Wednesday Open Thread #46

Mar 312009

Here’s yet another Open Thread for your thoughts:

For anyone in the fiery grip of a random question, comment, joke, or link they’d like to share with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. (Please refrain from posting personal attacks, pornographic material, and commercial solicitations.)

Twitter, Again

Mar 312009


I’ve found Twitter to be an excellent source of blog-worthy links, noteworthy political news, and useful tidbits on my various interests. (If only I had more time to blog what I find!) Plus, I get to keep up with some good folks in a less-demanding format than e-mail.

Of course, I know that everyone is captivated by my random thoughts. Okay, maybe not. Nonetheless, you can follow me here.

Fellow tweeters are welcome to post their follow links in the comments.

Hugel OpEd on National Service

Mar 302009

The March 30, 2009 edition of the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News has published the following excellent OpEd by OAC student Lucy Hugel on the national service bill. Here’s the introduction:

National service bill makes ‘volunteerism’ compulsory
by Lucy Hugel

Thursday, the U.S. Senate sent back to the House an amended bill to “expand and improve opportunities for service,” legislation modeled on President Obama’s campaign promise to establish “universal voluntary citizen service.”

If passed, this act will produce an explosion in the number of service programs. Unfortunately, the goal of this legislation is profoundly un-American–to instill an ethic of servitude in every citizen.

How could expanding community service programs have such a radical effect in the land of liberty? To understand this, one must see how the plan aims to smuggle in compulsory service…

Read the whole thing here.

Congratulations on getting published, Lucy! And thank you for defending a person’s right to his or her own life.

Hsieh LTE in NY Times

Mar 302009

The March 30, 2009 New York Times has printed my latest LTE on health care. It’s the 6th one down:

Re “A Health Plan for All and the Concerns It Raises”:

To the Editor:

It would be just as wrong for the government to compete with private insurers to provide health insurance as it would be for the government to compete with G.M. or Ford to build taxpayer-subsidized “public automobiles.”

The unfair competition from a public plan would destroy the private health insurance industry. The inevitable result would be the rationing and other horrors of a Canadian-style single-payer system, which most Americans neither wish nor deserve.

Paul Hsieh
Sedalia, Colo., March 25, 2009

The writer, a medical doctor, is a co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine.

It was written in response to their March 25, 2009 story, “A Health Plan for All and the Concerns It Raises“.

Interesting Lessons About Urban Combat

Mar 292009

StrategyPage has a recent post summarizing some interesting lessons about urban combat from the US experience in Iraq and the Israeli experience in Gaza.

Here are a few excerpts:

…Tanks are a necessity, unless you want to take very high infantry losses (5-7 of your troops for every enemy soldier). The ratio of infantry to armor vehicles should vary from 30 to 100 infantrymen per tank.

…The most useful armored vehicle is the D-9 armored bulldozer. This beast is large enough, and powerful enough, to plow through buildings, or to shake buildings to set off booby traps or force civilians (and sometimes fighters) to clear out. You’ve got to protect the D-9 with infantry, as it is not invulnerable to anti-tank weapons.

…Deal with the underground. The sewers will be used by the enemy to move around. You will have to blow up portions of the sewer system. It’s not worth the casualties to go down and fight in the sewers.

…Snipers are the biggest problem, followed by machine-guns and booby traps. The troops have to learn to stay under cover at all times. And if they smoke at night, don’t do it anywhere that an enemy sniper can get a shot at you. Most snipers will be in the upper stories of buildings (but not the roofs where your helicopters can get at them.) A smart foe will booby trap the ground floor entrance and arrange for another escape route, so that if you send troops into the building, the sniper will escape and your guys will run into the trip wires and explosives. The antidote for this is to take the high ground first and use your own snipers to take out the enemy snipers. This is where night operations are essential. The sniper cannot hit what he can’t see, and enemy snipers will have a lot fewer clear shots at night. When you do encounter a sniper, take him out with your own snipers, or tank fire, or take the building he’s in down with a smart bomb.

…Flashlights are more valuable than you think. Make sure all the troops have them, and a good supply of fresh batteries.

…If the battle goes on for more than a few days, sleep becomes a weapon. Trained and disciplined troops are better able to get sufficient sleep to keep the battle going. These troops take turns fighting, and then sleeping. The undisciplined and poorly led enemy does not, or cannot, do this, and the enemy fighters become slower and sloppier because of the fatigue. This is an ancient technique. The Romans, two thousand years ago, trained their troops to engage in close combat for 10-15 minutes, then to fall back and rest, while another line of swordsmen advanced and went at the enemy (who got worn down quickly because they fought until killed, without being relieved by fresh fighters.)

