So I’ve been reading The Hundred Year Lie: How Food and Medicine are Destroying Your Health, by Randall Fitzgerald. It’s a polemic; there are no footnotes or endnotes and while the prose is not really alarmist, it is fairly repetitive and dumbed down. The central theme is that synthetic chemicals found in food and especially in drugs are responsible, not by themselves but in concert with other natural and synthetic chemicals that we consume, for epidemics of once-rare diseases like autism, type 2 diabetes and various cancers.
The author, an investigative reporter, claims to be a libertarian who is concerned to bring us these observations because synthetic chemicals are so ubiquitous that there’s no such thing as choosing to avoid them. That’s a good beginning to a persuasive argument, but he unfortunately follows it up with unscientific anecdotes and assertions of statistical correlations between some chemical in a food or drug item and some disorder in humans consuming it. The only apparantly solid scientific conclusions presented in the book (still without direct references) are the scary “body burden” of 700-some synthetic chemicals in the average citizen of western countries, and eyebrow-raising increases in the rates of things like birth defects, autism, childhood allergies and diseases like asthma, and nervous disorders in the past few decades. If nothing else, I feel vindicated in my policy of avoiding all drugs unless absolutely necessary. Just don’t tell me this shit is in beer!
When I was a kid, my dad told me the following story about the machine shop at the engineering firm where he worked. They moved some of their large custom equipment around with a forklift, using a special adapter that dad designed. It worked as intended, until one day one of the knuckledraggers hooked a cable to it sideways to try to move some heavy object sitting near the forklift (or something like that–I forget the details.) The adapter snapped clean in half, but since that was not the way it was meant to be used, the company didn’t spend money redesigning it. They built another one exactly the same, except that dad had a sign put on it saying “under no circumstances side-load this tool”. But, he said with a rueful smile, that was only for people who can read.
I just spent ten minutes setting my tire pressures properly, ironically because some other knuckledraggers (it’s a term of endearment, I promise!) CAN read. Everytime I take my car for an oil change, they read the plate inside the door and set the tire pressures to what it says. The only problem is that I replaced the stock tires awhile ago with ones that happen to take much higher pressures. It says so right on the tire–max press 51 psi. But like clockwork, it always comes back from the dealer at 36fr/34rr, and then I have to pump them up to 48fr/46rr. I know they think they’re doing me a free service, but I guess I’m going to have to start specifically asking them not to. Sigh.
Just want to toss this out: Micheal Totten’s hilarious attempt at storm-chasing as he drives his new-to-him Acura RSX home to OR. He is far more likely to be washed away by rain than kidnapped by terrorists. If I ever get to meet the guy, let’s hope photography and beer are involved!
How exactly did a week go by since my last post? Feels like I put it up yesterday. Anyway, since very little worth babbling about is going on with me lately, let’s step into the way-back machine and visit a time when a lot was happening. This post and maybe the next few will feature excerpts from my personal journal on my first trip to Europe, the summer after I graduated high school in 1993. I’m copying them word for word and as close to the original formatting as HTML allows; you are fairly warned that the language and thoughts are those of an 18-year-old, and accordingly lack 30-something social graces. Enjoy!
Day 1, Lancaster, Pa. Franklin + Marshall College
forgotten items list
Today we had 2 largely useless meetings, I discovered that Mr. Schoonover is an asshole and he acts like a faggot, we practiced for an insane, point-of-diminishing returns amount of time (almost 10 hrs.) and we were locked out of our dorm by some pencil-neck security man. The guy that came to unlock the door was straight from central casting. he could have been on C.O.P.S. He got out of his jeep and said “You guys locked out here?” duh! How many pennsylvanians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Bugosh quotable quote #1:
“let’s start with the trumpets. -Oh, that’s a french horn.”
Bugosh, whose first name was (I think) David, was the head band director. The program was to put together a band made up of high school students from around the eastern seaboard, and go around western Europe seeing the sights and playing concerts. An interesting concept, and the actual experience …well, read on:
19.20 (7:20 p.m.) , Koblenz, Germany : July 1
The drive from Brussels was long and almost uneventful. We seem to have had bad directions and got lost. Also, the air conditioner on the bus is incapable of beating the heat with the sun shining in through the windows. We arrived at the hotel an hour late, hot, sweaty, irritable and tired. As am I. time to sleep.
And that quick-and-dirty graf wrapped up my entry into Europe. It was a marathon trek from Lancaster to NYC, to Brussels and immediately (I think–we did tour Brussels at some point but that may have been on the way back) to Germany before we took a real breather. Tomorrow, northern Germany!
Seriously, I can’t leave you people alone for three days. Cory Lidle crashes into an apartment building, Kim Jong Il attempts to explode a nuke, Rep. Foley doesn’t understand that a pageboy is just a haircut, and now Mark Warner isn’t going to run for President in ’08.
In the meantime I’ve been reading up on Civil War blockade runners and how to get your pilot’s license. As usual, I want to do about a week’s worth of stuff everyday, but I’m sure I’ll pick one soon. Probably flying, since the market for blockade running has been pretty dead the last 145 years.
And finally I am contemplating camping this weekend, even though the overnight low is predicted to be in the mid 30s. That’s why they make 30-degree sleeping bags, right? Or at least that’s why they make nice hot campfires …and booze!
1.) Lady at Home Depot who looked directly at the piece of dryer vent, then pushed her cart directly into it.
2.) Ethnic family standing in the middle of the service road outside Home Depot, completing their crossing only after cars screeched to a halt to avoid flattening them. This would have made a fantastic picture from my POV, with an SUV braking at a cocked angle while all the people stood around right in the center of the lane in front of it.
3.) Guy in REI parking lot who like
many most all SUV drivers left ten feet open on his right while crowding me so much on his left that we both had to come to a complete stop before safely passing each other.
4.) Two different people who stopped way short of traffic at a stoplight, then crept slowly forward a bit at a time. Don’t ever do this. Not ever.
5.) Lady in the left lane of Rt 50 going about 42mph, but clearly enchanted with whatever the person on the other end of her cell convo just said.
6.) Unseen idiot at Seven Corners who could not decide which way they were going and brought all three lanes of the 7/50/whatever-the-other-one-is intersection to a traffic jam worthy of Wednesday afternoon rush hour.
7.) Moron on Rt 7 who unaccountably waited nearly 2 minutes for a green light before making a right turn. No, there isn’t a sign.
Not only all in one day, but all within a couple hours, and I know I’m forgetting a couple. Anyone have a mountaintop for sale?