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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Friday, April 30, 2004

Kopple Tonight

Kopple's show dedicated to our fallen soldiers is about to get started. I truely hope that he will do this in an honorable and constructive manner. We'll see.


Thursday, April 29, 2004

Deserving of the NYC Greeting

You know the one...just a single finger salute.

These people amaze me. We hear nothing but how important the 9/11 Commission is. Then we hear that President Bush is derailing the whole thing by not answering questions. Then he (and Dick Cheney) answer questions and these worthless pieces of horse excrement WALK OUT!. Where does anyone get off directly insulting the President of the United States of America like that? Not to mention disrespecting the entire process of investigating the events leading to 9/11 and, by proxy, the very people who died that terrible day! How dare they!? I don't want to hear one more peep from those useless wastes of space Kerry and Hamilton. Not one more peep.

Gore-bal Warming

I just couldn't resist. After Al's last global warming speech debacle, this one just has to go over better. I've actually been looking forward to 'The Day After Tomorrow.' We'll have to see how all this fun global warming intrigue pans out. I'm putting my money where Al's foot usually is...something to do with a mouth, I think.

Popular Uprising, huh?

Who would have guessed? Could it possibly be that the holdovers still fighting against us in Iraq aren't just common folk? Here's a taste:

The report does not imply that every guerrilla taking up arms against the Americans is under the command of the M-14, nor that every Iraqi who dances atop a charred Humvee is inspired by a former Iraqi intelligence agent. But the assessment helps explain how only a few thousand insurgents, with professional leadership from small numbers of Mr. Hussein's intelligence services and seasoned military officer corps, could prove to be such a challenge to the American occupation. "They carefully laid plans to occupy the occupiers," said one United States government official who has read the report. "They were prepared to try and hijack the country. The goal was to complicate the stabilization mission, and democratization."

Could anyone have guessed this before the war? Some would say yes, and blame President Bush personally for not foreseeing these pre-laid plans. I would argue that the world's intelligence failed us on, what should have been, much more obvious matters and that it was nearly impossible to have foreseen such coordinated terrorism and outright resistance.

Read the whole thing.

Fr. Rob Nails It Again

Here is an absolutely wonderfully written and reasoned post over at Thrown Back. Not only does he make a great case against abortion from a Catholic point of view, he also fleshes out the very important between allowable forms of killing human beings (in terms of Catholicism). Guess what, the Church holds that guilt and innocence play a role. What an amazing concept. The Left could really learn something here.


Here's Her Heiness on the topic. Way to go Nancy.

Traffic Deaths

Here’s a story that's likely to get some play. Apparently 2003:

was the fifth straight year road deaths rose, although passenger car fatalities decreased. Sport utility vehicle deaths went up roughly 10 percent over 2002, with more than half of the victims in those crashes killed in rollovers. Motorcycle deaths also jumped.

Sounds bad, and obviously every such death is. But wait:

Despite the increase in the annual death count, the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled remained constant at 1.5 deaths because more people were on the road.

You’d think that would be the end of discussion. But it’s not. The article goes on to express concern over the potential for SUVs to roll over. Obviously, given their higher center of gravity they are more likely to roll over than a car. However, here’s what they have to say about traffic deaths and SUVs:

Sport utility deaths went up by 456 with more than two- thirds of victims not wearing seat belts, the safety agency said.

That’s right two thirds of people killed in SUVs were not wearing their seatbelts. So what’s the problem here? I’d have to go out on a limb and say it’s people’s continued stupidity. Do SUVs lead to more deaths? It’s possible, but the issue is not nearly as cut and dry as some would have you think.


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Koppel To Highlight War Causalities

It appears that Ted Koppel is going to devote his half-hour show to reading the names and showing the pictures of all service men and women killed in action in Iraq. I think this is something that could be done in such a way that is totally appropriate and rightly honors our troops who have paid the ultimate price. The source of the images is a website called Faces of Valor.

First off, I sincerely that Mr. Koppel manages to do this in the most respectful way possible and truly honors our fallen soldiers.

In addition, I think that the very idea of such a tribute indicates something that most people either miss entirely, or are too timid to actually point out. In either case, I’ll do it for them here.

To date, in just over a year of war and post war, we have approximately 500 soldiers killed in action. Each and every one of those deaths saddens me, and should never be forgotten. And while this is very much the case, the very fact that Mr. Koppel can even conceive of broadcasting the image and name of each individual killed in action in more than a year of fighting gives some indication of just how successful we have been. Imagine attempting to conduct such a tribute after any given year of fighting in Vietnam, Korea or WWII. Impossible.

The very fact that this tribute is even conceivable is an indication that we are winning (see here for a very much related reason that we will win). I sincerely hope that we incur zero casualties from here on out. Although I know full well this is impossible, we must be sure that the past, current and future sacrifices are not in vain. Please, keep the faith, support our troops and support our President.

Open Access Journals

This a relatively new occurrence, made possible by the internet age. In the past (and currently), many journal subscriptions can be outrageously expensive. This means that you were/are quite restricted in accessing their papers. Recently, some publishers have started offering open access journals. Some defray overhead with an author-pays model while others rely on advertising. Aside from the general irritation of having advertisements on literally every other page, these journals seem decent enough from what I’ve seen.

Now, we have some preliminary evidence that people are reading and citing papers published by these open access journals. What this means for the industry is still quite murky, but it would seem that we can expect some serious competition in the near future. If it turns out that authors want to ensure that their papers are read by the most people possible, they might very well come to the conclusion that a free journal is going to reach a wider audience than a traditional journal. One thing that is almost for certain is that we’re likely to see journal subscription rates decline. In addition, we might very well see the continuation of the beginning of the end of paper journals. Obviously, one way to significantly decrease costs is to go electronic, and journals with a huge price tag might very well need to reduce costs to stay competitive.

Semper Fi Indeed

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why we will in Iraq. Go see the email at Sullivan's blog. I have nothing but respect for these men. Let me also point out the namby, pamby, tone that the 'journalist' takes. What about this can't he believe? Maybe he's just been so closed up in his little Hamptons getaway that he's never crossed paths with Real Men. Anyone who is surprised (not impressed, surprised) at the actions of these Few and Proud go get in touch with the Real America. God Bless Our Troops!


Checkout Sullivan's Email of the Day. Looks like I'm not alone afterall.

