Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Review: The Belly Melt Diet

Book Title: The Belly Melt Diet

Author: Editors of Prevention magazine

Date: 2012

Publisher: Rodale Press

Length: 368 pages

ISBN: 1609618424

Illustrations: black-and-white photos

Who needs to read this book? Not just the figure-conscious women at whom it's aimed. The research in this book can also help those who think that blaming a specific food, or group of foods, is the way to fight our "epidemic of obesity."

Not that the logic is hard to follow. We have two problems in the United States: (1) that epidemic of obesity, and (2) a widespread belief, shared by many elected officials, that our country needs to do for people far more than people can do for their country. To some people, adding new "sin taxes" on junkfood seems like a logical solution to both problems.

Very young people think this kind of solution will actually work. People of age and guile think it will at least make them sound "caring" enough to get them elected and reelected to lucrative positions. But this web site predicts three possible outcomes of imposing "sin taxes" on any food, however junky:

(1) As with wine and cigars, using the food that has now become much more expensive than its fair market value would become a status symbol for rich people, and government would actually become dependent on the continuing sale of more of the product.

(2) Poor people, especially the teenyboppers who supposedly need to be protected from junkfood, would find other ways to maintain, or increase, their existing intake of sugar, salt, grease, caffeine, and/or monosodium glutamate. They'd substitute other forms of junkfood that weren't taxed. Or a black market for bootlegged junkfood could develop.

(3) Politicians would continue to campaign on the platform that Uncle Sam can afford to keep on spending money like a drunken sailor. Since the root cause of the economic problem would not be addressed, the problem would grow: government's expenses would continue to rise while government's income, from taxes on private products, would continue to drop.

And...according to the medical research summarized in The Belly Melt Book, blaming specific food products is even less likely to help victims of that "epidemic of obesity" than we thought.

Does soda pop cause obesity? Nobody could prove it by me. I've never avoided soda pop; for twenty years I've consumed at least some soda pop almost every day. I've never been obese. I've worn the same shirt and dress size, and some of the same shirts and dresses, since grade ten. I've bought jeans in six different sizes, all of which have fit at one time or another, as I've fluctuated between: flabby and sickly at 35-24-34 and 117 pounds; sleek and fit at 35-19-32 and 118 pounds; gaunt, haggard, and scary-looking at 35-27-35 and 96 pounds; and just plain fat at 35-32-37 and 148 pounds. (All this time, the woman-haters in New York have been saying that I ought to measure 32-24-34, weigh 120 pounds, and also have narrower shoulders and a longer back than I've ever had. That's just a subtle form of racism.) There has been no correlation between my body shape and my soda pop intake.

I hadn't thought about it until I read The Belly Melt Diet, but there has been a correlation between my body shape and my exposure to light at night. What I do when I notice that my baggy jeans are starting to fit too well is reduce the attention I pay to food and increase the time I spend walking, or doing other kinds of exercise. That works. But what's been going on each time I've noticed the baggy jeans beginning to fit too well? Well...sometimes I was staying with sick patients who used night lights to make getting up several times during the night easier, and sometimes I was living in neighborhoods where people apparently got some sense of security by burning bright street lights all night.

The Belly Melt Diet begins by summarizing the evidence that our "epidemic of obesity" is more likely to be correlated with what's changed during the past forty years. Specifically, the number of people who live in overcrowded, over-lighted places. Grandpa may have grabbed an RC Cola and a Moon Pie to enjoy while listening to "Maple on the Hill" on the jukebox at the store where people who weren't members of his church might have been dancing, but he was slim, because he walked back to the farmhouse and snuffed out his oil lamp by nine o'clock. Then most of my generation moved into town to raise our children, and offered them the modern alleged conveniences as they came along: street lights, low-wattage night lights in the house, TV, digital clocks, videos, computers, now lit-up phone pads...and their bodies are showing that more than simple calorie intake has affected their metabolism as they've grown up, although most of them have ingested too many calories and burned too few.

