He’s no Captain Kirk

I don’t actually have any particularly interesting to contribute to this story about the Captain of the USS Enterprise (the link includes portions of the infamous video).  I just couldn’t resist the Captain Kirk reference.  Actually, what this mostly shows is just incredibly poor judgement.  The judgment you probably would not want in an Naval Officer in charge of a boat with 6000 sailors aboard.  That’s probably why he won’t be in charge much longer.



The world has turned

Facebook friend linked this pretty amazing graph of changes between 2000 and 2010:
2000 vs. 2010

The technology category is really pretty amazing.  We’ve got almost as many cell phone subscriptions as people now, among other things.  And given the number of people in abject poverty, that a lot of people with multiple cell phones (presumably all the drug dealers, for one).

And, just because, this graph made me think of my favorite under-appreciated Weezer song:

Political Science Kool-Aid

As you know, I’m not afraid to share some of the more unsavory things my students have written about me in course evaluations.  This one from last semester just struck me as really, really odd:

strengths- instructor has a reasonably informed grasp on the subject matter, albeit he often drinks the poli-sci koolaid and thinks polls and historical trends can explain almost all election outcomes and voting behavior;

Wow– never had an accusation like that before.  Apparently, the entire study of elections– which many people far, far smarter than I have devoted their professional lives to understanding, is little more than “poli-sci koolaid.”  I wonder if the student thinks this about all his/her classes in which the explanations the professor provide about politics don’t comport with the explanations offered by pundits.  Part of me wonders if this is just an angry Tea Party supporter who feels like I didn’t give them enough credit.  Regardless, an interesting commentary.

Treating dementia with kindness

Really interesting story in the Times about a revolutionary approach to Alzheimer’s patients: being nice to them and giving them what they want.  Apparently, standard operating practice is to be very concerned with healthy, low-fat diets, etc., but it turns out that when you can hardly remember your own family, the happiness that comes from chocolate, etc., goes a long way.

Margaret Nance was, to put it mildly, a difficult case. Agitated, combative, often reluctant to eat, she would hit staff members and fellow residents at nursing homes, several of which kicked her out. But when Beatitudes nursing home agreed to an urgent plea to accept her, all that changed.

Disregarding typical nursing-home rules, Beatitudes allowed Ms. Nance, 96 and afflicted with Alzheimer’s, to sleep, be bathed and dine whenever she wanted, even at 2 a.m. She could eat anything, too, no matter how unhealthy, including unlimited chocolate.

And she was given a baby doll, a move that seemed so jarring that a supervisor initially objected until she saw how calm Ms. Nance became when she rocked, caressed and fed her “baby,” often agreeing to eat herself after the doll “ate” several spoonfuls.

Dementia patients at Beatitudes are allowed practically anything that brings comfort, even an alcoholic “nip at night,” said Tena Alonzo, director of research. “Whatever your vice is, we’re your folks,” she said.

Once, Ms. Alonzo said: “The state tried to cite us for having chocolate on the nursing chart. They were like, ‘It’s not a medication.’ Yes, it is. It’s better than Xanax.”

It is an unusual posture for a nursing home, but Beatitudes is actually following some of the latest science. Researchsuggests that creating positive emotional experiences for Alzheimer’s patients diminishes distress and behavior problems.

I certainly did not visit my late grandmother in the nursing home as often as I should have, but reading about this certainly resonates with my personal experience.  When we last saw her there, Evan was a baby.  She was not entirely clear on exactly who we were, but she knew we were family and she knew that the baby was special.  Sadly, my grandmother was never a particularly happy women, especially in her later days, but it was amazing to see the pure emotional enjoyment she received from our visit.  Likewise, a number of other residents came out and were clearly very much enjoying being around our adorable young boys.

When in doubt, make your nursing home residents happy– sounds like a pretty smart approach.  There’s a  lot more interesting observations about typical nursing home versus the, clearly superior, Beatitudes approach.  Read it, you should.

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