Evolution in Italy

Well, it looks like Italy is going the way of Kansas from a few years back. The new national teaching standards apparently "make no mention of the history of human evolution, nor of the relationship between mankind and other species." While I fail to see this as an active ban, it is certainly disheartening to see such fear of science codified into curricula. With any luck this petition will have the desired effect and the situation will resolve.

I should mention that Italy still plans to teach evolution in high school. However, this type of action strikes me as a proverbial foot in the door that could be used as a steppingstone to bigger and better things…like outlawing all teaching of evolution. Will that happen? Who knows. The important thing here, to my mind, is that the government makes the right choice for the sake of principle. We’ll have to wait and see.


Well, it looks like Italy found religion...or, I suppose, science.

Protesting Conventions

Here's an interesting site dedicated to disrupting Presidential Conventions of both parties. Although I don't condone his tactics, I do agree with this guy to a certain extent...but he ends up going a bit to far. He strikes a personal pet peeve with the mention of the Patriot Act, resorting to the old line that it is the root of (nearly) all evil in the world. Of course, just before that he complains about the 2000 Republican Convention in Philly. Hum, I guess there were allegedly unfair arrests going on even before that Patriot Act.

In any case, you've at least got to get this guy credit for standing up for what he believes, doing something about it and being (relatively) open and honest.


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Racism in the UK

Apparently there is a housing complex in London that is being reserved for a very specific group of people. As far as I can tell from the article, it would appear that this complex is being built by a private individual. If this is true, then I would say they can offer the housing to anyone they want. It’s entirely possible that Britain’s law dictates that such housing must be open to all equally. I don’t know. I also suppose that the US might have similar laws, again, I’m not sure.

Regardless, there are three points here. First, this is some form of discrimination. Second, it might not be a terribly bad from of discrimination. After all, if similar people want to live with each other, what do I care? Third, if I build a building I should be able to do pretty much anything I want with it. No way should the government be able to tell me whom and I can or cannot offer the space to. I realize that this is not necessarily the case in reality, but the principle stands.

Where Oh Where Have My Little WMDs Gone?

Hum…I wonder. Maybe SYRIA! Give it some thought.

Living Bandages

Here’s an interesting story out of the UK. This is just the sort of advance that we need to see more of. This really is great. Serious burn victims still face a really tough road to recovery and things like this could improve their outlook immensely.

MacNeil, who developed the bandages called Myskin with her Sheffield colleague Professor Robert Short, said the bandages can be placed on wounds five to seven days after a sample of cells has been taken from the patient and grown on specialized discs in the laboratory.


Myskin has been successfully used on a young boy suffering burns to his legs and chest from a bonfire accident, a 28-year-old with similar injuries and an 80-year-old man who had been badly burned on his face and body.


The biological bandages have also helped to heal chronic wounds from persistent ulcers in diabetes patients. In Britain alone, three million people suffer from chronic wounds and 5,000 foot or toe amputations are performed on diabetics because of ulcerous wounds.

Pick Jaw Off Floor

This post would have been about 5 mintues earlier, but I had to recover from the shock of reading about absolute stupidity (hat tip: Drudge)


Monday, April 26, 2004

International Science Post-9/11

This is a tough issue. Science ideally 'requires' the free flow of ideas. While that free flow is not a necessity (as highly secretive pharmaceutical companies conduct science), it is highly beneficial.

The Scientist has posted an article on this topic. There are a lot of specifics that need to be considered. Here are a few of my thoughts.

The question is: How do we balance security issues with honest and open scientific exchange of ideas? It’s true that we can ill afford to lose our edge as leaders of the scientific/medical world. The issue that I find unresolved is whether or not we will lose that edge by restricting the flow of people and ideas to a reasonable extent. The US still funds science more extensively than any country in the world. So long as that continues, we will continue to be a destination for budding scientists. It is possible, however, that things will eventually change. The question is ‘how possible’? If we are going to expose ourselves to the potential for terrorists getting into the country via visiting scientist/student channels, we’d better be pretty sure that the sky really is falling.

Without a doubt, I think there are bigger holes in our ability to keep bad guys out of the country than student visas. That does not, however, mean that we should be lax in this particular area. Any hole in our defense we can identify is a good one to close. There is an effective, efficient and commonly overlooked way to address this issue: Enforce our existing laws!!

If we could just manage to keep track of students before and after their visas expired, we might all sleep a little better at night.

The Israeli-Palestinian Problem

Dan recently posted on Walter Russell Mead’s editorial in the NYT concerning why They (some in the Middle East) hate us. Money quote:

”The Palestinian issue is really what discredits the United States throughout the region," a senior Western diplomat with years of experience in the Middle East told me. Or, as one student after another put it after the university lectures I conducted across the region: "Why do Americans have to be so biased?”

Let’s see…let me just think for a second. Oh yeah, that’s it. We’re biased because the Palestinians support Hamas, others of their ilk, and the wanton and directed killing of innocent men, women and children. Some might say that it’s not fair to blame the Palestinian people for the actions of a few bad apples. Well, aside from popular support on the ‘Palenstinian Street,’ I guess there’s barely a reason. Obviously it’s not the case that every single Palenstinian supports Hamas, but I fail to see how we’re supposed to be fair to them, as a People, if a significant proportion backs scum like Hamas, etc. Maybe I’m just missing something here, but Israel has made themselves abundantly clear on the matter. They will kill anyone who orchestrates Terror. However, they have also said the following:

Israel's military chief, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, told the Yediot Ahronot daily the new Hamas leader had inherited the post "automatically" and reluctantly accepted the position. Yaalon also signaled Israel would avoid attacking him as long as the group remains quiet.

"He doesn't want it, and he is apparently avoiding making decisions, and he is apparently avoiding terrorism," Yaalon said. "Anyone who doesn't use terrorism against us, we do not deal with."

Unfair? You’d have a hard time convincing me…but feel free to give it a shot.

Medical Outsourcing?

We've been hearing an awful lot about outsourcing all sorts of jobs to India these days. Well move over Dell, it looks like medicine and dentistry are movin' in (hat tip: Dad). Since I don't have unlimited funds, I have been unable to read the entire WSJ article is in this Thursday's edition: "India Emerges as New Drug Proving Ground," Marketplace section (hat tip: Marginal Revolution)

Although this particular issue cuts closer to home for me, personally, than outsourcing computer programming, I'm sticking to my guns. Outsourcing is both overblown and incorrectly considered detrimental to our economy and society. While, it is certainly true that people lose jobs to outsourcing, I have yet to see statistics indicating that they don’t find other jobs particularly considering the good economic news of late. Don’t believe me, try here, here, and especially this one on the shrinking trade gap.

