Thursday assorted links

by on January 21, 2016 at 12:31 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The Council of Psychological Advisers.

2. Do not put Q-tips in your ears.

3. Thrillers and noir novels with economics.

4. Caveat emptor:  Glenn Loury, Ann Althouse, and Donald Trump.

5. Michel Tournier has passed away, NYT hereFriday was my favorite novel of his, and it was his first novel which he published at the age of 43.

6. Who advises the various candidates?

1 Ted Craig January 21, 2016 at 12:38 pm

3. Dick Francis has a lot of material about how businesses work in his books, such as the wine merchant’s trade in “Proof.” Also, what about Paul Erdman? He wrote his Edgar-winning novel while in jail.

2 Bill Benzon January 21, 2016 at 1:03 pm
3 Tyler Cowen January 21, 2016 at 3:17 pm
4 jeff January 21, 2016 at 1:13 pm

#2 I am 31 years old and have been using q-tips in my ears since a child. I can remember maybe 1-2 times in my life that it seemed to hurt a bit because I was a bit careless in inserting the q-tip into my ear. I had ear infections as a child (prior to using q-tips) but never had any ear problems as an adult.

It is not clear to me why I should stop q-tipping my ears.

Has anyone stopped q-tipping after doing it for a long time? How long until you stopped missing it?

5 BruceB January 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Agreed. I had repeated problems with wax accumulation and hearing loss in my late teens requiring ear flushing by an ENT. This problem stopped when I started “tipping”. I’ve now been tipping after every shower for over 30 years and never have ear problems. If I shower without tipping I feel like I have water sloshing in my ear for hours. My ear never itches, so I’m not doing it to scratch an itch. I assume those with problems have very sensitive ears or are just overdoing it.

6 Hazel Meade January 21, 2016 at 1:54 pm

You might have euchastian tube dysfunction. If so, it’s not that the Q-tip that is getting any water out, it’s that the Q-tip wiggling is popping open the euchastian tube whch releives the pressure behind the eardrum. There are other ways to pop open the euchastian tube though. Holding your nose and blowing out your ears, chewing gum, and wiggling your ear can help pop it open.

7 BruceB January 21, 2016 at 2:22 pm

The Q-tip goes in dry and comes out wet.. Therefore, the Q-tip is removing water. Popping my ears (which I’m really good at doing) does not help – the water from showering is on the opposite side of the eardrum from the eustachian tube.
(Sorry everyone, TMI)

8 Hazel Meade January 21, 2016 at 3:47 pm

I’m just saying, the symptom of feeling like you have water in your ear is the main symptom of euchastian tube dysfunction. If that feeling persists for “hours” after a shower, it suggests there might be something more going on than just water in your ear.

9 Hazel Meade January 21, 2016 at 1:47 pm

I occasionally use a Q-Tip to clean my ears when I feel like there is a wax buildup or something is irritating my ear.
However, I’m pretty well aware that you aren’t supposed to do that. It just seems like there are occasional circumstances where nothing else gives me releif. I had eucastian tube dysfunction while I was pregnent and between blowing out my ears and Q-tips it was the only way to stop feeling like I had water trapped in there.

The correct thing to do is to flush your ear with one of those ear wax removal solutions. Q-tipping is just a guilty pleasure. It feels good, but it’s not good for your ears.

10 Jeff R. January 21, 2016 at 4:20 pm

The flushing is very inconvenient. All that lying on your side, fizzing, popping, tickling, and then not being able to hear very well out of that ear for the next day or two.

11 Hazel Meade January 21, 2016 at 4:57 pm

That’s why I stick a Q-Tip in afterwards to remove any gunk that got loosened up by the flushing.

