Religion and Public life: points, counter points, UK and the US

Workout notes
walking (4 miles) plus swimming. Walking: 13:35, 12:13, 11:20, 9:56 (just straight walking) Ok; better than last week (47:03 this time)
Swimming: I was a bit tired going into the pool. 2200 yards total:
250 fist/free, 250 (free/back), 500 (25 fly, 75 free), 500 (side/free), 700 pyramid (4 x 25, 4 x 50, 4 x 100; 5 sec. rest between each rep).
In the latter set: a faster young woman was swimming in the next lane alternating back and free. I’d catch her on her back phase and get ahead. Then she’d gain on me in the free phase and then get ahead of me on the next flip turn…then I’d catch her again (I was doing free only).

It is sometimes fun to have someone to chase. I also put my side stroke against the other woman’s (Ms. Brown suit) free style.

Economics Robert Reich says “WTF” to President Obama’s proposed corporate tax cut. I have to admit that I don’t see the reason for it either.

David Brooks: is the USA really now the “talent society”? He claims that our new, more individualistic society has lead to people maximizing their own talents, hence the new wide spread between the talented and the untalented (wealthy and non-wealthy). He proposes some sort of new “old school” type society structure for those at the bottom.

My take: “huh?” Since when is getting lucky on the stock market “talent”? (note: if you have 100,000 chimps picking stocks, you’ll probably have a few be successful on statistical grounds). This is just another failed attempt for a Republican to justify the wide spread we are seeing between the super wealthy and the rest of us; in fact economic policy had a great deal to do with it.

Religion, society and politics
In the UK, as in the US, Islam is not popular with conservatives…until…..they get elected and start decrying the “increasing secularism” in society. (psst: I TOLD you that Muslims would make GREAT Republicans! Yes…I know this is the UK…)

The silver lining is that this might make some say “oh….a secular society protects me from having religious influences that I DO NOT LIKE influencing me”. The ironic thing is that a secular society might be even MORE beneficial to “people of faith” than it is to atheists. After all, a Christian prayer at a public event is just meaningless babble to me; however it can be blasphemy to those of a different religion.

Rick Santorum: point/counter point
Note that, up to now, I had no “Rick Santorum” category. I really felt that he was a kook who didn’t deserve one. Well, many candidates are gone and he is still standing (how, I’ll never know….why Willard “Mitt” Romney hasn’t put him away by now just baffles me).

So what about him? No, I still say he has little chance at the Republican nomination.
But he really gets under the skin of some liberal women; I am friends with some on facebook and I’ve read hysterical shrieks “oooh, he has declared WAR on women and …..” “oh, he is going to try to make birth control illegal” (false), etc.

Now let me be clear: I think that Mr. Santorum is a clueless clown who is completely out of touch with reality. Reason: he takes the religious BS seriously (and goes beyond his own church in some cases; e. g. evolution). His stands on WHAT INSURANCE SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO COVER is absurd for many reasons. And I’ll be blunt: I’d vote for myself over him (I wouldn’t say the same for Mr. Romney).

So we have point/counter point about Mr. Santorum:

Maureen Dowd talks about Mr. Santorum’s hang up with human sexuality and says that it is best to view him as a “mullah wannabe”.

Kathleen Parker says that you can understand his positions when you understand how seriously he takes his religion.

As far as Ms. Parker’s case: perhaps, but this guy takes religion seriously too:


February 22, 2012 Posted by | economy, politics, racewalking, religion, republicans, rick santorum, superstition, swimming, walking | Leave a comment

Are you ready for some volleyball???

I love it when they wear these…

February 22, 2012 Posted by | big butts, spandex | 10 Comments

Santorum, Romney and Blooming Plants

Rick Santorum: I still don’t take him seriously. But make no mistake about it: his ideas are dangerous. Really. His superstitious beliefs can cause real harm to those who are alive in the here and now. The article I linked to is one in which a woman describes how an amniocentesis actually saved the life of a baby.

Note: Rick Santorum doesn’t want to outlaw the procedure but rather allow for it to not be covered because:

The government shouldn’t make health care providers fully cover prenatal tests like amniocentesis, which can determine the possibility of Down syndrome or other fetal problems, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said Sunday.

