Archive for September 24th, 2007
Via ThinkProgress, this interesting factoid:
The post goes on to say:
At a recent news conference, President Bush accused supporters of an expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) of trying to “score political points.”
The fight over children’s health isn’t about chalking up political points. It’s about making sure millions of children have access to secure, quality health care.
The House will vote next week on legislation to expand SCHIP to cover 10 million children—4 million of whom are now uninsured. We need a strong bipartisan show of support for the bill to demonstrate to Bush just how isolated he is on this issue.
Click here to tell Congress to stick up for kids, not Bush.
And tell President Bush to sign the bill here.
The bill’s opponents argue the current program should merely be extended. And Bush has claimed the SCHIP bill contains “excessive spending,” even as he’s requested $200 billion more for the war in Iraq.
But because of a big increase in uninsured children in the United States, a simple extension of SCHIP would mean more children than ever would go without doctor visits and medications. With nearly 9 million uninsured children in this country now, we should be doing more to reach them, not less.
It’s time Bush’s allies stood up to him.
As Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) said of a “yes” vote on SCHIP:
It shows that, if [members of Congress] feel strongly about something, they are willing to stand up to the president and tell him.
LaHood is onto something—the American people want Congress to defy Bush. In a recent poll, 64 percent of voters disagreed with the president’s decision to veto SCHIP expansion.
They must know something Bush doesn’t—the SCHIP program works.
Thanks to the program, the number of uninsured children of low-income families has dropped by nearly one-third in a decade. But those gains are in peril as the number of uninsured children jumped to 8.7 million in 2006—an increase of 1 million in just two years.
Children need SCHIP more than ever before.
Tell your representative today to deny political cover to Bush, and instead cover 4 million more uninsured children. Click here to send Congress a message.
From a commenter:
You may be interested in an article relating to the War on Drugs from the current issue of Foreign Policy. I must admit that I have done no more than skim it while reading the magazine in a store, but it seems up your alley.
Many thanks. An article worth reading. It begins:
“The Global War on Drugs Can Be Won”
No, it can’t. A “drug-free world,” which the United Nations describes as a realistic goal, is no more attainable than an “alcohol-free world”—and no one has talked about that with a straight face since the repeal of Prohibition in the United States in 1933. Yet futile rhetoric about winning a “war on drugs” persists, despite mountains of evidence documenting its moral and ideological bankruptcy. When the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on drugs convened in 1998, it committed to “eliminating or significantly reducing the illicit cultivation of the coca bush, the cannabis plant and the opium poppy by the year 2008” and to “achieving significant and measurable results in the field of demand reduction.” But today, global production and consumption of those drugs are roughly the same as they were a decade ago; meanwhile, many producers have become more efficient, and cocaine and heroin have become purer and cheaper.
It’s always dangerous when rhetoric drives policy—and especially so when “war on drugs” rhetoric leads the public to accept collateral casualties that would never be permissible in civilian law enforcement, much less public health. Politicians still talk of eliminating drugs from the Earth as though their use is a plague on humanity. But drug control is not like disease control, for the simple reason that there’s no popular demand for smallpox or polio. Cannabis and opium have been grown throughout much of the world for millennia. The same is true for coca in Latin America. Methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs can be produced anywhere. Demand for particular illicit drugs waxes and wanes, depending not just on availability but also fads, fashion, culture, and competition from alternative means of stimulation and distraction. The relative harshness of drug laws and the intensity of enforcement matter surprisingly little, except in totalitarian states. After all, rates of illegal drug use in the United States are the same as, or higher than, Europe, despite America’s much more punitive policies.
An email from Marijuana Policy Project:
Late last week, Congress passed a measure involving the FDA that did not include a dangerous amendment that could have undermined the 12 state laws that are protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest and jail.
The FDA bill’s passage marks the defeat of the greatest threat the medical marijuana movement has ever faced.
The threat was in the form of an amendment that was authored by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and attached to the Senate version of the FDA bill back in April. The House thankfully omitted Sen. Coburn’s amendment from its version of the FDA bill, and the final bill that President Bush is expected to sign also did not include Sen. Coburn’s amendment.
This victory is the result of MPP’s tireless work on Capitol Hill — and your calls, e-mails, and faxes to your members of Congress. Also important were the behind-the-scenes calls from major MPP allies to key members of Congress.
If you haven’t yet made a donation to MPP this year, would you please consider giving $10 or more today to support our important work in Congress?
The defeat of Sen. Coburn’s amendment feels really, really good. He is perhaps the number-one opponent of medical marijuana in the U.S. Senate; for example, last year he told MPP’s lobbyist that “marijuana is not a medicine, and the doctors and scientists who say it is one are smoking it themselves.”
