Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘health and medical


The books for the TBR list just keep piling up. Maybe I will get to reincarnate so I can come back and read some more.

Items about books:

  • One for the hardcore horror film fan perhaps. I will admit that I know little of the more obscure and/or independently made horror films. This book may help fix that gap. The book is Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990. It is discussed at Bookgasm.
  • Also via Bookgasm, one for foodies, although I will warn it is not just about fancy food. The review is for an anthology of comics (some indie, some maybe a bit more mainstream) that share a common theme of food, consumption, and digestion. The book is Digestate: a food and eating themed anthology.
  • Let’s go with a bit of Japanese science fiction in translation with The Lord of the Sands of Time. It is reviewed at Contemporary Japanese Literature.
  • A couple of shop items so to speak for the librarian. One is UContent: the Information Professional’s Guide to User-Generated Content. (Reviewed here). The other is Transforming Information Literacy Instruction Using Learner-Centered Teaching (reviewed here). Of the two, I am interested more in the second one since I am an instruction librarian. The first one, though it interests me also as instruction librarian as well as blogger, I am bit more skeptical by now. After all, it is at least four years old by now, and in Internet years, that is like 20 years or so in normal years.
  • For something different, speculative fiction inspired by the Ramayana (yes, that Ramayana). I have read the Ramayana, but it was years ago. I may have to reread it down the road. So now, we get this book: Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana. Of course I had to add it to my TBR list. The book was mentioned in the Literary Salon.
  • Good manners are something that I consider important, and books on the topic, whether old or modern guides, interest me. So, I am adding The Butler Speaks to my list. It was reviewed at San Francisco Book Review. Maybe the world would be a better place if people minded their manners, maybe more if parents actually knew manners and taught them to their children.
  • Via A Case for Suitable Treatment, a review of a manga title, first in a series, I have wanted to try out. The book in question is 07-Ghost, Volume 1.
  • Via habitually probing generalist, a short review of A Most Imperfect Union. Often, I would not bother with a book when a reliable source is lukewarm about it, but I have read other works of both Stavans and Alcaraz such as Latino USA, so I am too curious not to try this out.
  • Another one from a librarian. The Lowrider Librarian says this is a book your library needs, and given recent events, I believe it. The books is Cannabis Pharmacy, and it can make a timely addition as cannabis and marijuana continue to gain legal status and acceptance in the United States.
  • Star Wars novels can be hit and miss for me. I have read some I liked, and some that I did not like. A book I did enjoy was James Luceno’s Star Wars: Dark Lord: the Rise of Darth Vader (link to my review. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars at the time). However, I also recently read Kenobi by John Jackson Miller, which I do not recall as fondly. So the quality often depends on the author. At any rate, Luceno has a new book out: Tarkin, about the Grand Moff who commanded the Death Star. Naturally, my curiosity and the fact I enjoy Star Wars means I will probably look it up down the road. Tarkin was reviewed at BuzzyMag.
  • Interested in health care issues in the United States? Want to learn how bad the health care system is in the U.S. and pretty much how politicians, insurance companies, and a lot of money pretty much assure it stays that way? Then maybe America’s Bitter Pill may be the book for you. It was recommended by the folks at Powell’s Books.
  • For me, a new Neil Gaiman book is always of interest, and he has a new short fiction collection out. The book is Trigger Warning, and it was reviewed at Bookgasm.
  • I do like a good plate of well made noodles. One of the things I miss about living in Houston back in the day is you could find a good noodle house or two. Berea lacks such a place. I am not, however, a fan of the instant noodles. But I am interested in a book about how noodles have been turned into a commodity, whether instant or not. The book is The Noodle Narratives, and it was mentioned at Food Politics.
  • Food Politics also mentions a book about lentils and sustainable farming that sounded interesting. The book is Lentil Underground.


Lists and bibliographies:

  • These days, that Shades book is getting a lot of hype again because of the upcoming movie. It seems every other woman in the U.S. is creaming her panties to go see it. May the deity of choice have mercy on any boyfriend or spouse dragged into that torture. I thank the deity of choice The Better Half has better taste when it comes to erotica. At any rate, whether you need something to tide you over until the movie or, better yet, you want something better in terms of quality and writing skill than that one book, here is a small list of books beyond that one book from Shelf Talk.
  • Once again, if interested, the folks at BookFinder have done their annual report on out-of-print and in demand books. Madonna’s Sex is not number one, but it is still in the top five.
  • Via Bookgasm, a list of Euro-comics with a theme of “Getting TANKed.”
  • In 2014, one of my reading challenges allowed for reading novels based on games and video games. I could have used this list to get a few more ideas of what to read. List via Book Riot.
  • The Unshelved comic strip devotes one day a week to do book reviews. Here is their review of the Preacher comic series, which I have been meaning to read.
  • Via Sounds and Colours, a list of “the best books on street art in Latin America.” A bit from the article, “in Latin America, street art is of major cultural relevance. The region’s traditions of social movements and revolution have allowed the form to give voice to otherwise unheard sectors of the population. Of course, not all street art is politically or socially-oriented in content, but it does often provide insight into specific objectives and ideals.”
  • I am not a gardener (I would not mind becoming one, but I just do not have the time or space at the moment). However, I do find some books on the topic interesting. If you have an interest in gardening, perhaps you are a gardener yourself, this may be of interest.  Via Poor as Folk, here is a list of “best food and gardening books of 2014.
  • Need to boost the creativity a bit? Via Little Dumb Man, here is a list of “10 great books that will books your creativity.”
  • Want to be scared? Want to read some real life horror? Do you like medical subjects? Then this list may be for you. Via The Booklist Reader, here is “Contagious Reading: Scary Medical Books Where the Truth Reads Like Fiction.
Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.


