Saturday, January 31, 2009

Salt fascists are coming

The NY Times reports:
After a string of victories over smoking, trans fats and calories, Dr. Frieden, the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is waging a new campaign: to lower the amount of sodium America eats. ...

Lowering salt consumption, along with stopping smoking, are two areas in which a broad public health effort can have the most impact on the most people, Dr. Frieden said.

Key to the plan is a gradual reduction in sodium levels. The theory is that if the salt disappears slowly enough, consumers will not notice. ...

But public health officials say there is a strong consensus that salt leads to higher rates of heart attacks and strokes.

That consensus alarms Dr. Michael Alderman, editor in chief of the American Journal of Hypertension, who thinks more clinical studies need to be done. And, he says, wild swings in dietary regulation haven’t always worked out.

Even trans fat, in the form of margarine, was once promoted by health officials as healthier than butter. It turns out that trans fats were worse for heart health than saturated fats.

“Diet is an incredibly complicated business,” Dr. Alderman said.
That last point is correct. The whole reason trans-fats were introduced into our diets was that diet do-gooders claimed that it was healthy. They never had any good scientific evidence that trans-fats were any healthier than anything else, but no one questioned them.

Now they are after salt. Dire warnings like the above come from others such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Again, there is no evidence of any measurable overall health benefit to lowering salt intake.

Unless you have high blood pressure or hypertension, there is no reason to be concerned about sodium at all. If you are on blood pressure lowering drugs, then your salt intake may have a slight effect on how much of the drug you might have to take to bring your blood pressure down to normal levels. If you are in that position and that matters to you, then go ahead and lower your sodium intake. But for everyone else, salt is good for you, and it is silly and harmful for public health officials to wage a war against sodium.

Update: Medical prof Michael Alderman responds:
If such a large reduction were actually to be achieved, however, New Yorkers would consume less sodium than people in most other developed countries do. And there is a possibility that such a big change in one element of their diet might have unintended harmful consequences. Prudence requires that logic and good intentions also be supported by strong evidence that such an action would be safe.

Throughout history, efforts have been made to reform the human diet by changing individual characteristics of it, and some of these changes have had unexpected harmful effects. In the 1950s, for instance, pregnant women were urged to strictly limit their weight gain to avoid pre-eclampsia, a syndrome characterized by high blood pressure, fluid retention and kidney problems. Enough women apparently followed this advice that the number of underweight babies — and of infant deaths, some attributable to low birth weight — increased.

More recently, the federal Dietary Guidelines have been criticized by medical researchers as contributing to an increasing prevalence of obesity in the United States, in part by encouraging people to eat too much low-fat food.

In both instances, respected authorities instituted reasonable ideas without having the evidence to know whether their policies might backfire. ...

Only one such rigorous clinical trial on salt intake has been reported so far, and it focused on patients with fairly advanced heart problems. As it turned out, the group that adhered to a lower sodium diet actually suffered significantly more cardiovascular deaths and hospitalizations than did the one assigned to the higher sodium diet.
The AMA says:
The American Medical Association applauds the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for embarking on a campaign to urge processed-food manufacturers to voluntarily reduce the salt content in their products. ...

A national reduction in the amount of sodium in processed foods is clearly needed ...
The AMA has a very poor record on nutritional advice. I am going with the scientific studies instead.

Women Have More Nightmares Than Men

ScienceDaily reports:
A researcher from the University of the West of England was inspired by her own nightmares and a chance encounter at a lecture to examine more closely the stuff that dreams are made of. Her PhD study has focused on an astounding discovery that women suffer more nightmares then men. ...

Women had more unpleasant dreams than men and unpleasant dreams contained more misfortune, self-negativity and failures.

“Women’s dreams contained more family members, more negative emotion, more indoor settings and less physical aggression than men’s dreams. ...

Men’s dream contained more references to sexual activity.
This was astounding? Maybe she will study waking thoughts next, and discover some more surprises.

Here is some
more research on sex differences:
LITTLE girls may be made of sugar and spice and all things nice, but their armpits smell of onions. And while free of slug or snail odours, men's armpits pack a powerful cheesy whiff.

That's the conclusion of research in Switzerland that involved taking armpit sweat samples from 24 men and 25 women after they had spent time in a sauna or ridden an exercise bike for 15 minutes.

The researchers found marked differences in the sweat from men and women. "Men smell of cheese, and women of grapefruit or onion," says Christian Starkenmann of Firmenich, a company in Geneva that researches flavours and perfumes for food and cosmetics companies.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Aptly named man in the news

Openly gay Portland Mayor Sam Adams had a 17-year-old intern boy named Beau Breedlove. You can guess the rest. Yes, that is his real name.

