Lana Del Rey Must Stop Romanticizing Young Death: A Word From Frances Bean Cobain

first_imgLana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence has gone straight in the album charts at the top. Ultraviolence has been ultrasuccessful, but her interviews leading up o the release of her album have been ultracontroversial. Firstly, she declared feminism “not an interesting concept” in an interview with The Fader. What does intrigue Lana? The death of young musicians. This is something she has romanticized. Recent comments made to The Guardian have the singers name trending across the Internet.  In the piece , Del Ray was quoted as saying that she saw glamor in an early death.“I wish I was dead already,” she told Tim Jonze of The Guardian.  Her morbid perspective on mortality seemed to be influenced by the mentions of Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain, whom she cites as her heroes. Lana continued to explain how she did, in fact, mean exactly what she had said, “I do! I don’t want to have to keep doing this. But I am.”Well, Lana, early death may not be better than fame, just ask Frances. Yesterday, Kurt Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, confronted Lana for romanticizing death during her interview with The Guardian. “I’ll never know my father because he died young and it becomes a desirable feat because people like you think it’s ‘cool,’” Bean wrote on Twitter. “Well, it’s fucking not. Embrace life, because you only get one life.”Del Rey has responded to the backlash. She further explained herself, claiming her “I wish I was dead already” quote was taken out of context. She has formally responded to Bean, via Twitter: “He was asking me a lot about your dad I said I liked him because he was talented not because he died young- the other half of what I said wasn’t really related to the people he mentioned/ I don’t find that part of music glam either.”last_img read more

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Jerry Garcia & Bob Weir Join Joan Baez For A 1987 Christmas Concert

first_imgWe were just listening to some Grateful Dead and came across this little nugget of holiday goodness on Deadheadland.com that put a smile on our faces. Remember when Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir joined the Joan Baez and Friends: A Christmas Concert back during the holidays in 1987? Well, even if you don’t, this is sure to put a smile on your face, as Jerry and Bobby were joined by John Kahn on upright bass for a short bluegrass set, which featured takes on “Deep Elem Blues,” “Bird Song,” “Dark Hollow,” and more. The show was an AIDS Benefit, put on by Humanitas International and BGP Presents. It’s a totally stripped down set that shows some great interplay between the two friends and members of the Dead. Enjoy!An AIDS benefit concert; Humanitas International and BGP presents:“Joan Baez and Friends: A Christmas Concert”SETIntroductionWhen I Paint My MasterpieceDeep Elem BluesVictim Or The CrimeBird SongDark Hollow*Turtle Dove*Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door*JOAN BAEZ w/Emmett Powell & The Gospel Elites (Mimi Farina on stage)Let It Be***w/ Joan Baez**w/ Garcia & Weirlast_img read more

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Listen to Nicki Bluhm Sit In With Phil Lesh & Friends

first_imgLast night at Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads venue, Lesh brought out Nicki Bluhm to sing some vocals with the band throughout the show. Bluhm and her band, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, spent three nights performing at Terrapin, and Bluhm stuck around the night after to sing with Lesh and his crew.Bluhm made her first appearance on “How Sweet It Is” in the first set, but really shined in the second half, singing lead on “Shakedown Street,” “The Wheel,” a Gramblers original “Ravenous,” and returning to share vocals on “Morning Dew” with Stu Allen. She also closed out the show with some killer vocals on Neil Young’s “Helpless.”You can stream the show in full, courtesy of Quinfolk, with the setlist and band lineup below:Thursday March 26 ~ Terrapin CrossroadsPhil Lesh – bass, vocals Nicki Bluhm – vocals, tambourine Grahame Lesh – guitar, vocals Stu Allen – guitar, vocals Jeff Chimenti – keyboards Ezra Lipp – drumsSet One: Mason’s Children pl gl sa , Deal nb, Althea gl, Loser sa, How Sweet It Is nb, Cold Rain & Snow sa > Eyes of the World pl > Fire on the Mountain nbSet Two: Shakedown Street nb > The Wheel all > Stagger Lee sa, Ravenous nb, Jack Straw sa gl, Cryptical Envelopment sa > The Other One pl > Cryptical Envelopment sa > Uncle John’s Band all > Morning Dew nb saEncore: donor rap, Helpless nblast_img read more