Further, there is certainly no evidence (to my knowledge) suggesting that outsourcing decreases the quality of services or products. So, in a micro sense outsourcing seems terrible because people lose their jobs. This is completely understandable. However, on the macro scale outsourcing is simply another way that the Market exerts its influence. I am certainly no economist so I will refer to the opinion of someone I have come to trust greatly on such matters. Daniel W. Drezner has a great blog that I have recently added to the Blogroll. He has also written an insightful article on outsourcing. Here’s the gist (I suggest a full read):

Protectionism would not solve the U.S. economy's employment problems, although it would succeed in providing massive subsidies to well-organized interest groups. In open markets, greater competition spurs the reallocation of labor and capital to more profitable sectors of the economy. The benefits of such free trade -- to both consumers and producers -- are significant. Cushioning this process for displaced workers makes sense. Resorting to protectionism to halt the process, however, is a recipe for decline. An open economy leads to concentrated costs (and diffuse benefits) in the short term and significant benefits in the long term. Protectionism generates pain in both the short term and the long term.

Definitely read it all, especially if you’re turned off the by the very idea of outsourcing.

On the topic of medical and dental outsourcing there may be somewhat different issues. This is not because medicine and dentistry are not subject to the rules of market economics, but because people refuse to accept that they are. It will certainly be interesting to see how our handle this as it becomes a bigger story. Stay tuned.


Here's an email on the topic (if you'd like to get in touch with the sender, let me know).

Still on subject of outsourcing health care, I followed the Apollo Hospital links to a complete women's exam, including complete physical with breast and gynecological exam, complete blood test, diabetes, urine, and stool analyses, chest x-ray, ultrasound scan of pelvis, mammogram, and Pap smear. Fee: 1,700 rupees, or $38.66 USD. (My routine mammogram earlier this month cost $260 alone.)


Typical R.T. JFK-Bombay $1163, with 25% senior discount for females >60, males >65 (sorry, guys) on Air India.

Update 2:

Check out what Eugene Volokh has to say on Radley Balko's piece over at techcentralstation.com.

It's Not Just The US Getting Fat

Apparently the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified obesity as "one of world's three greatest health threats, along with smoking and malnutrition." While this may very well be true, I look forward to disturbing developments. On my way to work, I was listening to NPR (motto: come hear what the Left is saying with your money). Apparently, WHO is in the process of developing a set of guidelines that they hope will be adopted in order to curb globesity. Currently, the US is opposed to the WHO's assessment. I wonder for how long. I'll be keeping on eye on this one, especially with all the crap I took from friends (good-natured crap, of course) about any possibility for a snowballing effect of smoking restrictions. We'll see.

The Battle of the Liberal Titans

Here is a Wash Post story about the debate going on in CA over banning handheld cell phones while driving. NY already has instated a ban on handhelds while driving. They say it's distracting, but so is adjusting the radio, eating, applying makeup, shaving, etc. Here is the most telling quote from the Times article:

...this view [that cell hand-held phones are distracting] has lost support as studies have found hands-free phones to be a significant distraction, perhaps as much as hand-held phones.

But hey, if we can convince people that hand-held phones are evil, who cares what 'studies' say.


Sunday, April 25, 2004

Fr. Rob

The author of Thrown Back has an enlightening and insightful commentary on Kerry and abortion.

Update: Amy Welborn of Open Book also has some input on the topic.

America Still Makes Real Men

Peggy Noonan flashback. Remember all the Tillmans.


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Email from Faluja

Andrew Sullivan has posted an email from the frontlines. It's amazing how easy it is to let that little seed of doubt begin to blossom with the negative reporting on Iraq bombarding us day in and day out. We need more personal, unfiltered, frontline accounts like this one.

Useless Knowledge

My latest is up at UselessK. Ah, the joys of recursive linking.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Another Riveting Account From the Frontlines

Here is exactly why we will win. So long as fine young men are allowed to do what they trained to do, and believe in what they are doing, we cannot lose. It’s been said before, and I’ll say it here: We will never be beaten in combat; if we lose it will be because we defeated ourselves.

Rush received an email from a Marine in Iraq. It was written to the wives of the men in the unit by the CO about the most recent outbreak of hostilities in Fallujah.

The enemy did not run; they fought us like soldiers. And we destroyed the enemy like only Marines can. By the end of the evening the local hospital was so full of their dead and wounded that they ran out of space to put them. Your husbands were awesome all night. They stayed at the job of securing the streets and nobody challenged them as the hours wore on. They did not surrender an inch nor did flinch from the next potential threat. Previous to yesterday the terrorist thought that we were soft enough to challenge. As of tonight the message is loud and clear that the Marines will not be beaten.

If the enemy is foolish enough to try to take your men again they will not survive contact. We are here to win.

The news looks grim from back in the States. We did take losses that, in our hearts, we will always live with. The men we lost were taken within the very opening minutes of the violence. They could not have foreseen the treachery of the enemy and they did not suffer. We can never replace these Marines and Sailors but they will fight on with us in spirit. We are not feeling sorry for ourselves nor do we fear what tomorrow will bring. The battalion has lived up to its reputation as Magnificent Bastards. Yesterday made everyone here stronger and wiser; it will be a cold day in Hell before we are taken for granted again.

God Bless Our Troops.

Ted Rall Get's It (Somewhat) Right

In a recent column, Ted Rall writes:

“[9/11 didn’t happen], as Bush says, because radical Islamists are evil or because they hate our freedom. It was vengeance for 1998, for cruise missile attacks that scarcely raised an eyebrow in the United States even as they convulsions of rage surged through millions of Muslims. It's perfectly reasonable, therefore, to blame Bill Clinton for 9/11, but not because he didn't do enough. What led to 9/11 was a clumsy application of excessive military power and arrogance.”

Hum…maybe. The problem with this reasoning is that the first World Trade Center bombing occurred in 1993, the Khobar Towers were bombed in 1996 and the Cole was attacked in 2000. Only one of those three happened after the specific “clumsy application of excessive miliarty power and arrogance” refered to by Mr. Rall. Why, then should we think that the next in a line of terrorist attacks (albeit the most deadly and destructive) have a different cause than the first two/three?

Ted’s point is obviously (to my thinking anyway) to make us consider that perhaps we should have taken a different course of action in Iraq, as he has often opposed Bush on this topic. Does he have a point? Not really. I agree that attacking terrorists probably makes them mad, I don’t care. Not attacking them seems to do the trick too.

