A Little Chat
Staring out the window on a cloudy, windy,
but warm winter day, I wondered for awhile what I should write about for
this week's rant. Suddenly I decided to have a little chat about
whatever crosses my mind. It may be a little discontinuous, but then so
A number of topics crossed my mind: the recent study which shows that a
low-fat diet isn't much better for you than a regular-fat diet (if there
is such a thing); a study that showed calcium plus vitamin D supplements
don't do much more than increase your chances of getting kidney stones;
and the totally unrelated stuff like the new Internet money-making
schemes where somewhere along the way we're all going to get charged to
send email and probably, further down the line, to search the Internet.
There's so many things happening right now on the Internet and off of
it, it's hard to narrow down a topic for discussion. So, why not chat a
little bit about them all?
To Your Health
"The largest study ever to ask whether a
low-fat diet reduces the risk of getting cancer or heart disease has
found that the diet has no effect.
The $415 million federal study involved
nearly 49,000 women ages 50 to 79 who were followed for eight years. In
the end, those assigned to a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast
cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who ate
whatever they pleased, researchers are reporting today. ..." (Reference
I guess I was a little surprised that those
who eat Twinkies and scarf down Big Macs are not too much worse off than
those who eat kudzu salads and been sprouts sprinkled with lemon juice.
This proves, once again, there is no justice in the world. How'd you
like to be an M.D. and have dozens of patients on tasteless, bland,
low-fat, high-fiber diets - and then have them all read that study that
shows that those who eat a high-fat diet have about the same risks for
the same nasty health problems? I guess if nothing else, you'll be nice
and skinny on a diet of kudzu and lemon juice - and there's no study
(yet) that proves being fat is better for you or at least no worse for
you than being skinny. However, there might be one next week - I'll be
watching for that one. I guess what my grandmother told me, years ago,
is the best advice: "Everything in moderation". Heck, why don't the
medical madrigals sing that mantra? They could have learned a lot from
my grandmother, who, as far as I know, never finished high school.
Bone Shattering News
"....The latest news about calcium and
vitamin D may not look so encouraging, but most experts say the
take-home message is the same: Keep taking your pills.
The biggest study ever to examine the value of the supplements suggests
they convey only limited protection against broken bones. They failed to
protect against most fractures in the mostly low-risk women, but seemed
to offer some benefit against hip breaks among women over 60 and those
who took the pills most faithfully...."(Reference
The study that shows that taking calcium supplements with vitamin D to
help reduce osteoporosis doesn't work very well, if at all. It does
increase your chance of getting kidney stones though. So, if you like
those, take lots of calcium I guess. Milk has lots of calcium and
vitamin D (in the U.S.A.). Milk used to be good for you. It's probably
not good for you anymore.
But it is very good with Oreo cookies which are part of a high-fat
regimen, not recommended by most doctors. Yet.
Then, due to extreme curiosity,
I went about finding out how much time doctors spend in medical school
learning about nutrition. And, you know what? They don't spend much time
at all leaning about nutrition and the role it plays in human health. I
think, if I have navigated and digested (no pun intended, I assure you) the medical school curricula
correctly, it seems medical students take one or two courses in
nutrition as it is related to health - and that's it. It doesn't seem
like much if nutrition plays as big of role in our health as we're being
told by the food people. And, I am absolutely certain med students don't
serve any internship in institutional kitchens. So, if there is a doctor
reading this, please enlighten me if I'm incorrect.
Of course the
way it's been going - what's fact today is fiction tomorrow. I guess
they can't really teach nutrition since nobody can agree what kind of
"nutrition" is best for us. I guess that's why we see health nuts who
die at age 40 and wicked old geezers who smoke, drink, and ah! yes, eat
Oreos too, live to be 100. I think my
grandmother's advice was timeless - "Everything in moderation".
One more thing: I guess it's good to eat oatmeal. Or so the oatmeal box
says. I remember ten or so years ago, Quaker Oatmeal boxes contained a
huge statement that eating oatmeal 'may' prevent certain types of
cancer. Now, I see that's been proved wrong. Now their boxes proclaim
that eating oatmeal lowers cholesterol. This time they left the word
"may" off their label. That means it reduces cholesterol for certain.