Sen. Coburn’s amendment was a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the medical marijuana laws in 12 states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington — by placing them under the authority of the FDA (in addition to the DEA), while not providing the same approval process for marijuana as for other drugs seeking FDA approval as prescription medicines.
If the Coburn amendment had become law, a federal agency could have sued, say, the Oregon government for the purpose of persuading a federal judge to shut down Oregon’s medical marijuana ID card program that has done so much to protect more than 10,000 patients in the state.
MPP and its allies on Capitol Hill successfully worked with members of the House and Senate to remove the offending provision from the final version of the bill — making new legislative allies in the process. The House passed the final FDA bill on Wednesday, and the Senate passed it on Thursday.
Again, this success would not have been possible without your support — in the form of contacting your legislators, and in the form of financial contributions. Influence in Congress is not easily gained.
Please make a donation to MPP today so that we can continue to push forward with ending marijuana prohibition in this country.
Just today, the FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Reports, which documented that our nation just hit a new all-time high for marijuana arrests in the U.S. — 829,627 arrests by local and state police (not the feds) in 2006 alone. That’s one marijuana arrest every 38 seconds.
Wikipedia’s entry on Albert Einstein looks good. Covering each phase of the physicist’s life, from childhood to death, it tells readers about his politics, religion and science. Honours named after him and books and plays about his life are listed. But there is one snag: there is no way to tell whether the information is true.
It is a problem that dogs every Wikipedia entry. Because anyone can edit any entry at any time, users do not generally know if they are looking at a carefully researched article, one that has had errors mischievously inserted, or a piece written by someone pushing their own agenda. As a result, although Wikipedia has grown in size and reputation since its launch in 2001 – around 7 per cent of all internet users now visit the site on any given day – its information continues to be treated cautiously.
That could be about to change. Over the past few years, a series of measures aimed at reducing the threat of vandalism and boosting public confidence in Wikipedia have been developed. Last month a project designed independently of Wikipedia, called WikiScanner, allowed people to work out what the motivations behind certain entries might be by revealing which people or organisations the contributions were made by (see “Who’s behind the entries?” below). Meanwhile the Wikimedia Foundation, the charity that oversees the online encyclopedia, now says it is poised to trial a host of new trust-based capabilities.
Over the past two years, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been on the Sunday talk shows 30 times, making her the most second frequent guest after Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE).
But that may be changing. In his Washington Post column, Howard Kurtz reveals that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is no longer a “prize catch” for the Sunday talk shows. She was recently turned down by both CBS and NBC:
The secretary of state has always been considered a prize catch for the Sunday talk shows. But when the White House offered Condoleezza Rice for appearances eight days ago, after a week focused on Iraq, two programs took the unusual step of turning her down.
Executives at CBS and NBC say Rice no longer seems to be a key player on the war and that her cautious style makes her a frustrating guest.
“I expected we’d just get a repetition of the administration’s talking points, which had already been well circulated,” says Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” who questioned two senators instead. “We’d had a whole week of that with General Petraeus and President Bush.”
Television media aren’t the only ones uninterested in Rice. A few months ago, every single major newspaper turned it down an op-ed by Rice on Lebanon. Price Floyd, formerly the State Department’s director of media affairs, recounted that the piece was filled glowing references to President Bush’s wise leadership and “read like a campaign document.”
Recent reports indicate that Rice’s influence within the White House is also waning, giving way to the more extreme policies of Cheney and his allies. A Newsweek article in June found that Cheney’s national-security team had “been actively challenging Rice’s Iran strategy in recent months.” In April, Rice advocated that five members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard be freed from captivity, but she was overruled after Cheney “made the firmest case for keeping them.”
These reports contrast when Rice first became Secretary of State. The media gushingly predicted she would succeed because she and Bush “know each other so well they have conversations based on body language” and speculated that she may even run for president in 2008.
This past Sunday, none of the five network talk shows turned down Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and Fox.
Why spend your career sniffing bad breath?
It’s an intellectual gold mine – albeit a smelly one – and it’s a problem that almost everyone suffers from or worries about. Furthermore, you can learn almost everything you want to know about bacteria from the mouth. At least 600 different bacterial species live there. For them, it’s like living in a tropical rainforest. Most have adapted exclusively to the oral cavity. Understanding bacteria is essential for understanding life.
What causes the smell?