So, it would seem that the only way to win this war is to take a two-pronged approach. 1) Kill the bad guys and 2) Bring freedom to the Middle East. #1 will remove the current problem. #2 will make people’s lot in life better, making them happier and, therefore, less likely to want to blow themselves up on the process of killing us in the future. I know, it sounds so simple that it seems stupid. But let me tell you, this is the only way that we will win in the short- and long-term.

Are we doing both of these things? Yes we are. We are obviously killing the bad guys, and in the very process of doing so we are brining freedom to a previously repressed people. The problem we face is that we are currently on the bumpy part of the road. If we manage to stay the course (which we will if we all do the right thing in November) I think that we will look back in 20 years and say two things: “I am extremely thankful to the young men and women who sacrificed to make freedom in Iraq possible” and, when we see the Iraqi people living free from the terror that they have endured for the past few decades, “It was worth the sacrifice.”

A Truly Moving Account From Iraq

Check out what Mohammed has to say about the current state of affairs (permalink) in Iraq. I only hope that enough of his countrymen share his thoughtfullness and resolve.

More on Therapeutic Cloning

Here's the latest from the therapetuic cloning front. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens with all this.

Parthenogenesis of a Mammal

Parthenogenesis is the process by which some female reptiles and other animals and plants asexually produce offspring. This ability does not exist among mammals...until now. Japanese and Korean scientists have managed to simulate parthenogenesis by essentially fertilizing one egg with another that lacks a single gene. The knocked out gene apparently is responsible for genomic imprinting (i.e., the process by which a cell knows which chromosomes from each parent). While I don’t yet have access to the most recent issue of Nature, this will certainly be an interesting paper to read.

The Scientist has an article on this topic today.

New Blog Link

The Edge of England's Sword has been added to the blogroll. Give it a read.


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Father Rob

Thrown Back is a wonderful blog by a Catholic Priest. He has a particularly good post on Kerry and his relationship (or lack thereof) with the Catholic Faith.

What’s Wrong With Our Society?

It’s a question that I hear pretty often. It usually follows some particularly stupid or awful thing happening. People shake their heads and wonder, “Where have we gone wrong?”

Let me make a suggestion. Here is one perfect example of exactly were ‘we’ are going wrong. I don’t have a particular problem with the record company. While they might be arguably soulless for offering a convicted felon $3 million, there is a much larger issue. If it were not for the existence of a market for this crap, it would not exist. It’s really that simple. If record companies knew there was no market for music by unappologitic convicted felons, they wouldn’t make the offer. So long as we reinforce this behavior, it will continue.

Death Penalty in Question

The Supreme Court has previously ruled that whether or not to impose the death penalty in a given case should be decided by the jury, not the judge. Now they are in the process of deciding whether or not to apply this retroactively, effectively overturning past death sentences imposed by a judge.

There seems to be a valid concern that having to hold re-sentencing hearings would cost a small fortune. It does seem, however, to this layperson that trial-by-jury should be all the way. It never exactly made sense to me that a jury could find a defendant unequivocally guilty of 1st degree murder and then a judge effectively abrogates that decision by waiving the ultimate punishment.

On the other hand, I wonder how this will effect the application of the death penalty. Will a jury be required to come to a unanimous decision? Will the defense have two chances at a hung jury, once during the trial and again during sentencing? I don’t know, but it does seem that placing the responsibility of imposing the most serious and final punishment should rest with the People, rather than a single judge. If our society is going to put the worst of the guilty to death, then we must be willing to take part in that process.

What if a Handgun Was Found in My Briefcase?

Does anyone honestly think that security at an airport would, upon finding a handgun in my briefcase, detain me "briefly"? Well, maybe they would if I were a Congressman. Now I have no doubt that Mr. Hostettler made an honest mistake. Heck, it could happen to anyone...who forgets they put a gun in their bag.

Once upon a time there was an ideal (although perhaps never a reality) that our government was, well, our government, and I could expect the leaders I choose to be held to standards as high as, or -gasp- higher than, those to which they hold me. It seems that we have forgotten a few things over the past two hundred years. Will we ever get those ideals back? Maybe if Ken Huges has his way.


Monday, April 19, 2004

Science on Cloning and Stem Cells

The most recent issue of Science carried an Op/Ed by Michael S. Gazzaniga on the topic of therapeutic cloning. The purpose of the piece was to point out that we were wrong to restrict cloning for the purposes of developing cures for devastating diseases and that we have dropped the ball because we were, “sitting on the sidelines while this work is being done” in South Korea.

In his article, Dr. Gazzaniga states:

“Their [the South Koreans’] embryos are allowed to develop for only a few days, at which time the all-important stem cells are harvested for possible therapeutic use, and simultaneously the rest of the cell mass dies. There is no slippery slope here; there is no beginning of the much-feared world of cloned humans.”

Well, all I can say is thank you very much Dr. G.. Up till that point, I was afraid there might be a slippery slope somewhere in the neighborhood. I’m definitely glad to hear that there isn’t.

Let us, however, delve slightly deeper into another statement the good Dr. made and see if perhaps we don’t find that he is not only slipping…but falling head over heels already.

“Looking at a miniscule ball of cells in a petri dish, so small that it could rest on the head of a pin, one may be hard pressed to think of it as a human being. After all, it has no brain or capacity to think and feel. Merely possessing the genetic material for a future human being does not make a ball of cells a human being. The developing embryo that becomes a fetus that becomes a baby is the product of a dynamic interaction with its in vivo environment, its postnatal experiences, and a host of other factors. A pure genetic description of the human species does not describe a human being. A human being represents a more complex level of organization, as distinct from a simple embryo as an embryo is distinct from an egg and sperm. It is the dynamics between genes and environment that make a human being.”

All right. First, we have already agreed in this very blog that it is absolutely not the “capacity to think or feel” that makes one Human. That would imply consciousness…and we all know where that leads. Not to mention the, shall we say, interesting references implying that the genes of the sperm, egg and embryo do not interact with the environment. I would love to know what the good Dr. thinks the environment of the sperm, egg and embryo are/is. It would be hard to convince a thinking person that the genes (or, more accurately, gene products) of those three structures are not interacting with that environment.

