Previous studies have linked flavonols to improved cardiovascular health markers, but this is the first study to look at the effect of chocolate consumption on blood pressure.
"To our knowledge, this is the first observational study that found that habitual cocoa intake was inversely associated with blood pressure in cross-sectional analysis and with cardiovascular and all-cause mortality in prospective analysis," wrote lead author Brian Buijsse from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, and Wageningen University, the Netherlands.
Further studies are warranted - not only to include other demographics besides elderly men, but to control for other chemicals in cocoa that may effect cardiovascular health:
Several studies have shown that flavonol consumption increased blood vessel opening (vasodilation), and improve endothelial function (the cells that line the blood vessels).
It is this latter effect that the scientists propose as the mechanism by which the flavonols reduce CVD risk and all-cause mortality.
However, because the scientists did not take blood samples and measure serum levels of different nutrients, it was not possible to identify the exact effect of the cocoa.
"Because cocoa is a rich source of antioxidants, it may also be due to other diseases that are linked to oxidative stress. This merits further investigation," wrote Buijsse.
The second item deserves special notice (emphasis added):
CHÁVEZ IS A HEAVY PRIVATIZER. The left has denounced the right for wanting to privatize the state. Hugo Chávez has undertaken the biggest privatization to date in Latin America by expanding the number of military reservists from 90,000 to one million. These reservists are not answerable to the army's hierarchy. In effect, Chávez has created a private militia that serves him directly. Let us not forget that a number of killings by pro-Chávez snipers have taken place over the years (most notably the murder of seventeen protesters in April 2002).
The activity Vargas describes is not an example of privatization. If this "private" force is directly answerable to Chavez, it is private in name only.
That a huge chunk of Venezuela's armed forces are answerable directly to Chavez and none of the normal military channels is indeed cause for concern. I'm not that the sentiment is shared by a Left that yawns when the Castro government guns down people who try to escape the Cuban totalitarian hellhole.
Chavez is organizing a "reserve" which is supposedly retired army officers that will direct civilian volunteers as a "body" that will help the army in time of trouble, be it invasion from the Empire or some natural disaster. These people get training on their free time and actually get paid something. Not much but enough to attract the lower classes which this way become even more dependent of government handouts.
In fact it is the nucleus of a militia since Chavez does not trust the army and what he really needs is something with which he will be able to establish some form of repression in the near future.
On one hand there is Ironweed, which appeals to left-leaning film buffs with shorts and features having a liberal bent. A recent offering explored Iraqis' perceptions of the U.S. presence in that country.
On the other side of the "aisle," the Conservative DVD Club – an arm of Eagle Publishing – offers films by conservative filmmakers, including a popular biopic of columnist Ann Coulter.
"To serve increasingly fragmented interests, subscription clubs now cater to ideologies and specialties," according to the Christian Science Monitor.
I don't intend on joining any of them - not just because I don't buy many DVDs, but because I suspect that there are many selections that don't fit snugly into either camp. Take Star Trek: The Next Generation, for instance. On the one hand, the show casts the Federation's socialist economic system in a favorable light (without offering an explanation as to how it works) while painting ugly caricatures of capitalism. On the other hand, Star Fleet Academy is a learning institution based entirely on merit, with no room for affirmative action or grading curves.
Book clubs have been targeting ideological niches for a long time. Christian book stores are everywhere. LibertyTree, catering to libertarian-leaning sorts, has been in business for over 15 years. And then there's the daddy of all book clubs, the Book-of-the-Month Club. BOMC doesn't advertise an ideological niche, but its selections are overwhelmingly blue-state. I've been a member twice in my life - trust me.
Ahead of the Defender of the Motherland Day, celebrated in Russia on Feb. 23, Moscow streets have been decorated with patriotic festive banners containing a picture of the famous American battleship the Missouri, local media reported.
The article has an image of one of the posters. Check it out.
Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, announced today that he would back the sale of a British company that manages U.S. seaports to a state-owned firm in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) only if President George Bush will order the National Security Agency (NSA) to secretly wiretap phone calls and emails involving Dubai Ports World.
The popular talk show host reminded the audience that this is satire. A just precaution, in a day and age when the line between fiction and real life is often blurred - or downright nonexistent.
Sen. Charles Schumer [D-NY] has a thought about the Dubai Ports controversy: why not give the job to Halliburton! "I'd take [them] over U.A.E. at this point, if I had to take a choice right now," he reportedly told Fox News Channel's John Gibson.