Santorum, an outspoken opponent of abortion rights, told the CBS News program “Face the Nation” on Sunday that amniocentesis “more often than not” results in abortion.

“People have the right to do it, but to have the government force people to provide it free, to me, is a bit loaded,” he said.

That is not how we should make public policy on health care.

So, Mr. Santorum is both crazy and broke….and still Willard “Mitt” Romney can’t put him away. Yes, Mr. Romney is far from dead; he is STILL the favorite to win the nomination and won’t be that easy to beat in the general, given all of the “automatic” states the Republicans have.

And it doesn’t help that Mr. Romney occasionally lets the truth slip out:

Mitt Romney said Tuesday that cutting spending slows growth in the economy — a rhetorical slip more akin to an argument a Democrat might make than a Republican.

Speaking in Shelby Township, MI, the former Massachusetts governor took a question about the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission empaneled by President Obama to address the nation’s deficit and debt issues. In his response, he said that addressing taxes and spending issues are essential.

“If you just cut, if all you’re thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy,” he said in part of his response. “So you have to, at the same time, create pro-growth tax policies.”

That sort of comment was sure to raise the eyebrows of fiscal conservatives in the GOP, who have long preached a message of fiscal restraint as a path to economic growth.

Sad isn’t it; they guy actually says something factual and he gets pounded for it by his own party. 🙂

Science and woo..
Plants…30,000 years old….

A plant that last flowered when woolly mammoths roamed the plains is back in bloom.

Biologists have resurrected a 30,000-year-old plant, cultivating it from fruit tissue recovered from frozen sediment in Siberia. The plant is by far the oldest to be brought back from the dead: the previous record holder was a sacred lotus, dating back about 1200 years.

The late David Gilichinsky from the Soil Cryology Laboratory in Moscow, Russia, and colleagues recovered the fruits of the ice age flowering plant (Silene stenophylla) from a fossilised squirrel burrow in frozen sediments near the Kolyma river in north-east Siberia. Radiocarbon dating of the fruit suggests the squirrel stashed it around 31,800 years ago, just before the ice rolled in.

By applying growth hormones to the fruit tissue, Gilichinsky and his colleagues managed to kick-start cell division and ultimately produce a viable flowering plant.

Modern day S. stenophylla looks similar to the resurrected plant, but has larger seeds and fewer buds. Modern plants also grow roots more rapidly. Studying these and other differences will reveal how the plant has evolved since the last ice age.

(source article)

Ok, this isn’t so much woo, but “gluten free” appears to be the latest nutritional fad. Yes, I know; celiac is a real disease that causes real harm; my wife has it. But she was diagnosed by a doctor who used an appropriate test. This fad is a money maker though:

Far more people think they have what has come to be called “nonceliac gluten sensitivity,” Corazza says. Sufferers, in whom celiac disease has been ruled out, complain of a variety of symptoms after consuming gluten, including bloating, abdominal discomfort, flatulence and headache. The problem, Corazza and Dr. Antonio Di Sabatino write in an opinion piece in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is that no one is quite sure what gluten sensitivity is.

“Considerable debate about nonceliac gluten sensitivity has recently surfaced on the Internet, with a sharp increase in forums, patients or patient groups, manufacturers, and physicians advocating a gluten-free diet,” the two write. “Claims seem to increase daily, with no adequate scientific support to back them up.”

Gluten-free diets have become “trendy, fashionable,” says Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore, who coauthored an article about gluten-related disorders Feb. 14 in BioMed Central. “I would say the occasional consumers are the ones who have no reason to be on a gluten-free diet.”

Gluten-free products can be several times more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts. Part of the gluten-free fad comes from the misperception that the foods are healthier or more diet-friendly. The main health concern is that people cut out all gluten as a way to self-diagnose a sensitivity or celiac disease. But, Corazza notes, it’s impossible to diagnose celiac disease in someone who’s gone gluten-free before being evaluated.

February 22, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, biology, economy, health, Mitt Romney, politics, science, superstition | Leave a comment