Here is the list of books I reviewed during the month of April 2014. The links lead to my book review blog, The Itinerant Librarian. These are not all the books I read in the month. They are the books I managed to write a review during the month. Feel free to click the links and check them out. Comments are always welcome here or over on the main blog.

  • Simon Oliver’s FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics, Vol. 1. We find ourselves in a world where the laws of physics are suddenly no longer set in stone: gravity fails in places, wormholes appear out of nowhere, and so on. By now, these events are so common that the federal government has an agency to deal with them: the Federal Bureau of Physics (FBP).
  • Matz’s The Killer Omnibus, Vol. 1. This was a great discovery for me, a hit man who is also a very practical man. I am listing this one as one of the best reading experiences I have recently enjoyed.
  • The New Naked: The Ultimate Education for Grown-Ups. I pretty much bucked the system on this one. It seems a good number of hotshot reviewers (read professional reviewers and such) like this one. I thought it was not worth it, and it even has some amounts of misinformation and stereotyping. One I do not recommend both as reader and librarian.
  • Carol Leifer offers great advice about career and life in her new book How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying. In addition to her stand-up comedy, Leifer is known for her writing on popular television shows like Seinfeld.
  • Instead of post-apocalyptic, go pre-apocalyptic in Sheltered, Vol. 1. This volume compiles the first five issues of the series.
  • Here is one for librarians who do readers’ advisory and need a little help in the horror genre. The book is the second edition of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror. I found it useful, and I even jotted down a few of their book suggestions to read later. So, stay tuned. I may be reviewing some more horror titles down the road.
  • If you like the video game Mass Effect, you might like Mass Effect: Foundation, Vol. 1. For this one, I found that it may be better enjoyed if you play the game or at least are familiar with the game’s storylines and characters.
  • From video games, let’s move to good classic pulp heroes. The Green Hornet and The Shadow team up in The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights. This is much more than an adventure tale. It is a very good piece of alternate history that is carefully researched for accuracy and authenticity. History buffs will be delighted with the many references, trivia pieces, and historical figures making appearances.
  • And finally one for folks who enjoy fairy tale retellings and re-envisionings. By Pat Shand, we have Realm Knights. This is part of the Grimm Fairy Tales Presents series from Zenescope.


Once I left school teaching and graduate school, I embraced the philosophy of leaving work at work at the end of the day. Once I walk out the door at the end of the day, work stays there. My home time is exactly that: mine and at home. Besides, the bosses do not pay overtime, so they are not getting anything extra. One has to learn to keep a life balance and boundaries.

Via Lifehacker, this short video of a talk by Pam Selle is a must watch (link to post with the video). A little FTA: “Time is money. When you work extra hours, you’re earning less money.” In other words, unless you get overtime (and even then, be selective if you choose to go for the overtime), they are not paying you for it. So tell them you are going home. Do your work at work (don’t slack much), then leave work at work.

The video itself, from YouTube:

I found this post over at Dumb Little Man interesting and relevant. The post’s title is “How to Know When to Quit.” With the cultural imperative that gets shoved down our throats since childhood about winning and not quitting, I think this post deserves to be read and applies. That whole thing about not quitting no matter what is a load of male bovine excrement. There are going to be moments in life when you will have to quit something– a field of study, a job, a project, so on– for various reasons. You should know when to call it quits and move on to something else. The author of the post, Ali Hale, gives a list of signs to look for. I am going to list the signs, but you should go over and read the post to learn more:

  1. “You just wish it was over.”
  2. “There’s no end in sight.”
  3. “You’re not gaining anything new.”
  4. “Your priorities have radically changed.”

She also goes on to write, “there is absolutely no shame in quitting. In fact, it can take a lot of maturity and bravery to stand up and say ‘I quit'”. Exactly. Anyone can keep going, and he or she can keep crashing in the same wall, treading water, whatever metaphor you want to use. They can sound tough and resilient, but in the end, if the only real option is quitting, and they refuse to do so, they are just fools. Have the maturity and bravery to quit when it is the right time.