Recap #37

Mar 292009

Yikes, I posted nothing new on Politics without God, the blog of the Coalition for Secular Government this week.

This week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine:

And this week on FA/RM, the blog of Free Agriculture – Restore Markets:

Sunday Open Thread #45

Mar 282009

Here’s yet another Open Thread for your thoughts:

For anyone in the fiery grip of a random question, comment, joke, or link they’d like to share with NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. (Please refrain from posting personal attacks, pornographic material, and commercial solicitations.)

The Meaning of an Hour in the Dark

Mar 282009

Here’s an excellent letter by OActivist Roberto Sarrionandia published in the UK’s Daily Telegraph from on tonight’s “Earth Hour”:

Turning the lights out is an attack on civilisation

SIR — This Saturday evening, for “Earth Hour”, we are encouraged to turn off our lights as a symbolic sacrifice for nature.

This is a terrifying concept. The electric light has brought safety to our streets, and enabled us to work and enjoy ourselves long into the night. It is, in many ways, the symbol of civilisation.

One hour in the dark may be enjoyable if it is temporary, but existence without electricity would bring death en masse.

When we declare our opposition to the electric light bulb, we declare our opposition to man.

Roberto Sarrionandia
Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire

For more from Roberto Sarrionandia, see his blog, Tito Says. For more on “Earth Hour,” see Keith Lockitch’s op-ed on its real meaning.

Most of all, don’t forget to leave on your lights in honor of Edison Hour tonight!

Red Meat Kills?

Mar 282009

If you want to know the scoop on the widely-reported study supposedly showing that red meat kills us, I recommend that you read:

(1) Dr. Eades sober analysis of various studies on the health effects of meat-eating

(2) Richard Nikoley’s well-deserved rant against this very poor observational study

Then you can enjoy your next steak without an unnecessary serving of guilt and worry.

More on Vitamin D

Mar 282009

Yesterday, Monica of Spark a Synapse got some surprising results from her Vitamin D test. She writes:

My vitamin D level was only 30 ng/mL. That is after over a year of supplementing with cod liver oil, which has 500 IU per 1/2 tsp. I take around 2 tsp. at a time, or 2000 IU. This was also after several sessions of sitting out in the sun this spring at high altitude, 8400 feet. Granted, I have not taken the cod liver oil religiously every day. However, my diet is very good (raw milk, eggs, meat, occasional liver [very high in vitamin D!!]) and although food is not a sufficient source of vitamin D, I probably get around 400IU daily in my food, the government’s recommended level.

As Monica observes, while 30 ng/mL isn’t awful, something more like 60 to 80 ng/mL seem to be required for robust health. Happily, my vitamin D test showed 88 ng/mL. Notably, that was after a few months of serious supplementation with cod liver oil and D tablets — 3,000 IU to 5,000 IU per day, in addition to some time outside in the sun.

Speaking of Vitamin D, the Mayo Clinic recently published an interesting report on the correlation between chronic pain and low vitamin D levels:

Mayo Clinic research shows a correlation between inadequate vitamin D levels and the amount of narcotic medication taken by patients who have chronic pain. This correlation is an important finding as researchers discover new ways to treat chronic pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States. These patients often end up taking narcotic-type pain medication such as morphine, fentanyl or oxycodone.

This study found that patients who required narcotic pain medication, and who also had inadequate levels of vitamin D, were taking much higher doses of pain medication — nearly twice as much — as those who had adequate levels. Similarly, these patients self-reported worse physical functioning and worse overall health perception. In addition, a correlation was noted between increasing body mass index (a measure of obesity) and decreasing levels of vitamin D. Study results were published in a recent edition of Pain Medicine.

That result isn’t terribly surprising: doctors have long known about the importance of vitamin D to musculoskeletal health. (The extreme form of vitamin D deficiency is rickets.) Moreover, a 2003 study showed that 93 percent of subjects with non-specific musculoskeletal pain were vitamin D deficient. (That report doesn’t say what constituted Vitamin D deficiency for the purpose of the study, but I imagine that it was less than 20 ng/mL, at least. Some people in the study had zero vitamin D!)

Please do note that both of these reports concern observational studies: they show correlation, not causation. However, the connection between chronic pain and vitamin D is clearly an issue worthy of further scientific study.

For more general information on Vitamin D, see this post from Stephan, the Vitamin D Council, and Grassroots Health.

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