12 reply to Jeff R January 21, 2016 at 10:05 pm

I researched this issue pretty thoroughly several months ago. My advice to anyone with anything but minor issues with Q-Tips or Debrox is that you absolutely have to tell your doctor why you think you have those issues and ask the doctor for common sense advice and follow it. For example, there is no person on earth who has a need for Q-tips in the ear post-shower if you simply understand that drying your ears with a light rubbing from a towel and, if necessary, a twenty or thirty seconds stream of warm air from a hairdryer, is enough. Similarly, an application from Debrox can easily be followed by a shower – twenty seconds of water flowing in and out of the ear, with the help of gravity (that is, hold your head in such a way that the goop flows out) , is sufficient to clear the residue of the gooey stuff that Debrox leaves behind. By the way, the evolution of this comment thread suggests to me that no GPs or other doctors with relevant experience like to post here. So even a high quality website comment section like this is NOT A GOOD PLACE to get information on medical issues that can cause discomfort or sickness down the road!!!

13 Ray Lopez January 21, 2016 at 9:35 pm

+1 makes sense. I’ve resolved to not insert my tip deep, and I just told my gf and she agrees.

14 Baphomet January 21, 2016 at 1:49 pm

When I first broke through into the brain I was concerned, but now I would not live without the funny thoughts and movements that can be induced in this manner.

15 BruceB January 21, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Yes, the best commenters here Q-tip their ear canals.

16 anon January 21, 2016 at 5:22 pm

I Q-tip up to the point where my ear canal turns back and is no longer visible from the outside. This gets ride of the unsightly wax but doesn’t damage my ears.

17 guest January 21, 2016 at 9:15 pm

and why is it always orange, like carrots?

18 mkt42 January 21, 2016 at 1:19 pm

2: The article failed the mention the most succinct and memorable advice: “never put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear.”

I remember reading an article about a football player who’d showered after a game and was walking around the locker room swabbing his ear with a Q-Tip and tripped and fell and punctured his eardrum.

And Asian and American Indian/Native American earwax and underarms smell better than those of whites and blacks.

19 Ray Lopez January 21, 2016 at 9:40 pm

It’s well known Asians smell better than Whites, and Whites trump Blacks (D. Trump would agree). It’s as you say. Asians have almost no smell. Arguably, smell is correlated with aggression (recall the studies that say apes and primitive man smell bad to signal to other predators that they are ‘bad ass’ and don’t care if they can be detected, which scares the other predators) so putting II + sqrt(4) together, you could say that for aggression, blacks > whites > yellows, which seems to confirm to my priors.

20 j r January 21, 2016 at 11:29 pm

Man, if you don’t have a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, then our tax money is being wasted even more than I already suspected.

21 jim jones January 21, 2016 at 1:33 pm

Bernie Sanders listens to Paul Krugman? Reason enough not to vote for him.

22 Don Reba January 21, 2016 at 1:55 pm

2. “We continue to twist Q-tips in our ears thanks to a simple truth: It feels great. Our ears are filled with sensitive nerve endings, which send signals to various other parts of our bodies. Tickling their insides triggers all sorts of visceral pleasure.”

Great, now I want to try it.

23 Hazel Meade January 21, 2016 at 3:50 pm

It does feel good, but it’s about the same kind/level of pleasure as picking your nose.

24 Thor January 22, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Don’t knock it! I mean the practice, not your nose.

25 Carter Ferrell January 21, 2016 at 2:00 pm

I will continue q-tipping my ears, thank you. There is no number of public health advisories that could possibly convince me otherwise.

In fact, when I get home tonight I will q-tip my ears in protest.

26 nigel January 21, 2016 at 2:18 pm


Liquid democracy — nice idea, but fatal flaw: somebody knows who voted for whom. The whole black bean/white bean in the urn concept is sort of a necessary condition for democracy. Otherwise, you can intimidate people for voting a certain way.

27 Rich C January 21, 2016 at 2:41 pm

Is the caveat emptor for supporters of Donald Trump, or for the crony-capitalism capitalists who bought the crony-capitalism politicians, thereby fostering the disdain that enables Trump?

28 Albigensian January 21, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Perhaps the warning on the Q-Tips box is actually just marketing to encourage users to put them in their ear canals, while avoiding any resulting liability should they do so? Consider:

During the CB radio craze of the 1970s, one could buy an amplifier to increase the transmitter power far beyond what the FCC allowed. These amplifiers were supposedly sold for use on the 10m amateur radio band (where their use by appropriately licensed operators was permitted), but they came with instructions describing exactly how to connect and adjust the amp for use with a CB radio, plus text telling you not to do that (because if you did you’d be violating FCC regulations).

