Sunday Reading – 05/23/2021

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

Is it a HIPAA violation if businesses request proof of COVID vaccine? What experts say – Some businesses are lifting face mask requirements for customers who are vaccinated against COVID-19, raising questions about medical privacy.

Since 1996, part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has required that some patients’ health information be protected.

But many legal experts say non-health care businesses don’t violate HIPAA if they ask for proof of a COVID-19 vaccine, multiple news outlets reported. Here’s what to know about the law and what to expect at stores.

Kayte Spector-Bagdady, a medical ethics researcher at the University of Michigan, said HIPAA is often misunderstood because it doesn’t protect personal health information in every situation.

“HIPAA only governs certain kinds of entities — your clinician, hospital, or others in the health care sphere,” Spector-Bagdady said on the university’s website in April. “It does not apply to the average person or to a business outside health care. It doesn’t give someone personal protection against ever having to disclose their health information.”

While vaccine cards would normally be protected information, many businesses don’t operate under HIPAA laws, KHQ-TV reported. So that means stores, schools and travel providers may have the legal right to ask if you’ve been vaccinated before helping you, according to experts.

But not everyone sees such a clear-cut situation. Carmen Roe, a legal analyst for KHOU, said she thinks it will be up to the courts to determine whether businesses can ask for vaccine cards before allowing people to take off their masks.

“I think it runs a very serious risk of interfering with federal privacy laws that are on the books, that are there that have never been tested in the way these vaccinations are testing them,” Roe told the TV station. “Once we get a test case, I think things are not going to go well for any business who tries to force someone to produce that information before they enter.”

Another gray area involves the vaccine cards themselves, one health expert told WFSB.

“It will take a court to decide whether a vaccination record falls under HIPAA guidance or guidelines or if it’s extenuating circumstance for private business,” said Karl Minges, an assistant professor at the University of New Haven, according to the TV station. Read More >in The Fresno Bee

California to drop social distancing requirements in June – California no longer will require social distancing and will allow full capacity for businesses when the state reopens on June 15, the state’s top health official said Friday.

“We’re at a place with this pandemic where those requirements of the past are no longer needed for the foreseeable future,” Secretary of California Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said.

He said dramatically lower virus cases and increasing vaccinations mean it’s safe for the state to remove nearly all restrictions next month. The state of nearly 40 million people has administered nearly 35.5 million vaccine doses, he said, and more than three-quarters of residents over age 65 have received at least one dose.

“Vaccines are widely available, and we’re proud of where we are,” Ghaly said.

“Something very important happens on June 15 in California” when the state ends its color-coded four-tier system that restricts activities based on each county’s virus prevalence, he said.

Limits on how many people can be inside businesses at any one time, “which have been a hallmark” of the safety plan, will disappear, he said. “There will no longer be (physical distancing) restrictions for attendees, customers and guests in business sectors,” Ghaly said.

That won’t mean an abrupt end to wearing masks, he said, but it will mean the state will adjust its guidelines to correspond to national guidelines. Read More > from the Associated Press

Suspense file day: Which controversial bills did California legislators kill? – Forget about new protections for California kids cruising the internet. There will be no new requirements for crime labs to process old rape kits. And some households behind on their water bills won’t get more time to pay them back before their pipes get shut off. 

Those were some of the more than 200 bills California lawmakers killed today in the rapid-fire and often mysterious procedure known as the suspense file

Officially, the procedure promotes fiscal responsibility, allowing lawmakers to consider costly bills together and weigh their priorities. But it’s well known at the state Capitol that the suspense file is also a political tool that allows the most powerful legislators to keep controversial bills from reaching the Assembly or Senate floor — typically with no explanation, and sometimes without a public vote. 

A year after protests across the country over police accountability and racism, lobbying by law enforcement groups effectively watered down or stopped a handful of bills aimed at policing the police:

  • A proposed requirement that background checks explore if law enforcement officers have been affiliated with hate groups in the past stalled amid opposition from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. 
  • A bill requiring police departments to pull in different agencies to investigate police shootings of armed people is on hold until next year. 
  • The biggest police reform bill of the year — which would allow the state to kick bad cops out of the profession for certain types of misconduct and make it easier for people to sue officers and departments for civil rights violations — survived the suspense file, but only after it was watered down. The version that’s moving ahead is more limited in when a person can sue the police — a change the bill’s author, state Sen. Steve Bradford, said was “difficult to accept.” But, the Gardena Democrat said in a statement: “Compromise requires us to work together to find common ground.” 

