Ricky's Riffs:

Random Thoughts on Travel, Education, Health, and the World in General


Book Review: “Witches, Nurses and Midwives” by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English

May 17th, 2018

Witches, Nurses, Midwives (WNM) is one of the seminal works of second-wave feminism.  It was written in 1973 by two professors at State University of New York at Westbury, a new public college. At SUNY Westbury the curriculum included alternative subjects, such as Women’s Studies, and served a student body of older, ethnically diverse and working class students. Professor Barbara Ehrenreich went on to become one of our most important cultural critics; Professor Deirdre English, a prominent journalist, author, and an editor for Mother Jones.

This book was originally published as a pamphlet.  Passed from person to person, it became an underground classic, addressing power, misogyny, and class struggle in the evolution of American medicine and health care.Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: “Irresistible: The Rise Of Addictive Technology And The Business Of Keeping Us Hooked” by Eric Alter

March 26th, 2018

With the recent revelations about the Russian trolling of the 2016 presidential election, during which both Facebook and Twitter were manipulated by a foreign power, we are witnessing the beginning of a national reckoning with social media.  A global network that was initially seen as a great gift to humankind is now being reconsidered.

Hailed as a great unifier, and a way to connect people—social media was the force behind the Arab Spring and other revolutionary movements—the broader implications of this network have come crashing down on us.  There has even been a good deal of hand wringing among some ex-Facebook executives, who have had second thoughts about what they have created.

Irresistible, the new book by Eric Alter, that describes the effects of social media on our children and the science behind those effects, sheds light on some of the reasons for this soul searching.Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: “The Healing of America” by T.R. Reid

October 19th, 2017

Part of my frustration, as I watch the current health care debate, is realizing that most of those charged with reforming our economy simply do not understand the health care system. This holds true from the House of Representatives up to the Presidency.

The health care sector is one sixth of the US economy.  Those making decisions need to be educated about how this behemoth works. What are the cost drivers? Where are the inefficiencies? What are the relationships between interest groups—such as the pharmaceutical, medical device, hospital and insurance lobbies—and legislators in Washington, DC? Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: “An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business And How You Can Take It Back” by Elisabeth Rosenthal

August 2nd, 2017

The Republican Congress has been doing its best to bring down the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and replace it with the cruel joke that would be known as “Trumpcare.” Despite the fact that only 17% of the public supports the Republican proposals, the GOP is still trying to burn the ACA to the ground.

It is in this environment that Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal’s new book–An American Sickness–has arrived. The timing could not be better!Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: “Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery”

July 12th, 2017

Crooked Book CoverI first heard about Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery from a patient of mine who was about to undergo his second spinal surgery.

“Wow, she really trashes chiropractic big time,” he let me know. “And I think the book is getting a lot of notice.”

So first, a disclaimer: I am a chiropractor.

But I am not one to shy away from criticism, so I immediately bought the book and started reading.  Granted, it was hard for me to take in the venomous barrage aimed at my profession. But I plowed forward.Read the rest of this entry »