It is funny to see folks in the news with apt names. Like Bernard Madoff, who made off with a lot of money from rich New York City Jews.

40 false rape allegations against her ex-boyfriend

A UK newspaper reports:
A BBC personality has shattered her ex-boyfriend's life by falsely accusing him of rape.

The woman, who has broadcast to television audiences of millions, accused him of raping her 40 times throughout their two-and-a-half-year relationship.

He was arrested, held in a police cell and handcuffed as police searched his flat for evidence of his crime. But she retracted her allegation weeks later, and the officer investigating the claims described them as 'inconsistent' and 'not credible'.

Despite the lack of evidence, the incident remains on the Police National Computer thanks to a legal loophole, which campaigners say is blighting the lives of falsely accused men.

Even if the 'victim' withdraws their allegation, it will show up under enhanced Criminal Records Bureau checks that are undertaken regularly on people who apply for jobs with employers such as the NHS or schools. It will also prevent them from travelling to the United States.

The boyfriend cannot be identified to protect his accuser's anonymity, but wants to make his case public.

He said: 'The lies she told have ruined my life. Yet, while I have lost out on jobs and been left paranoid and scared of women, she has got away without punishment. We're not even allowed to reveal her identity. Rape is a horrific crime, and there is no way I am capable of committing it.

'I don't care how successful she is, she should be sent to prison. Of course, the BBC doesn't know what she has done. But if they were to find out I would like to think they'd sack her.'

Fewer than six per cent of reported rapes result in a conviction, but according to Tim Murray of the False Rape Society, this case is typical.
The allegations were obviously false. He should not have even needed those videorecords that proved his innocence No one gets raped 40 times by the same guy, and then only reports it after the 40th rape. The accused should be publicly exposed and punished.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Teach the pleasure of gay sex

A UK newspaper reports:
Children as young as five should be taught to understand the pleasures of gay sex, according to leaders of a taxpayer-funded education project.

Heads of the project have set themselves a goal of 'creating primary classrooms where queer sexualities are affirmed and celebrated'. ...

The stated purpose of the project - which is operating in 14 primary schools - is to stop bullying and prejudice aimed at homosexuals.

However, at a seminar at Exeter University tomorrow, supporters of the group will go beyond the anti-bullying agenda and discuss 'pleasure and desire in educational contexts'.
Get used to it. This is an evitable consequence of the gay marriage movement. So is legalized polygamy:
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Canada’s decision to legalize gay marriage has paved the way for polygamy to be legal as well, a defense lawyer said Wednesday as the two leaders of rival polygamous communities made their first court appearance.
Criticizing polygamy may soon be illegal in Canada and Europe. Dutch politician Geert Wilders is currenly on trial for making movie that is allegedly offensive to Mohammedans:
Having his own party liberates Mr. Wilders to speak his mind. As he sees it, the West suffers from an excess of toleration for those who do not share its tradition of tolerance. "We believe that -- 'we' means the political elite -- that all cultures are equal," he says. "I believe this is the biggest disease today facing Europe. . . . We should wake up and tell ourselves: You're not a xenophobe, you're not a racist, you're not a crazy guy if you say, 'My culture is better than yours.' A culture based on Christianity, Judaism, humanism is better. Look at how we treat women, look at how we treat apostates, look at how we go with the separation of church and state. I can give you 500 examples why our culture is better." ...

The problem is Islam itself. "I see Islam more as an ideology than as a religion," he explains.

His own view of Islam is a fundamentalist one: "According to the Quran, there are no moderate Muslims. It's not Geert Wilders who's saying that, it's the Quran . . . saying that. It's many imams in the world who decide that. It's the people themselves who speak about it and talk about the terrible things -- the genital mutilation, the honor killings. This is all not Geert Wilders, but those imams themselves who say this is the best way of Islam."
The core of the court case against him seems to be that the movie compared Islam to Nazism, and the Koran and Mein Kampf.

In the USA and on the internet, calling someone a Nazi is just another way of saying that you disagree with him. Here is a Michigan lawyer who got into trouble for calling judges Nazis.
DETROIT - A federal appeals court threw out a lawsuit Tuesday by Geoffrey Fieger, who claims his criticism of Michigan judges is protected by the First Amendment. ...

"The Michigan Supreme Court emphasized that Fieger violated the rules, not because he criticized judges, but because he made vulgar, personally abusive comments about participants in a pending case," the appeals court said.

Fieger said the judges who reversed his medical-malpractice verdict were "three jackass ... judges." He likened them to Nazi leaders and said Judge Jane Markey was "Eva Braun," wife of Adolf Hitler.
He lost 4-3 in the Michigan Supreme Court and 2-1 in the US appeals court, but all he got was a formal reprimand for violating rules of professional conduct. He was not fined or jailed, and he did not get his law license suspended. I would think that he would be happy that someone bothered to notice his incivil remarks, since he does not seem to have any regrets about what he said.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Only 13 FLDS YZR kids in court custody

Salt Lake City Utah news:
Only 13 children remain under court jurisdiction in the ongoing custody case involving children from the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch in Texas.