For the second year in a row, the appropriations committee killed a bill requiring law enforcement agencies to process their backlogged rape kits. The California Public Defenders Association argued the bill would take away resources to test other types of evidence. Read More > at CalMatters

Bill to Decriminalize LSD, MDMA, Hallucinogens, Psychedelic Drugs Headed for Full Senate Vote – A bill that would decriminalize possession of  several psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, ketamine, and psilocybin “magic” mushrooms was saved from being held in suspense this session by being approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee 5-2 on Thursday.

Senate Bill 519, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would “decriminalize” dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine (psychedelic substance), ketamine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline (psychedelic hallucinogen), psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy, molly) possession for personal use and social sharing.

SB 519 would also set strict limits on possession of the listed psychedelics, penalizing those who are under the age of 21 for using drugs, as well as possessing the drugs on school propertyPossession of drug paraphernalia associated with psychedelics will no longer carry criminal penalties as long as they are owned by adults. Those with prior criminal offenses for possession and use would have also have their records expunged under the bill, with the California Department of Public Health to come up with regulations and therapeutic uses of the legalized psychedelics by 2024.

Senator Wiener wrote the bill largely to help end war on drugs-era policies such as mass incarceration of individuals jailed for having non-seller quantities on them when arrested, as well as to increase scientific and medical testing to help those suffering from mental health conditions such as PTSD and depression. Read More > at California Globe

Parts of Bay Area suddenly in the very worst drought category. Here’s what that means – A protracted lack of precipitation has landed swaths of the Bay Area in the worst drought category, according measurements released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

In just the past week, stretches of territory in the North Bay and East Bay deteriorated from the “extreme” category to the even more distressed “exceptional” tier, deepening concerns about environmental conditions on the cusp of what’s shaping up to be a long, dry summer.

The “exceptional” drought category could bring about a particularly punishing wildfire season, widespread wildlife die-off, water shortages and poor air quality, among a list of potential environmental calamities.

The rest of the Bay Area remains in “extreme” drought conditions, with little hope of major precipitation on the horizon. Read More > from the San Francisco Chronicle

Want to buy a house? It’ll cost $813,980 – The median price of a single-family home in California shot up to a jaw-dropping $813,980 in April, breaking the $800,000 barrier for the first time in state history, according to data released Monday by the California Association of Realtors. That’s more than a 7% increase from March, when California’s housing market shattered its own record for the sixth time amid the pandemic as median home prices soared to $758,990. It also represents more than a 34% increase from California’s median home price in April 2020 — the highest year-over-year price gain in state history.

Indeed, it’s already so challenging for Californians to become homeowners that Senate Democrats recently proposed cutting purchase prices nearly in half by allowing the state to pay for — and own — up to 45% of a house. Read More > at CalMatters

US home construction falls a surprise 9.5% in April – U.S. home construction fell a surprisingly sharp 9.5% in April and economists attributed that partially to builders who delayed projects because of a surge in lumber prices and other supply constraints.

The April decline left construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.57 million units, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was down from a rate of 1.73 million units in March, which had been the best showing since homes were constructed at a rate of 1.74 million units in July 2006 at the peak of that decade’s housing boom.

Applications for building permits, considered a sign of future activity, rose 0.3% in April to an annual rate of 1.76 million units, suggesting that the April construction dip will be temporary.

Economists linked the April decline to reports of builders delaying projects because of soaring lumber prices and snarled supply chains that have made it difficult to get products like appliances.

An exaggerated budget surplus? – Gov. Gavin Newsom, who spent the past week touting the state’s staggering $76 billion surplus, had some of the wind taken out of his sails Monday when the nonpartisan group that advises the state Legislature estimated the actual size of the surplus to be $38 billion. The sizable discrepancy derives from different definitions of “surplus”: Newsom included constitutionally required spending on schools, reserves and debt payments in his total — presumably because a larger number would generate more buzz — while the Legislative Analyst’s Office did not. The office also poked holes in Newsom’s sprawling list of proposals, noting that it might be wiser to use the surplus to comprehensively address a few key issues, rather than spreading the money across 400 new programs.