Right? We'll see. I won't be surprised to see some big study come along
soon that proves eating oatmeal isn't any better than eating cherry pie.
If you like oatmeal eat it. If you like cherry pie eat it. I am very
skeptical of food labeling these days. I have to admit I've never seen a
cherry pie claim that eating it will do anything for you other than
taste good. Especially with milk.
And, now, let's see if we can create a
smooth transition here into things Internet.
The Internet Gone Crazy
Email Stamps And Premium Searches
Let's go back to 1996 - ten years ago. I was a mere fledgling groping in
the dark and learning the Internet by trial and error. There were few
"commercial" sites on the Web. The only one I can remember from back
then was "Amazon.com". Of course, all that has changed now. Nearly gone
now is the spirit of sharing and giving that existed ten years ago. I
supposed it had to come to this. Those who gave and gave and gave found
that people took and took and took. I suppose that is human nature. If
someone wants to give something that someone else wants, they're most
likely going to take it. Can you imagine if Wal-Mart starting giving
things away. People would be trampling each other to get stuff. At least
on the Internet you don't worry about getting trampled. Don't read
anything into this: I don't believe that Wal-Mart is going to start
giving away all their merchandise free anytime soon - there's a much
chance of that as the Internet returning to its innocent days of ten
Now I'm seeing signs that the Internet is about to take
commercialization to a new level. AOL's recent announcement that they're
going to charge a fee to legitimate companies to "ensure" delivery of
email to its customers, is a sign of the times. And, it is the first
step in a not-so-long journey to the stuff that once was only an urban
legend - email stamps or charging everyone to send email. Even if it's
less than a penny per email, it takes away the freedom and the right we
have all enjoyed of sending emails back and forth to our families and
friends. Sometimes, if our families and friends live very far away,
email might be our main and even only contact we have with them. Email
"stamps" might start off very inexpensive - something like 100 stamps
for $1.00. But it doesn't take a fortune teller where it will go from
there. In a year or two it will be 50 stamps for $1.00. Then 10 stamps
for $1.00. And so on. One thing for sure: When companies see they can
make a buck from something the price will continue to rise. Once it gets
started there will be no stopping it. It will become the email snowball
we've all feared.
Even worse things are happening. Yesterday I read an article which
discussed how some Internet companies want to charge search engines and
the general public for accessing web sites that are hosted on their
servers - and which use their bandwidth. They claim that Yahoo, Google,
MSN and the other search engines rip off free content whenever these
search engines gather content from sites that happen to be on their
servers. This uses up bandwidth, they claim, and bandwidth costs money.
This is ridiculous, or course. Search engines provide a service that few
of us could get along without. If certain Web hosts deny access to any
and all search engines - we all suffer because our results will be
restricted. And search engines use up bandwidth - tons of it and this
bandwidth is not paid for by the sites these search engines gather
information from, but by the search engines that gather the information.
And if search engines are charged to access certain domains then either
those domains won't be accessed at all and our search results will
therefore be incomplete; or the search engines will be coerced into
paying the ransom asked and we'll be charged to use a "premium"
version MSN, Google, or Yahoo if we want "all" the search results.
There's simply no end to mindless schemes conjured up by corporate
executives, who probably know more about toothpaste than they do about the
Internet - or those who use it. One thing they certainly know about is the bottom line. And
of course, anything that promises huge and steady streams of money sounds good to them on paper.
And if they can sell their ideas to eager investors, it's a done deal.
But, in reality, such an Internet would be a mess. A mess that would
restrict our freedom to access information on the Internet. Once you restrict access to information on the Internet,
the Internet and all who use it suffer. The beauty of the Internet is
unrestricted access to information - whatever it may be. To charge
search engines for accessing information on certain web sites, in a
bone-headed attempt to ramp-up revenues, is a mistake.
hope intellect prevails over greed for once.