His comments came in spite of a longtime enmity for the contractor, whose alleged no-bid contracts for work in both Iraq and the Katrina recovery have reaped enormous profits for the corporation.
However, he said, if Halliburton "can do the best job and they get the contract on the merits, I'd pat them on the back."
Douglas Feiden of the New York Daily News has an article on the outrageous salaries of members of the International Longshoremen's Association. The tales of union bosses with multiple posts and thus multiple salaries are amazing, but what really interests me is how overpaid the rank-and-file is:
A longshoreman with full seniority averages $80,479 a year; overtime can ratchet it up to $136,000.
I normally don't care how much companies pay their employees - except when wage levels are due to uncompetitive and coercive practices. If we had truly competitive labor markets, modern labor unions wouldn't exist, at least not in their current form. ILA would be forced to revamp its salary grades to match the market rate. You could appear on a network TV episode without being forced to join the Screen Actors Guild.
Speaking of longshoremen...the other day Rush Limbaugh joked about giving control of the ports back to the Mafia, in the wake of the current hoopla over a United Arab Emirates company operating a number of loading docks at several major ports. What kind of difference would that make?
[John] Bowers has been president of the ILA since 1987, having previously served for 24 years as executive vice president of the union, its second highest position. He was charged with racketeering and named as an associate of the Gambino organized crime family in a July 2005 civil complaint filed by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn. Whatever objections the politicians have to the UAE and its leadership - and we are not, by any stretch, fans of the emirates - they're no more serious than the charges in the racketeering suit brought against the ILA and Mr. Bowers by the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Roslynn Mauskopf.
This time I'm Simon, but River is a close second. How the Operative ranked so high I'll never know - I don't even own a sword.
You scored as Simon Tam. The Doctor. You have a gift for healing that goes beyond education. You took an oath to do no harm, even when your patients have tried to kill you. You are out of place where you are, being used to refined society. However, if you take that stick out of your arse you should be fine.
He tells US style magazine Complex, "You go to any studio, the (only) black guy you are going to see is the guy at the gate. In Hollywood, there is not one African-American who is an executive that has gatekeeper position that could greenlight a picture.
"They'll make a movie with DENZEL (WASHINGTON) and JAMIE (FOXX)and EDDIE (MURPHY), but only because they can make money off them."
He has the answer to the problem and doesn't even know it. Movie studios exist to entertain and to make money in the process. They will hire Denzel Washington because he has demonstrated a talent for entertaining moviegoers. Studio execs pick films to produce. Therefore, if blacks or anybody else wish to aspire to become studio executives, they must demonstrate a talent for picking film projects that will be successful.
Spike Lee himself offers one lesson on successful filmmaking. Check out the financial data on his most recent box-office hit, The Original Kings of Comedy (2000): $3M budget, $38M US gross. If you're targeting a niche market, do a low-budget film.
For examples of niche films not adhering to this standard, refer to Aeon Flux ($55M budget, $25.8M US gross), Syriana ($50M budget, $48.2M US gross), Munich ($75M budget, $42.9M US gross), and The Island ($122M budget, $35.7M US gross).
Update: Oops, forgot to include the link to the original article. Link is now in place.
Actually, I have a little bit in common with each of the crew:
Mal Owning a spaceship is my dream job. Wash Non-athletic. In person I tend to be laid back. Inara Can be diplomatic when I want to be. Zoe Loyal - will leave no one behind (see "War Stories"). Kaylee Wants to find the good in people. Shepherd Book Spiritually-minded. Tend to be even-tempered... Jayne ...except when my gorram computer is misbehaving. Simon I share his prowess at wooing women. River Geeky intellectual. Weird sense of humor. Sees perspectives that most people miss.
Update: Just for fun, I'll list some things I dont' have in common with the characters, other than the obvious (space travel, criminal connections, armed combat experience, gender in 4 cases).
Mal I don't blame God when the good guys lose a war. Wash Don't like Hawaiian shirts. Inara I know the real meaning of "companion" (explanation in this post under the Companionship heading). Zoe Non-athletic. Kaylee Not as hypersensitive as she is. And if I were a spaceship engineer, I'd find a way to install showers on the ship. Shepherd Book He's a pacifist who occasionally finds himself in combat. I'm a noncombatant who subscribes to just war theory. Jayne More cultured, less belligerent. Simon No medical training. Not prone to punching commanding officers. River Firmer grasp on reality. Amygdala is fully intact.
