Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tim Russert a victim of misinformation

The endless hand-wringing and speculating are making me sick. That Tim Russert died unexpectedly of a heart attack was not, or shouldn’t have been, unexpected. Tim Russert had both diabetes and heart disease. Tim Russert was on blood pressure and cholesterol medications. Tim Russert was following his doctor’s admonition to exercise daily and watch his diet. None of these prescriptions did a damn bit of good prolonging his life. Obviously.

So who’s to blame? The doctors were merely dispensing good sound advice as taught to them in their Big Pharma Schools of Profit-Generation, more commonly referred to as medical school. The pharmacists were fulfilling their oath of office to faithfully lick, stick, count and pour — never question. Big Pharma was doing what they always do, maximizing profit with egregious disregard for truth. But, as per usual, the most culpable is the whore known as the FDA.

If anyone would’ve told Tim Russert to keep his homocysteine levels low — homocysteine causes plaque to stick to artery walls and can lead to hardening of the arteries — by loading up on B vitamins, he’d likely be here today. If health professionals would have told him that the number one cause of sudden-death heart attacks is magnesium deficiency — magnesium prevents blood clots, dilates blood vessels, and can stop the development of dangerous heart irregularities — and that cardiac patients and diabetics are most at risk for this, he’d likely be here today. If his doctor would’ve told him that regular vigorous exercise produces free radicals that attack healthy cells and often does more harm than good, he’d likely be here today. What’s most likely is that Tim Russert never heard any of this.

The drug companies know these things. But, of course, there is no money to be made by enlightening the public about vitamins and minerals. No treadmills to be sold by championing an evening walk or morning yoga. We can’t expect soulless bureaucrats to do the right thing. But we can expect our government to safeguard our interests.

The FDA needs to start funding pure research, with only knowledge as its goal, to discover natural solutions to our many health woes. The FDA needs to watch over our food supply so that it isn’t stripped of vitaimin and mineral content for the benefit of corporate interests alone. The FDA should extract fees from pharmaceutical companies to pay the salaries of independent ethical researchers. And the FDA should ensure that doctors and the public understand simple paths to good health.

Don’t get your hopes up. Without public pressure, and we’re too uneducated to even know what to press for, there won’t be any positive change. We’ll continue to be shocked by sudden deaths, scared by known unknowns, comforted by Big Pharma minions who ramp up their efforts to catch a silent killer before it strikes again. And the beat goes on. For some of us. For the moment.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The world is large, its beauty indescribable

David is off to China. I wish I could change his mind and make him stay here. I tried, but he laughed, thinking I wasn't serious.

I know he'll have a great time. His eyes will be opened, and he'll never view the world in the same way. I just wish China weren't so far away. And I wish he didn't have asthma. And that China had cleaner air. And that he wasn't allergic to peanuts. And that he didn't have stitches in his head. And that I was going with him, to keep him safe and make sure he isn't lonely. Or uncomfortable. Or nervous. Or bothered in any way.

Come to think of it, maybe it will be easier for him to breathe polluted Chinese air, than to be smothered by me at home ;-(

Father's Day

A father sat with bowed head in his aloneness. About him clung his weeping children. The winds outside threw great scarfs of powdered snow against the window panes, when suddenly the last born tore himself from the group and rushed out into the storm calling for his mother. Yet even his baby voice could not penetrate the great silence that held this mother.

Hurriedly, the father gathered him back to his protection and for more than two decades, William Jackson Smart, alone, kept paternal vigilance over his motherless children.

Mrs. John B. Dodd, of Washington, first proposed the idea of a "father's day" in 1909. Mrs. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran, who was widowed when his wife died in childbirth with their sixth child. Mr. Smart was left to raise the newborn and his other five children by himself on a rural farm in eastern Washington state. It was after Mrs. Dodd became an adult that she realized the strength and selflessness her father had shown in raising his children as a single parent.

Father's Day has become a day to not only honor your father, but all men who act as a father figure. Stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, and adult male friends are honored on Father's Day.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flag Day

The boys climbed trees. The girls took the camera and played around in the garden. David fell on his run and needed five stitches. It's Julia's 18th birthday. At her request, we made pizza bagels and ate orange creamsicles for lunch.

Now she's off with her friends, and I am left with a dozen yellow roses sent to her by an old boyfriend. She's too young to have old boyfriends.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

One gold equals 1,000 silvers

Never mind that gold and silver are often separated by hundredths of a second. Chinese statistics reflect adherence to this depressing credo. In the 2004 Summer Olympics, the USA reigned with 102 medals. China was a distant third with 63. Gold told a different story. China was second with 32, four behind the United States. “Silver? It means nothing here; you might as well finish last,” says former Soviet coach Igor Grinko. “Coaches like me come, help them win gold medals, or we are fired.”

As China prepares its debut as Olympic host, it has ramped up its effort to win gold. The strategy is to focus on sports that offer many opportunities for gold, like rowing. Rowing. Crew. Long a Chinese tradition, right? No, of course not. But the sport offers 14 separate events, 14 chances for gold, unlike basketball or volleyball -- sports that have a rightful place in Chinese culture -- that offer only 1 or 2.

In China, very young children are evaluated for potential athletic prowess and shipped off to distant locales to train, train, train. Seven days a week for years, separated from family and community, they are cogs in the Chinese wheel. They head out every morning, shoulders slumped, exhausted, unmotivated, to play a sport that is meaningless to them. Great financial gain at one end, prison (for doping) at the other end, they work toward a predestined fate.

I am sure that the Chinese will fare well in Beijing. They have to. But the glory will be reserved for the athletes that defy fate. Just as computers will never outshine humanity's best and brightest, so the Chinese machine will fall short. The 1980 Miracle on Ice -- the US hockey team that defeated Cold War Russia to go on to win the gold -- was not about raw talent, or national financial support, or intense training regimens. The Miracle on Ice was about the human spirit, about love of sport, reverence for tradition, synergy above all else.

Passion defies logic. Love, dedication and athletic brilliance will always trump mechanization. Even when it wears a human skin.

I can not wait to see the US kick China's autocratic ass on its home turf.