And then move on. Life is too short to waste it something you should have quit sooner.


My two readers might know that I write a semi-regular feature for our library blog entitled "Reference Book of the Week." What I usually do is look over a specific reference book, see what makes it useful, and highlight why someone would want to use it. Here is a sample post, the one I wrote for the Digest of Education Statistics. I was going to write a post for the DSM IV, but I came across a few issues. Anyhow, while I chose not to publish the post in the library blog, I still wanted to make a note of my observations about the book and share them. Do note that while I link to the Wikipedia article on the DSM IV for convenience here, it is something I would not do on the library's blog (even though I think that at times Wikipedia can have its uses for quick ready reference).

One of the prominent issues with the book is that it is not terribly intuitive. It is meant to be used by trained practitioners. This probably explains why I get the occasional student complain about how difficult it is to use. It takes some time to go through it and learn how to find what you need.

What follows is the draft I started for the library's blog:

* * * *

The DSM IV, currently in its fourth edition, is the classification manual for mental disorders. It is used by clinicians and researchers in various fields such as biology, social work, psychology and psychiatry, counseling, etc. This manual is the result of a long journey to classify and define mental disorders and illnesses that started with a desire to gather mental health statistics. When did the effort start? According to the manual's introduction, "what might be considered the first official attempt to gather information about mental illness in the United States was the recording of the frequency of one category– 'idiocy/insanity' in the 1840 census" (xxv). Over time, the American Psychiatric Association, in collaboration with other groups, developed the vocabulary and definitions that eventually became the DSM. The DSM basically provides criteria to diagnose a mental disorder, and the clinician doing the diagnosis would follow that criteria using a specified assessment system (the multiaxial system) to reach a diagnosis.

* * * *

Next are other things I wanted to write about or include in the draft:

  • The manual has become a medical billing tool. Government and many insurance companies often require a specific diagnosis to approve payment for treatment. This issue does raise some questions about the use of the manual for things other than its stated purpose, and I think it is something that students should recognize. I think it may also make for a good information literacy lesson in terms of questioning a source.
  • The compilers of the manual have been very inflexible in terms of making changes. In addition, there have been and continue to be controversies over the DSM. For instance, the notable inclusion of homosexuality as a disease; homosexuality was not removed until 1974, and to this day a lot of religious and political interests, which have nothing to do with science, continue to grouse over the 1974 removal of homosexuality from the DSM. In addition, the most current edition, the DSM IV TR (text revision) still includes sex-related diagnoses on the basis of sexual paraphilias (fetishes) for instance. I am sure any consenting adult who enjoys a little fetish play has a thing or two to say about that. Overall what this illustrates is that there are political and religious interests trying to bring influence to the scientific endeavor, plus keep in mind that those compiling the book have had their own interests as well. This is definitely the kind of thing that I think should be discussed with students, but I could not bring myself to write about it in the library blog, which is considered an official forum, and given certain community sensibilities, bringing up something like sexual paraphilias, even to make a point, could get me in hot water. I have to choose my battles.
  • In the end, what I would want students to take away from this is that the DSM IV is a very specific reference book, to be used mostly by trained professionals, but that it is not without controversy. The book is not infallible. In fact, it has been edited and changed over time as we gain new knowledge or realize that something should not have been labeled a mental disease in the first place.

And there are my thoughts as I learned a bit about this manual.

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I do this because someone has to help fight ignorance and educate others. I do it because I am a librarian, and as such it is my mission to provide accurate, reliable information to my patrons and readers. I do it because it is the right thing to do. I did not realize it, but the last time I did this was back in 2005. Time flies, and a lot has changed since then. I am glad that, in spite of my busy days, I am able to take some time to blog about this. This December 1 marks the 21st anniversary of World AIDS Day. Did you know that a total of 33 million people now live with HIV/AIDS, and more than one million of them live in the U.S. ? Here is another fact:

Every 9½ minutes someone in the US is infected with HIV. I got the facts. Act Against AIDS:

The badge above comes for the Nine And a Half Minutes website, created by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). I found that and other links with a little bit of searching and digging. This is not an exhaustive list. It is meant to give folks a place to start in terms of gathering information and getting educated. It is also meant to provide a small sample of what is available out there. As always, if you have questions, you can visit your local reference librarian. My professional friends and I will be happy to help out.

You can start learning more by visiting the U.S. Government's site: AIDS.GOV: Access to U.S. Government HIV / AIDS information
Visit Access to U.S. Government HIV/AIDS information.

This site is an information portal with a lot of information and resources from how to find a testing site to educational materials. From the site, "provides access to Federal HIV/AIDS information through a variety of new media channels, and supports the use of new media tools by Federal and community partners to improve domestic HIV programs serving minority and other communities most at-risk for, or living with, HIV." They also have a blog, which you might consider looking over and adding to your feed reader here.

