Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Who Needs Lead Paint When We Have High Fructose Corn Syrup?

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is used in just about every food product you can imagine. It's in your jelly, your soda; it's even in the bread you buy. Most pancake syrup is nothing but corn syrup. Take a look around your kitchen cupboards. Read the ingredients. Make a list of how many things you have in your kitchen that don't have HFCS (and don't be "relieved" if you find things that have Aspartame instead; that's a whole different evil).

Now ask yourself, would you feed your children Mercury? No? Guess again. This was in the Washington Post today:

Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.

HFCS has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80 percent more HFCS than average.

"Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply," said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies.

Read the entire article here:
Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

It's one thing if we decide to kill ourselves by choice; it's quite another when we get unsolicited assistance.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Fine Line Between Execution & Promotion

Because of the fact that it seems you can’t buy anything anymore that isn’t “Made in China”, and because the life expectancy of most of those same products seems to be a couple of weeks at best, I normally don’t have a lot of good things to say about China. But I will say this: when the Chinese dispense punishment, they don’t mess around.

I heard this morning that two Chinese men who have been found guilty in the melamine tainted milk fiasco that killed six children have been sentenced to death. If history is any precedent, these two men will probably be dead within the next day or two, as the Chinese don’t seem to subscribe to the necessity of putting condemned prisoners on a “death row” for 10 or 15 years.

I have no idea whether these two men are actually guilty or not, and it can be debated all day long whether or not execution is the correct punishment even if they are, but that’s not the point. The point is, if you are caught doing something wrong in China, you are punished for it. Quickly and severely.

It seems to me, though, that the only thing these two men really did wrong was commit their crime in China and not the United States. If they had done it here, not only would they not have been sentenced to death, they probably would been promoted to be in charge of the FDA and USDA respectively.

All they would have to do is issue an “apology” somewhat like this one: “We are sorry that our past transgressions are now an issue. They were careless mistakes. They were avoidable mistakes. But they were unintentional. We should have been more careful."

Oh, okay. Since you put it that way!

Of course I’m not really serious. Who in their right mind would think that people who have obviously & admittedly broken the law regarding food safety should be put in charge of the very organizations that govern the same?

For that matter, who in their right mind would think that someone who has obviously & admittedly broken the law by not paying his taxes for years – whether through incompetence or criminal intent – should be placed in charge of the United States Treasury?

Apparently, we would: Geithner apologizes for not paying taxes

Friday, January 16, 2009

Death of the Big Box?

Today Circuit City, which filed for bankruptcy in November, announced that it will be liquidating all of it’s U.S. stores; well over 500 in number. In doing so, it joins the ranks of a growing number of other “big box” retailers (Goody’s Family Clothing, KB Toys, Mervyns LLC, Linens ‘N Things, etc.,) that have crashed & burned in recent months – no doubt with more on the way – as well as others who have been shutting down dozens and even hundreds of individual locations (Macy’s, Starbucks, etc.,).

Taken into consideration along with the failures of the huge banks and investment houses that we have seen in the past 12 months, it makes me wonder if the days of all of these monolithic type corporations are coming to an end.

Apparently, bigger isn’t always better. Especially when company profits must be constantly bled off to fund investors who make money by adding absolutely no value whatsoever.

As I have downsized my life over the past few years, it has gotten better, easier to manage, and more productive, all of which have increased my own quality of life. Who’s to say that a downsizing of companies won’t do the same thing? The folks who have habitually lived at the top of these corporate pyramids won’t like that, of course, but I’ve never considered it my civic duty to support the lifestyles of the rich & famous.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get back that sense of community that we lost when everything went “big”? Yes, all of those “big” stores offered so much variety and made things so much easier for us, but in embracing those mega-stores & mega-malls, we seem to have lost touch with one another. We traded our relationships for stuff. I would suggest that it wasn’t worth it.

Maybe the trend is now moving back to what it was before; when we had a much larger number of smaller, independent stores that all mixed together to make every community unique in it’s own way.

Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's REAL Alright

Several years ago I wrote an article entitled “In Dependence”, which, along with “Countdown to 1984”, formed the basis for the book “What So Proudly We Hailed”. Most people probably thought – and still would think – that the articles were alarmist in nature. Maybe. Maybe not.

I invite you to read both of them if you have the time (they are fairly long) and then consider the article that I found just this morning from the Washington Times entitled Real ID mandate resisted in Virginia - of which some selected quotes are listed below - before you make up your mind whether I am an "alarmist".

If you’re intrigued, I of course invite you to explore the possibilities even further by reading “What So Proudly We Hailed”. The novel is fiction; the below is not:

The program was born out of the commission that looked into the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It recommended that the U.S. improve its system of issuing identification documents because the hijackers had numerous licenses and state IDs. Congress approved legislation requiring states to issue licenses and ID cards that meet certain security standards.

The new IDs will be required for federal purposes, such as boarding an airplane or entering a federal building. Other federal identification, including passports and military IDs, also will be accepted.

"The bottom line is that citizens of states who do not move forward with the Real ID mandate from Congress will see real consequences," said Laura Keehner, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of the program.

States had until May 2008 to implement Real ID, but the department extended that until Dec. 31, 2009. If they need more time and have met certain benchmarks, states can request an extension until May 11, 2011.