Other key recommendations from the legislative analyst:

  • “In contrast to the governor” proposing to borrow money and tap into reserves, lawmakers should “restore budget resilience” by saving money to help cushion the state against projected future deficits.
  • Lawmakers should take more time to consider Newsom’s proposals, rather than spending almost all of the state surplus and federal stimulus at once with limited oversight.

Speaking of Newsom’s big proposals, CalMatters’ Jackie Botts breaks down who would qualify for the second round of Golden State stimulus checks, if they’re approved by the Legislature. Read More > at CalMatters

Even with huge California surplus, Newsom’s budget relies on reserves, analyst says – California government operations would still rely on $12 billion drawn from cash reserves and borrowing under the budget proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, an independent analyst’s report said Monday, even as the state now expects to collect three times that amount from a windfall of tax revenues.

Newsom’s decision to stick with the borrowing proposals is “shortsighted and inadvisable,” said a report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The new review of the spending plan the governor sent to the Legislature last week largely agrees with Newsom’s estimate of a massive tax windfall to be collected in the current fiscal year and the one that begins on July 1…

But the analysis is most critical of Newsom’s support for leaving a portion of last year’s difficult budget-balancing solutions in place, especially with the state likely to receive one of the largest windfalls of tax revenues in its history.

The budget signed into law last summer, then estimated to total $202 billion, was written with the assumption of a steep and severe drop in tax revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, it relied on withdrawals from California’s large “rainy day” fund and proposed a variety of borrowing from internal funds to weather the storm. The emergency measures included a shift in public employee pension costs and paying for some long-term capital projects with bonds instead of cash.

While some of last year’s budget solutions would be scrapped under Newsom’s new spending plan, the analysis notes $12.1 billion of those decisions would stay in place — none bigger than a planned withdrawal of $7.8 billion in cash reserves. Read More > from the Los Angeles Times

CA’s next culture war: math class – a state Board of Education commission is set to review public comments responding to a controversial proposal to overhaul California’s math framework for 6.1 million K-12 public school students. The state’s proposed plan — which aims to “counter the cultural forces that have led to and continue to perpetuate current inequities” — recommends districts keep all students in the same math classes through sophomore year of high school, rather than allowing some students to start taking advanced math courses in middle school.

It also recommends delaying when students take Algebra 1, encourages students not to rush into calculus and seeks to replace the notion that some students “have natural gifts and talents” with the “recognition that every student is on a growth pathway.”

The hearing comes just a few days after the University of California said it would no longer consider SAT and ACT scores in admissions and scholarship decisions — the result of settling a lawsuit from low-income students of color and those with disabilities who argued the standardized tests put them at a disadvantage. And it comes a few months after the state Board of Education unanimously passed a contentious ethnic studies model curriculum that schools can use to develop lesson plans on marginalized communities in California.

Questions of how to achieve equitable educational outcomes — and teach students about equity — remain extremely divisive in California. More than 57% of voters in November opposed a ballot measure that would have reinstated affirmative action and allowed public universities to take race or gender into account when making admissions decisions. And when Orange County’s Los Alamitos Unified School Board voted last week to create a high school ethnic studies elective, it was forced to move the meeting online because heated debate led people to fear for their safety. Read More > at CalMatters

America Is Flunking Math – The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development compares mathematical proficiency among 15-year-olds by country worldwide. According to its 2018 report, America ranked 37th while China, America’s main competitor for world leadership, came in first. This is despite the fact that the United States is the fifth-highest spender per pupil among the 37 developed OECD nations. Alas, fewer and fewer young Americans are adequately prepared to embark on a career in STEM.

This massive failure of our K-12 education system trickles through the STEM pipeline. At the undergraduate level, too few American students are prepared for higher-level mathematics courses. These students are then unprepared for rigorous graduate-level work. According to our own experiences at the universities where we teach, an overwhelming majority of American students with strong math backgrounds are either foreign-born or first-generation students who have additional support from their education-conscious families. At all levels, STEM disciplines are more and more dependent on a constant flow of foreign talent.