Second, the good Dr. apparently does not believe that “[m]erely possessing the genetic material for a future human being” is sufficient to be Human. Well then I would ask, what is sufficient to make a thing Human? Dr. G seems to think that a Human results from “a dynamic interaction with its in vivo environment” etc., etc. Well, I guess by that reasoning it would be very important to assert that there is no slippery slope. After all, by Dr. G’s own reasoning, any product of in vitro cloning would, by definition, not be human until it was stuck back into a woman! Haaa, but what about the inevitable medical advance of the artifical womb? That would certainly not be in vivo…so what would that fully formed, human-like organization of matter be? Remember, the key to his argument is “in vivo.”

All this critizim is great, I know. But what would I suggest? This issue of embryonic stem cells is a difficult one. I agree that there are potential benefits in that we might, one day, find cures/treatments for any number of diseases. However, the simple fact that this is a difficult issue does not mean that we should just give in to expediency at the expense of putting wrong over right. Remember, the important terms here are: potential, might and one day. Nothing, especially in the future of science, is for sure. We might study stem cells for a single year and cure all disease. On the other hand, we have an equal chance of working on them for 100 years and finding absolutely nothing.

The outcome of this argument must hinge on whether or not: mass of cells with potential become a fully formed human = Human. No proxy argument, or any ends-justify-the-means approaches can be applied. We are dealing with the most serious of issues and we cannot lightly pass judgment on what are, in my opinion, the most innocent Human beings among us.

In the end Dr. G’s argument will be accepted at face value by far too many people. I find this disturbing for a number of reasons. Specifically, the acceptance of this reasoning implies one of two things; either people agree that any organization of matter outside the in vivo environment is not human or, people are not thinking. Both scare the living daylights out of me, and I’m not sure which is preferable. The former implies that people are either logically mixed up (if they believe that no organization of matter that exists ex vivo can be Human) or evil, while the latter indicates that they’re either stupid or apathetic. Not what I’d call good possibilities.

One final question to any Pro-Choicer out there (not to imply that Dr. G is pro-abortion, I have no idea). When, exactly, do you define Human life as beginning? This is the central argument of the entire issue, and it is one to which I have never received a satisfactory answer. Fire away!


Thursday, April 15, 2004

Useless Knoweldge

My latest article is up.


Wednesday, April 14, 2004

More on Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Why do I say the prescription drug issue is unnecessarily complex? Simple, here are the facts as I see them.
1) Drug companies invest in the neighborhood of $800 million to bring a drug from discovery through clinical trials. This does not include advertising.
2) Drug companies are, well, companies and as such must make a profit or go out of business.
3) Drug companies sell their wares all over the world.
4) Other countries (read: Canada, Britain, France, etc.) have various forms of socialized medicine and, thereby, dictate the price of drugs to be sold.
5) The price dictated by those socialists doesn’t leave much room for profit, putting pharmaceutical companies in a tough spot.
6) Since they’re going to make a profit or become extinct, drug companies are forced to make the lion’s share of the profit in the only country that is both an enormous market and does not artificially regulate prices…i.e., the good ol’ USA.

The bottom line is that we Americans are subsidizing the rest of the world’s supply of drugs. The socialists are happy…they’re getting expensive meds for a fraction of the free market price. Unfortunately for us, we have to deal with the consequences.

What’s a country to do? We have a few choices. We could legalize the importation of medicine from Canada either on an individual basis or in bulk, effectively importing price controls or we could institute our own version of price controls. As it turns out, there is a rarely enforced proviso on the books which states that the government has the right to expect “reasonable” prices for drugs that it helped fund the development of. While this may very well be reasonable to a certain extent, it does not solve the problem. The issue is that drug companies must make a profit. If they do not, then we will find ourselves in the unenviable position of having a depleted or empty drug pipeline.

The only answer that seems to present itself brings along baggage that will certainly hamper its implementation, if not prevent it entirely. The answer must be to let the market decide. Any other solution involves artificially deflated prices in one place and artificially inflated prices elsewhere. Such a system is being held far from equilibrium and is not sustainable over the long term.

The problem here is that free market treatment of anything must be truly free. We cannot have some countries sucking the life out of others by forcing their costs down. I don’t necessarily have the answer to how the problem of Canada, France, etc. should be dealt with. I do know, however, that these countries must not be allowed to continue to take advantage of our generosity. To do continue as we are today may seem more humane and neighborly today, but over the long run we are sure to no end to the problems of high drug prices in this country.

If you're surprised, please stand up and...

...go bang your head against the wall =). Ok, so maybe this is just a wrinkle in the startup process of Air America. Who knows. I'm sure we'll find out more soon enough.

Update: Drudge has more on this story.

Update 2: And another thing:

"To shut off a broadcast that listeners rely on without warning and in the middle of discussions is the height of irresponsibility and a slap in the face of the media industry."

Listeners rely on? That was pretty quick. Hey, if Multicultural Radio Broadcasting did something illegal they should be punished. It should be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul or Social Justice?

The issue of importing perscription drugs is a somewhat unnecessairly complex one. More on this later.


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Bush's Speech This Evening

Unfortunately I didn't catch it live. The transcript is here. Happy reading.


Wasn't the name Cyberdine...no wait that was the one with the current governor of CA. This is for real, the company is called Cyberkinetics, and they have gained FDA approval to begin human trials with their brain implant.

In all seriousness, this technology has the potential to have amazing benefit for people whose view would otherwise be restricted mainly to the ceiling of a long-term care facility. I can’t but hope advances like this will vastly improve the lives of people incapacitated by disease, trauma, etc.

The Ongoing Saga of DDT

Is DDT the villain we've been told it is? Read about it at Volokh.com.

Google Bomb Update

All's fair in love, war and politics, I suppose. Check out the national coverage of the latest Google Bomb, "waffles," perpertrated by Ken Jacobson at Esoertic*Diatribe.

More on Affirmative Action

This book review makes me almost willing to spend the $20. Check it out.


Monday, April 12, 2004

Useless Knowledge

Check out my latest article. Let me know what you think...it's never easy taking on Andrew Sullivan.

In response to “What Gives?”

I will do my best to address your concerns and make my position a bit clearer.

You correctly pointed out that I wrote, “[IVF] can sometimes be medically necessary, or at least beneficial, in the case of gender-specific disease risks.” Let me point out that I did not endorse IVF; I only indicated that it can be medically necessary or beneficial…and I was remiss in not adding, “if one wishes to have a ‘biologically related’ child.”