Our children aren't just tall, strong, and muscular. We love them, so we want to see them as burly or beefy, but look at them again with a detached eye: increasing numbers of young people are suffering from pathological giantism. It's not just that Junior is taller than his teacher, or even hit puberty at age eleven--that's always been the case for maybe five percent of the population. It's that Princess hit puberty at age seven, and Junior, tall, obese, diabetic, and badly sight-impaired, had his first stroke at age nine...and these stories don't even rate mentioning on "News of the Weird" any more. There are kids like that in every middle school class these days.

Want to lose weight? The Belly Melt Diet isn't going to tell you, nor am I going to tell you, that you don't still need to eat less and exercise more. But The Belly Melt Diet opens with the breaking news that eating less and exercising more is likely to work better if you begin by simplifying your life. Banish all those blinking boxes from your home. Leave lights on only indoors, in rooms where someone is actually using them. Make sure any outside lights on your property are close enough to the ground, and well enough hooded, to direct all the light to the ground and not light up the sky. Try to avoid living on a street where you're exposed to car lights, and work to get street lights lowered, hooded, and dimmed. You'll sleep better in the dark...and that may be the key not only to losing weight as an adult, but protecting your children from developing middle-aged diseases while they're still in middle school.

Now, about the actual diet: The Belly Melt Diet has not officially hit the stores yet. Grandma Bonnie Peters got a chance to preview it through a Rodale Press book club. Well, she and I previewed it, and although we found some good recipes, I can tell you that neither of us would be able to try the diet. Bodies differ. A high-protein diet works for long-term weight maintenance for some people, but when I read a menu that suggested an omelet for breakfast, milk at coffee-break time, turkey sandwich for lunch, and milkshake at after-school-snack time, I didn't even want to read what was suggested for dinner. I don't think I could choke down that much protein in that much time.

Also GBP was miffed by the writers' virtually ignoring food intolerance issues, although almost half the population are gluten, lactose, and/or casein-intolerant. There's a vague mention that gluten intolerance can be a factor in "metabolic syndrome"--cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and thyroid dysfunction. If you're gluten-intolerant that's not news; it's probably a short description of your relatives. Gluten intolerance is a gene that can be identified these days by a blood or DNA test before serious symptoms appear. Can those of us who inherit the gene postpone the appearance of serious symptoms by manipulating our diet without giving up all wheat products, or is it better just to quit wheat "cold turkey" and see how many trivial symptoms disappear from your life? Nobody knows.

Will The Belly Melt Diet work for you if you can follow it? Probably; it's low enough in calories. What about the exercises? Spot-reducing exercises do help tone the muscles that control flab, especially female-hormone-linked flab, so if you want your curves to have that taut, trim, youthful look The Belly Melt Diet contains a good list of spot-reducing exercises.

But what you really need to read this book for is the evidence pinpointing the villain in our "epidemic of obesity." There are fat kids who don't drink soda pop (maybe their poison of choice is Cheetos) and skinny kids who do. Soda pop may be the easiest source of empty calories to banish from your diet, but cutting out soda pop not only won't make fat people trim, it may cause some shapely bodies to gain weight (if they're habituated to caffeine). But what's making what used to be a really freakish degree of obesity into an epidemic? Something that used to be science-fiction material: all those blue-toned electronic lights.

Maybe the British have the right idea. They've been taxing, or "licensing," TV sets for a long time.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Republican Vice-Presidential Poll Link

By picking (a) your choice of a running mate for (yecch) Mitt Romney, and (b) your range of acceptable running mates for Romney, at this link...'ll get on the e-mail list of Grassfire Nation. So far as I've seen, this means one or two e-mails per day, some on the far right side, but no viruses, no spam, and nothing really obnoxious.

Ode to the Welfare State (1949)

Click here to read the poem "Ode to the Welfare State," attributed to "a prominent Democrat" circa 1949:

Who Shouldn't Go Vegan?

