Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'medicine'

Money Equals Life

April 4th, 2013 · 1 Comment

The Papuan taipan is arguably the deadliest snake in the world, but not only because of the intensity of its venom. The creature kills humans at such an alarming rate primarily because the antidote to its bite is too expensive for most Papuan medical facilities to afford. That unfortunate fact could soon change, though, thanks […]

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Documents Matter

February 28th, 2013 · Comments Off on Documents Matter

I have been reluctant to comment on the recent witch burning horror in Papua New Guinea, even though I have previously written at length about that nation’s problems with stamping out superstition-related violence. There was something alarmingly voyeuristic about the way in which the murder was covered, and I didn’t think it appropriate to chime […]

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A Matlock Moment

February 28th, 2012 · 2 Comments

I’m a sucker for a tale in which the American legal system is asked to rule on the legitimacy of a medical treatment. No matter how dubious a quack’s product, he or she can always scrounge up satisfied customers to attest to its power, as well as a few expert witnesses who will say almost […]

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Taipan Be Not Proud

October 26th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Nearly two years ago, I posted about the exorbitant prices of anti-venom, which seem largely due to the reluctance of pharmaceutical manufacturers to service such a relatively small market. The end result of those companies’ economic sensibility is a dearth of medication in Papua New Guinea, where snake bites are a serious public-health problem: In […]

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“War Has Been a Very Efficient Schoolmaster”

October 4th, 2010 · 4 Comments

One of Microkhan’s top Alaskan correspondents recently alerted me to the existence of Project Facade, one of the eeriest and coolest art projects to be found on The Tubes. The endeavor is tough to describe in a pithy sentence or two, so please bear with me as I try: Project Facade is one artist’s attempt […]

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The Saga Continues

June 22nd, 2010 · 2 Comments

We’re still on the hook with Microkhan Jr., at least until the early afternoon. We’ll try to check back in then, as we don’t want a long-gestating post on Algeria’s legacy of anti-Americanism to go to waste. In the meantime, we present you with two data points involving public health in Mongolia. The video above […]

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The Rabies “Racket”

May 18th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Healthy skepticism is obviously the lifeblood of a functioning society, yet there are moments when distrust of The Man can have dire consequences. That is too often the case in the public-health sphere, which we reckon makes sense—the notion of injecting ourselves with foreign agents is terrifying, especially since it’s so hard to observe how […]

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First, Do No Harm

April 28th, 2010 · Comments Off on First, Do No Harm

While we’re sensitive to the fact that millions of people trust folk cures more than modern remedies, stories like this one make us question whether shamanism deserves to survive in the post-antibiotics age: A couple in Samoa ,who perform traditional healing, have been found guilty of causing actual bodily harm, but had charges of manslaughter […]

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The Dane Behind Snooki

April 13th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Last Friday’s post about steroid use among Bangladeshi prostitutes elicited this great comment from a longtime Friend ‘o Microkhan: It seems like there might be an interesting parallel between perceptions of fatness and tanning. In both cases, there seems to be a general trend that as cultures move away from subsistence living. Lower body mass […]

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A Heyday Down East

January 26th, 2010 · Comments Off on A Heyday Down East

Whenever we drive through a mid-sized American town that has obviously seen better days, we wonder what industry built the once stately homes that have fallen into gentle disrepair. In most cases, it seems, such towns have fallen victim to the decline in manufacturing—Waterbury’s reign as “Brass City,” for example, certainly seems like a distant […]

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Antivenin and Econ 101

November 2nd, 2009 · 3 Comments

We initially didn’t quite believe the top-shelf venom prices quotes in this 1995 piece about Caucasian vipers. Upwards of $1,000 per gram just struck as too high, given the relative abundance of the most desirable species. But sure enough, the latest price list from the Kentucky Reptile Zoo proved our skepticism misplaced; a gram’s worth […]

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A State That’s Untouchable, Like Eliot Ness

October 16th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Instead of hitting you with our weekly Bad Movie Friday entry, we’ve decided to round out our cough-syrup trilogy with a classic ad: Oddjob shilling for Vicks Formula 44. Good thing there’s no narcotic in there to slow him down. And the phenylpropanolamine should make him a much more energetic opponent for Mr. Bond. We’re […]

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Tippin’ on 44

October 16th, 2009 · 1 Comment

In response to yesterday’s post on Houston’s botching of syrup possession cases, one of our loyal correspondents offered a nostalgic comment: When I was a kid, over the counter codeine was legal. On Sunday visits, I used to slip into my grandmother’s medicine chest and for periodic sips out of her Vicks Formula 44 cough […]

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Official Sport of the Health Care Debacle

October 9th, 2009 · 2 Comments

When folks ask us about out take on the health care mess, we always bring up the tale of our pal “Lancer.” (Names have been Robotech-ed to protect the potentially moritified.) A few years back, poor Lancer was playing a little pickup basketball when his ACL decided that it no longer enjoyed being a complete […]

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Can Nicorette Be Righteous?

September 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off on Can Nicorette Be Righteous?

