Was it rickets that ailed "Tiny Tim" Cratchit, the waif who stirred Scrooge's conscience in A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens's 1843 classic? His symptoms certainly fit with the disease. So does his milieu: rickets, caused by a lack of vitamin D, was rife among those who toiled from dawn to dusk in the dingy factories of Victorian Britain.
Now, astonishingly, vitamin D deficiency is again becoming a significant health concern in rich countries. Reversing this trend is not difficult, in principle. Just half an hour a day in the sun during summer lets our skin make enough vitamin D to last all year.
In the UK, cases of childhood rickets have leapt from 147 in 1997 to 762 in 2010. The story may be similar in the US: a study published by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, found that only 5 to 13 per cent of breastfed infants and 20 to 37 per cent of formula-fed babies got enough vitamin D to meet the recommended daily dose.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.