Juniper Russo, a part-time vegan, considers the reasons why a few--just a few--people probably shouldn't go vegan. Well, not overnight, anyway. (The spoiler? Chances are that you won't be on the very short list of people who should not go vegan. And even if you are, you probably won't be for long.)

Please Help Me Find Local Computer Space

Gentle Local Readers (and by local I mean Gate City, Williams Mill, possibly Yuma, Kingsport, or Duffield, but not Bristol or Big Stone Gap), this web site is in transition. We're looking at a real-world store space, but it won't be available before August, probably not up and running before September. I've been typing my posts from the Yuma computer center, before it closed, and from the Gate City computer center, before they started enforcing time limits on adults to ensure that computers would be available for children to play games and spill sugary junkfood into the computers. Currently there is no physical location from which I can maintain this web site. (Two downtown businesses have sponsored this site; neither is electronically equipped to host it.) If you have a computer connection and would like to promote your business or cause at this site, please contact

DNC, Anyone?

The Democratic Party is really casting the nets wide to offer an expense-paid trip to the Democratic National Convention. An invitation to register for the giveaway came in this week's mass of e-mail. You probably know somebody for whom a chance to mingle with serious party-line Democrats in scenic Charlotte (well after Race Week) would be a treat. If so, here's the link to sign up...

Home Bible Study Rights Upheld

Back in September, this web site posted links to Blaze and Yahoo articles about a California community where, apparently, neighborhood nuisances questioned a couple's right to offer Bible studies in their home:

Madeleine Morgenstern shares this update:

Update: After posting this good news, I received this link to a related piece of bad news...

The haters out there just don't learn by one good example. The online buzz of complaints about haters in California probably helped the Fromms; now we need to start buzzing about the real haters in Phoenix, Arizona..

Phenology for 6/23/12: Bees Banished

What's been happening during the last week? Beautiful, sunny, make-hay-while-the-sun-shines weather. A little rain, but only at night. I have been enjoying these sunny days. Scott County hasn't had nearly enough sunshine in the last few years.

School is out for the summer. Non-rural children have taken over the computer center. I've left it to them. But I've had a nagging feeling all week that I really needed to share the end of the bee story.

Nobody wanted the bees. They weren't on the porch long; they were a small straggling group and had produced less than a pint of icky sticky stuff, mostly wax.

I don't own a bee smoker. While considering whether I needed to try to borrow one, or improvise one by burning green hedge clippings in a metal storage drum, I stumbled across an aerosol can of insect repellent in the cellar. Usually I buy the aerosol-free reusable spray bottles, which are more efficient if your goal is to scent your ankles while inhaling the minimum possible amount of Deet. A few years ago, networking with another junk dealer, I'd bought some aerosol cans of Deet on sale. It occurred to me that, if these bees had moved in because they didn't like the chemicals in the air where they had been before, they might move out if the porch smelled of Deet.

So I sprayed Deep Woods Off! on the porch, and the cats started complaining (most animals hate Deet as much as insects do), and the bees started moving out. Encouraged, I sprayed the scent directly on the wax. The queen bee crawled out. Since I wanted to move her, not kill her, and not frighten her enough to make the workers attack, I went out into the unsprayed yard and entertained the kittens for half an hour.

At the end of that time the bees had completely abandoned their colony. Scraping and mopping up their mess didn't take long, either.

Deet is supposed to be a harmless repellent to most insects. I've heard that some large animals, including humans, have nasty reactions to it and that it kills some insects. The environmental hazards of anything sprayable are hard to observe, because simply coating an insect with anything that clogs its breathing pores will kill it; if you really want to kill insects fast you can squirt them with dishwashing soap, alcohol, or butter flavoring. At least I didn't see dead bees.