Bacteria feed on food debris, dead cells and mucus by clipping off sugar linkages on glycoproteins, which exposes polypeptides. Next, other types of bacteria break down these exposed polypeptides into their building blocks, which break down further into individual amino acids, and eventually foul-smelling gases. These include volatile sulphur compounds, such as hydrogen sulphide and methyl mercaptan, and nitrogen-containing gases such as skatole and indole, which smell like faeces. Other nitrogenous gases that may be involved include cadaverine and putrescine, whose odours are related to corpses and decay. Dozens of gases are probably involved.
Where are the bacteria most prolific?
The most common source of the smell is the back of the tongue. We think that a mucus secretion from your nose, called post-nasal drip, rolls down the back of the throat, where some of it sticks to the tongue for hours or even days. Bad breath can also come from poor oral hygiene and dental problems, the nasal passages, the tonsils, and hundreds of medical conditions.
Did you start your career studying bad breath?
My PhD was focused on finding out how bacteria that degrade oil after an ocean spill stick to the tiny oil droplets, which they break down to derive energy.
Later, in the early 1980s, I joined the fledgling dental faculty at Tel Aviv University and embarked upon a project with my dentist friend Ervin Weiss to find out whether oral bacteria would also stick to oils. At the time, almost nobody in academia was studying bad breath. And anyway, researchers tended to be industry based and so were not publishing their methods or data.
You discovered that bacteria’s fondness for oil could make for a lucrative breath freshener. How?
Bacteria need to stick to surfaces in the mouth and to one another, to avoid being washed down the throat to the gut where few survive. We developed the notion of “beating adhesion with adhesion”. We figured that if we could also get the bacteria to stick to oil droplets that a person could spit out, we might have a commercial product. Our first idea was an oily toothpaste, but it turned out that this had already been patented, though not successfully produced. So we turned to mouthwash.
The resulting product, called Dentyl pH, is now marketed by the US company Blistex. [Not yet---at least it's not shown on the Blistex Web site. - LG] It is now one of the top two mouthwash brands in the UK and we plan to market it globally.
What are your top tips for fragrant breath?
First ask a trusted family member to what extent you suffer from the problem: it may not be as bad as you think. Gargle mouthwash with your tongue sticking out, because it allows the mouthwash to reach the back of your tongue. Don’t use mouthwash straight after brushing because toothpaste contains foaming soap, which takes some of the mouthwash’s effective ingredients out of commission by binding to them.
The best time is just before bed so the mouthwash is active all night. When you sleep, bacteria produce more odours because there is minimal saliva flow to wash them away. Beyond that, clean your tongue, visit the dentist twice a year, avoid coffee and alcohol, eat a good breakfast with rough foods, and remember to floss once a day.
This Rocker Cradle from Scott Morrison is a classic revisited. Morrison, who lives in Montana in a house on a mountain, specializes in creating unique wood furnishings. This chair updates a 1700s Windsor style nanny rocker by using spindles that connect the shapes of the base and the rail creating a harmoniously fluid sculptural effect. The rocker is made using a variety of hand tools and is done with an attention to detail that takes into account the unique personality of the wood. Each piece is also hand rubbed with a mixture of tung oil and resin for a protected finish. The chair in English Walnut sells for $10,500.
Interesting, if depressing, list. Some few entries:
Say Goodbye to French Wines
Wacky temperatures and rain cycles brought on by global warming are threatening something very important: Wine. Scientists believe global warming will “shift viticultural regions toward the poles, cooler coastal zones and higher elevations.” What that means in regular language: Get ready to say bye-bye to French Bordeaux and hello to British champagne. [LA Times]
Say Goodbye to Light and Dry Wines
Warmer temperatures mean grapes in California and France develop their sugars too quickly, well before their other flavors. As a result, growers are forced to either a) leave the grapes on the vines longer, which dramatically raises the alcoholic content of the fruit or b) pick the grapes too soon and make overly sweet wine that tastes like jam. [Washington Post]
Say Goodbye to Pinot Noir
The reason you adore pinot noir is that it comes from a notoriously temperamental thin-skinned grape that thrives in cool climates. Warmer temperatures are already damaging the pinots from Oregon, “baking away” the grape’s berry flavors. [Bloomberg]
Say Goodbye to Christmas Trees
The Pine Bark Beetle, which feeds on and kills pine trees, used to be held in control by cold winter temperatures. Now the species is thriving and killing off entire forests in British Columbia, unchecked. [Seattle Post Intelligencer]
I think I’m about 5 or 6 purchases of the Guide to be in the top 1000 titles at Lulu.com. So if you haven’t bought a copy—for yourself or for a loved one—do buy one now so I can break 1000. Just click the image of the book at the top right of this page. Thank you. [end of commercial message]
Unclutterer.com has some good tips:
- You don’t have to unclutter in one fell swoop. Many projects, spread out over weeks and months, will get you the same results as if you had tackled it all at once.