There are many reasons for this failure, but the way that we educate and prepare teachers is particularly influential. The vast majority of K-12 math teachers are graduates of teacher-preparation programs that teach very little substantive mathematics. Schools of education are filled with courses about social justice, identity politics, or, at best, methods courses with minimal math content. Math majors, on the other hand, must be certified to teach math in most public schools, which is a costly and time-consuming process. This has led to a constant stream of ill-advised and dumbed-down reforms. One of the latest fads is anti-racist mathematics. Promoted in several states, the bizarre doctrine threatens to further degrade the teaching of mathematics. Read More > at Persuasion

To protect kids, unmask them, too – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control made waves when it announced last week that vaccinated people can doff their masks. But one group of people has no hope of doing so: kids, for whom vaccines are still largely not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. Only the Pfizer shot is authorized for kids as young as 12.

So while adults may celebrate going back to their normal lives, we’re still asking kids to observe all the rules of pandemic life.

They’ve been taken out of school or made to take extraordinary precautions there, isolated from their friends, deprived of many sports and other activities, and made to endure mask-wearing and social distancing, even outside. Add to that the hardships their families have faced from the economic disruption caused by the pandemic.

…This starts with letting kids unmask too, at least outside. There’s long been evidence that outdoor transmission is extremely unlikely. And the vaccines are so effective at preventing hospitalization and death that kids are astronomically unlikely to infect someone’s vaccinated grandma while they’re playing on a beach or riding bikes or at summer camp.

And as some doctors are starting to acknowledge, keeping kids away from their friends, masked, or indoors, is taking a toll on their physical and emotional health.

Continuing restrictions for unvaccinated kids could cause their misery to drag on for months, since surveys show that a high percentage of parents are worried about vaccine safety and plan to delay vaccinating their kids for COVID-19.

The better way to protect kids is for adults to step up and get the vaccine. That’s right — after 15 months of asking kids to sacrifice to save older lives, it’s time for older Americans to do their part for the kids.

This approach has been proven to work in Israel, where more than 60% of adults were vaccinated during a massive wave of disease. Soon, cases dropped by 99% across all age groups. Though kids under 16 weren’t vaccinated, there’s so little virus in circulation that they are now very unlikely to get infected — and they are already unlikely to become severely ill if they do. Read More > from Bloomberg Opinion

5 More Counties Join Effort To Add Parts Of California, Oregon To Idaho – A movement to add parts of California and Oregon to Idaho is drumming up more support this week.

Five Oregon counties voted to keep the discussions going around their regions joining the Gem State, according to the Orange County Register. Commissioners in Malheur, Lake, Sherman, Grant, and Baker counties are now required to continue studying about potentially joining Idaho. Jefferson and Union counties were the first to do this back in November.

The plan also includes annexing parts of southeast Washington and northeast California. According to the group Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho, these California counties are under consideration: Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Modoc, Lassen, part or all of Plumas, and parts of Butte and perhaps Sierra. Read More > iHeart Radio

Android users can now tap to pay for transit rides in the Bay Area – San Francisco Bay Area residents and visitors can now use Android devices to pay for rides on 24 public transit systems across the region. Apple Wallet has supported the Clipper card on iPhone and Apple Watch since last month.

Starting today, you can buy a Clipper card on your Android device or add your existing one. You can then tap to pay for rides on networks including BART, Muni light rail and buses, Caltrain, VTA and the ferry — all without having to dig around your pockets or bag for a Clipper card. 

It’s worth noting that if you digitize your Clipper card, you’ll no longer be able to use the physical version. That could put you in a bind if your battery runs out completely. You can also only have your card on one device at a time. Bikesharing and some passes (including San Francisco State University’s Gator Pass) aren’t supported.

If you have a device running Android 5.0 or later and it’s equipped with NFC, you should be able to add a Clipper card to Google Pay. However, Motorola handsets aren’t supported, as The Verge notes. If you’re an Android user, you’ll need to make Google Pay your default wallet app to get this to work. Read More > at Engadget

The New Productivity Revolution – Are all the significant inventions already achieved? Economist Robert Gordon identified five Great Inventions, whose discovery in the late nineteenth century powered what he deems an unrepeatable burst of economic growth between 1920 and 1970. These inventions—electrification, the internal combustion engine, chemistry, telecommunications, and indoor plumbing—were indeed far more significant than what often passes for innovation today. While some recent IT breakthroughs are important, no number of Snapchat filters can hold a candle to—well, not needing to use candles to see at night.

