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Friday, October 28, 2016

The Other Sister, by Ciara O'Rourke, Seattle Met

It was the first death of someone she was close to; it wasn’t long before she started to fret about our mother.

“Wait,” she said one day. “You’re old. When are you going to die? Who is going to take care of me when you do?”

I had moved to Austin, Texas, by then, but I was also waiting in the wings. For several years I anticipated becoming my sister’s guardian. I just didn’t know what it would look like in practice.

Is A Placebo A Sham If You Know It's A Fake And It Still Works?, by Katherine Hobson, NPR

So placebos have pretty much been tossed in the "garbage pail" of clinical practice, says Ted Kaptchuk, director of the Program for Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In an attempt to make them more useful, he has been studying whether people might see a benefit from a placebo even if they knew it was a placebo, with no active ingredients. An earlier study found that so-called "open-label" or "honest" placebos improved symptoms among people with irritable bowel syndrome.

And Kaptchuk and his colleagues found the same effect among people with garden-variety lower back pain, the most common kind of pain reported by American adults.

Did Bram Stoker’s Untapped Desires Give Rise To Dracula?, by Jason Zinoman, New York Times

Vampire stories had been around a long time before Dracula started sucking blood, so what was it about the Transylvanian count that captured the public’s imagination, making him one of the most famous characters in modern literature?

The short answer: Sex sells. More than any other monster of classic horror, Dracula pairs violent threat with a carnal one. Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel revitalized the vampire legend, Stephen King rightly pointed out, because it “fairly pants with sexual energy.” David J. Skal’s “Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote ‘Dracula’ ” is an essential examination of where all this heavy breathing came from.