Texas Child Protective Services has officially "nonsuited" 426 children, leaving only 13 left in what was once the nation's largest child custody case. Agency spokesman Patrick Crimmins confirmed to the Deseret News on Tuesday the four remaining legal cases involve children from three mothers.
It appears that child abuse was just an excuse for the state to shut down this religious sect. They should not grab 426 kids to get 13 suspects.

Mathematicians are the best

The WSJ reports on a study saying that the best occupation is Mathematician, and the worst is Lumberjack. Furthermore, most of the top 20 jobs are mathematical.

The methodology is strange. It considered mathematicians to have easy jobs because they sit in air-conditioned offices all days and never have to use any physical exertion or breathe fresh air.

Mathematics requires more mental exertion than the other jobs on the list. I guess that they decided that mental stress is a good thing. Weird.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bush presidency started and ended in recession

The leftists Media Matters complained that this AP story is not anti-Bush enough because it includes the word "strictly":
BUSH: "In terms of the economy — look, I inherited a recession, I'm ending on a recession. In the meantime, there were 52 months of uninterrupted job growth."

THE FACTS: There have been two recessions during Bush's time in office. The first was a relatively mild downturn that began in March 2001 and lasted eight months, ending in November 2001. Since the first one did not begin until after he took office in January 2001, it is not strictly accurate to say he "inherited" it.
The USA economy started tanking in the Spring of 2000. By election day in Nov. 2000, the stock market had crashed and we had lost many thousands of tech jobs. Yes, we were in recession and the recession helped elect G.W. Bush just as the current recession helped elect B. Obama. The AP story has a anti-Bush bias, not a pro-Bush bias.

BTW, Obama was just sworn in as Barack Hussein Obama. This is the name by which he wants to be known. Carter was sworn in as Jimmy, and Clinton as Bill. Obama could have been sworn in as Barry or anything else he wanted. Apparently he wanted to make a statement that he has a Mohammedan name, and he wants the public to use that Mohammedan name.

But if you give your child an offensive middle name, CPS might take your kids away from you:
It’s been almost a week since the state of New Jersey took Deborah Campbell’s three children from her home and she says officials have yet to tell her and her husband why. But Campbell suspects it has something to do with the names they bestowed upon their kids.

Not sure when she will be able to see her kids again, Deborah decided to break a judge’s gag order and make a public plea for the return of her children.

"They belong home with their mother and father. They don’t belong out there in a stranger’s home," Campbell told NBC10’s Mike Strug Monday night.

Officials from the NJ Division of Youth and Family Services took the children -- Adolf Hitler Campbell, 3, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, 1, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, who will turn 1 in April – from the Campbell’s home in Milford, N.J. last Tuesday, saying only that they felt the children were in danger.
CPS would only say that "they would never remove a child from a home just because of the child's name." This suggests that CPS has the power to take kids away just because of a name, but whenever it does, it stalls for a couple of weeks while it concocts some mumbo-jumbo about danger to the child.

Monday, January 19, 2009

California motorist charged for injuring cyclists

The LA Times reports:
A Brentwood physician who allegedly injured two cyclists last summer by slamming on his car brakes in front of them on Mandeville Canyon Road pleaded not guilty today. Prosecutor Mary Stone alleges that Christopher Thomas Thompson hit his brakes after a confrontation with cyclists who were riding down the narrow road.

The resulting impact flung one cyclist through the car’s rear window and the other to the pavement. Thompson, 59, allegedly told police during the July 4 incident that he stopped his red Infinity sedan in front of the cyclists to “teach them a lesson.” The physician complained that cyclists frequently traveled the residential street in Brentwood and that he was “tired of them,” Los Angeles police Officer Robert Rodriguez testified during a preliminary hearing last month.

Thompson is charged with one felony count of reckless driving causing injury and two felony counts of battery with serious injury, two counts of causing “great bodily injury” to the cyclists while attempting to commit a felony and one count of mayhem for other severe injuries to one of the cyclists. He also faces one count of misdemeanor reckless driving causing injury in an incident with another cyclist on the same road in March.
A reader responds:
My sympathies are with the doctor. Far too often I see pretentious idiots wearing tights who think they are Lance Armstrong ... The fact of the matter is that these bicyclists were riding way too fast and were a hazard to everybody on that road. By their own admission when the doctor told them to ride single-file (AS REQUIRED BY LAW) ...
No, California law does not require bicyclists to ride single-file. The physician should do some hard time in prison.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kids are telepathic

From today's comics:
Bernie wins the bets. The kids jabber nonsense and communicate by mindreading.

