Monday, May 07, 2007

Books I've Read

Just read:

Interesting and informative, this book is a worthwhile read. Bowden's style is engaging while he educates his readers about some of the healthiest foods for humans and why they're so darn good for us. Surprisingly, ice cream and popcorn didn't make the cut. But blueberries, brocoli, wild salmon, oats and over one hundred forty other foods did.

He's repetitive in places, but that works well if you want to read sections out of sequence. He's managed to cut through the politically correct nutritional nonsense and to condense research into manageable bits for the both newcomers and more knowlegeable souls alike. He rightfully refused to jump on the "eat more grains" bandwagon, and he discussed fairly the *soy controversy raging in nutrition circles. He refuses to cower before fatty foods as though they were satanic; he argues for the use of good fats in the diet, thank goodness. And of course there were many, many nutritional superstars among the fruits and the vegetables. Bowden also discusses dairy, meat, poultry, beans and legumes, herb and spices, sweeteners, and beverages. This is a great book to have on hand when your family says, "Why do I have to eat this?"

*When I put add more soy into my diet on my to-do list, I probably should have mentioned the controversy. Many nutrition experts are horrified by the increased use of soy in our diets. They argue that we should eat soy only as those who've been doing it for hundreds of years do---that is, only when fermented as in the case of tempeh, miso, or natto. That was what I meant when I said I wanted to add soy to my daily diet. I did try but discovered that even miso which I love does not agree with my system, giving me indigestion.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

More Equal

President Bush has promised to veto the “hate crimes” bill (H.R. 1592) that was passed in Congress last week.

For the record, I personally am against crime. All crime. I believe when someone commits an act of violence against another person or destroys another’s property that they are motivated by hate. Vandalism, muggings, beatings, rape, and murder clearly are not acts of love. All around the country these acts are against the law and carry penalties, including the death penalty sometimes for murder.

So why is it more wrong to hurt certain classes of people than others? Isn’t it just wrong to hurt people? Period?

Obviously, some groups of people are more favored than others in the eyes of certain members of Congress. For example, some Republicans had tried to include additional classes of citizens—children, members of the military, the elderly, the homeless—but their attempts were shot down. So sexual identity gets a pass, but children and the elderly don’t. I guess all people are equal, but some are more equal than others. (On the other hand, maybe women's rights groups can push for all rapes to be prosecuted doubly as both rape and hate crime since rape could be argued to demonstrate misogyny. Of course, male on male rape wouldn't fall under that category....)

Of concern is the fact that liberals refused to include any amendment that would protect religious expression. Laws such as this one have been used to stop free discourse which apparently some people believe to be criminal. We can foresee the results as there are similar laws to H.R. 1592 in England, Sweden, and Canada which have led to prosecution of Christians for hate crimes for stating a Biblical view of homosexuality, for example. Yes, it can happen here. So much for free speech and the First Amendment to the Constitution. Whatever happened to “I may disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”?

In closing, here is the text of the statement from the White House on H.R. 1592:

"The Administration favors strong criminal penalties for violent crime, including crime based on personal characteristics, such as race, color, religion, or national origin. However, the Administration believes that H.R. 1592 is unnecessary and constitutionally questionable. If H.R. 1592 were presented to the President, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill."

"State and local criminal laws already provide criminal penalties for the violence addressed by the new Federal crime defined in section 7 of H.R. 1592, and many of these laws carry stricter penalties (including mandatory minimums and the death penalty) than the proposed language in H.R. 1592. State and local law enforcement agencies and courts have the capability to enforce those penalties and are doing so effectively. There has been no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement, and doing so is inconsistent with the proper allocation of criminal enforcement responsibilities between the different levels of government. In addition, almost every State in the country can actively prosecute hate crimes under the State's own hate crimes law."

"H.R. 1592 prohibits willfully causing or attempting to cause bodily injury to any person based upon the victim's race, color, religion, or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The Administration notes that the bill would leave other classes (such as the elderly, members of the military, police officers, and victims of prior crimes) without similar special status. The Administration believes that all violent crimes are unacceptable, regardless of the victims, and should be punished firmly."

"Moreover, the bill's proposed section 249(a)(1) of title 18 of the U.S. Code raises constitutional concerns. Federalization of criminal law concerning the violence prohibited by the bill would be constitutional only if done in the implementation of a power granted to the Federal government, such as the power to protect Federal personnel, to regulate interstate commerce, or to enforce equal protection of the laws. Section 249(a)(1) is not by its terms limited to the exercise of such a power, and it is not at all clear that sufficient factual or legal grounds exist to uphold this provision of H.R. 1592."
-source lifesite

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Live Long with Faith

Life expectancy at age 20 was significantly related to church attendance. Those who attend church more than once a week were expected to live another 62.9 years, while those never attend church were expected to live another 55.3 years. Life expectancy was 61.9 years for those attending church once a week and 59.7 for those attending less than once a week.
While intellectuals continue to belittle religious folks as rubes, time and again demographic studies have indicated that those who hope in God reap unexpected health benefits.

Although running off to church a couple times a week, hating every minute of it, would probably not yield the same results, deep faith may influence many aspects of life and lifestyle, including a more positive outlook on circumstances and a sense of purpose.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Fueling Slavery

Though practiced throughout history, slavery in the modern era was intricately linked to our love of sugar. The wholesale enslavement and exportation of Africans to grow sugar in the Caribbean fed the newly found European sweet tooth. In 1700, the inhabitants of the British Empire, for example, consumed an average of four pounds of sugar a year, and many Africans paid with their freedom and their lives to feed this Western craving for sweets. (source)

Fast forward to the post-modern age. Today, the average American consumes one hundred pounds of sugar each year, so there is pressure on markets to produce sugar cheaply and in large quantities. However, hunger for energy alternatives such as ethanol is fueling an increase in slavery in Brazil.

Anywhere between 25,000 and 200,000 Brazilians are what are known as “debt
slaves.” Their employers keep them in perpetual bondage by charging them “exorbitant rates for the food, water, clothes and the tools they work with.”
Because their wages are so low, the workers can never pay off the “debt” and, thus, can never leave.

They work “from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week.” They are housed in “straw shacks.” They are given one meal a day, which they are often forced to eat standing up. They receive no medical attention and have no “access to toilets or good hygiene.” Many of them die from malaria.

If they decide they have had enough of the exploitation, the slave masters, known as gatos, threaten them with death. They are not bluffing. The gatos employ militias to intimidate and even kill human-rights workers—imagine what they would do to runaway slaves.

As in the rest of the world, Brazilian slavery is made possible because people live in such poverty. Like the victims of sexual trafficking, desperate people are lured by false promises only to be trapped.
-breakpoint (click the link for addition news stories)

If ethanol is leading to such oppression, I'd rather stick with oil for now. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt America's waistline any to cut back on sugar consumption either.

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Which Globe?

Further news on global warming.....

The globe has warmed by .5 degrees celsius since the 70s. And that globe has a name. We call it Mars.

Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.
-Times Online

Now, what do Earth and Mars have in common that could account for similar trends in global warming? Perhaps the sun at the center of our solar system?

h/t: QandO via Jeff the Baptist

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