[Book Review] The Lion in the Living Room

29430840Did you know that housecats are classified as one of the world’s 100 Worst Invasive Species?

Or that one of the earliest cat shows was won by a ring-tailed lemur?

Or perhaps that house cats have made virtually no evolutionary changes to adapt to a human environment? Continue reading “[Book Review] The Lion in the Living Room”

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Sex in the Sea: This Post Is Not What You Think (Or Is It?)

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“Forget the Kama Sutra. When it comes to inventive sex acts, just look to the sea.”

Well now. If there’s one way of making sure people read something important, you might as well throw some sex into it.

Sex in the Sea: Our Intimate Connection with Sex-Changing Fish, Romantic Lobsters, Kinky Squid, and Other Salty Erotica of the Deep by Marah J. Hardt delves into just how marine life gets it on. And if you think the Cosmo is inventive, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

With a knack for dividing the mass of copulating marine organisms into relevant and understandable chapters, Hardt exposes the fetishes, the violence, the intimacies and, above all, the adaptability of marine life as they follow the overpowering instinct to survive and multiply (two things that are not, in all cases, compatible with one another). Continue reading “Sex in the Sea: This Post Is Not What You Think (Or Is It?)”

What If Everything You Knew About Breastfeeding Was Wrong?

24612267How does one react to seeing a book cover that claims breast feeding is “big business and bad policy”?

If you’re me, you request a review copy of that book, fully intending to expose how wrong it is.

As a medical student, one of the important things I was taught again and again is this: BREAST IS BEST. We were given a nearly 100-page document to study about infant feeding during second year. We were expected to know the constituents of human milk and be able to compare it to cow’s milk and formula. We had to memorise tables of the various formulas on offer and their indications. In fourth year, an entire oral OSCE station was dedicated to breastfeeding.

Breast was best and formula-feeding was undesirable, and it all made perfect sense to me; and of course I never read up the literature because our professors had surely done that FOR us. Continue reading “What If Everything You Knew About Breastfeeding Was Wrong?”

Jonas Salk, A Life | Thinking About Biographies

6f6a9089fd7b52816ba9baf6e1b1c61dIf you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, you will have seen this image (alongside) about Jonas Salk refusing to patent his Polio vaccine. For the longest time that was one of the only real thing I knew about Jonas Salk – that, and the column of differences between the “Salk” and “Sabine” vaccines that we had to study during MS1.

In Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs’ complete biography of Jonas Salk, she exposes more than this uni-dimensional view of the man who made one of the twentieth century’s most important contributions to healthcare. Continue reading “Jonas Salk, A Life | Thinking About Biographies”

Medicine: Keep Up!

I love how fast this field moves, and grows. It is refreshing, and it keeps me on my toes, and it demands: if you’re not ready for change, you’re not ready for MEDICINE!

Three years ago, during a Family Medicine rotation, a young Zimbabwean girl came to us for removal of a stick-like thing in her arm. Initially I did not believe her that it was a contraceptive – I thought it was a traditional medicine! But she was so convincing that I Googled “subdermal contraceptives” and it turned out she was right.

Subdermal contraceptive devices were SO rare in South Africa that we had not even learned about them in classes. We had no idea how to remove said implant, and kind of improvised.

022715jhm71Three years later, I can put in these contraceptives with my eyes closed (but I wouldn’t, sharps are involved). Continue reading “Medicine: Keep Up!”

Did You Know That Seeds Are Freaking Awesome?!

I love micro-histories – books that delve into the history and specifics of one small specific thing. One of my favourites is The Big Necessity by Rose George, about human waste (and the toilet). Just for balance, my least favourite is Stiff by Mary Roach.

The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson is about, well: seeds. I requested the book because the cover looked pretty cool and because, as I already said, I enjoy finding out really random and extensive things about one focused object. Continue reading “Did You Know That Seeds Are Freaking Awesome?!”

War, Latin America and Pre-Eclampsia: A History

One of the biggest ongoing studies in the developing-world Obstetrics is the Calcium and Pre-Eclampsia (CAP) Trial. The hypothesis is that calcium supplements prevent the development of Gestational Proteinuric Hypertension – but if you like history, where this idea originated is a wholly fascinating story.

preeclampsia Continue reading “War, Latin America and Pre-Eclampsia: A History”