There are lots of things in life that are beneficial (and sometimes even seemingly necessary) but morally wrong. Do I think IVF is morally wrong? Yes. Would I argue that it should not be conduced in a fashion that necessitates the discarding of zygotes? Yes. I know, I know, many of you are out there thinking that I’m crazy. Maybe I am. However, I do honestly believe that the zygote, having the requisite genetic complement and (this is important) the potential to naturally develop into a fully developed human being in the absence of outside interference, is deserving of our protection.

The issues surrounding human-mouse (etc.) chimera cell lines and the possibility/certainty that a human being will be cloned from a somatic cell fall into the same moral category. Here is the basic issue, as far as I am concerned (and I will admit that I have yet to hear anyone else put it exactly this way, so here’s to going out on a limb).

A collection of matter deserves our protection if, in its natural environment, it has the potential to develop into a fully formed human being. That includes zygotes produced by the natural process of sexual intercourse, artificial insemination, IFV, etc. A case against this position might be made by pointing out that certain fertilization events (as already cited, ~50%) end in spontaneous abortion. Therefore, the argument might go, we would end up with a mutable definition of Life given that we will one day gain the ability to predict which fertilization events will end in spontaneous abortion and which will make it to term. To that, I would reply that it is the potential that is important. I suppose that if, one day, we end up knowing things like this in an absolute sense…well, we’ll be indistinguishable from God. Until that day I think it’s safe to conclude that we will never know anything about the future with absolutely no possibility of error.

With respect to the double-homicide-of-a-pregnant-women law. This argument is moot simply because the correctness of the law must depend solely on whether or not a zygote/embryo/fetus is alive. If it is, then such an act is a double homicide and vice versa. After all, to my knowledge it’s still a double murder if one bullet kills the intended target, passes through and kills an unintended target.

As for the specifics of your closing paragraph, you equate the double homicide issue with that of spontaneous abortion. These are obviously very different issues. The former is dealt with above while the latter is a natural process and, therefore, is beyond the control (and also culpability) of a pregnant woman and every other human being.

In the end, this is one of the most important issues of our time. I hope that we will continue to have discussions such as this one at all levels of society and government so that, perhaps one day, we will do the right thing…whatever it is.

Did You Hear About This?

No? I'm not terribly surprised. Now imagine that the word Christian was replaced with Muslim. If that were the case, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have to rely on some obscure "London-based religious online service" to bring it to our attention.

The Birth of Oceania?

Good ol' George Orwell might have just started turning in his grave. I hate to play the role of Chicken Little, but stuff like this always gives me the creeps.

Gay Marriage Debate

Here are two opposing viewpoints what I consider top notch thinkers. Andrew Sullivan for gay marriage and Shelby Steele for traditional marraige.

The Sky Is Falling!

What's a guy to do? Should I buy Bermuda shorts or a ski jacket? Maybe I'll just go drive around aimlessly in my SUV.

What Gives?

Not to harp on the abortion issue, but there are some inconsistencies in your previous posts which I would like explained to me. If, as you state, human life begins with conception-- and if, as you imply, wanton destruction of a brewing zygote therefore comprises an act of murder—how then does this reconcile with your previous post in which you defend IVF by saying:

“[IVF] can sometimes be medically necessary, or at least beneficial, in the case of gender-specific disease risks.”

As I'm sure you are aware, IVF necessitates the production and destruction of tens of conceptuses. Are you therefore defending murder as a “medically necessary, or at least beneficial” option for couples at risk of conceiving a handicapped infant? I’m curious as to how you would reconcile these apparently paradoxical viewpoints.

Furthermore, you state that viability is a flawed standard by which to judge the legitimacy of abortion as it is prone to downward adjustment as scientific progress is made. However, one could well make the case that human conception will itself be one day subject to similar forces. For example, mouse-human transgenic chimeras are commonplace these days in molecular biology research laboratories. At what percentage of “human” DNA base pairs would you then accord such a creature civil rights. Granted, chimeras today may have at the most a handful of human transgenes, but who knows what the future might hold.

Additionally, human cloning technology is fast becoming a reality. I think we would agree that within our lifetimes, human clones will be raised from somatic cells. Like a developing zygote then, those dermal epithelial cells that we so callously scratch from our crotches will contain the full potentiality for development of a human being, given the appropriate circumstances. Will scratching one’s crotch then become a capital offense?

Yes, I know, sounds ridiculous (is ridiculous in fact) but I’m simply trying to make the point that even the seemingly impervious concept of conception is not immune to the encroaching power of science and technology.

Recently I heard on the radio that the Bush administration is standing behind a bill that would make murder of a pregnant female, even a female who does not know that she is pregnant, an automatic double homicide. Talk about ridiculous. If this is the case then isn’t the next logical step to say that anything that interferes with implantation and development of the fetus is a punishable crime? Considering that fully 50% of conceptions end in spontaneous abortion our criminal justice system may not be able to handle the overflow of young women.

New on the Blog Roll

This is a good blog for anyone interested in abortion, on either side of the issue. Check it out.


Thursday, April 08, 2004

Diversity in Medical School

The New Physician’s April 2004 issue includes an article on Affirmative Action in medical school admissions programs entitled ‘Reaching Diversity’. Recently, the US Supreme Court (pdf file) decided that it is Constitutionally allowable to consider race in higher education admissions and in doing so managed to both somewhat settle, at least temporarily, the legal issues and fan the flames of ‘discussion’ about this highly contentious and important issue.

Let’s cut to the chase. In my opinion all decisions concerning whom we admit to medical school must come down to the answer to one simple question: Does he/she have the personal attributes that will best insure excellence as a doctor? Anything else is at best neutral and at worst harmful.

The list of such attributes is extremely difficult to 1) generate, 2) agree on and is 3) highly subjective. Nonetheless, it is necessary that we do our best in determining what is important to insure that we end up with the best doctors possible. Any less is both irresponsible and dangerous.

I have heard it said that, “Our diversity is our strength.” I believe that diversity is a great thing and has certainly contributed to any number of wonderful things about this country. It is not, however, in and of itself, ‘our strength.’ Our strength, as Americans, is derived from our historical tendencies towards hard work and constant, never ending, struggle for something better.

On the basis that racial diversity = strength, people build an argument in support of considering race in admission to medical programs (and higher education in general, but I’ll focus on medical school). Is this appropriate, and if so, for what reason? Well, based on what I’ve already said, the only way that race could possibly be an appropriate factor to consider in admissions decisions is if it will allow a person to potentially become a better doctor. The argument cannot be made from an economics point of view. After all, there are rich minorities and poor majorities.