Phony Amber Alert

The San Jose Mercury News reports:
Mark Porter, the San Jose man who was charged Friday with kidnapping and child abduction, is steadfast that he is innocent and said he had permission to pick up the 8-year-old girl he considers a stepdaughter.
It sounds as if they are charging him in order to justify bothering the whole city with an Amber Alert.

I think that the public is going to ignore these Amber Alerts when they figure that they are nearly always false alarms.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mannequins now have rights

Florida news:
FORT MYERS — Florida Gulf Coast University has suspended a well-known professor without pay following a sexual harassment investigation released Thursday.

An internal investigation determined that David Lounsbury, an associate professor in the Division of Justice Studies, fondled and made inappropriate comments about anatomically correct mannequins during class.

Lounsbury was using the mannequins as part of a death investigation course.

University Provost Ronald Toll suspended Lounsbury for the remainder of this semester.

“The university has reached this decision because you have been found to have made inappropriate, sexually related comments and engaged in inappropriate behaviors that appear devoid of educational purposes or content,” Provost Ronald Toll wrote in a Jan. 14 letter to Lounsbury.
So mannequins now have rights to be free from sexual harassment? Every professor's comment must have an educational purpose? Can he tell a joke?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

The impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been using literary references in his public statements. He quoted If by Rudyard Kipling:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
He also quoted Ulysses by Alfred Tennyson:
... tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
He said that he felt like the main character in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.

I don't know whether he committed any crimes or not, but I am impressed by his ability to stand up to his enemies and to perform his public duties. A lot of people assume that he is guilty, but we really have no evidence that he has ever taken a dime in bribes.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

McClish waits for DNA evidence

Here is news about a local crime:
Michael McClish will face the evidence on April 6 in the double homicide case of Joanna “Asha” Veil and her unborn daughter.

McClish, who is accused of double murder, will appear for a preliminary hearing in Santa Cruz County Superior Court. Judge Samuel Stevens set the date on Dec. 22 after several delays in processing DNA evidence. ...

The body of Veil, a cashier at the Ben Lomond supermarket where McClish also worked, was found in September 2006 on remote Love Creek Road.
Several delays? The murder was in 2006 and they still have shown the DNA evidence? This is fishy.
McClish, who is imprisoned on an unrelated sexual assault conviction that he is appealing, has been in county jail since his arrest in May.
Unrelated? McClish was framed on the sex charge because the County could not prove that he murdered Asha.

Maybe McClish killed Asha, but I doubt that 2.5 years of evidence cooking is going to prove it. McClish was a married man with a nice family. Asha's unborn baby belonged to someone else. Why would McClish kill Asha?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Why are there so few female chess grandmasters?

Cancer researcher Ed Yong writes:
Bilalic smelled a rat in Irwing's contention that men dominate the higher echelons of chess because of their innate ability. In an elegant new study, he has shown that the performance gap between male and female chess players is caused by nothing more than simple statistics.

Far more men play chess than women and based on that simple fact, you could actually predict the differences we see in chess ability at the highest level. It's a simple statistical fact that the best performers from a large group are probably going to be better than the best performers from a small one. Even if two groups have the same average skill and, importantly, the same range in skill, the most capable individuals will probably come from the larger group. ...

The model revealed that the greater proportion of male chess players accounts for a whopping 96% of the difference in ability between the two genders at the highest level of play. If more women took up chess, you'd see that difference close substantially. ...

So why are there so few female chess grandmasters? Because fewer women play chess. It's that simple. This overlooked fact accounts for so much of the observable differences that other possible explanations, be they biological, cultural or environmental, are just fighting for scraps at the table.
It is that simple? Wow, I wonder why no one else thought of that.

If it were that simple, then the same analysis could be applied to other games. Some games, like the word game Scrabble, are more popular among women than men.

Here is some other goofy research that was applied to other data to give nonsensical results. Some well-publicized research a few months ago declared obesity to be like a contagious disease; you get fat because your friends get fat. This blog debunks the study:
Recognizing the implausibility of the social networking theory of obesity — as well as social networking increasingly being used to explain other implausibly related physical traits and conditions — Jason M. Fletcher, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut, along with Boston economist, Ethan Cohen-Cole, Ph.D., designed an ingenious study. They selected conditions that no one would seriously believe were spread by social networking and online friendships: height, headaches and acne. They then applied the same standard statistical methods used in Christakis and Fowler’s social networking research to “find” that acne, height and headaches have the same “social network effect.”
Yes, of course. You get fat because you eat too much, not because your friends get fat.