We humans are a strange lot. When we are not busy deluding ourselves into thinking we’re going to live forever, we’re busy being anxious that we are going to die a horrible death, courtesy of a shark, plane crash or bolt of lightning. And if we somehow avoid those catastrophes, certainly the terrorists will get us.
During Donald Trump’s inauguration speech, he spoke puzzlingly of "American carnage," a crime wave sweeping the United States that to listen to him, had Americans cowering in their homes, afraid to walk the streets. But the truth, as is usually the case with our 45th president, is somewhat different. The crime rate in the U.S., while slightly higher than past years, is still at a historically low point in modern history.
Ask any American for some medical advice and you're sure to get an earful. Everybody, it seems, has a surefire cure for the common cold, hangover or sore throat. But how much can you trust that advice? Maybe not so much. In a world where, according to one survey by the Pew Health Group, almost half of the respondents thought antibiotics were effective against the common cold or flu (the answer to that is a big fat no, in case you were wondering), one should be exceedingly careful about the source of one's medical information.
The United States may be the world’s only true “superpower,” but when it comes to average life expectancy, we might as well be a third-world banana republic. Despite our enormous wealth relative to the rest of the world, the U.S., with an average life expectancy of just under 80 years old, ranks just 42nd in the world, behind such world powers as Monaco (89.5 years), Luxembourg (82.3 years), Liechtenstein (81.9 years), Norway (81.8 years), and the Cayman Islands (81.2 years). If Republican health care proponents get their way and succeed in repealing the Affordable Health Care Act, there is little doubt America will slide even further down the list.
Descriptions of near-death experiences have become somewhat familiar. “I’m unconscious. Floating above myself. I see people gathered around my unmoving body. I am traveling through a tunnel. People I have loved and lost are waiting at the end of the tunnel for me. There is a bright light that brings me peace and a feeling of love. I am pulled back through the tunnel. I don’t want to go. I wake up to find I am alive. I have a feeling of peace and spirituality that I did not have before I died.”
President-elect Donald J. Trump regularly boasts he’s the biggest winner, makes the biggest deals, and appoints the best people, and recently he claimed he’ll be the biggest job creator god ever created. He also brags that he does all these amazing things on next to no sleep. This 70-year-old pre-adolescent made numerous boasts on the campaign trail last year about his sleeping habits, saying he sometimes gets as little as an hour’s sleep a night. Most nights, Trump says he gets by on just three or four hours of sleep, which is half of the amount sleep experts recommend. “I have a great temperament for success,” he told the Chicago Tribune at an event in Illinois last November. “You know, I’m not a big sleeper, I like three hours, four hours, I toss, I turn, I beep-de-beep, I want to find out what’s going on.”
If you’ve ever been in a hospital and been treated by a resident instead of a full-fledged doctor, you may have noticed a few things. Your doctor may have looked a bit disheveled, may have been somewhat curt or cranky, or even a bit too happy given the medical circumstances. The doctor may even have had a distinct unpleasant odor. The reason for all this can be summed up in one word: sleep. Or rather, lack of sleep. Residents often work killer shifts of 30 hours or more in a row. The lack of sleep can result in severe health issues for the sleep-deprived; not just hospital residents, but for all of us who don’t get enough shuteye.
If there was ever any doubt that conspiracy theories course through the dark, troubled mind of Donald Trump, his tweets in the weeks since he won the election should dispel that notion. Hot and bothered by the inconvenient fact that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by more than 2 million votes (and counting) and that he is president due only to the questionable decision by James Madison to deny direct voter election of our presidents and instead delegate that task to an Electoral College, the birther-in-chief-elect took to his preferred social media platform. On November 27, Trump tweeted, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
Animal House is an almost universally loved movie among the boomer generation. Say “Toga party!” to anyone of a certain age and you are almost guaranteed a smile. The memory of John Belushi and friends drinking and drugging their way through college brings big laughs, until we ponder the fact that Belushi’s appetite for drink and drugs things in real life led to his tragic early demise.
According to a National Sleep Foundation study, 45 percent of Americans have reported that, despite getting an adequate amount of sleep (about seven and a half hours a night), they feel that the quality of their sleep is poor or only fair. And 20 percent of Americans do not wake up feeling refreshed. Sixty-seven percent of American who have reported poor or only fair quality sleep also report that their health is poor or only fair.