Level-headed commentary on trans fat

Now there’s a craze to remove trans fats from food, but will that make us healthier. This balanced piece from USA Today claims the answer is yes, but only marginally. And they’re right. A Krispy Kreme doughnut without transfat is only a little better than a Krispy Kreme doughnut as it stands now, mainly because trans fats are typically replaced with blends of oils containing saturated fats. Either way, switching from fried foods to foods with mono- or poly-unsaturated fats, healthy proteins, and high fresh vegetable content is the only way to make a quantum leap to a healthier diet.

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I wonder how many grams of transfat this has

The Krispy Kreme cheeseburger. Here’s a reference on how thoroughly I’m disgusted. However, I bet the Apostropher would be delighted, given his taste in food.

[Update] I’m a year behind. See the comments. At least I have a picture 😉

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Poetic law

Not all laws have to be dry prose.

(via tendentious)

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More cool things from Google

You can search through open source code. You can even specify license:gpl or whatever.

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And the practice deepens

The great thing about doing a yoga workshop is that my practice tends to deepen a lot. A lot of times it’s like reading a book I’ve read thousands of times and finding something new.

This past weekend was just like that. It was the second weekend of the Anusara immersion I’ve been attending. We learned quite a bit about lower body anatomy, including a bit about what can go wonky in standing poses. The great part about this talk on anatomy is that during the talk we actually did some poses and felt the muscles and bones (and their effects) that were discussed. It also kept us moving during what could have been a soreness-inducing period.

Also covered was how to start and maintain a home practice, including how to sequence poses. Our homework assignment, of course, is to create a few sequences and try them. A home practice also affords the opportunity to take things learned in class and experiment with them in many different ways. Because face it, you don’t have the opportunity to experiment that much with pelvis tilt in triangle pose during class.

Finally, we covered setting the foundation of poses using, you got it, lower body anatomy.

If you’ve been going to yoga classes for a couple of years, I highly recommend trying a workshop on something that you would like to explore further (e.g. backbends or hip openers) and then work on it through a home practice. After all, it will probably be the only way I will ever get kapotasana (unless I want to go for an Astanga second series class).

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Polio vaccine: safety

So I have (slowly) been reading through Neil Miller’s book Vaccines: Are the Really Safe and Effective? As you can probably guess from the title and circumstances, the book is very skeptical about the utility of vaccines. In the last examination of this book, I tackled Miller’s assertion that the polio vaccine was not responsible for the decline of polio in the US. As a contrast, I presented the CDC(Centers for Disease Control) publication called the pink book, which gives the CDC’s version of the story. Both sources used different data for number of polio cases, and it was hard to reconcile them. A trip to the library to look at International Mortality Statistics is warranted, as soon as this full time employee and father of two can escape to the library for a little while. There is another worthwhile discussion, which I’m deferring, in the book which involves the redefinition of polio and the misclassification of other diseases with similar symptoms, such as aseptic meningitis.

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Sanskrit for bird of paradise pose

Once upon a time, I thought the bird of paradise pose was baddha urdhva parsvakonasana. However, I either was wrong or was getting the pose name from another system. In Anusara (and Iyengar?) it is Svarga Dvidasana. (Or something close to that.)

The polio vaccine: friend or foe?

Before I launch into this entry, let me add the following disclaimer:

You and you alone are responsible for your health. This entry, and any other medical advice you read or get (even from doctors) with an honest, open-minded skepticism. Get the facts, and evaluate the evidence. Even doctors, and Ph.D. biostatisticians, make mistakes.

This entry continues a review of the book Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective? by Neil Miller (2002 edition). I’ve already covered the tone of this book, and you might be able to guess it by its mere existence. It claims that vaccines, in general, are not safe and effective. This is a huge claim, but what makes this book different from other things you might read (especially forum postings and blog entries) is that the book is well-referenced. You can go to the source, at least in theory.

First, Miller tackles the polio vaccine. This vaccine is pointed to as one of the major successes of vaccination programs, taking polio from epidemic status to nonexistent. We even have the apocryphal story of Jonas Salk, leader of the research team that developed the first, inactivated virus vaccine, which was reported said to his celebrating team after their first victory with the vaccine in a trial: “We have to do this again.”

More below the fold.

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Ch-ch-changes

We have a new party in charge of the houses, and many have anticipated that this would bring changes in the way we develop and market drugs. And the potential is there. Eye on FDA summarizes new legislation.

Quick thoughts:

  • Kennedy-Enzi – yes, the FDA needs greater authority for post-marketing enforcement, and I’m glad to see it on the table. The “other things” might be worrisome, given this is a Kennedy bill.
  • Fair Prescription Drug Competition Act – not sure what impact this is going to have, except having a company have the 180 day exclusivity for a generic of its own branded product. That could be a big deal, keeping an effective 6 month patent extension. Other competing bills may make this one obsolete.
  • Stem Cell Research – I’m glad this one is passing.
  • Drug Expiration Date Study – I’m glad this one is passing. I don’t like the way we calculate shelf life right now. It’s what I call “voodoo statistics.”
  • Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act – drug reimportation. I think this one will make people feel good if it passes, but in the long run I’m not sure how much of an impact this one is going to make.
  • Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act – probably a good thing for seniors. What remains to be seen is whether this is going to squeeze drug R&D. Looks like superfluous drug rep positions are going to be cut first, so maybe not.
  • RU-486 Suspension and Review Act – RU kidding me? A bunch of politics taking precedence over science and ethics is par for the course for this administration. I doubt it’s going to pass, either.
  • Counterfeit Drug Prevention Act – counterfeiting is getting to be a problem. Dirty labs, herbal medicines cut with non-quality-assured drugs, and similar issues are getting worse. Hopefully this will help some.
  • Preserving Medicare for All – gotta read this one first before commenting.
  • Generics First Act – you mean this is not already the case?
  • Cloned Food Labeling Act – Probably not a bad idea.

I gotta new drug

Life has been hard recently, what with some increased effort at work, sick kids, and other family efforts. However, I feel great, because I found a new drug. Now life is peachy, and I don’t suffer any more from dysphoric social attention consumption deficit anxiety disorder.

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