One section that stands out is the section starting on Page 8, which notes the role that federally-backed insurance plays in bad real estate decisions. People build in disaster-prone areas because they know the government will bail them out every time their property gets whacked. The next page has some handy tips for community planning on barrier islands, the most vulnerable of hurricane targets. There's also a link to a PDF file with suggestions on how to make beach houses more hurricane-resistant.
Maybe houses in the worst of flood-prone areas, coastal or not, should borrow the standard house-on-stilts beach house design. The ground floor can include garage, workroom, laundry room, and front porch. In times of aquatic peril - assuming flood waters of 8 feet or under - very few belongings will have to be moved upstairs out of Mother Nature's warpath.
Got a call from some outfit conducting a poll on the Wright Amendment, the federal law that restricts flights from Dallas Love Field to certain states, granting DFW International Airport a monopoly on the majority of air travel to and from Dallas/Fort Worth.
A lot of the questions were of the sort one might find on a neutral poll, such as how one feels about the area's two major airlines conducting major lobbying campaigns (isn't it okay for everybody?) or how much one trusts the information coming out of Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, or several local organizations involved in the War on the Wright Amendment (answerable only by kneejerk bigots or by those intricately attentive to the groups in question).
The loaded questions come in this form: based on the facts reported by unnamed experts - that repealing the Wright Amendment will have such-and-such negative impact on the community (lost jobs, lost commerce, decreased property values in the Love Field area) - is your position on the Wright Amendment affected?
A neutral poll would ask the responder if he or she agrees with the various claims of post-Wright-Amendment apocalyptic doom. But gauging public opinion is not on this polling organization's agenda.
The statement on push polling by the National Council on Public Polls is worth reading. It's stated in context with campaigns for elected office, but the principles apply to all other uses of push polling.
You scored as Moya (Farscape). You are surrounded by muppets. But that is okay because they are your friends and have shown many times that they can be trusted. Now if only you could stop being bothered about wormholes.
Adventures In Bad Architecture - Communist Edition
In response to a recent remark about Commie-like architecture, a reader informs me that worse architecture can be found in Norway, citing the Norwegian Labor Party headquarters as an example. In color it resembles a shabby housing project. In black and white the aura changes radically; one half expects to see Winston Smith walk through its doors.
So what does real Commie architecture look like? That's a mighty tall order, but here are some examples:
Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest, Romania. The third largest building in the world. A combination of blandness and excessive ornamentation. The lower half of the building has a slight tinge of a drab yellow that clashes with the white marble in the upper half. Another image of the palace is here..
Falowiec residential complex, Gdansk, Poland. This English-language site describes the building; built in the early 1970s, it is over a kilometer long, the longest in Europe. Individually each unit is not unattractive, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. That "wave" structure is disconcerting. Such a long traffic must have created a lot of traffic nightmares.
A series of apartment buildings in Bucharest. Featured in Wikipedia's article on Communist-era Romania's Systematization program. Not a continuous building like the Falowiec monstrosity, but follows the same pattern of Borg-like standardization for civilian housing
Yu-kyung Hotel, Pyongyang, North Korea. The linked site notes that coincidentally the hotel has the same shape and same number of rooms as the Ministry of Truth in 1984. One might also perceive that it resembles a warhead.
Oslo 1952 What is that blocky diagram behind the Olympic rings? It looks like one of those dreary buildings that only the Communists would build. [Update: A reader informs me that it is indeed a building - Oslo's City Hall, which looks a lot better in a color photograph.]
Sapporo 1972 The snowflake was drawn by the same people who design shabby wallpaper. [Update: Come to think of it, the snowflake looks like one of those bathtub non-slip appliques. Maybe a future Winter Olympics will use this one for a logo template.]
Munich 1972 You are getting sleepy...you are getting verrry sleepy...
Seoul 1988 Featuring the layout of the track for the 100-meter Spiral Dash.
Albertville 1992 - I think that thing on the skis is supposed to be a flame, but it looks more like a giant drop of blood.
Barcelona 1992 A nine-year-old with Microsoft Paint could have designed that one.