- Benefits of uncluttering can include being better organized, less stressed, and having fewer things to clean. When you walk into a room, you’re able to relax because there is a place for everything and everything is in its place.
- Your motivations and visions for your uncluttered life are your guiding star when taking on uncluttering projects. Keep your eyes on your goals and you’ll find that uncluttering has less to do about the stuff and more about the life you want to lead.
- You can do it!
- You don’t have to unclutter alone. Seek out friends, family, or organizational professionals to help with motivation and keep you focused on your uncluttering goals.
- Keep things in perspective. If you relapse and get bogged down, don’t become frustrated and beat yourself up over it. Start again tomorrow. This is home and office organization, it’s not brain surgery. There are worse things in the world than not succeeding your first time with an uncluttering project.
- The person with the most amount of stuff at the end of his or her life doesn’t win an award.
- The person with the least amount of stuff at the end of his or her life doesn’t win an award, either. Living an uncluttered life doesn’t mean that you have to live an ascetic life. Simple living is about getting rid of distractions that prevent you from enjoying a modern, luxurious life. It’s about smart consumption, not no consumption. As Albert Einstein said, “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.”
Here’s the story. Note that 4 or above merits treatment—seriously.
No, not slow down in your car—though that’s probably not a bad idea—but in your life:
Why rush through life? Do you want it to be over so soon? Doesn’t it take time to appreciate its joys and experiences?
- Time to learn. Time is necessary to learn, to think, to reflect, and to internalize fresh ideas. The more you rush, the more you are forced to stick with what you already know.
- Time to think. Time to plan, to prioritize, and to choose how best to expend your attention and energy. Doing anything in haste increases the risks of missing key elements, making needless mistakes, and wasting effort.
- Time to enjoy. Rushing through an experience robs it of most of its value. Gobbling down a fine meal, leafing through a work of literature with more than half your mind elsewhere, allocating 10 seconds to see the sunset. You might as well not bother.
- Time for others. It’s not only unpleasant and callous to deny the people close to you your time and attention, it’s downright rude. Why do so many relationships break down nowadays? My bet is that those involved simply don’t allocate enough time to spend together, learning how to enjoy one another’s company.
- Time to be creative. You need time to reflect and see the links between items or areas of knowledge. The human brain doesn’t work well with disconnected ideas or pieces of information. In all those “gaps” where they appear to be doing nothing at all, the world’s outstanding creative minds are hard at work reflecting, ruminating, “noodling” with odd ideas—tinkering with patterns and unexpected connections. What you see as the result is a mental iceberg: nearly all the activity that brought it about is hidden below the surface.
- Time just to be. This is the only life you have. How much of it have you missed already because your attention and energy were elsewhere? How much will you still miss, because your days are so filled with activities that there’s no space left to just to live?
Money isn’t a substitute for time. However much you make, without time you can’t spend it or appreciate what you spent it on. Nor is wealth a substitute for love. And making more quick profits is definitely no substitute for true business success.
How much time do you really need?
How much of other people’s time are you worth? A few minutes? An hour? A day? A year? How long should they take to appreciate the full flavor of who you are as a colleague or a person? Would giving you less time than that mean they sold you short?
Fine, so that’s how much of their time you believe that you’re worth. Now, how much of your time should you give them?
Time is the magic ingredient. Take it away and what’s left is virtually worthless. Rushed, frantic living is no living at all.
An interesting paper by Richard Dawkins on the use of memes to propagate faith.
In Iraq the Army is placing weapons and explosives as “bait” and then killing those who pick them up. So an Iraqi civilian walking along sees an explosive and thinks, “Oh, my God. Terrorists are going to get that and kill us with another car bomb,” and picks up the explosive to take it to the police station. The civilian is then shot dead.
Let’s face it, if you were taking a walk and found an AK47 in the road, would you just leave it there? Or would you pick it up and take it to the police station?
A Pentagon group has encouraged some U.S. military snipers in Iraq to target suspected insurgents by scattering pieces of “bait,” such as detonation cords, plastic explosives and ammunition, and then killing Iraqis who pick up the items, according to military court documents.
The classified program was described in investigative documents related to recently filed murder charges against three snipers who are accused of planting evidence on Iraqis they killed.
“Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy,” Capt. Matthew P. Didier, the leader of an elite sniper scout platoon attached to the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment, said in a sworn statement. “Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. Forces.”
In documents obtained by The Washington Post from family members of the accused soldiers, Didier said members of the U.S. military’s Asymmetric Warfare Group visited his unit in January and later passed along ammunition boxes filled with the “drop items” to be used “to disrupt the AIF [Anti-Iraq Forces] attempts at harming Coalition Forces and give us the upper hand in a fight.”
Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said such a baiting program should be examined “quite meticulously” because it raises troubling possibilities, such as what happens when civilians pick up the items.
“In a country that is awash in armaments and magazines and implements of war, if every time somebody picked up something that was potentially useful as a weapon, you might as well ask every Iraqi to walk around with a target on his back,” Fidell said.
When a group knows that something is bad for children, and does it anyway, what do you call that? What’s the opposite of empathy? Perhaps it could even be termed “evil,” especially when you knowingly take actions that will harm children even when it’s against the law. Here’s the story:
Despite a state law that seeks to prevent schools from being built near freeways and mounting evidence that road pollutants harm children’s lungs, the Los Angeles Unified School District is in the process of adding seven new schools to the more than 70 already located close to highways.
Last year, more than 60,000 L.A. Unified students attended school within 500 feet of a freeway, records show.
A 2003 state law prohibits school districts from building campuses within 500 feet of a freeway, unless the district can mitigate the pollution or determines that space limitations are so severe that there are no other options. In Los Angeles, officials say their choices have become more and more limited.
As the district undertakes a $20-billion school construction and modernization program, officials have considered a number of sites close to freeways. The district is now building five schools on lots that are within 500 feet of them.
In the coming months, the Board of Education will decide whether to begin construction of two more: Central Region Middle School No. 9 at Euclid Avenue and 7th Street, near Interstate 10, and Central Region High School No. 15, at 2100 Marengo Street, adjacent to the 10 near the interchange with the 5 Freeway. Those campuses are in addition to the nine L.A. Unified charter and regular district schools that have opened near freeways since 1997.
As the construction program continues, the Board of Education could be facing more such decisions.
School board President Monica Garcia, in whose district both pending schools are located, said through a spokesman that she was concerned about children’s health [naturally she would say that, but actions speak louder than words - LG], but that she would support the new campuses if the district was able to mitigate the dangers.
My 10″ cast-iron skillet is heaped high with onions slowly cooking over low heat. I’ll check them every 15 minutes. I’m following this method. My roast-beef sandwiches are now going to be very good. I also got some Gorgonzola cheese at Costco yesterday…
Take a look:
In a population-based study involving 349 volunteers (male = 52.7%, mean age = 50.7 years, primary non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) = 30.9%), results indicate that higher intake of soft drinks and meat may be associated with an increased risk of NAFLD. Diet information was gathered using a semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire. The subjects with NAFLD consumed almost twice the amount of soft drinks, 27% more meat, and somewhat less fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, than subjects without NAFLD. Additionally, after adjusting for age, gender, BMI and total calories, the intake of soft drinks was associated with a 45% increased risk for NAFLD. Similarly, meat consumption was associated with a 37% increased risk of NAFLD. Thus, the results of this study suggest that higher consumption of soft drinks and meat may increase the risk for NAFLD.
“Long term nutritional intake and the risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): A population based study,” Zelber-Sagi S, Oren R, et al, J Hepatol, 2007 Aug 14; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: The Liver Unit, Department of Gastroenterology, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv 64239, Israel. E-mail: email@example.com ).
The finding below is representative of many studies involving fish oil (and thus omega-3 fatty acids) and mental health. I take 4 grams of fish oil daily (wild salmon oil, to be precise): 2 grams with breakfast and 2 grams with dinner. See also this post; at the end is a link to a PDF of a very interesting article on omega-3. You can also search the blog for “omega-3″ and find lots of articles.
In a prospective cohort study involving 7,903 participants, results indicate that moderate intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and fish consumption may lower the risk of mental disorder (depression, anxiety, or stress). Omega-3 PUFA and fish consumption were assessed using a validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. After 2 years of follow-up, 173 cases of depression, 335 cases of anxiety and 4 cases of stress were identified. Using logistic regression models adjusted for potential confounders, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quintiles of omega-3 PUFA intake were associated with 28%, 21%, and 35% reduced risks for mental disorder. Similarly, moderate consumption of fish (3rd (median = 83.3 g/day) and 4th quintiles (median = 112 g/day)) was associated with more than a 30% reduced risk for mental disorder. Thus, the authors of this study conclude, “A potential benefit of omega-3 PUFA intake on total mental disorders is suggested, although no linear trend was apparent.”
“Long chain omega-3 fatty acids intake, fish consumption and mental disorders in the SUN cohort study,” Sanchez-Villegas A, Henriquez P, et al, Eur J Nutr, 2007; 46(6): 337-46. (Address: Dept. of Clinical Sciences, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, P.O. Box 550, 35080, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ).