Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It’s the South Philly cheesesteak diet

But they do lower the cholesterol in vampires--I believe that the three things medical science knows the least about are nutrition, sex and lower back pain.

Remember all those studies showing how vitamins, especially the antioxidants, prevented all kinds of diseases, from the heart break of psoriasis to actual heart break? Foolish of us to believe any of it.

A meta-analysis from Denmark by the respected Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group in Copenhagen, published in JAMA [click here] finds absolutely no benefit in terms of longevity from taking the antioxidants. In fact, instead of living longer, subjects who took many supplements had a modest decrease in longevity. Meta-analysis--for those unfamiliar with the jargon--means they didn’t do the research themselves; they took published papers, extracted the ones they thought worthy, and then did a statistical analysis of them all to draw stastically valid conclusions. When done well, it is a valid form of tracking data.

They used all the studies up to October 2005 involving beta carotene, vitamins A, C and E as well as selenium, compared in blind tests with placebos or nothing, 68 studies worldwide, 232,606 subjects. They found no significant effect on mortality. In 47 studies they actually found an increase in mortality for everything except vitamin C and selenium. Subjects died earlier than those who did not take the supplements. They concluded: “treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E may increase mortality. The potential roles of vitamin C and selenium on mortality need further study.”

Criticism of the studies, of course, came immediately [here and here] but why critics bother, I don’t know. Just wait a few months and you will get another study contradicting this one. Meanwhile, I take vitamins.

Remember the studies on garlic and cholesterol? Another reported dud. Multiple studies now show no effect on cholesterol from taking garlic pills or garlic mash potatoes or garlic bread (damn!). All those other studies were all wrong. No study has yet disproven the effects of garlic on vampires although I can tell you I cook extensively with garlic and we have never been bothered by vampires. Nunca. Zero vampires.

As I said, the three things....

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Decline of Western Civilization--Part VI, or the decomposing Ms. Smith—UPDATED

We interrupt this newscast for a Fox exclusive: Anne Nicole Smith’s body is decomposing and Cheney blames Hillary--If you, like me, have been appalled at the coverage of Ms Smith’s untimely departure from celebrity and life, and wondered what would happen if one of the 24-hour news networks broke ranks and actually covered actual news, I have bad news for you

CNN, which has become less and less relevant in the U.S. in recent years with its slide into junk news, decided to cover the news (there is a war going on, there is another war being planned and the country is going to hell) with an exclusive interview with Condi Rice, while Fox and MSNBC stuck with the decomposing Ms Smith and the totally hilarious court case over who gets the increasingly offensive body. CNN got clobbered. In the afternoon cycle both MSNBC and Fox creamed them, with CNN getting a third of the ratings of the other two. See here. MSNBC even killed two news shows to continue covering the hearing. Unfortunately, they don’t do IQ tests on the audience and advertisers don’t seem to care if the famous youth age group they find so attractive can chew gum and masturbate at the same time.

If you get bored with Ms. Smith [that's her Houston police mug shot up there--I have no idea why she was arrested, being actively irrelevant is not a criminal offense], there is always Ms Spears. She shaved her head and went into therapy. Oh, and the Sunni insurgency is now using poison gas in Iraq

This is not a serious country. The Romans in the 3rd century are the closet match I can think of. Unlike the Romans, however, we are not going to be invaded by barbarians. We are going to become barbarians.

UPDATE—No, Ms. Smith is still decomposing. But on Saturday, the esteemed New York Times printed a half dozen letters defending all the folks who turned on cable to catch the latest contretemps over the corpse. The message was that the world is such a mess, and the country is such a mess, and there doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do about it since the government is not responding, we are entitled to a break to worry about something unimportant and to be amused at the people who think it is important. Nonsense.

BULLETIN--Anna Nichole Smith is still dead.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Somewhere in Texas a village is missing its idiot

Darwin, of course, changed his name for business purposes—In America, we have a president who thinks the Theory of Evolution is just another theory. In Britain they put Charles Darwin on their money, the £10 note. Here we still argue. The rest of the world—appropriately—laughs. It just got funnier.

Try this from a Texas newspaper:

By ROBERT T. GARRETT / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN - The second most powerful member of the Texas House has circulated a Georgia lawmaker's call for a broad assault on teaching of evolution. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, used House operations Tuesday to deliver a memo from Georgia state Rep. Ben Bridges.

The memo assails what it calls "the evolution monopoly in the schools." Mr. Bridges' memo claims that teaching evolution amounts to indoctrinating students in an ancient Jewish sect's beliefs.

"Indisputable evidence - long hidden but now available to everyone - demonstrates conclusively that so-called 'secular evolution science' is the Big Bang, 15-billion-year, alternate 'creation scenario' of the Pharisee Religion," writes Mr. Bridges, a Republican from Cleveland, Ga. He has
argued against teaching of evolution in Georgia schools for several years. He then refers to a Web site, www.fixedearth.com, that contains a model bill for state Legislatures to pass to attack instruction on evolution as an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

Mr. Bridges also supplies a link to a document that describes scientists Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein as "Kabbalists" and laments "Hollywood's unrelenting role in flooding the movie theaters with explicit or implicit endorsement of evolutionism." .....


