•  BEWARE THE NEWEST CYBERSCAM: ROBOCALLS WHICH TRICK VICTIMS INTO SAYING “YES.” When answering a call and the voice says something like ‘Can you hear me?’ the computer records your ‘Yes’ response and obtains a “voice signature which can later be used to authorize fraudulent credit card or utility charges via telephone.” The FCC recommends: “Don’t pick up phone calls from unknown numbers; instead, let them go to voicemail.”  [BANKINFOSECURITY.COM – Mar 31, 17]
  • INTERNET PRIVACY PROTECTION IS ESSENTIALLY OVER. Congress has just overhauled the Congressional Review Act which allowed “overrule of regulations created by government agencies,” and has overturned FCC Privacy Protection rules. “Soon, every mistake you’ve ever made online, mobile or with App activity will be available to your Internet Service Provider (one of the four ISP monopolies that control America’s ‘last mile’ of internet cables and cell towers)… who now have the authority to sell browsing history, monitor your traffic by injecting malware-filled ads into websites you visit, stuff undetectable and un-deletable tracking cookies, and/or pre-install software to preclude encryption… Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds.” [FREECODECAMP.COM – Mar 27, 17]
  • PLUS THE LATEST SMARTPHONE QUIRK: Hackers can now steal PINs and Passwords simply by spying on the way the phone ‘tilts.’ Evidently, motion sensors create distinct patterns, which allow codes to be cracked by an ‘artificial neural network connected through malware. Once installed, those malicious programs can also covertly ‘listen in’ on your sensor data to discover…every personal detail you enter – even, in some cases, when your phone is locked… Researchers are now expanding their study to include personal fitness trackers, typically a treasure trove of motion sensor data.” [ENGADGET.COM – Apr 12, 17]
  •  OBESITY IS BECOMING A MAJOR AMERICAN PROBLEM, rising at a rate likely to affect over 10% of adults within the next dozen years. The Baby Boom generation is “fattest on record and just reaching the age where health problems begin to mount… Obesity related diseases include Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and cancers, along with indirect costs like lost productivity and infrastructure to handle heavier patients & residents… Direct medical costs are estimated at some $200,000 over the lifetimes of obese persons – triple that of a healthy person. A 2016 Univ. of Washington study found annual medical spending attributed to obesity nationally around $150 billion… In all, overweight and obese active-duty military personnel, including lost productivity, cost $1 billion annually – more than treatments for tobacco & alcohol-related illness combined, according to a study by the Nat’l Bureau of Economic Research.” Exercise and dieting are of course a prescription but, once obese (measured by Body Mass Index above 40), only a few percent succeed without surgery (‘laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy’) which removes a portion of the stomach and suppresses hormones that stimulate hunger. [THE WEEK – Apr 14, 17]
  •  “AGING COMES WITH STRENGTHS AND BENEFITS AS WELL AS CHALLENGES.Research at Univ. of Massachusetts investigating links between memory and age in emotional regulation found results that defied cultural assumptions, including: (1) that adults between 60 to 92 “perceive terms such as serenity, sadness & loneliness more positively than younger people – who had self-deprecating responses indicating discomfort with states of being sad, still or quiet; (2) that mature adults had more ‘bounce’ – having survived their share of uncomfortable situations, aware that these are temporary and can be taken in stride; and (3) that, when subjected to films depicting deep interpersonal loss (like Sophie’s Choice or Steel Magnolias), older adults with intact memory return to emotional equilibrium faster than impaired adults… Being aware of such differences across age groups has implications for how we communicate…and bridge gaps in understanding.” [UMASS – Spring 17]
  •  WHO KNEW THAT PATIENTS SEEKING A MEDICAL SECOND OPINION’ from another physician get a different answer 88% of the time? A two-year Mayo Clinic study of referred records found that only 12% of patients  did not “leave with a refined or new diagnosis from what they are first told” by the initial physician. Whether it’s ‘misdiagnosis’ or just ‘difference of professional opinion’ is arguable, but the research is certainly noteworthy.  [LEVINE BRIEFING NOTES – Apr 9. 17]
  •  THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK:Gratitude is the least deeply felt of all human emotions. Whatever you do for others, you’ll be a lot happier if you think of doing it for yourself, and then try the hell to forget it… because the beneficiary has.”  – Harvey Mackay

     The airline price wars have resulted in some airlines (including American, the largest U.S. carrier) making more money selling Airline Miles to credit card companies for customer promotion as they do selling seats to passengers.