Health & Spirit

Make it a Trouble

Scott LaFee on

--Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

Medical History

This week in 1998, a top tobacco company executive acknowledged the health risk of tobacco products while under oath to Congress. Steven Goldstone, RJR Nabisco chairman and CEO, came at a hearing where industry leaders were pushing Congress to enact a $368.5 billion deal giving them partial immunity from future lawsuits. Just four years earlier, seven tobacco industry executives had stood before the House Commerce Committee and sworn nicotine was not addictive.

Self Exam

Q: How many muscles are there in your fingers?

A: Trick question. Your fingers contain no muscles, other than arrector pilli (tiny muscles attached to hair follicles that allow the latter to stand on end or create "goose bumps." Finger movement is created through the stretching and contraction of tendons extending from the palm and forearm. You can see those tendons at work by watching your wrists move when your fingers move.

Med School

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Q: When it debuted in 1886, Coca-Cola was sold as a therapeutic beverage. What did it do?

A: The soft drink was first marketed as a nerve tonic to relieve exhaustion, thanks in part to ingredients like caffeine and cocaine (9 milligrams per glass). The latter was removed in 1903. Original Coke was also alcoholic.

Curtain Calls

Lawrence of Rome, one of Pope Sixtus II's deacons, was purportedly roasted alive on a giant grill in during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Valerian in 258 AD. It's said Lawrence joked, "I'm well done. Turn me over." Lawrence was later elevated to sainthood and is now considered the patron saint of cooks, firefighters and comedians.


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