I continue to see living bees with vile habits in the yard. Normally bees are attracted to flowers, especially clover. In the absence of DNA studies, I've assumed that these bees had some "African" ancestry because I've seen them consistently ignoring clover and slurping up moisture from the kittens' litter box and from the dead kitten. Theoretically this taste, which is aberrant in the African breed, has been completely bred out of the Italian breed. Also, Italian bees usually live and travel in large groups, Africans in small groups. Also, the domestic, purebred Italian bees in the neighborhood were thought to have been wiped out by fungus infections ten years ago. So these bees definitely seem to be African. However, these breed characteristics are mutations that occurred naturally within a species; I don't know that these feral bees haven't evolved African-like traits through natural selection, in the absence of African ancestors. They certainly don't seem aggressive.

Along Route 23, the evidence of poisoning faded fast. For a few days strips of scorched-looking vegetation were conspicuous alongside every guardrail. Then all the sunny weather started to dry out the grass on the bluffs in between the guardrails, so the whole roadside began to look brownish, like August rather than June. Some of the bluffs were dappled with daisies before the guardrails were sprayed, and they still are. Overall, if you're driving down Route 23 today, you'd think all you're seeing is the effects of a three-week drought. Not as much vetch and clover, and not as many other wildflowers as were blooming last June. But still--rub those daisy haters' noses in it!--lots of pretty June daisies are blooming on the bluffs.

I'm conscious of feeling "old" more often than I was before poisoning. I've had a few more attacks of what look like pollen allergies or a sinus infection, and are neither. I've had better summers, health-wise; I've had worse ones. All the cats are a bit bleary-eyed, but most of them seem to be recovering too.

I've not felt inclined to walk through the poison zone just to go into town and research the effects of poisoning on the rest of the neighborhood. Have hospital admissions spiked? Have people bought more over-the-counter allergy meds than last year...and complained that the meds didn't work? The value of the Internet is that people without corporate funding can use the'Net to study these questions, which we know the corporate-funded programs are not going to study if they can help it. But for a few more weeks I plan to spend as much time at home as possible.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Parental Rights Amendment Goes to Committee

For those interested...{14F797ED-D754-4ECA-9DD8-D8EABD3DB66E}&Type=B_BASIC

(This post follows a different path through the Blogspot system than I usually take, and may show up in different ways or places. It's a quick experiment.)

Another Study Erases Women's Reality

Billy Hallowell cites a study comparing adults who grew up in "same-sex homes" with adults who grew up in "intact (biological) families." Naturally, the adults who had the benefit of a healthy relationship with both of their natural parents are doing better in every way.

What's wrong with the study? It completely erases the reality of "same-sex homes" in which one, two, or more women (often relatives) share the care of fatherless children, by lumping this kind of family together with "lesbian homes," in which women who are not relatives, who have dedicated themselves to making statements against the family structure, share the care of fatherless children.

There are obvious reasons why it can be hard to separate these two types of families for the purpose of sociological study. Women who are, in fact, lesbians may have convinced their children or foster children that they were some sort of distant relatives; in some communities that may have been the only way they could keep custody of those children. And these days, in some other communities, women who are in fact nonsexual may be getting the benefits of affirmative action efforts on behalf of lesbians.

Still, it would have been nice to have seen some recognition of the "family" in which another woman and I dated men, fostered a teenager, and sometimes double-dated with our "daughter." Or the "family" in which my mother and sister are bringing up the nephews. I'm guessing that a large-scale study would find that this kind of same-sex family is more likely to have suffered from poverty (women still earn less money than men) and health issues (this kind of family often forms after the father dies), but less likely to have suffered from socioemotional problems than a lesbian family. That's only a guess...but I'd like to see the statistics.

Fathers Should Defend Daughters

If you don't know what stupidity looks like, click here:

James Harrington thinks a father who sees his four-year-old daughter being molested should be prosecuted for doing what came naturally.

I propose that any parent, or any adult, who sees a four-year-old being sexually molested, and does not immediately take the most efficient measure to immobilize the molester, should be prosecuted as an accessory...and James Harrington should get ten years of hard labor.

This web site does not endorse violence. This web site also does not endorse participating in violent acts by failing to intervene.