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Dave Grohl Breaks Leg At Show In Sweden, Keeps Playing

first_imgUpdate 6/13: X-Rays Confirm Dave Grohl Is A BadassEveryone knows that Dave Grohl is a titan of rock, but if anybody needed more evidence, what happened in Göteborg, Sweden solidifies that status. As the Foo Fighters were rolling through their set, Grohl apparently fell off stage. That wasn’t the worst part, however….he suffered a broken leg. But that didn’t stop him from finishing the show. “Ladies and Gentlemen….I love you too, motherfuckers. Now look, I think I just broke my leg. I think I REALLY broke my leg. You have my promise that the Foo Fighters are going to come back and finish this out….Right now, I’m going to the hospital to fix my leg, and then I’m going to come back and we’re going to play for you again.”After receiving some immediate medical attention, and the rest of the Foo playing some covers sung by drummer Taylor Hawkins, Grohl came back out to perform a cover of Queen’s “Under Pressure”, an acoustic version of “My Hero”, and a few more songs. “I may not be able to walk or run but I can still play guitar and scream,” said Grohl. That is dedication to your fans, right there. Good luck with the leg, Dave!last_img read more

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Humanists, scientists, artists among new fellows at Radcliffe

first_imgThe Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University has announced the names of 32 women and 19 men selected to be 2007–08 Radcliffe Fellows. The fellows — among them 18 humanists, 13 scientists, 12 creative artists, and eight social scientists — will work individually and across disciplines on projects chosen for both quality and long-term impact. Their projects range from the production of a film and photographic series on 21st century American workers to research into deriving heart cells from stem cells to improve cardiovascular development.“We are delighted to welcome these distinguished scholars, scientists, and artists to Radcliffe. We look forward to seeing new friendships and collaborations form and to witnessing the ways the fellows’ interactions and the freedom provided by the fellowship year influence their work,” said Barbara J. Grosz, interim dean (effective July 1) and dean of science at the Radcliffe Institute and Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.“In my years as dean, I have been privileged to watch the fellows interact with one another and with faculty members in various departments across Harvard. From the vantage point of the Harvard presidency, I will continue to watch and admire their path-breaking work and interdisciplinary approaches,” said Drew G. Faust, dean of the Radcliffe Institute and president-elect of Harvard.Unique among the nation’s centers for advanced studies, the Radcliffe Institute hosts artists, musicians, and fiction writers, as well as academic researchers and professionals. Selected from a pool of more than 775 applicants, the 2007–08 fellows are a diverse group of distinguished and emerging scholars and artists from the United States and other countries. Mahzarin Banaji, the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute and the Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard, will work among the fellows and continue her research on the developmental and evolutionary origins of social cognition.Now in its seventh year, the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship Program is a highly competitive program that has provided yearlong residencies to more than 350 award-winning writers, artists, scientists, and other scholars. Examples of past fellows are acclaimed installation artist Shimon Attie, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Geraldine Brooks, and anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a leading commentator on the global traffic in human