26 September 2008

Hey there sweet stuff.

New Salvo in Splenda Skirmish

As you might guess by the name of this blog, I am skeptical of things that taste sweet, but are not sugar. Fake sugars are a good way to trick your body, but I'm really not sure that tricking your body is a good thing. Now there is more information out on the newest artificial sweetener that you knew would be out at some point.

The latest salvo comes from Duke University researchers, who have published a study that says Splenda — the grainy white crystals in the little yellow packets — contributes to obesity, destroys “good” intestinal bacteria and prevents prescription drugs from being absorbed.

Gosh, its bad for you. Splenda looks like sugar to your tastebuds, but enzymes that use the glucose and fructose are more discerning than that. All the regular hydrogens have been stripped off and replaced with chlorine atoms.

But wait a second, there is more to this article and this study than just the bad things about Splenda.

But the Duke study was financed by the Sugar Association, the lobbying group for the natural-sugar industry and a chief competitor to and legal adversary of Splenda.
One of the lead researchers of the study, Dr. Mohamed B. Abou-Donia, said Monday that the Sugar Association had “no input” into the study’s findings and conclusions.

Ah, hahaha. You knew it had to be something like that.

But really, I've never seen the point of artificial sweeteners. If you're trying to cut down on your intake of sugar, suck it up and stop eating it. Eating these things that taste sweet get your body ready to deal with sugar, but when nothing resembling sugar comes, things are bound to get a little (if not a lot) off kilter. If something tastes good that usually means that its okay to eat, but that only worked before society got around to inventing things that taste good and will kill you; lead acetate for one, ethylene glycol for two. Our bodies have evolved to eat glucose and fructose, and intentionally misleading our bodies on something this fundamental to our biology, just doesn't seem like a good idea.

25 September 2008

What happens on Wall Street doesn't stay on Wall Street

Withdrawals hit Bank of East Asia

I'll admit that I don't really understand economics, and global economics even less. But I know what a run on a bank looks like.

The Bank of East Asia has denied rumours that it is in financial trouble, after thousands of customers queued to withdraw their savings.

And I can tell that this is not unrelated to the things that are happening in New York.

It also said that its total outstanding exposure to US bankrupt bank Lehman Brothers was HK$422.8m (£29m), and to US insurer AIG was HK$49.9m (£3.5m).

I'm feeling real optimistic about life right now....

24 September 2008

Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.

Study Finds Major Shift in Abortion Demographics

Abortion. THE topic for lighting any social situation on fire. Want to kill a great party? Want to drive a wedge between a new couple? Let's talk about where life starts, the role of the government in utero and watch it all burn.

But many times this is pure speculation; many people who can talk about abortion till they are blue in the face have never had one, I'd guess that fully half will never even get the chance (I'm looking at you gentlemen). So, who is having abortions?

During that period [1974-2004], the proportion of abortions obtained by women younger than 20 dropped steadily, falling from 33 percent in 1974 to 17 percent in 2004. For those younger than 18, it fell from 15 percent of all abortions in 1974 to 6 percent in 2004. At the same time, the proportion of abortions obtained by women in their 20s increased from 50 percent to 57 percent, and the share done for women age 30 and older rose from 18 percent to 27 percent.

Younger women are having fewer abortions, while older women are having more. Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, 35 years ago. The group of women that make up the 30 and older has gone from people born 30 years before Roe v. Wade, to people born right around the same time. The women that were 18 in 1973 were late Baby Boomers; women that were 18 in 2004 were, well, me and my friends.

So what hypothesis are being tossed about to explain these changes?

"A lot of policymakers are stuck 30 years back when most women getting abortions are teenagers and college students, and that isn't so much the case these days." (Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute.)
"Birth control is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies," said Laurie Rubiner, vice president for public policy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Unfortunately there's a large number of uninsured people in this country, and if you are uninsured you are less likely to have access to affordable health care, including affordable birth control."
Michael J. New, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama who works with the Family Research Council, attributed the drop in teenage pregnancies to a combination of factors, including increased contraceptive use, more teenagers delaying sex and state laws requiring parental consent.

