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HOW TO CONFUSE AN ARIZONAN Wednesday, October 1
In August, a state appeals court overruled a lower court and decided Thomas and Nancy Beatie could divorce, after all. The first judge determined their out-of-state marriage wasn’t valid in Arizona because they were both women, but Thomas has had extensive surgery and hormone therapy and become a man — though he’s also the spouse who bore the couple’s three children, since he retained his reproductive organs.
GEMINI: Oct. 29-Nov. 4 Wednesday, October 29
In an episode of the animated sci-fi TV sitcom Futurama, Leela, the mutant spaceship captain, develops an odd boil on her hindquarters. It has a face and can sing. The actor who provides the vocals for the animated boil’s outpouring of song is Gemini comedian Craig Ferguson, whose main gig is serving as host of a late-night TV talk show on CBS. Telling you this tale is my way of suggesting that you consider going outside your usual niche, as Craig Ferguson did, to offer your talents in a different context.
SQUAAAAWWK Wednesday, October 1
Regulatory filings revealed in August that AOL still has 2.3 million dial-up subscribers (down from 21 million 15 years ago) paying, on average, about $20 monthly. Industry analysts, far from rolling on the floor laughing at the company’s continued success with 20th-century technology, estimate AOL’s dial-up business constitutes a hefty portion of its quarterly “operating profit” of about $122 million.
DEFINITIONS Wednesday, October 1
Commentators have had fun with a new system of medical diagnostic codes (denominated in from 4-10 digits each) scheduled to take effect next October, and the “Healthcare Dive” blog had its laughs in a July post. The codes for “problems in relationship with in-laws” and “bizarre personal appearance” are quixotic enough, but the most “absurd” codes are “subsequent encounters” (i.e., at least the second time the same thing happened to a patient) for events like walking into a lamppost, getting sucked into a jet engine, receiving burns from on-fire water skis, or having contact with a cow beyond being bitten or kicked — those have separate codes. Also notable was S10.87XA, “Other superficial bite of other specified part of neck, initial encounter,” which seems to describe a “hickey.”
CANCER: Oct. 29-Nov. 4 Wednesday, October 29
Native American hero Sitting Bull (1831-1890) was a renowned Lakota chief and holy man. He led his people in their resistance to the U.S. occupation of their land. How did he become so strong and wise? In large part through the efforts of his doting mother, whose name was Her-Holy-Door. Let’s install her as your exemplar for now.
PLAY IT AGAIN, DOC Wednesday, October 1
For patients who are musicians, deep brain stimulation (open-brain) surgery can provide entertainment for operating-room doctors as they correct neurological conditions such as hand tremors. In September, concert violinist Naomi Elishuv, who’s performed with the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, played for surgeons at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center so they could locate the exact spot in the brain for inserting the pacemaker to control the hand-trembling that had wrecked her career.
LEO: Oct. 29-Nov. 4 Wednesday, October 29
This is one of those rare times when it’s OK for you to just throw out the dirty dishes that you are too lazy to wash. It’s also permissible to hide from a difficult person, spend money on a supposedly foolish indulgence, binge-watch a TV show that provokes six months’ worth of emotions in a few hours, and lie in bed for an extra hour fantasizing about sex with a forbidden partner.
WHO YOU CALLIN’ SHRIMP? Wednesday, October 1
Buddhists believe in the wholesale “mercy release” of living creatures, with smaller and less consequential animals making even stronger statements of reverence, according to a July New York Times story from Yushu, China, describing the freeing of river shrimp the size of a fingernail clipping.
VIRGO: Oct. 29-Nov. 4 Wednesday, October 29
Our evolutionary ancestors Homo erectus loved to eat delicious antelope brains. The fossil evidence is all over their old stomping grounds in East Africa. Scientists say that this delicacy, so rich in nutrients, helped our forbears build bigger, stronger brains themselves. These days it’s harder but not impossible to make animal brains part of your diet.
TAKE A LOAD OFF Wednesday, October 1
University of Arizona Medical Center surgeons removed a 47-pound tumor from a woman’s stomach in April — not even close to being the largest ever mentioned here, but likely the only such large tumor held in the arms of a member of the surgical team, as pictured in a post-op photo.
 
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