Phenology for 6/7/12 to 6/13/12: Poison

The Blogspot statistics page shows one good trend: lots of people in India are reading this blog; and one bad trend: there's been an alarming uptick in interest in the outdated announcement "Please Help Feed the Volunteers." I've been offline for a while. Non-local readers, who don't realize that this was (originally entirely) due to a streak of cool, sunny mornings, have been worried. And the bad news is that, since Thursday, there has been some cause for your concern.

The federal government was not, of course, trying to poison me personally. So far as I can tell, the chemical defoliants sprayed on every guardrail along Route 23--which has a lot of guardrails--were aimed at the wildflowers your tax dollars paid Job Corps kids to plant a few years ago. What was really flourishing on this year's weather, and looking beautiful, as of last Thursday, was oxeye daisies.

On Thursday afternoon I walked out to visit my mother at her house, which is nine miles down Route 23. I walked all the way. I've done this many times; shoe damage and occasional blisters are the only unwanted effects.

However, a few minutes after sitting down in Mother's house, I started to feel terrible; as if the only reason why I wasn't fainting or vomiting was that my body couldn't decide which to do first.

Mother offered all the usual home remedies for ordinary tiredness. Water was welcome, but didn't help. Food tasted good, but I could hardly swallow it. A shower felt great, but I couldn't stand up in it. Lying down seemed to help, but sitting up showed that lying down hadn't done me any real good.

Since her accident last summer Mother hasn't owned a car. She has been issued a truck, which she's supposed to use only for work and real emergencies. Perhaps by way of security that she won't use it for personal amusement, the truck is a thirty-year-old ticking bomb Mother absolutely hates to drive. After two hours even Mother, who has this weird tendency to project her juvenile Supergirl fantasies onto me and never notices when I'm ill, said "Get into the truck." We drove past the grocery store that has the best prices on several things I buy. Did I want to pick up some groceries while I had a ride? I did not want to stand up and walk around in the store.

I went home and lay down, but didn't sleep well. I kept waking myself up by wheezing and gasping for breath. My nose was completely blocked and my throat kept clogging up. In the morning I couldn't make use of the beautiful cool sunny weather; I spent the whole morning mopping my nose.

I did not have a fever. I had no signs of food allergies. Blood sugar, up or down, made no difference. What on Earth was the matter with me? I've had reactions like this maybe half a dozen times in my lifetime, none quite this bad. Every one followed exposure to some sort of chemical pesticide.

Anyway, around the middle of Friday, I stopped sneezing and wheezing long enough to buy some groceries. I walked just three and a half miles down Route 23. Where had all the pretty daisies gone? I saw yard-wide swaths of scorched, ugly, brown stalks along every guardrail.

Now I knew why I'd been ill. Some lazy fool had been poisoning...not marijuana, not poison ivy, not even kudzu, but daisies.

Note to all the lazy fools out there: If you can't appreciate looking at them, you can actually eat daisies. They're not a gourmet favorite--the flavor reminds me of boiled eggs--but there is no excuse for poisoning a daisy.

I made it home with enough groceries to get me through a weekend of cool sunny mornings, but the story doesn't end there. When I got home I noticed that the kittens, who had been healthy, were looking ill.

The Patchnose cat family came here with one of the mild, but nasty-looking, viruses that cause feline rhinotracheitis. The way the vet described this virus to me made it sound like a feline version of mononucleosis: cold-type symptoms for anywhere between a week and six months, after which the virus lies dormant in the liver, ready to flare up under stress. There's no cure. Most cats eventually recover. A few don't. Distemper shots, when a cat is old enough to have them, can have a kill-or-cure effect. However, since they get the virus from their mothers, all these cats have gone through a bleary-eyed stage before they were old enough to have vaccinations. Just three of the kittens were beginning to look bleary-eyed on Thursday.

On Friday, one of those kittens was dead. Another one bounded across the porch to catch up with the rest of its family, fell off the porch, and lay on its side in a coma for three days before it died. (Aware that cats can go into a deep coma for long enough to kill disease germs, and recover completely, I kept the comatose kitten indoors.) Even the adult cats looked bleary-eyed...again.