Medline Plus has a topic page on AIDS that may be of interest. It includes interactive tutorials, news, medical information, and even materials for our Spanish-speaking friends.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also has an AIDS/HIV Awareness page here. It includes a nice overview of the history of World AIDS Day here, with facts and resources. For example, did you know that "the World Health Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988."

If you have a spiritual bent, the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church has a page of "Worship Resources for World AIDS Day." It is a small collection of poems, prayers, and inspirational stories. They also have a resource page. I am putting this as an example that there are some religious groups who actually care.

Here you can find UNAIDS (The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS). You can find links to various publications, art, blogs, and resources. You can find statements about World AIDS Day from various UN officials here. Some are videos, others are text.

And here is the site of the World AIDS Campaign.

Over here is the British National AIDS Trust's site for World AIDS Day.

Over here is the site for the Light For Rights Campaign. From the site, "Light For Rights events are happening in cities and towns all over the world and will bring thousands of people together on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2009, to honor those we have lost to AIDS and to highlight the fundamental rights we all share. "

If you want to learn more about the legal angle and rights, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has a World AIDS Day page discussing their advocacy work to prevent discrimination against those with HIV and AIDS as well as other resources.

And I just found this website for the National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. The NLAAD actually takes place on October 15th (I did not know this. Just learned it now). However, I am adding it to this list because it provides much needed information and perspective for the Latino community. You can find a variety of resources here as well. The video they feature on the front page is worth watching.

In the state, I could not find as much. The press release that UT San Antonio is hosting some events came up. You can read about it here. "Activities will include a poetry slam, free HIV testing, awareness expo, candlelight vigil, music and a photo booth where students will get the chance to personalize a statement on how they will "face" HIV/AIDS." This should be the type of thing that more campuses here in Texas, and in the United States should be doing (and yes, I am looking at my own campus, which shines by its absence).

However, you can get some additional information on AIDS/HIV via the Texas Department of State Health Services. This was not as easy to find, so I am happy to dig it out for any locals out there.

And after some very deep digging, I managed to find the site for Tyler AIDS Services. This "is a full-service HIV/AIDS facility serving Tyler/Longview and many of the 32 North East Texas communities. " I am glad to see there is a local resource. I always try to include local things on posts like these when I find them.

(Crossposted to The Itinerant Librarian and from The Gypsy Librarian).

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Here we go again. This time around, the inspiration for me to do this is that a couple of my colleagues are suggesting that the library make an actual research guide on the topic of "health care management" using the LibGuides system we have in place. I personally have been thinking about making some kind of post on the topic for the library blog, but I think by now the topic is a bit big for just a blog post. In the case of the blog post, I was thinking of providing some general resources and some advice on how to evaluate the resources. Because I think it is easy to find information on the issue. It is also very easy to find a lot of misinformation based on FUD tactics, so people need to not only be informed, but they need to be able to evaluate the claims they find. So, what it may be worth, here is the latest stuff I have found.

  • From the American Academy of Actuaries (these are the folks whose job it is to calculate risks and then assess value. For instance, when it comes to insurance, these are the folks who decide who gets rejected, like that baby that was too fat in recent news. If you want a less snarky definition of what is an actuary, you can look here). The report basically suggests costs necessary for starting up a public health option or a health coops option. Links to news release and to the full study. Title of the report is "Federal Health Care Reform 2009: Start-up Capital Costs for Health Care Co-ops and a Public Plan." 
  • The Commonwealth Fund, a think tank with an interest in health care issues, has released results of their survey of health care leaders asking them about health care (link to news release; you can get a link to the full survey report at the site).Those surveyed are discussing Medicare and how it can be expanded. One of the reasons to look at Medicare is because it is a U.S. Government program. Yes, it is run by the government, so when certain people gripe about not wanting the government to run their health care insurance, I ask them if they want to give up their Medicare. You can insert the silence and sound of crickets now.
  • (Update note: 11/5/09): Just found this. This is the take of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the lobbyists for small businesses, on "The Top 15 Reasons Small Business Oppose H.R. 3962." Before folks buy too deeply into this, may I suggest they go do some reading over at FactCheck
  • (Update note: 11/9/09): From the Employment Benefit Research Institute, an issue brief on "Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Insured: Analysis of the 2009 Current Population Survey" (link to executive summary. You can also get the full document on that link). Worth a look.

As before, in case the random reader that finds this blog is interested, you can find my previous posts on this topic here, here, here, and here.

In addition, I saved this video on my feed reader's clippings folder. Naturally, this is not something I would give to my students as part of their research, though I would probably still urge them to watch it as an example of how the message is being transmitted. I think we need to be sharing it more because the message is an important

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May 2020


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