What I'm Reading (May 13)

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A rite of passage in medicine, updating our view of reincarnation, Big Pharma and the COVID vaccine giveaway, and when did hydrating become a thing.

Until COVID-19, the first year of medical school included an anatomy course where the textbook was secondary to the real teacher, the cadaver you and your colleagues were about to dissect. The room reeked of formaldehyde, and early in the course, fear and anxiety. The anatomy lab was both educational and a rite of passage, making one more intimately acquainted with the dead.

“Physicians often consider the numerous hours spent in gross anatomy lab to be the most formative of their medical school careers. They transcend the cutting of flesh under the stench of formaldehyde. It’s about learning how to treat someone’s body with respect, work in a team, deal with death. “The anatomy lab is part of the gelling of camaraderie and team-building and peer-to-peer teaching. It’s a rite of passage,” says David Morton, an anatomist at the University of Utah School of Medicine.”

This article’s author, a second-year medical student, ponders the difference between anatomy in hand and that on the screen. How does remote learning compare? From Nautil.us, You Can’t Dissect a Virtual Cadaver

Is it me, or have you noticed that everyone who claims to have been reincarnated was formerly a prince or princess and not a criminal? Much of Buddhist thought has been made more contemporary; we see that in mindfulness or viewing yoga as exercise. But reincarnation has withstood those changes, or has our understanding of the term shifted slightly?

“Reincarnation (also called transmigration or rebirth) is the idea that some part of consciousness lives on after death, and keeps returning to this or other realms of existence until liberated by Buddhist practice. And it seems like exactly the kind of thing that modern, secular Buddhists would reject, often with good reason. After all, reincarnation has often been used to justify why some people deserve good or bad things, based on the actions that they supposedly made in their past lives. But when I say that people should take reincarnation seriously, I don’t mean that they should embrace every detail of the classical doctrine. Whether or not one does is a question for practicing Buddhists and others – a question about which I have neither the right nor the capacity to speak. What I mean, rather, is that we should seriously consider what a contemporary version of the idea of reincarnation would look like.”

From Aeon, Reincarnation Now

Since our founding, we have been a country peopled by the industrious. That our work was our own is enshrined in our Constitution. “Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” The first patent law was passed in April of 1790, and the first patent was issued three months later. 

“Intellectual property is a government granted temporary monopoly, but in return for that grant and the royalties it brings, the patent holder has a common carriage-style obligation to act in the public interest should its patent become critical to a key standard or public need.

More recently, compulsory licensing has also been used for health emergencies. South Africa and Brazil used compulsory licensing to produce HIV medication, the Bush administration threatened it against Bayer when it tried to price gouge an anthrax treatment, ciprofloxacin, after 9/11, and Malaysia used it for a hepatitis treatment. The patent holder still gets paid royalties, but they don’t have control over the price or terms.”

An essential explanation of the fight with Pfizer and Moderna about intellectual property and the licensing of their vaccines. From Matt Stoller, Why Joe Biden Punched Big Pharma in the Nose Over Covid Vaccines

Finally, let’s talk a moment about drinking water. You know the rules about hydrating, 64 ounces a day, or is it an ounce per kilogram? For most of my life, hydrating wasn’t a thing; where did it come from? It begins with the Gators, and of course, Gatorade. From EconLife, Why Hydration was Invented.