organs.Radcliffe Institute Fellows and their projectsElizabeth Alexander, Mildred Londa Weisman Fellow, Yale University, African American Studies: “A New Genealogy of African American Experimental Poetry.”Elizabeth Armstrong, Suzanne Young Murray Fellow, Indiana University, sociology: “College Culture and Social Inequality.”Mulatu Astatke, independent composer, music composition: “Ethiopian Christian Creativity in Transnational Perspective.”Mahzarin Banaji, Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, psychology: “Brains, Babies, and Baboons: Understanding the Developmental and Evolutionary Origins of Social Cognition.”Rebecca Baron, David and Roberta Logie Fellow and Radcliffe-Harvard Film Study Center Fellow, Massachusetts College of Art, film/video making: “What Nature Tells Us.”Giorgio Bertellini, Sargent-Faull Fellow, University of Michigan, film studies: “Divo/Duce: Italian Masculinity Crossing Over to 1920s America.”Lisa Bielawa, Mary I. Bunting Institute Fellow, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, music composition: “Double Violin Concerto and Smaller Works.”Jin-Yi Cai, Augustus Anson Whitney Scholar, University of Wisconsin, Madison, computer science: “The Theory of Holographic Algorithms.”Tianxi Cai, Joy Foundation Fellow, Harvard School of Public Health, statistics and biostatistics: “Development and Evaluation of Diagnostic and Prognostic Rules with Biological and Genomic Markers.”Daniel Carpenter, Harvard University, political science: “The Anti-Slavery Petition in Political and Organizational Context.”Kathleen Cash, Hrdy Fellow, independent scholar, education: “Telling Them Their Own Stories: Integrating Ethnographic Research and Pedagogy in a Model of HIV/AIDS Prevention for Vulnerable Women in Thailand, Bangladesh, Uganda, Haiti, and Los Angeles.”Elaine Chew, Edward, Frances, and Shirley B. Daniels Fellow, University of Southern California, mathematics, computation, and music: “Analytical Listening Through Interactive Visualization.”Michael Crescimanno, Benjamin White Whitney Scholar, Youngstown State University, physics: “Multiphoton Quantum Optics of Dilute Alkali Vapors.”Christopher Csikszentmihalyi, David and Roberta Logie Fellow, MIT, new media: “Familiars.”Christine Dakin, Evelyn Green Davis Fellow, independent artist, dance performance: “The Body Speaks — Capturing Martha Graham’s Dance Art.”Beshara Doumani, Rita E. Hauser Fellow, University of California, Berkeley, history: “Adjudicating Family: Gender, Property, and the Praxis of Islamic Law.”Alexandre Francois, University of Southern California, computer science: “Analytical Listening Through Interactive Visualization.”David Frankfurter, Lillian Gollay Knafel Fellow, University of New Hampshire, history of religion: “Worlds of Christianization in Late Antique Egypt.”Kate Gilhuly, Bunting Fellow, Wellesley College, classical studies: “Landscapes of Desire in Classical Athenian Literature.”Andrew Gordon, Elizabeth S. and Richard M. Cashin Fellow, Harvard University, history: “Stitching in Modern Times.”Vivian Gornick, Vera M. Schuyler Institute Fellow, independent writer, nonfiction: “Emma Goldman.”Hildegarde Heynen, Constance E. Smith Fellow, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, architectural history: “Sibyl Moholy-Nagy and the Vicissitudes of Modern Architecture.”Liisa Holm, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Fellow, University of Helsinki, molecular and cellular biology: “Functional Hierarchy and Function Determining Residues of Protein Families.”Anette (Peko) Hosoi,* American Fellow, MIT: “Bioengineering Swimming, Crawling, and Burrowing: Optimization of Low Re Locomotion.”Steven Kaplan, Hebrew University, religion: “Ethiopian Christian Creativity in Transnational Perspective.”Frances Kissling, Catholics for a Free Choice, nonfiction: “How to Think about Abortion: Pro-choice Reflections on Rights and Responsibility.”Jané