The dissimilarity outweighs the similarity. BK's rendition of an ice cream scoop is more conical in shape, has differently-shaped upward strokes, has the rightmost stroke physically attached to the rest of the diagram, and has no scribbling similar to the portion of the Allah script resembling two accent marks and the numbers 9 and 3.
Now, compare the following:
In this case, there's more similarity than dissimilarity.
Nobody Better Draw A Cartoon Of Mohammad Carousing With Beauty Pageant Contestants
The Mohammed cartoon protests have spread to Nigeria (emphasis added):
In Niamey, the capital of Niger, the largest protest march against the cartoons in Africa so far was witnessed today, when an estimated 50 to 100,000 Muslims took to the streets. The peaceful demonstration was headed by most of the country's most prominent Muslim leaders, who "strongly condemned" what they called "provocations against Islam."
The large demonstration in Niamey, which had been authorised by the Nigerien government, seemed well organised and represented a rather non-radical expression of viewpoints. Only a small group of protesters left the main march, heading for the Niamey parliament while shouting anti-Western slogans. Lawmakers were urged to break diplomatic ties with Denmark and other countries where the caricatures have been published.
The situation could become more uncontrolled in northern Nigeria as protests today are spreading in this religiously polarised region. Christian leaders in Nigeria wisely have strongly denounced the Mohammed cartoons, showing their solidarity with the dominant Muslim society in northern Nigeria. Many local Christians have also participated in the demonstrations organised today.
The most radicalised protests were organised today in the northern Nigerian state of Kano, where around 40 representatives of the state assembly participated in the burning of Danish flags and promised to further a boycott of Danish products. The Kano parliament was now to cancel several multi-million dollar contract with Danish companies, it was announced. Radical anti-Western slogans were shouted.
What could account for the Christian response in that country? Turn the Wayback Machine to November 21, 2002:
One of the more famous episodes of the history of rock-and -roll is the Rolling Stones' 1967 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. As Wikipedia states:
[T]hey were forced to change the chorus of "Let's Spend the Night Together" to an incomprehensible mumble, or by some accounts "Let's Spend Some Time Together," rather than accept censorship
The Stones agreed to self-censorship even though they didn't like it; in video footage Mick Jagger can be seen rolling his eyes while singing the altered lyrics.
Ed Sullivan (and/or the CBS censors) were right. The show was family entertainment; like any other business the show owed its primary allegiance to the customer base, not to contract labor.
Now history repeats itself, with a few wrinkles. Initially, someone gave NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy the wrong info on what happened - that the Rolling Stones agreed to self-censorship in advance. After that claim was refuted by Stones spokesindividual Fran Curtis, McCarthy went to the Powers That Be and got a clarification:
"We had worked it out with the Stones earlier in the week that at those particular moments, 'Start Me Up,' the one word, and 'Rough Justice,' the one word, we were going to turn down the mike at those times, and the Stones were aware of it, and they were fine with it."
As the Ed Sullivan footage illustrates, going along with a plan and liking it are two different things.
Globalization of labor, production, and ideas and an industrial economy based on subsidized fossil fuels have set the stage for economic and social instability, continued outsourcing of jobs, and marginalized quality of life. We can create a new economy based on environmentally benign industries and energy.
Impose a "resource tax" on pollution, development, and fossil fuel to pay for development of renewable energy and environmental restoration. Promoting sustainable localized energy industries (solar, wind, hydro, tidal, biofuels) will provide reliable, clean homegrown energy, exportable technologies, and bring energy jobs home. Funding widespread environmental restoration will expand existing industries (farming, recreation, tourism, and commercial fisheries) that are dependent on ecological services and will foster research, design and technology industries.
Working families will benefit from a stable economy and millions of new economy jobs. These solutions are inherently local Â? they create decentralized resources and require skilled local labor, forever. They pay for themselves and provide capital for entrepreneurs to develop industries and exportable technologies. And they foster community and collaboration essential to surviving in a global economy.
This proposal is rife with problems:
Skidmore does not demonstrate that today's oil industry hampers growth of farming, recreation, tourism, and commercial fisheries.
Presumably, alternate fuels would create job growth because all the jobs are domestic. The energy industry involves two processes: production and refining. Oil is produced abroad and at home, and most if not all is refined in the US. Under solar, wind, hydro, and tidal energy, humans are not involved in the production process; overseas producers would lose jobs not to Americans but to forces of nature: the sun, weather, gravity (pulling the water into the hydroelectric plumbing), and tides, respectively.
