I Learn Things Sometimes

The LA Public Library offers many daily newspapers across the world for free thanks to PressReader. So because of that I’ve been reading the print edition of the LA Times every morning. Most of the links won’t be from the Times because they have a weird paywall thing that they use — you only get to view a certain number of articles free per month — so I’ll be linking from other sites most of the time.

Here’s what I learned today:

Scientists discover the schizophrenia gene. It’s a nice first step into unraveling the disease and ways to treat it without those nasty side effects the current batch of drugs have.

When I read this, I instinctively put on Sonic Youth’s Sister on just to hear “Schizophrenia.” It’s a great little send-up to Philip K. Dick. “I can feel it in my bones. Schizophrenia is taking me home.”

Dudamel and Youth Orchestra LA to play the Super Bowl halftime show. Deep in this article it mentions how none of the presidential candidates talk about art, music and culture in school. I haven’t been paying attention to the campaigns, so I don’t know if that is true or not. But I wouldn’t be surprised by it.

I have a cousin who loves playing the guitar and says that he loves the classic rock guitarists. His favorite was Eric Clapton to which I rolled my eyes, talked about his cocaine addictions and said that no one cared about him until he threw his son off the balcony or whatever. I told him about Jimi Hendrix. He had no idea who that is. I told him about Jimmy Page. Who?

Why are middle-aged white Americans dying at a higher rate? Here’s the study that the Times referenced. The story highlighted the states that had the highest mortality rates of this group: West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The states showing the worst trends have high rates of poverty as well as some of the highest rates of smoking and obesity in the country.
They also historically have had among the weakest healthcare systems, with high rates of people lacking insurance and poor access to medical care.

Some of these shortcomings may be addressed in some states by the Affordable Care Act. Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia have expanded their Medicaid safety nets through the law, a step that other research suggests should have health effects over the longer term.

The remaining states with the biggest health gaps continue to resist the law and do not guarantee health coverage.