Kondev, Grass Fellow, Brandeis University, physics: “Physical Biology of the Cell.”Susan Lindquist, Suzanne Young Murray Fellow, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, molecular and cellular biology: “Shaping the Relationship Between Genotype and Phenotype.”Sharon Lockhart, “Radcliffe-Harvard Film Study Center Fellow, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, film/video making: “Lunchbreak.”Catherine Lutz, Matina S. Horner Distinguished Visiting Professor, Brown University, social/cultural anthropology: “Full Metal Jacket: The Car, U.S. Cultures, and Their Contradictions.”Jacqueline Malone, Queens College, City University of New York, nonfiction: “Jazz Music in Motion: African American Chorus Line Dancers in Harlem, 1925–1955.”Cathie Martin, Katherine Hampson Bessell Fellow, Boston University, political science: “In Search of Self: The Organization of Business Interests for Collective Social Policies.”Carla Mazzio, University of Chicago, literature: “Calculating Minds: Literature and Mathematics in the Renaissance.”Mitchell Merback, DePauw University, art history: “The Radical German Renaissance: Art, Dissent, and Religious Regime in the Era of Reform, 1490–1555.”Ryan Minor, State University of New York, Stony Brook, musicology: “Choral Fantasies: Festivity, Nationhood, and the Chorus in 19th Century Germany.”Christine Mummery,* Harvard Stem Cell Institute Radcliffe Fellow, Hubrecht Laboratory, molecular and cellular biology: “Engineering the Right Scaffold: How Matrix Flexibility May Determine Cardiac Cell Fate.”Craig Murphy, Wellesley College, international relations: “Setting the World’s Standards.”Maria Orive, The Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellow, University of Kansas, evolutionary and organismic biology: “Together and Apart: Theoretical Models of Host-Symbiont Genome Evolution.”Timothy Rood, St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford, classical studies: “Anabasis: Xenophon and the March of the Ten Thousand.”Daniel Rothman, Jeanne Rosselet Fellow, MIT, Earth and planetary sciences: “Physics of Earth’s Carbon Cycle.”Elena Ruehr, Walter Jackson Bate Fellow, MIT, music composition: “Cantata Averno.”Robert Self, Burkhardt Fellow, Brown University, history: “The Politics of Gender and Sexuality in the U.S. from Watts to Reagan.”Qin Shao, College of New Jersey, history: “Demolition: Housing Reform and Conflict in Urban China, 1980–2005.”Kay Shelemay, Harvard, musicology: “Ethiopian Christian Creativity in Transnational Perspective.”Martin Summers, Burkhardt Fellow, University of Oregon, history: “Race, Madness, and the State: A History of African American Patients at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, 1855–1970.”Megan Sweeney, Bunting Fellow, University of Michigan, cultural studies: “Reckonings: Cultures of Reading in Women’s Prisons.”Emma Teng, Burkhardt Fellow, MIT, Chinese studies: “The Chinese Eurasian: East-West Interracialism at the Turn of the 20th Century.”Magdalena Teter, Emeline Bigelow Conland Fellow, Wesleyan University, history: “An Anatomy of Religious Violence: Jews and Christians in Premodern Poland.”Jane Wang, Cornell University, biophysics: “Evolution of Efficient Locomotion in Fluids: Paper Falling, Insect and Bird Flight, and Fish Swimming.”Kate (Katherine) Wheeler, Frieda L. Miller Fellowship, Tufts University, fiction: “The Guru’s Wife.”Wendy Wood, Helen Putnam Fellow, Duke University, psychology: “Psychology of Gender: Evolutionary and Social Structural Influences on Mate Preferences.”*fall onlyThe 2008–09 fellowship applications for creative artists, humanists, and social scientists are due Oct. 1, 2007; applications for natural scientists and mathematicians are due Dec. 3, 2007 (postmarked for materials sent by mail). For more information about the fellowship program, call (617) 495-8212 or visithttp://www.radcliffe.edu/fellowships.last_img read more