Then on Monday my attention was distracted by a new arrival. When you live in an orchard, with a yard full of wildflowers, you get used to seeing honeybees. These were feral honeybees, probably strays from one of two neighbors' hives. I didn't know where in the woods they lived. But on Monday I saw that a small remnant of the bee colony had left the woods and been trying to set up housekeeping on my front porch.

Like most honeybees we see these days, they're a mix of "Italian" and "African" breeds, also known as "domestic" and "killer" bees. (Like other animal breed names, "Italian" and "African" reflect the remote history of where the bees were first identified as breeds.) Pure Italians have poor resistance to fungus infections; in our warmer, damper climate it takes a few African genes for a bee to survive.

I have seen no evidence of a "killer" instinct in these so-called killer bees, but I'm seeing all kinds of other behavioral evidence...African bees are sometimes attracted to nasty stuff. The Bible character Samson found it remarkable, a real believe-it-or-not story, when he saw bees nesting in an animal carcass. My unwanted bees have shown more interest in dead kittens than they have in the clover that's still blooming in the yard.

Bees tend to specialize: when they make a comb, they fill it with honey from one source and not another. My porch now has a small amount of honey. You would not want to eat this honey. I don't even like to smell it. The older batch of kittens were born early, during a cold snap, and spent their first six weeks indoors; they formed the habit of using a litter box. I've indulged them to the extent of bringing the box outdoors with them. They use it, and have taught their young cousins to use it. And that is what these bees have really been working, producing what may be the nastiest honey ever recorded in history.

Is there hope for these bees? Will either of the beekeeping neighbors reclaim them, or at least reclaim the queen? I once wrote an Associated Content article advising people not to poison honeybees. I don't intend to poison honeybees either. Nor do I intend to kill a sunny day indoors instead of working down the list of possible things to do about them.

This morning, for the first time since Thursday night, I woke up breathing normally. Being a larger and healthier animal than a spring kitten, I may recover completely from the effects of the defoliant to which the cats and the bees and I have been exposed. In a few weeks. Maybe.

My cat Bisquit is dead.

Route 23 is no longer lined with beautiful spangles of red and white clover, Queen Anne's Lace, crown vetch, native vetch, fleabane and oxeye daisies. It's barren, brown, and ugly; it's been Agent Oranged. What was justified as an act of war necessary to contain the Soviet Menace, when I was a little girl, has been deployed...against daisies.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Wal-Mart Rejects Self-Defense

Wal-Mart could have backed out of a lobbying group merely because what lobbying groups do is collect money from their members...but a Wal-Mart spokesman is saying that the store chain wants to avoid association with "Stand Your Ground" laws that recognize a basic human right to defend oneself against violent attacks.

So, if a victim of Prozac Dementia starts shooting at everybody in the local Wal-Mart store, Wal-Mart wants to make sure none of the employees or customers is able to interfere? Nice. Not.

ABC: Good News for Pregnant Vegans

Although she's not yet seen it, this ABC (Australia Broadcasting Corporation) news story is sure to delight Grandma Bonnie Peters:

Briefly, they've analyzed differences between the health hazards of keeping to a meat-and-potatoes diet while unable to get enough meat, and eating a balanced and varied vegan diet...and if you can afford a well-balanced vegan diet, you don't have to consume animal fat in any form, even while pregnant or lactating.

Thanks to Steve Milloy for sharing this link.

Cathy Montville on Financial Health Habits

Although this web site would never endorse warbles about how actually being poor is a good thing, this web site does observe that a recession can be a good terms of reminding people to stay out of debt, be frugal, and practice financial habits that will help them avoid poverty. Cathy A. Montville goes further:

Mark Warner on Employment

Senators Mark Warner, Marco Rubio, Chris Coons, and Jerry Moran have proposed a piece of legislation that they say will reduce the incidence of unemployment, if passed.

