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Greg Critser is a longtime science and medical journalist whose work appears in the LA Times, the Times of London and the New York Times. He is the author of California (National Geographic 2000)... Read More »


Don Rickles

The burgeoning demographics of aging, which is transforming cites and suburbia alike, recently prompted me to attend the UCLA Conference on Technology and Aging, held at the lovely Skirball Center, cultural hub of LA’s older Jewish community. The following are unedited excerpts from my diary:

9:00 am: Arrive, following hour on freeway. Write down number of parking lot space on back of hand. Will be accused of being 13-year-old girl.

I recently attended the International Developmental Biological Congress in sunny Edinburgh, Scotland. Here is my diary.

Day One

Saturday, 8:15 AM: Arrive Edinburgh hotel, early. Wait for room in hotel bar.   Soccer, a hateful game, blares at 8:30 in the morning. Bourbon appropriate?

 Saturday, 5:15 PM: Take walking tour of city. Discover no one in Scotland speaks English.

Day Two

Sunday, 1:00 PM: Pick up press credentials.  Easy because no other sane journalists here.
Thirteen percent of pregnant women in the United States have no health insurance.

The president, when not worrying about the gun nuts, wants to cover them.

One would think these facts alone might encourage some sanity,­even unity, ­in the ever-childish debate about healthcare reform. It’s a natural for the family values cult. Ditto for the meshugga anti-abortion crowd. Why, you can even imagine those terrible death panelists advocating for mommy Obammy care­, even if what they really want is to ensure a steady stream of future Soylent Green.

With Big Pharma allegedly “cooperating” with President Obama’s health care reforms, and Congress wanting to limit drug advertising, might it pay to refresh our memories about how we got here in the first place?

It's time for a quiz.  

The first to get all answers correct - via posted response - will receive a free copy of my book, Generation Rx, and a free sample of Adderall (*).

Last week, scientists announced the interim results of one of modern physiology’s most closely watched experiments: the effects of caloric restriction on the lifespan of non-human primates.

The report was maddeningly mixed.

Caloric restriction seemed to reduce the incidence of several diseases, but when it came to mortality—a somewhat important factor when it comes  to longevity— the data were  statistically not significant. We still do not know if caloric restriction works in primates, which, of course, we are.

The president wants to transform healthcare with new laws and new technology, but once upon a time, a moral bond ruled between patient and physician.

Recently, I experienced something so rare in American medicine that it often catches people up short when I relate the story. A doctor actually apologized to me. Not only that, but he admitted that he caused harm, hurt feelings and inconvenience.