"The states with the most active pro-life laws have seen the biggest abortion declines," he said.

[Remember, Family Research Council is more aptly called the Patriarchy Research Council]

While I think the first two hypothesis are much smarter than the last one, I think there might be a generational argument to be made. My parents are late Baby Boomers, and the social pressures about sex and abortion have changed drastically from when my mother was my age. I've long believed that the more society represses sex, the less healthy it becomes. The harder you push the line that sex is only for marriage the more pre- and extra-marital sex there is and the more risky it will be.

So as sex has become something its okay to talk about, the safer and healthier it has become. Safer and healthier sex leads to fewer pregnancies and fewer pregnancies lead to fewer abortions. Despite the push of the Patriarchy groups and the Bush administration for Abstinence Only Education, there is more knowledge out there about safe sex than ever before. The youngins can hop on the internet and learn more about sex than their sex-ed teachers could tell them about.

In conclusion, read Dan Savage's column. It is the best sex advice out there paired with the most hilarious kinks out there. 

23 September 2008

Register to Vote!

Minn. voters nearing record registration number

Voter registration in Minnesota is on pace to hit an all-time high.
This is a very, very good thing. Getting people registered is very important. In most states, if you don't take the time to register, you can't vote on election day.

But we Minnesotans are lucky, we can also register at the polls. And let me tell you, the Republican's HATE this. The two sides can pretty much be summed up like this; Democrats don't want anyone who should vote to be turned away, Republicans don't want anyone who shouldn't be allowed to vote to do so. Democrats err on the side of more people voting, Republicans err on the side of less people voting. The people that show up and register at the polls tend to be the working class, the poor, the people that are too busy to register before election day. These people tend to vote for Democrats. Now you see why Republicans don't like this whole, register at the poles thing.

Nearly 3.13 million people are already registered to vote, just shy of the number who were on the rolls after the election in 2004. That's out of a possible 3.7 million eligible voters.

In 2004 Minnesota had 2.8 million people vote in the presidential election. That worked out to about 77% of those eligible. I hope we can get at least that many on election day this time round.

Check to make sure you're registered here.

03 September 2008

Babies Everywhere!

So by now we've all heard thatSarah Palin's daughter Bristol is pregnant. This was revealed to quash rumors that Mrs. Palin's youngest son was actually her grandson by Bristol.

The republicans have been trumpeting about how brave the senior Palin was in choosing to continue the pregnancy upon learning that the fetus had Trisomy 21, Downs syndrome. Now they're going on about how great and brave it is for underage Bristol Palin to not terminate her pregnancy.

But hey wait a minute, if Sarah Palin had her way her brave choice would never have existed. There would be no choice to make, brave or otherwise. And I wonder how much of an informed choice young Bristol was really offered.

Before being picked for the VP slot on the Republican ticket, Palin was going to talk at a lunchon here in St. Paul with Phylis Schlafly. Basically two hard working career women talking about how much women need to be at home taking care of the children. As we chanted out side the Xcel Center on Monday, "This is what hypocrisy looks like."

01 September 2008

I'm just sunburnt

I was in downtown St. Paul today, but I stayed along the official protest route and saw nothing outside the regular bored looking riot cops standing on the side walk. I didn't get maced, sprayed, detained, arrested or had sound grenades lobbed at me.

However, many of the riot cops have been busy running around after the RNC Welcoming Committee and others (Funk the War was one I heard of). There were some windows downtown were smashed. And the pepper spray, sound grenades and smoke bombs have been flung. Some journalists have been arrested along with the demonstrators.

But there are still arrests being made, on Sheppard (the road we take to work in the morning) Harriet Island (where protesters are supposed to be able to camp) and on the bridges over to said Island.

I've stopped noticing the sound of helicopters, and noticing only when there aren't helicopters overhead.

Other bloggers will cover this better than me, and if you want to keep on top of it as only the internet can let you, head over to Coldsnap Legal Collective's twitter stream. But I'll tell you what its like at work tomorrow. I already know that some of the windows I walk past every day were busted in.