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January 29, 2004
Freedom from stupidity

You know what you get when you get a president who thinks reading more than half a page of text is just too much work? You get so-called education initiatives that push phonics instead of reading. I'm struggling hard to remember that I imposed a ban on rude and profitless name-calling.

There are a lot of good things this country could spend $23 million on, and drug-testing schoolkids doesn't hit the top of the list. But maybe they're going to pay for it from the money they save from axing other drug testing programs. Because, yeah, I'm all about pre-emptive guilt, so testing students instead of criminals really thrills me. Even more than I was thrilled by the presumption of drug-guilt implicit in testing arrestees, regardless of the charges against them.

As Tom points out, although he doesn't put it that way, the problem with drug testing is that we're not testing the right people.

In other news, either the Bush Administration is once again demonstrating that they can't even spell science, much less comprehend what it is. Either that, or there's some out-of-context quoting going on again.

The Administration questions the scientific basis for “the linking of fruit and vegetable consumption to decreased risk of obesity and diabetes.”

Well, that's right and wrong. If you're wondering whether potato chips or an apple offers more useless calories, then you're an idiot.

If you're arguing on the basis of the recent, low-carb diet phrase that lower carb consumption is healthier, then you're on more solid ground. Not quite so much of an idiot. Most fruits and many vegetables contain a lot of carbohydrates, which are essentially sugar. (Of course, there are carbs and there are carbs. Some carbs are superior to others, but I won't go on and on about it.)

So, yes, you should limit your daily consumption of certain fruits and vegetables, unless you intend to replace these foods with Fritos, french fries, and M&Ms.

Fruits and vegetables aren't the be-all and end-all of health food, although they're important components of a healthy diet, and unless the Bush Administration comes out on the side of high-calorie, almost nutrition-free food, I'm not buying this interpretation of their report.

Anyhow. So I went and read the source material.

There is also an unsubstantiated focus on "good" and "bad" foods, and a conclusion that specific foods are linked to non-communicable diseases and obesity (e.g., energy-dense foods, high/added sugar foods, and drinks, meats, certain types of fats and oils, and higher fat dairy products). The USG favors dietary guidance that focuses on the total diet, promotes the view that all foods can b e part of a healthy and balanced diet, and supports personal responsibility to choose a diet conducive individual energy balance, weight control, and health.

Okay, they came out on the side of high-calorie, almost nutrition-free food.

Then they go on to diss the way the WHO conducts scientific studies and to practically imply that they deliberately slant their results.

And, this will make you laugh, the report goes on to chastise the WHO for not providing "clarity and transparency of the process" in how they arrived at their conclusions. Got that? The Bush Administration is taking someone to task for lacking "transparency" in how they arrive at decisions.

Not everything they say is ignorant, but there's enough ignorance mixed in to make the sensible bits hard to pick out.You just can't help these guys, can you? Every time I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, it turns out to be a mistake.

(Thanks to Jerome for the original link.)

Remember Zena Mahlangu? The media seems to have given up on the story (well, they really had to with the girl insisting she was looking forward to spending her life with the man of her dreams and his six, or was it nine, other wives). Now, if the king gets his way, Zena and the others are each going to get a palace of their own. In the meantime, citizens of his country continue to sicken and die for lack of basic necessities.

Chris brings up something I've been contemplating for the last couple of months - the potential for real, wide-spread rebellion in Iraq. If we went in to bring 'freedom' to the Iraqi people, what, precisely, will our government do if Iraq rises up, throws us out, and creates their own kind of freedom? At what point to we make the choice to leave? How many people have to protest, or die, before we leave Iraq to the Iraqis, even if they haven't yet selected a government favorable to us?

I'm not advocating leaving Iraq at this juncture. I think many people underestimate the kind of anarchy that would settle over the country if there's not even a nominal government in charge, with the force that will be needed to establish safety and security for Iraqi citizens. It's just an problem I've been puzzling over.

Check out The Center for American Progress. They've given us a nice list of WMD claims from the Administration, larded with multiple warnings about how Saddam Hussein was the most dangerous problem facing the world last year.

I get to Oliver Willis's blog and follow the links to the source to discover that part of Dean's financing problem might be...well, who knows? Yeah, it looks like he collected commission on advertising buys, but that's pretty common in politics and it's a bit disingenuous of the Washington Post not to mention that fact. Nor are any hard numbers mentioned in terms of what Trippi actually wound up collecting, any comparisons to what's the norm for commission on ad buys, or anything else concrete.

It's Jane's birthday and while you're over there congratulating her, check out the interesting post on slavery reparations.

More on anti-Semitism versus anti-Israelism from Bjorn. I don't agree with all of it, but it makes for interesting reading.

Also? Is death returning to Minnesota?

To drum up support for his plan, the Governor brought out the father of a murdered rape victim who said he believed in "an eye for an eye." There was no mention of Mahatma Ghandi, who sagely said, an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.


I'm not in the mood to work today and none of this morning's news headlines inspired anything but boredom. Dead people here, dying people there, sick people somewhere else. Same old headlines of people in trouble. Same old government trying desperately to pretend the yellow brick road of prosperity is just around the corner while desperately stuffing bundles of cash in unmarked envelopes and shoving them into the hands of wealthy donors.

Hal seems to be taking those penis pill offers to enlarge his 'equipment' in entirely the wrong spirit. He keeps going off on irrelevant tangents about sick people and the sad state of the economy when he's supposed to be imagining how thrilled his partner(s) will be.

If you're feeling more Deeply Intellectual than that, read this, instead.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:48 AM