As we’ve given ever-deeper thought to our nation’s distressingly high infant morality rate, we’ve started to wonder how best to address the problem. Everything we’ve read in recent days seems to indicate that the rate could be dramatically lowered if more expectant mothers took better care of their bodies—specifically by quitting smoking, which pretty clearly […]

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Even More on the Venom Trade

September 22nd, 2009 · 2 Comments

On the heels of yesterday’s post about the snake-catching monopoly enjoyed by India’s Irula people, we thought we’d turn our gaze slightly east and see who runs the reptile round-ups in neighboring Bangladesh. Though the erstwhile East Pakistan has no formal caste system, its society does tend to frown on a semi-nomadic people known as […]

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Citrus is Your Friend

August 19th, 2009 · Comments Off on Citrus is Your Friend

Yesterday we touched upon medicine’s tendency to stick with certain treatments even when there’s a lack of credible evidence attesting to their efficacy. But there’s a flip side to that foible—some physicians’ genius for concocting cures on the fly, with no lab or patient data to assist them. Such was certainly the case with scurvy, […]

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A Bad Time to Get Bitten

August 7th, 2009 · Comments Off on A Bad Time to Get Bitten

We’ve long assumed that antivenins were stocked in every hospital pharmacy, so that snakebite victims need only worry about getting medical attention in time. But, alas, that’s really not the case at all—even mainstream antivenins such as CroFab must often be shipped in to address specific cases, and rarer remedies are getting increasingly hard to […]

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Snipped by Disney

August 6th, 2009 · Comments Off on Snipped by Disney

The entertainment conglomerate behind Dumbo also recognizes that elephants aren’t always sweethearts—especially when too many pachyderms are competing for too few resources. And so Disney’s top veterinarian has spent the past few years traveling the globe, making sure that elephant populations stay within reason. His method? Straight-up surgical: Wildlife officials in several countries are considering […]

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Poison on the March

July 15th, 2009 · Comments Off on Poison on the March

A loyal reader recently sent us the above graph, culled from a recent issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The accompanying text only explains what’s obvious to even the untrained eye: as the age-adjusted death rates linked to firearms and motor-vehicle accidents have declined, poison has become an increasingly efficient killer of Americans. Does […]

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The Molar Index

June 8th, 2009 · 4 Comments

We always love it when The Economist makes a cutting reference to Americans’ preference for bright shiny teeth. It’s almost as if the magazine takes pride in English teeth, as a sign of lack of vanity, wise allocation of health resources, or what have you. The mag’s latest crack got Microkhan thinking about the reasons […]

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Rough Side of the Weirdness

May 15th, 2009 · 3 Comments

While Microkhan fully supports the idea of physical autonomy, this case in Minneapolis skeeves us out to no end. A 13-year-old boy suffering from Hodgkin’s disease is fighting for his right to avoid chemotherapy, in favor of a homeopathic alternative. Unfortunately, that alternative seems to be peddled by a man who strikes us as nothing […]

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The Burma Surgeon

May 7th, 2009 · 16 Comments

Today’s edition of NtHWS Extras brings us the amazing tale of Dr. Gordon S. Seagrave, arguably one of the most selfless and impressive American expatriates of the 20th century. There is nary a peep about Seagrave in Now the Hell Will Start, primarily because he’s not the sort of bloke you can just casually mention […]

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Crack Your Back, Take Your Jack

May 7th, 2009 · Comments Off on Crack Your Back, Take Your Jack

British science writer Simon Singh is no fan of chiropractors. In fact, he thinks the vast majority of what they do is pure quackery, and he spends a fair chunk of his book Trick or Treatment? making that abundantly clear. Spinal adjustments that can alleviate a range of ailments? Pshaw, says Singh (as does Microkhan). […]

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The Fallibility of Folk Medicine

May 4th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Since folk-medicine techniques ostensibly develop over many centuries, one would think its practitioners would slowly come to realize that some practices are actually harmful rather than helpful. But, alas, it turns out our species isn’t always aces at connecting cause to effect. And so we keep using treatments that are several degrees worse than doing […]

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Jaundiced for the Cause

April 30th, 2009 · 8 Comments

In today’s edition of NtHWS Extras, we’re taking a look at a nearly forgotten medical tale from World War II: The widespread use of Atabrine to combat malaria, with varying results. This story starts all the way back in the 19th century, with a bunch of Dutch smugglers who brought Cinchona seeds from South America […]

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The Stability of Suicide

April 28th, 2009 · 2 Comments

It’s a bright, gorgeous morning here at Harlem headquarters, which obviously means it’s the perfect time to revisit one of Microkhan’s favorite topics: suicide. The graph above shows the suicide rate in the United States between 1950 and 2005. As you can see, the rate has been remarkably stable over the years, despite growing awareness […]

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Black Death Rethink

April 21st, 2009 · 3 Comments

Have plague-infected rats (as well as their attendant fleas) gotten a bad rap in the history books? A pair of Georgia-based geographers think so. Their rather unconventional theory is that an unknown viral condition, rather than bubonic plauge, was responsible for Europe’s Black Death: “The Black Death went so fast, but we knew bubonic plague […]

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Suicide in the Treasure State

April 9th, 2009 · 9 Comments

Longtime readers know that Microkhan has a curious obsession with suicide. (We blame Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads.) So we couldn’t help but notice the fact that Montana has by far the highest suicide rate in the U.S., at 22 cases per 100,000 residents. That leaves even Nevada and its legions of busted, coked-out gamblers […]

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Pre-Columbian Stitches

March 16th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Over the weekend, I finally got around to seeing Mel Gibson’s hyper-violent Apocalypto; it’s been on my list for a while now, primarily because I need to study up on jungle chase scenes for the Now the Hell Will Start screenplay. The flick is every bit as brutal as I’d heard, and then some—don’t think […]

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