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The first sound you hear is the high-pitched wheeze of 60 dentists’ drills buzzing inside of open mouths. Splayed out on a show floor generally reserved for millionaire athletes and rock bands are: a hundred dental chairs; five RVs filled with X-ray equipment; mammogram machines; a 60-person triage station; rubber gloved paramedics; long picnic tables of surgical equipment; and about 1,000 recipients of free healthcare. Since last Tuesday and until tomorrow, the Forum in Inglewood is the biggest free healthcare clinic in Los Angeles. The bill will be picked up by the Remote Area Medical Expedition, a 1,300-person volunteer effort of medical professionals. RAM got their start treating villagers in the Amazon in 1985. Now they have ventured to the first world—their first time treating patients in Los Angeles. –“At the Forum: the Los Angeles Field Hospital,” Natasha Vargas-Cooper, The Awl
Harper’s Luke Mitchell explains why America won’t get the health-care system it needs in February 2009.
Dr. Mark Pagel of the University of Reading in England and Dr. Walter Bodmer of the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford have proposed a different solution to the mystery and their idea, if true, goes far toward explaining contemporary attitudes about hirsuteness. Humans lost their body hair, they say, to free themselves of external parasites that infest fur — blood-sucking lice, fleas and ticks and the diseases they spread. Once hairlessness had evolved through natural selection, Dr. Pagel and Dr. Bodmer suggest, it then became subject to sexual selection, the development of features in one sex that appeal to the other. Among the newly furless humans, bare skin would have served, like the peacock’s tail, as a signal of fitness. The pains women take to keep their bodies free of hair — joined now by some men — may be no mere fashion statement but the latest echo of an ancient instinct. Dr. Pagel’s and Dr. Bodmer’s article appeared in a recent issue of The Proceedings of the Royal Society. –“Why Humans and Their Fur Parted Ways,” Nicholas Wade, the New York Times
To the amazement of many in Washington, Tom DeLay, the former Republican Congressional leader who became a poster boy for cronyism and ethical lapses, was named one of the 16 celebrity contestants today by the producers of the ABC program “Dancing with the Stars.” It is not known if Delay will wear spandex and sequins. “It would be interesting to see if Mr. DeLay can do the Perp Walk. Does he know that step,” said Andrew Wheat, the research director of Texans for Public Justice, the watchdog group whose work helped spark the criminal prosecution of DeLay. –“ABC’s Dancing with Tom DeLay; ‘Does He Know the Perp Walk?’” by Brian Ross, Justin Rood, and Megan Chuchmach, ABC News
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”