Naturally, you want to blame the Jews. Darwin’s real name, of course, was Chaim Darwinsky from Chelm, and this is a Jewish plot to undermine a Christian America. We had a speaker at the latest meeting of ZOG, the Zionist Occupation Government. Sorry you missed it. We served cake. It was at my house. Nice turnout, by the way.

How weird is it? Well actually:
The theory of evolution accords with the secrets of Kabbalah better than any other theory. Evolution follows a path of ascent and thus provides the world with a basis for optimism. How can one despair, seeing that everything evolves and ascends? When we penetrate the inner nature of evolution, we find divinity illuminated in perfect clarity. Ein Sof [the essence or light of God] generates, actualizes potential infinity.

From The Essential Kabbalah; the heart of Jewish mysticism, by Daniel C. Matt.
You really gotta go the the fixed earth website cited above. Keep in mind this man was elected to a state legislature. Keep in mind that Chisum was too. When the story was published and was met with waves of hilarity, Chisum recanted and apologized Don’t you really miss Molly Ivins now? [Yes, that’s her line above]

As someone pointed out, if Darwinsky actually said only the fittest survive, Chisum, Hall and Bridges are living proof he was wrong.

The president of the Fair Education Foundation, Marshall Hall, said he had sent the memorandum to Mr. Chisum at the request of Mr. Bridges, whom he called a longtime friend and supporter. Mr. Chisum, in a letter accompanying the memorandum, said he distributed the memorandum “on behalf of” Representative Bridges. He said he knew Mr. Bridges through the National Conference of State Legislatures “and greatly appreciate his information on this important topic.”

The memorandum was condemned by some Texas lawmakers and by the Anti-Defamation League.

In a letter to Mr. Chisum dated Feb. 14, Mark L. Briskman, director of the league’s North Texas-Oklahoma regional office, said, “We are shocked and appalled that you would share this outrageous anti-Semitic material with your colleagues in the Texas House.”

Questioned Friday about his apparent endorsement of the memorandum, Mr. Chisum appeared to back away from it. “I read it, but he didn’t ask me to edit his memo,” he said. “It does not reflect my opinion.”

I’m not making any of this up. Ignorance is an equal opportunithy characteristic. See Darwin and the Zoo Rabbi here.

Special thanks to the folks at SCJM for calling this to my attention.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tinker, tailor, soldier, contractor

We've got everyone we need but a couple of history majors--After seven months engaged in actual employment, I’m back (on the streets) freelancing and blogging. I missed you all. I will miss the paychecks.

But, I had an interesting experience in a milieu most people are unaware of: it’s not clear to me why this doesn’t get more attention. After spending the seven months working in northern Virginia (otherwise known as the “Commute from Hell”), I am convinced our government hasn’t a clue what is happening in the world or what to do about it. Instead, it is pouring money at as many people as it can find, hoping some of them will think of something. As one of the people I met described it, the government funding--from Defense, Homeland Security, and the intelligence community--is like being at the end of a fire hose. Come up with anything even vaguely resembling a good idea and the hose turns your way.

I was lucky enough to run around with my little bucket for a while. We got to pay for my daughter’s bat mitzvah and finish the basement. This fiscal phenomenon is the reason the three Virginia counties outside the district have become the richest counties in America. All federal money in unspeakable amounts. Drive around and check the parking lots, the upscale restaurants (try Capri in McLean) , the upscale supermarkets (Balducci’s). In my next life, I’m going to be a BMW dealer in Herndon. The government sponsored-boom has been reported on; what hasn’t is the frantic cause or the amounts.

They measure the money in the billions and that is only the stuff they can tell you about, not what’s in the black budget. We are talking obscene amounts of money pouring into contractors from a government that can’t afford health care for its citizens, or decent treatment for its wounded veterans, or funds for schools that are failing, and is in debt to the Chinese up to its rectum. We’re talking not about the cost of the Iraq war, but about the ancillary expenditures of the War on Terror you know nothing about. Billions, people! And no one seems to be watching.

The place is full of office buildings with no names on them; blank lobby registers; floors that elevators don’t seem to stop at, people hiding ID badges as they leave the buildings; security people rummage through dumpsters to see what other people threw away; secret rooms; there’s a service for shredding classified documents, normal shredders aren’t good enough. [By the way, know how to destroy a CD with classified information on it? Two minutes in a microwave]. It's a whole world most people know nothing about. One joke is that even the waiters at the pizza places need clearances.

From my experience, they are bright, patriotic, dedicated people, all of whom are at the end of the federal hose, and bless them for it. Some of them even do come up with bright ideas from time to time. They work very hard. I’m just dismayed at the notion that if the government knew what the hell it was doing, Reston would still be an interesting housing development and that part of Virginia would return to the obscurity it richly deserves.

And I’m also dismayed that no one is watching. Or seems to care.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Oh God! He's coming back. Get your daughters' off the streets

It is the end of the world as we know it.

After a brief return to actual paid work in an actual office with supervisors, bosses, h.r. departments, forms, limited vacation schedules and a commute from hell, your obedient servant is returning to blogging. Watch this place next week. We are going to have some fun.