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Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

30 Jan

Syringe

Last November I celebrated my 10-year anniversary. 10 years of being a Type 1 Diabetic. I was diagnosed with diabetes just three days after my 13th birthday (nice belated present, eh?) and have been on a lifelong experiment ever since then.

More than three million people have Type 1 diabetes, but they are generally overwhelmed in media coverage by the nearly 23 million people other people who have Type 2 diabetes (per the American Diabetes Association). Nearly 80 million people also have pre-diabetes, which means their lifestyle choices put them at greater risk for developing the disease. The two diseases present many of the same challenges, but are radically different in what causes them and how they are treated. Here’s a VERY abbreviated explanation.

1) Type 1 Diabetes: So sometime in my early teens, my pancreas began to shut down. By the time I was diagnosed with diabetes, my body was producing no more insulin. My pancreas was essentially useless, doing nothing, and just taking up space (still is). Scientists aren’t quite sure why this happens, but they think it has something to do with genetics. At birth, I was predisposed to developing type 1 diabetes and then something in my childhood triggered the disease. When I was little I had a 105 degree fever. That could be it. My original endochronologist believes that the fever somehow got antibodies inside me to turn on the insulin-producing cells. It’s not clear, but the important thing (from my perspective anyway) is that my pancreas no longer produces any insulin.

2) Type 2 Diabetes: Unlike type 1 diabetics, the bodies of type 2 diabetics often still produce some insulin, they just don’t produce enough. In these cases, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin for the body or does not produce the insulin efficiently . That’s why some type 2 diabetics can manage (or sometimes “cure”) their disease simply through better diet and exercise. That doesn’t work in all cases, but it is true that some diabetics can alter their lifestyles to the point that their bodies make enough insulin. Many others take medication (not always insulin through syringes) to force their pancreas to make more insulin.

Those are the big differences. One type of diabetes has a pancreas that simply doesn’t work and the other has a pancreas that doesn’t work efficiently enough. They seem like small differences to most people, but to those people who suffer from the diseases, they mean the world.

Photo: Jill A. Brown

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Live-Tweeting While Reading Is Stupid

23 Jan

Live-Tweeting

A disturbing trend has emerged recently. Lots of young people hear about some new article, read it, and live-tweet their reactions to it. The practice drives me nuts, but I think it brings up some broader points about how society uses Twitter.

This latest habit (I hesitate to use the overused word “trend”) has emerged over the last year. I’ve noticed it acutely with three articles in particular. “Getting Bin Laden” by Nicholas Schmidle (New Yorker), “The Shame of College Sports” by Taylor Branch (The Atlantic), and “The Obama Memos” by Ryan Lizza (New Yorker). In each case, I saw groups of people (including, but not limited to, journalists) live-tweet their observations and favorite quotes from each piece.

Live-tweeting simply isn’t effective while reading. Each of these three articles is lengthy, complex and delivers an involved argument. Picking out one quote or observation in the middle of it nearly always misses the broader argument of the piece. I want to hear what other people think of these pieces, but the most valuable service journalists offer is analysis and careful consideration of the arguments. That simply isn’t possible on Twitter, in 140 characters, while trying to read something.

In 99 cases out of 100, the Twitter user would benefit from taking a step back and writing a blog post when they finished reading the story.

Now, this is not to suggest that live-tweeting itself is bad. To the contrary, I think it’s wonderful when used properly. At press conferences or when following breaking news, for example. In those cases, live-tweeting is the fastest, most effective way of getting news and instantaneous reactions (which are most often accurate).

This brings up several larger arguments about Twitter. In my mind, the service does three things really well: 1) It allows users to rapidly scan various services for information, 2) It allows users to share links to other content their followers might be interested in and 3) It allows information to spread much more quickly than any other existing technology. Beyond that, it breaks down.

Observations shared on Twitter are rarely insightful and, at best, simplistic. After all, who can fully share their thoughts in 140 characters? Even the best writer has to condense and oversimplify their arguments to fit within that space constraint. So, I see Twitter as an ideal location for information sharing and a horrendous spot for sharing opinions and observations.

So stop live-tweeting as you read other literature. Write a blog post when you’ve finished and had time to digest it. Tweet me a link. I’ll gladly read it then.