The phenomenon that Gordon—a careful, data-driven economist—attempts to explain is real. Economists use the concept of total factor productivity (TFP) to track the degree to which output is not attributable to observable inputs like labor-hours, capital, or education. When TFP increases, it is due to intangible factors such as innovation or better institutions. From 1920 to 1970, TFP grew at about 2 percent yearly. Since then, it has grown at less than half that rate—and in the last 15 years, it has grown at less than 0.3 percent per year, according to the San Francisco Fed’s utilization-adjusted series.

Is this slowdown due to a small number of crucial past innovations running their course? Do no Great Inventions remain to be discovered? Are we now doomed to eternal stagnation? Short answer: no. All it takes to see this is a visit to the technology frontier and a little imagination. But if there is no shortage of technological possibilities, why, then, is economic growth stagnating?

Rapidly developed Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines are not only saving countless lives; they have also powerfully demonstrated the utility of mRNA technology…The Covid vaccines represent the first mRNA treatments approved in humans, but the same concept is being studied to prevent HIV infection and malaria, and even to treat cancer. If we addressed these problems with the same urgency as we have the pandemic, AIDS and a number of cancers could soon yield to human control.

…The amount of energy trapped inside Earth is staggering. The temperature at the center of Earth (about 4,000 miles below the surface) is about the same as at the surface of the sun—about 6,000ºC. The Union of Concerned Scientists observes that “the amount of heat within 10,000 meters (about 33,000 feet) of Earth’s surface contains 50,000 times more energy than all the oil and natural gas resources in the world.” This heat is continually replenished by decaying radioactive elements within Earth’s interior at a rate of 44.2 TW, itself about twice humanity’s rate of primary energy consumption. Subsurface heat is a virtually inexhaustible resource that will last for billions of years.

Today, geothermal energy is harvested only near surface features like hot springs and volcanoes, where subsurface heat has made itself evident. But with the improvements in exploration, drilling, and subsurface engineering emerging from the shale boom of the last decade, geothermal energy in the United States can scale to terawatts of electricity production within 20 years. Read More > at City Journal 

This Article Is “Partly False” – At the end of a recent 800-meter race in Oregon, a high school runner named Maggie Williams got dizzy, passed out, and landed face-first just beyond the finish line. She and her coach blamed her collapse on a deficit of oxygen due to the mask she’d been forced to wear, and state officials responded to the public outcry by easing their requirements for masks during athletic events. But long before the pandemic began, scientists had repeatedly found that wearing a mask could lead to oxygen deprivation. Why had this risk been ignored?

One reason is that a new breed of censors has been stifling scientific debate about masks on social media platforms. When Scott Atlas, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, questioned the efficacy of masks last year, Twitter removed his tweet. When eminent scientists from Stanford and Harvard recently told Florida governor Ron DeSantis that children should not be forced to wear masks, YouTube removed their video discussion from its platform. These acts of censorship were widely denounced, but the social media science police remain undeterred, as I discovered when I recently wrote about the harms to children from wearing masks.

Facebook promptly slapped a label on the article: “Partly False Information. Checked by independent fact-checkers.” City Journal appealed the ruling, a process that turned out to be both futile and revealing. Facebook refused to remove the label, which still appears whenever the article is shared, but at least we got an inside look at the tactics that social media companies and progressive groups use to distort science and public policy. Read More > at City Journal

Is 2021 the YIMBY Movement’s Time to Shine on Capitol Hill? – The YIMBY movement isn’t quite a high-density household name yet. But its focus on peeling back government regulations on new development is starting to make a bipartisan splash on Capitol Hill.

Last week, Sens. Todd Young (R–Indiana) and Brian Schatz (D–Hawaii) reintroduced the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act, a law aimed at pruning back red tape in states and localities that receive certain federal housing grants. “Discriminatory local zoning and land use policies drive up housing costs in communities across America,” said Young in a press release. “My legislation will require cities, towns, and rural areas across America to face this reality under a new level of transparency and encourage them to cut these harmful regulations.”