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Career forum, June 12

first_imgEmployment Services, collaborating with a University-wide organizing committee, will host its ninth annual career forum on June 12. The event will be held at the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Gund Hall, 48 Quincy St. and will be open to the public from 4 to 6:30 p.m.The career forum will open to internal candidates only at 3 p.m. Individuals must present a Harvard ID to gain admission during this period. Employees and recently laid-off employees will be able to receive individual attention from hiring areas at this time.This year’s forum will also feature the job search workshop “Standing Out to an Outstanding Employer,” as well as “Express Resume Review” and a variety of other job search resources. For more information about this event, visithttp://www.employment.harvard.edu.last_img read more

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Researchers look at antidepressants and risk of suicide among kids

first_imgWhich is more likely to push a depressed child to suicide: not taking antidepressant drugs or taking antidepressant drugs?Medical experts have struggled with this question at least since 1990 when Harvard researchers reported that six people developed suicidal feelings soon after taking Prozac (fluoxetine). This was the first of the now widely prescribed serotonin drugs to ease depression. Called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, such medications ease the problems of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive behavior by decreasing the activity of a brain chemical known to affect moods.Despite the 1990 reports, doctors had, by 2002, begun prescribing these drugs for children and adolescents. “The Food and Drug Administration had not granted specific approval for this, but ‘off-label’ prescribing is a common and accepted practice,” notes an article in the July issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. In 2003, the FDA went ahead and approved Prozac for treating depression in people 18 years and younger.Since then, a variety of SSRIs have been cleared for treating major depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder for adults. However, since 2003, reports of young users committing or attempting suicide had become too numerous to ignore.The following year, the FDA reported the results of 24 tests involving 11 antidepressants and almost 4,500 children and adolescents. The agency concluded that the drugs involved a doubling of the risk for suicidal behavior. Four percent of young people taking antidepressants, compared with 2 percent of those taking dummy pills, “were found to have definitely or possibly thought about killing themselves or taken actions that might have led to suicide,” according to the Harvard review.The happy ending to this story is that no one in any of the studies actually committed suicide.Black-box warningsBy 2004, the FDA ordered so called black-box warnings — the most serious alerts — added to all labels on antidepressant medications. The warning clearly states that antidepressants raise the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children and adolescents.That action did not end the controversy. In 2005, the American Medical Association adopted a resolution saying that antidepressants had not been proven to raise the number of completed suicides in people 18 years and younger, and that children “should not be denied possibly life-saving medication on the basis of equivocal evidence.”With the ball back in its court, the FDA asked drugmakers to provide information from medical trials of suicidal behavior and thinking among adults treated with antidepressants. The results, which involved more than 100,000 adults, were announced in 2006. The data revealed a slightly higher risk for suicidal thinking and behavior in people up to age 25. No differences were found at ages 25 to 30. A slightly decreased risk was found for those 30 years and older, and that risk declined further after age 65.By May of this year, FDA advisers recommended adding a postscript to the black-box warning, calling attention to the protective effect of antidepressants for older people and to the suicide risk of untreated mental illness.About the same time, an analysis of more than 5,000 patients age 19 and younger concluded that antidepressants can be effective for treating not only major depression but anxieties and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Results were greatest for anxiety and smallest for depression. The researchers, from the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, estimated that an antidepressant would be helpful for one out of every three young patients treated for anxiety, one of every six for obsessive-compulsive behavior, and one of every 10, or 10 percent, of youngsters with major depression. These results appeared in the April 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.This analysis also found an age difference. Most of the drugs helped only adolescents, those more than 12 years old. Prozac, alone, was effective for those 12 years and younger. At present, Prozac is the sole drug approved by the FDA for treating depressed children.Another study, reported last year in the Archives of General Psychiatry, also found an age difference. Each of 263 patients hospitalized for depression who attempted or committed suicide was matched with hospitalized depressed patients who were not suicidal. Use of antidepressants was not more common among those 19 and older who became suicidal than among those who did not. But of patients 18 years and younger who attempted suicide, 46 percent had taken antidepressants compared with 36 percent who did not.Three of eight young people who died by suicide had taken antidepressants. However, patients who attempted or completed suicides were not more likely to have taken SSRIs, except for Zoloft. Rather, they were more likely to be taking the newer antidepressant Effexor (venlafaxine) or one of the older drugs known as tricyclic antidepressants.Decreasing the riskSome people argue that any risk of suicide cannot possibly justify treating children with antidepressants. But the authors of the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic report conclude, “The strength of the evidence presented here supports the cautious and well-monitored use of antidepressants….”The Harvard Mental Health Letter agrees. The best way to get the benefit while decreasing the risk, it says, is careful monitoring and regular follow-up by a doctor. Parents should contact the doctor, the article warns, if a child shows a noticeable shift in behavior: “Examples are a change in appetite, sleep, or energy, becoming anxious, irritable, hostile, or socially withdrawn, or revealing uncharacteristic thoughts or preoccupations. The danger is greatest in the first few weeks after starting a new medication or changing the dose.”Mental disorders like depression and anxiety are serious risk factors for suicide. “So, for many adults and children, antidepressants can make a vital contribution to reducing suicide risk,” the Harvard review article concludes. Not taking advantage of the benefits of antidepressants may ultimately put children and adolescents at a higher risk for suicide.last_img read more

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How Sputnik changed U.S. education

