5 Best Wednesday Columns

Medicine for kids, tea for John and Yoko, gas for Mozambique, and more

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  • Yoko Ono on John Lennon's Legacy  On the 30th anniversary of Lennon's assassination, Ono takes to the pages of The New York Times to remember her husband, and share a short anecdote about a "couple who laughed" while sharing tea together in their kitchen. Lennon would have turned 70 this year, and yet his legacy endures through fans who are "keeping him alive with their love." The man that she knew was one who "believed in Truth," dared to speak up, and "upset certain powerful people" while doing so. "He couldn't have been any other way," remembers Ono. "If he were here now, I think he would still be shouting the truth. Without the truth, there would be no way to achieve world peace."
  • David Gratzer on the McVictim Syndrome  Too many pundits "are working overtime to find scapegoats for America's obesity epidemic," writes the physician in the Los Angeles Times. They claim that Americans are "helpless" in the face of a tasty cookie, that urban sprawl is exacerbating obesity, and that it's simply "too hard" for adults keep weight off. This McVictimization, as Gratzer calls it, "teaches Americans to think that obesity is someone else's fault--and therefore, someone else's problem to solve." He argues that obesity is--in most cases--a "preventable condition" that needs to be directly confronted with personal responsibility rather than public policy. There is, however, a role for government to play in the fight against obesity: school lunches should provide healthier options, subsides for agribusinesses should be discontinued, and insurance reforms that support preventative medicine should be promoted. But government "can't micromanage your waistline for you," Gratzner notes. That's why encouraging Americans to take charge of their on health choices (and therefore"rejecting" the McVictim culture) "is crucial to obesity reduction policy."
  • Charles Kenny on the Resource Curse  For years, global developments experts have been taken with the concept of a resource curse--"the idea that the more stuff dug out from on or under a country, the slower it will grow and the higher the risk it will descend into civil war." Charles Kenny at Foreign Policy isn't buying it. The notion that great abundance is a precursor to great strife may be "the type of counterintuitive idea that makes for a great newspaper op-ed," but its basis in reality is limited. Kenny cites recent studies showing that  countries with more natural resource wealth are less likely to engage in civil war, and studies that show greater economic growth in resource-rich nations over the past 30 years. Taken together, this information suggests the resource curse is in fact "the kind of counterintuitive idea where intuition may have been right to begin with."
  • Kate Harding on Blaming the (Possible) Rape Victim  Julian Assange's recent arrest for rape, sexual molestation, and coercion begs anyone following the story to ask whether the charges, brought against Assange a year ago, were dug up now as an excuse to capture the man responsible for WikiLeaks. Salon's Kate Harding thinks this is a valid suspicion but is shocked at how many in the blogosphere are using minimal evidence from less than trustworthy sources to blast Assange's alleged victims. Harding urges Assange supporters to look beyond blogs and tabloids and perhaps wait for more substantial evidence before making harsh accusations against women that, regardless of when it happened, may have actually been raped. "Public evidence, as the Times noted, is scarce," writes Harding. "So, it's heartening to see that in the absence of same, my fellow bloggers are so eager to abandon any pretense of healthy skepticism and rush to discredit an alleged rape victim based on some tabloid articles and a feverish post by someone who is perhaps not the most trustworthy source. Well done, friends! What a fantastic show of research, critical thinking, and, as always, respect for women."
  • The Boston Globe on Smarter Dosage Practices  A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that "98.6 percent of dosing devices for children's oral liquid medicines have problems such as missing markings, superfluous markings, and, worse, units of measurement that don't match the directions on the label." An editorial in today's Boston Globe balks at this statistic, arguing that such problems make parents responsible for discerning the correct amount of medicine to give their child, thus putting kids at risk of accidental overdose. The Globe points out that while the FDA released voluntary recommendations for improving consistency within the industry last year, no real regulations have been outlined or enforced. The editors recommend that, until the measurements are fixed, "parents should ask a pharmacist to mark the enclosed dosing device in the exact right place for the specific child taking the medicine."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.