To induce that transparency, the YIMBY Act would have any jurisdictions receiving funding under the $3.4 billion Community Development Block Grant program to file reports every five years with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Those reports would detail whether they’ve adopted any of a list of 22 land use policies spelled out in the bill—and, if not, what are their plans to adopt them.

The policies on the list include expanding “by-right” multifamily zoning (meaning individual projects are not subject to the discretionary approval of bureaucrats), reducing minimum lot sizes, eliminating minimum parking requirements, ditching single-family-only zoning, allowing the conversion of offices to apartments, and permitting pre-fabricated construction. With one exception—donating vacant land for affordable housing construction—they all entail easing or eliminating government-imposed barriers to development. Read More > at Reason

The Eyes Offer a Window into Alzheimer’s Disease – While it has been said that the eyes are a window to the soul, a new study shows they could be a means for understanding diseases of the brain. According to new research by scientists at the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, retinal scans can detect key changes in blood vessels that may provide an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, while offering important insights into how one of the most common Alzheimer’s risk genes contributes to the disease. 

“The most prevalent genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease is a variant of the APOE gene, known as APOE4,” said lead author Fanny Elahi, MD, PhD. “We still don’t fully understand how this variant increases risk of brain degeneration, we just know that it does, and that this risk is modified by sex, race, and lifestyle. Our research provides new insights into how APOE4 impacts blood vessels and may provide a path forward for early detection of neurodegenerative disease.” 

Studies in mice have explored the effect of APOE4 on capillaries in the brain. Elahi, an assistant professor of neurology and member of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center (MAC), has long suspected these tiny blood vessels may play a significant role in Alzheimer’s disease, since they deliver nutrients and oxygen, carry away waste, and police immune system responses through the protective shield known as the blood–brain barrier. Damage to these blood vessels could cause a host of problems, she says, including the protein buildup and cognitive decline seen in individuals affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Read More > from University of California San Francisco

Burnout: Modern Affliction or Human Condition? – Burnout is generally said to date to 1973; at least, that’s around when it got its name. By the nineteen-eighties, everyone was burned out. In 1990, when the Princeton scholar Robert Fagles published a new English translation of the Iliad, he had Achilles tell Agamemnon that he doesn’t want people to think he’s “a worthless, burnt-out coward.” This expression, needless to say, was not in Homer’s original Greek. Still, the notion that people who fought in the Trojan War, in the twelfth or thirteenth century B.C., suffered from burnout is a good indication of the disorder’s claim to universality: people who write about burnout tend to argue that it exists everywhere and has existed forever, even if, somehow, it’s always getting worse. One Swiss psychotherapist, in a history of burnout published in 2013 that begins with the usual invocation of immediate emergency—“Burnout is increasingly serious and of widespread concern”—insists that he found it in the Old Testament. Moses was burned out, in Numbers 11:14, when he complained to God, “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.” And so was Elijah, in 1 Kings 19, when he “went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough.”

To be burned out is to be used up, like a battery so depleted that it can’t be recharged. In people, unlike batteries, it is said to produce the defining symptoms of “burnout syndrome”: exhaustion, cynicism, and loss of efficacy. Around the world, three out of five workers say they’re burned out. A 2020 U.S. study put that figure at three in four. A recent book claims that burnout afflicts an entire generation. In “Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation,” the former BuzzFeed News reporter Anne Helen Petersen figures herself as a “pile of embers.” The earth itself suffers from burnout. “Burned out people are going to continue burning up the planet,” Arianna Huffington warned this spring. Burnout is widely reported to have grown worse during the pandemic, according to splashy stories that have appeared on television and radio, up and down the Internet, and in most major newspapers and magazines, including Forbes, the GuardianNature, and the New Scientist. The New York Times solicited testimonials from readers. “I used to be able to send perfect emails in a minute or less,” one wrote. “Now it takes me days just to get the motivation to think of a response.” When an assignment to write this essay appeared in my in-box, I thought, Oh, God, I can’t do that, I’ve got nothing left, and then I told myself to buck up. The burnout literature will tell you that this, too—the guilt, the self-scolding—is a feature of burnout. If you think you’re burned out, you’re burned out, and if you don’t think you’re burned out you’re burned out. Everyone sits under the shade of that juniper tree, weeping, and whispering, “Enough.”