Apparently non-alcoholic “wine bricks” (containing dehydrated grape juice, sugar, and yeast?) were sold during prohibition, along with instructions describing exactly how you should not use them to make wine:

And, please,heed the sign on that that slot machine in the bar: really, it’s “for amusement only.”

29 spencer January 21, 2016 at 3:54 pm

you mean the Q-tip warning is just a marketing ploy like an erection lasting longer than 4 hours?

30 Hazel Meade January 21, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Is that how they sell Viagra?

31 HL January 21, 2016 at 8:29 pm

This product is not meant for human consumption (and if you do you’ll get really high and feel good)

32 Donald Pretari January 21, 2016 at 3:02 pm

#5…A great writer. Gilles and Jeanne is my favorite. His essays are very good, as well.

33 Urstoff January 21, 2016 at 4:05 pm

People aren’t nearly as irrational about politics as they are about q-tipping their ears.

34 Hazel Meade January 21, 2016 at 4:55 pm


35 Cooper January 21, 2016 at 8:25 pm

It’s a low risk, moderate reward activity.

Q-tipping your ear is pleasurable.

The risks seem low because unless you’re an ENT specialist, you’ve probably never met anyone who has been physically injured by their q-tip habit.

36 Kevin Postlewaite January 21, 2016 at 7:47 pm

#3: Not exactly in the same grouping as Thrillers/Noir but I was surprised by the amount of economics/markets that were in the Lone Ranger radio broadcasts when I listened to a bunch of them recently with my son. One episode was even centered around an evil rancher trying to flood one of the cattle markets to drive down the price, drive his neighbors/competitors out of business and take over their ranches (the evil rancher had underwritten loans to his neighbors, IIRC so he could foreclose on them). Then the evil rancher could reap extra profits in the years to come after he became the sole supplier in that particular market. SPOILER: he was foiled when the Lone Ranger assisted one of the other ranchers in getting their cattle to the market ahead of time and making a deal whereby the major purchaser at the market purchased the good rancher’s cattle and committed to not purchasing the evil rancher’s cattle, putting the evil rancher himself out of business. (It was never clear to me why the purchaser didn’t use his market power to make a lot of money himself in this situation but I guess that’s what’s needed for a moral story)

37 Ray Lopez January 21, 2016 at 9:44 pm

@KP – that Hollywood script writers don’t get economics right, and are socialists, is pretty well known. Also the evil capitalist is a cliché.

38 Todd Kreider January 21, 2016 at 10:31 pm

OK, this is important, Get rid of the Q-tips, The Japanese know what they’re doing (I hope). They use a long , thin bamboo stick about 8 inches long with a tiny “cup” at the end. That scoops your ear wax out rather than Q tips that push it in,

Caveat: You have to really trust your spouse, friend or main squeeze with this. I’d say avoid the home remedy and just got to the ENT dude when you are no longer hearing your favorite tunes in stereo. That happened to me in 1998, and a clean bill of ear health since.

39 Shane M January 24, 2016 at 9:54 pm

I use the curved end of a bobby pin to do the scooping. Not sure if I should, but my ears feel better getting the gunk out.

40 PavelD January 22, 2016 at 12:26 am

#2 Bottom of article. “When I treat people with recurring ear problems, I make them promise they’re going to throw away their Q-tips and never buy them again. The ones who keep coming back with infections are the ones who don’t listen.”

Opposite causation? People with ear infections may be less able to listen.

41 Hopaulius January 22, 2016 at 12:39 am

Correlation does not prove causation.

42 Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 4:25 am

Or some people get ear infections chronically regardless of whether they use Q-tips.

I’m amazed that an actual doctor would have such a simplistic view of things. He could have said ‘presumably SOME of the ones who keep coming back ignore me’, but no, he seems to think that Q-tips are the only cause of recurring ear infections.

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