From Senator Warner's e-mail...

China, India, Brazil, and the rest of our global business competitors certainly are not waiting for us to get our act together, so we cannot allow election-year politics to interfere with smart, reasonable efforts to strengthen our economy and jumpstart job creation.

That’s why I have joined several of my colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation,
Startup Act 2.0. With my partners -- Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) – we intend to prove the critics wrong: we want to demonstrate that Congress can get something significant done, even during an election year, when we’re willing to put partisanship aside and work together.
While the recently enacted JOBS Act focused on access to capital, Startup Act 2.0 concentrates instead on access to talent:

  • Too few American college students are pursuing advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. So Startup Act 2.0 would, in effect, staple a green card to the diplomas of foreign-born students earning advanced STEM degrees who can demonstrate they are willing to remain in the United States to apply their talents here and create new jobs. The Roanoke Times calls this “a small but crucial slice of U.S. immigration policy,” and notes that “The immigrants at issue would create jobs for themselves and thousands of native-born Americans. That's an outcome that deserves bipartisan support.”
  • Startup Act 2.0 also offers some targeted tax breaks aimed at enabling small businesses to conserve financial resources more effectively while they grow. Among other things, it creates a targeted research and development tax credit for early-stage startups, and it makes permanent an existing exemption from capital gains taxes on start-up stock that is held for at least five years.
  • Start-up Act 2.0 proposes a mandatory cost-benefit analysis of proposed regulations that could have greater than $100 million in economic impact. “By requiring this analysis, agencies might think twice about imposing unnecessarily burdensome regulations,” according to the Progressive Policy Institute.
  • Let’s face it: not every college or university is as capable as a UVA, Virginia Tech, VCU or ODU to maximize the market potential of faculty-driven R&D. So our legislation will help smaller universities move taxpayer-funded research from the laboratory to the marketplace more quickly.
Google, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Information Technology Industry Council and TechAmerica all have endorsed Startup Act 2.0. And one leading national newspaper even had this to say about our bipartisan effort:

    Much of the time, Congress is, well, Congress. Gridlocked, combative, dysfunctional are only three of the adjectives that might be routinely applied. But some days, there is a hint of a different institution… [Startup Act 2.0] is a potential reminder that, when the conditions are right, members of both parties are far from giving up on good.
In the past 16 months, six countries have implemented new policies to encourage more entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation within their borders. The U.S. cannot afford to turn a blind eye to our competitors or use the coming elections as an excuse to delay action on an issue that is so critical to our economic future.

Regards –

Mark Warner

Friday, June 1, 2012

Morgan Griffith on Virginia Employment

E-mail from Morgan Griffith, posted intact:
(202) 225-3861
Press Release
Date: June 1, 2012

Griffith Statement on May Jobs Report

June 1, 2012 -
Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) issued the following statement today after the release of the May jobs report showed unemployment ticked up to 8.2%:

“Unfortunately for the American people, this latest jobs report is just more evidence of an economy that remains static. I, for one, am ready for change. This month marks the 40th consecutive month of more than 8% unemployment even though we were all told that the $787 billion dollar stimulus would keep it below that. In addition to the President’s failed economic policies, the EPA and other agency regulations must stop choking the economy like a major chemical spill would choke the environment. Their stranglehold is suffocating jobs.”

Rigorous Research at Corporate-Owned Schools

I want to buy this whole article...but Mother Jones already did:

This is by way of response to a commenter at the Huffington Post who questioned the research on a psychiatric condition nicknamed "Prozac Dementia." There's no rational doubt that popular antidepressants, like Prozac, are associated with a very specific pattern of side effects that can lead to violent insanity in previously rational and nonviolent patients. The reason why we even need to emphasize that "Prozac Dementia" is merely a street nickname is that all the other medications in the same category have similar side effects.