But what, exactly, is burnout? The World Health Organization recognized burnout syndrome in 2019, in the eleventh revision of the International Classification of Diseases, but only as an occupational phenomenon, not as a medical condition. In Sweden, you can go on sick leave for burnout. That’s probably harder to do in the United States because burnout is not recognized as a mental disorder by the DSM-5, published in 2013, and though there’s a chance it could one day be added, many psychologists object, citing the idea’s vagueness. A number of studies suggest that burnout can’t be distinguished from depression, which doesn’t make it less horrible but does make it, as a clinical term, imprecise, redundant, and unnecessary. Read More > in The New Yorker

Navy Pilots Recall UFO Encounters: ‘There’s Something Out There That Was Better Than Our Airplane’ – One month before the director of national intelligence and secretary of Defense are expected to deliver a UAP (unidentified aerial phenomena) intelligence report, Navy pilots and other former government officials are speaking out and describing their encounters with the mysterious sightings.

David Fravor, a Top Gun naval flight school graduate and commander of the F/A-18F squadron on the USS Nimitz, appeared on CBS’ “60 minutes” with Lt. Alex Dietrich, who was flying at his wing in 2004 when they say they saw a UFO, or unidentified flying object, together with their back seaters.

The UFO encounter, which happened 100 miles southwest of San Diego, California, was documented by means of radar, camera, and four naval pilots.

It came after a new advanced radar on the USS Princeton had been detecting “multiple anomalous aerial vehicles” for a week, according to operators. The “vehicles” were able to descend over 80,000 feet in less than one second. Read More > in The Epoch Times

Nearly half of Americans don’t trust CDC and FDA — that’s a problem – As we (hopefully) see the light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic tunnel, America appears to have a major problem. In a new survey released this week by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we found that America has a trust gap when it comes to public health. 

We found that most Americans want to spend substantially more money on public health at the federal level and have a very high level of appreciation for the field. But at the same time, the public has extraordinarily low levels of trust in the institutions that lead this field and in the current performance of the public health system.

In the middle of this public health crisis, we found that nearly half of Americans do not have high trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other major public health organizations when it comes to recommendations they make to improve health. And among Republicans, trust is even lower — only about a quarter say they have high trust in the CDC (27 percent), FDA (26 percent), or their state health departments (22 percent). 

Beyond trust, only about one-third of Americans (34 percent) give positive ratings to the nation’s current system for protecting the public from health threats and preventing illness, down from 43 percent in 2009. We found 65 percent of Americans rate the nation’s public health system as fair or poor, which is concerning in the middle of a pandemic. At the same time, Americans have increased their approval rating of the U.S. medical care system during the COVID-19 pandemic, and physicians and nurses remain as the highest sources of trust for information to improve health.  Read More > in The Hill

Is It Possible to Get Too Much Sleep? Here’s What Scientists Think – Sleep has a major impact on our health and wellbeing. Busy lifestyles often make it difficult to sleep as much as we would like to. Not sleeping enough affects our mood, ability to focus, and risk of many medical conditions.

We are often encouraged to sleep more, but can sleeping too much also be unhealthy?

We asked 26 experts in sleep research and neurobiology whether too much sleep is bad for you, 85 percent said ‘no’. Here is what we found…

There have been numerous research papers looking at the relationship between sleep time and different medical outcomes.

Dr Jo Caldwell, an expert from the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit in Neuropsychology, summarizes the results of these papers: “The optimal amount of sleep seems to be about 7 solid hours. For each hour below that amount, there are additive adverse health consequences, and for each hour above the 7 hours there are additive adverse health consequences.”

Currently, there is no experimental data – where sleep duration is experimentally increased – that links oversleeping with mortality. Actually, the experimental result is the opposite.

Dr Monika Haack, an expert in sleep research at Harvard University, says, “Extending habitual sleep duration has a beneficial effect on a number of biological systems, e.g., blood pressure decreases, sensitivity to pain decreases, and insulin sensitivity improves.” Read More > at Science Alert

About Kevin

Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-UPI, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Trustee RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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