Christmas 2012


Every year at this time, some of the major medical journals publish special Christmas issues. The BMJ and the CMAJ offer some open access articles for our holiday reading. From this year’s December issues of the British Medical Journal: – Christmas 2012

The CMAJ’s Holiday Reading [open access]

The Medical Journal of Australia‘s Christmas Crackers [scroll down the page; full text by subscription]

See older Christmas issue entries   especially Christmas Songs for Christmas Eve
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Christmas Songs for Christmas Eve

Here is a selection of Christmas songs, ranging from the sublime (the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s Hallelujah Chorus – A  Random Act of Culture) to the ridiculous (Adam Sandler’s Santa Song). Turn up your sound, and have a very Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2010: BMJ Christmas issue

It’s that time of year again, the publication of the annual BMJ Christmas issue. Here are some highlights:

See also  CMAJ 14 December 2010, Volume 182, Issue 18 Holiday Reading ; previous posts about Christmas.

CMAJ Holiday Review 2009

It’s that time of year again, when the major medical journals publish their Christmas (AKA holiday) reading. Below are some of my favourites from the CMAJ Holiday Review, from the December 2009 issue of CMAJ. For past Christmas issues, see Christmas Journal Issues.

 Faux Review: A report on the zombie outbreak of 2009: how mathematics can save us (no, really)
An outbreak of zombification wreaked havoc recently in Canada and the rest of the world. Mathematical models were created to establish the speed of zombie infection and evaluate potential scenarios for intervention, mainly because mathematicians don’t have anything better to do with their time. We review the development of these models and their effect on the undead.

Research: Snappy answers to stupid questions: an evidence-based framework for responding to peer-review feedback
We developed a Scale of Silliness (SOS) and a Scale of Belligerence (SOB) to facilitate the assessment of inadequate peer-review feedback and guide users in preparing suitable responses to it. The SOB score is tempered by users’ current mood, as captured by the Mood Reflective Index (MRI), and dictates the Appropriate Degree of Response (ADR) for the particular situation.

Satire: Compendium of rejected CMAJ manuscripts: 2009

Christmas 2008 Research from the BMJ

headbanger     The British Medical Journal continues in 2008 its annual tradition of publishing important research related to Christmas.   See also:  BMJ Christmas Issues and read articles going back to 1995.

Below are this year’s offerings, available free online (because they are research, after all).     2008 Seasonal Fayre2008 Christmas Podcasts

Head and neck injury risks in heavy metal: head bangers stuck between rock and a hard bass
Head banging to heavy metal is a popular dance form, but it increases the risk of head and neck injury. The effects may be lessened with reduced head and neck motion, head banging to lower tempo songs or to every second beat, and using protective equipment such as neck braces, say Australian researchers Declan Patton and Andrew McIntosh. The study helps to explain why metal concert goers often seem dazed, confused, and incoherent.

Rugby (the religion of Wales) and its influence on the Catholic church: should Pope Benedict XVI be worried?
Researcher Gareth Payne and his two colleagues from Cardiff investigate whether there is any substance to the intriguing urban legend that has arisen in Wales in recent times: “Every time Wales win the rugby grand slam, a Pope dies, except for 1978 when Wales were really good, and two Popes died.” Wales won the Grand Slam in 2008 – so should Pope Benedict XVI be worried?

Appointments timed in proximity to annual milestones and compliance with screening: randomised controlled trial
In this randomised controlled trial, attendance rates for colorectal cancer screening were higher in December and around attendees’ birthdays. Compliance with screening programmes may therefore be improved by timing invitations in proximity to annual milestones, conclude researchers Geir Hoff and Michael Bretthauer.

Frankincense: systematic review
Edzard Ernst, the UK’s only professor of complementary medicine, systematically reviews the evidence on frankincense – a tree resin that was one of the first ever Christmas presents and is now a popular complementary remedy. He concludes that, although frankincense does not bestow supernatural instant youth or eternal life as many claims would have it, it has encouraging anti-inflammatory properties. (Picture credit: Jerry Mason/Science Photo Library)

Mortality on Mount Everest, 1921-2006: descriptive study
Thousands of mountaineers have attempted to scale Mount Everest, the highest point on earth, at 8850 metres above sea level. The death rate above base camp is 1.3%. Paul Firth and colleagues examined the circumstances of such deaths, to establish patterns of mortality among climbers over 86 years. In an accompanying article, Jeremy S Windsor wonders how to explain the benign presence he met while climbing Mount Everest.

Right-left discrimination among medical students: questionnaire and psychometric study
Male students were better than female students at distinguishing right from left, and aspiring surgeons were better than aspiring GPs or medical doctors, according to this questionnaire and psychometric study. Are left handed people the last great neglected minority, asks an accompanying editorial.

Festive Medical Myths

Queen Elizabeth on YouTube!

queen_youtube.jpg  When Queen Elizabeth bestowed an honorary knighthood on Bill Gates a couple of years ago, she admitted that she had never used a computer. Well, today the oldest reigning British monarch uses e-mail, and, upon urging by her grandaughters, she has this week launched a channel on YouTube, The Royal Channel, the Official YouTube Channel for the British Monarchy.

You can watch her first televised Christmas message, delivered fifty years ago today, in which she considered how the new technology of television might bring her closer to her subjects. And today she delivers her first Christmas message on both television and YouTube. (I can’t link directly to these videos because this ability has been disabled.) There are many videos of historical interest and if you are interested in British history you will find these fascinating.

Read more about the Queen on YouTube in this Globe and Mail December 23 story.

More interesting Christmas sites …

The Toys of Our Childhood:
Here is a wonderful site from the Archives of Ontario. From the site:
Last Christmas the Archives of Ontario remembered an Eatons Christmas and we asked members of the public to send us their memories of how Eatons, with its Toyland, catalogue and Santa Claus parade impacted on their lives. We had many delightful responses and posted a sampling of them on our memories page.
You can browse photos of toys and Christmas letters from children from the late 1800s to the 1970s. Very nostalgic!
And finally, here is Christmas at War: Experiences from the First and Second World Wars, from the Imperial War Museum (UK). From the site:
The stories told here, using material from the Museum’s collections, show the need to mark Christmas as a special day, even when the conditions of wartime do their best to prevent this.  Anne Taylor-Vaisey

Christmas Offerings from the Medical Journal of Australia

chriscomp.jpg  For many years, the editors of the Medical Journal of Australia have held a Christmas Competition, and published the winning entries in the December issue. 

See also: Holiday Review from the CMAJ; BMJ Christmas issues  (I wonder why the Canadians are reluctant to use the word Christmas.)

This is from the December 2007 issue of eMJA: [read the whole article]

It is the editors’ unenviable task to make a final decision on the fate of each submitted manuscript and, as much as we enjoy the Christmas Competition, every year we find ourselves in the equally unenviable position of having to choose the winners. In order to share the burden, the entire AMPCo staff is invited to participate in a secret ballot. In the category of “Story”, this year the prize goes to David Isaacs, Stephen Isaacs and Dominic Fitzgerald for their “From the diary of a novice physician”. In the “Snapshot” category, the winners are Anthony Brown and Andrew Bryant for their eerie portrait of a well known cinematic villain emerging from the diverticulum in “The colonoscope strikes back: a diverticular Darth Vader”. Suitable hampers of Christmas cheer are on their way to these worthy winners.

Christmas Offerings

Christmas Offerings from previous years:
2006200520042003200220012000; 19991998