The pharmaceutical industry hasn't actually challenged the fact that, in clinical trials, even short-term use of antidepressants has led to "Prozac Dementia" in somewhere from three to fifteen percent of test subjects. (Results have varied as each formula's been tested; Joseph Glenmullen published a list of results that were "rigorous" enough for the FDA and the Harvard Medical School, a few years ago.) Instead, the industry has tried to suppress public awareness of the facts by, among other things, urging publishers to stop mentioning what was emerging as a very strong correlation between "Prozac Dementia" and the recent phenomenon of sudden, unprovoked mass murders, sometimes of strangers, followed by suicide.

As a result, instead of seeing (1) closer supervision of previously nonviolent depressive patients who are at risk for "Prozac Dementia," and (2) a demand for research on safer treatments for depression--both of which the world badly needs--we're seeing more and more stories like this one:

And, similarly, we're seeing academics in denial of the claims that prolonged use of foods that have been gene-spliced with disease bacteria are starting to produce early stages of diseases formerly confined to other species, not found in the human population. And, similarly, we're seeing academics in denial of the claim that prophylactic use of statins causes diabetes, or even aggravates latent or potential diabetes. And, similarly, throughout the 1970s we saw academics in vociferous denial of the claim that there could be any link between smoking and lung cancer.

Moral: If you see it happening in the real world, but you don't see much about it in the research, follow the money...that will account for lack of research, or lack of publicity about the existing research, almost every time.

Another Humane Pet Genocide Society Ploy

This time the Humane Society's approval of a proposed compromise with commercial egg packers, enlarging the required size of factory-farm hens' cages, is an attack on more genuinely humane farmers whose hens roam around in yards rather than cages:

Who would actually benefit from the "Rotten Egg Bill"? Not hens. Not hen fanciers. Not humane or organic farmers. Factory farmers would, however, be able to raise the price of eggs.

Sounds like a good bill for the Senate to kill.

Shiva (Ayyadurai) Defended as Inventor of EMAIL

Back in March, I posted a link to a Gizmodo story about a man whose claims to have invented e-mail the author presented as a sort of translation error. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai invented a program called "EMAIL." Others claimed to have invented the concept of e-mail first. I suspected the story was being aired on a Republican-oriented web site as an inducement to comedians to come up with Al Gore jokes.

Apparently there's more to it. Someone posted a live link to what appears to be a legitimate, informative web page presenting Shiva Ayyadurai's case. Because we've declared a policy banning live links from the comments section, and because I didn't intend to take sides in a serious lawsuit, and because it does appear that a teenager working alone on his own time really did invent a working e-mail program, I'm reposting that link here:

Many interesting links, including a statement of support from the great linguist and controversial philosopher Noam Chomsky.

This web site discusses more of what Shiva Ayyadurai's doing now:

I have, as the saying goes, no dog in this race--no personal interest in any further decision that remains to be made on Shiva Ayyadurai's place in history. Though I do think the idea of a fourteen-year-old boy having invented either one of several independently written e-mail programs, or the first such program that worked in use, makes a terrific story.

The Evil Spelling Test

Teresa Nielsen-Hayden shares a list of spelling demons, ideal for throwing at the side you would like to see lose a spelling bee...

If you can hear these words read and type them correctly without looking them up (and if you're a student) you're a solid candidate for the National Spelling Championship. I was. The easiest way to sabotage me on a spelling test is to insist on all U.S. or all U.K. preferences; some words look right to me one way, some the other, and I agree with at least two twentieth-century authors who've observed in print that "gray" and "grey" are two different colors. But the word I tend to spell not just exotically, but just plain wrong, is "idiosyncrasy." I've kept looking that one up for forty years.

Honors Student Vindicated

Madeleine Morgenstern shares the latest heartwarming twist in an outrageous story:

Bloggers don't share these outrage stories for the purpose of raising people's blood pressure or aggravating their depression. We share them for the purpose of calling attention to problems that can be solved, especially when public attention sheds light on an issue.

This web site officially salutes The Blaze for its role in defending the honor of Diane Tran.