This is Gonna Sting…

You've probably heard the question many times: "On a scale of one to ten, what is your level of pain?" A desire for more swift care has often led me to answer "around 10." But, in reality, it's difficult for someone to rate their pain on some kind of universal scale. "How does a patient imagine the worst pain ever and give their own pain a number? Middle-class British men who have never been in a war zone may find it hard to imagine anything more agonizing than a toothache or a tennis injury. Women who have experienced childbirth may, after that experience, rate everything else as a mild 3 or 4." And when we move beyond numeric levels, the descriptions of pain become even more elusive. Is it sharp or dull? Cold or hot? Nagging or intense? Nerve or muscle? Stabbing or tingling? The questions are often hard to answer, and your answers are often even harder to treat. Aside from throwing buckets of often ineffective drugs at the problem, how can the medical community solve pain when it's so hard to even understand it? From John Walsh in Mosaic: How much does it hurt?


Send Your Pet to Mars

Mars has long dominated candy shelves with products like Snickers, Skittles and M&Ms. But candy and gum aren't even the company's biggest businesses. After a $7.7 billion purchase of VCA, the company's main business is pet care. Why? "Americans spent an estimated $62.75 billion in 2016 on their animals, according to the American Pet Products Association. That is up from $51 billion only five years ago." (Let's hope Mars is healthier for our pets than it is for humans.)

+ "A wave of corporatization is hitting the veterinary industry, but does a one-size-fits-all approach work?" Bloomberg with an in-depth look at the high-cost, high-risk world of modern pet care. (I have 3 cats and 2 dogs. I'm pretty sure that makes me a potential acquisition target.)


Confirmation Bias

Attorney General-nominee Jeff Sessions is answering questions about immigration, Trump's proposed Muslim ban, his own controversial past, torture, the Clinton emails (yup), his willingness to defy his boss if necessary, and more as he faces day one of his confirmation hearings.

+ Slate: In a First, Sitting Sen. Cory Booker Will Testify Against Colleague Jeff Sessions Nomination.

+ There will be a lot of questions and lot of coverage, but it's worth noting that it's really hard to block a cabinet nominee.

+ WaPo: Trump asks vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. to lead commission on vaccine safety.

+ The extremely swift repeal of Obamacare might be less swift than anticipated.


Freak Squad

"If a customer turns over their computer for repair, do they forfeit their expectation of privacy, and their Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches? And if an informant is paid, does it compromise their credibility or effectively convert them into an agent of the government?" These questions have been raised in cases where the FBI has paid employees of Best Buy's Geeksquad after they reported finding child p*rnography on customer's hard drives. (Can you imagine having that on your computer and still deciding to take it to Best Buy because your hard drive was damaged?)


The Court of Lower Opinion

"But the man who sued him, Jared Wheat, the owner and CEO of Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, doesn't see the jury verdict as a loss: He's openly hopeful that the long and costly legal battle will scare away other academics from investigating the supplement industry." From Stat: A supplement maker tried to silence this Harvard doctor -- and put academic freedom on trial. (Someone should create a supplement that helps you ward off litigiousness...)


To Grandmother’s House We Owe

We know there are a lot of recent graduates who are saddled with loads of student debt. But it turns out grandma and grandpa are caught up in this trend as well. From Quartz: To put their grandkids through college, Americans over 60 now have $67 billion in student debt. And they don't even get to share in the adderall and kegstands.


The Peace Processor

"At the same time, and even with spotty and irregular electricity, it also has one of the higher levels of education and internet access in the Arab world. More than two-thirds of Gazans are under 24, and nearly all have high written and computing literacy. If the definition of a great entrepreneur is one who thrives in working through and around challenges and creating innovative solutions, it's no surprise that Gaza is chock-full of them. Half of them, by the way, are women." Politics hasn't made much progress in the name of Middle East peace. But maybe tech and entrepreneurship are a better place to start. Christopher M. Schroeder (who knows as much about this topic as anyone) in ReCode: Gaza is attracting the attention of Silicon Valley.

+ For more on this topic, you can check out Schroeder's book: Startup Rising.


Between Howard’s Rock and a Hard Place

In a truly incredible college football championship, Clemson upset Alabama with a last second touchdown pass by Deshaun Watson (who gave a legendary performance).

+ The NYT with an interesting (and disturbing) look at what happens to a brain during a blow to the head. (Publishing stories about football-related head injuries next to championship game results is an increasingly common editorial strategy. My pairing of the stories reflects my own ambivalence about my favorite sport to play and watch.)

+ "Zac Easter knew what was happening to him. He knew why. And he knew that it was only going to get worse. So he decided to write it all down—to let the world know what football had done to him, what he'd done to his body and his brain for the game he loved. And then he shot himself." From GQ: One High School Football Player's Secret Struggle with CTE.


Bean Counters

"As with most families of this size, the views of L.L.'s family members cover nearly the entire political spectrum. And as every member of this very large family would agree, no single person represents the values of the company that L.L. built." One member of the extended LL Bean family gave money in support of Trump. And now the company is defending itself against calls for boycotts. Welcome to 2017.


Bottom of the News

From Consumerist: A man wants police to apologize for confusing sock full of kitty litter with meth. (I have three cats. So in my case, I'd probably be safer with the meth.)

+ Quartz: A new study linking profanity to honesty shows people who curse are more authentic. Studies like this are complete bullshit. (See what I did there?)

+ A day after Meryl Streep gave a shout-out to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the group had pulled in about $80,000 in donations. (Shockingly low, no?)

+ A site called 2paragraphs asked experts about how some of our most famous fictional characters might have voted in the 2016 presidential election. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if a fictional character ran for office and won.

+ The headline says a deer was pulled from a frozen lake. The body-text says it was frozen river. Either way, it's something nice to look at on the Internet (which is an increasingly rare opportunity.)