Probably the argument with the most potential in favor of affirmative action in the medical admissions process has to do with doctors’ ability to care for underserved communities. Essentially, some assert that a doctor of African descent (for example) will have an advantage in dealing with and treating others of African descent. I find this reasoning to be insulting in two ways. First, it insults those of African descent, because it assumes that they cannot get into medical school without ‘help’ and, secondly, it assumes that since such individuals are ‘better’ at dealing with those of similar ethnic origin, they must be ‘less good’ at dealing with patients of different ethnic origin.

Notice that nowhere did I mention doctors being better at dealing with people of similar backgrounds, but rather of similar ethnic origin. There is a very important distinction to be made here. As literally everyone with a functioning brain will agree, our skin color has nothing to do with our intelligence or abilities in general. Rather, a much stronger argument might be made for someone’s upbringing having a large influence on what they are ‘better’ at than others. Does anyone honestly think that a black man who grew up in a mansion in England will understand the plight of a poor black man from South Philly better than a white woman from Harlem? This is what the ‘race preference’ argument eventually boils down to, and I find the potential results to be quite frightening. I hope that more people will begin to consider where we are headed if these flawed arguments are ultimately accepted by society.


Eugene Volokh comments here on racial preferences. As usual, Eugene's hit the nail on the head.

Abortion on TV

Interesting article out of England. I wonder if we'll see anything even remotely like this here in the US. Seems like it might not be a bad idea. After all, shouldn't people at least know what we're dealing with?

Hungry Anyone?

There's a great new blog Esoteric * Diatribe. Check out his waffles.

On a technical note

I just figured out the comment link alignment. Sorry of any mixups.


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

A Guilty Pleaseure No More?

Ever since smoking bans went into effect I have been experiencing a guilty pleasure. While I hate the smell of smoke, and enjoy its absence, I am very much against government interfering with people's freedoms when there is no proof that they are harming anyone other than themselves. I have often said that if 2nd hand smoke were found to be harmful that banning smoking in certain places would be ok by me (although there is still the argument over whether or not the government should be telling private individuals what they can and cannot allow on their private property...but that's another can of worms).

So this article citing a study in BMC Cell Biology caught my eye. While the data are interesting and suggestive, we should bear in mind that, "the effect second-hand smoke has on fibroblast motility “could be responsible for impaired wound healing in people exposed to second-hand smoke.” However...the work is preliminary and still in need of more rigorous testing."

Read it for yourself.

What Nice Eyes You Have

Always good to see people finding new ways to waste money. It should be interesting find out if there are side effects. Invasive proecdures, no matter how minor, carry risk. Who knows?


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

As is pointed out below, consciousness is a tenuous concept at best and is certainly not the best way to determine what is human life and what is not. The purpose of my linking to this article was twofold. First, simply to point it out. Second, to illustrate that as we continue to learn more about that undelivered mass of cells the more we have to redefine our notions of what constitutes human life.

The starting point of this argument must be that, under a given set of conditions, human life either is or it is not and that it has an inherent value. While there can be times when we give lesser value to one life or another, that does not invalidate either’s standing as human life. In cases where we do give it different values, there are standards that must be met to do so. Further, if we choose to take the risk that our action or inaction will result in a loss or devaluation of human life, we hold ourselves to a high standard. Specifically, we adopt a higher standard if our action will harm than if our inaction will.

Enter abortion. This is an event in which the decision is made to take action that will result in the death of something. What that something is, can be debated (and will be momentarily), but the fact remains that there is some sort of cellular functioning that can be considered alive, if not a human. So, even given the most conservative estimate of the value of that undelivered mass of cells, we are actively killing something.

Now, what is that stuff of pregnancy? Is it human life, or not? The answer becomes unambiguous if you consider the following. Human life exists objectively and regardless of our interpretation. So, it simply makes no sense to say that we define human life in such a way that it can (and necessarily will) be redefined as science advances. This would be to admit that our definition is flawed, something that we should not willingly condone. So any definition that we do accept with respect to human life must be immutable. By defining life as the pro-abortion camp would, we must say that viability = life. The problem is that this causes the definition of life to change with every medical advance. Since life exists objectively and independently this is be unacceptable.

So where do we define life as beginning? It was suggested (somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I believe) that every sperm and egg could be said to be alive if we bring the pro-life reasoning to its logical conclusion…not so. Rather, the most reasonable place to define human life as beginning is with fertilization. Any point prior to that event cannot be human life because the genetic complement is not sufficient to support it. Any point thereafter is completely arbitrary and open to redefinition as our understanding of development advances and, therefore, unacceptable. The zygote is the first structure that is human life because it has all the components necessary for development, given that no action is taken to interrupt that process.

The question will always be raised concerning a woman’s right to choose. This right to decide whether or not to have a child is absolutely the right of any person. The issue here is when that right exists. Why is it that supporters of abortion feel that a woman needs to be able to choose at the level of pregnancy? With the exception of rape, a woman always has a right to choose to simply not have sex. As it turns out, that really is the one and only way to definitely avoid pregnancy. Where’s the problem?

As for the argument that a woman must decide if she can care for the child. Balderdash, I say! Currently there are more couples trying to adopt infants than there are infants to adopt. All a pregnant woman who can’t take care of a baby need do is offer the child up for adoption.

Ask yourself one question:

Is 9 months too much time to sacrifice for the most innocent among us?

I feel compelled to post a reply to the article detailing the Bush administration’s efforts to ban second-trimester abortions. Now, let me state at the outset that I’m of the opinion that abortion isn’t a good thing, but is, rather, a necessary thing. I don’t believe that abortion should be encouraged, and I certainly don’t think that it should ever fall into routine usage as a form of birth control, however, it must be made an available option for women, for a variety of reasons which I’ll expand upon later.

That being said, I take extreme exception to the claims staked by the pediatrician Dr. Anand in the article, who states that he believes that “the fetus is conscious” at twenty weeks. As evidence, he cites the fact that “…fetuses show increased heart rate, blood flow and hormone levels in response to pain.” Now, I’m no comparative physiologist, but I’m willing to bet good cash money that if you provided a noxious stimulus to any living thing with an organized nervous and circulatory system, it too would show similar responses. Are we then left to assume that all living things with organized nervous and circulatory systems are conscious? Of course not!

To state it syllogistically, consciousness is an attribute of normally developed human beings, normally developed human beings share certain physiologic traits with all other living things, therefore, are all living things conscious?

