep is great.

4. Fall in love with working out

Sometimes, working out can be a chore and I’ve occasionally forgotten what having fun while working out can be like.  This summer I went back to my childhood love of swimming and easily fell into doing laps for hours. The DC public pool system is one of the greatest uses of tax dollars in the city.

3. Travel to an area out of your comfort zone

As a vegetarian that doesn’t speak Spanish, Argentina was not on the top of my list of places to visit. But I’m so glad that I did. I plan to make the most of my standard 10 year visa to this beautiful country and hope to discover more of the culture and natural wonder that is Argentina. Plus, the US dollar is strong and you can eat WONDERFULLY for very little money.

2.  See America

Sure, America is the greatest country on Earth.  But how much of it have most Americans seen? I certainly hadn’t seen enough of it.

This summer, I went to 20 states and a ton of national parks. I did this with some of my closest friends (see below). America is so beautiful- from the most beautiful place in the world, Yosemite, to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, the Coast of Maine to the Deep South- each place has its own character and culture with wonderful people to get to know. Often when traveling in other countries people say that America doesn’t have a culture or cuisine of its own- it took less than a week of traveling around America to realize that this is very wrong. America is just too big to capture it all in one sentence or one bite.

1. Spend time with people you love

My friends are the best. I love them.

Will this breakthrough research ever be used?

In a recent important scientific discovery, bioengineers at the University of Washington have developed a new dissolvable tampon that delivers antiretrovirals prior to sex meant to protect against HIV. The tampons are designed to be an alternative for women at high risk of HIV from contracting the virus. Inserted prior to sex, the tampons are designed to dissolve the medicine within six minutes. Oral medication and gels have been available to high risk women but are rarely used due to inconvenience. This invention has the potential to reduce this burden and allow women greater protection before sex. The method used to create this fabric is revolutionary and has a potential to be used in other key discoveries.

One potential problem for these tampons is that many women in high HIV areas of the world don’t use tampons. Areas of the world with the highest HIV infection rates today are Southern Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of South America. While there isn’t a handy map of where tampons are used around the world, travel blogs illustrate that outside of major cities, tampons are virtually non-existent. Women often use pads or other more traditional technics in menstruation. 

Will this breakthrough medicine, designed to help those in high risk areas, be used by those in high risk parts of the world? Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence to determine whether women will adopt a strategy uncommon to their region. While this shouldn’t lessen the value this development will bring to the fight against HIV, it’s an important reminder that scientists must remember to ask whether their product will be used by it’s intended audience or whether their is an additional barrier to usage that will need to be overcome.