Archive for March, 2006

Mar 31 2006

Follow the Money

Published by Brian under food, drugs

For several years we’ve been hearing reports that moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages is a “heart healthy” activity. And for almost as long I’ve been saying, Follow the money. If you trace the funding for such studies back to their sources you find the wine industries of France and California footing the bill. Now it looks as though I’ve been right all along. “All those health benefits of moderate drinking may be based on nothing but a common methodological error in the studies, a meta-analysis suggested,” reports Medpage Today along with numerous other sources. A “common methodological error”? Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics? When the wine industry is footing the bill for data analysis the error is not merely methodological, which is far too neutral a term. This is the spinning of data to support an industry. Various vested interests–grape growers, wine makers, retail outlets, and especially the federal government of the United States–want you to believe that alcoholic beverages are somehow “healthy.” The tobacco industry would like you to believe the same thing about cigarettes and, historically, that industry has engaged in the same sort of data spin as the wine industry has been pulling for the past decade or so. All of this is designed to divert our dizzy little short-attention-span minds from the obvious: alcohol is a dangerous drug–but it’s legal. Meanwhile, the planet’s only safe intoxicant is demonized throughout the world. It’s time to call the bull-shitters’ bluff: make alcohol illegal and legalize cannabis.

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Mar 20 2006

States’ Rights?

Published by Brian under cathy_mcmorris, politics

Rep. Cathy McMorris has done it again. This avowed conservative and Bushite, dedicated (she says), to small government and states’ rights, on March 8 voted yes on the National Uniformity of Food Act. This bill voids the rights of individual states to determine food quality and safety and places that power with the federal government. Says the Union of Concerned Scientists, “The bill would remove states’ power to warn consumers about mercury contamination or arsenic in bottled water, void California’s Proposition 65 which requires labeling on food products containing carcinogens, and cost taxpayers more than $100 million to implement. [The bill] is backed by large food manufacturers and trade organizations that have contributed millions of dollars to members of Congress.” Please contact your senators and ask them to oppose this bill.

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Mar 16 2006

New Review - Pynchon’s V.

Published by Brian under reviews

My review of Thomas Pychon’s V. just posted to Curled Up with a Good Book. It’s not just a review, it’s a teensy-weensy itsy-bitsy critical essay of one of the twentieth century’s great books.

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Mar 14 2006

Write Your Senator!

Published by Brian under war, human_rights, politics

“Dear Senators Cantwell and Murray: I’m ashamed to admit that I once thought you were pretty good senators. But you and your party’s lack of support for Senator Feingold’s move to censure President Bush for his crimes against civil society, the people of Iraq, and the people of the world through torture and wrongful imprisonment, leave me sick at heart and stomach. You can count on me to do whatever I can to see that you are not reelected. No more Democrats, the party of the chickens. And no more Republicans, the part of the chickenhawks.” Use this letter as a model, if you like; and contact your senators using this form.

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Mar 13 2006

RIP - Ali Farka Touré

Published by Brian under music

Beloved guitarist and statesman Ali Farka Touré died last week in Mali. The two-time Grammy winner is probably best know in the U.S. for his collaboration with Ry Cooder, Talking Timbuktoo. Corey Harris has written a lovely appreciation of Touré in Counterpunch, while the BBC has published a simpler obituary. Touré leaves behind a wife, eleven children and a new solo album.

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Mar 01 2006

Go FOIA Yourself

Published by Brian under the_secrets, privacy, politics

Ever wondered what the FBI has on you? Here’s a Freedom of Information request made simple. (The FBI has nothing on me. Not sure if that’s good or bad.)

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