Just because a fetus maintains a “human” genetic complement does not automatically imbue it with the self-awareness and free will which we attribute to consciousness. Rather, it might make more sense to view consciousness as an attribute of normal human development, something that comes into being over time. Speaking from personal experience, I wouldn’t grant myself sentient status until at least the age of four or five, and I think that my sense of consciousness continues to evolve and expand to this day.

If we rely on the personal belief systems of zealots like Dr. Anand when formulating policy, rather than demonstrable facts, we start to slide down a slippery slope. If the fetus is conscious at 20 weeks gestation, then why not 20 days, 20 seconds… ad infinitum. In fact, taken to its logical conclusion, then might not sperm and eggs maintain individual consciousness? In that case I would make Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot look like a bunch of peaceniks.

Additionally, who’s to say that it’s the presence or absence of consciousness that should be the ultimate arbiter of who, or what, gets to live or not? In our love of all things anthropomorphic (cuddly dolphins in tuna nets? how dare we?), we happily grant consciousness cosmic import and accord it protection while we let 99.9% of the rest of Earth’s flora and fauna go to shit. If elephants ran the world then they might see it perfectly fit to annihilate any organism hapless enough to not be outfitted with a trunk, and we, my friends, would be trampled pancakes underfoot in this pachycentric universe, consciousness and all.

Now, given that human beings have decimated the elephant population, I see little risk of this occurring in our lifetimes. However, there is a point to my digression. Using consciousness, or other human-like attributes, as a key variable in deciding what organisms get to live and which get the axe is a convenient method for human beings, who happen to possess consciousness. It make us feel a lot better when we chomp into that big tasty burger or pick the dolphin meat out of our tuna sandwiches. However, this is merely a logical endpoint of human-run social systems, not some preordained cosmic truth.

While I find the claim that 20 week fetuses are conscious highly dubious to begin with, even if true, there are other considerations at play. For example, the health of the mother – I say that the mother has first dibs, in part because it’s her body that the kid is parasitizing in the first place (ok, ok, how could I compare a baby to parasite?? c’mon guys, we’re all in medical school and physiologically speaking, you all know that this is absolutely the truth). Other serious considerations surrounding the parents’ ability to care for the child as well as serious debilitating illness that would result in prolonged suffering for the fetus ex-utero. Again, I’m not in favor of using abortion for birth-control, per se, but ultimately this decision must be left up to the woman who must carry and then potentially care for the infant.

So yes, what I’m saying is that even if ultrasonographers suddenly noticed that fetuses were waving to the camera and giving the “peace sign” there might still be convincing instances in which those pregnancies should be medically terminated. We eat other animals to survive, hell, we send 18 year old, quite conscious, men and women to foreign countries to kill and be killed. Sometimes life ain’t pretty and the decisions we make are difficult, but the hope is that we make such decisions only in our good-faith efforts to produce a better reality… for the conscious people, of course.

GATTACA Here We Come

Remember the good old days, after WWI, when plastic surgery was just getting off the ground? I don't, but I've heard that it was developed to repair the horrible wounds caused by shell explosions. Today, we can all see just how far it has come. Good or bad? Depends on your point of view.

A much more recent medical advance has been In vitro fertilization (IVF). As you may be aware, this is a powerful technique for helping infertile couples having a child that is at least biologically related.

Along with this, we have developed the ability to choose the gender of the IVF baby. This can sometimes be medially necessary, or at least beneficial, in the case of gender-specific disease risks. This gender selection methodology, however, obviously can be applied to non-medically necessary uses…and has been.

So now a couple knows that this exists, and they want to choose the gender of their next child. So they catch an ad from these fine people, and decide to spend the $199 to give it a shot. Then they end up with the correct gender and say, ‘Great! It worked!’

Ah, but is there any proof? The chances of having a baby of a given gender are 50/50 to start with, and this company will apparently not release any stats because, “a spokesman said sales figures are confidential.” Right, how convenient.

Speaking of convenient, check this out:

"We have some people who didn't get the gender that they chose," Sweazy said, "but virtually every one of them didn't do it right."

I guess as long as this product isn’t hurting anyone, there are only truth-in-advertising issues. But again, there’s no proof for ANYTHING having to do with this kit. Scary stuff.

Does a Fetus Feel Pain?

Here's an interesting article. Seems like the more we know the more unborn masses of cells look like us. Interesting.

Rule of Law

This article about Jeb Bush backing drivers lincenses for illegal immigrants is amazing. Apparently now even Republicans are warming to the hyprocracy on immigration. While not simple ‘politically’…it sure seems simple to me: Enforce laws. End of discussion.

At least someone is making sense.

“Haridopolos on Monday said he had no problem giving licenses to foreign nationals who live in Florida part of the time -- provided they had the necessary visas or other immigration documents. But illegal immigrants, he said, have ''basically cut in line'' by not waiting for their chance to come to the United States with government approval.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I think people should be allowed to come to this country. The thing is that we must insist that they obey our laws…EVEN BEFORE THEY’RE CITIZENS. I just don’t see how this is unreasonable.

The Food Pyramid

Well, it looks like the food pyramid is up for review. I’m sure that plenty of these fine people have good (and hilarious) points, and maybe even a little data to back them up. Here are a few of the more interesting ideas.

A Virginia man seems to suggest dumping leafy greens — his nephew doesn't like them.

A North Carolina man wants it to warn of the "poisons" in vegetables.

"Americans need to stop blaming carbohydrates for weight problems," wrote the Washington-based Independent Bakers Association. "Simply put, Americans need to cut down on caloric intake and increase their physical activity."

In fact, the folks at the American Association of Cereal Chemists in St. Paul bolstered their pro-carb stance by pointing out biblical references to manna from heaven and the bread of life.

The debate, both social and scientific, about the effects of carbs on our weight and eating habits is an interesting one. My opinion is that refined carbs (i.e., sugar) causes weight gain due to the fast absorption --> increase in blood sugar --> spike in insulin --> blood sugar crash --> hunger (reviewed: Bell and Sears, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr (2003); 43(4): 357-77)).

Additionally, the spike in insulin (over many times) wears out the pancreas...leading to an increased risk of Type II Diabetes. Not good.

I think that people need to realize that it’s not just what you eat…but rather the important factor is how much energy you expend vs. how much you consume (with some provisos, of course).

This concept is what these fine people revising the Food Pyramid should be pushing. Although this may seem stupidly obvious, it would seem that the majority of Americans don’t get it and there aren’t any particularly good signs of this changing any time soon.


Sunday, April 04, 2004

Hello and welcome to MuD&PHuD.

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