Monthly Archives: March 2013

We should all be so unlucky

A young woman from my alma mater by the name of Aly Beebe is in her freshman year at Stanford University. She was a basketball superstar in high school, leading St. Joseph to a state championship (which, in California, is seriously difficult – the best high school girls’ team I ever saw never even made it to the finals.) I checked some box scores early in the season this year and found, to my dismay, that she was not getting into games. What I found out eventually is that she is ‘red-shirting’ this season, which means she is on the roster, practices and travels with the team, but does not play in games and (this is the key) does not use up one of her four seasons of eligibility. This made some sense, finally; Stanford is one of the deepest, most talented teams in the world of women’s college basketball and they have an amazing player named Chiney Ogwumike who plays the same position as Aly. (Here  is a good article about Chiney that appears on the sfgate.com site.)

After learning about this situation, I was actually foolish enough to feel sorry for Aly. I really wanted to see her play on the big stage. But the article on Chiney dumped a bucket of reality over my head, metaphorically speaking, and woke me up to the following:

1. Aly (an excellent student) is getting an education at a world-class university (free!) where she has the opportunity to take classes such as those described in the article.

2. She gets a year to adjust to a very different world from a small high school in the suburbs. As a point of comparison, the gym at St. Joe’s is probably smaller than the coach’s offices at Stanford.

3. She practices with and against players like Chiney every day in practice. She learns the plays, the defenses, and the work ethic that she’ll need for next year.

Not a bad deal, I think. I’ll just have to be patient and wait for my chance to see her shine.

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Does diet soda cause depression?

Today I came across a statement from the American Academy of Neurology (here is the link):

People who drank more than four cans or cups per day of soda were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who drank no soda. Those who drank four cans of fruit punch per day were about 38 percent more likely to develop depression than those who did not drink sweetened drinks. People who drank four cups of coffee per day were about 10 percent less likely to develop depression than those who drank no coffee. The risk appeared to be greater for people who drank diet than regular soda, diet than regular fruit punches and for diet than regular iced tea.

“Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk,” said Chen. “More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors.”

Everyone say it together: Correlation is NOT Causation. I will field this one from the perspective of someone who likes diet cola and who struggled with depression much of my life: you folks have it backwards. My depression predated my diet soda consumption by many years. For my part (and I suspect I speak for others), I found something cheap and legal that made me feel better for a while and I jumped into it — it’s called self-medication. The AAN may wish to study this concept. Seriously, I am glad they are doing studies like this, but do try to keep an open mind, people.