What I'm Reading (Oct. 26)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — Oct 26, 2023
Check it out: Our Life with Self-checkout Short, fat, juicy ones Regulating guns Want to make some money? Consider horror films
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I have mixed feelings toward self-checkout; perhaps you do too. I like the convenience, especially if there is a scanner available, and I do not have to take everything out of the cart and place it in another area only to have to put it back into the cart. But lately, it has proven to be more of a hurdle. At Costco, they check your receipt in the self-checkout area and again before you leave the store. At BJ’s, I am told that customers shouldn’t have to check out themselves.

“When self-checkout kiosks began to pop up in American grocery stores, the sales pitch to shoppers was impressive: Scan your stuff, plunk it in a bag, and you’re done. Long checkout lines would disappear. Waits would dwindle. …

You know how this process actually goes by now: You still have to wait in line. The checkout kiosks bleat and flash when you fail to set a purchase down in the right spot. Scanning those items is sometimes a crapshoot—wave a barcode too vigorously in front of an uncooperative machine, and suddenly you’ve scanned it two or three times.”

From The Atlantic, Self-Checkout Is a Failed Experiment


My colleague, Dr. Miller, recently wrote about the soil’s microbiome. So now it is time for a “Pop quiz”: Name one thing, animate or not, responsible for 140 million tons of food production, boosting agricultural yield by 23%. Times up. Here is the answer.

“Known as ‘ecosystem engineers,’ earthworms recycle organic waste into nutrients, improve soil structure, and even boost plants’ immunity to pathogens. It’s common knowledge that these organisms do good things for plants—and in fact, there are at least 58 studies looking at specifically what happens to crop biomass when earthworms are added to the soil. It’s universally good news.”

From The Anthropocene, A huge chunk of global food production rests on the shoulders of this tiny player


One of the rallying cries of the originalists amongst us is that not only does the Constitution protect our right to bear arms, but the law of those Constitutional days concerning firearms should be the basis for our present laws. Oops

“The framers and adopters of the Second Amendment were generally ardent supporters of the idea of well-regulated liberty. Without strong governments and effective laws, they believed, liberty inevitably degenerated into licentiousness and eventually anarchy. …

I have been researching and writing about the history of gun regulation and the Second Amendment for the past two decades. When I began this research, most people assumed that regulation was a relatively recent phenomenon, something associated with the rise of big government in the modern era. Actually, while the founding generation certainly esteemed the idea of an armed population, they were also ardent supporters of gun regulations.”

From The Conversation, Five types of gun laws the Founding Fathers loved


With Halloween so close by and television filled with horror, real and imagined, consider this.

“In reviewing the found footage horror mega-hit The Blair Witch Project, Roger Ebert praised the film for manipulating its audience's imagination by what was left unseen. 

"At a time when digital techniques can show us almost anything, The Blair Witch Project is a reminder that what really scares us is the stuff we can't see. The noise in the dark is almost always scarier than what makes the noise in the dark."

The horror genre thrives on anticipation—often terrifying viewers with the prospect of something dreadful. Unlike action or animation, scary movies do not depend on non-stop visual stimuli or new-fangled special effects. Harnessing fear through absence allows horror to deliver a memorable viewing experience while being cost-effective.”

And cost-effective they are with a significant return on investment. From StatSignificant, Why Horror Films are Hollywood's Best Investment: A Statistical Analysis: Don’t let that statistical analysis worry you; it is all in the graphs.

Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA

Director of Medicine

Dr. Charles Dinerstein, M.D., MBA, FACS is Director of Medicine at the American Council on Science and Health. He has over 25 years of experience as a vascular surgeon.

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