The chocolate ration is being increased to 25 grammes per week.

Monthly Archives: February 2011

Is Democracy destined to become this?

I don’t know about you, but the last 11 years have done a lot of damage to my feelings about the US.  I’m not saying the political climate before 2000 was perfect or even good, but what has happened in the last 11 years sometimes boggles the mind.  Now, there’s this new GOP movement to cull $100B (that’s a B for Billion) from the Federal budget.  Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett has written it would “mean abolishing just about every government function outside of entitlements, interest, and defense.”  This does, of course, mean it will not happen.  The small fringe group in the House that wants to do this will not get their way.

What is disturbing, though, is the mere fact there are a number of people in Congress who want to do this.  There have been other people than just little ol’ me who have said this would destroy our country.  This is not hyperbole.  It would literally remake the US into something completely different than it is now.  We could debate what that would be, but there is no debate that it would happen.  Entitlements are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  Interest is what we pay to service our debt.  Defense is the military.  That’s it.

Everything else that the Federal government does, including funding of State governments, would be terminated.  States like California would be better off, since it gets only $0.78 for every $1.00 paid by Californians in Federal taxes.  This isn’t true of many states, though.  Ironically, many are Red states receiving more in Federal funding than they pay in Federal taxes.  So, if you ignore the issue of what the Federal government does, the idea proposed will at a minimum push many states already on the edge over it.

Think of all those three letter agencies which keep you safe.  FDA and EPA come to mind.  What would businesses do without either of those?  Do you think they are some liberal plot to depress profits?  The EPA was created by Nixon.

There has been a war on the EPA for 15+ years.  I never understood this one.  I’ve been party to discussions on various websites where the anger toward the EPA was so far out of proportion I just couldn’t understand it.  Do not Conservatives also drink tap water or breath the same air as everyone else?  Here’s a good example: extraction of natural gas might pose quite a health risk.

The FDA has already been gutted.  Drugs are pushed through with minimal testing, and smaller and smaller trial sizes.  What is left is a shadow of the former agency.

I do agree with those that say the Federal government is too big and too inefficient.  There are many things it has no business funding.  This current attack, though, isn’t a fix for that, it’s a desire to bring down the government as we know it.  It’s a push to remake our country into something else.

The positive health benefits of Antioxidants? A myth, likely.

This has been bugging me for a long time. I read somewhere a few years ago (no link, sorry) that the whole antioxidants-are-good-for-you meme was completely made up a few decades ago and we just all assumed it was true. Now, articles like this about the positive benefits to eating chocolate appear (don’t get me started on the pseudo-science perpetrated by the HuffPo), which perpetuate the myth.  The article I read a few years ago said the author had done an extensive search of the medical literature to find studies that proved a link and found no studies, much less ones that found a positive link.  I just ran across this article, which appears to be the same as a New Scientist article that is behind a paywall.  This is the kicker for me (emphasis mine):

Green plants are full of antioxidants for good reason. They are especially vulnerable to oxidative stress since they produce pure oxygen during photosynthesis. To protect themselves they manufacture an assortment of potent antioxidants.

And so a hypothesis was born: dietary antioxidants are free-radical sponges that can stave off the diseases of old age. It was a great idea. “Putting two and two together, scientists assumed that these antioxidants were protective, and that taking them as supplements or in fortified foods should decrease oxidative damage and diminish disease,” says Halliwell, who pioneered research into free radicals and disease. “It was simple: we said free radicals are bad, antioxidants are good.”

Damn that is annoying! And even more annoying that humans will hear something and repeat it as fact. Not to mention the huge industry surrounding this crap science.

Terrorist killed by mobile provider

A Russian suicide bomber blows up by accident.
The suicide bomber, who had the device all rigged to blow via mobile text message, got a text message from her mobile phone provider, causing the connected explosive device to detonate.

No word if this person is a Darwin Award nominee.

Orwell is spinning a little faster now

This is why I give money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation: Newly Released Documents Detail FBI’s Plan to Expand Federal Surveillance Laws.

Ueli Steck speed solo Eiger record

It’s incomprehensible to mind what this guy has done. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up while watching the last snow face ascent. Amazing!

Single Malt Orphan Tears

This is a fantastic episode of The Colbert Report. Starts off with some discussion of Clarence Thomas and conflict of interest. Yeah, it’s comedy, but it’s pointed commentary on how screwed up our Supreme Court is.

Krumpin’: what will the kids think of next?

Krumpin’ ain’t for grandpa. And, these kids are 8 years old. Check it:

A good example of the law of unintended consequences

On one of our recent walks, I was trying to explain the law of unintended consequences to my 10 year old.  I don’t remember what example I came up with, but I wish I had just read Dr. Harris’s blog entry Acetaminophen and the War on Drugs, because it’s a perfect example.

I recommend you read it, but the short of it is:

The drug schedules put in place by Nixon are about restricting drugs that people want to abuse (to get high) and not about drug safety (otherwise, chemotherapy drugs would be on the schedule).  Companies, because they want to sell more drugs, have an incentive to move a drug from class IV to class III, because the latter class is less restricted and easier to prescribe.  In other words, you can make more money from a class III than a class IV drug.

Vicodin is, well, let’s let the good Dr. tell us:

which is the brand name combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opiate analgesic and acetaminophen is the generic name for tylenol. There was not (as still is not) a version of hydrocodone all by itself – you can only get the two in combination.

I’ll give you the punchline now:  acetaminophen is added to hydrocodone to make it toxic, and less useful to people that want to get high, because abusing it will damage your liver. In fact, this contributes to the 40,000 ER visits per year related to acute liver injury.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it now: the war on drugs is just stupid.

Lie to Me theme song

http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fenvoy510-20%2F8014%2F604f574c-d3e2-462e-88d8-3bc22e0cac20&Operation=GetDisplayTemplateLie to Me is one of my favorite shows.  Tim Roth is so much fun to watch.  The theme song is pretty damn good, too.  Shazam identified it for me as Brand New Day by Ryan Star.  Take a listen:

Amazon.com Widgets

TV tip: Misfits (UK)

My friend Andreas turned me on to the BBC series Misfits (not availble on DVD yet, unfortunately).  A better Heroes, as it were.  If you torrent, then you can probably find it that way.  Otherwise, keep an eye out for the DVD. Btw, it’s definitely R-rated.

Back To Bedlam [Explicit]One of the early episodes featured a song by James Blunt, You’re Beautiful, from his Back To Bedlam [Explicit] album.  Very nice.  Btw, the song was discovered with the Android app Shazam.