first_imgEducation experts said Oct. 4 that the United States may be overdue for a science education overhaul like the one undertaken after the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite 50 years ago, and predicted that a window for change may open as the Iraq war winds down.Though Sputnik was a relatively simple satellite compared with the more complex machines to follow, its beeping signal from space galvanized the United States to enact reforms in science and engineering education so that the nation could regain technological ground it appeared to have lost to its Soviet rival.Sputnik’s radio signal highlighted not only the fact that the Soviet Union had beaten the United States into space, it also made it clear the Soviets possessed rocket technology strong enough to launch nuclear bombs at the United States.Speakers at Thursday’s panel discussion about the educational impact of the Sputnik launch, sponsored by the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), said that the nation responded to the security threat by targeting education, a reaction it has repeated since, including after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.The post-Sputnik reforms were put in the hands of scientists, much to the dismay of some educators and concerned citizens who had previously had enormous input on curriculum design. Several of the changes, such as including hands-on laboratory experience, remain in use today, the speakers said.The Oct. 4 panel included Frank Baumgartner, professor of political science at Pennsylvania State University; John Rudolph, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and Tina Grotzer, assistant professor of education at HGSE. It was hosted by Harvard doctoral students Brent Maddin and Rebecca Miller.Maddin said that Sputnik woke the nation up, serving as a “focusing event” that put a spotlight on a national problem. In this case, he said, the problem was education. Congress responded a year later with the National Defense Education Act, which increased funding for education at all levels, including low-interest student loans to college students, with the focus on scientific and technical education.Miller said that pattern has been repeated in the decades since, including post-9/11 and more recently, with a focus not on terrorism, but on global economic competition.“Decades after Sputnik burned in the atmosphere, we’re still talking about science education as a means of security,” Miller said.While Sputnik may have been a focusing event, Rudolph said changes to the U.S. educational system had been in the works for years. Education reforms began in the early 1950s and were spurred by investment from the National Science Foundation. Perhaps more significant than Sputnik, he said, were two events in 1955, the publication of a book on “Soviet Professional Manpower” and the Soviet detonation of the hydrogen bomb.In 1957, Rudolph said, Sputnik’s launch further embarrassed the nation, shocking it into action.“We were getting outworked by conscientious, dedicated Russian students,” Rudolph said. “The launch revealed missile technology that could deliver a bomb to the U.S. … Sputnik raised the stakes.”While Rudolph said it may be time for another round of reforms, Baumgartner said that that was far easier said than done.Baumgartner said the political agenda is crowded these days, and it is difficult to get politicians to focus on any particular issue. The Iraq war and the war on terror take up not only a lot of politicians’ time and energy, they do the same for the public, limiting the attention citizens pay to issues such as education reform.Still, he said, government typically grows during wartime and then shrinks again when wars end, but never back to the prewar level. That presents an opportunity when a conflict ends to not only get reforms enacted, but to get them funded.Baumgartner cautioned, however, that education is an issue in which many are interested. A national debate over education reform will draw many players into the arena, some of whom have conflicting agendas.“There’re a lot of people in America that don’t like science,” Baumgartner said. “You have to be careful what you wish for when something like education rises to the front pages. Not only scientists respond. Others who have very serious agendas and political power [are also interested].”Education reform may be easier to pass in legislation than to realize in the classroom, Grotzer said. Teaching science is challenging, requiring debunking common misconceptions and conceptual progressions that require skilled teachers and which take students from a base knowledge to the understanding of higher concepts.“The very, very best science teachers with very, very deep understanding of scientific concepts often struggle teaching certain concepts to students,” Grotzer said.last_img read more

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The cultural politics of pain, from Percodan to Kevorkian