Photo: Adikos

Journalists, Twitter, and Breaking News

22 Jan

Twitter

There should be a quite a lot of soul-searching in the journalistic establishment after an epically disastrous Saturday evening on the Interwebs. Enterprising journalists from around the world rapidly spread two completely false stories by Twitter. The incidents should give everyone pause and offer the opportunity to reconsider social media policies when reporting breaking news.

First, the two stories.

1. Jeb Bush’s Reported Endorsement: Shortly after the South Carolina primary was called for Newt Gingrich, CNN’s John King appeared to land a big scoop. He announced that former Florida Governor (and brother of ex-President George W. Bush)  Jeb Bush would endorse Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination. Problem was Bush didn’t have any intention of endorsing anyone (he later issued a statement to confirm that).  Jim Roberts of the New York Times probably spread the news quickest with this tweet, but other people picked up on it quickly. Pundits jumped on the announcement and began analyzing its impact on the race before Bush denied the rumor in his statement.

2. Joe Paterno Died: Perhaps more disturbingly, Twitter exploded with news that Penn State’s legendary coach Joe Paterno passed away last evening (since then Paterno has of course sadly passed on). Journos around the world tweeted and retweeted the news. Unfortunately, the reports were traced back to one student publication, Onward State, who tweeted that Paterno died around 8:45 p.m. (their leader has since resigned over the flap). CBSSports.com picked up the story and published their own based (apparently) solely on the original report from Onward State. They later issued an apology, “CBSSports.com holds itself to high journalistic standards, and in this circumstance tonight, we fell well short of those expectations,” managing editor Mark Swanson wrote. Other major news organizations like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed also published stories that cited the CBSSports report as the source of their information. It’s worth noting that none of the major news organizations like the New York Times, Reuters, AP, Washington Post or ESPN confirmed the news on their websites.

So how should these incidents be viewed in the journalistic community? More than a condemnation of Twitter, I think instead they remind us of the importance of getting the story right and maintaining solid journalistic fundamentals. Social media sites have transformed how people obtain their news and how they share it (for example, I learned about the deaths of Steve Jobs, Gaddafi, Osama Bin Laden, Kim Jong-Il by Twitter first). Once something breaks, it literally moves around the world in minutes. And that’s a good thing overall.

But, one of the first things journalists are taught is to verify your information and cite your sources. Particularly at the national level, when dealing with important, sensitive stories, those principles become even more important. Everyone is human and mistakes will be made, but there is no excuse for publishing a story about the death of a legendary sports figure with the uncorroborated reports of a student online publication as your sole source. CBS Sports fell down on their responsibility and other journalists must ensure they don’t fall into the same traps.

Breaking news and grabbing the scoop remains an important part of the business. Everyone wants to do it. That does not mean that standards should slip in order to accomplish the feat. Getting information correct has always been a vital part of the news business (it’s essential for maintaining credibility among the public), but it has taken on an even greater importance since the advent of social media.

The best line about grabbing the scoop comes from Walter Cronkite: “Get it first, but get it right.”

Photo credit: NLSven

New Job!

9 Jan

Sorry I’ve been away from this for far too long, but my life has been full of lots of interesting advancements in recent days. I started a new job! I’m pleased to report that I’m now, well reporting, for a company called Bloomberg BNA. My official title is staff reporter in the environmental news division.

It’s a really exciting post. I’m super excited with my colleagues; everyone seems really kind and knowledgable. I should get some experience reporting on Capitol Hill and will wear a bunch of hats (I’ll probably be covering a wide variety of topics).

Our office is located in Crystal City, Virginia. I’m excited about the possibility of potentially biking into work. It sounds like that would be possible with very minimal road riding. The network of trails sounds extensive.

Happy to answer any questions about this new exciting chapter in my life! Oh, and I will begin blogging more frequently again. I do miss my updates.

10 Greatest Musical Songs Ever

16 Nov

After a decent discussion with another male friend, I decided to make a list of my favorite musical songs. I know this might be controversial, but leave your comments. Admittedly these are only from musicals I’ve actually seen.

1) You Can’t Stop the Beat— Hairspray

2) Carrying the Banner— Newsies 

3) Take Me Or Leave Me— Rent 

4) America— West Side Story

5) We Go Together— Grease (The first song I ever learned the words to)

6) Defying Gravity— Wicked (This song is so unbelievable live)

7) If I Were a Rich Man— Fiddler On the Roof

8) I Just Can’t Wait to Be King— Lion King

9) It’s a Hard Knock Life— Annie

10) I’ll Cover You— Rent

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