Of the alternate energy sources listed, all but one are what I call "supplemental" sources - they are impractical for primary sources of power. Wind and solar require vast amounts of acreage. Tidal is still experimental. Hydro may be practical for certain parts of the country, but for one small detail...
...Pleistocene Liberation Organization environmentalists will never stand for more hydro plants. (They'll object to blanketing the Mojave with solar cells, too.)
The primary (sole?) biofuel - ethanol - is impractical.
Skidmore mentions highly experimental tidal energy, but doesn't include highly experimental geothermal - which, according to this article, is another environmentalist no-no.
Note the protectionist hypocrisy in the statement about "exportable technologies" - it's okay for people to outsource their technological R&D to us, but it's intolerable for the US to outsource some oil well jobs to Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
Skidmore hawks something as wildly speculative as tidal energy, but does not aim his crystal ball toward yet-undiscovered technologies that may allow oil to burn more cleanly and more efficiently, or known technologies that allow nuclear waste recycling.
If alternate energies are so profitable, then investors will be jumping over themselves to enter those industries, with or without a bleeding tax on the petro competition. That ain't happening, so what does that tell us?
Update: A commenter to this January post at Early Riser notes irregularities surrounding the contest, prompting at least one lawsuit.
Civil rights activist and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond delivered a blistering partisan speech at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina last night, equating the Republican Party with the Nazi Party and characterizing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor, Colin Powell, as "tokens."
"The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side," he charged.
Calling President Bush a liar, Bond told the audience at the historically black institution that this White House's lies are more serious than the lies of his predecessor's because Clinton's lies didn't kill people.
He also compared Bush's judicial nominations to the Taliban.
We've got a serious intelligence failure on the "Mark Davis Show" on WBAP - somehow Davis got the impression that Laurence Simon's Ask the Prophet series is among the controversial Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons. Don't know his source for the strips - apparently he has the whole series.
A female caller questioned the story - "Ask the Prophet" is not among the images she's been seeing in the news, and she thinks some of the cartoons are a bit too America-savvy to be of Danish origin. Davis now doubts the Jyllands-Posten theory of the origins of this purely Texas creation.
No plans for fighting the War on Spending Taxpayer Money Like Drunken Teenagers On Spring Break In Cancun With The Parents' Credit cards. Bad.
Promises that Americans will benefit from impractical technological advances (ethanol production requires way too much energy to produce a net benefit). Kaine promotes vaguely-defined "alternative fuels," meaning relatively miniscule power sources such as wind and solar, and possibly yet-unproven geothermal. And to be funded by "excess" oil profits, of course. Hey, I'll promote a proven alternate fuel: nuclear. We come up with a standardized nuclear plant design to reduce engineering costs. We build mixed oxide (MOX) plants that run on recycled nuclear waste, so that our waste stockpiles are vastly reduced. We change the laws so that building nuke plants in the USA is freakin' possible. Who's with me?
Neither Bush nor Kaine will address a critical root problem surrounding the illegal immigration crisis - the significant gap in economic freedom between the US and Mexico. Our foreign policy must nudge Mexico toward vast economic reforms - it will benefit both nations.
Bush delivers a solid blow against the critics of the surveillance program, specifying who is being surveiled, who has done it in the past, and who has supported its legality: "I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous Presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have, and federal courts have approved the use of that authority."
A slap to Bill Clinton: "If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again. (Applause.)"
One of his finest moments was this: "The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon -- and that must come to an end. (Applause.) The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. (Applause.) America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats."
Bush connects the dots between lawsuit abuse and medical costs.
We can forgive him for saying a kind word about Sandra Day O'Connor. At least she was with the dissenting side in Kelo.
The Dems picked a guy with worse oratory skills than mine to deliver their response. Or maybe that was part of Karl Rove's secret plan.
On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh summarized Kaine's vision as "Soup Line America" (no link). Citizen Kaine spouts more of the same old statist solutions, such as expanding access to pre-kindergarten (Why does pre-kindergarten even exist? My generation got good grades without it) and expanding health coverage (without saying who'd pay for it).
Kaine says health care costs are "skyrocketing," but doesn't offer a way to curb that price inflation.
Kaine rips into Bush for faulty intelligence, but doesn't offer a way to improve intelligence gathering.
If Kaine wants to attack the culture of "partisanship and cronyism," he might want to have a word with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.