first_imgOn a rainy Tuesday afternoon, physicians, historians of science, and members of the general public gathered in the  Gymnasium at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study to hear about pain. Keith Wailoo, Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of History and founding director of the Center for Race and Ethnicity at Rutgers University, began a lecture entitled “The Cultural Politics of Pain in America, from Percodan to Kevorkian, with a New Yorker cartoon. In it, a doctor and a patient are talking in a hospital room, and the doctor is saying, “we can give you enough medication to alleviate the pain but not enough to make it fun.” This cartoon, Wailoo explains as he begins his Dean’s Lecture Series talk, highlights the question he is asking in his current work, “why is pain medicine subject to such ongoing controversy?” The field of pain medication, Wailoo says, is rife with cultural and political tensions, which he outlines from the 1950s up until today. Among the most prominent problems, according to Wailoo, is the fact that pain is subjective. “It’s dependent on the patients’ representation of their feelings,” he says, unlike vital signs such as temperature and blood pressure, which can be measured and quantified. This subjectivity makes pain medicine a murky area. What kind of pain is the patient experiencing and how should a doctor treat it in the absence of physiological measures? Should a patient receive pain relief medication because he says he’s in pain? If a person believes that pain is pain and always merits medical attention, then the question of whether to administer medication may seem to be a no-brainer. But where there’s pain medication, there’s potential for addiction – which further muddies the medical waters and opens up another flood-gate in the pain debate. “Will one problem [the potentially addictive medication] replace the first problem [the pain]?” Wailoo asks rhetorically. Is addiction a risk a doctor should allow?End of life care and euthanasia pose a third problem, Wailoo says. Some drugs, such as morphine, suppress blood pressure and can provide tremendous pain relief, but can also hasten death. What is the right course of action in those cases? Should a physician relieve pain and risk hastening death, or leave the patient living longer in pain? If these questions aren’t fraught enough, consider the role of culture in people’s experiences with pain. In some cultures, says Wailoo, whose current project is a study entitled “The cultural politics of pain: medicine, society, and the struggle for relief in America, the “grin and bear it” approach to pain is not only acceptable but noble. And in some religious groups, “the idea that pain is somehow redemptive” may keep patients from accepting pain relief.With this introduction, Wailoo has set up the problem of pain treatment. He goes on to show how the subject has been approached in the past five decades.According to Wailoo, the medical community in the 1950s had a hard-nosed view of pain. He offers a startling quote from a 1957 California Symposium on Pain: “patients in chronic pain are worthy of study but not necessarily worthy of sympathy.” This was the backdrop for medical assessment and treatment of pain.In that era, surgery was a well accepted mode of relief for severe and persistent pain. Lobotomies were among the surgical solutions to problems of chronic pain. Also around that time, the medical community began to expand its use of Percodan, a drug which was thought to provide the same kind of relief that morphine might, but without the danger of addiction. By the 1960s, according to Wailoo, it became clear that the promise of an addiction-free pain drug was not to be found in Percodan. He quotes the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement as having said “people are eating Percodan as though it were popcorn,” creating “a new class of addicts composed of otherwise honest, not criminally inclined persons.” Percodan could be used recreationally, and this kind of recreation corrupted.In the late 1960s, the previously acceptable surgical pain remedies also came into question. The Gate Control Theory of pain started buzzing around the medical community. The theory was part of the growing liberal trends in American culture and medicine and the idea was that pain is not just a matter of pulsating nerves – “It’s expectations, it’s psychology, it’s past history, context and personality,” Wailoo explains. By the 1970s, he says, the field of pain medicine began to develop as a legitimate field, and cancer patients and the hospice movement were instrumental in the rise of palliative care and pain management.Ironically, by the time of the Regan era, the medical view of pain tended to be a liberal one.  As Wailoo puts it: “I don’t know if you’re in pain but I’ll take your word for it.” But questions arose about the government’s role in pain management. For instance, the question was asked: which patients deserved social security disability and to what extent could their descriptions of pain affect their claim?In the last 15 years, Wailoo says, the debate has turned to the boundaries between palliative care and the right to die. The Kevorkian trials, in which the infamous doctor was accused of killing his patients, raised questions about how doctors might opt for aggressive pain treatments without fear of repercussion. Kevorkian went to court multiple times on charges related to assisted suicide. But he was acquitted each time, says Wailoo, because he claimed he had provided pain relief for his patients and their deaths were a result of that pain relief. It was only when Kevorkian was charged with homicide, which precluded the pain relief defense, that he was convicted.In response to an audience question, Wailoo also addresses hot legal debate surrounding death: the case of lethal injections administered to carry out death sentences. The compelling argument, he says, is that those injected are in pain but they can’t show it. Pain, he says, “intersects with … cultural dramaturgy, in other words, what we say about pain often has to do with a performance of it. Pain becomes legitimate because it’s performed in a certain way.” For example, he says, “if you clench your teeth or double over…that scene is more legitimate” than if you don’t express pain in a way that makes it easy for others to identify. In the case of lethal injections, some argue that one of the administered drugs causes excruciating pain, but another causes complete paralysis, which makes it impossible for the condemned individual to express the pain.With this tour of the history of pain relief from Percodan to Kevorkian, Wailoo turns back to his original question: why is treatment of pain so controversial? “Pain medicine has never existed by itself,” Wailoo says, “it’s always been part of broader cultural politics.” Pain medicine is pain politics, he says. It involves questions about the subjectivity of pain, the dangers of addiction, end of life politics and cultural and political trends which change with the decades.“There’s a disturbing cultural backdrop,” Wailoo says, “ideological tussles between liberal and conservative trends which unbeknownst to you…are always there shaping the decisions that doctors and patients make about heath care.”last_img read more

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Flu vaccinations offered

first_imgHarvard University Health Services (HUHS) is offering free flu shots to members of the Harvard community.No appointment is needed. Walk-in hours at HUHS offices on the second floor of Holyoke Center are noon to 3 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, now through December, except on Dec. 24 and 25.The clinics are open to all Harvard University faculty, staff, and students with a valid Harvard ID or HUGHP ID. For more information, call the Flu Information Line at (617) 496-2288.Parents who wish to have their children vaccinated need to make an appointment through HUHS Pediatric Services by calling (617) 495-4172.Flu vaccinations will also be made available at Harvard’s professional Schools in Boston and Cambridge. Check the HUHS Web site for a full schedule,http://huhs.harvard.edu.last_img read more

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